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Whew! Last weekend seemed long. Mom needs me to pay her rent now, as she keeps forgetting how to write a check. This Saturday I made the plunge and told her I would take over paying the rent. I’m not a pushy, or assertive type person, so this type of thing seems fraught with stress to me. Well, actually it went off ok.

I was sick a lot this last January and February, so I got behind in things like getting tax papers together for the CPA. On Sunday I thought I could finish up and drop them off, but I realized at the last-minute, that I did not have the Social Security tax thingy – 1099 I think it is called. So I called mom, not knowing if she would make any sense of what I was asking her to look for. I noticed on last years form that it was mailed to mom’s address, so I figured she probably got it and didn’t know what to do with it. Either that or she gave it to me and I lost it . . .

So, she didn’t find it and so I had to go over there and look for it, stressing out all the time (I know, I don’t HAVE to stress about things, but have you ever tried to call the Social Security office for someone else – ie, not yourself?) As it turned out, I was really tired when I went, as my small car died a month or so ago, and I have made the decision to get another used little car, and have an appointment to pick it up Monday after work, so I had to clean up the garage so it would fit in there.

I have been working on wiring a light for the front porch, so I could plug-in a light out there so mom could see the steps in the dark, and so the garage was a mess. So I had to drill some holes and screw in some hooks for a 25 foot ladder I keep for accessing the roof (which, by the way, is growing a nice thick crop of moss, which I have to get rid of soon, or lose my nice less-than-10 year old roof). I had to hang up some other stuff that was scattered on the garage floor from some other work I’d been doing in there.

By the time I’d finished sweeping and re-hanging things, I was pretty tired, and then I realized I didn’t have the Social Security form and yes, I was stressing. The good news is, I went to mom’s, went through all of her papers (she seems to have a lot, for someone who only has 3 bills per month, but anyway, I went through everything and hallelujah! I found it! I am still surprised, and very pleased.

So, tonight I pick up the new, used little car and give it an overnight test drive, and hopefully everything will be OK. Then I get to do MY income tax crap. Oh, my god. I swear, I’m taking off and going hiking before the end of the month, or I will explode myself all over somewhere!

IMG_3312This is what I mean . . .

Last Saturday was great grandma day, and as usual, we went to Squalicum harbor after lunch. Mom likes to look at the water, and we can also see Mount Baker and the Sisters peaking over the foothills. This week there were flowers blooming. Mom LOVES flowers.

When mom had a house and a yard, the thing she cared most about were the flowers. She had lots of incredible iris, as there was a very old lady (one of those crazy old ladies that you are afraid of when you are little and have to walk past her house every day on the way to and from school) who had a thing about tulips, and she would give mom some of her bulbs. That womans yard was full of tulips – no grass, just tulips, property line to property line. The house was a tiny, ramshackle thing that was badly in need of any kind of maintenance, and the fence around her yard was a conglomeration of chicken wire and any type of fence post I guess she could find.

Mom said she had a grown son who lived with her, but I never saw him. I don’t know where he slept, that house was about as big as our living room, and our living room wasn’t all that big. In any case, she had a thing for iris’ and had the most beautiful collection I have ever seen.

Another story about my mom and flowers is there was a big cemetary a couple miles from our house. People would bring flowers to put at graves, and some of these were entire plants, not just cut flowers. When the groundskeepers cleaned up, the plants were tossed in a pile. Mom would sometimes find great flower bulbs and whole plants there, and these also ended up in our yard. We had lots of flowers.

The tulips are gorgeous! A few photos:

Tulips at Squalicum HarborTulips at Squalicum Harbor
Tulips at Squalicum HarborTulips at Squalicum Harbor
 

If  my camera was better, you could see the snow-white tips of Baker and the Sisters in the background, but alas . . . better cameras cost more money and that’s not going to happen!

There was a nice breeze Saturday and so the kite flyers were out in force. There were about 10 kites, I took a few pics of the larger ones, as the smaller ones only show up as black dots – not great to look at in photos.

Two kites at Squalicum harbor

Two kites at Squalicum harbor

 

No, hamsters don’t fly kites, for obvious reasons.

Sayonara.

 

 

Fishing boats

Fishing boats

This blog is really what I thought it would be – a free-association mental exercise. When I started it, I tried to think of ONE subject area that I could write about day after day, and could not think of one. I have many interests and at my age, I am trying to do everything I can afford to do that I have always wanted to do but put off because I had responsibilities that took precedence, or so I thought.

In retrospect I think I could have done a lot of things and still managed my responsibilities, not when I was a single mom with young boys, but that took up about 15 of my 25 adult years. Sigh . . .

So, I’m taking a fly fishing class this coming Saturday. That will be fun. I’ve been looking up hikes that go to lakes for my summer backpack trips. I’m really getting into this. 

So, why the fishing fleet photo? I took my 87 year old mom out on Sunday, and we usually go to the harbor to look out over the water. It’s pretty, and mom can see a great view without having to get out of the car and walk, which she often does not feel up to.

This time I thought I’d bring my little camera and snap a few. I’ve always enjoyed seeing boats – must have been imprinted by having a dad who designed and built boats, even though we didn’t have one! What was up with that dad? 

Here’s the local seagulls keeping a watch, and simultaneously “painting” any cars below with their personal white “paint”.

Seagulls on alert

Seagulls on alert

The hamster keeps busy

Ok, so yesterday I was sick.  Which for me means that I do pretty much everything I do when I’m not sick, but slower and less efficiently.  As I got older and my kids are grown and on their own, I have really tried to just stop and rest when I get sick, but for 60 years I have been working my ass off just to try to keep up with all you superhuman type A persons out there and it seems that I am not doing such a good job at it.  

I managed to work my ass off while raising two kids and putting myself through engineering school, but I got sick now and then too.  The result was that everyone else seemed to get better grades than me (its really hard to get a 4.0 GPA if you get sick at least twice a year).  You try to study and learn a difficult subject while dragging your sorry ass around with a virus that makes you feel like you have strep or the flu (but you went to the doctor and he/she said you didn’t, he said just to get some rest; ha, ha, that was a good one). 

Unwarranted Optimism

Unwarranted Optimism

Anyway, I have been trying to take it easy now that my life is a little less swamped with stuff I have to do and my current job does not include overtime.  But life gets in the way and our really sucky American economy smacked me really hard in the face.  So, let me inform you on what we 60-somethings do these days. 

I am taking accounting classes online while working full time at a not very well paid job.  I don’t see ever being able to get another engineering job (in HVAC and plumbing design) as it has been 2 years since I have been able to get work even doing a little design and CAD.  So the accounting class takes up at least 5 evenings a week for 2 hours, plus 3 – 4 hours on the weekend. 

In addition, I am the only female in my family, and so it has fallen to me to take care of mom.  Since she has money, that means she lives in a retirement home and I have her EVERY freakin’ weekend for one entire day.  She is 86 and not happy about it.  So I deal with her depression and take her around on various little outings, like out to get ice cream and visits to the park.  This cuts into my time, as I cannot go hiking for a 2 day backpack, and any studying has to fit into the mom outings.  Since she walks really slow now, any outing takes a lot of time.

Then my boss where I work now volunteered to do a Habitat for Humanity house, and as that is something I have wanted to do for years (but never had the time), I decided to volunteer also.  BUT, since I am taking the accounting class and take care of mom, I don’t have much time, so I’m doing the construction work every other weekend.

Add to that, my deck was literally rotting out from under me, so as I have documented on this blog I have been working on that as much as I can, which is slow going. 

So anyway, if some asshole doesn’t destroy the power grid or this country sink into anarchy, which it kinda looks like it could, in 4 years I will have a 2-year accounting degree and if there are any companies still in business at that time, I might be able to get an accounting type job. 

So much for pollyanna optimism, ha, ha.

Remember: “Just because you’re not paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. ”  

The hamster report

Anyone else out there have one or more elderly parents they are partially or completely responsible for?  Another question: Does anyone else belong to a family with more than one sibling, but only one sibling is required to do all the care and it is you?

Well, how do you do, me too.  My mom is 86 and not happy about it.  She shares this with me every time I talk to her and several times throughout the day when she is with me, which is all day every Saturday (sometimes Sunday).

 

I wish mom would smile sometimes

I wish mom would smile sometimes

 

Most people find this life view negative and depressing, and I would too if I had not had such a close connection to death most of my life.  No, I’m not sick, not physically anyway, ha, ha, but for much of my youth I too wanted to die.  Now, don’t get all worked up over this.  I never attempted to end it all, but I thought seriously about it and I still consider much of my youth lived on the knife edge between living and not living.

I think that most Americans (I can only speak for this society, as it is the only one I have spent time in) have a (forgive the pun) morbid fear of death and dying.   I have heard many theories as to why this is so, and I suspect that all of them are true.  I won’t bore you with listing or describing them, or heck, maybe I will, heh, heh.  As for me, I don’t fear death or dying, but I do harbor a deep dread of pain.  I hope one day to keel over suddenly, feeling great right up to that moment, then just presto, chango, gone the next.  That would be ok, I guess, since no one has figured out how to live forever.  Now, that would be cool.  Just think of how much you could learn if you lived a thousand years!  So cool.

Well, back to caring for elderly parents you love who would really like to shuffle off this mortal coil and yet have moral and religious taboos against speeding up the process.  So anyway, I pick mom up very nearly every Saturday at 10:00 am and we are off to a really low key, boring kind of day.  Mom doesn’t like movies, plays, art galleries, live music performances, TV, eating in restaurants, shopping for new clothes, driving anywhere that takes more than 30 minutes to get there and listening to the radio.  I guess that lists everything I would like to do on a Saturday but mom won’t do.

 

Depressed Elderly

Depressed Elderly

 

Well, there is only so much I can take, so I listen to the radio and watch DVD’s on the TV and work in my yard and other projects around the house, especially when she is napping, which is a lot of the time.  So the thing of it is, is mom is kinda depressed and anything that might cheer her up is something she doesn’t want to do.  She also only wears clothes that I’m pretty sure she bought in the 1950’s at Goodwill and refuses to buy anything new, because “I’m not going to live that long.”  Now how do you deal with that?

Don’t tell me to cheer her up, tell her nice things and make her do things she doesn’t want to on the premis that once she gets going she will enjoy it and forget about herself. I’ve tried that.

Well, back to the issue about un-involved siblings who are out having the time of their lives in semi-retirement whist I work my ass off keeping my spirits up with good-ol’ mom.  Is there a cliff somewhere where useless siblings can be edged off and not make a mess for someone else to clean up?  That would be nice.

The hamster cares

Here’s a joke for those who find discussions about responsibility depressing: “While on a car trip, an old couple stopped at a roadside restaurant for lunch. The old woman unfortunately left her glasses on the table, but didn’t miss them until they were back on the highway. By then, they had to travel quite a distance before they could find a place to turn around.

The old man fussed and complained all the way back to the restaurant, telling his wife she needs to be more responsible about her
belongings.

When they finally arrived, as the old woman got out of the car to retrieve her glasses the old man said, “While you’re in there, you may as well get my hat, too.””

This one is great: “An older gentleman was on the operating table awaiting surgery and he insisted that his son, a renowned surgeon, perform the operation. As he was about to get the anesthesia he asked to speak to his son. “Yes, Dad, what is it?” “Don’t be nervous, son;do your best and just remember, if it doesn’t go well, if something happens to me, your mother is going to come and live with you and your wife….””

The hamster is smiling 🙂