30 March 2018

Don't Call Your Mother

In case you're wondering about what life with aging parents might look like...

Kevin received a phone call stating the title of this bloggitty about a month ago.  He phones his mom every morning to literally make sure that everyone made it through the night.  But his dad phoned him and said the above.

Like most things these days, it takes a deep breath and eye-roll before being able to respond like a reasonable adult.  "Why not? What's wrong?"

"Well, her phone won't ring."

Kevin tried to get more information but asking his dad questions is not unlike asking a five-year-old a question.  You're going to get details you don't need. This is a good visualization:
Image result for family circus billy map

Then Kevin phones me and immediately apologizes.  "Can you go next door and see what's happening?"  This is one of those moments when I wished I drank.

I walk over there and I have to leave Lucy inside because they take care of my brother-in-laws dog whom I dislike and is mean to Lucy.  So just entering the house is a thing.  I mention that they live in a Park Model Home, so it's 400 square feet.  Perfect size for two elderly people, a small dog and an ill-behaved boxer.  Anyway...

Oh, and imagine either sports, COPS, or CNN being on blast while you're there.  And that Kevin's dad not-whistles all.the.time (not whistling = randomly blowing air out of your mouth, making a shushing sound)

Then it's the five minute thing to figure out what is happening.  There are a few things: Kevin's dad will joke because reasons instead of just telling us what is happening.  Kevin's mom isn't a good reporter and will make something up if she can't remember or doesn't want to tell us.  So I've learned to just start from scratch with anything.  Make no assumptions!

Oh and it's been doing this for two days.  Kevin checks in every day, usually twice.  Two days and they don't tell us. We live next door.  They see us come home from work every day.  I get home at 3:00.  Two days!!

I sat down and dialed her phone with my phone. "Oh, we did that. It doesn't work."  Deep sigh, "Yes I know but I need to see what it does and hear what message I receive."  It's like they think I don't believe them and I kinda don't but we'll move on.

Indeed it doesn't ring and it just says that the customer isn't available.  I go through the settings to make sure that she didn't put it in airplane mode or whatever.  She's been known to shut stuff off then steadfastly deny it. 

Then I check my app to make sure that the phone is still active. (more on that in a minute)  Finally I turn it off and turn it back on.  It works.

So, now I'm magic.  I fix all the things.

Two weeks go by and Kevin's dad phones during dinner.  Kevin was literally, physically IN THEIR HOUSE twenty minutes ago.  "Your mothers phone isn't working again."

Kevin disconnects and tells me. 
"OFFS!" I exclaim. 
Our patience is so worn at this point. 

We trudge over there and again the phone won't ring.  BUT, this time the battery is also dead.  So we have to deduce which came first: the non-ringing, the dead battery?  It's a chicken/egg thing.

Oh, and she doesn't have a cord for it, because wait for it, the dogs chewed it.
Now there's the discussion of how they need to make sure the phone is charged in case she falls, Kevin's dad is gone, whatever. This is completely new information to her.  AUUUUGGGGHHHH.

We restarted the phone and it worked again.  Now we explain how we need to know this as soon as possible so she's not without a phone and so I can address it before I leave from work, in case I need to stop at the phone store for, oh you know, a phone charger.  This time it has been two days.

Now this is the other part: They also use our internet.  We momentarily tried to use Kevin's brother's but it didn't work because of course it doesn't.

After THREE DAYS of not having internet, they finally phoned me to come see what the problem was.  "Well, we didn't want to bother you..."  "We don't now what's wrong."

Now, all she does at this point of her life is watch CNN and play with her tablet so this is kind of a big deal.  But, they didn't initially tell me that it had been three days.

I do all the stuff I know to reconnect.  Finally, I had to call Verizon to see what has happened.  Well, I thought I had taken the suspension off her account when we discovered she couldn't use the other house's internet but I made a mistake and it was disconnected.  Five minutes later and it was back up and running.

I mention to them that it's been three days.  "Oh, no! It hasn't been that long!"  Yes, it has because Verizon probably doesn't have time to lie to me.  And it's both of them, they're complicit.  So we've had to coach Kevin's dad to tell us when something isn't right because Kevin's mom will literally lie about it. 

I used to say that it's like raising teenagers but this is more like four-year-olds who have actual cookie crumbs on their mouths and blame the dog for the cookies being gone.

So, there you go, in case you're wondering what it's like raising elderly parents.

27 March 2018

Silent Films

One of the last parts of the photo project for my mom has taken a long time for me to finish.  She had a few reels of 8 mm film that we weren't sure what was on them. They were from my dad and maybe from my grandma, my mother thought.

I took them to the local camera shop (yeah, I know right, there is still such a thing) who sent them off to be put onto a dvd.  According to the interwebs, the wally world and other chain stores will do it too but I had trust issues with that idea.

Heartbreakingly, one roll couldn't be processed because the chemical used to develop the film has been banned due to toxicity.  Whatever is on that roll is lost to history.  Instead, it is on my bookshelf until maybe technology makes development possible.

It took almost three weeks and now those films are now on one dvd.  Technology is amazing but it is expensive; over $100 for less than 30 minutes of footage.  And, there's no audio.  I was pretty disappointed about that.

I uploaded it to the youtube so it's stored forever somewhere.  Then put a link on the facebook for the brothers, nieces, and cousins.  It's one of those things that maybe something will be important to someone else someday.

The videos are all pre-my existence so we're guessing mid-1960's.  It started with grainy video of a parade in my dad's hometown.  I think maybe two of the people on horseback is my great aunt and uncle. It also looks like it's across the street from where my mom worked as a waitress before she was married.

Then it switches to video of my eldest brother as a baby, in one of those now illegal bouncy/rolly seats.  He's maybe six months old. I so wish there was audio.

My dad worked for the Washington State Department of Transportation for awhile.  One of the jobs he did was bridge inspection.  There is video of the underneath of Deception Pass bridge.  You can see that my dad was on the girders from the vantage point and he made sure to video the water rushing underneath them.  Then it segues into the Swinomish Slough bridge in the early 60's.  I can't tell if it's an inspection or not.  It's interesting only in seeing the cars drive by.

There is about a thirty-second segment of my brothers playing in the yard while my mom mowed.  They're about three and eight, maybe.  They look so happy; I remember mostly surly teenage boys because of the age difference.  That my mom was mowing while my dad was doing other things is a perfect encapsulation of their relationship.

The next reel is the home movies equivalent of vacation slides, from a fishing boat going to Alaska.  This happened while my mom was pregnant with me, I believe. (another shining example of my dad's commitment to family)  It's footage starting at the Ballard Locks and the ship name is Sea Comber. Then
LOTS of footage that was probably interesting to him but is boring af now, especially with no audio.

It finishes with another vignette of my brothers swimming on our old dock.  The dock looks just like it did when I was a child.  My brothers are older in this part so I'm guessing it was probably filmed the summer I was a baby, so 1969.

The discovery of this was interesting but a little disappointing.  I don't know what I expected but I kind of hoped it was more. I think it was a situation where the unknown was much more interesting than the reality.

So as to not end this on a bummer note, double-check with grandparents, aunts & uncles, etc. for these kind of gems.  While I was disappointed, there could have been something significant there that would have continued languishing unknown and undiscovered in a drawer.

24 March 2018

23 March 2018

They Make Paint Everyday

I love watching home reno shows.  My favorites are Fixer Upper, Property Brothers, and Main Cabin Masters.  Flip or Flop Atlanta and Nashville are contenders as well. However, I can't even with the househunter shows.

I'm not a fan of  the Tiny House movement, even though our house is smaller than most.  When I look at those tiny homes, all I can think of is that it is great if nothing ever goes wrong; because no one ever ages or gets sick or injured.

But here's some things that flip my switch (see what I did there?)

I'm not a cooker so kitchens are not important to me.  I can understand the want for the chef's kitchen but I think living space is more important.  So many times I see kitchens that are just fine but these people are all "Eeew, gross."

And really, everything is cyclical.  What is cool now isn't going to be cool in a few years.  So I'm always a little skeptical when people say the kitchen needs updating.  I mean sometimes just a coat of paint and new appliances will do the trick.

"Room for my shoes"  Cue: eyeroll.  This supersedes "I need my glamour closet" by fractions. You need bigger problems if that is a priority.

I don't understand the "Kids need a playroom."  When I was growing up that was called my bedroom.

I laugh every time I see people moving out to the country because they want a big yard.  Rarely do they look like folks who can handle a riding lawn mower, trimming trees, and other tasks that are required by large yards.  I just think to myself: budget for a landscaper.

Now let's talk about a phrase I could live the remainder of my life hearing again: Open Concept.  Anyone who doesn't have it and want it needs to listen to me, because Imagine:
watching television while someone is in the kitchen banging pots, washing dishes, etc.
Or when you make a particular pungent meal that now permeates the entire house.
Or being able to see that you didn't do the dishes from most vantages in your house.
Imagine having your phone conversation being heard through the majority of your home.
Or as someone on one of those shows pointed out: "I can't be naked in my own home because you can see everywhere."  You laugh but now think of all the times you left something in the dryer that you needed when you are getting dressed.

I agree that open concept looks nice and can be appealing. Our small cottage home is low key open concept with the kitchen and living room so this is how I know of which I speak. But open concept can mean no privacy also.

Garage conversion.  I will clutch my pearls when I see people turn the garage into something else.  We're back to the "You aren't going to be young forever" idea. And where is their storage going to be?

Now to the title of this bloggity post.  I want to yell at people who see a house or a room and state "Oh, it's...blue."  OFFS, they make paint every day. 

I know that the design of the show (again, see what I did there?) is to find folks the perfect home but in reality, there isn't the perfect home. Every house is going to take work to make it into a home. 

To me most of the fun is that work.  We've only been in this house twelve years and it looks very different than when we began.  That's the fun of it.

And guess what this summer's project is?  PAINTING.  So point me to this post when I'm complaining.

18 March 2018

Passive Resistance

It's difficult to feel like there is anything one can effectively do in this political climate right now.  The Parkland Teens have been Ah-MAZING and brave and they give me hope for the future.

I mentioned during the Christmas shopping post that I considered relocating the biographies of He Who Shan't Be Named to the trash bin aisle but just turned the covers inward instead.  Well, I've been methodically doing the same with a certain tabloid-publication-that-only-old ladies-buy-that-is-located-at the-checkout-stands.  I without fail, even if people are standing there, will flip it so the covers face inward.  It's a tiny thing but it makes me happy.

This morning I was waiting in the grocery store checkout and I scanned for that tabloid.  I didn't see it so I figured I was just on an aisle that didn't have it.  Then I noticed something:

The lovely Pacific Northwest is pot friendly so the presence of the magazine isn't a big deal. It's what it is on top of.  I LOVE whoever did this and they have given me inspiration.

Social media can be dicey these days.  I have close friends and family with very differing opinions so we have strayed away from making political posts out of respect.  But it's getting more difficult to do because that same respect isn't accorded to me and I'm getting pretty tired of being bashed.  Instead I will like all the "liberal" posts so I know they probably pop up on people's feeds.  They can block me or whatever, I don't care.  At this point, I don't know that I need friends who are standing behind what is going on right now.

So, I post on the facebook silly memes and puppy photos.  I use the insta for photography only. But my twitter has become semi-political, using retweets mostly.  I try to offset that with nonsense like Allison Winn Scotch's White House cabinet comprised solely of dogs. 

I signed up for Resistbot.  It sends texts to remind you to contact your legislators, either state or federal and helps you with topics.  It auto generates emails to said legislators.  I've received responses from my congresspeople so it does appear to work.

I sign petitions from MoveOn, Everytown, Human Rights Campaign, etc.  It is a little thing but it feels like you're doing something.  I will warn you: it blows up your email a little bit so a clever person (not me) might create a blind email box just for these. 

I've called Congress but that is a little intimidating and not for everyone. But once you're done, it feels pretty cool.  You just called CONGRESS.  The trick is to find a script online and then you don't have to worry about what you're going to say.  Believe it or not, FAXING is also a thing. You can fax Congress!

These are passive ways to resist that I mention because Marching isn't for everyone (but I fear we may be forced to) so this might help a little. 

What really kicked my ass was a tweet from a few months ago.  If this doesn't motivate and possible scare a person just a little...

09 March 2018

Your Language is Offensive

One would think that because I've worked in Social Services and Early Childhood Ed most of my life that I wouldn't curse.  Oh, but I do.  I'm very skilled but unfortunately, it is not something one can put on a resume.

But in some settings I'm pretty creative.  "Sonofabiscuiteatingdog" was one that I've said since high school.  I have no idea of it's origin.  With my brain, anything is possible.

A thousand years ago I knew a child who used to say "Shootdarnit" and I find myself saying that a lot.  Almost without fail, Kevin will reply: "HEY! Language!"  which always makes me laugh.

Also a long time ago, I had a friend who was Christian but often dropped the gawdammit.  In Kevin's family that one is verboten.  Of all the curses, that is like the top one. I've infrequently heard the eff bomb dropped so it's probably #2 on the list but absolutely no gawdammit. 

The most popular one in my family? Yeah, the above.  It was quite a learning curve for me in the beginning.  So it was replaced with "God Bless America." 

My former husband was called Bonehead because I couldn't say prick to my mom. So there's that.

When we hang with our Canadian friends, all bets are off. It takes me about three days to re-acclimate to being American again.  They use "eff" like punctuation.  It's just not a big deal to them.  If it slips through, I usually apologize and say "My Canadian is showing."

"Go to Hell" is also not allowed, in either family now that I think of it.  The current situation in our government has forced me to be really creative.  "Die in a fiery plane crash" is often my go-to.  I've also wished them a "Very uncomfortable chair in Hell." 

Nephew says "Die in a fire" when he's super pissed at something, which is very rare.  I'm somewhere between wincing and laughing with that one.  Although "die in a fiery plane crash" is on par with it.

Kevin says "Mother Bear!" instead of mother-effer when I'm around and it makes me laugh every time.  Every once in a while he slips though and it's something I very much enjoy because dude never looses his cool. 

Two Kevin favorites:  we broke down in a SUPER CHRISTIAN town years ago.  (Blue laws still on the books, Footloose kind of SUPER CHRISTIAN town.) Kevin was under our trailer trying to fix something and he was cursing a lot ON A SUNDAY.  Finally, I ripped out of the truck and whispered/yelled "You are going to get ARRESTED!"

He dropped "C...sucker" once and I was laughing so hard I actually got out of the truck and walked away.  There's just something about Mr. Diplomacy busting out the big boy words that takes me out.

Finally, one phrase I've never heard anywhere but from Kevin is "Fight, Eff, or hold the light."  He picked it up from a family member who is a Vietnam Vet so I'm guessing there's a story there. When Kevin is getting frustrated with anyone being indecisive, (me, it's usually me)  he'll say it. It's like a warning shot.

In these stressful days, the need to curse is cathartic.  Unfortunately, we're not always able to so creativity is required.