Something to talk about

Things I haven’t written about:

1) My job as a mother’s helper.  It’s been going on for over a month.  The original ad stated up to 15 hours a week, but it’s been more like 3.  It’s a nice family, a little pocket cash has been nice, but not a long-term solution to my emptying bank account.

2) My bird-watching.  I am doing a project for the class that went to Costa Rica and I became intrigued with bird-watching while there so decided to give it a try.  It’s both fun and frustrating (how aware are you of the tens of birds h-i-g-h up in the trees?  That you can never get a good gander at?).

3) My grandfather has (had?) a fractured vertebra.  Yesterday they put cement in his back.  I haven’t seen them in probably a month.  They were very adament that I not come up, despite the previous two months of weekly, “So when will we see you again?”

4) I am up for an office assistant job I really, really, really, really want.

5) The whole job situation/school scheduling/volunteer time has got my head ordering vodka tonics 24/7.  I have alternate plans/times tables if I get the job, if I don’t, if the condo sells, if it doesn’t, if we win the lotto, if my grandparents take a turn for the worse, if Jupiter’s effects on Mars become too strong….etc.  If some movement doesn’t happen in some direction soon, I will explode from uncertainty principle effects.

6) Between injury (hello, ankle-I’ve-sprained-six-times-and-now-is-just-a-facsimile-of-an-ankle), study sessions (best score on an organic chem test yet!), and condo open houses, I haven’t spent a whole Saturday at the sanctuary in a while and it’s starting to wear on me.  The whole switch-gears things in general is wearing me down.

7) I bought a steam cleaner.  I am officially 47.

To Grandmother’s House We Go

I was little red riding hood for halloween.  I was supposed to be Rogue (from the X-men), but I had a little crisis over the whole thing.  Maybe I didn’t want to base my whole halloween persona on the fact I’m prematurely gray.  I also thought I wanted to be retro Rogue, with bomber jacket and green spandex, and that meant spending too much money.  (Sadly, we watched X-men I the day after our costume party and I realized in the last scene that I had the perfect NewImproved!Rogue costume that wouldn’t have looked like I just threw on jeans and a T-shirt AND it would have been free.  Live and learn.  The learning being…watch more TV?)

Aaanyway, I was little red riding hood.  (ST was the big bad wolf.  Permission to gag granted.)  And in my basket of goodies for Grandmother?  Mini liqueor bottles.  Specifically, Jack Daniel’s.

To some at the party, this was just cute.  Others knew better.

My grandmother has had a Jack Daniel’s (black label, ice, with a twist of lemon) every night of her life since she was diagnosed with diabetes and told to stop drinking all the frou-frou sugary concoctions.  That was before I was born.  I know of two occassions when she detoured from this path.  When grandpa was in his car accident, I strongly suspect she was having more than one.  When she was recently re-diagnosed with diabetes, she stopped for two weeks (two long hard weeks) to see how it effected her blood sugar until her doctor told her he never meant for her to give up her live-saving juice and practically mixed her one in his office.

My grandfather has not been well.  He’s the only one of the two that drives, and he hasn’t in over three weeks.  After his car accident, they moved to the retirement community for these types of occassions.  Grandma can theoretically take community busses to the grocery store, the mall, etc.

In practice, she also takes these busses.  So I suppose I should say that theoretically she can get everything she needs.  And that’s where the plan falls apart.  She doesn’t have the upper body strength to carry more than two bags of produce.  This means she’s going to the store almost every other day to keep them stocked.  And things like grandpa’s seltzer water for his throat tickle are just always too heavy.

I’m worried about other things too.  They have always been people to eat out twice a week.  It’s something that I got to first endure then enjoy growing up (the only saving grace to restaurant dining when I was five was shirley temples with six maraskeeno cherries)  (no, I’m not looking up the proper spelling, that’s how I’ve pronounced it my entire life).  Now, when grandma is even frailer and getting dinner together means her starting right after lunch, they aren’t going and she’s not getting that rest.  And I wonder how the other chores are going – laundry, bed-making – with so much energy put into hunting and gathering.

We’re going up tomorrow to spend the night, cook fahitas (grandpa has evidently been salivating ever since the word was mentioned) and assess the situation.  Grandma is thrilled and told me she’s already planned that we take her shopping.  It’s jumping the gun, but ST and I have also discussed whether I will start making weekly/bi-weekly trips to help with housework.  In some ways, this is one of the reasons I’ve stayed in Florida.  And one of the reasons I felt good about not being tied to a regular job.  But there has been a time or two when I thought the time had come and it hadn’t, so we’ll just have to see.

I’ve pestered grandma quite a bit for items we might be able to bring up, so that our grocery list is lighter when we get there and she doesn’t have to trot all around Publix.  Despite repeated queries, the two-itemed list remains constant:  mini bottles of seltzer water, and a not-so-mini bottle of Jack Daniel’s.

9:48PM

I’m sitting in the spare bedroom of my grandparent’s apartment, loving an unsecure wireless connection.

I don’t know if I ever told you, but my grandparent’s helped raise me and my brother.  We spent the summers at the cabin with them.  My grandfather was a prominent law professor and would write rather than teach during the summer.

It is well established in my mind that if one of them should die, or something should happen and they needed more care, I will be their caretaker.  I think the rest of family believes this as well.  Grandmother knows this; we discussed briefly how my returning to school creates a more free schedule and allows for interruptions.  We have many frank discussions about death, but the state at which they might arrive there is a delicate subject.  Death they don’t mind; it’s the possible decay beforehand.

One of the reasons I am here right now is because of how they let me help and care for them more than other family members.  It is a great burden on them to do even the simplest tasks for company, and George thought my coming would help.  I’ve done the dishes, fetched the wine, shown George and Francesca where they would be staying (an on-site rental), held canes, made coffee, cleaned the kitchen, and perhaps most important, given Grandpa the chocolate wafer which comes with the bread pudding at the Stonewood Grill.

I don’t know why they allow me the priviledge of helping above others.  (Although I suppose Grandpa would allow random strangers to accost him with chocolate.)  Part of it is perhaps because they see me more frequently.  Grandma feels I know the place; I can be trusted to put things away or fetch something with minimial instruction.  But it’s not really any more true here than a friend’s house I’ve visited a dozen times.  Perhaps it’s just in my personality to be like that.

Part of me wonders if it is perhaps because I am the youngest female.  Someone, in an earlier time, who was expected to wait on and care for the family.  My grandmother was the only girl with two brothers and flappers for parents.  She raised the whole household.  My grandparents are rather progressive people, but perhaps unconciously it feels more proper to them for the granddaughter to clear the table and plate the dessert than anyone else.

I am not complaining about this.  I like it.  It makes me feel a connection to family that I normally don’t.  There are few people I feel so comfortable and in sync with.  My grandparents have supported me throughout my life and all the decisions I’ve made.  I do not see it as an obligation I must repay, but an honor to return the support they’ve shown me.

In case you have ever wondered exactly how much progress I’ve made since a child, at dinner tonight my grandfather fake-scowled, “You were a rather ornary little girl.”  To which I did not drop a beat to retort, “I’m a rather ornary big girl.”

(Please excuse the ramblings, mispellings, and lack of point.  Often my family gets me a writing kind of mood and I think I will capture the ideas later but they seem to vanish when I am once again alone.  This is at least a start.) 

Visit Recap

The weekend was a great success. My parents wanted to take a walk Friday morning, which gave me time to hit the gym per my new routine. Every bit counts when you know you’re going to be chowing down all weekend.

Thursday evening I had suggested to both of them to peruse my iTunes and pick songs for the shuffle. Dad chose a few, clearly not interested at first but he came back in with more and more suggestions when he saw how much fun Mom was having.

Not only did this mean a little bit for everyone on the drive up, but they got the added bonus of knowing they raised me right when they can find Wilson Pickett and Fats Waller in among my Dixie Chicks and Nickel Back.

(Although Dad? Chose the Texas Tornados “Guacamole”. Which…I cannot explain why I own the Texas Tornados because the story is too boring. But I had never heard it until somewhere south of Ocala on Friday. With my father singing along. I’m not sure I can be a produce section with him ever again.)

We got into Gainesville around lunchtime. Although we first stopped for lunch (at the Oaks mall! Did you see us?) inside Gainesville because Mom and Dad are a little scared of being dragged to the cafeteria. I love the cafeteria food and my father once attempted to disown me when I asked him to give me tips to recreate a chicken stew-thing we ate there. But, food quality aside, the real issue is that it’s just such a damn TO-DO to go to the cafeteria. So Ruby Tuesday’s it was.

The afternoon passed quickly, catching up and getting my parents checked into their room. The retirement community has two guest apartments that can be rented by residents and it really comes in handy. (I stayed with the Grandparents.)

We had dinner at one of my favorite restaurants: The Stonewood Grill. And I had my two favorite dishes: herb encrusted grouper (I am not usually a seafood person, but this is awesome) and the chocolate bread pudding. It was heaven. Both the bruschetta and my salad came with balsamic vinegar dressing, and the grouper had a balsamic vinegar reduction sauce. I heartly approve of any meal where you can get balsamic vinegar in multiple courses.

I also tried a Pinot Gris. A little delicate, but better to me than a chardonnay.

Saturday we made it to the Santa Fe Community College Teaching Zoo for a tour and it didn’t start to rain until our last 100 feet. (I will answer for you the question asked of me from my family – I have no desire to be a zookeeper. I could do that at the sanctuary for the rest of my life and keep my high paying, amazing benefits giving, job. I wish to get into research that will help protect and understand animals in the wild.)

The zoo was interesting. I was impressed with their bald eagles. The South American porcupines wouldn’t come out though. I love me some porcupines.

Since it became so rainy and cold, I was half-hoping my grandfather would find the curry too much for him and I could snag it for lunch. No dice. I’ve been instructed to bring any extra curry in my possession to him directly.

Spent the afternoon reading and napping, then drinking mimosas while trying to ease kitchen tensions as Dad cooked in a strange environment. I know their layout and tend to get on Dad’s nerves a tad less. He is the kind of person that just needs to be left alone to work his magic.

But magic was worked and another yummy meal was consumed. This time with a shiraz and I’m sorry to disappoint wine-type people, but I find anything too dark to see through just too bitter and it gives me a headache. I’d love to be proven wrong, but haven’t yet so far.

Nothing too exciting for the evening’s endeavors. Mom and Dad once again skipped out early (it is rare they make it past 9:30 on any night) and Grandpa and Grandma and I watched some BBC and Olympics. I thought I would be jonesing for more entertainment, but just being around four other people non-stop tired me out.

Sunday morning was kind of annoying in that it was just hurry-up-and-wait until it was time to hit the road. I was very out-of-sorts. Perhaps it is because sometime Friday evening we had exhausted my interest and understanding of the Supreme Court, yet continued to discuss it throughout the weekend. (I am going to admit something to you that no one else in the world knows: when I am with my family? I often think I’m the dumbest person in the group. That is both cool and unnerving.)

Then we could not find a decent place to stop for lunch until it was way too late for me. I was shaking a bit in the restaurant and really biting my lip to ask everyone to just shut up until I’d had a meal and fifteen minutes to digest.

(Also – my family seems to exist solely on alcohol and dairy. It hit me more than once over the weekend that I was getting dehydrated. My usual intake of 100-160oz was probably reduced to 10.)

But luckily I perked up after eating. TPA has instituted a new “first hour free” in the short-term parking. It was a pleasant surprise on Thursday and Sunday it was nice to come inside with them and not be rushed with goodbyes.

I still got home earlier than I thought, got the grocery shopping done, and found surprisingly less damage to the house than I expected. The cats were happy to be fed. And later, after two meals, they were also happy to see me.

Illegitimate

Oh my. The weekend? Quite enjoyable. Kept me on my toes. More later.

Two conversations

Karen: I didn’t get a good look, but I think he’s kinda cute.

Me: Definitely. Although a little scrawny.

Karen: I thought that too. But all the more you can control him and have your way. You know, put him exactly where you want him!

Me (hissing): We? Are in the house of the LORD. And we’re about to get kicked out.

—–

Me:…He was nice, you know? But I guess I’m just a lot more picky these days.

Grandma: So no great-grandchildren?

Me: No great-grandchildren.

Grandma: Well, maybe some anyway? Who knows? (girlish cackle)

Me: I now have to take a poll and find out from my friends how many of their grandmothers suggested that they have illegitimate children.