Thursday, June 14, 2012

Topsy-turvy week

by Julie Hyzy

My mother-in-law is staying with us while my husband's sister takes a well-deserved vacation -- and that has rendered my world topsy turvy. The idea of a mother-in-law coming to live with her daughter-in-law for ten days conjures up certain images, doesn't it? The evil eye, sharp criticisms, snide remarks. Well, there's none of that going on here. My 90 year old mother-in-law is sweet-natured and very easy to get along with. She used to be a little more strongly opinionated, but always pleasant. No complaints there. As mothers-in-law go, I got lucky.

But... beginning last week Thursday and running through Father's Day, she's living here and let me tell you -- she's none too happy about it. Being in a house that isn't hers causes her to be a bit disoriented from time to time and she constantly asks when we're going to take her home. As much as we would love for her to be able to stay in her own house this week -- with us stopping by every night with dinner or something -- she's been known to lose track of the days of the week and sets off for the senior center or church on days when there's no mass, or no senior events. She grabs her cane and heads out the door, walking to these places that are each about a half mile away. Neighbors have rescued her and brought her home, and my sister-in-law has caught her as she's been preparing to leave. We can't let her stay home these days. Not by herself.

So, she's here. And as I said, she's a wonderful person, very easy to get along with. So why is my life all topsy turvy? Couple of reasons, the number one being stairs. We have two long flights of stairs in our house. We can close the door to the ones to the basement, but the ones that lead up to the bedrooms are wide open and a necessary evil. Fortunately, my mother-in-law only needs to climb them once each day when it's time for bed, and descend once each day in the morning. But... it's still a major worry. She gets up several times during the night, and although we've put bells on her doorknob to wake us when she emerges from the room, and we even picked up a baby monitor at a garage sale so that we hear the bells even better now (we slept through them a couple of times), we're concerned that she'll take a wrong turn from the bathroom and topple down the stairs. Yikes.

Needless to say, our sleep patterns are a bit off. That's not that big of a deal. What is a big deal, at least for me, is that I can't write in my "cave" because that's on the first floor and I can't hear her when she gets up, even with the bells. She sleeps late - until about eleven - and I would love to be writing in the cave until then, but I can't risk not hearing her get up. Our house isn't nearly as big as that makes it sound. It's just the configuration. So this week I'm on my laptop (right now, in fact), but I don't find it as easy to write on this machine as I do on my desktop. It's too hot on my lap, and I have a writing routine - you understand, right? I'm off this week. Way off. I know it's just this week, and I'm doing my best to find little snippets of time to work on the fourth Grace mystery, but it's tough.

And, she likes to ask questions. Often the same question over and over. Mostly: "When am I going home?" She's really with it most of the time, but occasionally lapses into deep periods of forgetfulness. Because I'm on the laptop and nearby, I'm her company for the day, and that means I can't really concentrate on any writing.

Honestly I'm not complaining. It's only ten days. I know that if my mother were still here, my husband would be happy to do this for me, but this is a challenge, especially with all the promotional work that Grace Among Thieves (released last week) I still need to do. Plus, I'd been writing 1,000 - 2,000 words a day for the past few weeks, but now that momentum has ground to a complete halt. I hope I remember what I had planned for the next Grace scenes when I finally get back to it!

What happens to you when your routines are thrown off? Do you have any helpful hints you can suggest? I'd love to hear them!


PS - In other news - also rocking my world, but in a wonderful way - I found out that Buffalo West Wing, the fourth White House Chef mystery, was nominated for an Anthony Award!! Winners will be voted on and announced at Bouchercon, the World Mystery Conference. This year it's in Cleveland, OH. If you're a mystery fan, you may want to check it out!