Sleepy Joe’s Cafe

I release you from suicide watch, and give you something peppy to lift your spirits. Having spent many hours of my formative years in and around bars and enjoying the music, there is nothing I like better than a bit of zydeco, or rock and roll (not heavy metal NOISE, but really rocking music) or ceildh’s tunes to brighten my spirits when my gaelic tendency to mope gets the best of me.

Growing up, the local pizza joint off Route 1 in Saugus Massachusetts, filled my soul at least once a month as I and a few girlfriends would make the trek on the coldest of snowy and raw Winter nights to shake off the doldrums with silliness. So, while I can’t find a version of John Corcoran and his band singing the what I consider to be bar band classics at Prince Pizza, here goes a fun version from two ladies at the Renaissance Faire:

and, another favorite sung by The Kingston Trio:


I wish there was a good bar band / pizza joint near my home. I miss walking down the street from our rental in Cape Cod and listening to the irish pub music while sitting on the grass and watching the night sky filled with stars.

In the Winter, I have a preference to take Christmas cruises to some place warm and sunny. The music plays everywhere we go, and there are hot and cold running comics every evening when we return from our outings in Aruba, Jamestown, Belize or any other warm and tropical destination we would visit pre-covid. Since I can’t be there, I’ll share the feeling with Sleepy Joe’s Cafe.

Norwegian Risgrote

Rice pudding – my version of Risgrote

I hang out at the MyCOPDteam website a lot. Like the contestants on Survivor, we refugees spend a lot of time discussing food – either what we miss, what we’re cooking, or what we’re eating while we stretch endless time and tight budgets while trying to make life enjoyable.

Let’s face it, COPD sufferers already spend plenty of time being careful and socially distancing ourselves, so filling our time trapped at home with hobbies and cooking that works around our easy exhaustion levels for putting up and restarting is critical to not losing our minds.

Today, I decided to take a leaf out of @JohnnyO’s site posting and try to make risgrote. @JohnnyO lives in Ketchikan, Alaska, so he has months of staples on hand and regularly cooks everything from scratch, so his salmon roasts, biscuits and other recipes are mouth watering reads.

So, today I rolled out of bed and began the Risgrote recipe:

I cut the recipe in half, as a testing recipe doesn’t need to serve four (4) in my household of one (1). It took about 2 hours (with bathroom breaks, ugh!), and I wasn’t sure about using cardamom, but it turned out pretty well.

I think I will still go with instant mashed potatoes vs. this in a pinch, but if someone was selling it commercially, as long as there was no actual fruit incorporated, I wouldn’t hesitate to order it.

Western Stars

This album came out in 2019, just as I was heading home for my 40th High School reunion, so I didn’t get to see it in the theatre as I’d originally hoped. Too much going on, as usual. But, that being said, I’ve been able to buy it through the Fandango streaming store, so it lives on all my TV’s, digitally, ready to be played (and replayed) to my heart’s content.

When I’m too long in my own head without supervision, music helps to ground me and keep me sane. In the case of the post I made earlier, “Grief”, the lyrics of the “Moonlight Motel” really speaks to me about the grief of going on and dealing with grief as a lifelong realty for those who have gone before us. We may be physically separated, but they are always alive in our hearts.

Moonlight Motel

There’s a place on a blank stretch of road where
Nobody travels and nobody goes and the Deskman says these days ’round here
Two young folks could probably up and disappear into

Rustlin’ sheets, a sleepy corner room
Into the musty smell
Of wilted flowers and
Lazy afternoon hours
At the Moonlight Motel

Now the pool’s filled with empty, eight-foot deep
Got dandelions growin’ up through the cracks in the concrete
Chain-link fence half-rusted away
Got a sign says “Children be careful how you play”

Your lipstick taste and your whispered secret I promised I’d never tell
A half-drunk beer and your breath in my ear
At the Moonlight Motel

Well then it’s bills and kids and kids and bills and the ringing of the bell
Across the valley floor through the dusty screen door
Of the Moonlight Motel

Last night I dreamed of you, my lover
And the wind blew through the window and blew off the covers
Of my lonely bed, I woke to something you said
That it’s better to have loved, yeah it’s better to have loved

As I drove, there was a chill in the breeze
And leaves tumbled from the sky and fell
Onto a road so black as I backtracked
To the Moonlight Motel

She was boarded up and gone like an old summer song
Nothing but an empty shell
I pulled in and stopped into my old spot

I pulled a bottle of Jack out of a paper bag
Poured one for me and one for you as well
Then it was one more shot poured out onto the parking lot
To the Moonlight Motel

Homeownership Joys.

Did you notice what’s missing when looking at the location of the kitchen sink leak?

Any guesses?!!

There isn’t any kind of water shut off valve in the area under the sink. Yet another stupid “short cut” decision to save 10 cents when constructing this mobile home monstrosity way back in 1976, before the HUD (Housing and Urban Development) quality and safety regulations were put in place.

My home was built in February 1976 and the HUD regulations were put in place in June 1976. What a difference a few months make.

So, I found this fact out shortly after I moved in here in 2016 and was having flooring replaced. The workers were trying to shut off the water at various locations in order to move the washing machine and other water-use equipment out of the way, and they alerted me to this lovely surprise.

Flash forward a few years, and things are failing as they do, or I am upgrading and repairing before disaster strikes, as I do.

I think I’ve told you that I hate home repairs and construction. It doesn’t mean I don’t take the necessary steps to ward off disaster before it happens, but… I grew up in a 200 year old farm house, so dealing with the mess and the cost of major rebuilds and upgrades is NEVER going to be high on my list.

That being said, though, I hate spending my traveling money on construction. I decided not to deal with the bathrooms or the kitchen in the upgrades I did before I moved in as I was determined to continue traveling as time and funds permitted.

With my COPD worsening, I truly didn’t think I’d still be here six (6) years after I stopped working due to disability, so I held money back from repairs in order to have some quality of life funds and wasn’t just enduring a quantity of life, trapped in my aging and failing carcass. It’s just how my priorities roll – always leave time for fun.

So, having outlived my initial “nobody knows” forecast, along with the estimate of 3-5 years, barring an accident or other catastrophic event, I started my 6th year as of October 1st, so it was time to take more repairs in hand. Especially since the pandemic shelter-in-place was making me crazy, and my bathroom vanity was a disaster of white-trash-on-parade infamy.

Shopping thriftily, I grabbed my discipline, lived beneath my means, replacing both the toilet and the vanity, and ensuring that I paid to have the plumber install location-specific shut off valves for the water.

It’s not as pretty as a diamond necklace or an artistically blown piece of collectible glass, nor as relaxing as a cruise to someplace warm and sunny, but home repairs are what my money is going for this year. And, I don’t like it. Even if I know it’s necessary. Yes, I’m just that ridiculous and contrary.

So, while the plumber was here I got a rough quote of what it would cost to deal with replacing my kitchen sink, and it turns out his efforts to remove the excruciatingly nerve-shattering squeal, were what broke the faucet on my 44 year old kitchen sink.

Now, it wasn’t just the plumber who damaged it. The houseguest (yes, she’s STILL here), couldn’t remember NOT to tug on the taped-in-position rotating faucet, breaking the temporary leak repair I performed.

So, we’ve been living with a bucket under the sink to catch the dripping water. Not cool, but sanitary (since I dump it every few days so that standing water isn’t a health issue).

I’ve been shopping for a replacement sink, vs. just a new faucet, as I want to either cut down on the height of the center divider, or eliminate it entirely so that I can easily soak my cookie sheets after cooking and as part of cleanup.

The options vary from a little over $100 to closer to $500, and some require you to buy your own faucet and drains separately. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

I don’t mind a single, wide sink, but then I think about the convenience of smaller water usage for doing dishes (no, I don’t have a dishwasher), plus the fact that the 6” height sink divider will still be extra wide to allow me to wash the cookie sheets, plus the dynamics of only one drain… will the connection for the garbage disposal have to move? Plus the need to upgrade the disposal switch to a GFI unit since it’s near a water source… then you think about the disposal switch needing to be upgraded to a GFI switch due to that power locations nearness to water… like I said, decisions, decisions, decisions, and every step comes with its own price tag…

When I consider my living situation to someone in a third world country or the homeless camped out along the highway overpasses, I know things could be MUCH worse. But, we want what we want when we want it. And, I’m not Rockerfeller. So, this is what I’m spending my Winter months contemplating. And budgeting. And obsessing over.

Since it looks like I’m still here despite all the challenges, I need to spend the next few years making double payments on my mortgage and doing repairs and upgrades as 2027 is just around the corner and likely to be something I have to deal with if I’m still alive when my income is reduced by $3k a month (yet another 60% income cut, compared to the original 80% pay cut I initially took going on disability and before my supplemental salary insurance policy kicked in).

Didn’t think homeownership joys were going to be my Pandemic project focus, but there are worse things in life…

Navel Gazing

Good morning, all:

One of my team members on the MyCOPDteam website got me thinking. When I grew up, there were no kisses, except for the very rare cheek buss, and hugs or touches were few and far between.

It doesn’t mean we didn’t know we were loved, it just means that body autonomy and sanitation for staying healthy were tied to limited physical contact once you were 5 or 6, able to verbalize your needs, and were encouraged to be a big boy or girl by keeping their hands to themselves.

To the best of my understanding, WWII and the advances made in creating and using antibiotics were instrumental in changing our culture to allow frequent and more familiar styles of touches and greetings from the 60’s onward.

Then you add in the discussion of STD’s, HIV and AIDS in the late 70’s as our sexual mores also got more adventurous…

Next, in the 90’s and onward, you add in antibiotic resistance due to frequent use or overuse for various ailments in the population as a whole…

It kinda makes me think that my crabby, standoffish New England relatives had it right all along. Maybe touch and contact are good, but too much and too close / physically intimate is needing to be called back into proper custom given how easily the corona virus transmits?

My grand niece was born with cCMV (congenital cyclo meglo virus – spaces are usually left out between the initials, but it’s easier for me to remember how to spell out the abbreviation this way). Anyway, she caught it in utero, probably through her mom kissing or caring for her older brother – and we all know what germ factories kids are). As someone who is encouraged to donate blood for immune compromised folks as neither I nor some other members of my family carry CMV antibodies, I’m wondering if this pandemic will finally make us a bit more formal and standoffish ?

My grand niece has little hope of a long life, never mind quality of life, as something as simple as a kiss on the lips between a Mom and her first born can be cited as the probable link to the infection that caused multiple birth defects for our precious little elf.

At 1-1/2 she’s already gone through multiple surgeries trying to keep her with us and thriving, but even if everything is successful, the limitations cCMV have placed on her ability to participate in life as she grows are heartbreaking. Her parents are fighting to give her the best life possible, but I’m struck with the differences between how I was raised and how we raise kids today. Maybe a little physical standoffishness is the better path to healthy outcomes for everyone?

Certainly, not having access to successful and reliable treatments for the corona virus and other ailments prior to World War II made people more standoffish in terms of physical contact. Maybe it’s time to make formality the default? See, these are the things I wonder about as I’m contemplating my navel…

Grief

I am exhausted. I’m trying to be supportive of a friend whose partner is dying, and I’m making a hash of it.

I don’t do well with people who don’t accept reality, and it showed in our conversation again this evening.

R and K have been partners for over 30 years. He’s about 71 and she’s about 86.

While they never married, and she has grown children, those relationships have never been resolved. The grown children are allowed to disrespect R, and it’s tearing him apart as the children move in to their Mom’s home and shut R out of the day to day care arrangements as K sinks further and further into the final abyss.

R cannot follow where K is going, but does not seem to have a plan or a survival strategy for himself.

I’m fielding difficult questions from R as he has wrapped his entire life up in K, and he has zero consideration or support from her grown children as they take over their lives.

  • K’s oldest son lives in R’s home.
  • K’s oldest daughter has cut R off from all bank accounts and bill paying activities
  • K just wants to be left alone to die, and is being ugly to R in the process

Yes, it really is true that we do hurt the ones we love. Especially when angry and bitter about having no further choices in life. Especially when a younger partner is robust as you slowly fade away.

Sadly, R feels conflicted about leaving K’s side, even when she verbally abuses him as the end gets nearer and she’s out of her mind more and more. He’s unwilling to face reality, that the life they had together is done. He is unwilling to move his stuff into storage, or to get an apartment of his own (since kicking K’s son out of his own house is going to be another ugly battle).

R comes to me for comfort, and all I can do is remind him that the woman he’s loved is no longer there, and that she doesn’t want his care. “They are trying to force me to eat and do things I don’t want to do!”, she complains bitterly to her son, so another caregiver is fired to be replaced in a few days, but leaving R to care for K alone, without respite, 24 hours a day for the next 4-5 days, until the next caregiver is hired.

When I suggest that R’s wish to compel K to fight to live *is* forcing her to care about things no longer of value to her at the end of her life, he is heartsore as yet another person disagrees with his care choices.

All the time we’re on the phone, K is screaming his name and demanding he attend her immediately – like the petulant, miserable, demanding soul she’s become.

Anything I say is wrong, which throws me right in the middle of a care situation I want no part of. At the end of the day, she is dying and he will be alone. R must face reality that the gloves will come off the minute K passes, and that her children will not rest until R is out of their Mom’s house.

No matter how this all ends, it’s not going to be pretty. There will not be a Hallmark moment. They may change the locks and kick him to the curb, despite what the will says. They may try and keep his own property, co-mingled with K’s by virtue of their living together since the 90’s.

On top of all of this, my phone keeps ringing with my own family drama.

It only took 40 days, but Auntie’s obituary was finally released this week. 40 fricking days ! All the notes I left with my cousin and my baby sis via email and in the spiral bound notebook have been ignored, so the repetitive calls I keep getting aren’t helping to resolve anything as baby sis is still moving at a snail’s pace to get the court appointment issued. And, I’m still holding the bag for $1,600 worth of expenses that were authorized by one or both of them during the early days of handling Auntie’s affairs. Plus I was “gifted” a poor substitute for the hat I negotiated with my cousin to make me, out of bright red cotton yarn that I purchased in the Fall of 2018, and for which I paid $50 for the simple act of reading the pattern and making me a beanie.

Today, I got an ugly-as-sin beanie (and that’s after I cut off the faux fur pompom), which isn’t even the 2nd hat and colors I negotiated when the first hat wasn’t delivered. This 3rd beanie was purchased off the internet, and while warm enough, is polyester and absolutely not what I was seeking when I originally asked my cousin if she would take the job.

Yes, it’s warm enough, but !

So, as part of my petty bs for handling my own grief, I have to get on the line with the yarn shop in Seattle and reorder the materials I chose to commemorate my 2018 trip, and then go find an etsy crafter to knit me what I requested when I bought the yarn and pattern in the first place.

My kitchen sink is still a shambles. It’s holding together, but replacing it is just a matter of time… I’ve not yet managed to conquer my fear and deal with getting the fan / light connected in the kitchen. And now I’m negotiating with that same cousin about whether or not she’ll send me just the dog portion of the expenses she agreed she’d be responsible for from our Aunt’s estate… without me getting paid back for the entire $1,600 at once, is it any wonder I’m certain I’m going to get shafted by baby sis and cousin?

I tell you all that to tell you this. Grief manifests in many ways, and I am not the best person for R to rely on as our focuses and decision processes are so very different when faced with similar circumstances. I’ll do what I can to help him in any way he requests, but I wish there was someone else who was more nurturing and comforting to help him. Warm and fuzzy I’m not.