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" ....

Monday 24 July 2023

Hurricane, Wildfire, and now . . . Flood

It makes me wonder what's coming next - an earthquake? a plague of locusts?

Nova Scotia has been hit by another disaster, the third in less than a year.

First was Hurricane Fiona last September. Then the wildfires in May and June.

Last Friday the sky opened and dropped over 250 mm of rain in central NS, much of which came in less than seven hours.

Luckily, I live in a different part of NS and we had hard rain but not to the extent central NS had.

However, my son lives in the hard-hit area. The basement of his residence flooded. He had to get the power company to shut off the electricity (it's hot and humid here). There is no way in or out of his area at the current time. Many roads and bridges are still under water. The tides kept the water levels high. It is hoped that the water may recede tomorrow. Only then will the full extent of damage be known. 

Four people are missing: two children, one youth, and one adult. I'm surprised the number wasn't higher, but feel for the families. Their lives have changed forever.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know what's going on. 

(Climate change. THAT is what's going on.)

Here is a little map with more info on the rainfall: (sorry it's not bigger)

Source: Ryan Snoddon, Meterologist (Facebook)

I hope the coming week will treat you well.


Friday 23 June 2023

Why Things Have Been Crazy Here

(Warning: Very long post today. I thought about breaking it into two parts but just wanted to get it out of my head today while I have time.)

Last post I mentioned how crazy things have been here lately. Here's the main reason why.

A few weeks ago, my mother (who is 93, lives alone, and has moderate dementia) decided on a new activity: going for walks to the grocery store. The grocery store is almost a kilometre from her house, and there has been construction along the main street of the route she would take to get there. The town is replacing sewer lines, which requires the use of heavy equipment. Various streets have been barricaded and there are detours around them. The detour routes change every few days as construction  proceeds, and you need to be able to follow the detour signs and read the barricade signs.

Luckily, Mom has very kind and alert neighbours, and they have been able to intercept her before she gets too far. One time, one of them followed her for a bit to see how she was doing before making their presence known. Mom had gone past the barricades and was walking where the sidewalk was closed. Fortunately, the machinery wasn't actively operating at the time.

Every time the neighbours notice Mom walking further than the end of her block, they call me and I drop whatever I am doing and go take her for a drive or something else to keep her occupied. I'm concerned that her judgement has deteriorated to a point where she is no longer safe living alone. Even on days when I have planned to take her on an outing, she will go for a walk before I get there or after I have taken her back to her house. So it seems impossible to keep her safe because I can't be with her during all daylight hours.

In case I haven't sufficiently described my mother's general behavior here before, I will summarize now: she is contrary and always needs to be right. This is not caused by the dementia; it's a pre-existing trait (although dementia has made it worse). Her idea of conversation has always been to take issue with things other people say and argue against them. Although I am able to stick up for myself and will do so when needed, I don't understand arguing as a way of conversing with people. I like conversation to be conducted in a pleasant way, finding humour whenever possible and learning from each other when we don't agree. The one time I confronted my mother about her behavior, she defended it by saying it was just "debating" and that she enjoyed it. I know other people who converse the same way, so she is not alone in her view, but you get the idea: we are not alike and do not enjoy the same kind of interaction.

Since her cognitive decline began in earnest two years ago, Mom has refused to accept help except mine or my brother's. She NEEDS help with a number of things. For those two years, she has been unable to manage her medications. We tried a pill box, then pre-packaged pills from the pharmacy. Nothing helped, so I started taking her pills to her each day. She became unable to make or remember appointments, and didn't know what to do when she received bills in the mail. So I started helping her manage her appointments and bills. Her driving ability was becoming a concern - in general because of her memory loss and in particular because she got lost driving home from my house to hers (just a couple of streets away). Fortunately, her car needed repairs and the garage told her it wasn't worth fixing, so that took driving off the table. But her lack of a car meant I had to start taking her for groceries each week. She wouldn't take a taxi because of Covid. Now, two years later, she needs help at the grocery store as well, so hiring a taxi is still not an option.

I understood all along that getting out only once a week was hard for her, so I tried to include her in some of my other errands and take her for outings, but it never seemed to be enough. She was a little more content in the winter and on rainy days, but nice days brought out her restlessness. Last summer she worked it off in her yard, cleaning up weeds and old leaves. This year, she has done much less of that, because she worries about falling on the lawn.

Thus the decision to start walking to the grocery store. She wants the exercise and feels safe walking on the sidewalk. She thinks the store is just at the bottom of her street. She also thinks the mall, a ten minute drive away, is just a few streets away, and talks about walking to a neighbouring town where she grew up, saying it's not that far, when in reality it's a twenty-minute drive.

This has led to some exasperating, unpleasant, and loud conversations between us. She feels she is completely capable, both physically and mentally, of making the walk (the very nature of dementia means the patient doesn't have the ability to understand that there is anything wrong with their brain), and doesn't like being housebound without a car.

I understand her boredom - she is no longer interested in or able to do nearly all the things she used to do to pass the time. She doesn't read, she doesn't do crosswords or Sudoku, she doesn't watch TV, she doesn't make meals or bake, she doesn't do housework or laundry or yardwork. Basically, she eats, washes dishes, and walks to the compost bin several times a day. 

I've asked her to accept outside help to give me a break, hoping to appeal to her helpful side (which does exist, although less so as the disease progresses), but she simply says she doesn't need help and if I don't want to visit every day, then don't visit every day. If I bring up the need for daily pill visits and buying groceries, she simply tells me to stay home and that she will manage her own pills and can walk to the grocery store. 

One day she wanted to know why I thought she couldn't do those things. After telling her that it was hard to explain without hurting her feelings, and that I didn't want to do that, she said she wanted me to be honest about it. So I tried. I told her she had a brain disease that affected her memory, like a man we both know (and who she has repeatedly told me has something wrong with his brain). Predictably, she denied she has the same problem.

She is considered competent to make her own decisions until a doctor declares her otherwise. She is seeing a geriatric doctor twice a year, but he apparently doesn't make declarations of competency unless it's a crisis. Competency is to be determined by the family doctor. Mom hasn't had a family doctor for two years now, like the 150,000 other Nova Scotians who have lost doctors or live in under-served areas.

When Mom started her recent walkabouts, I asked the geriatric clinic for a re-assessment because I felt surely they would understand the danger she poses to herself. They said there was no change since the last assessment and unless she directly puts herself in the line of traffic there is no crisis. My brother was here for moral support and to try to impress on the clinician that I am burnt out and to ask what we can do if the geriatric doctor won't declare any of his patients incompetent and Mom doesn't have a family doctor to do it. 

Her answer? My brother needs to "step up" more. 

He lives three hours away (one way). He still works and has other obligations. He has always been available for me to talk to and to vent to (two completely different things), and tries to support me however he can, not just for mom's issues but for my own too. He does repairs for Mom when he visits, and has given me practical help including cleanup after the hurricane last fall. I don't know what more they expect him to do. (I wasn't present at the conversation between him and the clinician or I would have asked.)

I feel a strong urge to tell her - or, more precisely, tell the geriatric doctor - that it's the doctor that needs to "step up" and do his job.

The clinician's only other suggestion was to apply to the courts for guardianship. This is a lengthy and expensive process, and we still need a doctor to sign a letter of competence. Another dead end. 

The ironic thing is that I believe Mom would enjoy having a care worker come to her home or even living in a care home. She loves to talk (and debate) and telling her life stories is one of the few activities she still has enthusiasm for. But she still thinks she is totally capable of taking care of her home, making meals, and doing personal care. She also thinks care homes are places where people are lying in bed and lose the use of their legs. She doesn't follow (and I think sometimes doesn't want to follow) the logic that some people are in bed without the use of their legs simply because they have gotten too feeble or ill to walk and that's precisely why they're there. She won't believe us that care homes provide different levels of care now than they used to. While she is probably not safe in the first level of care (assisted living), she would still have a fair amount of independence in the next level of care, one step down from full care.

So . . . for now and the foreseeable future, I am chained to providing at least basic care for her. I wouldn't mind so much if our time together was agreeable. But it is mostly not. I know this is partly the nature of dementia, but it is also very much her personality, is consistent with her lifelong behavior, and is very wearing to deal with. The time since my husband died has been hard enough without this. I don't mean to sound full of self-pity, but some days I am at my wits' end. I've had to refuse work at my job because I can't be sure of meeting deadlines, I've had to cancel my own medical appointments, and I never seem to have any energy for my own life. 

That's pretty much the story here, the reason why stressing over the fawn in my yard was almost too much to bear. Stress from different sources builds and builds, and it can take something seemingly unrelated to bring it to a point of being overwhelming. 

If you made it this far, thank you for reading. 

Here's a cat who embodies everything I feel these days. I wish I looked half as cute being miserable.

Please take care of yourselves and have a good weekend.

Wednesday 21 June 2023

The Wild Things - Part 3

Nine days ago, my brother was mowing my lawn for me (long story but basically the grass was very long because things have been crazy here and he was giving me a hand) and then he came in the house to say we had a problem.

The problem was a very tiny fawn hiding in the long grass beside the foundation of my house.

For nine days now, I have watched that fawn from my bedroom two stories above, and worried about it and tried to see if it was breathing and if it was dehydrated and if it was trembling or if it was just doing what little fawns do and keeping nice and still. I've read that fawns who may appear abandoned are not usually abandoned, the mother is just putting them in a safe place and will come back to nurse them several times over a 24-hour period. Sometimes they will leave them for 12-16 hours at a time, because of activity or unusual noise in the area. The mother does that to keep her baby safe, because prey can smell her but they can't smell the fawn because it doesn't have scent glands yet.

But I was still worried.

(Have you ever thought, that Donkey worries a lot? You'd be right if you did.)

I worried because I didn't see the mother around for more than 12 hours. I worried because I could hear the baby calling for its mother from time to time, with no result. Then I worried because I saw a mother and a bigger fawn come into our back yard; both fawns nursed but when the bigger one was done, the mother walked away and didn't let the little one nurse any longer. It was crying and trying to run after her but she ignored it. I imagined the hunger pangs of the tiny fawn and lectured the mother about being an uncaring parent (I did that part from inside the house so she wouldn't actually hear me).

Then I realized that she probably wasn't the mother of the smaller fawn. Their sizes were just too different to have been born at the same time, even assuming the little one was a runt. So I worried that its mother had been killed or had indeed abandoned it. I worried because we were having a lot of heat in the daytime, and a lot of cold at night, and a lot of rain mixed in there too, and every night the little fawn would be curled in a tight circle in its little nest in the tall grass. (I checked every night with a flashlight, briefly, from my bedroom window.)

Seriously, on top of all the other crazy going on here, the stress was really getting to me.

Yesterday, the bigger fawn and its mother were back, and the mom left the big fawn parked beside the smaller one for many hours. Both fawns were in their hiding spots when I went to bed last night. This morning the little fawn was gone and the bigger one was still here. Tonight they are both gone.

I have questions.

Was there ever a second mother? Did the one adult female which was here adopt a fawn that was not her own? Where did the fawns go this evening? Is the tiny one going to be okay? Will I ever know?

Sometimes I truly hate Nature. That usually happens when I am forced to confront the harshness of life for wild animals. They are at the mercy of the weather and predators. An unusually cold night can mean the end of a newborn. Yet we rarely see those things happen, so we go about our lives blissfully unaware.


In other wildlife news, I hadn't seen the local raccoon in a while but then one night there were not one but two raccoons in my yard. One was big and one was little. The little one was cornered up a tree (can you corner someone "up a tree" or only in a corner?) It was squealing in a way that made me think this was not a mating ritual but a genuine fight, likely a fight over territory. In any case, I threw some things in their general direction to make them stop whatever they were doing, and it worked. (Don't worry, I have terrible aim; I was just trying to make enough noise to persuade them move on.) I haven't seen ANY raccoons since, but if I have to be outside at night I try to keep my wits about me, just in case.


Remember I said I had two mice living in the abandoned BBQ on my back deck? One day when my son was visiting, I asked him to help me have a look inside. And by help, I mean I didn't want to be alone when I looked because I was afraid they might have frozen stiff over the winter and then broiled in the hot days we have occasionally had this spring. Imagine our surprise (not) to see the adults AND several babies in there too. At some point we will move their nest into the brush pile at the back of the yard. But I can't stop thinking about those raccoons. A mouse would make a lovely lunch for them. I'm thinking of putting the whole BBQ in the back of the yard (to protect the mice) but the neighbours already take exception to the piles of branches that have been there since the hurricane-like event back in September, so I'm not sure an old BBQ would be popular.

Sometimes I truly hate Nature. Oh, have I already said that??


Fawn pictures!

I took the first few pictures from ground level but then I smartened up and stayed away. Isn't the height of that grass scary? I told my neighbours about the fawn so they would understand.

Taken from two floors up.

The same picture as above, just enlarged.

And enlarged again.

On one of its rare forays around the yard, calling for its mother.

Big and little. They look somewhat similar in size from above, but can you see the difference in their leg length? The large one is nearly twice as big as the little one.


I still haven't had time to try to download the picture of the raccoon. I took it with an old phone, whereas the photos above were taken with my digital camera, which can reliably download but it's getting old and needs charged almost every time I use it.

I hope you're doing well and aren't worrying too much about All The Things like I tend to. If you are, take a few steady breaths and try to clear away all those thoughts for even five minutes. It will help.



Saturday 3 June 2023

Fire and Rain

 Hello, people.

If you follow world news, you may already know about the wildfires in Canada.

Alberta has been burning for weeks now. Current status can be found here.

There are also fires in five other provinces and one territory.

One of those provinces is mine. Last week, Nova Scotia became the location of two major fires, one of which is the largest in its history. That fire is located near Shelburne, at the southern tip of the province, and has resulted in the displacement of over 1,000 people. The other is near the heavily populated capital, Halifax, in the centre of the province, where over 16,000 people have had to leave their homes.

Over 200 structures have burned, including more than 150 family homes. Many of the evacuees had to leave immediately because the fire was so close. They had no time to take anything with them.

How stressful that would be. And for those whose homes burned to ash, how stressful that would be also. Even those who were put on alert that they could be evacuated on short notice must be stressed. My son lives on the edge of the evacuation zone, and was one of that group.

Fortunately, no lives have been lost.

And tonight - finally, finally, finally - the rain has started. It's hardly more than a sprinkle so far, but the forecast predicts rain or showers and cool temperatures for the next week.

I've never been so grateful to see a week of rain in the forecast.

And I am beyond grateful for the efforts of the firefighters and other emergency personnel who have worked so hard to save lives, homes, and livelihoods, in some cases doing so while their own homes burned down. Nova Scotian firefighters have been, or soon will be, joined by others from across Canada, from the U.S., Costa Rica, Australia, and New Zealand. I'm so thankful for international help. 

My heart is with those who have lost everything except their lives, those who have had to leave their homes not knowing if they will lose everything or not, and those in areas adjacent to the evacuation zone who have spent the last week in a state of heightened adrenaline in case they had to leave suddenly. I am also so sad for the wildlife which has undoubtedly been killed, maimed, and displaced. 

Even after the current fires are under control, there will be a lot of work to be done to extinguish them. Last fall's hurricane Fiona, which I wrote about here, left so much deadwood from downed trees all across our heavily forested province. It has had eight months to dry out, and, in an unusually dry spring, it has become perfect tinder for fires. 

I know we are far from the only place to suffer wildfires. They are becoming more and more common around the world due to climate change. It's simply extra-sobering when they hit close to home.

And now, for your listening enjoyment, the song you may have thought I was referencing in the title.

Because we need to keep on moving forward, and one way to do so is finding the beauty in life (thank you, my dear friend, Elephant's Child, for that wisdom).

And music is one of the beautiful things in life. Even when it's kind of sad music.

Friday 12 May 2023

The Wild Things - Part 2

For Part 1, go here.

Thank you for all your comments on the pros and cons of feeding the raccoon. I appreciate your input.

By the time that post was published, I had already made the decision to occasionally put food out along the back edge of my property. I sprinkled it here and there to make the raccoon work for it. He (or she) still came up on my deck from time to time, and if there were any sunflower seeds left from the feeding of the birds, he (or she) got those too.

I'm going to assume he (or she) considers my house and land part of the territory under his (or her) control now, and I'll be making sure I don't wander around outside at night without a flashlight and a stick and making lots of noise. 

There have been other visitors here, too: the ever-present deer, of course, a fat squirrel (possibly now one thin squirrel and a half a dozen babies), a chipmunk, a red-headed woodpecker, pheasants, along with chickadees, finches, sparrows, bluejays, crows, and mourning doves. I'm only surprised I haven't seen any robins; in the past we've always had them by this time of the year. The seeds I'm putting out are only a minor reason for the wildlife I see here. The red-headed woodpecker likes to pound away at a rotting tree trunk for insects. It gives me a headache just to watch all that cranial action. The other birds eat insects in the grass, the deer browse on the bushes and trees, and there are spruce trees nearby that provide cones for the squirrels and chipmunks.

It has been a cool spring here, which I am not complaining about, because I dread the heat. But the temperature has also made it hard to get out and do yard work. I've had deadlines at work, too, which limits my time outside. I really need to get out and at least pick up the deer and raccoon droppings. Not long ago I had workmen here to fix a downspout (a victim of the hurricane in the fall) and I could hear them swearing when they stepped in something. They probably think I have a dog and never clean up after it. 

I now have video of the raccoon gamboling on the deck, and of the chipmunk, who came right up to my bare foot one day. Unfortunately, I can't get them off the phone onto the computer - at least, not without help from my computer guru.

So I'll leave you with this instead:

I think I borrowed this from another blogger, I just can't remember who. If it was you - thank you! 

Have a good week, my friends.


Friday 5 May 2023

The Best

Canadian songwriter, singer, guitarist and international performer Gordon Lightfoot died last Sunday, May 1.

Other folks have written better tributes to him and his music than I could, but as I read those tributes and recognized almost every title listed, I knew there was one missing, one I had always found unusually captivating.

Stray bits of the tune floated in and out of my head but I couldn't remember enough of it to identify it. Finally I searched online for his complete body of work, and the title jumped out at me.

"Beautiful" is a haunting, lyrical love song which I first heard when I was in senior high school. It faded into the back of my memory as I moved on to university and became interested in other genres of music.

Although my husband always said we met at university (and in fact we did), he didn't enter my consciousness until we met again at my first job after graduation. So I associate other music with him, through our early days together and the many years that followed until his death a little more than two years ago.

Listening to "Beautiful" now, I realize it encapsulates perfectly my feelings for him and for the best of our relationship, and I wish he was here for me to tell him so.


Friday 28 April 2023

The Wild Things - Part 1

I wrote this nearly a month ago, but never got around to editing it until now. Since then, more has happened. Hopefully it won't take me another month to post Part 2. 

Last fall, I became aware that a couple of tiny grey guests were making themselves at home in an old barbecue on the deck behind our house. The adorable mice - yes, I used the word adorable, and I won't take it back - had made a cozy nest in their rain-proof and predator-proof shelter. Yes, I am aware that rodents reproduce at a rate to make your head spin, but I didn't want to evict them just as winter was setting in, especially as so many urban critters lost their habitat in the hurricane last September, so they were given a reprieve until spring.

Then, like any decent host, I worried about their welfare. What would they eat? I had some sunflower seeds left from feeding the birds and squirrels the previous spring, so I rigged up a covered mice-feeding station on the side shelf of the barbecue. As the days passed, the seeds kept disappearing, so I relaxed, happy that the guests were not going hungry and that the problem of relocation had successfully been postponed for a few months.

Then the vague suspicion entered my mind that more seeds were disappearing than could reasonably be consumed by two wee creatures. Around the same time, I noticed chickadees flying back and forth from the now-sparse treeline at the back of the yard to the deck. They of course had found the guest buffet and were availing themselves.

Last week I realized the rate of seed consumption had taken yet another giant leap, and somebody was leaving footprints all over the buffet, and I switched into high alert for evidence of just who the new guests might be.

I didn't have to wonder for long. Last night as I sat at the kitchen table, which put me within a few feet of the back door, I heard a small but distinct scratching noise on the other side of the door. Already suspecting what I would see, I turned on the outside light and, sure enough, there was a young raccoon, his little human-like hands braced on the door, peering back at me.


I did what anyone would do. I took his picture. And then I simultaneously panicked and googled "what people food is safe for raccoons to eat". 

The answer was, Do not feed raccoons. They will keep coming back and if they want to get in your house they can be very hard to dissuade from doing so.

And then the rest of the answer was that if you MUST feed the raccoons, feed only cat food, dog food, fruits, and eggs. Do not feed chocolate, raisins, or processed grain products.

As if I would give away my chocolate or processed grains! (I wouldn't feel nearly as protective about raisins, so it's good I don't have any.)

Meanwhile the scratching at the door continued. I wanted to go to bed but the internet warning about a raccoon's ability to commit a break-and-enter was bothering me. My Lucy cat's food is located not far from the door and I wondered if the raccoon had a good enough sense of smell to be able to detect it and decide this house was a good one to dig its way into. And although I personally would have another door between the kitchen and my bed, Lucy would not, and in a match between a raccoon and Lucy I would be betting on the raccoon. Sorry, Lucy, but even though I'm nearly as scared of you as I am of a raccoon, you are carrying a few extra pounds and you have asthma and arthritis. You would lose, trust me. Please don't bite me for just telling the truth.

By the time I debated at length with myself about whether to throw cat food from the second-storey window to a far-away corner of the yard, the raccoon had shuffled off. 

In all seriousness, I feel I have to consider the effect of so many trees being lost in the hurricane when I am deciding whether to help out this little fellow. It's not just my trees, it's trees on a lot of urban properties that were uprooted or damaged and cut down and taken away after the hurricane. I know that there was at least one raccoon living near me before the hurricane because I was finding its poo in my back yard all last summer, and I discovered one out on a limb of one of the now-absent trees in our yard, hissing and shaking on the branch as he tried to get turned around without falling off. So this is already raccoon territory and I suspect my failure to feed my guest from time to time won't really make any difference except to relieve one animal's hunger. The internet article I read recommended not feeding regularly, so they don't become dependent or tame, because that can lead to the animal needing to be destroyed if it becomes a pest. 

My inclination is to sprinkle some dry cat food at random places and on random days as far from my house as I can get without endangering my neighbours' yards, until the ground warms up enough that the bugs get active and the vegetation starts to grow again, and then taper off. 

But I welcome your opinions about dealing with wildlife in an urban setting, if you'd like to share them here.

And when I have time to figure out how to get photos onto this new computer, I have pictorial proof of the trash panda to post 😀

Thursday 23 March 2023

Komputer Kaput

Just letting you know that my computer died two nights ago and that's why there has been a delay in getting your comments released from moderation.

My computer guru is assisting me in getting up and running again, and in the meantime I've gotten a tablet to work on, so I'll still have email and other internet services like Blogger. But this will slow me down a bit, and there won't be any photos or illustrations.

I will answer your comments and visit your blogs as soon as I can. Off to work now 🙂 

Tuesday 21 March 2023

Close Encounters of the Puzzling Kind

Not long ago, I was in our local Value Village store, which is a second-hand store selling everything you'd ever want. The things are donated by the public to the store, credit given to charitable groups, and then sold back to the public. It's a good system to keep stuff out of the landfill and I love looking around. It's also where I buy nearly all my reading material and clothing.

This particular day I was looking through the ladies' clothing. I heard a young voice behind me say politely, "Excuse me, do you think I'd look good in this?"

I turned to see a boy of about ten or so, holding a scrunched up article of clothing. I couldn't tell what it was, but there wasn't much of it, which made me think it was either a bathing suit or a small top. It was hot pink with a fringe, that much I could see.

I didn't know if he was seriously asking or trying to get a reaction, so I said the first thing that came to mind, hoping it was ambiguous enough not to offend him if he was serious or make me look foolish if he wasn't. What I said was, "Oh yes, excellent" and he looked a bit surprised and turned and left.

A few minutes later, I heard kids laughing, and saw him with two girls of about his age giggling and darting through the aisles. Later still, I saw him staggering around in ladies' high heeled shoes and laughing.

So, my question to you is:

What would you have said if you had been me?

When you saw him again (and again), would that have changed your response if you could go back in time?

Picture something about this colour, but smaller and with long fringes. Scrunched up in someone's hand, so you can't tell what it actually is.

Friday 10 February 2023

GOW and the Telephone Company

In case that acronym is too obscure even after you've read the post, it stands for Grumpy Old Woman.

I've been trying to set up pre-authorized payment for my mother's telephone bill.

Once upon a time this could be done by sending a blank cheque with "VOID" written across the face of it to the company.

Apparently this can no longer be done. All thier pre-authorized payments are set up using online banking with a debit or credit card.

To arrive at this answer, I had to do the following:

1) I called the customer service line yesterday and spoke to someone who did not understand my question, so eventually I said I would go online to make my enquiry

2) I started a chat session today with, first, a chatbot, then with an employee who did not understand my question, and when asked to connect me with their supervisor, told me THEY WERE the supervisor and it wasn't the telephone company's fault they didn't accept voided cheques to set up PAPs, it was imposed on them by Canadian Payments Association

3) I checked the Canadian Payments Association online, which by the way is actually called Payments Canada and which still allows (as far as I can tell) the use of a voided blank cheque to set up pre-authorized payments

4) I sent an email to Payments Canada to verify suppliers can still accept this method and to ask if they are obligated to use it if the customer asks for it; they will get back to me within five (5) business days

5) I started a second chat session with the telephone company, got the chatbot, got the service rep, got nowhere, asked for their supervisor and was connected with a "case manager" from the "resolution team", who eventually told me that the voided blank cheque method is not accepted by them.

Okay, that's fine. They've made a decision to disallow one method of setting up a payment and I suspect they have that right, just as a company can decide they are not accepting cash or debit cards or credit cards.

But I think there must be a sizeable number of people out there who don't have on-line banking. It's not just the very elderly. It's anyone who doesn't have reliable internet or who just doesn't like technology. That may include quite a few baby boomers, and as we kept getting told, we are a huge freaking cohort at the moment.

I was hoping to make this easier for both my mother and myself, because she tends to lose the bills and end up paying late charges, and because if something happens that she can't or won't sign the cheques as her dementia worsens, I will have to pay them myself.

I am not picking on the telephone company for this one reason only.

I have dealt with them before on various matters and been dissatisfied with their faceless, soul-less approach to the people who pay their salaries, bonuses, and shareholder dividends (i.e., us, their customers). 

I fear I am shouting into the void, though.

I do realize the service reps are not to blame.

It's just so frustrating on the customer end.

Hence the blog post. I feel less like I am shouting into the void😄



How has your week shaken out? Doing any frustrating tasks? Lemme know in the comments if you like. Misery LOVES company, so they say. Hah.