Coffee Chat: Isn't It Lovely To Have Fun?
My day yesterday didn't at all go as planned...For that matter, I struggled long and hard to remember what day it was! In my head it was Wednesday all day long and if you think you can't possibly lose track of time in such a way believe me you can when your husband's day of work changes each week. Every day he goes off to work feels like Monday and every day he's home after working it feels like Saturday, which is strange when you consider we've never had a proper routine weekend in years upon years. It's not date that bumfuzzles me, it's the actual day. Sometimes we sit here and flip channels and demand to know why some show or another isn't on...and then we realize that it's not the day for it after all, that we've gone through a whole day thinking it was another day entirely.
Well right now I am sure of what day it is, but only because I got sick of being confused and looked at a calendar. Which means the weatherman was perfectly right in calling yesterday Tuesday and not Wednesday as I thought it ought to be.
Aside from my desire to get my head straight on the day yesterday, it was really just different all around. I could not hold my head up this morning after eating breakfast. I literally fell asleep three or four times and so I finally took myself off to bed where I slept the deepest and hardest three and half hours I've ever slept lately and I had to force myself to wake and crawl from bed. Now I did lose a bit of sleep Monday night, was awake well before John arose at 4:15am and never went back to sleep after and then my blasted alarm went off a full 15 minutes early as well, so I was up at 4:45.
That was my first rising. I saw John off to work, made myself a bite of breakfast, took my meds, and sat down to work on Swag goal for the morning and off I dozed. I woke and struggled and slept again and woke and struggled and slept again and I said "Enough." So back to bed. Where I slept until 10:30. Then I was behind times. I had many things to do but felt like doing none of them. Honestly? Many of them were only half accomplished for all that I had good intentions. I could list off three jobs just now that I really ought to get up and attend to.
Going back to bed and sleeping so hard when I did threw off my day's schedule and my body/mind as well. I got up and did my Bible study, worked on the bill box, and then it was lunchtime. I grabbed the first thing I found in the freezer because I was not prepared ahead for eating on my own and had no leftovers. My bad. It was not a good choice but I tried to make it better by eating salad and a piece of fruit. Nope. My blood sugar five hours later was quite high and I was clueless about what to do for supper with it so high before I'd eaten. In the end, I ate light, took my meds and hoped for the best. I checked my numbers again before bedtime and they were acceptable, but nowhere near what I'd come to expect over the past three weeks.
It's especially frustrating when I know that I made a bad choice. I've had extremely good numbers of late and walked a lot at the fair and have worked hard nearly every day , but here's proof that one bad choice will make you pay the price, regardless of how well you think you've done in the past.
Yes, we did go to the fair. It was cooler and breezy and the sun played peek a boo but really it was perfect fair day weather on Monday. John and I discovered accidentally that the day we'd chosen was patriot's day which meant military, current, retired and former, could get in for free. As we stood in line waiting for approval of his DD214 (we don't have any other form of military ID) the was a couple behind us who came with their four children, also a military family. It was a nice bonus for all of us to get in without paying entry fees. For John and I that would have been our biggest expense, but for the family behind us, it would be an investment to pay entry fees for all and then have to buy armbands for rides too. I remember those days when we had four kids and had to buy armbands. We saved all year for the fair day expenses back then.
Fun things: There is always a man on stilts, usually dressed as Uncle Sam. This year the man on stilts was dressed as a tree. He reminded me of the trees on Wizard of Oz. He was having fun with a little boy who wanted to have his picture made with him. The tree man kept stepping over him, so that the little boy kept ending up behind the tree man. It was really amusing to watch and I enjoyed that moment.
There was one little boy who came up to me to offer me his fan. Now I'd just commented to John how much I liked the fans being passed out to children who'd visited the cattle barn. The fans were sheep or cow faces. Just cute little paper fans which I love anyway. I think I have a dozen paper fans from church or fair or trolley rides here at home. Anyway, this little boy walked up and said "You can have it." I was taken aback. I didn't want to take that child's fan but I could see he plainly thought I ought to take it and then I saw his gramma encouraging him. Well...I nearly didn't take it but when he said a second time "You can have it..." John quietly said "Terri, don't rob..." I knew what he was saying to me even though he didn't finish his sentence. "Don't rob him of his blessing." So I took the fan and thanked the little boy very much. What a sweet thing to do. I turned to his gramma and said "Please make it up to him..." and she smiled at me. I will say that fan was nice to have just because it did get a little warm, but twice as nice because it was so sweetly given to me.
Finally there was a sweet little girl walking along in jeans and shirt with a cowboy hat on her head. She was so cute that John and I both commented at once upon her. Well her Daddy thought she was cute too, cute enough to take a picture of. So he turned around and pointed his phone camera at her and little Miss Cowgirl had a fit! I mean she started yelling "No! Don't you do it!" John and I thought it quite funny especially as all of our grands and great nieces LIKE having their pictures taken. I'd just been telling John about Bella having her picture made Saturday. She'd say 'Cheese' and clench her teeth in a hard smile that strained her neck muscles. She's just two but she knows full well that she is supposed to smile for the camera. Apparently attempting to snap a picture of the little Miss Cowgirl was an ongoing thing as her parents laughed out loud and I heard her mom say "Well...good try anyway," to daddy.
John and I are too predictable really. We don't ride things. We walk about in the atmosphere of the fair, past food vendors and vendors and displays of hot tubs, tractors, campers, sheds, etc. We like the aromas and the sounds and people watching. We visit the model home (usually they have two but this year there was just one) and we look about and dream a minute or two then leave with an idea or three of things we could do to improve our own home.
John likes to stop and listen to any musicians. There was a husband and wife bluegrass band playing in front of the clock tower and he stopped to listen. I went to sit on the benches against the tower walls and watched a group of little girls who were obviously part of a school group. There was a little girl of about 1 1/2 perhaps who was watching those older girls and was thrilled to pieces when they said "Hi". You could just see that made her day.
It was all good fun and good air and sunshine. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It wasn't until we were ready for bed that my ankles began to hurt. I really ought to have taken something for pain. I'd have slept then and not gone back to bed yesterday morning and made all the errors in thinking I made. Oh well.
My sole treat from the fair was a bag of boiled peanuts. It's a seasonal food that I really enjoy and I knew it was okay to indulge in at most 1/4 cup of shelled nuts, where other things would not have been okay. Not that I was tempted. I don't like funnel cakes nor candy apples. Katie spoiled me on caramel apples the year she bought two of them and there were flies stuck in the caramel on both. Yuck. I don't buy high priced sodas and I'm not a fan of turkey legs. There are only a few things I would like to have. A single bite of cotton candy. Perhaps a nice cold glass of fresh lemonade or a spoonful of peach cobbler. A bite sized bit of fudge. My weakness is corn dogs and now that we eat only all beef or all chicken hot dogs, those are seldom a treat for us since most use the mixed meat hot dogs. And then there is cost to consider. The truth is that the high prices of foods at the fair makes it very easy NOT to indulge and I am okay with that.
It's unusual if we don't run into some one that we know. I met up with a couple and her mother whom I am familiar with. We all attended church together here in town for a while, before John was a church going man and I swapped to another church to go with him. The man of the couple was my children's math teacher at high school and I think he taught Katie as well as Amie and Samuel. The mother is apparently not well. She worked hard for many years on her own, and always was active and busy after she retired. Now she is in a wheelchair and I suspect it's to do with old age as much as bad knees. I think, but am not certain, that she may have Alzheimer's, too. She has that vague sweet sort of look upon her face that is common to Alzheimer patients. I was at an estate sale not too long ago and this couple and the mother was selling the mother's home things and getting the house ready to put on market.
It isn't the older woman but her daughter however, whom I want to speak of at the moment. She's a lovely woman, always has been, but the look of weariness and suffering in her eyes haunts me each time I've run into her.
I'm pretty sure what is weighing on this woman is the weight of full time care for her mother. It's something she wants to do and they've made an apartment for her in their home. The mother and daughter have always gotten along well and so there isn't that angst to deal with. I think the husband has retired and is a huge help too, but watching over your parent is a tough thing, no matter how loving the relationship between you. It's a full time task to see to another's needs and attend to your own life as well. I know this from my short tenure in giving just part time care to my dad at the end of his life and from taking care of Mama when she broke her ankle and even when she had her hip operated on and went to a rehabilitative nursing home for a bit. It's just hard and demands a great deal more of you emotionally than you'd think. I had a lot of issues to work out with my dad as I cared for him. Mama and I have often had a stormy relationship but it has been at it's worst when I cared for her.
I saw the emotional burden of being a caregiver as Granny cared for her own mother day in and day out and the angst amongst her siblings who felt because Granny was a widow she ought to give up her home and farm and life and take over full time care for as long as Big Mama needed care.
There was a loving relationship between children and parent in that case, but no one seemed to want to help. And that's what I saw in the nursing home. Others were unwilling to lend a hand (and I'm taking no pot shots at those who genuinely do have obligations that hinder them from helping) but felt free to criticize the care that was given. Forget even thinking occasionally to stop by and allow rare and much needed moments of freedom.
One day a little old woman showed up in my office one day. She'd come on her own, with her mentally impaired 50 year old son. She herself was in her 90's. She'd had a neighbor bring her in and asked about placement for herself and her son. She told me that she'd reached an age where she needed to provide after care for her son and she felt sure that if he were settled he'd handle the transition of her own death much better if his surroundings were familiar to him. She told me the daughter who was caring for her had cancer and was taxed to the end of her strength caring for them both. As it happened we had openings at the time and arrangements were made. She came back the next day with her daughter who looked purely ashamed that it had come to this moment but her mother and I talked to her and assured her that all would be well. In the end, the look of relief replaced the look of shame. Papers were signed and the mother made arrangements to have herself and her son admitted in that week.
And then I got the most horrible phone call from the woman's sister who lived in another state. She was scathing in her opinion of her sister, who was the sole caregiver. She threatened to sue me personally, the facility, her sister. She told me she'd called Family Services and lodged a complaint against her sister. The woman was horrid to me and I could only imagine how she'd treated her sister. I rarely let others upset me but that woman just ticked me off good and hard. I listened to her go on and on and when she said "And what do you think about that, Missy?" I turned loose on her. "I think, if you had sincere caring for your mother you'd understand what a burden this has been upon her and your sister. Your mother's first concern is that your brother not be upset by her death which is coming at some point in the future. And your sister is receiving treatment for cancer. She was not happy that your mother chose this route, but she understood that it gave your mother a measure of peace of mind. If anything happened to your sister, your brother and mother would be cared for. I think if you genuinely cared you'd show up and help out instead of figuring out how you can make all their lives more miserable!" Well that didn't go over well, at all. In the end, the vicious sister had her way. The mother and son stayed with the ailing daughter...who died shortly thereafter. And guess what? Mama and brother went to another nursing home and Mama died almost immediately, and brother was ill adjusted and lost then because the remaining daughter couldn't stop her life long enough to care for him. It made me ill then and it makes me ill now.
Now mind you, I don't know the details of the woman's life which started this bit of talk. I know she has siblings and I am pretty certain they are all on good terms and close enough that they are sensitive to what the primary caregiver is doing. I was just reminiscing about how difficult it is to be solely responsible, to have the mental and emotional strain as well as the physical and no support to keep those things strong or going. It's hard.
I am biased about nursing homes. I was fortunate to work in a good home. What I saw first hand was that the patients were well cared for, well fed and we all worked to see that they adjusted. It is not 'home' no matter how you look at it. There are rules and schedules that have nothing to do with personal preferences. There is not enough help for every single patient to have round the clock one on one care, but they are monitored all throughout the day. Those able to ask for help soon learn to ask when help is needed and those who are able to be independent are encouraged to maintain independence as long as they can.
Falls happen. They happen at home, as well. Occasionally a skin tear occurs but that's the nature of skin as it ages, it becomes about as thick as tissue paper and no matter how gentle you are, skin tears will happen. I never saw out and out abuse. Only twice in my six years did anyone mention the word 'abuse' and both times employees were let go immediately. Believe me it wasn't vicious abuse but it was a lack of thought in how they reacted. One aide slapped a patient's hand as she tried to pull out her GI tube and the other was let go based on patient statement about care. I happened to know the patient well, as she was one of 'mine', and her word was reliable. It was understood that it wasn't acceptable in that facility and they were let go. It wasn't tolerated by anyone, not by patients nor by staff members. If an employee was disrespectful they were called out on it immediately.
If there aren't enough nurses and nurses aides to go around, there were housekeepers and laundry staff and dietary staff, maintenance workers and office workers who generally took up the slack. Not in giving care as much as in forming relationships with patients. As social worker it was my job to see that all was well with a patient but sometimes, I was made aware of problems by housekeeping or dietary staff who'd formed a bond with a patient and brought a problem to my attention.
In the course of my job, I was sent to other facilities owned by our corporation and asked to access facility and patient care. There were nursing homes that were horrid little places and I mean that. There were facilities that were old and rooms were tiny but overall, the care was good in most places. For myself I liked best those places that were roomy and airy and had plenty of natural light, the same things I like in my home, you might notice. When visiting these homes that's what I looked for. I realize it's off putting to those who don't work there to see patients sitting in wheel chairs with drool on their chins. There generally are a few mentally incapacitated as well a those who require physical care. You might smell offensive things at times. There are some patients who are just independent enough to flat out refuse a shower or who choose to help themselves to the bathroom and fail to get there in time. I looked for signs of cleanliness. Were the floors and walls and switches clean? Were there housekeepers in evidence? And I looked to see how patients and staff interacted. In our facility there were patients who went home with nurses for holiday meals, or housekeepers and staff who showed up on their day off to insure there was a visitor on a patient's birthday. Staff often 'adopted' a patient and brought them holiday gifts or spent a portion of their salary on new clothing for a patient who had no family resources.
If there aren't enough nurses and nurses aides to go around (and this is a staffing issue), there were housekeepers and dietary staff and office workers who generally took up the slack. Not in giving care as much as in forming relationships with patients. As social worker it was my job to see that all was well with a patient but sometimes, I was made aware of problems by housekeeping or dietary staff who'd formed a bond with a patient and brought a gap area to my attention.
All that to say that, in my mind, a nursing home is not the worst thing that can happen to anyone who requires care. It just takes visiting to find the right facility. And to remember that no place is perfect. There will be failures and lapses at time. It's not neglect. I'd say that the care is equal to or even better than what can be given at home, mostly because it is professionals who have dealt with patients for years on end. A nursing home is meant to be a safe place where care can be given and peace of mind should be foremost for family and patient alike. Now I shall move on, having had my say on a subject that is near and dear to my heart...Perhaps not a fun subject but a genuine perspective at any rate.
I must have caught something yesterday at the fair. I tried listening to music on the TV this evening but only the Bluegrass sounded soothing, so I sat and listened to Blue Grass. I found I quite liked some songs and some were just not as good and some were really covers of more contemporary songs with a blue grass beat....It's nice to shake oneself up now and then and listen to something fresh and different. It helps break me out of my self-imposed ruts.
Despite myself today I got a few things done yesterday. A lot of it was just pushing myself to do something. It was by no means a day's worth of work but it looked as though I made a jab at things.
Still I got the bills paid and went to do the banking I needed to do and mailed off bills and packages. I did light housework. I tried to make myself work on some of the tasks on my list for this week but I didn't get far. I did work on the new storage cabinet a bit and as always I'm shocked at what a difference soap and water can make in something that doesn't look like much.
The cabinet is a compromise with John. He wanted storage on the back porch for a couple of items that he has to pull out of the shed frequently. The only power source outdoors is at the end of the porch. What he had in mind was a tall Rubbermaid type storage shed thing. I could see he was quite right to want storage but I wanted something with the potential of being cute. I showed him the cabinet sitting outside the flea market the other day and he agreed that it might do. I went back and bought it.
It's a steel cabinet and lightweight but sturdy. I don't think the counter top portion is original and frankly I'm worried at the way the particle board is flaking away like sawdust and if we have to we can replace that counter top part, perhaps with solid wood pieces. John will have the bottom part for storing his stuff and I will have the top part for a potting bench. We thought we'd put hooks on the sides to hang my rakes and hoes and such on, handy to grab and work in the yard.
I figure the inside of the cabinet can handle that same green I painted the rocker since I have loads of the paint left over. I'm definitely leaving the outside of the cabinet white, though. I don't think I could take the whole thing in green.
I got the front part of it and the surfaces and nooks all cleaned. I just need to wipe down the sides and really ought to clean the top of the thing but I need a step stool to do that. I'm under strict orders from John to use no step stools while he's away from home. I moved the stuff I could lift into the cabinet and will leave it to John to put the heavy stuff inside the cabinet. So yesterday was not without accomplishment albeit a very slow day overall.
If you're wondering why cleaning up a cruddy old cabinet is fun, I can tell you why. First of all is the fun of thrifting to buy what I need. I paid a great deal less for this cabinet than a rubber storage shed would cost and there's the added fun of planning how cute I can make this cabinet look. You all know I love to be creative with things and there's room for creativity here. And then it doesn't feel like work as much as play when I'm cleaning up an item to re-do even a little.
I think one of the most fun things I've done this year is to join up with Blogging for Books. It's fun to receive a book in the mail and know that it's free when you receive it. And because I can't just choose willy nilly from hundreds of books but must choose from those up for review, I've acquired some interesting reads over this year. My current book is not one I'd normally have picked though I would have been intrigued by it. No, if purchasing a book, I always ask, "Do I want a long acquaintance with this book, to read and re-read again and again?" If the answer is No the book goes right back on the shelf and I choose something 'safe' for long term keeping. With Blogging for Books, I choose books that are not safe, but which I think will be interesting to read and which I think will somehow teach me something.
My other fun thing? Playing about in the kitchen. I had some ripe bananas and I really don't need anymore bananas in the freezer. I was determined to get use from the bananas and pulled out a recipe for Pumpkin Banana bread that I've had for 30 or so years. It only requires half a can of pumpkin though. I recalled a recipe for enchiladas that used pumpkin, beans and chicken, so I dug up that recipe. And then I noted the Pumpkin Banana bread used only two ripe bananas and I had three. I dug about on my computer and found another saved recipe for muffins that used banana, peanut butter, whole wheat flour and honey. I figured since the oven was going to be on most all morning anyway, I might as well bake bread for Shabat evening and I decided to try another new to me recipe, this one for One Hour Bread. Now I tried to make a French bread per an internet recipe two weeks ago and frankly it was not good. It was heavy and ugly and John didn't touch it once except at Shabat when he pinched off a piece. He refused a slice afterwards which pretty much meant the bread wasn't good and therefore wasn't going to be eaten.
I am happy to say that all my recipes turned out deliciously today. The enchiladas were really good, even though I made half a recipe and still had leftovers. The bread was light and beautiful. The muffins smelled awesome and John declared them good. I'm not in the least worried about the pumpkin banana bread, it's a tried and true recipe. I know it's good!
We won't eat all this stuff this week. John has already cut one loaf of bread and I've put the other up for Shabat. I suppose I'll make more of this next week. I'll put the banana breads in the freezer and I've already put half the muffins in the freezer for another day. The rest of the enchiladas are in the refrigerator at present. All in all, I'm happy with my morning's baking and trying new recipes. I'll share the links on my weekly frugal post under Wednesday so you can try them as well.
And of course, I think it's fun to have company come for a coffee chat or a day of piecework. If all goes well, a friend is coming Sunday and we plan to spend it as we did last month and do handiwork and have dinner together. I'm planning to make Baked Chicken and Dumplings and a salad or our meal together. I have to cut out more yo yos and there are patches to remove from a quilt that I can't finish off as is, and another quilt that requires me to lay out patches in order to continue on with the sewing so there's plenty of handiwork for me today.
Now, I really should consider doing just a teeny bit more housework. But wasn't it fun to stop and have coffee?!