At 5:30 AM, I literally sat up straight in bed.  I knew that there was no sleep to be had.  As I shuffled around the bedroom, MK asked me why I was up.  I responded, “Because I am awake.”  My internal alarm had gone off for some reason.  When it goes off, I heed its call!

I had slept well although seem to have experienced strange dreams.  Every so often I would somewhat awaken to mentally rehash the story line of the dream.  At that point, I wasn’t sure whether it was dream or reality.

So, up I am and set to making the coffee and then to a task I didn’t want to do later.  Before going to bed I had thrown a load of wash in.  Our front loading washer is wonderful, but unfortunately we didn’t follow a Koerner tenet, never to buy something when it is a new model.  Despite the fact that the Europeans have been successfully producing front loading washers for what seems like centuries, we Americans are new to it.  Our model works well but it took us a while to figure out its quirks.  One of the quirks is that you cannot leave the door closed as it will begin to take on a musty odor from the moldy matter it must be producing.  We also learned that you can use almost no detergent, it needs to be very small in volume.  Excess soap makes must as well, or so I am told.

So, I went down to the laundry room after my toilette and coffee production to deal with the laundry.  I knew that I had to deal with the issue of folding the laundry in order to place the new laundry on the racks.  That took a bit of time and then I was finally able to install the newly washed whites from last night.

It is now 6:30 AM and I am finally seated with my cup of coffee.  It is time to reflect on yesterday and today.  I got my coffee and took out the recycling and picked up the newspaper which is too large for Ali to deal with.  I almost killed myself on the slippery pavement which is ice covered from Snowmageddon and now has at least an inch of white fluffy snow.  Apparently we are going to have our record beaten this year.  In the past there were never more than three years in a row with over 50 inches of snow.  The past three years were over that limit and we were at 47 inches the other day.  I am guessing this is a “no brainer” and we shall have a new record. 

Yesterday was nice despite the less than auspicious beginning after our exercise foray.  We went to the nursing home to take clothing for MK’s mom.  Once there we learned that she had not been cooperating.  For us, news of this nature is never a surprise.  We dialogued with the nurses and staff, made them aware that we had two charges in the facility, which surprised a good many of them, and we informed them that we understand what they are going through and that we are very supportive.  We told them, as well, that MK’s mom is to get dressed each day and they are to try to make sure she gets in her rehab and tries to socialize a bit.  We even managed to get her to lunch and she seemed to enjoy it.  My mom was her usual self and doing fine with the situation although she hasn’t been eating as much.  She has lost weight and I think she may have gotten into some bad habits while waiting for her mouth to heal and for her new dentures.  Anyway, there is always something.

We saw The King’s Speech in the early part of the afternoon.  It was amazing from so many standpoints.  I was in awe of the way that the film was made and managed to keep you involved despite what seemed to be a very simple plot that wouldn’t be able to hold your attention for the whole film.  The actors, Colin Firth in particular, managed to totally convince the spectator of the seriousness of the undertaking.  The pain of “Bertie,” AKA King George VI, was evident, obvious, and strongly felt by the audience.  It was a great film and managed to keep us awake throughout the whole time, which at my age is how you can measure the interest of a film!

Did I mention it was snowing?  I just opened up the blinds so we can enjoy the beauty of the falling snow which is continuing to come down in a steady, but persistent way.

We ended up last night going to a Tapas Restaurant with one of MK’s colleagues and spouse.  We had a delightful dinner and then returned home.

Yesterday I also completed my tutoring schedule for the coming week.  I am tutoring two girls consistently each week and yesterday I received an e-mail from another who wants to make sure she understands The Stranger by Albert Camus, one of my all time favorite books. 

The kids are supposed to be heading north this morning for a Super Bowl Day of skiing.  I kind of thought that they were on an early schedule, Samantha is to spend time with “Mumma” and Papi today.  We shall see.  That newspaper seems to be inviting me to read it.  Now that I have my world in control and can approach it and see what is going on.

Oh yes, the Super Bowl.  Weirdo that I am, I am probably not watching it.  Honestly, had the Bears been involved, I would have at least attempted to watch a bit, maybe even more than a bit.  I shall be glad when the game is over; I am sure tired of being asked at the grocery store if my stockpiling is due to that celebration!  Traditionally, we always find something to do that is usually crowded, on this Sunday, during the game, crowded venues are amazingly empty and so much more enjoyable!

Time for some more coffee…


The blizzard arrives!

I went out somewhere around one o’clock or so to check on the grandmothers at Rosewood Nursing home. My mom was, as usual, the last one at the table, having barely touched her food. That is not unusual and the fact that she moves so little these days allows her diet to be limited in amount. She did eat her apple sauce and then her cake, and refused to leave until she had done so. She then drank her tea, although I was surprised that she wasn’t complaining that it was cold. She likes it piping hot and has never figured out that she is the cause of the drinking of less than hot tea, as it sits there forever while she completes her meal. She, like so many of us (who, me?) has a special routine for everything. I would like to think that her routines are a bit more obsessive than mine.

I was trying to move her along since I wanted to go visit my mother-in-law as well. I quizzed my mom about my mother-in-law and she said that she hadn’t seen her since her original arrival. I have to say that my mom and mother-in-law are both in the same wing on the second floor of the nursing home and my mother-in-law is, in fact, literally around the corner from her. My mother was very lucid today, as she usually is, she remembers all about my mother-in-law’s interesting character, I am thinking that that is why my mother didn’t roll her wheelchair around the corner! In any case, my mother-in-law has been stewing about the fact that she has to share a room and I did hear that she hoped not to room with my mom. I think that that is a good move.

My mother-in-law was in her bed, not dressed, as she likes to be. She was watching television but absorbing little, if any, of it. She was pleasant and she and my mother commiserated on the food, etc. in the nursing home.

I managed to get home somewhere around three o’clock, just as the winds had picked up and the snow started to fall. At four or so, I went out (as did Mikey to check the snow blower he will use when he goes out plowing with his brother) to shovel what there was as Mary Kay called and said she was on her way. She mentioned that her high school district was closed tomorrow as are seemingly all of the local school districts. The wind is gusty and the snow is moving furiously around as if in a tornado of sorts. With just about any hour of snowing in, there was plenty of snow to move. I ended up moving the two cars between the house and the fence hoping that they will provide enough coverage to keep that part of the driveway clean. It is a royal pain shoveling that section in heavy snow as the snow must be transported to either the front or back yard.

I brought in some wood, in case we want a fire and we are all set to settle in for the evening. Mikey had created a gourmet meal, although he denies it. He thinks it is a ho-hum type of meal. He coated chicken breasts and baked them in the oven. He made some fried potatoes and we are going to take some goat cheese circles, bake them and place them on salad to complete the dinner. I cannot wait.

So, welcome the first real blizzard in a long time, the blizzard of 2011!

Jury Duty

Today the Jury summons came. I am quite the content man, it was not for me. It was for my ninety year old mother!

The amusing thing is that once again bureaucracy manages to make something complicated out of something relatively easy. First of all, isn’t it odd that my nonagenarian mom would receive a summons when she is clearly elderly and the summons is tied into a database that should know that?

The other issue is that I perused the paperwork and decided that I would do it online, which it said you could. It did also, unless I am missing something, not give the actual website. I did find it, however.

So I fill it out, it is a page by page thing, and then I realize that it has ended, before the part of the paper copy, where you can disqualify yourself from duty for being over seventy and prefer not to serve. And when I went to save the page, it sent it in! So, despite the fact that it asks not to have you send the paperwork in if you have filed online, I did so.

Not only is the age a good reason, she also no longer lives in Lake County. I tried to change the address to her current nursing home, which is in Cook County, but they wouldn’t allow me to do so.

Honestly, given the way things are, maybe my mom with dementia might be a good juror! My mom is certainly more with it than the Lake County Jury System!

The funny thing about the jury duty thing is that I am convinced that some people are just meant to be called in for jury duty. I cannot believe that it took my mom ninety years of life to be asked. In my younger days, I served three times! I am one of the “chosen” and was called once (and served) in Cook county when I lived in that county. They called me again right after I moved to Lake County. While in Lake County, I have served twice. I just don’t get it. Why are some chosen and some not?

One of these days, this mystery might be solved!

Nana and the hospital, a love story


Nana is still in the hospital several days after her fall and subsequent delivery to the ER.  Although they cannot find anything physically wrong with her, she is still complaining of intense pain.  They have checked their scans and cannot come up with anything more than some issues with her back, but Nana is truly in her glory.

I have taken more than one call from the hospital, from the social worker and then from the occupational therapist.  Each one has questioned me on the situation, always first asking about my father-in-law.  The world my mother-in-law lives in has her at home with Dad.  He has been gone since October 1st of 2009.  Dementia and/or her need to have a pure Italian sense of mourning have caused her to ask us about the situation on an almost daily basis.  It is too sad for words.  She has obviously convinced the hospital personnel of his existence.

There seems to be no consensus as to her day of departure from the hospital.  Yesterday she was actually on morphine for the pain.  The occupational therapist was unable to work with her at all.  It reminds me of a situation a few years ago when she had knee replacement surgery.  She absolutely refused to work with the therapists and walk when they tried to get her to move within the proper time frame.  I ended up going in there and saying point blank to her that she needed to do what they were asking.  She actually listened to me.  That was a big surprise.  On the other hand, she did hand pick me for her daughter, and quickly told me that Mary Kay came with a piano! That dowry is sitting in our living room.  I only wish I could play it!

Perhaps this is good since Nana’s kitchen is undergoing renovation and maybe that would have been too stressful for her.  It appears that she will be coming home soon, we just don’t know when.

Now the latest is that she will be in the hospital for a few days and then, if appropriate, she will go to a nursing home for some rehab to get her back on her feet.  We are hoping she can go to the nursing home where my mom is. 

The saga of Nana continues…

What is happening? Day Two!

Yesterday was a bit insane.  We were in no rush to get to the hospital, given the history MK’s mom has and after having spoken to the nurse’s station in the ER.  In fact, they asked that we come in later.  I didn’t actually go, Mike and MK did, and they found a quite happy lady.  She was enjoying the attention and they finally decided to keep her for observation since she was having difficulty being ambulatory.  They said she complained of intense pain, yet she was snoozing peacefully most of the time. That is the usual!  They really couldn’t find anything wrong with her.

MK and Michael went out to assess her situation and then they headed back to her apartment. We had to make sure the cupboards were bare so as to allow for the men coming in to install new ones and give her kitchen a geriatric designer look.

Before this occurred, Christian, Laura, and Samantha came over and the parents went to play tennis while we watched Samantha.  I decided that Christmas was officially over so I switched the Spode Christmas china with the French pottery we normally have in our cabinet.  I also took down the ceramic Christmas tree and put that away.  I was wondering if Samantha would say anything about that, but she didn’t.  Anyway, I put the stuff away in the crawlspace and rearranged things a bit.

Samantha was so much enjoying having “Mumma” to play with.  I would ask her for some “bisous” (kisses) and she would ignore me and/or say, “No!” She already knows how to properly bat her eyelashes and when I feigned being so sad I was at the edge of tears, she ran over to me and hugged me.  I worked on teaching her numbers one through seven in French (when we go up and down the steps) and asked her to do things in French, as usual, it all went without a hitch.

My technology situation worked out although it too pretty much all day to do it.  I realized that my connecting to the iTunes on my regular laptop is the problem so I ended up having to do a “factory restore” and reset the iPhone.  This time I upgraded the iTunes on my netbook and used it, the unfortunate part was that I needed to figure out how to move the “apps” and the music from my usual laptop to the netbook.  That took a bit more thinking as to how to go about it.  By the end of the day, I had pretty much gotten it back to normal without too much loss.  The entire family was amused by my “technology antics” and I felt like I was being “roasted” all day.

Today it is just past six.  I have one of those great loaves of multigrain bread that is not completely baked, wrapped up and sold like that, ready to go into the oven.  MK and I will have hot coffee and fresh bread along with the peanut butter and jam for a warm breakfast. Then the plan is to fly out the door, get to the gym for a swim before my day with Samantha.

Mike has been preparing for his GRE exam and will take that today. 

I ended up watching a small amount of the Bears/Packer’s game at the virtually totally empty gym yesterday.  I came home and thought I would see a bit more but Mike was watching something else.

Tonight we are headed into the city for a real “foie gras” celebration at a friend’s place downtown.  She has “imported” the foie gras and we are providing appetizers for the champagne.  It will be fun seeing some old friends.

Icy and snow outside, I am hoping today is a little less exciting than yesterday!

What is happening?

Got up in my pretty usual mode of being totally awake and unable to stay in bed, so, I did the right thing, I got up.

After brushing my teeth and such, I went downstairs, started the coffee process, and then went into the family room to check on the progress of the upgrading of my iPhone software.  I am convinced I have an iTunes/laptop issue and it was still “processing” just as it was when I went to bed.  So I force a shutdown and reconnected.  At this point it said I needed to do a “system restore” which was just what I expected.  I tried more than once and now it says there is some unknown error.  This is why I don’t like to update, this has been happening since my previous phone and it is making my laptop (which I am writing on) look more suspicious.

Once Mikey gets up I am going to grab my netbook, used mainly for travel, and see if I can find success restoring my iPhone with its iTunes.  Since Mikey’s possessions are still in California, I have lent him this computer for the time being, it was just sitting around anyway since I am no longer working much for the language lab company, if at all.  It has iTunes on it so maybe that will be the answer to my issues.

I can only hope so.

I did get an e-mail from George Washington (my former boss) regarding some training that he wants me to do in Batavia, far west of the city.  He had asked me if I had heard from the teachers.  Originally I had and fielded their issues by forwarding their concerns to the IT people working for the company.  Of late, that is something I do frequently.  Then I had heard nothing from the school.  He wants me to contact them.  I told him I thought we should wait a bit, I know they are anxious to get back to work now that their Windows 7 vs. the language lab software issues are now in check, but they are usually good about contacting me when they need help. I reminded him that it is final exam time, so that is probably why they aren’t following up on it.

Anyway, this morning is not exactly promising to be a fun day.

I may have to hit the Apple Store, once again to deal with those issues if I am unsuccessful with my netbook.  The good news here is that today is the game between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears.  I am probably one of the few males around who has no major plans to sit in my easy chair and spend time watching the progress of that contest.  I am not into watching sports on TV, something that inhibits my conversations with fellow males.  I am finally at a point in my life where my inability to have a conversation about something that doesn’t interest me is no longer an issue. I am who I am.  I am remiss here; however, “inability” is the wrong choice of words.  I usually just have “passed over” doing somewhat of a fake when I respond to the typical sports’ related questions.  I have gotten darn good at it.  My sons pretty much follow my path but they do it far better than I do.  They have learned just enough to be able to do it more convincingly. Due to college, they might have some interest, anyway, in their alma mater’s teams and actually do watch occasionally. They also have a much better version of the “I really don’t care what others think” sentiments than I have had in the past, but I am much better at that than ever before.  Somehow, I sense there are more guys like me out there than anyone might realize!

Did I mention that this is not going to be a fun day?  Well, just about thirty minutes ago, the phone rang and I picked it up.  It was the local police calling to speak to me.  They asked me if I was Mary Nylund’s son.  They even got my first name wrong.  Given the amount of times they have called and that we have had the same conversation, this surprises me.  Then again, it doesn’t, because I remember what and whom they are dealing with, my mother-in-law.  Poor soul that she is, at the age of ninety-one and a half, living alone in an apartment less than a mile away, suffering from dementia and the other mental issues she has had most of her life that were never dealt with, and we get the news that once again she has fallen and is being taken by ambulance to the hospital.  At the risk of seeming to be cold-hearted, I must say that my mother-in-law’s hobby has always been her health related, medical issues.  They are the driving force of her existence, her claim to fame, and her way of getting attention. Years ago, this phone call would have elicited a different response from us, but the frequency of the, as I call it, “hangnail/911/Emergency room” calls has changed our reactions.  Through the years we had asked my in-laws to please call us before dialing 911, but that was rarely the case.  They were the local 911 “frequent flyers” and so when I received the call today, Mary Kay and I agreed that we would wait a bit before going to the hospital.  My father-in-law, God rest his soul, enabled the poor lady and by taking care of her real and perceived needs not only paved her way to being Queen of Highland Park’s ER but also undid himself and frankly undid his own fragile health.  He has been gone for over a year, my mother-in-law still calling us frequently to ask where he is. She incessantly thinks he is out drinking with our oldest son.  Amusing since I never saw him have more than two beers at a sitting and that was only when we “forced” them upon him at our house since he wasn’t allowed to have anything but non-alcoholic beer at home.  I say “forced” because that way “Nana” pretty much had to leave the situation alone since we had instigated it.

Mary Kay did receive a call from Nossi, the sweet caretaker (who my mother-in-law, despite her dementia, and still having a wicked streak, calls “Nazi”) who told us that she was currently in the apartment and felt that my mother-in-law was fine.  We figure she will be out of the hospital by early afternoon.

We needed to get over there anyway as the lovely Senior Apartments have been undergoing renovations on an apartment by apartment basis for years.  We know that since, until about a year ago, my mom had a beautiful apartment there as well and we were acquainted with the situation.  The kitchen is getting redone and we knew that we had to get over there to remove everything from the cupboards so that they could do the work. 

So, despite the fact that we thought we had a calm day here, between my silly iPhone issues and my mother-in-law, we are going to have fun.  Really?

How early is it appropriate to have a glass of Scotch?  The funny thing here is that I am about as close to a teetotaler that you can get and I ask this question!

Oh, wait, where is my blood pressure checking equipment?  I need to check that, but perhaps I should wait until later.

I just went to find the granola for breakfast.  I realized that some may think that I have made up these stories.  The scary thing is that they are only the tip of the iceberg.

Did I mention that Mary Kay is doing crossword puzzles right now?  Are we coldhearted? 


Now I am worried…

It is almost five in the afternoon, it is about as dark as the picture I took this morning in the back yard.  MK has been working all day getting ready for a family dinner, otherwise known as Ribfest.

I am concerned.  Something just occurred to me.  I have spent the entire day in the lower part of the house, cleaning up my office, tending to my job supplies from the job that, for all practical purposes, ended in June.  I am still “on call” periodically to fill in for them and/or travel to a conference or two, maybe… 

The equipment and paper materials annoy me.  They take up a great amount of space and it doesn’t seem cost effective to me at all.  The paper material is date sensitive so I am guessing that when and if I may need it, it may not even be appropriate. 

I spent the entire day straightening it up and getting rid of what I know would definitely not be useful even today.  I pretty much know where everything is and now the corner where I keep the stuff is pretty much totally organized.  It still is taking up a lot of space. 

My desk area is cleared for once and I have gone through my personal stuff once again.  I had to go through the papers I have collected for my mom, filing them and storing them.  I have gone through my own papers and tried to put everything away so I can actually find stuff.  I have boxed, cleaned, recycled.

The boys have called and they oldest and youngest are on their way.  They intend to pick up the cooking and leave Mary Kay and me the other tasks. 

Did I mention I was worried?  I am.  I didn’t have the best sleep last night and today I realize that I went into “cleaning mode.”  As I have gotten more mature (is any more possible after the age of fifty-nine, I must have really been immature!), I have come to the realization that when I go into this mode that I am showing that I am worried about something.  This is how I deal with my stress.  And all this occurring just when I thought I was de-stressing…

I shall keep you posted.

Oh, they have arrived, let the party begin!  I just heard Samantha call, “Papi!”