Wuz Goldilocks here?

In recent months, Peter has been much sleeping later in the mornings, sleeping downstairs occasionally, getting up in the night to go to the bathroom and then going to another bedroom to finish the night.

Oh yes, I’m aware when this happens — Leslie calls it “using my mommy ears” — though I’m not necessarily wide awake.

In the wee hours one night I woke up and realized Peter wasn’t in bed and hadn’t been. The sheet on his side was cool and still smooth. I didn’t look at the clock, but I knew from the hush on the street outside that it was about about four. Just then the floor creaked. Peter was tiptoeing along the hall trying not to wake me.

When he opened the door, I asked where he’d been…as if he’d remember. “I just went to the toilet,” he said, climbing into bed.

“Um, no, you haven’t been here at all,” I said, but he was already asleep.

After sunrise I got up and headed downstairs for coffee. Whoops, what did I just see, I asked myself as I reached the top of the stairs?

I backed up and looked in Carolynn’s room. The bed was slightly mussed and looked as if someone had been sitting on it.  Then I peeked into Leslie’s room where the bedcovers were turned back, the pillow squashed. Peter’s slippers were placed neatly beside the bed and his winter jacket was hanging on the bedpost. “Hm-m,” I said.

Leslie’s bed was just right.

The coffeemaker’s drips woke my brain and I soon solved the mystery. The pillows on the sofa were piled up in a way that told me my husband had tried to sleep there using the cushions and his jacket for warmth. Upstairs, he’d first tried the bed in Carolynn’s room and decided it was too hard, but in Leslie’s room the bed was just right and he no longer needed his jacket for warmth.

When he finally came down, he sat in his chair — just right — and I gave him his coffee. I was tempted to offer him a bowl of porridge, but I kept that thought to myself. He doesn’t have a sense of humor in the mornings.


2016 National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ contest finalist. 
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Header: Carolynn’s bed, too hard.

Domino effect.

“You know how to play dominoes, Pete?” Bill asked on Wednesday. That question was all it took to wind my husband up after four weeks of down.

Not only did Peter go on and on about the social aspects of an Englishman “going ’round t’pub” on a Saturday afternoon, leaving “the little woman at ‘ome,” he chattered about the game  of dominoes itself. Bill always wanted to learn how to play, he said.

Peter’s sudden change four weeks ago forced me to act. I’d reached the end of my rope, stressed, dithery, muddled, still trying to handle everything myself. Leslie and Carolynn got after me, good daughters that they are. As happened, Bill, who’s been helping Peter for almost six years, suddenly had more available hours per week.

Serendipitous!

Monday, I’d arranged to use more of Bill’s time and provided a list of ideas and hints to guide him. In spite of Peter’s usually cheery persona, he isn’t always an easy client. And there are a lot more things to be aware of these days. His confusion has amped up.

So Bill was primed about dominoes. He no sooner mentioned the game than I began to look for our set. “It’s really easy,” I said, “but Peter can keep track of which ones haven’t been played. I just play what matches.” He laughed.

The two were out longer than usual Wednesday, while three of my friends came here for a lunchtime meeting. We did have some business, but more importantly, we laughed…a lot! It was a good time.

That evening, Bill texted to ask how Peter had seemed when he came home. “He was great,” I texted back. “You struck a chord mentioning dominoes.  More like himself than he’s been since that time…four weeks ago.”

The rest of the week was mixed ups and downs, but that one big, bright UP on Wednesday made such a difference.

Today we played dominoes, Peter and I. No surprise…he won…best of three.


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2016 National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ contest finalist.

We soldier on.

One of my husband’s culinary successes has always been perfect fried eggs. And one of his favorite meals is egg and chips. Nowdays it’s my fall-back meal when I’m too tired to cook, even though I’ve never been able to fry an egg. Take last night.

I got out the eggs, skillet, oil, plates for him. I put the frozen chips in the oven and called Peter to fix the eggs when the chips were nearly done.

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Egg and soldier.

I sat down to read for a few minutes, but his grumbling got me up to see what was wrong. “These eggs are no good,” he growled. “I can’t get them out.” He had an egg in his left hand and was trying to peel it with his right, as if it had been soft-boiled for soldiers.

“Shall I do it?” I asked and cracked another against the skillet. In the meantime, he dumped the raw egg he’d scrambled in its shell into the skillet too. Except for that one, my eggs were done perfectly — first time ever! — and the chips were as good as frozen ones ever are.

Afterwards he thanked me and said he enjoyed our little snack. “What’s for afters?” he asked.

“Applesauce.” He was blank. “Stewed apple,” I translated.

Lately I’ve been helping him clear up after we eat. He just can’t seem to manage the task anymore. But this was a simple meal, with just plates and silverware for the dishwasher and cookie sheet and skillet for the sink. I went to watch the news.

“How am I going to get this stuff off?” he yelled. He was poking at the submerged cookie sheet which appeared to be floating on an oil slick.

“What did you put in the water?” I asked. He didn’t know, but I suspect he either dumped in the canola oil out of the skillet, or poured some straight from the bottle in lieu of dishwashing liquid. “Did you put the Dawn in?”

“Didn’t know I was supposed to,” he said.

Deep breath. “You go have your tea. I’ll take care of this.” I sopped up as much as I could and hoped all that oil wouldn’t glom up the drain.

It didn’t, but this morning when I came downstairs, the eggs in the refrigerator were soft boiled. The fridge had gone on the fritz in the night and warmed to 70°.  Not a laughing matter.

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Glossary of English vs American terms:
His chips are our French fries (Crisps, btw, are potato chips)
His stewed apple is our applesauce
Soldiers are strips of crustless buttered toast, dunked into soft-boiled eggs, (pointy ends removed neatly), that are placed in an egg cup. Why “soldiers?” Don’t ask me, I’m an American.

The National Society of Newspaper Columnists contest winner, 2016 —
online, blog, & monthly under 100,000 unique visitors category.

Header photo: Frambled eggs, photo courtesy Epicurious.

‘Forget about your worries and your strife…’

“Any good movies on?” is one of my husband’s litany of questions. Usually I shake my head. He no longer wants to see the kinds of movies I never liked — “Silence of the lambs,” “Godfather,” “Psycho,” “Rocky” — so I look for lighter choices. We’ve watched a lot of children’s movies lately — “Nanny McPhee,” “Babe,” “Charlotte’s Web” — light, laugh-inducing films.

Recently, I surprised him. “‘Jungle Book’ is getting good ratings,” I said. “We’ll go at 4:00, then eat out after.” His eyes lit up like a child’s.

We enjoyed the movie, even though Kaa, the snake, made me cringe. Throughout, Peter asked over and over how “they got the animals to do that?”

“They aren’t real,” I said again and again, “that’s special computer animation combined with real animals’ movements…””How do…?”

“I dunno’ how…it’s magic,” I said.

Afterwards, as promised, we went to our favorite restaurant. Peter ordered his usual, and me, mine. “That looks good,” he said of my suguk wrap, as I knew he would. “I’ll order that the next time,” he added as he tucked into his kebab.

“You say that every time,” I laughed. “You ordered this once and liked it.”

He nodded. “I remember,” he said. “But, I’m not going to say, ‘any good movies on’, because we just saw one, didn’t we?” His eyes twinkled. “See, I remembered.” He was quite pleased with himself.

“Wow, I’m amazed. And what was the movie?”

“HA! ‘Jungle Book’,” he said proudly. That moment, a tiny glimmer of clarity, made us chuckle. “But, how did they get the animals to do that?” he asked. Again.

Well, the briefest flash of light through fog is better than no light at all.

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Header: Mowgli and Bagheera in a scene from “Jungle Book” (2016)
Animation example: Screen Slam on YouTube (2016)

 

Fresh fish get slapped.

Friday’s outing included lunch at Montano’s, our favorite restaurant in Roanoke. We’ve eaten there every month or two for years. We recognize most of the waitstaff, and they us, and they always know Peter will order a Guinness.

The other day, our waitress was new to us. They no longer have Guinness on tap, so she brought him three choices of bottled Guinness — Draught, Black Lager, and Original. “What do I have?” he asked. I ordered  the Draught. Peter studied the menu as if he’d never seen it. I’d already decided to have the special — fresh cod tacos.

“Ready to order, Sir?” the waitress asked as she came by a third time.

He looked at her with a mischievous glint in his eyes. I cringed. “I’ll have the ‘chis and fips,'” he said.

“I’m sorry?” She glanced at me and leaned closer to him.

Peter chuckled. “Fish and chips, I’ll have fish and chips,” he said. An apology was embedded in my weak smile. She winked.

“I’ve got to stop doing that,” he said.

“Yeah, yeah, that’ll be a cold day in hell.”

“But it’s warm today, I left my jacket in the car.”

“Mm-m,” I said.

When our food was delivered, he looked at my plate. “What’s that?” he asked.

“Fresh cod tacos. They’re really good. Want a bite?”

“Do I like that?”

“You’ve never had a cod taco. Neither have I, but…yum,” I said, trying to tempt him.

“Is the fish fresh?”

“Any fresher and I’d slap it,” I said.

Took him a few seconds to get my little joke, but he finally laughed. I confess, I didn’t come up with the line. I saw it on a shop in London’s Borough Market years ago.

He never did try my taco, but I didn’t give him another chance either.

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Borough Market sushi shop, London, April 22, 2006

Header photo: Atlantic Cod, Saipal/Flickr (CCBY 2.0)

It was a date.

“I know what the date it,” Peter said suddenly, “but I don’t know the day.”  We were having coffee at our favorite bakery. We go there fairly often, but this was a special day.

“Mmm,” I said, “what is the date then?”

He nodded towards the large hanging blackboard that had specials listed. February 26, 2016 was written across the top. His birthday.

Version 2

I laughed. “That’s why we’re here. It’s your birthday. And it’s Friday by the way.”

Version 2

“My birthday? I didn’t know…”

“You didn’t know even when I said ‘Happy Birthday’ when you got up, nor from the message I put on your board…?”

“When was that?”

“First thing this morning,” I said.

“Oh, that was a long time ago.” Thirty seconds is a long time ago for him these days.

It turned out to be one of his best birthdays ever, I think. We went to see the newly released “Eddie the Eagle” followed by fish and chips at Red Robin. I figured the movie — about the young Englishman who decided to compete as a ski jumper in the 1988 Calgary Olympics — would be a sure bet. And it was. Most films with English overtones catch Peter’s fancy, and this one laugh-out-loud funny and punctuated with Olympian excitement and hope. We laughed at Eddy who had no fear, and groaned and yelped at his spectacular crashes. We trained and strained with him as he worked toward his goal. The movie was the perfect antidote for the week I’d had, and a perfect birthday treat  for my husband.

Later, he pronounced his fish and chips “good as always.” We even shared Chocolate “Fruffles”™ to drench in fruit “ketchup” and whipped creme. What’s not to love?

“So you liked the movie, then?” I said. “Good, wasn’t it?”

“What movie?” he asked, then shook his head disgustedly. “Sorry, I’m sorry. I don’t remember.” I gave him clues — “English…skiing…Olympics…Eagle” — but nothing sparked his memory.

He noticed his message board for the first time when we got home. Later, he jotted a note to me: THANK YOU.

Even if he couldn’t recall what he was thanking me for, that made my day.

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Friday the thirteenth wasn’t bad at all.

A spur o’moment lunch out was just what we needed yesterday after a tumultuous week. The day was bright, excitingly windy, and there was an invigorating nip in the air.

“Want to go out for lunch?” I called to Peter. He was holed up in the basement as usual.

“Yes!” He was ready in spirit instantly, but another half hour passed before he was ready physically. Oh, it’s not that he can’t do it, no, it’s that he changes his clothes more often than a high school girl getting ready for her first date.

Finally, I corralled him into the car. We headed to Salem, a short trip down the mountain. The scenic route, I’d decided — less trucks, fewer wind gusts, less taxing drive — but I entered the Interstate automatically. “Ah-h, forgot where I was going,” I grumbled.

“Now you know why I don’t drive anymore,” Peter said. I whipped off at the first exit and got back onto the quieter, prettier road.

Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 1.44.29 PMPeter was as excited as a kid at Christmas when he realized we were headed to The Blue Apron. We were no sooner seated than he said, “Well, I see they still haven’t fixed the wall.” I turned to see what he meant, then noticed his twinkling eyes. I groaned at his worn joke. The walls are original old brick and they are lovely.

When the server came to take our drinks order, Peter said, “What beer do you have?” He listened carefully as she recited a long list of beers with inventive and mostly unrecognizable names. “I’ll have an IPA…I just wanted to hear you say all of them.” My apologetic glance said I-can’t-do-anything-with-him. She laughed.

Peter ordered the swordfish entree, not the luncheon serving, as she suggested, rather the dinner one. “Good,” I said, “I won’t have to fix dinner.” It was nearly 2:00 by then.

When she returned to ask how everything was, Peter said, “Oh, terrible…” He always does that, then waits to see if the server has heard what he’s said. She heard, but she already had his number and laughed. Some time later she returned, noted Peter’s near-empty beer and asked if he’d like another. “Yes, but not today, thank you,” he said.

I sat back, shocked, not that he’d said no, but because I’d never heard that one before. “I can’t believe you came up with a new line,” I said.

“I always say that when I’m out on me own. You’re never there when I’m out with me mates,” he insisted.

“Well, no-o, but you haven’t been out with them in years. Anyway, it’s new to me.”

We ordered desserts, lavender pistachio chiffon for Peter, espresso panna cotta for me. Peter was taken aback at how purple his was, but ate every bite. I could’ve eaten two more panna cottas. “Two more,” Peter said, nodding toward my empty cup when the server came back.

“Really?” she asked. I shook my head and rolled my eyes towards my husband. “You really have your hands full, don’t you? she asked.

She got a big tip.

 

Dementia: ‘Auld acquaintance be forgot, never brought to mind.’

Snapping, sparkling fireworks went off in my head when the WordPress 2014 annual report for this blog arrived. I just started “Dementia isn’t funny” five months ago, so mine isn’t really an annual report, but I’m thrilled to have statistics to be reported upon! Woo hooo.

My December 26 post, Times change… years go by , caused too many tears, so I’ve resolved to start 2015 off with words that underscore laughter — laughter helps Peter and I through our days, some good, some bad.  There are lots of people who endure situations way worse than ours, so giggles should be my focus. Everything is better when dosed with laughs.

Laugh anytime.

Laugh anytime.

The WordPress report begins with this excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds sixty people. This blog [mine!] was viewed about 1,600 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about twenty-seven trips to carry that many people.

C’mon, 1,600 times? Really?

“Laughter layered with despair,” my first post here, has had the most views and the most comments to date, though the title doesn’t seem to promise laughs, does it?

My daughters, Carolynn and Leslie, Carolynn’s husband Bill, her friend Robin, and my longtime friend CJ rate a big thank you for being my most active commenters. And thanks, too, to other family and friends who have urged me on.

Live. Laugh. Love.

Click here to see the complete WordPress report.

 

 

Yet another good thing.

My husband has always been a picky eater. He has always insisted he is selective, not picky. As long as there’s meatpotatoesveg on his plate, he’ll clean it, he says. If there’s gravy, so much the better, even lumpy gravy! He doesn’t like things that sound as if they were bought at a health food store — quinoa, wheat germ, tofu, edamame — although he has eaten all of them unknowingly, and liked them.

The list of things Peter will not eat is varied: tomatoes, the teeniest, eensiest bit of fat, cucumbers, pasta, rice, cheesecake, peanut butter, mac and cheese, cornbread, dill pickles, quiche, cranberries…I could go on.

Nowdays, because he doesn’t — can’t — cook anymore, he eats what’s put in front of him. This change allows me to fix meals I like more often instead of always catering to the meatpotatoesveg dictum.

Used to be, if I fixed pasta, which I love, he’d mutter and growl. Now we have it once a week or so and he doesn’t say a word. Maybe he doesn’t remember he never liked it, or maybe he likes it now, I don’t know. Other meals, I’ll sometimes fix two green veg, no potatoes, and substitute beans for meat. Not. A. Whimper.

Recently I prepared turkey cutlets and quartered red potatoes marinated in lemon juice, rosemary, and olive Screen shot 2014-10-30 at 6.05.01 PMoil. Cranberries I cooked in hard cider, with a smushy apple, and a bit of sugar. Yummy. I nearly fell off my chair when Peter not only cleaned his plate, but carefully scraped out the tiny bowl of cranberries I’d given him and served himself some more!

He pointed to the bowl and said, “Are they good for me?”

I nodded, he smiled, then licked his spoon.

Thanksgiving is upon us. Cranberries!

Another good thing to be thankful for — check

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