Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Jacaranda attack

Lordy, our yard is purple. The jacaranda tree is dropping flowers like crazy. Yesterday when we were having lunch we were picking them out of our food. Jim had the yard totally raked and swept yesterday and today it's pretty much solid purple out there. Kinda pretty but kinda weird. It's like we've got tribbles or something. Major infestation.

I walked the Rube this evening. I wasn't too perky. I think I was a bit dehydrated.

I'm making progress on the ukulele case. I've taken only one picture because the batteries ran out on the camera. I bought some more today so I'll catch up.

I also bought some stuff for my fish tank diorama. We're going for a tiki motif. And I got some more fishies. Gonna try neon tetras and see if they don't get eaten right away. At first the other fish were chasing them around but after a while they all settled down. They had some really gorgeous angel fish at the fish store. If the neons don't survive I'll get some.

I'm going to try skipping dinner tonight. Let's see if I make it.

Monday, May 30, 2005


The sibling meeting went well last night. I was a bit paranoid that Dad would decide to pop over to Stacey's unannounced and discover our "family conspiracy". But he didn't.

No monumental decisions were made. It was more of an imformation exchange and Donita bitch-fest. I gave my Texas report and David talked about financial stuff. We decided we'll let Dad have one more tree season and then that's it. We also talked a little bit about what we'll want to do when Dad gets to where he can no longer care for himself. No decisions there either but it was good that we talked about it. This whole Alzheimer's thing is about crossing bridges when we come to them.

Today everyone is coming here for lunch. Nothing fancy, just sandwiches. I've got a big tri-tip in the fridge. Maybe I'll slice it up thin and grill it. I don't know if we'll eat here or at Dad's. We've got shade in our yard. Also, the kids will want to be here to play video games.

Whatever we do I still have to finish cleaning the house.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Come on, get it moving

I have some stuff to do but I'm indulging in some lollygagging. I went up Mt. Rube this morning and then went to the grocery store. After I got home Jim and I cut a big branch off the tree in the back yard. It had to go, it was blocking the satellite dish. Must have tv.

So, I can lounge around for the rest of the day, right? Nope. The house is tres messy. It's gone beyond cluttered. Dede and David and the boys are coming down this afternoon so it's a good bet we'll have a housefull tomorrow. So, instead of wasting time here doing this blogging thing I should be in there cleaning.

Yeah, I'll get right on it.


Twenty-three years of weddedness

Happy Anniversary to us. It was on this day in 1982 that we assembled upon this hill and had the best damn low cost wedding anybody ever saw. It was a good one, I'm tellin' ya.

We still had our moms with us then. I wish they were here now.

My mom made the dresses and Jim's shirt. We did the flowers. A friend made the cake. We had potluck food which was awesome. Our talented friends provided the entertainment. We danced for hours.

Then Jim and I went on a honey of a honeymoon. We camped around the desert southwest. We toured the Grand Staircase (Grand, Bryce and Zion canyons), dug ourselves out of a sand dune at Lake Powell and wrapped it up at Milsap Bar in California.

It was a great start for a wonderful marriage. There have been some tough times but I sure have had a lot of fun with this guy. One of the toughest times we've been through is going on right now. He's been amazing through it all.

But really, it's been fun. We have a wonderful creative partnership. Our gifts blend well. One of the things I enjoy most is doing some kind of project with Jim. Whether it's working out some music, building a studio or creating a new Halloween display piece it's always fun.

He truly is my better half.

We've been married 23 years but we've been together since highschool. That's 32 years.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Chili cookoff

We went to the chili cookoff and car show today. We met Ken and Sherri there. For $5 you get some little chili cups and 2 spoons. Then you go from booth to booth sampling the chili. Some were good, some were weird and yucky. The car show was kinda cool. The whole thing was basically a below average street fair.

Later we went to Ken and Sherri's. We made mondo pitchers of Margaritas and barbequed a selection of meats. It was another one of those theraputic afternoons at the Smith's.

Drank a bit too much, tho.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Band practice

Ahhh... I needed that.

I was going to walk to Ken's tonight. When I got about halfway there, Jim pulled up. He was going to offer me a drink of water but I decided that I wanted to get there more than I wanted the exercise so I hopped in and rode the rest of the way.

Ken and Sherri just got back from Tiff's wedding in Kentucky. I really missed them this week. I think that's one thing that made our week harder. Ken and Sherri were gone. I was missing one of my walking buddies. We couldn't have band practice.

Paul couldn't make it tonight and Amber wasn't feeling well so it was Ken, John, Jim and me. It wasn't the most productive rehearsal but it was fun and we tried some new stuff. It was nice to hang out, talk, drink and play music. It was just right.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Ukulele case

It's official. I've started on the case. My finger hurts.

I'm making a ukulele case for Jeff. One of his ukes is an odd shape and needs a custom case. Once, when he was here playing music, I traced around it and took some measurements. This was several months ago. Today I took out the tracing and got to work.

I measured out an inch from the outline and cut out a pattern. Then I traced it onto a piece of heavy cardboard and cut it out with an Xacto (which is what hurt my finger). Then I glued it onto a piece of foamcore. That's it so far. I'm waiting for the glue to dry.

I like doing stuff like this. I enjoy the process of figuring it all out. I need to buy more foamcore and cardboard. At some point Jeff will have to pick out some fabric for the cover. Other than that I think I have everything I need. Except hinges. Gotta get those.

I guess I'll take some step by step photos, too.

So many other things I could be thinking about

I'll watch the train wreck from afar today.

I was wrong about the guys working in the trees yesterday. I misread the t-shirts. They were Bud Lyon's crew. They're back today spraying. Jim talked to Dad this morning and said he's all excited. He gets to run around out there giving orders and making people do his bidding. Mr. Big Shot. Nothing in the world makes him happier. Meanwhile, the money goes down the drain.

But I can't do anything about it. Today I'll make some vitamin packets and take them over to Dad's but that's it. Then maybe I'll go buy some paper so I can paint something. I should clean up my art table, too. Someone I know is waiting for a ukulele case.

Tonight is Paige's Spring concert. Lindsay's too, but we can't be in two places at once.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Fish tank

Paige got bored with having a fish tank in her room. She was down to 3 fish in a 20 gallon tank. So, yesterday I went to the pet shop and bought naturally colored gravel to replace her bright red gravel and bought 8 more fish and 2 live plants. I took the aquarium apart and gave it a good cleaning. Then I set it up in the living room. It looks pretty boring right now but I'm considering it to be a blank canvas. Someday you won't recognize it. For now I taped a piece of the Squaresville paper behind it so you 're not looking at the blank wall.

I want to make a box that fits the back of the tank and is about 3 inches deep. Then I want to make some kind of diorama to go into it and then affix it to the tank. The possibilities are endless. I'm also going to paint the frame of the tank and do something goofy with that boring stand.

Today I gave the front porch a good cleaning. It was getting pretty bad. We were approaching white trash front porch.

Dad has a whole crew working out in the trees today. They're trimming and spraying. Lots of people working in the trees and they're all wearing Timio's Landscaping t-shirts. What's up with that?

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


I had a scream out with Dad on the phone this morning. I don't think I could remember everything that was said, it went too fast. I unloaded on him pretty good, tho. Sorry, I was provoked.

Dede and David are coming this weekend and we're going to have a sibs meeting without Dad. Boy, do I need it. Dad has been feeling better lately so he thinks he doing better. He thinks he can handle stuff just fine. But he really can't. Every day we see it more and more.

He doesn't want anyone to know he has Alzheimer's. But it's very obvious to anyone who knows him. So when he finds out that someone has figured it out he thinks I told them. Then he accuses me of not honoring his wishes.

He wanted to know why I was avoiding him. When I tried to explain to him that his behavior in Texas hurt me and reminded me of past abuse he accused me of holding a grudge and demanded my forgiveness. Painful memories from childhood don't add up to a grudge. You don't just tell someone to get over it.

God, my throat is tight right now.

He needs to be made to understand that he has a serious problem and that he needs to make some major changes in his life. He can't go throwing his weight around with us. I see a big ol' train wreck coming and Stan is the engineer. I don't know how to deal with this. I think the whole family needs to get tough with him. Make him understand he needs our help. Make him understand he HAS to go along with what we see is the best for him. He can't fight it anymore.

Today he and Timio are going out to buy more farm supplies.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Better today

This morning Jim and I walked up Rubidoux. We took Paige to school and went right over. I'm guessing we started walking at 8:10 or so. It was pretty pleasant although it was starting to get hot. It was a good walk.

Afterwards we went to Little Green Onion for breakfast. The huevos rancheros with chili verde was muy (insert Spanish word that means tastes good). Then we came home and did some serious goofing off. I actually took a nap and I almost never do that anymore.

At six I met Jeff and walked up Rubidoux AGAIN. We talked mostly about our aging and difficult parents. We always talk about that. It was another good walk and it didn't even feel like my second trip. I could probably do another one right now and still feel pretty good. But it's late and it's dark and I'm in my jammies.

Anyway, I'm doing better today. Exercise helps, talking to Jim and Jeff helps, taking action helps. So does sitting on my front porch playing solitaire and drinking wine.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Ass kicking requested

I've been back from Texas almost a week and I'm having trouble getting back into my exercise routine. I may be mildly depressed.

That trip kind of knocked me down. It's been a long time since I've had the kind of treatment that I got from Dad last week. I moved away from home to get away from that. Being with Dad and having him blow up at me like that reminded me how much I hate it. Just thinking about it makes me pretty angry.

I know that it's partly because of the Alzheimer's. But only partly. Dad was like this when we were growing up. He was always nasty and abusive when he was angry. Winning an argument was always the most important thing to him and to hell with anyone's feelings. It's hard to feel sorry for him when his behavior brings back so many unpleasant memories and body sensations. It's also hard for me to feel any kind of love for him right now. How can I love someone who makes me feel so bad? It would make me sick if I made my children feel like that.

Eventually I'll get over it. But I have to do something to help myself right now. I was feeling so fabulous before I went to Texas. I exercised every day and I was sticking to the diet. Now I keep making these false starts. It doesn't help that Sherri is in Kentucky right now. How dare Tiffany get married? What about meeeee????

So, help me out here. Drag me up Rubidoux. Call me for walks. Take me out dancing. Encourage me to eat right.

Take Dad for a ride in the desert...

We give up.

We're going to drain the pool.

Jim and I went over there this morning to work on it. Jim devised a clamp for the vacuum filter out of some chain and three bungees. When he got it going it filled up instantly. The filter was clogged with masses of Maggie's hair. After spending an hour in the blazing sun we gave up.

There are several problems with keeping the pool.-
1. It's in Dad's back yard. That's a good enough reason right there. The place is a total crap hole (those 2 dogs generate a LOT). You can't sit on any of the furniture because it's rotted. After spending hours getting the pool cleaned we would have to do a ton of yard work just to be able to stand being there. Supplies end up broken and missing.
2. The expense. We have to buy the chemicals. We'd have to pay Dad for the electricity to run the filter.
3. It's in Dad's back yard (part 2). When we're over there Dad wants to come out and "shoot the bull". There is no one in this world (except for Jim) who knows how utterly sick I am of Dad's endless storytelling. I have to put up with it when I drive him to Loma Linda to his doctor's appointments. We have to put up with it when he comes over 3 and 4 times a day. We have to put up with it when friends come visit and he pops in uninvited, sits down and lassos the conversation. I'd like to go for a nice swim and get some exercise but I don't want to do it with Dad there and I can't very well ask him to stay out of his own back yard. Paige and Lindsay feel the same way.
4. Ken and Sherri have a pool and they're just down the street. They are much more fun to talk to. Dad is almost never there.

So that's it. We tried. When we first moved here I thought that having the pool available would make living here more bearable. Turns out it was just another source of frustration and totally not worth the amount of work involved. Battling a geriatric filter system will suck the life out of you.

Just ask Jim.

Dancing with hippies.

Ooh, I've discovered a new fun thing. New to me anyway. It's actually hundreds of years old. It's Contra Dance. Contra comes from the word "country" and it originated in England.

Today I went to the Claremont Folk Festival. There were two workshops I wanted to take; African drumming and Contra Dance. I'd done a little reading on Contra Dance and it looked like something that would be a lot of fun and also be another way to exercise. I'm trying to find lots of different ways to exercise so I won't get bored.

It's kind of like square dancing but you change partners throughout the dance. It can be done in a square but it's not limited to just one formation. We did one dance where the couples were in a line but the rest were done in a circle. It's a pretty good workout and I enjoyed the social aspect of dancing with a big group and changing partners every few seconds. There's a group in Riverside that meets on the first Saturday of the month at All Saints church. I'm gonna go.

The African drumming workshop would have been a lot more fun if it weren't for this stoopid stoner guy who kept interrupting the teacher. He kept shouting out stuff like, "Tell, em about it! You the king!' While the rest of us were trying to learn the rhythms this guy was thumping off these bappata bappata things that weren't even on the beat. It wasn't even his drum. He had found it sitting on the ground and picked it up without asking the owner. Then he started blasting away on a slide whistle. Lucky for him he was in a group of hippies. Anyone else would have beat the crap out of him.

Friday, May 20, 2005

I could be in big trouble

Today Dad left the water running on the trees for about 5 hours. He watered them yesterday for four hours, both times in the middle of the day. When I went over there to tell him it needed to be turned off Timio was there and Dad was on the phone. He was trying to read off a credit card number so he could purchase something. No, first he was trying to use a business card for the transaction. Tomio handed him his credit card and Dad continued on with that. He had a LOT of trouble trying to give the number, expiration date and the code number on the back of the card. I asked Timio what he was buying. He said machetes to trim the trees. I asked him how much. Ninety bucks for two machetes.

Somehow Dad managed to finish the transaction. He went out to shut off the water and Timio went down the alley to his house. I went around the front and met Timio at the end of the driveway. I did the forbidden thing. I told Timio that Dad has Alzheimer's.

I told him that Dad is losing money trying to keep the farm going. I told him he should probably start thinking about where he and his family are going to live after they leave the farm. I told him the water rates are going up. I told him the barnyard needs to be cleaned up. I told him lots of stuff and he listened.

He can see that Dad is having problems. He said he knew that the farm was probably in trouble. He understood that he needs to get himself ready for the day when they'll need to leave. He also said he wouldn't tell Dad that I told him. He asked me what he should do if Dad tells him to buy something or hire people to do work. I told him to see if he can put him off a while but if Dad is insistent, Timio can go ahead and do what he asks. I don't know how else he could handle it without spilling the beans.

It was a good conversation. I told him I would keep him informed about any big changes. So now it's done. I've been wanting to do that for months.

New Star Wars

Well, it wasn't as bad as the last two. Man, they sure spent a lot of money on such a cheap film. But I will give them points for the main message of the film which is GEORGE BUSH SUCKS.

But I already knew that.

Freakin' camel spiders

We just got back from the emergency room. Paige got bit by a camel spider (see Jim's blog). It freaked her out pretty good. I was alone in the studio when she came in quite upset. She was sure it was a camel spider but the only ones I knew about live in the middle east and they're huge. We caught it, sprayed it with bug spray and put it in a ziplock bag. Jim came home while we were Googling poisonous spiders trying to find out if we needed to rush off to the hospital. We decided better safe than sorry so we left.

The emergency room was pretty full so we were there quite a while. All the kids wanted to check out the spider in the ziplock bag. They finally called her in. After looking at her for about 5 minutes they sent us home. We stopped by Walgreens for some Benadryl just in case. When we got home Jim had completed his research. Yep, it's a camel spider. A little, teeny camel spider. I think Paige is going to have him mounted.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

A visit with Dean and the end of the trip

I got to Dean's at around 8:45. It was like, AHHHHHHH. After a quick tour of her new house we plopped down in the living room with drinks in hand. This was the break I needed.

Her new house is nice, mainly because her stuff is nice. Her old house was better. It was old and the floors made a pleasant sound when you walked on them. This house is newer and is built on a slab. She and Greg had done a lot of work on the old house. It had a nice rec room and a beautiful deck in the back yard. But they had to move because there were some unpleasant changes happening in the neighborhood. She said the neighbors are still fighting over it. Plus, now they are mortgage free.

But still, it's a nice house. It has a balcony that goes across the whole front of the house. The guest room has its own bathroom. The back yard is nicely shaded and it has a hot tub. They'll need to replace the deck pretty soon. It's a little scary to walk on. They'll probably do some work on the place to bring up the value and then move back closer to town.

The doggies are still the doggies. Gus is getting pretty old. The new girl pups are fun to be with. Eddie is still Eddie and I like Eddie very much.

Greg came home and we all had dinner. Then we did some mellow partying and stayed up late. Oh, it was wonderful. No Dad, no conservative political talk, no Texas accents.

On Sunday we lounged around a bit and then went out to breakfast. Austin is sooo different than the rest of Texas. Everything's cuter, funkier, more artsy, more like CALIFORNIA. Austin is more like home. The restaurant we went to was pretty good. I had a breakfast taco and these HUGE gingerbread pancakes. Lordy they were good.

Later we went to this place on the river called The Pier. It has a nice, big, indoor snack bar and a picnic area and a stage outside. People can dock their boats there and hang out listening to live music. We were there to hear the Fabulous Chevelles. They're a classic rock cover band and they're pretty good. They do a lot of the same stuff we do. We got some onion rings and drinks and sat in the shade and listened. We sat through a couple sets. They ended the second set with Orange Blossom Special which doesn't come across as well with a harmonica lead. It was the weakest thing they did. Then they invited their special guests, who weren't nearly as talented, to come up and play a few. When we heard the threatenings of a country song we left.

We went back to Dean's. Greg came home and fixed some freakin' awesome HUGE steaks for us. Dean and I watched ALL of Pride And Prejudice (about 5 hours) and had another mellow, pleasant evening.

In the morning we had leftover steak and eggs for breakfast. After doing a little more hanging out (We did a lot of hanging out. Fine with me) we went downtown to go to some stores and leave paper samples. I think I can legally write off my plane ticket for this trip. Then we went to the new Whole Foods for lunch. I left from there to go back to San Antonio. On the way I stopped at Garden Ridge Pottery and bought some stuff I don't need.

When I got back to the Butchers Dad wasn't there. He and Buddy had taken a drive out to Castell to check out the old family places and see some relatives. They got back just as we were sitting down for dinner. I'm glad Dad got to have a whole day with Buddy.

The next morning we grabbed a quick breakfast and headed for the airport. The flight home was mostly uneventful but Dad had to get in one more beastly episode just to make the trip complete. The woman sitting next to us wanted to get out when we landed because she had someone picking her up. There was no way she could have made it off the plane in a hurry because everybody was getting their stuff out of the overheads. But so what? Why not honor her request and let her by? Dad got testy. I tried to deal with it but he was just getting worse. I finally told him to just stop. UGH! After we got off the plane I walked ten paces in front of him to the baggage claim. I just didn't want to see his face anymore.

So that's it. I would really like for Dad to stay away from me for a while. He's come over a couple times to get help with diabetes stuff and Jim dealt with it. Jim actually had his own encounter with Dad that was upsetting. Dad came over and started pressuring Jim to give him all of his diabetes supplies. Jim explained several times why we were keeping most of the supplies here. Dad kept pushing like Jim was a car salesman and Dad was demanding he knock off a couple hundred bucks off the price. Jim finally told him he has to decide if he wants Jim to continue helping him. That's when Dad changed the subject. Jim did give Dad some more of the diabetes supplies which he took home and promptly lost. Jim went over there later and found them under a piece of paper in the bathroom.

There's more stuff like that that's happened. Dede and David are coming down soon and we're going to have a family meeting that doesn't include Dad. I think he may be moving into the next phase of his disease. But maybe it's just that he didn't have his meds and vitamins for almost a week. We'll see.

Langs, Smiths, Butchers and Feuges

Saturday morning I got up pretty early to hear the birdies but since we were all getting up early to prepare for the party, I didn't get much time to myself. Still. it was a nice way to start the day.

People started showing up around noon. Raymond, who we all called Stormy when he was little, arrived with his little girl. She's about 3 years old with awesome red curls. They named her Stormy so I had to instantly change an old habit and start calling her dad Raymond. Anyway...

When Raymond introduced her to Dad he started going into this big, scary act saying, "Hello, sugar! How you doin'? C'mere! blah, blah, blah" in a loud voice and waving his hands at her. She was scared to death of this crazy old man and backed up against her father. I said to Dad, "Gently, gently. Don't scare her." trying to get him to back off this poor little thing. He said, "I've been playing with little kids my whole life, you don't tell me what to do." Then he grabbed her by the hands and yanked her little arms around in an abusively playful way. What a jerk.

I went into the kitchen, sat down and started telling Molly what he had done. He came in and started yelling at me about how great he is with kids and he's been doing it his whole life and I should shut up and stop running my mouth and blah, blah, blah. I was sitting at the table cutting up veggies. He moved in very close to me and started pushing his old, bony finger in my face. He was trying to intimidate me and I thought it was very likely he would hit me if it went much further. I told him to back off. He didn't. I said, "Really, Dad, I mean it! You take 2 steps back away from me NOW!" He still stood there with his finger in my face, yelling at me. I said, "Dad if you touch me physically I will touch you back. I mean it!" That's when Molly stepped in and said, "Come on, y'all" (heh, heh! Texas). Dad backed off and left the room still yelling about what a great guy he is with little kids.

I was shaking, I was so pissed. I went back to working on party food. I looked out the window and saw Dad outside, chasing little Stormy around trying to make friends with her. He wouldn't leave her alone and she kept running away. He was determined to get her to talk to him just so he could show me how little kids are attracted to him. Later I saw him carrying her around trying to make sure I saw him. Molly said that the way he got ahold of her was Chris showed up with his big lab, Bowdrie, and Dad was the only human close enough to protect her from Bowdrie's tail and tongue. Once he got ahold of her he wouldn't let go. He was using this little girl to get back at me. I was pretty disgusted. Later some more kids showed up and he had to let her go so she could play.

That's how the party started. Thankfully, more adults showed up so he was forced to leave the kids alone and visit with the old people. I stayed away from him as much as I could. One by one all the older relatives pulled me aside to talk about Dad. They all said they could see he was really having trouble the last time he visited. He's trying to keep his Alzheimer's a big secret but it's so obvious to everyone that he's losing it.

We had this enormous Texas feast. Joe barbequed some brisket and chicken and sausages. The food was awesome. I gave up on trying to get Dad to eat properly. Later I saw him come out to the porch with a plate LOADED with desserts. I also saw Sara come out and plunk down a HUGE piece of cheesecake in front of Ruth. She knows Ruth isn't supposed to have so much sugar. This was a slap at Molly. The battle between the Butchers and the Smiths over Ruth's care is a whole 'nother story. This trip was an eye opener.

After lunch we were all on the big porch visiting and chatting and then BLAM! Everybody jumped three feet. BLAM! BLAM! Some of the macho studlys were out at the tank shooting snapping turtles with great big rifles. Now, snapping turtles hurt the cows so there's a reason for the killin'. But do they have to do it 50 yards away while there's a party going on? The answer is, "Why not?" The shooting continued for about an hour.

The party was winding down and people were leaving. I figured it was time for me to start heading out for Dean's. I was saying my goodbyes when Joe came running into the house. Chris, who had been out at the tank shooting turtles, had just run over Bowdrie with his truck. He had been sleeping under the truck and when Chris started it up Bowdrie tried to run out. The wheel ran over part of his face. Joe was calling around trying to find a vet that was open late on a Saturday. Chris ended up having to go all the way to San Antonio. Bowdrie's ok. When we saw him on Monday he looked totally normal. But man, what a shitty way to end a nice party. Maybe there was some turtle karma going on there.

I packed my stuff into Joe's car, said my goodbyes and left for Austin. FREE!!!!!!! It took me about 2 1/2 hours to get there and I ranted about Dad the whole way. I was a crazy, yelling woman alone in a car. But I going to Dean's so I knew I was headed for a good time.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Back to it.

I'll write about last Saturday's family party tomorrow. It was quite a day.

I walked up Mt. Rube tonight. Boy, I was slow. I didn't go all the way to the top either. I can sure feel the effects of being off the diet and getting no exercise for a week. Oh well, back to the routine. I'm sure I'll be back to feeling great in a couple of days. I like it when I can really feel the progress I'm making.

Ah, I'm all alone. Jim is at Klone practice, Paige is at Rory's and I don't know where Lindsay is. This solitude won't last long, though. I have to go pick up Paige in a little while. Oops, I think Lindsay just drove up.

Nope. Still alone.



We didn't do much. Did a lot of sitting around listening to the birds. When I woke up that morning Joe was on the porch drinking coffee. I joined him and we sat in silence just listening to the sounds of the ranch; the birds, the frogs and insects, the cows. Then Dad came out and started blabbling nonstop. I made plans to get up extra early on Saturday so I could have more time alone out there. Really, those bird sounds are like Prozac.

After breakfast and doing some more sitting around Molly, Maryann and I went to the pasture to hunt for fossils and arrowheads. Ruth came along and sat in the car. The pasture isn't what you'd normally think a pasture would be. It looked pretty much the same as the rest of the ranch. Lots of brush and rocks. In one particular place there is a strata of oyster fossils. It's pretty cool. You can find perfectly preserved oyster shells. These babies must have been delicious. Dems some big oysters. If you have a very good eye you can also find rocks that have been worked by ancient Indians. I found one that looked like a small scraper and fit perfectly in my right hand. But you have to be very lucky to find an arrowhead. Anyway, it was a nice stroll.

Molly brought a loaded pistol with her. She said there's a herd of about 50 feral hogs running around and you really don't want to meet up with any of them unarmed. There are also javalinas at the ranch and they're none too friendly. Rattlesnakes, too. That's why I decided it wouldn't do me any harm to lay off the exercise for a while. I can't outrun a freakin' pig.

I was really enjoying getting to know Maryann. She was always the cousin that I didn't know very well because her family lived in Washington and we always went to see the Texas relatives. She's pretty cool. She reminds me sooo much of Michele. She's very mellow and easy to be with. Molly and Maryann are the same age (60) and they had spent a lot of time together as little kids. They had stories about the old folks I had never heard. I could see they were really happy to have this week together.

Friday was a good day (when I wasn't dealing with Mr. Smartass).

Thursday in Texas

Thursday morning I got up, had breakfast and then went for a 2 1/2 mile walk around Joe and Molly's neighborhood. Those are Texas miles. With the extra heat and humidity that equals about 4 California miles. That's the only exercise I got this week. I could have walked at the ranch but I didn't want to meet any of their dangerous critters. Sitting in a rocking chair on the brand new wrap-around porch watching the birds somehow became the most important thing that I could possibly do. More about that later.

Dad and Joe took off on some errands and were still gone by the time us wimmin left to go to the ranch. We went to lunch at Chili's and then headed for the H.E.B. in Hondo. Ruth waited in the car while Molly, Maryann and I shopped. That was actually kind of fun.

When we got to the ranch Dad and Joe were already there. I asked Dad if he had taken his meds and he said he hadn't. Guess what? He LEFT them at Molly's. When he and Joe got back after running errands he packed up his bags and left the meds and vitamins at the Butchers. The ranch is 70 miles away. We thought either Chris or Daniel would be able to bring them but as it turned out they didn't show up until Saturday. So, ok, if Dad is careful with his eating he'll be able to get by. Yeah, right.

Every time I tried to steer him away from high carb foods he turned into a snotty brat. He was showing off in front of the relatives. When he's having a casual conversation with somebody he can cover the Alzheimer's pretty well. He thinks he's looking pretty good, like the old Stan. So when I have to step in and remind him that he doesn't have his meds and maybe he shouldn't eat that handful of chips he either gets cute (not the good kind of cute) and cocky or he snaps at me. He had to prove he was the big man by putting me in my place. I should remind him that someday I just might put him in a place.

When I wasn't taking abuse from Dad I was having a pretty good time. The new big porch is just wonderful. There are sooooo many birds out there and they're singing constantly. Joe and I hand fed some pellet treats to the cows. I walked around the tank (California translation; pond) and checked out the fish and the froggies. It rained a lot before we came so there were wild flowers everywhere.

I can't say enough about the new porch. The ranch is a nice place to visit but the house isn't great and there is no good place to sit in the yard. It can get pretty hot out there. If you have a lot of people visiting it gets crowded. The porch really makes a big difference in being able to enjoy being at the ranch. It's huge! You can fit a lot of people on it. It's shady and there are 4 ceiling fans so if there's no breeze you can switch them on and it's quite comfortable. The view out to the tank is just wonderful. You couldn't really enjoy it before. The next time my sibs visit the ranch they will be astounded and amazed.

This is getting long. I'll write more later.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Getting there is half the fuuaaaAAAIIEEE!!!!!

I'm not too fond of flying. Jets often make weird noises that make you think yeah, it really is crazy to voluntarily get into a flying tube machine thingy that is operated by someone you've never met and maintained by someone who may be disgruntled or incompetent.

When we were making the final approach to the Denver runway we were coming in at a typically gentle angle. It was totally socked in so we (and the pilots) couldn't see a thing. All of a sudden the plane nosed up sharply (like holy sheeeit!) and we popped up out of the clouds. After a couple minutes the pilot came on and said. "Um, folks, um, we need to, ahem, make one more turn here. We were a little too close to the plane in front of us so we had to bring 'er up and try again. We're in the traffic pattern now so we'll be landing shortly." He spoke haltingly and his voice cracked which gave me the impression that we were listening to a man who had just crapped his pants. But at that moment I was at peace because I knew that we had a pilot who was now extremely awake and paying very close attention to what he was doing.

We landed and taxied for I think somewhere around 30 to 50 miles (it was foggy and we couldn't see a thing) before we got to the terminal. We got off the plane and then took the ultra speedy shuttle train to the next concourse. This train is pretty cool. There are no seats (it's a very short ride after all) so you have to hang onto poles and handrails. You'd better hang on tight, too. These babies really take off fast.

We had about an hour before our next flight so we had breakfast. While we were eating, a guy who was the spitting image of Joe Butcher walked in. Dad and I both went BLUNH??? It was pretty funny. This guy was a Joe clone.

The flight to San Antonio was uneventful. Molly and Joe picked us up. Maryann came a couple hours later. We started in almost immediately on a week-long whisperfest. Joe, Molly, Maryann and I all sure had a lot to share about taking care of aging and completely whacked out parents.

Crashing in Denver might have been more fun and less stressful than hanging around Dad and Ruth all week.


I'm home. There's way too much to write about so I'll be doling out bits and pieces according to my emotional readiness. What a week. Dad was ok about half of the time. The rest of the time he was a colossal jerk. I will not do this again. Next time, someone else takes him to Texas.

I have 47 messages in my inbox. I'm sitting here a little stunned and feeling that weird buzz that you get when you first come home from a trip. Jim and I just spent a couple hours getting each other caught up on this week's events.

So, I'll write more later after I've had a hot bath and a toddy. My visit with Molly, Joe and Mary Ann was really good. It was wonderful seeing Ruth but she's so out of it these days it's hard to have a quality visit. Plus with Molly she acts like Dad. She even snapped at me once.

Going to Austin to see Dean was a welcome relief. After being with the Texas relatives all day Saturday, going to see her was fun, relaxing, calming and centering. The Texas relatives... lordy, I come from crazy.

Ok, I'm going to read my 47 messages.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Donita's in Austin

...or should be, anyway. Doni called me from the cellphone last night, en route to Austin. She said everything is going well, basically. I expect she'll have a great time with Dean. More when I hear it! - Jim

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Donita's in San Antone

Howdy folks,

Guest blogger Jim here. I just got off the phone with Doni. With the exception of having to take a second try at landing in Denver, her flight to San Antonio was pretty uneventful. She sounds fine, and says all is going well so far. I'm fine too.

I'll post if I get any new info this week. That's all for now!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

I'm packing

Doing lots of laundry. I guess most of the time we'll be hanging out at the ranch. I don't have too many clothes that are appropriate for the ranch. Actually, I do but they're too ratty to take on vacation. So, I'll lounge around in my semi nice clothes and be the best dressed person there. I am going to take something to exercise in, though.

Today I walked with Stacey. We went down Washington to where the new houses are. Then we went back to her house for a little weight lifting. We talked a lot about her softball coaching and a couple of pissy team moms that screwed up her week. She dealt with them in a perfectly brilliant and appropriate way (she went off, like, kaboom). She's so awesome.

We also talked a lot about Dad and his talent for making things way more complicated than they need to be. No solution there. She said Scotty saw an article in the paper about farmer's water rates going up in Riverside. They're going up a lot. Maybe this new bit of information will help Dad decide to shut down the farm. No more water for Timio, too.

I'm setting the alarm to wake me up at 4 tomorrow morning. 4 freaking A.M. The plane leaves at 6:10. I'm going to bed after the Daily Show.

I'll check in when I get to Dean's.

Monday, May 09, 2005


Yup, we gots 'em.

Had the Terminix guy out today. Looks like we're in for a tent job. Dad wants a second opinion. What he really wants is some guy to come out and drill some holes in the infested areas, inject insecticide and charge Dad fifty bucks. Tenting the house will cost $1700.

This farm is a huge, HUGE money drain. Dad would be better off shutting it down and letting the trees die. Even when confronted with cold, hard numbers he can't see it. He's got it totally backwards. Struggle like hell to keep the farm going but the houses, hey let 'em rot.

I'm sure it will get done eventually. We just have to go through some stupid gyrations first. Jeez, this "Mr. Big" attitude of his...

We did the Rubidoux thing tonight. Jim went up one way, Jeff and I the other. We ran into Phil near the top. He was going the other way, the usual way. He seemed a little baffled that we were going a different way, like that just isn't done. He even said, "You're going the wrong way." We chatted for a while and then Phil, looking a little dejected, continued on his way. I was relieved. Phil is ok but I'd much rather talk to Jeff on his own. We met back up with Jim and Boz and walked together the rest of the way down.

Tomorrow I have to get it all together and pack for Texas. I'm sort of dreading it. I've got to remember that these things usually turn out much better than I think they will. I'll enjoy seeing Ruth. It may be the last time I'll see my godmother. I'm going to spend some time with Dean and see her new house. It will be fun seeing the younger cousins. I guess I can put up with the Butchers for a week.

Ok, so don't nobody tell Molly and Joe about my blog.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Happy Mother's Day...

...to all you mothers. You know who you are.

We didn't do anything special. We saw Hitchhiker's Guide today. I was underwhelmed but still enjoyed it. Then we did some indecisive driving around and ended up at BJ's. Got a pizza to go. And that's it. My big Mother's Day. Fine with me.

I walked for an hour (pizza bad for diet) so that makes for a pretty good week of exercise. I didn't exercise yesterday but I did clean house for a few hours.

Wednesday I'm leaving for Texas with Dad. That means no posts for a week. Maybe I'll blog from Dean's house. Probably won't have the time, though. I'm sure lots of things will happen that I will want to write about. I'll be with Dad and the relatives so I'm sure that half the time I'll be enjoying the visit and the rest of the time I'll be going crazy. I'm going to really need that day and a half with Dean.

Saturday afternoon with Virginia...

...was very enjoyable. She showed up at around 2. We came straight into the studio and just started yakking (meaning talking, nothing to do with yaks). Virginia is a very comfortable person to talk to. Plus we have a lot in common so we talked a LOT. We talked about her MIL and my dad. Talked about our kids. Jim and I showed her our Photoshop stuff and then we all talked about it.

Later we took her on the grand tour and showed her the vast wealth of junk art supplies. We'll mine the motherlode at a later date. I'd like to see what kind of junk art we could make. The tour ended with her meeting Dad. Boy, he sure does like meeting women. He poured on the charm.

We didn't get around to actually making anything. Anyway, I think it was better to do the talking thing this first visit. I'm looking forward to collaborating with her. I have a feeling we'll compliment each other nicely. And I think she'll be a motivating force.

Woo-hoo, everybody's getting junk sculptures for Christmas!

Friday, May 06, 2005

Look, links!

Look to the right. I've added linkage.

Jim just got the Rancho Curioso website fully functioning. You can buy paper through the website now. Tell your friends.

Check out Lindsay's Deviant Art page. All her art is there. You can also read her Freshman 15 comic. Click on "Gallery".

The elbow visit and other stuff.

Took Dad to the Va this morning to see a rheumatologist for his lumpy elbow. The lump has gone down and isn't causing him any discomfort so they decided to leave it alone. His blood pressure is good and he's lost four pounds. He was very impressed with the doctors we saw. They were a couple of young, pretty Asian women who lavished attention upon him. Yes, he enjoyed that visit.

Yesterday I went by Olivia's to see how the paper was selling. She has moved the rack to the farthest corner of the waiting room and stacked highchairs in front of it. You can't get to it unless you move the highchairs, which no customer is likely to do. I counted all the sheets and after a week not a single one has sold. I wasn't expecting miracle sales but I figured at least a few sheets would have made it out the door. Olivia is doing me a favor by having the paper in her restaurant but she will be making a profit if she sells it. I mean, come on. I left there a bit miffed.

I made it up Rubidoux 4 times this week. I might walk to Ken's for band practice later. It's 2 1/2 miles to his house. Yesterday when Sherri and I went we saw two firemen in full first responder gear jogging down the hill. That was kind of odd. We figure they were training. One Monday evening up there Jeff and I saw a guy jogging with a scarlet macaw on a perch that was at the top of a long pole. Get up Mt. Rubidoux often enough you'll see some stuff.

Jim got our website up and running yesterday. Now anyone can go there and buy paper. We're also registered on Google and Yahoo. The world can find us!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Today's VA visit

Dad saw Dr. Griffin today. She's the geriatric doc and now she's Dad's new primary care doc at the VA. No more nasty Dr. Isaac. It was a pretty short visit since Dad has no complaints. She put him on a different Alzheimer's medication but this one can also cause stomach pain so he'll just have to try it and see. She also upped his diabetes meds. Overall she seemed pleased with his progress.

I'm glad he's feeling better but this cocky attitude he has now really makes things difficult sometimes. He was pretty pushy with the people at the VA pharmacy. I felt bad for the pharmacy check-in girl. It's really not her fault that the prescription hadn't been entered into the system FIVE MINUTES after we left the doctor's office. He acted like she didn't know how to use the computer. She tried to explain to him that it wasn't in the system yet but he got snippy with her and went to the guy at the next window. By the time he got into Dad's records, there it was.

Sometimes I just want to say to him, "Shut up, sit down and leave people alone!"

There are days....


Well, we're not going to play at Pepito's this friday. Even though the owner likes us we couldn't get past the music manager. Yes, Pepito's has a music manager. This guy wants us to guarantee that we'll have two hundred people there. Two hundred people in that tiny bar? Ken said the guy thinks he's going to have a line of people behind a velvet rope that goes around the block.

So, we'll play on Sundays so Jessica can get lots of tips. In the meantime, we're going to see if we can get into Lake Alice on their off days. We're also going to see who books the bands for Riverside's and Redlands' downtown markets. That would be great because there you have hundreds of people going by for the whole evening.

We need to get a permanent name. Casual Sunday was something we came up with on the fly because our first performance was on a Sunday and it was very, very casual. But it's a name that doesn't really work for the rest of the week. It seems like every band practice we come up with a name that doesn't quite work. My favorite so far is Paisley Pot Pie but it has the word "pot" in it so we're steering clear of that one.

We also need business cards and a demo. A fully comitted drummer would also be a plus. Paul is awesome but his main gig is the country band. If there's a booking conflict he's got to go with them. That's the one glitch in a sweet set up. We have a group of people who get along, are good musicians and who play fun music.

Two hundred people.

Bite me.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

I can get it for you wholesale.

Today Jim and I drove to the L.A. Mart to see about selling some paper or getting a national distributor. Really all we did was say hi to about 10 people and leave a bunch of samples and business cards. This place is HUGE. Floor after floor of wholesale home accessories, gifts and furniture. Everything was displayed beautifully. The Christopher Radko store about knocked me over and all I did was look in the window. Next time we're going to the Cal Mart which is basically the same thing. We're learning as we go.

Afterward we went to BJ's for lunch and talked about all the ways Dad drives us crazy. This morning he called and said he had talked to Ruth and she said Dad's highschool was going to have their reunion the week after we're going to be there. He wanted to change the plane tickets! I told him no, it would cost hundreds of dollars and screw up everybody's plans. He still tried to pressure me into it. He thinks Jim can just go online and change the tickets. After a while he called me back to say he'd given up on the idea. Mary Ann has scheduled her trip around Dad's visit so he wasn't going to mess with that.

When we got back I dropped Jim off at home and then went to Moreno Valley to drop some of Dad's tax papers off at Harold's. When I got back Jim said Dad had come over. Jim told him what we had done today and Dad started telling him how to deal with customers and how to make a sale. He told Jim you have to steer them towards buying your product. You have to control the conversation. CRIPES! I cannot imagine doing that with the people we spoke to today! We had very nice conversations with every one we met but he thinks we should have marched in there and slimed and manipulated and pressured them with a hard sell. YUUUUCHK! We would never, ever do anything like that. It makes my skin crawl just thinking about it.

I once said I'd like to go to Laguna and try to sell paper to some of the stores there. He said, "Great! You take one side of the street and I'll take the other." NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!! I can't imagine having him represent me. For ANYTHING!

So... I went to Mt. Rubidoux this evening. The walk felt good. I don't know, I feel a little weird lately. I've got this odd, buzzy pressure in my head and my arms. I felt this way last night, too. Today Jim said my breath smelled strange, like my chemistry was out of whack. I'm going to keep an eye on this. If I don't feel better by tomorrow I'm going to the doctor. Or maybe the next day. Tomorrow I'm taking Dad to the VA.

Monday, May 02, 2005


Tonight Zell Miller was on the Daily Show. He seemed almost normal and reasonable. I even agreed with some of things he said. I still think he should be eaten by monkeys.

I felt yucky this afternoon. I felt antsy and on edge, like I had excess energy that was slamming around all over my body. It was unpleasant. I nagged Jim into going with me to Mt. Rubidoux. I went up the steep way and he went the long way. About a third of the way up I knew I needed to get off the hill quick and get to a bathroom. Rats. I didn't go all the way to the top. I started back down and passed Jim coming up the other way. He suggested I get keep going, take the car and go find a restroom and then come back and pick him up. That's what I did.

The walk took away most of the antsyness but it didn't leave me with that tired-but-fabulous feeling. I am unfulfilled. Oh well at least it was something.

Tomorrow we're going to the Wholesale District in LA. Gonna peddle my papers.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Whew, it was fun at Pepito's today!

As usual we started off playing for a mostly empty bar. We used that time to warm up on B list stuff and some things we didn't know very well. Paul was with us today. Even the schlocky songs sounded great with Paul. What a total treat it is to have a drummer who knows what he's doing. Amber couldn't make it because she had to work. Couldn't do Love Shack without her. She has about 10 songs that are either totally hers or that need her for back up. That shortened the list a bit. But we managed to fill 5 1/2 hours with music.

As the day went on the bar started filling up. We actually had a decent sized crowd for a Sunday afternoon. I felt so good up there. I just bounced around all day. A solid week of exercise before a performance is a very good thing.

Ken brought up a friend of Jessica's to play drums on Love Me Like A Man. Jeez-o-friggin-pete. This guy goes on the bad drummer list. Ok, new rule. Don't bring shitty drummers up for one of Donita's songs. Let' em mangle Mustang Sally or something.

We just had a great time today. Jim brought his piano synth so he had more sounds to play with. He sounded great. Ken was his usual crazy boy on stage. He and Paul were playing off each other really well. Many songs ended with crazy loud drums and screaming guitar. Normally I'm not wild about that kind of thing but they did it soooooo well. John is getting better and better as a bass player. I felt like I sang well. I certainly had a good time dancing around.

The new owner likes us. He's invited us to play on Friday night. Woo-hoo, a full bar!

Afterward we went to Ken's and had pizza. Dave and Joanie were there. Paul, too. It was a good way to unwind. But I've got still that post performance buzz going.

And tomorrow, Rubidoux!