Saturday, November 26, 2016


I'm not a fan of Thanksgiving. I dream of being able to spend the November holiday anonymously, perhaps traveling to a place where they don't celebrate gluttony and violence (football) and unfettered capitalism (Black Friday). While I do have some happy Thanksgiving memories, in recent years the day is just something I want over with as quickly and undramatically as possible.

This year we -- my mother, daughter, and I -- were not invited to anybody else's "celebration," and so I cooked a more or less traditional dinner. My daughter and I like the leftovers more than the meal itself, it seems. My mom enthusiastically helped herself to the homemade cranberry jam, "that red stuff" as she keeps calling it, even piling scoops of it on her salad and pecan pie. Whatever.  

Since it was just the 3 of us, our table conversation was easily enough steered away from anything political -- my condolences to anybody who had to endure otherwise. We talked about the dog show that was broadcast earlier in the day (why do dachshunds never win Best in Show?), the wildfire smoke that made the day seem glooomy, and Thanksgivings past. Although my mother and I shared my first 25 or so Thanksgivings at HER mother's house, my mom's brain betrayed those memories, and instead she complained about having to cook Thanksgiving back when she was married to my Dad and lived wherever that place was called. I tried to make some references to specific traditions and dishes that were part of all of our actual Thanksgiving get-togethers, but Mom didn't really seem to make the connection, to remember that she was there, too. 

Instead of worrying about my mom inventing memories, though, I kept to myself how hilarious the idea of her making a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for my Norwegian dad was. Sticky sweet potatoes, turkey, cranberries, pumpkin pie -- all of those foods were indeed foreign to him, and we never had anything like that in our house unless it was leftovers schlepped home from Gram's. 

As I was saying, the reason I made Thanksgiving dinner was so that we could have leftovers. And I guess leftovers are like memories. You can recreate the same meal you originally enjoyed, true, but you can also create something entirely new, like my Mom did with her memories of Thanksgiving past. It's not worth getting upset over, it just IS. 

I wonder what she'll be putting cranberry jam on today.....

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Raise Your Hand...

...if you won't be able to get through the next 4 years without therapy.

My issue is that I just ... can't ... handle ... the Donald's ... voice. It provokes such nausea and disgust in me, seriously, that I don't know how I will make it through the coming months. 

Luckily, my new job is housed in the same building as Counseling for Faculty and Staff, so I can relatively easily get the help I need. I suppose part of the problem, though, is that I don't want to accept hearing his voice as a normal part of my existence. 

How are you all coping?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Not Great

Tempting though it is to stay in bed with my head under the covers all day....all week....I don't have that luxury. What I can do is surround myself with good people. 

And start campaigning for Elizabeth Warren in 2020.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Falling Back, Looking Ahead

Photo Source: Deb Campbell Photography
Fall kind of snuck up on us this year. The weather, even for this region, remained stubbornly summer-like well into October. But now, finally, the trees have begun shedding their leaves in earnest, and there is frost on the neighborhood lawns this morning. I'll have to remember to grab a jacket when I head out for work tomorrow morning, to my still-new job that this fortune cookie foretold. 

The new job is a welcome development. I'm still at the same university, but in a department that seems vastly more grounded in the day to day business of helping students achieve their goals, and am free of the drama and dysfunction and denial that made going to my former job such a chore. I am working a lot harder, but also getting paid a lot more, so all in all life is good between the hours of 8am and 5pm. 

But Fall isn't the only thing that snuck up on us. When I wrote my last post about my mother's increasingly unreliable memory, I wasn't prepared for how rapidly and severely her memory loss would progress. In fact, the neurologist said, let's stop referring to this as a memory problem and recognize it as Alzheimer's. To which Mom, always ready to deflect what she doesn't want to hear, said "No, I won't have that." She saw my step-father virtually disappear from that disease, so I can only imagine how terrifying it must be for her, if she allows herself to think about it. I'm not sure she does think about it, though....

It seems strange to say that this disease snuck up on us, since I have been living under the same roof as Mom for the past 12 years. But, being the stubbornly independent women that we both are, we have been doing a good job of living our lives as we damn well please for the most part. Mom had given up driving 2 years ago when her chronic pain condition made her afraid to drive, but other than when she was recovering from a broken wrist and then from pneumonia last year, she gave the impression that she had everything under control and let us know that she was just too lazy to be bothered with certain things. 

Now, though, as I try to organize the physical clutter that has accumulated around my Mom so that she can better negotiate her mental clutter, I am seeing signs that she has been trying to compensate for lots of things for a long time. It felt somehow disloyal to attribute some of her odd behaviors over the past couple of years to anything other than the eccentricities one might be entitled to as they age. And when the elder in question already has a lifelong tendency toward the unconventional and non-conformist, it's even harder to tell when they're just being themself or when something isn't firing properly in their cranium.

So, I admit that it is pretty damn scary to look ahead. However, I am embarking on this new "journey" with open eyes and an open heart. I remind my mother that I understand that what is going on with her mind is something she can't help, and I remind her again. I'm touched that she trusts me to do what is in her best interest, even as we try to work out what exactly that is. 

Fall is finally here, yes, but it won't last forever. I am not going to take a single one of these bright, clear, sunny days for granted. Metaphorically, or meteorologically.   

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Sunset in Black and White

A sunset without colors is just a marker, a way of indicating the passage of time. This day is done; better rest up for tomorrow. Lately it does seem that the days are just boxes to be checked off, one at a time. There are lots and lots of boxes filling my days.

There are the little boxes in Mom's pill minder that need to be monitored, and re-filled weekly. But some days those boxes cannot provide enough structure, and a pill is missed or a double dose nearly ingested. Thankfully it is not a life-or-death kind of pill.

There are the boxes created on the notepad where Mom also writes down what pills she takes and when. The day of the week and date is followed by her shorthand for the type of medication -- BP, Pain, Horizant -- and some times the days seem to mix together, and the lines on the notepad are unable to contain the confusion. No, today is still Saturday.  Tomorrow is the 8th. And so on. Adding a new medication creates chaos. Did I take that pill? I forgot to take my pill. Am I supposed to take a pill? What is this pill for? All these questions in the course of an hour's time.

So I need one box for my impatience, another for my snark, and a separate, waterproof container for all the tears I cannot cry. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Monday Meh, Less Bullets More Love edition

Wakagi-Chan, "Rainbow Tears"   
I don't have sufficient words for the despair and anger and sadness I feel after this weekend's massacre in Orlando. But I am working to find the words to tell public officeholders how their failure to act on reigning in our country's ridiculous gun laws holds them complicit in the deaths of these latest victims, and others. 

Enough. Enough is already too much.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Tuesday Takeout

Aha! Finally there seems to be some hope on the career front, at least if my dessert has anything to say about it.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Sunday Suspension

Activity on this page will be suspended until at least mid-March while I tend to matters near and far. My mother has a smorgasbord of medical issues going on, and as her short-term memory gets worse and worse, I need to call up more and more patience in my dealings with her. I'm not complaining about the caretaking role, though -- only about the amount of energy it requires. But who knows how much longer she will be with us -- it could be 20 years or 20 days -- so I will do the best for her I can. Whether she likes it or not! Seriously, she wants to assign a dollar value to all the tasks I do for her, and while I've tried letting her know that way of thinking upsets me, I don't know what good it's done. Perhaps part of the issue comes from her not living nearby while her own mother was in declining health, leaving her without a frame of reference for the way families take care of each other, the way roles get reversed when the child becomes the parent's caretaker. 

Anyway, I do have a break of sorts in sight. Work requires that I travel to southern California in 2 weeks,  and while I was hesitant to spend more time away than absolutely necessary, my sister convinced me to go ahead with plans to visit my cousin in Santa Monica while I'm out there. "This might be the last vacation you get to take for a while," she said. Well, I didn't want to think that, so thanks, sis! 

And yes, work is still a 4-letter word in my book. Not only is my immediate work environment increasingly dysfunctional and unpleasant, the University and the state are not supportive of activities such as ours that have a noble mission but do not rake in piles of tuition dollars. Already a number of "retirement" announcements are filling my inbox as changes are happening across campus. I've got to put in another 5 years before that is even a semi-feasible option for me, though. (They haven't completely slashed benefits to the bone, so at age 61 with 15 years service, I could collect partial retirement while looking for a new gig. But five years is too long to be miserable, though!).  I've been trying to change roles at the University, and with more people getting disgusted and retiring early, I just might have success one of these days. It's really starting to look like it's time to cast my resumes in a wider circle, though.

But not too wide, because I have to stay put to care for my mom.....

Monday, February 15, 2016

Monday meh

Big cynic that I am, I still like a good love story, and I was utterly delighted when an old acquaintance recently found the love of his life and shared the story of their romance via Facebook. Just looking at photos of Renny and Bernadette, all smiles, was enough to counteract whatever snipping and sniping might be going on in other corners of my newsfeed, and their happiness was obvious, contagioius even. 

But yestetday brought the saddest news imaginable. Renny's generous, loving heart gave out on him. And the hearts of the many friends and aquaintances whose lives he touched are hurting now. I spent Valentines Day with the reminder to never take a day with a loved one for granted. 

Rest in peace, sweet friend....

Friday, February 12, 2016

Funky Friday, Raise Your Hand edition

Raise your hand if I should revive the Funky Friday postings.

There's a whole lotta movin' and groovin' going on here, so join on in and keep your booty from freezing!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Wienerdog Wednesday, Walentine Edition

Here are some saucy sausages celebrating their love. Or maybe they're just being dogs. 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Monday Meh...

This is all the meh I can muster today. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Wienerdog Wednesday, Superbowl Edition

Scooter Pie missed the casting call on this one. At any rate, she'd be more suited to a mattress commercial.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Monday Meh, you can say that again edition

This. It's exactly how I feel in the winter, and not just on Mondays. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Wienerdog Wednesday

Just a nice little watercolor wienerdog, with its nose in the air like it just don't care. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Monday Meh, Post-Jonas edition

 It's c-c-c-c-c-cold out there, but the sun came out during the day yesterday and made for perfect icicle-growing conditions. They are beautiful, though -- at least until they decide to try and escape their place on the eaves and go crashing to the ground. 

Here in the mountains of Upper East Tennessee, we got about a foot of snow between Wednesday morning and Sunday morning. And snow is a normal part of winter here, yet businesses don't bother to shovel and plow -- although you can be sure all the church parking lots were cleared yesterday. I surely didn't appreciate having to wade through ankle-deep slush when I had to pick up my presription! My feel finally thawed out by bedtime, though. 

At any rate, I had my winter experience fot this year, thank you.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Wienerdog Wednesday, with bonus Weimeraner

Hope you have a friend to snuggle with on these cold winter nights. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Monday Meh, Cold Enough For Ya? Edition

Heating Season - Jacek Yerka 
Wow - according to my Weather Channel app, the wind chill is -4F this morning. Fortunately I do not have to go outside to verify that. 

Keep warm whever you are, my friends!

(Visit for more fantastical images )

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Wienerdog Wednesday, Sew What edition.

Artist Sarah Walton uses her sewing machine to create fun "sketches" like this one, and she admits to being "slightly obsessed" with dogs. I'm glad she counts dachshunds among her favorites.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Monday Meh, Nothing I Can Do Edition

Sad news this morning. RIP David Bowie. 

It's 11 degrees outside, and I just want to stay inside and drink tea and listen to his music all day. Meh.

(See this wonderful tribute here.)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Wienerdog Wednesday, Scoo' Revue

Scooter Pie looks back on 2015:

Monday, January 4, 2016

Monday Meh, Winter Classic Edition

New Year's was a sad day for the Boston Bruins after their loss to the Montreal Canadiens in this season's Winter Classic. That's a hockey game, in case you don't know. I'm not judging. I'm only judging myself here, because as an avowed pacifist and someone who's criticized the excesses of professional sports, my guilty little (former) secret is that I like ice hockey. And I'm not entirely sure why.

Of course, hockey is superior to American football in many ways. It's more athletic. Hockey players play a long season - 82 games in regular NHL season play, compared with 16 for the NFL season. Hockey's fast pace is more appealing, too. It's the fights, though, that leave me most uneasy with my affection for the game and the players.

It's hard to defend some fights as justified while others are dirty, but that's pretty much how it goes. Defenders of the fisticuffs that break out during games will say that fighting is a means by which hockey players police each other, by letting things get a little out of control, safety and sanity is maintained:

There are certain players, certain rivalries that can be counted upon to provoke this sort of "accountability," and I can pretty much overook the occasional donnybrook because I get pulled in by the excitement of cheering on "my" team, through good times and bad. It's a distraction, a diversion, and, for me, at least, a harmless foray into fandom. For the most part, though, witnessing a fight on the ice makes me uncomfortable. 

But not as uncomfortable as losing to the Canadiens on home ice . . . . Grrrrrr!