Sunday, 2 August 2015

Don't mention the GUESTS!!!!

Made a mistake today..

Like British comedy hero Basil Fawlty's "Don't mention the war"...I should have known better than to mention "guests" to Okaasan.

Casually as I prepped Okaasan's lunchtime I first mentioned them. As in: sorry I am not eating lunch with you because I have German guests arriving at the station and I'll eat with them maybe.
Just getting back into Couch Surfing again after a long absence.

Okaasan fussed a bit about me cooking her lunch when I should be going to meet my guests..and I reassured her that they hadn't arrived yet.
Later, while she dozed in front of the Tv for the afternoon I went to welcome the young Germans and their huge backpacks. Took them to the classroom...showed them shower and bed things. Left them to recover from 20 hours of flying.

At home Okaasan was stressing.
The guests. Should I tidy my room? Are they coming here? Is this blouse ok?
On and on and on and on.

However many times I said: you won't meet them. They are staying in my classroom. They are asleep. They won't come here. Don't worry. Don't worry. They won't come here. Don't worry.

She did. Worried about her room, the kitchen, her clothes.

Got ready to go out - still worrying. Will the guests come into my room?

Came home late: but the guests are still here? Are they here? Is there dinner?

So tiring. I didn't snap at her. I was good. But it was endless.

"Guests" = Major Stress.

I should never have mentioned them.

* on a positive note. Okaasan had a bath and I gave her my nail clippers and showed her how to clip her talons...really really long finger nails. She has also had a hair cut.

All ready to celebrate her 84th birthday next week :-)

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

And YOU can shut the F**** up too!

And here we still are.
Shouting at a dear, sweet old lady across the dinner table.

Welcome back to our life.

Actually the shouting, while exhilarating for all concerned, was a brief interlude of excitement in a pretty mundane life. We are fine. Sweating along in summer.

Fights. How do they start?
If you track them back calmly you can see the seeds of it all back in the minutes and hour before....
I came home hot, tired and hungry.
Slightly miffed that at 6.45 pm there was no sign of him making dinner as promised.
More miffed that he didn't hear or respond to me "Hello" calling from the kitchen - because he was upstairs with a noisy TV show. All Japanese TV shows are noisy.

So. Tired, hungry, hot. Miffed.
Half a glass of wine gulped down obviously helped the emotional control.

Then Okaasan came back and said she'd been in a shop and hadn't had enough money, so asked the shop to Keep the magazine for her.

And he said.
And I said.
And he said "No, you don't understand..."
And I said.


"You don't understand" is not the best way to say what he meant. That old international relationship misunderstanding on language. To him that means "No, I mean something different" - but what I hear is "No, you are stupid and don't understand what I am saying".


I shouted at him.
He at me.
Then Okaasan at me.
Me at her.
All 3 of us together.
I'm trying to grab my dinner, wine glass and glasses and storm out.
He is trying to stop me.

The neighbors 3 meters away with their kitchen window open must have been loving it.

So there you have it. Domestic bliss in Sapporo.
Always hard to have a couple fight his mother as the audience.

20 minutes later he and I had made up. Okaasan had forgotten about it.
We all watched TV.

And that really is the most exciting thing about Okaasan at home here. Hence no blogging.
Our life has been full: jazz festival, kayak lesson, friends, beer festivals, a live rat in the house (cat present), gardens...
Okaasan has slept and snoozed thru her days. Gone out for walks. Eaten meals. Not caused any problems.
Random conversations. Forgotten memories, dirty room, long fingernails....

It is her birthday next week. We are planning a crab dinner. I should get her to a hair salon before that. 

It is good though: that our family life is now just a routine, that there is nothing to blog about.

So. As this is the Internet: Your Daily Cat. Two for good luck.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Bowling along

Failure to recognize objects is one aspect of dementia - we notice it a little with Okaasan...although maybe her checking questions (Is this my plate? Is this mine?) are her way of masking her confusion.

Sometimes she will ask us if the cell phone is the TV remote, or if the small notebook is her purse.

Recently we've realized soup bowls are, conveniently, being confused.

On the right is the badly scratched, plastic soup bowl we've been using for too many years. Last year Okaasan finally said that she didn't want to eat out of that because scratched plastic was bad for food and body. She may have a point there!!!

So, we started using the central, ceramic bowl. Much better.
But. It isn't really big enough - and  increasingly we watch everytime Okaasan grasps it with her fingers and tips it towards her mouth - we are nervously waiting for the inevitable of hot liquid/old lady's lap accident.

So. DS suggested using the cat coffee cup, which has a handle. Easier to hold, big enough for miso soup with cubes of tofu, daikon etc

I wasn't so sure: Will Okaasan accept this CUP as something to drink soup out of? Really? And it has a childish, cat picture on it.

Recently we've made the switch. When we serve her soup, we put it in the cup. She uses it happily, no comments at all. Much safer.
I am surprised. I expected some comment - but she seems to accept that this container with miso soup in it IS the container for her miso soup. I think most Japanese people of her generation would be strongly against using a coffee cup for traditional miso soup, because every kitchen thing has its use. But she has made the transition smoothly.

DS says it is a useful example of her object confusion - that she doesn't really "see" coffee cup. Just soup. Lucky really.

Not sure if she will use this cup if we leave the instant soup packs in it on the table for her lunchtime. Will she look around the kitchen for the soup bowl? Watch this space.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015


Mammoth BBQ held - most of the contents of Costco eaten and drunk.
Guests happy. Hosts happy.
Okaasan - mellow.

It's the best year yet with our BBQ - the actual event was a great party, and how Okaasan dealt with the intrusion into her routine.

We ordered a lunch box delivery around 11.30, so she could sit calmly in the kitchen and eat. Then she was making plans to "escape" - all the usual illogical reasons - guests don't want to see an old lady, I don't want to do greetings.....
I tried the old arguments: it is outside in the garden, you can be in your room as usual watching TV and go out for your usual walk is hot etc etc....

By 12.15 she was out the door - nervously forced to do greetings with DS's ski school boss, his wife and their children, and then she was off. Escaped.
I worried a little because it was very early still, and she doesn't have the energy to stay out until evening. Would she sit in a neighborhood park or stand watching the house...wanting to come back? Would she be brought home by a friendly restaurant owner? All of that has happened in the past.

Sometime, mid-afternoon she came home. Tired, but ok.
Maybe about 3 pm - I was in mid-party mode, so I have no idea. Suddenly a guest said: "Yujiro's mother!! and there was Okaasan pushing her way thru the guests to get to the front door....
I took her inside, made her tea, closed the window against the noise and got the TV on to distract her.
She settled. At 7 pm I made her a simple dinner - chatted to her in the kitchen. Guests were already leaving. She didn't get angry with us or them.
She seemed very mellow.

A good day.