Sunday, July 31, 2005

Pets...and my brother.

This is Happy, our Doomed Dog. Poor Happy is scheduled to be euthanized in the next few days...I know he will feel much better once it's over, and to tell the truth, I'm not as close to him as my parents and brother are, but I well up with tears whenever I think about it! Farewell, old buddy!

I did not mean to sandwich my brother in with the pets, but it takes forever to upload these pics and I'm not redoing it! He's such a goof anyways!

This is Pickles, the obese cat. She was embarrassed to have her picture taken and wouldn't let me photograph her face, but I caught her while she was scratching herself. She wasn't always this fat, but she spent an entire winter starving in the woods because she hated my brother's dog and wouldn't come near the house. Once the dog left, she came back - malnourished and missing the tips of her ears from frostbite. Now she doesn't know when to stop eating. Check out the fat roll.

Page and I argue about whose cat she is - but, come on, anybody that knows me knows that only I would name a cat "Pickles". Right?

A weekend in Montello...

Community theater rocks! My late-great-favorite teacher, Sam Maasz, helped to start the Montello Community Theater, and I wish I still lived in Montello so that I could participate! My dad and sister both starred in this year's production of "The Three Musketeers, All Swash and No Buckle". They both had pretty big parts, and did a great job!

My dad was cast as a drunk Muskateer. Strangely, this is the second year in a row that he's been cast as a drunk! It's definitely not type-casting, since my dad was completely absitinent from alcohol for most of my life. He's loosened up a little now, and will have a beer now and then, but I've definitely never seen him drunk. It was totally hilarious to see him stumbling around the stage. Isaac just about fell out of his chair, he was laughing so hard!

Page was the "Fair Maiden" - Constance. She is so pretty! I'm jealous that she gets to do this with our dad!

This is my grandma, who usually goes to bed by 7 p.m., but wanted to see the play so bad that she sayed out until a scandalous 10:00! She didn't have her hearing aid with her, though, so I don't know how much she heard. It was visually interesting anyway! Isn't my dad cute? He is wearing lipstick!

Here's the gang...from Left to Right...Page, Isaac, my brother Rob, my grandma Lila, Moi, my mom Julie, and my dad Paul. Masud was at home watching the SciFi channel.

My dad is so order to look the part, he actually grew out his mustache and then shaped it to curl up on the sides, and then shaped his goatee into a Muskateer-esque style. Rumor has it he plans to shave his 'stache after the play is over - and I've never seen him with a naked lip!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Isaac totally kicked that punching bag's butt today. Isn't he cute in his little outfit?

Isaac always picks his friend Jordan to practice self defense moves with. She's already got an orange belt - and she's one of two girls in his "Little Hwarang" class. She has a mean round kick, too!

Monday, July 25, 2005

How about a list to keep things tidy?

I am feeling particularily good today because I was really PRODUCTIVE. Here is my list.

1) Got up at 6:30 a.m. to make breakfast for Masud. Tried to make "Jilapi", my favorite Bangladeshi sweet, but it was a dismal failure. Masud and I both had diarrhea after eating two pieces each.

2) Decided to vacuum. This entailed picking up all the junk that was on the floor and finding a place for it, moving furniture, and organizing. Only then was the floor accessible.

3) Before I vacuumed, I dusted, and then wiped everything down with an all-purpose cleaner, because the dust didn't come off with a dry rag. Ewww.

4) After vacuuming, I realized I needed to mop, too. Then I figured I might as well clean the toilets and sinks, too.

5) Made lunch and supper - Bengali food. It's been almost two months and I'm finally hungry for it again!

6) Did some online job searching, filled out a State of Minnesota job application, and cut out some classified ads that I will apply to this week.

7) Made up a "menu plan" for this week, and did the corresponding grocery list.

8) Kicked back, relaxed, and enjoyed two episodes from season 3 of "Sex and the City" - completely guilt-free because I worked my butt off all day and I deserved it!

9) To finish off my day, I am looking at potential graduate schools online.

Whew! That was a lot of work! No wonder my pits smell.

Friday, July 22, 2005

July is hot.

I am surfacing from my Harry Potter induced fog. The only free time I have to read is after everyone else is asleep, so I have been staying up reading, and finally finished book number six two nights ago. Then I needed a day to mourn the awful ending. Poor Harry, I wonder if he'll ever defeat Lord Voldemort and live in peace. I know these are kids books, but I wish all books were that enjoyable to read.

In other news, I still don't have a job. I am looking, though. There are some nice ones available but they would require a two hour commute. I'm not quite that desperate yet.

Our landlords are residing the house, and we're getting some insulation. That should help with the exorbitant gas bills in the winter, and the house will look really good once it's sided. I love the place, but it is kindof falling apart. If I had money I'd fix it up, just because it deserves it. I might try to get the kitchen floor fixed this fall. It's gross.

Today I'm going to tackle the upstairs "storage" room that I've been throwing random crap into since I got home. It's a nightmare. I better get started before it gets too hot upstairs to work. Sigh.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Pictures have arrived!

I finally got my new digital camera up and running, and with Blogger's new picture posting format, I can now post pictures within my text. Pretty rad.

This is my Grandma Hatch and my mom - we had a little ceremony to celebrate the life of my uncle Dave, who passed away a few weeks ago from lung cancer. My grandma has now had to go through the deaths of her husband and two of her children. She is a very strong woman.


One of the hardest things about coming home after a long time away is that things change. It’s almost as if I expect things to remain exactly as they had been when I left – which is ridiculous, I know – but change is hard for me to handle. Ten months is the longest I’ve ever been away. Up until now, the major changes I noticed were things like new wall colors and rearranged furniture. This time, though, it’s the people that have changed. Most of the changes were good, and it made me happy to see my family in such a good place. My mom has improved her lifestyle and is healthier and in better shape that I’ve ever seen her. My dad started a business and is happy (although overworked) with his success. My brother and I are working on having a closer sibling relationship, and my sister has really grown up. These were all nice things, and I was pleasantly surprised by the positive changes that happened while I was away. But not everything is positive.

By far the hardest thing for me to deal with is the changes in my three elderly grandparents. My maternal grandmother needed to move to a nursing home after breaking her leg. She just never quite recovered and my mom realized that she needed 24 hour supervision in order to stay home. Grandma has trouble remembering things and there were several “memory lapse” instances where the stove was involved. Mom made the difficult decision to have grandma move into a really nice senior living home called “Martha’s”. Grandma has a beautiful room and a nice big bathroom all to herself. The cat at Martha’s has adopted my grandma, and it seems like she has everything she needs. But it’s obvious that she’s extremely unhappy there. I think it’s the social aspect – she has to have breakfast with strangers, there are always voices and commotion created by other residents, and grandma has to put up with random intrusions. Mom is having a hard time with it, too. Even though it’s logically the best place for grandma to be, I know mom struggles with leaving grandma there. She always used to say she’d never make grandma go to a “home”, but it’s really difficult to take care of grandma and mom has to work. It became necessary for grandma's safety, and I think mom made the right choice. She still visits grandma every day, even though she's so extremely busy.

My paternal grandparents are still living independently, or more precisely, interdependently. My grandpa can’t seem to remember things anymore – from taking his pills to eating breakfast – and my grandma thrives on bossing people around, so it’s a match made in heaven. But last week my grandma had a bad reaction to some antibiotics and got really sick. She was discovered lying in bed by one of her friends. My dad checks up on them twice a week, but she had been in a bad way for a few days. She was severely dehydrated and needed to spend four days in the hospital, getting fluids and antibiotics. My grandpa, in the mean time, was completely lost without her. The whole fiasco was really hard on my dad, who had to go into town every morning at 4:30 a.m. (my grandpa was a farmer and that’s when he gets up!) and make sure that grandpa had eaten breakfast and was okay for the day. Apparently, however, grandpa forgot to take his heart medicine all week. Dad didn’t really know how bad my grandpa was, and my grandma got pretty ornery with my dad when he tried to help. If there’s one thing she can’t stand, it’s feeling helpless!

There is such a huge difference with how people deal with old age, sickness and death in this country vs. Bangladesh. Here, we value independence so much that it’s extremely painful for us to lose it. It’s hard for us to take care of our elderly parents for the same reason – it’s a boundary that we have to cross in order to survive. In Bangladesh, however, elderly people seem to have few qualms about depending on their children, because the entire purpose of procreating (over and over and over) is to have a caregiver in old age. Call it biological social security.

Old age is all around me here. It’s not only my grandparents; the dog and cat are on their last legs as well. Happy the dog has heart disease and crippling arthritis. He lies around all day gasping for breath. I’m pretty sure mom and dad will need to euthanize him pretty soon. Pickles the cat is a huge ball of obesity. Her ears are half gone from frostbite – a few winters ago she refused to come near the house for some reason. She must be over 12 years old and probably won’t be around much longer till she goes to that catnip field in the sky.

I’d like to say that being around all of this inevitable death has made me think about the importance of living a good life and appreciating the moment, but the truth is all it’s done is make me sad. I will miss my grandparents (and my pets) when they are gone. I know that some day I’ll have to deal with my own parents going through this same process, and eventually, I’ll be the one who doesn’t want to give up my own independence to rely on my son. Yes, it’s a natural process, but it’s so hard to deal with. My dad says that he’s come to a place where he can really grasp the finite nature of our time on the earth and he sees time in terms of eternity. I hope that I can revive my once strong believe in the after life so that I can come to terms with the grief that inevitable loss brings. Is the afterlife something that human beings created in order to deal with the pain of losing loved ones, or is there really a chance that I will see everyone again once we are all gone? I have to believe it.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Fireworks are stupid.

I'm sure we Americans waste a ton of money on them. Some genius in Mankato lit some illegal fireworks in his basement and blew off a couple of fingers and blinded himself. I read somewhere that sparklers burn at 1000 degrees Farenheit...and we give them to three year olds and let them wave them around near their face. Good idea.
I did enjoy watching them burn up thousands of dollars in Mankato last night, though. As I got eaten alive sitting in our friends driveway, I watched the fireworks display and thought about how much I like the Fourth of July. It's a fun holiday, at a good time of year. It's usually not too hot, but warm enough to enjoy the great outdoors. We tried to have a little get together, but only 8 out of 25 invitees could make it. I spent all day making hamburgers that I wouldn't eat and then we ended up sending most of the leftovers home with Rob when he left. Sheesh. It was nice with the 8 people that came, anyways. My brother Rob took pictures on his super-expensive camera, and if he ever emails them to me, I'll post them. My old camera is doing development work at Nari Jibon, and my new one is already in the shop for repairs.
And now for some entertainment. I am wading through the thousands (seriously) of emails in my hotmail account. I didn't check it while I was in b-desh because for some reason it took centuries to download over there. I found a really funny one from my friend Nipa that I wanted to share...
A worldwide survey was conducted by the UN. The only question asked was: "Would you please give your honest opinion about solutions to the food shortage in the rest of the world?"
The survey was a huge failure, In Africa they didn't know what 'food' meant, In Bangladesh they didn't know what 'honest' meant, In Europe they didn't know what 'shortage' meant, In China they didn't know what 'opinion' meant, In the Middle East they didn't know what 'solution' meant, In South America they didn't know what 'please' meant, And in the USA they didn't know what 'the rest of the world' meant!

I giggled and thought you might too.