Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trick or Treat

Life Is Too Complicated

I know I shouldn't be complaining, considering all the trouble my fellow citizens on the East Coast are having due to Hurricane Sally.  (I guess I am, though.  Sorry.)

My life has been so complicated this week that my head is spinning.  I have been trying to help my mom with paperwork and legal matters resulting from David's death.  Also have been trying to keep her company from a distance because she gets so lonely in the house by herself.  My sister and I have been driving back and forth from our homes to Mom's, about an hour and a half away, bringing her down here to visit then back to catch up with things at home.  To complicate things, my sister has to work five days this week, so she is unavailable.

My sister Anne usually works only one day a week, Friday.  That is the day I pick up my three nieces from school.  They go to two separate schools which are across town from each other, and they all get out at 3:00.  So I go nineteen miles from my house to the youngest niece's school, then rush across town to get the oldest niece and get her to gymnastics practice.  Then I go back to that school at 4:30 to get the middle niece.  She is on the academic team and has practice until 4:30 on Fridays.  Then I get them something to eat, take them to their house, then drive back home.  Yesterday, I clocked the mileage from these routine trips:  70 miles!

Well, this week Anne has to work all five days to cover for her boss, who is on vacation.  That means I have to pick up the three girls every  day.  They each have different after-school activities at different times each day of the week.  So I have to keep straight who has to go where and when.  Her husband is unavailable to help this week because he is in Belize on a fishing trip.

Mom wants to be at my sister's house for Trick or Treat tonight so she can see the girls in their costumes.  So I am driving up to Dayton to pick her up, then pick up the girls from their schools and take the oldest one to gymnastics.  Tomorrow morning, I will drive Mom home in time to meet with a man from the cemetery to arrange for David's grave marker at 10:30 a.m.  She is grateful for my help and I am happy to help her.  She wants to sell her house to David's sons, but doesn't want to move to an assisted living place or an apartment because she doesn't want to spend the money.  My sister said Mom could come and live with her, but her husband says she has to clean out the basement first so he can put a kitchen in.  Mom wants to live three months a year with each daughter, but my husband and I don't have enough bedrooms, another sister lives four hours away, and another lives in a tiny, cramped condo.

I want to get everyone settled, have my oldest niece get her driver's license next year, and move to Hawaii.  I told them they can all come and visit.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Photos Along The Way

Sometimes progress doesn't seem so good.  Example:  these are scenes from the narrow, winding road that I drive to my sister's house.  These fences and the stone wall belong to a farm; the house is at the top of the hill.  The problem is, they are going to widen the road, and this view will probably disappear.

On a happier note, this is my youngest niece, greeting me as I come to their house.

And this is their dog, Sammy.  She's a girl; Sammy is short for Samantha.  She's a sweetheart.

Sometimes I just take photos of my everyday life.  I took these this past week with my phone.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


I will be SO happy when this election is over!  We have seriously been "blitzed" by political ads.  We happen to live in an area where we receive broadcast television from the Cincinnati area market.  As you may know, Ohio is one of the most important "swing states".  In Ohio, the three largest broadcast markets are Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati.  Cincinnati is in Hamilton County, Ohio.  The county is considered the most important county politically in this swing state; so we get all the ads targeted at this area.

We see one political ad after another, with no break in between.  First there will be a Republican ad, then immediately following there will be a Democratic ad.  They contradict each other, so how can either have the desired effect?  Then there are the Senatorial campaign ads.  Then there are the Super Pac ads.  24 hours a day, seven days a week, the ads just keep coming.  Now I have an inkling of why one of my grandfathers shot his television during the 1960s.

Now I understand my grandfather a little better.

However, I have a less drastic solution; I just turn it off!  Ahhh, silence!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Calm

We had my "stepdad's" funeral last Thursday.  I say stepdad in quotes because I was an adult when my mom married David, and they were both in their seventies.  My mom, along with myself and my sisters planned the funeral.  Mom wanted so much to honor him.  We had to find his discharge papers from the  Navy so he could have military honors.  The chaplain at the nursing home was very helpful in getting them to the cemetery and the funeral home.  Mom was so worried about the weather, because rain and wind were forecast for the day.  Everything went well, though.  All of David's children and grandchildren were there, along with the stepchildren and step grandchildren.  The sun came out just in time and the cemetery service was beautiful, with the military honors, the 21-gun salute and the playing of "Taps".  Mom was pleased and hoped that David was "watching".

So, now there is a period of calm before we go on with life, with helping Mom sort out the house and the insurance and the rest of her life.  She is coming here this week to be fitted for a hearing aid, with the help of the audiologist in my brother-in-law's medical office.

I have been enjoying the beauty of autumn.  Every time I drive, I notice trees in their fall colors.  I always want to stop and take pictures of them.  I can't just stop in traffic, though.  I pulled into a church yard to take these:

This golden one has already lost a lot of its leaves.  I think I caught it a little past its prime.  It was spectacular with all its leaves.  Every year I feel sad when the trees go bare and the color is gone.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Autumn Afternoon

I took these photos at my sister's house yesterday.  It was a gloomy day, yet the colors were so bright that I wanted to capture the beauty.  In a few weeks, these trees will be bare and colorless.  Autumn here is beautiful. but it doesn't last long enough.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Photos From A Life

I've been collecting photos of David and arranging them on a poster for the funeral on Thursday.  He and my mom had been married for sixteen years.  They married when he was 73 and she was 70.  My father died six years earlier and David had been single for twenty years.  They knew each other from church.

There are some photos from their wedding on the poster.  They were married in the back yard, with the family and friends from church in attendance.  After they were married, he made her breakfast every morning and brought her red roses for the table every week.  Whenever we had a family dinner he made a big fruit salad.

They enjoyed traveling together.  They went to Hawaii, Alaska, Israel and the Panama Canal.

Between the two of them, they had six children, six grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.  (The generations in our family do not expand exponentially, do they?)  He was a wonderful grandfather to them all, the type who got down on the floor to play with them.

David was an officer in the Navy and served on an aircraft carrier in World War Two.  We have arranged for an honor guard and a military grave marker.

Two of my sisters and I met Mom yesterday at the funeral home.  We were there for three hours.  We wrote the obituary, chose the casket and vault, and worked out all the other details that had to be decided for a funeral and burial.  Mom is doing okay; she gets a little overwhelmed by all the details but she has a lot of help from family and neighbors and people from her church, so she is going to be all right.  She was very lucky to be with him for sixteen years.  One of the last times when Mom visited him at the hospice, Dave couldn't speak but he smiled when she sang "Jesus Loves You" and "Amazing Grace".  Soon after that, he died peacefully in his sleep.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Crazy Days!

My 89-year old stepfather, David, died in hospice Friday night.  Thankfully, he died peacefully in his sleep.  It was not a surprise as we had been warned he was getting weaker and his vital signs were a little worse every day.  My sister drove Mom to see him three days last week.  She is a doctor so she was keeping track of how he was doing and helped Mom to understand.  I took care of her girls so she could go with Mom.  

Now my sisters and I are helping Mom plan a funeral... so many details.  She was overwhelmed and didn't know where to begin.  Yesterday I drove up to her house, about 90 minutes away.  Another sister was there, and we talked to the minister and the funeral director.  We made a list of things to take care of.  Today I am going back up and we are going to the funeral home.  We are taking clothing for David, photos for a slide show, and content for an obituary in the newspaper.

David's family has been estranged and we don't know how to approach them.  He has two sons and two grandsons.  We should ask them to be pallbearers.  They didn't want to be involved in planning the funeral, so we're not sure how  much they want to participate.  When their mother died they didn't have a service or anything.  It's kind of a dark cloud over everything.

Oh well, we are doing the best we can.  Mom loved David and wants to do the funeral right.  He was an officer in the Navy so she would like to have an honor guard, but we can't find his service records.  We think his son took them to get him admitted to a V.A. hospital.  I found a form online where we can request a copy.  I hope we can get it in time for the funeral.  One of us will probably have to work up the nerve to call the son and ask him.  When we have contacted him in the past, he was belligerent, accusing us of interfering.  Mom has the best of intentions; she just gets confused and feels helpless.  So now I am getting ready to go visit the funeral home, drive Mom there and plan David's funeral.

Friday, October 12, 2012


Yesterday we had a period of meditation after yoga class.  Lying on my yoga mat, I emptied my mind of all stress and worry, as encouraged by the leader.  Guess what popped into my mind?  The scene in the photo above.  Hawaii.  It's part of me now.  I think I will end up living there some day.  (I hope.)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Back to the Y

This morning I went back to the Y!  I've been neglecting it recently.  Initially, I stopped going because I was busy helping my 86-year old mom with various issues.  Then I just got lazy and was sitting too much.

Today I did a cardio class:

Then a yoga class:

I will probably not be able to get out of bed tomorrow morning, but it felt good to be active again.  This time I'm going to keep it up!  

When I allow myself to be inactive I start to give in to inertia, then ennui sets in, then I start to feel depressed because I know I am letting myself go.  It's a vicious circle.  Anyway, I've broken out of it now.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Choosing A Charity

I get mail from dozens of organizations, both charitable and political, asking for money.

This morning I laid some out on the kitchen table...

and some on the counter.  This isn't all of them; these are just the ones I've received recently.  Here are some examples:

The Salvation Army

City Gospel Mission


The Humane Society

Best Friends Animal Society




Planned Parenthood


I can't give to them all!  How to decide?  Well, in some cases I am already familiar with their work.  In addition, I try to read the information they send to get an idea of their purpose.  If I decide to consider them, I look them up on the internet.  I found a site called "Charity Reviews, Ratings and Guides" which is done by the National Better Business Bureau.  There is also a site called "Charity Navigator" where you can read about each charity.

Does anyone else have any ideas about this?  Do you throw them all out immediately?  Do your read them?  Do you have any favorites?  I wonder how other people handle this.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

More About Trees

In our old neighborhood our next door neighbors had their trees topped.  They looked like this:

This is what my husband had in mind for trimming our little plum tree.  He said the trees grew back and looked fine after a year or too.  I have looked into the matter, and have found that although this used to be a popular way to treat trees, many arborists now say "Don't!".  They have found that "topping" a tree is unhealthy for the tree and that often it's the beginning of the end for the tree.

They say people tend to do it "because the neighbors did it" which is exactly my husband's reasoning.  I have also read that some people do this to their trees because they feel a need to "control nature".  I think my husband has a bit of that too, because he tends to think that naturally shaped trees and shrubs "look messy".

Still, I admit that sometimes some trimming or pruning is appropriate, if there are dead branches or if the tree is leaning on a house or contacting power lines.  But it is important that this be done by a trained and certified arborist, not any guy who comes along with a truck and a chain saw.  So, I will try to talk my husband into canceling the guy who came yesterday and contact a reputable arborist.   That seems like a reasonable compromise to me.

By the way, while doing my tree research I found a new phobia of which I had not been aware:  dendrophobia, or fear of trees.

I have found some pretty weird images that illustrate this fear:

Pretty weird, aren't they?  I guess sometimes people cut them down because they are afraid of them?  That seems like a crime to me.  I regard a tree as a living thing and it breaks my heart to see them cut down.  I see trees more like this:

I would never want to live in a place without trees.  When I look at houses, the trees are as important to me as the floor plan or anything else.  I cringe when I see mcmansions being built on lots without a tree to be found.  I would rather live in a tiny cottage with trees all around.  I guess I could be classified as a "tree hugger".