Saturday, October 15, 2011

Better Homes?

(Photo Credit: Moose, 10/8/11, in the Land of the Moosians.)

Apologies for the prolonged radio silence, kids. It's been a ridiculously busy week in Roxie's World. It's also been a stressful, emotionally draining week for Moose in particular. She spent last weekend in her native state, working with her three siblings to get the Mother of the Moosians ready to transition from independent living in Indiana to assisted living in Michigan, close to the Little Sister of the Moosians. MOTM turned 80 this summer and outfoxed lung cancer earlier this year, but she has short-term memory impairments that make it hard for her to remember little things like when the movers are coming and bigger things like, oh, participating in the decision to move to Michigan.

We'll pause briefly while you apply your considerable brain power to imagining some of what we are not saying here about time, change, the delicate dance of family relationships, the terror in the eyes of someone increasingly trapped in an archipelago of disconnected moments. When are they coming? Who will take me? Where is my medicine? Would you like that necklace? Why are you packing the silver away? When are they coming? Who will take me . . . ?

Perhaps a longer pause is in order. My typist is weary. Her heart is full. In her head, she hears the aching tenderness of Chris Colfer's cover of "I Want to Hold Your Hand," which Glee's Kurt sang last season when his father, his only surviving parent, had a heart attack.

When are they coming?

The cookbook in the photo above transitioned, too, making its way from a shelf in MOTM's kitchen to one in Roxie's World. This was the cookbook of Moose's childhood, the battered tome that figured into a 2009 post on the culinary history of the Moms and the United States. A close look at the book's helpful guide to meal planning perhaps explains why Moose found it necessary to break up with potatoes as part of her recent Lifestyle Adjustment Program. You'll notice there ain't a lot of whole-grain variety in the list of starchy foods in that third column in from the left:

Moose has agreed to take on the role of family archivist, because that is what English profs and history geeks do in their families, being useless when it comes to things like managing finances and figuring out which asthma inhalers are full and which are empty. She came home with several recipe boxes and books, including one from her maternal grandmother that goes back to at least 1937. She also is getting custody of file boxes full of family photos, letters, and documents. She already has her parents' college yearbooks, her grandmother's high school diploma, and her father's certificate of baptism. Still to come are the scrapbooks she loved to look at as a child, mostly because they included the earliest photographs of her own tiny self, cradled in the fleshy arms of that same grandmother who graduated from high school in 1923 for "intellectual attainments and correct deportment."

Having spent part of the winter of 2010 digitizing me after my untimely demise, Moose now seems on track to digitize the entire famille Moosianne. Assuming she isn't overcome by the dust or doesn't end up lost in a labyrinth of words, images, and memories. Which is, you know, pretty likely. Stay tuned.

When are they coming? When are they coming? Soon, Mama, soon, and I promise it will be all right. I know it's scary, but we've taken care of everything. Before you know it, you'll be settled into the new place, and everything will be fine.

When . . . ?


  1. Candy Man4:19 PM EDT

    Dear Roxie, maybe somehow in your virtual state of being you can help facilitate a big ole virtual hug from me to your typist from half-way around the world? Thanks. Much appreciated. I love you, Moose! xo

  2. hugs. sym-pathy -- a community of feeling, and com-passion -- to suffer with, experience with. roxie, moose and goose, all have extended their community of feeling to me, and experienced much with me, and I offer my own arms to hug and know.

  3. Your virtual hug has been transmitted and received, Candy Man, with deep appreciation. I assume you felt the one that was sent back to you, far away as you happen to be at this moment.

    And thank you, Aunt Katie, for an actual hug at a timely moment earlier this week. We are richer for having you in our community of feeling. <3

  4. My sympathies. I dread when that decision (or similar ones) comes for my family.

  5. Here's to Moose's mama, and to a successful and relatively stress-free transition to life in Michigan. I've seen my parents do this for three different parents in the past few years, and with my aunt and uncle earlier this year, so I know how difficult these things can be (from a distance, though.)

    Love those old cookbooks. Hang onto this one. You never know when you'll need a recipe for a Sunshine Salad mold again! And good luck with the other family archival work. I find that work very diffiult--I don't shed archival-quality tears, unfortunately, and they just mess everything up.

  6. I remember the ever-looping question cycle -- so hard on the interlocutor(s), and so revelatory of the questioner's anxieties -- all too well. In fact, reading about it it evokes a bit of reminiscent anxiety in me even now, more than twenty years after the questioner's death. My sympathies to all involved.

    As for the cookbooks, mine is a Joy of Cooking family, with occasional forays into Fannie Farmer and Better Homes, and I have duplicates and even triplicates of several editions. But really, when one copy belonged to one grandmother, and another belonged to another (she of the endlessly-cycling questions in her last decade or so, and of many wonderful culinary creations in the 7 decades before that), and the third belonged to your (deceased) mother, what do you do, especially when all have notes reflective of the former owners' personalities, and you are of an archival turn?

    For whatever it's worth, my own otherwise fairly conventional mother was, in the 1960s and early 1970s, very much into whole grains. We had brown rice and graham crackers and whole wheat bread and birthday cakes made with 1/2 whole wheat flour (before there was whole wheat cake flour). I cook a good deal with whole grains myself, so I guess it stuck (or recurred).

  7. I remember the day my Mother told me that she had been bothered by this insect flying around her head all day "trying to give me information."

    It is a sobering moment in a daughter's life. You know my heartfelt thoughts and friendship are with you.

  8. Thanks, all, for kind thoughts and eloquent comments. The Mother of the Moosians seems to be settling in to her new abode, but it's a shifting ground we stand upon these days. We will just have to see how it goes.

    Re. archival cookbooks: Moose actually left her mother's Joy of Cooking behind because it wasn't heavily annotated and didn't figure much into the family's culinary history. Still, she's been regretting that decision a little and may see if she can bring the big book back to Roxie's World after all. She did some re-arranging of the pantry and probably has room on the shelf for one more copy of Joy, right? Right?

  9. See you tomorrow and will buy you a drink.


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