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


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.

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