Friday, February 20, 2009

Sometimes we get excited about stupid things.

I'm excited about my freshly painted shelves and cabinets. They are ready to receive tools, chemicals and other workshop supplies. Everything, (well, almost everything) is in place. It just needs to be all screwed together so it won't fall apart in an earthquake. This is going to make such a huge difference. All the tools will be in one place and I'll be able to eliminate about 10 boxes that are taking up space in the garage. There will be a place for the kind of art supplies that don't really belong in my studio. Things like mosaic tiles and bags of grout. Really, this is all I can think about right now. I'm giddy about my garage.

No one else would be impressed because it's still a huge mess. But at least now everything has a place to go. At least now it can be cleaned.

I'm also getting excited about my pergola project. I bought a pergola kit from Kmart last spring. The basic frame is ok but the cover that came with it blows off all the time. It looked good but didn't function well. I'm going to add some wooden cleats to the frame and cover one side and the top with trellis panels. I've been engineering it in my head and I think I have it worked out. I think it'll cost around $100 to retrofit the whole thing. Once it's done it should make a nice little patio. One thing I've been missing here is an outdoor hang out space. At the farm I had my fabulous front porch. This one won't have a view but it will be cozy. I'm looking forward to it.

Other projects I want to tackle this spring-

The hallway between the kitchen and the office- I want to finish taking off the wall paper, paint the walls, sand down one wall and paint a large rectangle with chalkboard paint, frame the rectangle, change the light fixture. This will be my message center.

The back bathroom- Take down the wall paper, paint the walls a latte color, ceiling a lighter shade, the vanity a darker shade. I need to repair the big hole in the wall where they took out the heater and replaced it with a sheet of cheap, wood paneling, install new floor and a new faucet. New window treatment, towel bars, toilet paper dispenser. I'm going to try to keep it all under $150.

My room- Take down the wall paper, paint, new light fixture, repair the furniture I got from Mindy, cut down my bed and re=upholster the headboard, assemble the bed, rework the curtains.

Kitchen- Finish the capiz shell window treatments, paint the walls.

That's enough for now.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Too bad if they're embarrassed.

I just got back from a crappy Dad visit. When I got there he was in the dining room. One of the attendants was trying to feed him. "C'mon, Mr. Lang, just take a bite..." Dad was yelling in pain. I stepped up and let her know that I'd try to feed him. He kept squirming around and crying out. I asked him several times what was hurting but he just can't answer questions like that anymore. I checked his legs. His right knee was jammed up against the rail. Against the CORNER of the rail. We're talkin' a sharp, 90 degree angle. His leg had a big red mark where the rail was pressing. I shoved a pillow between the rail and his knee and he quieted right down. I called one of the staff over to show her what had happened. She called the attendant over who had been trying to feed him. I told them that Dad must always be cushioned. If he's yelling in pain there's a good chance it's because he's pressed up against the rails. I was pretty pissed but I held it together. Oh yeah, and Dad was also soaking wet. I don't think that had just happened. And his mouth was so dry his lips were curled back. I got him some water and he took a big swig, swished it around in his mouth and then spit it out against the wall (Heh!).

Just then I heard an announcement. They were going to be having a meeting in the living room and all the families of the residents were invited. I had them take Dad back to his room so he could get cleaned up. I told them I'd try to feed him more of his dinner in there. While we were waiting for an attendant to lift him back into bed dad fell asleep. I went to the meeting.

There were about 8 family members there and three officious-looking men sitting at a table. They were touting the features and services of Airforce Village. A few people asked questions. I sat and listened. I wasn't sure at that point if I was going to say anything about the seemingly persistent problem of Dad's limbs pressing against hard metal. Then the head cheese said, "Are there any other questions or comments?" Ok, what the hell. I raised my hand.

I told them what had just happened in the dining room and that it had happened before. I told them we had talked to the caregivers and the head nurse about the problem. I told them if my dad is yelling in pain they need to investigate. Yes, he just might be in pain just because, but they have to at least try to find the cause. The officious panel turned into headlight-blinded deer. I told them that overall we've been satisfied with his care. I told them that the other places Dad had been couldn't seem to get his meds right so that his crazy behavior was under control. Airforce Village was doing a good job with that. They assured me that they'd take care of it, and I'm pretty sure they will. They looked like they reeeally wished they had moved on and not taken any more questions. Then they introduced a woman who was from a local mortuary who was going to talk about "pre-need". I said, "Ok, thanks, I'm going back to my dad" and left.

I went back to Dad's room just as the attendant was lifting him back into bed. He was slipping out of the sling! He was scared to death and yelling his head off. Cussing, too. A lot. She got him into bed before he fell out the bottom of the sling. Then a different attendant, the one in the dining room, came in to change him and get him ready for bed. As she was cleaning him up we both noticed that he had an angry-looking red patch on his back. I couldn't tell if it was a bed sore or diaper rash. She called for a nurse to come look at it but she didn't show up in the time I was there. After Dad was clean and settled I got out the uke and sang him a few songs before he fell asleep. Then I put the uke away and got a piece of paper and a pen. I made a sign the said- If Mr. Lang is yelling in pain please check his arms and legs to make sure they aren't pressed against the metal rails. Please make sure he is always cushioned. He moves around a lot and might lose his pillows. If he is in pain there's a good chance that he's pressed against the rail.

I also drew a picture of a leg pressed against a rail and drew wavy pain lines emanating from the knee. I wrote "ouch!" next to it. Then I tacked it to the wall where I was pretty sure they'd see it. Then I left.

So, fuck 'em if they were embarrassed. Too bad. I'm sure Dad isn't the only one who has to endure hours of pain because some dope didn't bother to check to see what was causing it. These people need some training on this issue. I'll also talk to Dede and have her tell them to give him some water. Just plain, unthickened water. He can handle it and he needs it. Letting him go all day with his mouth so dry he can't pull his lips over his teeth is just plain cruel and, I think, lazy on their part.


Sunday, February 15, 2009


I'm painting my garage. I can't do it all at once because there's so much stuff in there. I'm working on one section at a time. But, hey, progress! I went to Lowe's yesterday and bought paint. I found a gallon of pre-mixed paint on clearance for five bucks. I love getting deals like that. And it was almost the exact color I was thinking of anyway. I also bought a gallon of white ($7) to do the cabinets. It feels good to finally get started on pulling it all together.

Lio wants to hang out with me while I paint but I have to keep an eye on him. Or I should say I have to keep an eye on Lady. Lio really wants to make friends with the dogs but Lady keeps getting aggressive with him. A couple months ago when Lio got chomped I thought Boz was the one who did it. Now I'm pretty sure it was Lady. Today she really went after Lio. I chased her around the yard with a broom. It didn't seem to make much difference because she came back for more. Her days are numbered.

Tonight I'm going to play music with a new group of people. One of the guys in our uke circle is hosting a beer and music night at his house. Should be fun. I have to come up with a couple of songs to share.

But right now I'm going back out to the garage. I'm a paintin' fool.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Goodbye, Gracie

The hardest thing about having pets is when we have to let them go. When we got Gracie as an eight-week-old puppy one of the first things I said to her was, "You're going to put me through it someday." Today is that day. But I'm doing ok. It really was time to let her go. Her last six months weren't good ones.

She was a fun dog. One of the things that impressed me the most when she was a young dog was how gung-ho she was about everything. Whatever it was, Gracie wanted to participate. She even loved fireworks. She would fetch the biggest stick you could throw and if she was near water she would swim, like, forever.

Once, when we were at the river she got into searching for the big rocks that were underwater near the shore. She would dive down, grab a rock and then carry it up to the beach. Pretty soon she had a big pile of rocks. When we were setting up camp we were looking around for a rock to weigh down a tarp. Gracie walked right up and dropped a big rock perfectly on the corner right where we needed it.

One one trip, when Audra and Tori were little, we came up with this game where the girls would be on a float and grab onto Gracie's hair. Then we'd throw a ball as far as we could out into the water. Gracie swam out to the ball taking the girls for a ride. You just got the feeling that she really enjoyed it.

Gracie even had a pretty good sense of humor. She loved to growl when she played, like she was the biggest bad-ass dog in the world. You could pretend like you were going to take her ball or her tug and she would growl and bark like she was ready to take your hand off but she knew it was all part of the game and she really enjoyed it. Even the neighborhood kids in Santa Rosa would play with her like that. They knew she would never bite them. Brian K. would come over and play rough with her. Ooh, she loooved Brian.

Making the decision to put her down was a tough one. She was Jim's buddy. Letting Gracie go was like releasing another piece of Jim. I knew it needed to happen but it was hard to know when. Today she was really struggling and her eyes looked kind of sad. It was time.

She was a good girl.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Dickens and Dad

On Friday we had a birthday party for Dad at Airforce Village. He turned 80 yesterday. They had reserved the living room for us and even decorated it with balloons and a banner. The staff there sure do like him. When we arrived Dad was parked near the nurse's station. He was pretty sleepy and not very responsive, so I was a little worried he'd be zoned out for his party. But it didn't take long for him to come around. We wheeled him into the living room and had a quiet visit while we waited for everyone else to show up. Lindsay and Kyle, Paige and Gabe, and Chelsey and David were with me and Paige had brought Charlie. Dad really liked her and asked if he could hold her. Charlie was a little freaked out so she was a little squirmy, but I thought it was good that Dad was enjoying petting the puppy. Dad's three church ladies were the next to arrive. They really took good care of him during that time right after his driver's license was taken away. He was glad to see them.

Everyone else started to trickle in after that. Dede and Michael, Debbie and Bob, Drew's family, Stacey's family. The room really filled up. Dede had picked up Mexican food from Olivia's and Scotty brought margaritas. Dad's regular food tray arrived and we set it aside and gave him some refried beans and some cut up enchilada. He didn't eat much. We're wondering if his tongue hurts. It's really hard to get the inside of his mouth clean because he can't understand what you're trying to do. He'll open his mouth just a little bit and when you put something in he bites down. So, we think maybe all that build-up has caused an infection of some kind. He grimaces with every bite.

After dinner I got out the uke and sang some songs. Then Dede showed a video she had made from photos, old movie footage and some audio recordings of Dad. It was really beautiful. She did such a good job on it. Dad watched the whole thing and I know he enjoyed it.

After that we just had a nice, quiet visit. My kids left and then the church ladies. Scotty took the younger kids out so we could make our departure a more gentle transition. We were going to take Dad back to his room but his attendant was on her break and there was no one else to lift him back into his bed. He seemed like he was starting to get uncomfortable and every once in a while would moan or cry out in pain. We all stood around him trying to help him get comfortable and trying to figure out what was hurting him. It took a while for the attendant to come to take him back to his room. When she showed up we all left.

When I got home I took a shower and started working on my hair. Since I needed to be at the church pretty early I didn't want to take the chance that I'd run into problems trying to get my straight hair into a curly, Victorian updo. I had just finished setting it on hot rollers when the electricity went out. It was a crazy, stupid scene. I rolled my hair and then fed the dogs. You have to stand there while they eat or they'll fight. I had left the door to the sun room open so they knew they were being watched, and sat down at the computer. Then BAM, the lights went out, the computer shut down and the dogs IMMEDIATELY started fighting. Right after I broke that up the electricity came back on and all the smoke alarms went off. It was three minutes of chaos and stress. Then the power went out again. I made my way to the kitchen and found some matches and a candle. Chelsey and David were sleeping in the tv room. I wanted them to have some light in case they needed to get up so I put out a few of those battery operated, fake tea lights. I thought it looked pretty funny but at least it was a solution.

Saturday morning I got up and fixed my hair (turned out pretty good) and went to the church for a very long day of performing. Both shows went really well. I had three hours to kill in between shows so I got my uke out of the car and found a quiet room to hang out in. It rained the whole time on both days, which I'm sure kept people away. Our shows were full, though.

After that I went to Stacey's. Scotty grilled steaks and chicken and we had salad and leftover mexican food. David was there this time. We all had a good dinner and a nice visit. It was good to spend some more time with Debbie and Bob and look at their pictures.

Yesterday we only had one show in the afternoon. It was nice to spend some leisurely hours at home getting ready. Today I took out all the stitching that I had done on my costume and later I'll take it to the cleaners. You really can't tell that I had altered it in any way.

It's raining. A lot.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Costume luck

The show is this weekend. As of Tuesday I still didn't have a costume and I was getting worried. Jeff had told me to get in touch with Chuck A., who heads up the theater department at RCC. Duh! Of course! I have connections. I sent him an email when I was at work. Later we talked on the phone and he gave me lots of good leads. On Tuesday afternoon Paige and I drove to Cal State San Bernardino and rummaged around in the closets in the basement of their theater. We looked through several costume closets. Almost all of them were way too small, or they were wrong for my character. We found a good one at last. Man, I'm really happy with it. Twenty bucks to rent it!

It's a dark eggplant purple with black lace trim. It's the kind of Victorian style skirt that's flat in the front and BIG and bustley in the back. There's this half hoop skirt thing that you wear underneath which gives the dress its structure. The costume is actually too big for me. Last night I took it to Virginia's and she pinned it up (Thank you, Virginia!). Today at lunch I stitched it. It fits pretty good now. After the show I'll take out the stitching. The sleeves are a little weird and they're too short for my beefy arms. Yesterday I went to Goodwill and found a lace shrug that fits me and has the right kind of sleeves. More good luck. Tomorrow I'll finish doing all the alterations and repairs. I also need to make a headpiece of some kind. I'll just slap some sequins and feathers together.

Tonight was our last rehearsal. I wish I could have worn it for that. The skirt is very big in the back. I'm afraid I'm going to do a quick turn and take out a few tables. It would have been good to get in some practice with it.

I also have to figure out how I'm going to fix my hair. Hoo boy. Lots to do tomorrow. I haven't mentioned the little birthday celebration we're having for Dad. Debbie and Bob are flying in and we're going to have a party at Air Force Village. Dede and David are coming down. We're going to pick up some Mexican food from Olivia's and Stacey and Scotty are bringing Margaritas. Blood sugar be damned, Dad's getting a Margarita. It's his 80th birthday and probably his last. I don't really know how aware he is but he still knows us. He's going to be very glad to see Debbie. I hope he's perky tomorrow.

AND Lindsay's friends, Chelsey and David, will be here. I have to do some cleaning as well. I also have to go to Porter's to pick up my car. Dang! Anything else?

Monday, February 02, 2009

Thanks, Ken!

I was out in the garage working in spurts. I'd get some stuff done and then I'd sit and stare, stuck in overwhelm mode. Then Ken came walking up the driveway. We had talked the other night about him coming over to help me with stuff, but I didn't want to call him until I really needed him for stuff like heavy lifting and plumbing. But here he was. I had already mostly cleaned out one side of the garage. I was planning to paint the walls before assembling my shelves and workbench, but since my help was here we decided to get things started and I could paint around them. Ken and I hung a big, heavy cabinet and moved some shelves and the base cabinet for the workbench into place. That took up a big chunk of the afternoon. Then we worked a little on getting things cleaned up. We loaded up a lot of stuff into his truck to be taken to Second Time Around. That helped a lot.

I think he was a little taken aback by how much crapola I have. Really, I am working on it and several loads have already been taken to thrift stores or thrown away. But compared to him and Sherri, I'm Dad. Their house is the tidiest place I've ever seen and it's ALWAYS like that. They don't have any extra junk. NONE. I admire that.

Drew has the counter top for my set-up and he's bringing it by tomorrow. Having my work area put together is going to make such a difference. I'll have TOOLS. I think on Wednesday I'll go buy some paint and get started.

This feels good. I'm finally starting to take possession of the place. Thank you, Ken. You really helped move things forward today.