Absence is a Play

Absence is a play, by Peter M. Floyd, about Alzheimers. It was part of a week long marketing effort by Integracare, parent corporation of Candle LIght Cove in Easton, MD, to bring awareness to their memory unit.  They want to have full occupancy which helps pay the bills and makes it possible for people with enough money to be able to have a safe place for those they love. That’s my cynical take. The week was also meant to be educational for professionals and families. All proceeds of the play ticket sales went to the Alzheimer’s Association

The play was heartbreaking, and difficult to watch. It made me want to cry. If I hadn’t been sitting in the middle of a row near the front with a friend, I would have left. I reminded myself that if you are caring for someone with dementia, you can’t leave. And quite possibly can’t afford the best residential care.

I suspect my cynicism was in part an emotional reaction to the play. As a playwright, I thought there were some problems with the structure and pacing of the play. Denial at work again? Maybe I was thinking about play structure so I didn’t start sobbing at what it must be like to lose the memories that make us who we are.

I wanted to go home and find a Doris Day movie on Netflix, lose myself in well-lit sets where beautiful people struggle with life, but always have a happy ending. As my friend and I walked into the parking lot, I was so absorbed that I almost tried to get in someone else’s car. I so hope that is not an early symptom of a downward slide.

Part of the week involved workshops and activities for professional care givers. A friend in my morning yoga class took part in a sensory deprivation exercise. She said it was extremely disorienting, but she was glad she’d done it. It gave her a better idea of what having dementia would be like. I think I’ll stick with denial for now.

It is estmated that 10% of people 65 and over have Alzheimers, and one-third of people age 85 and older (32 percent) have the disease. If other forms of dementia are added to that number it could be much higher. So kudos to all the people in the community who participated in bringing awareness to this issue. But the cynic in me wonders how the heck our country going to take care of all these people. I suppose women can quit their jobs and stay home to care for the elderly. Maybe lower income people without access to adequate healthcare won’t live long enough to develop dementia.

And then I wonder how the pharmaceutical industry is going to benefit. Would they really want to cure this disease? 10% of the increasing demographic of our aging population — that’s a lot of drug sales. What if the answer is less alcohol, less sugar and non GMO food? Or more good fat in our diets?  I’m cynical enough to think that profitability always seems to win. And that really makes me want to cry.

 

 

 

 

 

Today I Get Pummeled

I have a body work guy who comes once a month to my house. He brings his massage table and works on my shoulders, frozen thoracic spine and hips. His name is Billy and sometimes he makes me cry. Billy has magic hands, but this is not a feel good massage; it’s deep tissue work getting my body ready for chiropractic adjustments by Dr. John Mitchie in Annapolis. I try to schedule Billy in the morning and Dr. Mitchie the same afternoon. I feel pummeled by the end of the day, but my spine is getting better.

If I was rich, I’d have Billy twice a week. Maybe then, I could have a feel-good massage occasionally tucked in between the body work.

I went to chiropracher Dr. Mitche originally for mid-thoracic issues. I think I may have hauled too many 40 pound bags of chicken feed or tuck-pointing cement. I actually think this all started the week we hand carried 20 thousand board feet of lumber from the pasture and stickered it up to dry in the barn. That was many, many years ago, but I’ve had back issues ever since.

My four mornings a week 7 a.m. yoga helps. Sitting at my desk writing for hours most certainly does not. I’m thinking about a standing desk. But it’s standing for a long period that really makes my mid-back hurt. Like the days I can tomato sauce or make jam. A conundrum… But all of this therapeutic work means I can work in the garden and not be crippled the next day. And I rarely take ibuprophen any more. A GI bleed (three years ago) that landed me in the hospital needing three pints of blood stopped that. Tumeric also helps.

Two weeks ago at the Farmers market I got some fresh lima beans. I shelled them and put them in the fridge not sure what I would do with them. Then, twice that week, guys who came to do appliance repairs at the house talked lima beans. These were shore boys who knew a thing or two about cooking fresh limas. Both told me to soak them overnight before cooking them. Fresh limas? Yes, overnight soak. That keeps them from being too starchy, I was told. The next day I cooked mine with a smoked ham hock and the result was creamy, delectable limas in a succulent broth.

The week after that I found cranberry beans at the Farmers Market. I’d never had them before and they were so beautiful, I just had to buy them. And Charlene, the vendor I bought them from, told me I’d never again use kidney beans in chili once I’d tried Cranberry beans. I also asked Charlene, from whom I’d bought the lima beans the previous week, about soaking fresh limas overnight. She’d never heard of that, but my results were so delicious I’d do it again. Fresh limas and cranberry beans are hard to find except for a very limited time at Farmers Markets.

I shelled mine, blanched them and now have four one cup bags in the freezer for winter soup. I found six pods that were quite dry. I set them aside to get totally dry and will save the seeds to plant next spring. This is a link to a Cranberry Bean Pasta Fagioli recipe. It sounds really good. First cold day, it’s going on the stove.

In the garden things are winding down. The huge pot of red geraniums that comes inside to bloom all winter has been cut back and the pot is sitting on the deck. I just have to wash the outside of the pot before my husband helps me bring it in. I can’t lift it on my own. A rootbound clivia has been divided and two repotted plants given to friends. The one I divided will come back inside for the winter, but I’m told by the gardener who gave me the original that it probably won’t bloom this winter. I also divided a huge agapanthus. I’ll bring a smaller pot of it inside, but haven’t quite decided what to do with the leftovers. Some people tell me they can winter over in our area, but I don’t have a sheltered place to plant them. They may go on the compost heap.

My bed at the community garden is full of winter greens. I should have radishes in two weeks.  I’ll put a row cover on it next week to keep out the falling leaves from a nearby maple.

A raised bed at home has bok choy that needs to be thinned. I’ll take the thinnings and plant them in another bed. That’s on the schedule for this weekend.

Soon I’ll be inside most days, with even more time spent at my desk. I really need to think about ordering that standing desk.

 

Harvest

Tonight is a Harvest moon. We go to bed early, so I’m going to try and stay up for moonrise.

This year I bought some small yellow, Dutch potatoes at Harris Teeter. I thought they were so good I went in search of seed potatoes. The closest variety I could find was Yellow Finn so I ordered them and planted on St. Patrick’s day. I can’t remember the last time I planted potatoes. The harvest in late July wasn’t very big, but they were tasty. The plants had died back so I thought it must be time to dig them. It was probably a draw between what I paid for the seed potatoes and what the Dutch potatoes at Harris Teeter would have cost.

The volunteer eggplants produced but I can’t find the picture I took. My beds at the Community Garden are finished except for the purple sweet potatoes. They will be harvested after we have a frost. But the last of the tomatoes, carrots, beets and a couple of cukes were welcome.

I’m still making tomato sauce from the “not quite ripe” tomatoes I harvested. That is an attempt to outwit the squirrels. When I get to October, and am still making sauce, I wish the squirrels would have been more industrious. However, the last quarts of sauce went into the fridge instead of the canner. I can pull some out for soup and quick spaghetti sauce.

This is what you get if you don’t thin your carrots!

I’ve planted fall crops in one of my Community Garden beds and have planted some things in one bed at home. The others will be covered to sleep for the winter. The leaves are beginning to fall and a row cover makes spring clean-up easier. I saw a couple of Harlequin beetles the other day. I’m trying to hand pick them. What we really need is some cold weather. And, of course, rain. It’s very dry in the mid-Atlantic right now.

In between cooking and gardening, the writing continues. I spent the morning assigning new ISBNs to the three books. There is an ISBN for a print book and a different ISBN for an e-book. I can’t use the already assigned ISBNs as changing the author’s name or cover is too big a shift.

 

Take a Walk Through My Garden

Take an early morning walk through my garden with me. I often take photos then because the light is so lovely. Here are some of my favorites from last week. After my walk, I am ready to sit at my desk and write.

Take a walk through your yard, no matter the size, or down the street of your neighborhood and look closely. There is beauty to be found.

 

 

Equifax Data Breach Time Sink

I’m watching the news on TV while I eat my breakfast. There’s a piece about what you should do to find out if you might be compromised by this data breach. Go to Equifax.com and check, the anchor tells me. Then you really should freeze your credit on Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

I was convinced…and the travail began. First it wasn’t so easy to find out where on the Equifax website to check to see if your security has been compromised. Mine wasn’t; my husbands was. We talked and decided to freeze security on all three sites. That’s six freezes since I have to do one for me and one for my husband at three different sites. My husband has hearing problems and that meant I needed to do all six.

I started with Experian. I called the number provide which led me to an automated system. After putting in all my husband’s information (this took probably 8 minutes) I got a message that it couldn’t be done and I’d have to mail in the information. Of course I couldn’t write it all down fast enough. Then I tried to enter my information on Experian. Same final words – you don’t qualify. Send us the info. I went to the Experian website thinking that would be faster. It wasn’t and I ended up with the same instructions – mail us the information. Certified mail preferred.

On TransUnion I would have to open an account to be able to freeze security checks. I didn’t want to sign on for 19.95 a month to be able to freeze security checks so I bailed.

After spending a couple of frustrating hours on websites, it boiled down to I’d have to send in information, preferably by certified mail. Since almost half the population of the United States has been affected by this data breach, I can’t even imagine the amount of mail that would entail. That’s if people didn’t just get frustrated and forget it.

Oh, and Equifax executives knew about this in July and then sold their Equifax stock. Can you say “insider trading.” How much you want to bet they get no fines, no jail time. They should be subject to the same treatment as Martha Stewart.

That’s my rant for the day. I’d really planned to spend the morning working on my manuscript. I need to sit cross-legged on my meditation cushion.

Fall Has Arrived

The new furnace has a thermostat that shows the outside temperature. 59 the other morning – that required a sweater. I love fall weather. Crisp mornings and evenings and mid 70’s during the day. Flowers are still blooming including one confused azalea. The flowers are beautiful so I’m going to pin down some low branches to make new plants. I think this plant came from my mother’s azalea garden and I have no idea what the name is. The only one I remember is Martha Hitchcock which has a very similar flower but in shades of purple.

Seeds for fall crops are going in a couple of the raised beds. On Saturday my husband helped me take the tomatoes down in my Community Garden bed and cut them up for the compost bin. Then we added some amendments (LeafGro) and dug the bed. I’ll seed it today. Two kinds of kale, some radishes, turnips and a couple of rows of leftover seeds just to see if they germinate.

My parsnip seeds never germinated. They came from Johnny’s Seeds and that was surprising and disappointing. I paid extra for pelleted seeds as parsnip seed is tiny. But not one parsnip seed germinated when I planted mid-summer. I think I’ll plant a row now  and see if I have better luck. You can do fall parsnips for spring harvests but I might be a bit late.

I had the last “student” at my leaf casting station.

Those concrete leaves will go to yoga class this morning to be delivered. Most of the sand I used for forms has been scattered around. It will eventually help my clay soil. The  I’ve been wanting to do some hypertufa planters and at Lowe’s yesterday found smaller bags of perlite and sphagnum moss so I think I will have to do that before it really gets cold. Then that flat door I’ve been using as a work station can go back into the garage as a colder weather project table.

My first book is at the proofreaders. The second in the series is on the dining room table. I have another plot thread I want to add, and then it will go to the proofer. I am quite impressed so far with her work. She’s asking all the right questions and is only occasionally confounded by some patois slang I use in dialogue.

When work on the second book is completed I will go back to working on book 3. I need to get up and move after working on the books and sitting for hours. These outside projects give me that opportunity. I supposed I could pull out furniture and clean behind, but being outside is always the option I’d rather choose.

 

 

Writing Between Leaf Castings and Fig Condiments

It’s raining this morning. This rain doesn’t have anything to do with Harvey in Texas and Louisiana. I’ve been watching the coverage and can’t imagine what all those people are going to do after the rain stops and the clean-up begins. It’s going to take years. Honestly, I don’t know how the whole Houston area could have been evacuated. Where would everyone have gone? And, not everyone has the resources to be able to leave. 

I had a leaf casting workshop scheduled, but that’s not going to happen. Actually it got cancelled yesterday afternoon when the “student” texted me from Lowe’s to say they were all out of the QuickCrete patcher with vinyl which is what we’ve been using. Maybe we bought out their supply. 

My yoga buddy, Gail, and I made the one shown below. It is the largest one we’ve made so far. It took two buckets of QuickCrete – 40 pounds and was 40″ long. We had to get more sand for the form to put the leaf on. I now have about 150 lbs of sand on the table.

The photo below gives a better idea of the size. It’s in the trunk of my Honda Accord. I delivered it to Gail at our morning yoga class. And had two more people beg to have a class.

The top edge of this one isn’t perfect, but I remind myself that leaves aren’t always either. Gail’s leaf is a third bigger than the one I made for Laura for Christmas last year.

Figs

Another yoga buddy, Hanna, has a surfeit of figs this year and gave me a bag that weighed over 5 pounds. I made some fantastic fig chutney and then a double batch of fig jam. I think we have enough jam to see us through the winter. Here’s the link for the recipe that I pulled off the internet. It’s delicious. Fig Chutney.

Of course, Hanna got a pint jar of Fig Chutney.

I put the chutney and jam through a 10 minute hot water canning bath before storing. I made half pints of the jam for gifts.

During all of this our 10 year old French door refrigerator died. Higgins and Spencer, our local furniture and appliance store, quickly brought us a loaner late on a Saturday afternoon and put it in the garage. We transfered food and didn’t lose anything. Apparently 10 years is the expected life of big appliances these days. The replacement has been ordered but it may be another week. I didn’t want ice and water in the door. We had that in the old one and we never used it. And I wanted white which must not be a popular color. Old fart statement: I expect major appliances to last at least 25 years!

I’m hoping the dishwasher, stove and washer and dryer, which were all bought at the same time ten years ago, don’t decide to die for awhile.

Stepping down into the garage to the fridge is a pain, but I remind myself that in earlier times I could have been walking through the rain to the spring house.

Writing Update

The first book in the Caribbean series is off to the proof reader. I am now looking at the second book. I think because of a plot twist that’s crucial in the third book (not yet completed) that I need to add some fore shadowing to the second book. Republishing gives one a chance to fix some things.

Today I am having a phone consultation about the republishing process with Ally Machate. I know Ally from the Bay to Ocean Writers Conference. She’s been one of our speakers many times. I’m hoping this will help me be clearer about the order of the steps to be taken.

So the writing continues every day with breaks from my desk for leaf castings and fig condiments.