October is Pink

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October is an important month. It is when I wear pink as often as possible and my breast cancer ribbon earrings every day til the last week of October (when I move to the Halloween décor!). I bake heart cookies and decorate them accordingly, give them away, and hope that as they are eaten people think about breast cancer.

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I am a strong advocate of breast awareness for many reasons. First and foremost, I rather like them! I’m getting more favorable towards my own (for decades I disliked them because of their small size. Over the last couple of years, I’ve learned to appreciate them more), my grandma died from breast cancer, my mum had both of her breasts removed because of cancer, and other female relations have had cancerous experiences with their ladies.

I myself have had numerous scans and mammograms. My least favorite was when a ‘clip’ was inserted into one of them as a marker. I recall a mammogram I had a year or more after that rather traumatic surgery. The lady tech (who was not supposed to interpret things) put the images on the wall for me to look at. The metal clip was glaringly obvious. She then remarked, ‘Why on earth did they put that in there, those look great!’ I smiled.

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This month, I’ve practically forgotten it was October! I don’t have a single pair of breast cancer earrings with me (I should have had Little Bear bring me up my fall earrings…). I have looked thru mum’s crowded boxes of jewelry and knew there was at least one pair in and amongst the scrambled bling. Today, I decided I wanted a pair. I went in her room and realized she’d piled clothing up against the dresser the boxes were jenga stacked on. I carefully opened box after box and found everything but the ones I knew were there. Then, I knocked over a tiny box. Inside was a single pair of earrings, one of her more expensive pairs. I recall glaring at the empty box. Carefully, I found both bits in the haystack of wires and sparklies, placed them in the small container, and promptly knocked the lid off onto the floor. I could see the lid, but to get to it would take some work. I opted to quit while I was behind and placed the box on top of another stack. (It might not fall off!) I then went over to the box of earrings I wasn’t going to get into. I had made mum a pair of breast cancer earrings and she wore them a couple of times. I didn’t want to wear them, in case she wanted to, but took them anyway. She said it was ok and I was entirely thankful.

I’ll go back in her room later and see if I can get the lid and find the pair I know she’s not worn in years!

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Autumn Cat Nips

The cat is above all things, a dramatist. ~Margaret Benson

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Falling leaves are curious things for an inquisitive feline. They bounce and roll and tumble across the grass in a most intriguing manner.

I’m always nervous when Moses stares intently at maple leaves curling across the street, cars have little sense when it comes to darting cats. Thankfully, there is a large yard with sidewalks for Moses and Maxwell to lounge in. (Not that they stay there!) One of the messiest things the cats do is to roll in the crunchy, colorful fallen foliage. I’m never quite sure if they enjoy the scratchiness or the scent or if there is any reason at all! Mayhap, it is because fall is their season. Both Maxwell and Moses came to us in the fall.

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Mittens is an inside cat, but even she was caught staring at the birch leaves blowing away from the lawn mower as I pushed it around the yard the week before last. I felt sad for her. The focused look as she perched on her hind legs reminded me of her sheltered life within four walls. When I came in later, she tripped me while I was getting her bedtime snack. I stopped feeling sorry for her!

Stellar to Sticky

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Photo by R. Baker: somewhere in AZ.

Monday was the most lovely day ever! It was crisp and sunny and practically perfect in every way from top to toe. Getting to take a stress free shower at a friend’s vied with any number of good things that happened. It truly was a blessing to take a shower and know the laundry room wasn’t going to flood, to know I had room to stretch out (the shower I use is incredibly small, even for a person who is 5’2”!), and to get completely tidy. I didn’t even need to wear shower shoes in case of ‘something’ backing up into the shower!

I got errands done, found the shirt I’d put back at the Salvation Army, stopped at a local store and got some popcorn, and managed to get home in time to make dinner.

Once home, I added more solution to the drains and tested it before bed. It rose a little bit and eventually subsided, we’ll see how it does tonight. Because I am itchy with dried sweat and sawdust! (I even found debris in my tank top!)

Much of today wasn’t too bad. I slept most of the morning and spent the afternoon working with a friend. He’d come over to cut up a downed tree and pare down some other things which sort of needed removed. The place looks rather bare now, tidier but bare. My favorite outside nudist spot is now visible to everywhere, so I reckon I’m glad snow is on the way! It looks a bit like a tall bench and may be perfect for another bird feeding station. He kept telling me to ‘be careful’ or ‘not to move the heavy stuff’. I finally had to tell him I wasn’t a shrinking violet. I am a short violet, but definitely not a shrinking one!

We had a scare while he was chainsawing up the shrubbery. Mum has cables all over the yard going from one end of the partial acre to the house for her TV and internet. At one point, the chainsaw nicked one of those black lines hidden in the mulch. I ran inside and there was a hockey game on, so it appeared we were ok. (The line was an old one–I hope!) He found some electrical tape in his truck and wrapped it anyway. Later, after he left, I was in the basement and didn’t have on any lights. Suddenly, mum yells to say the power went off. I checked and it wasn’t. She insisted her hockey game was gone. My heart plummeted to my toes! Thankfully, it was a game she wasn’t eligible for and the network stopped it before it got too far.

Before dinner, mum said she needed her fitting changed. I said it was about time, it had been almost a week since the last one. She kept putting it off and then my youngest called and was telling me about something kind of important. Guess when she wanted me? She was seriously put out I was ‘busy’. I changed it and thought it looked strange. It was ‘messy’ and just didn’t look like how I’d put it on. Well, mum said she changed it herself 3 days ago. I told her it would be better if she had me do it. I could tell it wasn’t as clean as it should have been. She was grumpy with me, she’s been changing her own fittings for 30 years (and changing them often as she has always had trouble!), and feels she does perfectly fine!

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photo taken August 2016, before MORE totes were stacked in front of the ones shelved.

After that incident, mum decided she wanted yarn for pom-poms to adorn some hats she’d made. She was sure she had something in the basement. I looked thru at least 23 totes and bags to find yarn that was near the right kind and color. (Dye lots are kind of important when trying to match or mesh colors!) I moved those totes, almost tripped over the cat several times, and once came close to knocking a stack over on top of myself! I got hot and sweaty all over again!!! (I’m seriously wishing I could drive to my friend’s for another shower, I’m so nervous to use mine!)

While I was getting mum her snack and meds, The Craftsman called. He had talked to me for a bit on Saturday night, texted me a couple of times on Sunday, then once on Monday. After getting mum sorted, I called back. I told him how cold it was and about the wood and he commented on what Bear had shared, told me he had put up Halloween lights Monday and Tuesday after work, and that his mum had liked the birthday card and treats I’d sent. (He goes up to visit with her almost every night or he calls-her house has the shop and other assorted ‘man cave’ spots and is a few blocks from ours) I was trying to decide if it really mattered he was too tired to call me, but found time to see his mum and put up lights and watch TV and attend a men’s group at the church. Then, I realized, he did call me on Saturday night for a bit (8 minutes) and then the call tonight (13 minutes). I also know there is a time lapse between Oregon and Alaska and he’s really busy. I reckon I need to focus on the quality and not the quantity.

On that note, I am off to test the waters. Wish me luck! (I put old newspapers all around the drain, just in case!)

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Another Brick in the Wall (not Pink Floyd)

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Mum is a wall. A huge brick wall.

It is colder now, snow is not forecast, but it is eminent. We’ve not put mum’s car in the garage for years. I’d like to. It is a double car garage. The stacks of totes in there are a bit daunting. A friend offered the help of herself and her husband to rearrange stuff to make space for the rig. I went talked to mum about this proposition and she agreed it was a good idea. Except, she needs to be able to go through the totes when she gets time, to empty them out. (WTF!) She’d not mind if they were brought into the house for her to work on. She also would like things arranged so she’ll be able to reach things she’s been looking for. She has quite a few boxes of books and craft materials stashed outside, she’d like to be able to use them.

So, we are not moving anything today. Probably not for a long time, if ever. The only reason those totes are IN the garage is because the rooms were cleaned out when she wasn’t there. She was very put out about it, but it was done. Now, she’s ‘better’ and in the vicinity of the garage, so she can work. Not that she could do anything during the summer, she had too many health issues then. There is no way I’ll put any of those in the house. (adding photos from previous post to refresh memories) They are large and heavy and there isn’t any room.

This afternoon, I’ll go out to the garage and pull the totes from their stacked position, arrange them on the floor, then she can go out there at her leisure (generally when I’m not home) to go through them. Bringing more stuff inside and filling up the few moderately empty spaces there are.

Meanwhile, I am going to go back to sleep. Into the oblivion of a clutter free rest where snow can fall and cover gently.

Although, I’ve had some pretty bizarre dreams lately and they have NOT been entirely restful! Most have been scary, or startling, or even absolutely ridiculous.

Oh, Bother Blue

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When my youngest was in HS we moved to the house we now live in. He wanted his bedroom blue and I was given the task to bring home color chips. I fell in love with one in the Disney section. The color was gorgeous and the name cracked me up. When I brought the chips home to the kid, he preferred the Disney color over the others. I managed to keep the name from him til the room was painted. It makes the mother heart in me smile to know the kid’s room is ‘Oh bother, blue.’  I wish I was there to see it again-although, he has covered the walls with Ford posters, skulls, antlers, and a variety of hunting paraphernalia and images.

Of all the things I do not like, I do not like to be a bother. I go out of my way to make sure the way is smooth for others, to make sure I am not causing a roadblock I may imagine. These last weeks, I feel as if I am a bother. I don’t want to ask anyone for anything. I feel like I’m in the way in many areas. I’m afraid to talk to people, I keep repeating myself and it is dull. I want to turn off my phone and avoid people. I see people and sometimes cringe. They need to hear how good mum is doing and I hate to put on that feels good hat.  I pour out whenever asked and forget to remember I’m also getting filled. I have gone from ‘Que Sera, Sera’ to ‘it doesn’t matter’. I laugh to myself as I whine about mum striving for normalcy because, I am doing the same. I do my damnedest to make positive her world is free of intrusive particles. Things I know she’d not take care of anyway, but need addressed. She doesn’t really notice much more than me ‘hovering’. She hates I change her fittings and give her shots. She hates I have to drive her places. She insists she wants to manage her own finances, later. We don’t love each other like storybooks and others say we should. We’ll drive for hours without speaking because I don’t enjoy my words being dismissed. It is the way it has always been and I don’t expect it to change.

It has probably been a bit obvious that the projections of my cheerfulness and seeking for good things is a bit forced lately. I know trying to do positive things for me or embracing enjoyment is important. No matter how small. But it is so hard sometimes. I know what I’m experiencing is light in a country full of hurricanes and fires and storm damages and political mayhem. It doesn’t matter how much I rationalize, I’m often sad. I imagine how I could end my existence and know it is entirely illogical to even imagine such actions. Thankfully, I am logical and suicide has never been a viable option. Responsible people keep moving on in spite of a veil of depression. Of all the points of depression, that one is not one to worry about.

Yes, I admit it. I am depressed. I’ve been in the ‘oh bother, blue’ zone for quite a while, am moving into the darker hues. I’m now on the edge of navy. Not quite there, but near. I find myself close to or bursting into tears at the drop of a thought. (I should stop thinking!) I’ve got two very good books I need to finish and I don’t want to. I took a shower and didn’t care what the water in the laundry room did (It only came up a couple of inches and didn’t flood. It wouldn’t have mattered). Mum doesn’t seem to think there is ever a need for a person to feel depression. She’s always fine. I’m not. I sit at the laptop or with my notebook and write and then decide I need to sleep. I almost always remember birthdays or to send notes and treats to people on holidays. I’ve been horrid about that lately. I have friends who are barely making ends meet and torn to bits because of relationships, ones who have family members who are incredibly sick, others who are lost because of the death of a loved one, and this spot I’m in is pretty good.

My mum is alive. She is well loved by many. Mum sounds and acts quite well. She is able to convince people of her good health. Her stats are good, her tumor marker has dropped again, and I am a small albatross. As for me, I can do almost anything without any help at all, I am fairly healthy, and I have a couple of very good friends who keep an eye on me outside of the internet. I have two boys who communicate with me every so often. I exchange texts with my spouse almost every day and sometimes even phone calls now and then.  I have a place to sleep, clothes and food and insulin and test strips. Yes, things really are pretty good.

And yet, I want to curl up and cry. Tears are such a silly indulgence. I’ve never been a crier and this is ridiculous! I’m a cynical, selfish woman with a not so high self-esteem, who needs to remember that others come before self. I can continue to go through the motions and eventually those motions will be the pattern again.

(a couple of years ago, I went through a bit of depression and was given horrible drugs. I don’t take those. They were nasty bad things. I have not been at this point in quite a while. It will pass, I know it will.)

Play nice

There are a great many people in the world who play nice. There are also quite a few who lack immaturity, playing foul.

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While out and about on Friday, my paths crossed with a number of incredible souls. I’d say about 70% of my real time social interactions are with retail persons or health care professionals. I know they are paid to be on their better behavior. It is always appreciated when they make me feel I am important to them. Warm fuzzy sorts of feels.

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While at the bank, a beloved high school friend hailed me. She was with her mom. I gave them loud cheek kisses while the banker was busy. (Her mom is in her 80’s and adorable!) I then asked the banker, who was looking rather startled at the proceedings, if he wanted one. He declined and added, ‘I get slobbery kisses from my 18 month old every day.” I smiled on the outside and stamped my foot on the inside. My kisses are NOT slobbery!!!! (At least, I don’t think they are….)

I had one place left which I absolutely had to visit as it was after 5 and I had to get to mum soon. The other things on my agenda could wait. I needed to stop at the local Salvation Army store. I arrived and it was crowded!!! I toyed with looking for a couple of items and put them back when the 5 min call echoed thru the busy building. As much as I wanted those two things, I  wanted to unload the boxes and stuff in the back of mum’s car more. Responsibility rules!

(Something about me, as a short person, is a bit insensitive. In crowded groups, I don’t see people who are taller or wider than me. They are nothing more than animated backs or chests or bellies in cloth. It is uncomfortable to constantly look up and up and up while walking.)

I saw a store person and darted thru the maze of bodies, lightly bumping into one. It appeared it was a woman who objected stridently to my rude behavior. I said I was sorry, was totally flustered, and was almost teary as I turned to the employee.

I think I just offended someone.’ I know my voice quavered.

She replied, ‘That’s normal in today’s society.’

After I got rid of the stuff in the car and was on my way back home, I reflected on what happened. The employee’s words were sobering. The incident was silly. I did not knock the woman over, I didn’t knock anything out of her hands, I didn’t even hurt her physically. She could have responded with a passive aggressive laugh or comment, instead of a fully aggressive retort. She could have just let it go. Granted, I could have paid closer attention to the people around me and walked elsewhere. This would have eliminated the situation completely. Since I made a mistake it would have been helpful if her response would have been less condemning.

I imagined she posted something on FB about the short bitch in red who almost ran her down in Salvation Army. The brief interaction might have created a rupture in the latter portion of her day. I felt sorry for her.

I reflected further, thinking about the others I’d encountered. I was thankful this shadowy colorful woman was only a bit of a blip in the social portion of my own day.

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Then today, Saturday afternoon, one of mum’s favorite people stopped by to visit. She brought both of us bouquets of flowers. Because she knows mum doesn’t really like to share them and she is my friend, too. I cried. I love flowers! She said it was cuz they were Bosses Day bouquets and it fit. I laughed inside my tears.  (OMYGOODNESS! She also brought me a Diet Pepsi!)

I can talk!

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When I was little, I had this awesome invention called a record player. I used it all the time. My favorite records (I didn’t know they were called albums til I got older) were TV and movie sound tracks, the kind that had covers that told the stories (In the last part of the 70’s and early 80’s I discovered ELO, ONJ, ABBA, Barry Manilow, and Sean Cassidy, but before that, I lived on stories).

I played Shari Lewis and ‘Song of the South’ over and over. During elementary school, one of my favorite books became a movie. I fell in love with the voices and songs who animated the characters. I ended up listening to The Muppets version of ‘The Frog Prince’ and ‘Charlotte’s Web’ until I knew them by heart.

I recalled, today, the song where Wilbur learns to talk and giggled to myself. That song is so apt for my own life! I love words, I can define them, I can almost always spell them (spell check is helpful there!), but a good portion of the time, I’ve not a clue how to actually say them. (Antisocial Bookworm Syndrome!) This may also be why I tend to make up and use my own words.

The last weeks of my senior year in high school were probably the most decisive in my upper grades education. I was taking a sophomore English class because I didn’t care for the ones offered to the seniors. One of my best friends was also in the class, as a sophomore doing an advanced English curriculum. The class often read aloud the short stories we were studying and I loved to read aloud. This one instance, however, my tongue gaily tripped over a word and the class, who was following, erupted into laughter. (It is always fun to point out the fallacies of an upperclassman!) It seems the word conspicuous was not actually said the way I pronounced it!

Another morning, (I may have written about this before, it was an important lesson!) I’d had my friend read over a paper I’d written for the class. She handed it back with this comment, ‘It was good, Krisco, but you used the wrong ‘their’. The one you want, you should spell using this hint: “The” and ‘Ir’.’ I do and have never forgotten. Years hence, I reminded Blondie of that lesson and she laughed. (My nickname was ‘The Krisco Kid’, my friend was ‘Blondie’.)

I recently ran into a couple more of those odd words. One was in an email which made me burst into tears. One of my best now friends, while I was sharing it, helped me with both the email and the twisting word. Another friend, when I read a passage from a book, also assisted me. I’m so fortunate to have knowledgeable people who unknot my tongue gently. At the moment, I don’t recall the one from the book, but the email word was ‘reciprocity.’

The care of my various friends reminds me I need to be more charitable, myself. I probably shouldn’t cringe when I get texts with ‘he’d walked all over and only seen…….’ Or hear comments like ‘I got it at Safeways.’ Talking isn’t quite as simple as it seems!

Cat Nips-A hunting, we will go

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One of the guys I went to school with took this fun photo of his cat. It is perfect. It shows how a cat hides inside the regal bearing granted them by their goddess, Bastet. (who am I kidding, they don’t hide it!!)

“In ancient times cats were worshiped as gods; they have not forgotten this”. ~Terry Pratchett

It is October. In my family the month starts off with deer season and ends with a candy and lighted punkins. This second Wednesday is the last day of what we (tongue in cheek) call, ‘Hiking with Guns’. Little Bear gets some stellar photos and more often than not, they also bring home deer.

The cats enjoy deer season. I am often home cooking, so they have lots of people time. Granted, the cats also love raw and cooked deer burger (I guess the politically correct term is ‘ground venison’) and will meow underfoot til a saucer of the wild game is on their level. So, perhaps this photo is telling the photographer to get a move on and feed me! (I make jerky from deer burger) I do hope my family gets at least ONE deer this season. For it is by far my favorite sort of ground meat. The sausage we get from the packaging company is heavenly!!! (I do NOT share the sausage with the cats, no matter how hard they beg!)

The other part of this time of year the cats like is the catnip. For some odd reason there is a giant stand of catnip growing in the mountains up on the ranch (we call it a ranch, it is really 200 acres of mostly fenced in grass. The Craftsman’s dad used to live up there when he was little, but that portion of the land belongs to someone else now). No one quite remembers why there is catnip up there, but ohmy! The cats love it. Even months later, when it is dried, they go crazy. We often wonder if the wild cats up in the Blue Mountains sample it….

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Maxwell in the nip-he prefers the hard stems. Moses likes the leaves and buds.

A Picnic Hand basket…

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Everything is packed neatly, for the most part, and the handbasket is on the way to hell.

Granted, there are cheerful little picnic spots on the way, but the road is mapped out and I’m not seeing an exit to anywhere else. The basket also has an abundance of chocolate. I shopped while thoroughly depressed. How do I know I was depressed? Well, outside of the chocolate binge, as I walked into the store a man passed me. He looked at me and said, ‘Smile, it can’t be that bad.’

I guess he was right. Depending on the point of view.

It is just my view seems darker these last weeks. I’m most likely imaging it. It is probably because a year ago I had returned to Oregon with a goal to look hard at my marriage and see where it might be going and return to Alaska in the spring. That didn’t happen and I came back to Alaska in very short order. A year later, mum is more or less better, my marital relations are shelved so far back it will take a great deal of time to unearth them, one of my best friends is incredibly busy, and every time I turn around it seems like something else happens with mum’s finances or her house or something. I have to admit, I went to be a house elf for a bit this afternoon and the person was still home. I didn’t expect that. I also didn’t anticipate bursting into tears the minute I saw them. (At least I didn’t cry til my nose ran. Ewwwwww!)

I did get a load of clothes washed. So, I can count getting part of my wash done as a cheerful spot! (I didn’t get myself washed, I’ve waited a while before, so it is ok.) I did learn quite a bit today, so that was a good thing. Mum managed to order clothes today via the phone and isn’t sure if she spent $124 or more (OK, that wasn’t a cheerful spot. I get she wants a new wardrobe because she is smaller and that she is bored with wearing one of 3 pairs of pants when she happens to get out once a week. I was just grumpy she is going to add to the totes and bags and boxes full of clothing already in the house and garage. She ordered size 10 items, which also ticked me off. She’s 112 pounds and when I was that weight, I didn’t wear a size 10!!!! -Maybe I’ll get something new from what she ordered-. She did give me an outfit today. One with tags still on the pieces. She purchased it in 2012. In Oregon.). I chatted with a friend this morning and I did get a bit of a holding hug this afternoon, also bright spots. I picked up stuff for the drain (I didn’t get to use coffee grounds. I’ll try those AFTER I get it cleaned out more thoroughly!), which will be a giant bright spot eventually. I also had the chance to tidy a bit for my friend (the least I could do for turning into a watering pot!).

So, looking back, there were good things in this day. Meanwhile, packing napkin back in the basket and picking up my wrappers to continue my trek south. Leave no trace is important in the woods or on the trail to hell.

Fruitless

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I was thanked for taking mum to the beach today. I was also chastised a bit later. I feel like the legendary Push-me-Pull-you from the books about Dr. Doolittle. I have wanted mum to go to the beach often. She usually says no. I was glad she went today. I stayed closer to the car, in case she needed attention. She pushed herself, panted, and said she needed to get out more cuz she was too weak and shaky. Whatever.

Later, she asked me why a friend was coming over tomorrow. She knows I’ll be gone most of the afternoon. She asked if I had asked the friend to visit. I would never ask someone to sit with mom anymore. She’s too mean and she’s absolutely ‘fine’. Mum insists she does not need a babysitter. She is refusing to take more than one pain pill at a time, so she will be well. She insists she is going to work on projects (ones she had to put aside because she could not do them). She is fine.

She whimpers, says her eyes don’t work well (because I didn’t make her appointment on time and she’s got to wait to the end of November now for new glasses), and wants to tell me all sorts of news things (which I do NOT want to hear) and at the same time she doesn’t want me around anymore because I need to leave. (I wish I could!)  I will post my family blog and put mum going to the beach on it. Everyone will love it. I think they get tired of my normal Alaska stuff, but mum has a huge following. Everyone will say how good she looks. Because she is fine.

I need to do a lot of mom things tomorrow and I hope to wash some of my laundry while I am out. I am not going to believe it will happen, but I will plan for it.

And I burned the knuckle on my finger when I was making mum’s bedtime snack..Piffle!!!