Not signed in (Sign In)

Vanilla 1.1.2 is a product of Lussumo. More Information: Documentation, Community Support.

    • CommentAuthorCO2*
    • CommentTimeAug 11th 2017
    Have not posted in a while. Wondering if you all have suggestions who are further along the creation of a new normal than I am. I am now not working. The little part time job that I had has ended and now am faced with how to spend all the time I now have. I have hobbies. I am involved in my church. I exercise and do outside things. I have grandchildren. I did take 2 of them this summer for lunch but now school is starting and it is more difficult. I realize how much of my life has been work related--when he was sick and even before that. Have made a few friends since his passing. I find myself feeling like a huge puzzle with missing pieces and cannot seem to locate the missing pieces. It was 2 years in May so maybe this is sort of normal.
    • CommentTimeAug 13th 2017 edited
    CO2*, I've been thinking about your post, and my first reaction was that when our spouses die, we lose our centre. They have been what we revolved around. Then I thought, well, you had a job, and a job can be a centre, too. Is there a possibility of getting another part-time job? If not, maybe a volunteer job? Depending on your interests, working as a volunteer can be rewarding to both you and society. There does come a time when because of age or illness, that is no longer practical. Other "centres" can be a community Senior's Centre, or a book club at your nearest public library.
    You write that your have your church and grandchildren, and that is wonderful. Two years is not a long time since his death. It will become easier and life still worthwhile, but it will never the same.
    I don't remember your age, or if you live in a city or in the country, but there is another empty spot just waiting for you to fill.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeAug 17th 2017
    I don't have depression. I've done some reading and there are nine or so markers and I only have two of them. I sleep well for one thing almost every night and can easily roll over and drift off again or lay there and think about stuff the way someone might go shopping to look but not necessarily to buy.

    There's plenty to look at among the things on offer. For example, that my outlook continues to evolve where for the first time my mind is voluntarily looking into the near future. That's new because my survival methods seemed dependent on no such thing existing for well over five years.

    The mind can be highly selective where I would remember my property tax bill is due at the end of the month, but never look at anything else. This morning my mind touched on my new need for more chickens in my life. I explained that last post. Today or soon I will be looking up cooking whole small chickens because I made the terrible mistake of making my own chicken noodle soup and it was so delicious and full of goodness, that I've ruined the store bought soups my cupboard is full of.

    I believe life is easy to comprehend but hard to understand. It's easy to live but hard to thrive. Yet the movie plays right here before our eyes and what we experience from that is what we notice. Take my chicken story. I got that chicken because the pizza place was closed. I cleaned the chicken the next morning because I planned to make sandwiches with the pile of chicken left over. It was only then I noticed I owned a chicken carcass.

    If that had happened last year I would have made the sandwiches and be done. But it didn't happen last year, it happened last week. So without committing to trying to make a soup in my mind, I realized I had no celery and that the sandwiches would be better on fresh buns with fresh lettuce and sliced tomatoes. Because it didn't feel like a chore to go shopping and I felt enough willingness, I went shopping and got those things among the groceries I bought.

    I still had no firm ideas about soup when I sat back here and found myself soon looking at chicken soup making videos. Then I suddenly phoned my friend to ask some questions because he's a good cook. Some time after that, I had the first concrete thought of taking a shot at it and the second I did, I realized I could make the soup now even though it was just mid afternoon. In that instant I got out of my chair and went down into the kitchen and my life changed.

    You may think that's an exaggeration, but I promise you it's not. Our entire lives never change, but with a little awareness, we can mark where specific things did change. It's the changing blend of those things in our awareness which we call ourselves.

    Store bought soup with it's sodium and formed meat chunks isn't ever going to be the same again. I'm also not paying $40 for that chicken delivered often. But I have a window now where the winter is coming where I can learn how to roast an $8 chicken knowing that when I master that, I will have winter days with roast chicken smelling up my house followed by days of chicken soup cooking in my house and I want both of those in my future - regularly.

    This story isn't about soup. It's about nurturing the soul. Someone wrote a book about that. Chicken Soup For The Soul it was called. See if you can follow this logic:

    +one $40 chicken
    +$6 two formed meat chunk soups not bought
    -$8 for one whole chicken
    -$3 for carrots, onion, and a celery stalk
    = $35 for seven pints of Hagen Daaz ice cream

    Throw in three more dollars for a couple of fresh buns and a tomato and I'm eating well for three nights for $14. This doesn't beat my baked ham trio which comes in at $12 for three nights. It does also raise the future prospect of making roasts again. I used to make roast beef sandwiches the second day. If I add a beef soup to my repertoire I can make that a trio too and then I will have a trio of trios.

    For anyone reading who isn't able to do these things, the day will come where I'm either in a home being fed by someone who CAN open a jar, or I'm renting a flat above a restaurant and guess where I'm eating. I can still lift heavy pots (...well,) and do these things. If I couldn't I wouldn't be investing myself in them.

    It's not the soup. It's owning the pas de un of eating for one. Well. It's one small step more than a giant leap for mankind. Make that humankind.
    • CommentTimeAug 17th 2017
    There are chickens and there are chickens. I'm wondering what kind of chicken you started with? It must have been special.
    I've had chickens that resisted all attempts to be tender and flavourful. Tough as boots and just as tasteless. Tell us, please.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeAug 17th 2017
    I have no knowledge of these chickens you speak of. That is exactly the knowledge I now seek which is all things roastoratum chickenundrum. To know how to be given the bird and how to run a fowl and I don't want to lay an egg; instead to achieve a creamy oneness with the gravy (mental note to self: make chicken gravy part of the plan) and have crispy wings and legs beneath our feet. Or in this case sticking up in the pot.

    I ordered that chicken delivered from Swiss Chalet which might be just Canadian. The cats were fully supportive of this plan once all had been made clear. When their eyes cross while they're chewing and they can't stop licking their lips, that's two cat nubs up.

    As I embark on this expedition, I would be pleased to update you on what I find out. Thank you for putting me in mind of chicken gravy. I may as well take a shot at that too. You sound good, I hope you're well.
    • CommentAuthormyrtle*
    • CommentTimeAug 17th 2017
    Just go to Costco and get a rotisserie chicken. They're already cooked and delicious. Cats love them, too. Here in the U.S., they cost $5.00.
    • CommentAuthorcassie*
    • CommentTimeAug 23rd 2017
    Hello Wolf, I am missing your posts. It has been a while.
    I love that you shared the chicken with the pusscats! I know what you mean about the eyes crossed with delight!
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeAug 24th 2017
    Hi Cassie, I hope you're doing alright. I'm pleased to keep sharing what's happening with me and to be honest, I'm feeling good about being missed. I've always said I believe that sharing with like is a healing balm both in the telling and in the consideration. I'm quite alone in that belief with the exception of Elizabeth. I don't think that means anything except that it shows how we all see things differently.

    I ordered that chicken a second time and my soup came out again. I know that because I rarely eat the same thing twice in a row done in the same way, but both times I gobbled up the leftover soup the next afternoon. I almost never eat anything before six pm either but home made chicken soup flies off the shelf.

    I told my sister my soup story and we've been comparing what we make and how we cook it ever since. The way I told her that story was as an illustration of how we are surrounded by things we do not see - both good and bad, and the real trick is rarely how something is done but is always seeing something that wants to be done.

    We're our own worst enemies when it comes to trying something new or doing something differently even as we say we seek those very things. I told my sister that we were illustrating that perfectly. I made a soup and now we explore food where before I made a soup that whole venue of conversation seemed not to exist.

    My wife and I didn't do much together in the way of activities or games. One thing we did do was jigsaw puzzles. I would route us into some of the games stores and we would buy a few of the 1000 piece and larger puzzles. We like the fun ones that had hundreds of little cartoon people doing all kinds of things. We always started them the same way. She would pull out all the edges and try and build that while I took some chunk of the middle and worked on that. When we had enough we would combine them and from there work on whatever drew our interest. Some of the puzzles went into the thousands of pieces and that might be on our dining room table for weeks. That's how my mother got interested. She would come and visit and stay some nights and often she would pick away at the puzzle. That started her puzzle era where she had a little enclosed sunroom in her apartment and there was always a puzzle on the go there.

    My mother hadn't considered jigsaw puzzles but once they existed for her she had a new hobby. They always existed though. It was that she hadn't considered them. If she hadn't come across ours, she wouldn't have given herself that hobby as an interest.

    It's not a lack on our part or that the boring pile of dung we are causes that; it's that this is the true nature of living which my resident male Cardinal has recently found out. In the last year or so he has looked in when peanuts fling out the window for the blue jays. He's part of the regulars that eat here from the piles of seeds in the winter. He sings in my tree most evenings. But only in the last month and a bit has he caught on that if he sits up in the branches right outside my window as peanuts fling out and waits - there may well be some shelled peanuts that follow out the window. He's useless as tits on a bull moose with the peanut in the shell; but, loves peanuts.

    Now that cardinal has learned. He comes and sits right outside my window without bluejays and it WORKS! Out fling the nutty bits of a peanut only. The Einstein of Cardinals except they can all learn new things just like every other creature.

    Take my neighbour. I finally said yes to coming over for a steak dinner and I haven't seen him since. That was almost three weeks ago. Motorcycle man didn't last in that job. He was escorted out the following week. His work was good he explained and he didn't really know why except for liability issues maybe; but, that's why I advised him to shift gears and focus on fitting in and becoming a valued member of the team. The very same drive and fight that got him there was surely also his undoing when a massive change in gears was required.

    A year ago I wouldn't have opened up like that and a year ago I would be worried that it was me who had done something and maybe they didn't want the old guy around. The truth is they were never going to be my new close friends and my great need to belong weighs a thousand pounds and could never be sustained by such perches as these. That's the same as the chicken soup. Those facts don't change that I'm becoming more willing to add new things and that I'm learning how to look at things differently which is the ability I absolutely need to bring new things into my life.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeAug 24th 2017

    I'm often awake at five or six in the morning. I don't have trouble sleeping but I'm getting older and I'm often asleep before 11 pm. By six I may very well have had seven hours sleep and I don't need more than that. I used to wake up and worry that I couldn't sleep or wonder what was wrong. I was so wired that things were wrong because of those years. I gradually learned (just like the cardinal) to relax and let my thoughts drift and that hour or two before I get up is now my rest time. I play a game that if I wake up and it's dark then I have to guess what time it is. I've always been pretty good at that and I still usually come close and am miles out once in a while. Who cares? It's my quiet rest time and lots of things flow through my thoughts including drifting off again.

    For example, recently I thought about all the parties that hurt me so much and I was surprised that there's nothing there. I can't get remotely interested enough in pretending to invest in any part of those ideas - even though they consumed me for years. I wanted peace and after a couple of years I have it. I might not be aware of that if I hadn't considered that and then I wouldn't be pleased that I really don't care anymore about who did or said what back then. (The cardinal is outside my window as I type.)

    That whole topic that used to consume me hadn't crossed my mind in months and I might never actually know that it's moved next to the prom queen story and so many other stories about what happened to me which I acknowledge but have no use or need for in my life.

    If my x-best friend could do any of those things he wouldn't be using strong sleeping pills and fighting sleep anyway or be chased endlessly by the things he's trying to ignore. He wouldn't have the ADD his psychiatrist pulled out of his butt for him (the current fad in diagnosis). He might not have cut off his own nose to spite his face where he needs me as much as I need him. The most extraordinary fit in my life wasn't Dianne - it was this friend. I'm absolutely certain he knows that too.

    But I know him and I know that after 24 years of throwing everything else overboard to run away from himself that he's as entrenched as ever. I watched his whole body shudder when I reminded him last year that it had been 23 years then and he refused to give himself a break. I know what I watched. I watched him realize for perhaps the thousandth time that it was true knowing within moments it wouldn't be anymore. We'd covered that ground hundreds of times with me there and 24 years of that now is a long, long time to run without getting anywhere.

    I run too. But then I get tired and what I mean is sick and tired. At some point it won't be worth it and I will turn and either eat it or be eaten. At one point I survived Alzheimer's. But I got sick and tired of that before Dianne died and after she was released I was already in full armor ready to kill. I'm coming in feet first I said and I meant it. I'm not going down - you are. I won't ever tire - you will. And one day I will wake up in my predawn rest period and play bits of Pride & Prejudice and review Trumps latest antics and think about what Kyrie being traded to Boston means to the Raptors. And wonder if there actually is a steak dinner or there is no steak dinner. And with a little luck it might cross my mind that those old conflicts don't cross my mind anymore and when they do it's to notice they don't cross my mind anymore.

    I don't care if you have a hundred million dollars. I'm smart enough to know that doesn't mean a thing with regard to how we feel about ourselves and our lives. Our outlook has squat to do with what we own or have or don't. It's what we value. That valuation which the thing does not have until we give it, doesn't just rule our lives - it is the very life we perceive.

    Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day. Teach a person how to fish and you feed them for a lifetime. Learn how to decide what to believe about something and you learn how to change it's valuation.

    Here for example is my valuation of accelerating decrepitude: up yours.
    • CommentAuthorcassie*
    • CommentTimeAug 24th 2017
    You are so much kinder to yourself these days Wolf.
    It is really good to see that now in your posts.
    I don't "share" much as I am too afraid that someone will recognize me or my story and only the cat knows my business!
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeSep 2nd 2017
    I can't see that I'm being kinder to myself but I accept that. What I mean is I've looked and I can't find that in my posts but I do accept it's probably there because I do feel better about my life and that's in that vein.

    I heard from my nephew this morning on Dianne's side. First contact since February 2015 when Dianne died. I'm being invited out to lunch and I've accepted.

    Next door, first there was a steak dinner then there wasn't and now there is. The x-girlfriend came for a visit and is still there but is advertised as leaving soon. I'm not reading the same tea leaves but we shall see.

    As for me, I will be making chicken soup later today for the third time. I'm noticing things constantly now I never thought about before. I just noticed the 'bottom of the page' option in the upper right corner of Joan's site here. I never once saw that. I have my space game which I bought for my 'vacation' I talked about back at the beginning of the year. It's taken me months to come up the learning curve and I'm finally ready to seriously take on The Unbidden and save the galaxy. I have that game saved just before what promises to be an epic space battle. Instead, I looked for a new game with real depth that my old computer can handle and I found one. I spent a few hours learning the fundamentals last night and this morning I'm going back to learn more.

    There are still some people in my world who are suggesting that if I were truly well then I would be out there remarrying or visibly getting on with things. I care so little about how wrong other people's ideas are for me these days that I'm aware of how good that is and don't bother to point that out. It's good because the things they're saying haven't changed, but saying those things doesn't seem threatening to me or even bother me anymore, so more proof that I have changed.

    What was once a genuine struggle is now work, and that work is not to find a meaningful life which is a completely fuzzy, airy fairy, meaningless phrase. What we mean by a meaningful life is that it has our interest because we have real interests in it. It's our interests that matter to us and I see no way I could have participated in that in the same way a ballerina can't dance in full hockey gear - make that full goalie gear. I was too harmed by what all literature and two psychologists agreed is a very serious and harmful life event. The goalie gear is gone but that, unfortunately, doesn't mean I can suddenly dance like a ballerina. What I can do is be me and try to learn how not to be my own wet blanket. Not that easy but essential.
    I also will be making chicken soup today from my leftover rotisserie chicken. I use a quart of chicken broth as most of the liquid and then proceed pretty much as you do.

    I don't know that it is anyone's business to be defining a "meaningful" life for someone else. Some people want to be by themselves at home and then there is me who hates being home and will find someplace else to be if I can possibly can. I am dreading the next few months until I can go to Florida in January. Is my life any more meaningful than that of someone who stays home? I doubt it.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeSep 2nd 2017
    Hi Mary,

    I agree no one else can define a meaningful life for someone else. I think instead it's hard enough for us all to find that. I also think we arrive when we no longer feel the need to explain to anyone, including ourselves, why we're doing what we do - instead we know that we like it. Can you find any day trips like a dinner/theater package or a museum or gallery or even a shopping trip with an overnight in a town or city somewhere around you?

    For myself, it truly feels like almost none of that was available until I got far enough away in time and experience. Before that, whatever I might have thought at the time, I was inside the damage it did to me. Not exactly, but a little bit like getting out of earshot of a loud air horn that never stops and finding only later how much easier it is to do almost anything when it wasn't the loudest thing around anymore.

    I hope both our soups are excellent.
    • CommentAuthorcassie*
    • CommentTimeSep 2nd 2017
    Acceptance equates to kindness in my mind, Wolf. I am now going to put on my "tutu" and read the tea leaves!
    Happy soup making to you and Mary.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeSep 4th 2017
    The soup was good. I put some small peas in it this time and with the chicken, the fine egg noodles, the carrots, celery, and onion, rosemary, thyme, basil, pepper and salt, that is the blend I'm going to stay with. I'm having chicken soup for the third night where I've also reached my maximum three quart soup. I use one tin of chicken consume too I should add after simmering the carcass for 2 1/2 hours. My goal is to settle into at least freezing two servings so that I can space the chicken soup out.

    I'm narrowing in on buying a fresh, whole chicken. I can get one for $9 I can see, and once I learn how to roast a chicken that works for me, I can watch for sales where I can feed myself like royalty for the princely sum of $3 a day for four days - that's $1 for the consume and $2 for the vegetables where I'm going to make mashed potatoes once I learn the secret arts of making a chicken gravy that makes my eye's cross. The cats have no idea what's going on. They finished the last scraps of the chicken last night while I had the soup and some salami & swiss sandwiches.

    What's all this chicken thing about? Before chicken Wolf was struggling with cooking for one in his fifth year, after chicken Wolf is hunting more stuff to do and cooking for one, as a result, hasn't felt like a chore since. It will again but I've already learned what to do.

    There's still a lot ahead of me. What once seemed like a very hard road now seems like a very long road. I'm still settling down where there seems to be a wide array of things that cross my mind which I have no answer for partly because some of the questions are brand new. What am I now? What do I do? I'm not too worried about answering all the questions and concerns because I've already learned I'm changing profoundly compared to most people who aren't in the middle of massive life changes - so I feel the need for answers but I can also see that even the questions are changing. It might be better to wait until it doesn't feel like I'm different every season.

    The same is true of my emotions. I started out trying to hold on where I'm sure everybody remembers what I mean. When she died that became just try to keep going where I knew that time had to be on my side. Eventually unknown things inside seemed to subside enough that I came out of that woods and the countryside became more discrete. That is still happening where I seem to be noticing new things as much as feeling differently towards many of the things I was already aware of. My rec room and my neighbours are two examples of that. Just as one day I noticed my christmas tree was still up in July after being up for four years straight and never 'seeing' it.

    You can easily prove this to yourself by looking at a familiar scene and making yourself notice something new in it. You will if you search for it. And what is there to be learned from that? That humans play with certainty they have a full deck however many times they lean over to pick up another card.

    I know I'm not happy. I'm lonely and parts of me are still afraid about how things are going to work out. I used to actually be afraid of that in the sense of real fear and worry. Now when I say afraid, it's still fear but feels more like concerns about unanswered and important questions. That's real I believe. It's not easy to 'stay objective' or know fully what that means when my recent history is littered with evidence that I have been and still am going through massive and fundamental changes.

    I know all this, but I also know my job is to settle down and learn to self entertain which doesn't just help right now but will be very useful when I get another year in and find out what I think then. The only thing I know for sure is it's going to be very different because even if the rate of change slows way down - it seems like it's more than enough to guarantee that next year is this year's science fiction.

    My job is to settle down in and get entertained by my life. In that, nothing comes to me. It's me that goes to everything and anything. The reason is I'm the one who wants so I'm the one who goes and gets. Chicken soup, new computer game, neighbour, book, hobby, relaxation - it's all the same thing these days. Learning how to stop being my own wet blanket.

    BTW - I earned all this the hard way and all of it has been hard. Now that the house is back up and empty I'm working on refilling it. No one is qualified to comment unless they walked in my shoes and good luck to them with that. Present company excepted. Obviously.
    • CommentAuthormyrtle*
    • CommentTimeSep 4th 2017
    Wolf, This sounds good. I'm going to try it with a rotisserie chicken.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeSep 4th 2017
    Myrtle, here's what I did.

    The first time I put on a 3 quart pot of water and put it on boil. I'd already pulled off all the chicken I want for soup and for sandwiches and I clean it reasonably well. Before the water gets anywhere near boiling I've got all the chicken bones including the wings and legs left over from my plate into it and I get that up to a simmer and let it go over two hours.

    After two hours I cut up one small onion fine, 1-2 stalks of celery fairly small, and one large carrot also fairly small. Some people like the carrot pieces larger. Then in the final large pot I'm making the soup in, I throw the three veggies in with a tablespoon of vegetable oil and let them get part way cooked. On that I add maybe half a teaspoon of rosemarie, a bit less thyme, and about half a teaspoon of basil and half a teaspoon of pepper. I might add salt near the end.

    When the vegetables are part way done and the herbs have been stirred in, I have a flour sieve that's got a good sized mesh basket and pour the chicken broth with the carcass through the sieve and onto the vegetables. If I didn't have that I would use a spagetti strainer with paper towels lining it first. The easiest way to move all the weight around would be to take the pot with the vegetables off the burner and put it into the sink. Then put the strainer on top of that and now pour the chicken broth through the strainer into the vegetable pot. Into that pot I add the small tin of chicken consomme. The second time I didn't use any and the soup was fine but it was better with the consomme.

    Once I have the, what is now basically chicken vegetable soup, simmering on the stove, I cut up the chicken I want to add to the soup and put it in. Then I add the fine egg noodles which for three quarts is somewhat less than a cup. I think all kinds of noodles work and you just have to make sure the noodles are cooked. Finally I add about 1/3 cup of peas. I don't measure anything but those are all close. After half an hour or so, I stir the soup and test that there's enough chicken and peas in the spoonfuls I'm pulling out and I taste the broth and see if I want to add salt or pepper.

    I still need to get experience with freezing soup. One night deep into the winter I envision realizing I haven't eaten as I do so often and finding a bowl of my chicken soup and on that night this chickendance will have come full circle.

    I authorize myself to have my life and the lack of enthusiasm and the reluctance and the pain I still feel won't stop me from going ahead with things anyway - not now. That would be a waste of life just because I don't know how to do this. Not knowing what I'm doing has never stopped me before and there isn't a single good reason to stop now. Right Dianne? Poor kid.

    It was never enough to survive because it's not enough. I survived surviving and I think there that if you want it, have some patience, and work at the things as you can, then it does feel better in time. That's not enough either. I won't put my name to a story like that. I expect great things. It's good to have goals. Especially when feeling like I expect great things from myself is all I want there. I have no interest in actually doing the work. I'm here to play.

    Make that learn. That sounds much better. I'm here to learn.
    • CommentAuthormyrtle*
    • CommentTimeSep 4th 2017
    Wolf, The mechanics you describe are interesting. I don't cook so I don't know how it works but I'll go back and read this when I try the recipe. One thing I did learn (from my s-i-l) was that it is much easier to remove the meat from the bone when the chicken is warm. So I'll do that as soon as I get back from Costco with the rotisserie chicken. I don't see any problem with freezing your soup. I have frozen lots of stuff in small portions. Keep in mind this advice is from someone who does not know how to cook.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeSep 7th 2017 edited
    Appreciate what I have. That's sounds like a lot of work. It's very, very unfortunate that the alternatives sound even worse. I could hate what I have (insert your own verb - loath, despise, ignore) or I could jump into an entirely different life and find out as I go or I could just sit here and argue with myself until the next ice age. I've never seen such a squalid and lopsided hand to play.

    There's never a brochure. All things in life should come with a brochure that in simple terms explains how this new thing works. For example:

    "When you fall off the cliff the thing to do is to crawl back out - on to even ground. You have to guess what that means and when that happens. When you get there you'll know it's just you here and you can visit places but you don't live anywhere. Your house might be a building or it might be a barricade and in rarer cases it might be your home (in which case you're done - so off with you). It's the place you return to after you visit people who have relationships. Don't tell them how lucky they are because what they hear is how lonely you are and both of you are right.

    All roads lead to one place. Discovering your true self no matter how grizzled or ornery or boring or angry or sad you might be. Wait. That's just openers. You have to learn to appreciate not just your whacko self, you have to learn to appreciate the deplorable and gut wrenching situation your life appears to be in. You'll know you've done that when you and your life seem OK. No one knows how so don't bother asking. Change how you see things. Better yet, learn to believe in how you see things. There aren't any guidelines because the whole thing is subjective and personal."

    -brought to you by the department of human welfare
    "Live Better Informed"

    Maybe brochures aren't such a hot idea. Maybe I could start appreciating my life with smaller things, like that I'm not the fourth son of a curry merchant in Mumbai, or that I didn't land in a yurt in mongolia nomading with Boris and Broomhilde or whatever they call themselves. I'm not Belgian. I'm not Iglik the Innuit wondering whether it's worth it to come out of the igloo to get more frozen blubber. Hey, I think I may be getting this. I'm not jumping up and down in the Serengeti with a bone through my nose. I'm not working at WalMart sucking up to a sadistic cow with a brain the size of a walnut. Sweet. Hypothetically. Oh well, never mind.
    Yeah, how about this one: "I'm appreciating that I'm not a beach litter-picker on Barbuda." Or, "I'm appreciating that I'm not a sanitation worker in Houston." lol You all are making me hungry on this thread with your chicken soup conversation. I'm glad I made a tourtiere yesterday (remember when Jazzy told us about them?)--it is a French-Canadian meat pie--very simple to make, and freezes well if you can't eat it all up at once. It has become one of my go-to basics--I've been making one every month or so, just to put in my mealtime rotation. Hey Wolf, I agree that it's a long road--so we might as well make it as pleasant as we can, even though we don't exactly know where it's leading us. We might as well eat good meals, eh?

    (Did you pick up that I said "eh?" That's in honor of you Canadians!)
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeSep 11th 2017
    Emotional intelligence: sometimes a lunch is just a lunch

    I taught Dianne about emotions. She was raised not to have any. In her family showing emotion was like conflict - to be avoided at all costs. In some ways she was ahead of me in her actual experiences when we met, but she didn't understand. I taught her how to share her feelings with me and even how to have an orgasm. One of the stranger moments of my early life among many was when Dianne told me she didn't even know women had orgasms. That's alright, most people don't know men have the same milk lines that women do. Men's breasts work, they're just turned off. Most people don't know that men's nipples get hard just like women and that men can be stimulated in exactly the same way. In some ways IMO, without emotional intelligence, sex is a lot like a race to eat the delicious desert as fast as possible and then presumably go do something else right away.

    Our reactions to things like that are a weather vane of our emotional outlook. Too much information about emotion is the same thing as a CLOSED sign hanging in the window. That is as much peoples' right as it is it's own reward. That applies to music, art, reading, eating, talking, and pretty much everything, especially in our relationships both with anyone else and with ourselves. Everyone is in a relationship with themselves which the constant chatter in the windmills of their own mind verifies but does not convince.

    When we use the word 'feel', we're talking about emotion. No thought or opinion or belief is felt. Instead the thought or opinion or belief is the door by which the emotions are opened. Emotion doesn't need thought to happen; it can run through thought like a rhinoceros in a glass shop. Love, hate, fear, anger, bitterness, desire, and need are examples.

    I have all of those right now just like most people although those emotions aren't the focus of my topic. I can touch the love I felt for Dianne and I love my cats. I hate some of the things that happened. I fear for my health. I'm angry at my x-friend. I feel bitterness and far less frequently, desire. I don't even understand my needs and the claptrap I say about them makes me angry.

    My topic is around the fact that I've never had the horse before the cart before. I've never had either the need or the time to understand myself or what state my emotions are in or about how any of that can be made to work in real life. I've been too busy keeping up with all the things that were happening in my life and that just kept on happening. Keeping up was the business of living a life - not contemplating how emotions work.

    Yet here I am with time on my hands and knowing that every single step of this 'journey' has been marked by changes in how I feel. I have evidence this is so beyond my own ideas after a decade in Alzheimer's Fun House Of Mirrors. I have people around me who tell me exactly what they think and all opinion jives with what it feels like inside here.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeSep 11th 2017

    I've learned to be cautious and I doubt I'll give up my Socrates thinking about myself any time soon. I never used to have that either but when you're the patient and the doctor and the floor sweeper, those from the 'show me' state fare better IMO. I'm on my own in here and the fact that those around me now agree doesn't change the fact that the very same people didn't agree at all recently - and it was they who were wrong.

    I used to fall to my knees and beg. I spent years not being aware of 'life'. I spent years not sure I would survive all the hardships raining down on me. I used to spontaneously weep. I don't do or feel any of those things anymore. Not black and white but the way anyone does and doesn't.

    My nephew on Dianne's side who is the first family member to contact me 2 1/2 years after she passed, to invite me to lunch, isn't him reaching out. He's got his hands full with his parents and he apologized for not contacting me sooner just as all nieces and nephews do when they reach out - but it's for lunch, and sometimes, like the rest of life, a lunch is just a lunch. I can do that now and just catch up with what's happening without feeling a need to make any comments because thoughts like that aren't how I feel now. I consider that truth to be emotional intelligence but in all honesty, I have no real and workable idea what that means.

    I would like to say that the things I knowingly believe change into the future, but that's just what I believe and my evidence for that is a single anecdote. I'm off now to change the economic fortunes of north africa in my new game which feels like a lot of fun. I believe that in the golden years with my dues paid up, I would be a dufus to deny myself fun just because it's completely clear that life on a rock as a sentient being can seem crazy at times. I would never design it like this and if there is anything after this, that's exactly the information I'm going to share. I know something about hell which is that it wasn't until I got there. No one has consulted me on anything despite my being sentient. Fix that then and do what you will to your robots. I'm not playing.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeSep 14th 2017
    I wonder if I will ever take in what my feelings are about what happened, not with how I went through it, but my deep feelings about her and how horrible that was for her. She was so unassuming and just plain nice and I loved her so much. I guess I resisted wanting to know something terrible was wrong and by the time we were diagnosed she wasn't the same Dianne as just a few years earlier.

    It must have been terribly shocking to her because we never did have a long heart to heart talk about it all. She didn't want to hear about it and I agreed so we spent two years pretending and went out a lot and to a lot of places. By then no nuanced conversation with the real Dianne was possible and instead the loss of skills started piling up.

    I mourned for her and us. I wept and sobbed after she died. I have a decent sense of what that was and how it felt. This is something different which may be no more than the hole left inside me after the love I centered my life around was taken and the stunned permanence of such a horrible way to go for her. I doubt that feeling is going anywhere anytime soon.

    I don't believe in living in the past but I do believe in dwelling on it. I learn from experience and 100% of my experience is in the past. When I learn from what I said here, I'll be going into the past to do so. My past is littered with places where I changed because I learned something from my experiences. None of those seem as hard as this seems.

    I want to say that I don't trust anymore. That's not accurate. I don't let things wash over me and bounce off me the way I did most of my life. When people did weird things or even hurtful things, I tended to accept those as issues they had and moved on.

    I can still do that and have recent evidence that I do do that, but nowhere near the way I used to. Instead, I scan for deceit and falseness and keep distance in my willingness to just be and participate in what's going on.

    The truth, I'm coming to believe, is that the personality I am was too hurt by too many things too often for too long - oh yes - and I believe that sad fact is the real truth I need to try and come to terms with in some useful way if I want to enjoy life with other people more.

    There is a dogged and somewhat sick determination in my mind that "I'm alright Jack" and that I have absorbed most of what all happened. I believe that part is true, I have come to terms with a lot which evidences that I'm not having doubts or conflicts with how that seems. I believe this entire aspect revolves around how I've changed from those brutal years. This isn't really about what happened to me - it's about how the way I've been 'damaged' is now seriously in the way.

    If I don't analyze myself I'll never learn from my experiences. I do believe what I've just said is the main truth of why I don't actively seek to be around people yet and I believe that being the truth is more recent. My life has altered so fundamentally each year these last four years that it's nearly impossible to assess anything clearly. The saving grace is that I agree whole heartedly that things have been getting better overall and even though I'm full of complaints, I know without a doubt I have nothing serious to complain about.

    In fact, despite everything else, I have a lot to be thankful for. I remember clearly where I was and what that was like. This is miles better. This battered hulk is looking into the future asking questions and wanting answers. Looking into my future is new.

    My widow friend has come around after 4 1/2 years. She's not happy but she talks about getting on with things now - not how everything is an avenue to how horrible it is that her husband died. My x-friend may never get over his trauma that he did something stupid decades ago. I can live with the idea that I need more time 2 1/2 years afterward. My days aren't hard to get through anymore and that is a blessing other's desperately need more of and there I think what Elizabeth says about developing the moment (to paraphrase) is a good route. I'm not complaining. I'm just talking about what this seems to be like as I always have.
    • CommentAuthorcassie*
    • CommentTimeSep 15th 2017
    Wolf, I am still reading all that you post but your anguish silences me sometimes.
    I do understand what you are saying, it actually makes me feel very grateful that I am satisfied with my life.
    I don't wish for anything or anyone but I did once so I can still relate to your words.
    Take care Wolf, you are a good man and I hope that all the joy that is still there for you will find you again soon.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeSep 16th 2017
    I'm afraid that I don't understand what it is you're interpreting.
    • CommentAuthorcassie*
    • CommentTimeSep 16th 2017
    Wolf, I am not trying to "interpret" anything, I just wish you peace and joy.
    Sorry if I annoyed you.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeSep 17th 2017
    Annoying is far too strong a word. There are, however, at least two interpretations. I know what my own anguish felt like and there's nothing like that going on around here anymore which I've said in many posts now.

    These are discussion points around wordsmithing where I am likely as guilty of not being clear enough as anything else.
    • CommentAuthorcassie*
    • CommentTimeSep 17th 2017
    I wasn't trying to imply that you were agonizing over your past.
    I meant that you seem to want your life now to be different/better whereas I don't want that so I am not wishing for anything more.
    And to my mind if you want change then there is anguish.
    Once again, SORRY. I won't comment on your posts any more.
    Wolf and cassie* - take a deep breath, and read this. Language is a very imperfect invention because it is unique for every single person who speaks and/or writes. It is a wonder that we can communicate at all when you consider all of the extraneous experiences that bias and color what we consider the definition of the words we use (to say nothing of syntax).

    I think you are both right but you are both processing your present state in very different ways. Cassie*, you add a deep empathy and understanding to posters that is very unique. You are able to reach across space to comfort and understand because you are not in a needy state. Wolf, you put into words the depth of despair that we experience. Sharing you pain has given us all the freedom to acknowledge our own painful experience and loss.

    You two are sort of the yin and yang of the board. Stay with us because we need you.
    Yes, Wolf and Cassie, I agree with Marche. I've been thinking about your posts since yesterday, wondering if I should chime in or not. We all experience the pain, the recovery, the vicissitudes of Alzheimer's life and post-Alzheimer's different ways. I for one value the differing opinions and insights, the robust discussions, etc. I am trying not to be a wimp or a whiner, and trying to make something of a life that is still pretty scary sometimes. Larry has been gone for three years, and I think I'm re-building a good, wholesome, happy, productive life...but I still feel like I need my friends here at Joan' please, don't stop posting. We don't always agree with each other--perspectives can be different, and why not? But don't disappear off the radar screen.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeSep 18th 2017
    I have no issue whatsoever with Cassie. I was lost. The sentence that if you want change then there is anguish has answered that for me. I don't believe Cassie likes discussion of her, so I'll move on instead.

    I went on a long trip with my next door neighbour yesterday and it was our first chance to talk since his x-girlfriend moved back in "for a few days" about six weeks ago now I think. I had told myself to watch what I say more this time but I did the opposite. Instead, for the first time, I wore my distance glasses and was amazed at how sharp everything is in 20/20. I have a pair of house glasses which work great on the computer and in that three to thirty foot range but then start blurring gradually. They're bifocals with a reading glass area at the bottom. Fabulous for around the house and I get lazy so I just leave them on when I go grocery shopping and am actually reading expiry dates. Looking around yesterday, I couldn't believe the detail I'd been cheating myself out of.

    I went the other way with him too. I told him more personal opinions - not less. I told him that only he can decide and only he lives in those decisions and that nobody ever really knows what they're doing. I pointed out he said twice that Patty and he were laughing at something. I pointed out he never says anything about how he really feels and instead deflects repeatedly to the welfare of the animals (two cats and a dog are involved). I told him he had whales more energy than the last couple of times we talked when she WASN'T there. He was finishing cleaning the car when I came over and when I asked what colour the 67 Mustang was in his garage under all the boxes, he went into a fifteen minute story about the piston displacement and camshaft setup and some of the adventures he'd had with it. It was originally his father's it turned out. I've known this man for 11 years in the same way you might know your checkout clerk.

    We talked about music and instruments and guitarists and concerts we'd been to and all the while he had a CD playing on the stereo fairly loudly of Stevie Ray Vaughn with the sun roof wide open. At one point he apologized for all the dancing around the steak dinner and I mentally moved that long elusive, steak dinner to back on again, for now. The miles passed and not only did our talking never lag again, it's expanding where at one point he mentioned Frank Zappa and his song DIsco Boys (don't ask), and I started singing "you'll never go on duty that's what you think" showing him I knew it well. When I tried to remember the name of one band but had a senior moment, he came up with King Crimson (don't ask) and we went right to that weird part we liked so much where the only instrument playing was a triangle. On the way he mentioned two things he wouldn't mind doing like going to the rib fest together. I think he's asking me out. I said yes. When we got back I told him not to listen to anyone else and instead try to hear himself. I was me - not moderated me.

    Motorcycle man phoned him while we were in the car. Tom put him on the speakers even though he has a headset because I'm inside not outside. Before when he had been telling me the life history of the 67 Mustang, motorcycle man's parrot was talking up a storm. He was outside in his cage across the court. I listened to it all watching Tom finish polishing the interior of the car. I reminded myself that just the summer before I was more wrapped up in being outside with new people as I was wrapped up in the moment that was happening and that before last year I was somewhere else altogether.

    The summer before I would have been pacing because he said at 10:30 am and it was noon but I know how this works and when he phoned at 1 pm to say it would be an hour, I didn't even think about it. It was 3:30 pm when I was sitting in that chair listening to More About Mustangs and the whole time I knew I wanted to go and that it was happening when it was happening and that's how this is. I'm fine with that.

    In some ways, my former life seems more like a dream that actually happened in another lifetime. My three jobs feel like that. My life at home feels like that. My parents who have passed feel like that. I know they're me and it doesn't feel like an issue; but, they're over there then and I'm over here now. I suppose something like that was always in the cards with enough time.

    My thoughts are largely being surprised that I'm thinking about the future these days. I think about tonight and tomorrow and next week and that winter's coming and I'm such a kid in all this that I'm looking around smiling that I'm starting to think like this, a tourist in my own life, not giving those questions the time of day, because I don't know those answers and I'm getting a little more that that's how this is.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeSep 25th 2017
    I woke up this morning thinking about the fact that I don't have to go to work anymore. We're having the first hot, sunny weekend of this year in the fall and it's going to hit 90/30 degrees today and tomorrow again and sunny. The majority of people are getting into their cars and going to work. I'm not expected to show up and labor anywhere.

    One of the crowning achievements of my life is that from the first day on March 25, 1974 when I knew I had to do decades of work in a job to pay my way, I also knew I wanted out as soon as possible. I retired on Feb 14, 2004, twenty nine years later, to the shock of everyone except myself.

    As an example of how life doesn't play out the way we think, it's over 13 years later and I finally had a morning I appreciate I'm not schlepping my butt to the daily grind to pay my way because my way is paid for. I don't regret 'losing' all those years. It was my part of the cost of our partnership and it's the partnership that was real - not the money or the time. That's the toughest part of my story where overall, it's good that I didn't die too which I'm beginning to come around to appreciate finally.

    I don't regret how long it's taken me to get to this point or how long I have to go. These are the truths of the facts and I don't live anywhere else. I get commentary around me about my progress or lack thereof, and I don't even smile. Let them be. Walk in my shoes and we'll see. My money's on me and this is a ruleless game of solitary - not a team sport.

    I've long past the recovery from it, the acceptance of it, the resolution of hundreds of issues within it, and the time required to see that they truly are resolved within. I'm not talking about achieving a Nirvanna state; I'm not troubled by any of it unduly anymore which I've known for many months now. She's at peace from it and so am I.

    I have a rec room downstairs I've done absolutely nothing about. There are cupboards open and things on the floor which Dianne put there many years ago, covered in dust and cobwebs. There are dead plants and dried up leaves and balls of dust. There are boxes piled up and old TV's and the lazy boy chair is matted in cat hair.

    I don't even care enough to worry about it. It's not on my radar. My last house was the same except for the plants and the dust and cat hair. The only reason is that Dianne tended the many plants and we had cleaning ladies that dusted and vacuumed regularly. The boxes were there though and it was an equally neglected room. My rec room is in it's current state because of the way I am - not for any other reason.

    It's balance I seek and when my friend dropped by for coffee on Wednesday, I hardly had to clean up because my upstairs is now finally usually clean because I changed on purpose to take on the responsibility of housework. Fuck housework. That's what the large poster Dianne insisted remain on the fridge said. We were like that all our lives which is why we always made room in the budget for cleaning ladies. Who else was going to do it? Not anymore. My house is nowhere near Dutch clean, but I'm gaining on it.

    The state of my house isn't the issue. Taking myself on is. Just two years ago I would have gone into a state cleaning up because my friend was coming. I wasn't good enough to be me back then. Now they think whatever they like which they do anyway. I don't lose that time fussing anymore. This is me; this is my house; if you have issues get over yourself.

    That isn't the balance I seek. That balance is evidenced by how much I was in the moment talking together, how his idiosyncrasies were easy to let slide again, how yet another conversation was spawning future possibilities (such as coming out for an overnight he suggested), and how I'm hearing possibilities rather than feeling threats or being so detached that everything seems abstract.

    My world feels tangible and current. I'm both a tourist in it and a participant these days. That's way, way up from being weirded out by just the fact of my life. I used to live there and still have the t-shirt. I do still have lots of things to deal with. Everybody does.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeSep 25th 2017

    I used to save more than I live on now. I'm very smart though and so I lost most of our savings. Dianne only cared that I was alright because I felt bad about it. I lost most of our life savings and all she cared about was me. If anyone thinks I have any regrets about only caring about her - they're nuts.

    I'm a better man than I was and I paid a heavy price for that benefit. Just like my tiny income though, I work with what I have or admit I'm stupid and depend on the kindness of strangers. Not happening. I save some of my tiny income because I have yet to experience desire and it's desire that costs money. I don't have money. All I have is the satisfaction of being my own story. I've never done this before and I'm OK with myself in all this. This whole sphere of thinking is new for me. I think I may be starting to like it. I bet I do when I find my feelings.

    There's a serendipity in how things come around sometimes. In my wallet are two pictures of Dianne in black and white of her about five and about seven years old. In the second one her dress is up and you can see her undies. A sign of things to come (hee-hee-hee). Inside that wallet folder is a small and faded bit of paper that says "if you're losing the game change the rules". That was in her wallet when I met her. It's in mine now. I never had an opportunity to change the rules much in my life. Now there's just me and the rules here and the serendipity is that that little scrap of paper says everything.
    • CommentAuthormyrtle*
    • CommentTimeOct 7th 2017
    Well friends, I've been busy. I hired an exterminator who set mouse traps and determined that the rodent access ramp is in the door that leads from the cellar/basement to the hatchway/bulkhead). I'm going to replace that door. In other news, I took my first vacation in 6 years - a 5-day stay on the island of Nantucket. I had an offer (free lodging) I could not refuse. I had planned to go to the Whaling Museum, and other historical museums but I did none of that. I just drove around (I didn't bring a car but my hostess had one) looking at super-cute cottages and perfect hedges and gates and ate a lot of seafood. As soon as I got back, I had eyelid surgery. I was supposed to have it in 2008 but something else (Alz) got in the way. Now that my left eyelid is open, I can see much better and the doctor promises that when the swelling goes down, I'll look better, too. Next on the schedule is a knee replacement, which I'm trying to line up soon.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeOct 10th 2017
    That sounds good Myrtle. I hope the exterminator is right and the door solves that problem. Nantucket is a pretty place. I've never been there but have seen lots of pictures of the area. You didn't happen to have a lobster on a bun did you? I hope to get one of those into my life somewhere. I know I can make them myself but that's not what I want. Seeing better is a good thing too. One step at a time.

    I have a bit of news too. I'm having the woman I've talked about several times come for an overnight visit. She lost her husband to cancer four years ago and before all that, the four of us were close couples friends. She said dreadful things during the AD years but I don't care about that anymore and now that she's finally not fixated on losing her husband anymore, I found myself inviting her to come for a visit.

    Just last week was the annual boy's weekend I'd attended for 40 years without a miss. I didn't go last year or this year and haven't missed it. This woman's husband was part of that boy's weekend. At the very same time I'm pulling away from limited set pieces I'm no longer interested in, I'm re-opening doors to parts I am interested in.

    The difference is the same difference with my neighbours. On my left is the couple where I have tea and talk politely and even talk about real things, but always within the social niceties and it's measured distance. On my right is Tom and tomato lady, so gritty and in your face it turns my neighbours on the left completely off, but there you're inside the real deal and you're one of the characters in the fully displayed right now.

    This woman coming is a bit off the wall but she's also fully in and doesn't hold back a reserve. Ultimately, one of the aspects of this whole experience was being squeezed into such a tiny and single minded state, that almost anything happening was an additional threat. There didn't seem to be any good news that came out of those years.

    As part of that long transformation into a tiny ball of determination to keep going, everything happening became something that affected me. I don't remember much just rolling off my back the way things used to. Back then I didn't worry that much about the weird stuff other people were saying and doing. It was them - not me. I lost that so completely I had no awareness such a state of mind existed.

    Another step for me in almost watching my own story unravel. If you had told me two years ago I would be doing this, I would have laughed in your face. Some part of me was just smart enough not to throw everyone away knowing I would keep feeling differently down the road. That was a lucky guess because it was the opposite of what I felt inside.

    With a bit of luck, I'll re-learn how to do this quickly and will then be able to let my guard down fully too and be all in. If we can both do that, we'll both be richer because we'll both in essence have a new friend - kind of like the old friends but with two of us.

    Whatever else, it's me that's reaching out to establish a new relationship with someone I've known a very long time. I didn't know it wasn't possible when I harbored resentment about things said. I didn't know it wasn't possible when all the things people said affected me. I only understood just before I sent the email, when I asked myself if I was doing this, that she could be herself because I can let things slide better again. I mean to make this work and then I mean to let go of the wheel and just be friends. Whatever comes of it, I'm actively building up my life.

    On the soup front, my last and fifth soup was perfect. I'm passing the soup phase and am arriving at the roast chicken phase. I'm targeting November for no reason other than it will likely be chilly out there and I'll be in my snug abode conducting fowl experiments.

    It won't end there. I'm going to learn how to make bread. I want to destroy my enjoyment of store bought bread the same way I destroyed my enjoyment of canned soup. I have no fear of my feminine side, if you will, just as women shouldn't fear their masculine side, if you will. More range is better - especially when you feel like you're expanding after being squeezed out of a little tube like tooth paste - or caregiving dementia - there isn't much difference that I can see.
    Wow, Wolf--you rock!
    You will never regret learning to make bread. It is almost zen. There is a new way out there called no-knead bread and you can look it up on youtube. It is a two day commitment and requires an enameled dutch oven, but quite worth the effort. King Arthur flour has a harvest recipe that I have tweeked that is quite good.

    And sourdough. If you can remember to feed the cat, you can remember to feed the sourdough and your bread life will never be the same.

    Go for it, Wolf.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeOct 11th 2017
    I don't know which part rocks and there's no need to clarify. As we may know the difference between how we see what we are doing and how we see what someone else is doing is often different.

    Mary, I hope that your issues will be fixed soon and I'll be thinking about you waiting to hear when that comes about. Break a leg. I'm not hearing that the suture thing you talked about is getting better. A different procedure is likely to have a better outcome.

    I can easily believe that making my own bread will be like zen. I've never tried to define zen before but first shot would be a perceived harmony between yourself and the thing you are doing. I think many gardeners understand zen without calling what they experience that word. I think joggers, along with liking the endorphins that kick in, also experience that harmony in the joy of running. There are a lot of examples, soup being one of them.

    I did say a couple of times it wasn't about the soup. The reason it was soup was because that made the grade of being interesting enough and it was something I've meant to do for some time. I know exactly when it became real. Things were drifting around in my mind when it occurred to me that I owned a chicken carcass.

    The only reason I owned one is because I had recently wanted to find something new that could be delivered to my door. I came up with rotisserie chicken and ordered the whole chicken with sides knowing I can't eat a whole chicken in one go and that I would like cold chicken sandwiches.

    I was already feeling the reward of expanding my options on days I didn't feel like doing anything and could now just answer the door and eat more than just pizza. I had thrown the previous carcasses out in the compost. I happened to have celery along with the carrots and onions. "I could do this" I realized, and was suddenly on my feet and in the kitchen looking at my big pots and made my first soup. I generally have a can of chicken consomme around and I did.

    I'm not sure that's much different from suddenly looking at the person I'd been avoiding and inviting them over. There were precursors there too. I don't care about what people did and said in Alzheimer's anymore. I'd come to understand that people I've known a long time are irreplaceable. That doesn't make them valuable - just irreplaceable. I want more real human contact and I need it, I had come to realize. And most importantly, that I understood I had to be ready to let others be who they are and I think I may be.

    I could well be tired of it before she goes the next day. In fact, I expect that because I'm quite out of practice and have knowingly coddled myself for going on to three years. Even though I'm a bit surprised, it feels right to try and build this relationship up now and join in whatever that brings. Occasional visits and outings I presume. She lives in the downstairs apartment in her daughter's house and I'm Uncle Wolf to them. I've been helping the daughter financially to get her book published, I knew her in diapers, she now has a bun in the oven.

    Just as delivery chickenman is becoming a series of events, I wonder what chain of events this will lead to. That's an inside joke because I know the answer. I know the answer because I'm not just a participant; I'm the writer. I used to belong. Then I went away. Now I wouldn't mind belonging more again and I'm even welcome. Not a hard story to finish yourself.

    In this comedy, the first time I go over there for a big family dinner again (her son Dan will be there with his partner Dan), I should go fully dressed as a hockey goalie - the mask, the glove, the skates, the pads, everything. Then while they're asking me what I'm doing while I take all that stuff off - I point to the pile of stuff and say "that's what it was like".

    When I tell my sister this, she will bring in some relationship angle. She will be doing comedy without knowing it and there's no point telling her. I'm already in a deep relationship with someone I not only love, but actually like (I know!). I look into myself enough to understand that there is a need inside to be protective of someone I know well and like. This woman fits that need but I can do that with the relationship being what it actually is.

    Just like opening to some neighbours, and the chicken soup, this is one more aspect of gradually building up my life. At least that's how I see it.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2017
    This has been a stunning week.

    It began on monday night taking out the garbage and noticing I had a flat tire. I just bought those tires and doing that was a major moment for me where I didn't just try to keep going by pumping up the leak I knew I had, but actually solving the problem by buying new tires. I had pumped that tire for a long time without, apparently, the ability to think otherwise than just to shrink further and keep going.

    I don't know which events will try to tip my boat and which ones don't. I needed to get supplies where I was out of cat food and cat litter and milk and had to pay a bill. Now I would have to have the car towed to a garage or have them come and take the tire and order a match for the set. Underneath was that familiar victim feeling. I just solved that problem and now I had to do it again.

    In the morning I opened the garage door and looked at it in the light. The tire wasn't flat, although it wasn't that far away from flat. I realized the car had been sitting there for eleven days and I must have driven over something back then that caused a slow leak. It was undrivable though. Then I noticed my neighbour Tom was outside. I walked over and asked if he had a pump and about ten minutes later he had sprayed to find a leak, injected a compound into the tire, reinflated all the tires with his compressor, and I was off to do my chores and could drive the car to the garage once I arranged it.

    A boring story that for me wasn't, because some things get to me and my new tire putting me right back where I was made me feel that creepy reality I had spent so much time in. Not like it was, but the echoes of something that has ripped you up have their own power for some time. It wasn't the same as before though, because I'd established a relationship with my neighbour which made it much easier to think in terms of asking for help.

    That was on Tuesday. On Wednesday motorcycle man knocked on my door and asked if I wanted to come bear hunting way up north. I declined. He's legally blind which is evident when he walks down my steps yet he rides a motor scooter, plans to start up a snow removal business, and now hunts bears. No thanks. Well, did I want to invest in the snow removal business? No thanks. I've never seen such an intensity of nature in such a huge body create more contradictions in my entire life. I'm sure this won't end and whatever wall he hits it will be at a hundred miles an hour.

    On Thursday morning I opened my email to read the announcement by my friend who has phoned me regularly throughout these 12 years, that his wife has inoperable lung cancer and they are starting chemo and extensive tests to see if it has spread. I must have stared at that email for an hour. It made my tire creepiness seem ridiculous. It meant the person who stood by me, now needs me to come into the kind of nightmare I just left. I have precisely two people that matter in my life - my sister, and him.

    This is helping me understand that I really have become quite different. I'm a veteran of living through serious tragedy and I can get that this isn't happening to me. It's a calling to stand by my friend who stood by me and demonstrate what kind of friend I am. I left a message on his machine that if either of them wanted to talk, I was here.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2017

    Thursday afternoon I had a package in my mail. It was a copy of the book I was helping my niece get published. She's the daughter of the friend who is coming over sometime. She wrote in it that here was the signed copy as promised, and when I started reading it, I saw my own name in the acknowledgements thanking me for my support. I've never seen myself mentioned in a book before. Nice feeling.

    On Friday I got another package delivered. This was the USA Lighthouse hingeless album I bid on in an auction. I have a massive stamp collection although I'm not a stamp collector. I've bought numerous other people's collections to see what I got. For a few years now I've started bidding on good, used albums and am making fits and starts in organizing some of this into something I can give my sister's grandchildren. That's the plan.

    In this week I also found a picture I think I'm going to paint. This one is accessible on the internet and is the picture of Jackie Chan in the woods in a still from his new movie The Foreigner. He's behind some tree limbs looking off camera. I can see a bit of myself in that face and I hope to blend a little autobiography into his face. My sister asked me a while ago what is to become of my paintings. "I won't care." I answered, "I'll be dead."

    I've studied this. If you live a long life, your friends and relations all died years ago, and you're likely to spend years among people that are nice, but where everyone who held real meaning for you is gone. If you die early, you don't get the time and you don't get to know what Trump is doing now or taste this food or feel the sun or even have some fun despite yourself.

    On the other hand, if you go early, you go supported by your partner. I realize writing this that I have no children. It's different when we have adult children but I don't know how to speak to that. What I do know is that I don't have to grow old to experience facing my own crises alone. I'm already here. Along with most single people who live on their own.

    On Friday night my friend called and after talking about it briefly, he made it clear to me that he wanted to have an ordinary conversation - so we talked about basketball for an hour as we often do. My friend is likely long lived. He's taking care of both his parents both in their nineties, both demanding in their own way, and both in separate nursing homes. The father is easily confused and his mother has developed Alzheimer's and doesn't know him. Now with his wife, he really has his hands full.

    I thought about how this would have affected Dianne, that yet another friend she did things with was now fighting for her life. I wonder why it's so easy to feel sympathy with someone else in exactly the same situation, but not ourselves in that fully emotive and supportive way.

    Yesterday morning I went out to get my paper and looked at my tire. It hasn't lost a single psi in four days and that can only mean I never paid attention to my tires where this looks to be a very slow leak. It turns out to be one of many examples of how survival of all this has meant ignoring many other things to focus on survival. Unravelling that has to mean more involvement with more aspects of life over time.

    This morning I came into my 'studio' to see a life sized head of Jackie Chan floating on an otherwise white canvas. I think if my sister saw that she would think it was a drawing of me. I don't think this is going to work because it won't be me and it won't be Jackie, but that floating head over there on the canvas with the slightly tortured look couldn't be more revealing if it tried. It looks more like me than him.

    I'm disembodied, unsure, and looking for myself. Wow, is that true. I'm only partially sketched out going on three years later. True again. Looking at my own life sized head there I can that face is unsettled. That's the tone set on Jackie Chan's face in the picture but this doesn't seem to be about Jackie Chan at all anymore. That unsettled, disembodied face over there is the perfect icon of my truth.

    I'm trying to find ways to fill my need to belong, including trying to appear in my own painting. That floating face is as unsettling to look at as the state of my life is. True again. Way up from curled up in a tight little ball inside the tiny place I was reduced to, I remind myself. Yup, no question about it.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2017

    There's a line in The Lord Of The Rings where Bilbo Baggins explains to Gandalf the Wizard that he feels like he's been scraped thin "like butter scraped over too much toast". I know that feeling well. What I don't know is by what thin strands I held on when absolutely everything came apart and piled on for so long. I have no idea how we overcome all the crises and horrors so we can keep coming back for more. What I know for sure is that it did things to me where anxiety attacks, family abandonment, and pleading for suicide were just a few of the finer moments.

    It's late now in the evening at the end of this stunning week. I called my friend again today and we talked about basketball as usual. They start tests tomorrow to start seeing whether it has spread. At the very same time my poor friends are entering that hellish guantlet, I am realizing that in all of my life, I've never really thought in terms of succeeding at my own personal goals because, except for retiring at the first available moment, I've never had any personal goals except to live life with Dianne. I essentially married right out of high school and life has always had the next step waiting in the wings. Even retiring meant learning how to cook while waiting for Dianne to retire. The next thing has always been known and just off stage until now.

    This has been a long post talking about this week but I want to leave it with one last story. My friend who lost his wife years ago to cancer remarried last month. He's done very well in life, is clearly worth millions, and his new wife seems like a great catch. Last month he sent around an email that went on and on about how unfair our tax system is and yesterday I got one about how senior citizens should rise up and demand to know why aboriginals get free everything and pay no taxes.

    It's never about what you have. It's always about what you see. Numbers don't enter into that and subject matter is irrelevant. The grateful beggar is rich while the complaining rich are poor. That depends of course on how we value what the soul feels.

    Finally a word about Khufu. He had the great pyramid built so that he wouldn't really die. He died though. Then grave robbers broke in and took the stuff he needed to be able to live in the afterlife. Now his pile of stones means some of the descendents of the slaves who built the thing are making a nice living carting tourists around it. Life is like that. Completely nuts, utterly fabulous, and almost never follows a structured story line - much like my week really.
    • CommentAuthorbhv*
    • CommentTimeOct 23rd 2017
    Wolf. This is a stunning story about a stunning week. Thank you for sharing it. I've missed you this week, but enjoyed your post about computer instructions so I knew you were here. I used to write user guides like that at work, but I didn't think to put in the suggestions for practice. That is really good stuff.
    I'd like to see your painting when you finish it. I have a picture of you looking at it in your studio and it makes me smile.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeOct 23rd 2017
    I'm not sure what I'm going to do with that drawing. I've left it the way it is for a while.

    I did write you a reply on the lake thread about pulling it to you instead of seeking it but it got into a story of a thin, little waif opening to her power and how all of reality is in the past because it has to have happened to be real and then people were stuck to the window of a 57 Chevy and it all went tumbling out of control into the cockpit of a fighter plane and on a train in Austria and waiting for service at some outdoor cafe in Rome or something and then Obi Wan was saying "these aren't the droids you're looking for" and somehow I ended up at the hammock with no coffee ice cream to be seen. I didn't put that one up.

    The truth is this is a struggle during and it's a struggle afterwards and those two struggles could hardly be more different. It's not easy getting through it and it's not easy coming away from it and it's not easy inventing a new you in a new life (wait for it) that feels normal again.
    • CommentAuthorbhv*
    • CommentTimeOct 24th 2017
    I think I like that drawing the way it is with the blank canvas waiting for what is to come. It is a beautiful picture.

    That story sound remarkably like the dreams I have been having lately.

    Sorry to horn in on this thread. But I am glad I read the chicken soup stuff and this stuff about your painting and opening up to people.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeOct 24th 2017
    You're not horning in. This part affects everybody.
    I was just sitting here finishing my oatmeal and playing with the dog, and realized that it has just been recently that I'm not defined by being an Alzheimer spouse. I just honestly feel that at three years and two months past his death, I'm getting my mojo back and not just coping with recovery. I feel like "me", the real "me"--not the "me" that is struggling with the Alzheimers caregiving and some of the crushing issues of the aftermath. Some things that have helped a lot have been 1) Getting away from my family to a place I really love and belong; 2) Being outside in nature a lot--lots of exercise and fresh air, thanks to my dog. 3) Figuring out how to get a good night's sleep, and sleeping better than I have for years. 4) Journalling three pages longhand every morning when I first wake up--catching my true concerns and feelings, getting all the racing thoughts and stupid self-talk out. Clearing the decks for the day. It sounds trite--such a typical, common woman's issue--and caregiver issue--but I was totally lost in providing for the needs of others--didn't really have a clue who I was or what I myself needed. Didn't even really know what I like to eat for meals--because it was always about what other people liked to eat. It's not a perfect world and it's never going to be--real life issues are always with us--but I've found such happiness and peace, just inside my own head. (And my religion, of course, but that has always been there for me, no matter what.)

    If I could only say one thing to those still in the trenches, it would be: Hang on, hold on. As terrible as it is, it does not last forever.
    • CommentAuthorNicky
    • CommentTimeNov 1st 2017
    Well said Elizabeth. I'm not a "true" widow, but I guess you could say I'm an Alzheimer widow. Now that my husband has been in residence for 5 months & physically not in the house anymore, I've had to redefine myself. Feeling his physical absence made me realize I must & will have a life without him. I visit him daily, but I now have to accept I have a separate life - one he'll never share..... It's not easy.... I've started coming to terms with that sometime in September & it seems to be a bit easier. We had a very rough summer with him in residence - so many altercations... but now he's seems better, so now that my stress level has gone down, I seem to be more at peace & more able to accept my new life (still don't like it....).
    • CommentAuthorbhv*
    • CommentTimeNov 1st 2017
    Elizabeth, this is soooo good. I am happy to hear it.
    • CommentAuthorCO2*
    • CommentTimeNov 3rd 2017
    Elizabeth, I just want to sincerely thank you for all your online wisdom and support. I am 2 years 6 months out (not quite as far as you) but I have been doing almost the same things as you minus the doggie and I look back and see how far I have come. I am not spending as much time with my family and for me that is a good thing. They have their lives to live and I have mine. I find writing and praying in the mornings before I even get out of bed have been the most helpful. I still struggle with the "shoulds" when it comes to the family but I am aware of it and now ask myself what is it that I want to do and not what should I do. I realize how incredibly blessed I am not only for having survived it but now for what I have and that I am truly finding and creating a new life for myself. For all u out there, just keep the faith and you too will soon be walking the after Alz walk and discover your new life.
    Oh, thank you CO2, what a nice post. It sounds like you and I think along the same lines. : D

    And thanks to Nicky and bhv, too. I would just love to be sitting in the diner this morning, having coffee with all of you.