Wednesday, 31 March 2010

How I wrecked my daughter's refrigerator and other stories from the trenches.

I am living at the elder daughter's house this week, looking after Little Stuff while the ED and spouse are at a conference.  This should be quite an easy task as Little Stuff is now almost seven and can look after a lot of things herself.  Grama's tasks include putting together a huge lunch including three snacks and a main noon meal, finding something a starving kid wants to eat for supper, delivering her to school, picking her up from daycare, listening to and helping with homework, and keeping the menagerie fed.

It is this last task that was the undoing of the refrigerator.  This house resembles a small zoo.  There are lizards, snakes, fish, a tortoise the size of a punch bowl, a quite demented cat (of whom more later) and Charlotte Ann, the guinea pig. She lives in Little Stuff's bedroom in a well appointed cage and gets fresh veggies twice a day to supplement her kibble (or whatever - dried guinea pig ration, I guess).  On the first evening, Little Stuff opened the frig to get out some greens and ripped the front panel off the crisper.  Oops.

Well, Grama decided that fixing this ought to involve disassembling the three drawer pile and cleaning it all up, then putting the front panel back on and reassembling.  All went well for the first two steps as I carefully took out all the food, took the parts out and set them in order and cleaned.  The last step was a big disaster.  I could not get the pile reassembled in a way that allowed the door to shut.  I tried over and over.  Meanwhile the food in and out of the frig was getting warmer and warmer and so was I.  I needed help.

Now the ED is without doubt the most organized person I have ever known, even more so than my mother whom she resembles a lot, and so I knew that the manual for the refrigerator would be stowed somewhere logical.  I am not logical, I guess, because I could not find the dern thing.  I found labelled and dated photo albums, art supplies, correspondence supplies, camera manuals, a neatly stowed drawer of scissors and other necessary bits and pieces, an alphabetized disc collection, with notes and dates, a stash of cards and other games, financial correspondence, all neatly stowed and handy.  No frig manual.

Food still getting warmer.

Finally, in desperation, I stacked all the bins back into the frig, with the food in them, piled one on top of the other.  And the door shut.  Daughter and spouse return home tonight and will, alas, be greeted by an almost unusable refrigerator.  I have stacked the beer and diet pop in the front where they can get it easily.  Logic tells me this mess will seem less annoying after a nice cold brew.

As for the cat, she decided last night to abandon Little Stuff and sleep with me, having fallen in love with my dressing gown as a cat bed.  At approximately 1:00 am she jumped up onto my bed with a resounding thump.  Startled out of a sound sleep I flailed out with both arms and sent the poor kitty flying off the bed and onto the floor.  And then she disappeared.  I was afraid I had hurt her and so I got up and searched for her to see if she was intact.  Cat was no where to be found.  This morning she reappeared, her usual sinuous self, and when she saw me she arched her back and hissed.  I am persona non grata in cat land.

And here I thought I was going to have a fine, easy time.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

A Milestone

We are looking after almost seven year old Little Stuff this weekend.  After lunch, when Granpa announced that he needed a nap, Little Stuff said cheerfully "I will get my library book and read it."  And she did!
It's all downstream from here.  Or I thought it was until she brought out the Uno game.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Something Left to Lose.

One of the best friends I have ever had is dying. These words seem to colour everything I do, everything I think, make me numb, swirl a cold, opaque fog around everything I usually enjoy. She is dying and there is nothing - nothing - that I can do. Nothing that will change the fact. Nothing that will make things easier for her. Nothing.

Her doctor has said that three months will be a long time for her to live. She has already gone a long way away from us. Some days she will not talk to anyone, sometimes she cannot hold a cup, keep her balance, focus her eyes. Other times she becomes something like her old, feisty self. She checked herself out of her palliative care room at the hospital last week and went back to her seniors' residence. She is 'doing better', her brother says, the last little while. I think she is angry and the anger is carrying her - she does not want to be a helpless lump in a hospital bed any longer than she has to be. She does not want her daughters' anxious hovering, trying to do for her what little she can still do for herself. She doesn't want anyone's sympathy or pity. She's still the fighter she has always been, even when so much else is lost.

Her daughters are trying so hard to help. I remember my mother's last illness and how hard I fought, coaxing a little food into her, planning to make her hair look better, blinding myself to how fast she was fading. One night my husband said to me 'She's dying, Mary. You have to face it.' How stunning a blow those words were as I did have to realise that I was failing. I couldn't keep her. Now I watch my friend's daughters, her brother, her mother (so fragile herself) trying to come to terms with the same hard truth. I see her daughters fighting, as I fought, to bring her back, just a little, to comb her hair, get her attention, support her. I remember the bewilderment. The stubborn denial. The pain.

The words of 'Bobby McGee' keep running through my head. 'Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose.' I've learned that when the person you love has gone, when you have nothing left to lose, the pain is different and finally it too fades to a dry, sealed scar. You are free of concern, of obligation; you also lose the connection although not the love. But it isn't the same love. It's a bowl of pot pourri, not the scented, living rose. I already know that survivors feel guilt, anger, regret. For many years I fought to remember my living vital mother, not the pitiful little ghost she became before she was finally gone.

I love it that my friend is fighting. She may drive her family nuts, she may do things that hurt all of us, but it is so like her. I want to shake her and tell her to let up on her daughters, her brother. At the same time, I want to cheer. She's still herself, aggravating though that self may be.

My friend has always been there for me for more than forty-five years now. Looking after my kids, going with me on escapades, always ready for lunch full of delicious gossip and highly sugared dessert. A provider of advice, of sympathy, of camaraderie, of fun. Vivid, colourful, opinionated, a blazing bonfire at which to warm my hands.

I'm already cold. But I will fight to remember her outrageous hats, her warmth, her real self, to hold her in my heart. And I will try to be there when she needs me until the end.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

 Here they come again, or soon will.  The lakes and ponds hereabouts are still partially or wholly frozen but a few more days of this false spring will produce open water and then there will be geese.  And arctic swans.  And redwing blackbirds.  Already the chickadees have switched from 'chick-a-dee-dee-dee' to 'hey sweetie' and the turkey toms are displaying in the trees at the back of the lawn.
The lawn, alas, is slush.  The laneway and the roadway are both quakes of miserable mud. The cluster flies have come out of hibernation and are bombing the windows - I have put the screens back on.
But, who cares. Any day now my daffodil garden will appear out of the slush and spring will have, officially, arrived.
Eh, sweetie?

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

C is for CopyCat

Slouchy came up with a fascinating meme over at her place.  She says "I stole this meme from the lovely Schmutzie. It's an interesting little personality test, I think. Type just one letter (a, then b, then c, etc.) into your computer's internet address field. What is then suggested to you is the site (starting with that letter) that you've viewed most often."
I didn't read the instructions carefully enough, and typed the alphabet into my Google search box.  Equally interesting results.  I use Mozilla Firefox, so when I retried using Slouchy's parameters, I came up with the site that has the letter 'a' in it most often.  But the Google search window showed me some very strange sites; I finally figured out that my daughter, son-in-law and the grandson of friends had all been using the search engine. Anyway, here are the search box results, also an interesting personality test.

A = audrey hepburn movie lists
B = brian hughes toronto star
C = canadian bronze figure skating medal 
D = disaster in haiti
E = effect of hst in ontario
F = farenheit to celcius
G = golden lads and girls all must
H = how to get hst rebates ontario
I = ice grips for shoes uk
J = jewish calendar
K = kate mcgarrigle
L = little black dresses
M = moguls olympics
N = natural disaster in haiti
O = oregon coastal highway
P = pirate bay
Q = quotes
R = rumer godden books
S = saaq
T = tom brokaw canada
U = urban dictionary
V = voles in ontario
W = washington state tourism info
X = xs cargo
Y = youtube
Z = zero punctuation

Come up with your own explanations of who went where and why.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Our Editable Anthem.

I've got a post up over at Canada Moms Blog to-day.  Here. So, what do you think?