Monday, September 27, 2010

Sicktember

A few posts ago, I wrote about how September sucks.

Well, I now can go even further: it's sick.

At least, just about everyone around me is sick with a cold, that is. I hate it! Summer was just here! We were romping happily in the warm sunlight, swimming and sight-seeing and just enjoying good health and easy living.

Now this! It's simply brutal the way September descends...with its school stuff, and back-to-routine stuff, and shortening, cooling days.

My entire family is sick. Except for me. So that means I get to take care of everyone, and then, in all likelihood, become sick myself.

Not that I mind taking care of everyone. It's just that caring for sickos takes you into close proximity to the nasty virus that's causing all this misery. Damn you, virus!!!

Sicktember: great news for the makers of hand sanitizer, Kleenex and Tylenol cold medicine. Bad news for the human race.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Truth is Out!

As you all well know, my mother spent most of the summer in a seniors' "retirement residence."

It was close to 8 weeks of blissful respite for me.

But I didn't tell you about one little glitch.

Sometime around the beginning of August, I took a call from the manager at the residence. She wasted no breath, and immediately launched into the fact that my mother's stay was imminently over, and that I was of course coming to pick her up in a couple of days, yes, no?

I was a bit taken aback, because I had actually arranged for a pick-up date of August 23rd.

I informed the caller of this fact. Undaunted, she continued to inform me that my mother's stay was coming to an end, and that I needed to fetch her. But soon.

All my arguments fell on deaf ears.

This was not the agreed arrangement, I protested.

Oh yes, it was, she answered calmly back.

No, I countered between clenched teeth, AUGUST 23rd was the agreed-upon pick-up date.

"That's not right, Ms. Martin," the infuriating manager intoned. "You will come for your mother within a day or two."

I checked the contract I'd signed, which, I discovered with no small amount of horror, was rather open-ended in its language.

What now? I became relatively frantic, and phoned Anthony at work, something I rarely do.

He was as mystified as I was, but suggested an-all-out campaign of regroupment.

I began a furious round of calling to every seniors' residence in Kookytown, trying to find one with a vacancy. I had to find a spot for Sally, or the remainder of our holidays would take a decidedly unpleasant turn.

In the end, I did find another place. I picked Sally up the next day, giving the manager a frosty glare as I groaned through the lobby under the vast weight of Sally's innumerable bags and steamer-trunk-like loads of stuff.

I theorized to myself that they'd probably found a buyer for the suite occupied by my mother, and had decided to unceremoniously rid themselves of her, in favor of a permanent resident.

"Dishonourable scalawags," I muttered not too softly. The manager looked amused.

Sally kept giggling happily, telling me how delighted she was to be heading home.

I kept telling her she wasn't heading home, which she very well knew, but was pretending to misunderstand, so as to hopefully guilt me into cutting my holidays short so she could return to ruling the roost at our home.

I didn't fall for it.

Sally: "Oh, it will be so good to be home."

Me: "We aren't going home."

Sally: "What do you mean?" (eyelashes batting rapidly)

Me: "We're going to another residence. You know that. I told you. It's because they are kicking you out early for some mysterious reason. Our holidays aren't over Mom. You can't stay by yourself at the house."

Sally: "Oh." (30 seconds pass)

"Yes, it's going to be good to be home (chuckle, chuckle)."

Me: "Not home. Residence."

Sally: "Oh. But it would be so nice to go home. Let's just go home."

Me: "Oh, no."

We continued on like this until we arrived at the new residence. Kathleen and I stayed for lunch to help her settle in. The conversation continued to revolve largely around the fact that my mother was glad to be going home.

Kathleen and I eventually stopped answering her, and after lunch, led her to her room and beat a hasty retreat.

Kathleen: "Whoa. She doesn't give up. Now I know how you are able to make me feel guilty so easily."

I gritted my teeth even harder at that.

On August 23rd, I went and picked up my mother, just as planned, and we did go home. On the ride home, she elucidated her opinion about one of my friend's husbands, and his allegedly roaming hands.

We were off to a bang-up start. There was no doubt Sally was back.

A few days ago, she chirped up brightly with another story.

She was sitting placidly, chewing her muffin-cud happily, discussing the delights of Kathleen's fluffy and delicious baked treats.

"The food is so much better at home," she sighed between contented smacking sounds.

"Not only is it better than at that residence," she added, "It's so nice to be able to eat when I want."

I frowned at her. The residence had liberal dining hours. Breakfast ran from 7 to 10am, lunch from noon until 2pm, and dinner from 4 to 7pm. In between, residents had access to all the fruit and baked treats they could ever desire.

"Well, that may be true, but there were really very few hours when you couldn't eat at the residence, when you think about it," I said.

I saw my mother's nose go up in the air, and knew something other than her beak was up.

She looked grumpily out the window, proboscis waving in the atmosphere as she finished her last chew.

"Well, they sure wouldn't serve me when I went in the dining room," she announced.

I remained silent, wondering what the hell had happened.

"I'd go in at 11, and ask for breakfast. The staff were perfectly happy to accommodate me. But that bitch of a manager. She started coming in and saying the dining room was closed until noon."

My mother loves cursing. Sally pronounced her story in aggrieved tones. She looked over to me, presumably to enjoy the shared outrage I should be displaying.

"At 11?" I said. "The dining room wasn't open at 11," I sputtered. "The manager had a point."

Sally looked nonplussed at that.

"After all Mom, what if every resident started insisting on their own hours? It would cause huge problems in how they manage the dining room."

Sally was silent. She hadn't expected anything but complete support from me.

"Well," she finally added. "I didn't see why they shouldn't just make a little breakfast for me. It would have been hardly any trouble at all."

Her tone was absolutely frozen and stiff.

"After all, I was paying them to stay there."

"Yes, Mom. But so is everyone else. And everyone else was following the rules."

Silence again.

"Perhaps." Sally was enraged with me, I could tell.

She shifted her weight heavily off the chair, making ready to leave the room.

"But I still felt they should have accommodated me. I told that manager."

Pause.

"What did you say to her, Mom?" I had a bad feeling.

"I told her I didn't know I was staying in a prison." Sally looked triumphantly at me, clearly pleased at the memory of her argument with the manager.

"I told her what a horrid person she was. I told her straight out."

I let out a little groan.

Now I knew why I'd received the unexpected call from the manager at the residence. They'd had enough of Sally's prima donna routine, and wanted her out, out at any cost, out before the agreed-upon date.

Sally has that effect, wherever she goes, I've found.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Subconsciously Stolen

I read many blogs. I've also written a few of my own blogs; once-upon-a-time, I even participated in a group blog, where several members contributed posts on various topics, as the urge took them.

I recently told all you masses of my readers that I've been checking out a new blog called Martinis for Breakfast.

And I just realized that in my last post, I "stole" some wording from that blog's author. I wrote that "September sucks," which I thought was cute and original.

But as I'd just read the Martini blog, in which the author wrote about "Sucktember" (now that is much better than "September sucks", of course), it's pretty clear that my befuddled brain just lifted the words, or the concept, for my own usage, and I gleefully posted away as if I were the brilliant mind behind such descriptive alliteration.

Luckily, Ms. Martini doesn't seem to mind. She read the "September sucks" post, and then, in a truly gallant gesture, not only did she refrain from slapping my literary hands for the theft, but she even commented on the post. Nicely.

How grand!

And take note, all you masses of readers, she is the *FIRST* commenter posting on my blog. I...(sob)...am...so.......moved...

How about following her lead, all you people?

C'mon! I know you're out there!

Right?

Hello.......? :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

It's Crazy (not Kooky)

September is crazy busy, as usual. Over the past few years, since I've had school-aged kids, I've often wondered why it has to be this way.

September sucks. It's the end of easy summer living, and the return of making lunches, regimes, homework, practicing, shorter days and colder mornings, and, of course, general malaise.

Everyone is short-tempered and full of anxiety. I don't know why kids have to be full of anxiety, but that's the way it seems to go these days.

Alexander: "I didn't get froshed on the way home today!"

Kathleen: "Too bad."

Me: "That's good sweetie. Was anyone else seriously hurt or frightened or overly-froshed?"

Alex: "Yes! Nick got hit with a dozen eggs and then flour and maple syrup was dumped on him! And they say urine was in the mixture! Yah!" (Pause) "I'm scared..."

Me: "Oh. Yes, I saw that on the CBC last night."

Kathleen: "Mom! I lost the form they gave me in DPA (allegedly an acronym for Daily Physical Activity, which translates into once or twice a week)! My teacher is gonna kill me! What can I do?"

Me: "Not lose the form next time?"

Kathleen: "Argh! I...what?...I...hate..."

Me: "I will give you a note."

Alex: "YES! You will look so lame Kath!!! Notes make you lame!"

Kathleen: "Argh! Mom! I ...what? I...hate..."

Me: "OK, let me know what you want when you know what you want..."

Ad nauseum...

After the CBC froshing news report, Alexander's school Principal announced to the student masses the next day that he was "embarrassed" by the the media attention.

I thought: How about being embarrassed by the fact that young girls in grade 9 were being assaulted by MEN in cars (grade 12) driving by and pelting them with eggs and other assorted foul-smelling, unnamed, but more-or-less easily identifiable ingredients like flour and urine?

Crap. Other men that age are in the army and off getting killed in Afghanistan. Not that I approve of that either. But we're talking about a HUGE difference in maturity here. I think the Principal should work on that...and stop focusing on the fact that the CBC ran the story and he's
embarrassed about it.

If my son were in grade 12 and driving around in a car dumping shit on young kids walking down the street, I'd kick his ass. I'm just saying.

Kathleen finally found her form. But now it's late. And she's still asking me what to do. Argh!

The whole thing about the letters and forms and permission slips, etc, etc, etc, is that they don't stop coming.

All through the school year, every week, they will continue to come. Forms, forms, forms.

Forms that need reading. Forms that need reading and signing. Forms that need reading, signing and duplicating and filing.

It never ends. Oh yeah, there are also forms that need reading, signing, and returning with properly-endorsed-cheques-thank-you-very-much.

Lots of those.

September just sucks...money right out of your account, and the spirit right out of you, sometimes.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

School Daze...

School's in for Kathleen and Alexander. New schools for both of them...Alex at Kookytown High for grade 9, and Kathleen at Kookytown Middle School for grade 7.

I hope it goes reasonably well for them. I hated my high school years. Alex seems to be doing OK so far, because of, I suspect, that he's a boy. But with girls, as you may know, many of them get all catty and slutty and evil around this age. So I'm worried for Kathleen, who is not catty or slutty or evil.

At least they are all armed with information, unlike my generation.

Teens have information on everything these days.

Sex. Drugs. Bullying. STDs. More drugs. Sexual harassment. Etc. Etc.

One thing I've really noticed is that girls and boys hang out together these days, as friends.

That sure wasn't on when I was a kid.

I think it's good. Kathleen and Alex seem much more self-assured around the opposite sex than I ever was -- at least, until I got to university. And being self-assured is a good thing.

Anyway, I still emit small prayers for them as they head off into the world each morning.

Speaking of daze, Sally's been in one for the last while. She got lost on a walk yesterday and couldn't find the mailbox, which she's visited many times, and which is only a block away from our house.

She concluded they'd obviously moved it. Nothing like good old denial to keep you going.

A card came in the mail recently, advising us of the death of one of her oldest friends, at the age of 93, in Winnipeg. The friend had been confined to a "residence" for the last few years: one with locked wards, as she'd succumbed to Alzheimer's Disease and was quite wild, apparently.

Still, Sally evinced considerable surprise at news of Olga's death.

"Oh!" she mouthed at reading the card.

"I wonder what happened?"

Well, I thought to myself, what do you think happened? And why wouldn't you have long expected it?

Denial.

I set her a task yesterday. I've gotten into this habit, because she harasses me endlessly unless she's busy, and she asks to help, in any event.

So first thing upon her leisurely arising (11-ish or so), I asked if she'd make potato salad for our dinner. This task was deliberately strategic on my part; making potato salad is kind of an all day thing.

First, you boil the potatoes in their skins, then allow them to cool. Proceeding on, you dice them, adding finely chopped green onion, slivered radishes and a chopped hard-boiled egg, which must also be more-or-less cool.

Then, you mix all with sour cream and mayonnaise, add salt and pepper, and chill really thoroughly for the best result.

As I said, pretty much an all-day endeavor, especially at Sally's snail-like pace.

She happily agreed to make the salad, and then proceeded to ignore the task all day, skirting around my reminders, shuffling about and attempting other tasks she'd set for herself, and basically avoiding, forgetting-about, or misunderstanding the requirements for potato salad, all day long.

Finally, I understood that there would be no potato salad forthcoming from my mother's efforts.

So, at 5pm when our out-of-town dinner guest arrived, I was busily engaged in burning my fingers while dicing the just-cooked potatoes, and hoping that 15 minutes in the freezer would cool them enough to allow the finishing touches.

Sally settled herself comfortably with a glass of wine and monopolized my friend, whom I hadn't seen in months, while I tended to kitchen duty and quietly cursed her.

But, what should I expect? If I hadn't set her a task, she would have driven me insane with her pestering all day anyway, which would have probably disallowed any timely making of salads.

It all turned out about the same, in the end.

As my friend was leaving for the evening, I told her we'd go to a restaurant the next time she was in town.