Thursday, December 29, 2005

Ah, we're back...

It was a pretty good visit. On the way up we stopped in Santa Barbara and dropped off some paper samples at 3 stores. Jim bought some new pants. We got to SLO late in the afternoon. That night the adults went to dinner at a pretty nice restaurant. The quality of the food wasn't quite up to the price we paid. We tried to avoid sitting next to Dad but it didn't work out. He plopped himself down next to Jim and made a nuisance of himself all through dinner.

When we got back to the Leece's we had the adult gift exchange. Good stuff this time. Jim and I came home with a nice little patio table and a bag of Starbuck's coffee stuff.

Before we left for dinner I had everyone gather in the kitchen, which is where Dede and David have their cd player. I told everyone about Debbie and Bob's thoughtful gift of some cash a few weeks ago. To thank them Jim made a cd of Little Space Girl that he found on the web. This was a record that Debbie and I had when we were really little. When I first heard it I was whisked away back to my early childhood so I knew Debbie would really get a kick out of it. I was right, she loved it. Everyone else was mildly entertained. Dede and Stacey weren't even born when we had this record. Drew remembered it a little. Still, we all enjoyed listening to it and it was a special moment for Debbie and me.

The next day we all went to see King Kong. Too much CGI for me. I just didn't buy it. But it had its moments.

That night we had Mexican food at Dede's. The rest of the evening was spent just hanging out. Very pleasant and mellow. Scotty got out his Poker set and a big clump of adults and kids had a rousing game. I enjoyed listening to them, especially B.

This morning everyone got going early. Jim and I stopped in Pismo Beach to have breakfast. We were intrigued by one restaurant that claimed to have the best clam chowder (they even had a plaque saying they had won this year's competition) and they were advertising a lobster omelette as one of their specials. Sounds good, right? Well, the clam chowder had chunks of raw celery and half raw potato in it. The lobster omelette was a clump of overcooked lobster, a slab of half rubbery half-melted swiss cheese covered with eggs. It was horrible. I asked the waitress of they had some kind of cream sauce or something I could pour on it to try to improve its rubbery dryness and she brought me some Worchestershire sauce and some green tabasco. She was a bit of a dope. Jim's ham and cheese omelette was way too salty and the ham was substandard. It was one crappy breakfast. I gave them some negative feedback on one of their "How Are We Doing?" cards.

Traffic was pretty heavy going through L.A. but we finally made it home. Debbie and Bob had some friends coming for a quick visit and we all went to dinner at Original Joe's. Jim and I tried again to avoid sitting with Dad but alas, we failed. Jim actually had to get up and leave for a while just to get a break from Dad's meddling and barking orders at the waiter. He really is getting to be more and more obnoxious. I think everyone else was oblivious but Jim, Stacey and I had really had enough. Oh well, at least the food was good. It made up for my icky breakfast.

Lindsay had a nice visit with Chelsey. They made a gingerbread house. It's kind of a tradition with them. Tomorrow Paige and Rory are going to Knott's Berry Farm. A Christmas tree customer paid for his tree with 2 employee tickets so we're giving them to Paige. The last few months have been difficult for her. So tomorrow she's going to have a fun day with her boyfriend.

Ah, this is what I've been waiting for. Post Holiday Happy Time. No pressure. Well, less pressure anyway.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas?

This will go down as the not best Christmas ever. We've had worse. Spending Christmas with Dad's second wife's mother was pretty awful. And any time Bernie is in the picture it ain't fun.

I'm sick AGAIN. I'm pumped full of cold remedies. Right now Lindsay and Paige are out getting Chinese take-out. I only have a few gifts for the girls and none of them are wrapped. I'm going to muster up enough energy to wrap them after dinner. We've already talked to them about the thinness of this year's Christmas bounty. They understand. We're going to Dede's on Monday. We'll hit the after Christmas sales in San Luis Obispo and have a post holiday gift exchange.

I just can't get too worked up about the whole thing. Too much pressure. It is what it is and so it is. So let's move on.

Going to Dede's is always fun. This year I'm thinking it will be more relaxing and nurturing because we've all been through a ringer together. Debbie and Bob are here. Dad loves it when all of his kids can get together (we like it, too) and tree season is over so he can relax. There's nothing to fight about and there will be lots of activity to distract him. We're going to go wine tasting. We did that a couple years ago and had a very good time. Actually, I don't care of we just go up there and sit in the jacuzzi for 3 days and stare at the view.

Today we sold 5 trees. The Odiens came by and got a normal tree, a short normal tree for Zoe and a Charlie Brown stick for Liam. We had a very nice chat with them. No one else came by after they left so I was able to crawl back into bed and crash.

Anyway.... Even if it's not going to be the merriest of Christmases we'll still find a way to have a good time.

Ah, the Chinese food is here!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Two more days

I'm tired and a bit blue. I'm really looking forward to the new year. I can start walking up Rubidoux again. I'll get my weight loss group started. We have a drummer now so band practices will be more fun and productive. No more Christmas tree sales. Forever. Don't even ask.

Didn't see Dad at all today. I took Paige to the doctor this morning for a throat infection. Got some antibiotics for her. Then us Smiths went to Denny's for breakfast. I told the girls they probably won't have much to open for Christmas this year and they said it's ok. They understand that it's just different this year. They're happy to shop the after Christmas sales.

Today Cody and Kyle worked. I sent Lindsay to the bank. After she came back she hung around the sales shed to make googly eyes at her new boyfriend. They're in the nauseatingly cuddly stage of their relationship which is actually kind of fun to watch. Kyle brought his sketch book. Man, what a pro.

Sales were absolutely dead today. We got a little bit of a rush at the end but not enough to justify staying open till 8. Drew came by for a little while but there was really nothing for him to do.

The newspaper story came out today. About half of the story was about our farm but the rest of it was about tree farms in general. There was a photo of Dad and me on the front page of the Local section. It was a nice story but after all the photos that were taken and the lengthy interview I expected a bit more. Only one customer today mentioned it.

Debbie and Bob are coming on Saturday. Since it'll all be over by the time they arrive Dad will probably be fairly calm.

Or not.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Today I went shopping

I was gone for most of the day. Got a few things but I didn't make much of a dent in the Christmas list.

Dede arrived just before I left. As she drove in she said, "I'm here out of my love for you. I'm not here for him." I guess he was pretty mean to her on the phone last night. It must have been really bad for her to say something like that. Dede is always so good at letting the Dad crap just float by. It takes a lot to push her buttons.

David got here at around 8:30. They took Dad out for dessert. I think David is going to tell him about the offer on the land. Maybe if David can get him to understand that soon he's going to get a big pile of money he'll be able to stop being such a jerk about the nickel and dime stuff he's been freaking out about.

One more week of tree sales. One more week. Hey, I know! Let's get drunk on New Year's Eve and bulldoze those @#$&%*!!!!!!!! trees! Maybe Drew can get the backhoe back from Louie! We have Dave the junk man's forklift! We could do some major damage with that. WHEEEE-HOOOOO!!!!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The weekend

Friday night we went to band practice and auditioned a new drummer. I think we have a winner. He's pretty good and he seems like a good fit personality-wise. And he seems to like us. Now we can get down to business and get some gigs.

Saturday was crazy busy. Dede, Jono and Mike came down. The boys helped with tree sales and Dede wrangled Dad. I barely saw her all weekend. It's great when the Leeces are here because they're so good at keeping Dad busy while the rest of us sell these damn trees.

Today wasn't quite so busy. But we're selling 'em and the fields are starting to look thin. It's actually kind of fun since none of us really cares about the bottom line. We're making deals and making the customers happy. I spend most of my time driving the Christmas truck around the farm. Lindsay decorated our truck with tinsel garlands and I added a small fake tree to the top of the rack. I attached jingle bells to one of the back wheels. It looks quite festive. The kids like riding in the back and I like taking a pause at the top of the hill to admire the view. It doesn't have power steering so my arms are getting a good workout.

Tonight Dad came down and made some trouble. Just his usual maddening meddling. I casually gave him some cashews and it seemed to help. He got concerned that we had too much money on the premises and wanted me to make a night deposit. We can't really do that because we're not set up for it so I left for a while to make it look like I was gone taking care of business. What I was really doing was some Christmas shopping at Gottschalk's.

Thank you, Leeces, for making that long drive down. Over and over throughout the day Drew, Stacey and I say thank God for Dede. I know that Dad enjoys her visits and it makes things so much easier for us. David's influence also makes things easier because Dad listens to him. And we depend on him for his medical expertise (Alzheimer's, spider bites, whatever) So, thanks, you guys. We can't say it enough.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Drug interaction, maybe?

This morning I went to Dad's and helped him with meds, usual routine. He said he had taken a Benadryl for his itching. I really don't think he needs Benadryl for that. Lotion would probably be the best thing for his dry skin. I helped him with the meds and organized his pill box (he had it way wrong). I left him at around 9:30. Just before 2 when we were getting ready to open for business he called and aksed if I could come over. I asked him why and he said, "You'll never believe it."


I went over there and he looked terrible, really blasted. He said he fell asleep after I left (not totally true since there were a few phone calls in there) and had had a dream where he was on a big farm and he was fighting. He had really dark circles under his eyes. He asked me what was in the medicine I gave him. I told him it was just his regular meds. Maybe the Benadryl messed him up. He said he took only one but he had some the other day and he was fine, just mellow. He said he wanted to take a bath and I told him that would probably be fine just don't make it so hot. I told him to eat and drink something and maybe take a walk around the field to get his circulation going. He decided to skip the bath and take a walk.

When he was done he came down to the sales shed. He said he saw some dead trees that he wanted removed, drew me a diagram to show where they were and then went back up to the house. I'm guessing he went back to bed. After we closed tonight he had Jim and me run him up to the church for choir practice. Well, they had cancelled choir practice so we took him right back home. His energy was much better.

He was running low on Rivastigmine and he was completely out of test strips so we called the VA to find out why they weren't sending him his refills. His records were messed up. They had him getting 50 test strips every 90 days which, according to them meant he was supposed to be testing once every other day. He had been taking 2 Rivastigmine twice a day and they had him down as taking one pill once a day. It was as if they had only read the first line of the dosing instructions and left it at that. I think everything is fixed now and he should betting his refills soon.

Selling was mostly mellow tonight. Stacey was here. We had a rush in the afternoon so we had Paige and Rory come down and work. Then the rush was over and we had too many people working. No big deal, they stayed busy much of the time. Some people wanted to buy one of the Oregon trees that Dad had Jon put a stand on. But they didn't want the stand. We struggled with it and tried to get it off but it wouldn't budge. So we gave it to them. It was one predictable result of Dad's tree stand project last night.

We're almost halfway through this selling season. Looking forward to the end.

By they way, he told me he doesn't want anyone to know about what happened today so, shhhhhhh.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Hoo-whee! A good day.

Dad was quite cooperative and agreeable today. He and Drew delivered the church tree and then went to get some more bowls for the stands. We raised the price of the stands to $15. All these things made Dad happy. Later he went to the church for a meeting. So, he was gone for most of the day and when he was here he was in a good mood and didn't meddle. Whew! A day without crisis.

He called a little while ago to tell us that when he came home he and Laurel saw someone stealing trees from the back field. He said they chased the guy for a while but couldn't get close enough to get the license number. He sounded like he actually enjoyed the excitement.

So.... AHHHHH! It's good to know that it's still possible to have a good day with Dad.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Where to begin?

So much happened today that I might not be able to make sense of it here. Dad started early this morning monkeying with stuff down at the sales shed. I think he was messing with the electrical because when we tried to drill a tree there was no power going to the drill.

Jim and I went down there at 2:00 to open. We got some customers right away. Connor showed up nice and early and I was glad to see him. Of course, Dad started in barking orders at him. Poor Connor. He's our best worker, so polite, so confident. After 5 minutes with Dad he looked like a deer in headlights. Jim left to go pick up Paige and I sent Connor off to move a sign which got him away from Dad for about 15 minutes. I was watching Connor reattach the sign to the fence when a truck loaded with cut trees drove in.

We weren't going to get any Oregon trees. We're trying to keep everything simple. Besides that, Dad hasn't finished paying for last year's Oregon trees. Dad knew he wasn't supposed to order them. I asked him if he'd talked to David about ordering the trees and he yelled that he's still the boss around here. I went in to call Jim and Dad followed me into the shed yelling, "Oh yeah, go ahead and call you tattle-tale!" He went back out to deal with the delivery guys for a while and then came back in to yell at me some more. I don't remember everything that was said, it all happened so fast. But when he yelled, "You shut up! You shut your face!" I said, "That's it!" and grabbed my jacket and started for the house. He followed me yelling. I said, "I will not stay here and have you talk to me that way! You're on your own!" He said, "Then I'll apologize!" in a very non-apologetic way. I kept going.

When I got to the house I realized I had left my keys down at the sales shed. I knew I'd have to go back down there anyway because I couldn't leave poor Connor on his own with Dad. Just as I was going back down Jim drove up with Paige and Rory. He had seen Dad and me yelling at each other in the driveway so he drove up by our house instead of going directly to the sales shed. He gave me a house key and then drove down to relieve Connor. I stayed at the house to make phone calls.

I called Dede and left a message. I called Drew and left a message. I called Stacey. I'm so glad she was home because I really needed to share the warmth. She was appalled. She thought we should have the delivery guys take the trees back. The whole thing was still unfolding so I didn't know what was the best thing to do. I went back down. Dad was up at the house looking for the invoice from the tree company. That gave me a chance to talk to the delivery guys. I told them he wasn't supposed to order those trees. One of the guys called his boss and handed me the phone. I told him that Dad has AD and wasn't supposed to be ordering trees. I asked him about the unpaid balance and he said Dad still owed him about half of the amount on last years trees. Dad came down as I was talking to him. He was yelling at the delivery guys that they shouldn't listen to anything I was saying, that I was lying. I decided to let them go and we'd figure out the whole thing later. The boss said he'd take the trees back if we wanted him to.

Dad immediately started having the boys untie the trees and put them out for sale. Drew called and let me know he was on his way. Stacey called and said Scotty would be here soon and she would get here as soon as she could. I stayed in the sales shed and waited for them. Every once in a while Dad would poke his head in to state that he's still the boss around here. Scotty showed up and talked to Dad. Then Drew and Stacey came. It was this weird scene of private conversations and phone calls to Dede and David. I don't know what all was said but I think everyone pretty much said the same thing to Dad. That we agreed there were to be no Oregon trees, that he made a bad decision, that he had agreed to this when we had our family meetings, he can't treat us like crap, he has Alzheimer's, he's sabotaging our smoothly running operation.

At some point Drew took him someplace because I didn't see him again for the rest of the time I was there. We had to leave because tonight was Lindsay's band performance. We were actually going to take Dad to this concert but there was no way I was going to spend another minute with him. It would have been nice because Drew and Scotty would have had a night of running the farm without Dad there.

After the concert I called Stacey. She said things went smoothly for the rest of the night. Dad asked her for a hug and she told him she really didn't feel like hugging him after what he did today. We decided to keep this order of 50 trees and sell them out.

Jim, Lindsay, Jon and I went to Chili's for dinner. About halfway through Paige called and said that she thought she saw Dad driving down Hillside. She went to his house and didn't see his car. Oh great. When we got home we went to his house to check on things. His car was parked behind the bar area so I think Paige just missed it. I don't think he had been driving. The evil part of me was wishing he had so we could bust him.

I really don't want to work tomorrow but if I don't it will just make things harder for the sibs. Jim is going to handle morning meds. So, I'll work the sales shed but I'm going to let Dad know that he reeeeally should stay away from me for a while.