It is done. The day of feasting/gluttony/enforced family togetherness has come to its inevitable conclusion with the usual small triumphs and defeats, and an unusual and sad incident as well.
The whole famn damily (as we like to call it) gathered at our humble abode for the day. The Swamp was looking quite nice if we do say so, clean and somewhat festive, with candles on the mantel and a long table cobbled together from every flat surface we own plus one we borrowed. We don't exactly set a house beautiful table with flowery centerpieces and crap like that but -- and this is a point of some pride with me, so no snickering -- the tablecloths all matched.
All was going well until the Monster In Law arrived. Now, she is a nice woman in her own way. This is code for "huge but well meaning pain in the nether regions." And she doesn't even really mean that well most of the time, but just often enough that no one has yet worked up the nerve to actually strangle her, even lightly and for a short time. Yet.
Despite our record-breaking moist, delicious 23 pound turkey, expertly roasted by Yours Truly, this woman saw fit to bring another 8 pound turkey breast with her, dried and toughened as only she can accomplish. She also brought, oh, nearly every other item we served, but in its quick 'n easy supermarket form: gravy in a jar, instant mashed potatoes, etc. Why did she do this? No one knows... We used none of it. Bewilderment set in early and I soon fell into a sort of trance watching her produce more and more nasty processed food from her capacious bags and boxes. She insisted on bringing the stuffing, thus robbing me of one of the purest joys of Thanskgiving, the doughy deliciousness of stuffing right out of the bird. I could only stand back and gape as she decanted a glutinous mass of doctored Stove Top (a contraction of which might read Stop, which is not a bad idea if you think about it), laid the late, lamented breast atop it, and slopped canned chicken broth over the whole mess like an arsonist with a can of kerosene. Just a couple of hours in a slow oven under a piece of tinfoil and it would be not just soggy and inedible, but warm as well.
The final straw for me was when she spurned my relish tray. That's right: she spurned my relish tray. She had insisted on bringing the pickles and dilly beans and olives, and you know it's much easier to dodge a charging rhino than to stand your ground, so we concurred. But she also brought the World's Ugliest Relish Tray to put it all in, a sort of dull putty colored swoopy thing. We showed her the really very pretty, if slightly smaller, ceramic one given to me by a friend but she scoffed -- and this was the first time I can recall consciously identifying a scoff on the fly, so you can see why I'm so eager to blog it -- and said it wouldn't hold anything.
It was at this point that I had to literally throw my hands in the air, albeit discreetly, and leave the room. I allowed myself a very brief sulk in the bedroom before I abandoned all hope and re-entered the fray.
She was only moderately unbearable the rest of the day, loud and clueless but not malicious, or at least not very. Nevertheless I was not that unhappy about having to leave for work at about 5:30pm. (Holidays pay double, and aren't we all pretty willing to leave a little early once the festivities are over? You can admit it, I won't tell...) The house was loud and hot and overwhelming, and the facility I worked at was cool, calm, overstaffed: heavenly, if you made allowances for its dreary dimness (bonus points for the functioning Coke machine). Why do we house severely mentally ill folk in such drab, depressing surroundings? If I had to spend my life in that place I'd be mentally ill too.
The sad and unusual facet to the holiday was that J's sister Shannon and her husband, who live across the street from us, had to rush one of their Shelties to the emergency vet hospital. The poor little thing didn't make it, I don't know exactly what happened but the dog had been lethargic and vomiting and having diarrhea for a day, maybe a day and a half. Then she just collapsed and couldn't get up. Her heart stopped and they did manage to revive her but the prospects for her were so grim (and extremely expensive, with so little chance of recovery) that they had to make the difficult decision to put her to sleep. J and her sister Amy (the vet) went to the hospital once Amy arrived at our house, and Amy actually helped work on the dog, but to no avail.
Then in her grief Shannon had to come home and spend the rest of the day trying to salvage what she could from the holiday, after trying to explain to her 5 year old son what had happened to the dog. He didn't understand and asked why they would be burying her. It was very sad...
It all brought up how I felt when Beany died. I'm still sad when I think about it but time passes and you start remembering the good things, and it still hurts but not as much. Today in fact I was looking at a chair we'd moved into the family room and thought, I bet Bean would sleep under that chair if he were here. And it made me smile a little. I still see him sometimes, I'll see Slick walk through the kitchen out of the corner of my eye and he'll look like Beany to me and I'll feel a pang. He was the best cat.
Now I'm at work. I'm at a respite house where a person can come spend some time for any number of reasons, like they need a break from their surroundings, they are getting out of the hospital and they need someplace to stay before their housing becomes available, they are not quite stable and need a few more days before they return to their housing from a brief hospitalization, etc. There is only one client here and she is a busy one. She spends a lot of time charging around the house in a moderately disorganized fashion, insisting I wash a comforter from her room, help her with the vacuum cleaner, can she put this plant in her room?
Just in case I managed to hang on to a bit of my own sanity this week, I'm having car trouble tonight. I went to start up the Mazda to go on a Chinese food run for the house and it won't start. We had the alternator replaced just a couple of weeks ago and now it looks as if there's more to the story... I called around and found some friends who can come help me jump start it and follow me home in case of any further problems. I had to spend some time on the phone calling friends until I got ahold of anybody, it being a holiday weekend and all, and the client here got very agitated and angry about this and came to the office and blurted, "I don't know why you are doing this!" I called after her, as she was storming out of the living room, that I was calling my friends to see who could help me with my car trouble tonight, and she said very brightly, "Oh, all right then!" ...Um, do you think she might be a little paranoid?
I learned tonight that when a mentally ill person appears at the ER or in their doctor's office with an increase in symptoms, one of the first things they do is screen them for a urinary tract infection. It turns out that something as simple as a UTI can cause an exacerbation of symptoms. They get some antibiotics into them and things usually settle down a bit soon thereafter. Had no idea.
So, I should be home by 10:30 pm or so. Tomorrow we'll take the Mazda in and have it diagnosed and fixed. All will be well again soon, one hopes. Until the next thing.