Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Best text

I have been an anxious mess all day.

My grandma's follow-up appointment after last week's procedure was this afternoon and all I could do was imagine how my mom was going to give me the really, really bad news and wonder how much more time I have left with my grandmother.

But the news was just about as good as it could be.

And for that I am incredibly thankful.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Travels with Grandpa

Mom and I took my grandpa to Wisconsin this weekend.

Wisconsin is the state of his birth and, conveniently, my sister was playing in a tournament.
We actually cooked up this idea before we found out about my grandma's bladder cancer, so it was just a bonus that we were able to give her a bit of a break.


It just takes a lot of energy to be a caregiver. Making sure that he can get his shoes and his coat on, opening doors, helping him buckle his seat belt. It's not much different than having a toddler, honestly, except he moves slower and can read.

He is exhausting but is also very friendly and sweet and agreeable. For the most part, there were no issues. Our flight to Wisconsin was the "best flight I have ever been on." The pool at our hotel was the "best pool I have ever seen." The BLT he had for lunch on Saturday was the "best BLT I have ever had" and our flight back home was also the "best flight I have ever been on."

So I'm not sure which was actually the best flight but that's cool. It was nice that he was happy.

Except for the part where he wasn't.

On Friday, I drove him and my mom to his hometown. My mom was born there and spent time there as a kid visiting her own grandparents, so they both enjoyed the trip. It was a lot of driving -- two and a half hours each way -- for the amount of time that we spent, but it was worth it.

When I suggested the hometown excursion to my mother, I mentioned it along with something like "it's a long trip but he can sleep in the car" and so we decided to go ahead with it.

Problem being that he never slept. And then we went straight to Meg's game and, when we were driving home after the game, he blew a fuse.

My grandma's always telling us about when he loses his shit but we haven't really witnessed him losing his shit and, well, we can't say that anymore. All three of us. My mom said something to Meg about my grandma's procedure and he just lost his mind. He screamed and yelled about how he had to take care of his wife and how if we didn't like it, we could just leave them alone and he called my mom an asshole and -- okay, it mostly made no sense. My mom started to argue with him but she dropped it quickly. I turned up the radio. He kept yelling. And then he tired himself out and he stopped. The whole thing lasted maybe 10 minutes.

It didn't take long for him to apologize after we got back to the hotel. He sat in the chair and he was really quiet (after struggling to get his coat off -- my mom was not offering her help and it was surely on purpose) and then said to my mom "I need to apologize."

Meg and I made a quick exit, sitting  on the counter in the bathroom for a good 45 minutes while they talked it out. Grandpa cried. Grandpa cried about things that happened 60 years ago. It was a lot. He apologized to Meg and to me later that night, when we brought him pizza for dinner. Which he ate in bed, which was pretty awesome.

He was fine for the rest of the trip. Meg's team got booted from the tournament earlier than expected and, rather than sit around an extra 24 hours, we flew out on Saturday night.

He had a good time. It was important to my mom to be able to spend that time with him and to be able to give my grandma that break. Mom called me this morning to thank me for coming along and I assured her that, really, it was my pleasure.

Because it was.

My grandpa is 82 and alive and healthy enough to travel. Sure, he might need help putting on his shoes and he doesn't share his dessert but you can't tell me that I'm not lucky.

Still exhausted. But very lucky.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Homestead

I haven't shared much of what's going on at my house so, let me fill you in on all of the excitement.

Spoiler alert: there isn't actually anything exciting in my Ikea palace. But I have been promising pictures long enough.

I am skipping over my kitchen. I have an underwhelming galley kitchen that feels very apartment-y. Eventually, I should replace or refinish the cabinets and get new counter tops and maybe even knock down a wall so that the kitchen opens up more into the living room.

Here is my tiny little dining area, just off the kitchen. All decorated for...Christmas. Yes, that's when I first took pictures for this post. I am that lazy. You might recognize the rug from when I wrote about it back in January.

Brady the Dog's crate fits perfectly right beneath my table and he loves it under there. When I am in the kitchen, he is chilling in his crate. 

And here's the hallway. I already wrote about the gallery wall but you'll see that I extended it to the little bit of wall past the door. I love it just as much as I did when I finished it in August.

That door on the left is to the second bedroom, which I use as an office and didn't bother to take pictures of.  The bathroom is down the hall on the right and it is much like the kitchen: very standard 1980s construction. There's nothing wrong with it but painting the vanity and replacing the fixtures would do a world of good. It's probably not offensive enough to tear out all of the tile and start fresh unless I get to a place where I am convinced that I will be there for a good long while. Then, yes.

I'm fairly certain that I posted a picture of my room back when I first moved in. It hasn't changed.

Except for Brady the Dog's bed in the corner.

But speaking of 1980s construction: the doors! I feel like the whole place would really benefit from new doors that aren't so blah brown.

Okay, anyway: back down the hallway to the living room. You can see another offensive door there -- that's a coat closet.  

It is fairly boring.

My mom made my pillows. Which match the curtains above the windows in the dining area. Which I didn't take pictures of.

So, there's the tour. Sort of. It's more like a half tour but better than nothing and also now you all know that I don't live in complete squalor. No, it's just your standard condo. Coated in a fine layer of dog hair.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Not Pregnant

Look what I got in the mail today: an invitation to an event for new and expectant parents!

So, that's a little awkward.

I'm not going to pretend that I understand mass mail marketing and I get that I fit a demographic (has a uterus, is of a certain age) but this invitation isn't even from my health system* and it just feels weird.

And slightly painful because everyone is having babies but me and, yeah, I am aware without a postcard to remind me. It isn't like I don't want babies it's just that I'm not even in a place where I have the luxury of simply considering babies to be in the realm of possibilities for me. It's kind of a slap in the face.

At Christmastime, when I was buying gifts for Lucy's sons and a few other special little people, I was invited to join Amazon Mom. I had logged in to my Amazon account and was buying toys -- toys for toddlers, not for newborns -- and this screen came up that congratulated me for being pregnant, asked me to provide my due date and invited me to join Amazon Mom.

I don't even think that Amazon knows my birth date but apparently my shopping and web surfing habits are very similar to that of a pregnant lady.

I mean, I know I have a strong passion for chocolate but really. Not pregnant. Not even close.

*I suppose if it was from my health system I would be slightly nervous. Do they know something that I don't?

Monday, March 23, 2015

The C Word

"She has bladder cancer."

I don't know how to describe how matter-of-fact my mom was when she told me other than to say that she was very matter-of-fact. My grandmother has bladder cancer.

Mom told me the diagnosis before the doctor made the diagnosis. She described the symptoms, she explained Grandma's history, she said that it was bladder cancer.

And apparently she was right.

Grandma had the same symptoms last year, cancelling the appointment with the specialist when she become asymptomatic. My mom didn't force the issue then. She feels guilty.

Mom's gut instinct was correct, as we found out when the doctor gave Grandma the news late last week.

Grandma went in for her first procedure today, an outpatient surgery to remove the tumor. I saw her yesterday and I brought over dinner tonight and...and...and it's truly impossible to believe that my grandmother is sick. Even today, after her procedure, catheter and all, she was smiling and laughing and acting exactly like my grandmother. I cannot fathom how she is potentially very, very sick.

According to Mom, my grandmother's surgery didn't take as long as she expected it to take. (Perhaps I should take this moment to point out that my mom's career is in healthcare; she's neither psychic nor making statements based on knowledge gleaned from Dr. Google.)

The relative brevity of her surgery is either a really good sign or a really bad sign.

We will find out next week.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

So yum

I've been meaning to share this delicious recipe with you guys since the first time I made it at the beginning of the year.

It's so easy and so good. Everything in it (which is a whopping five things) are ingredients that I always have on hand. The only thing that I'm usually short on is the six hours it takes to slow roast it.

Trust me when tell you that it's totally worth the wait. It's impossible to screw up and it's so, so good. The first time I made it, I brought it to Lucy and Chet's house for dinner and Chet nearly danced with joy. (I knew when I first read the recipe that it was something that he would love.)

The second time I made it, I brought it over to Meg's house. She had made baked brie as an appetizer. A little brie and slow roasted tomatoes on crostini? You'll die. But it's pretty damn good with everything.

I am dining with Lucy and her boys tonight and that's what we're having for dinner. We plan to consume many episodes of the third season of House of Cards as an indulgent dessert. Hope your Saturday evening plans are as exciting as mine! 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Aunt Marie's bookshelf

The family cleaned out Aunt Marie's house over the weekend.

My aunt died of complications from her type 1 diabetes five years ago. I'm not sure I mentioned it, but my uncle remarried at Christmastime; he and his new wife bought a house in another community and he's planning on selling their home. 

Before he sold, he wanted his daughters (and his former mother-in-law and sister-in-law and nieces) to be able to take what they wanted from the house. My aunt had immaculate taste. She loved beautiful things. There was plenty to choose from.

I am now the proud owner of the perfect red antique stool. Perhaps it's some weird genetic quirk, but every woman in my family has a red stool in her kitchen. Now I do, too. I love it and I love that I can have something in my kitchen to remind me of Aunt Marie every single day.

We also helped clean out the house. Not everything, not close but we boxed up plenty to be donated.

I was in charge of the books. I packed them up and brought them to work to be sold in our annual used book sale.

Sorting through the books was so happy and sad. I could identify books that were gifts and books that she'd borrowed from or lent to my mother. There were books that we all have a copy of, for whatever reason. And a book that reflected each and every one of her broad interests.

Her bookshelf really told the story of her life. I am tempted to keep practically every book that touched my hands, but I settled for a few that made me smile. The rest I will write about here. They can go to new readers; I will keep them just in my memory.

She always left her bookmark (a business card, a folded sheet of paper) in the book when she finished.
She could never have enough cookbooks.
She always bought a travel guide before going on vacation.
She had dozens of parenting books, all of which scream "EMMA!" (Her difficult youngest daughter.)
She kept prayer requests tucked inside her devotionals.
She bought her daughters classic children's literature.
She read the Oprah Book Club books.
She bought novels that featured Scandinavian characters, our family's heritage.
She read voraciously.
She, too, was sentimental about her books. 
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