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Thursday, October 23rd, 2014
9:29 pm - When last I saw her ....
The last time I saw Velma was at Andi and Stu's wedding. She and Soren were sitting at one of the tables, quietly talking. On slightly drunken impulse, I sat down across from them. We'd had a falling out the previous year. I still hoped for reconciliation but that hadn't happened. They greeted me politely then ignored me equally politely.

I knew I should move on but for a few minutes I allowed myself the pleasure of just plain watching them. Watching them smile at each other. Watching them talk. So beautiful. Both of them, together.

I'm enormously sad that I will never see Velma again, but I might be more sad that I won't see Velma and Soren together again.

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Sunday, June 8th, 2014
11:40 am - Halp!
Why has my friends feed turned into a thin column on the left?! Sheesh. Another new "feature"?

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Friday, May 23rd, 2014
10:17 am - Skippy is a goner
Sigh. My beloved cat's kidney disease has progressed to the point that it is time to let him go. I took him home from the vet but will bring him back Saturday for the final shots.

Skippy has been such a good friend to me.

Sigh.

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Saturday, May 3rd, 2014
10:30 pm - Money Matters
I kinda sorta feel like my finances are under control, which is an immense relief. Last summer things were looking so grim that I had a nightmare about money, which I can't recall having done before. With big help from friends, I made some un-fun changes of direction. Now, I have enough coming in.

Just got another big help from a friend -- I still owe money to two people, one of them got a windfall, and she choose to share some of it with me by forgiving my loan. She says I squeaked. Her name is no secret but I hate to create additional links for people, so I will just say for now that my next door neighbor is wonderful. <3 <3

I started being able to pay back on debts the first of this year. Damn, did that feel good! I'm too much a numbers person to rest easy with negative cash flow. Now, I'm working mildly hard for peanuts per hour, but I can rationally envision a roof over my head in the future.

Next, I want a roof with solar collectors and maybe a wind turbine!

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Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014
1:57 am - Long Plans
It's not unrealistic to think I might live to be 100. It's also not unrealistic to think I might be noticeably demented by 90. Many of my thoughts about what to do now concerning those distant possibilities revolve around my house. I want it to provide me with income, I want it to be as self-sufficient and low-maintenance as possible, and I also want it to be safe for someone with serious physical or mental limitations.

It gives me a giggle to realize this last item means an internal surveillance system that would embarrass the NSA. (Kate suggested last night that maybe I could get them to install one.) Motion sensors everywhere, gait recognition and analysis, body temperature, respiration, analysis of toilet contents, and ... you get the drift. Proper use of that data could add years to the lives of anyone living there, but some of you probably shudder to think of having your home watch you so closely.

Well, right now I need to get the roof repaired. That leak isn't huge, but they never get smaller with time!

current mood: cheerful

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Saturday, February 15th, 2014
4:09 pm - House Plans
I want my home to be accessible and self-sufficient for energy. Full compliance with ADA standards would probably require a tear down and rebuild. However, I could put in a lift that would get a wheelchair from sidewalk level to my front door for about $10k and a lot of work of my part. Energy self-sufficiency also isn't fully feasible (we need better storage technology), but again I could go a long way on another $10k and more work.

I might be in position to start one of those projects in 2015, and now might be a good time to sign up for some classes at the Phinney Ridge Home Center. Been wanting to do that -- I can do most basic repairs but my skills are no good for building.

I finally got work space set up for myself in the basement again. Almost a year ago, I was trying to build a gadget that could make old milk bottles into plastic filament for a 3D printer. Got derailed from that by medical stuff and then big changes in my household. I've laid out the pieces I had made or acquired, and it looks like I only need to order about four more items.

The next steps require soldering and I'm not very good at that. I just got out my iron and some junk for practicing. By the time the burns heal, the additional stuff I need to order may have arrived. If I haven't soldered in a while, I always need an aversive conditioning refresher on why you don't hold it like a pencil!

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Wednesday, February 12th, 2014
7:15 am - Are my settings wrong?
If someone posts a comment into a friend's entry, I would like to see that entry show up high on my friend's page the next time I check in. Is there a way to make that happen? Right now, it seems I must check friend journal pages individually if I want to follow a conversation about an entry. It also seems I am too darned lazy to do that!

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Friday, January 31st, 2014
7:07 am - The Rhythm of My Days
My daily life is sure a lot different than it was a year ago. I'm a housewife! Caring for Phyllis and feeding two teenage boys means a near-endless routine of cleaning, shopping, and cooking. Most women my age have had at least one stretch of doing this sort of work for a household, but this is the first time that my primary life duties are so home-oriented.

This is lots more regular physical labor than I have done in decades. I thank my still-healthy back several times a day and almost never skimp on my exercises. The total daily work load isn't huge but when I had two weeks of feeling lousy, I did get behind on chores.

On the good side, my stress levels are tons lower than last year. My income from rent is five times what it was. I've paid off Group Health for the cancer surgeries, zero-balanced my credit card, and started paying off the friends who loaned me money when I was foundering. Went on a small shopping spree and bought ten used paperbacks at a thrift store. LOL!

I'm thinking I may be able to buy myself a 3D printer kit for my birthday next month. There's company in Spokane with a very good reputation for customer support that offers a Prusa Mendel reprap kit for $799. Putting it together would be a lot of work and I'm not sure my soldering skills are up to the job. So, I hesitate about whether this would just turn into a folly that clutters my work area for the next year and never works. Makerbot offers a smaller printer that is fully assembled for $399. Maybe that would be more sensible, but it would also teach me less and it would be difficult to modify.

Meanwhile, spring is starting to sprung! I've got a crocus or two in bloom and several groups of daffodils poking their heads up. Time to set up my grow lights so I can start seedlings. I do love watching the little guys grow.

current mood: cheerful

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Wednesday, January 8th, 2014
3:58 am - New Year Thoughts
I don't make New Year's resolutions but I do tend to think about the shape of my life. What have I been doing? Where am I going? Where do I want to go?

The first half of last year was dominated by cancer and money problems. The cancer was a slog and painful, but the news got better at every step and now it seems to be gone. The money issues were much worse. Partly due to the cancer, my finances were out of control and getting worse all the time. I had a nightmare about money worries, which I can't recall ever having done before. One day I realized that I had just spent several hours sitting in a chair, staring at my hands, and feeling so shut down I couldn't move. EEK! Depressive sliding! I put out a call to several friends who helped me immeasurably. I finally bit the bullet on a solution to the money problem that was very painful personally.

My life changed a lot and got harder in some ways but my mood and energy climbed steeply when I could see a future that didn't look like bankruptcy. I worked my little tushie off on the house to make space for new renters. I now have two Vietnamese high school students and my very demented 91 year old mother living with me. None of them pay as much rent as I might be able to get in this neighborhood, and cooking dinner every night has gotten old fast, but I have achieved positive cash flow plus I find my household interesting and satisfying.

Caregiving occupies a lot of my time and my mental space. As dementia patients go, Phyllis is pretty easy. She's mostly calm, doesn't have complicated medical problems, and doesn't wander. However, she can't do much of anything for herself. She can't even tell me clearly what she wants or needs. My daily do list is long and I'm embarrassed by how often I end the day with, "Aw, hell -- I forgot to do X!" "X" is usually not terribly important but X*3 can induce guilt attacks.

What I think about is this: My generation of boomers is already hitting the nursing homes, and we're going to wind up warehoused if the nitty-gritty of caregiving can't be made a whole lot easier. I think technology exists that could vastly improve the lives of those who give care as well as those who need it.

For example, I'm just about sure I could rig up something that would alert me when Phyllis ... has certain biological events. I wouldn't care if it had a high false positive rate. Cleanup is much easier when done promptly. Of course, even better would be a device that did the cleanup without me, but I don't think that's feasible yet! An alert would be a worthwhile improvement in both of our lives. Besides, I really want to take an Arduino class....

current mood: cheerful

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Monday, December 23rd, 2013
3:45 pm - Gibbering with Relief!
I just passed a monster kidney stone. I'm confounded, stunned, and incredibly relieved.

current mood: happy

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Friday, December 20th, 2013
2:57 am - Food Fun with Phyllis
Phyllis is 91 and demented. She sometimes does odd things with her food. Not really bad or anything, usually not even messy, but I'm so curious about what goes on in her head and I will never know.

I can't ask her what she had in mind when she poured coffee onto her tray of crackers. She doesn't remember. Yet, she did it very carefully because the tray is shallow and she didn't overflow it. She must have had something going on in her head at that moment.

I will also never know why she poured her hot chocolate into the tray of her bedside table. Was she disposing of it because it had gotten cold? Or was she saving it for later?

But I wonder most about the money. She kept stressing that she had no money to pay me when I brought her food. Endless explanation and a few downright lies, but she still sometimes didn't eat food that she wanted. I tried putting some ones into the previously mentioned tray. (After cleaning it, of course.) The next time she brought up the money issue, I pull out the tray, took a one, and thanked her. She happily started eating. Yeah! The next time I checked the tray it was empty. Boo!

I have searched thoroughly and I can't find those two one dollar bills. They could still be around here somewhere. However, my current theory is she ate them.

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Tuesday, December 17th, 2013
3:51 am - Gack!
Well, that was a whole lot of no-fun! My kidney stone has not yet exited my premises, but I'm pretty sure it has made it's way into my bladder. No more constant pain, no more need to take pain meds all the time. Ten days in a haze, consulting my do lists constantly so I at least know where I'm getting behind on things.

My second foreign student arrived halfway through all this. Nguyen knows Phuc, which made interactions easier. Nguyen's room wasn't truly ready, the paint was too fresh, so he started in the my guest bedroom. I think he was fine with that.

Mostly, I kept up OK with what needed to be done during pain med days but I didn't check social media in any way. Now, I feel fine except that I'm way behind on email.

current mood: calm

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Monday, December 9th, 2013
1:18 am - Still Stoned :-(
The pain meds are effective but I am not yet a happy camper. I wish I didn't agree with the doc who sez, "Wait and see." There are a couple of procedures that could stop the pain NOW, but the stones are still moving and I show no signs of complications. The safest way to get rid of a kidney stone is to pass it. Sigh.

Well, life is pretty good even including this. My household is peaceful, my work load has increased but not massively, my finances have improved, and my friends are smokin' wonderful. :-)

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Friday, December 6th, 2013
4:07 am - Stoned Again
Kidney stones, that is. Spend part of Monday in an ER, big thanks to Kate for taking me in and offering to hold my hand until the pain killers hit. Because I had just cracked the case of my cell phone, I turned down that kind offer but I sure appreciated her presence.

Thursday I sat down with a urologist and we gazed solemnly at my xrays. Not one, not two, but four sizable stones. The biggest appears to be 9mm by 11mm. 11mm is a couple smidgeons short of half an inch. Not possible to pass, as is, but it could be two stones close together rather than one. Also, it's obvious to me that my stones often break up on their way out.

So, it's wait-and-see. Lithotripsy may be in my future, especially since I started hurting again about an hour ago. The pills have dimmed that down but I'm nervous about trying to sleep so I am working on a room upstairs. Believe it or else, running a caulk gun around the molding seems to have helped at least as much as the drugs. Movement tends to help stones move along.

As I write this, I do my Tigger imitation. BOUNCY BOUNCY and come down a bit hard on my heels. My cat looks at me with big golden eyes and wonders wtf his human is up to this time. :-)

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Tuesday, November 19th, 2013
4:55 am - Making New Plans
My plans have gotten jerked around a lot in recent years. When I make new ones, I feel a little like I'm putting a "Kick Me" sign on my back. :-) Yet, something in me needs to have plans. I feel like I'm not healthy in the present unless part of me is looking towards the future.

Life is calming down a bit from my most recent set of changes. I'm now primary caregiver for my demented mother, plus I have a high school student from Vietnam. He isn't nearly as much work as Phyllis, but I sure am not used to getting dinner on the table seven days a week. LOL! Most women my age have already done that for a spell.

Longer term plans are now crossing my mind more often. Some are almost hilariously long term. Such as, given heredity and current state of health, it's not stupid to think I might live past a hundred. Given heredity, it's also not stupid to think I might start getting stupid at around 85.

I look at those concepts and my life habits and Phyllis, and I think geek thoughts about how one might deal with such things.

Besides, thinking about composting and disease detection sensors actually does making changing diapers less obnoxious.

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Friday, October 11th, 2013
2:58 am - The Next Big Thing
I'm getting better adjusted to the recent changes in my life. Now, I've got to get serious about paperwork. Phyllis is a veteran who is on Social Security and Medicaid. Astonishing number of forms to fill out and phone calls to make. And, of course, the government shutdown is massively unhelpful.

My Vietnamese high school student asked me about that shutdown. I treated him to a tirade about gerrymandering and "representatives" who spend spectacular amounts of time raising money. He got that "hit by a truck" look that happens when I'm talking too fast. :-S

Well, government or no, I must read every item in that menacing stack of paper near my left elbow. I will learn lots of things about the VA and DSHS and so on. Much of what I learn will be annoying but I can't get around needing to know it.

But not now! It's 3am! That's a good enough excuse, isn't it?

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Friday, October 4th, 2013
3:13 am - Keep Moving
For the last three months, my personal mantra has been, "Don't hurry, don't worry, just keep moving." I have not consistently succeeded at those things, but it helps to remind myself. :-)

My new housemates are working out well. I've got the spaces for them mostly set up now and the chores involved are settling down into a schedule. Income is not the most I could get but it's reasonable and steady which is vastly reassuring. I may take on an additional student in January.

My current housemates are Do Phuc, a sixteen year old high student from Viet Nam, and Phyllis Davis, my 94 year old mother who is demented. Do Phuc is a great kid -- very smart and wants to help out around the house. Also, we've had some seriously interesting conversations. Phyllis is mostly pleasant but often confused. For example, when my cat strolls in she usually doesn't remember him but sometimes she doesn't even know what he is.

I find it odd but comfortable that she doesn't feel like my mother to me. Dementia has changed her a lot. In almost every significant way, this is not the person who raised me. Which is a good thing because I couldn't have cared for that person. :-S

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Wednesday, August 28th, 2013
9:56 pm - So Far, So Good
Phyllis arrived on Monday and things are almost absurdly un-dramatic. She is pretty far gone to dementia. She doesn't know who anyone is, can't answer standard orientation questions, and I think she may not be verbal much longer. However, she is very good physical shape for an advanced dementia patient and her mood is good.

She got wound up for a little while about how she needed to get dressed and go home. I told her that she was home but that wasn't cutting it. I started handing her random pretty things off a shelf. The third one worked -- she focused on the vivid colors of a small embroidered doll, then gave it to a small stuffed white gorilla of mine that she loves.

Phyllis talks with that little gorilla for twenty minutes at a time. I mostly can't hear the words, but she sounds relaxed and cheerful. I do believe I have lost a stuffed animal but acquired a placation device. :-)

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Friday, August 23rd, 2013
7:26 am - Incoming!
This coming Monday, my sister Jo arrives in Seattle with our mother. Phyllis is 94, in good shape physically but not so much mentally. Jo has been tending to her the last four or five years. Now, Jo wants to move from Denver to Seattle to be near her son and grandchildren. I've decided to take on Phyllis for a while.

WHAT?! DID MY MOUTH SAY THAT?!

I've had a bad relationship with my mother most of my life. I told both my sisters long ago that I would care for Dad if he needed help but I couldn't possibly care for Mom. However, as dementia began to eat into her brain, she become a nicer person in many ways. Some people get frightened or angry, and she has had some phases of that. But mostly, she's gotten more calm. My sense is that as she lost brain power she also lost the paranoia that has made her so hard on people.

I'll be working right away on lining her with local services and seeing if I can get her into an institution. She's a vet, which usually makes that easier. However, I'm considering caring for her in the longer run if that works out.

Well, we'll see. Wish me luck!

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Tuesday, August 6th, 2013
10:21 am - Hot Day Incoming
The weather forecast for today has me setting up a series of projects in my basement. The high today will be 86 and I'm a total wimp about heat. This computer is in a coolish spot, so time to post.

I finished CNA school but haven't yet gotten the paperwork to apply for the state's nursing assistant certification test. In other news, I've signed up with an agency that places foreign students. They are far from the highest rent I could get in this area, but it's enough and might be interesting. I now have two Chinese high school students staying with me. These ladies go home in a week, then I get a student from Vietnam in early September.

My financial woes have eased considerably. The Group Health Cooperative gave me a substantial break on my bills, several friends loaned me money, and I made a painful change in my living situation. July was the first month in a while where I had positive cash flow.

If I can get a year without a major surprise expenses and moderately steady income, I will be out of debt. If I get two years, that should make a comforting dent in re-paying my depleted savings.

current mood: productive

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