email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Camera Troubles

A little over a week ago, Iza managed to knock my camera off a shelf and down the stairs  (SEE HERE).  It just wasn't working right when it worked at all.  I did some research and decided on a replacement.  The order confirmation came back with a delivery date of Feb 25-March 12, so I was delighted that it arrived yesterday.

Today, I opened the box to charge the battery, read the feature instructions, load the software, etc.  Oddly, I couldn't get the battery to fit in the charger.  Nor would it fit in the camera.  Its a special Li/Ion battery with a rectangular shape.  Checking the manual, I noticed that the required battery had a different model number than the battery in the box.

I called the retailer.  First, they said Canon only used one model  battery (NB-90).  Since I was holding an NB-5L and the manual listed an NB-4L, I knew THAT was wrong!  I finally convinced them that there was more than one battery type, and they checked.  Then they said they would be happy to send me the correct battery at no charge (gee, how kind of them).  And said "thank you for calling".

WHOA!  They didn't have my name, address, or order number, so I yelled "don't hang up"!  They (reluctantly it seemed) let me give them the order number and promised to ship the correct battery tomorrow and send an email confirmation.

Why do I have the feeling they won't...  I mean, they tried to get me off the phone without any idea where to send a new battery!  I fear I will have to return the whole package and demand a refund.  And then order a new camera.  And apparently there really aren't any more of this model available because there is a new version out (with all kinds of features I actively do not want (like a touch screen).

I already had crossed off the other cameras on the Consumer Reports list for various reasons, so I don't know what I would choose.

I sure hope they send me that replacement battery!


Separate news...  A brother/sister littermate pair of cats lost their Bein suddenly and need a home.  They are in NJ right now awaiting their fate...  We are sure SOME of our readers have room for 2 sweet cats or may want to nicely domesticated ones as their first cats.  Please leave us a comment if you can help.

Sunday, February 24, 2013


Dad has become for needy of my physical presence lately.  It's not a new thing, but it has increased the past month.

He has previously been "lonely" if I do not sit with him in front of the TV, and sometimes he has suddenly walked around the house searching for me if he doesn't know where I am.  Its annoying.  Like the way a Mother can hardly go to the bathroom without toddlers banging on the door...

At least, with toddlers, you can expect them to grow out of it.  With an elder, you know it is only going to get worse.  It used to be that, if I got involved with yardwork or cleaning the basement, it would be a couple hours before Dad got worried about where I was.  I could always tell when I started hearing banging on the floor above going back and forth along the hall rapidly (for him).  So I would stop whatever I was doing and go upstairs to let him know I was around, remind him that I had told him I was working in the basement, and see if I could find him something interesting to watch on TV.

Then, I could return to what I was doing for a while with Dad at least remembering where I was in the house for another hour or two.

That time has shrunk to about 30 minutes.  I can't get away from him for very long.  Its not like I'm "hiding in the basement".  The gardening season is starting, and I am way behind in getting the place organized for the new season.  In previous years, I have kept the basement relatively organized; this past year, I have just not had the time.  It needed hours of cleanup and organization.  I have taken all the shortcuts I could since Dad arrived, and it caught up to me!

I've tried to do things an hour at a time, then spend enough time around Dad so that he knew I was there and go back to what I was doing in the basement.  I'm worn out...

The other problem that is getting worse is Dad expecting me to go do bed every night when he does.  He used to sometimes go to bed after me (and could turn off the lights and TV) .

And, BTW, I just did my 15 minutes of talking to Dad and "watching" his Fox News show, to comfort him with my presence.  I don't say that mockingly.  He needs a reminder of my presence to feel like he has not been abandoned.  Sometimes when I go out grocery-shopping, he is desperate for attention by the time I get back (about 1.5 hours from driving and shopping time).

I spent the last 30 years living by myself (with the various combinations of cats).  I LIKE living alone (with cats).  I used to just get up at 5 am, feed the cats, shower, dress, drive to meet my carpool, spend 9.5 hours at work, carpool back, drive home (after doing some brief grocery-shopping) by 6 pm.  I had 3, maybe 4 hours before I had to go to bed, and I spent a lot of the weekends sleeping.  I had to pack everything I wanted to do otherwise into those few weeknight and precious weekend hours.  Many of you do too.

I'm not used to accounting for my free time, in spite of so much more than I have now that I am retired.  But I was so happy with retired life and here is Dad dropped in...  I hate it.  I'm a responsible child, I always was (elder child syndrome).  I'm doing this because I "have" to.  I'm doing this because I should, I'm doing this because its "right", I'm doing this because because I was the right person to do it when the time came.  That doesn't mean I like it...

Well, yeah, few people like caring for an elder parent.  Its awkward, it changes the routine of life, it's difficult.  But am I right that MOST people who care for an elder parent are doing it with help from family?  A spouse, local children who visit, some old friends of the elder, your own friends who visit you and relate to the elder parent sometimes?

I don't.

I wish he really needed an "assisted-living facility".  He doesn't yet (by my unprofessional guess).  But I need him to need it. 

I live a rational, knowledgeable life.  I don't understand really what it means not to know how to do simple things like open curtains, flush a toilet, separate metal from compostable stuff in different containers,  read a simple 1099 tax document or a monthly bank statement, etc.  Answering the same questions about those things every single day is driving me nuts.  Sometimes, it is the same question 3 times in 15 minutes...

Nothing in my entire life has prepared me for this.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Iza Strikes Again!

Iza is very adept at catching tossed toys.  It is nearly impossible to hand-fake her.  At the same time, she is amazingly clumsy.  If she jumps up onto the table, she lands with the grace of a bag of sand.

So it should have been no surprise to me when she went to go from the tabletop to the half wall along the staircase.  And managed to almost go over the edge.  She didn't, but she managed to send my camera over the edge instead.  Eight feet down onto the hard wood...

When I checked it, the lens made a "geary" sound as it came out or back in.  I took a couple pictures and it seemed to work.  Then I realized that the case was slightly separated.  Pressing it firmly seemed to put it back together.  So I used it as usual (trying not to wince every time the lens made noise).

Then the lens refused to come out and there was a message about restarting the camera.  A few times of that not working I figured the camera was dead.  But there were pictures in the camera and it DID allow me to download them.  Whew!

Looking at them in iPhoto, the most recent ones (aka "after the fall") all looked a bit weird.  They were all a bit blurry.  OK, some didn't surprise me, since they were action shots of the cats (and it never has been very good at those).  But most were normal still shots.  I assume the image stabilization has been damaged.

THEN I realized that ALL the recent pictures were rotated 90 degrees!  The iPhoto software will rotate pictures, but only counter-clockwise, and NATURALLY, the camera had rotated them in that direction.  So I had to manually rotate about 50 pictures 3 times each.  And they were all a bit blurred anyway.

OK, I have to get a new camera...  I looked up subcompacts in Consumer Reports.  Quite frankly, even subcompacts are getting too fancy!  All I want is a fairly simple point and click, but one that does the point and click very well, has a better than average image stabilizer, takes good flash pictures, and has a rapid "next-shot" time (a real weakness with the current one).

I specifically didn't want top-quality video capability, a touch screen, and 20 different exposure settings, etc.  I decided on a Canon  Powershot Elph 310 HS and went to to read more about it.  It uses an Li-Ion battery, and no matter how much I searched around, I could not find anyplace that said it was rechargable!  The replacement batteries cost $10 and I sure wasn't going to keep putting a new one in every 200 shots! 

I gave up for the night and looked again today.  I finally found that there is a battery charger included with the camera, so I went back to amazon to order it.  Would you believe the price went up $40 overnight?  Apparently, there is a newer version coming out next week (with things I do not want) and the few places that had any of the 310 version left all jacked up the price.

I looked at the other models on the Consumer Reports list, but one had a poor optical zoom, another had a touch screen, another had good video but average flash stills, etc.

I grumbled a while and ordered the 310...

Friday, February 15, 2013

Dad, Crazy

Last night, I was watching TV with Dad, only to be companionable.  He suddenly looked over at me and went "What the hell is that ANIMAL on your lap.  It was one of the cats of course.  I said it was Iza.  He said but what is an animal doing in the house? 


He thought it was a wild animal.  Never mind that Ayla, Iza, and Marley have been in the house all the 9 months Dad has been here.  Tonight, he didn't recall them.  Worse, he lost the concept of domesticated animal.

It is terrible watching a person lose their mind...

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Playing Risk

Risk is a brutal board game.  4 or 5 players all determined to obliterate you country by country, continent by continent.

I often join games in progress in weak positions because, quite frankly, improving a position is more fun to me than winning outright, and on rare occasions I do win. 

Tonight I won a terrible brutal nerve-racking game right on the last battle, and I recalled a Gahan Wilson cartoon from many years ago.  I love the clean unlethal internet/boardgames, but I always keep in mind that there is a reality of what the game is about.

I always think of this...


Gahan Wilson was a genious...

Monday, February 11, 2013

Its Going To Be A Long Unhappy Night

Iza and Ayla have to get their annual vet visits this time of year.  They were both scheduled for them last Friday but things went wrong.  I put out the PTUs  (Prisoner Transport Units) or "Cat-Carriers" for those of you who don't read "cat" early in the morning.   

Marley wasn't a catch, but he had just been to the vet in one, so he panicked.  Iza seemed pretty relaxed.  Ayla was nowhere in sight as soon as the PTUs came out.  But there were hours to go...

The appointment was for 3 pm, and the vet is only 10 minutes away, so at 2:30 I picked up Iza to put her in the larger PTU.  She fought harder than usual, so it took almost 10 minutes of hard grabbing and brute strength to get her inside and locked in.  She complained a lot afterwards.

Ayla was nowhere to be found.  If she wasn't in DEEP-HIDING just seeing the PTU, she sure was after Iza yelled a lot!  I searched the house top to bottom with a flashlight under every bed, every closet, and all the hidey-holes I knew about.  Apparently, she has some I don't know about.  After 20 minutes, I had to give up and just take Iza to the vet.

That was bad enough, but they both needed FIV shots started because after a year of them being indoors, I relented last Fall and let them outside again.  The shots have to be established 3 times (one shot every 2 weeks).  Marley had just finished him series, and I was royally tired of bringing any one to the vet every 2 weeks. 

Not bringing Ayla in at the same time as Iza means that they are both now on separate every-other-week schedules.  The vet says they CAN allow some overlap so I can get them both on the same schedule for the future shots, but getting them BOTH into PTUs the next time may be as impossible as this time was. 

I MAY have to just get used to taking them all to the vet one at a time!

Even worse is getting the stool samples for the annual exam.  I was lucky with Marley.  He obligingly pooped while I was in the basement in sight of the litter pans the day before his exam.  No such luck with Iza or Ayla.

So when I brought Iza to the vet last Friday, no stool sample.

Tonight is different.  I have enclosed Ayla in the basement with a clean litter box, food, and water, and a bed.  Iza is enclosed in my bedroom with the same.  Iza is in the bedroom because she demands to be near me more at night than Ayla does.  Marley sleeps out on the cat trees at night until dawn.  Of course, because Ayla is enclosed in the basement where the litter boxes usually are, I have a litter box at the bottom of the stairs for him. 

EVERYONE is going to be upset and unhappy all night.  Ayla in the basement, Iza in the bedroom, Marley not in the bedroom (and none of them able to sleep together or with me except Iza).  Its all a mess but the only way I can get the stool samples identified by cat.

I can best hope that both Ayla and Iza decide to poop in their respective enclosed rooms before I go to bed.  Oh happy thought.  But unlikely!  In the past (and I've gone through this before but not in such a complicated way) it has taken both about 12 hours before they would deign to poop after being so upset and restricted.  

My elderly Dad (who lives here now) says he can't imagine why I put myself through this for just a couple of "damn cats"and all the expense).  When  asked him why he used to have a boat that could only be described as "a hole in the water you through money into", he said he enjoyed the boat.  Well, I like my cats.    And a good bit more than he liked the boat.  Reminding him of all those nice weekend Summer days we spent scraping barnacles off the bottom of the boat and repainting/patching it endlessly didn't get through to him at all. 

But Dad complains about my aquarium, my garden, and flowerbeds, so there isn't much that makes him think effort is worthwhile except HIS favorite thing (watching golf). 

BTW, when he lived on his own, he watched golf when he could on his smallish old TV.  When he moved here with me, he commented that the HDTV was great.  Now that he is used to it, he thingks it is a waste of money.  If I dragged in an old 25" CRT TV like he used to have, he would gripe all day.

But this is about the cats, and I will not sleep well tonight knowing they are all separated from each other and 2 of them from me.  I hate this...

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

February Made Me Shiver...

With Every Paper I Delivered....

Yes, there was a time when I delivered newspapers.  A friend had built up a serious newspaper delivery route, and on Sundays, he needed extra help.  I signed on when I was 16.

The first part of the job was stuffing the special Sunday Section (comics, ads, etc) into the regular parts (news, etc).  This was back in the olden days when Sunday Comics where delivered on Sunday.  So 3 of us would be brought to a warehouse and stuff the 2 together for an hour for delivery to doorsteps.  And I mean "doorsteps".  None of that "out by the mailbox stuff" then.

Then there were the papers for the newstands (definition:  "newstands"  Places that sold multiple newspapers and people went and bought them there every morning and afternoon).  Sort of like 7-11s without food.  I would get dropped in a hallway next to the newstand with bundles of comics and separate bundles of "Section As", so to speak, and a wire clipper (they came wired in bundles).

I spent 3 hours each Sunday night stuffing the 2 together for newstand sale.  I was lucky.  I had a transistor radio that could get WBZ talk AM from Boston  On REALLY good nights, I could get a Chicago AM station that played Beach Boys music.

Just about the time I could stuff the sections together as fast as possible, the friend would come by from part on his delivery route and we would take half my stuffed newspapers for further delivery.  I had been doing the Baltimore Sun. The 3rd guy had been doing the other Baltimore newspaper (the News American?).  But I was faster to deliver stuffed papers so I got more work hours.

So I would be in the back of the van putting rubber bands around the papers of both types as we went to the final delivery routes.  My friend had the deliveries memorized.  He would say on one street "double, Sun, Sun, skip, Sun, American" (or whatever the street requiered) and I would have to scoop up the right combinations and run along the street putting them on the doorsteps as he drove along..

Except where people had specific requests like in their milkbox or between their door and storm door.

The worst time was when there was 2 feet of snow on the ground AND I had a horrible cold.  You'ld think that would have killed me.  But at 16, nothing kills you, you think.  I broke a bad fever running in and out of a van tramping through heavy snow, in the cold temps.  I felt just fine the next morning when everyone at home was sick as dogs!

So I know about delivering newspapers.

I never read them (except for the sunday comics).  So I didn't know (or care) "when the music died".  I was delivering the newspapers uncaring about the contents.  I didn't care then.

I do now.

Buddy Holly died February 3rd, 1959.  I'm sorry I was 2 days late remembering it.

Going Nuts

Tap, tap tap...  I shouldn't have let it in.  Tap, tap, tap.  Tap tap tap...

It's like the story of The Telltale Heart.  That relentless tapping coming down the hallway.

I can't stand it.  It's from the elder.  Coming tapping, tapping, tapping down the hall.

To me.  There is no escaping it when the tapping comes down the hall...

The tapping of the cane lasts 10 minutes.  10 relentless minutes...  Its like Chinese Water Torture...

Its the dreaded elderly Dad coming tap, tap, tapping toward my computer room at the far end of the house.   The long endless tapping of the cane through the seemingly endless hallway.  Dreadful, like a heart beating too slowly, like a too-loud clock, like a moonbeam crepping slowly across a window.  Relentless in the approach...

And FINALLY, a forehead shows up in the doorway.  "Are you there", he asks knowing full well that I am.  "Are you going to be in there all night" and he knows I will be.  Because I prefer to be on the computer rather than sit my butt in front of the TV all day and night like he does.  He doesn't understand anything better do do than sit his butt in the chair in front of the TV.

I spend my whole cleaning house, taking care of the cats, talking to him, repairing things, talking to him, doing yardwork, talking to him, making meals, talking to him, grocery-shopping, running errands for his medications, etc, etc, etc etc, etc, etc, etc.  And he just wants me to sit and watch TV with him all day every day and can't imagine why I wouldn't.  Well, there aren't 30 hours in a day, and I have a life of my own.  Not that Dad thinks so.  What I do seems of no value to him.

Well, he's nuts!

When we disagree on facts, he is always wrong.  He can't help but be at 90.   His mind isn't working well.  And I mean the simplest of facts.  Day, date, time, game scores.  He can't see anything straight these days.

My sister says to let everything go, pretend he is right, just toss it off.  That's not me; I can't.  I don't have the "family experience" to do that.

The problem is that he isn't yet nuts enough to require an assisted-living facility.  And that's why I am going nuts...

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Dad Here

Well, it looks like I am stuck with Dad until he is utterly unable to be cared for by me.  Sister has been avoiding finding a place for him near her and I understand now that she REALLY does plan to leave the area when she retires in a year.  So it IS best that he be HERE or in a place nearby.

I was hoping to get out of this relationship, but I'm the only one he has left.

That realization is hard.  I don't hate him, but I don't like him much either.  And I don't say that because he is batty (though he is); its the day to day living that makes it hard.  I lived on my own for 30 years and the change is so hard.

When he watches Fox News, he thinks it is like the word of god.  He says "damn right" sometimes and I look at him with dropped jaw.  He really does think that most of the people in the US are "MOOCHERS"!  I pointed out to him that  Romney meant me and him because we get a Federal Govt retirement, and it just went right over his head...

Its going to be a really hard year or so before Father Time catches up with him...  But he is here and for his "long haul".

I'll try not to mention it often...