The Day Began as Many Others

The day began as many others. I awoke, dressed, made my coffee, and tried a yogurt for breakfast instead of my usual cereal or toast. Nothing unusual there. In fact little that has happened since then has been what you might call ‘unusual’, unless you lump the point that I did not take my morning walk, nor did I stop for a coffee at my usual haunt.

In fact I’m not sure what prompted the title “The Day Began….” other than it sounded like the lead in sentence you might see in a trashy novel. I’m not writing that novel though and while some may think of my posts as trashy I’m kinda fond of them. Most of them anyway.

Today is my birthday, and although that could fall into the ‘unusual’ category it’s only because birthdays in themselves are not ‘usual’. By definition usual means:

– occurring or encountered or experienced or observed frequently or in accordance with regular practice or procedure

Thus birthdays are not necessarily ‘usual’, at least in my mind, because they don’t occur frequently. That being said after 57 of them maybe they’ve occurred too frequently.

One thing did happen that was not in the norm. I got a phone call at 6:30 am telling me my Dad was in a great deal of pain and had to be taken to the hospital. This after I just checked him out of the hospital on Thursday where he was due to a similar incident. Not the call I really wanted.

After that I also g0t a call from my daughter, wishing me well and putting me on speaker so I could hear my grandson speak. He’s not saying actual words yet, or not many of them, but he can chat up a storm. And the emphasis he put’s into it is priceless. Things that warm cockles of the heart….

So while the day began as many others it is winding down to be somewhat different. We are getting set to go camping and my wife is taking me out to dinner. Now THAT is unusual. She doesn’t prefer to go out and this is a sign that she’s doing something for me. Aren’t birthday’s grand?

7 Reasons My Underwear Feels Too Tight

blogging, blog, journal, writing

Ever have one of those days where you seem to be just a little out of phase with the rest of humanity, where the best laid plans seem to go astray?  A day where after breakfast you put the milk in the cupboard and the cereal in the fridge. I’m experiencing that today. It’s seems as if everything I touch, anything I do, falls just short of being ‘right’.

morning pages, journal, journaling, writing
Morning pages

Today is a Dad’s day, a day where I take him out and we go to the doctor, optometrist, or in this case to the lab for blood work, and then we go out for lunch. I had planned to leave home a little early so that before I picked him up I could go to Walmart or one of the many electronics type stores to look for a phone case for my new iPhone 5 (and that’s a whole ‘nuther story).

Prior to leaving I was doing my morning pages, you know, that’s ‘writing’ in a book with paper pages and using a pen or pencil. These days I’m not sure how many people still do that…, but I was and before I completed one of my sentences part way through the exercise I became distracted. Well, not distracted at that time really, I put the journal down to check on something I was writing about and that’s when I got distracted. My wife had a question about her ‘new’ iPhone 4s (my hand-me down). There I went, off task, and so far today I’ve not made it back to the journal.

Well that put me behind schedule, not only did I not get to finish the sentence or entry in my journal I never made it away in time to go look at iPhone covers before picking Dad up.

So off on my way I went. I picked up Dad on time (amazingly) and we went to the lab. Fortunately the handicapped parking right in front of the lab was available so we slipped right in, and interestingly enough the lab wasn’t too busy so we waited no more than 5 – 10 minutes to get called. Seems like my day wasn’t a right-off after all, so far things were going well. Lunch was next .

Now that I’m recounting the days events it’s seems like maybe things weren’t so bad after all, lunch went well and Dad paid so life is good and things were looking up. We had a nice visit, he was feeling pretty good and I got him back to his home without further ado. It didn’t stay that way however, or didn’t feel like it anyway.

After dropping Dad off I hit the stores to look for my case, and if I learned anything during that exercise it’s that nothing is cheap, particularly quality iPhone cases. To get the case I wanted, an Otter Commuter, was going to cost between $44 – $50 bucks depending on the store. That’s in addition to any screen protector I bought. My stress was in a holding pattern. A quick look at Amazon (on my phone of course) made me realize that online is where I’ll get them, way cheaper.

As I think about that experience it dawns on me perhaps one of the reasons I feel so stressed and out of sorts is that I am so worried about dropping my phone, and have been ever since I picked it up. Perhaps that is the underlying cause, the reason for my ‘out of sorts’. Whatever the cause….. I feel how I feel and it continued through the day, that ‘skin don’t fit’ kinda feeling.

After arriving back at my home I had to turn around and go back out to run a couple more errands, one of which was to pick up quilt batting for my wife at the local fabric store. I’m afraid I scared the lady in the store, I feel like I went in there with a chip on my shoulder and although I don’t think it’s true I felt like I was surly and abrupt. Damn underwear starting to crawl again.

Next stop was an auto parts store to try and replace one of my malfunctioning wiper blades, that I paid $40 bucks for no less. I went in through the door and must’ve looked like I was ready for bear as the attendant approached my apprehensively and quickly passed me off the reps at the service counter. I suspect he wanted nothing to do with me, if he could see how I felt he was probably wise to defer me. The counterman listened somewhat sympathetically to my plight. I explained the driver’s side wiper leaves a streak in front of my eyes and when I just paid $40 bucks for 1 blade I had hoped it would last longer than 3 months. He murmured back “Well, I guess I could replace it”. Well, thank you very much. Perhaps he could see I was itching for a fight too.

So that sounds like another win doesn’t it? Hang on, not so soon.

Unfortunately when I went outside to swap the bad blade for the good I must’ve touched the fender of the car with my jacket. As I pulled back after installing the blade I noticed a nice brown smudge of dirt/mud on my nice clean black jacket. Argggh, %$”*”&#*, use your imagination to translate. Now I’m fussed and I’m dirty, and if you know me you know I don’t like to get dirty. Especially on tight underwear day.

All I can do is wipe the mud off my jacket and try to wipe my mood clean at the same time. I was relatively successful, nothing damaged and nobody hurt in the process, and proceeded to the next stop. Fill up with gas.

Things went relatively smoothly after that, although getting out of the car prior to filling I noticed yet another blotch of mud, this time on my pant leg. Will it never end I thought (how about wash the car dummy). I exited the car and holding it together somehow inserted my credit card into the gas pump. Perhaps I was too fast, perhaps too forceful, the pump would not accept my card. Another ARGGGH.

Take a deep breath, try again, success this time. The gassing up exercise completed with few casualties, only my spirit.

Two Slurpees in a car cupholder.
Two Slurpees in a car cupholder. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Home I went. But wait, I had to get my wife a Slurpee (Slushy). I don’t understand her penchant for ice cold ice based drinks on a cold winter day but hey, who am I to argue with the light of my life. She wants a Slurpee, a Slurpee she shall have.

Knowing that this stop would be part of my day I came prepared, I had her refillable Slurpee cup at hand. The Slurpee machine operated flawlessly and I proceeded to check out. It was when I went to pay that I was met with a surprise.

Now it’s not like I’ve never used the plastic refillable cup before but when I paid and found the tab higher than expected I gasped.

“Are you sure”, I asked? “How can it be that a Slurpy with a re-usable cup can be more expensive than if I’d used one of the disposable cups?”

“Well”, she said. You never told me it was YOU’RE cup”.

I guess she had me there. And mentioning to her that I ‘assumed’ she knew it was my cup did NOT help the situation. She only replied “when you assume you make an ass out of you and an ass out of me.” She sighed heavily, refunded my money and then charged me a more appropriate, smaller, amount. Personally I think her underwear didn’t fit either, or maybe it’s the moon.

With my chores pretty much completed I forged home, stewing all the while about how I was out of phase, how my skin didn’t fit, how my knickers were too tight, and in my mind plotting what I would write here. It’s a good thing an animal didn’t bolt or a car pull out in front of me, my attention was not all there. I was too busy thinking of what I’d say here.

I did arrive at my home safely though, I don’t think I maimed anyone in transit, at least as far as I know.

After backing into my driveway I did notice a couple beer cans laying on the snowbank in front of my hedge (not mine, I have enough decency to toss mine in the neighbours yard). Here I go again, I feel that familiar tugging sensation near my private parts.

Knowing it’d be futile to pick up the beer cans and carry all my acquisitions (quilt batting, Slurpy) and Dads’ medical history file (that I try to take every time I see him), along with my camera bag and sweater etc., I choose the smart avenue. Pick up the cans, drop them in the recycle, and make not 1 but 2 trips back and forth to the car for the rest of the stuff. That way I can be sure not to f*** up and either drop half the stuff or wipe my clothes OR the new quilt batting on the side of the muddy car. Mission accomplished, all goods arrived in the house unscathed.

Once inside I dropped everything (not literally) and quickly logged on to my WordPress account to quickly disgorge my thoughts into a post, to try and enlighten you to my day and what made it ‘special’. I hope I didn’t bore you too badly and you arrived, like I did at the end of my afternoon, with underclothes that fit. I know the constricting feelings were all just fleeting experiences, tomorrow will be another day and hopefully one where I am in alignment with the universe. Until that time, if your underwear doesn’t fit go without.

Cheers

Today’s Shaping Up to Be a Busy Day

Yesterday ended up to be busy, the sun was out and if the warmth and optimism from it’s rays had anything to say they were telling me to get outside. There are leaves to rake/blow and tis the season to hang lights.

I did need to take Dad in for blood work as well. That’s likely best done in the morning while he’s at his best, then he’ll have the rest of the day to replenish his energy and warm back up.

He’s been in a bit of a bad place physically lately. His arthritis has been hounding him relentlessly, it’s been so bad there have been days where he won’t get dressed. He doesn’t go down for his meals either and the girls have been nice enough to bring him a tray.

They treat him very well there as best I can tell, and he laps up the attention. They also seem to find him very charming, which is not uncommon, and I often wonder if they truly find him so or are just humouring him.

So I finished my morning walk and took advantage of the beautiful sunny morning. The clouds had receded from the gloom they laid over things the prior weeks. It was certainly appreciated, the lack of sun can throw me into a funk and I’ve been feeling so good lately.

I try to do this every weekday, drive my wife to work, drop the car and walk home. It’s about 6.5k (4 mi) and it seemed to be the only way I could consistently get my exercise. If I left my walk for later in the day it would often not happen.

After arriving home I called dad to ensure he felt able to go out. We didn’t really have much choice as we were overdue for his blood tests by a week or so and the dosage of his meds are based on the results. That went pretty much uneventfully, other than a lengthy wait, and he should be good now for another month.

After I got back home it was time for the next leg of my day, making soup. We had picked up a rotisserie chicken the other day after our most recent trip to Kelowna. After we’ve fully stripped the bird for dinner meat I’ve been boiling the bones and making chicken and wild rice soup, one of the traditions I’ve been creating. That is if you can call ‘twice’ a tradition.

The soup has gotten rave reviews, both from my wife and her co-workers at school who have sampled her lunch. I wish I could take total credit but I only followed the recipe. Must’ve been that little touch of love I put into it. That or the healthy and intriguing aroma that wafts off of it when it’s ready to eat. My mouth waters thing about it.

So a busy day it was. But a good day, one where I felt somewhat overwhelmed, and filled and fulfilled in the end.
Nothing like a full tummy to take the cares of the world away.

Dad says: “I’m a Little Short of Money”

I just got a call from Dad.  I was out (am out) for my walk so he left me a voicemail.

“I’m a little short of money”, he said.

Of course there was more but this is the jist of it.  Now I don’t know what that means, does he have no money in his wallet, or did he go to the bank and think there was no money there?  Shouldn’t be the latter because I just went online (from my phone, cuz I can) and checked his balance. Inquiring minds need to know.  I’m confused.  I’ll call him shortly to get the lowdown.

I still feel frustration when I talk to him. That alone pisses me off, that I get frustrated, never mind whatever he calls about.  And it’s not like he’s always calling, but typically when he does there’s some issue that needs resolving.  Often it isn’t even an issue but more like a situation where he has something confused.

Look at me, who’s the whiner in this story?  I should be grateful he’s still around. I AM grateful.  We never know what we’ve got until after its gone, that’s a for sure.  He ALWAYS tells me he appreciates me, and whatever small things I can do for him ARE small in the big picture.  Next time I whine slap me upside the head, k?

Tic Tac Toe
Tic Tac Toe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I’m sitting here in the coffee shop, smelling the fresh brew and warm pastries, I love to watch the people.  I think I could study them all day, trying to figure out their stories. Right now there’s a man and small child across from me playing tic-tac-toe.

I think he must be the grandpa, the boy his grandson.  He’s appears to be about my age (old) but you never know these days, it could be a second relationship for him.  What you can tell is that he’s thoroughly enjoying the toddler, and trying to teach him the game.  They chatter back and forth and occasionally I hear a giggle from the boy, or a guffaw from the elder.  There’s pride in the grandpa’s eyes.

These scenes warm my heart.  I think of the future with my grandson, perhaps I’ll teach him tic-tac-toe as well.  Maybe we’ll go for coffee when he gets older.  I hope so.

These situations makes me feel somewhat in limbo land.  I think of my Dad and his needs.  I think of his care, and what his future may hold.  I think of my connection with him, our past.

I also think of my kids, I ponder what could have been with my son Shawn had he not died.  What would we have done together?  How would we have bonded? This makes me sad.

And I think of my grandson, and what our future might look like.  How many things we can do together.  This makes me optimistic and happy.

So it’s about life isn’t it, the past, present, and future.  They are all so important.  How do I connect them?

Dad’s Feeling Bad

I haven’t talked about Dad much lately, I guess there hasn’t been much to report. He is hanging in there and for an 82 year old is maybe doing not too bad.

I guess it’s somewhat relative though isn’t it. I saw a gentleman on the news the other day that had just competed a marathon, at the young age of 100. You can read about his amazing accomplishment here.

Compared to that he’s probably not the most spry but at least he’s able to get around, if not with his cane then with his walker. He couldn’t go far without either.

20121009-121521.jpgRight now I’m at emerg with him. He has a persistent cough and the soonest we can get in to see his Doctor is next week. That’s too long where he’s concerned, a lot can happen in a week, and its been a week or so already now.

Otherwise he’s plugging along. People often like his chipperness and say he’s a card. He seems to be well liked and has no enemies that I’m aware. For all intents he’s had a life well lived. I could certainly do worse.

Dad, Dad, Dad

Photo 2011-12-12 5 38 53 PM

We met with Dad yesterday, my wife and I.  I had my girl call his girl and we did lunch.

First we had to see his doctor.  That was the result of a call I got from Colleen the other day. She is one of the care aides at his “village”.  She relayed to me that Dad is having more pain at night now and I guess he’s buzzing the aides at night trying to get another Tylenol.

He still doesn’t quite seem to understand the fact that there are no pills to get.  At this stage, living in an Assisted Living facility, any medications he has been prescribed can only be given to him if they have been put into blister packs by the pharmacy. There are no meds of any kind that can be taken, or given, on an as needed or as requested basis.  This is to prevent residents from self administering, or perhaps preventing other residents from “helping someone out” by providing meds.  Any and all medications are also kept under lock and key, accessible only by the aides.

Both the doctors visit and lunch went well, although he is still easily confused during professional visits.  He has challenges hearing even with his hearing aids and unless the questions are put slowly and with some volume he has trouble understanding.  I find I often interject and sometimes I think it’d be better if I just kept my mouth shut.  It’s good for him to converse with others and it’s equally important that the professionals talk to him.  Often I find they will pose their questions to me, but that further alienates Dad from the conversation.

We were fortunate in this instance as the doctor speaks easily to Dad and he seems to like her.  She prescribed an additional Tylenol 3 for his nightly meds and hopefully that will keep him pain free through the night.

Lunch was our typical event, conversations circled around family members and what they are up to.  I questioned him as to which of his sisters he has chatted with and whether my sister has called.

Sometimes he’ll come up with some nugget of info that we have no clue as to it’s significance.  As an example a few weeks ago he asked me to guess who he saw in the mall.  When I couldn’t come up with the answer he told me it was Larry and Ida.  Well blow me over.  Both have passed away, Ida some 25 years ago and Larry 2 years ago.  When I mentioned this to him he said it must’ve been his son then.  It’s hard to tell what’s the early dementia and what is just an honest mistake.

Photo 2011-12-12 5 38 53 PMHe seems to enjoy lunch with me though and will often want to pay.  I allow him to most times and while it could be seen as taking advantage of him I believe it makes him feel good.  He sees it as repaying me for my efforts in making his appointments and catering to his various needs.  He has little in the way of outings and has no means to do something for someone else either.  Here he can take his “boy” out.

“How pleasant it is for a father to sit at his child’s board. It is like an aged man reclining under the shadow of an oak which he has planted.” -Sir Walter Scott

I have to remind myself he won’t be here forever either.  This time with him will end, sooner rather than later.  Even though I lament his frequent idiosyncrasies it is often part of our aging process.  Whether I like it or not I may be in that situation at some point myself.  At that point it may be my daughter taking care of me, and she will be saying “Dad, Dad, Dad”.  Lord help me.

Coffee, With a Capital C

20120810-091635.jpg

20120810-091635.jpgWhen I saw the results of this photo’s manipulation I thought Coffee, but not really coffee as the drink, although that what it is, but the stimulating results of Coffee.  Perhaps it’s the result of too much coffee, the edginess you might get, the effect you might see where Colors are Heightened and your Perceptions only appear Sharper.  That kind of Coffee.  The too much Caffeine capital C Coffee.

I don’t necessarily see or feel that this morning.  My morning brew today is conjured up using decaf grounds so I wouldn’t experience such things.  I have found the capital C Coffee to be counterproductive.  It does NOT help my mood.  Necessary at times but not today.

I struggle still this morning with the doldrums of past days.  I question whether to even write or journal about it as it sounds like so much whining.  I consider posting to another blog of mine, one that is private and not for public consumption.  I consider not writing at all.  None of these options bears fruit at this time.

I come back to my original intent of this venue.  It was to communicate how I was feeling, what progress if any I have been making along my journey.  It might mean something to someone, or help them along their way.  Isn’t that what we all want, to help someone else?

I must admit in some cases that journey may have been obscured by fancy writing or stories of humor and light heartedness.  There have been stories of Dad or perhaps family tribulations with other members.  All along though it should reflect where I am on my path, on a road where the way is marked by colors and light or one where the ruts along the way are bouncing me from side to side.  One where my full attention is spent solely maneuvering my way through the myriad of obstacles, trying to stay on the road.

So I don’t know where the road will end.  This particular section of the trip seems to be more challenging but as always I will survive, and along the way try to learn something.  Maybe you can learn something too.

The Pause that Refreshes

Photo 2012-07-26 5 55 15 PM

We are beginning the second leg of our trips now.  We finished one tour of camping duty and have gone back out to battle the roads again.  Yesterday and the day before give us a chance to get caught up on laundry, pick up a few supplies, and take care of one or two personal appointments.  At least one of the appointments was for Dad, taking him for things like blood work etc..  The outcome of that was mentioned in “I Saw an Old Man Walking”.

We drove as far as the Colville Walmart last night, arriving around 8:30 pm or so.  Made for a long day but with some luck we’ll make up for it at the tail end of our trip.  I really do not like the drive-camp-drive scenario, much too tiring for me.  As long as we can get a few days of downtime after these first couple days we should be ok.

Spokane was the destination of choice today.  We only drove as far as Deer Park this morning where we came across an inexpensive municipal camping spot so we decided to bunk there.  $10 bucks a night is within my budget.  That’s good too because I blew the budget a bit while shopping at Costco.

Photo 2012-07-26 5 55 15 PMI’ve been a tad frustrated trying to navigate while using maps and reading road signs so an investment in a GPS was considered.  I didn’t have to consider too long though, actually it was a foregone conclusion.  I picked up a Garmin nuvi 2595LMT.  I hope it’s a good unit.  Too late now anyway but it’s always nice to know you made a good choice.

My posts are likely to be a bit disjointed from here on out, at least for the next week or so.  Nothing new you might think, but because we’re on the road it has been a bit more challenging to put up a good post.  Somehow the preparation on my iPhone just doesn’t do justice to the appearance of a blog.  I can get the content in alright but making it look at least a little interesting is more challenging.

I’ve been using an app called Penzu to write them and then copy/paste in the WordPress app when I get cell service.  I don’t think I can insert pictures as easily though and they seem to lose all formatting when I do the paste.  I have just used the WordPress app to prepare the post but I’ve also lost them that way too.  No chances are taken when I do it this way.

Anyway, I’m off for now.  Time to move on.

I Saw an Old Man Walking

I saw an old man walking today, poking along the roadside, meandering along his path with the appearance of looking for lost items, perhaps bottles and the such. He was dressed for the excursion with sturdy boots, a small pack, and the ever trusting walking stick. He reminded me of Larry.

Larry, my step-father, passed away a year ago March. I think of him often.

Larry would also often be seen strolling slowly down the streets near our home, his home too as he lived with us. He would stop frequently to chat with neighbors, children, or whoever had the time or inclination to visit with him. He was that kind of guy. he loved all, and was loved by all.

I think about him during times when I meet my Dad. They are/were about the same age and they had the distinct luxury of being married to my Mom. That is about where the similarity ends.

20120726-004343.jpgLarry was full of life, even if he had to search it out from the depths of his being. Toward the end it was a struggle for him, he was forgetful and struggled for words. Continuity of thought often eluded him, and he was terrified he was losing his mind, so worried he would get Alzheimer’s the way his first wife did.

He lived with her disease and raised their children while their mother declined. Finally she became too much of a danger to her family, and herself, and had to be hospitalized.

Despite that past, or perhaps because of it, he wanted to live and experience life. Especially he wanted to experience family. There was nothing more gratifying for him than to have all his children come together, nothing that meant more.

My Dad however sees no challenge in life. He is satisfied to sit, nap, watch tv, and take the occasional lunch break with me. He has no desire to build connections with his family or form attachments with his fellow residents of the “Village”. He has little knowledge of current affairs nor an interest in discussing them. Granted he is suffering early symptoms of dementia and has experienced a number of small strokes but these personality traits are not new. More exaggerated now perhaps but not new. Sometimes I’m so afraid because I’m more like him than Larry.

It would stand to reason of course, I am his blood, Larry was “only” my step father. I am sometimes saddened to say I felt more kinship to Larry as a father figure than my biological Dad. I feel somehow bad saying that. That too saddens me.

20120726-004106.jpgI went in to have lunch with Dad today. During our stroll from the car to the restaurant he said,

“You know who I saw in the mall the other day?”.

I answered,

“Who, Desmond?”,

Des was a co-worker of my Dads.

“No”

he said,

“I saw Larry and Ida”

I was dumbstruck……..Larry was my step father, now deceased, Ida was his first wife who died of Alzheimer’s about 25 years ago. Where on earth was Dad getting this? I didn’t really know what to say so we had some brief discussion about it and moved on. It troubled me.

So I saw an old man walking today. I miss Larry.

The Morning with Dad

Photo 2011-12-12 5 38 53 PM

Photo 2011-12-12 5 38 53 PMThis morning has been spent with Dads care.  The primary reason was for a trip to the eye specialist for a follow-up check on the condition of his eyes.  This is since he has had his cataracts done, and the subsequent laser surgery to remove the opacity from the sacs that hold his new lens.  The check up was a slow process or at least seems so to me. I think it was an equally tedious event for him. Continue reading The Morning with Dad