Saturday, July 30, 2011

Day Thirty-eight - Retreat

Away we go to a wonderful, decadent retreat!. Nothing like jumping in the car, hitting the road, and staying at a lovely, spacious hotel for the night. We had a great trip up, and we are now ensconced in our comfy room, with our giant bed, and all our techno-gadgets! Life is good!!

Day Thirty-seven - Resourcefulness

No car + Sentence Combining class = asking friends for help! My friend Sarah, who is leading the class picked me up at 7:15, and off we went! It was a smaller group today; Sarah had a few activities prepared for us (deconstructing/reconstructing sentences from famous authors), then there was plenty of time to continue work on our projects. Eight chapters done, twenty-three more to go, one month to complete it, and To Kill a Mockingbird will be finished! Grabbed a ride home with another friend, and settled in to complete laundry, get organized, and goof off!

Called the friend who is working on my car at 5:15... the fan motor responsible for cooling the engine is broken. Another fan has been ordered, but will not arrive until Monday. More opportunities to do things at home! DB picked me up for dinner; salad and pizza at our favorite restaurant. We will take off for the beach for an overnight escape tomorrow. This time, we have a hotel reservation!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Day Thirty-six - Relish

Having a student realize why calling his teacher an idiot is a social disaster...Rewarding!
Eating a wonderful lunch with colleagues after summer school....Delightful!
Having the radiator hose blow up in your car in front of the personal trainer's studio...Synchronistic!
Being approved to adopt a Golden Retriever from a rescue group...Priceless!

...It was a very good day!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day Thirty-five - Ruh Roh!

Student: Did you know that Ms. Doe isn't coming back in September?

Me: Oh, that's too bad! I like Ms. Doe!

Student: Yeah, it's because she got laid last year.

Me (choking): you mean laid off? 

Student: Laid, laid off...what's the difference...

...well, now I have to explain the difference, don't I....(sigh)

Day Thirty-four - Reform School
I love working with my summer school students. They are intelligent, genuine, funny teenagers who make me laugh, and give me plenty to think about. Some have language comprehension problems, and struggle to understand the summer reading books that they have been assigned ("Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief", "The Breadwinner", "Touching Spirit Bear"). We spend time discussing vocabulary, expressions, and inferences; they can decode the words, but the deeper meaning often eludes them.

Other students have socially based language problems, and get into difficulty because they can't filter what they say or "read the room". One student named himself "Stupid" in a turn-taking game yesterday, knowing I would use his game name when it was his turn, and having a teacher call him that somehow amused him. I opted to call him "The Lawyer" (his character), while providing him with endless opportunities to have a successful conversation with me. He ranted about how I am "always" doing that - talking about "stupid things like perspective-taking - who cares?!" I smiled at him, and he sneered back. We had a good time. As he left, he turned and said, "You know, you are not bad, for a Reform School warden..."

Monday, July 25, 2011

Day Thirty-three - Responses

More work on my sentence combining project; next class is Friday, and I do not feel prepared enough yet! I am going to create some sentences today reflecting To Kill a Mockingbird to be presented via SMARTboard. My students with language impairments respond well to the technology; they enjoy the movement and interactiveness, even as eighth graders! ...More later!

Day Thirty-two - Romance

Sundays are meant for having coffee, reading the (online) newspaper, and relaxing together. We went out to breakfast, did a little shopping, and just enjoyed each other's company. After a steak and salad dinner, followed by two episodes of "True Blood", the evening, and the weekend, were done! I enjoyed myself very much!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Day Thirty-one - Rebuffed

We had great plans for a spur-of-the-moment, beat-the-hideous-heat, overnight getaway to the beach today. I threw a few things in a bag, gathered all my technology, packed up the Grind-N-Brew, along with some Starbucks beans, and hit the road. We had a great afternoon and evening - coastal driving, outlet shopping, stopping for an internet break when we wanted - it was lovely! We had dinner at one of my favorite beach restaurants, with a view of the lighthouse right in front of us. The calamari, Cobb Salad, and the company were delightful. The waves pounding rhythmically on the shore and the fog slowly seeping in around us made for a lovely backdrop to our dinner.

Then we decided to find a place to stay for the night. We called several places at the beach, and as expected, they were full. Called eight or nine places inland, to no avail. We even called hotels in our home town, hoping for some air conditioned delight around the corner. Full! So we drove the hour home, cranked up the cranky bedroom A/C, and called it a day.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Day Thirty - Rotisserie

The heat has officially won. I was forced to install the A/C today, because it was 110 degrees in my bedroom. Yuck! Somewhere in the middle between 5 feet of snow and over 100F is where I would like the weather to be. I am going to visualize that perfect day from last week... Aahhh! Maybe Monday? More ice tea please!

Day Twenty-nine - Revive

A day after working with the Personal Trainer, I am having a "get-to-know-you" session with my abdominal muscles! I tried to convince the PT that I did not think I had any ab muscles, and if I did, they were not working well AT. ALL.! She has proven me wrong again, and the intense, almost painful sensations in my midsection are FABULOUS!! This thrills me, and lets me believe that having a toned, highly-functional midsection is possible! Whoo-hoo!!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Day Twenty-eight - Replenish

Had a fabulous/intense/butt-kicking work out with the Personal Trainer this afternoon, then it was off to restock the fridge. Grocery shopping is not my favorite thing to do - I like to stock up on my favorite items, but being surrounded by people who clearly have never been in a grocery store before, or have lost their decision making and/or mobility powers can be frustrating. Usually in New England, when a huge snowstorm is predicted, people flood into the grocery store and buy every gallon of milk and loaf of bread in sight, jamming the aisles and creating mass chaos. Alas, today was one of those days, even though it is July. The weather forecasters have predicted a three-day, intense heat wave for us starting tomorrow. I guess everyone else decided to stock up eggs...chaos... I am glad can finally head home!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Day Twenty-seven - Resurrect

My front porch wall is falling down, falling down, falling down....

The landscape contractor who did the work on my back stairs, patio, and walkway was back yesterday to look at the next potential project (been savin' up...!) - repairs to the field stone front porch, and greatly needed landscape updates. Sometimes you have to give in and say, "I just can't do this by myself!". This would be one of those times!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Day Twenty-six - Raunchy

Here I am, having a perfectly delightful time driving home from my mother's cottage, when up beside me pulls a white truck. I am paying no attention to this truck, because I am enjoying "Bust a Move" on my iPod and singing along with Young M.C. But I did notice that this truck is riding steadily beside my car even though there is plenty of room to pass, and I make the epic error of looking over at it. There we have an absolute fool holding his fingers up in a V-formation, and waggling his tongue in and out through the V. HONESTLY!  I'll bet all the ladies in his life love that little move. Oh...there are no ladies in his life? What a big shock. I stomped my foot to the floor, got ahead of him, boxed him into traffic, and slowed down to 50. Look at me now, fool!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Day Twenty- Five - Rhythmic

The days have a rhythmic pattern to them, particularly at the beach. I have gone to this beach every summer since I have been a small child. It looks exactly the same now as it did then - the same sweeping curve of sand, the same Tequila Sunrise sunsets, the same undulating waves inching up the shore. It is one of my favorite places in the world. It has hidden me, shielded me and celebrated me. I have had some of my most joyous times here, engaged in bad behavior here, and soothed my stressed and wounded soul here.

Today I was just so happy to be here again.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Day Twenty-four - Relish

Yes that is my January! Remembering the epic snows we had this past winter just makes me relish the beautiful breezes and warm weather that we are enjoying today.

I did a grocery order for my mother (curses to the grocery delivery company who will bring groceries to the town next door, but who will not travel the extra quarter of a mile to come here!). Mum is well-stocked now - she will eat well for the next three weeks until I can get back here again!

I did some walking along the beach, and had the New Nice Neighbors in for drinks. Now I am enjoying an illegal fireworks display while listening to the Drunken Noisy Neighbor from up the street sing church songs punctuated with f-bombs. Doesn't get much better than this!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Day Twenty-three - Roadworthy

Heading to the Cape today to see my mother. I had thought about renting a car, since my 2001 PT Cruiser seemed a little shaky of late. (This is not my real Cruiser...mine is a darker blue! This is an ode to the Ex - a man who loved his 57 Chevys ...unfortunately, more than he did me, which is why he is the Ex!) Anyway, I opted to get the radiator flushed in preparation for the trip. The technician said the fluids were like glue, and smelled foul. Poor car, no wonder it was running oddly! The Cruiser is delighted with this TLC, and is running much more smoothly. We had an uneventful, pleasant ride - no traffic, even on a Friday night!

Day Twenty-two - Reminisce

DB and I decided to have the SILs over for dinner, before the ladies traveled back to Nevada on Saturday. The three of them have been working feverishly at Mother's house trying to tame, organize, and donate her vast quantity of books, dolls, craft supplies and clothing. They have made remarkable progress, and are totally exhausted. I am more emotionally exhausted. With more evidence of synchronicity everywhere around me, my two final students of the day at summer school cancelled. When I returned home, basking in the extra 90 minutes, my personal trainer messaged me to say that she had double-booked my make-up session, and would have to reschedule! Glorious! Lots of extra time not only to get ready for dinner, but to relax for a bit. The weather was perfect today; it was the kind of day that you long for all winter, and most of the summer in New England - 70s, low humidity, blue skies, nice breeze.

We had a really nice time tonight.  DB cooked the steaks and corn I had bought. The SILs each had a nice glass of wine, which relaxed them. We finished up with wonderful strawberry shortcake. We had many laughs remembering Mother and her jokester ways. Another wonderful day!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Day Twenty-one - Reluctant

Nice day at summer school. Only small number of students. I was really struggling to go work at rehab today; it just seems too soon to be completing swallowing evaluations, when Mother wasn't able to benefit from swallowing therapy. I also know that me not working doesn't help her, or bring her back.

Thankfully, and coincidentally, the rehab manager called and told me to take some extra time to heal. I was very grateful!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Day Twenty - Recover

My colleagues were surprised to see me today, but working is good; it takes my mind off things. I had fun with my middle summer-schoolers. They are funny kids, with interesting things to say, and I enjoy them. I had planned to work at my rehab facility this evening, but it was 100 degrees and I knew the building would be oppressive. I hadn't dealt with my post-funeral funk, so I knew staying home and taking a nap would be the way to go, and that's what I did. I will work tomorrow. Recovery tonight!

Day Nineteen - Reflect

We had a wake for Mother this afternoon. The SILs did a nice job with her outfit, and with a collage showing all the events in her life. Many neighbors, friends, and relatives  made the trek to the funeral home to pay their respects. There was lots of sadness and emotion, but the Lady is in a good place now. She lived her life on her terms, and I admire her for that. She may have had some regrets, but as she shared with me Wednesday night, she had let go of all animosity that she had been carrying around (possibly towards me...younger SIL told me Mother had some degree of jealousy about DB and my relationship...who knew?!).  We had a lovely meal together when everything was over, and had some good laughter remembering Mother. And now, to quote her favorite expression, "Life goes on!".

Monday, July 11, 2011

Day Eighteen - Reshape

Dearly Beloved is handling Mother's final needs well. He is a rock, and a rock star. The wake is set, the clothing is selected, the flowers are ordered, and phone calls have been made. I am there when he needs me, and I step away when he needs time alone.

Mother's yard is surrounded by a boxwood hedge - long, tall, endless, out of control, and very much in need of TLC. Since there really wasn't very much else I could do for her, I trimmed her hedge. I contributed, I got exercise, DB and SILs were grateful, and Mother would be happy. All in all, a good day.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Day Seventeen - Remember

Mother passed this morning. We were with her. We love her and we will miss her.

Day Sixteen - Response

Sisters-in-law are falling apart. Dearly Beloved is a pillar of strength. Insurance company wants to move her to another facility, even though that would be grossly inhumane. DB lobbed some major responses back at them. By the end of Friday, Mother was still in her room in the hospital. Tonight she spoke to my DB, and asked him where she was. She knows we are around! He was there to reassure her, and make her comfortable. He is a wonderful man, and my hero!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Day Fifteen - Receive

It has been another long day. In respect for her wishes, extreme measures will not be provided. She is receiving pain medication, and Dearly Beloved and SIL2 take turns being with her, so she is not afraid or alone. Her breathing has become more labored as the evening progressed. She will go when she is ready.

Day Fourteen - Rough

Rough day. Summer school in the morning. Afternoon and evening at the hospital. Mother has taken a downward turn. I don't think she will be with us much longer.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Day Thirteen - Report

Doctor, Doctor, gimme the news...

It was a Doctorpalooza day. Mother was not doing well. She failed her swallowing test; she has no swallow reflex at this time. I talked to the SLP who was evaluating her; she will try again tomorrow to see if she has improved. Nursing reported she is not doing well; the doctor has called for a family meeting to discuss Mother's final wishes. Dearly Beloved and I planned to attend, and fill in his west-coast siblings later on.

When we arrived at the hospital, Mother was like a different person! She was telling slightly confused stories, but there was no facial droop, and her speech was not slurred! The doctor was blown away, and decided he had to change his meeting plan. Instead of planning for her imminent demise, we discussed rehab, and the possibility of a short-term feeding tube if her swallowing problems continued. Things are looking brighter!

The other doctor event...remember that bloodwork I had done? The doctor's office called to discuss it, which in my book is never a good sign. They told me that I have an abnormally underactive thyroid, and that I had to start taking medication for it, which I will take for the rest of my life. Rather mind-blowing! I am happy it is not heart disease, or diabetes, any other horrid thing, but this is the first long-term medicine I have had to take. Bummer.

Maybe this will lead to magical, permanent weight loss!  Surrender....!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Day Twelve - Ride

Dearly Beloved arrived at the cottage yesterday afternoon. We spent a nice afternoon and evening together, and today we drove home. Mother is fair at best. She is seeing a neurologist today, and will have a speech/swallow evaluation tomorrow. She is in good spirits, but cannot swallow. Most definitely had a stroke...some drooping in her right side, some slurring in her speech. We will see what tomorrow brings.

Happy Independence Day, America the Beautiful!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Day Eleven - Retreat

Dearly Beloved planned to be here yesterday evening. Alas, plans often go awry! His fiesty, determined mother (age 89) was suddenly unable to stand up or keep her balance Friday evening at around midnight. Ambulance was called. Mother was lugged off to the hospital. After many hours, CT scans, blood work, etc., hospital said, "Good news! It wasn't a stroke. We think it is an inner ear thing, and we will give her some medicine. You can take her home now!"  DB replied, "Great! Let's see her get up and walk with just my help." A walker was brought in. Mother fell out of the bed that she thinks is leaning at a 90 degree angle, and was caught by hospital staff. Three people helping could not help her walk. She stayed in the hospital overnight, and was transferred to a rehab yesterday. At the rehab, they discover that she cannot swallow. ANYTHING. This is new; this lady eats like a lumberjack, as long as you make it for her. So Mother has been shipped back to the hospital for a Modified Barium Swallow, where a speech-language pathologist and radiologist ask you to swallow barium-laced  foods and liquids of different consistencies, while taking an X-ray/video to see what you can safely eat. My speech-language pathology brain is in high gear now - if she did not have a stroke, why the sudden inability to swallow? I will patiently wait for the results, and then ask all my questions.

Poor Dearly Beloved - he is exhausted. I hope to see him soon.

Day Ten - Repeat

Yesterday was so good, I thought I'd do it again today!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Day Nine - Relax

Today was a relaxation day - that is, once I got back to sleep after an entirely too cheerful bird started serenading me at 4:12 a.m. He should be very thankful I did not have the capability of putting my fingers around his little feathered neck... In reality, I was more annoyed that I had left my bag with the earplugs in it downstairs. I traipsed down at 4:13 (because I am so patient), grabbed the earplugs, and hit the rack. A walk at 7:00 was out of the question.

Once I was up, with a large quantity of caffeine coursing through my veins, the day looked much brighter. I wandered along the ocean, read some of my book, monitored the Verizon guy as he installed My Precious wireless modem, then did troubleshooting later in the evening when it DID. NOT. WORK. All is good now. I am snuggled up to my own personal wireless, instead of skulking around the neighborhood searching for an unsuspecting, unsecured wifi to connect with...