Friday, October 29, 2010

Carl defends Patty

We depart AM for home.  I kind of wish I lived here so I could pop in and out on  Uncle, but he has improved 3000% in one week back at assisted living.  Observed his therapy session  today and talked with the physical Therapist who rates him a 4 on a scale of 1--5 for strength, it's the stamina that needs work.  So he will be back at it soon, using only walker, we hope.  What gene's what determination.  Of course daily I have been reminding him that he is Teofil's son and Teofil overcame strokes and walked until the day he died, to the marvel of all doctors.  Granpap never quit so he cannot either!  It's working!

 Meantime I had gut wrenching today; having survived these episodes  frequently in career days I forgot the misery involved, details which you do not need  to know, suffice it to be that my nerves have caught up with my innards and Canada Dry got me by until about 1:00PM when I felt nearly normal.  I guess all the stress and  strain have caught up. Imodium to the rescue and life goes on. 

Today at the assisted living center with Uncle I pushed his chair into  his place at the dining room table when an old lady who sits in a chair and wears dark glasses, yelled at me for hitting her chair.  I told her we did not touch her nor her chair and fortunately a nurse checking on uncle, was there to verify.  But this woman is nasty and continued, "No you hurt my hip! I'm a nurse I know what I'm talking about."  But I came back with, "Ummmm I'm a doctor!" and she said no more.  Until this evening when we were bidding Uncle farewell until next trip and the old lady saw us coming and started up again.   Well, Uncle Carl heard her this time and said, "What did she say, Patty?  Did she say something about you?"  I said, "Oh no she's just talking to herself."    She must see beneath those dark surround glasses and said, "She hit my chair and my hip hurt all day!"  Well, my Uncle is not going to be quiet now because this is   his niece and he raised his hackles!  Oh No!  Out  it came, first several Polish words/ followed by a distinct cold lecture from him to her,  "Listen to me you old bat!  We were not near you and if you ever say Patty touched you again I'll give you something to worry about.  Now you just go on about your business and we will  forget his, but don't you ever say any thing to my niece again, don't you even look at us,  you miserable old bat!"  Followed by more Polish words.  Nearby his friend, laughed and said, "That old witch is always crabbing at someone."  And Carl is now on point, 'Well she better stay away from Patty!"  OMG he is as protective of me as he ever was, am I 5 years old again?

Really the old lady is pitiful, I suppose wheels herself around and  only comes out to eat, is not out there socializing.  God help her if she raises Carl's ire.  I told him to forget it and he was not having it!   He said, "No that old stata baba better keep quiet.!"  I see my Grandpap's face on Uncle Carl and this could be trouble!

We depart AM and I wonder if I will be awake at 5:00AM as I have been?  I usually sleep until 7-7:30 even  8 at home, but all this trip 6 has been my latest.  And it is dark here in PA early, but  I am up, brewing good coffee and on the computer.   I suppose tomorrow I'll want to sleep in!  Well I can snooze along the journey. 

We are loaded to go but once again no room for the easel, artist supplies and painting  equipment I covet, but 2 of the 4 old dining chairs from my grandparents are in the  HHR. These two have been refinished and recovered in 1984, so noted on their bottoms.  Jerry  considering stopping  in Detroit to see a diesel RV at General RV, but that would mean staying there Sunday and waiting for them to open on Monday.  I would just as soon proceed home and forego looking at an RV upgrade.  We will see what happens.  I will put this back into the hands of the Big Guy above who handles all.

  It has been a fun fall visit to PA and though I did not get to see everyone I wanted to, and did not get to go  to the places I always want to see, I am thankful we were here for Carl.  There is something about coming to the end of the family,down to the last of the tribe, and perhaps because it is only  me from here on after him, but it is humbling, and frightening.  I laugh with him and think, "here we are Buddy, you and me!"  Buddy, that's what I called him until I was about 9 years old.  Finally my mother announced that I was able to speak and  I should call him "Uncle Carl."  When I was small I guess the sounds didn't work right and so Carl said I could call him "Buddy"  which worked for me and so  the name stuck.  My mother was upset with that though, just as my  calling Aunt Jinx,. "Tzotzoche" or  however the Polish word for aunt is spelled.  Well it was not the first of disagreements between me and  my mother!  I look at the photos of me I found at Carl's this trip, pipe curls and all, the idolized child.  I will share those here when I get home and scan them, I was a most fortunate little girl to be so surrounded by relatives who loved me so deeply, an awareness   that still shelters me today, "My  People" who are always watching out for me,, it has sustained me through the years and still does, through the trials of   life.

Wally's Merry Go Round

Yesterday we spent hours back and forth to WalMart where we bought a shower chair for Uncle.  Trouble was when Jerry got it back to the assisted living, Logan House, and attempted assembly,  it had 2 left legs instead of right and left, or as per the instructions #1 and #2.  return to the Heights and Wally's world and exchange only this time Jerry opened the box there!  Good thing, same problem.  Well likely it was the entire shipment, so we departed for another WalMart across the hills at the Mall.  Same  brand, same issue!  Sam's next door had none but advised us to try Lowe's across the mall.  However their model was quite elaborate and expensive.  What to do as it was nearing time to meet friends for dinner?  We stopped at Walgreen's which is right down the street from the assisted living center and there was one, better looking than the Wal Mart model.  Jerry has not opened it for assembling yet as we had friends to meet but with a different model although likely made in China too, maybe it will be better.  As Uncle Carl observed when the first chair could not be assembled, "brand new and pain in the a*S!"   His observation cognition is back at it.  His therapist had him walking yesterday for several laps.  Hope those weak legs get back to just the walker although we had to purchase a back up wheel chair, which Uncle Carl pronounced a cadillac.  Trouble was it was not the size that the therapist ordered.  Does nothing get done correctly here?  I can blame the shower chair  errant packaging on the Chinese, but the wheelchair was from Blackburns here!  Fortunately the therapist called immediately and it was to be  replaced with an 18 x 16 instead of the 16 x 16 that they delivered, with the wrong size scratched through.  Uhhhh, didn't they think someone wqould notice????

Today is our last day here and I am frantic with loose ends, getting with Uncle one last time before we depart in AM, and so it goes.  A cold wind blew in yesterday and I wished I'd grabbed a  heavier jacket at the motor home.  The Italian food at Villa Blanca was OK, not nearly as good as Capris' but they  know how to pour a glass of wine--they use water goblet and fill it!  Way better than the swallows most restaurants serve!  And after the road round trips and frustration I enjoyed it and my eggplant Parmesan. 

Meeting Dianne today for coffee at one.  Next trip, everyone can meet at one place, one time, I hope.  Homeward departure in the morning.  Likely cold air today,, 60 some degrees. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

PA and Carl Chronicles

Uncle Carl working well with the therapists although when they visit in the afternoon and I ask him later in the day if they were there he says, "no that was yesterday."  He is now back to his preference of not shaving, groiwng that white stubble, "I'm not going anywhere."  I remind him that he does not want to go back to the "crazy house" which is what he calls the SNF.  I am just hopeful he gets back to consistent use of his walker without tumbles and stumbles and falls.

I missed a great photo op Tuesday where Carl sat in wheelchair beside "his" chair, staring at the fireplace marble and back to the entry and all activity.  Lenore, an old lady who has had her eye on him for over a year had sat in his chair!  Seeing this, I immediately knew he was ticked, that's where he sits and supervises all activities and comments about all the "old women who sit out here and sleep."  He may be the oldest one there, but he thinks they are old.  Back to the scene where I asked him "Why are you sitting there like that, how about I move you over here?"  His strong clear reply, "No thank you.  I am comfortable right here!" A big improvement from his weak voice at the SNF.   Lenore sits there grinning.  Lisa, one of his favorite aides came along and noticed and said "Darn, there's Lenore.  She does that to get his attention."  They moved Lenore and got Carl into his catbird seat and all was well!  I really should have snapped that photo though, priceless.  Evidently Lenore did not go near the chair while Carl was in the hospital and SNF.  And he will not even acknowledge her!  My Uncle, still a lady killer at 92!  :)

Yesterday we put out 14 bags more of trash from the house, so much accumulation of  stuff, never throwing anything away even Styrofoam trays!  Jerry continues to scavenge the man cave tools.  I found a gorgeous brocade satin short jacket from Aunt Marge, that I am bringing home,  It is tiny and more like a shrug, but I could not bear to toss it, the fabric is exquisite.  I have no idea what to do with it, perhaps a pillow, something altered for Blondie, one of the traveling bears to wear?  Who knows, it is too tiny for me, but I so loved the fabric that into the closet it goes.  Another acquisition of  two matching nightstand type lamps of heavy clear cut glass.  Jerry will have to fix the plugs and  bulb holders and we will have to acquire shades but I could not resist these.  I'll donate the one  I bought at Target to Goodwill and replace with these in one guest bedroom.  Jerry has lots more "equipment miscellany" and  antique and small tools he's taking home and once again I will not be able to bring back all the painting supplies I want.  However we will bring two of the old 1920 at least chairs; these two have been recovered and next trip I want two that have not and still sport the black leather seats.  I have a photo of my mom at about 2 years old sitting in one of these chairs, which Carl had stashed in his loft.  We would only get pennies for them at a sale, so since I know they are old and likely belonged to my grandparents, home they go with us.

I found more old black and white   photos including several of myself as a young girl sporting pipe curls, laughing and tormenting a dog. Carl was the photographer  of the family and Jerry found an old Brownie camera still looking in perfect condition, which is also going home.  We are going to have to clean out somethings from our home before we become the accumulators of everyone else's treasures!  I  found an old, tattered  paper box of Marge's photoswith several from her family that Lowell, nephew will appreciate.  Last trip I  found some photo painted china plates of his great grandmother of whom he had never seen a photo.  I am happy to find homes for these photos.  Yesterday I found a couple others from 1920 of Marge's family and I hope Lowell can identify them.  His brother is in his 80's had has Alzheimer's but still knows who the photos are.  I surely enjoy all my photos and cannot wait to return home and scan and share on Sepia Saturday. 

I have learned something about Aunt Marge this trip; she was really studying dressmaking and sewing a skill on which she was never nearly as proficient as my grandma or Aunt Jinx who were masters.  But I have found correspondence courses and lots of books and patterns which Marge accumulated and studied.  Still I laugh when I find clothing she altered with uneven hems and gaps of stitches. Refer to my blog story of Margie Sway!    Jinx, I've told  before on this blog, would take Marge's things and "fix them."  I can imagine how determined Marge was to match the perfection of her sister in law.  Maybe that's why Marge related more to my mother, who was not the least interested in sewing, but who could get along.   I expect too that Carl would throw a barb her way now and then about  wanting his mother or sister to sew something that needed mending!  Who knew what Marge was up to, awaiting to surprise them with a top skill!  Never happened. 

Yesterday one of the firemen came by the house when we were working.  He said 30 years ago Uncle Carl had installed him as a member and he often stopped and talked with "Tux."  Matt had shared  the news at their Tuesday evening meeting so now the word is out around and they will stop and visit him.  This man works at the municipal water company and had tears in his eyes as he spoke about conversations with "Tux" and how he is one of a kind, the WWII generation dying off.  I am so thankful for that contact.

Next trip we will order a dumpster.  I really wanted to have the house cleared and sold off, but not right timing.  We do use the washer and dryer while here too.  And I have been doing Carl's laundry and pressing his shirts.  As departure approaches, I feel wistful, wishing I lived closer so I could pop in and out to see him and do laundry.  One complaint of Logan House is the disarray they have of laundry--so many things missing, a jacket a set of new flannel sheets, etc.  I mark all Carl's things carefully but they just are absolutely careless and further wash everything together, light, white, dark colors, an anathema to me, the queen of laundry sorting into tiny loads if necessary.  Well nothing I can do, other than as I have, it's in the hands of the One who handles it all His way in His time.

Jerry has plans to stop in Detroit at General RV to look at a Discovery.  I really do not want to, but am humoring him.  No way are we buying this trip and after meeting Elliott in Decatur at the Fleetwood RVcomplimentary lot, I feel we should keep what we have.I do not want a new one with problems ad nauseum.   Maybe next year at the Fleetwood Rally. 

Temperatures falling around the area.  Lots of gorgeous colors still on the trees although the winds and rain have shed leaves, there is still plenty of color around.  Another day of activities ahead.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

More Carl Chronicles and PA

Nothing like being home and seeing these longtime friends from the ago, notice I do not want to say "old" friends although we go back 60 years!  WOW!  Sunday we caught the last half of the Steeler's over at Dayna's house where she brought out the queso and chips!   Well anything melted cheese is my favorite.  She also graciously hemmed a pair of my uncle's sweat  pants because she had her machine out to mend and hem things for herself.  That was a welcome help.  Dayna and I lived across the yard, through Ropers, from each other and I can still smell Alice, her mom, baking Syrian bread.  Alice died long ago, young at only 52-53 years of ag, we are all older now and that is a strange feeling and sad too for Dayna to know she's older than her Mom lived to be,  and Bud, Dayna's tiny father lived on as a widower finally living in his final days in Warren with Dayna at her home.  They are both gone now and after teaching music in Warren, PA at the elementary school all grades, Dayna retired back home.  She has a nice set up in her condo.

Sunday eve we had Chinese and seafood buffet at the China Lobster with Dayna and Carlie where I feasted on mussels, are they really from the Allegheny River?  Such a long way from our day where no one would have stuck a toe in that river which like all was so polluted from sludge and industrial waste from the mills and plants.  Now to see the boats lolling along, how different!  Although the area is devastated with loss of jobs and has declined from our heyday of the  early 60's, as anything there is something good, the rivers and waterways are clean, so that fishing and mussel harvesting thrive!

Yesterday we met at Eazer's in downtown NK which I must add to my Facebook and Jerry wants to return for breakfast.  Syrian bread, which is my favorite and which Jerry has come to enjoy, and no it is not pita bread,  holds a great home made burger of real ground beef, not the frozen mix of  hamburger and fat served at many fast foods and other restaurants.  Rich Hemprich joined Sammy & Kathy Zabec with us. I kind of puff up hearing as  many tell me I still look the same, but after finding my graduation photo at Uncle Carl's and pronouncing it Dorky, I have to wonder, how can they think I look like that? Still it must be a compliment nearly 50 years gone by now.   Kathy and I go way back to first grade from the 'hood. True to her ditziness, Kathy announced she does not like mussels, that they  look like vaginas!  You can imagine the remarks that followed until I cried a STOP, PLZ I am eating!!  I sure wish that Kathy could get over whatever her issue is with Dayna.  All three of us could visit then, but no, and I am sure this is Kathy not Dayna, they attend the same church, but Kathy has her snit over what she perceives as being "done dirt", and which we observe must be some loose screw in the head.   Dayna said, "that's her loss."  Takes me back to being 10 years old again when I lived in the middle and they would spat.  Some don't grow  past that and who knows what causes what!  Meantime I can go along, because I have a used to be brother whom I  do not see nor hear from even back here.  That of course goes back to Mom's death and his plotting and dishonestry.  Trust broken is not restored especially without any remorse.  Ahh another subject fully.

Meantime, Uncle Carl has improved 300% back at Logan house.  Using the walker now however yesterday he stumbled in the main bathroom off the hallway.  When we arrived and I could not find him I had them check the bathroom and there he sat on the floor, alert and saying he stumbled and could not find anything to grab!  Got him up and put  him back in the great room in his chair, where he  proceeded to be himself, confiding to me, "I thought I'd never get out of that  shithouse!"  I had to laugh and still am about that comment true to his 92 year old terminology. Can you imagine him sitting on the floor wondering, "how long will I be here?"  He was not confused and told Jerry exactly what happened.   He has perked up to his observations and is not sitting  around depressed as at the nursing home.  Visiting therapists will get him exercising more and build up his strength.  All are fully confident he will get back to what is normal for him and already he is on  the way! Looking way better, got his haircut, and as I said, back to observing folks for whom he has many comments, particularly not appreciating the women who sit in the great room and sleep, sliumped in their chairs.  Some do not look comfortable to me and I wonder why they do not show them to their  rooms and beds to rest.  Saturday he was quite interested in the dulcimer music and the woman who came to entertain them.  I focus on the good, on his progress and am thankful for his progress where  last week I was sure I'd be planning a funeral imminently.

I have also made contact with his old volunteer Fire Department #1 from  downtown New Kensington.  Curiously, unless you believe as I do that with God there are no curiosities, Matt said they were just asking at their meeting Tuesday, "what happened with Tux?"  Tux is a long time nick name of Carl's.  So  Matt said he would spread the word and visit Carl and when funeral time comes they will serve as pallbearers to one of their longest living members.  That's the beauty of being in your home town all your life, those long time  connections those memories.  His time with NKFD#1 stretches back to before WWII and his enlistment in the Army.  Matt siad he is either the oldest surviving member or next to.  I know  Carl will be tickled to see some of the guys, as I shared with him I'd talked to them, he said, "well I don't have a car, I can't go see the guys."  There's the dementia, flashing around until I explained they would come visit him!  Way better contact and response than the local VFW of which he is a lifetime member!  Enough for now as we continue to clear out the home, next trip we will order a dumpster!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Carl Chronicles continue

Well the focus of this trip is Uncle and that has consumed my time.  I do want to  have friend visits which have been avoided so far with the time spent at house and the SNF.  So yesterday, Friday,   Uncle Carl   returned to his assisted living home at Logan House and was very happy!  But then he told me  he would have  preferred to go home to eat, so he still has that go home attitude.  We take triumphs and progress along the way.  He ate very little but downed his cottage cheese and ice cream.  I guess he will eat when he wants to.  The other day at the SNF I asked if he was on a hunger strike and he said yes.  His dementia seems to have up and down days but his humor is better.

Yesterday's event was wanting to cut his finger nails which he suddenly noticed as ragged and uneven and they were.  Jerry bought some new nail clippers for him at Walgreens and that was his focus.  He did cut his own nails and evened them out and was quite pleased with himself. at my insistence. 

Carol, who is the beautician/barber at the Logan house fussed with him too trying to get him to eat and he kidded with her, ate two bites of sweet potato but that was all.  He has turned a strange corner from the "chow hound" to looking at his food and saying, "I can't eat all that."  Who knows when or if his appetite will return.  Who knows what we are encountering.  I suspect there is still a lingering  sedative effect from the Airicept which has been discontinued only since Monday Oct. 18 at my insistence.  Carol has a friend who makes she claims the best home made pierogies, which we will get and enjoy Monday.  Meantime today, ST, Johns, the Slavic church hosts their food festival so we will  pick up cabbage rolls and pierogies for him today and see if he is tempted to eat. 

I am disappointed that there is no discount/refund from Logan house for the weeks he was not there in the hospital, SNF.  After all he ate no meals and received no services from them.  I will write this complaint to their  corporate office.  Give me a break.  It cost them nothing to hold his room, they do not have a waiting list for residents. They have assured me they will be able to care for Carl and I will trust that.  Today the home health agency will evaluate him for a wheel chair; he is currently using one from the facility. 

Meantime, God is at work assuring me it is in His Hands.  Last night in response to my  voice mail message Matt, a volunteer fireman at NKFD#1 where Carl was a volunteer and member for over 60 years, called me.  They have been wondering what happened to "Tux" his nickname from early adulthood.  So thank God for  the connection.  He said they would visit him and regretted not knowing he's been there.  Even more, he assured me not a worry on funeral and pallbearers, they will guard the casket and be pallbearers.  Carl used to hang out at the firehall and that was a big part of his life.  Matt told me he could down shots of whiskey with the best of them. It'sa timely convergence of God's plan that I made this connection this trip and I am thankful.  Especially because I know they will visit him and he will be thrilled.  

Indian summer weather here  for several days now, welcome after yesterday's cold air.  Last night's full moon was a "Hunter's Moon" something I'd never heard but Jerry had, he also said it could be called a "Sniper's Moon."  The day before a black cat/kitten showed up outside our motor home and talked to me.  I told it to get lost that it was bad timing for black cats with Halloween around the corner, but here it sat, demanding entrance.  No way!  It was a pretty cat with green eyes, but not here, where we will continue to be animalless.  Cat hopped up onto  step into motor home and wailed, "let me in....let's go for a broom ride" in response to my advice to it to watch out for brooms and witches.  It said it knew I have a broom to ride and it wanted to go along.  Now you know I have  completely turned the corner but these things come to me and I am sharing them here this trip as I catch up on happenings and thoughts. 

I am disappointed I will not get to see Carol, my Ball cousin this trip as they are too busy packing up to return to FL for the winter.  Oh well.

I found the most gorgeous lamb winter coat that had belonged to Aunt Marge, Carl's wife.  Oh I wish I knew someone petite enough to wear it--lovely black curled lamb with a black mink collar.  It won't sell for much when we do have a sale at the house, so if there were someone who'd enjoy it I would give it to them.  It is from Hart's a former upscale department store in the heyday of New Kensington.  I was surprised to find her clothing stored upstairs in the loft.  More stuff to dispose of.  I found a gorgeous black box cocktail ourse which I'm taking home; don't know what I'll do with it but it is very cute and full of  light coral and mint green taffeta yo yo's that Marge cut out.  We will see what I do with that.  More to come.... 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

PA, Uncle, Anniversary

So here we are at where I call "home" because  although I've been gone from here way longer than as the years I lived here growing up, if I did, it's home to me.  Greetings from the local weather have been cooler and wetter, but the sun is shining again today.  Pennsylvania and it's  multicolored autumn woods are glorious right now, which you will see soon as I get a minute to post photos.  Reds, golds, oranges, rusts, greens, yellows, there is not a color not on display in this autumnal landscape throughout the rolling hills. 

Meantime  my time has been spent back and forth and calling doctors and visiting uncle in the skilled facility where I agreed to for a brief  temporary stay for "therapy" at encouragement from the hospital staff.  I should not have agreed to this because while my aunt got excellent care at Highland SNF last year, they have not done  nearly as well by Uncle Carl.  They warehoused him with others on their 2nd floor and crammed him into a room with another man where there is no room to move.  They drugged him with Aricept and when I arrived Sunday he was in bed midday and just not responsive.  Monday I "attacked" the charge nurse and asked if he was being drugged because I sat with him and he would not eat.  Well they set up his meal in the hallway at a table in front of the nurses station, amidst  commotion and elevator opening and closing.  All that stimulation was not working for him and had I not been there, they would have just let him go not eating. I made them take  him to his room where he'd eat peacefully.  This is not my Uncle Carl who has always been a good eater! I demanded he be taken off Aricept immediately to their chorus  of "it slows the progression of dementia" and because I know about this I could challenge them and say, "slows progression, he is 92 years old, what do you mean slow it until he's 102!"  It was needed  for my Mom who had full blown Alzheimer's and who was agitated, it leveled out her attitude and emotions.  But Uncle Carl is not like that and we made decisions long ago to not drug him!

I talked with the doctor who agreed and who was  thinking they had taken him off Aricept after hospital discharge.  Why didn't the doctor determine he was still on it when he did rounds at the SNF?   By Wednesday Carl was improving after Tuesday's very poor day.  Wednesday he was joking and giving me a bad time and  up to therapy and enjoying eating his favorite Fig Newtons which I took to him.   He gulped those down with  milk and applesauce.  And loved it!

He will be  discharged Friday morning back to  what's home to him, the assisted living at Logan  House with therapy arranged and where the staff know and love him and he they.  Highland will regret their actions as I have seen way too much to let it go.  There will be letters as well as discussions with them.   Obviously they are either not doing appropriate charting or their staff do not read the charts.  Four times they were advised that he has not used  dentures after losing them  and has eaten just fine without them for a long time.  Yet they asked me again.  They don't know how I am checking them out, they don't know about my government background in long term care, or they have forgotten but they will learn.  What has happened with Carl may not be "that bad" but to another resident it could be fatal.

Yesterday while I was there with him sitting at the window in the great room and e was enjoying his cookies and milk, a resident fell from his wheel chair!  I saw it, and yelled for the charge nurse whose seat was right across the hall.  Then had I  not grabbed another old lady resident and moved her wheelchair, she would have run over the man on the floor who lay there yelling and hurting.  OMG!  They could not get him up with aides alone, so called the therapists.  Uncle Carl watched this with interest and asked, ":Aren't they going to call the ambulance?"  They never did.  It finally took a huge device and 4 therapists to get Buddy back into his wheel chair where they left him sit!  How do they know he did not fracture something?  I do not believe this is standard of care at all.  That man lay on that floor  over 45 minutes.  I stayed the entire time because I intend to document this and have their protocols investigated.  I do not like that  2nd floor and God alone knows what happens on the  third floor.  The staff do not pay attention, busy talking to themselves.  This man fell because  they were not attentive; there was/is another  resident in a wheel chair who was sitting in the doorway to the room.  She does that all the time and he wanted her to move so he could enter.  Someone should move her but they do not!  Accidental was absolutely unnecessary!  Buddy  yelled and cussed and threatened to "sue their asses."  I hope he does, he may be demented but he is there for care and they are not doing their job!  I hate this and maybe that is why I am here to uncover and expose this fiasco.  The nursing home administrator is the same lovely woman who was here last year, but she is not all over the facility.

Uncle Carl will be out of there Friday.  The therapists told me I was doing the right thing and that perhaps he was depressed there.  Well no kidding I would be!  There is more to this, but all I have time to blog today.

On the bright side, talking with long time (I won't say old) friends from grade school days1  And last night we celebrated our 43rd anniversary with outstanding dinner at Longhorn SteakHouse!  I must remember to add cinnamon (heavy) with light sugar and butter to my baked sweet potatoes at home, so yummy.  The Caesar salad was the best,  anchovies and all.  And the Cosmo was right up there!  My fillet melted in my mouth  and came with hunks of fresh crab.  Jerry stuck to traditional steak and baked  potato and green salad which was so flavorful, that he said he could not have cooked it better himself.!   Long horn is a chain but we have not found another on our travels.  We surely enjoy this one at the Pittsburgh Mills Mall

More later  keep those good thoughts for this episode as our world turns.  One of the nurses at Highland said, "yes it will be better for Carl to leave.  He is not happy here and needs to be in a more cheerful place." 
No kidding.  He has dementia but he is not ready to be warehoused.  I feel so sorry for those others.  Someone said that no one visits them and he was lucky to have me.  I wish I lived closer now  but I don't want to live in PA.  Meantime Jerry is like a hog in mud clearing thourgh Carl's mancave treasures.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Off WE Go

I don't know  why the Air Force theme song comes to mind as I post of our departure tomorrow for PA where we have Uncle's home to winterize and things to do for him.  Sounds like he  is doing good with his therapy in the skilled facility and will be released  in about a week or less to the personal care  assisted facility where he has made his home for over a year now. 

It's always something.  And as usual I am in a tizzie here trying to select clothing and pack up the motor home.  Though I am done except for tomorrow morning when it's shower and take out my  toiletries and roll on down the road.  Pondering what weather we might encounter over the next  few weeks keeps me adding and taking more clothing than necessary.  We seldom go anywhere where we "dress up" if anyone does that anymore at all, I wonder. Maybe on cruises.  But I am compelled to take more than my jeans & capris, some nicer slacks and tops will suffice.  I know  I have loaded excessive clothes again, but it can be warm, cool and or wet. I have started to journal what I wear on these trips and always have twice what I need.  I plan to use the journal to keep myself in better check in the future.  It helps some as I did put back a few outfits already this trip.  Which makes me wonder if I will ever get this packing lite down! 

Jerry just grabs some shirts,jeans, unders and he is ready in  a couple hours tops.  Meantime Pat is still pondering.  Which is why I worked out this morning, when I could have used the time to sort and pack.   I knew the stress would creep in and I can handle  that better with physical activity..

And if I need something the Pgh. Mills Mall is close with all the big  stores and selections. A good excuse to shop, something I do less and less of in retirement.  I, who had a personal shopper at Nordstroms and Macy's in my career days, have now descended to JCPenney, an occasional stop at Macy's, sometimes even Wal Mart but primarily just not shopping.  My casual retirement wardrobe has eliminated my desire to shop.  One good thing about PA is no sales tax on clothing, just like MN.  Of course we shop mostly across the Mississippi in WI where a  5 3/4% sales tax is on clothing,  so unless I go to Rochester or Minneapolis, I am accustomed to paying sales tax.  Shoes, that's the dilemma that wrapped this evening; how many to take and which ones.  I like to wear my sandals as long as I  can, so we shall see. 

I hope we get some all around down time enjoying  my New Ken cronies and are not just in to and fro mode. We will be spending our 43 anniversary in PA so  that  evening may be a nice time to gather and celebrate.  Our RV spot awaits us at Mt. Top RV in Tarentum. Ed and Fran, the owners have  become like cousins as we have stayed there every PA trip.  Nice people.  And the only place in the area. 

Off the keyboard now and to peruse my "to read" bookshelf for another book to take along.  Right now I am in the midst of  a historical novel,  "Andrew Jackson" by Byrd, but I'll finish that in a few evenings and  will need another book for the trip.  Next post may be in PA or if I get very ambitious on the road.  Mostly any interesting  quirks will show up on my Facebook page. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Home Again Shortly and then off again (Click here for Story tellers)

This has to be a tale of words, as I did not take photos of this episode.  We just returned  from our quick trip of five days west to Utah where Jerry thought he had found the upgrade diesel motor home that he has had his eye on over  the Internet, on the lot of General RV in Draper.  I had finally resigned myself to his "needing" a diesel for longer trips which God alone knows when we will be taking the way  life seems to change our plans.  Nevertheless when we got there and saw it, I had an instant dislike to the interior layout and to the colors.  I guess I was expecting to be wowed as I was in November 2007 when we got our current and then new Southwind, upgrading from our old one which we'd bought used and which had many miles logged between CA and MN.  Jerry  had negotiated for the new Southwind over the Internet too, with an RV dealer in Arizona, but this time it just did not work.  As he said, "well you can't win all the time."

We knew that we did not want the two sofas this Providence had but figured that could be easily changed out, or one sofa could be replaced with two Euro style recliners. That  would turn out to be a more cumbersome and costly project than we anticipated.   The coach was really more for a traveling family than two empty nesters.  As I sat on one couch, I looked at the to me wasted big floor space and lamented the lack of kitchen storage although it came with a dishwasher.  Now at home the dishwasher is a must have for me, but on the road in the RV not so much.  The dishwasher has been the first appliance added when we remodeled kitchens in CA, preceding a stove or oven.  But in the motor home, it replaced areas I  now enjoy in our Southwind for storage.  Besides I cook differently in the RV.

The gold tone carpet was not at all to my liking and I began to  figure that would mean a visit to the factory in Decatur, IN to redo as the carpet trim is under the dashboard and up the stairs as well as  along the sofas to the back bedroom.  But the bedroom had the most heinous of all to me--a bedspread of a burnished drab gold  taffeta like  fabric with hundreds of tiny tassels hanging all along the bottom.  Oh NO!  That would have to go immediately!  The RV salesman gasped when I remarked that it looked like it belonged in a whorehouse!  He tried to tone that down with, "well maybe a casino."  No, to me it was typical brothel furnishing!  I've watched  Miss Kitty on  Gunsmoke, and old westerns, I recall the decorative bordellos!

I  did not like the small step down from the bedroom to the hallway either.  I figured on my multiple nightly bathroom calls, I'd forget about the step which we do no have in our current motor home, and end up falling on my kiester at best and breaking my nose at worst! I wasn't saying too much because I could not  tell if I was just being too picky, finicky, ornery,  or was tired from the quick two days we'd spent on the road driving  the 1360 miles.  While Jerry has to have been a long haul truck driver in another life, he loves the road and driving, I have never been good on the road for long miles.  At least in the motor home I can get up and down but there is something about sitting confined as the miles roll by that will get to me.  I read, I use my Blackberry and I work puzzles and write, still I am fidgety.  So I sat on the edge of the sofa and said a quick prayer adding to those I'd had going  through out this process,  "well God, I don't know what to think but I don't think I like it. Now what?"

Jerry had determined a diesel is necessary for more power, towing our  vehicle and climbing some of the hills and mountains   and he has decided a larger motor home will have better liveability.  His first reason was quite comical in that he wants a bigger bathroom shower, saying he   bumps his shoulders on the shower walls!  Now he is not a big guy and that made me laugh.  Although when I do see the bigger Euro style showers in these  bigger motor homes, I admire those too. 

After he looked around and in and out he took a long look at the gold carpet and  shuddered as he said to me, " I don't know about this, what do you think?"  I told him I flat  was not impressed with decor and layout, I prefer the kitchen dinette across from the stove/sink in the kitchen area and for sure I did not want two sofas that made into beds.  We calculated  it would take another $20,000 to get interior and decor changes and realized that besides the $$big bucks we were going to fork over for this one and  trade ours  in as well (which by the way they already had a buyer on hold for) it was just not something we wanted to do.  He liked the model and the engine and does not want a 2010 as there are  emission additives/standards  that are not to his liking. He knows mechanics after a lifelong career.  But he admitted that he did not like the interior either and said, "the carpet has to go..." So it was a no go on the 2009 Providence.

The RV dealer showed us another model , a diesel, a 2010 and with the layout we wanted.  But that is not the model Jerry wants.  He knows mechanical things very well and will not be sidetracked  from what he wants in engines and horsepower.  All that is most  boring to me!  Nor will he deviate  from Fleetwood , as he is impressed with their service and quality.  So we left, feeling a bit disappointed but relieved. 

It was back home and  back to square one for Jerry. We plan a couple months  trip to Alaska next year, GLW%CDR. (*)  We spent five days on the road, drove 2,791 miles, used 361.8 gallons of  gas at $971.18, spent $41.50 for food, $49 for overnight RV fees, and $4.08 for some oil he added as it needed an oil change which he did not want to do  if we were trading it in.   I do love having our food available for a quick bite to eat and even in the  evenings after a day on the road.   As I said, I think he wanted to go for a ride!  Or, maybe it was the travelin' bears who were complaining that they had been confined to quarters for a couple months.  That's it, we agreed, the Bears wanted a ride! 

Now we have a few days to clear up and repack to get back to PA where my 92 year old uncle Carl is failing somewhat.  He no longer is walking  after falling in his room in the assisted living center.  Although he was checked over at the hospital and found nothing broken or damaged, he is using a wheel chair.  His doctor had  him admitted for tests and found no physical reason for him not to walk.  However the nurse & hospital social worker told me he may not walk again.  His doctor wants him to get intense therapy at the Skilled facility and they have classified him as risk of falling.   I am blessed to know the  doctor, nursing facility as well as the  folks at the assisted living center where he has been.  We've spent so much time in PA last year that I have a handle on all of that.    But this is the next step.  We'd been planning a PA trip to winterize his home which I could not get cleared and sold yet this year.  It's always something, as RoseAnneAnnaDanna said!  At least I have friends to see in PA.

If you wondered (*) GLW&CDR= Good Lord Willing and Creek Don't Rise, which waters in many rivers  out west and Midwest are quite high now from rains! And that's my true life story, life as we are living it for this week.  Click here to go to the Story teller site and read others.  Or click above on  my title to this post which will direct you there. 

 asouthernbellewithenorthernroots

Books catch up

Time to log the books piling up  here that I've read, so I can donate them to the annual Curves book sale to support our local library.  There are a couple more, but for tonight  here are four.

"The Collectors"  by David Baldacci published in 2006, was my latest Baldacci read, completed on our RV trip west.  How Baldacci twists and melds  divergent plots so that the interwoven interesting characters keep me on the edge of the pages, always amazes me. In this dual different tales, the first centered on deaths in the Library of Congress' antique book section involving librarians and collectors of  famous old antique  books and  the second a very upscale con artist, Amanda Conroy and her troupe of merry men who avenge her con-father's death on one of Atlantic  cities top dogs by bilking him out of  more than $40 million.  It's a fascinating read how these two settings with unique  characters meet and become responsible  for unraveling a plot of selling top US secrets to unfriendlies. Oliver Stone, alias of a man who has been with special forces and intrigue services internationally for America  but who now works as a caretaker in  a cemetery although still maintaining his skills in security and resolution and who with Milton Farb, Reuben Rhodes and Caleb Shaw  forms the Camel club, an informal watchdog organization to keep the US government accountable to the people.  When Caleb, who's a librarian at the  Library of Congress discovers his mentor dead and is named  by the will to assess and oversee sale of the dead man's antique priceless book collection, the Camel Club becomes involved.  It's a must read  for those who like mystery, intrigue and characters, all Baldacci traits.  This novel though has one of those endings that assure purchase of the next novel, as the wronged Atlantic city mobster is left coming after Amanda who has now partnered with the Camels.  Gotta see what happens in that novel which is likely already published by this prolific author.  Baldacci books never disappoint me.

"Chill Factor" by Sandra Brown is another typical Brown with good twists.  Women are missing in the way back mountain town of Cleary, North Carolina.  Lily Martin has divorced Dutch Burton, now sheriff of the sleepy town and returned to clear all her belongings from their cabin.  On her way down the  mountain pass, in a violent snow ice storm,  her car skids   and strikes a man, Ben Tierney as he comes out from the woods.  They end up returning to her cabin together to wait until the blizzard subsides.  She begins to suspect that Ben may be involved int he murders of the missing women.  Meantime the roads are closed and Dutch, her ex-husband tries desperately to reach her as they fear  that she is about to become the next victim.  Another good one by Sandra Brown.

"The Coffin Quilt" by Ann Rinaldi is an unlikely  little book I picked up in Paducah, KY at the quilt museum.  It fascinated me because of the title and that it was about the Hatfields and McCoys, of Appalachian feudin' fame.  Told mostly through the memories of Fanny McCoy whose sister Roseanna runs off with young Johnse Hatfield, the book introduces  the  family members, their trials  over the years of hatred between these two clans  from 1878 through 1889 and the  terrible destruction of families.  It's a historical novel  and one I'd not have picked up if not for the setting.   The Coffin quilt is made by women as a genealogy with names of the family members   moved into coffins as they die.   It's an ok little quick read, nothing to rave about.

"The Prometheus Deception" by Robert Ludlum had been on my to read shelf a long time, the paperback published in 2000 and I am glad I finally  read it.  I have never been disappointed in Ludlum when it comes to spy, thrillers.  This one is no exception.  After a long successful career as a spy, Nick Bryson  is living an anonymous ordinary life as a college professor in western Pennsylvania until he is lured back into the  spy world of intrigue.  The twist is, was the Directorate, where he  had been employed,  an agency superior to the CIA, or was it a Russian front, and is it now an international conspiracy agent?  This kept me reading until late hours.  Where does the deception end?  He is led to  a mighty undercover operation, Prometheus,  that will reveal the truth to his past and possible terror for the future.  A great intrigue!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Sepia Saturday Week 43 Ziemanns (Click here for Sepia host site)

Week 43  but not for me as I have missed several sessions off and on now back at it sharing some of the recently discovered photos of relatives from  Jerry's side, photos we found while clearing out his mother's apartment.  I just wonder slightly why she did not pass these along to  her children long ago, but that fits her actions all along.  I have been very busy scanning and updating genealogy on his side for the grands, even though Jerry says he is not interested in this, when I scan and dig and write he is right here to look it over!  To me it's all history, which I love.   

Today's post shows one of  Jerry's maternal great aunts, Charlotte  Behrndt  (1882-1973) sister of his Grandpa Charlie, a woman who married Otto Ziemann (1885-1975), an oddity where the husband outlived the wife.  Charlotte, known as Aunt Lottie taught in the rural schools around Hokah MN.  I understand that the requirements to become a teacher were quite different in her day, but still this was an achievement for this poor  Minnesota farm girl.  They did not know they were poor so they went about their lives just fine.  It was a professional career and she would travel around the old roads driving old model t's and sometimes on horseback  to teach children in one room school houses through all kinds of weather. 

Wedding photo 1905


In 1905 she and Otto married and they lived in various places  in northern Minnesota as he was  a butcher, employed by meat markets and then hitting the big time as a salesman for  the George Hormel Company of Austin, MN with a  territory stretching from La Crosse, Wisconsin to Duluth, Minnesota.  They had two sons, Howard who went by Larry ( I don't know why?)  and Norman.  I have not yet found photos of the sons and their  respective families.   In 1922, they moved to La Crosse, WI where Otto opened his own meat market and grocery store that he operated until he retired in 1945.  Being a Behrndt girl, Charlotte was accustomed to hard work, so I suspect that city living felt like living  in the lap of luxury to her.





This next photo shows  Charlotte with her siblings and parents, Adelbert and Sophia Behrndt from a few weeks ago. This was at Adelbert's and Sophia's 50th wedding anniversary in 1923, oddly everyone is dressed in dark clothing, which would have indicated a somber event to me had it not been labeled on the back of the photo.  Charlotte is  the  2nd from the right standing and Charlie, Jerry's grandfather, her brother  is standing amidst his sisters behind the parents. There are those bigger women and smaller men. 

All the Behrndt's gather with Adlebert and Sophia in front



Charlotte and Otto Ziemann and Esther to the right
I  have not learned much about them  but they both lived long happy lives, even celebrating  50th and  60th anniversaries.  I especially a like this photo taken at the her Behrndt parents' home in Hokah, MN in 1930 where Otto is sporting the hat!  I have not yet been able to identify what family event was happening to bring them all together for photos.  Doesn't it look like Charlotte is holding him up from the back?  Typical of the women of this family, Charlotte towered over Otto.     Standing to the right is her sister-in-law, Esther, Jerry's grandmother and Charlie Behrndt's wife. You can barely see the little man to her side who is shorter than her too.

This photo is a newspaper clipping of their  50th anniversary in 1955.  He still has quite the head of hair and she looks lovely with her pearls and corsage. 


Otto and Charlotte Ziemann 65th anniversary

This last photo of them taken at their 65th anniversary in 1965 shows them differently, Otto is taller than Charlotte, which we know was not so all their lives.  Evidently she had shrunk significantly.  Also, it appears that they are  not quite as well or hearty as ten years previous at their 50th.  Still, recognize that they are survivors ,their  celebration was hosted at their same home in La Crosse, WI.  That's Aunt Lottie and Uncle Otto.

As always on this blog, click on the title above to get to the Sepia Saturday host site where you can then  click to see others' postings in this international event of the week!  Or click right here, if you prefer http://sepiasaturday.blogspot.com/2010/09/sepia-saturday-43.html