Me on a Monday.

The following is my advice to anyone who may be wondering how they could possibly be, as awesome as me, on a Monday:

For most accurate results, it is best to first stay awake all night long…

As many of you already know, I am currently the Care Manager for a sweet elderly lady in Seattle, named Ethel.  We have had an extremely difficult time filling a couple of the night shifts, so I have volunteered to work Sunday nights as a caregiver.  Ethel is very excited that I’m staying the night with her now, and unfortunately for both of us her excitement has translated into insomnia.

Ethel’s insomnia seems to stem from her constant need to have me to sit next to her bed and hold her hand, massage her legs, massage her arms, massage her feet, reposition her in the bed, adjust her pillows, remove her covers because she’s too hot, add more covers because she’s too cold, etc.  There were a few times last night when she felt a little guilty because she knew how tired I was, and to my relief she would say, “Oh Winnie, you really should go get some rest.  You must be so tired.  Please go get some rest Winnie…”

But as luck would have it, I would no sooner have made myself comfortable on the couch again before I would hear her call out from her bedroom, “I miss you, Winnie!  I miss you!  I miss you TOO MUCH!!”

I have experienced this many times over my 12+ years, working as a Caregiver, and I can attest that it is both a blessing and a curse to be loved so dearly and so exuberantly by an elderly person who suffers from dementia.  While on one hand they love you so much that they are concerned for your comfort and safety (“You really need your rest, Winnie…”), they soon forget (dementia) how much time has passed between them telling you to get some rest and you actually resting (approximately 30-45 seconds), and in that short span of time the anxiety that they may never see you again sets in (“I miss you too much”), and at that point nothing becomes more important than coming up with any excuse to see you once more (“legs ache, tummy aches, shoulder aches, too hot/cold”), and therefore your life becomes an exhausting/endearing sort of living hell.

Then at around 3am they look at you with so much love in their eyes that it almost makes you feel uncomfortable, and their sad eyes well up with tears, and they say, “You are so nice, Winnie.  You are the nicest person I have ever met.  You are the nicest person IN THE ENTIRE WORLD!” and then your heart melts a little, and you just smile and continue to hold their hand until they start to nod off, and then you attempt to tiptoe out of the room…

“Winnie, Winnie!  Winnie, WHERE ARE YOU?  Oh thank God!  Thank God, Winnie!  I had a dream that you left me and I never saw you again!  But you’re HERE!  God Bless You.  God Bless You, Winnie…”

After very little sleep and several cups of coffee, proceed to begin walking the first of 6 dogs…

I left Ethel’s apartment at noon so that I could begin the dog walking festivities for the day.  Since I was already on Dixie’s side of town (Dixie is a Golden-Doodle) I picked her up first, and as always she was over-the-moon-happy to see me walk through her front door.  She was briefly disappointed that her boyfriend Nash (my yellow lab) wasn’t with me today, but she still enjoyed herself immensely during our long walk around the neighborhood.  Had our walk ended without any diversions, this particular Monday may have been much like any other.  But since Dixie had been such a good girl on our walk, and since we had the north end of Madison Park to ourselves (other than the fellow mowing the lawn), and since she was missing her boyfriend Nash so much, I decided that Dixie deserved a little off-leash time at the park.

Dixie was ecstatic to be off of her leash, and she rejoiced by sprinting back and forth along the waterfront as fast as her long Golden-Doodle legs would carry her.  When she paused just long enough to hunch awkwardly over a tall patch of grass, I groaned to myself that “of course she has to poop at the very bottom of the hill ugh” and reluctantly got the poop bag ready to clean up her mess for the second time that day.

It works best if you don’t pay any attention to where you are going and just focus on the poop and the poop bag and the task at hand…

On about my second or third step, I felt the earth give way under my feet, and I realized much too late that the bright green grass covering the steep hill toward the lake was merely an optical illusion.  There was no way to know (other than the fact that it had rained all night) that beneath the springtime glow of the glistening blades of grass at Madison Park, there lived a thick basin of slick, slimy, yucky, quick-sand-like-mud.  Before I could even find time to spew out a curse word, my two feet shot out from under me and my rear end was quickly transformed into what can only be described as a butt-sled.  As I tobogganed halfway down the hill, Dixie came bounding toward me and I hollered out to her to “get out of the way!  Save yourself, Dixie!!”

When my joy ride finally came to a stop, Dixie tried to resuscitate me by slobbering all over my face.  “Great, just great” was all I managed to say before I began the process of picking my aching bones off of the ground.

When you think that things couldn’t possibly get any worse, think again…

Not to be deterred from the mission at hand, I found the poop bag that I’d thrown in the air during the whole hoopla, made a quick assessment as to the percentage of my body that was saturated in mud, (my butt, calves, arms, hands, shoes, and I could not help but notice that the mud had actually found its way DOWN my pants and made a home in certain crevices) before I began my descent down the hill once again.

I had no sooner taken a step forward with my right foot before, once again, I became a victim of the menacing, slippery-slope, and this time I completed my journey down the hill, entirely on the right side of my body.  I had mud in my armpit, on the side of my face, in my right ear, and all through the right side of my hair.  Dixie, being my noble companion and all, decided to come and lay down beside me (white dog laying in the mud, great, just great) and lick the mud off of the side of my face.

Between these two falls, I had actually managed to dislodge a significant portion of earth. 

Once I was able to look back at my tobogganing pathway, I was horrified to see that there was a stretch of about eight feet of exposed soil, with a large mound of grass and dandelions piled up at the end.  When I went to pull my pants back up (they had practically fallen off of me by then) I actually had to pull a bunch of grass and dandelion stems out of my crack, and that was when I said to Dixie, “Seriously?  I mean…SERIOUSLY?  F*#KINGSH*TBALLS!!!”

The lawn mowing guy (ie; Sole Witness) must have 0bserved my acrobatic skills from afar, because I noticed that I no longer heard the engine running.  I looked over at him and waved (with my clean arm) to reassure him that I was okay.  He hollered out, “Sure you’re OK, ma’am?” and I just waved him off again with my muddy arm.

By then I had practically landed on the poop-pile’s front door, and I thanked my lucky stars that I didn’t just slide right through it.  Of course, since Dixie was frightened by my elegant trip down the hill, she was unable to complete the process of pooping.  In other words the whole disastrous slip’n’sliding incident, all of which began because I was trying to be a good citizen and pick up after my dog; it all of it had happened in VAIN!  While continuing my cursing rampage under my breath, I picked up Dixie’s little tiny turd-nugget with the poop bag, tied it up, put Dixie back on her leash, and we set off for home.

Remember, I STILL HAD TO WALK FIVE MORE DOGS after this fiasco!  In PUBLIC no less…

Fortunately, since I had stayed the night with Ethel, I did have a pair of pajama bottoms that I could change into, so I quickly weighed out the pros and cons of which would be worse; to walk all around Seattle in a pair of pajama bottoms, or to walk all around Seattle looking like a swamp person who may have possibly crapped themselves?

I opted to go 90’s grunge-style and tie my raincoat around my waist for the rest of the day. 

download-6

By the time I had finished walking all of the dogs that day, I thought that I might die from exhaustion.  I drove home as fast as I could, parked my car halfway in the yard, and plowed my way downstairs, to the coziest couch on the entire planet.  I kicked off my muddy shoes, but didn’t even bother to change clothes before I collapsed onto my favorite part of the sectional and shouted, “Hallelujah!”

My yellow lab, Nash, is not allowed to sit on the furniture, but when I looked over at him and saw his adorable brown eyes looking at me with more love than I could ever possibly deserve, I couldn’t resist him.  I said, “come on up, little buddy” and in less than a second Nash had positioned himself entirely on top of me so that he could close his eyes while he enthusiastically licked my neck and face.

My phone started ringing.  It was Ethel…

(Keep in mind that Ethel has a caregiver there with her 24/7, so she is never alone.)

Me:  “Hello?”

Ethel:  “Winnie?  Are you there, Winnie?”

Me:  “I’m here, Ethel, how are you?”

Ethel began to cry:  “Not too good.  I’m not too good at all, Winnie…”

Me:  “Uh oh, are you feeling kind of crummy again?”

Ethel:  (sobbing) “I feel so BAD, and I MISS YOU SO MUCH, WINNIE!”

Me:  “I’m sorry that you’re missing me so much.  I’m sure that you caregiver is taking excellent care of you though, right?”

Ethel:  “Well…I suppose.”

Me:  “Maybe she needs to give you some medicine to help you feel better?”

Ethel:  (sobbing again) “I don’t need medicine, I need YOU!  The only thing that will make me feel better is YOU, WINNIE!”

Me:  “Well I’m not able to come and visit you tonight Ethel, because I am really tired, but I can talk to you on the phone for a little while.  Do you think that might help?”

Ethel:  “I guess so…but it’s NOT THE SAME!”

Me:  “Hey, guess what, Ethel?  Guess who is sitting on my lap right now?”

Ethel:  (sobbing sounds)

Me:  “Nash was so happy to see me when I came home, that he just had to lay on top of me and lick my whole neck and face!”

Ethel:  “Oh…WINNIE!  (whimpering sounds) I WISH I COULD DO THAT!”

Oh boy…

download-7

 

Seattle Public Transit.

imagesLast night I dreamed that I went to Seattle to visit my good pal, Rosemary.  She took me downtown to see her studio and we traveled via ski lift from her house to Pike’s Place Market.

On the way there, we accidentally beheaded a giraffe.

Yes, a giraffe.

That’s when Rose explained to me that, “all those damned giraffes have ruined Seattle Public Transit!” I asked her where all the giraffes came from and she just looked at me like I was the dumbest person on the planet. “From their Mama’s LOINS, where else?!”

Turns out that giraffes run around all crazy without their heads just like chickens. No wonder they ruined Seattle Public Transit!

Aunt Elise VS The Armadilla.

One of the most memorable events from my time in Mississippi was meeting Rea’s Aunt Elise…

IMG_0146

Aunt Elise: “Have y’all evah seen an arm-a-dilla?”

Me: “No, not in real life.”

Aunt Elise: “Oh god, but if they aren’t the ugliest creatures! When I see ’em on my property I shoot ’em. Ah’ve shot twenty-four arm-a-dillas so far.”

Me: “Wow, twenty-four?!”

IMG_0377Aunt Elise: “Uh-huh. Once I even shot a mama and a daddy arm-a-dilla on the same day, and some lady asked me how I knew that they were a mama ‘n daddy and I said, ‘I looked at their junk, how the hell else would I know?’ Ah’ve gotta say that the only thing uglier than an arm-a-dilla is an arm-a-dilla’s private parts!”

Aunt Elise: “Once I took a shot at an armadilla who was hiding in a bush, and I shot its tail right off! A few days later I checked my traps, I set out traps to catch the armadillas that don’t get close enough for me to shoot, and guess what I found in there? An armadilla with no tail! Can y’all believe that? That armadilla was dumb enough to come back to my property after I shot its tail plumb off!”

IMG_0377I told Aunt Elise that I’ve been writing her armadillo stories, and she was so thrilled.

Aunt Elise: “Oh ah’ve got a ton of armadilla stories…”

Uncle Jack: “She sure does hate them armadillas…sure does…”

Aunt Elise: “Well they get in my yard and dig and dig and DIG! Ah wouldn’t be surprised at all if some uh dem holes went clear to CHINA!”

Me: “She told me that she’s killed 24 armadillos.”

Uncle Jack laughed: “24 huh? I’d say it’s more like well into the 50’s. She thinks that she’s scared ’em all off, like they spread word to their kin to stay away from that crazy lady’s place, but oh no…I’d be willing to bet that she’s just killed ’em all off.”

Aunt Elise: “Oh no, there’s more of ’em out there and I’ma gunna get ’em…”

  AUNT ELISE                                            VS                            THE ARMADILLA

IMG_0146IMG_0377

Pearl, Mississippi.

After dinner at Cracker Barrel (where they ran out of chicken and dumplings) we headed to Rea’s parents house in Pearl, Mississippi, where we stayed for a few days…

IMG_0396

Aren’t they adorable??

Here are a few highlights:

I was introduced today as “Winfrey”. That was a first.

“Have you ever shaved both of your legs and then realized that you hadn’t taken the cap off of the razor?” – Midnight Mississippi conversations.

“AHHHHHHHHHH-CHUH!!” Apparently even sneezes have an accent in the South.

There is a Clearance Sale at the Dollar Store in Pearl, Mississippi, and you can purchase an ice cold 20oz bottle of Budweiser at the corner store for 99 cents. Gotta love a place where you can have a night out on the town with whatever you find under your couch cushions!

You know that you’re sitting at the breakfast table with a Southern Baptist family when you hear one funny water baptism story after another. I was trying to remember a story so that I could add something to the conversation, but as a recovering Pentecostal, the only story that came to mind was when a guy at my church got filled with the Holy Spirit and started speaking in tongues, and it sounded just like he was saying super-cali-fradga-listic-expi-alli-dotious in Pig Latin.

Of course, the whole reason for our trip was to attend Rea’s niece’s wedding:

IMG_0231

Stinkin’ adorable!

Sex and Tractors.

3 Reasons that Rain is a Good Thing
By: Luke Bryan

1) Rain makes corn.
2) Corn makes whiskey.
3) Whiskey makes my Baby get a little frisky.

Can’t say that Country Music isn’t educational…

We listened to A LOT of country music on our trip to the South, and I’ve gotta say that my long-lost love for country music may be rekindled.  We’ve decided that in order to write a hit country song, you really have to have a list of country things such as:

1)  Comfy jeans, beer (preferably cheap, canned beer because micro-brews are for sissies), whiskey/moonshine, bar brawls, inner-tubes, Chevy trucks, fried chicken, gravel roads, etc, etc.

2)  You must reference country legends such as Willie, Waylon, Cash, Dolly, Loretta, Haggard, and apparently, Tim McGraw?

3)  You must use phrases such as “darlin”, “baby”, “boondocks”, “hick”, “redneck yacht club”, “hillbilly trailer park”, “mmmmmmmmmmmmmmotor-boatin”.

4)  If you don’t reference God and/or America at some point then you may as well just forget it.

5)  And TRACTORS!  Never leave out tractors and how ladies think they’re sexy…

6)  If you manage to write a song using every one of these words, and also add something about the wisdom from your Granddad then…

&)  BOOM!  You’ve got a hit record on your hands.

images

If Marcy Playground had made a country album in the 90’s it would’ve gone something like this:

Sex and Tractors:

I smell sex and tractors, yeah…

Who’s that lounging in my flatbed?

Who’s that casting their line in my fish-ing hole…

yeah Granddad this surely is a dream…

And FYI, in case you’re wondering or getting pissed off because I’m mocking country music?

Au Contrair.

I totally dig it.

Cracker Barrel.

After we’d enjoyed being tourists on Beale Street, we rented a car in Memphis and then headed to Rea’s hometown of Jackson, Mississippi.  Of course we had to have dinner on the way, and of course I suggested Cracker Barrel.  When I called my mom to let her know that we’d arrived safely and that we were going to Cracker Barrel for dinner, she said:

Mom:  “Oh my god, you HAVE to order the fried gizzards!  Oh my god…and the CHICKEN LIVERS!  They’re simply to DIE for!!”

Me:  “That’d kill someone alright…Mom, I told you that we’re going to Cracker Barrel.  We’re not filming an episode of Strange Foods with Andrew Zimmern!”

download-2

(Nothin’ like smoking my corn cob pipe at Cracker Barrel while waiting for a table. This is how i roll in the South…)

Of course  we had to look at the gift shop while we were waiting.  I was in my own little world, admiring the clearance section, when one of the ladies who worked there came up to me and said, “Excuse me, Ma’am?”  Of course I looked all around me to try to figure out who the hell she was talking to before I sounded like a dumb-ass by pointing to myself saying, “Who me?”

Gift shop girl:  “I’m sure that you probably thought I’ve been stalking you, since I’ve been following you all around the store…?”

I just stared at her blankly, which let her know that I’d been completely unaware of the fact that she’d been stalking me.

Gift shop girl:  “Well I’ve just been admiring your hair.  The color, the cut, just…everything about it!”

My whole self turned red when I said, “Oh wow, okay…thank you?!”

Gift shop girl:  “That’s all I wanted to say.”  Then she grinned shyly and walked back to the cash register.

Rea walked over to me then and said:  “I just can’t even leave you alone for a second before you’ve got everyone fawning all over you!”

Me:  “Yeah…who’da thought that I’d be such a hot item in the South?”

Rea pointed at herself:  “THIS girl!”

The dinner special was chicken and dumplings, so I ordered the chicken and dumplings.

Guess what they were out of…?

Chicken and Dumplings.

So I ordered BBQ pork with hashbrown casserole, sweet potato casserole (because I couldn’t decide between the two) and sweet tea that was so sweet it darn near made my teeth rot out of my head!

In other words; it was delicious.

I told Rea that our waitress was lucky that my Auntie Verna wasn’t the one who ordered chicken and dumplings and got denied.  She would’ve taken that bitch OUT!

Memphis.

Touchdown in Memphis and the weather is beautiful! We’re fixin’ to fill our bellies with BBQ on Beale Street. January 31 near Memphis, TN via mobile

download

download-1

(Photo explanations going clockwise from the top)

I was totally impressed that you could just buy a “Big Ass Beer” and walk around with it!  Unfortunately I was too full of ribs to actually partake of a big ass beer.  Bummer!

No explanation should be needed for the onesie, because there really isn’t anything funnier than a tourist shirt that mentions poop.  Am I right or am I right?

I’m right.

When we were looking around one of the tourist shops, Rea held up this photo and said, “Now THAT’S some SERIOUS Cash!”  It cracked me up.

You probably had to be there…

It turned out that we’d arrived in Memphis during the Blues Festival, and it was just getting started.  We met a really sweet man who was singing the blues to an audience of 2; that would be Rea and I.

We were having a blast already and our adventure to the South had only just begun…