Tags: Dementia, family, Groundhog Day
I’ve seen my potential future and it scares the hell out of me.
Scenario A: Catching a horrific disease and dying a slow, painful death while your mind is intact enough to know what’s going on around you and you’re helpless to change the outcome.
Scenario B: Suffering from one of the bazillion forms of Dementia, where your body is intact but your brain becomes Swiss Cheese and you can’t remember friends or family that you’ve known your entire life.
Either of these two scenarios is frightening.
My Dad was Scenario A.
My Mom is Scenario B.
If I talk to my Mom one day about coming for a visit and talk to her again the next day, she’s forgotten all about our conversation, yet is very excited at the ‘new’ news. That’s not a big deal. It happens with aging – just like it’s easy to misplace an article of clothing or call one child by your other child’s name.
Dementia is a funny thing. The easiest way I can think of to describe it is by comparing the disease to a computer disk that has bad sectors. Every day, all day, data is written on the disk as it constantly spins round and round. When the disk is in good condition, i.e., when you’re younger, everything works as it’s supposed to. Dementia however, is like having bad sectors on the disk. When information is stored in the bad sectors it can’t be recalled or gets misinterpreted. The older one gets and the worse the Dementia becomes, the more bad sectors appear on the disk. Suddenly, everyday tasks become difficult – like making yourself a meal. You’ve forgotten how. It’s more than just forgetting a recipe or an ingredient; I mean you don’t have a clue how to work the stove any longer. It’s frustrating. You stare at the knobs on the stove to no avail. You’re pretty sure you were able to do it yesterday.
You begin to repeat yourself. You begin to repeat yourself. Within the same conversation the same sentence can be said five or more times. That is, when you can get the words to tumble out of your mouth in an order that someone can understand. Sometimes you just utter gibberish. And you get frustrated. You think you’re stupid.
You’ll fixate on something – like a picture on the wall that is crooked. You’ll mention it to your kids when they call. Ten times. In ten minutes. Each time seeming to you like the first time because you don’t remember telling anyone about it before. You will deny that you’ve mentioned the source of your fixation before. Your life will become “Groundhog Day”, repeating the same things over and over again, except unlike the Bill Murray movie – you won’t get a chance to make it right.
Paranoia creeps in like a shadow. You know for certain that someone has been in your room and used your phone or watched your television when you were out. It’s not right you’ll say. You’ll look around the room and ‘see’ things that someone has moved. It will be difficult to understand that no one did. You’ll argue that you’re right, because you know you are.
You can’t sleep at night. Everything seems to wake you up and you’re exhausted the next day which depletes your reserves and makes your condition worse. No one understands you or what you’re facing but you relish the sympathy.
That’s a brief snapshot of what my Mom’s going through. I talk to her several times a week and visit nearly every weekend. It’s so exhausting and depressing. I can’t have a normal conversation with her. I try not to be frustrated or short with her, but it can be difficult sometimes. I know it’s not her fault. Some days are better than others, but they’re all more or less the same and it will never get better. I want my Mom back.
I have read a bit about Dementia and the disease itself is worrisome (a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing). Bit by bit it seems to take away pieces of who you used to be. Dementia can lead to depression (both for the patient and those who support them), confusion, frustration, anxiety, and disorientation. The symptoms are heightened during times of stress (when my Father passed, my Mom was a mess – however that’s not a good example).
So we wait for the inevitable, hoping in the meantime she’ll get better, knowing she never will. We’ll have to live day by day because that’s all my Mom can do – she doesn’t remember yesterday.
Tags: babies, birthday, cancer, depression, family, kids
He had Metastatic Prostate Cancer which spread to his bones, and I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.
It was quite a shock, how quickly he left us. It still seems surreal and I’m still numb. Just a week ago I was with him and I was taking him for a walk around his new home – a long-term care facility – in his wheelchair. He winced when we went over even the smallest bump in the pavement. When we went from the sidewalk to the pavement, he groaned. He stopped speaking. He was so thin.
He never complained though. It wasn’t his style.
Two weeks ago he would talk rather animatedly when my Brother and I came to visit. He had many things to tell me. I wish I stopped to listen. At the time it seemed repetitive. He would start a sentence and when he got to the end, he would begin again – very nearly saying the same exact thing over again.
I would love to hear his voice again.
Mom would pester him. In their room she would wheel him beside her chair – she barely able to move him because she’s frail herself but she had to look after him – that was her job. They were four weeks short of their 56th Wedding Anniversary, and he two months shy of his 92nd Birthday. He died on my Birthday – nearly at the same hour at night that I was born.
He was my Superman. Cancer was his Kryptonite.
He loved his family. He was an amazing Grandfather – when my girls were small they were a bit shy when my Parents came over because my Mom would squeal and try to smother them in kisses and hugs; my Dad was the patient one. He would get down to their level, on one knee, smile at them and talk to them very softly. He would always win them over and they would go to him, they were Poppy’s Pets. They adored him.
My daughter Lexy has his smile.
He was a family man. He couldn’t catch a break when my brother and I were young. For many years he could only find occasional work – a typical story for a blue-collar immigrant with a grade school education. On my second birthday he finally landed a full-time job making $1 an hour – a veritable fortune.
My parents didn’t have a lot of money when I was a child – though it never felt like we had to do without – my Dad made a lot of the furniture pieces they needed. I’ve inherited some of them. For years I’ve had a three-legged, kidney-shaped table in my living room that my Dad made – I always tell the girls to be careful with it because it is older than I am. They were always skeptical, but someday they’ll understand. I hope the piece survives long enough for one of them to take it when they get older.
He didn’t sweat the small stuff. Somehow everything would work itself out. He’d been through too much in his life to let many things bother him.
He was always proud of my accomplishments especially when he walked me down the aisle when I married Alex, though his feet hurt so much in his rented shoes that he wouldn’t dance with me.
He was funny. He had a lot of corny jokes which we always laughed at.
He was proud of his Danish heritage. He was one of the few people I know who could stomach Akvavit. It’s hard thinking of him in the past tense.
I promised him that we would move him to a facility closer to where we live. We had it planned so that the girls would be able to see my parents more – that we could visit a couple of times a week. He really wanted that. I knew he was sick, but I didn’t expect him to go so fast.
There are so many things left unsaid.
I love you, Dad.
Tags: Fall Food, Meatloaf, Recipes, Yummy
It’s hard to think that cooler weather will soon be here when it’s still so hot during the day. With the exception of my Pot-loving neighbour out back, it’s been a great year to keep the windows and back door open in the evening to catch the cool breeze. Too much air conditioning can be a bother. With the cooler weather approaching, I’m yearning to hibernate. While I can’t actually do that, I can begin to fatten myself up (like I need more padding) for the upcoming Winter by preparing some of my favourite long-cooking foods I grew up with (hence the need for no more self-padding).
I’ve said it before that my Mom was an amazing cook and she taught my Brother and I well. Without realizing the tremendous gift she was giving us at the time – her knowledge and recipes; it’s taken years to truly appreciate what she gave us. With my Mom’s memory quickly fading, it’s been very important to my Brother and I to try to remember as many of her recipes as we can.
Both of my Parents are now in a long-term care facility about an hour and a quarter away from where we live. I go up every weekend to visit because I can’t bear the thought of them being alone up there for long. On these trips, my Brother and I naturally have a lot of time to chat and catch up and invariably our conversations always turn to food. We both love cooking and eating and experimenting with new flavours, but always we return to the classics. Like my Mom’s Meatloaf…. I made it for the first time a couple of weeks ago and the girls loved it. It was requested again this weekend.
I’m glad I have this blog. One day it will be a trove of family recipes for my girls to try, and some funny anecdotes from their childhood. Please indulge me as I share another recipe. As typical of my Mom’s style of cooking, a lot of the seasonings were added ‘to taste’. You might have to adjust some of the measurements to your liking, after all it’s hard to measure a ‘taste’.
– 1 Pound Lean Ground Beef
– ½ Pound Ground Pork
– ½ Medium Onion, Finely Diced
– 2-3 Large Cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
– A good squirt of ‘The Keg’ Steak Sauce (approx. 1-2 tablespoons) – ‘HP Sauce can be substituted
– A good squirt of your favourite bottled BBQ sauce that’s a bit smoky rather than tangy or sweet (I use ‘Sticky Fingers’)
– 1 Large Egg, Beaten
– 1 Palmful of Breadcrumbs (hard to measure because it depends how moist your mix is, but start with a couple of tablespoonsful and add more if needed), or a couple of Soda Crackers crushed
– 1 tsp Paprika
– ½ tsp Smoked Paprika
– 1 tsp Garlic Powder
– 1 tsp Oregano
– Several grinds of fresh Black Pepper
– ½ tsp coarse salt
– ½ tsp Cumin
– A pinch of Turmeric (optional)
– 1 Tsp dried Rosemary, crumbled or chopped
– 8-10 whole Black Peppercorns
– 1 medium Onion, quartered
– 1 medium Roma (Plum) Tomato, quartered
– 3 cups Water
– 5 packages ‘OXO’ Bouillon Sachets
– 4 slices Bacon, cut in half
For the gravy:
– 4 tablespoons flour
– 2 heaping tablespoons ‘Bisto Gravy Maker’
– Enough water to form a slurry
In a large bowl, mix the Beef, Pork, Seasonings (except Rosemary and whole Peppercorns), diced Onions, minced Garlic, Keg sauce, BBQ sauce, Breadcrumbs and the beaten Egg. Mix well to incorporate, but don’t over-mix or it will toughen the meat. If your mix is too moist, add a bit more Breadcrumbs. If it’s too dry, add a bit of BBQ sauce. Form the Meat into an oval-ish loaf shape and place in a covered roasting pan which has been sprayed with vegetable oil. The Meat should retain its shape. Add the quartered Onion, quartered Tomato, whole Peppercorns and the Rosemary to the pan around the Meat, not on top of it. Put in the fridge to allow the seasonings to fully permeate and marinate the loaf for at least an hour, up to overnight if you have the time.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Take the Meatloaf in the pan out of the fridge while the oven is pre-heating and you prepare the next step.
In a small saucepan, heat the Water almost to boiling and turn off the heat. Stir in the Bouillon and allow to cool for 10 minutes. When ready to put the Meatloaf in the oven, carefully pour the Bouillon water into the pan so that it fills no more than half-way up the side of the Meatloaf. Bake, covered, in the oven for ½ hour. Remove from oven and carefully place the Bacon strips over the top of the loaf so that they cover the entire surface without overlapping. Increase the temperature to 375°F and place the pan, covered, in the oven for an hour, rotating the pan half way during the hour (if you have a convection oven you don’t need to rotate the pan).
After the hour is up, remove the pan from the oven, take off the lid and place the pan back in the oven to crisp the Bacon, about ½ hour. When the bacon has browned and begun to crisp, remove from the oven, transfer the Meatloaf to a platter and cover with foil. Allow to rest while you make the Gravy.
Begin by skimming off some of the Grease – get what you can, but don’t worry if you can’t get it all, it adds flavour. Place the roasting pan over a burner on medium heat and allow the liquid to approach boiling then reduce to a hard simmer. If you wish, remove the cooked Tomato and all- or most-of the cooked Onion, and the Peppercorns (I only remove the Tomato), but don’t and I’m serious about this, don’t remove the scraps of Meatloaf and Meat Juices which are floating around the pan – that’s flavour baby!
In a mug combine the Flour and Bisto and enough Water to make a thick Slurry. Mix well to eliminate lumps. You can also place the ingredients in a Mason Jar and shake the heck out of it… When the liquid has stared to boil, add about ⅓ of the Slurry, ensuring you whisk briskly to avoid lumps and incorporate into the Gravy. Allow to cook for a few minutes to cook off the raw Flour taste. If the Gravy isn’t as thick as you’d like, add more Slurry and cook again. Taste the Gravy and adjust seasonings if you wish.
Slice the Meatloaf into ½ inch slices. Serve with Mashed Potatoes and Broccoli in Cheese Sauce. So incredibly good. Enjoy :)
Happy Champagne Birthday, beautiful girl :)
It’s hard to imagine that my biggest-little one is not a little kid anymore, but a fabulous, bright young lady. I hope you know how proud I am of you. I write about your strengths and your stories and accomplishments, because you amaze me all the time. I don’t know if I’ve ever told you that you have my Dad’s smile. I realized that one day when you were standing there smiling at me, just happy to see me, that it was the same as your Poppy’s.
I hope you know how much we love you. You’re a wonderful daughter and a great big sister and we’re so lucky to have you in our lives.
Never stop singing.
Tags: eldercare, parents, sandwich generation
Somehow the years slipped by when I wasn’t looking and here I am nearly 50 with two beautiful, growing Daughters of my own. Not quite the future I imagined. I used to be this Gen-X party girl, a part of the MTV-Generation who loved 80s music, going to concerts, had big hair, and loved parties. Now I’m one of the many in the so-called “Sandwich Generation”. I have my own family to take care of, and I am helping look after my aging parents.
I don’t mind. They looked after me for the nearly 20 years I lived with them. They continued to look after me when I moved out because I was never good with money and always ran short.
When I was a little kid, I remember running across fields, holding my Dad’s hand and it always felt like we were flying. He would have been in his early 50s then and he was invincible – to me anyway. My parents had me later in life. Whenever someone asks how old my other siblings are, I tell them that I have a sister who is 21 years older than me, and a brother who is five years older than me.
Then the stare starts…
Then you see the wheels inside their heads spinning as they try to figure this out…
I let them off the hook. “I was an ‘oops’…” I’d tell them.
“Ohhhhh….” They’d always answer.
To further confuse things, I’d often mention that my Mom and my Sister were pregnant at the same time and I have a niece who is eight days older than me. Back in the 60s that must have been embarrassing. That’s how I always felt any time I was in my Sister’s presence. I shouldn’t have been born. What was Mom thinking?? How could she do that, she was supposed to be a Grandmother, not a Mother again…
My parents were in the height of their ‘careers’ when I was little. My Parents were blue collar workers all their lives. We didn’t really have much growing up, but it never seemed like we did without. My Mom worked as a sales clerk at K-Mart for too many years. She worked hard to make a living and bring home money so that we (my brother and I) could have what we needed. My Sister was long out of the house with her own family at this point.
My Mom used to take in sewing on the side to help make ends meet. I remember she worked as a dressmaker for some time and she would have clients come round to our old house in Riverdale for fittings. I remember she would have them stand in front of a floor length mirror that my Dad made for her. I would watch from the doorway because I wasn’t allowed to come in while she was working.
My eldest Daughter now has that mirror. I can picture Lexy in my mind, older, getting ready for a date and admiring herself in my Mom’s mirror.
After I moved out in my late teens, my Mom sent home countless meals she lovingly prepared, so that my apartment fridge would be well stocked. My Mom was the best home cook I ever knew. She taught me so many of her wonderful recipes and instilled a love of food and cooking in me from an early age.
Now My Mom has dementia and can’t remember how to use a stove. She has Diabetic Nerve Damage and can’t open a jar or a tin. Some days she doesn’t know who my daughter is. Once she forgot who I am… there is a disconnect that is hard to deal with sometimes – yet other days, she’s so lucid and can remember most things that I’ve long forgotten. It amazes me how the brain works.
My Dad was a Carpenter for most of his life. He started out in Grenå, Denmark as a Rope Maker by trade. There wasn’t that much call for that profession during ‘The Great Depression’, so he pretty much did whatever odd job he could do to survive. My Dad was one of 15 kids – Winters in Denmark were pretty cold back at the turn of the last Century. He had two sets of twin brothers, three of the four dying before they were a year old. His Mother was his Father’s second wife and when my Grandfather died (of a back ‘ailment’) in the 1930s, he left my Grandmother to raise nearly a dozen children on her own. A poor, fisherman’s daughter. There were no TLC shows to help out back then.
My Dad is now the last one of his siblings left.
When Dad moved to Canada in the 1950s he switched to Carpentry. He found that trade much easier to find odd jobs then it was to work with Hemp. He was quite skilled. I have several pieces he made with his hands that I will always cherish. He could take apart anything made from wood and refinish it so that its natural beauty shone through. He could name any tree by looking at the bark, or the leaves. He knew the type of tree by the wooden planks in the store – he’d tell me, “Look, this one’s Oak” or he’d say “that’s Mahogany, it’s a beautiful piece”, while running his hand deftly over the lumber. He’d often tell me what his plans were for the next project when he needed to make something for the house during one of our many trips to the lumber yard. When we cleared out the house they lived in since the late-80s, we came across the odds and ends of amazingly beautiful pieces of wood that were still sitting there … waiting for the next project.
In 1985 when my Great-Nephew was born, my Dad built a cradle for him out of old skids that he would bring home from work. He dressed the boards and uncovered beautiful pine planks. He used a couple of pieces of solid Oak for the runners. There was not a single nail in it – dowels and glue and dove-tail joints. He crafted it after an 18th Century French Canadian design. My Mother bought a beautiful layette for it. It was the most beautiful thing I ever saw. My Dad was so proud of the piece.
My Niece wanted to use it as a planter.
My Mom was always the tough one in our family. I think her Mother raised her that way. She had it hard as a child, growing up in East Prussia, having to escape to Germany during the Second World War. My Grandmother would sternly tell her, “Don’t cry”. “Stand straight”. “Eat your dinner”. “Keep neat”. “Don’t make a mess”.
My Dad was always the soft one, with me anyway. He’s the one I would snuggle up to when I was sick with a fever and just needed some comfort. He’s the one who would fix my toys when I was too careless with them and broke them (usually by throwing them at my Brother). He was the one who started up his table saw at 8:00 on a Saturday morning and to this day, the smell of sawdust makes me smile, and a little sad. He helped me with my homework – my favourite memories of when he tried to help me do my English homework, listening to him pronounce the words with his Danish accent. He was my Superman.
Now he needs help getting out of bed and he can hardly talk.
When he speaks, he does so with great difficulty, as though he is drunk. His legs no longer work the way they should. He needs a walker to get around but he is still very unstable. When he tries to hold a fork or a cup of coffee, his arm wavers greatly from side to side – spilling everything, he’s unable to control his fine motor skills.
It’s as though his warranty has expired.
Even as late as last year they were saying that the only way they would leave their beautiful house in the country was in a pine box. Now we are looking at long-term care facilities to become their new homes.
My Sister was looking after them for the past year and a bit, because my parents moved to be closer to her. She was their primary caregiver – she would drive them to doctor’s appointments, do their laundry, bring them meals – anything they needed. About a month ago, my Sister had a Stroke. They said it was a mild one but we don’t think she will ever be like she was. She is doing better now, but she has a long, long road ahead.
So it’s up to my Brother and I to step up. It’s not like we haven’t helped out before, it’s just the amount of care needed by us has greatly increased. My Brother used to go up on weekends and a week during the Summer to take care of their property for years when they were still in their house. Now he and I go up every weekend to take my Mom grocery shopping and bring her homemade meals that my Brother or I have made for them to replenish their stock.
They have home care people who come to the house on a daily basis to make sure their day-to-day needs are looked after. It’s not enough. They are on a waiting list to get my Dad into a long-term facility, we’re hoping Mom with go with him. They’ve been married for nearly 56 years; it would be detrimental to their health to be separated now.
We are hoping that their new facility will be closer to where we live so we don’t need to spend nearly three hours each time travelling back and forth. It made sense when my Sister was well to have them live near her, but that situation has changed. My Sister is 69, she’s allowed to slow down.
I hope we’ll find something soon. My Dad needs daily care and my Mom needs company of other people her own age. My Brother and I need to be able to not worry about them – at least not in the same way. We need to be comfortable that we all made the right decision and they are well looked after. We will still see them weekly as much as we are able. If they are closer it will make it that much better.
Tags: ajax, Canadian, durham region, durham regional transit, idiots, metrolinx, road rage
I have a premonition that the cause of my death will be stupidity. Stupidity and the other driver who thinks he has more of a right to the road than I do at that particular moment in time. Hopefully though, I’ll get to take the idiot with me.
I can understand why people go postal. I’m only surprised there’s not more of it.
I nearly took out a motorcycle on the 401 this morning because some asshole in front of me driving a Tempo … a FORD for Heaven’s sake, but I digress. Anyway, this idiot decided not only did he need to switch lanes after I had already signaled and began moving into the lane, but I was infringing on his God-given right to be in front of the line. Keep in mind this is happening at highway speeds and I had to back off and move over to avoid a collision. Then he decided to move over in front of me and slam on the brakes – to ‘teach me a lesson’ (which is that he’s an idiot, thanks I knew that already). Then when I tried to get away from him again, he did the same thing – ‘whoa little lady, learn your place’. Yeah, place ‘this’ asshole (picture me performing lots of rude hand gestures right now).
I’m already in a bad mood because the second ‘specialist’ has basically told me that the pain in my back couldn’t possibly be the three big Kidney Stones bumping around, but it’s either a bad back or it’s all in my head. I so love condescension, watch me go from nice person to The Hulk in 3.5 seconds when that happens. So an episode of road rage just perfected my morning commute.
I can understand how that Tempo asshole would think I was in his space and flip me off. What I can’t understand is what happened to common decency, manners and respect for others. It seems to have gone the way of the Dodo. This is Canada. We say ‘excuse me’ when someone else bumps into us. What the fuck happened?
I’m noticing it more and more – road rage is building. I really don’t care about myself – sometimes it might be a blessing not to have to deal with shit anymore – but not when I have my kids in the car. Back off.
There is one car in Durham Region though that really annoys me. I see it every now and again because we seem to be on the road at the same time. The owner painted a slogan on the back of her beater something to the effect of ‘if you don’t back off I’ll brake check ya’. Classy. I’ve never wanted to Graffiti someone’s personal property more.
By the way, when I’m stuck behind some yahoo in a Civic doing 40 in a 60 km/h zone, crawling up my ass is not going to make all of us move faster and you’re going to further piss me off when we end up in the middle of a three-way metal-sandwich. Go ahead, hit me. Guess what? If that happens, you’ll be even later for your date with Miss Universe or your crack dealer, or you might not make it at all – now there’s a loss.
Even drive throughs are getting ridiculous. Sorry but Tim Horton’s coffee isn’t that good that you need to block the way of oncoming traffic because the drive-through line up has snaked across the parking lot. Let the other vehicles through, they’re not trying to bud in front of you.
Oh you know that new bus only lane they installed in the middle of Ajax? Guess what?!? It’s for buses only (and cars making a turn at the next entrance). It’s not your personal roadway to get ahead of the 100 cars in front of you who lined up wayyyyyy back up the hill. Last time I checked, a Prius was NOT a type of bus used by Metrolinx or Durham Regional Transit – move the fuck over and wait in line like everyone else asshole. Those ‘special’ people then try to nudge in front of my car when we get further down the line and they run out of lane … um no. If I just spent the last 10 minutes getting here, guess what, so do you.
People are so quick to flip you off. If they think you’re too close to their tail (perhaps we’re just trying to read your clever bumper stickers), out goes the middle finger. If you had to stop fast because someone dashed in front of you, there it is again.
I’ve even seen elderly people in their 80’s give other drivers the one fingered salute *smacks forehead*. It’s unreal.
Every day it’s something. All similar, but each day with a new twist. It doesn’t just happen to me, I see it happening to others as well. I’m just tired of it. And the girls wonder why I come home in such a pissy mood. I worry about their future. I hope they don’t end up so miserable and jaded like their mother.
When we’re all stuck in traffic, trying to turn right onto the main roadway, all the traffic is stopping for the red light ahead … let the person turning right into the lane in front of you please. Ending up 15 feet back further than you would have been probably won’t cause any further rifts in the time-space continuum, but you’ll be showing your Canadian colours and be polite for a change.
Tags: birthday, kids
Happy 8th Birthday, Donut :) Today is the day that you can officially give up your car booster seat. Today is the day that there will no longer be little Goat feet kicking the back of Daddy’s seat when we go for a ride somewhere. Today is the day that Momma cancels each year so that you will stay my littlest-little one, for a bit longer anyway.
You’re growing in leaps and bounds and you’re in such a hurry to grow up so you can be a big girl like your Sister, Lexy.
Always my girl, you’ve told me time and again that you’re never moving out.
I should have much more to write about you, to you, I want to tell you how proud I am of you. I want you to know that I think you are so beautiful and intelligent. I want you to know how funny and kind you are. I need you to know most of all that you are loved, without a doubt.
I hope your Birthday wishes and dreams all come true and somehow you can stay my little one for a while longer. Happy Birthday Caity :) Love Momma.
Tags: friendship, Granny's Chips, Leukemia, loss
I lost a good friend today. He was a co-worker of mine for the past ten years and we were quite close. We went through 14 different bosses together and worked late into the night to get proposals out the door, sometimes across the world, but mostly down the street. He stuck by me when my Husband was so sick with Kidney Disease and he listened to all the trials and tribulations of a Pregnant woman stuck beside him (me) – in fact, Caity used to kick excitedly whenever she heard the booming voice of ‘Uncle Randy’ – which usually made me tell him to shut up because I wanted her to go back to sleep and leave my aching ribs alone.
Randy was a giant, 6′ 6″ and his presence filled the room. He was intelligent and had a quick wit. He was worldy, having travelled much in his younger days. He was quite the man about town in his University days, and some of the stories he would tell me were probably quite scandalous at the time.
He was a Gay man who was always looking for someone to love him – and I mean that in the best possible way. He wanted companionship, love, and a lasting relationship and hey, if he was hot too, well that was just a plus ;)
He was a published author of mystery novels – Granny’s Chips was the one that made it. He planned several other books, including a sequel to his first success. He had so many ideas for different characters and story lines, and even a novel entirely in Fench.
He was Bilingual and proud of his French heritage, always trying to get me to speak it with him, but never getting much farther than ‘ca va?’ – I’m such an Anglophone.
He was cast as an extra in a couple of movies years ago – he’d be the guy sipping a coffee in a cafe scene somewhere and loved to travel. His favourite places were France and England, but loved Switzerland and Italy just as much.
His plans before he became sick last year was to go Italy, Florence and Rome, and sit in a cafe and write his novel. He even began taking Italian lessons so he would be able to get around easier.
He always thought of others even though not everyone appreciated him for the kind man he really was. He used to sneak me back some genuine Fench Macaroons or Pate d’Fois Gras for Christmas upon return from one of his yearly sojourns to Nice. I will miss being able to tell him about the events in my life, or even what’s going on at work.
He was a company man. He would argue with management about the right way to do something because he wanted the best for the group, but he was a friend first. I will miss him passing my office on the way for a smoke break and shouting ‘Heeeeellllllllooooooooo Dah-ling’ on his way past, or start talking to me in an exaggerated southern accent. He made me laugh.
He had such a big heart. Sadly it was a weak heart that couldn’t help him in the end. He had Leukemia and although the doctors told him last Spring that his odds weren’t good, he pretty much told them to piss off, he was going to make it.
He already surpassed the doctor’s expectations but this morning he had had enough. I said he was tired of the snow…
Tags: Breville, Fast Slow Cooker, Kidney Beans, Pasta Fagioli Soup, Recipes, Slow Cooker, Soup, Yummy
I’ve made this soup a few times before but this time I cooked it in my Breville Fast Slow Cooker using the Pressure Cooker option instead of the Slow Cooker feature – which was good too, but omg this is a million times better :) I even sent Alex out in a snow storm to get the requisite French Bagette to eat with it ;)
I changed the recipe a bit as well, tweaking slightly, the new version is listed below:
Pressure Cooker Pasta Fagioli Soup
– 1 lb lean Ground Beef
– 4 cloves of Garlic, finely minced
– 1.5 large Onions, diced
– 1/2 medium Parsnip sliced into medallions, then cut in half
– 4-5 Carrots sliced into thick medallions
– 2 stalks of Celery, diced
– 1 cup Pancetta, diced
– 1 can diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes
– 1 can Red Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed
– 1 can 6 (or 5) Bean blend, drained and rinsed
– 1 jar Ragu Original Pasta (Spaghetti) sauce
– 1 box Campbell’s Beef Broth
– 1/2 tsp coarsely ground Black Pepper
– 10 dashes Tabasco Sauce, twice
– 2 tsp Paprika
– 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
– 1/2 tsp dried Rosemary
– 1/2 tsp dried Oregano
– 1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning
– 1/2 tsp coarse Sea Salt
– 1/2 tsp Chili Pepper Paste (see photo below, or mince your own favourite hot variety)
– 8 ounces of a hearty, small Pasta (Ditalini or Macaroni are perfect), cooked separately.
If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can use a regular large soup pot or Dutch Oven. Fancy equipment is not needed. Most of the instructions are the same, however, when everything is combined, simmer for 1-2 hours.
Set the Fast Slow Cooker to Sauté for 30 minutes. Cook the Pancetta until mostly crisp. Add Garlic and sauté for a minute, being careful not to burn the Garlic. Add the Ground Beef, season with all of the Herbs, Chili Pepper Paste and Spices above (add 1 set of 10 dashes of Tabasco Sauce), crumble the Rosemary before adding and cook for about 10 minutes, until most of the fat has rendered and the Meat is mostly cooked through. Add the Onions and cook for about five minutes, until translucent. Add the remaining fresh Vegetables and sauté for another five minutes. The timer should be done, or nearly done at this point. Add all of the drained, rinsed Beans and stir, cooking for approximately 5 minutes. Add the Tomatoes and all of its Juice from the can. Add the Ragu Sauce and the Beef Broth. Add water if you feel the soup is not ‘soupy’ enough. Add a good round or two of freshly ground Black Pepper and the second addition of Tabasco Sauce. Set the Fast Slow Cooker to ‘Pressure Cooker’ with the timer set for 45 minutes, on high pressure. When you’re ready to serve, cook the pasta to al dente in a separate pot (the pasta will soak up all your beautiful liquid if you cook it with the soup). To serve, place some cooked pasta in a deep soup bowl and ladle your soup over it. Grate Parmesan over the top if you wish. Serve with warmed crusty bread slathered in butter – oh well it was pretty healthy up to that point ;-) Enjoy!
Prep time: 20 Minutes, Cooking time 1/2 hour plus 45 minutes.
Tags: #GameNight, #IGotItFree, @HasbroNews, Contest, Hasbro, Influenster, Monopoly Junior, Product Testing
We recently received a copy of #MonopolyJunior from @Influenster free for review. I’m so glad we did because it was our first #GameNight in a while and the girls absolutely loved it.
After opening the box, the girls made quick work of setting the game up. They were a great help, putting the board pieces in nice piles and helping to distribute the money and game Tokens.
Alex was the Banker and Caity, being the youngest, was the one who rolled first. You should have heard the giggles of glee when Caity landed on a spot and was able to buy it. That wasn’t as gigglesome though as when one of us landed on her property and had to pay her rent. The little Slum Lord kept saying “oh yeah, more money, oh yeah…”. She’s pretty silly :)
It was a good evening filled with laughter and the girls managed to get us to play a few games with them. It was very easy for them to learn how to play. The next day they played another few games on their own and after dinner their Dad and I joined them for a couple of matches. Every day after school, when I pick them up from daycare, they make plans to play yet another game lol.
@Hasbro has done it again. #MonopolyJR is sure to become a classic in our house and we will no doubt have many cherished memories of the girls. I’m pretty sure I know what they plan on putting on their Christmas List to #Santa – more Hasbro games! Even the Cat tried to get in on the game a couple of times! ;-)
Note: I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.