Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Chats on a Farmhouse Porch # 3

1.  What kinds of seafood have you tried and liked?  What is the most unique seafood you've ever eaten?

Kari:  Wow, I've always liked seafood.  When I was three, I ate steamed crabs as fast as my parents would dip them in vinegar and melted butter.  For years scallops and shrimp were probably my favorites,  Now, I don't touch shellfish at all.  When I was pregnant with my daughter, I ate shrimp at a very nice restaurant and woke up in the emergency room.   I'm not interested in trying shellfish again after that experience!  The most unique seafood I've ever eaten?  Probably gefilte fish...and I loved it.

Boo:  What's not to like about fish?  Of course, growing up in Louisiana I ate lots of fish.  Crawdads are my favorite and I love a good craw fish boil.  Octopus was the most unique seafood I've ever tried.  It was too chewy for me.  We caught it on an oil rig.  Cajuns will try anything though.  Alligator's not so bad.  I realize alligator isn't a seafood, but Boo thought it was close enough.

2.  An unforgettable holiday/vacation moment is...

Kari:  I remember going to Stowe, Vermont as a child and seeing the Trapp Family Lodge.  I was enthralled.  We bought The Trapp Family Singers by Maria von Trapp in the gift shop and I read it on the long definitely unair conditioned car trip back to North Carolina. 

Boo:  Going to Rome is my most unforgettable vacation memory.

3.  When was the last time you tried something new?

Kari:  Trying new things keeps my brain working.  OK, sort of working...working as well as it's going to work anyway.  My goal is to try at least two new things each week.  This week I tried a new bread recipe.  That's all so far.  I'm busy packing like a maniac so that'll likely be all this week.

Boo:  Just about ten minutes ago.  I had strange holey biscuits that Kari made.  He had toasted English muffins...which he's had fairly often and likes.  One of the joys (and sorrows) of dementia is that each day is new and full of untried things.  Yesterday, his favorite red jacket was new to him. 

4.  Who or what inspires you?

Kari:  Boo's courage in facing the unknown daily is truly an inspiration.  Early this morning, he called to me from the bathroom.  He couldn't remember where the bedroom was.  It's about six to eight feet from the bathroom.  He followed my directions to the bedroom pleased that he'd done it by himself. 

Boo:  Mary...She's always looking after me.

5.  How did you choose the names of your children?

Kari:  We chose a combination of family names and saint names.  My daughter is Mary for one of my grandmothers and, of course, the Virgin Mary and Teresa for St. Teresa and just because we liked it.  My son is Joseph for St. Joseph and Lee because it was a family name of both sides of the family.

Boo:  My son was named for me and for Michael the Archangel.  I can't remember how we decided on the girls' names. 

How do you name your pets?

Kari:  For some reason, I always wanted to name my pets for other pets (or people) that I loved.  When Mr. Sandy, our first Siamese cat died, I was a very heartbroken first grader.  This was the big tom cat that I'd dressed in doll clothes and pushed in a doll carriage.  My father bought a sweet little female Siamese whom I promptly named Miss Sandy.  Missy lived for sixteen years.  Years later I adopted a beautiful white kitten that I named after one of my Grandmother's cats, Buffy.  Shortly after that, a abandoned male kitten came to live with us.  I named him Leo (after a grandfather) Ebenizer Shoebutton. 

Boo:  When I saw Boudreaux as a tiny kitten with unopened eyes, I knew he was a Boudreaux and that he was mine.  He's Cajun so he had to have four names:  Francis (because you need a Saint's name) Clawed (because he clawed Kari when he played with her) Boudreaux (because that's just who he is) Guidry (because he's part of the family.)

Go to Everyday Ruralty for more Chats on the Farmhouse Porch.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunday Snippets # 5

This week Chats on a Farmhouse Porch #2 and Quick Takes # 18 deal with bits and pieces of our everyday lives. 

Happy Birthday to a Duck Loving Granddaughter is a short commentary on one of Boo's difficult days this week.

Finally, Where Has Lent Gone? is my reflection on Lent this year.

Join RAnn at This, That and the Other Thing for more Sunday Snippets.

Where Has Lent Gone?

The beginning of Holy Week...it just doesn't seem possible. Where has Lent gone?

I had plans for Boo and I to observe a holy Lent, to fast, to gain great spiritual insights, to renew our lives. Those were the plans. Life intervened. We have fasted from meat on Fridays. Because of Boo's health and age, he's not required to fast. He wanted to do so. We've prayed the Rosary almost daily. Boo has been determined to pray the “whole prayer” not just a decade or two. More often than not, he's succeeded. We've prayed the Divine Mercy chaplet several times weekly. I'd intended to read one or two books and participate in an online retreat.
That got pushed to the side. Instead, Boo and I are hastily preparing to move closer to my Mother.  We're pulling up stakes here and planting them in a small town.  We're (read I'm) throwing away, donating, packing and cleaning.  Well, not as much cleaning as I should, but I'm working on that.   

This wasn't the Lent I planned. At this point in the season, I planned to be refreshed, ready for the observance of the final week of Jesus' life, ready for renewal and joy. Instead, I'm rushing through decluttering and packing. I'm frustrated by the number of things I've yet to complete, plans that still aren't finalized. So much yet undone.

Admittedly, with all my frantic decluttering, I do feel less encumbered by things. I have repeatedly found myself praying as I worked. Still, this wasn't the way I planned for things to be. I don't have time to sit and reflect. I haven't made great strides spiritually. This isn't where I planned to be.

And yet...when Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey, did He feel ready? He'd loved, taught, worked and lived with his apostles. Did He experience any of the frustration, any of the sense of incompleteness that I'm feeling?

Maybe this isn't such a bad place to be spiritually. I've made small, very small strides. Sometimes I pray without thinking as I work. Sometimes I set realistic goals for part of the day. Not completely new achievements. Not perfect achievements. Progress nonetheless.

I think I've considered Lent as a journey to the final destination of Easter. And it is. It's just that Easter isn't the end for us. I still have to live out my faith. I still have to work towards being the person God is calling me to be. I'm not finished. I think I really envisioned myself taking a well deserved spiritual break after Easter. You know, kind of rest on my heels and admire the awesome spiritual advancements I'd made while my life resumed it normal course.

Instead, I find myself wanting to press on, to continue my small strides. At least, that's my take on it this morning.

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Quick Takes #18

North Carolina barbecue...Is there anything any better? 
OK, so there probably is.  I'm just in the mood for barbecue and at times like that, there is absolutely nothing better! 
Boo is under the mistaken belief that barbecue should have a sweet, very tomato-y base.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  North Carolina barbecue, at least in the Piedmont and southwestern parts of the state, have a tangy, vinegar-y base.  That's what I like. 
This Saturday the fire department in the little town where Mom lives is having a barbecue fundraiser.  Wouldn't you know it?  Just before we move there!  That barbecue is the very best I've ever tasted.  I mentioned that to Mother hoping she'd buy a pound or two to freeze until we arrive.  It seems that we're related to the wonderful people who make this delicious barbecue.  Wonder if we're the recipe sharing kind of relatives?
Boo has been quieter today than he was yesterday.  No singing or quacking.   He's been listening to an audio book, An Irish Courtship written by Patrick Taylor.  It's part of the Irish Country series about two Irish country doctors set in Ulster in the 1960's.  We've both thoroughly enjoyed this series.  The Audible version of it is read by John Keating whose wonderful accent just adds to our enjoyment. 
You know, one of the benefits of audio books is the narrators.  They can breathe life into the story.  I remember taking a story telling workshop and listening to three different storytellers tell the same story.  All three versions used the same words verbatim.  The delivery...ah, that was the difference.  All three evoked different emotions.  Book narrators can do the same.  (Narrators can also turn an interesting storyline into a deadly dull one too.  Just depends.  Audible lets you listen to a sample before you purchase which is helpful.)
Boudreaux, the fearless wonder cat, loves to guard Boo at all times.  Generally, this is a good thing and keeps both Boo and Boudreaux occupied.  Since he was a kitten, Boudreaux has enjoyed sitting on the edge of the bathtub "snoop-ervising" while Boo bathes.  This morning, Boo was out of the tub and dressing himself when we heard a splash.  Boudreaux had managed to fall in the tub and was busily splashing around in three or four inches of water looking wild eyed and terrified. 
I fished him out and wrapped him in a towel while laughing.  I suppose I shouldn't have laughed.  I lost my balance and fell backward in the tub.  (Aren't I the graceful one?)  Boudreaux jumped in Boo's lap and both of them stared at me.  Boo asked, looking very serious, "Couldn't you just have looked to see if all the water was out?" 
We've been praying the Divine Mercy chaplet at three in the afternoon almost daily this Lent.  For some reason this has been something Boo anticipates.  Originally we planned to pray the Stations of the Cross on Fridays.  Both times we tried, Boo got extremely upset.  So I tried the Divine Mercy chaplet in song because Boo remembers things that are put to music better.  It's worked.  This morning I awoke to Boo singing the chaplet.  He said he dreamed about singing it and just woke up singing it.  I wish I was actually the musical type.  So many things are easier for Boo to remember when he sings them.  (Is this something that's typical of others who've had strokes, I wonder?)
Fridays during Lent are meatless.   Actually, we follow that year round, not just during Lent.  Today Boo specifically asked for bean burgers.  Years ago, I used to make bean burgers.  Did he like them then?  Somehow, I thought he didn't.  I can't remember just what I did or which recipe I used.  We'll see how this turns out.  I've got beans soaking now, but no clear idea about the next step.  I do know we're having a fresh spinach salad and for dessert, peach yogurt.
I have a routine doctor's appointment later this morning.  A wonderful friend will come to sit with Boo while I'm away.  Given his confusion Wednesday, I'm wary of trying to take him all around a large teaching hospital.  I have a sneaking suspicion that he'd lose it somewhere and have a melt down.  It's bright, crowded, loud and well, just not Boo's kind of place.  Hopefully, this will be a quick in and out visit. 
Do you know that it's almost two am here? 
I thought it was much later.  Boo's had his morning oatmeal and is dressed for the day.  I'm dressed and have beans soaking.  Maybe, just maybe, we went to bed too early last night and woke too early this morning.  I'm so glad I checked the time before I gave Boo his morning medicines. 
Oh brother, I guess it's time for a little more sleep.  And time to reset the alarm...for the correct time this time.
Join Jenn at Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Happy Birthday to a Duck Loving Granddaughter

This has been one of Boo's difficult days.  He's been easily upset and confused.  I've kept a close check on his blood pressure and blood sugar levels...which are within normal limits by the way.  In an effort to calm him, we looked at photos on Facebook of grandchildren, listened to familiar music and audio books.  Usually those are comforting activities for his confused days...not today.

The only thing that seems to have "stuck" with him is that today is one beautiful granddaughter's ninth birthday.  When she was a tiny, little one, she enjoyed going to the park to see the ducks.  On the phone, Boo would quack at her.  Today when we talked about her birthday, Boo remembered quacking at her.  For the last ten hours, Boo has burst into loud renditions of Happy Birthday and quacking at random moments.  Boudreaux has been wary of this new practice and has given Boo lots of sidelong glances. 

Happy, happy birthday, Duckling!  Papa Boo loves you!

In the midst of caring for Boo today, I've accomplished very little packing.  To work, to work!

Word Art Wednesday, Share the Joy Thursday

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Chats on a Farmhouse Porch #2

It's Tuesday.  Time for drinking iced tea, sitting on the porch and talking with some friends!

1.  Did you grow up in a small town or a big town?  Did you enjoy it?

Kari:  I grew up in a  lot of small towns.  We moved frequently when I was young for my father's job.  I am definitely a small town kind of girl.  Actually, I'm more like a village kind of girl.  Small is best for me.

Every summer we spent several weeks in my great-grandparents' home in a very small town in the Southern United States.  (No, they weren't alive.  My parents bought the home as a kind of "home base," I guess.)  That, more than any other place, was home.  In the summers, my sister and I would wake up, dress, run out the back door to my Aunt Tina and Uncle Leach's house next door where we'd eat breakfast.  Then, we'd spend the day playing outside, digging in the dirt, playing with our dolls and, in my sister's case, climbing trees or, in my case, reading books.  My parents eventually remodeled that house and retired there. 

Until a year and a half ago, when progress finally came to that little town in the form of a Dollar General Store, there was a three aisle grocery store on Main Street.  Years ago, there was also a drug store, a bank and a hardware.  It's just a quiet, sleepy rural town where the most excitement is the monthly town meeting.  That's where Boo and I are moving...in less than two weeks. 

Boo:  I grew up in a small town in Louisiana and I did like it.  In first grade I attended a small country school...a four room school house.  The principal lived in the house behind the school and taught the third grade, I think.  We grew our own food in a truck patch garden and had bourchiries in the fall.  Our extended family and close neighbors gathered to butcher the fat stock (hogs) and preserve the meat for winter.

2.  If you could pick one song to hear for the rest of your life to hear, what would it be?

Kari:  Just one?  That's not easy.  I like music and vary what I listen to depending on my mood.  Usually a country music song or a ballad that speaks to me would be my choice.  But just one???  I really can't do that.  You know, for someone who couldn't carry a tune if it had handles (Thank you, Papa Hall for those genes!), I do like music.  The two songs I just can't get out of my mind today are:  Louisiana Saturday Night, by Alabama and Going Bananas, by Captain and Tennille.  I need high energy music to work today. 

The one song that I think I'd want to hear the rest of my life is The Divine Mercy Prayer in Song.   It's such a powerful prayer and one that calms Boo in the middle of the night.

Boo:  You Are My Sunshine, by Jimmie Davis, one of Louisiana's governors.

3.  What are your pet peeves?

Kari:  People who loudly, insistently talk over those with whom they disagree, refusing to listen or to try to see another point of view.  I don't expect anyone to completely agree with me.  One of us would be unnecessary, right?  I enjoy discussions, learning what others think and why.  I have little tolerance for those who must be right at all costs and who won't allow dissenting opinion.

Boo:  Mice, howling dogs and loud noises.  (Since Boo's strokes, he's been very sensitive to loud noises.  He becomes confused and disoriented far more easily when there's a lot of noise.)

4.  Do you remember your dreams?  Are they in black and white or color?  What is the craziest dream you've ever had?

Kari:  Sometimes I remember dreams, but not too often.  I only dream in color.  Not sure why.  I'm not sure what the craziest dream I've ever had was.  Last night I dreamed a friend of mine was traveling with her child.  The child decided to get married to a camel with three humps.  See, my dreams are weird.  I don't spend much time thinking about them and I never try to figure out any hidden meanings. 

Boo:  I remember some of my dreams.  I think they're in color.  I can't remember any specific crazy dream.  None really make sense.  I remember dreaming about going duck hunting and eating roasted duck.  That was delicious!  Then the ducks started talking to me.

5.  What is the perfect pair of shoes for you?

Kari:  That's easy!  Clogs!  They're comfortable and I can wear them with or without socks or tights.  I like boots in the winter and flat Mary Jane type shoes in the summer when I have to wear shoes.  Clogs are my favorite though.  Mother used to despair of keeping shoes on me.  I remember kicking my shoes off at the drop of a hat when I was little and running around barefoot.

Boo:  Winged shoes.  I want shoes with wings to make me lighter and faster...when I want to go somewhere.  Today I just want to stay home.

Come sit on the front porch and chat with us at Everyday Ruralty.

Ten Quick Decluttering Tips

I am completely amazed at how quickly Boo, Boudreaux and I have accumulated an inordinate amount of stuff. Stuff that we don't use frequently. Stuff that we don't use at all. Stuff that “I think I'm going to use one day.” Stuff that “someone will want one day.” And far too much stuff that I no longer know why I bought or saved.

Even with my half-hearted attempts at decluttering several times in the past year, we still have quite a lot of stuff to toss or donate. According to two different articles I read recently, we could easily rid ourselves of thirty percent of our belongings and never miss them. Somehow, I think Boo and I could do without more than that. We'll see.

I've settled on separating our things into three piles: things to keep, things to donate and things to toss. That seems self explanatory. If I had more time, a yard sale or an online sale might be a good idea for some of the items that we'll be donating. That isn't something I've time to do right now. Another time, I would like to revisit the idea...especially the online sale.

Things to Keep

  1. Is this something that we've used frequently in the last year?
    Yes, then it's probably a keeper.
  2. If we haven't used it often, is it difficult or expensive to replace?
    Even if we haven't used this item often, keeping it may yet be a reasonable decision.
  3. Is the item in good repair?
    If the item needs repair, I have to make a quick decision about whether it would be worthwhile to keep and repair once we move or whether it would be better to donate or toss the item.
  4. Does this item have sentimental value?
    OK, I admit it. We likely have more sentimental things than we should and some aren't in good shape either. Still, they're important to us...emotionally at least.

Things to Donate

      1. Is this item in reasonably good shape?
        It doesn't have to be in perfect shape, but useable.
      2. Is this something that would be useful to someone at a different stage of life?
        When we moved once before, I donated over four hundred books. Many were children's books that we no longer needed. (The children already have the books they want and we saved quite a few for grandchildren.) I donated children's clothing, unused and duplicate kitchen items and DVDs. This time, I'll have many clothing items that we just don't wear anymore, audio books that Boo and I won't listen to anymore and other things that we just don't need.
      3. If the item is no longer useful for it's intended use, can it be easily repurposed?
        Felted wool or stretched cashmere sweaters can be reused by crafty people. Bits and pieces left from completed craft projects and broken jewelry are hot items in thrift stores around here.

Things to Toss

      1. Is this item damaged beyond repair?
        Don't think, just toss.
      2. Is this something unlikely to be used or appreciated by anyone else?
        My old lecture noted from school aren't likely to be appreciated by anyone and need to go. (Can you believe I've kept some of them over thirty years?) Macaroni necklaces and toilet paper roll crafts from my children need to go too...after they're photographed, of course.
      3. Is this something that I can store in another way?
        Like my father, I've accumulated some magazine and newspapers articles that I want to save. It's easy to scan or photograph them and toss the originals. I can save them on a flash drive and be on my way. Besides, I threw away most of the articles without saving them. I realized I just wouldn't reread them and they needed to go.

This time, I've set some rules for myself.

I set a timer and take breaks when the timer rings.

I put all trash in black bags. I can't see it. That helps. At meal times, I take all my trash bags outside.

All donated items go in white trash bags. I label each bag...large men's clothing, for crafts, etc. Not necessary, but it makes me feel better.

Sweep, dust and mop as I go. Sure I'll have to do it again, but it won't be as intense.

One of the reasons I hate to declutter...besides the fact that I'm a pack rat...is that I find it deadly dull work. Originally I planned to listen to an audio book while I worked. That didn't work too well. Instead, I've found myself praying.

Praying for those might need those things that we no longer need...as I pack things to be donated.

Thanking God for all the many things with which we've been blessed...when I feel overwhelmed by all we have.

Asking for discernment about what we really need...as I quickly sort all our stuff.

Thanking God for the blessing of my husband...as I sort and pack his things.

Asking for energy, strength and serenity for myself...as I sort and pack my things.

Isn't that just like God? Taking the deadly dull job that I dread, forcing me to work quickly and turning it into a blessing.

Yep, all those prayers I was begging for earlier are really working. Thank you...all of you...so much. Please keep them coming. I'm no where near finished and I'm still trying to arrange everything for the day we move.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday Snippets

I'm linking with RAnn at This, That and the Other Thing.

March 2013 Daybook, Chats on the Farmhouse Porch #1 and Quick Takes # 17 are all glimpses into our daily life.

Questions to Trigger Memories are a list of questions that I've found helpful to encourage conversation on days when Boo is less interested in talking.

Boo and Pope Francis is about Boo's response to our Holy Father's name choice.

New Lenten Discipline and a Video of Boudreaux is about the discipline of adapting to and learning from the changes in our life.  Oh, and a video of the cat.

New Lenten Discipline and a Video of Boudreaux

Lent is a time to rid yourself of unnecessary things in your life and to add the essential. Right?

Well, in the spirit of Lent, I'm adding the spiritual discipline of moving. OK, not just moving. Purging, decluttering, packing and moving in less than two weeks.

Letting go of the unnecessary is easier when I consider packing items and unpacking them again. Is it truly something we need or really want? Can we do without this? Yeah, I think I've got this part down pat. Thrift stores get ready!!! We've got bags of stuff for you! It helps that I don't have time to really think long and hard about different items.

Adding those things that are essential is more problematic. Patience with Boo when he asks the same question time after time, patience with myself when I'm overworked and tired...that's harder. Remembering and making time for prayer...that's been an issue the last couple of days too.

Another essential that I need to add is trust. Trust that I'll have the physical and emotional strength to do all that I need to get ready for this move alone, trust that the house we're moving into will be ready, trust that Boo will remember the area well enough that he won't be too confused when we move and trust that this is the right move for us.

I guess a little additional information is necessary...

We're moving back to the lovely, very small town we left a year and eight months ago. I thought we had good reasons to move. Circumstances change. Boo is less willing to get out and about because there are so many people here. Even going out for coffee is overwhelming for him.

When we moved, we had no immediate family in the area. Mom had moved away for several months, but has returned to the area and plans to stay there. Now she needs help with some day to day things. Our new home will almost be in her backyard. So, theoretically, it will be easier to care for Boo and give Mom the help she needs to remain independent.

Besides, Boo and I both prefer the quiet, slower pace of life there. Boo enjoys sitting on the front porch and speaking to everyone who walks by. (Yes, people really do walk by, wave and talk. Just like in small towns years ago.) At this point in our lives, slow is better. It's certainly easier to get Boo out to do things when he knows the people he sees will be familiar. I'll be busy and happy with Boo and Mom, getting to know some of my cousins that have retired to the area and connecting with old (and new) friends on the internet.

Here's to my new, very practical spiritual discipline...moving. Moving away from the unnecessary clutter in our lives and moving toward emphasizing those things that are essential.  Letting go of the fear of change and failure, embracing family and new friends and grabbing onto trust with both hands and holding on.

Ummm...prayers for our move and my sanity would be greatly appreciated.  When I take the time to think about what I'm obligated to do, I panic. 

And here's a video of Boudreaux trying to catch the aquarium fish.  It has nothing to do with anything in this post.  Boo just likes it.


Sabbath Moments, Spiritual Sundays, The Weekend Brew and The Sunday Community, Hear It On Sunday, Use It On Monday

Friday, March 15, 2013

Seven Quick Takes #17


Boo has spent much time this week watching Boudreaux, his cat, play. And Boudreaux has indeed had quite a lot of fun playing. He's spent hours chasing shadows on the walls and floors. Boo will wiggle his fingers in the sunlight and Boudreaux will wiggle his whole body in anticipation of catching the moving shadows. I'd think that the cat would eventually realize that he just can't catch shadows. But no, hope springs eternal and the two of them play contentedly...as long as the sun shines.

When the sun sets, it's time to play with the fish. For over a year now Boudreaux has attempted to catch the fish through the aquarium glass. The fact that he hasn't succeeded deters him not in the least. He still tries. Several times one of the fish has swum rapidly toward the top of the tank while Boudreaux frantically tried to scratch his way through the glass. The silly cat will turn a backward flip to get away from the racing fish. As though a fish in a tank could actually hurt him.


Against Boo's wishes, I've tried non-OEM ink cartridges in our ink jet printer. Boo sold and repaired office equipment for years and remembers the mess his customers would sometimes bring him when they tried to use cheaper ink cartridges. His vision and memory no longer allow him to repair even simple printers like ours. So, deciding that saving almost thirty dollars a cartridge was worth the risk, I ordered the ink. So far so good. (I'm only printing documents right now. I'll probably continue to use commercial services to print photos because there are generally lots of bargains to be found.)

Yesterday Boo asked how my printing was going. I showed him and he nodded sagely. “I knew that was a good idea all along.” Ah yeah, just like a man.


I've enjoyed pinterest recently. It's amazing how many projects I've lined up to do. Does anyone else feel like they accomplished something wonderful by pinning ideas to their walls? I've felt like patting myself on the back...and for what? Finding more stuff to do? (Although some things are really worthwhile, time saving, budget friendly or just plain cute.)

Wait, it's green! I'm not wasting paper or filling filing cabinets with ideas that I want to try. That ought to be worth something. Just as an aside, my father in his wisdom filled a drawer—-a whole drawer—-of one filing cabinet with recipes he'd cut from newspapers and magazines that he wanted to try. They're neat and organized, but my sister and I'll probably never use them. For sure and certain, Mom won't. And I feel guilty throwing them away.


Boo is fascinated with our electric blanket. We've had it for almost three years. So, it isn't new. He's thrilled that we can adjust the heat...or even turn it off if we want. It is helpful, especially the dual control part. One of us is rather cold natured these days and he likes to turn his side of the blanket UP. Not to mention any names, of course.

Last night, Boo discovered my controls. I thought I was having eternal hot flashes! Boo just gave me an evil grin and patted me on the head. OK, maybe it really wasn't an evil grin, maybe that's a little harsh. But at three am when I wake hot and sweaty with Boo grinning...well, I don't take it too well. Boo still thinks it's funny.


One of my college roommates and her son are heading to Ireland for a dream vacation in a few weeks. Her son has always wanted to go to Ireland...even as a small child. Yeah Chris! At least one of them is sane. (This is the same friend who'd always wanted to sky dive. So last fall, she jumped out of a perfectly good airplane.) I'm scared to ask what else is on her bucket list of things to do before she dies. She seems so normal...on the outside anyway.


Earlier this week, Boo gave Boudreaux a small piece of boneless whiting. Boudreaux was excited! He doesn't often get samples of our food. After carrying it to the mat his dishes are on, he sat on it. Sat on a small piece of fish. Periodically he'd get up and smell it, bat it around and then sit on it again. I finally threw it away.

Boudreaux's mother was rescued from a chicken farm and I guess her love of chicken was passed on to him. He loves chicken any way you fix it. Fish, not so much. Although fish in the aquarium are interesting. Go figure!


Boo is asking for beignets again. Maybe Sunday...if his blood sugar is still low. I know it's Lent, but we could eat them in celebration of our new Pope. Mom wants some too. So, the next time we're in Morven, I'll make a huge batch. Cajun food is just meant to be shared!

Join Jenn at Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Chats on the Farmhouse Porch #1

I just discovered Everyday Ruralty, a blog moderated by Patrice and her weekly Chats on the Farmhouse Porch.  Boo was fascinated by the different questions asked each week.  Mostly, I think he liked the idea of sitting on the front porch, waving and talking to whomever wanders by.  It brings back good memories of times when he was growing up and times we spent on the porch at Morven talking to friends and relatives who wandered by.  (After Boo's third stroke, he thought he was a celebrity because everyone stopped and spoke to him...even the town policeman on patrol.)

This week's questions are:

1.  What is your favorite movie of all times?

Kari:  Definitely The Sound of Music.  When I first saw the movie as a young child, I wanted to be a nun.  I mean, talk about an ideal job!  You wake up in the morning and don't have to worry about what you're going to wear or how to fix your hair.  Best of all, NUNS COULD SING.  I so wanted to sing, but I couldn't carry a tune if it had handles.  My mother burst my bubble.  She informed me that Baptists couldn't be nuns.  All my dreams of quick clothing choices, covering my unruly hair and SINGING without others running for cover dashed! 

Boo:  Either a James Bond or John Wayne movie.  Both types are winners.

2.  Name three things that are permanent residents in your handbag.

Kari:  A 4"x6" photo book with Boo's medical history, medical power of attorney, current prescriptions, important phone numbers, a few photos of Boudreaux and grandchildren and a prepaid cash card, a cell phone and, hopefully, my house key.  The last has been doubtful the last few times I left home.

Boo:  My identification, my cane or walker and my cat.  I can't do without Boudreaux.  (Or at least a photo of Boudreaux.)

3.  What's the best way to your heart?

Kari:  Conversation...be it verbal or written.  Letters, email, face to face, phone calls...it doesn't matter.  I really crave the connection.

Boo:  Through my food...especially oatmeal.

4.  Do you like going to yard sales?

Kari:  Yes!  I don't often go, but I like finding treasures and I really like the idea of finding and using things we need instead of buying something new.  My version of "going green."  I also like thrift stores for the very same reasons.

Boo:  Not especially.

5.  If you could slide down a rainbow, what do you think you'd find on the other side?

Kari:  Ireland or Scotland!

Boo:  Rain.

Boo and Pope Francis

Boo was interested in the papal conclave.  He earnestly prayed for the Cardinals, the Pope to be elected and our beloved Pope emeritus.  He maintained absolute faith that the Holy Spirit was guiding the hearts and minds of the Cardinals. 

Change is difficult for Boo.  He thrives with a peaceful environment, as consistent a schedule as possible and limited and much discussed changes.  Even then, change can be unsettling and daunting.  Boo's biggest concern during the papal conclave was that he'd have difficulty remembering the name of the new Pope.  His hope was that the new Pope would choose the name of a recent previous Pope.  That would certainly have made this change easier for him.

Boo was sleeping when I heard that we had a new Pope.  I woke him and, after his immediate prayers of thanksgiving, he asked what the Pope's name was. 

"Pope Francis.  He's from Argentina."

Absolute silence...and then tears. 

I waited.  I had no idea what was going through his mind. 

"Pope Francis.  He's chosen Boudreaux's name so that I can remember it."

(For those who don't know, Boudreaux is Boo's cat, his "four legged son" and his constant companion.  Boo insisted that he had to have four names "like a proper Cajun" when we first adopted him as a tiny kitten. Thus, this little tiger cat became Francis Clawed Boudreaux Guidry.)

Well, I'm pretty sure our new Pope didn't choose Francis because of Boudreaux.  On the other hand, Boo remembered Pope Francis' name this morning with no difficulty.  A fact that pleases him no end.  In the midst of a life when the ordinary is often confusing and sometimes frightening, Boo remembers and already feels a connection to Pope Francis.

The three Francis in Boo's life...

St Francis of Assisi

Pope Francis

Boo and Francis Clawed Boudreaux Guidry
We're linking with Thought Provoking Thursdays, Deep Roots at Home, and Catholic Bloggers Network in the Catholic Family Journal section.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Questions to Trigger Memories

One of the struggles Boo, like many who've had strokes or who are in the early stages of dementia, has is verbalizing what he remembers.  Usually once I ask Boo a leading question and then a follow up question that builds on the information he shared, Boo is well on his way to sharing a memory. 

This is also a wonderful, stress free way to encourage conversational skills.  Your elder generally remembers the past with little problem.  S/he doesn't need to be concerned about what day of the week it is or who the current president is.  S/he doesn't even need to remember who you are.  All they need to concentrate on is telling what they remember.  Many times, being encouraged to share memories triggers a renewed interest in connecting with people...which in turn encourages spontaneous conversations.

Here are a list of questions that I've used at various times to encourage Boo and others to communicate.

  1. What stories did your parents tell you about how they met each other and about their courtship?
  2. How did you celebrate Christmas when you were a child? What did you usually find in your stocking?
  3. Tell me about the war stories in your family. Did your grandfather fight in the Civil War? Your father or uncles in one of the World Wars or Korea? You or your siblings in Vietnam?
  4. What was your favorite meal as a youngster? Who made it and how often?
  5. Tell me about your first job? How old were you? Who hired you? What did you do? How much were you paid?
  6. Who was your best friend when you were growing up? What did the two of you like to do? Did the two of you ever get in trouble together?
  7. Did your parents teach you to hunt, fish, sew, cook? Tell me about the first fish you caught or the first meal you cooked?
  8. Where did you live growing up? Did you move? If so, why? Where did your parents and grandparents live?
  9. Did you have a pet when you were a child? If so, what pet did you have? What was your pet's name? Did you teach it to do any tricks? Were you responsible for your pet's care?
  10. Do you remember the first night you spent away from home? How old were you? Tell me about it.
Enjoy the conversations you have with your elder!  Make memories to cherish in the coming years!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

March 2013 Day Book

Boo completed some of the questions today!  Yeah!  This is one of his really good days.


Outside our window...it is beautiful.  This is a bright, sunshiny, splendid day to be alive...quite a welcome change from the cold, gray, windy days we've had lately.

I am thinking...of rearranging our tall bookcase.  It's the first thing I see when I walk in the bedroom and it's time for change.
Boo is thinking...about the Duke-Carolina game later this evening.

I am thankful...for Boo's good day today.  He's been well oriented and happy.  In fact, he talked to one of his sisters for thirty minutes.  For Boo, that's a long time on the phone.
Boo is thankful...for his sister's prayers.

In the kitchen...well, there's really nothing interesting happening right now.  We're having leftovers for dinner tonight.

I am wearing...a gray snowflake turtleneck with gray sweatpants and black clogs.
Boo is wearing...a medium blue turtleneck, gray sweatpants and black bedroom slippers.

I am creating...a crocheted phone case that's a little too big.  I'm making it up as I go along because I couldn't find a pattern that didn't call for sewing the sides together and I didn't want to do that.
Boo is creating...a recorded collection of memories.

I am going...absolutely nowhere!  Home is just where I want to be.
Boo is going...to be very excited when Duke beats Carolina tonight.

I am reading...The Girl with a Dragon Tatoo.  I saw it at a thrift store and decided to try it.  We'll see.  It's not my usual type of book.
Boo is reading...Princes of Ireland.  Well, the Audible version of it anyway.

I am looking forward to...more lovely spring days.  I've missed being outdoors with Boo far more than I thought I would.  He's not wanted to go outside much this winter.
Boo is looking forward to...seeing my mother-in-law.  She doesn't realize that Boudreaux is the smartest cat.  (Indeed she doesn't.  Mother firmly believes that Bootsie, her cat, is the smartest, the best, etc.)

Around the house...NCIS reruns are playing in the background.  Boudreaux and Romeo (a friend's cat) are pretending to be sleeping bookends on separate shelves...and hey, there're only four books that've been knocked to the floor.

A favorite quote for the day..."Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: 'What?  You too!  I thought I was the only one.' "   C S Lewis

One of my favorite things...plain saltine crackers and iced tea.  Don't ask me why.  I just do.
One of Boo's favorite things...coffee with milk, stevia, vanilla and cinnamon.

A peek into our day...
Boo concentrating on talking to one of his sisters on the phone.

Still talking to his sister and enjoying the sun.

Boudreaux on his first walk in weeks.

He hears children...time to go back inside.  This cat is terrified of children.

Romeo on his first trip outside...OK, on his first allowed trip outside.  He didn't enjoy it at all and he so wanted to go out.

We're linking with A Simple Woman's Daybook.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Seven Quick Takes


After a super long blogging break, I'm back!  The deaths of several close friends and family members members definitely shook me.  I've thought more about my own mortality, about the legacy I want to leave and just took time to grieve.  

One of Boo's oldest and closest friends died unexpectedly a few weeks ago.  Boo and Dave have known each other for close to forty years.  At different points in their lives, they've worked together, lived together, drunk coffee and argued together.  In the last few years when Boo was confused, Dave remained a staunch friend and supporter.

It's taken Boo a long time, but he's beginning to adjust to Dave's death.  He's certainly come a long way from completely falling apart when he thinks about his friend.  For several weeks, Boo consistently insisted on "meeting Dave for coffee to talk about why he died."  It took time, prayer and lots of talking to help him face the reality of Dave's death.


We're planning a family reunion for my father's side of the family this summer.  We haven't all gathered since Grandmother died in the early 1980's.  Well, we have actually seen each other at funerals, but that's not the same.  This time we can talk, take hundreds of photos and reconnect.  Mother is preparing a family tree and overdosing on genealogy.  (Shake my family tree and a bunch of nuts fall out!)  


Boo and I have been listening to audio books left and right recently.  Yesterday we finished listening to the second book in Patrick Taylor's Irish Country series.  Tomorrow we're starting Princes of Ireland by Edward Rutherford in preparation for St. Patrick's day.  Boo is practicing his Irish brogue. He has a ways to go before he sounds authentic.


Boo's counting down the days before Boudreaux's birthday.  (We're estimating his date of birth.)  Somehow, I don't think Boudreaux's nearly as excited as his "father" is.  Boo has worried and worried about what to get his cat for his third birthday.  I'm thinking a sturdy box, a paper bag, some crinkly paper to shred and some catnip.  Boudreaux will think we're the most wonderful people in the world and once he's tired of his gifts, I can throw them away.


One of my young cousins is newly engaged.  Her intended proposed to her on national television just before he participated in a polar dive for charity.  I can't imagine, but it worked for them.  She doesn't live near her Mother and Grandmother.  So when she goes shopping for her wedding gown, her Mother and Grandmother will be with her on Skype to participate and advise.  What a wonderful use for modern technology.


My mother has fallen several times since Christmas.  In fact, she's fallen several times in the last few weeks.  Her family doctor hasn't found any specific reason for her unsteadiness.  Mom is finally agreeing to use a cane regularly, both in and out of her home.  Thank goodness!  She seems to be very alert and well oriented and manages her day to day activities with few problems.  Well, except for cooking.  That woman does NOT like to cook!  


I'm linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary.