Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Basements, Losing Sitters, and HOME

Sunday was another grey day. Dad keeps opening the basement door for the poor little kitty to have its heart desire and go down into the basement. He and I keep discussing this, and he always agrees that the cat doesn't need to go into the basement - it's unfinished, it's dusty, there was a big leak and mold is a problem in one corner, and the cat doesn't need to get into the mold. There's a break in the wall for pipes, and it leads to a dirt floor. He always agrees the cat doesn't need to get into that stuff. And he still opens the door every time that stupid cat mews at it.

About 1:00 a.m. Dad woke up. I heard him pouring the urinal out. Then he talked to the cat, told it where to get on the bed. About 1:15 he was up again in the bathroom. I have no clue what was going on there, but he went back to bed quickly. He would have been highly offended if I'd gotten up to check on him.

One of my sitters came over to visit today, and she had wonderful news for herself and bad news for me. She's moving to Oklahoma. This is, IMHO, an absolutely wonderful thing for her. For my Dad, it's the pits. This is the sitter that he adores. She can relate to him and handle him like no other. She is fond of him and will take the time to do things for him that he will accept from her and no other.

Fortunately, I still have my back-up sitter, and there are nieces and other sisters in the family, so it doesn't seem that sitters will be a problem. This is the best thing in my life right now. These gals all work together, and it's an extended family. This only child with cousins far-flung and none close that can help appreciates that more than anyone can know. I might just fall apart if my sitter network disappeared.

At this point in time, whenever I read articles from people preaching about everyone should only have one child to help solve the world's problem, I'd like to pick their probably young butts up and plop them down in the middle of my situation and say, "Go for it."

For a few days, I'm home in Memphis with Max for a few days, and it's like heaven on earth.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


At lunch time Saturday we had a thunder storm roll in. I had delivered Dad's lunch to him in his den. About two minutes later we had a big crash-boom thunder clap, and Dad got up from his lunch to come into the living room and ask what on earth that was. I told him thunder.  He said, "Is that what that was?"  He hadn't known what that "horrible noise" was.

It seems both Mother and Dad are having problems processing auditory input. Neither can identify what they're hearing, and it upsets them. I guess this must be another step in the aging process. I should probably read up on it so as to better know what to expect. Wah. I don't wanna. I don't want to have to read a book. A list is more to my liking. On one page.

Mom got up on her own Saturday. She came wandering into the living room around 11:00 a.m.  She wasn't grumpy or moving badly.  She sat in front of the TV watching TCM all day. It must be Omar Shariff spotlight - Dr. Zhivago Friday and Lawrence of Arabia Saturday.

I got my tomato seeds planted Saturday and showed them to Dad. He really wasn't interested at all. That was surprising. He asked if I was going to put them in the yard. I told him I wanted to put them next to the patio. He said, "You know, I did that one year." Uh, yes, that's what we did last year. I wish I could have two patches - one he could kill with over-watering and one I could actually get tomatoes from. That would just be too much to do I think.

Friday, March 25, 2011

We got eggs. Free-range eggs. We drove up the road to the sitter's house and picked them up for a bit of trip today. Here's a pic of Dad holding the eggs.

As the day progresses, I think of things I want to blog and never get them written down. Our house just got wireless high-speed internet today! Hoorah! Now I can get a post started and add to it during the day.

Dad seems to be getting foggier and more childish and staying that way for longer periods of time. It used to be moments or short periods of time. Now it's more unusual for him to be high functioning than not. Yesterday he stayed in his pajamas until nearly noon, and he's never done that since I've been coming here. 

When he did decide to dress, I was in the bathroom dressing myself. I had my hands on the hem of my sleeping shirt getting ready to swoop it up over my head when I heard a knock and in he comes. "Hello," he says, "I just need to...." I just sighed and walked out. It took him about 20 minutes to comb his hair and put his teeth in.

Late in the evening he came into the kitchen talking about that thing out there quit cooking. He was confused about the smoking that I had done the day before. He thought I was still cooking and that the smoker went off. For the most I'm much better about not looking at him like he's nuts, but just easily saying things like, "Oh, no, that was yesterday."

Mother got up by herself at 9:30 a.m. this morning. She came cripping into the living room saying, "What on earth is going on around here?"  She does this a lot in the morning now. I was sitting on the sofa with my laptop, and the TV was on. Seems anything she hears in the morning is a strange noise, and she thinks something is happening. From her demeanor, she thinks whatever it is is bad or unusual.

I fixed sloppy joes for them for supper. A half bun each topped with mix, a handful of fritos and fruit salad. I hated doing it, but I ordered Mom to eat her meat. I boiled the hamburger like for taco meat, so it was as fine as could be. I told her if she couldn't eat that, I'd just start blending her meat like baby food. She giggled and ate it.

It's Not What You Say

As sayings do, one came across the internet the other day that struck a chord with me. In effect: The exact words spoken may be forgotten, but the way they make you feel never will be. 

That one's taken a long time for me to learn, and I've never seen or heard it put so succinctly. In not wanting to be misunderstood, or to be thought stupid, in sheer disbelief, or whatever, I think many times I totally overlooked how my words made the listener feel. 

Max and I often joke about my tactlessness, and we've said I earned it honestly from my dad. I wonder if my tactlessness isn't sheer blindness in not realizing how my words will make the listener feel. Maybe they're the same thing. 

Eggs and Rain Go Away

We have a source for free-range eggs. Yay! Turns out it was at my fingertips, and I didn't even know. One of our sitters has chickens. Now I have the kind of eggs I want for my own households.

Rain. Rain. Rain.  I'm getting sick of the grey sky. Blech. Usually I feel stir crazy in February. This year it's been March. We've been getting maybe 1 day out of 5 with a little bit of sunshine. Two days ago, it was 70, sunny and beautiful. It lasted 12 hours. Yesterday and today it's 40 and rainy.

In the kitchen, I've got a string with a bunch of grapes on it hanging from the cabinet. I'm going to see if I can turn them into raisins. Some of the  people on my spinning list were talking about making their own raisins and how much better they were than industrially made raisins. Doh! I never even thought of making raisins.

I googled and was stunned at how easy it is. Don't know why other than a serious brain fart. We had grapes last week, and not all were eaten. When I returned they were all wrinkly in the bowl, but they weren't rotting. Mmm, says I. So I ran a thread through the bunch and hung them up.  Since it's not summer or hot or dry, success isn't guaranteed.  We'll see what happens.

Pondering home designs, I love one thing my dad has done. He took one whole bedroom and turned it into a bathroom, dressing room and laundry room. Although I wish I had a bedroom, I absolutely love the large multipurpose room. There are two doors in it, so when dressing one is always a bit paranoid - different door knobs would solve that problem. But there's plenty of room to shake out pants, fold sheets and do laundry stuff. There's room for a rack to hang clothes on after taking them out of the dryer. There's room to set up an ironing board if one gets a wild hair and actually wants to iron something. There's plenty of room to dry off after a shower without banging into a wall, cracking a knee on the toilet, or hitting one's head on the sink if you drop the towel.

He put a nice long vanity/cabinet along one wall with the sink in it. There's a huge mirror over it with lights on either side. It's fantastic for fixing your hair and doing makeup. Whenever Max & I get our own place again, I want one of these.

Recipe: Yogurt 1 - High Temp

This is the short version for 2 quarts of yogurt made at higher temps.

~1/2 gallon milk
1 cup buttermilk
2 tblsp powdered milk optional

Add powdered milk now for thicker yogurt.
Heat milk to 185°.
Cool to 130°.
Add buttermilk, stir well.
Pour into 2 mason jars and screw lids on.
Set jars in a small cooler.
Add 120°F water to just below lids.
Don't disturb for 3 hours.

I always just leave it overnight and pull the jars out in the morning. If you can get up and get it together to do it in the morning, you can take it out whenever it's set.

Some people are very conscientious about sterility in making yogurt. They boil their jars,  lids and utensils.  Perhaps this is people posting on the internet scared of litigation. Since my yogurt never hangs around more than a couple of weeks, and my kitchen is kept clean, I make sure my jars, lids, utensils, and pans are very clean. I don't boil them for yogurt. Anyone reading this should follow their conscience.

Here's how I do it, with pictures no less <grin>.

Fill a quart jar to about 1/2 inch below the neck with milk. If I have time, I let the milk get to room temp. I use whole milk. If you're on a lowfat kick, 2% works fine. I have never ever used skim milk so don't have a clue what that produces. Don't care to learn.

Dump this into a pan. For just 1 quart of yogurt use this amount of milk and 1/2 cup buttermilk. For 2 quarts, do this twice and use 1 cup of buttermilk.

Using medium heat, heat the milk to 185°F. Don't use high heat, or you will burn your milk. What I have learned is that the milk begins to froth. Soon you think it's ready and take it's temp. It's not hot enough. You stir and think it's ready. You take it's temp. It's not. The next time you think it's ready, it either is or is very close. I use a thermometer. I'm still working on that intuiting thing. This is what it looks like when ready, but the pic isn't the greatest.

Take the milk off the stove and cool it to 130°F. I put the pan in a bowl or the sink filled with cool water. Keep an eye on it. Stir the milk to make the cooling go more quickly. When the milk is 130°F, stir in the buttermilk. Stir it thoroughly.

Pour the milk into the two jars and cap with lids. Place these jars in your cooler. Add enough water at 120°F to come up to just below the lids of the jars. Close the cooler and just walk away.

This method is supposed to produce yogurt more quickly. Since I always do mine at night, frankly, I don't know. I simply do it in the evening and pull the jars in the morning when I get up.

This is the yogurt I use for yogurt and cucumber soup and for making cracker spread.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Smoking, Burning and Hand Care

Today was pretty much an okay day with only a small amount of angst. I used the new smoker for the first time. Dad started a fire without anyone's knowledge. It rained, thankfully. Mother opened her musical birthday card and music box countless times tonight. TCM has earned it's advertising rate in this home today. Dad filled the cat food bowl to the rim all day.

We got our normal start this morning. However, I slept a bit later than I like and meds didn't get given until 10:30 a.m. rather than normal 9:30 a.m. Dad both slept and putzed a bit today. I got the smoker started at 12:30 p.m. after giving him lunch. He sat out and watched it smoke for about an hour, then got tired and wandered around.

Smoke-Cured Bacon

Yay!  I finally smoked my own homemade bacon. Lemme tell ya, the smell of the house is still making my mouth water.

With a little trepidation, we got a propane smoker  - would it have the same great taste? You betcha. So far it beats the charcoal smoker hands down. It's going to take a bit of learning to get used to it. It gets a lot hotter a lot quicker than the charcoal smoker.

Not having to buy and deal with charcoal makes me a cleaner, happier camper. "How about that smoky taste," you ask? Fantastic. Half of a small bag of wood chips in the drawer above the burner supplies more than enough smoke for a short smoke. This one took 2.75 hours, but it should have gone slower than it did.  I used the whole bag, but it wasn't necessary.

On first use, I'm tickled pink. I'll post later results of different meats as I use and learn it.

Today I smoked two slabs of bacon and a chicken. Both turned out darker than I would have wished, but as I said, it got far hotter far quicker than I expected.  The taste, however, is incredible. My dad even ate two pieces of chicken at one meal, and he's not done that since I've been staying with him.

This is a pic of the bacon. On the bottom is one with a lot of pepper on it. On the top is a simple salt cure. The pepper cure is now frozen for Max. Dad and I will rip into the salt cure tomorrow. Hopefully, I'll learn how to slow the process down and get less black on the next batch.

If one looks into the economy of making bacon, it can't be beat. The cost of the pork belly was $21.90 for 20 pounds. The cost of the salt was likely $ .35. The cost of the propane was perhaps $1.50, if that. The whole tank was $14.00. The cost of the wood chips was, I think, $1.89.  That works out to about  $1.28 per pound. The cost of the smoker was $139.00. That will pay for itself in a short time.

I foresee smoked ribs, roasts, and salmon in our future. I'm not one much for the salmon, but we've a friend we take some to every now and then. I foresee a big fish going on a rack the next time we go to Oak Ridge. Does tuna smoke well?  I've not heard much about it. There's nothing better for Thanksgiving than a smoked turkey. If I find a local hunter that gets a deer this fall, I'll be glad to trade smoking privileges for a roast. Hint, hint, locals!

Now I'm wondering if I can control it enough to do jerky. It might be difficult. It would certainly take a day without wind. Today was terribly windy, and once when I turned it to the low setting, it simply went out. Something to look into, mmmm.

Well, one can tire of too much smoked meat in too short a period. This new smoker with its ease of use and economy means we'll be using it more frequently than the twice a year we used to use the charcoal smoker anyway.

Propane, Pain, and Not Cleaning

It's Tuesday, and I'm back at my parents'.  Things are normal for Wonderland. My dad is still overfilling the cat-food bowl. He's still forgetting that you fed him lunch and at 3:30 claiming he's not eaten all day. The sitters let me know that over the weekend my mother discovered her dresser and was amazed at the stuff in it.

Dad and I drove to the next town over and got propane today. I have to admit that my dad floors me. On a drive, he regales you with how stupid and worthless everyone is in half the houses along the way.  I sit there driving in amazement wondering just what attributes he has that place him so far above everyone. Oh, wait, I know - he can do everything perfect and knows everything. That's it.

On the other hand, I think that lately his own dementia is finally softening him somewhat. In the last few weeks, he's exhibited a sense of humor, of which I would have sworn he did not have one ounce. I think his failing ability to find the words for common things is humbling him somewhat. Sometimes when he gets on a rambling kick about inane things, he'll stop and pause, and I think he dimly realizes he's being inane and is taken aback at himself.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Staggering - Who's Your Daddy

It was a pretty staggering day. Mother woke me up wandering by the sofa this morning. I watched her go into the den. She didn't come out. So I followed her and asked her what was going on. She looked disoriented and disturbed. She told me the heater was on and the TV was, too, and they shouldn't be. So I told her Daddy was up and was getting the newspaper. He came slowly into the room, and she said she just hadn't known what was going on and didn't think anyone was in the house. Staggering.

So I guided her back to her bedroom and got her medicine. For some reason she decided she wanted to get up and come back into the living room. The rest of the morning flew by with me getting their breakfasts, teeth glued in, etc.

In a bit I asked Dad if he wanted to go to the local hardware store with me. Sure he did. On the way he let me know he wanted to eat lunch at that place where those girls work. This meant a small restaurant where his sitters have day jobs. We drove on to the hardware store, which, lo and behold, was locked and shuttered with a sign saying, "Closed. Thanks for your patronage."

We went on to the restaurant where we discovered the bank had foreclosed on the hardware store. Staggering. I had wondered how long it would last when the Home Depot, quickly followed by a Lowes, came to Paducah, 25 miles away.

While we were eating, one of the sitters came out with a piece of chicken and some baked apples all packed to go for my Mom.  How very thoughtful!  Mom loved the apples later.

Also while we were eating, Dad told me (again) about where his father died in 1935. His dad was the undertaker/funeral director. He was killed by an automobile while he was driving the horse-drawn hearse. Then Dad asked me when I was born, and I told him 1953.

He said, "I just don't get it."

Huh? "What don't you get?"

"Well," he replied looking at me, "So who's your daddy?"

Staggering. Really staggering.

Lost Teeth, Hair, Pizza and Assembly

My dad lost his teeth last night. You can't conceive of the sinking feeling that hits the pit of your stomach when you realize your parent doesn't have their teeth and they have no idea where they are.

Because Mom stays up so late at night, and I, like her, am a nightowl, I'm not the sharpest knife in the block or the earliest bird on the limb when my Dad is up. Since he's quit trying to fry bacon and make his breakfast, I don't go into panic mode anymore. I leave a banana out on the table for him and he's usually okay until I can roll off the couch and get him breakfast. He usually gets up about 8 a.m., and I usually hear him and roll off the sofa around 9 a.m.

This morning he was up about 8:30, and I got off the sofa about 9:00.  I immediately started frying bacon for him, getting medicines lined up for both him and Mom while the bacon was cooking. I did the toast, and checked on him before starting eggs.  He was in his chair, smiling, without his teeth.  He'd looked all over for them and couldn't find them.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Crazy Birds

There is a bird that flies into a bush next to Mom's window. He sits up high in the bush and then he - swoop - flies into the window. He slides down the window and flips back into the bush. Again and again and again. This crazy bird has done this for hours at a time. He did it last year, and he's starting it up this year. I have no clue.  OCD Bird? Mentally-challenged bird?

Mom actually got up on her own today about 11:00 a.m. It's been a nice slow day. Dad overfilled the cat bowl, but he's been in a good mood. When he got ready to go to bed, he put his sweat pants on, a t-shirt, and his hoodie. He came into the living room tonight giggling with his hoodie all tied around his face. Oh, well.

Mom is munching on her Chex mix, picking out all the nuts. I guess it's something to do different from staring at the TV. We're watching Iron Chef America, and I'm calling it a night on the blogging.

Sunday Eclectic

I boiled a corned beef the other day. I've always oven cooked them, but saw directions for stove-top cooking and thought I'd try it. My opinion is that I'll oven cook from now on. There's something about the color of boiled meat that doesn't please the eye.

I put the broth in a crockpot with handful of varied beans. That cooked overnight.  I decided that varied beans cooked 12 hours aren't that good. The large butter beans cooked to nothing and left their shells floating around. Additionally, the corned beef broth didn't enhance the beans. Ah, well, a bit of broth and 50 cents worth of beans are no big loss.

The smoker is still sitting outside not put together. It's been so gloomy, misty and chilly, I've simply not had the gusto to do it. We did have one day of sunshine. I'm reaching that point at the end of winter when I really want spring and sunshine.  Our buttercups are blooming.  In Memphis the redbuds are blooming, and Max said the Bradford Pears are beginning to drop their blooms already.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


This morning Dad had a sneezing fit and a follow-up of hiccups.  Ow.

Today has been pleasant both inside and outside of the house. It's nice and sunny. Maybe yesterday we were all just a bit cranky from the continual gloom. Dad has even joked a bit.  That's different to me because I have no memories of him joking until the last year.

I went to the stores and got supplies. Dad helped me bring it in. I cooked smoked pork chop for supper and both he and Mom ate most of their meals. I bought another flashlight. Do you reckon we all have one now?

Once when I walked into the den today, the cat was laying on his desk, and he was petting the cat saying, "Good little doggie, pretty doggie." Frankly, I couldn't tell if he was joking or got his nouns mixed up.  He frequently calls the cat "she" when it's a "he." Lots of folks have that problem, though.

Dad sat down beside me on the couch tonight to talk about the lights in the den. He wanted to let me know that the den is a room that no one uses once he goes to bed. Since I've been coming here, he always left a light on in the garage and in the den. Tonight he told me that was wasteful. I let him know I'd been turning things off after he went to bed for the last month.  He asked me why I didn't say something to him, and I told him he'd done it for so long I didn't want to upset him. He laughed and decided we'd just turn it all off.

That's the first time since I've been coming here that he has been willing to negotiate and talk about something. I think it took this last month of me turning things off for it to sink in. It was so nice to come to an agreement without a hassle.

Japanese Earthquake

Today CNN had a few clips of the earthquake as it happened in Misawa, Japan, which is up the coast north from Sendai. I was stationed in Misawa from 1977 through Dec. 1980.  Within the first few months that I was there, we had a 7.2 earthquake. Before and following that there were smaller temblors during my tour there.

In the building where I worked, a few feet away from my chair there was a string hanging from the ceiling that had a nut tied on the end.  It was our earthquake detector. Sometimes there were just shakes and shimmies. Sometimes there were ones that had you running out of the building or crawling under tables.

During the second one while I was there, I was in my dorm room on the top, 2nd floor. I ran to the end of the hall wanting to go down the fire escape to outside. The fire escape stairs were shaking so badly I was scared of them, but I was more scared of the building collapsing.  When I got down the stairs on the lawn, I tried to get as far from all the buildings, trees and utility poles that I could. It twarn't easy.

I remember standing there looking across the street at the water tower. It had a gage on the outside that indicated the water level. That gage was bobbing like a fishing bobber.  I was so scared the tower was going to topple and flood us.  I couldn't tell what was shaking worse, my legs or the ground.

There were other minor ones I remember - one while I was riding on a bus, that was loopy. During one I was in the post grocery store.  During another I was in the club on main base and remember people trying to scrunch under the lip of the bar and bottles falling off the shelf.

I came home one time to find everything from my shelves on the floor and the door to my refrigerator open.  We learned to put tape on the bottom of knicknacks to keep them from falling off shelves.

It was good to see that no major damage happened at Misawa AFB. I visited their website and Facebook pages. There was disruption to electricity and water - meals and showers were disrupted. It seems from the first postings, though, that they will soon be back to normal.

As so many say, my heart goes out to the Japanese people.  I cannot imagine trying to care for my parents if their house was collapsed, if we were outside, if we couldn't get to the blankets or water or food or toilet. I've got emergency water here; I have kerosene lamps, a kerosene heater, extra food, and propane cooking equipment, etc. If it was all buried under a collapsed building, what on earth would we do.

Friday, March 11, 2011

No Patience Today

It was mostly an easy day with the parents. However, I totally lost my patience after supper and yelled at them, both of them. It's seems to be the little things that break me.

At the end of supper, Mom just dumped her leftovers in her trash can by her chair. I told her not to do that because it gets smelly.  Usually she puts only tissue and the like in there, so I don't make a habit of emptying the trash cans until they get full. Just at the same time, I heard Dad collecting his supper dishes. I rushed into the den to see him dump his plate into his trash can.

WoW - Robby Flay and Bario Matali

My name is Jola Gayle, and I play Wow.

Okay, so I don't play obsessively, um, anymore. I still play. Mostly now, especially since being at the parents' without highspeed intenet connection, I log on a few toons and do a couple of dailies and log off.  The couple of dailies I do are the cooking and fishing dailies in Stormwind. I'm an Ally. Just can't go the Horde route. Sorry, Josh. And Nancy. And Jeff. And Granny.

Anyway, the cooking daily Blizz has in Stormwind just cracks me up. Standing side by side are Robby Flay and Bario Matali.  Robby Flay is Head Chef and gives the daily quest. Bario Matali is Sous Chef and a vendor. I just had to take take a couple of pics of my little level 34 pink-haired gnome in ponytails by them.

Helping, Burning and TMI

Last night I had on my bluetooth earpiece and was talking to my husband when Dad came into the kitchen prior to going to bed.  I'd tried to explain some Dad conversations to my husband before, but one just can't fully explain them. Max finally heard one in progress. I let Max know Daddy was coming into the kitchen and to just hold on. Of course, Dad cannot conceive that a thing in my ear is a phone, and I'm actually conversing with a real live person. So he just prattles on and assumes that as normal life is about him.

Now that I'm trying to write about it, for the life of me I can't remember the subject matter. I just remember that it was a Cool-Hand-Luke moment - "What we have here is a failure to communicate." From Max's end I could tell there was an astounded silence, a  moment of OMG, a moment of laughter,  and a moment of realization.  Now I finally know what the hell you're talking about. It's surreal.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Eclectic Wednesday

While Uncle Charles was over this morning, he helped me get the smoker from my car's back seat to the back patio.  We had to cut the box to get it out.  Whew, it's a big heavy thing. I've read the directions and hope to get most of it together tomorrow.

I planned on doing it today, but it was so dreary, misty and cold.  It was in the fifties, but still it felt freezing outside, and I'm one of those who hates heat.  At least I got the directions read. Still a bit hesitant, but hey ho, we'll see what tomorrow brings.

Today I drove over to the local cable place, 17 miles away, and gave them the last of the paperwork to get the cable changed to have high-speed internet and also to change the phone over. Again, there is the blessing/curse of small towns. When I went in there were no lines. The gal at the reception desk handled everything. Her people are from where my people are from - instant bond. Last names exchanged and known. Headquarters - Pennsylvania - had wanted a copy of the last phone bill to change the phone and a copy of the Power of Attorney certifying I could change the service.

Reception gal copies phone document, notes she's seen the POA and doesn't need a copy, she'll note it in the digital file. Says everything is ready. Says she'll note that service people should talk to daughter and that customers have already been noted as elderly.

Somehow I don't think any of this would be so bleeding easy in Memphis.  It seems that everything that used to drive me screaming from this small town 30 years ago is being so appreciated now.

Golf Cart and Cat Scratches

Uncle brought the golf cart back today. Seems the reason it wasn't working is that Dad has been putting kerosene in it. At the beginning of winter, I got a kerosene heater and a can of kerosene to have on hand in case the electricity went out. Dad has forgotten the difference between the gas can (red) and kerosene (blue). Sigh. Now I'll have to find a place to hide the kerosene away. $300 for a few new belts and filters and cleaning out the tank. Who knew half the expenses of caring for the parents was going to be in paying for what they screw up! Frankly, I admit to not checking the blue kerosene can to make sure it hadn't been used for other purposes.

The cat scratched Dad today. It's always, "The cat bit me." Fact is, Dad's skin is so fragile that all the cat has to do is bump him with a claw, and Dad bleeds like crazy. Anyone that has ever had a cat use you as a launching pad knows the peril. I put a drop of Mercuroclear on it, and we're all fine and dandy.  Whatever happened to Mercurichrome or Merthiolate? Mercuroclear says it's an anethestic. Does the same as the earlier stuff and might  lessen pain.

I haven't been big on patience tonight. I've sent my mother into shaking fits in the last hour. The first time was when I asked her to take her dentures out and soak them overnight. She never takes the uppers out, and the lack of hygiene is driving me nuts. The next was over hand washing and lotion. She had been handling her dentures, and I told her to wash her hands - I brought her an adult wipe to do it - washing her hands in the sink is beyond her. Then I offered her the Jergens hand lotion sitting on the table beside her.  It stunk. So did the next two in the house I offered her. I gave up because every lotion in the house I offered her was going to stink. She has never in the last two years I've been here told me she doesn't like the smell of Jergen's handlotion.

The last shaking fit was because she looked at me and said she had no clue how "they got that piano in this room."  I admit, it's my fault because my patience is gone. She's said everyday for about 3 days now. I just looked at her and said, "Through the front door." She said, "Bullshit."  At that point I was stymied. "The sofa is bigger than the piano.  There are only two doors into here. How do you think?" Apparently, I'm nuts.

Finally at 11:00 p.m. I asked her to go to bed. She slowly made her way into the bedroom, stood by the bed and stalled. I asked her what was the matter. She said she didn't know what to next. I told her to lay down. When she was in bed, she started obsessing about her teeth. I realized there was no way the teeth were going to be able to soak overnight for hygiene and got them, put the dental fixative on them and let her put them in.

Once the teeth were in, she told me about how she would kneel at her mother's side and say the prayer of "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. God bless Mama and Papa and Lizbeth and ..." I asked her if she blessed a slew of friends, and she told me no, just the family.

May I please have more patience tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Back, Flashlights and Charities

It's Tuesday, and I'm back with my parents. On Monday I got a really late start and didn't arrive here until about 7:00 p.m.  I hope my sitters know just how much I appreciate it when they so kindly adapt their schedules to my fluctuating arrivals.

Would you believe that I have now lost three flashlights to my parents? To keep from taking theirs, I brought my Mag Light up here so I'd have one if needed. Mom liked that one and kept taking it for her bed at night. So I gave that one up.

I bought a little LED one at the dollar store to replace it. Then one stormy night a few weeks ago, the electricity went out, and not one of Dad's three flashlights in a row on the windowsill behind his chair would work. They got tossed and he got my LED flashlight for the den.

To My Relatives

This is where I am journaling taking care of Joe and Lola until their deaths. I welcome you here if you want to follow along and stay aware of their condition.  At the top is a link to only the posts about caring for them; it's labeled "Caring for Elderly Parents." If you click on that, the only posts that will be on that page are ones that specifically relate to Joe and Lola.

I'm putting other things on this blog to help me keep track of time and things important to me. I've found it incredibly helpful. I can keep a record of fiber things I want to remember, recipes I'm trying and the results, projects I'm working on and the results, and events of the times because I need a record to remember things.

You're quite welcome to read those other things if you're inclined. I'm wordy, and most of the posts will likely bore you to tears. My opinions may differ from yours. So if you find yourself being bored to death or irritated, please just click on the tab for elderly parents and ignore the other stuff.

If you read all of the archived posts, you will read one in which I consider not blogging about my parents. I had some conversations with family and friends and decided to continue. A friend sent me to the blog of her friend's journal of caring for her mother, and I found some incredibly good advice along with new knowledge. Max likes to know what's going on and how I'm doing up here in Kentucky.

I don't expect my blog to ever be famous or collect a huge following; it's not geared that way. There are a few friends I've had for years that pop in now and then to read. I'm letting you, the family, know of it. If a few strangers somehow stumble by and find something that helps them, I'll be glad to have helped.

If you know of or think of things you think will help, please let me know. It's not like I have training in caring for the elderly. As I said in one post, I was too young when Papa died to know much, and I was in the Air Force when Ninny died. You can email me or put something in a comment on the blog.


Restaurant and Getting Back

Ooo, la la.  We did the lunch at Red Lobster. I was in heaven.  Rock lobster, Maine lobster, shrimp and langostino. Of course, it was so much that I'm still eating on it, and that was Sunday. I have one meal left - that would be the rest of the Maine lobster and the shrimp.

Of course, I didn't do all the things I thought I would while in Memphis, but at least got an appointment to get my hair cut and dyed in two weeks when I'm home again. Argh. It's beginning to look pretty shaggy and scary.

On Saturday we went to, sigh, WallyWorld, and got a smoker. Yay! Can't wait to try it out on the homemade bacon. I brought it (the smoker) up to west Ky. since I'm now here more than in Memphis. I oven cured the batch from last week so Max could try some while I was there to learn if he liked it.  I think I have a convert. Got a good pic of him cooking it for brunch.

Now I have to wait for a nice strong young man to help me move the smoker from the car to the back of the house. These out-of-condition, too-old muscles of mine can't manage it. I suppose two of us girls could do it, but nice strong young men are so much more fun to watch.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Internet Connection and Being Taken

The order for changing the cable connection to include high-speed internet connection at my parents' was entered Friday. I also included their telephone service in there. It's supposed to take 7-10 business days to process. Hopefully the parents will never realize their telephone service is being changed; even though the total is less expensive this way and long distance calling is free, any change in their lives is immediately repulsed.

Hopefully I can explain away the need for the cable person to be there to install the modem. The last time I tried to connect them to the internet, about 15 or so years ago, before they were totally incompetent (or so I thought) ended up being one of the nastier episodes of our lives. I was going to pay for it, but Joe couldn't understand or wouldn't accept that. He went absolutely ape shit and said horrid, horrible things. If he does that again, I have no clue whatsoever how to control exasperation.

Speaking of exasperation, on Wednesday a supposed local, M.P., stopped at the house. I was in the kitchen and heard the truck start up.  Earlier that day Uncle had put the truck on a battery charger. This is the truck that the sitter pulled the coil on. When I got outside a man was standing beside the truck that Dad was starting up. This was a strange man.

I went up to him and introduced myself to him, saying my whole name. He replied with his first. I asked his last name. WHAT is it with people that have no clue how to introduce themselves? WHAT makes them think that only a first name is a perfectly okay response?  Inside I'm thinking, yes, you're one of a million Joe's or Billy's or whatever - but, aside from manners, you're in my life now, and I want to know who the hell you are.

Because I knew Dad couldn't hear, I asked MP if he had replaced a loose wire. Why, yes, he had.  I told him there was a reason that wire was loose, and it was called dementia. Very politely, I felt, I told him that the coil wire had been pulled for a reason, and that although I appreciated his thoughtfulness, he needed to come talk to someone else in the house before he again offered to help. I told him there was always either me or a sitter with my parents.

It seems MP wanted to buy Dad's old truck. I told him I had Power of Attorney and ALL decisions on property were made by me now. I also told him that another person had first dibs on the truck if it was sold. I tried to find out exactly who he was, whether he was a local, all that kind of stuff. MP immediately started to ramble. His responses led no where coherent. He started in on the who I'm related to and ex's and sons and never included where he lived but just someone that had lived down the street - it's a highway, it goes both ways - which way is down? He started in on the "I almost lost my son cause of this accident," and I almost lost someone else cause of this other thing.

While I was trying to puzzle through his responses, his cell phone rang, and without an "excuse me" or just not answering the damn phone, he interrupted his conversation with me, turned his back, reached into his truck and answered his cell phone. He ignored us, had a conversation, and then said he had to go. BIG CLUE HERE:  the real live person you're talking to is more important than the person calling on a cell phone. You can ALWAYS return a missed call. You can't uninterrupt a conversation with a real person.

Regardless, MP seemed to not be able to wait to get outta my presence. It was a clipped goodbye, a scramble into his truck and a quick exit from the driveway.

Lest you think I'm over reacting, let me say that four times before my parents have been taken or had attempts made on them to be taken. I'm beginning to recognize druggies on the move and freeloaders.

The first was next-door neighbors who "borrowed" $500 dollars from my Dad. Of course they were going to pay it back; of course there has never been $1.00 offered as payback. Yet I wasn't there, and can't call foul or demand repayment because I simply don't know the conversation or agreement.

The second was people who offered to fix the roof. They poured a 5-gallon container of tar on the roof and charged Dad $1600.  That was when I finally got called and realized how bad things were. It was too late to put a stop on the check. The roofers, of course, were transient and have disappeared into the ether.

The third was a caregiver that had been given permission to help with getting rid of some things. These were things like clothing from my mother's sister who had recently died and that my mother was incapable of letting go and other things depression kids or dementia-impaired elderly can't let go of. Advantage was taken.

The fourth was another "neighbor" from down the street, who was stopped from taking things from my Dad's workshop by the absolutely wonderful sitter that we now have. This neighbor was loading a trailer with things from my Dad's workshop. The sitter went out and said, "Whoa, what's going on here?" Neighbor said Dad said he could have said things. The sitter and I had previously discussed that Dad was becoming prone to giving things away and that couldn't happen.  When told that nothing was to be removed from the property without the daughter's permission, neighbor complied without police intervention.

Said neighbor was told daughter's schedule of being at parents' house and told to come back then and verify gifts.  Said neighbor has never shown his face at our house again. The nice thing about small towns is access to information if wanted (not so much if you don't want everyone knowing your business) and said neighbor is reputed to be a peeping tom, and local shopkeepers have been warned by relatives of said neighbor to watch when said neighbor is on premises.

So anyway, I'm tired of this aspect of caring for my parents.  In this very small community of 379, according to the 2010 Rand McNally Atlas, I wish I didn't have to watch like a hawk to keep someone from trying to take advantage of my parents.

To throw fat into the fire, of the now five attempts, three were from people who'd claim slander if you said they were druggies, one from itinerants, and one from people I class as freeloaders. Oxycodone and meth are trashing previous healthy communities. I have no solutions, but I can lament.

On the It's-the Little-Things Front, the truck was parked in back yard and still resides there as far as I know. I'll find out what's up with that when I return on Monday. The golf cart is still in limbo land.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Home Again and Restaurants

Yeehaw! I'm home again with my husband for a few days.  He's pleased because I sometimes sound more intelligent than the cats; I'm pleased because he always sounds more intelligent than my parents. It's quite wonderful to not have to be someone's caretaker for a few days. I slept late, guilt-free, and have watched videos on the internet.

We were going to go to Red Lobster for supper since their Lobster Fest is on, and their commercials always make me drool. We left the house at 5:00 p.m. to beat the supper crowd. Or so we thought. Just as we were topping the stairs of the entry someone sighed heavily, held up their restaurant beeper, and said, "An hour!" Max did an immediate about face and said, "Nope, not tonight. We'll do lunch tomorrow." Ah, well.

Since there was nothing in the house for supper, we went cheap and went to a Bob Evans. He got what he always gets after reading the full menu - chicken fried steak and gravy.  I decided to try the Stroganoff Pot Roast Stew - slow cooked pot roast in a creamy stroganoff stew with mushrooms and onions, and egg noodles with creamy sour cream. He was delighted with his meal, and I so disappointed in mine.

I think it was my fault for misinterpreting the description. I'm one of those totally tasteless people who like their noodles well cooked, not the accepted al dente norm. But, ah ha, I thought. Those noodles will be cooked in the pan with the roast and sauce and will be nice and soft. Wrongo.

Nice, clean al dente pasta put in a bowl, topped with a spoonful of brown gravy sauce, which was topped with chopped roast beef, a dollop of sour cream and a sparse sprinkling of bread crumbs. Sigh. The meat was roast beef, not pot roast but was delicious and  tender. The sauce was perhaps more than just brown gravy, but certainly not the creamy gravy of stroganoff. They tried to go gourmet with the mushrooms I think. I couldn't tell exactly what kind they were, but they weren't your innocuous button mushrooms. Much too earthy for me.

To add insult to injury, although not listed on the ingredients, the butter spread tasted like it had sugar in it, and the yeast rolls were sweet, too.  Argh! If I want a sweet roll, I'll order a sweet roll - for desert. Please give me nice pure butter and a savory yeast roll with my meal, which is not desert.

I do have to give BIG KUDOS to Bob Evans for their savor-size (I think that's what it was called) option on the  dish.  First time I have ever seen an option to downsize something. That's impressive in my book. I still couldn't have eaten it all, even if it had been exactly what I was expecting and delicious.

Oh, well, Red Lobster for lunch tomorrow and Lobster Fest.  I won't complain.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Collusion and Lies

Mom discovered her closet again yesterday. She suggested we could give some of those pretty clothes away. Thinking of that task led me to wonder what she'd like to be buried in - wouldn't want to give that away. I tried to gently ask her that.

I asked if she'd like to be buried in one of her pretty red suits. Harumph! Quickly learned she thought pretty badly of that. Seems she'd been to a funeral years ago in which the lady was dressed in red, and another attendee made fun of the poor dead person being buried in red. <channeling Jar Jar Binks>  "How rude." Therefore, no red for Mom. She did not, however, come up with something she liked. Sigh.

Dad asked me three times yesterdy what the day and date were. Two times were five minutes apart.

Why Am I So Often Late on Authors

Stieg Larsson is a classic example.  At least I discovered "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" before it became all the rage. The problem is, he up and died.  The nerve.  He wrote 3 books I loved, and died. RIP Stieg Larsson.

Again I find myself thoroughly enjoying a different set of books and just discovered the author died three months ago. These are the medical forensic books placed in 12th century England written by Diana Norman under the pen name of Ariana Franklin.  Fortunately Ms. Norman was 77 when she died and had a long life, as opposed to Mr. Larsson. Unfortunately for me, I'll never have the joy of reading more of her "Mistress of Death Series."

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

High Speed to Insolvency

On February 27, 2011, George Will wrote a little article about this administration's desire for high-speed rail access. I cannot address his concerns about this causing the country insolvency, as I have very little clue about federal financial matters. I can, however, address a few things he says.
 "So why is America’s “win the future” administration so fixated on railroads, a technology that was the future two centuries ago? Because progressivism’s aim is the modification of (other people’s) behavior."
A technology that was the future two centuries ago... Yes, it was, and it's a shame it got, mmm, derailed, so to speak.  I'd love to be able to easily take a train. Ya wanna get my husband on a roll? Ask him his thoughts on this country's abandonment of railroads. Talk about a rant. I think it falls under "some of the most stupid things this country has done."

"...modification of (other people's) behavior." Really now. Hunh. Who'da thunk it. Providing us access to railroads, giving us travel options, cutting down my gas expenditure, keeping my car off the road (saving it's underwhelming condition), and giving me time to do something else while I travel, among other things, is modifying my behavior. I'm so glad he warned me that hungering for a good rail trip is behavior modification exerted on me by progressives. Wow.

This quote just cracks me up:
Forever seeking Archimedean levers for prying the world in directions they prefer, progressives say they embrace high-speed rail for many reasons—to improve the climate, increase competitiveness, enhance national security, reduce congestion, and rationalize land use. The length of the list of reasons, and the flimsiness of each, points to this conclusion: the real reason for progressives’ passion for trains is their goal of diminishing Americans’ individualism in order to make them more amenable to collectivism.
Flimsy - improving the climate, competitiveness, national security, reducing congestion - flimsy, eh? I don't know about that rationalizing land use. What exactly does he mean by that? Unfamiliar with that one.

The real reason is to diminish individualism in order to make us more amenable to collectivism. Excuse me while I fall off my chair laughing. Where in the hell does that come from?

Am I a progressive? I don't have a clue. I do know I'd like to have access to rail travel, especially high-speed. Does that make me a progressive? Does that mean I want to shove Americans towards collectivism?  Mmm, I don't think so.

I do know I'd like to not have to drive everywhere. Maybe if I were riding for two hours rather than driving, I could, say, knit on a sock or crochet on a tablecloth. Maybe I could afford to go to Nashville more often.

I'd like to save wear and tear on my own automobile. You know, I'd like to not wrack up the mileage on it and have to replace it so quickly.

I'd like to be able to sit and watch the countryside go by rather than worry about some semi-truck running over me on a downhill slope, or sideswiping me while having lousy lane discipline. I'd like to not to worry about some idiot on a cell phone having a wreck in front of me. I'd love to not spend 15 minutes traveling a quarter of mile because someone actually did have a wreck.  I'd love to avoid downtown Memphis or Nashville in rush hour.

If it were a long trip, I'd be in absolute heaven eating a meal in a nice setting rather than dashing off the interstate to get smacked in the face by a profusion of fast-food restaurants. Hey, I could even have an icy gin and tonic and not have to worry about drinking and driving at the same time, all while getting somewhere. How cool is that!