Alone Again

We got Mom, her two plastic grocery bags full of medications (current and refills), and her lift chair over to Carillon House Monday. Once we got her settled, I brought a cart load over. I got her charge cords for her phone and tablet situated, got her lamp situated, and I brought over her personal effects (toiletries, etc.) two changes of clothes and her gown in the first cart load. In the second cart load, I brought over the bedside commode (which has arms) that goes over the toilet so it’s easier for her to get up and down, as well as her shower chair and her thick, “side sleeper” pillow that she needs because she is so kyphotic she can’t lie flat. I then left for Wal-Mart to buy the grocery stuff I can’t get at Market Street (like this cereal I like) as well as ten of those clothes hangers where you can hang pants and a top on the same hanger. I also stopped in at Market Street for a few groceries (I was out of my kind of bread and almond milk).

Last night was the first night I’ve spent alone in the apartment in two months. I’d like to say I slept in, but I had too much to do. I woke up out of a strange dream about my mom. I was holding her in my lap and she was about the size of a three-year-old. I knew she was weak and not doing well. We were waiting for the ambulance to come. It was one of those dreams that take you aback. It didn’t pack quite the same punch as the “you need to see about this” dreams I’ve had, but it got my attention. One of the “strong” impressions I carried out of the dream was the feel of her in my arms. What a way to start my day!

I got the address changed on her newspaper delivery, so she’ll get her paper there now. I got her room number written in laundry pen in all her clothes and got the “matching sets” of pants and tops hung on the double-decker hangers. That was my load today. Her new standing beauty saloon appointment is on Tuesdays at 3 pm. Since the lady that does hair, does hair at both Carillon House and our neck of the woods, just on different days, we worked out an arrangement where I can pay her by the month when she’s here. One less thing for Mom to stress over. I took her clothes over and got them all hung up, as well as about six boxes of tissues — enough to last her at least a week! LOL!

Tomorrow she has what will hopefully be her last visit to the wound care doctor. Thursday, I meet with the Carillon House lady to sign all the paperwork. Hopefully I’ll have gotten the white laundry marker pen by then and can mark her socks and this one black night gown.

I’ve been drinking Peach Tea flavor Crystal Light in my 32 oz stainless steel water bottle but with about half a cup of actual peach juice in it — tasty. Since I’ve made about five trips back and forth to Carillon House now, I’ve been knocking back quite a lot of it. I’ve still got at least one more load to take over — pictures to be hung, odds and ends, and the three poinsettias she’s gotten from her friends. They’ll Christmas up the place something fierce.

By the by — if you’re looking for a quick, relatively inexpensive way to make multiple gifts, here’s a craft idea: A pincushion jar. You need some cotton fabric, some kind of fine sand or finely ground buckwheat hulls or finely ground walnut shells, some lace edging, satin ribbon, needle and thread, small canning jars with rims and lids, and a glue gun. You cut a circle of cloth that is two inches larger in diameter than your jar lid. Sew a gathering stitch around the outer edge of the fabric and gather the edges of the circle into a bag. Fill the bag a little over 1/2 full with sand. Pull the gather tight and wrap thread around the gather to hold it closed. On the top of the jar lid, lay down a circle of hot glue around the edge of the jar lid and then squiggle the hot glue generously in the center. Put the gathered edge of the fabric in the center of the jar lid and press down on it until the fabric is glued to the jar lid. This is your pincushion. Glue the outer edge of the pincushion to the inside of the jar rim. Glue lace around the jar rim, tie satin ribbon around it. Screw the rim onto the jar. Using sand in the pincushion keeps the tips of the pins rust-free and sharp. I store buttons in my jar, but you could put anything in it — packets of needles, measuring tape, sewing notions, whatever.

Unsweetened Dreams

I suppose I may have had nightmares, but I was never aware of them. I don’t ever remember having a frightening dream. My dreams are typically neither happy, nor sad, nor scary. In terms of emotional overlay they’re all kind of ‘meh’ bland. The worst they would ever get is when I’m looking for something I can’t find (like where I parked my car or or a destination I’m trying to reach) and feel either low-grade frustration or low-grade anxiety from time pressure.

There was a time when I had a lot of dreams about walking in a straight line and when I came to a house, I would walk into it through the front door, through it, out the back door, through the back yard, the back gate and into the back yard of the next house, etc., in a long line of houses, one after the other. There was never any sense of destination, only walking in a straight line through a succession of different houses at night.

Sometimes my dreams will have characters and a coherent (and actually a rather good) plot, but most of the time they’re rather random and amorphous. Sometimes I’m “first person” — the point-of-view character to which the dream is happening — and sometimes I’m “third person” watching myself within the dream. But I only very, very rarely had a dream I was glad to wake up from.

However, in the last couple of years, my dreams have taken a “nonpleasant” turn. The subject matter has become darker. Thank goodness the emotional intensity – or lack of same – has remained the same. But the dream content tends to leave a bad taste in the mouth.

Night before last, I was having a dream about being in a big box store like Home Depot and people outside started shooting. I knew they had automatic weapons and that we had better get on the floor because they were going to rake the building with weapons fire. I wasn’t frightened, but was in that hypercalm, focused frame of mind that is fortunately my reaction to a crisis situation. I managed to get out of the building, but it was night and foggy, and I was trying to find police officers to tell them what the situation was, that there were active shooters in the area and people in danger in the store. Couldn’t find any police, although I felt certain somebody must have called them. Then the real-life phone rang and woke me up.

It was my mom. She’s always so chipper on the phone, like Stevenson’s birdie with the yellow bill, wanting to know if I was eating lunch. (I wasn’t. I’d been sound asleep.) The reason she called was she was still feeling aftershocks from the email crisis that erupted when AT&T gave Mozilla Thunderbird the cut direct and she’d had to revert to the Yahoo website to deal with her email. With emotions still running high over that, she had gone a whole half a day without having gotten any emails (it was just after noon). She was convinced something was wonky with the Yahoo website and she wanted me to go send her an email to test if Yahoo was working. I told her I would have to go boot up my computer.

Now, you have to understand that my mom and I have a major philosophical difference. We march to two very different drummers. She gets up at the crack of dawn, boots up her computer on her way to the front door to get the morning paper and have breakfast, and checks her email about 10 times during the day. The idea that anybody would want to sleep in the daytime is inconceivable to her. Why, something might happen, and they would miss it! I, on the other hand, am allergic to mornings, spent nearly 30 years working nights, loved the peace and quiet of it, and would continue to be a night owl if I had my druthers.

I had gone to bed after midnight, couldn’t get warm (the low was 38 F 3.3 C and the place I live in has no insulation to speak of). I finally got up at 3:30 in the morning and took a hot shower, and finally warmed up enough to go to sleep. Come noon and I wasn’t done sleeping yet. What I was done with was that dream.

But here’s the take-away from all this. There are prescription drugs which have the side-effect of causing nightmares, and I’m on two of them: Cetirizine (antihistamine) and metoprolol (blood pressure and heart rhythm disturbances). I’m pretty sure because of the chronicity that it’s the metoprolol, either by itself or in addition to the cetirizine, that is the culprit. So far, these nonpleasant dreams I’ve been having are not unsettling enough to ask my cardiologist if I might be able to switch from metoprolol to atenolol, which does essentially the same thing but with a lower incidence of that particular side-effect. I guess if I can put up with the constant ringing in my ears from the aspirin, I can put up with these dreams . . .

To end this post on a more pleasant note, I thought I’d leave you with my current earworm:

The lyrics to this one are haunting. . .

Not a Good Night Last Night

I’m not usually one for bad dreams — weird, interminable, sometimes surprisingly well-plotted dreams, yes, but only very, very rarely are they frightening or unpleasant ones.  Typically, my dreams have surprisingly little emotional content.  But last night I had a couple of whoppers.  First off, at about 2 a.m., I dreamed that my mother dragged herself into my real-life bedroom, over to my real-life bedside, threw her arm across my thighs and croaked, “Call an ambulance.” I came bolt awake out of that one, my heart pounding.  (I might point out, my mother does not live with me.  She lives in her house, I live in my little duplex, and that is a mutually satisfactory arrangement.)  I was royally spooked by that brief broadside of a dream for a good little bit.  I had to get up and move about, which is always good for shredding the whisps of most dreams that persist into waking.   I had a potty break, then went into the kitchen and had a couple of pieces of Twizzlers Bites to give me the energy to get back to sleep, which usually works.

I finally did get back to sleep, then I dreamed about my dad (who passed in September of 2014).  He was still of an age when he was active and independent and could see and hear well, but he was having an episode of delirium and I was having to deal with him myself.  I was at their house (although it didn’t look anything like their house actually does).  He somehow got outside and I located my mom and we were trying to decide whether to go look for him ourselves or call the police, or what — my dad was over six feet tall, and if he decided to struggle, even my mom and I together could not have handled him.  As we were talking, someone knocked at the door and it was my dad.  He had gotten a lift home in a UPS truck.  I remember thinking in the dream that my dad had been delivered by UPS and how ironically funny it was.  Tied loosely about him was one of those heavy cloth strips like moving companies use to secure furniture by strapping it to the side of the vans.  Then a “friend” came over.  You know how you know things in dreams; I knew he was an old family friend although he didn’t look like anybody I knew that we knew.  He and my dad were conversing, and then my dad started playing the bagpipe for him (yeah, I know).  I was sad because although his playing was good, it was not as good as it once had been.  Then I woke up.

After that, even though it was only about 5:20 a.m., I didn’t even bother to try to go back to sleep.  I read for a while, then I decided I might just as well get up. Thankfully, the passage of time is dulling the memory of those dreams, especially the first one, which was a real shovel-smack upside the head.

Now I’ve got to get ready to go out.  My cousin JP is driving over from New Mexico to take my mother and me out to lunch.  Then he will drive back to New Mexico. He does this from time to time, as he only lives about a 4-1/2 hour drive away — which is really quite near in this part of the world — to touch base with his Aunt Fluffy (my mom).  My mom was his mom’s baby sister, and his parents gave my mom a real leg up in her rise from her rural roots to venture out into the wide world and begin her career. She is my namesake aunt, the only one of her children to be named for anyone on either side of the family.  (That right there tells you how large my aunt loomed in her legend.)

Plus, we’ve got three important anniversaries coming up, what would have been my dad’s 95th birthday on 21st August (the same day as the solar eclipse, no less), the third anniversary of his passing on 22nd September, and my mom’s 93rd birthday on 23rd September. (Yes, my mom spent her 90th birthday making funeral arrangements for the love of her life.)  And I’m sure part of my cousin’s visit is to lend moral support to my mom going into this gauntlet of significant dates.

In the knitting news, I finished two more hats.  This one at right, which I’m calling “Simple Pleasures Hat” and the one below, which I’m calling “Fabled Cable Hat.” I’m not completely satisfied with either pattern so I haven’t posted them to my knitting pattern website.

The Fabled Cable Hat has braided cables, which don’t show up on the picture very well.  This one was done in Lion Brand Landscapes yarn, colorway “Desert Spring.” The “Landscapes” yarn is Lion Brand’s answer to Red Heart’s Unforgettable yarns.  Although they both say they are a medium:4 weight yarn, the Landscapes yarn is noticeably thicker.  I think the colors are a little more garish, or some of them are.  The Simple Pleasures Hat was done in the Unforgettable yarn, colorway “Parrot.”  It is pretty bright, but I like the color mix.  I think they’re cheerful.  I’m not really wild about the Lion Brand colors, although they do have a solid fuchsia pink, which I’ve gotten two skeins of.

When starting a hat, I typically either use the provisional cast on, or the long-tail cast on, depending on whether the edge of the hat will be “hemmed” or not.  Both methods start with a slip knot in the working yarn.  When I join to knit in the round, I don’t drop my slip knot.  I slip it off the right hand needle and onto the left hand needle, and then do a k2tog (knit two together) with the slip knot and what would be my first stitch of the row.  I find this makes a more secure join.