19 July 2023

So My Mom Called

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And now she's teary.  

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

I am actually flipping off the phone at this point.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

17 July 2023

Insta Catch Up

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

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

15 July 2023

In Over My Depth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

That meal is a crime against humanity.  

14 July 2023

It Could Be Worse, I Guess

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

Not the question you were expecting probably.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11 July 2023

The Pokey Little Puppy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is an estimate of where she traveled:

Those trees are dense woods

And here is the flyer that the website helped created:

Absolutely recommend using this app/site!!!

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

Here is the actual Sassy:

Barking, probably

06 July 2023

It's Only the Sixth

 It's Thursday afternoon here in the lovely PNW, where it feels like the temperature of the sun outside.  We mossy and algae based human life forms are mostly not enjoying this.

So, of course, we're trying to grow grass right now. On Mars.

I was just outside watering for the eleventieth time and thinking about how tired my brain is.  Not so much my body, but the jello bits inside of my skull are all "Nap, please".

What's been going on? you might be thinking.  I'm not even sure where to start.

The reason for the growing grass is because we had a septic system service and inspection go a little sideways last week.  This caused the middle of the yard to be dug up, to the depth of four feet in some places.  

Then there was the holiday where the father's dog took off at 10:00 pm and wasn't to be found.  That will be it's own post because it's EPIC.  That word is overused these days but trust me.

Then the morning of the fifth, I had to go into my old office for a planning meeting.  I was CERTAIN they were going to demand a return to office; especially spotting a newly formed cubicle upon entering the office.  I am Beyond Relieved to say that I will most likely be Work From Home for the duration.  Whew.

Then, I had to go get a blood draw, the second in seven days.  Not to worry, there was just a weird reading that we can assuredly chalk up to *waving of hands* Everything That is Going On Right Now.  And it's totally fine but I am a hard stick so they had to take it from my hand but not before bruising both of my arms (one arm the first time, other arm the second time)

Oh, and that also included meeting a new doctor.  Because why not.

I'm still in the middle of the Great ReOrganization of 2023.  I am in the If You Give A Mouse A Cookie stage of this project where one task creates at least one other task.

THEN it occurred to me that "Hey, it's Thursday afternoon.  Mom's memorial is Sunday." and then the panicked realization that I hadn't created a program yet.  Let alone have it printed.  Thank all the gods that I have graphic design skills and a general idea of what I wanted.  I'm now waiting for the proof so I can approve it and pick them up tomorrow.

I still have to order prints of photos of her for the display.  In my alphabet brain way, I keep telling myself "Oh, that will be easy to do. No worries"  Well, we're at the WORRIES part.  So, of course, I'm sitting here telling all y'all about it instead of doing it.

Oh, and back to my work meeting.  My summer was just shortened as Start Up - prep for the new school year - begins oh....on the eleventh.  SUPER.

And I need a big girl haircut but now I don't have time before the memorial.  I have reached the Choosing My Battles portion of this month.  And it's only the sixth.

04 July 2023

Happy Independence Day


“May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please,
but as the opportunity to do what is right.” — Peter Marshall

03 July 2023

Three Days Worth of Filing

 This whole parent hospice process has me triggered.  Already I cannot watch the hoarders show without being prompted to clean a closet, a drawer, or the entire house.  So, of course, with closing the parents house has me cleaning out every drawer, closet, cupboard, and now my filing cabinet.  

I hate filing, a lot.  I have a really nice oak filing cabinet with wheels that lives in Monica's Closet.  I also have one huge filing drawer in my desk.  I am not without options. That is not a reason to not file. I'm fairly organized so it's not like there's piles and I'm just overwhelmed, I just hate it.  

Now let's sprinkle in that we sold two vehicles so that's a bunch of paperwork gone.  Add that everything bill-wise is paperless.  So what's piled up, if you will, is receipts, paystubs, tax stuff.  I realized that I did our last two years taxes on the fly and didn't have hard copies of the taxes and a mishmash of receipts, forms and check stubs.  I've since rectified that because my gawd, that's horrifying.

When I organized my father-in-law's bills, I bought an organizer from the shamamazon so it was just in one place that could be closed and have room for other stuff.  Then, because he is functionally illiterate (dropped out of school in the fourth grade and went to work.  DRIVING HAY TRUCK)  I had to think about how to label the organizer so it made sense to him.

I made labels but not your standard "Electricity/Cable/Phone" labels but the logo's of the companies where he has bills: the bank, the co-op, doctors, insurance.  I laminated those onto the organizer with packing tape and tah dah.

Sidenote: I googled for Senior bill organizer and had little luck.  Mostly, the difference was the print was slightly larger on the labels.  Sigh.

Okay, so back to this project.  I had to break it down into many pieces because otherwise, I was just going to light a match and walk away.  

Speaking of burning things, we also bought a document firesafe.  After discovering that our parents had one and we did not, we bought one quickly. Because: duh. I was actually embarrassed that I hadn't done this sooner. First order was to find our legal documents, insurance and stuff to put into said document safe.  This emptied quite a bit out of the cabinet.

Second order was to cull through the files. This had been done recently so this wasn't such a big deal but like I said, we sold two vehicles and replaced one, we had bought furniture and house stuff, and just the general effluvia that happens when you're a grown-up with bills and responsibilities.

Luckily, recently we had a delivery that came in a big box.  I put it in the office, sat on the floor and played the What is This - and it's sibling: Keep or Toss - games.  I am surprised to report there was A LOT of paper going into the Toss category.  But again, the last two years have been a lot so I guess I should have not been surprised.

This took a couple tries because the alphabet brain declared the task "boring and stupid" a few times.  Kevin had to work on Saturday and I slept in a little bit.  I woke up not quite ready to begin my day but awake enough to feel like I should be doing something.  I grabbed our medical file and the dog file, took them back to bed and went through them while watching Leap Year.  100% recommend.

What I realized during this chore/responsibility/whatever was that instead of doing the files and hanging folders as I have been for millennia, I could do the same thing that I did for my f-i-l.  I returned to shamamazon and ordered two more folders. The theory is one folder could be for stuff we need to get to easily or often and one for stuff that we're keeping because we have to.

In the midst of this, I googled: what documents need to be kept forever and how long does income taxes have to be kept? 

I was surprised at how LITTLE TIME stuff has to be kept.  Taxes: 

Well, I have all of our taxes and even the taxes from before there was an "us".  I just can't...let go.  To be fair, to me, I discovered that the parents also have kept all of their tax records.  So, I'm not alone.

The rest of the advice is a little inconsistent.  Most bills are paperless now and the advice varies.  Paystubs, if you get a paper one is one year; toss after your taxes are filed.   These are mostly paperless now though too but Kevin likes have a paper copy. Mine are online.

So, what did I keep?  Health Records that are pertinent or part of our health history, vet records for Lucy when she had cancer, house stuff, retirement/taxes, manuals and warranties that frankly could be tossed because everything is on the interwebs now.  And, if I were realistic, all of this could also be scanned into the interwebs or on USB.  It's rare that a hard copy of any of these items are necessary.

AND after all of that...it turns out that one organizer is probably enough.  Of course.  It's okay though because I'm certain I will change this system at least once. 

Now I have a filing cabinet that I only need one drawer and the big drawer in my desk could be empty. (it has the long abandoned photography wall project stuff in it right now)  Also, I had bought a plastic set of three drawers to help keep the parents documents separate from ours plus the rest of her photos, and now I am not needing it either.  I guess Too Much Storage is better than not.

All in all, it's taken about three days just to get this far and I'm still not satisfied.  I am just going to walk away from it and mull over my options.  Again.

The biggest win is less paper.  Oh, and a document safe.  I suppose also: just the over-all organization.

Next step is to put it all together, for reals and to recycle all the old folders and paper.  Then it's the annual Monica's Closet Excavation.

Chicken Soup with Rice - July