THE YEAR THE MOUSE ATE THE GINGERBREAD HOUSE Kate’s Journal


Episode 21 Christmas, 2015, Fremont

watch cat The Christmas cakes and cookies have been baked, and the cards were made and sent on time for a change, the presents bought and wrapped. I’m feeling pretty good about Christmas this year instead of having a near panic attack as is usually the case. But one thing I’m not making this year, or maybe ever, is another Christmas gingerbread house.

We made some pretty limp attempts when our children were small, but one year when the grandchildren arrived, I went all out and built the world’s biggest, most fabulous three-story gingerbread Victorian mansion ever imagined by man or child.

It stood about 18 inches high, and the gingerbread was totally covered with either frosting or candy. It was beautiful beyond belief and everything a gingerbread house should be.

At the annual Christmas party it was the hit of the evening and as its architect and builder, I glowed with pride. It stood on its own separate table in the place of honor, but unfortunately, I have lost the photos I took of it from every angle, so you will just have to take my word for it.

When the season was over, we carefully lifted this enormous confection and lovingly packed it away till the following year. We protected it with tissue paper and bubble wrap, and carefully sealed the cardboard container against dust and dirt in the attic.

The following Christmas, while taking down the collection of holiday decorations, I opened the large cardboard box to find—–nothing.

Going downstairs, I asked my husband, Dr. Advice, what he had done with the gingerbread house. Just as puzzled as I, he looked into the box and found instead of a glorious gingerbread house, one or two pieces of candy. Nothing else–just two pieces of candy.

Mouse

As we all know, it gets pretty cold and lonely outside for a small mouse, and our mouse obviously has a sweet tooth as well, so who can blame him for seeking shelter in a warm box containing an irresistible feast fit for a king, and even inviting some friends over for a snack or two? Not I.

THE AUTUMN OF REPAIRS


I don’t usually name seasons for the activities they bring.  You know, like Steinbeck’s “Winter of our Discontent”, but this one brought lots of good stuff which culminated in my becoming well-acquainted with several nice men in the medical profession.

First, the good stuff included a lovely trip to Carmel, courtesy of our family to celebrate our amazing 65th anniversary.  Amazing because neither of us is old enough to have been married that long.  We basked in the sun, shopped till our legs felt weak, dined in style,  and spent the evenings enjoying the sunset while overlooking the ocean and large resident flock of sheep who looked as if they never missed a meal.

Arriving home, our children and grandchildren put togther a grand party for 65 people in two days that would have taken me a month in my best days.   So much for good genes.  They obviously did not get them from me.

And that’s the last of the good stuff.

Next came the matter of repairs.  First came cataract surgery, which today is a piece of cake.  You get a bigger and better exam than usual, and in my case, was told that I am “color deficient”, which to the uninitiated, is color blindness.  This, and I have been fooling the public and my students for years that I knew what I was doing.  Then they treat you ever so nicely while you wait your turn among a roomful of old people.  “Why am I here?”)  When I got into the tidy little OR (that’s short for operating room) the doctor I already didn’t like because of the color blindness crack, said abruptly “Well, I hope you don’t cough.”  (That’s because I DO have a coughing problem.)  Not the beginning of a great friendship.  I felt like doing it anyway except he was the one with the scalpel.  This led to new glasses of course, which were much stronger, and very expensive, but introduced me to a charming young optometrist I could really get to like,  so that could be added to the good stuff, because I probably will have to see him again sometime.

OK.  All is going along beautifully, until a bad toothache told me I had come to the end of the line, and would have to break up the lifelong friendship I have had with my teeth.  My charming nephew told me one day “Auntie, I can’t patch you up anymore.”  He went into the next room while I pondered just what he had in mind.

When he came back into the room I was having a lovely conversation with one of his cute nurses, so I was relaxed and unprepared when he said that all the teeth on the bottom had to go.  They were no longer carrying their part of the load.  What the hell did this mean?

Next I went to visit the oral surgeon, who made an appointment for me to come in and he would happily remove them all and give me two (or maybe 4) implants  Easy for him to say.  It’s me that will have to suffer the pain and sacrifice and economic disaster.

I have a deeprooted belief that suffering will make me a better person, thanks to my grandma Nellie.  Who by the way was a Christian Scientist, and didn’t believe in pain and suffering.  It simply was not there.  It’s that kind of upbringing that makes you an agnostic.

Surgery day came and out came the teeth.  All of them.  I kid you not.  The surgery is not bad (I might add that there were a number of teeth which were broken off at the gum, ) and I was in dreamland during the process.  Not as bad as I thought.  After all, I had lost all the upper ones some time ago and survival is possible.

Dr. Advice had a good time giving advice about putting my food into the blender, and calling my new teeth “choppers”.  That’s OK for him to say, but just try putting the Thanksgiving turkey into a blender.

But all is wll, and I have gorgeous new  teeth, which will be the envy of all the other old ladies I know, and maybe even the young ones. Now I just have to get them to work.

And more good stuff.  I no longer have to brush and floss after every meal.  And when someone says “Say cheese” with a camera pointed my way, I can grin with the best of them.