Tuesday, May 29, 2012

More Then You Ever Want to Know......

Rather than boring you with my ongoing saga, I’d like to tell you about my daily walk.  Over time it’s evolved into a daily routine and a valued break from the mundane trials of each day.  When I worked full time, I could never make myself exercise after work – it was like adding punishment to punishment.  Once I retired, I realized that I was in good health; I ate well, but the only way I was really letting myself down was in not exercising.  So, I set about to correct that.
My first goal was to walk about a mile as often as I could, beginning with an every-other-day routine.  As I ventured out, I came in contact with other community residents who walked, ran or exercised their dogs.  The dog walkers were the easiest to get to know – just comment on their walking companion and the door is opened!  My biggest surprise was that some/many people would pass me by without even an acknowledgement.  I’m not sure how I grew up this way, but I wouldn’t think of passing someone on the street without eye contact, a smile, a nod or something.  Of course, that’s different if you’re on a city street with lots of passers-by, but in your own community don’t you think you could manage a nod???  Anyway, I took it upon myself to loosen up the hood!  I spoke to everyone I passed and waved at passing cars – not really a wave, more a “throw up my hand”, as we say in the South.  No good deed goes unpunished!  As the years have passed, my one hour walk can now take 15 to 20+ minutes longer, depending upon whom I may run into.  Neighbors in cars, many of whom I don’t know by name, will now wave or toot their horns; and, if I miss a day or two, people want to know where I’ve been and if things are okay.  It really has taken on a life of its own.

As time has passed, I’ve expanded my range and routes.  My average is about 3.5 mile a day (averaging 80+ miles a month) and my best monthly record is having only missed three days out of the month.  I’ve gone from going around in a short circle to having several longer routes. 
  • When I take a right turn out of my driveway, I go around the circle (which was my first, short route) and out the back gate.  At the end of that road, I can turn around and come back or keep going to the Kroger shopping center, walking around the perimeter.
o   On this route I’ve discovered where my neighbor feeds the feral cats that live behind the shopping center – and where I’ve seen the raccoon steal food!  Now I know why they’re masked – they’re bandits!
o   I’ve also gotten to know Truffles the cat, who resides beside Truffles restaurant and is fed by the restaurant and the yogurt shop.  Not a dumb kitty!  She’s a beautiful girl and the lady at the yogurt shop would like to take her home, but Ms. Truffles likes the situation as it is.
o   I’ve also gotten to know one of the ladies at the independent living facility who also likes to walk down our shaded back road.
Sometimes I just do this as my walk.  Other times I go to the bank, pick up something at Kroger……or stop and have yogurt with Ms. Truffles.
  • When I take a left turn out of my driveway, I walk to the end of the street (about a mile) and then come back and walk to the front gate and then back home again. 
    • It’s on this route that I’ve met a neighbor from North Carolina who has also dealt with an aging mother and is sympathetic to my situation.
  •  Or, I walk up toward the front gate, turn left and go into an adjoining neighborhood.  I call this my “Where the Wild Things Are” walk, with the wild things being turkeys (and the millipedes).  Even growing up in the country, I never realized how pretty turkeys are.  I’d only seen them from a distance, where they appeared like large buzzards, or bald and buttery on the table.  Up close, their plumage is beautiful and it’s great to see the Toms puff up and display it all.  I can see why Ben Franklin thought they might be a better symbol for America than the Bald Eagle.
  • And sometimes, if I have a purpose, I venture out of the neighborhood entirely.  If there is something (small) to pick up, I may walk to Target, Dollar Tree, Staples, etc.  I now have the range and distance to go to the library or the Post Office, and it’s satisfying to have a purpose……though my neighbors probably think I’m nuts!
Walking really is a relaxing and energizing activity and I enjoy the solitude of it.  It’s also amazing how much one notices on foot that would be missing if passing in a car.…..flora and fauna of every description: birds, squirrels, turtles, alligators, raccoons, feral cats, and so on.  The interesting thing is that I began to see patterns, like the gray squirrels are prevalent, but there is one area that belongs to the fox squirrels.  There is even an area that has an abundance of millipedes!  And I love seeing the worn archways through the thickets, some small for racoons, possums and feral cats, and others large enough for deer.  My favorite sightings are of raccoons (once coming straight down the side of a huge pine tree and into the nearby thicket, and another time stealing cat food) and once an otter!  There is always something of interest.

I’m not really surprised by these revelations.  Many years ago in San Diego I participated in a group called Walkabouts.  Like most groups I “join”, it was loosely organized and you could participate when you wanted to, without having to “commit” to a rigid routine.  Members would organize walks, usually with themes – I remember one being through a cemetery where several famous people (authors) were buried, another up Black’s Beach (nudist) to a restaurant in Carlsbad for lunch and then back again.  Others had architectural themes and some were just in beautiful areas for the sheer pleasure of the scenery.  I remember the surprise of “seeing” so much and am happy to be able to discover it again.  It does add to my appreciation of all that is available to us if we just stop and take notice.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

She's Ba-ack!

Yes, the "other mother" has taken up residence again, just in time for the Mother's Day from Hell.  It hasn't been pretty.  I had hoped and planned to take her to NC for Mother's Day weekend but, as when the offer was made previously, she didn't want to go unless she could stay.  There were a lot of tears, threats and accusations (I don't care about her or what she wants, she's sacrificing everything and I'm sacrificing nothing, etc.) for days leading up to our departure. I got everything ready for the trip and wrongly assumed that when it came down to it, she would be happy to be home, even if for a short while.  On the day we were to leave, she slept in until 10AM and came out with the same attitude, and I knew that I couldn't deal with four hours of that in an enclosed car.  I just said we'd try again at a time we could both enjoy it.  I wasn't proud of myself, but I'd definitely reached my limit.  Needless to say, it's been chilly around here since.  I did take her out to breakfast on Mother's Day, but it was quiet and cheerless.  Things are thawing a bit, but I'm about tapped out.  I've accepted the fact that there is nothing I can do that will be enough or right or acceptable.  I guess when that really sinks in, it will make the process easier........I certainly hope so!
This is what happens when I try to remove cat hair from comforter!

Both my mother and I had doctor's appointments this week.....mine was with my new doctor.  This is the kicker - my blood pressure was higher than my mother's!!  I have NEVER had a problem with my blood pressure, though I am at the age that anything can happen.  When the doctor asked if I had any ideas, changes, etc that might account for it, I explained the situation.  She said, "I can't believe I met you....I have exactly the same situation!"  She's an only child, discontented, ailing mother in Pennsylvania, etc.  She agreed to that likely being the source of the high BP, but I still have to record it for several weeks and report back.  It did make me realize that for my own well-being things need to be different.

Life is made easier by the support and company of friends.
How many cats fit on a sofa table?
  •  If Cheryl and I keep meeting at the Subway at the corner of Hwy 278 and I-95, people are going to start talking!   I'm just glad it's convenient for a quick get-together as she travels to and from her sister's.  
  • Pamela and I try to get together once a week as she is going through much the same thing as I, except her mother has actually called the police on her!  We went to the beach last week and out to lunch today.
  • Yesterday I received a wonderful care package from my friends Down Under, Alan and Mairead.  It was chock full of goodies and could not have arrived at a better time to provide a boost to my morale. I was really touched by their thoughtfulness.
  • It's just nice to hear from friends, near and far, who say via phone or email, "haven't heard from you in a while.  How are things going?"  It provides that nudge I need not to go into total seclusion!
Not everything has been doom and gloom.  Our weather (here I go again!) has been stuck in the 80s for weeks and its been fantastic for almost anything one would want to do.  We're all dreading the day when that first number will be 9.
In the midst of all the drama,  I've had a security system installed.  There have been a lot of break-ins in the neighborhood, including one family I know.  They were actually at home, sleeping, when they were broken into, which would be totally unsettling.  So, I finally did it, after noticing some suspicious activity here.  One night around 3:30AM I was awakened by my mother's cat growling and screeching.  I went to the sunroom where he was, turned on the outside light, and there was a masked, furry, fat raccoon helping himself to my birdseed.  He didn't budge until I tapped on the glass. The funny thing was that he had removed the top of the plastic container holding the seed and placed it on top of a flower pot.  It wasn't thrown on the floor....it was like it was carefully placed aside.  That tickled me and I've been on the lookout for him since, though a brick now secures the top of the seed container.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Keep It Moving!!

A new work station for jigsaw puzzles.
As I continue to enjoy peace and calm (more or less!), things seem to roll along and my time is filled. After finding the definitive peanut butter cookie recipe, I made a batch for my neighbor and her husband. Denise is a delightful lady and we've had lots to talk about every time we've gotten together. But, with the ups and downs and unpredictability of my situation, I just have no been able to pursue a friendship. So, you can imagine my surprise when I heard that she had brain surgery! She had noticed balance and memory problems and was first diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Her doctor then called to say the initial diagnosis was incorrect, that she had water on the brain!! It sounds as though the surgery might solve the problem (the fluid will drain into her abdomen and be absorbed by the body). So, if anyone deserved a batch of cookies, it was Denise. She seems to be doing well and I hope to see more of her.

 The other activities read like a "to do" list.....

--After missing all meetings last month, I finally made it back to Living Liberally. It was good to see the regulars, and there were quite a few new people, which added to the chatter.

A 350 piece puzzle from the dollar store
--This past Wednesday, my mother, Pamela and I went to a choral concert in Sun City. Being at 2PM in the afternoon and with a movie music theme, I thought it might be something my mother would enjoy.......until she grasped her ears when the music started! It was surprisingly loud!  She eventually removed one hearing aid and got through it okay. It made me aware of how difficult life must be when you can no longer do anything easily or comfortably.  

--Jennifer from Indigo Pines stopped by one afternoon and chatted up my mother again.   My  mother told her that she knew she would have to compromise.....and I said that when that kicked in, to please let me know!  In her heart of hearts I think she knows she can't be on her own any more, but to give up on it is so difficult for her.

The most entertainment for $1 that  I've had in a long time!
--We have been paying for one of my mother's medications that should have been covered by Medicare Part B, but the pharmacy we used didn't bill Medicare.  So, I spent the major part of one afternoon on the phone to 6 different people trying to get it sorted out.  The last lady I talked to seemed to know what she was doing and will contact the doctor, etc., but I had to go through 5 people to get to the right one.  It also makes me wonder how I will manage to get that done when I'm 90???

--Sunday Chris and I went to see Tea at Five at the SC Repertory Company.  It's an "intimate" little funky theater that does some surprisingly good productions.  This was a one woman play about Katherine Hepburn.  Act I was in 1938 when she was a struggling actress.  Act II was in 1983 at the end of her career. She was always an interesting woman and definitely ahead of her time, and the play didn't disappoint.

--On Saturday our electric company had their annual meeting, which usually includes music, food, prizes, etc.  Again, it was at 2PM and something I thought  my mother could do......and I have to give them credit, when I asked if I could drive up near the festivities and get my mother situated, the guy showed me where the handicapped parking area was and we proceeded there.  Once parked, there were golf carts ferrying people about and I was able to register there as opposed to mingling with the masses in another area.  It was thoughtfully organized and very easy for us to navigate.  We stayed about an hour and then rode around Ridgeland and checked out some of the massive oak trees.

Rich Text