Wednesday, July 29, 2009


"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

Margery Williams--The Velveteen Rabbit

Monday, July 27, 2009

I want what I want when I want it

My mother is in the advanced stages of dementia.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the disease, or at least have only a passing acquaintance with it, this means for my mom that she is agitated almost constantly. When she gets agitated, her arms flail, and she chants. "Aiaiaiaiaiaiaiaiai," she'll say for hours on end. If we ask a questions, she will reply, over and over. "Mom, are you ready for bed?" "Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes" until the next distraction. It is bothering the other residents and their families.

We have been working with hospice on getting the meds balanced so Mom is calm. Unfortunately, the nurses at the facility think Mom should be alert, not realizing that for her, alert equals agitated. I spoke at length with the hospice case manager on Friday, and I told her, "If Mom sleeps the rest of her life away, so be it. However, having her risk being in that agitated state for hours because she should be awake is just cruel."

She agreed. We talked to the nurses on duty, and they began giving the medications on a preventive basis. So, Mom was sleepy, but she was calm. There was peace. Yesterday, the Mom's doctor came in and visited Mom. "She is too out of it. I don't like this at all," she said, and cut way back on Mom's medications. When my sister went in yesterday at suppertime, Mom was charged up, chanting, and had been parked in her room, as she was again disrupting the facility and making a great commotion.

So this morning I have a call in to the hospice case manager and a fax to the doctor. There is no quality of life left for my mother. Let's let her be comfortable, and let's let those around her have some peace. I know I will rest better knowing she is not alone and shouting over and over again.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hare-y Houdini

My sister called me one day two summers ago. It seems she and her husband were driving to the Earth Day celebration. The day was uncommonly sunny and very hot, and they drove past a house which had a cage out by the road, with a sign on the cage reading, "Free." As they passed, my sister saw two ears.

"That's a rabbit," she said. "In the sun with no shade. I have to call my sister."

Her husband said, "I'm turning around."

She called me. "There's a bunny," she said, "on the side of the road, in the sun. Its cage is filthy, and it has bird seed in its dish, and it has no water."

"Get it," I said.

"And there's a sign which says free, and it stinks."

"Get it," I said, "and we'll find it a good home."

So they went to the house and got the rabbit, which the people said they had gotten for their daughter who had just gotten tired of it. Since my sister had guinea pigs and had heard that rabbits and guinea pigs should not be kept together, I took the rabbit and put him on the porch. He was a darling little mini-rex, tan in color, and very sweet. His coat was that wonderful plush which the mini-rex buns are known for. The kids named him Willie. The next day, when I came home from work, EG had moved the bunny into our bedroom. "Huh," I told him. "Looks like Bunny found a new home."

Will eventually got moved to the bottom half of the rabbit condo in the living room, and eventually Harry discovered that he could move the latch to the cage and open the door, and then stick his head in and snack on the treats intended for the rabbit. Unfortunately, Willie is an adventurer, and he gets out and travels through the house. We have had to use a lock on the cage.

Today we came back to find the cage open and the bunny nowhere to be found. Finally, we located him, up inside the sofa, where he was quite comfortable, thank you very much, and had no intention of coming out. Eventually, I persuaded him with the broom to head for his cage, but he ran in the corner instead. When I crawled up to him, he came to me and buried his head in my chest.

Now he is in his cage, inside his box, with only his ears sticking out, "hiding" from the world. And we will be buying a second lock for the cage.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Fred, a deer, a female deer

One afternoon earlier this month, Nita said to me, "Fred's in the backyard."

I looked out the window and so no one.

"Where?" I asked.

"Out there by the old garden." I looked again.

"All I see is a deer," I told her.

"Yes," she said. "That's Fred."

So we have seen Fred early in the morning and later in the evening, just about daily. She is a gorgeous doe, nearly red in color. Because she never went too far from the thicket which EG let grow back there, I suspected there was a fawn.

The other morning, EG brought my attention to the fawn, which was in the old garden, Fred nearby. The fawn had the long, awkward Bambi legs, the trademark white spots, and a huge white tail. We watched the two as the sun came up. Yesterday, the fawn was drinking out of a drainage ditch next to the garage, legs spread wide so he could reach the water, and this evening, Fred and the fawn were under the kitchen window, nibbling the young grass which we planted after the septic system was dug up.

Last night, Penny alerted on a particular part of the thicket, so I know where the baby is hidden, or at least suspect where. Next year, we will have a garden, which I will fence, as I don't ever want to discourage the deer from living here.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pants on fire

When Rocky was three, he was diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder. At the time, I knew that was the issue, but I hoped for a different outcome, a disorder which could quite nicely be treated with a pill once or twice a day.

No such luck.

We had to work through the inappropriate urination, aggression, fire setting, out of control behavior, lying, self-mutilation, stealing, you name it, if it was a symptom of attachment disorder, he pretty much had it. Add to that the constant battle for control.

One of the behaviors which I struggle with yet, or I guess I should say, HE struggles with yet, is the lying. We used to say, "Is his mouth moving? Then he's lying." Now though, he can be truthful for weeks on end, and then kabam, he will lie. The big problem is it is a knee jerk reaction, deception from the gut, not the brain, and once it is out, he will hold fiercely to the lie, no matter how idiotic it is.

Then, of course, we go back to the old techniques, old ways of parenting, and eventually he will be truthful again. I suppose I ought to journal this, as it may give me a clue as to whether we are making progress, gradually extending the times between lying episodes.

But what if there isn't progress? Would I really want to know?

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Today I am thinking about the word "weary."

When I tried to type the word, the first time I typed "eary." The second time, I typed "wary."

According to Merriam-Webster online, weary means:

1 : exhausted in strength, endurance, vigor, or freshness 2 : expressing or characteristic of weariness 3 : having one's patience, tolerance, or pleasure exhausted —used with of

I'd like doors number one and three, please.

Every morning, Rocky plays around in his room unless we go in and announce, "Get up, get dressed, and get out here. Now." Then he shows up at his leisure for breakfast,which generally is over, as we eat that meal between eight and nine. It isn't like he can't hear the dishes and conversation of the girls as they go about feeding themselves. The first few times, he pulled the pitiful act, telling me, "I didn't know I could eat breakfast during certain times." Phooey. Unless you see golden arches over this house, kid, you can't show up and place an order.

Then he puts the same clothes on as the previous day unless we have reminded him the night before to put his dirty clothes in the specified place for washing. When he chooses a new outfit, he most likely will need to be sent back to change something, as he will put on the first thing he grabs. This week, on a humid July morning, he showed up in a hoodie and his sister's track shorts which were in his drawer by mistake.

Another thing which is difficult is my mother's situation. The blessing about dementia is that she doesn't know how bad she is. The sad part is that she doesn't know who she is or where she is or at what point in time she's existing in her mind. Plus, with the poor care she is receiving, I do little more than show up and fix things. I pull into the nursing home parking lot, look at the building, and think, "I do not want to go in there." If I am supposed to be learning a lesson here, I have no idea what it could be.

Then there's my job. I love my job, but I don't understand the dynamics of the people who work there, nor do I care to. In my opinion, administration needs to tell these people to grow up and use the energy to get their jobs done. Plus, I hate being managed by memo. If I do something wrong, tell me in person during work hours, don't send me an email at five on a Friday evening, when I have no way of clarifying what exactly was incorrect or inappropriate.

So, I am weary. I ask my kids if they want cheese to go with their whine, and I guess I need to ask myself the same thing. Yes, please. A big chunk of Havarti on thick Italian bread, grilled to oozing perfection. I think that may be just what the doctor ordered. That, or a trip to the beach with a blender, a long extension cord, and some supplies.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


I have been thinking seriously about moving my mom from the nursing home she is in, even going so far as to run a reconnaissance mission with Kiki on Tuesday.

We went to a nearby nursing home, signed in as our first names only, and under "resident visited," scribbled "facility" in a barely readable manner. Then we walked through the entire place, peeking in rooms and eavesdropping on the staff interactions with the residents. I was pretty impressed with what I saw and ended up calling my sister, who encouraged me to fill out the paperwork.

While I was there, I ran into one of the aides who used to care for my mom, and he said, "I don't blame you for moving her here. That other place doesn't treat the staff right at all."

And there you have it. The administration thinks they are being "strict" to keep quality of care, I am sure. However, what they are doing is driving away the good staff who can get jobs someplace else which is more pleasant, and rotating new staff through at such a rate that no one can become familiar with and come to care about the residents. And this is my mother.

Some people at the "old place" know I am looking to move Mom, but they haven't said a word to me about it. My office partner said, "They want you gone because you're a pain in the ass." My response to that is, for $200 a day, I expect care in the truest sense of the word. If the facility cannot or will not provide that for my family member, you bet I'm going to be a pain in the ass.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Does anyone care out there?

Today, going through some papers, I found a penpal letter written to Nita in school. This boy wrote in very neat cursive, using full sentences, and accurate spelling.

Nita's writing, on the other hand, looks like a flock of birds hopped onto an inkpad and then onto the paper. She is a free spirit about grammar, punctuation, and spelling, and I never realized how far behind she is until I saw this other letter.

Ohio's governing bodies are working on the budget, and as part of that, they are thinking about cutting the post adoption special subsidy money which is used for therapy for families who have adopted. I wrote an email to the governor this morning, asking him to fight for this funding. Not only will it help kids with exposures, like Nita, but it will help those with attachment issues. This funding is like an investment in lower crime, lower births to mothers who do not have the capability to parent, and more contributing members to society.

I asked Rocky, who is healing from reactive attachment disorder, to comment. He said, "Tell the governor these kids deserve a chance."

I can't say more.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Independence Day

Yesterday, we had a small town Fourth of July. We went to a neighboring community to see the parade, as my brother-in-law enters his 1932 Buick in parades and car contests, and we were invited to watch and, of course, vote. Plus, my niece was riding on the 4-H float, and my nephew's friend had entered his tractor. The kids ended up invited to ride in the Buick in the parade, along with brother-in-law's mother-in-law, who donned the tiara we gave her as a joke and waved enthusiastically to the crowd in a wave-wave-elbow-elbow pattern. The rest of the parade consisted six VFW members in a sixties era Chevy Impala, which was, of course, Fourth of July red, several tractors, one of which kept stalling and needed to be chain towed and started again in gear by the tractor ahead of it, a judge throwing candy from a convertible, the antique and classic cars, a county commissioner playing march music from speakers on top of the car, two cub scout troops, the historical society float of salt making by the pioneers, two horses, a pony, three clowns, and a man on his highly waxed lawn mower.

Then there were games for the kids, who all won a hot dog and popsicle at the concession stand for their prowess in the sack races and water balloon tossing. Nita didn't win in the sack race, as she reached the home stretch and face planted just before the finish line, most likely because she was wearing her ghastly pink crocs inside the pillow case. However, she had a water balloon toss partner who threatened her with the balloon right before the game commenced, causing her to be less distracted and cocky, which made for a winning combination.

Last night we had a party.

The last party we had was two years ago, when EG invited a friend whose wife I somehow must have insulted during the evening, as she completely ignored me and refused all contact after that, to the point where her husband severed all contact with EG after a few months.

So, needless to say, I wasn't in a hurry to hostess again. However, last night we celebrated our neighbor's last fireworks extravaganza by having a few people over. I asked my sister and niece, as I figured the first holiday after a loss is so hard. I also asked my brother-in-law and his partner and the no longer tiara wearing mother-in-law, a friend from work, and my friend from high school, who was in town for the weekend. It was a nice mix. The fireworks were late, when it was completely dark, and there was lots of laughter and lots of talking.

It was good for us, too. We have experienced so much sadness in the past few years that we find ourselves turning more and more inward. We need to invite the world in more and shut it out less.

Friday, July 3, 2009


I've been on vacation since June 21, my own school responsibilities ending on June 18, and except for the funeral, I have had a series of unplanned days. I do all the things I normally do, but without the focus that I have when I am working and in school. I always liken it to having a scuba diving mask on, seeing out the front, but being aware that there is more out there, the world kind of echo-y and distorted because of that focus.

I have attended to my list of five minute jobs which never seem to get done.

I have cleaned behind, under, and between things.

I have spent time with my children and my sister, listening.

I read an entire book, one which was fiction, for no reason other than I wanted to do so.

I have slept deeply and for eight hours most nights, with little wakefulness.

When I was awakened, it was by the coyotes yipping outside my window. Even the dogs and kids seem to be buying into my relaxed state.

July crept in on us, up from behind, surprising us that so much of the summer was already over. After this week, I have three more days, and then I go back to both worlds. I always wondered if women who stayed at home felt like their lives were slipping by day by day, with little to show for it except how they affected the lives of their families. And I wondered if it was worth it. However, I now see that there is something to being there so others can live their lives better. Maybe it isn't all about me.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Today's post is chutney--sweet, sour, and not enough for a full meal.

I was reading on another blog about adopted children, lying, and trust. According to one theory, adopted children are so afraid that we will reject them that they lie to keep from having what they say rejected. If only I had a catalog of behaviors which pushed me away when I went into this.

Where did Wile E. Coyote get the money to pay for the Acme shipments?

The other night I was awakened by a large cat, most likely a bobcat, calling. I contacted the county parks, and it turns out that seven or eight years ago, a bobcat's existence was verified about five miles from here. The cats stay inside, the dogs are all large enough that a bobcat will most likely intrigue them and not hurt them (unless they go into dumb Lab mode, then they deserve it), and the kids stay in the mowed part of the yard after dark. The naturalist suggested we get a footprint, and so far I have discovered many Lab tracks and no large cats.

Our young doe is not afraid of us--she passed within ten feet of Rocky the other day. This is both thrilling and frightening to me, as not everyone would be as non-threatening to her.

I have signed up for a contest where I will spend no more than $25 per person per week on groceries for a month. Good thing these kids like beans. I can do this--serve healthy foods and do it frugally.

The economy here is bad, but people don't cut back on music lessons in this area, and my job is pretty secure, as we retrain workers who have been displaced. I am frugal, buying on sale, going to thrift shops and garage sales, particupating in freecycle, using things up. We have gone to a less expensive brand of dog food, but other than that, there isn't much difference in what we do. Kiki used to complain, as her friends' moms would take the kids to the mall to shop. We go to walk when the weather is too cold or rainy to do so outside or to shop the huge end of season sales. This week, though, after finding out that three of her friends' fathers were laid off and things had changed drastically, Kiki said, "I don't see any difference in how WE live." I explained that we didn't have the unlimited texting, cable television, and designer clothes to start with, so we won't miss them.

I think she got it.

On a similar note, we went to see the Grand Canyon movie at the IMAX theater. The Colorado River is drying up, and the end of the movie consisted of hints on how to conserve water. The kids sat there, impressed with themselves that they did all but one of those things already. That's what a sixty year old septic system will do for you.

Today my sister and I go to yet another plan of care meeting for my mother. Yesterday, I went to see my mother, and she recognized me. That is a bittersweet feeling, as she may be at any point in my adulthood, and yesterday she asked where my dad was. I told her, "It's Tuesday, Mom." Oh, he must be at work. He should be home soon.

When I left, I said, "I am going to the grocery store. Will you be okay here for a while?" Oh, sure, she said.

Every time I leave, I treat it like it will be the last time I leave her.