Monthly Archives: June 2014

Ensure is the New Martini

Nursing home drama can be intense. “Orange is the New Black” has nothing on “Ensure is the New Martini.” Which is why I’ve moved my mom twice within the past week and she’s now in the same room where she started out.

She’s been in a two-person room, with a shared bathroom  between it and the one-person room next door. Recently the facility placed a man in the room next door, which is very upsetting to my mom’s old-fashioned sensibilities. She did not care to share a bathroom with a different gender, even though they’re obviously not both in there at the same time. Meanwhile, Mom’s roommate moved out. And one of the ladies two doors down from my mom moved out. The obvious solution was to emigrate my mother down two rooms. She’d be in an end room with its own bathroom. And her new roomie had always been nice to her.

The problem is the new roomie had been close friends with her previous roomie before either of them ever moved in. So she was mourning a loss, and people aren’t always rational when they’re mourning. I think that’s what led to her yelling at my mother to get out of her room and saying she didn’t like her, before then trying to remove my mom’s things, as much as she could while shuffling along with her walker. I was already on my way for a visit when the nurse called me to tell me about the kerfluffle.

I found my mom dabbing at wet eyes, and the head nurse speaking with the roommate, telling her she could have ended up with someone much worse than my mom in the new companion department. The lady apologized and said she’d do better, but my poor mom was good and scared. She asked to go back to her old room before they gave it to someone else and the option was gone. I felt like I did when someone was mean to one of my kids in grade school.

Usually, my mother manages to stay out of the drama, but there is always something going on. And really, Ensure is the new martini. It’s the after-dinner drink of choice in the skilled nursing setting. I think it’s only a matter of time before there’s a TV show about a nursing home, in a knock-off version of “Orange is the New Black.” There won’t be all of the sex, of course, but there will be the occasional resident stripping. Good thing they’re usually too arthritic to get very far before a staff member intervenes.

Think about it. It’s a facility filled with people who didn’t necessarily choose to be there. People from all walks of life, who otherwise might not have had much to do with each other. Some have connections with the outside and some are on their own. I’ve heard of one instance where a visitor smuggled in some hooch and possibly more. There are cliques and shifting alliances, and you have to watch your stuff to keep it from walking off to someone else’s room. That last doesn’t really happen too much, and when it does, it’s usually a matter of confusion more than anything. But it does happen some. I’ve even witnessed parallel scenes of residents being made to shower when they were pretty resistant to the idea, though it was done much more gently and with more respect in the real life nursing home than in the fictional prison. And no, it wasn’t my mom involved – she’s still meticulous about her hygiene.

I hope whoever moves in with my mom next is a real sweetheart. And a little part of me hopes whoever moves in with the other lady is not quite as much of one. But the bigger part of me knows I should try to be understanding. Mostly, I hope next week is boring.

 

 

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Rice and Beans and Four-Dollar Jeans

No, that’s not a lyric from a country song. It’s my life and how I’ve tried to live within my means even when my budget has been as tight as the shoes my kids were constantly outgrowing. We’ve eaten a lot of beans and rice. Hey, it’s not only cheap, it’s tasty and healthy. The $4 jeans refers to my penchant for buying clothes at thrift stores. It’s not only clothes – I rarely buy anything new.

My mother grew up in dire poverty, and thus learned to stretch a penny like nobody’s business. She passed these skills on to me. I’ve discovered if you look hard enough, you can find almost anything used. Probably my most serendipitous find was a $20 car-top carrier, purchased a week before we were leaving for a cross-country camping road trip. Here are some other bargains I’ve found at thrift stores and garage sales.

Look beyond the plant to the lace curtains. $10 for three sets.

Look beyond the plant to the lace curtains. $10 for three sets.                               

$15 wooden doll house. It came without the furniture, but we added that a room at a time each Christmas and birthday. My kids played the heck out of this for a good chunk of their childhood years.

$15 wooden doll house. It came without the furniture, but we added that a room at a time each Christmas and birthday. My kids played the heck out of this for a good chunk of their childhood years.                             

$5 bread machine. I've wanted one of these for years, and fufilled my wish a few weeks ago. Thanks to the gluten-free fad, there's a thrift store glut on these. It works! Yum.

$5 bread machine. I’ve wanted one of these for years, and fufilled my wish a few weeks ago. Thanks to the gluten-free fad, there’s a thrift store glut on these. It works! Yum.             

It doesn't get better than free. Found this table at the Curbside Mall when a neighbor was moving out. Snagged it before the trash truck did.

It doesn’t get better than free. Found this table at the Curbside Mall when a neighbor was moving out. Snagged it before the trash truck did.                                              

A few years ago, my son was obsessed with domino toppling. We found these fun sets at a thrift store for 50 cents each.

A few years ago, my son was obsessed with domino toppling. We found these fun sets at a thrift store for 50 cents each.     

Bought from another neighbor who was moving. Multi-game table for $25.

Bought from another neighbor who was moving. Multi-game table for $25.               

Our house was (and remains to an extent) a fixer-upper. When we moved in, we had no overhead light in the master bedroom. But $8 spent at a garage sale combined with my hubster's labor resolved that problem.

Our house was (and remains to an extent) a fixer-upper. When we moved in, we had no overhead light in the master bedroom. But $8 spent at a garage sale combined with my hubster’s labor and electrical know-how resolved that problem.                          

Everyone had a jean jacket but me. I felt left out. Until I found a rack of them at a consignment store. $10.

Everyone had a jean jacket but me. I felt left out. Until I found a rack of them at a consignment store. $10.                                     

$2 shower curtain.

$2 shower curtain.

$10 kitchen knife set, including a sharpener.

$10 kitchen knife set, including a sharpener. Yes, I know, my grout needs help. See the fixer-upper comment above. It’s on the list.       

$2 leather handbag. I've carried this for three years now. It does a fit a good-sized book, which is an important feature.

$2 leather handbag. I’ve carried this for three years now. It does a fit a good-sized book, which is an important feature.