Lost Apple Pie, Olive Oil, and Other Oddities
Of All the Things I’ve Lost I Miss My Mind the Most
Years ago one fall, Dave and I were back in Maryland visiting my elderly mother; at the time I’d say she was 80ish but still spry, quick, and independent. Her house, the house I grew up in during the 50’s and 60’s, was nestled in a 400-year-old great oak forest so the leaves in October would pile up knee deep across the one acre she kept mowed and tidy.
We decided we needed some exercise and, to be frank, if we wanted to not get into yet another political tit-for-tat conversation with Miriam we needed the solitude of nature and some distance from the mother. Not content to leave us in solitude, she came rushing out to tell us that “her boy” would do the leaves…..and with some prodding she admitted that she paid “her boy” $400 to do the yard. This was the late 1990’s. That was an outrageous amount. We proceeded to rake and blow and tidy-up the yard. She kept insisting she would pay us instead of “her boy” and we kept politely demurring. Instead, Dave suggested that she bake us one of her famously flaky and delicious apple pies. Dilemma solved; off she went apron in hand, to flour, roll, and pare a pie into the oven.
About half an hour later she reappeared at the kitchen stoop, apron (and the rest of her) liberally dusted with white flour, wisps of sweat-moistened hair dangling across her forehead and, with every swipe of her frustrated hands trying to tame them back into place, she only succeeded in wiping moist, brush-like stokes of goo across her face and forehead. She was rocking a great start on a scary, octogenarian version of a Halloween costume but she was not a happy trick-or-treater.
She had lost the apples.
She had bought a bag of hand-selected, “perfect for pie” apples that week knowing we were coming and that Dave fawned over her pie (his mother and her pie crusts are another tale). Now, the apples had gone AWOL and were actually MIA.
We went inside to assist with the search. Despite all of our search efforts (now we were actually wondering if she had, in fact, actually bought them at all or simply thought she might have/should have) we cold not find them. She was growing more and more agitated, so I stepped in and got the car keys and headed off to town for a bag of apples. No harm, no foul.
While wandering in the hometown Giant Foods, Dave calls me; apples found. The exact location of them is really irrelevant as with the missing dish sponge (refrigerator) or the missing car keys (car, running) or her multiple reading glasses (anywhere and everywhere, use your imagination), the key being that she was elderly, a tad absent-minded (we were not flinging the “dementia” word around with such alacrity back then; forgetfulness was quaint, cute even), and this was just another funny example of the foibles of aging.
In fact, it became The Lost Apple Pie Incident, forever chronicled and brought out over the decades as the “cuteness” of the aging brain. The eternal semi-sunshine of a not-so-spotless mind if you will.
And now it’s 2019; Miriam left us in 2006 at 94 years old. Dave and I are older than we were but not out to pasture quite yet. After Miriam died we quite sensibly downsized, moving into the city of Portland, OR. from the mountains of the Monterey Bay. We culled the crap and prepared ourselves for a more urban, simplified, less-propertied, existence. All went well for almost a decade before, as we are wont to do, we invented an entire menu of “reasons” why we were not happy in Portland any longer (all were, and are, valid!). On another whim we moved to Palm Springs. We bought over twice the house and this monster home, in a total retirement community over-all, came with a 22-tree orchard to boot. My point in mentioning this here is to educate the reader that among the other amenities that come with a larger than normal house are a larger than normal number of closets, nooks, basements, extra rooms, and one closet large enough to rent out as an ADU. These are all fertile ground for the now progressively aging and forgetful minds that live amongst this Winchester Mystery ranch of a house.
We arrive at: Olive Oil
In my quest to maintain what is left of our minds at this stage, I ordered some very expensive, high-phenol content, olive oil just so I could at least believe I’m doing all I can to keep us both healthy, active, and mentally functioning for as long as I can. Obviously that ship sailed, destination port unknown.
The olive oil arrived; six square, slim, elegant bottles all wrapped and boxed. I took one and placed it on my stove-side cooking pad of daily-use items like oil, salt, aminos, etc. The rest I then carefully estimated of when I would access them and where amidst the over-abundance of storage options available I should choose to house them. I found a place. That place is now gone….from my mind, from my view, maybe even from the house if my experience with other dementia-addled folks I have known over the years suggests is true.
I enlisted Dave; “Honey, remember those special olive oil bottles I got? ANY idea where I might have put them?” Pot, calling Kettle. The collective mental blanks that appeared in both of us remind me of black holes in the brain; places that while incredibly powerful and observable, yield nothing in terms of the information which they suck in and refuse to regurgitate back.
The enemy was joined. The search was on. We were now two against…..what? The vagaries of aging? The frustration of that which is JUST out of reach of the mind? The search was no longer just about some vagrant EVOO bottles, it was a search for what had become of what remained of our minds.
We both distinctly remember the bottles appearance. I remember thinking through where they should reside. Dave remembers seeing them in their condo of a cupboard…..just which cupboard he’s not so sure of. Three times. That’s how many times the two of us methodically went through every cupboard in the kitchen, pantry, dining room, and extra ADU storage closet. If I’m totally truthful here I even went through the linen closet, both of them, on the off chance that I had completely become my mother virtually overnight. I would not have told Dave had I found them there. He already has compiled a file on me I’m quite certain. There is no sense adding fuel to that hot mess of a fire. I even tried to “channel” olive oil images into a resting mind in hopes of sussing out their location ethereally. Bupkiss.
I wanted this EVOO for a pasta salad I was tossing for dinner. My very last resort was to go ahead and make the salad using standard EVOO instead of my specialty brand in the hopes that the universe would see my frustration and reward me with a “funny find”. I really thought that just as I poured on the standard oil the other oils would magically come dancing out of their hidey-hole like broomsticks in Fantasia. A mind is a terrible thing…….to try and trick. No dice.
The next morning the credit card statement came. On it were not one but TWO large purchases from the olive oil people. Hmmm. Curiouser and curiouser. I called them up and very nicely asked “What up wit dis?” “Carl” explained that one was the parent order (at this moment in time I found the reference to any parental oversight unwarranted and not at all funny, but I digress) and the other was an “add-on” order, a “special but WAIT!!! If you order NOW you can double your…..” order. Well. Let me just say that a dim bling of a bulb went off.
I did order an original 3 bottles. And I did succumb to the add-on order of an additional 6 bottles because the price break was substantial. Charges all A-OK. But. Wait. If you act now you may be able to recover what is left of your mind.
I know, and Dave backs me up in this, that only 6 bottles arrived in the box. I put one out for immediate use and “stored” (some would say lost here but why quibble?) the rest. “Carl” was very nice and admitted that sometimes errors at the factory get skewed because of the parent-add-on order process so he offered me a lengthy refund protocol or….he’s rushing me out 3 more bottles. I chose the extra three and here’s why.
It is one last chance.
Dave and I both believe that when the new bottles arrive the
“old” bottles will magically re-appear and we will have solved not only the Lost Apple Pie Incident but hopefully reorganized ALL of our pantries and thrown out all outdated foods as well as consolidated the 23 cans of pasta sauce into one place.`
Last night for Taco Tuesday company, we had home-baked Pumpkin/Pecan bread. Three guesses where I had found that mix. Good!
Now tell us where the hell we put the olive oil, please.
Epilog, by Dave
Hey honey, I know you looked in all the cabinets. But did you look for bottles or, as