Family Weekend, Summer Edition.

In July, Family weekend has a different flavor – it has the feel of a Fourth of July family reunion….complete with games and cookout foods.  It provides a family celebration experience that some of the children at my daughter’s residential facility would not otherwise have.

We had a nice time, my daughter and I, working on projects together, playing and chowing down on hotdogs, baked beans and fruit salad.

After lunch, there was a shift.  My daughter, as she does from time to time, laments not having a father who is active in her life.  (For reasons that need to remain private, that is just not possible.) She wants very badly to return to the days of a two parent family with a mom who is a homemaker.  No, she wants very badly to return to her idealized memory’s version of those times.  She was quite sad; tearful.

When we spoke to the therapist in our family session, there was another shift – her mood became upbeat, her run-on conversation, with words spoken very quickly,  was hard to follow.  I think of this state as mania. It may not be the correct description, but it is the closest description that I can offer.

By the end of the day, she had calmed down again. And on the next day, she was downright mellow.

I find her emotional roller coaster exhausting – and I just observe from the outside. I cannot imagine what it feels like from her perspective.

 

Three hundred and eighty-one days.

I have started a countdown to retirement on July 31, 2020.

Now, please don’t think that I dislike my job. I like it very much. My employer has been flexible with my schedule, even allowing my daughter to come to work with me when she was still here at home.  I have tremendous leeway regarding how and when I complete my assignments.

It is just time.  A hip replacement looms in my future. My parents will need more of my time. My daughter will be moving back to the area and need a substantial amount of  time from me, too.

I  have worked out the budget, and it is doable. I have made arrangements to work 10-12 hours a month as the bookkeeper only for my current employer…that is all I need to make the budget work.

Three hundred and eighty-one days – I can’t wait!

 

One final explosion.

My aunt did not learn how to cook until she was well into her 50’s….my grandma never let anyone cook in her kitchen. NEVER. Grandma never taught us how to make her specialty dishes or baked goods.  The kitchen was her domain. Hers alone.

This was a family tradition of sorts…my grandma did not learn to cook before she got married, because her mother never let anyone in the kitchen. The local grocer’s wife told her how to cook the foods she purchased.

My grandma’s sisters were adults on their own when they learned to cook, my mom and aunts were adults when they learned…I’m grateful my mom broke that tradition.

My aunt’s early efforts were questionable at best…but she kept at it and developed a nice repertoire of kid friendly dishes.  I enjoyed many delightful dinners at her apartment, and my kids enjoyed lunches with her here at my house, or at my sister’s,  where she lived.

The explosion in the title was the result of a lemon meringue pie that went rogue.  I do not understand how the pressure built up so greatly in the pie, or why the thing exploded in the oven.  I do know that the clean up took the better part of a Saturday and that my aunt never baked another one.

 

 

The Exploding Pies.

When I worked at summer camp as a teen, we did a lot of things just for fun. From dawn to dark we found a variety of ways to have fun in-between our long work shifts.  The list runs from typical pranks (like short sheeting and underwear up the flag pole) to skinny dipping. (Yes, I went skinny dipping)

One day, a few of the staff decided to hold a special dinner; a special treat for a few of the staff that had been recently been the victims of our pranks.  Some of  us baked little, individual cherry pies in the resident director’s personal kitchen.  They looked delicious as we slid them into the oven to bake. We set the timer and moved to the next item on the dinner prep list.

Suddenly, there was a loud ‘bang’ and a sad announcement from the director’s wife: There would be no pies for dinner.  In fact, there would be no dinner.  It wasn’t just the pies that exploded, it was her stove.

I always felt that Mrs. Director handled that very well; no one was bleeding or burned, and the explosion was an accident, so there was no reason to be upset.  She was calm, truly calm, as clean up commenced  – she set  an example for us: how to behave when things go really badly.    I still remember her calm manner clearly,  45 years later.

 

Burnt Offerings

I had a cooking incident the other day.

I sat down to read the paper while my eggs were boiling, and, well, I forgot they were on the stove.

They were in my line of sight – but I was engrossed in the  newspaper.  Suddenly, I heard a snap, crackle, pop – and smelled the odor.  I shut off the burner, took the pan (doggone it! I liked that pan!) full of over-cooked, smelly eggs and threw it all in the outside trash bin. The eggs were fused to the pan!

I know other people who cook like this frequently. (Right, dear friend?)

Even really good cooks do it occasionally.  My grandma was a great cook, but I remember hearing a story about her exploding hard-boiled eggs. My aunt said she had to scrape grandma’s exploded eggs off the high kitchen ceiling.  I always wondered if that was really true.  Now, I know.

After seeing the hard, really hard, hard-boiled eggs quivering in my pan, with all the water boiled away, I have no doubt that a few more minutes would have had me scraping eggs off the ceiling myself.  They were ready to blow!

That makes me think another exploding food story – involving pies. Yes, plural.

Ah, but that’s a story for another day.

Art appreciation

I have a variety of hand painted, colored or drawn pictures on my walls. Some were done by my friends or my children.  Looking at them makes me smile.

Others were found at thrift stores, painted by unknown, and apparently under appreciated artists.  I rescue those – just like I rescue needlework and doilies. I appreciate the time it takes to produce these items and I think they should be on display where someone appreciates them – and I do appreciate them.

There is one drawing that has a special place in my house…my mom’s uncle drew it. It is a drawing of me, taken from a baby photo, with the words underneath, “her royal highness.”

I don’t remember much about this uncle – I remember a couple of visits when I was a young child, his fabulous car (a green Austin Healey convertible) and the stories my grandma told about him.    But I do appreciate his drawing…he is the reason I rescue others’ artwork.   It’s my own form of art appreciation.

 

 

One summer afternoon…

There are certain events that stand out in the blur of summer memories past.

One particular 4th of July stands out in my memory –

There was a long baseball game being played in the street; a quiet side street.  What made this game stand out from all the others over many summers? My dad was out in the street pitching for both teams – because it was a day off.

All the neighborhood kids were out, including a couple kids whose grandparents lived across the street from where the game was being played.  These older neighbors did not like us playing ball in the street – even though we were very conscientious about staying out of their yard.  We rarely even entered their tree lawn because a telephone pole near the street  in front  of their yard served as third base. Trust me, no one slides into a telephone pole in order to steal a base! We never tore up their grass.

On this day, as they did on most days, these neighbors called the police to report our game.  Yes, they routinely called the police even when their own grandchildren were playing baseball. And the police always came – their son, father of our playmates, was a policeman!

That 4th of July, I remember both the policeman and my dad chuckling when the policeman drove up and warned my dad of the dangers of playing in the street.  All of us kids listened intently. The policeman and my dad shook hands and the patrol car drove away.  No arguing, no hard feelings, no raised voices, no fireworks.   Yes, my dad was playing with the neighborhood kids, but he behaved like a grown man.

Since the sky was dark with a storm approaching,  we called the game and all went home.

 

Memories of Summer

As a young girl I lived in a neighborhood with a lot of children.  There was always someone to play with, always some kind of game in progress.

Up and out the door in the morning, home for lunch, and back out until dinner. Once the dishes were done, out until the streetlights came on.   On rainy days, the action moved into my parents basement  with the same schedule. Day after day.  At the time it seemed like the summers were endless.

Now when I look back at those summers, I have a different perspective. Looking back at those summers, they seem short, the memories are just flashes of the games we played.

Is this change in perspective because I am older? Is it because I appreciate the value of time differently?  Is the change in perspective because I am looking at it from far away, from a different time and place?  I wish I knew.

 

Golf

I have never understood the appeal of golf as a spectator sport.  It is about as exciting as, well, watching Barney the big purple dinosaur.

There were a lot of very fine children’s shows when my kids were little, and I watched them all. But Barney – no, thank you.

That is exactly how I feel about golf.

Golf seems like a dull fantasy, with it’s broadcasts from Hawaii or the warm south, during the worst of winter.  It’s like Barney’s imaginary world, where everyone is nice and sings on key.

The golf announcers speak in hushed tones…. this does NOT increase the excitement for viewers.  I imagine them speaking in Barney’s goofy voice recounting how nice it is to share your toys…and how wonderful  and exciting nap-time can be.

Maybe if I golfed myself I would enjoy it more. Appreciate it more.

Maybe if they dressed up dinosaur suits…or sang…or danced.

 

 

The Soul of a Wolf

I often have the tv on for background noise.  I always have the volume turned down low.  Most of the time I am not paying much attention to the Modern Marvels, Yukon Gold, Bizarre Murders, Columbo or The Closer reruns. Or the commercials. The tv noise just distracts the dogs from barking at the kids who play outside.

Once in a while, though, a commercial will catch my attention.  Sometimes, they  make me laugh, and I am certain this is not the intent of the advertiser.

Dog food that recognizes dogs have “the soul of a wolf,” for instance.  The advertiser has obviously not met my dogs.  “Soul of a cat” and “soul of a bread thief” would more closely describe the two elderly canines at my house.

Medications or dietary supplements that advertise what they treat, followed by a fast-talking stream of side effects that make me cringe.  Treatments for all kinds of personal dysfunctions.  Treatments for acne, old-looking skin, flab, and every other flaw you may or may not have. Apparently no one is satisfied with their health, the way they they function, or  the way they look.

And I don’t care how you choose to present them, I do not believe incontinence products are remarkable or sexy.

Soon, as political commercials take over the airwaves, I’ll be leaving the tv off.  (My dogs will just have to bark at the neighbor kids.)

Political commercials, ugh!

Politicians, I dare you to tell me why I need your product, what amazing results I can expect from YOU.  Come on, sell me, convince me to vote for YOU.  I dare you to go on record; I dare you to make me want your product.  Or at least make me laugh….

Politicians, I don’t need or want your opinion of your competitors, you absolutely will NOT sell me by offering me that. Talking smack about your opposition just confirms that YOU don’t have anything to offer me.  It’s pathetic; cringe-worthy, unsatisfactory, unremarkable   …and not funny at all.

 

Gearing up for another family weekend.

In July, family weekend is a little different. It is more of a picnic, with competitive games, picnic food and family projects.

Last year my daughter and I won a race .(I know you are laughing at the the thought of me ‘running’) It was a race to empty a bucket of marbles, submerged in REALLY COLD water, with your toes.  I was not too good at it, but my daughter! She could pick up 3-4 marbles at a time!

She was so excited that we won. The prize was a card game. We spent our free time playing cards and laughing at the silly games that all of us had played that morning.

Most family weekends involve incredibly hard work by my daughter and me…work with the staff and with the counselor.  Having this family weekend just for fun is a wonderful break.

Will she get to stay with me at the hotel? I don’t know. I never know until the last minute.  I am always hopeful.

What day is it?

Having a day off  – vacation or holiday – disrupts the flow of daily life in my head.

Having celebrated Independence Day on Thursday, I woke up thinking that Friday was Sunday.  Thursday seemed like Saturday…so there was disappointment.  No tantrum, no whining, just disappointment.

Now, it really is Saturday and  I have no trouble adjusting to the down time – it’s the gearing up for work,  or the mistaken idea that I don’t have to work the next day,  that throws me off my game.  Just a little.

Having a day off – vacation day or holiday – does so much more than disrupt the flow of my daughter’s daily life. My daughter never knows what day it is. A calendar doesn’t help her keep track.

I can only imagine the ongoing  frustration of wondering what day is next, what happens next.  When she was home, we kept to a rigid schedule.  ‘Spontaneous’ was never a good word.   My daughter + spontaneous  = spontaneous combustion.

This is why her residence/school is so strictly regimented. The same routine day after day eliminates some of that stress. They do have planned fun activities, special celebrations, but , out of necessity, they generally fall within the rigid schedule of the day.

 

 

 

July

My family celebrates birthdays in batches.  My lovely nieces and I all have summer birthdays, so around July 4, we celebrate together. If my daughter was home, she would be included in this group birthday party, too.

Our birthday celebrations involve  a lot of picnic foods for lunch, an enormous cake and a variety of ice cream choices.  It is a relaxed day – lots of talking, laughing, enjoying each other’s company. Kids get presents for their birthdays, adults get cards…it isn’t about the gifts when you get older, it’s about being with family.

I consider myself very fortunate to have a close family – we live within blocks of each other and we get along. We are a small group,  loyal and kind to each other,  and a little bit crazy. (Just the right amount of crazy to make us fun!)

We celebrate at my parents, or at my sister’s because they have bathrooms on the first floor…funny how important that becomes when you get older.

Lemons

I saw  a meme recently that said, “When life gives you lemons, kill them, crush them, and drink their souls.”

It gives me a clear mental picture of the actions to be taken in order to rebound from trouble. It  claims victory.

It’s also much more aggressive than, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” to me, that just sounds too happy, too sweet, too nice.

I’m sure that my preference says something disturbing about my personality. I’m not sure I want to know what that might be.

 

Waiting

On weekends, when my daughter can call me, I keep my cell phone with me all the time.  Weekends are the only time I am a slave to my cell phone…I constantly advise people,”Call the house.”  It’s the best way to reach me; I have an answering machine and I don’t feel the need to be constantly telephone accessible. In fact, there is a good possibility that if you call or text my cell phone, I simply will not answer…

But my daughter… I wait for her calls.

Her calls give me clues about the successes and failures of her week.

Her calls help us share ideas and jokes, encouraging and happy thoughts.

Her calls help me gauge her mental well-being and stress levels based on the subjects she wants to discuss and the tone of her voice.

Her calls give me the chance to say ‘I love you.’

While I write letters to her, she does not write to me – calling – that is how she prefers to communicate.  It is important to me that we stay close, as close as possible, while she is away…that is the only reason I spend my weekends waiting for my cell phone to ring.

 

 

A Cane

When I was a girl, my grandma had a cane. She never used it to walk. She used it to hook things she dropped, or to whack her dog or one of us.  (She was not mean to the dog or to us, her whack was not hard, it was similar to tap with a rolled up newspaper to gain our attention.)  I don’t think I ever saw the cane in her hand unless she was sitting on her spot on the couch; the far right end of the couch, directly in front of the tv.

She would never have considered going out to the market, church or doctor with a cane.  It was strictly a pride issue.

I have decided to use a cane when I need it. I am too young to park in my spot (the recliner) and stay there. If taking a cane means I can go  places more comfortably, I intend to use it.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I won’t whack someone with it to gain their attention…

Discontinued

I have a knack for liking things that are soon to be discontinued.   Favorite lipstick color – discontinued.  Favorite bra, that fit perfectly – discontinued.  Jeans. Shoes. Scents. Television shows – of course, we call those ‘cancelled.’

Even underwear – I recently found some that were perfect  and bought a dozen  – looking back, I should have known that ‘discontinued’ was coming and bought every available pair!

If I compliment you on something and indicate I have it and/or like it, consider it a warning  – that item is destined to be discontinued.

Spin

I wish I could say that I have chosen every spoken word carefully this week.

Of course, I haven’t. Sometimes my mouth works independently of my brain…running ten steps ahead of my mind. Other times, a word is on the tip of my tongue, but won’t come out – leaving me with hand gestures and crazy facial expressions.

I like to communicate precisely. I like to leave no doubt of my intentions or meaning.

And, frankly, I want to have the right spin on what I have to say. That may sound shifty or deceitful…even political.  But it is true – I want, as much as possible, to have my words perceived in the way I want them to be perceived. I want to be understood.

 

Re-do

I  am considering re-doing my son’s old room. The well-worn wallpaper is blue –  with a denim look and a baseball border.  I have to decide if I will remove the blue paper, or just replace the border.  I like the paper – but it has seen better days.  I’ve been planning this re-do for a very long time.

The items my son left in his room still need to be removed.  After that, carpet removal to expose the hardwood floor, and door removal.  Door removal? That room is destined to be my sewing room, the way it was before my son was born – not a guest room. I have a beaded curtain for the doorway.

I have a treadle sewing machine and an electric one. I have stored a little table in the garage that I think will hold the electric machine quite nicely.  The room is 8×10 and will be full enough with just the two sewing machines and my chair. At least for now.

I plan to use that room’s closet as a linen closet, storing towels, sheets and sewing supplies. And I plan to replace the closet door – bi-fold or a curtain, I haven’t yet decided.

I need to decide what I want on the windows. I imagine lace curtains like the rest of the house…since it was my son’s room, I hadn’t put up lace curtains – I  just installed blinds.

Planning the re-do is helping me leave behind that tired funk I was complaining about yesterday.

Tired

The week is half over and I am tired.  When I say that, I hear Warren Zevon’s voice in my head singing “You say you’re tired, how I hate to hear you say that word…”

This week, though, I am tired. And now I am complaining about it.

I have let the laundry pile up this week, knowing that I will have to pay for that this weekend.

I have gone to bed before 9:30 every night, rising at my usual early time.  I have relaxed in the bathtub, read, petted the dogs and written letters to my daughter and to a friend.  I’ve thought about happier days, made lists of things for which I am grateful and prayed. All of these are activities I usually find refreshing, recharging.

But not this week.  This week, I am just tired.

The unusual level of activity at work, constant stream of people in and out of my office… that has added to the tiredness, but not caused it.  I am in a funk. An annoying tired funk. And I need to snap out of it.

 

 

 

 

Hold the Music

I spent an hour on hold last week, listening to the same 45 second loop of bad music and an monotone robot voice that said, “You are next. Please remain on the line. Calls are answered in the order they are received and all of our operators are working with other callers.” One full hour.

It was an important call, so I waited it out. Music, voice, music, voice…I wondered how many operators were working? 1? 2? 15?

I pictured them chatting with each other, rather than answering the phone…or playing rock paper scissors to see who had to answer my call (the loser, of course).

In all fairness, I am sure that the operators were working very hard at a job that must be thankless.   When I finally got through, the woman who  answered the phone was professional, helpful, and had information at hand that was very valuable to me. She took her time and patiently answered all of my questions.

Who was I calling? Adult Protective Services.  I needed to find some help for an older relative.

Eighteen

Eighteen looks a lot different for my daughter than it did for my son.  My daughter is still a little girl.  Although she does enjoy clothes as gifts, as long as they are both fashionable AND comfortable, she still  longs for toys.  She thinks along the lines of a grade-schooler, not a high-schooler.

At eighteen, she never complains when we hold hands to walk to the car; she likes it.

You cannot compare siblings; I know that kids mature at different rates – but the difference between my son and my daughter at 18 is astounding to me.

I have a very vivid memory of asking my son, at 18,  about his phone bill and of him telling me, “Mom, I’m a grown man; I’ll take of that myself.”

He was a very responsible man long before age 18.  He had to be.

Birthday Lunch

To celebrate my daughter’s birthday, my son and I took her to a nice local restaurant.  This is the kind of restaurant where older adults might go on a first date, or inter-generational families might go to celebrate a family milestone, maybe a wedding rehearsal dinner.

The food was wonderful. The waitress did not hurry us, or hover. It was just right – quiet and calm. The atmosphere enabled a very good, very relaxed visit for the three of us….and it was special enough to make my daughter feel like a princess for the day.

I was so proud that she decided to try something new from the menu….and she really enjoyed it.

We topped off our meals (Actually we took half our dinner home so we could splurge on dessert.) with key lime pie – absolutely delicious.  I think we’ll go back there again, the three of us, when it’s time to celebrate my son’s birthday in three months.  All three of us will be looking forward to that.

 

 

 

Wrestling

Years ago, I attended weekly wrestling matches at the Akron Armory.

Those matches pale in comparison to the action in my tub when I am giving Sweetie a bath.

I always bathe Tex first – he hangs his head and obediently steps into the tub. He stands solemnly, with his tail between his legs, while I soap and rinse him.  He even refrains from shaking his long, thick hair dry, when I tell him, “NO!”

Sweetie – well, after I trick her into coming into the bathroom, I shut the door. I lift her front half, trying to herd her into the tub. She squirms and wiggles, trying to break free.  She stiffens her back half, so I have to wrestle that part of her in, too.

Once in the tub, she scootches forward, away from the running water. I swear she moves forward toe by toe.  Sweetie never growls at me. But if looks could kill….I would not be writing this today.

Once she is done, she  shakes dry – all over me.  She doesn’t have much hair to shake dry, poor thing, but she manages to get me twice as wet as Tex does – no matter how quickly I wrap her in a towel.  Sweetie is the undefeated tub-wresting champ.

Relief

I have arthritis in my hip. Until recently, the pain was better or worse depending on my activity level and the weather. Yes, the weather. I sound like an old granny, don’t I?

My doctor referred me to an orthopedic specialist in the hope a shot of cortisone would give me some relief.  Although the condition of my hip would qualify, I am NOT ready to consider a hip replacement – maybe some time after retirement.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with the shot,  so  a friend kindly  drove me to that appointment.  The shot wasn’t bad…sort of like a hornet sting.  In all honesty, wearing the ugly disposable shorts was more painful than the shot…those baggy navy blue shorts gave me flashbacks to the gym suits I was forced to wear in junior high and high school. Frightening!

The relief has been building for a couple days, and should peak today or tomorrow.  Relief.  I am very grateful to be moving with just a little soreness – around the injection site and somewhere behind the spot where my hip used to hurt quite a lot.  Just soreness, not grinding pain. I am hopeful that this relief will last until insurance will pay for the next shot – in three months.

 

 

Dog Days

My old, lazy dogs have a nice life.  The same breakfast is served promptly every morning…after a long sleep on the floor beside my bed. They never complain about the food – they just wag and eat. Regularly laundered beach towels and blankets are their bedding.  They make their own little nests, and don’t expect me to make their bed.

After breakfast, and a few minutes in their fenced outside area, they watch me get ready for work. Their heads tilt from side to side as I brush my teeth, shower and get dressed. They never comment negatively on my wardrobe choices. They seem to understand that putting on clothes and shoes signals I am headed out. They never demand to know where I am going.

When I am ready to leave, I tell them I will be back. I know that they do NOT understand what I am saying. But I do suspect that the same words, spoken as part of my departure routine every day, are somehow reassuring.

These dogs are creatures of routine.  They snooze while I am gone. Or at least I think they do – there is no evidence that  they  do anything  other than sleep while I am gone. (I am SO thankful for that!) I do keep the bedroom doors shut so they don’t sneak up onto the beds to nap.

When I return the dogs are always happy to see me – whether I have been gone for minutes or hours, they greet me with the same wiggly enthusiasm.

If I could teach them how to run the sweeper, they would be the perfect roommates.

A long day

Sunday, I will take a long drive with my son to see my daughter at a scheduled two-hour visit.

My son and I will have coffee on the way, and take my daughter out for lunch.  At the restaurant, I’ll order something I know she likes for myself, and let her share my food if she prefers it over what she decides to order.  She will, of course, consider her brother’s advice on what to order before making up her mind – she thinks he knows everything. (On those occasions when we have to take lunch in, my son will  pick out two drinks – the drink he chooses for himself is the one my daughter ALWAYS wants to drink – and he  good-naturedly complies.  He would never think of buying two the same – this drink routine has become a family joke.)

We will definitely leave room for a celebratory dessert.

My daughter and son will laugh and talk and I will enjoy watching them interact.  I am very proud of the very kind man my son has  become. I love the way my daughter happily shares with him the things of which she is so fond … and the way he listens and acknowledges her opinions.

My daughter will open her birthday gifts, and my son and I will  share in her excitement.

3+ hours of drive time each way gives me plenty of time to talk with my son.  I truly enjoy his  company. We share a similar sense of humor (so, I guess that means he has an excellent sense of humor) and we will laugh a lot.

I look forward to these long days for the time spent with both of my children.

What is that?

The other day I was trying to identify a word to describe something…a positive thing.

I found myself doing that again – but this time it was NOT a positive thing I wanted to identify.  I had this nagging feeling the other day, an unpleasant feeling, that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.   I hadn’t been able to identify it because it isn’t a feeling I have very often.

It was jealousy. I was shocked when I realized what it was. Truly shocked. I did not see it coming; it crept up on me like a green-eyed wolf and grabbed me by the throat. I was unprepared.

Now that I’ve identified that feeling, I have to figure out how to escape it. I will not let it keep a hold on me.

Drama

I heard a one minute motivational talk about drama this week.  I hate it when I hear something like that and  I recognize that it applies to me.  (Now, please, do not imagine that I am a drama queen!)

This talk was about not getting sucked into other peoples‘ drama; not reacting, and perpetuating the drama; not giving any life, time or acknowledgement to the drama.

I heard this talk on the very day that drama arrived in my office….trying to suck me in. It took a few minutes to recognize what was happening and run the other way.

A friend of mine likes to say, ‘not my circus, not my monkeys.’  Yup, that drama circus will have to find another ringmaster!

Photographic Memory

People take so many photos  – photos on their phones, posted on the internet.

I have a couple of photos of my grandma as a girl, as a young woman. Not dozens or hundreds. Just two.

There are a few more of my mother and father as kids. And more of my sisters and me, but nothing like the number of photos that I have of my children – and I am not even camera-crazy.

When I look at old family  photos, I can remember the times and places, the stories that go with the photos, often told to me by older family members. There are some wild ones!

I wonder, if  constantly posting, constantly phone-photo-taking folk will remember the who-what-and-where of all their photos years from now.

I wonder if those digital photos will even survive.

Ease

I was looking for the right word to describe a feeling today.   Soothe, calm, comfort, quiet?

These verbs were close, but not quite right.  Thinking about how I wanted to describe what I was trying to express, I decided on ‘ease.’

What was I trying to describe?  The effect my dear friend has on me.

I am a low-key person. I am not easily offended. I am calm most of the time…. but there can be an inner stress, an inner anxiousness or unsettled-ness  inside. It isn’t fear or panic; it doesn’t control my day to day function – it is more of a background noise in my brain.  My dear friend has a manner that eases that background noise.

Now, my friend is not always calm, and is rarely quiet.  Yet somehow my friend’s voice and presence  eases my stress.  Now that I’ve identified the word to describe it, I wish I could identify why that is so.

Friendship part 3

While I worry about my daughter’s concept of friendship, I am not always confident in my own.  I may not be as naive as my daughter, as unsuspecting, but I am certainly just as socially awkward.

I work very hard to be the sort of friend, to my own friends, that I would like her to have as a friend. I had to read that sentence twice myself – I know it is convoluted.

In doing that, in going out of my way to be a good friend, a steady friend, a giving friend, I make sure to set boundaries. I have a certain point beyond which I will not allow someone (these would be acquaintances, not close friends) to take advantage of my kindness.  My close friends, a small but very faithful group,  I trust absolutely.

There is no higher compliment I can pay to a friend than this: I trust you.

 

Friendship part 2

While my daughter may not have a good handle on what  friendship is, she is convinced that she does.   She is certain, without a doubt, that she knows who her friends are.

I wish everyone was nice, everyone was kind, everyone had her best interest at heart.  I wish she had better boundaries, better common sense, less blind trust. Wishing doesn’t make it so.

I pray for her… I pray for her to have a good friend and be a good friend.  I look for ways to model good relationships for her within my small circle of friends – close friends and acquaintances.  I protect her when I can.  I comfort her when she feels betrayed.

I wonder if I could help her more if I had a better handle on friendship myself.

Friendship

Friendship  from my daughter’s point of view:

If you like the same music, movies and video games, you are her friend. If you share your toys with her, you are her friend. If you like the same people, or dislike the same people, you are her friend. If you compliment her, you are her friend.   I can safely say, if you are nice to my daughter in any way, she believes you are her friend.

It would not occur to her that you might have an agenda, an evil motive for your niceness. It would not occur to her that some things cannot be taken at face value. She is not wary….she is a black and white thinker….if you are nice to her, you must be her friend.

I find this terrifying.

 

 

Well loved.

Sometimes I wonder if my daughter realizes how much she is loved. Other times, I am sure that she knows.

I was with her at family weekend. We called my parents to say ‘hello’ and to let them sing happy birthday to my daughter.  Her face lit up as she spoke with my parents, she was all smiles as she heard them sing.

At the end of the call, as she always does, my mom gives her 3 kisses. One for each dimple and one for my daughter’s cute little nose.  My daughter holds the phone up to one dimpled cheek, then the other, then up in front of her nose.  Just looking at her, watching her accept the kisses over the phone, I had no doubt.

Today, I’m sure she knows she is well loved.

The Maze

I hate going to doctor appointments in large medical buildings. And to hospitals.  I almost always get lost. Not on the way there; I navigate city streets just fine. I get lost INSIDE the buildings.

Who designs these spaces?

I understand when old buildings are expanded; long winding hallways, multiple elevator banks….

What I don’t understand is why the newer buildings are also built like mazes.

Today,  as I tried to find my doctor’s office, I was thinking it could be a great sci-fi movie: People who  don’t feel well, hopelessly lost, wandering around,  looking for the right door.  The voiceover, “Desperate for relief, they just had to keep searching.”

Maze Malaise, the movie.

Juggling

I would be a really bad juggler.  I can never keep too many things in the air at once.

I was asked this morning, “How are you doing?”

I gave an honest reply – I feel like there are dozens of balls are falling around me from every direction.  I am not juggling; I am trying to decide which  balls I need to catch and which ones I can deflect or even let smash into the ground.  There is no way I can catch them all – and I recognize that.  I need to be selective.

The balls I need to catch and take care of are the ones that involve my faith, my daughter, my parents, my closest friends, my health, my job.  These are the balls that  are most important.

The others? If I can catch the ones that involve friends/acquaintances, or other volunteer opportunities,  school,  I might take care of them, too, but only if my hands aren’t already too full.

The trick is, and I am still trying to figure this part out, how to identify the balls I need to catch while they are still a good distance away, while they are still   in the air where I can catch them.

Technology

I have a very basic internet connection. Basic = cheap and fairly slow. Good enough for my old laptop. (Let’s be clear – I have internet only, no cable. I still use rabbit ears.) 

My internet connection is fast enough for emailing, blogging and facebook.  I do not work from home, beyond emails and phone calls.

My phone is NOT smart. I use it for calls and a rare text message.

When I attend school, I access the internet there with my tiny tablet, but I prefer to read real, paper-paged books.

I use technology when it suits me, but  I do not wish to be  slave to it.   I do not wish to be connected to everyone and everything all the time.

Today the internet is out here at home – on account of the rain. The outage has helped me put technology in perspective. While I use the internet and a computer at work – I do remember what it was like to work without them.

I remember phone books, encyclopedias and writing reports long hand or on a typewriter. I recall carbon paper and mimeograph machines.

I remember bookkeeping in actual journals and ledgers – very neatly written in ink. I miss that process.  Bookkeeping programs and excel spreadsheets are a poor substitute.

I remember when people kept diaries or journaled, instead of blogged, and  while I appreciate the editing capability of word processing  programs…. there is just something  so wonderful about a handwritten letter or document.

 

Fresh Air Nights

I am fortunate to have three large windows in my bedroom. Two of those are sheltered by a large maple tree. When I open them at night, I feel like I am sleeping outdoors.

Add my remote control fan, and I am in fresh-air heaven. Warm sticky nights are easily tolerated with the fan.

Cooler nights, night so cool that the fan is unnecessary – those are the nights I love. 

Rain or clear, the cool , clean air rushes in, under its own breezy power, through the open windows. The cotton sheets reflect the cool, clean comfortableness, and it coaxes me to sleep. On those cool nights, I rarely awaken before morning. And when I do awaken, my body feels rested and ready for the day.

Air conditioning, while providing cool, doesn’t provide that same clean, fresh air satisfaction.  I love fresh air nights.

 

Little Debbie

I am taking a snack to family weekend in celebration of my daughter’s birthday. I was delighted to hear  that there are no allergy issues that require accommodation in our little group.

I was also delighted that Little Debbie snack cakes were an acceptable cupcake alternative.

Why was I delighted? My daughter loves  Debbies, but rarely gets to eat them.

I chose Debbies with sprinkles, pink and blue frosting and filling. They have that unicorn/mermaid, little girl appeal. (We will have real cupcakes or cake when we celebrate with just family – my son, daughter, and I.)  These snack cakes are individually wrapped, and not particularly messy.

In a perfect world, I would bake her a red velvet cake – I would bake it and decorate it to her sprinkly preference – but while there are not allergies to consider at family weekend,  there are germ-phobic kids, kids who would want to touch every cupcake before choosing one , kids who would count the sprinkles to make sure there were the same number on each cupcake,  and parents who want to know every ingredient.

Little Debbie made my life easy this weekend with uniformly frosted, sprinkled, and prepackaged snacks – with the ingredients listed on the box.

There is one thing that bothers me about Debbies: A friend’s voice (a friend with whom I dieted very successfully back in the day – could it be 40 years ago?) saying, “Little Debbies make big Debbies.”  That is true, but only if you eat too many!

 

Retirement

At the end of July, 2020, I intend to retire.  I cannot hear that sentence often enough.

Retirement doesn’t mean I will stop working and sit on my butt. No, I have work to do on my house, I have family to spend more time with – my parents and children.  I plan to continue auditing classes at the Univ. of Akron, spend a ridiculous amount of time at the local library, and I expect to work somewhere 10-12 hours a month, just to keep my budget in good working order.

There are other things I want to do – such as occasionally sleep in. Right now, sleeping in means 6:30am.  I want to sleep until 9:00 – I’m a wild woman, right?  And I want to linger over my second, or third, cup of coffee and read the paper in the morning, instead of after work in the evening.

Thinking that I will be the master of my own time is not realistic, I know. Life happens. Appointments need to be kept. But right now, that is the plan….to spend much of my time as I please, without wasting it.

Just fourteen months – retirement is coming up fast.

 

 

Hug

I am not a hugger.

I wish I was, but I am not.  I cringe when people, people I don’t know that well, decide they are going to hug me.

I gladly hug my kids, my parents, a couple of my closest friends. When I was married, I hugged my husband, and I liked that a lot – but. of course, that is a different kind of hug altogether.

A friend of mine hugs everyone, in a genuinely affectionate way (affectionate – you can read that as ‘not in any way creepy, questionable or inappropriate’). 

Hugging, as a simple expression of affection, is a skill I truly envy.

Well, maybe ‘skill’ is not the right word. ‘Talent?’ ‘Natural ability?’ I don’t know what to call it.  I just know I don’t have it.

Peanut butter blues.

I used to like peanut butter. A lot.

I liked it with jelly, honey, marshmallow fluff, bananas, raisins…even with dill pickles or tuna. I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches grilled in garlic butter – don’t knock it until you try it.

My love of peanut butter could have resulted in a really bad Dr. Seuss-type story: “I would eat it with a fox, in a box, wrapped in socks….” you know the story I mean.

When my son was in grade school, I had an assignment to make peanut butter/tortilla roll-ups as a snack for about 120 kids – this was back in the days before peanut butter allergies made peanut butter a no-no for kids’ snacks.

I worked hard on the snacks, spread the peanut butter, rolled them up neatly, and tied them with fruit leather to look like scrolls. All identical. All smelling of peanut butter.

Peanut butter – It is a smell I have not been able to stand since that long day of snack preparation. I would like to like it again – it’s an easy sandwich to make for lunch – but the smell makes me feel sick.

It’s funny how things you once loved can become detestable. “I would not eat it in the rain, on a bus or on a train. I hate it now, I can’t explain.”

Aging Gracefully

It’s  a lovely expression: Aging gracefully.

Those who know me will tell you this – I don’t do anything gracefully.

I am known for tenacity, reliability, practicality  – you get the idea.

I was a clumsy kid, an awkward teen….for a couple of years, as a young adult, I managed to  walk very nicely in high heels….but those days are gone.

I’m clumsy and awkward again.

Even in sneakers, I manage to trip, misstep and stumble.  (My first reaction is always to look around and check if anyone saw me. Why do I do that!?!)

When I hear people talk about ‘aging gracefully,’ I laugh. We don’t do that here!

The Remote Control Fan

I have a fan in my bedroom window; it blows both in and out, on several settings. This fan makes it possible for me to avoid turning on the air conditioner most of the time.

I inherited this fan from my aunt.  I like window fans, but I wondered, ‘Who needs a remote for a fan?”   It seemed frivolous, a frilly add-on.

Well, the answer is, “Me.” I need a remote control for a fan.

At night, when I wake up because it has cooled considerably, I push the button to turn it off – without getting out of bed.

What I once thought was silly, I now consider genius. Funny how that is.

Sometimes the smallest things have a wonderful impact on our lives.  I  won’t rush to judgment next time some quirky thing I didn’t expect comes my way.

 

Birthdays at Residential

I’ve written about Christmas at residential facilities.  Birthdays are different there, too. Subdued in comparison to the family birthdays celebrated at home. Staff approval is required for all gifts; my daughter’s name has to be on every item.

If my daughter is eligible to go out, my son and I will take her to lunch before she opens her gifts from our family.

If she isn’t eligible to go out, we’ll bring in lunch, including celebratory cupcakes, and watch her open her gifts. NO CANDLES!

What determines eligibility? It’s simple – yet so hard for her: no violent outbursts, safe behavior toward her peers, staff and self.

Unsaid

I saw my very dear friend  for lunch.   Our visit was short but pleasant.

The conversation ranged from good-old-days to a recent funeral. No awkward silences, constant  chatter.

After we went our separate ways, I had time to consider the things that I left unsaid…things I had wanted to say.

There always seems to be more to say than there is time to say it.

Or am I just too cowardly to speak up?

Are my thoughts better left unsaid?

I  don’t know.

I really don’t know.

I do know I have an unrelated song stuck in my head (it got stuck there a couple days before our lunch) – a song I now associate with my friend and my questions about the things I left unsaid.

The lyrics aren’t about that at all, but yet they somehow seem to fit my mood: “Limelight,” Alan Parsons Project:  “I can see the world in a different light Now it’s easy to say Where I went wrong What I did right I can hear the beat of a different drum…”

Loch Ness Monster

Today, while putting away my clean laundry, I had the tv on for background noise. (Quest channel 3-4 with my antenna.) I had no idea there were so many lakes ( in USA, Canada, Iceland, Scotland) with lake-monster legends. I don’t know if there are giant creatures in the lakes. I do know that none of the photos on these shows  clearly showed one.

My mind wandered while the shows (yes, I had that much laundry to fold and put away that I watched several shows) droned on in the background.

This is how my thoughts went:

If there are ‘Nessies,’ would they be good to eat and would they taste like chicken? Wasn’t there a movie about something like that?

Are they fish, amphibians, or reptiles? Mammals, maybe? Oh, I’m glad they are not giant bugs or lobsters! Worms?  Oh, please, not worms!

Are they all related? Cousins, identical cousins…you can lose your mind when cousins are two of a kind. (Yes, I was humming the theme from the Patty Duke Show!)  

Or are species specific to each location? Whoa – multiple sea monster species!

Do they make any sound? There were a lot of ‘sightings’ but no reports of sound.

Do they have rows of teeth like sharks? or fangs like snakes? What about tusks? Tusks would be spectacular.

Do they ever get hit by boats like manatees do? Manatees don’t seem very bright.

Could Nessie beat Godzilla? (I would watch that!) I need to watch “The Waterhorse” again.  And “The Freshman!” – that’s the name of the movie where everything tastes like chicken.

Do they have some remarkable kind of camouflage like squids or chameleons? That would really be cool. Color-changing sea monsters! Ooh!

I imagine they  laugh at us trying to find them…since they are all said to be very large, but few humans ever see them.  They must  be smarter than humans; definitely smarter than manatees.

I remember as a kid watching a kid’s show about Beany and Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent….maybe Cecil lives! I had a Cecil toy; he had disguises, to camouflage himself.…like a green felt, Mr. Potato Head, serpent puppet.  I wonder what happened to that Cecil puppet?

Try reading the list very fast like a long, breathless, run-on sentence – that is the way thoughts sound in my head. My thought processes are far scarier than any “sea monster!”

Posting

I work on my posts on weekend evenings and schedule them a few days, even two weeks, ahead of time. I have time on the weekends (Have you heard, “Another Saturday Night” on the oldies station?) so that’s when I sit down at the computer and type. On weekends when I visit my daughter, and she can’t come to the hotel with me, I have hours to fill by myself.

Sometimes, I will have a list of ideas from which to work. A tiny notebook in my purse, or scraps of paper in my pockets. Other times, there is just a lot going on in my life…frantic paced busy-ness, frustration, friendships and family. (While some think my life is not busy enough, I can assure you it has all the scheduled activity I can handle.) My mind never stops….thinking, reading, planning…only prayer-time is quiet in my head.

Writing has always allowed me to move ideas out of my head (I think sometimes I will run out of space in there!) onto paper. If I write it down, fully developed, I don’t have to remember it.

Whether or not anyone reads it, doesn’t matter (although I do enjoy the comments I receive) because I write for myself. It is a healthy outlet; a good way to process my thoughts about a lot of subjects. It allows me to indulge in extended metaphors and exercise my vocabulary. It is a pleasure taken just for myself.

Sweet Tribute

Sometimes my daughter just blows me away.

I often feel my daughter is so very self-focused, that her world is so terribly small. Then – POW – she hits me with the most thoughtful, most unexpected suggestion.

She asked me “When was Aunt J’s birthday?” “December 8, 1925” I replied.
“You know what we should do on December 8?” she continued. “We should go to Dairy Queen and eat ice cream.”

Aunt J. was the queen of all things sweet and sugary…she never met a candy or dessert she didn’t like.

My daughter went on to explain that her earliest memory of Aunt J. was a trip to Dairy Queen. She told me everything she remembered about that day…it was quite a lot. Like I said, sometimes my daughter just blows me away.

It pleases me so much that she has happy, meaningful memories packed away in her mind somewhere.

Come December 8, you’ll know where to find me – and my daughter, if she’s able to go out.

Eighteen

My daughter will be eighteen soon.  There won’t be any changes; she will remain at school and in the juvenile system until she graduates…hopefully around age nineteen.

Even so, I find it hard to believe that she is eighteen.  It seems that she was so recently a chubby, toothless baby; a sturdy toddler; an agitated grade-schooler….it doesn’t seem possible that eighteen years have gone by!

I remain hopeful for her future, but I no longer try to figure out what that future will look like. There are too many variables, too many factors over which I have no control.

What I do have control over is this: I will always be her mom, and as long as I live, I will do whatever I can to make her life better.

 

Sugar ants

“Sugar ants” – I don’t know if that is the real name of the very tiny black ants that are harassing me, but that is what I call them.

They used to harass my next door neighbor every year – the neighbor whose house was so clean you could have eaten off the floor. (That is a very strange expression, isn’t it?) Since my neighbor’s house was so clean and the ants came through her kitchen on a regular basis, I am not embarrassed by the appearance of these ants in my kitchen.

Last year I tried to poison them in a variety of ways, in the kitchen, outside and in the basement. (I am careful not to poison the dogs or myself.) I  also tried home remedies to repel them – cinnamon, mint, talc…all of these efforts seemed to work short term, but after a few days, a new crew of ants would come to explore again.

There are only a few at a time – criss-crossing the empty counter, looking for sweets.  Occasionally wandering over to the stove  to explore.  I decided last year that I would pay an exterminator if they started harassing me again this year.

I killed two scouts today and put talc out again. If any others venture into my territory, I will call in reinforcements.

Self Reliance

I like to do things myself whenever possible.  I am pretty good at fixing things around the house, but even so, there are jobs that are beyond my skill, strength and agility level. I know my limits; I recently had someone replace some of the black pipe and shut off valves in the basement. Even if I had the know-how, I don’t have the tools.

Simple tasks that require time and patience – those are my specialty: painting, papering, refinishing, small electrical or mechanical repairs, patching/caulking/ glazing,  or replacing the inner workings of my toilet.

I make things as square and level as possible in my old house when I repair them. I try to repair things with an eye to the future – I want the next person who repairs it not to curse my efforts.  (I find myself muttering the previous homeowner’s name every time I run across something that was done poorly, or with mind-blowing short-cuts.)

I know I can call my brother-in-law if I get in a bind, and I have – he is helpful, cheerful and has every tool I might ever need to borrow.  He also is not afraid to go up a ladder – which is something I have given up for safety’s sake.

What set me on this rant today?  I went out to install my new license plates. Not knowing if the screws might be slotted or phillips, I took both screw drivers with me.  The back ones were slotted. Easy peasy.  The front ones – I shook might head and went back in the house for a pair of pliers – I was hoping I could get the fasteners out without a socket set (I don’t have one). Two plates – two different kinds of fasteners.

Success!  It would have really galled me to call for help with such a simple thing.  Self reliance? It’s a pride thing.

About Laundry

Laundry never ends, does it? It is the never-ending story.  I live alone, but even so, work clothes, nighties and linens….it all adds up.

There is very little ironing here; I don’t buy things I know will need ironed. If I pick up something on sale that turns out to need ironing regularly, I give it to one of my sisters.  I wash, dry (only lingerie avoids the dryer) and put it away – rarely on the same day.

I wonder if I would be more on top of the laundry if the washer and dryer were not in the creepy, cob-webbed basement. (Probably not.)

I fantasize about meeting my soulmate, and finding out he is obsessed with doing laundry…a laundry junkie. (If you know a laundry junkie, that is my age or older, send him my way, will you?)

Whenever I have these random thoughts about doing the laundry, I remind myself that I should be grateful that I do not have to go to the laundromat.  Or wash my socks and undies in the sink. Or  wash my clothes against some rocks in a nearby river.

And I remind myself to be thankful that I have plenty of clothing to wear….even if I don’t do the laundry today.

Handyman

As soon as I typed the word ‘handyman,’ I heard James Taylor singing it in my head.

This post is not about the song – it is about having repairmen come into your home.

I live alone. I am never fearful when I make arrangements for someone to come deliver furniture or make repairs. Why am I not afraid? I use good sense.

I deal with reputable companies – companies I have contacted, companies recommended by friends and family, not a telemarketer who solicits my business; not a door to door salesman (Why do people go door to door? I never answer if I’m not expecting someone. Do you?)

When a serviceman   does a good job, he becomes my go-to guy.  My favorite service company emails me a photo of the serviceman, so I know who to expect at my front door.

My front door. If I use a new company, I always make a big deal about having to restrain my dogs….”please make sure the repairman comes to the front door, I have two large dogs that will need to be restrained.” In my head I am thinking, “so they don’t lick the guy to death,” but I never say that aloud.  I make the old doggos sound like Cujo.

 

 

 

The Game of Life

Thinking about games made me think of the Game of Life.

It was very simple…you move forward, you have a job, a place to live, you marry and have a family.  Very simple.

As I had foster kids coming through my home, I reinforced that simple “Game of Life” pattern: “First you finish school, then you get a job.  You get  your own place to live, you get a car.  Then you get married and then you have a baby.”   I repeated this like a lullaby in their little ears. Always in this order.

Why?  I’ve heard that children are more likely to grow up in poverty if their parents are not married.  I know they are likely to earn less, much less,  if they don’t finish school.

I hope my singy-songy lullaby-list stuck in some of their little minds.

Risk

Now, I am not unkind. I would let a little kid beat me at a game.

I will hold back when I play a game with my daughter – it is more important to me that she learn good sportsmanship and the rules of the games we play.

And, I would let a grandma cheat (mine always did) to win.

But if  you are reading this,  and you play euchre or a board game with me – look out.  When it comes to games, I am a wild woman. I play to win and I take ridiculous risks. When I play ‘Monopoly,’ I try hard to bankrupt the other  players and block their acquisitions. When I play ‘Risk,’ I aim to rule the world.

I play games in a way that is the very opposite of how I behave in real-life: In games I am not careful, cautious, or practical.  I take wild, daring (but not un-calculated) risks.  I play to win.  If I behaved like that in real life, I would be really miserable to be around.

 

 

 

Heartbrake.

Yes, I know how to spell ‘heartbreak.’  This post is about something else.  It’s about holding back.

I love my kids without reservation. I love them as fully as I can. I don’t consider whether or not they will break my heart (I’m quite sure they will), I just love them.

I realized last week (yes, just last week) that I was not loving someone else nearly as well.  I  had set a ‘heartbrake’ – a self-protective limit on our relationship.

I’m not saying it is a bad thing to protect myself or set boundaries; but I am  very surprised that I set the limit so automatically, so absent-mindedly.  I was truly unaware that I had set it.

I was pulling on the handbrake and pressing the accelerator at the same time.  That’s no way to move forward – it’s a wreck.  And that’s no way to treat someone for whom you care.

If I can’t move forward, I need to park and walk away.

 

Family Weekend, again (daughter time)

I am always grateful for time with my daughter at family weekend.  I enjoy her company as much as enjoy my son’s company. Or my sister’s, or niece’s.  I enjoy seeing my daughter in person, watching her talk, using her hands and face for additional  expression.  She is so very animated.

The difference with visits with my daughter, compared to those other relatives is this:  With my other relatives, I do not have to be on guard….on guard for sudden mood shifts, anger, or violent outbursts.

The vigilance required of me at these family weekends is exhausting, even when she doesn’t spend the night at the hotel with me.  I don’t know how I managed that constant , high level of vigilance when my daughter was at home. I did  it, but I honestly don’t know how.

I am very grateful to her day-to-day caregivers and the agency  staff at our family weekends.

 

Family Weekend, again (parent session)

This family weekend was a little different.  It was quieter – there were only five kids and five moms – and only one of the kids was a boy – a very quiet boy.

The trainer, an art therapist, that ran the parent session was a first-timer.   One of the moms was new, and didn’t know what to expect. One mom was there for just the second time – the other moms: we are veterans. (When I say ‘mom,’ I am including grandmas, foster moms…we are all ‘mom’ to the children we visit.)

The  subject for the parent session was serious. It was an art project that showed the difference between the face you present to the world and what goes on in your mind.  Five women, who don’t know each other very well, spent 2+ hours working on the project and shared the meaning of their projects with the group when finished.

Introspection is exhausting. Helpful, but exhausting.

 

 

 

Being Tired.

Since I have been enjoying the cd player in my car, I have dug out some Warren Zevon that I haven’t listened to in a while.   I love his lyrics.  The song that has been running around in my head this week is “Never too Late for Love”…

       “You say you’re tired, how I hate to hear you use that word”

I think it’s because I have been so very tired this week. Allergies? Aches? Busy at work? All of that and something else I can’t put my finger on.
I’ll figure it out,  but in the meantime, I’ll be singing along with Warren.

Appreciation

In May, June and July, the trip to my daughter’s will be made in the light – the predawn sky will  be pale, not black, when I leave the house early in the morning. I appreciate the dawn.

I enjoy those drives – where I am not straining to see, not dealing with snow. It is relaxing to make the drive this time of year and  I do some of my best thinking on the road, alone in the car…when I’m not singing, of course.  I appreciate the early morning quiet.

True confession here – I recently realized I am spoiled.  While I loved my little yellow car, the peepmobile, I missed having a fob that allowed me to pop the trunk or unlock the doors by pushing a button.  And cruise control.  I appreciate all the little doo-dads on my new used car that will make the trip more pleasant.

Looking back at my cars over the years – vinyl seats, metal dashboards, rust and rattles, no air conditioning – I realized just how blessed I am to have decent and very comfortable transportation. I appreciate being able to drive, having the means to make the trip.

I’m feeling very grateful today. Very blessed.

 

 

 

 

Vacation

I am very fortunate that my employer allows me to carry over vacation days: I am still using last year’s!

I scheduled some time off for a friend’s visit and class reunion. I plan to schedule a few more days for a trip to Virginia to see a friend that recently moved south. And after that, I will still have a few days from 2019 left over when my 2020 vacation days kick in.

I am looking forward to these scheduled vacation days – catching up with friends, relaxing and turning off my work brain and my phone.

While I work less than 30 hours a week, my hours often stretch over six or seven days a week and work sometimes follows me home. My trips to visit my daughter, while they do take me away from the office over weekends, are NOT relaxing. I come back to work on the Mondays after a visit feeling like I haven’t had a day off at all.

This will be the first time in years that I have used my vacation days for, well, vacation.

I usually end up spending vacation days on personal appointments, business related to my daughter, or snow days. That’s when I realized, when I was so ridiculously excited over last winter’s back to back snow days, that I needed some real vacation, some real time off.  I can’t wait!

The new car.

I have been enjoying driving my new, used car.   The radio sounds great and it has a cd player, which I consider a real treat.  I don’t have many cds, but the ones I have are terrific for car singing. ( I also sing in the house when I do house work – I really can’t certain if my singing or the noise from the sweeper is what scares the dogs.)

I have to say since I had my accident, I have been  very cautious of other drivers. Maybe a little overly cautious. It has toned down  my car choreography and sing-alongs considerably. (I was not singing when I had the accident, by the way.)  When I bought this car I realized the volume controls on the steering wheel would be great for my car singing…but  in these last two weeks I have only once or twice really belted out a tune.

My new boss mentioned he saw me driving the other day.  My first thought was: How wild was the choreography and singing?  He remarked that I was extremely focused and didn’t wave.

Whew! What a relief…I am not at my best form right now; and frankly, I don’t think my new boss is ready to see, or hear,  my car singing.

Sense of Style

There is a lovely volunteer at my office once a week.  She is  quite a lot younger than I am and extremely stylish.  She makes her clothes and they are wonderful.  Baggy overalls, oversized jumpers, paired with stylish jackets and sneakers….she looks like a page in a fashion magazine. Her smile is beautiful and contagious.

I enjoy having her in the office.  (Not just because the style factor goes way up when she is there.)  I enjoy having her in the office because I consider her my friend; I don’t make friends easily.  I am socially awkward.

We talk while we work. We talk about our children, families and pets. I like to hear  about her sewing and knitting projects – she knits much more complicated things than I would ever attempt.

We talk about strange English idioms (she is from Japan)….We were trimming some papers one day – her eyes got very wide when I told her to “eyeball it.”  We have a lot of conversations about those kinds of things.

As a volunteer, she is remarkable. If she can’t come, she often arranges for one of her friends to fill in for her.  She learns quickly and I am always amazed at how fast and accurately she completes the tasks I ask her to do.  Whether I ask her to help run copies, or assemble booklets, or ask her to help me water the plants, she does so cheerfully.  The office is a brighter place when she is there.

I find it amazing that someone can come from halfway around the world and navigate all the things that are different here – not the least of which is the language.

She asked me a couple weeks ago if she could read my blog. I hope she reads it today.

 

 

 

DIG

Growing up, we had a very focused dog. She had one thought, only one, DIG. When she was loose in the yard, she dug holes in the garden, the lawn. She even dug a hole in the cement floor of our garage.

From her pen, she tunneled (she must have watched Hogan’s Heroes) through every obstacle my dad installed around or inside the pen…bricks, fencing and assortment of sheet metal patches added to reinforce the fencing, sunk into the ground to keep her from burrowing through. She ignored all my dad’s attempts to stop her from digging, but she always got caught before she escaped her pen.

If she had been a smart dog, she would have realized that she could have easily jumped over the fence from her perch on top of the dog house….but her focus was only on digging – not on accomplishing a successful escape. She was obsessed, and could never consider any option other than DIG.

I thought about that dog today, when I was trying to figure out the best way to do something ….and found myself stuck on a solution that wasn’t really working for me. I am happy to report I realized my mistake – I gave up on the ‘digging’ and jumped over the fence.

Something in the air, part 2

That nagging  in my brain kept me busy all evening. It isn’t enough to keep me up at night, but it consumed my waking hours.

I realized it wasn’t one thing, but some related items that I needed to wrap up and put behind me.  Now that I have identified the problem(s), I can start working on a solution for each part.

The first part is the easiest:  an apology owed.  I can take care of that one easily. That will definitely help with the “itching” in my brain.

The next part – well, I think the reception of my apology will have to determine what comes next.  In the meantime, I will not overthink it.  Just like my family weekends, I will have to decide to fly by the seat of my pants on this – and have no expectations.

Something in the air, part 1

There is something in the air.  It is making my eyes itch and nose tickle and I do not like it.

I don’t often experience allergy symptoms.

It isn’t as if I feel miserable. It isn’t enough to make me wonder if I am coming down with a cold. It just isn’t quite right.

Annoying?  Nagging? Maybe that’s the word I want.

It reminds me of something else, an idea or feeling that has been floating around in my mind for a while now.

Nagging – yes, that’s what it is.  I can’t quite get a handle on it, but this idea is making my brain itch and tickle and I do not like it.

 

 

My next family weekend – no expectations

I never know, until I arrive at family weekend, if my daughter will be able to stay with me at the local hotel.   I always have plans loosely laid out in my head for both scenarios – staying with me, and not staying with me.

And I have learned to be flexible when it comes to the plans I make in my head. Even if she can stay with me, there is no guarantee that she will be up for my plans, which might include a haircut, or a swim, or a trip to Walmart.

I have worked really hard to avoid any expectations for these weekends – no expectations of breakthroughs in therapy, no expectations as to how my interactions with my daughter will go, no expectations as to how we will spend our time together – no expectations of any kind.

I am a very organized person. I would not start my workday without a to-do list. I would not go grocery shopping without a grocery list. I schedule. I plan ahead. This is how I am. But when it comes to my daughter and family weekends, I have learned to fly by the seat of my pants.  She lacks the ability to be flexible…so I have learned to be flexible enough for both of us.

I am not sorry.

I got a letter from Summit  County Children’s Services today, asking for information to renew my daughter’s adoption subsidy for another year.

I have regular visits with my daughter at her residential facility; I participate in her therapy; I have regular contact with her social workers/case managers, the juvenile court and  and her guardian ad litem.  My daughter has been in the custody of Summit county for over four years.   That is when her adoption subsidy ceased – over four years ago

Let me make this clear: She is still my daughter; it is only the subsidy that has ceased. (I have surrendered custody voluntarily to obtain for her the  services that she needs.) 

Every year I get the same form letter from Summit County Children Services, asking me to provide proof she is in school and still living in my home – and every year it makes me cry.  I wish she could be living here – but it is not possible. And since she is in the custody of the county, the county should be fully aware that she is not living here, shouldn’t they?

Every year I call the county to politely ask them to take me off this particular mailing list, since my daughter is in their custody, in a planned permanent living arrangement (PPLA). The county should be able to take me off of the mailing list, shouldn’t they?

Every year I get the same, lame excuses (computer issues, changes in staff , red tape) and vague assurances that I shouldn’t get the letter next year.  The county should, after four years, be able to figure out a way to correct this issue, shouldn’t they?

When I called  the county today, the fourth year in a row I have made this painful call, I was quite tearful.    The adoption department social worker feel could clearly hear that I was crying, and I could hear that my crying  was making her very uncomfortable.

I am not sorry for making her feel badly.  Not sorry at all.

 

 

Celebrating Mother’s (or Father’s) Day

My family’s Mother’s and Father’s Day celebrations look exactly the same.  We (my sisters and I, and any available grandchildren) take my parents out for breakfast on Saturday morning.   That leaves my sister and I free to celebrate with our own children on Sunday.

We started out taking my mom out on Mother’s Day weekend and my dad out on Father’s Day weekend – but after a year or two we just took both of them out for both holidays.  My parents  do everything together; they’ve been married almost 62 years, and it seems silly to leave anyone at home.

My sisters and I live within blocks of my parents and each other. We see each other very often, lunching, all of us together, at least once a week. We still look forward to getting together to celebrate our parents on their special days.  We  are keenly aware that our friends are not all as fortunate – many of their parents have passed away – and we are grateful to have our wonderful parents with us still.

 

A very long day.

I spent several hours Saturday with my aunt  in the local emergency room.  I did the same the  weekend before. It is exhausting. She calls 911 whenever she gets discomfort in her chest…and chest pain means you end up in the ER.

Is she ill? There is nothing wrong with her heart – although I doubt she is truly convinced.  The hospital believes she may have a reflux issue – that will require some additional follow up investigation.

Will she follow up with her primary care provider, like she was told to? I don’t know.  I will call her and remind her to make the appointment, but I can’t be sure she will really follow through. The last time she made a follow up appointment, she didn’t show – because she wasn’t feeling well – which is precisely why she should have gone to the appointment.

My aunt is  mentally ill.  She struggles, making illogical decisions and ignoring sound advice – even advice from the emergency room staff. They have been very kind and patient with her at the ER, even when she complains it is taking too long to get her test results or too long to be released.

I listened with her as they explained what she should do – and she could repeat it back. If she looked confused, I asked for further explanation.  I struggle, wondering whether or not she has the capability to  schedule and keep her follow up appointments, or even follow the ER staff’s directions.  I know she can make the phone call, but if she feels better Monday, she may just decide not to… you can’t make her schedule or keep an appointment because she is an adult.

I recently had a conversation with a social worker – he expressed that adults who suffer from mental illness or developmental issues have the right to make bad decisions, just like anyone else.  The difference is this:  If I make a bad decision, I have to deal with it myself.  If my aunt makes a bad decision,   our family , her social workers or the paramedics end up working to straighten things out on her behalf…again.

 

 

Nameless

There is a reason my blog posts don’t refer to people by name.  Whether it is my daughter, son, extended family or friends (even enemies, lol) – they all have a right to privacy.

The blog represents my perspective – regarding events, circumstances and people. My perspective. I would feel obligated to share their perspectives, too, if I used names.

Looking back at the word ‘enemies’ makes me chuckle. There are people I don’t trust, people that are not my friends – the word ‘enemies’ is a little harsh…I do not have wicked people out there actively seeking my demise. I find it much more enjoyable to write about loved family and friends, than those in that other category.  I am the sort of person who will tell you to your face if I have a problem with you.

Sometimes, my readers recognize themselves  or a mutual friend in a post. That’s okay – I’m glad they know I was thinking about them.

 

 

A lot to say

When I started my blog, almost half a year ago, I didn’t think I had much to say.  But, once I started letting my thoughts out on paper – well, there doesn’t seem to be any way to stop them. Apparently, I have quite a lot to say!  I am not reflecting on the quality here, just the quantity.

Writing has always been easier for me than talking; there is time to consider and choose my words. As a member of a family of fast-talkers, you have to jump in, ready or not, in order to be heard. When I’m writing, the pace is slower, more thoughtful.

The grammar in my posts is not always correct…but it does reflect the way I speak. When I am writing, I imagine a dear friend listening to me ramble.

If you are reading this, thank you. Thank you for listening. And if you’ve encouraged me to continue to write, THANK YOU; you’ve helped me find my voice.

i write

 

No Call

Whenever my daughter does not call on her regular call day, I wonder about her.

I am always hopeful that she didn’t call because she was happily occupied by activities at her residential facility. Often this is the case. She is, after all, a teenager and it is healthy for her to be with friends, enjoying a movie or a shopping trip. It makes me happy when I hear, eventually, her giggling reports of her recent adventures.

While I always assume the best, I am well aware that sometimes, the reality is not always as happy. She may miss a call because she was having a meltdown, or simply refused to walk over to the phone. Or, worse, was having a physical altercation with her peers. When I find out this has been the case, I am so very grateful that the altercation, meltdown, or uncooperative behavior is taking place there – and not at home where I would have to deal with it directly. Addressing the behavior after the fact  and on the phone is much safer.

 

Sleep

Since I am an early riser, I have developed a habit of taking an afternoon nap.   Well, to say “I’ve developed a habit,” is actually rather grandiose.  The truth is, when I sit down in my recliner to read the paper after my mid-afternoon meal, I fall asleep.  It has never been intentional, it just happens.

I always feel good when I wake up – I rarely dream at naptime – and it apparently does not interfere with my nighttime sleep.

I attribute this to inheriting the ‘good sleep’ gene from my dad.   He sleeps, always has, very well.  My mother, on the other hand, is an insomniac. I am so very grateful that I did not inherit that! Feeling blessed to get my rest.

Now, I’m not saying I never wake up in the middle of the night – I almost always do. But getting back to sleep is rarely an issue.

When I dream at night, the dreams are always very weird, but rarely frightening.  If a dream wakes  me at night, it will cause me to  wonder….”What the heck was that all about?”  “What did I eat last night?” or “There is definitely something wrong with me!”  I decide to think about it in the morning –  that’s all it takes for me to go back to sleep. Come morning, I have a good laugh about the dream and go on with my day.

Once or twice a year I will have a dream that sticks with me; it will be more vivid and feel important, maybe even repeat; it feels like there is a message my sleeping brain wants me to understand.  I may spend a good deal of waking time trying to figure it out…but I won’t lose sleep over it.

 

 

Not too old

I read a friend’s post on facebook this week: ‘You are not too old. It is not too late.’

I like it when I read something that gives me a needed kick in the backside – this week I was feeling very old and much too late.  I was having a mini pity-party in my head… and I HATE  WHEN I DO THAT!

Reading that quote snapped me out of it.  I am not too old – I move a little more slowly, more deliberately,   but I am definitely moving forward.   I refuse to sit and rot.

I really do believe it is never too late – never to late to make things right, to make progress, to be a better person, to love and be loved….but during my pathetic little pity party, I wasn’t living like it.

I declare the pity party over.

 

The Peepmobile’s Replacement

I haven’t decided what to name the small black sedan that replaced the peepmobile. I will take my time and pick a name that appeals to me. It will be something that makes me chuckle; a joke that no one needs to ‘get’ – except for me.

I’ve had cars with names of old movie stars(for instance, Spencer – a grey buick), sci-fi references(the Tardis – a boxy blue vw, and Mad Max – a pontiac that was an epic disaster, even when new), a car named after the time in my life that I owned it (the Mom-mobile – a station wagon named that by my dear friend), and one named after a song(Free Bird – a ’78 thunderbird). One car(a red geo with extremely limited power) was known simply as ‘the dog,’ which is very truly an insult to canines everywhere.

I’ve had some suggestions from friends (of course I have the kind of friends that name their cars, too!) ranging from the Crow(like the graphic novel) to Johnny Cash(who dressed in black).

I just haven’t decided…I have a couple of weeks to pick out a name and a vanity plate. In the meantime – I’m open to suggestions.

Over-thinking

It is a habit I have developed from talking with my daughter; a habit of replaying conversations in my head. Not every conversation…just the ones that are important to me. I feel the need to try to figure out motives, identify body language cues, and decipher any other clues to a meaning that I might have missed.

I have a friend whose visits routinely make me wonder – What does that mean? Why did you do that? Are you stupid?

Yeah, that last one is not very nice; but it is really something I wonder. Not whether my friend has a low IQ – no, I know my friend is smart. What I wonder is whether my friend is trying to engage me in an argument or is just clueless about the effect of the words being exchanged between us.

I always give my friend the benefit of the doubt after I replay the conversations – I choose to decide my friend is just dense rather than unkind or mean. This friendship is important; I won’t abandon it over words.

Phone calls from my daughter

It is difficult to understand my daughter’s conversations on the phone. When I am with her, I can read her body language pretty well. When we are on the phone, I don’t have that advantage – and her conversations are hard to follow.

In person, I can see her looking around distractedly, and see what has caught her attention elsewhere in the room. On the phone, when she loses her train of thought, I can’t tell if it is because she is tired, or if her worker walked into the room with a pizza.

In person, I can hold her hand and make eye contact. I can see where she is looking and work to keep her attention on the subject we are discussing. On the phone, I can only ask, “are you still there?”

I can imagine the hand motions she might make as she speaks, but on the phone, I can’t really see them.  The movement of her hands would  help me understand the mood of her words when I can’t hear the mood in her voice.

Camaraderie

For some reason I have run across the word “camaraderie” four times in the last week. It is not a word I see often, so I am looking for some significance in it’s sudden frequent appearance in my life. If there is something coming my way, I don’t want to miss it because I wasn’t paying attention.

Camaraderie   is defined as a “mutual trust and friendship among people who spend a lot of time together.’
Synonyms are: friendship, comradeship, fellowship, good fellowship, companionship, brotherliness, brotherhood, sisterhood, closeness, affinity, togetherness, solidarity, mutual support.
I’ll let you know when I figure out the significance of this word at this particular time in my life.

 

Early mornings.

I came into work very early this morning to help out with an event. I like being here in the office early, before everyone else brings their noise and activity here. It is peaceful. Calm. Quiet.

I can never have too much quiet.  It is something I didn’t realize until these last few years – just how much I long for quiet.

I’m not opposed to music. I sing a lot. Loudly and badly.

I’m not opposed to tv and radio. I watch and listen more than I should.

I’m not opposed to conversation, and interactions with my co-workers. I like them.

But I covet the quiet. I want it more than music, more than entertainment, more than personal interaction.  When I can sit next to someone, comfortably, without having to talk – THAT, for me,  is the ultimate quiet experience.

 

Lambchop

I remember watching Shari Lewis and Lambchop when I was a girl.  I made my son watch her on public tv when he was a boy. The “song that never ends” was stuck in my head more days than I can count.

I heard an interview with Shari Lewis. She  said she would order lambchops at a restaurant just to see the horror on the waiter’s face. I like her.

Lambchop has a new ‘life’ of sorts at my house. Lambchop is by far the cheapest stuffed toy I can order for my dogs on Chewy.

They love her.  Texas bites at Lambchop’s feet and brings me the squeakers as gifts when he removes them.  Sweetie tears off Lambchop’s face one bit at a time (I worry about that dog). Every time she walks by the doll, she shakes Lambchop to make sure she is dead.  They both pull out stuffing (thankfully they don’t eat it), play tug of war with each other, and toss and chase the faceless, footless carcass around the living room.  Sometimes they sleep with Lambchop’s remains. Lambchop keeps them out of trouble.

It takes months for them to completely destroy a Lambchop. When the toys get too disgusting, I order two more – about six Lambchops are sacrificed here every year.

 

Heat wave.

I believe in spontaneous combustion.  I believe it is possible for a person to burst into flame and vanish. It almost happened here last night.

I am hot all the time. All the time.

I have friends who are always cold. I envy them. They wear really cute sweaters and dressy blouses, even in the summer. Me? I wear as little as possible without being indecent.  I think there were two days last winter that required a coat. My unlined, corduroy jacket is usually sufficient.  I run a fan in my office all year long.

I don’t often have  hot “flashes.” But, when they come, WOW! It almost always happens at night. Throw off the sheet (I never need a blanket), and tear off the nightie! Good thing I live alone!

 

 

 

 

 

Big and little.

My daughter  longs for the life we shared when she was little. Simpler, easier.  In her mind everything was just the way she wanted. She misses Easter dinner, candy, spoiling grandparents, aunts and uncles. (Who wouldn’t?)  But the day to day living here at home is foggy when she remembers it. Maybe selective is a better word.

She did not like bedtime. Or baths. Or any of the necessary activities, like her school or my work, that interrupted whatever she was doing to occupy herself.  I will say that when she was smaller the behavior problems were smaller.  Or, maybe, because she was smaller, I could physically manage her behavior more easily. I could pick her up and deposit her in her crib. Or her room

Now that she is nearly an adult, she wants the freedoms that come with adulthood, without any understanding of the responsibilities that it brings (this is typical teenager behavior, I know.)

The problem is, while she is big (grown up) on the outside , she is still little (maybe 5 or 6) on the inside. She does not have the capacity to manage either the freedoms or the responsibilities that come with adulthood. I’m very grateful for the crew of social workers, teachers,  and aides that help her manage her day to day chores and behavior.  It  makes me hopeful for her future.

While I enjoyed both of my children when they were little, I am so very grateful they are big.

 

Events change us.

Sometimes events (illnesses or tragic losses, for example) change us. They can add a perspective to life that was missing before the event occurred. Is this a good thing? If you decide it is, yes.

The restraints and pain that come from tragedy can force us to be different. Better. More humble. More kind.

Sometimes we don’t recognize, until much later, how an event has transformed us; how positively our lives have been impacted, even through pain.

Sometimes people change without any awareness that they’ve been transformed in a positive way. They don’t embrace hope. They don’t recognize any divine plan or care. They long for who they were before, without any appreciation of the remarkable person they have become through their struggle. Sadly, they don’t see themselves as capable, or worthy. They don’t seem to be able to focus clearly on the present or future; they can only look back at the loss; they cling to the past and miss out on the now.

Friendship, part 2

My friend of the frequent phone calls has tremendous friendship retention.*

But in my life, friendships change or end. Distance, time, changes in circumstance. Sounds like a math story problem, doesn’t it?

Some friendships just fade. They are still there, just not as vivid. These are the friends it is easy to reconnect with when they come to town or call out of the blue, or when you run into them at the grocery store. It’s like finding a comfortable pair of shoes in the back of the closet and discovering they still fit perfectly.

Other friendships end with a bang – an argument or betrayal; fortunately, I haven’t experienced many of those.

The saddest ones are the ones that vanish suddenly like a magician’s trick, into thin air: Makes you suspect the friendship was just a skillful illusion, makes you feel that you’ve been watching from the audience rather than being an active part of the show. When the curtain comes down you are still wondering what happened.

*Quite a tongue twister!

Friendship, part 1

I have a friend who frequently calls to check on me. I don’t see her often; she often is away, but she calls me regularly just to see how I am. If I needed something, she would help me. I would help her, too.

But the calling? I rarely call her – I return her calls if I miss them, of course, but I don’t initiate our contact. My friend is one of those people who has a real talent for staying in touch. Her parties include her neighbors from many years ago, former co-workers, high school friends…..I don’t think she has ever made a friend and lost track of them.

How did she become my friend? She had been a neighbor of my husband’s some years before he and I met. She invited us to card parties and cookouts. After the divorce, she and her husband remained friendly with me. I am grateful for her continued interest and care.

She has an outgoing manner and a knack for dealing with people, but I suspect most of her friendship success stems from the high priority she places on keeping in touch.

Ambulance chasers.

I do not swear. It is a personal conviction.  If I need to put someone in their place, I can do it very well with g-rated words and a glare. You know that expression – “if looks could kill.”

I have some words I use to express displeasure – for example, “bolognahead.”  It is a word my great aunt’s bird used to say – about her husband.  I use it  to describe people who behave stupidly.

Now, today, I have decided on a new non-curse word to exclaim when someone really ticks me off: “ambulance chaser.”  Why? because they are the lowest life-form on the planet,  and they are making my phone ring constantly, after the accident WHERE NO ONE WAS INJURED, (DO YOU HEAR THAT, MEDICAL  CLINICS?) AND AND NO ONE INVOLVED WANTS TO FILE A LAWSUIT (PAY ATTENTION,  LAWYERS!)! If I did need medical attention or legal advice, I would not get it from some fool who trolls police reports!!!

If we argue and I call you “ambulance chaser,” you better run. It means I am really mad, and I want you to go away!

 

 

The Grandma Files, again

One of my fondest memories of my grandma’s house is the big front porch.  Wicker furniture, a swing, vining flowers on the east side, a large bamboo roll-up blind on the west.

The porch floor was painted grey and partially covered by a rug.  The wood floor was tongue and groove, not the deck-style with spaces between that is common now.  It was a great place to play on a hot day. My grandma swept the porch with a broom every morning to make sure no dirt got tracked in the house.  The front porch was an extension of the living room…just  like the back porch was an extension of the kitchen.

Because of the big maple tree on the south side of the house, the front porch was cool on hot days. I can remember stories of my uncle sleeping out there on a hot summer night. No one would do that today.  But when I open all three windows in my bedroom, breezes stirring the curtains, the sound of cars going up the brick street at night…I can imagine exactly what that must have been like.

 

My ‘Cats’

When I visit my daughter, my sister and son take care of my dogs. They are lazy old dogs, and quite frankly, they might as well be cats.

They want fed and petted only when they want. They sleep all day and most of the night. Unlike our first dog, these two, do NOT follow me around like a puppy. They do not beg for attention. They tolerate me because they do not have the thumbs required to open doors or food containers.

They are annoyed when I pack my suitcase, because they have come to realize that the suitcase represents a change in their routine. They fuss when they are confined for the benefit of a dinner guest. If I allowed them access to the bedrooms, they would sleep on the beds or clean laundry in baskets. They steal my yarn balls when I knit.

See? They’re cats!

They do have one important non-feline quality – they bark. And if you heard their deep voices, you would think twice about breaking into my house. That is their one job. Even if they act like cats, they sound like dogs.

Frustration

It took 13 days to get the police report from my recent accident. Things happen. That delay doesn’t frustrate me – it made me slow down and think about what kind of car will replace the peepmobile.  I really needed to take some time to decide what to do.

When the police report became available at 9:00 this morning…my phone started ringing.  Every ambulance chasing lawyer and chiropractor/doctor in town called me this morning; tying up my phone with junk calls while I am waiting for a call from my insurance adjuster – that IS frustrating.

Also frustrating: finding out that the other driver, while insured, does not have a valid license!?!  If you don’t have a license – it means you shouldn’t  drive.  If she had complied with the suspension, the accident wouldn’t have happened.

Even as I am typing,  though, I am thinking of that other, younger driver. Her life is going to much more impacted by this accident than mine will be.  Dealing with the suspended license issue, her own totaled car, and her insurance….her frustrations will be much, much greater than mine.  I pray she has the capacity to handle it and straighten things out for herself.

This latest family weekend.

Another family weekend at my daughter’s residential facility…Activities and crafts together, meals together, long conversations. I enjoy the extended time with my daughter; even when she isn’t eligible to spend the night with me at the hotel.

Why was she ineligible? She threw some desks at someone who irritated her.   Desks! This is why she isn’t at home: Explosive outbursts of dangerous behavior.

She was fine at the visit. A little tearful when we said goodbye.  (I feel that way, too, but I suck it up until I get home – then have a good cry.)

The drive combined with the visits is exhausting, emotionally and physically. I look forward to her move closer to home after graduation. More frequent and shorter visits will be easier for both of us.

 

Another visit

I love my children. I enjoy any time I get to spend with either of them.  Here at the house this evening, packing my bag for an overnight visit with my daughter, I found myself humming a song.  It took me awhile to identify it: Another Ticket by Eric Clapton.

Why can’t it stay like this forever?
Why does it always have to change?
Every time you think you’ve paid the price
Seems you’ve always got to pay it twice
Every time you think you’re near the end
You turn around and find another ticket
These are the lyrics that go with the melody running around in my head.  I’m not sad, resentful of change. I’m just thoughtful this evening.  I wonder if my daughter will be able to spend the night with me at the hotel? I wonder if her behavior has been okay this week? I wonder….and I won’t have any answers until I get to the facility on Saturday.  I’ve learned to be flexible.
Having looked up the lyrics, I remember that they came from the time of a different visit. They remind me of the time I went to pick up my friend at the airport for a  class reunion, and found – surprise – another friend came to town and hoped to stay with me AT MY PARENTS’, without any advance  notice.  My parents were gracious about it; the stay was fine.  I was a lot less flexible then.

School blues

With the loss of the peepmobile, I decided to drop my class at the local university.  I have transportation to work, and to see my daughter.  But  school? I decided the time preparing for school, and driving there, would be better spent looking for a used car.

My sisters’ cars are nice and big.  All the cars other people have offered to loan me are nice and  big.  I am not sure I want to drive someone else’s  nice, big car to school.  Forget that school is downtown….downtown where I had the wreck….I am not sure I want to be responsible for parking a nice, big car in the student lot. And, of course, I can’t parallel park.

I was sorry to drop the class; I learned a lot of information that I wish I had known when I was  young;  young like the rest of the students in the class.  And, just like my class last semester, taking this class has reinforced to me the value of  my life experience. I  usually know the answer to the instructor’s question because I’ve lived it, because I pay attention to what happens around me and I read the newspaper,  not because I memorized the answer from a text book reading assignment.

I won’t sign up for summer classes.  But next fall….I’ll definitely go back.

 

 

Keeping busy

I’ve made a couple quilts over the last few years, and some other enjoyable sewing projects. I like to keep my hands busy. I have quilt-top cut out, but haven’t felt like pinning it together and sewing it up. The 120 year old sewing machine I use, is not portable, so I sew upstairs in the room that was my daughter’s. The dogs like it when I sew. They lay by my feet and watch the treadle move up and down. That is the only time they are allowed in that room. (The boy dog, Tex, has a love of sleeping on human beds, so unsupervised naps in the bedrooms are off limits.)

Since I prefer to spend evenings downstairs, I decided to start knitting again. I have a friend who gives me her leftover yarn from crocheting baby blankets. I don’t have the patience for crochet. When I read those instructions I feel stupid and clumsy.

So I knit hats for the local public school…one year I knitted ninety. The pattern is easy and variable. And when you are making hats, there isn’t the pressure of having two finished products come out the same size, like pairs of mittens or socks. It is relaxing. A hat takes about two hours, start to finish on the circular needles.

I don’t know who invented those circular knitting needles – short needles joined by a flexible nylon cord, but it is genius! No seams, no blocking, continuous knitting, and the project goes so fast!

Fashion

I won’t buy anything that causes me to think, “If I was younger” or “If I was thinner.” I do always buy clothes that fit me now…not my past or future self.

Every once in a while, though, I make a clothing choice that can be filed under the heading: WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?

These choices could be things such as…

uncomfortable shoes – NOT heels, and not uncomfortable for any obvious reason – just uncomfortable.

a blouse in a color that is strange – I have trouble identifying colors anyway – if the clothing is new, I can rely on the color name in the catalog. If the clothing is from the thrift store, I will ask someone who looks fairly put-together, “What color is this?” (I really do ask someone whose own clothing looks good that day!)  The color, though, can still be strange.

dress slacks in a funky synthetic fabric – I do wear fake suede pants in the colder weather. These are actually the least ugly dress slacks that I own. The old-lady slacks I used to wear daily have all been retired. I am shaking my head just thinking about them and their stylish-less bagginess.

Every once in a while, I will pick something out that I’m not sure about and buy it anyway. Oddly enough, some of my favorite clothing choices have come about this way. A vintage silk blouse with french cuffs and cuff links, for instance. I don’t wear it often, but when I do, I feel like a million bucks.  Sometimes it’s worth the gamble.

Used cars.

I have shopped for, and bought, used cars by myself a number of times. It is NOT a pleasure.

The first time, I was 24. My dad was laid up with a bad back, so I went shopping without him. I had a number of car salesmen tell me to come back with my dad. One gave me a half dollar to remember his name “Kennedy.” I used the half dollar to buy a soda, and bought my car somewhere else…from the one salesman that treated me like I was not stupid.

The salesmen routinely asked, “What color car do you want, little girl?” (I  know they were thinking ‘little girl’ even if they didn’t say it.) Now I do have a color preference, but it is very low on the list after fuel efficiency, engine size, maintenance/service records and other such truly useful information. Back then, I worked on my cars; I wanted to know what I was buying!

The salesmen that wait on me now are a little less condescending. Of course, there is the added insult of treating me like I’m elderly. I may be old enough to be his grandma, but he better talk to me like an intelligent and vital adult with a very good credit rating!

And heaven help him if he asks, “What color car do you want, grandma?”…even if the “grandma” is silent.

Seasons

When my kids were little, spring and fall, we would get out the bins and boxes of clothes for the coming season and try them on. (or at least hold them up to see if they were close.) My children were always blessed with a lot of hand me downs from friends and family, so there were never a lot of clothes to purchase. I miss those days of Winnie the Pooh t-shirts and tiny shorts on their chubby, dimple-kneed, legs. Fall overalls and turtlenecks.

Now, I just move my off-season blouses from the guest room closet into my own room’s closet. It’s not necessary to try them on – my size is the same (thankfully) from season to season. There is still some excitement – summer tie-dye and short sleeves come out – long sleeves and jackets get put away. The warm weather items I bought last fall on season-end clearance sales are new, still wearing tags.

I love the change in seasons; the change in weather, the change in clothes.

A lot of decisions.

I have some decisions to make about my own circumstances – not just my daughter’s.

I have some home repairs to prioritize. I have to shop for, and buy, a used car.  I have decisions to make that will affect the people in my life. I am in a season where decisions seem to be required in every area of my life.

I don’t  have a problem making decisions. I am very methodical, very logical, and I have a clear sense of direction; a clear sense of right and wrong.  I know where I want to go, and I know that steps, rather than speed,  will take me there. (I have a picture of a turtle that says something like this hanging outside my bedroom.)

I will take a little time, and over the next few weeks, I will make every decision, carefully and prayerfully.  I will make the best decision that I can in each case. Indecision is not an option.

Now, I know not every decision will play out exactly the way I envision. Some decisions will play out better, some not  quite as well.  Some will play out in ways that I could not begin to imagine – future me will look back and shake her head, or smile.  Just because it doesn’t turn out the way I expect, doesn’t mean I made the wrong choice.

 

 

 

 

 

Decision made.

My recent auto accident helped me finalize a difficult decision.

I had already decided my daughter would have a payee. (A financial guardian that is not me.)

I had to decide whether we would apply for a guardian for her person, to help her manage life when she graduates from high school. There was a long conversation with her DD social worker, and other social workers. We discussed her difficulty with transitions and the pros and cons to me taking that role initially. There are some personal particulars to her case that will need to be handled in 2021. The thought was that, perhaps, I would be better able to make sure this business was handled.

I read the many pages of definitions and information that they gave me to review. My gut was telling me it would be easier to make all the changes at once, rather than to make them piecemeal.

The accident caused me to decide, yes, a guardian is needed as soon as she graduates from high school. My greatest concern is that I would pass away without this protection in place. Asking for the appointment of a guardian up front will eliminate that concern. I don’t need to be her guardian to look out for her best interests, including that business in 2021 – I am her mom. I will not let that guardian rest until that business is handled.

I realize that a guardian could pass away suddenly in an accident, too, but that is a different, lesser kind of loss.

Hold on loosely.

Hold on loosely.

That was the best advice anyone ever gave me. It applies to stuff  you own and plans you make. When I was given this advice, the context was clearly stuff and plans.

When your fists are closed in an attempt to hold on, you can’t accept anything new, you can’t embrace change, and you can’t move forward.

It can apply to people; people that move through your life without a real connection, people that don’t want to be in your life, or who aren’t good for your own mental health.

But it doesn’t apply to faith, hope, or loving family and friends; to those you need to hold on tightly. And I’m not picturing a tight, grabby fist here, I’m picturing a hug.
 

 

 

The end of the road.

I bought the peepmobile, my little yellow car that looked like a marshmallow peep, about a year ago. It wasn’t new, but it was the newest, nicest car I had owned in a very long time. I smiled whenever I opened the garage and saw it there; the yellow upholstery and yellow interior trim made me chuckle. I had never imagined driving such a thing.

Driving to school the other afternoon, the peepmobile was hit and totalled. I just had a couple bruises from the seat belts and airbags, and the other driver and her passengers were not hurt. I am very grateful for that!

The other, at fault, driver had made an illegal left turn into my passenger side door and fender and pushed me into a pole, which damaged the front end and ripped off the bumper.

The other driver was legitimately confused. The intersection is poorly designed, and although there was a “no left turn” sign over her lane, she just didn’t realize there were two lanes of parallel traffic coming up on the left beside her;  Main and Broadway merge. The changes being made all over downtown, all at once, have left many drivers confused!

The policeman indicated there is a traffic camera at the intersection because there are so many accidents at that location. He was able to see the video from the camera on his smartphone immediately. It was clear that her claims that I caused the accident were untrue. He could see her turn left into into my car on his little screen. Thankfully, she was insured.

My sister graciously came down and picked me up; I grabbed my stuff out of the glove box, since I didn’t expect to see the car again. We watched the peepmobile getting ready to be towed away. The officer asked me about the license plate: P33P. I told him I got the vanity plate because the car looked like a giant marshmallow peep (he agreed)….and that it was spelled that way because it was substantially cheaper to have two 3’s than two E’s.

It’s the end of the road for the peepmobile and P33P.

Yellow Flowers

I enjoy the daffodils in my yard. They are transplants from my friend’s yard, by way of my mom’s yard. They were among the plants I received when I moved into my home almost 29 years ago. I like their sunny yellow faces. They seem to glow when the sun hits them in the morning.

My aunt had an intense dislike of another yellow flower – forsythia. Instead of a sign of spring, she considered them the harbinger of doom. When she saw forsythia blooms, she recognized them as a signal that snow and ice were on the way to kill her other spring blossoms.

My son and daughter liked yellow flowers – dandelions.  I cannot tell you how many dandelions I have put in little vases and cups, brought in by my children, because they wanted to bring me flowers. I always told them not to pick the neighbors’ flowers, so they picked ours. Our were mostly dandelions.

I miss the days when they were little and life was that simple. But you can’t go back, only forward.

And that’s okay. Who knows what kind of yellow flowers might be in my future?

The end of patience.

I am a calm person. When I recently sat in a seminar about high conflict parenting, I noticed that some of the suggested methods of defusing a difficult situation were already a part of my repertoire. I’m used to dealing with volatile people without getting sucked into the madness. I almost always will choose a thoughtful response over a knee-jerk reaction.

I’m not saying I never get mad, annoyed, or irritated. I do. But I rarely reach a combustion point. I rarely lose my temper. I don’t like arguing and I don’t feel the need to be “right;” I am able to just walk away…most of the time. Sometimes, though, something is SO important that it is non-negotiable.

I reached a combustion point this week. I reached the end of my patience and peered over the precipice. I did manage to keep control of myself and there was no anger-explosion. I moved away from the person who chased me to the edge until I can interact with him/her calmly. I’m nearly there now…I just need a little more time to fully calm down before I set things straight.

 

 

 

Red buds

The maple trees in the neighborhood are covered in emerging red buds. I love the way they look. The buds will get bigger and bigger until they burst into a big red mess on the sidewalks and driveways. I never mind the mess. I choose to look at the bigger picture:

Red buds mean the trees will be leafing out soon. In a few weeks, I will no longer look out my kitchen windows and see downtown or the city lights. Leaves, flowers, trees. That is all I will see in the early mornings when I cook my coffee.(Yes, I actually cook it on the stove.) I will have a complete change of scenery courtesy of spring.

Red buds mean that the evening sun soon will not shine through my west-facing windows. Instead, the trees will cool my house in their lovely shade. I will leave the upstairs windows open enjoying the sight and sound of the breeze through the lacy branches.

I am ready for the change of seasons. Red buds say it’s here.

Putz

I describe my work around the house as putzing. Lots of little fix-it jobs, mending, moving my pictures and tchotchkes around into different arrangements. Some dusting. Even a little ironing (Yes, friend, there is that one blouse that just needs it.)

I washed the china for an upcoming dinner after moving it carefully down from the upper cupboards. I cleaned my long hairs out of the vacuum cleaner brushes. I hand washed some doilies.

Before I know it, I’ve putzed the day away. No one but me would notice any of the changes I made today, but I do notice them. And I feel like I got something done…something just for me.

The thing about doing those little putzy jobs around the house is – one thing leads to another. Washing the doilies makes me want to launder the curtains, throw the toss pillows into the dryer to dust them. There always seems to be a natural progression to the next task. I like that. It’s very orderly in a natural way. It does make for a long workday though…it’s hard to find the place where you stop thinking, “just one more thing.”

Evening Crazies

My dogs are old and lazy. They eat breakfast and sleep all day. When I come home from work, they want to go out, have a little attention (pats on the head) and another nap. What a life!

About an hour before my bedtime, something changes.

Sweetie makes a “nest” and “sings,” curled up on her chair, grunting and snorting herself to sleep. It is quite a racket and often lasts half an hour.

Texas…for him evening is fetch time. He would play fetch all evening, if I was willing. I throw whatever he brings, a ball, a rubber squeaky toy, rope or the un-stuffed “corpse” of his Lambchop doll…he runs back and forth, bringing me toys to toss into the other room for him to chase. He wags his tale, smiles (I swear he smiles)  and drops the toys at my feet. When he is finally tired, he stretches out and chews his bone.

When I decide to go up to bed, Sweetie will open one eye and watch me leave the room. Tex will follow me upstairs and lay down beside the bed. He rarely stays there all night though; apparently my snoring drives him back downstairs.

 

Maynard

I have a lot of things in my house. Decorative things. Things that have sentimental value to me. Some of the things remind me of family or friends. Seeing these objects often prompts me to pray for the acquaintances, friends or relatives who gave them to me. Sometimes the objects weren’t gifts, but they will still remind me of someone for whom I need to pray.

Not all of the objects have such a serious purpose. Sometimes an object will just tickle me. (I am chuckling, imagining how my daughter would take that sentence literally!)

One of my favorite objects is a “statue” I named “Maynard.” It is a cheap resin copy of Rodin’s Thinker. He sits on the table next to me ‘watching’ tv in the evenings, along with the giant nose that my son bought me to hold my reading glasses. I named the nose “Moss.”

Now, don’t worry, these are not imaginary friends and I have not totally lost my mind. When I am doing housework, I just prefer, “I have to dust Maynard and Moss,” over, “I have to dust my plastic thinker and giant glasses nose.”

In fact, I was sitting here this evening thinking I should make a teeny-tiny name tag, you know, like those stick-on ones that say, “Hello, my name is,” for Maynard. That would really tickle me.

School – People Watching

The people watching at a professional seminar is different from the people watching at my regular college classes. I am NOT the token senior citizen (60+ student) in the class.

There is no one here under 35, and fully one third of the participants are older, much older, than me. About two thirds are women; about 80% are white. They are attorneys, social workers, education professionals.

They have this in common: Fabulous shoes. I bet you thought I was going to say something serious, like “they care about children.”

No, I chose to focus on the footwear.

I cannot remember the last time I was in the presence of that many gorgeous high heels – pumps and boots, and perfectly shined wingtips. Even the sensible shoes were magnificent.

Some of the other clothing choices were suspect…too casual, too tight, too much. But the shoes were perfect.

 

School – Continuing Education

I took a day off work to attend a seminar on High Conflict Parenting. Why? Because I like to learn new things. I spent part of the day looking out the large windows, enjoying the spring weather; listening to the speaker, but allowing my brain to wander a little.

I have a lot going on in my life right now. Work is busy. There are a lot of decisions to be made on behalf of my daughter. There are the usual spring cleaning things to do around the house.

With all the busy-ness it was a pleasure to sit and listen to someone else work. I had no responsibility there. While the topic is serious, my mood is relaxed. Oddly enough, this was like a vacation.

Favorite.

I spent Sunday driving three hours with my son to visit my daughter.

He is without a doubt her favorite person.  Her face just lights up when she sees him. One year at the school’s Santa shop, she bought him a large pencil that said, “#1 Sister,” because she thought that conveyed the sentiment that HE was number one to her!

He is kind and patient with her, and their conversations about movies, anime, video games and such, go right over my head.   I observe the conversation like I am watching a wild, no-rules ping pong game – it makes me smile to see them interact this way. The visits between the two of them are relaxed and happy.

On this visit, my daughter was not able to go out….so we brought in Chinese food.  And drinks: lemonade and iced tea.  It doesn’t matter which drink we choose for her, she will want to try the one he has chosen for himself…and he always gives it to her.  That has become a joke between my son and I; it is the reason we don’t just pick out two drinks the same.

My son and I spent the long drive up and back talking about future plans, our daily lives and music.  This trip, Weezer’s Teal Album played on the way back.  He always has some modern take on my old favorites that he wants me to hear.

It was a really good day.

The VW

My aunt took my sisters and I, sometimes our cousins, and two other adults to church in her VW on Sundays. Now, you couldn’t stack all those people in a car without getting pulled over. Then, it was pretty routine. The best seat was in the back window well.

Trips for ice cream cones with my grandma’s fat dog, long drives in the country. I remember floating across a flooded roadway in that car during a heavy rain. We had a lot of adventures in that car.

When my aunt decided to replace that her  VW, she sold it to my dad.  By that time, the VW  was no longer sea-worthy, the floorboards having rusted away. (They were replaced by pegboard.) Can you imagine driving a car with no real floorboard?

After failing to parallel park my parents’ giant Buick, I passed my driver’s test in the VW.

My dad mounted a big horn under the hood, and when you honked it, it would rattle the fillings in your teeth. The defroster didn’t work, so it was very interesting to drive this car in the winter.

My dad made arrangements to trade in the VW when he ordered his red Chevy Nova. By the time the newer car was ready, the VW was on it’s last leg. I held a plastic gallon jug of gasoline with a drip line (it looked like an IV) out the passenger window while my dad drove it to the dealership.

Aunt J.

My aunt, my mother’s older sister, spent a lot of time with me as a kid and as an adult. She always seemed much older than my mother (she was about 12 years older) and it was like having an extra grandmother. She turned grey early, and during most of her working years, had long hair that she wore in a bun.

For work, she wore suits. At home, she wore house dresses. She made her own clothes, and many of the clothes that my sisters and I wore to school.

The suits she made for herself were very nice. Conservatively styled in neutral colors. Sensible looking expensive shoes. She did not wear jewelry. She had a favorite raincoat that she called her “Columbo” coat.

Her sleeveless house dresses were called “Three-holers.” It was a pattern that she used frequently – it was for a wrap-style housedress with three armholes. No zippers, no buttons – the extra armhole is what kept the dress closed. Once she retired, she preferred denim jumpers and skirts.

She sewed skirts, jumpers, dresses and vests for us. I’m not sure she enjoyed sewing, but when asked by my mom or by us, she always sewed. My mom bought bolts of fabric for our clothes. One year our clothes were red corduroy. The next year they were snakeskin(!) patterned corduroy. Once slacks were allowed, especially jeans, my sisters and I began wearing those for school instead (Yes, there was a time long ago that girls had to wear dresses and skirts to school!)

The things that she sewed for us in junior high and highschool were Sunday dresses, special occasion dresses in velvet and other hard to sew fabrics, long frilly maxi dresses with zippered fancy sleeves. I even remember a jumpsuit or two. She altered our store-bought clothes, too. She used much more complicated patterns for our clothes than she ever did for her own.

Working full-time, coming home and sewing clothes for three girls. Remarkable.

The clothes we remember most (not counting that snakeskin corduroy):
The lined winter coats she hemmed for my sisters – she failed to remove the pins that were inside. They were routinely poked in the backside.

The lovely dress she made for my sister – J. forgot to do the final stitching connecting the bodice to the skirt. Fortunately the basting held until my sister got home.

My flowered purple maxi dress that required yards of expensive extra fabric to correctly match the flowered pattern .

The doll clothes that Santa delivered in fabrics that exactly matched the clothing that J. made for us.

Change is good, if you decide it is.

I do not care to seek change just because I want something different.  I have many memories of bad hairdos, bad clothing-style choices, and even experiments with over-rated food fads to look back on. Change for it’s own sake is NOT always good.

The changes I have chosen to embrace, the changes that I consider ‘good,’ are  brought about by time, or health, or necessity.  They are changes over which I have limited or no control.

My long time boss took another job…I decided I would like the new boss before he was hired.

My dear friend retired south – our friendship is now a long-distance relationship, the change couldn’t be avoided. (She is still my dear friend, she is just far away.)

I’m growing older – this means I do things more slowly. It would be silly to pretend that this change has not occurred or rail against it.

When I bought my most recent car, I went from full-size to sub-compact. It was an economic necessity and I decided I could learn to like the little car from the first test drive. (And I do!)

Not accepting the unavoidable changes that life brings would  make me ungrateful for what I have. It would lead to whining and joylessness.  Why would choose that for myself? Instead, I’ve decided to look for the good in change.  Looking for the good in anything makes it easier to live.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change is hard.

Change is hard.

My daughter cannot tolerate change.  Whether it is stopping one activity and moving to the next one, a new classroom, even new clothes.

She likes  clothes; she has a wonderful sense of style.  But she longs for styles that are from a few years back…when she was a little girl. It’s hard to find what she sees in her mind.

I remember her heartbreak when she had to start buying shoes in the grown up (adult women’s) department.  I remember desperately trying to find her some heavily padded, metallic mint green hightops, with silver hearts…like the ones in the children’s department.

While I, too, long for styles from the past, I can adapt. I can find something to wear that is the next best thing and be satisfied…the jeans I wear now are definitely NOT the stylish jeans of my youth, but as long as they have pockets, I’ve come to embrace their comfort.  The shoes I wear now…well, I’ve come to appreciate comfort there, too.

My daughter cannot look at something new and say, “Wow! this is comfortable!”  Or “Wow, this is  an attractive new style.” She can only look at it and say, “It’s not the same. I want it to  be exactly the way it was.”

I hope someday she will come to see that change can be good. That something new doesn’t have to be exactly the same as something old to be good and satisfying.

 

 

 

New things, 2

I learn new things all the time. How to use social media, how to use new software, how to repair things (thank you, you-tube!). Sometimes, I feel like I have reached capacity; like I cannot learn one more new thing. On those days, as soon as I have reached my brain’s limit, I work on filing, cleaning and doing other fairly mindless tasks. I am fortunate to have a job that lets me manage my own time and work at my own pace.

I like learning new things; it keeps my skills up to date. It gives me confidence that I could find another job if I needed to.

I plan to retire from my current job. I’ll be old enough soon. I have a long list of things to do around the house, in addition to spending more time with my family, that is, my kids and my parents. I will need to work about ten hours a month to make retirement work…and because I’m willing to learn new things, I can do that anywhere.

I hope to learn a lot of new things in retirement, too. Maybe genealogy research. New quilting methods. New repair methods. Maybe, I’ll learn to like cooking! And when I have reached capacity, I’ll take on some mindless tasks here at home.

Case Review – in person

Every six months, the county reviews (the review is called a Semi-annual Administrative Review, or SAR) my daughter’s case  because she is in a planned permanent living arrangement.

A supervisor not connected to her case goes over the records with me, the guardian ad litem, the county developmental disabilities worker, the county children’s board caseworker and her immediate supervisor.  My ex-husband also attends these meetings. The purpose of these meetings is to make sure that no child falls between the cracks; to make sure children get the services they so desperately need.

My daughter and I are fortunate.  My daughter’s case workers are diligent in their efforts on her behalf.  I am sadly aware that not all case workers are as thorough and competent.

The second meeting today did not include my ex-husband. This meeting was not a review, but a future planning meeting.  The issues discussed were guardianship, housing and the supports my daughter will need for a safe and successful future.

This meeting left me with the need to do a lot of studying, investigating. Decisions have to be made soon and I want to make the best possible ones for my daughter.

 

Case Review

I spent over two hours on conference calls* today. Two separate meetings – one with school staff (ETR meeting) and one with the treatment team(psychiatric and dorm staff).  Both calls included a couple of social workers who drove three hours from our county to attend in person. (My daughter has the best social workers!)

Two hours of reviewing IQ test scores and scores regarding the severity of her autism – all with full explanations of each item. Reviews of  mental health diagnoses.  Observations of teachers and staff .  All of this reinforces what I already know about my daughter’s behaviors, deficits and abilities.

Is it helpful?

Having these meetings and the very detailed results in her  records will help determine the services that are available to her as an adult.  Definitely helpful.

Hearing the difficulties that highly trained staff have with my daughter makes me feel like I am not a crazy woman or incompetent mother. Sad, and maybe selfish, but helpful.

Hearing about her good days makes me happy, and miss her very much. Hearing about the bad days makes me very grateful  for her residential school setting. Both helpful, but heartbreaking.

Tomorrow – two more meetings, this time in person, here in our home county.  I trust those meetings will be helpful, too.

 

 

*I don’t attend these meetings in  person because my daughter does not attend the meetings – if I am going to drive the three hours to her school,  I want to spend time with my daughter, not staff!

 

 

 

 

 

 

New things, 1

I like my computer. Having learned to type on a manual typewriter, and having made regular use of carbon paper, I am grateful every day for my word processing program. It tries to correct my spelling and grammar for me….sometimes I let it. The copier at work is a huge improvement over any mimeograph.

I learned to do bookkeeping on a real set of books: oversized journals and ledgers. The computerized bookkeeping program does all the math for you. Easy peasy. But I still confirm the debits and credits with an adding machine.

My phone has the capability to text (even talk to text) and remember phone numbers. I don’t use those features…my brain needs the exercise of remembering the phone numbers of the people I call.

So many of the new electronic gadgets and methods try to eliminate the need to think. I don’t think that is a good thing. My brain gets lazy when I don’t use it.  In a power outage, I can still function…there are a lot of people I know that can’t function without the gadgets…Can’t make change, can’t dial a phone, can’t think.

Decision Time

My daughter has a lot of meetings coming up within a week….well, that is not exactly true. On her behalf,  I have a two phone conferences, two meetings (requiring a vacation day from my work) and a special trip to see her with my son.

These meetings will begin the groundwork for her future plans. She will be included in the planning after her guardian ad litem, social workers and I hash out some basics. We want her to have a say in her future, too. My family has been very blessed to have very dedicated and conscientious social workers – from multiple agencies. They make the long trip to see her every month, and drive up for the meetings  that I attend by phone. (I attend some meetings by phone because I would not be able to see my daughter that day – she is in school. I save my trips for days I can actually see her and spend time with her.)

A group home of some kind is in her future; about the time I retire. The hope is that she will live closer than the current three hour distance that separates us. I’d love to see her more often.

Alternative Weaponry

When I was writing (ranting?) about guns, I mentioned my daughter’s alternative weaponry. (Her hands, feet, nails and teeth were formidable, too.)

There have been a number of interesting weapon choices.

  • Electric Fan
  • Cupholder broken off my car
  • Pen
  • Brick
  • Toy guitar
  • Book

You would be surprised how much damage you can do with these items – damage to people and property.

If any other teen came after me, in my house, with these items – I would have picked up the nearest heavy object and decked them. But this was my daughter – and I did not want to hurt her. So when necessary, I used my weight as a weapon; I tackled her and sat on her until the police arrived.

The policemen(and women) who responded to domestic violence calls at my house were always kind and professional. I could not possible thank them enough for their help during those difficult times.

Guns part 2

There was a shooting on my street last night. Around 11:00pm. The 25 year old victim was driven to the hospital. There haven’t been many details in the news…that kind of local news really doesn’t get much coverage. I slept through the shooting, though it was just a couple doors away. My dogs never barked. There was no sense of immediate danger.

I cannot for the life of me imagine what kind of beef might exist between the shooter and the victim. How does someone decide to use a gun to settle a ‘score?’

What happened to stepping outside and settling things with your fists? or better yet, to argue or debate an issue intelligently? When did it become a standard option to settle differences with gunfire?

My friend told me it is becoming the “wild west” here. That is unacceptable. In almost 30 years, I have never been afraid in this neighborhood – and I am not about to start being afraid now.

Guns part 1

I don’t keep a gun in my house. Am I against guns? No. I believe strongly in the right of law-abiding citizens to bear arms. (My personal choice of gun would be a shotgun with the shortest, legally allowable barrel and it would be only used to protect myself were there to be an intruder inside my home.)

While I am not against guns, I am against stupidity. Having a gun in my home with my daughter around would be have been stupid. (There are actually a lot of alternative ‘weapons’ that my daughter should not be around – but that is a topic for another day.)

I know my daughter. She has irrational thought processes and a hair trigger temper. I decided long ago that it would not be appropriate to have a gun in the house. What she might do in a fit of rage, would haunt her forever. Not to mention, she might kill me.

Now, I know about gun safety; locking up the ammunition away from the gun, trigger locks, gun safes, etc.

There are not enough safety mechanisms to insure that my daughter wouldn’t gain access. I don’t believe that a policeman answering a domestic violence call should have to wonder if the gun pointed at him by an angry teenager is loaded or disabled by a lock. My daughter, should never have even the most remote chance to access any gun.

I don’t like to cook.

I fired up the crock pot to make a beef roast (a teeny, tiny roast!) for dinner. I find I am eating a lot of pork chops (I freeze them individually), meatballs, and soups these days.  Easy to make in quantity and/or freeze in individual servings. Beef roast for two days will be a nice change of pace.

I’ve never really enjoyed cooking – well, some of my kid-friendly recipes, like octopus dogs, were fun to make for my enthusiastic children, but octopus dogs are not exactly a homemade gourmet masterpiece. (In case you don’t know, they are hotdogs cut before boiling so they will look like an octopus when done)

Maybe it is the budgetary constraints that limit cooking creativity here at my house.

Maybe it is the time I’d rather spend doing something else.

Maybe it is the chirping of the smoke detector that criticizes my technique.

I really don’t know why I dislike cooking, I just do.

If I invite you for a meal, and I’ve cooked for you rather than serve take out, just know you should feel very honored.

Ambiguity

I have a sign in my kitchen that says “Ambiguity – what happens in vagueness stays in vagueness.” I put the sign up because I love puns and it made me laugh. But the more I walk past it the more aggravated it makes me….because it’s true.

When I don’t say what I want or need, when I use idioms or use euphemisms to describe things, when I use any vague expression, I am unlikely to get what I want or need.

I need to talk to everyone like I talk to my daughter, who takes everything literally. Leaving vagueness behind. Does that mean I will get everything I want? No…but I won’t be disappointed due to miscommunication.

For instance, I have a friend who can’t say ‘no.’ He will say ‘maybe,’ which is just a way to avoid confrontation. I suffered a lot of frustration until I realized ‘maybe’ was just his vague way of saying ‘no.’ I don’t like having to interpret what someone really means when they are vague – it leads to fear and loathing in vagueness.

To my son, those puns are for you!!!

The Line.

I am very easy going. I rarely get angry. It’s how I am wired. And most of the time that is a very good thing. There really aren’t that many things in life that are worth fighting about. (I will fight to the death to protect my children, of course.)

But sometimes things build up. It will be that last thing, one thing too many, that pushes me over the line. I ‘ll give you an example.

During my divorce, while my stress was high, the phone wire to the house was sagging badly. It was sagging because the phone company had twisted the wire around a tree branch to shorten the line and hold it up high when it was installed. Even I know that was not a good installation. A garbage truck driving down the street took the sagging line out. (It sounded like a truck hit the house!)

It was the worst possible time for me to have to deal with one more thing!

When the repairman came to reattach the wire to the house, I met him at the bottom of his ladder and asked where he planned to attach the wire. He indicated that he was planning to attach the wire near a second story window. Then he asked me why I was carrying a saw. I told him what the old installation looked like and that I planned to cut down any branch he wrapped a wire around. He laughed nervously and got to work.

I had reached my limit and I was ready to fight.  Looking back, I wonder if he thought I was crazy.

 

Family Weekend again.

Another family weekend has come and gone. I enjoy the time with my daughter very much. Our usual activities are games, reading the Barberton Herald, talking, and texting my son.

I always enjoy having her stay overnight with me, but this time she couldn’t stay at the hotel. Her behavior had been a little rough the week before. After our day together, Saturday, I was exhausted, and since I was alone, I enjoyed an extremely early bedtime. The hotel is very nice: clean, comfortable and reasonably quiet. (The pool is sometimes out of order, but since I do not swim, I don’t consider this an inconvenience at all.) The internet connection is speedy, but this time I didn’t even turn on the computer. I just rested.

As much as I enjoy time with my daughter, it is exhausting.  I wonder sometimes how I managed when she was at home. The never-ending, confusing conversations, constant vigilance….maybe I just notice it more since it is only one weekend a month.

I plan to make an extra trip this month. My son is going with me; not overnight, just for the day. He is my daughter’s favorite person. I am smiling as I type this – thinking of how her eyes light up when she sees him.

Mincing words.

As much as I love words, I often find I leave many things unsaid.

Do I tell my children and other family members I love them? of course.

Do I say everything I want to say when I see my friends? probably not.

I tend to be a  listener, an observer, and I often turn the conversation back to the person I am with.  With a couple questions, I can change the subject and just listen. It is easier than holding up my end of the conversation – especially if the subject is touchy.  I’m not talking about politics and religion here. I’m talking about the state of the friendship, interpersonal issues.

It’s not that I don’t have much to say; it’s that I don’t always know what to say, or if it is the right time to say it.  I’m never sure just what my audience, that is the friend I am talking to, will tolerate.

That’s why I write.

When people recognize themselves  or others in my posts, they often contact me; it opens the door to further discussion.

When those folks are on the dense side,  they don’t even realize I am describing them – and I don’t get any push-back.  But that also means there is no resolution and the issues remain in limbo.  It’s a cowardly way to operate, isn’t it?

 

 

Words.

You will notice this blog doesn’t have many photos. That is to preserve my children’s privacy.   People who know my children already know the stories I share. And they know exactly what my children look like.

But, there is another reason: I really like words.

I love to read and see in my mind what the writer is describing.   My mental images are   vivid and  detailed; far more interesting than a photo. My mind fills in the blanks where the descriptions are lacking.

I think that is why I always prefer reading the  book over watching the movie.  (And those movies that I do enjoy are always heavy on dialogue, really good dialogue:  The Moon is BlueAll about Eve. It’s about the words!)

Now, I don’t for a minute think that my words are so wonderfully descriptive that you can see everything I describe exactly as it is. But I do hope my fondness for those people and places comes through…and I hope you use your imagination to fill in the blanks.

 

Dog responses.

My dogs are relaxed and lazy most of the time; they are very nearly cats.  A dog barking nearby will make them sit up and take notice, but they rarely join in. When the wind howls, or thunder roars, they come and sit quietly at my feet. They just look at me for reassurance that all is well.

Music  attracts the dogs’ attention. They like Bob Marley.  They wag in time to the reggae beat and become very mellow.  I’ve been told that the boy dog grew up with reggae; I don’t know why it appeals to the girl dog.  They both hide when I play my Traveling Wilburys cd, aware it signals time for housework and the vacuum cleaner.

Recently, the girl dog has started barking at the tv.  Truth be told, she only recently started barking at all.  What is it on the tv that makes her bark? Trucks, heavy machinery,  roaring cars, airplanes, helicopters.  These are the real-life noises that cause her to bark, too.   It is a bark that clearly expresses annoyance.  Do the machine noises hurt her ears? Or do they remind her of something that happened long ago?

Do the dogs bark when someone comes onto the porch? Yes. Since I started ordering from Chewy, they think every footfall on the porch is bringing them food, treats or toys and they respond with great noisy joy.  This is not a scary “Beware of Dog” noise; this is a the dog equivalent of the way I feel when my Chinese food or pizza arrives.

I like the way that you can see so clearly what they are thinking/feeling by the way they respond; I wish people were more like that.

 

 

Other thoughts on letters.

My daughter is not the only one to whom I send notes or cards. I send notes or cards to others,  to let them know they are thought of fondly or encourage them when they are having a rough time.

I never expect a response; these notes are not part of an ongoing correspondence. No, writing is the best way for me to communicate what I am thinking.

Writing, rather than a telephone call, allows me to weigh my words; to revise my choice of words  and make sure my point is clear.

I have always preferred writing letters.   I have always hated talking on the phone…even as a teenager.  I have a couple friends who will call me to chat; and while I am always happy to hear from them, and very glad they continue to call me, it is unlikely I will initiate a call to them.

Oddly enough, I don’t like texting or messaging very much either….better than a phone call, but not nearly as good as a letter.

And while I never expect to receive a note or letter in response to my own, I am tickled on those rare occasions when I do receive one.

And  how do I feel about in-person conversations?  Well, that’s a topic for another day.

 

 

Writing letters.

I write a lot of letters to my daughter. I made a commitment, when she could no longer be at home, to keep in touch with her as much as possible. The distance of her placements has limited visits, and phone calls are allowed on weekends only. So I write to her.

Now, there is not that much going on in my life, or my family’s life, to fill my two letters a week.  So my letters are not long. They are printed or typed, since it is hard for my daughter to read cursive. (If you saw my handwriting, you would understand why!)

One letter will be more serious, encouraging her to go to school and stay out of trouble. Often this letter will remind her when I will see her next.

The other letter comes ‘from’ the dogs; or at least recounts something silly that they have done.  A silly joke or a picture of her favorite anime or game character might be included in this second letter, too.

I  never get a response – even though I have sent her self-addressed envelopes and cards.  Whether or not she writes back to me is not the point. My letters let my daughter know that I think of her, even though we didn’t talk that day. They make her feel connected to family here;  and I do hear from her staff that she is happy to receive them.

 

 

 

On the value of time.

Working on my future plans has reminded me just how much  value  I place on time.

I have often felt the conviction that I am stingy with my time.

Money, I hold loosely.  Stuff? there is not much that I have that I wouldn’t share with someone who needed or wanted it.

But ask me for time?

I’m not saying I won’t drop everything to help a friend or family member. No, I do that gladly.

But I am often annoyed and impatient with people who, from my perspective, have wasted my time, even though I waste plenty of time myself.

 

Stuck, part 4

While I’ve worked out how my retirement income, expenses, and time might work, I am still trying to figure out whether I want to pursue companionship when I retire.

I have friends, good friends, and I am not lonely.  I enjoy living alone. But I realized a few months ago that I was missing day-to-day domestic life.  When I realized that, no one was more surprised than I was.

I still haven’t decided what I want to do about that.  I wouldn’t say that I am ‘stuck’ on this issue. I would describe it as ‘processing.’ You know, that little circle that goes around and around when your computer is ‘thinking.’

I looked back to see how long ago I wrote about missing domestic life. It was in a post from last December –

Thoughts about being alone.

 

Stuck, part 3

I have been working on getting un-stuck recently. Since my friend asked me about my retirement plans, I haven’t been able to get my future  off my mind. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking, praying, and planning.

What will retirement look like for me?

I  know I will need to work about 10-12 hours a month to stay afloat and finance my house’s fix-it projects.  Most of those projects are low-cost and just require a lot of time and elbow grease.

I really don’t care for travel. (I am always happy to hear about others’ travels, but I truly have no desire to do it.) So, when I retire, I will  happily spend time at home.

My daughter and parents will require more of my time. Retiring will give me the time I want to spend with family.

Then there is school. I love taking classes in the 60+ program. This keeps my brain busy and gets me out of the house.  Being retired will allow me to take early morning classes, rather than evening classes, and allow me to select from a wider variety of subjects.  Did I mention it is FREE?

I have been practicing living at the lower income level I will have at retirement…and am relieved to report it is definitely doable. And working out this plan has made me realize just how much I value time.

I’m no longer feeling ‘stuck’ …at least about retirement.

 

 

Stuck, part 2

I’ve personally experienced a different kind of ‘stuck.’  It’s not  a developmental  issue, like my daughter.

No, this is different.  Maybe ‘oblivious ‘would be a better word for my issue.

For a long time I didn’t realize I was stuck (see, I WAS oblivious)… not moving forward…not making future plans.

One reason for that is that things with my daughter were so unsettled.  I was so focused on her future, that I forgot to think about my own.  When I did make plans for myself, like planning to retire at 62, it was because that plan coincided with plans for my daughter. My 62nd birthday is about when she will graduate from high school and move closer to family.  I want to be more available to her when she moves closer.

But there is another reason for it, as well: I wasn’t sure what I wanted.  I really hadn’t spent any time figuring out what my future would look like! or what I wanted it to look like!

How did I figure this out?  One day, my friend asked me what I planned to do when I retired.  It was then that  I realized I really didn’t have a plan and that I really wasn’t sure what I wanted. My friend has a way of asking questions that really make me think!

 

Stuck

I’ve been writing about some silly subjects in order to avoid writing about this one. I have been mulling it over in my mind for some time and yet I don’t have any insights into how to address it.

It’s about being ‘stuck.’

It’s something that came up at a recent family weekend, during a lecture. I have no doubt it is true. I see it in my daughter and I see it in other women I know. (I am not singling out women; I just don’t have many close friends that are men.)

It’s something that happens with traumatic events (that includes the onset of mental illness or addiction) that causes emotional growth/maturity to get stuck at the age when the traumatic event occurred.

It’s possible  to work past some of it, maybe more easily if you don’t have intellectual or additional developmental issues, to deal with, too.

I don’t know if my daughter will get past that – she is 17 going on 6.  I don’t really know if she has the intellectual capacity – but I do plan to make every effort to help her grow up, to get un-stuck and move forward in every way possible. I want her to be her best possible self.

 

Non-compliments

I realize that the opposite of a compliment is an insult. But sometimes there is something in between; the ‘compliment’ just isn’t very, well, complimentary. Some people call them left-handed compliments…but since they aren’t really very clever, that is an insult to left-handed people everywhere.

I’m not talking about mis-speaking,  when the words coming out of your mouth don’t match the compliment your brain wanted to say. (When people do that you can see they are mortified!)  And I’m not talking about very direct insults – words that are clearly meant to be mean. Non-compliments are passive-agressive comments….you casually act like you are saying something nice, when you are really just being catty.

“Oh, you used  a  new pattern this time, didn’t you?” is not the same as saying, “Nice jacket.”

“Wow, you’re wearing makeup today!” is the non-compliment version of “You look especially nice today!”

“I like that  so much  better than the one you had on yesterday!”  is a non-compliment, too.

“I would never have thought of wearing those two (or in my case, three or four) colors together!”

“You like the way you wear your hair, don’t you?” I could go on and on.

My grandma, and I imagine most grandmas, used to say, “If you can’t say any anything nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.”

The non-compliment version would be, “If you aren’t sure you have something nice to say – (implying  you are just not that smart) – keep your thoughts to yourself.” The kicker is, I would never say that to someone – because it isn’t nice!”

 

Texting

I don’t drink, so I don’t have to worry about sending drunken texts.  But I am all thumbs (not in a good way) when it comes to texting/messaging.

My son has had some good laughs over my texts. I learned the hard way that I MUST wear my glasses when I text…even if the message is sent from the larger screen and keyboard of my computer. And because I often text folks whose first language is not English, I spell out every word and use proper grammar and punctuation.

Recently I sent a message to the wrong friend. A valentine message. It was not mushy or romantic, so there was no harm. I just felt a little stupid…and the recipient was very polite, but a little confused.

It could have been a disaster!

Maybe the lesson I learned from this experience is one I should have learned in kindergarten – if you can’t share it with everyone, don’t share it at all. Of course, if I do send you a confusing message, wishing you love, just accept it – I’m sure you deserve it.

 

Some thoughts about – Shoes

I love shoes. Over the years I have had some fabulous, and fabulously uncomfortable, shoes. But it’s the red ones that own my heart.

The red shoe-lust started when I was just a girl. My aunt took me shopping for shoes. Milton’s Shoe Box on Copley Road. I must have been 8 or 9 years old. These shoes were to be my Sunday dress up shoes. Sunday shoes were black patent in fall and winter, and white patent in spring, in time for  Easter,  and summer.

On this very memorable shopping trip, however, I spied a pair of candy-apple red shoes in the window. I was in love. My aunt knew my mom would not be happy with red shoes and make me return them – so my aunt let me wear them home so that they would be non-returnable.

I wore those shoes whenever I could – with any color dress. I wore them until my feet could no longer squeeze into them.

I’ve had many pairs of red shoes since then, different styles, different heel heights and levels of comfort. All quite expensive and resoled several times to extend their lives.

Even now, I occasionally wear red shoes – of course , now they are sneakers, machine washable, very comfortable and practical. But I can tell you if I am wearing these, my mind is on that first pair of red shoes, and it puts a spring in my step. One of my friends always notices and says, “you’re wearing your happy shoes today!” She’s right!

 

 

 

 

Some thoughts about – Hair

Over the years, I have made some interesting hair decisions. You wouldn’t know it to look at me now, with my shoulder length hair, uncolored and pinned back purely for convenience, but I was in my younger days, a slave to hair fashion.

I have died my brown hair red, frosted it, had uni-perms, spiral perms, even a home perm(only one of those – I learned my lesson.)  I have have had very short hair, waist length hair, bangs, layered and feathered styles….and before I was old enough to choose: an assortment of Pixie cuts.

I have used hot rollers, curling irons, an iron for crimping and straightening, blow dryers and gallons of hair spray. I braided (I braided it a lot back in the seventies – lol) rolled, pin-curled and even rag-rolled my then, thick wavy hair.

I spent a lot of time trying to make it look ‘just right .’ I cringe to think of the time spent (it took hours to roll up my perms) to change my look.

Looking back at these lists, it is amazing to me that I still have hair. Post menopause my hair is thinner (not too thin) and extremely straight, still mostly brown, but starting to grey. I’ve become comfortable with it – and that I wish I would have done sooner.

 

 

 

Impact

Actions can have huge impact.

I’m not talking accidents or crime – although a few years back, when we had a break-in, it caused us to get our first dog… So those teen-aged thieves certainly did have an impact on us!

I was thinking about more positive impacts. For instance:

The lovely nurse at the doctor’s office that made my daughter feel so at ease. This was at a time when everything was a struggle, and this nurse erased her fears and made her feel important.

The young man, a host at Cracker Barrel, who treats our family so kindly. He always fusses over my parents, especially my dad. It makes my dad so visibly happy!

The young man who plows our parking lot at work, and goes out of his way to salt where I park and walk. He checks the parking lot even when no events are scheduled – just for me. I appreciate it so much!

The dear friend who sent me chicken when I was going through a divorce. Yes, I said chicken. It was the most practical expression of sympathy and support I have ever experienced! And it provided delicious meals for days.

These actions have a huge impact; they make life better. These individuals, their actions, make me consider… what kind of impact have I had  today?

Meds

Recently, at Family Weekend, we had a guest speaker (a prescriber) to parents about meds.

It was interesting to hear how meds are developed, and how they are used off label.

It was frightening to hear about the possible side effects  and interactions they can have.

It was educational to hear how long it might take for a new med to work. (My daughter thinks meds work as soon as you swallow them – like in the commercials.)

It was horrifying to hear that generics can contain only 70% of the active compound and still be considered “equivalent.” And it was equally horrifying to hear how many of the drugs are manufactured in China and India – far from the eyes of American inspectors.

My daughter’s meds have been helpful. There is no doubt about that. (We have had one or two over the years that were the opposite of helpful! I keep a ‘blacklist.’)

I am grateful that she is covered by medicaid and that  I don’t have to figure out how to pay for her meds.

I am  aware that  vigilance is necessary: Self monitoring for side effects and other issues is beyond her current capability, so I do need to look out for her.

I am thankful that she has been compliant in taking her meds, so far. As she becomes an adult – I realize that could change.  Since I try not to borrow future trouble, I will  choose to remain hopeful that as she matures, she will see the value in her med routine. And as that routine changes, I hope she will learn from watching me, what questions to ask the doctor or pharmacist – and ask them.

 

 

You can’t get there from here.

I live in a neighborhood dissected by a steep hill, an interstate and railroad tracks. Roads stop, start and sometimes turn into stairs, or a foot path. There is no designation assigned to the streets, like north or west, to clarify the sections.  Sometimes the closest  route by car is several blocks or a half mile away.   Locals will tell you the nearest cross-street and hope you can find them. In a local neighborhood, this  might be considered charming.

However, construction projects in our town have produced a whole new level of “You can’t get there from here.”

I can see the local university, downtown, from my kitchen…up here on the steep hill. Getting to school is easy – the route may change a little, day-to-day, due to highway construction, but I can get there,  as long as I pay attention to which lanes are open today.

Coming home is another story.  I can see the hill where I live…..but the trick is figuring out how to get there.  Damage to a nearby bridge (this accident could not be anticipated) has disrupted traffic.  Emergency repairs to the interstate (now, think about  just how big a chuckhole must be to require immediate, lane-closing repairs) eliminated my usual route.  The downtown roads that are open during their construction have constant lane changes – and driving through them at night is no pleasure.

I do make it home, eventually, but my 5 minute drive often takes 15 or 20.

Now, I don’t dispute that some of the traffic changes and new construction are necessary.  But I do think it might be better to finish one project before starting the next one (if it’s not an emergency).  And maybe the newly popular* ‘right-sizing’  or lane reducing of major roads, like our local business district boulevard, could wait until all surrounding road projects are completed.

*popular with the “experts”, not drivers

 

Bubblegum Pink

I like bold colors, but I am NOT a fan of pink. When my daughter was little, she loved green – a lot of her clothes were still pink (have you ever shopped for little girls? Pink is inevitable.) but green was her favorite.

As she grew, she decided she would like her room to be pink. It had been beige, with lines of ivy and a border of little cottages, gender neutral, and very calm, since it had started out as a guest room for adults.

We looked for wall paper that she might like at the discount shop. We found a border that she loved…pink ballet shoes, with ‘photos’ of grown up ballerinas in pink tutus…ballerinas that were a variety of shades of brown. It was perfect. Even with a ballerina theme, I figured she would enjoy the border for a long time.

Once she found the border, she was done shopping. She left it to me to find the pink paper for the rest of the room and the pink paint for the ceiling. She was very serious about the shade of pink he wanted – bubblegum pink. I found paper with several shades of irregular pink boxes that had a companion paper of bubblegum pink with circles and cartoon-ish daisies. I bought both and I asked the salesman to match paint to a pale shade of pink in the paper. I painted the ceiling and trim and got to work hanging paper.

My daughter’s room is as large as my own, and it took the better part of a week to get the room done, working evenings and all day Saturday. My daughter loved it and it suited her. It was bright and happy …and despite what you might think from my descriptions of the wallpaper….it looked really nice. Really pink, but really nice.

She enjoyed it very much for a couple years before she destroyed it. She put huge holes in the plaster, right down to the lath when she lost her temper.

When I had the holes repaired – the gentleman who repaired my walls, wouldn’t charge me, God bless him – I decided the pink had to go. Even then, I knew it was unlikely that my daughter would be coming home to stay. I removed the pink wallpaper and painted over the pink ceiling and trim. I took up the carpet and finished the hardwood floor.

The room is pale blue and beige,  once again gender neutral and very,  very calm.

Time change

Daylight Savings Time comes March 10.  I love the lighter evenings….but I hate the time change.

Why? In the fall I spend weeks trying to convince my dogs that it is NOT time to get up. I pull the covers over my head, but they grunt and snort and try to find me with their cold wet noses until I give up, get up and feed them, an hour earlier than  needed.

In the spring, I spend weeks trying to convince them it IS time to get up. Pulling the 50# mutts out of bed and herding them outside is not how I like to start my day.

I remember when my son came home all excited from school one fall day and informed me that starting that Sunday, days would have 25 hours per day.  He had misunderstood his teacher  and he thought all the days would be longer, not just the one day when we changed the clocks.

It really doesn’t matter how many hours are  in the day – there are never enough, yet I still manage to fritter many of them away.

Maybe I’m the one who needs schooled on time – not the dogs.

 

 

 

From the Grandma Files, again

Grandma was a cheater. Checkers, cards; at any game we asked her to play, she cheated.  I wondered for a while if it was being hard of hearing, not understanding the rules…..but no. She just cheated.

And not just at games.  When she read books to us, she skipped sentences, paragraphs and pages, whatever she could get away with.

When my sisters were little, they got even.  She would read to them at nap time, and thinking they were asleep, she would tip-toe down the stairs.  They would wait until she went all the way down the stairs before they yelled very loudly, in sing-song voices, “Grandma, we’re not sleeping.’  She would climb up the stairs and read again.

She was an interesting babysitter.  Lots of polka music on the stereo: Frankie Yankovic.

When we did something we weren’t supposed to, (while she was napping) she covered for us.  I remember my sisters trying to catch the guppies in the 10 gallon fish tank with a comb. Why a comb? Who knows.  They were quite successful, though. Grandma scooped up the poor little guys, after they stopped flopping and put them back in the tank. We were adults before my mother found out why her fish raising efforts were unsuccessful!

 

Family Weekends

Monthly, I attend family weekends with my daughter.  The facility where she resides reserves hotel rooms and provides meals so families can spend time together.

I always go. Sometimes my daughter’s behavior is excellent in the weeks before, and she gets to spend the night at the hotel with me. Many times, her behavior is not good, and she comes over to the daytime events, returning to the facility overnight. Either way, we get to spend hours and hours together and I love that.

Something always puzzles me at the weekends, however.

The rules are very rigid; this is necessary for the young people who reside at the facility.  This is a group who sees things black and white; something is, or isn’t acceptable.  For this group there is no in between – they understand the rules and  most try hard to follow them. This part is not puzzling.

What puzzles me are the family members (just a few) who come, and ignore the rules. We are not talking criminal activity here. We are talking about things like: No cellphone use during programming, or no outside food or drink during programming.

I do follow the rules – I want my daughter to see that  I think it is important. I want her to know that she is capable of following rules….of doing what is expected.   I want her to understand that life is easier when you do what you are supposed to do.  And I don’t want the distraction of a cell phone during the precious time I have with her; she is far more  important than the latest music video, text message or tweet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My other grandma.

Whenever I write about my grandma – I usually mean my mom’s mom. We saw her very often.

Although my dad’s mom lived just as close, we didn’t see her very much. She was busy raising my cousins.  She would have been about my age when my uncle died. I cannot imagine taking in three rambunctious boys at 60.

My memories of her are limited. I remember her wearing boy’s tennis shoes (sneaker options for women were different than they are now).  At the time I wondered why. Now I know: her feet hurt.

As she aged, her hair remained mostly brown, and I don’t think she colored it – because mine is the same way.  In fact, when I look in the mirror, I often wonder at how my grandma’s face is looking back at me.

She was an accomplished knitter and crocheter. I still have the little blue afghan she made for me.  While I knit ( dishcloths and hats only – I  cannot for the life of me get pairs of things, like socks or mittens,  to come out the same size), I have never been very good at deciphering the instructions for crochet.

The colors she picked for some of her projects were outrageously bright; something else we have in common. I wonder if she had some color blindness, too?