Friday, October 22, 2010

House of the Holy

House of The Holy

TCG has a form of ADD with an added element of senior forgetfulness that makes it hard to conduct a conversation. He interrupts very very frequently. Add to that a tendency for him to even interrupt himself, and toss in an almost total lack of ability to listen to anything else for more than about 30 seconds. 

I have to not only tell him to do anything that requires him to bestir himself from his chair,  I have to provide detailed direction. 

Now, when you add to that his needy clinging and dependence on me to provide all his socialization, cooking, cleaning, and laundry for him and the 92 year old crazy mother who, on a good day smells only like piss and who increasingly smells like shit, it's a plate full of crazy. 

 So, here is what I'm thinking...

Saint Blaise was a martyr who had his  flesh torn by wool carding combs and then he was martyred by being beaten and beheaded. He is the patron saint of wool combers. 

By this logic, I will eventually be the patron saint of incontinent dementia-sufferers, and hypochondriac drama queens. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What will survive of us is love

Wisimh: I feel better than I have in years. While my home life is dreary sad and depressing I am not depressed as I had increasingly become these past 3 - 4 years. I feel stronger and able to survive my duties as caregiver. I suppose, as with the final stage of death and dying, I accept my life. How fucking mature of me.

If not cause for actual celebration, I'm no longer on homicide watch (like suicide watch, only different). Threat level green. Whew.

The title quote is Philip Larkin.

Monday, October 11, 2010

I Feel Like A New Man

UCC had an angiogram and two stents were inserted in a cardiac artery.

UCC: I feel like I have been born again. No chest pain and walking on the treadmill is much easier. I'm not fatigued, depressed or in pain. I have NO indigestion and feel like I can breathe much easier and deeper. No arm pain.

TCG: Maybe you'll enjoy sex more.

WISIMH: Douche.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fate Worse Than...

I'm married to Grandma Wright. On Christmas.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fair Trade

TCG: I'm so tired of not being able to breathe.

UCC: COPD will do that.

TCG: If you'll donate one of your lungs to me, I'll donate one of my livers to you.

UCC: Sweet.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tales of Toenails

I could so put the ass in assisted suicide right now. To paraphrase Homer, if the Bible has taught us nothing else, and it hasn't, it’s that old people are a drain on society’s resources. Please don’t think I’m saying we should discard old people when they become useless. Useless is ok, it’s neutral wrt/draining society’s resources, and I fully support uselessness. We don’t have to actually kill old people until they become sucking piles of selfish need that smell like piss.

And yes, in case you’re asking who should decide. Yes. I could totally be a death panelist, or even chairperson. Not only do I know Roberts Rules of Order, I once helped a stranger off a bus, so I’m not totally devoid of compassion.

My main qualification to be on a death panel is that over the years I have developed an uncanny nose for all kinds of piss and related bodily smells. I can distinguish more than 17 levels of unwashed human ass before puking, which only puts me out of the game for as long as it takes me to get a martini buzz again.

DOB’s home health aid dropped in this morning to ask if I had some hydrocortisone she can use on DOB’s latest rash. I gave her some, plus a tube of Benadryl. Neither worked on my own facial rash in June, but then my doc prescribed an anti-viral because he said I have face Herpes. Charming, eh? But face herpes doesn’t stink. Turns out DOB was using an ointment for sunburn which – guess what? – was apparently exacerbating the skin rash.

Also was informed that DOB ripped out an entire toenail trying to cut her own six inch thick toenails. That’s right: not long, thick. Since she only wears bedroom slippers anymore – even when we go out – one of her toenails was curling back dangerously. After I relayed this to TCG, he talked to her about seeing a podiatrist and also about the questionable wisdom of self-medicating. For her self-medicating, not for me.

TCG: She’s adamantly refusing to see a podiatrist to get her toenails cut.

UCC: So that’s it? No podiatrist? Maybe it’s time to start treating her like a recalcitrant 2-year-old in need of a nap since that’s how she behaves. Hell, maybe it’s even time to talk about moving her somewhere where they’ll treat her like that.

TCG: Yeah, no. That’s not helpful.

WISIMH: And would it be helpful to observe that you sure as shit aren’t going to cut her toenails. Today’s lesson: if at first you don’t succeed, give up. Brought to you by clean and sober UCC whose current dose medicinal herb has not yet kicked in enough to make me censor what I say. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have bothered to state the fucking obvious only to have you shut me down without discussing it. “First Do No Thing” is the family plan for being prepared for life’s slings, arrows, and piss-soaked laundry.

I mean, why do something when there is no god, or heaven, or hell. In fact, the heat death of the universe is a mere blink of an eye away geologically speaking, so why bother? Why not help entropy do the fine job of decaying it has been doing since the Big fucking Bang.

UCC: Ok, then remind Mother to return my hydrocortisone and Benadryl when she’s done.

TCG: I’ve already put them on my shopping list. I’ll get you new ones.

WISIMH: You know, don’t you that she has more money in the bank than we do, if you don’t count our modest retirement annuities? You know that I know you subsidize her substantially, and that doesn’t even count our time and energy she sucks up. You know that I think you should stop that.

He knows something's wrong because it turns out last night I yelled at him after I’d spent a hot day doing household laundry, making dinner, and picking up the house. Picking up means putting away shit he leaves out as part of our silent war to become/not become eligible to appear on the Hoarders reality program. There I was, trying to sit still after taking my second nitro pill and get a good blood pressure reading. He started talking to me about a mistake I’d made and I simply opened my eyes and screamed at him to shut up. Without using the f-bomb, even. He is so clueless about when and why I might need some of his care, compassion, or even scant attention. It’s not like the impending signs of my frustration weren’t visible to anybody with half the sense of my retarded cat.

Oh, right. The signs of my building frustration weren’t apparent to anybody except my cat. He blinked in surprise when I yelled. Then he said: “Calm down. Shit,” which, surprisingly, was unhelpful advice.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

CSI My Yard

Today I was working in the backyard where I shelled and ate peanuts yesterday. TCG came out to say he was getting mail and check to be sure I had my cellphone in case he needed a ride back up the driveway.
TCG: (seeing scattered peanut shells) What happened here?
UCC: Yikes. Foul play?
TCG: It looks like a lot of peanut shells.
UCC: Good guess, Grissom.
WISIMH: Could it be that the Planter's Peanut guy was ambushed here? Wait! Is that a smashed monocle?
TCG: how did the peanut shells get here?
Ucc: I wish I knew.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Guess What?

TCG:  Here's something to brighten your day. We got an e-mail from X with an attachment. It looks like it might be some kind of form to fill out?

WISIMH:  Did you read it? Did you print the form? Can you do even the tiniest little thing that involves exercise of initiative? Do I need to give you detailed instructions for even the most simple task?

WISIMH:  No, no, no and yes.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What’s Worse Than Dying During Sex?

TCG:  The yard guys are here. Were you going to tell them something about using the blower to remove the dropped birdseed from DOB’s door where it attracts rats?

UCC:  Kinda busy here, and plus I’m shy, can you do that?

WISIMH: Since it’s your mother and her rat problem that is only made worse by her failure to sweep up dropped birdseed from immediately outside her door?

Time passes

TCG:  I told them about the birdseed, but now they may not do the patio…

UCC:  What…

WISIMH:  …the fuck?
TCG:  Well, maybe I wasn’t real…. About the…. They may not use the blower at all? I’m not sure.

Sure enough, they’re starting to rake the patio outside the window where I’m trying to do e-mail. I go out and explain - using actual words - that they can use the blower as usual, but please to get all the birdseed and blow it downhill from DOB’s door instead of merely moving it into my part of the patio. I’m speaking to two guys, one of whom doesn’t have very much English and they seem to understand me better than TCG. Language is not the only barrier to comprehension here in the Fortress of Attitude.

WISIMH: I need to master the ability to release a little steam from my ears like cartoon characters who are pushed to the brink of insanity by unreasonable behavior of other cartoon characters. This would presumably keep my head from exploding when I am confronted with the increasingly common communication snafus. Until I do master this steam-releasing trick, I mentally review the Catholic Popes who died during sex.

First, there was Leo VII (936-9), who died of a heart attack; then John VII (955-64), who was bludgeoned to death by the husband of the woman he was “with” at the time. Then another John XIII (965-72), who was also murdered by a jealous husband; and last in this line was Pope Paul II (1467-71), who allegedly died while being sodomized by a page boy. Thanks to The Google, I’m saved again.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Martinis and Lemon Merngue Pie

DOB is having trouble with the seatbelt in the back seat. She can’t see to reach it, can’t see to clip it on, and can’t figure out how to gently pull it out so it doesn’t catch and freeze too short. A while back, TCG fixed it. He put a paper clamp on the seatbelt at the fully-extended position. Now, it doesn’t contract before DOB can find the clip. Now, it doesn’t contract at all. Now it leaves a long loop of loose seatbelt which DOB generally sits on and then can’t manage to untangle. So, we are trying to teach her to pull the entire seatbelt outside the door, enter and sit, then reach and pull it across her girth and latch it. It might be easier to teach a cat to quack, but who’s to say?

In the following dialogue, I can only report what I hear, and between my hearing impairment and DOB’s tendency to mumble and drool her words it’s entirely possible that I am doing her conversational contributions an injustice. Then again, when I do manage to hear an entire sentence, I’m reminded that the definition we learned is that a sentence is a word, or group of words that express a complete thought. DOB is successful at completing thoughts as she is at performing rocket surgery, albeit slightly less accomplished than a detoxing drunken hobo with advanced dementia.

Backing the car out of the carport, and waiting until the worst of the struggling and mumbling in the back seat subsides

TCG:   How’s it coming with the seatbelt?
DOB:   Can’t quite get…. Dat dere thing… lemon meringue pie…. Ooof, ugh
UCC:   Need a hand?
DOB:   The whasaname? can’t find it.  Adlai Stevenson... thermonuclear?
TCG:   (In an undertone to UCC) Remember the airline steward who, in giving the seatbelt demo, said “If you don’t know how a seatbelt works, you shouldn’t be permitted outside the house on your own”?
UCC:    Sadly, yes.

Tried to get this weekly show on the road early because I have a docent meeting tonight, the only one I never miss each year: Cadillac margaritas and pot luck. This theme of making me late is an undercurrent to today's Sushi Wednesday lunch.

TCG manages to place our sushi order without even going through the motions of asking DOB to order. Way too many obstacles to overcome to get her to read a menu,  select a dish, and remember it long enough to tell the waiter, let alone to actually understand what the words on the menu mean. Or recognizing what she ordered when it's set before her.

DOB:  What are you drinking?
UCC:  An apple martini (which is to an appletini as an ahi salad is to a Mrs. Paul’s fish stick) Wanna taste?
DOB:  (crickets amid puzzlement)
UCC:  (Handing her the martini glass, safely sipped down to a level where she won’t slosh it all over the table) Have a taste.
DOB:  (Taking martini glass and raising and sipping – all in slow motion)  No thanks, I have my wine. Slurp, glug… while my guitar gently weeps…  Mmmm….
WISIMH:  Wait. What? Your guitar? Have I suddenly learned to understand DOBonics?  Like I’ve heard people who immerse themselves in a foreign language report sudden bursts of clarity?  This is a stage of growth I never anticipated. Might I also then be able to speak DOBonics?
DOB:    (who has apparently been “talking” the whole time I’m musing with a metaphorical lightbulb over my head)… Mom never suspected it was eel…. Punic War…  told her it was whitefish….  Res ipsa loquitor… slurp, glug.
WISIMH:   Decoding the language doesn’t impart comprehension. The map is not the territory. The words are not the meaning. The single martini is not nearly enough.

After a few glasses of wine, the conversation between DOB and TCG takes on the familiar passive aggressive heat, burning the edges of their words in acrid smoke which is not concealed by their obligatory “heh heh” which is supposed to indicate you don’t really hate each other because you’re just kidding when you say hateful things.

TCG:  If you want more wine, perhaps you’d like to consider buying lunch one of these days. Heh.
DOB:  Yeah, huh?
TCG:  I am a good son to take such good care of you. Make sure you tell J.
DOB:  Oh, wise guy, huh? N’yuk n’yuk. I shot an elephant in my pajamas.
TCG:  Angry bitch. Heh
DOB:  Lamentable tragedy of the plot of Lost… more wine. What are you drinking?
UCC:  The dregs of my dreams. Wanna taste?
DOB:  I don't know why I'm still here... Prunes decimal tick tock.

The drive home is always the best, because of the broken-record quality of the conversation. DOB usually settles on a single question and repeats it a dozillion times. One week it was did I get enough to eat or drink, for whatever the fucking good her plaintive concerns would do me if I was still hungry. Today’s is concern for my general malaise.

DOB:  Are you ok, UCC?
UCC:  I’m fine mother.
DOB:  Is UCC ok?
TCG:  Well, she may have just voided her urine, in which case she may better now?
DOB:  Ok, well… legend of sleepy hollow… matchstick pantsuit… ok?
UCC:  Well, it may be not so much recently voided, as previously voided and now marinating on a hot back seat that is 99F in the shade today.
TCG:  Roger that.
DOB:  Then again, can’t get the …. Oofff, ghughh, ahhh… before the floorwax harvest Pinkerton. And whatnot.
WISIMH:  She’s as smart as paint, only she smells worse when she dries. And of course, I am late for my meeting, stressed and pissed, with TCG saying sushi with DOB is only once a week for shit sake and can’t I just do what he wants and me explaining it’s just once a fucking year for this meeting dude and your quoty hands compromise consisting of doing exactly what you wanted in the first place hasn’t really established your generous and compassionate love so much as it confirms your complete obliviousness to what is going on here. You ask me what I want to do, and when I spell it out in perfect and simple detail (e.g. go somewhere else for lunch where the wait isn’t so long) and then you say what you want to do and then we do it your way and then you say well I asked you what you wanted to do like why am I always pissed and whatnot. Lemon meringue pie mother fuckers.
DOB:    (Apparently feeling the heat radiating off my fevered brain)  Are you ok dear?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Report from Senility Base

DOB:   I took that there..... uh.... with the ummmm... and need to...

WISIMH:  Boy howdy.

The maid service declined to clean DOB's toilet today because she repeatedly and badly misses the target when she poops and in two weeks the accumulated caked-on fecal material has made some impressive stalagmites in the general vicinity of the toilet.

The lady who comes 2x/wk to bathe DOB had a family emergency, making this a week when only one "bath" will be administered. That also means maybe at most, two changes of clothes.

In fairness, she does change her adult diapers daily (when she remembers). In yet more fairness, she puts used diapers in a plastic trash bag that she leaves with the top open to facilitate use. Since she doesn't take out her trash any more, it sits by the door leading to my side of the house, where it's maximum olfactory benefit wafts my way. She either has her heater on too high and too long, or runs the ac with the adjacent window open, metaphorically cooling Silver Spring.

DOB doesn't change into pajamas at night, and does not sleep between sheets, but instead collapses on top of bedspread covered with an afgan. The never-slept-in sheets are nevertheless changed every two weeks by the maid service and washed and folded by me. The filthy bedspred and pillow cover may make it into the wash 3 times a year.

There is shag carpeting in most of the bedroom and a flat carpet in the kitchen area of DOB's room. Between remnents of stinky old dog and long term and serious incontenence, you would not want to take a carpet sample to a lab or see a report of pathogens colonizing in the shag carpet. Don't go there in bare feet.

TCG is barely better. I have to remind him to bathe twice a week (sometimes once), to put on clean trousers, to get a haircut, to shave. What is it about personal hygeine that so befuddles these people?

DOB has a mind like a steel sponge. Walt Whitman said he didn't care if he contradicted himself because "I am large, I contain multidues." Now, imagine that these unwashed multitudes make lots of meaningless noise, have advanced dementia and yeast and/or urinary tract infections. Imagine that instead of using emoticons when they e-mail, they converse by making inscrutible facial expressions in pathetic attempts to communicate without using specific nouns or verbs. And by "converse" I mean they don't listen - even to whatever you'd call coming out of their own mouths.

DOB, at 92, is the healthiest person in the house. TCG, at 68 can't walk without a walker, makes huffing and puffing sounds ALL DAY LONG, with an "holy shit!" thrown in periodically to see if I'm listening. He really plays to the audience too. Ahhhhh.... Laugh -and the world laughs with you. Rant - and the world laughs at you.

But I get money for nothing, have good books to read, a garden to tend and controlled substances when I can't otherwise forgive my roomates for using my air. Plus, I have a kitty who loves me, friends and family who provide support and encouragement, and a healthy fear of being caught that deters me from contemplating homicide. Also, I may or may not have an immortal soul.

And a mystic once told me that before I died, I'd have a moment of absolute clarity when I would understand the entire mystery of the universe. So, I've got that going for me.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Timing is Everything

My unwritten rule of blogging here is that I can only say things in fun, not in anger. That’s been increasingly hard to do lately, so I’ve shut the hell up. But there’s funny and then there’s funny.  I have some kind of cardiac problem. I’m getting a test today and another in 2 weeks and maybe somebody will believe me. Meanwhile, here’s some stuff that’s funny, but not really funny funny.

I’ve been out in the yard in the 90 degree heat and I wrenched my lower back. I come inside, tell TCG that I’m going to take the tomatoes out of the oven, turn it up, make a complicated meatloaf recipe, and then take a shower. So I do all but the last step. The kitchen is as hot as outside, but smells delicious. So, then I repor to TCG again, because if I don’t check in every hour or so he worries that I’m getting too much quality time with me and insists I listen to him ignore me….

UCC:  Meatloaf in oven. Heading into take a show-
TCG:  Come here and let me take your blood pressure. I’ve figured this new cuff out.
WISIMN:   Yup. He’s on send. No point in trying to send a message about how hot and tired I am and how much I need that shower.

He puts on the cuff, explaining that the machine will do shit that takes a long time.

TCG:  So, it does three measurements and then displays the average. Takes about 5 minutes. Have you done it that way?
UCC:  No. But I’m not supposed to ta-
TCG:     Blah blah? Repeated several times and ending in an interrogatory.
UCC:   Talk later, not during measurement.

Fucker kept it up the entire 5 minutes, which did things to the final reading that made it high.

I hear DOB’s microwave when I step into the shower. I take long showers. It’s still humming. I know what this means: the dreaded discombobulation about setting the clock and setting a cooking time.

UCC:   (Trying not to show my degree of pissed off and save face)  I can hear a buzz in by the bathroom,  can you find it?
TCG:  Walking back and nodding.

Time passes. Lots of time. Setting the clock on the microwave is a 3-step process a monkey could learn. DOB can’t learn.

This morning. Same story.

TCG:    I have to make some signs for DOB
UCC:   Meaning, I have to get off the computer?
TCG:   When you can.
WISIMH:  She can only break instructions into tiny pieces and can’t sew them together again. Even if you write it on a sign with letters three inches tall. And think! We’re off to our weekly sushi/too much alcohol lunch. All three of us. In   and for  salvation for my potential victims.

Monday, August 2, 2010

A True American Hero

Every Wednesday we go to lunch and get sushi and 2 martinis for UCC. All attempts to maintain a volley of conversational exchanges with DOB bounce off her like a tennis ball tossed at a brick wall, but without leaving a tiny tennis-ball scuff. During a single lunch, she will ask what is on various plates 4 or 5 times for each item. She has a short term memory like a leaking boat and you can’t bale fast enough to keep from slowly melting into the surface of the placid lake, leaving no imprint except ephemeral expanding ripples, soon gone. Here’s a sample:
UCC: What’s that?
TCG: Jicima. Wanna taste?
UCC: What’s that?
TCG: Still jicima.
UCC: What’s that?
DOB: No. I don’t know.
UCC: Either Jicima or a copy of your resume, last updated in the middle of the previous century.
DOB: I don’t know. No.
WISIMH: Letting my hearing aid batteries die with dignity before we embarked for lunch, and thus softly suffocating the sounds of reality like a pillow on a sleeping face. That was an inspired decision.
UCC: Nobody knows. No.

Later that same generation…
UCC and TCG have just come from the butcher and I’ve loaded the groceries but am still rooting around in the tailgate, going through the recyclable grocery bags to find the one I take out at our next stop at the Farmer’s Market because it has pouches to separate vegetables. I can’t find it. TCG is standing there watching me, clearly waiting to get my attention so he can speak.
UCC: I can’t find the canvas sack with the separate partitions. I want it to--
TCG: No. Did you get the receipt?
UCC: --take to the farmer’s market. And yes. I’m going to write the debit amount in my check---
TCG: No. The point is, did she give you the amount to write in your checkbook?
UCC: (waving receipt and checkbook) No, the point actually is that I was looking for the grocery sack. And didn’t find it. And yes, I have the debit amount on the receipt she gave me: $94.15.
TCG: Then what did she give me?
WISIMH: A rash? A one-way ticket to Crazytown? An enigma wrapped in a mystery, stuffed into a small canvas sack full of rocks, and tossed over a bridge into torrential waters? The latest excuse for failing the test of time?
UCC: I don’t know, dear.
TCG: (Looking at the copy of the receipt he retrieved from the grocery bag.) Did you write down $94.15?
UCC: (waving receipt and checkbook, where I’ve been doing just that as he could see if only he wasn’t intent on putting the car into reverse and leaving it there while we have this discussion, so the entire conversation is accompanied by the beep-beep of backup) Yes, dear.
TCG: Look! A squirrel! (or, that’s what I think I hear when he’s busy interrupting his own interruptions, but it may be that when he makes my ears bleed everything sounds like that.)
WISIMH: Your attention spans are as long as a red wool scarf sliced into femtometers and boiled, and don’t ask me why the scarf is red. It’s about concealing the bleeding from my ears. Lucille Ball once said: I’m not funny. What I am is brave. What she said.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Joy Riding Around

DOB and TCG are going out. For her to do some banking. She just had her visit from the home healthcare giver and had bath, and her wet hair is plastered to her almost bald scalp.

UCC Are you ok to go out with your head wet? It’s cold out.

DOB: Feeling her head, finding it wet, acting like a sleepwalker abruptly awoken. Saying, in surprise: I’d forgotten about that.

WISIMH: Of course you have, bless your little heart. It happened more than 2 minutes ago.

UCC: And do you want a hat?

DOB: Feeling her head, finding it wet, acting like a sleepwalker abruptly awoken. Saying, in surprise: I’d forgotten about that, or words to that effect.

WISIMH: And had you forgotten that the popularity of Jell-O peaked in the mid 1960s, and was often made by incorporating real and artificial dairy products. Had you forgotten that these days, gastronomic experts consider Jell-O déclassé. , the war on poverty, financial meltdown, the GWOT, or the madwoman screaming in the attic?

UCC: Blah, blah, hat?

And, accompanied by the sound of crickets from both DOB and TCG, I got my gardening hat and handed it to her, but finding her too dumbfounded to take it, putting it on her fucking head.

UCC: … there ya go.

Much huffing ensues as the party departs from the front door.

Two minutes pass.

My cell phone rings.

UCC: Yellow.

Pause, sound of fumbling, hang up.

Cell phone rings.


TCG: …know if you could you go into Mother’s room....

WISIMH: Blah, blah, could YOU provide a bit more information? For example: relating the funny story about, say, WHY the fuck I should I go into DOB’s room? Is there an Improvised Explosive Device waiting to send me to Allah?
Sadly, I understand, you are incapable of using too many words at once. You are running out of your words. Increasingly, you are relying on me to supply the fucking context you no longer can muster. What happens when you begin to run out of thoughts, in addition to running out of words to express them?

UCC: In breathless anticipation: Ok, I’m there.

TCG: Can you get her phone on the table?

WISIMH: I’ll buy a clue, Alex. Which of the three tables in DOB’s room?


UCC: Got it! (on the third table, honestly.)

TCG: Can you bring it to us?

UCC: OK, I’ll wait ‘til I hear the driveway alarm bell.

TCG: We’re here. We haven’t left yet.

WISIMH – although I may have said aloud: What the fuck?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sushi Wednesday

Our weekly outing as a family. Here's a sample of the conversation driving to the restaurant.

TCG: There’s one of those trees from the south… you know… marigold?
UCC: Magnol-
TCG: Magnolia! Is this the street where we turn?
UCC: No, I think it’s past that light ahea-
TCG: And there’s more of that funny orange bougainvillea that Mother loves.
DOB: Ugh! Look at that car. What a horrible shade of blue.

Something about bright car colors aggravates her, but it’s usually taxicab-yellow.

TCG: Is this the turn?

Time passes like cold molasses dripping down a tree in Vermont, in February. When I regain consciousness, we’re at the restaurant.

DOB: What’s that?
UCC: Crunchy tuna roll
DOB: What’s this?
UCC: That’s the teriyaki chicken bowl you ordered. Is it good?
DOB: Yes. No. Not the broccoli. Or the carrots. Are you using that?

Pointing to my tiny saucer I’m using for dipping sushi in soy sauce and ignoring her empty saucer adjacent. Not waiting for my answer, she begins stacking her broccoli on it. Not uneaten broccoli, mind you. She can’t see what she’s eating, so she shovels amazingly large bites into her mouth and begins to pre-chew – pre gum actually – things. Then she is able to remove things too al dente (being nolo dente herself) by rummaging around inside her mouth with a finger, pinching lumpy things dripping in saliva daintily out, and placing them carefully on the reject pile in my soy sauce saucer. Carrots, she can mostly see, so they’re stacked, mostly unmasticated, among the broccoli.

DOB: What is that?
UCC: It’s my crunchy tuna roll.
DOB: What’s in it.
UCC: Crunchy tuna mostly.
WISIMH: But it also has a bit of wasabi and sesame seeds, and the barest hint of bitter regret at the breakdown in social discourse. When I eat it, the crunch makes a barely audible cri de coeur that sounds like faint mourning for all the lost opportunities for assisted suicide.

DOB: Oh, more broccoli. I can’t chew broccoli, even though I’m getting a new tooth. Right here, see?
WISIMH: Jesus Christ cosigning on a foreclosed mortgage, we don’t need to fucking see it every time you eat.
UCC: Yes, I see your new tooth. What is that? (pointing at her teriyaki bowl)

Blank look. Like the expression on the face of a dishrag crumpled in a corner of the sink. In fact, with miscellaneous peices of chicken and rice stuck to her chin and the front of her shirt, very much like a dishrag.

UCC: It’s your teriyaki chicken bowl. Is it good?
WISIMH: You’ve got some stupid on your face, right there, in the corner of your mouth. No other side.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Time Travel

DOB: Time keeps going backward!

UCC: On you microwave. Yes. That's how it works when you're cooking something in the microwave, right? Wait. There's nothing in the microwave.

DOB: I have spent 30 minutes trying to set the time, but the time keeps going backwards.

WISIMH: Jesus Christ in a spaceship! Do you have more than 2 brain cells that You could rub together to make any heat?

UCC: So. Umm, do you have the directions for setting the microwave clock?

DOB: Yep, but they don't work.

WISIMH: That's ok, neither do my superpowers in special education, my ability to see in the dark, or my ability to make time run backwards, but what the he'll.

UCC: (Following the seemingly idiot-proof 3-step instructions. Sucessfully!)
Well, wadda ya know, time has stopped running backwards. And the microwave is not cooking air.

DOB: Fine, but now it is standing still. It says 10:44. If it stays that way, so be it.

UCC: Well. It will stay that way for a minute. Most working clocks will advance about a minute per minute.

WISIMH: Except when I converse with you. Time slows to a glacial creep when one attempts to communicate with you.

There follows about a hundred years of profound silence as we watch the microwave digital display intently. Then, eureka! 10.45!

DOB: Looks like it may be working. For now.

UCC: Glad I could help.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Deja What Now?

Someday we'll look back on this and laugh, and burst into tears, and choke up, and break down into hysterical, uncontrolable maniacal laughter.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Women are expected to create the entire domestic space. When men are left alone, they fall apart. Cats wonder the halls mournfully

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Laundry and Passive Agression

Sunday is wash day. I used to do three loads by separating light, dark and medium. A while back I figured a labor and power saving alternative. I now dump all of DOB’s wash into the same load and do it first, and separate mine and TCG’s stuff into a light and dark load. I still have to do hers in hot water, but I can do the last do my two loads in cold. Also, the same three loads, but I don’t have to hand-sort through the urine-soaked clothing first. The down side is that all the Kleenex left in miscellaneous pockets is concentrated in one load of wash. This means that when put into the dryer, the careful paste of tissue is dried and thoroughly spread in shreds and globs throughout the clothes, and all of that crap in a single load jams up the dryer filter.

So my passive aggressive response is to carefully gather all the Kleenex lint and carefully tuck it down the inside leg of pants, fold it into bath towels and other laundry and otherwise recycle it in her clean clothes. My justification is that upon seeing this, she will be more careful not to leave tissue in the pockets next week. Last week was particularly tissue-loaded. There was enough residual Kleenex to be dispersed throughout the subsequent loads of my clothing. I’ve got a solution for that too – I carefully leave it on TCG’s clean laundry as I sort and fold it on the bed for him to put away. It’s not like I’ve never tried to ask DOB to remove tissue before putting clothing in the wash. Dear god, I have, back in the old days when I still believed there was some cognitive function remaining. Which is about as effective as an XXX adult diaper left on 24 hours at a time is in stopping odor from seeping into every article of clothing in the adjacent area, including her chair and bed.

Why, just this morning…

UCC:            (coming to DOB’s room to collect her laundry) How are you this morning?

DOB:  I was just getting the laundry ready for you. (Standing in front of the hamper and holding a bunch of clothing and being frozen in place because she’s unable to talk and do anything else concurrently, like, say, getting the hell out of my way.)

WISIMH:            What? You were carefully placing tissue in all the pockets?

UCC:            Here, I’ve got it. (Trying to reach around DOB to access clothing still in the bottom of the hamper – way out of her reach – and having a bit of difficulty because DOB is still standing in front of the hamper holding some dirty clothes at the maximum olfactory level for me to appreciate). Did you have a good night?

DOB:            No. I kept waking up.

WISIMH:            What? You were tossing and turning and trying to remember today is wash day and you had yet to insert the requisite tissue in your dirty clothes? I can imagine that would keep you up. That, and plus your dog who also sleeps all day and then barks half the night at invisible things outside, and who never shuts up when you yell his name 18 times to make him stop.

UCC:            (Holding the dirty laundry and trying to breath through my mouth to avoid the aroma of unwashed granny and urine). I’m sorry to hear you didn’t get a good night’s sleep. Maybe you can make up for it today by napping in your chair.

DOB:            I hope so.

WISIMH:            Yeah, me too. Otherwise, you might be confused and stupid upon waking tomorrow after yet another sleepless night.

UCC:            Yeah, me too.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Authentic German Sausagefest

I got DOB some authentic German sauerkraut and canned sausages for Xmas. Back then, she was surviving on saltines, Velveeta and powdered milk. Except for the days I’d make us all dinner, or the things I’d tell her clueless son to add to her grocery list. She still had a tooth back then too, and we all still pretended she was independent. Since then, she’s rediscovered the joys of TV dinners and other prepared meals, liquid protein shakes and snack-sized sugar-free pudding. She has a refrigerator that actually chills colder than the cold water faucet, a microwave she uses correctly most of the time, and somebody who makes sure her shopping list gives a  minimal chin nod at nutritional sufficiency. She keeps talking about making dinner for all of us, but is apparently waiting for some body to wind her up and get things going, I’m not quite sure how that works.

Yesterday I got a new German pressure cooker that kicks my old leaky-handled 35 year old pressure cooker’s sorry butt. It came with a cook book. I proposed to make German sausages (locally made artisan burgundy pork sausage with sage and warm potato salad with caraway seeds), assuming I’d make this together with DOB’s bottle of sausage and glass of sauerkraut. You know what they say about assuming. There’s no “i” in assuming, mother fucker.

Note to self: Next time you buy her food to cook, pick something you actually like, regardless of the fact that the pressure cooker will cook anything to the masticatory consistency of oatmeal.

UCC:            Tonight I’ll do the German meal in the pressure cooker…

TCG:            The what now?

UCC:            … that DOB has been talking about wanting since Xmas.

WISIMH:            And the one we talked about last night from the new pressure cooker book. And the one I was reading to you last night. And the one you got the burgundy sausage yesterday to use. And the one that I all but carved on your forehead in the blood of a freshly strangled white peacock, backwards, so you could read it when you looked in the mirror.

TCG:            German Meal? No, no, no, no. SHE wants to make dinner for US.  (Pause to deliberate) Iuppose it would be ok if you’d make the potatoes in your pressure cooker.

WISIMH:            Give me a fucking break. You don’t know how this is gonna go down? Oh what the hell, I’ll play along.

UCC:            That’s cool. Talk to her about it to confirm she wants to do it tonight. I’ll need an hour to put together the potatoes and get the tv tables set up and wine poured et. al.

TCG:            Great. I’ll get back to ya.

(Insert time passing by focusing camera on institutional clock with the hands turning about an hour.)

TCG:            Know how we said you were going to cook the potatoes and DOB was going to do the sauerkraut and sausages?

UCC:            Yup.

WISIMH: I know where this is going, but if I was to attempt to cut to the chase, he’d be left half a lap behind, puffing and blowing and being kafluffled all to hell. In the end, it’s easier to wait it out.

TCG:            And how we said we’d time it to all come out together and then she’d come over here so you could put things on the same plate at the same time and serve them to us at our chair by the tv where we’ll sit and wait and drink the wine you thoughtfully poured?

Ok, I made that last part up.

UCC:            Yup.

TCG:            Well, what do you think about putting it all into the pressure cooker using the nifty trivet and steamer try to separate the layers and whatnot?

UCC:            That’s actually what the recipe I read to you and discussed in some detail actually calls for. Coincidently, it’s what I proposed both last night and just now.

TCG:            Then, let’s keep the option open, and I’ll check with DOB.

(Insert scene where that institutional clock creeps ahead about ten minutes while I gouge my eyes out with an antique pin and blood pours down my silently screaming face.)

TCG:            (Returning from visiting DOB’s room)  Here’s the sauerkraut and the sausages. Can you do the whole thing and we’ll call DOB when it’s time for her to come over and gum dinner with us.

UCC:            You betcha!

WISIMH:            Didn’t that work out best for us after all? Kinda like we wouldn’t have had Camus’ masterpiece “The Plague” but for that pesky little yersina pestis?  Some would say it’s karma. I prefer to say it’s a healthy shot of butterscotch liquor in my pomegranate juice.

Friday, February 12, 2010


A state of disconcerting confusion

It’s been cold lately. Ok, for So Cal, cold. We’ve had unseasonable precipitation lately. Ok, not snow, rain. Not a blizzard or even a flood. But still. I asked TCG to make a fire last night.

We had two presto-logs left: a five hour and a two hour. He lit them both. In the fireplace. At the same time. Together.

TCG: It’s 6 pm. We’ll have a nice warm fire til midnight.

UCC: !

WISIMH: Actually 2 + 5 = 5 hours of fire if you start the two logs together at the same time. You could have started one, and at the end of its life, put the other in. Had you done so, that would have given us consecutive fire instead of concurrent fire.

UCC: Great. Thanks for the fire. It’s getting smoky in here.

TCG: Yeah, it does that in the beginning. Until it warms up.

UCC: Maybe if you didn’t turn on the blower until the fire caught…

WISIMH: … you moron.

(The blower is set of six 2” pipes bent in a “C” shape to hold the wood in the crook of the C. The blower is a fan that takes air in from the bottom and blows it out the top. If there is smoke in the bottom, it is heated, atomized, and blown into the room in a fine fog. Not something wise for a guy with COPD. )

TCG: But then you don’t get the heated air, and I’m freezing.

WISIMH: It’s more than choosing my battles. It’s choosing whether to invest any of my dwindling patience in an attempt at communication about something. It’s a communication triage: what do I really need to communicate, vs. what might merely be nice to communicate. Besides, I like inhaling smoke as much as the next guy. Coping mechanism or cry for help. Besides, he is cold and he wanted a quicker, hotter fire.

UCC: I do appreciate you being around.

TCG: We have it pretty good.

UCC: Yeah (coughing) we do.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lights Out

Could be the worst storm in almost 100 years (1916) on the way. National Weather Service says two storms, local forecaster says merging into one mother of all storms, just about to get underway. We’re no better equipped to handle monsoons in So Cal than most Floridians are to handle snow, or than most bunny rabbits are to handle corporate lawyers.

So, I started this time yesterday, filling oil lamps, cannibalizing 4 dirty old lamps to end up with one working lamp. Found all the candles and matches. Laid out crap on dinning room table to get ready for the dark, including pliers, WD40, scissors. Washed the oil lamps, covered with dust and very old termite sawdust. Power went out just before 14:00 yesterday, resumed at 23:00. Ahhh, but what adventures we had when the light were out.

Thanks the gas, we had a stove, although the water heater and furnace stopped because both are operated by electrical controls. I was able to keep my Italian wedding soup simmering on the stove. TCG took DOB to the lab for routine tests, getting caught in the slow-motion nightmare of trying to get DOB from car to building at the nano-second that the skies opened up and dropped raindrops the size of Volkswagens. Can’t you picture TCG, huffing and puffing to get her moving, and saying, in that slo-mo deep movie guy voice: “N…Nnnn…ooo… ooo!!!” as Perverse Nature laughed in the background? Good times.

So, anyway, after they get home, just about at dark, having stopped for Italian food because after several abortive attempts to use his iPhone w/ Bluetooth in the car, there was enough confusion in the air. I simply gave up trying to convey anything about light situation to TCG, because he was stuck in Send mode. He and DOB went out to late lunch on the way home, so they arrived just as the last light left the sky.

Fortunately, I had lights outside the front door and immediately inside, including several configurations of wax candles and those battery-operated tea lights. I could hear incoherent babble from DOB, concurrent with the urgent inarticulate cry for help from TCG before the door was fully opened. Finally, I was able to impress upon them both (yeah, right) we needed to review lighting options immediately.

UCC: (TO TCG) I set out candles and oil lamp on the dinning room table. You need to proceed there, sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up. It’s getting dark. See if you can get some of the other oil lamps going--

TCG: (Talking over me) Here, these are the leftovers from Centifoni’s. Mother had lasagna and I had angel hair pasta with blah blah…

UCC: (Patiently taking the dripping bag and walking in to kitchen. Dripping? Because have contents shifted? Well, yes. Wiping off container and placing it dark refrigerator) Muttering.

TCG: …. we got soaked at the lab. The rain started the instant we got out of the car, one v-e-r-y long parking space away from the building entrance.

UCC: Focus! You need to think about whether she can be trusted with live flame, which would be risky even if she had the sense of a retarded caveman. Think how flammable our house is. Think how stupid she is. Think---

TCG: (Talking over me) There were only two people ahead of us at the lab…

UCC: I’ll get DOB into her room, changed into dry clothes and explain her lighting options. Meanwhile, you check out the oil lamp situation.

TCG: Blah blah, blah (because I’ve walked away to get DOB out of her gape-jawed stall, parked on her walker in the middle of the room listening to me trying to get TCG to the dinning room table and her into her fucking room to shut that whining dog’s pathetic cries, so I don’t actually hear what he continued to say.)

DOB: We had angel-hair pasta and some…. oh, you know, that…

UCC: Lasagna. (Pointing to the 3-candle candelabra, alight on her kitchen table). It’s getting dark, let’s get you out of those wet clothes. (Trying to get DOB to walk quickly, even in dry weather, is an exercise in attempted violation of the law of thermodynamics about biddies (sic) at rest wanting to stay at rest) See the candles?

DOB: (Gazing solemnly in what can most favorably be described as a bemused and baffled look; but which veers closer to the slack-jawed blind-gaze-of-the-terminally-comatose end of the scale).

Then, she begins this pornographically postmodern striptease attempt, gracefully slowed not by skill, so much as inability to lift her fat arms over her fat head.

WISIMH: Ok, I’m not so much captivated by this, as I am vomiting in my mouth. There’s not much to do except help her disrobe and pretend to understand her lunatic raving, muffled by the shirt over her head. Don’t even try to communicate in any meaningful way. Breathe. Wait, belay that! The room stinks like sick wet dog and stale urine.

So later, TCG goes out in the car looking for oil lamp oil, wick, and it goes without saying, some candles and matches; which however, since it went without saying it went without thought. Wait until you see what helpful stuff he DID get.

TCG: (returning to the house, beginning to speak to me before even registering where I might be, like, for instance, bleeding out on the floor at his feet, where he would still be talking as he tripped over my dead body) I went to A, the then to B, and finally, someone at C told me Dixiline had lamp oil and wicks. I went there, but they were closed.

UCC: Did you get some more candles or matches?

TCG: Oh, no, you didn’t tell me that!

WISIMH: You broke the chimney on that lamp! You spilled lamp oil all over the fucking table trying to consolidate limited supply in working units! You left other unspeakable mess behind, and god help me if you’d think to get your own fucking tools or clean the fuck up after yourself.
And now, for something completely different.

UCC: So what DID you get?

TCG: I almost got those oils you get to stick in aromatherapy bottles, with the sticks?

WISIMH: Thank goodness you didn’t do such a bonehead thing, you charming man.

UCC: What…

WISIMH: ..the fuck…

UCC: DID you get?

TCG: Tiki Torch Oil! (spoken triumphantly, with no more trace of irony than the trace of a grimace could be detected on my own smiling face.)

WISIMH: Aggggh! I’m going blind! Tiki torches are alcohol-based and burn like gasoline. This would not be appropriate for indoor use by people who had, let’s say, average competence and common sense. Imagine giving a Moltov cocktail of an oil lamp to DOB. I gave her a fucking battery-operated tea light earlier, showed her carefully how it wasn’t a real flame, and how the switch on the back could turn it on and off. When I returned later, upon smelling smoke, she had carefully placed the electric teal light safely in a cereal bowl, presumably to be fire-safe and catch melted wax.

The smell of smoke? Turns out she too, has 2 oil lamps, which haven’t been used in 20+ years, and are thus caked with greasy dust and fossilized termite droppings. Did she clean them before lighting? Seriously? Do you know what that lamp would smell like when lit in a room already damply redolent of the dying dog’s pustulant sores, and her ventilated diaper pail? If you don’t, good.

Later, having tried unsuccessfully to start a dura-flame log, TCG lights a homemade tiki-torch in the dinning room. Did I mention that TCG has COPD? That candle smoke bothers him? That he is an idiot?

TCG: There! How’s that instead of oil lamps?

UCC: (Hurrying to the site of the conflagration, now smoking and with flame a foot high.) That doesn’t work inside, too much smoke and CO2. Put it out.

TCG: Blah blah, putting it out, blah blah. WAIT! I have a bloody nose!

Spontaneous nosebleeds are TCG’s latest symptom, lovingly cultivated and dramatically performed, replete with plenty of red Kleenex, which he keeps in a flat sheet to dot with blood like some insane performance artist with only red paint. Despite needing a rapt audience for the duration of the nose bleed, it is dutifully interspersed with much apology and insistence that everything’s fine just fine. All suggestions one might make – for example: to do as web-MD advises and pinch nose closed for ten minutes – are declined with much patiently and regretfully sorrowful disappointment at one could be so wonderful and yet so dumb. Sadly shaking his head no. Ahhh….

Now look. I could attempt to recreate the evening’s conversational journey, lexically noncompliant and without context, but last night in the dark DOB was there too. In candlelight, plus the light of the fire I finally started instantly by the simple expedient of following the manufacturer’s instructions. I am reminded that LBJ once said someone was so dumb they wouldn’t know how to pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were written on the bottom. TCG wouldn’t know how to follow directions for lighting a dura-flame log if they were written in huge 3-step process on the log wrapping.

So instead of trying to commit the scintillating conversation to memory, I just kept drinking. I do recall one exchange during this 15-minute episode of Nosebleed Theater (audience will absolutely not be seated once the show has begin!) It exemplifies the quality of the discourse:

DOB: Aunt Hilda used to get nosebleeds all the time.

TCG: Yeah, but she was a bit high-strung, (spoken in an ominous undertone that hints of dark Freudian complications, most likely having to do with The Change)

DOB: But she was skinny. Hilda’s bloody noses were nothing like yours.

TCG: I’m skinny too. I now weight more than you. I’m the fattest person in this house.

WISIMH: Which makes as much sense in the middle of a nosebleed conversation as Biblical references do stamped on American weapons in the GWOT. It is a Good Thing that, in addition to the lights, I had the forethought to put out the jug of generic Baileys Irish Cream and a couple of glasses. And plus, I had the foresight to drink an entire glass before you guys got home.

I refilled my glass twice more during the entertainment portion of the evening’s show. He can’t start a fire. He can’t fix a lamp when all he has to do is fill it with the fucking right kind of oil. He can’t be trusted to think of anything on his own and now he can’t even competently follow directions. I’ve confronted the demon of having no intellectual stimulation or meaningful communication with either of them. Now, I’m beginning to suspect there’s another demon around the next corner. I’ll have to do everything. Who will check to be sure I don’t burn down the house? On second thought, that might be a mercifully brief way to end the pain.

On third thought, I think I’ll stick around. I’m beginning to see our times together here in the Fortress of Attitude as like those black and white episodic shows I saw on Saturday morning at the movie theater when I was a kid. Each episode ended with a cliff-hanger. The plot moves forward slower than an old lady on a walker in a rain storm. The hero walks into ambushes. The helpless heroine gets into trouble and has to be rescued. Repeatedly. Her father, the scientist, can save us all. But the bad guys get to Daddy and drug him and he doesn’t make any sense. Taken thusly, this happy home isn’t such a bad place to stick around, even in the dark.