Monday, January 23, 2012

Lola's Sight, Sleep Habits and Spit-Laden Teeth

I don't think Lola can really see much at all anymore. I've already discussed the phenomenon of her not wanting to keep her glasses on. Today she asked me what time it was.  There's a clock directly across from her chair on the mantle, so I asked her to put her glasses on and tell me what time it was. She couldn't see it.

There's also my digital alarm clock that I keep on the end table between her chair and the sofa I sleep on. I turned it around so she could see it. She couldn't see it. I picked it up and held it about a foot from her face. She still couldn't read the time.

It's hard for me to understand the need she has to keep flipping through magazines and her photographs if she really can't see anything. Lately, she's begun to pick magazines up and flip through them. She'll spend barely a second glancing at each page. Yet she wants to flip through them. She keeps looking through her photographs, but I'll bet she can barely see what she's looking at.

Her sleep habits have seriously changed during the last two weeks. What might have been an occasional desire to go to bed early seems to have solidified into a need for more sleep. Tonight, during the "what-time-is-it" incident, at 7:30 p.m., she thought it was time to go to bed. I encouraged her to follow her more routine habit and stay up a bit. Although I have changed her normal medicine time to 10:00 p.m. By 10:30 when I checked on her, she was asleep in her chair.

I roused her to go to bed. It generally takes about 10 minutes for her to get from her chair to the bathroom and then on to her bed. So I came back to my computer and this post. In about 10 minutes I heard her chair creak. By the time I got up and in there, she was flipping through a magazine. She'd forgotten she was on her way to bed. After asking if she hadn't been ready for bed, she decided she had been and got up on into her bedroom.

For the young, it's difficult to comprehend how agonizingly slow going it is for an extremely aged person to get to a room 15 feet away, take off a housecoat, pull the covers back on a bed and actually get into the bed. It's amazing that these few actions can take nearly 10 minutes. It's difficult for me, and I'm not especially young.

On the list of difficult things for me to cope with, let me firmly place handling spit-laden dentures every time the older person eats something. Add to that list kindly replying to the statement offered at every denture handling of, "You know the routine, don't you?"  It's sad when you find yourself not wanting to get up and feed your aged parent because you dread handling the spit-laden dentures, again, for the umpteenth time that same day.

P.S.  In the title I put teeth because lately my blog seems to be a magnet for people fixing pipes and teeth. Pity you have to talk in code on a personal blog. It's the California pipe fixers I'm really getting fed up with. Can't even call them by their professional name, or this post, too, will get spammed by some hot-shot Californian wanting to advertise their probably-shoddy company - on a little-read blog east of the Mississippi. Like that's a smart expenditure of advertising dollars.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Julia and Jacques - Beef and My Breakfast Quiche

This has been a wonderful Sunday afternoon, which I've spent watching episodes of "Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home" over at . That's Julia Child and Jaques Pepin (Ole Asbestos Fingers).

This episode was their first and about beef. Since I wanted to remember some of the recipes and methods they used, I embedded it here.

And to start Sunday morning off right, I made Lola and myself a quiche. Yum.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Great Peach Wine Experiment Begins

The Great Fake Wine Experiment has been so much fun it's propelled me into trying a different one. This time it's peach wine. It began on January 7, 2012.

Non-sequitor: While I'm writing today's blogposts, I'm listening to an Amanda Palmer channel via . For those not familiar with Pandora on the computer, it's an internet radio website that allows you to listen to music. You type in an artist that you like in the search box, and Pandora begins playing music from that artist and others that perform similar music. I've loved Pandora for at least 7 years, probably longer, but I can't remember when I first learned about it.

Charles or Melda - you could listen to singers like Frank Sinatra, Perry Como or Tony Bennett :-)

Back to Peach Wine

Original Peach Wine Recipe 
1 gallon fresh peaches
3 gallons of water
9 pounds of sugar

Gayle's Adapted Peach Wine Recipe
2 #10 cans of peaches
3 gallons of liquid - peach juice + enough water to make 3 gallons
1 10-pound bag of sugar

Again, I used a 5-gallon water container purchased from Wal-Mart. I emptied it, measuring out the required 3-gallons of water for the wine. Then I put the canned peaches in a colander sitting over a bowl and drained them. I saved the juice.

While you're draining the peaches, put the sugar in a large pot and cover it with enough water to melt the sugar, and sit that on the stove on low. The object is to get the water warm enough to melt all the sugar but not to get it terribly hot.

While the sugar was melting, I chopped up the peaches in a food processor. Two (2) large, #10-size, cans of peaches were exactly the gallon of fruit the recipe requires. Of course, for a not-fake recipe, one would use fresh peaches.

Next I put the peaches in the water jug. To get the fruit in the water jug, I used electrical tape and taped my canning funnel to the jug. That way the fruit actually went in the jug and not slithering and splashing all over the floor. Although since I splashed so much water on the floor emptying the water jug, it would have been fairly easy to clean.

Then I added the by-now melted sugar. That got shaken up until the mash was thoroughly mixed up.

Then I poured in the peach juice and shook that to mix it all up. I had measured the liquid from the peaches and subtracted that same amount from the 3 gallons of water. After the peach juice went in, the remaining water was poured in. At this time I yelled for Max, and he shook the whole shebang vigorously for me.

Then I taped a 9-inch party balloon to the top of the water jug with electrical tape. The electrical tapes makes a nice seal but doesn't leave tape goop, um, residue on the water jug. Now the impatient waiting begins.

Peach Wine Updates

At the beginning
The peach wine has been merrily fermenting away since January 7th. It took about a week for fermentation to begin and the balloon to begin to expand. It got bigger and bigger. In fact, it got so big I began to fear for it's life. It finally died an explosive agonized death last night. It was buried with due dignity in the trash can and replaced with a new one.

At the beginning all of the peaches were at the bottom of the jug. About a week later it was odd in that there was a bit of peaches on the bottom but the majority was in the middle of the jug. By about 5 days ago, the majority of the peaches moved to the top of the jug with some still in the bottom. If you sit and watch, you can occasionally catch a piece of fruit either falling or rising in the handle of the jug. Things to do when bored.

While replacing the balloon, I could see the peach mash, err, correctly called mast by real wine makers I think, gurgling and bubbling. Fascinating.

January 18, 2012

Kablooey - January 20, 2012

In looking at the pictures, you can also see the balloon on the Great Fake Wine jug getting smaller and smaller. One of these days it's supposed to fall over which marks the end of fermentation and the finishing of the wine. Impatient.

Lola's Changing Habits

I haven't posted in a while, but I have been keeping various notes throughout the week. So let's recap a bit.

Lola had the wanders on Sunday. She wandered all over the house multiple times. When she does this, she'll stop by a table or place where she has stuff sitting out and look at them. Sometimes she'll pick something up and then set it back down. From watching her it seems she doesn't remember her possessions. I've removed some items, and she's never commented on them being missing. That's a good thing because she finally had so many knickknacks and things from Bebe that it made a person (me) feel overwhelmed by stuff. Now I think I can more freely declutter without upsetting her.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Lola's Eccentricities

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Whoo Boy! Just had to scrape myself off the ceiling again from Lola slamming the den door shut. Well, it wasn't a true slam, as in when you're so angry shutting the door as hard as you can is a great thing; it was more of a shutting it very firmly.

There's just no telling what neural pathway in Lola's brain got switched on and became dominant, but these things that get into the very elderly's heads are amazing. The two quirkiest for Mom right now are the one that has her turning every container upside down when it's empty, or mostly empty, and the one of having to shut every door.

Every door she sees has to be shut. In our house a closed door on the bathroom used to mean it was occupied. Not anymore. Now it means either it's occupied or has been seen by Lola. This house has a little short hallway. It's like walking into a cave now because all 4 closable doors on it are always closed.

Every time she finishes a drink, the cup has to be turned upside down. The problem with this one is that she sits them down on wood, and of course, they drip and leave rings on the end tables. Her little pill container has to be turned upside down.

Oh, and now the silverware has to go in a basket on her side table. She carefully wipes it off and puts it in the basket when she's finished eating. She's also taken to ripping up pictures of people she's decided aren't important anymore, like of my grandfather's brother or of his friends from his youth.

Well, Lola decided she wanted to wander today. She's meandered through the kitchen and around the house. She stopped by a bowl of pecans I'd shelled, and I told her eat all she wanted. She said she had no teeth. So I told her to get them out of the denture cup and put them in. In about 5 minutes she walked into the den with the dentures in her hand holding them out to me saying, "What do I do with these?" Sigh, ugh. I sure wish handling your own dentures wasn't something that got lost in getting old.

Amish Vanity - Opinion Warning

Today I see that the Amish around here have made the headlines of the national news. You can check out the story by clicking here. The specific county is just about 10 miles east of me; it's Graves County.  The story is that Graves County has been cracking down on them for disobeying a law that demands they put an orange reflector on their buggies. The county is citing and ticketing those that don't have the orange reflector. The Amish, of the Swartzentruber sect, claim that is blasphemy to them because it violates their policy of being plain. The Amish men aren't paying the fines, and so they're being jailed.

Here's the opinion, and it's mine and won't buy anyone a cup of coffee:
Vanity is vanity.

You can dress it up any way your mind wants to, but the bottom line is that you can be vain about wanting to be fancy or you can be vain about wanting to be plain.

This is the best definition of vain that I found:
Having or showing an excessively high opinion of one's appearance, abilities, or worth.
The local Amish are failing big time at not being vain. They have an excessively high opinion of their plain appearance.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Spinning Finally

Combing with the English Wool Combs.
See the piles of combed wool on the desk?
A few weeks ago Max brought my spinning wheel up here from Memphis. It sat in a corner and glared at me for a while. So I finally gave in and got out the Murphy's Oil Soap out and cleaned it up. Then it sat in the corner and glared at me wanting to be used.

There was only one problem. Max brought me a bin of fiber to spin, only he brought me unprocessed wool and no tools with which to process it. So the wheel got to sit and glare at me for a few more weeks until Max's next visit when he brought me the fleece I wanted to work on and my English wool combs to process the fleece.

The fleece is a gorgeous chocolate one from a  Corriedale sheep named Peaches. I got it from Martha at Coneflower Farms in Michigan before she went out of business. Raising animals for wool is so intensive that most don't stay in it for long.

So now I have the fleece and the combs, but the wheel had to pout for a few more days until I could get some wool washed, dried and combed. Finally, however, its day came. I've been spinning for the last few days and thoroughly enjoying it. It's the first spinning I've done in over two years.

Me spinning in my cluttered corner.
The thread is spinning up brown with a gray hint to it. I'm thinking it would work very well woven into material for winter curtains for this den that gets so cold in the winter. The den is lovely, but it used to be a breezeway between the house and the garage. It only has one heater vent and an electric heater in one wall. It has two brick walls on the ends of the house and garage and tongue-in-groove knotty pine on the long walls and ceiling. There are two smaller windows on the back wall and a picture window on the front wall looking out to the street. These are covered with Venetian blinds, and some curtains on them would make for a lot of cozy in the winter.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Lola and the Battle of the TV Remote

Mother lost the battle of the remote control of the television a few days ago. I'd had all I could take and confiscated it. Mom watches the Turner Clasic Movie channel 99.9% of the time. Occasionally she'd turn it on CNN. Her ability to use the remote has degraded to the point that she's lucky when she gets it to do what she wants. She'd really reached the point where she couldn't remember how to change the channel and could only remember how to turn the volume up and down.

TCM movies are notorious for quiet whispered moments followed in a split second by roaring fights or bombs exploding. A steady diet of this volume clash has driven me nuts. Lola would try to control the volume by turning it up during the quiet scenes. That meant turning it all the way up. Really, topping out the volume. Then when the regular sound returned she'd just sit there and listen to it.

A couple of days ago, while standing in the hall I watched her and realized that she couldn't discern when no one was speaking as compared to the volume being too low to hear. She was sitting there struggling to turn the volume up until the bar reached the maximum, and there was absolutely no sound coming from the movie. There was no music playing or people talking, and she couldn't tell the difference.

Pumpkin Canning Finished for 2011

Okay. The canning of pumpkin for 2011 was finally finished a couple of weeks ago. Yay! All in all, I got 4 jelly jars of seeds, both roasted and brined, 15 pints of pumpkin puree for pies or bread, 7 jelly jars of pumpkin butter, and enough puree for 2 pumpkin pies to bake tomorrow from two pumpkins.

One of the pumpkins was a monster pumpkin that Uncle Charles gave me (Thank You!) , and one was a regular-sized one that I rescued from shooting practice from the neighbors across the street. "No! Stop! Don't shoot that pumpkin!" They had 5 or 6 so didn't mind me saving one from an explosive death.

It took me quite a few days to get through the process of cutting, seeding, baking, skinning and pureeing (is that a word?) both of the pumpkins. It took hammering the knife with the meat pounding mallet to get through the monster pumpkin. On the right is the pan of the cooked pumpkin.

Max talked about his mother cooking their on the stove when he was young. I wanted to try a method of removing the seeds and baking the pumpkin before removing the skin so that skinning wouldn't be so difficult.

The monster pumpkin was so large, I could only bake 1/2 of it at a time. Each bake took almost 2 hours. The normal pumpkin fit in the oven in one baking. So all in all it took 6 hours to bake the pumpkin. However, I didn't have to try to scoop raw pumpkin away from the skin. Skinning was very easy after the baking was done. I could also do other things while the baking was going on.

After the quarters or halves were baked, I easily skinned the pumpkin meat and then pureed the meat in a food processor. Note for simmering the puree:  Use a deep pan; this stuff spatters like its only purpose in life is to burn you. It took a few days to get the puree canned, the butter recipe figured out and canned, and the seeds done. Remember that there were other things going on - plumping repairs, Mother care and old age, sigh.

The recipe I used was adapted from one I found on the internet; however, it was changed extensively. Perhaps my pumpkin butter doesn't taste like the "real" stuff, but it sure is good.

Pumpkin Butter

3 cps pumpkin puree
3/4 cp Tampico Citrus Punch (orange juice type liquid)
1 cp sugar
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
pinch of powdered cloves (to taste)
pinch of cinnamon (to taste)

Combine all ingredients in saucepan and simmer until thickened.