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calendar   Wednesday - April 10, 2024

Once Again, The One And Only Post

April 8, 2024


And now to do battle with Medicare. They just denied further coverage , effective Friday, for my mom’s stay at the nursing home after less than 3 weeks. So we’re doing an appeal. Will have to pay the home’s per diem until a decision is reached. After that, who can say? I love not knowing the status of anything until the last damn minute.

WTH, I was going up to the home tomorrow anyway. Might as well spend the time there filling out forms and stuff.


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April 8, 2024


Also our roads are in great repair and there is almost no crime



Email from the county:


image



The cynical take is that our taxes have been far too high since 2015 at least.


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Ok, so the 3 of us got together and tried to do a birthday get together for mom. We got big helium balloons, and a nice card, and made some positive inspirational message banners and signs to hang around her room, some with our photos and names on them, brought her some simple little gifts of chocolate and caramel popcorn, got her laundry squared away finally. And sadly, she was in bed, and was hardly in her head that day. She did know that Sunday was her actual birthday, so that was good. I’d seen her the day before and she was a touch out of it, sitting in her travel chair in the common area singing quietly to her lunch until I sat down and said hi, at which point she was able to focus on me, at the mental cost of being able to use a fork. 4 days before that I’d visited and we had a good conversation, and she could read things and hold a coffee cup on her own. So the dementia comes and goes, or something.


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Teach your children well ... does anybody teach them anything?

So I got some pizza yesterday. Looked at the online menu and it says that credit card orders get a 4% surcharge. And I had a couple fives and ones and a $100 bill in my wallet. So I drove down to get the pie; the bill was $26.98. I gave the young girl $107 cash. She had no idea what to do and tried to give me the $7 back. I told her to just enter the money I’d given her, you’ll see what happens. Surprise!! My change was 4 $20s and 2 pennies. Told her I used to be a cashier when I was her age, and once you learn how to make change and what cash going in makes minimal change coming out you never forget. But, like, OMG; the register does the math for you. 


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April 3, 2024


Trying to put together a little thing for mom’s 89th birthday Sunday. Some balloons, a couple of cards, a door sign and a banner or two. Nothing extreme. Just to let her know we remembered her day and that we’re always there in spirit if not always in person.

And of course, we can only go up there the day before, early afternoon, and we can’t stay all day. Which is probably for the best, as she tires out pretty quickly.

I wasn’t there Easter Sunday, I was at the wifely’s dad’s house. We had a deep discussion about my mom, and they gave me some very good advice and a new perspective. So I’m far more settled than I was before. Cleaning up and cleaning out the house is still going to be a gigantic undertaking, but we’ve got a plan and have found at least one trusted person who can come and help with some of the cleaning.


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March 30, 2024



Happy Easter!

May your faith be strengthened and renewed.


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Bowling Blogging??

We got whupped 2-5 both on Wednesday and Friday league this week, as everyone else but us suddenly remembers how to bowl in the last few weeks, making their tactical push towards the front of the pack. We got utterly smeared last night at “starter league” in which a family team flattened us. 20-something daughter threw a 619 series after totally coasting in game 3, shaving loads of points. Her guy, the SIL, with his 209 average, threw a 770 series and he was coasting in the 3rd game too. So he was almost 150 over average for the night. Dad is their anchor and bowled great the first 2 and then coasted in g3 to come out in the 650s. Mom is on the team to keep their handicap down, but even she was well over her 110 average in the first 2 games. Only reason we won g3 is because I was 15 over and our anchor pulled a 256 from somewhere and finished off the last 3 frames with X X XXX to put 90 pins up.

I don’t want to be in a “starter” league with bowlers who can hit an 800 series and coast to a 770. I guarantee you he now has the high series for the entire season. Go find a hardcore league. Problem is, any league will take anybody who shows up and pays. It’s a business, and there aren’t all that many league bowlers left. I know plenty of guys who are in 3 or 4 leagues. I’m in 2 and I’m not all that good. Wifely too.


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We’re off to visit the nursing home again. I want to go, but I really don’t want to go. It’s hard and painful and heartbreaking to deal with, and I’m always a little afraid of what I’m going to find. But I go anyway, and sometimes we go together, because no one else is.
Too many residents in these places have been parked and deliberately forgotten about. The nursing home is 96 beds; in the log book the other day there were 5 visitors, and 3 were reps there on business. So just 2 people there to visit the patients.

March 26, 2024


I got to witness a late stage dementia episode yesterday. My first time. All the inner demons came bubbling out one after another. The anger, the yelling, the strings of words that made no sense, the fear and upset and tears. And the incontinence.

Well, eventually we got some room aides to come, they got her off the toilet where she wasn’t supposed to be, got her cleaned up and got a new diaper on her, and got her over to her new bed which is super low to the floor. They don’t restrain the patients there, either physically or through drugs, so they laid out some giant soft mats on the floor in case she throws herself off the bed. Again. I got her oxygen line set up, got her her stuffed red panda, and talked her down and got her calm. We dimmed the lights and she was going to nap, so it was time for us to go.

We left the place and felt like screaming. And had ourselves a good stiff drink when we finally got back home.

Her symptoms are classic. The repeating everything you say to her without understanding it, her talking about shreds of memory from her deep past combined with other shreds to form ideas of things that never happened that she talks on and on about, her repeating the same things over and over and over, and her instant emotional shifts. I don’t know who is in my mother’s mind but the real her gets out less and less. And that’s so painful to witness. To say nothing of her body just wasting away, even if she is eating pretty well lately. Ok, she can’t usually handle cutlery, or a plastic glass or a mug, so I sat and fed her little spoons of her lunch and sips of the things she had to drink. And she kept trying to eat the napkin again.

I feel hollow inside. As if grief and exhaustion and my frustration about how things ever got to be this bad (the trail goes back to 1995 at least) have just eviscerated me and I’m nothing much more than a shell at this point.

https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/help-dementia-care/recognising-when-someone-reaching-end-their-life



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March 21, 2024


Nothing major to report on mom’s condition. She is still in the nursing home and comfortable. She is eating well and can mostly feed herself. I think she can even hold a cup. She is getting some rehab physical therapy; I was at her first session and they were training her to go from a chair to her walker, walk about a bit, and from her walker back to a chair. They had her do some leg exercises with light ankle weights on. Given that she was lying in a hospital bed for 13 days and then in bed at the home another 2, I was impressed - verklempt! - to see her putting about in the hallways with the walker. The PT lady got her set up with an oxygen concentrator in her room, and a portable tank for when she’s doing PT. This keeps her O2 at or above 94%, which is good and helps keep her mind sharp. Or what’s left of it. The dementia is pretty strong. 91% is not enough for mental clarity; I know this, having O2 at home on my BiPap. 91 will keep you alive, but it’s borderline. She was reading 97% the last time I had her at her doctor, but those little finger meters aren’t the most accurate things. One will read high, one will read low, and if your fingernails are too long they won’t read at all.

I dusted off a really nice stuffed animal I bought her 30 years ago and took it to her, so she has a bed kitty critter to play with and hold. Actually it’s a Chinese red panda, life size and soft. So she can pet it and hug it and squeeze it, which will help her hands. PT is only for her legs, with encouragement to stand up straighter. Hand work counts as occupational therapy so it isn’t covered. Go figure.

We went to Walmart and bought her some inexpensive new clothes, so she has a couple outfits that are fresh and colorful. And I got her some low elastic socks to wear under her shoes, and we found the shoes. This is progress, believe it or not.

We’re heading up there tomorrow for a visit, and maybe I can talk to the PT lady to see what the goalposts are and what their time windows are as well. As long as she is making progress she can stay there. Otherwise it’s home Hospice with aides coming by. We’re getting set up for that at her house but it’s going to take quite a bit of work to clear space for a bed in the living room and get things cleaned up and thinned out. So we’ll have a visit, probably do a video Google Meet call with my brother via wifely’s tablet so mom can easily see my sibling at home. He’s wheelchair bound and has become weaker himself, so getting him out the door and into and out of a vehicle might be more challenge than it’s worth. We’ve got Meet set up but will test it with my brother before heading to the nursing home. The tablet has a stand so she doesn’t have to hold it or even touch it. And I want to find a good position for his cellphone so his face is fully visible and the phone doesn’t move around.


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Yeah, so that’s my life lately. Knee pain still gets me, I’m still trying to bowl. We lost 2-5 Wednesday night, but won 5-2 Friday night. I threw pretty well, and managed a 203 in Game 3. Happy me. I’m going to have to bowl in shorts, as the damn knee braces need precise placement and constant adjustment. They go on tight, then my legs get compressed, so they shift to a bad position, OW OW OW. And the clasps pop out far too often. Try managing that under blue jeans. Not easy.



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March 21, 2024


Don’t Fear The Reaper. He’s Not Here Yet.

Mom is now in a nursing home experiencing the gentle wonders of palliative care. Palliative care means making someone comfortable. It’s the term the medical community uses when they don’t want to say “hospice”, but the two are synonymous. And hospice is letting people die in moderate amounts of peace and comfort. And that’s where we are now.

The hospital cured her of the bacterial illness she had. Another UTI. A urinary tract infection can mimic the symptoms of dementia or make existing dementia seem worse. And boy does it ever. So after a week with the IV in her arms delivering medicine and other good things, her mind came back to some extent. I was able to have a good visit with her and we could talk. OK, I did most of the talking, but she could follow what what being said and put in a germane comment now and then, or mention some related memory or something like that.

So after a week of mental anguish, several different approaches, and countless phone calls all over, the insurance company approved the decision that they had just refused a few days before, and she has been transferred to a nursing home. I was there when she was brought in, I was there to visit 2 days later, and I’m going back today. Ok, some visit will be done, I’ve a couple little presents for her just for fun, we’ll talk a little and just share the love.

And then I have a meeting with the social services director, where we have to work out “forward planning”, which is going to come down to “keep her dry and clean and change her diaper a couple times a day, feed her if she’ll eat, and let nature take it’s course.” This is going to break my soul because it feels like I’ll be signing her death warrant. I’ll be sentencing my mother to die. Murder by decree. But the truth is death is already very close; every time the phone rings my thought is that it’s The Call, and I’ve had that trepidation since July or thereabouts.

It breaks my heart to say it, but she has just wasted away to little more than skin and bones. Her body has no muscle left. She looks one of those concentration camp pictures from WWII. Well, almost.  I’m certain she weighs no more than 100lb, this woman who once stood 5’7” and a slender but comfortable 135. It stuns me how fast this all came about. A year ago on her birthday we were walking around the yard and she was noticing all the plants and trees and what needed to be done and what her yard guy could manage and so on. Even last Fall she could still walk around the house, go up and down the stairs, do some cooking and laundry, and live a fairly normal life considering she was a shut in.

And when it’s over, then I have to deal with my brother, her partner in crime. Him in his wheelchair and his issues. The house is a filthy nearly-hoarder pile of stuff. They could always buy more stuff, more furniture, more doo-dads, but nothing ever got thrown away. It a;; has to go. Easily 16 pieces of furniture, and 3 big dumpsters of clothes, and old stuff. Anybody want an electric warming tray from 1968? It still works. How about a 1981 bread machine? I would like to keep most of the tools, and the compound miter saw. But the Shopsmith Mark V and all it’s accessories (millions of them) has to go. Have to find a buyer who can come and take it apart and get it out of the house.

Then we have to sell the house, and assuming he’s still alive, which is not a guarantee giving his half a dozen major comorbidities, we will have to also sell our condo and move up to Warren County NJ or across the river into PA in the Bangor area. Find some place for the 3 of us, and live simple.


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March 7, 2024


She was taken to the hospital an hour ago. Do not know what they can do, cannot get clear take from my brother’s texts. She cannot come back to the house at this point, he cannot care for her. Apparently her condition has deteriorated significantly since I was there Monday, and it was pretty bad then; much worse than when I was there 2 weeks before that. And it wasn’t good then either.

But he still isn’t willing to say that a home health aide won’t be enough. So what can I do?


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March 5, 2024


End of her road approaching, one exit left

My mother is dying. This is a terrible thing to say, and a difficult and painful thing to accept. But it’s true nonetheless.  While her physical health is pretty good, her mental health gets worse almost every day, and her body follows along with it. As of this week she can hardly walk. She doesn’t have the strength to stand up from a chair or the couch even with the assistance of a walker to hold on to. She can’t dress herself, or undress herself, or do much of any personal hygiene. She’s pretty much lost all bladder control. Sometimes she can talk and sometimes she can’t, as the dementia ravages her mind. And she’s barely eating. She can’t manage a knife, fork, or spoon; she can barely manage a small cup. Even though the doctor got her appetite stimulant pills, she continues to lose weight. I took her to her doctor yesterday. She’s lost another 5 pounds since 2 weeks ago. There really isn’t anything that can be done. He’s putting us in touch with county hospice, who can do some kind of at-home assessment and give her some palliative care in the time she has left.

She’s lost the will to live, she’s lost the will to eat. Her mind is deteriorating at an alarming rate. 3 months ago she could walk around inside the house and follow most conversations; 5 months ago she could walk around out in the yard. She could carry on conversations and even do some light cooking and housework, and was at least a bit aware of the news and the outside world. 4 years ago she was driving, and was as sharp as she ever was. 3 weeks ago she could control her feet and legs enough to get in and out of my car, although she hasn’t been able to figure the seat belt for some time now. Yesterday getting her out the door, in and then out of the car, and up the elevator to her doctor was nearly impossible.

She will be 89 on April 7. I really don’t have much faith she’ll make it that long.

I cried and cried for hours when we got home last night. But there’s nothing that can be done. My brother lives with her, and will try to get her to eat and stay reasonably clean and fresh. And that’s it.

I can’t write anymore.


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February 29, 2024


Happy Leap Day !!

Once upon a time, long long ago, I think today was known as the calends. Because it’s the end of the calendar. A free extra day. Because the “modern” calendar the West has been using since the Roman Empire is slow by around 6 hours a year, so every 4 years we add an entire day to mostly square things up again. And in general, that’s accurate enough. Ok sure, some bloodthirsty seriously anal Central American culture figured out a truly accurate system hundreds of years ago, but moving great big stone rings around was a pain, not to mention the constant upkeep on all those weird-ass looking carvings. And the buckets of blood. The lakes of blood. Um, no, I’ll keep my Timex, and we’ll add a day every once in a while. Much easier

Personally I think the entire world should just take today off. No work, no wars, no shopping. Have a drink or 3 and go back to bed. I dare say we could all use a day like that far more often than once every 4 years.


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February 22, 2024


Ok, this works. Scale it up if you want more dough. Once well rested and matured, this is a super extensible dough that can stretch out to “windowpane” thinness, and will bake nicely in a 500-500 oven in just a few minutes.

Autolysed Poolish NY Style Pizza Dough

Autolyse, or autolysis, is the term applied to the way flour breaks down when wet. Without any yeast or any heat, damp flour will soften up and start to form glutens. This is a good thing. About an hour is long enough.

A poolish is a “pre ferment”, in which a little bit of commercial yeast is added to a good amount of some very wet flour and left alone for half a day or so. Not only does it use less yeast, it creates lots of flavor, as the little flour bacteria start to breed. It’s kind of halfway to being sourdough, but with supplied yeasts, instead of what occurs naturally on the wheat in the field. A poolish is very wet, often 100% hydration.

Hydratian level is the amount of liquid in a dough, expressed as a mass percentage of the total amount of flour in a recipe. So 100% hydration would have a certain weight of flour, and the same weight of water. 50% hydration means the water weight is half that of the flour weight. Another kind of preferment, called a “biga” often uses 50% hydration. Bigas can be harder to work with because they are very stiff, but they are also rather forgiving time-wise to their peak yeastiness, whereas poolish is pretty close to flour soup but the yeast peak is a more narrow time window.

A New York style pizza dough needs to be a bit firmer than a Neopolitan dough, but also not brittle; a NYC street slice is a long thing, and everyone folds it in half lengthwise so the toppings don’t drip off.



image  image




Makes a bit under 800 grams of dough, which is enough for 2 15” pies

Mix together
323 grams King Arthur Bread Flour
139 grams King Arthur All Purpose Flour

then put 300 grams of the mixed flour in your mixer bowl. Set the remaining 162gm mixed flour aside.
To the mixing bowl add 270 grams of warm water. 270/300 = 90% hydration, so this will be pretty soft. You don’t knead here, just mix it up. Rough mix is ok; you can do this with bare hands or a wooden spoon or the beater in your stand mixer.
Cover the bowl and let it sit for an hour. It’s just flour and water.
Next, dissolve 1/4 teaspoon of instant yeast in 30ml of water, which is 1 fluid ounce. A good excuse to get out your cocktail jigger! Add this to the autolysed wet flour, then use the mixer to thoroughly mix in the yeast water. Cover, and leave it in the bowl on the counter for about 12-14 hours. When the poolish is ripe you will see plenty of little moon crater bubbles on top.

To the remaining flour, add an mix in 12 grams of salt, 1 teaspoon of instant yeast, 2 teaspoons of white sugar.  Pour this onto the poolish along with 2 teaspoons of Extra Virgin Olive oil. Mix on low speed for a minute or two, then knead on speed 2 for only 3 minutes. This slack dough will not require much kneading at all!

Now cover it up, leave it on the counter for 90 minutes, then into the fridge for at least 8 hours ... 2 or 3 days is fine; the longer it’s in there the better the flavors you’ll get.

When it’s time to make some pizza, dip both hands in plain all purpose flour, and carve off about half the dough, and work it. The flour on your hands will dry things out just a bit (it might take 2 dips in the flour) and leave you with a very soft dough you can play Pizza Guy with to your heart’s content. You can stretch this stuff out and out and out, to the point where you can easily see light through it. Windowpane!

and it tastes good too.


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February 20, 2024


Maybe, maybe I might be starting to get well. Or less sicker?

I have been very sick for 3 weeks now. A few days into the huge doses of Augmentin and the Prednisone, along with a ton of vitamins and some Mucinex tablets, and I might be turning a corner. Might. Not quite as much coughing, nose running much less.

The initial positive reaction was just initial; it’s still a fight and it doesn’t always go my way. but I’m doing everything I know how to do.

Sorry, that’s about all I have.


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Ok, I tried making pizza dough yesterday. And then found out later that there is a tremendous difference between a Neopolitian dough that’s designed to bake up in a minute in a 1000 degree oven, and the more or less New York style dough that will do well in a typical home oven which tops at at perhaps 550 degrees.

And all that other baker stuff ... use a biga, use a poolish, do an autolyse, do a chilled 72 hour ferment ... oh gak, a bit more than I could handle. But that was yesterday. Today I feel up to experimenting with a small amount of flour and water, enough to make one decent sized pizza when all is said and done.



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I might do some kind of beef and bean burrito thing for dinner. Keep it fairly small. Not sure what kind of cheese we have or how much. Beans and chiles, no problem there!


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February 17, 2024


Another week of light posting. Another week of being sick. Ok, I finally broke down and went to the local clinic. The extremely young woman PA set me up with some strong antibiotic and a heft 12 day dose of prednisone. Both prescriptions together cost me $2.26. Got home, took the first dose of each, and within an hour my nose is not running and I am not coughing and my chest is not congested. Son. of a. Gun.

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Not that very many people ever read this far down, but this blog was the creation of Allan Kelly and his friend Vilmar. Vilmar moved on to his own blog some time ago, and Allan ran this place alone until his sudden and unexpected death partway through 2006. We all miss him. A lot. Even though he is gone this site will always still be more than a little bit his. We who are left to carry on the BMEWS tradition owe him a great debt of gratitude, and we hope to be able to pay that back by following his last advice to us all:
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Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
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