Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Bubbe Business

On Sunday evening, my 97-year-old bubbe was admitted to Sunnybrook hospital.  The diagnosis was pneumonia.  I had been worried about her since the previous week, when she complained about a cold that just kept hanging on.  She had become very short of breath.

Well, what can you do?  People, even great ones like my bubbe, can't live forever.  I prepared myself for the worst.  But amazingly, she appears to be pulling through.

Medically, it's a bit complicated.  She may not have pneumonia, or if she does it's compounded by fluid build-up around her lungs from congestive heart failure.  At any rate, they managed to get some of that fluid out of her, and it's done her a world of good.

Ken and I visited her yesterday.  She didn't look as bad as I'd feared.  Shortly after we arrived, her dinner tray was delivered.  With great effort (she's still in a weakened condition) she sat up in bed, but once she was comfortably propped up on pillows she ate willingly, with an appetite.  Her conversation was lively.  Her eyes twinkled and she made the nurses laugh with her stand-up-style one-liners.  (As the nurse adjusted her nasal cannula, which loops over one's ears, she remarked "See? Even without my hearing aids in my ears are good for something.")  We're told that, with adjustments to her medication, she should be able to go home soon.

However, in her inimitable way, she told us that she was/is quite determined to die, like, now.  She said that she's happy with the life she's had, and that this is "a good time to go".  I know that she doesn't want to end up in a vegetative state.  She probably thought that this health crisis would be a convenient way to avoid that.  And given her iron will, I wouldn't be altogether surprised if she lay herself down and gave up the ghost by sheer willpower.

On the other hand, it's a little difficult to take her plans seriously when she's asking us to wrap up the extra cookie from her dinner, for later.  Also, keep that grape juice in the little sealed cup.  She might want it.  Because she will be very much alive, I expect, and peckish for a snack, before she gets on her computer to continue dominating me at online Scrabble.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Visit to Spark's House

Hi!  It's nice of you to stop by for a visit.  I mean, if you would've called first it might be a little tidier around here, but it's not too bad.  

What's that lying out on the dining room table?

Oh that.  It was my mom's bright idea to buy me a subscription to the Canadian Jewish News.  She's still hoping that I might change how I think about being Jewish from my background to my foreground.  Don't hold your breath, mom.  *Flips through paper*  Just as I thought, nothing of interest again this week.  *Files paper in the recycling bin*

Can I offer you something to drink?  Let's see what we have here...  Milk.  Orange juice.  Ken's Clamato.  (You can have Clamato if you want, but have you checked out the sodium levels in that stuff?  You may as well drink salt.)

What's that next to the yogurts?

Um.  Guppies?  With hot chili flakes and sesame seeds.  I take no responsibility for these.  Ken got them as a gift from the Korean butcher down the street, and has actually eaten some.  :-p

The salt and pepper shakers are from my sister.  They are playing leapfrog!  Isn't that cute?

Shortly after I took this picture of the bunnies, Ken was stirring something on the stove quite vigorously, and the bunnies fell down and each one lost an ear.  :-( Never fear - I bought Gorilla glue and I will repair them.  I heard that Gorilla glue can be used for other animals, such as rabbits, although it may be a bit of overkill.  If you have a broken gorilla, however, it's just the thing!

A friend of mine made this stained glass ornament with an Egyptian cat in the centre.  It hangs from our dining room light fixture.  

What's that in the background?

This belongs to Ken (although he didn't draw it).  I have never been able to understand what it signifies.  Feel free to take a guess in the comments.

I have some tiny rugs.

These coasters are replicas of real rugs from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  My grandmother gave me a cheque for my birthday with instructions to "buy something you don't need", and this is what I chose.  There's a fourth rug, but it's under Ken's beverage at the moment.

Well, thanks for stopping by.  I'm going to go back now to reading my cheerful book,  "A Century of Genocide: Utopias of Race and Nation" (by Eric D. Weitz).  Seriously, this type of stuff puts my little problems in perspective.  I can always say "Well, at least I'm not in any danger of being deported to a Gulag."

Take care!  Stay in touch!  *hugs*

Monday, October 14, 2013

Thanksgiving Long Weekend

Yes, it's Canadian Thanksgiving today.  Happy happy!  I celebrated with my table gaming* friends at the First Annual Thanksgaming Dinner.  We ate; we laughed; we tried to beat each other into gaming submission.  I got to spend some quality time with Ceilidh (pronounced "Kaylee" - it's Gaelic), my friends' 5-month-old kitty.  I am totally in love with her.

"Hello!  Nice to meet you!  I'm an adorable, squirmy kitten!"

Look at those paws.  This cat has got 7 toes on one of her front feet, and 8 on the other.  She even has opposable thumbs.

I believe my friends are going to wait until after her first birthday; then they're going to sign her up for piano lessons.  Meow!

Before the Thanksgaming Dinner, I provided personal shopper services to my aunt.  She was desperate.  She told me "Spark, it's bad.  I only have one pair of work pants left, and I have to keep one finger through a belt loop while I'm walking or they fall down.  I'm going to have to wear my pyjamas to work soon"

My aunt, despite being slim, pretty, and looking 15 years younger than her age (she's 59), hates shopping and feels that nothing ever looks good on her.  She does have a slightly poochy belly, but so does just about every woman her age.  I mean, it happens.  The connective tissue that holds one's organs in gets saggy just like everything else as one ages, and gravity does its job.  Obviously there's a market for women's clothes that accommodate a middle-aged tummy.  If it were impossible to buy clothes to fit ladies like my aunt, just about every woman over the age of 50 would be out and about wrapped up in bedsheets, so clearly it's not Mission Impossible.  You just need to exercise a little patience.

I brought my aunt to a store where I've previously found clothes for my mom.  My aunt bought 3 pairs of pants, one very pretty skirt, and a chic top.  Not bad!  Then I helped her to choose a new pair of shoes.  (These, in black.)  We strolled the wide corridors of Yorkdale mall, window-shopping.  Then we stopped for sandwiches and coffee.  Throughout, my aunt kept talking about the fact that she needed new jeans.  We went into several stores and looked at the jeans, but she didn't want to try any of them on.  Near the end of our expedition, she finally turned to me in frustration and burst out "See?  I'll never find any jeans that fit!"

I asked her:  "How many pairs of jeans have you tried on so far today?"

She stopped and had to think about it for a moment.  Then she laughed.  "None," she said.

"Well," I said, "maybe you shouldn't give up before you get started."

Minutes later, we went into Old Navy, where my aunt finally tried on some jeans.  And hey, guess what?  She found a pair that fit!  And they were on sale!  Whaddaya know.  Good thing she has her trusty niece around to talk some sense into her.

I didn't buy anything for myself.  I did try on a sweater at Old Navy but it made me look like a sausage.  Oh well.  I have more than enough clothes already.

* I have been informed that "table games" is the correct terminology to describe what we play, which includes both board games and card games.  We do indeed play at a table.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Pigeons, looking slightly menacing.  We are watching you!

Last weekend, I took a trip downtown.  I don't even remember why.  I strolled through Yorkville, which is the fancy neighbourhood where you can buy a handbag for $1,000 or more.  Gucci, Prada, Chanel: it's all there.  I liked this display in the Manulife Centre mall, inspired by the Toronto International Film Festival.  Isn't that a nifty little projector?  I also like the shiny, red shoes, but I probably wouldn't be able to afford them.

This weekend, by contrast, I decided to check out the new Target in my neighbourhood.  It used to be a Zellers.  I have never been inside a Target before.

The parking lot at the mall was relatively deserted.  There were a few cars close to the entrance, but further out the only occupied parking spot had been claimed by this goose.

I went in and toured around the store, checking prices and rubbing fabrics.  It's certainly brighter and tidier than the Zellers was.  Some items, like toothpaste and dish detergent, were a dollar or more cheaper than at my local supermarket.  The clothes were meh.  I wasn't tempted by any of their fashion items.

I bought one thing, just for the heck of it.  As I approached the cash register area, a manager directed me to a young employee who was overseeing the self-check-out area.  "Please help this guest," he told the employee.  Guest?  Oh for heaven's sake, just call me a customer.  I know that co-opted vocabulary is used with good intentions, but I find it irritatingly manipulative.  Anyway, the young lady who had been assigned to help me was genuinely friendly and sweet, so it was all good.

My hostess assisted me with the use of a complicated cashiering robot.  Scanning the item was easy.  But then I had to find the robot's mouth, to feed coins into, and then a slot to slide a bill into.  My change came out of a spout in a third location, and my receipt printed out somewhere else.  I think perhaps they would have been better off to stick with human cashiers.  It certainly would have gone a lot faster if I hadn't had to stop and locate input and output interfaces at every stage of the transaction.

Will I go back to Target?  Maybe if I'm in the area, to see if there are any good sales.  But I wouldn't go out of my way to visit that store.  I mean, as I said, it's in my neighbourhood, but it's not on my way home from work.  It's either a very healthy walk from my house, or I'd have to wait for a bus.  Plus there's nothing else in the area of the store that I'll go out of my way for.  At any rate, it was a fun little exploration for the afternoon.