Friday, August 16, 2013

Seven Quick Takes #21


Caring for both Boo and my Mother has proven to be quite a task...a task I love and for which I'm grateful, but a task nonetheless. Recently, Mother and I had to have a few discussions on wants vs. needs.

One day I received an urgent phone call from Mom. “I need you right now!” So, I dropped everything and ran across our backyards, unlocked her door and rushed to her side. “I need a piece of Key Lime Pie.” Ummm...Key Lime Pie does not constitute an emergency.

The following day I received another phone call. “I need you right now.” Slightly wiser now, I questioned her. She'd been shopping with a friend and had some nonperishables that needed to be put away. I told her I'd help her put them away when I prepared supper.

Two hours later I received another phone call. “ I need you right now.” No explanation, but it was almost supper time. I should mention here that the words: “I'm stuck in the recliner and can't get up.” never, never came out of her mouth. So, I walked over admiring the flowers and a bird nest on the way...only to discover that she really did need me this time.

Mom had lost the control to her recliner and was half in and half out of it. She was scared to moved. And rightfully so. I had to brace the recliner with my body and slowly lower it so that it wouldn't tip over on her. We had the first of several discussions on wants vs. needs and the importance of adequate communication so that I can appropriately respond.

Has any of this made a difference? Temporarily. And for now, that's good enough.


A conversation overheard between Boo and Mother after supper one evening:

I'm going to Chesterfield tomorrow. Do you want to go with me while Kari goes off with Phyllis for a little while?”

You're going all the way to SC? They let you do that?

(It's only 15 miles away and, yes, she's currently allowed to drive that far under certain conditions.)

Yes, I'm going and yes, they let me. Are you going or not?”

I rode with you today. You get kind of shaky.”


Can we get ice cream?”

If you want ice cream.”

Don't tell Kari. She won't let me date other women.”

I had to back out of the room and run to the living room to laugh. Does going off with your mother in law actually count as a date? (Just so you know, I ended up going with Mom and Boo because Mom was tired.)


Mom's now taking insulin (hopefully temporarily) to manage her diabetes. After years of eating what she wanted and exercising by racing through her favorite department stores (and one recent steroid shot), she now has to toe the line. At the moment she's scared enough to do it. Thank heavens!

Just before she had the steroid shot, she was supposed to keep a record of her blood sugar levels. I've fussed at her on and off for a couple of months about not checking her blood sugar. Finally, because she simply had to do so, I sat down with her and tried to get her to check it herself.

And discovered...Mom has evidently forgotten how to take her blood sugar. I'd been fussing about something she didn't remember. Talk about feeling lower than a snake's belly! I also realized that with essential tremors, she's just too shaky to stick herself. Now, I understand her refusal.

What else is she refusing to do because she doesn't remember how or can't. Mom is just stubborn enough not to tell me. So, I have to stealthily guess.

By the way, Mom is now very compliant about her diet, about letting me check her blood sugar levels and giving her insulin. Exercise, not so much. Well, OK, not at all.


Boo has determined that our home is the second floor in Mom's house. I guess that's good inasmuch as we'll be here for several more days until we know how Mom reacts to insulin and until she understands the importance of an appropriate diet and knows the symptoms of both high and low blood sugar.

Last night Boo told Mother that he and Boudreaux were going home to bed. I held my breath because home was definitely not in the picture right then. He and the cat marched right upstairs. Boo went to bed. Boudreaux caught two more mice and left them for me beside his food upstairs. (Why are there mice upstairs?)


Mom has named the upstairs bedrooms. One is the Sunshine Bedroom. It is bright and sunny. The other is the Antique Bedroom. It contains a rope bed that Mother and Daddy bought and restored years ago, an antique dresser (maybe a family heirloom?) and a tongue and groove chest. Who names the rooms in their house? Evidently my Mother does.

Boudreaux has claimed the tongue and groove chest as his own. It's in a dormer window with a cushion. He's convinced that this is his spot. If we lose him or he gets too quiet. He's generally on his chest watching the birds and washing his beautiful red fur coat or napping.


Boo and Mother are planning shrimp for dinner tonight. Mother heard that the truck stop just outside of town sells the best shrimp in town. OK, let's see, there's only one other place to eat in this town. So, it's possible that it is the best. There's not a lot of competition for the Best Shrimp in Town title.

Last Friday I baked shrimp with lemon slices, lemon butter and Italian seasoning and served it with cheese grits. I told Boo it was polenta with cheese. He was fooled about three minutes. That man hates grits. I thought all Southerners had an inborn love for grits. It appears that not all Cajuns do.


Because of Mom's increasing health issues, I've begun a home health notebook for her. I'm amazed at all that I don't know about her health. I'm also amazed at all the forms that I'm using for her regularly. Well, we are just learning about what helps control her diabetes and what makes it more difficult to control. I'm keeping a chart with her blood sugar levels and units of insulin given. This will be an ongoing chart. Right now, I'm keeping a very accurate intake sheet for Mom also. I imagine I'll only use this while we're stabilizing her blood sugar levels. She has a blood pressure and pulse chart and another chart for daily notes and exercise log (if she'll actually exercise.)

I've got to make a detailed medical history for her, a current list of medical providers, update her medication list and, oh, never mind, I'm tired just thinking about all that I need to do there. Pretty soon, I'll be updating my Home Health Notebook post with links to forms that I've found useful.

Join Jen at Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Chats on the Farmhouse Porch #11

  1. Do you have any type of air cleaner in your home?
    No, I should add one for dust and pollen, but I haven't yet. We do have a HEPA filter on the vacuum cleaner. I'm not sure just how much it really helps, but we do have that.
  2. What do you do with the spare change you accumulate in your car, purse, pockets, etc.?
    We save our change, roll it and donate it to charity. This year our main charity is Africa Mercy. We've a friend who's on a two year stint with Africa Mercy and Boo seems to remember and pray for her often.  
  3. What 's one chore you wish you never had to do again?
    I guess, ironing...which I just don't do unless I'm sewing. I dislike folding and putting away clothes though I've developed a routine and it seems to be less of a trial anymore. Dish washing is another one of those I'm-not-so-fond-of-doing chores.

    Who am I kidding? I'm not fond of house cleaning. I like a clean house. I just wish it would clean itself.
  4. Are you outgoing, quiet, shy, reserved or the life of the party?
    I tend to be quiet and reserved...until I know you. Then I'm more outgoing, although I doubt I'd ever be considered the life of the party type. I'm just me. Give me a good book or a computer with my word processing and photography programs, some peace and quiet and I can entertain myself for hours.
  5. Have you understood your parents more as you've gotten older?
    Yes indeed! Most of the time my Mother and I have a really good working relationship. Somehow growing up, we never had that. I never felt too close to her then. She thrived on being busy and doing things, especially decorating and painting. I was rather intimidated by her talent. I'd rather stay home and read or draw.

    Now, we actually have discussions...not that we often agree, but we do better understand each other. We seem to have different stances on many political, religious and educational topics. I'd never have guessed that. We are working on some projects together. I never thought we'd do that. It seems our talents compliment each other. Who knew I'd develop a new appreciation for my Mother in my mid 50's? I'm just really grateful for this time with her.

Join Patrice for more Chats on the Farmhouse Porch.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Chats on a Farmhouse Porch #10

I know it's been quite a while since I posted anything. Things have been really hectic around here and I just haven't had the time. Hopefully, with the elimination of some of Mother's medications and Boo's slightly increased willingness to “travel” to Mom's house (just across the backyard), I'll have more time to blog. Hopefully. Constantly running from our house to Mom's house is time consuming. I counted one day. From the time I woke until I went to bed, I made 23 trips back and forth. That's easing up most days. So, I have a little more time now.

  1. Have you ever baked bread from scratch?
    Yes! It's one of my favorite things to do. Kneading is a great stress reliever. Then, the smell of baking bread just can't be beat. (Well, sometimes chocolate cake or brownies could be better.) And eating warm bread fresh from the oven...heaven on earth! I promised Mom and Boo soft pretzels this week. Maybe I'm bake those on Wednesday so that Mom can take a few to her Bible study group.
  2. If we decided to have lunch on the porch, and you so kindly volunteered to fix it (thank you), what would you serve?
    I'd gladly volunteer to serve it. It's cool and drizzly here, not usual August weather for us. So, I'd choose a warm Mushroom Cloud soup, a chicken veggie salad with fresh pita bread, peach cobbler and vanilla bean ice cream with ice tea or lemonade. Lately, our peaches have been awesome. I've been freezing peach slices to add to my tea instead of ice cubes.
  3. Show us or tell us about your key chain.
    Boring! Mine is strictly utilitarian right now. It has a red clip that I can attach to my purse or belt loop. That's it. I did have an angel with a prayer on it, but Boo had a habit of holding onto it and cut his hand. How he managed that, I don't know. So, I took it off. I am making a “key chain” for Boo for his birthday next month. (He doesn't actually use keys anymore.) I'm decoupaging photos of grandchildren and Boudreaux, of course, to unused grocery and pharmacy discount cards, punching a small hole in one corner and putting them on a key ring for him. (Don't tell!)
  4. Have you ever tried a challenging or dangerous sport?
    I'm definitely not the sporty type! I've been white water rafting ONCE years ago. Never again. Do carnival or amusement park rides count? I used to ride roller coasters. One of my college roommates recently went sky diving (and wants to go again!), white water rafting, zip lining and I'm not sure what else. She's far more adventurous than I am. I'd rather travel, meet new people, see new places, learn new crafts and prepare native foods than risk life and limb.
  5. Have you ever written poetry? If not, have you ever had anyone write a poem for you?
    Well, yes, I've written poetry waaaay back in the dark ages when I was in the middle of my teen age angst. Horrible poetry, but meaningful at the time. And yes, I was the subject of several poems that my sister wrote. Terribly unflattering poems, I might add. She wrote them during her teen years as well. (Strange what you find when cleaning out boxes that your parents have stored for years.) Somewhere (OK, I know they're in one of two memento boxes.) are several poems Boo wrote to me during the years.
Join Patrice for more chats on the farmhouse porch at Everyday Rurality.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Ten Ways to Unhinge Your Sanity

I'm working on the assumption that I'm sane...or relatively so. That may be an erroneous assumption these days.

  1. Diligently attempt to unscrew and put fresh batteries in a disposable flashlight.
    Who knew they even made disposable flashlights anymore? Besides, shouldn't a disposable be clearly labeled? Wouldn't that make sense?  
  2. Try to put a slip cover on a chair without reading the directions.
    OK, this should be a simple thing, right? I've sewn slipcovers and put them on with nary a hitch. This one, the first that I've bought, is absolutely not intuitive. I had to finally read the instructions and look for the center front and center back labels...after three days of frustration. On a different note, I do like this slipcover. It just says country to me. That's what I wanted and that's what I got. Boo's take on it is a bit different. He eyes the chair suspiciously every time he's in the living room and is hesitant to sit in it. Boo, it seems, isn't a big fan of floral chairs. Oh well...
  3. Learn to play a video game rated for 4+ years old on our tablet.
    Am I smarter than a fourth grader? Not even close! Evidently four year olds have a leg up on me as well. This was supposed to be an easy way to relax. Instead, it's just one more way technology is defeating me...and the city I've been trying to save from alien invaders. I'd open peace negotiations, but the aliens are too busy bombing my poor city.
  4. Try to reason with a displaced Cajun who is convinced that the bayou is flooding.
    To begin with, North Carolina doesn't have the first bayou. We wouldn't know what they are or what to do with them. Creeks, streams, rivers...those we have in abundance, but no bayous. With all the rain we've had lately, Boo firmly believes we're in Louisiana and the levy isn't holding. I gave up trying to reason with him this evening. I just asked what he thought we should do. He thought he should go to bed. That's where he and Boudreaux are. No life jackets. No boats.
  5. Try to teach my almost 81 year old Mother to use a simple Nook.
    It's really easy. I can even do it. Not Mom. Not reliably anyway. Her fingernails are too long. She can't remember how to turn it on. She thinks it needs to find more books for her. And why can't it feel more like a book? Her nails were professionally manicured today. (Her hands shake too much for me to shape her nails.) I wrote out step by step instructions on the use of her Nook. I've downloaded additional books for her. Her Nook will feel like a Nook, however. That I can't fix. I know where I inherited my technologically challenged genes!
  6. Update Mom's phone list for her notebook.
    This is still a theoretical notebook. I haven't exactly finished it for her yet. Just updating her phone list was an ordeal. First we had to discuss everyone on said list. I now know who is in a nursing home and who should be, who is retiring and what they planning to do once they retire, who's children are doing what for them and why and whose names are on her list and have to remain there even though she can't remember who they are anymore. I had a headache when I was done. Mom does have an updated phone list now, for what it's worth.
  7. Explain why Boudreaux can't eat Spam.
    I'm not sure why I even tried. I doubt the cat would even sniff Spam, much less try to eat it. It's too salty for Boudreaux. It's made of things that we can't even pronounce. And just why do we have Spam in the first place? We don't eat it...too salty, unpronounceable ingredients, etc. Did the wicked witch of Spam pay us a visit when I wasn't paying attention?
  8. Try to schedule all the doctor's appointments Mom and Boo have in a neighboring city on the same day.
    You know, I figured we'd do it all at once. Tiring, but once it's done, it's done for several months. That was my theory. Well, Mom and Boo's neurologist has decided to give up her private practice and work in the hospital. She won't be seeing private patients. Was it something I said??? We liked her. Now, it seems that the closest neurologist that is accepting new patients is in Charlotte. I can't wait for that trip. We'll all need an evaluation...which Boo and Mom will probably pass with flying colors and I'll fail miserably. I'm scared to call the cardiologists. Mom and Boo go to different practices. What if they both close their offices?
  9. Convince a very fashion conscious woman that she must exchange her lovely sandals for shoes that offer more support and stability.
    This is a daily battle. Mom is absolutely convinced that I'll see the wisdom of allowing her to wear the beautiful sandals that she's bought to go with her wonderful, colorful summer outfits. They are beautiful. They do look lovely together. They just don't support her feet enough. Mom is less steady now than she was just a few months ago. In sandals, her feet slip and slide...which in turn, makes her slip and slide...which dramatically increases her risk of falling. I have also learned that Boo simply cannot be around when I'm explaining Mom's shoe situation to her in the morning...for his sake. Boo suggested that grandmothers should wear grandmother shoes. He made it out of the den with his skin intact...barely.
  10. Try to make an all ice cream diet healthy.
    Really, I'm not even trying this one. Mom just wants ice cream for desert after breakfast, lunch and dinner. Actually, she'd rather have ice cream than a meal. I finally told her we could have smoothies once a day with fruits and veggies instead of a meal. If looks could kill, I'd be dead. That isn't ice cream. No indeed. Instead, I make whole grain muffins or French toast or crepes with fresh fruit for one meal. Sometimes that works without complaint. Not often, but sometimes.

Sanity? Well, not in our family. I think we've taken off the hinges and I'm pretty sure we've lost the screws.  Join the fun at Top Ten Tuesday where you'll find useful top ten lists every week!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Chats on a Farmhouse Porch #9

Wendell, thank you for your kind offer of your "pool" for our chat this week.  However, with all the rain, thunder and lightening we've had this past week and a half, I'm a little leery of being too close to water.  I'll bring carrots though!

1.  Is there a friend or relative who's been on your mind a lot lately?

Yes, quite a few actually.  In fact, I've talked to several of them lately too.  Comparing notes.  Commiserating.  Working toward solutions.  Decompressing.

It seems that many of us are currently caretakers to our parents, spouses or handicapped children.  This is definitely not a complaint for any of us.  It is life changing and challenging.  It's also an unscripted area for us.  My grandmothers cared for my grandfathers.  My aunts cared for my uncles.  Somehow, it just wasn't something that was discussed.  Now, we have questions about how to "do it all."  From the outside looking in, it appears that they accomplished so much with so few resources and with no more time than we have.  Why can't we do the same?  Or are we expecting too much from ourselves? 

What we have managed is an impromptu support group.  OK, a very loose, very casual support group.  We don't have answers.  We don't have perfect solutions.  We don't even know the right questions sometimes.  We do know how to talk.  And we certainly know how to pray for each other.  We do know how to find some workable solutions.  And we know what has definitely not worked for us...or what has worked temporarily. 

And we're reconnecting.

2.  Do you sunburn?

Is the Pope Catholic?  I've always sunburned with the greatest of ease!  It's one of my best summer tricks. 

I'm a firm believer in sun block, hats, long pants (capris at least) and long sleeves.  I used to envy my friends who tanned.  Not anymore.  I'm at peace with my uber white skin.  Besides, my Mom is dealing with frequent skin cancers and that puts a whole new spin on tanning.

3.  If you were visiting my farm for a week (or week-end) would you want to cook with me, pick veggies or pull weeds with the farm crew or just feed Wendell carrots until he outgrew his horse suit?

Well, Patrice, could I do all four?  A week on a farm...what a wonderful break!  Yeah, I know that it wouldn't be a break break.  It would be different and so much fun getting to know you better...and maybe some of the wonderful chat ladies.  Maybe we could have a work party.  Is there anything in particular you need to have done that you've been avoiding?  Perhaps we could do it together!

4.  Do you like to tell jokes or hear them?

I'd far rather hear them.  Joke telling is not one of my talents.

5.  Do you wear sunglasses often?

I never wear sunglasses and don't even own any.  My glasses become darker in the sun.  Years ago when I wore contacts, I did wear sunglasses.  I guess I could get some prescription sunglasses.  I just haven't.

Join Patrice for more chats at Everyday Ruralty.  Hope your head aches have vanished this week!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Chats on the Farmhouse Porch # 8

Yep, I'm late!  Recently that seems to be the story of my life.  Schedules notwithstanding, life seems to throw plenty of curve balls lately that just don't fit into any schedule.
Here goes...

1.  When it comes to vegetables, which do you use more often---canned, frozen or fresh?

Fresh is my first choice, especially if it's homegrown.  Frozen is my back up, except for green beans.  Green beans must be fresh or canned...for some reason I just can't cook frozen green beans.  They taste awful.  I just don't have time for a real garden this year.  I'm growing basil, parsley, lots of rosemary, chocolate mint and peppermint.  I've got two tomato seedlings that are struggling and a pepper seedling that may survive.  Between Boo and Mom, there is no gardening time.

2.  Do you sew?

YES!!!  I love to sew.  However, like gardening, sewing is definitely on the back burner right now.  I have a chair that needs to be slip covered.  I'd enjoy doing it, but when???  After Boo's second stroke, I sewed several "manly" hospital gowns that covered a bit more than the average gown covered.  I also made gown type tops and scrub bottoms for him.  They offered a little more dignity and made him feel more comfortable.  The tops worked well with IVs, heart monitoring equipment, etc.  I really should make another batch for Boo and a batch for Mom. 

3.  Do you have a common fear?

Snakes and spiders!!!  I'm trying to learn to identify harmful snakes and spiders and leave the rest alone...if they leave me alone, that is.  There's a green snake in the back yard that I've seen and that's slithered across my foot and a black snake that roams in our backyard and our neighbor's yard.  I'm told it eats rats.  That's long as it keeps it's distance, I'll certainly keep mine.  Ummm...the neighborhood knows when I've seen a snake.  My screams have brought neighbors to my rescue that I didn't know.  Now that's an interesting way to meet new people.

4.  Is there anything you recommend for cutting the grocery bill?

Like Patrice, gardening and preserving the harvest is the best way I've found.   I've been using coupons for the few name brand items that we use and stocking up when I can buy items on sale and use coupons.  That amounts to only a small savings.  We seldom use name brands.   Another thing that I've found helpful is to cut out packaged and prepared foods.  I bake cakes, breads and deserts from scratch.  I bake potato chips and crackers, muffins and granola.  That's probably not a great help, but that's what I do.

5.  Tell me about something that made you happy over the past week?

Well, let's see...Monday morning Mom fell.  That didn't make me happy, of course.  I realized I was going to be about twenty minutes later than usual checking on Mom that morning because I'd just put muffins in the oven.  I called her and when I didn't get an answer, pulled the muffins out of the oven, turned the oven off, yelled to Boo that I was running to Mom's house and RAN.  By the time I'd unlocked two doors, disarmed the security system and run like a crazy woman to Mom's back hall, I was shaking and imaging the worst.  Mom was fine.  She'd fallen in the bathroom and was unable to get up with a broken arm.  She was wearing the panic button that should have alerted the security company.  It didn't work.  However, Mom was fine.  (I'd imagined her injured or dead.  Any other outcome was wonderful!) 

I called Boo to let him know.  His response:  "I know.  I prayed and I knew she was OK.  Can we have those muffins now?"  That made me happy as well.  Boo generally doesn't handle emergencies well at all.  He came through this one with flying colors!  Muffins were out however.  I did make a western omelet and sliced cantaloupe.  Boo and Mom were content.

I'd be happier if nothing that exciting happens the rest of the week!

Join Patrice at Everyday Ruralty for more chats.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Chats on the Farmhouse Porch #7

Yeah Patrice!  I finally have a little time to join the chat this week and I need a break.  I've got a glass of peach tea beside me with frozen peach slices and I'm actually sitting on our front porch where I can pick up our wireless connection.  I remember crab apple trees!  We had one in the backyard at my parent's house years ago, but they had it chopped down.  Mom says it made a huge mess and we weren't around enough to keep the apples picked up. 

1.  When you were a child what age did you think was "OLD"?

Kari:  I remember thinking my parents were old when they were in their 30's.  My first grade teacher, Mrs. Johnson, was really old.  She retired a couple of years after she taught me.  The principal at that small school gave me a choice.  I could have Mrs. Johnson or my mother in first grade.  Mrs. Johnson won!  After all, I thought I knew everything Mom knew already!

Boo:  I thought 21 was really old.  I thought that was the age you were able to do anything you wanted to do.  Sixty was another old age.  You didn't have to go to a job then.  But the oldest was 90.  That's when you were ancient.

2.  How often do you have dessert?

Kari:  Daily.  With Mom and Boo both craving sweets, we have dessert regularly.  Mom's losing weight and only wants sweets some days.  So, I've retrieved my "reasonably good for you dessert recipes."  We have French toast once a week and smoothies daily.  I make "cheesecake" with yogurt cheese, stevia and fresh fruit.  Last night we had peach cobbler made with whole wheat flour and served with homemade sugar free frozen vanilla yogurt. 

Boo:  Once every three days.  We could have dessert more often. 

3.  What's your favorite kind of exercise?

Kari:  Walking and gardening.  I don't have much time for gardening right now, but I do have time to walk.  Walking in town is so nice.  I see friends and family every time I head out.  Of course, we do live in a one stop light town...and I'm not sure we really need that one.

Boo:  Walking.  I used to enjoy golf, but I don't see well enough to play anymore.  Walking is fun around here.  I see people or we walk in the cemetery. 

4.  Do you watch movies on TV, movies from a rental or the library, or movies online?

Kari:  I'm not much of a movie person.  I tend to watch movies online when I watch them.  Rarely, I'll watch one on TV. 

Boo:  Mostly TV movies and most of those are westerns.  I don't like new movies.  At least, I don't think I do.  We haven't seen one recently in the theater...I don't like theaters.

Years ago, we took Joseph, Kari's son, to a movie.  It was a suspense movie, I think.  At one point, the good guy kissed a girl.  Joseph was eight or nine at the time and piped up and said, "Kissy, kissy, kissy."  The whole theater laughed.  Well, except for Joseph.  He slid down in his seat and ate popcorn.

5.  Tell me something you remember from your grand mother's/grand father's house?

Kari:  At my mother's parents, there was a bookcase against the wall in the den.  Since I loved to read, I was fascinated by it.  I don't think there were any children's books, but they had a great set of old encyclopedias.  A few years ago, Mom and Aunt Charlotte were discussing my grandparent's house and I asked if they remembered that bookcase.  Both of them laughed.  It seems Papa Hall built it.  His one and only carpentry project as it turned out.  He was a teacher and a farmer, but definitely not a carpenter.  The bookcase stood only because it was propped against the wall and a door frame.

Boo:  I remember the driveway at Paw Paw Guidry's house.  He lived in Church Point, Louisiana.  That's where the Guidry clan lived.  Paw Paw had a black 1937 Chevy in the driveway.  You didn't have too many color choices in those days.  A few times I got to ride in that Chevy.  That was a special treat for us. 

Join Patrice at Everyday Ruralty for more Chats on the Farmhouse Porch.