email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Living With Dad, 13

The good news...  Dad thought to ask about his tax forms.

The bad news, he thinks he has to add Maryland forms this year because he moved in with me this year,  and he is looking around his duffel bags for 2012 forms.  Why does he have to ask my these difficult questions while I am trying to prepare dinner?

More good news...  He took out the walker and looked it over carefuly.

The bad news...  He wonders how much he could get selling it.

Good news, he thinks he might need to try using the walker.  Never mind that he thought of selling it.

You know, its a good thing I have a base in sci-fi.  Where strange things happen.  I feel oddly well-equipped for surprises.

Aside from all that, Dad sleeps in the chair in front of the TV a lot more than he realizes.  More than when he first arrived here too.  He probably sleeps in bed more than he thinks he does.  He says he doesn't sleep at night (and I have no way of telling), but he doesn't know that he sleeps during the day.  So maybe he sleeps a lot at night and never knows.

He says he gets up many times at night.  But, quite frankly, I would know.  The hall floorboards squeak.  I've lived alone so long that any little sound in the house registers on me.  I know when the cats walk into the room.  Sometimes he is so soundly asleep and quiet for hours that I go to his door and listen for him breathing.

Maybe one night, he won't be...

This is all entirely weird to me.  I still can't quite get used to the idea of someone else living in the house all the time.  Just having someone else in the house is strange enough, but being responsible for that person is "strange squared".

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Living With Dad, 12

Dad keeps complaining that he can't sleep at night.  I find that hard to believe.  He probably doesn't realize how much he sleeps.  He falls asleep in the chair in front of the TV a dozen times a day (that I notice) for about 20 minutes at a time.  So he probably sleeps more in bed than he realizes.

His awareness of sleeping is iffy.  He often denies it when I've been right there seeing him wake up.  It's hard to miss.  The downward angle of the head, the non-responsiveness to my walking around him, etc. 

He responds to what I assume are dreams as if reality.  He will suddenly wake up and go "answer" the door, or the telephone.  Or he will suddenly ask what I asked for help with (when I was just sitting quietly. 

He may be reverting to his childcare years, too.  He will suddenly ask toward the end of a meal if I have had enough to eat.  At the end of a recent dinner, he asked if I needed butter.  At least he hasn't asked me if I need to go to the bathroom...

He is having trouble not falling down when he walks (fell twice this week).  He has a walker and a roller, but I can't get him to use those yet.  He doesn't hurt himself (well, maybe it is more of a collapse to the floor than a real fall), but I'm going to have to insist soon.  My plan is to get him to use them for brief outside walks first, then back and forth exercise hallway walks in the house, then finally for everytime use.  I understand that the walker represents another loss of ability that he resents, so I don't want to just say "every time, NOW"!  It wouldn't work.

At least he maintains a healthy appetite.  And nutritionally, he is probably better off than anytime before in his life.  I don't say that lightly.  HIS Mom was a very good cook and  MY Mom was a good cook, but neither of them had any idea of "balanced meals" (his idea of properly-cooked vegetables are "boiled to death".  Gramma might have made GREAT chicken and dumplings, but that doesn't make a balanced meal.  Mom provided vegetables with each meal, but that's where his idea of "boiled to death" vegetables came from.  Heck, I never knew veggies could be cooked less than "mushable" until I went off to college and started to learn to cook for myself and discovered "steaming".

So, for the last 2 months, Dad has been getting a lunch sandwich that has lots on lettuce and some onion along with the meat (and he LIKES them).  For dinner, there is some fresh meat (usually baked or braised), a tossed salad, a potato (he insists), a green veggie and a yellow/orange veggie.  He always says it is "too much" but he eats it all.  I am going to try reds, like beets, next.  One change at a time...

He was basically just eating hotdogs, frozen fish, bread, and ice cream before I got him up here with me.   Easy to prepare in the M/V.

Still, I know I'm just sticking a finger in the dike.  Things will get worse.  He will REALLY start falling, will lose appetite, REALLY not sleep (or sleep much of the day), have routine audio and visual hallucinations.  His conversation already makes little sense SOMETIMES, one day it will make no sense MOST of the time...

A part of me wants to observe this carefully so that I have a better understanding of what is to come for me.  But I'm not sure how useful such knowledge would be.  When that time comes, I won't remember these days.

Que sera, sera...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Living With Dad, 11

Mail time is ambiguous here.  Mail addressed to Dad keeps him occupied for an hour.  But afterwards, it keeps ME occupied for a couple hours explaining it to him.  Most of his mail is irrelevant (monthly investment statements, some is true junk, but some is important.  I won't filter his mail [well, I trash some donation requests that hit him up for more money every month just because he gave them money the previous month; he thinks the requests from the fire and police departments are "bills" and they are taking advantage of his confusion].

But it's the legitimate documents that cause the hardest problems.  Monthly bank statements, investment statements, actual bills for services to the previous FL house...  It can take an hour per bank statement, a half hour to pay a single bill, and something like a property tax bill is good for a day (because he wants to ask really odd questions that have obvious answers to ME but he doesn't understand).

Dad has resigned himself to accepting my "novel idea" of filing folders by subject ("water". "electric", "property tax", etc), bank names, investment company names, property locations, mainly because I simply went and DID IT one weekend.  He still doesn't understand it, but then, he can't recall the names of his electric or water company, so generic is the only choice...

So I've taken over the organization of his records.  I had little choice.  He had them all by month (sort of) and couldn't find anything.  When he first had his duffel bag, briefcase, and two fat folders of documents, I asked him to find his birth certificate,  It took him 2 hours.  Now there is a file for that.  And of course, files for about everything else.

Today was the 4th or 5th time I've shown him the file folders I made "for the first time" to his mind.  I'm getting used to the idea that some things are new to him every time I mention them.  Well, maybe I should say "getting resigned to the idea".  I'm still always surprised by what he forgets from even one day to the next. 

I do want readers to understand that I do not take this lightly.  Sometimes with a bit of tolerant humor (beats crying out loud), but never "lightly".  I understand that Dad's present is my future...  It doesn't look like a lot of fun.  Mine may be worse.  Dad has me (and 2 other children and some grandchildren.  I don't.  When I, and my brother and sister, are Dad's age, they will have adult children but I will only have nieces and a nephew.  Adults don't take care of Uncles like they do Parents.  I better hope for some major medical or technological advances (like mind transplants to robots).  Or I am going to have to just go to sleep on the deck some Winter night and not wake up.

Today's odd moments:  Dad received junk mail from some investment firm, and assumed that meant he had an account with them.  He couldn't figure out how to fill out the enrollment form (since he assumed he was already enrolled).  I had to go through all the files, one by one, to show him there wasn't a file for that company.  Then HE had to go through all the unsorted junk in his briefcase searching for a reference to that company.

THEN he decided maybe he should take cash out of savings and invest with them.  So I had to spend a half hour reminding him that he just cashed in some decent CDs in order to have "cash on hand" for medical emergencies, so he shouldn't make new investments.   Its tiring, and I can't get anything useful done around the house while he is fussing about this kind of stuff.

I should filter his mail, but I can't get myself to do that yet.  He has a right to open and read it; it is my responsibility to guide him in deciding what to do.  But I will probably have to do that soon.  His memory for even simple daily things is going. 

Multiple odd events:  Tonight, he couldn't remember how to make a martini, his several nightly drinks for decades.  I knew, though I never liked a martini in my life.  His is equal shot gin and dry vermouth in a small juice glass, over ice.  Doesn't seem like the James Bond martini, but whatever he likes is his business. I took a spoonful of one a week ago; it was HORRIBLE!   I like my self-named Cavebear Slings (shot gin, shot Pomegranate Liquor, 2 shots real pomegranate juice over ice, fill with ginger ale).  If you like fruit-oriented drinks, try it. 

But he couldn't remember how to make the drink he has liked for 60 years!

Another odd event was that I put his tossed salad on the table (I always make a tossed salad).  He asked if I had put gravy on the salad (yeah, he confuses words like gravy and dressing, and sometimes he says "sauce").  Anyone would look at it and know I hadn't, but he can't think of doing that these days.  That's a bad sign.  On the other hand, at least when he uses the wrong word for something, it is a related word.  It would be worse if he had asked if I added "marbles" to the salad.

And I'm not relating these confusions on his part to make fun.  It's serious.  I'm writing about this so that I have a record of them.  I need to understand where his memory is failing and where it is still functioning.  Partly, I want a dated record of such confusions, but mostly so that I can understand where I can trust his memory and where I can't. 

That matters because I don't have the best memory in the world.  I never have.  Do you recall math  and science classes in high school where you mostly memorized formulas and diagrams to use them on tests and then mostly forgot them afterwards?  I could never remember the formulas.  I had to mostly figure them out each time from scratch and a few recollections. I got "Bs" in spite of that.  I'm also not very good at remembering names or what I said in the previous email.  I remember faces very well.  I can pass someone and know that I "know" them.  No name comes to mind though...

I bet my memory is worse than Dad's before I am his age.  I see it coming...

So I am probably going to lose my memory sooner than Dad.  That's scary, but probably inevitable.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Cat Blog Reaches 2,000 posts!

When I started the cat blog in August 2006, the few cat blogs I knew of were "old".  As in, they had been blogging for a couple of years while I read in admiration.  Well, after I retired in 2006, I saw a button on one cat blog that said "Click here to start a blog for free". 

I clicked...

I didn't know how to write from my cats' point of view.  At first, the fence was a wall, the glass deck door was a wall, the inside doors were walls, and the walls were walls.  They weren't sure what to call the house, etc.  I ended up "The Big Thing" only because I figured the cats weren't really sure what I was, but that I was BIG by comparison to them.

They slowly learned about the house and yard, but they never changed my name.  That's OK, I always HAVE been "The Big Thing" to all the cats.  It fits OK.  I never quite felt like "Dad" to them.  Its fine for other cats to have Mom or Dad, but I never thought that MINE thought I was their Dad. 

I expect I am a bit of a mystery to them. A large rather clumsy stompy creature who has no furs worth mentioning, but who has nearly magical powers over food and litterboxes and doors to the outside.

I would love to know what they REALLY think (because they surely DO think).  I don't mean they think like you and I do.  There are things they will never quite be aware of, like their own mortality. 

I am sometimes far too aware of theirs.  Skeeter and LC started the blog, and it really didn't occur to me that they would die.  Or at least, soon.  I knew they were mortal, of course, but they were so healthy when I started the blog, it seemed they would be around a long time.

Skeeter died just over 2 years into blogging.  It was a shock thinking back just the 2 years, but not when it happened.  I knew he was dying for months.  The vet told me he would be fine until he started to fall over.  When he did, it was the saddest day of my life.

LC followed him in only 13 months.  She was fine one night, and dead the next morning.  The vet said it was a massive infection.  I saw no signs of it. 

LC was Skeeter's cat.  Skeeter was mine.  I have never had a "bad" cat, but Skeeter was special.  He is my heart cat and always will be.  I miss LC.  She was the quiet kind of cat.  Have you ever seen "The Man Who Planted Trees"?  There was a dog there.  Never fawning, friendly, always quiet in dignity.  That was LC.  She was never a lap cat, but in her last couple of days, she came up on my lap and napped there.  Maybe she knew, maybe she didn't, but those were precious memories afterwards.

I have never been one to stay without cats.  I don't mean, of course, that I want any to leave, but I have space in my live for several and there are so many needing space.  I got Ayla shortly after Skeeter died...

All cats are good, but I had always wanted a female siamese and they are not available on most streetcorners.  I looked up breeders and made a ridiculous offer.  A ridiculous situation occurred.  A breeder had a female too small to breed.  I got Ayla for $100 because she wasn't good for breeding.  But she was perfect for me.

The cost is meaningless.  You spend more just in initial exams and shots.  I don't actually pay any attention to initial cost anymore.  Ayla was a joy.  Except she kept going into heat after bein spayed (by the breeders vet). Once, then twice... For 2 years.  Finally, she got an infection and MY vet found she had ladygarden parts still in there.  Since then, she has been a wonderful kitty.

Iza came after Ayla and right after LC.  Ayla couldn't be alone.  Iza was sold as a registered siamese, but she is really a Tonkinese with siamese colors.  Its obvious now that I've learned about Tonks.  Iza is the stereotypical Tonk.  Heavy-bodied, short-tailed, broad-chested, smudgy siamese colors, but also amazingly loyal, affectionate, and hard-playful.  You should SEE her dedication to attacking toy mice!

But Ayla and Iza slowly got annoyed with each other.  Not fights, but little hissy-fits, and the house was not RIGHT!  I needed a cure.

It seems silly to say that because Skeeter was a calmer-down cat and he was an orange/white male cat, that another one would be the same.  But I looked for one anyway.  Everyone I found at cat shelters came in pairs (ONLY after I liked one of them).  After that happened the third time, I ignored the shelters.  I felt sorry for the cats, but what I DIDN'T want was 2 attached to each other.  I needed one cat.

I found the one orange/white male cat with help from blog friends.   He was promised to a family, but I convinced the owner I was the best place.  When I went to pick him up, he was staring at me from the stairs.  I sat down on the floor and folded my legs up, he came right down and settled on my lap. 

I chose him somewhat, but HE really chose ME!  The Lady was surprised, but I wasn't.  I knew the moment I saw him, that he belonged with me.  He was so perfect that I didn't even change his name!  And coming from years of thinking hard about the right names for cats, that means something.  He was indeed "Marley".  He had the right name the moment I met him.

Ayla and Iza were named for characters in 'Clan of the Cave Bear" books, and I expected to name a male cat "Creb".  But Marley was "Marley".  Maybe there will be a Creb or Jondalar in the future, but not now.  Marley is Marley, its in his genes.

And Marley has accepted the role I hoped for.  He immediately came between Ayla and Iza in a calm laid-back way and the hissy-fits stopped immediately. 

Its hard sometimes not to call him Skeeter.  I forget.  But when I do, I make sure to hold him and say Marley, Marley, Marley.  I mostly remember, of course, but no one is perfect.  Interestingly, that has only happened since Dad moved in.  The last time Dad was here, Skeeter was here.  And Dad makes me think of previous times.  So at night, when Marley crawls onto the bed to nap in the early morning hours (where he sleeps in the other hours is a mystery - when I've gone looking, he just shows up awake and walking) I just keep saying "Marley, Marley, Marley" and he purrs lovingly in my arms or feet.

There will come a day when Marley goes over the Bridge.  Probably 13, 14 years from now, but there WILL come that day.  I wonder what Skeeter and Marley will say about me between themselves?  Taht I couldn't tell them apart?  Or that I thought they were BOTH the best cats ever and they were so alike that I loved them both the same at the end?

I don't know now.  Ayla, Iza, and Marley are ALL wonderful cats in their own special ways.  Ayla is sweet like a sugarplum.  Marley is kindest most tolerant cat I've ever known.  Iza is so ME-oriented it is amazing.

I loved Ralph, Sport, Ballou, Mischief, and Tinkerbelle before these.  Am I just forgetting how much I loved them in favor of the current ones as the years have gone by?  If I could have Ballou back again for a week, would I think, wow, "she's the best"?

I'll never know.  I just wish I could have ALL of them back again.  No contest, no favorites. All those old grey tabbies against all the newer fancier cats.  But I DO know I would like them all back on my lap again in turns so that I could tell each one again how much I loved them.  And how much they enriched my life...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Living With Dad, 10

I wonder how long it takes before I realize that asking Dad to make simple decisions is just wrong?  I really try to allow him to make as many decisions as he wants to.  He has preferences.  I eat my dinner in several bowls, Dad likes his food all in one large plate.  I like to eat dinner watching TV,  he likes to eat at a "proper table".  So I always try to ask him what he whats.

It never occurred to me that he doesn't WANT to (or really can't) make decisions.  I thought I was being considerate; I was making things hard for him.

He doesn't want to make decisions, and I have had a hard time grasping that.  I thought "deciding" small things for himself would be the last thing he would give up.  I was wrong...

Today, I was making the lunch sandwiches and Dad asked if he could help.  Of course I said "yes"!  Anything to make him feel useful (and, yes, I recognize a patronization about that).  But, for almost 2 months, we have had sandwiches for lunch on medium size plates.  One half a sandwich, with some pickle, carrot sticks, pickle, etc.  So Dad decided to get out the plates.  Coffee saucers...  Then said "How will we fit the potato chips on this"?  I said they wouldn't fit, so he brought out bowls.  I mentioned that he likes plates for his sandwich.

I should have shut up.  He got upset and said "I don't know what to use, I'll use whatever you tell me to use"!!!

He was right.  He is depending on me now to make even simple decisions for him.  And I didn't quite realize to what degree he was expecting/needing that.

He's my Dad.  I want him to make decisions for himself even if they are very minor decisions.  I guess I had in mind that it was GOOD for him to make some decisions.  Thinking back over the past few weeks, I realize he doesn't WANT me to ask him whether he wants green beans or broccoli with his dinner.  Even that decision is too challenging.

It's ironic.  I've lived my life making my own decisions, and deliberately NOT trying to influence other peoples' decisions (except in a few ways like politics I'll avoid here).  And now I'm being asked to do just that.

I mean all this just as an example.  I could have used towels in the bathroom, or which shoes to wear.

I guess I have to learn to JUST DO IT around Dad and trust to my judgement...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

I Wonder...

I am not disrespecting my Dad or his aged condition.  But I have little experience with how memory fades as we age.  So I wonder what Dad is thinking most days.  Are his internal thoughts clear and his spoken statements unclear, or is he expressing the confusion in his mind accurately?

It matters.  If his internal thoughts are clear, then he knows what I say, what has happened in the recent past, and that he can't express those.  That would be horrible.  There are SOME signs of that, like when he is searching for a word and he KNOWS he isn't getting the right one or recognizes the names of investment companies when he receives mail.

But most of the time, it seems that he truly does not remember the recent past.  His 2 week stay at a rehab hospital in May is nearly a blank one.  He forgets events just passed.  He often cannot remember if he recently ate a meal.

Last night, we watched fireworks on TV.  Then a repeat of fireworks from 2005, and then 2009.  A mere half hour later, he decided to go to bed and asked me if I was going to stay to see if they showed fireworks eventually...

Some of the time, he makes sense in what he says.  He can discuss a few political events, some basic science remains, and he can mention basic gardening lore from 30 years ago (though no longer accurate).  But at least then he IS offerring the assumed correct practices from a time in his past.

He knows what he likes to eat.  When he moved here, I experimented with many basic meats and veggies.  He likes almost anything, and when he says that, I have the evidence in that he enjoyed the meal.  Yet...

Tonight, I cooked sausages.  Dad likes chicken, sausages and potatoes mostly.  Of course, I add a tossed salad, and a green and yellow/orange veggie.  He eats them dutifully.  I've cooked sausages about twice a week for the past 6 weeks.  Smothered in onions, or with tomato sauce, or with mustard, or with bell peppers.  He likes the bell peppers the best.

So imagine my surprise when he looked at a sausage yesterday and asked what it was.  I thought he meant the add-ons.  No, he didn't know what a SAUSAGE was.  Sorry, that confused me for a bit.  I actually had to explain what  sausage was!!!  He was like, "huh, that's weird".  He enjoyed it, but his lack of recall of the basic idea of "sausage" really threw me.

I should have been prepared for that.  The meal before, he looked at a baked chicken thigh and asked if that was "meat".  And he asked if the corn-on-the-cob, that we basically have every other day or so was "cooked".  Tonight, he asked if the chili was "hot".  Fortunately, I can usually guess correctly about unfinished sentences or ambiguous words.  Asking if he meant "spicy", he replied "yes, hot".  I assured him I don't make my chili really spicy.  But I have to guess a lot.

I don't know how he feels when I comlpete paused sentences or suggest words, but I THINK he is relieved when I guess right.

I'm struggling to understand his thinking process these days.  I mean that I understand he isn't thinking straight, but I'm not understanding when and where he "loses it".  He catches me by surprise so often.   One minute he makes general sense, the next minute makes NO sense.  Or he is good for a whole day an the next day he forgets where he is, who I am, and why he is HERE.

I'm told the daily confusion around sunset is called "Sundowner Syndrome", and Dad sure suffers from it.  After dinner, he says the oddest things.  I'm only now routinely thinking of the time of day when he gets weird.

On good days, he can recall his investment companies.  On bad days, he is completely baffled by a simple statement from one of his banks.  And the good days include when he isn't vaguely paranoid about "banks closing down to steal his money".

And then there are the Gold Commercials...  They use scare tactics, and Dad is starting to respond to that.  I tried to tell him that if the Gold Companies are suddenly selling gold, it means they (the professionals) figure the value of gold will go down.  But Dad thinks they are doing him a favor by offerring to sell gold!  I researched it and printed out a 30 year chart of the value of gold.  It goes up and down.  It took me 2 hours to convince Dad not to shift a lot of money to gold.

He wants to help prepare dinner, and I appreciate his desire to help; he's BORED.  But he stops in place so often that I can't work around him very well.  Small humor here:  Dad gets annoyed when Iza stands on the floor in his way and he shouts "Move you damn cat" (which he says more friendly than it sounds).  But I can't say the same to him when he freezes in a doorway and I have to walk the long way around the rooms to get to what I need to do.  AND that's when he doesn't call the cats "dogs".

Well at least he uses names of mammals.  When he starts referring to the cats as "spinach" I'll worry more.  Poor Iza, she is used to standing in front of me to get my attention.  I know to walk around her when I'm really busy, but Dad can't.  Changing direction is difficult for him.  He can't lean on one leg and lift the other in order to turn very well.
Dad's documents are the worst for him and me (and easiest for me if he didn't see them).  I've probably mentioned that before, so I won't go into details again.

And I haven't even started on his 2011 taxes yet.  Fortunately, he has an extension to October.  I thank his 2011 tax preparers for the extension.  When they saw that Dad stopped responding to their requests for documents, they understood what was happening and filed an extension request for him. 

I see a time coming when I can't help him any more, and it may be sooner than I wish.  Dad is getting worse weekly.  When it is daily, I'll have to consider the unmentionable (Assisted Living Facility).  Which I can mention here, but not to Dad.

ONE SAFELY HUMOROUS EVENT:  Today Dad got his first piece of direct junk mail at this new address (for him).  OK, Dad considered the offer seriously (and I explained why it wasn't a good offer), but I am still trying to figure out HOW Direct TV got his address here!  We haven't listed his address in any government or public documents.  We have done change of address forms for his banks and investment companies and public utilities.  Do such companies automatically sell "change of address" requests to advertisers?  Do they buy such information from the Post Office?  If so, things have gotten worse than I realized.  In spite of that, it was still rather funny to see the new address on junk mail...

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day

I normally just observe it quietly, but I've been thinking about it more the past few years.   Maybe its because I got my degree in Government and Politics and minored in History (mostly English history).

I could just put up a big US Flag .jpeg, but I want to say more than that this year.

The US exists because of England.  We were a colony/colonies at first, but there were other colonies in North America from other European nations.  It was the English system of laws that got the colonies established as they were, when other nations failed at that. 

England (and eventually Great Britain) should be proud of its colonial offspring.  Yes, some things went imperfectly, and there were dark moments in history.  But England gave its colonies some special gifts.  Like political organization, merchant classes, a basic concept of "rule of law", an economic middle class, and business.

Few European nations managed that (yes, the Dutch etc).  But England had the combination of legal systems, economic systems, and social mobility that increased in what became the US.  I'm not forgetting our Canadian friends, but my point is about the US today.

We owe England a lot.  Yes there was the revolution, and the War of 1812 isn't a bright spot for anyone either.  Even in our terribly uncivil Civil War there were doubts about our relations.  But its been good, nay, "better than good" since then.  It would be hard to think of any 2 nations better friends over a century+ (and Australia and Canada). 

A few centuries from now, history will tell of the time of Great Britain, the US, Canada, and Australia as perhaps the greatest peacetime and wartime allies advancing democracy around the world.  It might be called Pax Americana, but it all came from England originally.

So I just want to say Thank You Britain on THIS day because I know where it all started...  Britain, your children owe you.

But, of course, I HAVE to show the flag, LOL...

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Storms, 2

Oh well, I meant to add pictures to the post yesterday.  But I got up late and the pre-saved post was alreaddy there.  Then I needed to make lunch for Dad and me, feed the cats, get the mail, etc...

So here are the pictures...

I had almost no damage.  This fallen branch was annoying because I had to cut it to pieces to move it off my hosta bed.
But it sure wasn't serious.  I'm just glad that huge tree on the west of the house stayed tall again.  I probably will for another 50 years.  But it may fall next time.  You never know...
The branch was only twice the width of my shoe.
Ans it only fell 20'.  Here's where it broke off.  Its a weird black maple tree.  It grows from my neighbor's yard, but almost entirely over my yard.  The previous neighbors refused to pay to have it cut down (or even trimmed).  The new neighbors are well, "new" and I don't know them yet.
But THAT tree isn't threatening anything, so I will just let it be for now.

This picture is sort of a joke. I deliberately put the thermometer in the full afternoon sun.  I suppose the temperature is accurate for full afternoon sun.  On the other hand, I WAS out there in the full sun, and so were the plants.  I was watering the plants after cutting the fallen tree branch to manageable pieces.  I drank a quart of Gatorade while outside.  And plain water when I went inside!
My favorite HOT joke:  "It was SO hot, I saw a starving coyote chasing a terrified rabbit, and they were both walking"...

But seriously, we don't have month-long droughts here in JUNE.  July and August are the dry months here.  The unshaded lawn grass is already dormant and crunchy.  What are July and August going to be like?  I do not routinely water the lawn.  The grasses here go dormant in late Summer and the Fall rains bring them back to green until the next July.  But I may have to water the lawn this year.  Even the weeds in the lawn are dying, and I don't think the turf grass is as hardy as the weeds.

I've never seen it like this in early July.

Monday, July 2, 2012


Well, we have had some surprising stormy conditions here lately!  The first was Friday night.  For one thing, I didn't know it was coming.  We don't watch much live TV here (well, Fox and Golf channels, but they aren't big on local weather).  It was eerie.  Around 11 pm, Dad commented on how dead still it was outside.  And just then, "the train came through the station".

The wind suddenly whipped up to near hurricane level, the rain started, and the lights began flickering.  I'm not too worried about the lights because we have underground cables here; a power outage is rare and usually lasts only a few seconds to a few minutes.  Its been years since it was a whole hour.  I LOVE our underground cables!

But the rain started driving against the front windows higher up and harder than I can recall seeing even in the few hurricanes we get in MD.  Naturally, I had just noticed this past week that my back rain gutter was coming loose at one end.  These things never happen at the beginning of a drought, of course.  I'll have to arrange for a repair soon, but I'm sure gutter repair companies will be busy for the next month with damages from fallen tree branches.

The rain only lasted a short while, but we got 1/2" of rainfall.  I'm glad of that!  I would have liked more.  I've been watering selected parts of the gardens, but nothing beats rain falling everywhere.  Some long-established shrubs were wilting and the 1/2" of rain perked them right up.

There wasn't too much tree damage in the neighborhood.  After lesser winds, I've awakened to the sounds of chainsaws.  But I went out and found a dozen broken branches in the yard.  I collected them to bring then up front to pile in the utility trailer, when I realized I had walked RIGHT PAST a major tree branch fallen on the hosta bed, LOL!  I haven't moved it yet, its way too big for me to lift.  I'll have to haul out the chainsaw.

I have to laugh, of the entire neighborhood, I may be the only person having to use a chainsaw this weekend! 

It could always be worse.  One nice thing about my property is the huge mature oaks and sweetgums.  One bad thing is the huge mature oaks and sweetgums!  There is one old oak directly west of the house (from where the strongest winds come).  Every severe wind, I wait to hear it crack and fall onto the house.  I regret that I will have to have it cut down some day before it crashes onto the house.  I wonder if my insurance company will partially pay for preemptive tree-cutting?