A Dispiriting Decline

When one hits the age where things begin happening to their parents in the decline of old age, it is dispiriting. I see my mother declining and I’m not sure she will last the year. I can’t tell her this. She actually believes she is going to live into her hundreds, as many of our older relatives have. The difference between those long-lived ancestors, though, is that they were very active. My mother is not. She is not active. She has arthritic knees. She sits a lot. She ignores advice that tells her movement is better for arthritis and general well-being. She also has sleep apnea but refuses to wear her sleep apnea machine. She has now had a stroke. They say it came from plaque in her arteries. They want to give her drugs (after scraping the arteries clean), but tell her exercise is best. She won’t exercise. The sleep apnea may also have contributed, but she won’t use the machine. What was the point of going to the sleep clinic and figuring out she has sleep apnea if she won’t use the machine to help the sleep apnea? They said she had some of the worst sleep apnea they had ever seen. Not treating it can cause heart attacks and strokes. Does she want another stroke? Is she trying to kill herself by doing nothing?

I stand aside and watch this decline. It is disheartening, and as I said before, dispiriting. One cannot control another or make them do what they won’t do. I want to scream: Just get up and walk down your driveway, already! (The driveway is a mile long.) Yet this would be futile.

Fue Tile. Futile. Dispiriting. Disheartening. All these magnificent little words. I love the words. I do not love how their meanings affect me.

After I wrote this, I asked my mom directly about not using her sleep apnea equipment. She said that her sleep apnea went away because she slept on her side. I asked my friend Debbie, who is somewhat of an expert on sleep apnea, and she said that if she didn’t have the central system sleep apnea, it is possible that it did go away. I hope this is true. I know my mom did not get told by a physician that it was gone, but perhaps it did. Perhaps it did not cause her stroke.

Advertisements

Fixing the Toilet

Did I tell this story already, or did I just compose it in my head and never write it? I started composing it in my head again and it seemed like déjà vu. Weird.

My toilet was leaking. I kept trying to blame the water on the floor near the base on washing my face in the sink next to it or getting out of the bathtub because any time I would notice water on the floor near the base, one of the other two things had happened. Yet somehow I knew that it was more than this. Deep in the recesses of my brain the leaking was there, well, leaking into my consciousness.

The main part of my mind wanted to ignore this. No, it’s not leaking. You just washed your face. You got water all over the basin. See this? Oh, yeah. Okay. Or you just used the toilet after your bath. That’s why the floor is wet. Right. That’s the ticket.

It became undeniable the morning I began cleaning the bathroom and was starting to wipe the base of the toilet off with a sponge to clean it. I knelt down, resting my left hand on the seat lid of the toilet and reaching under to clean. As I did so a splurge of water gushed out from under the base of the toilet.

I pressed the lid again and gush! Out shot another splurge of water. Damn. A leak. It’s a leak.

This meant I was going to have to repair the thing. Pull it off, install a wax ring, clean up the water. Yet while I was thinking Damn! on the one hand, I was also kind of glad on the other. I like fixing things. I like making them better. I hadn’t liked the way the toilet had been installed. Whoever did it did a crappy (isn’t that the perfect adjective for work on a toilet?) job. They didn’t use bolt covers on the bolts. They did a piss poor job of caulking, which was actually a blessing because the water didn’t just sit under the toilet and rot the floor. They also used caulk that was not meant for bathrooms because it was not resisting mildew. I was going to be happy to get rid of this mess.

Aftaer dutifully toddling off to the hardware store to buy a wax ring and new bolts, I turned off the hoses, drained the water, removed the bolts, and lifted the toilet carefully from it’s place. Water seeped everywhere. It really was a good thing this was getting changed. Unlike the last time I changed a toilet and the flooring was too high for the pipe the toilet attached to, this one was level with the floor. Installing would be easy. I scraped up the nasty caulk and cleaned up the old wax. I washed the bottom of the toilet completely and scrubbed out the rest of it in the bathtub. I then went to install the toilet on the base and realized I had purchased the wrong bolts to attach it to the floor. Dang! Back to the hardware store for the correct ones.

While I was at the hardware store, I noticed toilet seat lids. Ours was annoying. It had bolts that constantly came loose. The lid itself was not plastic, but the hinges were and they had broken on one side of each hinge, making the lid rattle and the seat shift when we sat on it. As I stood in the aisle at the hardware store buying the proper bolts, I decided to get a new lid.

I stood staring at the wall of toilet lids on display. I had not realized that there were so many options in toilet lids. Primarily the differences came down to the hinges attaching the lid to the toilet and the ability of the lid to shut without slamming. Hmmm. This seemed an interesting proposition, but an unnecessary one.

I decided on a white wood lid with metal hinges that was about $15. Unfortunately, the store was out of this one except for the display. Dang again. The only other option I liked that was white wood with metal hinges was one that shut without slamming. It cost $35. The other choices were all untenable to me: plastic seats, plastic lids, plastic hinges, or the wrong color or shape. Fine. I’d buy the $35 one.

Back home I installed the lid, finished bolting down the toilet, and cleaned everything up. We dragged the mess of sopping towels to the basement to wash and put away all the tools (my daughter had been helping me with this project).

With the new lid and bolt covers, the toilet looked brand new. No more water seeped from the bottom. We didn’t have to sit down gently to avoid pinching our butts as the seat slid to the side when we sat down. And in spite of my finding such things to be rather silly, I truly liked the lid that didn’t slam. It’s really good, actually.

Overall, the toilet leaking was not a bad thing. I like our “new” toilet. I love it that I can sit on it without worrying about the seat falling off. Water doesn’t ooze out the bottom. There isn’t ugly caulking I have to clean every other day to keep it from looking like someone peed on it. And in the middle of the night when I go to the bathroom, I just close the lid and it shuts softly and quietly. Good times.

How to Get Rid of a Smelly Sponge

How come kitchen sponges are smelly?

I made a discovery about stinky sponges. I’ve always make a point of squeezing all the water out of a dish sponge so that it doesn’t sit and fester and smell. When I used to have a dishwasher, I would wash the sponge in it periodically to disinfect it with hot water. I have also sprayed the stinky sponge with bleach, which I don’t like to do because it gets a toxic chemical near our dishes.

For a few years now though the sponges in our house have not been stinky. I attributed this to vigilant sponge squeezing. We also have a little rack that hangs on the side of the sink to put the sponge in so it doesn’t sit stewing in water. The sponge used to really smell when I lived with my ex who would leave it in a puddle in the bottom of the sink. We’ve been apart for over five years now and the sponge hasn’t smelled since then. Keep it dry, keep it on the side of the sink. Problem solved, or so I thought.

Then I made an interesting discovery.

For the longest time, I purchased mainstream dish washing liquid  like Dawn™.  When I moved back home to Portland and was able to shop again at New Seasons, I started buying more environmentally friendly soaps that smelled really good like Mrs. Meyers Clean Day™. Oh, I love that soap. It’s not much more expensive than the mainstream stuff and it smells so delicious.

One day, we ran out of dish washing soap and I was at some store that isn’t New Seasons buying who knows what. The store didn’t have any options for dish washing soap other than mainstream brands. I bought a jug of Dawn™ and didn’t think much of it. It doesn’t smell pretty like Mrs. Meyers™, but we were out of soap and it was there so I bought it. I thought little of it beyond that.

Then a couple of weeks later, I realized that no matter how much I squeezed out our sponge, it smelled. Bad. I couldn’t figure why until I remembered the dish washing liquid change and wondered if this was what caused the smell to return so I decided to try an experiment.

I bought some more of the Mrs. Meyers™ environmentally friendly soap and started using it instead of the Dawn™. I did this for a week and the smelly sponge went away. I used the Dawn™ again for a week. The smelly sponge returned.

My conclusion?

Smelly sponges have nothing to do with how much water you squeegy out of them, they smell because of the detergent used to wash dishes. I have no doubt of this. I’ve tried a variety of different soaps including Trader Joe’s dish washing soap. No smell. Biocleen™. No smell. J.R. Watkins™. No smell. Seems to be the Dawn™ that makes the sponge smelly for whatever reason.

I still have the jug of Dawn™ under my sink way in the back. It’s there because I’m not sure how to dispose of it without putting it in a landfill and somehow that feels as bad as dumping chemicals in a landfill. I’m sticking with the good stuff. Dawn™ might “cut grease” but God only knows what else it’s doing that it allows bacteria to fester in the dish sponge and make it smell like old feet. Yuck. No, thank you.

Toilet Needs a New Home

I posted this ad on Craigslist a few years ago. A friend of mine asked me to repost it on the blog, so here it is:

It is time that Toilet parted ways with our family. It has been in this house for longer than we’ve been here. When we arrived, the home inspector informed us that this toilet was “top of the line” in Europe and ordered by all the best home designers in the US. “Pozzi Gnorri,” he said. “Go look them up on the internet. They’re one of the best companies in the world for bathroom fixtures.” So I did and was duly impressed. However, I had to wonder what a toilet of this caliber was doing in my little bungalow in Portland. But hey, some of us get riches to rags instead of the other way around, so who was I to question things or to remind Toilet of its brilliant beginnings? I could make Toilet sad thinking that way.

Toilet was lovely; a deep, thoughtful blue, with a white lid. And the flusher was in its top! My 8 year old loved that. Look Mom, you pull this button on top rather than pushing down on a handle! Fancy!

To keep reading, click HERE

Isabel’s Thought for the Morning

This morning I was wiping down the kitchen counters, picking up clutter, moving here and there. Isabel was sitting at the dining table eating her cereal. She turned to me and said, “Maybe our dreams are real life, and real life is our dream.” Yes, Isabel. I’ve considered that myself. I love living with a five year old. They get you out of the space of business as usual and remind you of imaginative possibilities.

Our Illusion of Connectivity

Three years ago I wrote a blog post about the illusion of connectivity. It said:

“I go to Facebook. I go to email. I check all the addresses. I go back to Facebook. I check my blog. I go back to Facebook. In all, I find not what I am looking for. It is not satisfying. I see posts I share. I read here and there. On email I get Truthout, read through the articles. Find one that is really interesting. Read to the bottom. Post on Facebook. Go back to email. Go to Facebook. Read Salon, click on the link to “Continue Reading.” Go back to email. Nothing. Something from Powell’s. Something from Bug of the Day. Go back to Facebook. Share a picture of some cute animal or funny thing from George Takei, but overall, no connection. Not really.

To keep reading, please click here.

Generational Differences

This essay was published on Huffington Post, and can be seen here.

When I was a child, we played outside, rode bikes without helmets, we rode in cars without booster seats, and our parents didn’t organize and supervise play dates.

This is a popular meme making the rounds on social media. It’s usually accompanied by a photo of some kid jumping something enormous on a Big Wheel with no helmet, hair flying maniacally, face full of joy. The implication of course is that today’s children are too coddled. The Atlantic just did a big article on this subject (See here). The article was good. It focused on helicopter parents and people who won’t let their children do anything with risk.

But I think it’s a mistake to revere the way things used to be. When I was a child…keep reading by clicking here.