Tuesday, October 30, 2007

i ain't wearin' that hat and you cain't make me.

...i wear my coonskin hat or nothin' at all. draw whenever yer ready, bub.

this blog has no focus. by my count, more than half of the posts are just a random bunch o'crap. maybe 30 (46.875%) deal with mom's struggle with alzheimers in one way or another, but... i think it's time to create a blog with a clear purpose.

i'm sick and tired of being eclectic.
so hows about a blog that just zeroes in on hats? yeah. hats. you heard me.

by golly, i think i could do that.

(i kinda like the feather in mom's pillbox hat in that picture.)

ya think anyone would read it?

ok. here's for starters...

then again, someone already did this... but i guess that one's a little bit different.
Read more!

Monday, October 29, 2007

"a sticky problem"

it may be old news, but it's news to me.
and interesting, too.

"A research team led by HHMI international research scholar Peter St George-Hyslop of the University of Toronto has discovered that certain forms of the sugar alcohol inositol may rid the brain of amyloid beta plaques implicated in Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's is literally a sticky problem, in which small proteins, called amyloid beta, adhere to each other to form plaques in the brain. These masses cause the choking and death of neurons, resulting in behavioral changes and—Alzheimer's most notable symptom—memory loss."

you can read the rest of the article here.

so what in the cornbread hell is a sugar alcohol INOSITOL?

apparently, it's neither a sugar nor an alcohol and, "It is found in many foods, particularly in cereals with high bran content, nuts, beans, and fruit, especially cantaloupe melons and oranges."

if anyone is familiar with further info, i'd be interested to hear about it.
(that's all folks.) Read more!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

this post is only for silly people

...and if you also have kids or grandkids or if you just like to bake, it's especially for you. (provided you're goofy enough.)

yoinked from a friend:


Our church has a Halloween carnival every year (actually it's the "Unicef Carnival" because all proceeds are donated to Unicef), and this year I'm helping prepare food for the "gross foods" booth. So far today I have completed:

Halloween spiders (chow mein noodles in melted chocolate with M&M eyes)
Frankenstein eyeballs (sugar cookies with white frosting, a chocolate chip pupil, and red gel blood vessels)

and am in the process of making:

Crusty Booger Balls (coconut, sweetened condensed milk, ground almonds, and lime jello mix rolled into balls and then rolled in more lime jello mix)

happy halloween, y'all.

forget the read more link this time, there's nothin' there. go check out the Kitty Litter Cake link and get to cookin'.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

dear family,

as you probably know, i've been experimenting. trying to find what types of things jog mom's memory. several of you have come through with some great *triggers.*
Aunt Sandy and Uncle John brought her this old family portrait the other day. ( for you cyber friends, they're in the left side of the photo.)

mom loves looking at it. she can usually identify at least 1/2 of the people. sometimes most of them even.

the first time she saw it she noticed the sconce and the painting on the wall. those same 2 items now hang on her walls in her little apartment. she said, "i guess this was taken right here."

mom's 41 years old in this picture. more than half of her lifetime ago. mom's lived in her apartment for 3 months. "no, ma'am, that's Hassie's house." some days i think her observation was funny. some days, not so much. today i just figure it is what it is.


that's her mom, Hassie, in the center.

the baby, my cousin John, is now a 45 year old man. back then he was called "Stan." so it confused the heck out of her when i identified him as "John," the name he's gone by most of his adult life.
she's forgotten that little confusing slip of mine now, but still isn't sure who it is. by any name.

my little brother didn't come along for another 2 or 3 years. he was called "John" growing up. now his moniker is "Luke."

are you confused yet? is it any wonder mom is? hahaha.

some of my *memory experiments* have dealt with involuntary memory. some with voluntary. i've been keeping notes. if i ever get around to it i'll blog more about that later. don't hold your breath, though...


the photo above was spliced together and cleaned up by my friend, Dann Walsh from 2 scans i made of the original and emailed to him.(it was too large to fit in my scanner.) after the jump i'll include some more info on that if anyone's interested.

the next 2 are what i emailed dann. i don't know if you can see all the cracks, tears, blemishes and all...maybe if you click on 'em?

(immediately above you can see what he sent back.)

and then he sent the smooth one below. it came with a note attached:

(i had t' "lestoil" (less toil? hardly!) the friggin' walls... then mud an' re-paint 'em... i sent the drapes to the dry cleaners... i rented a rug doctor for the carpeting (what in the cornbread hell did uncle chester spill on it?)... and... wft, doesn't anyone in the whole fam-dam-ily own a lint brush?!

aw. poor Dann....

[hey dann, the lint and grime thang is most likely all the crap collected on my scanner. it's taken me years to get that look. and you want me to get a bottle of windex, or what? ... oh, & sorry about the pubic hair.]

the guy's a maniac. he kept sending me new and improved versions.
"grayscale, toned, natural aging, bmp files, discs, how-to tutorials..."
i won't post 'em all here, but dann, if you're ever in the neighborhood there'll be a chicken fried steak and a six pack of lone star waitin' for you.

to the rest of y'all, check out his blog. if it's not one of the best lookin' you've ever seen, i'll...well... i'll just assume yer blind.

psst... Nance, if you see this...may i just say, "that's some nice leg crossin' there."
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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

your Really Bad Hallmark Card of the day...

with a good book half read
and more in the queue,
while the cops are at bay
let me just say,
"i'm glad i'm not dead,
and i'm glad i know you."

"outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."
groucho marx

g'night and sweet dreams, y'all.
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WARNING: whiny post ahead

so, the last post was all about how great life is. about getting mom outside to enjoy the beautiful weather. reminiscing about the pecan detectives. the great visit with relatives, etc...and there was even more that i didn't express adequately.

my high was soon dampened. no. it was fffflattened. it was flat-out SQUISHED.

the caretakers reading this will no doubt find this post all too familiar and the rest of you should probably not read any further, either. why don't y'all just stay here and enjoy that hilarious picture a friend sent me of *nut gathering with a walker.*

...that was saturday. sunday was another beautiful day weather-wise and i'd made arrangements for mom to get to church and have some human interaction without me, so i played hooky. then comes monday. monday was cold and rainy. as we looked out her window, i said something like, "well, it was fun being outside the other day when it was so nice out, wasn't it?"

she cocked her head and asked if she'd been out. i reminded her in some detail and she pretended to remember. i showed her the pecans in the bowl and she asked where they came from. we cracked some, but my heart wasn't in it.

a cold windy day. we spent the majority of our visit doing the newspaper routine. she'd read a headline or a paragraph and ask me to explain the most obvious parts.

"do you have kids in college yet? or are you past that," she asked.
i told her again about sean and jo...
"sean's graduated? what does he do?"
"i told her again about the academic website he's creating, etc. she asked me what a website was again. i told her again. she remembered sitting in front of the computer downstairs.

"who is king tut?"
i told her.
she said, " well, he's coming to dallas."
HAHAHAHAHA (believe me, that was ffffunny.)

she read quite a bit of that one. she was so confused. we talked about islam not being a sect as she had guessed when i asked her, but more like judaism and christianity. and about what a trial is. do you know what a terrorist is, i asked? "no."

"Good," i said. "i'm glad."

she looks at the paper again...

- Tuesday, October 23, 2007 -
"today is tuesday?"
"yes ma'am. it's 3:43 P.M."

so here's the deal, folks. i'll try not to get too excited about the good days and will try harder to enjoy the moments. the moment is really all she has the slightest grasp of.
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Sunday, October 21, 2007

does it get any better than this?

a relaxing soak in the penthouse hot tub with the love of my life. then a sublime dinner of fresh, tender asparagus, creamy crab bisque, and grilled, bacon wrapped, diver scallops. all followed by a steamy roll in the hay......

okay, okay. hahahahaha, you're right. i wouldn't know anything about ANY of that kinda stuff. (sometimes i make things up.) but i can tell you a true story that recently had me asking myself,

"Does it get any better than this?"

saturday was an absolutely perfect fall weather day here.

when my kids were little we sometimes walked the neighborhood in the fall to find the best pecans. it was not just an adventure, it also gave us a sense and source of pride having personally gleaned such valuable *inside* information.
we were: The Pecan Detectives.

(the ready supply of the tastiest and/or largest soft-shell pecans those excursions afforded us was a welcome bonus. we also observed that the smaller, harder shelled ones were oilier and therefore tastier, but more often the luxury of cracking a huge, soft-shell pecan outweighed the relative goodness of flavor. lazy? indiscriminate? pragmatic? you be the decider.)

now, back to my story-

last saturday as i drove up to mom's place i couldn't help but think about that as i looked around at all the pecan trees scattered around the property and wondered which of the dozen or so bore the tastiest fruit.
hmm? now there's an idea...

"hey mom, you wanta go outside for a walk? it's a beautiful day."


as she puts her shoes on, i find a plastic bag and tell her what it's for. "there're pecan trees galore out there, mom! we're gonna collect 'em!"
she smiled at my enthusiasm and said, "well that sounds like fun." and off we went.

now, her walker works just fine indoors, but the tiny plastic wheels in the front slow her outdoor pace down from turtle to snail speed. we only made it to 3 trees in an hour. most all of the pecans were medium sized soft-shells. we collected, cracked and ate a bunch at each tree. mom had a vague recollection of somewhere she used to live having a pecan tree. she thought maybe Abbott Street, her girlhood home. i told her, no, but you're probably thinking of your house on Ravensway with the huge tree and a million tiny pecans.
she lit up with an expression of recognition and said, "yes, that's it! ... i remember stepping on them when i'd go out the front walk to get my newspaper."

about that time we heard familiar voices and there were Aunt Sandy and Uncle John. the aides upstairs had told them where we were. they helped us finish filling our bag and then we all 4 went back inside and visited for almost an hour.


we gave away 95% of mom's dishes, etc. when she moved to the memory unit. something i couldn't bear to get rid of (one of the many things i still,
eccentrically, keep in my car and reintroduce her to occasionally...) is a set of silver nut crackers and picks. kinda like these, ya know? so i brought 'em up and filled a small bowl with pecans.

hopefully mom will get a little bit of exercise using them. we'll see about that...

on the way out, i gave the majority of our hoard to the aides.
they were most appreciative.

so, the next day when i arrived at VT, one of the cooks was vigorously lashing out at branches with a 20 foot long pole.
Opal, one of the aides we'd given our stash to, was busy gathering pecans in a jumbo-sized dog food bag. i pulled up beside them, rolled my window down, and hollered, "i expect a pie before thanksgiving."

she laughed out loud and said, "you got it, mr. mary anne!"

now you tell me, does it get any better than that?


while we're on the subject, here's my favorite version of my favorite song.
peace, y'all.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Worst Tattoo Ever Contest, anyone?

i once asked right here in this very blog if a certain tat wasn't the worst ever. it has recently come to my attention that my choice, though really, really bad, is nowhere near the *worst ever.*

after the jump i'll present some equally egregious ones and if you dare click on the link below you will witness 1st-hand the real, albeit frightening, evidence. (some of the latter are obviously fake, being either marks-a-lotted on, or decals, but all of them are funny in one way or another.)

All of them have me wishing they were all fake and with any luck for the human gene pool, the owners are wishing the same.

what little decency i have will not allow me to post the R- and X-rated ones.
for those, i (highly) recommend that you click on this link.

(my vote for The World's Worst Tattoo? it's a tie! between the michael jackson one just a bit beyond 1/4 way down
that web page and the armpit 1/2 way down, but be advised: view at your own risk. hahahahaha...)

Of course this is the one i once naively thought to be the all-time worst tattoo, but as you will see at the forementioned website: a near naked, native american woman wearing traditionally male headgear, humping a cornydog, is as mild as a sip of spring water compared to a double, neat scotch. for the less adventurous of you, i offer a few examples of *spring water.*

(this next one is about on par with the cornydog humper, but the bizarre-factor insists that it be entered...)

whatever happened to a simple "MOM" on the upper arm?
if you have something like this tattooed on your forearm can you roll up your sleeves in public? Oh, that's his/her leg?... ok, fine. so tell me, can he/she wear shorts with impunity or go swimming without a full-body wet suit?
and tell me this - what in the cornbread hell would his/her grandmother say if she saw it?

"ya know, sonny/missy, i never much liked your ex, either."

now, i kinda like this one. ON SOMEONE ELSE's body maybe!

i can't help but wonder how long it took for this joke to get old for this guy. and for his friends. if he still has any...

don't get me wrong. i love Mr. T. he cracks me up. but this tattoo and the next two have me wondering... is portraiture EVER a good idea for body art?

oh Peewee, just look what they've done to your song!

(who would ever have guessed he has a hairy chest? and hairy shoulders, too!! if this guy doesn't shave his tattoo, does peewee look like the wolfman?)

i'll leave you now, with this regrettable attempt at some presumed tribute to a loved one...

you are welcome to submit your own World's Worst Ever Tattoo to: wwet.makemelaugh dot com. (if that's a real website i apologize to the web master)

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

i'm the serious guy.

after reading my blog for a while and kinda sorta getting to know me through it, a cyber friend emailed me: "I'm sure you don't always look like that serious man holding a protest sign."

well, no. but it is me. the photo was taken at an anti war rally last april. the sign i'm holding predates the war from another protest rally in early 2003. i will obstinately and proudly continue to hold that sign as long as we continue this misguided *war with no end.*

i have also vowed
to leave that photo on the sidebar of this blog until we get the hell out of iraq or AT LEAST until we begin to focus more on repairing the damage we've done. through diplomatic channels we might even one day return to being a more responsible and worthy world *leader.*

as they say, "when pigs fly"...right?

(this is an actual-size detail of a larger limestone carving i did a few years ago.)

while i'm showing off, after the jump i'll post a few pictures of me not being so dad-blamed serious. (what else are blogs but shameless ego trips, anyway?)

1957, 6 years old, with my grand dad on his stoop.

same year? with my dad on the blanco river.

hahahahahaha! not me, but...

probably about 11 or 12 years old?

1989? 1990?

2000. church brochure picture as youth director. (a short lived job, btw.)

2002. with my son at his high school graduation dinner.

2002. with my daughter.

2002. just me...


2006. talk to the hand...

again, not me, but it is my favorite picture.
*lightning gatherers*

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Haaa...lle...luuu...jah. Hallelujah!!

mom and i got the hell out of dodge for a couple of days. she was pretty disoriented for a while, but i can't tell you how much it meant to her to be with her daughters. by the time we returned she was practically babbling about how much she enjoyed the visit. and yet she was happy to be *home* again.

when we returned, the aide on duty, tracy, told her over and over again how much she was missed.
mom could barely listen to the (sincere) accolades.

HA! she was too busy tellin' tracy about *going all the way to Stephenville and seeing her daughters and her son in law. and how her shoulders hurt because it was Such a long trip.*

(107 miles door to door.)

hahaha…the truth is, i think her shoulders ached a little bit because one of my sisters we had the pleasure of being with is both a physical therapist and a yoga teacher and she had mom doing some exercises.
click on the picture and say, "hallelujah!"

i can't think of a time the two of them enjoyed each other more.

here's a picture of mom and reenie NOT exercising.

with their vanity fair magazines...

and here's one of reen and her beautiful smile.

she plumb makes ya feel good, doesn't she? i guess that's just one of the things healers do.

(psst. don't tell her i used her hair brush the other morning. she'll never even notice my short gray hair in it unless you tell her.)
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Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Greatest (dog) Show On Earth !

the sign read: ANNUAL VNAA DOG SHOW, 7:00 P.M.
(or so i thought.)

i had no idea what VNAA meant, but a dog show at vickery towers? woo doggies! that would just be too much corny fun to miss. there are probably a dozen residents with dogs. there's even one up on mom's floor.
i went upstairs and was surprised to learn no one had heard about the dog show. not even the aides. that just seemed wrong to me.
so, i went into action mode.

downstairs they told me it was probably too late for the couple on the 4th floor to register, and, in any case, that was all handled by the "vnaa people."

i thought, bullshit and came back at 5:30 to wait for these alleged vnaa people to come set up their stinkin' dog show.
by 6:00 there were several residents sitting on the porch with me. they were all, "what a great place to watch from." and they were right. comfy chairs, elevated porch, great view of the courtyard.

the VNAA (actually the VPNA) turned out to be the neighborhood association. the lady i spoke with, Christine, assured me there was no such thing as registration.

"you mean just anybody and their dog could just show up?"


so i told one of the old ladies on the porch to save my seat for Mary Anne and rushed upstairs to get her and to see if i could get one of the aides to bring Jim and Nancy and their dog down...

(this is them in the photo. and there's a funny story about Jim near the bottom of
this post.)

...by 7:00 the courtyard was full of real live neighborhood human beans, a few VT residents and lots of dogs. there were also hot dogs on a grill, tables full of food and coolers full of soft drinks. some of the neighborhood people were practically falling over themselves fixing plates of food and getting drinks for the geezers.

it was awesome.

just as i said to a porchmate, "i'll betcha a dollar-three-eighty they don't bring jim and nancy down," one of the aides appeared in the courtyard with half a dozen alzheimer residents. and one tiny dog in tow.

by my count, only 2 other old folks showed up with their dogs, but the other dozen or so who did come all sat around a big table pigging out on picnic fare and having a blast. they had all just had dinner 30 minutes before so we were kinda surprised at that.
(in fact, i didn't really lose that dollar i mentioned earlier. when they first started up the grill, my betting partner said, "they're gonna try to sell food!?! but we all just ate!" and i bet her a dollar the picnic atmosphere would prevail. so we're even.)

the whole affair was pretty cool. it was a perfect location for the neighbors to have their get together and the interaction between them and the VT folks was something i hope to see more of. maybe we should organize a wheelchair race and invite them back.

(if my dad was still alive, and living there, i can guarantee that and more would already be in the works. maybe *walker dancing* or a *cane fashion show.* something, for sure. as mom always says, "if joe lived here he'd be organizing something for all these people to do.")

the view from the porch before things were in full swing.

the blessing of the dogs. i kid you not...

that's abbey. mom used to live across the hall from her before mom got busted for wandering around without a clue. or should i say, "without a leash."

and this is about as organized as the dog show ever got.
hahahahaha. (sometimes i exaggerate. there was an official *show* at some point.)

the porch crew...

i saved the best picture for last. check out this coif on the right! and if you click on the picture to enlarge it, that's jeane's (in aqua) standard, full-time expression. i never call her by her name. i just call her "smiley."
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