Two quarts to the gallon.

Today’s post, the first of the new year, is a springtime story in January to honor my resolution: find more laughs to write about. Causing tears isn’t part of my plan.


Last spring we decided to tackle the wooly adelgid infestation that threatened our lush hemlock hedge. A few years ago it wouldn’t have been a problem for us to do ourselves. Either one of us would’ve been nimble enough to crawl under the hedge to administer the lethal dose of chemicals around the trees’ trunks. And Peter would’ve been able, without paper and pencil, to figure out how many ounces of the stuff to add to each gallon of water.

But heck, when we went to buy it, we couldn’t even get out of Lowe’s without an argument. It’s expensive, that potion, somewhere in the eighty bucks a gallon neighborhood. I, with my laughable math skills, noticed that buying by the quart was actually cheaper. “Look, it’s only twenty-seven dollars a quart. It would be better to buy two quarts than one gallon.”

“Four quarts to a gallon,” my engineer husband said.

“No-o, two,” I insisted.


We glared at each other right there in the front aisle at Lowe’s.

A young assistant came along and asked if he could help. I said yes and explained our math issues.

“Well, with four quarts to the gallon,” the whippersnapper said, “you’re better off buying by the gallon.” He helped calculate how many gallons we needed given the height, length, and depth of the hedge, then said, “Can I help you carry this to the cashier?” Humpf, we weren’t that feeble…yet!

Peter carried the two gallon jugs and I slunk along behind him apologizing. He rolled his eyes, as if to say, Leave the arithmetic to me, Luv.

Later I repeated the story to Leslie and explained that not only had I been totally convinced I was right, I also thought it was evidence that Peter’s mind was deteriorating further, faster

She laughed. “Never ever doubt him when it comes to math, Mom,” she said. “His mind will never be that far gone.”


One, two, three daffodils.

Photos: Spring flowers in spite of ourselves!

2016 National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ contest finalist. 

Debit or credit?

About a year after my husband was officially diagnosed I discovered a big error in our checking account. Since I almost never wrote checks it was a double whammy — I hadn’t made the mistake, but I knew who had. Quicker than I could subtract what had been added, the bill-paying and taxes-doing landed in my lap.

I’d always relied on Peter, so good with numbers and so logical, to take care of everything involving money matters, never my forte by any stretch. Until that day I had no inkling that he’d lost those skills. Taking over those tasks was no laughing matter for me, a words person. People laugh when I say, “I don’t do numbers,” but I don’t…didn’t.

Now I do.

I found a CPA to help with the taxes, and son-in-law Martin set up automatic bill paying to ease things for me. This created suspicion, a common dementia symptom, in Peter’s mind. He did not like that I had commandeered the checkbook. He didn’t trust “automatic” and,Screen shot 2014-09-21 at 4.32.55 PM worse, he didn’t trust me, with good reason — my own bookkeeping history before we were married was abysmal. It was months before he was even moderately comfortable with the idea that I had taken over his job and that the checkbook was no longer his domain. He still doesn’t understand that the need for anyone to write checks is all but gone.

I’d write a check for any amount if I could reverse Peter’s mental decline.

He had always been in charge and suddenly he wasn’t. Not easy to deal with. Now he’s forgotten there are even any bills to pay, taxes to file, or investments to manage. And I’d never been in charge of such matters, but now I am. Not easy to deal with either. I wanted to scream and sometimes, oftentimes, I do. Or I go to the basement and throw sneakers at the wall.

Screen shot 2014-09-21 at 4.39.24 PMThen one day, I told Peter to cut-up his bank debit card because I thought it was his old, expired credit card. When I realized my mistake, I said, “I owe you an apology,”

He didn’t miss a beat. “That’ll be ten dollars, please,” he said.



Header photo: Graceful anemones, Montreal Botanical Gardens, 2010

2016 National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ contest finalist.