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It’s been a long time…

2017 was not my best year – and I know others who struggled through it as well. So far, 2018 is much better.

As some of you may know, I am also the primary caregiver for my elderly mother. Mom just turned 83 and is in an assisted living facility nearby. She has her two elderly cats – the vet pointed out that the cats get older with every visit, so while they are old, no one knows exactly what their ages truly are.

Even though she is in a facility, she still has needs. They try to feed her, although they don’t try very hard. She is celiac, so she can’t have any gluten (wheat, rye, barley, malt). And my mother is not very assertive with the staff. She complained that she was getting very small portions and I told her that they are assuming she is a typical old lady who “eats like a bird,” so if she wants more, she will have to ask. Finally this week she had something she liked, so she asked for more and was surprised when they brought it.

Meanwhile, we shop for groceries to keep her microwave and fridge stocked with the things she likes and can eat. We also keep her supplied with cat food and treats and kitty litter. Stop by to maintain the litterboxes. And bust her out on weekends.

Last weekend, I made arrangements with my best friend, Kerri, to drag Mom to the lake. Mom is in a wheelchair, so it gets interesting. (“Interesting” is Minnesota code for “I don’t like it.”) Bless Kerri – she enlisted two younger, strong healthy friends who were willing to try to get Mom out on their pontoon boat. Figured out we could wheel her down to the public dock, and then my hubby and Kerri’s friend lifted the wheelchair over the tie-out bars and onto the deck. Once we got Mom situated, Kerri handed my hubby the sunscreen, which he promptly sprayed directly into Mom’s face and all over her glasses. Kerri stopped him, smoothed the spray over Mom’s face with her hands and cleaned up Mom’s glasses.

The highlight of the trip happened while we were tied with another pontoon at the party cove.  Kerri’s friend, Julie, saw the driver of the other boat, Mike, near the exit gate, so she ran across the deck and grabbed Mike and pulled him off the boat and into the water. The lake was somewhere between 20-30 feet deep where we were moored. And then we found out that Mike could not swim. Mike’s wife, Wendy, went ashen. Julie got behind Mike in the water and pushed him and held him up against the boat. Two other men pulled him back on deck. Julie was mortified. As she said, no one would guess that someone who spends the majority of life on the lake would not know how to swim. All’s well that ends well. His phone and wallet were in his pocket and had to be dried, and Mike is fine.

We went back to Kerri’s glamper for dinner and then took Mom home. When we asked her how her day was she replied, “It’s better than the dining hall.”

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NaNoWriMo – TGIO

Thank Goodness/Goddess/God It’s Over for another year. I started two novels and wrote a short story to complete my 50K and now I’ve got material to play with.

It’s a funny process. Writing that many words. Since my day job requires writing, it’s not really a stretch to write that many words in a month. Except that they are not all in one main document and they are not (usually) fiction. So fifty thousand words of fiction, many of them related to other words, written in my spare time, is a pretty good start on something.

The first attempt at a novel went well for a week and a half and then I lost interest in them and left them in the woods. Then I had a short story idea that came in and I sat with it for a week and it moved nicely and resolved. And I still had quite a bit of wordage left to go before the month ended. As I typed continuously waiting for the muse to come back, a second novel started working its way through to my fingers. It expanded to fill my remaining time (and word count). Now, I just need to keep it moving even though there is no longer the pressure of a deadline.

For purists, such attempts would not count, since they are not all part of the same novel. However, writing that many words in a month is not an easy task and the muse is often fickle. The whole point is to write without editing and to let it flow. So if they don’t end up in the same place in the end, who cares? I am happy to have them.

National Novel Writing Month Starts Tonight after Midnight

Excited? Yes. Scared? Yes. Can I do it? Oh, yes! I’ve done it twice before (and won), so I can certainly do it again. I have lots of material and plenty to write about. The hardest part for me is butt-in-chair-time. In November, I have an excuse to ignore that pile of laundry and the dirty kitchen floor.

For those of you who may not know, November is National Novel Writing Month. You can find more information at www.NaNoWriMo.org. The goal is to write 50,000 words between November 1st and November 30th, which is an average of 1,667 words per day.  The best part for me is turning off the internal editor and producing words at a fast pace. The words and grammar and structure can be edited later. The amazing part is what is produced when I free my mind to just let it all hang out.

Join me (and several hundred thousand of your friends around the world) and see what you can make in a month. 🙂

Ever have one of those days…

I know it’s Friday. My brain is fried.

I signed up for two websites this week and forgot to record the passwords. I’ve wracked my brain and no clue or hint has remained behind to lead me back. Normally I record them in a spreadsheet designed specifically to aid my memory. These two aren’t listed. At all.

Yesterday, after getting dressed for work, I stepped out of the bedroom and realized I’d forgotten a critical undergarment. One I never forget in normal circumstances. And one which I cannot remember ever having forgotten before in my life.

I have no excuse for these lapses. Or at least none that I like.

Aging, perimenopause, and lack of sleep are possibilities. And I do not like any of them. I’m not ready to be “old.”

A Tribute to Thomas

It must be the season of loss… So many of our loved ones seem to die in the spring time. My father in March 2010. Delilah April 2010.  Jezebel May 2011. Penny March 2013.

We lost our “baby” in March 2012.  A beautiful black and white tuxedo with soft velvet fur, named Thomas after the main character in The Aristocats – “Abraham Delacey Giuseppe Casey Thomas O’Malley, O’Malley the Alley Cat.”  We were presented with his mother, Lucy, while she was pregnant, so we were there for Thomas’ birth and held him within moments of his arrival. And we held him until his departure.

Thomas was huge by cat standards – bigger than many small dogs, with a laid-back attitude. He was talkative and affectionate. His favorite perch was the raised portion of the kitchen counter that served as his dining area. From that point he could easily reach out with one large paw to grab a passerby and pull them in for a good nose-licking. Because we held him so much and so often, we could do almost anything to him – clip his claws, rub his belly, put in eye drops, give him medicine. He tolerated everything. As you can see in the photo below, he had panda paws – white paws with black pads that were so cute, we were always messing with them.

Thomas_06Nov2010

Samson, our yellow lab mix, was always around, so Thomas had no fear of him. When he was old enough, he often played with Samson, wrestling on the floor. And Samson was delighted to have a playmate.

Thomas loved to lie down and stretch out in the middle of the floor. He wasn’t worried about being stepped on. He was too big and obvious – we always knew where he was.

At bedtime he stretched out full length along my or my husband’s chest, purring. There was no mistaking that kind of weight on top of you.

In a house with pets, you never do anything alone. There is no point in closing the door, because they will either open it or nag until you open it. Thomas had an unusual trick for anyone using the toilet. While they were seated, with their pants around their lower legs, Thomas would crawl in and make a nest between their ankles, purring loudly. Many times I simply abandoned my trousers when I was done and retrieved them later once he had moved on.

Thomas and his mother, Lucy, remained close throughout their lives although he was easily more than twice her size. They also sparred and one time Lucy nearly killed Thomas when she got a claw deep into his side. I came home late on a Friday night  to find him hot and listless on the downstairs couch. Luckily our veterinarian office had emergency services. We took him to the vet and Thomas got a bolus of subcutaneous fluid and an injection of antibiotics. Within a couple days he was himself again, although it took a bit longer for the huge cyst in his side to go away. We started trimming Lucy’s claws more regularly.

Thomas and Lucy_13Mar2011

As of April 2012, Lucy is still with us, although occasionally we still hear her searching for her son, Thomas. And we understand, because we miss him, too.