I Made My 91 year old Aunt Cry.

I can just imagine her back at her upscale retirement home telling anyone who can hear, ” …..and she yelled at me and humiliated me in front of every one!”

Last Sunday we had a family get-together which included my Aunt Doreen, my mother’s sister. Aunt Do didn’t have children so we are her only family. She is much closer to my sister who has children and grandchildren. They would visit her in Florida and had a place for her to stay when she spent her summers in Canada in order to keep her old-age pension and free health care. I, on the other hand, lived with a curmudgeon in a place no one would want to stay in. I would only see her when she stayed at my mom’s in a trailer she and my uncle used in the summer.

She was OK then, a bit conceited but entertaining; she certainly didn’t live by the ‘normal’ standards. She loved to Flamingo dance and be the star in musicals they would put on every year in Florida. And she loved to show endless photos of herself in the shows. Then she would perform the numbers she did in the shows. I got a little tired of her showing off; my mom had multiple sclerosis and spent her last decade mostly in bed. I used to feel a little disgusted when Aunt Do showed off her dancing in front of my mom.

My Uncle Don was a really nice guy who tempered Aunt Do when she got out of hand. After he died we realized how much he had ‘tempered’ her.  He did housework in their very tiny homes and did the dishes after dinner. She pretty much did whatever she wanted and cooked. His death was a great loss to her. He really was “her better half”. She became more outspoken, more bitter and meaner. She can’t seem to accept that old age happens and life can’t be perfect even though she has as good as you can get for 91. She still has her own apartment in a wonderful retirement complex; buses to take them anywhere and everywhere and she doesn’t have to worry about money at all.

So there she was on Sunday. Her hearing aid batteries were dead but it’s everyone’s fault that they don’t speak up. You literally have to go over to her good ear and yell.  She’s getting a little ticked-off because conversations are going on around her but she can’t hear.

After desserts, (I made strawberries and whipped cream and my niece made a pie) the big kids took the little kids to put on their bathing suits so they could run in the sprinklers. There was just me, my sister and my aunt. Jennifer and I were talking when I saw Aunt Do get up and take a spoon of whipped cream out of the big bowl, then, in horror, watched her take the spoon back down and take another mouthful. I couldn’t help but blurt out, “Aunt Do, don’t do that! it’s very unsanitary!”   (I wanted to take that whipped cream back home!)

She looked confused at first. “What?”

(louder) “Don’t eat from the bowl, put some in your bowl if you want more”

“Everyone was doing that!” she said nastily.

“They’re putting it on their desserts, not eating it out of the bowl”


(louder) “They are putting it on their desserts, not into their mouths and back!”

“Don’t tell me what to do!” she commanded. That’s when I stopped talking. I used to get drawn in, but now I just clam up.

“Everyone was doing that!” She was really getting into a snit now. She got up from her chair (which is a struggle) and walked around in a circle, obviously very mad.  Then my niece came in the room and Aunt Do started to cry.

“What’s the matter Aunt Do?” she says with concern, putting her arm around her.

“I just don’t like being yelled at and humiliated in front of everyone!” Then she totally breaks down in tears, sobbing.

“What happened?”  my niece asked.  When I tried to tell her, Aunt Do cut me off…..  “Everyone was doing that!” she spat.

I could not muster up an apology, at first, but I knew I had to because my mom would want me to. So when they were leaving, she was seated in my nephew’s van, I went up and hugged her and said, “Sorry, I upset you, Aunt Do”

“I only like kind people” she whimpered. “Try to be kind”

I nodded and smiled a stiff, fake smile. I don’t ever think ‘I may never see her again’: I’m sure she will live to 100.



And you know what? I’M NOT SORRY! So there!


Daily Prompt; Wake up and go to bed!

Thank you for posting the article on Sleep Procrastination. Now I can put a name on my nightly battle with myself to go to bed. I didn’t know I was so normal!

First off; procrastination is my middle name. Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow. I do the things that are bothering me the very most, the things I have to do to keep myself healthy and financially safe but my main objective is to get to the couch and watch TV. I’m not a couch potato or really lazy but I love to end the day in my spot.

I used to be married so I had someone to say, “Wake up and go to bed!”  which he did several times every night before finally I went. Now I live alone so I just pass out and stay out.

One problem is that I hot flash more heavily at night. They start flaring up around 7:00/8:00 p.m. and gain in intensity towards midnight. There is not much use going to bed because I will wake up soaking wet within the hour. I take off my top and have ‘sweat’ towels to catch the dripping sweat. If they are bad I make a sound “whooh, whooh, whooh!” and dance around something like a chimpanzee. I especially like the little jig while holding the towel under, and bouncing my breasts. That’s when I think; “I’ll never be able to live with anyone else ever again.”  It would take too many years to ease them into this experience.

Around 10:00 I start falling asleep. If there is a show I really want to see at that time, I tape so I can safely fall asleep and pick it up the next day. But there are plenty of shows I can sleep through because they are so mediocre I don’t care what happens. Mostly cop shows. Whodunit? Who cares?

Jon Stewart: The Daily Show is the show I missed too much so I started taping it to watch during dinner the next day.  I wake up every once in a while in a hot flash and tell myself to go to bed but flop back down. I would get snippets of guests I wanted to see; bits of Stephen Colbert then wake up sometime during Conan.

My ‘absolutely have to’… rituals at night are setting up my coffee for the next morning and flossing and brushing my teeth. I have to do that. So that makes me flop down again. I have to do all that before I can go to bed? And if I forgot to take off make-up….. yuck! I can sleep on the couch with make-up on but not in my bed! Easier to flop back down.

The bottom line is; I don’t want to change this! This is one of the pleasures of aging. I do this because I CAN. My husband was a nag and a bully. He really hated to see me relaxing or reclining. Now I even take afternoon naps; this would’ve driven him to fury!

I don’t have to get up early; my shift is 10-3 (sometimes 1-6) and I wake up at 6:30 anyway. I figure with all that time sleeping on the couch I get in about two hours of sleep before I actually go to bed.

I have Sleep Procrastination but I certainly don’t have Sleep Deprivation! Going to sleep and waking up whenever you damn well want to is definitely one of the rewards of aging!


Daily Prompt; My Favourite Mistake

It’s not uncommon that a mistake in cooking can lead to a new discovery but my favourite mistake lead to an interest in cooking as an adolescent. It started out as an intentional ‘mistake’ meant as a joke on my parents. Looking back, it was a passive-aggressive attempt to punish them, funny only to me, but it back-fired and they were delighted; not the outcome I had in mind.

My mom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when I was about 14 years old. She struggled valiantly against it, keeping her job but when she got home she was very tired. So I ‘started’ dinner; peeling potatoes, getting things in the oven, etc.  We had meat loaf weekly and I was shown how to whip an egg, put in some crushed saltines, work it all through the ground beef and press it into a loaf pan.

One evening, early in my culinary career, we were eating the meat loaf when my mom said, “Gaagh, this is really bland. Why don’t you put a little something in it next time for flavour?”

I could hardly wait to make next week’s meat loaf. I had it all planned and could delight myself thinking about how funny it would be; their faces contorting ……..  OK, I was a creepy adolescent. I grew.

I put a little of everything we had in it; a dash of every spice and herb in our cupboard. Cinnamon, thyme, cream of tartar, every little container got a shake. Then to the fridge; relish, catsup, jam, HP sauce, weird chutneys used once. Everything I could find for a dollop or dash went into that meatloaf. I remember the anticipation when we sat down to eat and waiting for their first bite.

“Mmmm! This is delicious!” my mom exclaimed in total surprise!

My Dad then took his first bite…… an almost imperceptible nod…… it was good!

I didn’t believe it…… surely they were onto me and playing along. I took a bite and to my complete surprise it was the best meat loaf I had ever tasted.

I didn’t tell them until years later what I did. From that time on I became ‘A Good Cook’ and discovered that you can actually make yourself something delicious!



Missing Ethnic food

Today’s Daily Prompt asks If you could clone one element from another city you’ve visited — a building, a cultural institution, a common street food, etc. — and bring it back to your own hometown, what would it be?

If I could bring one thing here from a city it would be ‘ethinic’ food. Being a vegetarian and living in a rural/ beach area, I don’t get any good fast food. I can’t just buy myself something pre-made and delicious for dinner. I come home from work tired and hungry; I don’t feel like cooking but I sure feel like eating something delicious.

I worked at the Guelph Farmer’s Market for over 20 years. My husband worked at the Kitchener Farmers’ Market. Every week we came home with amazing food, bread and desserts along with fresh fruits and vegetables. And we could barter with honey for those foods. One jar of honey could buy a feast for both of us.

I’ll start with Lebanese, I miss the real thing so much. The fresh stuff, not that crap they call hummus sold in grocery stores. The real thing; chick peas and tahini loaded with fresh, raw garlic; olive oil oozing out of the lid. Baba Ganouj; roasted eggplant mashed and mixed with tahini, garlic and olive oil. So fresh and delicious; nothing like the bland paste sold under the same name commercially.

Tabouli made with lots of chopped parsley , tiny diced tomatoes and olives mixed into bulgur wheat, a tangy burst of fresh lemon juice and the ever present garlic and olive oil. Fresh pitas that smelled and tasted like bread not slabs of dough.  Rice with herbs rolled up in steamed grape leaves. Diced, potatoes cooked in lots of garlic,olive oil and loaded with cumin.  Oh God I miss that!

And that was just the Lebanese stall. We had freshly made samosas and pakoras.  We had Pad Thai booth who also sold a sweet coconut rice with mango that was the perfect breakfast when I finally got my booth set up. We had real sour dough breads that were so damn good, especially toasted the next day.

And bakeries galore! Fresh homemade pies, cookies, things filled with whipped cream……. oh my gosh…. those were the days……

The farmers markets in my area are small and outside, mostly just fruits and vegetables. We don’t have many ethic people around here. The closest city with that kind of farmer’s market is an hours drive away in London, (Ontario, Canada). The market is at the heart of downtown and the traffic is awful.

I used to be already at the market, making money and bartering. Now I would have to spend the money I make working in a grocery store and drive to the city….. nope, I can’t afford that and I hate driving to London, let alone going downtown.

One day the deli in our store had vegetarian spring rolls. I bought them; they were horrible; soggy and tasteless. I’m not going to even bother trying the samosas.

I miss good, vegetarian fast food!