10

Trading in the Cadillac for a Ferrari

Notes from the Eldercare Underground:  Thanksgiving Edition

I joined my mother at the nursing home today for their Thanksgiving dinner. 

I tell ya, they really put out quite a spread.  All the food was very good (including the coffee) and I was a member of the Clean Plate Club by the time the meal was over.

Today my mother had a little something extra to be thankful for:  she has graduated from the wheelchair to a candy-apple red walker, complete with padded seat and handbrakes. 

Yesterday I watched as her physical therapist, Joe, took her outside for a spin with her new wheels.  He was really proud that she had made so much progress, and I was amazed at how fast she could move in that thing.  I told Joe that this was the fastest I’d seen her walk in years.

Joe has a great sense of humor and had told her yesterday that he was recommending to the powers that be at the nursing home that she be allowed to jettison the wheelchair in favor of the jazzier mode of transportation.

He said he wanted her to “trade in the Cadillac for the shiny red Ferrari.”  And that’s what she did.

On another, “I can’t believe my mother said that,” note—Tammy, the director of nurses, flagged me down on my way out.  She had a couple of anecdotes about my mother she wanted to tell me.

The first one involved her getting ready for her doctor’s appointment last week.  The LVN who was helping my mother told Tammy that when she commented on how nice my mother looked, with her pretty sweater and lipstick, my mother said:  

“You never know when the doctor might be a stud.” 

OMG.  My mother said that?

And the second anecdote was when the occupational therapist was observing my mother using the bathroom to be sure she could do it safely on her own.  She didn’t quite get her pants pulled up all the way over her behind and the therapist had to point that out to her.  My mother said:

“Now you know what kind of girl I am.”

Oh boy.  I think that Ferrari has started something.

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11

Do You Want New or Used Fries With That?

Republican candidate Herman Cain on Meet the Press today:

The 9-9-9 plan would replace the complex U.S. tax code with a 9 percent income tax, a 9 percent corporate tax and a new 9 percent national sales tax.

“Who would pay more? The people who spend more money on new goods. The sales tax only applies to people who buy new goods, not used goods. That’s a big difference,” Cain told NBC.

So, can I interest you in some pre-owned pizza, Herman? 

I bet it’ll cost you a lot less than new. 

20

Middle School Makeover

All of the hoopla surrounding the Royal Wedding in England and the subsequent extreme scrutiny of the attendees’ attire and figures reminded me of my own first encounter with a body image critic at the young age of twelve or thirteen and what it meant to be a girl in the late 1950’s.

Here’s a post I wrote about it in this blog’s infancy:

“Does This Teacher Make My Butt Look Big?”

The phantom of Miss Elwell still follows me about, even after fifty years.

It was 1959 and I had just entered junior high school. In those days, a girl’s highest aspiration was to become a wife and mother. This may not have been stated outright, but it certainly was implied by society and the general culture of the times.

The curricula for seventh-grade girls included a year of “Home Economics.” This entailed a semester of cooking instruction and a semester of sewing. Having just come from a previous school year where I had excelled at touch football with the boys at recess, this was not welcome news. I could kick and pass a perfect spiral and, because the boys were still on the shrimpy side at that age, I had reigned supreme. Now I was supposed to be a lady? I was completely thrown for a loop.

The Home Ec. teacher was a rather portly woman in her 50′s by the name of Miss Frances Elwell. She was charged with the formidable task of trying to whip all this green talent into some kind of reasonably feminine shape by year’s end.

I never did quite figure out why this domestic onslaught had to be imposed on the seventh graders and not the more “mature” (relatively speaking) ninth graders. I guess the school board felt that we were more malleable at that age, before we got any further into the smart-ass teen years where it would be next to impossible to get any kind of response out of us beyond a sneer.

By the luck of the draw, I had been assigned the cooking section for my first semester. We were divided up into groups and given our own little versions of the Happy Homemaker kitchen. No Easy-Bake ovens here. This was the real deal.

Thinking back, I was so oblivious to everything of a domestic nature at that age. My Mother didn’t make me do any housework at home under the assumption that ”You’ll be doing it for the rest of your life” so why bother with it now? The fallacy in all that was how will you know what to do when the time comes if nobody shows you how to do it beforehand?

Consequently, my Mother did quite a bit of my homework for me for cooking class. Make that just about all. One important assignment was to create a place setting for an imaginary individual whom Miss Elwell had randomly chosen for each of us. My Mother and I slaved over every detail. Well, she slaved and I watched her slave.

When I presented the setting to Miss Elwell, I closely watched her face for some sign of benevolence. She critically observed the place setting before her and looked at me with twinkling eyes. Then she said, “Do you really think an elderly bachelor would want a pink paper parasol in his juice glass?”

If I knew then what I know now, I would have responded with:

 “Yes, if he were Truman Capote.”

The actual cooking assignments in class were ones that I had to wing on my own. Only one of those stands out in my memory. (There may have been successes, but I doubt it.) We had to bake muffins, which sounds easy but can be very tricky. You’re not supposed to over beat the batter because that can cause too much air to become incorporated into the mix, creating all manner of havoc and the end of the world, apparently.

After my batch came out of the oven, I nervously took my burnt offering up to the altar of Miss Elwell and waited for the verdict. She broke one open and studied it like an oracle examining the entrails of a goat. Then she pronounced,

“These have tunnels so large you could drive a truck through them.”

I mentally made a note to look for a husband who was wheat intolerant.

Having gone down in flames in the cooking department (figuratively, not literally) I had the sewing semester to redeem myself. It turns out I was even less adept at this than I was in the culinary arts.

My Mother, of course, was a veritable whiz at sewing. She made most of my clothes for school and really knew her way around a sewing machine. I viewed it as an instrument of torture. So, again, my Mother commandeered my sewing projects while I wandered off and watched American Bandstand on t.v.

The main project for the semester was a circle skirt or full skirt. It should have been a fairly straight-forward task but, again, nothing came easy for me in Miss Elwell’s bastion of the feminine arts. I couldn’t find a pattern that fit me. My Mother had to do a lot of cutting and pinning and sweating to get the thing to correspond to my dimensions. All those years of being a tomboy had given me an athletic build. Not good in the world of Elwell.

So when I went before her with the finished product, it was pretty obvious that my Mother had cranked it out. I couldn’t do work like that and Miss Elwell knew it. She gave it a cursory glance and said simply “C,” for my grade. Which was fine with me because I just wanted the ordeal over with.

But when I said something about not being able to find a pattern to fit me, Miss Elwell uttered the words that have stuck with me to this very day, some fifty years later. Words that have haunted me in every dressing room of any clothing store I’ve ever been in and before every mirror where I have stood and contemplated my visage.

Sitting at her desk she looked up at me with those twinkling eyes and said,

 “You have an oddball shape.”

This was spoken by a woman who was as wide as she was tall.

There was one happy memory from that year of living femininely. I had to sew a shank button on a piece of fabric, which meant sewing the button on loosely and then wrapping the thread many times around the bottom of the button to make it more secure. I tentatively placed it in Miss Elwell’s hands and waited for the usual. Instead, she looked at me with those twinkling eyes, smiled and said “A.”

I may be an oddball, but I wouldn’t be an old maid after all.

This ATC’s for you, Miss Elwell.

6

Attention Walmart Flossers…

When I got out of my car at Walmart today, a used flosspick was on the pavement next to my parking spot:

 

 

Question of the day:  If there are people who go to Walmart who actually use flosspicks, why are so many of them missing teeth?
Would these products do more to encourage Walmart shoppers to floss?

 

Somehow, I don’t think this next one would be popular:

Or, we could resort to our baser natures and go for the dog butt floss dispenser:

                             

Why do I notice stuff like used flosspicks?
You can take the girl out of dental hygiene, but you can’t take the dental hygienist out of the girl.  
Or something. 
12

Really Thinking “Outside the Box”

More adventures in cat care—-

I had to take our Himalayan cat, Neferkitty, to the vet’s this afternoon because she’s been peeing outside the litter box a lot this last week.  With two indoor cats and an ancient Toy Fox Terrier sharing our house, it took a bit of sleuthing to determine who the culprit was behind the puddles we kept finding on the tile floor.  (Thankfully, we don’t have any carpet.  The house is all tile with area rugs.) 

This morning we put on our Sherlock Holmes caps and deduced it had to be Neferkitty because there hadn’t been any puddles until after she woke up from sleeping on the bed all night.  Elementary, my dear Watson! 

So, off to the vet.  He asked the usual questions about any change in litter, change in placement of the two boxes we have, any new people or cats in the house, etc.  The answers were “no” on all counts.  Even so, he strongly suspected it was a behavioral thing but we went ahead with an antibiotic injection so that if, after 10 days, she wasn’t using the box again, at least we’d know it wasn’t because of a bladder infection. 

I opted for the injection, even though it was kind of pricey, because there was no way in hell I was going to dose her twice a day with a liquid antibiotic for 10 days.  I would be a quivering mass of flayed skin by that time, and besides, the last time I had to give her eye drops and ointment twice a day she took to living in the bathtub for a month; kind of like a Southern belle taking to her bed with a case of the vapors. 

No, thank you, Miss Scarlett.  I don’t know nuthin’ about giving antibiotics.

In addition, the vet suggested that he could put her on hormones if at the end of the 10 days she was still peeing “inappropriately”, as they call it in the vet literature.  I asked him how that would help and he said it would make her “feel more girly” which would, somehow, make her want to use the litter box and not the floor. 

I dunno.  I take Premarin and even though I pee in the toilet, I don’t think I would start peeing on the floor if I discontinued taking it.  At any rate, maybe it won’t get to that.

While I was scanning the interwebs for info. about this problem, I found something that, outwardly, just seems…..wrong. 

Here’s a picture of…..well…..I kid you not…..

A “Kitty Litter Cake”

Kitty Litter Cake.

And for those of you brave enough to try it…..here’s the recipe:

CAKE INGREDIENTS

1 box spice or German chocolate cake mix
1 box of white cake mix
1 package white sandwich cookies
1 large package vanilla instant pudding mix
A few drops green food coloring
12 small Tootsie Rolls or equivalent

SERVING “DISHES AND UTENSILS”

1 NEW cat-litter box
1 NEW cat-litter box liner
1 NEW pooper scooper

Prepare and bake cake mixes, according to directions, in any size pan. Prepare pudding and chill.
Crumble cookies in small batches in blender or food processor. Add a few drops of green food coloring to 1 cup of cookie crumbs.
Mix with a fork or shake in a jar. Set aside. When cakes are at room temperature, crumble them into a large bowl. Toss with half of the remaining cookie crumbs and enough pudding to make the mixture moist but not soggy. Place liner in litter box and pour in mixture.

Unwrap 3 Tootsie Rolls and heat in a microwave until soft and pliable. Shape the blunt ends into slightly curved points. Repeat with three more rolls. Bury the rolls decoratively in the cake mixture. Sprinkle remaining white cookie crumbs over the mixture, then scatter green crumbs lightly over top. Heat 5 more Tootsie Rolls until almost melted. Scrape them on top of the cake and sprinkle with crumbs from the litter box. Heat the remaining Tootsie Roll until pliable and hang it over the edge of the box.

Place box on a sheet of newspaper and serve with scooper. Enjoy!

0

Blast from the Past

I watched the Rose Parade this morning on t.v. in high definition for the first time and was really blown away by the experience.  Amazing detail! 

Even better, the city in So. California where I grew up, Downey, won the Founders Trophy for best float created entirely by community effort. 

Here’s the artist rendering of that float:

When I was a senior in high school, back in the Stone Age of 1965, my friend, Penny, was chosen as a princess for the Miss Downey Court and was lucky enough to ride on the Rose Parade float for that year. 

Lyndon Johnson was President at the time and had amused (and appalled) folks when he used to demonstrate how he pulled the ears of his beagle dogs— lifting their front paws off the ground.  (He said they liked it….hmmm.) 

So the float for ’65 was, naturally, a beagle with a huge cowboy hat.  The dog’s eyes were all googly from having its ears yanked and the title of the float was “Ouch!” 

I found a faded photo of it on the Downey Rose Float Association website:

Downey, by the way,  is well-known for having the oldest McDonald’s restaurant in the country. The 1953 McDonald’s restaurant at 10207 Lakewood Blvd. (at Florence Ave.) was the third franchised McDonald’s built and is the oldest surviving McDonald’s. It was listed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 1994 list of the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. It was one of the first restaurants franchised by Dick and Mac McDonald, prior to the involvement of Ray Kroc in the company, and it still has the original “Golden arches” and a 60-foot animated neon “Speedee” sign.

With low sales, damage from the 1994 Northridge earthquake, and the lack of a drive-up window and indoor seating, the restaurant was closed. However with both the public and preservationists demanding the restaurant be saved, McDonald’s spent two years restoring the restaurant and reopened it. Customers today can visit the original restaurant and an adjoining gift shop and museum.

I had many a meal from that place when I was a young’un!  The funny thing is, when my husband and I take our grandkids to the McDonald’s here in Texas, there are photos of this one in Downey on the wall next to our favorite booth!  Looking at them always gives me a “Twilight Zone” feeling.  Here I am, in a McDonald’s in central Texas with my grandkids, looking at photos on the wall that just happen to be of the McDonald’s I used to frequent in California in the ’50s and ’60s. 

I think it would make Rod Serling proud…

5

A Mind is a Terrible Thing to “Waist”

Today I read that one of supermodel Kate Moss’ favorite mottos is:

 “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” 

 Now, I have to interject here that she qualifies this by saying that even though she tries to remember this, it doesn’t always work for her. 

Even with that disclaimer, I would like to add my take on this:  horse patootie!

Yes, there was a time long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away where I, too, would have subscribed to that motto.  I would deny myself not only sweets, pastries and the lovelier gastronomic delicacies, but also the basic necessities of existence—like food itself— in my desire to attain or maintain a girlish figure. 

Back in the early 1970s my Starter Husband and I endured the infamous Atkins diet, where one ate only meat, and maybe some eggs, for every meal….every day.  The sheer boredom and monotony of that diet was enough to trigger weight loss.  I think that’s the reason why I couldn’t look another steak in the face for years. 

Yes, the weight came off,  but I was so famished and woozy that I couldn’t enjoy the skinniness without having to go lie down for a bit first. 

I don’t think this is what Kate meant by her comment. 

And I have to laugh, somewhat ruefully to be sure, at how “fat” I thought I was at that time in my life—fat enough, in my mind, to put myself through such torture.  I wish I was as “fat” now as I was then! 

No, I don’t weigh anywhere near what I did almost 40 years ago, and to be brutally frank, I don’t give a rat’s ass if I don’t.  I could deny myself all the things I enjoy—like chocolate, the gift of the gods—but would I really feel any better if I did?  (And if I became truly “skinny”, what would I do with all the surplus skin?  I bet Kate never had to worry about that one.)

I walk two miles almost every day and try to eat in moderation, with the occasional splurge—about which I refuse to feel guilty. 

I’ll never again look like the young woman of my late 20s, but I’m comfortable with the old bat I’ve become in my 60s. 

To honor the many ladies who take issue with Ms. Moss, I dedicate this ATC. 

May we all eat for the right reasons.

vegetarian