Friday, December 21, 2012

The State of the Union

Dad is living with his lady friend, a gal more than 15 years his junior. When they were considering their current living arrangements I talked with his lady friend to try to determine her motivation for moving in with Dad. As he was still dealing with details of his disastrous divorce, I was hesitant for him to begin another messy situation. She seemed genuine enough and seemed to be involved in the relationship because she cared for my Dad, not for his money. She said he was like an Oreo cookie. The part on the outside was OK, but inside there was some really sweet stuff.
Recently my dad's lady friend was asked what she envisioned as her future when my dad passed on. She surprised me by saying she wanted to get a small apartment, downtown, where she could be near restaurants, museums and other cultural activities. I had figured she would want to stay in the continuing care retirement community. I began thinking that Dad may be a ball and chain, holding her back from her own dreams. So, today I took her out for lunch so we could have a frank conversation without 'you-know-who'!
What a wonderful woman! She felt that Dad was requiring more of her attention at this point in time than he had last year, but, she said she was still fine with the arrangement. She agreed to let me know when she needed more help, whether it was my taking on more responsibility, or arranging for some additional care, or whether it was that Dad needed to consider moving to an assisted living situation. She didn't feel that her life and happiness were compromised by her involvement with my dad.
After the disaster of his brief marriage, to a whiny, self-centered woman, this lady is remarkable! But, you know, I don't think Dad would have appreciated her as much had it not been for living with someone who was so totally opposite!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Checking It Twice

I don't know about you, but I rarely write checks anymore. Dad is no different. He writes a few checks for Christmas gifts, and he writes checks for his taxes. It takes Dad a while to write a check. He flips back and forth between the check and the check register, loses his place, and finally figures out where to write everything. As long as he has only one check to write, everything goes smoothly. However, he gets confused when he has to write several checks. He forgets who he has written a check to and has trouble getting each check in the correct envelope. Then, when they are in envelopes, he forgets that he has written a particular check, and will try to write another. Luckily almost all of his bills are handled through bill pay. Most are on auto pay, and the rest I take care of for Dad. When he gets a bill, he calls me and I access his account and fill in the necessary information to have the bill handled. 
I bought a "Paid" stamp for Dad. I think he'll like it. It will give him a job to do. It will also help avoid his panic when he stumbles on a bill and thinks it hasn't been paid. Dad will spend hours at his desk. He'll go through the file cabinet and look through papers he finds in there. For whatever reason, he thinks they are all current. Now, as long as he doesn't use the stamp until he has talked to me about a bill, he'll know the status.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Bad Situation Turns Out OK...This Time

Dad got a phone call this afternoon. Apparently the "Impeach Obama" group is seeking donations. Since Dad is a devout, died-in the wool, card carrying Republican who has donated to the party and its friends in the past.... he has a target on his back. I wasn't there, but Dad's girl overheard the conversation. The group had Dad's credit card number - I'm not sure how or why, and he agreed to their hitting him up for $175.00. As soon as his girl heard him agree to the donation she read him the riot act. She told Dad that one should never... NEVER... give money over the phone. There is no way to know who is accessing his information, who will actually benefit from the donation and what other uses they might make of the account information. She got on the phone to his credit card institution.

Then, things get interesting. There was no draft on his account in that amount. Actually, there were no charges on his card for the last 4 days. The agency suggested that Dad's card be cancelled, and a new one issued. His girl explained that he had just gotten this card and we have just changed all of his bills over to the new number. She hated the idea of going through all of that again. The clerk from the bank was able to access information from the old credit card number. He noticed that a charge of $175.00 had been charged on the card today.... and denied! Hooray!

I talked with Dad about the dangers of phone solicitations. He sounded surprised when I explained that there were all sorts of scams out there to bilk people out of their money. I told him, in the future, to suggest that the organization send him information to read, and only then might he consider a donation. But, I don't believe this will stop Dad from making a donation to a good sales pitch for a cause he believes in.

Any suggestions?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Pain was Excruciating

Sometimes I participate in a writing challenge hosted by Jenny Matlock at Off on a Tangent. Jenny provides a prompt and sometimes a style of writing, and we are challenged to use the prompt in a post, generally of no more than 100 words plus the prompt. This week's prompt was:

The pain was excruciating...

I wanted to do something a bit different. I wanted to stay away from writing something about physical pain. Then, I thought about my father. I see my dad suffer when he knows he used to be able to do something, and has lost the capacity to recall how to do it now. The pain must be excruciating!

The old man sat hunched over his desk, swallowed by the worn sweater wrapped around his barrel chest. He stared at the computer screen in front of him, with rheumy eyes, a tear escaping and rolling down the leathery skin of his cheek. The mouse in his gnarled hand felt comforting, but images on the screen brought deep despair. He remembered that he used to work this computer. He used to know how to find things on the computer. He knew much of his life was inside the machine, but he was damned if he could get to it now. The pain was excruciating.

Visit Jenny's blog to read more responses to her Saturday Centus prompt:

Jenny Matlock

Friday, September 28, 2012

Whose Job Is It?

In my last post I talked about Dad's obsession with working. Things are changing, perhaps, just a bit. Today I got a call from Dad asking if I could come over and help him. He said he just couldn't make heads or tails of the 'stuff' on his desk and he had some notes he had made that he couldn't figure out. I headed over to his place and we began going through the pile piece by piece. The first few items were mailings from charitable organizations asking for donations. Dad and I had talked about each one on the phone the night before. I have access to his bank account online, so I was able to see that he had already given each organization a donation this year. I told him to shred the document. He didn't want to because he wanted to hang on to the forms so he could make a donation to the organization next year. I told him that I was sure the folks would send another mailing in the new year. I told him to at least write that he had contributed to the organization. I gave him the date and the amount. Evidently Dad didn't remember our conversation from the night before. I went over the information with him again, and this time we did shred or throw away the donation forms.
From there we moved to a discussion about taxes. Dad wanted to put together some things, like copies of checks he had sent to charitable organizations, to send to his accountant for tax purposes. I suggested that we collect those items and send everything at year end. I did meet some resistance, but Dad finally relented and allowed me to set up a file for him to put tax documents in as he found them or as they arrived in the mail. Do you want to take bets on whether the accountant gets some things mailed to him in the next few days?!
Then Dad asked me about an email that was open on his computer. The email was from early August and the information it contained was 'water under the bridge'. Dad kept asking, "Are you sure?" Even though action had been taken on the email in August, he didn't recall that and thought he might need to do something with it now. We sifted through his inbox and I helped him delete junk, move important emails to folders and clear out the inbox. Again, I have access to his email online, so I do try to run interference from home, clearing out things that aren't important, but somehow had missed these few items. 
Dad had some questions about his Address Book on the computer. And as I was helping him sort through things he asked, "How do you know how to do all of these things?" That was such a bittersweet question as Dad used to know how to manage his email, his address book and more. 
Finally, Dad looked at me and asked if I could come and help him like this every week. He said he was just getting into a big 'mess' with everything and couldn't deal with it. Awwww, Dad, you are breaking my heart! Of course I'll help you! Today I am taking an 'in' box over to place on his desk. That will (hopefully) become the place that Dad can put things when he isn't sure what to do with them. This will become my work and I gladly accept the new assignment!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Gotta Have A Job to Do

Dad is always busy. Whenever I suggest that he go to a meeting at his community, or go with me to see some interesting event in town, he tells me he has too much to do. He says he is too busy. Husband and I sometimes shake our heads in wonderment - just what does Dad have to do?

Dad takes his 'job' very seriously. He sits at his desk for hours every day. After all, this is what he did when he worked, and work is a defining characteristic of his being. He sifts through papers. And sifts through them again. He opens old emails and clicks on things that show up on his computer screen, opening documents or navigating to sites on the Internet. He pulls files out of the cabinet and reads through papers, many of which were filed over a decade ago.

When Dad is 'working' he will often call me with a concern, based on what he has found. Today he was questioning a 'discrepancy' he noted in the sale of his condominium. Dad noted that the bottom line of the sales document showed a refund of several thousand dollars. He wanted to know if he had to pay that amount. Dad didn't sell his condo; I asked Dad to tell me the date of the sales contract. He noted that it was written on 2/15/08. I often get the feeling that Dad doesn't recognize the significance of dates any longer. He seems to consider everything as current. I suggested that the document must have been generated when Dad bought the condo, four years ago. After a discussion of why there might have been a refund due, and how that was probably handled, Dad seemed to accept that this transaction was complete.

I often wish that Dad would turn the computer off and get away from his desk. I wish he would sit down and read, or watch TV, or go for a walk. But, then, I have to think that Dad is happiest when he is working.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Best Blog - Are You Kidding?!

Is anyone out there?

Sometimes when I post something on either of my blogs I wonder if anyone actually reads what I have written.  I am pretty quiet about this blog. I don't post very often - probably not often enough. There are so many good stories about times I have with Dad. Then there are the times I am so frustrated my eyes start to go buggy and I want to rip my hair out. But, I'll save that for another post.

Imagine my surprise when I received an email from a Tracy Rose at, saying by blog was selected by editors as one of their 25 favorite blogs about Alzheimer's disease. My first reaction was to laugh it off as some sort of junk email, or some sort of scam. Then I checked and that web site does exist... and they did pick and list 25 blogs and yes, mine was there, along with some other blogs on the subject that I enjoy reading.

They even said the nicest things about my blog! 
I was so pleased, and surprised...

Keeping a sense of humor about the good, bad, and ugly of Alzheimer’s is no easy task. Thankfully, blogs like Driving My Dad remind caregivers of the beauty that life can still hold for everyone touched by Alzheimer’s and dementias.
If you need a quick refresher, pick-me-up, or lifeline, then Driving My Dad is the place for you. Stop by for poems, upbeat reflections on life caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, or whatever it is you need – you are sure to find it here. Drive on, dear blogger, drive on – your readers are counting on you for a steady supply of Alzheimer’s inspiration!
So... I guess I better get the car in gear, and.... drive on!
I need to share those stories. 
They may soothe someone.
They may inspire someone.
They certainly may ease my frustrations.

Thank you, Editors, I appreciate what you are doing
to provide information to readers on all health topics.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Who's On First?

Lesson learned. Talk to Dad about one thing, and one thing only. If I have two things to discuss, wait and talk to him about the second thing later!
Today we talked about his lawyer, Frank. We also talked about his new tenant, Don. By the end of the conversation we sounded like a remake of the Abbott and Costello piece, "Who's on First?" It was confusing, for both of us!

I haven't listened to this piece for years. 
It's brilliant, simply brilliant!

Monday, June 4, 2012


This week Dad called me about a two-page document he had. It came from his broker and described changes in his IRA. The word, "IMPORTANT" was prominently displayed in capital letters across the top of the document. Dad was a bit concerned about the paper and asked what he needed to do. I told him that it was probably documentation that new banking regulations require brokers to send out. I asked Dad what date was on the document. He looked around and finally found the date, April 10, 2010. Then he immediately asked, again, what he should do with it. He asked if he should send it to his financial advisor. I tried to explain that the document actually came from the company where his financial advisor works, and that, since it was over two years old, he didn't need to do a thing with the paper except throw it away. Dad could not grasp that. He kept asking about sending it to this financial advisor. He couldn't, or wouldn't, understand that the information was old information, had been sent as an "FYI" and that nothing needed to be done about it. We left it with Dad putting the document in a folder for me to look at the next time I'm at his apartment.  It seems that Dad could not understand that the document was two years old, and thus the information was 'old news'. He kept getting hung up on the word, "Important" and felt he must 'do' something with the information.

Monday, May 14, 2012

My Dad is Back in Town

Dad's back from his cruise. He was gone 4 months. Wow! That's a long time.
It seemed to take him a week or two to settle back into things at home.
At first he seemed more forgetful than before he left, but that seemed to go away as he became more rested.
Although I've gone out to dinner with Dad and his girl, we didn't talk too much about the cruise. Dad has been more 'in the moment' as far as our conversation goes than recalling his adventures.
He has asked that I help him download pictures from his camera. Maybe that will open up avenues for discussion about his trip.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Look Well, Therefore, To This Day

My dad found a way to instill productivity in his children. From my earliest recollections I can hear my dad saying, "Do something constructive." and, "Finish what you start." To this day, I sometimes most often feel guilty if I am not 'doing something'! 

Dad's words echo those, a bit less eloquently or perhaps a bit more succinctly, of Kalidasa in his "Salutation to the Dawn".

I was introduced to Kalidasa's words at summer camp. Our camp director would close the morning flag raising on most days, with this powerful recommendation. For many years, the salutation meant little to me, except that it was keeping me from my breakfast. But, as I matured I began to listen to the words. I began to embrace the words. 

Look to this day
for it is life.
The very life of life.
In its brief course lie all
the verities and truths of existence;
the joy of growth,
the splendor of action,
the glory of power.
For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision.
But, today well-lived
makes every yesterday 
a dream of happiness
and every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day;
Such is the salutation to the new dawn.

Kalidasa's words define my life.  I try to live each day to the maximum extent possible. I lie abed in the morning and plan my day. I outline each moment. Should there be a minute that I have not accounted for, I 'Look well, therefore, to this day' and get involved. I make sure that I am doing something constructive and that I finish everything most things I start. Such is the way I was raised!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Failing Memory

I received this in an email and felt, for me, it was just too 'spot on'. I just had to share!

Senior citizens are constantly being criticized for every conceivable deficiency of the modern world, real or imaginary. We know we take responsibility for all we have done and do not blame others.

HOWEVER, upon reflection, we would like to point out that it was NOT the senior citizens who took:

The melody out of music,

The pride out of appearance,

The courtesy out of driving,

The romance out of love,

The commitment out of marriage,

The responsibility out of parenthood,

The togetherness out of the family,

The learning out of education,

The service out of patriotism,

The Golden Rule from rulers,

The nativity scene out of cities,

The civility out of behavior,

The refinement out of language,

The dedication out of employment,

The prudence out of spending,

The ambition out of achievement or
God out of government and school.

And we certainly are NOT the ones who eliminated patience and tolerance from personal relationships and interactions with others!!

And, we do understand the meaning of patriotism, and remember those who have fought and died for our country.

Just look at the Seniors with tears in their eyes and pride in their hearts as they stand at attention with their hand over their hearts!


I'm the life of the party..... Even if it lasts until 8 p.m.

I'm very good at opening childproof caps..... With a hammer.

I'm awake many hours before my body allows me to get up.

I'm smiling all the time because I can't hear a thing you're saying.

I'm sure everything I can't find is in a safe secure place, somewhere.

I'm wrinkled, saggy, lumpy, and that's just my left leg.

I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.

Yes, I'm a SENIOR CITIZEN and I think I am having the time of my life!

Now if I could only remember who sent this to me, I wouldn't send it back to them, but I would send it to many more too!

Spread the laughter
Share the cheer
Let's be happy
While we're here.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


Saturday Centus is a writing exercise. Jenny Matlock posts a prompt each week and describes limitations the writer must adhere to. This week we were challenged to write 107 words and include: saying goodbye was harder than she thought. Here is my response:


When did life change? When did she become everything to Dad?  She couldn’t place it on a timeline. She couldn’t recall if it happened suddenly, when Mom died, or whether it sidled up little by little. She went through Dad’s refrigerator, tossing unrecognizable tidbits and packing perishables to take with her. She looked over her shoulder as she stepped into the hall, already feeling a sense of loss. Emptiness. What would she do with her time now? Saying goodbye was harder than she thought. But imagining the adventures Dad would have with his friends on the cruise brought a smile to her face, and her heart lightened. 

I have been participating in this writing challenge for a few weeks from my other blog. But, the prompt fit so well on Dad's blog, that I decided to post it here. To read other responses to the challenge, click on the Saturday Centus button below. 

Friday, February 3, 2012


I received my first letter from Dad. He seems to be having a wonderful time on his cruise. He enjoys the food and participated in a wine tasting program, which he really liked. I was tickled that he explained how the ship has a stabilizer to keep the ship steady despite heavy seas. Yup... that's the Engineer in him! Dad even gave me statistics, such as the ship having 647 crew members, 10 decks and 2 restaurants. He is enjoying the programs they have in the theater every evening. I am thinking he likes the ship better than his retirement community!

Speaking of his community, in getting Dad's mail I came across a letter from the Director of Food Services.  He explained that a committee had investigated different coffee options for the community. They selected a different coffee than that which is currently being served for the community to try. It's amazing how quickly news spreads. Look at this paragraph from the director:

This cracked me up! Not only does word travel fast, but isn't the power of suggestion amazing?!!

Friday, January 27, 2012

It's Campaign Time - Cough up the Dough

Advertising may be described as the science of arresting 
the human intelligence long enough to get money from it.
- Unknown

My friend from Desert Canyon Living shared this quote and I couldn't help but think about all of the mail my dad has been receiving. Dad is a Republican. He has never wavered. Not once since Dwight D. Eisenhower's days in office. 
It seems that every conservative group looking for money knows that my dad is a Republican and has donated to the party. Each day he has been receiving at least five mailings from different groups. Oh, they are so very cunning! 

First, I've noticed that they employ a variety of strategies just to get the recipient to at least open the envelope. Most common, it seems, is a colorful 'stamp' saying "Important Documents Enclosed", or some such statement.  Some have highlighted a "Membership Renewal" statement, implying that Dad had already been a part of whatever organization is soliciting his attention. My favorite was an envelope stating "Currency Enclosed" and you could see the edge of a bill in the window of the envelope. (And... just whose money are they using when they send out this stuff?!!)

Getting the recipient to open the envelope is the first hurdle. Then those clever folks have to get you to read their message. They employ bright colors, highlighting, underlining, and post-it type notes. Some groups have a letter addressed to Dear friend, or Dear supporter. Some have taken the effort to address it to the recipient. Oh, the wonders of technology and databases! Organizations may craft official looking documents with impressive looking seals.  Some appeals are single paged, others have multiple pages, use different colored paper, enclose certificates, have different sized documents. But, consistent among all of the mail is that somewhere they ask that you please donate to their cause.... and include four different ranges of contributions, with a simple check off box.

There are organizations that provide Dad with a self-addressed stamped envelope while other groups require Dad to pay the postage. Many have made it easy to give online, with just a click of computer key. But in the end, they all want the same thing. Money.

Dad and I don't always see eye-to-eye on which organizations he chooses to support. Dad's lockstep focus on the Republican party and conservative causes has led to more than one lively conversation! I can't change him, he was born this way! But I do worry that as he struggles more with his reasoning abilities he may make unwise decisions or be taken advantage of by a group he thinks is doing great work, when maybe they are only doing a great job of taking money from unsuspecting people. As I was growing up, Dad helped me read things like he is now receiving with a critical eye. He helped me learn to make sound judgments. It was a growth process. I now grapple with how to keep Dad from 'unlearning' these skills.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

If It's Tuesday...

Did you ever see the movie, "If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium"? If you saw it then there is a good chance you are my age... or better! If not, that's OK. I don't remember all of the specifics, but it was a fun comedy about a whirlwind European tour; one of those where you are on and off the bus and on to a new destination, moving all of the time. 
Well, I can say "If It's Tuesday, it must be chats on the Farmhouse Porch!" Patrice is back from her trip. Wendell is relegated back to the pasture. And, Patrice is sharing questions asked by her readers. If you'd like to join the chat and see what others have to say, click on the picture to hop to Everyday Rurality and check out the links to others who are joining the chat.

So this week Patrice shares these questions:
  1. Kimberly asks: How long have you blogged?
  2. Lana asks:What is the most difficult part of taking care of chickens?
  3. Susannah asks: Would you prefer to live where it's hot or cold?
  4. Farm Girl asks: What sort of things are you looking forward to in 2012?
  5. Dreaming asks: What's for dinner?
Here are the responses I would expect from my dad:

1. How long have I blogged? What's a blog? Why would I want to blog? Seems like a waste of time to me. I'm too busy doing other things! My dad just can't figure out social networking - and, if Dad can't figure it out... it must not be worth doing!

2. What's the most difficult part of taking care of chickens? Dad would have to say, 'I have no clue.' He's never had chickens that I know of. If he did happen to care for them, I think he'd feel that cleaning up after them is the most difficult part - and I'm not sure he'd have the patience or the passion to stick with it. Yeah, he'd love the fresh eggs, and he'd share those joyously with friends... but I'm not sure that would sustain the effort to care for them on a day-to-day basis. 

3. Would you prefer to live where it's hot or cold? This brings a smile to my face! Dad loves living wherever he currently finds himself. And, he will let everyone know that wherever that is, is the best place and everyone should live there! When Dad lived in Arizona, that was the best place. It was warm in the day, cool at night. The climate was dry. The sunsets were surreal. When Dad moved to SC, that was the best: there was always fresh seafood and the winters were fabulous. Rochester, New York was close to skiing and boating. New York City was the mecca of fine food and entertainment. Rhode Island had the best sailing, bar none! Denver, CO has the best climate. So for Dad, it isn't about the climate, it's about the other things that bring joy to his life. 

Dad enjoying one of his passions

4. What sort of things are you looking forward to in 2012, Dad? Ah, with a twinkle in his eye, Dad would say, "being on this side of the grass!" At 90 years of age, Dad is enjoying life. He's in good health, and other than a failing memory, he's having fun. Dad might also say he's looking forward to the election. He is a staunch Republican. He would love to see Obama out of the White House. But, I think he is disappointed in the Republican candidates.

5. So, Dad, what's for dinner? Damned if I know, responds Dad! He loves living an the Independent Living Community because he doesn't have to worry about dinner and cooking. He despises cooking. He doesn't do it well. He loves going up to the club-style dining and picking something from the menu. I find it interesting that Dad really enjoys fine food, but adequate food will do as well. The choices at the community aren't always the best - but he never complains. 

I'm glad that Dad could take part in the chat with y'all today. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Winsome Wendell

Hi folks! I'd like you to meet Wendell. Wendell is a Haflinger/Belgian cross who lives with Patrice at Everyday Rurality. Click on her blog to meet Wendell; he's hosting the Farmhouse Porch Chats this week.  He's quite the gentlem... er.... horse!

Dad wouldn't want to meet Wendell, at least not up close. His preference is to meet horses from afar and then he really only gives them a passing glance. Horses were never his thing. In fact, I can remember Dad coming to only one horse show that I was in and I don't recall that he ever came to the barn.

So folks are chatting with Wendell today. He suggested we go to the barn as the porch isn't tall enough for him! So, Dad, would you consider visiting Wendell at the 'cyber' barn? No muss, no fuss...OK?!

Here are the questions we'll chat about. You can see other people's responses by scrolling to the bottom of the page when you go to Everyday Rurality.

1. What is your favorite kind of chili?
It used to be that Dad would want a nice meat and bean chili that was really hot. The hotter the better. But, age has a funny effect on one's digestive system, he tells me, and now he doesn't care for anything spicy. That's OK with me. I like a nice mild chili. Oh, and let's put some sour cream, cheese and onion on it! Last week I had to take toppings for chili to a pot luck. I also took some crumbled up taco chips. That was a great addition to the chili... chili with a little crunch. Hey, Wendell, maybe you should try grated carrots on chili!

2. What do you usually do when you feel a cold coming on?
I usually whine about it. I hate that feeling almost as much as I hate the cold! In the past few years I have begun to take mega doses of Echinacea. It seems to work. I think my cold gets condensed... it doesn't last nearly as long, but I have one day where I am pretty sure I was run over by a truck.... with a trailer! Dad is stoic. He just goes on about his life and doesn't say a thing. How did he raise someone who is so opposite?

3. Rice, potatoes, or pasta?
No, Dad, you can't have all three. You have to pick one. Usually at that point, the waiter will contradict me and Dad will have a healthy portion of carbs! He loves to eat! If I restricted him to one, he'd pick the rice. For me, that's a tough one. I also like them all. If the pasta has some sort of cheesy sauce, I'll take that, please.

4. What kind of camera do you use?
I have recently begun to use the camera feature on my iPhone. I have had an iPhone for 4 years, but just got a newer version and the camera is so much better. I can even take videos and edit the pictures a bit on the phone. (That's why you may have noticed I have more videos on my other blog.) Dad has some sort of Kodak digital camera. He's got it with him on the cruise. But, I'm betting there aren't too many pictures on it when he gets home. He isn't much of a picture taker. Before he left he was getting confused about a CD that came with the camera. He would put it in the computer thinking it was instructions for using the camera, when it was actually the software to download pictures. Several times I would get on his computer and see where he had inserted the CD. I finally found some instructions online and printed them out.

5. Are you a night owl or an early bird?
In this respect I do take after Dad. We are both early birds. We are both nodding in our chairs early in the evening. Dad has always been a great 'napper' - his skills are far superior to mine. We used to joke that Dad could fall asleep at a red light!

Well, after all this chatting, a nap sounds really good. If you don't care to nap, you can join in the chat at Patrice's and Wendell's blog!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Flowers For Algernon

One of my favorite novels is Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. This is the story of Charly Gordon, a developmentally disabled young man who undergoes experimental surgery that transforms him into a brilliant scientist. Charly works alongside the scientists who discovered the procedure and discovers that the effect is only short term, when one of the test mice, Algernon, begins to regress. The Oscar-winning adaptation of the novel, "Charly", was released in 1968.

I sometimes feel that I am living the novel as I see my dad struggle when doing something that he used to be able to do without any thought. Dad recognizes that he used to know things and can't remember them now, and that is discouraging for him, as well as for me. It seems that he is losing skills in reverse order as to when he acquired the skills. Most recently he struggles with technology applications; navigating around his computer, using features on an iPhone, or finding the address book on his cordless phone, for example. However, when it comes to investments and the stock market, he is still sharp as a tack.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dad's Gone

Oh, no... not 'that' way! Dad's on an extended cruise with his girlfriend! She has cruised.... a lot! In fact, she has racked up over 1500 days onboard cruise ships! Wow! That's a lot! Before she met Dad she had booked a grand tour. So, when she and Dad became an item he was able to book the cruise as well. So last week we saw them off on their grand adventure. Of course, things were a bit tense during packing. It seems that Dad and girlfriend had distinctly different ideas of what to pack. Dad would put something in the suitcase, she would take it out. Dad couldn't find the item and became anxious because he wanted to pack it. He forgot that he had packed it and she didn't divulge that she removed it and hid it! When we saw them the evening before they left, his girlfriend commented that this was similar to earlier cruises with her deceased husband where she questioned whether she wanted to be in the same stateroom with him... better yet, maybe they should be on different ships!

Despite Dad's trip I think he should join in the chat on the farmhouse porch. Maybe we can envision sitting on chaises on the lido deck for this chat! But, this week I'll have to answer for him - well, don't I always?

1. How often do you wear a skirt or dress?
OMG - this is an easy one! Dad has never worn a skirt or a dress. He isn't Scottish, so no kilt, either. Additionally, IF Dad were to wear a skirt or a dress, he'd be the laughing stock of his community - not because of his attire, but because of his skinny 'toothpick' legs! I recall only a few occasions where Dad wore shorts, and then, being an object of derision, he often changed into long pants! Of course, his loving daughter never, ever made comments about his chicken legs. That just wouldn't be proper!!!
As for me, wearing a skirt or a dress??? It's been so long I can't remember! Somehow I don't think dresses and my Ariat paddock boots look nice together. The dress just ruins the look!

2. Did you feel unmotivated after Christmas and New Years?
Dad was so busy getting ready for his cruise that I don't know if he was really that aware of the calendar. Also, he's the sort of guy that doesn't get that emotionally connected with holidays. For him, it's just another day. 
As for me... nope. Not this year. I cruised through the holidays and for once my emotional roller coaster had very few highs and lows and I am very focused on new things I want to get done. I didn't experience a slump that has happened in the past.

3. What was the last thing that made you say "Wow"?
Oh, wow! This is tough for me to figure out with Dad. Dad just lives each day as it comes. He has a very low EQ (Emotional Quotient) I'm not sure if that is a product of his upbringing, but he is pretty 'even keeled'. I'm hoping he's had some 'wow' moments on his cruise as he travels through the itinerary. If I had to guess, I'd say his last 'wow' was dinner at a great restaurant a few days before he left. We discovered a wonderful northern Italian restaurant that has a wonderful menu. I'm betting he said a few wow's about what he was eating! 
For me - easy peasy! It was tonight's sunset:

4. Do you shop with a list, or do you "wing it"?
This is easy.  Both Dad and I use lists. Lists have become Dad's survival tool. He writes notes about everything. I have a magnetic pad on my fridge, and shopping items go there. I also keep a note on my phone for things to buy or do. However, just because we have lists, it doesn't mean we don't buy tons more than what is on the list!

5. What questions would you like me to ask on our Chat? 
Dad would want to ask: What technology tool(s) do you find useful to you, and why?
My questions include: 
- What's for dinner?
- What's priority #1 in your life?

If you'd like to join the chat, visit Chats on the Farmhouse Porch

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Then....The Doorbell Rang

Am I boring you, yet, with stories about communicating with Dad via screen sharing? It is a big part of our day. Invariably he'll call with a question about how to do something or a concern that something is missing on his computer, or he wants to show me something he found on his computer. So we begin the screen sharing ritual. I'll prompt Dad to open iChat. (We had it set so that it would open when he turned his computer on, but he didn't like the fact that the Buddies list cluttered up his screen.) Then I'll send a request to share his screen. That causes a window to pop up on his screen and a bell begins to ring intermittently. At that point Dad has to click on the window and then click on "Accept". His screen will show on my computer and we can hear each other through the computers so I tell Dad to hang up the phone. It is a nifty way for me to help Dad do things, find things, or see things on his computer. We could also do video chat if there wasn't a computer issue that needed to be resolved. All in all, it's a great way to communicate.

Yesterday when we were in the process of getting connected, the bell rang on Dad's computer. He excused himself to answer the door.

In a movie, that would have been funny. Not so funny in real life.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Dad - The Ladies Man

Once again, I've decided to invite Dad to participate in the Chats on the Farmhouse Porch. I hope that's alright?!

He is really quite a jovial guy and he always 'wows' the ladies! In fact, if I look back through our photo albums I find a lot of pictures of Dad with other women! Usually Mom was there, too, so it wasn't anything bad... just a guy who loved charming the girls! Now, he isn't much on small talk - he might show his impatience, but I'll try to keep him 'entertained'!

Here's Dad with my mother in 1978. Don't you agree that he has a most charming smile?! He still smiles that way and his eyes twinkle!

1. What's your favorite kind of tree?
Dad wouldn't hesitate to say a concolor. Actually, it's latin name is Abies concolor, known as a white fir. When I was growing up he planted a concolor near our porch. It had a pretty bluish tinge to its needles, similar to a Colorado Blue Spruce. Dad fussed over that tree, fertilizing it, spraying it and mulching it. I guess that worked magic because I saw the tree a few years ago - it is now over 50' tall! My favorite? For me? I'm thinking a Japanese Maple. I'm not certain that we could grow one here, but I do love the delicate shape of the leaves and the pretty purple color.

2. How did you celebrate the New Year?
Ah, we are such party animals! Dad and his girl had leftovers at their apartment. My hubby and I watched TV and were in bed by 10:00. Well, it was new year's some place!

3. Do you have any family traditions for the New Year?
For a while we had a tradition for New Year's Eve. We used to have a party and invite our friends and their children. We'd make silly hats and set off fireworks. The kids got to play with sparklers. Usually we'd wake up the next morning with a few extra kids. We hated waking them up, just so they could go home!

New Year's Eve - 1994
When I was growing up we really didn't have any traditional activity for the first day of the New Year, except to go skiing. We skied whenever the ski areas were open within a 3-4 hour drive of where we lived.  Dad would stay up for the 11 O'clock news to get the ski reports, then wake us in time to get going and be at the ski area in time for the lifts to open.

4. I'm so glad I____________ in 2011.
OK, Dad, let my friends know your answer to this one! Dad... it's finding J, right? Well, shall we call her Saint J? Sometime around March Dad was introduced to a widow at his retirement community. She is 15 years younger than he is and she has many gifts that make her a wonderful companion for my Dad. She was a Special Ed teacher. She has a wonderful way of dealing with him when his memory issues or perseveration become apparent or frustrating... to him and to her! She explains that her relationship with my dad is like an Oreo Cookie; the good days and times are like the center, they are very good and special. And yes, sometimes those good times are surrounded by times that aren't that great, but, she's willing to put up with them for the good times. Oh how I wish he had met her years ago!
For me... hmmm, I think I'll have to say moving into our new home made me happy. I am so in love with the house and the location.

5. Did you have a nickname as a child?
My Dad will tell folks that his real name is Edward, but he is called Ted, and he doesn't know how that came about. I guess his parents used that nickname and it stayed with him. I never had a nickname, except at the camp I attended. I became 'Boing' because my hair was very curly and the ringlets looked like springs. I'm glad no one knows that - shhhhh! Don't tell! OK?! Pinky Swear?

If you want to participate in the chatter visit Everyday Rurality's blog and click on one or more links from others who have joined us for the chat.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year - What Will It Bring?

Would I want to know what the year has to offer 
if I were given a chance? 

Would knowing make things easier? 
Or more difficult? 

I'm thinking that the unexpected twists and turns our lives take
are like the spice we add to change an otherwise bland meal
into something with pizazz! 

I don't want to know. 

But.. if this year is the last I have with Dad...
I want to feel good about the time we had together.  


When Dad calls three times in ten minutes,
I'll answer the phone with a smile in my voice.

If Dad needs me to come over to help him,
I'll be there.

When Dad repeats a story,
I'll listen, with interest. 

Dad is 90. He is healthy. But life takes those unexpected turns. 
I'll put on my seatbelt. I'll be as prepared as I can be for what will come. 

May this year bring health and happiness,
peace and prosperity,
 to everyone!