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Saturday, 2 July 2022

A Suitable Name

I remember when I was a child reading a fairy tale about a princess who had to make something or other with stinging nettles and I could just tell that it wasn't a pleasant job. It said as much right in the book; the stinging nettles stung her hands.

I've just Googled "fairy tale nettles" and yes, there it is, the story of The Wild Swans. It's got a wicked stepmother, a banished princess, magic, accusations of witchcraft, more magic, and those stinging nettles -- and, of course, swans. There is more than one version, but the Danish one by Hans Christian Anderson, seems to be the one I read when I was little. 

In it, the princess' brothers are changed into swans by the wicked stepmother, and the only way they can change back is if the princess makes shirts for them from stinging nettles. With one thing and another, she is accused of witchcraft and is about to be burned at the stake, but she doggedly works on those shirts until the last moment, flings them over the swans to change them back into her brothers,  and brings about a happy ending.

I wondered if stinging nettles were a real plant, because there's a lot of made-up stuff in fairy tales. Also, I'd never heard anyone in my little world talk about stinging nettles as something that lived in our province or even our country. So the question just sat in the back of my mind for something like fifty years until the internet came along, and also blogging, and I started finding references in other countries to stinging nettles as FOOD -- although, to be sure, you must cook the leaves and stems if you do not wish to have heck in your mouth.

Well, guess what I ran into in my own yard a few weeks ago, and again yesterday? Yes, you get a gold star.

Both times I was weeding and found them with my hands, which had predictable results. I was wearing thin plastic gloves which I use instead of my heavy gloves for many gardening jobs because they are less clumsy and keep my hands cleaner than no gloves at all. Both times, I spent twenty-four hours regretting it.

The first time I was stung, for reasons I no longer remember but can guess at (4x daily trips to my mom's for eye drops, for example) I promptly forgot about it. I forgot to check the internet to see if we even have stinging nettles in Nova Scotia. I forgot to wonder if there were more plants in my yard. I forgot what it looked like. I forgot to wear heavier gloves when pulling weeds again. I forgot that I ever got hurt.

Yesterday it happened all over again. My thumb hurt so badly I couldn't use it and even though I didn't use it, it still hurt. I was so affronted I quit weeding and spent the day on the computer. One of the first things I did was Google stinging nettles and sure enough, we got 'em. They apparently spread through their roots, or you can buy them for $4.00 Canadian for several hundred seeds if you are so inclined.

What I was inclined to do was go outside with my thick gloves and dig up that plant and any others that looked like it and lay them in the sun to shrivel up, after which I used my thick gloves to wrap them in newspaper and placed them carefully in the compost bin for pickup.

Here is pictorial evidence, by the way:

 

Growing right under my nose



 
Ye shall grow no more, wicked plant

 

Do  you have stinging nettles where you live?

Have you ever gotten stung?

Have you ever eaten stinging nettles?

Are you an adventurous eater?

What is the most adventurous thing you have ever eaten?

 


Friday, 1 July 2022

Holiday Thoughts from Canada

Many folks are finding the events of the past few years and especially the past few months to be weird, strange, scary and depressing. It's hard to process how quickly and how badly democracy has been slipping in the world. It's easy to feel there is nothing to be done except plug our ears and yell "I'm not listening!"

But there are things we can do.

If you are on the side of democracy, realize that voting is like a lot of other things.

Just because you do it once doesn't mean you never have to do it again.

Every election is important, at every level of government, every single time.

There is no such thing as "democracy is safe now, so I can relax". Or, "I trust those running our county/town/province/state/country, so I don't have to think about policy or issues anymore".

Because the person/party not currently in power is spending plenty of time and energy figuring out how to get back into power.

If you don't want that to happen, you have to be on your toes, with your ears and eyes open and your brain engaged, all the time.

One thing you can do right now, even if there is no election imminent at the local, regional or national level where you live, is to make sure you are registered to vote.

If you aren't registered already, start the process now. If you aren't sure if you're registered, find out. If you're going to be out of the area or country when the next election hits, figure out now how you can vote early or from a distance. If you wait until the election is upon you, it may be too late.

And if you know anyone who is not registered, find out why. If you can help them, please help. If they don't think voting is important, help them understand why it is and what's at stake.

If you are unclear on these things, read up on them or find YouTube channels or podcasts which help explain.

One YouTube channel I've started watching is Brian Tyler Cohen, a liberal activist whose YouTube videos are brief, knowledgeable, and well-presented, and whose podcasts are longer but also interesting and I say that as someone who doesn't usually like podcasts. Don't be put off by his video titles; I think he's trying to catch readers' attention. If you like what you hear, subscribe (for free) and like his videos. That helps to ensure his videos appear on more YouTube watchers' screens. And tell your friends. (Warning: occasional strong language.)

On a recent podcast, Cohen interviewed Fred Guttenberg, the father of a girl killed in the mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida high school. Guttenberg is now an activist for gun reform in the U.S. and his thoughts and advice are moving and empowering. He explains why it's important to vote at every level for every public office, and what the stakes are.

You don't have to live in the United States to subscribe or give videos a "like", but those actions can help drive the algorithm that suggests videos for YouTube watchers, including Americans.

That's my public service announcement for today . . . which is Canada Day in my country. It's not just a day for me to write about parades and fireworks and strawberry shortcake to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of Canada; it's also a day to reflect on how lucky I am to live in a democracy and also how fragile democracy is and what I can do to help make sure it survives.

Oh, Canada! I stand on guard for thee. (from our national anthem)

Or at least I try.




 


Tuesday, 28 June 2022

The World of Mom

This blog is in danger of turning into a blog about my mother and the dementia that rules both our lives. I don't want that to happen.

But occasionally something funny will happen. Sort of funny. Okay, funny and frustrating in equal measure.

And I am here to inflict it on you.

My mother wears slippers something like these, but in a tan colour and in much clearer focus:

Giving new meaning to the phrase "fuzzy slippers"

 

 

Never mind that they are completely unsupportive of her poor, bunion-deformed feet; they are what she wants to wear and have I ever mentioned that my mother is contrary an independent thinker?

So when the bottom started wearing off one of her current slippers, I started hunting for a replacement pair.

The reality of living in a small town where retailers have melted away over the years means that I had two stores to buy from, WalMart and the dollar store. The upside of buying dollar store slippers, by the way, is that no two pairs are exactly the same length, due - I assume - to quality control issues. Because dollar store quality.

Since the dollar store slippers cost only $3, I bought the two pair that looked largest for their stated size and took them home for her to try on.

She tried the first pair on and they fit!

But they were pink, so she wouldn't wear them because she didn't want to get them dirty.

The other pair, which was black, did not fit; they were just a bit too short.

I went back to the dollar store and bought another two pair, both in dark colours. They had gotten fresh supplies in and there were more to choose from.

Neither pair fit.

So then I went to WalMart and bought another black pair in her usual size and a pair in a larger size.

The usual size was too short and the larger ones fell off when she walked.

Finally the bottom fell off her old slipper completely, and she was walking on the felt inner layer, which was very slippery. After some heated arguing back and forth I took she allowed me to take those slippers home to put in the garbage (I was afraid if I left them in her garbage she would dig them back out and take a fall while wearing them) and she found an old, too-short pair of slippers in her closet to wear until ... well, until a miracle happened, I guess.

Meanwhile, I had the bright idea that if I washed the too-short WalMart slippers and then put a slightly larger pair of shoes inside them while they dried, they might stretch enough to fit.

Today I took the stretched slippers to her to try on.

First I heard the story (and I can assure you it was not for the first or even the hundredth time) of how she is left-handed and therefore needs a larger shoe for her left foot and she has always had to buy her left shoes specially made (note: she has not) and where did I buy these slippers anyhow because she bought her last ones at the dollar store and they were the best slippers ever and the cashier gave her a third slipper because it was just lying around and the woman said she might as well have it. (I have actually looked in her closet for a third slipper to match the others but failed to find it.)

As she was talking, she was trying on the slippers.

At first she said they were too short. She was still sitting, and her feet were jammed forward in them, so I suggested she try walking in them.

Instead, she said maybe if she switched them to the opposite feet they might fit. Which she did. And they didn't.

The left one was still too short. Cue the story of the dollar store slippers again.

I suggested again that she try walking in them. Again she responded by switching the slippers to the opposite feet.

Still too short. What are the odds, people? Cue the story of the dollar store slippers AGAIN.

Finally she switched the slippers to the opposite feet again and announced that . . . THEY FIT!!!

It was like a comedy routine except my head hurt by the time we were done.

I am under no illusion that the slipper saga is over yet, and fully expect that when I visit her at suppertime to do her eye drops she will be wearing the old ones and trash-talking the new ones. Meanwhile, a perfectly-fitting pair of pink slippers languishes in her closet.

Also in footwear-related topics, the geriatric doctor has just recommended she be fitted for supportive shoes for indoor and outdoor use.

Another hurdle to jump. She doesn't believe in indoor shoes, because slippers are easier to put on and shoes track in dirt. You and I both know that the solution to the dirt problem is to buy two pair, one for inside and one for outside. But it will be hard enough to get her to buy one pair, let alone two.

The geriatric doctor likes to tell caregivers that they can blame him for anything the dementia patient gets upset over. He chuckles indulgently and says he doesn't mind being the bad guy. I refrain from telling him that my mother doesn't give a sweet care about whether he says to do something or not.

She is, my friends, an independent thinker.

*****


Funnies! Let us have some.

Today's theme is signs, because all the signs above point to Donkey having a mental breakdown and I want to replace those signs with better ones.

(I believe El Arroyo is a Texas restaurant. I don't know how the food is but the sign person is to be commended.)




























*****

Hope you're having a good week, in spite of the craziness that's going on in the world.


 

 

Thursday, 23 June 2022

Dagnabit, Blogger! I Think I'll Have Me a Meltdown ...

I'm not the only person to blog about the recent commenting issues in Blogger, and I'm far from the only one experiencing them.

First, there's the problem of commenting on other peoples' blogs. As I mentioned in another post, I've found a workaround for that. I just click on a different tab, then go back to the blog tab, and -- magically -- I can comment. Hopefully this has worked for some of you, too.

Then there's the problem of other people commenting on my blog.

Sometimes the comments end up in Spam, and sometimes they just do not appear at all until I refresh the Comments page. In the second scenario, they may be buried far down the page, and the only way to identify them is to hover the mouse over the right side of every comment, and either a trash icon or a check mark will appear. If the check mark appears, the comment is not yet published on the blog. (Click on it to publish it.) See new UPDATE below ...

A number of you are ending up in limbo this way, and I don't see your comments until the next time I refresh the page. I'm sorry for the delay in finding you, and I'll try to refresh more often so I catch your comments right away.

This problem also means my replies may not include comments in the order in which they came in. I do try to answer all comments, so if you don't see it where you expect, keep reading and you'll hopefully see my reply further down the page.

Dagnabit, Blogger -- if you're going to "fix" or "upgrade" or whatever you set out to do, is it too much to ask that you not break something else in the process??

UPDATE: In the comments today, Leanna has posted an easier way to see the comments awaiting moderation. I've copy/pasted her comment below. Thanks, Leanna :)

" In the Comments area above all the comments, there is a thingy that says "All" and there should be a number of the total comments that have been posted in parentheses with an "arrow" pointing down. If you click on the little arrow a popup box will appear and it shows you how many comments are there for you to click to post. It also shows how many spam comments are still waiting. Just click on the numbers next to awaiting moderation or spam and they will show up in the comment feed for you to look at."

Also, I want to say that River, who writes the blog Drifting through life, did a great tutorial on this recently (here) and she said the exact same thing as Leanna ... and I missed it because I thought I already knew the information. Shame on me ... thanks, River, for that tutorial.

*****

Clearly, I am in a mood the last few days. 

We are on the home stretch with my mother's eye drops. There are just under seven days' worth of visits left, or 26 visits, to be precise. I feel like a boxer who has gone nine rounds and is trying to stay on his/her feet to get through the tenth round. Is that a correct analogy? I used to watch boxing with my dad when I was younger, before I realized what a terrible sport it is. But that's a whole 'nother discussion, isn't it.

So, getting back to my mood. We need some funnies, stat.

 I actually have a theme this time around that fits my mood: Toddler Meltdowns!! If you read the first one you'll understand that the rest are replies to her tweet.

 


    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




 



















 

 

*****

I hope you have a great week, and if that's not possible and you must have a meltdown, please make it  as epic as these toddlers made theirs 😆



Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Dementia: At Home & Abroad

An interesting thought occurred to me recently, as I consider my mother's dementia and how it affects her behavior.

These days it is common for her to make statements that are unsupported by facts.

For instance, she will say that she has been deaf in one ear since birth. The thing is, she has NOT been deaf since birth. She suffered a punctured eardrum as a result of a bobby pin gone awry when she was a young married woman. Her hearing was somewhat reduced as a result, but she became really hard of hearing in that ear only in the past ten years or so. (I am assuming that the information she gave me during my lifetime up until her dementia began are the "real" facts.) I don't try to correct her because it doesn't really matter how she became hard of hearing; it only matters that anyone talking to her knows they must speak loudly and clearly.

A different example of a statement not supported by facts is when she says that she doesn't need her medications because she feels fine. She takes medication for blood pressure, stomach issues, and myoclonic seizures. Of course she feels fine, because the medications are controlling her medical conditions. It is frustrating to discuss this over and over with her, because she cannot follow the logic, but she needs to keep taking these medications to have the best quality of life possible. Additionally, if she were to refuse these medications, and then her symptoms returned, guess who she would call, who would be going to her house (in the middle of the night if the past is any indication), arranging for a trip to outpatients by ambulance, or sitting with her in the waiting room for hours to see a doctor? That makes it extra frustrating for me when she starts talking about not taking her pills anymore.

There are numerous other examples of my mom's dementia making conversations difficult and frustrating. But the thing is, SHE HAS DEMENTIA. She can no longer understand what is fact and what is not. If she feels it's a fact, it is a fact in her mind.

What is the excuse of 30% of the citizens of the United States who still believe, in spite of facts, that the 2020 election was stolen by President Biden? *


* Percentage quoted by David Becker of The Center for Election Innovation & Research, in a CBC interview circa June 21, 2022. The percentage remains unchanged as the facts of January 6, 2021 are laid out by witnesses at the hearings now being televised.

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

Coffee, Tea, Chocolate, and Me

I mentioned in my last post that I don't drink coffee, although I'd like to do so because of the caffeine boost which would come in handy at times. 

I have drunk coffee in the past, and tea as well, but they don't agree with me. There are a few other things that don't agree with me, too, but after being diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome a few years ago and cutting out certain things (caffeine, including chocolate, and -- the worst one by far -- sugar alcohols, used in sugar-free gum and other foods), I felt so much better.

As I also mentioned in  my last post, I do break out the chocolate from time to time and if I don't overdo it, I'm okay.

The fact that I can't drink coffee doesn't mean I have to avoid coffee memes, though.

 








 

 

 

 

 

A different caption for the same picture. People are endlessly inventive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


And a couple I've used but really like, so I'll repeat them just so I have all my coffee memes in one place. Yes, I might be a bit . . . what's the word I want here? organized??? yes, that's a nice way to put it . . . ha ha ha . . .

 

Probably more than $5 now, with recent inflation

 

 





 

 

 

*****

My hot drink of choice now is hot milk and water, mixed half and half. I tell myself I'm helping to ward off osteoporosis. Sometimes when I'm feeling festive I put some hot chocolate powder in it.

What's your favourite hot drink? Please note: a hot toddy definitely counts.

 

  

Saturday, 11 June 2022

Building a Rocket Ship; or, Time to Make My Blogpost Titles More Interesting

I had a long post all ready but realized I was just venting (again) about my mother and the stress of providing care for her as her dementia progresses and she becomes increasingly hard to deal with and (ouch) condescending toward me whenever I try to do so.

There, I said it all in just one sentence. And I'll leave it at that.

On to other things.

The countdown for Mom's eye drops, because I just know you're dying to be updated, is currently at 70 visits remaining. I'm running on a sleep deficit and finding it hard to function. Yesterday I broke down and bought a bag of chocolate chips and ate a considerable number. Within two hours I had so much energy I could have built a house or even a rocket ship (take that, Elon Musk) with nothing but my bare hands and dandelion stalks. I sure wish I could drink coffee and feel like that every day. Strangely, the caffeine in chocolate doesn't bother me like coffee does, but there's the little matter of the calories to contend with, so I've been trying to cut back on chocolate. But, oh, what a rush to eat it after not having any for a while.

I'm in the process of selling our cottage property, which had fallen into disrepair over the past twenty years due to lack of time and money to attend to it. It should be straightforward, but, like everything else, it seems, it isn't straightforward at all. There are relatives to consider and multiple quotes to get and cottage neighbours to placate and a sense of personal loss of a place that meant the world to my husband.

I'm also trying to make a difficult personal decision about a legal matter my husband began in 2018. It is only now reaching the next stage of the process and I have no standing to continue unless I am legally named as representative of his estate. It will cost to have that done and I'm not sure whether it would be worth it. The one lawyer I talked to was less helpful than I had hoped for, and the one person whose advice I want the most is my husband, which is impossible and therefore depressing.

Although I will not vent about my mother, I will mention that this week she had a dental appointment and we both survived. She has been telling me for ages that she had dental implants put in many years ago, and she wanted them checked out. I couldn't see any teeth that looked like implants, although I could see a bridge and remembered her talking about having it done back when I could trust what she was telling me. I made a dental appointment for her last fall but she refused to go when the time came. I figured it was worth another shot when she started talking about it again. She almost bailed on me this time, too, because she didn't want to spend any money on her teeth (trust me, she can afford it), but I told her if it was more than X dollars, I'd pay the extra. That offended her enough that she went ahead with it. It turns out she does indeed have a bridge but no implants (although I'm not going to be the one to try to change her mind about that), and her teeth are in reasonably good shape except for a tiny cavity which I'll encourage her to have fixed but am not worried about. So, WHEW, big sigh of relief to have that over with.

My Lucy kitty's vet appointment for next Monday had to be postponed due to the vet getting Covid. Yikes. It's everywhere. Lucy and I will continue to limp along (both literally and figuratively) until the new appointment in two weeks' time. Hopefully no other vets or staff will be infected and lead to a further postponement.

I have work deadlines I am struggling to meet. I've been working exclusively from home and it has affirmed what I already knew, which is that I am horrible at self-discipline. The worst part is that the cats always seem to come meowing at me whenever I just get settled to work.

Okay, the worst part is actually me and my lack of self-discipline. Sorry for blaming you, kitties.

Just a couple of memes today that speak to me. Like, hollering loudly in my ear.









So, how was your week and if you wanted to encapsulate it in a blogpost title, what is the most outrageous way you could do it?

I hope the upcoming week is a good one for you.

 

 

 

 

Saturday, 4 June 2022

Countdown and Other Stuff

My mother had her second cataract surgery yesterday and now the countdown is on for a return to what passes for normal life here.

Once again, I have to go to her house four times a day for four weeks to put in her eyedrops, as she is unable to follow instructions due to her dementia. That is 112 trips to her house, just to save you from doing the multiplication. We started the day before her surgery, as per instructions. As of this hour, there are 103 trips left. Ha.

Last evening Mom's eye was quite red and bothering her, but this morning it looked almost back to normal and she said it felt good. She never had that problem with the first eye, so I was worried last night, but today I was relieved to see the improvement. Now the hard part is over for her, and, as she said with evident relief when we left the hospital yesterday, "I'm glad I only have two eyes!" (And then said it a few more times on the way home. Because dementia.)

Me, too, Mom.

ME TOO 😄

*****

We've been having an unusually cool spring, except for a couple of very warm days. Let me be clear that I'm not complaining, because I know the hot and humid weather will eventually arrive and I much prefer the cooler temperatures.

But, dagnabit, whatever happened to moderate temperatures in spring? Must we go directly from winter jackets and boots to T-shirts and shorts overnight?? 

Oops, I think that counts as complaining after all. The court will please strike that from the record.

*****

My grey kitty with the beautiful green eyes, Meredith, is still hanging in there. If you recall, she was diagnosed with a tumour in her chest that is pushing on her heart, and was supposed to have just months to live. That was late last year. I try to give her extended time every day to do the thing she most likes to do, which is to fall asleep on my chest while I am lying down. I usually fall asleep too, and I'm a little surprised I haven't suffocated yet. Have I mentioned that she weighs sixteen pounds and prefers to be right under my chin?

*****

My multi-coloured kitty, Lucy, who also has beautiful green eyes although a completely different kind of green, is also determined to have her time with me each day. Meredith and Lucy must be kept separate from each other, so I usually spend my reading time with Lucy because I have already had my nap time with Meredith. Lucy has started curling up behind my knees, purring like crazy. This sounds like typical cat behavior but Lucy has not been a typical cat. She has always been quick to bite first and ask questions later, minus the asking questions later part. "You may pat me, but for only four and one quarter pats" kind of thing. And her bite is vicious. Once I had to take antibiotics after she bit me. To be fair to her, it was at a vet visit where she had a sore hip and the vet was manipulating her joint while I held her still at the bitey end. I became super careful after that.

Lucy has to visit the vet again later this month because she has been limping. It takes forever to get a vet appointment here since the pandemic arrived, unless it's an emergency. This appointment was made over a month in advance. At the same time, prices have gone up. But I don't think other vet practices are any different. They are all facing shortages of vets and vet techs, and an increase in the number of animals they care for. So we will persevere with them.

*****

Did I mention I've been having trouble with my left knee? It's hard to get doctor appointments, so I bypassed the doctor and went straight to physio. The first set of exercises were okay, but then the physiotherapist gave me new exercises which were much more rigorous. I didn't have any trouble doing them, but the next day I had a lot and I mean A LOT of pain. It took two weeks for my knee to return to the usual hurt instead of the hella hurt. And then, of course, I was afraid to do them again, it was that bad, and I never did get around to talking to the physio person, because I wasn't finding her too helpful anyhow and the appointments are expensive. In the meantime I made a doctor appointment which, like Lucy's vet appointment, had to be made over a month in advance. I thought that might cure my knee, but it hasn't yet. There's still time, though 😀

*****

So there you have it. The minutiae of my life. I'm treading water but I haven't drowned yet. Another "Ha".

You get ten gold stars if you're still reading.

Time for a few memes before I go get ready to visit my mom again.

 

 






 




Hope you're functioning well this week. And if not, this meme's especially for you: