Monthly Archives: December 2013

Reflections ~ My Private Wine Concierge

Courtesy Rebecca Barray, WANA Commons

Courtesy Rebecca Barray,  WANA Commons

The holidays.  A rollercoaster ride of special sparkly moments and dark moments of despair.  Maybe not despair, exactly.  More like tharn.  I love that word (by its original definition in Watership Down).  In any case, holidays can be a bit of a ride.  Most of the time, I try to seek out the things that tickle me. Such as my own private wine concierge.

While my husband and I were living in Calgary, we rented a home that had a jet tub. It was a lovely, huge thing with built-in jets. Since I am one of many with chronic back pain, this was my landing place when I returned from work each day.  My dear husband would bring me a glass of wine and set the table for dinner while I read and massaged a sore back.  Because I had mentioned this ritual at work at some point, my co-workers and I shared a goodnight that included something to the effect of “time for bubbles and wine.”

Then came May in 2011 when sometime between getting up to rush to the airport and arriving in Victoria, BC, my husband’s mind went away – forever.  Which changed the whole game.  On our return I was informed that he always brought wine to “her” while “she” was in the tub.  Did I want wine?  Was this kind okay?  It’s “hers,” you know.  However, the tradition held.

Then we moved back to the States and the jet tub became a memory.  I still, however, require some hot water therapy to ease my back at night.  And, for more than a year, the tradition continued.  When that time of day came (occasionally before), he would come into the bathroom with a glass of wine.  Sometimes it was mine, sometimes “hers;” in any case it arrived.

Then some subtle changes started to take place.  He couldn’t remember if he had presented a glass, so another would show up.  Or, I would expect one and one would not appear.  Or, I would ask for one and instead I would get a wine glass with juice – or an iced tea glass of wine.  If I asked for it there was some confusion about what it was I was asking for.  I couldn’t just go pick up the glass that had been there since breakfast, no, no, he wanted to bring it.  I finally arrived at the conclusion that it arrived or it didn’t and if it didn’t, well what’s another half dozen (fill in over the counter pain thing).

One morning this past week, however, we added a new trick.  I am usually out of the shower by the time he is dressed and ready for breakfast.  On this morning I was a bit slow and he waved as he passed the bathroom door.  Then he returned. With a glass of wine.  Wine in the shower.  At 5 in the morning.  Interesting concept.  But, well, I prefer coffee.  Sigh.  Somehow the sorcerer’s apprentice has managed to bewitch my personal concierge!

It is times like these that I get tickled.  Somewhere in that mind of his he remembers something precious he wants to do for me and my comfort.  It just doesn’t make it out into the real world in quite the same shape it used to.  It is also these moments that I tuck away, well cling to.  Then when I really want to run out into the street and scream obscenities at the universe about the insanity of it all – I can enjoy a private chuckle about the insanity of it all.

So, there you have it.  A tale of love that somehow manages to survive identity crises and moments of incomprehension.  Oh, and no.  I did not drink an entire ice tea glass of wine before dinner.  If dealing with dementia is part of your life, you should check out my little book, Who I Am Yesterday.  It’s a place I share what has worked for me, and what hasn’t, as I learn to be a caregiver and still be me.  Whoever I may be.


Filed under Caregiving Backstage

Reflections ~ Snow is Magic

Front SmallA strange statement from a person who lived in Calgary, Alberta for five years.  There, snow was magic for the first, oh, two hours and mostly on a weekend.  Most of the time it was inconvenient, annoying, even dangerous.  I remember one “first of the season” storm when I was still riding the bus.  I walked in my front door around 1:30 in the morning.  Nope, not all that magical. But, sometimes, Snow is Magic.

The holidays can be a bit odd around my home.  My husband’s dementia requires that I maintain routine as much as possible to reduce confusion and disruption.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Christmas.  I love finding interesting and needful things for the people in my circle.  I even have a pile of Christmas cards somewhere in this office that should find their way to the postal service in the next few days.  But that is all “somewhere else.”  Here inside our home things are very quiet.  That is, until it snowed.

houses smallWe now live in the Pacific Northwest.  It doesn’t snow all that much here.  In fact, we can go a whole winter without seeing so much as a flake.  I haven’t missed it, as you can imagine, until it snowed.

Friday morning, as it became light enough to see outside, I realized that we had received enough snow for it to stick.  Everywhere.  And suddenly the magic of the season invaded my heart, my mind, my home.  I’m ready to put up our twinkling little tree and work through a menu that I know my husband will eat even though Rock Cornish Hens and some of the other sauce-covered dishes would go untouched.  I always get him something for Christmas, some small thing that does not disrupt his sense of what is his.  He doesn’t do all that well with new anything.  However Einstein is his superhero so Einstein calendars are always a hit (even if time is something that is beyond his grasp).  Sometimes we find there is a way to touch the past, as we did during that brief, bright moment last year.

Our street exhibits a number of light shows.  One of the nights I had to drive him around the block so he could “come home” he remarked on all the commotion.  I mentioned that it was Christmas and some people liked to celebrate by decorating their homes.  Teaching the unteachable, learning not to blame or frustrate, finding peace in little things.  That is what the season is about, right? Finding peace?

So, you see, holidays usually march their quiet way through our lives, noticed but not necessarily absorbed in every aspect.  But, then it snowed.  And the magic filled our home.

I have a tradition this time of year, to spend time thinking on the ways that I can make the world a slightly better place, in some small way.  You might want to check out some previous posts.  One quotes one of the most enduring statements of “things desired,” the Desiderata, one talks about ways we can help others by spreading a bit of magic into their lives.

Tree Small Have a Merry Christmas, Blessed Yule and solstice, (belated) Hanukah, Boxing Day and New Year.  Wherever and whatever you celebrate remember to look for the magic.  And pass it around.  Yes, Snow is Magic.


Filed under Caregiving Backstage

Reflections ~ Understanding Choices

I very rarely “reblog.”  I believe, I suppose, in using my little space to express how the world impacts my thoughts, dreams, desires.  There are times, however, when the words of another touch you so deeply there is very little else to say.  One of my best online friends and a thinker of great depth (and, at times, genuine humor), please meet Rhonda Little.



Filed under Humanties for the Unbound Mind, Personal Journeys

I am the Captain of my fate…

I remember the days of Apartheid and all of the conflicting feelings I had at the time. Knowing something of the history of the continent I really did want to see those with roots in the deep past take more control without throwing out the generations of people who had lived, worked, bled and died for countries they thought of as their own. Being an American, I understand how deeply I feel for my home even though I know that my ancestors created heartache and pain, and sometimes utter destruction, for those who were here before.  It is my home, not Switzerland, England, Ireland, Germany or Croatia.  I truly know no other than this battered and often arrogant land.

Mandela, I believe,  seemed to understand something of the balance; something of the historical claim of both kinds of “natives.”  He also understood that your victory can be a very vacuous and self-destructive one if, once you’ve won, you do unto others as they have done to you.  He understood that breaking the cycle of hatred begins at home, with “me.”

There is a quote from his life and a powerful film about his early years as a leader. The movie starring Morgan Freemen, Invictus (Latin for unconquered), is an amazing snap shot of a life lived to free a country.   The poem by William Ernest Henley is here quoted in its entirety:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

We should all remember that – it is a choice, but an important one – to accept responsibility for the choices we make and not place the blame or praise entirely at another’s feet.   Choose to be a force in this world that heals, that supports, that cares. Whatever faith you practice, you choose what kind of impact you make on this world.  Choose well.

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Filed under Humanties for the Unbound Mind, My Bookshelf ~ Current times, Personal Journeys, Poetry

Andrew Johnson – Do you know where he was in September 1866?

Here is a history mystery for my readers.  My friend, Edward Frank, is working on a documentary film about the Black Guides of Mammoth Cave.  In his research he came across a reference that Andrew Johnson had visited the cave during one of his campaign swings.  However, he cannot find any confirmation.  Any one care to jump in and help sort this out?

Black Guides of Mammoth Cave



Andrew Johnson.



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Filed under My Bookshelf ~ Current Era

Reviews ~ Unsung Ladylike (and not so Ladylike) Women of Note

4,000 Years of Uppity Women by Vicki Leon  Available for around $11.00

UppityThere is one aisle I should never, ever visit at Barnes and Noble; but oh the treasurers I would miss.  I really can’t walk into one of those stores without browsing up and down the bargain aisle.  Not only are there delightful treasures, but they are at such tempting prices.  Even though I’m now in publishing and know what those discounts mean to the author; well, they’re irresistible.  This past week I finally had an opportunity to check out one of those bargains and had a few much needed giggles.

Leon has created a little book of vignettes about the life and times of a number of women from the past.  This is a rollicking quick read.  It is obviously well researched.  You are introduced to the antics of ruler and slave, mistress and bored wife, business woman, intellectual, highway robber, patriot, nun and scoundrel.  Some of these women were way ahead of their time; some just made the best use possible of the available resources.  Here are a few of these windows on the past.

Fabiola, an early Christian.  Long before the Nightingale of the Crimean war, Fabiola established the first free public hospital in the Western world.  She didn’t wait for her patients to come to her – she went out and found them.

Back in the time of Alchemists, and interesting lady named Mary Prophetissa not only contributed much to the science of chemistry, she is the inventor of the double boiler.  It must have been very helpful boiling and brewing all those potions.

I loved the robbers and pirates, the brave patriots and Australian who arrived as a criminal and ended up on a $20 bill.  I learned that Betsy Ross did not create the Old Glory that inspired Francis Scott Key was one Baltimore widow named Mary Young Pickersgill.  She created a wool flag that was 42 feet long and 30 feet wide.  It used 400 yards of material and weighed 85 pounds.  Pickersgill’s handwritten invoice was $405.90.

A couple of other ladies never mentioned in such rousing poetry as Paul Revere is a lady who road on horseback for 10 miles alerting the country folk of an impending attack (Mr. Revere didn’t make it that far) and a Quaker woman who bluffed her way through enemy lines to warn Washington of an impending attack.  Never lying through her bluffing or through her integration (evidently the right questions were not asked) she was still kicked out of the Friends for being too involved in the war.

Many bits and pieces of the high and the really low, the celibate and those who found their identity less focused on the opposite sex, or not focused at all.  Each and every one had an impact on her times and some far into the future.  It’s a great short read and I highly recommend it.


Filed under Humanties for the Unbound Mind, My Bookshelf ~ Before Current Era, My Bookshelf ~ Current Era