Monday, August 30, 2010

Supper At Mom's Tonight

My brother-in-law must have been on his meds today, because supper at my mother's tonight was a relatively pleasant affair. His daughter surprised us, by showing up tonight too, so maybe he was just overwhelmed by the sheer number of feminine personalities, but he really did keep his cool.

Mom had prepared a supper of mashed sweet potatoes, coleslaw, a medley of steamed baby carrots, green and yellow wax beans, and snow peas, along with baked ham, and bread rolls. When I came in she was slicing up the ham, and seemed to be having difficulties. She will be 90 in another four months, and has arthritic hands that have have been under the knife a few times, so her grip isn't very good. I said, "You look like you're struggling with that Mom, let me do it for you." She happily surrendered the meat fork and carving knife to me. Immediately I could see why she was having such a hard time. Instead of an actual carving knife, she was sawing the ham loaf up with a bread knife! In her defense, she was probably using a bread knife, because all of her other knives are so dull, they would have a hard time slicing through soft butter. Dad used to sharpen her knives on a wet stone, but Dad has been gone for close to ten years now. (Note to self: get mom a new set of sharp kitchen knives.).

It was good to see my other niece tonight. She is enrolled in training to become a nurse's aid, with an eye on following in her mother's footsteps, and eventually going to nursing school. Knowing that nurse's aids have some pretty nasty tasks to perform, I asked her if she had passed her test in attending bed pans yet, and she said "Oh yes, but it's not just bed pans, sometimes the patients even poop in the shower, and we have to clean that up too!" I said, "Well.....if they are going to do that, then the least they could do, is have the courtesy to squish it down the drain with their toes!", to which my other niece went, "Ewwwwww!", and then began to roar with laughter! Bathroom humor seems be one the favorite topics, when visiting my mother. Probably a legacy of our anal retentive upbringing!

My late twin's daughter is a very sweet kid. She's about six feet tall, so you would think that would give me more confidence in my female presentation, since I'm just a bit over 6 feet, but even at 6', she occupies only half the space that I do. be very young, and skinny again!

It's funny how little things remind you of your grief. As I'm typing this post, I have the TV on with the sound off, so I could listen to Beethoven's 9th. A commercial came on the TV for motorized chairs for the disabled. Suddenly I got to thinking of how my late sister would have benefited from having a motorized chair like that, when she had lost so much of her mobility. Then I got to thinking about the layout of her house, and how she would have to maneuver the chair through the dining room to get to the kitchen to avoid the step down, where the stairwell landed in front of the other entrance to the kitchen. Then I realized, she would still have a hard time getting upstairs for bed, and of course that's when I realized that her husband cleared out the dining room, and made that into her her bedroom in her last days.

Sadly, one thought leads to another, and the next thing I thought of was Jane lying in her hospital bed in that dining room, staring out into space as I stroked her cheek, and I found my self weeping all over again, thinking about the suffering she went through. In only two months time, it will be a year since she passed. I'll go for several months and not think much about it, so I think I'm over it. Then out of the blue, a moment like this will hit me, and I'm right back at her bedside again. I know it takes time, and each time I am brought to revisit her death, the pain become less acute, and the tears flow for a shorter period of time. Maybe I am learning to let go, and this is just the natural process of doing that.

As I posted earlier, the tropical cyclones are lining up, one after another out in the central Atlantic. Hurricane Danielle, after reaching major hurricane status, managed to stay east of Bermuda, and is now been downgraded to a tropical storm, threatening only shipping in the north Atlantic. Following behind her is Hurricane Earl, a major category 4 hurricane, with sustained winds of over 135 MPH! That's enough to blow your roof off! Earl is going to track well west of Bermuda, possibly raking North Carolinian's Outer Banks around Cape Hatteras, before turning a bit eastward, and finally slamming head on into Nova Scotia. Then, right on the heels of Earl, is tropical storm Fiona (No relation to Lucy Melford's Fiona, I hope! I'm sure that her Fiona, while respectfully assertive, would never be aggressive!) No one seems too be sure, what Tropical Storm Fiona has in mind for the US east coast just yet, but we certainly hope she will will follow in the footsteps of her siblings, Danielle and Earl, and simply remain an open Atlantic nuisance

EEEK! I just looked down, and some beetle like creature was crawling on my leg! It was an outdoor insect that somewhat reassembled the shape of a lightning bug, but was a bit smaller, and all black. I'm sure it was a perfectly harmless creature, but nevertheless it gave me quite a start, and a quick brushoff with the back of my hand quickly whisked it off of me, and sent it sailing across the room. It's really not nice to go around bitch slapping harmless little creatures, but when they take to crawling directly on us, do we really have any alternative? Actually I think bugs are pretty cool, and living out here in the woods for the last 18 years, I've grown pretty fond of most of them, but not all of them. I'm still not crazy about the wood chewing, or stinging and biting kind. I have some horseflies that like to buzz around the yard, and if given half a chance, they will gladly take blood donation! I can surely do without them!

While not an insect, I think my favorite little creature of all, is the blue tailed skink.
I have a couple of them living on my deck.

Melissa XX


Jenny said...

I once earned a rebuke from the nuttier of my two sisters because I became frustrated at how blunt one of my mother's "sharp" knives had become and sharpened it. She used it and because she didn't expect it to be sharp, she cut herself on it. Just a thought, if your mother's knives are suddenly all sharp, make sure she's prepared for them.

Sophie said...

I would be a bit upset were any of my kitchen knives to suddenly disappear and be replaced. They are old friends and I am used to them. I heartily recommend instead sharpening them yourself or having someone do it for you.

I've been keeping a close eye on Hurricane Earl myself. Every time the forecast is updated the track has moved a bit further to the west. I don't have to worry (theoretically) about storm surge unless we get hit pretty directly by a Cat 3 hurricane, but localized flooding from a slow moving storm and trees falling on my home are differently matters entirely!

Melissa said...

@ Jenny,

That's certainly a thought, and I wouldn't want to contribute to any potential injury, but something has to be done. Her knives are so dull, you could run them over your hand, and never worry about being cut. How is she supposed to slice a ham, a roast, or a turkey with knives like that?

Since there are no tinkers coming around anymore to repair pots and pans, and sharpen knives, either a replacement is in order, or I get a wet stone and manually sharpen them all myself. I've sharpened many a knife on a wet stone. But I've never mastered it. I can get an edge, but not a razor sharp edge.

Melissa XX

Melissa said...

@ Sophie

Mom's knives are nothing special, and I'm sure she wouldn't miss them if I got her a nice new set. She would never get rid of her old ones anyway, her old ones would simply go into a junk drawer.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you in regard to Hurricane Earl. If you get any warning that it's coming on shore, get out of there! This one s a beast!

Melissa XX

Naukishtae said...

There are inexpensive knife sharpening machines on the market.. just a thought.. I am a knife collector, all types all sizes, pocket knives to bowie knives, to swords.. if you buy a machine you can sharpen your knives, and your moms...

Stace said...

You could always try a steel instead of a stone. It's simple enough to do (or so my mum makes it seem) and I even I can keep a good enough edge on the chef's knives she gave me 8 years ago (though she always gives them an extra good edge when they come to visit once a year).

As to Jenny's comment - yup.. Done that, and I knew they were sharp. The first I knew of the cut was when the onion juice came into the cut and the red onion was just a little too red :)