Friday, September 30, 2005

This morning at the DMV

I had 4 things that needed to be handled. Getting the address changed on my driver's license (got a ticket), getting a duplicate title for Dad's old car (lost), getting the new car registered and getting duplicate forms to give to the doctor so Dad's license doesn't get suspended (which is gonna happen anyway).

Dad went with me. Most of the time was spent explaining to Dad over and over why we were there. Turns out the new car hasn't been smogged, even though the seller told us it was, so Dad needs to do that to get the registration completed. When we came home I gathered up the papers I needed and told him he just needs to get his car smogged and then take the forms back to the DMV. Five minutes later he was at my door asking what he's supposed to do with the car. We wrote it all down and sent him on his way.

I need lunch.

Tomorrow we're going to Mexico with Ken and Sherri. I'm going to e-mail Drew and Stacey and ask them if they can help with Dad's eye drops. I think if I write the directions down and tape them to his mirror he'll be able to handle it. There are 2 drops that need to go in 3 times a day. But if he ends up going somewhere with Stacey or Drew they'll be able to help him.

Ok, lunch.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Stressful days

But Dad bought a car today so everything should get better now, right?

He's been a demanding jerk lately and Jim has been on the receiving end of most of it. Sybil, the insurance adjuster, got a generous helping of the Stan treatment too. She sent him all the paper work and spent a lot of time with him on the phone trying to get things worked out. She could see that he wasn't grasping what she was trying to explain to him and he was somewhat abusive to her during the call. He lost most of the paperwork she sent him. I'll let Jim post the details if he feels like it.

Today Drew took him to Newport Beach to buy a car that Jim found on e-bay. Before they left I took Drew aside to tell him to watch Dad's driving on the way home. Jim rode with him the other day and said it was pretty scary. Dad arrived home with the new car intact so I guess everything was ok. Thanks, Drew! Jim and I have had our fill of this car fiasco. Tomorrow after the eye doc appointment we'll turn the rental car in.

Handling the day to day stuff for Dad isn't too hard, although it does take up a lot of our time. He appreciates our help with the medical stuff. But he started throwing his weight around with this car thing. He needs to be reminded that he can't order us around like that. He doesn't ask for help, he demands it. When I tried to explain to him that we're already spending a lot of time helping him and we didn't want to take on a car shopping project he got very pissy. He didn't want to hear anything about how all this was affecting us. All I wanted to do was get some help from the sibs and he went off about how he has to pay his kids to visit him. I really didn't want to go driving around looking at cars on top of everything else we've been doing. Fortunately, Jim found a car on e-bay and Drew handled the purchase so it was taken care of easily. We got lucky.

But really, he can take his attitude and stuff it.

Monday, September 26, 2005

At the VA today

I took Dad in to have Dr. Griffin look at his elbow. It's really been bothering him lately. We had a real good discussion with the pharmacist. She gave him some Vicodin and an anti-inflammitory. Dr. Griffin was pleased with his glucose numbers and his general health. Dad also got his elbow x-rayed. It was a good visit.

Dr. Griffin talked with him about his being confused from time to time. Dad insisted he's never confused. He talked about being on the church council and running a Sunday school class and he said if he was ever confused he's sure he'd notice it. Dr. Griffin shot me a look like, yeah right. I do wonder what the church folk have to do to accomodate him.

Wednesday we go in for his eye appointment.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Just sitting here...

Counting down the minutes until my birthday.


Am I grown up yet? You'd think I would have my shit together by now. But no, I'm still totally disorganized, still bite my nails, still without income, still overweight. Still not living up to my potential.

But most of the time I'm pretty happy and that's more than Bill Frist can say right now.

I'm puttering. Today we did some major housecleaning. Got everything done except the floors. Had to quit to take Paige clothes shopping. Tonight I sorted beads. It's not going to have a big impact on my situation but they were right in front of me and it needed to be done, so there. I feel like if there's an opportunity to clean something I should do it so the big GTD project will go that much faster.

I've been thinking about Mom a lot today. Her birthday was yesterday. I wonder what things would be like if she were still here. I wonder what battles she and I would have had if she had survived. I'm not the same person I was 18 years ago. Even when she was alive I never shared who I really was with her. There are some things she wouldn't have liked.

But I think she would have gotten a kick out of my art. I didn't develop my style until after she was gone.

Bleah. Birthday emotions are weird. I'm all churned up. My life has led up to this. A lot of it is really great. Some things I could do without. There are days where I really, really, really don't want to take care of Dad. It's like, wait, how the hell did I get stuck with this? What would it be like if I weren't here? What if I left?

But most of the time it's ok. I don't like it and I didn't choose it, but I'll do it. So, I guess I really did choose it. I still don't like it.

Ten more minutes. Time to count some blessings.

Jim, Lindsay and Paige
My cool, fun sibs
Ken and Sherri
Dean and daily e-mails
Jeff and Mt. Rubidoux
The friends up north
The friends way up north
Jim again
The pets
Casual Sunday
My art
Our front porch and the view
Halloween's coming
Good things on the horizon
I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and darn it, people like me.

Ah! There it is.

Happy Birthday to me!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Getting through this life

Rancho Curioso ain't going nowhere for a while. Oh, we'll fill any paper orders that come our way and we'll schlep paper to some stores but there's just too much to do here and there are too many interruptions to be very productive right now. But it's ok. It has to be ok.

I just finished reading David Allen's book, Getting Things Done. I want to go through it again and take notes. Jim's reading it, too. I want us to take some time and put this system into place. We're just too damned disorganized around here and it's choking everything we're trying to do. If we can make the GTD thing work then all the Dad chaos won't affect us so much.

I hope.

No, I'm sure that if we can get a reliable system into place it will help things immensely. But it's going to take at least a week to get it going. I'm ok with that.

One of the first things we need to do is get the big trailer moved to the alley. Then we can start using it for storage and get rid of the rented container (thus saving $67 a month). There are 3 big piles of heavy building materials that need to be moved. I'll probably ask Timio if a couple of his guys would like to make a few bucks to move it for us. My back and elbow just can't take moving stacks of sheetrock and backer board anymore. Then Drew can move the trailer and the workbench all in one day.

Once that happens we can start the big project. The trailer is twice the size of the container so we can use it to store tools and equipment as well as our other stuff. That will free up the garage and back yard. We're going to take all our files over to Dad's downstairs and do a major purge and reorganizing. We'll clean the studio.

I think that using the GTD method to get this place together will help train me to incorporate it into my life, into OUR lives. I'm tired of constantly being de-railed. I can't blame Dad for that. Well, maybe just a little. I got the procrastination gene from him. Anyway, I know we can do better.

I got a bit of a start on it today. I'm doing a pre-sort. I'm not even going to try to process the piles but I can at least deal with the obvious stuff. The studio is already looking neater. I should probably get off this computer and get back to work. But hey, I'm on a break!

What's on tv?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Surgery today

This morning at 6 o'clock I took Dad to Loma Linda for his cataract surgery. Everything went well. We have a follow-up appointment tomorrow morning. Then we have to put 3 different kinds of eyedrops into his eye 4 times a day. I don't know for how long yet. Getting over there 4 times a day is going to be a bit of a pain. Oh well.

Yesterday Stacey and I drove up to Ventura and met Dede and picked up Dad. Everything was pleasant until we got home. Something set him off. He was mad because I had Stacey drop us off at my house so I could get my camping gear out of the back of her car. He grumbled about the car being parked a little too close to the cactus which made it a little hard to get his stuff out. Then we had a tug of war over his medication. It was a weird, two minute drama that blew up in the driveway. Jim came out to help, saw what was happening and turned around and went back in. Jim is very smart. Later I went over to put Dad's eyedrops in and he acted like nothing happened. I guess for him, nothing did.

We had a great time at the river last weekend. There were definitely some highlights. This was the adult trip which meant most of the time we were in varying states of drunkeness. Things got burned. Oh yeah, it was fun.

I'm enjoying the David Allen book. Getting to the end now. I can't wait to jump in and whip this place into shape.

We got some rain! Last night up on Mt. Rubidoux it was so beautiful. The clouds were stormy looking. We got to the top just as the sun was going down. When we rounded a bend we could see this enormous rainbow that arched over Riverside. The clouds were red. The lights twinkled. Then the lightning started! It was a freaky, beautiful view.

Thursday I want to do nothing. Well, I want to walk, but that's it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Dad had his pre-op appt. today

If all goes well he'll have his cataract surgery next Tuesday. He's been waiting a long time. I know this will improve his life.

We got there at 1 and left at 4:30. Not too bad considering we schlepped around to several different offices and labs. Everywhere we went the tv's were on the same channel so we could watch Judge Judy at each stop. I got to listen to a couple vets trash George Bush while we sat in the eye clinic.

Dede is coming to pick Dad up tomorrow morning and take him up to SLO. She and David are going to Dad-sit while the rest of us go to the river this weekend. He doesn't understand why she needs to drive down to pick him up. He said he could drive up there, no problem. I shudder at that thought.

Dad has to start taking some eye drops a few days before surgery so Dede and David will have to help him with that. I'll explain it to her when she gets here.

That's about it. Just a quickie Dad report for the sibs.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Workshop idea

Yes, I'm still going to do the workhops. My schedule is a bit off. I'll do the Halloween workshop next year. I now have 2 dozen styrofoam wig heads that I'll have to store. Life's funny.

Several years ago I used to make these star-shaped mandala things out of painted foamcore. They're pretty cool. I made a lot of them in different colors and patterns. I cut the foamcore into pieces and painted each one. Then I arranged them into a star shape and glued them together. I want to make a workshop around this. Painting the pieces takes way too long so I'm going to use fabric to cover the foamcore. And paper. Handmade paper, origami paper, newspaper, whatever. Paint can also be used to embellish the pieces.

This would be a great project for a workshop because the supplies are super cheap. Foamcore, fabric scraps, paper scraps, X-acto knives and glue. Ten bucks tops. I've asked Dede to bring me some of her cast-offs. I have a little fabric here and lots of cool papers but I'd like a little more for variety.

This is good. I was hoping for an idea for a workshop that would be quick, cheap and easy to put together.

Quick, cheap and easy. Look where your mind went!

Dad lost the key to the rental car.

We got the car on Friday, he lost the key on Saturday, he's driving our truck now.

I went over there just now to try to find the key. Dad's at church. He has the place ripped apart. If there was ever any hope of finding the key out in the open, it's gone now. I guess tomorrow we'll have to try to get another one from the rental company.

Last night when he came home (after midnight) he couldn't figure out how to turn off the truck headlights and he couldn't get the key out of the ignition. I don't like him borrowing the truck. He kinda screwed it up the last time.

I'm hoping he'll let us clean out his house now. It was visually overwhelming for me, it must be absolute hell for him. Crap abounds. He took out one of his dresser drawers and turned it over on his bed. It's all just a pile of useless shit. Every drawer in his house is like that. AND he's moving his chemicals back into the closets and drawers!

One bit of good news. His license expires in February. I'm going to talk to his doctor about it. I think she can report his AD to the DMV. If they test him he will surely fail. Then they'll be the bad guys. I don't know if that's the way it works. Then he can go make a BFD to the AARP.

We're going back over to look again. Jim called Enterprise. It'll cost $40 for another key.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

KUT in Austin

Boy, am I digging this radio station. I have it on iTunes now. It's what Dean and I were listening to while we were painting in her garage. Maybe my fabulous husband will post a link for me. They play a huge variety of very tasty music.

( Fabulous husband here with some tasty links: KUT's main page and from here you can listen to KUT live. They also have podcasting available here.)

During the first days of the Katrina aftermath they played stuff from Louisiana and just about anything else with a flood theme. It was pretty cool. Healing, actually. Not that any of my troubles were so big but it was a good counter to the tragedy playing on CNN.

Google it and click on the live stream. Good stuff, baby.

Friday, September 09, 2005


What an incredibly stressful day.

It started with Jim going over to Dad's to do his glucose test. Dad was searching the house for some insecticide for the Christmas trees. Bud Lyon's crew was here and they were almost out of spray. Dad started barking orders at Jim to help him move some furniture so he could look in a closet. Jim says Dad handed him some grungy bottles of some kind of questionable chemical. Jim ended up with something that was probably motor oil all over his hands. This is the kind of thing that gets Jim churning. They searched around and finally found what Dad was looking for downstairs.

Dad was being kind of hyper about everything and Jim was getting dragged along. I swear, sometimes Jim is way too nice to him. Anyway...

Jim came home and told me what had happened. He was pretty upset. He asked me if I wanted to go along with him and Dad to pick up his car and go to breakfast. I said of course.

Dad's car was stolen a couple nights ago. They found it yesterday. They called too late for him to be able to go to the tow yard and pick it up so we had to wait until this morning to go down there. When we talked to the guy at the tow yard he made it sound like we could just go down and pick it up. Total bill- $196. Dad counted out $200 and placed it on the counter. Tow yard guy was still messing around with the invoice so Dad picked up the money and put it in his pocket. Then tow yard guy asked for the money. Dad said, "I already gave it to you! I put it down and you took it!" Tow yard guy started to get pretty flustered. I said, "Dad, he doesn't have it. You picked up the money and put it back in your pocket." Dad pulled the money out and gave it to him like everything's normal. The guy was like, wtf??? AFTER Dad had paid the fee they told us that it was undrivable.

The battery was missing.

It had a flat.

The front wheel was busted off.

The radio was gone.

Do you see the beginnings of a list here?

Dad's head went kaboom. He started accusing the tow yard guys of wrecking his car and stealing his stuff. We went out to look at it. The front wheel was off and laying under the car. The guy told us that the driver had done it that way because the front lugs were broken and the back tire was flat. It protected bottom of the car. But man, it looked bad!

The owner of the towing company started getting pissed. Dad was flipping out. I jumped in there and started talking fast, trying to get Dad to shut up. I told him that we hadn't gotten a complete police report yet and we didn't really know what happened to the car. That it was all probably a miscommunication. They showed us the invoice that had a comment that (according to them) had been written by a police officer stating that the battery had been stolen. Dad calmed down a bit. The owner demanded an apology from Dad to his tow truck operator. Dad went into the office and apologized.

This whole exchange lasted maybe 15 minutes, maybe less. It was all weird, crazy Dad energy. The towing company guys were swarthy with thick accents so of course they had their own weird, crazy foreigner energy. A dangerous, yet entertaining combination. Jim stood amazed while I was the yammering voice of reason. We got the hell out of there, no car and down a hundred and ninety-six bucks.

Then we went to breakfast. Nothing too horrible there. Just more stomach-wrenching stuff like Dad being rude to the waitress and griping about not getting a booth so he could look out the window at the pretty bushes. Jim had to deal with that. I was outside talking to Drew on the phone.

After breakfast we went home. We had a break for about an hour. Then Dad came into the studio with his black book and some papers. He said, "I want you and Jim to hear this. I'm going to call the insurance people. Where's Jim? I want him to hear this." He's waving this damn book around and barking orders like we're supposed to just jump up and get right to it. He went into the house (!) to get Jim. I heard him in there ordering Jim to go out to the studio. I could feel my blood pressure rise.

Jim got on the computer so he could take notes during the phone call. He used the headset while Dad used one of the cordless phones. They both talked to the insurance woman. Jim would be supplying a piece of information and Dad would interrupt with some off-topic question and slow the whole process way down. I could see Jim getting more and more tense. At one point I heard Dad's phone beeping and then everything stopped. I couldn't figure out what he'd done. Just as I figured out that Dad had pushed the hold button, the phone rang. The insurance lady called us back. After that, I set the phone on the cradle with the speaker on.

This took about 2 hours. Afterward, I took Dad to Enterprise to get him a rental car. This went much more smoothly. He followed me home. I was watching him in the rearview mirror thinking oh my god, it's like being followed by Mr. Toad! He was clutching the steering wheel like he was holding on for dear life. He's used to his own car. It looked like it took all the concentration he could muster just to get home.

Jim wasn't here when I got home so I decided to go to the post office. While I was out I stopped by Savon and picked up an elbow brace for him. Then I went to Staples and got a gel-filled wrist pad. I figured I could rig up some kind of pad for Dad's problem elbow. I took the brace and the pad to his house and had him try them out. Then I took it all home so stitch it all together. Jim came home and then Dad came over and stayed for another hour or so. My siblings know what this is like. When Dad is in the room he's talking nonstop. We'd been going on like this all day. Lordy, we were fried.

It looks like my elbow pad invention will work. I just hope it's not too tight. He said his main problem is at night when he gets up and bangs it on the bathroom door. This should help. Also, it hurts him to lean on it. He said the brace and pad makes it feel much better.

After he left Jim and I ranted at each other for a while. It was good ranting. We both are astonished and amazed at the stuff Dad does sometimes. The foggy thinking is Alzheimer's but the bombastic behavior is all Dad. How on earth did he raise up five excruciatingly normal and reasonable adults? Yeah, I know. Mom.

Ach! I should have walked tonight. I'm all twitchy.

There's much more to come. On Monday we resume the phone calls. Then he's going to buy a car.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Coming home Tuesday night

Boy, this week has been a mixed bag.

My visit with Dean and Greg and the doggies has been great. Watching the disaster in Louisiana has been maddening. I went from being inspired by Cindy Sheehan to being beyond disgusted by the inaction and incompetence of our "leaders". If you want to find out what's really going on, listen to Air America. Read Daily Kos and Democratic Underground. Watch Keith Olbermann.

It's been a good visit but I'm looking forward to coming home. So much to do.

Thank you, Dean and Greg and KC. Thank you, Jim.

Heh, heh! Can you tell I'm just a little off?

See you soon.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Weekend summary from Jim

Howdy folks, guest-blogger Jim here, with a summary of the last day or so around here. Friday night's band practice was unprecedented in that we actually had three drummers there, instead of our usual 0 to 1/2 (thanks, Doni!) drummer. John had invited a drummer to try out, he played mediocre and was actually kinda creepy, we all agreed, so we won't be adding him permanently to the band. Cousin Dave also showed up around 9, so we played a couple of songs with him, and then around midnight, who should walk in but Paul, the very good drummer who also plays in the country band Thunder Road. So we played a couple of songs with him, too, quietly because it was so late.

Saturday's blood testing and dosing went fine. After that, I spent the morning copying a minidisk recording of Friday night's practice over to the computer so I could burn CDs of it. I asked Lindsay to make top-of-page drawings for birthday cards for her cousins Audra and Tyler, since their birthday party was Saturday. They turned out great, you can see Audra's above. I printed them out, folded them into cards, had everybody sign them, and put some money in each one. We were getting ready to go, when Paige asked if she could go to boyfriend Rory's cousin's wedding. I said yes, and she prepared for that. After some confusion and frustration between Paige and me, I dropped Paige off at Rory's grandma's and went to the party at Doni's sister Stacey's, everyone seemed to be having a great time for the 2 hours we were there. Then Lindsay and I went home and I took a CD of Friday night over to Ken's; everyone (including cousin/drummer Dave and bassist John) were pretty interested in being able to record, and how well it sounded, but Amber had never heard herself sing, so she got very excited. Ken and Sherri made a wonderful barbecued shish kebab meal, and then we played some more music until 9 PM or so.
Paige got home around midnight; Lindsay had gone out with her boyfriend Jon, and I don't know when she finally got home.

This morning when I went to Stan's to do the morning blood test and dosing, he showed me where he had scratched or clawed his elbow in the middle of the night; a small but deep wound. He said it bled and bled, and he finally wrapped the elbow with a lot of paper towels, held them in place with his other arm, and went back to bed. There was a lot of blood in his bathroom, and as we cleaned it up to bandage it, it began to bleed again. it did finally stop, though, and we dressed it with a large bandage and he is now getting dressed to go to church. I hope it doesn't start bleeding again. His blood sugar level was the best so far in the last 2 weeks (174), but his blood seems very thin; I would guess a low platelet count, since that's what causes blood to clot, but I'm no doctor. Nevertheless, Stan seemed relatively sharp and energetic. He's had several old friends visit him this week, and I think his "full" schedule has been invigorating for him.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Other stuff we're doing...

Yesterday before the rally we went to the Alamo Draft House. It's a pretty cool theater chain. They take out every other row of seats and put in long tables and serve food. I tried deep fried pickles for the first time. They're actually pretty good! We had pizza and salad for lunch.

The movie we saw was The Aristocrats. If you're easily offended, do NOT see this movie. It'll put images into your head that you might not want there. I loved it. The pre-show shorts were well chosen. They were pretty funny and just as raunchy as the main feature.

Today we're painting. Yesterday we bought stretcher bars and paint. Dean had a canvas ready to go. She's painting a picture of a naked woman running with a peace flag. I stretched my canvas, gessoed it and sketched in a crazy cat arching its back. We need to go buy more paint before I can get started on it. I've never done a painting this big before. This'll be fun.

We're listening to a pretty cool radio station. The DJ is playing a great mix of music that's mostly from New Orleans with some songs about pouring rain and storms thrown in. We're also watching a lot of CNN.

Tonight we're going to dinner at a Cajun restaurant.