I am struggling.
It hit me like a ton of bricks on November 1 and I haven't snapped out of it yet.
Contributing to my general sense of blechhk is the way at this time of year, we have so much darkness.
And turning the clocks back didn't help,
(I was in the line up at Safeway on Sunday, waiting for my turn to pay and listening in on the conversation between the fellow in front of me (late 40's) and the clerk (male 17 year old);
"And, it got so dark so early tonight," said the customer.
"I know!" agreed the clerk.
"We even turned the clocks back to get more daylight, and look what happens!" exclaimed the customer.
"No kidding," said the clerk.
"I was outside, pressure washing, figuring it would be light til 7 now that we turned the clocks back, but it was dark at 5! What's with that? Why bother with the clocks if we're going to lose daylight?"
I stopped listening.
For some reason this man had lived 40 some odd years and never figured out daylight savings or that in November and December we head towards the shortest day of the year.
How can a person never figure that out?
I, have figured it out. My internal calendar sees that shortest day of the year looming and can hardly wait to get to the other side of it. So. Much. Darkness.)
All five lightbulbs burned out in the fixture above my kitchen table.
All three lamps in my living room had burnt out bulbs.
Both lamps in my bedroom had burnt out bulbs as well.
And four bulbs ( 2 in the upstairs hallway, 2 in the downstairs hallway) all burnt out too.
And they all burnt out in the past three weeks.
WHAT ARE THE CHANCES?
So I bought more bulbs.
And swapped in a new one for the old in the lamp behind the couch in the living room. The new bulb did not bring light into the room. My lamp is broken?
I unscrewed the new bulb and put it into the lamp on the end table. That lamp didn't shed any light either. Another broken lamp?
What the heck?
I unscrewed the bulb and put it in the third lamp, behind the chair near the dining room. That lamp? Didn't work either.
How lucky am I?
All three lamps - broken. Cheap Ikea crap.
Although I HAVE had the lamps for years...
Maybe it was the breaker?
Nope. That was all good.
Maybe the lamps weren't plugged all the way in?
Nope. That was fine.
Crap. I was going to have to buy new lamps.
I took the package of new bulbs upstairs and put the new bulb into the lamp on my night table.
The lamp? Didn't cast a warm glow about the room.
It too was broken?
Maybe it was the bulb?
Maybe none of the lamps could handle 60 watt bulbs? Maybe I was supposed to use 40's?
But 40's are dumb. Too dull to read under.
And they don't brighten a room.
They are the depressing bulbs.
I unscrewed the new bulb and tried it in the lamp on my dresser.
That lamp wasn't working either.
All six lamps packed it in at the same time.
My luck just sucks.
and then I tried a different bulb in the package.
MAYBE THE PROBLEM WAS THE NEW BULB.
And it worked.
The first bulb out of the box, the one that I used over and over again, was faulty.
How about that?
I replaced all the burnt out bulbs this week and when I'm home? Have every single light in the house ON by 5 pm. Because I know.
I know we are heading into a season of darkness and I won't have it, you hear me? I will not have it.
One a hunch, hoping that the measures I took in August to fix my crawlspace issues actually did the trick, but knowing in my heart otherwise, I hired my friend Mark, the Yellow Van Handy Man, to pop over and look in my crawlspace to confirm that there was no water in my nether regions.
He was unable to make that confirmation. His exact words, "Uh, Jane? I've got some bad news ..."
So I called my brother.
Who came over right away.
And then I called Mr. Rooter, who came over and using the latest in technology, snaked a camera through my perimeter drains. We watched the LIVE ACTION on his portable monitor. It Was Fascinating. And a little bit embarrassing. I mean, he's got a camera. And he's looking at places not usually seen by the average person. And he has an opinion on the way I've been caring for those systems that are supposed to carry storm water to the street.
Unfortunately, there was a design flaw when my original perimeter drains/gutter system was installed twenty years ago. OF COURSE THERE WAS. Don't you watch Love it Or List It? Every single time the LOVE IT gal (Hilary) makes renovation plans she encounters An Issue which costs Alot Of Money and adds drama to the show.
So my drama-free life clearly needed An Issue to keep viewers on the edge of their seats and continue watching. Ratings are down.
There was no rain on Monday. And Wednesday? Today? There was also no rain. But on the day that Jim and Bruce were working on my gutters and drains? It absolutely POURED with gusto. The heavens opened and gushed. If I was directing the show, I would have made it rain too. It builds suspense and adds an element of danger.
(In case you're wondering what the problem is, I can tell you this; two of my downpipes (from the gutters) are not connected to the perimeter drains under the sidewalk on the west side of my house. The downpipes disappear into the ground, leaving the water to seep into the soil and into my crawlspace. We (and by 'we' I mean 'Jim') redirected the water from those two downspouts - one jumps over to my garage roof (where the downpipes work beautifully) and the other has a splash pad at the base, scootching the water across the sidewalk and into the garden where the natural slope of the land, will drain the water away from my house. )
Of course, we are not certain this is going to work. Drew has been placed in charge of monitoring the water situation in the crawlspace, ascertaining if it's levels rise with the next rainfall or not.
Which makes this a great show. It's nailbiter. Will the splash pads work? Will the garage roof gutter and drains be able to handle the added volume? How will this story end? How?
I am still unemployed. I had another interview on Monday, and it went as well as the others have. And like the others, I was told it's down to me and one other applicant.
Ooooooh, will she or won't she get the job? The suspense. It's a killer. Whoever is writing my story is brilliant at building tension.
The longer this drags out though? The less capable I feel. I don't even know if I remember how to format a letter. Or send a compelling email. I suck.
I filled out my Employment Insurance report last Saturday and very honestly reported that I was out of the country for one week and unable to work. This set off a million red flags on their online reporting site and my report was not accepted. I was advised to call the office as soon as possible. Which I have tried to do every single day. And Every Single Time I call, I get a recording, "we are experiencing a high volume of calls at this time and are unable to connect your call. Please try again."
Seriously? I've called dozens of times each day, and I get the same recording.
Oooh. Here we go with the whole tension building thing again - will she get a job? Will it pay enough? WHAT IS ENOUGH? In the meantime, will she continue to get EI benefits? Or has her file ended up in redtape hell? Tune in next week for the answers to these and other mysteries.
And this is beyond stupid, but one of the things that is driving me nuts/making me insane/chafing my chaps is this whole garbage thing. Seriously. WHAT the heck? Why can't I just figure out a system that works for me? It shouldn't be that hard.
It really shouldn't.
But I have a feeling that I will not get a handle on this until I buy new garbage cans. Ones with lids.
I've been stalling.
In the past, I wouldn't have much organic garbage because I would squeeze most of it down my kitchen sink drain via the garburater. But last month I finally called Mark, my Yellow Van Handyman to fix the leak under the sink. And he told me my garburater had a faulty seal. And he recommended I either replace it (which would cost hundreds of dollars) or just remove it (which would cost considerable less). Seeing I am still without a reliable source of income, I told him to just remove it. I have regretted that decision every single second since.
I've been saving 'organic garbage' in my garage fridge's freezer. And putting it into a can at the curb on the morning of pickup. But the freezer was full. And the stuff in the fridge was getting mouldy. So I bought some of those specialized paper bags, specifically for kitchen scraps and kept it in the garage in a lidless can. But it was starting to smell. Especially since two Wednesdays ago I was in Palm Springs and obviously didn't take the garbage out. And then last Wednesday I was at Val's 50th birthday dinner and when I got home, I didn't feel like dealing with all that crap so ... well you get the idea.
Drew moved back home on November 1, and it was embarrassing having such a smelly garage so I moved everything outside. The cans-without-lids got temporary lids (pieces of wood with recycling containers on top) and that was that.
And then this morning, there at my front door, was my organic garbage can. Tipped over, with organic garbage strewn all over the sidewalk, was my kitchen garbage. Some rodent, or small bear, dragged it across the driveway, along the sidewalk, and tipped it over at my front door. Not only was the can heavy - I had a recycling box filled with three weeks worth of newspapers and flyers ON TOP OF IT. And that was not enough of a deterrent.
So I cleaned it all up, moved the can back to the other side of the driveway, put a twenty pound piece of wood on top of it, and the newspaper recycling box on top of that.
And tonight? I went outside to add a few more items to my recycling box and what do you think? My organic garage? ALL OVER MY DRIVEWAY. With FIVE raccoons rummaging through it. And not in the least bit worried when I started screaming like a banshee. They just looked at me and said with their eyes, "hey, we got here first. Go find your own supper."
So I cleaned it up again. All the while banging two pieces of discarded aluminium downpipes together making enough noise to annoy my neighbours and keep the rodents out of my space. Some of these food-stuffs are weeks old. And decaying. Like, decomposing. And ugly. And gross. And none of this was helping my frame of mind by the way just in case you were wondering.
Tomorrow I will buy all new garage cans. And my first purchase after I am employed will be a garburater. Mark my words. Let me tell you me.
Is mostly the same.
Visiting him doesn't get any easier or any funner.
It just is what it is.
His eating habits are challenging.
I bought a Braun hand mixer to keep in his room for margaritas and to puree homemade foods for him. I'm just kidding about the margaritas.
Last night I brought a can of Campbell's Tomato Soup. The kitchenette in his neighbourhood doesn't have a can opener so I had to go down 3 floors to the kitchen. "Is this for Mr. Klassen?" the cook asked.
My dad. The PICKIEST eater in the entire building. The only person who has his wife and daughters bringing in food for him. I've never met the cook, but was impressed that she knew exactly who the soup was for.
So I brought the open can back upstairs and looked for a bowl in the kitchenette. There wasn't one. "Can't you just use a mug?" the server asked.
One quarter of the can fit in the mug.
"Could I have a few tablespoons of diced chicken?" I asked.
"Your dad can't eat that..." she says.
"I'm going to puree it, I have a mixer in his room."
She scoops a few tablespoons of chicken into the mug, and I pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds.
My dad is losing patience at the table.
He's rolling himself away.
"Just a sec, dad. OK? I'll be back in a sec."
I run to his room, and IN HIS BATHROOM, where I've got the mixer plugged in, I puree the chicken and tomato soup. There is very little volume as the mug is so small, but I get most of the chicken chunks pureed. Doing this in his bathroom seems all kinds of wrong. On so many levels.
I run back to the dining room and say, "Ooooh, yum. This is goood soup."
I put a spoonful up to my lips to confirm it isn't too hot, and well, that is not a problem. It is now cold.
I smile broadly as I bring the spoon to my dad's lips and he opens up hesitantly.
As soon as he gets a teaspoonful on his lips he screws up his face and spits it out. LITERALLY spits it out. On me, on the table.
So I go get a V8 Juice box (that mom brought earlier) and squeeze the contents into a plastic cup. He watches me do this. He likes V8. I add thickener and stir it til it's the consistency of almost-set jello.
He opens wide and nods as the flavours settle on his tongue.
I feed him the whole glass, one small teaspoonful at a time.
The remaining V8 that's still in the box? I squirt into the tomato soup/chicken mixture. He sees me squeeze the juice into the mug, and ends up eagerly eating all the soup.
Yay. I won. I got that soup into him.
For dessert, the kitchen staff brings him a tiny bowl of pureed mixed fruit.
He shakes his head. "I don't care for that," he says refusing to even open his mouth for me. I set it aside.
I thickened a glass of Bolthouse Mango juice for him. Which he loves. And added the pureed mixed fruit to it.
He ate it like a boss.
Yay. I won again.
He saw the other residents getting a scoop of ice cream for dessert, so he hollered to the server, "I'll take one of those. I like ice cream." She came over to me and explained that ice cream was not on his list of allowable foods. "I'll thicken it," I promised. So she gave us a bowl.
Jenn, dad's favorite care aid, came by with a small serving of butterscotch pudding. "I know he likes this, so I saved one for him."
So, one and a half hours later, he was fed. It's exhausting, being all cunning and sneaky. And it's exhausting listening to him choke and gag every fifth spoonful. He is a LOUD, BOOMING choker. You can hear him in the hallway, through two walls when he gets started. It's unsettling and non-appetizing to be eating when your table mate is horking with much volume. Unfortunately, he has no sense of covering his mouth with his hand or a napkin when he coughs and gags. So it's kinda gross.
I am thankful for his tablemates, Doug and Rino, who are accepting of dad's non-existent table manners.
After dinner he just wants to go to his room, and like a broken record he says, "Put me to bed."
The care aids know his routine, and as soon as they finish with their meal chores, he is the second one on their list to put to bed.
While we wait for them, he tells me, "I like to sleep upstairs with my wife."
"I should go upstairs to sleep with my wife."
"My wife and I sleep upstairs. Take me there."
"Can you take me upstairs, I want to sleep with my wife."
Sometimes he cries when he says this. Sometimes he moans and yells when he says this.
Every single time he says these words, my heart breaks for him and I cry. He is confused. And all he wants is to go home to be with his wife. Especially at night time, for that's when he would go upstairs to bed.
He sleeps in his clothes these days. He won't let them change him into night-wear. And he insists on wearing his shoes to bed. And he wants his teeth in his mouth.
I tell his care aids it's no big deal. Change him into fresh clothes in the morning. We are never going to get him into pajamas. And if it comforts him to have his shoes/slippers on through the night? So be it.
Once they've settled him into bed, I sit beside him and watch a movie. And it's usually at this point that he is 1. either super tired and he tells me to go, or 2. he feels like talking. (And by talking, I mean, he feels like sharing all the information he knows.)
So often I listen to him list, with very slurred speech, the names of all his friends who have died.
The names of the pets he remembers. The things he did when he was 17. And every other sentence he asks, "Where's my wife? Where's Billie?"
I don't think the talking settles him at all. So before I leave I put my hand on his chest and pray out loud for him. Then I kiss him on his forehead, tell him I love him, turn the overhead fluorescent light off, and turn down the volume of the movie that's playing (almost always Spartacus) and blow him a kiss from the doorway.
I say good bye to Mabel, and Sally, and Doug, and Rino, and Len, and whoever else is wandering the hallways looking lost and lonely and head out to my truck where I sit and cry. I usually cry for about half the drive home, trying to pull myself together by the time I get to Langley.
It's been 8 months. And it's not getting easier.
The last thing that is on my mind these days?
I have a cystophy scheduled for Friday afternoon.
It is a procedure eerily similar to the snaking camera thing done on my perimeter drains on Monday. Only instead of checking the way my house deals with storm water, my bladder will be checked to see how it deals with, well, pee. Fun times.
I'm told it's not painful, just uncomfortable. Which is what they say about pap smears and I can tell you this, I have not had one pap smear that I'd describe as uncomfortable. They hurt like hell, man. And this can't be any easier. Considering. Well, considering everything. My legs have been clinched shut since two months ago when the appointment was made. She's going to need a crane and a crowbar to gain access.
Seriously, this would be better for everyone concerned if I was just given some knock-out drugs.
Speaking of pap smears and woman stuff, (I am assuming that any male reading this has long since given up hope on being entertained by my words today) PMS is a bitch when one is entering peri-menopause. Whoa. Any and all symptoms are multiplied times 100. I have PMS-on-steroids. This emotional mopiness has got to stop. And so does the rain.
Drew and I walked through a condo/apartment show room this week.
Brand new. Penthouse. With a deck and a loft. Top of the line finishing. (Granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, two parking spots, storage space ...) The biggest one on the market.
It was 1500 square feet on two levels and I could hardly breathe it felt so claustrophobic.
The kitchen, while gorgeous, is a one person U-shaped kitchen.
The eating area is large enough for a small square table that seats 4.
The 'great room' layout would fit furniture that seats 4 - 6 people max.
There is no craft room. No dining room. No office. No laundry room.
Just two bedrooms and two bathrooms.
I was hoping I'd fall in love with the whole penthouse set up, but I didn't.
I'm 51. Am I going to need to downsize to THAT already? I was thinking I would live in another house til I'm 65, and THEN downsize to a condo.
My kids, kids-in-law, grandkids, etc, would never fit.
But owning/maintaining a house is expensive. And I don't know how much I'm going to earn. So maybe all I'll be able to afford is a condo. And my life would be so different. And I don't know.
I don't know.
I sure am counting on God having some sort of good plan.
Because I don't know.
Things I am thankful for:
1. This afternoon, while the sun was peaking out from behind the clouds, I drove to the beach. I needed to be in an open space where there was blue sky. I sat in my dad's pick up truck (Max is still driving mine) and read my Bible and prayed.
2. I am thankful for technology and for things like snaking cameras. For houses and bodies.
3. I am thankful that Drew moved back. Not sure how long he'll be here (his dad is in Hawaii), but I love having him around.
4. I am thankful for a quick conversation I had with Max on the phone today. Unexpectedly, in the middle of our conversation about an oil and lube for my truck, he said, "I love you, mom." And whoa. That? Was music.
5. I am thankful for my mom.
6. I am thankful for my camera. And my house, as broken as it is.
7. I am thankful for online sermons.
8. I am thankful for US elections. So thankful our neighbours are a democracy.
9. I am thankful for Clint's business partners.
10. I am thankful for good memories. (I just posted some pics of Max and my Europe 2005 trip here.)