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and after that...

Friday, September 30, 2016
... I drove up to Atlanta - always a poor choice on a Friday afternoon. And as can be expected, there was more than one occasion when the traffic slowed to a creeping crawl for no apparent reason. Then miles later, after inching along in bumper to bumper traffic at four mph, suddenly pick up speed to sixty-plus with nary an indication of what has caused hundreds of vehicles to come to a virtual halt on a three lane wide thoroughfare.

It's late, I am up, pecking away, well past my bed time, going to brush my teeth and crash...

driving south...

...on Thursday afternoon, to visit the auntie in rehab. center. She was so remarkably pleasant and agreeable, unusually chipper and surprisingly cognizant, it occurred to me to wonder what they had done with the auntie?  How they had found someone who looked just like her, but with a personality transplant. That person I mistakenly assumed to be the Auntie was so cheerful, congenial and chatty I know they must have her stashed in a closet someplace, bound and gagged.

She had an appointment at the orthopedic clinic in Valdosta, so I spent the night in her house and drove back up the the rehab. center to pick her up and deliver to the clinic at 10 o'clock. It was a tedious, nonproductive wait, in a brimming over waiting room. So after about forty five  minutes of seeing people who came in after we did get called to be secreted away in a little cubicle,  I finally went up to the window to ask. "Is the Dr. we had an appt. with in surgery?" But was told it was just a busy day, with lots of patients in line.

He finally saw her and looked at x-ray, decided that yes, the cracked bones were healing, slowly but surely. When I looked at the pictures, they showed me where there was a sort of cloudy or foggy place on the film, and explained this is where the calcium is forming new bone. Which explains the importance of the calcium supplement she is prescribed to take every day. Giving the bone something to work with. She is improving, and hopefully gradually getting more mobile, but instructed to walk only with assistance, and return with more images of the damaged bones in three weeks.

even though...(funny story)...

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

...it has been really dry in our area, there have been places that have benefited from short-lived drenching thunderstorms with lots of pounding rain passing through. Not here at my house, but nearby (like the asphalt paved parking lot of my workplace - what a waste!), where it seems there has been some much needed rainfall every where but right here. So I continue to try to keep things alive, dragging garden hose and watering daily. Turning on soaker hoses to drip and revive drooping plants.

I got a very nifty present back in the spring, a surprise box delivered with some unexpected mystery item inside. It turned out to be: a lily cup rain chain. I've seen this sort of device before, attached to the corner of a house to catch rain as it would spill off the roof and drip down through a series of cup-like containers until it reaches the ground. I'd admired a 'rain chain' at a hardware store last year, and was delighted to receive two in the box to install at my house.  Needing tech support, it did not happen until over this past weekend.

And, it's been soooo dry I wonder if there will ever be an actual need for gutters and downspouts again, or like my grandmother often said: 'we are living in the last days'... with life on this small planet slowly coming to an end? Hopefully the weather will change. But probably not soon enough to save lots of crops and farmers that depend on the elements for their livelihood.

The funny part is: P. clambered up the step ladder with the garden hose, after the rain chain was installed at the corner of the roof, where the gutter has a downspout. She was holding the garden hose, and proceeded to run water on the roof, that poured into the gutter and through the series little 'lily cups' and onto the ground at the bottom.  That series of little cups, connected by links to form a chain reaching from the guttering to the ground, with holes in the center, so the water splashed in each one, and on down to the bottom: pretty amusing.  I will get some sort of basin to put at the bottom that will hold water. Hopefully providing drinking water for local wildlife, and possibly a nice refreshing bath for song birds.

Even funnier is that it made me think of the time their grandmother gave them umbrellas when they were little people. And I have a photo of one standing under the open umbrella while I pour a bucket of water on her. She stands there looking confounded when she realizes she isn't getting wet, while the water runs off the edges of the umbrella from the spout of the watering can. Making the 'surprised face': eyes wide open, mouth in that little 'O' shape that indicates complete amazement. Remembering that makes me smile.

a walk in the park...

Saturday, September 24, 2016
...making for sweaty people, but supporting a good cause. There is a steadily growing group of people at the church I attend who are in Celebrate Recovery. A very loosely organized organization focused on helping people who are struggling. Their theme is that we all have 'hurts, hang-ups and habits' that keep us from being the people God designed us to be. Recognizing our foibles, and a commitment to work through those things that hold us back from living in harmony can change lives.

They meet once a week, gather for singing, a meal, support, testimony and breakout groups that help people develop both coping skills and friendships. A sort of generic version of AA or Al-anon, for people who are in need of compassionate support and the occasional life line. Not just  for substance abusers, or those in recovery from alcohol or drugs, but anyone hoping to make sense of all the stumbling blocks and curve balls life can put in the way of developing healthy relationships, a positive lifestyle and good clean living in general.

The CR group sponsored a run/walk today at a public park. I have never been a runner, and pretty much quit walking a couple of years ago when my knee started giving problems, becoming untrustworthy. But have walked a mile or so several days in the past week, trying to get back into practice. Plus starting to swim on a semi-frequent basis, as I have discovered that being boyant  completely eliminates knee pain.

So I signed the three of us up to take a walk in the park. Starting on the far side of the lake, and walking for three miles (or whatever amounts to 5K.) We went around the park and out onto the bike trail for most of a mile, then turned around to get back to the start point. Not quite the last people to complete the route, but pretty close to being the tail end. Bum knee made me slow, and my cohorts willingly slowed their pace to stay with me.

They seemed well organized, with a radio station remote van there playing music, plans for a cook out, with grills mounted on a trailer, ample food and coolers with bottled water. A crowd of supporters was trickling in as we finished the walk, likely prepared to spend the day sitting in the shade and enjoying The Good Life. Pretty day to be out in the world, enjoyable walk in the park.

book review: "Love That Boy"...

...by a man who was a journalist, correspondent assigned to the White House for years. His name is Ron Fournier, a parent of a son with Aspergers' syndrome, on the autism spectrum. Lorie is Tyler's mom, and pushed Ron into taking a number of road trips with Tyler, for them to spend time together. It was supposed to expose Tyler to the world, and build a relationship between father and son. They visited a number of presidential home places, preserved for visitation by the general public, and actually visited several presidents during their time together.

The title of the book comes from a comment Pres. Bush made after Ron and Ty went to the White House when the Press corps has an opportunity to meet with the sitting President while the residence is decorated for the holidays. Normally spouses/dates will accompany journalists, but Lori insisted Tyler should have the experience. One of the things Lori hoped for, as a mom who has struggled with helping a child fit into the educational system as he learns basic coping skills, is for Ron to help Tyler learn how to 'read faces'. To be able to look at people's expressions and begin to develop the ability to understand what language means in conversation as he would interact with other people. Not a skill that comes easily to children with Asperger's. Which is why they seem to have a knack for highly inappropriate responses, comments, emotions in social settings.

The biggest thing Ron learned was the value of acceptance. To see that he needed to devote less of his time with Tyler by being embarrassed or making amends to perfect strangers. And more time enjoying his son, meeting him on equal footing. Tyler is extremely bright, with a near photographic memory, comprehensive adult vocabulary, obsessive interest in history, especially stories of US Presidents. But sorely lacking in social graces, as those with Asperger's often are. Their travels helped Ron to see what a smart, able bodied capable individual Tyler is, and the potential he has for being a productive member of society. There are things in his life he will always need assistance with, but he is growing into a remarkable young man, with some amazing skills and abilities.

being industrious...

... in the kitchen. My peeps from TN came to visit this weekend. I'd marked my calendar expecting I would drive up to see them, and then discovered they were organizing to come to GA instead. And even better is that they came down on Thurs. night, to have all day Friday as well as Saturday to hang out, eat good things, amuse ourselves, laugh together.

I after hearing numerous wishful, longing comments about how delicious, wonderful and tasty was that fresh corn we put scraped, bagged and put in the freezer a couple of years ago - I asked if she wanted to buy corn to freeze again. We went far too late in the season to get a good price on a bushel of fresh corn. But scrape and bag we did. Bought forty-eight ears at the local farmer's market and brought them home to shuck, clean, prep., cook, bag and chill. It went into quart zipper bags. Somewhat disappointing that it only filled nine bags, but still.

Anytime you put in the time and effort to put up fresh, in-season vegetables, you can't help but be pleased with yourself. Knowing you can look forward to enjoying something that will make your taste buds dance with delight months later. Think with smiling anticipation of how good it will be when you pull it out to thaw and cook, season and enjoy long after summer is gone, leaving only memories. And yummy creamed corn in the freezer!

United Way 'day of service' volunteer...

... would be me, who went Thursday morning to donate my time to the women's shelter just across the river/state line in Phenix City. Our group/team, consisting of fellow employees who were willing to provide manpower for several hours of work on the outside of the shelter.  There were amongst the volunteers, three store managers, one of whom had a camera, taking lots of photos, to make the managers look really hardworking, diligent, devoted to doing good.

Ironically, I had deliberately chosen the shelter over what I knew would be yard work at the Easter Seals program. Expecting that the labor needed at the crisis center would be inside in the nice cool chilled air. Well... that did not happen. The job was out in the sad, sorry, weedy, hot, bug-infested yard.  Clever me: I had a little coiled plastic bracelet in my car, tucked away in a tiny zipper bag that was designed to keep bugs at bay. I put it on my ankle and am pleased to report: not the first nibble.

We were instructed to: sand and paint a picnic table and a big square 2 x 6 wooden box that will be a sand box. And to paint in bright primary colors a half a dozen used rubber car tires. Yes. Tires. With interior house paint. Whatever. We did it. Pointless as the effort will prove to be, it was accomplished.

I did a little painting, but mostly picked up broken glass in the area that will be a playground, and pulled up weeds around the building's AC condensers. And found a long, translucent shed snake skin while I was poking around up close to the building: let that serve as good a warning as a black flag with skull and crossbones! The person from the shelter who was supervising the project said to save the long crisp skin to show the kids when they return from a day at school. I am thinking: run it up the flag pole to give notice of what is 'lurking' nearby!

some what distressing...

... is the report on those blueberry bushes I bought back in the spring. They were remarkably productive for being so small, and seemed to be doing well, settling in, adjusting to their new home. I deliberately choose three different varieties, understanding that would provide a harvest over a longer period of time. One was an early bloomer, one mid-season, and the third one would bloom and produce fruit towards the end of the normal berry picking season.

But it's been so unusually, frightfully dry here for the past couple of months, I might have lost one of them. I thought I was being careful, and conscientious. When I noticed one of the plants beginning to loose some leaves, I mulched well to hold in moisture, and started to be more faithful with the garden hose. They are  not in full sun, so do get some shade early and late in the day, which is helpful.

Having left the job to mother nature early in the year once they were out of pots, planted and settled into their new location, there was a period of time when I felt they were almost getting enough from rains. But when I went to look several weeks ago, I realized I had been neglectful. I've been more diligent in the past couple of weeks. I feel foolish pouring water onto a plant that is completely brown,  without the first sign of life - but I am hoping I got to it before it completely went south. And that it will come back from the roots, begin to sprout and grow again in the spring.

Makes me sad to think I let one die, and may to have reduced the potential harvest by one-third. I heard a reference to someone on public radio as being 'congenitially optimistic', and would like to believe I have some degree of that.  I choose to believe the blueberry plant is not completely dead, just 'nearly dead', as was the actor in the "Princess Bride" movie that Billy Crystal brought back to life with the blacksmith's bellows.

traveling through the piney woods...

Friday, September 23, 2016
... to south GA again this week to visit the cantankerous auntie who continues to feel she is being held against her will. Not precisely 'hostage' but most certainly not of her choosing, in a place where she makes it plain she does not wish to be. We are all aware this situation is not permanent, but some of us are optimistically hoping that it is more long term than others.

'Us' who will ultimately be the Responsible Parties for her, hoping she will be there for at least four more weeks to give us time to formulate a 'plan B'. While 'the party' that is there against her will had apparently been expecting her recent sudden compliance with therapist's instructions would allow her dismissal for good behavior/time served. So she remains incarcerated, mostly due to the fact that she is not yet mobile enough to travel under her own steam.

The 'us' consists of two cousins and myself. One the cousins lives in Decatur, the other in Denver. They were both present for the Care Team evaluation/meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 21, when we assembled at the rehab. to discuss progress and plans. The man who is the physical therapist, Tony, was in attendance, present to talk about how she has improved. And readily reported that she was initially not cooperative with the therapists efforts to help her regain strength and stamina. Which has diminished considerably in the past month while she has been largely immobile and for the most part in bed.

 The event that precipitated all this was a fall that occurred in her house on Aug. 28. Amazingly she was in the hospital for twelve days, before being transferred to nursing/rehab. care facility. I am still surprised that her insurance would allow her to occupy space as inpatient for that long, when you think heart surgeries pushed out the door after 23 1/2 hours. Has been at rehab. for two weeks. I'm thinking that the actual physical therapy designed help her regain ability to walk only occurs once a day for an hour at maximum.

Sadly, her almost complete loss of ability to retain information in her 'short term' memory bank is a major handicap. Very little information sticks in her brain long enough to be effective, have a lasting impact.  So when that very agreeable therapy guy tells her to 'do this' five times in a row six times a day, and 'do that ' twice every hour, she cannot hold it in her head long enough to accomplish the tasks that need to be repeated to gain strength in her legs.  I've asked the nursing person to have staff remind her to do these things as they see her throughout the day, and hope that might help: using someone else's brain to get it done, as hers is definitely not working properly.

pretty impressed...

Friday, September 16, 2016
... with myself, feeling ahead of the game, and quite pleased. This is the month when I have to get driving license renewed, and get a new tag sticker for my car. Both are done well ahead of time. And not really a hardship financially. The next expense looming in the future is paying for fire insurance for house, as well as coverage for vehicles, a major bite out of my finances.  I feel the pinch when more than one comes due at the same time. And as soon as I get over that hump, the property tax will demand my attention.

I'm busily reminding myself about the joy of living in America, to the point of removing my shoes, to take off my socks so I can use my toes to count all the blessings and benefits we get from being citizens. Trying to think of all those provisions in the Constitution that I am so thankful for. While wondering how people on a limited income can stretch it far enough, with funds and food coming out even at the end of the month.

latest developments...

...with the auntie. She is in a nursing/rehab. facility in south GA. Blames me and cousin for her 'misfortune', thinking she is being held hostage against her will, not understanding/remembering she surely agreed to being transferred from hospital to a therapy center. The reason she spent such an inordinate amount of time as an inpatient was her unwillingness to agree. I continue to be surprised that she was a patient for at least eleven days, knowing how so much surgery is done on an out-patient basis with a bed occupied less than 23 hours, due to rigorous health insurance company demands/requirements.

She was seriously aggravated with me when I arrived on Wednesday. Even more oppositional and argumentative than usual, and 'usual' can be a big whopping lot. I told several people of the word I apparently made up to describe her: mule-ish. I've never heard it anywhere, not sure it is in the dictionary, but completely applicable to the situation. When you know her personality, and hear the word, you see how apt it is in describing an individual who can be thoroughly obstreperous. Even before this latest crisis, she could be highly opinionated, with great certainty.

After I left her eating lunch, desperate to get on the road, and start driving home, I called my cousin. To say: "There can be joy in memory loss. You can get to the point that the disease removes the reminders you retain of who you were before this horror started encroaching." I was thinking of caring for my mom, and how a person with 'forgetting disease' can get to the place where they no longer realize what has been lost.  No longer fighting, not miserable, not frustrated, not hostile with caregivers and people who are trying to do their best under difficult circumstances to provide for safety, well being, basic needs.

driving across south GA...

... looking at the fields of cotton, soybeans, peanuts. Sunshine, bright blue sky, puffy white clouds, a beauty-filled day to be alive.Traveling without documentation, no one stopping me to ask where I am going (as long as I am not driving hell for leather and get stopped for speeding.)

Freedom to go where I want when I choose. One of the oft overlooked, unconsidered things I find myself thankful for is the US Constitution. Different parts at different times.  That thing that gives us the rights and privileges we enjoy when living in America, along with responsibilities of citizenship and obligation to behave ourselves.

Freedom to travel from place to place. When you think of how carefully citizens in other countries are monitored, controlled, pushed around, forced by authorities to limit travel, this is an amazing place we live in. You do not have to show your papers to walk down the street. You do not have to have documents to travel from one municipality to another, can drive from one county to another. Or across the entire continent without having to stop at state borders and explain why you are desiring to enter. No crossing guards at state lines. No enforcers randomly demanding identification, and explanations as to where and why you are traveling. Or telling you that is not permitted and you need to turn around, return home.

There are places in the world - today- where people are scared to leave the safety of their homes. As well as people who feel like their homes are not safe. You  have the freedom to gripe about minor insignificant injustices as they occur in your daily life: newspaper thrown in the ditch, out of milk for your breakfast cereal, your favorite shirt in the dirty clothes basket, various and sundry other routine mishaps. But you also need to be thankful for living in America, and the US Constitution. End of Sermon.

five-thirty two...

...in the morning. Pretty early, huh? It's nearly eight o'clock now, so not such a distressingly painful time to consider... but someone came in and woke me up long before first light to ask 'aren't you supposed to be at work?' As if I were a small child and needed someone to get me up, dress me and feed me breakfast so I would not be tardy for the school bell.

He is also the same guy who loves to fret over the weather. Will sit and watch the Weather Channel for hours when there is some crisis brewing out in the Gulf of Mexico. Dreadful forecasts that cannot possibly reach us, way up here in landlocked GA, but he will stew over any sort of natural disaster: things over which he has Zero Control. Worrying about me when I propose to go someplace and have to drive in the rain  - or just the possibility of slick pavement and poor visibility whether it actually occurs or not.

We've been together a long time, but I am continually amazed to discover the things he finds to be anxious about - usually stuff over which he has no influence whatsoever. When he woke me up to tell me I should get up and go to work, I was sleeping so soundly I did not know what day it was... so for the first few seconds, he could have been right. I have awakened with my pulse racing, thinking 'oh, #$%&!' then realize there is no urgency, no place I am supposed to be.

Oh  - and this is the guy who is so punctual he gets to church at 8:15, when the service starts at nine. And is always thirty minutes early for medical appointments. He wants to be the first one in line, with the earliest time, so he will not spend an hour or more cooling his heels in the waiting room, with old dog-eared magazines from another century. And will be sitting in the parking lot, waiting  for the staff, when they unlock the doors.

In a sense, his concern is understandable: when I do have to go in, I set the alarm for 5:00 to be punching my number into the time clock by 6:00. So his desire to have me in  motion was not too far afield - except for the fact that I am not working today. I was so startled awake, that was the end for me. I laid there a bit and tried to get over the aggravation of the whole thing, then decided I should just get up and type to vent. Rest assured there will be conversation later...

book review: "The Thieves of Manhattan"...

Monday, September 12, 2016
...which I read as a set of seven CD's from the library. Interesting to note that the back of the box indicates that the length of time it would take to listen to the entire reading is 8 1/2 hours, which I guess we can assume is the also the amount of time it would take to actually read the printed book without interruptions. It was written by Adam Langer and published by Random House, copyrighted 2010. A whopping tale if ever there was one, sort of like a story within a story.

(Most of my reading is randomly chosen off the shelf, though I occasionally request something that I see, or read about that piques my interest. Like the one I am reading now, when I saw the book for sale on the table at Costco several weeks ago, subtitled as my' book of firsts', by Jaycee Dugard, "Freedom". Where a young woman, having been stolen and held captive since age eleven, learns to navigate in the world outside after many years of confinement.)

"The Theives" is a fascinating tale, and as well written as you would expect from the viewpoint of the main character, Ian, who in the story is an author of short stories, dreaming of writing longer prose worthy of notice by the publishing houses of New York. Ian encounters a stranger in the coffee shop  where he works, and is drawn into a scheme of re-writing a novel this stranger, Jed, as written as fiction to submit to a big name publisher as a memoir, to eventually confess it is all a tall tale, made up and foisted on the public. Lots of unexpected twists and turns, where Ian actually is drawn into the story, that as he gets involved becomes truth rather than the supposed fictitious novel as the characters in the printed plot actually turn up to take Ian hostage, searching for a valuable ancient book.

The author obviously is a reader, as there were many references to writers who would be familiar to those who read popular literature. Ian, as the narrator, called cigarettes 'vonneguts', as Kurt Vonnegut was a hard core smoker, and referred to money as 'daisies', for Daisy in the Great Gatsby, who was referred to by book's author as being 'made of money'. There was a glossary (read for us listeners) at the end of the book that offered explanatory notes as to who those little bits referred to and how they came to be: clothing, beds, guns called 'camino's from the name of a hit man in mystery tales. The author Truman Capote was often seen wearing a wide brimmed hat at a rakish angle, causing hats in the story to become 'capotes'. Many other interesting asides, some of which I did not catch, due to not having read those particular authors, but you figure them out by context.

Listening to a story, in recorded form, I found myself sitting in the car, not willing to turn the engine off, waiting for the tale to unfold. Following a group of well described, completely believable characters as they charge across the country on a mission to find the missing tome, unraveling clues that lead them to Manhattan, Kansas. The characters, as read, are voiced by different people, making the tale even more interesting, as they interact and have conversations. If I had been reading print, it is the sort of book that would have had me up into the wee hours trying to be assured things would work out in the end.

first ever...

...red velvet cake. It is likely the last time as well. I think the carrot cake I've made too many times to count is so embedded in my head I could put one together with referring to the recipe. But this one,  originates from the fabulously wealthy person who only shows up for the photography and likely never does her own cooking: Martha Stewart.

It calls for 1/4 of a teaspoon of red gel. Which apparently must be purchased at a store where commercial bakers shop, or on line. All I could find before daylight was the little bottles of food color that come in a teeny tiny four pack box, with red, yellow, green, blue. The kind you get when you want to dye eggs with kids. But could not at 6:30 am, find the gel the recipe calls for that is so potent you need use only 1/4 tsp. Sometimes you just gotta' make do. So I bought the wee little box with the wee little bottles, and now have yellow, blue and green I will likely never use. As I squeezed drop by bright red drop, down the the final drip of all the liquid that was in the one color I needed.

I guess it turned out ok, reminding me of how I am prone to try out a new recipe in circumstances where I could abandon or dis-own the food if need be. Should the particular dish prove to be a bomb, I would just appear to have no idea who contributed that to the pot-luck meal. I don't do it as often any more, as there are some tried-and-true things I like (or get requests for) that I think of as mostly 'fool proof'. I can tell you right now that was not only my maiden voyage into red velvet cake-dom but my swan song as well.

The only blip in the recipe was when I was looking at the swirling liquid in the mixing bowl and decided to not include the full amount of buttermilk. After concluding just the basic idea of adding buttermilk was strange, as I doubted the consistency of the batter, I made a judgement call and stopped pouring before the entire cup went in the mix. Other than that, I pretty much went right by the ingredients and instructions, so feel that it had to come out pretty well.Sadly, when it came time for the layers to come out of the pan: they didn't. So instead of having four layers, which is what usually happens when I slice the two layers in half, there are only three. I doubt they will even notice... and if there is anyone that does, there is enough cream cheese frosting to sent them all off on a sugar high.

As soon as the layers were cool enough to ice, I glued the whole thing together with frosting, and immediately got it out of my house, to keep my fingers from temptation. It was to be a birthday cake for a friend of a friend, passed through several sets of hands before getting to the birthday boy, who desperately wanted home-made instead of store bought. The moral of this tale being: You can cover a lot of baking mistakes with a generous recipe of a combination of the following.

Cream Cheese frosting
1 8oz block cream cheese, softened
1 stick of butter (1/2 cup) softened
4 cups confectioners sugar (one box)
1 tsp. vanilla flavoring

Bring cheese and butter to room temp., blend well, add flavoring, gradually add in confectioners sugar, mix till smooth. Try to  get the cake covered before you begin to lick the bowl.

book review: "Under the Harrow"...

... randomly picked up off the library shelf. I read something years ago that was written by a British citizen, with lots of odd words that I was unfamiliar with, referring to customs, items we all see or use daily, but using words common to UK. Leaving you unexpectedly amused as you decipher what that noun refers to in our culture. I remember thinking some of the terms so unusual - but understandable - I made a list as I read the other book some time ago. Sorry - that didn't happen for this book. It was written by Flynn Berg, with a 2016 copyright.

The basic story line: young woman gets on the train to go to a small village outside London to visit her sister for the weekend.  When she arrives at the sister's house, the sister and her guard dog are dead. Over time we are given various clues as the young woman tells the story, meets with police, tries to uncover motives and possible suspects. At some point you begin to suspect the young woman of the murder, while the story line jumps back in time to a previous assault on the sister. It is apparent that the police are beginning to doubt the veracity of the young woman's story, and the reader begins to believe we've not been given all the information we need to sort this thing out. Making the story an excellent candidate for a movie that lures you in, and the provides surprise twists and turns.

It was well written, fast paced, making me stay up entirely too late trying to get the mystery resolved.

the lantern parade...

...on the beltway in mid Atlanta is officially on the city schedule to occur on the weekend after Labor Day.  When we went to the workshop in Decatur about a month ago, the person who was running the 'how to make a hat' event told us she had asked the city to put it on the calendar to coordinate with resources, promote, have a specific date established for the future. Get people in the notion of knowing it would occur on a particular day from year to year, as well as help with advertising through channels that would help promote it as a major event.

So make a hat we did, about twenty people in the church basement in Candler Park area. I had not quite finished when the allotted time  was up.  Had to leave with a not completed hat, but brought it home to ponder on the way it would be decorated. Dragged my feet until the next to the last minute, before snipping butterflies out of construction paper to glue all over the tissue paper that was glued over yards and yards of clear plastic food wrap.

We got to the start of the parade, along with thousands of other people, and trotted off north on the beltway with the first of six marching bands. The musical groups were spaced apart with lots of lantern carriers in between hundreds of people carrying a wide variety of lights. Only slightly organized, with the basic instructions that to march: 1) You must have a lantern, 2) No Pets. With only two rules, it was apparently easy for many to disregard the requirements entirely. We saw several stressed out dogs, and people in various states of inebriation wandering through the masses of troopers lacking any illumination whatsoever, but I guess they were 'Lit' from an external source.

Some people had lighted parasols, with blinking lights installed. Some lanterns/figures were ornate, requiring much assembly and preparation, while others were individuals with a string of battery operated Christmas lights looped around their necks. Some had purchased paper Japanese lanterns and installed tea lights, while others had huge animals: a whale with fiber optics spouting from breathing hole on top, a toucan, a huge tissue paper fire-y glowing phoenix. A Day of the Dead couple made of bamboo frames and tissue paper clothing, lit from the interior. Huge ghostly apparitions made from organza with coils of lights inside. Skeleton shapes made from foam pool noodles wrapped in multi-colored glowing strands. And hundreds of others we didn't see.

We walked about a mile, and I decided I was done. Said: I am hot and tired, let's go get a cold beer. We had lemonades instead, from the nearby Kroger, and called for a ride home.

when getting oil changed...

Saturday, September 10, 2016
...at the tire store, I take the opportunity to read old, dog-eared issues of Field and Stream. And have been known to borrow a page, or the whole issue on occasion, when there is something worth knowing/sharing. I know it sounds pretty bizarre, for me to be interested in reading about deer hunting, fishing tackle, camping, field baiting, lunker searching, big game treks, etc. But there is usually a pretty good, amusing commentary on the last page, as well as a few articles worth reading.

The author, a man who regularly writes on the last page of the magazine, knew a well known artist/illustrator, who had recently died. The illustrator was Jack Unruh, who was a veteran outdoorsman. They were on a fishing trip, and had a conversation, while sitting by the campfire after a day in the water. Jack reportedly said: "...you're an optimist, and I'm a cynic. When the cynic's glass gets below half-full, it's kind of critical. He's worried there might not be any more coming. Whereas you're pretty sure there will be." Referring to what ever adult beverage they were sipping sitting in the dark, looking into the flames. Probably some smooth Tennessee sipping whisky, with Jack periodically checking to be sure the bottle was not about to run dry.

I'm out of my favorite kind of beer. For a while I was very careful and parsimonious with it, thinking I did not know how or when I could resupply, but no longer fearful of drinking the last can. I can just move on to something else: like that little bottle I bought when my younger daughter lured me into the package store and caused me to make a purchase.  Or the big bottle of sangria that has been languishing in the pantry for months...  I guess that makes me neither optimist nor cynic, but prepared.

my funny hat...

Friday, September 9, 2016

...is finished. I will need it tomorrow evening when I participate in the Lantern Parade on the Beltway with 30,000 other vagrants. You can see how skilled I am at procrastination, waiting until the eleventh hour to tear around trying to get it completed. (Actually, it is only 9:45 , but still pretty late for me to be up typing!)

Assembled at a workshop in a church basement in Decatur several weeks ago, I'd done it all except the top. We were instructed that the frame should be completely covered, for the best lantern effect. I had to put some paper on the top, a big oval of white, translucent tissue paper. It is about two feet tall, with the top slanted towards the back, at a very rakish angle. Very comical. The bottom edge is green tissue, looking grass-like, and the top is covered with shades of blue, looking sky-ish.

I have been pondering what I should add to make it even more amusing, and was thinking about bugs or butterflies. There is a little battery operated light that was installed during construction. Glued on to the top of the felt hat that was used as a base. I am thinking that the tissue paper will 'glow' when the light inside is turned on, so wanted to do something that would have a real impact in the dark when the interior light shines through the translucent tissue paper. Which means that the shapes that on the outside, made of opaque construction paper, will look like silhouettes when it gets dark and the light is on.

A goodly sized swarm of butterflies will walk along with me as we troop down the Beltway through the city, along with all those other thousands of amusing folk, lit in one way or another for the parade. There are a number of nightspots/watering holes along the path, so they may be 'lit up' in a way that does not involved battery operated devices.

I think as we were building hats at the workshop several weeks ago, the organizing folk were making signs to announce the different musical groups that would participate: at least six bands, or possibly just noise makers. I found a cow bell when I was looking for pipe cleaners last night, that is going to be part of my outfit. Count me in on noise-making.

Lots of kids in attendance, or as spectators last year, with paper lanterns on dowels, enjoying the hilarity. I expect it grows each year, and it will be barely organized chaos... the 'organized' part is all the effort that goes into planning, which generally falls apart as the event gets underway. I am sure you will find lots of photos on Youtube after we troop around in the dark.

not swimming...

...seems to be what I have been doing, with best intentions gone awry. I really like  to swim, and enjoyed the few days I was splashing around a couple of weeks ago. Hoping to get back to the city run pool to do it several times a week. But it just has not happened again.

Either working too much or not in town. The working too much could be: the craziness that happens now and then when I put in ten or more hours a day. Or just being so tired all I can do is wobble home and flop down in a chair. Rest long enough to get up and think about what we will have to eat before wobbling down the hall and crash. I was so bummed one day recently, I came straight in the door and when directly to bed. Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200. Laid my-weary-self down and had a very beneficial, satisfying nap. Woke up a new person about twenty minutes later.

I want to swim so badly, and liked it so much when I got there three days in a row, I went shopping and bought myself a new suit. Ordered from JCP, to look up-to-date and fashionable when I jump in, instead of frowzy, out of style, and baggy-fied in a tired, blown-out, no elastic model. But sadly, have not got the motivation and energy at the same time to be able to get into the new suit and into the H2O. Maybe next week....

long day at work....

Thursday, September 8, 2016
...even though according to the printed schedule, it should have been five hours. I went in just before 6:00 a.m. and left at just after 6:00 p.m. Too  tired to think.  So that's about all you will get for today.

The auntie has been temporarily relocated to a rehab. facility in a town about thirty min. away from Valdosta. I can almost guarantee she will not like it. This is a person who has never been in a position of having to agree or compromise on anything. When things did not go her way in a work environment, she would change jobs.  When there was an impasse with those in authority over her, she would find herself another situation elsewhere.

She is not accustomed to anyone telling her what she will or won't do. I consider myself to be a pretty positive person, given to thinking things will work out. But in this situation - I can only hope that perhaps as her memory and abilities decline, she might forget to be ornery. Just hoping she will regain some mobility, but not too optimistic that she will be cooperative and agreeable with people who will be the ones trying to get her going, encouraging her to do things she does not want to do.

we might, maybe, possibly...

Tuesday, September 6, 2016
...be moving towards a resolution with this Cantankerous Person here. She's agreed to go into a rehab. facility, and possibly moving tomorrow. The reaaallllly good news in all of this is that she is hopefully going to a place that also does geriatric evaluations. So IF the best case scenario occurs, when she gets relocated, they will do a complete work up to determine what the best plan will be for the future.

There is a possibility of getting into some place here in town, but our preference would be to get her into the place that will really do a thorough job of helping us to figure out what the future holds. I've wondered for years about her mental state. Knowing our family history of memory loss, with lots of close relatives diagnosed with dementia, there is a latent sense of dread and fear of what is hiding in our genes. Plus the Cantankerous Person has been using Rx painkillers for years. The Rx brings a wide array of side effects from foggy brain, to slow motility (causing constipation) and dramatically reduced reaction times and problems with equilibrium/balance.

Getting into this place that will evaluate and help us figure out just exactly what the problem is to know what the solution will be. I'm very hopeful here. Not expecting a 'cure', but a better understanding of what the future holds and how to best maintain quality of life.

oh, yessss...

... we are making headway. Possibly in such small increments as to be not visible to the naked eye, but still moving in the right direction. A magnifying glass or possibly a microscope may be necessary to discern that there is some activity, but it is occurring.  I am so thankful for the slightest signs of any progress at all.

The Dr./Hospitalist came in and picked up on all the right clues. I told him I understood she was still an inpatient due to her unwillingness to be transferred. But was thinking that the best way for her to get up out of the bed and on her feet was to get into someplace that would provide more assistance. The Dr., beautifully, thankfully read between the lines.

He  began to tell her that the rehab. resources that were located here, in house, would not be the most appropriate place for her to transfer. That she was actually 'not sick enough' to be a good candidate for the program they run here in the hospital. But if she wanted to try some other places, the social worker here would try to find another facility that might accept her.  The cantankerous auntie proceeded to laugh, smile, act coy and ask him how soon she before she could 'expect to be moved: today, next month?'

This is the huge roadblock we have been pushing against for a week.  After a week of her being opposed to going anywhere except home (which is not an option) all it took was a man coming around. Whereupon she got profoundly cheerful, astoundingly agreeable, remarkably pleasant, effusive, and nearly instantaneously ready to make the move everyone has been encouraging her to make since this time a week ago.

progress report...

... or possibly a complete lack thereof. I was nearly speechless after the day nurse came in, was talking to the auntie this morning, to hear the obstinate auntie casually agree to be transferred. She has been so completely opposed to the idea of being sent to a facility that would provide some rehab. to help her regain mobility. The problem of what to do with her is likely the biggest reason she is still here in this bed for over ten days. The perfect scenario would be for her to go into nursing care long enough to get on her feet, though at this point it appears she will be using a walker indefinitely.

I asked the nurse if she had documented the fact that there was this sudden, surprising, completely unexpected cooperative attitude. She laughed. So it does not take people who encounter the auntie very long to realize that agreeableness is not high on the list of desirable traits from this particular patient.

The sweet, good-humored nurse said that she had made a note in the auntie's chart to let other staff know she had been willing to accept a transfer. But unless there was a doctor and another nurse who had heard her say this: agreeing to go into rehab., it was of no value. So apparently not only do we need a spirit of cooperation, we also need witnesses. 

At this point, I have been sitting here in this room with this argumentative person since before the sun came up. Waiting for the doctor, now called a hospitalist (Dr. who only works in a hospital, and does not have a free-standing office, or private practice) to come and have an opinion. I've been chatting up the idea of going someplace to get some help with getting up and practicing walking to regain ability. Hoping that when the Dr. comes, she will accidentally agree to relocating into skilled nursing facility.

in limbo...

Monday, September 5, 2016
...which is really surprising, as I know how difficult insurance companies can be when you are trying to get them to agree to paying for medical care. She is still in the hospital, in the same bed as when I left her a week ago. I've dreaded hearing my phone ring, fearing every call would be the nursing staff reporting they were putting her out on the sidewalk. But here she is, cantankerous and uninformative as ever....

At one point several days ago,  I called her room hoping to be pleasant and agreeable in the manner of a 'friendly letter'.  I told her how I was and proceeded to inquire as to her health - she said she was sitting in a motel room waiting for someone to come get her. I asked if she knew how much longer she would be there, and she said I would have to call the office and speak to the manager.

I had hoped the staff would keep her (safe or in the best possible place and circumstances if she were not safe!) through the weekend, to give time to formulate a plan for what will happen next. My best guess today is that she will be discharged soon, and we will have to find caregivers to stay with her in her home. She will be either thoroughly accomodating, highly agreeable - or - most unpleasant ever to people who are being paid to sit. Keep her in sight to be sure she is not in harm's way.

I can't imagine the her insurance will continue to pay for inpatient care just because she refuses to be transferred for rehab. But she appears to not be mobile - and the longer a person is inactive, lying in bed doing nothing the more difficult getting up and active becomes, with loosing muscle mass, mobility, agility and general stamina. Other than the inconvenience of having to get staff in place to help her get up and exercise, I don't know why she is still a patient, and surprised she has not exhausted the patience of everyone on the staff, causing some to threaten to do her grievous bodily harm. Even though as health care professionals, they are trained to relieve pain and suffering rather than be the cause.

making cheezy crafts...

... at Callaway  Gardens today. I had signed up to volunteer for the day some weeks ago, and had actually forgotten what I was supposed to be doing. All I knew is that it would be indoors and air-conditioned, someplace cool and bug free.

We were making these awful tacky cheezy kites that I was almost nearly mortified to be associated with. The kid would get a sheet of copy paper with a hot air balloon design on it. After it was colored in with bits and stubs of broken crayons, it would be folded, hole-punched, taped and tied, then returned to the child who had to run around in circles to make it 'fly'. With a tissue paper tail and a three foot piece of yarn tied on for string, it would stay aloft as long as the child would dash to and fro to provide the 'lift' to make paper stay up in the air.

Making those flowers made from child's hand outline and rolled, taped onto straw for a stem look like a high quality art project. I wrote about making the little paper lily when I volunteered a day at the Gardens back in the spring. And now I feel very badly about poking fun at the process of tracing around their little hands, then cutting the shape out and rolling it to make a flower taped onto a plastic drinking straw. Not nearly as distressing as the day I spent folding and taping to make hopeless kites.

on the homefront...

Saturday, September 3, 2016
...the man who lives there and has the television going at high volume was in a huge snit last night. It was sooooo peaceful and quiet, I really enjoyed being at home. Even though there was no internet along with the lack of cable for the tv. When he got home and could not turn on the news, he was hugely inconvenienced.

I suggested to him that it isn't really such a big deal. We were in a house that was comfortable and dry. Knowing there were people who were affected by the hurricane that blew into Florida and were flooded, stranded, without power, forced out of their homes, lost valuables, had lives completely disrupted. Even if not forced to evacuate due to flood waters, and camping out in emergency shelters, without power, or having trees fall on their houses, lives turned topsy-turvy. And here this guy is steaming about lack of cable service on his television.

He immediately got on the phone and called the toll free number to get his problem resolved. You can imagine how concerned the provider was about the fact that he could not enjoy having the television blast us out of the house. Concern level of Mediacom: zero.

He spent fifteen minutes (by his timing, so probably somewhat exaggerated) on hold while the customer service people were researching. Finally got irritated enough to disconnect the call, but called back immediately to complain about the wait time. And assured the second CSR he spoke with that he would be doing business with another company next week. I'm sure they are all worried about where their next paycheck will come from after that tongue lashing. Not.

Stewing and grumbling for the remainder of the night. Saying this sort of inconvenience happens all the time. And repeatedly announcing 'that is no way to do business'. I was sad with no internet, but all in all a small price to pay for an evening of peace and quiet with no television.

from bad to worse...

...with the auntie crisis: she is completely totally refusing to go to any rehab facility. Will not agree that she is unable to go home and care for herself. Even though when she fell last Sunday she cracked her pelvic bone and the femur where the artificial joint is glued in. I don't know what we will do. Or what she will do when she is discharged.

She is (thankfully) still an inpatient, at the medical center. We all know you should never go into the hospital on a Friday, or even Thursday. Nothing happens in hospitals on the weekend, so you are just paying for a very expensive motel room if you are there on Saturday and Sunday. Don't know how much longer her insurance is going to be willing to cover that expense. I desperately wish she could/would be talked into going someplace that would help her regain some mobility - as I am pretty sure she cannot get around independently at this point.

Here's what I can see, looking into my crystal ball. This is part of the conversation I had with the social worker at the hospital when I was there on Tuesday. As the next of kin, the cousins and I will likely approach this baffling situation in the same manner as one would go about eating an elephant:  One bite at a time.

I know, we all know - your choice would be to go home to your safe haven. To be allowed to return to your comfortable, familiar little nest. So when she is obstinate and stubbornly unwilling to be transferred to nursing care, and therefore demands that she will go home - that will happen. But we will insist she must have someone come and stay with her. With two falls in a ten day span, it is pretty apparent that living alone would be very risky.

I expect it won't take long at all for anyone who provides home health care to have their fill of her demands and disagreeableness. So when it is impossible to find people who will go in and provide care in her home, then it will be time to make some changes. I look into my crystal ball and see 'relocation' in the future. Not some thing she will accept graciously, but there comes a point when you have to take the approach you use with teenagers: 'You don't have to like it, you just have to do it.'

sadly, things are not going well...

Thursday, September 1, 2016
...for the auntie in Valdosta. She appears to have reached the tipping point the nieces have been anticipating and dreading. There have been several reports with people calling in to family services about her scare-y driving. Now she has had a couple of falls in her home. One a week ago, in the yard, with busted brow requiring a trip to the ER, and several stitches above her eye. 

And another fall this past weekend, when EMS was called. She has been in the hospital since Sunday night, and will be transferred to a rehab facility when discharged. It is probably fortuitous that she has had both hips replaced with artificial joints over the past decade, or we would be dealing with a broken hip and a long recovery, learning how to walk again. Which, in the elderly,  is often the beginning of the end who often do not fully regain mobility or recover completely from the surgical repair.

There are a couple of small fractures, so there will be a gradual process of putting weight on the injured leg, with hope that healing will occur in time. She is already getting some therapy in the hospital, with the assistance of a rehab specialist and a wheeled walker.  The worst part is that she seems to be seriously confused, disoriented and often agitated. Even more than usual, and 'usual' is pretty daunting.

Sad for her, and frustrating too. For all the people who have tried to talk to her and get some understanding about what she would choose for herself if the time should come when she cannot live alone. That 'time'  is upon us, and she has not been willing to have a conversation with the family members who will be responsible for making decisions.

So I guess this is a cautionary tale: Go ahead and talk about the future: Possibilities, options, choices.  Decisions about the stuff none of us want to admit will happen, and do not want to discuss with the people who will be left to sort it all out. I've been threatening for some time to compose my own obituary. I think it is High Time.