Thursday, August 30, 2012

Quiet. Hospital.

The Mama may be coming home from the hospital today. The ambulance took her there on Monday afternoon. All of a sudden she could not move her legs or arms, no matter how hard she tried. She had caught the nasty bug that the Husband had been fighting for a few days. On her, it turned into pneumonia. What made it worse was that she was dehydrated. Stay hydrated, folks!

Hydration, however, is not what today's post is about. Nope.

After two nights alone in her hospital room, the Mama got a "roommate" who has a loving extended family to visit her. The Mama, in contrast, has loving me. The husband is sick so obviously cannot visit and Molly the Cat is not allowed in the hospital. The Mama had forbidden me from telling her friends where she was.

Before I go any further, let me say this: I have nothing against visitors in hospital rooms. But, I also expect visitors to act appropriately—such as talk quietly, be considerate of other patients, and recognize that a hospital is not a place to party hearty. 

I continue. Yesterday, when I left the Mama after lunch, her "roommate" had four relatives visiting her. When I returned just before dinner, she had three different relatives around her. The hospital room is small, so without even trying you can overhear each side's conversation. The "roommate" and her relatives  were very chatty. Because my mom has poor hearing, I sat on her bed as close as possible so I wouldn't TALK LOUDLY or even at my normal pitch.

 The Mama did not look rested at all. "Did you sleep today?" I asked. She shook her head. "How come?" I asked. "I don't know," she replied. I had a feeling the "roommate" had chatty visitors all afternoon.

The Mama is very good about "sucking it up." Not me. Hello. We're in a hospital. There's a sign in the hallway that says "QUIET." I did my best to not pay attention to those TALKING LOUDLY on the other side of the thin curtain that separated the beds from each other. I also did my best not to get annoyed when those TALKING LOUDLY made me shudder like the sound of chalk squeaking on a chalkboard. The Mama drifted in and out of sleep. I did my best to not pay attention and not to be annoyed for 45 minutes. That's when I heard a fifth voice at the door.

I stood up, walked over to the curtain, pulled it aside, and looked around. They all looked at me. I didn't say a thing. One woman asked, "Are we too loud?"

"Yes. You are."

"Sorry. We'll try to be quiet."

"Thank you," I said, "This is a small room."

The not TALKING LOUDLY lasted 10 minutes. Maybe. But, I wasn't concerned about that anymore. Mama was feeling cold even with 5 blankets on her. The air conditioning was on and it seemed to be directed at her  head. I pressed the red call button and told the nurse who answered that the Mama was feeling cold and could she please put the heat on her side of the room. Within a few seconds, the nurse was there, saying, "There's no way to regulate the room so that one side gets heat."

"My mom is cold," I replied. "She already has five blankets on her."

The nurse closed the curtain, talked with the other side, and came back. "The other patient feels hot," she said.  "My mom is cold," I repeated.  "Right," said the nurse.

The woman who asked me if they were too loud, called from the other side of the curtain, "My aunt is hot."

"My mom is cold," I said.

"You've told us we're too loud. You've got to give us something. You've got to work with us."

"I'm trying," I said when I really wanted to say: You knew you were loud without me even saying so. You weren't even trying to be considerate to the other patient in the room, just because she is quiet. And, I don't have to give you anything. This is a hospital. My mom is mending from pneumonia. She is cold. Why should she feel miserable? And why was your aunt put in this room anyway. Hers is a physical problem. She could catch whatever my mom has.

Fortunately, the nurse came up with a solution. I heard her ask, "Would you mind moving to another room? We have a few empty rooms."

"Fine," said the woman who asked me if they were too loud.

For the next 10 minutes, a lot of movement took place on the other side of the curtain. They TALKED LOUDLY. They called me names in their language, which obviously they didn't think I understood. I felt like responding, but like the Mama, I, too, can "suck it up" when it's better to do so.

"Is she going home?" asked the Mama groggily.

"No, she's being moved to another room."


"Because you feel cold and she feels hot."

"I don't have to have the heater."

"Yes, you do. You're cold."

I went over and tapped the shoulder of the woman who asked me if they were too loud. "I'm sorry," I said.

"It's fine," she said, huffily. "Now you can have your privacy."

"As you can, too," I said. Not adding what I felt like saying, Now you can TALK LOUDLY as much as you want and have as many people as you want in the room.

The nurse came back in. "Do you still want the room warmer?"

"Yes," I said. "My mom is cold."

"I've put it up to 80 degrees."

"That's great. I do that at home when she's feeling cold. Thank you." Then, I asked, "By the way, how many visitors can a patient have?"

"Three," the nurse mumbled. She turned to another nurse who was at the door. "Isn't it?"

"Two," that nurse said, almost under her breath.

It wasn't my intention to get the other patient and her clan moved to another room. But, I am glad it happened.

When I left the Mama sleeping an hour later, the hospital room was quiet and warm, as it ought to be.

© 2012 Su-sieee! Mac. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Fine Day

"In the Philippines," the Mama said the other day, looking up at the patchy white clouds, "clouds like that meant there are lots of fish in the ocean. That's what the old people said."

In other words, those old people were saying, it's a good time to go fishing. I bet they were right, too. 

After 90 years, the Mama still recalls some of the things the "old people" used to tell her when she was a child. As she tells me, I can tell she doesn't think of herself as possibly being as old as they were—or even older—when they told her such things. I like that. A lot.

Maybe the other day was a fine day for fishing here, too. It was definitely a fine day for the Mama to sit in her garden and pot her birthday flowers. . .

. . .while Molly the Cat took a snooze nearby.

 © 2012 Su-sieee! Mac. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Molly the Two-Year-Old Cat

Molly the Cat is turning two years old. Maybe she already has. We have no idea. We only know that she was born in August. So, I've taken to  singing Happy Birthday to her every now and then. Not too often since I don't always keep in the right key. Hmmm, could be why she way trying to avoid me the other morning. I figured she had done something she knew she wasn't supposed to do on her jaunt through the Mama's jungle of a garden.

Yes, Molly the Cat, spends time every day wandering, sitting, sleeping, and stalking bugs in the backyard. The indoor cat loves the outdoors.  Sometimes we hang outside with her.  (I like that we're outside more these days. If I had a laptop, I would just work out there.) Other times, we slide open the screen door for Molly and say, "See you soon."

She's amazing. She comes back in when we tell her to. Most times. And, without needing to bribe or tempt her with a food. Just, "Good Girl. You're such a good girl."

A few weeks ago, she learned to jump up on the fence. The first time that happened, we went nuts trying to find her in the backyard. We didn't even think to look on the fence, but suddenly there she was walking delicately into view.

We thought we would just let her out under supervision. But, that didn't work. Besides, she's so quick. Look away and voila she is up on the fence again.

So, we stalked her to figure how and where she gets up on the fence. Thank goodness, there was only one possibility. As you can see from the photo, we found a solution that has kept her off the fence.

I always thought I'd turn those old software CDs into coasters.

© 2012 Su-sieee! Mac. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

How Do You Get Companies to Create Jobs?

Warning: There's not a thing about doughnuts, unicorns,  butterflies, and other sweet joys in today's post. Maybe next time. 

Here's an issue that no politician wants to address, I betcha: How does government encourage  private companies, small and large, to create new jobs, as well as to keep current jobs, when part of the basic business model to succeed is to employ "cheap labor"?

Ah, what's that some say: Get rid of the minimum hourly wage rate.

Hoo, boy. The federal minimum wage, since 2009, is $7.25 per hour. If you work full-time at 40 hours per week, you earn a gross weekly pay of $290.  Now, let's take at least 30 percent from that for taxes (FICA, federal, state, and disability). Wowza! A whopping $203 to spend for fun and essentials for the week. Bear in mind that some people  receive more net pay according to the number of dependents they claim. Too bad we can't claim our pets. Oh, and let's not forget some workers may also be contributing a portion of their check to their employee health plan and, possibly, retirement plan.

Ah, but my question is not: How are people able to live on minimum wage?

Some states are kind and require employers to pay a higher minimum wage, from a few cents more to almost a couple of dollars. In 2012, the state of Washington has the highest basic rate at $9.04 per hour. Arkansas ($6.25), Georgia ($5.15), and Puerto Rico ($4.10) have minimum rates that are lower than the national one. Does that mean employers don't have to pay the federal wage? And, how can they get away it? And, if they can, why don't the other states do the same thing? Questions, questions, questions. I don't know.

There are U.S. cities that are kinder than the states when it comes to the minimum wage.  The highest rate is decreed in Santa Cruz, California. As of July 2012, any contractor doing business with the city of Santa Cruz is required to pay its employees at least $14.26 per hour (if they receive benefits) or $15.55 per hour (if no benefits are given). Wowza! I bet Romney's $10,000 that churns the stomachs of a lot of anti-minimum wage people.   Other cities with generous minimum hourly wages are  Santa Fe ($10.29) and San Francisco ($10.24).

Hmmm, after writing all this, I have to ask: How does getting rid of the minimum wage contribute to the creation of jobs?

So, politicians, what say ye? What are your concrete plans to get companies, such as Hewlett Packard (which announced in May 2012 that it must cut 27,000 jobs)  to create new ones?  Forget about saying, "Trust me. I will do it." In my book, that just means you haven't a clue.

© 2012 Su-sieee! Mac. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

What If We Had to Live on Food Stamps?

Last week I decided to experiment with our food budget. Not that I—or we—keep one. Formally, that is. I just figured that since we are being conservative about the flow of money out of our pockets these days,  why not pretend how it would be if we had to suddenly depend on food stamps. This is be a good time to try it, too, since our staples in both the pantry and freezer are running low.

Did you know that the monthly average benefit for a household in California is $200? Are you shocked too?

By the way, it isn't easy to qualify for food stamps. Plus, you need to have the proper documents to prove that you are eligible. And, anyone who receives food stamps, only gets them for a limited time and must meet specific conditions during that period. That said, I really don't understand why some people go insanely rabid about others who finally give in and jump through hoops with hopes of qualifying for some financial help to keep from starving. Seriously.

You can only use food stamps to purchase food and vegetable seeds and plants that will be grown for food. You cannot use food stamps to purchase liquor, tobacco, non-food items (such as toothpaste), or pet food. You also can't use them to purchase any prepared food that must be heated at the grocery store or is meant to be eaten in the grocery store.

Did you know it was only in recent years that some farmers markets started accepting food stamps? I think that is a very big deal.

The only ground rule that I've established for is that we continue as much as possible to purchase local organic produce, local eggs, wild-caught fish, and organic poultry and beef.  I plan on doing this experiment for one month, as of July 27. Fortunately, the husband is up for the experiment. He thinks that if we were to do this for real, the foods we buy would be different. I don't know. We'll see.

After nearly a week into this experiment, our food budget is already down to $73.95. I know. My head is spinning, too. August is a very long month.

To be continued. . . .

© 2012 Su-sieee! Mac. All rights reserved.