Thursday, March 31, 2016


Boysenberry blossom.

It cannot be a good sign when a dirge-like Grateful Dead song (is there another kind?) is the earworm of the day, can it? Reading the lyrics, I am not even sure the song makes much sense. (It Must Have Been The Roses. Lyrics here.)

Absurdity, like paranoia, strikes deep. Into a life it will creep.

Trying to write this and help my mother fill out a bunch of questionnaires about her hip replacement hospital stay and subsequent help at the same time: not a great idea. Her memory is a challenge for both of us. I have been mostly patient, but the kinds of things she forgets! All this is made more difficult, as I have said, by a lifetime of indirection, obtuseness, and private sarcasm, Janet's personal style. Before I snap at her when I am particularly frustrated, I ask if she really doesn't know or if she is just being lazy and not making an effort. Often it will turn out that she remembers more than she lets on.

I am fighting with the reality that she needs more and more care or at least more attention and stimulation. I have to get her organized. And she was a challenge for cat-herders even before she started losing it. (A Challenge for Cat-Herders makes a good caregiver's guide title.) When I was a child, I would call her from somewhere in the house. No response. Finally, a search on foot would find her sitting in the backyard, completely within earshot, just petting the cats and ignoring the rest of the world. Checking out. As an adult, I understand this, but as a child I was completely frustrated and disrespected.

And repetitious problems really bug me. My patience account is very low in this area. Small things like keeping the sink cleared off (not my strongest suit either) of refrigerated food after a decent interval of digestion and time frittering, she just will not do. Walks right past. Or does not take her medication even after I have put it out. She hangs up all her dirty clothes instead of throwing them in the even-more convenient hamper. I have to try to remember what I have seen her wear. She could do her own laundry, but she lets me do it.

And then there are felling moments of tenderness. I scurry around Trader Joe's as she chooses a single banana. Then, as I am returning to the cart, I see her scanning the landscape for me. I remember then, that she is vulnerable, doesn't see well, and might be less oriented than I give her credit for.

At Costco today, she told me that she cried the first time she went into one. The scale of the store, the amount of JUST STUFF, and the realization that many people have nothing just overwhelmed her.

On a brighter note, there was a man playing the accordion, reasonably well, outside the store. The  suggestion of the French demi-monde floated in when the doors opened. I don't even recall if they were playing their usual rock and roll, as the accordion was sweetly predominant. We gave him some money and said thanks on our way out of the (treacherous) parking lot.

The blues, or baby dementors, are following me, nearby. I have managed to kept them in abeyance, but they are asking some good questions, alluring questions, which would take me right down the rabbit hole of depression, into the bed where I can feel worse, even though I might be lolling around with Vera Paris.

Meanwhile, bills to be paid and much gardening, always gardening. Maybe that's my job title now: Caregiver/Cat Herder/Gardener. With five cats (don't start with me, I know it's crazy), I do a lot of cat herding. Poor Merle is out getting neutered today. My mom is just bananas over him. She was kissing him on the head, which is not how she usually interacts with the kitties.


a small purple artichoke
in its own battered
and darkening
grows tender and sweet

patience, I think,
my species

keep testing the spiny leaves

the spiny heart.

— Jane Hirschfield, The Beauty, Knopf, 2015

First real tomato.

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