Last evening, daughter one came for a quick visit.
She was within 110 miles on another mission and decided to come on over, even if just overnight. She has to be home by noon today.
We had a good visit. She and I went down to visit my friend David who is recovering from surgery. We talked about kids and grandkids. We laughed. I bragged about one of my grandkids who has a real bent for words. I showed daughter some writing that the grandkid had done, but in reading it I learned way too much.
It is hard to know if grandkid had not figured on me reading, or if she was really sort of bragging. I don’t know, but some illusions went.
Grandpas and dads have funny, rather illogical hearts. We wound easily, probably when and in ways we shouldn’t, but we never really get over that illogic.
Years ago a friend informed me that she was living with two guys. One was a Christian and one was Gay, so there was nothing to “fear.” Later I found out that was not quite right. She was sleeping with the “Christian” and the other guy was not there most of the time.
I also learned some other details of my friend’s life that were quite unnerving to me. That night, I tried so hard to sleep, but sleep would not come. That was a long time ago, but I have not forgotten that night of non-sleep.
Grandpas and dads are not stupid, but we hardly never informed, or allowed to find honest answers. Most of the time we don’t even know the question. We live a blind mirage of life. We just live in our bubble.
For the most part that is good, I guess. One daughter had a husband that was physical with her. She divorced him, but I did not find out about any of that physical stuff for another couple of decades. “Dad would not like it.”
So last night was another sleepless night. Today is church day. I’ll go for the first hour then I’ll come home. My pastor’s sermons are easily forgettable, so I’ll not miss too much, most likely. Miriam will want to stay for church and will scold me. I’ll get her a ride home.
And maybe I’ll go down and share some time with David. He is one of the few I can really talk to. He is both a father and a grandfather. He will understand more than he wishes.
First my friend Lloyd's house caught on fire. In the process of doing what he could to control it, he burned his hands pretty thoroughly. Big ugly blisters. He went to the Doc who modified Lloyd's methods and his hand should heal.
This week he has had insurance people and contractors and probably a lot of people he did not know he needed to be in touch with. Oh well.
Houses you can fix, but bodies are not always fixable.
The the diagnosis of my friend David.
Not sure of all the implications, and not sure about the treatment, but at this point it looks grim. People have walked away from worse illnesses and I hope and pray he will too.
Email from a friend a couple hundred miles from here. His message was that it was going to be such a wonderful day and to enjoy it. But he lives a couple hundred miles away. Today was cool and windy and no sun at all.
One of my favorite gardeners is my neighbor Elvin.
My valley is the home of one of the larger hybrid corn seed producers in our country. Elvin was the president of this multi-million dollar company.
Weeds simply were not allowed in his garden. There were none. Since he was the president of a corn seed company, corn was his main crop and his corn was the very best. Years ago I was invited to get corn from his garden for our use. Corn is never so good as when it is taken from the garden and put right into the oven or pot (I prefer to roast sweet corn in the oven, the corn in it's husk).
I have learned so much by watching him. Last year I made notes on what I was seeing.
When Elvin retired a some years ago he sold the place to his son in law Terry, but Elvin kept the sizable garden going.
Elvin has buried two wives, but has been pretty healthy, but each year he says that might be his last. This winter was not good to him and it looks truly like he won't be back this year for sure.
I will miss visiting with him. I will miss watching (and asking) about his technique and choices.
He took medicine for one health issue and it messed up another part of his nearly 80 year old body. There is too much of that in this life.
I am always intrigued by the ways people use old boats that won't float any longer. Some just decorate the landscape, this one was part of that decoration. At the same time, I have wondered how one could use old car bodies so nobly.
In my mid 70's, I think I am younger and tougher than I really am. Putting sheetrock on the ceiling really was a lot of very tiring work, but I got it done, finally. Today I should finish all the sheetrock. Walls go a LOT faster.
So, yesterday dinner time snuck up on me. I went into the kitchen, looked in the refer. There was about a cup of beans from a few days ago, so I made a couple of bean/sour cream/cheese/whateverelseicouldfind burritos. I had some boiled potatoes, so I chopped them, added mushrooms and diced red bell peppers. Then I put together a small green salad.
When I plated the food I put a sprig of parsley on each of the potato servings.
It was a decent, fast meal.
When it was over Miriam looked at me and said: "Good dinner Papa."
She does not call me Papa often and while she never complains, it is rare that she offers any real compliments.
We both spent a fair amount of time looking for the pan with the cookie dough. Finally I found it in the bottom of the refrigerator, buried in the back.
Yesterday I brought it out and suggested she continue the project.
She has a cook book that has a list of basic "mixes" that can be manipulated to any number of final recipes. The problem is that you have a recipe for the mix (both full size batch and half) and a hundred pages later, what to add to this mix to get the desired cookies.
Today she fussed and fussed with all of that. I was busy with other things and let her continue. Finally she was in tears of frustration. She would turn to one page and the other and repeat and confound. So I divided the dough, dumped it into the mixer bowl and added the ingredients that I guessed were missing. I kept assuring her that I would eat cookies no matter what! If they did not stick together we would use them as topping on our Muesli.
It took a bit of trial and error and a few samples that went "away," before we got it workable.
She finished baking them later, but she never really settled down, but continued to fuss and fuss about it all.
Of course, all of that will be erased from her memory today.
When we do cookies again, I'll do the mix, or maybe everything but the liquids.
I don't know. This is very frustrating to her and as such it grieves me too.
I was up. I saw it was a good friend and cheerfully answered. "We had a bit of excitement here last night." He began.
My mind went much faster than his words. He did not sound like his wife had a major medical problem, or that he fell down the stairs.
"We had a little fire in our house last night." My friend is in his middle 80's and while he is tough and healthy there is no shortage of things that can go wrong.
Later in the day my friend David and I went out to visit to make sure they were OK.
The fire started under the framing next to the all steel fireplace. He liked the wood heat and the warmth it provided in the family room. Probably the unit was faulty from the beginning, and now after 15 or more years, it all came together.
When he first saw the smoke he got out a new garden hose his daughter had given him a few years earlier, but was still in it's original wrappings in the garage. That was a crucial thing. He quickly attached the hose and started watering the smoke.
When he thought he had it under control, he had his wife go ahead and go to bed upstairs. He, however, decided he would sleep in his recliner, so he could be there.
He kept smelling smoke, and when he saw a wisp of smoke come up from the corner of the hearth, he got into action. He got a crowbar and began taking things apart and watering everything at the same time. When he opened up the floorboard a bit, angry flames poured out of the until then oxygen starved fire.
He put the hose into the hole and began spraying everything. In the process he got some nasty 2nd degree burns on his hands. Somewhere in the middle of all of this he got his wife up, and called the fire department. They missed his driveway and were delayed a few minutes.
By the time they arrived he had the flames out.
I am not a firefighter, but it seems that they narrowly avoided a terrible disaster. There are so many "what if's" that the story has no end. The hose; staying up; that first wisp of smoke; the location of the fire; and on and on.
He had planned on painting the inside of the house this year, and now it will be done for sure. There will be remodeling and repair. The fireplace will go away. Wife wants nothing that can start a fire. They will recover and be alright.
This blog began as a spot to vent about my life with Miriam and her time with Alzheimer's disease.
She was diagnosed in '99 and her decline has been quite slow. In fact some of our best years of our long marriage have been these recent years.
Alzherimer's, at least her version is a disease of waiting. One shoe drops and it can be a very long time before the other one drops.
So life goes on.
At the beginning of this blog I told the story of our courtship and marriage, about out family and our personal journey with this disease. The part that scares the most is the anticipation as the disease slowly progresses.
So, I will touch on that subject from time to time, but the entries will tend toward comments on life. I'll leave politics and religion for others to worry about, not that I don't have strong opinions!
I have my hands full just looking after my wonderful Miriam.
We met when we were 6, began dating at 15 and have been together since. We will have our 56th anniversary this June.
We have four wonderful daughters. Smart, independent, awesome. They have given us 7 grandsons and 4 granddaughters. None of them are little any more. The oldest is 28 and married, the youngest is 14.
Until this last fall we lived in a hosue I designed and built in the '70's and it is pretty weird and wild, but very comfortable. Last summer the girls came to the conclusion that I really did need help dealing with Miriam. Now we live on a couple acres with daughter 1.
Life has been good. There is not much I would do different even if I could. We are rich beyond belief but chronically short of cash!
And, unless stated otherwise all the photographs are mine.