A dinner I will always remember…

I now have thousands of digital photos. I have selected the “best” of them to post on my Flickr site or use as a screen saver but most of them remain poorly catalogued on my computer’s hard drive.

Every once in a while I get searching for one that I remember from years past and in the process end up scanning others that bring back memories.

I took this photo in 2001 in the kitchen of my ageing parents when I went for dinner one autumn evening not too long before they moved from their house into a senior’s apartment.  My mom was in the mid-stages of Alzheimer’s disease and my Dad’s vision was failing badly.  They actually helped each other. Mom could read signs and labels and mail and Dad could then process information in a way that my Mom could not.  Symbiosis.after dinner drinks

Before dinner, Dad offered me a glass of wine.  He asked if I would like white or red and I responded that I would prefer red. He went over to the kitchen counter and fiddled for a few minutes with bottles and glasses, soon returning to me with an absolutely empty wine glass.  He looked at it and then said ” I guess I poured you white by mistake”.  Judging what you are pouring and into what are a challenge when you are visually handicapped.

Dad then headed out to the back yard with matches and some barbecue lighter fluid to start the barbecue. I offered to help but he discouraged me, saying he could do just fine himself. I crossed my fingers that the poof as the barbecue flamed up would not cause third degree burns.  Five minutes passed and no charred father returned so that, apparently, went OK. The meat did not fare as well.

About 20 minutes later Dad arrived back into the kitchen with three little black nuggets that were the remains of the M&M’s filet mignon he had “cooked”.  Mom, in the meantime, had burned some frozen peas and carrots onto the bottom of a saucepan on the kitchen stove and was, for the third time, reheating buns in the microwave.

The meal was … memorable.

Mom was disgusted with the quality of the meat and was convinced they should take the rest of the package back to the store for a refund.   I discouraged that, knowing that the flames shooting up from the barbecue with a visually impaired cook was more the problem.

After dinner – there would certainly be dessert and tea – Dad asked if I would like some Port. I declined but he got out a bottle and poured a glass for himself as Mom looked on. He had a bit of trouble knowing when the glass was full. Then there was the problem of picking this overflowing glass up with a hand that has a bit of tremor.  As you can see, he found a solution.

My parents both enjoyed a great sense of humour. We all ended up laughing, along with  Betty Boop and Jean Chretien who are looking back from the fridge door.

Mom has since passed away. Her Alzheimer’s disease gradually robbed her of all recollection and significant interaction. A sad decline for someone who was very social. Here is another blog page I wrote about Mom last fall. http://wp.me/p2wvIq-i7

Dad has become more handicapped with his vision but still goes strong at 93. Earlier this year he upgraded to a faster internet connection so he could join “the Facebook”.  This is proving to be a challenge, though, as he has problems seeing posts and navigating on his 25x expanded desktop screen where the mouse arrow is often nowhere to be found.

In August, he is heading to the East Coast with my daughter and two of his great-grandchildren for a beach holiday.  And likely a gin and tonic or two.  More memories in the making, no doubt.

A taste of Migori, Kenya

imageI met Edward Kabaka a couple of years ago and we have worked together on several projects in the Migori region of Kenya. On the weekend, Edward came to pick me up and we went to Migori where I was able to visit three CanAssist project partner groups.

After dinner entertainment

After dinner entertainment

On Monday, Edward invited me to his home for dinner and his wife prepared a huge spread of food. After dinner the three youngest girls daughters and some of their neighbour friends sang and danced and recited poems for me. I thought how similar kids are all around the world, remembering my own putting on “shows” after dinner and thinking of my granddaughter, Emma, twirling around and showing me ballet moves.

I took the opportunity to get a photo of the food before we dug in. I am often asked what i eat while in Kenya. This meal had many of the common staple foods that i am offered here, although not usually all together as in this spread. In addition to rice and beans which were on another table we were served chapati, chips, tilapia, sukuma wiki (shredded kale), tomatoes and onion, indigenous greens, bananas and papaya.

The other common staple for Kenyans which we did not have this night is uglali, a corn meal boiled doughy mixture that replaces our bread and is usually served in a huge mound. In addition to being a filling basis for a meal, uglali often acts as an edible utensil. The dough is rolled in one hand, a thumbprint cavity is made in the ball and used to scoop up other foods. It all pops into the mouth.

I came away stuffed with food and friendship and lots of smiles.