Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Fur Trade

A new twist in Aunt Dee's thieving ways...Naturally, Grandma accused her of stealing a lot of things today and threatened to hit her over the head next time she sees her. (She'll do it, too!)

Today's Stolen Items:
*beach chairs
*pill box
*everything in the basement

However, today Grandma must be feeling generous because she claims some things she found must have been brought over by Aunt Dee. I don't think I've ever seen this before! She never acknowledges all that my aunt does for her. Maybe we are turning a page in this crime-ridden saga.

So while Aunt Dee did make off with a pretty good haul today, she "left" three fur coats that Grandma claims never to have seen before! One of them appears to be bobcat or cheetah, which could be kind of fun this winter. Is fur still wrong to wear even if it is vintage?

**Some disclaimers**
I stole the pill box. Unfortunately, Grandma has been very confused about the date lately and her pills were all out of order. She takes nearly a dozen per day and it's a lot to keep track of. Days were half-finished or not touched at all or she would have the wrong day open. So, I've been putting her pills together every morning and just putting that out for her. But, I'll let Aunt Dee take the fall for the missing pill box.

Grandma insists that the basement is empty, when in fact it is full of stuff. I tried to tell her, "The basement is full of stuff" but she wasn't having it. "I was just in there! It's empty! Aunt Dee must have taken everything."

One of the fur coats (raccoon, I believe) is definitely Grandma's and she's probably had it since the 1950s.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pomp and Circumstance

My father recently completed coursework to become a counselor for alcoholism and substance abuse. Tonight we went to his graduation ceremony with Aunt Dee and her husband, my Great-Aunt Ellie, and of course, Grandma.

Like most graduations, there were several speakers before the actual presentation of the graduates. Grandma was pretty confused today and didn't know why we were out or what we were doing, despite our repeated explanations. She had been lured out of the house with promises of dinner and she was NOT having all of these delays. By the second speaker Grandma started to mumble "I'm getting hungry! I don't eat this late!" "This late" being not even 7:00pm. I fished a cereal bar out of my bag and was able to appease her for a little bit (and also felt like the mother of a cranky toddler).

The speakers continued to file up to the podium. "Another one? When do we eat?"

The class representative moved to the mike and offered heartfelt advice based on his experience working with alcoholics and their families. "Is he still talking? Shut up, already!"

We tried to shush her and keep her patient. "I don't know what's taking so long!"

Finally, the graduates were called to the front of the room to receive their certificates.

Dinner is getting close. We're in the homestretch. It should be about five more minutes where Grandma needs to be kept calm. And then. As the graduates are being individually presented, the graduates who are now trained to treat alcoholism, in a hospital dedicated to fighting addictions, in a room full of people who have personal connections to alcoholism or are recovering alcoholics themselves, Grandma lets out this little bomb: "I could use a drink! That would pep me up!"

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Number One Fan

It's getting a little hot in the house. You know why? Come on, one guess.

Because Aunt Dee stole our floor fan!

You can probably recite the rest of this conversation by now...

"I used to have a floor fan. I wonder what happened to it. Aunt Dee must have taken it. She sees something she wants and she takes it. I don't know why she can't buy her own!"

Luckily, my dad had bought us a new power fan to replace the "stolen" one. It's a good thing we have this one, 'cause we all know how heated Grandma gets over stolen goods.

UPDATE! Aunt Dee also stole the air conditioner.

Never Heard of It! volume 2

More culinary adventures for Grandma! I was making my favorite snack - crackers with pesto and mozzarella - when Grandma walked into the kitchen.

"What're you making?"
"Cheese and crackers with pesto."
"What's that? Never heard of it!"
"It's a spread of basil and garlic."

She ponders this new exotic item in our kitchen. Two seconds later...

"What're you making?"
"Cheese and crackers with pesto. You want one?"
"What the hell is pesto? I never heard of it!"
"It's a spread of basil and garlic."
"Well, how should I know that? I'm not Italian. Maybe if I was Italian I'd know."

The verdict? "That's nice."

I also bought some cashews. "I don't think I ever had a cashew...they're ok." Sometimes it feels a little bit like that old Saturday Night Live skit, "The Delicious Dish" where the NPR ladies present really bland and normal foods as the theme for the episode. On our next show...rice.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

FIFA Fever!

I put on the end of the Germany v. Australia match and Grandma is LOVING it. She seems to be completely amused and amazed by soccer. "They use their heads! One of them is wearing red slippers! Red slippers, can you imagine?"

I see many more games in our future!


The heat is on and Grandma and I are ready for summer. As we get the backyard set, looking forward to a lazy season of grilling and lounging in the hammock, a dark cloud passes over our preparations. Aunt Dee has been at it again!

Summer Things Aunt Dee Has Stolen:

Beach chairs

When will Aunt Dee ever learn? She needs to buy her own ketchup!

*The appearance of my hammock prompted Grandma to say, "I used to have a hammock. Aunt Dee took it." We have no evidence that Grandma ever had a hammock, and if she did how long ago that was. The same applies to the grill and the beach chairs. The ketchup was found in the refrigerator door, where it always is.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Dirty Laundry

As you might expect, after 90 years of life, Grandma is pretty set in her ways. Nowhere is this more apparent than in her feelings towards laundry. She is very specific about everything laundry-related and is fiercely protective of her clothesline. (Of course, who can really blame her? Aunt Dee has been known to steal the clothespins and the runner that pulls the top and bottom line together).

Some examples:

I set the washer to cold water to save energy and because, you know, most of my clothes recommend washing them at that temperature. According to Grandma, "You need to use hot water or you won't kill the germs!"

I also fill the washer. Uh uh. Grandma is not having it. "You can't do that! You'll break my machine!" I'm not sure why she distrusts the machine and its manufacturers so much. Wouldn't it be designed to work at capacity? She never fills it more than 2/3, which makes it very difficult to actually get all of your laundry done. Also, you can't just put your clothes in the machine. They have to be artfully arranged to create the perfect balance. Again, we don't want to break the machine.

While Grandma is napping, I am hanging my clothes on the line. She wakes up and charges into the yard, "You can't do laundry on a Sunday! The neighbors will talk!" I try to persuade her that really no one cares about our laundry or the day we do it, but she is adamant. She won't have me shaming us with my illicit laundry habit. Sometimes I am tempted to use the dementia to my advantage, "What do you mean, Grandma? Today's only Saturday...."

Which brings us to the task of hanging clothes. Apparently this is a delicate skill that has been lost in our careless time of dryers. Just as you can't drop your clothes into the machine, you can't just pull them out. They have to be sorted by weight and type. When the clothes are ready to be put on the line, again they have to go in some kind of category. I'm not sure what that is though, because Grandma constantly changes her mind about whether light or heavy items go on first. A good rule of thumb, whatever way I'm hanging them? It's wrong!

This also applies to the clothespins themselves. They seem simple, right? Open the pin, put the edge of the clothing up to the line, close the pin, the end. Right? Ha! Fools! "Who taught you how to hang clothes? That's not how you do it!" Grandma snatches the pins and the garment from me and proceeds to re-hang it. I'm still trying to figure out how her technique is different from mine, but she always looks upon her pinning with a self-satisfied nod.

Belly Up to the Bar

In her more lucid moments Grandma gets a little embarrassed about forgetting things. I try to lighten the mood by saying, "Have you been drinking again?"

She always laughs and responds, "You're right! I should take up drinking! Then I'd have an excuse."

I think I may have unwittingly planted a seed in her brain because now she seems to be craving booze. We polished off the blackberry brandy awhile ago, so now along with her usual wistful requests for "a nice piece of cake with a lot of icing" she's been starting to talk about cocktails she wants. "Oooh, I'd like a rum and Coke or a rye and ginger. I always liked daiquiris, but you can't drink too many of those."

Sometimes she comments on how tired she is, so I accuse her of being out late and partying with her friend Alice down the block. "Oh no, Alice doesn't drink. I'd always have a highball or a cocktail when I went out, but Alice doesn't drink."

Maybe Grandma and I will host our own party. The menu will include all her favorite things: pizza, McDonald's, strawberry shortcake, and daiquiris. We'll see if we invite Alice.