Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I cut her off at the quick tonight...

It's 8:10 pm and Mom starts to get fidgety. I see her glancing sideways at me, returning to neutral position with a loud sigh meant for my ears. I ignore her...keep typing. A few minutes later, she shifts in her chair, glances over at me (she's not all that sly), sighs. Settles back in a bit heavier this time.

A few minutes later, lather, rinse, repeat but the sighs are getting louder. So, before she can say anything about going to bed early, I get up and make her a dessert shooter. That shut her up...until 8:15. I've got a long night coming.

Oh, too, last night, I finally gave into her at 8:30 and put her to bed. I went upstairs at 10 after making sure she was sound asleep. I took up the monitor and put it in bed with me. After finally falling asleep at midnight, I hear this little "Lori...Lori....Lori." I drag myself out of bed, glance at the clock (2 am) and go downstairs. She's sitting up in bed - looks at me and (wait for it) says "Oh, what are you doing up?"....

"Really? REALLY? WHY AM I UP?" And then, in the meekest voice possible, she whispers "Is it time for coffee?" After I assured her (not quite that calmly) it was 2am (she didn't believe me), she laid back down, bitching softly to herself the whole time. It would have been pretty funny if it wasn't 2 am.

One more cute story, Mom, John and I were having dinner in the dining room when I saw another new bruise on her arm. Not sure where this one came from but I told her that, if someone didn't know me, they'd think I was abusing her. She looks at me and says "If you're not abusing me, you're yelling at me." Cracked us all up.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Gertie - augh...

Haven't written in quite a while - getting Mom settled back into the house where she's doing quite well. In fact, she's doing so well I'm going to have her bed moved back to her bedroom upstairs this week.

Anyway, just wanted to hop on and recreate a "conversation" we just had. Mom is in her chair, legs up, oxygen on. She starts to fiddle with the oxygen tube, as is  her wont. I yell over (she can't hear unless I'm at 100 decibels...) and tell her to "LEAVE YOUR OXYGEN ALONE." She looks at me, scowls and says "You don't need to yell at me"....

About 3 seconds later, literally, she looks at me and says "Can I take this off now?" "Ok" I say, a decible 75.

"Huh?" is her response. "OK!!!!! TAKE IT OFF" -

"I said you don't have to yell at me". Someone, please, help me.

So, she takes off her oxygen and, honest Injun, she looks at me 30 seconds later and says "Can you put this back on me?"

The little hair I have left is about to fall out on its own. "NO! YOU JUST TOOK IT OFF."

She contemplates this for about 10 seconds and, in the sweetest little voice, she says "You would if you loved me."

She won.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Inspiring others

Picture was taken yesterday morning, Thanksgiving, at the rehab. Mom is always so glad to see either Bobo or Rita! And, the dogs are really surprised to see her too. I've got Matee and Hops signed up to visit also. I rarely make it through the hallway without some of the residents stopping me to see whichever dog I'm toting along. It's sweet to see the smiles on these elderly patients. For some of them, it's the highlight of their day.

Mom is working hard at her rehab but I'm having a problem getting calories into her. I've got her on her appetite enhancer but she's not particularly interested in eating. Without calories, there's not much reserve energy for rehab so she knows the importance of eating. My new goal for her is 1500 calories a day. We'll see how that goes.

I've always been in awe of Mom's internal strength but, each and every day now, I'm inspired more and more by her will. She so wants to come home and I so want her home. She's really working hard to make that dream a reality.

I'm always surprised to read the nice comments left on my Squidoo articles but the comment below is one of my favorites. It's from a new online friend, Leslie - she left it on my Death and Dying - the final moments of life on earth article. I'm reposting with her permission.

Such a beautiful lens. My mother died this Memorial Day. She chose hospice since she wanted to (and succeeded in this) discontinue all her meds in the hospital and nursing home - but she only lived for four days of the hospice care. She was in such great pain that living had become torture.

You present a passage that I can relate to, as I was the only family present for the last months and especially the last weeks and days. Thanks for emphasizing the beauty of sending the dying parent off with loving statements of care, and reminders of how glad you are to have had them for a parent. That's what I did (after we had used every moment possible during the dying month to express our caring), along with prayers - it just seemed the right thing to do.

I read this lens before and it was such an encouragement to me, but I never really thanked you. Presenting information like this is a real gift, and I congratulate you. You did encourage me to not only concentrate on what is really important, you also caused me to think twice about becoming active in the squidoo community, and for that I thank you also.

Leslie also added the below in an email to me:

We are all in this life together and we need to support one another.

Boy, she's right on that one! Leslie is a 12 year cancer survivor (!) and writes some beautiful articles about her experiences. Please visit her profile at squidoo by clicking the following link: Papier's Lensmaster page. 

I'm very thankful to my online friends and my personal friends for supporting Mom and me through this latest health scare. Your visits to the nursing home really brighten her day, and mine. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

And, a special thank you to Kim and her family for the visit yesterday (Thanksgiving) and the food you made us take along. Kim's son, Alex, entertained us with some great tunes on the piano - he's very gifted. In fact, Kim is raising two wonderful young men - her youngest son, Mitchell, is quite the artist!

And, a big thank you to Bobbi for the food you prepared for mom and the laughter you shared with us last night. John and I had probably the most memorable Thanksgiving ever. It turned out to be pretty wondrous. And, again, for that, I'm very thankful.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mom's physical therapy yesterday

I couldn't post a video on Mom's site but here is a video of her morning session of PT yesterday.


I started writing online with eHow a few years ago just to have something to do. I had no idea one could make money monthly by writing online but quickly fell into the "make more" trap. Today, things are different.

eHow shut down their program so I've moved over to Squidoo where I write mostly about dessert shooters or articles about the elderly. The dessert shooter articles actually make money but the ones about the elderly? Not so much. What I do reap from my elder care articles though are wonderful comments like the below which I'm posting anonymously but with permission:

it is indeed what we have is very special! and we have come to know each other through our work, so as your work is very special to you and mine to me then that makes our friendship special too! my mum was diagnosed with Cancer, we were very "young" carers, my little brother just could not handle it, as my dad had passed suddenly the year before too, and she just wanted to come "home". I have never written about it as it is a hard one, but I follow your writing and think if you can do it and help others (already you have helped Eveyln and her family and relieve their worries etc) then I could too, so really you are an inspiration. and yes we had some wonderful times with mum, who throughout everything kept her sense of humour and I see the same twinkle in your mums eye ;-) Have a great Day Lori!

So, even if my Squidoo articles don't earn me much money, they are earning me more than money can buy - that ability to be supportive to others. And, isn't that nice?

Here's a few of my more recent articles:

Preventing bedsores in the elderly

American attitudes toward the elderly

Anatomy of a caregiver - what makes me tick

Handicapped bathroom needs for the elderly

Monday, November 21, 2011

Adjusting to a quiet home

Picture to the right is Mom after her very first physical therapy session. She worked so hard to get strong. Mom has always been my hero and I've always been aware of her inner strength but never more so than the last week. She battled her way out of horrible pain and is on the mend.

Last night was the first night ever that John and I were alone in the house. We've been together 4 years now so it was really going to be a special night - until I thought I was getting the flu.

I was in Mom's thousand degree rehab room all day yesterday, sitting in a chair. I was pale, shaky, dizzy, and sweaty all day yesterday. I had my temperature taken by the nurse: 98.3. Weird. No fever yet I felt like I had one. I made sure to stay as far away from Mom as I could while still tending to her needs - an interesting feat. Note to self: buy stock in antibiotic hand wash...

Anyway, John brought Gizmo to the rehab center at 4 and I had Rebecca coming in at 5. I briefed her and got her schedule so we're covered the rest of the week - mostly covered. I have Rebecca and Carina and possibly one other caregiver and me. But, I've digressed...

John and I came home and he gave me some Pho soup (great stuff). I almost immediately felt better. I think I was just dehydrated! And, when I think about it, I was in that stuffy, hot room all day and I don't think I even had a sip of water. I'm totally fine this morning but I scared myself enough to get a flu vaccine today.

Getting myself cleaned up and back to the hospital here in a bit. The house is just too quiet. Mom is a little thing but there is a pretty good amount of activity that happens around her. I hear noises and start to react and then remember that she's not here right now. At the moment, it's ok but, when the day comes that she's not here for good...well, that might be another story. That's where Key West comes in.

Off to get cleaned up and back to the rehab center as I want to make sure I'm there for her PT.

Here's an article I wrote yesterday about adjusting to rehab. I've gotten some beautiful comments from my online caregiver friends about this one.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Well, since I've last blogged, there's been a lot of excitement over here -

We had Mom's 95th birthday! An excellent time was had by all as we selected our local watering hole, La Mex, to have the party. It was beautiful. I'll expound more upon the occasion when I have time.

We took Mom on a cruise to Bermuda. 5 days out of Baltimore. Ron, Linda, Sharyn, Carina, John and I gave it the old college try. For John and me though, it was mostly a bust as we were in the cabin with Mom most of the trip - but, that was actually ok as the cabin was da bomb! We got the Owner's Suite on the ship and had 550 sq feet of cabin. Huge for a cruise! The balcony added another 110 sq ft so we were mostly content until the last 2 days when we had to go through a huge storm. 26 foot waves sent everyone reeling except Mom and Sharyn. Mom didn't even realize the boat was rocking!

And, finally, on Oct 11, 2011, Mom broke her hip. She suffered a pathological fracture which means the hip broke prior to the fall (a fairly common thing in the elderly). So, she had hip surgery on Oct 14, 2011 and stood for the first time on the 17th. I've been told by more than one hospital doctor or nurse how strong she is, emotionally and physically. We just moved her to rehab where she's expected to be for about a month but I'll bring her home earlier than that. I'm working on getting together a crew of support folks so we can care for her here.

Ok, I'm back off to the rehab for the day. I do have a website set up -

Feel free to dial in - I have the security set up to low so you don't need to log in to read the updates. Unfortunately, I have no internet at the rehab so can't update during the day. I hope this changes today when I transfer over to the iPhone and can use it as a hot spot.

So, dear readers, thanks for sticking by me. More later.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Laid back days

...and then a visit to the dentist, again. Poor Mom lost another tooth - and, once again, no tooth fairy knocked at the door. Drats. Since we're in comfort care mode, I made her lamb chops and gave her the bone. Bad move. Very bad move. So, off to the dentist we tottled to get the root pulled. She was quite the trooper but did request that I remain in the room with her - ugh. For those of you who don't know me well, I'm really not a fan of blood - ever. The extraction wasn't too bad as Dr. Chan is the best dentist in the Washington area. And, he worked us into his busy schedule the day I called. Gotta love that some people still give the elderly the right of way. Speaking of which, here's an article I wrote about how Americans treat the elderly:

American attitudes toward the elderly

We're working our way through some type of dog flu over here which is fairly disastrous to my area rugs. For some reason that totally escapes me, the dogs insist on vomiting on carpet. Now, my entire house is hardwood - you'd almost have to aim to hit a rug but little Matee hit 3 today. Rita ended up at the vet with IV fluids on Monday - there goes my bank account! Eh, they're all worth it. I've got my eye on Gizmo now though as by my estimation, she's next on the flu train. Rita was the sickest of the bunch and spent a lot of time in Mom's arms sleeping. It's so wonderful to me when Mom really kicks back into mothering mode. And, when anyone is sick or hurting (my back is killing me today), she's the first one with suggestions about what to do. The wonderful woman wanted to rub my back with ben gay today (no thanks!) and, instead, John and I spend 40 minutes in the hot tub with the jets on high. That, coupled with 1/2 a percocet set me straight. Actually, I'm leaning - to the left - which is normal...

I took some great photos of Carina with the dogs recently. Here's a few (say it with me - say it proud - we hate her...)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Best Cuban Coffee on the island!

Blossom's! Pictures are from our walk to and fro which exhausted poor John. I'm now perched by the pool, beer in hand, computer logged in, with a Stephen King book by my side. Quite a nice morning, all in all. John's back down for a nap at the moment. This is a "different" type of Key West than we're used to but, it's still very good. More later after parasailing (I hope). Weather is still iffy.

Loving the new MacBook Air computer. It's so very easy to tote everywhere and much quicker speed than the reviewers show. Of course, I'm working on Island Time so I don't mind a bit of a wait to upload pictures. The battery life is amazing too - 10 hours. We watched youtube videos last night and even have HBO to go on the thing. I'm ready for a rainy day!

Key West Thunderstorm

The picture has absolutely nothing to do about a Key West thunderstorm but it is one of my favorites that I just found again. This pic was taken in the beach house I rented a few years ago - Mom was 93 then! She and Rita were having the best conversation - they were really getting it. Of course, no one else was privy to the gist o the matter but, what mattered the most was that they were so connected. It remains today one of my all time favorite pics.

John and I are in Key West again! Home, sweet home! Unfortunately, the boy is sick with a cold so is under the weather, which, as I type, is a great thunderstorm complete with lightning and driving rain. I'm sitting on the balcony overlooking the pool and sheltered from the brunt of the weather - just where I like to be. We're going parasailing today, provided John's cold and the weather both clear up. Regardless, a great time is being had by all even though the air line left our bag in Atlanta! Yep, we're clothe-less, mostly. The airline accepted full responsibility and gave me carte blanche to go buy whatever we needed for the day, on them. So, 2 very nice bathing suits later (one for each of us), a beautiful sarong and matching headband (for me!), and a boatload of toiletries and we were all set. Mostly. Sure would like to have a new pair of shorts but I think my time limit has worn out as the luggage is due here by noon.

Parasailing should be a great time today - I'll make sure to take the waterproof camera with us and get a bunch of shots. The Sony takes a nice panorama also so that should be fun. Wish us luck!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

2nd Annual Visit to Key West for Bobbi's 50th

Here's a video that John put together about our latest trip. Just in time for our next trip next week!

"Island Time"

Ah, my zip lining article is finally live

I wrote about zip lining in an article on Squidoo but couldn't get it published as I screwed up one of the video links. Anyway, here it is in all its (non-) glory...

Zip lining in WV with Lori and John

Please leave me comments at the bottom of the article. I love to hear from my "fans" - ha ha.

Here's a few other articles that could use some readership. Seems like the most important articles I write, about caregiving, get hardly any love from anyone but me:

Hot off the press: The importance of routine in an elder person's life
Senior citizen crafts
Senior citizen gift ideas

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

When I am old...

So, I'm here at just Day 2 alone with Mom. The person I thought would be a fabulous caregiver (ok, I did meet her in a parking lot but she does have a gorgeous 7 week old bad could she be?)...Anyway, the person I thought would be a fabulous caregiver didn't show up today and, ostensibly, won't on Sunday when I have her scheduled either. So, I'm on my own. Yep, sitting here on my own.

"Here" at the moment is the back deck. I rarely am not in the same room with Mom (that can cause disastrous results if I'm not there when she calls), so, if she's in the living room, I'm in the living room, if she's in the kitchen, then - you get the idea. Anyway, I opened the window so that I will hear her if she calls or rings those dastardly bells I put on her walker. What was I smoking again?

So, I have a lot of time to reflect. And, that's exactly what I do. I came up with this - ah - poem; yeah, that's the ticket. It's a p-o-e-m. Maybe a - ah - musing is better. Yeah, that's the ticket. It's a mus-ing...

I don't believe I need to tell you who it is dedicated to...

When I am old..

When I am old, I promise NOT to:

1. Continue to insist I don't need a hearing aid when countless number of people all of as sudden are telling me I do. I promise to listen to them - well, the best I can.

2. Pick up my feet! The swish, swish of aging feet sliding across wooden floors can make a grown woman's bones grind.

3. Argue when shower time comes. It's in everyone's best interest to smell good when we're older. Trust me on this.

4. Sneak the dogs food when my daughter (well, ha, this won't happen!) specifically told her that the dogs were getting too heavy.

5. Reach for a mug that's just t-h-a-t much out of reach.

6. Leave my tissues hanging from chair corners, under pillows, inside clothing, or, on a very rare occasion, draped on top of the clean (?) kitchen counter.

7. Let fly with bodily noises that, as children, we were taught to contain. I know, I know - there's more air out than in but let's be reasonable.

When I am old, I promise to...

1. Reread this blog post, edit it with an apology, and then, within a reasonable time, delete it.

2. Do whatever the hell I want, and to hell with anyone who doesn't agree. I'll be deaf! What do I care?

3. Learn to do a 2-step so I can shuffle all the time.

4. Burp and fart when I damned well want to - and, well, sometimes when I just plain old don't expect to. I promise to affect an air of 'Who did that?' while simultaneously pointing to the littlest dog in the room.

3. Try to be as easy to care for as my darling Mother is for me. I couldn't be any luckier or any happier to have a tissue-hangin', burpin', fartin', smelly-ish (Monday-Wednesday), feet shufflin', spillin', deaf old woman in my daily life.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Community Bridge in Frederick, MD

Last week, Mom, Carina, Patricia and I wandered up to see the Community Bridge in Frederick, MD. This bridge is just amazing - I think I wrote about it earlier in this blog. Regardless, every time we visit, Mom and I see something new. And, looking at the beautiful painted bridge through the eyes of Carina and Patricia, neither of whom had seen it, was a lot of fun.

The Community Bridge is actually a plain old cement bridge that has been painted to look like cobblestone. Within the cobblestones are scenes that the community of Frederick suggested. The scenes are all things that mean "community" to people - things like old farms, a rabbi blowing a shofar, wedding rings, dolphins. About everything one can imagine. There are even some pictures painted in the style of trompe de oliel. Amazing. If you're ever near Washington, DC, it's a must see.

Here's Patricia checking out the trompe d'oliel up close and personal. It's really amazing that this is a 2D picture. So well done. Even the shadows are spot on. The ivy is painted also and, in the ivy are small hidden animals, such as butterflies and birds. I never saw those before but spotted them this time.

Just totally amazing to me. Consider that this is all painted. No wonder it took the artist 5 years to complete the Community Bridge.

The pretty girls are real, the statue is still 2D in tromp d'oliel style. I sort of wish I looked like any of them! They're all so beautiful. Mom and I truly enjoyed the time we got to spend with them last week. And, I have a new friend in Brazil now. Patricia: Todo bem?

Here's a funny story; when I met Patricia, I was informed that her name was not pronounced like we Americans pronounce Patricia - it was Pa-Tree-See-Ah. The accent on the 2nd syllable threw me and I struggled all day to try to remember how to pronounce it. It was the next day that I heard Carina call her "Patchy." "Patchy?" I said. Her name is "Patchy?!" THAT I could pronounce. Turns out her nickname is Patchy so she was Patchy from thereon out. Whatever I called her, she was as darling as Carina. And as beautiful. Say it with me and say it proud - we hate them...

More about the community bridge later. It's late and visitors are gone for the night. Mom and I and 5 dogs are about to call it a night.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

This article needs a little love, please...

I've had this dessert shooter lens in the top tier in Squidoo for 3 months and would sure like to reap the benefits of another month - around $37! I'd appreciate any visits and a few comments - that should tip it back into the top tier tomorrow. Anyone? Come on now, be supportive:

Dessert shooters

And, as a bonus, here's a few more cute pics I found on my camera card:

 John and Mom at happy hour the other day. Mom was an eating fool this day and topped off a LOT of food with a bourbon and coke. Atta girl!
2 gorgeous Brazilian girls - this is Carina and Patricia (Patchy) who was visiting. Patchy was here from Hawaii on her way to Brazil. It was a pleasure to have her around a few days and John and I can't wait to travel to Brazil to be reunited. A trip is in the plans!


John surprised me yesterday with a date date of ziplining in Harper's Ferry! There's a new place there that's part agility course (had to cross a rope bridge which was scary and exhilarating at the same time), and ziplined across 7 different stations, the longest of which was around 1/4 mile. I had to be pushed off of the platform by one of the guides everytime - I now know what a baby bird leaving a nest feels like. I loved the ziplining but, for the life of me, I just couldn't rationalize stepping off a perfectly good platform 200 feet up in the air!

We were in a group of 7 - the other 5 people were together and then John and me but, by the end of the day, we were pretty united. It was 3.5 hours of pure fun! I can't wait to do ziplining in Puerto Rico on our next cruise. We even saw a beautiful bald eagle up close and personal as he flew about us, about 50 feet up. I missed the shot though as I was confused by my new camera. Figures. Here's a few pics and videos though:

As you can see, it was an amazing time. 

Anne and Eric from North Carolina were visiting for the weekend and we had a grand time getting reacquainted. Crabs on Friday night were stupendous - everyone had a great time. The house is quiet now as they've just left - so sorry they couldn't stay around a bit longer.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

New Christmas Squidoo lenses

Picture has nothing to do with this blog post - I just thought it was sweet of Sharyn and her dog Wilber-beast.

I bowed under the pressure to make some serious sales so have departed from writing my normal elderly people, pets, or dessert shooter articles. I'm onto Christmas stuff now. So, the below are my newest Squidoo lenses on Christmas decorations. I was going to do one on Channukah decorations, but, very very sadly, they are few and very far between on

Fresh Christmas Wreaths - Sharyn and I used to put together very beautiful wreaths and table decorations made from any items we could find on our walk. These are fun to make.

Snowman Christmas Decorations - Snowmen make me smile.

Snowflake Christmas Decorations - Snowflakes on noses and...something, something, something as the song goes...

And, just so I'm not a total sell out, here's a few of my more quality lenses:

When death looms; the signs and symptoms of the last moments on earth - I wrote this while Mom was in the hospital and we'd been told she wasn't doing well. As I sat up at nights in her room watching over here, I was frightened by what I might see. I needn't have been - this article is a result of the research I did that night. I'm no longer frightened and neither is she.

Things I wish I had known before becoming a caregiver - boy, there's some stuff I wish I'd been told!

Senior citizen gift ideas - there's some good ideas here if you've got a senior in your life.

Resources for caregivers of the elderly - there's a few good ideas here or links to places to get support

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A foray into the unknown.

There's 2 unknowns at work here, one good, one bad. We'll start with the bad first.

I had a world of education last night about how to deal with constipation in the elderly and, let me tell ya, it's not as easy as it might seem. 10, count 'em TEN, trips to the bathroom in 3 hours about had me seeing red. I pulled everything I could possibly pull out of my hat of tricks - things I knew to relieve constipation. Let's see, there was warm prune juice, hot tea, a heating pad, drinking hot water, nothing. There was walking, Pepsid tablets, and Sennecot. Nothing. 2 calls to the hospice nurse assured me that I had touched on everything possible and time would tell. Mom was feeling better by the time I put her to bed last night but she's gonna blow today....

My second foray into the unknown is my continued work at I have a lot of products planned and have just been focusing on my Santa is real...he just doesn't like you stuff. Hopefully, I'll have some Christmas sales. Squidoo is coming along and I'm getting sales on my articles a few times a week which is nice. Sure doesn't touch the income from the now non-existant eHow though. I sure miss those months of raking in a lot of free dough. Ah well, all good things must come to an end, or so they tell me.

Here's my new products on - here's my first greeting card by BitterBroads - needs work on the back but still looking for just the right logo:

How about a nice apron?

Or a cup?

Friday, September 9, 2011

My first try at

Ok, here goes. is a place where anyone can create items for sale. I've created my first BitterBroads product ever - a Christmas ornament of all things. Please go click on it to see the punch line on the back and then BUY IT!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My online ramblings

I've been busy trying to find my new online writing "home" since eHow deleted their writers compensation program. I was getting quite used to the extra money coming in every month and was saddened to find that the program was stopped. I wasn't saddened though to find them buying my entire library for a tidy sum. But, with the loss of the income, I was off to find other places to share my writings and, hopefully, make some money.

I did manage to get a start on my own website - - where I plan on expanding my recipes for these delicious mini desserts served in small glasses. Please come visit and bookmark my site; I'm going to update at least once a month with the "Recipe of the Month." September's recipe is Labor Day Labor of Love.

I've also been concentrating quite a bit on
and am seeing a bit of results. Here's a review of my earnings since I started writing there;

April 2011 - .06 - yes, that's 6 cents
May 2011 - $24.49 - a nice increase and seeing some promise
June 2011 - $64.65 - not too shabby.

Squidoo pays 2 months in arrears so I haven't seen the pay for July yet but it should best June. So, it appears that my income is climbing. Like eHow, Squidoo is residual pay so, hopefully, these articles will continue to earn every month (until they close their program!).

I currently have 62 lenses (that's what Squidoo calls articles), most of which focus either on caregiving, dessert shooters or pets.

Here's a link to my profile and all of my articles on Squidoo. And, here's a few of my newer articles:

A houseboat rental. John and I took a nice mini-vacation a few months ago.
The value of friends. This article was written when I was in the hospital with mom last month.
Anatomy of a caregiver - what makes me tick
Choosing hospice - is it the right choice?
Alarm clocks for all ages
Dog costumes for Halloween

Please come read, and share my articles. Also, I appreciate comments on the articles (anyone can comment) as that raises the rank and allow for, hopefully, more bucks! I'll post more links tomorrow. Don't want Google to think I'm spamming!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Catching up again!

Well, I've been in the house with Mom for 3 days over the Labor Day holiday so you'd think I'd have written a bit more. I've been "busy" just being! Mom was starting to catch a cold yesterday so I gave her some cold meds and Doris (a caregiver) made a chinese mixture of ginger, green onions and brown sugar. Sounds horrible (and it is) but it does seem to have done the trick of clearing up the cold. Just glad it doesn't appear worse. One bad cold when you're almost 95 can be disastrous. Today was back to more normal terms - she's holding breakfast #2 there in her hand...

It's been raining for 2 solid days now and there's nothing more Mom and I like than rainy days. I bundled her up this afternoon and took her onto the balcony for an hour - change of scenery, you know. Well, it is a change from the easy chair in the living room. The dogs are going a bit nuts and seem to be worrying the cat who worries them right back. I'm hoping I can keep peace in the household as I'm not sure who would come out on top in the melee, the dogs or the cat. I have a suspicion that it would be the cat...

John went off on the boat on Friday and was expected to be back up Sunday but, sometimes, when you're sailing, you just can't get there from here, and "here" at the moment is Solomon's Island. He holed up there last night, waiting out the storm which evidently is waiting out John. There he sits still tonight as the wind was gale force blowing with gusts up to 25. Waaay too stiff to pilot Namaste safely back to his home port, Harrington Harbor North. His plan is to head out tomorrow, if the seas allow. If not, I'll go run down and pick him up so he can work this week and then return him there next weekend to hopefully bring her home.

Mike was in town last month so Sharyn, Mike, Mom and I headed down to Brookside Gardens in Silver Spring to take in the beautiful gardens and the butterfly exhibit. Mom, Jeff and I had gone to visit the butterfly exhibit back in 2007, right after Dad died. Surprisingly, Mom remembered most of that trip. We had a great day - both times. And, those of you who know Sharyn well probably won't be surprised to know that she was stung by only 1 of 2 poisonous catepillars in Maryland when she inquisitively turned over a leaf that she should have left alone. Her finger was horribly swollen and ugly for a while - actually, it throbbed for a few hours. Bourbon later helped, so she said.

Ok, enough catching up. Better feed the brood, including Gert who is eating me out of house and home. Her appetite is definitely something that is not decreasing with age. She keeps me hopping making her favorite foods - yesterday's was a simmering pot of fresh chicken soup.

Friday, August 26, 2011


Had some excitement this afternoon when Sharyn and I went out to the back 40 to pick some produce from the garden (that's a panorama picture of the back 40 from my new sony camera...). We took Killian and Wilbur along for the run and were minding our own business in the garden when I went to reach for a jalepeno. I bent down with my face next to the black deer fence, happened to look outside the fence about 1 foot away and saw an interestingly patterned tree lying there. It took me a moment to realize that the "tree" was breathing! I believe my quote was "Holy shit. Holy SHit. Holy SHIt." Sharyn had no idea of what was going on and thought I had possibly seen a spider which frequently brings the same response out of me. This was no spider. Hell no! This was NO spider!

What it was was a SNAKE! Just 1 short foot away from my face was a 6 foot reticulated boa constrictor! Sharyn came over to see the anomaly before me and was sort of speechless. We grabbed both dogs and put them in the house and returned with a large dog crate which we managed to get over the now very pissed snake.

The call to the emergency line at animal control was rather interesting. Sharyn told the woman that we had a 6" boa in the backyard corralled. Perhaps not unreasonably, the dispatcher at animal control didn't quite believe us. Sharyn handed the phone to me where I repeated the story and reiterated that this was a b-i-g snake. She still wasn't gettin' it! She told me that if the emergency "team" would come out, but if it was a wild snake, they wouldn't do anything about it. Now, I know a bit about snakes and knew that this snake was not a Maryland snake but, alas, she still wasn't gettin' it.

So, 40 minutes later, during which Sharyn and I split snake-watch and Gert-watch, the "team" finally responded; it was a team o' one - one Pat McArdle responded to the call. He walked out to the back 40 with Sharyn who had met him in the driveway. He saw the snake and, I believe his quote was .... well, I can't really quote what he said but it contained the "F" word! He couldn't believe what he was seeing. And, he had walked up with a snake catching pole that this thing would have bent in two. So, we were in a bit of quandry about how to get said snake out of the dog crate and off to the Humane Society.

After a bit, Pat went to the truck and returned with a black bag which could be closed on an animal. Convincing a 6' boa constrictor to willingly enter a black bag took some doing but Pat was the man and finally got the snake secured safely in the bag. He weighed right around 40 lbs so we put him in Mom's wheelchair and proceeded to the van where the snake was secured for good. Whew! I was reassured that the snake would not be destroyed which was great - that was important to both Sharyn and me.

So ended our saga with the snake. I'm hoping it's one we don't repeat for a long, long time - make that forever.

UPDATE 8/31/11 - I got an email back from Pat McArdle. The beast was a python measuring TEN FEET LONG! Here's the email:

Thank you very much for the photos. The snake was a Python and it measured around 10 feet.
still very aggressive but they said thats the nature of this breed of snake.

My funny funny mama

OMG! Gert had me just rolling this morning. Let me give you a little background before I get into the funny part...

Mom HATES showering. Even though she just sits there while I do everything, she just gets exhausted. I'm as quick as I can be while I wash her hair and soap her wee body. A shower only lasts around 7 or 8 minutes but, somehow, she's still huffing and puffing at the end of it. I even dry her - I mean, come on! How hard can it be on her? And, she loves the feeling afterwards so it's all worthwhile but, it's a fight to get her to that point...

I've learned that I don't get as much of a fight when the shower dooms if I start the day before with gentle reminders that 'tomorrow, you get a shower.' I'll repeat the mantra when she first gets up and again at bedtime and then, on shower day, I'll remind her in the morning. Sort of gives her a warning. She generally is not in the best mood during these reminders. But, today... shower day. I went in to get her up for breakfast #1 and was about to remind her that it was shower day. She was sitting in bed, shaking her fists up and down and grinning wild. "WTH" is what I was thinking as I peered cautiously into her bedside commode expecting to have a very bad morning. Nothing there. So, I asked her why she was so happy - her reply? "Today is SHOWER DAY! I LOVE taking showers. Yippee!" The woman is crazy...

John's out on the boat for a few days but heading into a safe port in preparation for the hurricane which should hit Maryland on Sunday. He took this pic from the boat this morning at sunrise. I'm so sorry I didn't see this shot in person.

Re: Hurricane Irene; we're not far from where it's projected to come to land in Maryland and expecting winds up to 80 mph tomorrow! Ron had the forethought to get us a generator which is being installed today so we'll have air conditioning, refrigerator and freezer, and mom's oxygen. Good idea - wish I'd thought of it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Day 3 in the Conch Republic...

Ah, Day 3 in paradise. Sadly, it was our last day but we made every second count. We started out the day with breakfast at Cheeseburgers (again - why mess with the best?) and then headed over to the Hyatt where we clamboured aboard the swim platform with our own portable bar - no $17 drinks for us! Nope, we mixed our own through rain and shine. Swimming, floating and laughing until the normal Key West daily deluge came. Ah, but that didn't stop us. We just took the rain for what it was worth until the thunder started and we ran for cover.

After a short nap, I headed off to get my makeup done at the Pier House Resort which, if you're thinking of doing that in KW, don't bother. Although the guy doing my makeup was more feminine than I (in many ways), I could have pretty much done the same thing. I just sort of looked like a slightly improved version of myself - not worth the $50 - that's, what? 4 cocktails....

Anyway, I met up with John and Bobbi and we headed over to the boat where John had reservations for dinner. The boat was a 33 foot Carver with a nice flying bridge which held 6 people around 3 little tables. We were served in style! After about a 15 minute boat ride to a quiet cove area, hors d'euvres, wine, and dinner ensued. It was delightful. I loved feeding the fish swimming right below us but, alas, no porpoise sightings this time...and no manatees either. But, we did have a gorgeous view of the sunset as can be evidenced from the pics below.

After dinner, we headed up Duval to Better Than Sex, the dessert shop. It's a beautiful setting, the interior bathed in red candles. We sat at the bar and had chocolate rimmed merlot for Bobbi and me and an apple and caramel rimmed glass of beer for John. Some sort of peanut butter concoction followed (I'm told it was the Peanut Butter Perversion....). Ah, our bellies were full but we had one more stop to make.

Under a bit of duress (thanks for the experience, Bobbi...ha), we headed over to the drag show as 801 Bourbon (it's right off Duval). With a $10 cover charge, you'd expect more than a fat purple clothed transvestite lip syncing poorly. The show was really not even third rate - just poor is a kind way to put it. Horrible is more realistic....But, I digressed.

So, we sat up front and watched a few "singers' who were all pretty bad. Eventually, the fat purple clothed (people eater?) appeared and did a grotestque version of some song. When it was over, he/she asked the audience if the horrible song and ridiculous dance moves should be included in his 'repertoire'. WHAT repertoire? He was LIP SYNCING! Good grief. Anyway, everyone else there (all 11 of them) said 'yes' but I didn't say anything. Mom taught me that, if I didn't have anyting nice to say don't say anything at all. So, I took her up on it and didn't say anything. And, evidently, I got in trouble because I didn't say "yes" immediately. But, he/she wasn't going to let me go gently. Nope, he/she wanted a piece of me. So, after admonishing the audience because someone had pointed at a previous dancer and perhaps laughed (thanks, Bobbi), we were lectured because he/she was still crying backstage. The ensuing lecture was certainly directed at us and we were admonished for not allowing people to just be theirselves. Now, anyone who knows our group knows that we love people of all color, creed, or sexual orientation. WE were not the ones to direct this litergy toward....Anyway, regarding the cryer, as John said later, he/she should have put on his/her big boy/girl pants and gotten on with it....good grief.

So, after we were lectured by this rather large man in a girl's outfit (which didn't fit...), the purple clothed monster again looked at me and asked me if his/her song should be included in the "repertoire." I truly didn't think so, but, taking Mom's advice, I didn't want to say 'no' and really thought it best to just say "I don't care." Well, that really set off Barney! The Purple People Eater had his/her dander up. He/she basically ran me out of the place but not before Bobbi and John took off....yep, headed on out and left me to my own wiles. Nice....Now, in all fairness, John says he didn't run off and that he was there with me. I don't remember that part....

So, I went downstairs and demanded my money back at which point the loser behind the counter said he couldn't do that so I threatened publishing my story - the first of which you're reading. I'm planning on writing the newspaper in Key West, posting on Facebook - you name it. Barney's not going to win this one.

John finally pulled me away before, he says, the cops were called and I was hauled off to jail....801 Bourbon? Entertainment? Talent? Not so much. I can only hope the poor boy/girl whose feelings Bobbi hurt stopped sobbing by now...He/she gave "drama queen" a totally new meaning.

Ended up heading over to the Bull and Whistle for a bit more window watching. We managed not to piss off anyone else, at least. So, a great night was had by all.

Headed home at the moment on a plane full of kids - Note to self: don't connect through Orlando. All in all, a very successful trip.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Day 2 in the island paradise of Key West

You can't fake this kind of happiness
Well, day 2 found us wandering the streets until we landed for breakfast at Cheeseburgers. If you've been to Key West and have missed breakfast there, you didn't really experience Key West. It's just phenomenal and a certain diet buster. With full, stretched bellies, we waddled our way up Duval to do just a bit of shopping (and sipping along the way - well, it was HOT out! One needs to stay hydrated...and buzzed...).

Bought a very pretty pitcher at one of my favorite stores (funny, never have even seen the name of the place) and proceeded to fill it with a delicious Sangria from, um, another of my favorite places. Note to self: look at signs and learn names of favorite spots.

The afternoon found the three of us headed to our little beach area with ideas of sitting in the crystal clear Gulf but, alas, those damned jelly fish abounded so off we went to the pool. After awhile, we decided that we were, after all, worthy of a pool with an ocean view so off we went to the Island Key House to crash their gorgeous pool. We bobbed for a few hours, content as a pile of sleeping pups.

John got me a spa treatments (exfoliant with cuban coffee and sugar cane) which was about the best thing ever...well, besides being in Key West! I came out just glowing and all ready to party until I found poor John down on his game. He was sick. Oh no! WTH? It was a very sad time. I nursed him the best I could - gave him ginger ale and a pepsid and tucked him back into bed. I ended up meeting Bobbi for a bit - we sat in the window of the Bull and Whistle (there! I got one!) and watched the crowd walk by. If you're a people watcher, the window of the Bull and Whistle is prime territory to see about everything you've ever imagined. A few men walked by and tickled our feet which were propped up. Funny. Took a bunch of picture which was pretty hilarious. I almost always have closed eyes when using a flash so Bobbi gave me a tip which was to open my eyes W-I-D-E before the picture. Well, here's the results....I think I'd rather have closed eyes....and botox...

Bobbi and I came back to the room to check on poor John. He was feeling better but still not in the mood to come out with us so more tucking occurred and Bobbi and I were off again. This time, we stopped at Two Friends for a quick beer (hydration and buzz) and then over to "The Martini Bar" - not it's name but, as per my usual, I can't remember the real name. The place makes the best danged martinis though. I had a key lime martini which is a must have if you're ever in Key West - not that you could find it from my description.

So, our bellies totally full and our minds totally happy, we headed back to our respective hotels. And, here I sit, at 7 am on another glorious day, on the ocean front balcony at the Hyatt. Life is very good.