14 August 2015

Zucchini, for the Win

We've reached a stage where I'm trying to think of things we need to know from Kevin's mom before her memory totally goes or she passes.  Thus the urgency to get the picture project finished and photos given to the cousins.  We've also kind of purposefully having her tell stories so that history gets passed along.

This is inconsequential in the grand scheme of things but her fried zucchini recipe was one of those things.  She's the only one in the family who makes them.  Things like this are what get forgotten until it's too late.  Sure, we can look recipes up online but they're just not the same.  Of course the recipe hasn't been written down because she's been making them for over fifty years.

So, the other evening Kevin told me that his mom had made fried zucchini and he was going over to get some.  I told him I would come along because we really needed to get a recipe from her.

First off,  the parents react like I've just learned to tie my shoes when it comes to learning something new to cook, it's not condescending but actually kind of endearing.  So when the opportunity arose to actually teach me something,  the heavens opened.

Of course, she has a specific dish that she makes the batter in.  It's probably a hundred years old and was Kevin's grandmas "every day" dish.  It looks a hundred years old.  Next came how to make the batter.  It's simple: 1/2 cup flour, two eggs, a little milk, whisk (I just had to make the gesture of "whisking" to remind myself what that word was...so not a cooker...sigh)  It should be about the consistency of pancake batter.

Thinly slice the zucchini and dip in batter.  Tap it gently but not too gently.  As I learned, there is a balance of too thick and too thin.  Kevin said "Mom said to just give it a little tap, tap, tap" to which I responded "Just a tap, a little tappity tap tap tap"  (extra points if you get the Happy Gilmore reference, otherwise I just wasted your time.)

This is where I say that I don't fry anything.  I hate frying. Hate. It. I hate the popping of the grease, the mess, the smell, the fact that I have to stand there the whole time, everything.  Hate it.  So, I have to squelch everything that I am in order to do this.

Prep was easy because she sent me with batter in the hundred year old dish.  She actually laughed in an exasperated fashion when I said I didn't have flour.  (in case the batter needed thickening)  I sliced everything up and off we were.

First few had too thick of batter. The next few were almost perfect but I forgot salt and pepper.  The last bit was not as good as mom's but getting there.  Kevin called it a success, so that's all that really matters.

Of course, I posted my "victory" on facebook because that's what you do now. I was surprised at just how positive everyone was. I don't know why, I just was.

Feeling perhaps over-confident, I tried again two nights ago.  I already had fish baking in the oven so I thought I could get it done easily enough.  Dude, I was so wrong. So. Wrong.

Like always, I underestimated my time.  The fish ended up being over-done.  I forgot to start the rice and chaos ensued.  I took the fish out and set it on a burner and moved on, forgetting that the burner was hot.  Not only did the fish begin to literally fry, the pan BROKE when I took it off.

This is why I don't cook.

But the zucchini was so good, Kevin took his mother a small plate of them so I guess I win.

02 August 2015

What I'm Doing Over Summer Vacation

Soo...Let's update, shall we?

New job is better, I'm doing what I've been hired for and funny how that makes all the difference.  I'm still unsure about my job-share partner, but I hope that it can be resolved with time.  I guess I can define it as "You're not the boss of me and I'm good at my job so step off."  

I love who I work with, many of whom I know from when I worked at the school.  They're a funny group and there doesn't appear to be the drama that comes when so many women work together. So, I would say it's mostly good. Oh, and I have the last week of August off because my new work follows the school district calendar.  So, yeah!

Kevin's mom.  She's a tough old bird, let me tell you.  She's off her oxygen mostly and is able to get around a bit.  Like before, our struggle with them accepting help of any kind. Someone to help with chores = No, Meals on Wheels = No, so that's *fun*.  His dad still struggles with getting her meds correct, which makes us all mental.  But you know, what? we thought she was dead a few months ago so we'll focus on that.

Gardening...I have become Suzy Gardener.  I would have never figured this in my life, like ever.  But here I am with a little corner flower garden and a growing rock garden.  I'm actually getting excited about seeing it next year.  I'm going to be disappointed if, for some reason, this doesn't turn out well.

Next up, I'm considering planting a little garden.  I am considering tomatoes (even though Kevin isn't a fan), peppers, peas, carrots, and green onions.  Key word in this is "considering".  I think vegetable are going to be a little more of a commitment than watering and weeding a flower garden.  We'll see, I'm just feeling all cocky right now. 

I had the opportunity to ask the science professor (I can't remember his specialty...geology, I think?) about the NYT article stating that the entire West Coast being washed away when the Big One comes.  He scoffed. Outright scoffed. So, if that's any consolation to you.  He stated that we've already sustained a big quake and there was  a little damage and no loss of life or injury.  I hadn't thought about that.  Also, LA has already sustained two large quakes and are the better for it. He agreed with me that the statement that No One is Prepared was an incorrect blanket statement. 

One good thing is that the state suddenly was given a grant to work further on an early warning system.  I'm sure if someone was asked, they would state it was a coincidence, but I'm skeptical that it was.

Did I tell you that Kevin's brother backed into his old truck?  Kevin's Toyota, that used to be my Toyota.  Insurance paid to fix the front bumper, fender, and light.  If you've read this space for a long time, you'll remember that I rolled this truck in 2007 and we had it fixed then.  But they only had to paint one side of it so "luckily" he hit the old paint side.  Kevin's childhood friend owns a body shop so he offered to paint the "old" side for a little extra something-something.  Now we have a nearly like-new truck with 410,000 miles on it.  We are planning on being a Toyota commercial eventually.

We haven't been racing this summer because there is just too much going on around here.  We might go in the Fall but we'll see.  Funny thing is that we've been enjoying our Summer at home so much. Much more than I think either of us realized we would.  When we would normally be gone for multiple weekends, we have time at home.  Kevin hasn't had to work Saturdays this summer as well, so we just are having a really good summer.

That's what's happening here.  Mostly good news!  That's a nice change.

30 July 2015

This Shouldn't Be So Difficult

We have had two challenging, yet ridiculous, experiences lately.  This definitely qualifies as First World Problems, but it's still unnecessarily annoying.

First, Kevin broke our ice cream scoop.  I'm unsure how, but he managed.  So, no big deal, we were going to the store the next day so we added it onto the list.  This is where I say that we shouldn't shop together because we're both youngest children.  One of us are going to make an impulse purchase.

Who knew how many different kinds of ice cream scoops there are.  I mean, it's not a complicated tool, I don't understand why there are so many variations. I get that I can barely find the kitchen aisles in most stores but this is an ice cream scoop. 

Funny aside: Kevin spotted a melon baller and mentioned "Why would someone even bother?"  Also, a store worker tried to help us but I don't think she quite got our not complicated requirements for an ice cream scoop.

The one that was most similar to the one that was broken had a bright pink handle.  I can't even.  I know it's silly but I'm not a twelve year old girl.  Finally, we just chose the simplest, sturdiest one.

While checking out, I noticed the price of the scoop.  $15.99.  FOR AN ICE CREAM SCOOP. 

Kevin had taken a call while we were checking out, when he returned I asked him to guess how much the scoop cost.  He ventured a guess of $7. He joined me in righteous indignation when he heard the price tag. 

We totally returned it and bought a more reasonably priced one.  Which one was it, you wonder?  The one with the unfortunately pink handle. 

I'm still astounded that there are so many variations of ice cream scoops, something that a sturdy, large spoon can do.  Also, how stupidly expensive they are.  Bored? look it up on the amazon. There's one that is $34.95.  For an ICE CREAM SCOOP.

(photo courtesy of amazon.com)
It occurs to me that this post shows that we are the youngest children.  You'll see why in a second.

We went out to dinner with the kids on Sunday, a rare treat. (with the kids, not the pizza part)  The in-laws chose the restaurant, a pizza place in one of the historical districts of Bellingham.  They love it but it's not my favorite.  This is coming from me, the person who would eat pizza every day if I didn't want to be 3,000 lbs and dead.

Here is why it's not my favorite:
There are categories of pizza, by city: New York, Detroit, Chicago. 
Then, instead of the standard Vegetarian, Hawaiian, Meat Lovers, style of pizzas they have names like 57 Packard or Lakeshore Drive or Marshall Fields. 
And, the ingredients are all very similar, mostly consisting of combinations of red meat and gourmet cheeses.

This is pizza, folks, it doesn't have to be so complicated. It's just so hipster.

To add insult to injury, the pizza isn't that great.  Our in-laws were completely befuddled as to why we didn't like it.  It's like they don't even know us.  We are a PB&J couple, not a pita with hummus and organic celery couple.

This concludes the This Shouldn't Be So Difficult portion of my life. This is also where I would suggest that we need bigger problems but that ship has sailed over the past few years for us.  So, I get to pout about ice cream scoops and hipster pizza.

14 July 2015

I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet

So, there is a lot of hub bub about the New York Times article yesterday about how Seattle is going to fall into the ocean when we have The Big One.  Swistle asked me what I thought about it so I answered her and then thought..."Hmm, this could be a good post" so here it is:

I hadn't read it either but the news is talking about it a lot right now so I feel like I had read it. I admit, I was a little hesitant to read it, thinking it was going to be anxiety inducing.  It was, a little bit, but if you live here it really isn't something you haven't heard before.
From my perspective, it's something everyone knows but just...not ignores per se...but lives with.  It's like living with a volcano on Hawaii.  It's there, and chances are it's going to blow, but you just live your life.
I disagree a little bit with the perspective that no one is prepared.  Many buildings, especially since the Nisqually quake, have been retrofitted to withstand a quake.  Most schools, hospitals, etc. are required to have things like televisions, appliances, wall hangings, etc. tethered.  (many households - like new builds - have this as well) 
Plus the earthquake kits.  It seems like many folks have these (not doomsday preppers, just regular people) not only in their homes but in cars as well.  Schools and care centers are asked to have them, but it's not required.
An interesting thought/theory: BC hasn't done much about preparedness, even after the Nisqually Quake.  Theory holds that if such an event occurs, the border will effectively disappear to help pool resources.
There is an element of futility, people with ocean front property know the risk and there's little that can be done.  We've already seen the ocean reclaiming property here, without a quake and separate from climate change effects; think a river reverting to its natural course.
I'm glad she mentioned the Ring of Fire, because that's a thing.  It has been increasingly active and it has kind of a pattern to its activity.  That does make me nervous, because it seems like it will be our turn soon.  However, she did a good job writing about why we've been a bit immune to quakes like the other areas (Japan, New Zealand)  and that made me a feel a little better.  It's as if we're sort of protected but once the pressure releases, we're utterly screwed.

It is kind of common knowledge that Seattle is screwed.  It's protected by many little islands so it wouldn't be quite the direct hit that the Oregon or Vancouver coast would take.  However, downtown Seattle is literally built over the original city that burned in a fire.  It's sketchy now in areas because they were drilling a tunnel for a freeway and the ground started to sink.  Also, it's built below the water table in areas.  Nothing can be done with that.  They're building a seawall but that's not going to prevent damage from the Big One.
Now, we live on a small mountain, on the side that doesn't face the bay.  We will be missed by most of the drama.  Our house is tethered so it will be the internal damage she spoke about and the loss of resources.  We have a generator and fuel so that will get us a few days, and the family and neighbors are next door so resources can be pooled.  With the creek, we should still have a water resource.  It's the food and fuel component that is worrisome.  But that's all temporary. 
Infrastructure reports tell us that none of our bridges would withstand a large quake, so this isolates us a bit but there are ways around that with four-wheel drive.  The question that she poses is a good one: But where are you going to go?  Eastward, of course.  Or north to our Canadian friends that live nearly in the Yukon Territory.  But that's in theory.
I follow the writer on Twitter, she definitely knows the area as she spends most of her vacation time on this coast.  I believe her intention is pure, not one of drama.  She sure needed an editor on that first part of the article though, sheesh.
We still talk about where we would live once we retire.  It has gotten less likely now that there are grandchildren (grandnephews/nieces is such a cumbersome description)  We have talked about being snowbirds or having an RV and doing extensive traveling.  But this would be low on the list of reasons why we would move away from our beautiful little corner of the world.

And this is where I say that I have no formal science background so my knowledge is picked up from living here, state history, and what I've learned in school.  Also, the one non-family neighbor is a Science professor at the University here.  He's told us all about how the Earth does what it does.

11 July 2015

Only One Mike

My mom phoned the other day.  It turns out that the house next door had sewer issues and there was a crew working there.  This is the house where my mom has been keeping an eye out for the owners who live overseas.

The work required that her water be turned off and when it was turned back on, the worker came over to let her know.  Somehow, my mom ended up walking next door to see the ongoing work.

She tells me that there was a guy running a small backhoe behind the house.  He sees her and says hello, calling her by name.  For whatever reason, she chats with this guy even though she isn't sure who he is.  Wait, it gets worse. (not terrible worse, but worse)

The guy asks about me, by name.  "I'm sure she has lots of kids by now."  Mom tells him that I'm very happy, been married 25 years and didn't have kids because I couldn't have them. She tells him I have about ten nieces and nephews and that's enough for me.  The guy said  to tell me hello. 

The guy's name is Mike and he's slender, average height and has dirty blonde hair.

Yeah, she totally had a conversation with my ex-husband.  The one whom I have a permanent restraining order against for domestic violence and stalking.

"Mom, did you just have a conversation with my ex-husband?"

Count to twenty before she responds.

"Well, I...hmmm, I'm not sure."

OH FFS, mother.   This is where I breathe deep and remind myself that she is eighty years old.  And in her defense, she hasn't seem him since early 1990.

She wondered if it could be anyone else.  I told her that I didn't date any other Mikes, any Mikes that I do know/have known didn't know her and didn't fit her description.  I dated like six guys since I was sixteen so it's not like the process of elimination is difficult.  

I even went as far as to scroll through my friends list on the facebook. No one was on the list.  I asked Kevin if he can think of anyone he or we know that runs heavy equipment named Mike.  No one.

So...yeah.  That's not freaky at all.

And yes, he would be bold/dumb enough to talk to my mom like nothing had ever happened. 

Kevin was a little  taken aback.  He knows how crazy the end of the relationship got but he said "It's been twenty six years so chances are, he will forget all about you again."  I'm assuming he is right.

An old friend was at the party at my mom's house a few days later.  I told him the story and he laughed.  "I didn't think he was smart enough to run a backhoe." 

08 July 2015

What I've Been Doing on Summer Vacation

So much stuff going on.

Okay, firstly, the mother-in-law.  She's doing okay.  We're tentatively pleased that she has been home one month without returning to the hospital.  She's on oxygen and still not eating well but we've recently learned that she's doing about as well as someone in her condition can.

They continue to shrug off help and we've all had to just take a step back and let them manage.  We are just going to have to wait and hope that nothing goes terribly wrong. In the meanwhile, I work in the afternoons so that leaves them unsupervised, if you will, for about three hours.

I had to do a final exam for my ankle last month.  The doctor remarked how well I had healed after "such a traumatic injury."  It was a little jarring to hear that, again.  It's been three-plus years since that adventure started and it's kind of faded into the dark corners of my memory.   I am hoping that the exam is the last time I have to deal with that whole thing.

The photo project has stalled.  It has been over 80 degrees here for a month and many days over 90 degrees.  Not only is the office uncomfortable during the summer, I just didn't feel like it was a good idea to handle old photographs when it's this hot.

And...work.  This week will be the first normal week that I've had.  Last week was spent as training, with training being defined as lots of overdue filing.  To boot, for the second time, I have begun a job without an actual desk.  Because I am job sharing and the person is there, I am left hovering at other peoples desk.  I have to admit that I'm a little disappointed.

But I am using some of the advice from Swistle's latest posts about new jobs into play.  Be patient, look for solutions or things I do like, and voice concerns when the opportunity arises.  

I know that after this week, the job will look differently so I need to be patient.  I set a goal to finish all this filing so that it's no longer an option.  Finally, yesterday before I left I got to chat with the executive director.  She asked how I was feeling/thinking about my first week.  It gave me an opportunity to say "Well, I've done lots of filing..."  I'm relieved to say that she was a little surprised and stated "We'll find other things for you to do."

The gardening project has taken a beating because of our unusual heatwave and now smoke from the fires in British Columbia.   A few of the plants are looking pretty bad but I'm hoping to limp them through the summer.  My dream is that next Spring everything will bounce back and be lovely.

About that heat wave, I know others have rain and tornadoes but this heat is overwhelming.  We're used to low-mid seventies and rain, not a month of high temps.  You can tell that people are getting a little stabby because we're missing our rain.

We bought a kiddie pool and put it out on our deck. Then Kevin put up one of our canopies from the race car trailer and now we have a lovely little oasis out there.  We sit out there after work or whatever with our feet in the pool and just relax.  It's absolutely lovely and a foreign concept to us.

A friend of mine added me to a summer reading challenge.  I started with A Million Little Mistakes and it was very disappointing.  I actually laid on the floor of the office and read it in about an hour.  Next I read The Thirteenth Tale, which I've been meaning to read for years, and really enjoy it.  I have a book on my tablet called The Reincarnationist that I want to start.

That's how my summer is going.  Busy, full of change, and getting slightly less stressful

25 June 2015

Sometimes These Things are True

Nearly one year after stopping working, surgery, and having a horrible private sector job, I finally have a new job!  It was one of those serendipity situations where my dream job became available right at the perfect time.

Because, really, I was starting to think that I wasn't ever going to be employed again.  I heard a lot of  "over-qualified" and "had some skills you don't possess" (usually casework or accounting, neither of which I'm interested in growing skills).  I was beginning to believe that I was going to have to take a job in the dreaded, formerly unsuccessful foray, of the private sector.

Somehow, someway, I don't even care, I was offered my dream job yesterday.  It's an office administrator/fundraising/many hat-wearing, position with a non-profit school that serves developmentally disabled children.  It's part-time, in the afternoons, and flexible. Check, check, and check! 

I begin sometime next week and I'm equal parts excited and nervous.  It would be foolish not to be.  I'm gaining new friends, I'm learning new systems, I'm going back to work in the SUMMERTIME.  Where am I going to park, what do I do about *any number of things*.  You know, the usual stuff.

But mostly, it's a big, loud *happy dance*! 

I was out of town visiting a friend when I got the call.  I excused myself and took the call outside.  I was so excited they could still hear me outside.  I hung up with them and immediately phoned Kevin "I GOT IT!!!" I yelled at him.  I rarely get overtly excited about anything so this took him by surprise. "You got what?"  "I GOT IT" I continued to yell.  "THE JOB! THE DREAM JOB!"  Then he did a happy dance with me and suggested I bring him an iced mocha in celebration, as is proper etiquette in the Pacific Northwest.

So, oddly funny, I was flipping through magazines last night.  I looked through the TV Guide (because I'm seventy-five years old) and in the back are horoscopes for the week.  In a creepy cool way, the horoscopes (which are always accurate and true, right?) predicted my dream job:

I'm Sagittarius

24 June 2015

Wait, Seven Kids, Not Six

For every dark side, there is a shiny side.  After so much dark, we received a big dose of shiny over the weekend.  The Nephew and his wife are PREGNANT!   We are all so excited.  They've known for a bit now but wanted to wait until she was nearly out of her first trimester, which matched up with Father's Day.

So, if you're following along, this baby makes SIX kids.  Seven counting his thirteen year old brother-in-law, whom they have temporary custody.  Talk about a Crowded House!  I'm hesitant to do the math but this baby makes my ninth grandniece/nephew.  All under the ages of 14.

They had the ultrasound yesterday and discovered that there is only one baby.  I will admit to being slightly disappointed that there is only one baby.  After having triplets, one would think that they would be begging the Universe for a single baby but they were surprisingly calm about the whole thing.

There will be nearly ten years between the triplets and the baby.  This means the baby will be the youngest and yet, also be an only when the trips go to college, etc. Kind of like I was.  I think this is part of the reason they are so chill about it.  It's not as if the kids are all young and in diapers, they're all schoolagers now and two of them are in middle school.

We asked about the kids reactions and they were varied and funny.  The eldest (C1) was all teenagery about it: cool, fine, whatever.  C2 is excited, thinking about all the cool things they will do together, Girl Triplet is trying to figure out how she is going to go to school and take care of the baby, Boy Triplet C is "That's So Cool" while Boy Triplet P is like "Wait, what?"   The new child, I don't know the easiest way to describe him to y'all yet, said and this is a direct quote: "That's cool, if that's what you want to do."

Go back a month or two to when Kevin's mom was having surgery.  I didn't know this but the Nephew was the last one to speak with her before she went into surgery.  He said he went back into the room, leaned over and whispered "Nana, we're pregnant. We're having a baby in January."  He said she lit up the room, hearing the news.

How sweet of that boy to send his grandma off to surgery with such huge news.  He told her that she had to keep it a secret when she woke up.  Thus implying that she was going to wake up, when there was big doubt that she would.

I'm excited about this baby in a way that I haven't been with the others. Not to imply that I didn't look forward to the others. It's just after the past three years of abject awfulness that we've had, this baby is such good news.  Nephew has become like a son to us, even more than before.  I feel connected to this baby and can't wait until he or she is here. 

Babies are such good news.

19 June 2015

I'm Going to Write Myself a Letter

I am going to write myself a letter to open when I turn seventy.  It's tentatively titled "Don't be a D*ck"  or perhaps more appropriately subtitled "Accept Help When It's Offered"

We're having the ongoing struggle with the folks accepting help caring for the mother.  We keep hearing "We've got it" and "When she gets better then we can..." when NEITHER OF THESE THINGS ARE TRUE.

I keep meditating on this topic, "I'm going to be there someday" "We all get old" etc. etc.  Kevin says that we can't MAKE them do anything and he's right. 

We are trying to get them signed up for a program that can offer them all kinds of assistance: someone to come in to help, food assistance, financial assistance, medicine management, etc.  The caseworker is the husband of a friend of ours and he called me today to say "Nope."  Because of the I'll Do It Myself! attitude, they won't get past the initial screening process. 

Here is a non-quick recap of what we're dealing with:

We've had endless talks about Kevin's mom drinking water, because dehydration was one of the causes that landed/lands her in the hospital.  She always promises to try and then doesn't.  I think it's going to come down to the boys telling her they're not going to visit her in the hospital if she has to be hospitalized because she's dehydrated.  She acts as if we've asked her to set her hair on fire.

When she was admitted to the ER, the doctor stated that medication management has to change.  She wasn't taking her meds correctly and she was taking something she shouldn't be (laxative) and wasn't taking something that she should be. (cholesterol meds) My father-in-law does all the meds.  Here's the fun part: he doesn't read.  He literally holds the bottles and visually matches it to the paperwork.  But he doesn't know what he's reading (think heart meds vs. anxiety meds)  

Of course, we try to problem solve. We said we would buy pill boxes and help him get it organized. This way he only has to hand her the meds.  EPIC TANTRUM.  A list of nonsensical reasons why it won't work: the pills don't fit in the boxes, what happens if he runs out, it takes HOURS to distribute her pills (using an example of when she went to visit her sister) and we don't understand IT JUST WON'T WORK AND I CAN DO IT MYSELF!  (that last part is implied) 

The answer to this is You Can't Read.  But the boys can't say that, although I think they should. I'm not as worried about his pride when it's something this serious.  So, I walked away because I don't tolerate tantrums.  In fact, I've taken a wee break from them entirely.

We agreed to shelve the topic until the next day or so.   Two hours later, Kevin went over to check on them before we went to bed.  His father was STILL trying to figure out the meds.  The discharge paperwork wasn't formatted the same as the previous paperwork so he couldn't figure it out.  He was freaking out. Kevin texted me to come help.  I may have cursed.

I had to go over to figure this out without cursing, muttering or doing the I Told You So dance.  I was mostly successful.  Finally, I just took the paperwork home to figure out how to make this make sense to him. I cannot touch the meds physically because he has A System. And don't get him started on the one time that the ER docs "mixed everything up" and ruined his life.  MONTHS AGO.

The paperwork stated "Take two times daily" or "once daily".  While this is obvious to everyone else, it's not obvious to him; he spirals out with "But is it in the morning or the night? How do I know if she needs it?"  OH FFS.  Oh, and the nurses notated in the margins and with highlights when she had the last dose.

30 minutes later, I created a spreadsheet with everything delineated as best I can for someone who doesn't read. I had also called the nurse at the hospital for help but they were busy.  I was finished by the time they phoned back and even then it wasn't the nurse we needed.  But she did say that my logic was sound in making the chart and entering everything correctly.

My sister-n-law managed to get the pills organized into pill boxes the next day without a PEEP from him, which makes me relieved and yet, still a little stabby. The next step is to register for Walgreens online and set everything up on auto-renew.  He insists this won't work because: reasons.

Swistle summed it up the best: "It's like, nothing can solve it because everything is going through the That Won't Work filter. The goal isn't to listen to possible solutions and see what will work; the goal is to pick solutions apart and "win" by proving nothing will work."

I guess the most frustrating part is that they need help and will sometimes will voice that need, but then he gets all stabby and shouty when anyone makes suggestions or tries to help.  Logic says just walk away and let him deal. But this is a safety issue (MEDICINE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD) and we can't do that. Logic also says that it's because he feels we're judging him and that he's done something wrong.   Because WE ARE. 

Then there's the fact that he is at risk of falling or being exhausted (requiring hospitalization) because he's the sole caregiver.  The reaction to this is textbook defensiveness.  We can't get him to understand that the consequence of him geting hurt or injured is they're both in a care facility. But to him, it's simply NOT POSSIBLE. We can rationalize that it's the loss of control and independence, but we can't get them to understand that the next stop is a care facility.

On a selfish note, and Kevin has used this rationale with them, at some point it has to be about US.  We're exhausted.  We're stressed.  We are spending our free time making sure that everything is taken care of.  When Kevin mentioned "Don't you want to do this so at least WE can stop worrying and having to come help?"  They just continue to insist that they don't need it and eventually everything will go back to normal.  He even told them (bless his heart forever) "Surely can't continue to clean your house, babysit the dog, and catch the ambulance forever.  That can't be her job."

Have I mentioned she's on oxygen 24/7?  That she doesn't like taking her medicine? Or eating?  YEAH.

So, deep breath. I am going to write myself a letter.  Maybe even include this post with it.  When I'm old, I need to remember to not be a jerk to the people that are just trying to help.

18 June 2015

Faded Letters

Back to the photo project topic, I promised to elaborate on Kevin's memory book in one of the past posts.

Kevin's mom gave him the memory book a few years ago.  He looked at it then we put it away for safekeeping and forgot about its existence.  With the photo project, I brought it back out.  He looked at it again the other evening after I added photos and reordered it a little.  It has to be chronological or what's the point, right?

She not only had all of his school portraits and class photos, she included birth announcements, doctors orders (he was a failure to thrive baby), birthday cards (see, I'm not the only one who keeps/hoards them!)  and report cards.  We were both amazed at what she kept and that she thought at the time to keep them.  They moved many times during his childhood so this had to be quite the effort.

Imagine Kevin's surprise and eventual embarrassment when he discovered that she also kept (and somehow FOUND) Kevin's love letters. Love letters being from when he was ages between thirteen and sixteen.

He sat and read them with a mixture of humor and absolute horror.  "My MOM read these!" he said at one point.  They were simple, age-appropriate letters from girls that he was "dating" at the time.  They were actual letters too, with stamps and everything! It was a picture to see him, some nearly forty years later, long married and wearing reading glasses.

One is written in pencil and is extremely faded.  I offered to scan it so he could better read it and he was a little horrified, "Um, no, no, you don't have to do that..."  I didn't read them while working on the book so I had no idea what they included, other than they were written by girls.  I've read them since and they're the typical letters from that age, you know: heartfelt and utterly humiliating to read as an adult.

But it gave me the idea that Kevin resoundly and immediately squashed:  Find the girl on the facebook and message her a copy of the letter, just for a laugh.  I mean, what good is social media for if not to share humiliating memories?

It also made me think of the episode of Everyone Loves Raymond where Raymond discovers that his mother read his journal when he was a teen.  The embarrassment was acute and hilarious.  Once again, I found myself in one of those sitcom episodes.

17 June 2015

Greenish Thumb

In between taking care of two houses, babysitting dogs and flower gardens, looking for a job, and frequent trips to the hospital, I've been trying to work more on my gardening.  I have been mildly successful.

One thing that I discovered is that the grocery store I regularly go to has a discount plant section.  There are plants that are struggling for whatever reason, not being watered enough/too much, rootbound, past blooming stage.  I've bought yellow chrysanthemums that looked like Adams Family Flowers but are pretty and blooming now.  Kevin thought I'd lost my mind planting half-dead flowers. He wasn't all wrong.

I bought a small rose bush that blooms in small, multicolored buds.  I'm hoping that it will root in the rock garden and be happy.  It looks good right now but we'll see.  Next up was lavender.  I planted this yesterday in the rock garden and it's starting to show signs of peppyness already.

I have a butterfly bush in the rock garden that is making the bees SO HAPPY right now.  I'm going to find another one and plant it.  And yes, I've seen a fair share of butterflies too.  Because Kevin's mom gave it to us years ago and she no longer remembers what exactly it was, I'm going to take a photo and ask someone.  It has happy pink flowers.  There is another one further down that has happy white flowers.  So far the bees aren't as impressed with it.

There is a walkway behind the house that only Lucy uses; it runs from our deck to the back yard.  I put plants along that walkway this spring to make it look nice and not so stark.  Kevin mentioned that no one could see it and I told him that I liked walking out on the deck and seeing it.  However, only half the plants were happy there.  I think two things happened: there wasn't as much direct sunlight as I thought and because they sat on the ground it was a buffet for bugs. You're welcome, bugs.

I found something in a magazine that I'm going to try but it's going to have to wait until I return to work.  I want to make narrow planters along that fence (Kevin's already shaking his head) so that they're up off the ground.  The article lists shady plants that like the Northwest weather so I at least have a road map for this attempt.

I also want to plant some bulbs but am hesitant.  The last time I tried, Missy was just a puppy and she declared them the BEST TREAT EVER.  I can only imagine what Lucy would do, especially since it would require digging.  She's already killed the daisies I planted because she was hunting for critters.  Also, what bulbs did survive the puppy were taken out by a then unknowing Kevin.

And while I'm doing this, I'm trying to only choose perennials.  Every once in a while, I'll cave and buy an annual because OMG So Pretty but I have to exercise some sort of restraint if I want the Magazine Garden of My Dreams.

15 June 2015

Look At This Photograph...Every Time It Makes Me Laugh

The project I'm working on now is scanning photos from Kevin's mom's albums.

Kevin's mom likes looking at pictures, she always has but recently, she will spend a while just looking at photos.  It doesn't matter if it's actual pictures or ones on her tablet or someones phone, kind of like a child.

I did some research about folks with dementia and found that is a characteristic.  It's a self-soothing technique.  I thought about how to go about doing this for her.  Here are the struggles:

I've printed out photos before but they've gotten put away in the shuffle of life or she's put them somewhere and doesn't remember now.  She's not strong enough to hold a big photo album.  Sometimes she's good with her tablet and other times she isn't.  They live in a tiny house so hanging photos on the walls aren't an option.

So, I'm making photo albums on her facebook so that she can see them anytime on her tablet, they won't get misplaced or ruined and bonus: everyone else gets to see them as well.

I've done this in the past almost a year ago, her nieces asked for any photos she had of their late mother. So I made an album and tagged all the girls (4, including twins) so they could have photos of their mom.

Then one of cousins sent pictures so I created another album on Facebook for her of family history stuff.  I've been adding to that here and there.  This last visit to the hospital, I raided her closet where she keeps all her photos and albums.  I started scanning them into the laptop and posting them on Facebook. (thank god for the cloud...but my data plan is taking a beating)

Holy time travel, batman. There are photos from when Kevin's parents were teens and when she was a child.  There are baby-teen pictures of Kevin that I've never seen, or him for that matter. 

With this photo project, I'm hearing family stories (Oh, and an aunt passed away and we went to her funeral yesterday. Because, of course.)  A person needs charts, graphs, and a laser pointer to keep track of this family tree.

Kevin's mom has four sisters and a brother.  Kevin's dad has two brothers and three sisters.  Originally, one of the brothers married one of HER sisters.  They divorced and he eventually married not one, but two of his brother's ex-wives.  One of my father-in-law sister got pregnant as a late teen by a boy from a prominent family, married someone else, and was eventually widowed.  The other two sisters have long-term marriages.  All of them have at least two but up to four children.

Kevin's mom's sisters have been married multiple times.  Susie married Uncle Don TWICE, once in the fifties and once in the 90's. The one that married the brother was either married or in multiple relationships and died as an addict.  The other died of cancer after being divorced and was in love with my sister-in-law's widowed dad, and the youngest sister (who is the EXACT SAME AGE AS KEVIN'S BROTHER) has been married twice. To two guys names STEVE.  The brother is gay, but married TWICE, and his lifelong companion died of AIDS right when Kevin and I started dating.

I swear this is all true.
But, then I learned a little bit more about Kevin's parents.  I knew that he had a dalliance when Kevin was young.  I use the word dalliance because his mother insists that there was no sex. (eye-roll) What I didn't know was that they separated and that there was another, another woman who caused a second separation.
He was a long haul truck driver and this isn't unusual for drivers.  But I was shocked that there were two women and that they were actually separated.  She also said that he used to be hell on wheels (Drinking and mischief) but that was because of the friends he hung out with.  To which, Kevin and I have eye strain from the eye-rolling.  OH, and another thing: one of his best friends back-in-the-day was my ex-husbands uncle. 
So, I'm looking through a different filter when I'm looking  at some of the pictures of Kevin's parents. He was a total rascal. It was always said that it was his BROTHERS that were rascals. Ummm, no, it was him too.

You see what I'm saying?  LOLOMG.

So, anyway, back to the original topic.  Kevin's mom made memory books for the boys that included school portraits, class photos, report cards, and keepsakes like birthday cards and Valentines.  I've been able to add to Kevin's book quite a bit.  It's been really fun. (and more on this topic later)
Now Kevin's mom has stated that she wants to have the photos distributed amongst the sons and grandkids.("Otherwise, they will just sit in the closet until I die!")  This is my next step. I've already begun separating photos out for the boys but she means the photos that are in albums and not just the ones that are stored loosely are to be distributed. And what about the one million cousins?  That's a big project that I might just offer to store the albums instead of taking them apart.  Then I will work with her to make sure every one of them are labeled and stories are told.  Also, I'm hoping that tossing them up on the facebook will be sufficient for the one million cousins.
OH! And when I was posting the photos of Kevin's dads family on Facebook, I didn't know who was who.  I took a photo of the photo then messaged Kevin's aunt (who is my FAVORITE, ever) asking for details.  That was Super Fun!  She would say things like "That's my mom and my exboyfriend...NO" Or "That was Sonny's ex-wife, she never smiled" or "You can post that one, Marlene might not like it but that's okay."  (Marlene is a sister, and she's on Facebook, and she wasn't amused.)

I've found that I have to walk away or I easily get overwhelmed. There are so many photos! (Five large albums and on big cookie tin full of wonderfulness)  Also, we're having a bit of heat wave and my office bakes in the afternoon, even with a giant window.  But I've finished the memory books as much as I'm going to and I've dropped off some really old, black and white negatives to be developed.

So, word of advice: label photos with your parents now before the memories fade.  We're "lucky" that Kevin's mom's dementia has affected her short-term memory only.  She can talk all day long about what happened when everyone was young.  A benefit of labeling photos is that you get to hear stories.  As stated above, whooo boy, there are some stories to be heard in every family.

07 June 2015

Little Shop of Horrors

For Kevin's birthday, we went to the hospital.  Well, we also went to lunch and then had Carmel Frappucinos, and ice cream for dinner.  Because: Adults.

There is a Cabela's on the way to the hospital.  All of Kevin's guys at work are always talking about how cool it is.  Because Kevin doesn't hunt or fish, he has had no interest in going inside. But after passing it every day for a week, he decided he wanted to stop and walk through.

So, this is where I say that I don't enjoy hunting or fishing. I am not anti-hunting but I'm also not happy with it.  It is a necessity for very few folks these days. I don't understand it and I grew up in a hunting community.

They have taxidermy animals all through the store.  It was like a effed up zoo trip.  Looking at them, all I could think of was that these animals are in the forests, minding their own business and living their lives when someone shot them because reasons.

We particularly enjoyed the lion attacking the zebra taxidermy.  Kevin just looked at it and said "Well, that makes me feel warm and fuzzy." and walked away.

They do have a dog section so we spent time there, it was our one happy place in this store of unhappiness.  They have tennis ball guns. OMG.  I'm totally going to buy one of those for Kevin.

They also have an interior design section.  Some of the stuff was cool, lots of woodsy stuff but also a lot of horns. They also have a big clothing section, which I liked because I'm always looking for durable outdoor clothing for Kevin to wear to work.

But I spotted fur stoles.  I didn't know these were even a thing anymore.  Somewhere in my brain, I thought they were banned in Washington State.  So, I went to to look at them.  One was white and soft so I thought bunny.  I checked the tag right when Kevin walked up to me.  "What is it?" he asked.
"Umm, well. I don't want to say but it's Coyote." Essentially: dog. 
"Well, that's effed up." he says and walked away. He doesn't even like coyotes.

It was just strange to me.  I could only think: this is a whole store dedicated to killing things. And camping.  

So, we crossed that off the list of things to do.  A trip to a really effed up zoo.

03 June 2015

I'm Seeing Too Much of You

God bless whoever invented the DVR because: commercials. I don't watch them much anymore but no matter what technology brings, a person can't avoid commercials.  Even with the DVR, a person catches glimpses.

Here is where I feel like a Puritanical church lady: I'm tired of seeing naked people on television.  I'm not referring to nakeyness like Game of Thrones.  I'm talking about underwear commercials, adult diapers commercials, pretty much any commercial that airs during the day.

The "empowering" diaper commercial featuring men and women, all of whom are too young for adult diapers, is one that makes me actually angry.  First, I don't need  to see your junk. Second, no commercial is ever going to make wearing adult diapers feel okay, and third, it feels condescending. Adding happy music doesn't change the fact of ADULT DIAPERS.

The other one that annoys me is the tiny woman in the tiny WHITE bikini, going down a waterslide - because that happens - and is supposedly using a tampon right that very second. NO. No she is not.

It feels like commercials are needing a rating system.  I don't want to watch a Viagra commercial with my in-laws, or see that godforsaken tampon commercial when the littles are over. Kevin doesn't need to hear about using pads as pee pads, like women are puppies.  This is information that doesn't need to be shared. Everyone knows these things exist.

And, for some reason lately, all these commercials are featuring hardly dressed people. Because if you have a leaky bladder, or your period, or lack of wood (crass. sorry) the last thing people want is to see or be seen is nearly naked. This is not helping.

I would just rather not have these commercials. People who need these products are aware of their availability.  There's a meme on the interwebs questioning the need for toilet paper commercials:


In It

Swistle mentioned that this whole ordeal sounded stressful.  This is going to sound a specific kind of stupid on my behalf, but I really didn't realize it was until she acknowledged it.

I mean, of course, I can sense stress and tension in these situations.  I'm not a robot.  I am, however, the kind of person that can get through a crisis scot free until days afterward.  Case in point: I just spent yesterday watching television and napping.  I kept thinking to myself "Why am I so tired?"
Well, duh.

Because of my childhood, I can compartmentalize like no ones business.  This is a good thing in some settings, like this situation. But there does come that Hitting A Wall moment eventually. 
I phrase it as "Well, we're IN IT right now so we'll deal later."  Example: Kevin wondered how his dad hadn't crumbled under the strain.  "He's IN IT right now. When it's done, then he will."
Kevin is more of On His Feet Feeler.  He deals as it comes and bounces quickly.  In some ways, I wish I was more like him.

I just made a call to a social worker about getting services for the parents.  He's the husband of a friend so it wasn't as dramatic of a call as I'd anticipated.  (SWEETEST guy on the planet, btw) I managed the call just fine but then felt tired afterward.

But I found myself twice thinking "Why didn't I think of that?" during our conversation.  If I were doing case management at my old job, I would have had this stuff done by now.  But because "I'm In It", it didn't occur to me at all. 

No point really.  Just that we're all In It right now.

02 June 2015

Balance has Shifted

Well, that was a roller coaster of not fun.

Kevin's mom remains in the hospital.  There is rumor of her returning home soon but nothing has been confirmed.  We have learned not to trust rumor, until we hear it directly from the nurses and doctors.  We are still working on family members freaking out other family members needlessly.

(while writing this, Kevin said that they're sending her home today. It's 5:30 pm so we will see)

They did surgery to remove what turned out to be a foreign object, like a fish bone.  It wasn't Diverticulitis after all so that was the one good thing.  However, it was a life-risking surgery due to her diminished capacity.  She pulled through, much to everyone's surprise.

Nothing like watching your husband trying not to be an eight year old, heartbroken boy while saying "See you in a bit" when he really means "Goodbye, Mom."  Also, his birthday was the very next day so we all had this niggling thought in the back of our minds how awful that would be.

The current challenge is an old one.  She has been in the hospital long enough that she's beginning to complain.  Yesterday's complaint is that the nurse (who was curt, in the m-i-l's defense) wanted her to walk and the m-i-l told her no because she had a visitor.  In the past, we've found that she begins to complain and misbehave after a long stay.  Misbehave as in not walking when required or doing something alone she knows she needs assistance with. Complain as in that she can't sleep because the bed isn't good, the nurses are suddenly not as nice as before, or the food sucks.  It's a HOSPITAL, we often say.

Usually we end up being the parents in these situations.  I am usually direct and blunt. "If you want to go home, you need to do this. You must not want to go home very badly."  I luckily wasn't present for the "But I have a visitor" situation.  Kevin is a little more diplomatic but even that is waning.

Although this hospital is far away, it is a much better hospital than what's here locally.  It sucks a little because the best option is the furthest away. But it's good that for once, Kevin is the closest to where she is.   They provide good, consistent care and they are really good with Kevin's dad, who can be challenging. (If I hear "Are you in my way?" being said to the nurses while they're trying to work, someone else is going to need hospital care.)

They've also provided good boundaries for when she begins to act up or when there are simply too many visitors. They are exceptional at explaining what is happening, what could happen, and all options possible.  They're the first hospital who routinely lists all her health issues at each shift change and not just the one that has caused her to be there.

So, that has added education to what I've begun calling my Grey's Anatomy medical degree.

I had to stop reading Being Mortal because of the above, which has it's own irony. (and I found it in poor taste as Hospital Reading)  Now I'm finding myself anxious to return to it.  Kevin asked regularly "What is it saying now?" so it's been helpful to him as well.  I'm going to see if he will lend it to my sister-in-law in his diplomatic way.

There has been a slight shift in the power structure, it occurs to me.  Like I said before, we have become the parents in a lot of ways.  However, it's also changed between Kevin and his brother.  Kevin has taken more of a lead in this latest adventure.  He's the secondary contact person at the hospital, he's been making the phone calls, and making more decisions.

I feel a little badly that he's carrying this on his shoulders but more relieved than badly because it's gone so much more smoothly this way.  Let's just say there is less drama, if you will.

I've been taking care of the parents dog, flowers, and house during all of this.  While I need to return to work, I recognize that this is good timing.  Although, the same thing would have happened if I had been working.  While the siblings-in-law do stuff for the parents, the scale is definitely not balanced when it comes to caring for their parents.

Kevin made me cringe, laugh, and feel good all in one statement the other day: "I know you take her shopping and you do a little cooking and that's all great.  But Surely has been taking care of the house, the dog, and everything else."  When the siblings demurred, Kevin took a verbal swing with single statement of "She cleaned sh*t out of the toilet."  OMG, I love that guy.

So, I realize this is meandering and that's because it's how life is right now.  She came home late last evening and couldn't get up out of her chair, even with my f-i-l's assistance.  Kevin had to go over twice to help.  This is our life right now.

21 May 2015

Go Home, Good Boy

So, we had our heart broken on Tuesday  Lucky Dog passed away.  He was thirteen years old and hadn't been feeling well for a little while.  Like all dogs, I somehow thought he would live forever.

When he came into our lives, he was a tiny puppy. He was nearly hit by a train that our neighbor/family member was a brakeman. The rule is that the trains don't stop for animals but for some reason the engineer did for this group of puppies. Bruce brought him home, thinking that one of us would take him.  At the time, we couldn't because we had Missy already and we weren't prepared for having another puppy.
So, Bruce kept him and we called him Lucky Boy because: nearly hit by a train.

Lucky has always been my buddy though.  I was cleaning Bruce's house at the time he arrived so we spent lots of time together. I helped potty train and to do basic commands.
 Lucky would come up here and hang out with Missy during the day.  They were best buddies and Lucky was very sad when Missy passed away.  Lucky came to all the parties and family gatherings.  All of our friends knew his name and loved him.  Lucky was everyone's dog.

He had finally accepted Lucy, once Lucy grew out of the annoying puppy stage.  They would nap together in the afternoon sun.  Lucky would come spend the afternoons with me since I've been home these past few months.  We would sit out on the deck and watch Lucy going about doing all her Lucy stuff.

Lucky was a Black Lab/Pit mix.  He was the sweetest boy in all the land.  We used to introduce him as "This is Lucky, he's just happy to be here."  He would stand on your foot or lean on you for maximum petting potential.  He was everyone's best buddy.

Over the weekend, he just wasn't happy.  I kept telling Kevin that something wasn't right.  On Tuesday, he laid on our deck all morning.  His normally lethally wagging tail didn't wag and he laid flat on his belly instead of his usual stretched out and snoring.  He didn't even acknowledge when Lucy went hunting or when Bruce drove by. 

I had to go next door to help the parents and I couldn't get Lucky to come with me.  I told my father-in-law about him and he sprang into action.  He went next door and tried to get Lucky to get up and follow him home.  He got up but went into our yard and laid down.  When I returned home, there he lay and we couldn't get him up.  Bruce came to get him and he finally got up but it took a bit to get him to come along.

Finally, he went home then went to the vet.  He was full of cancer and had just hours to live.  He went peacefully at the vets office.  I'm pleased yet heartbroken that he chose to spend his last morning with Lucy and I.

Last walk home
Hi, My name is Lucky and I'm a good boy

20 May 2015

With Aliens

The television has been my best friend over the past few years.  I have become a prime example of binge watching.  I've watched the entire series of Ghost Whisperer, Greys Anatomy (twice, because: Greys Anatomy), Gilmore Girls, Doctor Who, and now Bones.  I'm sure there are shows I've forgotten, these are the ones that have had some sort of an impact on my psyche. Specifically here, though, I'm going to talk about Doctor Who.

And here's the requisite statement of I know there are much better ways to spend my time.
But when your husband works 10-12 hours a day, sometimes six days a week, one runs out of ways to entertain themselves.

So, my point.

I was very skeptical about starting to watch Doctor Who.  The version of Doctor Who when I was kid was cheezy, at best. It was regularly and soundly mocked. Even though I liked science fiction as a kid, it was just never something that I could sustain interest in watching or reading.

But I have friends who recommended it and told me I'd love it so I gave it a shot.  Imagine my surprise, I was intrigued.  Someone on the interwebs described it as "You're laughing one moment and sobbing into your sleeve the next." Yeah buddy, they were accurate in that statement.  I found myself mesmerized from go.  Also, I love that it weaves upon itself and there are inside jokes and recurring characters.

In this sometimes ridiculous, science fiction show there are surprisingly heartbreaking and profound moments.  It's poetry, philosophy, and morality, with aliens.  There are also history lessons and different perspectives on current events. With aliens. It's an amazing amalgamation of ideas and facts. With aliens.

Doctor Who is one of those rare shows where episodes stick in your memory and change the way you see things.  One episode is a story about Vincent Van Gogh.  I've always enjoyed his paintings and this episode made me view them with a complete different perspective. And cry into my sleeve.

The interwebs can explain it better than me:

19 May 2015

It's Just a Few Stitches

It was so weird that Swistle mentioned moles a few weeks ago because I had just made an appointment to get one removed when I read the post. 

My mom had one that was raised up on her shoulder that used to freak us out as kids.  As luck would have it, genetics gave me one on my shoulder blade.  It was in exactly the wrong spot for such a thing. And not hawt.  I remember vowing, as a child, that if I ever got a mole like that I would have it immediately removed.   

So, I made an appointment with my regular doctor.  Not a big deal at all.  While she was looking at the one I had planned on having removed, she found another one and said we should probably take care of that too.  So, heads up, if you ever go to do something like this they might find another one to remove.

The one that stuck up hurt a bit when she removed it but now hasn't bothered me since.  Hurt a bit as in it was about thirty seconds of a burning sensation.  The one on my lower back didn't hurt when it was removed but has been uncomfortable, not hurting, and ITCHY.  Miserable itchy.  Throw yourself on the carpet and roll around like the puppy kind of itchy.

What I didn't count on, or even think of, is Stitches.  I have 2-3 stitches per mole.  I had them for ten days.  I really didn't think that part through.  I didn't think about having bandages and all that.  All I thought of was "Mole, get that removed, then done."

Also, I knew but didn't think of the fact they will send them off for testing.  I wasn't worried about that part but I was a little "Oh, yeah..." when they mentioned it. Wouldn't you know it that they phoned with the results and one was abnormal.  Not cancerous but atypical, which translates to could be troublesome.  And it was the one that wasn't bothering me, so good call on the doctor's behalf.

The plan when this happens is to cut it more.  Sigh.  I totally pouted and whined.  Not only did it itch A LOT, and wasn't attractive AT ALL, we're planning on going out of  town in a week and now MORE STITCHES. And itchiness. 

The reasonable, mature part of me is all "Shut up and do it" but the youngest child in me is flailing her hands, stomping her feet, and yelling "CAN'T WANT TO!!!"  But I did anyway and now I have seven more days of being inconvenienced and mildly uncomfortable.  I actually negotiated having the stitches removed after seven days instead of the usual ten.  "Well, it will leave a scar" she warned me.  I just said "Look at me, do I look like I'm worried about a scar? I'm full of them."

Because, really, there isn't enough happening in my life right now.

So, recap: doesn't really hurt but itchy. Stitches. Don't freak out when they say "pathology." Itchy.

16 May 2015

Raising Parents

I have stopped and started this post over the past three weeks.  If there are continuity issues, that's why. Also, the topic keeps moving under my feet.

Kevin's mom was in the hospital, or two actually, for three weeks. She has been home for a week and has already taken an ambulance ride to the hospital. To add to her already long list of health problems, she has added Diverticulitis.  She had been struggling to breathe from the COPD and subsequent bronchitis and now this. She's been in poor health forever and been increasingly frail but now we are starting to look at the end.

Unfortunately, beyond any reason that any of us can understand, they initially went to the hospital where the Nephew nearly died, after the family agreed not to go there anymore. What I didn't realize was that she was in the exact same room as the Nephew.  Thanks for that kick in the shins, universe.  When she did not progress as they thought she would, they transferred her to a larger hospital further south.

We have had ongoing conversations about not taking her to that hospital anymore.  In the moment, they agree.  With the ambulance sitting in the driveway, there was debate.  Talk about making me want to kick bunnies.  The boys were super frustrated, as well.

One of the major hurdles we have is that my father-in-law is functionally illiterate.  So often, he doesn't fully understand the information that is being given to him.  Imparting the information that he does understand is the second challenge. This has resulted in a few "The SKY IS FALLING" phone calls that we had to put a stop to.  We have a phone tree in place and instructions that unless the nurse/doctor says "Come right now", not to panic everyone.  (this also explains to me where the brother learned this behavior)

As I've read happens, f-i-l also gets defensive if someone implies that something was done wrong or could be done differently.  While I understand this is normal, this has also made us a little nuts.

The other problem is whatever she says, he does; even though we've talked about it extensively.  She has vascular dementia and strokes so she isn't able to make rational decisions. "But she wants to water her plants/she wants to have steak/she can walk be herself"    He's getting better about it now, even he can't ignore how far gone she is, but he still will acquiesce to her at any given moment.

AND, because that's not enough, she doesn't understand how sick she is.  She *just* posted on her facebook that she wants to go visit a friend an hour away "When I kick this thing."  Umm, you're not kicking COPD, Peripherial Arterial and Vascular Disease, Brittle Vein Disease, Vascular Dementia, and Strokes.
Yet another topic Kevin and I discussed was how much to push her to eat right, etc. when she's clearly on her way out.  It's kind of like chastising a terminal cancer patient for smoking.  Yet, it affects her blood pressure and gives her tummy aches.

The hospital had them do an advanced directive and we had a long conversation before, after, and during.  My fear is that someone is going to panic and ask for it to be ignored.  My brother, an EMT, said this happens.  To add to the difficulty level, when the paramedics were there, the DNR was filed away and not visible to the paramedics.

I have also joked that I am going to have her health issues tattooed across her chest.  While the parents are able to state her vitals and provide a medicine list, (which is excellent) they are not able to list all her illnesses.  Luckily, most of the time the ambulance has been here, I am able to list off all the illnesses.  I am making a list to be posted next to the DNR for everyone's sanity.

There is finally a home health nurse coming out to help make sure she is taking her meds correctly, etc.  I was hoping for a caretaker as well but maybe in the future.  At least there is another set of eyes on her who actually knows what they are looking for/at.

The ever-so-lovely Swistle recommended Being Mortal and I ordered it because: perfect timing.  I've just started it and already feel soothed.  It offers a good perspective about aging and how people view it and what gets lost in the shuffle of life.  (like the aforementioned why are we worried about what she's eating, at this point)  It has provided a good reminder to stop focusing on what's wrong and focus on the person who is sick/aging.

Now, after all of this, the moral of the story for y'all is that parents lie to you. They fib, either because they don't fully understand and don't want to admit it, or because they're afraid to lose their independence, or don't want people to worry.  It is most certainly payback for all those late nights we've given them over the years.

15 May 2015

May Showers

Because I clean when I'm stressed out and the television has been my BFF lately, I tried a new product.  This isn't an endorsement or a sponsored post, just me being curious.

Have you seen the commercials for Kaboom?  It's a bathroom cleaner.  A poorly named bathroom cleaner, in my opinion, because who names a cleaner after an explosion description?
Well, shower/tub cleaner is more accurate anyway.  The commercial shows a really disgusting shower being cleaned to sparkly and like-new by a blue foam.

Firstly, I find the supposed immediate gratification soothing.  Secondly, it's done on a blue tile shower which I love the look of each time that I see it. Thirdly, the "magic" of something like that actually working is appealing.

One of my least favorite chores is cleaning the shower. Well, cleaning the refrigerator is. No, cleaning the oven.  Let's just say that's on my top three list, shall we? Usually, I just clean it while in it. When this house was built, one of the people said that simple shampoo is good for cleaning fiberglass showers.  He was right but once in a while a good, deep scrubbing is needed. (random, possibly useless trivia for you)

I tried it today.  I get frustrated with our shower because it looks clean in certain light and then the light changes (there are two big windows in our master bath) and you can see the truth.  I actually use a flashlight when I'm deep cleaning. What? Oh yes, totally OCD.

The other reason I tried it is that it appears I will be doing the cleaning for the in-laws from now on.  Their shower isn't quite a full bathtub/shower nor a small shower unit like ours.  (They live in a 300 square foot park model home)  The size makes it easier to reach everything but more difficult because one can easily flood their bathroom.  Also, it's inappropriate for me to just shower and clean at the same time. 


I tried it today and am mildly pleased and satisfied.  I would suggest trying it.

A few things: it sprays blue then turns white when it's finished cleaning.  It comes out like a powdery kind of substance that reminded me of tempura powder paint.   I found this a little fascinating.  Also, this product is perfect for someone like me who sprays down the shower then hours later remembers that it needs rinsing.

While it isn't huge fume-y, it's definitely wise to turn on the fan.  Also, it was a little spendy compared to scrubbing bubbles, etc.  But I think it might be worth it in the long run.

It took about three tries to get everything clean.  (this is probably because I was deep cleaning and have issues)  Here is a neat thing about it: seemingly, if it is a clean surface, it turns white almost immediately.  If it isn't, it takes about two minutes to turn to white.  This took a little bit of the "is that clean?" away. (I still totally used my flashlight)

It didn't seem to do a fantastic job on the glass door.  I can see a difference but it's not OMG so clean.  I'm guessing that's why the commercial focuses on the walls.  It's difficult to rinse it without being in the shower and getting soaked.  It may just need a good scrubbing that I can't do fully clothed and still keep the floor dry. Although using my little watering can did work pretty well.  Of course, I thought of this after I and the floor were wet but now I know for next time.

Now I have to find a new experiment...stay tuned.

09 May 2015

News & Notes

Just a quick little something-something thrown up here.

Kevin's mom just completed a three week stint in the hospital.  She came home last night and is frail.  She has an advanced directive now and there is a person coming out to the house to help as of next week.  The word hospice was used but she corrected my father-in-law so I'm waiting to see what's going on there.

I can wear sandals now.  I put on a pair the other day and they promptly disintegrated.  When I explained to Kevin what happened and added that one other pair of shoes had mysterious issues, he said they were just old after not being used.  I told him "No, there is clearly some effed-up sh*t going on in our closet."  It made him laugh and now that's what I think when I go into it.

My brother-in-law was bitten by a spider and ended up in the hospital for three days.  He is a drama queen but he really did have issues this time.  Although he did say something along the lines of "The other day, the first day I was here, three days ago? I don't know, I've lost track".  HE WAS ON DAY TWO.  Lost track, ffs. 
AND he said that to Kevin and I who got the 3:00 am phone call to come to the hospital immediately so his statement was met with raised eyebrows, for sure.

My least favorite holiday is tomorrow so Happy Mother's Day Y'all!!!  It should be one of my favorites because I get a pass from Kevin all day.  He calls it "Happy You're Not A Mother Day".  I have nothing planned until we have to go to Forced Family Fun at my family in the afternoon.  We're having KFC for dinner, like you do.

I didn't get the job I really wanted.  I held a little pity party until the 3:00 am phone call.  Then I interviewed for another job that I could get happy about and No.  I am the optimist always but my dedication is really being tested.

I've been doing a little gardening.  I think I'm going to try a butterfly garden.  The biggest challenge is to keep family members from weed-eating it.  I finally decided where I want it so I'm planning on starting it next week.  Because it looks like I'm having the summer off, right?

All of our magazine subscriptions came due over the past few months.  I let many of them lapse to see what kind of rate they would drop to.  Some of them I just didn't resubscribe.  I'm not taking them into my work anymore so they're piling up.  

Then I remembered that Amazon has really good subscription rates.  For example, HGTV is a really nice magazine for $24.95 yearly.  I got it on Amazon for FIVE DOLLARS.
The bummer is that Kevin's magazines aren't available on there but at least they aren't too expensive.

My photo wall project is slowly progressing.  I have three waiting to be hung right now.  My process is to put them on the floor below where I want to hang them and then kind of ponder it.  I  think I will hang them up tomorrow. 

Kevin's cousin just sent us twenty photos of his mother's family so now I have more to print and frame.  I fear I might have a floor to ceiling photo hallway.

Okay.  Still alive.  That's what's going on here. 

24 April 2015

Project Progress

I am getting so bored.  I am getting frustrated as well.  I'm a writer! I'm a reader!  How can I possibly be bored?  But here I sit: bored.

So, I tried this trick: What if I have to go back to work tomorrow? What will I think "Oh no, I didn't do this?"

This has only been semi-effective.  I half-heartedly began organizing our photos on the laptops and in the cloud.  It's so easy to get overwhelmed that I find if I do one file/album at a time that I am not resenting the project nearly as much.

I've printed out a few of my favorite shots and have even hung some.  There are three waiting patiently to be hung.

Every closet we have has been culled and organized.  I am side-eyeing one cupboard that tends to easily get cluttered.  It is one of those cupboards where I'm all "This is FUTILE!" because it is our version of a junk drawer and Kevin has regular access to it.

Kevin's ADHD manifests in not picking up his toys.  His workbench almost always has tools, projects, and stuff spread across it.  This cupboard is another representation of that workbench. 

Every once in a while, we will go through that and I hear "Why do we even HAVE this!?!" and "Oh, there this is." at least twice, each.  Maybe I'll schedule pulling everything out of the cupboard tomorrow when he's home.  Like, say, right around lunchtime.

The unfortunate thing about not working is that a person has lots of time on their hands but not necessarily not a lot of funds for which to do stuff.  I could work in the yard more but that requires plants, soil, and  trips into town.  I could work on the memory books but that requires money spent on supplies. 

So, I have planted pretty flowers in a corner bed that just never has looked good.  I have to say that Wally world has a very nice, small selection of flowers and plants.  What I liked was that they were clearly divided into annuals and perennials.  This lessens my frustration in choosing plants tremendously.  Also, the store I go to has a good flower person because they are always well watered and tended.  Oh, and cheap.  The best part, really.

I powerwashed our back deck and a section of fencing, next to the newly redone flowerbed.  I could get addicted to powerwashing, so easily.  It's just so pleasing.  Our large yard is surrounded by cedar fencing so one could easily spend a week on cleaning all of it.  Lucky for me, it's been raining so I haven't been tempted to go tackle any of it.

     The fences in shadow are only two small sections that need washing.                                                               You can see where it's going to be a treat to do, right?

The only remaining project is painting.  I need to paint. We need to paint. It's been ten years and it's way time.  I've chosen a color, basically a warm Tuscany yellow, for the kitchen and a few walls.  I just need to go buy paint and supplies.  Oh, and grow the taste for painting.  I enjoy it at first, then I get bored and frustrated that it's not done yet. 

Then there is the writing thing.  I just can't get motivated.  I can blame some of this on the puppy because it seems the moment I'm distracted, it pings on her radar and she heads off for parts unknown.  It's fine that she wanders a bit but if she gets on a scent/hunting, she can get far, fast.  I hate hooking her up on her run, she should be able to roam.  But writing when I'm checking on the puppy every ten minutes isn't productive. (Also: see painting)

It needs to be acknowledged that when I do return to work, I'll think of ten things that I should have done.  Or I'll resent not being at home. Probably both. It's all the grass is greener going on.

I should say that I do enjoy being home.  It's quiet, relaxing, and I feel good most days about doing it.  I just know that I'm not contributing to the household or society and that gets disappointing.  I just need to find a happy medium.

Now I'm going to go feed my Bones obsession and binge watch a few episodes.  It's a wonder why I haven't been doing much writing.

21 April 2015

Appliances are Smarter than Me

Firstly, I can finally cross off "Replace our appliances" off of my resolution list.  Well, except for the microwave, which the display went out shortly after we got it ten years ago.  Of course, the least expensive thing is the last thing we replace.

Secondly, I didn't anticipate the learning curve with new appliances.  Because: appliances.

Loading the dishwasher has befuddled me.  I didn't get a fancy one because I just need it to wash the dishes, not sterilize the kitchen for surgery.  But the racks are different and they seem to hold less.  This makes no sense to me AT ALL because it's exactly the same size.  So, clearly this issue is mine.  I have tried to make me think of this issue as a puzzle and no, that hasn't worked.

I had to have Kevin explain why the silverware baskets had lids.  I'm impressed that he knew they were for washing pacifiers.  I didn't ask how he knew.  There are also these weird bracket things on the top rack that I have no idea what they do. Other than annoy me.

Of course, this can be solved by just reading the manual but that takes the fun out of it.

I'm impressed with the efficiency of the new dryer.  I know mine was really old, probably about fifteen-twenty years old so it's to be expected that a new one is better.  Seriously though, it dries everything so quickly that I'm almost *almost* annoyed at how quickly.
Also, I didn't realize how much the old dryer was more cooking the clothes than drying them, meaning that it was running too hot and too long.

Both the washer and dryer play happy little tunes when they are finished.  I found this charming at first but wondered if it would eventually bother me or become part of the environment.  I'm pleased to note that I still enjoy it.  It's so much more pleasant than the bone jarring buzzer that the old machines had.  I only used the buzzers on the old machines if I was on a time crunch.

I didn't think about having to us HE detergent at the time.  I was a little frustrated that I needed to buy more detergent because I had just bought a big container of it.   Imagine my excitement while standing in the grocery aisle and discovering that what I had at home was HE.  Yea for me not paying attention! 

20 April 2015

Time to Sit

Kevin's mom is in hospital with pneumonia.  As most of us know, this is not good. She's 75 years old and had multiple strokes, C.O.P.D., P.A.D, and vascular dementia.  Just one of those would probably cause the rest of us to just sit the eff down but not her.  Sadly, part of the reason is the dementia doesn't allow her to realize all that is wrong. The rest is just pure stubbornness. 

The parents insist that we go about our regular lives when this happens.  It happens about twice annually.  I think it's easier when it's just the two of them.  Drawing from my own experience, the absolute LAST thing I wanted was people hovering around me and looking pitiful.  So, with both surgeries, only Kevin was allowed.  I think they feel the same way.

So not the point of this...

Kevin and I discussed this morning that it's time for a conversation.  She's 75 and very frail.  She is at the point of her life where she should watch life from the comfort of her recliner.  It's no longer time to go browse second-hands shops all day (don't get me started...super frustrated about this one...let's just say she's left unattended while shopping)
It's no longer necessary to go out to dinner every Friday.  Let's just save it for special occasions now.

A part of me thinks she will be relieved.  She is very much the person that doesn't want to disappoint people, or be an inconvenience.  I think if she's given "permission" to just relax and sit it out, she will accept.

A smaller part of me knows she will fight it, because it's a tough realization. It's not a fun milestone, like your 21st birthday or retirement.  But also, because I believe she thinks she should fight against it.  Again, the obligation factor.

The other part, that is not worrisome because I don't think she sees it as such, is she wants to go be with her sisters.  Three of her sisters and her mother have passed and I think she's ready to be with them again.  I've been listening for hints and while I believe she's thinking about it, to my knowledge she hasn't said anything beyond missing them.

I believe the elderly know when it's getting to be their time and begin small, quiet preparations. Again, I think we're there now.

The family is divided by 2/3 and 1/3. Her husband is completely aware of where they are in life and is also getting weary.  The 1/3 is in denial that we're at this point.  This 1/3 is the part that takes her shopping all day and insists on going to dinner.  (Having her get up into a big 4x4 Dodge truck "because she wanted to"...don't get me started) Their intentions are fear-based and it makes me angry.  This situation isn't about them or their comfort or feelings.

We'll see. These things can't be scheduled per se, just loosely planned for.  And after all this, she could outlive us all through the miracle of modern medicine.  There really aren't any guarantees.

17 April 2015

Generation Reconfiguration

We celebrated my mom's 80th birthday on Sunday.  It took all of Monday to recover.
My sister-in-law and nieces were responsible for 90% of the work.  I can take very little credit.  Still, I was one with the couch and the puppy for a large part of Monday.

It was held at the fire department where my dad was chief for many years.  It's a new building but my dad is everywhere you look.  Sometimes literally, as his picture and other things of his are hung everywhere.

I found myself waiting for my family to arrive.  My family. The ones that live next door and make me crazy.  The one that travels in groups.  My brothers and I were standing near the entrance and I actually said "Oh, good, there's my family" when they arrived.
It's not that I don't love my biological family.  I do. It's just that there is never some sort of melodrama or undercurrent.  Separately, it's much easier.  I can hang with my sister-in-law or niece and it's great.  I can text my little brother and it's fun.  But put us all under one roof and we're one evil-twin away from a soap opera.  There is a lot of subtext and tension.

We're not an affectionate family AT ALL.  My nieces are, I have to say.  I don't know where they learned it but I love that they are.  Once, my mom said "I don't hug you" at a family function then kind of awkwardly hugged me. 

So, when she made a show of hugging me and the family in front of all the guests, I just wanted to kick bunnies.  This is how it's been though, my whole life.  Pretend in public that we're a happy, functional family.  It's frustrating.  Frustrating that my mom probably believes that we are a happy family.  She might not know what a happy family is, sadly.  And she did/is doing her best but c'mon.  Stop touching me.

There were quite a few people there; people I haven't seen for decades.  Women that were my surrogate moms growing up. Neighbors that were my surrogate family during the summers.  It was good to see  them but I did feel myself start to get overwhelmed.  Kind of like the Box of What Used to Be, I just didn't expect to get socked in the nose with so many memories. In addition to the realization just how many people were responsible for parts of my upbringing.

I guess it was just a first moment of clarity for me.  I've built a family and that's who I think of when I hear that word. Kevin, his parents, the kids.  Our family.

The other realization I had about family was on Easter.  Kevin's parents didn't participate much in Easter this year.  As I've mentioned, Kevin's mom is increasingly frail.  She spends a lot of her time napping in her chair now and is not really able to be left alone much anymore.  An example: she snuck over to our house during the remodeling; a walk she should never take alone. She snuck because my father-in-law was next door at the brothers.

Anyway, we have become the caretakers of the parents now, instead of the other way around.  Instead of the parents being the hosts and coordinators of things, they are spectators now.

As I was taking photographs of the kids, I took a group shot of Kevin, his brother and wife, the Nephew and Fiancee, and the Niece and Husband surrounded by children.  It was a physical representation of how the family has reconfigured.  We are the grandparents now. I choke a bit on the "grand" part of that sentence, but it's true.  We are the older generation now.

One would think that this would be a depressing thought but I felt a little pleased, a little honored.  This is the family that we built together. It's fun to see it evolve and change.