Archive for 2008


Saturday, July 12th, 2008

Hello my friends. I thought you might like to see the kinds of things we four sisters email each other, pretty much daily. Mostly about Looking After Mother. As you know, we each have our assigned jobs.

Polly is Medical, I am The Entertainment Committee, Barbara is Finances and Candy does legal stuff and cleans up Mom’s ratty mobile home after the cleaning lady has been there, and etc. I guess she does Catch-All. The two brothers? Well, we put them in charge of taking care of Mom’s car but we girls end up doing that, too.

On Jul 11, 2008, at 7:40 PM, Barbara wrote:
I’ve been sitting here reading your back and forth emails to my friend Kareen who is half asleep on my sofa at the moment. I keep waking her up laughing and she has to know what’s so funny! I always go to Shiley Eye Center. They do get really busy. Too bad, but I’ve never had any exciting adventures there, like you have, Venus.

Here are the emails Barbara is referring to. You know about some of this as I put the first happening in my last blog:

Venus writes:
Hi Polly, Mom told me and Candy the other day that she thinks she needs her eyes checked. She says that at night a dark film comes over one of her eyes and it’s getting worse.

I know you are The Medical Person and you love to handle this kind of thing.

Candy took mom to get a hair cut, down the mountain the other
day and she took her to a nice lunch. They both stopped by my house
after and we had wine and a nice chat.
As they were leaving, Mom thanked ME very much for the hair
cut and the lunch. Twice.
I hope it was the wine talking.
Sorry Candy.
X Venus

Mom likes her haircut 🙂 it doesn’t matter who gets credit for taking her.

I unloaded my fruit tree and dropped off apricots yesterday at the senior center. The place was
packed and the apricots went like hot-cakes. I sat down with mom and her ninety-five year old friend Anita at lunch at the center and Anita said, “Your mom looks ten years younger with her haircut.”
It’s true. I hope Mom will have more spring in her step now 🙂

Her driving sucks.
I watched her leave the senior center. It took her at least five minutes to get herself out of the parking space (not parking lot; parking space).
She had her blinker on (to leave the space) and inched her way out. I suppose not
being able to see has something to do with inching her way out. Oh my. It’s a good thing we made the rules about her only driving on the straight road into town and only where there are stop lights.
Remember when she hit that truck before we knew she had cataracts and got her that operation? She said she ‘didn’t think the truck was that big.’ !

I can take mom to the eye doctor while I have time off. Does anyone know who she sees? The only time I’ve dealt with her eyes was with the two surgeries at that eye center in La Jolla.

Hi Candy, I think it’s the Shiley Center. I took her there only once and they locked me out of the building and locked Mother in it!!!

We had been waiting for hours, it had gotten late, it was dusk and they were behind, so you know how i am about medical stuff; doctors and hospitals make me very nervous. I said ‘mom i gotta’ take a break from this.’

I went outside and sat in my car for awhile but when i tried to get back into the Center, everyone
was gone and the damn doors were locked!!!
The place was all glass and I could see that the entire waiting area was empty and there were no nurses or receptionists at the desks! And, there were no longer any patients in the waiting room.
I had to yell and yell and beat on the doors. Someone like a janitor finally came and opened the door and I shouted, ‘where’s my mother?!’

The man took me on a hunt and we finally found her in a back room waiting for a doctor who was still there somewhere in the bowels of the place.
I said that was the last time i was ever going to that Shiley
Center. Too much trauma. I thought I had lost Mother.
X Venus

Gosh! You’re still whining about that one trip to the eye doctor.
I’m pretty sure Polly and I have had a few miserable trips to the doctor
with mom and/or dad. It’s a good thing you do such a great job with the
entertainment position – and you can’t count the haircut and lunch!

I’m wondering if mom has to have a referral to go to the Sheely Eye
Center?? Does she have a regular eye doctor? Polly, do you know?

Mother is on a new kick.
She Loves that Irish Cream Brandy that Barbara got for her.
My duty as The Entertainment Committee has taken me to Mom’s place four times this week and Mom sits me down each time and brings out the bottle. We sit and drink that stuff. We are deep into the second big bottle!!!
She even bought some special glasses for us to use.
Well, I like the stuff but I am now at my limit.
I know I am The Entertainment Committee but you girls have got to help me out with this and do some drinking with her!

Polly writes:
These emails are always so interesting. I wish i had some fun to contribute.
I’ve been to the Shiley center also. The last time mom had her eyes checked, it was at Sears. If we want to have Gary Myers check them and send us somewhere else, we could do that?? I don’t know who is good and I hate taking her so far away. Surely we can find someone good in Poway.

Mom’s hair does look cute. She was thinking younger the other day. She was casting google eyes at Skip, again.
By the way Candy, you have to forgive Venus. Have you forgotten, she has this “tiny little quirk” about anything remotely related to medicine?. She’s not normal about these things and you have to over-look that.
Remember, with Daddy she did The Funeral Duty and had to take him to all the funerals. Nobody else would do it.
And she is really good as the Entertainment Committee for Mom.
And so, my friends, I hope you have enjoyed a peek into The Sister’s Daily Conversations About Our Mother. We are grateful she is still here with us. She will be eighty-six years old, Sept. 5th. She has A Plan to live to 102, but sometimes she questions that decision. She wonders if it is really a smart move, but since she made the decision, she says it is hard to get off it.
Firmly made decisions go deep.
You can EMAIL any blog article to a friend; please see below.
WINNER OF THE RANDOM DRAWING FOR A FREE 15 MINUTE PHONE SESSION WITH VENUS-*Kristen Tolley” Offer good through Monday July 14th. After that, null and void.


Thursday, July 10th, 2008

My sister Candy calls and says, “Hey, I just took Mom down the hill and got her a new haircut and took her for a nice lunch. Can we come by and I’ll show you her new hairdo?”

“Sure. I’d love to see you!” I say.

I rush to take off my tacky house dress because don’t you know, it’s a hot day and I didn’t bother to dress for anything but the heat.

My mom and sister show up and ‘oh’ and ‘ah’ about my re-modeled house. It seems they have seen it since it’s been remodeled but it’s OK, if they want to make more nice remarks.

We end up in my bedroom-sitting room because it is so pleasant. The bedroom part is gold and the sitting area is aqua. Sun pours in the three curved windows to the west, onto my blue vase which is sitting on a glass table, filled with brilliant yellow sunflowers.

I put Mom in my yellow striped chair and crank the bed up for Candy and me to recline on. I can touch a button and the bed lifts to a sitting position and I can crank some more and the end goes up until your feet are reaching for the moon. It is very nice.

Candy says she has stopped drinking wine as it is making her fat, but pretty soon, she suggests we have a bit of wine. Mother agrees. I use small glasses.

Mother has a glass of wine and says, “Oh my. I can certainly feeeel this.” She always says that.

We all hang out in my lovely room and chat for maybe two hours. Mother’s white hair is divine and it is curling up around her face.

Candy says, “With that haircut, you look ten years younger!”

Candy says her hair dresser did a nice job and that she and Mom then went to the Fish Grill for lunch. They had fried fish and chips. Both Mom and Candy agree that it was way too much fried food for them and they won’t be doing that, again.

Mother keeps looking at her watch. She is worried about her dog Becky who is perfectly fine, but Mother always thinks Becky is lonely and missing her.

Finally, Candy says, “Mom, do you want to go home and check on Becky?”
She does, so the fun day is over.

I walk Mom and Candy to the car. Mom is looping all over the patio walk from drinking one glass of wine, so we have to watch her and sometimes give her a nudge to keep her upright.

We get Mom in the car and she looks up at me and says, “Oh thank you Honey, for the wonderful haircut and the wonderful lunch.”

I say, “What?”

I look at Candy who is in the drivers seat. She looks at me and raises her eyebrows.

Mom repeats her thanks to me for the wonderful haircut, lunch and day. I squeeze up my face and grin at Candy and say to Mom, “Oh, gee, you’re so welcome, Mom!”

No good deed goes unnoticed, even if it is misapplied, I guess.
Candy is laughing and shaking her head.

It’s now the next day and I stop by my mother’s house to take her some ripe apricots off my tree.

She says, “Oh, the strangest thing happened, Honey. When I got up this morning, I couldn’t find Sassy. I could hear her yowling, but I couldn’t find her.”

Sassy is the black and white cat that Mom took in when the cat needed a home. Sassy is a maladjusted cat. She is also unpredictably mean. She lived in an auto shop, before she came to Mother, where the male customers teased and treated her badly. She developed a mean persona because of her upbringing but Mother tries to love her, anyway.

Mother continues, “When Skip came to help me this morning, you know he’s building the patio, I called him in and I said, ‘I can hear Sassy but I can’t find her. Can you listen and find her?'”
Skip said, ‘I can’t hear so well, myself. Let’s call Jeranimo in.’

“So, Jeranimo came in and looked around a bit and then he said, ‘Could she be in the dryer?’
I opened the dryer and there she was!”

“Oh, my gosh,” I say, “how did that happen, Mom?”

“Well, yesterday, I noticed the dryer door was open and so I shut it. She must have been in there when I shut it.”

“Oh, my gosh,” I say, again. “I bet she was crying and meowing all night and you couldn’t hear her because your hearing aides were out.”

I think a bit and then I say, “She was in there a long time. Did she pee in the dryer?”

“Oh yes!” Mom says, “and much, much worse! She did everything in the dryer. It was a terrible, terrible mess and she was coated with poop and pee and you know how Sassy is, I wouldn’t dare try and clean her up.”

I am gagging.

Mom says, “I have cleaned and cleaned the dryer and next I think I will have to dry some old towels in it, before I even attempt to dry my clothes.”

I say, “Well Mom, shit happens.”

Which reminds me. I have brought Mom that bag of apricots off my tree which I now hand to her.

Mom says, “Remember that year you ate so many of these apricots that they gave you a problem?”

I do remember.

These apricots are so good that I was eating what seemed like tons of them off my big tree that year. One day I was up town, driving toward home when oh, my gosh! I said out-loud to myself and the car, “Oh! MY gosh! I am not going to make it home!”

I was dumbstruck and horrified.
Quick, I pulled off the road, onto my Mom’s property, stopped the car just barely, raced into her house, ran past my mother and threw myself head first into her bathroom.

I was really surprised. I didn’t know a bunch of apricots could do that to a person.

Well, shit happens.

What you have to do is find the humor in these circumstances, whether it’s eating too many apricots, or getting locked in a dryer for almost a day or having some other strange and bothersome something happen in your life; hey, shit happens. Don’t get too worked up about it, you have a lot of company. Everybody gets covered with and reeks of the stuff sometimes, even if it’s only metaphorically.
Offer good through July 11th, 2008. Null and void after that.


Monday, July 7th, 2008

Don’t be shocked.
I am sitting at my computer, writing this blog, naked.

I have compelling reasons.

It’s very, very hot.
It has been a long holiday week-end and I do not have to stay alert for:

The Pool Man Who Goes to Paris every year and Likes To Drink Red Wine, Candido The Gardner And His Crew who’s motto is, ‘If you see a flower, yank it out!’, Frank The Fed-Ex Man With The Long, Scrawny Blonde Pony-Tail, who I have known for 20 years, The Ever Changing UPS Man, The Scared Out of His Pants About Dogs Gas and Electric Man, The Post Man With Red Hair and Buck Teeth who likes to sometimes, personally deliver my mail, My Neighbor Ken who is just friendly and comes in the fenced and bushed and treed yard to chat, Jeranimo who has finished helping Chuck build my house but who has now become my Weed Yanker and Fix-It Man, The Lady Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Long Dresses Who Are Still Determined To Save Me From Hell and my Ex-Boyfriend Bill who lives in my studio but is out of town for the holiday.

There may be others who might possibly show up: A brother or sister of mine, an in- law, or a friend rattling around with nothing to do. But, if that happens, too bad for them, I say. They can just take off their clothes and join me.

Being naked in the house and running around outside naked in the flowers is just bliss. I feel like one of those Big Garden Fairies.

Being naked is the most bliss I have had all week-end as I have spent my holiday coughing and blowing and blowing and blowing my nose and being exhausted and peevish.

My sisters think I have allergies.
Could it be the oak tree that is in full yellow flower and hangs over my back patio? I sit under the branches most of the day and step bare-footed on the little, spiky flower pods that it tosses on the ground. Or, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to spend most of a day on a blanket on the grass, soaking up the earth’s energy, trying to get well?

My sisters suggested the allergy connection when we had lunch (outside) with our mother and brother Art, yesterday at The Coffee Shop. We sat under trees and next to flowers, of course. I am noticing that trees and flowers seem to be everywhere when you are suspicious of having allergies.

However, we all had a fine lunch and a fine time.

We were talking about Daddy.

Our father died almost eight years ago when he was eighty-two. Things have been much quieter since he left.

Because of a difficult relationship with his mother, our father was a narcissist; almost completely devoted to himself and his martini drinking which he drank in large, glass fruit jars. He was also brilliant, very generous and immensely entertaining. He was a Pillar in the Town.

Mother says she married Daddy because he was so interesting. She learned, however, to rather regret marrying him for the interesting-entertainment factor as it was rather non-stop.

As we chat and eat at the coffee shop, we all recall the trip to Arizona to see family friends. With six kids we took darn few trips so this was a Huge Occasion that we kids had been looking forward to for months.

Daddy decided to take George, our large, black labrador, with us.

“George will enjoy the trip,” my dad said.

Off we went, eight people and a huge, un-trained dog, squashed in a tiny, rattley car with no air conditioning…in the summer, leaving California, heading for Arizona.

We drove for hours and I remember us kids being good sports about the tremendous sucking heat and the long drive and George, the good natured but, ill-mannered dog, who kept whining and drooling and slapping his tongue around, sitting his large butt in our tiny laps and stepping on our toes with his sharp dog nails.

We were going on a Real Vacation! We were just like all our friends who went on vacations all the time!

Here’s what we all remember about that ‘vacation.’

We pull up to the border crossing into Arizona. The windows in the car are all down because it is noonish and we are all feeling like we are sitting in buckets of stinky sweat. Our hair is wet and sticks to our heads and our tee shirts and shorts are binding us in all the hot, sweaty places. Our mother’s dark hair is pinned up on top of her head while my dad is wearing his usual white tee shirt and his usual long beige jeans, but he has his shoes off.

Our dad slows the car to a stop. The Border Guards look hot and lazy in the heat. They all turn slowly and look at Ma and Pa Kettle and The Gang in the old blue car with six kids and a huge, black, slobbering dog.

One of the men ambles over to us and gets set to lean in and ask a few questions about our intent.
Our father gives him a big smile. Our father’s nice, white teeth are a bit off so it always seems he has only one big front tooth right in the middle of his grin, which gives him a certain uniqueness that you don’t forget.

George is whining and jerking around in the back seat with us kids. He’s not happy. He has a thought. We kids can see it, and scream at our father, “Daddy, Daddy, George wants out!”

Daddy ignores our message about George’s desperation and Whhooooom! George is clambering out a window and now he’s streaking across the desert, through the cactus and into the big unknown.

Now we’re really screaming!

My father throws open his door, knocks the Boarder Guard aside and takes off across the desert after George.
He has no shoes on!

We watch our father pounding into the desert, yelling for George, jumping multiple times into the air from the scorching heat on his bare feet and the stabs of the cactus needles. He’s hollering, “George! George! Ouuuuch! Owwww! George! Come here you F…ing dog!”

He screams and calls and shouts obscenities as he and George become smaller and smaller as they tear across the desert floor.

All of us and the Boarder Guards, are mesmerized.
It seems like a long time, but at last, our father catches George and drags him back by the collar. They are both soaked with sweat and covered with dirt. Cactus needles stick out of fur and skin.

Our father shoves George into the car, hops in, says a number of choice words which are not carefully thought out, starts the car and slams it in reverse. We do a half donut as our father yells, “That’s it! We’re not going to Arizona! We’re going home!”

We kids all shriek with blistering disappointment and collapse into tears as our father hits the gas and roars back into California.
We’re not going to have a vacation. We’re not going to Arizona. We’re not going anywhere and it’s not our fault.

It’s a long, hot, un-happy ride home. We kids keep crying, my father is still yelling and George pees in the car.

We kids are now grown up and I have just finished my omelet as the rehashing of The Almost Arizona Vacation, ends.
I realize that after all these years, I am still mad about being yanked home because my father was having a tantrum. It seemed so unjust that we got so close to Our Vacation and didn’t get it. But, this is what you get when your mother marries ‘an interesting man.’

Looking back on it, now, as I sit here naked, typing up the sorry tale, I think that vacation might have happened, we might have all actually made it to Arizona, if we had all driven and ridden, naked. It would have been cooler and cooler heads may have prevailed.

But, maybe not, we could never have gotten George unzipped out of his hot outfit.
WINNER OF THE RANDOM DRAWING FOR A FREE 15 MINUTE PHONE SESSION WITH VENUS: *Tia McLaughlin* Offer good through July 8th, Tuesday, 2008. After that, null and void

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