Tuesday, April 13, 2021

MOVIE WEEKEND: MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

In case you didn't see my update on Nomadland, it won British Academy Film Awards for Best Film, Best Director, and Best Actress.

My word for Nomadland is beautiful, and my word for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is lush (2020; Rated R; it had a limited release in theaters and is now available only on Netflix, where I watched it).

This movie is completely different from Nomadland, and I love both movies. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is nominated for five Academy Awards: Best Actor (Chadwick Boseman); Best Actress (Viola Davis); Best Production Design (Mark Ricker, Karen O'Hara, Diana Stoughton); Best Make-up and Hair Styling (Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal, Jamika Wilson); Best Costume Design (Ann Roth). 

It's 1927. Ma Rainey (Viola Davis) is late. She's supposed to be at the recording studio, but she arrives when she wants to arrive. No matter that the white executives want to control her. They can't do it. 

But the situation there is tense. Ma is not happy, and she becomes even more unhappy because of the behavior of her young horn player, Levee Green (Chadwick Boseman). Tension builds and builds and builds until it breaks.

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is based on the play of the same name by August Wilson. It is so well written. I have yet to see Viola Davis give a performance that isn't astounding, and her portrayal of Ma Rainey is no exception. I confess I wondered if Chadwick Boseman was nominated at least in part because he passed away from colon cancer after completing this movie, but I certainly don't think that now. He more than holds his own against a number of veteran actors and is outstanding. 

Netflix also has a 31-minute documentary called Ma Rainey's Black Bottom: A Legacy Brought To The Screen. I recommend it. It helped me understand the costume and make-up choices.

I hope you have the opportunity to watch this movie and appreciate it as much as I did.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Friday, April 9, 2021

MOVIE WEEKEND: NOMADLAND

 Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

That time of year has rolled around again. I watch as many Academy Award nominees as I can.

This week my choice was Nomadland (2020; Rated R; I watched it on Hulu, but it's available in theaters).

Nominated for Best Picture (the list of producers includes Frances McDormand and Chlo√© ZhaoBest Actress (McDormand); Best Cinematography (Joshua James Richards); and Director, Editing, and Adapted Screenplay (all for Zhao), Nomadland is the kind of movie that's beautiful without showing off. 

Fern's (McDormand) husband has died. They lived in a company house in a company town. She has to leave and has no job. 

So she buys a van she names Vanguard and takes to the road, living simply and working where she can. She meets others who are nomads, such as Dave, played by David Strathairn––the only other name actor in the movie. The rest of the nomads are played by real nomads, with Linda May as a standout.

Nomadland isn't filled with tropes. Fern and Dave become friends, but no big romance develops with him saving her. Fern has an opportunity to take a dog that someone else left behind, but it's not a drama with Fern saving the dog and the dog saving Fern.

Instead, Fern listens and learns from the nomads. Yes, the movie is about loss and loneliness, but more important, it's about the gain of human connections and the comfort of people helping each other.

Nomadland is a great movie. 


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Update: British Academy Film Awards have been announced. Nomadland won Best Film; Zhao won Best Director; McDormand won Best Actress. Nomadland deserves the awards.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

MY GUESTS SOMETIMES DIE

 Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

When I moved to Florida I was surprised by all the lizards running around outside. 

Then I was really surprised when the lizards sometimes came in the house.

So I made a deal with them. If they didn't come inside, then I wouldn't kill them.

They didn't keep their end of the deal. So I sucked them up with the vacuum cleaner (not a good idea because they stink stank stunk), or I stabbed them with a fork.

Eventually I gave up and learned to appreciate the sight of a lizard sunning himself on a window sill or darting around the living room.

About a month ago, this guy turned up:


I took the living room curtains down to wash them, and there he was on the back of a curtain. I shook him off because I didn't want him fooling around in the washing machine.

He ran off to live in a closet in the foyer, but came out occasionally to torture Franklin and Penelope, who longed to remove his little lizard head.

Today, though, I found his corpse. Lizards usually like to die under the piano, but my lizard friend was right in the middle of the living room. We had become such close friends. He was a quiet companion. I tossed him out the front door.

Farewell, dear friend.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Monday, April 5, 2021

EVERYTHING'S COMING UP



Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Inspired by those of you who garden and/or have houseplants, I acquired some new plants. They face great peril and possible death in their journey with me. Get ready because this post will be a long one with lots of photos and some questions. I welcome your plant care advice.

The two rose bushes were here when I bought the house. I don't have to do anything to them. They bloom frequently.


A week ago I made additions to the backyard.

The petunias are cute. The lily is beautiful and gives off a great scent. I can smell it when I sit on the deck. I don't know if I gave the lily enough potting soil. It's not complaining so far.

If I do something different with the lily, then will it be happier? Should it be in a bigger pot? Would it like another lily next door for company or is it fine having petunias as a neighbor?

I didn't photograph two other additions that are next to the roses. I planted something I can't remember the name of, and also have some flowers described as DROP & GROW. So I dropped and  watered, but will they grow? 

If the stuff I planted comes up, I'll let you know. I might take photos of the dropped flowers so you can tell me what to do to make them grow. They didn't want their picture taken a few days ago.

I don't know what else to add to the backyard. I'd like to have some raised beds √† la Two Men And A Little Farm, but Lowe's doesn't seem to have pre-built raised beds and I am definitely not good at construction.

I also want to add some pretty flowers to the front of the house. What grows well in the shade? I have flower boxes under some of the windows, but don't know what to put in them. Maybe they should wait until I have new windows.

Next, I now have houseplants. They are all supposed to prefer indirect lighting.


We begin with the orchid.

The pot it came in is a pretty lavender, but it's small. Should I re-pot it?

A plastic clip holds the orchid to the stick to give it good posture, but should I remove the clip and the stick? 

Would it prefer living in the front yard? 








Next, meet anthurium. Its red flowers (are they flowers?) coordinate well with the red pot. 

I'm not worried about it unless you tell me why I should be. 









Finally, we have bamboo, which advertises itself as a good feng shui plant.

I'm sure I should repot the bamboo, but how big should its pot be for maximum happiness? 

It came with pretty, decorative stones around it. Will I need to add more of those to a larger pot for its topmost pleasure? I can't imagine it would like plain gravel, but I don't want to pay for rocks, albeit attractive ones.







So many questions and concerns, yet I'm eager to bring more flowers into my life. I await your responses, Gentle Gardeners.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Monday, March 29, 2021

UPDATE: THE LETTER WAS A MISTAKE

Happy Monday, My Friends:

A quick message: The letter I received that said I'm ineligible for help from the victim compensation fund was SENT IN ERROR. I'm relieved, yet frustrated.

This isn't the first problem I've encountered during this journey. 

I have to spend the afternoon contacting all the healthcare providers to let them know about the Florida statute that says victims aren't supposed to have co-pays or payments toward their deductibles––something that should have been dealt with at the time of my emergency room visits. 

When that's done, I look forward to reading your blog posts and commenting on them. 

Thank you for your kindness and your support.

YOU ARE THE BEST!


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Friday, March 26, 2021

STOP THE WORLD I WANNA GET OFF

 Today is not a happy day. Today is not a good day. I'm quite upset.

Today is my son's birthday. He is now 41 years old. An alcoholic. User of cocaine. Abuser, emotionally and physically. Great when he's not drunk and hideous when he is. Went to rehab for six months and then started drinking again immediately. Knew the police wouldn't make him leave my house no matter how many times I asked for help. Eleven inches taller than I am and outweighs me. Locked up because he's the attacker, which I've told a few of you or confirmed for others, and the rest of you probably suspected it. 

He's the giver of the gift that keeps on giving because I'm still filling out papers and dealing with problems. The latest is that I've been deemed ineligible for assistance from the victim compensation fund, according to a letter from the office of Ashley Moody, Attorney General State of Florida.

After jumping through hoops and filling out forms and sending them copies of detailed medical bills along with the case number and the name of the state's attorney and doing everything I'm supposed to do, I've been informed "there is no proof that a compensable domestic violence crime occurred." I guess FELONY ASSAULT isn't serious enough.

The first notice I received about the fund said I was eligible. The second notice said I'm eligible but I had to provide a copy of a letter to my health insurance company and all healthcare providers billing me because of two emergency room visits that a Florida statute forbids co-pays or payments toward a deductible for victims of crimes.

So I called the health insurance "concierge" to ask the best way of getting the letter to them. The person who answered was unfriendly to say the least and didn't seem to believe that such a statute existed, but I found out how to email the letter to them, which I had to do through My Page on their site, where attaching the letter proved somewhat difficult. Then I received emails back from the concierge dept. that were accusatory and impolite. 

Finally I received information about calling in a different dept. I spoke to someone in the other dept. yesterday. She was polite, empathetic, and helpful. Because my (COBRA) insurance is from a large corporation, they might not have to obey the mandate in Florida. The kind person is working on it. I still have to contact all the healthcare providers, who are in this area, yet somehow don't know about the statute. They've never had to deal with a victim of a violent crime before? 

But every time I have to deal with what happened, it's hard. It's worse when people are rude. It's even worse when they demonstrate no empathy. 

Oh, and I'm also ineligible because I didn't provide proof of relocation expenses. 

I didn't relocate.

So now I have to open yet another gift from my son and continue with the mission to make people aware of the statute and failing a reasonable response from the healthcare providers, I have to appeal the decision relating to the victim compensation fund.

I am so overwhelming tired at this moment. 

All I want to do is sleep, but I have to carry on because I am not the person who should pay the bills.





FRANKLIN FRIDAY: I HAD A BAD DAY

 Hi, Every Buddy! Hi! Hi! Hi!

I gots to tell ya, I had a bad day. Mom gave me that shower she'd been saying I needed. She said I was stinky. That was ridicurous. I stunk good.

She called me to the backyard. I knew what was up. She had the shampoo and the hose with the special shower thing on the end.

I stood still because I'm a cooperative kinda dog, but I didn't like it.

The worst part is always when Mom lifts up my tail and washes my bottom.

It's so embarrassin'.

When the humiliation was over, she dried me with a towel, but she said I was too wet to go in the house! I had to stay on the deck. That hurted my feelings.

So I licked myself dry.


Pissy Penlapee got a shower, too. 

When we got to go inside, Mom put her arm around me and told me how soft and clean my fur was and we fell asleep with the nice sun coming in the window. 

I liked that. I forgave her for the shower.

Okay I love you Bye-Bye.










Sunday, March 21, 2021

A RAINY, CHILLY SUNDAY

 Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

After a run of pleasant, warm weather, it rained and the weather changed. It's chilly and rainy. After Franklin and Penelope went out this morning, Penelope went back to bed.

I was afraid she was cold, so I put a sweater on her and covered her with her green blankie. To my surprise, she allowed me to photograph her. She's camera shy, as am I.


She looked so small and sweet. I made sure she had a toy in case she needed a little chew.

Franklin is larger, of course, but he's quite slender under all that fur. Here are old photos of  hair that accumulated during a brushing:






And here's a beautiful smile:


We hope you have a great week. Our sun should be back soon.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug








Friday, March 19, 2021

PENELOPE SPEAKS: STOP SQUEALING OVER MY TOOFERS

 Hello. It is I, Penelope.

We do not have many visitors in our home because of the stupid virus, but when people do visit, they see me and make foolish noises. Then they squeal, 

She has an underbite! Look at her cute toofers!

I am disgusted by such behavior. Why must they call attention to my toofers? Grandma (Carol) criticizes Mom Mom for not getting me braces. Ridiculous. Nothing is wrong with my toofers.

The only person I like––other than Mom Mom––is Auntie. She lives across the street. Auntie strokes my beautiful fur so nicely and never mentions my toofers.

I also liked it when Grandma lived with us because she shared her snacks with me. I enjoyed Cheetos and Skinny Pop Popcorn.  

I do my best to keep my toofers hidden, but I can't help showing them when I smile.

I allowed Mom Mom to take this photograph because she was scratching my neck. I shall never permit her to photograph my toofers again.

When the hideous virus goes away, you may visit us as long as you do not mention my toofers. 

If you bring them up, I shall call you simple-minded and give an interview about you to Oprah. You must obey me. I am Her Royal Highness The Duchess Of GoSuckIt.

That is all. Go home now. Do not poop in your neighbor's yard on the way.





Tuesday, March 16, 2021

WE SAY YAY!

 Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

I saw the maxillofacial surgeon yesterday. Dr. Zane Khan said I don't need surgery. That's a yay! While checking out I mentioned how impressed I was with everyone there (polite, kind, professional). The person at the desk said, We take our lead from Dr. Khan.

That's as it should be. 

My stimulus check is in my account, so that's another yay! I've done my part to stimulate the economy by ordering two sets of glassware for my kitchen, two curtain panels for my bedroom, and two t-shirts for my bod. The rest of it, which is most of it, will go to paying bills.

But along the lines of two things are better than one, that includes dogs. I took this photo of Franklin and Penelope on Christmas. Although Penelope was on Franklin's bed, she looked shocked when Franklin flopped down next to her.

We have another very large yay! I applied to refinance my house back in early December. It's been slow going because interest rates are low and, of course, because of COVID, but it's complete. I have a lower interest rate on a 20 year loan.

I was especially pleased and surprised when the appraisal came back at 50k more than I'd estimated for The Little House On The Swamp. New windows, here we come

We hope you have lots of yay! in your lives, too.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug




Tuesday, March 9, 2021

WHAT TO WHICH WE HAVE BEEN UP

 Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

You already know about our Monday if you read my previous post, and if you didn't read it, that's fine. Go back to sleep.

I have decided to return the new thermostat, although I'm no longer angry with it. It functioned as a dog guide would when the dog refuses to cross the street with the blind person because the dog knows the street involves complicated instructions and has wiring and is difficult to put up on the wall successfully. I was convinced of my infallibility after hooking up and repairing some stuff. I've decided, however, that my abilities do not extend to something that involves wiring. The new thermostat spurned my advances, thus keeping me safe. The air conditioning worked fine after a visit from Son Of Dean. If the heat continues to act up in the future, I'll request assistance.

Today was again sunny, but a little cool. I didn't accomplish much after staying up late the last two nights.

On Sunday I finished my taxes. Hallelujah. I didn't get much of a headache, and I'll get a bit of a refund. 

I'd been saying that if Harry and Meghan wanted their privacy, then they shouldn't have agreed to an interview with Oprah. I watched anyway and understood why they agreed to talk. I grasp the desire to say, That's not true. I didn't do that. Quit lying about me. 

Sometimes we have to defend ourselves, especially when family refuses to do so and might even choose to believe the lies no matter the evidence.

The sun and I drained Lake Junebug, but the mud remains. This afternoon Franklin rubbed his neck and one side in the muck. He smells nasty and will need a shower.

I'm sorry to tell you that Carol's great-granddaughter is still blind in one eye and has little sight in the other. Carol said the young lady's hands also shake badly. Damn COVID all to hell. Damn the former president who allowed it to run rampant.

I put power steering fluid in the car and it no longer moans and complains. That's a triumph. 

I got the second dose of Shingrix on Friday, in spite of a pharmacy tech who couldn't seem to do anything right, which included his inability to cover his nose with his mask. After much blather and repetition from him, he finally figured out I have insurance. I confess I became annoyed after the 10th or 12th time he told me my insurance card would have a bin number and Rx on it and mine didn't have it. When he came out from behind the barrier to talk to me, I became disgusted and told him to cover his nose. 

Carol called yesterday to tell me she heard on local news that next week the vaccine will become available to people older than 60. I have to wait four weeks after the Shingrix shot to have the COVID vaccine, but at least when those weeks have passed, I should be able to get my shot. Woo-hoo to that and woo-hoo to you.

Now it's time to warm up some supper. I have some bills to scan and paperwork to fill out related to the attack so now that my taxes are done, that's the next item on the agenda.

See you soon.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug


OUR MONDAY

 Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Our Monday was sunny, but a cool breeze blew. 

Franklin and I started the day with a visit to Lowe's, where Franklin is always admired for his beauty and good manners. At the cash register he stood so still while we waited our turn that the lady behind us asked, How do you get him to do that?

He just does it.

We were there to purchase two items. The first was a thermostat. Mine has been behaving strangely. I replaced the batteries in it and it still didn't register the correct temperature in the house. When I turn on the heat, it runs and runs and runs because the thermostat insists that the house is colder than it is. I rely on space heaters for the most part, but it's a good idea to have an accurate thermostat. 

So we got home with the thermostat. I opened the box and glanced at the instructions. The first item on the agenda wasn't in the instructions but I knew it must be done. The cover had to be separated from the base.

I couldn't get them apart. I argued with it and swore at it. No luck. So we went to the garage and pulled out a screwdriver, which popped them apart. The thermostat respected the screwdriver but didn't respect me. 

Bastard. 

Then I studied the instructions. Oh, dear god. Wires and millions of things to do. I thought putting up a new thermostat would be simple and instead the task seemed daunting. 

The new thermostat is on the dining room table. I'll attack the job when I'm alert and well rested and haven't just had an argument with the device.

The second item we purchased was a plug for the bathtub. The metal plug that was in the tub and closed with the turning of the little handle thingy didn't fit very well. I took baths a few times after I moved here and slowly lost my water.

After a while I replaced it with one of those shroom things. It's not a plug. It captures hair to keep the drain from clogging. 

But recently I read a post by Anne at The Gods Are Bored about how she loaded up with water before a hurricane. It made me think about Texas and so many people not having water. Before big storms, I fill every pitcher and Tupperware bowl with water. I've never needed it, but what if I did? I should start filling the bathtub, too. 

So now we have a plug.

What else happened? Oh! When we pulled into the parking lot at Lowe's, two very large Canadian geese (at least that's what I think they were) were chilling at one end of the lot. I wanted to take their picture so our resident Bird Man, David, who blogs at  Travels With Birds could tell me if they really were Canadian geese and fill me in on their lives, what they like to eat and how they behave and all that.

But when I got close enough for a photo, I pissed them off. They arose and stomped off, honking all the way. I didn't take a picture at that point because it would have been of their butts.

The rest of the day was pleasant. Franklin and I walked. Penelope and I talked. We enjoyed the sun. I read some. I cleaned some. Did a little laundry.

It was a good day in spite of the new thermostat's disrespect and argumentative nature. Maybe it will be better behaved after this time out on the dining room table, where it is nothing special. 


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug


Saturday, February 27, 2021

THE DECUBITIS ULCER A.K.A. PRESSURE ULCER OR PRESSURE SORE OR BEDSORE

The decubitis ulcer is a scourge I wouldn't wish on anyone.

With the exception of a few minutes each day, Vivie lay in her bed or sat in her wheelchair. But her skin was fine until the day she pointed to her bottom and told me it was gooshie. Click HERE for that part of the story.

Bedsores can occur because of an inability to change positions, along with poor nutrition, irritation to the skin because of urine and feces, and the simple reality of being elderly. An old person's skin is fragile. 

Over the next few months, the two red spots on Vivie's bottom became sores. They gradually deepened, wept, and turned yellow and ugly. I showed them to a night nurse, who said, No diapers when she's in bed. Air needs to get to those.

Every two hours, I turned her from one side to the other to keep her off of her bottom. I don't know what happened on the nights I worked in another area or wasn't there. During the day, she should have been helped up from her wheelchair to change her position. I doubt if that happened.

A friend who worked during the day, someone who was a good GNA and worked hard, told me that by the time they got everyone out of bed, it was time for the GNAs to take their lunch breaks, and then they served lunch to the patients and fed those who couldn't eat on their own. After lunch, the GNAs answered call bells and did what they could.

We never had enough staff to do everything that should have been done. People who could have been helped from their wheelchairs to the toilet sat in urine for hours. One patient who only needed to be reminded to use the toilet wasn't reminded. She was soaked almost all the time. Patients who were in bed during the day didn't get bedpans. A patient once told me she'd asked for a bedpan during the morning and a GNA said, I don't have time to do that. Just pee in your diaper. 

Then she lay in the urine the rest of the day.

Someone who worked at night had a terrible idea. She put a patient on a bedpan and didn't remove it so the bed wouldn't get wet. The patient was on the bedpan for about eight hours.

That patient ended up with a black, necrotic ring of flesh on her bottom.

If patients still had teeth, their teeth hardly ever got brushed. If they didn't have teeth, their dentures often weren't cleaned and their gums weren't swabbed.

During the busiest hours––getting people up, mealtimes, and putting people to bed––we should have had twice as many GNAs as we had.

Some GNAs were lazy and could have done more, but more staff would have helped no matter what, unless two people who were lazy worked together. In that case, they seemed to encourage each other to slack off.

When I left the nursing home, Vivie had spent about a year with bedsores. I saw many that were worse than hers, but what happened to Vivie was of special concern to me because I was the one who cleaned her up after she had diarrhea. I saw the progression of the sores.

Vivie never complained about her bedores. She seemed unaware of them, and for that I'm grateful. Bedsores are usually painful, especially when the patient can't avoid the pressure on them.

Several months after I moved away, I returned for a brief visit. Vivie had died. When Bernadette the activities lady planned her summer vacation, she let Vivie know she'd be gone for a couple of weeks. Vivie said, I won't be here when you get back.

And she wasn't.

Friday, February 26, 2021

ODDS AND ENDS

 Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Time to catch up on events good and bad.

Here's the worst: Carol's 21-year-old great-granddaughter had COVID and is blind in one eye with diminished sight in the other. Eye problems often come with the virulent virus. I hope it's reversible. 

This is better: During my occasional trips to grocery stores or the pharmacy, I see more people wearing masks. Do they now respect the severity of COVID? Have they become more respectful since Joe Biden was inaugurated? Whatever the reason, I'm glad of it. Even one person without a mask is too many. Do you see more folks wearing masks?

We finally have a break from the rain. The waters of Lake Junebug have receded in favor of a muck of mud. Miss Penelope Muddy Paws made a mess of my bed. I washed my sheets and quilt. While they were off the bed, she muddied the mattress pad, so it ended up in the washer, too.

I delight in sunshine, low humidity, and temps in the 70s. I'm trying to clean up the load of leaves in my front yard and have made a little progress. I gave my car a bit of a wash today and added power steering fluid. The car moans and cries and is difficult to turn. If the fluid doesn't do the trick, then something is seriously wrong with the power steering *sigh*

I've been cleaning and decluttering a lot inside the house, too. Many of my clothes are much too large, so I try two or three things on each day. If they don't fit, they go in the Goodwill pile. I'm also rearranging some furniture. An old chest of drawers went to the curb today. If someone doesn't take it, then it's for the garbage men. It's falling apart and too crappy to donate.

The great weather brings growth and blossoms––and allergies. An OTC antihistamine keeps sinus headaches at bay, but sometimes I sneeze so many times and so loudly that it startles Franklin and Penelope. 

Franklin and I take advantage of the good weather with long walks, and Wednesday night he accompanied me to Lowe's, where dogs are welcome. He is a polite shopper.

The man who attacked me is still locked up and has not yet been arraigned. It gets pushed from one week to the next. I'm confident he'll plead guilty and be sentenced to prison. This time of waiting will most likely be considered part of his time served.

I was finally able to get an appointment with a maxillofacial surgeon but decided to cancel because the staff member with whom I spoke was rude rude rude. Furthermore, the surgeon is associated with a hospital I don't like. I called an advocate with my insurance company who found other surgeons for me. I called one. Although I have to wait a little longer, this surgeon is associated with my preferred hospital and the person I talked to was polite and friendly.

I've renewed my love of baking––something I enjoyed when my children were young. I started with the banana bread when I forgot the chocolate chips, then made cinnamon bread, and last night I moved on to peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips. More bananas are softening for the next batch of bread, and I swear this time I'll remember the chocolate chips. I give away some of what I bake because it's too much for me to eat.  The young man next door doesn't seem to mind when I knock on his door and hand him baked goods.

My birthday was Tuesday. I'm old enough to know better but not old enough to get the vaccine. My network of doctors/hospitals sent me an email that says they'll contact me when it's my turn. I'm confident they will follow through. While I wait, I'll get my second shingles vaccination. I had a lot of side effects from the first shot.

I still have lots to do in and around the house. It's time to make my taxes a priority. I've never waited until April 14 to do them, but I do procrastinate because it gives me a headache even when I get a refund.

I'll try to finish Vivie's story soon. I'm not sure how much more I should write about the nursing home, though. I have some happy stories, but more sad ones. I also don't like it that I'm coming off as a saint. I worked very hard when I was there, but I cut corners at times when I was overwhelmed or didn't have the strength to do something. 

Okay! I think that's it. I wish you sunshine, warmth, homemade bread and cookies and cakes, and everything else that's good.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Monday, February 22, 2021

THE BIRTH OF A BEDSORE

One afternoon I arrived at work and discovered inspectors from the state bustling around to see what we were up to. They made random observations, usually once a year.

I walked past them down the hall toward Vivie's room. I greeted her and she pointed toward her bottom and said, It's gooshie.

Gooshie? I took her into the bathroom, where I discovered she'd had diarrhea. I cleaned her up, replaced her "diaper," and saw that her bottom was red.

When we left the bathroom, Bernadette from activities accosted me. What's going on? she demanded.

I needed to get Vivie cleaned up, I said, and wondered where the conversation was headed.

That happened this morning, Bernadette said. We had a hymn sing. Vivie was there and the odor was so bad I had to keep spraying air freshener. When we finished, I told the nurse at the desk that she needed to be cleaned up. The nurse said it would be taken care of and it wasn't done. She's been sitting in that mess for hours. You should take that diaper and open it up right in those inspectors' faces.

I am not doing that, I told her. I would be fired, and I'd deserve it. (I wouldn't have been fired for showing the diaper to the inspectors, but the Director of Nursing would have found some other way to get rid of me for such a betrayal.)

But I did take the plastic bag with the diaper in it to the nurses station, where I saw the Director of Nursing, Lynn. I told her––quietly––what had happened and then tossed the plastic bag into a bin in the Soiled Utility Room, where trash gathered in one bin and soiled linens went in another.

Lynne sent Donna, the night supervisor, to talk to me and fill out a report. I was glad I had flatly refused Bernadette's demand and followed the chain of command, but giving Donna the information was the easy part. Vivie's trouble was just beginning because of her red bottom and someone's failure to provide necessary care.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

LAUGHTER WITH VIVIE

For an introduction to Vivie, click HERE.

The nursing home didn't have a volunteer organization. Occasionally a church group came in for a hymn sing, or a local music group sang or played instruments. "Fuzzy Buddies" participants visited with therapy dogs and placid cats willing to be hugged. A pastor from the area conducted a church service once a month. Patients adored these visits. Although they loved many of the workers they saw everyday, new faces were special and fun.

The entertainment the residents enjoyed the most, however, was the time some of our nursing home chain's employees from another city came to put on a show they performed regularly. They dressed as country music singers and lip-synched to popular records. Our patients clapped in time to the music, if they could, and we saw many smiles that day.

The woman who portrayed Dolly Parton had plenty of make-up, a big blonde wig, and a large chest. 

After the entertainment, the performers walked around, talking to the residents and joking with them.

Vivie pointed to "Dolly Parton's" boobs. "Th-those are r-really something," she giggled.

Dolly reached in her blouse and took out two balloons, which she presented to Vivie, who put them in the front of her housecoat. As I wheeled Vivie back to her room, she laughed and stuck out her chest and made the most of what she suddenly had.

We found Bobby in Vivie's room, where he had left a pitcher of fresh water. Bobby was a senior in high school who worked part time as a hospitality aide. He was a nice kid who was always pleasant and even tempered. He also happened to be pretty darn cute.

As he left the room and we walked in, his eyes nearly popped out of his head when he saw the chest of Vivie's housecoat.

After he was gone, Vivie unsnapped the top of her housecoat and called out, "Oh, Baaaaaahhhhhby! Bobby, why don't you come back for another look?"

Vivie wiggled and simpered as I laughed.

Fortunately, Bobby did not return. I don't think he would have known what to do if he had!

That day, I saw how happy Vivie could be.

But a few months later on Christmas Day, I saw how unhappy Vivie could be.

I smelled liquor as I approached Vivie's room. A scruffy man and woman––clearly inebriated––sat with her. They'd poured large cups of beer for Vivie and for themselves. 

I walked in; they departed. Vivie's face wore a frozen mask of disgust. 

"Do you want me to pour these out?" 

"Yes. That was my son and his wife." 

I never saw them again, and Vivie never mentioned them.

I had learned that the woman and little girl who put Vivie to bed every evening had lived in an apartment Vivie owned. They were devoted to their former landlady, and arrived at 7 p.m. sharp.

Every evening. Every 7 p.m., that little girl ran in to hug Vivie, who always smiled. 

Families can be made of our parents, our children, our siblings.

They can also be made of a landlady and her renters.




Tuesday, February 16, 2021

VIVIE I LOVED

This is one of my nursing home stories. I'll tell it in multiple parts because it's a bit long. Logically, my prologue would be followed by how I came to work at a nursing home, my training, and all that, and maybe I'll write about that. But for now I'm posting reruns and adding to them a bit. I think I'll tell most of my stories by focusing on certain patients––with names changed, of course.


How I adored Vivie! Our love affair began when I was still a hospitality aide, emptying the laundry bins for the GNAs, one of whom I would soon be.*


One of my most important evening tasks, and one that was required by law, was offering an evening snack to the patients. I didn't get a lot of takers since most of the old folks ate supper and then headed straight to bed.

But I asked anyway: "Would you like some juice? Would you like some ice cream? How about a sandwich?"

Faith, who was an old hand at the hospitality aide business and who trained me, told me not to ask Vivie if she wanted a snack. "She never wants anything," Faith told me.

But disobedient soul that I am, I asked Vivie anyway. Faith was right. Vivie always shook her head and waved me away.

But with persistence I had a Vivie breakthrough. Each evening a woman and her young daughter, about five years old, came in to put Vivie to bed.

One night during October the little girl wore her Halloween costume, complete with crown and gown.

"Your Highness," I cried, as I entered Vivie's room, "I didn't realize you are a princess."

Then I curtsied.

The little girl giggled. Vivie giggled. After that, Vivie smiled when she saw me, though she continued to wave me away at snack time.

One night I got to Vivie's room with my snack cart to find Vivie already in bed. She wore a fresh snap-up-the-front smock. A hairnet perched on her dark hair to keep her permed, dyed curls in place.

"Would you like a snack?" I inquired as usual.

"Why do you ask me?" Vivie spluttered. "You know I never want anything."

"I ask because I love you," I said.

"Oh, oh!" Vivie responded, making her usual spluttering noises as she searched for the right words. "Oh, I just love you."

I hugged her and kissed her cheek.

I knew I had a new friend.

*GNA stands for Geriatric Nursing Assistant.

Monday, February 15, 2021

A POEM FOR THE DAY AFTER VALENTINE'S DAY

 Arachne's Song


I spin my web around and round,
Its silken threads securely bound.
Athena's gift, not meant as a blessing,
Has helped me to better my sweet caressing.
I use my punishment extremely well
To pull you into a delicate cell.
My weaving more wondrous than ever before
Mystifies men, so they call me whore.
Use whatever name you like,
I'll take off your head with a single bite.
But first my poison your struggling ends,
Numbness sets in, then to Hades you wend.
My pleasure leads to your deadly sleep,
Revenge for Leda, Philomela, and all who weep.
Come, Hermes, now ferry this one away,
I have performed my task for one more day.
Tomorrow I'll spin around and round
To bind another who'll never be found.
My web I'll spin to seize his heart,
And then my loving I'll impart.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

SO WE'VE HAD A LITTLE RAIN

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

So many of you have cold and snow or cold and ice. It's been raining here, on and off for days and days and days . . . 



Yes, we have poor drainage here at The Little House On The Swamp. It's a swamp. My son bought a pump that works well, but I have no idea how to hook it up. I'll go out to the garage to examine it on a nicer day. If I wade out to look at it today, I'll only get frustrated.

We deal with the rain as best we can.

Penelope hides from it in my closet.


Franklin prefers my bathroom:


I decided it was a good day to bake banana bread, which I've wanted to do for a while so I could add chocolate chips to the batter as Mitchell's beloved San Geraldo does. Everything San Geraldo makes looks yummy.

I started some music and soon enjoyed the sound of Jack's nasally whine. Meg whacked the drums. 


Got out the mixer and all the ingredients (I thought).


Smooshed the bananas till they were dead and dumped in everything else (I thought).

Sat down to write this post while the bread baked and suddenly realized I forgot to put in the chocolate chips. When I went to Costco last week I bought a gigantic bag of chocolate chips. They remained unmolested.



I switched the music to Alanis.


Took the bread out of the oven and dolloped it with butter.


Decided everything would be okay.

Now I have a reason to bake again––and soon!

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Friday, February 12, 2021

MOVIE WEEKEND: KISS ME KATE

 Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Recently when I felt a bit down, I watched a classic movie––Kiss Me Kate (1953; I recorded it from Turner Classic Movies; also available on some streaming services for $2.99 to $3.99). 

Kiss Me Kate features a musical within a musical. Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson perform as Fred and Lilli––two divorced, battling actors––but also as Petruchio and Katherine in a musical based on The Taming of
The Shrew.

Lilli: Do you really think *I* could play the shrew?
Fred: You'd make a perfect shrew!

Ann Miller plays Fred's new "girlfriend," Lois, to whom he gives the part of Bianca. 

While I appreciate Keel's rich baritone and Grayson's sweet coloratura soprano, it was Ann Miller's dancing that had me tapping my toes. 

Here, Miller and company perform From This Moment On, which includes Bob Fosse's first on-film choreography danced by Fosse and Carol Haney. 


Kiss Me Kate was originally filmed in 3D. That's why you see the actors throwing stuff directly at the camera.

I hope you have a great weekend.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

THE NIGHTMARE

 Thunder. Penelope trembled.

Early morning Tuesday. I hadn't slept yet and wondered if I would sleep. Considered getting up but decided to stay in bed a little longer.

Suddenly, he was in my bedroom. I knew he had returned to kill me. 

I didn't know I was asleep. My fear, real.

I tried to distract him. I spoke to him and rubbed his back, which I could see clearly. Even the cyst at the top that he's had for years.

He spoke to me. I don't remember what he said. I wanted to reach for my phone to call for help, but I was tangled in the comforter and couldn't free my hands. 

He was menacing. 

Then  I saw myself outside––not in my own backyard but in my yard in Maryland, where we lived 20 years ago––and knew I was having a nightmare. 

Somehow I was safe after I got outside, but I don't remember how the dream concluded.

It's the first nightmare since the attack. I hope it's the last. 

I awoke late in the morning and felt tired and dispirited the rest of the day.

It will be better again. I will be better again.


Tuesday, February 9, 2021

TIP TUESDAY: AVOID PASSIVE VOICE AND MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Avoid passive voice; in other words, "the form of the verb which shows that its subject is not the agent performing the action to which the verb refers but rather receives that action: The ham was sliced by Emily" (Harbrace).

Furthermore, "the passive voice also lends itself to . . .  muddied, heavy-footed writing" (Fundamentals).

Sometimes, "politicians and CEOs of failing companies use passive voice or similar sentence structures in an attempt to avoid responsibility for their actions" (Instructions).

I noticed an interesting example of usage last week when Marjorie Taylor Greene spoke of how she has been "condemned and crucified" for words she used in the past. Greene stated: "I was allowed to believe things that weren't true."

Strictly speaking, it's not an example of passive voice because Greene has the subject (I) right. But most of us would say I believed things that weren't true because we want an active verb and because we accept culpability. Greene also could have said I allowed myself to believe things that weren't true so I could get elected, kiss trump's ass, gain power for my cause and so on.

By saying "I was allowed," Greene deflects self-blame and lies. No one "allowed" her to believe insane claims.

I considered including more of Greene's lies here, but I can't. They're abhorrent. So as Penelope usually says at the conclusion of her blog posts, That is all. 


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Sources: Harbrace College Handbook, English Fundamentals, Instructions For Living by Janie Goltz 


Sunday, February 7, 2021

MAIL MAIL MAIL!

 Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Will the U.S. Postal Service ever get straightened out?

On Jan. 28th, I received a card from one of my sisters. I wondered why. Christmas was long over. It wasn't my birthday.

But it was a Christmas card!


Was she so busy that she didn't send cards until the middle of January? 

Then I looked at the envelope more carefully.


Yup! Mailed Dec. 15th in Jersey and arrived at The Little House On The Swamp on Jan. 28th.

The postal service was one aspect of U.S. government that most of us liked, so of course 45 had to screw it up.

What stories do you have to share about problems with the mail? What's the longest it's taken for something you mailed to be delivered, or for something to arrive at your house?

I apologize for my recent absence. My sister-in-law died, which turned me into a lump of sadness. She was in a nursing home because of dementia, and she got COVID. 

Although I've mourned this loss, I'm recovering from the attack. I'm doing quite well, physically and psychologically. 

I'll visit as many of your blogs as I can this week. I miss you!


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug


Tuesday, January 26, 2021

WRITING FROM AND ABOUT THE PAST

 Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

I want to share some blog posts I wrote long ago about working in a nursing home. Perhaps I'll write more stories about my all-time favorite job.

The following is the prologue I wrote for what I thought would be my first book. Fortunately, I learned from an x-ray and a thorough examination by a doctor that I do not have a book in me. The knowledge allows me to enjoy writing without feeling any pressure.

If you have a book in you, then you must write it. A surgeon cannot remove it for you.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug


Although it's been 20 years since I was there, I can picture the layout of the building perfectly. I know all the residents. I know their faces, how they look when they are smiling, how they look when storm clouds pass over them and the tears rain down their cheeks. Which ones have visitors, which ones have no family, and which ones have family but never receive a visit.


They are our mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, grandparents. They cared for us and changed our diapers when we were babies.

Now, they have turned into babies. Dementia turns adults into toddlers. Alzheimer's often leads to violent tantrums.

I can still smell the urine––strong, a very strong odor because the elderly don't drink enough water.

I know the care each person requires. Vivie is in a wheelchair but can walk with only a little assistance. Gene could walk with assistance when he arrived, but his condition deteriorated. He no longer walks. Zora and Ann have to be moved with mechanical lifts.

Violet and many others have to be lifted in our strong arms––lifted from wheelchair to toilet, from toilet to wheelchair, from wheelchair to bed. All the residents are terrified when we lower the bed railings so one of us can roll the person on her side while the other washes the rear end.

If the people are rolled toward me, "I'll fall out," they cry.

"No one ever gets past me," I reassure them.

"There's a first time for everything," they always say in between cries and screams. "You're too skinny. You're not big enough to save me."

O.K. So I'm skinny. I'm quite a bit smaller than the average nursing assistant. But there was no first time. No one ever rolled out of bed when I was there to offer protection. People who work in nursing homes have arms made of bands of steel. How else could we lift people who weigh 200 pounds?

The patients are safe with me, and not just because I'm strong. I saved Zora when s
he coughed and her face turned purple. No one else took her illness seriously. It turned out she had pneumonia.  I demanded that the charge nurse call her doctor.

Nurses hate to call the doctor because sometimes doctors yell at nurses. Doctors abuse nurses. Nurses abuse nursing assistants. Sometimes nurses and assistants abuse patients.

I never "get tough" with the patients others call spoiled. I don't have it in me. When Pop tries to hit me, I hold up my hands so he punches my palms. Katherine throws her bed alarm at me. I catch it with my left hand and congratulate myself, laughing. Katherine doesn't know what she's doing. How can I be angry?

And I always try to find a way to make the residents laugh, whether it's something I say or by dancing my way into their rooms, pretending to be a clumsy ballerina.

I am hugged, kissed, told "I love you."

I am peed on, vomited on, told "I'll kick you."

The people in my safekeeping hold my heart in their shaky hands, hands with skin so thin it can rip as easily as tissue paper. 

I touch with love, with laughter, with recognition of the individual.

I am a caregiver.

Monday, January 25, 2021

A LOVE POEM FOR A MONDAY

Two lovers in love
laughed at the sea,
laughed as the waves 
splashed the shore.
The water was cold
and it tickled their toes
and they laughed
and sang la la la laa.

Two lovers in love
loved though as one, and
laughed as the waves splashed the shore.
The water was warm
and it licked at their toes
and they laughed
and sang la la la laa.

Two lovers in love
labored as one, and
laughed as the waves splashed the shore.
The waters burst forth
and fell to the floor.
They laughed at the shore,
three laughed, and then four
and they laughed
and sang la la la laa.