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Weekly Visit Report

I've been a bad, bad girl...didn't go see Mom on Friday. Or Saturday. And was contemplating not going Sunday. But guilt won and I went.
She comes to the door wearing her sunglasses; light was on in her room, blinds closed. Whatever...
I told her there was a pug (we used to have one) in the lobby for the weekly pet visit, so she tottered on down to check it out while I restock her mini frig with Diet Cherry Coke.

She doesn't throw away the cans anymore, stacks them around the room instead, so I gather those up as I find them. It's chaotic inside the frig; perhaps she tried to clean it and forgot where or how everything went back. There's also a pair of dirty underwear inside.
Glass candle holder is in the shower with a Christmas ornament tucked in it; shampoo is on the table, towels folded in piles on the floor. SNAFU.

She wants to go to my house and see the cats. Okay.
Last time she was at my house she didn't want to come in because "bad things happened." Guess having a stroke at my house could be construed as bad. She doesn't remember saying that or even being in the house. She thinks it's a new house. Doesn't remember the cat's names. When we get back in the car she wants to know if she can live there. Ah, no.

I'm still full from my post three mile walk Foster's Market breakfast burrito, she wants to go to the cafeteria though. It's very crowded with the after church throng.
She gets beef liver [insert gagging here], potato salad, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, buttered coconut pie (coconut custard) and sweet tea (hello carbohydrates!). Sweet potato pie and unsweetened tea for me (guess I wasn't that full!). It was an excellent people watching day with all the church outfits, hats, and shoes.

On the way home as we drove past Dillard's, Mom observed we had been in there once. Just a few weeks ago as a matter of fact.
(Good Lord, that was exhausting. Like herding ten ADD cats.)

Me: Yes, you bought the shirt you're wearing and another one with a heart on it.

Mom: Cow heart?

Me: No, a red shirt with a heart on it.

Okay people, cow heart is funny. I can't stop laughing.

Mom: I'm going to give you something for your mouth!

I think she means she's going to smack me (jokingly), and that's funny as hell too.

Mom: Oh, I'm going to come out!

No - no coming out in the car, I will have to charge a clean up fee for that. She is having a full on spell* now. Then, there was an odd noise, not sure if it was bodily or car.

Mom: Did you do that or did I?

Me: I didn't, did you?

She doesn't think so, but it starts her off on another laughing jag.

It is the best medicine.

*In Southern vernacular a spell can mean a laughing fit such as my mother was having; illness/drinking,"Uncle Bert had one of his spells last night."; or a length of time, "Sit a spell."
(In our house "having a spell", also meant my father wasn't talking to anyone for about two weeks. These spells usually coincided with a holiday or anniversary. Yep, that was fun.)


How to Use the Bathroom With Cats

Second in series (see archives Nov. 2009 on How To Sleep With Cats ).

I'm ensconced in the bathroom with a trashy tabloid magazine, looking forward to some quiet time with Brangelina. The bold decision to fully close the door has been made.

A few seconds pass...hmmm, really not a fan of Brad or his icky beard, what's up with tha...the meowing starts. Ah, that would be Lillie. Smallest cat, biggest mouth. A petite black paw slides under the door to accompany the "mah, mah, mah". "Shut up!" The paw disappears.

A few more seconds pass...then, a dainty, delicate, barely there meow. Oscar.

Scratching on the door (Oscar). "Get away from the freakin' door!" Scratching persists. "I said knock it off!"

A gray paw appears under the door. Then a chocolate brown one.

Suddenly, a scuffle breaks out.

Finn and Oscar are jockeying for key position of being first to run in the door the nanosecond it opens. The door bucks as twenty five + pounds of cat smacks against it. "Are you kidding me?! Cut! It! Out!"

Now only a gray paw forlornly searches under the door. "Get out of here!"

High pitched "meeeeeeeee" (Finn). Chocolate paw appears again. "I hate cats! Go away!"

Another scuffle. The latch is holding - so far. "Sigh..."

I hobble to the door and throw it open. Three flashes of fur (bonus points for tripping me on the way back) and my quality magazine time is over.

Finn jumps in the sink, attacks the faucet, then decides he needs to move the blinds so he look out the window. Oscar jumps up on my lap (WTH? I don't bother him when he's using the toilet!). Lillie walks along the edge of the tub meowing. Loudly.

All is well.


CCL (updated)

If you don't know what CCL stands for, then you ain't one. And maybe you should stop reading right now. Because if you're just gonna make fun, well, we can't be friends anymore. You can see the beginnings of a CCL here. I was well on my way at three (maybe three and a half years old. I was a tall child).

Yesterday I went to my first cat show with my friend Rosemary. I don't even know how I qualify as being a CCL if I've lived this long without going to a cat show!
She's waiting until she settles in here before she gets a cat, in the meantime, she comes to my house to get her feline fix.
We made a blood pact not to come home with anything breathing. Except ourselves.

Rosemary said she's up for a cat show about every six years - they're boring and she's right.
Because really, once you've seen one older woman with glasses and a bouffant hairdo hold up a cat, you've seen 'em all. (please God, don't let that happen to me!)

She did find her dream cat, a gorgeous 18 lb. Maine Coon who was one big moogy, fur-between-his-toes-snowshoe-size-pawed love muffin; this cattery also has a 26 pounder at home! Scroll down to bottom of page to see Whirlie. That picture doesn't do him justice.

I spent most of my time talking with Jean from Romanxx.
Got to love on sweet little Corazon, what a cutie. Jean has a boy kitten named Trouble, she'd "pet" (learned a new word!) out, she can't show him because he's a stumpy. She's in NC.
Danger, Will Robinson!

Bought a fleece cat bed from Siamese Cat Rescue and we were homeward bound - sans new cat(s). Yay!

Sign Here

When I went to pick Mom up for dinner Friday, she was sitting in the lounge area across from her room; it's a pleasant room with a couch, several chairs, and a large flat screen TV. She was happy to see me, patted the couch and said to come sit by her, so I did and we commenced to watching "Dogtown" on Animal Planet.

During a commercial she said, "Look" and showed me her left ear lobe. It was ripped in half. Immediately my elbows felt icky. (You know the wobbly feeling you get when you look over a cliff? That's what my elbows feel like around gross medical type things. Weird I know.)
Naturally, she had no idea when or how it happened, said it didn't hurt. We continued to watch the show and my elbows had a chance to settle down.

We stopped by the Med cart to show A. her ear. (Even typing this my elbows feel icky.) There was talk of the ER to get it stitched up. Mom got puffed up like a bantam hen at the mention of that.
A. gets the nurse, she looks at it - and it's completely healed up on the inside pieces!
Basically, Mom now has a forked earlobe.
I imagine her earring got caught in her shirt when she was taking it off and she pulled the earring right through her earlobe (uggghhhhh.). It had to hurt like an SOB. Yikes.

I had asked if we could wash her hair before we went out, she said sure. She is not good at following directions anymore and kept saying she didn't like it while I was washing her hair. We did it with her leaning her head in the shower, water got everywhere, her pants got wet, but dammit, her hair was clean. 

Anyhoo, we had a nice dinner at Rick's Diner. My friend Sandy and I ate there Wednesday night; had a wonderful dish of grilled chicken breast on top of roasted grape tomatoes, asparagus, and white beans in a warm lemon basil vinaigrette. It was so good I had it again Friday night (the beans could have cooked another 15 minutes Friday). Mom had fried shrimp with coleslaw, potato salad and chocolate cake for dessert.
The people at the next table said something about a "little girl" during conversation, Mom says "That's me!" and starts laughing, which makes me laugh. She is hilarious sometimes.
Someone asked me if it's embarrassing; the behavior isn't, if I think of her as a five year old, it's all good. The dirty hair is an issue, it would be to her too if she was aware of it because she was always so well groomed.

I thought I'd bring in the VA paperwork for her to sign, just see where she was in the name game. I asked to to write her name on another piece of paper first, she couldn't. Kept reading the other side of the paper, handing it back to me, saying she'd do it later. Then I wrote her name and asked if she could copy it. She made the A and that was all she wrote. Literally.
Guess we have to go with the X method.



My mother's house is closing this afternoon, after being on the dismal Florida market since June 2008. It surprised me how emotional this was.
I didn't really think Mom would ever live there again, but maybe somewhere in the way far back of my mind I had a fantasy? I had to have her declared incompetent in order to become the successor trustee and sign the paper work. Perhaps it's the finality of it. Maybe seeing in black and white the words "Alzheimer's dementia".

I moved back to Florida to be with my parents after my dad got sick.
I turned 40 in that house (no, that wasn't depressing at all.). My relationship with my father was healed in that house (trust me, it was all my fault. Really.). I got my beloved truck, Angus Og, (thanks Dad), when I lived in that house. I re-discovered photography while living in that house; became a prize-winning poet in that house.

Now my dad's gone, the truck's gone, the dog's gone, my mother, for all practical purposes, is gone, and after today, the house is too.


A Shout Out to All the Artists

I strive to live by William Morris' wonderful quote:
"Have nothing in your homes that you do not know to be useful and believe to be beautiful."

In Florida, I was a patron of the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, an annual Art event. Trust me, this sounds way more special than it was; one merely agreed to spend $100 during the Festival and voila! you were a Patron of the Arts.
This "guaranteed" money allowed them to offer bigger prizes, which in turn begat more talented artists.
And I got me a green ribbon saying "PATRON" to wear on my bosom! It really just doesn't get much better than that.

$100 may seem like a lot, but it's only $8.33 per month or .27.397 per day set aside over the course of a year. Of course I never did it that way, because, hello, that's the smart way.

The Shrimp Fest was my first real foray into the pottery world. In 1997, I bought a gorgeous bowl by Mudflap Pottery out of Louisiana. It survived numerous moves, but alas not Finnbarr, who broke it soon after he arrived. Clumsy kitteh (but he's so cute!).

Later I started working at a small gallery called The Waterwheel,
where there was - Danger, Will Robinson! -
discounts AND a payment plan!
I kept trying to sell this painting (Abundance II), until a customer said, "Stop that, that's YOUR painting!" He was right.
I loved it and bought it, sloooowly, over a long period of time.

Then Slightly Off Centre opened. A whole new world for me and my fledgling pottery addiction - North Carolina, because she bought all the pottery up here.
When I walked into the NC Craft Gallery after moving up here, I recognized quite a few of the potters because I already owned their work. (My pottery boyfriends/girlfriends as I fondly refer to them)

Thanks to ole W. and his stimulus a couple of years ago, I was able to commission dinnerware from Cora Willow, who is at the Craft Gallery.
Did I mention they know me by name there?

Another place I love here in NC, is Vespertine in Pittsboro. I feel happy every time I walk in there.
Ginna always has some creative, cute new thing. She can work in any medium it seems - paper, clay, silver, beads, paint - you name it, she can do something fantabulous with it. I took in some old funky silver earrings I made back in the 1980's and asked her to make a new fab ring with them. I'm excited to see what she comes up with!

Of course, there's the ever awesome Shiny Adornments. Home of the "WTF" earrings.

If you love art, crafts, lovely handmade things, please find a way to bring them into your life and for Pete's sake, treasure them by using them - don't devalue them by secreting them away in a dark closet.

Sure, your goofy, ungraceful, bottom heavy, pear shaped, adorable Manx cat might break them. So what.

This is my mantra (I read this somewhere and it stuck with me): It's already broken.

Now go dig out Grandma's priceless heirloom china plates and use them - even if, or perhaps especially if, you're eating Top Ramen!

The VA Comes Through

Earlier this week, the day after getting the fourth "we're still working on it" letter, the approval paperwork came from the VA!
Mind you, I don't understand it, because it appears to contradict itself on every other page. Let's just say Mom's getting some additional fundage, but I don't know how much or when.

Bit of a scramble finding the phone number for the new caseworker from A Place For Mom, but she was ever so helpful after I did. Need to have Mom sign one page saying she's incompetent and send that back. Doesn't it seem weird to have the person who's incompetent say she is? Why would they take her word for it?

AND...hallelujah, it looks like her house is going to close this month. I hope the people who are buying it will be very happy there for years to come.

It's been awhile since I plugged A Place For Mom.
If you have family members who need help finding an assisted care facility and getting additional benefits for care, I highly recommend them.

Things I Am A 'Ho For

Some things you may, or may not, want to know about me. These are not necessarily in order of 'ho-ness.

1.) Rugs. I continually question why I paid good money for hardwood floors only to cover them up with rugs. But I've purchased three in the last three months. Get thee to therapy...

2.) Shoes. Having size 11 (that is correct) feet is not conducive to fun shoe shopping.
Rocket Dog, I'm talking to you: why, why do you continue to taunt me in DSW with your adorable shoes AND THEN STOP AT SIZE 10?!

3.) Nintendo DS. Many, many thanks to my sister for getting me hooked on that.

4.) British TV and/or comedy. As a nation, we need an intervention. We got our own country out of the deal, so enough already. With the exception of "The Office" and "What Not To Wear", everything we Yanks rip off from them to remake - is crap.

5.) Bacon. Bacon is the other white meat's semi-slutty cousin. Her name is Suede-dean and she drives a convertible too fast, smokes, wears black bras under white shirts and a little too much leopard print, gets great sparkly gifts from men she's not related to, and is who we all secretly want to be.

6.) Art and stuff. When I was a bit poorer than I am now, I wanted enough money to be able to buy beautiful handmade things. I am grateful to say that has happened, not on a Picasso level for sure, but on a level that I am comfortable with. See also number 7.

Painting by Hyacinth Manning, St. Augustine, FL.
7.) Pottery. Again, buying not making. I can't stand the feeling of clay (or bread dough) on my hands, feels like my fingers are suffocating.
Happily, that craziness doesn't afflict everyone. And I get to use and enjoy the fruits of their labors everyday.

Stunning bowl from Crow Valley Pottery on Orcas Island.

There are more things, but I'll wait until we get to know each other better.


Geckos, Lizards and Snakes - Oh My!

As far back as I can remember, my mother has abhorred anything reptilian. The only good reptile is a belt...or purse...or shoe. Turtles, alligators, iguanas, all on the major ick list. But there's a special place in hell reserved for snakes.

When she was young, she spent summers out in the J'ville boonies with her two maiden aunts and their brother.

Her dog was acting crazy one day, trying to stop her from going to the outhouse, finally resorted to knocking her down, and there, curled up ready to strike in the tree root she was about to step over, was a rattler. Fair enough on the fear factor.

There were National Geographic magazines she never read because there was a snake on the cover. If anything snakey came on TV, which was often, because my dad loved him some Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, Mom would pick her feet up off the floor, accompanied by a little scream. We're talking snakes period, not just rattlers, because even plain old garter snakes were evil and capable of climbing out of the television into our living room.

When we lived in Guam, my father was at sea for months at a time and I got to wear the coveted (not) mantle of designated gecko killer (first born short straw again!). For those of you uninitiated with geckos,
they don't just sell car insurance, they can crawl on the ceiling and are very, very fast. So I'm seven, standing on really tall ladders trying to kill something I secretly think is cool, while my mother hysterically points out each new hiding place of the soon to be [she hopes] doomed gecko. By the time I drag the ladder over there, it's moved. And my mother's voice has gone up an octave. Good times.

Because I was a kindly child, I tried to free my mom from the bondage of her phobia by helpfully bringing in objects of her fear - to show her they were really fun and neat!
From the banana tree next to the carport, came an anole lizard
that was tethered to me by a piece of thread (totally safe for viewing). Let me just say it was a good thing I was a fast mover back then (like a gecko), as my father, who happened to be in port, did not find any redemptive value in my actions, if you catch my drift. I'm sure Mom needed an Atavan or five (or whatever the 1960's equivalent was) after that therapy episode.

Then, while visiting the very relatives in FL where she almost was snake bit, I, loving, caring child that I am, bring a snake SKIN into the house. Not anything living mind you - I learned that lesson. It was winter and cold outside (for Florida), the kitchen was very warm from delicious cooking activities, and when I walk into the house, my glasses fogged up. Hilarity of the Keystone Kop variety then ensued - a horde of stampeding screaming women out to kill me as I tried to find the back door in a house I was unfamiliar with while basically blind.
Note to self - even though entirely devoid of snake, snake skins are b.a.d. unless they are articles of wearing apparel.

Fast forward to present day. Imagine my surprise when J., the activities director at Wynwood, said Mom had held a snake. But not some run of the mill tiny ole garter snake either. A boa. And not just held it either - had her picture taken with it draped around her neck. Wish I had the picture.

Finally discovered the up side of dementia - curing phobias!

I'm Tired

Remember the song Madeline Kahn sang in "Blazing Saddles"?
I'm tired
Sick and tired of love
I've had my fill of love
From below and above
Tired, tired of being admired
Tired of love uninspired
Let's face it
I'm tired

That always makes me laugh. But that's how I feel today. Tired.

In my smuggling last Friday was a stack of mail from Tri-care and the credit union.
I spent 20 minutes (seriously) standing at the shredder going through it. There were a couple of things that would have come in handy on her 2008 taxes in there ($700 donation letter!), as well as a bill from a lab.
Now I get to spend time on the phone taking to a government agency. YAY!
BTW Tri-care, WTF with the double or triple pages of the same damn thing?! Are you kidding? I get invoices from them at home for Mom as well, so it's double double covered. Honestly, I could save them some money. For one thing - how about printing double sided?! Hello?

There were two of her necklaces in one of the envelopes.
When I took her cell phone out of the case to remove the SIM card, the photo from my dad's Coast Guard ID fell out. That made me a little sad.

Yesterday, I had a meeting with Wynwood to discuss her new assessment for her "personal care plan", which will be over $900, because we just added hygiene "reminders" to the plan.

At this rate - if her house doesn't sell - she has 4 months of funds left.