Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The shape shifter

I have heard of shape shifters and now realize that one has taken over my body. That is the only plausible explanation for why I do not have any clothes that I like.

You see, I HATE to shop for clothes. There, I said it. There are way too many choices, everything is priced too high, you cannot get help when you need it, and nothing seems to be appropriate for a woman of a certain age.

Within the next two weeks, we have 5 or is it 6 events where I think I really should look at least decent. Not trying for great, just willing to settle for decent. In the meantime, the weather is expected to completely change numerous times in that same time period. So when I got an email from a store that I really like for 50% off any item I decided to just shop on line.

Trying to select from a 12" screen is probably not how most fashionistas fill their closets. I would try to narrow down my choices by putting in my size, but somehow that left out the sale items. Then I tried narrowing down by the type of item I wanted but then they never had my size. I finally narrowed down my selection and turned to the comments submitted by previous shoppers. Invariably the items I liked the most were only reviewed by women who showed their age as being 70+! Great, I love the fashion of the ladies I serve but that is really NOT the look I was going for.

I settled on three things and before I could talk myself out of it AND because I could get free shipping, I whipped out my credit card and hit submit.

The packages came today.

I tried on the first top.

Looking back at me in the mirror was either my mother or my aunt as I am pretty sure they had the exact same top only back in the 70's.

I tried on the second one, which is primarily red, because I have read that wearing red will give me energy, something I have been lacking lately. With it on the only thing I could thing of was, "What was I thinking?"

The last item was a plain black dress, something I have needed for a while.

I tried it on and moved to the full length mirror in the hall. That's when I realized what has happened to me - a shape shifter has taken over my body! The parts are no longer in the right place, they have all shifted! What was on the north is now at the equator! The south left town evidently.

I wonder if there is way to dispel a shape shifter?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Oh wait, I'm the mother

Over the weekend, Annabel was asked to take care of the neighbor's cats and chickens while they were out of town. It does not require a lot, just making sure to let the chickens out in the morning feeding the cats and the chickens, and then closing up the chickens in their coop at night.

We continue to learn with our chickens what they consider to be night though. If it is overcast the chickens have a tendency to go to to their roosts early. But if you go out the backdoor a minute too soon, they are also willing to jump down off their roosts and come check out any special treats you might have brought to them.

So we have learned to wait until it is completely dark to close the coop door.

We guessed it would be the same with the neighbors.

I always try to go with Annabel to put up the neighbor's chickens as it can seem scary to be in someone else's backyard at night.

On Saturday night she had latched the coop and we both had left the chicken pen area and were just closing that gate when we heard a THUD! Then every chicken in the coop starting squawking, LOUDLY!

Annabel looked at me and her eyes were as big as saucers. I looked back at her equally startled. We both froze. I had heard from a friend about her chickens being attacked by a possum. My immediate thought was that a possum or raccoon had managed to get into the coop and we had just passed a death sentence on all the chickens as they were being torn to shreds by a predator. A lot can pass through your mind very quickly when you are scared.

Then for a brief minute, I looked back at Annabel, wishing she would want to go check it out and let me stay on the safe side of the fence and then I remembered, "I'm the mom." It's very sad that I still have to be reminded sometimes!

I took a deep breath and swallowed, trying to get my brain nimble enough to make an instant decision on the best way to deal with whatever menace was upsetting their chickens. I knew it would have to be swift and I quickly ran to the chicken coop, sure that as soon as I opened the door something would come out fighting.

As I inched toward the latch I took another deep breath and swallowed again.

Quickly I pulled up the latch and the door swung open.

There inside were the chickens, staring back at me, wondering what all the bother was about and really resenting the fact I had disturbed them.

There was nothing else in there but chickens!

I have no idea what happened. Annabel and I looked at each other, shined the light to make sure of what we were seeing and realized there was no cause for all the ruckus.

Who knows? Maybe someone got on another one's side of the roost!

Crazy chickens!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Unexpected kindness

For work, I take my job seriously about providing opportunities to improve the health and well being of older adults in our community. My ideas can be considerably bigger than what we can accomplish but I'm always willing to accept a challenge.

My most recent project's logistics were a bugger to plan, coordinating so many people through so many details in so many places and at the last minute, it seemed like it was all going to fall apart but as I constantly reassure everyone, "it will all work out" and it did.

So while the plan looked good on paper and all the final details fell into place, we took off for our first of seven planned events.

What happened next caught me off guard and rather than appreciation for the work needed to bring this together, instead we dealt with considerable complaints that seemed to beleaguer us at each of the events.

Saturday was the last one and within the first three people who showed up, two of the participants let me know their considerable displeasure with me. My critical mistake? I asked one person their name before the other.

OK, it is my job to deal with these kind of issues, but I'm trying to set the stage for the fatigue I felt at that point. The events had required very early beginnings and rather than hearing positive responses, had dealt with a record number of complaints similar to the one above.

I have to admit that I was weary and ready to finally put this event to bed when the kindness of a stranger touched me in such a way that I must share.

We did Saturday's event in a public place that has its own traffic. I was at the front and mentally noting as each person came in, mainly as a way to determine if they were here for their usual Saturday morning activities or for mine.

One of the younger men that I had seen enter earlier came to my side and asked my name, as there was a gentleman in the restroom who was asking for me. At that point, I had three people talking to me at once, I'm mentally fatigued, but this pretty much jerked my brain to him as I brilliantly asked, "What?"

He repeated there was a man in the restroom that was asking for me.

I followed him with caution and he pushed the door open just enough for me to recognize a person who had come for my program. He was needing help that I could not provide no matter how hard I thought.

The young man who summoned me, offered instead to help and quickly left to go retrieve what this man needed. No questions asked. No thanks anticipated.

He just saw a need, quietly and discretely filled it.

When I tried to thank him, he quickly dismissed it and said he was glad to help.

I did not even get the man's name but he completely turned around my day.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The State Fair of Texas

Growing up I thought our state fair was the only one of its kind. Shoot, Pat Boone even crooned about it and the movie, State Fair, was even filmed at the State Fair of Texas. Central to the State Fair was Big Tex. Big Tex was always the place to meet your friends at the fair, but as the area around the statue grew, you would have to be quite clear on which side of Big Tex you planned to meet.

Each year, all the school children receive tickets and a day off to go to the fair. When I was growing up they even included a bus pass. We went almost every year. Sometimes it would be left up to mom to try to wrangle all four of us on and off buses and making all the necessary connections but we would spend the entire day there. The area around Big Tex became the beginning of the midway, where all the rides and carnival barkers could be found. But even better, around Big Tex is where you could buy a chameleon attached to a string that you could pin on your shirt. I dreamed of owning one of these but wasn't really sure where it would live when it wasn't attached to your shirt. This is also the area where they sold the more exotic items and I loved walking the whole way around the base of Big Tex to see these brilliant offerings.

Some times our family from Paris, Texas would come in and we would all go at night. This was quite a treat and we would spend considerable time in the agricultural displays. One year there was even a two headed cow as a main attraction. But we always made time to go by and see Big Tex and walk through the Midway.

In junior high and high school, our school bands would play in the nightly parade. That proved an even diffent type of perspective and experience. One year I was asked to bring a group of older adults to be the backdrop for a press conference by Medicare. We all got to meet the voice of Big Tex.

As a mom, I wanted to share this with my daughters. We've gone several times, but this year, we were especially excited about going to see the Chinese Lantern exhibit. We were in such a hurry to get to that exhibit that I did not make them stop in front of Big Tex like I have other years to take their picture. Instead we took it in front of the Chinese opera masks.


We had a great time seeing a bit of China in Dallas.

Today has been an incredibly busy day and not until I got home did I learn the news that Big Tex had caught fire and burned. I thought original posts about the fire were a really bad joke as I could not imagine such a thing happening to an icon for not only the fair, but for so many people.

I originally starting writing this post immediately after our trip to the fair and had put it aside until I had time to finish it but after seeing the pictures of Big Tex on fire, I had to finish it tonight. I'm surprised at how sad the whole thing makes me feel. I hope the link will work for you to see this very sad sight. It does feel like fodder for lots of jokes in the future, but right now, it is a part of my past that I hate to see lost. Big Tex goes up in flames

Reports are that the city has assured us that Big Tex will be rebuilt and be bigger and better. Only in Texas!

Friday, October 12, 2012

No respite for me!

Before I was a mom, I thought that parents enrolled their kids in classes like piano, dance, and art to help broaden the child's horizons and skills. How funny! That's not why the kids are in all those classes, as I quickly found out. They are in those classes so the parents can have brief respites!

I'm pretty sure that most parents don't call it respite as that is a term usually associated with caregivers of older adults but you get the idea.

I have to admit, it took me a while to figure it all out. From the beginning of adopting Grace, she wanted to take Chinese classes. The first class she enrolled in, I was so new to being a mom, that I sat outside the classroom, and patiently waited for her. I did not move nor risk leaving the area.

By the third or fourth year, I slowly began to make good use of the time by going to the grocery store and running other much needed errands.

Then at some point, I finally realized I could actually do some things that I would not make time for any other time, like read a book or write in my blog. Unfortunately time and money have a tendency to run out for us and soon there wasn't any type of lesson.

Now I have to tell you, the one exception to all of this is if they are involved in sports. That is not respite because you are outdoors in all sorts of weather and it looks bad if you aren't watching the game!

For both girls though, the time has come to take Chinese classes again, in preparation for us to return for a visit to China.

By now, I am quite comfortable with being a mom and both girls are old enough that I felt like I could actually do some things while they were in class. I love being with my girls, but was really looking forward to writing my blog as well as reading some of the many thousands of books that I wish I would read.

Somewhere along the way, things did not quite turn out like I planned.

Another mom who has adopted from China and whose daughters attend the classes, convinced me that I should take advantage of the free tai chi fan dance class offered for the parents while the kids are in their class. I know how important tai chi is for helping you regain your balance and what a great exercise it provides and the price was right, so I agreed.

I hope this will work so you can see what I am trying to learn. I emphasize the trying in that sentence. This is very difficult to learn but I have enjoyed meeting the other parents and know it is beneficial for me.
So this takes up the first hour of their class and I could have used the second hour to do what I wanted but instead am now taking a class on Chinese brush painting!

Oh my goodness! Instead of respite, I'm actually learning new things! Something went wrong with this plan! I'll put respite on my list for another time.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


In my role as an expert on aging and because I a blogger, I was recently asked to write a guest post on the role of being a caregiver while still having children at home.

I thought about it but a few things lately have made me know that while I might be an expert on aging, I am no expert on caregiving.

The other afternoon I was pulling out of my driveway taking my girls to a babysitting job when I realized my dad was standing on his roof, clearing leaves out of his gutters. I pulled into their driveway, rolled down my window, and reminded him that there were 3 of us who could help him do that and it was quite dangerous.

Yes, he was well aware of that but the forecast called for rain the next day so it had to be done right then. We stayed around until he came back down off the roof, no problem.

So who is taking care of whom?

Friday, October 5, 2012

What is going on?

I had a moment tonight. Not an "Aha!" as Oprah always had. I had more of an "Uh oh!" moment instead. Several things were leading up to it, but I had ignored the subtle warning signs I was receiving.

I must admit that I haven been an authority on several topics or had been until I actually had first hand experience. I easily could tell you how to raise your children until I had mine.

Right now I have been called an expert on aging as that is what I do for a living. One thing that has happened during my tenure as an aging expert is that I have also aged. But what I have found, consistently, is that the term older always refers to the group of people in the next older age group. I know when I was growing up that someone in their 30's were, in my opinion, middle age. When I got to 30, it was obvious that I was not middle age and that surely middle age was more like mid 40's to your 50's. Of course, if you ever admit that you are middle age, then it is just a matter of time until you are older.

Now I have admitted here before that I have personally experienced some symptoms of being older, like when I realized that when my gas gauge shows half a tank, I feel worry. I also now actually factor in the possibility of traffic, the need to park, and walk into a building in planning the time it will take to get somewhere, rather than leaving the house at the time I am supposed to be somewhere.

Anyway, September has been a busy month, I've worked most Saturdays, and in between there have been a lot of softball games for Annabel, so I admit, I am tired. I was so tired earlier today at work, I got on an elevator and could not think of what button to push because I couldn't remember what floor I had entered the elevator on. Surely that is just a symptom of being tired, not being older.

Tonight I had a choice to make, about going somewhere. Here were my warning signs that actually appeared to be factors, not warning signs, in making my decision. First factor: the weather is expected to change over night and the forecast calls for a cold and rainy day tomorrow. Second factor: it might get dark while I was out. See, these are not even considerations if you are younger, weather, time of day, you laugh at them and do what you want when you want. So I should have realized that I was making a decision based on "older" thinking and then maybe I would not have been blindsided by what happened next.

I decided concern over the weather beat out the risk of it getting dark while I was out and jumped into the car and turned on the radio. I'm not used to getting to choose the station, but fairly quickly I found a station playing a song I really liked. I was singing my heart out when it happened. The song ended when the announcer said, "All oldies, all the time". Seriously? The only good music on the radio is on an oldies station? What does that mean? The implications of it all worry me.