Monday, July 26, 2004

15 cat bites, poor Pathfinder

07-26-04 mayatime: 2 Oc 13 Xul (portal)

The adventures of the fabulous dad continue! It turns out that the medicine given to Dad by the doctor on Friday made him sick to his stomach, which the doctor warned him it might. Instead of calling me or calling the doctor, he and my mother just halved the dosage. Of course, that doesn’t work with antibiotics! So when I saw him last night at Grandma’s his hand was even more swollen, to the point where it looked like it would have to be drained (skin red and shiny and stretched).

So today I took him back to the doctors. Another $25 co-pay which is bullshit; he was just there on FRIDAY (yesterday in working day terms, today’s Monday) for the SAME THING. It did not need to get lanced. The doctor said there’s no pus, only fluid (rather like my leg, so I understand–if someone could lance my leg, I’d do it). He cleaned it again, and gave a new prescription for tetracycline. I’m not fond of the drug–look what it did to my Lance-bird, almost killed him in quarantine–but for this type of virulent infection I guess it’s the only other option.This makes him sensitive to the sun–the instructions were “don’t go to the beach.”

Then we had to fill the prescription and my father didn’t know what pharmacy he uses. I tried to call my mom at work but my cell phone batteries have been stupid lately (go from fully charged to low battery in about 1 minute of talk time) and before anyone answered the phone in her department the phone was dead. I was just going to go to Brooks’–it’s the closest to his house–when he decided that Stop and Shop was where to go. So to Stop and Shop we went. We dropped off the script and then I had to get apples for the birds. I said, “let’s go get apples now” and Dad agreed so I walked away. I became aware that he was not following me and he had vanished. Missing: one dad, slightly Alzheimer-ish, description: blue eyes, brown hair, mustache, blue Hyundai shirt, shorts, grey sneakers colored chartreuse with a high-lighter. . . last seen in pharmacy area of Wallingford Stop & Shop.

I knew he wouldn’t leave the store without his prescription so I got my apples and paid for them and then found him chatting with a woman in line at the pharmacy. She called him Bob so she might have known him, or he might have introduced himself to her (anything is possible). I asked why he hadn’t followed me, and he said because his prescription wasn’t ready. That’s right, they said fifteen minutes, plenty of time to buy a bag of apples. So we sat on the bench next to an unfriendly old man (who glared at us and left as if we’d kicked him off, although there was plenty of room for three) and waited for a while.

On the way home, I tried to engage Dad in conversation about the broken air conditioning in my car. Although he sold cars for my whole life, and we won’t discuss how many years that’s been, he never learned anything about engines or engine parts and he refused to speculate. It was really just an exercise in using his mind. Hey, I tried. The list of things my poor old Pathfinder needs done keeps growing: A/C, radio (only 1 speaker works), the struts or exhaust studs or possibly both, the headlight with the bullet hole and the mold and the water inside, and an oil change. It’s only at 110K miles, plenty of life in the old girl yet. I priced out a new Jeep Wrangler online, one of the “long” ones, and it’s $28K with a hardtop. And the long ones don’t come in purple which is what I want. The Pathfinder was $28.9K ten years ago. I thought Jeeps were cheap. Then again, look at our last Jeep. No, don’t, that’s a story for another day! (678)

Friday, July 23, 2004

14 editing, telemarketing, father-biter cat, locked out mom-in-law,

07-23-04 Mayatime: 12 Manik 10 Xul

Things are starting to open up for me. It’s about time! I just got a call from a writer I’ve worked with before about possibly doing TWO BOOKS a year with him for actual money, not just trade or credit. I made 17 appointments at work this week (goal is 6-12) and I get paid per appointment. I went on a job interview for a job I’m highly qualified for, in a building near where my husband works. And supposedly I’m on the short list (1 of 2) for a job I thought I was out of the running for. And I have a new Shamballa student (also for actual money) When it rains, it pours.

I had to go over my parent’s house to help my dad make some phone calls today. We were sitting on the couch and he says, “look at my hands” and his hands are covered in Band-aids and swollen tight up to his wrists. I was horrified; I asked if he’d gotten stung (a long time ago, my then-boyfriend ran his hand through his hair at the beach and a yellow jacket nailed him between two of his fingers and by the time we’d driven home, about 1/2 an hour, his arm was so swollen he had to go to the emergency room). He said no, that he was walking the cat (he walks the cat on a leash like a dog, but doesn’t want another dog--go figure) and Jasper saw “the white cat” (I assume this is a cat who lives near them and not MY white cat) and they wanted to fight. The story becomes confused. “Did the cat bite you.” “No, they didn’t bite me.” “So they just scratched you?” “No, they bit me too.” “Which cat bit you? Did the white cat bite you or did Jasper bite you?” “We didn’t go near the white cat.” “Did the white cat scratch you?” He then does a dramatic impression of a cat scratching and clawing and biting at him, (“like this, like that”) but it unclear which cat. I call his doctor, make an appointment for today, then call the vet and make sure Jasper’s rabies’ shots are good (they are). Dad said more often than not that it was Jasper who bit and scratched him, not the white cat, so I am going with that. I hope I am not making a big mistake. It will suck if my dad gets rabies on top of Alzheimer’s.

On top of this, shortly before I left to meet Will for lunch, his mother comes over and asks to borrow “a phone and water.” For some reason she decided to lock the door when she was going outside to work in the yard. The door wouldn’t shut so she forced it and turns out the night lock was on and therefore she can’t get back inside, even though she had the keys. She couldn’t get through the window so she came over. The whole time I was eating with Willy and helping my father on the phone and getting some version of the cat scratch story and taking the call from the author, she was waiting at my house for the locksmith to call back. (The water was to wash her face and hands.) After almost 3 hours, we located a crowbar in my garage and she pried open the window. The locksmith still has not called back.Now I am off to bring Dad to the doctor, then have dinner with a friend before taking a class with her. Busy day.

The resolution of Dad’s doctor visit: kind of scary in a funny way. Dad’s communication skills are severely lacking and he doesn’t listen to what others say. And the doctor is Korean with a strong accent. I was the middle man. The doctor would say something to my father and ask if he understood. My father would look at me in confusion. I’d tell him that I understand. And so it went. Then I had to tell my mom everything. Basically, because his hand swelled up within 24 hours of the bite, it’s a virulent infection needing special treatment. So the doctor put my dad on some mega-horsepill antibiotics (2 pills twice a day) and gave him a tetanus shot. My father who has given GALLONS of blood to the Red Cross complained mightily about that one little tetanus stick. And of course he had to tell the doctor the story of what happened to him last time he gave wrists and ankles are queasy just thinking about it...I’ll make it quick...they hit an artery instead of a vein and his blood was spurting...the bruise on his arm was enormous and the Red Cross even CALLED to make sure he was OK a few days later. God, I hate blood stories!

So Dad’s hand was re-bandaged with yards of gauze and tomorrow I have to go over and remove the gauze, wash the wounds with disinfectant, put antibiotic ointment on them, and then band-aids. The washing/antibiotic/bandaids have to be done twice a day (that can be mom’s job after tomorrow morning). And I told Jasper he is a VERY BAD kitty for biting Daddy. He purred. Moron. I told Dad not to take the cat outside the yard anymore. Not like he’ll listen or anything.

My sacred geometry class was fun. One of the other students is a builder and we talked about building some Solfeggio-scale wind chimes.

I feel good. I got that call today about the editing work, I’m doing good at the telemarketing job and I feel confident I am going to get one or both of the jobs I’ve interviewed for lately. It is about time something went my way. (976)

(picture) Jasper the Cat

Jasper the fatherbiter cat Posted by Hello

Monday, July 19, 2004

(picture) Grandma

Grandma Posted by Hello

13 gods hate me, blind gramma, strong women, new moon magic

07-19-04 Mayatime: 8 Akbal 6 Xul (portal)

I have this sneaking suspicion that the gods hate me. All right, that’s negative thinking and I’m trying to banish that. The gods LOVE ME so much they’ve added another fun test to make me even stronger and more like them. That’s the way to look at it.Today is 8 Akbal, 8 Darkness. I am a child of darkness, a 4 Akbal baby. Seems appropriate that today I write about my new test, my new bit of learning. Last night my grandma, you know, the one who’s sharp as a tack, told me she’s got macular degeneration. That’s when you go blind from the center out. It’s like reverse tunnel vision. You can only see things around the edges, and that black center keeps growing. And it’s genetic too. What a cocktail I have in my DNA spirals. Another reason not to have children.

Yesterday was Beth’s baby shower so I spent a fun afternoon taking digital photos of the event and today I cropped and re-colored them so I can give her a digital album. It was a pretty good day, and then I went to Grandma’s for dinner. My mom was telling me how much my father’s Acricept (however it’s spelled) costs (over $120 for 30 days supply but the insurance paid for part) and Grandma hands me a package and says “this is my new medication” and while I’m looking at it, trying to figure out what it is, she says “I have macular degeneration” (only she calls it “immaculate degeneration” for some reason–her friend Jenny has it too). She was very calm about the whole thing.

I asked her about driving, and she said Jenny drove for six years after she was diagnosed (she’s had it for 12 years) and my grandma was going to give up driving when she was 92 anyway.

I know the first Reiki principle: “just for today, do not worry” but how can I not worry when both my dad and grandma are still driving? In my heart I know they are still capable, but there’s always that core of fear. I know I don’t trust the universe enough. I can only put so many bubbles of white light and clear light and silver-blue-violet light around them for protection.

I am just so sad. I feel so beaten down. It’s ridiculous, I know. Grandma can still see, Dad still knows who I am. I was up until 2 a.m. crying last night (and got woken up at 6 when Will got up, and at 7 when he went to work, and at 9 when his sister called to tell me Godsmack’s coming with Metallica in October to Boston) so I got little sleep.

Willy pointed out that the women of my family are strong. I’ve already talked about Aunt Bert, how she took care of her invalid husband for over ten years, did all her own yard work and shoveling and then walked 5 miles for fun after dinner. My grandmother took care of her mother when she was blind (glaucoma) and unable to walk (broken hip) for many years, and then took care of her husband at home when he had cancer (with the help of Hospice).

And if this sucks for me, think of my poor mother–it’s her husband and mother that are affected.I am hoping that my grandmother’s disease will progress slowly and she will be able to live alone (well, alone in her apartment–the senior citizens there are never really ALONE like Aunt Bert is) for a long time. I don’t know what will happen with my father. I envision selling my house and my mom’s house and buying a large house and living in a 3-generation 5-person commune. I guess I’d have to learn to stay dressed all day again–which I hate.

My dad is still mostly himself, nothing new to report. Someone from Alaska who posts to the Yahoo AD group said her father is very lovable, and has no sense of time–he thinks he’s in Alaska for a visit and has only been there 2 weeks when it’s been months. My father’s always been a nice easygoing guy. Dare I hope he will stay that way, like this lady’s father?

I read something else cool on that group. I told Will about it and he agreed that it would work. This woman’s father refused to give up driving. So she took his car keys and filed down the ignition key so it wouldn’t work. (She kept a good set.) When the key didn’t work, she said, “If I can get the car to start, I will drive” and of course switched keys and the car started fine. It only took a few days for him to stop trying to drive. Very clever, no confrontation, no loss of face. Obviously if he can’t get the key to work, he can’t drive. Problem solved.

If I can’t stop being so sad, I am going to have to go to the doctor and get put on anti depressants. I wonder if there’s one whose side affect is loss of appetite or weight loss? I won’t take one that makes me gain weight. I feel so muzzy in the head, “mimsy in the borogrove”, when I cry all the time. It makes me stupid. I can’t write when I’m stupid, and writing is what makes me happy. I am unmotivated to exercise, or even to work on this journal or my web site or apply for jobs.

I feel so, old, used up, and it doesn’t help that due to reduced financial circumstances I couldn’t celebrate my birthday. Will bought me an Isis oracle on sale for $8 (which I picked out) and I got myself the Cthulhu book, Beth took me to the $5 movies, and my parents took me to dinner. Will’s sister Sue gave me a fart card saying I was an old fart. My astrologer friend Janet Booth sent me a nice birthday card with a note about my dad’s condition. A couple of on-line cards, that’s it.

I saw my college friend Michele this weekend; she had a tag sale. There is a job opening where her husband Pat works. It’s not a buying job (although sourcing is part of it). I applied this morning. Hey, maybe knowing Pat will help me get in the door. Will really wants to work there, if I can get a job there maybe I can get him one too. Pat makes bucoup bucks as a programmer. Actually the building is right next to where Will works now. It’s an internet company which sells DVD and music CDs.

I’m feeling terribly selfish. Will tried to remind me that he never knew his dad, that my dad is still walking around, even if it is at reduced capacity. That his most beloved Grandma Ag lived in Florida and Michigan and he didn’t see her at all between when he was about 8 and 25, and then he saw her only twice before she died. (That was his sucky birthday in 2000–I was released from my Hell job on his b-day and his Aggy died 2 days later.) He had a Wallingford grandma (Neena) who died right after we got married. (I didn’t have 2 grandmas, of course, I had Grandma & Aunt Bert. And Big Nonnie, who was my mother’s maternal grandma, and Big Poppy who was my mother’s paternal grandfather.) I did not want to hear his arguments, his problems. I know that complaining to him just makes him feel bad or angry or both. There is nothing he can do to help me. There is nothing anyone can do to help me–except publish my writing for gobs of money and/or give me a job making gobs of money so I can take care of all the expenses for these various ill relatives of mine. Or give Will a programming or gaming job making gobs of money so he can take care of me and my family. I know lately he’s been really glad he married me. Could you hear the sarcasm there?

I have been doing Jan Spiller’s New Moon Astrology stuff since last September and this New Moon on Saturday was part of my Grand Daddy Power period so I got to make extra requests to the universe. I’ve had some luck with her methods and I am trying to stay positive, although I feel so heavy (mentally & physically) and like I’m caught in mud that it’s difficult.

Some good news-Beth wants me to go into the delivery room with her and do reflexology on her while she’s in labor. I am terrified of course. I don’t want to watch the child come into the world and I know they will make me. That is more information than I need to have about my best friend! It’s one thing to change into bathing suits together at the gym and another to see a kid popping out. I want to stay close to her despite her new child and if this is what I have to do, I will do it. She also wants me to teach the girl how to read. I think this is premature since she’s not even born yet! (1561)

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

12 Aunt Bert & karmic ties

07-14-2004 Mayatime: 3 Etznab 1 Xul
(links not working, sorry, will fix eventually)
Not much to report as my parents are on vacation. I have their cat, the Jasper-Bastard, living behind my couch (and pooping on it–how many times do we have to show him the litter box?). He and my cats hate each other. Whenever he creeps out from his hiding place there’s hissing and spitting and all sorts of interesting noises. Actually my cats are big wimps who run away, but they make a lot of noise first. He did get into the bed a few times last night, and sat in the window for a while, but only when it wasn’t occupied by another cat.

It’s been raining all week so I haven’t been able to put water seal on my parent's new deck (or my old one) as I had promised. It’s also raining in Plymouth, where they are on vacation, and thus they are cutting their vacation short as they can’t even walk on the beach it’s so crappy out. I hope that my father will be able to enjoy and appreciate their vacation next year. It would be too horrible if his last vacation is ruined by rain.I think that if I had Jasper until Saturday, as was the original plan, he would have been fine and stopped living behind the couch. But they are coming to get him in a few hours. Since they didn’t call and say it’s nice up there and they’re staying, that means they’re on their way home.

I wanted to use this space to talk about my Aunt Bert, who’s pictured on page one. I have not seen her in person since November. She most likely has no memories of me at all. My 10th anniversary was last October, and my husband and I went on a cruise (click here for a small selection of cruise photos). Aunt Bert has always enjoyed pictures, and my stories of the outrageous things which just seem to happen when I am around. As soon as my pictures were printed and my album made up, I went to see her.

A few years ago she was hospitalized for congestive heart failure and wasn’t expected to live. She became thin and frail and severely over-medicated. Her one hobby, her love, was always working in the yard, and she became too sick to do it anymore. I always thought that was how she would die–a heart attack in her garden. And I’m sure that’s what she would have chosen for herself.She can’t garden anymore. She only leaves the house to go to the doctor.

So anyway, I went to see her in November 2003 with my big fat album. My photo albums are works of art. I keep a journal, and paste the printout of it into the album, and illustrate it with the photos, and I also make funny captions.

At that point, she was too weak to climb the stairs in her house anymore. Her house has 3 bedrooms upstairs and the bathroom. Downstairs is the kitchen, dining room and living room. Her bed was set up in the middle of the living room with a porta-potty next to it. No attempt to make it comfortable for her to have guests. Personally, I would have made the dining room into a bedroom, and moved the TV so it could be seen from the bed and the couch. But she’s not my grandmother, and I have no say. I made a joke that she should get a basket for her walker, so she could carry the cordless phone and whatever else she might have wanted close to her, and she said her daughter refused to buy one for her. Real nice, huh?

Aunt Bert and my mother sat on the bed and looked at the album together while I sat in the chair. My aunt looked at a photo of me and said to my mother, “who’s that?” and my mother said, “That’s Berta, she’s right there,” and pointed to me. My aunt said “Oh” in a tone of perfect incomprehension and turned the page politely.She didn’t know who I was. And that’s why I haven’t been back.I refuse to feel guilty. Going to see her will only upset me. I have my memories of her, when she was the woman in the photo on page one. She has no memories of me.

The state apparently tried to seize her and her assets a couple of weeks ago. Her daughter & her husband had to cancel a skiing trip to stay home and take care of her and they shouted at her and blamed her. There’s no food in her house–they bring her meals, but my mother said that she doesn’t eat them. (My mom stopped going too and now that my father is sick he completely refuses to go). Her daughter lives in the house right behind hers (I lived there until I was two years old) and they share a driveway. Her grandson, who also lives in the house behind Aunt Bert, takes her to the doctor and tries to watch out for her. He works nights at the same place where my husband works days so they overlap about an hour a day.

For a while, she thought her grandson was a “nice boy who takes me to the doctor” with no clue who he was. Now she asks him about his children, so she must think he’s his father. He told me she thinks her parents are alive and says he shouldn’t take her out because they will get mad–does she now think they are going on a date when he takes her on her appointments? She has some sort of nurse or companion come in every day, and we suppose it was one of them who called the state. I think she would be better off in a home–she should not be living alone.

My cousin was born when I was eight years old. Before that, I was Aunt Bert’s honorary grandchild. I even remember her asking me to call her grandma, and with the logic of a child I said, “but I already know you’re my aunt, if you wanted to be my grandmother you should have always had me call you that.” And she stayed Aunt Bert to me. I am glad, because once my cousin was born, my father and I became shit to her. Not that she didn’t love us anymore, but her blood grandchild was more important. If I had called her grandma, and believed she was my grandma (she did raise my dad after taking him away from her sister), how much more would my heart have been broken when my cousin came along? (And of course, when his sister W came along, he became shit to his parents & grandmother, but not to me and my parents which is why he loves me so much.)

But pre-cousin, and before her husband had his stroke, I used to spend a lot of time with them. In the summer, my parents would sometimes leave me at her house and I would swim in her daughter’s pool while she laid on the deck and made her skin into leather. (On other days I went to my grandma’s house, but she had no pool.) Aunt Bert never learned to drive, but Uncle Dick would take us in their Caprice down to Old Saybrook. They would go to Arthur Treacher’s Fish & Chips and I would go to McDonalds for a Happy Meal. (I don’t eat fish.) Then we would go to the miniature golf place, not to play golf, but to park in their lot and walk on the beach. (The same beach where the photos on page one were taken.) Aunt Bert would collect rocks to put in her garden. (I inherited the "rocks in the garden" gene from her.) Sometimes my parents went too. I can remember Uncle Dick teaching me how to rip the top straight off a packet of ketchup (instead of the corner) so I could dip my french fries without having to make a puddle (we were eating in the car in a McDonald’s parking lot.)I don’t remember how old I was when Uncle Dick had his stroke, but it had to be around the time my cousin was born. Aunt Bert cared for him at home. He had problems speaking and got very frustrated. She cared for him about ten years before he died. If I remember right, he fell (perhaps due to another stroke) and hit his head on the cast-iron radiator in the living room and died in the hospital. I was sent to my great-grandma’s house for his funeral; I think I was around 15 so I must have been around 5 when he had his stroke. Which makes my Arthur Treacher’s memories 30+ years old. Wow.

My aunt used to sew Barbie clothes. She made the most beautiful little outfits. I wish I had saved some but all my Barbie stuff went to W and she destroyed it all. I don’t like her much and won’t be talking about her.

My grandma is almost exactly a month older than Aunt Bert (and Uncle Dick and Grandpa were less than a month apart, both born in October 1916). This Sunday we were talking about Aunt Bert. My grandmother remembers how pretty Aunt Bert was. Every week she set her hair in old-fashioned pin curls (winding her hair around bobby pins). She always wore make-up, not gaudy old-lady make-up but tasteful, lipstick mostly, and she painted her nails. She was a big, solid German woman (her parents were immigrants) who thought nothing of working outside all day in the hot sun in her yard. She mowed her own lawn and shoveled her own snow (by hand). That is why it’s so sad to see her thin and frail, unable to walk up the stairs.

When I was in high school and college, my parents used to walk with Aunt Bert several nights a week. We’d drive to Aunt Bert’s house and set off from there. We had a nice route with several options on how far we could go. I think the biggest loop was around 7 miles. I’d have my walkman on and range ahead or behind them as the mood struck me.

Aunt Bert always had a bad leg, the left one. Not sure what was wrong with it (IS wrong with it, it still bothers her). She’d get these nasty ulcerous sores which oozed. When her leg was bad, she didn’t walk with us. She has to wear a pressure stocking, kind of like an ace-bandage. When I was small, she was in the pool with me (a rare thing, usually she just laid on the deck) and I kicked her by accident, in the bad leg. I know she didn’t talk to my parents for a while after that, blaming me (I had to be younger than 8, because it was pre-cousin) because the sores flared up again.

I guess I am recording all these memories of her because she’s got none of me. That is very sad, because I did (do) love her. But her lack of memory does NOT invalidate all the good times I had with her, or the fact that once upon a time she loved me like a grandmother.

I talk to my students about cutting karmic ties. Karmic ties are about conditional love. Do you really want someone to love you because they are supposed to, because karma has locked you together? Wouldn’t you rather cut the karma and see if they love you “just because”? Often my students freak out. “What if I cut the karmic ties to my friend and she doesn’t like me anymore?” Then why be friends with someone like that? You don’t need her. A big thing is to cut karmic ties to those who are no longer in our lives, especially the dead. That’s always touchy. Your karmic ties can hold your departed loved one to this plane of existence. Is that what you want? Is that how you show your love? I love you so much I won’t let you go to where you need to be? (Talk about conditional love!) Cutting the ties does not invalidate the memories or the emotions. It just gets rid of the SHOULD.

I have cut my karmic ties to Aunt Bert. The SHOULD was that I SHOULD visit her even though she doesn’t know me. Even though a visit from a stranger, as I would appear to be, would upset her. And me. And gain neither of us anything.I can’t say at this point what will happen with my father. Unlike my aunt, he will depend on me (and my mom) for his care. That puts it in a different light. (2079)

Friday, July 09, 2004

11 my b-day, DMV bus, Wendy's, hurt cat ,new job

07/09/2004 Maytime: 11 Ben 16 Tzec

Yesterday, for my birthday, we went to the Mystic Aquarium and shopping. I haven’t been to the Aquarium for a few years, since before they got the Beluga whales (last time I was there, they were building the tank).My mother drove, which was fine with me. It rained heavily around dawn and we hit some showers driving there but once we were there it was ok. We hoped that the rain would keep people away but instead there were herds of children and packs of mothers with aggressive stroller techniques.

We walked around for about 2 hours, saw the Titanic exhibit (not what I expected; it was replicas and photos and a movie). It was a nice time. Dad didn’t get lost or anything, but sometimes when he looks at things, it seems like his eyes are glazing over–as if he’s looking because I am, or my mother is, or everyone else is, but he doesn’t know what he’s looking at or for.

I was happy to see a small exhibit on frogs (and you know I took half my pictures there!). I adore frogs. It was like playing “where’s Waldo?”–each tank had a picture of what frog was in there, and I’d stand there until I found it. I was taking pictures of brightly-colored poison arrow frogs and the flash attracted a blue one who came right up to the glass and looked at me. (The one thing about my digital camera is that the flash ALWAYS goes off. So when I take pictures of things behind glass, there’s a huge splotch of light reflecting. I try to hold my finger over the flash, but it gets really hot for about half a second, hot enough to burn. Ouch.)

I wanted also to go to the outlet stores in Westbrook and to Ponderosa in Groton (and, while I was right next door, the Citadel gaming store). My father is a backseat (passenger seat) driver and he spent quite a bit of time yelling at my mother on the way there. (Watch out! That guy is coming up behind you! Look out for the truck!) I told him he was NOT to shout at me while I was driving unless I was about to be broadsided by a UFO. He gets very anxious when he doesn’t know where he is. He kept saying, “I don’t know where we are,” and my mother would reassure him, “Berta knows where we are” but that didn’t help.In Ponderosa, he wanted (as usual) to sit near the window. The tables near the window are booths, which are just evil in a buffet restaurant. I will not sit in a booth at a buffet unless there’s only 2 of us. There was a long row of tables pushed together with little white cards on them. To me, that means “reserved” so we ended up in the old smoking room in front of the restaurant, next to the window but at a table. He complained that it was too far away from the food. It turns out those little white cards just have the name of the waitress on them. How was I supposed to know? I ran next door to Citadel after we ate and bought myself a birthday gift: the new sixth edition Call of Cthulhu rulebook. I did not splurge on the limited edition leather-bound version for $80, I bought the regular one.

When we got to Westbrook (I drove, Dad did not yell), we walked by a Rockport shoe store. My father said that he bought a pair of shoes there and they didn’t fit right because they sell shoes that are no good. Yes, they sell seconds, that’s why they’re cheap. He said he was never going to buy shoes there again. He is very fussy about his shoes cuz of his flat feet.I wanted to get some more spoons and forks from Oneida and some plates from Phalzcraft. (Yeah I could look up the spelling on the back of the plate, but I’m lazy.) I had a spoon with me. My spoons (“Cassandra”) aren’t discontinued, but they were out of stock. My plates (Amalfi Classic) have been discontinued for years. I did manage to get some nice wrapping paper for baby gifts for Miss Beth’s bambina so it wasn’t a totally wasted stop. My special leg was starting to get stupid as we headed back to the car, and where does my dad go like a magnet? The Rockport store, where he said he would never shop again. From there into the Reebock store, still looking for the elusive green sneakers with green laces (he refuses to just buy a pair of green Converse hi-tops or dye a pair of white Converse). By this time I’m dragging my leg behind me like Quasimodo. (It’s not that it hurts, exactly, it just gets stupid. I can’t lift it and it swells.) It’s getting hotter out, and I’m thirsty. And here’s dear ol’ Dad, browsing for chartreuse shoelaces.

Mom, feeling generous, allowed him to drive home. Just as we’re leaving the parking lot, my cell phone rings. Will is calling to say that someone wants to interview me for a job. He’s trying to give me the information. Meanwhile all the windows in the car are rolled down and air is roaring into my face, the A/C is on full blast and for reasons I don’t understand my parents are yelling at each other. I can’t hear a word Will is saying because he is also on his cell phone (so much for digital being better). And Will expects me to call this guy back from the road? It sounded like a lunatic asylum, not a simple ride in the car.

Mom told Dad to look for the Hammonasett exit. I wasn’t paying much attention and neither was she and the next thing we knew, we’re in Branford, well past our exit. And the highway info signs were saying 5 mile backup at the Q bridge. So we got off at the next Route 1 exit, and my father is swearing at the red light as if it’s on a personal vendetta against him. We went home by a convoluted back way (“I don’t know where we are.” “I do, just keep going.”). I was talking to my mother about my lack of success with tiger lilies in my yard and my father starts randomly talking about Choatees (people who go to/work at Choate Rosemary Hall) jumping in front of his car and that’s why he was going home the odd way he was. Choatees have always walked in front of moving cars (they are all rich and if we hit them, their daddies will sue), it’s nothing new and nothing personal against my father. But don’t tell HIM that. And who knows what it has to do with orange tiger lilies.

Now to back up a day, to Wednesday. I usually have lunch with my mom on Wednesday (just Burger King). Since she’s off, she wanted to go somewhere else than BK. I was hoping for 99 House but she picked Wendy’s. Of course Dad wanted to come and I invited Will too (since we weren’t locked into Mom’s 11:30-12:00 lunch slot; his starts at 12:00). I had to go get my driver’s license renewed first. The DMV bus gets to Meriden at 10:00 a.m. I got to the parking area at 10:40, no bus. Others were waiting too. No bus. So I go to my parents’ house and they say after lunch they will take me to AAA where I can also get renewed (it expired on my birthday, the next day). We go to Wendy’s with Dad behind the wheel. He wants to park in the center section (he doesn’t like to park near other cars, never has, always worries about scratches). I explain that we will be trapped by drive-through cars when we leave. He can’t understand that. Then he wants to park on the far side of Wendy’s where my husband won’t see the car when he gets there. Finally we get him to park in the back under a tree. He orders a chicken sandwich and then doesn’t know what the sauce is. He’s worried he got spicy chicken by accident. (He thinks he doesn’t like spicy food. If you tell him something has spices on it, he won’t eat it. If you just put spices on and tell him it’s plain, he’ll tell you how good it is.) I show him my spicy chicken, which has reddish brown coating on it, versus his uncoated grilled chicken which has some orangey-mayonnaise like sauce (probably thousand island dressing). I tell him it’s mayo, which he loves, and he eats it happily.

After we eat, I reapply my “getting my picture taken” make-up and we go to AAA. (If they had told me it was right off the highway I could have gone by myself–I’m a little old to have my parents drive me to get my license.) I go inside and my parents wait in the car. I’m not in there 2 minutes when in comes Dad, wandering around. “I thought I could help you or something.” He won’t sit down, he’s hovering, people think he’s in line. Finally I get him to sit. The guy comes over and says the machine is broken, we can wait or come back later. I don’t want to do either so I send my father back out to the car. Eventually I am called up. I stand in the spot and wait for them to cue me to smile. They say “all set, have a seat” and of course my picture looks like I’m a half-wit since I wasn’t ready. And then charge me a dollar more because they claim my form is wrong. I complain about the lack of bus in Meriden and the guy says (I couldn’t make this up) “It’s there now.” Well, DUH, how is that going to help me when I’m in HAMDEN now, waiting for their stupid fucking broken machine to spit out a terrible picture of me I have to look at until 2010!

Then we go back to the house and I have to help my father make some phone calls (he just can’t understand people over the phone). I ask him for some information and he starts swearing, throwing around papers, saying it’s none of their business. I am on hold, on hold, on hold. He’s going on and on, “that guy always gives me such a hard time” (it was a recording) and the guy is “breaking my balls” and meanwhile I’m just ON HOLD. I have to answer a million automated questions (press 1 for yes, press 2 for no, press 3 if you don’t know) and since he’s griping at me I miss some of the questions and have to answer “3”. On hold some more, so long that the system automatically disconnected. Call back, on hold, on hold. More griping & swearing. Finally I get a person, say about 2 sentences and she hangs up on me. Call back, on hold, on hold. This went on for over an hour and finally I gave up.

So today (Friday) I had to bring my poor Nutter cat to the vet. He broke his fang and it’s all brown and he won’t eat. And I have to mail my ads into The Door Opener (postmarked today) and finish the calls for Dad and go into my new job to talk to my new boss AND have cake with Will’s mom for my birthday. The vet says there’s nothing he can do for my buddy Nutter except pull the tooth but he doesn’t think it’s necessary. I leave the cat in the car for the minute it takes to run the ad into the post office and then call Dad: “I’m coming over to finish the phone call now.” “Mommy’s home.” “Ok, I’ll see her too.” “I’m leaving now to go clean the cars.” “No, you have to stay. I’m making calls for you.” “Mommy’s home.” “Don’t leave, I’ll be there in two minutes.” And I am, and he hasn’t left. After only 16 minutes of being on hold, I get a real person and he helps us, even goes a little extra. Then my dad leaves to clean the cars and my mother says how mad he was at me for making him stay home. The whole 16 minutes I was on hold he was swearing that “that guy” (the one who gives him a hard time, the recording) wasn’t going to help us.

And I had my cat inside, in his carrier (he was afraid to come out) and the Jasper was attacking the carrier trying to kill my poor old Nutter. Jasper attacked my mother when she took him away from the carrier and also lashed out at my father, at which point my father got more angry because I want him to get a second cat to keep Jasper company (and because he’s too spoiled) and this “proves” that they can’t get another cat. Jasper is going to be sorry when he comes to live with me next week while my parents are away. Nutter is going to kick his butt when Jasper is on Nutter’s turf. So is Zen for all the times Jasper attacked HIM at Grandma’s (which should be neutral territory).My new job is for six hours a week. Better than nothing. And if I do good, I can get bonuses and make as much as I made working for the asshole for 50 hours a week (which included being sworn at, being hit by forklifts, unloading trucks and having things thrown at me). I will do good. (2264)

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

10 my novel, 4th July, evil cat, yard work, attack tree, lawn mowing

07-06-04 Maytime: 8 Oc 13 Tzec

“Bouncy ball is the source of all goodness and light” or so my Taipei game tell me when I win.

I’ve been cranking on my novel, 29 pages yesterday and 8 so far today, I’m coming up on the 60K mark, very exciting. So I haven’t been posting here. Today’s Tuesday. I saw my dad yesterday and Sunday.

Sunday was, of course, Independence Day, when the world celebrates its independence from nasty aliens. Oh, that was only a movie? Anyway, my husband and I and his mom & Grandma gathered at my parents’ house for a “picnic” as we call it, although we eat in the house. You know, dogs, burgers, potato salad, all that, eaten off Styrofoam plates. My dad was excellent, if I hadn’t know something is wrong with him, I never would have guessed. Maybe the medicine is finally kicking in? My mom got him to recite all the months of the year in order (sad, isn’t it, what a person can be reduced to) and he was able to do so (after some prompting, he still thought he was supposed to spell “world” backward). She said a few days earlier, he could not remember.

When we went to the Square last week (Friday night), he couldn’t remember my birthday (which is in 2 days!), even with a lot of prompting. Oh well, a birthday’s not very important. And I’m pretty old anyway. (Don’t ask.)

The crazed Jasper cat of course adored me, because I was at his house. When I am at Grandma’s house, I am the most evilest of all cat enemies. (He once smacked me in the face so hard that it was audible. If he had claws, I’d be missing an eye or half my nose!).Anyway, over the course of the meal, my father made sense when he talked, and remembered the names of most things. My mom and I are getting better at interpreting for him too–I think he might have had trouble with naming the plate of lettuce and tomato slices, but that’s about it.

Yesterday, as is traditional, my mom was going to come over and tame the bush-from-hell. I had plans to photograph it before and after. It poured, and she called to say she “might be over later” so Will and I went out for pizza and then he had to stop at his mom’s to put in her air conditioner. When we got home, the wild rose bush I had wanted to take a picture of was hacked to the ground (it had been at least 7 feet high). Apparently my father got over-enthusiastic with the clippers. Oh well, I’ve cut that rose bush to the ground before and it always grows back bigger than ever.

Mom did most of the cutting, I dragged things to the wheelbarrow and Dad dumped the cuttings into our scrap pile. Zen, my fat black 1/2 Siamese cat, was outside playing in the wet grass, happy as a, well, a cat in long grass. He loves being outside, but his leash always gets tangled in one of the back yard rose bushes so he has to be watched almost constantly. (He’s pretty stupid.) We had a mishap, as always. Mom cut the dogwood branch which was touching the phone wire and instead of it falling, it got stuck hanging from the wire, which was even worse.

(This is a minor mishap compared to some. In 2000, we had a terrible windstorm and the tree in front of their house got knocked down, onto the house. Mom was cutting it up while standing on the ladder on the hill, and I was holding the ladder. She cut a load-bearing branch somehow and the WHOLE TREE fell on me. I swear that my Reiki saved me. She was sawing, I was holding with both hands, and my hands got hot–my Reiki turned on by itself–and I thought I heard someone say something. I turned my head and said, “What?” just as the tree fell. It skimmed my cheek, smashed into my left shoulder, knocked me to my knees in the mud, and then slid down my left arm leaving scratches and bruises. If I hadn’t turned my head, it would have hit me in the head.)

So my husband climbed up and hacked at the hanging branch until it came down. This made him all dirty and sweaty just when he wanted to leave to go see Annie Lennox and Sting so he was unhappy.

Anyway, my father was himself for the most part, in good spirits. My mother wanted to pull the pickup truck into the driveway and my father couldn’t understand why (we were working in the back yard and the tools were in the back of the truck in front of the house). Just a few weeks ago when he cut the lawn, he pulled the truck into the driveway himself. I don’t know why my parents have so much trouble with our driveway. It’s narrow, but it’s not like an ALLEY or something.

Now I will tell the story of Dad mowing my lawn. This was before we knew about his disease. We were having a party and needed the lawn mowed (our lawn is small, we have no mower and depend on borrowing mowers or using the weed wacker). I asked him if I could borrow the mower. He didn’t like that. (I was never allowed to mow, just like I never washed the car by hand.) My mother volunteered him to mow. He told me to pick up any rocks in the yard. I explained that certain rocks (the ones around my circle) cannot be moved. He said he wouldn’t mow. I said to mow around them. He calls that Tuesday (actually it was the day he lost his job) saying he’s coming over to mow and did I move the rocks. I explain, again, that the rocks cannot be moved, but I moved the lawn furniture. He comes over just before Willy gets home for lunch. Willy tells him again not to move the rocks and shows him which rocks not to move. While we’re having lunch, he mows...after moving all the rocks, of course. He even removed every statue and pink flamingo from my garden (but didn’t mow it). I was so angry. I called my mother and said, “If I had been working in your yard and I moved things you told me not to touch, I’d never hear the end of it.” She got mad at me and hung up. (Moms. Who understands them?) I had to re-consecrate my circle and it still doesn’t feel exactly right inside. A few days later, my father calls me and offers a kind of apology, in his “I can’t remember any nouns” Bob language. He said he was at the place, you know, and he saw the thing, you know, people go there, and he realized that I was trying to make that kind of special thing, and that’s why he wasn’t supposed to move the rocks. Luckily I speak “Bob” and understood that he went for a walk on the linear trail and saw the labyrinth (which is edged in brick). My circle isn’t a labyrinth, of course, but he got the right idea somehow, and he offered to come over and put the rocks back. I had already done most of it. I was touched that he made the connection between my sacred circle and the labyrinth (he’s not much of a spiritual person) and I felt kind of bad when he asked “did you move the big one? That one was a bitch.”–referring to the large center rock of my circle, the so-called “head rock” which I got on the beach on vacation a few years ago (my best friend & her husband were with us and got a similar rock for their garden). It’s larger than my head and, a grey rock which would be utterly boring except for a 4" stripe of quartz right down the middle. (I LOVE striped rocks.) It’s got to weigh 60 or 70 pounds and my dad, who’s had a hernia operation, picked it up to move it. (I just kick it, I can’t lift it.) Of course, I TOLD HIM NOT TO, but now we know why he did such a silly thing–he has a memory problem which isn’t his fault.

So for my birthday Thursday I am going to Mystic Aquarium with my parents, as my mom has this week & next off from work. I believe I am starting my new job at the newspaper the next day. I also have 2 potential students, one for Shamballa and one for Holographic Sound Healing, so I am happy. (1458)

Friday, July 02, 2004

9 well-wishes from a friend

07-02-04 (full moon) Mayatime: 4 Cimi 9 Tzec

It's a small world. One of the people from my lightworker group was reading this blog, and it turns out she knows my father. I have her permission to reprint her e-mails:

From: HeatherO
Date: Fri, 2 Jul 2004 13:12:14 -0400
To: geverabert
Subject: hello...
Hi Gevera,
I was just at your website reading about your father. And when I saw his picture I thought I recognized him. Then I read further down to where you wrote that he worked at Meriden Hyundai. Is your father's name Bob? If that is him, then I bought my first car from your dad back in 1998. And I don't know how anyone could have given him a bad rating. Your dad was great while selling me my car and for years after. If I ever had a problem, I knew I could call him and he would help me. My husband and I ended up going back to him several years later and buying another car there. I'm really sorry to hear about his diagnosis. I will definitely be praying for you all. Love, Heather...:)

Date: Fri, 2 Jul 2004 10:15:22 -0700 (PDT)
From: GeveraBert
Subject: Re: hello...
To: HeatherO
Yes, he's Bob Rizza. And I will tell him of your good wishes. Thank you so much. Can I put your letter in my blog? I will not post your email address of course.

From: HeatherO
Sent: Friday, July 02, 2004 1:18 PM
To: geverabert
Subject: Re: hello...
Of course....For years I would drive by the Hyundai dealer and look for Bob in the window. I always had fond memories of him, still do. He is a kind hearted man and I wish him and your family the best....:)

Anyone else who has made their way to this site and knows my dad personally, feel free to email me at geverabert(at)yahoo(dot)com to send him well wishes. They mean a lot to us.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

8 new job, butterflys, brain glue

07-01-04 Mayatime: 3 Chicchan 8 Tzec (Burner day)

The good news is, I have a job. The bad news is, it’s telemarketing. It’s not calling homes, though, it’s calling businesses to sell advertising, and it’s at a very small newspaper so I have hopes of moving into a writer/editor position someday. I need the money desperately. It’s part time, so I can still work on my novel (and this blog) and if I need to, take care of my dad. I went over my parents’ house to tell them the good news and my dad wasn’t home. My mom wasn’t sure where he was (he’s never been great at leaving notes) and it was past time for his brain pill. We started getting worried around 5 p.m. but then he came home. We talked about the butterflies in the garden. He can wrap his mouth around those Latin butterfly names but he can’t remember Red Lobster is where we ate on Sunday.

I tried to encourage him to take photos of the garden and the butterflies with the nice 35mm camera I got them a few years ago, but he didn’t seem into it. I read a book yesterday called “New Hope for People with Alzheimer’s and their Caregivers” (it’s part of a medical series). It is pretty good. It talked about alternative therapies as well as conventional ones, including diet and herbs and supplements of all kinds. I would recommend it as a beginner’s book (which I certainly am).

I told my mom how, according to the New Hope book, that I now have double the chance of getting Alzheimer’s because Daddy has it. She didn’t believe me. She said I should have a kid so it could take care of me when I'm old. What a terrible reason to have a child. No, I should join the Hemlock Society, that’s what I should do. That’s got to be even worse than having a kid hoping to beat the 25% odds and get a matching kidney. The New Hope book talked about some tests that apparently my father should have gotten and didn’t. I want him to have those tests (cognitive) as a benchmark, as a way to test if the medicine is helping. It’s giving him headaches along the side of his head, which I told my mom to treat with her new Reiki. My mom said it seems like he’s going downhill fast and she doesn’t believe the medicine is working. I have another theory.

I believe that #1 my mother and I were blind/in denial and now our eyes are open and #2 my dad was hiding his condition, either deliberately or on purpose and #3 now that he KNOWS he has something wrong with him, he’s not trying anymore. He’s given up. We have to beat #3. My mom says he acts like he’s a teenager, not an adult (coloring his sneakers because he couldn’t get the color he wanted, for instance). I pointed out that I told him to color his sneakers. I want to get him coloring books, which I think I mentioned, but the New Hope book said AD people find them offensive. Hmm. I happen to like to color and I’m not embarrassed to say so.

He seemed pretty much okay to me (as okay as he gets) over supper. He fixated on the butterflies, which isn’t unusual for him, but he knew their names and could describe them to me. He got confused and thought I worked at a restaurant, not at the newspaper. He asked me what my name was when I worked at 99 House. I had mentioned 99 House only because I dropped something off for some one I know who works there. We told him several times that I work at a newspaper. Perhaps it will stick, perhaps not. It’s not really important, is it? The New Hope book said basically that the glue which sticks new thoughts into the mind stops functioning. I just don’t want him going into 99 and looking for me. I am looking into a medic alert bracelet for him. The Alzheimer’s site talks about a wandering person registry, it’s $40. I think it would be $40 well spent. (665)