We lost Gramma Lola last December and I’ve been wanting to write this story ever since.  Gramma Lola wasn’t my grandmother or my kids’ grandmother, but all the children called her, “Gramma Lola.”  She lived in the retirement community that my mom lives in and was a good, close friend of mom’s despite their age difference.  They had Sunday dinners together and shared groceries and stories and cooking and a lot of other things.  Every visit of Mom’s grandkids lead to a walk to Gramma Lola’s where they’d get hugs, cookies and lots of Gramma Lola love. 

When Mom got sick and her house burned down, Gramma Lola, being the doer and controller that she was, had to take over something.  And me, being the doer and controller that I am, couldn’t give her the important things like holding the contractors and surgeons to their agreements, so I gave Gramma Lola the all-important task of shelving paper.

We were readying for major surgery and the house was readying for final touches, so it was a good compromise when Gramma Lola brought it to me at 4:15 on a Thursday afternoon via a call to my cell phone (that I ignored because I was at work) and then a call to my work phone (that I answered because I was at work).  “Debbie,” she said, sternly, “Your mother needs shelving paper.  Who is doing that?”

When I was growing up my mom worried about things like carpet fringe and shelving paper, but I was pretty sure that at this point she could give a flying hoot about shelving paper while facing the end of her four months of chemotherapy and major surgery to remove over half a lung and a bunch of ribs.  Pretty sure.  But not positive.

“Let me check with Mom to see.” I responded to Gramma Lola.

Text to Mom: “Do you care about shelving paper?  Lola wants to know.”
Text from Mom: “I could give a flying hoot about shelving paper.”
Text to Mom: “Good to know.”

I called Lola back.  “Mom doesn’t care about shelving paper.”  I then received a lecture about how she already knew mom didn’t care because she asked her but that she should care because it has to be in before her dishes are moved back in and that is happening in just a few weeks and the shelving paper has to be measured for and then purchased and then put in and who is going to do all of that?

“Okay.  I didn’t realize that it was important to have.  Could you take care of this for us. I’ll pay for it if you tell me how much.” 

The shit was on.  Lola used her key (after calling all my numbers and emailing me to tell me she was doing so) and measured the cabinets.  She then went to several stores (calling all my numbers and emailing me to tell me results) and priced out options. 

Shelving paper.  Options.

Does Mom want flowers, checks, designs, pictures?  Does Mom want sticky-back, tack, glue? 

All this on voice mails on all my numbers and emails.  When I didn’t respond in an hour (because... Shelving Paper.  Options...), she then called my brother for his decision since I clearly couldn’t be trusted.  She left him a voice mail and he then called me to tell me that he can’t be bothered with shelving paper options while starting a new job.  Could I please get Gramma Lola under control?

Mom was working on finding care for her cat while she went into the hospital and all the other things you prepare for when facing major surgery.  One thing she wasn’t preparing for was shelving paper.  I asked her anyway, in case she really did have a preference. 

Do you want flowers, checks, designs, pictures?  Do you want sticky-back, tack, glue?

I DON’T GIVE A FLYING HOOT ABOUT SHELVING PAPER. (Only she didn’t say hoot)

Agreed.  I called Gramma Lola and told her to put the shelving paper on hold until we were ready for that level of decision.

And then mom had surgery.  The second night, Gramma Lola’s daughter drove her to the hospital to visit Mom. Gramma Lola sat in a chair, heard how mom was (still a bit loopy and tired and clearly hurting) and then asked if mom had decided on shelving paper.  Her daughter interrupted, “Mom, now is not the time to talk about shelving paper.”

Despite my elation at having the shelving paper quandary cut off by someone not me, poor Gramma Lola looked so deflated that I second-guessed myself and Mom felt the same.  After they left, Mom said, “Maybe we should give her something else to be in charge of.” I agreed. We knew that Mom would need a walker until she was stronger and the retirement community collected these kinds of items like my children collected Happy Meal toys in the back of the car.  There was apparently a shed of them.  “See if she can check The Shed for a walker for me.”  Good idea.

I emailed Lola this request from my phone that night and then the horror fest really began.

The next day, I got a message from Gramma Lola.  “I chose a few walkers for your mom. I put them on the porch.”

Every morning, I’d arrive at the hospital at 8am and I’d leave at 8pm.  I was staying at Mom’s half-way renovated home with no hot water and no furniture other than a bed that we’d had delivered.  There were no lamps, as they were still in storage until the painting was complete.  I’d come home to darkness and leave in darkness.  The key on the back door didn’t work, so I had to walk around to the front porch in the dark to unlock the door to get in.

That night I tripped over 42 walkers while stumbling in the dark to the front door.  In the time it took to move them all (in the dark) so that I could get in and turn on the porch light, I already had received five voice mail messages from Lola. 

“I saw your car in the driveway.  Did you see the walkers?” 

“I didn’t hear from you.  Making sure you saw the walkers.” 

“The walkers are on the front porch.” 

“There are different sized walkers on the front porch.” 

“You need to choose a walker.  They are on the porch.”

I walked in, turned on the kitchen light, and called Lola back.  “I see the walkers.  Thank you.”

“Did you choose one?” She asked.

With my hand holding the phone, I went to the front door, opened it, dragged the closest walker through the opening.  “Yep.  Picked out the perfect one.”  I was so proud that this was over.

“Now you have to put the balls on.”

What?  I was exhausted.  I was physically and emotionally so done with the day that I was clearly hallucinating. 

“Are you there?  I left tennis balls on the porch and you need to cut them and put them on.”  My continued silence of confusion confused her.  “The balls.  For the feet of the walker.  Otherwise she will scratch the floor.”  She said this all slowly for me, as it was obvious that I was amazingly stupid and confused and knew nothing at all about walkers.  Or balls.

I thanked her for the walkers, the ball instructions, and for her promise of removing the remaining unchosen the next day.  Then I fell into bed without dinner in a fit of exhaustion.  I awoke at 6:30 the next morning and set off for the hospital.

Mom at this point was in and out of ICU and cardiac care with her prognosis, and room, changing from minute to minute.  I spent my days chasing down help, medicine and food for Mom, while also working my full time job from the hospital. And listening to Lola’s messages.

“The balls are still on the porch.”

“You said you would cut the balls and put them on the walker.”

“If you don’t put the balls on the walker, the floors will get scratched.”

“The floors are brand new from the rebuild after the fire.  Your mom won’t want them scratched.”

“It’s after lunch and then balls are still on the porch.”

“It’s dinner time and the balls are still on the porch.”

“I’m going to bed, but I drove over and saw your car pull in.  The balls are on the porch.”

“It’s 7:30 in the morning and your car’s gone, but the balls are still on the porch.”

This went on for a few days with me not answering.  She then switched to email where she included me, my brother, and my mom, so I had to answer.  “I will have Marc take care of the balls when he comes this weekend,” I said, thinking I was ending this discussion.

This quieted her until the weekend when Marc came.  I was at the hospital, but Marc brought the kids over to be there when PG&E came to hook up the water heater. Lola came over to supervise the Great Ball Project of 2014. Marc failed miserably, not having the proper tools with him.  With a sigh, Lola took the project back over and assigned it to the next door neighbor, Ray (which is a story for another time.  Possibly titled, “The Great Mail Crime of 2014.”).

The next message from Gramma Lola was directed to all of us at 10pm on Sunday night.  “Ray has put the balls on the walker.”

At 5am, Mom, who had been stoically quiet, weak and phone-free for her entire hospital stay, texted me for the first time since surgery.  “Thank God Lola’s balls are done.”

And that is the story of how I knew my mom was going to be just fine.
  • The slow walk I do to miss elevators when someone else gets there first.
  • The inside happy dance I do when I remember I don’t have to pay the bridge toll to a toll-taker any longer because I have the machine.
  • When I’m super happy the friend I made plans with is okay staying home, drinking wine and talking instead of going out to mingle.
  • When someone knocks on my door, you can find me hiding upstairs in my closet.
  • That time the car rental place only had a convertible for me and even though the weather was perfect, I never put the top down because I was afraid it would invite eye contact and conversation.
  • Shoe shopping with my daughter: Momma can we just go to the kind of shoe place where they are all in boxes?  I don’t want to talk to people who ask for my size.  Yes, Mini-Me.  Yes, we can.

My Facebook “On This Day” thing came up with this today:

“Today's soccer game features Robot Will (talking and running like a robot) and Stopping in the Middle of a Big Play to Scream ‘I love you Momma!’ Will. Lovely.”

While both things are cute, it took me back to Ye ‘Ol Soccer Days of Yore where I’m sure I earned the title of Worst Soccer Mom Ever. The days when I had to stand in line on the only rainy Saturday of all summer (outside) for 5 hours and 6 minutes to spend $420.00 to get my kid on a team. The other moms wanted to bond and discuss play dates, preschool and probably purgatory, but I just wanted to go home. It was too peopley for a Saturday morning for me.

I then had to buy him or her a uniform that doesn’t fit now, but he will grow into— in 5 weeks whereby it will fit for one game and then be too small (until then I may or may not have purchased a few rolls of duct tape). At the first practice, the kids would chose their team name. Something like “The Pirates,” “The Lightening Rods,” or “The Flower and Nose Pickers.” The last one was my suggestion which was the most obviously fitting, but vetoed each and every fucking year. Then a parent would be forced to volunteer to collect money for the team flag. $15-25 each family to have their team name and individual names stitched onto a flag by a local seamstress. I never did this, which is great for all since I could never remember any kids’ names. They were always given a name by me at the first meeting and then they were always that. Shy Kid. Loud Kid. Kid Who Says “Sit” But It Sounds Like “Shit” and, of course, Robot Will. Near as I can tell, the only use for the flag was to sit on the sidelines during the games so that the kids knew where the Team Snacks were located at halftime.

Speaking of team snacks, every week, a different parent was responsible for bringing the snack. For my week, I brought cut up orange slices, Oreo cookies in little cute individual packets and apple juice in boxes. The kids were then all gluten-free vegans who didn't eat processed foods or sugar or oranges that weren’t certified organic (that day.) And also? Allergic to air. The one kid who could partake (mine) wanted to know where the ice was for his 16 juice boxes.

Here are some examples of what the other moms brought on their week’s. Keep in mind Pinterest did not exist and neither did those Cricket machines that cut out fancy letters. These were Super Soccer Moms compared to me, “Super Sucky Soccer Mom.”

·         Homemade ice cream in the kind of machine you churn so it was actually Fun Ice Cream served in little cups with the little wooden spoons that all the kids loved.

·         Rented a movie theater type popcorn maker AND a generator to power it. They had individual decorated popcorn cups for each kid bedazzled with their name and shirt number.

·         *Individually wrapped hot dogs on a carrying cart like you see at the baseball games.

·         *Personalized big environmentally-friendly water bottles with the team name, kid name, and shirt number. Filled with small individually wrapped healthy treats.

·         *Gluten-free range organic pizza delivered to the field at exactly the right moment.

Let me refresh your memory… Orange. Slices. Oreos. Juice. Box. Just let that shit sink in.

At the end of the year party, they tried to give even my kids a trophy. The closest either of my kids EVER got to a goal was when: A) Signa hung on the goal like it was a swing set; b)Will made a goal in the wrong goal after they switched sides at half time. WTF?!? Like it isn’t hard enough to keep track, they have to confuse me at each game? It’s not my kid’s fault that his mom couldn’t keep up and told him to, “KICK IT! KICK IT IN THE GOAL, ROBOT WILL!”

A trophy? Really, soccer people. Really? A trophy for finding all the four leaf clovers (that had three leaves…). A trophy for collecting lady bugs and yellow flowers? No. Just no. They weren’t most improved. They weren’t even trying. I think those trophies really should have gone to the Super Soccer Moms with the tiny participation one for me for showing up on my day off from people-ing to sort of people.

Yay, me. Now my kids do karate and when they test, it’s a private event that I don’t “get to” attend. Yay, me.
Facebook keeps telling me to look at these underpants.  They are underpants for periods.  Your algorithms are fucked up, Facebook.

First of all, I don’t have periods.  I graduated, Mother Fucker. By way of the Mirena, I graduated, never to look back.  Ever.

Second of all, wtf?!?  That is disgusting.  Do you even know how much I used to bleed?  No, you don’t, stupid Thinx (which, by the way, is dumb, because when I was bleeding, I certainly wasn’t able to Thinx, what with all the blood loss and horror.)

Dear Thinx, Think a tampon and 2 pads.  In just one hour. So fuck you and your period underpants.  I’m so not sitting in that shit.  And from your website:

SOUND GROSS?

Well, every pair of THINX has a top layer that wicks all liquid into the über thin absorption layer right beneath it, so that you feel super dry. This way, you can wear 'em all day long (i.e., no, you don't have to change them during the day, no, they don't feel like diapers, and no, it's not like sitting in your own blood). Boom.

“Boom” your fucking ass.  Fuck you.  Seriously.  Fuck you.  No damn way this would have worked for me.  Remember the Diva Cup fiasco?  [read this with birds chirping and a calming ocean breeze in the back ground] “Many years ago, my mother had a vision. She dreamed of a healthy and eco-friendly feminine hygiene product that would change the lives of women everywhere. Today that dream has become a reality and is empowering women around the world to challenge the menstrual status quo as they discover what it truly means to be a Diva!” 

That God Damned cup runneth over, Asshole.  Again, wads of blood, literally streaming, flowing and showering out of my vagina, into the cup and out to the world at large.  One clot alone would fill the cup leaving it to shrug and say, “Sorry, guys, I’m totally full,” to all the rest of the blood for the day.  So how do you think dainty underwear with an “uber thin absorption layer” would fair with ol’ Debbie’s Niagra Falls of menstruations?  Exactly.

So please, Facebook.  Fix your algorithms and send me the Positive Thoughts of the Day™ ads, as I clearly need and deserve.  You won’t be sorry.  Much.

And Prince


He got weird the last few decades.  I didn’t listen any more. I didn’t consider myself a Prince fan anymore. But listening to the Purple Rain soundtrack just now was devastating.

I don’t cry.  Ever.  I just don’t.  I guess I consider it a weakness or whatever.  Must have heard that at one time or another. So even with all things ending and life so so hard, I just keep doing what needs to be done and make it all work.  I don’t cry over it.  Waste of time and energy. 

My therapist hates me.  She says this is awful and horrible and not normal.  But why waste time crying when you have so little time to do what you need to and to be happy?  You need to work and make your children happy and your life happy.  You need to smile and be truly happy, because what’s the point in doing anything else?

But my dad died.  David Bowie died.  And Prince died.  Died.  I can’t see them any more.  I can’t yell at them for getting weird so that I can’t be a fan anymore.  They are just gone.  Assholes denying me that final tirade.  

Typical.

Purple Rain was just a movie. Likely not even that great, but I haven’t watched it in years to see if it holds up. But it was great then.

Like David Bowie, this movie/soundtrack (can you differentiate the two?) spanned genres. 
Everyone saw it and listened to it.  It was a Big Deal.  And the music was not punk, but still “okay” for punks to listen to-- we didn’t get in trouble for being off-punk for Prince.

In fact, the soundtrack played at the Varsity for the next few years in the café where we scrounged change to afford cafe mochas.  I remember Chuck screaming at me with the lyrics, “I never wanted to be your weekend lover,” and then him quickly becoming my weekend lover. I remember the entire soundtrack. Every.  Single.  Word.

And every word means the world to me. 

And he’s gone. Forever. My Purple Rain is over. And my first thought?  Debbie Jones.  I think we ALL thought of her first.  That’s how important Prince was. We worried about One of Our Own when he passed.

I remember going to First Avenue in Minneapolis every first few visits to Minnesota.  Just in case I got to see him.  Just so I could know in my heart that I saw him.  I remember knowing every word so well that when I revisited the soundtrack just now, even through my TEARS (yes, tears) I remembered. Every. Single. Word.  And the song that came next (see my DavidBowie rant).

And I remember thinking back then at the ripe old age of 17 that life was hard.  That the lyrics of Purple Rain were sad and appropriate and maybe I should learn to cry.  Yet, now, 30 years later, I still ask what is the point?  No one cares when you cry and nothing changes.  Isn’t it best to shake it off and be happy and do what you need to do to get to the point where you don’t feel like crying?

All while listing to Prince and the Purple Rain soundtrack and crying my eyes out.  Life comes full circle.


And now it’s time to move on. Because we are among the Beautiful Ones.

Changes

https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-owNoi4fKMDQ/Vrk_SkzQk1I/AAAAAAAABaM/6lEVXgQt4qo/s1600/bowie.jpg
Planet Earth is blue
And there's nothing I can do.
~Space Oddity, David Bowie

Life is full of death.  I think when we are very young, it's actually more normal.  We accept death with a shrug and a request for more juice.  I remember when Will's Aunt Ginger died.  He was matter of fact about it.  We'd be going somewhere and he'd announce that Aunt Gin won't be there BECAUSE SHE DIED.  And when my dad passed away, he announced, “You don’t have a dad anymore BECAUSE HE DIED.”  It sounded harsh and almost mean to my ears, but to a young child it was matter of fact; she really won't be there because she really is dead and I really didn’t have a dad anymore because he really did die.

Sadly, we’ve experienced more death this year.  This year brought the death of one phenomenal man, two spectacularly beautiful women, and one David Bowie.  There were others that passed away as well, of course, and some I’m sure just as important, but to me, Monty, my two ladies and David Bowie were those that I did not want to do without. 

Saw you watching from the stairs
Your'e everyone who ever cared.
~John, I'm Only Dancing, David Bowie

When my father remarried, my family hit a double jackpot: Molly to be a friend, confidant, step-mom, and grandmother; and her mother, Mary Beth, to be an inspiration, treasure, and great grandmother.  Mary Beth sent a book when I had Signa, over 13 years ago. The book wasn’t a children’s book, but it was.  The CD wasn’t a children’s CD, but it was.  It was about living beautifully and that is what Mary Beth did.  It is called, “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack (lyrics below) and she did for 93 years with a smile that was contagious.  She was there for Molly and me when my dad died and she was there with her unbelievable strength and wisdom ever after.  Here is her obituary and all I can really add to it is that she is very missed by the Mascot family, who loved her very much.

As we get older it gets more difficult.  We see the sad that death leaves behind in others.  We see the difficult lives that exist with the absences death creates.  The children without the mom; the mom without the children.  They now have to exist separately and they don't know how because they were defined by those relationships.  It’s been almost a year that I’ve watched Alison be without Monty.  It’s a hard thing to see and not be able to do a damned thing about.  Last February, a beautiful strong family lost their father and husband. Monty was like a brother in-law to me. I loved watching him grow up and I loved trying to follow in his and Alison's footsteps in raising our children. And I loved him. His loud booming voice that I once heard from down the street of our house. His smile and joyous greeting. He's the only person I've ever known who, with his big grin greeting of, "Hey, Deb!" could make me feel like a million dollars. His hand talking and explanations growing in volume and intensity with every word. I feel like the luckiest person to have known him for almost 30 years. He will be in our hearts and our memories until the end of time. He was THAT important.

I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
~Changes, David Bowie

In December, we lost our beloved Louise Mariani.  She shared the last few years of her life with us and for that I’ll always be grateful.  I found her when researching the Mariani family of my childhood and she fast became part of the Conner-Mascot family.  We were lucky to be able to celebrate her 100th birthday and 101st birthdays with her, singing and laughing the whole way.  I think one of my favorite stories of Louise will be my last conversation with her.  “Well, Debbie.  Today they brought me a wheelchair.  I just keep going. Next thing you know, they’ll just carry my head around on a platter.” 

As you age even further, you see not only the absences left behind but also your own mortality.  Someday that will be me and what things will I have left undone?  What will I leave behind? Will I have mattered?

Ziggy played guitar.
~Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie

This is where David Bowie's death is a great lesson to us adults.  He can't be dead.  My kids know David Bowie, but I don't know if they really knew he was still alive until he died.  He was like Beethoven and the Beatles to them.  Always there, always good, and always still going.  And his death actually CAN'T stop that.  David Bowie, like the Beatles and Ramones and even Beethoven, are still there on the playlists.  They are on the radio, on Pandora stations, and on TV, and in commercials.  They are still there.  And always will be.  Just like dancing will make me think of Mary Beth and laughing will make me think of Louise and Alison will make me think of Monty and tape players hanging from car ashtrays will make me think of David Bowie.

Wham bam thank you Ma'am!
~Suffragette City, David Bowie

A common theme throughout my teen years was whatever crappy tape player I had hanging from the ashtray of whatever crappy car I had.  I would put in a tape and play it over and over again for days, weeks, months.  The other tapes would be in the car somewhere, but it was easier to just leave one in and keep it going.  I would play the same one over and over and over again.  So much so that even today, 30 years later, I can still hear the beginning of the next song when the song before is ending.

Loves to be loved,
loves to be loved
~The Jean Genie, David Bowie

David Bowie's ChangesOne was one of these tapes.  I actually had a store-bought pre-recorded tape of this.  I don't know where I got it, but likely from Tower, as that is where all music came from those days.  Or maybe just somewhere in Hally’s room.  Anyway, it would play over and over in my car-- the giant yellow beast or the white Toyota or the light blue Pinto-- one of those or all of them.  We played it over and over, just hitting Eject and flipping the tape endlessly.

In the year of the scavenger,
the season of the bitch
~Diamond Dogs, David Bowie

I remember that David Bowie could be played in my car no matter who was piled inside.  My rock 'n' roll friends, my mod friends, my punk friends, my whoever they wanted to be that week friends-- any one.  David Bowie spanned all ages and genres. And he still does.  Just like dancing, laughing, Monty, Mary Beth and Louise span all ages and all generations.

You can't get enough,
But enough ain't the test.
~Rebel Rebel, David Bowie

And now they are gone. I guess.  But when I really stop and think,are they actually any more gone for me this week than last week?  This year than last?  I still have Bowie’s songs on my playlist.  He still frequents my Pandora station, television, commercials and the radio.  I still have dancing and I still have laughing ala Mary Beth and Louise and I still have Monty’s friends, Alison and the girls to keep Monty going.  So are they gone if they are still here still doing their thing?

Scanning life through the picture window
She finds the slinky vagabond
~Young  Americans, David Bowie
                                                                                                                           
The big great thing is that theyweregreater than and bigger than life itself.  I guess the real only difference is that no matter what party I go to, David Bowie, Monty, Mary Beth, and Louise for sure, absolutely, positively will not be there BECAUSE THEY DIED.  Just like I will for sure, absolutely, positively, still hear the chords of Ziggy Stardust before the end of Changes.

Fame,
Could it be the best, could it be?
~Fame, David Bowie

There is no end.  So nothing to be sad about.  Just keep hearing the beginning of the next song before this one ends and keep doing what you do best so that you can never really be gone, too.

In walked luck and you looked in time
Never look back, walk tall, act fine.
~Golden Years, David Bowie

---
I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger,
May you never take one single breath for granted,
GOD forbid love ever leave you empty handed,
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

I hope you dance....I hope you dance.

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Livin' might mean takin' chances but they're worth takin',
Lovin' might be a mistake but it's worth makin',
Don't let some hell bent heart leave you bitter,
When you come close to sellin' out reconsider,
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

I hope you dance....I hope you dance.
I hope you dance....I hope you dance.

(Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along,
Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder where those years have gone.)
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

Dance....I hope you dance.
I hope you dance....I hope you dance.
I hope you dance....I hope you dance..

(Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along
Tell me who wants to look back on their years and wonder where those years have gone)



Today the pressure cooker I ordered was delivered.  It’s all fancy and electric and does cool things.  Not SUPER cool like just everything.  But it does cool things like make food fast.  And differently.  Since I started investigating this purchase, I’ve been hoarding recipes and wondering, “Will I be able to make that in the pressure cooker?”  Tonight as I made a shit-ton of deviled eggs (because I can make hardboiled eggs in the pressure cooker), I realized that I am my father’s daughter.  I obsess over food.

At the Mariani Ranch, Dad had an acre garden.  That garden had everything in it and he and Mom tended it meticulously.  This was so different than a few years later when we moved to an apartment in Minnesota and we grew bean sprouts in the kitchen.  Not the tending meticulously, as we did do that, but the size was so different.  Tiny pots and glasses versus an acre.  But still hoarding.

Growing up, Dad did not cook often.  Mom did all the usual cooking with Dad stepping in for "special projects" (like my shit-ton of deviled eggs…).  One thing that Dad was really good consistently, though, was making a big mess (yes, me, too).  He'd get overly focused on creating a food from scratch and soon every pot and pan, every knife, every dish, would be dirty and overflowing in the sink.  I take after him in this which is why I rarely cook and when I do, it's a big to-do (like my shit-ton of deviled eggs…). 

The first time I remember Dad doing this was the Donut Weekend.  We lived on the Mariani Ranch and I was about 5 years old.  Dad decided to make donuts from scratch. This was pre-internet and my family didn't buy books.  Donut Weekend therefore required a trip to the library, several trips to different stores around town, and lots of patience on Mom's part, I imagine. 

Using  yeast and whatnot, Dad did make donuts.  They weren't very sugary sweet the way children like them, but it made for an interesting Donut Weekend and likely only cost about $237 per dozen due to all the needed purchases to make donuts that we just did not have, being non-donut makers prior.  And after, as that was the first, last, and only donut weekend.

There was also beer-making with tubes and pipes and all kinds of contraptions in and out of the house.  That was more than one weekend, but I'd say less than a couple of months.  Bread-making with yeasty concoctions all over the house lasted much longer and was much more pleasant, as the smells of warm sourdough still make me happy.

Later on in life, Dad went less crazy, but still very focused on one thing. I remember Turkey Mole in Oregon when I visited once.  It took a ton of ingredients used only that once and a combination of recipes.  It was delicious, but I don't think he ever made it again.  He collected recipes like I do, only I have the Internet to keep them in (sites like Facebook and Pinterest); he had clippings and binders and cookbooks and notebooks.  I have those now with a scrapbooking project in mind for them one day.

One weekend visit to Oregon, the local park had a pulled pork contest.  I wasn't a fan of pork chops so I didn't know I liked pulled pork.  We went to the contest and walked around tasting different recipes from different restaurants in the little paper cups they serve you catsup in.  I was in heaven and even now, pulled pork is my favorite.

I also can tell you about shopping with Dad.  Grocery shopping.  We would go to three or four stores with coupons and newspaper ads, picking up different things in each store to make a meal.  Not a week's worth of meals-- just that one big hyper-focused meal. And along the way, he'd collect things that were cheap.  I remember as a kid having a GIANT can of new potatoes in the pantry for years (expiration dates are mere suggestions, according to Dad).  Years.  Perhaps actually close to two decades.  We never used them.  Ever.  But now whenever I see cans of new potatoes, I remember that trip with Dad when I was 12 to the dented canned food store where he saw a giant can of new potatoes and had to have them.

But I think my very favorite shopping time with Dad was when he was released from the hospital.  My family was visiting for a week and the morning we were to leave, we got a call at the hotel that Dad was in the hospital with congestive heart failure.  While we were there he had ignored his kidney issues and his body rebelled.  I rented a car and stayed in Oregon for the duration of his hospital stay while they gave him extra dialysis and got him all cleaned out.  The day he was released, he felt fantastic.  It was just Dad and me against the grocery world!  We went to one shop for meat, one for apple pie, one for spices, one for cheese, a farm stand for veggies, and then a trip to the local farmers market for whatever we felt like.  It was one of my most favorite days ever with Dad.  Makes me smile even now.

So there you have it.  Dad and food.  And a shit-ton of deviled eggs.