28 June 2021

It's a Snow Day

 If you watched or read the national news, you're aware that the beautiful Pacific Northwest is in the midst of a terrible heat wave.  It is supposed to subside, sorta, tonight but remain in the mid-80's until at least New Year's Eve.  Climate change is real, y'all.

Last night  when we went to bed at 10:00, it was 85 degrees.    The high temp yesterday was 109, the highest I've ever experienced.  I didn't leave the house until I went outside to water the garden for the first time in a few days because it's been too hot to merely step outside.  As reflected by the step counter app on my phone:

Today is supposed to be the worst day, ever.  Literally.  I stayed up after Kevin left, because I had a plan.  I opened all the windows and doors.  I went outside and watered again, this time wetting the walkways and foundation of the house.  I did one load of laundry and all of my chores.  Then I showered so I could start closing off the house. 

It's 68 degrees in the living room and I am wearing a hoodie. I also have socks on and a blanket. My hands are cold. It's been that cool since Kevin left and I'm hoping that it will stay around that temperature for most of the day.  My discomfort now will be a benefit later at bedtime, hopefully.

The main bath and my office has constant sunlight so they become saunas, no matter what precautions I try. Thank goodness for the common folk bathroom and for flexibility with my work.  I called out for the rest of the week but am not telling the family so it's a true vacation.  Meanwhile, those rooms are off-limits until this settles down.

I dragged my projects out to the kitchen: a towering stack of unread magazines, a laptop that we've sold and I need to ensure I've done everything I need to, my laptop so I can write this post and check into work. If I get desperate, I will start the photo project again.

It's been too hot for Lucy to be outside, much to her dismay.  We haven't done walkies since Thursday and she's getting antsy.  I took her to the treat stand then rolled all the windows down in the truck on the way home so her senses could get a workout.  

Kevin had an episode, called a "storm", from his Graves Disease last night.  His body can't sustain in high temps/high humidity.  It results in extreme sweat, weakness, shortness of breath, and disorientation.  It usually takes about 24-hours for him to bounce from it.  So, luckily, he's at work and outside today.  Sigh.  This is the first one he's had for quite a while so that's good, I guess.  It had been so long that it took me a minute to realize what was happening. The remedy is a cold shower, protein and water, and rest.  Which is most times like trying to put socks on a toddler.

There were two threads on the twitter with instructions what to do when it's this hot.  I've found them very helpful and supportive.  One of them made the interesting point that this heat wave isn't going to be just a one-off occurrence so make a plan now.  Here they are, in case you are experiencing this craziness as well:

Bossy Plan  and Australian Plan

The other posts I noticed where people telling others to STFU about "We're used to those temps all the time, stop being a baby."  We are not used to this. We are a moss based organism.  We call June "June-uary"  Our summer starts July 5th.  Also, it's like judging the Texas citizens when they had snow and freezing temps and were wholly unprepared.  They weren't supposed to have snow and we're not supposed to be in the hundreds.

It occurred to me on the way home that this is like a Snow Day.  In the winter, I stay home usually when there is snow on the ground.  I worry about power outages (our lights have flickered over the past 24 hours), our satellite and internet are wonky, and I tend to bunker down.  It's a Snow Day today, but a Sun Day.  It feels odd to stay indoors when it's sunny but I'm a big fan of my skin.

Hopefully this will be helpful, if nothing else provide solidarity in this heat.  Meanwhile, stay cool Pony Boy.

26 June 2021

Two Chairs, Two Tables, and a Closet

One of the "fun" things about having an alphabet brain is getting obsessive about something for small periods of time then the complete abandonment of said thing.

This brings us to What Did Surely Take Apart Now - the Tables She Hates edition. Oh and Chairs. Wait, and the Closet.

When I refinished the dining table, the chairs no longer matched.  They were also way, way, worn and  inexpensive chairs to begin with.    I've been looking for chairs for about a year now; looking defined as half-heartedly and sort of waiting for chairs to fall from the sky. I don't want new because I'm frugal and would rather recycle.  I've been looking for chairs in second hand shops, reclamation stores, and online.  

Finally, and unexpectedly, I found a pair of chairs on the social media marketplace.  Of course they were located two towns away but they were what I wanted.  Kevin was skeptical about buying chairs we've never sat on and without being seen.  But Pandemic Kevin seems to have given up on me with my projects and ideas.

So, just trying to arrange getting these chairs was a thing.  She wasn't available one day but was available the Friday evening.  I explained it was my anniversary so I wasn't available.  She countered with Saturday morning, to which I'm all "Umm, ANNIVERSARY. What makes you think that would still be an option."  Instead of saying that, I asked for another day.  We finally settled on Monday morning.  

So it was a little exciting to have Something To Do on a Monday morning.  It was about a 40 minute drive so that was nice.  It's in a rural area where Covid isn't a thing (sarcasm) so school was in session, to my surprise.  It was in a nicer neighborhood so it's always fun to roll up in my slightly loud, older SUV.

It turned out that they were what I wanted: sturdy, antique, and worn.  I happily loaded them, stopped at the hardware store on the way home, went home and immediately began to sand them...in my living room.  In my defense, it was raining.  And I'm the one who cleans the house so...

In process and in comparison to the old chairs

They don't look as light as in the photo

Because this is the third time that I've refinished, the process went pretty quickly.  And...I'm mostly satisfied.  I'd prefer them a little darker but so far not enough to do the actual work to make that happen.  I'm nearly out of projects so a return to this one is absolutely possible.  (and so much time has passed since I started this post that I have applied two more coats of stain)

Another view
Photographing something surrounded by windows, sigh.

Now I still want to find two more chairs, in case there is ever anyone else here for dinner.  I want something similar but not necessarily the same.  Because of Lucy's bed, they won't be placed at the table but in my office or wherever until needed.  

This leaves the tables I inherited and didn't want.  Well, the first one I wanted.  It's in the mud room and holds our keys and we've had it a long time.  The second one I did not want, but took anyway because it was important to my mother-in-law. She no longer remembers those tables so super glad I did that. #dementiaissuperfun

The mate to the key table has moved around the house a few times until becoming a side table after our buying chairs/remodeling the living room adventure.  Called into action not because I wanted it but because I needed it.  It had been refinished once, maybe. It has grooves in it where something heavy probably was dragged across it.  Of the two tables, it was in the worse shape.  I have no before photos, even though I am pretty sure I took them.  I'm also pretty sure that I used the snapchat and didn't save them.  Sigh.

Sanded, mostly. The grooves and weird edge can still be seen

Nevertheless, I started with the table in the mud room.  The logic being if it didn't turn out then I would not refinish the one in the living room AND it lives in the mudroom so no one would really see it.  Even a loss is a win in this situation.

Well, looky here. It turned out nice.  The A.d.d. immediately wanted to start on the other table but cooler heads prevailed.  And I was out of some supplies.

Still can't believe this turned out so nice

Now I'm out of furniture to refinish, unless I decide to do my desk.  It's not off the list but it will be a BIG job.  The desk can't be taken out of the room so it would require all the work to happen where it sits.  And the complete disassembly of my work station so I need to think about that.

My last project can best be described by Kevin's comment when he saw it completed: "What the eff is wrong with you."  (said in a funny, not mean way)   I painted our walk-in closet.  I saw it on the interwebs and it intrigued me.

Now most of the closets were calm colors, like greys or creams.  I went a different way.  Years ago, a friend ours painted her windowless bathroom this color and I loved it.  LOVED it.  The paint guy at the little hardware store actually laughed when I asked for it.

So, now I'm sort of out of projects. Until the other day when I learned that I am most likely working from home for the next school term, at least.

Now I've bought paint for the office, I'm looking at refinishing my giant desk, and there is and always will be: Monica's Closet.

24 June 2021

Alternative Therapy

I spun out a little while making dinner.  This didn't used to be unusual, lol, when I didn't know how to cook. But this was out of the norm for me.  There were too many things on the counter for my brain to function.  I actually had to stop what I was doing and put stuff away or move it, in order to continue.

So what's wrong with me, you're wondering. Surely, that's not normal.  (that sentence works as a question and a statement. ha!)

I'm a big fan of Grey's Anatomy, always have been.  No, that's not what's wrong.  As always, there's a scenic route to where I'm going.  Again, I'm a big fan.  I will watch it all day long even though I've seen all of the episodes, multiple times. Quote it regularly.  One of things that I appreciate is the openness about mental health.  

I have been in the dark and twisty place.  

It happens from time to time and usually I roll/bounce quickly enough.  But this one is holding on for a while.  Some of it's chemical/hormonal.  Some of it's environmental and some of it is personal.  I wish that I could say that it's mercury in refrigerator or just, like, one thing. But nope.

Acclimating back to "normal" life seems daunting and I can't want to.
My bio family still are refusing to vaccinate - continually putting me in the position of declining invites.
My in-laws are back-sliding more every day.
Zombies have returned for a little visit.  (implying they're leaving soon)

So I'm doing all the things I usually do when this happens:
  •   Try to eat on a schedule. This is a struggle probably only for me.
  •   Taking Lucy for walkies (in the mornings now because it's HOT here in the PNW)
  •   Trying to stay on any sort of schedule
  •   Have a project to work on.  
  •   Doing self-care like getting a drink at our friend's coffee stand, reading outside on the deck, and       working in the garden when it's not the temperature of the sun outside.  
  •   Listening to music that doesn't bum me out (Classic Vinyl on SIRIUSXM or Jack Johnson on constant shuffle or a playlist on my phone that's labelled LOUD)

Meanwhile, right now, I'm working because I have actual work to do for once. Because BONUS: I'm in the slow period of my work.  I am wearing my noise-cancelling headphones so I can concentrate. Alone, in my own house. Also, I've employed one of my tricks that helps like therapy:  

I'm listening to Christopher Titus "Norman Rockwell is Bleeding".  It's one of my favorite things in the whole world.  I have it on dvd and in my amazonmusic.  This show is like therapy for me on so many levels.  He talks about dysfunctional parents and cars and tells stories that feel like stories my friends would tell.  I've heard it twenty times and I still laugh.

I'm not out of projects but the projects I have aren't going to be easy ones so I'm avoiding them.  They involve Monica's Closet and my office.  It's going to require organization, painting, and patience.  So, drops in the bucket will be employed.

So, I'm still here, chugging along here in the background.  I'll throw up unfinished posts or whatever until my brain resets back to where it belongs. Should be any second now...

Finally, here's another very random thing that I've found helps: therapy tiktok.  Look it up, because there are some amazing people on that app.  I find it interesting how a one-minute video can help.  There are also meditation videos that are kind of helpful.  The only issue is tiktok is addictive and seems to create a tear in the time/space continuum. Two hours of watching dog videos seem like ten minutes.  So, if you didn't already know, you've been warned.

10 June 2021

Canine Bankruptcy

Lucy has become a high roller.  We spent $556 dollars yesterday to find that she's a) in perfect health, 2) she strained her left knee and c) sometimes dogs just don't feel good.  YEAH.

Monday morning she wasn't herself, didn't eat breakfast and just slept in our bed all morning.  I went to work for a few hours and when I returned, she wasn't feeling good and wouldn't let me pet her beyond her mid-section. She also wouldn't lay down on her sides, just lay in the sphinx pose.  

I called our vet and they couldn't see her until THURSDAY.  I scheduled an appointment, just in case, then called every vet in two counties. Finally an unavailable vet recommended one in my hometown. I phoned and they took her first thing the next morning. Because now it's like 4:30 pm. Also, hooray small towns.

Kevin and I had the discussion of using emergency pet care but the cost is prohibitive unless the dog is in terrible shape, shall we say.  My sibling in-laws have taken their dog, the one that I don't like because it's mean to Lucy,  multiple times and it has been No Less Than $1000 per visit.  Don't get me started on how that feels like extortion.

Also, the above mentioned dog has cost them over $10,000 in procedures.  It's a boxer with papers and has all the health issues and behaviors that breed is prone to.  Plus owners who don't take care of her properly.  (people food, not trained to behave alone in the house, not trained to be around other animals)

Kevin and I discussed multiple times the "How much is Too Much?" and we disagree.  I believe Kevin would be a Whatever It Takes person if he weren't married to me.  In the past 60-days we've spent just under $800 on her and I'm getting a little bitter about it. (this is not a humblebrag but more of a @#$#!) This also leads me to the Just Because We Can Save Them, Doesn't Mean We Should. Quality of life and remaining life span needs to be considered.  And debt.  I apply this to humans as well.   

Anyway. I didn't realize I had so much to say about that.

Lucy didn't eat dinner Monday night and she needed to be ON us. Not next to, but ON us.  So she slept in the people bed and she was obviously in pain.  To the point that Kevin slept on the bedroom floor with her for a while.  (I know, right?)  She was just as bad in the morning and didn't eat breakfast or leave the people bed.

Going to the vet, she was horrible in the truck, wanting to get UP onto the dash, trying to lay at my feet, trying to get in my lap. I honestly don't know how I didn't wreck my truck. Finally we got to the vet and she was all Perfect Dog.  Sigh.  She let the vet touch her hind-quarters and tummy and do all the necessary things without a peep.  But he said that it was clear her tummy was upset.  She had the tiniest of a temperature.

They kept her for x-rays and bloodwork and I had to go home without her.  UGH.   FIVE HOURS later, I went to pick her up.  After being together every day, all day for a year and a half, that was not my favorite.

Her blood work is perfect, her organs are perfect ("If you ever need something, here's your donor" the vet said)   Her spine is great, her joints are great, her tummy is fine.  She has a slight heart murmur but that's common for a dog her age.  He said that if he didn't know the demographics of the dog, he would have bet that she was a much younger dog.  

While this is nice, I'm yelling in my head "Then why am I here!?!"     The most he could find was inflammation in her left knee.  I "jokingly" said that we were here because she wanted attention and he said something like "maybe."  Double sigh.  Except she was really not feeling well and not acting right.  

So, it's a good guess that she ate something that didn't agree with her and also hurt her knee hunting and that it just was coincidental. So, whew.  I also think she's nine and we're seeing Old Dog Behavior.  

I brought her home and she was SO HIGH.  Omg, so high.  I'm going to hell for laughing at her.  Thus the social media posts.  Here's my favorite:

You have to tell me if you're a cop

She slept with us all night, like a people between us.  Not a peep nor a movement.  She slept all morning on the people bed in her blanket, while I worked.  She whined at one point and I checked on her.  I think she didn't know how to get down. She was still a little high.

Also, I let her outside on the deck and she didn't quite know what to do.  I let her in the yard and she walked like she'd never experienced grass before, lol.  Now she's sleeping on the deck and will randomly wander the house.  She's whined twice and I think it's because she can't see me.  GREAT.  I hope that's not going to be a habit.

Also, her whining has been Next Level today.  It's like she learned from the other dogs at the vet. Super.

Meanwhile, we're supposed to take it easy for a few days so I'm skipping walkies until Friday.  I asked the vet about the walkies suggestion and he said that it was clearly working so keep going. A little part of me was hoping for "No, that's too much.".  Not that I hate it, it's just work sometimes because I can't just walk out our door for a walk; we have to go somewhere.

In the end, we found a new vet because I liked his approach.  He offered to see her for free if she acts up like that again in the next little while.  It's a small town vet office like you would see in the movies.  Her other vet is a larger, newer clinic and doesn't have that same vibe.  

Now I'm going to go research pet insurance.  

03 June 2021

Adventures in Parenting

 I haven't told a parent story for a while, I realized.  The pandemic has kind of limited their ability to make us crazy.  Oh, there's the usual electronical things like when they turned down the phone and didn't turn it up so now it's broken.  Or orders from Amazon that she DIDN'T order, just ask her. (now she knows how "easy" it is to do returns, sigh.) 

Or the handful of times they would decide that they were just over the pandemic and would go somewhere.  Kevin did a good job at just stepping back and letting them go.  Sure, he'd throw out a "You're gonna die alone..." here and there but mostly he held his tongue.

And now they're both immunized so they've been shopping and to restaurants multiple times. Don't get me started.  They are still in their eighties and medically fragile.

Kevin's mom was dying to see our house, she's been hearing about my projects and wanted to actually see it.  Kevin went over Sunday at noon to see if she wanted to visit. He would walk her over here.  But she had tired herself out and wanted a little rest first.  Kevin told her he'd check in with her later and came home.

He was moving the clock and artwork on the wall behind the giant television and I was mopping when we both hear a noise.  It was his mother.  Standing in our kitchen.  Unannounced. UNACCOMPANIED.  She had somehow managed to walk over here, on a gravel path, by herself.  No cane, no walker, no oxygen. Nothing.  At least she kept their little dog home, I guess?  My f-i-l was working next door (another don't get me started) and she took the opportunity to sneak over.  She would say "surprise", we say sneak.

Kevin and I were both stunned to silence.  Finally I managed "You are SO grounded" over Kevin's "What in the hell are you doing?"  She did the infuriating "I'm fine" thing when she's so not fine. She was clearly exhausted but didn't want to sit or borrow my cane.  Because reasons.

We recovered quickly enough and Kevin took her on a tour.  It's not like the house is huge, I can hear everything and I did pop in to make an appearance in each room, I just didn't hover.   She liked it very much, became a little weepy seeing our picture wall, and Kevin walked her home.  

We didn't discuss it once he returned, just a raised eyebrow and a heavy sigh.  It wasn't until dinner when I mentioned "SHE DIDN'T EVEN KNOCK."

I've talked about the bras and my m-i-l.  Here's an update: It is STILL happening.  Man, I have some karma to correct somewhere.  Kevin suggested that I hand the issue off to my sister-in-law.  Yeah, tried that and she is uninterested.  Because, you know, I'm ENJOYING this so much.  We're waiting for two more bras to arrive and if those don't fit, then she is going to have to go into a store and get fitted.  

Here's the big one.  Here's the one that made me wish I had alcohol in the house.  

Every.Single.Time. my mother-in-law phones, she asks "Are you sleeping?"  Doesn't matter if it's 6 in the morning or 2 in the afternoon.

She phoned about 4:00 pm and she sounded not quite on this planet.  It's a little early for her to be sundowning so my internal alarm sounded.   After a few seconds of fumbling, she finally got out that she needed help with her bank account and "can you go on the computer and look."

I've always kept financial boundaries firm with the family.  This can be challenging because there are few boundaries in this family.  For example, every year Kevin's brother tries to compare income tax refunds.  Every.Single.Year.  So, yeah, that's a thing.  I'm hesitant to wade into these waters and I'm trying to decide if I need to call Kevin.

She continued to struggle to ask me so I asked her what exactly she needed.  Did she need a bill paid? Did she need to check her balance?   (my blood pressure is rising writing this, just remembering.)

"I just phoned the bank and it says there is no money in our account."


I told her I'd be right over, I just needed to get my laptop.    As I'm getting it and turning it on so it's ready when I walked over there, I'm trying not to panic.  I'm flipping over into Combat Mode, working the problem.  

It's probably a mistake, odds are it's a mistake. 

Except remember when she tried to order something from Facebook?  And Amazon.  

We have funds to cover them if it is something wrong.  But the brother is going to have to buck up too and that will be drama...

Are we at the point of them needing help with their finances because 1.2.3. NOT IT.  

Seconds later, I'm walking over with my laptop and my internet hotspot.  Breathing through it and convincing myself that it is just a mistake.

My father-in-law is in his chair watching WOMEN'S BASKETBALL.  Like nothing is wrong.  

My mother-in-law is at the kitchen table and absolutely no color in her face.  She's struggling with words because she has, rightfully so, melted down.  

I asked her to give me her bank statement so I can create an account.  I asked her if that was okay and she hesitated.  Then I explained that I can't help her if I can't have those things.  Well, how do they balance their checkbook you just wondered.  She CALLS CUSTOMER SERVICE.  

I noticed that she had three credit cards in front of her, all of them from a national bank.  "What are those?"  I asked.  One is a debit, one is a credit, and one is...Are You Ready?...  " a card they just gave me."  Deep breath. Do.not.react. 

She gave me the bank statement and I got to work, like you see in the movies when people are trying to hack into the company computer system.  This is where I say it's FRIGHTENINGLY easy to create an account.  

And...they have a balance.  A big balance, actually.  So...hooray?

Now I'm walking back what happened.  She phoned customer service to check their account.  It appears that she entered the "Card They Just Gave Me" and it has a zero balance.  Because it's a credit card with rewards and they don't use it. She kept pointing out that it was a rewards card until it occurred to me what she meant and I said "It's not like the grocery store."  

Plus, she used that card number - out of three available cards - instead of their account number for reasons that are beyond me.  

I'm vacillating somewhere between wanting to lay down and cry and throwing punches.

Then my sister-in-law phones her.  M-i-l is telling her that I'm looking into it and fixed it.  But she's not being clear because she's still in panic mode.  I literally took the phone out of her hand "Teresa, it's Surely.  It's all good.  It's probably what you thought happened."  She expressed relief, frustration and thanks and we hung up.

Now that I'm not freaking out that we have to pay their bills until this gets fixed, I've flipped into WTF Mode.  She explained again about the card that they just gave her.  I suggested, pretty firmly, that they call the bank and cancel that card.  She's stuck on the "But they gave it to us" so I moved on.  

Next I suggested that she has my s-i-l help with this regularly so we don't freak out the entire family.  She kind of agreed to that.  I suspect that she asks for help more than I know with that.  Whatever, I said the words and I can move on without guilt.

Then I suggested that they keep the larger amount of money in savings instead of in checking.  They have been poor a good portion of their lives and it's my guess that it's comforting to have that big amount in their checking.  However, I pointed out that if this had been Fraud, they would have exactly $211 in savings to live on while it was getting fixed.  This took a couple of tries to get them to understand and I left it unresolved. Yes, I could have transferred the money right then and there but I'm trying to keep boundaries in place.  

So, now it's all fixed.  I texted my s-i-l all of the log-in information so she can do with it what she wants.  I wrote it down for the inevitable next time.

Returning to my house, I texted Kevin to phone me when he gets a moment.  Again, wishing there was alcohol in this damn house.  He phones right away because I never make that request.  I gave him the clif notes version of the story and he's momentarily speechless.  That never happens. He recovers and says thanks for fixing it and that obviously A Conversation is needed.  Again: 1.2.3. Not It.

Then he tells me later that the b-i-l knew but didn't tell Kevin or me.  What the ACTUAL.  I can't even go there in my mind because it's so frustrating.  And then it occurred to me that clearly the s-i-l knew also.  Sigh.

I post this to a) scream uselessly into the void  b) so it's hopefully helpful to someone else who is raising elderly parents.  I have no suggestions because finances are one of those areas that aren't going to be addressed until something goes wrong.  We dodged a bullet and that was our warning shot.