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The last few weeks have been hectic. Hubby got home from his week long training in Georgia the afternoon of Sat. March 28th. We had to get 2 gifts wrapped (not giftwrapped, just protectively boxed up for transport) and 2 cards made. While we were readying them, we got a phone call that Greg’s Aunt Aggie had passed away. She was only 78 and was always a favorite of both of ours. We were already going to WI the next day for his mother’s 80th birthday party. Now we were potentially going to a funeral a few days after that. As you can imagine, the entire week was just stress-filled. We fought on multiple occasions.

Last Rites Cross aka Vampire Kit

Last Rites Cross aka Vampire Kit

A lot of the stress comes from knowing we can only leave Mom for x amount of time. Preferably during daylight hours. The party was at 4 pm and it takes us between 90 min. and 2+ hours to travel each way. Depending on traffic and road construction. There was a huge detour which extended the time even more. We were at the party longer than we had planned–until 6:30 pm. Then we had to hurry and get home by a little after 8 pm. It went fine and was actually better than I could’ve hoped. We got to see Greg’s niece Katie’s new baby (10 day old Brynn) who is his Mom’s first great grandchild. Everyone took turns holding the baby while she slept like a doll. Everyone gives new parents things for the baby, we made a conscious decision to give to the parents instead. Some art that they can appreciate (or not). We gave his mom a Last Rites Cross. Made of wood, it hangs on the wall, opens up and holds candles and holy water. Greg calls it a Vampire Kit. His mom is a lifelong Catholic and loved it. She said her grandmother had had one just like it in her home.
Art By Haeger Pottery

Art By Haeger Pottery

Monday March 30th, we had an 8:30 am vet appt. for Ivy. She needed 2 vaccinations plus a blood test for heartworm. We had to bring in a fecal sample for testing as well. It costs a fortune but is worth it to not have to go back for a year. Tues. March 31st, Greg had his dental cleaning and needed a filling which he got on the spot. I had Mom’s bath that day. Wed. April 1st was Greg’s birthday and I had my dental cleaning at 10:00 am and we were leaving for the funeral by 3:30 pm. We got up to WI in time for some of the viewing of the body and the funeral service. They had a luncheon afterwards but it was already after 7 pm when the service was over. We didn’t want to stay another hour and get home so late to feed Mom dinner. So instead of eating, we drove home and all ate dinner around 9 pm. Not much of a birthday for Greg. We still  have yet to celebrate but I figure we’ve got a whole year to get around to it. Thurs. April 2nd, we had to take Elvis & Amber to the vet for their blood tests and fecal check. We didn’t find out until the following Monday that they’re all negative but it was a relief for sure.
4 Generations of Babes

4 Generations of Babes

Thurs. April 2nd we went to stock up on food at the fruit market and Sam’s Club. We also spent the weekend working on income taxes. We usually try to get them done and in before now. We’re cutting it too close to the April 15 deadline to suit me. But sometimes time doesn’t make it easy to fit it in. Friday we did a little treasure hunting and Sat. we went and got our lawn care items at Ace Hardware. The 4 step fertilizer for the grass, Grubex for the grubs and 10 bags of top soil on sale for 99 cents each.
I had so many veggies and they don’t stay fresh long. We had salad for dinner a few nights in a row. Then on Sunday April 5th I roasted several trays of them in the oven: brussel spouts, broccoli, garlic, green beans, kale, etc. We got another pork butt to roast in the 2 crockpots which is always great but that takes a whole day and then another day for clean up. I didn’t have time on Sunday if I was going to roast the veggies so I waited until Monday. Then Monday I was delayed almost 2 hours because Mom had a horrible case of diarrhea. I’m going to leave out the gory details (you’re welcome!) but we were both covered in it head to toe (don’t ask). Our clothes, our skin, the walls, the rug, the toilet, our hair, etc. I washed her hair and was going to get her in the tub when it happened again. I decided to just wash her all over with a washcloth so she didn’t have it in the tub. It was only a one day ordeal but not something I’d want to live through again. It makes the time she had it on vacation look like a cake walk.
The only picture I took of the shit hitting the fan.

The only picture I took of the shit hitting the fan…

That week I hadn’t been feeling good for several days myself. I’d been getting stomach cramps and a different type of diarrhea. Just what you wanted to read a blog post about! For the first time ever I skipped breakfast for 3 days straight. I had half of a small banana and that’s it. Then I skipped lunch for 2 days and resumed my usual sandwich and was fine. Of course, then my period came on and I had cramps of a different sort. The only thing I can think of that got me so sick was going to WI and seeing all the relatives. Everyone kisses (some on the lips) and hugs and for all I know some weren’t feeling well and didn’t let on. Greg’s around more people at his work and probably has more of an immune system built up than I do. I haven’t been this sick since I was 30. Then I had a week long bout of gastric distress that I actually went to the doctor for. I ended up coming down with the chicken pox 2 weeks later. I still think I caught it from the doctor’s office… I’ve made the effort to give up my beloved potato chips about a month or two ago. I thought it would make me feel so much better. I don’t feel any different!
This past weekend was not the greatest either. We stayed home on Thurs. April 9th because it stormed so badly. We were on pins and needles that our basement might flood again. Tornadoes hit about an hour north and west of us and left much devastation in their wake. Friday we did some treasure hunting and Greg is so thrilled that he found some old stackable metal milk crates that the dairies used back in the 1950’s. I found a beautiful Virgin Mary and baby Jesus surrounded by flowers. We hung it right away in our living room. Yesterday I roasted the last of the vegetables: mushrooms, zucchini and cauliflower. I love meat but I love vegetables even more. It wouldn’t be hard for me to become a vegetarian but why?! I don’t like to limit myself whether it’s the type of food I eat or the portions. That’s oviously something I can’t hide.
Madonna and child.

Madonna and child.

The weather is now consistently in the 60’s which seemed like it would never happen. The sunshine and nice temps have done wonders to improve my mood. Stop back again and I’ll fill you in our future projects: planting our garden, getting a new gas grill, building a pergola and laying patio brick on the side of the house. Enjoy your week and thanks for reading!

I’m No Superhero

I’ve known for about a month that hubby would be going away for a week for work. I’ve been dreading it the entire time. With good reason, it turns out. Every time hubby goes away, something awful happens that I have to handle alone. A year ago, hubby was gone for a week to Newark, NJ and our furnace died. I had to get the repair man out and get a new furnace put in.

We got up at 5 am on Sunday March 22nd since hubby had a super early flight and I had to drive him to the airport. It was still dark and I was driving my car. Recently I’ve had one thing after another go wrong with my 22 year old car. Besides my brakes going out, I had my battery not hold a charge. I’d been starting it daily after it had been in the shop last and had it on a trickle charger. Hubby had been taking it to work once a week and everything was fine. Then I went around dusk to get a gallon of milk at the grocery (nothing else) and when I came out, it was getting dark. I put on the lights and barely made it home! The car was ready to die any minute. Then I was afraid to drive it again and the whole month of Feb. it was cold. Average of 14 degrees each day. Hubby offered to get a new battery but I knew the battery wasn’t old! When the weather got warmer, we took it to the garage again. This time it was the alternator for $350. Ok, the rollercoaster continues….Yesterday, about halfway home after dropping hubby off and the headlights go out. Then they come back on for a second and go out again. I wiggled it and turned them on and off and it kept happening. Luckily, we don’t live far from the airport and I know my way in the dark. I made it home safely even though I half expected to get pulled over by a cop. When I got home I realized I’d forgotten my purse and cellphone! Gah! I was so sleepy and had gone to grab my keys and purse and had only gotten my keys. I plan to drive it again tomorrow to get some soda that’s on sale at the store. I won’t be driving it at night if I can help it.

Yesterday was the first day with Greg gone. I’m used to him being at work during the daytime on Sundays, so that went fine. I did have to unplug/ reset the Directv which freezes up when you try to go up or down on the Playlist. The only thing I was looking forward to while hubby is gone is reading in bed. When I got back yesterday morning from the airport, I went back to bed. I couldn’t sleep but it was too early to be up. I noticed that the light on my nightstand that had been working the night before, didn’t work anymore. So yesterday I got out the ladder and climbed up to get a replacement bulb from the hidden storage above the kitchen cupboards. It wasn’t the exact same wattage but close enough. I took it up and put it in, only to find out it still wouldn’t give light. At this point I checked the cord. It was still plugged into a power strip on my side of the bed. The power strip was supposed to be plugged into the power strip on his side of the bed. It wasn’t. Nor could I reach it. So I pulled it and it came out on my side. I had to take out a ton of things that were stored under the bed. I went from one side of the bed to the other, laying down, trying to feed the cord under the Queen size bed. I even used something to push it. Then I went to his side and tried to reach it. After I did this over a dozen times, I realized my arms are too short and it would never work. The cord was too short to feed behind the headboard. I ended up running an extension cord from my side to his behind the headboard. It’s not ideal. When I talked to him on the phone last night, Greg said he must’ve unplugged it by accident when he unplugged his bi-pap yesterday morning. Then I took the new lightbulb out and went downstairs and got the old one and put that back in and it worked fine. I just hating wasting time like this!

I had all kinds of big ideas on what I was going to accomplish while Greg was gone. Yesterday I made homemade chicken noodle soup. Today I was going to make chicken pot pie. I was going to get a lot of items listed on Etsy and start a new shop just for vintage ephemera. Things like antique and rare books, greeting cards, postcards, Victorian Trade Cards, old letters, photographs, etc. After what happened today, I’ll probably mostly be resting.

Last night it started snowing. A freak Spring storm that wasn’t expected to leave much evidence. The local weathermen predicted 1.5″ while the national news guessed more in the 5-6″ range. This morning, I went out to shovel just a trail on the deck for the dogs and we had almost 7″. It snowed for several more hours since then. It’s 28 degrees out and tomorrow will be in the 40’s and Wed. in the 50’s with rain. All this is going to melt and I can’t entertain the idea of the basement flooding again!! All our snow had been gone and we even had one day last week that was 70 degrees. I had taken the dogs for a walk with no coat! I had shoveled a path to the backyard for the dogs and took some videos of them playing in the snow. Then I came in and went to the front and shoveled just the steps for the mailman.

At this point, my worry about the melting and rain made me paranoid about all that snow sitting on the flat roof above the garage. We don’t shovel it if it’s less than 3″ but this was so heavy and I can’t risk water coming in and ruining all our inventory in the garage. So I went up there and the dogs followed me. There’s a railing around all sides up there and they know better than to jump. They like to run around and look down from up there. Greg always lets them be up there when he does the shoveling. I haven’t done it alone for a few years. The last time I had, I had gotten locked out! It was before Mom had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I had tried to get her attention by throwing the shovel on the deck and yelling but nothing would work. That time I was up there alone and Greg was at work. The dogs were inside and I had climbed over the railing, onto the deck of the shed and then jumped onto the railing of the deck. Now we’ve got bowling pins on top of the deck railing. Plus I knew the dogs would try to follow me and they’d hurt themselves.

As you might guess, IT HAPPENED AGAIN. I couldn’t even believe my luck!! I had shoveled just over half of it up there and the snow was coming down hard. Ivy acted like she wanted to go in. I was going to open the storm door and let her and whoever else wanted in to come in. This time I had left the inside door open so I could look in. I went to open the door and it had latched! We keep it locked but you have to flick the latch down to open it. When I had gone out, it had relocked somehow. I was beyond upset! If the dogs hadn’t been up there, I might’ve just tried to climb down. But I had no choice, I had to get in. So I took the shovel, which was entirely PLASTIC, and tried to pop the window out. The shovel tore the screen up immediately but the window is plexi-glass so it wouldn’t break. I tried pushing it at the corners or pounding it in the middle. Nothing worked.

Then the babysitter next door came out and asked me if I needed help. It must’ve looked quite a sight. Me beating furiously on the door with a shovel, one end and then the other. I even tried throwing my considerable weight against it repeatedly. According to what I’ve seen on tv, pushing your shoulder or bulk should pop a window out. Instead, every time I did that, I felt pain in my arm and left side. It was slippery up there so I couldn’t get good traction, even in snow boots. I tried kicking it but that didn’t work either. I told the neighbor I needed a ladder. She asked if the door was open and I said no. I had locked them both when I went up there since that was the last thing I was going to do outside. Then she stood and watched me for the longest time while I struggled. The dogs barked at her while I worked feverishly to no avail. Later I asked her if she had a hammer. She said she could look for one. I told her not to bother since I didn’t know how I’d get it from her. She’d have to throw it up there and it might hit one of the dogs in the head and hurt them!

I had my cellphone with me which is rare. I actually thought of calling 911 but I’ve never done it and don’t want to do it over something so foolish. I’d be the butt of a ton of jokes by the firemen and police. Mom would never hear me banging and would never come look for me. I decided to call the house phone anyway and on the message, call for her loudly and tell her to go in the hallway. Of course that didn’t work. Then I couldn’t see my phone, it was so bright out, I must’ve called my husband when I tried to hang up the call. I surely wouldn’t have called him since I knew there was NOTHING he could do. He was at lunch so could talk but just told me to do what I had already done. I let him go and went back to throwing myself against the window and jamming the shovel into it. It seemed like I could get a gap on the right side towards the lock but I couldn’t pry it open. I was afraid to put my fingers in there since it might cut them off! I tried putting the shovel into it but it wouldn’t work.

Suddenly, without warning, the plexi-glass shattered into a million tiny pieces. A few pieces were the size of a dime but mostly they were just a bit bigger than a grain of sand. It had shattered into a pile an inch thick on the landing and then all the way down the stairs. I reached into the empty space and flipped the lock on the door. I went inside being careful not to let the dogs in. There was so much broken glass, if I let them walk on it, they would surely cut their feet! So I reached through and lifted Ivy through the missing pane and carried her to safety. Then I went up and told Amber to come up to me and she did. I lifted her through and took her down. Then I got Elvis and took him all the way to the sunroom and put the leash on him. I had Mom hold him while she played on the computer. He cried for most of the time. He can’t stand to be away from me and I knew he wouldn’t stay away from the stairs without restraint. Overall, I was really proud of the dogs for how they behaved.

I was physically and emotionally exhausted and wanted nothing more than to sit down and get my breath and rest. I couldn’t though since I had to immediately vacuum up the glass! It took me at least 45 min. to do it, then I lifted the pane with the remnants out of the track and put it in a garbage bag. I had to vacuum with the wand and go over the area multiple times. Even so, I won’t be going barefoot anytime soon. After I was done with that, I wanted to rest but couldn’t. I  had to go back out and finish shoveling! I was so overheated, I didn’t put a coat on right away. It was stupid so I went back and got it and finished. Then the babysitter drove up and said she was glad I got in. You and me both!!

By then, it was time to make lunch and get Mom to the bathroom. I managed to rest a bit after lunch but I’ve got a sore throat and my side is so sore. I don’t know if it’s stress on my heart or I tore some muscles from that. All I know is I’ve had enough excitement for the day, the week, the month and the year!

As for what else the next few weeks hold, hubby gets home late on Sat. March 28th. On Sun. he has to work but is going in early and taking 4 hours sick leave so we can go to his mother’s 80th birthday party. It’s up in WI so there’s a 2 hour drive each way. It’s at 4 pm so we can only stay an hour or so if we go together. Mom will be fine as long as I’m home to get her dinner that night. Hubby and I argued about this for at least a week! When he found out he was going away this week, I made him call his brother Dan and tell him when he’d be gone so he didn’t expect him to go during that week. At the time, he also told him he couldn’t make it on Sundays since he worked. The fact that they expect him to go, basically guilting him into it doesn’t sit good with me. He’s afraid of looking like the bad guy if he doesn’t go. His niece just had a baby (the first great grandchild for his Mom) on March 20th. So we have a gift for her and one for his mom. I told him we should mail them but he must want to go to the party. After not seeing me for 7 days, I hate the thought of not seeing him for another day if he went alone. So many unpleasant things, so little time…

Next Mon. is Ivy’s vet appt. for vaccinations and heartworm. If Greg can come with me, that’s great, otherwise I’ll take her alone. Then the next day is hubby’s dentist appt. Mine is the day after that which is also Greg’s birthday! The day after that we’re taking the other 2 dogs to the vet for their heartworm tests. So you can see how busy every single day is…

I just had to share the latest disaster that befell me. Let’s hope no one else has luck like that. I guess it’s all in how you look at it. Some people might say I’m a Superhero for rescuing the dogs but that title does not apply. I can’t even function in daily life without having ridiculous things happen to me…

It’s been awhile since I’ve written about the demon that’s invaded our home. It’s called Alzheimer’s. A few weeks ago, I was telling hubby a small fraction of the day I’d had dealing with Mom. He looked at me and said, “You should either make a standup comedy routine out of this or write a horror story.” He’s so right, I could go either way.

In horror stories, usually the demon has to be invited in. With Alzheimer’s, no invitation was issued, nor was an RSVP received. Talk about an uninvited houseguest. This one comes and never leaves until it’s sucked the life out of you. Most demons take your soul but Alzheimer’s steals your brain, not just the mind that holds memories but the entire organ including the first things we learned how to do to function. Like the ability to comprehend speech, let alone answer. The ability to form words or sentences. To sign your name. To recognize loved ones. To recall the name of things. This demon alters the possessed’s personality and hijacks their emotions. Nothing can make the person happy or sad any longer. They just exist to hold the host demon inside for it to feed off of…

Things have been “progressing nicely” if your goal as the demon is to liquify the brain completely. The decline is rapid and thorough now. I always felt as long as Mom had a good appetite and still ate, she’d hang in there. The past week or so, she’s been having trouble eating. She does fine with her Cheerios for breakfast but lunch is another matter. I’ve always made her a sandwich, same as mine, but lately I’ve been cutting it in 6 or more pieces instead of just 4. Even so, some days it takes her OVER 2 HOURS to finish it. Then she won’t have finished it. She’ll have a huge glob of food balled up in her mouth and just be chewing it (no teeth). Sometimes I wonder if her entire sandwich isn’t squished up into 1 piece! She won’t swallow it and if I let her, she chews it for hours. Lately I’ve gotten her to give it to the dog, Elvis. I have her push it out of her mouth and he takes it from her. I’m surprised she does this since it’s almost like “kissing” a dog which she would never do. One day I served her lunch, went back to get mine and when I came back her plate was empty. I asked if she’d let the dog eat it and she said “I don’t know.” We’ve had to put Elvis on the leash while she eats since he’s deaf and he waits for her to spill. It’s maddening. The alternative is she spits the food out onto the floor (which I’ve seen her do).

Everything gets exponentially harder daily. Yesterday was bath day which is always the hardest. She doesn’t listen to me hardly at all anymore. I don’t think she’d listen to anyone else any better. It’s gotten to the point where I can’t leave her alone much. Obviously I have to at times, just to cook meals and do household chores. I can’t trust her to follow through on things I tell her. Like I used to just walk her to the bathroom (holding hands) and leave her, maybe check on her once while she was in there. Now I have to walk her and stand in the doorway while she goes. I have to keep track of IF she went or not since if I ask her if she went, she says, “I don’t know.” I have to tell her to take her soiled pad out of her underpants. Even if she sees it’s soiled, she doesn’t think to do anything about it. I have to give her a new one. I have to open it for her and watch that she puts it in her underpants correctly. I keep the Poise incontinence pads under the sink in the downstairs bathroom. She used to know to open the cabinet, reach in and take one. Now if I’m not with her, she may take the soiled pad out and not replace it at all. One day I left one on the sink and she went earlier than usual without me being home. She put the entire pad still wrapped in the plastic, inside her underpants. It’s folded into thirds with a plastic on top. I have to hand her toilet paper or she won’t use it. I have to count how many times I hand her toilet paper (5 in a row and I have to flush) so that the upstairs toilet doesn’t get clogged and I have to plunge it. I have to stand by and make sure she USES the toilet paper and doesn’t just set it on the sink or put it on top of the pad in her underpants. I have to make sure she wipes enough and in the right area and doesn’t give herself an infection. I have to watch and make sure she puts the used toilet paper IN the toilet and not in the sink, or on the floor. She often wants to hand it to me. NO THANKS.

You’d think this would be ENOUGH. But I can’t leave the room yet. I have to tell her to flush the toilet. Or sometimes I do it for her. It’s not always worth shouting about. She’s hard of hearing so I feel like when I do address her I’m always shouting. The less reaction she gives me, the louder I yell. It’s exhausting. Then I tell her to wash her hands. You’d think I could walk away then.But no…I have to make sure she uses soap. And then stick around to show her where to dry her hands. EVERY SINGLE TIME. She doesn’t go to the bathroom as much as most people so I should count myself “lucky”. She goes in the morning when she gets up, before lunch, before dinner and at bedtime. Occasionally, there’ll be another time. She doesn’t drink much water and then when the mood strikes her, she’ll drink 2 full bottles in a row. I still have trouble catching her always trying to stand up from the toilet without wiping or with feces hanging out of her. The struggle is real. 

Some of this sounds atrocious and I probably shouldn’t even put it in print. Maybe the worst thing that bothers me is her lack of interest in EVERYTHING. She doesn’t care what she eats, what she watches on tv, what she wears, you name it. I no longer see her smile ever or get any joy out of life. She sits in her recliner in the living room and I tell her to “put your legs up”. She lifts them together about 6 inches off the ground. It’s like a bad joke but no one’s laughing. I have to tell her to “use the handle”. EVERY SINGLE TIME. Some days she reaches for it and says, “I can’t”. She doesn’t even really try. It’s the worst to do for someone else who doesn’t try for themselves.

She was always somewhat demanding and difficult. I guess I didn’t really pay that much attention to it. She used to boss me around, “Cut my hair!” or “I want ice cream!” I used to be annoyed because I felt like it cut into my time. Now if only she could express what she wanted. As it turns out, my time is not my own anyway.

I’m on day 9 of one of the worst colds I’ve had in my life! I haven’t had a cold this bad in over 20 years. Back when I used to get them like this, I was working 3rd shift (nights) at the Post Office. I would stay in bed for at least 3 days to recover. Now I can’t even take a nap. I have someone to care for 24/7. Possibly the worst is that she has no comprehension that I’m sick. She doesn’t acknowledge it or have any compassion for me. Now hubby has caught the cold. He’s about 2 days behind me. I’ve been very diligent with washing hands and trying to keep from infecting my mom since a cold like this could kill her. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone! Not the cold and not Alzheimer’s!!!

Even Mom playing on the computer has become a challenge. We have it set up so she only has to push the space bar on the keyboard to spin the slot machine games. If she hits the wrong button, sometimes a grey box or a white box will come up. You have to tap or move the mouse to get it to disappear. She used to be able to move a mouse, now she doesn’t know what a mouse is!! I have to get up from wherever I am and fix it for her every time. Sometimes she can go all day without hitting the wrong thing. Other days it will come up every few minutes. She won’t call to me if I’m in the other room to tell me either, so I have to walk in and check on her every few minutes.

It’s similar to every day I have to hand her a kleenex and have her blow her nose. I can usually hear if she’s got snot in her nose so I try to get to her before she does things like sneeze everywhere or wipe snot somewhere. I have to stand there and make sure she blows her nose or she’ll just take the kleenex and fold it up and lay it somewhere. I can’t just tell her “the kleenex box is on your left” because it doesn’t sink in.

Mom falls asleep a lot and doesn’t know if it’s time for bed or time for dinner. When I take her to the bathroom before dinner, she often tries to go upstairs to bed. I have to tell her no and get her moving the other way. I’ve been cooking a lot (as usual) and made a couple of pork roasts. I got out 2 crockpots and prepared a whole bunch of veggies and cooked them up so I wouldn’t have to cook every single night. I still end up making more veggies later and improvising in different ways using the roasts. One night we had a frozen pizza and she hates them. I’m not too fond of them either but I was sick and didn’t want to fuss. I asked her if she wanted pizza or would she rather have a small scoop of cottage cheese for dinner. She said, “I don’t know.” So I gave her the cottage cheese and she ate it right up. I guess I could start making soups and things for her. It seems more that she’s forgotten how to swallow than anything else.

I started babysitting when I was 11 years old. I took a babysitting course from the Red Cross at the YMCA and got certified. I learned CPR and all that other good stuff. I was gungho to make money. I got jobs right away. Nobody wanted to pay anything. I guess 50 cents an hour was the average back in mid-1970’s. I had a young couple who lived next door who even had me babysit when they moved way across town. They paid like $1/hr. too which was great. Then I had a nightmare babysitting job for a woman across the street. She had rented from my dad the apt. next door and then later moved across the street. She was divorced and was a waitress at a chinese restaurant. She had one child who was a demon! This child would not listen at all. As soon as you got done telling her something, she would ignore you. I would say she was around 5 yrs. old. I stayed with her and played with her all day from mid afternoon until her mom was supposed to be home at 10 pm. We were in the house (while it was still light out) and I went to use the bathroom. Just a quick pee and I came out and the child was GONE. I wasn’t worried the kid was abducted or anything but how would I find the child? It was a girl and I was frantic. I went out looking for her with no luck. I called my dad for help. My mom was working. I wouldn’t call my dad unless I had no other choice. He helped me drive around the neighborhood and we found her. This child was impossible to control. I put her to bed and she kept getting up again and saying she wanted me to make her bacon. That sounded crazy to me. The kid kept carrying on. the mother called to say she’d be late and to go ahead and make the kid bacon. She said she’d be home by midnight. Then she never showed up until 3:30 am and I think it was a school night. Then she paid me what amounted to less than 25 cents an hour!! She called me later to babysit and I told her NO. She asked why. I told her she didn’t pay enough for what she put me through. No amount of money is worth that kind of aggravation.

It may seem odd that I’ve brought this up but I think of this scenario every single day. I have the same helpless feeling with my mom that I did with that girl I babysat. I get my mom to the upstairs bathroom and sit her down on the toilet and then I quick RUN a few steps to her bedroom and get a diaper and her glasses case and hearing aid container. I tell her to sit with her hands together (so she doesn’t pick her leg) and wait. Before I can get back to the bathroom, she’s trying to get up! I scream, “NO!” and get her sat down. Then I RUN to her bedroom, pull back the covers and put down the bed pads. By the time I’m back, she’s trying to get up again or HAS gotten up. Without wiping. She doesn’t know enough to pull up her pants so may just be standing there. What I’m living now, makes me relive that type of unpleasantness from that babysitting nightmare.

I’ve been trying to figure out WHY I’ve gotten into collecting religious artifacts at all, let alone during this time in my life. I’ve come to believe that it’s because I’m trying to ward off the demon Alzheimer’s. Not only am I afraid inhabited my mother, I’m afraid he has his sights set on me. In horror movies, often the demon leaves one host only to make himself at home in another nearby being. Scary stuff but nothing compares to reality and  how frightening it is to watch someone disappear before your eyes.

No amount of wishing, praying or hoping can get the demon to leave. Alzheimer’s has taken root and is here to stay. No exorcism can remove the demon from our lives. Today I was counting days of the week to see how long I’d had this cold. I go, “Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Eighty, Ninety, One Hundred…” I’m not even kidding. I caught myself and did it wrong a total of 3 times. I can’t even make this stuff up. I’m going to say this is the cold messing with my head (even though I’ve taken no meds for it) and not freak out that I’m losing my mind as well.

I have finally come to terms with how people can put a loved one in a nursing home. I honestly couldn’t see it before. I’m still not going to do it but at least I understand. People must feel that one life is enough to sacrifice and lose. By being the caretaker of an individual with Alzheimer’s, you are giving up your own life. So basically 2 whole lives are wasted, not just one. I’m assuming this is my purpose in life since I haven’t accomplished much else. I’ll just continue to take it one day at a time since looking beyond that is overwhelming.

There’s been a #20beautifulwomen challenge going around on Instagram for some time now. You’re supposed to post a picture of yourself when you feel most beautiful and then tag 20 other women to participate. Literally these selfies are all up in my feed. I’m not a huge fan of selfies–either for myself or others. I don’t mind  people posting pictures of themselves but it’s hard for me to understand several times a day like there’s nothing else out there as important. I haven’t been tagged which either means that people know I don’t go for that nonsense or they don’t think I’m beautiful. I’ve been dreading possibly getting tagged and having to explain my aversion to having my picture taken. Surprisingly, maybe a third that are doing it say they dislike having their picture taken. That is hard for me to believe. They are some of the prettiest out there.

I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about this topic but the conclusions I came to surprised me. Some of the people who did the #20beautifulwomen challenge said things like “everyone is beautiful” or “all women are beautiful” or “we’re all beautiful”. I disagree wholeheartedly. NOT everyone is beautiful physically. There are a lot of unattractive or downright ugly people. Maybe not so much on Instagram but out in real life. You’ll see people that will make your skin crawl. A lot of the physically beautiful people are shallow or ugly inside which negates their beauty, at least in my eyes. Then there’s the people who you don’t consider beautiful at first but as you get to know them, you’re kind of struck by their beauty in every day things. Like their generosity or kindness makes them beautiful. Or how they care for their children with such love or how they handle customers or coworkers with so much humor and grace. Some people are beautiful on the outside, some are beautiful on the inside and some are beautiful inside and out.

I’ve tried to examine why I personally hate having my picture taken. It’s not just how I look physically. I don’t really think I’m ugly even though I’m overweight and have any number or imperfections. A large majority of pictures I have my eyes shut in which makes me look like a dork. That’s beside the point. I don’t like having that kind of attention where I know I’ll be judged. All this time I thought it was self-loathing. I don’t really like myself. I searched on WordPress under self-loathing and it has people who REALLY hate themselves and are into self-mutilation and self harm. That is so far from me. I don’t want to hurt myself in any way, shape or form. I appreciate the body I have and that I’m able to walk, talk and function as a normal person. I don’t take those things for granted. I do have constant feelings of self doubt. What it boils down to is  I don’t believe in myself.

Beauty is nothing more than confidence. If you are a confident person, you will come across as beautiful. You will project the image that you believe you are beautiful. You are in charge and know what you’re doing. Most of the time I feel like I’m posing as an adult. An imposter who is just winging it as I go through life.

I have a whole other post I need to write about being overweight and what that does to a person’s psyche. Especially a lifetime of being fat and all that goes with it. To shorten the story some, I’ll just say that I was fat since birth. As kids will, I was constantly teased and called Fatso. It made me cry. I cried a lot. I felt powerless over my weight and powerless over how others saw me. I was bullied by 3 different kids in our neighborhood, one included daily beatings. Society was different back then and it was just accepted. An older 6th grade girl got up in my face one day (about 2 inches away) on the school playground at recess. I wasn’t older than 3rd grade but may have been even younger. I didn’t know this girl from Adam and she felt the need to say, “You are so ugly.” Wow. It was unprovoked and I had no response. I just started to cry. Looking back, this girl was super homely herself but I would never go out of my way to hurt someone like that, even if it was true.

Obviously, I have gotten over the above incident and the majority of the other teasing and name calling. However, it did change me in a profound way. I became even shyer. I was a shy kid already and this just made me go into my shell more. I had friends but for the most part, I tried to blend into the woodwork. If someone felt the need to tell me I was ugly, I needed to not be seen. To stay out of the way and not make people have to look at me. When I got to Jr. High School (7th-9th grade), it was a new start and I rose above all this. I even became somewhat popular and loved school. This lasted until I went to High School.

Anyway, feeling that kind of judgement makes me self conscious about everything I do in public. To this day, I’m horribly self-conscious. I don’t know how to fix it. Even making someone wait behind me while I count out change in the checkout lane makes me nervous. I feel like I’m not worthy of holding them up. Or any number of things I might do in front of someone, I feel like even if they don’t say anything they are thinking bad things of me. I don’t talk about this but it is always there.

I don’t feel worthy as a human being a lot of the time. I avoid mirrors. I was raised without a lot of compliments. My dad never gave compliments and my mom was raised without getting them so for her, the best thing she could say was that I looked, “Clean from home.” My dad never told me he loved me which is par for his generation but it still made me insecure. My mom told me and I believed her. I always felt like parents are supposed to love you and when one of them can’t, it has to be my fault. Well, after my dad died, I figured out it had nothing to do with me. However, it still had been ingrained in me for my entire childhood. I would hear my dad talking about my acne or how I needed to lose weight. Even my mom wanted me to lose weight the worst way. I have never wanted to be loved for physical beauty. The Amish side of me wants to be loved because I’m a good person. My husband has told me I’m beautiful (once in a blue moon) but I have a hard time believing it. He also likes to tell me, “You’re such a good person.” I believe him but wonder why no one else notices.

After reaching adulthood, no one dared say outright how fat I was or call me Fatso. But I would catch people talking about me behind my back. Like in a bathroom stall at work. I almost had a panic attack when I heard 2 women I hardly knew talking about me and just picking me apart. They didn’t know I was in there and I stayed in there until they left so they never knew. These 2 women were about the same size as me, maybe a bit bigger. They dolled themselves up though with makeup and hairspray. I just didn’t measure up to their standards.

I don’t know how to love myself. Or even like myself. There’s parts of me that I like but not my looks. It wouldn’t matter if I lost weight, I would still feel the same way about myself. I know this because when I was younger, I did lose weight and I still had no confidence or self esteem.

I admit I am a bit jealous of those with high self esteem. Those that can look at themselves in a mirror and think they look fabulous. I’ve often wondered how everyone else gets such a high opinion of themselves. Do they give themselves pep talks daily? Tell themselves how wonderful they are if no one else will? There’s a woman about 650 lbs. on Instagram who people are constantly telling her “you’re so beautiful”. I don’t get it. I’m not saying she couldn’t be beautiful at that weight. I don’t know if they really mean it since to me, she’s not. But she acts like she believes it and agrees with them. I wouldn’t want people telling that to me unless they truly felt that way and even then it would make me uncomfortable.

There’s a book I heard about called “Unworthy: How To Stop Hating Yourself” by Anneli Rufus. If anyone’s read this and think it would help, let me know. Otherwise if you’ve gone through anything similar or know what steps to take to make me like myself, do tell. I’m all ears! In the meantime, I’ll be looking at all the selfies for the #20beautifulwomenchallenge and feeling left out and out of place. I should be used to it by now, I’ve had enough practice.

 

Pulling A Brian

I’ve been working on a post about the #20beautifulwomenchallenge. I put it down for a week due to being busy with life. I came back to it today and don’t know where I was going with it. So I’m putting it aside while I do a catch up post.

It’s never good news when the phone rings after 10 pm at night. That’s what happened on Wed. Feb. 4th. Greg answered the phone and I held my breath. It was his sister Linda calling to say that their brother Brian (who just turned 57 last month) fell down in his kitchen and was in the hospital. His wife had gone to bed and was calling to him and when he didn’t come to bed and didn’t answer, she came to check on him. He was lying in a pool of blood. Apparently, he passed out and didn’t even put his arms out to break his fall. He literally did a faceplant. He didn’t break his nose but had 5 skull fractures in his face. They took him to the hospital and he didn’t regain consciousness until like 3 am. He doesn’t remember anything and has a concussion. He spent a week in the hospital, a few days of it in ICU. Then on Wed. Feb. 11th he was discharged and sent to a nursing home! He needs all kinds of physical therapy. Basically relearning a lot of things. After a week there, he’s doing a lot better except for mastering how to eat with a fork. 2 things stuck out to me that I’ll probably never get the answers to: Did his glasses break? (maybe that’s part of how he cut his face) And What time do they go to bed?! The fact that all this took place and they got him to the hospital and alerted the family and it passed around to relatives, all by just after 10 pm?! He’ll be in the nursing home for at least 30 days since that’s what his insurance will cover. Now we say, “Be careful, you don’t want to pull a Brian.”

This is another example of how life can literally change in a matter of seconds. You can be doing fine and have something just terrible happen that can impact your life for months! A woman Greg works with tripped over her own feet in her kitchen and fell and broke her hip and elbow back in Nov. She’s almost 70 (yes, a lot of old people work with my husband. They just won’t ever retire!) and has been off work ever since. She had a hip replacement since the bone just shattered. About a year ago she had fallen in a parking lot while on work time and broke her wrist and was off work for a few months. Then another guy my husband worked with in a different dept. fell out off a ladder last June. He was trimming a tree and in a split second he lost his balance and fell off. He broke his back, legs and at least one arm. He came in after the first of the year to put in his notice that he was retiring. He’d been off since the accident. Plus everybody knows someone who had a horrific car accident that changed their lives.

It really gives a person pause to think of all this. I’m overly careful as it is but can you ever be TOO careful?! Apart from living life in a bubble, there are plenty of things that can and do go wrong. Now I’m going to go back to finish the other post before something dreadful happens! ;-)

 

The Curiosity Shop

Before noon, we had an 11" snow cake.

Before noon, we had an 11″ snow cake.

Now is the perfect time to sit down and write a blog post since we’re in the middle of a blizzard. It is so eerily quiet when it’s snowing that hard and for that long. No one is on the roads or even the sidewalks. We had about a foot of snow by noon and 17″ by 6 pm.  They’re predicting several more inches in the next 12 hours or so. Everyone is huddled indoors watching the Super Bowl but we’re not. Hubby had to work and our football team isn’t playing so we’re skipping it this year. Hubby just got home and is snowblowing the driveway and sidewalks. It’s windy so it’s drifting very badly. He’ll probably have to do it again tomorrow morning before he leaves for work. I got outside in the backyard a bit this morning to play with the dogs but it’s bitter cold too.

Elvis in the snow.

Elvis in the snow.

Amber loves snow.

Amber loves snow.

Ivy hates snow.

Ivy hates snow.

On Valentine’s Day, it will be 2 years that we’ve been actively going to estate sales. I know winter is the slowest time of the year for sales but this is the worst I’ve seen. We only hit one estate sale on Thurs. and one on Sat. Since we had a bit of free time on Thurs. and were in Chicago, we made a point to go to Andersonville (the neighborhood) to Woolly Mammoth. That’s an oddities shop that I found on Instagram. They have a lot of taxidermy animals and all around odd stuff. Basically, right up our alley! They’re open noon until 7 pm. We got there right at noon and the owner arrived right behind us ready to open the store.

Inside the wonderland called Woolly Mammoth.

Inside the wonderland called Woolly Mammoth.

Love this helmet & mortar shell lamp.

Love this helmet & mortar shell lamp.

Xray reader and framed wishbones.

Xray reader and framed wishbones.

We spent an hour walking around admiring everything and talking to Skye. She and her husband have owned it for 5 years and she also works full time and travels internationally for her job. I was as impressed with her as I was with the place. They are both artists and it shows. They have such a creative mindset. They’ve made use of every square inch of the building which is part museum, part curiosity shop. We didn’t end up buying anything because the prices were higher than we’re used to. I don’t begrudge them charging them though. They have unique items and sell to a niche market who will gladly pay to acquire pieces for their collections. Someday I’d like to go back, especially if they have a sale. :-) I encourage anyone who’s in the area to stop by and browse around like we did.

Fish and pool playing frogs.

Fish and pool playing frogs.

Part art museum, part freak show.

Part art museum, part freak show.

I want to take the wallaby home.

I want to take the wallaby home.

We had one more hour of paid street parking so I looked up (on Yelp) if there were any antique stores in the area. About 2 blocks away on Clark St., there were at least 6! We only made it to the first one. Brownstone Antiques has been around 20 years and it is the exact opposite of Woolly Mammoth. Everything looks like it has barely made it in the door and they put it in the first open spot they found. Usually on top of a several foot high pile of other things. There’s a path down the middle to walk and another path about halfway up another side and then it’s blocked by furniture. This is a digger’s dream. Nothing is grouped together, you have to search to find anything. If you’re a pirate, this is where the treasure is buried! ;-) Some things have price tags, a lot doesn’t. I found some jadeite bowls, a couple of hand vases and 2 crosses. If we’d had more time, we would’ve found more. There was a huge pile of ephemera that I simply love looking through. Like old postcards and photographs. I like to get a huge box or bag full for a cheap price (like $5-10) and “play with” them. I don’t even look at them until I get home. I’m not sorting them and picking out the good ones in the store. I would just grab a bunch or let the owner grab a bunch and shove them in a bag. I asked him about that and he said he’d have to go through each one individually and then he’d give me a price for the whole lot. I said I don’t have time to look through them myself so I had to pass. :-( I especially love seeing someone’s whole life in pictures. You get an idea of what the person’s life was like and their personal history.

Brownstone Anttiques. Looking towards front door.

Brownstone Anttiques. Looking towards front door.

Looking deeper into the store.

Looking deeper into the store.

Now I’m excited to get back to Chicago and check out the other antique stores. This probably won’t happen for months but it’s fun to dream about on a snowy winter day. ;-)

 

Oh Deer

As I alluded to in my Ringing In The New Year post, we had some unexpected excitement and fun on our vacation. On Wed. Dec. 30th (2 days before we left), Greg was walking the dogs behind Hollywood Casino in Tunica. He was crossing over the levy and found quite an attractive deer ass. Not attached to a deer! Just the tail and skin/fur surrounding the rear portion. He came back to tell me about it and it just sounded too strange (code word for interesting for me) that I had to go see it for myself. So we walked back over there with the dogs and I saw it. It was like the rump of the deer had been scalped. I was wondering where the rest of the deer was. The remaining deer body couldn’t have been eaten bones and all, could it?!
Deer butt

Deer butt

We were on the edge of the woods and I saw something a few feet away so I walked over. Sure enough, there was the head of the deer with a nice rack (antlers). It was completely intact, only a bit of the nose had been picked at. It was a substantial specimen with the bloody spine still attached. It was minus all meat and picked cleaner than baby back ribs at a cookout. Once again, I wondered where the rest of the deer was. It couldn’t have all gotten “et” (southern for eaten). A few feet beyond that were 2 of the hooves and parts of those 2 legs. Later we found the stomach (full of waste) on top of the levy a little further down. That was all that remained from such a huge, prideful and gentle creature.
Hooves

Hooves

We always see deer when we’re down at this RV park. They venture out of the woods at dusk and later. There’s a whole community of them since we’ve seen up to 9 of them at a time. There had been one large one that had come very close to our campsite, into a different field and had been showing up there every night around midnight. Greg had seen it when he’d take the dogs out at night. This one would show up alone and didn’t seem to be as afraid as the others. It would let them get within 50 feet and not run away. We have a great respect and love for these majestic creatures. To find one dismembered gave us pause.
Dead animal FTW.

Dead animal FTW.

So many things went through my mind. Naturally, the first thing I thought of was: this is what happens in a horror movie! ;-) People stumble upon dismembered animals and then are the next to be torn to shreds by some unknown creature in the woods. Ha ha. It was amusing to entertain the thought until it started getting dark. ;-) Hubby’s first thought was: Treasure Hunting: Mississippi Edition. Some people can hunt (with a gun) for years and never bag this kind of trophy! Also what better thing to just come across at random that people pay lots of money for–a deer head mount. We already have 2 antelopes we got at an estate sale hanging in our upstairs hallway on either side of a huge sailfish. We can totally appreciate the beauty in God’s creatures and are all about recycling and repurposing things. Also cleaning up the environment.
Found in the woods

Found in the woods

My hubby doesn’t believe in fate but there are times that I do. This was one of them. It just seemed meant to be. Or at least that’s how I fantasized it up in my mind. After looking at it, I took a bunch of pictures and we went back to the RV. We had to talk about it and see how to proceed. Greg is always worried about getting in trouble. Probably because in the state we live in (Illinois), you can’t do anything without a license or permit. So hubby was on his way to the police station to ask them if it would be ok if we just took the head. He ran into a sheriff in the parking lot and asked him. He said he saw nothing wrong with it but gave him the phone number for the DNR (Dept. of Natural Resources). He called and that guy said he thought it was ok but to call the game warden. So Greg called the game warden and he was fine with it. So we gathered a few tools (hammer and pocketknife) and a couple of black garbage bags and went back.
Good eatin'.

Good eatin’.

As we were returning to the scene, we saw a huge bird of prey flying away. Maybe that’s who had been eating on the nose. We knew we had to work fast since it would be dark in less than an hour. I held the dogs and tried to videotape Greg at the same time. This was my first time using my new iphone 6+ so it was shaky plus I kept getting distracted by the dogs. Greg used both the hammer and knife to try to separate the skull from the spine. It didn’t happen easily. Finally he started twisting the head and kept turning it until it snapped. This is how serial killers start. Then we took pictures of each of us holding up the head. Yes, we’re barbarians. He put the head in one of the bags. Then I was trying to convince hubby to get the legs for a table. He tried for a minute and said it was too hard. I don’t think his heart was in it. He did humor me when I said I wanted the deer ass though. That tail is so cute and if we could figure out how to taxidermy it, it would be adorable hanging on the wall. I’m not as sick as I sound, I promise.
Hard at work.

Hard at work.

I don’t know too many wives that would get this excited about finding a dead animal. The best things in life are free. Hubby and I were both almost giddy. We were making jokes as we walked back with our pirate’s booty. insert reference to the tv show Dexter about a serial killer who would’ve loved this.
Head and spine.

Head and spine.

After getting back to the RV, I set about researching how to clean the skull. Apparently there are several methods. Some include chemicals, others involve bugs that eat away the flesh (shudder) and others call for boiling the skull and scrubbing it away with a steel brush. EW! Not what I expected. On tv they always show rednecks doing taxidermy. How hard can it be?! Well, if you’ve never done it before…VERY HARD. It’s out of our skillset. But we’re not giving up. We are going to give it a try in Spring. (Spring is the mythical timeframe before Someday.) It will take us that long to gear ourselves up to do it.
Victory.

Victory.

In the meantime, what’s the status of our find? It is frozen and sitting under snow on the side of our house. This is a fenced in area, not accessible to the dogs. We have nothing in there now at all. It never gets any sunlight and is always wet. Almost an unholy place. I’ve been trying to talk hubby into putting down some large patio blocks since it’s too muddy for grass or a garden. We’ve tried both with no luck. Once the patio block is in, I want to use it for storage.
Nice rack.

Nice rack.

Worst case scenario? We screw it up and have to throw out the free deer. Best case scenario? We have some radically cool souvenir from our trip. I think it’s a risk worth taking. I will have to document the rest of the adventure in pictures. :-)

 

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