Monday, June 15, 2009

And the Challenges Go On.. Part 4

Mom didn't come to dinner tonight. This time it was dad who triggered it. Yep, mom's 6th(?) hunger strike since I moved in.

Wait, I shouldn't call it hunger strike any more, because the other day I found out that she had bunch of food in her own small fridge in the annex, in addition to some instant ramen noodles on the shelf. She even set a toaster oven on the shelf so that she could have light meals there without coming to the kitchen. So these days, when she is mad at either me or dad, she seems to be eating something in her room or coming to the kitchen to eat alone between regular meal times. That's much better than starving herself, isn't it? So I'm feeling more at ease these days.

It was the day before yesterday that mom's bad mood started. Her friend gave her about 30 to 40 young shiso (perilla) plants. Both dad and I helped with spading the soil and mom planted all of them. Then yesterday, mom came home in the evening with some bigger shiso plants from the same friend, and insisted that what was planted on the previous day must be pulled out and replaced with the big ones immediately. There was enough space for the additional big ones, too, so we couldn't understand why all the smaller ones had to be pulled out. Dad told her so, then she didn't come to dinner and did all the replacement by herself until it was completely dark.

And today, she skipped breakfast and ate something in the kitchen when no one was there. And in the afternoon, according to dad, she started telling him what to do about another crop in the veggie garden, repeating the same thing over and over, until he finally yelled at her.

Looks like she cannot stand it when other people do not approve of her idea or plan or way of doing a certain thing, and cannot let it go until she gets even by ordering around. Or by not eating, at least with the person(s) who upset her. Or by doing something bad for her health so that she can say, when someone worries about her health, that she doesn't care because her family doesn't treat her right and she doesn't want to live long or something along that line. You know, that old game.

Of course she didn't eat dinner with us today. But I heard her going into the kitchen a while ago and she hasn't come out yet, so I guess now she's eating something there. It's good. As far as she's eating, I'm not too worried. ;P

And her obsession with buying frozen food still continues. When I moved in about one and a half month ago, the freezer of the big fridge was jam-packed with frozen food, including 8 packs of ready-made sweet and sour pork. Then in May, her obsession seems to have been directed towards frozen gyoza (potstickers), and she started ordering them every week. Soon the freezer of my fridge was filled up, and when a huge box of frozen gyoza from food co-op was delivered, I told mom that all the freezers in the house were full. Then she went into a hunger strike. And she added an order of another value pack of frozen gyoza after I checked the order sheet, which I found out on the following week.

A few days later, at the supermarket, she grabbed two packages of frozen gyoza, so I asked her to return them because we had plenty of them in the freezer. Then, as I wrote in my lemon sorbet post, a big bag of frozen gyoza was delivered and I asked mom not to buy any more frozen food, which triggered another hunger strike. And the day after, I found that she brought some more frozen food after she went to see her aunt, skipping lunch and dinner, and shoved them into the freezer in the kitchen. It was too full to be closed completely.

And you know what? She almost never eats any of the frozen food she buys. She doesn't like ready-made sweet 'n sour pork or gyoza.

But other than that, recently she really tries to flatter me after she gets out of her hunger strike. She eagerly tries the result of my culinary experiment and compliments it. She does the dishes the same way as I do. She even hands me the order sheet of food co-op every Tuesday night so that I can add my orders before the delivery guy picks it up on Wednesday. Of course I check the order and erase some of them. These days she is into ordering value packs of Popsicle, as it is getting hot and humid now, and storing them in her own freezer. Actually the order sheet for tomorrow is right in front of me now and I see check marks on two different kinds of Popsicle...
... AND a value pack of FROZEN GYOZA...   orz

BTW, the top photo is a fallen yamamomo (myrica rubra or Japanese bayberry?) on the ground. Yesterday I harvested a big basketful of them with dad, which was really a hard work. And making jam out of them last night was even more challenging. :O But I'd rather write about it as a separate post in a few days.

Oh, I almost forgot. Sad news. Jonathan is gone. He's been gone for weeks now. The last time he was seen was when the ocean was stormy like this:

According to a granny in the neighborhood, he was walking slowly by the road perhaps because the beach was being washed by rough waves. And since then, no one has seen him on the beach or anywhere around.

I hope he was not attacked by stray dog or something. Now I feel so lonely when I walk on the beach in the morning.

Maybe he hitchhiked and ventured into a new place where he might find a girlfriend? Oh I really hope so.

One more thing:
There's an old relative who is so into making gomokuzushi. She makes a whole bunch of it like every other week, and gives so much to my aunt. Making the sushi could be her life work and it's nice that she has something to keep her busy and make her feel useful. The only thing is that her gomokuzushi is ... uh... the opposite of delicious. Uh... the opposite of tasty. You know what I mean. My aunt can never refuse it, and gives most of it to us. Imagine having like ten servings of opposite-of-delicious gomokuzushi in the middle of a flood of fresh food into our kitchen and mom's hunger strike... :O


Tindy said...

Aw, Obachan... :( I hope Jonathan is somewhere fun!

And please don't hate me, but I read these posts and still have to laugh...The stuff your mom orders is so crazy! It's like my dad, but worse. He buys things that we don't need all the time, and stuffs the frige until we can't see the light anymore!

Oh, and if you're into Western recipes, there's a cook book that I just found out about, called Cooking Light. It uses less butter, less eggs, less salt, etc etc, but doesn't replace them with anything fake (like Olestra). And everything is really yummy!

C(h)ristine said...

Hi Obachan--it's one of your longtime readers...I'm glad to find you here. I know that your life is bittersweet these days but I want to tell you that I love this post and the writing in it and the story about your mom (that indeed is sad but the writing is beautiful). Reminds me of Yoko Ogawa's writing, really.

K and S said...

I hope Jonathan went somewhere cooler.

Not to be negative but I hope your mom doesn't have dementia or something like that. Hope it is just her moods. Glad to hear she is eating though.

Take care Obachan, hugs from Osaka.

Anonymous said...

Konbanwa from California, Obachan!
I've recently discovered your blog and have enjoyed reading your posts. My comment is about your Okaasan's behavior, which must be very difficult for you and your Otohsan to deal with. Has she had a complete physical exam to rule out if anything physical and/or mental might be contributing to her behavior? If not your Otohsan should talk to her doctor about her refusal to eat when things do not go her way. Is she on prescription medication? The medicine may be affecting her behavior. I'm not a doctor, but my obaachan exhibited similar behavior like your mother, refusing to eat with family if she didn't have her way, and eating when no one was looking. After her doctor ran a battery of tests, it was determined that one of the medication she was taking was triggering her behavior. Or it could be that her acting out like she does and "starving" herself could be a cry for attention? Best, Masae.
P.S. Sorry for posting anonymously, I'm too lazy to open a Google Account!

Anonymous said...

Hi Obachan,

Love reading your blog and admire the composition in the beautiful pictures that you take.

Regarding your mom ordering goyza -would it be possible to call the delivery service to verfiy your grocery delivery, prior to delivery? If your mom should comment about not receiving goyza, tell her that they didn't have any in stock and that you do have a freezer full of them.

Aloha from Hawaii,

Anonymous said...

ROLF sorry, but you did make my day with this post :)


cookiecrumb said...

My mother is also irrational and neurotic (let's be honest).
I will never take care of her.
You are a saint.

Anonymous said...


obachan said...

Oh, no! I'll never hate you for that. No matter what some people may say, I believe that humor and healthy body are the best weapon when going through a hard time. I truely love the friends who laugh with me as I try to tackle challenges with humor.(But actually, things are not too terrible yet.)

Yoko Ogawa. "The professor and his beloved equation," right? I haven't read that book yet, but I'm going to in the near future. I don't think my writing can be as good as a professional's work, but as far as someone is interested, I'll probably keep writing about my experiences, just because it might make someone feel, "I'm not the only one."

K & S;
Yeah, Jonathan would love somewhere much cooler as it is getting so hot and humid now.

I have the feeling that she may have MCI -- that was part of the reason why I moved in. But, yeah, I'm really happy that she started eating.

Thanks for your concern. No, she's not on any medication and there is no such thing as "her doctor."

She has some physical problems (who doesn't at her age?) and some started when she was quite young -- such as bad teeth and chronic constipation. History of depression in close relatives and her poor coping ability are also nothing new. Technically speaking, all these, as well as changes in environment, can and do contribute to the behavior of a person at her age and cannot be completely ruled out.

Thanks and don't worry. Mom doesn't exactly remember what she ordered a week ago. :P And the delivery service seems to make mistakes once in a while. At first I was unhappy about it, but now I think that such laid-back way of life can make it easier for us.

Oh, don't be sorry. As I wrote in my response to Tindy, I really love the people who share my humor and respond to my humor.

Let's be honest. There were several reasons for my moving into my parents' house, and "free food and lodging" and "fishing" were definitely the major ones. And since I'm not really "taking care" of mom yet, my being here is more like being a "parasite single" at this moment. :(

Yes!!!!!!!!!!! ;)

obachan said...

I forgot to say this in my reply above, but is the book you mentioned the same thing as this site?

Amy said...

It sounds to me like your mom is going crazy. something is wrong. its so abnormal. those are totally the stories you read and they finally get the person to the doctor and they have the beginning alzheimers or a tumor. the brain is experiencing severe change somewhere and the person is totally irrational. i sure hope you didnt live your whole life with her like this. wow. your dad is lucky you are there to run some interference.

obachan said...

I'm aware that something IS going on in her psyche. I also know what it takes to get the official diagnosis of beginning Alzheimers in this country. And sorry to say this, but it seems too hasty to conclude that mom is totally irrational from this limited description on my post(s) because she is not, yet.

Tindy said...

Yes indeed, Obachan, it's the same. :) Cooking Light is actually a magazine, the website takes the recipes from it, and the book is their best recipes. Mmm.

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Stardust said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Hey Obachan,

Don't mean to be rude, but Amy's family is quite different. My mom is close like yours and I have friends who advise me to help her seek mental treatment. That drives me crazy, for the fact is, she's not crazy.

It's hard, but you're not alone. Hugs.

obachan said...

Thanks. :)

Thanks for letting me know.

Anonymous commenter;
My biggest hope is that more people begin to understand that it is not the issue of "crazy" vs. "not crazy" and start learning what the "treatment" actually is instead of what they think it is. Anyway, I'll write about this aging issue in more details somewhere else.


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