Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Being Dutiful

I called my mother on Christmas Day.

She did recognize my voice, or at least she seemed to. During our twenty-minute conversation, at times she thanked me for the flowers I'd sent to her, at times she thanked me for the pointsettia she thought I'd sent to her.

Mostly she bitched about the people who "visit" her and how they only come to her house because there are no other elderly people to visit. She has no understanding that the in-home aides are there to take care of her. She is still (as she was from the earliest memories I have) utterly without ability to accept gift, or compliment, or help with gratitude. I refrained from telling her that the people were there because I ordered them to be there -- she wouldn't be able to understand that, so there's no point.

I listened to her repetitive rant until my temples were throbbing, then extricated myself from the conversation.

Talking to her was like looking at a cicada moult and trying to figure out the bug's mind from it. She has convinced herself from her core of being that there is nothing wrong with her, and that she needs no one's help.

Nothing that she says is reliable. What she apprehends from minute to minute is malleable, it might be real, it might be imagined. She said she was alone, although the agency we've retained says it is there 24/7. I don't know if that's true or not.

I began to froth at the mouth that she had been left alone on Christmas Day, but then had to sigh, and wonder. Maybe she was, and maybe she wasn't. And though I might rage at what might happen to her if she was alone, isn't some incident that she, in her incapacity, might bring upon herself the foot in the door that I've been praying for to get her into a nursing home?

Wishing her no ill, I still have to accept that her Alzheimer's is a death sentence that cannot be commuted.

May God have mercy on her.

Monday, December 24, 2007

In Love

I know that I thought the first picture I took would be of Howie, but the sun was peeking through the trees and struck the papyrus by the patio with a remarkable effect. This is the first picture taken with the Sony Cybershot DSC-H7.

I only took a couple pics the first time through the instruction manual. As I began to realize the potential of this camera, my hands started to shake and my nerves were done for the day.

This morning, after breakfast, I sat down with the BIG instruction manual and started going through it page by page. I found out I could take pictures of the yard through the window while I was seated in my comfy chair in the bedroom!

One of the "demands" I had on a new camera was a zoom. What I didn't expect (whee!!!) is that this camera can function well in low light without a flash. I zoomed in on the dozing Howie.

Another thing I lusted for was closeup stuff. The Sony has a "macro" feature that allows me to take pictures as close as half an inch. Not having any pretty flowers growing in my bedroom, I had to be content with experimenting with the arm of my chair.

To avoid taking up too much space on this blog, I reduced the size of the photos, but with the original in Photoshop, I can zoom in even closer to the point of seeing the fibers in the threads.

I love this camera already.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Watch This Space for More Developments

A new pet entered the household tonight. I've been wanting a companion like this since the old pet died. And now it's resting in the quiet of my bedroom, waiting for my hands to touch it gently and make it do tricks.

It's a Sony Cybershot DSC-H7 digital camera. 8.1 megapixels, 15x optical zoom.

No way am I even going to try to play with it tonight. I read as much of the manual as I could easily retain, and by the time I was done gulping with astonishment about all the things this camera can do (that I didn't even know about) my hands were shaking so badly that I'd never be able to get a clear shot.

When I bought my dearly departed Olympus 765 Ultra Zoom, a week went by before I had more than one clear shot per shoot due to the shaky nature of my appendages when nervous.

And I want the battery to have a full charge when I start to play, tomorrow, you betcha.

AND how much do you want to bet that my first subject is the sweet, soft, striped Howie?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Even One Little Life

This finch has just had a quick snack and is debating whether or not to tell the other 20 members of his flock about the freshly-hung finch food.

Eventually, he returned to the flock with nyger seed on his breath, and they all beat the location of the tasty treats out of him. And then they all came to dinner.

This evening I got an early Christmas gift. While sitting at my computer station (now in the kitchen with this pictured window in front of me, and a patio glass slider to my left) I heard a loud "Whonk!" and turned to see a little finch lying on the wet patio about 3 1/2 feet away from me on the other side of the glass. The poor little idiot had flown into the patio door and knocked himself simple.

One wing trailed on the ground, allowing me to see the exquisite pattern of darks and whites on his wing; but the bird's head listed to the left, eyes half closed, beak open as he panted in distress. "Not good," I thought. "If he dies, I'll toss him over the fence to where a neighbor's cat will eat him." (No life should be wasted. His little lifeless body could provide a meal for something.)

I turned off the kitchen light so that I would be less visible to the traumatized bird. After about five minutes, I noticed that he had stopped panting, though he was still looking over his dragging wing to keep an eye on me. I read another article on the BBC, and then was pleased to see that the bird's wing was back in its proper position. In a matter of seconds, the bird was looking around, eyes fully open. I watched and waited for him to hop away, but instead, he burst into the air and flew madly away over the fence to the east.

He was only a lowly finch, but I was glad for his recovery.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Broken Toy

I still have no pictures to share on this blog recently because I still have no camera.

There is no new camera in my life yet because until the last couple days, I was too sick to entertain thoughts of researching cameras. And then when I started to feel better, there was too much to do trying to make the house look less like an abandoned land fill.

This next week will be different, I suspect. I miss having a camera. I miss specifically MY camera, and haven't grown past the realization it is dead-o. Prior to owning my Olympus C-765, having a camera was a convenience; a camera was something one ought to have on hand in case one needed it. After splurging my stash on the Olympus, however, that appliance became as much of an extension of my creativity as my pens and pastels and paints. Without it, I feel as though I'm missing a limb -- something should be there ... and isn't.

The evenings I've spent sitting in the comfy chair in the bedroom, with my laptop warming my legs, keeping one eye on the back garden to watch the yellow-rumped warblers, kinglets, and white-crowned sparrows frolicking in the weedy overgrowth I've neglected this past year, I really miss the camera. Though the winter light is probably too dim for photos, I fancy that I could get a kickass image of a yellow-rump if only my camera was working.

Gotta get me one.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Where Are These Terrorists When I Want to Kiss Them?


If I could just give all of them a nice big kiss, most of them would be dead within two weeks.

This damn virus has still got me housebound and feeling like shit, after ten days. I haven't slept for more than 20 minutes at a time for six days at least -- oh, now that's not true, either, because this morning I slept for nearly an hour this morning before the damn phone woke me up. (You had better believe that tiny machine will be turned off before I attempt to sleep again!) Plus, my throat is still sore from coughing for all those days (and especially nights).

Bernie and I were talking on his lunch break today, and decided that this one is in the Top Ten Worst Bugs we've ever encountered. The absolutely wracking cough, the inability to rest, the physical weakness that have accompanied it -- for so many days -- yup, it's a prime contender.

I can remember when I was a kid, and got the measles or some such, and spent two weeks on the couch in the living room because my parents were afraid to let me out of their sight. The room had all the windows covered, I remember that, but not much else of that time, so it must have been pretty bad. I also remember how happy my dad's face looked when he brought me a couple of tiny pieces of pork chop and I ate them, at the end of that illness. So that one probably takes the top of the Top Ten list.

About thirteen years ago, I caught the flu, and thought I would die from it, especially after the long, long night I spent in fever hallucinations, thinking that I was an overstuffed chair that had been mistakenly created with sentience. I really thought I was a chair, and I really was dispairing for the voiceless existence I'd been given. That bout is probably Numbah Two, and convinced me of the necessity of getting flu shots each year since.

I haven't felt in danger of dying from this one, so I can't say that it's "Number Three" -- but I honestly can't remember feeling this crappy from a plain old cold virus. The wrenched muscles from coughing were alleviated by taking a couple doses of valerian; the nausea and diarrhea were (blessedly) short-lived; the coughing is disgusting, of course, and makes my throat hurt; but I think the worst is the inability to sleep. (No, Nyquil doesn't even touch it.)

Yesterday was Sunday, with Alex and John and Bernie all off to San Francisco to accompany Alex to the airport for her trip to Chicago. Though I had coughed myself awake for most of the night, I did have a lovely half hour of sleep, in which I dreamed.

I dreamt that I had somehow gotten shit all over the legs of my pants. Not my own shit, this was like peanut butter-colored cow shit. I cleaned myself off with paper towels as best I could (I was at an informal gathering of some sort) and then looked down to find myself covered with shit again. For a moment, I was horrified, and then, in the dream, turned to Bernie and said, "Do you know what this means? It means this is a dream, and I'm ASLEEP!" And for the rest of the dream, which involved more piles of shit in doorways and stacks of forgotten papers I had to go through, I was in joyous spirits because I knew I was asleep.

When that's the high point of your week, you know next week has GOT to be better.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Tis the Season

That could be a picture of our Christmas tree this year, but isn't.

We don't have one yet, and won't for at least another week. Bernie found an article about respiratory illness spikes during the Christmas season, and how they're apparently often linked to the mold spore content of the air around cut Christmas trees. The longer the tree is up, the higher the mold spore count, and thus the more likely to trigger respiratory illness.

And that, O World, is something this household does not need any more of. Four out of the five of us have been treated for pneumonia this autumn, so we're going to wait a week and some before setting off to cut our tree.

I have the dubious honor of being the final Coughing-The-Lungs-Out victim in this latest germy import. The doctor, when I saw her today, pitied me greatly, but informed me it was "just" a horrible hacking, wracking, nauseating, achy virus and that I'd live through it, bitterly perhaps, but in time I'd feel like a human being again.

Good news, eh?

Unlike some friends, who can turn sick-time into productive channels, I'm too much of a bitchy baby when I'm ill. Writing and art work are far from whatever side of my brain I use for those things, and all I can think of are mean things to say about the person who passed this freakin' bug on to me. (Hint: He had the gall to chuckle at me when my voice disappeared today.)

I did, however, find that the time went by more quickly when I had something to read. I'd ordered Lisa See's Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and The Prestige by Christopher Priest a few weeks ago, so I picked them up, turned on my reading lamp, and had at them. I won't do a review on them here -- I'm really not a good reviewer of books. It's enough to say that I read them through, and enjoyed their distraction, though I probably won't read them again.

The only other new books I have at hand are too creepy and depressing. Someday, but not on a rainy winter night when I'm alone in the house feeling like crap.