Friday, October 31, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Devil You Say

Years ago, when I was just a young little brat, Devil's Night was something my friends and I looked forward to. We'd plot, plan and spend weeks squirreling away toilet paper and soap. When dark would fall on the 30th of October, we'd go out painting neighbor's windows with Dial soap. Sometimes, we'd T.P. trees in the neighborhood. Always, we'd torment ring doorbells of crotchety old neighbors then run like hell laughing all the way. That was about the worst thing we did.

As I got older, thankfully, I outgrew my mischievous ways. Devil's Night never went away though and over the years, it grew more and more sinister. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Detroit became renowned for Devil's Night and Halloween fires. During a period of 3 to 4 days, the city would burn. Sometimes, it was hooligans out to create mayhem. Sometimes the culprits were people in a community burning down nearby abandoned homes. Often, they'd neglect to take into consideration the weather or the proximity of adjacent structures that still had people living in them. Frequently, business owners used the guise of this notorious day to offload an albatross. There were always hundreds of fires over the course of this "holiday." The city landscape is dotted with many empty lots where the homes were burned to the ground. Firefighters worked their asses off during these periods and were kept so busy putting out nuisance fires like garage structures that they just couldn't keep up with more important dwellings.

This has never completely gone away though the actual number of fires has been drastically reduced. Victories are measured in actual fire calls which are down to levels that are almost normal for a regular night. Devil's Night is called Angel's night here these days and the city heavily recruits civilian volunteers (angels) to patrol the streets looking for vandals.

I'm not particularly looking forward to being out and about in the city today and Friday. I'm hoping for an actual reduction in calls for a hospice nurse or nothing but facility admissions. I'd rather spend my evening in a hospital than out roaming the streets. I don't care how many angels are out patrolling. This is no longer a day I look forward to.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wild Turkey

My brother's back yard on Tuesday:

Besides the obvious, what do you call a grouping of turkeys?

Besides stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, what goes good with turkey?  I'd say a fiddle.  I heard the Detroit Symphony Orchestra do a rendition of this song that sounded amazing.  Too bad I couldn't find that.

Turkey in the Straw:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Makes Me Smile

I saw Yo-Yo Ma on the Colbert Report last night. I'm heading out this afternoon to buy his new CD which you can listen to here. I love the song Appalachian Waltz and since I'm heading that way again soon, I thought I'd need a little of this music to take with me. Here's another favorite of mine:

Monday, October 27, 2008


I ordered some very hard to find sock yarn online yesterday and was beside myself that I'd found it.  The yarn isn't obscure, it just has an unusual name for the color which places it in high demand. The name makes it a rare find in my local yarn stores.  It sells out as soon as it hits the shelf.  It's sort of like the Holy Grail without the Holy.  I have one skein of this in a different type of yarn I'll use to make a hat and one skein in the stash for socks for moi. The skein I found on line will be for socks for someone else. It's the name, it's the name, it's all in the name. Here is email confirmation that my package should be on the way soon. Even if it's slow to reach me, I'm charmed by the message that Paradise Fibers sent today:

"This is a note to let you know your order is scheduled to ship out today! You should recieve a tracking number within 24hrs. You will be notified of delays such as product backorder, sheep stampede delay, or unruly Llama delays ASAP which are fortunately rare."

I'm smitten with this place already and it's my very first purchase from them.

Odds and Ends

While watching the news, which I hate to do, I was rewarded with the story of the fellow who rigged his car with lights and sirens. He then headed out on the road to play policeman. The very first car he pulled over was a Chevy Impala, an unmarked police car of the Ann Arbor Police Department. The fellas in that car were in full uniform too. I'd have loved to have been a fly on the window. Ah, the news was good tonight.

Yesterday, as I was leaving my local democratic party headquarters with an Obama yard sign, I was verbally accosted by a man who was with a small child. Now, why he felt it necessary to say anything to me regarding my politics is beyond me. Why he felt compelled to say what he did in front of a child no older than 3 is disgusting. He called me a bitch (which is technically correct) and called my presidential choice Obama bin Laden (which technically, is incorrect). He wasn't done though when he said, "there's a mama obama bin laden lover." Now that was kind of bigoted. Only 8 days left. This election can't be over soon enough. I changed my mind about putting this sign on my lawn. I don't want to borrow trouble. My son said, "good idea, someone might steal it." He put it up in his bedroom window which faces the street. What a great young man who was taught it's his right to vote for whoever he wants to be in office. It's called a democracy. That's something the man's son I encountered yesterday may never get to do: voice his own opinion. I bet his son won't have a circle of friends who look like members of the United Nations either. His loss.

So while I can't tell you how to vote, I can tell you I'd probably like you just fine no matter which way you did vote, as long as you do it. We've a lot of ancestors who paid the ultimate price just so we can voice an opinion. I'll tell you what though, I know of someone out there who has a vote I plan to cancel out next week. With luck, he's too ignorant to throw on his wifebeater shirt and head out to the polls. Just in case, someone else needs to counter the votes of my brothers and my best friend, none of whom have called me a bitch because of my politics.

Whew, that felt good.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I've Got the World on a String...

“Life is a train of moods like a string of beads; and as we pass through them they prove to be many colored lenses, which paint the world their own hue, and each shows us only what lies in its own focus.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Something has taken up residence in my backyard and it's making Dukealicious nuts. Yesterday, I had to put my knitting down a hundred times to let him out to investigate. He carried out this behavior well into the night. In and out. In and out. Very early this morning, I could hear him whining to go out again. I tuned him out and about 30 minutes later, he woke me up again. I dragged my butt out of bed where we started the revolving door shenanigans all over again. Once he was in though, I went back to bed and slept almost until noon. It was great.

After some election ugliness as I left my local democratic party office yesterday, I started my election day hat. This yarn is so dreamy and incredibly soft. I'm not sure how I like stringing the beads on first. I think it's a pain in the behind. The flexible needle used to string the beads on the yarn is incredibly tiny, ever so slightly larger than human hair. I had trouble threading the yarn through the collapsing eye of the needle. It took close to an hour with my vision and clumsiness. Knitting this hat as instructed, you push each bead up the yarn as needed. Any time I'd have gained by pre-stringing the bead was lost by fiddling with it all like that. I'd rather add them with a crochet hook one at a time, I think it's a bit easier. Either way, the process of knitting with beads is relatively easy and they tend to add a little sparkle and weight to an item. If it's a shawl or scarf, the beads will add drape. In the picture above, all the beads are strung on the yarn. It was sort of a snug fit and though I think a slightly larger bead would have been better for the yarn, I think the smaller bead fits into the pattern just fine.

I've a few more rounds before I start the decreases and switch to double pointed needles, but it's moving along. I will be wearing this hat for sure on the 4th. I made only one change to the pattern: when knitting the row that follows a beaded row, I knit the beaded stitch through the back loop to twist the stitch and anchor the bead toward the public side of the fabric.

Here is a photo op of our first fitting for the Textured Tunic. It fits like a dream and the yarn is incredibly soft. The Divine Ms. S. would like you to know that she was not prepared to be photographed and it is Sunday. She hasn't properly primped. She is pleased with the sweater though and would now like the date upon which she can count on adding this item to her wardrobe. Since we still have sleeves and a hem to go, I think I can safely say it'll be a bit. I'm thrilled with the fit but more thrilled with my intuition to add a little waist shaping. I think it would have hung like a sack on her if I hadn't. One more inch and I'll start the split hem. I'm also on the hunt for the perfect buttons which may take longer than I'd hoped. So far, I've struck out in more than one place. I may have to order them from the Montreal button lady I buy from on Etsy. Here's hoping she has some.

Here's a little Frank with this week's theme song:

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pass the Cheese, I've Got the Whine!

You can win some people over and then there are those who will always be impossible to please. Those squeaky wheels irritate the hell out of me. I've long ago forsaken the nurse as handmaiden to the physician. Even most docs I know treat us in a more collaborative manner these days. I just wish others would get the message. There are still people who think it's OK to treat the nurse poorly. When it happens in someone's home, I get the hell out. You don't have to talk to me more than once like that. Luckily, we have management that takes those problems seriously. When it happens in a hospital, it's a little more dicey.

I admitted a patient the other day who passed away during the admission. There was a delay in getting the new admitting paperwork from hospital registration. The chaplain was not very pleasant to deal with regarding this delay but without the new digits, there couldn't be a proper chain of custody to transfer this patient to the morgue and then the funeral home. If I had to choose a word to describe this woman, it would be harridan. I'll wait while you click on that word to see the definition. There. Great word, isn't it? I'd have said bitch, but she's a chaplain, and I'm working hard these days to stay out of hell.

At this particular hospital, the 24/7 chaplain handles all the releases and interacts with the family. The chaplain took it upon herself to denigrate the hospice staff me to the family for this delay. Which pissed off the family. Jeeze Louise, if I could have done the registration myself, I would have. What should have been a 2 hour admission turned into a two hour admit with a 2 hour death visit. The family had a laundry list of requests and kept me hopping. After 4 hours, one of them said to me, "so let me get this right, my loved one was a hospice patient for 2 hours and you're going to bill us for this." "Right?" "Well, not exactly" I answered. "We're going to bill her insurance- NOT YOU. In return, you and your family will get 13 months of bereavement services." Sheesh. I'm plum out of good will. If I bump into this chaplain again, I'm gonna let her know how I feel. I don't care how many crosses she has around her neck, she's going to need them all to fend me off. If she is going to behave in this manner, she needs to take her costume off. I'd have let her have it if I hadn't been working so hard to keep a lid on this family's emotions.

I've been lax in doing too much of anything except work this week. I've had so many problems to solve in the off shift that really need addressing during the day. This is my biggest gripe- the lack of a time out. I'm whipped and officially, work is over. The paper work is up to snuff and I don't go back until 4 PM Monday. I've got better things to do this weekend.

Speaking of better things, I need to thank Sue B for the GIANT bag of black fleece for knitting warm and fuzzy things for a special soldier in our lives. Wow Sue. Thank you so much! There will be thrummed items for Pat really soon and I'm certain, he'll be glad to have it. He deployed last week but we're still not sure exactly where. When he gets this stuff, I'll be sure to tell him of your generosity.

I've purchased the beads, the proper sized needles and wound the precious skein of cashmere for Odessa. I said screw working on my off time today and even knit the swatch. I unwound my swatch because I may need all of that yarn and don't feel like wasting cashmere. I'm close enough on the gauge and plan to cast on tomorrow, right after I thread a couple hundred beads onto my yarn. I've always added beads one at a time with a small crochet hook, but this time, I'm going to do it as the pattern is written.

I cheated on my local yarn store and went somewhere new today. Damn, they had everything including Malibrigo, Prism, Rowan, Koigu and hell, I forget. The choices were so astounding, I practically swooned in that place. I went in to buy beads and left with 3 different colors of beads (when I only need one) and 3 skeins of yarn. What the hell? Maybe I'm crazy.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Oh Pulleeeze!

This is a picture of the woman robbed then taught a lesson for having a McCain-Palin bumper sticker on her car. She is a McCain campaign worker. She should have had someone else carve the B on her instead of looking in the mirror and doing it herself. Of course, she had a backward image when doing so and therefore mucked the whole thing up. By doing this, this dingbat has gone and cast aspersions upon herself. You can't explain some humans. She should have used O instead of B.

Speaking of election news, I am going to wind my cashmere and run out to pick up some beads right now. I've a beaded cashmere hat to knit and a deadline in which to get it done. I am so pleased there was no violence associated with the election of Odessa for my election day attire. Since I could see how this thing was going, I knit the seed stitch beret anyways. It's featured here in Grace by Louisa Harding. This was some pretty fabulous yarn to play with and the color is gorgeous. Go get thee some Grace. You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Can You See the Real Me?

If you're reading this, my MacBook is still in the garage for repairs. I thought I'd post a picture of the real me to entertain you. This is me in denial over the state of my skin. I never had acne in my life until I gave birth to my 3rd child eighteen years ago. What a mess my skin has been since. This is me attempting to make things look better. The mask is temporary. Or is it? It does help but I hate it. I'd rather not be in my fifties and putting up with acne.

Speaking of the real me, this is one of my favorite songs from my most favorite album. Ever. If I didn't work evenings, I'd have made an attempt to see these guys last night. My son got last minute tickets and went. I told him the secret for buying last minute seats for sold out events at box office prices. It works. I've seen The Who the last 2 times they've been to town. I listen to individual songs from this collection all the time, but the last time I listened to Quadrophenia from start to finish was on a beach in South Carolina. It was September 2002 and not a soul was around. Just me, the beach, the ocean, my CD player and The Who. The weather was beautiful and I had the beach to myself. It's time to repeat that week of R & R. I just need to find a warm beach first.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Where in the World is Rudee?

I used to love spending time playing Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego on the computer with my kids. Sometimes I'd play it by myself. I know there was a television show by the same name, but I don't recall that. I must have moved on to more important computer games like Bejeweled and TextTwist by then. Or Hearts. Or Video Poker. I also loved Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong. Who knows how much time I've spent lost in Cyberland? I haven't a clue.

This week, I'll be lost in a different way. The MacBook parts that were ordered last week are in so it's going into the shop to be repaired. Keep voting on your selection for my election day attire and I'll cast on Friday night. I'll be spending some productive time finishing up that green sweater I started. I'm near the hem now which is more complicated than it looks in the photo.

Odessa is ahead in the polls and I'll be stopping by the bead shop today in anticipation of a landslide victory for the beaded hat. Wilde Thyme thought the multicolored yarn may be too much for Odessa but I don't know. When I look at the yarn up close, the changes in color are much more subtle than in that picture I posted. It's very pale and more green with some pale blues. I'm thinking pearl type beads. Cashmere and pearls. Does it get more Audrey Hepburn than that?

I'll try to keep up with your blogs using our desktop dinosaur. I can't make any promises though. I think I'd rather have a root canal than use that ancient beast. Have a good week everyone.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

What Has She Gots in Her Stash Precious?

What have I got here? I've been sitting on this single skein of Hand Maiden's 4 ply cashmere for over a year. I don't usually buy cashmere. At $38.00 per skein, who can afford it? You know, I think the math sounds better when I say it's only twenty one cents a yard. Doesn't it? Simple twine is half the price. Now who would knit a sweater out of twine? I guess it doesn't sound so bad after all. I can really get going with the rationalizing if you let me. The skein I purchased isn't marked with the color, but I think it may be Peridot. However, what I have is much more pale than that picture. This yarn hasn't really spoken to me yet so I'm still thinking of what it should be when it's knit up. Whatever it is, I think it should be something that sits close to the skin. This stuff is so incredibly soft. Every once in a while, I take it out of the bin where I protect it from the elements, just to touch it. It is soft, soft, soft.

Fetching by Cheryl Niamath-a free pattern in Knitty

A US size 6 needle will give me close to 4 stitches to the inch. There are 185 yards. What should it be? I don't know if I could bear to knit Fetching one more time, having done so 4 times last Christmas, but that's an option.

Cat Bordhi's Cashmere Moebius Cowl-a free pattern

I originally bought this single skein to knit a moebius lace cowl as a gift for someone else. I didn't because she said something really annoying to me. Duh. Cashmere for her? I don't think so. She got a store bought gift instead. Now, I want to knit something for myself out of this luxurious hank of yarn.

Debbie Bliss Moss Stitch Beret from Pure Cashmere

I've been perusing One Skein and Debbie Bliss Pure Cashmere for ideas. There is a beautiful moss stitch beret and a beanie in the Bliss book that look gorgeous. I have more yardage than required to knit either one. I could do a beaded hat like Wilde Thyme Knitter. I've been admiring the Odessa pattern she is working on for a really long time. Cashmere and beads. How pretty would that be?

Odessa by Grumperina-a free Ravelry download

I know you can see where I'm going with this. Yes, it's democracy in action again at Casa de Rudee. Since you did such a good job selecting the autumn sweater I should knit, I'd like you to pick my cashmere's destiny. It's a single skein and a quick knit whatever you should select. I just can't make up my mind. Go vote in the upper left hand corner and I'll cast on for that project on Friday. It's good practice for the real voting event that I know you all can't wait to see end. Maybe this can be a new trend in elections. You have an offering and 5 days later, the election is over. Gosh, that would be wonderful. I'm so politically weary. My one and only campaign promise is that whatever you select, I'll wear to the voting booth on November 4th. There will be pictures to prove I keep my promises and that I vote!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Discourse on Leaves

“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree”
Emily Bronte

As I sat to write this post, my telephone rang. I chose to ignore it. It rang again. I ignored it. My husband always likes to say that the phone is there for his convenience and I tend to agree. Well, what he really says is, "I'll blow that f-ing phone up if it doesn't stop ringing." If I don't want to answer it when it rings, I won't. Today, it kept ringing. At this point, I asked Duke, "who the hell is dead?" He couldn't give me an answer. After this caller's fourth consecutive attempt to get someone to answer the phone, I picked up. It was my father in law, Mr. Larger Than Life. He said, "hello son." I said, "no, this is Rudee." I was laughing to myself that he thought I was his son who has a very masculine voice. I wondered if I sounded manly to him or if he was particularly deaf today. I settled on deaf. I also wondered what he wanted since he wasn't going to give up calling until someone answered. He wanted to know if I needed anything from the market. Nah. He goes to the same Italian market that I do, but he shops from the discounted rotten vegetable cart and I'm not really in the mood for moldy food today. I thanked him anyways. He then proceeded to tell me about last week's head to toe physical, stopping just short of the description of the prostate exam and why his distaste for that proves he could never be gay. I've heard all about that digital rectal exam from my son and then my husband who have both repeated it for humorous reasons for a week. Mr. Larger Than Life did mention his exam was "from top to bottom," and "everything looks just great."

I am not the only person in this house who hides from my father in law. In fact, I'm not the only one in the entire metro Detroit area who hides from him. Some people in my family have gone to the extreme by moving hundreds of miles away in an attempt to hide from him. Remember, this is the man who shows up, uninvited, to many relative's and friend's homes for breakfast. Usually, Sunday breakfast. He does stalk some of his friends on a daily basis. I feel for them but mostly, I feel relief that it isn't my house he comes to everyday. That's because of Duke. For some reason, he hates my beasty boy dog. Dukealicious, impervious to my father in law's distaste for him, has made it his mission to make this man love him. It hasn't worked in 8 years and it's not likely to, but that doesn't stop Duke from sticking his giant nose in Mr. Larger Than Life's ass every chance he gets. When Duke dies, I'm not telling my father in law. I'll have my dog stuffed and placed on the porch to ward off uninvited visitors.

My husband, who has the patience of Job, tends to his father and his father's home on a daily basis. Except when fall comes. He hates fall. Oh I'm sure he likes the weather and the color of the leaves on the trees, but when those leaves start to fall, he begins to hate this season. His father has a personal vendetta in respect to the leaves. It's all he talks about. He knows which leaves are his and which have been deposited by a neighbor's tree. He may even hate the neighbor for allowing it to happen. His problem, as I see it, is that everyone around must be dragged into this leaf drama. He can't keep it to himself and he is incredibly particular in how this annual assault of the leaves must be managed. There is no right way or wrong way to tackle the monumental problem of the leaves. There is only Mr. Larger Than Life's way and it always involves all of the men in the family doing the grunt work while he tells them how to do it. He's like the conductor of an orchestra of rakers. If the leaves aren't gathered just so, there will be screaming and a very public display of temper resulting in humiliations galore and lots of swearing by the orchestra. Every year, I hear the current and past stories of the gathering of leaves. The best one involves my college aged husband hiding under his bed in order to get out of leaf duties. His mother found him because he couldn't hide all of his 6'4" frame under the bed without something cramping up. At the time, he could hear his father bellowing from outdoors to come and help him with the yard work.

Mr. Larger Than Life has squandered a fortune on yard implements including rakes, vacuums and special mowers to tackle the leaf issues. For what he's spent on those tools, he could have hired a lawn service for the entire neighborhood for a lifetime. Instead, he chooses to torture everyone around him with his annual gatherings which consume hours of their days off and cuts into watching weekend sports. For Father's Day this year, the boys bought him a new leaf blower. It wasn't really a gift for him, it was what they wanted in anticipation of what was coming. In short, they bought a gift for themselves. I wonder, how's that working out?

Photo: Google Images

Friday, October 17, 2008

Good Bye Levi--Thank You

So, What Set Me Off?

I'm not always very forthright with the life I live on these pages. Some things just seem too private or depressing and if I bring you all down with me, there will be a run on Kleenex and Prozac. Nobody will be able to get out of bed. Soon, you'll blame me for your depression and stop visiting. So I don't write about these things often, choosing instead, to try my hand at creativity. This very special place is one I don't have to share with anyone and it is my refuge. Once in a while, I'll get really annoyed and that's when you'll see what is really bothering me put out there for all to see.

Last night's post began with what had originally set me off and ended up something entirely different. My emotions were in free fall. First was the panic I felt in my gut when I thought Rachel was home by herself with just the dog to protect her. That alone, sapped the adrenalin right out of me. Then, there was John McCain spouting off that Sarah Palin knows what it's like to have a child with special needs. Does she now? Where is that child we haven't seen since the convention? Who is caring for that baby? Her? Pfft! She's too busy riling up angry mobs of white men. Then, John went on and on about Sarah knowing about the needs of the growing population of autistic children. Really? On what grounds? Is the fact that she has birthed a child with Down's Syndrome made her an expert in autism? Give me a break. The republican party is hardly the champion of the disadvantaged now, are they? I don't need more lip service, I need help. I've had nearly 19 years of begging for help. Answers would be nice but money for research doesn't grow on trees. What if the answer for my precious child and the disorder that robbed her of her mind, lies in stem cell research? Who will help us then? Republicans? I think not.

These were just the muddy bits that got to me. What flung me over the edge is the caregiver who is once again, helping herself to my stuff. My flat iron was missing. Since I cut my hair short, I hadn't noticed it. When I mentioned out loud that it was missing, the damn thing magically reappeared a day later. Right where I'd left it. Hmm. I didn't overlook this bright turquoise flat iron-it wasn't there and then it was. Everyday, I come home to a puddle of caked on amber gunk sitting in the sink basin. I know what it is. It's the goo I use on my curly hair when it's a bit longer. That goo set me back $20 and someone with long curly hair is using it up. My perfume bottles are running very low too. I don't use that much perfume. Ordinarily, a bottle lasts a very long time. The current favorites of hers seem to be MY bottles of Lovely and Dolce and Gabbana Light Blue. They're running low in record time. It frosts my ass when I come home and smell my perfume or hair spray on her! Today, she opened the seal on a catalogue that came in the mail, addressed to me and read it while I watched. Right in front of me, she opened my mail!!! Isn't there a law against that? I can't stand that. IT'SMINEIT'SMINEIT'SMINE!!!! It's like living in a house full of sisters who know no boundaries. I keep telling myself soon. Soon, I'll move all my "stuff" out of this house and I won't have to share my personal belongings with anyone else. Soon.

That's what set me off. When I started writing it all down though, I started to see the words flow in a different direction: toward the heart of the matter. When I reread what I'd put down, I felt a little panic all over again. I thought about deleting it as one of those posts that are too private to put out there. I'm glad I didn't. I needed to hear words of encouragement. I know that everyone who left a comment is someone I don't really know. Still, your compassion and empathy makes me feel hopeful. I'm glad I didn't delete it and I'm so grateful for your support.

Tomorrow, I promise to lighten it up around Casa de Rudee. I have got to tell you about Mr. Larger Than Life and his fixation with autumn leaves.

Photo: Google Images

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ah, hell!

Over the past year (well more really), our family has discussed and made plans for what we'll do when our youngest daughter reaches 18. While others plan a second honeymoon, or maybe take a fabulous trip when the kids have all moved into adulthood, we could not. Our youngest child, Rachel, is profoundly autistic and severely mentally impaired. We've cared for her for every one of those 18 years and feel that it's OK now to make plans to place her in a group home. The trouble is, there aren't any group home spaces to be had. Places like that are filled solely through attrition and someone has to die for our daughter to secure a spot. We also want a place that is for young women only and only for those who have similar problems. We didn't want someone violent sharing her living space. Alternatives to a group home aren't very attractive. We wouldn't be able to live with ourselves if she were to be institutionalized. That isn't how we want her to be able to live her young adult life.

After much reflection, our plan is to turn our own home into Rachel's lifelong home. It'll also be home to 3 or 4 other young women who are in the same predicament. We wouldn't operate or staff the home, but it'll be where she lives until she dies.

I have very mixed feelings over this. As I write this, I am tearful. I can't believe it's been 18 years. It's been the hardest 18 years of my life. Her disabilities have ruled this roost for every minute, of every day, for 18 very long years (plus 8 months-but who's counting?). We've had community mental health services in our home for 10 of those years. It's been like a perpetual revolving door of social workers, therapists and caregivers. We have no privacy and nothing is sacred. The last social worker who had to evaluate her was the biggest blowhard I've ever had the misfortune to meet. Thankfully, I only had to do so once. He is not her primary social worker and the one who does come monthly to our home, is wonderful.

Next week, a slew of people from our county will be visiting to look the house over. I know I should be taking this opportunity to scrub every crevice clean. I should have the Dyson doing overtime. Oddly, I'm paralyzed by fear. I don't know if this is the right thing to do. What will I do with the time I usually give to her? Who will be my excuse for staying in at night(after night, after night)? What will my life be like if it isn't defined by her needs? I came in the house this evening thinking she must be home alone. She was asleep in her bed with only Duke to watch her. Her caregiver was gone for the night and I panicked. She wasn't alone, her brother was in another room. He just didn't have his car here. The point is, it's her and her needs I always think of first. I don't know what it'll be like to put myself, my other children or even my marriage first.

It seems every time we come to a major crossroads, I'm more and more apathetic. I became resigned to my lot in life a long, long time ago and feel an underlying ripple of fear with change. I know this would be good for all of us and maybe even her. She can't speak to tell me what she feels about this plan. In the past, she's always gone with the flow and adapted much better than I and deep down, I think she'd like it.

The problem with our plan is that if I hate this for her, it won't be so easy to take it all back. Our home won't be our home anymore. It'll be home to her and several other young women. Revoking this decision would have ramifications for them all. This is a big deal and you'd think the least I could do is get off my ass and scrub something. I just can't. Please pass the tissues. I feel the waterworks are about to begin in earnest.

Better Late Than Never

There, my camera lens is completely free of sticky spots of honey now.

My first born child is to be the recipient of my latest knitting binge. Since she gave me the book Fitted Knits, by Stefanie Japel, I figure it's only right that she get the first pattern I've actually knit from the book. I shouldn't mention it's been 10 months since I received the book. It is indeed, better late than never. You voted for which sweater I'd knit for her and I started it last weekend. I'd originally thought I'd knit this in Louisa Harding's Grace. The green was a solid though and the hand-painted green was too bright, something better suited to St. Patrick's Day. What I settled on was Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury Tweed (colour # 360011)- a wool and angora blend from Ireland. I like the variations of color a bit more than the solid yarn. I do think this sweater would be beautiful in Grace and I can visualize it in a plum color that would be stunning.

I can't recall when I started this. It was either Saturday or Sunday. Instead of casting on the sleeves for my pink sweater, I felt compelled to start something entirely new. I'm not disappointed in myself either. It's easy enough to knit while watching old movies, with just enough difficulty to keep me entertained. Working with this particular yarn is a bonus. I'm sort of at the point where I need to take it off the cables now and measure it on my daughter. That's the real beauty of a top down sweater. It can be tried on as you go along. The basketweave bodice is completely finished and I'm moving down to the body of this piece. Since it's knit entirely in the round, there aren't any seams and it looks like it may be a bit boxy. I think a little waist shaping will fix that. There are plenty of pictures on Ravelry and knitters didn't really indicate whether additional shaping was necessary.  Some mentioned they wish they had added shaping although they all look nice enough without it. Ill have to have my daughter try it on to see where we are before I get too far.

The neck of the sweater is stockinette and rolls a bit. It'll roll less when I find a button for that peek-a-boo shoulder. I'm happy with this piece so far. It's been a super simple and completely satisfying knit.

Now for some general housekeeping, I'm going to pack some odds and ends into this post.  I'm taking my MacBook in to see those Geniuses at the Apple Store tomorrow.  I don't know if I'll be Macless for a day or two, or what.  There is something not quite right with the keyboard. Additionally, the monitor has developed a thin line right down the center of the display.  I don't like it.  So I'm off to take this baby in to the shop.  I'm going to try not to buy anything else while I'm there.  So if you don't hear from me for a day or two, you'll know why.  

Finally, I'll leave you with this:  while watching Food Network yesterday, Rachel Ray was waxing poetic about chorizo sausage.  On and on and on.  And then she said, "I just love to get my hands around sausage."  Bwahahahahahahahahahahahaha.   Oh.My.God!  

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Nectar of the Gods

I love the taste of honey. Not the corporate, flavorless honey farm stuff you buy from the grocery store in a bear shaped or mundane bottle either. I like the honey you can purchase from independent bee keepers who put up their own sweet stuff. I like that you can, if you pay attention, taste where the bees have been and exactly where they've harvested nectar. My last supervisor kept bees and put up her own honey as a hobby. She and her bees lived near peach and apple orchards. The honey from her bees was quite simply, stupendous. She lost a lot of bees in the beginning but ultimately got what she was after: the nectar of the Gods.

My grandmother Irma, the Belgian immigrant, made the best batter bread with honey as the star ingredient. Sunday, I baked some of this bread from honey bottled in Missouri and purchased from Detroit's Eastern Market. It has a tart, almost lemony tang to it. (When I googled the city in Missouri that this honey comes from, I found all kinds of ads for berry farms. I don't really appreciate berry flavoring in it though.) I'll share my grannie's recipe in case I've sparked some interest. Usually, this treat is something our family makes around Christmas and definitely eats on Christmas morning. The best way to eat this treat is served warm and slathered with butter:

Irma's Honey Bread
Warning: you need a deep, large bowl. If you need to convert our archaic U.S. measurements, go here.

3 large eggs, beaten 2 1/2 cups of sugar
1 cup honey 1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups of warm milk 1/4 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons of baking soda 5 cups of all purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Blend eggs, sugar, cinnamon, and salt together. Add milk, honey and baking soda. Mix well. Blend in the flour a little at a time. Mix for 10 minutes on high speed. Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour in greased loaf pans. A knife, inserted in the center of the loaf should come out clean.

Now, I've never fluctuated once from this recipe-even the beating for 10 minutes part. I just set my Kitchen Aid mixer to high and do other things like grease the pans while the machine helps the ingredients develop into a heavenly concoction.  I recommend making this just as instructed. Don't overfill your loaf pans either-this bread will rise up in the center while baking. You don't want the smell of charred bread baking on the floor of your oven to spoil the moment. Incidentally, my friends are always happy to get a loaf of this bread as a holiday gift. It bakes up well in those disposable loaf pans and you don't have to worry about when you'll get your pan back. It also freezes well. If you've found yourself addicted to honey bread and you are eating a lot of it, go here.

The next family secret I'll share is my Auntie Tina's walnut bread. You will think you died and went to heaven when you eat this. I'm going to start making those gifts next month to give to my family and friends. It's OK to share this family secret-Auntie Tina is gone from us now. There isn't any reason her legacy shouldn't be shared.

Since I've spilled some family secrets here today, what about divulging one of yours? I'm willing to give it a whirl in my kitchen. What's your favorite top secret family recipe?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Any Minute Now, My Head Will Implode

I am over this election. Can we all just go out and vote to get this over with? Now? I have got to stop watching these moronic news stations. Last night, they were discussing a part of the brain that is subconsciously going to keep people from voting for Obama because deep down, they're racist. Campbell Brown spent a lot of time discussing this particular piece of the brain, the amygdala, that is influencing people over 50. There was discussion of how people may go into the voting booth prepared to vote for Obama, but then, out of nowhere, the amygdala will rise up against them and keep them from voting their hearts. Some sources will tell you it's possible the amygdala is a left over from when vertebrates had a third eye. Sort of like this, but in a squid:

I don't know about you all, but now, I'm just too freaking scared to go vote. I don't want to bump into this guy in a voting booth.

Cartoon courtesy of Ian Marsden

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Economic Infusion

My best friend Fanette and I gave the economy a transfusion yesterday.  We bled money while the shop owners at a local outdoor mall smiled and joked with us.  Everywhere we went, we were offered on the spot credit cards for a 20% immediate discount.  Huh?  In part, isn't that how we got into this economic debacle to begin with?  We politely declined the strong arm tactics of the sales staff.  In the end, it always costs more than the savings to go that route.

Perfect shoes were high on Fanette's wish list.  She wanted to exchange a pair of black,  pointy toed stilettos for a gray pair.  I'd have returned them for something clunky and comfortable.  In the end, she kept her original purchase.  While wandering through one department store's shoe section, she was heard to gush the words, "I love shoes."  There was such affection in her voice that I had to laugh.  It was as though she were talking about the perfect man.  Yes, she really does love shoes, with a capital L.  I used to love shoes too, but now, I mostly just love yarn.

How awful is it that I've not seen my best friend since a quick dinner one night in July?   Or maybe, it was June.  We talk all the time but now that we're on opposite work schedules, there just isn't enough time to hook up.  In August, her dad got sick while they were on vacation in California.  Since then, she's burned the candle at both ends taking care of her business and her dad's.  I recall that squeeze myself and it's so tough.  We didn't even get to meet up for her birthday in August.  Gee, I'm a pathetic friend.  I tried to make up for it by knitting the perfect pair of socks.  I also got her the perfect bottle of perfume.  I think it's all good now.  Those are her socks in Mountain Color's Bearfoot in the Ruby River colorway.  Bearfoot is incredibly luscious stuff to knit and wear.  She gave me a skein for my birthday in the Crazy Woman colorway.  I'm going to use the Crazy woman to knit these same socks for my own feet, thinking of the friend who gave me the yarn to create them when I do.  

Better than all of the spending and immediate gratification that shopping provides, was the time spent with a real friend.   It's important to keep our friends close and cherish the times we do get to spend with them.  As usual, it didn't seem like it was all that long since we got together and we made a promise that it wouldn't be this long before we did this again.  We had perfect summer like weather and a great time.  It really doesn't get better than that.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Holiday Decor

Wow.  It's been an incredibly long week.  Here is all I've got to offer and it's hardly original.  This was sent to me twice-once by each brother.  Amazingly, it wasn't mistaken as political content and deleted before opening.  Usually though, Fudge's emails have a good chance of being opened and surprisingly, don't always contain disagreeable political content.  Thanks guys.  I needed that.

Friday, October 10, 2008

BC 3 Day Rainbow

There are a few fresh pictures in this video and some new music. My sister and I are considering different venues next year. We like Washington, D.C. for an October walk. Or San Francisco again. That was fun, but brutal. The San Jose bike police seem to take the edge off though! Hmmm. If I wanted to crew again, I'd need a nursing license for those areas. I'll think about that. Maybe I should just consider walking it again. It'd be my real three-peat. I've already walked it twice. I'd need some serious training though. Anyone want to join us? What would be your choice for the perfect venue? Here are the choices with lines through the ones I think would be too damn hot to walk (Detroit's 2005 July walk saw a heat index of 100 degrees-blech):

2009 Breast Cancer 3-Day Schedule
Boston July 24-26
Cleveland July 31 - August 2
Chicago August 7-9
Michigan August 14-16
Twin Cities August 21-23  ***I don't know-is it hot in August?***
Denver August 28-30 ***could be pretty***
Seattle September 11-13 ***won't it be raining?***
San Francisco Oct. 2-4 ***San Jose Bike Cops are hot, hot, hot!***
 D.C.  October 9-11 ***Maybe we'd see President Obama!***
Philadelphia Oct. 16-18 ***can you taste the cheesesteaks?***
Atlanta October 23-25***Hotlanta!***
Tampa Oct.30-Nov.1 ***Isn't it still hurricane season?***
Dallas Nov. 6-8 ***falls flat but is the home of  Komen***
Arizona November 13-15 ***can you say SNAKE?!?!***
San Diego November 20-22***Lots of MIUs near a naval base!***

Thursday, October 9, 2008


We've established many times, just how long I've been a caregiver. All of my life. It was my calling, truly. When I first went into nursing, I took the short course and became an LPN. I needed to do that to escape a bad marriage. I needed a way to provide for myself and my young child. It took an entire year to get through that program and I often felt, it was the hardest one of my life. I had light at the end of the tunnel but was living in the same home as an alcoholic and abusive man. My parents used to beg me to leave there because they were worried for my safety. I however, needed a plan and that took time.

I finally got what I needed, moved out and I took my daughter with me. I got a job at a horrible nursing home in a very rural area. To say the least, they were very backwards there. I'm sure the place still exists and I can only hope they've joined modern nursing in this new century. I kind of doubt it.

My second job was a little better but I worked midnights with an odd Eastern Indian woman who like to tell me at every opportunity, "IDRN, UDLPN." "Isidandchard, udodmeds." For all 60 patients, I passed the meds while Nurse George, maybe her real name, sat on her royal fanny. This was 1984. All these years later, it still burns my ass. I despise sloth. It was however, the dawning of the burning need to go back to school so I could get the hell out of places like that. That's exactly what I did too. I went to school, worked full time and mothered my daughter. I was driven to get away from Ms. George.

All I talked about during that time, was my hatred for Nurse George. Nonstop, I bitched to anyone who would listen. It helped to fan the flames to keep myself going. I was definitely burning the candle at both ends. In 1986, I no longer worked with her, but I still talked about her. I was so close to finishing school and I had a new sweetie then; my husband to be. One day, we got in the car and started driving. We stopped in Port Huron and went to the marina to see all the sailboats waiting to race to Mackinac Island. Then we decided to cross the bridge to Canada and just drive. We ended up in Niagara Falls, two hundred miles away. Along the way, I told him all about my nemesis. A lot. The next day, strolling alongside Niagara Falls, above the roar of the water, I heard my name being shouted in a thickly accented voice. There she was, DRN. I couldn't escape her. I was completely gobsmacked at this chance meeting. So was my husband. I'd We'd talked about her for at least two of the four hours it took to drive there and now, here she was in the flesh. Like she'd been following me.

I still think about this nurse often. I've run into people just like her over the years and while I still abhor sloth, maybe I owe her a debt of gratitude. Perhaps she is the one who was the driving force to get me back in school. Maybe her example helped shape my own nursing practice. Twenty four years later, I'm now willing to forgive Nurse George her slave driver ways. Without her, I'd still be passing meds to 60 patients a day. I only hope that bringing her up again, I haven't given myself a Beetlejuice like curse.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Where Am I?

One hundred and 25 years ago, when I first began my career in nursing, I worked in a few different nursing homes.  Three to be exact.  They were each in their way, pretty awful.  I made a promise to my parents, and then my husband's parents, that this would never be their fates.  So far, I've held true to my promise.  Mr. Larger Than Life is pushing it though.

A few of these places aren't too bad and I shouldn't generalize, but for God's sake, some of these places I'd liken to being in perdition.  They're noisy and smell completely awful.  Although doors can open, alarms go off when they do.  Their call light systems are atrocious. For a girl who has ringing in her ears, being in a place like this for more than a minute, can bring on a headache of monumental proportions.

Recently, I've been in and out of many nursing homes to see patients.  When the smell of urine assaults my nostrils the minute I step through the doors, I know it's not such a great place.  For the life of me, I don't understand the use of carpeting in places like these.  For those who own animals, you know how hard it is to get dog or cat pee out of carpet, why would human pee be any different?  I'm perplexed why anyone would try to make a nursing home try to look homey when it's so unsanitary.  It's like putting perfume on a pig-it may smell a smidge better, but it's still a pig.

I'm not being critical of the need to place people in nursing homes.  I'm a lot more resourceful than many when it comes to caring for a person with physical needs.  I totally get it when it comes to being incapable of meeting a loved one's needs.  I do.  I just don't get why some of these facilities get away with what they do.  When I go into some of these places now, I don't look down on the employees.  Truly, they're doing the best they can with limited resources.  Who I think about are the owners of places like this.  Who is collecting the rent?  Do they have to squeeze every nickel out and not provide what's needed in terms of numbers to care for all of these people?  Greed is the bottom line here.  I know their reimbursements aren't that great, but I have to think care can be provided in a more humane manner.  I see it out there.  Some places do it well. 

Yes Mr. or Mrs. Landlord, it's you I think of when my ears start ringing while sitting at the desk.  Oh yes, the place devoid of workspace, copy machines, paperclips or even paper.  One day recently, the only paper available was blank on one side and had flyers from local store advertisements printed on the other.  Somehow, I don't think that this is what's meant when using recycled paper.  Usually, and I'm not lecturing here, the paper is made from other recycled paper and is blank ON BOTH SIDES.  Sheesh.  I have to make copies for a legal document on this paper and that's the best you've got?

Anyways, I went to one of these places recently and forgot to get some copies of some things and now, I have to go back in to get them.  Perhaps I should use the medical examiner's trick of Vicks Mentholated Ointment just inside the nostrils to get in and out without feeling nauseous. That's what I get for being preoccupied with the noise and smell of that place.

For my kids, if you ever put me in a place like this, I'll haunt you.  I swear it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Back at IT

I've been knitting again and it feels pretty good.  I'm relieved my slump was minor and temporary; perhaps I just needed a little break from it all.  I'm plowing through Clapotis and have gone well past the halfway mark.  Maybe by next weekend, I'll finish it.  I hope so since it's certainly timely in terms of the weather. 

Next up in the knitting queue are the sleeves for my pink sweater and since October is the month for pink, I'm itching to get this done.  If I knit the sleeves side by side on a long cable needle, they'll be finished at the same time and I won't be plagued with finishitis.   I started this sweater in March and the body of the sweater has been done since June.  I think it's time to finish it up.  I actually pulled the yarn and pattern out of storage and it's that much closer to me now.

During all my time knitting, I've been considering the differences of opinion that I seem to share with a few of my relatives.  With my husband, I've had some pretty big fundamental differences.  The last major one was over our iron.  I hated the Black and Decker iron, preferring instead, my expensive Rowenta iron.  Two years ago, my oldest child lost her roommate and by default, her iron.  She ended up taking my Rowenta.  Not so sadly, the Black and Decker died last week and I found myself shopping for a new iron.  Now would have been a perfect time to take back the Rowenta and slip it in under my husband's nose, but I didn't.  I went out and bought a duplicate of the cheap iron we'd had.  Over time, I've come to agree with his point of view.  The cheap one was lighter, durable and did a decent job.  Its price was $80 less than the Rowenta.  We've suffered many such differences over the years, but none politically.  Thank God for that because I don't think I could live under the same roof if we had major differences like those and I don't recall vetting him for his political viewpoints.  It wouldn't be easy,  as it was with the iron, to sway my opinion in terms of political allegiance.  My politics are written in stone. 

How do Mary Matalin and James Carville do it without killing each other?  I mean, does it get any odder than a right wing republican marrying a hardcore democrat?   James Carville coined the expression, the economy, stupid during Bill Clinton's first bid for the presidency.  Funny that!  It's still the economy, stupid.  Anyways, politics makes strange bedfellows. 

I feel as though I've upset some folks with my political opinions.  I do know a few things for certain.  I don't feel my life is better off than it was 8 years ago.  I feel as though my leaders have lied their asses off for 8 straight years and yes, I know they all lie, but none to the scale our current president and his cronies have.  I'm fully aware that I shouldn't paint John and Sarah with the same brush but, they're from the same party.  How can one help but to look at  the past?  He who does not learn from history is doomed to repeat it. Frightening times.

Well, that's it.  I'm back to my knitting now.  I'm thinking I'll watch this movie:

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Once in a while, I'll see someone who appears familiar to me but really, I don't know that person. If they resemble someone famous, I'll form an immediate opinion about the unknown person based on how I feel about the celebrity. I know a lot of people who do this and when it's hard to overcome someone's first impression of a person, this can be so unfair. When I was younger, thirty pounds thinner, less wrinkled and saggy, I had a short blond haircut and I looked at first glance like a certain celebrity. Some of my friends took to calling me by this woman's name. Complete strangers would look at me and say, "gee, you look familiar." Were they also thinking of the famous coochie shot in that movie this star made? Did they form an immediate opinion of me based on some starlet's crotch? Did they wonder to themselves if I was wearing panties? Did they wonder if I was a deadly killer? Probably. Thankfully, they'd usually keep those thoughts to themselves. My best friend Fanette is a dead ringer for Julia Louis-Dreyfus. When her long, dark and curly hair is pulled back-she looks just like Elaine from Seinfeld. Everyone loves Elaine so that isn't such a bad celebrity look alike. She doesn't have to overcome the crotch thing when it comes to first impressions.

One of my worst experiences in celebrity sitings took place in November 2004, right after the unfortunate re-election of Bush-Cheney. This was when my mother in law Patty was diagnosed with cancer. She had several areas of her body that showed tumor including bone, liver, brain and lung. Since the tumor in her chest seemed to be the easiest to get at to diagnose the source of her cancer, she was scheduled for a wedge resection of her lung. I sat with her in the pre-op area where she'd been given a mild sedative. Right across the aisle was a dead ringer for Dick Cheney who was waiting to go in for open heart surgery. The patient was surrounded by his very anxious family and he seemed loved-not a bad thing for a Cheney look alike. I turned my back to them, more in an effort to ignore their own family drama than avoiding looking at Dick. Patty couldn't ignore it though and she was facing right towards this group.

My mother in law didn't like George Bush but completely despised Dick Cheney. To her, Cheney was evil incarnate. Combine the effects of the brain tumor, fear for her life, impending surgery and sedating drugs and well, Patty let loose with her feelings for the patient across the aisle whom she was convinced, was the devil himself. She was whispering, but to me, it sounded as though she were shouting. She said some pretty awful stuff about Dick. She wondered why anyone would be sad if he died. Why were all those people standing around his bed? He wouldn't be missed if he died in the operating room. Clearly, this vision of the devil was real to her. I pulled the curtains and prayed that family didn't hear her. This was not something that this kind and loving woman I knew would ever say out loud; she'd have been mortified if she'd been aware of what transpired. It wasn't her talking, it was the cancer in her brain and the drugs. If they heard what she said, I hope this family understood.

This was such a stressful time for our family. I've put so many feelings and memories about this period away. Others I remember clearly. For instance, I completely recall what I was knitting while sitting in that O.R. waiting room. I remember having to quickly run out to Michael's because I'd misplaced a knitting needle. I remember everything vividly, including the bad coffee, the looks of worry on all the families waiting and the look on Pat's surgeon's face when he came out for the discussion. He was so compassionate and only one of two doctors to speak honestly about her prognosis; the other was my friend, an opthamologist who'd ordered her first head CT. I remember too, what I wrote in the book in the chapel. But the pre-op drama? I had completely buried the Dick Cheney debacle in some deep recess of my brain. The VP debate brought it to the surface.

I have the same feelings about our current VP as Patty had though I keep them pretty much to myself. This man has done more damage to our country and our democracy than any other politician past or present. I firmly believe this destruction may be like an incurable cancer rotting away at the core of things. I hope not. Now we are faced with a VP candidate who seems to think Cheney has done no wrong. When asked during the debate to name the best and worst things Cheney has done in the past 8 years, Sarah Palin said, "Worst thing, I guess, that woulda been the duck hunting accident, where, you know, that was, that was an accident. And that was made into a caricature of him, and that was kind of unfortunate." Really? That's the worst thing she can come up with? Cheney has done way worse than that and the first thing that comes to my mind is not the quail hunting incident. It's the lies about Iraq, his ties to Haliburton, his torture policies and his stand on the rights to privacy that every "Joe Sixpack" deserves. There is more, but that's a start. Can Sarah Palin be that thoughtless? It's possible. I'd feel so much better about that camp if someone would just remove this woman from the picture and slip her doppelgänger, Tina Fey, into her spot.

For the VP candidate, God forbid should you be elected, here is an excellent tutorial on what the constitution states are your duties as a Vice President of the United States.


Thirteen years to the day brings much different news...

Friday, October 3, 2008

Where's Quickhide?

As I was saying, I've got the most interesting neighbors. Years ago, we had The Runner. Some neighbors were certain she was training for a marathon but my husband was not so sure. He was convinced she was running from something in her life. We'd see her many, many miles from home. It was all she did. She'd come out of her door early in the morning and run all day. Thoughtfully, while running, she'd left her young daughter behind at home with her mother.  Eventually, many hours later and well after dark, she'd come back.  

I think she was running from my next door neighbor Quickhide, the one on my left-who is completely out of her mind. When I first moved in here, I thought Quickhide was charming. And she was Middle Eastern, just like us. The only difference was she was the real deal, a Syrian immigrant. It didn't take too long for the real person within her to emerge. Quickhide would knock on my door at the butt crack of dawn, carrying an empty coffee cup and pretty much invite herself in for a pot of joe. Not a cup.  A pot. Subtle hints like starting to vacuum, dust and mop around her, just couldn't get rid of her. Soon, it was all about her. Can you shovel her snow? Can you trim her shrubs? Can you mow her lawn? Can you move her furniture?  Whatever the request, it was always prefaced with a complement. "Can your strong and handsome husband do something for me?"  When my son was old enough, the question became, "can your strapping young son do something for me?" This woman had adult children of her own who were fully capable of doing her chores.  Also, I think she's loaded.  If nothing else, she could have paid people to do these things.

I pretty much stopped inviting her into the house. I had to because she never knew when to leave and she couldn't take an outright invitation to leave-let alone a subtle hint.  With her around, I couldn't get anything done. Nobody could.   She hated being in her home and because of that, she became the entire neighborhood's problem. She was like Velcro-she'd stick to you like nothing else. There have been times over the years when I've watched every neighbor on the block scatter when they saw her coming. Everyone would be outside doing something in their yards but when they saw her coming, it was as if the plague were headed their way. That's when we took to calling her Quickhide. Quick! Hide! Here she comes.  Everyone would scatter leaving yard tools everywhere.

If we weren't careful when pulling into or out of the drive, she'd corner us to talk. And talk. And talk. And talk.  These were always one sided conversations about her.  Or her husband- but mainly her.  Poor Rachel has been used as an excuse for years.  "Look Quickhide, I'd love to stay and talk, but I can't leave Rachel alone."  And, "no, I don't need company.   You don't want to go in there because she has the flu, bronchitis, meningitis, pneumonia, malaria, ecoli, cholera, measles, chicken pox AND ebola virus right now."  If another one of us was in the house and saw one of us cornered, they'd step outside with the receiver of the phone as a ploy to say goodbye to Quickhide.  That person would say, "it's Grandma on the phone and something is terribly wrong."  I don't know if she knew it, but there was never anyone on the other end of the phone.  It was a prop.   She would then move along down the street to corner some other neighbor unwise enough to be caught unprepared.

The other day, I got a call to go out and pronounce a patient's death.  Now, I have one hour between the time I get the page, until the time I show up at a person's doorstep when a death has occurred.   We don't want family members to be alone during that time.  It's stressful enough and this is one of those times they really need us.   Unfortunately, I didn't check to be sure the coast was clear before I left the house.  Usually, I'm in my car with the windows up when I press the button on the garage door opener.  It doesn't matter if the coast is clear this way.  There I was standing there in my scrubs with my patient bag, computer bag and emergency box, when out of nowhere, Quickhide shows up and wants to talk.  I felt I'd been caught with my pants down.   I had to bluntly tell her, "look, I don't mean to be rude, but I have to go."  "Now."  Five minutes later, I told her forcefully, "look, you have to move out of the way, I'm leaving."  I even told her where I was going.  That someone had died and there was a family in need.  Even that didn't move her.  How can a person be this thick?  I don't have what it takes to be rude and often find myself cornered by her.  After 15 years, you'd think I'd know to send scouts out first to be sure I'm safe in leaving.  Someday, surely I'll learn.