You Know You’ve Lost a Pet When …

March 3, 2016 at 5:02 pm | Posted in CKD, Depression, Family Ties, Food, Kidney Disease, Miscellaneous Crap | Leave a comment
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Damn this is hitting me hard …😦

Before and After 5

See my post about Charlie’s quirks – https://doodlesmom.wordpress.com/2010/04/02/cats/

 

Another Goodbye…

February 29, 2016 at 3:42 pm | Posted in CKD, Depression, Family Ties, Kidney Disease, Miscellaneous Crap | 1 Comment
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The house is so empty now.

I notice it especially after the girls have gone to bed.  There’s no one pestering me for a cuddle-on-demand, or hoping to benefit from my nightly Cheesies snack.

For those of you who are not cat, or pet-person, stop reading now.

IMG-20141115-00850We had to put our Male cat, Maverick (Mavvy) down on Saturday. He was battling end-stage Kidney Failure.  Our Vet told me, during one of our many talks about his declining health, that if he were Human, he would have been on Dialysis.  We are very familiar with Kidney Disease in our family, but it doesn’t make it any easier.  In December or January, the Vet told me that any measures we took at that point would only to be to prolong his life, not ‘fix’ it.  He was trying to be kind, knowing what Mavvy meant to me, to us – yet he had to drive home the message:  enjoy the time you have left with him.

We had 15 good years with our Cats. Mavvy was pre-deceased by his Sister Charlie in November.  Charlie had Cancer.  She had a large tumour in her abdomen, the size of a man’s fist.

We didn’t know, until it was too late.

With Charlie, it was obvious that it was her time to cross the Rainbow Bridge.

My Bobcat

My Bobcat

She loved us unconditionally.

Well, as much as a female cat can love anyone. She was unique. She was beautiful.  She was snarky.  She was my Bobcat.  If you entered the same room as her, she would let you know you were on her property.  She would make a sound, a trill, her version of ‘hey I’m here’.  She wanted affection on her own terms, she’d walk over for a pat on the head and scratch under the chin and after a few minutes, would go back to one of her favourite spots.

Alex would say, typical female – she would leave after she got what she wanted.

There was no question that it was Charlie’s time. She lost so much weight, didn’t want to eat and could hardly walk.  The option of Euthanasia wasn’t up for debate.  She was running out of time and we wanted to spare her a painful death.  She deserved that.

Mavvy though, was my boy through and through. I fell in love with him the minute I saw him.  He was all ears and paws and had the most mischievous look about him – I knew he was going to be trouble. We were only looking to get one cat, a female, but then they showed me her Brother and that was it for me.

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(L-R) Mavvy and Charlie about 8 weeks old

The two kittens spent the first few weeks sleeping on my neck or chest. Charlie gave this up after a while, I guess when she got too big or Mavvy claimed me all for himself.  The two of them were inseparable.  They would sleep together, play and groom each other.  They were crazy cats.

(L-R) Charlie and Mavvy. He knew he was caught...

(L-R) Charlie and Mavvy. He knew he was caught…

The first Christmas we had them, they were about 3 months old.  They thought the Christmas Tree made a great jungle gym.  They nearly knocked the tree down one day in their excited obsession playing with the ornaments.  It was years before I could place ornaments lower than three feet off the ground – first because of the cats, second because of my young girls.

The first time we had my Father-in-Law over for dinner, I remember being in the kitchen, fixing whatever it was we were having for dinner.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my FIL’s hand reach out and grab Charlie by the scruff of the neck.  She jumped up on the table and helped herself to the butter.

They were little stinkers.

Every night for 15 years, up until last Friday, Mavvy would try to lie on my chest. Most times he succeeded and I’d have to put the iPad aside because he wanted my attention.  Now.  He would rub his head against the side of my face in greeting as if to say “Hiiiiiiiiiiiiii” – even if he just saw me a few minutes ago.  He would ‘bark’ to let us know he was absolutely starving and we had to feed him.  Both of those things he also liked to do at 4:30 in the morning.  He was such a pest.  His affection knew no bounds.  His soft purrs were always so comforting.

After we lost Charlie, we were afraid he would go into mourning for her. He seemed for the most part, to be fine.  We could tell he would call for her sometimes.  When he was in the basement he would make a cry that sounded like he was saying ‘Hel-lo’.  I think at first, he was calling her.  We noticed his coat was looking scruffy.  I thought it was because he wasn’t grooming himself – Charlie used to make sure he had a daily bath, and she was no longer there.

Just before Christmas, Mavvy got very sick – he couldn’t hold his head up on his own and other things. We thought that would be it for him, but we changed his diet and gave him vitamin supplements and he seemed to perk up and be his old self again.  His coat was soft and silky again, like it used to be.  It was encouraging.  We (I) thought his problems were in the past and he could have a few more years with us.

Shortly after that it seemed that he was becoming Diabetic again because he was suddenly ravenous, all the time. Even after we fed him, he wanted more food.  He was also drinking and peeing a lot.

Last week he started lying on the kitchen floor a lot. The floor is cool and both he and Charlie did this near the end.

Thursday night he refused his vitamins and didn’t want his canned food. He ate a bit of Kibble only.  He also spent a lot of time in the basement, sitting in the chair next to Alex’s computer that he and Charlie used to share at night.  He wouldn’t come when he was called.  He stopped pestering me for food.  He would lie in front of his water dish, even if he wasn’t drinking.  He just lay there. I was actually worried he would drown if he fell asleep.

Friday night when the girls and I came home, he wasn’t there to greet us. Normally he would be on the steps, waiting for us to get home.  Lexy found him in the chair in the basement.  The hiding instinct had begun.  His breathing was rapid.  He couldn’t get comfortable.  I didn’t know it at the time, but we had our last evening cuddle.

The next morning Lexy and I went to see my Mom. She surprisingly remembered Mavvy and asked how he was doing.  When we got home, his breathing was worse – fast but shallow and laboured.  He looked worn out.

We took Mavvy to the Vet (our regular Vet was closed so we had to go to the emergency Vet). She told us it was suspected he had fluid around his lungs which was causing him to have great difficulty breathing. The only way to know for sure was to have x-rays taken and tests run.  She said he may not survive the x-ray.  We made the decision to let him be with his Sister.  One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.  I feel guilty.  I hope it was the right decision.  I hope he knows how much he was loved.

Most times it was hard to find where one cat ended, and the other began

Most times it was hard to find where one cat ended, and the other began

Comfort Food 101…

February 20, 2016 at 5:44 pm | Posted in Family Ties, Food, Recipes, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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It’s nearly the end of February and it’s 11°C.  Did I mention that I live in Canada?? It’s been a really weird Winter so far, and although I’m loving the effects of El Niño – I still hate Winter.  Last year at this time we were in the middle of an Arctic Freeze. The temperatures were in the -30°C for what seemed like forever and we had snow everywhere.  This year, the flowers and grass are growing at the front of my house.  Sometimes though, it doesn’t matter what the weather is like, we all need comfort food.

I had a craving for Ham and Scalloped Potatoes, so that’s what’s on the menu tonight.  The ham was simply prepared – take a small, smoked 1/4 Ham, put it in an oven proof dish and cover it with Pineapple Juice about half-way up the ham.  Stick it in the oven for a couple of hours at 325°F – remember to baste it every 40 minutes or so and that’s it.  The Pineapple Juice draws some of the salt out of the Ham, and makes it more delicious.  Discard the juice when you’re ready to slice the Ham.

For the Scalloped Potatoes, it was a bit more complicated.  I researched a couple of recipes on the internet and also used a few of my Mom’s tricks and damn if it didn’t turn out delicious.

Ingredients:

    • ~3 Pounds New, Yukon Gold or Red Skinned Potatoes
    • ½ Pound Bacon Lardons
    • 1 ½ Medium Yellow Onion
    • 1 Clove Garlic, Minced
    • 1 Cup Shredded Medium Cheddar
    • 1 Cup Shredded Monterey Jack
    • 1 ½ Cup Whipping Cream
    • 1 ½ Cup Half and Half Cream
    • ¼ Cup All Purpose Flour
    • 1 Tsp Dried Thyme
    • 1 Tsp Dried Oregano
    • ½ Tsp Fresh Ground Black Pepper, plus several rounds of Pepper for each layer
    • Dash or two of Salt
    • Several dabs of Butter
    • Non-Stick Vegetable Spray

Wash, peel and thinly slice Potatoes, set aside in a bowl of water until you’re ready to assemble.  The Potatoes may turn brown from oxidation but it doesn’t affect the taste. It’s recommended to use a Mandolin to slice the Potatoes and Onion if you have one.  You’ll need slices approximately 1/8” thick.

Thinly slice the half Onion crossways to get onion rings, set aside.

Grate, then combine both cheeses and set aside.

Combine both Creams in a microwaveable dish and heat for 1 minute. Add the dried Thyme, Oregano and Black Pepper.  Add the Flour and whisk to combine.  Set aside.

Fry the bacon until nearly crisp. Dice one onion and add to the Bacon, and continue to fry until the Onions are translucent (about 5 minutes), add the minced Garlic and fry the mixture until the bacon has completely crisped.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Scalloped Potatoes 3

Bacon, Onions and Garlic, oh my!

 

Spray your covered baking dish liberally with the Non-Stick Spray. Add a couple of dabs of butter on the bottom of the pan.  Place 1/3 of the potatoes, overlapping the slices slightly in the dish.  Add a few rounds of Ground Pepper, 1/3 of the Bacon mixture, scatter ½ of the onion rings, 1/3 of the Cheese mixture and top with 1/3 of the cream mixture (whisk again before you add it to distribute the ingredients).  Repeat 2 more times.  On the second layer I sprinkled some salt – the Cheese and Bacon adds a lot of Salt on their own, so you don’t really need much. Add a couple of dabs of butter to the top before you put the dish, covered, in the oven.

Scalloped Potatoes 2

One of the Layers Before the Cheese and Cream Mixture Were Added

 

Bake in a 375°F Oven until the Potatoes are fork tender – approximately 1½ hours. I rotate the pan every ½ hour to help even the baking – I don’t have a fancy convection oven … yet.  Uncover the dish the last 20 minutes of baking to get a golden brown yummy crust.

Almost Finished

Almost Finished – It Looks Like a Lot of Liquid, But The Cream Will Get Absorbed by the Potatoes and Will Thicken and Create a Gorgeous Sauce

 

Let cool for 15-20 minutes before serving.

Leftover Scalloped Potatoes are even more tasty – you can pan fry them in a little Butter or reheat in the Microwave. Enjoy!  I know I will:)

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The Finished Product

…And a Pinch to Grow an Inch!

February 6, 2016 at 7:38 am | Posted in Birthdays, Caityisms, Family Ties, My Kid is a Donut | Leave a comment
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It’s amazing how quickly time goes by.  Today is my littlest little-one’s 9th Birthday and it’s the last one of the single digits.  A lot happened this past year and she was always there with a hug and a smile for me.

You’ve become a remarkable young lady my Donut and I couldn’t be more proud of you.  I love you and hope you have a great Birthday full of monkeys, sprinkles and glitter… just not all at the same time 😉 💕

Happy Birthday, love Mama

2015, My Annus Horribilis…

December 31, 2015 at 2:59 pm | Posted in Birthdays, Christmas, Depression, Family Ties, Miscellaneous Crap, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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To paraphrase Queen Elizabeth II, 2015 is not a year on which I shall look back fondly. In other words, it has turned out to be an ‘Annus Horribilis’, a horrible year.  I am very much looking forward to its conclusion.

There is an old superstition that you must take down your Christmas Tree before the last bell tolls on New Year’s Eve. Otherwise you will be dragging all your baggage and bad luck from this year into the new year.  I’m not taking any chances, my tree and all the trimmings are already down.

This has been the worst year of my life.  I’m not exaggerating.  It really sucked and seemed to be never-ending.  If it wasn’t for the love and support of my family, I’m not sure what I would do, I probably would have lost my mind by now.

In January, I lost a very dear friend of mine to Cancer.  Randy was also a work colleague and his presence in the office is sorrily missed.

Photo by Aurélien Muller (http://www.maclupus.net)

Randy Moreau – Photo by Aurélien Muller (http://www.maclupus.net)

It took longer than I expected to get over Randy’s passing, especially when there were so many reminders everywhere.  There were mementos on my desk and on my wall; passing his many offices within our work walls; having to look up something in old files that we worked on years ago – all brought back strong memories of him.  French Macaroons and expensive Italian Cologne still make me smile.

On the heels of Randy’s passing, I had to deal with my Parents’ transition from their last home to an Old Age Home.  My Father was very sick with Cancer and my Sister kept the details from my Brother and I, and it seemed that he had more time than he did.  The last few months of his life, he had no discernible quality of life.  He was unable to self-ambulate, he couldn’t get out of bed without assistance and was getting to the point where feeding himself was difficult.  His pain increased nearly daily and we watched as the cancer raced through him, eating him from the inside out.  He was so skinny at the end, mostly blind and mostly deaf.  When he was in Palliative care, unable to eat or drink, he still knew when we were there – I’d call his name and he’d reach out his hand to hold mine, and try to talk.  I know he had things to tell me.  I knew he was dying.  I told him several times not to worry, we would look after Mom.  That was our job now.  He could rest in peace.  He passed away in early September, on an incredibly warm day – and on my Birthday.

I have not been able to get over his passing, as much as I try.  He was too important to me.  He was my everything, he was my Daddy.  I miss him, terribly.   I had an emotional breakdown during our family Christmas Dinner and couldn’t stop crying and had to leave.  I didn’t want to ruin everyone’s good time – I felt like a fool.  The emotions were still so raw. My Mother-in-Law told me something that a friend sent her after her Mother passed. She said: your Mother teaches you everything, except how to live without her.  Truer words were never spoken.

Dad 1923-2015

Dad 1923-2015

My Mom has Dementia which is continuously worsening.  We can no longer have a conversation with her other than a few sentences which are repeated over and over again.  She’s alone in her Old Age Home and it’s far from where we live.  It’s like I’ve lost her too…

The next wave came in November, my female cat, Charlie was looking very skinny.  She was still eating and drinking, but it was harder for her to jump up on the furniture and she wasn’t as social.  She would still bark at us any time we would pass by close to her, and loved to be petted.  She had the loudest purr I’d ever heard.  She started walking less and taking more frequent breaks.  She would let me cuddle her for quite a while (she was not a cuddler, but she was too weak to jump down).  I made an appointment at the vet, fearing the worst.  That day when I came home, she was lying down by her water dish, unable to get up any longer.  It was her time.  I miss my little girl, my Bobcat with the tufts on her ears.

Charlie (2000-2015)

Charlie (2000-2015)

Charlie’s brother, Maverick didn’t mourn her loss as we expected.  He searched for her for quite a while and on occasion we could hear him calling her, probably wondering why she wasn’t answering.  He had become more cuddly with the rest of us – he was always my cat – he sleeps with me every night and more often than not, requires play time or food around 2 a.m.  He hasn’t learned that I’m not supposed to be awake then.

Last weekend Mavvy started acting funny.  His head was down and he couldn’t hold it up on his own.  His pupils were wide and he and trouble walking.  His head even tilted on a 90º angle for a bit.  When he’d walk, it was like he was on crutches, his front legs stiff and straight out, his head tucked into his chest.  He couldn’t go up or down stairs, he’d bump into walls.

We took him to the vet, who suspected a Stroke.  He’s currently on a decreasing course of low-dose steroids and he’s almost back to his old self.  He’s not ready to go yet.  I’m not ready for him to leave.

So after all that, to say that I’m more than ready to see the tail end of 2015 tonight and ring in 2016 is an understatement.  I’ve always believed, silly or not that bad luck happens in odd years and good in even.  I’m so ready for my luck to change … Happy New Year everyone, may it be a good one…

Not Your Mom’s Cheesecake …

December 11, 2015 at 10:06 pm | Posted in Christmas, Food, Product Testing, Recipes, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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…Unless your Mom is Julia Child.

‘Tis the season once again and tomorrow night Hubby and I are going out sans kids to our friends for a get together.  We were asked to bring a dish and this is my contribution.  If it makes it to their house that is … in one piece.

Have I mentioned that I’m in love with the President’s Choice Black Label line of products?  The foodie in me quivers in the food aisle at Loblaws any time I get near one of their new products.  My mind races as I think of ways to use them.  Here’s one.

**Just so there’s no confusion, this is more of an appetizer, a spread for crackers or Crostini than a cheesecake you eat like a dessert by the slice.  It’s a cake. Made from cheese.  Hence the name, cheesecake…. But savoury, not sweet …😉

Savoury Roasted Garlic Cheesecake

Ingredients:

  • 2 Heads Garlic, roasted
  • 1 Medium Onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 Tsp Thyme
  • 1 Tsp Oregano
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • 2, 1/4 Tsp Coarse Sea Salt
  • 2 Packages Cream Cheese, room temperature
  • 2, 300 Gram packages of plain Goat Cheese, room temperature
  • 1.5 Cups toasted, unsalted Pistachios (get them in the bulk section already shelled), ground
  • 2 Tbsp melted Unsalted Butter
  • A 9″ or 10″ Fluted non-stick Tart Pan with removable bottom
  • Crostini and or Crackers
  • PC® Black Label Cherry Shiraz or Fig Cabernet Wine Jelly
  • PC® Black Label Bacon Marmalade Spread
  • PC® Black Label Pistachio Oil
  • Good quality Olive Oil

For the Crust:

Toast Pistachios in the oven for a few minutes until they crisp and are warmed through.  Cool thoroughly then place them in a food processor along with 1/4 salt and blitz several times until the Pistachios resemble coarse crumbs.  Pour into a bowl and slowly add melted Butter until the crumbs are moist and will hold a shape if pressed.  Mix well then pour into your Tart Pan and press into the bottom to form a Crust.  Chill in the fridge until the filling is ready.

crustIf you don’t have Roasted Garlic lying around, cut the tops off of two whole heads of garlic, but don’t discard them.  Place all the pieces in a piece of Aluminum Foil and top with a drizzle of Olive Oil.  Wrap the package tightly and put it in your barbecue over medium, indirect heat for an hour or until soft.  Using your barbecue serves two purposes:  one, you don’t stink your house up for days with the smell of roasting garlic; two, you get to annoy your neighbours for a while as it cooks outside.  Once the garlic is soft and brown, squish the cloves into a bowl, careful not to include the skin of the garlic cloves and mash with a fork to make a paste.  Set aside.

Sauté the sliced onions in Butter over medium heat until they get soft and begin to brown.  Set aside to cool.  Place in Food Processor and pulse a few times to break down the onions.  Set aside.

In a mixer place your softened cheeses and half of the Roasted Garlic and all of the onions.  Add the Oregano, Thyme, one of the 1/4 Tsps of salt and a few rounds of cracked pepper.  Mix on medium speed until all the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.  Taste and add more Garlic if you wish.  The mixture should be light and fluffy with no lumps from the cheeses.

cheese and onionsTake the Tart Pan out of the Fridge and pour the mixture over the crust.  Spread evenly using an offset spatula if you have one – if not, it’s not that important – and cover with plastic wrap.  Put in the fridge for several hours, or overnight (preferred) to allow the cheesecake to set up and all the flavours meld.

For the Crostini, slice a Baguette, thinly and place onto a cookie pan.  Mix a few tablespoons of Olive Oil with a tablespoon of PC Black Label Pistachio Oil and brush over each Crostini top.  Bake in a 350ºF oven until just brown and the crusts are crispy, set aside.  Repeat until all of your Baguette has been used.  Place on a platter along with crackers if desired.

When ready to eat, unmould the cheesecake and cut into 1″ wedges.  Place a slice of cake, a few Crostini and/or Crackers on a plate.  Add a spoonful of PC Black Label Fig Cabernet Jelly and a spoonful of PC Black Label Bacon Marmalade to the side of the plate.  To assemble, spread a bit of the cheesecake, ensuring you don’t forget the Pistachio crust on a Crostini, top with a small amount of Bacon Jam and a small amount of Fig Cabernet Jelly.  Try not to inhale it in one mouthful.  Try to resist eating the whole cake in one setting, you’ll want to.  It’s amazing.  Bon Appétit

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Finished 2fig cabernetPistachio Oilbacon jam

What to Do When Dad Goes Out With the Boys? Girls Night In, Making Cookies!

November 28, 2015 at 8:08 pm | Posted in Christmas, Daddy-O, Family Ties, Food, Movies, My Kid is a Donut, Recipes, Sisters, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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Toblerone Shortbread Cookies to be exact…

Alex is off for his usual boys weekend involving much drinking, debauchery and Football, so I decided to make cookies with the girls and watch a Christmas movie (Santa Claus is Coming to Town) while drinking Hot Chocolate.  I dunno, but that sounds like a pretty good night to me …

Back to the cookies … I had a copy of my Mom’s Shortbread recipe around the house somewhere.  I found it after we moved my Mom from her Apartment to her Long-Term Facility this Summer.  I was so happy that I finally found a copy of the most incredible Christmas Shortbread that I had been searching for, forever.  Somehow, between then and now, I’ve misplaced the recipe and it made me very sad – sad to the point of tears, over a stupid recipe.

Last weekend I decided to try the Robin Hood Flour “Melt in Your Mouth” version because the ingredients, from what I could remember, were similar.  Damn they were good.  I cut up pieces of Dairy Milk with Crunchy (available at Walmart in the British Food aisle) and put them in the mix.  The cookies lasted until Tuesday.

Ingredients:

2 cups (500 ml) Unsalted Butter

1 scant cup Sugar

3 1/4 cups flour

1 cup Cornstarch

4 oz chopped Chocolate (if using) or more

Tonight I’ve tried putting chopped Toblerone in them:

“Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Take your butter out of the refrigerator about an hour before baking so it will be nice and soft. This will make it easier for the sugar to mix in with the butter or shortening.

Cream butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until very light in texture, about 5 minutes.

Creaming butter with sugar adds air to the batter, increasing volume to help better mix the flour into the butter mixture.

Add sugar and continue beating until sugar is completely combined, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Combine flour and cornstarch in a separate large bowl. Add to butter mixture and mix with an electric mixer on low speed until just combined.

Flour straight from the bag may be compacted. To loosen it, scoop it out of the bag with another container or spoon before pouring it into your measuring cup. This will help you get a more accurate measurement. Level it off with a knife to make sure you have just the right amount.”

Chop one and a half of the regular sized Toblerone Bars into smallish pieces and mix them into the dough.

cookie and chocolatebatter 2

“Place ball of dough by heaping  tbsp (15 mL) on prepared baking sheets 2” (5 cm) apart.  Press down with a fork.

making cookiesmaking cookies 2

Place your cookies about 2” (5cm) apart to allow for spreading

Bake in preheated oven 20 to 25 minutes or until bottoms are lightly golden.  Remove cookies from baking sheet and cool on wire racks.”

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cookies

Should be a good night:)

We might save some for Daddy when he gets home … maybe …

Untitled…

November 9, 2015 at 6:59 pm | Posted in Birthdays, Depression, Family Ties, Miscellaneous Crap | 2 Comments
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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.

sectorsYou 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.

Stupid genetics.

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.

Superman’s Last Flight…

September 9, 2015 at 9:24 pm | Posted in Daddy-O, Family Ties, Toeses and Noses | 1 Comment
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DadI lost my Dad yesterday.

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.

us

L-R: My Brother Rob, My Mom, Me and my Dad circa 1968 at our old house on Langley Ave, Toronto

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.

My Brother Rob is sitting on the 3-legged table as my Dad was putting it together

My Brother Rob is sitting on the 3-legged table as my Dad was putting it together

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.

Andy - November 2, 1923-September 8, 2015

Andy – November 2, 1923-September 8, 2015

Fall’s Around the Corner…

August 25, 2015 at 12:10 am | Posted in Family Ties, Food, Recipes, Sisters | Leave a comment
Tags: , , ,

imageIt’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’.

Ingredients:
– 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

Method:
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:)

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