Tag Archives: spot checks

There and back again (no hobbits)

And Lo, for she did returneth from the big city, and verily, twas goodeth to beeth at hometh! Twas goodeth to visiteth my sister of courseth. But, she hath no dogs, and verily, I saith unto you, she hath cleaning standardeths which are far beyondeth mine comprehension. Forsooth, for the things that should match, sucheth as towels and sheeteths, matchedeth!  Hie thee to the kitchen, whereth the sink be empty of all and whereth the refrigetator hath only non-rotted produce! Selah!

I know that when astronauts return from a space mission,  they have to go into seclusion for a while before they are re-integrated into earth or something because of gravity and such*.  I can see the value of that as I have been re-integrating myself into life with the Olds. My sister’s house does seem a bit like outer space compared to this one. I think possibly the gravitational pull here is stronger, because when someone sets something down, like, say, a stack of books on the kitchen counter, it seems as though they cannot ever be moved again. At my sister’s house, stacks of things set on things stay there for possibly ten seconds before you are gently reminded to move them. The fourth and fifth reminders are no longer gentle, though.  And subsequent ones–really a little nasty.
I don’t know how my sister and I grew up in the same family and emerged with such opposite ideas about things like housekeeping and being socially correct and wearing matching socks and stuff. Maybe it is because I am the first draft, being the oldest, and by the time she came along so many years later, the Olds had learned more about shaping their offspring into people who could more successfully fit into society. Hahahaha!!!! Good one! Of course that isn’t it. My sister is more socially acceptable because by that time the Olds had figured out that it was best for their offspring to use people besides themselves as role models.

At any rate, since I have been home, I have been suggesting ways in which the Olds could improve their surroundings and mine by living more like my sister. Most of my suggestions have been met with sighing, grumbling, or outright hoots of laughter. There have even been suggestions to me that perhaps I should just “go right the hell back there” if I think my sister’s house is so great.

I have neglected to share with the Olds that I am pretty sure that my sister does not want me back, since I spent a lot of my time there giving her suggestions that were equally unwelcome.  Apparently, kids these days believe in putting each bit of trash in the garbage can as it is made/found. They care about the environment and the planet, but what about caring about their fellow humans? It is much easier on me to wait until I have a nice pile of thread ends, fabric snippets, gum wrappers, and mostly empty Starbucks cups and then throw them away all at once. They really weren’t hurting anyone sitting there on the coffee table for three days, and I felt like they gave her picture perfect living room more of a homey, lived in look anyway.

The thing is, no one appreciates me and my point of view. It is lonely, being this ambassador between the worlds of the neat and organized and the, well, NOT neat and organized.  I am trying to bring understanding and awareness of others, and no one seems to want to hear it.  Just yesterday I was explaining to one of the Olds about how when my sister cooks a meal, by the time it is on the table, the kitchen looks much as it did when she started. This is because she cleans as she goes, which is something that I also do. Well, back when I used to cook, I did it. I think. Anyway, I pointed out that when my sister cooks a meal for three people, the kitchen does not look as though a war has been fought between the forces of good [the counters] and evil [dirty dishes], with evil reigning supreme over every square inch of space. And, furthermore, that even if her kitchen did show evidence of a minor skirmish, that she would not leave the bodies there to rot overnight so that innocent bystanders would come upstairs for their coffee in the morning and be greeted by the aftermath of the slaughter. Seeing that kind of chaos can really upset the serenity of my morning, but no one cares about MY needs. Yea, for I do walk through the valley of death, and sometimes, I would just like to be able to find one clean coffee cup in it.

Like most of my suggestions and attempts at making conversation since I’ve been home, this one was greeted with an exasperated sigh and then a request for me to stop speaking.

I think the Olds did miss, me though, because they both wanted to talk to me a lot when I first got back. This is something I try to avoid most of the time, because the more talking, the more chance there is for annoyance on my part. But, I took pity on them and stayed upstairs a bit more my first couple of days back. Then, the Tasking started, and I realized that it was just that they’d been trying to gently lull me into a warm and friendly stupor so that I would not notice when I suddenly started receiving direct orders one after another. Only one of them really does the Tasking, but it is in the other’s benefit to have me around because then he can devolve his Tasks on to me.

“Tasking” is what one of the Olds does when something needs to be done that she’s decided she doesn’t want to do herself. And, if you are on the same floor of the house when she decides on a task, you’re fair game. Most of the tasks are not that onerous; for instance, I do understand that sometimes people get tired of tripping over the nine pairs of my shoes that I need to keep by the back door.  What I don’t understand is why, if someone is THAT worried about “breaking [their] ankle” or “dislocating [their] knee [again]”, they don’t just come in the front goddamned door.  My time is valuable too and maybe I haven’t had time this week to put away those shoes.

Plus, I try to live my values.  I am more than willing to help carry groceries in from the car and even put them away, except when the reason that the Old can’t do is is because she’s watching her “stories”. That is behavior I cannot enable, even if it means that the ice cream melts all over the back seat of her new car.  Besides, we have a goddamned DVR. Can she not just record them like everyone else in the world and watch them ten minutes later??

Anyway.  Now that I’m home, I need to start paying more attention to their general physical and mental conditions.  When I left, there was a new bottle of Jamesons in the kitchen.  I thought that the one I saw in there last night was the same new bottle.  I was wrong.  I also wondered why they are eating their box of Florida oranges so slowly, until I realized, they aren’t eating them as a food.  They use them as a mixer when they make old fashioneds.   So.  It is probably time for another cardiac spot check.  One of the Olds went to see his cardiologist the day before I left for Chicago, and so I did one the night before that.  He passed it with a really excellent flail and shriek, and the doctor concurred with my assessment that his heart is in good shape.  I think I might have to do another one tonight, just to keep on top of things.  After they’ve cracked the new bottle of Jamesons, they should be pretty relaxed.  Hopefully.

* I would look it up but really, that seems like a lot of work for one analogy, and you have google, so you do it if it means that much to you.

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Keeping up with the Oldses

One of the many responsibilities I have as Keeper of the Olds is making sure that they are still healthy and in [mostly] working order.  And, in spite of the fact that they treat their livers like amusement parks and eat according to the four food groups of caffeine, sugar, red meat, and cheese, they are both in better health than they have any right to be at their age.

Since I live with them, I am well aware of my limitations.  I no longer try to keep up with them in most ways.  For example, I know that I cannot drink their coffee, for I have a human heart that will stop working with that amount of caffeine flowing through it. They are both proud that they stopped putting cream in their coffee years ago, but since I believe they could put heavy whipping cream in what they call coffee and still only turn it a dark, murky brown, I give them no health benefits for this.

I also do not eat the same diet as they do much of the time, because I eat very little red meat, which they believe should be eaten at least once a day.  I also refuse to eat what I define as “cute” meat.  This includes lamb and veal. The Olds, on the other hand, often drive past fields of darling baby animals in the springtime and remark on how delicious they look.  Perhaps if I could drink more than a tablespoon of Irish whiskey at a time, I too might be numb and dead enough inside to feel absolutely no empathy for God’s most adorable, fluffy creatures.

Since they are from rural Ohio and had me when they were about 14 years old, the Olds are not actually that much older than me.  My sister, though, was born when they were around 35, and she cannot keep up with them either.  The Olds like to visit her, because she lives in Chicago and has an excellent wine shop around the corner from her house. Usually, about 36 hours into their visit, I will receive a phone call or a text from my sister, explaining that she is lying on her bed unable to move and believes that she may be dying. Her head is pounding, her stomach is a sea of discontent, and in general she feels as though she has just been on a three day bender with Henry VIII. This is because she tries to keep up with the Olds’s vacation schedule when they visit, which is even more shocking than their regular schedule. It goes something like this:

1. Wake up. Drink nine cups of coffee so as to achieve same effect as one cup of their homemade brew
2. Go in search of breakfast. In Chicago, this usually means doughnuts from Glazed and Infused. Go look at their website. I will wait here for you.
[Did you see those things? They are unholy, unless your religion is doughnut worship, in which case, they are a collection of gods made of sugar and fat]
3. Talk about where to have lunch.
4. Look up menus of lunch possibilities on the internet
5. Go to lunch.

6. Possibly, do some sight seeing or shopping.  Meaning, they usually end up at the wine store buying all of the French wine they cannot get at home.

7. This is exhausting, so they either go back to hotel or my sister’s home and nap for two hours.
8. Wake up, realize is 4pm, meaning is 5pm in Indiana and therefore they may start drinking
9. Start drinking cocktails
10. Get ready for dinner
11.  Go out to dinner, usually at excellent and often quite expensive place. Have enormous dinner with proper wines and post dinner brandy, port, or Irish whiskey.
12. Olds: return happily to hotel. Sleep the sleep of the innocent for a full nine hours.
13. Sister: stumbles home and tries to stay alive
14. Next morning: Olds bright eyed, bushy-tailed, and confused as to why sister and her husband are moving slowly and avoiding loud noises.  Ask them loudly how they are feeling seven or eight times.
15.  Repeat. For three or four days.
Then, they return home and say that they are worried that my sister is coming down with something due to her lack of energy and general greenish coloring.

It is at that point that I have to remind them that not everyone approaches life as though it takes place at a medieval feast with 15 courses and gallons of ale. They cannot understand why that is, and I suppose that is why they are in general, pretty upbeat. Either that, or they no longer have enough brain cells left to switch between different emotional states.

Because of their tendency to excess, I often worry about their cardiovascular health. That is why I like to do random spot checks on their hearts and their reflexes. I often have to change up my techniques to keep them on their toes, but generally, I conduct my spot checks as follows:

I wait until they have retired for the evening. Then I make sure they are finished getting up and down to get a drink of water, going to the bathroom, finding their teeth, taking their nightly meds, and all their other pre-sleep Olden activities.  I can tell when they’re finally settled in because one of them starts to snore intermittently and the other one reads, passive aggressively turning pages with as much crinkling and rustling as possible because he’s trying to wake the other one up enough to stop her snoring.  Once the rustling and crinkling dies down and the snore subsides to a steady buzz, I know that one of them is sound asleep, and the other one is engrossed in his book and starting to relax into a drowsy haze.

Then, what I like to do is creep up the stairs to their open door, stick my hands into their room, and CLAP as loudly as two hands can CLAP.  Sometimes I also yell or whoop very loudly. It depends on how in-depth of a spot check I’m doing.

What is good about this method is that it enables me to check on their heart health, because one of them used to have atrial fibrillation. Usually, there is no episode of that, which is good.
It also allows me to see if their reflexes are still fast enough for them to be allowed to drive, because usually one or both of them scream and fling all four limbs into the air in terror. Also, it proves that their hearing is still functional. All of which I remind them, before running for cover, which I have to do very,very fast since they also still have pretty good aim.

And they read very heavy books.

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