9.01.2013

The little family that moved into the neighboring rental after Jewell&Deaven's group departed were not there very long. The mother complained that nothing was repaired, the place was a shambles, and they packed up and moved unexpectedly and overnight only a few weeks after moving in. The place sat empty for six or eight weeks. Then ten days ago a crew of laborers swept through it, hammers and saws banged and rasped day and night, and I awoke yesterday morning - 5:30! still dark! and a Saturday! - to a cacophany of shrill echoing excited little-dog yelps and barks that lasted for an hour. At some point I did get up and close the window, but the pitch of the barking was such that it penetrated anyway. The walls. My skull. Later in the day while moving sprinklers about I noticed a flat-bed trailer laden with rolled-up carpets and upended tables and chairs parked in the driveway there and heard the barking again, now muted, from within the house. At some point the trailer was emptied and everyone vanished.

They're back now, this morning, late, and so I guess they're moving here from somewhere far away - Los Angeles, maybe, or Portland, or Boise. The dogs are barking in the delirious and anxious way small dogs do. I finally see them. I was guessing Shih Tzus but they seem a little thick and closely clipped for that. White. Two adults and three pups. Five disoriented Shih Tzus. In the chain-link-fenced concrete-floored enclosure. Next door.

"Maybe they'll give us a puppy," I said to husband. He was sleepily preparing his first cup of coffee. It took a minute for my words to sink in. He expressed alarm.

***

I've started reading a novel by A. S. Byatt. The Children's Book. Three halting pages in I finally have to stop altogether and look for the dictionary. How my vocabulary has shrunk. I love how Byatt's vivid worlds consume me. Yet I must stop once per page, at least, to look up and note down words that probably are commonplace in her milieu.

The terminus of an arch. I think I know what that is. Kobold figures - no. (I find the dictionary. And remark how few words there are in English, apparently, that start with the letter 'k' . . .) I love holding this heavy cloth-covered volume with its clean ivory pages deckle-edged and dust jacket newsmooth and cool in both my hands. And I don't mind having to dredge up my Webster's from deep within the bedside midden. Still, I sigh to think of my Kindle with its helpful cursor that generates in the margins automatically the definition for any word it stops at.

We forge ahead.

8.25.2013

Ah! Here is the great old keyboard, its '1' key gone missing
somewhere in the compost of bedside detritus
accumulated in the months of its neglect.

Oh frabjous day! the brilliant wallpapers
blossom and fade across the screen -
wedding revels and lion prides, sunsets and seas
and lipstick prostitutes leering from littered sidewalks
- vivid images I acquired by casting wide my inter-net
in years and years of my old illness

so that now, so much weller am I and able again to be
and move in the world of actual things and animals and air,
I can meditate and marvel at the grandeur of a world
that has such cameras in't.

***

Working very hard with others during recent weeks to conduct a week of extended hours - 9 to 5 instead of the usual anemic noon to 4 - at the Friends of the Library bookshop we've made. This was meant to seduce the late summer passers-through to spend their money here, and the first day or two it did so, but then the doldrums set in, we drifted into the midweek horse latitudes of a crossroads village people speed through on their way to somewhere else.

Thursday we had a terrific thunderstorm that knocked out power, and confusions and ignorances kept the shop doors locked all afternoon and customers were turned away. I felt such frustration and remorse for lost revenues I opened alone on a Saturday, yesterday - not in the shop, which can't be open if the library is closed, but in the little trailer back behind where we practically give away the dowdier volumes ("a buck-a-bagful"), and I stayed there on my own from 9:30 to 3, lugging about great heavy book boxes as though I were a longshoreman or something and not a grandmother with basal joint arthritis, and we made 17 dollars.

So today I stay flat in bed again, and read and read, and later catch up my internet bookshop and the internet bookshop of the Library Friends. I flex my stupid old muscles that are not sore but are tired and love to be still today and not be pressured and abused into unreasonable exertions.

The sky is gray. No more blinding high-altitude sunshine and punishing heat. The air out there is cool and the world a blessed pillow of forgiveness. Let me find my book, my hot tea and jelly toast, my cat and my dog.

8.04.2013

Back to typing on my iPhone again. The used MacBook Pro I bought from eBay five months ago has a hard drive that is grinding unto death, and so to spare it further insult I do everything I can do from the 'phone. A new hard drive and operating system have been purchased and await installation - await accumulation of chutzpah sufficient for me to open the laptop up and replace the drive myself. Terrifying. But I've rewatched the how-to video on Youtube a half-dozen times and I think I can do it. Soon.

This morning is lovely, cool and still and clear (although bound to be painfully hot by midafternoon). BrotherB and I have had gluten-free pancakes, first try of Bob's Red Mill mix. Not horrible. I'll probably make them mostly for B in the future, though, because he's the celiac guy. They weren't <i>that</i> good.

B's hair continues to fill in and his health is turning around, now that his body isn't attacking itself, and now that he's able to absorb nutrients. He had his first Reclast treatment a couple of weeks ago, an annual IV chemical meant to halt his osteoporosis. He's still small and thin, and getting shorter every day. He's lost nearly two inches in height in the last year, and has developed scoliosis. I am so sorry about the dearth of competent caring doctors in our world. We could have prevented all these things - the alopecia, the bone loss, the thyroid disease - if someone had bothered to test and diagnose him earlier.

Last week I ran into ShirleyMayer, the elderly woman who underwrote the purchase of my home four-and-a-half years ago. We'd become estranged because of a misunderstanding - someone that deaf is hard to get through to. But now she was pleased to see me, and I was overjoyed to have my good friend back. I learned that she had sold her car and relied on a neighbor, now, for weekly transportation to the supermarket. She sees no one, stays in her house with her cats. She can't hear her phone, can't hear the voice of anyone who might call. She's only 76.

<i>Say</i>, I said (of necessity loudly and slowly), <i>would you like to come with me to yard sales on Saturday mornings?</i> She was confused for a moment, and resisted, but when I pulled up in front of her house yesterday she was waiting and ready to go. I had thought it would be great fun to drive around with my old friend as we used to, listening to her chatter and joke about her colorful life and remark on the world in her funny and philosophical way. But she was different now, quiet, and when I managed to tell her something about what was going on in the world (<i>All this smoke's blowing in from the fires up in Oregon</i>, for example), she argued and disbelieved me. I let it go. We had fun at each sale. I found a handful of valuable books and she bought some cute knickknacks. I stopped off at my house before taking her home. I wanted to show her what I'd done to the place since she'd seen it last, and to show her how the Siamese kitten she gave me had grown up into a beautiful, very special, cat. But she didn't notice any differences in the house, and didn't remember giving me the kitten ("Why would I give you a cat? Where did I get it?"). Then I tried to show her how she could use a smart phone to send text messages. She would be able to contact people for help, and they would be able to get in touch with her, if she would only wear it in her pocket to feel it vibrate. I used my iPhone and borrowed my husband's  to show her how we could talk back and forth with texts. I'm getting my upgraded phone next week and wanted to give her my old one. But she wouldn't let me teach her how to use it, getting angry when I tried, and then became so frustrated trying to teach herself she flung it hard across the kitchen table. She'd never use it, she said. 

As we got in the car to go back to her place I asked if she'd like to go yard-saling again next week. "I thought that was what we were going to do today," she said, irritable. <i>We did</i>. "Well, how many did we go to?" <i>Five</i>. "Oh. I think I kind of remember one ... Did I get all this stuff?" <i>Yep</i> Silence. 

She told me she got rid of her car because one day she got into it and couldn't remember how to start it. She'd gone into the house then and there and phoned her mechanic, and he'd bought it from her for $800. 

When we got to her house she couldn't remember how to unlock her door. 

"I think I'm worse than I was a year ago," she said. "Am I?" <i>Yes</i>, I said, <i>a </i>lot<i> worse.</i> I didn't bother to remind her that we hadn't seen each other in four years.

In the end I was so exhausted and discouraged from all her arguing and and frustration that by the time I got home all I could do was stare into the middle distance and try to process and recover. Clearly Alzheimers - not dementia (she's too young for dementia, isn't she?) - is happening here, to a woman who has no one to notice or care. An argumentative independent woman who will put up fierce resistance should anyone attempt to intervene. The neighbor she depends on is a single guy, a sort of ne'er-do-well, but maybe he cares about her. Of course, this casts her spontaneous generosity to me, back in the day, in a whole new light. She had seemed so sharp and rational and certain, but I should have realized it then.

I'll take her around to yard sales every Saturday and keep the conversation simple and light. But I think I'll call adult protective services, too, just to inquire about procedure down the line, maybe to see if someone can check on her.