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.