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.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

It's BBQ time again :-) :-(

That time of year folks - when the house is full of rude, nasty people who out-stay their welcome and make a noise and disturb the peace.
Our friends. Our BBQ.
Okaasan hates it.

But before we get to THAT - tomorrow.

Just finished the book Still Alice. Liked it a lot. You know when you can't wait for work and stuff to finish, so you can get back to reading? That feeling.
I loved the attention to detail of every day life and how from Alice's perspective she was doing fine - and then a small comment showed us, the readers, that she probably wasn't.
Better than the film - more details. More depth of character.
But still a bit preachy. Got a message to impart in this book and YOU WILL READ IT!

But - again - it made me stop and think: how does Okaasan view her world. How does she feel day to day about herself.  We should help her do things to make a her day easier. To make her feel unstressed. I'm sure she knows all is not well in her mind - but she covers it all well and allows us (mostly) to help cover the holes.
Good book. I recommend it.

So. BBQ tomorrow.
We went off early today and bought everything in Costco. Everything  for our party - but it felt a bit like "everything in Costco". An obscene amount of money. But somehow about 35 people have said:"Oh BBQ? Oh yes! Can I bring friends too?".
Maybe the weather has been so bad that people are keen to get out and start doing summer things.

So. We got home from a massive shopathon about middday. DS said he's unload the car, I went in to get lunch cooked and on the table.
First thing I noticed was Okaasan's slippers in the middle of the bathroom floor. Between the washing machine and the sink.
She was in her room watching TV...

I went and picked them up.
The slippers, the floor, the carpet tiles, the mat, the washing machine, the cabinet....
Swilling in water!!!

What on earth had she done?

Grabbed lots of towels, papers etc etc to mop up.

Okaasan came worriedly to the kitchen. Professed to know nothing about it all. 
"I didn't do anything wrong, did I?"

Well, she'd obviously done something. A pair of wet pajamas were on the sink and there was water in every direction :-))

But, newly fortified with understanding from the Still Alice book, I remained all upbeat and reassuring: "No! NO! You didn't do anything! Maybe it's the silly old washing machine! Must be that, no problem! Only water!" Chirp. Chirp.
Dear Son and I peered around the bathroom at pipes and connections trying to work out what had happened. We couldn't find anything wrong. The machine still works. Did she use the sink extension cord and panic with the spray pressure? Did she fill the sink and leave the water running?

have no idea. But now the bathroom floor is cleaner than it's been in years! That's good.

Okaasan fussed around. We all sat down to lunch. She was quite stressed. We were all chirpy and happy.


The hall is towering high with boxes of food and BBQ sets, beer cases and charcoal.

BBQ 2015 here we come.
Okaasan is NOT going to have a good weekend.
We'll do our best to make her calm, and try to enjoy our one big party of the year with friends.
Altogether: we'll try.