Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter robins and a good song

Spring must be  here, the last of the snow frozen onto our roof in wintry March is gone, snow is melting all around and today we have March rain, which while hiding the sunbeams with tears is cleansing the streets and melting more icy snow. Tomorrow is Easter, early this year, but a day when we rejoice.  One of those days of the year when  people go to church and in many places of the country still dress up out of respect, out of tradition.  

For the second day in a row here the robins have flocked, they are busy spring harbingers and a welcome sight at last along with the v formations of geese, ducks and birds headed north!  These are more reliable predictions than Punxsatawney Phil.

  Today I walked in the rain after a few hours at the nursing home and overseeing MIL care, I needed the release of outside even if it was  wet.  It started to drizzle just as I stepped out the door, but I thought, Nah won't be bad. I was wrong, but I had a  rain walking jacket with hood so off I trotted. 

Sighting  a large robin in our side yard, I thought about that old song I sang as a kid, "When the red red robin comes bob bob bobbin along, along, there'll be no more sobbin.....", actually one that Uncle Carl taught me, he played a harmonica and I sang and danced.  We were a hit of the house and the neighborhood near and far,  I got dimes and quarters at Sarniaks butcher shop for my performance, with my pipe curls and all who knew where the talent would take me.  Hah!  After each show, I would tell Uncle Carl,  "but I'm still a kid  and the song says again??"  I was puzzled but he assured me it was all part of the performance and entertainers had to go with the words.  It is a song of perky happy times, at least for me.  A welcome interlude in this time of MIL responsibilities, daily SNF  calls and lots of energy spent.  I almost could skip in the rain singing red red robbin bobbin though. 

  I have learned that the popular song was written in 1926, by songwriter Harry M. Woods.  Wikipedia says:  The song was an instant hit for singers like "Whispering" Jack Smith, Cliff Edwards and the Ipana Troubadors. Al Jolson, however, had the most success with his recording, which reached #1 on the Billboard charts.  The song became the signature song for singer and actress Lillian Roth, who performed it often during the height of her musical career from the late 1920s to the late 1930s. It was later performed by Susan Hayward, playing Roth, in the 1955 biographical film about Roth, I'll Cry Tomorrow.The song was recorded in 1953 by Doris Day, and again reached considerable success on the charts.   (Oh wow,  Mom liked that I'll Cry Tomorrow Movie...)  Lots of  memories here  Easter eve.

Here is a link to a you tube of Doris Day's rendition

But my favorite is the Bing Crosby
There are ever so many red red robbin comes bob bob bobbin along on you tube.   you can find a favorite there, I am sure.    Happy blessed Easter to bloggy land  pals and all. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

If it's not one thing it's your mother

December 13, Christmas Party
Florence looking at Santa's baby
So goes a pop culture quote that includes books, TV shows, magazine articles, t shirts, even Robin Williams' sayings and some reach back to Freud blaming it on your mother.  But that it has been the mother again here, a siege for us beginning with the phone call Sunday afternoon:  Jerry's 96 year old mother, Florence,  (aka MIL=mother in law) fell  in her room at the  skilled facility where she has resided for two years.  She has been  our responsibility since 1980 when her husband passed away and we acquired the task of looking out for and  putting up with the demands and annoyances of this dependent, manipulative woman as her other two younger children opt out.  Truth, Jerry's full sister, dead since 2004 but who was alive at the time would have stepped up but she had her own siege of medical and financial problems and was not really able to do much.  So it has been that we got the Old Maid.  At 96, you think there is not much  time left but they live long lives in her family and she is the last of the 5 sisters, the youngest, the baby and the less stable  mentally and the nastiest.  All this has been told before, our lives whirling along and finally we have had some degree of freedom with her in the nursing home.  We have been concerned about this potential, she had a walker to use for stability but with her dementia and  bull headedness she often neglects to use it in her room.  The orthopedic surgeon wondered if she had previously fallen.  How does anyone know, her hearing is almost non existant, she does not communicate, she attempts to be secretive, to hide things, much as the hoarding we cleared from her room.  That is another story we filled 4  big trash cans with old  napkins, boxes, paper plates, old newspapers, old church bulletins, envelopes, and the worst used disposable underwear.  The  facility staff try to not  intrude on a resident's privacy but after I discovered the garbage upon garbage, some other protocol must be followed. 

Who knows how it happened, they found her on the floor near her bed, and in pain.  She has a high pain threshold and an ability to ignore aches so when she complained, they knew it was serious.  An ambulance transport to emergency at the Gunderson hospital in La Crosse and ever since  4:00PM Sunday it has been a tilt a whirl; her partial hip replacement surgery at 11:00PM, being up out of bed Monday morning, standing yesterday and declared medically stable and dischargeable back to the SNF today.  Medically stable says nothing about mentally unstable and there's not much to be done about that.  She convinced the hospital attendants to call her son and when she got Jerry on the phone she was belligerent and demanded he come get her.  We requested they not connect a phone, but they try to do what a patient wants or what makes their life easier.  I wish her daughter had interest and would come and sit at the facility, taking care and be pushed to  frustration but that is not going to happen and so we make do.  I watch my own tongue and attitude because I do not want to be mean to an old lady, someday I'll be old too, but what a predicament.  Long discussions with the therapists and nurses at the home this morning about protocols and a new level of care for her. Will she comply, will she attempt to do something she should not and reinjure herself, what next?  All questions to be answered as we look toward Easter.    I'll not be Easter decorating this year, too much else to deal with.  

Full healing may take 6 months.  This is a time of instability when anything can happen.  A cousin reminded me that Aunt Berniece died of complications from a broken hip, but Florence has a strong heart and  body in ways unbelievable for a 96 year old.  Many  nurses marveled at how good she looks for 96 and then they marveled at how nasty she could be,  how she could be foul in disposition and demeaning, I am not surprised.  We hope progress continues.  Such is life.  

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Mother nature is not playing by the calendar

Today I declared,  "Enough is beyond enough."  Spring must be allowed to catch up to the calendar, so I hung the spring forsythia wreath and anticipate passing of this  Marchlong winter.  Such a bizarre hold onto the wintry weather, return to the ice age, and fie to the ice and snow.  We have melt in progress but the last couple days frigid single digit temperatures in the early morning reaching perhaps the high 20 degrees by noon, then repeating the frigid records the next morning.  But at last it is  warming,  36 and 38 degrees and we are good to go walk outside, bundled but nevertheless in fresh air.  But wait, more on the way this week. Maybe the weather will not pay attention to the predictions.

I have good news too about my boob recall, all is well.  Yesterday with more intense diagnostic xrays and a sonogram, the radiologist admitted there was nothing there, but normal breast tissue. However he wants me to  return in 6 months for another sonogram so he is absolutely sure.  I could not see what he thought he detected on the screening until he ultra magnified.  I asked if it could have been calcification to which he responded no nor a cyst.   I think of Carol, Linda and Joan and Karen, friends in CA  who all lost their fights with breast cancer years ago, Carol especially dying a very long drawn out death, and others quickly taken, along with a  friend in PA  who is a survivor today.  So I am blessed to have this care from Mayo.  To my joking repartee that he had given me a headache for nothing, Dr Uy  replied that "I have a perfect record of diagnosing, I have not ever missed anything and I am not going to start with you."   The nurses warned that he is a perfectionist and has been known to stand looking over the shoulder of the technician doing the sonogram or taking over the xray machine to get photos.  Attention to detail, that's the right stuff.

Yesterday afternoon and this morning on my walks around the 'hood I took some ice, snow and melt photos.
Down the corner to south 14th, roads clear snow aside

Under all that whiteness is the track where I like to walk,
not possible this month
The shadow from the pine allows the melting to become treacherous
glassy ice.  One must walk carefully, like a bear over these patches 
Melt, ice, white prevail down the street at the hockey rink and ball fields
The shadow of the branch resembles an irritated person, weary of winter,
hair on end, arms extended, snapping at the grass under ice,
"be gone with you white and glassy hazard. Let the green emerge!"
This lamppost through the barren branches will not be
visible once the leaves come with spring.  It is
spring so says the calendar, Mama Nature,
pay attention.,

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Getting the green; today we all share the Irish

I have not a drop of Irish blood, but  do celebrate St. Patty's day.  When I first heard of this day as a child, I figured it was for me, anything Patty related was mine and no one told me any differently. One of  our traditions is an annual feast of corned beef, cabbage, boiled potatoes, carrots and onions, horseradish with some green added and all washed with Guinness.  This traditionally Irish meal is not so well known in Ireland.  An Irish coffee might appear too especially if the day is dreary.  Green tea at the end of the day.  I dress in as much green as I can without looking like  a clump of cabbage and rather like the idea of the rainbow, with the pot of gold, so I don bling and some gold too.. oh and this year I have green fingernails with glitter,  fun for the few days. . 

Corned beef is such an easy meal to make that when it goes on sale, generally the day after St Pat's Day, I purchase a few briskets for the freezer and we enjoy  a repeat meal another time.  What can be easier than  tossing it into a pot with spices, usually provided with the brisket, I add more dill and bay leaf, and some tiny boiling onions, water, a  can of beer and letting it boil and simmer for hours and hours.  Later on, add the potatoes, carrots and last the cabbage which I prefer merely steamed a bit; Jerry wants his more cooked.  

Here is a new to me recipe that appeared in today's La Crosse Tribune.  If we have enough left overs this could be a follow up meal tomorrow,  Panini Reubens non traditional with cabbage and  sans thousand island dressing which I do not like anyway.

Green jadeite rooster
 This year I tried to decorate for the day, we  were just home from snow birding and I was removing the last of the burgundy and gold decor from Christmas, so looked for my green; there was not much but a trip to Hobby Lobby and Michael's and I was in business.  I have one new piece of green from a recent expedition to the Lacrosse Center Flea and Antique show, this dandy rooster, bringing my rooster collection to a grand trio.  I found him unusual and while I am really trying to avoid trinkets I could justify purchasing him for only $5, the vendor was desperate for a sale as he had been $25.  Not a chip nor a crack, so he gets center table stage this year.  He perches proud amidst some Kelly green small vases that I have collected from family over the years.  Some small foil derby hats atop the vases and the green was on.  These were my Aunt Marge's vases, she loved "showy" so I know she would approve of the glittery hats.

Green vase with new green bowler

In addition to the small tinsel tree I leave up year round in the downstairs TV room corner, with all intentions of decorating it year round, I am adorning my antique post washer, described best as a metal plunger on a broomstick, which belonged to my grandmother Rose and perhaps her step mother before that. It reminds me how difficult housework used to be in her day and how I should not find it that difficult to run an electric vacuum and apply the microfibers to what little dust I get in this house. Over Christmas I moved the plunger to the foot of the stairs and adorned it in red, and set an angel atop with teddy bears at its base. For St Patty's decor I found some green and gold tinsel for the broomstick, attached an Irish angel and pulled out Tweety for the base with the angel. A sight of memories at the foot of the stairs, today it is  Pat's shillelagh.

Antique washer wearing
the green.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Beware the ides of March

That would be tomorrow,the ides, most famously recalled in the soothsayer's warning to Julius Caesar,  but perhaps tomorrow will arrive sans snow and full of sun.  For anyone unfamiliar, Google the ides and there is  a plethora of information and websites.  Today there was a pale cast to the sky amplified with an early AM phone call of not so welcome tidings, pre Ides.  Yesterday I had my annual mammography and this morning the radiologist office called to require my returned presence--my left boob is in question, recalled, if you will.  This has never happened before to me, so while I am keeping a positive front, I am concerned.  I have learned that 1 in 10 women have a recall on their routine mammography screening. 

Mayo clinic mammo photo  I have never seen this technician

The clinician  yesterday seemed not as about business as  what I've had in the past, she neither squeezed, compressed nor twisted me in standing and sideways positions as I have been  done to before.  She took only one frontal and one side shot per boob.  I am accustomed to more agony and photos and so perhaps I must return for my fair share.  
When the unwelcome call came that I would have to go to La Crosse where they have greater equipment, I  joked, "what my boob has outgrown Onalaska?  I have had no change in cup or bra size"  Both clinics are just across the river but I have preferred Onalaska, the newest.  While the clinician laughed, she proceeded to offer other times for my left boob recall.    I am concerned and thinking of what ifs simultaneous to making a joke and shrugging it off.  After all, why worry now, do not borrow trouble which can come time enough.  Still, my left boob, favored side on which I sleep, bigger of the pair, is in question; I have had no symptoms nor concerns.  I am blessed to have Mayo clinic and a doctor who is a professional worry wart and while it could be nothing I think about the women whom I buried after they lost their battles with breast cancer and I think about survivors and pink today and I say, "time will tell, wait and see...."    
A large study published in the New England Journal of Medicine proved that isn’t the case.  All women have a 5% to 15% chance of being recalled. It doesn’t mean you have breast cancer. In fact, the odds are against it.   Radiologists are looking for two main signs of cancer: mass (tumors) and calcification. When a woman gets regular annual mammograms the radiologist compares the current year’s views with last year’s. If anything looks different or develops, returns for additional views or studies are taken to tease out what is being seen. Women develop benign tumors which may grow larger but do not spread to other parts of the body and calcifications all the time. These are quite common and include cysts, fibroadenomas, and solid masses. Calcifications occur most often simply as a result of the natural aging process from the degeneration of tissue"

I think of that old comical Mammogram poem that has made the email rounds for ages and copied in old xerox machines  prior to that.  It is online for the looking but I recall some lines long ago memorized, .... For years and years they told me, "Be careful of your breasts."   Don't ever squeeze or bruise them, and give them monthly tests.  So, I heeded all their warnings.....and protected them by law.... Guarded them very carefully, and always wore a bra.....   and on it goes.....I do not want to repeat it in entirety because I find it tedious to have reiterations, just as some late comers to email repeat and recirculate old articles, jokes, I refrain. 

Uncle Carl  Third or Fourth grade
Another thing, the month of March now feels
Aunt Jinx, Virginia
Second grade photo 
strange because I have two less  birthday cards to send; two cards for which I would search to find just the right sentiment.  

 March had birthdays of my late Aunt Jinx and Uncle Carl.  She was born March 1, 1921 and would have been 92 this year.  She was mom's older sister.  Uncle Carl, Mom's older brother was born March 21, 1918 and would have been 95 this year.   She died in 2009 and he in 2011.  The last of my elderlies, the last of the old family.  Now I am the old family. 

Love this photo of my late  aunt and uncle taken on one of my visits, June 2008, sitting on his porch, their lives went downhill after this visit.  Notice both reflecting in the same pose, they laughed later, he saying, "oh she always copied me."  Isn't it always something.....hold the good thoughts.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Time at home and settling in again

Mississippi Camellia
We have been home for a week and all is well, despite the snow last week. This southern trip was the first time we have stayed in place and that was a welcome experience at Bay St Louis, MS, Bay Hideaway RV, where snowbirds flock.  Our last day driving home from Chatham IL  was in snow but none accumulated on the interstate and traffic was easy.  Once home, the white stuff returned, leaving a build up of more than what was present in January when we departed, with these late winter storms.  When did snowstorms begin to be named?  I just noticed that this year.  Fortunately we are shielded   by our river bluffs, the 6-7 inches was Ol Man Winter's welcome  and a way to tune up Jerry's shoveling and blowing skills lest they became stagnant while we were south.  I suggested he just allow Dustin to deal with it; Dustin is an ambitious and capable young man who practices winter snow removal and summer lawn maintenance  for a reasonable fee while we travel .  Butt oh no, Jerry says it is good free exercise.  Fortunately snow is already melting and the past two days with temperatures in the higher 30 degrees I have had two great outside walks, even worked up a sweat and had to remove my parka hood and unbutton. 

White camellia bush, notice the spent white
petals all over the ground around the bush
The photos are from Long Beach, MS  the  camellias had bloomed late January and by early February were nearly spent, reminding me of what I have not seen since we left California, the beautiful camellias of Sacramento where their lovely blooms have been celebrated with an annual  festival.  Far as I know camellias do not grow in MN, how could they harbing spring in January or February from  beneath white snow.  I had forgotten how lovely they are.

Azaleas and daffodils were in full bloom in
AL where we spent a week to return to Fairhope, my favorite little town in the entire country.  I have been working on downloading ,  organizing trip photos which I wonder why I take, but then I consider blog fodder and many I have slapped onto Facebook, so easily from my so smart Samung phone and or tablet, but sooner or later, like paperwork they must be dealt with, downloaded, cropped, deleted, and organized.  Adding to tasks that bide their time until I have some to spare. 

Speaking of time in Bay St Louis, MS where we spent a month, the local artists and shops host 2nd Saturdays offering wide assortments of refreshments and beverages for an evening stroll through the boutiques and galleries.  The following time sculpture caught our eye...Jerry is especially fond of clocks and watches and courtesy of my late aunt Jinx and Uncle Carl has a small collection. This was a unique use of vintage and newer clocks. 
Time sculpture at Bay St Louis MS
.Whilst I have not forgotten my blog, I will try to find time to bring posts up to date....and use those photos.