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    • 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.