valium and screwdrivers
Wednesday, August 17 2011
location: Creekside doublewide, Stingy Hollow Road, five miles south of Staunton, rural Augusta County, Virginia
This morning Gretchen and I managed to overcome my mother's seemingly-exaggerated concerns about potential violence between our dogs and her dog Maple and took them all for a walk out to the back pasture of Muellers' Mountain, going nearly as far southwest as the fencelines allow and then coming back lower on the slope, past gulleys that had been filled with junk sometime before 1976 and since grown over in reasonably-mature forest. The dogs, by the way, all got along perfectly fine.
Back at the doublewide, my brother Don was rendering the common space unpleasant by watching a particularly violent cinematic recreation of the seige of Stalingrad. I asked him to turn it off at some point and he ordered me to "shut up," so perhaps the maturity he'd been impressing me with is patchy in its development. One can't expect a brother to ever be a perfect host, even in fully-functional families, but his insistance on watching a bloody war movie is just one of many things that makes it impossible not see he is and does through the prism of his mental illness, which has gone untreated for over 25 years.
Gretchen and I had lunch again in our favorite booth at Baja Bean, and we ordered precisely what we had the time before, though this time we also ordered jalapeño fries, that is, french fries sprinkled liberally with batter-fried slices of jalapeños. They were so good I'm not even going to bother describing how. But come on, you can imagine, can't you?
For a drink, I ordered a Union Jack IPA, which proved an unexpected delight, tasting precisely the way I want an IPA to taste: like grapefruit juice. At first I thought maybe Union Jack is a genuine English bitter (they don't use the term "IPA" in the UK), but then I saw on its label that it is bottled in California. The West Coast is really where it's at when it comes to IPAs, but I'm really impressed with the IPA options that Staunton has on offer purely via the curators working at its restaurants.
Yesterday evening my father had been moved from the hospital in Fishersville to the nursing home occupying the old King's Daughters Hospital in Staunton. It's not far north of downtown, so it was our next destination after all our internet activity had been concluded at the Baja Bean. This also gave me an opportunity to show Gretchen more of Staunton's urban core, to show that it was considerably bigger than, say, Rosendale (its population is actually about the same as that of Kingston, NY, though Staunton is a growing city and Kingston has experienced rustbelt decline and depopulation). Gretchen was impressed by the quality of the houses along North Augusta Street, many of which are built in the southern vernacular. (Much of the city is Victorian in vintage, surrounded by an asteroid belt of particleboard crap from the mid-1990s.
My father was in isolation at King's Daughters, but the rules were a bit more relaxed than they'd been at the hospital, and we didn't have to suit up to visit with him. My mother (Hoagie) showed up while we were there and immediately picked an unnecessary fight with the staff by commenting on the feces contaminating the water of some caged birds in the family room. She's already under threat by these people of having adult protective services sicked on her, so my advice has been to kill them with kindness. That's generally been Gretchen's approach, and it's been interesting to watch the differences in their respective techniques when it comes to interacting with staff.
I found MSNBC for my father on the room's television (channel 54, as it had been in Fishersville), and I did my best to back up Hoagie on the need for him to get that back surgery and prepare to resume life outside of nursing homes.
Back at the house as I prepared for another round of pool cleaning, I was turned on to the idea of recreational valium. I took one to see if it might be recreational, but unfortunately it proved a disappointment. I never developed a sense of well being or even a tingle. I felt a little sleepy, and eventually I began my usual evening program of recreational/therapeutic alcohol consumption. Dealing with my brother and mother in the doublewide at the end of a day requires chemical assistance in one form or another.
Gretchen made a Thai noodle dish for dinner tonight. It wasn't Don's kind of food, and he never materialized, but Hoagie and I enjoyed it.
Later, after having gone to see a live production at the Black Friar's Theatre in downtown Staunton, Gretchen returned and started up a DVD of the movie Sex Drive, which proved much more continuously hilarious than I'd remembered it. At some point though, somewhere soon after the sojourn in Amish country, I passed out. I know that valium and screwdrivers are not to mixed, so don't bother writing to tell me.
Don today in the doublewide.
Gretchen today in the King's Daughters family room, which had an internet-equipped computer as well as a large bird cage full of Zebra Finches and canaries.
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