Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday, bread baked

HPs breathing began to be rattly this morning, couldn't clear his airway, so I raised the bedhead, put big bowl of water near (no humidifier in the house) and talked quietly and reassuringly to him, then called the hospice nurse on call. This is all following the list of instructions that came with their packet of info.

Eventually he did manage to cough and sneeze and clear his throat, good for the moment.

Nice lady, my turn to be reassured, which I was, nothing else to do right now, she would notify his regular hospice nurse to be prepared for this tomorrow on her visit. Meanwhile, keep him comfortable. Notified HS, and insisted he still go to the shore today, day trip, as planned, should enjoy his free time, and set up a procedure if I need him in a hurry soon.

Then I got the baked loaves out of the oven.

Interesting pattern in how different materials bake at different speeds. The teflon are rapid, even, nice, the glass slower but not too bad, and the Corning is going to be a nice planter, I think...

But I did succeed in getting a supply of bread organized. At some point I'm going to treat The Great Me to another couple of teflon loaf pans.

Princess Kate is now completed, at least her body parts are, and I have to assemble her and stuff it...the book solemnly warns "do not stuff the arms". No idea why. Maybe it would interfere with the Royal Wave.

So, here one step in front of another, okay for now, at least I will be.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Chop wood, carry water, bake bread, make soup

HP is restless, able only to take tiny amounts of liquid food now, sleeping a lot, suddenly looking so much older and more gaunt. But while he sleeps life must still happen in the house.

And food has to happen, too. I made a big pot of fish chowder today, which HS shared with me, leaving quite a bit for me to heat up whenever I need a nice cup of soup and don't have the wherewithal to make food. The chowder contains a lot of nice spicy bits from the freezer, plus my homemade sage-basil pesto, homegrown herbs, and various pastas, can of clams, cubes of flounder from yesterday's lunch, big can of diced tomatoes, very nice all in all.

I didn't use the stick blender this time since I thought a sturdy soup would fill the bill. Even on a hot July day, but there you go, sometimes soup is the thing.

Bread and soup! very elemental. Next I'll be trudging through the snow in my handmade boots in search of wood and wine, the humble peasant seeks her provisions to bring home to her cabin...

The soup pot was a wedding gift from my mother in law. In 1963. She sent money, not knowing me well enough to know what I would like or could use, right before leaving the country, what would survive the trip from England to the darkest colonies. So I spent the lot on two very good pots, one small and this one, which is in fact a steamer, too, a top part not shown in the picture. They've been in literally daily use all these years, and it seems so appropriate to be still using her gift at a time like this.

And I have to bake bread, running low on supplies, so I have all my loaf pans waiting for the dough to be ready to put in.

Today's dough is partly oatmeal, partly whole wheat, partly unbleached white.

Our new normal is a lot of new learning, how to turn HP safely, protecting his joints, not easy to learn, and his skin, more tender than ever. I turn him every couple of hours, massage the bits that were underneath before, and use a huge array of pillows and cushions as demo'd by aide Janethe, to support him without pressure.

I can't imagine he would get this TLC anywhere else but here, where I have only one patient to wash and clean and feed and tend and a long history with him, so this is a fine service to do for him. I'm very tired, but it's mainly emotional at the moment, the physical work being very different and less incessant than a few weeks ago.

However, I did manage to make a start on my Royal dolls! I figured the bride ought to take priority, and I have knitted Kate's head. Two pieces. Silk yarn. Very posh. They're so small I had to put them into the pattern book so they didn't get lost. So watch this space for Royal developments. You make the doll then the clothes, for the most part, so I'm wondering if we should at some point have a Nude Royal Beach Scene....but then again, most of them are not too glam. We'll see what adventures they get up to, waving graciously the while.

Friday, July 29, 2011

And now for something entirely different...

I can't help it. Even in this situation, comic relief keeps on getting in.

First an update: HP is being very well attended by his aide, who comes twice daily, and is totally on top of things, such a relief. She's shampooing his hair even as I type, very cheerful chatting with him. Friends have stopped by briefly, too, including his heroic physio,and he seems to know them, and is trying to talk with them, very cheering sign.

His aide had him in his chair, reclined, with masses of pillows, for a while yesterday while the new official mattress and airpad were installed, so he was pleased to have a different view of the patio. Joy, she is the first aide from an agency I ever had who does the Hoyer lift unaided, so I don't need to be present and pressed into assisting.

And he's eating tiny amounts, teaspoonful of crushed fresh orange, two spoons of greek yogurt, few ounces of smoothie. That's all he can manage,but he quite enjoys these miniature meals.

Anyway, the comic relief is the wonderful new pattern book Knit Your Own Royal Wedding!

even comes with its own foldout-and-assemble balcony

for the royal group to wave from, once I get it properly assembled and a few figures knitted. It's just too funny for words to read the straightfaced instructions on how to make Camilla's hat, etc., and I will have to try a few of these figures. It was printed, of course, ahead of the wedding, so the Queen's color is now known to be yellow on the day, but the author could only guess ahead of time.

Carol Q. pointed out that the Dollivers, who have been respectfully in abeyance for a while, will definitely be jonesing for a corgi or two. I will remember to point out to them that corgis bite. At least the Queen's do, several footmen having been nipped, since that's how corgis herd cattle -- nip their heels to move 'em along. It
would seem that the Palace has not done the corgi owner training all the books recommend to deter this habit..I suppose if you're a Royal Corgi, you can bite anyone you damn please.

The other reason for comic relief, aside from the blessedness of not having to get up and do two hours of personal care every morning before I've even got my eyes open, is that I saw the endo last evening, two of them, in fact, and they assured me that the thyroid questions are in fact so subtle not worth giving them a priority, just do an ultrasound in three months just in case. Probably a family thing of autoimmune origin, mild thyroid concerns seen here and there in family members. Not, after all, a scary diagnosis. Phew.

Slept last night. That will do a lot for your spirits! Ahead of us is the weekend with no aides nor nurses, unless an emergency happens and I can call the nurse in. So we'll see how we do.

All the neighbors are standing by to be asked for help! what a great group.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Survival Kit, yes, we would like one!

Our new normal continues, HP sleeping mainly, taking milk smoothies I make for him, with great local honey, tofu, fresh fruit and milk. The hospice people have unloaded here a Survival Kit, which includes water bags, solid food, flashlight, radio, whistle, all that. This is not so much a hospice thing as a general purpose snowmageddon or sunmageddon or rainmageddon preparation, I guess. They tell me this is standard issue nowadays wherever the homecare people go.

Duncan examined it with care, figuring that survival includes chunks of ham, and was quite sad to see that it was just dull old wrapped items.

And the weaving has been a nice diversion, on weaving sticks and on straws, as seen here.

You will have astutely noticed that I'm back in business with a computer and uploaded pix, all thanks to the prince formerly known as HS, who took over the whole thing, tried various fixes, ended up conferring at the shop, got me a new notebook, and brought it over and installed it last nght, complete to uploading all my programs so I was ready to go. What a huge difference this makes. Murphy was working overtime this week, when one of my most acute needs, to communicate, was done in by a computer reaching the end of its days, and entering its own electronic hospice.

I have had wonderful messages of support, mail, flowers from dear Trish, and it's all so helpful, to show Andy and share with him while I still can. I love that.

So I took a picture of him with T's bouquet up front, as I showed it to him, and he drifted off to sleep, peacefully. This is how he is most of the time now, but very peaceful, occasionally smiling in his sleep, and when he's awake very appreciative of the care around him.

And neighborhood friends are keeping watch for me

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday is it really only Tuesday?

Still using the iPod since my netbook bit the dust and hs spent his evening at the store arranging to replace it and I had conferences with G eek Ronaldo which had a comic element I'll tell a out once I have the new netbook

MEanwhile hp still mostly sleeping and taking a bit of the smoothies I've made with milk and fruit and local honey

Home hp now scheduled daily after wonderful doctor raised heckl and volunteer will also come once weekly starting tomorrow to let me get out

my craft yesterday was weaving with sticks then with drinking straws fun and cheering too

more later as things unfold

Monday, July 25, 2011


Up to now nurses and fedex deliveries of supplies.

Hospice volunteer will be in touch to set up a bit of free time for me

no sign of any aides yet sigh

doctor says hp has maybe days maybe weeks

now I'm trying to grapple with this

possibly hardest call of my life to date today to set up cremation plans

I'm writing on an iPod touch lent by hs while he tries to get my netbook up agai


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Dispatches from the front continued

HP is now officially admitted to home hospice care, and we've had social workers and nurses buzzing about and ordering us stuff and explaining and making him comfortable, and there will be home health aides. I will breathe freely once the home health aides start in with us, but the team has applied for the maximum help for me, 20hours a week of home health care, plus a volunteer companion for a couple of hours a week. There will be nursing visits two or three times a week, too. So we will see how this works out for all of us.

Last night very late, we had a long power outage, probably they were rolling the blackouts to save the grid, temps well over 100 for a couple of days and more to come, and I think this was a planned thing. Mainly because it was our street! the next one had lights. But it put the fear of God into me, since HPs mattress is powered by an electric pump, and must be kept inflated. Also if the house gets hot I don't know where on earth to get him to to be cool. Then I remembered a hospice nurse was scheduled for first thing this morning, so I planned to throw it all at her. Then the power came back on, waking me up because I'd left the lights on, phew, relief.

One wonderful thing about the hospice care is that they provide for respite for a few days, and they will undertake to move HP to the local brand new rehab place, will accompany him there, and his own nurse will attend whil he's there. They need a few days' advance notice to make sure there's a bed, but other than that, it ought to work.

So I will definitely plan a little shore visit in the fall, once the weather has abated, and HS won't have to take over the whole thing again. This is great.

It's still hard to believe that he's eligible for this care, since it's only days since he was stable and doing fine, but I'll take his doctor's word for it, and if it unleashes all this help, that's fine. He is mainly in bed now, since he can't tolerate the energy level it takes to be moved to his chair and sit up, too exhausting. So, reluctantly, since I have staved off this time for so long, he needs to be in bed, being turned and so on, and fed every bite, all minced or shredded. Even then he gets very tired eating and I let him stop when he can't go on.

Yesterday was a two scarf day. Knitted, that is. The other thing, if you don't hear much from me, my own computer has died, and I can't get it in to repair it for a few days probably, so I can only email or blog in great haste from the library, which is where I am now, if I can get in here at all. Can't upload pix or anything. But I shall return! and thank you for all your good thoughts.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

News from the front!

HP is losing ground still. Yesterday we had to move to crushing his meds in applesauce so that he could swallow them, and he was too exhausted from being transferred from bed to table for lunch, to really manage to eat much, even with the food put into his mouth. It's easy to forget how much energy it takes to just sit, and eat and swallow, for those of us who don't need even to think about it.

His doctor is now considering hospice care. At home, just continue his care but with a team of people and a lot more attention to both of us. For readers outside the US, hospice usually means that the doctor has made a reasonable forecast that there may be six months or less left to the person. It can be longer, you can't know with a situation like HPs, but it would seem that she sees his current losses as part of what she described as nature taking its course.

And we both think this is fine. Back when HP was able to make his own health decisions, he repeatedly said NO special measures, NO feeding tubes, NO breathing machines that you can't get off. His doctor agrees with us that if this is his wish, we'll keep him comfortable and at home for as long as it takes, or as we can.

This sounds very calm and logical, but there's a maelstrom of emotion going on with me. No sleep at all last night, what with worrying about what happens between now and getting help, Helen having failed to show up again, there must be confusion with the dates, and worrying about his ability to swallow safely and so on, and how long we can get help and what kind, and who is the organizing person.

All this will be clarified when his doctor visits next week, but oh well, you know. The introduction of the word hospice aloud into the planning is like detonating an emotional explosive. The middle of the night is not a good time to be trying to solve problems, and I finally got to sleep after blessed Duncan dived under the covers and wrapped himself around my feet the way he used to as a tiny kitten, and acted as a feline no side effect sleeping pill.

This morning HP very unsettled, cursing and furious at me and asking what hospital he was in, and screaming at every touch as I washed him. I did some gentle exercises for his arms and legs to relieve the stiffness, which he hated. Then after breakfast, which I adapted to his new swallowing situation, he calmed down, and even managed a nice smile and a thank you, and said, with a lot of difficulty, oh, I'm clear now. I asked if he meant he knew he was home with me and he nodded. So that was okay.

A good friend came over yesterday with a lovely bunch of carnations, which he liked a lot, and gave me a large bag of unused and lovely fuzzy and novelty yarns from her sister, which she doesn't like to knit with. So I think this new phase is demanding a new knitting enterprise, which may be: silly skinny scarves!

There's a terrific stitch pattern I've adapted, originally for a belt, but who wears them, really, to a skinny scarf which I fasten like a necktie, and I've had people really admire mine. So I will do a bunch of them, and they'll go to the rescue group's fund raising, if they would like them, that is.

Knitters might know this one: cast on 9 stitches, knit 6, yarn over to front, then slip last three stitches purlwise. That's the entire pattern. When you start each row,you tug the yarn snugly, to create a rolled edge. Astute readers will realize this is like an Icord only attached to each edge. It creates a lovely flat piece of work interestingly raised at the edges and not looking at all like garter stitch.

So watch this space for health and work updates, and thank you all for your continuing sitting with us through this.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Wren Chronicles continued..

The Carolina wrens having given me my cue -- and they continue to build busily in the hanging pot, despite my watering the plant, since I'm reluctant to lose a nice begonia I've had for a long time, I think there are worse things than emulating a wren. I have taken the precaution of taking cuttings of the plant to start in water, just in case the big one doesn't make it through nesting season.

Meanwhile, our new normal continues, neighbors being very nice and solicitous. There's a lot of gardening consulting going on, which amuses and diverts me a lot, and I get to diagnose plants for the friend next door, who tends to put shade lovers in the sun and wonder why they go crisp, and overwater succulents and wonder why they rot. I've taken custody of a couple of plants and put them in the shade on my patio for intensive care.

But reading completely fun and forget-it-after-you-read-it books is great for times when I'm too mentally tired to bother with Great Thoughts, and just want to curl up with a cat while HP sleeps, and read quietly.

Here's the latest haul, spilling out of their snazzy bookbag, before they return to the libe to be replaced by a new crop.

I love Robert B. Parker, full of stuff I never hope to encounter in real life, such as technicalities about guns, fist fighting, and still very literate, full of quotations, just like Shakespeare...the down side is that his girlfriend Susan is totally a male fantasy woman.

Harvard graduate, psychologist, beautiful, constantly ready for sex of all kinds, very terse in her speech. Exactly the kind of woman a man would invent in his dreams! and she's constantly into shopping and trying on clothes, and failing to eat, and nibbling half a potato chip and calling it a heavy meal, etc. In other words, she's a pill! but fortunately only a fictional character, so still fun.

Like what I understand of combat, caring for an invalid in our situation is an ever unfolding scenario of terror interspersed with boredom, with overarching fatigue. The books, and the tiny purse making and the shopping bag making and the general purpose knitting, fend off the boredom. Lovely mail postcards and letters and nice emails fend off the fatigue pretty well, too.

Actual art also takes place, but at a slower pace than usual, but I remember that I've never been very productive in art in July, probably because the studio is scorching hot despite all my measures to exclude heat. But I do have great plans for my next tapestry. And one in progress, hanging fire a bit while I wait for better ideas for it.

So that's us, and I fervently hope the sainted Helen shows up this evening so I can get out, out, out I tell you! exciting trip to the library, and the supermarket, yay, the big time!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Birds in Their Little Nest Adapt

Yet again, nature is illuminating life for us. We have a tiny area, little patio, teeming with lessons of all kinds when I get time to see them.

This last two days has been the start of a new, another new, normal for us at home. HP is now almost beyond speech and can not support himself well in his chair despite all kinds of surrounding supports and pillows and clever therapist ideas, is very hazy as to what's going on around him, exhausted a lot, can't understand speech. His nurse visited this morning and agreed with me that this is probably a new stage in his gradual decline.

So I decided I have to examine our daily procedures and see which are no longer necessary, which are more so, and so on. I already cancelled the newspaper that he can not read any more, can't turn the pages, can't follow his favorite bridge column, and the photographs are very frightening to him.

I now feed him all his food and drink, since his attempts to pick up a cup are doomed every time, the sequence of hand moves now beyond his skills, and he's stopped fighting my efforts to help him. He often can't remember how to suck through a straw, or how to let me put food in his mouth, so this is more complex than it sounds.

I'm letting the evening public tv news go without switching it on, since he is no longer aware that it's on, though it was a favorite thing until very recently. I can't even leave him for a few minutes alone, since he can plunge over the side of his chair, won't fall, but will be very upset about it.

And one big thing, instituted this morning, which his nurse suggests I try for a week -- changing the morning care. Now he is washed, cleaned, dressed all as usual, but instead of getting him up to the breakfast table, I started feeding him breakfast in bed, letting him fall asleep again, and I got him transferred to the table for lunch instead. He was very angry about this change, but his nurse says, just give it a few days and see what works out. She thinks that he's reached the point where it's starting to be too tiring for him to be sitting up all day, as he has been up to now.

I've been trying to give him the most normal daily life, get up in the morning, eat breakfast, read the paper, etc., stay up, being moved around for interesting views outside, until early evening, go to bed and watch the news from there. Same reason I dressed his bed in the same nice colors as the room, and his pillows and cushions are like the rest of the furniture, so it's like a living room, not a hospital room.

But it look as if I have to rethink and see how this will work for me. There are many moving parts, aside from the few I described above. My mantra is as usual: how can I make this into something we can enjoy, not just endure.

Meanwhile, on the patio a pair of Carolina wrens have suddenly decided to build a nest in a houseplant I have hanging on the patio. To us this looks like a nice begonia, hanging in an outer pot, the plant in an inner one, out for the summer. To the wrens, it's a bijou residence

in a nice neighborhood

and they fought off a couple of house sparrows this morning to defend it while they stuffed all kinds of twigs and leaves and fluff into the outer pot.

Wrens are the ultimate in adaptability. They nest in whatever looks good to them, if it gets ruined, they move away and start a new nest, even if it's as late as July. They don't waste time grieving, just tie a knot and move on.

Not a bad thing for me to be witnessing this morning especially.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Down on the farm..

So as the hot July sun slowly slides over the fields, the workers park their buggies

and trudge off to the picking grounds, for their daily raspberries and bitter melons

and come back to ask the farmers which are the raspberries again

while the farmer stays prudently in the shade with a selection of sunflowers to decorate the place a bit.

Summertime. Saturday. On the farm.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Construction and deconstruction

While I was knitting and crocheting up a storm indoors -- see the latest bag, made from freecycled thick and thin yarn -- great deeds were being done out of doors.

The bag, knitted, and with crocheted edges and strap

is lined with sparkly fabric left over from the Dollivers' evening gowns, and came originally from a little dress at the dumpster. Total cost: zero.

I was pleased with this one, since I started it at the point of the flap, then figured out how to continue to make a bag shape while keeping the point at the right place, which worked out. I also needed to stiffen it, since it's wide and shallow, clutch style, which sort of collapses in the middle without help. So I got a piece of black foamcore left over from my black and copper wire artmaking period, and slid that in behind the lining, the overstitched it in place. Lightweight, but sturdy and does the job nicely.

It occurs to me that it would be a good practice to send pix of stuff I've made from freecycled yarn to the donor, so they can enjoy seeing what happened next. Usually they're crafters or related to crafters, and they like to know the donation was used, not just stuffed into another closet in another house.

Meanwhile, outside, the friend next door's landscaper, moonlighting from his regular job, removed a lot of ugly old shrubs that the HOA declined to help with, including a giant one full of poison ivy. He was well warned, and knew how to proceed.

He's also Guatemalan -- translation: brill gardener. I never met a Guatemalan, and I met a lot in my ESL days, when I ran tons of programs to help incoming refugees get their English up to speed, who was not a terrific worker. Most of the guys I came in contact with were rural people who knew all about planting and care of plants, even ones they'd never seen before, this area being different from their home climate.

It's good just to watch that expertise at work. He tamed those shrubs in no time, and made recommendations about what ought to be in that small space instead.

Very nice man. Totally happy to be in the picture, saying, ah, advertising for me! but too shy to give me his name, oh well.

And the new area, ready to plant with better stuff

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Teeming Worldwide Mailbox and Baffling Bags

Thanks to friends from all over, I was able to put up HP's recent mail on the door where he can see it, having read the messages to him multiple times, and reminded him who sent what and where they live. Talking is very difficult for him now, but he managed to say "such.....good...people" when we were talking about this collection.

So I thought you'd like to see, from Calgary, Minnesota, NZ, Toronto, the Outer Banks, and locally. This doesn't count the lovely letters and packages and emails from BC and points west and north! you can't know how huge this is for him, in his small world, to know that people took time and effort to send him good wishes and news and information and lovely stamps.

I was going to picture him looking at the collection, but he fell asleep in mid setup, so that's for another time.

I haven't talked about food in a while, though we have been eating all along, but today it's a nice cheese and ham and tofu and three egg omelette with roasted french fries -- potatoes sliced as for fries, but drizzled with olive oil and all kinds of wild spices, and roasted at 375 till tender and a bit crisp on the edges. Fresh fruit dessert as always, and the apricots are coming in, always nice.

I scored a wonderful volume at the used bookstore -- the Cranbury Bookworm, where the Dollivers made one of their first forays into the Big World, some time back. I found a compilation of five books by MFK Fisher in one volume, for the princely sum of five dollars, what a bargain. A buck a book, come to think of it.

Enough reading for a long time. She's an endlessly funny and very very good writer, and keeps the recipes down to a minimum, because she's interested in the art of food and eating and the part it plays in life.

And the latest fruit buying expedition at the Asian store, where the produce is second only to the local farm, which isn't open in the mornings. The Chinese checker, no, that doesn't sound right, the lady at the checkout had a wonderful time with my handmade shopping bags, really liked them.

Asked if they were knitted, and when I explained, no crocheted. Puzzled look, language barrier, and I went on, you know, made with a hook, and I did the hand motions, ahhhhhh clear now. Did they wash and could you put in dryer? yes, to both. Are they strong, why not knit? because crochet stretches to accommodate the food and it's strong. I didn't add that I was in the mood to crochet anyway at the time. She cracked up laughing when she couldn't find her way into one bag because the stripes were vertical and she assumed they must be horizontal, so she was trying to open the sides....saying to herself, hm, stripes wrong way here...

I had no idea I was creating comic relief when I made the bags, but they are a lot more fun than plastic. And MFK would approve

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Sedated Cat and the Leaking Roof

Fluffy in bed upstairs

The two, the cat and the roof, are not connected, except that they took place in the same room, and the shenanigans with the one led to the discovery of the other...

So, Tiger Fluffy Sheba, the name Tiger was appended after the vet techs described how it took three techs, and a vet, all bitten,to hang onto a fully sedated Fluffy Sheba in order to shave her, a biannual event, since her Persian fur isn't actually fur. It really grows straight out of her skin into felted chunks, impossible to brush, comb, anything, and rapidly build up to where they trip her up and tie her legs together.

Her skin is delicate as tissue paper, too, so you can't just grasp a chunk and clip, for fear of tearing the skin. She is very old, we think about 17, and I removed her long ago from an abusive first home, hence the biting and general hatred of humans. She will let me stroke her after years of trying, but even I am not allowed to shave her felted mats off.

Sooooo, I decided that rather than pay the vet northwards of four hundred dollars to do the required bloodwork, sedation, shaving, overnight hospital stay till she was in some shape to come home, etc., why not try it myself.

For the first time in my life I have tranquillizers in the house, my doctor having said have them just in case things get too much, okay? knowing perfectly well I would hang sooner than take them, Rescue Remedy being my go to, along with knitting and the labyrinth. Anyway, there they were, and I thought, hm, the tiniest dose might do this.

So I inserted one tiny pill in her mouth, taking her by surprise to do it, whereupon she bit me and I thought spat the pill out. So I gave her another. And realized after a while that in fact she now had taken

Frantic internet search gave me results all over the place from It Will Kill Her StoneDead, you are a Criminal Owner, or words to that effect, all the way to, it can't poison a cat, but will result in prolonged sedation. So I voted for the second.

And did manage to get a ton of chunks off her. Now she's still pretty knotty, feels like a bag of marbles, but for her this is comparatively soignee. And she slept and briefly woke and slept and peed on the rug, and pooped wherever she fell down, and drank water and ate voraciously, half asleep, for two days. Yesterday she got up on her legs and staggered about a bit, so I was able to breath easier.

Then today, after a whole slew of visitors had come and gone, she suddenly appeared downstairs, had navigated the stairs alone and showed up, to HP's great delight, since he hadn't seen her since her last visit about a year ago. He can't do stairs, obviously, she lives upstairs, and she can not be carried unless you want to lose a finger or two. So getting them together is logistically like getting out of Iraq.

So this was thrilling, and I wondered if she was showing off her new haircut, or marching in protest at the indignities she'd been forced to endure while under the pills. I was so amazed, and so grateful I hadn't trodden right on her not seeing she was there, that I failed to get a picture. I hereby give you an older one, just to remind you who this demonic feline is.

This is the last time she ventured downstairs, and had a chat with Duncan

Notice Marigold lurking in the background. Duncan's MY friend, you can't have him..

During all the excitement, I happened to glance up at the ceiling in the bedroom where she lives, her choice, all the doors are open, but she disdains to mingle with the hoi polloi downstairs, and noticed DAMP STAINS, gah, scream, horror. The roof is leaking. This was after that night of the huge storm that stopped me from visiting my friend the other day.

And the HOA is hopeless at anything that requires action on their part, so I will have to see about getting our chimney people out again to replace the chase thing. I know what's causing it, since they pointed it out on their inspection in June, a chase around a pipe in the roof, cheap, rusting, nails popped. They mentioned that this is now common across the development, after the terrible winter we had. Sigh. But HS helped me by exploring inside the false roof, via my studio, to discover the pipe with raindrops running down it, right above where the stains were. We felt quite impressed with our detective abilities. And until it rains again, I think it won't spread.

So as I said, never a dull moment. One very bright moment this morning came when the shelf installing friend came over to present his bill, very reasonable bill, too,and agreed to take out part of it in art!!!!! so I gave him a guided tour of everything in the house, which is basically all available, it's just being stored on the walls, and he picked two little watercolors. Very cool. I love to use art as currency. And it saved us a third of the cost of the whole job. Not bad. And we had a great chat about art.

I have noticed that people who work in the building trades are very often good at art, knowledgeable about it, and very appreciative of houses that have a lot of original work around. It's a nice bonus.

So that's the quiet, uneventful day around here.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Denouement of the Mystery of the Missing Aide

But first, here's the shelvy stuff in the kitchen in its final, I think, appearance, now that I've played at great length with putting stuff in and taking it out, like having a dollhouse.

The rest of the kitchen is a lot better now that all the electrical gear with cords is stowed on that top shelf out of sight but easy to reach, behind my cookbooks which I can now look at without catching a cascade of other things off the shelf they were on before. And I have empty shelves near the window for my houseplants, mainly the vital aloe vera, since I burn my fingers almost daily in the course of using the oven.

AND I had a wonderful freecycle haul of yarn, great stuff.

The cones are fine cotton, and the other stuff is thick-and-thin, loads of it, very soft, haven't decided what to do with it yet. But there was a little packet of a red and white fine cord, which is now a tiny purse! used every inch of it, not a scrap left, but it's a nice little purse. I think my purse frenzy is winding down, but my shopping bag frenzy will outlast the available brill colored yarns.

My next door neighbor's athletic daughter was visiting yesterday, and they came over to say, right, that branch that's been banging on your gutter and you couldn't get high enough to prune it, hand over the pruning saw, and J. will CLIMB the tree and do the pruning! whereupon father handed up the tools, daughter shinned up like a cat and removed the branch that's been worrying me for months in case it ripped off the guttering or the shingles. I did give her a tiny purse, her choice, as a thank you.

No pictures of this, since I couldn't stand to watch! but a few minutes after they went home her father came rushing over to ask could I give him a hand with spiders in the kitchen at their house, since his daughter has such a phobia about them she couldn't deal with them at all. So I guess one person's anxiety is another person's piece of cake.

HP had a bad day yesterday, possible small strokes, total inability to stay up in his chair, confusion, but his nurse came this morning, approved the stuff I did to cope, including boosting the medication, and things are looking better.

And finally, the Saga of the Missing Aide. Her boss called me this morning from Jamaica where she's trying to be on vacation, and was hugely apologetic about the whole thing. Nobody can reach the aide, but she sent another staff person over to investigate and found her apartment had been burned out.

Desperate attempts to locate her and her baby have not yet yielded any information, but it seems clear that everything in the apartment was lost, including any records and contact info she had there. So now the concern shifts to where can she be, and is she okay. The boss has left messages wherever she can think of. Meanwhile, I sent my best to the aide when she is located, all is understood now that we know it really was a disaster that kept her away, and we'll manage until Helen herself gets back next week and we can resume. But I have a lot of worry about G. the missing aide.

I tell you, there's never a dull moment around here. Another day I'll tell you about the sedated cat and the leaking roof...

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Dollivers model their CD cover

The Ds. decided that when they present the Pastoral Symphony, they want the CD cover design to have the appropriate pastoral background. They brushed off Boud's comment that the Pastoral needs more than three, and you have to be able to actually play the instruments before you can release a CD, on the grounds that they are doing first things first.

First the dresses, that's done. Then the pictures for the CD, that's done. Sometime later after the contracts are signed and they hold all the press conferences in several capitals of the world, they will rent a symphony space, and start to practice.

So we went out to the lake, and they posed elegantly against interesting old mosses

and interesting old trees

and then relaxed after this extreme labor.

They also suggested that Boud rise above difficulties just the way they do, and get things in the right order, and all will be well. And they wondered why she snarled a bit as she clicked the camera...

Friday, July 8, 2011

Our Big Night Out, Not!

So after all the excitement of the no show aide, who failed to show again this evening, now I wonder when the heck she thought she was supposed to come here, and having Handsome Son kindly come out from work to let me get out and see my friend, I finally made it out of the house, after a big rainstorm.

Which was bigger than I had realized, since I discovered that ALL the roads between here and her house were not only flooded, but had police activity stopping people from attempting to cross. I tried three different routes, all foiled by high waters, and police cruisers with flashing lights.

Around here flooded roads are no joke, since our water table is so close to the surface, and the network of waterways so intense, that the power of a flood is much greater than it appears, and it's fatally easy to be washed off the road and downstream on what appears to be just a sort of flooded intersection.

So, after all our planning, an act of God stopped us from having our evening shindig.

And all I can say is that I thought God would have better things to do than send a massive flood to stop two nice old ladies from having a cup of tea together.

Green, but need sunglasses

The Three Bags Full, on their first outing, this time to the Asian store, where the clerk pointed and laughed and said those your bags? heehee. But they worked fine, and the irony abounds when you realize that I came home without a single plastic shopping bag, because I was carrying my stuff in three acrylic, i.e. plastic yarn, shopping bags.

So, they're green in a way. Even though sunglasses are recommended if you get up close! and they've lifted my spirits, not a bad side effect.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Some good things get done around here.

The storm of crochet that broke out over the failure of the health aide to show up, has resulted in another bag! these are fun, and I already used the first one at the grocery store, much to the amusement of the checker, who normally sees quite conservative versions of shopping bags. Wait till he sees this second one.

I got to the grocery today thanks to the kindness of our friend next door who offered to go into work a bit late and hang out with HP, to let me get the urgently needed supplies I was supposed to get yesterday during my free time that didn't happen.

Got home to find him reading along with HP the NZ photograph book, despite Duncan's spirited efforts to make them attend to The Great Him. And the neighbor who's building the kitchen shelves where the dw used to be, had dropped by, too, and they were exchanging cat stories.

Eventually neighbor one reluctantly left for work, and neighbor two set to work finishing the shelf job, to my great pleasure at the result.

One drawer in mid-build, so I could see what it was aiming for

Ta-daaaah! partly loaded shelves to show the idea

He will take part payment in art, once he has made up his bill. He'll have a guided tour of the house and pick what he wants to offset some of his $$.

And HS gallantly agreed that if the health aide fails to show tomorrow night when I'm supposed to be off to visit a dear friend I haven't seen in donkey's years, he will leave work early and sit with HP for me. So most things are being organized into working form.

This life has many moving parts!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I crochet so I won't kill people...

This is a famous knitting expression, when asked why you knit. Same applies to crochet.

But first the good news. Wonderful skies for the Fourth of July, which I pictured to show to HP who loved them.

Then lovely mail from true friends, book of great NZ photographs, which has now become the main item for HP's day, resulting in complete spoken sentences, to my great joy! and postcard with great Canadian mountain pictures and lake. HP has always loved mountains and always had a calendar of mountains on his wall. And great chatty letter from another Canadian friend complete with tales of monkey business. This is all so great. And postcards with lovely letters from the Outer Banks, where we used to go camping for a couple of years way back when we were young and strong! Ocracoke, the Wright Brothers, Kill Devil Hills, all that, wonderful lighthouses, anyway K. sent us great pictures which more or less stirred up memories for HP. And definitely did stir up memories for me.

Then the reason for my blogpost title today: my home health aide, not the lovely Helen, who is on vacation, but her deputy, who came out last Friday, worked the shift with Helen to make sure she knew the details, etc., and guaranteed to show up for the two weeks of Helen's know the rest of this sentence. Never showed up, tonight, the first of her supposedly four visits. Left me high and dry, unhelped, no call, no explanation, desperately wondering how to salvage the evening plans, including the total care of HP which she was supposed to do tonight.

Since I do not have any way to contact her, she being an employee of Helen, not up to me to make sure she shows after she's agreed to do so, I have no way of knowing what happened. Or if she will show the rest of the two weeks. Or how to plan for this, not knowing what to expect. This is why I fired the other agencies, since it was more stressful never knowing what to plan for than simply doing all the heavy lifting myself.

So rage fueled the crochet of the evening, resulting in a shopping bag and a half for me to use instead of the eternal plastic!

The lemons this no show fired at me have been turned into, um, margaritas or something! the yarn is from the stash that I was given via Freecycle the other day.

Other piece of good news: since I was forcibly kept at home, I was there when my neighbor came over to visit and in the course of our chat he mentioned he has somewhere a clarinet he bought for his daughter, who dropped clarinet after a year, typical story of high schooler, and if he can find it, it's mine!!! I have never played clarinet but would gladly teach myself. Never played a reeded instrument at all, so that would be a new adventure.

And I hope I can refrain from stabbing someone with it...

Monday, July 4, 2011

A likely yarn!

So Freecycle worked its magic today. No sooner had I pulled out some good but unused by us items to put up for the lucky cycler, than I noticed a post about rug yarn...this is heavy duty stuff, which is probably a good candidate for my big tapestries, or bags, or mats, or well, just about anything I guess.

And I was able to get over there and pick it up this afternoon, thanks to kind neighbor stopping in and bringing his puppy, too, to visit with HP, who was delighted with the company of both of them. When I got home and neighbor had departed, HP had a rare lucid moment and said, I think he came over to check on me!

Anyway, here's the haul, all ancient yarn, some from a store that went out of business 40 years ago, but still perfectly fresh, has clearly been in good storage. And, in the middle of it was a candy wrapper. This is a worker after my own heart, liked to have a little something while she worked!

Independence Day 2011

We all, people, Dollivers, and kitties, wish you a Happy Fourth if you observe Independence Day in the US, or a Happy Monday if you don't!

Around here, the cradle of the Revolution, we are infested with historical sites of this and that, and some of the houses that were commandeered by various troops in and around the Battles of Princeton, Trenton and Monmouth, went right on being private homes, and you have to know where they are to know they're historic! but we do have battlefield commemorating the events, and local place names still with the signers names on them.

Streets like Washington Road, Stockton Street, Mercer Street and so on. And a lot of those families are still around, too, never say die.

Anyway, despite the stormy weather which brought our camping friends next door home early, the Poconos being no place in a lightning storm, and our other friends at home in the first place, we are all cheerful and in good form.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Dollivers on Tour

The concert scheduled for this evening took place in a different county, this is the Big Time for the Dollivers. A road trip for the ensemble.

First they were introduced to their partner in crime, Stefi M., who showed them around her new harpsichord

Then, since they brought their own audience just in case there was a poor showing, all the best ensembles arrange for a claque, you know, they held a gracious Meet and Greet

before the performance, with their pearled and white gloved followers.

The audience then took their places

and the Dolliver Trio launched into a spirited rendition of various dances of Bach, Couperin and other early composers, Asian flute and continuo on harpsichord.

After their part of the recital, they retired to their traveling bag, while Stefi M. and Boud took over what was left of the evening to struggle through a few new pieces, dances from the 16th and 17th centuries, for alto recorder and harpsichord continuo.

It was the maiden concert voyage of the new harpsi, as well as the first serious gig for the Dolliver Trio. A triumph! Muffled cheering emanating from the traveling bag all the way home.