21 September 2023

My Signature Color - It's Not What You Think

 Quite a while ago I realized that I didn't know what my friend's favorite color was.  I thought I had an idea but I was wrong. After some thought, their reply was "I don't really have one."  

This makes sense, I guess, because we're not seven years old anymore.  Also if you have a brain like mine, there would be categories: clothing? cars? interior design? flowers? There's too many colors to just, like, choose only one.

Then I realized that I really didn't have a favorite either.  For a long time as a child I said blue.  I don't know why other than the supposition that it was the favored color in the household I grew up in.  Then as a teen I would say black, partially because shock value but also I liked it.  

Honestly, my favorites really do depend on what the color is on.  I'm still a big fan of black.  There is a black house paint color that I love. I like black cars. My favorite hoodie is black. I wear black every day. But I don't like black fixtures or interior design. 

Years ago Kevin asked if I could wear an actual color other than black.  My compromise was purple because there are darker shades that are black-adjacent. Also, I like purple.  But it also wasn't a color I was particularly drawn to overall.  It was just a color that I chose to like.

When I redid our bedroom, I bought a bohemian quilt that is orange. Then I painted our closet orange. I realized that I started to gravitate toward orange. The living room curtains are bright, multicolored and featured orange. This spring when I bought all the flowers, I noticed that I liked orange flowers the most.  

I realized: omg, my favorite color is orange!  I like it on just about everything.  Well, not exterior house paint necessarily but overall I like it.  

Or...maybe I do...

My niece has bright orange Chuck Taylors that I love. Halloween decorations are second to Christmas. I bought myself an orange Yeti cup for my tea. My favorite dishes I inherited from my mother-in-law are orange carnival glass. My old work color was persimmon. If I think about it, orange is a theme in my life.

 Kevin is one of about three people who look good in orange.  He has to wear high visibility shirts/hoodie/jacket for work.  I've borrowed his hoodies before when I'm working outside or going on walkies on dark PNW days. This then triggered a memory from when I was really young.

My paternal grandma spoiled me while she was still alive.  She didn't have a lot so "spoiling" would be stuffies, trinkets, candy, clothes.  I was about five, I think, when she bought me a coat.  I remember I went on a car trip with her and she bought it. 

I loved it, because I chose it. I didn't have to wait for it because usually my clothes were purchased on lay-away (no judgement), and I didn't have to base my choice off of what my brothers were getting or what my mom wanted.

It was quilted, had white fur-ish collar and lining.  It was BRIGHT ORANGE.  Like really orange.  I loved it.  LOVED it.

Make this coat bright orange:

Like this. Combine these two coats. Make it a 4-T, probably 

Again, I loved this coat.  I was so excited to take it home.  It was in August and I wore it home in the car. (a Datsun station wagon, traveling from Eastern Washington back to Western Washington)

And...my mom hated it.  HATED IT.  I remember she was angry that my grandma bought it for me.  Because that is a reasonable reaction. *shaking my head* I don't remember why.   I just remember anger.  Maybe it was the color or it wasn't the right size or who even knows. I just remember anger.

The reason I tell you this horrible story is that's where I learned that Orange wasn't an acceptable color to be your favorite color.  So here I am fifty years later, saying Orange is my Favorite Color.


 So, mother-effing depression leg-swept me for about two weeks.  SUPER FUN.

And no, I wondered this too: it's not grief.  Well, not all of it. Although that is mixed in there with good measure. Perhaps it's the Fall Ennui happening a little early.  I don't know.  I do know that it's exhausting.

I've had a few days where my brain is all "Oh hey, I'm going to fully function today. What did I miss?" Then I'm trying to "catch-up" on things that were put aside only to have it last a day or two.

I'm working on healthy coping. Ignoring it doesn't work, except sometimes. I worked from bed one day while NCIS played endlessly in the background.  I made sure to do my stupid little mental health walks but I did skip a few days.  I switched off the country music for a while.  I tried to eat on a schedule but this is where I say that effing test messed up my body and I just now started feeling physically normal this week.

Kevin is in his own feelings because: dead mom and he knows I'm in the dark and twisty place.  He tries but he knows that only time will fix either of us.  So he doesn't comment if I randomly start a project or buy more flowers or forget things or have the music up loud or am watching documentaries at midnight.

Because time is the only thing that is going to fix this.  Time to heal, time for my body and brain to rebalance. Time to just be.

08 September 2023

See You in Seven Years Because You Suck. Also: Benign

 So, two things then I'll be finished talking about this whole thing. Because, I would like to forget this forever.

Also, evidence to the contrary: I am telling all y'all about this so no one has unpleasant surprises. Not at all intended to deter anyone.  I mean maybe it isn't shared how difficult prep is because it's already difficult to get people to do the screening.  Well, here's a crazy idea: make it less awful. Make it not take almost a full week to prepare for. Okay, I'm done yelling. Probably.

A listicle:

  • I had the Sutab prep and that's the harsh one.  The other pill and fluid combination is reportedly less harsh.  
  • If you have just the fluid one, put ice in it.  Or alternate Yukky Fluid and Alternate Drink.
  • Advocate for yourself.  Call the clinic if you feel like I did. 
  • Reddit has an entire thread and more about this procedure. It listed some good suggestions
  • As Swistle reminded me: "As they say in My Fair Lady, “listen very nicely and then go and do precisely what [I] want.” 

I still have mild discomfort in my abdomen.  What I mean by that is that the abdomen is tight, not squishy like the Pillsbury Doughboy.  It feels pressurized and sore.  Not like a tummy ache, not like indigestion. 

The clinic says it's 97% air and the rest is trauma and/or readjustment. It feels like it took a half a tank of air to do the procedure and they used the full tank. The nurse said to take a long walk and that didn't really help but here we are.  I've since taken Lucy on two additional walks and I haven't noticed a difference.  As soon as I eat, it feels like I lose progress.

In desperation, I did a search and  the internet said tea and a hot water bottle so I feel like an old Renaissance woman convalescing on her fainting couch.  It does feel like doing this has helped.

More importantly, the three polyps were benign. Not cancer or even pre-cancer.  So that's the goodest news.  It does harken a little "I did that for nothing" though.  And yes, I know those needed to be removed and still.

During the follow-up call, the nurse said it's up to the doctor to determine five or seven years before this test is needed again.  I replied "So, seven years then" and she laughed but corrected me.  I was emphatic that seven years is the plan.  Because she is not the boss of me.

Then I shared the horrible prep reaction and she did a little tut-tutting which felt a little like "Was it really that bad?" and I persevered. I explained that one shouldn't be lying on the bathroom floor at 2 in the morning thinking about going to the E.R.  That I broke my foot off of my leg and was all "I have THINGS TO DO. FIX IT"  I am a stoic.  Believe people when they tell you.

Taking a different approach, I asked that style of prep either be reduced to half or to a child-size dose OR not at all.  She did agree to that. I explained that the first dose did the trick, there wasn't a need for a second dose. I mean, not to be gross but it's OBVIOUS.  She mentioned that it would be a shame to have to do the test again because the "clean-out" wasn't completed. I repeated again that it was obvious that a second dose wasn't needed.  Trust people when they tell you stuff.

Anyway, I asked her to add a note to my chart with glitter and highlighter and she agreed. Then she said something about "Mention it, if you remember next time" and I was all "OH I WILL REMEMBER"


Oh, and now the doctor has really said five years so SEVEN YEARS it will be.

Also, it is the hope that in those seven years, there is a less invasive way to conduct this test. Already there is the at-home test and with technology changing every day, hopefully it will be like an x-ray/CAT scan/MRI/magic wand that doesn't violate your body kind of thing.

Poor Kevin has heard "FUCK THIS TEST" at least twice a day for a week.  Poor guy.  About day three, I think, I made him place his hand on my abdomen to feel that it was tight as drum.  He said to call the clinic but because I have such fantastic luck, it was a three-day weekend. The situation didn't feel like it was worthy to call the on-call doctor.  I had resigned myself to a "My life is ruined" mindset until one day I wake up and my body isn't staging a revolt.

Because, honestly, I've lost almost two weeks for this test.  The first 3-4 days of clean eating that gave me a stomach ache, the 24-hours of prep, the day of the screening, and now Day 7 of being uncomfortable.

I can look forward to feeling better and not thinking about this for another seven years.  NOT FIVE.

**This is where I say, again, this is a necessary and important screening.                                          Don't skip it because of anything I said and be prepared instead**

03 September 2023

Chicken Soup with Rice - September

(this one was always my favorite page)


02 September 2023

A Very Necessary Screening Part Two or aka EFF THIS PREP

 Okay, so now I've completed the screening.  It's fine, everything is mostly fine.  It just turned out more than I had planned or expected.  To tag onto Swistle again, I agree that it's important to share these experiences so no one is left surprised or scared or upset.

The second alarm went off at 4:00 pm to take the first doses of the pills.  I was working and was wearing my headphones.  I left them on, marched out to the kitchen, and dumped out the pills.  I set the stopwatch on my phone and started the process; pill/water/pill/water/pill/water/PAUSE/pill/water/pill/water/pill/water/PAUSE/pill/water/pill/water/pill/water/PAUSE/pill/water/PAUSE/pill/water/did a frustration dance/pill/water

The meds provide a 16 oz plastic bucket for the water portion.
I opted for a 20 oz. water bottle, knowing I didn't have to drink all of it
and bonus of not being made to feel like cattle lapping from a bucket.

I didn't look at the pills while taking them, I didn't want to be daunted because TWELVE. Instead, I just focused on the television or the window or Lucy and got them down.  I can't guarantee I am going to be this successful at 2:45 tomorrow morning though.  It is A LOT.

And now we wait for the...er...ummm...fireworks.  I still have four ounces of water to drink but I also took two bites of watery jello because I suspect that my stomach is also not going to be my friend as  I rarely take medicine. Let alone twelve pills at once.....

Annnndddd....as predicted, I got nearly done with the water portion and hurled.  I phoned the clinic and they said to a) take the next set slower and b) take the second set EARLIER.  FML.  However, I was concerned that I would have to start all over and so much NO.

Then shortly after that adventure, the intended effect began and I was surprised at how long it lasted. For not eating since 8:45 am this morning (it's now 6:00 pm) and eating very little over the past three days, it went on for so long that I was anticipating seeing aliens and lost socks.  But I knew this was going to be the case so no panic, just kind of sad resignment.

Now it's subsided and I have to "eat" which is chicken broth and my soupy jello.  Chicken broth is not the worst thing ever. Nor is it something I will now include in my diet.  Nor is lemon jello, lime isn't terrible but will remain on stand-by for medical procedures.  And of course, the never-ending water bottle.

This is where I say that for me the level of discomfort went from uncomfortable to unbearable and back again, multiple times.  I told Kevin that I'm never doing this again.  He tried to placate me and I said I MEAN IT.  I wasn't just pouting.  Justification for said pouting in a few paragraphs.

It turned out that I was awake most of the night. Kevin went to bed with Lucy and I watched television and drank water.  I eventually fell asleep, just to be awakened by the second Take Your Pills alarm.  I took my time taking them as advised and still it was a miserable experience.  I could barely take any water afterward so I couldn't remotely achieve the 32 oz. over one hour.  Luckily, my symptoms were showing that I didn't need to worry, I'm guessing that was because I had worked on so much water/clear food intake earlier.

This is where it went sideways.  I am allergic to Sulfa meds, they make me violently ill.  I honestly thought that I was having an allergic reaction.  My stomach hurt, all the rest of the digestive tract hurt, my kidneys hurt.  I was laying on the bathroom floor thinking I was going to have to wake up Kevin because something was clearly wrong. 

Finally I made it back out to the couch, fell asleep and slept fitfully for two hours, maybe.  Kevin woke me up just prior to the final alarm.  I was still feeling sick - nausea and pain, still "symptomatic" and now emotional like an overly tired child.  I slept in the truck on the way down then had to check my attitude at the clinic.  Because they don't deserve any wrath for something that isn't under their control.

Kevin's treading lightly at this point, not making eye contact.  Because he's never met a stranger ever and he has the face that read "Talk to me" he struck up a conversation with an older couple behind me which veered into wills, dnr's and prepaid burial plans.  I'm thinking "Can we just...like...not right now?" 

The check-in process was quick and we waited one minute before they took me into pre-op.  The one happy thing that happened is one of my favorite local artists had art on the walls.  

Ben Mann - photo nipped from his website

The nurse was a little younger than me and was my favorite kind of medical professional: kind but direct.  She listed out what was going to happen step-by-step.  She mentioned sedation levels and I told her "I don't want to remember any.of.this.ever"  She nodded assuringly and said "We can do that".  

So, now I'm waiting and I hear the patient in the next cubicle.  She sounded like an older lady with a complicated health history.  She seemed very familiar with the process. A different nurse was doing the check-in process and she asked how the prep went for her.  She had the EXACT same issues that I had, including the considering going to the ER.  

At this point I felt relieved and vindicated.  I'm usually the very definition of stoic and this was so not how I deal with these types of things.  The nurse returned to me and started her process for the procedure: i.v. pulse ox, blood pressure, etc.. She asked how I was feeling and I explained that I was miserable, still feeling sick and in pain. She was sympathetic but my brain says she doesn't believe me (even if she did) so I mentioned that the lady next door reported the same issues. (so much for HIPAA laws, btw)  

The nurse, to her credit, lowered her voice and shared that they had a many complaints about that style of prep.  Again, I felt vindicated and validation and also: frustrated.  I asked her to note that it not be prescribed to me again and she agreed.

She left, I napped then they rolled me back to the operating room.  I rolled over as instructed, which is actually how I sleep anyway and I went to sleep.  I remember nothing of the procedure.  I woke up to the nurse asking me if I wanted Kevin to come and next thing I knew, he was sitting next to me and it was time to leave.

It turns out that they removed three tiny polyps and sent them for testing.  Odds are it's nothing to worry about BUT - no pun intended, but funny - it now means that I have to rescreen in as little as three years, possible five.  Right now, that is a no.  More on that in a minute.

I opted for walking out instead of using a wheelchair and of course, I stumbled.  The nurse looked skeptical and I laughed "That would have happened without sedation" and Kevin agreed.  

We stopped at the starbucks to get a white chocolate iced mocha and chocolate croissant then I did the little seat happy dance to have food.  Once we got home Kevin went out to the shop because I needed space after all of that.  My stomach/internal organs were still aching but I felt like doing chores or something instead of laying back down for a while. 

Well, that found me under my desk rerouting the cords to my computer, printer, router, lamps, etc.  It also included Kevin cutting a whole in the kickplate of my desk so I could do this.  Yesterday I think I could have gotten him to do anything for me.  lolsigh.

Once that was done, I did nap for a bit as my abdomen was still tight and aching.  Kevin woke me up and asked what I wanted to do for dinner.  Also, that he had scheduled a haircut for 4:00.  My choice was snoozle on the couch and he would bring me whatever I wanted for dinner or I could go and choose which restaurant.  I felt good enough to go so we went.  We sat outside at the marina at one of my favorite restaurants, I had prawns and steamed vegetables that were so GOOD.  

Then by the time we returned home, I was feeling sick again.  I "recycled" my dinner and I have to mention that it hurt. Not the expected kind of hurt because of all the "activity" if you will - and yes, that too, but hurt then ache like before and probably where I now have little cuts or stitches.  I took some ibuprofen (as directed) and laid down on the couch.  

I remarkably slept through the night and slept in.  My stomach doesn't hurt, nor my kidneys but my abdomen remains tight and sore.  The clinic phoned to check in and I missed the call.  I phoned them back and they're closed because Saturday.  It's not enough to call the on-call but I will phone them on Tuesday.

Kevin asked how I was feeling and I said marginally better, still not "normal"  I told him that I don't see myself doing this again, it was so miserable.  He understands but demurred a little.  I explained the laying on the floor thinking about going to the E.R. and he agreed that I need to talk with the doctor.

So, now, I went and read my medical records because I'm a huge nerd.  It turns out that they used a pediatric scope.  I continually forget that I am child-sized.  Child-size glasses, child sized anything medical.  Did you just think what I thought?

I wonder if I need the child-size dosage of the prep stuff.  The wonder has merit as I was symptomatically good after my first prep.  I really didn't need a second one.  All the second one did was make it painful and miserable.

So I'll be asking THAT on Monday as well.  

With that, for me though, it's a hard pass until there are better prep procedures for this. I will do the other style of test, which I've done before, instead. I thought that maybe today my attitude about this would be different and instead I feel more steadfast.  That's how sick and in pain I felt.

While there is another way to check that is less invasive and traumatic to the body and psyche, I will opt for that.  Yes, it's not as thorough or proactive AND it didn't literally ruin my life for days.   If I have to do it, I will opt for the gallon of yukky stuff but I still will have grave concerns about the whole prep process.  

Despite all that being said, schedule your colonoscopy, it is important. It might just be me that had this experience. I'm allergic to everything, I don't take medicine usually, it could just be me. It could just be that prescription of Prep.  

Go prepared with questions and concerns and know that it is your choice.  Use this and Swistles post as a guide to help assuage your concerns and know what questions to ask.


A Very Necessary Screening Part One

 My mother-in-law has been gone for 96 days and it doesn't feel like it's been that long.  But I know it's been a few months because I'm almost caught up on all my health exams.  (like how I made that about me?  You though "Oh gawd, she's talking about death again"  FOOLED YOU)

I had put off all my health exams for the past almost two years. Between the pandemic, the in-laws, and everything else, there just didn't feel like there was time to get them completed.  Now I only have three out of six appointments left: dentist, two-year eye surgery follow-up and perhaps the most awful routine appointment that there is: colonoscopy.

So, this is where I say that the ever-so-lovely Swistle documented her adventure on the social media last month.  We did not coordinate this, it was just a strange coincidence.

And thank the universe that she shared her information because it saved me from burning everything down on Tuesday.  I was a FULL MOOD.

Today is when the "fun" starts. This is my itinerary:


 I was feeling lucky that the doctor prescribed the meds instead of the gallon of yuck prep method.  UNTIL I see that I have to eat clean/low fiber for THREE days prior. Cue me going to the grocery store because I had stuff for one day.  BUT I'm not drinking the yukky stuff.  AND I will liberally  remind myself that "Swistle had to drink the yukky stuff"  lolsigh.  

THEN I picked up the meds and SIGH.  I almost want the yucky stuff.  TWELVE PILLS the size of a nickel, if it were rolled in half.  TWELVE.  With 32 oz. of water within an hour of taking the pills which take FIFTEEN minutes to take....AND THEN do it again six hours later, which is conveniently timed for 2:45 in the morning.  So much sighing.  And no, they cannot be crushed or cut. 

The prescribed diet is basically all stuff I don't eat because it gives me a stomach ache.  I'm guessing that I'm gluten and/or lactose intolerant or something. *eyerolling myself* Or it's high in salt.  ACK.  Then it feels like it's adding to the disordered eating that the alphabet brain does and DOUBLE ACK.

THEN Kevin came home yesterday and asked what was for dinner and I legitimately wanted to punch him in the face.  MYGAWDMAN.  I told him that he will need to buy dinner tomorrow because No.

Today I ate at 8:45 am, just prior to the 9:00 deadline.  I followed the instructions and had eggs and toast and a few bites of cottage cheese.  Then I doused myself with 16 oz. of water just for good measure.

I took Lucy for walkies because my mental health needed an adjustment and I admit it helped.  Also, I had to do it early because I knew I wouldn't be feeling well this afternoon, prior to the pill taking and most certainly afterward.

The plan is to sleep on the couch tonight but now I'm considering setting up the air mattress.  I don't want to keep/wake up Kevin eleventy times during the night. The couch has television, the air mattress would have Lucy.  (it would be in my office)  Or maybe a combination of both could work.

The saving grace today is that the clear diet allows carbonated drinks.  I made myself a Lotus drink, using blue Lotus because purple, orange, and red are banned.  I chose Blue Raspberry flavor because I don't like Apple and the Kiwi is so TART.  All the other flavors are red/purple/orange or Pineapple.

Also, now it makes sense that my m-i-l's last advice to me was about making jello.  I have two bowls made, one yellow and one green.  One I made correctly, the other one I added too much water.  It's vaguely lemon.  

Starch is not my friend, salt is not my friend. If nothing else, this has shown me that I must eat pretty well regularly.  I eat raw and frozen vegetables, I eat a lot of colors of food.  On the high-fiber/clean diet, I've had a stomach ache all week and it's not just anxiety.  Although my anxiety is at 7, probably.

This is where I say this is a very necessary screening and everyone should do it. It's IMPORTANT.

This is also where I say that Ugh, I'm so PUT OUT about this colonoscopy prep process. I mean, it's the not eating, then the meds, and no sleep because the second set of meds are at 2:45 in the morning, then the whole thing. Also, you have to have a driver which is terrible timing for Kevin to take off and the siblings will be gone (that's a whole other story)  My point is that: It really is no wonder why people don't do this test. 

I guess I'll be happy when I'm in the clear or relieved if there is something wrong and they caught it.  BUT STILL: FML  I hate everyone right now. 

And now this turned into a multiple post bloggity because Ooofff.  Everything fine, just click through to the next post.

28 August 2023

Music for Your Monday

Reminiscence of old school MySpace, here's what I've listened to LOUDLY and on repeat lately to combat the Ennui

If you're on the struggle bus, click the links, turn up the speakers, and vibe


A Symptom of Being Human



And with eternal thanks to Swistle:

Odds Are

Then go outside on go on your stupid walk for your stupid mental health.

24 August 2023

Raising Parents - An User Manual

It is my hope that this list could be helpful to someone who is caring for their aging parents. Or as I call it: Raising Parents, because it's like raising children all over again with more frustration and less control.

As you probably know, it's been a rough year in the raising parents arena here. We've gone from living independently to hospice and not living at all and not independently in less than a year. And we're still not done.

Here are somethings to consider if you are (or will be) in this Late Stage or End of Life Raising Parents situation:

Get a Power of Attorney before you think you need it. Even if you have zero intentions of using it. This can be a tender subject as parents want to be considered independent and "of right mind", even when they know that they're not.

Make sure there is a End of Life care plan or at the very least a discussion. These can include:
  • Advance Directive and Living Will
  • Power of Attorney (for medical, financial, legal decisions)
  • Will
  • Agreement that Hospice care is acceptable (verbal is fine)
  • Agreement that Facility care is acceptable (as in does or does not want to go into a nursing home & verbal is fine)
  • Burial Plan - cremation or burial? service or not service? Formal or casual service? (as in church or at the cemetery or somewhere else or not at all)
If you have any of the above documents, scan them and save them on your desktop - or even your phone.  You will need them. 

Medical Advocacy:
  • Have access to medical records. If their doctors have online records then it can beset it up pretty easily. I think I had to use an ID number on a bill to set it up initially.
  • At the very least, have someone listed as a person that the clinic can communicate with. At the very least.
  • If someone can go to the appointments with them, that's very helpful for all involved. AND can be very awkward. lolsigh
Assisted Living
  • It is ridiculously expensive.  
  • See if the person has a Medicare Supplemental Plan that has a provision for assisted living.  Or if they can afford it, add it during the enrollment window.
  • Move into assisted living earlier than needed to ease transition. If possible, find a facility that has steps of care, as in assisted up to full-on care so there isn't a need for relocation as needs progress.
  • Only the expensive places allow pets but most do allow visits

In-home Care: 
The commercials make it look so easy but it's expensive and difficult to coordinate. The pandemic decimated the health care industry. We found it difficult to get consistent caregivers so we opted to do it ourselves. Like the power of attorney, work on this before you need it. 

AND like the Power of Attorney, they will most likely balk and resist but at least start the conversation and plant the concept before it's an emergency.

State Assistance: see above AND know that the process took about 90-days and that's with them fast-tracking it due to the hospice situation.  It's an incredible amount of paperwork and takes follow-up. 
The one thing I would change is that I would have registered both parents at the same time instead of just one.

Self Care:
  • Search the internet or shamazon for "Adaptive clothing". We bought nightgowns for the m-i-l and it was a game changer. Now we also have special shoes for the f-i-l as well.
  • Installing a bidet can reduce infections and improve self-care. I found this mind blowing and very proactive.

Safety Proofing the House
  • Address trip hazards - rugs, cords, etc. Be prepared to hear "But my rugs..." and "I don't trip"
  •  Install grab bars in the bathroom, next to the bed or their chair, if possible. 
  • Locate everything within easy reach, as in no stooping or needing a stool or ladder. 
  • Decrease your stuff, in general.
We were "lucky" that we all lived together and it was easy to pop-in to check on them.  Once you get to this stage, it has to be a priority.  
    Things to notice:
  • Cleanliness of the house
  • Any odor (think urine, not just dirt)
  • Stacks of papers or envelopes - are they struggling with paying bills or managing paperwork?
  • Casually check the fridge
  • Ask about medications and make sure there is a system. 
    • PillPack via amazon is amazing. It doesn't work well if there are a lot of med changes though
  • Just an overall wellness and mental health vibe check.  Ask the hard questions.

Things You Won't Think about Until You Need Them:
  • Access to med records
  • Bank access so everything can be set for auto-pay and it can be monitored for fraud or weird purchases or accounts they didn't know they had or no longer need.
  • File cabinet location(s)- where do they keep all of their paperwork. Think insurance info, life insurance/burial plans, legal paperwork.

Chore and Supervision Division:

If you have siblings, know that one of you are going to bear the brunt of the work. It's just how it works out and it doesn't make anyone right or wrong, even though it feels like that.

Someone has to be the point person for the doctors and emergency department and hospital and care facility. If you can, make it one person or it turns into a bad version of the children's game Telephone.

The phone calls are relentless, especially if Hospice is a thing. Just know that moving forward.  Choose a mellow/soothing ringtone because you're going to hear it a lot.  Also: think of hearing it in the middle of the night.

Decision Making and Communication:
  • We asked the siblings TWICE when there was any sort of a decision to be made. That ensured there was no confusion about anything.
  • Even if someone says "Oh, they wouldn't want that" or "They can't help" ASK, don't assume.  Let that person decide.
  • Use social media, messaging, and texting to communicate.  It makes it so much easier than multiple phone calls. One message reaches many people and there's no mis-interpretation.

  • Keep a notebook for all the appointments, conversations, changes, information.  TRUST ME. 
  • Keep a binder for all of the forms and legal documents
  • If you have any of the above listed documents, scan them and save them on your desktop - or even your phone.  You will need them. 
Now, I know that not everyone is wired like me. HOWEVER, think about the obituary before you're in the sad space. Ask any questions you might have. I had to trick my m-i-l to get information. As in "I know what day you got married but I don't know WHERE."
Think about it as writing a story about their life.

Also, know that obituaries in newspapers are offensively expensive. The funeral home will post one for free and it stays forever. We used social media and it mostly worked.

List for AFTER someone has passed:
Hospice gave me a list and so did the funeral home. I spent a few hours each over two days making sure we did everything. All in all, it took about a week for everything to finalize.
  • Contact the doctors. I just emailed the primary doctors via the clinic portal.
  • Be prepared to wait for the funeral home and death certificates. Television makes it seem like it happens quickly.
  • Phone - shut if off but remember to back up contacts and photos, etc. before you do.
  • Electronics - back up any photos or documents.
  • Social Media. Make facebook a legacy account instead of deleting it. It's nice to have.
  • Email - I kept the email active but changed it to my father-in-law's name and I monitor it.
  • Run a credit report to make sure all the accounts are known.
  • Contact Voter Registration - the courthouse was Very Appreciative of the notice.
  • Stop mail or stop junk mail/credit offers/etc.

Finally there are two things that I need to also share and they're equally important:

You have to have the hard conversations about money and care, and all of it.  It's no fun and people get sad or angry or frustrated or all of those and that's okay.  It has to happen.  Otherwise, everyone will be caught unprepared and it's the worst kind of surprise.  It also can help avoid resentment and anger later.

When people melt-down, emotionally, it is rarely about The Thing they say they're upset about.  Example: my father-in-law had a melt-down about not being able to "do paperwork" - i.e. bills, medical docs.  It was 100% not about that but that he was hours from losing his wife.  But the "doing paperwork" was what he could verbalize and/or that's what he fixated onto.  
It's rarely about The Thing, it's about the loss.  Loss of autonomy, control, their loved one, their things, their home; any or all of those.

I hope that our experience and my nerdery will help guide you if you are raising parents or will be in the future.  It can also serve as a self-guidebook to prepare yourself as you and/or your partner ages.

Raising parents is not for the weak.  Ask for help. I hope this helps.

18 August 2023

Cooking with Mom

 When I cleaned out the cupboards, outside pantry, refrigerator, and freezer of the parents house, there was a LOT of sighing, cursing, and general disbelief.  So much expired food or food that they shouldn't have or any configuration of What the Actual...

I brought home jello cups that the mother used to take pills with.  It was also a sneaky way to get hydration in her without her knowing. (handy tip, btw. It's not sustainable but it helps a little)  Kevin calls it a "bowl of water" after eating too much prior to bedtime, lol.

Kevin tried them and discovered that he loves the sugar free strawberry.  His only complaint was the cups were so small.  On the next shopping order, I included jello that has to be made.  It turned out okay, I mean it's jello.  What can go wrong?

Well, the second attempt was....chewy.  It tasted fine but the texture was not jello-y.  When Kevin asked what happened, I simply pointed at myself.  Then muttered that I probably boiled it too much or not enough or whatever.

He was momentarily stunned into silence.  "You...let me get this right...You...burnt? water?  You burnt the unburnable?"

Now I'm laughing so hard that tears are streaming.  This is happening right in the Thick of It. Emotions were high.

A few days later, we were visiting with the mother and I mentioned that Kevin liked her jello cups.  This pleased her because one of the things she so worried about was Her Things Getting Wasted.

Then Kevin says in his Kevin-like-way.  "Then she messed it up.  She burnt water."

His mom looked at him puzzled for a moment, an expression we're all too familiar with, then giggled.

"No, you probably didn't stir it enough.  Or you didn't boil it long enough. Try again but let it boil a minute and keep stirring."  She patted the bed in a reassuring way.

And from her deathbed, the last piece of advice I received from my mother-in-law was how to make jello.  And she was right.  I didn't let the water boil long enough and it needs to be stirred for a ridiculous amount of time. (I use one song completely playing as a timer)

Now fast forward a few months. I asked Kevin what sounded good for dinner, like ever.  He got a little in his feelings and said "We haven't had potatoes and eggs since Mom"  Off I got to google how to make potatoes and eggs.

This is one of those meals that shows how poor they were when the boys were young.  It's literally boiled, cubed potatoes and scrambled eggs mixed together.

I had a general idea how to do it then Kevin phoned his dad.  He explained I was going to make "tatosandeggs" and needed to know how.

Surprisingly, he was specific and gave me good, solid directions. I wrote them down with the internet directions and went to work.

It is surprisingly labor-heavy.  It look longer than my brain had planned.  I mean, it's potatoes and eggs. I could envision her cooking it with the kids running around, because there were always kids running around when Kevin was young.  

All-in-all it turned out okay. I had the eggs to potatoes ratio wrong but easily fixed.  I added bacon bits to mine on a whim and we feasted.  Then Kevin phoned his dad to say that they were good and to thank him.  You could hear the pleasure in his dad's voice, pleased with being needed and teaching his irascible daughter something.

Finally, today I bought watermelon.  I've never had to buy a watermelon my whole life.  Because it was a summer tradition that the parents would buy it, cube it up, then deliver it in a special watermelon tupperware that she had.  She would cut it up and he would walk it over to the house after dinner.

When I closed the house, I kept both of the tupperware containers.  I tucked them back into a cupboard and told myself that someday I would buy watermelon.

Slicing watermelon is also surprisingly difficult.  I'm sure some of it was just lack of skill and probably dull knives but STILL.  I kept saying aloud "How did you DO THIS?"  She was five foot one or two on her best days.  Eventually I got the hang of it and put the cubes into the special watermelon tupperware.

I sent a photo to Kevin and he replied:

She kind of did, a little bit come back.  I just ask questions into the ether and listen but don't expect answers.  I told her today "Stop frowning, I know you're worrying. I'm being careful." 

She has made me broaden my skills a little more. Kevin has a little bit of his mom with him and I will never burn water again.  Probably.

12 August 2023

From Books to Paint and Curtains

 Okay, so.  I have to tell you: I made a decision.  I really took it under consideration, spent a whole day thinking about it; it's been longer than that but in concentrated contemplation. Slept on it. Put out some feelers.  Then I just made a decision and jumped into this project.

I sorted my books by author.  Not by color or anything else fun like that.  I thought about horizonal instead of  vertical. I thought about alternating but went with the standard sorting by author. Not alphabetically by author because I just don't have the bandwidth for that right now.

But wait, here's where it gets controversial:

I got rid of my To Be Read pile(s)  (TBR)  Well, mostly.

Gasp. Sputter. Dismay!

Okay, I know, I know. It's upsetting.  Here's how I came to that controversial conclusion:

Let's begin at the beginning: 

  • I'm sorting the books by author.  
  • I'm keeping only books I intend to read or reread someday when I'm old and can't just easily buy books.  

By putting the TBR with the Read, my shelves will have more room, be more aesthetically pleasing, and create space for new additions.  Yes, I know, I'm still going to buy MORE BOOKS and that will still be an issue.  But Right Now, I want them sorted this way. That is a Future Me problem.

Then if I want to read that author specifically, I can just browse those shelves and have the fun discovery of "Oh, I have a new book!"  Thanks, Past Me!

*Also, I'm terrible at keeping track of which books in series I have.  This solves the duplicate issue, probably.

However, there are 1 3/4 shelves of TBR still so not to worry.  Perhaps I was a little misleading...or excited about rule-breaking. 

I've acquired books of one-off authors along the way. I've read and kept them so right now, that is a shelf less than full of books. This requires them to share a shelf so that took some rearranging as I placed books back and forth, back and forth.  

Two other book-related things while I'm rambling: 

Earlier I finally went through writing from my childhood; essays, assignments, and a journal I don't remember writing. (so horrifyingly cringy, do not recommend)  I had kept a book report about a book I really liked and for the first time in too long, I ordered a book from shamazon.  Remember when they had only books?  

I have one author that I have way too many of her books.  As it progressed: three shelves reduced to two.  At this point, it feels like those shelves are valuable real estate so I will probably go through those books again to make sure I didn't hoard a book I didn't mean to.  Also, feels a little weird having Such An Excessive Amount of one author's books.  However, this author tends towards series so that just complicates this whole sort-by-author process.

Sidenote that I've mentioned before: for all the years working in social services, I prefer more light reading than anything dark or complicated. So, while not quite grocery store romance novels, or even chick-lit, not true crime either.  I'm not a huge non-fiction fan and those books are on a different bookshelves. 

I've done away with most of the old standard-size paperbacks.  Well, done away with being defined as sitting in a pile next to the bookshelf....now time has passed and I kept a few of them by authors I like and, obviously, I like the stories.  I kept the very first adult fiction book that I read...other than Flowers in the Attic...just out of sentimentality.  (Danielle Steel - Full Circle.  It was the 80's and I was fifteen)

It feels daunting to either surf the interwebs to replace the smaller paperbacks or photograph them to be replaced later. Because let's just be honest: they're not getting replaced.  If they're old enough to be the old standard-sized paperbacks, chances are they are not reprinted in the new mass market style.

Then there's the books from the book clubs that you order on a whim or it's the featured book or you forget to reply and now you have this random book.  Also from book clubs: I kept a few from an author that was/is popular in attempt to give them a try.  I find the author personally annoying so I really did just set us both up for failure there.  Into the pile they go.  Rinse and repeat for another author unburied from the shelves.

This process took almost two days.  I started mid-day on Saturday and was making headway when Kevin mentioned that he told his bff that we would go to his house for an impromptu barbecue.  I whined at him "But I want to play with my BOOOOOOOOKKKKSSSSS."  

Sunday, I was determined to finish. The thing about working from home is that this can't be the storage/clutter/I'll-get-to-that-later room.  At this point of the adventure, the floor was nearly impassable and the bookshelf mostly empty.

Of course, this is now the time to go into town to pick up a new television and router.  Welcome to living with Surely.

What had happened there was we had to disconnect our satellite and the television in our room was not a smart television.  In the Prepare for the Worse, Hope for the Best mindset, I ordered a new television so we would have something to watch at night.  The new router was just needed, Then we also had to run the cable - that's not the right word, I know - from the bedroom to the office.  The office where books had exploded. The office where the router lives.  The office where the books are right in front of the door.

Oh, and because of the possible no television in the bedroom, my brain thought that this was the Absolute Perfect Time to cull through all the dvds in the cupboard.  As a result, "my" dvds are on the bottom shelf of the non-fiction bookcase.  The decision-making factor with that was I need more shelves for photo albums and some of the mother-in-law's things.  Also: who even watches dvd's anymore?

I am an excellent decision maker and planner. 

By now, I'm fully in If You Give A Mouse A Cookie. (or as Kevin called it the other day "If you give an elephant a cracker")  There are three projects going and yikes.  I banished Kevin to his shop, put on my headphones, and set my determination to finish.

As a result, the backset of my truck is FULL of boxes/bags of books. Everything was placed on the shelf, including some paperbacks because I couldn't let them all go.  The other bookshelf was reorganized because see: dvds.  

And all was content in Whoville.

Until, I decided to fix my paint job that I did prior to my eye surgery.  Did you know that painting while being/going blind is not effective?  Hmm.  I promised Kevin that I would fix everything once my eyes healed and now it's been well over one year.  

Now, I know...this has been a lot to process...remember when I got new curtains for the living room and decided I hated the prefab valance so I had Kevin change it?  Well, there is one in my office above a giant window.  It was a different color that I ended up disliking so I had draped fabric across the valance.  This window also had the heavy green satin curtain that matched the rest of the house.

Next thing I know, I've taken down the valance and ordered new curtains.  Like you do when sorting books on a bookshelf.

Now that I have approval for working from home for the foreseeable future, I took out the box from my old office and went through it.  I put up my Doctor Who stuff, used the lamps elsewhere in the house, and just Moved In, I guess is the best way to describe it. 

I still have to rehang the rod with the sheer curtain

It has such a nice feel to it now, like a legitimate office.  It feels enjoyable to walk into the room now and it makes me want to read.  Now I'm on the hunt for a glider rocker because the rocking chair I have isn't comfortable for long sits. It's not a secret library (yet) but I'm holding out hopes for that to happen.

09 August 2023

When Something is Forced

 My mom and younger brother did come to the memorial. They arrived about two hours in, just late enough to let me think they weren't coming.  I was down in the yard when they arrived and s-i-l texted from the kitchen "They're here" and I replied "No thank you."  

But Kevin was upstairs and saw them then texted me too. I lingered because I'm still having feelings about how that played out with my mother. I realized while I was sitting there that the contrast was highlighted in neon, the difference between mothers.  In the now, there were just under one hundred people at my m-i-l's memorial; she was so beloved.  Then there was my mother.

Then next thing I know Nephew is walking my mom down to the table where I was.  I thought that was sweet of Nephew until he told me she told him to do it.  Sigh.  Perfect example.

It was as awkward as one would expect.  Not only did I have this stunning realization about the relationship just two weeks prior, there's also distance there due to the Pandemic.  Kevin tried to keep a conversation going but it was just uncomfortable. Kevin's b.f.f. - who knows my family - was sitting with us too but he was no help, he just wallowed in the awkwardness with me. lolsigh.

My brother tried to keep a thread of a conversation too but he's the smartest guy in the room - just ask him - and with mixed tones of bigotry, so that fell flat as well. More on that in a minute. Also, he's absolutely befuddled why I would be staying away from the family these past years.  There is zero self-awareness.

Earlier in the day, I had told Five that we were going to go to the creek and he chose That Moment to want to go.  He came up to me and snuggled up then said he wanted to go to the creek.  In front of everyone.  I told him that I couldn't just then but I would in a little while. "Why can't you go now?" he asked.  I awkwardly explained that I had to stay and talk to people.  He has no recollection of who my family is so they were just "people" to him.  

Because he's seven-and-a-half, he's not to be thwarted. "When will you be done? When can you go? Are you done now? Why do you have to wait?"

I'm lamely answering him, even saying "I know I promised that we would go but right now I have to stay."  "Why?" he asks again.  He's the youngest child, he knows the tricks.  He kept asking and I tried to make light of it.  Then he puts his face to mine, almost nose-to-nose, hands on both sides of my face and in a hypnotic tone says "Why can't we go? Let's go..."

It made me laugh and I told him "You're just making it weird now" and he laughed, then he wandered off.  It occurred to me much later that my mother and brother just sat there mute the whole time.  Not an interaction, not a "You sure have grown!" or a "Well, you have things to do" Nothing.  We continued to sit in awkward conversation.  

Finally, she announced they were going and kept trying to hug me. Which is so weird, we weren't raised with affection and now she hugs and it's unsettling. Also: do you not remember yelling at me?      Brother made a comment about how he didn't know how to address the card "There's a lot of people here" and I just said "It's a big family, and not everyone is here right now. People have been coming and going."  

Mom then also commented about how many people were here and I just lamely repeated "It's a very big, busy family."  I think they both might have had the realization that THIS *waving my hands around four generations of people* is my family and that it Actually Existed.  

Then cue Kevin, one of my favorite of the young cousins - and my Kevin's namesake - walking up and breaking the thread of the conversation.  Mom literally just started walking away and my brother lamely said "I guess I better get going"

My sister-in-law said that they just said hi to her upon their arrival, which is surprising because she was so worried about her during the Chastisement.  Then Mom went and sat with my father-in-law and Kevin said he didn't see her visiting with my f-i-l at all, so who even knows.  I wondered aloud to my s-i-l that it felt like a reconnaissance mission and she didn't disagree.  Or more like an item on a checklist: Publicly Support Daughter.  Yeah, that feels right.

Oh, and then later, Kevin told me that he was talking to our SUPER LIBERAL neighbor and climate change was mentioned.  My brother disagreed about it - of course - and said "We don't really know what's changing it" and Kevin said "Well, we kind of do..." in a David Spade way and Neighbor agreed.  Brother disagreed again and Kevin said "Well, in fact, she does know. Her husband is a scientist and professor." and Neighbor interjected "You don't have to be a SCIENTIST to know!!"   I would have paid $20 to see that.  So, that was about what we expected. (see: smartest person in the room.  Also: no boundaries)

I haven't heard from anyone since and it's been a month.  My nieces bridal shower was this weekend and I couldn't go for a variety of reasons. (it's okay, she understands the situation)  I am waiting for the "You could have made an appearance..." phone call.  Her wedding is in a little over one month so I'm sure there will be conversation before then.

Oh, wait, we ran into my eldest brother, niece and her husband the weekend prior to the memorial at a car show. My brother acted like nothing had changed and Niece was a little awkward but it was fine.  Then my brother told a story about how he flipped off his supervisor in the security camera and had a negative consequence; laughing like this was a normal thing to do.  I mean...what.  He is Retirement Age.

SO THEN fast forward back to the memorial: my mom mentions in a slightly judgey tone that my brother said they saw us.  I explained that Nephew had asked us to go as a Father's Day present to him  and we went to get a break from everything.   She begrudgingly accepted that answer.

Finally, my niece came to the memorial toward the end.  I think she timed it that way on purpose, if I'm being honest.  At one point, she off-handedly mentioned that her grandma (my mom) had a big reaction about the memorial and she laughed then waved it off.  So apparently, of course, the entire family knows that I was a horrible daughter, to her.  I didn't ask her about it because she doesn't need to be in the middle of the drama.  

During this, I could hear my m-i-l in my head.  "Be nice, it's your mother."  An example of the contrast: a gentle reminder versus a yelly voicemail and forced interaction.

03 August 2023

Chicken Soup with Rice - August


Three Phone Calls

 Okay, so, I foolishly thought that life was settling down.  I should really, really, know better by now.

Yesterday after a kind of busy morning, I had a lull.  No one needed anything, the phone wasn't ringing, work was quiet.  I thought that now was the time to look at my personal to-do list and see what I can knock off of it.

Three phone calls.  Simple enough.  Not really though because I've grown an adverse reaction to the phone.


First one: a referral was sent for a colonoscopy because I'm super overdue.  They never called to schedule so I called.  And...left a message.  Well, at least I called.

Second one: schedule a big girl haircut. It's been over a year since I've had my hair cut; I've been doing it myself.  It's time to have someone with a license to clean up everything.  The person who cuts my hair has retired and sold the business in that year.  I had left a message at a place in my hometown weeks ago with no call back so I tried another place.  Left a message.

Third one: this was supposed to be a simple "Just give us a call and we'll take care of it" kind of thing.  This was not for me but for the parents.  I called the courthouse to let them know that the parents house was sold and will be gone on Monday.  Yeah, that requires a form and a check. Before Monday.

Into the truck I go and travel to the courthouse, twenty minutes away.  And sit in traffic on the freeway.

When I finally arrived, I did the form, I debated the Why Am I Paying Taxes, only to discover that my card was at home and I couldn't pay anyway.  Meanwhile, the purchaser of the house called Kevin because the courthouse reached out to them during this.  Turns out: they had not secured a permit and the courthouse couldn't see a title transfer.  

Now I'm walking to the other side of the courthouse to determine that the transfer was completed.  Yes, it was but I don't know what the problem was. I just know it's not in the parents name anymore.

Back home and my phone rings.  The clinic to schedule the colonoscopy.  Check that off the list.

Then my father-in-law calls with questions and needs me to go to his bank.  That requires an appointment so I called to schedule that.  Left a message.

Finally, I called the courthouse to pay the bill.  Turns out the person I spoke with on the phone and the person I did the paperwork with are in two separate offices.  Of course.  However, I only paid half of the taxes so I can't care about that. 

And now it's after 5:00 pm.  Three phone calls turned into six and took at least two hours.  

AND the haircut place hasn't phoned me back.

I swear if Kevin says "It will slow down, we're almost done" one more time, I'm going to SQUARE UP.

19 July 2023

So My Mom Called

This has been sitting in Drafts for over a month because...just...gah...I can't even.

Kevin and I had gone into town and my phone rang.  It was the same ringtone that is assigned to Kevin's Mom so we both froze then I realized it was MY MOM and I declined the call.  

While we were having a quick lunch, I noticed a voicemail.  I ignored it until I got home because I had a feeling that I wasn't going to enjoy it.

It began with a shrill, curt statement of my name.  "Your brother called and told me that M-i-L had died last week AND I knew absolutely nothing about it.  YOU DIDN'T CALL ME. NO OBITUARY IN THE PAPER.  NOTHING."  Capitalization because she is just short of yelling.

At this point, I nearly just hit delete but I didn't.

I hear a tone shift, but still stern "So that's why I didn't call you. I'm very sorry" (that she died or/and not necessarily about the not calling, I'm not sure)


"Tell the siblings and the family that I'm really sorry."  

Not sympathy to me or Kevin.  Not a how are you doing.  Still a curt, pouting tone.  She's not done:

"Your brother tells me that the funeral is on the ninth so if you will call and tell me when it is because He is going to come pick me up and we're going to go to it. So I'll talk to you later. Bye"  and a loud click.

I was furious.  Kevin was horrified.  He acknowledged that perhaps I should have phoned her but that everyone knew and everyone who cared about us HAD BEEN CHECKING IN WITH US.

I let about two hours pass so I didn't call in anger.  I thought about what I wanted to say and made sure I had something to do with my hands while I called.

I started with "I am sorry that I didn't call, we have had our hands full and we aren't calling anyone.  It was announced on facebook and word of mouth.  She didn't have an obituary in the paper because she didn't want us to spend the money. It was too expensive."  ($500 for the full version FOR ONE DAY, $300 for a heavily edited one. $100 for a link to the funeral home & memorial announcement)

For a glimmer, she checked her tone and SHE ASKED HOW MY SISTER-IN-LAW WAS DOING.  I mean....WHAT.

I told her that she just lost her mom and she's okay but not having a good time and that all of us are struggling right now. THIS HAS NOT BEEN FUN for any of us, I said.

She segues into that she's been "dealing with" her sister and my uncle being in the hospital and they're not doing well.  They are in their NINETIES, in poor health, it's way past time for them, and they're in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA.  

And now she's teary.  

When I didn't feed that line she switched to a friend of ours who had her memorial last week at the fire department.  "I know, I couldn't go with everything going on."  She skipped over that to tell me about how nice it was to see everyone, and they had cookies, and how Rick (the husband) gets to choose which son he wants to live with.  

I am actually flipping off the phone at this point.

She asked how my f-i-l was doing and then again my s-i-l.  I said, again, fine and we're all doing the best we can.  She mentioned something about being busy and I explained that I was basically the executor and spent my time off settling everything for her estate.  And how we skipped our anniversary, the littles 17th birthday, and Kevin's birthday because they all happened about the same time.

NOT A BLIP ON HER RADAR.  Not a comment.  Not an "oh, that's right, Happy anniversary/birthday" NOTHING. No OMG, they're SEVENTEEN?  NOTHING.  N.O.T.H.I.N.G.

So I just stopped talking.  I just let her ramble and I interjected with a  yep or whatever was appropriate.

Then she asked about the funeral.  I explained that it isn't a party, it isn't a barbecue.  It's a come, say your condolences, sign the book, and off you go.  She asked if it was at our house.  (????!!!!????)  I explained no, it was next door where they lived and where she wanted it.  She asked if they needed to bring anything and I had to say again that it wasn't a PARTY.   

I could feel the anger start to swell again, with a little bit of tears. I mean...sigh....

She asks "Well, will you call your brother and tell him what time and the date?"  then she paused "Or should I?"  I told her that it's on facebook and he could look it up and AGAIN it's not a party.

Finally, I think she figured out that I was over the conversation and she said she'd let me go.  

I hung up so frustrated.  Not surprised but disappointed.  I mean, who calls their kid in this situation and yells at them?  Yells at them via voicemail?  Then makes it all about her.  MY GAWD.

I went out to tell Kevin what happened and he was next door.  I was talking to Lucy and noticed a dragonfly hovering nearby.  I just told it/her "Thanks for being a good mom", had a little weep, then went back to work on my project.  

17 July 2023

Insta Catch Up

This is when I was learning a new photography trick. 
I did a literal happy dance when I realized it worked
Trick: turn your phone upside down, set it amongst the flowers and tilt skyward

This is the big hike from last year that I managed to get to the summit
but not around the lake.  Last month Lucy and I completed the entire
hike and we both agreed it was fun but we don't have to do it again

15 July 2023

In Over My Depth

 It's hot again here and I'm not a fan...no pun intended.  I spent the day alternating between inside and outside doing little chores and projects.  

The older I become, the more difficult I've found it to feed us.  I do not enjoy cooking, don't really care about food, and Kevin can only taste like three things so he eats to live, not to enjoy.

I asked Kevin what he wanted to do for dinner. The options being I would go pick up or make something, but I wasn't interested in going inside a restaurant to eat. (my peopling limit has been met for a long time)  He said he didn't care so I went to shower.

Then something popped in my head.  A meal I have never made On Principle.  It's not something I would enjoy and it's unhealthy a.f.  I wondered if I had the ingredients and browsed the pantry and fridge in my head.  "Well" I started to think "If I don't have it, Mom will..."  Yeah. Eff off, grief.

Turns out I did have the ingredients by some magical accident.  Sigh.

Kevin was non-committal when I mentioned I could make this abomination, to my surprise.  I think it was one of those things it was more fun to tease about than to actually do.

I explained that I even googled to make sure I had the right ingredients, to which he was loudly incredulous.  "It's CHILI, HOT DOGS, and BUNS" he exclaimed.  "...And cheese..." I added  "I googled it." 

He was actually walking down the hallway and he stopped, turned and said "I don't want to hurt your feelings but I think you might be a little out of your depth here."  Made me laugh, he's not wrong.

I told him that I only had hamburger buns and he replied "You can't ask Mom anymore" which was funny because I had that thought too.  Then I realized and said "You know, never in all of my years did making this pop into my head. Then randomly, today it does.  Your mom is in my head."

Sidenote: Because his parent ate like unchaperoned sixth graders.  They would make this more often than I care to think about.

Then I explained that it would mean the oven would need to be used because we don't have a barbecue.  The reason I mentioned it is because it's so hot outside and the a.c. would have to work a little harder.

"Okay.  Oh and make sure you slice the hot dogs in half..."


"Umm, I did not know that?  That's a good tip."

"Again I say, out of your depth" and he walks away laughing.

So, it was as easy as one would assume.  I stand by my past 33 years of Never Making It and have now reset the clock for another 33 years of Never Making It Again.

That meal is a crime against humanity.  

14 July 2023

It Could Be Worse, I Guess

 Okay, so quick poll: How many times have you cried this week? 

Not the question you were expecting probably.

This week was supposed to be our Get Back to Normal week.  Instead, I was in the dark twisty place on Monday, recovered on Tuesday, then Wednesday happened. And Thursday.  I am not an emotional person.  I'm most likely to be described as even-keeled.  This whole feelings thing is a no from me, dawg.

The repair of the parents house continues.  It's been five months...probably more...and it's still not finished. The amount of frustration is increasing on the daily.

The contractors were here on Tuesday to finish the house.  Tuesday evening, they discovered another water leak.  Luckily, it was under the house and caused no damage to the house. So the water is off until it is sold.

The problem being is the cleaners were scheduled to be there and...no water.  They rescheduled and we stretched two garden hoses from each house so they could work.  It took them all day to get the house cleaned. And really, I could go back through and do some detail work. But that's not my point.

The cleaners mentioned that there was still stuff in the medicine cabinet.  In all the turmoil, I missed that there was a cabinet behind the bathroom mirror.  Then she mentioned that the drawers in the bedroom still had clothes in them.  I had just checked the night before so now I'm surprised and frustrated and sad.  Literally thought "Would you just stop messing with me, mom?"

So, they left and I grabbed a box to gather up everything.  I had just mentioned to Kevin that each time I leave that house I think to myself "This will be the last time..." and he was surprised at my naivety.  It's just that every time we think we're done, there is something that makes us go back.

Anyway, I went into the house and thought this will be quick, no worries.  Well, worries. 

The people who did the initial demo thought it was a good idea to put the refrigerator in front of glass cabinets where there were photos and glassware VISIBLE because GLASS CABINET.  So that was first, emptying out that after waiting five months to do so.  There wasn't anything amazing in there, really.  Just glassware and photos of family members.  I again got to play the "Valuable or Second Hand?" game, followed by the "Who Wants This?" lightning round.

Also, there were a few random items on the counter that I swept into the box and about ten boxes of playing cards that were on the window sill.  Then I opened the medicine cabinet, just to get metaphorically punched in the nose. There are fewer more personal things than a medicine cabinet.  More pill bottles with the m-i-l's name, a jewelry box of earrings, a lotion that she used.  It was like starting all over with closing the house.  I persevered though and put it all in the box.

Finally there was the bedroom.  The drawers are ground level so I just sat on the ground.  Two drawers had t-shirts of hers tucked at the very back.  I scooped them out and left. Of course the shirts smell like her.  A scent that hasn't been around for months, for well before she actually passed.  I kept two and put them in a ziploc bag.  If Kevin ever gets his sense of smell back, I can offer him that. So that was...super sad. 

I have been on a purge for weeks now  and I was determined to just deal with this right away.

I put the weird stuff - remotes, key chain, etc - directly into the giveaway pile.  Then I noticed that she had an air freshener that goes into the outlet that was nicer than mine.  Also, she had just reloaded it. Which I have to acknowledge that those realizations are effing brutal.  She refilled it, not thinking she wasn't returning to that house.  I put in the common folk bathroom and forgot about it.

All the meds, etc. went into the trash and recycling. I was going to toss the pill crushers then realized we might eventually need something like that.  I tossed it into the dishwasher instead. And isn't that a fun realization to have? No, no it's not.

Last step was dumping out the box of jewelry on my desk.  Mostly it's costume jewelry but one can't assume with her.  QVC was one of her favorite pastimes. Then there was a ring.  Just a silly little novelty ring that she used to wear all time.  I hadn't realized that she stopped wearing it until just now. 

As is explained about grief is it cannot be predicted.  Now I'm a teary mess seeing a little ring that is worth whatever a gumball machine cost nowadays.

I kept going though, separating out the obvious costume jewelry from the "Probably not but who knows" into piles.  I am keeping the ring though.  I won't wear it but will probably find some use for it.

After all of that, I went into the common folk bathroom just to blow my nose and blam! the fragrance of my in-laws house punched me right in my feelings.  So then I called it a day.  

Now yesterday the contractor was supposed to come out and do a final review of the house.  I went over there and made a list then emailed it to him.  While doing that, Kevin phoned and needed me to go back over there so I walked there while he was still on the phone.

And I nearly screamed.  There stands my father-in-law, checking out the house.  Probably a little bit in his feelings but because we startled each other, it was hidden.  We laughed then he helped add to the list then returned to the house.  Then the contractor arrived and we went through the entire house again, and added to the fix-it list.  This house is never going to be finished.  

Now I'm just frustrated and feeling defeated. But wait, there's more.  Kevin had arranged for an appraiser to come look at the house so we know what to list it for, assuming it's ever going to have completed repairs.  He arrived, late, and it turns out is in his seventies and on oxygen.  He wasn't much more healthier than my m-i-l was pre-hospice.  

He walked through the house, asking questions and commenting how nice it is.  I explained that it was their dream home and they put nearly everything they had into it.  He continued to comment about how nice it was and how lucky we are to have them near.  Normally, I would be all "Yeah, try it for a little while and let me know" but now that we're NOT doing it, I just felt sad.

We walked outside and sure enough, a dragonfly appeared out in the yard but flying high enough that I could see her from the house.  Now I'm teary and trying to answer the appraisers questions.

My guess is that I was so busy during the hospice thing that it's bubbling up now.  I tried, consciously tried not to stuff the feelings down in the deep, dark space during those months so I guess it could be worse?

11 July 2023

The Pokey Little Puppy

 Well, it's been a minute since we've had a Raising Parent story.  Other than that whole dying thing, I mean.

You might remember that last year on July 4th, my mother-in-law fell outside while taking the dog potty and ended up in the emergency department.  Because they were making good choices at that time and I just told someone that incident is the only time that I lost my cool with her.

Anyway. This year we had all stayed home for the evening because none of the dogs appreciate fireworks anymore, we're getting old, and it just wasn't the year to celebrate.  We had given Lucy an edible after going long walkies and she was crashed out on her pillow.  We were just talking about going to bed when Kevin's phone rang.  10:06 p.m.

I heard only his side of the conversation but got up when I heard "Which one?"  One of the dogs had gotten out of the yard in the middle of the "celebration" that was happening in the neighborhood.

It was my father-in-law's little dog; formerly my mother-in-law's dog.  Sassy.  She is rarely outside other than to potty and she just spent four months laying on a hospice bed.  She's ten years old, just a little younger than Lucy.  She's a twelve pound Shih Tzu and not well trained.

What had happened was my f-i-l took her outside to go potty before bed.  My siblings-in-law suggested to put her leash on her and reminded him that the gate was open.  He did the passive-agreement thing and said "Okay" like he heard/understood them, when he did not.

They went outside, she went potty then she got startled and took off as if her tail was on fire.  My f-i-l quickly lost sight of her.  We live in the woods, it was dark, and the siblings house is in kind of a ravine, for lack of a better description.  She headed up toward the gravel road and trees, as near as he could guess.

He tried to follow her but he's 85 years old and it's dark.  He returned to the house, told the siblings, who called Kevin, and we all went out to look.  As I was putting on shoes, I texted the neighborhood text chain to let them know.  By the time I settled Lucy back down and went outside, they were all helping search for her.  #goodneighbors

We called for her and walked the properties, which spans about about eight acres.  It includes a creek, heavily wooded places and a dead-end gravel road.  As one would imagine, no luck.  We couldn't crawl through the woods in the daylight, let alone at 11:00 at night.  Also, we don't know if she went straight up the mountain behind us?  Down to the main road?  Circled around and got lost on the property?  The possibilities were endless.

I searched "How to find a lost dog" which were suggestions opposite of what one would think:  Don't call them because they're already scared and overwhelmed.  After a cursory search in all possible areas, go home because they might be there.  Leave something that smells like their humans and food outside to catch their attention.

This is an example of where social media can be powerful.  I posted on the neighborhood site, social media, emailed the humane society, and used something called "PawBoost" which made the whole posting SO EASY.  By the time we went to bed, the cousins, neighbors, and friends had reposted it everywhere.

Even though we knew it was futile. I mean, a twelve-pound dog in the woods would just be a tasty snack for predators. The other possibility being because she gets zero exercise and all the food, it could be that some time during her fleeing, her heart would give out.  So, yeah, we had given up on her.

The next day I worked a little while then the texts began.  Suggestions to open the parents old house so she could go inside, check the neighboring county's humane society, call the emergency clinic and nearby vets.  

Now it's become my full-time job to find the dog while I watch my forlorn f-i-l walk our road back and forth.  I went to both humane societies with no luck AND I didn't bring any dogs extra home.  Finally, I had done all that I could and more.  I told Kevin that it was over, there wasn't anything we can do.  

No sooner than we had that conversation and Kevin phones me back.  "Someone is bringing Sassy home" he says with no preamble or even my ability to say "hello".  


He said that the f-i-l had gotten a call from a guy who was on a road that isn't really near here and that he asked "Do you have a dog named Sassy?"  Then he said that he had the dog and he would bring her to him.  

We were puzzled because the road that was stated isn't realistic.  And is there such a thing as "I'm returning your pet" scams?  We just don't know.

I told Kevin that I was walking down to the siblings to see With My Own Eyes before I believed it.  I mean, if it weren't a scam then surely, it would be a different dog.  No WAY did that little dog survive just under 24 hours in the wild.

By the time I got down to the house, there is Sassy panting and happy.  I admit that I picked her up and snuggled her because my gawd it's been so much lately.

So what had happened was is we don't know where the f-i-l got the name of the road he was supposedly on and we'll never know.  The gentleman was actually northwest of us, the complete opposite of that road.  He said he was working in his shop, Sassy walked in and flopped down on the concrete like "I live here now" then his wife came up and asked "What is THIS?"  

The guy was probably late sixties, maybe early seventies, and he said he had to ask his neighbor for help as to what to do.  They called the number on her tag and reached the vet office, who then provided the f-i-l's number.  

Here's the thing with THAT.  My sister-in-law and I panicked that the mother's number was on the tag and that no one would be able to reach us.  She had phoned the vet very first thing that morning to update the contact information.  If not for that, Sassy would have gone to the Humane Society to be scanned and held.

So, all is happy in Whoville now.  Sassy is a NERVOUS BUNDLE of NERVOUSNESS now so they're keeping her medicated and hoping that it subsides.  The f-i-l is unspeakably relieved and promises to never not have her on a leash.  

At one point, Kevin mentioned "If this goes bad, like we think it will, we might be planning another event"  We don't think that the f-i-l would have survived losing his wife and dog in the same month.  Let alone losing the dog because he wasn't paying attention.

Here is an estimate of where she traveled:

Those trees are dense woods

And here is the flyer that the website helped created:

Absolutely recommend using this app/site!!!

And now here's the one funny thing about this:  In my hurry, worry, and rush at 11:30 pm during fireworks, I posted the wrong dog's photo.  The dog in the flyer is actually Sassy's sibling, my aunts dog.  All of that and I used the wrong photo.

Here is the actual Sassy:

Barking, probably