Going Home

It’s Saturday, and my sister calls. Mom’s been throwing up, she’s going to the hospital in an hour or so. I tell her I’ll come home. Mom started hospice a few days ago. We didn’t expect things to progress this fast. I make arrangements for the kiddo to stay with his dad, check the food and water for the cats and throw a fifty in my bathroom drawer so they can hit the pet store in case I’m not back before the cats drain the feeder. I realize I still haven’t done laundry. That was supposed to be today. I throw my laptop and iPad in my messenger bag along with a pair of sweats and a tshirt. This will be the second time in a week I’ve stopped at Target to grab shirts, socks and underwear before making the five hour drive back home.

It’s a long drive, with nothing really to look at. Music will just make me doze off, so I listen to eleven episodes of Mystery Detectives on Sirius. It seems weird listening to a TV show on the radio, but I’m not really listening. I call Mom as I roll into town around 6:30. She says my sister wants me to pick her up on the way to the hospital. I park the car in front of Susan’s house and the dog rolls over onto her back as I approach the steps. I rub her belly and she whines for more as Susan and I head to the car.

We walk down the long hospital corridor and I’m sort of surprised that I haven’t been here since my nephew was born sixteen years ago. I’ve never seen this new wing. It’s pretty nice, as far as hospitals go. We walk in and Mom’s happy to see us. They say she’s got a blockage, so they’re trying to clean her out. They give her a bottle of stuff to drink. She’s making the same face that Dad makes when we make him eat his yogurt. Despite the yuck face, she’s surprisingly cheery. Optimistic, even. She’s talking about staying off hospice, about trying chemo again, maybe even surgery. We stay until visiting hours are over, and then head back to Susan’s for a bit before crashing in the spare room at Mom and Dad’s.

Sunday morning. We eat breakfast at the cafe and then go see Mom. She’s been up all night, but the stuff they made her drink last night did it’s job, and she’s feeling better. We chat for a bit, and then she and Dad are both ready for a nap. I ask Dad what he wants for dinner. He says pancakes would be ok, but I feel like I need to make him something better than that. I head to the small town grocery store where I worked in high school. It seems so much smaller now. There’s not much in the way of produce, but I grab what looks good. I know Dad likes lemon, so I roast some chicken, potatoes, asparagus and lemons. Susan brings over homemade spice cake. Dad likes the roasted lemons. He even eats the peel. Susan and I ewww but he says that’s the best part. We don’t believe him.

We head back to the hospital for a bit. They want to run some scans to see if there’s any blockage left. Susan and I head back to her place. My brother-in-law is determined to make us watch a scary movie he says made him too scared to stay in the garage last night. It’s some ghost-stuck-in-the-electricity-of-the-house thing. We watch it and Susan and I laugh at all the stupid mistakes people in scary movies always make.

It’s Monday. Mom was up all night in pain again, but she says that now that they’re giving her the morphine again, she can cross her final item off her bucket list: become a drug addict. We all giggle. We have to find humor in the little things. It makes the reality easier to swallow. There are two new masses that are blocking off her insides. The local doctor says there might be a couple surgical options, and there’s one more chemo drug that might shrink them. The oncologist will come down from the city, they can decide more then.

I drive over to the small down drugstore/gift shop. I used to walk these aisles looking for something to spend my allowance on. I grab some lip balm for Mom and look for something to combat her dry mouth. I find it on the shelf above the spray deodorant, which is on the shelf above the RAID bug spray, which cracks me up wondering if anyone’s ever grabbed the wrong can. I notice a little battery powered tealight shaped like a birthday cake and add it to my pile of stuff at the register.

When I get back to the hospital, Mom and I celebrate her extra birthday with the tealight cake. She’s developed a mathematical formula where every month of chemo is worth three months. That means after four years of several rounds of chemo, this week is her 77th birthday. She’s ready for a nap again, so I leave her to it.

Dad’s napping too, and Susan’s at work for a few more hours, so I drive around town for a bit. It looks brighter than it did last year. Several houses have new roofs and siding in sherbet colors. Butter lemon, light green, seafoam blue. No homeowners’ associations here to force the color of oatmeal onto every home. It makes me smile. There’s the park where I used to play, but the playground equipment is all new. It’s the plastic kind with all kinds of features to prevent kids from falling off. We used to use the high bar of the swingset to do gymnastics. I guess that’s too dangerous now.

I drive by the school where I went to first grade, and wonder how far my daily walk to school was. I reset the trip odometer and find out. It’s .5 miles back to the spot where our house used to be. The house is gone now, along with most of the other houses on that block. Another .2 miles to the building where Mom used to work. I think about the heart attack suburban parents would have if their seven year old walked that distance on their own. Wussies. Down the street, the swimming pool I used to practically live at in the summer has been renamed the Aquatic Center. It’s still just a pool. With a slide.

I drive by the apartment where Mom and I used to live. Across the street, my high school English teacher is mowing the lawn. I step out of the car. He stops the mower and gives me a hug. He was my favorite teacher. He says the artwork I gave him in high school still hangs in his living room. He’s been retired for years, but he still subbed 95 days out of 180 this year. I think the kids are lucky to have him.

Mom told me to call her before I came back to the hospital in case she wanted some ice cream. She doesn’t. She feels overfull again. I pick up an Orange Julius to tempt her with anyway. She doesn’t want any. I bring her the peppermint oil for her tummy. She throws up the two bowls of soup she ate today. She looks tired, and I leave so she can get some sleep.

Tuesday. Mom’s supposed to see all the doctors today, and then she can go home. She won’t see them until five or so, and she knows I’ve got a five hour drive so she doesn’t want me to stick around that long. I promise I’ll be back on Saturday, sooner if she wants me, and start the drive home. The more I make this drive, the easier it gets. Just when the dead bugs on the windshield get to be too many, a rain shower washes them off.

Back home, the kid and I go for pizza, but I’m too wiped out to sit in the restaurant so we grab it to go. I talk to Mom on the phone. It doesn’t sound like the surgery or another round of chemo are viable options, so she’s going to go back on hospice. I’ve made peace with that. It’s easier to do because she already has. I’m thankful that we’ve had four years since her diagnosis. I tell myself she’s just graduating from this earthly life, that this body that is shutting down is not her, that she will always be with me until someday I graduate too. I cry for a few minutes, and then I go wash my face because that’s what she’d tell me to do. And then I plan the No More Chemo party we’ll have next Saturday. She can have morphine, and I’ll bring the champagne.

 

 

Life Lessons #1

  • if you park with your window cracked, a bird will shit on both sides of your window at once.
  • if you leave a bottle of kahlua on top of the fridge, the cats will shatter it on the kitchen floor, proceed to get drunk and puke all over your house.
  • if you love a baby turtle, set it free. then wash your hands. those suckers carry salmonella.

Le Studio Garage is open for the season!

le Studio Garage is Open

Since we FINALLY had a weekend without snow, I opened le Studio Garage this weekend.

Unfortunately I didn’t have D around to help me, because there was a lot of cleaning to do. Tons of leaves and dirt and everything else that blows around the neighborhood and into my garage had to be swept out.

I also discovered that my sonic anti-mouse device apparently scares mice to DEATH and not just OUT THE DOOR, because I found a dead mouse actually STUCK to the floor which I had to scrape up with a knife. EWWW.

After that I was so grossed out that I had to hose out the whole garage, and then the neighbor’s AC unit just to be nice, and then the cobwebs off the front of the house and the patio chairs just because by that time I was just having fun playing in the sun with the water hose.

After all that and some wine with the neighbors, I started in on this season’s first piece. Last season, I had started playing with Copic markers at the end of my process, so this season, I decided to start with them. Here’s a sneak preview of what I’m working on – stay tuned or follow @yiddle on twitter to see my progress.

january_sketch_WIP_day1

NEW TOY!

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So I was going to post a review of my new Lenovo Yoga tonight, but I got too busy playing with it and ran out of time. Here are my quick first impressions:

  • Lenovo took note of Apple’s minimal packaging. Box was slim, neatly organized and contained only what was necessary. Nice and clean.
  • It’s so light! And the screen is so pretty!
  • I’ve been using it mostly in tablet mode, having the keyboard flipped back in my lap makes me a little nervous about somehow damaging it long term but my boss showed me how he uses a sleeve to protect his.
  • Once you figure out where stuff is, Win8 rocks
  • I did get a weird memory issue notice, but to be fair I had about 800 things open at once and I’ve been beating on it nonstop doing odd stuff for about 9 hours. Diagnostics didn’t detect anything wrong, hoping it was a fluke.
  • Switching between Win8 mode and desktop mode is a breeze.
  • I need: a good sleeve, maybe a stylus for graphics work? Haven’t really played with Photoshop or Painter yet.
  • Tobycat thinks this touchscreen is also his.

I promise a more thorough review in a day or so!

I get points for that, right?

Your laundry skill increased by 3!

Your laundry skill increased by 3!

Gamification: The use of game elements and game design techniques in non-game contexts.

I am totally one of those people who get suckered in by badges and points and levels and quests. So I decided to take a gamification class at Coursera to find out why.

I am halfway through. So far, I have learned:

  1. This class is not gamified. So I am pretending the assignments are quests.
  2. The quests take up a lot of my weekend time.
  3. I use a lot of gamification apps to talk myself into doing things that are good for me.
  4. Eventually, most of those apps bore me. Now I know why.
  5. Sometimes, the intrinsic rewards make the behavior stick even after I quit the app.
  6. Someone REALLY needs to gamify housework.

Today’s gamification log:

  • Homework for the gamification class. Procured the “halfway done!” badge. I made that one up.
  • Joined fitocracy because it was mentioned in class.
  • Hit the gym and logged 1,101 pts on fitocracy. Not sure I dig fitocracy. Too much work. Also think I did something bad to my knee and my arms are gonna keel me tomorrow.
  • Logged into Na’s Thai Cafe on FourSquare. First time there, extra points! Tip: the tofu pad pak was awesome.
  • Realized I forgot to log into the gym with FourSquare AGAIN. I will never get that stupid gym rat badge! Briefly debated if going back to the gym just to log in would be cheating, then realized that was ridiculous.
  • Oh look! My friend liked my check in at the Thai place!
  • Oh look! People are giving me props on fitocracy for my workout!
  • Oh wait! Realize I hate people checking out my workout and decide I really don’t like fitocracy, but not quite ready to delete just yet. I should give it at least a week, right?
  • Housework. Seriously, I should be getting points for this.

SUPER FAST AMAZING SITE UPDATE

ok.  well, maybe not amazing. but i haven’t been here in a YEAR, and yet I just pulled off a random theme switch redesign and wrote a new post in less than 15 minutes. WHEEEEE!

things i hope to have time to write about soon:

  • food. lots of new recipes
  • new stuff i’m enjoying
  • diy tutorial stuff
  • studio garage season is coming!