On Mailing a Package: Caregiver’s World

My husband is in the last stages of Lewy Body dementia and can no longer do anything for himself. He is in hospice care and he is at home where I am his main caregiver. This is my world.

Today is the day I decided to end my stress eating and lose some extra pounds. Today is the 21st day in a row that I have faithfully studied my Spanish lessons. Today is the 182nd day since the husband had a stroke and became totally disabled. Today is the day a hospice volunteer came to sit with my husband and give me a couple hours to leave the house. That is what I want to write about.

I don’t get out much anymore. Since most of my friends were working and unavailable I decided to run errands around town. First on my list was getting a birthday package mailed out to a friend in Florida. The box already had an assortment of small treats in it but there was too much room left and Mom and I didn’t want to waste it. She felt popcorn would be the perfect filler. It so happens that Hayward, my hometown, has a Popcorn Store. That’s not so weird, is it?

I went there, wondering if it was open since it’s winter and there isn’t quite the tourist traffic we have in the summer. I was not disappointed. There were three cars parked outside and several men inside making popcorn, I guess. One of them came to me as I wandered the popcorn showroom and offered his assistance in finding something “not too sweet” for my diabetic friend. He was the owner, I believe, and there was a distinct “Santa Claus-ishness” about him. Probably the white hair and beard.

I bought a small bag of Main Street Mix for my friend, and although this is the first day of my weight loss program, I added a bag of Kettle Korn for myself (to make it worth his while to wait on me). I noticed three larger, unlabeled bags of popcorn on a table and asked what they were for. He picked one up and said, “It’s for you!” He couldn’t have known about my near addiction to popcorn, could he?

It was their premium white popcorn mixed with mushroom popcorn, which has nothing to do with real mushrooms. Mushroom popcorn is noticeably bigger than other kinds and has a beautiful pale yellow color. It’s going to be delicious. I left there feeling like God had smiled down.

My next stop before the post office was at Lynne Marie’s candy shop. Yes, my friend is diabetic but they have sugar free candy there and I know she likes it. There was room for some in the box.

Lynne Marie herself was working in the candy kitchen and came to wait on me right away. She pointed out some sugar free chocolate covered almonds that I thought would do nicely.

We started talking and I got around to telling her who I was and who I was related to. Not only had she gone to school with my brothers, but her family had bought a cabin on Round Lake from my husband and I years ago. It had been our first (and last) investment property. We felt like old friends by the time we were done with this conversation. It is the first day of my weight loss effort, but I bought a pound of her cherry nut fudge anyway. We’re friends now and it seemed like the right thing to do.

On to the post office where I finally chose a priority mail box and packed all the presents in it, surrounded by happy birthday tissue paper and a couple of cards. Mailing things always seems like such a daunting chore, but it isn’t that bad if you just make yourself do it. I felt like I had accomplished something with my time, and gotten to know my hometown shops a little better.

I love my small town. Consider this a positive review if you’re ever in Hayward looking for popcorn or fudge. Main Street Gourmet Popcorn, Lynne Marie’s Candies

I might have seen popcorn and fudge on my list of allowed foods, yeah, I’m pretty sure…

Small Town Chronicles

Grocery Shopping with Mom

It is dead of winter in this small town in the northern part of the Midwest, which is synonymous with saying not much is happening from day to day, except trying to keep warm. Our weekly excitement is going grocery shopping at Walmart on Friday mornings.

We go on Friday so we can plan a pleasant sabbatical rest day on Saturday. Eating good stuff always makes it special. We go early to avoid the Friday rush. The parking lot is not full yet at 8 am – we usually have our pick of the handicapped spots. It is also nice to avoid crowds since we have an immune suppressed person in our family to consider. We just don’t need to be around coughs and sneezes.

This particular Friday I loaded up our trash and recyclables because we take it all to the dumpster on the way. We always take Mom’s SUV because it’s easy for her to get in and out and has lots of room for all the stuff we buy. It’s also a significant blessing to have this SUV in a heated garage. We never have to feel the freeze when it’s below zero outside. We just get in our seats and off we go.

I say that we shop at Walmart, but that’s really the last place we go. We know what’s there most of the time, so we check out the other grocery store in town to see if they have different/better stuff on sale. I pulled into the parking lot at Marketplace Foods and looked for good parking. I was just planning on how I would park so we could wheel our carts right up to the lift gate, when I remembered that we had forgotten to stop at the dumpster. The back of the car was full of garbage.

Another wonderful thing about living in this small town is that everywhere we go is within five minutes drive of home. So we extended our outing a few minutes and drove back home to the community dumpster. Good to get rid of that stuff and have room for groceries, yeah.

The rest of our shopping trip, through the two grocery stores, dealt with the details of finding a boneless turkey roast – not just any turkey roast, but one with both light and dark meat. It involved tech skills on smart phones and researching the store we hadn’t yet shopped. It resulted in a large white meat roast and a package of turkey legs, bone in, at the first store and the kind of turkey roast we wanted at the second store. In short, research was ineffective. Way too much turkey.

That’s it folks. That was the excitement last week in Hayward, for us. But before you label us totally lame, know that this coming weekend 40,000 people are showing up in Hayward for the American Birkiebeiner (ski race) and it will be enough excitement to last us until spring. I get to help feed hot soup to this crowd after they knock themselves out skiing 40k through the woods. This is not something one sees every day, not in this small town.

The soup crew (me on the right)
How we cook soup for a crowd with no kitchen.

P.S. There actually was more shopping excitement last Friday. Mom is redecorating the living room and we also have two furniture stores in town… but that story is for another thrilling post, someday. I don’t want to throw all the adventure in one post when it’s really worth two. Just sayin’…