25 November 2022

A Thanksgiving Miracle

 Because the universe and 2022 have conspired to just mess with me, I am "making" Thanksgiving dinner this year.  People who know me in real life just gasped/guffawed right out loud.  If you don't know me in reals, picture Phoebe from Friends being asked to sub in for Monica cooking the holiday meal.

What had happened was Kevin phoned me about 8:30 Wednesday morning, waking me because it was my DAY OFF and I can have No Peace, to let me know that the siblings-in-law are sick.  Meaning that they were not cooking or hosting dinner on Thanksgiving.

The plan was already set for Kevin and I to eat with the parents so they weren't left alone for the holiday.  Now I just had to figure out how or what to feed them. And us.

Now remember, I am Chandler Bing when it comes to this holiday.  It rates second to Mother's Day. Sure, I enjoy spending time with the kids and the food but the process to get there is exhausting.  Also, for years Kevin and I had two dinners that day because both families required our attendance.  As a kid it was one of those pretend we're a happy family holidays and it never included grandparents, aunts & uncles or cousins.

Anyway.  Not a fan.

I got up and flipped into combat mode.

A panicked search on the interwebs seem to generate a laugh, being as it was less than 24-hours until the actual holiday.  While the grocery store was out of fully-prepared dinners, they did have turkey dinners available in the deli.  FOUR OF THOSE PLEASE. STAT.

The universe must have felt badly for me because this particular store recently began having grocery pick-up.  I registered and added those dinners to the cart.  

Then, I had to sit there and literally imagine what we eat on holidays.  I never ever cook for these days so it's just not in the realm of my knowledge.  I made a generalized list then realized: so many people are going to be shopping today. 

I tried to guess what items were likely to be sold out first.  I decided rolls and pies and quickly added those to the cart.  Anything else, I can make do or we just didn't need it.

Oh, the dinners include slabs of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, and what I believe are green beans.  (could be asparagus)  After I had purchased them, I spotted the tiny detail that they are Dinners For FOUR.  I ordered enough for sixteen people.  Well done me. This could also be karma for my sass about the whole mother-in-law's $600 worth of socks order.

Then I realized that this would now provide dinner for the sick siblings and now I am a winner again.

I phoned Kevin and let him know that I had a plan and we had at least the basics for dinner. I was headed into town in a few minutes.  This is where he reminded me that he was taking my new truck for some suspension work; meaning that I would have to take the old truck.  This is totally fine, a little disappointing but fine BUT I couldn't take Lucy for walkies.  Sigh.

To the store I go.  It was very busy, no surprise, which just added to the urgency of the adventure.  I had a list on my phone of what else was needed: salad, stuff to make ambrosia, extra gravy, olives, pickles, butter.  It took two tries to get everything for the ambrosia and I also picked up a set of bowls that I "needed". (meaning: I've wanted them but had no justification for buying. Until now.)

Right before I went to check out, I spotted platter sized, Thanksgiving themed paper plates and thanked the universe for that little cosmic nudge.  Tossed them in the cart and then did a quick review of what I could possibly need.  But I was at the point of being done.  Too many people, feeling way out of my depth, and an impatient dog at home who just suffered being left behind TWICE as Kevin had already returned home to take my truck and had to leave her as well.

When I got home, the parents were gone. I momentarily worried that they were also going to the grocery store but decided that I just can't worry about it. I took everything and unpacked it.  If nothing else, I had overbought.  Again, this is just a good thing. 

Kevin returned home and to his credit, looked impressed at what I had pulled off in just a few hours.  We have had a long running joke about A Thanksgiving Miracle and he mentioned just that. (story not worth telling: a long missing, beloved sweatshirt reappeared)

The only salad, beyond green or garden salad, that I can make is ambrosia.  However, it's been years since I have had to make it.  I did remember that it's best to make it the day before so I began to do just that.  

This salad is something that every family makes differently.  Kevin's mom makes the inexpensive version with whipped cream and fruit cocktail.  She also puts bananas in it but always makes a small bowl for me because I hate bananas.  

Side note: one year she made it was chopped up SNICKERS CANDY BARS because her sister made it that way and claimed it was the best thing ever.  I am here to tell you: IT WAS NOT.  It was as horrifying as you just imagined.

Oh, and I make it with sour cream, mandarin oranges, crushed pineapple, and mini-marshmallows. I used to make it with coconut but Kevin wasn't a fan.

After all that, I called it a day.  I wasn't going back into town for anything at this point. We would just do without.  

Today, this morning, Kevin let me sleep in; much like he does on Mother's Day.  Other than dinner, I had no plans other than watching Friends Thanksgiving episodes, which has been my tradition since I spent Thanksgiving on the couch with bronchitis pre-Pandemic.

Then Kevin came in the house, looking  like he'd rather pull his own teeth than ask me for help.  His plan was to put up the Christmas lights as a surprise for me but he needed help.  I suited up and went outside to help him. This is a good way to spend the day.

By the time that was finished, it was show time.  Time to cook dinner and get everything ready.  It was all relatively easy: put the dinners in the oven, warm up the rolls, soften the butter, heat the gravy and put the sides into bowls.

Oh wait, this has always been a household of TWO.  We don't have parties. I don't have a gravy bowl, divided dishes, or any dishes that would be considered special holiday dishes.  The gravy was easily handled, it was just going to be in a pyrex measuring cup.  The bowls I bought the day before were for the rolls and the ambrosia.

Then I remembered that I had kept some of the bowls that the m-i-l had given me.  They were in the hard to reach cupboard above the refrigerator.  I got out the stool and began to rummage around; finding a crystal bowl, an antique candy dish, one of those crystal salad bowls from the 90's that I believe everyone has at least one of, and a second-hand bowl that I used for a bird bath/water dish during this summer.  

So that problem was solved, everything was dished and ready.  Now how to get it all next door all the while keeping it hot and unspilled.  Everything was covered in either plastic wrap or tinfoil.  Luckily, I had just taken a flat out of my old truck that I used to transport plants. I put a towel across it and now we're in business.  I took out two cookie trays, loaded them up with towels, stacked them, and two trips later: dinner was served.

The parents were like little kids they were so excited for dinner.  Not only a holiday dinner but one that was prepared by the daughter-in-law who pulled off this magical dinner out of nothing. (their perception, not mine)  Also, visits in their tiny house are rare so just having company was a treat. 

All in all, I had fun. I enjoyed the holiday for once. It turns out the key to a happy Thanksgiving for me is Total Control.  

21 November 2022

Math in Cups

I've mentioned that this has been an expensive year. I have reached the point of I Can't Think About It because mydawg.  It's not dire and it's "fine" and people have it worse, for sure.  It just feels like a giant step backward to me.  I had a 5-year plan that is now a We'll See About 6-years plan.

So, with all that.  Here's a story chock full of privilege:

When the roof came in significantly over the bid due to unforeseen damage, I immediately went into Cut All Frivolousness Mode.  Cut our cable channels, cut our data plan, unsubscribed from subscription boxes and magazines I don't read anymore, etc.  It's amazing how things just add up over time and a person doesn't notice.

Then Lucy needed surgeries and I really started to look at things. I had already budgeted (*hork* hate that word) so there wasn't a lot to be done. I did reschedule some payment dates and then kind of shrugged and resigned to my fate.  We skipped Friday Night Dinner a few times, I skipped buying flowers Every Friday.  We were fine.

Then Kevin...oh, Kevin.  He's going to be the death of me.  He did math. Math is never my friend.  Math continually does me wrong.

He had thought about the coffee stand.  We see our friends at the coffee stand A LOT.  A lot A LOT.  He did the math and extrapolated it out to the annual cost.  I am Team Coffee Stand.  I am Treats Before Tasks.  Team Support our friends/ Local Businesses.  He is, apparently, Team Buzz Kill.  Literally.

But I admit, even I goggled at the cost.  I mean, we should be embarrassed.  We are, a little, but then we think about treats and it fades a little.  I can use coupons at the grocery store, lolsigh.

Then Kevin spoke with The Nephew and somehow the topic arose.  He said "Oh, we make ours at home, It's easy."  Nephew, you used to be my favorite.  (he totally still is but you know, not in this instance)

Kevin mentioned - in a way that I know this isn't going to end well for me -  "The next time you go into town..."  

There is a restaurant supply store near the actual grocery store.  This is where you can buy the flavored syrups and accessories for the drinks.  Oh, and hey, hi, I'm talking about Lotus Drinks, and not coffee drinks.  But coffee supplies too and but, times two the sequel: I haven't been able to make a non-coffee-tasting, coffee drink that Kevin doesn't hate. 

And Lotus Drinks are organic energy drinks, btw.  

Well, first off, I had to figure out the flavors that are in our favorite drinks.  I was able to do this when it was one of my least favorite baristas.  I asked about a drink and she handed me the master list with all the drinks and all the flavors.  Casually, I took a cell photo of it then printed it once I got home.

Of course Kevin and I drink different drinks.  I tend toward strong, and he tends toward sweet.  Looking at my purloined list, I discovered that each drink has three flavors and none of them are the same.  So, that's six bottles of syrup.  Plus seltzer water.  This is not feeling very save-y, Kevin.

Now to buy the Lotus potion.  Yeah, only available online.  And it's expensive.  Well, not when you do the per serving cost but that initial large purchase cost. (MATH) Plus the pumps and the shipping.  (sigh) At this point I'm not feeling like I'm saving ANY MONEY.

But again, Kevin-with-the-math explains that in just seven days, we will have Paid For the stuff to make the drinks for almost three weeks.

But wait, there's more!  Kevin likes the seltzer water in the one-litre bottles.  I like the seltzer in cans. Neither of us enjoyed the recycling piling up much faster than usual.  And the refrigerator being full of said bottles and cans.  

This is where I have become one of those people.  I went to my shmamazon account and bought a soda stream.  Again, this doesn't feel very save-y but in the long run, it will save me time and frustration.

Now that's the financial "fun" of this project.  I also have to find space for all of this stuff.  As I've mentioned before, I hate clutter.  I hate stuff on the countertops.  I have resented the blender sitting on the counter since I bought it a year ago.  #matureadult  Now I have all this stuff and a water machine that doesn't fit under the cupboard.

So I decided the other weekend that I was going to figure this out.  All the home shows have coffee station, wine bar, etc. features.  I am not inventing the wheel here.  Big projects are my jam when I'm feeling overwhelmed so this is perfect timing.  

Oh, wait. Tiny detail.  When this began, I thankfully had not taken recycling away just yet.  Cut to me fishing out lids and cups from the recycle bin, hand washing them, then hoarding them.

Everything came out of the cupboard and off of the counter and onto the island.  Then I stood back to make a plan.  Feeling frustrated, I sent a photo to a friend who Unknowing that I was Spiraling, and they mentioned adding a shelf.  Sometimes it is the most obvious solution that is the most difficult to realize.

Kevin came in the house and I'm all "So, we need to go to town before I can finish."  With a sigh, he asked "What are you taking apart NOW."  Then we went to town.

We bought two extra shelves and I happily returned home to finish this project.  I had already repurposed my in-box from my old office to corral the bottles, cups, lids, and straws.  But I didn't have enough room to accommodate the tall bottles of flavors AND the to-go cups of various shapes, sizes and materials.

Also, I had to relocate my coffee cups and drinking glasses to the cupboard where...wait for it...the coffee is kept, above the coffee pot.  I know, right?  Sometimes the obvious is not so obvious.  And this required the additional shelf. Zippy twist, right?

The notes are recipes because if I hear "How do I make the green drink?" 
one more time, there may be hostage taking.

$10 shelf can make a big difference

 Now in one area is everything we need: the cups, the lids, the straws.  A glass for getting ice and a stir spoon. (although I really want one of those twisty ones but there's that math again) in that repurposed tray.  The soda machine handle fits under the cupboard and that's as good as it's going to get. The flavors are all stored by category/flavor on the shelf and the other to-go cups are on the tops shelf.  (yeti's not featured. What I thought was a meh gift has turned out to be great)

With the new shelf, it caused me to cull through cups and glasses again.  There's just two of us and I don't need six of each.  It also made me reorganize the cupboard that I really never cared about because it was all cooking stuff.  It's still a work in progress as I'm short and can barely reach the top shelf.

As it stands, I estimate that next year we will begin officially saving money.  This is hyperbole, as we already are. It just feels like Not right now.

And Lucy and I still go to the treat stand sometimes. Ssshhhh.

Then we bought a truck...........

20 November 2022

Everything's Fine, Everyone's Fine. Just Fine


We will be returning to regular programming THIS WEEK.  Apologies for the lack of posts.  

03 November 2022

Every Light In The House Is On

 Right now every light in the house is on.  (that's an old country song)  I slept in this morning and now I'm stuck in If You Give A Mouse A Cookie. Thus all the lights on.  (Kevin is outside otherwise he'd be having none of this)

What had happened was...

Lucy was sick in the middle of the night, multiple times.  Kevin took her out three time and let me sleep and I took her out twice and let him sleep.  We think she ate the in-laws "organic" dog food. (I have the quotes because I believe they saw it on television and that's why they bought it. It's refrigerated but they mix it with cheap canned and then let it sit out for the dog to "eat when she wants"...that was a longer explanation than I intended)

Well, I got up to go take a shower, Lucy was nosing around the bed. I peeked under the bed skirt and she had gotten sick just under the bed.   Kevin offered to help clean it and I wish I'd let him but he's not as thorough as I am. Or OCD but whatever, I'm doing it.

I've now showered, eaten, tidied the house, restarted a load of laundry, cleaned Rose the Robot, and have wandered back to my office to answer the Best Question from my BFF.  

I still have to deal with the dog sick, I have to dry my hair but I want to leave it wet and out of my face while I clean the dog sick. Yes, there is such a thing as hair ties, I know.  I went to get a rag for cleaning and found myself refilling bathroom supplies.  Then I remembered that I wanted to wash Lucy's blankets in my office and here I am...at the computer.  Like you do.

My hair is almost dry.  I don't have the rag yet. Lucy's blankets remain on her pillow.  The dog sick is still there but a few more minutes isn't going to change anything.  I will use my new shiny carpet cleaner.

Kevin came in to get something.  Stopped mid-sentence, cocked his head and listened then asked "What in the hell is that?"  


He shook his head

"So...you'd like me to turn it up?"

He went back outside.

Despite the above, Lucy has been mostly back to normal.  She tires easily and she still occasionally fusses her bum but mostly we're through this.  She has the occasional poo issue but that will fully resolve. So thank you sweet tiny 8 lb 6 oz baby jesus for that little tour through hell to be finished.

I just realized I don't know where my phone is.  This is the second time I've lost it today in this house.  The first time it was buried in the blankets from taking out Lucy at 3:30 this morning.  I suspect that it is in approximately the same location again because mixed in with all the above, I also thought it was a good time to strip the bed.

The dryer just dinged. I still have to mop the floors, and then help Kevin.  My hair is now dry and no, I haven't dealt with the dog sick.  

It's now a full two weeks later and not much else has changed.  EXCEPT Lucy is 98%.  I don't know that we'll achieve a full 100 percent because she is, after all that, still ten years old.  No more poo accidents so that is a win that was feeling like would never happen.

Today's adventures included walkies in the rain, two trips into town, helping the in-laws with their insurance, and the ever present work.  My hair is still damp but that's because once it began raining here in the PNW, it has not stopped.

And still, every light in the house is on.  

23 October 2022

Just a Small Town Girl

 In today's edition of Can Life Get Any Weirder...

Kevin is currently on the phone.  This is not unusual.  It is who he is talking with that is unusual.

Without getting into car nerdery, Kevin has drawn some state and nation wide attention with the racecar.  With this, he's gotten an increase in friend requests and likes/comments/etc. on social media.

The other evening he received a personal message that he was unsure about opening as he didn't recognize the name.  He showed it to me and after a moment of "That name sounds familiar..." I realized who it was.

Kevin is currently talking to the dad of the girl who slept with my first husband while we were still married.  

.........Are you still there?  Because this is just weird and only gets a little weirder.

The father has questions about an engine and a car that he bought.  Kevin was once familiar with this car.  It belonged to a  friend - lost to time - whom I met when I met Kevin the first time.  So there's that small-town connection continuing.


This gentleman also sold my parents a car when I was in high school and they ADORED him.  Like, practically swooning with adoration about this guy.  I don't think I ever met him so I have no opinion.       But I did learn how to drive in that particular car.

I really need 2022 to be done.  There is clearly a glitch in the matrix.

06 October 2022

Why the Mail Made Me Cry - A Puzzle

 When a stack of work mail on your kitchen counter makes you weepy, you might be a little stressed.  Before you say "Duh", hold on a minute.  It's not quite what you think.

When the pandemic started and I transitioned to working from home, I had to have my work mail forwarded to home. I used my post office box so it would be secure.  My father-in-law also has a post office box and will pick up my mail from time-to-time.  

He knows that the big envelopes are work so he'll shuffle over to the house, proudly, to deliver my work; joking that I better get busy. I don't know why this task pleases him so but it does.  So, that's that piece of the puzzle.

Kevin has been "encouraging" me (I type with an eyeroll) to phone my mom to check in.  We have had this conversation many times over the past three years and it finally came to a head the other day.

I explained (again)  that I always leave the conversation frustrated, sometimes a little angry, and always depleted. I explained that the pandemic gave me the gift of distance from my bio family and further realization of just how unhealthy of a dynamic it is.

His worry is that my mom will think we've just abandoned her and that she's sitting in her house feeling lonely.  It's like he has never met my mom.  

Also, I mentioned that the phone works both ways and I am almost always the one to call. If she calls, it's to tell me someone has died or because she needs something.  Otherwise, she doesn't call.  Before you say "Well, Surely, some people don't like the phone."  She phones her sister almost every day.  She phones my family.

That's the second piece of the puzzle.

Lucy is on the mend from her surgeries but it has not gone without drama.  She just now has the stitches out and we began weaning her from her medicine.  Then she was in pain so we started giving the meds again.  The poo everywhere has lessened but still occasionally occurs.  She is currently waging a war on sleep and will not let us sleep through the night.  

So we're both exhausted and frustrated and always doing laundry and I just can't with that anymore.

Third piece of the puzzle placed.

This is like not a full piece...this is, let's say, the jumbled middle piece:

We broke the racecar when we went to Seattle.  Kevin fixed it quickly (a huge effort) to try to go again last Friday.  Reality finally happened and we did not go.  That was a ridiculous, stress increasing few days.  Now we're going to Canada tomorrow to race and while not as stressful, it has scrambled our lives again with late dinners, time off of work, expense, etc.

Last night as I was making dinner, late because racecar, my phone chimed.  It was a message from a childhood friend of mine, letting me know his mom had died.  This took my breath away for a moment.  Not because we were close but she was one of the moms who helped raise me as a child.  Craig and I have known each other since we're four years old and he's eight days older than me.  

I replied, saying that I was very sorry to hear and that she was a mom to me as a child.  Then I continued to make dinner, kind of processing the news.

Suddenly it occurred to me: sonofabiscuiteatingdog, I have to phone my mom now. Yes, there was cursing.  This is the picture on the puzzle box:

We finished dinner and I went into my office to phone my mom.  Well, she already knew.  Someone had already phoned her.  Did it occur to her to phone me? it doesn't appear so.  SUPER.  This is the one time I would like to know that someone had died.

Then we launch into the usual template of the conversation.  She tells me about the neighbors, the news, etc.  She did tell me that she's not longer friends with her lifelong B.F.F. because she made a flippant remark about my brother's (third...maybe fourth...) wedding about five years ago.  So...whatever.

We get to the part where she always mentions Covid.  I interrupted her and said "You know what, you probably don't want to hear about that from me and this is why."  I explained that Kevin is no longer in remission from Graves and he has blood work in two weeks to let us know if meds are doing the trick. (fun fact: they're not. He's lost more weight and had three more symptomatic episodes)  

"So I have no patience with ANY antivaxxers right now and probably won't ever. Because of antivaxxers believing that they don't need immunizations AND coming into work sick, my husband is sick again."

She was quiet and then said something vaguely like "That's too bad" then launched into how old people died in homes because they wouldn't let their families visit them during the pandemic and she had Covid and she was FINE.  *deep breath* I kind of let her have it that she was "fine" because she was vaccinated and otherwise she would be dead.  Also, she wouldn't have gotten it at all if the unvaxxed people had stayed away.  She said she got it at the grocery store, not from my seven or eight unvaxxed family members.  

Then she mentioned that my eldest brother was kind of d*ck about attending a 9/11 parade - perpetuating the fact that he has become a version of my dad.  Also that she chastised - at length - a neighbor for not phoning the ambulance.  Then ten minutes of why they needed the ambulance.  My inner dialogue was saying "You did the same thing when dad was dying but whatever."  Then like she heard my thoughts, she waxes nostalgically that it's been thirteen years since my dad died and isn't that just something.   Then we return to the list of all neighbors who are sick and/or died.  

So I ended the call very nearly furious.  I stood in the kitchen, even before I had fully disconnected and told Kevin "Never AGAIN."  I unloaded on him - much like I just did on you, kind readers, in the above paragraphs - "I feel like crap, it was a complete waste of my time, It just leaves me sad and angry."      He finally said okay.  And then helped finish the dishes.

Now let's do the trim pieces:

Today was a frustrating work day. I have deadlines and as always - every school year - an advocate did not do their work, causing me to bump against that deadline.  Also, the addition of a new deadline that I just learned about on Tuesday. (already met)

About mid-day, I took Lucy to do errands and small walkies (no hikes, not longer than half a mile, no running, jumping or anything fun).  I brought her back home then went to the chiropractor (scheduled)  because I super, extra needed to go. (big surprise)

I left her home alone for the first time ever since the surgery which just added to the stress of everything and I should have just taken her with me.  (she was fine)

I returned home to this:

That's the stack of work mail

And a phone call from my father-in-law making sure that I saw that he brought my work home for me, he's giggling the whole time.  (note: he "broke into" the house to leave the mail there)

After we hung up, it occurred to me: THIS is what a family is supposed to feel and sound like.  Yes, they make me crazy and frustrated and want to drink.  But they'll also bring home your mail and buy you a plant to thank you for helping them. (plant not in the photo)  That's what it's supposed to feel like.  It's supposed to make you feel better, not worse.

Finally, rest in peace Jo Ellen. We speak your name.  Thanks for being one of my moms.

L to R: Gini, who has also passed, my mom, Jo Ellen,
Carole, and Shirley (also passed)

30 September 2022

The FBI Called - A Raising Parents Story

 You guys.  I mean...omg....YOU GUYS...Seriously.

Yesterday was a long day for me.  I'd worked all day, trying to get through startup and all that.  Lucy is feeling better thus more difficult to keep calm and quiet.  Then add Kevin phoning what-felt-like-every-fifteen-minutes for a variety of valid reasons.

By 5:00p.m. I was over it.  Super tired, cranky, over it.

Oh, wait, by the way: The vet declined to remove Lucy's stitches until Monday and extended bedrest/meds until then as well.  Five additional days.  So when I say Over It, I mean OVER IT.

Kevin came home and then went outside to do stuff.  He mentioned that he was going over to the parents for some reason that I can't recall now.

He phoned about fifteen minutes later and had The Tone.  The about to lose his sh*t tone. Sigh.

The parents fell for a phone scam and gave the "F.B.I." $2,000 in gift cards.


What had happened was Kevin went into the parents house and his mom was on the phone, looking rattled. He asked them who she was talking to and she waved him off.  Red flag.  Not only don't wave him off, there is no reason not to tell him who she's talking to.  He rose his voice and asked again.  She tried again to wave him off when he reached over and took her phone.

She freaked out and said that it was THE FBI and they had to talk to them and they had been working on this all day.  


Kevin answered the phone but of course, they had hung up.  

He made them explain what was happening.  The short version is that the FBI phoned and said they needed $2000 in gift cards from different stores in order to settle some fraudulent activity that had occurred.  She reports that she told them that her sons handle all of the financial stuff but they persisted, adding that the sons might be in on it so don't tell them anything.

So, instead of asking their sons or calling their daughter in-law who is ONE HUNDRED FEET AWAY FROM THEM AT ALL TIMES, they went to town and bought gift cards.


They went to Target and got a $500 gift Target card.

They went to Rite Aid and got two $500 Apple gift cards.

They went to Safeway and got one $500 Apple gift card.

Then they returned home and waited for them to phone and gave them the information.  This is where Kevin walked into the situation.  Actually, they had phoned back because she gave them incorrect information (thank you, dementia)

While Kevin was hearing this, the phone rang.  He answered it and they answered him.  He said it was a very soft spoken, overly polite guy.  When Kevin demanded to know who he was, he said that he was talking to his mom (called her by name) and needed to finish the conversation.  Kevin went all "I'm The Captain now" and then the guy tried to tell him he was F.B.I.  Kevin -  doggone he's quick - said "We both know you're not so now what?"  The guy hung up on him.

Then Kevin phoned me with that tone.  "The parents gave the FBI $2,000 in gift cards."

"G@dammit" is all I said.

"I'll be right over, we need your help."

Ten minutes later, he came over with the gift cards.  I had just searched for what to do in this situation while Kevin phoned the attorney for his work for advice.  


Try to close the cards.  I went to Target first and saw that the money was still there.  We phoned the store but they said you have to call the corporate office and they were closed.  I set that aside and began to work on the larger issue: $1500 in Apple gift cards.

While I'm on the phone with them - they were very helpful -  Kevin says that we need to "spend" the gift card at Target before the scammers do.   I went back to my work computer and began to buy two televisions.  By the time we did this, the scammers had used the card. #$#%@  So, there was $500 gone.

Meanwhile, Apple is working on suspending the cards so they are rendered useless.  

This is where it got complicated:  The first representative said that the amount could be refunded via the method the cards were purchased. 

The second representative stated they had to be returned to the retailer where they bought them.

Kevin went back over to the parents and explained that they were out $500 because we weren't quick enough and that we were working on the Apple ones.  He explained that they had to return to the stores to return them.  Kevin mentioned not to waste any time in the morning and get there so nothing else could go wrong.

We ate dinner at 8:30 pm, watched television for a minute then we both slept restlessly.

Kevin left at 5:15 in the morning and shortly thereafter, I was sitting at my desk and starting to work.  

At 6:35, my f-i-l phones me. He was already at the store waiting for them to open.  He had called Kevin to have him remind him what to do, much to Kevin's frustration because he was to CALL SURELY BEFORE YOU LEAVE SO SHE CAN BE AVAILABLE IF YOU NEED HELP.

Anyway. That's a whole other set of problems.

A few minutes later, my f-i-l phoned me again.  The store told him they could not take the cards back.  Why am I not surprised.

I told him I would phone Apple again and to sit tight.  Fifteen minutes later, I had to text Kevin to call his dad and tell him to come home. Turns out he already had so there's that.

What had to happen is:

Call the Corporate Office of the Store to file a claim.  I had to search for two telephone numbers, swim through the phone tree, wait on hold, then explain everything again to each person.

Of course they're not just going to give someone money over the phone, that's crazy. (intentional, sarcastic irony)   They both explained the process, which is the exact same for both companies:

Copy the cards, front and back

Copy the receipt

Email them to the provided email addresses (not public domain emails) with the claim number

Now you wait.

One of the stores emailed an auto-reply about thirty minutes later with a claim number.  The other store just did the same, some seven hours later.  But that's PROGRESS.

So, maybe they'll get the money returned. I'm skeptical just because it's fraud and it's a consequence.

Next step:

Report it to the local law enforcement; in our case: the sheriff's department.

I don't know if it's our area or all Sheriff's deputies but this is the second one I've spoken with who was very funny.

I explained that my elderly in-laws gave the FBI $2,000 yesterday.   Immediately, he says "Please don't be gift cards. Don't be gift cards..." And I finished his sentence with "$2,000 of Target and Apple gift cards."

He said that it happens A LOT and the stories are ever-changing.  The most recent one is Border Patrol, which is terrifying because that would be plausible in our case.  

I explained everything we did and he was very encouraging. He laughed at the taking the phone away from the parents and the comment "It's like raising teenagers."  He was sympathetic but realistic that we may not get the money returned.  He also said that while it's good/necessary to file a report, it's pretty futile.  

Next step is to file a report on the State and Federal websites.  Frankly, I don't have the energy for it today but will do it tomorrow.  If I felt like it would have any affect on the outcome, I would do it but it's futile.

Now we have to have yet another discussion with the parents about....everything.  They are just not able to handle their lives anymore.  I'm exhausted fixing things over and over again.  Kevin's exhausted with having to check in constantly and babysit.  We are not talking about the siblings who think they're helping and are, in fact, not.

Oh, wait...I was going to tell you about this but then EVERYTHING ELSE HAPPENED:

A few Saturdays ago, the m-i-l phoned and she needed help with an online order.  Not a shmamazon order, an online order.  I practically ran over there to see what she had done.

She was ordering brain improvement meds from Tom Selleck on the facebook because she "needs them" and "I know him from t.v. and he wouldn't lie."


So, if you're taking notes: you can search through facebook settings which ads have been viewed and/or interacted with.  This is the ONLY way I could a) figure out who she was talking about because my clue was "He's on the show with his family and they're all cops"  b) find the ad to see if she made a purchase. There wasn't so WHEW.

I mean..C'mon.  We think we have the fire put out and then they light another, bigger one.

The next idea we have is to get a landline phone with a voicemail and disable the ringer.  We'll forward all the doctors, etc. to the landline phone.  Then they are to only answer the cell phone if it's a family member.  We would then screen the messages every few days.  

I simply cannot think of anything else to do other than take their phones away, which is fun to think about but not a reasonable situation.

P.S. The FBI will never phone you.  Ever.

27 September 2022

A Complete Sh*t Show

 Contrary to my conspicuous absence, I am not dead.  I have wished for death a few times over the past weeks but alas, I am here.

No, not the 'Rona.  Almost worse.  Everyone is fine, everything is fine.  "Fine".  My sanity and carpet have taken repeated hits but here we are.

I mentioned a while back that Lucy had a growth and we had to have it removed.  It was on her bum and grew quickly, like in a month quickly.  Surgery was scheduled and breath was held.

They removed it, unexpectedly removed an anal gland also, and fast forward: it was like super cancer but they have gotten it all.  However, it can return but fortunately, in the same place if it does.  So that's mostly all good news.

Now, when I say the last three weeks have been a complete and utter sh*t show, I mean that ACTUALLY and LITERALLY.

What had happened was: the surgeon used dis-solvable stitches for the first surgery.  Those stitches held...checks notes...not at all, it turns out.  She was unable to control her body so there was poo where she laid, where she sat, where she stood, on her bum, on her blankets.  POO EVERYWHERE.

We can't keep her calm and resting and WORSE BY ALL THE MILES: she isn't able to keep poo inside.  It's like the bum was just open so she constantly felt like she has to poop and there is never not poop present.  AND she'll be sound asleep then something happens and she jumps up, runs around, tries to scrub her bum on whatever available surface whilst pooping.

AND THEN, we couldn't keep her clean.  It was matted on her tail and she was getting a diaper rash, essentially.  She started to resist being cleaned.  And she can't sleep through the night without pooping.  

In addition to the no stitches, they had us giving her pumpkin to make sure her stool was soft so she could have less pain with pooing.  So, lack of control AND not-quite-diarrhea.  Also: I may never eat pumpkin ANYTHING ever again. Ever. I have Pumpkin PTSD.

Finally, after a few phone calls where we were told this was "normal", I insisted and took her back to the vet.  She was red and swollen and clearly uncomfortable.  And, let me say it again: POO EVERYWHERE.

They took her to be examined and the Vet came out to the truck to talk to me, never a good sign. It's always the vet tech.  Yep, she needed another surgery. Not only FML but *swinging of arms all around* F*&K Everyone's Life.  They would phone me to let me know when and we went home.

The vet is twenty-five minutes away in my hometown.  We had gotten home, I had cleaned myself up and got her settled when the phone rang.  They wanted her at the clinic RIGHT NOW.  Back into the truck we go, back to the clinic.  

I dropped her off and they explained that they would keep her overnight this time for observation.  I was SO relieved just for that.  We hadn't slept in a week.  Imagine a toddler with explosive diarrhea for a week.  (We have since realized that parenting was NOT FOR US so thanks Universe for that)  The washer has not stopped since the surgery, there is plastic on my office floor, one of her beds are ruined and the frustration level was off of the charts.

One I returned home, I scrubbed the house from ceiling to floor, including washing the carpets.  It feels like the house will never be clean again.  I'm trying to ignore that the washer has begun making a sound during the spin cycle.


Totally bought an awesome carpet cleaner. Recommend 1,000 percent: 

It's like pressure washing BUT FOR YOUR HOUSE.  So satisfying.


We went to bed early, slept through the night, and in the morning they phoned with an update.  I did all my weekly errands then went to pick her up.  They sent home some more meds, continued bedrest and Oh, by the way, this resets the clock for TWO MORE WEEKS.  Yes, yes, I was teary and frustrated.

I mean, she can't be left alone. Not only was it Poo-apalooza, she would get anxious and want me RIGHT THERE.  She would prefer to be ON ME and in my personal space.  Instead, she was confined to my office with plastic on the floor and a regular exchange of blankets and towels.  FOR TWO WEEKS.  She's managed to work around every version and combination of the cone(s) in some way.  

Thankfully I work from home and this did allow me to get a truckload of work completed during my busiest time.  But with POO.  This situation was slowly subsiding and then it wasn't.

Now we're to Saturday.  I woke up and the dog was still with me on the bed.  Kevin reported that he came to get her three times and she declined.  He didn't think much about it but I was all "Oh...no..."  

Sure enough, she had pooed a little but now, there was a little blood.  Sigh.

Kevin took her outside to go potty (which had been going great post-second surgery) and she couldn't and she was bleeding.  Now we are on our way back to the vet for an emergency appointment, again.

She had not pulled her stitches but she had strained and tore the tissue a little.  I just KNEW she pulled her stitches again and it would be another two weeks. So, whew.  Instead, it's another vet appointment this week instead of a drop-off to get her stitches removed.

Then there's the new medicine.  The vet tech was explaining what it was and how to use it when she paused. "I have to ask is there anyone in the house that is allergic to Sulfa meds?"

BECAUSE WHY NOT.  Of course I'm allergic to sulfa meds.  

It is an ointment that has to be applied twice daily.  "You can wear gloves but be CAREFUL" (side note, quoting Kevin: "Why would she think we WOULDN'T be wearing gloves in the first place?")

They said again to keep her sedate and calm.  This is where I will express some frustration:


Lucy is so active so we have to keep her absolutely knocked out in order for this to happen.  I am medicine-hesitant already and this is making it worse.  Also, I hate to be repetitive but POO EVERYWHERE. We couldn't just keep her calm and sleeping 24/7 for two...now three...weeks without medication.

So after I dropped her off for the second surgery, I went to the independent pet store and bought CBD gummies for her.  We give her two - three, twice a day, and it mellows her out without making her unconscious.  Then we use the big guns for night time so we can sleep.

Oh, I didn't mention sleep.  After the overnight stay at the clinic, Lucy has decided that her crate is Guantanamo.  She refuses to go into it.  We moved it into our room and still so much no.  INSTEAD we have a layer of blankets under her and because we can't let her jump or roam, a leash tied to our bedframe to prevent her from leaving. Yes, a leash from one end of the bed to the other.

And she wakes about 2:00 a.m. and needs to go outside and a changing on the blankets.  Kevin takes her out while I change those and start the washer, again.  We sleep another (maybe) three hours then our day starts.  I've had to begin showering before Kevin leaves for work at 5:15 which I don't enjoy but it does make my day easier.

One of the suggestions for keeping dogs calm and sedate is to "Give them a view"  This made me laugh because....how?  Do we build her a deck in front of the window so she can see outside?  The vet and the pet store suggested Dog TV channel so I got it.  She is absolutely un-interested, COULD NOT CARE ONE BIT.  I tried to put her on the deck but if a rabbit appears, there is no SEDATE AND CALM, even with the meds.  Thus the Dog TV channel that she doesn't care about anyway and being stuck in my office.

Now it's Tuesday and she's both constipated and still leaving "tracks".  We are counting minutes until Wednesday's appointment to get the next steps.  The appointment was first thing in the morning then they had to bump it to the afternoon because the universe is testing me.  While it is supposed to be stitch removal and a return to normal, we both have a feeling that we're still a week out from that.  Unless she makes a miraculous recovery in the next almost-two days.

We had to have one of the nephews dog sit her one day during the week last week because we had made plans to go to Seattle.  Now we have an opportunity to go to the track in Canada this weekend and we're again trying to work out who can stay with her.  Just trying to coordinate that adds to the stress so we're not committed to going.  (we will have to wait until Spring to go if we don't though)

So, with all that there are two things:

We are in over $3500 in costs, probably more if I really thought about it, and that is a lot to spend on a pet, FOR ME.  We couldn't get pet insurance because it was considered a pre-existing condition.  AND the clinic doesn't take insurance so we'd have to pay out of pocket then get reimbursed anyway.  

Finally, the bigger issue:  the removal of the gland made the surgery significantly more of a thing than planned.  We are concerned that if this turns out that the poo thing is a non-resolving effect of the surgery, we have some big decisions to make.  

It's not just the mess, (but my gawd the mess)  it's the quality of life for Lucy.  She went from being a free and happy puppy who rarely heard "No" to being confined to one space, on a lead and wearing a cone, being told No a lot, being on painkillers, and not feeling well.  

So not only is Lucy at the end of her rope, so are we. Let's hope, but not expect, a good outcome at tomorrow's appointment.

04 September 2022

$1500 and A Travel Pillow

Because 2022 and I just need MORE to happen, Lucy is sick. She has a mass on her bum, literally on her bum. It appeared about two months ago, grew quickly, and as you've probably guessed: it's cancerous. It HAS NOT SPREAD and she's perfectly healthy otherwise. The Vet was very encouraging about the whole thing and that she's young enough that it's "worth it", if you get what I'm saying.

When it first appeared and the vet commented on it, we guessed that it would be a thing, more about the location than about the mass. Then it grew so quickly that it was a concern. I took her to the vet on Thursday afternoon and the results wouldn't be ready for three days.

I got a call from the vet on Friday. I knew it was bad news. 1) call from the vet, not the vet tech and 2) probably wouldn't hear until Monday and heard on Friday.

What's funny...ironic funny...is that I was standing in the middle of a nursery at the time. One of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Seriously. Seriously. So the juxtaposition of bad news while being in a gorgeous setting was not lost on me. Also, Lucy was waiting for me in the truck.

Sidenote: Look at this gorgeous place:


Meanwhile, back to the original call from the Vet:

The most imminent task was getting blood work and xrays because if those came back with bad results, it was going to be a Whole Other Conversation. Where the nursery was about forty minutes from where the vet clinic was but luckily, heh: luckily...they are closed from 1:00 - 2:00 every day so that gave me time.

I finished getting what I "needed" and rushed to pick up groceries. I skipped all the other errands and hurried home. Unloaded everything and put Lucy back into the truck to leave.

Oh, this is where I mention that Kevin took an impromptu week of vacation. He was in Seattle, working on some racecars so he was out of town and a little out-of-touch. I decided that this was a Good Thing as the last thing he needed was to hear bad news. It could absolutely wait until the next day. And yes, this meant me shouldering this by myself but Hey, Hi, Hello, this is me. It's what I do.

Xrays and bloodwork was quick and we went back home and took a nap. Because mygawd.

Next Friday, she's having surgery by a specialist (because: why not) and the cost is $1500. So far, it's been $600 in exams, x rays, tests, meds and visits. Plus about $60 in neck pillows and no-lick spray. I mention the cost because this was just a topic of conversation: how much to spend on a sick pet and when to call it.

During the surgery, they'll remove the mass and hopefully it will be just fine. The concern is how close it is to....sorry, sorry, sorry...her anus. It's right on the edge. That's why a specialist instead of "just" a surgeon. The surgeon who splits his time between the midwest and the northwest, doing surgeries on pets; because this isn't complicated enough.

She has to have the neck pillow...or the "Elizabethan Collar" as the vet called it...on 24/7 now because she keeps fussing it. We have one that looks like a travel pillow, and it is cozy but cumbersome. Then we have another one that looks like a pool toy that she can wear outside. It's just a better material for outside:

Fun fact, she is able to reach the Area with both pillows. If not directly, then near.  Doggies lick their wounds because they think that's helping.  In this case, not helping and gross.  And this is where I share that we made Another Trip to the vet yesterday.  She was uncomfortable and licking and *hork* so the vet asked us to bring her in.

The original vet gave us a pain/inflammation reliever but it makes her high.  The other pill was Gabapentin, which is the nerve blocker I was on so no thanks. The vet today was NOT excited about giving meds so that makes me happy.   He did give an ointment (one of the worst words in the English language) that has to be applied twice daily to The Area.  *hork*  It's going to be a two-person job so this will be Super Fun.

And she has to wear the Travel Pillow all the time and not just at night.  I thought she would hate us and pack her bags but she's become accustomed to it now.  Unfortunately, we have to get the legit Cone of Shame for after the surgery but she'll be high and probably won't mind it.

When this is done, we're going to have to have the carpets cleaned because of "leakage" and licking. *hork*   I've washed her blankets and our quilt multiple times too.  Now it's basically not leaving her alone  PLUS the collar so that a further mess isn't caused.   I can't think about this too much or I'm burning the house down.

One of the worse parts of this is telling people.  Everyone loves our doggy and she has a little following on the social media.  I just included one of her photos with the neck pillow in the weekly post and didn't comment.  As expected, someone asked about it and I answered with a low-key answer.  We just don't need this more dramatic than it already feels.  Yet people care and want to know so it's a weird balance to try to keep.

The surgery is at 10 am on Friday and they will have her most of the day.  Then it's bedrest for a few days (that should be easy *sarcasm font*). I think we're going to try to keep her in her crate or on her big pillow in the living room.  Watching her NOW is stressing us out, I can't imagine when she's high and has stitches.  

Then hopefully we can just move on from this adventure.  We are assuming that this is true because anything else is unacceptable.  Again, the vet thought it would be okay but because of the location, it gets tricky.

Funny thing is she's still happy going on walkies. Her bum just bothers her.  She caught A MOUSE at the beach last night so this is not slowing her down at all.


24 August 2022


 So....guess who had to spend time with shmamazon customer service today?  Yep, it's Me.

One week, almost to the hour, I am tracking down where three large boxes of socks have gone.  The tracking numbers state that two of the boxes have arrived. One of the boxes is "damaged" and was last seen in Lathrop, CA.  Because, of course.

(for context, if you're confused: read this first)

The mother-in-law's shmamazon account did not reflect any progress in this return so I went to check their banking account.  Since I last logged in, they have instituted multi-factor authentication, which is great. Until you're trying to hack into your parents account.


Kevin came in right as I was debating my next step.  "Well, it seems like you have to go over there." he says.  "Not it" he says.  Funny, helpful.

We walked over there - he took mercy - and he asked them if they had checked their account recently.  Yes, they said emphatically.  When? Kevin asked.  .....they think it was Monday?... but the money wasn't IN THERE.  I tried to ask how they checked and did not get a clear answer.  I believe they checked because their monthly bank statement arrived.  (I know, right)

THEN...because there's always a then...the mother kind of pouts and says "You would think that they would Call Me to check about this weird order before they sent it."

How did you do with not reacting to that?  It's tough, isn't it?

We explained that there are millions...probably billions...of customers and that was an unreasonable expectation.  She accepted but did not enjoy that answer.

So we came back to the house.  I resigned myself to sitting on the phone with customer service.  Well, to my surprise, it went quickly.  

Here's how to do that:

Search shmamazon customer service telephone number.  (don't try to find it via their site)

It will give you the link to the page to phone them. Go there then Enter your number and click Call Me Now

Your phone will immediately ring but don't panic, it's a robot at first.

Here's the key to THAT:  press either # or * or the ZERO key multiple times.  The system will tell you "Now transferring you to an agent"  This works on all phone trees, usually.  You're welcome.

I got a lovely person named Pam, which made me think of The Office.  I was skeptical that they would allow me access to her account but I had all the right answers to the questions and had access to her email to verify.  WHEW.

Now, how do you succinctly explain that you returned three boxes of one-hundred-ish socks?  And that one of the boxes was "damaged" and not delivered?  

Somehow I managed.  She began to process the refund but then needed to know "How much do you expect the refund to be?"  That's a fair question but MATH.  I explained that how ever much three boxes of socks cost but "I don't math, I'm sorry."

She kind of giggled quietly and said she could help with that.  Then she asked if she could place me on a brief hold so she could complete the transaction.  "Absolutely," I told her.  "I'm just working while you're working"

A few minutes later, she returned and the refund was completed. Unfortunately the transfer of money will take up to seven days.  Key words: up to.  It's usually not that long.  I half-heartedly tried the "They are on a fixed income, is there another way?" tactic but there wasn't.  I sighed and said "Well, this is just a very expensive lesson learned about ordering things."  and again with the quiet giggle from the rep.

Hopefully this will be resolved by Monday and I can stop thinking about it.  I did manage to math and this cost them $143.34, over $50 of which was taxes, shipping, processing, etc.  Those are some expensive socks. It's a bummer but sometimes it takes something like this to get people to understand that they need help.

Finally, Kevin made a joke to the parents about how they "owe" me for fixing this.  Then he followed up with "How about some socks?"  Then he continued with "Fix their phone? Pair of socks.  Make them dinner? Pair of socks.  Let the dog out to go potty? SOCKS."

18 August 2022

144 Pairs

 The other day I thought "It's been quiet, hmmmm"  This is always a mistake. Never, ever, never comment on the quiet of a situation.  Any Situation.

Today the delivery guy was here and I would have missed him except for Lucy running in circles to let me know.  I went outside and asked which house it was for and it was for the parents.  I told the delivery guy to just leave them with me and I will take them next door.

He unloaded one big box, returned to the van, unloaded another then another.  All the same boxes.  Then he said something to himself, got back into the van and retrieved yet another box. 

There were now four large-sized and duplicate appearing boxes in the driveway.  He left and I puzzled about the boxes.  

I am at the beginning of startup for my job and it's been rough.  Early start, more kids, new staff, new schools.  ROUGH.

I stood in the driveway and pondered the boxes.  They weren't heavy and I just couldn't fathom what they might be.  They live in a tiny house so they don't order big things.  I briefly considered leaving them there and phoning my father-in-law to let him know. Then I thought "No, I'll leave them and Kevin can deal with it."  Then I reconsidered because that's just mean. This situation is one of the reasons I'm home all day/every day.

I picked up one box and walked next door.  The siblings-in-law dumb dog was not outside on the parents deck, hooray.  I dropped the box over the gate, returned to get another box, and repeat until all four boxes are now on their deck.

Now I'm standing there, debating whether or not I want to walk in and let them know or just phone them. (they can't see me from the gate)  The boxes aren't heavy or unwieldly so my f-i-l can easily move them.  Also, it's Wednesday and I'm six days away from being in an in-person meeting and we went to an outside event on Sunday.  I'm mentioning this because: I try to avoid close contact with the parents when I've been in that situation.  So, phone them it is.

Returning to the house, I phoned my f-i-l.  He answers the phone the same way, even though he has No Idea who is calling him.  This grates on Kevin but I just find it funny.  I explained that there were four large boxes by the gate.

He sounded surprised.  This is my second clue.  We hang up and I return to work.

About thirty minutes later, my m-i-l phones.  She does this nervous laugh thing that Does grate on my nerves.  "Can you come over?  I need your help"  I answer yes, that I will be over in a few minutes.  "Don't laugh" she says.  Clue number three

I have no choice but to go into the house because they have the air conditioning running. (the lovely PNW is experiencing a heat wave that feels like it will never end)  My f-i-l is giggling.  "See those bags right there?" he points to their table.  "See these?" he says while gesturing with a bag of socks in his hand.

She had ordered...I just can't even...FOUR SETS of THREE bags of TWELVE pairs of socks.  Four big boxes, each one holding thirty six pairs of socks. 144 PAIRS OF SOCKS.

"But those are the Really Good, Best socks" she says as my f-i-l is offering to give bag(s) away to me.  They may be but we don't need dozens of socks.  

As she always does, she said "I don't know what happened. I made ONE order then I didn't think it went through so I went back and just looked."  Yes, her pants are on fire.  She doesn't 100% realize what she's done but she knows that she did Something.

I took her tablet and logged into her shmamazon account.  Sure enough, she had ordered All the Socks In All the World.

I went through the return process and explained to them that I had to take the boxes to the shipping place.  They cannot do it because it's too big of a task for them.  If it had been, say, one bag of socks I would have made them do it.  But not three boxes of socks.

"What do we do with THAT?" she gestures to the remaining box of now opened socks.  

"You keep them because I'm not going to box them all back up to try to return them.  You'll use them, they're socks.  F-I-L, you have socks for the rest of your life!  You can give them to Kevin for his inheritance!"  He laughed, she didn't really.

Now I'm taking the boxes back over to our house and loading them in the suv.  Even though I told my f-i-l that I had it, he came shuffling behind me with a box. Bless his heart.  The boxes were large enough that I had to lay them side-by-side in the cargo area.

I explained that I would return them tomorrow and sent him back to his house.

You might be quicker than me and are thinking "That had to be expensive..."

Because I didn't think about it until I sat back down to work.  I logged into her shmamazon account and OMG.


Almost $600 worth of socks.  Then I panicked, thinking it was put on her debit card.  Somehow, MIRACULOUSLY, it was on her credit card.

I texted Kevin and said "I have to go to town again for the parents", knowing that he would call.  And he did.


All he could do was kind of exhaustedly laugh.  "Let me guess, she didn't do it."  When I confirmed yes, he said something that always makes me laugh "Those bastards ordering things for her."

When I left the house, it was 85 degrees.  Kevin had just fixed the SUV's air conditioning the night before. (because 2022 is so awesome, lolsigh)  I went to a different shipping store, because it's not usually busy.  

It was busy.  And I had three large boxes.  I unloaded them outside of the door, then brought them inside one by one, setting them just inside the door.  Then I waited my turn, I was the fourth person in line...maybe fifth.  Super.

Finally it's my turn.  I took one of the boxes with me, gestured to the other two, and gave her a printout of the QR codes required to send them back.

"Do you know which boxes these go to?"

I kind of laughed, on the verge of losing it kind of laugh

"No, I thought I was being prepared printing those out..."  

She had no suggestions. I went to the internet on my phone, logged into m-i-l's shmamazon account and tried to figure it out.  Realizing it's going to take more than a minute and if I were a person standing in line behind me, I would be resenting me with the power of a thousand suns.

"This is a solvable problem" I tell her "But I will step over here and let someone else be helped. Then I'll step up when I'm ready."  The poor girl looked relieved.

I figured out how to find which box went to which QR code, except I wasn't 100% certain.  I stepped back up to the counter (sorry person who was waiting, I would hate me too) and explained that I had one but the other two were not working.  

She matter-of-factly said "I'll just print three labels and send it then they can figure it out."


She did just that, printed a receipt and off I went. With a Receipt, because I'm not feeling confident about this process.

And I just tried the tracking numbers, twenty-four hours later and THEY WOULDN'T WORK. Cue me, phoning the shipping store to find out that they are in Oregon and on their way to be returned.  I just have to do the one thing I'm not good at: have patience.   However, she said if an issue happens, she can help so that was worth the phone call.

Now we wait. We're assuming this will all work out in the end but we're also assuming that we will eventually get a panicked phone call about a $600 charge on their bill.

Never mention the quiet. 

11 August 2022

Watch and Wait

 I have noticed now that I'm more toward the end of my working career than the beginning, that certain skills I've gained along the way have come in handy in my personal life.

Right now, my job as a data nerd is to review well-child exams to ensure that all exams, immunizations, and screenings are complete.  Sometimes it's tedious, sometimes I learn things that adds to my Grey's Anatomy Medical Degree, and sometimes I learn stuff about the families that I don't need to know. 

 These records are very different than the patient summary that is given at the end of an appointment.

The structure of these records is (usually) this:

  • Health History: any diagnoses, surgeries, procedures, relevant family history, allergies, meds.
  • The patient's narrative (subjective), which is what the patient and/or family member reports at the beginning of the appointment.  
  • Then comes the exam notes, which are the results of all the tests and vitals.  
  • Then there is the summary from the doctor, reflecting on both the narrative and the results.
  • Finally: any action plan. (referrals, prescriptions, etc.)

About a year ago now, I think, because it's all blurry, the parents agreed that I could register for the website where we could see my m-i-l's medical records.  She has since forgotten about it which is exactly why we did that.  They are horrible reporters and always seem to "lose" the visit notes between the office and the way home.

I don't usually look at her health notes but with this last trip to the E.R. I have been.  I reviewed the E.R. notes and the follow-up visit the following day and now weeks.  I wanted to make sure that we were on the same page and that there weren't any surprises for us.

I can't remember if I mentioned this before but while reading her records I'm all "THIS IS A WEB OF LIES"   I do know that I've mentioned before that caring for elderly parents is like raising teenagers. They are lying lying liars.  It's because they want to remain independent and appear healthy and all that, I get it.  But mygawd, the lies. (i.e. she's walking unassisted, she's "eating" properly, she's fine cognitively)

Now it's good to know all of this information that I have gleaned from the records.  However, it's extra frustrating because now we know what is supposed to be being done and also know that it's NOT.  Kevin and I have wavered over whether it's worse or better knowing.  I have had to remind myself/us/them that this is the reason WHY they live with us: so that we can help.

They both will tell you that they are doing good.  If I hear "I'm fine" never again, it will be too soon.  In fact, it just occurred to me, if she has a headstone I am going to lobby to have "I'm Fine" chiseled onto it.  Or "I'm tough", that's the other one that makes us grit our teeth.  It's clear that they're not fine and I think they know they're not fine. But being anything other than that will create the need for big changes.

Along those lines, we can't make them do anything.  We can just explain what the doctors said, we can remind, and we can try to support.  Lesson number 236 of Raising Parents: Say the thing then let it go.

Which brings me to the next part:  After this last fall, there were EMPHATIC discussions throughout the family. EMPHATIC.   Part of the cause of those discussions is that both parents were flip and nonchalant about this whole thing, (see: "I'm fine" "I'm tough") which was making everyone frustrated.  

While WE were feeling all the kinds of frustration with the situation, THEY were feeling judged and browbeaten.  I suspect there was a little embarrassment mixed in there as well.  Again, it's like parenting teenagers and having to decide how much independence to give them before they drive the car into the neighbors mailboxes.  (just an example, not a real thing)  And finding the balance of how to handle it when they do.

As a result, everyone took a giant step back and just stayed in neutral corners for a few days.  That's lesson #237 of Raising Parents - give space when it's needed, even when it feels counter-intuitive.  Kevin has had to stop with his daily "Is everyone alive" calls because they just end in frustration.  And example #eleventy of we're horrible children: She's not going to remember if he called anyway.

Also, to quote my BFF K "the 15-20-minute goldfish-mind reset" has also come into play.  The m-i-l has forgotten some of what has happened, including the post E.R. follow-up visit and it fades more each day.  This was confirmed in the visit notes "the patient is quiet and is having trouble answering questions; such as what year it is, what season it is, and what she ate yesterday."  Also, she will respond "I forgot" when you ask her why she isn't using her walker, etc.  

Gleaning anything to be taken from this post, these are the highlights:

If you can't/don't get a power of attorney, have a family member designated (WITH EVERY DOCTOR) as an advocate so you can call the doctor for updates, advice, etc.

Sign up for the online medical records with each clinic where the parents are patients so a person can read about what's actually happening.

This is the most difficult: Say the thing then let it go.  Back to the teen analogy: you can tell your daughter tens of times that this boy is trouble or they need to study for that chemistry final.  They're only going to listen so much and will still make their own choices.  Sometimes they are going to get hurt and sometimes they are going to fail.

Sometimes all a person can do is watch and wait.  

08 August 2022

Get You A Kevin

 I've noticed on the ticktock app that there is a trend of "Get You A ...." or "I have A..."  where people describe their humans - husbands, friends, parents - in non-traditional loving ways.  It actually made me feel a little better watching and reading these.  Because I have a non-traditional husband...and he a wildly independent wife.

It goes like this:  

Get You a Kevin who won't gently brush your hair away from your face or dance in the kitchen but will touch your bum every time he passes you.  

Get You a Kevin who works all the hours to care for his family and sends his guys home early so they can be with their families.

Get You A Kevin who will sing you verses of a Country song instead of telling you how he feels.

Get you a Kevin who is gentle to the doggies and waves at babies yet wants none of the babies and wants all the doggies.

Get you a Kevin who will eye roll your projects but will help finish them without complaining with an "I told you so" smile.

Get you a Kevin who lets you sleeps in and brings you coffee on the weekends

Get you a Kevin who doesn't want to go anywhere but will fix your air conditioning, worry whenever you leave the house, and wants to see photos of your adventures.

Get you a Kevin who fusses over buying things for himself but will insist on you getting what whatever you want.

06 August 2022

Two Hour Tour

 Wanna hear a horror story?  Okay, good.

Yesterday I spent almost three hours without a phone. 100% no phone, no social media, no texting.  100%  That sounds kind of good...and it would Have Been had it been planned.

What had happened was it was Friday and Lucy and I were on walkies.  Walkies were the first item on a long To-Do Agenda.  But it was Friday (my last off Friday nonetheless), it was sunny and breezy.  We had slept in.  It had potential to be a good day.

Then Lucy unexpectedly pulled on her lead and my phone left my hand, time slowed, and I watched my phone somersault through the air.  It landed on the gravel path, facedown.  While frustrating, I figured that the protector would...you know...protect it.  It didn't.

The screen was shattered and not just the protector, the actual screen.  Only 1/8th of the screen would light and the phone was vibrating.   That seems bad.  Not to worry, thinks the tech nerd, there's always something that can be done.  I held the power button down solid for a really long time and nothing. In fact, I think I heard the phone giggle at me.

Of course we're halfway through our walk so now I'm encouraging Lucy to hustle so we can go to the phone store.  She was not okay with this plan.  Which, fair enough, puppies don't understand that the human's lifeline was just obliterated.

Finally we returned to the truck and I decided to Not drop off recycling, which was less than five minutes away, because no phone.  If it weren't for the parents, I wouldn't have felt so pressed to fix the issue.  In retrospect, I should have just done it but here we are.  (it's now Saturday, mid-day, and I went this morning)

Once settled in the truck, I did pause and take off the case, then remove the broken screen protector in hopes of something maybe changing. Maybe the damage wasn't So Bad.  I even plugged it into the car charger to see if anything would change. Nothing. Not a doggone thing.  It was So Bad. It had hit and thusly cracked on the edge of the phone, next to the power button. This apparently is the kill shot.  (not a good feature of the beveled edge screen, if you have one)

We went to the store that rhymes with horizon.  I've always had good luck there and today that luck ran out: At Least an hour wait time.  He said it could be as less as 30 minutes but probably an hour.  I put my name on the list and returned to the truck with A/C and Lucy to wait.

But...now what?  No social media, no messaging. No MUSIC.  I had to sit there, like a savage, and listen to the RADIO.  (hey, local IRL friends: KBRC & KAPS are on the FM dial now.  Totally weird)  I am going to throw a book in the truck when I finish writing this.

You know what I hate?  Well, that but this too: Commercials.  And static.  And music that I don't chose.   #firstworldproblems #myprivelegeisshowing

I waited thirty minutes then returned to the store.  It would STILL be at least an hour, which is puzzling but okay.  I asked where else I could go.  Across the street to the big store that rhymes with test guy and I left.  They could make an APPOINTMENT for 3:00 pm today.  Because WHY NOT.  

Frustrated, I returned to the original store and they put me back on the list and it's STILL an hour, even though I just wasted 10-15 minutes.  So, I asked AGAIN, where else I could go.  Turns out there is an outlet in the next town, less than five minutes away from where I was standing. 


The store didn't look open upon approach, which would have been on par for the day.  But it was, there was one lone employee helping a woman in her seventies to figure out her phone. (literally: "I have my phone, check. I have my camera, check. I have my contacts, check" ad nauseum.  Again, completely on par for the day.

Eventually it was my turn and I have to ask: is it bad that he flinched when I held up my phone?  At least by that time, it had stopped vibrating.  Oh, and it would chime when I got a notification and I could see what app notification it was, I just couldn't get to it.

I had one question about the phone and then the race was on.  Kevin and I had just talked about new phones last weekend so I'd already decided what I wanted for When The Time Came.   I chose a phone (Samsung Galaxy 22) and a utilitarian case. (why do salespeople always offer me the glitter case?  Do I look like a sixteen-year-old girl named Cher?) 

Then I asked "Is it safe to assume that all the charging cords are different?"  
"Yes, and no." he says.  Then he picked up a black cube and asks if I have one.  It turns out that I did, it is the original end to the charger cable.  We don't use it because we use USB ports to charge.  I knew it was in a box, in Monica's Closet, and just all the sighs.
"Throw in a wireless charger" I answered.  We're at the Nothing Matters Anymore point of this adventure.

Then guess what...I couldn't remember my password for the account that all android phones need.  I could unlock my Phone and my Account but I couldn't open the app that I needed to do all.the.things.  Guess where my password is...in my contacts...in the phone I can't open or at home, twenty minutes away.

AND It just occurred to me that he WAS able to open my contacts, because they are stored in the carrier back-up system.  Mydog.

He put the screen protector on the new phone, something called liquid glass.  It's supposedly durable for people like me.  As he finishes, he mentions in what I can best describe as a Kindergarten Teacher voice "This has to sit, untouched, for thirty-minutes.  So I'm putting it back into the box and you can take it out after the thirty minutes is up."  And he did just that as he was telling me.  Fair enough, my man.

I went back to the truck and a tired/bored Lucy.  I told her that we would just go pick up groceries then we could go home.  EXCEPT.  Except I can't touch my phone for 25 minutes and I need my phone to pick up my groceries.  Sonofabiscuiteatingdog.

Okay, new plan.  "Would you like some FRIES?" I asked Lucy.  That's a dumb question, of course she would like fries.  We went through the fast food drive-through and Lucy shot me a look as I tucked the bag of food under my feet.  "Wanna go the PARK?  Wanna go to the RIVER?"  Yes, she did. But she also wanted fries.  

Two minutes later and we're at the park, sitting in A/C, and eating fries.  When we finished, I asked her "Want to go find SQUIRRELS?"  because at this point, I didn't have the energy to walk all the way down to the river.  We walked through the trees and she hunted and pottied then we returned to the truck.  It still hadn't quite been the thirty minutes.  Sigh. (benefit and drawback of living in a small town)

I drove to the grocery store, parked and unboxed my phone. It had been 35 minutes and I get a sticker for following the rules.  I started it up and plugged in the car charger.  I checked in via phone for my groceries then texted Kevin to tell him I was part of the 21st Century again.

My nerves had noticeably calmed by now, the food and walkies and no longer being isolated from the world had helped.  I started to make a plan "We'll go home, put the phone on the charger, unload the groceries, then I'll finish setting up my phone."  Lucy agreed but she wanted to stop at the coffee stand for treats first.  

As I was driving, I was trying not to awfulize.  I knew I had my password and that it would enable the retrieval of some of my phone stuff.  Usually when I get a new phone, I'll set the new and old side-by-side and set the new phone up accordingly.  I can't do this though and that had me spinning.

Additionally, I knew that one app doesn't have a backup feature, which has frustrated me in the past.  Yet, I still use it.  (the color notes app)  I knew my photos backed up as of midnight the night before so I only lost what I had taken that day.  

Unrelated, I've been working on updating the passwords list and converting it to a spreadsheet instead of written in the address book.  I had concentrated on accounts and wifi and such that I was worried about passwords for social media and apps. 

Then because there needs to be more proof that I'm such a nerd, I went to the photos backup and searched "screenshot" because I KNEW that I had at least one accidental screenshot of the home screen of my phone.  I did, it was a little older but it was a start.  

I made a list based from that photo.  I have three files on my home screen, because NERD.  One is "Fun Stuff" which is all my social media.  The other is "Nerd Tools" which is the calculator, calendar, Maps, weather, Shazaam and IMBD.  The last is Music and Books, which has my music apps, podcast app, and audible.  So, that would be suggestion to everyone: keep one screenshot of your homepage so if this ever happens, you have a baseline to begin.

At least now I had a plan.  Next up, go to the app store and download all the apps.  I knew it wouldn't restore everything but it was a start.  I am trying to ignore the passwords issues.  Download all the apps then worry about passwords was the plan.

And then Kevin's photo showed up on the home page.  Ooooh, there's a tiny glimmer of hope. I had my contacts and home screen.  Suddenly, I realized that I have become that little old lady in the store from a few hours before.  The universe thinks it's so funny.

I redid the pay app and it prompted me to call the bank. I glanced at the clock and it was 4:45 on a Friday.  Whew.  Five minutes later and that part was back up and running again.  Check that off of the list, grandma.

Kevin got home from work and wanted to go to dinner, which is unusual for a Friday.  (sidenote: he's still really tired from the Graves but he's trying to push through/pretend he's not sick)  As we were leaving the house, I realized that I still had to hook up my phone to the truck...and the other truck.  I still had to reload my music and dogdamn it, my downloaded music is NOT backed up anywhere.  Luckily, I only used that playlist for flights or when reception is bad so not all is lost, just add it to the frustrations.

It is simply astounding how much of our lives we have on our phones.  The phone book, the bank app(s) the music, all the social media.  All the tools that used to be found around the house - calculator, calendar, weather - are now stored in this little weird box.

We returned from dinner and I was still messing with my phone.  I wanted to check a ringtone and reached for my headphones.  Well, because of course, the new phone does NOT have a headphone jack.  Everything is wireless.  The earbuds Kevin gave me for Christmas are too big for my child-sized ears.  No worries, I'll grab my noise-cancelling headphones.  

And also NOPE.  It auto-connects with my old phone, which is STILL powered on and I still can't shut it off.  This renders the headphones useless until the phone battery is dead. (it's a little after noon and the phone still has 8% battery. I put it in my desk drawer because I just can't with that)

Kevin knew this was about to the The Thing that sends me over.  "Just order new earbuds" he says in the Hostage Negotiator Tone.  "Tomorrow" I sigh, with the tiniest of a pout.  Because I still have to log into the store app to buy said earbuds.

So, moral of the story: don't drop your phone is the obvious one.  The real moral is Back that Sh*t Up for all the stuff on your phone.  Use the carrier, use the android/fruit apps, use the manufacturer apps, use the app backup features. Use the google and the amazonprime features.  There really is just so much stored on our phones that we have to adult and do these things.  Learn from me and avoid this whole thing. *waving of my hands* 

And: additional happy ending: the notes app 100% restored somehow.  WHEW.  But I'm still going to use another one, just in case.  

And, and  I'm ordering Kevin a new phone too.  And times three: the charging pad is 100% whatever I paid for it.  Recommend!  

Finally, as Kevin patiently reminded me: it can always be worse.  A new phone is not the end of the world.  It just feels like it sometimes.