I just returned from a short getaway to the Jersey shore, visiting family.
I loaded the kayak up on the roof of my car the day before, feeling a little trepidation about the 3-hour drive ahead. I've driven around with it before, but I had my Merchant Marine boyfriend with me in the past when we did any kind of long distance travel with the kayaks, and so he was always there to make sure everything was tied securely.
But I resolved not to do more than 65 on the Garden State Parkway and for the most part I stayed in the far right lane. It stayed put and I was rather proud of my knots and fastenings. It's not too bad a ride except for the 7 or so toll booths along the way. And of course the Tappan Zee Bridge toll is now up to $5.
We did some canoeing and blueberry picking, had a great seafood meal out as well as Chinese buffet lunch and a blueberry pancake breakfast at a funky joint called Shut Up and Eat.
I met K.'s new cat and of course her two dachshunds were overjoyed to see me. But I'm left feeling sad. It's hard to see your parents grow old. There was my mother's 4-day stint at the hospital just before I left, and I can see after this visit that my father's macular degeneration is getting worse. Well, actually, he is still driving, and I know he's having a tough time thinking about giving up his independence. he's extremely stubborn and also more than a little fatalistic. He doesn't usually wear sunscreen, for example, even though he had a melanoma removed from his nose. So I was pleased when he agreed to let me drive his SUV a few times during our visit.
We talked about it a little and I tried to put as positive a spin on it as I could. I told him I would love to give up my car (if I lived in an area where you could get around without one, which I don't), and he doesn't either. I said it would be good if he had some neighbors or friends he could go to the grocery store with. I was trying to just get him thinking of the different ways he could get around. He did say they have a local transit service that stops at all the shopping centers, and he mentioned a friend of his that would probably help him out also.
Losing your sight has to be incredibly depressing, but he is not one for self pity or complaining. He uses a magnifying glass now to read anything and has to sit 3 feet from the TV to see what's going on. I left him some info I printed out from a website for Centrasight, which is about a transplantable tiny camera they put in your eye, for certain people with late stage macular degeneration.
It was also upsetting when me and my dad were carrying his canoe from a little gravel path on the side of his house to the car. He lost his footing and fell back on his butt. He said he was ok, but it still left me feeling upset. Lifting and carrying that canoe, which weighs about as much as my kayak, he said gee, I guess I'm not as strong as I used to be, because it was a little tough for the 2 of us to get it on top of the SUV. No doubt he has lost a lot of strength.
I've seen it in my sedentary neighbor, who's in her late 60s. She put off knee replacement surgery for 3 years, until she was hobbling around with a walker and cane (totally unnecessary), and as a result, post-surgery, she can still hardly walk, not because of the knee now, but because she allowed herself to become even more out of shape than she was. She lost muscle strength while trying to keep off her bad knee. If you don't use it regularly, you most certainly lose it.
But getting back to my dad. I was in fact hesitant to do the kayaking/canoeing with him when he suggested it a few months back. And I think this will be the last time we do that. Cedar Creek is a meandering river with a slow current that feeds into Barnegat Bay, but it has many hairpin twists and turns. Navigating those turns with a 14-foot canoe was difficult. We ended up multiple times slamming into the bank of the river and getting caught up in the brush. We also went under many fallen logs that were suspended just 3 or 4 feet over the water's surface, so if you didn't duck your head in time as the boat cruised under them, ramming into one of them would have knocked you out.
I wanted to take lots of photos, as I remembered from the last time we did this river with K. and my boyfriend about 4 years ago, that there were 3 or 4 picturesque bridges the river flows under, but I didn't dare take my hands of the paddle! It was a 2-hour trip without much break and some very strenuous paddling. I wasn't worried about me, but more so for my dad, who's not used to that kind of exercise.
Thankfully, when we disembarked at a little park with a sandy beach and picnic area, a man saw my father getting up stiffly out of the canoe and came over to help us get it on top of the car. It just really hit me that my dad's too old for this, even if he says he can do it. I have a feeling that he realizes it himself now. For so many years, dad was the boss, and everyone deferred to him. Now I can sense that things are shifting; like it or not, Dad's going to have to bend a little and acknowledge there are some things he can no longer do. Giving up driving is going to be one of those things.
K. now lives apart from my dad in a nearby town. So after dinner, dad and I went back to his house and were talking and watching TV. As I pet Louie, his cat, he mentioned that K. thought the cat was going blind. He's quite old and overweight. For all i know, if the cat is losing its vision, it could be diabetes-related. The irony wasn't lost on me, since I think my dad's macular degeneration may also be diabetes related. Earlier on, my dad ignored the diagnosis and didn't check his insulin and didn't change his eating habits. I think he pays more attention to it now (to a point), but he also generally has a fatalistic attitude. He's outlived his own father by many years, and I know he doesn't want to live longer if he's bedridden or disabled.
So between the 3 of us, we picked 12 pounds of blueberries. I took home 6 pounds and spent all day yesterday rinsing them, drying them outside in the sun and then freezing them in zip lock bags for winter use when blueberries cost a premium (if you can even find them).
On the return trip home I happened to turn on the radio and WCBS was reporting a 5-car accident at Exit 136. One car had gone airborne and was now completely submerged in a pond of some sort to the side of the parkway. If I knew the area, I would certainly turn off and get back on later, but this was a part of Jersey I didn't know, so I had no choice but to head straight into what they were describing as a 2-mile backup.
By the time I got through it, it had become a 7-mile backup, and I could see a small crowd of people standing on an overpass looking down at the nearby accident.
Yesterday it was quickly back to "business as usual" here. I had a doctor's appointment in the early afternoon and was able to get an appointment at the Honda dealer for them to take another look at the wheel drum they replaced for me the week before I left on my trip. There was a new rubbing noise whenever I applied the brakes that wasn't there before. Luckily my trip was uneventful in that regard.
So I had to wait 2 hours at the dealer while they took it all apart; he said they think some of the rust from the old drum hadn't been cleaned out well enough and had slipped inside, creating that noise. It appears now that the sound is gone, but it seems i feel a vibration now on the brake pedal. Good gosh almighty.
I started picking wineberries in the backyard yesterday but they've just started ripening, I think, becus there's not a ton of ripe ones out there yet.
Yesterday I also continued work stripping the old wallpaper lining out of the inside of an old antique wood trunk I have. It always had a musty smell when you opened it up, and that's one reason i never stored anything but Xmas ornaments in it. But I noticed recently a bit of that musty smell when I walked by it, so i decided that, given this spectacular dry, sunny weather we've been having, it would be a good time to put it in the sun and start removing that wallpaper lining.
I've been using a sponge soaked in vinegar to soften the paper as I've heard that kills the musty smell. The musty smell is caused by bacteria eating the paper; the same thing is what causes old books to smell. I got most of the wallpaper off, and now the wallpaper backing is left. I'll probably haul the trunk outside again work on it.
That's a picture of me and the trunk, taken about 4 years ago. (Behind it is a wall mural my mother painted on my living room wall.)
Today I'm thinking about using up about a half gallon of wood preservative on my stockade fence. There won't be enough to paint the whole 40 feet or so of fence, but I could do just the tops where the water tends to collect and could lead to rot. I figure I already bought the stuff and it's not doing anything sitting in the basement, so I might as well use it up. I painted it when the fence was installed, but that was a good 8 or 9 years ago. This is the best weather to work in, sunny but DRY.
Much relished R&R
I just returned from a short getaway to the Jersey shore, visiting family.