Monday, 17 June 2019

I am grateful for friends

because yesterday was a mixed up sort of day. No, the Senior Cat is fine. I have heard him get  up just a short while ago. I saw his bedroom light go on earlier. Good.
It was the same yesterday - and then the email came. M... sent an email. It was short. It said "thank you" and then it said "a very, very difficult time". 
Yes. We are worried for A... and the three girls too. How are they going to cope without T..., without their wife and mother? I don't know. 
I know they will get through it - somehow. But C.... must be in the last year of school. There are big exams coming up...will they give that consideration? Will she have to repeat the year because she can't quite cope with taking on so much else? T.... was immensely supportive of her family. And other family will be there too - or will they? M... is not well either. Silly man is still smoking. Oh he has cut back but he is still addicted to that vicious weed.
But then there are friends. It was quite by chance that two people had arranged to call in yesterday morning. We are thinking about a Christmas tree. We are thinking about a Christmas tree because there is a Christmas tree festival again this year -  a short way up  in the hills behind us. The library knitting and crochet group is making a tree with knitted and crocheted squares. We will turn it into a blanket for someone in need after the festival is over.
And one of those friends knows M...  She called M...'s parents "aunt" and "uncle" although they were not related.  J.... had not caught up with the news. She doesn't really know M...'s children but she was immediately concerned for them. 
    "And I would not have known but we were coming here this morning."
It's odd-funny how things work out. I am glad she was here and that I could let her know. A message from her is going to mean a lot to M... 
It's those little things that mean the most.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

"What are you making?"

I was asked more than once yesterday. 
I had made the effort to go to a "knit and natter". It is the alternate gathering to a meeting I attend once a month.
The reason for going was simple. I will not be at the next meeting and there might have been questions about another event I am involved in.There were questions. I duly answered several. 
And there was the "what are you making" question as well. It is a common question.
And it is one I am going to try not to ask in future. No, it isn't because I am not interested. It is because I hope I am more interested than an answer like "socks" or "a  hat" or "another scarf". 
I think I would like to show people I am a little more observant than that. It might be more interesting if I can ask them about the actual pattern they are using or ask them about the yarn. Unless it isn't pretty obvious then asking what someone is making seems to me to be the equivalent of the polite "how are you?"  
I was reminded of the Senior Cat's brother. He could, towards the end of his life, get thoroughly tetchy. He was in the supermarket one day with the man who did so much to help him. The assistant at the checkout asked him, "How are you?"
His response was "Bloody awful."
And the response was an automatic, "That's nice."
The story was repeated later - to much amusement.
But I wonder if it really was that funny. The assistant would not have had the time or desire to engage in conversation but what about the rest of us? How  often do we say, "How are you?" and not really care or want to know? How often do we give the inquirer a polite rather than an honest answer?
Yesterday I stopped and explained what I was doing to someone. I am not sure it was what she expected but, suddenly, she seemed much more interested.
     "Come and have a look at  this," she said to someone else. I was able to show them both how something is done.
Later I prowled around for a little while and took in what other people were doing. I could have asked what people were making more than once but it was obvious. Instead I asked two elderly people how they were feeling now - because I really did want to know.  One of them thanked me for some biscuits and the other showed me one of six scarves she is knitting for those who care for her on a daily basis. We talked properly to one another. 
I really do need to stop asking meaningless questions. I need to ask questions to which I want to know the answers. It might take a bit more thought but I will be better informed.
 
 

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Falls in the elderly

can be serious, very serious...so I am duly grateful that it wasn't.
The Senior Cat "just sort of slid over" in his bedroom at about 5:15 yesterday afternoon. He couldn't get up again.
No, he didn't call out to me immediately. He had not hurt himself. He could do this by himself - except that he couldn't. He was there for a good fifteen minutes before he called me.
I cannot lift him by myself. He is not a heavy person but he has reached that "awkward elderly" stage. He can't kneel any more - two artificial knees have done that.
So, I went for help. M... across the road was home. He's strong enough to help. 
I couldn't make them hear at the front of the house so I went down the side and knocked on the back window. S... his wife is a paediatrician and well used to handling such things. Of course M... would go and help. He was in the bathroom with the two small boys while S... finished getting their evening meal.
M... was on his way before I had properly seen to it that the two boys were safe. S... said she was fine with them because H... was sitting in the shower cubicle where there was no water. 
I came home and M... and I had to lift the Senior Cat between us.  
It is one of those things that Middle Cat knows about and she should have shown us how to do it. I know how we helped the children when I was working with severely disabled children but the Senior Cat is taller and heavier - even though he is not a big or heavy adult.  
S... had said she would come and check later if I was worried but I had asked the Senior Cat to do the "finger tip to nose test" and he did it easily. He didn't think he had hurt himself either so I sent a quick email saying I thought things were okay. Middle Cat will call in today.
But there are two things that need to said here. The first is that everyone should know the "finger tip to nose test". Ask the person to close their eyes and stretch their arms out as far as they can. Then ask them, still with their eyes closed, to put their forefinger on their nose (and repeat for the other side). If they can't do it then get them some medical assistance asap. Other things like slurred speech or confusion are obvious signs but I was taught test too.
The other is equally important. Know your neighbours. Know them at least well enough that they will know who you are if you knock on the door. It doesn't mean living in one another's pockets. 
We are incredibly fortunate in our neighbours. I went to M... and S.... as the people I felt the most comfortable about asking. M... is physically able to help. Our neighbours on one side are away at the moment but there were two more able bodied men across the road I could have asked. If they had all been out I could even have gone around the corner and got help from two more able bodied men. But I was fortunate, the first people I went to were home and could help.
I know it could happen again. I hope it doesn't and it may not but the Senior Cat has always been clumsy-pawed. He is just fortunate he didn't break something.

Friday, 14 June 2019

"She was only 47"

I was told.
    "And leaves behind three young girls," I said.
There has been a death in the slightly more distant family - the Senior Cat's cousin has lost his daughter-in-law.
And yes, she was only forty-seven. We haven't heard the details yet although we know we will soon enough. The Senior Cat and his cousin, a first cousin-once-removed, are quite close. There are phone calls to him, emails to me. M....is the eldest son of the eldest son of the eldest son - the "chief" of our branch of the clan.
Clan matters to us. I think I have said elsewhere in this blog that we are close-knit on that side.

So, although we didn't know T.... well, the news matters to us. It would matter anyway because the eldest girl doesn't turn  seventeen until next month. It is going to be very, very hard on all of them.
I know the clan will rally around. They will get help but that won't mean "Mum" will be there. For their father it won't mean that the love of his life will be there. There will be the empty chair at the table...and the silence. There won't be the checking of the sports kit for baseball or the shaking out of the pleats for their highland dancing costumes. There won't be checks on hair cuts and homework.
I thought of all this yesterday as I went about things. I went to the library to pick up some books. On the way there I was stopped by a man of African appearance. He was clearly lost. His first language was clearly not English. I explained how to get where he needed to go and he said "Asante".  It's Swahili for "thank you". I said "Asante" in return - because I was thankful, thankful he had asked me. (He looked startled and then, realising what he had done, asked if I speak Swahili. I had to say no - I only know a few useful words.) He's a long way from what was obviously once home and I wondered about his mother.
On the way home from the library someone else asked if the train station was the right one to get him somewhere. I told him what to do too. He looked alarming. He was big and covered in tattoos -but he was incredibly polite. I wondered about his mother too.
Someone called in. Her mother was waiting in the car. Her mother is almost as old as the Senior Cat and came to live with her five years ago - from the other side of the world, a faraway place.
And I thought of the three girls.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

The gutters need cleaning

and it is not one of those things I can do myself. I am not a climbing sort of cat at all. I much prefer ground level. (I don't like planes either.)
Middle Cat apparently has something organised. The Senior Cat left a message on the table. It's a bit confused - but that is not necessarily his fault. Middle Cat can be less than clear about these things.
Someone may - or may not - turn up this morning. The weather forecast says "showers". I will just try to be patient.
Someone else is coming to drop something off to me. I have marmalade to give to her.
Yesterday was no better in terms of interruptions. I did manage to do some banking for the Senior Cat. A friend came to pick up the two part finished quilt tops. We looked at them together and decided there was not a lot to do to either of them. That is a good thing. C.... will be genuinely delighted that they are going to be given to the hospice.  
There were more interruptions as I was trying to get lunch for the Senior Cat. Middle Cat took him off to see the cardiac specialist just after lunch so I had to be on time. And then, as I was coming in the back door, I heard a quiet knock on the front door. By the time I got there the person had gone again. I looked out the window to see our former neighbour driving off. I knew she had been in to see our neighbour-across-the-road because her car was there. 
I let out a guilty sigh of relief and did things that needed to be done while the Senior Cat was out. I fielded phone calls. I answered emails. I did paperwork. I dealt with washing and ironing and more.
And last night I curled up on my sleeping mat and put my paws firmly around a book and finished reading it. As I put it in my bag ready to return to the library I thought of how good it was to be able to do just that. 
Yes, I could sit there and watch television but reading a book is so much better....just purrrrrrrfect. 

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

I am not much of a gardener

but I do plant things sometimes.
The problem for me is that I really feel the garden belongs to the Senior Cat. He loves gardening. His gardening may now be limited to pots at waist height but the garden itself is still his.
We have S....who turns up once a fortnight and spends two hours doing as the Senior Cat asks. S....calls himself a "rough gardener" but he can dig and cut and mulch and more. He will also, like the cleaning lady, do anything else he is asked to do outside.
But yesterday I could cheerfully have throttled him and the Senior Cat.
I rushed off to do some urgent things while P... was here - things I would normally do before she arrived. I came home and she said quietly, 
      "I think you had better check."
I checked. S... was, as he was asked, digging over a patch of ground and removing some "weeds". Well  yes, some of them I would classify as weeds. The problem was that they were also the sweet pea seedlings I had planted and had, because the Senior Cat loves to see them climb and grow, been nurturing carefully.
I wailed. S.... looked alarmed - and more than a little embarrassed. The Senior Cat was devastated. 
      "I didn't know they were there," he told me.
      "I told you! You saw me planting them!" 
I prowled back inside and shut the door rather firmly. P.... looked at me and opened the door again. She went out and rescued the two plants she could find.
The Senior Cat came in looking upset. I can't be cross with him for long. I  kissed the top of his head and told him.
      "Don't worry. We'll get some more. It is still supposed to  be fine this afternoon. I'll go to the garden place and get some more seedlings."
     "If they have any," the Senior Cat said gloomily. He was still feeling bad about it.
Middle Cat phoned at lunch time. P... had gone to her after sorting us out and told her about it.
      "I am just checking on his appointment tomorrow," she said, "And I'll pick up some more seedlings when I get some washers at the hardware store this afternoon. Oh and don't worry. I know someone who once ran the mower over my African violets because he thought they were weeds." 
She was referring to her DH of course - a man who knows nothing about gardening.
In the growing darkness last night I planted new seedlings. I was accompanied by a small peewit. It followed me as I went along the row. It came close enough for me to touch. I talked to it. It looked at me side on - in the way birds do - as if to say, "Don't worry. This lot won't get pulled up."
They better not. 

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

The cleaning lady

is coming early today.
Now I need to explain about the cleaning lady. I would not have employed her myself. It would never have occurred to me. This was Middle Cat's doing. 
Middle Cat caught me at the point where I had the 'flu - Influenza A to be precise. The Senior Cat had it too. He was in hospital. It was all I could do to get out of bed - but things had to be done and I had to get out of bed...because Middle Cat was ill too.
Middle Cat has a cleaning lady. She inherited said cleaning lady from her DH's side of the family.
Said cleaning lady is an absolute gem. She is wonderful. She is a keeper. I like her. She does the things I find difficult...like washing the kitchen the floor without slipping over on it and reaching high places. (She is taller than I am. I am a very short cat.)
I still do lots of cleaning but she comes for two hours once a fortnight and, while I still run the mop over the kitchen floor in between, she does the floors thoroughly, she scrubs the bathroom and vacuums the Senior Cat's bedroom. (I love that. I hate the vacuum cleaner.  There is almost no carpet in the house.) She dusts the high places. She has helped me clean out cupboards and more... all in the space of two hours. I don't know how she does it...especially as she is thorough with it.
And she charges very little. I don't think she charges nearly enough but she insists she is happy with that.
So when she phoned yesterday and asked if she could come early so that she could go to do something else important I said, "Of course."
It won't make any difference to us. We get out of her way. This time the Senior Cat will still be having his breakfast but she will start at the other end of the house anyway. Even if it had not been very convenient I would have said nothing.  
I know people who would not have wanted to be flexible about such things. They would have thought, "I am employing...."  I cannot think that way about this particular person. She  has been much too good to us. I have several times had to leave lunch for the Senior Cat to go and do something else on a day when she will be here at her usual time. That extends over lunch time.
    "Off you go. I'll look after him," she tells me. She is the one who sees to it that his lunch is properly heated in the microwave. She washed his plate. He had to go out too one day and she told me,
    "Don't worry. I'll see he's dressed properly." (Later I discovered that not only had she seen to it she had helped him do up his shirt buttons and tuck his shirt in.)
None of those things are what we pay her to do. I feel guilty but relieved when she arrives. It helps. It helps a lot to have her there.
So if she wants to change her time I am more than willing to accommodate her.  
We are so lucky to have her helping us.