Saturday, May 30, 2020

Not pretty but servicable

When I was in high school, girls took home economics. We learned basic cooking skills, how to read a recipe and measure ingredients. One of the things we made, Goldenrod Eggs, is something I still like and will be having it tomorrow for breakfast.

We learned how to knit. I wasn’t very good at that. The teacher had a few remarks to make when she saw my first efforts. The slippers I made would have been suitable for Big Foot.

We learned how to use a sewing machine, how to cut out a pattern, and sew it. We made a gym bag to carry our gym clothes.

My mom was good seamstress (she made my prom dress)

and I learned from her too. She had hopes for me. They gave me a very old Singer sewing machine in a cabinet when I graduated from college.

I made some of my own clothes back in the day, and I made a caftan for Richard after we moved here.

I was never really very good at it, however.  And 50+ years later, I am still not that good.

We had BLTs the other day. The toaster is one kitchen gadget that we almost ever use. We probably had not used it in at least a year, and it was very dusty. I had to open the bottom and use canned air to blow it all out.

Richard thought we needed a cover for the toaster because it was so very dusty. He had a bolt of black cloth that was very cheap which he uses to cover equipment in his office and shelves in the garage where the little red bins of nails, nuts, washers, etc live to keep the wrens from throwing the nails all over the floor when they decide to build a nest in there.

So I used that to make the toaster cover. I saw some really cute toaster covers on the internet, but I didn’t have a proper pattern. I just measured the dimensions of the toaster and then cut the pieces out of the material and sewed them together. Unfortunately, I couldn’t tell the right side from the wrong side, and after I finished, I realized one of the seams was on the outside. 

Oh well. I decided not to dismantle it. It will keep the dust out even if it isn’t quite right and is probably the ugliest toaster cover ever.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Following the directions


On our last trip to Springfield in the Fall (before anyone had heard of COVID-19), we stopped at the Asian market. Richard spent too much time in the noodle section and came home with 6 or 7 different kinds of noodle. Including Beijing Noodles. 

They are a long, flat noodle, sort of like linguini. 
“It is non-fried and no preservatives. The quality is healthy and satisfying. You can set your mind at ease because we can guarantee your expenditure.”

He wanted me to cook them for dinner. So I read the instructions… not the ones in Chinese, obviously, but the ones that had been translated into English.

1. Add Noodles (100 g) per person to boiling water and stir occasionally to separate noodles. Wait 3 minutes. 

Okay. We have a kitchen scale. Weigh out 100 grams and into the boiling water they go. Set the kitchen timer. So far so good. 

2. Turn to small flame. Add a half cup of water. Turn off the flame while boiling again.

What? Huh? I guess they meant bring it to a boil again on low heat and then turn the heat off. I didn’t know.

I decided the noodles would be mush if I did that, so I improvised. I added the half cup of water, turned the burner off and let them sit in the hottish water for another 3 minutes. They turned out fine

Just another case of the meaning getting lost in translation.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

"Honey, have you seen the...?"

So, how much time do you spend every day searching for things are not actually lost, just “temporarily misplaced?” Because this is such a problem for us, and seems to get worse day-by-day, some time ago, Richard made a sign
 and put several of them around the house to remind us to put things back.

Do we put things back? Sometimes, but more frequently, we do not.

One morning last week, he put an altered sign on my desk.
 "This is my reality," he says.

I had a good laugh, but I wasn’t laughing later that afternoon when I was preparing dinner and needed the lid for my 1-quart casserole.

I opened the cabinet where it is supposed to live. It was not there. Richard was in the kitchen, so I asked him if he knew where it was. He also opened the cabinet and looked, and he agreed that it wasn’t there. We looked in the dish drainer, on the counter next to the microwave, on top of microwave. No lid.

I was very exasperated by the time I did find it. My big cast iron skillet mostly sits on the back burner of the stove. The last time I had used the casserole, I had put the lid in the cast iron skillet, and then later had put the lid for my 6-quart soup pot on top of it.

Richard needed the big clippers to trim some small branches hanging over the driveway. He couldn’t find them anywhere, and wanted to know if I had seen them. I hadn’t, but decided to help look for them. I searched all the likely places. Then I thought to look in the back of the truck, just for the heck of it, and there they were.

He had driven the truck down the driveway several days earlier with the tools (including the clippers) he needed to clear a brush dam that had caused the wet weather spring, which has been flowing for quite a while, to run like a river down our driveway instead of flowing through the culvert. He had left everything in the back of the truck when he finished but had forgotten that’s where they were.

Richard often takes the small cutting board into his office when he wants to chop vegetables for our salad or slice apples or orange because his back hurts if he stands too long at the kitchen counter.

Yesterday I heard him rummaging around in the kitchen. “Leilani Lee (uh oh! Mom and dad never used our middle names unless they were really annoyed with us), what did you do with the blue cutting board?”

“I didn’t do anything with it,” I fired back. The cutting board is one thing I always put in the dish drainer to dry when it has been washed or hang on the nail when it is dry. “You probably took it into your office to use. That’s probably where it is.” Sure enough, it was in his office, probably right where he had left it.

And of course that brings up the other problem of not being able to see something that is almost right in front you but perhaps not quite where you were expecting to see it.

If we could just put everything back where it belongs the problem would be solved, but I don’t think that is going to happen. So we will likely keep on muddling along.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

The Other Mother


If course I am remembering my precious mother today. What a blessing to have had her love, wisdom, kindness, and care for so many years. She taught me so much. She died in 2009, and I miss her very much.


But there was another mother who had an incredible impact on my life. Her name was Minnie.

After her fourth child was born, Minnie probably thought she was done raising kids, but then 7 years later, Richard arrived. I worked with Minnie at the library the summer after I graduated from high school. Richard had just been discharged from the Army and was living with them until his college classes started in the Fall. He came into the library to see her and asked her to introduce us. She did. She was gentle and kind, sweet. She loved to talk, and she had a great sense of humor. Some mothers resent the woman their son marries. But when we got married 4 years later, I believe she was very happy for us. We didn’t see her much after that because she and Richard’s dad moved to Texas and lived with a son there.

Some problem developed and she came back to California for a while and stayed with her daughter, who lived in Huntington Beach, and she spent a weekend with us, which was when this picture was taken in 1977.

She died in Texas in 1982.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Unexpected Events


Part of the devotion I read yesterday morning:

 “Awareness of Me can continue in all circumstances, no matter what happens…Don’t let unexpected events throw you off course. Rather, respond calmly and confidently, remembering that I am with you…

I was asked to put this into practice—or at least try—a couple of hours later.

I received a phone call Wednesday afternoon that the YMCA was going to resume operations and that we could once again have our aerobics class as long as there were fewer than 10 people in the facility. Yay!!! I have missed the class very much.

I am able to maintain the discipline of walking every day but I can’t manage to lift weights or do some of the other exercises that I need to do to remain strong and limber by myself.

So, I headed for aerobics class, and although we are down to 2 people—the other two women who usually attend won’t come until the danger is over—I was very excited.

I parked the car for a minute to take care of something, but when I turned the key to start the engine again, nothing happened… some weird problem with the ignition switch.

I looked in the satchel for my cell phone, and then I realized it was still fanny pack I wore the day before when I went for a walk. I couldn’t call Richard.

I always take my cell phone with me when I leave the house in the car. When you drive an old car, you never know… Except yesterday I was very distracted as I was getting ready to leave because Richard was going over this shopping list with me -- and it wasn't just a shopping list of things to buy, he wanted me to look at the prices of some stuff :  3-lb bag of onions; 10-lb bag of potatoes; are frozen vegetables on sale? If so, what kinds and how much? Is ice cream on sale? How much?

There are two stores in town , and one of them does not have an ad because they say they can’t be sure that what they order from the wholesaler will be delivered. So we have to try to figure out which store has the better price. My head was swirling from all of that and I forgot to get the phone.

I started walking to the Y, which was about a half-mile away (maybe a little farther). When I got there, I tried calling Richard from the desk phone, but he can’t hear our regular phone in his office. The number for the phone that rings by his desk is on my cell phone but is not listed in the phone book, and I can’t remember what it is. (Note to self: Put the phone number with your driver’s license !!!)

Brenda, the other woman who isn’t afraid to come to the aerobics class, was there, and she offered to drive me home after the class. We had a wonderful time exercising to the DVD and visiting. 

After the class I tried calling Richard again, and again, he didn’t hear the phone ringing. So we left, and I had her stop by my car. I turned the key, and it fired right up. I was supposed to go to the post office and the grocery store, but I decided to come back later in the afternoon and turned around and drove home.

In the end, I suppose it was good thing that I had forgotten my phone because Richard’s morning would have been disrupted, which would have thrown him off for the rest of the day.

Did I respond “calmly and confidently?” Well… sort of.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Friends in the time of COVID-19*

My good friend… no, that isn’t right--she is my bestest friend in the whole wide world–had an operation on her back in early March and has been isolated at home for about the last 8 weeks and forbidden to drive.

She grouses on the phone: “I was taking more opioids for the pain before the operation and than I am now, and I was driving just fine, and if he tells me I can’t drive because of pain meds then I am going to defy him…”

Well, fortunately, she was given the all clear to drive, but he told her to wear the brace. Not a problem.

I had a prescription that I picked up for her a couple of weeks ago and needed to give to her, and she had some things to give to me, so on her first day out and about she came by the house.

The county I live in shares a border with Arkansas and has a population of about 40,000. There is one city of about 13,000, everyone else lives on farms or in small towns of a fewer than 3,000 that are scattered along the highways 10 to 20 miles apart. So I think we have sort of thought that we might escape the virus. Silly us. At last report, there are now 4 cases of COVID-19 in our county.

Not a lot, but it is a wake-up call. It is not going to pass our rural county by. Social distancing is now a reality and isn't something we are just "thinking about doing". Consequently, the visit went a bit differently from how it normally would have gone.

I put out lawn chairs, and so when I saw her drive up, I went out and got my chair and sat down. She got out of her car and got her chair and sat down about 10 feet way. We had nice visit sitting in our lawn chairs.
 It was great to see her again.

Only problem is that I really wanted to give her a hug...


but that wasn’t going to happen.

*With apologies to the novelist Gabriel García Márquez

Thursday, March 26, 2020

A Random Act of Kindness

Living with an adult who has attention deficit disorder presents a host of difficulties. Emotions run the gamut. Frustration. Aggravation. Disappointment. Anger. The list goes on. I often feel overwhelmed, resentful, angry, critical, and accusatory, but unloading on my husband is not option. He is already beating himself up quite enough. I am lucky to have a good friend who listens.

His initial attempts to get help were mostly a disaster. He had an appointment with a local psychiatrist that went south almost immediately. The man knew nothing about attention deficit disorder and was arrogant and dismissive.

We love the nurse practitioner who handles our day-to-day medical needs, but she and the physicians at the local medical clinic are not specialized enough to prescribe the medications that work to help keep the ADD brain under control.

He had mostly given up on getting help when a lovely man (thank you Al!!) who is a friend of my best friend suggested he make an appointment with the local neurologist.

He did. She was willing to treat him and prescribe the drugs he needs.

He is not cured, not even close, but the medications have definitely improved his ability to function.

When he went to see her last week for a routine checkup, she was lamenting that she “lives on peanut butter,” but when she went to the local Walmart to get some, the peanut butter had been cleaned out.

After his appointment with her, he went shopping at Walmart. They had restocked the shelves and peanut butter was available. He wrestled with it for a minute, and then bought two jars of peanut butter and took them to her office.

My husband is a lovely man with a kind heart. I have on occasion poked gentle fun at him here (at least I hope it was gentle), so it is only fair that I should also give him a well earned hug and a public pat on the back for doing something nice for her.