Memory Issues or General Confusion?

Now that I’ve reached what could be considered the very top end of “middle age,” I have occasionally experienced memory problems.  Mind you, I’ve had memory problems before I even reached the bottom level of middle age.  Once, when I was just a young gal of 35, we had our brand new pastor and his wife come to our place for dinner.  I was honored to be hosting them, and I put baked beans in the oven that afternoon. 

                We were cooking out hamburgers (it was June) and it should have been a wonderful meal.  As it turned out, my memory was shorting out all over the place.  First of all, I forgot to add the appropriate liquid – including sauce – to the beans before putting them in the oven.  Then we got busy watching our children play, playing card games, and swimming and I forgot the beans entirely – until Matt starting grilling the hamburgers.

               That’s when I went in, turned off the oven, and carried out all the condiments, plates, buns, silverware, etc. for our picnic.  When the burgers were done, I went into the get the baked beans.  There may have actually been beans in that dish, who would know?  They were a solid brick of hardened, fossilized rock.  Matt couldn’t chisel out a portion with his spatula, a hammer, and a knife.  So…we just had burgers and cole slaw.

               It turned out our new pastor and his wife had a great sense of humor.  We decided that beans needed to be put in an atomic oven and baked at least three weeks before serving. We laughed hard and have been friends ever since – over 30 years now! 

               I was reminded of the baked bean fiasco last week, when I was creating a care package for an old friend who is in a rehab center.  She had asked for some particular items, including cheese sticks, pretzel rods, and puff popcorn.  I had added some books, magazines, and lotion to the tote bag.  Meanwhile, our friends (the pastor and his wife) were coming for dinner two days later, so while I was buying the care kit items, I purchased potatoes and a couple packages of cooked shrimp to grill.

               So that morning, I packed up all the items to go to the rehab center, reached into the fridge, pulled out the bag with the cheese sticks and tossed it on top.  Then I went on my merry way.

               You know where this is going, don’t you?

               About an hour after I delivered the tote bag, I received a text from my friend, thanking me for all the goodies and especially for the SHRIMP! 

               Heavens above.  When I returned home, I looked in the fridge and there in the meat keeper was the bag of cheese sticks.  What was I supposed to serve the next night?  Grilled cheese sticks??

               Back to the store I went, and bought some more shrimp.  Plus, now I have to return to the rehab center at some future point to deliver the requested cheese sticks. Maybe it really isn’t a memory loss, it’s just general confusion.

               That must explain my shopping trip when Matt had two teeth pulled.  He was supposed to eat soft foods for a day, maybe two.  So I bought him three packages of macaroni and cheese, six pints of ice cream, ten tubs of yogurt, three 4-packs of pudding, four individual mashed potatoes, and eight individual pots of jello.  That’s probably enough for one or two days, don’t you think?  I mean, it is if he and every other person in the county who had teeth pulled are coming to our house.

               Oh, well, if it weren’t for my confusion, I wouldn’t have so many adventures, would I?

Getting Old and Crotchety

There’s a bit of dialogue in an episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond” that I really enjoy.  Raymond (or maybe Debra) refers to Frank as “bald and gassy.”  To which a friend of Frank’s responds, “I knew him when he was just gassy.”

The other day, I referred to myself as “old and crotchety,” and my husband quickly responded, “I knew you when you were just crotchety.”  Of course, he was teasing, because I have never really been a grumpy person (well, okay, there’s an occasional burst of irritability now and again, but I’m only human).

 My remark was actually brought on by watching our pooch one morning.  He’s over 13 years old, and as a Labrador/Great Dane mix, he’s a big guy.  In the last couple of years, Forest has developed severe arthritis and his back legs are quite stiff.  This doesn’t prevent him from insisting on a daily walk and continuing to bring us toys to play, but it does create more difficulty in those pursuits. 

I was watching him as he came inside on a damp day.  We make him lay down so we can wipe off his feet before he goes onto our carpet and the poor old boy has such a hard time getting all the way down, and then getting back on his feet.  Then, he didn’t want to come over to get his pills.  We finally enticed him over near us and instead of snatching the pills out of the air (which he’s done for years, now), he would watch them as they bounced on the floor near him.  Then he’d look up at us, as if to say, “what, no bacon?” Then I have to go find a piece of cheese to hide them in and trick him into taking his pills.

Then he wouldn’t eat.  We tried adding a bit of hot dog, some cheese, and finally some cooked carrots.  These are all his favorites.  The food sat in the dish.  He didn’t appear upset, or ill, he simply didn’t want to eat that day.  (The next day, he gobbled food as if we starved him as a hobby!)  We never starve him of course, he’s just getting grumpy in his old age.

So, we were eating breakfast and watching him and I realized that I’m getting older, too.  And honestly, now that I’ve lived a few decades (plus a few more), I understand about getting crotchety. My body is telling me things I don’t want to hear, and the older I get, the less tolerance I have for “stuff.”

There are days my knees complain if I have to get up or down too many times.  I used to be able to garden all day and get five yards of mulch spread.  Now, after two hours, my body says, “hey, tomorrow’s another day.”

I used to devour food whenever I could.  Now, I find that I’m not always hungry for lunch, so I skip it.  And I don’t really notice missing the meal.  I’m not angry or upset, I’m simply not hungry.

I’m not wild about the incredible number of pills I have to take, either.  Granted, mine don’t – for the most part – taste like some kind of treat.  I just swallow the vitamins and minerals down with water.  But I have fantasized about just leaving them on the table.  If I didn’t think my joints would be even stiffer, and my muscles would cramp at night, and my doctor would grouse at me, I’d probably let them sit there, too.  Unless, of course, someone hid them in a piece of chocolate or cinnamon toast.  Then I could probably get them down.

I get that our dog is likely tired of all the stiffness in his joints, not to mention the confusion of life.  People telling you what to do all day long, making you work rather than playing a fun game, and refusing to take a walk just because it’s raining (or snowing).

Sometimes I’m weary of all the “noise,” too. Noise like people raving that it’s going to snow (it is April in Ohio, so it shouldn’t be such a surprise). Noise like people acting like they can’t wear a mask to prevent the spread of a deadly virus because it’s “hot.”  Noise like scam calls on our phones and incessant requests for money from bogus organizations.  So I guess I’m getting old and crotchety, too, just like our dog. 

Once you reach a certain age, getting grumpy just comes with the territory, I guess.  At least I have my daily walks and play time to look forward to!

Pills Can Be Hazardous to My Health

Anyone who knows me, knows that I do not take a lot of medication.  I’ve been blessed to not have many illnesses or chronic health conditions in my life which is a significant factor, but the other big factor is that I can’t take pills. I mean, obviously I can, but it’s not easy and certainly not a pretty sight.  For some reason, my throat closes up, I lose my breath, I gag…it’s pretty awful. Of course, as one ages, certain things do require attention.

               Over the years, I’ve added a fiber chewy to my daily regime.  This is such a blessing because they are little gummies and I can pretend they are candy! 

               So gummy fiber chews were an easy addition.  Then came the Vitamin D deficiency my doctor noted.  I was fearful at first, but those pills are ridiculously tiny.  So tiny, in fact, that it’s impossible to shake just one out of the bottle.  I usually get a handful and it takes many minutes to get them all back into the bottle, with just one left outside. Not only are they small, they’re slippery and they roll around on the counter and onto the floor – where they may be found at some future unspecified point.  But, easy to swallow, once you’ve finally gotten just one out of the bottle. 

               Then came the magnesium.  These are for my muscle issues and work very well.  They are small tablets, but not coated.  Five out of six days, I can swallow them without incident.  But on that 6th day, the edge hits the side or back of my throat and I gag a little.  Unpleasant, but doable.

               I was doing fine  until I found out that I needed to add glucosamine-chondroitin to my diet every day.  I cheerfully went out and bought a bottle, because anything that helps reduce my joint pain is a-ok by me.  Until I opened the bottle and discovered these “pills” are the size of my big toe! 

               My husband, my soul mate, and my chief supporter said things that really didn’t help, as he threw back his head and consumed three similarly sized vitamin pills himself.  First there was, “oh you can do it,” then he said, “just relax,” and added (my personal favorite), “it’s all in your head.”

               Maybe so, but there is no way I’m going to get that down without major trauma and possibly death.  So, I did the smart thing and cut it in half.  While I was doing this, my husband got very serious and said, “Honey, I think it’s psychosomatic.  Your throat is easily big enough for that pill.”

               Pah.  Shows what he knows!  It’s clearly esophageal-somatic.  I’m telling you, I can choke and gag on a milkshake or thick soup. I’ve been known to have my throat close up just by drinking water!  So I know this particular issue is all in my throat, and not my head.

               Now there are two halves of the immense pill on my napkin, just staring back at me.  Honestly, they are still bigger than the magnesium tablet.  I began to wonder if I should cut it in thirds, but too late.  I bravely grabbed the first half, relaxed as much as I could, and tossed it back.  It went down okay.  I tried the second one, and of course, it stuck a little in the back of my throat, one rough edge scraping the side.  But after several sips of water, it did go down.

               Tomorrow?  I’ll try cutting it in thirds.  And all I can say is, my knees better improve – a lot!

I’m Not a Dumb Dora

Dublin, Findlay, Worthington, Middletown, Lebanon, Grove City, Greenville, Hamilton, Midford, Loveland, Toldeo, Hudson, Powell, Delaware…what do these cities have in common?  DORA!

               And no, not the explorer of animated fame.  DORA stands for “Designated Outdoor Recreation Area.”  In Ohio, section 4301.82 of the Ohio Revised Code, makes it legal for municipalities to designate special areas for outdoor drinking.  Worthington, for example, approved this because some eateries in the downtown area were unable to offer “full service” outside, because fencing would limit the pedestrian traffic on sidewalks.  So, DORA allows more outdoor dining.  (Well, at least, more outdoor drinking.) Further, it allows for “large scale events” would be “less restrictive.” That’s because DORA allows for patrons of such events to circulate freely throughout these large scale events (the ones that we really shouldn’t be having right now).  So, there you have it.  The wonderful freedoms we enjoy so much.  We enjoy them so much that Worthington, along with the 14 other Ohio cities listed above – oh, and about 13 more than that –  have all approved DORA for their towns.

               Maybe you can already tell that I’m not a fan.  I mean, listen, I enjoy my drink as much as the next fellow.  In fact, give me a good glass of wine, or a little bourbon on ice, and I’m generally a happy camper.  I just don’t really need to take that glass of wine or bourbon and wander around the downtown area, or sit at a picnic table (unless it’s the one on my patio), or use it to enjoy a “large scale event.” Honestly, for most large scale events –once I feel safe again at them (which at this point will be sometime in 2025) – I need both hands free.  What I don’t need is a sloshy drink in one hand while I get a buzz to enjoy the pumpkins, or ice cream, or strawberries.

               But that’s me.  Apparently, many are excited by DORA.  What fun!  Now we can have “full service” dining by walking around with a beer.  We can enjoy the outdoors – motorcycles roaring by, cars without mufflers, kids on skateboards – you know, all the fun stuff of a municipality – while sipping our scotch. Hooray! Oh, and there’s more.  In some places, businesses can put up a decal of some sort to let us know we can take our drink in and shop.  If those businesses are open, of course, when I’m choosing to dine (i.e. shop and drink). 

                Now I can have the exciting adventure of taking my DORA cup into a business with the decal indicating they are not participating so that some poor schmuck making minimum wage can politely ask me to leave.  There’s more!  Because I’m drinking, I won’t be wearing my mask.  Or, I’ll be wearing it as a chin guard, so they can also politely ask me to wear my mask in their store.  This will give me permission to call them names, swear at them, and all manner of amusements. 

               DORA sounds like something I’m really going to love.  I can see why so many cities think it’s good for “business.” There’s just nothing like expanding freedoms, especially when it involves alcohol.  Because heaven knows that when we drink, we make our best decisions and behave the most appropriately.

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