Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hoping for Some Wine (did I say that?)

So a friend has suggested a book club. Having read thousands of books in my time, and all of them while alone at that, the idea of a book club fascinates.

I'm aware I'll still read them alone. But now, apparently, upon entering the "book club" status, I will be able to discuss said books with others. Very cool. Which further means, I will no longer have to cogitate and analyse said books all by my lonesome.

Uber cool!

Did I mention we'll also (apparently) drink wine? Not that that motivates me at all.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Just a Typical Day (Part 2)

My "home office" used to be in the corner of our kitchen. The problem with that location is obvious: once my family came home from school and work, I had no privacy to continue working.

Since Pepper came to live with us, we moved the computer and desk to the upstairs landing at the top of the stairs. The four bedrooms and a bathroom lead off this landing. Obviously, the problem remains: there is no privacy and when everyone gets home at the end of the day, I can't continue to work due to noise, pestering, etc.

However, this location also has another problem: whereas before, in the kitchen, I could work away all day with the only interruptions coming from my mother after she arose (anywhere between 11:30am  and 2pm is her usual range), now that I'm sitting in the hallway right outside her bedroom door, I can't work at all.

That's because she snores like a moose. The decibels are frightening. I seriously CANNOT concentrate.

This is my life.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Just a Typical Day

So the phone rang the other day. I find that a lot of trouble starts that way. Especially lately.


It was the "retirement residence" where Doris is currently locked up. I watched Anthony's face as he listened to the voice on the other end. Immediately, I knew it was going to be one of those days.

Finally, Anthony told the caller that they didn't need to do anything, and as a matter of fact, that they had no authority to speak on that particular topic.

He put the phone down, and started to rant.

Seems his welfare-collecting, con-artist, weasel of a brother John had finally made his way to the place where their mother was now living. He had never once gone to visit her since Anthony placed her in the residence a few months back. But he'd magically found his way there on that day. However, not to visit.

No. He wanted the administrator of the residence to sign a letter to the effect that he, Weasel-John, had been unable to fulfill his community-service sentence due to the fact that he, Weasel-John, HAD BEEN TAKING CARE OF HIS ALZHEIMER'S-RIDDEN MOTHER.

OK, let's review.

Doris had two sons. One, John the Con, the elder, is your typical free-loading, irresponsible, criminal-type psycho, who thinks the world owes him a living plus change.

The second son is Anthony, who is your typical hard-working, tax-paying, responsible-type salt-of-the-earth guy, who has never asked anyone for help his entire life. 

You couldn't find two more opposite brothers. It's bizarre, and I'm not the first person who's asked Anthony if he just maybe was adopted? 

Anyhow. Figure the looks on our faces when we got this call. We (1) had no clue that John had been convicted of anything recently, or that he'd been sentenced to community service hours. And (2) the freaking gall of John hitting up the residence administrator for a letter attesting to the alleged reasons why he just couldn't do the community service (poor baby) was mountainous. Mountainous, I repeat. Mountains of gall. Just picture it.

Anthony and I stared at each other. I recall sputtering.

Me: "Sputter. He managed to find his way to the residence? He is sitting in their office right now? Demanding they sign a letter saying that he's been SO HARD AT WORK TAKING CARE of DORIS, that he couldn't do his community service? You're kidding, right?"

Anthony: "Mrghlmrglmememmmmm..."


Me: "He collects welfare, works under the table when he feels like it, sells and buys drugs, and has lived with your mother for the last three years, WHILE SHE TOOK CARE OF HIM, and now he's claiming HE TOOK CARE OF HER?" 

My voice rose through this diatribe, until it hit really a rather high pitch.


Anthony: "MRGLLGMEMEMMMMEEMMMM..."

Me: "Her house is falling into the ground, and he never once picked up a hammer or a rake or anything, and she gave him money and charged no rent, and bought groceries and cooked for him, while he fraudulently collected Welfare, and every once in awhile, he'd freak out for good measure, and throw cups of hot tea at her, and smash furniture, because she wasn't handing over enough money. AND HE WANTS THEM TO ATTEST TO HOW HE TOOK SUCH INTENSE CARE OF HER THAT HE COULDN'T DO HIS COMMUNITY-SERVICE?" 

I was pretty much screaming at this point.

Anthony: "Yes." 

Steam was coming out of his ears by now. Anthony picked up the phone and called the residence back. Johnny-boy was still sitting with the administrator, harassing her to sign the letter. She was demurring, as she should, because she had no knowledge of whether or not Johnny-boy had helped his mother even one iota, which in fact he had not (see above rant). She'd never met John before that day, since Anthony was the one she'd been dealing with. Since Anthony is the one who has had to do everything for his mother since she became incapable.

Anthony got John on the line. I won't repeat the conversation word for word. But basically, Anthony wanted to know what exactly Johnny had been convicted of (uttering death threats, apparently), why he hadn't done the community service hours (because the world owes Weasel-boy a living, I already told you that), and btw, NO YOU DID NOT TAKE CARE OF OUR MOTHER, YOU HAVE NEVER TAKEN CARE OF HER, SHE WAS TAKING CARE OF YOU UNTIL THE END, AND GET THE HELL OUT OF THAT RESIDENCE AND LEAVE THEM ALONE BECAUSE NO ONE IS SIGNING ANYTHING; ESPECIALLY SOMETHING THAT IS AN OUTRIGHT LIE.

Or words to that effect.

The next couple of hours were spent on the phone. Anthony called John's lawyer. Yes, John is on welfare, yet somehow can afford his own lawyer. 

Oh, said the lawyer. We're just trying to buy your brother time. He might go to jail if he can't produce a plausible excuse as to why he didn't do the community service. What's that? You don't mind if your brother goes to jail?  You think he had lots of time to do the community service and just didn't do it, because that's how he has faced every responsibility in his life? He doesn't do what he's supposed to, then refuses to make amends? Really? But, don't you love your brother? Wouldn't it be better for you if he stayed out of jail?

Right. How, may I ask, would it be better for us if Johnny stayed out of jail?

What a world we live in.

It's been a few days since all this happened. I have no idea if Johnny got off the hook (as he always seems to) or if he's in jail as I write this. But I know what I'd prefer.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

A bit late, I know. But better late than never, no?

Christmas was the usual chaos here, what with all the shopping, cooking, baking, planning, cleaning, arranging, wrapping and general excitement.

My Christmas duties are kookier than Kookytown. Get this: I buy gifts from myself to my kids, my husband, and my mother. BTW, it was her 92nd birthday 5 days before Christmas, so I bought gifts for that too. I bought gifts to her, from me, and gifts to her on behalf of my children and husband. And I planned a surprise party (her oldest friend was visiting from Winnipeg, so I got her to swing by that afternoon, with no warning), a delightful dinner that night with all hands on deck, and bought a rather nice cake (had no time to bake one, all things considered). Oh yeah, the night before all this happened, I cleaned the house to spotless perfection. Just 'cause. Well, it needed it for Christmas, so...

But back to Christmas. So I buy gifts from me to everyone. These include: my loved ones here at home (see above); my oldest friend in Winnipeg, and her daughter (needs to be purchased a month in advance, wrapped and shipped off so as to arrive in time); my neighbors who host a wonderful party every year; someone else to whom I am a secret Santa at yet another annual party we attend; about ten people in our "inner circle" of friends that we meet for a dinner in the week leading up to Christmas (thank God hosted by someone else); and I also buy a few random gifts for unexpected occasions.  Oh yeah, also a gift for my friend and business partner; and a gift for a wonderful friend who sadly moved away to Calgary two years ago, but whom visits us every Christmas. Is that enough?

Well no, actually. I'm just getting started.

That's all from me to others. Then I really get busy.

My mother asks me to buy gifts "from her" to everyone. Just because she can't get out to shop anymore doesn't deter her. She won't give cheques. No, I have to go out and not just buy gifts to all the same people that I shop for on my own behalf, but also come up with wonderful gift ideas for them. And I do.

Then, I buy gifts for my children on behalf of Anthony. Because he is busy at work, and he doesn't really know what they want, or what size they fit, etc, etc.And, logically and of course, I buy a gift supposedly FROM Anthony to my mother, as well, because there is no way on earth he'd be able to guess her size or taste in just about anything.

And then I buy gifts ostensibly FROM my children (and my mother, but I already described that above) for Anthony, because how could a couple of kids get out to the mall to shop for Anthony when they have so much homework and after-school activities? And besides, how the heck would they have a clue what to get him?

Can you believe this?

And let's not even talk about the Christmas cards. I still send a few, because I'm a dinosaur relic throwback to the olden days. My mother, on the other hand, writes to everyone she's ever said "hello" to in her life. It's pathetic, really.  She even wants to send them to MY friends, because she met them once two years ago. She'd also like me to buy gifts for them, on her behalf, and I HAVE ACTUALLY DONE THIS ON SELECT OCCASIONS IF YOU CAN BELIEVE THAT, WHICH IS WHY I AM CURRENTLY INSANE DUE TO THE RIDICULOUS GIFT-GIVING OVERLOAD I BEAR.

But as usual, I digress. Back to the cards. I buy cards for her. She never likes the ones I choose, and then I have to go out and buy more for her. I will remind you at this point that I am a woman WHO HATES SHOPPING, WHO HATES MALLS, and WHO PARTICULARLY HATES FINICKY SHOPPERS AND  FINICKY SHOPPING. I'm clear, I think.

Last year, my mother ordered me to find "religious" cards. This of course meant reference to Jesus, Mary, God, Wise Men, etc. I duly went to several stores to find same. They don't sell religious cards in as many places as they used to.

And I found some nice ones, finally. Not too over the top, but quite sweet in their religious wishes. Nice design too.

Well, imagine my DELIGHT when my mother pulled them out this most recent December, and with a sour, mustached and crumply-lipped look, announced:

"Delia. I don't like these. They are TOO religious. Buy me some other cards that aren't."

Me: "Really. Well, last year, you specifically asked for 'religious.' And I went to about 40 stores to accommodate your desire. I take it that your desire has changed?"

Really, there was no sarcasm intended in my tone. Really.

Sally: "Well.  I don't remember that."

And that was that. Not remembering has become her catch-all response. Trouble is, it's probably true.

In any event, I have two final things to say:

(1) I have consistently drawn the line at, and solemnly declare that I have NEVER, EVER bought a gift for MYSELF, ostensibly from another person. So there. And:

(2) next year, I am NOT DOING ALL THE ABOVE.

So there ;)