Traces of Paranoia

We moved back to Saskatchewan from Quebec in 1998 and I soon made the acquaintance of an older lady in Saskatoon. In time she became very dear to me, though she lives in another province now. Over the time we’ve been friends I’ve had lots of fun visits with her. We went out for coffee often and I helped her figure out various things.

You see, she’s what sociologists call “functionally illiterate.” Bank statements, bills, contracts, sales slips: she’s brought them to me and had me figure them out — until she moved away five years ago. She finds it about impossible to figure out her (direct-deposit) pension by looking at her bank statement. She can buy things, but has a hard time looking at the sales bill and figuring what she should have gotten for change. Also, she was often suspicious people were cheating her.

This spring she called me up one day, all alarmed because of the discrepancy in a purchase she’d made. The item cost $6.25 and only got back a dime and a nickel (15¢). It really bothered her to think that sales clerk had cheated her. I did a quick bit of math and reminded her of the 60¢ tax on her purchase, which would account for the difference. Ahh! She was happy again and we had a nice visit.

Concepts like health, nutrition, drugs and their use, all needed to be explained in the simplest terms. Different times I went to the doctor with her and translated. She didn’t ask him, because she didn’t want to appear dumb.

One day she told me her doctor had said she was borderline diabetic. “But how can a person be ‘borderline’ diabetic?” she asked me, somewhat annoyed with her doctor for that dumb diagnosis. “I figure it’s like being pregnant: either you are or you aren’t.”

I went for a simple illustration. “Your body’s pancreas, that makes insulin, is somewhat like a well. A well holds so-and-so much water, but when the well’s almost empty, there’s just a bit of water and the bottom is muddy. That’s borderline. When there’s no trace of water or even mud, we say the well’s gone dry.

“Our pancreas gland makes insulin as long as it can, but when it can’t keep up anymore, we’re on the borderline of having diabetes. When the gland stops producing insulin, we can’t digest sugar anymore. We’re diabetic and need to take pills or injections to make up for what our body can’t do.”

That made sense to her.

Before she moved, being almost eighty and forgetful, she was misplacing things, then was convinced they were moved or stolen. “Someone with a key, ” she claimed, “is coming into my apartment and taking things or moving stuff around.”

With her eyesight not being very good, she couldn’t see the normal wear-and-tear until something was quite worn. Then she’d say, “Look what someone did to my blanket. They frayed it somehow. It wasn’t like this before.” Sometimes the intruder would scatter a few things on the floor, just to annoy her.

She was convinced that “someone” was watching — that is, sitting beside a closed-circuit camera somewhere all day — to see whenever she went out. Then they’d come in and do mischief. She started hiding her precious things (she had nothing of any real value to a thief) like her many rings and watches into suitcases so they wouldn’t be stolen. Which made things even worse because she couldn’t remember which suitcase they were in.

I tried to be a helpful friend and hurried to the city several times to help her find important “lost or stolen” bank card, wallet, credit card, etc. Thankfully they’ve always turned up — in her apartment. I’ve helped her replace credit cards when she’s lost them. I’ve tried to be patient and be there (if I could) when she needed help or transportation, even though it meant an hour-long trip to town.

She bought a motion sensor camera to catch the culprit but, though it’s been set to take a picture every minute, saw no trace of the culprit on her film chip. I tried to convince her that people have more to do with their lives than sit and watch her apartment on closed circuit camera all day, but one thing I’ve learned over the years: you can’t reason with paranoia. Fear doesn’t respond to common sense.

She extracted a trace of criticism from what I said, got angry with me for not being supportive, and wouldn’t speak to me for a couple of months.

I was happy for her when, with the help of her children, she moved to a seniors assisted-living apartment in another city and her intruder woes faded away. I do miss her — just not THAT part of her nature.

Fandango’s prompt today: TRACE

Ten More Days in Review

Or: Life in the “I-Can’t-Keep-Up” Lane

Skipping the “time flies” lament, I’ve been occupied with several projects lately: turning the office upside-down — dear Hubby did most of that — emptying and refilling bookcases, and cooking at the Villa.

Last week I did Monday dinner, Tues & Thurs supper, Wed, Sat & Sun all day. Just one of those “seasons.” I only have three more single meals and one full day during the rest of the month. But when I am working so much, the place tends to occupy me even when I’m not there officially. One morning I did some grocery shopping for the place, plus I like to spend time helping the folks to put together jigsaw puzzles. When I go to the city I hunt for more puzzles for us to work on, mainly at Value Village. 🙂

As I said, Bob shifted some furniture around in our office. This started last weekend when we had hot water heater woes. Our hot water tank being in a cubbyhole inconveniently right beside where my desk sat. Desk must be moved. Then we decided to empty the one office bookcase and put it in the living room. Which meant removing the quite small bookcase I’d just put in the living room, and then moving the six-foot one four inches over, so the office one would fit in the newly-made space.

By the time this was done we had books piled all over. While rearranging the office, Bob decided to move his file cupboard (actually another bookcase) to where the office bookcase had once stood, then move his 2-drawer filing cabinet to that newly-vacated spot. The new small bookcase went where the filing cabinet was and my desk was given a quarter turn. On Friday, my day off, I decided to clear out some shelves in yet another narrow bookcase/cupboard because we have more books than places to put them.

During all this and between shifts at the Seniors’ Home, I managed to squeeze in six loads of laundry plus misc. housekeeping & food prep tasks. I also attended Sewing Circle Tuesday morning. Totally fell behind with blogging — and sometimes wondered if I should just take a long break. I decided to “light one candle” this morning and see how far I get.

Nanowrimo started Nov 1st at 12:01 am, but I’m giving it a miss this year. An e-mail acquaintance wants to see his book in print; I was brought into this project by a friend who asked me to edit it. I did that last year, but the book is stalled and I’ve been asked to see that it gets into print via Amazon Kindle Direct, like I did mine. I now have the manuscript, author bio and illustrations, so need to get working on this.

I’ve submitted two of my “Winnie and Raylene on Vacation” stories to the Critique Circle and they’ve been well liked, for the most part. Now I need to polish a few more, write a few more, and post them on CC. I’m finding it interesting, through critique comments, how some words call to mind certain pictures for readers.

For example, in one story I’ve posted, a couple of teens have stolen a car and, chased by police, crashed into a garage beside a residence. Police were at the crash site directing traffic. One writer couldn’t figure how it was crash site because crashes happen on roads. Another critique writer couldn’t get it that a high speed chase would ever go through a residential area. High speed chases only happened on busy city thoroughfares. I wrote “garage” and some people are asking, “Like a service station? What’s a service station doing in a residential area?” So I’m learning to be more precise. 🙂

One question really made me laugh. I’d written that the weather was abnormal in FL and “The odd snowflake was falling when Winnie and Raylene got off the plane in Tallahassee.” A critiquer from Hawaii asked, “What was odd about the snowflake?”

I explained that “the odd —“ is a colloquialism. (Only in Canada?) For us, odd means unusual, but it also means infrequent. “There was no crowd; only the odd person showed up at the Grand Opening.” Or, “She took the odd afternoon off to visit her mom at the nursing home.”

Is this an odd (i.e. strange) usage where you live?

More than the odd snowflake is falling today. We definitely have winter with a powerful wind from the north plastering us with fine snow. Our cats have ventured outside the odd time this morning, but only for a few minutes. They come in dusted with snow and are generally NOT happy.

Well, this is enough rambling for one post. Have a good week, everyone.

Truth Dawns Slowly

When we were thirteen, the whole world revolved around us.
When we were twenty, we worried very much
about what others thought of us.
At age forty, we no longer cared quite so much
what others thought of us.
By the time we reached sixty, we didn’t
give a rip what folks thought of us.
When we hit seventy, we finally realized
they haven’t been thinking about us at all.

Senior Travelers

My husband will vouch for me in this regard. 🙂

With a cheery wave of farewell
we’re off! Adventure lies ahead.
A rosy dawn, a beckoning road,
the time and courage to explore
new spectacles, new vistas grand,
intrigue beyond each bend.

We rumble along, anticipating
amazing sights we’ll see en route,
as we wind through sunlit valleys
and quiet hamlets where
folks behind closed doors
begin another day’s chores.

Arid lands we may encounter
with highway grey, the bushes tawny,
wildlife staring as we pass.
We’ll admire the fertile fields we see,
crisscrossed with tractor trails,
and marvel at the forests rich.

So full of life, so full of pep —
and two cups morning brew.
How soon will we be stopping
for a washroom break?

The sun is bright, the car is warm,
the tires on the pavement drone.
My eyelids start to blink…
twas early I left my bed.
Wake me up when we get
somewhere…
zzz…

Fandango’s one-word prompt today: HIGHWAY

Inquisitive

A Hearty Vintage

Our neighbor down the street’s a hoot
an early 30’s vintage,
witty, spry and curious
despite a little shrinkage.

She’s tasted drought and war and loss
no life of ease was given;
that hasn’t slowed her down a bit
she says life’s for the livin’.

Her husband was the sort to dwell
on everything that’s missing
and thought the world’s a sorry place,
while she claimed life’s for kissing.

She keeps track of the latest news
hears all the gossip cooking;
some folks say she’s seen it all
but she says she’s still looking.

She’ll Scrabble you with awesome words
at touring she’s a pro;
no lazy days in rocking chairs —
she’s off to Mexico.

Funny Hat Woman

🙂
I wrote this poem last Wednesday when the Ragtag Daily Prompt word was VINTAGE, but never got around to polish & post it.
Today I’ll be lazy, give this a tweak and post it as my response to the prompt from Your Daily Word: LAZY.

Boyhood Memory

by Edgar Guest

It used to be fun in the good old days
to rise at the dawn of day
and dig for worms for a fishing trip.
It used to be fun, I say,
for I swear that a robin who hovered near
knew just what we were about,
since he flew to the ground when the earth was turned
and begged us to toss one out.
Yes, it used to be fun to go fishing then,
but Time has rewritten my terms
of what pleasure is — and I never get up
to dig for a can of worms.

We’d sit on the dock and we’d swing our legs
all day in the blazing sun,
and a few small fish on a piece of string
was our ultimate dream of fun.
Then digging for worms was an easy task,
but I tried it a year ago
and the earth seemed hard as a city street
where the streams of traffic flow.
And I’d lost the knack of clutching a thing
that wriggles and twists and squirms,
so I said to myself: “You will never again
go digging at dawn for worms.”

I stuck to the task ‘til my hands grew sore,
I labored and toiled and wrought,
but the worms were scarce and no robins came,
and it wasn’t the fun I thought.
But a small boy said as we walked away:
“I’m wondering, Uncle Ed,
when there’s so much pleasure in getting up,
how can old folks stay in bed?”
I could only answer him this: “My lad,
all experience confirms
the dreadful fact that there comes a time
when it’s labor to dig for worms.”

From Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest
© 1934 by the Reilly & Lee Company

Some of us who have grown old and stiff are finding that it’s labor to dig for any reason nowadays, though ‘nature’s call’ may still rouse us before dawn. 😉
Happy gardening, everyone.

Clunky Old Shoes

The day is cloudy and chilly and I’m not feeling any great inspiration, so will post this poem again. It appeared on my blog back in Jan 2013 and, like the shoe fashion it describes, it can reappear. 🙂

OLD GRANDMA SHOES
Author Unknown

When I was very little
All the Grandmas that I knew
Were wearing the same kind
Of ugly grandma shoes.
You know the kind I mean. . .
Clunky-heeled, black, lace-up kind,

They just looked so very awful
That it weighed upon my mind,
For I knew, when I grew old,
I’d have to wear those shoes.
I’d think of that, from time to time
It seemed like such bad news.

I never was a rebel,
I wore saddle shoes to school,
And next came ballerinas
Then the sandals, pretty cool.
And then came spikes with pointed toes
Then platforms, very tall,

As each new fashion came along
I wore them, one and all.
But always, in the distance,
Looming in my future, there,
Was that awful pair of ugly shoes,
The kind that Grandmas wear.

I eventually got married
And then I became a Mom.
Our kids grew up and left,
And when their children came along,
I knew I was a Grandma
And the time was drawing near

When those clunky, black, old lace up shoes
Was what I’d have to wear.
How would I do my gardening
Or take my morning hike?
I couldn’t even think about
how I would ride my bike!

But fashions kept evolving
And one day I realized
That the shape of things to come
Was changing, right before my eyes.
And now, when I go shopping
What I see fills me with glee.

For, in my socks and Reeboks
I’m as comfy as can be.
And I look at all these little girls
And there, upon their feet
Are clunky, black, old Grandma shoes,
And I really think that’s neat.