Thursday, March 23, 2017

Side Effects of Dementia on Caregivers

love and marriage, kissing boys, reality, S.R. Karfelt
The Glitter Globe/S.R. Karfelt

Dementia feels contagious.

You train your brain with input, right? After a long stint wandering the halls of dementia, it takes a concerted effort to escape it. For instance, after spending the day with Gummy, when she’s deep into her “I’m living at Burger King they call it Memory Care now,” I’ve actually referred to the nurses as, “Gummy’s co-workers.” I’d like to pretend I was humoring her, but it’d be a lie.

Sometimes I come home and shut out the lights and sit in the dark. It’s sort of a sensory deprivation thing. (Other than rescue kitty standing outside the window yowling.)

I’m fine, just fine.

Most of the time I handle it pretty well. I love her. I enjoy being with her. If I occasionally cry picking out underwear for her at Target, just keep moving.

It’s not the only thing, but…
When someone complains about how they had to work an extra hour, or how the car they want costs too much, or how hard it is to get costumer service on the phone, I’m making sympathetic sounds but inside my head I’m screaming,  BUT YOU HAVE YOUR FACULTIES INTACT DON’T YOU, STFU! SEIZE THE DAY! CARPE DIEM! ENJOY EVERY SECOND! THEY’RE EVAPORATING!

Not that I don’t agree with you about the little difficulties in life. Why just today I asked Panera for extra olives on my salad and only got four olives. So I feel your pain.

I take Gummy to see her doctor, because she’s lightheaded and half-fainting all the time, plus her back hurts, her legs won’t work, her nose is stuffed up, etc. etc. (Gummy rehashes her woes all the way to the medical offices) but when they ask her how she is, she’s forgotten and says, “Can’t complain, I’m fine! My memory is good. Everyone says I have a good memory.” Sometimes I roll my eyes so HARD that I worry the ligaments could detach.

Existential Crisis. Because you can’t look someone with dementia/Alzheimer’s in the eyes very often without wondering, where do they go? If you contemplate that for long things start to crumble and you start watching a lot of Bill Nye on YouTube, and Jenna Marbles. You’ve always watched a lot of Neil deGrasse Tyson, so that doesn’t count. If you don’t get that, maybe you’re not having an existential crisis.

Economics is the bottom line. The way the world works. Blah, blah, blah. I suppose if we step back and look at how old and infirm people are treated in third world countries (I’m thinking lying in the streets with no legs, begging), then the fact that people with memory loss often aren’t cared for properly in our first world country, isn’t a shock. But, hey economics-is-the-bottom-line-world, I’m disappointed in you.

Capitalism. Ditto. We’re talking about a generation of people who’ve worked hard all of their lives. You need to step up. I’m judging you. I still think you’re the greatest, but know what? You could be freaking better. I’m ashamed of you.

Organized Religion. Gummy has forgotten you. The next one to ask me how Gummy sits with Jesus gets a throat punch.

Plus there’s a pile of little side effects.

Sometimes I don’t go to the grocery store. Can’t squeeze it in. We eat a lot of Panera.

The newspaper goes from the mailbox straight to the recycling bin because who am I kidding? It’s not going to be read.

Junk mail just pisses me off. TREES PEOPLE. STOP. JUST STOP. Send me an email that I’ll never open like everybody else does.

It’s unlikely that I’ll pick up the phone for any number other than Gummy’s assisted living, but on the off-chance a telemarketer gets me, it’s a sad day for them. No. Time. Unless you’re calling to heal the sick for free, you’d be better off sucking down a glass of glass than trying to scam me after a long day.


There are more side effects, but it’s 10:30 p.m. and I’m just getting to the shower today. Then I’m going to do laundry. Also this blog. 

Please share your own side effects, because I know we could keep this up for a long time. Comment if you can feel me, or if you’re disappointed in economics too.  

And here's a puppy, because dementia/Alzheimer's sucks, but dogs. They help.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

My Love Affair with Technology—I Don't Belong in this Neighborhood

Technology, Photonics, High Tech, Writing, Love, My Love Affair with Technology
The Glitter Globe/S.R. Karfelt

He wooed me. 

Bigger. Better. Faster.

Oh, baby.

All along I've been surrounded by a smattering of what the tech world had to offer. I didn't gravitate toward it naturally. It fell into my lap. That would be my first laptop. It was one of those huge engineering ones. It didn't even fit into a laptop bag.

     "Try it," the engineer said. "I don't need it anymore. It can't handle what I need, but you, it's good enough for what you need."

That wasn't even true. My lowly Word documents crashed the snot out of that machine regularly. Maybe it wasn't satellite technology, but those files were big.

But it was free, and faster than a pencil and paper, so I took it.

Of course there were mobile phones, kindles, iPads, an Echo, a ROKU, GPS's, a ROOMBA, and a variety of laptops and desktops too. Because engineer. Because Christmas.

The computers were a mishmash of partially crippled machines all interconnected together like a Russian Skynet. This one goes to that printer—the one that only prints legal size black and white. That one goes to the color printer that is out of red, but use it anyway because those cartridges have gone extinct. This printer is actually a laminator. Don't send anything there, you have to do that by hand.

Keep that computer in that room on all the time or none of the machines will print.

Do taxes on this laptop. It has Excel.

That fifteen year old machine in the closet needs to stay on too. It's what keeps the entire network connected.

The blue thing up on top of the cabinets is the WiFi thing. The password for that is thirty random characters long. Try to figure out which ones are zeros and which ones are the letter O.

If you want to put a WIP (Work in Progress) on your Kindle Fire, email it to this address.

To put a document on the old Kindle make sure you increase the font to size 72. During transition it will reduce to a 10. No one knows why.

Your gmail, author email, and your email via the publisher is on your iPad. Your regular email is on your laptop. That old business account is on your phone. Your old Yahoo account for the neighbor's dog? That's on one of those old laptops in the corner.

The passwords for everything are written in shorthand, the kind that is extinct now, on little bits of paper and buried in that pile with all the cards and fan mail you've ever received. There are photographs in there too.

Digital photographs are on your phone. And the cloud. They will never get uploaded to the Snapfish APP for prints because you waited to do it until you had 17,000 photos and you seem to think you can get them all on there now. And the cloud laughed. And iTunes froze. No. iTunes shit the bed. And Dear Hubby said I TOLD YOU NOT TO USE APPLE PRODUCTS.

Because he'd rather you brought a Greek boyfriend home on your next vacation than you buy a MAC.

It's an engineer thang.

Sometimes, when you say I AM BUYING MYSELF A MAC AND EFF ALL THIS COMPUTER NETWORKED SHITE TO THE RIVER STYX AND BACK, he says the most heartless, unloving thing he's ever said.

     "Go ahead, but I won't help you troubleshoot it."

The answers to security questions aren't the real answer. The one thing I took away from the defense industry was this—you're only as strong as your weakest link. The fact that I like vanilla isn't exactly a state secret. So I make up different answers to every security question AND I DO NOT WRITE THEM DOWN. I memorize them in haiku fashion.

I shit you not.

My brain works like a giant disco ball of flashing lights. I can memorize patterns forever, just not consistently. What I mean is that I don't have access to all of the glitter globe information at all times. Sometimes I have to go get a drink of ice water. Walk around. Read something. Let March slide into April. And when the planets align properly, IT WILL ALL COME BACK.

Then and only then will I be able to log onto GoDaddy.

Those cords go to the external hard drive. That entire drawer is full of flash drives.

Back shit up.
Back shit up.
Back shit up.

Control S
Control S
Control S

The black thingy hanging on the edge of that bookshelf is a wireless connect for the cordless keyboard. It's okay if it falls down to be raped by the ROOMBA because that keyboard has needed new batteries for six months.

Just drag the wired one from desk to desk.

The twenty foot cord snaking around the chair is attached to the mouse that goes between the sitting desk and the standing desk.

That glass jar is full of international adapters so you can take all this shtuff wherever the wind blows you.

In the far corner is the ROOMBA, a self-propelled vacuum. It sneaked into my office one night when a power outage caused it to mix up a.m. and p.m., so I didn't shut the door. From my bed I heard it in the middle of the night, knocking up against the wall, humping table legs, and flinging all the receipts I'd sorted and left on the floor.

Dear IRS,My taxes will be late this year because the ROOMBA mixed my tax receipts with sixty years worth of my in-laws photographs I'd sorted. MIL has dementia and somehow this task has fallen to me. When I say mixed, I meant it shredded them and whipped them all over my house. I refuse to make sense of it. Please put me in debtors (AKA didn't file) prison if there is WiFi and a working printer there.Please.PLEEEEEEZE.

By the time I realized what was going on it was too late. Plus I was too tired to do anything about it. I just laid there and fantasized about flinging that ROOMBA like a frisbee in the morning. It wasn't necessary. It choked to death on that twenty foot mouse cord.

Not death death. Just Disney death.

Inside the office closet are manuals that I paid actual money for, for all my versions of MSWord and various archaic Windows manuals. Mostly I just figure if I can't figure it out by staring, it's not meant to be part of my life. That's how I choose which microwave to purchase and washing machine also.

Don't knock it. With all the time I saved not reading manuals I have figured out how miles work on at least two defunct airlines.

Plus YOUTUBE will tell me all the secrets of the universe. And kittens,

Those noise cancelling headphones don't have a cord anymore. That wasn't the ROOMBA. That was me the first time I used them on the airplane and stood up to go to the ladies room. Yeah, I forgot they were on my head and twisted that cord so hard it bent that metal bit that goes into the outlet. Yanked it clean off. Plus it whipped the cord so hard that it trimmed some hair off the guy in the seat across the aisle from me. Fortunately that was my Dear Hubby so he couldn't sue or anything. He just said, "Are those the ones I just gave you for Christmas?"

My Love Affair with Technology, KarfeltDuh, really? Do you think I go around trashing OLD STUFF? That's the ROOMBA's job.

Seriously though, is it me? Confess. It's good for the soul, not to mention a laugh or two.

And sometimes you have to laugh, or organize. Amiright?

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Effing Teacups

The Glitter Globe/S.R. Karfelt

Assisted living is hosting a picnic and Gummy’s family is coming. It’s a perfect day for it, reminding me of all the huge family reunions and church picnics Gummy has been part of during the years. The staff is taking the memory care patients down to the tents together, but Gummy gets to go down early with her family.

She nearly bounds down the steps, cutting in front of me, her daughter-in-law. She likes taking the stairs instead of the elevator. In the hallways she passes people in wheelchairs or walkers. They’re people who live in regular assisted living, not memory care, senior citizens without memory issues. She’s possibly ten years younger than most of them, and she leaves them in her dust.
          I go to church with all these people.
          You do?
          Yeah, don’t you recognize them?
          They do look familiar.

Today we’ve planned a big surprise for Gummy. For years she collected teacups, hundreds and hundreds of them. Juan managed to get a bunch of them brought here to the shire, along with some of her special teacup shelving, and he and the kids are going to hang them up in her room.

We’re determined to make her comfortable here. It’s a nice place. If you have to be in assisted living with dementia, it’s perfect. Outside there’s a band playing Woody Guthrie songs. It’s Grandparents’ Day and they’ve gone all out. Next to all the tables and tents there are kids playing soccer. There are mountains of good food, including an ice-cream truck. Gummy’s smile grows wider and wider as grandkids appear one by one. She points out familiar faces from the memory care unit, both nurses and patients, and people she recognizes from day club. She tells us she knows them from her church.

This is her element. She eats corn on the cob, chicken, a hotdog, potato salad, watermelon, ice cream, and peanut butter pie. She washes it all down with soda pop. We’re all sufficiently impressed. Throughout the meal she waves at people and makes small talk. The guys sneak away to set up Gummy’s room.

We go for a walk and watch a soccer game. Gummy makes over every little kid and baby. She finds ancient tricycles in the gazebo outside her room and rides one around the courtyard. You heard that right. She's riding a tricycle. 

The guys text us a couple hours later and we take her back to her room. She’s forgotten it and thinks we’re at Burger King.

Shelves and teacups, knickknacks she painted, and favorite pictures from her house now cover her walls. Even her television, with a remote she understands, sets on a stand across from the couch. She stands in the middle of her room and puts her hands on her hips.
          What’s this?
          We decorated your room! Surprise!
          This is my stuff!
          How’d you get my stuff here?
          We brought it to surprise you.
          I’m going to have to take this all when I leave.
          Yep. Don’t worry. We’ll pack it all up for you when you leave.
          Okay. Do you think it’s too much? Do you think people are going to say I have too much nice stuff? I don’t want them to think I’m showing off.
          Oh, I think people are going to like it.
          It is nice.
For a few moments she surveys the room and turns to me.
          Do you see all this stuff?
          Yes, it’s really nice, Gummy.
          I brought this all here and hung it up. It was a lot of work.
          I can see that it sure was.
          It was, but I don’t think it’s too much.
          Neither do I. It’s perfect.
The sweating guys are lying on the sofa laughing.
Life is good. Not easy. But good. 

For the first time I wanted to spank her.
I even asked the nurse for permission.
Are we allowed to spank them?
She winked.
I could look away for a minute.
I think she felt the same way.

Gummy took everything off her walls. I’m talking pictures, sconces, decorations, dozens of teacups and the big heavy rack screwed into the wall. It took the guys hours to put that stuff up. The nurses can’t even figure out how she reached it.
I know how she reached it. She climbed onto the arm of her couch and swung from it like the nimble monkey she is.

Her drawers are a jumble of dirty clothes mixed with clean, with notes, cards, newspapers, pencils, books, teacups, fresh flowers, etc. etc. The place is a wreck.
And she’s ranting. Someone’s coming in taking her pillows—she counts them—moving her stuff, taking her fifty cent school scissors. I didn’t humor her. I counted the pillows with her and confirmed that was the exact number of Target pillows I’d purchased for her. The other stuff? I told her if she’d stop having tantrums and jamming things into pillowcases and drawers, she’d be able to find stuff.
I picked the dirty clothes out, took them to the laundry, and left everything as is. Her move.

She followed me out.
When I get mad I do that.
Hallelujah. I don't know what if anything will come of it, but honesty to oneself must mean something. And I don't blame her for being angry. I do blame her that I have to be the one to put all those flipping teacups back out though. I swear I will never again take the time to match them with the right saucer.
Tonight she can fix them herself. I know her perfectionism won’t allow mismatched teacups and saucers.
Tough love.
Teacup version.
I'm hoping she'll focus on righting her collection instead of packing to leave.

Hope is the thing with feathers, and mismatched teacups.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Sometimes I do the Coolest Stuff

The Glitter Globe/S.R. Karfelt

It's a writer thing. Writing is what I want to credit for getting to do the coolest stuff, but that's not entirely accurate. A good deal of the cool things I've gotten to do are either because of my previous life in the photonics world, or because I have a tendency to say yes to things that scare me.

This time, however, it's all about the writer world. On a recent wintry weekend I drove my time travel Jeep far far away to attend a dragon-infused book release party. 

If you consider how long it takes to write a book, and how long it takes to get it published, you'd probably understand why some book release parties can equal a wedding in enthusiasm and well thought out details. This one was like that.

It started with a grand entrance. Can you believe this gate?  

My Jeep fits right in parked outside this little country estate, built around 1916, doesn't it look like it belongs there?  

There were no other vehicles when I arrived, and after a cautious moment of polite knocking, I barged right in. The place was entirely empty since I was the first to arrive. When things like this happen, I expect grand adventure. I mean, me alone in the big house. What could possibly go wrong? Or right if you're looking at it from a writerly point of view.

First I examined the outside. And then I simply made myself at home. I dragged my suitcase up a flight of old stairs in the grand hallway, and chose a huge bedroom based almost entirely on the fireplace.

Then I explored as many of the other rooms as I could find. There were plenty of hidden rooms and secret passageways. My real life completely evaporated from my mind. I had so many story ideas jostling for space I nearly forgot that I was there for a book release party.

But soon the dragons arrived. As in dragon cake, dragons made of stained glass, and then, Elle Katherine White, author of Heartstone—the book about dragons that I was there to celebrate. This lovely writer did not disappoint. From each bit of food painstakingly crafted from scratch, to her book reading, music, and camaraderie with a crowd of readers, every detail was top notch and well thought out. 

Maybe some women dream of their wedding day, but I'm going to put this right out there in the world. As a writer myself I did not spend years thinking about my wedding. I spent years dreaming up books and far more time thinking about the details of my first book release than I ever did about my wedding. Sorry Dear Hubby. 

No worries. I think he's cool with it. He was partly the inspiration for the hero in that novel anyway. (For the love of light please do not tell him, there would be no living with him!) I invited him to that book release party anyway, so we're all good. 

This was my first DRAGON themed party though, and I hope not the last. I mean, check out this cake! It was chocolate and caramel on the inside. Made from scratch by the author's bestie. Best cake EVER.  

Can you even believe that Elle Katherine White found a venue with stained glass dragons? It has got to be a heck of a lot of work to match your venue to your book!

Here's a peek at the main staircase. There's a nice spot to rest your weary bones after you get your suitcase up to that point.

And what other creative magic did I find? A unicorn. Have you ever seen a stained glass window like this?

Upstairs, past the old servants quarters, is a bowling alley. This is an excellent touch to the mansion of my dreams. 

And wild dreams I did have when we finally stopped talking books and went to sleep that night. How could I not dream of dragons or dragon riders in a place like this? 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Ways to Reduce Stress

S.R. Karfelt, Ways to reduce stress, the glitter globe
The Glitter Globe/S.R. Karfelt

Stress reduction is my superpower. The trick is to think outside the box. Way, way, way outside the box. I’m an introvert. Too much peopling makes me tired. Supposedly extroverts get energy being around other people, but introverts get drained. I find that to be true. But I love people, so I regularly jump into the fray until my life force is drained and I must recharge.

These are some of the things that I do when I just can’t.

Mental health days. I have been known to spend an entire day in my pajamas lying on the floor in front of a space heater. Usually I’m reading, because when you just can’t, it helps to change universes via a book. A movie can work too, but books work better. I don’t know why, but they do.

Media blackout. No news via any medium. Once I went four years in a media blackout. I missed the entire first four years of the Obama administration. True story. I was running a photonics business, writing a novel, and homeschooling. There was no room at the inn for anything else. I told you this was way outside the box. I’m serious. AND ignorance is bliss by the way.

Clean. This is usually my very last resort. I hate cleaning. I’d pretty much rather do anything on the planet other than clean, but when I do it I feel more prepared. Getting rid of piles of junk or messes makes me feel better. Sometimes I’ll just clean one cupboard or my closet. Anything.

Nap. Sleeping helps. I don’t think any of us get enough sleep. Sometimes I go to a monastery and just stay for a couple of days. (You can do that at a Benedictine monastery by the way, the cost is nominal and they’ll even feed you.) The monks have said that when people come for a retreat usually they’ll spend the first day or so just sleeping, then apologize for it. But they say that is what you need and the first step to finding some peace. So sleep. Just check out for a while.

Sleep with your partner. And by sleep I mean don’t sleep. It helps if you can get away for a day or so. That’s ideal because then you’re not looking at your messy house or the to-do list. Sometimes that’s not possible though, so your home might have to suffice. Shut off all the electronics, and the lights too if the mess is making you nuts. Then smooch that face.

Do something nice for someone else. This only works if you do it anonymously. Shovel their driveway. Catch their runaway dog or their garbage can blowing down the street. Let someone else have that great parking spot. It doesn’t have to be big or cost anything. But it feels good when you’re tucking down for bed at night and you can remember that one nice thing you did today. I’ll warn you that this one is contagious. You’ll start looking for opportunities.

Make something. Paint. Draw. Decorate. Write. Create. Whatever gives you satisfaction. Creating something goes a long way toward assuaging stress. Creativity = Purpose = Inner Peace.

Stress reduction, especially emergency stress reduction when you’re at maximum load, seems to me to be different than doing things to cheer yourself up. Things like dancing, retail therapy, or a day out with friends. Those things can cheer you up, but I’m talking metal-on-metal, bone-on-bone stress, and genuine ways to recharge when your batteries are completely drained.

Leave a comment if I missed any!

Friday, January 27, 2017

In Which I Publicly Discuss Books I Plan to Release This Year

This isn't something I normally do. I prefer to quietly leave my books in the world, and get back to writing the next one. But it's the middle of the night, and this reveal suddenly seems like a good idea. Let's hope my muse and the real world cooperate with me. Like that has EVER happened. But infinite universe and all of that.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

All The Books Releasing Today That I've Already Bought

The Glitter Globe, S.R. Karfelt, Karfelt,
The Glitter Globe/S.R. Karfelt

A stolen crown. An unbreakable friendship. One big mess in the making.

When Princess Cecily Degalt travels south to wed a prince she's never met, she's ushered into a strange new world alongside her best friend and bodyguard, Rory Castille. With an MIA fiancé, his handsome twin brother, and a kidnapping gone wrong, life in Myrzel isn't quite what Cecily expected.

Rory will do anything to keep Cecily from harm--but when Rory's darkest secret comes between her and Cecily, the greatest danger to the princess might be Rory herself.

Torn apart for the first time, each girl will have to think like the other as she faces not only the darkness of Fangralee Forest, but a dangerous enemy closer to home.

A Stolen Crown is the second novel in the Stolen Royals series - a tale of magic, intrigue, and the power of true friendship.

A debut historical fantasy that recasts Jane Austen’s beloved Pride & Prejudice in an imaginative world of wyverns, dragons, and the warriors who fight alongside them against the monsters that threaten the kingdom: gryphons, direwolves, lamias, banshees, and lindworms.
They say a Rider in possession of a good blade must be in want of a monster to slay—and Merybourne Manor has plenty of monsters.
Passionate, headstrong Aliza Bentaine knows this all too well; she’s already lost one sister to the invading gryphons. So when Lord Merybourne hires a band of Riders to hunt down the horde, Aliza is relieved her home will soon be safe again.
Her relief is short-lived. With the arrival of the haughty and handsome dragonrider, Alastair Daired, Aliza expects a battle; what she doesn’t expect is a romantic clash of wills, pitting words and wit against the pride of an ancient house. Nor does she anticipate the mystery that follows them from Merybourne Manor, its roots running deep as the foundations of the kingdom itself, where something old and dreadful slumbers . . . something far more sinister than gryphons.
It’s a war Aliza is ill-prepared to wage, on a battlefield she’s never known before: one spanning kingdoms, class lines, and the curious nature of her own heart.
Elle Katharine White infuses elements of Austen’s beloved novel with her own brand of magic, crafting a modern epic fantasy that conjures a familiar yet wondrously unique new world.

But can she find her identity in the light
Before she perishes in the dark?

Twenty years have passed since Carrington and Remko Brant’s baby, Elise, was kidnapped and they were forced to leave her captive in the Authority City. Though they fled with the Seers far from Authority reach, they’ve never given up hope of rescuing their daughter from the man who betrayed them. Now Authority President, he’s ushered the city into a new era of “peace”―one where the Scientist Roth Reynard’s Genesis Serum has eradicated all memory of emotion or rebellion.

But the mysterious Aaron and his Seers are once again on the move, threatening the illusion the Authority has worked so hard to build. As the Seers send seven chosen warriors to rescue Elise and bring restoration to the Authority City, the lines are drawn for a final battle between light and darkness. The key to ultimate victory may rest within the strangely powerful girl who has felt forgotten but was never abandoned―a truth she’ll need to wage war against the powerful forces of evil.