Yet Another Journal

Nostalgia, DVDs, old movies, television, OTR, fandom, good news and bad, picks, pans,
cute budgie stories, cute terrier stories, and anything else I can think of.


 Contact me at yetanotherjournal (at) mindspring (dot) com

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» Thursday, June 30, 2005
I've done a post today and two backposts in A Cozy Nook to Read In, including some commentary about the new girls' series "The Callahan Cousins."

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Today's dubbing, as far as I can get, the eight part 1988 PBS documentary Television, narrated by Edwin Newman. (If I can get six episodes today I can get rid of another videotape.)

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I have discovered something low-carb that I love.

Take a soft-taco sized low carb soft tortilla (7 grams) and smear it thinly with peanut butter. Roll. Eat. Yum.

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Emma! How the heck are you? Update your blog, please?

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Another Morning
I'm starting to hate them. Mom always wakes up in a lot of pain. This morning she said "Mama, Mama, help me!" I guess no matter how old you are you always call for your mother in the end.

The baby monitor is working fine, but I am still running upstairs every fifteen minutes just to see how things are. This monitor hears everything. The house is a tri-level and I'm down in what used to be the garage and she is upstairs in the room right over my head. But I can hear the idiot who drives by with his stereo "up to 11," the airplanes flying overhead from Dobbins ARB and NAS Atlanta and even the dog up in the kitchen rattling around near her food dish via the monitor.

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» Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Drew Carey?
As found on Ivan's blog, CelebMatch, from Brent's blog.

Mine turned out to be:

Heavy D...98%...I take it from the name this is some sort of rapper? Otherwise I would say "Who?"
Yanni...97%...Oh, please, I like New Age music, but this?
Marshall Crenshaw...96%...to quote Tucker the mouse in A Very Merry Cricket: who he?
Drew Carey...95%...No. No. And Hell No.
The only one I vaguely agreed with:
Chris Noth...97%...Okay. I'll take Chris Noth. But if I had to have someone from the Law & Order stable, I'd prefer Sam Waterston.

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Out in the World
James worked on Saturday, so he had today off. We used the opportunity to sleep a little bit later, but I had to get up early to check on Mom and give her her pills. Because she was sleeping so deeply last night—I literally cannot wake her up when she sleeps like this; she just mumbles and grunts—I couldn't give her her pain medication, so when she took it at 7:30 she was in quite a bit of pain.

We still had things to do, so we called up some friends on the off chance someone could come over at the last moment. Leigh Boros had some research she wanted to do and came over to keep Mom company and read while she slept. It was a welcome respite; thank you, Leigh!

We bought more watermelon and some tea for Mom at the grocery store, then went to Lowe's to return something James bought a duplicate of and buy a new mailbox (the old one is too small and also no longer latches properly) and two new blinds for the glass doors to the den; Willow had finally broken and/or bent all the lower slats to the aluminum ones we had up to the point where they were taped closed and together with electrical tape and Scotch tape and everything else and looked horrid. We got "faux wood [read "plastic"] plantation blinds" this time, which were a bit more money but have thick, wide slats which we hope Willow can't break and also which we hope will let less light in the room, keeping it cooler and not reflecting as much in the corner of the television screen in the daytime. (We installed them with the usual circus of electric drill, level, pencil searches, and confusion when we got home; they look pretty good.)

We also bought some groceries and a baby monitor at WalMart (finally; it will make me feel a bit more secure when Mom is sleeping and I'm doing housework), and stopped at Borders for a treat: we both had 50 off coupons on a beverage and 30 percent off coupons on a book. I got an anthology of 1920-set mysteries and James got the novel We Few.

Got home to find a nice surprise despite the money it cost: I have a Waldenbooks/Borders credit card that earns me book coupon points. I got six $5 coupons this time due to those $$$$ plane tickets and had two from last time, which means both James and I can get a copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince for free. Only seventeen days left.

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» Tuesday, June 28, 2005
...The Rest is Silence
Ventriloquist-Actor Paul Winchell, 82, Dies

I grew up on Paul Winchell and Shari Lewis; they remain some of my favorite Saturday morning memories. But then I remember Saturday morning with particular fondness: the things they have on for kids now, weird cartoons and stuff like The Crocodile Hunter can't beat the lineup I remember. Live-action classics like Fury and The Roy Rogers/Dale Evans Show and Lassie reruns, cartoons like Tennessee Tuxedo and Underdog and Rocky and His Friends, other shows like Pip the Piper and the amazing magician Mark Wilson ("and his assistant Nani Darnell and Rebo the Clown") in The Magic Land of Alakazam.

We'll miss you, Paul.

Ivan Shreve has some great links to commentary about Winchell in his entry about his passing.

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Riding the Roller Coaster
I hate roller coasters. Emotional ones are worse. Today has been one of those days.

James was getting ready for work when he heard a thump and exclaimed, "I think your mother just fell." I don't even remember getting out of bed. Yes, she had fallen and given her head a good thump on the television stand. (Sigh...I've moved it away from the bed; I just wanted her to be able to see it better, since it's only a 13 inch screen and she only has one usable eye.) She was trying to go to the bathroom and her knees had given out. James helped me get her back up, I treated the scrape on her head with saline, alcohol and Neosporin, then helped her to the bathroom and kept her awake for the requisite hour. Despite the raw spot, she said the eye was hurting much worse than the scrape; in fact after I treated it she did not complain about it hurting again.

The nurse came at lunchtime and examined her and said she was okay except for the usual complaint about the eye pain and talked her into taking a second Percoset. (She said the dosage Mom has is really no more effective than Tylenol and if we need it, we can get stronger ones.) She admitted Mom's facial bruising (from the cancer) looked worse today and she didn't seem to be in as good shape as last week. I told her about Mom sleeping all day yesterday and that, despite the pain, Mom was actually a lot better than she had been yesterday; she was alert and drank nearly an entire bottle of Boost and had actually had all her medications on time so far. The nurse confirmed my suspicions that yes, it's going to be like that.

While Mom visited the bathroom I completely tidied up the room and the futon and also dusted, she sat and watched her soaps for about an hour and a half. But after that she was sleepy and cold again, so I gave her more medication (she had requested it), and snuggled her under blankets and let her sleep again.

In between caring and housework I dubbed off two more blooper specials and some M*A*S*H stuff: PBS's Making M*A*S*H, narrated by Mary Tyler Moore; CBS's special Memories of M*A*S*H; a couple of shorts from PM Magazine and Entertainment Tonight about the M*A*S*H finale; and Entertainment Tonight's preview of AfterM*A*S*H (in which they predicted the series would be a "sure thing"; oh, well...). These longer things are easier to do right now, since I can start them and run upstairs while they are on. Doing things like Timmy and Lassie and Jeff's Collie will have to wait because I have to cut the Nickelodeon breaks out of them.

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» Monday, June 27, 2005
It's Been A Strange 24 Hours
Mom dozed off on the sofa last night and about nine o'clock said she want to go to bed. When we got upstairs she was so tired she didn't even get undressed. I couldn't rouse her even at bedtime; if I talked loudly she said "Don't yell," but otherwise just murmured. So I covered her up and let her sleep, but I was very disturbed and did not sleep most of the night.

She roused a bit at eight, when James got up, and managed to take her daily pills and her pain pills, and put her pajamas on, and we both went back to sleep for about 90 minutes. I got up to find her with her head in her hands. I put a cold compress on her eye and gave her some Tylenol. At lunchtime I brought up some Boost and tapioca for her, but she only took a couple of sips of the former. I thought Wimbledon was on all afternoon, so asked her if she would like to watch something nice like Anne of Green Gables. I think she was awake for about a half hour of it.

She's basically been asleep ever since. I run upstairs every fifteen minutes to see how she is. Sometimes she's changed positions, but she's still sleeping. She didn't want supper—and she loves pork chops—but I still left some salad up there for her. She says she's cold and will eat it later.

Sigh.

I've been dubbing things all day: a couple of favorite Doctor Who episodes, "Talons of Weng-Chiang" and "Image of the Fendahl," the television movie Lassie: The New Beginning (written by Earl Hamner and really kind of a Waltons version of a Lassie story, if that makes any sense; unfortunately he included the stereotypical mean dog catcher), the theatrical The Magic of Lassie with Jimmy Stewart (this is the only musical Lassie movie and even Stewart gets to sing, a patter song), and the TV Land special about Get Smart, which finished off my Smart DVDs.

There was nothing interesting on tonight, so I am dubbing off old blooper specials. The one on right now is from the House Calls series era (the Wayne Rogers/Lynn Redgrave comedy). It includes the classic WSBK-TV38 blooper with the clown Willie Whistle and the snake who crawled down his overalls. This has turned up in several blooper specials. (Oh, yeah, and the infamous McHale's Navy "singing on the bridge" shot.) My favorite bloopers, however, are still the news and animal bloopers.

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» Sunday, June 26, 2005
Quiet Sunday
After James and I did some shopping, Mom got dressed and we went out. We had the loaner wheelchair with us (thanks, Juanita, Mrs. Cunningham, and Ann and Clay!) and went to the computer show. Like last year's summer shows, a lot of the usual vendors didn't show up. In fact, the parking lot wasn't even crowded, which is absolutely bizarre: when there's a computer show, the parking lot is usually SRO. We also dropped some plastic bags off for recycling and then went to Bruster's for ice cream. I had their cappucino, which has a nice dash of cinnamon in it.

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As I Suspected...

Your Slanguage Profile

New England Slang: 100%
Southern Slang: 75%
Aussie Slang: 50%
British Slang: 50%
Canadian Slang: 50%
Victorian Slang: 50%
Prison Slang: 25%


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» Saturday, June 25, 2005
Out and In
James worked today. By this afternoon Mom had dressed and I had loaded the wheelchair into the car.

Unfortunately it was a short trip. We went to the cleaner for James, then I swung by Barnes & Noble to see if my British cross-stitch magazine, Quick & Easy, was out. It was. Unfortunately Mom developed stomach cramps and we had to come home immediately. I did run out for ten minutes to get a couple of things from the grocery store.

So for the rest of the afternoon we watched/dubbed Disney's Savage Sam, the sequel to Old Yeller. Unlike Fred Gipson's book, it's pretty inferior. Yeller has the ring of universal truth to it, while Sam is simply a Western adventure.

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» Friday, June 24, 2005
I got out tonight! For a whole hour.

I had initially asked Mom if she wanted to go with us and she said yes, she wanted to get out a little. I even brought her clothes downstairs so she could dress in the bathroom. But by the time we finished our chicken Mom said she was too tired. So I left her my cell phone and showed her how to press "2" (the speed-dial for James' phone) if something happened.

So we zipped down to BJ's, James got gas, and we shopped and got back. I felt so weird in the truck. I haven't ridden in it for a month. Found cherries that actually looked good, nice and ripe. Mom ate a couple herself. We would have brought strawberries, but she is allergic.

Also transferred to DVD: two episodes of To the Manor Born (yes, I know it's out on DVD, but it's too expensive), an ep of Yes, Minister that had Michael Keating in it, an ep of Yes, Prime Minister with Nicholas Courtney in it, a 12-minute interview of Patrick Stewart from The Tonight Show when Star Trek: the Next Generation ended, and Disney's The Moon-Spinners (which is also on DVD, but the idiots didn't letterbox it, so why waste the money on it when I have a perfectly good full screen copy?).

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And so the fat lady sings and the snowglobe shakes:

I'd forgotten how many in-jokes were in that last episode, Patient 4077 in the morgue (his name is Henry Blake and he died from injuries sustained in a helicopter crash; the really funny thing is that the "corpse" looked more like Colonel Flagg) and the one-armed man being chased up to the water tower (Dr. Kimble wanted him in a bad way) the group hug ala the finale of The Mary Tyler Moore Show (when Cavanaro asks "What do we do now?" Fiscus suggests they sing "A Long Way to Tipparary"), etc.

I have five episodes of St. Elsewhere, "A Wing and a Prayer," the second season Thanksgiving episode; the two Father McCabe stories (I'm a sucker for Edward Herrmann), the two part "Time Heals" and "Where There's Hope, There's Crosby"; and the finale.

(Actually I have another on a professional videotape, a Christmas episode called "Santa Claus is Dead.")

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» Thursday, June 23, 2005
By the Way...
...thanks, Jerry, it was delicious.

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True Blue
Boy, the A/C is working fine. I'm cold, and the Weather Channel says it's still 80°F out!

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A Long Afternoon
Mom slept late this morning, then woke up in a lot of pain. I had to ply her with medication and let her go back to sleep before it abated. I keep wondering about the conflicting advice: she should take the pain medication regularly, but I shouldn't wake her up if she is sleeping. But if I let her sleep, she does wake up in pain. It seems to be a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation.

Keeping myself occupied dubbing off between running up and down stairs helping Mom and dusting: did put Stars and Stripes at the end of the disc mentioned yesterday, so I have an entire DVD of Hollywood in wartime. I also popped the 1957 film Escapade in Japan on the end of the disc with Good Morning, Miss Dove. Two nice sentimental fifties color films. Japan features Jon Provost as the son of an American diplomat and his wife (Cameron Mitchell and Teresa Wright) who is lost in a plane crash off the coast of Japan where Dad is assigned. He's rescued by a Japanese fishing family and taken on an odyssey by the son, who sees police searching for his new American buddy and figures he's in trouble. You see a great deal of 1950s Japan in a film that was made to heal still-sore relations after World War II.

Had some space at the end and popped on three totally unrelated, but time-fitting Saturday Night Live skits from the Joe Piscopo/Eddie Murphy era, including Murphy's hysterical "Galactic Prophylactic" ad.

Now I've started on a St. Elsewhere disk. I have about five episodes and a couple of shorts from Evening Magazine. I watched both "sister" series, Elsewhere and Hill Street Blues from beginning to end, and enjoyed them both, but leaned a little bit toward the hospital series in fondness. While both had offbeat characters, St. Elsewhere was always the one that was a bit off the wall, with in-jokes and references to other television shows and movies. It was always a bit surreal anyway. Judging by the comments I see online, I think I was one of a dozen people who actually liked the infamous last episode.*

[* In St. Elsewhere, the two hospital administrators were Dr. Westphall, played by Ed Flanders, and Dr. Auschlander, played by Norman Lloyd. One of the numerous series subplots involved Westphall's autistic son Tommy, played by Chad Allen. In the final minutes of the final episode of SE, the hospital dissolves into a flurry of snowflakes and the scene pans back to a snowglobe with the St. Eligius building (really a Boston apartment house) inside. Flanders, dressed in construction clothes, comes home to a small working-class apartment where his father (played by Lloyd) is taking care of his autistic son (played by Allen). The snowglobe belongs to the boy, who, his father says with puzzlement, seems to be able to stare into it for hours. The implication is that the entire series was a fantasy dream of an autistic child.]

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» Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Nothing to Do But Help...
Mom has been in some pain today. I wish I could do more. I gave her all her medication on time, but it's just been rough. Michelle, the social worker, came today. I arranged for the chaplain to come (tomorrow) and they are also going to have a volunteer call me so I can go out for a few hours for shopping and errands.

Between going up and downstairs for meds and other assistance, I did some more dubbing: I did fit Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree at the end of the DVD with the other two Muppet Christmas stories. I also transferred If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (which I got off TCM; I guess they don't have a widescreen version), the only episode of Laverne and Shirley I ever liked, "The Slow Child," about Mrs. Babish's mentally challenged daughter, and two World War II homefront specials, Going Hollywood: the War Years and Entertaining the Troops. There is enough room on this WWII disk for the old AMC homefront special, Stars and Stripes.

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» Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Had a scare earlier: Mom went to the bathroom and I was there to help. As she was washing her hands, it was as if she got really shaky in the knees, wobbling severely. It came on very suddenly. I had to grab her from behind and hold her up until the dizzy spell passed. So instead of helping her downstairs, we went back to the bedroom and she took a long nap until James got home. But she did have a bit of an appetite and ate some chicken and gravy, some noodles, and most of two tablespoons of carrots, and also some sips of Boost.

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Home Sweet Home
Sigh. I'm not sure Mom is happy here, but I'm doing my best. I'm sleeping so "hard" and so long it worries me; I don't want to be inattentive to her. She eats a few bites of toast, a few spoonfuls of soup. Last night she did eat more than usual, but of course James was cooking (he made stir-fry beef bits with carrots, celery, mushrooms, and onions). Right now she's upstairs watching her soaps. I really need a baby monitor or some sort of intercom so I can hear her call me, though.

Between bouts of housecleaning, since yesterday, I have begun dubbing off more tapes. Yesterday I did one of my favorites for years, Good Morning, Miss Dove, starring Jennifer Jones as a strict small-town schoolteacher. When she is taken ill, the town rallies around her. I can't believe this has never been out on any type of video; my copy was taped off American Movie Classics before they went to that proverbial hell in a handbasket.

When I rewatched it, I realized how much the movie suffers from pan and scan, as it was originally filmed in Cinemascope. People are offscreen when spoken to a lot, which is very aggravating.

I also copied off a Hallmark Hall of Fame production called Face to Face with Elizabeth Montgomery and Robert Foxworth as, respectively, an archaologist and a meerschaum miner in Africa. The plot is rather slight. To be perfectly honest, I recorded it because Lou Antonio is in it; it's the last movie/television credit he has because he's been sticking to directing. I'd rather have copies of The Snoop Sisters for a Lou Antonio role (or maybe Dog and Cat), but one can't be fussy.

This morning I copied off one of my favorite science fiction movies of all time, Gene Roddenberry's The Questor Tapes. This is another Robert Foxworth vehicle; he plays Questor, the android with growing awareness of his human state, perfectly. The movie co-stars Mike Farrell as Jerry Robinson, Questor's mentor in all things human and his friend and the late John Vernon as Geoffrey Darro, the acerbic and straight-laced head of Project Questor, and features classic film star Lew Ayres in a cameo role as the creator of Questor, Professor Vaslovik.

This film has special meaning to me since it was through this story I was introduced to many friends via Mary Bloemker's fanzine "The Vaslovik Archives."

Right now I am dubbing off the Danny Kaye film Me and the Colonel, co-starring Curt Jurgens. Kaye and Jurgens are a Polish Jew and an anti-Semetic Polish colonel trying to escape from Paris before the Germans invade. I was lucky to get both Questor and Colonel off Cinemax (and I do mean lucky; Cinemax only showed Colonel once).

(Also crossed some Christmas stuff off my dub list: John Denver & the Muppets: A Christmas Together and A Muppet Family Christmas. I would like to put Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree on there as well, but not sure if it will fit.)

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» Sunday, June 19, 2005
"How Quiet, How Quiet, the Chamber is..."
This was running through my head early Saturday morning, when I couldn't sleep, half because of physical problems, and half dreading the day:
"Is anybody there?
Does anybody care?
Does anybody see what I see?"
                                                                 1776


This is the last time I will sit here in this place on a late spring day, the cool breeze coming through the window, the breeze that in June always had me dreaming of July and vacation. I look around the house trying to impress all the details. It's a bit turned on the heel these days; the shining new Solarian from the early 1970s has lost most of its finish, the wallpaper Dad and I laboriously put on the walls of the bathroom looks weary, the "refinished" kitchen cabinets (all they did was put some type of "contact paper" over the old ones) look hideously dated. The carpet Mom put in several years ago has gotten "baggy." (I wouldn't have put a new wall-to-wall. There's a perfectly gorgeous hardwood floor underneath, which I would have never hidden.) There's only one bathroom. Half the porch windows no longer open. The windows in the unfinished second story, which we used as an attic, are still the old counterweight type.

But I had a good time growing up here. Oh, I'm not saying there weren't bad patches. We can a couple of medical scares, including Mom's gall bladder and Dad's prostate. Once I had pneumonia and the doctor knocked me unconscious with a dose of penicillin that was too large.

As I got older, Dad and I often clashed. I'm not talking big rebellious teenager stuff; I wasn't that type of kid. In fact, I'd decided when I was in elementary school that, unlike the other kids, I didn't really want to grow up. They were all atwitter about having their own cars and own money and own apartments. I thought about having to go to work at a job you really didn't like day after day and having to do hideously mundane things like pay insurance and, even worse, mow the lawn. But Dad and I were a lot alike, so much alike that we occasionally couldn't help setting each other off. We were both painfully self-conscious introverts who got our feelings hurt if you looked at us crossways.

Dad was also hurt because I was closer to Mom than I was to him. But the three of us, most of the time, were the Three Musketeers. I was never ashamed of going on vacation with my parents. We had fun and, once we had the money, went to fun places—Fort Ticonderoga, the Flume in New Hampshire, Quebec, Expo '67, Williamsburg, cross country to California, and by car down to Florida. (I had one girlfriend who told me enviously, "I wish my parents went on vacations like yours. All mine want to do is go to someplace where they can sit around the pool, have a cocktail, and relax.") They almost never left me alone, and then never with babysitters; always with family. We sweltered together on summer nights, got cool at the beach and cold in the snow, went to the drive-in, consumed copious quantities of Del's Lemonade, had cookouts, went to see the leaves in the fall.

When I lay in my bed at night, with the nightlight on and the door open so I could hear the quiet murmur of the television, I felt like the luckiest, safest kid in the world. No one ever pried in my diary, or told me to stop writing my stories, although sometimes I think my wild imagination puzzled my dad. (I keep thinking how happy he'd be to know that I was finally "into" computers. Way back in 1973, he told me this would be the "going thing" in the future. But back in 1973, you had to get an A+ in math to even peek at the school computer and I wasn't interested.)

Of course I grew up (and sure enough, got stuck with the job I didn't like and cutting the lawn and paying the insurance). In 1985, our magic number was reduced by one; in a few days or a few weeks or a few months it will be reduced to one.

But the memories remain.

And I'll always be glad I got to enjoy the ride.

"In life you pull out the gate
Then you head dead straight
Steer clear of the main road, it all looks the same
Can't miss the signs, keep between the lines, and
Stay awake at the wheel—
If you drift, try to take in the feel of the moment
Along the big ride."

                                                                 Rupert Holmes, "The Big Ride"

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Early Sunday Morning
Mom is watching the Sunday Mass from Notre Dame on Hallmark. We all slept late, then James went out and did the monthly spraying (late because of the constant rain) and I cleaned out the bathroom. Used the Clorox bath wand on the tub for the first time. Not bad. Just had to scrub some corners and around the faucets with the sponge. Mom said she slept well, and when I asked her if she wanted to watch the Mass, she came downstairs with us helping her. James made her some of his omelet but she didn't want to eat it while church was on. I hope in a bit.

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» Saturday, June 18, 2005
Exhausted
Up at not quite seven...more trips to the bathroom...got Mom up at nine and really had to push to get her going. We were finished by 10:30 and then a procession of neighbors and relatives came by to wish her bon voyage. My godmother was as near to pieces as I've ever seen her.

We had no trouble when we got to the airport...sigh, except with TSA. Mom has a hat she wears, with a buckle on it. It's a good thing...maybe something told me...that I insisted on her wearing the kerchief under the hat, which she usually doesn't do, because they made her take it off and gave her a full wand search. I was trying to get reclothed and had absolutely no way to control what was going on. (I also didn't notice that the courderoy pants I picked out for her to wear had little snaps at the corners of the pockets. That set off the alarm, too.)

The flight seemed very long. I usually have a book to read but mostly held hands with Mom, who was exhausted.

We had a very nice escort at Hartsfield, a James Johnson, who was very patient with us. We had asked some friends to come to the airport in case we needed some support (hi, Mel, hi, Phyllis). Well, James, who was busy last night getting the room ready and buying groceries, and who got only four hours sleep, completely forgot where he parked the car. I've never seen him so disoriented. It was hellishly hot in the parking lot and I finally asked Mel to drive me around the parking lot; we kept the window open and I aimed the key fob out the window and kept pressing the panic button. Finally the car started beeping and flashing. It was completely away from where poor James thought he left it.

We got home without incident. Mom slept on the sofa most of the evening. She ate a few mouthfuls of the delicious rotisserie chicken from Publix and all the cut-up watermelon (except for the piece Willow mooched from her). By the time it was bedtime, she was flat out incoherent. I had to wrestle with her to get her upstairs, but finally she was settled on the futon under three coverings and murmured her way to sleep.

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» Friday, June 17, 2005
Yes, Jerry...
Thanks. I'm getting stereo with James on the other side.

I think I'm calmer. Mom's stuff is all packed, except for slippers and an extra pair of shoes. Just have to remember the pills. Those are the most important things!

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I've turned into a maniac. Or even worse than usual. I barely slept last night, spent a frazzled morning trying to start packing things and also washing clothes, on the phone half the time juggling all the connections of hospice. This afternoon Mom said she definitely wanted to go to the bank to make sure everything was in order. I also had to fax a request for advanced leave to work and go to Brooks Drugs to pick up her Percoset, and the fax had to be in before close of business, so I pretty nearly chivvied her out of the house in haste to get to Richard and Debbie's shop to send the fax, then go to the bank, then go to Brooks...

She was so exhausted when I got her home that she took her pills and I bathed her eye and then let her rest on the sofa. I tried to sleep but relatives who found out she was leaving tomorrow kept phoning to say hello and my godmother came over, looking worried and depressed, and finally I burst out crying while I was folding clothes, which scared Mom. I can't believe I was that selfish. I should have known people would want to wish her well and I rushed things. I just had to make a decision—and the hospice said it had to be soon if we were going to do it at all—and I just wanted to quit hurting and let it be over with. I feel miserable and sick now and can't imagine how I'm going to get through dinner, let alone this evening and tomorrow.

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» Thursday, June 16, 2005
Cross Fingers
The deed is done. I am taking my mom down to Georgia on Saturday afternoon. The hospice people are getting prescriptions and getting records transferred. The airline is providing bells and whistles (wheelchairs and the like). My cousins and godmother like the idea. Mom is agreeable to it (although she keeps getting what day we're going mixed up).

I'm the one who's scared.

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Reference Test
From watching Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, I would say one of the tips I'd give to a contestant is to have your "phone-a-friend" be equipped with DSL.

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» Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Oh, damn.

Why did they have to play "Send In the Clowns"?

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At last fundraising is over and there's something good to watch: Evening at Pops. Ironically it's on the Providence PBS station and not the Boston one (although I think WGBH probably shows it at another time).

I can't enjoy it. I seem to have the runs again, and it's not even hot...

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It only got up to 60°F today. It was wonderful; at least I thought so. I was able to wash clothes and sweep the floor and even iron the patches on my pants. Mom got up and was even able to wash up, but she dozed through most of the day, blinking awake occasionally during her soaps.

By evening I was feeling restless. I went outside a couple of times; the air had a delightful cold tinge. It reminded me of winter; things were so much better in the winter. By the time I had eaten supper I couldn't bear it anymore; Mom said she didn't mind, so I went for a walk around the track across the street. This used to be just two fields, an upper and a lower, where the kids from Bain had gym class and the guys played baseball on summer nights, and the back part used to be the right-of-way for the railroad that took supplies to the Cranston Printworks. There are houses down on the right-of-way now and the tracks are now part of a bicycle path system.

I went once around, which is a half a mile. It took care of a little of my restlessness, but not all. What I want to do is run...and run...and run...

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Take a Corner of Brie
I'm feeling horribly depressed again. Every time I hear the sparrows sing I miss Pidgie. I wish Wil was here to bark when someone comes to the door.

And this is the longest James and I have ever been apart. I remind myself that John and Abigail Adams were apart for years at the time, but it still aches so badly. I just want to curl up in a little ball and cry.

Flourish

It strikes me that I make a pretty poor nurse, at least at responding to noise. Again, I was awake at six—but didn't need to open windows today, thank goodness! it was snuggle-in-the-blankets time last night and is only 56°F at the moment—and Mom was still asleep sitting up on the sofa. Woke up again about ten past eight and dozed on and off until nine.

When I got up, Mom was back in bed again; she was half awake, so I gave her a Percoset. She had gotten up, started to get washed, felt too tired to do so, put on a new robe, and gone into the bed; she said she didn't sleep well. Granted, I think she shut my bedroom door (not to disturb me!)—but I was right next to this all the time and didn't hear a thing. Sigh.

Flourish

» Tuesday, June 14, 2005
An up and down day. Mom slept on the sofa last night, but sometime after 6 a.m. when I got up to open some of the windows, she went to the bathroom (I could tell; she pulled the shade down) and then went into the bed. She slept a lot of today, but I had to wrestle with her a bit to get her to take all her pills and she wouldn't take the gabapentin until tonight.

We also had a contretemps at dinner time: she expressed an interest for Boston Market chicken. I needed some iron-on patches for my pants and asked her if it was okay if I go look for some; that I might not be right back. She said it was okay twice, and I told my godmother I was leaving. I had to go out a ways to find a fabric store and had to make it back through rush-hour traffic before going to Boston Market. When I got back she was annoyed because I had been so long...and, sigh, didn't eat the chicken after all that.

She also didn't tell me that she had a rapid heartbeat all day, until about 9 p.m. I had to call the hospice nurse, who thought it was a little rapid but not dangerous and thought it might be a leftover effect from the heat earlier. I also gathered from Mom's comments that she thinks the hospice nurse should come every day.

It soared to 92°F today and then the clouds came in. We didn't get any thunderstorms or hard rain like they did other places, but the cold front came through. It dropped about 25 degrees in less than six hours. While last night it was in the high 70s, tonight it is already under 59°. This was good because after I ate my Boston Market chicken, I had a terrible case of indigestion (I forgot to take my Prilosec this morning) and was feeling decidedly unwell and it frightened me.

Trying to figure out a way to submit some paperwork to get myself into the leave donation program at work. I have to fill out a form, but can't have it e-mailed to me because I have no printer. I will probably have it faxed to my cousin Debbie and Richard's shop and then have them fax it back. As of now I am on leave without pay, and that's scary with my car insurance bill coming up.

Flourish

Back in the 1970s Edward Herrman and Jane Alexander starred as Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt in a special adapted from Joseph Lash's Eleanor and Franklin in a production by the same name. It won all sorts of Emmy awards and there was a sequel, Eleanor and Franklin: the White House Years. This looks like it might be the original story, retitled: Eleanor & Franklin: the Early Years.

Hope so; my copy was taped off WSBK-TV38 before we had a booster on the antenna and is exceedingly snowy.

Flourish

» Monday, June 13, 2005
Not sure if it is the progression of the disease, the medication, or even the heat, but Mom is having a very bad time of it. Even the nurse noticed it today; she is distracted and forgetful and can barely eat. I suppose I am mean, but I wish God would take her. She has suffered so much.

Flourish

» Sunday, June 12, 2005
Mom has slept most of today. I made supper: the nice tender au jus pork dinner from Hormel, but she doesn't seem to like meat anymore and the Rice'a'Roni that she asked me to make was too salty for her. (Heck, it's almost too salty for me.) She has taken her pills (so far, she said ominously) and did have some ice cream.

Hideously hot today; only thing good about it was that it was extremely hazy so that we didn't see the sun much. This is bizarre for June, which is usually warm but nice, not with temps up in the 90s. Very muggy. The three H's, as John Ghiorse always said: hazy, hot and humid. Miserable weather. But I always did hate summer, even as a kid, even with summer vacation. I used to wish they'd put A/C in the schools (which, of course, they have done now) and let us off in the winter. After all, all the good holidays were in the winter and I'd rather play in the snow than get mosquito bites.

Flourish

It ended up bad last night. Mom was okay until about one o'clock. She had promised to take the other half of a Percoset. Then she needed to use the bathroom. From there her situation deteriorated. She was in pain and wouldn't take the pain medication. I was already rubbed raw from the heat and needed to use the bathroom badly. By the time this had gone on for a half hour I lost it. I burst into tears and called the Hospice nurse.

Despite the pain Mom's mother instincts kicked in when she heard me crying and I was able to get her into bed and get her to take the remainder of the pain medication. She had a fever again and she took some Tylenol as well. I was wrung out and went to bed too much later on.

Got up at eight in the latest futile gesture to keep the house cool: Mom is scared about being alone and wants all the windows closed at night. So as always at night, I closed them except in my room and the bathroom (which is up high). Got up to open some of the windows. She had just finished in the bathroom and I helped her take her first pill. At ten when the nurse called she came to the door of my room and she took the next pill, and her heart pill.

I went back to sleep until eleven and the Mass came on television. I watched, but she dozed through most of it. Again she used the bathroom and the situation deteriorated again. And I can't blame it on a fever this time. I finally said I needed to use the bathroom and she complained that I was tricking her (I was, partially, but I needed it, too), but she did get up.

Tried to get her to eat breakfast, but she just sat on the sofa and told me to leave her alone. So I did. I'm watching second season of Monk and trying to "maintain an even strain."

Flourish

» Saturday, June 11, 2005
Some Good News
...as they say on the Geico commercial: House comes to DVD on August 30. More at The Doctor Makes a House Call. Thanks to Rodney for the heads up.

Flourish

It's been an elevator kind of day, if you know what I mean. The percoset and especially the new med (Gaba-something) did help and Mom was able to speak with the nurse. This afternoon she washed up on her own. She didn't eat an especial lot today, but did have a dish of ice cream she enjoyed. The fever did go away and she's been cooperative about her pills.

We did have one scare: my Aunty Ella and her daughter Janice came to visit for a while. When they left I fixed supper, the same spaghetti and pork Mom enjoyed last week, but she only ate a few mouthfuls. Finally, she confessed to me what was wrong: she was having chest pains! I called Hospice immediately and the triage nurse said to have her take a nitroglycerin tablet (Mom has had angina problems). The pain lessened and the nurse said to call back if the pain got worse or didn't go away. Mom said it went away after she ate the ice cream. I wondered if it was just because she was hungry.

But I can't believe she didn't tell me!

I'm doing okay/not okay in fits and starts. I didn't get much sleep last night and have been exhausted all day. I had to play hostess while my aunt and cousin were here and didn't seem to find any time to talk with James. And when I did I had a crying fit; I can't tell if there's something wrong with me or the heat is just clobbering me and making me feel so bizarre. Tonight while I was eating I could feel a panic attack building and I had to beat it down while looking normal. I was shaky after the chest pain scare as well.

I think the uncertainty of Mom's condition is starting to wear on me. One hour she can be horrible, the next okay, tonight she's been particularly alert for a while. I don't know what tomorrow will bring and it worries me; like this morning I wasn't able to lift her into the bed.

Flourish

It's already a bad day. Mom woke at six complaining of the pain; I found her in the bathroom. She was so shaky it was all I could do to get her into the hospital bed. This, I realize, is a liability; with the fans on I cannot hear her call unless I stay in the kitchen. I had a little bit more sleep between six and eight-thirty, but it didn't seem to help much. I'm sleepy and woozy and the heat has given me stomachaches; it's already 81°F although it's not too bad in here; I found another fan and also opened the windows in the attic so the hot air wouldn't pile up.

The nurse is here so I have to go.

Flourish

» Friday, June 10, 2005
Respite Redux
Mom did have supper (although...all together now...I overcooked the chicken and she ate mostly salad; since the radiation treatments everything is dry for her—sigh, I never claimed I was a good cook, or a cook at all) and has continued to take her pills. She enjoyed the ice cream we had for dessert; that feels good in her mouth. (Now if I could only find something meaty and nourishing that is also cold!) The Percoset makes her a little fuzzy but that is to be expected. We have gone back to the cold water compresses on her eye, which is still weeping but at this time not as much as before.

I've no illusions that just because this was a pretty good day that there will not be more bad days. But I am hoping if we can get home, I will at least have James for a bulwark—and I'll have a comfortable bed and somewhere cool where I'm not afraid of my heart palpitating (and if it does my doctor is nearby). Maybe I can work out something about work, too. Maybe they could let me telework. The Government is really pushing it, but PGO has not picked up on it at all.

Flourish

Respite
I was really afraid for Mom last night. Her mouth was all dry, but she had slid down into a position on the sofa where she couldn't drink from the glass, even with a straw, without spilling water all over her. And she was so hot.

The fever appears to have broken and she has been brighter this morning if not quite alert, which is expected since she really hasn't had a decent meal in days. She has downed a half bottle of Boost, two glasses of water, and all of her pills—she took the regular ones for me, but would not take the pain medication until Wendy (the lady from hospice) talked her into it. She's also used the bathroom and let me bathe her eye. Temperatures make her crazy, almost literally. She never got fevers until she was well into her 70s and the few times she has had a fever over 101°F she has ended up in the hospital after passing out.

Wendy is actually still looking optimistic about her getting to come back home with me. She says we can get special assists at the airport, but Mom needs to take her meds regularly and get stronger. I wish she would do as well with me as she does with Wendy, or Lynn (the regular nurse), or even my cousin Debbie. She seems reluctant to do things for me. Maybe it's because even at my age she still thinks of her as the "Mom" and me as the child? It is a puzzle and a problem.

It is cool right at the moment with a nice breeze, but it won't stay this way once the sun comes out. I hate the sun. It sucks every bit of energy from me.

Flourish

» Thursday, June 09, 2005
Bad Day
Mom's been terrible all day. Tonight she wouldn't take any of her meds. She couldn't tell me why and kept saying I was bugging her. The hospice nurse said there was really nothing I could do if she didn't want to take them, but she was hurting so much. She was sitting at the kitchen table for hours—she said she was hungry but then when I served her the soup she just sat there staring at it—rubbing her head. There was one pill the doctor prescribed today that he was hoping would help the pain in her eye, but she just would not take it. She wouldn't even let me take her temperature; she said she already had something under her tongue today. I finally called my cousin Debbie. Debbie managed to get her to take some of them, and also steered her back onto the sofa.

I feel so damn helpless. I expected her to be in pain. I didn't expect her to be irrational about taking her medications. She's had to take medicine all her life, for her heart and her arthritis. I know she is old and in pain, but it doesn't make sense.
I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.
The Fool. That's me, all right.

"Heroism consists in hanging on one minute longer..."

Flourish

As the Spit Turns
Really no change here. I'm...coping. The heat is making me utterly miserable, even with all the windows open and the ceiling fans running full blast. (It now boggles my mind that I grew up without these fans; how did I breathe?) I got so light-headed while making dinner last night that I was crying (it scared Mom so I quit) and finally had to run to take a cold shower. I took two yesterday.

As for Mom...well, it goes. The nurse says it is okay for her not to eat, but to at least try to get her to drink and perhaps have a Boost once a day. They have doubled the dose on her pain patch and are willing to give her liquid morphine if that (or the added Percoset) doesn't help the pain. I need to go pick it up (and shop for some groceries), but I hate to leave her alone and hate to bother my cousin Debbie since she is busy working (she and her husband have their own business, so you bet they're busy) and helping take care of both her mother and dad. I'd rather go when it's cooler anyway. Maybe my godmother can come by.

I suspected it anyway when I saw the moles on her back, but the nurse told me this afternoon that the cancer has metatastized into her lungs. Still hurts to hear it aloud. She doesn't know.

Flourish

» Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Masks
Sometimes I feel like I've been acting all my life. I feel like Eliot's Prufrock:
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
Always had to put on a face to meet those faces. Sometimes I'm not even sure if anyone's ever seen the real me.

And now I have to keep acting...

Flourish

Temperature's Rising
It's 85°F right now (feels like 86); it really shouldn't be this hot here in June (especially since it was rainy and in the 50s before I showed up). The saving grace is that the humidity has gone down to 48 percent and there's a nice wind whipping off the ocean. By the time it gets inland here it's a little warmed over, but it still helps cool. Can't wait for the sun to go down so it will get cooler; have I mentioned lately how much I hate Daylight Savings Time?

Mom woke up complaining of aching bones even in the new bed with the air mattress; turns out she had a slight fever of 100.3°F. I gave her two Tylenol immediately and by the time Lynn the nurse came at 2:30, she was back down to normal again. But the eye was paining her terribly. She wouldn't take even half a Percoset for me, but she took a whole one for Lynn. Sigh. Of course it puts her right to sleep: she has a choice of being in horrible pain or being asleep. What a choice.

I don't know what we'll have for dinner. Nothing I can cook seems to strike her appetite, which is almost nil anyway. James is the cook in the family; he can even make me like meatloaf, which I have always despised. I'm not hungry anyway, from the heat. I feel like I'm being slow-roasted on a spit. I want to get Mom down there where he can feed her properly and I can be cool, but I don't know if I can do it without help. The airport's such a bear these days.

I don't think either of them read this blog, but I want to thank Juanita and Jessie for the package they sent me; especially Jessie for her thoughtful gesture.

Flourish

» Monday, June 06, 2005
"Oh, No...Not Again."
It was nice and cool today, but it's going to get warm again. Gah.

I took care of the little pests in the driveway this morning. While I was spraying a priest came from our church to give Mom Communion. He didn't stay very long—it was like a hit and miss Communion; at least Sister Annette stayed awhile and talked!

Later the guys from the hospice delivered the hospital bed. It has a lovely air mattress that massages as you sleep in it. If Mom doesn't want to sleep on it, I will; it felt wonderful on my aching back when I tried it out. Made it up so it looked nice, with pretty flowered sheets and blue blankets.

She's been in a lot of pain this afternoon, enough to take half a Percoset early in the evening along with a Tylenol. She managed to focus on most of part one of The Lost Prince, though, and then we ended up watching Two and a Half Men, which had its cute moments.

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Errata
I understand that since the Tylenol scare years ago that medical manufacturers make sure their products are resistant to tampering. But for cryin' out loud, do they also realize that a lot of these products are used by elderly people who have motor limitations? Every time I open a bottle of Boost for my mom it drives me nuts and I'm only 49; I think about the folks that don't have help. Would it kill the Boost people to put a damn tab on the foil seal covering the bottle mouth? I have to stab the fool thing with a knife to get it off. That can't be safe for people of any age with shaky hands.

There's an "aestheic dentistry" physician who advertises here, showing people who have had their teeth fixed for cosmetic purposes. One gentleman and one older lady I can understand—he was missing teeth and she had protruding incisors—but the rest of them had just regular old teeth. When you saw them later they were all chatting about how they smile more and aren't ashamed and I can't figure why! They had perfectly good teeth and now they all have the same teeth, a solid slab of artificially white...white. It looks so fake. They like having fake-looking teeth?

Couldn't believe the story on Inside Edition which told about a woman who got tired of looking for "Mr. Right" and went around the world to find 80 men. Something clicked with #35. But pray tell me, here in the 21st century, why a woman has to find "Mr. Right"? I'm not being misanthropic...I just think it's stupid. Guys shouldn't have to go on a desperate search for "Ms. Right," either.

And speaking of fictional stupid, can I thwack Chloe on Days of Our Lives? I don't know all the back story to this (these are Mom's soaps), but this dip Chloe got her face scarred in some sort of accident in which her boyfriend Brady thought she died. She pretended she died so Brady wouldn't have to see her "damaged." She was afraid he wouldn't want her because she was ugly. Wake up and smell the coffee, sweetie. If he really loves you, he won't care. If he does care he's a sorry ass and you need to go find a real man and not one who just cares for your body.

Flourish

» Sunday, June 05, 2005
The Unexpected
On Room by Room, Matt Fox and Shari Hiller are always talking about putting something "unexpected" in a room to draw interest.

Early in the afternoon, Mom got collected enough to say "Let's go for a ride," just as we always did on Sundays, so we did. I made a quick stop at Lowe's to get some Ortho (the ants are setting up condominiums on Mom's driveway).

I had intended to go out to Riverside, where I used to work, and perhaps out to where Crescent Park [amusement park] used to be; there's also a little area along the parkway which would have been a cooling place to park for a while and overlook the Providence River. But Cranston Street was blocked where they are demolishing the old trolley barn and there was a detour.

(I think it's a shame no one has ever been able to save this structure; they have been trying to do something with it for years. It was a sturdy, once-beautiful brick structure with clerestory windows and unexpected towers, made to last when it was built back in 1900. There have been various plans for it: shopping center, mixed business, loft apartments, etc., but none ever came to fruition. A fire several weeks ago ended any hope of salvage and now the once-majestic thing is being torn down. Sigh. For an ugly concrete-and-neon strip shopping center with a nail place, a Chinese restaurant, a Mexican restaurant, and a phone store, I'm sure.)

So we ended up on Route 10 and downtown, which I drove around for nostalgia's sake, although there's a big empty spot in my heart for the big empty space that was once the Outlet Company, and then I went up College Hill and past my old allergist's and Thayer Street, where I used to like to go to the Brown Book Store. I kept following the signs for I-195 and finally got on the freeway—but more east of the Riverside exit. So we were heading for Fall River despite my best efforts.

One thing I figure is that you shouldn't argue with God.

The moment you round the curve after Somerset and enter Fall River, the big green expanse of the Braga Bridge is straight ahead of you, with the city of Fall River spread out to the east. And sitting on the highest elevation with the green patina of its spires is St. Anne's Church. You couldn't miss it if you tried.

Inside it is as beautiful an old Catholic church that ever existed: wooden pews, ceiling that goes up to the sky, walls painted with murals of St. Anne and other Biblical scenes, statues of other saints (mostly French; it was started as a French church), a hugh pipe organ and choir loft, balconies, and several chapels in the rear, and warm with the scent of old wood, furniture polish, incense and wax candles. Even on hot summer days like today—it was 89°—with the front doors open it is always cool and peaceful. It was intensely comforting and Mom just loved it. We lit some candles, said some prayers, went to the lower church and prayed at the altar of St. Anne. Unfortunately there was no priest there, so we couldn't have a Mass said.

The nice times always end. We had Chinese for supper; it came up on me. It's hot and no thunderstorm in sight. Damn weather.

Flourish

Hot, Hot, Hot
I can't help it. I don't function well in hot weather anyway, and have had problems ever since I had my thyroid out, but the menopause makes it worse. When I get too warm I get light-headed, and all but one time that I had palpitations it did it when I was very warm (the other time was my fault; I had a jamoca shake at Arby's—I know I can't have caffiene).

Mom's eye is still seeping fluid and blood; we had the hospice nurses here yesterday afternoon and they seemed to take it in stride, so I am assuming this is a natural progression of the cancer. Unless she is bleeding heavily there's no reason to go to the emergency room; we will just sit there all afternoon and they don't understand what's going on. Tomorrow morning I will call Dr. Koness' office to confirm; if not we can go in.

She is eating, on and off: she ate all the watermelon I gave her last night and half of the spaghetti she picked out (we had macaroni and some quick spaghetti sauce I whipped up by taking half a jar of Classico no-sugar-added tomato and basil and simmering the leftover pork chops in it for about three hours) and also a bowl of cereal this morning. The eye hurts. If I ask her to take the pain medication, she says "Not now, the pain's not so bad," and then ten minutes later I hear her crying out in pain. Sigh.

I've washed another load of clothes but now I'll have to fold them on my bed. Skippy came over late yesterday afternoon and had my old bed apart in a trice and it's all down cellar. Unfortunately, he came over too late; the guys had already tried to deliver the hospital bed. They will set up but not knock down, so I had to send them away; they are supposed to be back tomorrow morning. Drives me crazy.

(Gah. No wonder I could never sleep well on that bed; you should have seen the mattress when Skippy was manuevering downstairs—it kept getting stuck because it was folding up on itself, which was how little support it had.)

To keep entertained I am depending heavily on PBS, but it's "begathon" and hard to watch. WGBH has endless showings of Ask This Old House, which I at least like. I learned how to fix a scald-guard shower handle this morning. [wry grin] Channel 38 also had a cool special called Discoverers this afternoon. They talked about the discovery of the Altamira cave paintings, showed dolphins being taught to recognize sentence structure, and had a report with a guy who is studying the aurora borealis. It's still "Borg-ized," but WSBK is still pulling me out of the fire, since stupid WXIA in Atlanta has stuck Jeopardy in the afternoon because they have to show an extra half hour of news for the poor slobs caught in traffic. James and I watch Jeopardy on WSBK instead, which gives me a chance to see my favorite commercial: the horde of little leprechauns invading the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut.

I'm keeping an eye on the sky. It's supposed to rain and—please God!—get cooler.

Flourish

» Saturday, June 04, 2005
Looking forward to The Complete Calvin and Hobbes in October:

Calvin and Hobbes sleeping

Flourish

I'll Have Some Cheese With It, Please
The hospice nurses have been here (two for the price of one this morning). They did a thorough exam, actually persuaded Mom to take a Percoset, and ordered a hospital bed because they don't want her sleeping on the sofa. (She says the eye hurts worse when she lies down.) Not sure when it will come, but my cousin Skippy is coming over later to get the other bed out of the bedroom. I've already stripped it. He can chunk the darn thing if I have anything to say about it (but it will probably land up in the cellar or the attic). I used to sleep in it and always hated it. It creaked and squealed and squeaked and because the mattress didn't fit into the frame properly the bedrails always fell out. I never felt it was my bed anyway. My bed had a bookcase headboard and I kept cracking my head against it when I was little so they bought this one and gave my bed to my cousin.

Mom is napping now and I am sitting here resisting the urge to scream, get in the car, and just go. I take my hat off to anyone who is a longtime caregiver like my cousins or folks like Brenda on alt.recovery.clutter: you are the bravest people in the world. I have been here for a week and I want to be here to take care of Mom but I feel like I'm in the world's biggest rat trap. I've had all my props kicked from under me and sometimes I just can't cope without going off and crying. I don't have James, I don't have Pidge, I don't have Willow, I don't have my books, I'm stuck listening to suck-ass broadcast television (I swear if I see one more reality show promo I am going to heave one of the end tables through the screen; I haven't seen anything more mind-numbingly stupid in my life—it makes me long for wretched twaddle like My Mother the Car and It's About Time), I'm hot and sweaty and tired of eating oatmeal and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches but don't know what I want to eat, and here as I'm sitting in the chair in the living room I just killed an ant. It probably came in on the newspapers the nurses brought in but it's just one more tiny annoyance—I can't seem to escape the damn little buggers no matter where I go. I'd probably attract ants in Antarctica.

And now I've thoroughly bored everyone out there with my damn whining. Serves me right.

Flourish

» Friday, June 03, 2005
Friday Five

* What things did you enjoy as a child that you no longer do?

Go downtown and go in all the nice old department stores (the Outlet and Shepard's) and the five-and-tens (Woolworth's and Newberry's and Grant's) and the paperback bookstore on Weybosset Street and the Read-All. Everything's gone. There's just another stupid mall with the same old stupid stores as everywhere else and those creeps at Johnson & Wales turned the Outlet into a stupid lawn. Going to Massachusetts sometimes to see my aunts and uncles. Going to Papa's house on Saturday mornings. Watching good stuff like Fury and Lassie and Wild Kingdom (with Marlin Perkins) and The Littlest Hobo on TV. Going for a ride on Sunday afternoons, down to the beach or to Diamond Hill or out to Highland Orchards. Drink Eclipse or Zarex lemon-lime syrup in water when it got hot. Ride my bike. Go out and sniff the lilacs when they bloomed even if they did give me an allergy attack.

* What things did you enjoy as a child that you still do today?

Have Del's Lemonade and doughboys when I am visiting at home. Go on vacation.

* What things do you do now, that the child you were never thought you'd like?

Play on a computer. (But then when I was a kid computers were something you had to have an A+ in math to work with.)

* If you could go back to one age and stay there for a while, what would it be?

Like Lucinda Wyman, I'd love to be ten forever (well, except for fractions; I hated fractions).

* If you could fast forward to an age (you do get to come back!) for a while, what would it be?

Fast forward? Hell, I'm creaky and old enough now. Maybe after retirement when I won't ever have to see a stupid purchase order ever again.

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The Ayes Have It?
Visited mom's doctor today. He is so nice. He said the eye does not look worse than the last time he saw it and was very encouraging about her being able to come home with me. He said he would write any prescriptions we needed.

We came home afterwards to have lunch, but she didn't eat much. The hospice nurse came around one and she was just leaving when the police showed up. Don't panic: they were supposed to. Remember how Mom had her car stolen twice within two weeks several months ago? Well, they wanted her to sign a report about the second time. The perp is coming up to trial next week and they want all their ducks in a row against him. The creep also robbed a convenience store (not at the same time he stole the car).

After everyone left we went to the bank and had my name put on her accounts. It will take 48 hours for me to be able to enable online banking. But this means I can pay bills without having to worry about checks, or cousin Debbie can do it if I give her access. And we made a stop at Walgreen's for some new medication.

During supper I noticed the gap between Mom's eyelids looked a bit wet. I was even more upset when the wet looked pink. She has had discharge from the eye before, but never with blood in it. I called the hospice nurse and they sent someone over; in the meantime they told me to bathe it with saline solution. The nurse came over and checked the eye out, but didn't see anything horribly wrong. She did note a raw spot right next to the eye (Mom bumped her face on the fringe of one of the sofa pillows) and thought it might be leaking into the gap between the eyelids (the eye is swollen shut) Mom also had a slight fever, so the nurse talked her into taking a Tylenol and half a Percoset and said someone would call tomorrow morning and for me to call if the fever got worse.

I have felt her forehead just now and it seems cooler. Of course the Percoset has made her a bit sleepy, too.

Flourish

» Thursday, June 02, 2005
Re-shod and "Tard"
Mom had another bad morning, to the point where I talked her into having another half a Percoset. In the meantime I washed and dried a load of clothes.

I called up the tire place my cousin recommended and explained my predicament. Instead of just telling me to come in and wait, he gave me an "appointment" (when they wouldn't be busy). I got out in a half hour, which included a walk to Benny's. (Benny's is kind of a RI thing; it started out as a hardware store. Like Wall Drugs out west and Topsy, "it growed." Basically it's still a hardware store, with more stuff: crafts things, kids' toys, puzzles, small appliances, cleaning supplies, small furniture, bicycles, pool supplies, kitchen gadgets, etc. A few of them have tire centers.) I stocked up on screen patch kits since, with the purchase of the new HVAC system, we ain't getting new windows any time soon, and I'll be damned if I'm going to spend $$$ on new screens and just get 'em again when we can finally afford the windows. I have searched in Lowe's, Home Depot, and even a real neighborhood hardware store at home and never seen these stick-on screen patches; they only have ones for metal screens, not plastic (or whatever the fool things are) ones.

Mom and I went shopping afterwards, but the toll of not eating enough yesterday made her feel a little shaky and we came home after hitting Stop'n'Shop.

Flourish

» Wednesday, June 01, 2005
Muzak, Anyone?
If my life has a score right now, it's elevator music because of the ups and downs. ::sigh::

We had another one of those days that started out hopefully and has deteriorated badly. I did get Mother to eat some Rice Krispies this morning, although she said I was nagging her. At eleven, Wendy from Social Services came over. We discussed what the hospice could do if I wanted to take Mom home with me for a while and tried to get some closure on the DNR/living will business but it never was quite settled. But Wendy did seem to think it was a good idea.

Just after she left the hospice folks sent a Sister over; she is one of the hospice chaplains. She and Mom had a long talk while I cleaned the kitchen and then went in the bedroom and read a St. Nicholas; I figured this was a private spiritual moment and I kept out of it. Mom also had Holy Communion.

I had called the doctor this morning to get a refill on Mom's pain patches, but because they are narcotics, they can't call in the prescription. So we had to drive up to the doctor's office to get them. Instead of going through the "front," which is shorter, but has more lights and is more city streets, I went through the "back," down Plainfield Pike past Neutaconkanut Hill (darn, it was a lot higher when I was younger) and through Killingly Street and Fruit Hill Avenue where I cut through my old alma mater, Rhode Island College, to get to the doctor's office.

(I got a heck of a shock as we passed a vacant lot on Killingly: they had torn down my grandfather and grandmother's—Mom's parents—house, the one they lived in from 1949 to when they both died in 1963. I also asked my mom, when we got to what is now her doctor's office and the hospice, what did this building used to be? It is brick, obviously very old, with towers and a bas relief on the front of what I thought was a Madonna and Child. It was, in a way; it's a mother and child. Mom pointed to the front door, and said, "See that, two floors up and three windows over? That's where I had you." So this was the old "Lying-In," before they built the newer one closer to Rhode Island Hospital and then renamed in more in style with the times, "Woman and Infants Hospital.")

So we picked up the prescription, then went across the street to Newport Creamery and had ice cream again (hey, any way that I can get food into her). Then, since we were so close to Roger Williams Hospital anyway, we went to see my cousin Anna. If I hadn't mentioned it before, Anna was admitted to the hospital last Saturday with a blood clot and an infection in her leg. Poor woman doesn't have enough to go through. She also had surgery last week and it wasn't healing properly, probably a combination of her diabetes and the blood thinners they have her on for the clot, so the doctor had to open up the incision and fix something. She's also anemic.

Mom sat and talked to her for a while while I relaxed and read Gladys Taber. I had to bring some books for emotional support; it was a tossup what I should bring, since when I am feeling emotionally drained I usually rely on Madeleine L'Engle's nonfiction. But I tried to keep the weight down and brought my Gladys Taber paperbacks instead. Taber writes such prose poetry about country living that it is a warm and comforting verbal blanket.

We then went by Walgreen's. The hospital corridors were long and Mom was tired out by the time we got home. We sat for a while and I finally made some soup. I don't know if it was just the vagaries of the tumor or we just did too much, but she started complaining about the pain again, to the point of tears. I pleaded with her to take a Percoset, or even half a Percoset, but she refused, and it was all I could do to get her to take some Tylenol. I swore to her that if she took the Percoset I would keep a close eye on her, but she wouldn't do it.

So I'm basically sitting here in the mostly dark so she can sleep and am watching stuff on PBS.

(Funny, I just went to our web page to look up a link. I have a javascript dingus at the top that rotates a different quote every time you reload the page. The one that came up when I loaded the page was Father Mulcahy's closing words from the M*A*S*H episode "Dear Sis": "It doesn't matter whether you feel useful or not when you're moving from one disaster to another. The trick, I guess, is to just keep moving." Ain't that the truth?)

Flourish