Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Last Primrose of Summer?

Two weeks ago, the Tree Hugger predicted that our last evening primrose would bloom that night. Although the plant is gradually going dormant, it bloomed last night and looks as if it has a few more blooms to go. Meanwhile, the hummingbirds visit the feeders constantly, getting ready for their arduous trip to Mexico.

Monarch butterfllies winter in Mexico as well. I had hoped to capture a photo of the enormous Joe Pye weed in our backyard laden with butterflies. Unfortunately, we've seen hardly a single butterfly this year. The Joe Pye weed will soon be past its prime. I was so concerned about the absence of butterflies that I've joined in order to find out why. A woman in suburban northern VIrginia thought that our cooler-than-usual spring and extensive spraying were probably to blame. So sad.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Whoa is Me!

If I weren't seriously allergic to horses, I would jump on one and gallop off to the four winds. Just sitting on a horse causes me to wheeze, sneeze, and weep, so scratch that idea.

I am weary of tangled, non-sequitur exchanges. Mom is fiercely protective of the laundry room, even though she has forgotten how to operate both the washer and dryer. She still wants to fold our laundry, which is fine with me, except that she can't manage kingsize sheets and bluejeans. She also seems to think I need her permission to use my own machine.

"What's in the machine? Why are you washing today?" she'll demand, with fire in her eye.

This week, I tossed a net bag full of her panty hose into a load of our wash. Draped them over her basket to dry. A little later, I found them arrayed across the stop of the recliner in our family room.

"These are your stockings," she announced. "I found them on my basket."

"They're not mine, Mom. They're yours. See, they're 'control top'. They're not mine."

"Well, they're certainly not mine, so they MUST be yours."

"Mom, I haven't worn pantyhose since Easter. They're yours."

She shook her head doubtfully and left them on the chair. The next day, she said, "I was awake half the night worrying about those stockings. Who could be coming in to use our machine?"

Yesterday I had all the carpets in the house steam-cleaned. Violet, our daughter's dog, who comes here week-days for Doggy Day Care, has a delicate stomach. Our livingroom carpet looked awful. It was all besplotched with a year's worth of spot-cleaned doggy vomit and worse. I finally decided that Violet probably can't tolerate the afternoon snack of sliced American cheese that Mom hands out. A couple of days ago, I asked Mom to stop giving the dogs cheese and bought her a bag of "Beggin' Strips" to give them instead.

Later, she summoned me.

"Why did you buy me two of these?" she asked, pointing to the bag of snacks.

"Two of what?"

She shook her head impatiently at my stupidity, opened her cupboard, and triumphantly produced an unopened jar of instant coffee, which she set down beside the snack bag.

"Mom, those are two different things. That's your Maxwell House."

"You mean Maxwell House is now making dog snacks?"

"No. I got you those snacks because I don't want you giving cheese to Violet anymore. It makes her vomit."

She had a new, irritating mannerism. After I "spout off" about something, she makes a silent "O" with her mouth and shakes her head "yes," as if humoring an ill-tempered grouch.

After the carpet cleaners left, the Tree Hugger, the Grandson, and I went to the Baltimore Aquarium for the afternoon. Back home, I found a huge puddle of watery vomit on the newly-cleaned carpet.

"Mom, did you give Violet a slice of cheese this afternoon?"

"Of course I did. You know how she loves cheese. I always give both dogs cheese in the afternoon."

"But that's why I got you the 'Beggin' Strips', Cheese makes Violet sick."

"You told me that Ramsey was the one who gets sick."

Later on, I found the "Beggin' Strips" on our kitchen counter. As with the pantyhose left on the chair, this means, "These are not mine, so they must be yours."

Just as I settled down with my book before bedtime, her door opened. "What's this?" she demanded.

"It's your Polident for Partials."

"Look what I found inside the box." She showed me the last two Polident tablets in the box, still in their foil wrappers.

"Well, those packets say 'Polident/partials'. What's wrong with them?"

"Well, they're not the same. Why can't they just leave things alone!"

I went to the closet where I keep her extras. Several months ago I ordered a half dozen boxes of Polident for Partials for her. She's gone through half of them. None of the remaining boxes says "New" or "Improved" or "Now with Green Tea Anti-Oxidants!"

I don't know. I don't know. I just don't know.

Friday, August 22, 2008

WAY Too Much Fun with Hearing Loss

Next Wednesday I go to see about a new hearing aid, to replace the one that didn't survive the spin cycle. I can't wait.

I had an OMG moment when I thought I heard them say, "Condoleeza Rice has died in Poland." Actually, she had just ARRIVED in Poland.

Then there were Goya's pagans, as in "He composed a series of pieces inspired by Goya's pagans."
Make that "Goya's paintings."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Uncle Dan's Clocks

In his later years, one of Phil's uncles liked to take his collection of old clocks to weekend flea markets. It didn't really matter to Uncle Dan whether he sold a clock or not. He just liked to get out and meet people.

One day a customer asked Uncle Dan how much he wanted for the whole collection. Uncle Dan wasn't really interested in selling, so he named an outrageously high price. SOLD! To Uncle Dan's surprise, the customer pulled a wad of money from his pocket and paid cash on the spot.

No one knows if the loss of his clocks had anything to do with it, but within a year, Uncle Dan was dead.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Sunday Afternoon in Late Summer

It's a beautiful Sunday afternoon, sunny and warm, with low humidity. Mom and her cat, Georgie, are lounging on their screened porch. Mom asked me, "Is your mother at home today?"

I re-read Mom the letter she got this week from her 95-year-old friend in Canada. His family operates a marina on Georgian Bay. He wrote that his son, while weeding the flower bed, was startled to see a black bear mosey by. The bear paid him no heed. A black bear has been sighted around here in recent weeks as well. He ambled through nearby Anne Arundel County and ended up in Arbutus, a suburb of Baltimore, where he was shot with a tranquilizing dart. This bear has been borne away to an "undisclosed location" in western Maryland.

Summer is a-going out. The shadows are longer, the afternoon sun not quite as bright. Brown-leafed black-eyed susans are giving way to goldenrod. Phil says our last evening primrose will bloom tonight.

Mom told Phil the other day that she'll be gone in another six months. We went this week to have her hair washed, even though "those girls don't know how to do my hair." She brings a vial of hot-oil treatment with her to the salon. Should I order more? We have enough for just three or four more monthly visits.

Tomorrow I am taking her to the dentist. When we leave, the receptionist will make an appointment for February. Will Mom still be around then?

A 90-day supply of her heart pills just arrived by mail.
I find myself asking, "Will this prescription have to be refilled?"

Friday, August 15, 2008

Even More Fun with Hearing Loss

I'm not even going to tell you how I killed my hearing aid. Let's just say that it got wet.
It's been two days now. I fed it a new battery, but it wasn't interested. It's angry, and still playing dead.
At least I hope it's only playing. I'd buy it candy and flowers, but I think our affair may be over.

The next available appointment with the audiologist is August 27th. That's a long time to be without my friend.

Sometimes well-meaning people gush, "You're so lucky! My father needs aids in both ears!"

All I can say is, "Now, think about that for a moment." OK, I need only one hearing aid, but it's because I am completely deaf in the other ear. How did this happen? We think I lost the hearing in my right ear at age 3, when I had spinal meningitis. I am not complaining. I survived meningitis and the hearing in the left ear was good enough for me to get by for many years without help.

The audiologist doubts that meningitis was the culprit. He says that meningitis usually inflicts equal damage on both ears.

My first memory of being affected by my hearing loss was choosing a desk at the back of the room on my very first day of school and having my dad say, "No, you have to sit up front." Another effect is never knowing where sounds are coming from. Everything seems to originate on the left, whether it's an approaching fire truck or a friend trying to get my attention in the supermarket. I'll turn to try and locate my friend , who's laughing and saying, "Over here! Over here!" Even with a hearing aid, I miss punch lines, because people's voices tend to fall at the end of a sentence. Meetings can be a nightmare, because I understand speech better when I can look at the speaker. Someone's talking, but where are they?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Virgin Boom Magazine

I got a phone call yesterday from a man mumbling about "virgin-(unintelligible) renewal."

"Sorry, " I said, "I'm waiting for an important phone call. I can't talk to you now," and hung up.

Today someone else called to talk some more about virgins.

"Hello, ma'am, I'm calling about the renewal of your subscription to 'Virgin-Boom' magazine."

Me, in my coldest, haughtiest tone: "I am sure that I don't subscribe to any such publication."

"Well, ma'am, according to our records, your subscription to 'Birds and Blooms' is about to expire."