Beautiful Walks and Some Very Hard Days

New morning walk along the river and less than fifteen minutes from home.

Then we took in the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest that had poorly maintained trails so I stayed in the parking lot and wrote. Took the following pictures from there.

Then this morning back to Lake Chatuge for more birding.

I am waiting on a call from the Memory Care Home on how Lee is doing. Since my last blog it was discovered that he has bruised himself badly banging his hip on exit doors and was sent to the hospital twice for falling. Then again all the way to Chattanooga because they found a contusion on his head and needed more tests. He has been physically cleared for the psych ward at yet another location if he can not get calmer. Seeing me would increase his need to get out. I can only call or get phone calls in the middle of the night that he is being taken to the hospital due to a fall.

They just called and are waiting on calls and transport to Summit Ridge where he can get the psych evaluation and medication he needs, Right now he is sitting outside the office of Tracy, the head of the Memory Care ward. He is holding his stuffed cat and telling them he needs to get home. She will text me with whatever happens next.

It has been a very hard week and our daughter and partner are staying a few more days before heading home and back to work. They have been working remotely from here but that only lasts so long. They went with me to get a few fish.

And Ben keeps fixing new drinks for me each evening. Here is a saffron/chille infused gin and tonic.

And my most favorite, a Tumeric Whisky Sour with a garnish of rosemary.

This is made with a simple syrup of one cup sugar, one cup water and one tablespoon tumeric that is brought to a boil and then strained through fine screen strainer. For the drink, over ice pour one shot of syrup, two shots of bourbon, juice of one wedge lemon and one wedge lime, top with rosemary sprig. It is delicious!

I have not been in the studio to do anything. With Lee’s situation I am like a BB in a boxcar….completely unable to settle down. I did do a little drawing of a mountain laurel bloom in my sketchbook but will wait until I get some swatches sewn before I photograph it.

The mountain laurel is just beautiful this year and is all over the yard and trail.

And the last of Michigan lilacs Amy brought me.

This afternoon I am off to Asheville for a doctor’s appointment. The concern was having enough gas to get there and back with the pipeline problem here and over anxious people cleaning out gas stations. Luckily I found a small station coming back from the Memorial Forest yesterday and filled up. Amy and Ben have the whole day to work remotely and figure out dinner.

Til later….


A good Bloody Mary (this one with oregano infused vodka) can go a long way in getting the day started.

Amy and Ben moved the day bed from the studio to the guest room.

Then that space left in the studio became the new sewing wall.

Then I decided to move one of the long work tables away from the island in the middle of the studio and switch places with the board shear.

Next the window that looks out onto the wine bottle fish school became the wood carving table (on top of the antique sewing machine) with the small loom next to it.

I switched places between sketchbooks and journals to where all the wood blocks and prints were and vice versa.

The studio is beginning to make more sense now.

The board shear will be given to a young man in the book and paper arts field. Maybe I can talk him into taking a large metal flat file as well. These things should be used more than I am using them and giving is very satisfying for both of us. So now I have a cleared off table designated for printmaking only, a facing table for putting things together, a carving table and another for writing and trimming papers….all separated from each other and the sewing wall. Lots of open floor space. I might even get back to some tai chi again.

I will continue to throw things out and clear even more space. This morning many, many bags went to the dump before we went on our birding walk at the folk school trails.

The news on Lee is not so good. He has been taken to the hospital three times now after falls. Because he can not seem to settle and rest his badly bruised rear end and because they are worried he may continue to hurt himself, the next thing we are considering is a move to a psyche ward down in Atlanta to get him on the right medicines. It is either that or a person who stays with his every move day and night. I am waiting on a call back from our doctor to get proper forms signed so they can find a room for him in Atlanta.

Both Amy and Ben are tech savvy so Amy set up a way for my laptop to access all my photos on the larger computer downstairs in the office. As long as I am on the same WiFi network photos can be exchanged…so much easier than traveling downstairs, locating files and then putting them on a stick to take upstairs and feed into my small laptop. Plus anything downloaded to the smaller laptop can be accessed from the office downstairs. Much better.

Another thing they did was gather smooth rocks from up north to bring down to me. There is nothing like a smooth rock in the hands.

More later when I learn more about our next steps….

A Rough Few Days

This morning it was a walk back to the dam. It felt good to wander and look for birds with my daughter and her birding partner. A passerby complimented them on using real cameras. I will try to do that walk every morning.

Lee is still struggling. Friday his frustration led to breaking the owl picture and turning the television upside down. More sedatives needed. My calling might trigger another outburst so I will wait to make contact via the visual calls.

Then in the middle of the night Saturday I get a call that he had been found on the floor with a cut on his elbow and an ambulance was called to get to the nearest hospital for tests/x-rays. Two hours later the nurse from the hospital calls to tell me no broken bones, just bruises and now bandaged elbow. It is a good thing they check each room every hour during the night. He was sound asleep when they found him and they think he simply exhausted himself by fighting any form of relaxing.

He is eating well and this morning they called to suggest no contact until they get the right dosage to keep him calm and not aggressive/angry. Our doctor is in constant touch with how we are both doing.

I am so glad to have found this place where proper care is a priority.

In the meantime I tried to get some sewing done…three pairs of pants and two shirts so fat.

I really hate this mirror in the guest room. The closer you get, the fatter you look. Surely I need to keep my distance.

I have been served some interesting drinks by Amy’s partner, Ben.  A tumeric syrup with bourbon and sweet cherry garnish…delicious! A bloody Mary with rosemary and garlic infused vodka….also pretty good. It was garnished with his grandmothers recipe for preserved sweet pickled mushrooms and one of his pickled asparagus spears. The asparagus was too sour/vinegary for my taste but overall a good drink. There is plenty to sample during the week while they are here. Yesterday morning he served me my first ever bear bacon…surprisingly good, and last night his smoked mallard duck after a concoction of tonic and herb/peppered vodka. Tonight dinner will be part of a turkey he shot with a side of corn on the cob.

Now they are doing remote office work out on the porch with a promise that after five pm they will get to those high shelves for a good cleaning. But before that I will get on my Migun bed for a good massage while listening to some cds they brought for relaxation. How does “Restful Rain” sound?

Til later

It is So Quiet

Sadie senses the unbearable sadness in the house with Lee no longer here. She stayed very close offering her support. Comforting.

It has been a very hard transition for Lee and myself as well. It is so quiet here. No one to watch and follow with distractions and endless chatter to keep him side tracked. No shuffling of feet and angry outbursts of frustration. No quiet sobs that need to be fixed.

Lee fought being there and felt abandoned. He did not blame me but his “captors”. The bad guys keeping him from coming home. By Wednesday morning we had decided that him seeing me and then my having to leave would be an impossible situation for both of us. I turned over the bag of sticks and feathers and left. I gave permission for them to use a calming sedative if necessary to keep him from banging on doors to get out.

By the time we had a FaceTime call in the Memory Care main office yesterday at two o’clock he was actually better and now showered and changed. He had refused to take any clothes off so was in them for two days. We agreed that I would pretend to be tied up getting a knee operation and could only call to see each other once a day. He was laughing when we rung off yesterday.

This morning early I took his wifi remote for his television down and another rock for his collection. The sedatives have arrived and he will likely go on them for awhile. He has been recruiting fellow residents to help him escape. They of course think if he wants to go then he should be allowed to go. Of course all of them believe that their room is their home now.

Our doctor here suspected Lee would have problems and she has known him over twenty-five years. So sedatives were quickly approved.

I just finished our second FaceTime call and noticed he has on another clean shirt. He had stuffed a spoon into his sock and was quite pleased with himself. I tell him when he asks about my coming to get him that I am stuck in this room in the hospital waiting for my knee to get better and remind him that we are older now and need to take our time doing anything. He laughs at that. I get him laughing and then say we had better get off the phones and tell him I will call again tomorrow at the same time. I tell him to go outside and do some walking, line up his rocks in his room so he will know if “the bad guys” are taking any of them. And he is content.

They tell me that contentment lasts for over an hour and then anxiousness starts to come with tears. He is getting more emotional as the day goes on. But now he has some medication and I okayed what they call “home care” that allows one nurse to keep an eye on him regularly and take necessary precautions to keep him from getting depressed.

It will get better. They are the best at dealing with memory loss patients and I am so glad that in 1993 we took this long term care policy out. The insurance man back then was right…the care some of us need when older can wipe away all assets and leave people in less desirable situations for care. He has a lovely room and bath with all his own things and an amazing staff to look after him. Even his showers are given by two people in case he falls and takes one down with him. They have thought of everything and Lee already has a crush on some of them. He apologizes if he swears in front of them and offers feathers to make up.

For myself it was harder than I thought being alone. But I am not ready for much company…only Barbara who knows not to say kind things that make me tear up. My cleaning lady said she will pray for Lee and me….and I said thank you. And I suppose what I really do not want is the sudden concern of those who might have thought to offer help these past few years when Lee and I were having a hard time.

BUT to all of you who have kept sending cards, checking in, making us laugh, and calling on the hardest day when I left him there….words of thanks are simply not enough. You have kept me upright. You have made me cry tears held in too long. You have been just what I needed. I hope others like me who might be going through this have friends like you…it is not always the ones you thought would be there.

So to deal with losing Lee I took out two old shirts of his and a handkerchief worn thin and added him to the pages of how I looked when we met 54 years ago. I drew in the last gift from the yard he gave me, a shattered pine cone and a stick we picked up together. I also drew a split bamboo leaf that came in on his shoes. Now he is here whenever I open my book.

Our daughter and her partner arrive Saturday. They will stay in the apartment and Ben will share his flavored concoctions of infused vodkas and gins. They will dust the high shelves, move a twin bed from my studio over to the guest room where things were taken by movers to go to Lee’s new place, replace lightbulbs, take a look at my dryer issues, help me get new plants and fish for the newly fixed pond, and do some cooking.

I also got one pair of new pants sewn today…the dusty lotus linen. More sewing tomorrow.

Til later….