A lot has happened since I last posted. Holidays in Jasper with my daughter, and six weeks in Whitehorse with my oldest daughter. I needed that time to try and find myself back somewhat. It has been harder then I expected. Almost 4 years of intense care giving has left my mind in a rut where it wants to keep me ready to jump up and do everyone’s bidding. That means not working on my art work because it will get interrupted. My mind thinks I still need to “thread water” marking time.
My father decided that he wanted to live in a seniors residence with other people of his age so he moved out in August and deeded the house to my sister. So when I returned from Whitehorse we renovated and redecorated. We removed the formerly white carpet (what was my mother thinking off!?!), painted, and put down new flooring. I now have my own bedroom and we moved the studio upstairs.
Cutting space and inspiration wall
What you are not seeing is the wonderful big north facing window. The very very cold big north facing window, in the coldest room in the house, in Edmonton where it regularly gets down to -25c as a high for the day.
Now my new bedroom is in the centre of the house in a nice warm room. It is the former study and it has two very big closets, one that was used for the computer with a desk built in so it could be locked away when my parents were gone. So for the third time I reorganized my studio space. I emptied the boxes of my yarn to under the very cold window (more insulation), I sorted and shredded a lot of person papers and cleared a space in my closet.
View from the bed
work space in the closet
Note the space for the cat. There was another space on the other side but he preferred to be where the lamp was. The body parts are part of a project for the fibre arts group call for submissions.
So for the first time since 1979 I am back in the closet – until spring. I am looking forward to spring.
It is spring, or at least it keeps trying to be spring. We had a nice 3 inches of snow on Good Friday but it is going up again today so it should be gone by tonight. The Easter Bunny won’t have to mush its dog team through the snow to get here. At least it is light when I walk the dog in the morning, it is past the point where I am watching the pretty sun rises.
On the home front, we now have a doctor who comes to the house to see my mother, which is a huge relief. The new caregiver is great. A nice young man who is strong and gentle too and the parents like him. Things are still sliding slowly downhill but now I have resources I can call on. I am going weekly to meditation. It is very simple introduction level but it is just what I need, escape on Thursday nights. Health wise I saw the clinic for pelvic floor issues and it is not as scary as I thought, though the oestrogen therapy lasted only 4 days, and caused mental fog and migraines, so it is going to be exercises and probably an operation eventually in the future. But a huge weight has been lifted off my mind and I can now start working out again. As soon as the snow disappears, again, I will start running.
Talking of escape, I am going to Jasper for 5 days in the begin of May on a knitting retreat. The retreat is only the weekend but I decided to add some days to it. My youngest sister is coming for a week and taking over from me. I plan to spend a lot of time walking, taking pictures and doing art.
In the meantime I have been knitting socks. I also crocheted a hat that just abut killed my wrist. Tight crochet into the back of the stitch required a twist of the wrist that it didn’t like AT ALL!! So I am currently wearing a wrist brace and Dad’s socks have been being knit continental style (yarn in my left hand) which made them a bit slower.
Mom’s other socks with cat
Vanessa’s bed sock with dog
I have been working on the Pan / Green Man doll the last 2 weeks. I was reading the latest Wild Fibre magazine and they had a photo of these 4 horned black sheep that just enchanted me so now he has 4 horns. Oh and a penis because he is a fertility god after all. He has the first layer of hair on also. The background is kind of messy because I got fed up not being able to get into my studio and dragged it all upstairs and I have been working at the kitchen table. This means more interruptions, including my father making jokes about it….. But at least I am getting something done.
And that little bang?
Someone dropped this strange tube with electrical wires coming out of it behind the garage that the guy who does the lawn took one look at and called the police, who called the bomb squad. So we had a bomb scare in the alley!
We were told to get into the basement – umm no we can’t do that because mom can’t walk – so we had to stay at the front of the house while they blew it up. The whole thing took from 7am to 10:30 am when there was a sound of a garbage can being dropped. Apparently this was “oil field debris” that someone dropped off behind the garage along with one table leg and an empty bottle. And I thought life was a little boring and humdrum.
A week ago the dog got sick and spent a couple of days at the vet. Yes I know, I needed that like a hole in the head. However those couple of days showed me how much I depended on those 15 -20 minute walks. It is a time just for me and the dog and it is non guilt inducing and non-negotiable – the dog must be walked several times a day since we don’t have a fenced yard and we have wall to wall carpeting.
Every morning at 7 am we go out and walk. We watch the sun rise in spring and fall, we shuffle through the dark in winter and we pretend to run in the summer. We surprise the hares in the fields and sometimes we meet the little white dog from down the road getting its morning walk. While us humans use our stock phrases of “nice morning” and so on the dogs have a fest of sniffing and bouncing.
Walking similar routes everyday I see the gardens changing with the seasons in minute details. I see the cosmos that have escaped to the field and watch the fruit trees blossom, show their fruit and lose it. I see the backyard that was an over grown mess suddenly cut down and groomed as new owners take control. After storms there are suddenly gaps in trees and crushed fences and huge puddles as sump pumps work their magic. And I walk past it all day after day, 3 times a day, just breathing and watching. The show goes on for me without lifting a finger, just walking and picking up the poop. Through sun, rain, snow, sleet and darkness, just walking and picking up poop.
It makes the days bearable. I can leave some of the stress out there for the gods to compost.
(Note: since the last post the number of new caregivers we have had for Mom since June 23rd is now 25)
No I am not screaming, sometimes turning the air blue, but I am not screaming….. yet.
After my nice holiday and the show I settled back into the routine until Alberta Health Services decided in its particular lack of wisdom to put out bids for home care to save money. Suddenly we had another home care provider, all the old familiar faces that someone with dementia needs disappeared overnight to be replaced with, in one week, 11 different caregivers. Yes 11 different people, many of whom had no experience, no clue what they should be doing and couldn’t lift a flea to save their lives. Since the end of June we have had 19 different people. All of whom I had to train.
During this time Mom has gotten worse (we had a trip to ER) and no longer pushes off when stood up and doesn’t step, so the care givers have been ordered to either use the hoist or have me lift her. Yes, that is right a 65 year old woman is lifting someone because those 20 somethings have no clue how to do this. Because the hoist is a joke, it is complicated and slow. We use it for bathing, note the “we” because I have to help with the hoist too.
And of course they come earlier so I no longer have any quiet, private time in the morning to help me balance, to journal or pretend to workout, so I can face the rest of the day.
We had some wonderful caregivers with the previous company but they couldn’t switch because they were indentured servants, i.e. foreign workers, full trained Filipino nurses who were amazing. Actually they were probably lucky to have a contract because all the other caregivers got their wages cut while the executives got bonuses and pay increases.
I have done quite a lot of knitting, mostly to keep from screaming. I did some painting too, but most of those were “experimental” and mostly splashing stuff on a page, not for public consumption. I did some work on Pan, doing more sculpting on his head. It is amazing how many hours one can needle sculpt without it making any difference to a photo.
It has been a while since I posted, that was because life got complicated. Then it got blissfully simple and now it is back to complicated again.
I went for 17 days to Nova Scotia to visit my youngest daughter, Vanessa, who was starring in her first lead role as Nanki pooh in The Mikado by Gilbert and Sulivan. Yes my blond buxom daughter sang the role of a Japanese male. She did a good job of it too, if mother can say so!
Vanessa and Theodore the Tug Boat in the rain
Me and Vanessa on the ferry to Halifax
Actually I thought I had booked to go for 10 days but when I went to pick up the car I was shocked to discover I had a return flight for the 28th not the 21st. Everyone said that must have been a “Freudian slip”. So I called the care giver company in panic and booked them for an extra week to look after the parents.
I had a great relaxing holiday. I slept late, ate too much of all sorts of foods, but especially seafood,I did a lot of knitting and I got rained on a lot. We did a lot of sightseeing and got rained on a lot. I had planned to run every morning but it was either raining or foggy every day except 2 and my body didn’t like that – in two weeks I emptied my puffer and my nasal spray, walking was a challenge enough. Luckily I rented an adorable little car – a Fiat 500 in metallic orange – sort of like driving a tiny pumpkin. It had a sun roof and on one of the two sunny days we opened it for a few minutes but it was barely 12C so we nearly froze.
Here are some shots – taken between the rain showers.
Daffodils at the Ferry terminal
The Lookout near Wolfville
Liverpool dock yard
Halls Harbour rocks and pilings
The Liverpool one was one of the two sunny days. She had a show there and we stayed at the Lanes privateer inn. Very nice with very good food and friendly helpful staff.
So I realized I was blocked – again – but in a different way. Is that progress? I started “The Artist Way” By Julia Cameron again, for the 4th or 5th? time. I tried one of the later books last summer but it didn’t really click and I realized I needed to go back to the beginning.
Usually when I do the 13 weeks I look for a way to change my life to match what I want or need. That is not going to happen this time. There are too many fixed variables in the system requirements this time. This time it is all about internal change because the external is fixed.
This time it is much much harder in that I hit a block right in week one. I have always kind of ignored week ones exercises because I have very little memory of my life before age 13. They are there but most are not retrievable easily. High fever and a coma will do that to you. This time I kind of wanted to look at underlying causes but no go. I had that problem in the later book in this series too, “Going for Gold” , most of that is based on digging through ones biography.
This is the end of week two, another really unsuccessful week. There were days where there were two sentences on the page. There is in this chapter a lot about the people around me. Not going there. I hope week three will be better.
On a positive note, Pan now has fully sculpted legs attached to his body.