Sunday, March 31, 2013

Interview with Caregiver Lynn Potocny

Joe is my social media blogging friend that I discovered has a blog about his own Alzheimer’s. He wrote a book about it that I reviewed here part one on 1/25/11and part two on 2/18/11 here.

Lynn Potocny is what Joe Potocny might call his “better half “ and I have been dying to communicate with Joe’s wife as I have with other wife caregivers on my blog.

Carol: Welcome to my blog, Lynn! I am thrilled you are doing this interview and even that Joe arranged it. Incredible! Apparently your hubby Joe reads Plant City Lady and Friends regularly and he sometimes comments. He teases me about coconut oil and thinks my hubby is cool. I likewise am one of his faithful readers on his blog
How do you feel about my bugging him on his blog? I might be nagging him at times. We caregiving wives have to stick together after all!

Lynn: Go ahead and bug him it seems the only ones that can get away with nagging him are you, his readers.

Carol: Inquiring minds want to know about you. What is Joe’s caregiving wife like? Does Joe think of you as a caregiver? (My husband doesn’t think I am his caregiver.)

Lynn: I don’t think Joe thinks of me as his caregiver. I am first his wife and then somebody that has to put up with him and his disease. If you ask him, I am a nag; ask me and I just care a lot to get things done.

Carol: Lynn, how long had you been married when you started to suspect that Joe had medical issues and describe what is was like.

Lynn: We had been married for about 20 years. He was the one that suspected first that something was not right. He couldn’t remember all the things he used to or the way he did them. He could jump from task to task and not break stride and then he had to start using notes. That was about the time he wanted to retire and I became the breadwinner so to speak.

Carol: How did you proceed when you found about the memory problems?

Lynn: We tried the same thing that others have tried I am sure. Post it notes, long lists of honey dos. He made a list of things that he wanted or needed to get done and checked them off as it happened. Soon he started to forget he had a list. So we are still working on those types of things.

Carol: My husband forgets about his lists also, but still wants one each day I leave the home. My blog was inspired because of my husband’s dementia and I wanted to chronicle it. How and why did the book come about?

Lynn: Joe wanted to deal with the diagnosis and what was happening and I had seen another blog from someone else and suggested he try doing something along those lines. We did not think that anybody would actually read it. It was more for him to have an outlet. The book actually came about because he always wanted to publish something that he has written and this seemed to be the way to do it.

Carol: Two years ago I reviewed Living With Alzheimer’s and it seems from his blog that Joe is about the same. True?

Lynn: As you know they have good days and bad days. He has progressed but he seems to be progressing differently. It seems he has more physical problems and then some more mental problems after using his brain cells for too long.

Carol: You still work as I do. How do you manage with Joe at home? Do you do it all, or do you have help from your family and friends?

Lynn: I was laid off from my job after Joe was diagnosed and we did the HBO special. It took about a year to get a new job and that was fine. I spent that year with Joe. Now that I am back to work I still do most of the stuff around the house, but we have my mother and daughter with us so they help out with things I don’t have time for.

Carol: One of the hardest things for me is to ask for help. People just need to be asked, but it is so hard to ask them and yet this is what we are encouraged to do as caregivers. Then it can hurt our husband’s egos when we ask for help from others.

Lynn: Joe won’t ask for help even from me unless it is the last resort. I don’t ask for much but the family seems to know when I need it and they pitch in.

Carol: I have a worksheet on a clipboard that I use when I leave the house so my husband will remember where I am and what he is to do. What tips do you have for communicating with Joe when you are gone? Do you also leave notes and does he read them (my husband doesn’t always).

Lynn: I don’t bother too much with notes because he does not always read them. I tell him where I am going and hope for the best. Somebody is always around and when he is by himself he is usually getting into trouble on the computer or sleeping.

Carol: Google spilled my name (I used to be NewKidontheBlogg). I keep my husband’s identity (first name) secret on the blog for security. Have you had anyone come to the house or had other security issues because you and Joe use your real names?

Lynn: No, after the HBO thing aired we got some phone calls like immediately afterward. I think some were done within minutes of it being aired. But he had the blog going and people could contact him that way too. In fact it is funny because he used to go to the store with me and after it aired nobody even recognized him at the store where it was shot.

Carol: I am trying to simplify our home because there is enough to deal with. How have you made your home livable for you and Joe?

Lynn: We are not changing much. We would like to find a different place without stairs at some point but that would be the only thing.

Carol: I would imagine early on what Joe wrote on the blog might have surprised you. Do you discuss what he writes on his blog?

Lynn: He has only asked me about a few things that he has written. For the most part he comes up with ideas on his own. Sometimes when we are talking and he is feeling frustrated with his readership I tell him to let you all know what he is feeling and that he is pissed or hurt or whatever. I have only asked him to not always discuss some aspects of our life because I believe they are private.

Carol: Describe the abilities that he still has, the Joe who shines through.

Lynn: He can still be a pain in the ass. He is also the very caring father that he grew to be. You can’t ask for a better friend if you need something that he can help with. Using power tools though not so much anymore.

Carol: Joe fixed your computer!

Lynn: That is one of the things that he can still do even though it may take a while, and it completely wears him out.

Carol: Joe took a trip recently with you. How did that go? He barely wrote about it.

Lynn: We went up to see our daughters’ family for a birthday. It was a short trip because of that thing they call work. He slept a lot but was awake enough to have the kids use him as a jungle gym. They love their papa.

Carol: You have fish in a pond. Any other pets that Joe takes care of? My husband thinks he mows the lawn, but very often neglects it and now we have to get our riding lawn mower fixed because he hasn’t started it up. What does Joe do or think he can do still?

Lynn: We have our daughters’ cat and my mother’s dog. Both animals are small enough to trip him up if he does not look down. He cleans out the cat box and pets the dog. Every once in-awhile he still thinks that he is on top of everything. But he forgets what he is on top of. It took a year for him to work on a chest, sanding, painting that sort of thing, before it would have been done within a week.

Carol: How did Joe’s participation in the HBO special on Alzheimer’s come about? [See] Is it a blessing or a curse? I notice that Joe keeps up with what happens (including death) to the others in the video.

Lynn: It came about because one of HBO’s employees read his blog and when they were talking about doing the special they called and started talking to him. They were talking to a few people in the area who also have AD but they decided to use Joe and we talked about things like “So if you’re filming and he falls asleep are you going to film that?” and what did they really want from him or us. I think it worked out well. It is neither a blessing nor curse that we did it. I do have some wonderful memories on tape now.

Carol: I quoted Dr. Joe Sivak (author of When Can I Go Home) who said: “People like Joe are a gift to the human race; he reminds us to never forget. . . . Joe is not an Alzheimer’s victim; Joe is just a guy who happens to be living with the disease.” Can you amplify this statement?

Lynn: I think he is a person to look at that says, OK I have this now what are we going to do about it? Just because you are handed a death sentence does not mean lay down and cry. Keep living with what you have and make the best out of it while you can.

Carol: The AD loved one is pretty focused on himself. Does it hurt you to not be able to share more of yourself with Joe because he will not remember? Or do you share even if he doesn’t remember later? (I get asked repeatedly how was you day, Carol, and each time I repeat how my day was.)

Lynn: We listen to stories that we have heard quite a few times. I share things but I know that in the future he won’t remember them. Usually within a matter of hours or days.

Carol: We can’t ask them how their day was because they won’t remember! Was it hard for Joe to give up certain things like driving. How did that go?

Lynn: He gave up driving by himself. He had a close call and decided that he did not want to take anybody else out.

Carol: My husband decided to give up driving on his own also. They say that every AD loved one is different. Joe has mixed dementia with Alzheimer’s and Frontal type. Does this shed light on his condition?

Lynn: He threw himself out of bed a few months ago and we got a CT scan done. When we got the results it explained a lot about his problems because there was a spot on the scan that nobody had mentioned before. Having the two types also is why certain drugs won’t help him.

Carol: Joe seems to think that the Alzheimer’s Association is not worth much since they haven’t helped him. Do you go to an Alzheimer’s Association support group? Or how do you get help for coping?

Lynn: No, I don’t go to any support groups.

Carol: I love the Warrior Lament that Joe wrote in his book. He is ready for heaven. “I pray Thee take ME HOME” is so poignant.

Lynn: That was something he just sat down and wrote because of the way he was feeling. Each of our children has a copy of that framed and in their homes.

Carol: About three years after his book was published he seems less angry on the blog and more used to the fact he has Alzheimer’s. Does he accept his “new normal” as it keeps changing?

Lynn: I think he does. He may not like it but what else is he going to do? We joke a lot about his abilities or lack of like his tongue being too big for his mouth when he is trying to talk, but I know he does get frustrated with not being able to do things on his own anymore.

Carol: Joe is a gentleman who signs off “God bless you and this great country of ours.” Is he able to keep up with events in California and our country (not that any of us can)?

Lynn: Don’t get him started on politics. It is amazing what he can retain.

Carol: My hubby and I go to church and Toastmasters together. When we go to the grocery store he wants to sit in the car or on a bench in the store. What outings do you and Joe regularly do together and how does that work out?

Lynn: We don’t. He is afraid of going away from the house. I ask and he says no. Going on that trip was hard but getting him to the home improvement store down the street is harder.

Carol: How do the children and grandchildren relate to Joe?

Lynn: The kids treat him like they always do. Sometimes they talk louder. The grandkids are different. The oldest few know that papa is sick and that he may get grumpy at times. The younger ones don’t really understand because this is always how papa is.

Carol: What advice do you have for other caregivers?

Lynn: First and foremost take care of yourself; you will be no good to anyone if you are sick. When taking care of someone like this, don’t sneak up on them--drives them crazy. Treat them with respect because no matter what they deserve our respect. They are still persons of interest. Let them talk even if you have heard the story 20 times; they don’t know that. Don’t talk down to a level that is demeaning. Coax them to take their medicine, baths, and eat.

Carol: Give us a humorous incident about Joe that maybe he wouldn’t recognize.

Lynn: We have decided that he has a round bottom because he can fall over sitting on the floor. But he knows that.

Carol: LOL! Do hope he doesn’t get hurt. My husband can’t get up from the floor, but he has issues with his skinny bottom. He has to have a comfortable seat anywhere he goes.

It has been such a pleasure to interview you, Lynn.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Reflections on Wisdom

Youth are ahead in technology, but not always in wisdom. Are we passing on our wisdom to the next generation? Deuteronomy 6 expects us to. Mary in Luke 1:50 says, “His mercy extends to those who fear him from generation to generation.”

My teaching proves this generational transfer of values is difficult at best. I can think of two recent examples this last month.

First, stubbornness to change. As I have mentioned here before, several times a year I teach DUI classes for those arrested for impaired driving who are mandated by the state of Florida to take these 12 hour classes. I have the adults of all ages develop a plan for not getting another DUI. This is teaching wisdom. However, one twenty-something man actually said he will not have a new plan, but will continue driving after drinking. One day I may read in the paper that he has killed someone due to his impaired driving, because he refuses to change.

Sign I saw in a classroom

Second, defiance of authority. A high school girl in a class where I substituted said her mother was punishing her by not allowing her to use the Internet. I was curious and asked why because it would seem to me that she might need the Internet for some of her papers. “I woke my mom up and told her to go buy me some cake,” she said. “My mom refused and I cussed her out.” She had no sympathy for a hard working mother and I for one certainly concur with the mother's ruling restricting her daughter's computer use.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Character is higher than intellect.” So is character better than intellect? Can intellect can improve character and show wisdom? Only if that intellect pursues and chooses wisdom. Writing in the May 2012 “O” magazine, Nancy Ranger Anderson recalls, “One of my college English professors asked us to write a paper explaining the difference between knowledge and wisdom. At 18 years old, I saw no difference. Now I realize that wisdom really does come with age, maturity, and life experiences.”

On our recent trip I found out that my raps would be videotaped, and so Friday two weeks ago I was up at 4 am in Huntsville, Alabama finishing off another rap. My nephew is an Associate Pastor/Youth Minister and the rap below I wrote for his youth group. My niece and nephew videotaped me with several cameras so that the youth could hear it. My nephew introduced each segment and my creative niece is editing three videos with nine raps total and probably putting them on YouTube.* The rap below is going in my wisdom set.

If you don’t use your mind

You’ll soon be behind

And probably you’ll find

You’re begging with a street sign

You think you have THE potion

If you use your emotion

Think fun’ll get you our devotion

But it won’t get you that promotion

‘Cause emotion is no lotion

Just causes an explosion

Of me me me

In a sea sea sea

Of self-pity

Your own reality

So use your mind

Be careful with emotion

Get your education

Get your heart right

Heed God’s Word

Your future will be bright

You all have our prayers

You all have our devotion

First use your mind

But not your emotion

This is, young friend,

Life’s magic potion.

The last rap/poem addresses issues of maturity. I have been surprised at how well-received this rap has been when I have substituted in public schools in the past few days. One girl even said she liked that I mentioned God in this rap. I suspect God is only a curse word in public schools these days.

You have to use your mind and not your emotions to show maturity, unless you have Alzheimer’s. Here the mind and memory start to go, but emotions continue. Many think this is not the case and that both the right brain and the left brain start to deteriorate, but emotions do carry on into later stages of Alzheimer’s. Most of my wonderful conversations and prayer with my husband show emotion. Cognitive concepts are difficult for him. He will say Carol you aren't making sense.  However emotional talk of how we love our dog and each other make sense to him. He is very happy while I am gone teaching to enjoy a video with an emotional plot line while our dog is on his lap. I do try to use my wisdom to coach him. Yesterday I had to call him six times to get him to take his morning medicine. When I came home I praised him that he had accomplished what is on his schedule on his clipboard, but I do see his decline in cognitive functions. He can use his emotions, but depends upon my mind.


*Look for an announcement of the YouTube videos of nine raps my nephew and niece are producing. They have chosen M. C. A. C. as my rapper name. There is a lifestyle set, a classroom set and a wisdom set.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Remembering High School

Marianne put me up to this before my Internet went out this morning and I am not sure how long the above picture will stay on this blog. Was not sure I would ever use it. Marianne is the delightful mother whose book I reviewed recently on this blog. Andrea on her blog Maybe It's Just Me has challenged readers to blog hop today, May 25 and Marianne did it here and was disappointed that I didn't also blog hop this morning. Marianne didn't follow the directions exactly she said, and I am impaired also.

For example,  I am not ready to take out high school pictures as Andrea suggested. They are in Room #7 and I am into "hotspot" clutter and weeds in the front yard these days when I am not working or seeing to the needs of my husband. Not going there, Andrea, but you can enjoy the above picture for however briefly it stays on my blog.

Since we are senior citizens, high school is a long way back  and even though I substitute teach in high school and once taught high school along with other grades, I do not even think about it much at all. I live over 2000 miles from my high school and do not even have high school Facebook friends. 

Even hubby who does have some long-term (but little short-term) memory couldn't recall much about high school. He said he was a ham radio operator and dated girls, He cannot remember any names of girls he dated in high school. He is 75 now and I am his third wife.

In high school I do remember starching dresses and wearing those starched slips that made the skirt stick out. (Can't remember what they were called.) We did not wear pants to high school, and even when I started teaching in the late 1960s in elementary school it was a scandal even in California for teachers to wear pants--another teacher and myself were the first to do this.

My journal apparently started in college with a hunt and peck typewriter and carbon paper. (For some reason I made carbons.) During the era of the hippies while I attended San Francisco State and finished my BA at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, I wrote very philosophically and religously:
  • He shall receive what he fears who bases his life on fear; he shall find serenity who accepts suffering.
  • Greatness is all to the young man--incidental to the great man.
  • New creatures in Christ are not stuffy stereotpyes.
  • Courage to accept my vile self stews from my Hope.
  • If it concerns me that men depart from my standards, must it also concern me that I depart from men's standards"? Yes, if I live to please men. But since I do not live to please men, then men need not live to please me. Hence my standards concern none save myself, and hence it should concern me only slightly that men's standards differ.
  • Never doubt that God guides you, but do doubt that you are wise to His ways.
  • That person is real and free who practices thinking apart from his limited scope and experiences feeling apart from his ego-centeredness.
  • Why do I expect to appear perfect before men whereas I know I am far from perfect before God? It is as men know me as I am--defiled, dependent--that I approach the nearer God.
  • Poetry is older than either the novel or the short story because poetry is bound up in the heart of man. All men are poets and need to develop their potentials.
So why didn't I write more poetry then? It would have been more correct to not use "man" to indicate person, but we weren't doing that yet. I took myself so seriously then!

Yet life, though serious, is also fun, renewing and joyful because of Jesus Christ whom I have known all these years. And this blog hop surely is fun.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Road Trip With an Alzheimer's Husband

Road trip with an Alzheimer's loved one.  
When you travel with them, you notice more how the disease is affecting your loved one. We headed north to visit my younger brother, the rocket scientist, his wife and his extended family in Huntsville, Alabama. We rented a car because it didn't make sense to use our gas guzzler which has over 200,000 miles now.  The trip can take only one day, but with an Alzheimer's husband who would be impatient I drove a day and a half each way staying at a hotel each leg of the trip.

Our dog was dropped off at a kennel and Sally and Jake took us to Avis at the Tampa International Airport. When I was not visible to my husband while he was watching our luggage, it was great to have our friends with him. I went to Avis to arrange for the car. Priceline had reserved a $12 a day car for us. You could fit one piece of luggage in the $12 car and so we were upgraded to a more expensive car ($35 a day)--a Ford Taurus. It took some adjustment for me to use this car, but even my husband liked it. For example, I didn't know how to turn the volume down at first on the trip to Huntsville and how to plug in my iPhone for our playlists. When it came to buying gas, I had to have help.

On the way to Huntsville I entertained my hubby by asking him to shell peanuts for me. We also talked and I was able to use playlists on my iPhone. On the return trip, however, I knew how to turn the volume down and use the plug in for the iPhone thanks to the smarts of my sister-in-law. We listened to a variety of music on the radio and on my playlists, and talked repeatedly about our dog Ziggy. I let my husband choose the subject of conversation because it works out the best this way and I don't get his comments--Carol, you aren't making sense.

While at my brother and sister-in-law's home, we also spent three evenings with my niece and nephew and their families including three delightful children. We went to Unclaimed Baggage in Scottsborough where I spent a total of $10.44 on a dress and a scarf. We saw the movie "Quartet".

Hubby had many repeated questions for me while we were gone:
  1. Are we in a hotel? (We stayed at my brother's home.)
  2. What are we doing here?
  3. Is our dog in the kennel?
  4. What does our home look like?
  5. When are we going home?
Questions such as these, asked over and over, are pretty standard for this stage of Alzheimer's, and hubby didn't have his printed schedule on the trip, because he would be with me and I wasn't sure what would happen each day.

My rocket scientist brother works for a subcontractor at the large Redstone Arsenal and on Saturday he took us to see the nicknamed "Pentagon South" building he is moving into. We had to show IDs to get through the gate to the Arsenal and hubby and I handed my brother our driver's licenses. When It came time to get give our IDs at the gate, my brother could not find the driver's licenses with a thorough search of the car. Now hubby is so good at putting things away. Finally hubby checked his wallet and sure enough both of our driver's licenses were here! We all laughed including hubby, who still has his license for identification but chooes not to drive any more.  

Hubby lost his cell phone at a mall and security did see a local relative to call, my sister-in-law, called her and my brother went to get that cell phone. On the trip back home while I stopped at MacDonalds to get hubby to take his pills with food, I went to the rental car to get something and hubby forgot where I was. He used his cell phone to call me, getting my sister-in-law instead of me. She told him I must be around there somewhere. He must just press TALK when he calls me and usually I am the last number, although this time it was the sister-in-law.

At my brother's home I made hubby's coconut oil/dark chocolate fudge and I realize it does calm him down. I just packed coconut oil, dark chocolate and two ice cube trays and then made it at our destination as I have described on this blog.

As we traveled in Alabama I noticed signs of recession, with shops closed. However new Dollar General appeared in small towns along HYW 231.

Not open

Other changes. The price of gas dropped 20 cents as we entered Alabama. On the way home it was even 2 cents lower than that until we got to Florida. None of this phased hubby. Place as well as time has less meaning for him.  Alabama has radio and signs protecting drivers from distracted driving such as texting while driving, whereas Florida's signs emphasize the "Move Over Law" protecting officers parked by the side of the road.

Alabama Choleus, herbs, Breathless Blush Euyphorbia, and Hot Water Ble Lobelia
One place that was not closed was Pat's Secret Garden in North Ozark, Alabama. I have noticed and stopped at this garden shop for years on my travels to Alabama from Florida and it didn't show signs of slowing down at all and I bought the above plants. Pat herself told me to put the plants I purchased in the trunk and a day later when we arrived home they were fine, ready for my areas 8 and 9 projects at our home. Pat has a secret garden open April 15th to May 24th in case you are in the neighborhood.

Getting home we first picked up the dog, drove home and unpacked. Sally and Jake came over. Jake spent time with hubby while Sally followed me to the airport to turn in my Priceline "bargain" rental that totaled $344 including taxes and other charges for six days; then Sally brought me home while we talked for the whole ride about our husbands and the past six days we both experienced.  

Highlights of the trip included relaxed time chatting with family, going to church, beating my rocket scientist brother at Checkers at Cracker Barrel restaurant, and having raps videotaped by the niece and nephew who say they are putting it on YouTube under a rapper name they have chosen for me.

Hubby seems very contented at home now. Things are predictable to him and hubby is more predictable to me. So glad I got to see family and that we took this trip.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

15 Things I Like About the House That Cleans Itself

A donut tray
When I was substituting recently in high school culinary arts, I saw one of these things that Mindy Starns Clark likes up close, not just a picture in a book. Nope! Still do not want one of these in my house.

However, I do love fifteen things about the book The House That Cleans Itself by Mindy Starns Clark:

One. Hubby has gotten into the act and doesn't have problems finding things. He asked for a hat rack for his baseball caps and of course he got one.

Two. The coat hook in the living room by the piano works for hubby.

Three. The DVD "coffee table" we got at Ikea works for hubby and really if I hadn't started thinking along these lines, we could have never gotten it.

Four. I file broadly now. It is so much faster. The detailed filing can come monthly or whenever, and meanwhile it looks neat. All my tax information is together now and ready for the accountant.

Five. I make myself repair things as best I can within our limited funds. I go to Home Depot and Lowes now.

Six. I have permission to throw away all those magazines I haven't read. Who says I need to keep stuff for a potential yard sale that may never happen?! I can also give things away to people who can use them for real.

Seven. I keep cleaning supplies in rooms where I need them. Well I plan to, but haven't gotten to my "spring cleaning" yet. Each room will have its own cleaning list of what needs to be done and how long it takes.

Eight. If I have to have a cleaning service, which I have had twice in the last six months because of my back and carpal tunnel wrists, I do not have to clean up for them first.

Nine. I store everything where I use it and that saves so much time.

Ten. This works better for me initially than Flylady, although she has influenced me more recently with the 15 minute hot spot idea. I am better ready for Flylady after Mrs. Clark's book.

Eleven. I can have projects in process but just keep them hidden. I love having designated a temporary photo album table in the guest bedroom.

Twelve. I can live with imperfection. So many good-looking yards still have a few weeds.

Thirteen. There is hope that one can get a handle on the home clutter and messes.
Fourteen. There is a secret Facebook group as suggested by blogging friend Laurie where we discuss our messes and successes. You can join when you read the book if I am a Facebook friend of yours and you request this.

Fifteen. Author Mrs. Clark sent me fifteen copies of these books for fifteen ladies--you know who you are. Fifteen is a perfect number here because I have not felt so alone in this journey.

What do you like about this system?


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Beginning Area #8 of The House That Cleans Itself

He who gathers in summer is a wise son;
He who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame.  Proverbs 10:5 

If it is the problem of paper clutter inside the house, it is the problem of weeds in the front of the house. Many years my husband and I would get control of the weeds, and then those weeds would take over again. Now he only mows the grass on occasion and the lawn mower is broken. I am concerned about the front yard and my abilities to conquer the weeds.

This would be taken over by weeds by summer.
Last summer I took up the scalloped bricks seen above. I started to think about what do do here. Grow grass seemed to be the solution.

Jake took out the black edging thing. (I do not have proper names for gardening products, folks.) Hubby threw it over the fence into a pasture for cows (I wrote about his deed here) and I have to retrieve it somehow and bag it so the trash people actually take it.

Now I am armed with weed control and new strategies. Fifteen minutes a day on weeds so they don't take over the front yard again another year. But not to be. Alas, I get a new small spray can for weed killer, but can't make this small one work or the other two I found in the garage.

Weed busters?
Pots. Make vignettes or yard art and pots of shrubs rather than even have flower beds I'm thinking.

Lowered shower bench helps gardening
In the process I break two pots, but dig up plants to use where I can. 

Repotted, but not sure it will last

Dug up and repotted


Forget flower beds--have pots I am thinking
The sad one above (third from left) is what I dug up to replant. A neighbor didn't know that is was a shrub because he was mowing all the weeds.

All of this seems hopeless to me, as hopeless as entering a writing contest about guns which actually came in my e-mail--got to be a joke. Yes--writing. No--guns. Yes--gardening. No--weeds.

But now the weeds will grow because I wasn't able to spray with any of these contraptions! Martha Stewart or someone! Where are you when I need you!

So much of gardening is above my pay grade and obviously I need help and will have to learn to ask for help. With carpal tunnel I cannot spend hours pulling weeks and my quick fix spraying isn't working yet. I am afraid the weeds will again take over our front yard!

Amateur wanta-be gardener signing off here,


Monday, March 11, 2013

Senior Citizen Complains About Technological Change

They already know my name, why do they need my email password?
Invalid username and/or password. Please enter your email password, not your LinkedIn account password.

So I get a notice that I didn't respond to _______'s request on LinkedIn six days ago. It looks like in the above picture there are 26 other things I missed. So LinkedIn will let me respond to her if I give them my email password. Are you kidding! Then they can spam all my email friends!  Let's see where this LinkedIn complaint goes. The most popular post on Plant City Lady and Friends with 2515 this morning is my complaint about an ad for "Brain Health and Memory Kit " here, LinkedIn--are you listening?  

It is so complicated these days. You almost need a chart for:
  • Friends who only do Facebook
  • Friends who only do Facebook games
  • Friends who do Facebook chat and messaging only
  • Friends who tweet on Twitter (I certainly do not)
  • Friends who only text
  • Friends who only do email
  • Friends who say they do not read blogs after you spend time on a post and wonder if you should just do the extra step of copying it for them and putting it in an e-mail
  • Friends who say just call but their message line is full because they don't return calls
  • Friends who have several phone numbers and you forget which one to use
  • Friends with a combination of the above
  • Friends who don't understand how difficult it is to talk on the phone with the Alzheimer's hubby present and why blogging and texting is cool for me
I can hear the music in my head.  "Who ya gonna call?" and the answer in the old film is "Ghostbusters". But now it is how do I contact someone? Can't you just come over and chat on the front porch?
I do need prayer today with specific requests and for
the really difficult journey of caregivng for an Alzheimer’s husband.
And there are specific things you can do for us. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Finishing Area #7 of The House That Cleans Itself

From Pinterest
Discipline is part of life. A friend said to me recently that she cannot be disciplined. I corrected her that she really is disciplined in some areas of her life. Habits carry her and new habits can bring new discipline.

I cannot get my way in this house because I cannot hire a lot of help and I cannot redecorate. It just won't happen like it does on a DIY TV program. The rugs will not be replaced and maybe I can clean them better. But I can be disciplined myself.

I chose to start the process in The House That Cleans Itself to be disciplined and certainly the house would be worse had I not started. I can say that I am not a slob anymore. I chose to do something. I can pretend to be a perfectionist, but I am so not a perfectionist and the areas that I went through will need work again. I do think, however, that this calls for Flylady's concept of the 15 minute timer. I spend time on the "hot spots". De-cluttering is a process while life is happening. There is so much freedom now in admitting this.

As life happens, there are other priorities than my clutter. Life is about bringing glory to God as I ask His help to be the best wife/caregiver and friend to others I can be. The book by Staci Eastin that I reviewed here, The Organized Heart, is all about priorities that are correctly placed. You can order it from the Amazon site on this blog as well as order The House That Cleans Itself. These two books have changed my life, folks.

Area #7 used to be so bad as you see  a month ago here. As I "finish" Area #7 I reflect on the impact of discipline and lack of discipline in my life. The guest bedroom is full of lack of discipline, but it is neater now. Things to solve later are there--some projects for "one day" and at the age of 68 I am not sure when that "one day" will be.

I have to laugh at myself. Once upon a time I saved shoulder pads thinking I could make a quilt with them! Who ever does such a thing? Finally I threw them away and then came a project idea. You can make angels with shoulder pads! I might make one, but saving shoulder pads does not meet the criteria in the graphic of this post.

Bed cleared and more to do
At last I can have overnight company again with less embarrassment. It feels good! I moved a little closet into this room that was stored in the workshop. It used to be in our popup camper that we gave away last year and we never went camping with it. The new owners have not expressed interest in this closet and so here it is in the corner with right now a clock and a box on top. There is a cable cord in this corner and we can put a TV on top when we have company. My rocket scientist brother will like having a TV here when he comes my sister-in-law says. I need to find a good container for gift wrapping as you see, but that will come. Also, have stuff on the wall side of the bed to do something with.

What are your thoughts about rooms that have too many unfinished projects and too much stuff in them? I really have clothes closets to go through. I have a quilt to make for my husband's oldest granddaughter and photo albums to finish for my husband. Projects bring joy to my life and I love making gifts for others. I do have a place to store projects now--the guest bedroom.

One day my husband may refer to area #7 as the guest bedroom rather than as the craft room. One day it may be ready for a professional caregiver such as blogging friend Laurie has staying in her home. I better finish projects so it will be ready. I will need a chest of drawers where I have the project table, will need to go through the closet and the shelves, but it will work. The carpet is already new here as we had repairs to a moldy wall once and insurance covered the new carpet.

Without being totally "finished" with area #7, I need to move on to area #8 in our house, which is the front yard. Spring is coming and every year I never seem to get a handle on weeds because I am so overwhelmed with the inside of the house and now my responsibilities as a lovegiver/caregiver for my husband who has Alzheimer's.

Weeds you will not have dominion over my front yard any more!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Epic Mom Book Review

Epic Mom:
Failing Every Day a Little Bit More Than You

Marianne Walsh always puts a smile on my face whether it is on her blog or in her new book, Epic Mom, coauthored with Julie R. Harrison. Why would I review this book here? First of all, Marianne comments on this blog--she is a blogging social media friend. For some time she has been reading this blog and I finally caught on and started to follow hers. (See link at the right for her blog.)

The editor of the Chicago Parent Magazine where Marianne has a column, Tamara L. O’Shaughnessy, writes:
The ability to find humor while riding shot-gun with lunacy is what sustains many parents, and Marianne details the comic glory of it all in Epic Mom. . . . Perfection is not attainable. We all know that on some level. But who has the guts to actually admit their faults and failures to the world? Marianne Walsh and Julie Harrison, that’s who. (p. 2)

Co-author Julie writes as MOV in the book. I was thinking about reviewing this book on Amazon as I have for other books, and I noticed that both MOV and Marianne have reviewed their own book on Amazon!  Hmm!  Their reviews are just part of the edgy, tacky fun in the book. You will not at all be bored with the book even if you are not a mom.  I have been reading this book when I have free moments while substitute teaching and it has prompted me to write funny notes to the regular teacher about his/her students.

Let me tell you a bit about Marianne’s part of the book and an example of how I identified. Both of us want our husband to be romantic. Marianne's husband says that "being married is like having a boss." (p. 38) I wanted a romantic statement when I interviewed my husband earlier on this blog and he said what he likes about me is that I feed him. Neither one of us get roses, etc., although Marianne was delighted to get a new computer chair. Only once when I was first engaged to my husband I got roses delivered to my school in Miami. Then a Valentine's Day after we had moved into our home, hubby got me an automatic garage door opener. I taught in public school then in this area and was interviewed by the high school news about my romantic gift. The youth who interviewed me didn't think a garage door opener was very romantic, but actually it has been wonderful to just drive into the garage and unload groceries so I can "feed" my husband. I think we have a theme going here in my marriage that extends even into our Alzheimer's period. I like finding things to chuckle about and Marianne is a master at that. Life can be too serious.

There are other similarities, but the hilarities of this book are what I want to feature here. Do not miss, and I repeat, do not miss her footnotes in the book. You will crack up. Marianne's wit and imagination far surpass Roseanne Barr or any other comedienne that I can think of (and I cannot think of many, you understand).

I love Marianne's adventures de-cluttering her closet, her angst about her carpet and making a "library" for herself. The carpenter calls it a "mud room" and she has to correct him that it is her "library'. Her three sons in 40 months had to stop and either she or her hubby got fixed, not sure who, but these sons were intruding on her bathroom time and she was totally a hoot writing about it. Near the end of the book she writes about her previous single life in the corporate world in the chapter "Back When I Was a Real Person Who Peed Alone".

Elementary school teachers need to read her book as she humorously writes about communications from the three schools her three sons attend and science projects. On Valentine's Day she couldn't send candy with her sons to public schools (she is fond of Reese's Pieces I think) and she bought pencils instead at Target. While at Target, another mother from her neighborhood said to her, "Well, I hope the kids enjoy their writing utensils. It's simply another reason I prefer the Catholic School System. Candy is not our enemy, Satan is." (p. 315) Then Marianne writes:
The exchange stayed with me all day. The continuous eviction of anything remotely fun from the public school system has left me dispirited. Even non-religious holidays are often re-named to avoid offending anyone. . . . Fed-up, I brought up the Catholic school option to my husand that evening. For a person known for her frugality, my desire to spend money on schooling instantly aroused my husband's suspicions. He started questioning my motives. . . .
Finally about 20 minutes of debate, he suddenly remembered my penchant for pilfering our darling children's Reese's Pieces. "Marianne, this is about the candy, isn't it?" (p. 315)
Love this book, Epic Mom.

If we can all find humor in life, we don't have to feel sorry for ourselves and take ourselves too seriously. I totally get imperfection. I wrote about my imperfection in Getting Off the Niceness Treadmill, and show you my horrible housekeeping when I post about The House That Cleans Itself on this blog. So many Christians I think have to show their perfect sides all the time. But grace doesn't have to do that.

Marianne talks about sibling rivalry with her sister in her book and perhaps I have some also with my brothers. "Don’t you have any shame?" my rocket scientist brother remarked recently about my YouTube talk on The House That Cleans Itself. My satellite scientist brother just said the talk was too long. (I find if difficult to stop talking when I am supposed to at Toastmasters.) I guess if you are a scientist you have to be perfect and I do think my younger, taller brothers are perfect, mind you. I just know I am not and am so glad that Jesus Christ died for my imperfections. Here is what one Christian comic said about sin.
From Facebook Posting

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Hubby Still Here and the LORD Is Already There

Thursday I prepared my husband for a date on Friday, even though he didn't realize it. I said, "Let's go out to dinner after you shower and shave." He did that. Behavior modification here. It seems one day is the same as the next day to him and even though 'shave" is on his list it doesn't always happen after I leave the house. We just went to Denny's Thursday night but then we checked out the Strawberry Festival and places to pick up a relative who was working for "Casting Crowns", a musical group playing Friday night at the festival.

Sure enough, when I came home Friday afternoon hubby had forgotten about going to the Strawberry Festival noted on his daily schedule, but he didn't have a bad beard and so was ready to go. Like clock work we picked up the relative and took him to an early dinner at Buddy Freddy's, a Plant City landmark near the Strawberry Festival grounds.

Niece's husband and myself in a cowboy hat
Boxes of strawberries picked from the fields in background
I am not sure that our cowboy hats impressed my relative, but we did have time to give him a tour of Plant City, including our home, strawberry fields, and the down town area.

Then the three of us went to the Strawberry Festival. Our relative went to set up for the concert and I went to the exhibits after my husband settled in at a warm booth with his strawberry short cake.
Amazing puzzle in exhitit

Before Alzheimer's, hubby had been able to walk around with me at the Strawberry Festival . This year he sat and had strawberry short cake while I had a little bit of time to check out exhibits. I am so over buying anything anymore and "The House That Cleans Itself" is not finished yet. Why would I want to put anything more in our home!

I  did enjoy seeing  Lakeland's Fabric Warehouse exhibit. I should explain that I am making quilts and my introduction to Fabric Warehouse several years ago at their Strawberry Festival exhibit had bumped up my ability to make quilts with a new sewing machine and with their ideas. I also liked seeing FFA (Future Farmers of America) school exhibits and since I substitute often in Agriculture I can talk about their exhibits. The school I wrote about recently won first place for their exhibit.

When I had a chance last week while substitute teaching, I re-read a helpful book, knowing that I would test out its ideas at the concert last night--that is if I could actually get my husband to the concert. It appeared touch and go. I kept checking back with him while he sat with his coffee and strawberry short cake. It was a little chilly and he thought maybe we should go home instead. I encouraged him that we came to see the 7:30 pm concert.

About 7 pm we headed for our seats. The Queen of the Strawberry Festival with her court came on stage to greet the audience and told the audience to enjoy the "worship" experience. Yes, "Casting Crowns" is a Christian group and yes, my husband, I could tell, was able to worship. Me too, after a long week or working. I wanted to know about live music and my husband's abilities to enjoy a concert, even if later he wouldn't remember it. Sure enough we had great seats near the front and were able to enjoy the concert. My husband was throughly engaged in the concert, swaying to the music and even standing to enjoy the event at times. He was warm enough (we both had hats on and a blanket for our laps). Dr. Zeisel in I'm Still Here emphasizes that the dramatic arts including older movies are so good for Alzheimer's patients.

My husband is still here!  

Also so moving to me was the messages in the songs and one song especially that

the LORD is already there

He knows the end of this Alzheimer's journey. Thank you, Casting Crowns, for a wonderful concert.