:)

July 12, 2017 at 4:38 am | Posted in All Things Doodle, Birthdays, Family Ties | Leave a comment
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Happy Birthday to my biggest-little one on her 14th Birthday.  Love you more than words can say 🙂

For the Record, Donut’s Birthday is Cancelled…

February 6, 2017 at 12:39 am | Posted in Birthdays, Caityisms, Family Ties, My Kid is a Donut, Sisters, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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Happy Birthday my darling Donut.  Today my littlest-little-one is 10.  Where’d the time go?  I officially have no more kidlets left with single digit ages.

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I’ve been attempting to write this post for about a week or so.  I’ve had a million thoughts go through my head, but nothing seemed fitting.  I don’t know that I have the words to tell you what I want to say about you on your big Birthday.

You know already that I love you … I tell you that many times a day.  You know already that I’m proud of you and your accomplishments and you know how beautiful you are – because those things too, I tell you every day.  You’re funny, you’re smart, you’re sweet and you’re kind.  You’re a big goof-ball.  You seem to be surprised when you do something well – but I’m not.  I know what you can accomplish when you put your mind to it.

I hope you have a wonderful 10th Birthday and that all of your dreams come true.

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Love, Mama xoxo

Let the Girl’s Weekend Begin…

November 26, 2016 at 12:14 pm | Posted in All Things Doodle, Caityisms, Christmas, Daddy-O, Family Ties, Food, Movies, Recipes, Sisters, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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Alex is disappearing for most of the weekend since it’s Grey Cup time again.  The girls and I have the weekend planned.  We’re going to make Chocolate  Crunchy Shortbread Cookies, have an indoor picnic complete with Pizza and “Home Alone” tonight, and tomorrow we’re going to the movies with Grandma to see “Moana“.  Should be a great weekend, me and my big-little ones 🙂

Last year I found a copy of my Mom’s Shortbread recipe around the house somewhere.  I was so happy that I finally found a copy of the most incredible Christmas Shortbread that I had been searching for, forever.  My Mom can no longer bake or cook, or for that matter, even hold a coherent conversation any longer.  She can’t tell me her recipes because she doesn’t remember them.  Somehow, after I found the recipe I misplaced it, and it made me very sad – sad to the point of tears, over a stupid recipe.

So I searched the internet and stumbled upon the ‘Robin Hood Flour’ version of “Melt in Your Mouth” Shortbread Cookie. 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. Except for the chocolate, they were my Mom’s recipe.  Mom used to shape the cookies into crescent moon shapes and after they were baked, she dipped half in melted chocolate.  Mom also sometimes added finely ground almonds to the dough.

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Ingredients:

2 cups (500 ml) Unsalted Butter

1 scant cup Sugar

3 1/4 cups flour

1/2 cup Cornstarch

4 oz chopped Chocolate (if using) or more

“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 the Chocolate Bar 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.

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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.”

baking

cookies

Keep the dough in the fridge between baking and use a second cookie sheet – let the first one cool off completely before you use it again (put it in the fridge), this will help prevent spreading.  Take the cookies out a minute or two before the time they’re done to avoid brown edges.

You can either scoop out balls of dough, round them, flatten them with a fork or roll the entire batch into two logs and slice when chilled (this method is easier for decorating).  You can pre-cut chilled logs, wrap well and freeze for 2-3 months – you can have cookies whenever you want 🙂

I rolled two logs, put them in the fridge and let them chill for an hour then cut them when ready and prepared the next tray while the first was in the oven.  The prepared tray was put into the fridge until ready to bake.  This greatly reduced the spread.

Makes about 45 cookies.

Should be a good weekend 🙂

Time For Thanks Giving…

October 5, 2016 at 12:03 am | Posted in Daddy-O, Depression, Food, Recipes, Sisters, Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment
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Fall is here and even though we can still wear shorts and t-shirts, it’s turkey time again. Actually, wearing shorts the second week of October isn’t all that unusual.  In Southern Ontario where we live, we often get an ‘Indian Summer‘ – a blissfully warm few days of gorgeous sunshine which follows the first frost of the season.  I haven’t noticed any frost lately, but it has been quite cool.  This past Summer was so hot, the cool weather was a blessed relief.

My Sister passed away last week.  She died from complications during a normal surgical procedure.  Saying she and I never got along was a mild understatement.  I shed about 5 tears.  Anyone who knows me, knows that is unusual because tv commercials can make me cry. Watching a particularly heart-wrenching episode of Grey’s Anatomy makes me sob.  I was despondent when my darling Dad passed away last year.  For my Sister, 5 tears.  I am free. Enough said.

Canadian Thanksgiving is this weekend and I’m hosting dinner – I’m so excited, I haven’t looked forward to anything in a long time.  I love cooking Turkey – the house always smells so wonderful that you can’t wait for dinner.

I told Lexy she was cooking the Turkey this year.  She’s a little panicked, thinking I was serious 😉

I wanted to post some of the side dishes I plan on serving.  I’ll add pictures later.  As I’ve said in previous posts,  I started this blog to record my children’s antics and to house some of the family recipes for them when they’re older.  As I found out last week, one never knows when your time will be up.

Slow-Cooker Butternut Squash

1 – Medium sized Butternut Squash, scrubbed and sliced in half length-wise, seeds removed

1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened

1/4 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice

1/4 cup Brown Sugar

Water (enough to go halfway up the Squash in the Slow Cooker)

In a bowl, combine Butter, Brown Sugar and Pumpkin Pie Spice, mix until combine and spread over Squash halves.

Place the Squash halves cut side up in the slow cooker – cut into smaller pieces if they don’t fit properly – note they will shrink a bit as they cook.

Carefully pour water down the side of the Slow Cooker making sure you don’t pour directly on the Squash.  Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 6-7 hours or until the thickest part of the Squash is very soft when poked with a knife.

Carefully remove the Squash from the slow cooker, trying not to lose the sugar/butter mixture or burn yourself.  Note, you can keep the Squash in the Slow Cooker until you’re ready to eat, just make sure the cooker is turned off.

Using oven mitts if the Squash is too hot to hold in your hands, scrape the soft flesh into a large bowl with a spoon, careful not to get the tough skin and stir to combine all the yummy juices and spices.

I used to just use Cinnamon and Brown Sugar, but I also liked a bit of Nutmeg flavour.  Then I had a brain wave and decided to use Pumpkin Pie Spice which already has both of those plus Ground Ginger, Allspice and Cloves.  It’s a heady mixture that pairs amazingly with the succulent Squash.  Just go easy on it, a little goes a long way.  I suggest you start with 1/2 of the 1/4 teaspoon first, mix it with The Brown Sugar and sample – see if you like the flavour strength.  If not, add a bit more until you’re satisfied.  It’s so good – even Lexy likes it.

The next dish is one of my favourites and can be cooked when the Turkey is done – if your oven is like mine, the Turkey will take up the whole oven.  This dish is the ultimate comfort food, dreamy vegetables baked in herbs – amazing with gravy or on their own.  The beauty of this side dish is it doesn’t matter if you have this exact combination of root veggies, pick your favourites.

Oven Roasted Root Vegetables

2 Medium Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1″ pieces

2 Large Parsnips, peeled and cubed into 1″ pieces

2 Medium Red Onions, peeled and cut into quarters

1 Rutabaga (or large Turnip), peeled, cubed into 1″ pieces

4-5 medium Yellow Fleshed Potatoes such as Yukon Gold (a Canadian invention by the way), peeled, cubed into 1″ pieces

4-5 medium Carrots, peeled, cut into 1″ pieces

1/4 to 1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon dried Thyme

3/4 teaspoon dried Oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried Rosemary

1 teaspoon coarse Salt

Several rounds of Fresh Ground Black Pepper

Preheat your oven to 450F

Place all of the chopped veggies in a bowl.  The above quantities are an approximation – you will need enough veggies to fill a sheet pan completely, but loosely (to allow for flipping the veggies during cooking).

Drizzle the oil over the veggies and sprinkle on the seasoning, salt and several good rounds of fresh ground pepper, mix well to coat.

Place a length of non-stick Aluminum Foil on your sheet pan.  Dump the seasoned veggies on the pan and spread out evenly.

Place in the oven and cook for approximately 30 minutes and stir. Cook for another 30 minutes or until the veggies are fork tender and not burned.  Stir and flip the veggies so they caramelize and brown on all sides.

Place in a serving bowl and enjoy.  Try not to eat too many before they get to the table.

The veggies will hold in a covered dish on the stovetop for 4-5 hours if you want to make them in advance.  They can be served at room temperature.

Turkey Stuffing (for inside the bird)

My Mom’s recipe, it flavours the bird from the inside and tastes incredible.

1 Package Pork Sausage (Maple Leaf makes a great Pure Pork Sausage just for this purpose)
2 Slices dark Rye Bread (Dimpflmeier makes wonderful Rye but regular sandwich bread or pre seasoned turkey stuffing bread is also fine for this)
2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
1 Large Onion Diced
1/2 tsp Poultry Seasoning
Ground Black Pepper
Garlic Powder

Sauté the diced onion until barely translucent. Add the minced Garlic and sauté for a few more minutes. Remove from heat. In a large mixing bowl, place the Pork Sausage, and the sautéed Onions and Garlic. Add 1/2 Tsp. Poultry Seasoning, several rounds of freshly ground Black Pepper, and 1/2 Tsp Garlic Powder.

Tear the bread into bite sized pieces and add them to the mixing bowl. Mix the mixture thoroughly but not too much that it all breaks down. Form into a loaf and stuff into the cavity of the bird (make sure there are no giblets in there first!).

When the Turkey is cooked, remove the stuffing – it should come out whole like a meatloaf. Slice and serve with dinner.

Dressing – for Outside the Bird

ingredients1 loaf Turkey Stuffing Bread (if you can’t find the pre seasoned bread, use a loaf of white bread and make sure you have lots of Poultry Seasoning)

Poultry seasoning (if you don’t have pre seasoned bread)

1 large onion diced

1 large clove Garlic, minced

2 half sticks unsalted butter, cut into slices – half for inside the mixture, the rest on top

4 packages OXO Chicken Bouillon powder and hot water prepared to package directions, set aside – note, you may not need all of the Bouillon; or you can use boxed low sodium Chicken Broth (Campbell’s)

Water, enough to fill the pan half way up the loaf

Saute onions until translucent and then add garlic. Saute for a few more minutes until the garlic is softened.  Remove from heat.

Make the bullion as directed on the package in a measuring cup.  Alternately pour a cup of boxed Chicken broth into a measuring cup.  Set aside.

torn-breadIn a large bowl, tear 1/3 of the loaf into small, bite-sized pieces.  If you used regular white bread, sprinkle liberally with Poultry Seasoning, then proceed to the next step.

If using the pre-seasoned loaf, scatter half the onion mixture over the bread.  Sprinkle some of the bouillon liquid or Chicken Stock over the bread and onions until the bread is just moistened.  The bread should hold a shape if you squeeze it in your hand, but it shouldn’t release any liquid. Add a few pats of butter. Mix to incorporate.

onion-bread-and-chicken-stockTear another 1/3 of the loaf and add the remaining onions and garlic and more bouillon or Chicken Stock as above.  If using the unseasoned loaf, add another round of Poultry Seasoning.  Mix.

Tear the remaining pieces and repeat as above.

Tear two pieces of Aluminum Foil and overlap slightly.  Dump the mixture onto the centre of the foil and shape into a loaf that will fit into the baking dish with some room on the sides of the dish.

ready-for-the-ovenPlace pats of butter all over the top and wrap the foil around the loaf so that the opening is at the top.  The dressing will steam in the oven, so the water can’t get in it.

Fill the pan with water, half way up the foil making sure water can’t  get into the package.

Place, covered, in a 350F oven for half an hour.  Remove lid and open the package for browning.  Place in the oven for another 1/2 hour.  The dressing is done when the top is crispy and a knife comes out clean when inserted into the middle.  So good with gravy 🙂

A Very, Merry, Un-Birthday to Me…

September 8, 2016 at 12:02 am | Posted in Birthdays, Depression, Family Ties, Miscellaneous Crap | Leave a comment
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Judging by the number of candles, this was my 5th Birthday cake – my Mom always added 1 extra for ‘good luck’

I miss my Dad.

I lost him a year ago, on my last Birthday.  That’s why I’ve decided not to ‘celebrate’ my Birthday this year – it’s too painful.  Not that I’ve ever really celebrated my Birthday in my Adult life.  I’ve never liked it, but was never sure why.  I think now that it may have been foreshadowing.

I had so many things I wanted to write about him.  I can’t see the point right now.  He’s gone and it still hurts, nothing will change that.  I’ve felt so lost this past year, not really knowing what I was doing – everything was just automatic.  It’s been very difficult getting over the grief.

My Dad and my Brother on his 2nd Birthday

My Dad and my Brother on his 2nd Birthday

I have so many good memories of him. From the many camping trips we took when I was a kid – my brother and I lying down in the back of our Zephyr Stationwagon – seatbelts were not mandatory in those days.  We drove through Hurricanes to reach the East Coast, only making it as far as Prince Edward Island.

My Dad's homework when he was first learning English

My Dad’s homework when he was first learning English – my favourite line “dont say ‘vicious’ when you mean ‘wishes’…”

Back in the early 1990s, my Dad took my Mom and I home to his native Denmark to reunite with family that he hadn’t seen since he moved to Canada in the 1950s.  I have such fond memories of that trip – Denmark is a beautiful country.  It was fascinating seeing the Viking Longships, meeting relatives made infamous in my Dad’s many stories and just taking in the breathtaking countryside.  I learned a lot about my Viking heritage during that trip and my Dad was so proud to show me his country.  He was a lousy translator though.  Apart from the fact that the Danish language had evolved in the 40 years since he had left, and he didn’t know a lot of the new words – his siblings found his old fashioned way of speaking charming – and amusing.  Dad would get so excited to tell me something one of my Uncles had said – they being of a generation that didn’t learn English in school (if they made it through school in the first place). He would repeat what they said in Danish back to me.  “Engelsk Dad, Engelsk” (English Dad, English) I would have to remind him.  Even funnier was when he would repeat what I said to my relatives in English instead of Danish – the looks they gave him because they didn’t understand what he said was priceless.

My command of the Danish language was less impressive than his.  I remember asking one of my Uncles if he wanted, what I thought was another beer – I held up a beer bottle and said to my Uncle “mere Ost?” (more cheese?) – No wonder he was confused.

In the Stocks again, Me at some place in Denmark that's hundreds of years old

In the Stocks again, Me at some place in Denmark that’s hundreds of years old

So tonight I think I will raise a glass of Tuborg in his honour and drink a toast to his memory.  Skål Dad, I miss you.

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

…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…

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.

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