Sonntag, Mai 24, 2009

I go home for the weekend

Actually it was last weekend.

I promised my sister, Chris, that I would go with her to Mom & Dad's whenever she came. It is hard to visit them by oneself, besides which if I went along, she wouldn't need to rent a car.

Mom and Dad were doing fine.

Mom & Dad at home

He likes to lie in bed and watch the news or CSI reruns. He comes out to visit with family, cook, and feed the dog.

Mom enjoys the cat we sent her for Christmas.

Mom and her cat

Mom and her cat 2

Mom and her cat 3

She seems to know that it is not real, but treats it as if it is.

Aunt Lela came up to visit. She had a chance to look at Dad's new handgun, The Judge.

Lela and Judge 2

Aunt Lela meets The Judge

I'm pretty sure Aunt Lela does know how to handle a gun. Before I took these pictures, Dad had just demonstrated that the chamber was empty.

  • The Rest of the Story

  • As it turned out, our visit was more business than pleasure. Mom had spent Mother's Day in the ER due to an overdose of Xanax. The doctor had told Dad that he needed either to put mom in an Alzheimer's care center, or lock up the pills.

    When Chris and I arrived on Friday, there was a large padlock on the cabinet with the twenty bottles of hydrocodone, and the lock box Ruth Ann had bought last summer but which had never been used was now locked with the Xanax in it. As the weekend progressed, more pills had to be put in the box. With the hydrocodone and Xanax out of reach, Mom began to take too many Ibuprofin, and then started looking through her other medications. When I left, she was overdosing on calcium pills. Paul recommends I send her some vitamin C. He says you can't take too many of those.

    So what's going on here? Well, my mom has been a prescription drug abuser for as long as I can remember. As a very small child, I was put to bed on Christmas Eve with half a tranquilizer. When I was a senior in high school, mom got so strung out on a series of carefully wangled medications (she had three doctors and two pharmacies involved) that I had to teach her 7th grade class for the last few weeks of school. But through it all, she was too careful actually to OD. Now senile dementia has robbed her of the ability to be sneaky and careful. Dad was in denial. Now he has had to face it.

    With the pills locked up and Mom having to ask for a pain pill when she needs it, she is taking only the dosage recommended by her doctor. The Xanax wasn't her prescription in the first place, so she isn't taking them at all. Her pain levels seem to be fine as long as she lies down while waiting for a pill to kick in. Dad apparently doesn't understand that he can give her Ibuprofin alternately with the hydrocodone. I will make sure Rachel knows.

    Rachel is our angel of mercy. My 20-year-old niece is the one person in the family who not only has the summer off and can work for mom and dad, but who also can make them behave. When she tells Mom to eat, Mom eats. When she tells Dad to calm down, he calms down. Every family with aging parents needs a Rachel.

    Dad has to pay Rachel, though, or she will have to get a job to pay for school. After being poor his whole life, it is hard for Dad to realize that he has a bank full of money from selling the family ranch. He says he understands, though. I hope he does.

    What will Rachel need to do?

    First of all, basic cleaning. The twice-a-month cleaner has not been adequate. We will need to find someone else when Rachel goes back to school in the fall.

    Second, she will make sure that food is available for Dad to cook. Their home is set up for two mobile people with working brains. Unfortunately, Dad can no longer get to the basement to bring up canned or frozen food from the storage room. Mom cannot remember what to bring up if he sends her.

    Third, Rachel will entertain Mom. Dad has become a surprisingly gentle caregiver. Mom's need seems to make him feel useful in a way he has not since selling the ranch fifteen years ago. However, he does not enjoy playing cards, looking at albums, doing crosswords and puzzles, or any of the other things mom needs to keep her mind somewhat functional.

    In the fall when Rachel goes back to school, we will be back to the drawing board. If Mom begins wandering, there will have to be a shakeup. For now, I think things are stable.

    Freitag, Mai 08, 2009

    The Haul

    I didn't buy much at Sheep and Wool due to luggage and financial constraints--I already had this . . .

    Bugga! From left:
    Blue Metalmark, Hognosed Bonking Beetle, Goldenrod Crab Spider,
    Smaller Yellow Ant, Polka Dot Wasp Moth

    . . . sitting in my suitcase in the hotel room back in Easton. Most of what I saw didn't look as good, besides which Gryphon wasn't giving the stuff away.

    However, Anna of Mystic Lace fame mentioned that she had heard about a large ball winder that would make it possible to wind a large lace skein without having to wind the last 500 yards by hand. I also knew that some of the new Blue Moon colors would be available at The Fold, so I went with those two shopping goals in mind.

    Tola and Mike helped us pin down the ballwinder. Since I was shopping with Cherry, there was strong opposition to purchasing it without checking prices online. I won the round, and so far it seems to be about the same everywhere.

    Strauch Jumbo Ball Winder

    I was not planning on buying a spindle, but it is difficult not to be sucked in by Tom Golding's art. Cherry, bargain hunter of the world, trained by her father, a world-class expert in same, was horrified at the prices of these purportedly utilitarian little items. You saw the $350 Russian lacquer model in the previous post, right?

    However, there was a smaller version without a certificate of authenticity that was more reasonably priced. The artwork was still fine, as you can see if you click through into Flickr to look at the photo in its original size.

    Ew, isn't that a little sick to see the lacquer damaged
    for the hook to be installed on the spindle?

    It's in my sock drawer right now. Not sure where to keep it, objet d'art that it is.

    I did find some of Blue Moon's new ocean-inspired colorways at The Fold.

    From left: Sam n' Ella, Guppy, Sunkissed Sand

    I will have to look for Crabby McCrabbypants at Black Sheep Gathering. Hmmm. I wonder if Tina will let me be an honorary Sockateer while my friend Sue attends a weaving workshop?

    I also got a sheep to shoe kit. You know, to keep the little spindle company?

    I think this is Jubilation, but don't quote me on that

    At this point I was ready to call it quits, but Anna talked me into checking out Tess Designer Yarns on the way out.

    Grey merino and angora blend, red merino laceweight

    There was only one skein of the red laceweight left, but Anna says she is going to design some smaller lace items.

    And that's it. It all fit into a little 22" carryon bag, and that included the ballwinder in its box. The yarn was stuffed into and around said box.

    So, I did good, huh?

    To Market, to Market!



    We made a point of catching up with Tola,
    a Utah friend who married and moved to the east coast.
    From left, Tola, me, Cherry

    I spent the most time in the Golding booth.

    This is the one that got away.
    At $350, it was a little beyond my budget.


    Blue Moon at The Fold
    The Blue Moon was quite picked over when I got there.
    There will be more of it at Black Sheep next month.

    Maggie's Music and Rover Dance are one of my favorite things at MDSW. I was too late to get a good video, but you can at least see the clogging dogs.

    Tomorrow: The loot.

    Donnerstag, Mai 07, 2009

    I dye, Horatio!

    Gryphon's yard

    Shopping for Bugga!

    Gryphon uses Jacquard dyes.
    It was nice to have a wide selection
    of colors to pick from.

    Solid color (on the left) and nearly solid color methods

    Shallow water method (variegated)



    From left: Gryphon's Oil Beetle colorway on Wollmeise base;
    taupe Woobu (BMFA) overdyed for more variety;
    mini skeins using solid color, shallow water, and hand paint
    (the plastic-wrap method we all know and love);
    Gryphon's Bergen colorway on Wollmeise base

    Tomorrow: Maryland Sheep and Wool Show

    Samstag, Mai 02, 2009

    We go to church

    Cherry is Catholic, and wanted to attend Mass at St. Louis Cathedral.


    cathedral 1


    cathedral organ


    The organist was not as showy as those we heard play before Mass in Vienna and Salzburg, but played some good, solid fugues before and after mass, and did a nice improv during the second collection, which was for upkeep of the Cathedral.

    St. Louis Cathedral is the oldest cathedral in the United States, and the oldest building in the southern USA.


    Mass at St. Louis is not what I remember from my catechism days, when I trailed along to the Catholic church with the cutest boy in class (who grew up to be a priest). Then it was in Latin. Now it's in English; you have to listen hard to catch what was once kyrie eleison or the Gloria. St. Louis has no choir, or if it has, they were all at the Jazz Festival; instead a soprano (good) acted as both chanter and choir. The altar boys were middle aged women. Not to knock St. Louis, but here in Salt Lake at the Cathedral of the Madaleine we have classical music and a children's choir at Mass.

    Not that I go.

    Next week: The Maryland Sheep and Wool Show, and Sanguine Gryphon's dyeing camp.

    Freitag, Mai 01, 2009

    We go uptown

    On Saturday Cherry and I took the street car uptown.


    We should have bought an RTA pass at the hotel; as it was, it cost $1.25 every time we hopped off and back on again. We couldn't make as many stops as we wanted to because we were soon out of exact change.

    When I went to Tulane University in the late '80's it was only sixty-five cents to hop on the car to go to class.


    We went to the Camellia Grill for lunch. Oh, right, I forgot to mention that yesterday.

    camelia grill

    We had Harry's Yankee Special, my favorite from back when. There is still a line (we waited an hour for lunch), but they manage it well.

    We wanted snowballs from Plum Street, but it was closed for Jazz Fest. Instead we enjoyed the neighborhood. The corner of Plum Street and Carollton is lined with these banana-like trees.

    strange banana

    Also on Plum Street:

    cute house

    strange iris

    mardi bike

    The evening was less enjoyable. We spent most of it in the valet parking area of our hotel.


    Valet parking at our hotel lost the keys to our rental car. After a thorough search of all the keys, it became clear that they were really gone. The car had not been stolen, but we could not use it. The rental agency was willing to rent us another car, but wanted a $250 lost key fine--realistic, since they were going to have to have the car towed, and new keys can cost well over $100.

    Paul should get a prize for calmly insisting that the parking company (not part of the hotel) take care of this honorably. Central Parking's manager first suggested that they have Papa Lock come and make new keys for the car. We rejected this, knowing that the rental company would not accept. And Papa Lock said that they could not make the computerized keys this late model car required.

    Then the manager wanted us to take the $250 fine on our credit card, with the idea that they would repay us when their insurance paid them. Obviously this pig-in-a-poke scheme was not acceptable to us. We didn't lose the keys! They did!

    Eventually I was able to get Central Parking to talk directly to Budget Rental, and in the end, after 3 hours of discussion and stonewalling, someone from Central Parking arrived with $250 cash and took us to the airport to pay the fine and get us into a different car.

    Where were the keys? Did someone take them home by mistake and run them through the wash? Were they taken by a disgruntled employee who had been fired for his sloppy handling of customers' keys? We don't know, but we felt very lucky that we made it to the Texas Barbecue Company in Metairie before it closed--and before any of us passed out from hunger.

    Tomorrow: We go to church
    No tickers