Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Greek Tragedy at the Nursing Home

Several years ago my SIL made an analogy as to how daughter Julie and I often interact verbally and physically, especially when times are tense: we act out Greek tragedies in our communication with one another. She was so right on.

The drama at that time was about how Julie was not being careful enough while drinking a soda, thereby spilling it on herself and the floor. I chastised her, and Julie retorted in kind, scoffing at my concern.

The analogy my SIL acted out, interspersed with a Greek Chorus humming in the background, still makes me laugh. Good for the soul to laugh, but also tragically sad. But if one can't see the humor in life, that is sadder still.

So here is my latest Greek Tragedy, soon to be on Broadway (yeah, not likely) of Julie and me playing out yet another little drama in our interactions. We were at her residential facility yesterday afternoon when this newest scene occurred.

Short Synopsis of Play: Main Character, Julie, a middle aged adult woman, feels misunderstood and dismissed since her husband died and she has left the ancestral home she and her husband built together in South Carolina

Stage Set: The Garden Room of a local nursing home, several people in wheelchairs in a large open room with windows looking out onto a grassy area, locked in by doors opened only by ambulatory people with authority that hold special keys to the outside and unsafe world

Characters: Julie, her mother (me), nursing staff and other residents; unseen character is a scheduler on the telephone

Scene I: Julie is in her wheelchair, legs stretched out in front of her on leg rests, draped sheet in place over lower part of body. She sits at a sturdy card table, her wheelchair alongside table at an angle. I sit in a chair beside Julie, knitting bag containing lunch, water bottle, cell phone, and knitting accouterments scattered about on table. A few other patients in wheelchairs, dozing or just sitting, the room is large with no activity now scheduled

Room Atmosphere: Quiet, patients being wheeled to early lunch, or patients milling around the nearby hallway slowly making their way to the dining room. Ambient social noise in background

Dialogue Begins with Nurse, walking towards me: “Could you come to the phone to answer questions about a prior surgical procedure performed in South Caroline? The scheduler is needing some questions answered and maybe a signed consent.”

Me: “Be right there.” (putting down knitting project and rising from the chair)

Julie: scowling, acting offended, muttering quietly under her breath

Me: Walking twenty feet over to the phone and saying, “Hello, this is Nancy, so glad you are scheduling her for a consultation. You need a consent form signed to obtain hospital records from which physician? We have been through all this many times over the summer, and records are all over this town. Yes, yes, I do hold Power of Attorney for Julie. Yes, we can get this done fairly quickly.”

Scheduler on phone speaking unknown dialogue, me listening.

Me: “Let's call the (insert name of hospital) and just have them faxed over. What? You need ANOTHER consent form signed? All, right, the fax number is (insert numbers after hailing down a nearby nurse on her way to fix another patient problem and on whose phone I am speaking)...”

Julie: wheeling over to the nurses' station, looking even more aggravated, scowling

Me: trying to ignore Julie and concentrating on what the scheduler is trying to relay on the phone

STAGE RIGHT: Enter two nurses who have come over to the telephone/station where I am seated. They are looking concerned, hearing what is going on from their approaching vantage point and appalled that now both Julie and I have invaded their work area; nurses' eyebrows arched as they listen to our conversation

Greek Chorus: tuning up with indistinct chanting in background

Me: hanging up phone receiver, informing Julie of the date of the appointment, rising from the chair to return back to the Garden Room

Julie: (with raised voice) “WHY did she not ask for ME to schedule the appointment? Why did YOU talk to her? It is MY appointment!” (implying that Mother is interfering)

Me: (backpedaling, glancing at a small group of observers now gathered at the nursing station, both staff and patients. my voice raised): “Probably because there needs to be coordination of efforts concerning how to get you there, whether you need to be prone or in your chair, and because I would like to be there with you and you do not know my other calendar conflicts.” Way too much disgust in my voice and attitude at this point... implying that “here we go again” I am now behind Julie's wheelchair, trying to exit Stage Left

Julie: as I am wheeling her forwards “It is MY body and MY concern, so why wasn't I asked about it instead of YOU?!” Julie's body language is now of extreme consternation and she begins to cry; slowing the cries rise to a crescendo of wracking sobs

Greek Chorus: rising in volume, inaudible mumbling with sing-song background chanting

Me: after rising from the chair by the telephone and getting behind Julie's wheelchair , now pushing her onward and back toward the Garden Room, barely avoid a crash collision with another person in a wheelchair who has now made her way to the nursing station to catch the drama

Greek Chorus: continuing in background with small gasps, sighs of resignation, humming to the tune of “Oh, Me, Oh, My, What is Now Going to Happen?”) ....sound of drums beating slowly along with the low murmuring and humming of background noises. Chorus continues...

Me: Now back in the Garden Room, vacated by staff and patients, talking to Julie the entire time, trying to quieten her sobbing, saying “We all love you and want the best for you. It is hard to coordinate all efforts made in your best interests. I know your life has changed dramatically since the death of your husband, and the change has affected my life as well.” (Talking perhaps too loudly for emphasis)

Julie: “I just feel like I do not have control over anything anymore. When I lived in South Carolina, I made my OWN doctor appointments.” Wracking sobs given by Julie, Chorus grows louder

Me: “Yes, but that was THEN. Now you live in a place where all efforts need to be coordinated as far as transportation and yours and my life all need to work together.”

Chorus in background: “yes, indeed, yes indeed” (sung in a three note cadence, two beats up, one beat down) “YES INDEED YES INDEED” repeated three times

Me: “Are you OK, are we good now?”

Julie: sniffing, wiping nose with back of right hand, sniveling

Chorus: chanting, “Mother was Wrong, Mother was Wrong!” Chanting slowly and softly fades into background...”mother was wrong, mother was wrong”

Julie: feeling wronged, giving up the sobs to quietly playing Word Chums on iPad...

Me: slinking off after giving her a kiss, feeling miserable having made this scene occur, having felt like I have done her wrong by trying to do right by her..feeling embarrassed by all this fuss...

Chorus: fades from chanting into ambient background noise...


Post Script: Activity Director reports later that Julie was acting happy, engaged with dominoes with other residents, relishing the cheese and crackers snack within half an hour after my departure from the scene of the drama. Go figure.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Brush & Palette October Demonstration

With the 2015 Brush and Palette Fine Arts Show paintings creating a Hollywood backdrop (89 entries) on the Grand Junction Art Center walls, Ann Kurz Chambers took center stage with her demonstration on October 15, 2015.

A multi-faceted artist with a published book of wildflowers, cranberry products, and more, Chambers showed how to create landscapes with oils on pieces of wood previously gessoed with a white background. 

Her creations are unique, and she paints quickly, proficiently. She emphasized that all art supplies and items are conserved, no matter the age of oils in tubes. She returns to her paintings that have been long neglected, perhaps laying against a corner of her studio, and fine tunes them in multi media ways using gesso and layers of paper or found objects. 

Chambers often uses hardwood by-products supplied by her son. Most of the wood provided by her son is special Engelmann spruce wood that he uses in his violin making.

Recap of Chambers’ demonstration:


oil paints, turpentine, turpentine in spray bottle to retain moisture on surface, Liquin, panels of wood, fiberboard, canvas, canvas board, masonite, gesso, brushes, rags, protective gloves


  • Apply several layers of gesso to chosen surface object
  • Apply the layers several times, laying on more gesso in the opposite direction of the prior layer
  • Sand lightly after each gesso layer has dried
  • When background is to your liking, apply oils (saturated with Liquin for ease of application and to aid in drying)

Several Finished Chambers’ Objects:

Thursday, October 1, 2015

One Stitch at a Time

It just occurred to me that I have not yet shown knitting progress on a kit I purchased soon after Julie and I returned to Colorado in May.

That month of May in South Carolina was a complete wash in terms of knitting. Even if there had been time to sit down and knit, there was not a whit of concentration left in my frazzled mind.  So just as well that my hands had a break from the needles.

During June, I finished one of The Yarn Harlot books.  A story she wrote stuck with me when she talked about a woman in her circle of friends who took on the daunting task of beginning to knit a blanket, a huge one.  The woman in the story decided to begin this project while in the midst of several personal crises, including severe depression and the break up of her marriage.  McFee, aka The Yarn Harlot, went on to write that this woman, stitch by stitch, finished one row and then another, day by day, week by week. Lo and behold, after a year, the blanket was completed.  Somehow, the working of the project, the clearing of the mind, that entire process of making a blanket required a different sort of concentration of efforts.  And it resulted in more than just a finished blanket. With the ending of that enormous knitting effort, her depression had lifted and she had made important decisions, including one to end her marriage.  What determination she had.

Back to my tie-in and identification with the woman who undertook that blanket project.  No, I am not leaving my husband. But I did decide to order from a Norwegian designer who had put together kits for the most determined of knitters.  Those who had knit up this daunting project took months to complete it, according to their notes on Ravelry.  So I took the mental plunge back in June and bought the kit, knowing I would eventually complete it because I must finish what I start... a compulsion.  It may take a while to complete, but each completed stitch will work toward good mental health.

So this is the Promenade Shawl now on the needles, started in June:

But then I got distracted with other projects, like knitting up Julie's acrylic shawl just in time for cool weather.

She wore it yesterday on her Wednesday visit to our house.  Her aide helped to choose the dress from her closet to match the shawl, and got her ready.  Julie was all smiles when Dennis delivered her to our curb.  Gene made guacamole and tacos at her request.

Joining in with Ginny and her Yarn Along!

Julie and I took a leisurely wheel over to the hospice restaurant again this week. After thinking about the Ezra book and praying about the situation, it went much better than our first outing there. Thank you all for your kind comments about the Very Busy woman, by the way.  (And no, I have not heard from Her again.)

Here we are in the sun before our lunch.  A kind gentleman snagged from a nearby bench was the photographer.

Recipes tried this week: Beer Bread, and Rosemary Bread, thanks to Stephanie who blogs here.  Ya'll have a good weekend!