My Dementia Diary 18 – The last Posole’ Party

this past weekend, my wife and I had a posole’ party for friends and neighbors. Posole’ is a traditional Mexican soup served for special occasions and we’ve hosted such gatherings many times. When we first started doing this, my wife would prepare the posole’ from a recipe she’d learned from her mom. As her mind has deteriorated, I’ve picked up more and more of the process until, now, I’m the cook, and my wife the assistant.

Part of the challenge is procuring groceries, a process requiring us to walk downhill to the store and lug the needed items back up the hill. There is always a second trip because I always forget something. I put these efforts down to healthy exercise. The larger difficulty is emotional and mental, staying patient and caring as my wife becomes more and more anxious about the coming event, asking the same questions again and again. Who’s coming? When are they coming? Why are they coming? Who’s coming?…

As much as she enjoys the thought of company, she is also fearful that someone is going to take her things, so she begins to hide and cover them up. Still, we got through this and by mid afternoon the posole’ is simmering on the stove, our home filled with the sumptuous aroma of good things cooking. My wife is excited but needs hugs and assurance that all is well. 

Guests eventually arrive amidst smiles and laughter and all gather around to share a delicious meal and the opportunity to connect with each other again. My wife is happy, basking in all the love of the moment. Yet, I notice that she is not able to enter into conversation, most topics are too confusing for her. She retreats to the kitchen to do dishes, babbling joyfully to herself.

The evening winds down, friends depart, my wife and I hug, feeling good for the party’s success, but too tired to clean up after it. 

As I sat sipping tea the following morning while my wife engaged in her favorite pastime, adult coloring books, I reflected. yes, the previous night’s event had gone wonderfully well and it had been a great gathering. My wife had enjoyed it. Yet, I was beat. Certainly, the effort had been worth it, but would I ever want to do it again? perhaps it’s time to quit on a high note.

Time will tell.

tio stib

You might also enjoy: My Dementia Diary 17 – Hiding the Cookies, My Dementia Diary

 

Lumpy Gravy, thoughts on writing Well

I’m working on the rewrite of a chapter in a new book and in spite of hours of effort, when I pause to listen to what I’ve written, it sounds like lumpy gravy.

Yes, I realize that gravy doesn’t talk, sing, or make any other noise, but it still seems the perfect metaphor for my imperfect words. In case you’re not familiar with gravy and, in particular, lumpy gravy, a brief description-

Gravy is a sauce made from cooked meat juices, stock, and other ingredients. One ingredient is flour, which is used to thicken the sauce. When the flour is added incorrectly, the result is lumpy gravy, little balls of unmixed flour in the sauce, a culinary no-no. Like good writing, I believe creating good gravy, a sumptuously smooth sauce, is a combination of rigorous practicality and delicate art.

My own experience is that lumpy gravy usually results from hurrying, compromising time and care because of impatience, setting an unrealistic timeline for creating something that simply cannot be rushed. There is a proper order and way to add and mix ingredients. don’t do this and you get lumps.

what are the lumps in my writing? Words and phrases that don’t sound right, feel out of place, don’t fit the desired style, don’t truly support the theme. Adverbs and adjectives that were easy to insert but, upon reflection, don’t add anything. 

What I write seldom comes out smooth and lump free the first time. Admittedly, I rarely succeed at creating lump free gravy either. In cooking, there are two ways to fix this, stir or whisk much more, or, something few will admit to, strain the gravy through a sieve to remove the lumps. 

This is what rewriting is all about, the writer’s process of removing the lumps from his work through careful consideration, in my case, listening as I can’t see what I’ve written. Often I brainstorm words, sentences, even paragraphs. with the magic power of today’s word processing technology and my text reader friend, Alex voiceOver, I can quickly try and listen to many options, until I hear something that is smooth and feels right. And on I move to the next paragraph.

Ultimately, I’m the cook in my word kitchen and I know, that unless what I’ve written passes my taste test, unless I’ve taken the time, done the work, to make perfect, lump free, gravy, those words can’t leave the kitchen.

tio stib

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Excuses

damn sick, you know, that awful flu
slipped and fell on doggy do
triple booked, what could I do
have you met the new guy, Lew
slipped out to sip a little brew
Giants lost, the Seahawks too
burned the Sunday evening stew
blame it on my low I.Q.
what’s with all the ballyhoo
just what did I promise you

really

what else is new

tio stib
2017, 2018

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My Dementia Diary 17 – Hiding the Cookies

My wife’s mind forgets many things but not cookies. when we enter the grocery store, “cookies?” is the first word off her lips, and she knows exactly where to find them in the bakery. Admittedly, I too have a fondness for such sweets, especially the chocolate chip ones, which is why cookies often find their way into our grocery bag.

The challenge comes when we return home, when we must resist the urge to eat all the sweets at once. I’ve tried rationing them, handing out a small amount each day, but, I soon discovered that the cookies were disappearing faster than my rationing had anticipated. Obviously, they were being eaten at other times. Obviously, my wife’s cookie needs were overriding my desire to limit caloric intake.

I decided to hide the cookie tin. First, I placed it in the cupboard, behind the cereal. The cookies kept disappearing. then, I put the tin on top of the refrigerator, assuming my wife would not see them. A few minutes later, she came up and offered me several. It’s hard to be secretive in a single room apartment.

My latest hiding place is in the oven, an appliance we never use. So far, the cookie stash has remained a secret, and the tin may even last the week. Apparently, the phrase “out of sight, out of mind,” bears some truth.

However, I no longer can blame my wife for the continuing cookie disappearance.

tio stib

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Insomnia

there are moments when
I dream in peace
a mind released to roam
then others when
the clock grinds on
and night becomes a tomb

I lay now in eternal night
awaiting mindless deep
a craving need to somehow get
a decent hour’s sleep

tio stib
2015, 2018

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In Nature I am Home

I’ve Never Felt alone

on countless journeys
off the maps
on trips of whim and circumstance
without a friend and miles from men

I’ve never felt alone

on stormy nights 
and raucous seas
rivers wild and mountains free
near howling wolves
and singing stars

I’ve never felt alone

sitting by a sparking fire
aspens whispering in the breeze
morning mist outside the tent
no footprints
whichever way I went

I’ve never felt alone

there is a peace in wilderness
where souls can breathe in openness
midst meadow flowers and humming bees
the stillness of majestic trees
clouds that melt in azure skies
watchful eyes as I pass by
a world where love embraces me
a love beyond what words can be

when I’m torn by fear and loss
when smallness grabs my soul
the memories of my wilderness
comfort my heart

sometimes I’ve wondered 
how this might be
to wander lone and absently
with no need for humanity

one thought keeps coming
back to me

in nature, I am home

tio stib

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My Dementia Diary 16 – Good News, Bad News, Where is My Solitude

For years, I dreamed of a partner with whom I could share all of life, the joys and the hardships, someone who would be willing and able to take off on a moment’s notice to places unknown simply because it seemed to be a great idea at the time.

Finally, I was blessed with just this partner, and, for one year, we had the magic life together that I’d always dreamed of.

That was a year of unsurpassed bliss and those memories still bring me smiles. However, as so often happens, our road together took an unexpected turn. I lost my sight and she began losing her mind.

And, so, we’ve adapted.

We no longer drive miles from home, but limit our roaming to walking local walking wanderings. It has gotten to the point that I no longer feel comfortable leaving her alone, and, as I’m her only caregiver, this means we’re together all the time, always. Fortunately, my wife has a naturally cheerful disposition and she’s easily guided into whatever activity we need to be doing, from daily walks to grocery shopping. The biggest challenge is my personality, the fact that, for most of my life, I’ve enjoyed times of solitude.

While I’ve treasured sharing adventures with friends, from sailing trips to hikes to new restaurants, when no one was available, I went off on my own. And I loved it!! As has been often shared by others, solitude is not loneliness, it is the beauty and peace of being alone. I have fond recollections of such solitude times, from solo hikes and sailing trips to simply sitting on a beach at sunset. Quiet moments when I could hear stars talking to each other.

Given my wife’s new need for constant companionship, I am finding new ways to give myself the gift of solitude. As she has the envious ability to fall asleep in seconds, I often listen to those imagined stars deep into the night waiting for drowsiness to creep over my mind. Or, I’ll sit outside in the morning sunshine, letting the sweet scent of nearby Jasmine float through me, recalling other dreams of times gone by.

Solitude is soul food, and, as always, it’s up to me to feed myself.

tio stib

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