12 July, 2016

Hoppin' Madness

...along came a man by the name of Charlie Mops/ and he invented a wonderful drink and he made it out of hops.....

Yesterday, the dog food was in the refrigerator. Today it was in the dog dishes on the floor in the kitchen. It's a warped life when normal looks odd.

Extremely Athletic Sister said today that Mother was on a tear about people lying to her and stealing from her. She said she didn't inquire, just redirected. Because from Mother's perspective, we did steal her dog and lied about taking the car to the mechanic.

When I arrived to share a beer, she pulled out that loop on me. Since she'd been spoiling for it all day, I went ahead and gave her an argument.

I gave her an argument.

She told me I was patronizing. I told her that her perception of her abilities and her actual abilities did not match, and that I could list examples all she liked, but she wouldn't believe me, and wouldn't remember, and then wouldn't remember later that I'd listed things for her.

And then I changed my tone, and we weren't arguing anymore.

I wasn't invested in the actual argument; I know I can't win. She can't, either, but if she wanted a good grouseabout, it's no skin off my nose.

She drank about half of the Natty Boh I poured into her glass, which was about half the can. I drank the other half, and then the rest of hers when she passed it to me.

I'm'a have beer with her again tomorrow.

Yes, I think I will.

Traditional Irish; Beer Beer Beer

11 July, 2016

Sedimentary Revelations

...memories/ light the corners of my mind/ misty, water-coloured memories....

I've compared the progress of the disease to sedimentary rock in a sandstorm, with the sand gradually wearing away the recent layers, destroying the rock formation, but in the process, revealing forgotten nuggets of information, memory, personal history.

"When I was a girl, there were places on the streetcar for white people to sit, and black people sat in another area. Same with the busses, everywhere. When I took a trip to New York City to visit an aunt, I saw a man and a woman, black and white, walking hand in hand. I had never seen that before. You didn't see it, not in the South."

My mother was born in 1944.

This one is more personal, and to do with Mason jar coffee.

"My mother used to carry her coffee with her in little bottles everywhere. She didn't make it, one of the maids did, but she'd carry it in glass bottles when we were away from home. We were on vacation, at a restaurant, and she ordered milk, and asked them to heat it up. And they would, you know. So the waitress comes with the hot milk on a tray. Meanwhile, my mother has poured coffee from the bottle in her bag into her cup that was on the table. So when this waitress pours hot milk into my mother's cup, all this dark stuff swirls up from the cup and wasn't she astonished, like a magic trick. Her face was very surprised."

I'm going to catch as many of these time capsules as I can manage, like ancient Pokemons of the mind. Now THERE's a Fixed Point event for you; it's been just 4 days since the Big Release of Go.

Barbara Streisand; The Way We Were 

10 July, 2016

Absurdness Normalized

...teach me how to be sensible/ logical, responsible, practical/ and they showed me a world where I could be so dependable/ clinical, intellectual, cynical.....

Four days ago:

When Extremely Athletic Sister comes in, talking to herself, except she isn't, she's on the phone, I beckon her to peek in the microwave.

In one of the divided dishes EAS got for meals-on-wheels- esque prepared suppers that we've been doing for her is....dry dog food. In the microwave.

I do not understand this. I do not expect to understand this. What I want right now is for someone else to not understand it with me.

EAS peeks. Her face crumples into a bulldog frown- I've always loved my sister's expressive face- and it tilts to the side a little. She waves arms and hands in a "What is this new madness?" gesture.

Mission accomplished. I am satisfied. I shrug at her and she, still frowning, wanders away, talking, listening.

Yesterday, via text, Extremely Athletic Sister to me:

         Discovered why mom puts the dog food in the microwave

And there is a longish pause. For suspense, I guess. 

        To keep the flies off of it
        Aha. Except not really.
               Since she keeps dog poo on the porch. And ties the screen door open.

    That kind of logic doesn't work here.

Damn straight it doesn't.

Supertramp; The Logical Song

08 July, 2016

Girl Scout

...any way you want to eat them it's / impossible to beat them/ but bananas like the climate/ of the very,
very tropical equator.....

She has an appointment at ten. Sister intends to arrive at nine, be at the office at nine thirty. It's eight thirty and she's not answering her phone. I drive over at 8:45, finally reaching her over the phone.

"I'm just going to take the dogs for a quick walk, just up the block and back, and then I'll jump in the shower and become clean, dried and dressed." I hear her, but I don't believe her.

I arrive, and the shower is running. I pull two gowns from her closet and leave them on her bed, then head downstairs to make some preparations. She's not going to have time for second or third breakfast, and I hope she's had first breakfast already.

Excerpt from the Jackie's World document I created for the person Mother calls "the babysitter."

Schedule, such as it is:Jackie thinks she wakes up early in the morning, by six-thirty or seven, so we’re going to let her go on thinking that, okay? She is almost always up before eight, though, and letting dogs out, giving them breakfast and having her grapefruit half. (note: the dogs do wake her up to be let outside between 6-6:30 but she will often go back to bed)

Breakfast comes in 4 parts: Grapefruit halfHavarti cheese and half a pearCoffee and crossword puzzlesTwo eggs and toast or English muffin

She doesn’t always get to all four of these parts, but can become agitated if any one part is missing. I think she phoned me 3 times in the amount of time it took me to get from my home to the grocery to her home, because she was out of grapefruit. I live ten minutes from her neighborhood, and the grocery is five minutes away from her. So. No more running out of grapefruit.

The most often skipped bit is the eggs and toast. She’s crabbier if she doesn’t eat eggs, but she doesn’t always feel hungry.
After Breakfast 1-3, she’s ready for her shower, if she has somewhere to go. She’s pokey about getting into the shower, but once there, washing and dressing (and doing hair and makeup!) takes maybe 20 minutes. If I put a clean outfit on her bed, she’ll choose a clean shirt and pants from the folded ones on top of her dresser. If I don’t put an outfit on the bed, she’ll put on whatever is on top of her dresser, which might be clean shirts and pants, but often is the clothes she took off last night. I try to put her already worn clothes into the laundry hamper, but I’m not always speedy enough to get to the dresser before she does.

If there’s time before we go out to our comings and goings, she has eggs. I offer her water and vitamins around now, if she hasn’t had them already. She likes the gummy vitamins very much.

She thinks she’s been making the coffee that’s in her carafe, but she hasn’t. I brew it in a ceramic cone and a mason jar, because I don’t understand that stupid little coffeemaker of hers.

"I don't eat the crossword puzzle," she always argues, but it doesn't matter whether she EATS it or not. If she NEEDS it for her good morning, it's part of her complete breakfast.

While she's in the shower, I'm in the kitchen. I found her newspaper. She's called three days in a row, claiming her paper isn't being delivered, asking me to get one for her. I don't know why she thinks she's not getting one. The paper I bought for her on Monday, I found two copies of on Tuesday. Tuesday's paper was on the table. It's Thursday. I unwrap the paper, fold it so the crossword is exposed, grab a pencil, tuck it in my bag. I peel a hard boiled egg, put it in a container, get a small container for salt and pepper, moisten some paper towels, fetch a plastic container of melon from her fridge. Everything goes into the Jackie Bag.

Sister arrives as I'm prepping, talking on the phone. Some very important work thing. Most of her work seems to be about phone calls and meetings. I don't really understand what she does. Whatever it is, it pays a lot better than what I do, which is take care of Mother, write, perform and work at the school or flower shop when I can.

I go to the car to get a gift I bought for Sister while I was on a tiny four-day vacation with my family, find a bottle of water and take it with me to tuck into the Jackie Bag.

"I'll be ready when I'm ready," she snaps, coming downstairs in a floral sundress, snatching her grapefruit half from the fridge. She roots through her silverware drawer, hunting.

"It's probably in the refrigerator," Sister offers.

"What is?" snarls Mother.

"You're looking for the grapefruit knife, aren't you?"

I fetch all three of them from the cheese drawer, where they appear to live now. Aha! This explains the frequent appearance of half the contents of her silverware drawer on the counter. She looks for the knife, gets frustrated, decides to have pear and cheese, and finds the grapefruit knives when she opens the cheese drawer. And the flatware doesn't put itself away in the drawer.

At the table, Mother mangles her grapefruit half, stuffing sections into her face. I hand her a cup of hot coffee, sit down opposite her, calmly, while Sister opens her gift.

"Your gift is in the fridge. I brought fudge for you. You had some last night, for dinner, I think."

"Sounds like dinner to me!" She brightens as she eats her fruit.

Once we've packed ourselves into the car and she finishes the cup of coffee, I begin offering breakfast items.

"I peeled an egg, would you like it?"

"Wow, an already-peeled egg, what luxury." She takes it. I pass the smaller container with salt and pepper, thinking she'll dip the egg. No, she sprinkles the spice onto the egg.

"Here, I have this container- you could sprinkle over that, instead of over your lap."

"It's a black and white dress. It won't show." She takes the plastic dish.

Next, I offer the banana, then take the peel, put it in the container that had the egg, offer a wet towel, then the bottled water.

"What a Girl Scout," my sister observes. No, these are skills left over from my diaper bag days. But I keep those words on the inside of my teeth. No need to point out what Sister has never done, or equate my mother, right in front of her, to a small child.

It does make me ponder, though, about how nobody bats an eye when one straps a human being into a seat, then ignores the resultant screaming with an indulgent smile, and it's all perfectly legal, as long as that human being is under three feet tall.

Elsa Miranda; The Chiquita Banana Song, 1945

18 June, 2016

Gradual Progression

...I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker/ and in short, I was afraid...

I went. It was fine. Pugsley helped.

Okay, I'm going to Muzzy's now. Do you want to come with me?

"Do you want me to come with you?"

It would be nice to have your company.

"Okay, let me get my wallet. We can have snowballs afterward."

With Muzzy, or without her?

"Either way."

He is a good human. We arrive and he plops on her sofa. I fiddle with food for her, cut in half the half a turkey sandwich on a plate inside a bread bag in her fridge, cut a few chunks off the mostly-dead pear on the plate in the cheese drawer with two paring knives and a grapefruit knife, put some grapes on it. Give it to her while I heat chicken-lentils and rice with green beans. She eats the sandwich and pears, a few of the grapes. I bring the warm food. She takes the pills I give her, complaining that she's likely to rattle. She pats the dog and tells him what a good dog he is, even though he ignores her when she tells him to sit. She keeps getting up to check on the other dog, see what that noise is, hunt in the fridge.

Whatchoo want, Mama?

"Some protein. I've got nothing but carbs there."

She pulls something, brings it to the table.

You have protein. There's lentils and chicken with that rice. There's fried chicken in the fridge if you want it, though.

"What is this, pizza?"

Looks like your daughter's lasagna to me. Do you want me to heat it for you?

"No, it's fine."

She has a few bites of it, cold, then puts it, the few green beans she doesn't want and the plate of grapes in the fridge, uncovered, on top of the egg carton. I show her the plastic boxes of pancakes and sliced bananas I've made up for her. I didn't say anything about the last batch I did for her, but I spotted their plastic dishes in the sink, so I know she found and ate them.

Is it okay if I close this back door? The bugs are getting in again. I ordered a screen curtain for you, like we talked about- it should be here any day. 

"Okay, but the dogs want a walk, even though they've had four walks today, the greedy things."

I'll go with you. 

I unclip the two leashes from the giant palm-sized D ring that's attached to them, hand the pink one to her. I clip the young dog to his leash. She fusses with the D ring.

Could we leave that home this time? You don't need it.

"Why do I need to leave it?"

You hit me with it yesterday.

"No I didn't! Did I?"

Yeah, so if it's okay with you, I'd rather it stayed home.

"On purpose?"

Yes, you hit me on purpose. 

I don't show her the bruises.

Is it okay with you if I move these bags of dog poop off of the porch, maybe near the garage? It'll decrease the flies on your porch and in your house.

"Why am I keeping dog poop on the porch? That's stupid."

I shrug and move the planter that has newspaper bag filled with poo. I'll deal with them tomorrow.

Our walk goes without incident, though she wants to argue with me that several walks up to the corner and back at her toddler's pace are enough exercise for her year-and-a-half old 75-pound dog.

Well, if you're too tired to want to go all the way around the block, you can go back home with Winnie, and Panda and I will get a bit more exercise.

"No, I think I can manage a whole block."

Of course she can. When she began getting easily fatigued, needing to stop and rest, moving at half speed, I don't quite recall. I think maybe three years? It's hard to pinpoint. When we arrive home, I give her a deck of cards, lay out a Solitaire hand with a second one. She shuffles the cards once and sets them aside. She looks towards the sofa a little longingly, but Pugsley is snoozing on it. I think that sofa is covered in sleeping powder. Anyone who sits on it goes to sleep fairly quickly. I ask if she wants to get ready to go out with her friend Dottie.

"Well, no. The corpuscles just aren't feeling up to it. I'd better not."

You ought to phone her, then, before you go having any naps. 

"You're right. I should do that."

She does not move.

Would you like me to bring the phone to you?

"Yes, thank you. That would be nice."

She makes a call while I lose at Solitaire, leaves a message.

"Want me to vacate the sofa so you can have your nap, Muzzy?" comes Pugsley's voice from the other room when she presses the disconnect button.

"No, that's why I have two sofas!" she says, making her way into the living room.

"Okay, then we'll leave you to nap in peace," he says.

"You don't need to. I can nap no matter who's here."

Good to know, but we should go now. 

We give her kisses and exit, but after we've closed her back door against the bugs, we notice it open again.

"How did that damn dog get out?" Pugsley wonders.

Did we not close the door firmly?

"No, we did... look, Muzzy isn't napping, she's sitting on the porch."

Well, whatever. I don't even know anymore. Thank you for coming with me.

"Sure. What flavor snowball do you think would go nicely with marshmallow? You said I owed it to myself to at least try it."

And we discuss. With these few words, he sidetracks me from despair.

T. S. Eliot; The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

17 June, 2016

Medication Roulette

...let her under your skin/ then you begin to make it better....

I should have been there already.

I should have phoned already, probably twice.

I'll go, I will. I just can't, not yet.

It's not just that I'm sore (which I am) or that I don't know what to say (which I don't) or that I can pretend nothing happened and everything is fine (because I can't, and it isn't), but much more that I haven't forgotten, (though I'm fairly sure she has), I have almost but not quite forgiven, and that I don't trust her.

Do my bruises show? I can hide them; should I?

What do I say if she asks why I'm bruised?

How do I keep her from bringing the trowel with her every time we walk the dogs? (It wasn't the trowel this time, it was the metal part of the leash, but it could've been)

How do I feel if she doesn't notice the bruises?

When do I say, I can't handle this anymore?

Who needs to know? (So far, only Pugsley, who said, "Yeah, you should ice that." Much later he asked how I got it.)

The second medication is absurdly costly: $990 for a 90 day supply- the pharmacist called to warn me, because he said he'd almost fallen over when he saw the price; he'd knocked it down to 30 days' worth for $330- so we're making due for now with the samples from her neurologist's office.

Her first medication, which is supposed to slow progression of the disease, makes her irritable but alert, and (conversely) inclined to sleep more. The second medication, the expensive one which we added after a month, makes her pleasant and cheerful and sleepy. It came in a step-up pack, and she did gradually better with the increased dosage to a certain point. When she started being more sleepy than cheerful, I contacted her doctor to get a reduced dosage prescribed.

I went out of town for one day. Left at 10:30 in the morning, returned at 4:30 the next day. Called her, brought dinner to her. Walked the dogs. Didn't give pills to her. Did I leave some for Wednesday's dose? There weren't any there. Did her part-time helper give them to her, or did I not leave them in her pill box?

Last night I did the same, but she did get her pills. I made sure. Tonight I will do likewise. This may be entirely my fault.

Knowing that, strangely, doesn't make me feel better.

Beatles; Hey, Jude

24 May, 2016

Monday Morning

...feelings like I've never lost you/and feelings like I'll never have you/again in my heart....

She's taking more and more time to get ready for things, spending more and more time "examining the insides of her eyelids" and "holding down the sofa". She's happy, but blurry and out of focus.

We go out to the Honey Bee Diner for brunch after she teaches her yoga class. She's like a toddler, hungry every three hours or so, but not usually able to eat very much at one go.

Over pancakes, we discuss this and that. I try to play Hangman with her on the back of the placemat, but she doesn't remember how to play. I explain. She guesses O. I fill in an O.

What letter do you guess next?

"No, it's your turn to guess a letter. I guessed the last one."

She says it's hard to see the page. I ask why she didn't wear her new bifocals. She says she needs some new readers, as she can't find hers. I know why. Very Athletic Sister has removed most of them. I tell her we can go to the dollar store, but not for that.

"If you can't be bothered to take me to the dollar store for some new reading glasses, I'll ask a neighbor. Or I'll walk!"  As if that's a threat.

Of course I'd be happy to take you to the dollar store for anything you wish. But the dollar store readers don't help you. I say this because I've seen you with three pair of them stacked on your nose, and you asking me for the magnifying glass, which is right there on the table. 

We have this conversation two or three more times as she finishes eggs and bacon.

I distract her from eyewear, focus on her handbag. So we go instead to the Goodwill to shop for a small summer purse. I convinced her to let go of her threadbare denim one in December, I think, and now I tell her tweed isn't for spring and summer. We discuss how persistent February is this year, as today hardly seems springlike. I remind her of her mother, who used to keep many handbags in a doorhanger plastic sleeve, one bag for every three or four pair of shoes. I tell her we're not going to go overboard, but one bag for fall/winter and another for spring/summer is probably a reasonable thing. She agrees. We find also a pair of beige Crocs. I like that they have the heel strap. The sidewalks in her neighborhood conspire with her big dogs to make her stumble and fall. Her shoes do not need to become co-conspirators in her tumbles, the ones she swears she doesn't have.

We return to her home and she seems ready for a nap. I ask if it's okay if I take the dogs out for a walk while she gets started holding down the sofa. She agrees, but doesn't actually settle. When we three return, she's still dithering in the house. I give her kisses, fairly certain that once I leave, she'll lie down awhile. It is almost 2 pm. I arrived at 10 am. I try to imagine someone else doing things for and with my mother, having the morning with her that I have just had. I have several feelings wrap themselves into the folds of my brain, and am too weary to sort them just now. One that I can identify, however, is a sense of being left out. Another is relief. The anxiousness is understandable. There are at least three more, though, snarled in a bunch, that will require patience and maybe a pin to untease.

Morris Albert; Feelings