Sunday 19 November 2023

Finding My Way

I feel rusty trying to write a post after being fairly absent in Blogland for a while.

When life is overwhelming, it's hard for me to write for public consumption.

It feels like I'm either being too open for my comfort, or too whiny, or, at the other extreme, omitting things that really affect me and I'd really like to talk about.

So I just don't post, for the most part.

But it feels like life is easing a bit lately. Here's why.

The things dragging me down were, in a nutshell, the care of my mom who has dementia, and grief.

For my own sanity, I had to stop taking Mom out so much. I already visit once a day to take her pills to her, so I reduced other outings with her to twice a week. It took a while to feel the benefits, but I am noticing I am less tense now. Also, I count appointments as outings, which may or may not be fair to Mom, but it is the only way I can cope. And if I can't cope, Mom will suffer anyway. I also signed up for Mom to go to an Adult Day Program for dementia patients. We went for a trial run, and she enjoyed it so much, it made me cry. We are waiting for a spot to open up now so she can go several times a week.

I also started going to Alzheimer Support Group for caregivers once a month, which has been helpful far beyond my hopes and expectations. I had hoped to find someone in a similar situation to me so I could get some tips on dealing with my mom's particular situation. That didn't happen, but I received so much more. It is a chance to talk about my feelings, but it's also a chance to hear about other folks' struggles and gets me out of my own head. It's also a chance to socialize, as weird as that sounds. Because I'm introverted, I don't go out much socially, but I still enjoy people in small doses, and this group is one way I can do that.

As for the grief, I'm not sure if I've posted about this before or not, but I lost three people important to me within one year. One of those people was, as you know, my husband, which was a major loss as you can imagine. I felt I was just starting to cope with those losses when we had the hurricane last fall. The stress of the storm itself, which I thought of at the time as hair-raising, actually resulted in me losing a huge amount of hair, which is rather funny in a dark way. I'm lucky to have thick hair so it's not a problem, but I lost so much (at least one quarter) over an extended time (six months), I ended up having some medical tests to be sure nothing else was going on. Thankfully, the hair fall stopped shortly after the tests were complete (of course). The other fallout (see what I did there) of the hurricane was what followed the storm: caring for Mom in my home for a week and a half, while trying to clean up and make major decisions related to damage. A week and a half doesn't sound like much but it was incredibly stressful as she was agitated and restless and talked non-stop, easily understood because she wasn't in her usual environment, but hard to manage. The insurance wasn't settled until months later, and then I still had to arrange to have the repairs done, a difficult process when so many folks here needed the same resources. All without having my husband to share in the decisions. I did have help from my brother and son, which I'm so grateful for, but the stress was constant and unrelenting.

I find that I still need to do something to cope with my losses, so I've signed up for grief counselling by telephone. I would like to be able to recall the good memories, not just those of the period when my husband was sick and dying, and not just of the shock and sadness of the other losses.

In the meantime, my son and I decided that he would move into half of my large house, as I was rattling around like a BB pellet in a tin can and he was looking for a way to move back to this area and reduce expenses. That was a very positive decision and is helping my mental health immensely, but on the flip side, it brought more work and decisions as I had to downsize my belongings and make some hard decisions about emotionally-charged items. He is finally moved in now, and I need to go through everything I put aside the first time around and make more decisions.

All along, my two older cats' health has been a concern as well. Meredith cat was given a few months to live. . . about fourteen months ago. I don't think her diagnosis was correct, but she definitely has something going on. She was diagnosed with cancer in the vicinity of her heart, which appeared on the x-ray as a mass pressing her heart out and upwards. I think she has something wrong in her intestinal tract, however. She has been having bouts of vomiting and lack of appetite. In between, she is feisty as ever, but she is getting thin and I hate to see her feeling unwell so much. Lucy cat has had sneezing and oral odour for a while, and finally - finally! - had dental work done last week. Her teeth were in bad shape, which makes me feel horrible that she was suffering even more than I thought she might be.

So it's been a time here, as they say. I am hoping to get Meredith in for another vet visit soon, and then hopefully things will gradually return to some kind of quiet normal.

Life's a beach, as my husband used to say. (Of course, he meant something else, not exactly "beach". lol)

But I feel less like I'm drowning now. Hopefully I'll be around more.

Thanks for reading. To celebrate getting to the end, here are a couple of memes that make me smile. I hope they make you smile too.

But things are improving!

I hope that if you are having an unusual amount of stress, you too are finding your way, or will do so soon. Just keep swimming.

Have a good week, my people.

Thursday 16 November 2023

Things I Don't Understand

This is a list I made after reading yet another news article about someone who had something bad happen because that person was doing something stupid (this news article was about someone who had a medical emergency at #1 below).

The article got me thinking about all the other things I wonder about, usually with my face screwed up into a position reminiscent of smelling something weird and not liking it.


1. eating contests

2. bull-fighting

3. stunts that can only end badly

4. rock climbing

5. skiing on closed trails

6. keeping dangerous animals as "pets"

7. "practical jokes"

8. leaving pets in a vehicle on a hot day (I make a different face with this one. It's a very angry face and you wouldn't want to see it.) 

What would be on your list of things you don't understand? 

Saturday 23 September 2023


The other night, I was heading home from work around midnight. The town streets were dark and quiet - no cars, no people.

Until I rounded a corner. On the street ahead, I saw them - three gangly adolescents standing in the middle of the street, long legs shifting as they jostled each other. I slowed, but they made no effort to move, just looked over their shoulders at me and continued their teenaged conference.

I wondered if I should honk the horn once, just to remind them I was there and needed through, but I didn't know how they would react. Would I give them a fright? Would they turn on me? There was no one else around to help me if I made the wrong choice.

As I pondered my next move, they gathered their collective wisdom and with a bit of shoving and bumbling, began to slowly move ahead. They proceeded through the stop sign and down the next street at an amble. I followed slowly so they wouldn't feel threatened, smiling at their awkward gait, those long limbs and tiny hoofs so deceptively frail-looking beneath white tails . . .

Yep, those were adolescent deer wandering through town in late evening. They're not just in peoples' back yards, they're everywhere. 

And just like people, they travel in preferred groups, the older males together, the moms and babies born this year together, and the adolescents together. The last group always make me smile, they're so much like their human counterparts - unsure of what their goals are or how to get there, apt to stand around shuffling their feet, and slow to react to cars with the right-of-way.

I only wish I had a video, or even a photo, to share with you.

A meme will have to do instead.

I hope your week brings you some smiles too.

Sunday 17 September 2023

Lee Has Moved On

I am feeling very fortunate today; the storm has passed and is heading to Quebec. My roof is no worse than it was two days ago, my trees are still standing, and I had no interruption of power. As far as I'm concerned, that's a trifecta of good luck.

Other parts of Nova Scotia have had downed trees and loss of electricity, but overall our province was spared. New Brunswick was hit harder, and I can't find any news reports on how Prince Edward Island was affected but significant damage was not expected. (Maybe Marie, our blogging friend in PEI, will have a report on this later.) 

The storm is heading for Quebec now. It took a westward turn and that is what helped us here in NS and also those in Newfoundland.

I know that our good fortune is someone else's misfortune, however. I hope the storm wears itself out quickly.

For now, I will not have to worry about my hair falling out like it did after last year's Fiona.

This guy is my spirit animal:

I hope you have a good week, people. Thank you for all your comments and good thoughts on my last post.

Saturday 16 September 2023


Update - Saturday 5 pm local time:

I still have power, although many Nova Scotians do not. There wasn't very much rain here either, but there were storm surges along the southwestern coast. New Brunswick seems to be bearing the worst of the storm.

The wind is picking up here, but in bygone years, this would just be a windy day for us. However, we'll see what tonight brings. The weather watch says: "Lee will continue to impact the region tonight with rain or showers, strong winds, and high waves along the Atlantic coast."

It's hurricane season again - check out this post if you want a refresher on what happened last year in my region - and tonight folks are bracing for the effects of Hurricane Lee on Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and, later, parts of Newfoundland.

This year, my home county should escape the worst of the wind and rain. But I feel for those living where the hurricane will make landfall (particularly southwestern NS). 

And I'm still worried about even the lesser winds and their possible effect on my patched-but-as-yet-unreplaced roof. (The new roof was supposed to happen in late summer, which I guess we're technically still in, but due to rainy weather the roofers are behind schedule, so now I've been promised "before winter".)

Since the trees are still fully-leaved, the wind will tend to cause more tree falls and therefore more damage to power lines, and power outages are expected.

So, if you hear from me even less than usual, it might be because of the storm.

But I'll update you as soon as I can.


Thursday 7 September 2023

WordPress is a Puzzlement

Long ago, I set up a WordPress blog so I could post comments on other peoples' WordPress blogs, and also because I thought I might use it to post pictures of my cats, other cats, maybe all kinds of animals.

It's called catsandotherwildlife and I haven't used it except as the previously mentioned magic key to leave comments on other WordPress blogs.

Well, the magic is gone. Half the time when I try to comment, it automatically signs me in as "catsandotherwildlife" and half the time it uses "jenny_o". Even when I click on "change name" and type in jenny_o, it posts my comment as catsandotherwildlife.

And sometimes it posts showing jenny_o but when I refresh the page it says catsandotherwildlife.

As if that isn't enough, if I go back a little later to the same post, it will say jenny_o again.

I can't figure it out and it's driving me crazy.

Today I tried to comment on Diane Henders' entertaining blog (go here and see her latest post!). I changed my signature to jenny_o but it showed up as catsandotherwildlife. When I tried to leave another comment (or reply) to explain who I was, the "post" (or "reply") button was greyed out and I couldn't access it even when I refreshed the page.

What in Sam Hill??? ....

Thoughts, anyone?

In the meantime, if you have a WordPress blog and receive a comment from catsandotherwildlife, you'll know why. And who.

It's just me, being hijacked by WordPress's persnickety-ness.

Clearly, Blogger doesn't have a monopoly on that :)


May the Comments gods smile on all of us . . . but don't get your hopes up, folks :)


Sunday 13 August 2023

The Yeah-But Bird, or, Follow up to "Mom" Post

Warning: Very Long Post. (But there are memes at the end.)

My late husband used to tease me about being a Yeah-But Bird.

This is what would lead to it: I would present a problem to him, and ask for his thoughts on how to solve it.

After he had dissected the problem and made his best effort at giving me good advice, I would methodically shoot down every bit of it. My sentences would always start with, "Yeah, but . . ." because I had already considered everything he said and discarded them as unworkable, which is why I was asking for his input in the first place. I was looking for some idea I hadn't thought of yet.

I'm sure it's something we could have used some marriage counselling to fix, but instead we did what most couples do and just laughed and accepted it - likely harder for him than for me, to be honest. But that was one of the things I loved about him. He loved me even when I was being a Yeah-But Bird, and a lot of other things that I shouldn't have been.


I feel like the Yeah-But Bird has resurfaced in a big way in my replies to my post about my Mom (here).

All of you had good suggestions for me, yet in my replies I realized I was pretty much Yeah-Butting every idea.

If you read all the replies, you would have the bigger picture of why I feel there is nothing I can do about the Mom situation. But if you haven't, I'll recap here:

- Mom has dementia, yes, but the bigger problem right now is her personality PLUS dementia, which leads her to refuse all help that she perceives as "help" (as opposed to just a visit initiated and desired by the guest/me)

- the public system/government services are definitely available to her, and she has been referred to them once already (in 2021) but their first requirement is that she must AGREE to have help, and she has dismissed that as unnecessary; case closed

- private care is "more likely" (quoted from the geriatric clinic) to agree to try to come into Mom's home to give assistance even if she doesn't want it, but ultimately Mom has the right to kick them out (and insult them while she's at it), which I am pretty sure she would do

- private care is the full financial responsibility of the individual receiving help (or whoever will pay for it on her behalf). Mom won't agree to have help, so I can't see her agreeing to pay for it, and it's expensive enough that my brother and I can't pay for it without jeopardizing our own financial futures.

- our efforts to get Mom to sign an Enduring Power of Attorney, as suggested by the geriatric clinic, in order for my brother and I to use her money to pay for help, fell flatter than a non-leavened pancake. Despite repeated conversations about it, Mom refused. (She is remarkably cagey for someone who cannot remember where her pies are located in the grocery store. Note: they have not been moved in years.)  For those unfamiliar with an EPOA, the essence of it is that it allows a person to name one or more of what are called "Attorneys" to act on behalf of that person if he or she is incapacitated, either temporarily or permanently. If there is no EPOA and the person becomes incapacitated, the court must appoint someone to act on their behalf. The benefits of having an EPOA are that it is less expensive to have it drawn up by a lawyer than having it go through the court system, it is also faster, and you get to choose your representative instead of having one chosen for you. (None of those things swayed my mother.)

- Mom has good neighbours and a couple of understanding friends who try to keep in touch, but her neighbours already do so much for her (yard care, which I am trying to find someone to pay to do, with little luck so far, chatting with her, keeping an eye on her), and her friends have their own problems (health issues of their own or their spouses). I am reluctant to ask anyone to deal with my mother, especially if they are already doing what they can or have a significant burden of their own. There is no other family living within 1800 km of us except my two adult kids, neither of whom is in a position to help due to family and health considerations, and my brother.

- My brother lives a six-hour round trip by car from my mother and I. He has given freely of other kinds of help including financial advice (to me), doing our tax returns, mowing both our lawns, household repairs at Mom's house, and moral support for me. I am sure he would put aside his own responsibilities to come and stay with Mom for a bit if I asked him, but I see that as a last-ditch solution which would leave me feeling I had just used my emergency parachute and afterward there would be nothing at all in reserve for me to do to help myself, except . . . the next item below

- My truly, truly last-ditch solution would be to call Adult Protection Services. In order for them to take over, I was told by the geriatric clinician, I must essentially abandon my mom and all care for her. They will monitor her and they use certain markers or indicators to tell them if she is a danger to herself or others; for example, they will monitor her weight and if she loses a certain amount of weight in a certain amount of time, they take it as an indicator that she is unable to care for herself. The problem (again, told to me by the geriatric clinician) is that, in practice, a client of APS may need to lose a lot more weight in that time before the system kicks in and protects them from themselves. Similarly, putting herself in a situation that "could" be dangerous is not seen as reason enough to take someone into protection; they must have actively put themselves in danger (with witnesses) in order to have their freedom taken away.

I understand why the system protects people's independent living. I truly do. Don't we all want to have the choice of how we live as long as it's not hurting anyone else?

But there's the problem. When those who "live independently" do so only with support from those close to them (which is not truly independent living) and refuse the help of people who are paid to do it, whether that's through our taxes or by paying personally, it hurts their caregivers.

Please, Universe, make me not be like this when I get to the point I need care. Help me accept that it's time for the next chapter in my life, and that I cannot demand my freedom at the expense of the freedom of others.

I'm not relying on the Universe, though. I've already had my own EPOA drawn up, and it includes both financial and medical decisions.

Writing about this and knowing that people are listening and understanding is a huge help, for me at least. My family, my in-laws, my neighbours, Mom's neighbours, my co-workers, fellow bloggers and commenters all listen while I unload. Most of them have experience with dementia in some form, but all of them are generous with their time and kindness. I am so grateful for those people, beyond-words grateful. I also journal now, in an effort to unload less on those people, and on better days I also make a grateful list and I try to see the beauty and wonder around me, to take myself out of my headspace for even a few moments. Lately it has been a struggle to do that and I need to try harder, because it really can help.

But more and more I feel like my compassion and empathy are just drops in the bottom of a cup that is usually full but is now close to empty. It makes me dislike myself and dislike my mother. Every day, I start dreading the 8 pm visit around 4 pm, and it hangs over me like a dark cloud until it's over, at which point I feel completely empty. (I can't do the pill delivery earlier because of the timing of one of her pills.)

I know that many folks are in the same situation I'm in, or worse. Dementia is increasingly an issue in society, partly because we have cures for many diseases that wiped out people of earlier generations before they got to the point of developing dementia. And the situation will only escalate as the baby boomers like me get older and older. Capacity in nursing homes, assisted living, and independent living is failing to keep up with demand. Nursing homes in particular had an abysmal record of deaths during the pandemic (and Canada had one of the worse records, which I was shocked to find out), so families are understandably reluctant to put their loved ones in care, and trying to look after them at home. I subscribe to several Facebook accounts for caregivers - mostly caregivers of folks with dementia, and it is heartbreaking what I read there. People cannot afford to put their loved ones in care, or feel guilty doing so, and they are ruining their health and marriages and relationships with their own young children in order to look after their relatives. This is hugely detrimental to the family unit, to psychological health, to finances and job security, and to society as a whole, and when you get right down to it, it is detrimental to the patients as well. Everyone deserves to be treated with basic respect and care that allows them their dignity and a feeling of community, if they so wish it. (In some cases, people don't wish it, and that wish should be respected too.)

Well, it's been another mammoth read, so if you're still here, you really deserve more than these memes, but they're all I have to offer besides my sincere thank you. 

... which is now four years ago, but who's counting

This video is a voiceover, one of the better ones I've seen:

This video is innocently funny, with no questionable treatment of the animals involved (as I feel there sometimes is):


Have a good week, everyone. 

Saturday 12 August 2023

A Typical Visit with Mom, Plus a Fawn Update

I've mentioned more than once that my mom has dementia.

Dementia is frustrating enough on its own, and I am finding it a challenge with Mom because she won't accept any kind of government-provided home care for the things I currently do. Partly this is because she doesn't realize she needs help, but partly it's because of her personality. She has always been very independent and lived her life on her own terms.

Sometimes my frustration blooms into full-on resentment and sadness and feeling helpless and hopelesss that there will ever be an end to this thankless job, and I have to step back from all but the bare minimum of things I do to look after her. The bare minimum consists of taking her pills to her every evening and taking her out to buy groceries once a week. (If she runs out of milk or cookies or pie - three of her major food groups - during the week, I buy it and bring it to her at her pill visit instead.)

Sometimes I have enough energy to deal with the constant repetition, complaints, and questions for a longer period of time, and we will go for a drive and then stop for a take-out meal or buy a pre-made meal while getting our groceries and heat it up in the microwave at her house.

That's what we did today. Let me describe how this kind of visit usually goes. 

First, I put away her groceries. She is prone to setting a bag of groceries on a living room chair and forgetting about it, so this step is up to me.

Then I heat up our meal while she talks. I remind her to take off her jacket, put her purse away, and wash her hands. She has not used soap for the better part of two years, and I have learned that even wetting her hands under a running faucet is a win, so I have learned to shut up about the soap so as to avoid a tongue-lashing, and hope for the best.

When her food is hot, I remind her to sit down to eat. She may or may not do so the first time, but eventually she will get annoyed with me telling her and come to the table.

While we eat, she talks non-stop.

Today she pondered aloud about her granddaughter's belongings that have been in the basement for a few years (because her granddaughter lives a half a country away now and has only been here once recently due to the pandemic. That visit was last summer, and Mom was so confused she didn't know who the granddaughter was for the three days she was there, and wouldn't have understood why she was taking things from her basement). She pondered that four times.

She told me three times about the "creatures" (deer) she saw in her yard "this morning" (which she had already told me about at every visit, at least once per visit, since she actually saw them a week ago - I was there when it happened).

She asked me three times if I have ever been to my brother's house - a six hour round trip - which I actually have not, because I can't leave either my cats or my mother alone long enough to visit him.

She told me three times about the cards she gets in the mail from a fellow teacher she knew years ago (who she can no longer recall, usually refers to as a student, and complains she doesn't know what the writer is talking about). 

She asked me (surprisingly, only once this visit) whether she had ever told me about the plants growing "in" her deck (they are growing up between the boards of the deck). She has indeed told me that. Over and over.

All of these things are topics of conversation every time I visit her, which as I have mentioned is EVERY SINGLE FREAKING DAY AND TWICE ON GROCERY DAY.

I use the mealtime with her as a chance to do her dishes, although she is pretty good about keeping them washed as long as the weather isn't too warm. On the other hand, all she uses these days are mugs and glasses, and sometimes spoons to eat her pie, so it's not a big job.

When I leave her house, I generally take with me either clothing that needs washed, or - like today - things that are a hazard to her. She no longer even notices that I have anything in my hands. I used to have to smuggle things out in my pockets, such as used light bulbs or old batteries or moldy food, but now it is easier to do this one thing at least.

Today, my bag of goodies included:

- a partially used jar of jam from her cupboard. She has not used jam for months, and had two unopened jars plus one open one in her fridge. Somehow, she decided that the opened jar should be in the cupboard and moved it there. I have no idea how long it was there, but since I'm the one who would be called to come and usher her through a bout of food poisoning, I decided to play it safe and remove it.

- a partially eaten piece of cheese on her counter. She might or might not have planned to put it in the compost bin later, but ditto about the food poisoning.

- a plate that had a large sliver broken off one side. I have no idea where the sliver is.

- a dishcloth that I used the last time I washed her dishes. I try to take these home regularly and wash/sanitize them because I realized she was using them for dishes and the floor. Yep.

- the container our pre-made meal had come in. I could have washed it and put it in her recycle bag but chances are that she would notice it (don't ask me how, but she does) and drill me with questions about where it came from and why it's in her recycle bag, and then blame the neighbours for putting it there when she was out for a walk.

I am about to lose my mind, people. Thank you for listening. I know that the endless repetition, complaining, and memory problems are a result of the dementia, but I don't know how to listen to it day after day without a break and without going mad. I wish she would allow someone to come to her house, even a couple of times a week, to listen to her or perhaps take her on an outing, but she refuses completely. Recently she was complaining about the stress she was under, and when I asked her what was stressing her out, she said that everybody was trying to tell her what to do, and she just wants to live her life doing what she wants to do. There was no point in me saying that "doing what she wants to do" affects other people in her life, because she would want to know why, and then say that she doesn't need anyone else's help. It's a closed conversational loop and a fruitless exercise.


Anyway, I also want to update you on the two little fawns that I wrote about a few weeks ago. Here they are, in a video and a photo, taken an hour ago out my front window. The fawn on the left was just off the front walkway, within ten feet of my front door.

And here's one more video from when the mama came back to collect her babies and then went through my neighbour's back yard. See the babies bound up to her and try to nurse (at 19 sec), and see mama not having any of that :)


I hope you all have a good week. And just once, when people are getting on your nerves, I wish you the strength to say "I'm not having any of that" ....