December 29, 2019

Christmas Day, 2019

We truly had some highlights this year in stockings / presents:
  • I received a pair of tiny folding lorgnettes
  • Our brother-in-law received a very special present. Three years ago at the lake, his catch included a very old Sperry topsider, which he threw in the trash when he got back to the marina. Oldest neph retrieved it and this year put it under the tree for his uncle.
  • Our sister-in-law had a special piece of jewelry repaired for my bro -- the ring that my dad and my mom's dad both wore. It's onyx and gold, with a center diamond. The diamond was used as a partial down payment on a car, back in the day, and grandaddy must have had the ring designed around it. I always liked the way that the sides resembled fenders.

Christmas Eve 2019

In the lead-up to this year's Christmas middlesis was getting stressed. It turns out that she hates all the fancy stuff (crystal, linen, etc.) that makes for more work. This is the stuff that I lovingly held onto because I thought that's what the family likes, and change is difficult for some. Sis said she wasn't coming out for Christmas if something didn't change. She's the only one that can make change, because she has the strongest opinions. So she consulted with the rest of us, and we agreed to change. It all worked out.

Some of the ideas seemed like more work, and I spoke up for once. I asserted that I wanted my own style of Christmas. Colorful, fun, sparkly. And when I told the mama, she riffed on a bunch of random stuff but stuck to the idea of it being fun and we should dress down, not up. She called it our "Christmas Special." Well, ok!

At one point I wanted it to be influenced by RuPaul, but suddenly that seemed too difficult. What did manifest was tables covered in crazy fabrics from the thrift stores of our fair city and Stockholm, accessorized with granny's epergnes and, pink and purple candles from a recent estate sale. Oldest neph made a decoupage unicorn, and there were granny's jade fruit and unicorn drops from CVS.

 

The biggest change was asking the nephs and their families to make dinner. They rocked it. Youngest neph had caught the limit on the opening of crab season, so he made crab and artichoke dip, and brought dinner rolls. Oldest neph made the salmon. His wife and our niece made cookies, and middle neph and his family made salad, stuffed potatoes and beans. They all had a good time coming together and all of us were more relaxed. It rocked in every way.

We've decided that next year's decorative theme will be unicorns. And the nephs will do dinner from now on.
 

December 28, 2019

Color

The other day I read two fascinating pieces about color.

The first, about the first aniline dye accidentally created by William Henry Perkin. His discovery, mauve dye, led to a fashion craze and the understanding that chemistry could turn into industry.

The second was something I found while looking for genealogical information by reading finding aids of the archives of Saxony. There I learned that there was something called Saxon Blue. Researching a bit, I found this amazing piece about the development of color in the 18th century in Europe. Saxon Blue, it seems, was a thing. And since I've been doing some research on art and artists of 18th century Saxony (especially Anton Graf and my 5th ggfather Ernst Gottlob), this will make for some fun reading.

December 14, 2019

Family Time

And in other news, I have a genetic conundrum.

Earlier in the year I looked at my genealogy website and found a person on my mom's line who is identified as a first cousin. I had never heard of this person. My two theories were that either my grandmother had a child as a teenager, put the child up for adoption and this is the child of that child or, my uncle had a child with someone. Both of these seem like possibilities. I guess that a third could be that my grandparents put a child up for adoption. I used to be able to rule this third option out, until I figured out that we don't seem to be related to the people identified in the family tree as my grandfather's relatives.

Gee.

I was contacted by a person a few months ago who is fairly certain that she is the daughter of the same uncle. Again, seems possible given what I know. The lady contacting me was one of those folks who took a DNA test and found out not only that her father was not her biological father but that she had two half brothers she'd never heard of (they are both adoptees). This also meant that the brother she grew up with only her half brother. A lot of news.

I started trying to help this lady figure it out, and corresponded with the researcher who is helping *her*. The only problem is that when I looked through my DNA matches, I seem to not be related to the people in my grandfather's family tree. Oops! I am related to my grandfather, as is my brother, but we don't seem to share genetic material with any of the people on that family's line. Further, my grandfather and his older sister might have been born 8 months apart. I think this is where the break in the family line occurs.

Basically, none of my genetic matches seem to have the very common surname I'm looking for. On my mom's other side there are tons of relatives that I recognize. And on my father's side there is at least one person who I expect to be a cousin who is also a genetic match. 

Ironically, this lady *is* genetically related to the people I thought I was related to, and I am not. She and I do not share DNA.
 
This got weird and interesting without my even realizing it.

Christmas Cactus and Stuff!

I must have a dozen Christmas cactuses at this point. Many are the same type, the classic one with the bright fuschia blooms. If those guys start pumping out the flowers I'll move them to the porch, but for now I'm starting my Christmas display by putting out the singular beauties that are different from the rest.
My absolute favorite is a coral colored beauty. She bloomed two years ago but not last year. I made it my year's goal to give the cactuses more attention so that that doesn't happen again, and I was rewarded. I can't get enough of this one.
 

It now has pride of place alongside a light pink one that my mom favors, paired with one of this year's most beautiful pointsettias, courtesy of Ace Hardware. I would LOVE it if I could get this thing to grow in my garden. Occasionally you see someone with a pointsettia hedge in their yard and it is quite spectacular. Fingers crossed, people.

 
Oh, and lobsters with Santa hats have infested my mugo pine.

 

Happy Holidays

Holiday -- a term used in painting. Holidays are places where the paint does not stick to the wall, or places where you have skipped, often noticed afterwards. In the case of this oil pastel stick, holidays are places where the paper shows through.

I love this word, which I just learned in an art mediums class.




December 1, 2019

Joy of Non-Repeat Experiences

A friend of a friend invited me to a psybient music performance last night. Not sounding familiar? Yeah. Me neither.

I pretty much know now that I would hate Burning Man. Aside from the grit and lack of clean bathrooms and heat stroke, I am just not that free. And I'm super judgmental, which is exactly what BM (and this event last night) is not. And here's my description.

There was bad art galore, some of it being live-painted. And not the good kind of live painting but the kind where you bring your already painted painting to the show and then make small, strategic dabs of paint on it in order to enhance its value and not eff it up so someone will still want to buy it. That stuff is being done in the main hall where the music is being performed. Some of this painting is "good" and some of it looks like the result of a "Pinot and Paint" party where you and your friends try to recreate a Roger Dean painting.

Act 1
Not bad. Crazy mashup of pulsing music and geometric black and white graphic visuals projected on the entire stage. Sword dancer performing.
Act 2
Australian artist in leather hat mines trippy (i.e. non-Western) music to a pounding beat. The visual artist paired with him has made computer artwork of Hindu deities that appear to break into components and turn inward, "swallowing" themselves. I found this pretty offensive. Some dancers.
Act 3
Man in fedora with pheasant feather accent creates pounding beats. Somehow, he finds an extra-low setting for the bass and it feels like my internal organs are being tossed about my abdominal cavity. I think this is my favorite of the three. Some of the dancers, wear leather pants with white graffiti and studs, and have small leather tops that show off their tattoos. The pants have no bottoms, and the bottoms in the holes have no muscle tone. So when they occasionally shake their butts, the cheeks just flap.

I knew I was officially done when a guy brought a gigantic vase on stage and put it on a stand. Then he made an arrangement of fern fronds in the vase, to the beat of the music. I paid real money to watch a guy dramatically recreate a fern using parts that had been a fern, on stage. That was both my favorite and least favorite thing.

Then aerial acrobats appeared, and dangled from the ceiling, and I was really hoping I could get my host to agree it was time to leave... and we did.

The venue holds 500 and it was at capacity as we left, around 1:30+ am. We didn't get to see the act we'd gone to see. I have to say that the event was well organized, felt safe, people were pretty well-behaved, it had clean bathrooms and other than some seriously sour aromas (cumin armpit and people smoking cigarettes that smelled like a burning combination of beedis, fish sauce and that smell when you floss your teeth), it was pleasant.
Now I get to repay the favor and pick the next adventure with this friend.

November 9, 2019

Hard Working Joe

In political news, "Hard Working Joe" of political work glove fame, has been using his campaign fund as a slush fund. And not in just a "I forgot to put the money back in that pot over there when I borrowed it" kind of way, but a "I falsified documents to cover it up" kind of way.

Oh Joe.

Graft. It's what's for dinner.


October 28, 2019

Firenadopocalypse

This weekend's planned activities included Oktoberfest, and then a food tour planned by bigsis. Oktoberfest was cancelled because a big fire was raging nearby.  And bigsis was stopped by a raging fire near the freeway.

Fire came within a few miles of our house, so I started listening to the county fire department scanner and folding laundry to pack in our go bags if we needed to evacuate. Lots of 50-year-olds with chest pains yesterday.

So that, in a nutshell, was our firenadopocalypse, and it was real. And it's not over, so that's something to look out for.

In the meantime, the sweet mama was a super poo this weekend. I bought her clothing online in the wrong sizes. She was disappointed and decided that the wrong sizes I sent mean that I don't love her. Do I think she's that size? WHY would I buy her something that doesn't fit?

I felt awful about that all weekend, even though it didn't make sense. The real thing driving her need to give me a hard time was that she wants to be with me every weekend and when she knows I am not working and I am not with her it hurts her feelings that we are not together. Doesn't really matter that I spent last weekend with her and spent all of Monday taking care of her car. My absence is painful to her.

So after my sulking and laundry folding and emergency bag stuffing yesterday I had some fun putting paint samples on my lady bathroom wall. Now that's a good time. 

Decisions are made!


October 22, 2019

Tongan Feast

This weekend I cared for the mama. We had such a good time. We watched about 4 episodes of Fixer Upper, 1.5 Madea movies (a weekend of firsts!) and went to a Tongan church festival.

Both of the mama's caregivers are from Tonga, and they attend a Methodist church with an all-Tongan community of parishioners. Once a year they have a big food and tithing event, and we were invited to attend. In fact the reason that I was caring for the mama last weekend was that the ladies were unavailable / cooking / preparing for / recovering from the event.

We started the day choosing outfits. Mom wanted to wear black pants, so I put some on her that my sis bought her at the thrift store. She looked exactly like the character Carl from the movie Up! We got her all dressed and then she looked teary and I asked her why she seemed sad. "It's ok, but I'm sorry she's gone," she said. It became clear that she thought our caregiver died! Once we got that cleared up it was a much nicer day.

We got in my first ever Lyft, and knew we were at the right destination when we saw gigantic tents. The music was deafening and fun. 99% of our day was in Tongan, and I had no idea what the customs or rules were. We sat at one of dozens of tables that had long, tall platforms on them. Each table was identically set with drinks, towers made of cans of corned beef, cakes, and roasted pigs. 20 or 30 of them, each one ridden by two cooked lobsters that were held onto them by means of skewers. As more guests arrived, each set of them had a cooler or two that contained identical portions of tasty treats, enough for every one of the many, many, many tables at the event. These little portions went underneath the pig platforms. Here are a few photos. The first was taken over my shoulder, with the minimum of pig in it. The second, is the hands of the lady sitting on the other side of the table, who I never saw, because there was a roasted pig at eye-level between us the whole time.

 
Above, you can see fried shrimp, fish marinated in coconut and lime, with tomato and cucumber. An interesting kind of lau lau that seemed like it was made with Underwood Deviled Ham, enormous white sweet potatoes and bottles of Snapple, which were both beverages and columns that held up the cans of corned beef.
 
Whenever the music was blaring, ladies danced. And then the music would stop mid-song.

Eventually the dignitaries arrived, the religious parts occurred, the choir (including one of our caregivers) sang, and the eating commenced. While we ate, there was also a call and response from men seated on the ground, involving a gigantic kava root and a more gigantic hog. Four strapping Tongan men struggled under the weight of the pig, which they brought in on a litter. This is the kava root.
 

Eventually, there was a lovely speech given by our main caregiver, whose family was in charge of the largesse we were treated to. She was a Queen, I tell you.

She arranged for the mama to have a gigantic gardenia lei, which was flown in from Hawaii. Here is the mama and our caregiver (in purple). I love this woman. She is so fun and kind and good with mom and all of us.

She was so thrilled that we went, and we had such a good time. It was a real treat to be able to participate in something that was so different from what I know.

They insisted that I take home a lobster. That will be a story as well, I imagine.

My New Car

So I have a new car. A 2000 Toyota Camry. When my dad bought it for my mom he said "This is the last car your mother will ever own", which was really insulting because he was dying and she was in top condition. True to form it is 20 years later and she and the car are still kicking.

[slight pause here, because as I write this mrguy is murdering either toast or the toaster. He's out of sight, so I can hear the trauma but not see it!]

Back to our story. Recently mom's landlord took back her parking space, on the excuse that she doesn't actually drive her car. Unfair, really, because she and her caregivers use the car on her behalf. But whatever.

Normally this situation would lead to a person getting rid of the car. Game over, right? But Mom is really into her car. Her father was a car dealer. And my sister who lives far away is also into Mom's car, and wants one to drive while she is out here caring for the mama. In order to make my people happy I need to own, insure and house the car.

For this reason I spent my day off dealing. Two hours enjoying the air conditioning while waiting my turn to register the car in my name. I met a nice man whose mother-in-law is 99 years old and looks 80. And a cancer survivor who was wearing some awesome pink clothing, and a lady who was smart enough to go shopping and then come back. They quoted me one hour wait. It was double that. Registration and insurance themselves only took half an hour tops:

Then I got a sandwich at Subway and scarfed it in the car, and then went to my happy place, the Asian market that I refer to as Ranch 98:


Then I took my groceries home and went straight back out to get the car detailed. I have never detailed a car, but I've been driving this one unhappily for a few weeks because it smells like fabric softener sheets and farts. Urp. I got the full detail with floor mat and seat shampoo and everything. Read a book for an hour and a half and ate Doritos.

The goal of this day was to get it all done and relax while doing it, no matter how long it took. The answer was about six hours, all told. And I did relax. I also made a kick ass papaya salad (more like a goi ga, with papaya) when I got home.
 

Did I mention that I also have to get the mama to the dermatologist (I estimate 5 visits) and get her Real ID, and start Christmas preparations?



But today is a day for resting, looking out at the water and working in the garden.

October 21, 2019

Thermos -- An Update

As soon as we got used to him, Thermos wandered away. But headed to work the other day I *did* see three male turkeys putting on an impressive display for a very bored looking lady turkey, so maybe Thermos has gone off to be with his people.

Or maybe my raccoon deterrent is working on Thermos as well as raccoons. It's a motion activated doohickey that flashes light and makes a clicking sound. It seems to be effective, because the raccoons avoid the plants on the porch now.

At the factory this week I rode a mechanical unicorn (5 seconds, yo!) and picked apples that can't be eaten by humans to feed to the elephants at the zoo. Kinda varied week!




September 29, 2019

Thermos

Have I mentioned that we have a turkey?

It's really just one, and he's not really ours, but he spends a lot of time in the island in the street, right across from our front door. And sleeps in our yard. And when we leave the house, he comes and poops on our front walk, as if to claim it for his own. Like three times a day sometimes.

We call him Thermos, which is one of my longtime favorite names from the Utah Baby Names site.

It gives me such pleasure to know that we are favored by a turkey, just one turkey. In the morning I get to say hello and he peeps at me from his spot in the island. It's probably fear, but I prefer to think of it as a howdy-do. I look forward to driving around him in the street and plucking his stray feathers out of the hedges and sweeping his poops into the garden beds. They're very light and fluffy. Mrguy likens them to grey Cheetos.

Yesterday I went to the grocery store and came to find Thermos bedded down in the garden. I parked the car and snuck up on him, but he ran away. I did manage to capture a bit of a photo. Here he is between the lemon tree and a cordelyne:




September 22, 2019

Lefse

I have owned a lefse griddle for many years and have never used it. Recently it had its maiden voyage.

It all started with a person posting to our factory message board asking where to buy lefse.

Not sure why, but I reached out and asked whether she wanted to join me in making some. A month later we did it. The idea was that we'd each prepare a recipe at home so we both had the experience of that, and then we'd get together at our place to cook the lefse. She found two recipes and chose one. I took the other. And on the day I was to make it I figured out that they'd omitted an ingredient. Argh. Then I misunderstood the next recipe I chose and thought it called for ten potatoes. Oops! Ten cups of potato. I weighed my mashed potatoes, discovered it was just over 5lbs, and selected the first recipe I could find on the Internet that called for five pounds of mashed potato.

I made huge messes while making my recipe, but it was fun.

Then you clean up, put your prepared mashed potato in the fridge over night and do more stuff to it the next day. Here is Phase 2, adding flour to the potato to make the dough.

Then you make little dough balls and put it back into the fridge and take them out when you're ready to roll the dough into rounds. When my colleague arrived with her recipe, she mixed hers up and we tried the two different recipes. Mine was more tender and easier to griddle. Hers was more fragile but more delicious.
Here is our first lefse:
And here is our final hoard of lefse.

It was so great. Both of us were covered in flour, and the kitchen cleanup was long and not fun. And when I relayed this news to my cousin in Norway she agreed! She also said an interesting thing, which is that our lefse was much thinner than Norwegian lefse. An observation I'd like to make about this is that "thinness" in lefse is a point of pride often mentioned in English language recipes. Perhaps it's a regional twist. Anyhoo, we had a great time, had much lefse, and mrguy enjoyed the results.

The next day I even made what I'm calling a lefsedilla:

It was, of course, delicious.

+++++++
LEFSE RECIPE
Based on this recipe
https://www.ndsu.edu/pubweb/~rcollins/scholarship/makinglefse.html

(Makes about 25 10-inch diameter lefse rounds.)

Ingredients:
Potatoes: 1/3 red potatoes, 2/3 Russet
Butter: half unsalted, half salted
Cream: heavy

5.2 lbs. potatoes, weighed after ricing.
1 tsp. salt.
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup cream
About 3 cups flour; more for dusting.

 

Dough, Phase 1:
1. Peel potatoes. Remove all blemishes.
2. Boil the potatoes GENTLY until just done.
3. Put potatoes through ricer and mash until perfectly smooth.
3. Stir in 1/2 cup softened butter. Add salt and sugar.
4. Add 1/2 cup cream. Mix.
5. Refrigerate overnight.

Dough, Phase 2:
Note that the dough was very cold when I mixed in the flour, and I did not handle it, mixing in the flour with a bamboo spatula. I mixed in exactly 1 cup of flour for every 4 cups of potato.

Just before rolling, stir in about 1 cup of flour to each 4 cups of potatoes, packed. Do about half the batch at a time, returning the rest of the fridge. Five pounds of potatoes need about 2 1/4 cups flour.

6. Turn on lefse grill; It should be on nearly the hottest setting. Make sure it's completely pre-heated.

7. Shape batter into balls about the size of fat golf balls, to start. You can make them a little larger later, when you get the knack of rolling out. Refrigerate balls.

8. Follow any other recipe re: rolling, cooking, etc.

The Rock Music

"During the Iron Maiden set, which are words you've never heard me say..."

-- Me, to mrguy, describing last night's rock show, in which there was a lady Judas Priest cover band, a lady Ramones cover band and a man Iron Maiden cover band.

September 1, 2019

Ashes

There isn't a logical thing to do with cat ashes. When our second cat died I used to keep her ashes in my sock drawer. Then another cat joined her. When many years later our third cat died, I really had to rethink the sock drawer scenario. Now, with Nose being gone, there is a neat stack of four boxes. And I can't decide what an appropriate resting place would be for them.

I have considered burying the ashes, but what if you move? And taking them to the ocean to join our fathers, but cats don't really like water.

A new option has appeared -- making the cats into diamonds.

Discuss amongst yourselves.


August 26, 2019

Pet Peeves

An ongoing list, in the order that it comes to me:

1) People naming their black cats after black people.

August 17, 2019

The Haps, August 2019

Nothing is the haps. That's the beauty of it. I'm winding down from our family trip. All the folks at the forklift factory are on vacation, so there is less urgency, and I'm working on a presentation for a forklift festival next weekend. Any time I get to hang out with my boyfriend, Keynote, I'm in a good space. Last weekend I even got to cook.

When I was growing up, the Time Life Foods of the World cookbooks were one way in which you learned about other cultures. We only owned the Scandinavian book, which came out in 1968. I can't recall when my dad learned that he had a half-sister in Norway that his mother had never told him about, but I think this book arrived just in time for that. I loooved this book. I pored over it. I wanted it badly. It is now mine. In the grand tradition of my family, I almost never use it. I have one recipe I make, which is red cabbage. A red cabbage was staring at me from the crisper, so I made the cabbage recipe. I freestyled a bit, because I didn't have enough jelly in the fridge, so I made further international adjustments to the recipe by using jamaica concentrate and some raspberry jam from Afghanistan. Now I have cabbage that tastes like raspberry. It's an acquired taste.



We even had the chance to have a beer out with friends. Crazy, right? This never happens.

This week there was a trip to the doctor, which gave me the chance to take this photo of the gate next door. Why are medical buildings from the 1950s so cool?



Thursday brought total excitement. It was my night with the mama. I got there to find that the toilet had just broken for the third time and the maintenance guys had gone for the night. I called a plumber, and he said that it would require parts that couldn't be gotten at 7pm on a Thursday. I was certain we'd need to use the restroom before then. So I ran up the hill to get my car, while the caregiver packed a bag, and the medical office gathered the mama's morning meds. By 8 or so we were at our house, where mrguy had made up the mama's bed with the Miss Piggy sheets. She was asleep within an hour. 

This is what the inside of a toilet tank looks like these days, People!



Crazy

August 5, 2019

Triumph Over Everything Else

A photograph like this just wills itself into being.

Several months ago I heard from a co-worker that a forklift designer at Hammerslag was on medical leave. She'd reached out to him for a work thing and he kinda email-blurted his situation. She knew how fond I am of this guy, so she told me. And I reached out to him and said hi, and can I be helpful. And his situation is rather dire, but I now have the pleasure of his company on occasion. It's amazing what happens when you raise your hand. You get to spend time with people you'd always wanted to know better.

So this is how I came to know this restaurant, which is situated in the town where he lives. It's his favorite. Sometimes I join him there. And now I know that he will always order the same thing (chicken tikka masala) and doesn't want to share naan, which is fine because I always order the same thing (bengan bartha) and don't care about sharing. Plus our favorite naan is amazing (it contains chopped chicken, cashews, chopped maraschino cherries, anise, coconut flakes and raisins) and why would you want to share when you can get two orders? And then he blurts out a bunch of stuff at me and doesn't let me talk and apologizes and I'm just happy to hear all his stuff. He doesn't seem to pass judgment that I work in a forklift factory and am not really a forklift-ist.

Yesterday mrguy, who was going to join us, was felled by a hideous migraine. I really wanted to stay home and take care of him, but he said he'd be sad if I didn't go have dinner with our friend. So I did. I took our friend some banana bread (turns out he loves banana bread), and for the first time we ate in the main dining room of the restaurant.

Let me back up and say that when I go there and say I'm meeting my friend, they know exactly who he is. I see his interactions with the owner, where they offer to send him food and they really want to take care of him. These people are the *dearest* with him. And he's straight up with them, this time telling them that it's back but he's fine. Which is the truth. His fucking cancer is back and he feels no effects but he's gotta deal with it.

So we're sitting there and gossiping and as the sun's angle changes I see that this place has a retractable roof and the weather is perfect and the paint on the buildings next door is amazingly peeled and beautiful.

I caught this picture which, as I said, made itself. And a great one of my friend pointing at the ceiling. I've never seen a photo of him so happy, and it's my job to look at photos of people I work with.

He and I talked about people at work and work methodology and disposition of assets for people like us who don't have children. He wants to donate his awards back to the company, because without him he wouldn't have developed those projects. We couldn't believe we were discussing this, but if it gave him some relief I'm happy.
 
I hope we have many more dinners and that the awards stay with him a very long time.

August 4, 2019

Triumph Over Old Bananas

As readers of mrsguy are aware, no overripe or half-eaten banana may go unused in our home. They all go into the freezer where they turn black and wrinkly and freaky looking.

And they taunt me.
 Like this one in the Belfor mug, next to that can of frozen fruit punch that I don't remember buying.

So today I made two batches of the ancestral banana bread recipe. One for mrguy and one for a friend I'm having dinner with.
Thank you, Banana.

July 20, 2019

Talking About Vacation

Can we never do this again in this same fashion? I love my people so much. I love to be with them and eat with them and laugh with them. But it's too much. We are two days post vacation and I'm starting to feel normal, like when you've had a very bad cold and have most of the symptoms still but they're starting to simmer. In a week or so I will suck it up, reach out to my sister and say that I can't do this any more (the family vacation thing).

Let's set the stage. The mama loves being with her family. It's the only thing she cares about. Where are her people? Are they together having fun without me? Why aren't we together? Why can't we be at the vacation place right now? As with her friend's funeral earlier in the year, there was much anticipation and then when she got in the car she didn't know where she was going. She thought she didn't pack. She thought that we were having a party and then coming home. Sometimes she knew where we were and sometimes she didn't.

In the last few weeks she's suffered a setback. She's weak and barely able to walk. It took 32 minutes for her to walk from my front door to her car the other day. On vacation she was floppy like a noodle, and getting her to the bath was challenging. Also the bed in her room was about three inches too high, so we had to almost lift her into bed each time.

My vacation week consisted of:
  • 1 day cooking
  • 1 day kitchen cleanup
  • 1 day as Mom's daytime concierge
  • Several mornings helping siblings get Mom dressed, showered, etc. (it's now a multi-person job) 
  • 4 nights sleeping with Mom, waking up 2 or 3 times a night for a half hour to take her to the restroom
  • 1 night sleeping in the den so special guests (who were really lovely) could stay in a bedroom
  • 1 3-hour discussion about Mom's health
  • 1 4-hour discussion about Mom's health with all of the siblings
  • 1 20-minute talk about Mom's future with one sibling.
  • 1 apology conversation after my own personal misery made me act out and hurt my sister's feelings
  • 1 5 1/2 hour drive
  • 1 4 hour drive
  • 1 morning of cleanup and packing out
  • Endless maudlin toasts to the Dead at dinner
  • No bears
I want to say that I did not work harder than my siblings. I feel awful complaining, for that reason. In addition to most of the same tasks above, one sister also did all of the shopping and hosted our 92-year-old cousin for several days before and after the vacation proper. The other took care of the mama before and after the trip and took her to the doctor.

All of this begs the question of who this is for. The mama? It does give her something to look forward to and agitate about, but it was too much for her and the air at that elevation is super thin. The next generation? Maybe. My generation? Definitely not. Again, as of this year I am done. I love my family but not enough to take a week off of work so I can work non-stop and be unhappy with myself about being grumpy and ungrateful.

Thanks to mrguy, I have ideas about turning our week-long misery-fest into something resembling a true family reunion.


July 7, 2019

An Excellent Day

Yesterday we had a visitation from that nice boy. What a treat. We had breakfast with mrguy at our excellent little spot nearby (where the food comes out so quickly it seems like witchcraft is involved). Then that nice boy and I went to an estate sale. Much more fun for me than for that nice boy, I'm afraid.

There was this creepy doll laying in state on the dining room table who needed to be documented. And I came home with NOS (new old stock) pillow cases and some wild napkins in red and green by Vera.

One thing I have not mentioned in the past is that that my favorite geranium, Mr. Wren, came from a cutting in that nice boy's garden, 26 years ago. I have taken him from house to house since then. Turns out that our friend no longer has Mr Wren in his own garden. So I cut off a big hunk and sent it home to be repatriated.

Several hours of catching up, political dialogue, etc. transpired and then it was time for that nice boy to head home. The turkeys left him a "going home" present right in front of the porch. Like cats, I think turkeys are mostly colon. We put down a nickel for size comparison.
Good times!

Politics and Phytobezoars

This post is woefully outdated, but I couldn't let it, half-written, go to waste.

Today is my last day of staycation. I should do this more often. I attended a four-day German genealogy conference, binge-watched the current season of Real Housewives of New York, made soup and lasagne, planted some new things in the garden, continued my work on cleaning out the Etsy closet, worked on the excel doc of the family vacation duties (mom day concierge, mom night concierge, cooking, cleaning) and had a great heart-to-heart with the oldest neph. I did not talk to the mama, except once.

Last week's German genealogy conference led to some awesome discoveries. I found my 5th great grandmother's death record, and did some research on her surname. It's so uncommon that only one fellow can really be her father. I still need to prove it by finding her birth record, with the help of a researcher. The putative dad is a guy who wrote many books  under at least 13 pseudonyms. Even though he is primarily known by one name, that name is so rare that I wonder if he invented it. Could one of the other names be his real name? Since I first wrote this post I have found traces of his great grandson who, in 1905, asked in German genealogy periodicals for help tracing the mystery man's origins. I'm not the only one who couldn't figure this out.

The day I was writing this post I paused to have coffee and discuss the state of world affairs with mrguy. He said that perhaps the body politic would surround the current occupant of the White House and eject him like a hair ball. Which led to a discussion of hair balls in general, and my love of the fact that there was a hair ball oracle in Huck Finn. Which is now un-love, after looking it up and reading some of the passages.

On to happier things. Turns out that hairballs are a type of phytobezoar. I love this name. Did you know that there are experiments with treating human phytobezoars with Diet Coke

Well now you do.


July 5, 2019

Clams

It's July, and the Nagoya basho begins this weekend.

Since last year's Kyushu basho, I have acquired a new sumo friend who is passionate about the sport and, like the person who introduced me to sumo, is a woman and Swedish and into genealogy and Japan. Super odd that way.

Our sumo friendship started one day when I posted a photo of my tattoo in honor of Akebono. It was a wink at my artist friends who were all posting photos for Inktober. I'd just gotten new ink, so I joined them. A few minutes later I took a power walk and went past a friend's house. He asked me if I could step into his kitchen and let his wife know that I know about sumo. So I did, and she really wanted to know everything and we started watching together.

In classic sharing-info-with-a-friend-about-something style, I feel like she knows much more about sumo than I now. She's an avid reader of Tachiai, and listens to their podcast. She walked into Baskin Robbins one day (here in Little Hill City) wearing her Tachiai tshirt and caught the attention of a guy who is one of the NHK English language broadcasters. Now they email back and forth. Again, go figure.

Part of any sumo viewing situation (usually a couple times a basho) is the mountain of food and beverages. She goes shopping, I go shopping, and for some reason I've gotten really into making clam dip. I don't know why. And apparently everybody else is making clam dip right now, also, because I went to many places and found empty spots where the dip should be. I even looked at the gas station, liquor stores, the pharmacy where the clientele look like zombies (which has never failed me before). I hate going to the big grocery store, but I did check at our little marked down the hill, and I could buy some clams in jars from Italy for $8 and that is something I am not going to do.



This is what our spread looked like for the March basho

This is what our spread looked like the other day. We got together to view some vintage 1997 sumo, recorded off TIVO by mrguy. It only took us 12 years to finally watch it! Such festivity. So much food that we didn't even break into the black currant Pocky or the mountain of other snacks we'd stockpiled. And what you're not seeing in this photo is the Japanese beer served in the ruby cut glass tumblers I was given in Chiba. But I think my favorite thing is the sake. Many years ago some Japanese friends gave me cedar cups that smell amazing. Drinking cold sake from those cups is a heavenly sensory experience. OK, and that our friend doesn't mind my surrounding us with sumo reference. She has her own sumo reference, now, as well. Notice, under the potato chips, the magazine that I refer to as "our hymnal", the english language program from the 1998 LA jungyo that started it all for me.

I don't get together with friends much at all these days. I miss entertaining. And this sumo watching is something that happens in a low-stress fashion that works for both of us. I really appreciate this new friendship. And mrguy is our AV tech, and he can come enjoy or not as he pleases. It's good.

June 20, 2019

Shark Tank Impulse Buy

When I'm at the mama's, and it's bedtime, we watch tv. For her, this means listening at a deafening volume and changing the channel every few seconds. It makes us kids bonkers, and we all employ different methodologies to cope. Sometimes I just let her do her thing, and when she gets to the end of the channels or messes up the settings, I borrow the remote, start the channels at 2 and let her rip until it's time to start over again.

Occasionally she stops for favorite things: basketball, tennis, Fox News and Shark Tank. ST is produced by Mark Burnett. I wish it were not, because I think this show is fun.

I can get the mama to watch at least two Shark Tanks in a row, and I often find myself  Googling the products. That's how I came to own an Illumibowl, which the FedEx guy just brought me. It is a light for your toilet bowl, and just might be the right night light for the sweet mama, since most night lights do not work in her bathroom.

Here it is in action in my darkest bathroom, which is dark like the mama's and needs some light for visitors. It works on battery and is activated by a motion sensor. Here it is in white. "Classy!"


But white is not the only option, and once it gets going it cycles through several colors. You can pick one, or let it rotate through them all. I like pink, of course, but found that it's hard to photograph properly.
 
 
Now I have to see whether Mom likes it (on the "classy" white setting, of course). She won't care for green.
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