Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Transferring Mothers and Squirrels

May 12, 09

I was able to make a brief run down to the Lower Peninsula of Michigan to see my Mom for Mother's Day. She can no longer bear weight on her legs and is wheelchair bound, but is able to transfer to a car. So we spent time going out and about to restaurants, nurseries for flowers to decorate my Dad's grave site, and just touring the area. We ended up doing a lot of transferring.

To get into and out of the car, and for transfers to and from bed, because she cannot be lifted, Mom uses a transfer board. This is simply a hefty piece of hardwood about two feet long and six inches wide that is slightly tapered at the ends. It is delicately slid under the bum of the transferee and serves as a bridge along which the transferee slides along to the destination site.
One would not think that this simple device could be the source of much controversy, but I found myself smack in the middle of a major dispute. At first I just slid the transfer board under Mom not paying much attention to which end of the board went where. I must have done it "right" a few times before I took notice of the handy grab hole conveniently cut into one end. Then I started putting that end under Mom first so that after she slid across it, I could wrap my fingers through the hole and pull it out easily. Mom, however, thought differently. For some reason, she was deathly afraid of either becoming hopelessly snagged in that hole, or maybe even falling straight through it. She has never been a gambler and didn't realize that the odds against either one of those things ever happening were zilch. So I appeased her for a while, but then thought, this is stupid. I'm doing it my way. Grumble. Sniff. I can deal with it.

That night, I was staying at my brother's place and happend to mention the day's issue of contention as we were sitting around the kitchen table. My brother's wife, who normally takes on the responsibility of driving my Mom hither and thither, just laughed. She has had the same debate and has dealt with it in an identical manner.

My brother, who is a wood carver in his "spare" time has a shop full of very sharp tools and suggested that he could just cut another hole in the other end of the board. That would not only put an end to the controversy, but also give my Mom twice as much to worry about. Sounded like a good plan to me. "Yeah, I'll have to do it when I get around to thinking about it," he said. For some reason, his wife just rolled her eyes.

In the meantime, I was glancing out the kitchen window into their beautiful back yard with its deer wandering through and bird feeders hanging from tree branches. Then I noticed some mighty fat squirrels sitting in the trees contemplating whether they really wanted to attempt the acrobatics required to get to some of the seed. "That's odd," I thought. "I've never known squirrels to be hesitant before." They also seemed to be casting a wary eye toward the house.

Just then, I looked down at the floor by the bottom of the patio door and noticed in its well worn original box a genuine Wrist Rocket sling shot. "Wow, Gary. That's neat. I've always wanted one of those."

"Oh, that's not mine. It's hers."

Apparently Karen loads up the ammo pouch on the sling with an ice cube from her ice maker every time she spots a squirrel raiding the bird feeders.

"Yeah. Fortunately I'm a lousy shot and have never hit one, but when the cube goes whizzing past them, and especially if it shatters against a tree trunk, it really sends them scampering. Plus, we don't have to worry about the lawn mower picking up stones and hurling them against the house."

Well, that's interesting.

Next, the conversation turned to wood carving. I told my brother that the one thing that I'd like him to show me is how he sharpens his carving tools. So we disappeared down into his shop for a while, and I came back up with a leather stropping board that he had made and gave me as a gift.

We then sat back down around the kitchen table again, and I commented on what a nice setup he had down there.

"I like it. The next thing I need, though is a surface planer and a dust collection system."

That got a rise out of his wife. "Mister, you need to learn the difference between wants and needs. You don't need a surface planer, and I thought that all of your tools were dust collectors."

Now that's just cold. I swung around, casually picked up the sling shot and asked Gary if he needed some ice.

(P.S.: That wonderful photo of the squirrel was pulled off the internet some time ago. I tried finding it again so that I could give proper credit, but couldn't. My apologies to the original photographer. Let me know if you know the source so that I can give credit where credit is due.)


  1. Hello there! I saw a new face on the followers button and thought I would stop by and say "hi."

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your trip and to MI, and about your banter with your brother and SIL. Hilarious!

    Sling shots and ice cubes? That could be a deadly combination around here. LOL!!! My son has a bow and arrow, and he also has a fairly accurate eye-he gets that from me (just kidding!).

  2. And I thought this was your resident squirrel, and I was going to ask you what you feed those guys in Wisconsin. Our squirrels are much smaller, but always intent to get what they can out of the bird feeders.

    I noticed your weather. Oh my. 78 degr., full sunshine and blue sky is forecast for the next few days here. And everyone thinks it is always raining in Oregon.

    I enjoyed reading your family 'adventures'.

  3. Your conversations are quite amusing. I'm surprised your brother didn't take you up on that offer to shoot ice. Of course, there would have been consequences! :) Nice that you got to spend some time with your mother (even with all the transferring!).

  4. My mom would get so frustrated at the squirrels that my dad trapped them and let them go miles away from the house only for them to return. Yes we knew they were the same critters because he sprayed their tails red. oh I love the little goat. it brings back memories of when I would feed ours with a baby bottle.

  5. Excellent post! I felt as I was right there eavesdropping on the conversation. How kind of you, too, to spend time and patience with your mother.

  6. As my grandmother's legal guardian I can so relate to the whole transfer board thing. Sometimes all you can do is humor them. :)

  7. Hi there, first time here. Stopped by to say "hi" and just wanted to say that I thouroughly enjoyed reading your story about family. It always amazes me just how similar family conversations and banter can be. My mom and dad have both passed away, and I can relate to your stories of caretaking. There are many challenges and rewards in doing so. Glad you're getting to spend quality time with your mom. Patience is always a challenge, at least it was for me. Wish I could go back and spend some time with them once again. Enjoy!
    Thanks so much for visiting my blog!

  8. Hi there Graig, nice to meet you.

    Your writing is very entertaining and seems so homey, conversational.

    I also loved the sling shot/ice cube :)

  9. The ice cube deal is pretty much genius...I'm just sayin'....

  10. What a great idea using ice cubes....ours get old sitting in the fridge and taste kinda stale. Now I know what to do with them!

  11. Hi, thanks for signing up to follow my blog. Your post above was a fun read.