muckefuck: (zhongkui)
It's hard to say how I'm feeling these days. I've been telling people that either I'm still deep in denial about [ profile] monshu's death or I've been preparing for this day for so long now that some of the work of grieving and moving on is already done. Over the past eight months, he was home for a scant three weeks, so it's not unusual that he's not there now. I'd built up a routine around living alone and it hasn't much altered except that without the daily trips to whatever stupid place he was staying I have a lot more time. But everyone wants to take me out for meals so I'm still eating out a lot (just not paying as much) and the cat's feeding schedule is still chaotic. And though I'm not actively managing his care day-to-day any more, there's still insurance nonsense to deal with and all the usual household administration to which has been added the bureaucratic machinery of processing a decease. So I'm as busy as always, just not with the same things.

I'm not numb; I still get pleasure from most of life. Yesterday I attended a friend's annual Christmas tea and collected my duty of hugs, then met up with another friend who showed me the delights of King Spa in Niles. I still cry a little every day, but generally only a little and only when I'm forcing myself by listening to a lugubrious post-punk ballad I know will produce a few tears. I curse the cat by day and cuddle him at night and people call me and I usually answer and sometimes I'm a dick to them but I try not to be.

One thing this is making clear is that my fear of rejection makes it difficult for me to ask for help. But my friends are need to feel they're helping me. So there's a lot of mutual benefit to be extracted from the situation if I can only figure out how to go about it. I'm trying. [ profile] bunj is coming by tonight to pick up paperwork so he can file the will tomorrow, [ profile] lhn is coming by Wednesday to sort out our computer files, and half the gay couple across the street is driving me down to St Louis on Thursday. But none of the food people kept offering to cook for us has materialised and I'm not going to ask; my friends aren't GrubHub. Besides, knowing me, I'd just end up tossing most of it anyway.

I was worried about being surrounded by associations but for right now they're comforting rather than distressing. I do get sad when I think about how much effort we put into building our household, i.e. all the decisions about furnishings, glassware, art--the whole trousseau necessary for living the good bourgeois life we'd been conditioned to expect. We worked so hard to make a harmonious whole but it feels like too much for a singleton to drag from apartment to apartment, so I'll have weeks of whittling to do (over the course of months, since it will be emotionally exhausting work). I have fantasies of stowing it all and going abroad for a few years which I'm sure will come to nothing; maybe there are adventures still awaiting me but I don't think that's one of them.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
[ profile] monshu passed away at home late in the evening of December 9th. Because it took about an hour-and-a-half for the nurse to arrive to certify him, his death date will officially be December 10th. But you know the truth.

Because he is peerless, my friend [ profile] bitterlawngnome has posted a tribute to [ profile] monshu in his own journal using photographs from our one-and-only meeting in Toronto in 2011. The occasion was the Old Man's 65th birthday. At the time we expected him to live well past 70, but fate makes a mockery of all our plans.

When I realised he was not going to begin breathing again, I fell into a state of disbelief. When the nurse came and held a stethoscope to his chest, I told her, "I'm just waiting for you to confirm he's not in a coma or something." (NB: Corpses don't cool off as quickly as you might think.) When she shook her head, I felt an immense relief. At times, the stress of the last eight months has been barely tolerable. Every time I wished it would end, it occurred to me that there was only one way for that to happen, and I concluded that was worse.

I've spent most of the last couple days chattering away with people, mostly [ profile] monshu's sister and niece who are in town until Tuesday. Less than an hour each day has been devoted to ugly crying. I figure that's a ratio I can keep up almost indefinitely, as long as I keep picking the right songs to listen to. Thursday we cremate him, assuming there are no snags in the process. I'll wait for better weather to scatter him. The one-hundredth day after his death will be March 19th (which is coincidentally the feast of St Joseph, his patron saint), and that seems as good a day as any.

This coming week will be for attending to the details, tidying up my mess of an apartment, and reconnecting with the many many friends who I've seen too briefly if at all over the past year. Or maybe I'll just spend half of every day lying in bed listening to Siouxsie Sioux and Magnetic Fields. Who the hell's going to stop me?
Nov. 4th, 2016 12:12 pm


muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Here it is, the fall I've been waiting for--just one month later than usual. I'm going to arbitrarily say the foliage is peaking now even though quite a few trees are still green. That's been pretty typical over the last decade: We don't get early frosts any more so the colours don't clump; each tree just goes when it's ready. And it's not like they're even grouped by species. There are sugar maples which are bare and those which have barely begun to yellow, sometimes within paces of each other. The last of the locusts seem to be catching up to their vanguardiste kin, however.

Tomorrow I hope to rake some leaves and plant some stuff. I've really lost interest in the garden over the last several weeks. Maybe it'd been different if I'd managed to get some direction from [ profile] monshu on what to plant where during the brief window he was home and maybe not. Now my preoccupation is just to get things out of pots before a hard freeze. Oh, and get the bulbs and corms into the ground. They're actually the reason I've been holding off. If I'd planted them end of September, they'd probably be sprouting by now.


I'm still in something of a state of disbelief about the Cubs' World Series victory. It's not that I ever wished them ill, nor that I didn't think it would ever happen (it was pretty clear that the management had finally decided it was time to use the pots of money they have to buy a victory). It's just, I dunno, anticlimactic? Like there should be something epic to the end of a 108-year championship drought and this wasn't it. On the shuttle this morning, a guy was talking about the Sox' victory in 2005. Now that was epic. I still remember staying for the bitter end of Game 3. (10 innings? That nice. Try 14.)

I'm glad it went to seven games, I'm glad they came from behind, I'm glad they blew a comfortable lead in Game 7 just when I was beginning to lose faith in their ability to keep things interesting. But someone it doesn't all add up to a once-in-a-lifetime thrill (especially since I know they're quite likely to make it to the playoffs on a more regular basis after this). By then again, why should it? They've never been my team and they never will be.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Still trying to strike that elusive balance between my responsibilities and my sanity. I declared Saturday my "day off", which practically speaking meant that from about four thirty in the afternoon until ten a.m. the next morning, I did nothing for the household or for my husband. After dinner and the opera with Nuphy, I rode the Blue Line for the first time in at least two years to join up with a pal's pub crawl. Unfortunately, a simple glance at the CTA map was not enough to orient me in a neighbourhood I've been to all of once in full daylight so I ended up going off in entirely the wrong direction and tracing a nice little box bounded by Sacramento and Fullerton before almost literally running into my quarry outside a bougie club on Milwaukee. On the way, I was nearly run down crossing the street and then tackled by an aggressive hound and began to get the feeling the neighbourhood had it in for me.

So I missed the first two stops, but still managed to visit (in sequence) The Whistler, Spilt Milk, Estereo, Las Flores, and Billy Sunday. Somehow, I managed to have only one drink (a Manhattan variant called a "Yellowpoint") at the first location. At Spilt Milk, I still felt a bit woozy, so I waited, but Estereo had nothing I wanted, Las Flores was no longer serving alcohol (yet checked our IDs anyway), and by the time we reached the last stop it was nearly two a.m. and I was done. I cabbed it home and spent the remaining seven hours of mad time asleep. As a result, I was remarkably well-rested Sunday and more-or-less up to the challenges of finished what I hadn't done Saturday.

Right now, the big uncertainty is: Where will he be tomorrow? Our insurer has only approved his stay at the acute facility through today and they think it's super helpful to wait until the last minute to tell you whether they've decided to approve the doctor's request to extend. If we can't stay there, then it's probably back to the mediocre subacute facility where he languished through the month of August. We tried looking at smaller and more highly-rated places, but they can't afford his cancer drugs. I looked at another better-rated facility in the same network, but it only seemed more run-down and less conveniently located.

That, of course, makes planning for the weekend a mess, since it's entirely possible they could renew him just through Saturday. Stepmom is coming up so we've got tentative plans for Sunday. I'd like to fit in a visit to Pilsen, but I'm not sure if it's better to do it with her or with Fig, who's got a slate of days off and wanted to get together. Friday is supposed to be a celebration of JB's retirement as well as a friend's Halloween bash. Mom suggested coming up this weekend and I gave her a flat-out "no" since I could only think of ways it would raise my stress level and none that would reduce it, but she doesn't want to put it off too long and run into her annual condo meeting.

Speaking of which, ours is a little over a month, which is a huge relief because it means the B-team we put in place actually stepped up and organised something. Hopefully they'll agree to be our A-team when the time comes because this is one kettle I can't keep my eye on right now. It's already enough that I'm saddled with all the landscaping (a plea for others to pitch in with leaf cleanup naturally sank without an echo) without having to fret about the administrative chaos and tight financial straits we're in.

Ugh. Where the fuck are my apple cider donuts?
Oct. 18th, 2016 01:11 pm


muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Yesterday evening I had amazing CTA karma, narrowly catching a northbound Howard train before it went express at Bryn Mawr. (I paid for it this morning, narrowly missing the last northbound train before an express. C'est la vie.) As a result, I was sitting at the computer typing away my [ profile] monshu digest when I heard the tremendous crunching sound coming from the back of the apartment. I didn't want to look; I figured if another pot had gotten smashed, finding out the following morning was soon enough.

A couple hours later, I was preparing to got to bed and overheard a conversation on the sidewalk just outside. "Holy shit, you're not getting through there!" said one of the two men. So I sprinted upstairs to check and saw what they were talking about: an enormous tree branch blocking the sidewalk. I was actually relieved to see it there and not on the hellstrip, crushing the plants which have defied the odds (and my neglect) to stick out this blistering summer.

It's still windy again today, but not like it was yesterday when I could almost lean into it on Sheridan road. And warm. And humid. A true summer's day in the second half of October. But because this is Chicago, tonight's low (11°C) will be Friday's high. I doubt I'll see another scene like I did last Saturday: a projector set up in the middle of a side street so the neighbours could gather outside to watch the opening game of the NLCS. Ever. (I mean, think of the confluence of factors: Cubs in the postseason, a block party planned for the middle of October, and unseasonably mild and calm weather.)
Oct. 4th, 2016 03:14 pm


muckefuck: (zhongkui)
They're readmitting [ profile] monshu and it's for the best. It's been a rough week or so--basically, what I'd expected it to be like when we first took him home and was pleasantly surprised. We thought his weakness and loss of appetite might be a symptom of dehydration, but after having several litres of fluid dripped into him, he hasn't improved at all, so maybe there's something else going on. I just hope we don't find out that his kidney function has gotten worse; one malfunctioning organ at a time is plenty, thanks.

Sunday I just hit the floor. I got out of bed, helped him bathe in bed, then made banana bread. (Or did I make the bread first? I don't remember now.) I got in a brief nap and then I just couldn't motivate myself to do anything. Blondie--who was also in bed--texted me and asked if I wanted to get food. I told him I was going to fix something at home, then get cleaned up to meet with him, but I didn't. I just sat there in the chair. Mom basically had to push me out of the house. "You need a break," she said. And I knew it was true but I just didn't want to leave.

I'm enough of an extrovert that when I do overcome a funk to drag myself out of the house, an hour or so in good company is all it takes to snap me out of it. But that wasn't happening this time. I was sitting in Blondie's room at the Swissôtel enjoying his fantastic view of Lakeshore East (a neighbourhood so new I wasn't even aware it existed) while he sat in his robe, chattering away, and all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball. He had a work mixer to go to and I thought I'd just hide out in the room until he got back, but he talked me into coming along by giving me a key and promising me I could flee whenever I needed to.

I didn't. It took a bit, but the people he introduced me to were so warm and friendly that I stayed. I was so out of my normal routine that all the strain and suffering back home seemed in another world. I finally told him that I needed some dinner and we discovered that Chinatown favourite Ming Hin has an outpost up here. At first we couldn't find it. The map told us it was just on the other side of the park but there was nothing there apart from a Subway and a closed diner. "Maybe it's on the other side," I suggested and we decided to cut through the Mariano's--only to discover it was the anchor tenant of a mini mall with Ming Hin at the top.

If I hadn't seen a steamer being delivered to a table when we entred, I would've thought it an oversight that dim sum menus were being distributed with the regular ones. We ordered one dish from the regular menu (dry-cooked green beans, which I forgot was a Sichuan-style dish; we left most of it uneaten) and filled up on dumplings. Avoiding pork was easier than you might think, but I ended up eating more shrimp than was really wise (which my toe made me aware of yesterday). Blondie and I were chatting away now as if nothing were wrong in the world and he walked me to the el stop afterwards like a gentleman.

But I had to come home again. At least I was happy to have some fun stories of the outside world to tell the Old Man, but he soon shut his eyes and I slipped away so he could sleep. And so I could discuss the state of things with Mom. She's set a "hard deadline" of being back to St Louis by the 15th for her BIL's second wedding. I may just have to take some time off work to allow her to do that.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
This is the weather I look forward to all year--cool, crisp, and sunny--and it lasted less than 48 hours. As I type this, it's clouding over. By this time tomorrow it will be grey and blustery, and perhaps wet as well. I'd be less annoyed if I'd gotten to enjoy it some, but I woke up yesterday morning with a head cold (brought on in part by the sudden drop in temperature, no doubt) and had work obligations today and yesterday which precluded the pleasure of an extended lunch.

On top of that, concerns about the Old Man are distracting me. Two weeks ago, his oncologist prescribed IV fluids. Today they finally arrived. The nursing director I spoke to today resummarised the entire farcical saga for me, which involves multiple failures from multiple actors. In the interest of social lubrication, I listened to it all, even though I really wanted to simply cut to the chase and be like "WHERE IS OUR SHIT?" Mom does this to me, too. For some reason, it's very important to her that I understand the exact history of how we've reached the present moment when most of the time all I want is to solve our most pressing issue and move on. She complains that I always "want the conclusion first". That's what I give her, then I complain about how she's always bombarding me with questions I can't answer. It's like, if I knew what caused the problem, I'd lead with that.

So home life is still somewhat chaotic. I feel like I do more managing after I leave work than when I arrive. After all, the staff here know what their responsibilities are. If they refused to fulfill them, we'd fire them. But I can't fire my mom (who, at the end of the day, is doing us a massive favour by suspending her life long enough to see us through this never-ending crisis). And I can't really tell her what to do either. I feel bad playing on her guilt feelings, but it's the only thing I know of which really motivates her. She has such ambitious goals and then it takes her an hour just to rise from the bed in the morning.
Sep. 20th, 2016 11:50 am


muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Usually I'm impatient for fall, but this year I'm happy to have some summer left. Back in April, we asked [ profile] monshu what his recuperation goal was and he said, "To sit on the back porch on my birthday drinking tangerine juice with friends." Mom even made a gaudy poster of it to hang in his room at the acute care facility. That didn't happen; it was more than two months before he was able to sit outside at all and another six weeks before he could sit outside on his own porch. (By then he'd swapped out mango-orange for tangerine juice and we still haven't had any friends over.)

He's become so much more sensitive to cold since his dramatic weight loss that what's comfortable outdoor temperature to most people isn't to him. He seems happiest close to 30°C. Below 25°C, his tolerance seems to max out at about 30 minutes--and that's even with him being bundled in a terrycloth robe. So if missing out on crisp clear mornings for a couple weeks more is the price I pay for the Old Man being able to sit outside for a while before the long cold winter, so be it.

I am getting impatient about preparing the garden for next year, though. It's been too hot and dry lately to consider doing much transplanting, so everything which hasn't made it into the ground yet is still on hold. That includes the bulbs I got or dug up (and hopefully didn't ruin trying to dry out and store), which can't be planted until nighttime temps drop below 10°C, the price prairie plants and such that a neighbour shared with me, and whatever miscellaneous purchases I've made.

The other factor is waiting for [ profile] monshu's input. He's got definite ideas about the front garden and, with Scooter gone, we have a rare opportunity to do exactly what we want. I'm hoping to drag him out there to make some decisions so I can begin planning the work. (He'd like me to move around several sizable shrubs, so this isn't a small job.) At least he was able to give me feedback on the smoketree which licenced me to hack the hell out of it. It's been growing out more than up lately and something needed to be done. I've taken off a dozen branches and will have to remove more in order to shape it properly.

For the time being, I've abandoned both the hellstrip and our garden plot, which is now a solid mass of oregano and lemon balm outside of the chives along the front fence. The autumn blooming clematis is also well out of control, but I want to wait until it's totally spent before hacking it back. I was very pleased the GWO got to enjoy it in full bloom at least for a few days, especially after missing out on everything else.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
A couple days ago, I wrote:
I know there will be setbacks. We still don't know if his nutrition is adequate. At some point, his dressings will probably fail catastrophically. He might scald himself or catch his tube on something or even fall.
Later that day, he did fall--sort of. And in doing so, he did catch his tube on something and pull it out more. And today his dressings failed, though we caught it before it got out of hand.

So some of the bad stuff I foresaw is happening, and it's not as bad as I thought it would be. We had to take him to the ER yesterday to have the drain looked at and the surgeon decided just to go ahead and remove it. In a week, they'll check to make sure that's working out. We're still hoping to get better dressings that will be less prone to problems. We had a running battle with the nursing home, which kept trying to substitute a much cheaper wound pouch for the proper fistula management system his surgeon wants. Now that he's out of their care, we're hopeful the home health agency might succeed where they failed. (Mom kept bargaining with the ER resident for a more precise wording of the surgeon's orders in the discharge instructions.)

Last night I also served the Old Man notice regarding managing his care with the words, "If you're well enough to read all day, you're well enough to start doing this for yourself again." I can barely stand to make appointments and deal with providers for myself, so I don't think he quite realises what a royal pain it's been to have to do all this for him as well. I was willing to give him a pass when he was in the home--who can concentrate with all those interruptions and distractions?--but it annoys me to think of him idle at home all day and still expecting me to take time away from work to make calls to people.

As I suspected, he was up to the challenge (which is how it is he's now scheduled to see the surgeon again in a week). Now I'm beginning to wonder how much longer before he can take back some of the work of running the household. His excuse before was the lack of a secure connexion, since he was reliant on unsecured institutional wifi. But at home, his phone is no more or less secure than any of our other devices. Moreover, we could easily bring him a laptop to do the finances. He hasn't said he's up to it, but I'm tired of waiting for him to volunteer so it's time to force the issue.
Sep. 12th, 2016 03:38 pm

164 days

muckefuck: (zhongkui)
[ profile] monshu is home. He came home Saturday and the honeymoon isn't over. As you all may recall, the weekend after he was discharged last year was one of the most wretched of my existence; I can't recall ever being so exhausted and strung-out. So I was bracing for the worst this time hasn't happened. He's getting around fine on his own. There have been no accidents or spills. Well, he did yank his bag while getting out of the shower and start leaking a little serous fluid, but Mom and I got him patched up quickly and everything seems fine.

In the meantime, well, he had a shower. Can you imagine what it must be like to finally shower after nearly half a year of nothing but sponge baths? He was out of bed at least a dozen times yesterday without me having to help him once. He even cooked his own breakfast. His legs are still weak and he can't get by without the walker, but he's not nearly as worn out by the end of the day as I expected. Indeed, he's often up later than I am.

And I'm not as destroyed as I thought I'd be. Mind, that's not to say I'm not tired after helping him with tasks AND helping Mom AND getting the regular chores done, but it's not bone-tired. I actually sleep at night (moving to the back bedroom helped) and I'm not ready to spring from the bed at the slightest noise. Last night I actually slept without my phone within arm's reach for the first time I can remember since this all started.

I know there will be setbacks. We still don't know if his nutrition is adequate. At some point, his dressings will probably fail catastrophically. He might scald himself or catch his tube on something or even fall. But every day that goes by, the possibility retreats slightly--along with the prospect of him being readmitted.
Sep. 2nd, 2016 12:25 pm


muckefuck: (zhongkui)
One of the worst things about discussing [ profile] monshu's care with those around me is the tremendous amount of experiential knowledge many of them are lacking. This is not their fault; I've been through a similar situation before with my ex and even so I was very naïve about all sorts of aspects of a long hospitalisation. Some things you can try to explain, but that takes time and energy you don't always have.

All of this most commonly manifests when I talk about bringing him home. Understandably, the usual response is, "Yay! You must be thrilled." What they don't understand is that just because insurance will no longer pay for someone to be institutionalised doesn't mean they're able to care for themselves and that the excitement you feel at finally having someone where they really want to be is tempered by the massive increase in your own responsibilities. For months now, I've only been expected to manage his care. Now I (along with my mother) will have added to that responsibility for providing that care. Feeding, cleaning, laundry--none of this will be taken care of by something else (unless we're willing to pay out of pocket for that). The days of being able to go into work with a clean conscience and retreat to a quiet cave at home are gone--and might never return.

So my own feelings are decidedly mixed, and it's hard to express that without coming across as selfish or ungrateful. Other caretakers understand, but not everyone in this world is a parent or has had to provide care for a relative or friend. The ones who have are immediately simpático; sometimes I wish I could talk just to them and leave everyone else out of the loop.
Aug. 18th, 2016 11:24 am

All wet

muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Awoken a bit early this morning by fast-moving thunderstorms. Briefly, I thought I might want to stay home and let them pass and began to plot out what I might do to pass the time (such as ironing), but they were over in an hour. Mercifully, they brought cool air in their wake. I found myself getting spattered on the walk to work so I detoured through the alley. I normally avoid it this time of year due to the lack of shade, but it was still overcast. In fact, the sun didn't come out until after I reached Evanston, creating one of my favourite effects: bright sunlight contrasting against blue-black cloud cover over the horizon.

I think I've mentioned before how much the cat has mellowed with regard to storms. Even as I heard thunder rumble, I could still feel him grooming himself at the foot of the bed. (At least, I think I felt that; I've been mistaken before.) Even during the height of it, he followed me into the bathroom for buttrubs and then set himself quietly down on the chenille rug. It's nice--for a change--to be able to pet him as much as I like without having to worry about him turning on me and biting, even if he doesn't purr.

It could be a hectic evening at the home as I attempt to touch base with the social worker who's doing [ profile] monshu's discharge planning as well as the doctor, the friend of a friend who might handle some of his home care, Turtlewife, and whoever else might show up and need to chat with me. I hope the Old Man is engaged; I feel like he should be taking a more active role in his care than he is, though I recognise that it's only by mentally checking out to a certain degree that he's able to put up with his situation at all.

I still have very mixed feelings about bringing him home, though at least the panic has faded. As far as I can see, he's not substantially more able to care for himself now than he was three weeks ago. That may change if he's no longer hooked to an IV 24/7, but he's not currently eating enough to sustain being off TPN and seems rather uninterested in doing anything about that. (Yesterday evening he finally resisted my nagging, saying, "Stop worrying, I'm going to eat" and I wanted to yell back, "When?") You'd think better food would make a difference, but he brushes off my offers to bring him something more appealing than institutional food, so who knows how much that will change at home.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
I don't know if all grade schools do this, but instead of making each child responsible for themselves, the parochial schools we attended had a way of designating one child from each family to be the responsible party for such routine business as bringing news home, purchasing lunch tickets, and so forth. The term used was "oldest and only": If you were an only child, or if you were the oldest of several in the same school, you were on the hook to see that these jobs got done.

I wasn't the oldest; I was the second-oldest, and only a year younger than my older brother. So for seven years, any time "oldest and only" came up, I tuned out. Not entirely, I don't think; there must have been days where it was something interesting enough for me to bring up at home if my brother forgot to. But for the most part, I was like "Oh, he'll take care of that."

Of course, after eighth grade, he moved on to high school and suddenly I had to pay attention. I hadn't really considered what had been asked of him until his responsibilities became mine and I realised I was terrible at them. More than once, I was pulled out of class because my younger brother was standing there beside the lunch line unable to eat because I'd forgotten to purchase lunch tickets for the three of us as I was supposed to. (The youngest children always went to the cafeteria first.) I'm sure there were bigger messes I made that I've forgotten all about now.

That's what the last 19 weeks feel like to me: a flashback to that eighth-grade year. There were good reasons for assigning [ profile] monshu the responsibilities he had, and though I had some idea what was involved, I didn't appreciate enough what it would mean for me to have to take them all on. And belatedly I recognise that I might never be able to give them up again.
Aug. 3rd, 2016 12:29 pm

Alden times

muckefuck: (zhongkui)
I'm sorry to say I'm not really impressed with the place we transferred [ profile] monshu to on Saturday. At first I made a lot of allowances for the fact that it was a weekend transfer, since those are always problematic. But here we are, four days in, and some basics (like making sure he has a wheelchair) still haven't been taken care of. I don't think I realised myself how many issues there were until I got a QA call yesterday and heard the sympathetic clucking of the survey-taker.

I figured having roommates would be the biggest adjustment. After all, unless you count me sleeping over three times a week while we were dating and him staying in my apartment for two weeks after his was sold, he hasn't had to go without a room of his own in probably 30 years. I was loath to tell him about that aspect, in fact, but he shrugged it off. We haven't done too badly. The one is pretty quiet--like the GWO, he seems to be recovering from a severe injury, but he's not so far along. He keeps to himself and channel surfs to pass the time.

The other has been in the building for 17 years and is--as you would expect--rather territorial. (After his third passive-aggressive reminder of the posted visiting hours--which don't apply to close family, like spouses--I asked to have the policy printed out so I could tape it to the wall.) He spends most of the day listening to music and only occasionally trying to start a conversation about his handful of idées fixes. I feel sorry for him, but not enough to be much more than civil. As [ profile] monshu says, he's "so 50s" that neither of us have much in common with him. (His favourite opera is La fanciulla del West and he watches lots of Bonanza.) I've had more interesting chats with a couple of the guys who hang out in the common area most of the time, even if one of them is a natural member of Trump's constituency. (He was dissing his roommate for playing "Mexican music" even though this is the "US of A", but the young Black activities director ganged up with an Italian-born grandfather to shut him down right quick.)

But, really, I think the biggest adjustment is the level of care and level of service. As I told the survey-taker, I couldn't stand in the hallway of the other places we've been for more than a minute without someone asking me if we needed anything. Here I feel invisible to the CNAs and even staking out the nurses' station generally isn't enough to get their attention. It's not entirely their fault--they seem badly overworked. (One of the CNAs subtly indicated this when the nursing supervisor told me their ratio is 1:8 and she quietly added, "It's supposed to be eight"; from what I can see, the norm actually seems closer to twelve.) But some screw-ups--like completely forgetting to bring his dinner the other evening--are hard to excuse.

But one of my biggest concerns is being met: the amount of time he's spending in therapy is at least double what it was, and it's all one-on-one rather than group. This is huge, because it's hard to imagine having him home if he's still not able to make it out of bed without assistance. Moreover, he never warmed to the physical therapist at the last place, but so far everyone on the time here has been great. Also, after four months in places who make a fetish out of isolating patients from the out-of-doors as much as humanly possible, we finally have a patio we can go to (even if it requires a damn hall pass to get him out there). The alone is worth worlds.
Jun. 1st, 2016 11:58 am


muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Summer is following so rapidly on spring that it feels like everything is blooming at once. Iris are everywhere, but the first peonies and roses are opening as well. Not yet at our place, but the old climbing rose is covered in buds. Meanwhile the lilacs and chives are peaking, the ornamental allium is just coming into bloom, and the clemates are ramping up. Out front, the lungwort is fading just as the spiderwort is preparing to take over and the celadine poppies in the sunniest spot are blooming even as the columbine in shade fades.

We did get one blossom from the all the irises I planted last year but someone broke it off almost immediately. I'm hoping for bigger, more vigourous plants next year that will stand up better to the abuse they've been receiving in their precarious position along the alley. All the rain has been great news for the woodland plants; I swear the epimediums look twice as large as last year. But the real standout is the persicaria, which seems to grow centimetres every day.

I still need to find spots for the wild geranium, whose seeds I hope to collect and stratify in situ, and the marginal wood fern. The latter cost a pretty penny at Gethsemane, but I'd been sorta obsessing about one (though not as much as I have about a Scutellaria ovata) for a couple weeks so it was worth it. The only plant which doesn't seem to be doing particularly well is the mayapple, which once again faded without blooming. I'm thinking I need to mark the spot so I can dig it up in fall and replant it somewhere it might be happier.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
The day before yesterday, I surveyed the hellstrip and found even more stakes missing. Infuriating. I even fantasised about staking the place out (har har) to catch the vandals. But then I thought more about it and considered doing things the "Rogers Park way" instead, like setting out a stack of stakes with the sign "If you need one, please take it, but leave the ones in the garden". When I explained this to [ profile] monshu, I think it convinced him I've lost my marbles. So so far all I've done is take the few stakes I have and pounded them in as far as I can make them go. I'm beginning to worry that the effort to wrest those from the ground is going to be more risky to the plants than their mere absence.

The Old Man is stable again, so they're once more planning to step him down a long-term acute care facility in our neighbourhood. I keep hoping that will allow me to adopt a schedule which gives me some time to actual do anything at home (not to mention showing my face at work more than a couple times in a week). Thanks to Mom, the downstairs bathroom is clean for the first time since this all started in March, but she can't do anything about the pile of bills and such building on the dining room table.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Today I discovered I was wrong about the Solomon's seal and lilies-of-the-valley. They weren't dead, just a bit slow to emerge. There's even one coming up in plot alongside the alley, where I thought nothing had survived (apart from the Dutch irises). Plant are even coming up in places where I'd forgotten I'd planted anything: a clump of lilies near the new dogwoods, a second satellite wood aster.

A month ago, I bought a bundle of green-dyed bamboo stakes to mark out several plants in hopes of saving them from the tuckpointers. Some days later, I looked out again to find that they were all gone. Not a few here and there (as I would expect from random passerby vandalism) but every last one of them. I guess someone was walking by and decided they had more need of them than we did?

Even more curious, I was reconnoitering yesterday and found several of the wooden stakes I'd used to enclose the saplings missing as well. These weren't like tent poles, but they were substantial; I'd used a mallet to pound them into the ground. Of course, when I'd pulled a couple up in order to reposition a tree or two, I'd done so barehanded. I shook my head and made a mental note to replace them if time ever allowed.

Then that afternoon, I got a text from my botanist neighbour across the street. He'd found a couple in the alley and scooped them up for himself, but realising they were mine while passing by the property, he dutifully returned them. He also invited me over for a bite on the back porch in the unseasonably fine weather with his sister-in-law. She was a delight, and they fed me even though I'd come well after they'd finished eating.

His theatre prof husband was recovering from surgery, having had a device implanted in his lower back to relieve pain, and had already retired. I listened with polite forbearance to their tale of woe. ("Three hours in recovery before they assigned him a room!" Oh, the horror of it.) It was such a relief from our marathon day of specialist visits that I didn't want to leave, but I still managed to head out before I was turfed out.

Tomorrow Nuphy plans to visit the GWO so Mom and I can join [ profile] bunj for a little picnic in the park. I have to say, that's damn clever solution to the problem of where to go for Mother's Day, if a damn impractical one in Chicago most years. [ profile] innerdoggie and [ profile] tyrannio plan to stop by later. All of them have some experience with catastrophic illness and drawn-out recoveries, so I'm hoping they'll be able to buck up the Old Man somewhat (not to mention me).
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
In tough times, I take refuge in my garden. One of the roughest bits of the last month was that I had a bunch of indifferent strangers tramping around in it. It got to the point where I could't bear to look out the windows. I remember one morning waiting for Mom to get ready so we could head to the hospital and pacing up and down the hallway because it was the only part of the house where I couldn't see outside.

Now the tuckpointers are supposedly finished, but we haven't had the final walkthrough yet so I'm still waiting to exhale completely. After I bitched to the association president, she asked me to inventory the damages, which I did over the weekend. It was not as bad as I feared. I did lose the double-flowering kerria it took me so much trouble to rustle up, but [ profile] monshu was never that fond of it, so I'm looking at this as an opportunity to replace it with something he'll really enjoy.

The heuchera I thought I'd killed by moving it out of harm's way in a fit of pique is coming back as is, miraculously, the oak fern I'd written off after last year's late drought. Even more miraculously, the mayapple has returned as well. It looked so sad last fall, I thought it a goner for sure. It seems just about the only thing I lost from last year's planting frenzy was the Solomon's seal, perhaps some of the lily-of-the-valley as well. (One or the other is coming up near my newest hügelbeet, but it's too soon to tell which.)

I had some time over the weekend to get dirty again and planted another dogwood to replace the one that got taken out. As long as I was digging on the western end of the Hellstrip, I also relocated the Persicaria to a sunnier spot, shifted a dogwood into its place, and surrounded it with wood poppies from the southern edge of the lawn. I thought that would take me an hour; it took me two and left me wiped out for the remainder of the day.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Our Easter dinner was a very modest affair. I didn't even get around to decorating the eggs (unless you count scribbling faces on them in felt-tip pen so they wouldn't get confused with the raw eggs in the same carton). [ profile] monshu had a gratin all ready to go until he decided at the last minute it smelled a bit off and pitched it, so the brussel sprouts we had were simply steamed instead. In a nod to the nominal reason for the season, there was Jerusalem artichoke in the mash, but the centerpiece was obviously the perfectly cooked rack of lamb. It was such a treat I had TWO WHOLE CHOPS and damned the consequences.

We were both somewhat worn out by the good weather, which coaxed us outside to do a little yardwork. The Old Man attacked the porch, whipping it into fit shape for me to eat my egg salad sandwich on before the afternoon showers began. At that point, I'd been hacking out in the hellstrip for a couple hours, digging another hole large enough to bury a body in so that I could fill it with fallen branches and dead leaves. Probably one more of these and I'm done for the season. Then it's time to start thinking about what to do with the shambolic retaining wall Scooter left behind.

I was unsuccessful getting ahold of anyone later in the day, so I spent most of my time reading. Roddy Doyle's A star called Henry isn't great, but it reads quickly and seems a decent introduction to the major episodes in the fight for Irish independence. It does feel a little overly determined at times and I'm not sure what's with all the gratuitous fucking except for some middle-aged wish fulfilment, but I'm already two-thirds of the way through it and thinking about what my next novel should be.
muckefuck: (zhongkui)
Looks like the forecast for tomorrow has been revised to remove any mention of snow. That's a relief even though I didn't expect the brief dip below freezing to do any real damage. On our stroll yesterday evening, my horticulturalist neighbour advised keeping an eye on the natives because, unlike the imported ornamentals, "they're not fooled". I'm not sure if the columbine I have coming up in the hellstrip counts, as I can't remember now if it's the plain red-and-yellow of my youth or one of these fancy new varietals.

Everything seems two or even three weeks ahead of where it would normally be around now. Yesterday brought the first full-sized daffodils in bloom. I've noticed their buds swelling since last week, but I hadn't yet seen any open. Dutch irises are awakening, too, and I'm pleased to see the ones I planted along the alley edge late last fall returning despite the compaction from sloppy drivers over the winter. Elsewhere there are even Virginia bluebells leafing out. Rhododendrons are in bud, forsythia are just starting, and we may have magnolias soon.

I'm still not sure when to expect my saplings, but I suspect it could be as early as next week, so if the weather's at all good this weekend, I'll need to get digging. It would make sense to rebuild the retaining wall at the same time, but I'm also wondering if it doesn't make more sense to dismantle it completely and use those pavers to hold back the weight of soil and mulch from creeping over the narrow walk along the curb. Ah, so much I could accomplish if I only had the physique.


muckefuck: (Default)

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