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!