Monday, July 21, 2014

Caution: Men at Work

As I drove up and down a street in Grosse Pointe during the last couple of years to the school four of my grandchildren were attending, I noticed the construction going on across the road. The building is just about completed, but the publicity started a long time ago (I'm not going to use any names, or post any photographs just in case, well you know.) It is billed as a senior living facility, a continuing care community where we can gracefully age in place. It's true, we need such a place in Grosse Pointe. Should one or the other or both of us need to give up our large house and move to an "apartment home", we would be relieved to live close to three of our children and in easy reach of the battalion of doctors we visit these days. Nice to know we would be across the street from the Hunt Club, close to the Yacht Club and two Country Clubs. Yes, we live in an up-scale area.

I compare any facility I visit to the one in which a former neighbor lives—the Henry Ford Village, a much older facility which has learned by experience what works for seniors. It is in Dearborn, which, I believe, has the largest population of Arabs in Michigan, if not in the USA. But no Hunt Club.

Our new residence had an Open House on Saturday, and surprisingly I was able to persuade this house's co-resident to come along with me. What did I find surprising? The lack of organization, for one. We signed in in a book where we were not asked to provide our address, though this event was surely a recruitment exercise. We were corralled by a very attractive young woman who didn't know as much as she should about the facility, but was quick to tell us that the remark, "This place must have been designed by a man" had been bandied around.

Hence the title of this post. As soon as we walked in to the building there was a small, formal waiting room and right behind it— the swimming pool, and right next to the pool, the eating area. Only a man would have thought that 80 year old women in their swim suits wanted to be in full view of new arrivals and diners. "Abundant closet space". Yes, for a guy with six golf shirts and an equal number of pants. I wondered why the built in washer and dryer was the first thing she showed us in every room. Only a man (with a calculator) would design a TV room for about 10 people without realizing that seniors have a need to socialize and cosy common areas are so important.

A lot more to say, but I came to the conclusion that perhaps some day the stars might align to cause me to end up in this facility.

Until I read the cost sheet.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I'm in Love!

Let me explain. When I saw water escaping from the bottom of my old (and I mean old ) washing machine, I realized that its days—or hours—were numbered and that those commercials about the Maytag repair man having nothing to do were somewhat exaggerated. I have an impeccable sense of timing. You are talking to the woman who had a sewer back-up on Christmas Day, when, or maybe because, there was a houseful of people wanting to eat. And we would need water to do dishes! In this case I was about to take a trip to Chicago. Fortunately I could eke by on my already-washed clothes, but I needed to have a washing machine up and running by the time I returned.

My research this time consisted of running across the driveway to borrow my neighbor's Consumer Reports and calling my sister-in-law who had earlier been telling me that she had bought two washing machines which she hated and returned before settling on a third. She told me that the first two were not "washing" machines, they had merely given her laundry a shower. I soon found out what she was talking about.

The evening before my trip saw us visiting store number one, going on to store number two and returning to store number one. (I left number two not because of their choice of machines, but because they wanted to charge $15 to haul away the old one. A matter of principle, not $15.) My biggest problem, however, was that I wanted an old fashioned washing machine. I wanted a top loader to begin with, and then I was dismayed to discover that the new machines do not have an agitator. More roomy drums, but even the salesmen admitted that the lack of an agitator made getting laundry harder to get clean.

I settled on a Whirlpool. A plain, old fashioned Whirlpool. Being plain and old fashioned didn't exactly mean that it was inexpensive, though it was half the cost of the fancy new models with enough buttons and doo-dads to send the device into orbit. I have been doing laundry for fifty years and have never needed half the controls some of these machines have.

I ordered it and it was delivered and installed and waiting for me on my return. Could the person with whom I share the house have taken it for a test drive in my absence? Well, he could have, but at the beginning of our marriage he announced, "I don't do laundry."

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

The Agony and the Ecstasy

The best-kept secret in this house was Lucy's pregnancy. This photo was taken several weeks ago, so you can imagine why it can no longer be a secret. She and Peter wanted to choose the right moment to tell Peter's daughter before the new baby became public knowledge.

That's done now. Her two sisters want to give her a baby shower, so on Sunday the four of us went to put together a registry. I wasn't much help. I suspect my older four told us what they would like as a "grandparent" present and I didn't bother with the rest of the things they were accumulating. I haven't had a baby since 1976 (the one and only time I was the recipient of a shower. More about that at a later time.) We went to a large nationwide store which I won't name because I can't get the punctuation right. Aisles and aisles of products for babies and toddlers. These products were neatly organized: sleeping, eating, playing, bathing—you get the idea. They were divided into "must haves" and "would likes", or words to that effect. And the choice! Just in the stroller category we have jogging strollers, full sized strollers, luxury strollers, double and triple strollers—lord have mercy—stroller accessories, stroller bunting and footmuff. To name but a few.

That set me thinking. What do I remember about buying equipment for my children? Very little. I do remember going to what was then J.L. Hudsons, our local large department store. They certainly didn't have stores specializing in babies back then. We bought a crib and the following year when it became clear we needed a second crib, I think I sent my husband off to buy one. Crib number two didn't seem so special! I suppose I bought some baby clothes and I know got signed up with Dydee Service which took my used cloth diapers away every week and replaced them with soft, fluffy clean ones. Until the nurses handed over newborn baby number one, I had never held a baby. We had no family in Detroit who could have given us advice about feeding and clothing and bathing. We figured it out.

So when my new grandchild arrives, I will be ecstatic. But marching around the baby emporium, especially with my still hurting knee, was agony.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Let Us Pray . . .

. . .  or scrub the floor, or weed, or, for that matter, walk without looking like a drunk. All impossible. For some reason my knee is killing me and I find it hard to move it. I would like to say it is the result of my ten hours of wallpapering on Saturday (details on Facebook) but my duties for that project were largely sitting down and giving instructions and acting like an over-educated gopher. I belong to the "wait and see what happens" school of medicine. It will either get better or it won't.

Let's hope it does. And soon.

Friday, June 20, 2014

I Made Someone's Day Magic

My last post was grumpy. I am not grumpy all the time. In fact, a couple of weeks ago I made someone's day magic. MAGIC. Tammy S. was the lucky lady.

Let me explain. I went to a certain department store in search of a new iteration of the garment which the French call "soutien gorge." With or without a hyphen. Eventually I found something marginally acceptable and then set about finding two more. No more to be found, even with the help of the pleasant sales associate. Is that what they call them these days? This delightful woman called another branch and said my soutien gorges would be delivered to my house. Free of charge.

And they were, and carefully tucked away inside was this card. Tammy S. feels the magic every time she packs an order, so I guess it is just not me that made her day, but my two garments (one white, one toasted coconut) certainly contributed to her euphoria.

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Plague on all you Apothecaries

I take two medications prescribed by my neurologist. Nasty medications with unpleasant side effects. The Tegretol was particularly bad when I first started to take it, the Neurontin not so bad, but the combination can make life difficult. I will not complain, because I can deal with the problems; not taking them causes a situation with which I cannot deal.

This is not a "please feel sorry for me" entry, but a comment on the stupidity of the people who manufacture or dispense medications,

When I picked up my medications in past months, I received pink pills with brownish  code (Tegretol) and bright yellow shiny lozenges (Neurontin.) My dose was divided between morning and night. Now look what a dose looks like—

There are some people who make jokes about the elderly sorting medications into their pill boxes. Let me join the butt of their jokes. Try distinguishing the pill on  the left (two per day) from the pills on the right (four per day.)  I can see pretty well, but one of my side effects is a lack of focus in the morning.

Something just seems so stupid about this all.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Too Little, Too Late

My brother-in-law was a much beloved country priest. His parishioners showed their affection for him by leaving gifts on his doorstep. These gifts usually consisted of cakes, cookies and pies. Although he would tell us that as a member of a family beset by diabetes he would prefer a stew or pot pie, he never found the courage to announce this firmly to the parish. When he was seriously ill, a few friends came to his house to cook him a birthday dinner. My sister-in-law, who was staying with him, told us this story. Mary Ann was talking with a rather over-weight woman who had taken part in the cooking and sat down to eat with them. The woman piled her plate full with mayonnaise-laced potato salad, creamy sauces and frosted cake. The topic of diabetes came up, and the woman admitted that she suffered from that dangerous and hard to manage condition. Mary Ann asked her how she could eat the type of food that she was currently enjoying and she replied that she had an infusion device inserted beneath her skin so that when her blood level indicated a need for insulin, she could inject insulin—and carry on eating!

Fast forward a few years. Yesterday I was reading the Detroit Free Press section which highlights new or original items for sale, mostly rather expensive knick knacks. My eye was caught by the advertising copy "Just because you are nursing does't mean you can't enjoy a cold one. Milkscreen is an alcohol testing kit for your your breast milk to ensure everything is safe." If you click on the link you will see Kourtney Kardashian endorses it! A Kardashian is trying to tell nursing mothers that if their milk test too high in alcohol they have the choice between rushing out to buy Enfamil, letting the baby cry until the next screening shows a less dangerous reading or letting the baby nurse anyway?

Wrong. It is all so wrong.