Sunday, March 27, 2011

Gardening and Dinner Party

There used to be a sign on Gary's property that said "Gary and Kerri's Place".  The story goes that not long after Kerri left, the sign fell down of its own accord, witnessed by the neighbor, Kelly.  Left were two weather treated posts set in concrete, and some deteriorating plywood.  A bit of an eyesore.  Then Gary took a chainsaw to a shrub behind the sign, and the hacked up shrub made it look even worse.  I communicated that impression of mine to Gary.  I was taking a nap, and by the time I woke up he and his friend Dennis had pulled the whole business out of the ground and covered over the holes left.  Yay!

There is a lot of work that needs to be done on this landscaped property.  I said that I would take responsibility for weeding and maintenance of the large bed that you see as you're driving up, and also seen from the front porch.  It is huge, and includes many trees and shrubs.  Also, a rock structure and small pond with lilly pads.  It is obvious that it was beautifully done, by Kerri, but has suffered from lack of attention. 

My first project was to put something where the sign and shrub used to be.  I decided I wanted to get some "yard art", and I had an idea that a Chinese pagoda would look nice there, surrounded by some flowering plants.  Gary took me shopping to Garland's Nursery for my birthday, and I found just the pagoda.  I also collected a few plants.  Here is what it looks like so far:

 Next I started weeding on the section where there are rosebushes on either side of a trellis, which leads into the big bed.  I was squatting down, pulling one weed at a time, and Gary came up and said "That is just silly".  He really said that, "just silly".  He thought it would be better to use Round Up, then rake the dead plants off.  I did NOT like that idea, did NOT want to use chemicals in a flower bed where I want to place other plants.  So I just kept weeding my own way.  It looks nice, but I have a lot more to do.

Next part of my story - which connects with gardening - the dinner party.  We invited Gary's old friends Julius and Sue.  Here is Gary with Julius.

And also my "band mom" friend Linda, and the man in her life, Tim.  We had a good dinner of grilled cod, squash from Gary's garden, and spinach salad.  Plum cobbler for dessert - the plums from Gary's tree which he had frozen.  Gary made rice but we forgot to serve it - I so often forget to serve one dish from a meal I've cooked.  Here is the dinner table with Linda, Tim and Sue.

Back to gardening, Linda works for the extension service, advising people on gardening issues.  Perfect.  She volunteered that the weeds she was seeing are Round Up resistent.  She said pulling them up is the only way to get rid of them.  I was so glad that she was behind me on this.  Here is Linda:

She also gave us a lot of helpful tips in just the short tour around the property - plants to encourage, plants to get rid of.  She saw 3 shrubs too close together and advised moving one.  Julius and Sue said they'd love to take one home, so here Julius is digging it up with Tim's help:

And here are Linda and Sue, watching:

I had a lot of fun talking with my old friend Linda, and new friends Julius, Sue and Tim. Linda, Sue and I hope to have a happy hour together soon.  Linda said she'll think about my landscaping and come up with ideas for me. I'm excited about that.  And excited about the friendships.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Med Aide Orientation and Body Recall

Two things I have been working toward for a long time ended up coming together and almost colliding last Tuesday.  That was the day, at 2:30, that I was going to have my first informational Body Recall session. (Body Recall is the exercise class I teach which is good for the elderly plus anyone else wanting to retain their strength and flexibility.)  Then it was decided that I could orient as a Med Aide at 2:30 on that day for the evening shift, and 6:30 am the next day for day shift.  I was a little slow to realize I couldn't be in two places at one time on Tuesday.  The other problem is I needed those shifts to make up my minimum of 30 hours of work per week to keep my benefits that I worked and waited 3 months to have.

So I asked if I could orient from 4 pm until midnight, and then come in the next morning at 6:30 for the other shift.  Am I crazy?  Many people think so.

I wasn't sure what to expect for Body Recall, but Pastor Netsie talked about brainstorming if no one came.  It hadn't occurred to me that there might be no one interested!  There were 4 that came to the class - but all 4 did it more out of interest rather than necessarily being future members.  Though you never know - they really did seem to like it.  It was two from their health ministry, plus Pastor Netsie and a woman from the staff named Cathy. There are two more women who expressed serious interest in coming, so I guess that means it is launched.  One in particular is excited, expecting significant benefit, so that is all I need to feel very motivated.

Then I went to work, for my Med Aide orientation.  I worked with Mariah in the long term care area.  I had a great time, enjoyed giving meds and also pitching in a little with CNA work as it made sense.  It was great to see people up and dressed that I usually only see in bed.  During dinner I enjoyed seeing a young male aide who is a bit of a dweeb in real life (he invited people to come to a bar at a bowling alley for his birthday and no one came) doing a great job interacting with some of the crazy folks at dinner.  He joked and helped them have fun and we all laughed together about it all.  This job must be an ego booster for him.  I heard one of the elderly ladies seriously flirting with him later.

 They had a Mardi Gras party and two of my favorite people were named king and queen.  The queen was Inis who is a SWEETHEART, and I also got to meet her son.  She was so happy.  Her roomate, who I also really like, got to be Valentine queen so they were both queens.  The king was Leroy.  I like him because of how when I smile at him, he smiles back.  At the start it took two people to change him, he was scared to turn on his side so he really resisted.  But when I talk nicely to him and smile he cooperates.  His smile back to me just warms my heart.  As his aide was wheeling him to bed, she said "He said he loves you" and I said "I love him, too".  We often have people tell us they love us and I always say I love them back.

I had to work from 4 pm till midnight as I explained above.  It turns out this was perfect because that was when Mariah was going to work anyway.  But it was a short night of sleep because I needed to be back at work at 6:30 for my next day of orientation.  That was in the short stay unit.  I did OK except for my brain feeling a bit fuzzy a couple of times.  I enjoyed the camraderie amongst the aides.  I also got in on gossip in the break room about one aide not pulling her weight.

Again I loved seeing some of my favorite people and meeting their friends and relatives who were visiting.  There is one woman who does not speak, and seems to only be a little aware of what is going on around her, but her husband visits every day all day.  He is as sweet to her as if she were a fully functioning person.  It is heart warming but a little heart wrenching at the same time. 

It makes me feel good that for a few people, when I enter the room they light up - associating me with good care.  One told her friend enthusiastically, "She never minds if I need to use the bed pan!"  I have another favorite, a 99 year old woman with ALL her mental faculties.  It is so rewarding to care for these appreciative people.

My DNS (Director of Nursing Services) told me that I will need one more day of orienting before they would put me on a med aide shift.  I'll just wait and see about that.  I hope it happens, but really isn't a big deal one way or the other since I like what I do already.  I know some consider this weird but I look forward to going to work tonight to see the people I'm caring for, and the people I work with.