What’s new in Madison, you might ask??

Jim dropped by with treats for Hil — all kinds of yummy stuff to suck on :)…

When he was here, he said he mentioned the idea of a senior apartment or assisted living to her — and she didn’t freak out about it.  She also has a book with lots of the options by her chair, so she can look at it as she’d like.. Jim knows her well enough to drop an idea into conversation and leave it at that — let her think about it and make her own decision… no surprise there.

Susan sent two boxes of books for Hil to read — they’re on the coffee table in the den — if you visit,  you should check them out. There are lots of good titles..

Pro tip — Hil loves Culvers vanilla shakes… usually a small is enough for her.. to get to Culvers take Huxley down to Manley, go right on Manley until it hits Sherman (you can’t go any further on Manley) then right on Sherman and then left at the lights by the grocery store… it will be on your left.

Madison is a confusing town — don’t get lost :).

Generally, I’ve been doing pills, food and the nebulizer treatments together.. so, with breakfast, lunch and dinner she gets it all — then she can nap, read or whatever between times and we don’t have to worry about forgetting things.. She does an extra nebulizer treatment before bed..

Usually, breakfast starts at about 7 — lunch is in the noon range, dinner between 5 and 6ish and bed about 9 or 10…

Pro-tip 1 — give Hil your cell phone number and keep your phone handy when you’re upstairs or in the living room — that way, she can call you easily.. the system has worked well so far, but — remember to check her cordless phone on occasion, she’s not particularly good about hanging up.  The visiting nurse knows that if she calls for an appointment and gets a busy signal, she should just come by.. Also, leave a note on the front door and leave the door unlocked when you expect her, just in case you don’t hear the bell.

Pro tip 2 — the automated vital signs machine will talk to you at 9:00 AM… be ready… Hil will need to get up, move over to the machine and get on the scale attached to it.. then it will prompt her to put on a blood pressure cuff and a finger oxygen monitor — then it does it’s thing and asks a couple of yes/no questions and sends the information to her clinic.. after that, she’ll probably want a nap..

Also, Hil’s good friend Denise is now in hospice — Linda is with her and reports that Denise is comfortable today, resting with her cat by her side.. I hope Denise passes peacefully —

That’s all from Madison today — it’s a beautiful day here — the visiting nurse should be here soon, then lunch.  While Hil naps, I’m going to run out to the store for a couple of things…

What’s New with Hil, you might ask..

After the election excitement last night — and company all evening, you’d think she’d be exhausted — and, she was tired, but she did well today..

Linda stopped by this morning — with sad news about Hil’s long time friend Denise — Denise has had stomach cancer for a long time and has been moved to hospice.. the doctor is thinking days, not weeks at this point and Denise’s son is on his way into town tonight. 

Hil met Denise when Denise needed an English tutor — Hil says that they didn’t make much progress doing that, but they had a common love of playing cards (Hil taught me to play Gin Rummy as a child.. probably the same week she pierced my ears.. 🙂 ).  Denise came over to visit early this week and the visit was quite welcome and wonderful — I’m so glad Hil got a chance to see her dear friend..

After lunch, the girls from across the street came over to keep her company, so I went out for a couple of hours and didn’t have to worry about her.. it was very kind of them to do so..  They’re a fantastic couple and quite fun to be with — I know Hil enjoys their company…

Before I left, the social worker came over to introduce herself — she seems like she has a good handle on the services and options for Hil — She left information with us about housing options in case she needs to move someplace more supportive, meals and the like — and Hil seemed to be reassured to have the information and likely to order the equivalent of meals on wheels once her “staff” has returned to our day jobs..

While I was gone, the occupational therapist came in — at least an hour later than the appointment they made with Hil this morning… grr.. we gave up on her — But, the good news is that she got Hil up and around today — Also, an automated device was delivered and hooked up that will prompt Hil to have her vital signs taken and will automatically send them to her doctor… kind of a cool device.

It may be a stroke of genius putting it across the room –although, I think the placement was accidental — this way, Hil will have to get up to attend to that task… and getting up is a good thing..

Pro tip — the thing will go off at 9:00 AM every day and ask, in a creepy electronic voice, for her vitals.. don’t be scared the first time it does this..

Hil update 2 (aunt, not Clinton..)

We had a big day yesterday… a trip to the bathroom, fresh PJs and the decision that the couch is hard to get off of, so for the time being it’s the big red leather chair for Hil..

Also — that election thing… we had the girls from across the street over for dinner and election results — so, good company, good food and great news all around.

Mom booked her ticket to Madison — turns out there is a huge price difference between flying in on Sunday and flying in on Friday… so she chose Friday — which works for me :).  She’ll be in on Friday late afternoon, Andy will be down in the evening and I’ll go back to Minnesota with him on Sunday, so Mom can have her car here..

We also decided that I would take care of the house and Mom would spend Thanksgiving in Madison… good news all around, I think.

Today the OT person should come in, at some point… the social worker was a no-show yesterday… grrr… the girls from across the street will come hang out with Hil after lunch so I can go wander around Madison for a couple of hours without being concerned about Hil –she could stay alone, but I wouldn’t leave her just so I could get a break — and Hil enjoys their company.. so it’s all good.

In food news– here are the pro tips…

1) coffee.. if it’s normal coffee to you and I, it’s too strong for Hil, so some hot water in the cup first — then coffee will make her happy.

2) toast — watch it… the toaster oven works well, but start with the “light” setting and add time…

3) the eggs… I always start them first, put the eggs in the small cast iron pan, cover with water and turn on high… let them go for at least 25 minutes, then put the eggs in a bowl of ice/very cold water for just a little bit (a minute or two at most), they’ll be easy to peel this way… then, mash them up with some butter..

Put it all on a tray — in the cupboard by the fridge — she’ll send you back to the kitchen if you don’t have a tray :)…

Generally, she’s had an apple for lunch and a decent dinner… you’ll keep her happy if she has ice water, almonds and a Hershey bar with almonds by her side at night..

It took me a while to figure all of this out — there’s no reason you should have to sort it out on your own..

How I spent election night…

While I would have rather been at home, celebrating with Andy (we had a long phone call afterward… ), I spent election night in a wonderful way…

My Great Aunt Hil is 90… and a passionate Democrat.  She wanted Obama to win, she is in support of all gay rights and she’s generally a smart, compassionate and wonderful woman who is concerned about the future of her country — not for herself, but for her family.

L and R are a wonderful couple from across the street… they live there because Hil’s soul mate (J) is R’s ex-husband.  R and J are good friends.  Their marriage dissolved when R figured out that she’s a lesbian… J is a man and L is a woman.

L & R are a fun, loving, and compassionate couple.  L cooks — bakes, to be precise, and takes photos… in many ways she’s similar to Andy.  R is a mail carrier, more outgoing than R.  Both have a love of life and one another that’s infectious.

The evening began with tacos (made by me, inspired by Andy) and R’s guacamole.  We worried when Mittens was ahead and cheered every time Obama gained some electoral college votes.  Every Democratic House or Senate win was good news…

All of us were really hoping Baldwin would beat Thompson in the Wisconsin race.  We hoped Baldwin would be the first openly gay woman in the Senate — and we got our wish… when it was announced, there were cheers, hugs and kisses and a sense that things might be ok.

L & R were worried about the anti-gay marriage amendments on the ballot — so when it became clear that Minnesota hadn’t fallen to bigotry, there were more cheers… and, when same-sex marriage was made legal in two more states — it was wonderful… but, we were still sweating the big race… would Mittens beat our guy, Obama??

Eventually, Obama won too… and we felt we could go to bed and not worry about the country.

Spending the night with L & R made me think — no sane person who spent any time with this sweet, affectionate and compassionate couple could say that they shouldn’t be able to get married if they wanted to… nobody in their right mind, at least.  Their personalities mesh nicely, they work well as a team and are supportive of their partners’ goals, dreams, ambitions and values.  Isn’t that what a marriage is supposed to be about?  To deny that they are already a family would be preposterous… just, plain silly — and to deny them the legal benefits and protections granted to hetero couples on a daily basis is just plain wrong.  period.

I have my amazing Hil to thank for bringing these great women into my life.. She was at J and R’s wedding… J is, in many ways, Hil’s life partner –it’s not a romantic relationship, but it’s a relationship filled with love, laughter, compassion and support. When R and J broke up, Hil could have held a grudge against R for breaking J’s heart — but she didn’t.  She saw that life and love don’t always follow an easy or predictable path.  I have Hil to thank for being wise enough to see that and letting R into her life, and thus mine.

The most wonderful thing about last night was being with three women who care deeply about equality — and one another.  I can’t adequately describe the expressions of joy on L & R’s faces as it became clear to them that the country is more accepting of their relationship…. and it’s about dammed time.

L said something that sums it all up, “in the future, people will look back on when gay couples couldn’t get married and wonder what the hell — what were they thinking back then?”  L hit it on the head.

It’s a good day today, and the future looks better than it has in a long time..

Hilary Update… (My Great Aunt, not Ms. Clinton)..

Since this is a personal blog, I’ll use it that way today.. It’s easier to write here and link to Facebook than to put it in a long status update…

I’ve been in Madison for nearly a week — (it will be a week tomorrow) — I took the “Notebook of Power” from my amazing cousin Emily on Thursday — and Emily went home to her very patient family on Friday…. and eventually they sprung Hil loose from the hospital on Friday…  I was quite grateful to have Kris and Brian around to get her settled in…

Pro tip — INSIST that the nursing staff either send prescriptions to the pharmacy at the hospital OR fax them to your own pharmacy well before discharge.  I missed that detail and, as a result, had to beg a pharmacist at a just closed pharmacy to fill a whole bunch of new prescriptions for Hil — it was a Friday night… eek…

Hil is seeming to gain a little bit of energy every day, but not a whole lot… she’s moved between her chair and the couch twice since she got home — and I’d have liked that to be much more often… she tried last night and couldn’t quite do it — she’d had a lot of visitors and was pretty tired.

She’s on a bunch of medications and breathing treatments, which are actually quite simple… I’ve also mastered dumping the “You’re-a-pee-in” say it out loud, it sounds like “European” purse — i.e. her catheter bag…

Hil has a wonderful set of friends who will come to hang out with her so that I can go out for a while and not worry about her… last night Linda came over, Jim is here today — tonight Rochelle and Lindsay from across the street will come to watch the elections.. Rochelle said she’d come over for a while tomorrow…   They’re a wonderful group of people who love Hil and appreciate her unique personality…

The game plan so far is that I’ll be here until Sunday — Andy is coming down to visit and cook — and, as it turns out, take me home… My mom… the Master Nurse of her generation (they all say that Mom, so accept it) will come in to take over for me on Sunday.  I’ll leave mom’s car here — and Mom will be here until Emily and her family come back for their Thanksgiving tradition — and Mom will come back if needed (and I’m thinking she will be needed.. ).

Oliver is planning a weekend visit the weekend before Thanksgiving — which will give Hil someone else to talk to — and Mom a bit of freedom to do her own thing…  and Jane said she could come in early December if needed… and, if she’s not needed I’m sure she’ll be appreciated :).

A note to all of you who are going to visit — I got new mattress pads (thin, down feather beds) — BUT… you NEED to keep your bedroom doors closed, or the cat will be naughty… and, it’s not going to be fun doing that laundry.. I’ll put notes up on the doors to remind you —

 

On those who refuse to vote…

This guy isn’t going to vote, even though he can….

and.. I’m stunned by this attitude every time I encounter it.

Just the other day I had a discussion with someone like this — his attitude is that “they’re all crooks, I can’t vote for a crook”… wow.  Yes, it may be true that all politicians are dishonest in some way or another — but, the thing is that it’s important to pick the candidate who at least SAYS they align with your values.

If you don’t have an opinion on many of the important social issues, then develop one — read, listen, talk to both sides and figure out what YOU think.  It’s probably the most important thing you can do as a citizen.

I spent a week making phone calls to take down this woman:

And, once in a while I’d get an amazing response to my opening spiel…

“My husband takes care of the voting in this house”… or “I’m not political, I don’t vote”…

I usually had to go walk those off… because, frankly, that’s what some folks WANT you to do — and they don’t have your best interests at heart… they’re “crooks” after all, right?

We were generally calling women, so in my head I’d say things like “well, when crazy eyes cuts your medicare and social security, don’t come crying to me” (if they were older) or — to the young women “when the Republicans want to control your uterus, don’t whine to me”…

In more reasonable times, I think about all of the folks living here and contributing to the country that aren’t permitted to vote — immigrants (with or without legal status) — if they aren’t citizens, no vote… and felons.  In this country 5.8 million citizens can’t legally vote — because they’re felons, 4 million are out of prison and/or even off of “paper” (parole or probation).  Most of these folks are trying like hell to get their lives back in order after a terrible period in their lives — they have problems finding jobs and apartments due to criminal background checks (another rant all together, but — fyi, if a felony is more than 4 years old the person is no more likely to commit another crime than someone with a clean record) — and many states are making it quite difficult for them to vote.

There’s a demographic reason states don’t want felons to vote, it’s called racism.  Felons are disproportionately African American… So, one mistake as a young adult means no voting for life… (see stories about Florida’s process for an example).  My state is quite civilized, once a felon is off of probation/parole their civil rights are automatically restored… thus, they can vote without having to do extensive legal paperwork to do so.  More states should be like Minnesota…

And — Everyone who CAN vote, should — if only because your felon brothers and sisters can’t…

 

Thank goodness killer boobie month is almost over…

I don’t know what to think about pinkwashing on kitchen appliances…

For one, Andy does nearly all of the cooking… and, while he’s concerned about breast cancer, he also won’t wear a pink shirt… I’m guessing if he had a Kitchenaid, he’d use it – then again, our new kitchen is pretty small, so I’m guessing it would end up in the closet…

And… a kitchen appliance, nothing says “women do all the cooking, like God intended” like that… it might as well be a pink vacuum  with a pink French Maid’s costume to go along with it… aack….

I’m glad tomorrow is Halloween… that means the pink-ribbon shit may be gone from the stores by June.