Friday, August 11, 2017

Stream of consciousness

Just a post to say that everything's okay, or as okay as it seems to be lately. I'm out at my Mom's as much as I can be, doing shopping for her, taking care of her business. I'm spending a lot of time paying bills and going through Dad's paperwork, and working with a financial planner to try to be a good steward of my folks' assets.

And we're trying to figure out how to handle getting the folks' house cleaned out, cleaned up, and sold, and it's such a huge undertaking that it's basically overwhelming.

I keep thinking that it's hard enough running your own life, let alone running someone else's.

My house is a disaster. When we were preparing for Dad's funeral, I hadn't planned on doing anything with photos, but Mom wanted them, so I went over to the old house and brought home all of the photo albums -- ALL of them, which was, I don't know, maybe twenty of them. I went through them and selected photos for the funeral and made a display, and now I've got all of those albums here. I don't really want to put them in the basement, because we have a water/humidity problem down there and I don't want to ruin them, but I don't have room for them upstairs so they're sitting in the hall.

And that's something else that's keeping me from working at the old house -- of course there are things there that I would like to have, but I have NO room here, and I think my sisters and brother are probably in the same situation. So we're going to end up selling or giving away everything. And my Mom thinks she might like to have some of the things from the house, but she can't remember what, and there's no way that we can get her over there to the basement.

Anyway, like I've said before, it's just life. This stage of life -- where we end up taking care of our parents -- isn't a whole lot of fun. I want Mom to everything that she needs and/or wants but I still have to be sure that it's the right thing for her, and the right thing to do. She would like to have a rocking chair at her apartment, and there is one at home, but I don't think they'll let her have it there because it's a safety risk, but I need to find out about it.

Now I'm overwhelming myself again and feeling upset. It will all get resolved and figured out, but sometimes it feels like a lot to handle.

Just a stream-of-consciousness update. More later.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

So

So. It's tempting to list out all the things that have happened, that have gone wrong, in the last year and a half, but there's really no point to that. It's just life, and as I remind myself, our life is pretty good -- very good, in fact -- and many people have a lot more to deal with than we do.

It's been a little over a year since I lost my job, and while it wasn't what I wanted, I don't know how I would have handled all of the things that have happened if I had also had to go to work every day.

Bob's dad passed away in October. One of Bob's brothers had been living with his dad, helping him, taking him to doctor's appointments, etc. He needed a few months to get things together after their dad died, and he moved out of the house shortly after the first of the year. Bob put the house on the market the first of April, and it sold immediately. With closing a couple of weeks after that, the house had to be emptied and cleaned, and with Bob working every day, most of that fell to me.

I spent quite a few days over there packing up the kitchen and dining room and throwing things away. In the end, we ended up getting the 1-800-JUNK people to come out and haul a lot of stuff away. Much of it was furniture that there was nothing wrong with, but it was stuff that no one in the family wanted. While I would have liked to have taken some of it, I didn't need it, and didn't have room for anything anyway. It was an expensive choice, but we just didn't feel like we had the time or energy to have an estate sale or put things up on Craigslist. I gave a few pieces away to a friend, and that was the extent of it.

Bob and I spent a couple of days cleaning everything, scrubbing out the refrigerator, cleaning the carpets, etc., and the closing went through fine.

That same week, my dad got sick. He had a bad cold and cough; he choked on a large pill that he was trying to take, aspirated, and ended up in the hospital with pneumonia. Two weeks after that, he passed away. There was a lot of in-between, of course -- lots of talking to doctors and nurses, getting my mom back and forth to the hospital, filling out a lot of paperwork, then getting him moved to a nursing home under hospice care, where he died on May 1.

Then came planning the funeral, notifying relatives and friends, etc. I went through hundreds of photographs to make collages for the funeral, wrote the obituary, met with the funeral home people, chose flowers . . .

The whole thing was kind of an interesting experience, and while I wouldn't say I *enjoyed* it, I was glad that I had the opportunity to do these things for my father. The funeral was fine; there weren't as many people there as I had expected, but later I realized that he was one of the last of his generation. There just aren't many of his friends around anymore. We had the funeral in his and my mom's hometown, a small town in Missouri. It was a full military funeral with a 21-gun salute, and two Naval seamen in dress whites removed the flag from the coffin and folded it in a wonderful ceremony.

I had held it together pretty well, but the memory of the seaman kneeling in front of my mother to present the flag to her can make me cry even now.

With my mother being legally blind, profoundly deaf, and disabled from a stroke years ago, handling my parents' affairs falls to me. I've spent the last couple of weeks calling insurance companies and banks, brokerage houses, lawyers, etc., and there's really no end in sight. I have an appointment with our attorney tomorrow to go over some stuff with him. I sat at my mother's assisted living apartment last Thursday while a cable installer set up cable and new telephone service, and my brother and sister and I have taken turns being over there with her.

While they were installing cable, I had them install wifi also, so I can take my laptop over and work in Dad's office while I'm getting things transitioned. I will probably eventually move things over to my house, but for now I'm just feeling my way through it.

As we do everything in life, I guess. We just do the best we can and somehow it all seems to work out.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Body blow

Sometimes I feel like giving up, like curling up in the corner and just letting it all wash over me, but I can't. You can't do that, you have to go on, there isn't really a choice. It just seems like life is so hard sometimes. I know that I'm very lucky. I'm loved, I have a good life. Things are hard sometimes, the last couple of years have been hard, the last couple of months have been really difficult. Sometimes it's just hard to be positive.

I was out at my folks' assisted living apartment today helping them with some stuff (which is difficult at the best of times), and I checked my email to find that I'd been fired by a client because she hadn't received an email from me on a project, and she felt that I had overcharged her. And consequently, she no longer wanted to work with me, and would be finding someone else to do her website work.

I had sent the email. I don't know why she didn't receive it. And I didn't overcharge her. I charged her for the time I spent, but she didn't think it should have taken that long. Whatever. I definitely don't think I'm perfect, and I don't expect everyone to like me, but it was out of the blue and it hurt. I do try to remember that not everything is about me, that everyone has stuff going on, and maybe it had nothing to do with me at all, but it sure feels personal. Just a body blow when I didn't need another one.

Oh well. Onward and upward.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

And the hits just keep coming

Bob had an appointment with his cardiologist last Tuesday. I went with him, but it was just a routine visit. But the doctor decided that he wanted to get some more bloodwork done, so after we left his office we went out to the clinic to have blood drawn. We visited with Bob's doctor, who is also his best friend, then went out to brunch. Bob was leaving for a work trip to Florida the next day, so we came home, did laundry, and started packing for the trip.

About 8:30 that night, the phone rang, and the caller i.d. said Encompass Medical Group. I thought maybe it was an appoinemtnt reminder or something, but it seemed strange they would call so late, so I answered the phone. It was a nurse who said she was working the night shift and was looking at his blood results. She said his sugar was out of sight and he should probably be in the hospital.

So that was a little unsettling.

I handed the phone to Bob, and she told him the same thing, and said she was going to call his doctor. Bob went out to take a drive to clear his head, and I kept on packing. While he was out, he talked to the doctor, who told him that he now has full-fledged diabetes, obviously uncontrolled, and he would be much happier if he stayed home. Bob said that he couldn't, that he had to go. So John told him, okay, if you have to go, then you have to cut your calorie intake in half, cut way down on carbs, don't have any sugar, and no beer. He also told him to tell the guy he was sharing the hotel room with that if he (Bob) started acting goofy, to call 911. That was a set-up for a joke, to be sure, because his roommate said, "How will I tell, he's ALWAYS goofy."

Bob had been taking medication for diabetes, but it obviously wasn't doing enough, so I talked to the doctor and we set up an appointment to meet to get info on blood glucose testing and insulin injection. In the meantime, Bob did great on his trip. He called me and told me what he was eating -- mostly salad, some fruit, lean meat -- and said he felt fine. His return trip ended up being ridiculous, though. He had a flight at 9:00 in the morning, but it was delayed, which caused him to miss the connection. All of the flights were overbooked, so the best they could do for him was a flight leaving around 9:00 p.m., which got in at 10:30. So by the time I picked him up and got his luggage, etc., we got home at 11:30. Super long day.

Most of my day today was spent wrangling blood testing supplies. The prescriptions that were called in to the pharmacy added up to around $300. Fortunately, my sister suggested checking at WalMart before picking up the prescription, and I ended up buying a testing meter, testing strips, lancets, alcohol wipes and a sharps container for a little over $20. The only thing I had to buy at the pharmacy was the insulin and needles, and that was $50, so I spent $70, but way better than $300.

So anyway, he's doing fine. Not happy about it, of course, but he's taking it pretty well. He was practicing sticking his finger tonight, and said it looks like we've got a whole pharmacy going on up in his office. And it does indeed.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Quick Trip / QuikTrip

So, I'm still sick. It seemed to be winding down, but I've been coughing and unable to sleep, so I got some Mucinex last night. After the huge horse pill got stuck in my throat and practically choked me, I waited, but it didn't seem to do anything. Bob was going out of town this morning, we weren't finished doing laundry and packing until after midnight, and I wanted to let him get to sleep before I came to bed. So I sat in my chair downstairs and coughed myself dizzy. The coughing finally seemed to stop, and I slept a couple of hours, but now I guess the Mucinex is doing its work and I'm coughing stuff up and (sorry) it's disgusting.

He left for Florida this morning for five days for some work training. The plane left at 7:00, so we got up at 4:00, which gave me, I think, a total of about three hours of sleep. We stopped at QuikTrip so he could get a cup of coffee. I just had a bottle of water, because I was afraid of another coughing spell.

I got him to the airport and dropped him off at curbside check-in, and drove home, then went back to bed until I was woken up by a coughing spell. This seems to be taking a long time to get rid of, but I almost never get sick, so I suppose that's why it feels so awful.

At least it's warmer, though! I think it's supposed to be in the upper 60s today, then back down to the 30s the rest of the week. We live in a four-plex, an interior one, so that helps with heating and cooling. The little electric forced-air heaters work great, we've got one in the bedroom, one in Bob's office, and one downstairs where I normally work. The plan is go get through until late Spring and then replace the entire heating and cooling system. Not looking forward to that, but it has to be done.

It's 61 out now, I guess I should go out and enjoy it.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Penny Soup

I'm sick, and our furnace isn't working, but I'm not stupid, I know I don't want to get a furnace bid from someone when it's 2 degrees out. Or, you know, maybe I AM stupid, but that's a different story. And whenever I'm sick, I want soup, but not just ANY soup, MY vegetable soup. And I was also cold, so that didn't help.

So I went to Target and bought a couple of little portable space heaters and vegetables to make soup. Every time I make vegetable soup, I'm reminded of the scene in Anne Tyler's "Ladder of Years" (my all time favorite book) where the little boy is missing his mother, and asks for "penny soup." The dad asks him what penny soup is, and the little boy tells him it's vegetable soup.

So the dad dices the vegetables and makes homemade soup, and is quite proud of himself, but the little boy cries. Dad is upset because he doesn't know what he did wrong.

When he asks Delia about it, she tells him that any mother would know what penny soup is. It's when you SLICE the carrots so that they look like pennies. Whether that's true or not, that any mother would know, I don't know, but I always remember it.

So soup is in the crock pot and I'm finally warm.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Moving forward

I started this blog back in 1995, before "blog" was even a word. At the time, it was an "online journal," and I remember thinking how dumb "blog" (then "weblog") sounded. But now it sounds perfectly normal, and pretty much everyone has one. Well, not everyone, certainly, but an exponentially larger group than existed at the time.

When I started it, I wrote every day, and it was a huge struggle to think of something to say. I remember sitting in my chair with the laptop on my lap late at night, searching for something to write, because I knew that people were waiting to read it. In fact, if I didn't write one night, I could expect to wake up to emails asking if I was okay!

It became a burden, and I eventually allowed myself to stop writing every day. I instituted a mailing list so I could let readers know when I had posted a journal entry. That eventually fell by the wayside as well. I was working a full time job (a series of them, actually), and writing in the evenings. That worked for awhile, but then I started doing freelance web design also, and it just got to be too much, so of course, the non-paying gig was the one that suffered.

Now that I'm working from home, one of my goals is to write much more. I'm following several self-help gurus, one of whom is Leonie Dawson. She publishes a set of workbooks that guide you through a series of exercises to help you improve your life and business. One of the exercises is to write down 100 things that you would like to accomplish in the next year. When I started writing them down, 100 seemed like a huge number, but I'm now up to 64! Some of them are fairly small and easy to accomplish (get new glasses, inventory the safe deposit box), but some of them are huge (clean out my parents' house, write another book). A couple of them I've already done (pay off Bob's hospital bill!, get a new wedding ring set!).

Okay, the wedding ring set was a $65 set from Kohl's, but it's beautiful, and will suffice until I can, someday, get my engagement ring diamond reset in a ring that actually fits my finger.

The point is, make some goals--some that may be fairly easy to achieve, and a lot that may be harder. One of my biggest goals, now that I no longer have a full time job, is to figure out ways to generate more income. A couple of my friends have suggested that I set up a system whereby people could help me out by paying small amounts for the content that I provide, such as this blog. I've resisted it because it's so hard to ask for those kinds of things, but one of my goals this year is to be braver.

When I was building my new website this summer, I got up my courage and asked my website clients to give me testimonials, and they did. It was hard for me to ask, but no one minded (I don't think), and they wrote some great stuff.

So I'm being brave, and I've added a "Paypal Me" link at the top right of this blog. If you click on it you can send me some Paypal money! I've also set up a Patreon page. There's nothing there yet, because I have some questions.

I can set up the page either as a monthly subscription or "pay as you go" where you would donate a certain amount each time I post something. That's the one I'm leaning toward, but what do you think?

Also, Patreon asks you to set up rewards for various levels like crowdsourcing sites do, i.e., if someone donates $5, I'll send you a thank you email, if you donate $50, I'll mention you on the blog, if you donate $500 I'll name my first-born child after you. You know, like that. What would make sense? What would you like? Could you either leave a comment here telling me what you think, or send me an email? I would appreciate it so much!

Feeding Myself with Love

​One morning last week I was hungry, and was going to go scrounge something in the kitchen, probably a Pop Tart. I almost never cook for myself, I just don't see the point. And working from home, I don't even think about eating until I'm starving. It's different from going out to work, when I always either put together a lunch to take with me, or planned to go out, or planned to eat something that I had at work. When all you have to do is walk to the kitchen, the planning kind of goes out the window.

So, the plan, such as it was, was a Pop Tart or a frozen waffle or, I don't know, peanut butter on a piece of bread. Then I thought, you know, you might try treating yourself like you would treat someone you loved. So I scrambled a couple of eggs with onions and mushrooms, made toast and poured orange juice and ate it on a real plate. It was lovely, and I felt as if I had treated myself well.

I feel like I'm always quoting Anne Lamott, but there's a story she tells about radical self-care. She asks (paraphrasing here), if you invited the minister to lunch, would you meet her at the door and say, "Reverend, here's your very own can of Ptingles," and eat them standing up in the kitchen over the sink? Of course you wouldn't. You would cook something wonderful, one of your best dishes, and serve it on your best china with real silverware and a tablecloth and a glass of iced tea.

Certainly you won't do that every day, just like you wouldn't invite the minister over every day, but it's definitely something to think about.

I'm not a huge fan of cooking, but I always try to have something for Bob when he comes home from work. It's not always elaborate, but it's usually something hot, and I make an effort to present it in a pleasing way. I arrange the plate on a tray with a napkin and silverware. I may add a small dish of olives, or if it's a sandwich, there is also a pickle. It sounds silly, and I guess it makes me sound like a 1950's housewife, but I try to do everything with love, and he's always appreciative, and that makes me happy.

I try to remember that it'd also important to treat myself well. I may not always do that, either, but it's worth making an effort.