Sunday, January 22, 2012

Stuff My Mamaw Says

My paternal grandmother, Mamaw, is 94. My maternal grandmother, Mama Cym, just turned 96. They both live in the same retirement apartment complex, in their own apartments. It's wonderful that they can still live in their own individual spaces.

But Mamaw needs care here and there throughout the day, because she's quite blind and almost deaf (though her hearing aids make a HUGE difference). She needs someone to fix her meals, pick out her clothes (though she can dress herself), giver her the pills she needs to take daily, take her blood sugar levels and blood pressure and wash her dishes every day. She also needs someone to help her shower, do her laundry and clean her apartment twice a week. It's too much for any one family member to do - my sister and sister-in-laws would prefer to spend their time with Mamaw taking her out to breakfast or lunch, taking her to special events, taking her shopping, getting her together with her great-grandchildren and other fun stuff. Having caregivers gives family more time to do all those social things with Mamaw that are just as important and necessary as the daily grind stuff. We have one caregiver to do the daily things and one to do the weekly things.

But our daily caregiver had surgery and needed a couple of weeks off. My brother and sister-in-law came to our hometown to take care of Mamaw for the first week, and I've been here for a week. I stayed right here in her apartment. My siblings and I have grown up with Mamaw being a HUGE part of our lives, and I'm glad to give back just a tiny bit of what she's given me.

But this week has also been a fascinating learning experience for me. It's something I think every adult should do at least once - spend one week taking care of someone elderly. I thought I really knew a lot about aging issues; I learned there's so much still to know.

One thing I learned was just how many people here are on the Internet. There's anywhere from a dozen to two dozen networks showing at any given time. Why this place doesn't have a Facebook page with all of its events posted, or a Google calendar with all the events posted, I do not know. Yes, I've suggested it. It would make it easy not only for all those Internet connected folks here, but also, for their relatives to see what's going on (there are almost daily events down in the common area).

Mamaw in the snowBut the best thing about this week is enjoying Mamaw's perspective on the world. She often had to curb her silly side over the years, as a preacher's wife. But now, she doesn't hold back at all, and it's incredibly fun to hear her perspective on everything. So I decided to post updates to Facebook about our time together. And she turned out to be a HUGE hit on Facebook! I haven't had so many likes for most of the things I post:

* * *
Mamaw comment for today (actually said last night): "I'm content to just sit here. I'm content like a cow.

* * *
In response to "How are you today," Mamaw's response was "Fat and Sassy!"
Coolest. 94-year-old. Eva.

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After burping several times in one minute, Mamaw says: "you outta find a way to put all this in a can. Then you could run your car on it."

* * *
Mamaw likes to have her hair brushed, because she likes her "scalp woke up."

Mamaw and Jayne
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My grandmother just asked me where I parked my motorcycle outside. Yes, Mamaw, I road it from Oregon to Kentucky. In 12 hours. She either thinks I am the most badass motorcycle rider EVER, or she forgot I live in the other state. Or maybe both?

Emma washing in the 1930s* * *
Mamaw needs an iPhone with REALLY loud volume and on and off buttons that can be distinguished easily just by feeling them - so she can talk with Siri all day. She has a million questions, and Siri could answer them, some of them more than once!

* * *
Here at my grandmothers' retirement home, someone has named their Internet connection "WildTurkey", and another person has named their Internet connection "FreeSpirit." I think there are more things going on here than you might think just by visiting the lobby.

* * *
Mamaw likes to sing in the morning. The correct lyrics to the hymn are "Turn your lights down low, And listen to the master's radio" but she changed it to "Turn your lights down low, and then give a big hug to your beau..." And then she laughed and laughed.

* * *
Mamaw, after getting mad at me for not letting her lick the chicken salad off the bread instead of also eating the bread : "I wish I could be around when YOU'RE in your 90s and see how YOU act." I'm learning a LOT about how to act being around all these folks at Pleasant Point, lemme tell ya! (she's diabetic - we have to really monitor her regarding her food)

Mamaw and HER doggies* * *
I once asked her if she could have been a preacher. She was washing dishes. She whirled around and said, "Yes! I could have been a preacher! I know how to preach!" I said, yes, but Mamaw, Paul said that women should stay silent in church. She made a face and said, "Paul hated women. Some woman broke his heart and we've been paying for it ever since."

* * *
In addition to taking care of my paternal grandmother (Mamaw) this week, I'm also spending time with my maternal grandmother (Mama Cym), who tells me FANTASTIC family stories. Yesterday, she talked about her grandmother, who was forced to go live with a cousin when his wife died, to take care of him and his children, and then pretty much forced to marry him (and he was MUCH older). Before you tut tut other countries with different religions for their attitudes re: women, remember that it was just as bad here not too long ago!

* * *
Decided to spot clean Mamaw's carpet. While I was down scrubbing at stains, she said, "Look at you, down there on your knees. If you're gonna be down there on your knees, you might as well pray." This was followed by a song she made up right then and there about praying while cleaning carpets. I apologize for not remembering the lyrics.

* * *
Took Mamaw out for Chinese Food after a funeral. Her fortune cookie said, "Someone is interested in you." She was absolutely delighted to know this. I said, "There's a man standing over there by the register. He might be the one interested in you." She said, "Well, it could be. But if he spent any time with me and had to fuss with me, he might not be interested in me any more." The guy just shook his head and laughed.

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This morning's singalong was "Life Is like A Mountain Railroad." Mamaw can harmonize to anything. We also tried "Your Cheaten' Heart." Being a good Christian girl from Spottsville, Kentucky, she only knew the chorus and the melody. OF COURSE she does NOT know the words. Only Honky Tonk girl in this apartment is ME.

* * *
Me: "Mamaw, I'm going to take a shower now. Will you be okay?"
Mamaw: "Yes, sweetie, I'll be fine."
Me: "Don't you have a party while I'm taking a shower."
Mamaw: "What?! But I wanted to have my boyfriend over!"

* * *
Saturday, as I drove past the municipal golf course.
Me: "Mamaw, there are people playing golf today! Even in this cold weather!"
Mamaw (in super pitiful voice): "Poor little ball, just gettin' smacked around ever' where. Didn't do nothin' to nobody. Gettin' lost in the weeds. Gettin' left out in the cold." (Laughs)

* * *
And last, but not least: I recorded her singing and uploaded it here. These are all really short - each less than four minutes:

Really wished I had gotten her singing "He's got the whole world in his hands" and "This land is your land" and "You are my sunshine" as well.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Still Lovin' the Bard

My blog Lovin' the Bard has been the most popular personal blog I've ever written, per getting tweeted by a very influential friend in the theater world and then getting re-tweeted by about half-a-dozen high school drama teachers.

A followup to that blog: for the last 12 months, I've been trying not to buy any books - I'm reading only what's already on my bookshelves. It's both to save money and to remind me that books are meant to be read, not stuck on shelves for years and years only as ornaments. And given how much I still have to read - either because I never read this or that book, or because I want to re-read this or that - it looks like I could go another 12 months.

The last four things I've read have been Shakespeare plays. First, I read A Midsummer Night's Dream, which I first saw in the magical 1935 movie production when I was probably 14, and then as live theater at Hartford Stage in 1988, in a magical production no one who saw it will ever forget. I love the play so much I can quote from it - but as I'd never read it, I thought it would be a good first choice. It was a very satisfying read.

Next, I read Twelfth Night, which, as I mentioned in that previous and very popular blog , was the first live Shakespeare I ever saw, in a production at the University of Evansville. I saw it again in 1987, in a production in London, directed by a young and up-and-coming director called Kenneth Branagh, with original music by Paul McCartney. Don't ask me which production was better - they were both exceptional.

Then I read Taming of the Shrew. Which I did not enjoy nearly so much as the Zeffirelli's movie, though reading it provided a lot of food for thought (and the discovery that it's a play within a play - I had no idea!).

Last night, I finished The Merchant of Venice. I wondered if, without the benefit of seeing it ever or having lots of footnotes explaining this or that or having a teacher guiding me, I would understand it, let alone enjoy it. It turned out to be the best read so far. The story is magnificent. Portia is an absolutely delicious role. And I came away with a very sympathetic view of Shylock. I think the play is both a reflection of the time regarding how British Christians viewed Jews, but I also think Shakespeare was being critical of their treatment - that's what the words say to me. YMMV. It breaks my heart to know shortly after Kristallnacht in 1938, this masterpiece was broadcast as anti-Semitic propaganda on German radio.

What's next? Either King Lear or The Tempest.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Dakar Rally Coverage Improves Dramatically in USA

The Versus/ coverage of the Dakar Rally this year (2012) is head and shoulders above of what it was last year. In fact, the coverage in 2011 was so bad, I wrote an email to Versus:

----- Original Message --------
Subject: your Dakar coverage
Date: Thu, 13 Jan 2011 21:21:25 -0800
From: xxxxxxx

We -- my husband and I -- have been thrilled at your Dakar coverage. I just moved back to the USA last year, and we were both mourning the lack of Dakar coverage on TV, so I was thrilled to find your nightly updates, and we have watched them religiously. Your coverage of the leaders is fantastic.

But the Dakar isn't just about the best riders and drivers. It is not just about the top finishers. But that's all you cover. There is nothing in your coverage about:
-- the women motorcycle riders and drivers of Dakar. They are pioneers -- yet you would never know they were there from your coverage.
-- the self-sustaining riders and drivers of Dakar. There are people who don't have teams supporting them, riders who not only ride their bikes all day, they then have to work on their bikes after a hard day of riding, some times all night. What drives these people? How do they do it without any crew?
-- people new to Dakar. What do the drivers and riders who have never been to the rally think about their first experience?
-- the crews. They are a story in and of themselves. Who are some of the people that make up the crews? What drives them to be there, in far-from-luxurious conditions, working all night so their drivers and riders can ride/drive all day ('cause it's certainly not the pay!)
-- what do the local people think about it all? This rally is still so new to South America. I'd love some interviews with those people who seemed to have traveled to a really remote site just to cheer a blur passing by. I'd love to hear if there are any economic impacts outside of the rally as well -- any increase in tourism?
-- surely there are some rally old-timers who can comment on how the rally has changed over the years?

And please, please, please, get rid of Ines Sainz. She, and her stories, add NOTHING to your Dakar coverage. Please. I just came up with six stories that are better than anything she's reported on. I could come up with three times as many if given an hour to think about it. Surely there is an attractive woman who isn't a bubble head who can cover more appropriate, more interesting stories?

Apparently, they listened to me or they fired whomever from Versus directed the coverage from last year or they hired someone that thinks like me for 2012: this year's coverage has been Ines Sainz-free, and each of the three highlight shows we've watched so far has featured a good profile. In fact, whomever it is reporting on Versus/ has a better narrative than the EuroSport guy (yes, we watch both - same videos, different commentary).

So, bravo, NBCSports! Keep it up! Or else you will be hearing from me...

My only complaint this year: the web site is too hard to navigate - we can't find the day's videos there. Come on, guys - hire a usability expert. Make a list of each day's videos on one easy-to-find, easy-to-download menu page. It's NOT that hard!