torrential November rains
Monday, November 30 2020
This morning Gretchen and I had a phone chat with a helpful social worker named Karen specializing in the needs of the elderly based near Staunton, Virginia. The topic of this call was, as you probably have guessed, was my increasingly-senile mother. I laid all out: my mother, who is approaching 84 years of age, hasn't been in touch with me for seven years, living in two houses in Augusta County with her psychologically-disabled son, who is now in his 50s. She's been suffering from hallucinations, kidney & heart problems, considers herself "blind," and yet she continues to drive a car (and she recently had an accident). I added that she is independent-minded and cantankerous and has alienated most of her social network (including me). Gretchen chimed in that my mother is unlikely to fair well in any other place than the place she is living now. Karen was taken aback all these troubling issues concentrated in one case. She wondered how someone could have come to be like this. Was she a member of some strange religion? "No, she's a committed atheist," Gretchen explained, perhaps overstating the extent to which my mother has actually thought about the possible existence of a deity. We went on to explain how my bother Don is probably a major asset in the household, and that the two have probably come to depend on their respective strengths. My mother can still legally drive and probably knows how to write checks and use a credit card, while Don has short term memory and can tell my mother when the things she thinks she's seeing aren't actually there. Don also has the advantage of not having antagonized all the people my mother has, though he is nevertheless indoctrinated in her worldview. Karen said she would try to call my mother to check on her, and if in three days she couldn't reach her, she'd send adult protective services out. We were worried this might result in some sort of crisis that would throw their lives into unnecessary turmoil, but according to Karen, adult protective services only take such measures if there is a real imminent danger, such as someone using gasoline as a heating fuel.
That conversation made both of us feel better. Karen sounded competent and empathetic, and she really seemed to get the scope of the problem. She also said there were plenty of programs my mother could take advantage of to keep living where she was, programs such as Meals on Wheels and various grocery delivery services.
Later in the day, my cousin Dierdre called to say she'd talked with my mother earlier today. Dierdre had placed a call and my mother had actually answered her phone. Supposedly the phone is now "fixed" and she will be answering it. Dierdre had mostly called on the pretense of asking about how to make mead, something one of her friends is interested in and that my mother used to do years ago. According to Dierdre, the conversation had been completely lucid, and my mother had demonstrated solid long-term memory. She also indicated that she was aware that people were concerned about her, perhaps because Karen had called her. She insisted to Dierdre that there was no need to worry. I think we'll still keep worrying anyway.
It rained all day, with increasingly torrential downpours and occasional gusts of strong winds. I tried to take a bath this evening during one such hurricane-like episode and had to abandon it because I felt like I needed to be up and about in case a door flew open or the roof got ripped off.
I went down to the basement to check to see if a kind of flooding that only happens during such strong rains was taking place. What happens is that groundwater rises up in or around the well at the level of the conduit carrying electricity to the pump. Eventually this water gets into that conduit and flows down to the basement and ends draining onto the boiler room floor near the well pressure switch. Conditions extreme enough to produce such a flood happen only once every two years or so. But since the last time this had happened, I'd made a few alterations to the boiler room specifically addressing this problem. I'd cut a two-inch hole through the slab to the gravel layer beneath it, making a dry well for condensation for the heatpump-based hotwater heater. I'd located this dry well near the source of much of the flooding, and today it seemed to be taking care of the water fast enough for it not to accumulate. I'd also plugged the conduit so the leak would no longer happen inside the well pressure switch (which tended to corrode it). I'd also drilled a hole in the conduit so it would drain in a more convenient location, though I saw it was also leaking from another joint the conduit in a less-accessible place behind the well pressure tank.
I managed to finish adding greenery to the painting of the elephants today, and Gretchen seemed delighted with the results. That was the last of the three paintings, all of which were due tomorrow.
The mouse painting.
The fish painting.
The elephants as they looked yesterday morning.
The elephants as they looked this evening.
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