Thursday, August 26, 2010

Freaky Story Time at the Nursing Home

Thursday, August 26, 2010
A friend of mine visits her mother at a nursing home every day. While she’s on a brief vacation, I’m checking in on her mom for her, and yesterday was my first visit. Because of my volunteer work, I’ve been on countless nursing home visits, so I feel like I’ve pretty much seen it all, as nursing home visits go. This was just one of the more charming - and alarming - ones.

When I took my friend’s mom, Virginia, into the dining room for a chat, another very sweet woman joined us. (And before long, a gentleman pulled up a chair, too, but he didn’t say much.) Virginia turned out to be a woman of few words. She experiences some confusion and doesn’t always find the right words to express herself. The other woman, though, speaks very well and seemed to have much to say.

She told me that she’s a widow who had no children, and her only brother lives in California. She said she rarely gets visitors and talked about how much she misses her husband. Then she shared that she’d been married twice, the first time when she was very young. Up to this point, I thought this dear lady was in the nursing home for physical reasons only, because she seemed very sharp mentally.

Then she began telling me this long story about how she left her first husband in Virginia, because his mother and sister didn’t want him marrying a “damned Yankee”. And when he offered to drive her back to Michigan, she said she refused his offer and walked back home, singing the whole way. (She said she loves to sing.) That’s when I started to question her lucidity.

But then she told me she’d walked around the world, starting in China and on into Russia, where the Czar had her on the throne next to him and asked her to sing for him. And I knew that this elegant woman definitely had dementia. I did enjoy her beautiful and animated story that went on for about 20 minutes and which would make a lovely children’s book. (Hmmm, now there’s a thought.)

The alarming part of my visit was when the story-telling woman told me that she was 95 years told (as it turns out, she’s 85). I responded that she looked 20 years younger than that and that her skin was beautiful, which it is. She then told me that I looked young and that I have no wrinkles. I assured her that I do have some, and that’s when Virginia chimed in. She said, “Your wrinkles will be gone when you’re 63. And so will you.” Well, that was a first. I kept smiling and asked, “What do you mean, Virgnia?” She said, “You’re gonna die when you’re 63.”

Now I have to admit that I got a little chill when she said that. And I reminded myself that she’d uttered some gibberish earlier, so she probably didn’t realize what she was saying. Or did she? I can’t wait ‘til my friend comes home from her trip, so that I can ask her if her mom is a psychic! In the meantime, I’m going there again today, and you can bet that I’ll be listening to her every word. And who knows - maybe I’ll even make better use of the years I have left!
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Dinner Out With the Women of the ‘Hood

Just over a week ago, one of my neighbors sent an email to several of the women in our subdivision about getting together to see “Eat, Pray, Love” and having dinner afterward. I knew I would be seeing it with a group of my friends last Friday, but I decided that I’d go again, because I loved the book and figured I’d miss stuff the first time through the movie. Plus, the company would be good, and I’d get to meet one of our new neighbors.

Unfortunately, I’ve had a miserable cold and am still coughing too much to spend any amount of time in a theater. So I told them I’d meet them for dinner after the show. One of them took my cell phone number and said she'd call me when they got out of the theater to let me know where they were going for dinner. (She said it would probably be at one of two restaurants in the same shopping complex as the theater.)

So I sat in the theater parking lot from 9:10 (the show gets out at 9:20) until almost 9:45. I didn't see any of them walking out, but there are 30 theaters there, so I could easily have missed them. I finally called the husband of the woman who was supposed to call me and asked for her cell number. No answer. So I called the husband of the other woman I know and got her cell number. When I reached her, she said she was driving her friend home, because they decided not to go to dinner. And she didn't know where the others were going.

So I drove to the parking lot of one of the restaurants and was going to go in and look for the one neighbor that I’d recognize. Just then the first woman called me to say that most of the others had to work in the morning, so they all decided to go home, rather than stop for dinner.

There I sat in the lonely parking lot. I had put on my makeup at 7:00 p.m. just for this outing, and had labored over deciding what to wear, trying on different shoes and pieces of jewelry. Then I rushed out the door, forgetting my cell phone, and had to go back home for it, since it was the only way I’d know where to meet them. And it was all for nothing. Plus, by that time (10:00), I was starving.

After I laughed my ass off at all the fuss over nothing, I made the best of it. I called my husband and asked what he’d like from PF Chang’s, and we had great carry-outs! (So glad they’re open ‘til 11:00 on week nights!) It ended up being a fine evening, after all.
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Friday, August 20, 2010

The Nut Job I Met on a Garden Walk

Friday, August 20, 2010

A couple of years ago, I went with a friend on a garden walk in and around Romeo, Michigan. Even though I’m a Master Gardener, I don’t usually go on garden walks, because it’s too damned hot for me to be outside. (Most of my gardening is growing orchids under lights in my basement, because I hate the heat.) But it wasn’t very hot that day, there weren’t many gardens on the list and the company was good.

Everything was fine until we came to the last house. We were greeted by a sweet old couple and their dog. They chatted and were very friendly, while pointing out various interesting plants in their front yard. When we got to the back of the house, I was perplexed by the small animal live traps littering the yard. So I asked the man what he was trying to catch, imagining it was rats, or something equally disgusting. Well, I couldn’t believe my ears when he said the traps were for squirrels. I figured he was relocating them, but I couldn’t imagine why. After all, I feed three kinds of squirrels in my yard and love having them.

He explained that the huge trees in the yard were walnut trees and that the squirrels were stealing his walnuts. So I asked where he takes the squirrels, and he said, “To the kitchen.” Then a feeling of horror washed over me, as he went on to explain that he cooks the squirrels and feeds them to his dog. He smiled and said something about the dog being really healthy.

I was sickened. This was a suburban neighborhood, not a freaking farm in the wilderness. Aren’t squirrels protected from nut jobs like him?! And the two of them looked so sweet and innocent – who’d have figured they were serial killers? Haven’t gone on a garden walk since! : )

Note: According to the DNR, if you have a crop and an animal is destroying it, the animal can be considered a “nuisance” and be destroyed. Even in the city. I think that’s insane.

Photo by turtlemom4bacon
Title: Project 366 2008 - March 13, 2008 - My first squirrel photo
http://www.flickr.com/photos/turtlemom_nancy/2331816654/
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Saturday, August 14, 2010

I Have to Curb My "Creative Parking"

Saturday, August 14, 2010
Recently, I went to a local lab for some blood work. Parking is in a structure, and empty spots close to the entrance are usually in short supply. And if you allow just enough time to get to the appointment, like I do, you need a spot close to the door. So, if I don’t see a parking spot as I drive up the ramp, I end up parking in an area that’s not designated as such.

No, it’s nowhere near a handicapped spot – I’d never park there! It’s just an out-of-the-way mini lane that happens to be conveniently empty almost every time I’m there. So I make sure I have my purse and magazines, or whatever else I think I’ll need, in my hands, and I pull in very quickly. Then, if no other cars or people are right there, I get out in a hurry and walk briskly to the door. If there are cars or people going past me, I stay very still until they’re gone, and then I leave my car. Well, that’s what I did the other day. It’s like a little game that I enjoy winning.

When I leave the lab, I stand at the entrance to the garage, as if I’m waiting for someone. And then, when the cars and people clear out, I scurry like a rat to my car, get in, start the engine and pull out as quickly as I can. If a guard passes before I can get out of my spot, I’ll sit there with my flashers on, as if I’m picking someone up. Have I got this down, or what?

Well, this time, I was hot and dying of thirst. So as I drove down the ramp, I grabbed the Diet Coke that had been in my purse while I walked the length of the hospital to the garage and unscrewed the cap. And – you guessed it - because of the jostling it took on my walk, it exploded as I unscrewed it. Before I could get the cap back on, the spray was everywhere. It was on the radio knobs, heat controls, dashboard, steering wheel, console, clock, windshield, ceiling and carpeting. And it was all over my pants. I couldn’t run the errands I’d planned for on the way home, and I was miserably uncomfortable in those pants.

It hit me immediately that the Universe was telling me it had had enough of my parking lot etiquette breaches. Okay, I got the message!
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Do Your Homework When Boarding Pet Birds

Recently, I saw an article in the newspaper about a pet store in Royal Oak, Michigan, that’s been around since the ‘50s. It’s still run by the family of the man who opened it over 50 years ago. And they board birds. That caught my eye, because I’ve boarded my birds only once, and it cost me $25 per day per bird. That certainly adds a lot to the cost of a vacation. So I decided to see what this place charged for boarding, and it was only $8 per bird per day.

Well, before I leave my birds anywhere, I have to feel comfortable with the place and the people who run it. So I stopped in to see the boarding area and ask some questions. The first person I spoke with told me that nobody ever gets to see the boarding area, which was the upper floor of the building, a split-level former house. I asked to see the owner and ended up talking with one of the original owner’s family members. That’s when I decided my birds would never be left there.

He told me that at any given time, they could board between 100 – 150 birds and that I’d need reservations for the holidays, because they usually get over 200 hundred birds then. I knew immediately why they wouldn’t allow anybody to see the boarding area. It had to look like a chicken coop, with cages stacked floor to ceiling, and it couldn’t possibly be clean enough for me.

This place was not huge – it appeared to be maybe a four-bedroom split-level house, with the downstairs broken into two sales areas for birds and fish. So that left the upper level bedrooms and bath(s). How in hell do you stuff that many birds into probably no more than 1,800 square feet and still maintain sanitary conditions? And even though they don’t require any vaccinations or testing for fatal avian diseases, the guy told me none of the boarded birds ever got sick from being there. How is that possible?

The birds never get out of their cages, and if your bird doesn’t get seed, you’d have to bring in your own food, because they feed at least some seed to all the birds. Seed is like the McDonald’s of bird food, being high in fat that’s meant to sustain outdoor birds that burn calories by flying most of the time.

The bottom line is I wouldn’t leave my dog at a kennel if I couldn’t see the facility, and I wouldn’t leave a child at a daycare if I couldn’t walk in unannounced and inspect the place. So why should I leave my parrots at a place like that? Obviously, there are a lot of na├»ve bird owners in the Detroit area. Fortunately for my parrots, I’m not one of them.
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Friday, August 13, 2010

A RWNJ is trying to take Michigan’s 9th Congressional District

Friday, August 13, 2010
Watch out, Michigan! There’s a right wing nut job trying to unseat Gary Peters in the 9th Congressional District in November. His name is Rocky Raczkowski. At least, that’s his name now – it used to be Andrew Edward Raczkowski. But it appears he wants to look like a prize fight contender, so I guess he thought Rocky would be more appropriate.

This is a guy who’s so right wing that he got Bat Shit Crazy Phyllis Schlafly to speak at a recent fundraiser. Remember her – the woman who chastised other women in the ‘70s for wanting jobs, while she worked as an attorney? Phyllis Schlafly has been the object of my utter disgust ever since. Having her speak at his fundraiser tells me all I need to know about good old Rocky. Makes him sound more like Bullwinkle.

But wait, there’s more. Rocky ‘s a Birther! According to the Rochester Citizen, this is what he said about the President’s citizenship at a forum in June:

“You have a president that seems to be, um … well … I don’t know if he even has been born in the United States, but … until I see a birth certificate.” Here’s a link to the story:

http://bit.ly/drqeqd

Well, his English just qualified him for the TeaKlan, even though he appears to have all his teeth. Have you been born in the United States, Rocky? And what about your wife – has she been born here, too? (What kind of name is Amalia Kaddo, anyway, Rocky? Is she here legally?)

The forum was sponsored by a Tea Party group. Now there’s a surprise – another arrogant scammer leading the gullible TeaSheep around by their noses. We don’t need him representing our interests.
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