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Day 365. in which we remember what we have written.

For many years, I mocked my father for the trail of enigmatic notes that littered our home. They never made much sense to me so it was easy for me to poke fun at them. But the older I become, the more I appreciate how genius this truly was. His notes were obviously a part of his master plan to overcome his memory loss. Written in his own hand, he was not required to rely on his degrading memory. He would remember anything - and everything - by writing a note about it which he could simply refer to later. Who needs a memory with a trail of documentation?

I think this one may be my favorite - a typical Bob Brown grocery list. Guinness Stout and Scotch tape. He wrote this one shortly after he moved in with us - hence, our address on it as well.

Dad used to walk up to Rite Aide in Cambridge every day, when he was still able, and alternately purchase rubber bands, paper clips, and scotch tape. A cashier told me this one day when I was with him, and Barbara confirmed he had an ever-growing co…

Day 360. in which I confess about the fire.

My father had systems that boggled me for years. I didn't understand them and often what we don't understand, we tend to mock. It was much easier to poke fun of his enigmatic notes littering our home than it was for me to try and understand them. Sometimes, I feel angry that he never discussed his memory problems with me until we could no longer have a dialogue about them.

Feeling somewhat frustrated, I said to him the other day, fruitlessly, "Why didn't you ever talk to me about your memory problems?"

And he looked at me with this pleading look of confusion, "I never knew that I had a memory problem!"

Whose fault is it that we never had a discussion about this? Is it his, or is it really mine?

When I was younger, it was easy to make jokes about it. One Christmas, when I was in my early 20's, I bought him a book on how to improve his memory as a joke. I thought it was funny. I don't think it is so funny now. And apparently, the book wasn't very …

Day 348. in which ice melts.

"Daddy! Look! Someone took the ice cube!"

Lil stared despondently into her purple cup as Seth began to snigger.

"Ha! No, Lily, it melted..."

"It melted?"

Day 347. in which, apparently, dinner was not satisfying.

"What I would like is a piece of ice, something that would make me hungry right now for at least two hours...oh well..." Bob sighed. "Such is life."
Dad and I are sitting on the sofa, enjoying a surprisingly sedate moment. Any moment in my house that is sedate is a surprise. I can hear Lil and Liam pestering Dana in the kitchen. He's breaking open pistachios for them - a tedious chore. Seth is upstairs, being his reclusive teen-aged self. I'm poking around online while Dad is chattering. He's peering over my shoulder at the screen of my laptop, resting in my lap on the couch. We already ate dinner, and are lazying about in our pajamas.
"Why is it that when you are hungry, you are really hungry? but that when you're not so hungry, you're not. It just seems so strange that it is this way. I mean, I was just wondering what I was going to be eating tonight. not that I'm going to be eating tonight... because it's just too cold to go out t…

Day 341. in which I irritate Liam with my camera.

i feel this way myself sometimes, liam.

Day 330. in which no subjects yelled, but objects were launched.

The proprietor of Hudson Coffee Traders is awesome, indeed! He kindly acquiesced to my demands for a larger 'Alex' sized cup of coffee!

One evening, an anonymous comment was posted on my former blog - Day 188 - simply asking, "What size would give you the caffeine boost you need?"

I called Kyrce on the phone almost immediately.

"What size do you think would make the 'perfect' size coffee cup? Ideally? What did they used to have at the Citgo before it shut down?"

This was very important. Just recently, I had ingested the largest size cup available at Hudson Coffee Traders by the time we hit New Paltz on our commute to USR. Two stops on the way to work wouldn't work, if we were ever to be on time!

Kyrce is great because I can call her and ask her stupid things and she doesn't suggest they are stupid. We discussed various coffee sizes available at various vendors and settled on 20 ounces.

20 ounces is the perfect sized cup to get you from Hudson Coff…

Day 323. in which oats and beer are left behind but we continue the practice.

My father never knew what to do with me. I lived alone with him from the age of 10 on, and I realize he really did the best he could as a single father with a preteen daughter. I wouldn't have wanted to trade places with him.

Now that I'm on the caregiver side, I'm more empathetic with his motives even if the actions sometimes seemed askew. He was concerned with my well-being and success, and tried to point me in the right direction, but I imagine it was hard for him to know what the right direction was. Unfortunately, growing up has unmasked the illusion that parents always know best.

We can aim to be good parents but it's a constant practice, not an end goal of perfection to be attained.

As the primary caregiver of my father, I practice to be a good caregiver. But I will be the first to admit that my practice falls short from time to time. With diligence, I pick up and try again.

And so did Dad. Again, and again. And that really is something.

* * *

The important th…

Day 321. in which Alex explains her mysterious disappearance.

Fear not, dear reader! I have not disappeared!

However, I am participating in this year's NaNoWrimo. The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month of November. There are no claims that your novel is actually 'good'; the only requirement of 'winning' is to complete 50,000 words.

January is for revising...

With a full-time job, a father with Alzheimer's, two kids under the age of 3, a teenager, and a Dana, it's a bit tricky. And I'm afraid, next to impossible to maintain both a blog and a novel!

Unfortunately, I'm supposed to have hit the mid-way point already but I'm stuck at word count 8,618...My characters are ambling about at the moment, trying to find their way around...or way out...

I'll be back in December to tell you of my success!

alex not writing...but the interruption was so sweet.

Day 283. in which Bob's shoes are propagating.

I've been meaning to take Dad sneaker shopping. His current sneakers are a nondescript gray pair that Velcro shut. Dad always had a preference for the plain. The Velcro is very handy but there isn't much in the way of support for his arch. Just a bland, ordinary gray sneaker.

Lately, I've been hiding his sneakers from him. It's far more comfortable to lounge around the house without shoes. I also take his shoes, though, because he is less likely to wander outside without shoes. I will not say it's entirely impossible, but it's far less likely.

A couple of nights ago, I was helping Dad was sitting get ready for bed. He was sitting on the edge of his bed. I kneeled down on the floor in front of him and unstrapped his shoes so that he wouldn't wear them to sleep. I pulled the shoes off of his feet and turned to set them on the other side of the door that leads up to the attic so that they would be out of Bob's field of vision.

"That's odd..." an…

Day 282. in which the cake is microwaved.

Lil put a new spin on an old nursery rhyme today. We were sitting on the edge of my bed, dressing Liam, when she launched into song.
patty cake, patty cake, baker's man -
bake me a cake as fast as you can.
pat it!
roll it!
and put it in the microwave!
and oh! yeah! put a 'b' on it!
Our children (and I mean this collectively) are the product of an expedient age. Expediency, however, is not necessarily a good thing. Putting a cake in the microwave may 'bake' it faster, but it's definitely not going to taste very good.

However, I can certainly see why Lil might be in a hurry to get her cake baked...

Day 273. in which it should be obvious.

It should be obvious to you by now that I recently bought a scanner.

Day 271. in which Alex uncovers a memento from Bob.

I recently bought a scanner so I've been scanning all of my old treasures. In my scrounging around for fun items, I uncovered the best postcard I have ever received. Postcard writing is a lost art, and my father was a masterful postcard artist.

This was a postcard I received from him when I was 11 years old. I was on a Girl Scout bike trip from Fort Ann to Saratoga and back again. It rained the entire time I was on this bike trek so I'm particularly glad this item survived the trek. I remember smelling like mildew for several days...

The 'ugly doll' he references was my beloved Cabbage Patch doll...

[And for those of you who didn't realize 'Alex' was not my first name growing up, I think you'll understand why I abandoned it, and I don't want to hear any comments about it!!!]


Day 270. in which Seth is lucky he is visiting family out-of-town.

Neither Lil nor Liam have ever had a 'professional' photograph taken in a 'studio'. I currently have over 3800 pictures of my family on Flickr so I think I have it covered...

home-grown photo of liam taken by alex at forsythe park.

However, my sister-in-law, Christine, has studio photos taken frequently. She has already had photographs of my three-month-old niece, Rae, taken twice! I've never pulled it off once!

I've always been impressed with Christine's ability to both organize and execute group events. If it was not for her, my brother's visits would be no more than the two of us getting together under one roof to nap (the first hour of our visit together, the two of us spent napping).

Christine knows this. So, she scheduled the appointment at Sears and posted the details on my Facebook 'wall'. All the cousins were to get their photo taken together at Sears on Saturday at 5.

Seth narrowly escaped this event as he is visiting family out-of-town...M…

Day 263. in which Bob detects an imposter popsickle.

Dana and I used to go out every Friday night. Then, we had kids together.

These days, we rarely go out more than twice a year, without a kid or a Bob in tow - unless you count stopping at the Getty for a coffee and a scratch-off ticket as a 'date'...

I honestly don't miss 'going out'. Qualitatively, our weekends are better - and I remember them...

yahoos that used to be at our house every friday night before kids.

Tonight, Dana planned dinner out at a real restaurant for us - The Bowery Dugout - and I talked Kyrce into wrangling Grandpa Bob and the kids for a couple of hours.

Dinner was amazing! Calamari! Scallops and shrimp fra diavolo style! Lobster! Steak! [I did not eat steak.]

I looked over the table at Dana.

"Gosh. Do you feel bad that we left the kids at home with hot dogs and macaroni and cheese?"

"No...?"

"Yeah! Me, either!" And we laughed all the way through dinner, celebrating a rare moment of parental freedom.

* * …

Day 257. in which Ford doesn't respond to pep talks and antifreeze.

I'm not a spontaneous person. I'm sorry if that doesn't make me much fun, but I grew up with my father, and if you know my father, you know that spontaneity not only did not come to him; it angered him. He always said that if he had ever been given a surprise party, he would have turned right around and walked back out the door in the other direction.

He said that anytime in his life there had ever been a surprise, it had been a bad one. Never a good one. Boredom was a 'good'; it meant that nothing bad was happening to you.

Every moment was planned. We didn't do anything without discussing it, planning it. Sometimes he wouldn't even answer the door when my Uncle Bill would stop by unannounced - because he hadn't called us first. Of course, had Uncle Bill called, Dad would have told him not to come...

So, it is with this nature that I tend to look at life, too. I like to know what is going to happen, in the order it is going to happen, from the start of my …

Day 247. in which we mean no disrespect to Kipling.

Last year, Seth came home with an English textbook. It was a reading primer and his assignment was to read Ricky Ticky Tavi. The next day, I called the school to make certain Seth had been not been accidentally placed in the wrong class.

Nope. Guidance verified he was in the right class. In fact, the counselor confirmed that Seth was in the highest level available for English.

What books did he read last year? Nothing remarkable was assigned by his teacher, so I generated my own assignments for him. Poor kid.

And remember the library? Seth asked to go there in place of recess. It wasn't allowed. In fact, you were permitted to go to the library only if your purpose was to research a paper. You could not just 'go' there without a school-designated 'purpose'. Going to a library simply to peruse books was arcane.

Given these fine experiences and the fact that Kingston High School is also centrally located on lower Broadway, we registered Seth for Coleman Catholic and resi…

Day 246. in which Bob speaks blog.

I was standing at the sink washing dishes when Dad made his first round down the hall to the kitchen from the living room. He seemed a bit anxious but the day had been a long one so I didn't think much of it. It would be time for bed soon.

As always, he stopped by the sink in his circular trip through the house. Typically, he comments on what a great job I'm doing washing the dishes but today, he said something I thought a bit unusual.

"Are the blogs all OK?" he asked.

I paused. Dad has long ago forgotten how to use a computer and to reference a blog in any universe is new knowledge. He has heard me mention the word before, and seems fascinated by it; he always demands to know what a 'blog' is when he hears the word referenced. However, he never pulls it out of nowhere. It's always in connection to something he has just heard.

And no one in the house was talking about blogs at the moment.

"Yes, the blogs are all O.K.," I said.

He didn't look so su…

Day 240. in which Walgreens and my brain are plotting together, against me.

It was pure laziness that I brought 2 rolls of black and white 35 mm film to Walgreens for processing. I had Dad, Lil, and Liam in tow and didn't feel ambitious enough to go to the Artcraft, which is sad since this store is walking distance from Walgreens...

I could have waited altogether...but I had been holding onto these two film canisters for a few weeks now. They had made several journeys back and forth in my laptop bag to USR and around again and I was afraid if I didn't drop them off soon, they'd end up lost entirely.

And I have good reasons to support this fear.

In the last 24 hours, I have misplaced both my digital camera and my cell phone. In the past month, I have misplaced both of these items countless times - along with my ATM card, my wallet, and my keys.

Last night, I pulled the cushions off the couch. I found many odd things, but none of these things were either the camera or the phone. Lil was standing by, excitedly announcing each 'find'. I uncovered …

Day 238. in which irony is lost upon the owner.

In what universe is it less obnoxious to yell at someone over an intercom 'no talking on cell phones!' than the actual person talking on the cell phone?

I am not a fan of cell phone use in public, particularly restaurants, but I'm not a Nazi about it, either. Dana embarrasses me immensely when he answers his phone and starts talking on it when we're out somewhere. It's not so much the cell phone that is annoying. It's Dana talking on the cell phone that is annoying. Dana seems to think that it is necessary to yell into a cell phone - because his hearing is poor and he can't hear the caller, it follows (for him) that the person he is talking to is also hard of hearing.

I called Dana so the kids could say goodnight, not realizing he was out at a restaurant having dinner. Dana can't resist answering his phone anytime that it rings, even if it's inconvenient for him to do so. I, on the other hand, have no such qualms. Mine is often on silent or abandoned…

Day 237. in which we remember panic, but not her name.

A friend of mine (not Kyrce) recently left her laptop at work and had to go back to work to fetch it. She was ashamed she had forgotten this, though she shouldn't have been. Only a couple of weeks earlier , she was also the same person who reminded me that I was 'human' not 'stupid' when I sought help from her with my head hanging low when I had forgotten to track time against all of the projects I'd been working by the deadline.

Nor did forgetting the laptop actually surprise me, either. I know several who have done the same thing (though it's usually the other way around); I think this happens far more frequently than one would realize. I don't think there is any shame in this, although I completely understand the frustration she must have felt - particularly so since she didn't remember until she had already made the hour commute and had to promptly turn around to do it all over again.

In the super, fast-paced lives we have created for ourselves, i…

Day 219. in which we introduce metaphysical Bobisms.

Even now, Dad tries to hide the issues with his memory. It's embarrassing to him and I think it was for a long time before anyone could identify a 'problem' with Dad. In some ways, Dad is still very clever so it's hard to tell when he's kidding and when he isn't.

And I think because of this, I am uncertain the problems with Dad's memory really began.

A couple of Friday afternoons ago, Kyrce and I wandered Uptown to Hudson Coffee Traders with Dad to meet an old friend of ours we hadn't seen in a year. No one was around to keep an eye on Dad so I decided to bring him with me. I thought he might enjoy tagging along and getting out of the house for a bit.

Dad was truly in rare form on this afternoon. I don't think any of us could get a sentence out without Dad interrupting. When I asked him to please not interrupt, he insisted that if he didn't interrupt, we'd never let him get a sentence in! Disgusted with us trying to quiet him, he decided he'…

Day 218. in which even the mundane isn't obvious.

Trying to be economical, I vied for the generic bar soap over the shower gel I typically buy. 59¢. What the hell. Why not? The savings equaled at least a cup of coffee.

The width of the bathroom, between counter and wall, is little more than a 3 foot span. At the far end of the bathroom is a shower, which itself is not much wider than 3 feet and is no more than a stall; there is no basin for bathing.

Four of us stood going no where fast.

Lily was the furthest in, then Dana, then Liam, then me. Lil had already stripped down but refused to get into the shower until Liam was in the shower.

"But Lil! We can't get past you. You have to get in so then Liam can get in," I pleaded.

Lil didn't get the logistics of it and refused to budge.

The plan was to get Lil and Liam in the shower. Dana and I believe the angst and frustration is far lower if we tag-team child-wrangling. Dana will take Lil, I'll take Liam.

Dana once said to me, during a bout of sleeplessness and sick kids, …

Day 215. in which the Starship 2000 still operates.

The ride that once took you to the future now takes you to the past.


I can't do this one anymore, though the Starship 2000, known in ancient times as the "Gravitron", was once my favorite ride. I could go on this over and over again, without feeling ill. I was proud of this.

It had been such a mysterious ride. What would happen to you inside of there...?

I'm firmly planting my feet in 2008. Since I value my life and these traveling rides are now antiques, I don't think I'm too disappointed about this.

Day 211. in which we practice divination.

My food is trying to tell me something. Something happy. Surely, it's a sign...

But probably just a sign that I need to get out more. Not only was I amused but I felt a need to photograph it, too.