Tag Archives: adventure



One of my best friends turned 13 today. He also happens to be my grandson.

I once said to him, “We have the best conversations.”

“We DO!” he agreed, grinning.

Yesterday we discussed the fine points of finding a clean restroom while on the road. I explained how I manage to avoid touching the seat and he told me about a retail chain where the facilities are always pristine.

“Do you realize,” he said, “that we just had a 30-minute conversation about toilets? And that we didn’t say anything disgusting or offensive?”

We marveled at that, as we frequently do when our queries and conjectures take us deep into the mysteries of the universe.

I called his phone this morning and sang “Happy Birthday” in a voicemail. He called me back to give me times and directions for the day.

The last thing he said to me was, “I can’t wait to see you.”

I feel like I’m the one having a birthday.

Happy day, beautiful boy.




Last night my daughter called. There doesn’t seem to be a flat rock in the middle of our lives where we can just sit in the sun and be still for a while.

“It’s an icky place to be,” I said.

“It’s icky,” she replied.

I woke this morning with a familiar flutter in my chest, about two degrees of stress away from a panic attack. It sort of feels like too much caffeine, only I haven’t had any yet.

Last Sunday afternoon my brother called. Mom was afraid and had called the police. Dad was angry and combative.  About six hours later he was admitted to a hospital room.

On Monday Dad’s nurse called me to come get Mom. About five hours later she was admitted to a room around the corner from Dad.

They both have some form of dementia. It doesn’t matter which kind, they’re impaired. Their bodies have outlived their minds and that just doesn’t seem fair.

On Wednesday I went to their house to remove anything that burglars might want and to bag up what might need laundering. I filled the hatch of my car with boxes of files, anything that looked like an important document. I left the four leaf bags full of laundry on the living room floor. I put two leaf bags full of ruined bedding in the trash.

On Thursday I went back and removed boxes of photos, more documents, stacks of mail, folios of papers: my dad’s military records, my mom’s notebooks.

I went home and began looking for the money. A memory care facility for both of them is going to be expensive.

By Saturday afternoon I had it all sorted. I had discarded enough paper to fill the garbage cart: junk mail, magazines, empty envelopes. Mom’s carefully collected recipes are on the kitchen table. Boxes of cancelled checks and insurance policies and medical records litter the living room floor.

My parents never owned a computer. My dad has an Underwood typewriter that uses a ribbon. Among his stuff I found a box of typewriter erasers and brushes and several packs of carbon paper.

As I type this I am thinking that some of my readers will not know what these things are, and I can feel them Googling now.


Grammy & Grampy are both patients in the hospital. Both have dementia. She doesn’t remember why they are there, and she keeps trying to take him home. Doc says they are trying to keep the #lovebirds together. ❤️

“Have they ever been apart?” my brother asked.

“In the ’60s Dad went on active duty for two weeks,” I replied.

I took my parents some clothing during visiting hours. They were sitting in the hall with another patient, in chairs lined against the wall across from the nurses’ station.

Mom now talks of nothing else but caring for Dad. His welfare is her only need.

She asked me to help her find a place for them to live. When she began to weep, I cradled her. She rested her head on my shoulder like a little girl and quieted. Her body felt like delicate glass that might shatter at any second.

Gently prodding Dad awake, she said, “Look who’s here.”

Dad slowly brought me into focus and smiled. He was too groggy to speak, but he winked at me. To this day it thrills me when he does that.

Mom rose from her chair to wipe his lips with a corner of his blanket. She smoothed his hair and kissed him on the mouth.

“We want to keep the lovebirds together,” their doctor said.

Yes. As long as we can. #lovebirds

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread


bread My advice: read this post all the way through before starting.

Cornbread making is a true kitchen art, and even the best cooks have to practice it.  So don’t freak out if your first attempts are disappointing.  The secrets include a hot oven, a hot skillet, and a moist batter.

These ingredients are liable to vary widely: the dryness of the meal, the moisture content of the sour cream, the size of the eggs. So you have to be willing to guess a lot. Eventually you’ll do this without using measuring cups or spoons. You’ll just throw everything into a bowl and mix it up.

I’ve never used anything to make cornbread but a large, well-seasoned cast-iron skillet.  You can certainly adapt this recipe to your favorite technique.

And it’s easiest if you mix all the runny things first and then add the dry things. But you want to start with eggs, then oil, and then milk. If you add pickled jalapenos and/or sour cream to your eggs it might curdle them.


2 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil: see my note at the bottom***.
Milk, half&half or cream — whatever is on hand.
1/2 c sour cream
Self-rising corn meal mix (yellow is best, but white is OK. If you can get the buttermilk kind, that’s even better.)
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (sharp, medium or mild — your call)
Diced jalapeno pepper (I like the small cans already diced.  If you’re brave, you can dice your own fresh ones.)


Put 2 T oil in your skillet and put into the oven to heat at 400 degrees.  You want a hot oven and a hot oiled skillet to start with.

Crack the eggs into your mixing bowl and stir lightly with a fork.

Blend in 2 T canola oil and about 1/2 cup of milk. This isn’t precise and I’ll explain why in a minute.

Add in sour cream and a heaping cup of corn meal mix. Don’t be afraid.

Add cheese and jalapenos.  Start with 2 T of the peppers, unless they’re fresh or unless you’re new at this.


Now here’s where the artistry comes in.  There’s almost no way to mess up this cornbread, especially if you have no preconceived idea of what it’s supposed to be when it’s done. But you do want it to be moist.

What you want is a batter that’s about like sour cream.  You want it to flow into your skillet with the help of a spoon, but you don’t want it to be too thick.  Nor do you want it as runny as pancake batter.  So here you’ll add a couple of tablespoons of milk to thin it down, or a couple of tablespoons of meal mix to thicken it up.

You can’t go wrong.  The worst thing that can happen is you’ll end up with too much batter, and that just means more cornbread.

When the oven has reached 400 degrees, remove the hot skillet.  Be very, very careful at this point.  Remove children, pets, and clumsy relatives from the area.

Gently spoon the batter into the skillet and bake for 10 minutes.  Then check the bread by jiggling the skillet handle.  If the top of the bread shivers, give it another 2 to 5 minutes.  The bread is ready when it pulls away from the sides of the skillet.


If you’re happy with the way your bread looks when it comes out of the oven, or if the idea of flipping makes you nervous, you can just serve it straight from the skillet.  If you’ve used an aluminum pan for your baking or you’ve made muffins, you can just skip this part.

To finish the bread, you want to flip it out onto a ceramic plate, upflippedside down.  Then slide the bread back into the hot skillet, bottom side up, and leave it for a few minutes.  This gives the top a nice color.

Flip the bread back onto the plate right side up to serve.

Don’t forget to turn off the oven.


I always put butter and honey on the table.  But sometimes we just think they’re superfluous.

And if you’re easily distracted and tend to burn things, it’s a good idea to have a loaf of French bread on standby.

***A word on oils

Canola oil seems to be the food snobs’ latest whipping boy.  It comes from rapeseed, which gets people all aflutter.  Rape is the Latin word for “turnip” and is a plant from the mustard clan, which is high in erucic acid.  So somebody reengineered both the oil and the name to let folks know, hey, this is CANadianOilLow(erucic)Acid, abbreviated CANOLA.  My advice is to read both sides of the argument and shop carefully. A good organic canola oil is great in recipes where olive oil is just wrong.  Or you can pay more for something else if it makes you feel better.