Tuesday, May 29, 2007

similarities and common struggles

Hi Folks,
Since Dad shared the letter about Gretta Ehret Potter with you, I'm sharing Molly's e-mail, which arrived today, with you, too.
Just so you know we aren't the only ones dealing with such things, especially since Gretta is only a year or two older than Dad . . .

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, May 29, 2007 8:27 AM
Subject: Update-Gretta Potter

Dear Friends.

Thanks so much for all the care and support! It means a lot to us.

My mom is back at the Hellenic Nursing and Rehab Center in Canton on hospice. She is generally cheerful, but drowsy, and elated to be out of the hospital. However her cognitive status is erratic and she is having much difficulty with communication, both understanding and speaking. Also, she is currently in a wheelchair due to weakness and poor balance. (Because of severe short term memory loss, she doesn't remember much of anything anymore, especially why she is in the chair, and so keeps trying to get up. Then, understandably, she becomes very agitated when people attempt to get her to remain seated. Extremely frustrating for everyone, particularly her.) Thankfully she still has her sense of humor and that helps.

It appears the hematoma in her brain from the fall is still leaking at times and so she will probably continue to decline, because of that and as her dementia continues to progress. The staff are very patient and caring with her, and we are all just trying to help her be as comfortable and relaxed as possible.

It's very sad to see...

But in the meantime, we are keepin' on as best we can.

I'll continue to update you as appropriate.

Take care,

Molly Notkin

Family all,
We did have a great weekend together! Everybody pitched in as needed, with food and Dad/Grandpa care. Hope everyone made it home safely. We made it back with stops for gas and munchies by 12:30am. Before Ilana went to bed she asked me to wish her a Happy Birthday, as she was born at 1:06am on Tuesday, May 29, 1979. I did that with a kiss on top of her head.
Audra came to me as we were getting the car unloaded and reminded me I had work in the morning, so I should go to bed and the rest of the family could finish. I took her up on that idea and must have fallen asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.
Now, I have to get back to Sue Blondin who wants to coordinate for the AU reunion in June. Then I have to get back to my AACS classmates about the July event. I am looking forward to both.
Blessings on all of you, us, and them ,

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Howdy all

We'll be thinking of you all this weekend. It's too darn hard to get kennel help for 27 dogs on a holiday weekend, or we'd be there to share in the weekend festivities.
All our best- Mike and Sue.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Memorial Day, Cameras, Pets and Food

Loki can be a bully! That is why Midnight now lives with Doug and Jeanette! But Loki can be banished to the outdoors if he bothers Penny at all. I hope we get Buddy and Penny to be pals. Photos! Kodak moments should be forthcoming.
I do hope you will be bringing cameras and we will have ours. I am sure Doug will be bringing a camera, right, Doug? We are telling the neighbors that the fireworks will be Saturday night, okay with you, Doug? You gotta get up early the next morning.
If you want to bring bagels and lox, we will provide cream cheese-is the house brand okay? As for the lox? Bring 50 pounds just for me, Cathy! Just joking, but I do love lox! Whatever you want to bring.
We will be prepared to reprise the buckwheat waffles with local maple syrup. We will get soda to have on hand, and tuna and bread for sandwiches. You could probably get better deli meat, Cathy, than we can. We will pick up farm fresh eggs from our neighbor. I think we will eat well. We will do the basic hamburg, hotdog, potato salad picnic on Sunday-Ilana does not do hamburg or hotdog, right? So I will get some chicken to grill too 'cause that will work for me too, anyone else.
Bert is not to do ANY work, she worked her ass off so many times for this crew! She gets to sit with Dad and relax or take walks-what ever she wants. Is that agreed? Good.
As for our father, I wanted to share a bit of our experience with him the past few days. The first day we let him sit too long and he was really having trouble moving after that. His first night, he was restless and disoriented. That day he slept a lot in his chair and mumbled incoherently, needed lots of help to get up on his feet and was unsteady when he did get up. We had to push him to get up and move and watch him every minute. Several times he put his head in his hands and spoke desparingly. He got very cold and crawled into bed for a nap at 4 and had to waked for supper. Then this morning he woke alert and was much more solid on his feet, needed less help to get up. We were able to get him in the shower and wash his hair. He was much more involved in dressing himself and much more solid on his feet. And he was his witty and delightful/playful self. I asked him if he had any additions for my blog post and he said "Carol and Barb are reaching beyond every one of my needs. I am looking forward to the gathering of the clan." Later today we plan a drive in the sunshine.
Have a great day y'all! Cya soon. Hugs,
Ilana spoke with our pet sitter last night to make arrangements for Misty. We will bring Penny with us. She didn't puke or have other physical symtoms of distress, only extreme exitability. We are not sure how much chocolate she ate. I think Penny and Buddy will get along. Michael was a little worried about Loki, but I think Penny will stay close to us.
We can certainly bring bagels. How many pounds of lox? Two, four?
Flavors of soda: Cream, Cola, Ginger Ale, Lemon-Lime.
Menu Plans for 12. Hmm. Lasagna, hot or cold soup with veggies or fruit. Hard boiled eggs, tuna, peanut butter, chicken, deli meat/cheese for sandwiches. Let me cogitate and think what else I could bring.
I need a vacation!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Penny and Chocolate, Memorial Day

Oh my god! Penny got into chocolate??! How much did she eat? How long has it been since she got into it? Did she need to go to the vet? Poor Penny!! I sure hope she is okay. When my Greta got into brownies (with Midnight's help I guess 'cause the brownies were on the kitchen counter when I left for work and the empty container was on the floor when I returned home) at the trailer at Foster's Lake she prolly ate 2 or 3 whole brownies. She was pucking and pooping chocolate colored masses all over and she was very ill! She was at the vet's at least overnight and ultimately her kidneys shut down.
ANYwhoo, yes, bring Penny. I look forward to meeting her! I just hope that she and Buddy get along. Buddy likes other dogs as a general rule. Does Penny interact with other dogs much? We try to give Buddy opportunities to interact with other dogs so that he is sociable. How old is Penny and how big? Does she like to play? It would be soooo nice for Buddy if she liked to play with him, especially if their size is well matched. But in any case Buddy has taken on both a Vizla and a Lab at the same time when we met up with them playing at the dog park at Sunsport Gardens in Loxahatchee, FL. He just loves to run and play!
We are excited about being together this weekend too. Glad the whole gang can make it for the celebration! What, if any, special dietary needs can we shop for ahead so that the frig is stocked up? I know y'all need diet soda, any favorite flavors? Saturday we will do the chicken bbq in Branchport. We will plan to do the picnic at our house on Sunday if the weather cooperates. Our local grocery has a bakery with pretty good fresh bagels. Should we stock up there or do you want to bring them? Any particular flavors you like more than others? And of course we will have lotsa cream cheese and some lox, unless you say you want to bring it. Saturday night will be the popcorn night. Should I plan on Friday dinner for y'all? On Monday we can get food at the parade or at The Windmill for those of us who go out or pack sandwiches and fruit. I will definitely keep it simple and expect people to fend for themselves mostly. But I do want to have food here so that we do not have to go out and shop when we can be together hanging out. Yes, we will appreciate monetary help with groceries.
The Baums will have the "bunkhouse" (the larger room upstairs with three double beds) and Bert will get my room which someone strong can help us move the recliner up there for her. (Then she can go to bed early if she wants, close the door and have privacy.) Doug says they will bring the pop-up for them or the RV can be available for them. Doug are you still planning to bring the pop-up or should we get the RV ready? The RV is parked unevenly now and has no access to electric, but if we know ahead we can park it and set it up for somebody to enjoy. Anything else we can do to accomodate you all, please give me a shout.
Hugs all around! See ya soon. Carol
Hooray! I'll see most of you this weekend.
Carol and Barb- may we bring Penny? Will it cause a problem? She's been agitated when she thinks she's alone(like when Michael is in Connecticut, I am at Weight Watchers or Laurie and Walter's, Ilana is downstairs or Bruce is downstairs using Ilana's faster computer to do fantasy sport computations). Also, over this weekend, apparantly she got into Michael's Lindt chocolate cubes. Other than having a sugar high she seems to be ok. In any case, Bruce, Cathy, Michael and Audra, and Ilana (and Penny if it's ok) will be traveling to Branchport on Friday during the day. See you all, soon. The weekend sounds like an action packed celebration! Can't wait!

Doug, J and Ian,
Thank you for the good care of Dad. We will talk on the weekend about a visit to Long Island soon. Where is the psychiatrist that Dad is seeing, in Hornell, Wellsville? Is he covered by Medicaid for visits?
Look forward to seeing you at the end of the week!

Love and Hugs to all the family,

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Kati Graduated, Memorial Day and Fireworks

Well, we DID go to Kati's graduation and is WAS pushed inside and though numbers were supposed to have been limited ALL of us got to see Kati walk across the stage and accept her diploma!! She is the first on her mother's side of the family to get a college degree. Hoorah for Kati! We were able to take her out to dinner along with her brother Kris who just turned 18 (and still has 2 years of high school left to finish, we worry about him, though he has been doing some better since switching schools last year). And Barb got to see Kati for breakfast before the ceremonies. We ended up staying in a motel and probably saved money even with an expensive hotel room given the price of gasoline the gas guzzling RV would have consumed. Tension with Dave's ex has increased and we were all relieved that she let us take Kati and Kris out without coming along. We got back home to Branchport around nine and Doug called around ten to talk about Dad's visit. We ARE going down today to get him and will monitor his adaptation to Lexapro vigilantly. Doug and J and Ian plan to be at Letchworth at a Civil War reenactment. I hope you all enjoy that, maybe you will see our pal, Paul Meier, who photographs such events.
Barb and I are looking forward to having you and yours here for Memorial Day. (Sherm will be touring Swiss places) We plan to support the Branchport Methodist Chicken Barbeque on Saturday so bring $7 per person for that. Anyone want to support peace by marching in a Memorial Day parade on Monday? Or we can just go watch. There is also the birthplace of Memorial Day-Waterloo's big celebration. And we can repeat our visit to The Windmill, NY state's largest farm and craft market. Barb is involved in Network of Spiritual Progressives (go ahead and google that!) in Penn Yan and her group "stood in the park for peace" on Mother's Day. It was quite surprising - we had 35 people participating, and that is pretty good for a small conservative town. Maybe it's a little less conservative than we thought - the group is just beginning to show their heads. The group includes Quakers and Buddhists, Episcopals, Baptists, Wiccans and some who just call themselves "spritiual". Not sure about Jews. I don't think we have any Jews or Muslims in Penn Yan! Have you all seen the new bumper sticker that says "Coexist" with symbols for a variety of religions? We like it and plan to be sporting our own soon. They are available from "Northern Sun". Doug will be sailing on Sunday and Monday with Dick Sands on Keuka Lake. Let's plan to do the fireworks on Saturday night. I want to tell our neighbors, so they can join us. We plan to do the Mentos and Diet Coke thing as the "preshow" while we are waiting for it to get dark. So, all in all, there will be plenty to do, and still find the time just be sit around together and be "family". We're looking forward to having everyone here - and Sherm, I know you'll be with us too, at least in thought. Hope you enjoy Switzerland. We'll set off a bottle rocket for you.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

What next?

Hello again siblings,
About a week ago, after he had fallen just outside the back steps when he went to fill the bird feeder, I had asked Dad not to go out of the house without help, to which he had replied "I don't want to be imprisoned". I responded with "I don't want to be imprisoned by your getting injured and confined even further" or words to that effect. Then, the night before last, he fell while getting out of the tub (again) but didn't call me. At least he told me about it the next day, although it may only have been because he had pulled the shower curtain rod loose and it needed repair (thankfully it could be repaired fairly easily). Obviously his balance and control is getting worse, although I'm grateful that he wasn't badly hurt in any of those tumbles.
We had held off on moving Dad into the RV at our place because we were working on plans for him to go to Carol's, because he wants to be independent, and because I had thought he'd be alright if he didn't try to do too much. Maybe I should have moved him up here sooner . . .

In anticipation of Dad's going to Carol and Barb's this next week and to Bert's for about a month after Memorial Day, I had gone to the pharmacy and gotten enough of Dad's prescriptions to last until the end of June. Then, yesterday, I took him to see a psychiatrist for the first time, and Dr. Neerukonda wants to change Dad's prescriptions, so just as I had gotten Dad to take Aricept (a drug intended to help with dementia and memory loss), he's not going to take it anymore. He also will not be taking Paxil to help with depression anymore (can any of you use about a month's worth?). Dr. Neerukonda also wants to have Dad stop taking Toprol, which is a beta-blocker intended to help with heart function, but we're waiting to hear back from Dr. Coch's office about whether he'll go along with that change. Dr. Neerukonda didn't want to prescribe that change without his approval. He recommends all of these changes because he thinks all of those drugs may actually be contributing to his increasing confusion, and has prescribed another drug (Lexapro) instead. I'll have to be sure I get enough of that to go until he returns to Alfred, and will write up his medication regimen for Carol and Bert.
But now I am thinking perhaps Dad should stay home (and maybe in the RV, up here on the hill) another week so I can observe what changes are exhibited with the changes in medication. Compounding that, Dr. Neerukonda wants to see Dad again in the middle of June, but I think if Dad is doing well, I'll postpone that appointment. I'll call and talk with you about this, Carol.

Meanwhile, on another front, I have stopped aggressively looking for employment, but I have been working with the administration of Alfred University and of Alfred State College, on creating a job for myself, as sustainability coordinator for both campuses. I had written to A.U. President Charley Edmondson, and have now contacted A.S.C.'s Provost's office and suggested that they each create a half-time position of sustainability coordinator. I've also talked with a village trustee about them adding the same function to a part-time clerk position they're considering creating. Then, yesterday, I got a call from the former wife of a past A.U. provost, who runs a used book shop in Wellsville. I had stopped in there almost 15 years ago when she was thinking about selling the shop and moving to Florida, and told her I might be interested in taking over the shop. But then she changed her mind and decided to stay put. Anyway, she called yesterday and told me she's retiring and would sell me the business any time over the next year, but if I'm not interested she'll just sell off the inventory and close up shop. She has a regular clientele and a lease that runs until 2010, with rent of $400.00 a month, and brings in about $17,000.00 per year while operating 5 days a week for 6 hours per day (all but Sunday and Tuesday). I don't know if it would make sense for me to try to do it or not, but I feel I ought to consider it.
Anyway, I'll be in touch with Carol and Barb sometime today (since they were coming to get Dad tomorrow), and will see most of the rest of you in a week.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

mural painting and memorial day

Yes, I agree with putting nieces and nephews on the blog! Count me in.
Today, Barb and I are headed to Roch-cha-cha so that I can work on the Schloss mural again. We will stay overnight with pals, Dave and Rich, officers of Rochester Naturist Society who live in Morley's house now. We will probably get the chance for a dinner or two with them at local eateries. Morley's house is very near the Monroe Ave business district of Rochester where stores range from "Archimage" with world and hippie goods to "Show World" with sexuals goods whilst restaurants range from "Gitsis" home cooking to "The Plum House" sushi bar and Japenese fare and from middle eastern food to hotdogs. I love the area. But I will be in the basement painting most of the time.
This weekend we will be celebrating grandson Kris' birthday and his sister Kati's graduation from Cobleskill with associate degree. Kati plans to continue her studies toward a graphic arts degree in Oswego this fall. We are not sure we will be able to attend Kati's grduation ceremony because it is severely limited if weather pushes it inside, so we are taking the RV to camp out in wherever the family is.
Barb and I look forward to hosting everyone available Memorial Day weekend. Does anyone want to participate in a Peace March with Barb's NSP group on Monday? We are thinking of shooting off fireworks that we got on our way back from Florida, if Doug can be there to set them off. We plan to invite the near neighbors for that. Doug, will you be sailing with Dick Sands that weekend as usual? Sunday and Monday? Sherm, we will miss you, but do enjoy Switzerland.
Hugs to all. Carol

Sunday, May 13, 2007

new post(s)

Doug and all,
I hadn't been here for a while except to post my Swiss flight info. I'm doubly anxious about the trip: I strained my back yesterday morning so wondering about this frail body we shlep around (which of course brings the Dad saga to mind); Mac and I had dinner last night to talk about plans for Switzerland and it wasn't a free-flow conversation. I'm not sure this will work out so well but, hey, I just have to keep it in perspective.

The various posts about Dad evoked a wide mix of emotions. I am so sorry that my stuff at 33 is adding a layer of havoc. I wonder if it would make sense to move it all to a storage facility. Sometimes, I wish it would all fall off the face of the earth but not really. I'm sure in your bleak moments you too wish that ... but only a very short moment: no more than the time to have the thought and banish it.

I don't have a problem with nieces and nephews on the blog. I agree that a new post is more obvious than a new comment even if you have access to the "edit posts" table where comments are listed.

As I said to myself in my diary (but not blog, more below), I so hope that I don't live to the point where I'm more worried about if I'm there than being there. That is, even more than losing my mind, I don't want to lose my way. I was very envious of the woman who wrote in the Times Magazine a while ago about her cancer diagnosis and deciding not to get treated but to find the cabin she had always wanted and spent the last few months writing. My friend Tee also seemed to have control of her dying. As I mailed the newsletters last night at the 24/7 postoffice, there were a couple old guys there. One was at the window, the other shuffled up but was dismissed by the one at the window. They looked more like relatives than partners or roommates. I thought of Dad shuffling around to try to accomplish a relatively minor task, emphasis on the task because minor is of course relative to a whole lot of things. If you lack physical dexterity, getting the fork into your mouth can be a major task.

My level of distraction must be in high gear today. I've drifted off to several other tasks (relatively minor) as I've been trying to write this post. It has severed the relationship to my memory of Doug's posts. Of course that is one advantage of commenting rather than newposting; you can get to the original entry easier ... of course I could save and edit after re-reading. Or even edit after publishing.

Mac and I are going to "American Fiesta" this afternoon -- a play about Fiestaware with a gay subtheme and red/blue states thrown in for good measure. cf http://www.vineyardtheatre.org/AmericanFiesta.htm So I better get cracking on eliminating messages or my email box will be stuffed before I even get to the airport. If you're sending messages during the rest of the month, please send to sherman.clarke@gmail.com which had a bigger capacity.

Love to you all.....

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Should I?

Hello Siblings,
Should I open this blog to our respective children?
Or should I only include them in the cousins blog?
Please let me know what you think.

Also, I understand Sherm will not be at Carol and Barb's on Memorial Day. Will everyone else be there?

How many of you can come to Alfred for the week-end of July 21? That is the occasion on which Dad's 70th high-school reunion will be celebrated. I hope we can all be here for that one. I've contacted some of his classmates and, of course, Hub Watson recently died, so he won't be there for that one. But I have been in touch with his sons and am trying to get the movie of Dad and Hub and Lloyd Watson converted to digital format. I need to get busy putting together a short show for the the A-ACS banquet, to honor the class of '37.

More later,

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Loggerheads, watersheds, or butting heads

Hello Siblings and hopefully nephews and nieces, eventually:
One of my recent comment entries was what I called a pity party and I've been trying to move forward from that, so here's my next attempt:
I'm quite concerned about Dad, right when I had been hoping we had gotten things under control.
It seems that Dad fell off the stool in his kitchen a couple weeks ago. He hit his tail-bone hard and then bounced onto his back and ended up with pain in the ribs on one side. His home aid came in that day but he didn't tell her about it. I visited him and had two meals with him that day but he didn't tell me he had fallen. We were at church and checked on him later and he still didn't tell me he had fallen.
I learned about Dad's fall from Sharon (Higgins) who saw him leaving Jean Snyder's memorial and judged that he wouldn't make it home, when she called me later on that Sunday evening, three days after he had fallen. She got her Dad and Lyle Palmiter to drive him home, and he admitted later that he had sensed when he got up in the church that he something was not right. But he didn't have them call me.
He has heard me say, over and over, that I really want him to tell me what's going on. He says he doesn't want to trouble me but I told him Jeanette and I moved back to Alfred to take care of him and Mom, TWENTY YEARS AGO, so it's pretty ridiculous to "spare" me the trouble. We gave up lots of other options to come and stay here.
Anyway, I arranged for an appointment for Dad with Dr. Coch, but I couldn't go to that appointment, so Claire Randolph took him. I'm not sure what was discussed, and have been trying to get in touch with the Doctor since then, but unsuccessfully.
Ok, so I had drafted this much but not posted it, about a week ago . . . and now there's more to tell: I had arranged for Dad to be seen by a counselor and she has set up an appointment with a psychiatrist in a couple weeks. In the session with Dad and her, I said that it hurt my feelings when Dad didn't tell me about his falls and so on, and she told Dad she thought I made some good points, but he didn't really respond to that. Since then, Dad fell again -- evidently on Monday -- and didn't tell me. When the home health aid came on Tuesday, he told her, but only told me when I happened to call to check on him before she left. She was very concerned and didn't want to leave until I got there, but Dad plays it all down.
Since then, I've talked with Dad more about all of this and how the whole idea is for him to let me know what's going on so I can help him, and reminded him yet again that not telling me makes things HARDER, not easier. I also moved the RV up to our place in anticipation of having him stay in it, so he can be sort of independent, but close enough so I can get things done around here and we won't have to move into 33. We really want to get a bunch of work done on our house so Dad would be able to eventually stay in the "spare" bedroom, by winter, when I plan to have our new bedroom suite (downstairs) done. I hope to get the second floor at 33 cleaned out and refurbished enough to rent out, by the fall, as well (the kitchen plumbing needs to be re-done, our stuff needs to be packed up and moved out, and I'll need to figure out a way to organize Sherm's stuff). Meanwhile, I started tilling the garden (the first time in several years) and am working on our spring cleaning, too, so when Jeanette left work yesterday she picked up Dad and brought him up to "Would Knot on Hemlock Hill" so he could have supper with us on the deck. I turned my back on him for just a moment after I got him upstairs, and he tumbled over as he was stepping out onto the deck (no step, just a threshold) but didn't hurt himself. But that's what we've come to.
Dr. Coch had given him Aricept to help with his short-term memory (which really has gotten almost completely ineffectual), but he stopped taking it after a week because he said it was giving him strange dreams and causing him to wake up at night. After much cajoling, I got him to take the Aricept (just starting yesterday) in the morning, so I'm hoping it will help him stay awake in the morning but help with his memory, as it seemed to be, the first time he started taking it. He is falling asleep in his chair at all hours and has fallen asleep a number of times with a coffee cup in his hand. Yesterday he had taken a mid-morning nap and gotten all confused about time and what had happened.
So, my tentative plan is to get him set up in the RV for now, then take him to Carol and Barb's at least for Memorial Day, and then Bert will take him to Queensbury for a while, and we'll go from there, since we've talked about him going to Cathy's and Carol's for a respective spell, too.
Dad received a letter from Greta Potter's daughters saying they had just moved Greta into a nursing home and that her memory was not so good but she'd love to hear from old friends. I'm working on a similar letter to send to Dad and Mom's and Ethel's friends and our cousins, because it's just getting difficult to even carry on conversations with Dad (at least for me) at times, and even casual observers have said things like "Your Dad has failed a lot this year, hasn't he?". He has brilliant moments, but I figure I may be editing and publishing his books after he's gone, unless the Aricept and the counselor and psychiatrist can help him get some initiative and vim and vigor back.
Anyway, I'd been meaning to post something here for a long time, and waking up at 4:30 this morning, for no particular reason, gave me the opportunity.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

sherman in switzerland may 15-30

May schedule:


I don't anticipate that I'll get into email much if at all. Still, there might be that internet cafe just screaming for me to enter and type .... though I'd probably rather smoke and drink coffee.

Life has been mad since getting back from ARLIS but the conference was good. Atlanta was fine. Daniel, Elizabeth and I had a nice day of driving about the day before the conference ... which seems like it was about three lifetimes ago. We stopped at Wilson's Soul Food in Athens, near the UGa campus. And I quote: "You're from NYC? And you came to Wilson's? That's great." The food was good. The ambience was wonderful. Later, a cobbler and ice cream in a classical revival smalltown bank turned restaurant with glazed terra cotta facade in Madison. The building was lovely, the cobbler was good.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Hey Sibs

I just e-mailed my Supervisor for time off on May 25, so that I may get away to my Memorial Day weekend with my family.
I am in the middle of a discussion of time use, as possible President of a business organization. I hope that it will be resolved before Friday when the day- long, yearly Institute is held.
Lots of things on my plate, including concern for Dad's health and well-being. Can't wait to see you all at the end of the month.
Strength and peace to you all.
Cathy, the middle one