Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Weekend to Remember

A Photo Essay

How I feel after this weekend:
(All limp and dried out)

This weekend's activity was:

(Moving my aunt to the retirement home)

The really draining thing about the weekend was not the physical labor, but the emotional drama of it all.  You'd think after 70 years, siblings would have put their rivalry behind them, but no.  That is all I am able to say about that in this space.

And here is what ended up at our house, for the foreseeable future:
(several boxes of cut glass, including 14 salt dishes; 2 boxes of LP records; a full set of china, except for the teacups, most of which broke a long time ago; random papers; old photos; a corner curio cabinet, and one cuckoo clock)

The corner cabinet is inside the green bubble wrap.  I agreed to take it before I knew that one leg was broken off.  Sigh.  And who on earth owns 14 salt dishes?  Does anybody even use salt dishes any more?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Common Household Proverb: Instructions from the Almighty

Thus saith the Lord to the Common Household Mom (Parsha Lech Lecha):

Arise and go, go forth to a bathroom that I will show you.  Turn neither to the right or the left, to facebook or to blogs, but get you hence and clean the bathroom.  Lo, you shall be sure to clean the shower stall and the sink and the toilet and the floor; neither shall you neglect to shake out the bathroom rugs.  I am the Lord.

These are the regulations concerning defiling molds and mildews in the shower stall, for pronouncing them clean or unclean.  Verily I say to you, without even looking at it, I declare the shower stall to be unclean.  You shall open the window for ventilation and shout “Unclean!  Unclean!” Then you shall proceed to scrub the shower stall with noxious substances, for you are a stubborn and rebellious generation who refused to clean the shower stall last week.

And you shall curse the ground you walk on, for you disobeyed my commandment, and decided to clean the bathroom in bare feet.  When you become filled with a spirit of wisdom, and finally put on protective footwear, beware of turning to evil. Do not put on the footwear that has previously been used for gardening. For lo, you lack sense and show everyone how stupid you are, that you would track additional dirt onto the bathroom floor.

Now that you have washed and made the bathroom clean, my wrath against you has subsided.  And lo, you may rest after your labors, and write a blog post, and consume cookies until the end of the age, or dinner, whichever comes first.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

How I Spend 100% of My Time: Feb 2012

Earlier this month I had this conversation with my husband:

Husband:  Today I spent most of the workday making graphs for my paper.

Me:  I’m thinking of making a graph. It will be called “How I Spend 100% of My Time.”

Husband:  But you’re a mother...you have to spend 110% of your time.

Me: Are you kidding?! I think I spent 120% of my time already, and I am not spending any more.

I first saw this graph theme (is it a meme?  Or maybe since it’s a graph, a greme?) at the Suburban Matron’s blogHer charts are better than mine because she has a PhD.  Go there and check out her ‘charts and graphs’ label. 

Here’s my February 2012 edition:

Maybe sometime I will make a graph that shows what percent of time a scientist spends making graphs.

So, what are you up to? How are you spending your time?

Update: apparently it DOES take a PhD to put a graph onto a blog.  Once I saw my failure at putting the graph on here, I had to ask my husband for help.  He has a PhD.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Mule Race

I’ve been reading Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi.  I found his description of a mule race to have an uncanny resemblance to this year’s presidential race:

There were thirteen mules in the first heat; all sorts of mules, they were; all sorts of complexions, gaits, dispositions, aspects. Some were handsome creatures, some were not; some were sleek, some hadn’t had their fur brushed lately; some were innocently gay and frisky; some were full of malice and all unrighteousness; guessing from looks, some of them thought the matter on hand was war, some thought it was a lark, the rest took it for a religious occasion.  And each mule acted according to his convictions.  The result was an absence of harmony well compensated by a conspicuous presence of variety – variety of a picturesque and entertaining sort.

The election is a topic at the high school, as we discussed recently at dinner:

Son:  We talked about the election today in history class.

Husband:  Which election?

Son:  The One Election to Rule Them All... 

I read the Mark Twain quote to my son, who astutely remarked that if it was truly to apply to this year's election, it would need some elephants in it.

The candidates do speak as if it is the One Election to Rule Them All, as if we are all heading toward Mount Doom.  I think it is just a mule race, but unlike Mark Twain's mule race, getting less entertaining by the minute.  I am looking forward to November, when it will be over.

Friday, February 10, 2012

What does it all mean?

What does it mean when you tell your daughter she will be alone in the house all morning, and she claps her hands together with glee and says, “Then I’ve got work to do!” and rushes out of the room?

What does it mean when you are driving through a tunnel, with 5,000 tons of rock above you, and water drips from the ceiling onto your car?

What does it mean when the road sign says “No Turns” and the very next road sign says “Left Lane Must Turn Left”?

What does it mean when you work for 12 hours straight to help your aunt pack for moving to a retirement home, but it hardly looks like you made a dent in the mountains of stuff?

What does it mean when your husband comes home with provisions (while you are away on your trip), bringing meatloaf, Doritos, and Ho-Hos, and your son says, “Dad, I see you’ve been to the man store!”?

* * * * *

I drove 328 miles today, home from my aunt’s house, and I’m wondering what it all means.

What do you think it all means?

I think it means it's time for bed!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Bittersweet procrastination

I have an overwhelming number and variety of things to get done this month, related either to aging relatives or children who refuse to do homework.  But I want to take the time to mention this book that I read last month: A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents and Ourselves, by Jane Gross.  2011, Alfred A. Knopf.  The author also started the NY Times blog The New Old Age.  http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/

Here are just three of the many helpful things I read in this book:

“Denial runs deep, and the odds that you are reading this book to prepare for something that hasn’t yet happened are slim, no matter how much I wish otherwise.  More than likely, you’re already in the thick of things, as I was, and have already made your share of panicky mistakes. There’s little to be gained by going back down the pointless highway of second-guessing yourself.  I, you, most of us do the best we can, just as our parents did the best they could with us when we were children, getting tons of things wrong, or just a few, some because of omission and some commission but guided, except in rare instances, by good intentions.”  P. 56

“You can judge the quality of geriatric care from hospital to hospital by how they manage dentures.” 

One of the main indicators that a person is reaching a state of dependency on others is whether she can rise from a chair without pushing off with her hands.

As soon as I read that last one, I panicked and had to try it myself.  No, I haven’t reached a state of dependency yet, it seems, but I hope and pray when my turn approaches that I’ll do something about it before I reach that point.  Today I needed to actually do some paid work, but it was a rare sunny day here, so I bagged the work and instead went for a walk in the park with Youngest Daughter.  I have not been getting any exercise.  There are some times when procrastination is just good for one’s mental health.