Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Two New Year Items

Tutoring at my house

Esteban was one neighbor who helped me with my husband and I have been tutoring him. At the end of my husband's life, my husband thought Esteban his son. My husband in his mind was living in an earlier time period. I kept reminding him that I was his loving wife and he did recognize people he saw regularly such as Kenny, Sally, Jake and myself.

Esteban is fifteen and in eighth grade which tells you that he has not passed some school years.  I just have that access in his middle school because I am known as Mrs. Johnson the substitute as well as MC AC The Rap Lady who raps at the end of good classes.  I decided I would do something about this young man after my husband died--help him in school.

Now this young man had been living with his uncle (not Kenny) near me, but had been kicked out of that house and was back with his single mother and four sisters.  I learned where he lived when I saw him at school--a mobile home about two miles from me. In the fall I started to take him out for supper at Plant City's Snellgroves or at Denny's for our public tutoring sessions. No more coming to my neighboring home, as he is not a neighbor now.

I found out that his older sister had dropped out of high school because of the bullies and encouraged her to get back in school. She and her mother promised me she would return for her second semester in February.

Those bullies won, Sweetheart,  I said.
You get back in school! 

It occurred to me that Esteban just wanted to follow the same path as that sister when he turned 16--be a school dropout.

So, I devised a plan.  Before I flew out of town for what we used to call "Christmas break", I went to all of his academic teachers.Those academic teachers all have my email and even cell phone.

We used to have two cell phones--one for my husband and one for me. I would pay for a cell phone for Esteban if he could pass this first semester with only Cs and Ds in Science, Math, History, Language Arts and Reading. He would have to work very hard over vacation and in January to pass. Then in the semester starting in February if a teacher took his cell away because he used it in class, I would not pay for that cell phone service any more. Strict behavioral modification! Find out what works for a young person. 

Monday, December 15 I substituted at his school and he was told in no uncertain terms that I was to tutor him Tuesday night. Tuesday December 16th we were scheduled for tutoring at night--only Esteban missed the bus and didn't have his work. Wednesday December 17th I called his house and got no answer. I went to his house and found him walking home--he had missed the bus. I drove him to school and got a school visitor pass and went to all his teachers. I told them again of my plan to help him, despite the fact he is a bit lazy--really an understatement. I told them again that they can contact my cell and my email. I got the study sheets for his Math final, and was loaned both a Science and a Math book. The teachers have promised to contact me.

Stay tuned and please pray
for Esteban and 
for my possible move.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Widow's Christmas

Christmas used to be very Swedish for me--Swedish food and decorations as started by my 100 % Swedish mother. Dad was 1/2 Swedish and 1/2 Norwegian so we could expect things like Potatiskorv (potato sausage) that Mom would get from a delicatessen in California. Pepparkakor cookies were always a delight at Christmas. There were other things that my brothers and I sort of were forced to eat, but didn't like.

However, the Swedish decorations I grew up with were important. If I were decorating for Christmas as I did last year while my husband was alive, there would be plenty of Swedish. And after all, there are plenty of evidences of Sweden in my family room and in my kitchen throughout the year.  Some of the Swedish items are mainly displayed in the pictured corner cabinet. I do not have a husband now to decorate for and I am out of town. (There are a few wreaths on the front windows, however.)

The year after my mother passed away, my father was in the hospital at Christmas. I went to the hospital cafeteria and got my lunch and brought it to my Dad's room and we both cried because Mom was gone. That ideal Swedish Christmas was forever gone when my mother passed away. Usually every year I try to have a Swedish Christmas, more or less.

My first husband was in a Miami hospital one Christmas following surgery. On December 26 I called his hospital room and he was out of breath; I called the hospital and rushed there. I was not allowed in his room while a team was trying to revive him. But he died of a heart attack--the day after Christmas. They say your "firsts", your first holiday, after your loved one dies will be hard. I know this, so this year I am at my brother's home because . . .

Fortunately I have wonderful, welcoming family in Huntsville, Alabama and have spent maybe a dozen Christmases with my brother's family over the years. My niece and nephew have their own families now and I love seeing their children that live nearby.

I have asked my family what they want if I pass away.

"We want the Swedish decorations," they say. 

I am happy to pass these on. I realize that I have had more Swedish Christmas traditions than the average home in the actual country of Sweden. 

Jessica Lidh writes:HERE
For decades, my family has celebrated Christmas the same way, every year. I grew up listening to my grandmother tell me, “This is how the Swedes do it, how your relatives did it. So this is how we do it.” It didn’t really matter to me that my grandmother is actually a second-generation Swedish-American and not truly Swedish. (In fact, my closest relative to celebrate a legitimate Swedish Christmas would be my great-great-grandparents, who came to America in the late 1800s.) What mattered was the fact that we were replicating the traditions and customs of my ancestors, my roots, my people. 
This is how my family celebrates Christmas. On Christmas Eve, we have dinner, complete with Swedish meatballs, lingonberry preserves, ham and Swedish prayer followed by an evening service at my grandparents’ Lutheran church. On Christmas morning we open presents from Santa, and eat a Swedish brunch of potatiskorv (potato sausage) and äggröra (egg gravy). 
We saw the new movie "Annie" here in Huntsville and I cried at the end. I do not know why I cried:  is because I am a widow that I cried, or if it is because I was happy that Annie found a new home? Tears of a widow are complicated. I think of the Christmas song, I'll Be Home for Christmas, and I guess home for me might be  Huntsville, Alabama--not Plant City, Florida. I expect I will move to Huntsville sooner or later.

I prepared for this Christmas. I sent out greetings early. I mailed gifts early and even mailed some of my clothes there so I didn't have to pay for extra luggage on the flight. But it's not just one day, Christmas, but every day I am glad that I have a Christian faith. 


Hugs and Merry Christmas,

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Looking for Those Cures

Erase Alzheimer's in three short weeks! Then it wants you to stay on the page! It's a money scam you can bet. I didn't stay on that page because I smelled a rat.

Elaine Pereira is much more realistic. Alzheimer's can be in the brain ten years before it starts to appear she writes HERE.  
Alzheimer’s is a real, fatal, progressive disease with no treatments. It is not just a quirky personality change. 
Because of how the disease affects the individual’s brain, their personality is affected usually causing adverse changes. Hostility, paranoia, suspicion are frequent first indications in otherwise kind individuals.

Elaine has a book about her mother's illness as pictured and it can be ordered at Amazon. We caregivers are all writing and blogging about this disease.

I used to write here about coconut oil which I gave my husband consistently. Coconut oil did not cure my husband. I tried! However the Johnny Byrd Alzheimer's Center was doing a study. They sort of dismissed us when I told them we were using it. It certainly didn't hurt my husband and it does have medical benefits. I think that coconut oil calmed him down. Dr. Mary Newport who wrote the best seller even acknowledges that it isn't curing her husband Steve. She now works for hospice.

Marijuana will not be the cure I bet. Marijuana is being studied by the Johnny Byrd Alzheimer's center.

Those medicines we give our loved ones (Nameda, Exelon, Aricept) may prolong the illness, but not stop it. My husband took Nameda and Exelon almost until the end. When Hospice came to our home, we stopped them because they helped me see he was in his last stage where it wouldn't help. See this study.

In my husband's case, his Mixed Dementia caught up with us. Stable for so long the Vascular Dementia 
took over and he quickly went downhill. Had he just had Alzheimer's he might have lived longer. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

"A Christmas Memory"

One day recently while substitute teaching I read a thoughtful piece by Truman Capote. I almost cried, but I was with students and didn't think it was wise.  “A Christmas Memory” is about his friend who calls him Buddy, an elderly cousin and what they did to get ready for Christmas. They made and gave away fruit cake and went to the woods to cut down a tree and decorated it with homemade ornaments. They made each other kites for Christmas. 

The reflection ends:
This is our last Christmas together. Life separates us. Those who Know Best decide that I belong in a military school. And so follows a miserable succession of bugle-blowing prisons, grim reveille-ridden summer camps. I have a new home too. But it doesn’t count. 
Home is where my friend is, and there I never go. And there she remains, puttering around the kitchen. Alone with Queenie.  Then alone.  (“Buddy dear,” she writes in her wild hard-to-read script, “yesterday Jim Macy’s horse kicked Queenie bad. Be thankful she didn’t feel much. I wrapped her in a Fine Linen sheet and rode her in the buggy down to Simpson’s pasture where she can be with all her Bones. . . . “). 
For a few Novembers she continues to bake her fruitcakes single-handed; not as many, but some: and, of course, she always sends me “the best of the batch.” Also, in every letter she encloses a dime wadded in toilet paper: “See a picture show and write me the story.” But gradually in her letters she tends to confuse me with her other friend, the Buddy who died in the 1880’s; more and more, thirteens are not the only days she stays in bed: a morning arrives in November, a leafless birdless coming of winter morning, when she cannot rouse herself to exclaim: “Oh my, it’s fruitcake weather!” And when that happens, I know it. 
A message saying so merely confirms a piece of news some secret vein had already received, severing from me an irreplaceable part of myself, letting it loose like a kite on a broken string. That is why, walking across a school campus on this particular December morning, I keep searching the sky. As if I expected to see, rather like hearts, a lost pair of kites hurrying toward heaven.

Thinking about Christmas 2013 
with my late husband. 
The kites are flying. 
So glad for my faith
in Jesus Christ and that 
my husband is with Him. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Getting My Creativity Back

Port-a-Potties at Best Buy
Wrote two new pieces. I must admit I had inspiration--Black Friday happenstance and a comment from 18 year old Joshua whom I substituted for in September. Ideas take time to jell, but not this Black Friday ditty below.

I am not a Black Friday shopper, but it turned out I was hanging out with Sally and Jake on Black Friday. My car was getting new tires (actually received Black Friday discount) and we went to Best Buy so they could buy a certain item for their granddaughter.

Found out that Best Buy had people camped out Thanksgiving night (Gray Thursday) and they provided potties for their customers! I had to take a picture! I had to write new lyrics to Rocking Around the Christmas Tree. 

Waiting in line on Gray Thursday 
And is it ever cold! 
All I want is in the display 
Get it before it’s sold. 
Waiting in line on Gray Thursday
Let the big discounts be mine 
Later I’ll have some pumpkin pie 
My day off has been so fine.  
You might get a jealous feeling 
When ’er you hear 
All I got for my money 
To deck my halls to be so pretty. 
Waiting in line on Gray Thursday 
Sleeping in on Black Friday 
If I missed some big discount 
I’ll get it Cyber Monday. (Music) 
Waiting in line on Gray Thursday 
And is it ever cold 
All I want is in the display 
Get it before it’s sold. 
Waiting in line on Gray Thursday 
Let the big discounts be mine 
Later I’ll have some pumpkin pie 
My day off has been so fine.  
You seem to have some special feeling 
You say that I’ve been missing? 
Gratefulness for what makes me jolly 
Ingratitude yes ‘tis my folly.  
Thinking about what I’ve been missing 
With all these new traditions 
Ingratitude for faith and family 
Three new days of acquisitions 
Three new days of getting stuff.
I guess I am commenting on how materialistic we are becoming, so to get the bargain we sacrifice family time to wait in line for stuff.  I will share this ditty at Toastmasters like I did my snow birds piece two years ago. See HERE for Summer Wonderland that goes to the music for Winter Wonderland. That post shows celebrating my husband's 75th birthday--so glad we did that.

The occasion for the new rap topic came from Joshua, an 18 year old who said, Mrs. Johnson, write a rap about children having children. I did and it might not be politically correct as adults point out to me, but all the students I have tried it out on like it.
Think, think, think 
You think you're entitled
       Your passions are unbridled 

           You’re barely out of toys
And you’re into boys
You think you’ll be a bride 
But he took you for a ride 
‘Cause he’s given you a distortion 
Of love that’s really hormones
And you’ll have a child 
While you’re still one yourself 
That daddy’s gonna hide 
But we’ll be by your side 
And don’t get an abortion 
Think about adoption

Yes, the diapers start to stink 
All because you didn’t 
Think, think, think 
You don’t have a job 
You can’t go out and rob 
Laundry will be piled 
Welfare will be filed 
‘Cause you didn’t abstain 
And there’s little to gain 
You didn’t think think think 
Yes, it’s time to refrain 
Don’t have a child
While you’re still one yourself.
I also am enjoying rapping for strangers--for example young people who offer to take my groceries to the car. Saturday I saw the latest Hunger Games movie (students I sub for will see it) and I shared my Boredom Games rap with the young woman selling me my movie ticket. She giggled at this 70 year old rapper and I told her about my YouTube channel for MC AC The Rap Lady that is scheduled to have ten more raps up soon.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Getting My Momentum Back

Tuesday I had a lovely breakfast with Kristi who understands grieving from her own path of suffering. She is giving back however. She and her husband have taken in the husband's disabled sister and twenty-something Kristi is making the best of the situation, gradually getting her momentum back. Kristi shared Scripture with me that has helped her and suggested after discipline (doing things she didn't have the momentum to do) the feelings of wanting to take care of her home and sister-in-law came back. Here we were two women almost fifty years in age difference relishing how the LORD is helping us.

Even though it is hard, it is time I get my momentum back after being a caregiver and becoming a widow. Thankful I am able-bodied. START and the spunk will come back.

Here are my 15 momentum starter strategies and things I am thankful for: 
  1. Rejoining Weight Watchers. Food still can be fun. I am in no way perfect with my diet, but enjoy the 7 am Weight Watcher group I am in. 
  2. Studying my sleep patterns with the Weight Watchers Active Link.Planning 30 minute naps. See HERE
  3. Having a week off to get things done (November 24-28) and to be there for Sally whose car is in the shop. 
  4. Getting on the treadmill. Walked on the cruise and three miles at the Alzheimer's Association WALK TO END ALZHEIMER'S.
  5. Having yard sales and very conscious of what still needs to leave the house to be able to downside for a move maybe sometime in the next ten years. Meanwhile trying to take care of business at the house including home repairs. 
  6. Writing raps again. After a year of not writing raps, finally wrote one and am testing it out when I substitute teach. The topic, "children having children", was a suggestion from an 18-year-old high school boy. He wanted someone to speak up on this topic.  The students so far like it. Meanwhile very shortly ten of my recorded raps will be on YouTube to add to the other three videos. 
  7. Taking the anti-depressant Paxil every three days now instead of daily as at the start. In December I will not take this anti-depressant. 
  8. Giving back. I daily email other caregivers. I am tutoring Esteban. 
  9. Taking time for others. Went to a movie with another widow recently. 
  10. Making a list of what I am thankful for and telling people. Went out and thanked my mail lady Connie. 
  11. Planning ahead for Christmas. 
  12. Keeping a ridged budget and attempting to refinance the house so I can pay off credit cards.  
  13. Arranging my workspace for the dissertation on caregiving. Started working on it again after months of doing nothing on it. 
  14. Being able to clean the floors. (My husband used to do this for the first years of our marriage and it has been hard for me emotionally to do it.)
  15. Making progress with managing grief and being thankful. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Getting Hacked on Facebook

Friday night it became apparent that someone was impersonating me on Facebook.

Almost thirty of my friends fell for the scam. One engaged the impostor.

Engager: How is you husband?
Impostor: Fine.

HMM. My husband passed away from dementia at the end of June. My friend knew there was a problem! 

Dana received these messages from the impostor me on Facebook and, the English teacher that I am, I edited this uneducated scammer:
I’m so happy now because many good things are happening to me and am thanking God for that. It’s an empowerment program to help people especially the senior citizen, adult, youth. I have received mine from them already. The FedEx delivery service came to my doorstep and delivered cash of $300,000 to me in person.
About the 2014 empowerment program in conjunction with Facebook Yearly Bonus—the program is basically to help people to maintain a good standard of living in the entire community and there are prizes to me won. 
All right. I wonder if you have heard about the good news yet.

Dana: Did you open a new Facebook account?

Impostor: No, I did some re-setting so I have to re-add some of my friends. I hope everything is going well with you.

Dana told me As soon as the money was mentioned my suspcions were confirmed and she she unfriended immediately before he/she could steal her identiy. 

Then Dana messaged the real me on Facebook.

Dana: Carol, are you talking to me on a different Facebook page? I think you’ve been hacked. I unfriended your new account until I know it’s you.

The real me: I did not make a new Facebook account.

Dana: Sorry that happened to you! I could smell baloney! I knew it was out of character for you. 

The real me: This could become a blog post.

Dana: Haha! Yes it could. Have you recently accepted any new friend requests?

The real me: No, but I as at an unsecured WiFi Panera Bread [south of Plant City in perhaps the unincorporated Beaslville area] with my small notebook computer open and my iPhone on. Someone was sitting not far from me staring at me. I asked him if he knew me and he said no. The help section of Facebook is confusing to make a report.

Dana: That was him!! I’m sure! Sorry it’s confusing. Keep trying. Tell that story.

The real me: I will. The next Plant City Lady post. Did you LIKE that plantcityladyandfriendsblogspot so it will come to your computer?

Dana: I’m not sure. I may only read it when you share your blogs on your FB page.

The real me: I probably should share on FB. I don’t share all my blog posts on FB.

Then Dana gave me permission to use her name. Thanks, Dana.

Now I noticed an unincorporated place on the imposter's FB--Bealsville. Good information for the Plant City Police. That place is now gone on the impostor's page. 

I talked with a friend's computer-savvy husband last night and he explained to me the dangers of WiFi. Technology is being used to take advantage of us!  

This morning I talked with my neighbor whose FB page was hacked several years ago. You just change your password, she explained and one of her friends called Apple and took care of it while she was on vacation. I learned from her to not take my devices open to a WiFi establishment.

I finally had time to do change my password last night. It wasn't so easy on Facebook HELP, and I didn't call Apple.  I used this site to do it.

As of this morning, 13 of my friends are on the impostor's friend list. He has no other friends as others have unfriended him. 

Here is how you unfriend someone as I wrote on Facebook:

To delete this hacker impostor of me, go to your Timeline Wall by your picture at the top right next to the word Home. Click on your name. Then click on Friends. A list will come up. Scroll down until you see the false me. Check to see if it just has two pictures. I have a lot of photos on the real one. Then for this false one with pictures that just were added click on the tab that has the check Friends rectangular button. At the bottom of it find Unfriend.

Someone taking advantage of a senior! I had that as I reported HERE. That post has had over 400 views (more than the 300 or so views when my husband died).  I did get my money back. I have dealt with an Internet bully also, and that bully turned around.

Hey, seniors! 
Hey anyone!

I can't punch my impostor in the face, but I can report him/her to the police in Plant City! I can encourage that they reform before they are arrested.