Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day

My grandma is full of cool surprises. For example, I recently learned that she knows (or knew) how to operate a meat slicer! Her father owned a store, so this was one of the skills she learned when she was growing up. She mentioned, rather proudly, that she would always be in charge of slicing at church dinners because none of the other women knew how to.

When I think about environmental problems, like people who don't recycle, I often stereotype them as cranky old people who don't know any better or are just too stubborn to change. But here is another happy surprise from Grandma, she is a fierce recycler! Maybe you already guessed that because of her possessiveness about the recycling calendar, but she is very intense about her eco-responsibilities.

I think a lot of this stems from growing up during the Great Depression. She was born in 1920, so her formative years were dominated by the Depression. She hates waste of any kind. I'm a pretty eco-conscious person, but Grandma puts me to shame! She still uses a clothesline rather than a dryer. She's always scolding me for leaving lights on (even if I'm going right back into the room!) or leaving the faucet dripping. In my defense, I think she is the one who leaves the faucet on, but then she forgets and blames me.

When I moved in and was putting my cleaning products under the sink, I found at least 8 empty glass jars because, "Glass jars are handy. You never know when you'll need one." My dad and I recently cleaned out the pantry. We found a shockingly old bottle (This story deserves its own post. Stay tuned!). The bottle was so old, that I deemed it too gross to even attempt cleaning for recycling. Sorry environment, this one is being sacrificed to the landfill. Grandma saw the glass bottle in the garbage and was not having it. "You can't throw this away! It needs to go in the recycling!" She then spent the better part of a day soaking the jar and scraping out the congealed nastiness so this one little jar could be recycled.

So on this Earth Day, let's all take a lesson from Grandma and do our part.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pass the Brandy!

My grandma has a bottle of blackberry brandy in the fridge. She often thinks it's wine and offers it at dinner (or really any time she sees it). The other night we actually drank some. This blackberry brandy is 70 proof. It tastes sort of like super sweet cough syrup with a nice little burn that tickles down your throat. It's strong, people!

Grandma poured herself a pretty sizable swig and then said, "Oh, I don't normally drink so much. I don't think I can finish this..."

I said, "I'll drink some with you."

She took another cup out of the cabinet and put it on the table. I'm thinking she'd pour from her glass, but she went straight back to the bottle for my glass.

As we ate dinner, she kept commenting on how much she'd poured and how it was more than her usual.

While I got started on the dishes, she brought her glass over. Empty. She had polished off that whole sucker!

"Whoa, Grandma! You finished that whole thing?"

"Yeah. Woooo, I can feel it."

"Go sit down, I'll finish the dishes."

"You're right. I better sit down before I fall down! I don't usually drink this much, you know."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Things Aunt Dee Steals

As I mentioned, my grandma is constantly moving things and not remembering where they are. Then, when she can't find something, she accuses my aunt of stealing it. Usually with the following statement, "She sees something she wants and she takes it! She has a car. She has money. I don't know why she can't buy her own!" This happens every day, multiple times per day.

My aunt is one of the most generous people I know. The problem with this scenario, other than the obvious insult to my aunt, is that all of the things she "steals" are completely worthless!

Things Aunt Dee Steals:

Recycling calendar
Bath mat
Bobbie pins

I try to reason with my grandma. I remind her that the recycling calendar is hanging on the refrigerator. Logic. That works, right? She goes to inspect the calendar on the fridge and says, "Oh. But, I had a better one. Aunt Dee stole it."

Is Dementia Contagious?

I recently moved in with my 90-year-old grandmother. She's cute and feisty in her old age. She's in good spirits and is in pretty good health physically. But, she has dementia. It mostly effects her short term memory. As in she has none. Most of our conversations are held at least five times. She has a habit of moving things around and then forgetting where they are. Days of the week are getting a little tricky for her.

I'm not trying to make light of my grandma's condition. It's really sad and a lot of stress on our family. But, a lot of these situations are so absurd that we just have to laugh about them. All of the repetition and constantly moving items is making me a little crazy and leaves me wondering, Is Dementia Contagious?