Conversations with my Mother

As I can’t blog about what I really want to blog about (I am working on a fix for that), I decided instead to bring you the conversation I had with mother tonight. She and my sister, apparently, have decided that my mother should join She needs to upload a picture, which my sister sent to her already. This picture is a picture of another picture. Which is very bizarre as both of them own scanners and my sister has a kick-ass one. I guess she has not yet figured out how to use it. Here goes the conversation:

Mom: I need to get the picture of a picture of a picture that Kathy sent me. It is on my iPad.

Me: You need to do it from your computer.

Mom: But it is all on my iPad not on my computer.

Me: Mom, just because you used your iPad to set it up doesn’t mean it is only on your iPad. is on the Internet. Go to your computer and open up the email. (I will save you the play by play of this activity)

Mom: Ok.

Me: Download the picture to your desktop so you know where it is.

Mom: How do I do that?

Me: Open the picture

Mom: (lots of fumbling and muttering) I have it open. It is called DSC … Bmp.

Me: (I start to open up Parallels and Windows as I fear I will have to remote in). What is the name of the program that opened the picture? Maybe MS Paint?

Mom: Google Chrome?

Me: Let’s connect the computers ok? Open up MS Live Messenger.

Mom: Is that in the control panel?

Me: No. You need to press the start button and go to all programs. Scroll down until you see the Windows Live folder and open Windows live messenger.

Mom: Ok, I see it. Should I open it?

Me: Yes, open it and sign in.

Mom: It’s wrong?

Me: What’s wrong?

Mom: It has my

Me: That is just the address you used to set it up. It is now like your user name.

Mom: Ok, I have it opened.

Me: Hang on. I am trying to get into windows. It is very slow.

Mom: Are you in yet?

Me: Yes, I have sent a message. Do you see it flashing at the bottom of your screen?

Mom: Yes.

Me: Good. Now, look at the top right-hand corner for the drop down arrow that lets you select Actions and then Request Remote Assistance.

Mom: Do you want me to hit the X?

Me: No! Look underneath for the drop down arrow under the X. We just did this on the weekend.

Mom: It’s not there. Let me open it again. I need to sign in again.

Me: No you don’t. You are already signed in.

Mom: No I’m not.

Me: I can see you. I just sent you another message. Can you see it?

Mom: It says ‘I can see you.’

Me: Right. Now go to the upper right hand corner and hit the drop-down arrow.

Mom: It’s not there…

We went through this loop several more times with no success.

Me: Send me the picture and your login and password for

Mom: I can’t it is on my iPad …

Me: *head*desk*head*desk*head*desk

I think computer companies should reward adult children of seniors for assisting their senior parents adopt technology! Being tech support for my 75-year old mother is getting to be very, very, very trying! She does love her iPad though!

Call me a Cynic…

It was a very interesting day in BC politics. Former Energy Minister Bill Bennett has been kicked out of caucus for saying what everyone is thinking. He has accused Gordon Campbell of being abusive to Cabinet Members and that many seem to have ‘battered wife syndrome.’ I think that most people who follow BC politics closely would not be at all surprised to learn that Campbell is abusive. I think this is probably the worst kept secret of BC Liberals. Bennett wants Campbell to go now and not wait for a leadership convention.

Colin Hanson was on the CBC afternoon show ‘On the Coast’ today and he defended Campbell’s right to stay on. He argued that political parties choose a new leader before the old one steps down. According to Hanson – this is how it is done. This is patently false. The BC NDP had several interim leaders; Joy MacPhail and Dan Miller come to mind. Many other parties in power have also done the same thing. Basically, there is no reason Gordon Campbell can’t vacate the position and have the caucus appoint someone else. After all isn’t that how Michael Ignatieff first became the leader of the federal Liberals.

In addition to kicking Bill Bennett out of cabinet today, they also rolled back the 15% tax cut that was announced a couple of weeks ago. Colin Hanson babbled on about in times of uncertainty in politics, cabinet needs more flexibility to ensure that services are delivered. I am sure this is code for the tax cut did not turn things around for Gordon Campbell so we are going to save it for our new leader to announce once s/he is chosen.

Most likely the next leader will be a man. After all, according to Bill Bennett, Gordon Campbell has driven all the women out of the Liberal caucus. He cited women like Christy Clarke and Carole Taylor, two strong, innovative women who brought a lot of great ideas to the party. If Bill Bennett is right about the abusive atmosphere Campbell created, it is no wonder they left politics all together. No one can forget how combative the provincial legislature was when the Liberals were first elected and it was only Joy MacPhail and Jenny Kwan standing against all those Liberals. They did an amazing job holding the BC Liberals to account in those first four years in a very raucous, perhaps bordering on abusive, provincial legislature.

I am not sure why Bill Bennett has broken the cabinet agreement about ‘no surprises.’ I suspect he will also be kicked out of caucus. This will then position him as a whistle-blower on Campbell’s 10-year reign of abuse, should he decide to run for the leadership. Personally, I think the only hope the BC Liberals have is bringing in an outsider. They need someone who can distance him/herself from all of the scandals and absolute disregard for some of the most vulnerable and downtrodden people in this province. I sincerely hope that whoever becomes leader has a little sympathy and genuinely cares about the people in this province. After all these years, we need this change.

Conversations with my Mother – The Taming the Wilderness Edition

Manicured lawn and flowers in the mountains

Many years ago my parents purchased a lot in the East Kootenay. They built a house and then began their long-time project of taming the wilderness. When my father was alive it was a mostly passive project.

The first thing was trying to get the deer to stop eating the flowers they would plant every summer. They put in a fence. However the deer quickly learned to jump it. They made it higher and it didn’t matter. They put blood meal down around their flowers – the deer ignored it and continued to eat their flowers. Then came the electric fence. I am not sure why it was removed but it is no longer there. Finally, my father (who was very smart) rigged a motion detector that instead of shining a light it would activate a sprinkler. That has been the solution that has worked and is still used today.

There were other wild life issues. Wild turkeys tormented everyone by leaving gummy tar-like scat all over the place. The squirrels who found their way into the wood pile were trapped and relocated. There were propane powered carbon dioxide machines that attracted mosquitoes so that they left the people alone. In my father’s time most of the pests were dealt with logically and with minimal violence.

My father passed away in 2004 and my mother is now left to contend with this property in the mountains and all the vagaries of wildlife. Bears have climbed the fences and wrecked trees much to my mother’s chagrin. The worst pests seems to be the skunks and the gophers.

The last 3 years my mother has had skunks in her yard. This year seems to be the worst. She was telling me today that they had trapped one. I asked her what she did with them. She told me that her handyman drowns them. I was shocked. I suggested that they be released back into the wild where they can live without coming into contact with people. I have searched the internet and there are ways to handle skunks. She refuses to even engage in plan that might see them live.

The backside of the 'rockery' no flowers yet

She is even worse when it comes to gophers. She has this area of her yard that she calls the ‘rockery.’ It has lots of big rocks and lots of plants. Apparently the gophers burrow into the rockery and sit up on the rocks and ‘laugh’ at her. At one point, this drove her to buy a pistol with the intention of shooting the gophers. Thankfully someone in her strata association told her it was illegal to shoot the gophers!

I don’t understand why people want to move to the mountains and then impose city order. As the development continues, of course, the wildlife are more and more displaced. For me, the mountains are incredibly beautiful place to be. Why would anyone want to plant grass and grow flowers? I can understand planting wild flowers but it really makes no sense to me try to tame nature. I hope for the sake of all the little animals she gives it up soon.

The Spin

I am finding it interesting listening to my mother spin the incident that happened just over a week ago. Initially, she was completely on my side realizing that my sister was completely irrational. A couple of days later she decided that it was not my sister’s uncontrollable rage that was the issue. Instead she was going to demand an explanation about the fact that she did not shower, nor brush her teeth or hair for 3 days. While I agree these are important issues which are certainly symptomatic of deeper problems, it is her rage that needs to be addressed. I have made a suggestion that my mother call Kathy’s doctor to alert her but she believes she can’t.

As the days have progressed I have listened to my mother blame all sorts of other things like:
– There were too many dogs
– We slept too late.
– I worked.
– Kathy was upset because Deb and I celebrate our anniversaries and valentine’s day
– It was George’s fault (my sister’s husband) because he expects Kathy to do everything for him.*
– Kathy doesn’t like her hair.**

I find myself continuing to re-frame this for my mother. In my mind the problem is an untreated mental health issue. In my understanding of mental health issues I believe she has untreated bi-polar disorder. This has been exacerbated by the zyban she was put on because she wanted to quit smoking (which my mother also things was one of the many ‘reasons.’ She has also started drinking again. My sister had stopped drinking and had actually been doing much better. Alcoholism runs deep in my adoptive family. My sister also has a serious gambling addiction. My mother recognizes that Kathy is much better when she goes to the casino.

All things said my sister is sick and is still acting like she is five years old. Unfortunately for me the assault has brought up every little thing about my childhood to the fore front. The re-traumatization has now been made worse with information my mother gave me tonight. Apparently she was in the next room and heard what was going on. She said she was afraid to intervene.

Most of the abuse I suffered as a child was from my brother. My mother was powerless to stop it. She was not there when it happened. The stuff with my sister was different. She was younger and she was mean. From age 7 on, I was responsible for making sure the house was clean and for cooking dinner every night for my mother. My sister made things much harder. There were many fights. Too many fights to count. My sister would attack me and if I fought back I got in trouble because I was older, bigger (read fatter) and I should know better. I was stuck in an untenable situation. I couldn’t fight back and I still had to endure attacks. Things escalated the older we got to the point of knives being thrown at me by her.

Right now I am angry. I am especially pissed off now that I know that my mother could have stepped in and didn’t. But I guess I should not expect that she could change her behaviour anymore than my sister can. I cannot believe and I am really pissed off that at 45 this has been foisted on me. I have done my work. I have done my time and I have chosen to live in a different way. I thought I had my boundaries in place and could trust that I would not be subjected to an assault. Really, we are all adults why can’t everyone behave like one?

Many people have asked why I don’t just refuse to see my family anymore. After much thought I have come to the realization that it is not within my value system to do this. I am loyal. There are situations where I will and have removed people from my life. I did refuse to have contact with my older brother. The rest of the family followed suit.

Over the next couple of weeks I will be seeing my counsellor. I need to deal with the flashbacks – which I will do by keeping busy and concentrating on things. I also need to figure out some strategies for dealing with the revisionist historians in my family – especially my mother.

*This whole situation is rather scary. While it is true he is reliant on her she also reinforces his child-like behaviour. She uses baby voices (when she is not yelling at him and insulting him). The man spent 30 years as a college professor in criminology, he was well-known and respected by members of the criminal elite (I am not saying that is a good thing) – all in all, not a stupid man.
**She has coloured it black and, according to my mother, once you go black you can’t go back. I told my mother that is easy to fix – use temporary black dye that washes out until her hair grows out.

Conversations with my Mother…

I have very odd conversations with my mother. Given that I call her every single day of my life this is bound to happen.

When my Mom visited us in July 2008,  I saw her toes and told her she had toe fungus. I advised  her on how to get rid of it. She asked my sister if she thought she had toe fungus and my sister said no. So my mother did nothing. Now, apparently, her toes are black and she can’t stand the pain it is causing when she cuts her toenails.

Here was the conversation we had yesterday:

Me: Hi Mom, how are you?

Mom: Not so good. I told you I had to go to the foot doctor today because my toes hurt.

Me: Umm, no you didn’t tell me.

Mom: I didn’t tell you because you always diagnose me.

Me: Was I wrong?

Mom: No, that’s the problem.

Me: What did the foot doctor say?

Mom: I have toe fungus.

Me: You have let this go all this time?

Mom: Yes and now my toes are black.

Me: I told you that you had toe fungus back in July.

Mom: I know.

The conversation then consisted of  her telling me what the doctor said and what she needed to do now to get rid of the foot fungus. Oh the joys of my life.

Update: Carol from SAINTS has a great blog entry on toe fungus.