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update on the auntie...

Wednesday, May 31, 2017
... is nearly as surprising to me as it will be to anyone who reads this.Wow. The auntie has been relocated, very much against her will. The petition to probate court for guardian was approved. And we proceed. When we were in court two weeks ago, and the judge asked what the plan would be in the petition was granted, the first thing suggested was to get her someplace she could receive needed nutrition, regular meals, proper medications and be around other people.

I don't think she was eating right, to maintain health (as evidenced by continual weight loss and chronic UTI), anyone who talked with her could tell she was struggling mentally (which will hopefully improve with someone around to supervise and dispense Rx). She was constantly calling people at all hours of the day and night complaining of being alone, fearful, anxious, not knowing where she was (all the while dialing these middle of the night pleas from her home phone.)

She was taken to a facility in south GA where she will get all those things. When she arrived, she was very angry, ferociously swearing and threatening everyone within spitting distance.  Determined that she would throttle the responsible parties at first opportunity. Then decided she really liked one person on the staff who tried to assist her, and settled down to some cake and ice cream.

The people with experience in this type situation say when you finally get that recalcitrant individual relocated you need to make yourself scarce. Keep your distance, stay away for a week. Give that obstreperous dementia-consumed person time to adjust, settle in. Then bring ice cream when you are finally brave enough to go for a visit.

a day for remembrance...

Tuesday, May 30, 2017
...and honor those who served our country: celebrating Memorial Day with family. We went to the Infantry Museum for a dedication of a granite paver to honor The Man Who Lives Here. It involved some subterfuge and sneaking around. I think he was suitably surprised by seeing family members he did not expect.

He told me months ago, maybe last year, about a friend and fellow volunteer whose family had a small paver made with military info. on it, installed along the edge of a wide walkway through the Avenue of Flags at the Museum. That family came together to be present for the dedication and lunch in the restaurant for some family bonding time. The friend, RW, asked The Man Who Lives Here to join his family for lunch. A happy event with extended family gathered around.

I thought: 'What a sweet idea... I should do that.' Got the paperwork to complete the order for the small brick-sized paver, but could not decide what the inscription should be. So, though I wanted it to all be a big surprise, I had to ask him about the wording. Limited space and too much to say. He decided and we sent the form off. You get a little replica, paper-weight sized granite block when you place your order, but I requested four more, for all the daughters to have one.

He did not know all the daughters were coming to be present at the dedication, and stay for lunch. I know he was surprised, and I think delighted to see them all in one place at the same time: everyone showed up. It was a blistering hot day, sitting in the morning sun for the thankfully short ceremony. Invocation, introduction of various dignitaries, brief speech given, prayer, taps and all done.

We went inside the refreshingly cool museum. Up stairs to lunch in the restaurant. Where one of the daughters got a call and had to leave. She is a midwife and expected to not even attend, but at least got through the dedication and photo taking before dashing off for baby delivery.

After lunch we went to view the newly installed and dedicated paver. More photos and everyone left to go their separate ways. All driving for hours to get here, and more of the same to get back home. Thanks for coming.

weekend visitors...

Monday, May 29, 2017
...who came in on Friday, when I was not even here. Not a very auspicious beginning for being a good host to guests. In truth, I had not planned on being on the road, dealing with the auntie in Valdosta when we started making plans for them to come. The simplest explanation is one that is universally true: Life is complicated. In the sense that Murphy's Law will always take precedence.

But arrive they did, before I could get back to town from a day that was a 'stay and see Georgia' tour. Starting with driving from Atlanta almost to Florida and then back to Georgia's West Coast  here on the Chattahoochee River. I will usually be prepared with recorded books to keep my mind occupied, accompany me on my travels. But I was searching the dial, looking for public radio stations this time.

I knew they were coming, and had been adding items to a honey-do list for chores that I would like to accomplish. Some I will eventually get around to doing, but also several I did not have the skills or knowledge to manage on  my own. Much of the benefit/joy of list making is found in being able to mark through things as the project is completed. I am pleased to report a number of things were done.The productivity went on late in the day yesterday.

The two have been busy little bees. Getting things started and finished that were not actually on the list, so: Yay!  In order to be even more efficient and productive, you just add the extras and immediately strike through that addition. As with most homeowner projects, sadly the list is never-ending. But it looks much better this morning than before the diligent pair arrived. Thanks to the two industrious house guests and one nosey dog.

probate court: part 3...

Sunday, May 28, 2017
... you might also be wondering, just precisely why: was she in the ER at the medical center? The story I heard was that she had called 911. Which is in itself remarkable, due to the fact that it is what we had been trying to get her to do if she had a problem. The number anyone can dial would be most likely to get a response.

EMS did answer and did respond. She was apparently dressed and ready to go for a ride at 6:54 am when she was taken to the emergency room. My assumption is that the EMTs got to her house and checked her over, found her relatively stable (physically) and did not know what to do with her, so they transported her to the hospital. Whereupon the staff  did the research, found her history and discovered the next of kin, explaining why I got the call. While I was most fortuitously already en route.

Why she called 911? According to what I was told when I arrived  to retrieve her, she was 'lonely'.

probate court: part 2..

Saturday, May 27, 2017
... the person who was willing to drive from Atlanta to Valdosta to get paperwork from the attorney's office to the bank nearly had an uneventful trip. Until I was about thirty minutes north of my destination, when I got a call from Valdosta. A nurse in the ER at the hospital reporting my aunt was there and they were not sure what to do with her. Unbelievably, I was only a half hour away.

After taking care of banking business, I went to retrieve the auntie. She was not very communicative, so I knew she did not want me to be there, or anywhere near her person. We went to get some lunch that did not suit her.

Then a visit to her doctor's office. She needed lab work done, as I was fairly sure there was some medical problem. Yep. We picked up the first dose of a ten day Rx, and I took her home. Home was not my first choice. But could not get her into a facility without proving a non-reactive TB test. What a mess.

She totally flew off the handle with me in the exam. room, when the PA asked which pharmacy to use, and I answered for her. I was accused of minding her business, telling her what to do, and being 'bossy', which according to her I have been doing since I was four years old. Now is a good time to remember that she has dementia, and cannot remember anything: especially something she said two minutes ago. So I forgive her for that. And might find it amusing.

I will have to do some soul-searching and ponder on this. The trait that popped out of her mouth is one that I have never ever considered for myself. I can tell some things I know about me, but this is not even remotely me. Completely unwilling to confront, rarely standing up for myself, taking the easy way out, always agreeable, reluctant to be the one spoiling for a fight. I cannot imagine how, why, where this came from.

probate court...

...just to keep those who have been sitting on the edge informed. The family drama continues apace. There are surely those who wonder why I did this to myself. Along with 'what were you thinking?' But the simple truth is someone needed to do it, and I found myself in the position of being Somebody.

The auntie has no short term memory, and there is no point in attempting to remind her of things. Like a conversation we just had five minutes ago, or something we did together when I was nine years old. Nothing 'sticks', like those movies you have seen where the lead character cannot recall events from the previous day and gets important facts tatoo'ed as a reminder. Which is ok, unless you are declining into dementia and will eventually forget how to read.

It took the better part of a week for the process of getting a bond approved and returned to the court. While I thought we were waiting for the court to issue and deliver the document, in reality the Judge was waiting for the bonding process to be completed. Then, and only then, can the order be issued. So it was Friday, just yesterday, before the paperwork was available.

I had prepared to drive to Valdosta to get the paperwork from the attorney, and take it to the bank to secure the auntie's finances. Fearful that she would do something that the bank staff could not prevent, even though they could clearly see there was a problem.  The manager was most willing to help me with transferring authority to keep funds safe.

Even though I was not mentally prepared to devote my day to tending to her business, I am practicing the art of adaptability. Which  means, I suppose, flexible enough to be willing to allow her needs to take precedence. I am pretty sure anyone who travels this path has absolutely no idea what they are getting into when they take the first step. I just knew someone needed to step up and take responsiblity, and here I am: Somebody

a new one for your consumption...

... an expression that you will enjoy when you find many occasions to use. Found in the course of the trip we made to Seattle and Portland. We spent most nights with a friend I had met when we were both with child, and those children are now in their mid-thirties. As well as most of our days when she was an excellent and accommodating tour guide. Chauffeuring us local points of interest, places of historic note, and geographical wonders as well as 'off the beaten path' odd-ball places we still enjoy laughing about.

Because we have birthing classes and actually delivering in common there will always be a connection. So we can start a conversation in one decade and pick up the thread in another. A sweet though distant friend. Daughters born about the same time, who were forced together as infants do not have that bond we do though I wish they felt like Twins Separated at Birth.

We went to see her daughter briefly, and had a short visit with bustling household. One of the granddaughters related a story about a classmate who seemed unable to focus, stay on task with assignments. Referring to the student as 'la-de-da-ing around', which seems to be succinct and self-explanatory.

I have enjoyed finding occasions to use that term, and have applied it to a variety of circumstances. There are people in my life who seem to have perfected it as an art, spending excessive amounts of time doing what my mom would refer to as 'lolly-gagging' and I would call malingering. But the term of la-de-da-ing makes it sound much more enjoyable. Feel free to adapt and apply as you find opportunity.

speaking southern...

...was my thought after I heard someone refer to wishing for an 'English to Southern' dictionary.  Having lived in the South all my life, I think people from other places are the ones who have poor diction and unusual accents. After a lifetime of Georgia living, so accustomed to the vagaries and oddities of the way people from the southern states talk, it sounds like 'normal' to me.

The word in question was 'wirehouse'. When someone had spoken of needing to retrieve an item that had been placed in storage. This person was completely baffled about the word. Unable to figure out why anyone would: a) construct a facility of wire and b) bother to store anything of value in such a building.

Later discovering the word he failed to understand was actually the drawn-out southern version of warehouse. Which of course, makes much more sense than thinking that a person with even the least amount of common sense would choose to create a construction of wire.  And then expect anything of value to be safely stored within.

it is usually a quote...

Thursday, May 25, 2017
... that makes me think about something that would have come out of my mom's mouth, but this one brought back memories of my dad. I don't know what caused this to come to mind, but I have the clearest memory of my dad, when I was as kid. I would ask him where he was going, though it was obviously none of my business. His response: 'I am going to see a man about a dog.' Which is apparently an euphemism for 'you don't need to know'. Of course, I was much too young to be included in conversations between adults, but as I child, I did not know that.

So naturally, I thought 'we're getting a puppy?' Assuming that he was really truly actually going some place where there was a man who had puppies he was giving away, and he might bring one home for my brother and I to have. Oh, wow!

When in reality: NOYB. I am pretty sure I have never heard that come out of anyone else's mouth, so that makes it exclusive to my dad. I assume it is a pretty common phrase that would have been heard occasionally in the era in which my dad grew up. But it was not only news to me, it was something that a child was totally unprepared to hear, in the sense that it was taken entirely too literally. Making little people much too hopeful and anticipatory, expecting results that will never come to pass.

went to work...

Tuesday, May 23, 2017
... this morning at 7 a.m., and thought that it almost felt like a mini-vacation, after having to set my alarm for four to be at work by 5 o'clock the day before. But ended up being there until 5:30, and still did not get it all done. I am sure it will be right there tomorrow, with no one having taken up the slack to get done all that needs to be accomplished.

I have noticed that the bird nest I reported on weeks ago is still inhabited. So have to wonder what happened to the eggs and family she tried to hatch and raise that would have matured by now. Upon closer inspection, the nest appears to have been renovated, enlarged with added moss, spider webs and other scavenged materials. So nosy me: I had to get the ladder and take a peek.

I am so curious to know what happened. There are more eggs. Four. I am pretty sure the first clutch had five, so I know this is not the same batch that would have never hatched. Even though that is possible, as the newly enlarged nest is higher enough that there might possibly be the unhatched ones hidden below. But I prefer to think that first laying was successful, the babies have fledged and literally left the nest. I might remember that the ones I peered over the edge to observe weeks ago were light blue, and these looked almost white, actually probably an 'eggshell' color. Ha.

She flew away when she saw me headed towards the front door with my step ladder. And made disapproving noises the whole time I was standing on tip-toe peeking in. Saying: tch, tch, tch, tch, which we can assume means in bird-speak you should mind your own business.

there used to be...

Monday, May 22, 2017
...someone who lived here that would store clean clothes in a pile in the laundry basket. When she needed something to wear, she would spritz the severely wrinkled item with a water mister bottle and toss it in the dryer to de-wrinkle-ify. I guess she still does that, can't say for sure. But I do know the clothes that come out of the dryer at her house go in a big pile on a bed, awaiting folding and putting away. She saves that chore for me, as I tell her I think 'folding is good therapy'. Ostensibly she has never been in need of any therapy!

I was thinking of her today, when I was sorting baskets of dirty stuff to start a load of wash. The Man Who Lives Here does not do laundry. Not washing or folding to put away. I will occasionally leave a tidy pile of clean items to go in his dresser that he can deposit while sitting on the edge of the bed. The baskets are in the floor of the closet, where clothing is tossed when taken off in the evening.

For some reason I could not find a ugly green shirt to put on this morning as I was preparing to go to work. And looked in the dirty laundry basket, where there were two of my work shirts. For the first time ever I my life I took a dirty shirt out of the basket and put it on. It really wasn't dirty, just smelled like the stuff I cut up all day at work: watermelon, canteloupe, honeydew melon, pineapple.

I cannot in all my life recall ever doing that. See how good I am getting at telling on myself? It is funny and a little strange, right?

after working all day...

... putting in eight hours on my poor tired feets, I went on a farm tour yesterday. A friend who is all about organics, compassion for animals that are human food, and being mindful of the environment asked me to go along. A family farm in south Alabama that is  mostly pecan orchard. They sell free range eggs, granola, and homemade yogurt at the street market in Uptown on Saturday mornings.

The friend, C., discovered the family offers a walking tour twice a year, and she wanted to go. This is the same person who told me about the eagle workshop at White Oak Farm in south GA back in January. Which was very educational, provided the attendees with an abundance of information to share. So, even though I had very tired bones and feets, I planned to go on Sunday. It was equally interesting and informative.

The farm is primarily planted in trees that produce nuts - a number of different varieties. More than I ever wanted to know about the complicated life of a nut bearing tree. They also have chickens and cows. The cows graze beneath the trees, provide natural fertilizer and also provide milk and beef that they sell. The chickens come along behind the beeves or dairy cows, scratch and break up the droppings, and will lay eggs any place they happen to be when the urge occurs: trees, briars, seat of the farm truck when the door is left open, laundry basket, porch chairs.

They also have bees, lots of bees. But do not sell much honey as most is used in the making of their granola. We were not offered a sample, but my friend said it should be a controlled substance. I assume all the other people on the tour, eighteen or so, had purchased goods from the family at the Saturday market. Which would make them knowldgeable about their home-grown, farm-fresh products, which lured them on to the humid, hot, gnat-y farm. To walk through the shady pastures of fifty year old pecan trees, carefully avoiding cow-patties and bee hives on a Sunday afternoon.

It was all most educational. Even though I grew up in a fairly rural area, hearing about farm life makes it obvious I am a city kid. I am definitely a wuss and not at all ready for the existence of those that provide the things we consume. I am all the more appreciative of people who love the land they live on and choose to farm, use their resources wisely and be good stewards of the earth.

here's what happened...

Sunday, May 21, 2017
... when people gave me pecans and I thought I should not 'look a gift horse in the mouth'. I tried to get them cracked to use in baking or just eating. Adding to homemade version of party mix (without pretzels) is always a tasty treat. Toasted with some butter and salt is better than candy.

My friend in SC gave me some nuts from his tree, a year and a half ago. Not this past fall, but the one before that. He blamed the neighborhood squirrels for poor showing/ He was convinced the little tree climbers had gotten most of them and left little for him to find when they fall on the ground. I might have received what amounted to enough to half fill a gallon jar.

Then someone else gave me a few more: just enough to fill a quart zipper bag. Together, the nuts might have weighed four pounds, maybe less. When I took them to the nut-cracking place back in the fall, the guys at the hardware store said they would have to charge me eight dollars. That is the minimum charge for five pounds of nuts. It was not worth five bucks to me. I said Thank You and left with my pecans still in the bag.

Sent them to another store where they would not crack them because they were so small. The report is their machine was not set up to crack small pecans. What?  The bag of nuts has been sitting in my carport for months, or  riding around in my car. Waiting for me to figure out what to do with them.

One morning recently, when lying in bed, waiting for the alarm to go off, I decided I would just give them to the local wildlife. Be Gone With You! But did not want to do anything that would encourage squirrels to hang around more than they do. Or make them think the food supply around here is so steady and generous they should invite the relatives to come for a visit, maybe move into the neighborhood.

When I went to do a  volunteer job yesterday morning, I took my nuts, and dumped the whole bag out under a tree. I hope the squirrels up in Harris County have found them and are enjoying the buffet. I was ready for the nuts to be out of my life. And thought dumping them some place that far from home was an excellent idea.

about that 'board appointment' ...

Saturday, May 20, 2017
... as a public figure. I am well on my way to becoming a politician! Not. But the whole idea of me being on a semi-NGO board that makes decisions affecting the public and quality of life in our community is so unlikely. Being that person who much prefers to be stirring the pots on the stove, working the serving line, or sweeping the floor rather than be in the limelight.

An explanation of how this came to be reminds me of a story I have greatly enjoyed telling over the years. Heard from, or maybe just about, a former Presbyterian and fellow church goer. He was reportedly hanging around in the parking lot after a committee meeting. The group was discussing some issues that had been brought up during their 'official' gathering in the building, but several continued the conversation as they left to go to their vehicles.

Standing there, facing one another, thinking out-loud, pondering and considering the questions and concerns raised before they adjourned. Someone said something along the lines of' we need a 'volunteer', possibly wondering who they might find to do some research or legwork and report back to the group at their next scheduled meet. This friend said he looked up, during the give and take conversation, only to discover everyone else had taken a big step back - leaving him as the unintended 'volunteer'.

He claimed to not have actually offered to do the work, but when he realized what had just occurred he understood he was 'it'. The guy who would take on the extra responsibility to investigate and be prepared to make the report. Inadvertently, unintentionally becoming what I recently heard referred to as 'volun-told'.

you might find amusing...

...  my unlikely appointment as a board member of a local non-profit organization. The Keep Columbus Beautiful foundation has been operational for many years, under the auspices of the city government. My assumption is that board members must be approved by the city, as I had to fill out a brief questionnaire. Between volunteering myself all over town, and this laborious process with the courts, I have been thoroughly vetted. Background checked, inspected, historically investigated, back molars approved, dust-bunnies counted.

It started with an email on the local list serve about the current representative from our end of the county being replaced as he has completed his term. I said: 'hmmm... I could do that.' So I volunteered. Found out who to contact, and gave her a call. The director of KCB is someone I have known for years, since she was employed by GSUSA, so I can already call her by her first name. She seemed to think I would be ok, nominating myself.  Apparently no one else was jumping up and down for the position. I'm it!

I had to complete a form online, providing basic info about residence, how to contact me. We will see if I pass the muster and actually become participant in good standing. Probably no more complicated in depth than being able to fog a mirror. A body with a discernible heart beat and interest in betterment of our community. I think I can manage those qualifications pretty well.

might be wondering....

... what happens next? Now that we've been to probate and a decision has occurred. You will be as surprised as we were to discover: nothing. We are not precisely in a holding pattern or stuck in a stalemate. But also unable to move forward. We cannot yet exercise politeness and good manners, kindly ask the auntie to possibly consider the idea that she would voluntarily be willing to relocate to assisted living. Suggest that she agreeably accept the knowledge she is unable to live independently, caring for her basic needs.

The cousin has broached the subject many times, plainly stating the auntie would be less confused, lonely, feeling displaced or lost. All those things she struggles with now, when she balks about the idea of someplace she could get decent meals, could be resolved. She currently refuses to consider relocating in order to be around other people and socialize, while incessantly calling (from her home phone) friends and family to say she is alone and does not know where she is. Plus if she were to move, there would be staff to manage meds. which she cannot handle when she is alone, at home by herself.

We are awaiting documents from the court. The person who is appointed/deemed trustworthy to handle the financial affairs of another/incapacitated individual must be bonded. I wrote another whopping big check on Wednesday for my bond. Handed it over to the attorney standing in the parking lot of the judicial building in Valdosta. He was to take it to get the bond issued, return to probate with proof. Until the bond is accepted by the court, nothing happens. And the bond cannot be issued until the court has granted conservator ship. Sounds like 'the chicken or the egg' story to me.

If things went as planned, that has occurred. The court will then proceed (at the speed of that aircraft carrier making a U-turn) to issue documents. A letter that would be proof of the judge's decision to grant family members access to the auntie's financial resources. Necessary to better understand her situation and make a decision about her future.

 In all likelihood she will be moving. Under much duress, as you know how un-fond she is of the person who will then proceed to apply persuasion about a change. Her 'Not Favorite' will be kindly politely requesting her to 'please dear' get in the car and let's take a ride.

cubing canteloupe...

Friday, May 19, 2017
... for hours at work today. Along with fresh pineapple and honeydew. Ingredients for the BOGO fruit salad that is in demand. I would say 'hugely gigantic' but that term seems to be in use by other people with limited vocabulary. Wishing now for the foresight to count all the melons I peeled and seeded and cubed over several hours of steadily slicing and dicing. I guess I cut up about fifty melons and maybe nearly that many pineapples. To leave in plastic bins for someone else to assemble fruit salads.

I had thirty nine and three fourths hours by 11:30 this morning, so I had to leave. Or I would still be there putting stuff in bowls, weighing, pricing, labeling. Smelling like a watermelon.

when the opposing attorney...

...was asked what it is about me that the cantankerous auntie finds so objectionable, he reported she 'did not want to talk about it.' All he would say is that in conversation with her, he discovered I am 'not her favorite'.  Understatement of the year.  This took place in the courtroom when the judge had taken a short break and left. Thankfully she was not privy to this conversation.

This from the attorney we met for the first time on Wednesday who was appointed by the court to meet with the auntie. His job was to make sure she was aware of the petition for guardianship and knew what it means. He reported that she was so unable to carry on a conversation he felt it would not be beneficial for her to even appear in court. I do not relish the task he had of being the one who would attempt to explain to her the judge's decision.

I suspect we have lost the chance to unearth the reason she is so angry at me, and opposed to anything I might suggest. It would be most enlightening to know what little seed has been planted and nurtured in her brain to be so certain I am the source of all her misfortune. I have not the slightest inkling of where this animosity came from, as I feel I have spent  more time with her, devoted more of myself to her than any living relative. Only to be taken aback by her anger, and surprised by statements she has made to relatives and friends about her resentment that I continue to exist.

She has blamed me for everything from to stealing her car keys to stealing her car. Taking her driving permit from her purse to telling the state department of motor vehicles they should tell her I said she is not allowed to drive her car. She holds me responsible for everything that has gone awry in her life.

I wish I had some insight into what incident could be the origin of this fixation. I am so curious as to why and how she leapt to the unlikely conclusion  that innocent me should be cast in the role of Bad Guy. But as she continues to slip away loosing more and more of her mental capacity, that will likely never be answered.

I expect there well be major opposition when the time comes for her to relocate, make a change from the familiar environment and routine of her daily habits. Hopefully we will figure out some way for the transition to be relatively peaceful to keep the agitation and confusion at a minimum. The idea of doing the 'good cop-bad cop' game has occurred, as she seems to have much more affection and appreciation for my cousin - though I am not certain the feeling is mutual! A little of the auntie goes a long way.

the one day drive to...

...Valdosta and back was about what I had thought. The meeting with judge and attorneys in Probate Court pretty much as I expected: a 'non-event'. I was markedly unconcerned about the whole thing, surprising even myself by the lack of anxiety when thinking about possible outcomes. And it turned out just about as anticipated. With the thoroughly documented history of her decline by the doctor who has been seeing the auntie for a number of years, I felt like it was a sure thing that the judge would determine there was a need for some 'adult supervision'.

I continued to harbor a remote hope, right up until the last minute, when the very capable Judge came back into the courtroom after a brief recess.  Thinking that someone else may volunteer, suddenly step up and offer to be the person who would serve as the guardian and conservator for the failing auntie. I was more than willing to be graceful (and grateful) for anyone who would suddenly pop out of a closet and say: 'I'll do it.'

Judge Powell left us to our own devices, and stepped out to do some sort of research, or maybe just hit 'print' on her computer. There sat the four of us: two attorneys and two witnesses, chatting as breezily as if we were sitting in the shade drinking lemonade. When Judge Powell returned she read the form she had completed, and gave us all a copy. Designating the (now anxious) me as the person who would be responsible for the care and maintenance of the auntie.

apparently a herd of monkeys ...

Tuesday, May 16, 2017
... came through the area today while I was at work.  Back story: Someone one who is crazy about me, gave me a nifty little tomato plant for a gift. The fruit is heart shaped. We actually had a shipment of these little plants come in from the warehouse to my workplace, and apparently sold them all. They were pretty, nice sized plants, loaded with fruit.

Late yesterday afternoon,  I transplanted it into a five gallon bucket, with good dirt, lots of osmocote to feed it all summer, and watered well. There were a number of little tomatoes on the plant, beginning to change color, thinking about getting ripe. Making my mouth water, as I did all the nurturing things to make it happy, encouraging it to ramp up production.  Probably half a dozen of the little thumb sized fruits were turning yellow, giving me the idea that I would soon be making salad.

When I went out this afternoon to water, all those nearly ready tomatoes were lying on the ground around the bucket. Some half eaten, some just tossed aside. Some stepped on and smooshed. Could it have been deer? Was it squirrels? Would chipmunks do that? Where could the monkeys have come from?

I was so annoyed. There are still lots of wee little tomatoes out there on the plant, that will hopefully grow, turn red, be tasty when harvested. But what sort of animal would have pulled them off and not eaten, just thrown down and stomped? Reminding me of those tomato plants I devotedly nurtured last summer that the big fat nasty green worms ate. Causing me to not get even one tomato to enjoy. And also making me swear I would never plant tomatoes again. Liar, liar, pants on fire.....

I just googled up 'what is a herd of  monkeys called?; and find it is a 'troop.'

they come and they go...

Monday, May 15, 2017
... while some of us stick around for years and years: managers in the workplace. Store managers and departmental guys are periodically shifted from store to store, for reasons us lowly workers are not privy to. When the higher-ups take a notion to stir the pot, the guys who tell me what to do, supervise department ordering, staffing, budgets: suddenly, spontaneously disappear and a new one pops up, generally unannounced. Catching the lowliest of employees (me!) completely by surprise.

They will shift store managers around, as well as send department supervisors from one store to another within the same geographic area. Or send someone who is jockeying for a promotion to some place at a great distance as a test, make them prove how badly they want to climb the ladder, show how determined they are to move up. Since I have been in my little niche for nearly two decades, it is apparent I will not be climbing any ladder of success, and have a marked lack of ambition.

But what I believe I am good at: being good. Doing what I do well, and over time, proving that I am willing and flexible to work pretty much any time I am needed. There are lean times of Biblical proportion: working four hours a week back in January, feeling really short-changed and put-upon with a minuscule paycheck. And times of feeling inundated: the week leading up to Valentine's Day where the maximum of forty hours is a certainty.

Or the upcoming week, as usually happens on a federal holiday: some kind of crazy 'what were they thinking' sale to bring customers in like swarming locusts. Buying stuff to cook on the grill, things for picnic-ing, and fresh cut fruit like it was survival food. The fruit will be something we cannot keep ahead of, so everyone available will be cutting melons, pineapple, berries trying to meet demand.

It all evens out. Plus I try to condition myself to remember:' if I am not on the time clock, I am on vacation.' The 'up' side of all this, while occasionally feeling like a second class citizen is that I can request to be off, ask for time away, and there is not much they can say. It is not 'vacation' or 'paid leave', so there is no remuneration, but I can usually negotiate a compromise, come to agreement and get my way, when I start making plans. I would never ever remotely think of telling them that they are pretty well trained, to let me do what I want. Work when I want, off when I don't want to be there because I am: wanting to leave town without any flak, for fun!

feels like summer...

...when I get out in the yard mid-afternoon. I have some things I need to get planted, and since it rained over the weekend, now is a good time to try to take things out of pots and put in the ground.
I lucked up on some sort of mysterious perennial salvia from gardening friends, that reportedly blooms yellow, and will put on new flowers all summer long. Meaning it will make the pollinators happy, along with the butterfly bush and red salvia already in bloom.

Someone gave me a fall blooming clematis that is so fragrant it is almost cloyingly sweet. It likes to climb, so it will have to go someplace it can twine along a fence or inch up into a tree. And I accidentally bought some of those little 'fake' petunias, the things that have a trumpet shaped bloom, but much smaller than the traditional ones. They are called 'calibrochia' and are very similar in habit to petunias - blooming all summer, though they get sort of leggy, stringy-looking and need a trim to get them tidy. There are several sitting in pots on the concrete driveway that need to be relocated, into larger pots, or hanging baskets, just needing some motivation for it to occur.

I might have possibly veered off into the Kmart parking lot today, wondering if there was anything interesting in the garden shop. And drove veeerrrrryyy sloooowly across the front of the store, but did not park and go in, so was able to prevent myself from being lured into buying more stuff that would need a home. There was actually pretty good variety of plants on pallets, lot of green growing things near the front door, hoping to go home with someone desperate to make a Mother's Day gift purchase, perhaps?

not unexpected...

Saturday, May 13, 2017
... due to the retails sales event called 'Mother's Day.' I knew I would be working more than the usual fifteen to twenty hours of work/pay I have had in recent weeks. The inexplicable scheduling causes the work week to start on Saturday instead of a Sunday or Monday. Meaning today is the first day of this new week. I have been told to plan on working forty hours between now and next Friday. Makes my brain and feets tired already, and I have not even begun the uphill slog.

Lots of plants: lilies, hydrangeas, azaleas, roses all in pots. Lots of dozens of roses at a really good price. Lots of mixed bouquets that I am constantly trying to tell people will stay pretty, last much longer than the roses they feel compelled to buy for wives, mothers, significant others. The thing I dislike the most are the hydrangeas that have to be watered at least once a day, or the huge oversized blooms start to wilt, making the plants unsaleable. I go around several times each day and spritz them with water, on the gigantic mop-head blooms and leaves,  to try to keep them fresh looking just long enough to get through the check-out line and out the door. If they start to look deflated as soon as they get into the parking lot, that's not my problem!

I've been in retail floral for many years, and knew what it would be like. But like the feeling of seeing a tidal wave (cannot spell tsunami- maybe spellcheck will do it for me?) coming in the days leading up to Feb. 14 when Valentine's Day is so exhausting, always thankful when it is over: knowing I survived. Have a little break and take a deep breath, then begin to anticipate the next big 'occasion'.

book review: "Away"...

... written by Amy Bloom. I own this book, so will happily give it away. I'm thinking I bought it for nearly nothing, maybe at a 'fiction sale' by the Friends of Libraries when I was planning to travel and wanted something I could read and abandon when I got to the end. The Friends obviously get a lot of donations from people who want to recycle, cleaning out clutter, and willing to support the programming the library has ongoing. We all know how 'stuff' can take over, so I imagine even the storage space the people who run the little non-profit book store can be overwhelmed by well meaning patrons. If you want to read my book, you cannot return it to me.

I enjoyed it so much, "Away" traveled with me for several days. I carried it around, to be available to read a few pages in odd moments of down time, when I would be waiting and have a little space to get through a paragraph or two. About the hardships of a young woman who came from eastern Europe as an immigrant in the previous century, not speaking a word of English. Lillian witnessed the brutal scene of her entire family being killed before she left for the US. She got off the boat with: contact information for a relative who lived in New York City, a satchel of clothing, and a lot of hope. Found a job sewing, working for a pittance, started taking language classes, and eventually became independent.

In a bizarre twist, she became a mistress of a man who was an actor, involved in theatrical productions, and then found herself involved with this actor's father as well. A relative from eastern Europe appears and reports the young daughter she thought was dead had been seen, when she was taken by neighbors who were traveling to Russia. Desperate for her only child, Lillian decides to make her way across north America, hoping to get to Alaska, and find a boat to Siberia. The story of her travels across the US are no less grueling than you would imagine the trip from Europe to New York in steerage with other foreign nationals would be.

I kept reading, thinking "it has to get better", determined I should go with her, hoping to ease her struggles, desiring for her to encounter people with compassion who would want to help her along. The story is full of heartache, but written in a way that makes her many hardships seem realistically believable. Randomly chosen to read, but riveting enough to keep me coming back, wanting her to be reunited with her family, have peaceful resolution to her struggles.

a quote from...

Thursday, May 11, 2017
...Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain, possibly not remembered with one-hundred percent accuracy. But it goes something like: "Always do right. It will gratify some people, and astonish the rest". It came to mind today, when I was thinking about the auntie. So here is the latest...

I am getting a bit stressed out as the date for probate inches closer. We are to go to court next Wednesday, with the hope that the judge will grant guardianship and conservator-ship. This will allow the nieces to make some decisions on behalf of the auntie who continues to decline. There are times when I have some serious reservations about the future of this endeavor. But then I remind myself: "You are doing the Right Thing".

It is a near certainty the auntie will balk, fail to see any reason for her to make changes. But we are in agreement/believe she cannot continue to live alone, and is not fully capable of making informed decisions about her welfare. She often calls friends and other relatives, asking for help, but refuses to consider making any changes. Displaying some pretty glaring signs of dementia.

So the date for court draws near. The attorney appointed by the court to represent the auntie has agreed that it would not be helpful for her to be present. We will see what happens next, and hope for the best. "Always do right..."

book review: "Atlantic Union"...

... by Adam Haslett. Please notice that it is a review and not a recommendation. I've read several lately that were unremarkable and not something I would encourage others to devote their time to. Actually not even worth searching out if you cannot find it at your local library or on Amazon.

This was another I recently checked out on Cd's from the library. I think there were nine discs in the box, so it was fairly long. Randomly chosen as possibly worth listening to/reading while driving. It was interesting, in an odd sort of way. I don't recall ever having read something where every character in the story was so thoroughly dysfunctional. It had to do with people in the banking industry, taking advantage of insider information on the Japanese stock market.

Now that I think of it, have to wonder why I listened all the way through. Looking back, I am surprised I actually finished the book: I suppose hoping for a different outcome, wanting the bad guys to get their 'just desserts'. Things definitely did not work out well. Reminding me about how often people in places of influence can become so insulated from reality they think it is acceptable to conduct their lives by a different set of rules. Feel free to read between the lines here, and think how often the same applies to people with political sway/influence.

I am often both appaled and frightened by the stuff that goes on in the world.  We all know that 'bad news' is the stuff that makes for juicy headlines or top stories at six o'clock. Capturing the best of prime time viewing, even though it makes us shake our heads in wonderment and disbelief - amazed at the greed or stupidity (or both) of people in positions of authority, often elected by constituents hoping for improvements.

They seem to feel like they lead such privileged lives they are not required to abide by the same laws as the folk down in the trenches, working people far removed from the heights of upper floors with corner offices. Remember Bernie Madoff and his pyramid scheme? How could so many people be so naive?

on the surface...

... at first thought, it seems like such a small thing, to get in your vehicle and travel. But there are people who cannot for any number of reasons. So, though it might on first thought seem to be remarkably unremarkable it is really a matter of perspective. Like most things we take for 'granted', as we go about the routine of our daily business. Should you be a person who does not actually have any 'business' of particular import, then your daily errands or just puttering around.

But when you consider: there are places in the world where that freedom/convenience simply does not exist. In fact, most places.  In reality, almost everywhere on the planet except the continental United States of America will require you to file travel plans that may or may not be approved. Or demand your documents when you attempt to cross any borders. Things you don't ever think about, right?

I went to Montgomery on Wednesday. Had the hardest time trying to figure out what time I should leave home. My appointment was at 8:45, central time. I was thinking that if I left home at 8:45 eastern time, I could be there at 8:45. Like squeezing through a time warp. But when I talked to a couple of people about my plan, they thought it actually takes about 90 minutes rather than an hour. Meaning I would need to leave around eight'ish to be on time. The worst possible for attempting to get out of our driveway with commuters, school buses, car-pool moms, day care vans all converging at that precise time.

While I was traveling halfway across Alabama, the thought occurred to me that no one cares. Unless I do really bad things while driving that would draw unwanted attention to myself, no one would even notice I was there.  I did not need to file any paperwork with a government agency nor gain approval. No travel documents, passports, permission needed.

No one checked my credentials when I crossed the state line, or questioned my motivations. It was an all around non-event. Making me thankful for all the things we enjoy as a result of founding fathers and wording of the US Constitution.

book review: "Our Souls at Night"...

Wednesday, May 10, 2017
...was the sweetest story. Written by Kent Haruf, who would have been a resident of Colorado, I assume, from the liner notes. I read it on CD's from the library, there were only three discs in the box, so it was not a long book. Notes about the author indicate he died at age seventy one in 2014, but was well known (just not to me!), having won a number of awards for writing over his career. Copyright  in 2015, so apparently published after his death. I will be looking for other things he has written, as I so thoroughly enjoyed the characters I met and became so fond of in "Souls".

Two elderly people, one a widow in her seventies, and a widower who lives nearby start a friendship when Addie approaches Louis to ask, simply, if he would consider coming to her house to talk and sleep. She told Louis she was lonely, asked him to come to see her at night when the alone-ness was strongest, going to bed by herself after many years of marriage.

They began a friendship, that had the whole town talking. People, human nature being what it is, naturally assumed the worst: creating a scenario where they could envision the two trysting every night. Everyone who knew was convinced these two friends were sexually involved. When in reality, they were just keeping each other company.

Addie's grandson came to spend the summer, when his parents split up, and the child struggled with bad dreams, doubt, confusion over parent's fighting. Addie and Louis both became very fond of the boy, and had a good season of enjoying his company. Louis got him a  rescued dog, and the boy seemed to settle down, adjust when he established a friendship with the dog he named Bonnie.

There were times when I would laugh out loud, while driving, at the antics of the people I came to feel a real affection for. It was a sweet story of a woman who knew she had a problem, and choose to seek a remedy. It did not end as I had hoped: happily ever after. But I guess when you go into a relationship in your seventies, you know from the get-go, there will not be a lot of time for that. You will have to read it, no spoiler here.

when writing a casual note...

Monday, May 8, 2017
...to an acquaintance, I mentioned  my sub. teaching experience today. Which reminded  me of my early days doing that sort of thankless work. When daughters were fairly young, and I was desperate to have funds that I did not have to 'ask for'. I did a good bit of the fill-in work for the school district. Some of the jobs were long term, replacing teachers who were planning to be away from their employment due to medical reasons. (Why pregnancy and childbirth is a medical condition I will never understand.)

In the course of going to many different elementary schools, I met most of the art teachers. And would give my contact info., ask them to call me when they expected to be absent. Back when the school system was willing to replace people that are now considered expendable or optional: music, art, PE teachers. And would pay a substitute to fill in and do their jobs when they were not available.

I had a couple of jobs where I filled positions for art teachers, and even though it was at times frustrating and difficult, back when I thought I wanted to be an art teacher, I did enjoy those extended weeks of working. If I am remembering correctly, the long term jobs were for either nine or twelve weeks, whatever the maximum the district would allow.The art teachers at that time were (and some still are) 'itenerant', meaning they traveled, and during the course of the week would be at two or three different schools. Going to one school for maybe two days a week, then another for two more, then the third school on the fifth day. Hauling materials in the back of your vehicle, and storing your tools and equipment in a closet. Feeling like someone's red-headed step-child.

But I was young, energetic, and probably anxiously hoping to get my foot in the door for the time when I would want to be employed, work full time. As I said, back when I thought I wanted to be a teacher and work in the public school system. I see people now who are retiring after putting in their time, devoting evenings and weekends to study for additional degrees to improve their retirement pay. And will occasionally kick myself, thinking: if you had put in the years, you would be sitting in the sand chair on the beach, watching the waves, with a cooler within reach.

But the things you have to do to get to that point, relazing, with the surf lapping at your toes: not such joy. I expect more and more of the teachers who are capable, with the years of experience needed to manage discipline problems while actually imparting knowledge are just waiting until they can exit.  Counting off the days or weeks until they can do the paperwork and tell the school district where to send their retirement checks.

a remarkably pleasant day...

... but if I had been there in that classroom of five and six year olds by myself, I would be singing a different song. The teacher is one I worked with/for in recent months, in room of about twenty kids. She is, I think, fairly new at the work, but seems to do a great job, has them well in hand. She appears to be organized, capable and good at management/keeping them on task and under control.

I will likely get a couple more days of sub. work before schools are out for summer break after May 26. Even though I think/hope I have fulfilled my obligation of working ten days for the semester. Looking at extra days as 'insurance', plus it will be too easy to spend the little bit of income I will get for doing the occasional fort-holder-down work in the school system.

I am working the rest of this week at my 'real' job.  Though there are only two more weeks before kids are out for summer, think I might get a bit more before the end. Sadly, the school district payroll runs so far behind the actual work calendar,  I know not to count my chickens just yet. It will be nearly time for the teachers to start back in August before the rattling little bit of change I will make gets deposited into my checking.

It was a beautiful sunny, cloudless day. When it was time for the little ones to go out on the playground to run off some steam, I really enjoyed being out in the fresh air and sunshine.  With a little breeze blowing, it was quite pleasant,  and maybe a bit unseasonably cool over the past several days - more like late March or early April than the heat of May. A great day to  be alive.

they are really something...

Sunday, May 7, 2017
...those smart capable Girl Scouts who were at the awards event this afternoon, being praised and feted for their accomplishment. I am so impressed by these young girls who set goals, figure out how to get to where they want to be, and work to achieve their dreams. Some were really young, of middle school age, who planned projects and did some really neat things to improve our community.

The two who were receiving their Gold Awards were amazing. I am sure I was not that motivated at such a young age. The projects they dream up, plan and implement must have a long lasting impact, either locally or globally in order to meet the parameters of the Gold requirements. One of the girls started a club at her high school that would raise awareness of issues related to females, make the students in the school more aware of their gender bias. And then started the same club at another school, to widen the influence and impact of the programs she would share with other students.

The younger girls were doing their projects as a group: things like working with senior citizens to get them exercising, moving to improve health. Collecting bottle caps to accumulate enough to send off and have them made into a bench, then donating two benches to the community.  Seeing a need, then planning, reaching out to the community to find the resources and doing the work to improve scout property. Creating a butterfly garden to provide food, shelter, water while attracting pollinators.

What is so striking about all of the projects applauded today is every one of the girls who devoted her time in an effort to reach the desired outcome was not thinking about herself or the pride she could take in her accomplishment. They have seen a job that needed doing and proceeded to figure out how they could solve the problem. The girls, both junior high aged, and graduating seniors had a desire to make an impact, serve their community. They are, of course, lead and guided by the adults who serve as mentors and models - moms, aunts, family members and friends who see the potential in the sparkling eyes and bright minds of the next generation and gently nudge them into service.

hope you will laugh...

Saturday, May 6, 2017
...when you get to the end. I told this story this afternoon, and found it so funny, it took me a while to get it out. It will go under the heading of 'telling tales on myself'. You may recall a recent story about something either sad or hilarious I was willing to tell on myself: how I had gotten to the point that it was not mortifyingly embarrassing to share foolish behavior. Of greater value to have a story to share, hoping to be entertained by my confessions.

I was supposed to be at work at 5 a.m., so I set my phone alarm to go off at 4 o'clock to insure ample time to be standing at the time clock at five. I had been to a movie ("Hidden Figures") with a friend, so was late getting home, therefore later than usual getting into bed. I startled awake, looked at the clock and thought: 'Oh, @#$%!' Jumped out of bed and into my work clothes. Put on shoes, brushed teeth and headed out the door. I was actually in the carport when I looked at my watch: 12:30 a.m.

Needless to say, I said another bad word. Unlocked the door and went back in the house. It had only been an hour or s since I had put on my pajamas. And woke totally confused, jumped into work wear and dashed out the door. I decided not to undress and put my pj's back on, but thought I would just go back to bed in my clothes, thereby saving time when I got up at 4 a.m.

How clever is that? Maybe.


Thursday, May 4, 2017
...got that last needed sub. teaching job to reach minimum for the semester. Went to a high school today for a 1/2 day assignment that would give me the magic '10'. Sadly I had already agreed to take another one tomorrow. Going to an elementary school to spend the day with a second grade class.

Right now, I am wishing I could give it back. It would be such a delight to have a day in my life when I did not have any where to go: no job, no volunteering, no running up and down the road. A day with nothing on my calendar. But I will go to the second grade tomorrow and try to convince myself it is 'insurance' to be sure I have what is required to be in good standing with the school district. Why it is important, I cannot say.

when driving across south georgia...

Wednesday, May 3, 2017
...yesterday, passing through small towns and looking at stuff that is going on every day in those little burgs, I noticed something interesting. There are usually places that are un-manned, requiring no living person for the business to run smoothly.These odd little set-ups that you can go and put your quarters in the slot and get a bag of ice.

Use it to fill your beer cooler, or get your party started. To take into the woods when you are going hunting, or for a family gathering featuring fried chicken, deviled eggs and iced tea. Any reason you would need more ice than your fridge can produce. A pretty ingenious idea, where the owner comes by ever few days and brings more bags of ice and collects the quarters from the drop box.

They've been around awhile, and apparently serve a purpose in little rural communities: open 'round the clock, with no need for the employee to have bathroom breaks, leave for lunch, or take a nap . The newest thing, that takes the 'ice on demand' idea one step further is something not every one could appreciate. It is similar to the big box, placed on a empty corner lot in a small town, that dispenses deer feed. I assume it would operate in a similar manner to the big portable freezers (about the size of a storage pod) that will give a bag of ice after being fed the proper number of coins. And I guess you would have to provide your own bucket to catch the dried shelled corn when it comes tumbling down the little chute.

Then you take your bucket of corn out to where you have rented hunting rights, and spread it out for the deer to find, making them think the Jumbo China buffet is open. After you give them a free meal several times, they have been conditioned to come back to the same place for more feed. But, there you are, up in your tree stand, ready to sight the innocents in your cross hairs. Prepared with your nice big cooler (full of fresh ice, calmly sitting in the tree, ready to kill and dismember the harmless deer for your pleasure and enjoyment.

after spending most...

Tuesday, May 2, 2017
...of the day in my car, I have concluded: Dorothy was right. Remember in the Wizard of Oz when she gets wants to get back to Kansas (it was all a dream, right?) and she is instructed to say: "There's no place like home". I left home at 7:00 a.m., and got back to town at 6:30 p.m., ready to flop into bed. But if I go to bed at 8:45, it is certain I will be awake at 4, watching the numbers change on the digital clock.

Drove to south GA for a once a year luncheon. I do not see this assortment of locals in between these annual gatherings, though they meet once a month most all year long. I have good intentions, and  write it down on my calendar to remind me. But just do not seem to be able to get there more frequently. They are an agreeable, pleasant bunch, making me sorry when I do see them, that I can't get myself organized enough to be present more often.

I also wanted to go by and see an older couple who were influential in  my life. People I think of often. An older couple who have a daughter my age, folks I consider models, devoted to family, church and community. They are close to the age of my parents, and still plugging along. I guess they have been married for nearly seventy years. Amazing. If they are of that era, you can assume in declining health, but still together, propping each other up.

We had a good visit. I had called yesterday to ask about stopping by after lunch, and was told that the wife is not able to talk or walk, so feel like she must have had a stroke at some point. And I know he has been treated for some form of cancer. But there they are, hanging on. Extremely proud of adult children, and grandchildren who have overcome some profoundly affecting obstacles in their lives.