Thursday, October 04, 2012

No Empty Nest

A new blog is coming. I'm thinking of calling it "No Empty Nest." There is a lot to tell you but here is the summary of the last few months.

Life with my mother is good. Particularly now that we are out of her hair and she has hours alone every day. She is doing more housework. She doesn't like doing dishes or vacuuming in front of us since she moves so slowly. She seems to feel good about being able to be helpful, and I certainly do appreciate the help.

The real news is my father. Where to start?  So you all remember he got married right? His wife left late last spring to visit her parents in China. Dad started getting a bit weird about it. He doesn't talk much on the phone, but well, let's just say I had decided that he must have started drinking again. He apparently thought that Mom moving in with me was such a good idea that he emailed Sis, who is getting divorced (more on that too) and said that she should find an apartment they could share in Minnesota. Sis decided that was a good idea, found a place and she, my nephew and my father moved in.

Within a week Sis realized that Dad was suffering from some form of dementia. It seems that Dad was aware that he was having more trouble managing his life. Moving in with Sis just seemed to him to be the obvious solution. Particularly since his marriage was in trouble. That is another story I will have to come back to.

Anyway, Dad left California with one small suitcase of clothes and his wallet. We learned from the tenant who rents the apartment at the back of the house, that the place was left in shambles. He (the tenant) has cleaned the place up and put all the paper work he can find on the table. There is a court date for the divorce in just over a week, and I am flying to California this weekend to go through the previously mentioned paperwork, possibly meet with the divorce lawyer, and maybe take statements from people. Sis is making a list.

So how's that a teaser for a new blog?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Hard Part

Before Mom moved in I told a colleague that I was sure that having Mom here would be difficult in ways I didn't expect. It is. Mostly it is easier than I even hoped. Mom clearly came deciding that she was just going to adjust to the way we do things. We don't keep the house as tidy as she would, she doesn't complain. She doesn't make veiled comments about my weight like I feared she would. (In the past it wasn't that she said mean things. It was more that she always noticed and complimented me if I lost any weight. She said mean things about OTHER people's weight problems. That combined made me feel bad.) Anyway, mostly living with her is good.

The hard part turns out to be money. She is indirectly far more expensive than I expected. Her direct expenses are of course minimal. Her impact on the grocery bill is nearly nil. She pays all of her own personal expenses. We even use her car, which she maintains, insures, and supplies with gas, whenever we have to take her anywhere.

So how is she expensive? My mother has always been very frugal, which has also meant that if there was something important she needed, she had the money for it. She expects me to be able to do the same.

So, for instance, the bathroom. Mom needed it to be renovated. I told her that I needed her to pay for it. Because of the inconvenient window, we hired someone who would do a custom tile job. No way would any pre-fab unit fit. They guy came, we think very highly of him. It was his idea to move the toilet. That would cost an extra $300, but it was such a good idea. In retrospect I suppose I should have said, "great, now install a pre-fab shower/tub and your great idea will mean that we will pay you less." The truth is that I didn't even consider it. The extra $300 was in Mom's budget, just barely, but still under. Then I realized that the shower faucet set up that the contractor was going to use would be great for just us, but for an extra $50 I could get the ADA compliant one that would be SO much easier for her to use.  I'd have to pay the extra, but how could I not? THEN I realized that moving the toilet and tub meant that there would be three small holes in the floor where the tub plumbing used to be. I debated what to do. I could leave it, I suppose. So there are holes in the floor. The obvious answer is to pay a very reasonable amount of money to have the floor tiled to match the tub surround.

I considered not repainting the kitchen which I had been planning on doing since before Mom said she was moving, but my father sent me money for my birthday and there was enough to cover it. When it was done Mom said that I really should put up knobs and pulls. I asked if she needed them and that if she did, I would split the expense with her. She said she didn't really need them, but that my nice painting job was going to get messed up if I didn't add the hardware. After she mentioned it a couple times, I just bought the pulls.

Our AC really isn't very effective and it gets hot here. She said that if it was okay with us, that after she caught up with having paid for the bathroom, she pay her next installment for "room and board" by replacing our windows in the living room with some like she put in her house (translation: high quality ones). We tried not to jump up and down for joy at that suggestion. She said that that would probably help keep the room a whole lot cooler, and did I think we could afford to add a window AC unit? I said sorry, but we really couldn't. THEN Roland told me today that he thinks that he thinks it might not even be safe for a elderly woman to be in a house that often hits 83 degrees in the afternoon (it is a dry heat), and he has ordered a window AC unit.

She has noticed that I have repainted every room in the house except the living room. She said she really doesn't like this color and that should be my first project next summer. I told her that I wasn't going to do it. I'd LIKE to do it, but see, the wallpaper under the window (behind the sofa) is falling off and taking some of the plaster with it. I have no idea how damaged the plaster will be if I pull all the paper off and that might be more of a job than I can handle. I said that if it really bothered her, she could hire someone to re-do the plaster and I would paint. She chuckled and said no.  Then later in the kitchen she said, "you know, I had several rooms in my house re-plastered. It really isn't that expensive."

I said, "mmm" and wandered off to have a whole conversation in in my head with her that she isn't having with me, if you know what I mean.  I hear her say, "I am planning on spending a lot of money on your windows, and the living room will still look bad unless you are willing to spend a couple hundred dollars to do something you clearly NEED to do. The wall paper and plaster are FALLING OFF THE WALL."

Then I reply, "Mom, I can't keep spending money that I haven't planned on spending. If the walls bother you so much, pay the couple hundred yourself. I'll still do the painting."

And she says, "You want me to buy you windows AND pay to have the room re-plastered?"

And I say, "No. I don't giving a brown word about the fornicating walls. I like the wall paper just fine. The part behind the sofa doesn't bother me because IT IS BEHIND THE condemned-to-hot-place SOFA! You don't even  have to buy the fornicating windows!"

Then I realize that I am cursing at an imaginary version of my mother and I probably should consider writing a blog post even if I haven't written anything positive and I HATE it when I only write when I have something to complain about, because really, mostly I enjoy having her here.



Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Bathroom renovation pics

I plan to update this daily.

Day 2:

As you can see, we decided on a regular tub instead of either a walk-in (tub or shower). This one is lower than average, which will make it easier for Mom to climb in. There will be grab-bars aplenty of course.

Monday, July 09, 2012

bathroom renovation

Remember the posts about the need up renovate the bathroom for Mom? The big issue was that there was an inconveniently placed window. This is what my bathroom looked like this morning after we took out the shower curtain, rugs and towel bars:

After what the builder called "demolition" and I prefer to call "de-construction," the bathroom looks like this:

We are going to move the toilet to the spot next to the window! Problem solved. This solution is possible because the laundry room, which is directly under the bathroom has no ceiling. All the plumbing is easily accessible.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

***This is a post I intended to work more on and publish a couple of weeks ago. Here it is...

Sis and Niece got here the other day. I love them, I really do, but it is rather like having Adrian Monk, and his not-evil twin, move in. After much debate Jennifer decided to clean my kitchen first. Now, before she got there I cleaned the kitchen so that she would not be too horrified. I did all the dishes, put everything away, wiped down the counters. I thought it looked pretty good. It wasn't deep-clean, but it was respectable.

I've been working on Mom's bedroom (another story) and as I left them in the kitchen I heard Niece say, "What's wrong Mom?"

"I'm just so overwhelmed."

"It's okay, Mom. Just pick one spot and clean that and then pick another spot."

I was in and out of the kitchen of course. When we were eating dinner (cooked by Niece) I looked up at the upper cabinets which have glass doors. Everything was so shiny. "Did you clean every single spice jar?"

"Yes!" says my sister, Adrianna Monk.

I turned to my niece, "Does that seem just a bit excessive to you?"

Niece, clearly trying to be gentle with me says, "They were very dirty."

Gary not-officially moved out

So, the last time I saw Gary was Friday evening when he waved cheerfully and said he was spending the weekend with his friend ... the one he is planning on moving in with. He called the house yesterday and spoke to Roland saying that he was going to stop by to pick up his check. Roland said there was no check, and Gary said he would try again another day. I'm not sure what check that is, although it may be his last paycheck from the restaurant.

He still has quite a bit of stuff here, which is why I suspect that he is considering himself as still "visiting" his friend and not moved in. His friends parents have invited him to stay. Their terms are remarkably similar to ours.  We asked for 5 hours or $50 a week. They are asking for $100/month and a couple of hours of chores a week. So I suspect they are taking him in since he is such a nice boy (which is true), and his adoptive parents are cruelly prioritizing birth family and shoving him out the door (which is misleading at best).

My sister, whom I've named "Adrianna" after spending two weeks cleaning my house with her, first said that the friend's parents probably think we are kicking him out. She thought I would be shocked or at least hurt. It is old news. Besides, I don't think Gary really made it that dramatic. He would have just said that he didn't know where he was going to live because members of the "real" family were moving in and there wasn't enough room for him.

I figure it will be a learning experience for the parents. Stephen figures this is the beginning of Gary's "couch-surfing" career and that he will be back. Since he hasn't "officially" moved out, moving back in will be easy. He just has to show up and say it turns out it wasn't going to work out at the friend's house after all. We will let him, of course. Growing up is not easy.

I spoke with Andrew again about the terms for him living here. I told him that if it was in the house he could use it or eat it, but if it wasn't he had to buy it. He also had to pay for his own gas. His "rent" will be paid primarily in planning and cooking our dinners. I may get very, very spoiled for a while. At this point his girlfriend is not "officially" moving in. That is fine with me. I imagine that she will live part time at her house and ours. If she moves in here she has to bring her cat, whom she does not think will be happy here, and since she is committed to helping to care for her younger sister anyway, she might as well still live there.

Brian is doing a litter of foster kittens again this summer. This time it is five kittens with no mother. We thought that would be easier on the rest of the animals.

I'll write a whole post, or maybe even start a new blog, to talk about my mother, but I will say here that things are working out well.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Mom in 30 days (ish)

Yep, Mom's move-in date is quickly approaching! It is final weeks at work. When I am not here, I am working at the house. I know that we have done a lot of de-cluttering, but there is always more. Roland and Gary are going to clean out the garage. I told Roland that if there are any boxes that have been there since we moved in 18 years ago, he should take them to the thrift store without showing them to me. He agreed, after making sure I wasn't trying to make him do the same thing with HIS boxes.

Over the past few days I have painted the bedroom Roland and I are moving into. I really should have just painted it the soothing neutral with white trim that I wanted and never asked Roland what he thought. I asked Roland though and all he cared about was that the room was as light as we could make it. I let him pick the main color: a light neutral with yellow undertones ("Seaside Sand"). Then I tried to do the trim. I didn't like the white I bought to go with it. Then I didn't like the slightly darker neutral that I thought would coordinate well. So then I bought testers of two darker neutrals and picked one. I finished the trim and then when I went to work the next day I realized that I had painted my bedroom in the same colors as the interior of the building. I told Roland that I was very sorry, but I HAD to buy a new color for the trim in the room. When I told him why, he completely understood. So today I am going to buy a quart of a dusty rose color.

I hope I can get that mostly done this evening. Tomorrow evening I am committed to pre-baking pizza crusts for Thursday's department dinner at my house. Everyone knows the state of my existence right now, so I won't be trying to clean the house for them.

Friday I plan to clean the carpet in that room and Roland and I will move our things in over the weekend.

Wednesday, May 16, I have a meeting with the dean, must turn my grades in by noon, and expect my sister and niece to arrive in the evening. We will spend the next two weeks on the rest of the house. Then we fly to Pennsylvania to drive Mom back!

So I have constantly updating lists in my head: lists of things to be graded; schedule for the next three days; goals for the next week; things that will be easy to cook for dinner while my sister is here.

One thing I want to do is get estimates for bath renovation for Mom. The house is 80 years old and we still have the original claw foot tub. I love the tub, but it is definitely NOT ADA compliant.Nothing is going to be simple. There is no alcove. The walls are just painted; and there is a large window that would prevent installing most pre-made units. So I'm pretty sure the options are: freestanding, walk-in tub; custom shower; or a bath with hand shower.

In other news, today is Gary's first day at his new job. He is working in the kitchen in a small restaurant next between the winery and the "fruit ranch" just outside of town. You know the one, right before you cross the river at Lizard Butte.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Rental Agreement

So I talked with Gary, over his 1pm breakfast, about his rental agreement. He looked like he was just barely able to keep from rolling his eyes. When I got to the payment for room and board being $50 a week, payable in 5 hours of course a week he said stunned, "A WEEK?"

"Yeah. 5 hours a week"

"That is freaking lot of hours."

We talked on and I mentioned some things he could do today. "I don't have time today! I have to train from 3-8, everyday."

I took a slow quiet deep breath and did not mention that that was 5 hours, every day. Hours that he is training because he wants to. Hours for which he is not getting pain. Instead I told him that I had a list that Roland had made of things he could do so the chores did not pile up. He did not quite resist rolling his eyes at that. I said I thought it was a good offer, and was actually less that Andrew and Alice were going to be doing. He said, "Yeah, but I don't even get my own room, so what's the point?"

He went on to tell me that he could move in with his best friend for $175/month. He would have to sleep on a sofa, but he could create a private space. It was in the same town as his gym and the community college so it made a lot more sense than staying here. Especially since he doesn't even have a car anymore.

I agreed that it did sound good and asked if he had made any definite plans yet. He said no.

I kept my voice calm and unemotional throughout. In the inside there was another voice being loud, yelling about how the ungrateful little shite has being doing nothing for months and offering to pack up his things and move them to his friend's right now. I don't like that part of me, but it has been trying to get out recently.

I feel badly about being so happy and relieved that he might really move out.

I want things to be better for him and I want to be able to help him to make them better. I just don't think he is ready for that though. He has to do it his own way.

You know that nasty voice that wants out? It wants to start nagging and bitching and fighting with Gary to push him over the edge so he will grab his things and storm out before his friend changes his mind.

I am not always proud of myself.


I have been keeping my sense of humor though. I have just found out about the wonderful "first world problems" meme and have been having fun with it. When Andrew caught me scowling while doing dishes and wanted to know what was wrong I told him, "I'm just so frustrated. I could make Gary's life perfect if he would just do what I want him to do when I want him to do it!"