Thursday, September 28, 2006


After many phone calls and odd conversations (due to poor technology not emotionality ) with all the family who are involved (there will be 5 of them) I have decided to go to Italy. I can probably do more to help all of them once Dad is moved back into my brother's house.

Today they moved him out of the hospital and into the therapy care house where they expect him to stay for the next three weeks. He seems reasonably strong if somewhat confused. The pain is finally subsiding for a while. From my brother's description everyone was in extreme pain just watching him struggle from the chair to the bed. We have never seen my father in pain. He has always been a go with the flow kind of guy, so this is very upsetting for all of us. And, although he is 92, he has never been in a hospital except to stay with my mother who there many times. Really!

Old age is not for the weak of heart or mind.

With regard to the Italy trip, I will post some pictures or at least talk about the trip when I return. My daughter has planned this trip for her mother-in-law's 63rd birthday and asked me to be the partner in the crime. Her M.I.L. has never traveled much anywhere in her life and is afraid to fly on planes. We will ply her with liquor and laughter. Three silly woman. I hope that we do well. We are going on a truffle hunt and wine tour. That should be something to blog about.

I will miss my blogging buddies and wish I could take all of you. You would all add something unique and special to the trip. But instead, I will try to take you virtually.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Boynton Beach Bereavement Club (2005)

We had to leave the apartment for a dinner out and a movie last night since the managment told us the carpet cleaners were 'on the way" and had been delayed by a clean-up of a broken pipe. (They weren't and didn't! That is another story.)

Anyway we saw a movie that I had been hoping to catch sometime this month. Reviews, backgrounder and info can be found at Ronni's Guest Blogger entry at Times Goes By . Guest blogger did an extensive review of the movie, Boynton Beach Bereavement Club, which is about elders in a retirement community in Florida.

Anyway, the movie was very interesting in many ways but not all that compelling. The actors were all top flight folks and the dialogue was not all that bad although some of the jokes were predictable. The whole theme was about loneliness and love and in some cases sex among the elderly. It was pretty lite fare considering the lives of people in a retirement community are not that shallow. You won't see much of the younger family members either.

It is refreshing to see natural wrinkles and sags and real people on the big screen and maybe this will be the beginning of more movies like that.

I did find it painful to watch the actors who had filled their lips with collagen and tightened their faces so that they looked like perpetually smiling mannikins. The actors who had not were much more interesting to watch.

As an aside, I read an article recently which stated that Jane Fonda and Sally Fields had made a pact to not have plastic surgery.

Well, enough of this stupid blogging.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Bad Kharma

I am exhausted and really cannot continue anymore at this pace and with the type of news I am getting on the weekends. I actually think work will be easier than weekends!

Friday evening. Getting the spring and summer clothes out of the tiny apartment closet and exchanging them with the fall/winter clothes down at the house. (EVERYTHING going both directions appears to need spot cleaning or washing or mending or just throwing away--but no time now.)

Rushing to move all the furniture and loose and breakable stuff as the apartment management has promised a free carpet cleaning on Monday. I will not miss all the spots of my history this past year, but cannot do any cooking.

Loaded the car with STUFF. Stopped at Radio Shack and bought a battery charger for the phone that will work in Europe to prepare for my Friday departure to Italy. Visited my phone vendor and got them to set up international calling on the cell—setup is free but the calls are 99 cents a minute.

Called my sister to let her know I have the international service so we can arrange a meet up in Rome via cell after her week in France. Unloaded the car at the house and then tried to salvage the lawn with my husbands suggested tool of a pick axe, wheelbarrows full of top soil and handfuls of grass seed followed by armloads of straw. Setting many timers and many sprinkler moves was how I spent a long, dusty, and muddy Saturday afternoon outside.

In between times I swept away a hundred spider webs across each window and over each door. Hubby even shook out a spider from my tennis shoe which I had kicked off near the front door just 30 minutes before. The web across the mouth of the shoe caught his eye in the late afternoon sunlight and gave him the clue.

Sunday morning was spent hanging the bathroom mirrors…all four…which are VERY heavy. Husband and I had reached the point of yelling at each other because we could not seem to be able to successfully measure and complete the hanging in one try--both of us have graduate degrees mind you. We did achieve success with the the last mirror and that probably saved the marriage. Did laundry while waiting for a furniture delivery which never happened because the furniture truck broke down. Wrote the final punch list for the builder as I walked through all the rooms with pen in hand. Boiled and cleaned crabs for the freezer (husband's project).

Sunday Evening:
Driving home, and in the dark, unloaded the pile of winter clothes and boots and leftover food from the refrigerator. Vacuumed the apartment in preparation for the carpet cleaners, put clean sheets on the naked bed and then ate leftovers before falling into same dressed bed.

While Drifting to sleep in the eve and the phone rang. It was my daughter who told me that S.I.L. and baby brother in Colorado had been trying to reach me all weekend and left messages on my cell --- none of which I got. The quick jist: Dad fell on Saturday afternoon two steps into the sunken living room which resulted in breaking the ball joint in his hip. He was found shortly after the fall sitting up on the bottom step and continuing to eat the cookies which had been the motivation for the errand up the steps inthe first place. He claimed he had no pain but a trip to the hospital by ambulance was necessary.

Saturday night at the hospital they decided at first that there was no reason to do hip replacement on a 92-year-old. Then the nurse tells the doctors to look at the patient and evaluate him --- thank goodness someone thinks in that hospital. They decided he is in excellent health with more years ahead of him and proceeded to set up surgery on Sunday morning for a hip replacement. My daughter tells me that she was told surgery went very well and he does not appear to be in pain and they are going to get him up and walking on Monday morning. (It was after 11:00 at night by then, and of course, I had trouble falling asleep.)

Monday morning:
Here I sit in the office waiting for the Colorado morning time to call and see what is happening. Finished the call and all is as well as can be expected. They are not letting my sister know as she is in the middle of a week of gourmet classes in France and all of us feel she should enjoy her expensive vacation. (Wondering now if she will meet up with us in Italy or head on back.)

Called Dad this P.M. and between my bad cell connection, the hospitals 'iffy' phone, Dad's slurred speech due to drugs and his bad hearing, it was a most frustrating although sometimes funny phone call. He is in pain and discouraged. I gave second brother a pep talk about what lies ahead (had the same process with my M.I.L. when she came to visit years ago). I will call again Wednesday before I decide if I am going to cancel the Italy trip and lose all the money.

Oh, it is now 4:51 and no one has shown up to clean the carpets yet! Maybe this equinox thing is bad kharma.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

You Can Never Be Too Thin or Too Rich

And THIS just in from London and THIS just in from Spain and THIS just in from Milan, the fashion capital of the world.

I knew that I shouldn't beat myself up for that extra little role above my slacks yesterday, and now it has been confirmed by fashionistas (the people who rule the clothing world) that I should be striving for a healthy body and not a size 0. I never was able to wear a size zero in my earliest of days anyway. My daughter wore that size when she was 18 and now that she is over 30 and has one child she is up to a size 4-6. She runs around like a chicken with her head cut off, so I know she gets plenty of exercise. Lifting Xman 20 times a days should count for something. And all that bending and clearing of floor areas is better than touching toes. Ands she has the cutest little figure in spite of her size increase.

I still want better proportion for myself and need to get rid of that pudgy middle which contrasts so well with my thin arms and legs. Some days I think I look like a woman who is malnurished rather than overfed.
I have learned that 100 sit-ups a day for weeks will not work. It does give you excellent back and abdominal strength for standing tall and removing lower back pain, though.

More aeorobics and less food. This is my mantra before I leave for my trip with my daughter to Italy at the end of the month. (Geese, have you SEEN how stylish those Italian women in Italy look while walking down the street...including those in their 60's and 70's? No wonder they set the standard for style and weight.)

Friday, September 15, 2006

Last Week's Errand

Hubby is planning a business trip and has discovered that both of his razors have been left at the new house. So, just before ten on a Saturday night we make a trip to the nearby drugstore to pick up another razor before his flight tomorrow. I caution him that this may be a more expensive errand than he anticipated as I have run out of a number of age-stalling tools.

While looking for that great expensive face cream, I hear hubby swearing under his breath in the shaving aisle. "They don't even have my razor here. They have three--four--five razor gizmos that cost a fortune. What happened to the good old fashioned shave?" My husband hates planned obsolescence---especially that which relates to unnecessarily looking good.

I hand him my expensive cream and a jar of clear nail polish and smile sympathetically and tell him I will meet in front at checkout. I then walk to the front of the store hoping he won't take too long to pick something...anything. While standing near the front door a very thin elegant looking black woman walks in mumbling under her breath. She is dressed in black slacks, a gray sweater top with a white lace collar, pearls, silver hoop earrings and some new stylish gray baseball cap. I don't scrutinize her except to notice that she is carefully put together and about 55 in age.

She glances up at me and smiles. "Did you hear me? I am sorry. I didn't mean to be so loud."

I indicate with a nod that this not a problem and proceed to look at the newspaper headlines near the exit door.

She turns again to me and says, "It is just that I put something in the trunk of my car and slammed the lid shut with my keys and purse inside. AND my cell phone."

I suggest she may use to store to call her car club for help.

She sighs. "It is a BMW and can only be opened by a laser key and my BMW service says that they are backed up for three hours. I have an extra set of keys at Silver Oaks where I live. I just need to figure out how to get there."

I suggest she contact a police officer. I am beginning to get more uncomfortable with this whole conversation.

She grasps my hand with her thin bony one which is so very cold and smiles and introduces herself. She is a lawyer downtown and she rattles off some firm's name. "You can call this number and see that I am not lying." She hands me a card. Then she goes on to explain the laws of liability which police officers are under that precludes their helping her.

OK , now I have caught on and am really uncomfortable. I study her thin face and realize she was probably quite beautiful in her day.

"If you could just loan me cab fare, about $30.00 I will pay you double that when I come back to open the car outside."

My husband (who is incredibly naive) shows up and I cut the conversation off before he gets me in deeper than I want.

"All I have is $5.00 but maybe you can get more from someone else." I cram the money into her hand and grab hubby's elbow as I direct him out the door.

Outside I say aloud. "God, I hope I didn't contribute to her cocaine habit."

Hubby pats me on the shoulder and answers matter-of-factly..."You probably did."

The Times Between Times

A number of years ago I had reached the time in my life where my children were on their own in junior high school but it was also a time before I had become comfortable in my new role as 'loner'. Children had become a nice buffer for me on my adventures. It didn't matter if I got lost or used the wrong product or dressed poorly or made a public mistake. I had two kids that were distracting me and who, in turn, could be used to distract the focus of others on me.

I look back on that transition now and wonder when I got into the habit of using the kids as my invisibility cape. I do remember during the transition when it seemed very strange to enter a restaurant without kids and to sit alone at a table and order and eat food. It was strange to drive in a car and not be distracted by flying cheerios, upset stomachs and arguments about space. It was strange to have free, even though short, afternoons to go anywhere I wanted and do what I wanted at my own pace.

Years ago I was in Raleigh, North Carolina with my husband who was attending a meeting. This left me with free days exploring on my own. I enjoyed walking the town and visiting the farmers' market, but I eventually realized that I would have to take the rental car and do some country exploring to fill the remaining last day. Those of you who are born to explore cannot imagine why it would take courage to do this, but I was very uncomfortable with the thought of going out all by myself in a different car and reading a map all by myself and driving on strange roads. It was a new and different phase in my life.

There was a recreational lake and state park about an hour away and I decided that adventure would be my afternoon trip. I studied the map, used my instincts and made it to the resort without a hitch and with great relief. Weather was still warm and so there were quite a few families on picnics or boating the lake. It was a lovely blue sky day. I explored the lake and then found a path that meandered around the lake. It was a very long path and I knew that I could not make the entire circuit, but I could walk a short part of the way before I had to head back to the city.

I was twenty minutes into my walk when I saw grass movement and then heard a gentle but somewhat familiar noise to the side of the gravel path just ahead. I could not stop myself, but had to get closer to see the source of the noise. I just knew that is was a small rattle snake, but the closer I got the more intense and scary the rattle became. I got as close as I dared. I never had the courage to part the high grasses to see what was below. Yet, I felt very satisfied that I had tested my mettle thus far on so many goals that day and drove back to the hotel with a smile on my face.

Now I am at another time in my life that makes me uncomfortable once again. Twice this past month I have forgotten where I have parked my car when I went to the mall. The first time it took a short while and passing a number of rows before I stumbled on the little beast. The second time I wandered back and forth down the row of cars as darkness started to surround me for quite a while, trying hard to see my little car. Eventually I remembered that this was the row where I had parked the car a few days before on my visit to the same mall and with a little mind bending I finally remembered that I had most recently parked up the hill and on the other side of the store. This could be a small transition or a large transition that awaits me in the coming years and it has given me a twinge of concern.

I guess I will have to take it One Day at a Time as I always do.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Autumnal Rust

Autumnal rust returns

Wrapped in gold and amber.

Falling in love.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Tablecloth Trick (Future magicians, link is here)

Do you remember the old tablecloth trick where the magician pulls out the tablecloth and all the dishes remain on the table exactly as they were before the pull?

Guess who wants to be a magician in my family? (Either that or he has a death wish.) While Xman was being fed from a jar of pureed peas
of the most emerald green color, he got it into his head to reach for the place mat on which the peas rested. While his mommy was retrieving a fallen napkin, deft little fingers grasped the fringe of the mat and with a very professional twist of the wrist pulled the cloth mat determinedly up toward the air. The place mat flew in his grasp across the room and the spoon, the jar of peas, and another container of applesauce (as yet unopened) all took flight until gravity reminded the solids of their place within the laws of physics.

Everything went crashing to the floor, and like
a good scientist, Xman carefully observed the results, including the swift actions of various adults rushing about with paper towels and sponges to protect all the surfaces of the new house. It seemed that some peas landed on the table, others on the floor and even dollops decorated Xman's clothes.

It wasn't until Xman's dinner came to an end that Tabor happened to look upward and saw that quite a few green circles of food had risen to the ceiling above. Xman has a unique talent for making me wish I had given in to my husband and just bought a fishing shack!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Thursday Thoughts #3

Colleen, it will never be the Thursday 13 because I am a rebel, I guess. Most of these Thursday Thoughts are about spending or losing money.

1a) My sister saved my image this last trip when my hubby saw her new wine cellar with over 600 bottles of wine. My wine cellar is a small cooler which holds just over 32 bottles. He now no longer thinks I am an extravagant connoisseur.

1b) On a similar note my sis and my B-I-L took us out to dinner and bought two bottles of wine at $35 each to go with our meal. It was great wine…and I am glad he picked up the bill. Those of you who regularly spend that much for wine…just shut up!

2) I am now into shopping for heavy duty and easy to clean bedspreads for my guest bedrooms. This is an important selection due to the following event: I purchased a nice and somewhat expensive red silk throw at Target and
unpacked it to drape across the bottom of the master bed in the new house. Within seconds Xman had run to the material and bit into it and then left wet drool everywhere. (Note: he no longer 'walks' anywhere.) Patience…patience.

3) The recent Atlantic storm downed two trees at the new house, left lots of limbs and leaves across the deck, but spared the boat on the lift. My husband lost a year of his life on the plane trip home until we saw the boat was safe.

4) I just purchased a $10.00 glasses case for my 15-year-old Christian Dior prescription sunglasses. Guess what…they are now b
ack in style! If you wait long enough everything comes round again. Of course, your eye prescription has to not change very much.

5) Hubby and I, while walking through the mall last night, purchased two Godiva dark chocolate truffles at $1.65 each. Are we the last of the big spenders or what? A woman my age that I didn’t know who was standing behind me during the purchase told me that I was worth it.

6) Did you know that it can cost hundreds/thousands of dollars if you lose your cell phone and don’t have it password protected? I go through this fear every other month while my hubby rushes around t
rying to remember where he left his cell phone.

7) And, not related to money at all but related to that great neighborhood of bloggers, please send good thoughts to Hedwig at Living the Scientific Life so she can get back to blogging, and send good thoughts to Peruby as she makes her SECOND batch of buckeyes and cares for the dog that ate the first.

8) On a final note, I sometimes think of (and miss) Carol at The Cerebral Outpost who has taken a brief, lengthy or permanent respite from blogging. My thoughts returned most recently when I came across this fellow below while walking around an area near Boulder. Carol will know why.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Twin Owls (Link)

Granite prominence
Timeworn by winter storms
Twin owls weather again

Many people watched the Stephen King movie with Jack Nicholson titled "The Shining" which was produced in 1980. While I have tremendous respect for Mr. King's writing talent I am not a big fan of his genre. Anyway what do Stephen King and the photo above have in common? The photo is a rock promontory called twin owls outside of Estes Park, Colorado and it rests above the Stanley Hotel which was the hotel used in the movie. The reason I have posted this photo is because it was a scene which I knew well. One of my girlfriends in elementary school had a father that managed that hotel. We got to play many an afternoon in that place which seemed enormous to me at the time. By today's standards it is not a very large hotel. We played in the pantry, the kitchen and the downstairs hallways. Today I am amazed that we were allowed to do that. Maybe nobody knew. It was winter and the season had slowed, so the hotel was not very busy as I recall.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

That Strange Shape-shifting Time

Sitting in that gigantic metal airbus which, using any rational reasoning, should not be able to overcome earth’s gravitational pull much less fly over miles and miles of checkerboard farmland, I settled in and begin the time shift. Not the shift of time from Mountain Standard to Eastern Standard, but rather the shift in mental time from oldest daughter in a family that was started a long time ago and now exists with missing pieces to the my current mental time of being a wife, mother and grandmother whose days are filled with activities far from that former family.

My father, whose gentle demeanor and small stature would never fit the imposing image of Patriarch, is now ninety-two and a half. His walk is slow and careful, and his hearing is down to 30%, but his outlook and general health are miraculous. With pressures from his “busy-body” daughter-in-law and his first born (myself) he is adapting to some new digital hearing aides. The cacophony of daily noise is slowly being filtered by newly awakened neurons in the brain. The buttons and dials that rest above his ears are tiny and hard to identify for the awkward and numbed fingers of a 92-year-old, and yet he still tries to adjust. They actually seem to be working as I had several long if somewhat innocuous conversations with him. My father was never one to exchange deep thoughts, therefore, it is mostly talk about the “old-days” or what is currently happening.

During most of the week I was at my first brother’s house. Dad was far more active than he had been while staying at my youngest brother’s house, which had been his new home since Mom died over a year ago. This second move was necessitated by the unhappiness of my other SIL who after a year of living with Dad was requiring more privacy. (My judgement was that she was totally being selfish, but that is another story.) So the other SIL and brother have taken him in. We walked several blocks in the neighborhood each day, walked around Walden Pond outside of Boulder and elsewhere. We could see his strength and balance improving each day and he even commented on this himself. His gardening, which he loves, was limited in this new place due to the width of the vegetable beds. Still, he enjoyed watching the squirrels steal the strawberries as he sat at the kitchen table.

The next door neighbor had a sewer problem which also became my father’s new feature show. Since he was in construction years ago, watching the work of the back hoe and the activity of the laborers became another fascinating pursuit.

One memory I have from when I was a very small girl was watching John Wayne movies on TV with my father. I had purchased the John Wayne/John Ford DVD set for his birthday a while back and we watched one of those movies together while I was there.

I am involved in that traditional race where we try to fill our parent’s lives with activities and exercise to extend their life span...that race ahead of inevitable death.

Strangely, it was not unbearably sad to leave at the end of the week this time, but perhaps it was because I did not allow my mind to wander to those places in the future. I was concentrating only on the moment.