29 June 2023

Bedtime Stories

Unpublished Post because...reasons.

I am usually a night owl. With everything going on, I've found that I fall asleep fairly easily now.  Before that though, I would be up until all hours or sleep for a few hours then be awake in the early hours.  Neither are recommended.  

Sleep aids, like Tylenol worked a little too well, leaving me hungover and there's a correlation between Tylenol and depression so: no.   I tried melatonin and had CRAZY dreams so: EXTRA No.  I have turned the television on, left it off, I've played a word puzzle game on my phone (which surprisingly works well except for the bright glowing rectangle in my face)  I've gotten up and done chores or snuck outside to take photos of the stars.  I've tried many things.

One of the tricks I've stumbled onto with not sleeping through the night, not being able to fall asleep, etc. is podcasts.  I can put earbuds in, set one playing, and next thing I know it's morning.  

Yes, the earbuds probably aren't my best idea. But really, who would be surprised that I died from choking on my own earbuds?  No one, that's who.  Since I've started writing this post - months ago - I have wireless earbuds now. AND they don't work as well as the wired ones.  Go figure.  But the chance is lessened - not eliminated - that I will be killed by earbuds.

It started accidentally when I decided that I wanted to listen to the West Wing Weekly podcast again.  By doing that, I discovered that I fell asleep and slept through the night.  Because I've heard them before, it's not a big deal that I fall asleep and have to begin again or I can just keep going to the next one.

Then I looked into apps, etc. for sleeping apps but couldn't find one that I liked.  They're a little too woowoopeacelovebeads for me.  I found myself annoyed instead of asleep.  Meditation is a challenge for the alphabet brain and when I'm already frustrated that I can't sleep or have woken up, learning a new skill in the middle of the night is probably not my best choice.

Finally, I found Nothing Much Happens.  It's little 30-minute stories that are exactly as the title states.  It's just soothing enough to relax and not interesting enough to become engaged in the story.  Highly recommend.

I have a pretty good list of podcasts that I listen to when my brain allows it. However, not all podcasts are good for middle-of-the-night listening.  I tried listening to one of my favorites - Ross Mathews - but it was too loud, too busy, and my brain stayed awake.

Two of my favorites are Alan Cummings Shelves and David Tennant Has a Podcast.  Not only are the podcasts enjoyable, they're both just so pleasant to listen to.  Neither of them are making new ones so that is disappointing.    Amy Farrah Fowler - also known as Mayim Balik lol - has an interesting one as well. The topics are deep though so sometimes I have to switch.

Then on the tickytock app, someone mentioned the netflixapp.  But that's television, you just thought. Yes, it is.  The trick is to chose something you've seen many times, like Friends or in case of the example she gave: Grey's Anatomy.

I tried it and it works so well.  No commercials like in podcasts.  I put the phone on wifi so it doesn't eat my data plan, turn the phone facedown so it doesn't light up the room, and go to sleep.  It doesn't matter if I wake up in a little while because a quick listen and I know exactly what's happening. Because I've seen it tens of times, at least.

Audio books also work well in some cases. The downfall is falling asleep and it keeps playing.  The fix is to set the timer, which I never remember to do.  Also, if the story is compelling then it's a fail.  My favorites have been autobiographies because they contain separate chapters/topics.  My all-time favorite is Bono - Surrender.  Stories mixed with a little bit of U2 music.  Dave Grohl - The Storyteller is also really good.

The one that really knocked me out was Mythos - Greek myths as told by Stephen Frye.  It's so interesting but his voice kind of lulls one into slumber.  He has a series of them and I fear that I'm Sisyphus in completing listening to all.

I know the internet has all kinds of "cures" for insomnia and sleep issues but I feel like there is no one Great Fix and different things will work for different people or combinations thereof.  I tend to stay away from pharmaceuticals and I know I'm the odd one out with that.  

I have a brand new doctor and she suggests a humidifier and essential oils so I ordered one from the shmamazon and it will be here tomorrow. She said to give it a week before calling it a loss or a win for helping with breathing, (thus also for sleep).  In the meanwhile, she suggested setting up a punch bowl sized bowl of water near the bed to create a makeshift humidifier.  (She said this is also good for when it's super hot out, btw)

Maybe this will be helpful to someone or maybe I just gave you something to think about when you're not sleeping.

23 June 2023

Weekend Update

 Hey, hi, I'm the problem it's me.  

Today was the first day in a month where I felt normal again.  It's been four weeks since my mother-in-law passed.  In some ways, it still feels surreal.  Like my phone is going to ring and she's going to need help with her tablet.  Or my father-in-law will bring us dinner that she made.

Alas, that is not happening.

Two weeks...three now...Kevin and I both got sick.  He brought home a cold from work and was sick first then uncharacteristically, I got it too. My immune system is usually bullet-proof.  Then that triggered the asthma and bronchitis and I spent days on the couch, coughing and looking pitifully at Kevin.

If you're wondering, yes I did test for Covid and negative.  Whew.  Because I thought of that: Wouldn't that just be the thing.  After three years of the pandemic and trying to keep the parents alive, just to get it now.  Luckily though, no.

Then sprinkle in with some good measure, grief and its bestie: depression.  I mean, I should have saw it coming and I didn't. What a rookie. This is usually how it plays out but here we are.  It feels like today the veil has lifted so moving on.

I thought work was going to slow down and it will for another week then it starts back up again.  While I still have my four-day workweek during the summer, they are beginning enrollment early this school year.  Sigh.  Also, I have a Big Meeting on the fifth and I'm curious and anxious about that.  It's contract time and I haven't discussed the work from home thing beyond my Letter of Intent.

Kevin is at his busiest time right now too so he's been working some Saturdays and coming home later.  I was thinking about how to spend the extra cash when we were notified by the County to have our septic system inspected and probably serviced.  That will be $500, please.  To be fair, I took a class so I can do the inspection myself (*retch*) but it's time to have someone professional do it.  So instead of pouting that we can't do something fun with the extra cash, I am going to be relieved that this won't be a financial burden.  Unless something goes wrong, in which I am moving. (kidding/not kidding)

With that, I had an old friend reach out randomly the other day and we're going to get together. No, really, we are.  So that's something to look forward too.  Kevin and I are going to spend time with our friends tomorrow night acting like high schoolers (going cruising!)   My "summer break" starts on Wednesday until the Big Meeting Day.  The summer has finally arrived and it's time to be outside all day every day.  Well, goals.  Not all day.  

So, I hope this finds everyone enjoying the summer, ignoring the absolutely batsh*t crazy news that has been happening, and doing at least one fun thing a day.  

19 June 2023



If you google "Juneteenth" a fun little graphic happens.  And maybe learn something a little new today.

I learned that Texas was the first state to make it an official holiday, which feels counterintuitive these days.

Also, the Washington Post has this article this morning (not behind a paywall) that I saw on the tweety and found interesting as well. Statue of Liberty was created in honor of the freedom of slaves, not for our welcoming of immigrants.  It's been a minute since I took US History but I'm not sure I learned that then.

10 June 2023

Little Memories Everywhere

 It's been two weeks and one day, almost to the minute as I write this, since my mother-in-law died.  Life is slowly returning to normal and everyone is making adjustments, as needed.  

Kevin phoned me the other morning and I didn't really think about it.  Then he mentioned that he used to call his mom this time every morning and he was just missing her.   I miss her when I'm working in the garden, mostly.  The other times is when there is something Christmas on the television because she loved Christmas so much.  

Anyway, this morning I was thinking of her and started to notice the things that I kept of hers.  They aren't wealthy, never were, so it was always the little things she had that meant so much to her.  She'd keep things with such childlike wonder that eventually you loved it too.

She rarely bought anything new for herself.  As I was packing up their house, it kept making me laugh. I would have to assess if something was valuable or a keepsake or second-hand.  Invariably, I would turn whatever it was over to find a goodwill sticker on it.  Valuable to her, just not to the rest of the world.

Also, she did a great job of giving us stuff toward the end of her life so that we knew the importance of it.  I wear her original wedding ring and her "mother's ring" (with her kids, grandchildren and first great-grandchild's birthstones)  I have her childhood jewelry box and some of her china and glassware. With retrospect, she saw this coming and planned to best her ability.

But it's the little things that I kept for myself as I closed the house that mean more to me.  For example, two oven mitts and two kitchen towels because it makes me think she's helping in the kitchen.  

I found these two items in her cupboards: a green glass measuring cup that has Kelloggs embossed on it.  I did a quick search and holy wow, it's valuable.  It's uranium glass from the 1950's.  

The brown jar is probably not valuable but it is pretty
Both items used for hummingbird feeding, which would please her so

She gave to Kevin this dashing gentleman while we were closing the house.  She had a box in the closet that was labelled "Mom's things" and it turned out to be figurines of her mothers. Kevin has wanted a dachshund for forever and this will have to do until we retire. One of the first ones was a boxer dog that we immediately gave to my s-i-l.  It was strange how she had two figurines of dogs we both have/wanted.  

This was something she had recently bought and made me happy when I noticed it.  A Pride candle.

Then I would find little whimsical things like these in her plants:

She had this little dish to hold her earrings and rings, even though it had a plate hanger on it:

Then there was this.  It was in her bedroom and on her side of the bed.  It is not at all my taste but for some reason I felt compelled to keep it.  It sat in the mud room for about a week before I walked with it throughout the house until I found a place for it.  It's large and as we know, I have lots of artwork and photographs on my walls.  Real estate is rare for blank walls.  Finally, in the last room, I found a place for it.  Unfortunately or fortunately, it's above the toilet in the main bath:

18x20", gilt frame with red inlay

Returning back to when we have moments of sad and we miss her, I can look around the house and find her in the little things.  We are ignoring that Kevin can be reminded of her while he's peeing.

Somewhere I just heard her "Oh, Surely!" and I'm, again, grounded.

03 June 2023

Chicken Soup with Rice - June


Hallucinations, Dragonflies, and A Snazzy New Home

As you’ve probably guessed, my mother-in-law passed after fighting it tooth and nail for four months.  I have the whole story written but I just can’t click “publish” just yet.  Eventually, maybe I will and maybe I won’t.  Time will tell. I mean that was probably the worst thing ever. I mean, of course, obviously but I've had plenty of Worst Things and that shoved them all out of the way to reach the top.

So, here are some of the more light things that happened in the last week; because I try to find humor even in the dark.

Clause: I am not religious, I’m not even really spiritual anymore.  Some of this may challenge that statement about me, for you, dear readers. J

The last week or two the nurse put my m-i-l on methadone to ease her "existential pain" and it helped.  It also gave her hallucinations, or so we thought because they seemed to continue after the meds changed to a different narcotic.  Also, the nurse would not prescribe it for us, even though we asked nicely.

We got a baby monitor for S-i-l to use during the night. One night, she said that mom kept flailing and fussing all night.  When asked, mom said she was "fighting off intruders. I grabbed them. I was brave."  

At the end, the hallucinations were mostly spirits, we think. Friendly, other than those first intruders.  Once, she mentioned that the room was crowded, with all the people waiting.  S-i-l told her that it was probably her family and that she could go with them.  She also kept hearing and seeing dogs, also probably spirits as she’s had dogs her whole life.  One evening, she asked S-i-l where the couple in the doorway were going to sleep and S-i-l told her that they could sleep in the living room.  She said "Okay, that's good".   S-i-l took all of that like a champ.  I mean, it had to be weird having all these guests in her house.

But me, oh man. I was fine with the spirits and THEN, the S-i-l called me.  I have to mention that s-i-l didn't call during this adventure, always text. So when the phone rang, I was already on high alert.

She said mom saw "a little girl with blonde hair, in the hallway. She was wearing a brown coat and waved and smiled at me."

............................Then mom said "It was Surely's daughter."


Okay, so I miscarried twice with satan.  I decided then that they were Peter and Rachel.  Then I miscarried twice with Kevin and they were Wesley and Wyatt.  THEN, the very last period ever was like a miscarriage.  My doctor was non-committal and said "Could be. Did you take a pregnancy test?" to which I replied "Didn't occur to me. Because: no point."

Like a month or two ago, when we were doing the headstone/cemetery stuff I had decided to name that maybe-baby Wyla. Wesley, Wyatt, and Wyla.


and....drink...everyone drink.

(also: still sober.  Didn’t think that was going to happen so, yea me.)

 While we were waiting for her to pass the night before it happened, I kept smelling cigarette smoke.  I smelled it twice before I mentioned it to S-i-l, who didn't smell it.  No one in the house smokes and the room we were in was at the back of the house down by the creek.  (not accessible to people nor was the window open)  Then we realized it was the sisters; three of the four sisters smoked heavily.  So then I said aloud "Thomas Sisters, if that's you, please take her. She's ready, we're ready." and S-i-l laughed.  If mom was aware at all, I am so grounded when I get to wherever I’m going.

Then the next morning, Kevin asked about it and I didn't smell it again.  When I said no, he said "They probably got TIRED OF WAITING, MOM."  Lol.

During the last hours, S-i-l and I were talking about final stuff and I wondered what she would appear as, to us.  "Because you refused to talk about it so we have to GUESS."  I said to mom. (again: so totally grounded) 

S-i-l guessed a bird or a flower and I guessed a butterfly or a flower.  After she passed and everyone settled down, when I went upstairs, a dragonfly flew across my path.  I thought about her and dragonflies are not common here and shrugged with a "maybe" thought. Dragonflies are not never seen but not common either. Then there was another/same one once I reached our rock garden at our house. 

I mentioned it to S-i-l and she said that mom liked dragonflies.  Then we saw one when the funeral home arrived.  So that was a little hmmmmm.  S-i-l and I have both seen a big yellow butterfly, a little more commonly seen here but it's really big.  Maybe the butterfly is her.  Maybe it’s the dragonfly. Maybe it’s neither and I'm a little crazy, as Kevin has mentioned.  (but I bet he notices dragonflies now)

I have to mention that I did get stung by a bee the next day, randomly.  I laughed and said “Okay, mom. That’s for being sassy while you were dying. I understand.”

On Tuesday, I had to go sign paperwork and choose an urn.  The parents had paid for everything in advance but hadn't chosen an urn because they were going to be scattered here at home.  Then we found they had a burial spot at the cemetery AND we didn't want to sprinkle them here.  

S-i-l came with me to help.  We did the paperwork and talked with the director.  She was super chatty, almost too much chatty.  My age and not at all what you pictured.  Imagine, former cheerleader whose life didn’t turn out as she planned. 

After we signed everything, she said "Okay, let's choose an urn.  There are a few there, gesturing to a case behind us in her office, but most of them are upstairs."

The case was a three-sided china cupboard and had four - six urns of varying sizes, etc.  I was asking what size urn mom would need when I noticed THE ONE.  We continued to talk and I kept looking at it.  I told S-i-l "That's the one" and she asked which because where she was standing, she couldn't see it.  She stepped to the side and said "Oh, yeah, that's it."

The funeral director was a little taken aback. She didn't say "seriously?" but the tone of her words and demeanor meant SERIOUSLY?  She suggested that we should still go upstairs to make sure there wasn't something else we wanted. 

We trod up steep stairs in this 100+ year old funeral home with bright kelly-green carpet and creepy funeral home music playing.  The entire upstairs was displays of urns, caskets, jewelry and other ways of displaying or storing your loved ones. 

We looked at the urns and there were two that we liked. One was a cardboard box that is used for transportation/sprinkling.  Like a talcum powder box only BIG.  S-i-l liked the one with hummingbirds and I told her that I would agree with whatever she wanted; as she knew mom best.  (even though I didn't like it and Kevin would have hated it)   The cardboard one was SEVENTY-FIVE DOLLARS and  I was offended.

The other urn was ceramic and had a lighthouse on it and S-i-l thought mom would really like it.  We asked and it was just under $300.  I had already looked and knew the approximate cost could be, but S-i-l was shocked.

Sidenote: some of them look like kitchen canisters and I now understand how Grandma ends up at Goodwill occasionally.

Then S-i-l thought about it and said she really felt like the other one was The One, depending on the cost.  I wondered if it was more expensive as it was On Display Downstairs.  The funeral director said she would go look but that "It has been there a while so the price listed on it might not be the price" which – to me - meant a gentle way of saying it was expensive. I had decided we would get it, unless it was just outrageously priced. 

A few minutes later, she came back upstairs with it and said "I checked and because it's been here a while, it's...ah....less.  It's....$100"

I literally laughed out loud.  "It's ON SALE!  It's gaudy! It's PERFECT!  SOLD!"  I could feel mom being happy that we chose this one and that we weren't spending a lot of money on it.  She loved a good deal.

She was incredulous, she asked at least once if we were sure.  S-i-l kept saying it was perfect and asked me to take a photo of it.  We set it on the table and I did, teaching the funeral director a trick about photography at the same time.

I sent the photo to Kevin and he replied "It is MOM"   Later I realized that the thing I like about it is that we're going to smile or laugh when we see it because it's just so MUCH.

I told the funeral director that when we left, she could go tell her coworkers "You won't believe it, someone actually bought that ugly urn" 

And here, in all it’s gaudy gloriousness is Mom’s new place:


 It's been a week now, well a week and almost a day.  We're mostly fine, with a little sad moments sprinkled in.  This morning I realized that the sense of urgency that we've lived with for four months is gone and it feels odd, empty.  We were so busy keeping dad alive and keeping mom comfortable and now...nothing.  After many, many years of taking care of the parents, I'm feeling adrift.  

So, I'm going to go work in my garden and watch for dragonflies.

02 June 2023

Happy Pride Month

 The older I get, the more I appreciate PRIDE.  I grew up during the AIDS epidemic and when being gay was ignored or shamed or worse.  To see how far the world has come is incredible.  

I know it feels like our country is on fire but I have to believe good people will prevail.

We have LGBTQ+ family and friends whom we love and are proud of.  We are allies.  We are safe.

Happy Pride!

01 June 2023

83 years and 30 Days


On Friday afternoon, Mom joined her siblings and parents in heaven.  She passed quietly and with her family and little dog, Bella, nearby; after fighting many medical challenges throughout her life.  She would like everyone to remember her as strong and tough.

She leaves behind her loving and devoted husband, her two sons, their wives; her granddaughter and their child, Grandson and wife and their children; and her niece who was like a daughter to her. 

 She also leaves behind her best friend, Pam and siblings-in-law, and many, many nieces and nephews - almost too many to count but all beloved by her.  She was predeceased by her parents, a newborn son, two nieces, and many siblings-in-law and their spouses.  

She was born in Lynden WA and grew up in Whatcom County and Bellingham with her five siblings; all of whom have passed before her.   She attended Whatcom County and Bellingham Schools then          happily left education behind to marry the love of her life.

She married on December 21st 1957 at the Knox Community Church. They celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary in December, quietly with visits and calls from family and friends.

She held two jobs during her lifetime.  The first working building campers with her brother as her boss.  She took the job to save up to get brand new bikes for her boys, who were young at the time.  She was doing “a man’s job” and she loved it.  She also worked with her daughter-in-law, at a plant nursery, working with seedlings. She loved working, made friends, and saved enough to buy the men in her life heirloom gold chains and was able make many Christmases giant celebrations. 

While she did work occasionally, her full-time job was taking care of her boys, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and any other child that happened along her house; it really didn’t matter if you were a child or grown.  She was the epitome of what a mom should be and you will be hard-pressed to find a better mom.

She will be terribly missed and we know that she will be working in her garden with her family, happy and free.

A memorial gathering will be held at a later date. Simply plant flowers in her memory.  She says they are all her favorites, for all different reasons.

Our deepest thanks go to Hospice of the Northwest. They made the end of her journey so much easier and personal; allowing her to pass at home with her family as she wished.  

*personal info redacted.  I did list everyone's names; even all seven of the great grandchildren. :)