Monday, May 27, 2013

Solemn Memorial Day

Dad was in a parade today.  He got to ride around in a car and wave at the piles of people on the sidewalks spilling out into the streets.  He was very excited about getting to be in the parade today and the smile on his face as I snapped a picture showed it.

It is Memorial Day.  I would be amiss if I did not pause here to remember those who gave their all for us:

Dad loves parades.  He always has.  When I was younger, he took me to my first parade in New York City.  I remember the people and I remember Dad lifting me up and putting me on his shoulders so I could see the marchers.  We went to other parades after that one.  But there is no parade as grand as the first one in my memory.  Dad used to take me to parades.  Now I take him.  [But this parade, I didn't take him.  I took pictures of him in the car with the flag waving to the crowds].

sapphoq on life  

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Jesus in the Desert

I was living in Baton Rouge across the street from Louisiana State University [L.S.U.].  Our building was a long two story affair with many loft apartments in it.  The front of the building was taken up by a barber shop and a small bar.  The locals knew the building as "The Ghetto."  I lived in a loft apartment [one room with a kitchenette and a bathroom] on the first floor.  Each apartment had its' own entryway facing outside.  There was no common hallway.  What we had was two alleys.  I lived on Drug Alley.  The dealers would cut through from the parking lot by the cinema.  There was never any lack of drugs.  I didn't have to leave my stoop.  I would open the door and wait for a drug dealer to show up.  Reefer was the most common but I took anything that anyone had. 

One evening two men wandered through.  They both had long hair, white robes tied with rope, sandals, and walking staffs.  The dominant guy said he was traveling around like Jesus did.  The other guy was his disciple.  They were living a Christian sort of life like Jesus did.  They had started out in California and made their way through the Arizona desert, then on through Texas and now here they were.  Us druggies conferred [all of us who had loft apartments at The Ghetto were party heads].  There was an empty apartment up Drug Alley.  We put Jesus and the disciple there for the night.  They got high with us and seemed to be happy to have the use of the apartment.

Later on that night, I got a chance to speak with the disciple alone, without Jesus.  "So, you really into this?" I asked.  The disciple shook his head.  "No," he said, "I just didn't have anything else to do."  I nodded.  I figured that at some point the disciple would split when he got tired of the robe get-up and tired of the Jesus dude.  Perhaps when they got to Florida or somewhere that the disciple would decide to stay for awhile.  Or perhaps a pretty woman would befriend the disciple and want him to stay awhile.

The next morning, Jesus thanked us for the hospitality and they were off on the road again.  I have not seen either Jesus or his disciple since.  I forgot about them until this morning when the memory came back.  I had put a sort of Jesus in a skit that I wrote.  Only my Jesus was named Hasus and he was more likeable than this particular Jesus was.  Hasus didn't have a false ego that required stroking.  The memory got me thinking:  What happened to Hasus before he showed up in my skit?  Perhaps sometime I will revisit the skit and make an extended story about Hasus and his history.

sapphoq on life  

Monday, May 20, 2013

Sirius Update

Sirius is growing and has gained a bit of weight.  He has now had all of his shots.  The vet reports that he is healthy and alert with a very high play drive.  Sirius has several cat toys in the shape of mice that he seems to prefer over all of the others.  He will pounce on them and bat them around.  He has a shoelace that he will carry around from time to time.  And he likes to play with the "birdie" which is attached to the fishing pole.

Sirius has several tricks which were self-taught.  He fetches when he feels like it.  If I throw his string toy and he feels like fetching, he will run after it.  Then he will pick it up and run around the coffee table, coming up behind me in order to drop the string toy by my hand.  He stands on two legs and then jumps.  He knocked a bathroom towel off of the rack using this technique.  He also ripped off a sheet of toilet paper and tasted it.  [Sirius spit it out when the taste of the toilet paper did not please him].  Sirius can run up and down a ladder leaning against the wall with no difficulty.  He enjoys this and has posed on the rafters before coming back down and then dashing madly about the cellar.

Sirius continues to run after Bramble the older cat, jumping on him and using his mouth to give kitten play nipsBramble for his part yowls loudly when this happens.  At times, Sirius will hide in the bathtub and wait for Bramble to meander along.  When he does, Sirius will jump out in surprise.  Sirius will also bunch himself up like a Halloween cat and jump sideways away from Bramble.  Both felines have run into the "tunnel" together and then rolled themselves and the tunnel around on the floor.  I've caught them sharing windowsills and nap spots together.  Sirius has learned that Bramble is [also] entitled to human lap time.  

Sirius loves Blondie, the older dog.  He inspects her paws and bats her tail around.  She sniffs at him.  Blondie will block Sirius from Bramble when she thinks he is getting too rough.  She encourages Sirius by making the dog sign for play.  Blondie has corrected Sirius for getting too close to her supper dish, although she does allow him to drink from the water bowl next to her when she is eating.

Sirius will follow us around and will allow us to pick him up and cuddle with him.  Unless he is hellbent on playing with Bramble, he settles in nicely with a loud purr and a few kisses.  Sirius and Bramble enjoy nap-time together on the bed in the afternoons.  At night, he can be found in my hair or under the covers with me when he is not stretched out at the foot of the bed.  Both cats will sometimes retreat to the living room together during the night.  They spend early mornings in separate baskets situated near the back porch windows for a session of bird-watching. 

Sirius has been a playful and affectionate addition to the household.  He is the cute one and he knows it.

sapphoq on life

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


I hadn't thought about Ben in decades.  Saturday, a friend said something and suddenly a few memories of Ben dusted themselves off and presented themselves to me.  Who was Ben?

Ben was a co-worker.  He had a leg in a brace.  I remember he used to sit on his desk chair [it had wheels!  I no longer do chairs with wheels...] with his braced leg extended out.  He was from a small town known for its' small town college and a fair amount of drinking.  Ben didn't seem to drink very much.  [Well, no one there seemed to drink nearly as much as I did...].

I was a quiet person back then.  I hardly said anything to anyone.  I didn't talk unless it was part of the job.  I was not given to small talk.  I didn't want work friends.  I was living on a relative's farm and after working hours, my life was dominated by cows and chickens and huge snowbanks and freezing pipes.  The farm was up in the mountains.  The company was dominated by city folk.  City folk were noisy and nosy and not very nice.

Ben decided that he was going to give me pep talks.  He didn't want me-- it wasn't that kind of a thing.  Or if he did, I didn't notice.  Once every few days or so, I sat in his office with him in order to do his version of "hanging out."  And Ben would talk.  He talked about his brace.  He talked about his small town.  He talked about the small town college in his small town.  I nodded.  I let him talk.  I thought to myself that at least it looked like I had sort of a work friend.  But I didn't feel any connection to Ben.  I let him talk anyways because after all, the half hour or so that he was talking I wasn't working.  And not working was preferable to pretending that I was working.  I didn't have a whole lot to do at that job.  And I wasn't good at pretending that I was working when I ran out of things to do.  Which was often.

One time the boss asked me if Ben was "bothering" me.  The question confused me.  "No," I said.  "We just take a break together once or twice a week.  That's all."  I suspected that the boss wasn't completely satisfied with my answer.  But I didn't know what to do about that so I did nothing.  And so I sat in Ben's office once or twice a week and listened to him expound upon his brace, his small town, the small town college in his small town.

I'd forgotten Ben for several decades.  When I left that job, I didn't look back.  Ben was forgettable.  And I suspect that I was forgettable too.  Ben was small town.  I was farm.  Them other people were citified.  I wasn't like them and they weren't like me.  I wasn't really like Ben either.  Being so different from the others around me bothered me then.  I never admitted that to anyone back then.

Being so different from most other people doesn't bother me now.  After awhile, a person can get used to almost anything I guess.

sapphoq on life     

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Free Tags-- rightclick and save to your computer-- Use As You Will

Anonymous is not your personal army.  Nor is Anonymous my personal army.  Anonymous is not for hire.  Here are three tags for the taking and using.  I've run into folks who have needed reminders of this.  Perhaps you may have also.

 Heroes by definition are responsible.  Here are two tags for the taking and using.

 And finally-- attention whores hang out among the radicals and activists like maggots.  Here are two tags for the taking and using.

That's all for this post.  Sail Strong.

A small note to whom it may concern for whatever reason the concern has come into your being:  I made these tags with the fonts included in the digital art program that I use.  The background in the first three tags is taken from and modded from a photograph that I personally took with my cheap digital camera.  The tags as my personal creation I consider to be copyLEFT.  The phrases are not copyrighted.  If you are one an obnoxious copyright trolls, you are not welcome here.  So go away.

Monday, May 06, 2013


Confabulation in dementias [and several other neurological conditions as well] is the tendency of the brain to fill in the gaps for a faltering memory.  Last week, Dad's was in full bloom.  We went to the neurology clinic at the V.A. for a routine exam.

Dad has been extremely angry at the dentist-- specifically at the receptionist.  Several of the fake teeth had departed from his partial plate, necessitating that it be brought to the dentist office for repair.  Because the repair required welding, the broken partial and the separated "teeth" had to be sent out to the lab.  Because the whole mess had to be sent out to the lab, there was a charge of $160 dollars.  I was able to return the repaired partial to Dad four days later.  Things got dicey after that.

Dad's view on bills-- excepting his rent at assisted living-- is easily summed up by the words, "I don't owe them anything."  Occasionally for variety's sake, the words change to, "I can't afford it."  Dad's words concerning the dental bill were, "That should have been free.  I ain't paying it."  Dad's anger at the receptionist in particular has been of epic proportions.  He wants to tell me about it at length pretty much every time I see him.  Dad wants the partial to be fitted better to his mouth which translates to he wants to go to the dentist.  I have to find him a new dentist.  Although our dentist is still willing to see Dad, I can envision disaster happening.  Dad showing up at the dental office would not make for a pleasant surprise to the receptionist that he screamed at over the phone.

I prompted Dad to tell the neurodoc about the incident.  In actuality, Dad had called the dentist's office [because unfortunately some days he can dial phone numbers] about the bill.  This particular call quickly evolved into a one-sided screaming match.  Words on Dad's end of the call were things like, "I did not have the partial for four years,"  "I don't owe you that,"  "I'm not paying it," finishing with "Who are you to decide how much I have to pay?"  

In Dad's version of events to the neurodoc, it was clear that he did not remember how much the bill was for.  "Forty dollars," he told her.  He did explain that the receptionist somehow had set the price of how much he should pay.  Naturally, since I had described his anger as bordering on the psychotic range of things, Dad was perfectly calm when talking with the neurologist.

Prior to talking about his partial, I prompted Dad to tell the neurologist about his pants.  Or rather, his imposter pants.  Because the pants that Dad insists upon wearing every day are in actuality his pants which were purchased for him several years ago.  Dad explained to the neurodoc why he insists upon wearing only the one singular pair of pants which are ripped and now growing a hole in a most inappropriate place.  "A man that used to live at the home stole my pants.  He died.  The staff gave me his pants.  His pants are too big for me.  This was the guy that died before the last guy who died."  The neurodoc had to check, "Does he have other pants?" she asked me.  "Oh yes."  Not only that, they are still decent looking from lack of constant wear.  Dementia-- what a wonderful drug. 

My dad was always a sharp dresser.  He still tries to be.  But things don't work out that way anymore.  It takes more effort now for Dad to remember how to do things.  His co-ordination is not what it used to be.  Thus, achieving the well put together look now escapes him.  And he absolutely will not ask for help with anything at all.

I cannot explain why Dad will only wear that one pair of ripped and torn pair of pants.  Nor why he will only wear a particular pair of shoes.  [I am glad that the assisted living place does laundry twice a day].  Just as soon as his money situation is straightened out, I am going to buy Dad five or six pairs of pants of the exact same make, model, and color of his current favored pair.  Then his favored pair will be-- ahem-- mysteriously shredded beyond repair in the washing machine.  It's called therapeutic lying on the forums.  Much as I despise dishonesty, dementia sometimes insists upon it. 

But I can explain the filling in of failing memory with random untrue snatches of supposes.  Confabulation is what happens when a demented brain is confronted with a blind spot in a narration.  The perceptually impaired brain learns to fill in the missing visual component much like the demented brain manufactures new quasi-memories that never happened.  There is a blankness.  The brain says to itself, "Oh crap.  We can't have that."  And boom.  Bits of visual information rearranges itself.  Or bits of new versions of events emerge.  Dad believes the confabulations.  The essence of confabulation is that it is not conscious lying.  And that is the hell of it all.

No one can argue a demented person out of their confabulations.  It does not work.  It may be almost cruel to try.  Confabulation sucks for the family and friends who remember the demented person before they "got this way."  As badly as all of this has sucked for me, my dad is the one whose functioning continues to spiral downwards until a guaranteed death. 

After the neurology appointment, it was time to leave confabulation and Dad's failing brain alone for a time.  Dad and I went to a small diner.  We sat and ate a leisurely lunch.  Dad enjoyed his chili.  I tasted it.  I said, "This reminds me of the chili we used to get at the ski lodges."  Dad smiled then.  "Yes it does."    

sapphoq on life