“Buster the Springer, and my wet capris…”

Today, as I ran some errands, I decided to take a moment and drop by the lake near our home. In a state with over a million lakes (and I am not kidding) it is pretty easy to find a local lake. Today, I stopped at Wasilla Lake. It was so pretty. It was 68 degrees and the sun was blazing. I made a new friend! A Springer named Buster and his owner, CJ. She was there with her baby son in a front carrier, her Alaskan Malamute, and Buster. They were having a great time, chasing a ball into the water and back out again. Unfortunately, I did not realize how friendly Buster would be. He came up to me, wanting hugs and cuddles, with his wiggly butt, all full of water. He shook out his coat all over me. And then begged me to throw the ball. So I did. What a wonderful break.

Up here in Alaska, when the sun is blazing and the temps are pleasant, everyone is outside. Surprisingly enough, the park was pretty empty. There were no jet skiers, either. It was just this young mom and her dogs. And it was the perfect interlude to a stressful time in my life. My mom seems to absorb all my energy. If I am not doing something for her, I am doing something with her. Even if I am just keeping an eye on a sleeping old lady. LOL. We got her a tray for the couch where she can eat her meals on. It has legs that go under the couch. She took to it right away. In fact, she had her coffee this morning and promptly fell asleep, her head drooped down over her magazine, laying on the tray. Not much keeps her awake. And she is getting particular about what she eats, and how much she eats. I think she is having a hard time seeing her food, getting it onto her fork/spoon, and then getting into her mouth. Most clothes are stained. The other day, she had a very bad choking incident, and we were so worried. She recovered and finished her meal. But it was hard to watch.

Today, I had to run to the vet to pick up a prescription for our Springer, Poca. She is 13 and a wonderful dog. She has been battling a skin infection on her back since late June. We finally had a firm diagnosis of what bug we are fighting, and I had to go pick up her prescription. As I made my way home, I just wanted to stop for a minute, catch my breath, and get some photos of where I live. And as luck would have it, I meet a fellow Springer owner. We laughed. We tossed the ball to the dogs. I got to play grandma to her little baby (talking baby talk is one of my secret skill sets) and I was taking time for me. It was only 10 minutes. But wow. I came home refreshed and was able to give Poca her new meds, and laugh at my soaking wet capris and flip-flops. I think this is a lesson. As caretakers, we need to take these moments away. To look at the sky, enjoy the view before us, and thank God for the many blessings in our lives. And then we can come back and dive back in this Alzheimer’s thing we do. God is good, my friends. He is there. All we have to do is look.

“Blessed, thankful, grateful…”

On and on I could go…I could talk endlessly about Alzheimer’s and what it is, what it is not, and the affect it has on people. But dang, I feel like it is ALL I talk about, all the time. And I realized it is because there is little else. LOL. Soooo….

It is now September. To welcome Autumn/Fall or ignore it? So many memes to choose from! LOL! My son’s girlfriend was mortified when she walked in and there was a turkey on the windowsill, Trick or Treat clings on the window, an adorable ghost by the TV, and random, fake pumpkins here and there. To be fair, it was the last week of August. But, when you live with Alzheimer’s, you just have to do it when there is a moment of downtime for decorating. Like I told her, I finally got to my filing pile on my desk, and at the bottom were my July 4th window clings to put in the holiday decor box under my bed. When I got it out, I opened it, and there were all the seasons, just begging to come out. I love autumn; I do think it is my favorite time of the year. So I grabbed decor and I am on it.

For me, fall is all about gathering, the harvest, pumpkins and gourds, and the awesome colors. I think living in the Pacific Northwest was the most incredible experience. The colors in WA state in the Fall will just knock your socks off. I finally understood the seasons, living where there actually are seasons! LOL! Here in Alaska, Fall is pretty short. All of a sudden, leaves are blowing off the trees while flowers are still trying to bloom. This morning it was 30 degrees. Yeah. The heater is blasting away. We have mostly Birch and Aspen trees, with some evergreens thrown in for good measure. For some reason, when we moved to Alaska, I thought I would be surrounded by Christmas trees and the smell of an evergreen forest. Nope. LOL. We even have a lot of ferns that grow wild here. I never would have thought of ferns in Alaska. And I cling to Fall because very soon, we will be snowbound. There is already what is called, “Termination Dust” on the local mountains. That is the first bit of snow that sticks, terminating summer. It happens every year, around the State Fair time of year, in September. And it is gorgeous.

These portends of impending winter are all around us. The air is crisp; the sun sharper. We have an early morning darkness creeping back in, and the sunset is actually early enough that we see it! LOL! Time is moving, slowing, and the world will soon be quieter, enveloped in the snow and darkness that is winter. I ADORE winter. People from the southern climates are somehow afraid of it. I was intimidated by it, but not fearful. And I discovered an entire new world, couched in snow.

One of my friends saw a post on FB and shared with me. It is keeping your Christmas tree up all year, decorating it for the seasons. I am so conflicted on this, because to me, Christmas trees are for Christmas. I have to fight my husband to put ours up Thanksgiving weekend. He thinks it is too soon, because we keep ours up util the Epiphany or Baptism of the Lord, in early January. But I have been tossing the idea around.

This is an Autumn Tree. I thought it was so pretty. I found so many photos of year-round trees. One was for Mother’s Day and it was all in purples. LOVE IT! The one for Valentine’s Day incorporates hearts and bows; St. Patrick’s Day had green clovers and hats and glitter; the one for Easter was so pretty, too, with lavenders and soft greens, along with eggs and flowers; the 4th of July was full of red, whites and blues, stars and stripes. So may wonderful ideas. And it marks the passage of time, to note the holidays as they pass. I have a long, sweater box under my bed, full of my seasonal decor like window clings, placemats, and other things. The chunky stuff is in a cupboard above my dryer. I love hauling it out and adding to the year. And I am thinking it might help my mom. Because today, she is lost in the National Geographic magazines I found (at 10 for $1). She occasionally will check her watch and comment on the day, as it passes. But she is still in PJs at 3:15pm, having slept through golf and baseball (okay, I may have joined her in the nap department for a bit) and looking around, lost. All she sees are her magazines, and from time to time, she will talk to the dog or make a random comment. Sigh.

With Alzheimer’s, their world contracts to the room they are in, the things in their immediate presence (she does not even notice the front door or the back door. Just what is directly in her line of sight) and time is something very elusive when you spend the larger portion of the day asleep. I am thinking I need to step up my holiday decorating, to enhance her daily life. To give her some stimulation so she knows what the seasons are, where we are in the year, and to give her some joy at looking around her. The good news? A Michael’s store is opening on the 6th and my son’s girlfriend was hired there. And she gave me DISCOUNT coupons for their opening night! This could be fun!!! Now, do you think I can convince the hubby? We will see…