Saturday, December 17, 2011


Mother is visiting us in our new home.

My sibling just had their first born and mom was hurrying from her state to theirs and thought to stop here along the way.

I do believe she was hoping/thinking we would be going down ourselves to see the new baby and she'd just ride along.  Nevermind that it's about 600 miles away and I already- before she left her state -clarified that we wouldn't.

I will only touch upon now how her arrival was scheduled for mid December at a convenient 8pm that got moved to the 5th at 2am, to 6th at 4am, which actually ended up being at 4PM.  And we are about 1 hour from the bus station (small town) and it is it's own form of crazy to try to accommodate all these changes when mom doesn't have a cell phone.

Grumble here about total disregard to our own family's schedule.

Mom's MO is to announce her plans and what you need to do for her.

So - come she has, looked around at the senior apartments, fallen in love with our town and people (they really are great) and she is talking about leaving after the new year.


But that is not why I'm motivated - compelled - to write, even though all that info is related in this: Rationality.

So - very typical to her she brings along food, tucked in bags, filling at least one of her suitcases (large) and such.  And generally not in your typical food containers - she has a predilection for containers that leak, like old shopping bags, used plastic containers that should have just been tossed out.  You get the idea.

Today I'm cleaning up the boys room, what mom is using while here, and I come across a leaking bag that has (again) mysterious items inside.

I set up a place for her at the breakfast bar with the trashcan handy and instruct  er, ask her to go through the bag and take out what's good and throw the rest away.

It took some *cough* encouragement on my part but she actually did eventually sit down to address the bag.

Two of the items she pulled out was a container of peeled bananas and a large bag of pre-baked frozen potatoes from Olive Garden that she received from the senior center.  (Are those donated food fresh anyway?) So lets just assume that the bananas and potatoes are fresh on . . say Dec 3 when she left her state . . . she kept them in the suitcase that I just found today. That is unrefrigerated perishables at least, at least, 2 weeks old.

She is unwilling/unable to just toss them.  Olive Garden potatoes are *SO* good, you know. And the weather temperature is cool and all . . . even in our home.

So I set her up to boil the potatoes . . . questioning the whole time WHY she was doing this, why she felt she needed to keep the potatoes and bananas, why she felt she needed to bring them along anyway?  Why why why  . . . and her thinking is that if no one can eat her (smelling rotten) potatoes then she will keep them for her dog.  About 600 miles away.

It's a lot of potatoes.

And as we've seen before - she will force herself to eat some nasty stuff.

There is no reason for this.

At least not in our reality.

And the bananas?

I just have one word of warning - beware banana bread as gifts . . .

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mice in my belly

I remember sitting as a little girl hearing my belly rumbling.

The only other sound I knew like that, and knew well, was the sound of mice running in the walls.

So - obviously - I concluded that I had mice running around in my belly.

The amazing adaptability of kids - nothing registered in that memory of being unacceptable.  Only now as an adult does the situation appall me.  That hunger was familiar, accepted and just thought of like a state of being. That mice in the walls was familiar and "norm".  And the idea that I had mice in my belly was just as accepted in a more of a "huh, well, waddayaknow" type of way.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

And in mystery bag number 2 . . . .

I am beyond the point of trying to change or "fix" my mother.  I have accepted that I can't.  So life now mostly consist of keeping mom's crazy out of my own.

But this is crazy.

My mother swings between a germaphobe to it's opposite.  And no matter where she may be swinging on the pendulum - she considers all she does as "normal".

She's concerned about germs so much that if were driving in a car and someone sneezes even into a kleenex, she will roll down her window for a couple of minutes to get some "clean air".  No matter the weather.

She's obsessive about the cleanliness of my kid's hands if we go anywhere, and several times has gotten into an argument with one kid or another about using the "stinky gel" on their hands when they certainly don't want to.

But she lives in filth.  She lives in cat urine and feces, food rot and mold.  But as long as she has her hand gel she all good.

And no one sneezes.

So about a week ago, as is common when we go to pick her up so she can visit and shower here at our place, she brought a "mystery bag".  These mystery bags usually contain some sort of rotting food, or nasty concoction that she thinks in her visit with us would go bad before she got back to her house.  She has a point, because what she is trying to eat is usually already half spoilt.

When she gets here she will quickly stick whatever mystery bag she has into my fridge.  Aaaannd sometimes she doesn't, which is worse.  I've ranted asked her not to bring any foods or mystery bags because they usually get forgotten for me to find and toss later and they stink and I hate it.  But to no avail.

Anyway - back to a couple of weeks ago and mystery bag #1.  This one is black.  As I was picking up my mom she handed me the bag to put in the car while she turned around to go get her dirty laundry (also done at my place) I peek into the bag and among other things I see a musk mellon that is starting to rot - it has it's green/blue patch and white fuzz all started and progressing.

I roll my eyes and  place it in the car.  It's useless to ask her not to bring that nastiness into my home because I can almost verbatim tell you how the argument would go - and it would all boil down to her saying that the melon will go completely bad if she leaves it and that the spoilt spot is just that - a spot -and she will cut off the bad part and eat the rest which is "perfectly good" and we will all live happily ever after. But with a lot, a lot, a lot, a lot, *a lot* more words and frustration.

Except I know she will not.  She will not pull the musk mellon out, she will not cut out the spot and she will not eat any "good parts".  She will carry around that rotting musk mellon until it has liquified, and there is truly no spot left to salvage.  My goal now is to just make sure that melon doesn't get left behind in my house after we've taken her home.  *That* goal I achieve.

Then this last week - I turn a corner in my house and I smell something horrible.  It's different than stink I'm familiar with.  It's not mold, it's not poop, it's not rotting oranges, those are all smells I recognize,  . . .it's kinda like fart that doesn't fade . . So I go around saying "What is that *smell*???" and start enlisting the kids to locate the offending object . . . problem is the smell is bad and fierce and has taken up residence in the whole living room.

My mother is located and questioned and she admits to another mystery bag.  It might be it, she says, because some of the food in the bag is starting to go bad and (prep yourself for the implication here) I am hypersensitive to rotting citrus.

Yes, yet again, she is "normal", having some citrus that is starting to be on the bad side, but still "good" and I am the abnormal one overreacting to a minor smell.

I assure you, this was not the case.  By witness of my family, it was no minor smell.

Mother is firmly instructed to take said mystery bag to the OUTSIDE trash immediately.  And yes, I will even let her blame my "hypersensitivity" for the *irrational* request I am making.  And that is when mystery bag comes to light.

It is the same bag from about a week ago.  The mellon one, remember?  THE MELLON ONE!  The same one that had a spoiling musk mellon among other things?  SO WHO KNOWS WHAT THE SMELL MIX IS but this is BAD BAD BAD!!!

Mom disappears for a while.  Because finally after receiving the ultimatum, and completely unable to let ANY 'good' food go to waste, I catch sight of her eating from the nasty mystery bag on my steps outside.

If you are not thoroughly disgusted by that, I am a failure at descriptive writing.

And let me just add a note here.  When mom is here with us, we feed her, and we feed her well . . . there is no. logical. need. for any of this . . .

This visit with mother doesn't end here.  On her way out she noticed the grilled cheese sandwich that my son didn't eat and had sat on the table overnight.  This sandwich had been set out for the dog days ago.  And even the dog wasn't interested.  My mom was, though.  And she picked it up, got a ziplock bag and took it with her for her trip.  I explained that it had sat by the dog dish outside for days already, but she insisted it was still "perfectly good".  And had every intention of eating it.

But, never you fear, she most assuredly used some sanitizing gel beforehand.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Isn't this pretty?
I got it for my college graduation.

Yet I can not look at it without a sharp stab of pain to my heart.

I made my mother cry.

When I was almost 15 my extended family stepped into our situation and offered me the opportunity to live and finish high school with them.  Since I was "on the wrong path" at home, my mom reluctantly agreed.  It was something that I wanted  more than anything.  My mother always saw the move as temporary - one that she would put an end to when she moved closer to where I was and the school I was attending.

Her plan did not go well and at 17 - with a year left until I would be a legal adult my extended family fought for me and won legal guardianship.  And my mother, unable to see where she did anything different, take any responsibility, she just couldn't  understand.  It was about this time that the quote for the blog happened.

She was sure that everyone was against her and I was brainwashed.  Our extended family had turned me against her.  And would begin a bitter and acerbic tirade.  It continues to this day if you tap that root.

Graduation and College later, she is still bitter and family encounters are tense and sparse.  But my guardians would be at graduation and I want it to be a fun and celebratory day - so when my mom called about making plans to come to it, I quite plainly told her I didn't want her there.

And she cried like I had just ripped her heart out.

And I caved in.  All throughout this life we, and extended family too, have never set out to hurt her - she is loved by her siblings, I would wager, more than loved by us, her kids.  It's an odd definition of "love" when your dealing with an "off" parent.

Anyway - she came.  She pouted at the table where we all sat, but she didn't tirade (I don't remember one anyway) and she gave me this music box as a graduation gift.

You know what the song is?

"Wind Beneath My Wings" because I was her hero.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

PUT IT DOWN: how she can't pass anything by

I took my mom out the other day.  She keeps picking things up.  Paper, labels, cans, and watch 
out places with free brochures!  She stockpiles.

I don't think anyone else wold find it unusual - but it is embarrassing to me and then we end up with all this paper junk - that she is NOT willing for us to toss because she is "interested to read it" even though that point never really manifest itself.

So walking from store to car she stops to see what some misc paper on the ground is and I have to say "Leave it there, you don't have to take it with you!"  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. 


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Animals in the House

A situation came up where my mother's assistance was appreciated.  So she stayed with me for most of the week.  Went home once to take care of things at her house,  and came back later that day.

It's been hot lately - as is common for summer - and 5 days into her second stay she said she should be getting back, since she didn't leave that much water for her cat.

Her Cat.  I had forgotten that lately she had acquired a kitten, and I hate it.  My mother can become an animal hoarder - and the conditions of her animals aways just kills me.  Every memory that links my mother to an animal makes me cringe.

So, I know her cat is locked in her house.  I *hope* it is free to roam around, and isn't locked in an non-working, stinking, hot bathroom, like her last cat that died there.  I *hope* it can get water and food and all these days my mother has been away it hasn't been enduring this heat without.  But I can only hope.

This brings me to another point.  Mom doesn't keep a litter box.  Never has, never will.  She may *may* have a box or something filled with dirt or maybe she actually did purchase some kitty litter.  But it is NEVER maintained.  I speak from YEARS of experience.  Just trust me on this.

Then my mom gets peeved when the cat starts going in other places that are not the litter box.  But that by no means means that these other cat messes are cleaned up or dealt with.  By no means.

I really CAN. NOT. think about this cat at all.  Beyond this post I'll spend energy trying to not think about it.

Because it physically hurts my heart.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Dinner Chez Moi

I've got the potato chip crusted salmon in the oven for my spouse, hamburgers on the grill for the kids and I was just thinking about my journey as a cook for my family.

Lately, I've been using E-mealz to help me plan and prepare my meals . . it's been GREAT!

Anyway - it works for me, easy and usually has a variety with pork, beef, chicken and fish.

So - serving up these fairly easy meals, my mom has been lately raving about how WELL I cook, "Just like a restaurant!" and RAVING.

I admit it's been nice on the ego, and at the same time it bother's me a tad that she's so *amazed* when I do produce something palatable.

Today mother is not here - and with dinner almost done, and my wondering if I should use frozen vegs with rice or just skip the rice . . . I thought how she would once again be raving, were she here.

But in all honesty - these are not extravagant meals.  My mother would be awed at the put together meal at Dennys.  She would!  It's just not at all what we *ever* had at home.  *Ever* . . .

SO - any cooked meat with some colorful vegetables on the side and a starch of some sort is kinda amazing to her.

In my childhood, I can not remember a single put together meal from her.  Not. a. one.

I do remember some mixed up something in an electrical pan . . . but not regularly.  I remember getting the free lunch offered at the park.  I remember passing Burger King and wondering  hedging a bet that I could probably find food in the dumpster behind there, if I dared to look.  I remember longing for peoples scraps at public places.  I was about 7 or 8 at the time.  I remember being hungry.

We used to receive government help too - the government issue cheese, government issue powdered milk- *heh* I don't remember what else, but I know one of the things we got were the powdered eggs.

My brother tells a story about this hunger, he was about 9 or 10 years old at the time.  He too was hungry and looked for something, but there was nothing edible except this bag of powdered eggs.  So - what's a boy to do?  He added water, cooked them up and ate them all down.  It made a lot.  But he ate them all.

He tells me they vaguely tasted like eggs.

Soon after he ate them he started to feel sick.  He is traumatized by the experience to this day.  And it took him, he says, about 2 years before he could eat real scrambled eggs at all.

The crazy thing is that if my mother could have budgeted, we would have been fine.  Something that even as a child I released.  I knew, young as I was, that the reason we didn't have anything to eat is because mother would spend what little we did get from social security on junk.  Like coloring books and doll clothes.  Stuff she wouldn't let us use because they were for "gifts" or stuff that we didn't want, definitely didn't need.


So, I didn't grow up knowing how to cook, but I can follow a recipe.  And my spouse LOVED the potato crusted salmon today.  Even if the kid didn't.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Talked to death

I love the quiet. I don’t like talking to people. I don’t like when people talk to me. I often wear head-phones just so people will think I am listening to my IPod when in reality it’s not on. I have caught myself pretending to be deaf just so people will stop talking to me. Crazy isn’t it. Well, it runs in the family.

I remember my mother’s incessant talking. How someone can be speaking at all times is beyond me, yet my mother seemed to always be talking, flooding my head with unending words and words and words. Often biter reviles of people she was upset with or erroneous accusations of having been wronged by someone or something. And when I would chime in to correct or disagree I would find myself the target of her diatribe. Hours on-end of non-stop talking, at times, in stretches of 5 hours or more and chained together throughout the day as long as there was someone within earshot.

What was amazing to me was the absence of any kind of a break in the unending stream. I recall the odious feeling I would have of listening as she would try to produce words while she was inhaling. Body language, hints of disinterest and even pleas of “Stop Talking!” would pass as white noise to her. I would leave the room only to be followed into the next, immediately turning around to try and leave again only to be followed once more. On and on, day after day, year after year; I remember feeling trapped, suffocated.

There seemed to be no escape. No escape from the mess, and the shame that came with it, no escape from the animals, the stench or the irrational hoarding, no escape from the incessant talking.
When I was around 14 I decided I would rather be dead and decided to kill myself. An overdose would do nicely and became my plan. Not to ruin the story but I didn’t kill myself. I did, however, end up in the mental health ward of our county hospital having attempted suicide by overdose. I was literally trying to kill myself to escape.

I didn’t know then what I know now… things change. (Just ask my beautiful, considerate with her words, wife).

Having written this; I think I will go home, clean my house and take a nice long quiet bubble bath.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Memories that hit you in the gut.

I was in my late twenties when a memory suddenly came back - so fast and so strong that it felt like getting knocked in the gut.  Took my breath away.

I was small, maybe 8 or 9 or so . . . and we lived in an old house that had vents in the floor for heat?  I'm guessing.  They were rectangular, maybe a foot wide, 2 foot long . . .

I was little, so I'm just going off what it seemed like to me.  Anyway - the memory was me, sitting on top of that vent to keep it down, since a bunch of kitty faces where trying to push their way out.

Why those kitty's were in the heating vents?  Why so many that I had to SIT on the vent to keep them down - I'm talking about 15 or 20 cats - because my mom loves animals.

It's an unhealthy, hoarding, love.  Take, keep, and hold so close that it suffocates 'em.

This house had a basement, and that's where she kept the cats.  She thought kittens were wonderful and that it was cruel (not to mention would cost money) to fix em, so she didn't.  And the cats were allowed to multiply in the basement.

The basement already was at hoarder state, you didn't walk around the floor . . . you walked over stuff - but after a while, with all the cats, we didn't even go down there.  Mom didn't keep a litter box.  Every now and again she would send one of us kids down with dirt in a box down there for them.  We never removed the other ones.

The smell was so bad that you could taste it on the way down.  That had to be pretty extreme because, the house where we did our daily living already smelled super bad!  So, the basement smelled stronger than our  already bad smelling house that I was used to as a child.

And to feed them we'd buy a large bag of cat food, open it and just throw it down there.  I don't remember anything about water.

But there had to be water, because there were all those cats alive, and trying to push their way out through the vents.

And it hurt me so much to be sitting on those vents to hold them down, but that's what I had to do.

To this day I HATE it when I hear she has an animal with her.  My heart breaks for the animal, and I often felt relieved when I heard that one died - so the torture would be over.

And I've always been bothered by birds in cages, fishes in small bowls, etc.  They make me uncomfortable and sad.

And yet I never remembered this until my late 20's.  There is a lot I don't remember of my childhood.

Scary - isn't it.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


I had to "hide" my trash today.  I usually have to be pretty sneaky since it's really hard for my mom to resist "rescuing" empty containers, bones, bottles or boxes . . . and if I can get it in there and cover it up somehow then it generally will stay there.

Today I had to toss these VERY MOLDY oranges.  My mother brought them over in this bag - but I don't know exactly when.  I just had to subtly take the whole bag and covertly stuff them down the trash - otherwise mom would pick the bag out saying that not ALL the oranges are like this and that some might only have a bit of mold which would be easy to cut off . . .

If mom would have found the bag - she would have taken it back out, but it's doubtful that she'd actually sort and cut said "good ones".   It's her M.O.

It may have been true - and I may have been entirely too wasteful,  but with childhood years of having dealt with moldy food, and in a position where I don't have to eat them now, I reserve the luxury of choosing not to save them.

I groan with annoyance as I tuck them under some crumpled trash - because I specifically told her not to bring over fruit or foods since we have all we/she needs or wants here, and have the means to buy anything she would like - but perhaps that why I found the bag- she didn't tell me about it.

She has an orange tree in her yard and it produces oranges abundantly - but she only likes to bring the oranges that have fallen from the tree (a lot!) so that we get the "eat em now or they mold" oranges.

We don't eat oranges that fast.

To her it is torture to think that the "perfectly good" oranges will be wasted.  Torture.

That's the way it is with everything.  So, big issues have been had when a little bit of milk at the bottom of my gallon jug has slightly soured.   When my mom is here I do not have the liberty to just toss it.  She insists on drinking it, or using it.  Even when we've had a fresh gallon ready in the fridge.  She absolutely insists.

So generally - if I want to throw something away while she is here, it has to be a covert operation. - I usually wait until she's gone and then I go through the house, the fridge, and freezer, around the bed she used, the one drawer designated for her when here, it's top, and toss out any other little surprises, salvaged trashed, bits of leftover toast or other foods someone didn't finish.

I'll stop there for now.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Doesn't everybody?

My mom is a hoarder, although mostly she will deny, deny, deny.  This isn't a picture of one of our houses, but it is strikingly familiar.  I can even tell you how it smells there  . . .

The first time I watched to show "Hoarders" my heart was racing the whole time.  I recognized and related with EVERYTHING!  That was my childhood . . . rooms like this pictured here, PLUS we had animals (most of the real bad hoarders do) and those animals wet and defecated all over the house, and that was left there.  But I'll talk about the animal situation in another post.

So, added to the animal smell, there was/is a rotting food smell - especially citrus.  And a moldy smell.  This mix is still with my mother.  When I go pick her up - from her house that looks pretty much the same - maybe a bit more walking space - everything about her has her oder . . mildew and more.  Her clothes, skin, etc.  

Since she IS a hoarder she constantly is picking up stuff for us and her grandkids - but if the items have been in her house for any length of time they come over smelling bad like that.  We accept it gracefully, but usually the items (if they can't be washed) disappear from the my house.

My kids love their grandma - but I did need to instruct them that grandma MAY smell when we pick her up, but to make a big TOO DOO about it would hurt her feelings so kindly, and for the love of Grandma , be kind.  When my kids have told her of her oder she either thinks that the kids are being mean to her, or that it was because of one specific thing - like she was working in the garden and my be sweaty . . . deny, deny, deny.

When I've asked her about a PARTICULAR room (of the many  all of them) she'd say "Oh that was just that room and EVERY ONE has a room they use for storage . . ."  Or something like that.

Rotting food, animal waste, mold . . . oh - and human stink.  One thing that is peculiar to mom is that in whatever home she has lived (with or without me and my siblings) the bathroom is either broken, or it breaks down.  For a while there we lived in a house that had an unfinished bathroom so we used a bucket outside.  I was about 13 then.  It was mortifying.  I can't remember what happened to the bucket once it filled up.  I think mom just made us dump it out somewhere.  

Yes.  Made us.  The kids.

When my mother had her period . . . GOOD LORD!  But I really think I'll save that for a different day.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Something else that drives me crazy

It's what I call "double parenting" me . .

My daughter, surprisingly, eats pretty healthy by choice.  She loves cucumbers, carrots, celery or apples and we usually have one or more of these with lunch that she helps herself to, but in the mornings she usually eats just a buttered toast.  That's what she wants and she does just fine until lunch time.

This morning we were getting ready to leave to go to walk to her school and mom starts telling her that she needs to pick something like an orange or something to eat.  Not ask or offer, but tell her she MUST pick something else to eat before she goes to school.  And I'm standing right there.

My daughter- meanwhile is starting to stress out, since this has NEVER been the case, all she wants is toast.

And I have to step in and put my foot down - That is not a rule here, mom.  My daughter has never needed to do that, and usually leaves like this.

I pretty much have to veto all my mom has just said.

I get a little resistance - some talk- maybe something to the point of "I was just offering" but to be honest I wasn't listening, because I didn't care.  My home, my daughter, my rules.

And like I said before - this is totally under the realm of "normal" if it just wasn't all the time.

And another thing

This incessant talking.  I sat down to watch American Idol with my mom yesterday.  And she talked through/over the whole thing.  I think she might be a narcissist?  When I did zone into what my mom was saying it usually was about her talent, her experience or her opinion of another's talent . . .

But she does talk through movies, tv shows and the like.  And once she stops talking - she falls asleep!

I kid you not. :-)

And yet she'll say that she LOVES watching said programs/movies and only make comments as any other person might express an opinion during a show.

Thats the sneaky part of this madness - everything she does is generally appropriate to a point.  Any isolated incident can easily be justified away . . . but it's the "all-the-time" ness of it that get to you.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Mom can amaze me on a daily basis with her incessant talking.

No one needs to respond, no one needs to necessarily be there and she will just talk talk talk.  I realize that she's been talking today, and I've zoned out and have moved onto other things and every once and a while I'll zone back in - like checking up on her, and -yup - she's still talking.  It's amazing~ really

This gets me crazy when the kids are needing attention, asking three different things at once and she's still talking, over and at me . . . I do my best to remain respectful, but usually someone gets a curt tort from me "Just a MINUTE!"