Hike: Relationship Building Activities

This is the end of the first week of A to Z Challenge 2022. I have been completing posts A through H while on a trip and that has made it more of a challenge than other years. I have had to keep it very simple, knowing that it doesn’t compare to some of the other great blogs I’ve been reading. It is still fun to put it together and share. Hope you are enjoying the read.

Having always been a walker, but mostly for the purpose of getting from point A to point Z, hiking was not really a “thing” in life until 2000. That was the year we hosted an exchange student from Sardinia for her last year of high school in the U.S. Having mastered her English enough to graduate, Maura was all set to go to Cancun with a number of classmates to celebrate. I wasn’t very comfortable with that. There were horror stories of young girls disappearing from the beach and never being seen again. I said no.

I had to come up with an alternative activity. I can’t remember why hiking the Appalachian Trail sounded like a reasonable project. Maybe I already had it on my list. At any rate, we put together a small band of adventurers including my daughters and one of their friends, five of us. None with hiking experience.

We survived and we bonded, as often happens with challenging experiences. We got blisters, sore backs, got thirsty, hungry and sleep deprived. Sounds like fun doesn’t it?

While it is comforting to young people to know that their elders are capable and resourceful, it only adds to the depth of a relationship to find out that they are not always that. I think it may have been one of the first times that I was the weak one, needing to be rescued from dehydration and lifted to the next camp via truck. Those girls hiked, by themselves, the twelve miles that day and arrived in camp in record time.

It was a successful hike overall and we had great satisfaction in getting to our car on the fifth day, somewhat more experienced as hikers. Olive Garden fresh salad, bread and Alfredo sauce never tasted as good as it did on that trip home.

Seriously, we were blessed to have made it out alive.

Since that time, hiking has been a passion for me, and it is always better with a daughter or a family member. There are so many good shared moments walking through nature, talking about what we see, making camp, and dividing up chores. We see how we behave when we have less convenience and less distraction. It is getting to know each other in a unique way.

To me, hiking is a special kind of walking, in a particular planned area just for the intent of seeing what’s there and spending time with companions. It can be an hour long, or a week long – distance is not the issue, purpose is. In the last 20 years my girls and I have made lots of memories and seen some amazing places. It has been an important factor in the relationships we have with each other.

Find a friend or family member who you want to get to know better, plan a hike, and get walking!

Springer Mountain. We were there.

A to Z Challenge: Letter H for Hygiene

Good hygiene is important and needs to be addressed. I started thinking about this back on letter B when talking about bodily care and the work involved in having good hygiene. But there is an additional issue or problem that I have noticed with almost every person I’ve helped. It’s not just having good hygiene, it’s convincing them that they need to have it.

All that showering, brushing and grooming is work and people often don’t care. Some are vehemently opposed. Who would think? But those basics of hygiene, if built into a routine, will keep your person healthier, and prevent problems. You can keep them simple.

For instance, elderly people don’t need to shower every day, or even every other day. They aren’t working up a sweat usually, they aren’t playing in the dirt (are they?). Their naturally drier skin doesn’t need frequent soaping, and as Mom’s doctor tells her, soap is only needed on the places that smell. I’ll let you figure out which four places those are.

Sadly, people with dementia often don’t remember those routines that they have followed all their life. As a caretaker, you become a coach – helping them know when something is needed and what the steps are in accomplishing it. Something as basic as toileting can be suddenly confusing. Accidents can occur simply because they don’t remember what to do first, second, third, etc…

My aunt would sometimes stand at the bathroom counter and ask me “why am I in here?” I would remind her “You are here to brush your teeth. Take that brush and I’ll help you put toothpaste on it.” It’s much easier for me to be patient and helpful when I know there is a real reason for the forgetfulness.

I also don’t like to ask my elders to make too many decisions. I suggest as though it has already been decided. If it needs to be done, I don’t ask them if they want to do it.

“It’s been a few days since you showered. Let’s get it done today.”

“Something got spilled on your shirt. Here’s a clean one to put on.”

“Here’s a washcloth so you can clean your face.”

I like to give grace to the elderly and others who aren’t perfectly groomed because I know that some things are superficial and not worth mentioning if it will embarrass them. That is, if I am not their caregiver. If I am their caregiver I have to help them avoid embarrassment by telling them what they would want to know.

This was hard for me at first, but I got over it. If I know the husband can’t see well and wouldn’t want to go out with spaghetti sauce in his mustache, I need to tell him it’s there. If my uncle has two inch long eyebrow hair, I need to offer to trim for him. (I mean, if it’s on purpose, he can still say no…).

You might think you can’t wash and set a woman’s hair, or shave a man’s face but any caretaker can learn those things to some degree. Even if they aren’t done perfectly, it’s better than not having them done at all. Even if they protest at first, most people are ultimately thankful for the care.

Don’t we all want to be?

A to Z: Selling Our House (Letter H)

This was written ahead, but yesterday was way too full to even sit down and post it. The painter is coming and I only had a partial day to clean before him. We  don’t want to paint over dirt (anymore). 

H for Handyman

The handyman list was the longest.

There are very few houses that would not benefit from the services of a handyman. The name is so apt. Any smart homeowner should know at least two of them. Over the years we have not always fixed things that were not crucial to daily operations. Now that we are getting ready to sell, we have a lot of catching up to do.

After the home inspection, I ended up with several to-do lists. One of them was for the handyman. The realtor gave me the name of one that he trusted, but this man was booked up for weeks. That’s why I’m saying that you need to know of more than one.

I, fortunately, have a realtor who has done time as a contractor/handyman. And because he like to gets houses on the market as soon as possible, he sometimes steps down and grabs his tools again. I also know a multi-talented Hispanic friend, Joe, who does work for me when he’s not doing cement contracting. On day one of tackling the list,  Joe was working with the caulk gun when Tory, the realtor, showed up. To my surprise, a few seconds later they were chattering away in Spanish and had several list items all figured out. Teamwork is sweet.

Joe often stores his ladders and ropes at our house, probably because our house always needs pressure washing and those are necessary tools. Joe is very good at yard work too. I can ask him to make it look nice, and he figures out how. After seeing “the list” he got busy and worked on places where the siding was loose and where caulking was needed. He cleaned all the gutters and downspouts. A week later Tory spent a whole day doing finishing carpentry and replacing small areas of bad wood. He removed the barrier fence around the second story patio that was going to be re-roofed. These guys have tools and know how to use them. It’s a beautiful thing to see.

What I appreciate about Joe is that if something is broken, he will always try to fix it. He has an optimism and a curiosity about how things work and he is sure he can make that broken thing work fine again. I take advantage of that and give him my broken appliances just for the relief of having them off the premises. Today he took a washer and a stove. Made a nice big empty spot in our garage.

I am a handy woman, and although I’m not quite as handy as a handyman, I got a lot done yesterday. My favorite tool is a drill. My favorite thing to do with it is remove screws. All of our kitchen cabinet fronts are getting painted white so all the doors, had to be removed and the hardware completely taken off – several hundred screws I would say. And then I had to scrub them all. The whir of the drill and the aroma of bleach… handywoman ambiance.

This is not the first time I’ve been photographed with a drill in my hand.

Do you have a handyman? You should. Get one before you have a crisis. Just sayin’…