January 08 '05
Volume 449

Peanut Butter High Tom'sAre The Best

It was the week I took off work for the Thanksgiving Holiday that Sarah and Felicia finally got around to looking for Felicia a new car. Her old car had become unreliable, and a local mechanic deemed it not worth fixing. For the better part of a month, Felicia wailed to her mother that she had to have a car. After all, in addition to regular classes at Ole Miss, and working part time at Chaney’s Drug Store in Oxford, Felicia also had to be in Pontotoc two days a week working with teachers and students to fulfill course requirements for her major in elementary education.

I didn’t offer my services in helping choose a car, partly because I didn’t feel it was my responsibility, plus my taste in automobiles is more tuned to larger cars than a twenty-one year old is interested in driving. Anyway, Felicia’s brother had told her he’d help her when he came home for Thanksgiving.

The first car Felicia found to her liking was a late model used car from the Nissan lot in Tupelo. She brought it home to try out and would probably have decided to buy it, had it not been for the advice from both Brett and my son-in-law, Anson Adams, that she could do better. It was at this point that I shared my agreement with Brett and Anson, and offered to take her to check on a car Anson had seen in Belmont at the same lot where Barbara found a good deal on her Buick.

After returning the Nissan to the dealer, on Saturday morning, Felicia, Brett, and Kathy, loaded into my car, and we drove to Belmont to check out the cars at Southside Auto Sales. We did find a small Oldsmobile, a program car, which seemed to be a better value than the Nissan. Sarah and Felicia returned to the dealer’s on Sunday afternoon and bought the Oldsmobile.

I don’t remember which leg of the Saturday trip it was that Felecia asked me about the peanut butter and cracker snacks that I keep in my car, but I remember sharing my thoughts on eating the snacks.

First of all, I’ve never met a peanut butter and cracker snack that I didn’t like, but there are some brands that I prefer and some brands I will no longer buy. I’ve not found a crisper, flakier cracker snack than those produced by Frito-Lay, and I might still be purchasing them, had someone not pointed out that the ones made by Tom’s have a better buttery flavor. Lance also makes a good cracker snack, and I occasionally purchase that brand when I run out of the Tom’s.

There must be a half-dozen peanut butter and cracker combinations in any given brand, but my personal favorite is the Oven Toasted cracker with peanut butter, followed closely by the Cheese Cracker with peanut butter. I also explained to Felicia that I have several different ways of consuming my favorite snack. This is probably a good time to mention such snacks are generally referred to as "Nabs." I’ve never researched where the name originated, but since nab means to "seize, grab, or snatch," I like to imagine Nabs were one of the original "grab and go" prepared foods and as such folks just plain nabbed 'em.

I remember when Tom’s Nabs were stacked about five high in a package before the company changed the packaging to it’s current package of six, consisting of two rows of three crackers. I’m old enough to remember buying a pack of Nabs and a Coke for ten cents, though today it’s hard to purchase that combination for less than a dollar.

But, getting back to consumption, there are three basic ways I find to enjoy Tom’s Oven Toasted Cracker with Peanut Butter.

  1. Pop a whole cracker w/P/B in my mouth and eat it.
  2. Separate the cracker so that one-half is all cracker and the other half has peanut butter on one side, then eat each half separately and independently of the other.
  3. Separate as in method two above, but after eating the cracker portion, remove the peanut butter from the other portion and eat the peanut butter separately before continuing.

I find that I vary the method of consumption based on the beverage I have at the time. I normally travel with bottled water or an insulated container of ice water, and under these circumstances, I am most apt to use method two or three, chewing slowly in order to gain the most of the eating experience. If I have a carbonated beverage, I normally eat my Nabs according to method one, and I particularly enjoy taking a sip of "soda" once I have reduced the whole cracker in my mouth to a manageable amount. The saltiness of the cracker mixes well with the carbonation to produce a most pleasant effect. The down side to this is it doesn’t take very long to eat the average pack of six crackers.

For pure eating pleasure, I find method three to be my favorite. But, this method requires a bit of eating patience, and I’ve learned to count the number of times I chew the plain cracker before swallowing it. I normally make it to fifty something before swallowing. But it’s the next step, scraping off the peanut butter and eating it that gives rise to the name of this article.

There’s something about biting into the peanut butter, working it first with my front teeth and then with my molars, before pushing my tongue along the backs of my teeth to clean them of peanut butter residue, that creates an almost euphoric state, or as I told Felicia, "a peanut butter high." For me, the high or rush occurs when my nose smells the warm peanut butter in my mouth and my brain merges the sensory input of smell and taste into a single, glorious event. It’s not a lasting effect, perhaps no longer than two seconds, but it’s still a rush. Plus, by the time the remaining portion of the cracker is eaten and the top of the next one is consumed, I can hardly wait for the next peanut butter high.

Felicia may have learned more about Nabs that day than she wanted to know, but I could tell from the tilt of her head and the smile on her face that through the years she will remember the importance of Nabs to her Uncle Wayne longer than the features of the Oldsmobile she was about to buy.

Going Down Not For The Faint-hearted

Barbara’s mother, Lillie Belle Paseur, lives in the Pontotoc Hospital Nursing Home, where she has resided for the past four years. While her physical health remains relatively good for an eighty-seven year old, she’s lost much of her mental abilities and is largely unable to form coherent sentences longer than three or four words. On most days, she knows Barbara and can identify me as well, but she can almost never name any other family members. She seems to realize her grandchildren and great grandchildren are persons she should know, but she can’t tell us who they are.

Lillie Belle has what most folks would say is Alzheimer’s Disease, which I understand is impossible to diagnose with certainty until an autopsy is performed. Another possible explanation for her mental state would be dementia in an advanced form.

The subject of Lillie Belle’s well-being came up in a recent conversation as Barbara and I were updating each other on what we knew concerning one of our elderly neighbor’s pending breast surgery and treatment.

"Mother started going down right after she had her breast surgery," Barbara reminisced.

Time wise, that was roughly seven years ago. I’m usually quick to respond to questions and statements offered by others, something that’s not necessarily a desirable skill and definitely one that can quickly inflame a given situation. I blame my shortcomings on all those timed test in elementary school, where quick answers were required.

But, no sooner had Barbara finished her sentence than I heard myself saying, "Well you know, you can mark this day, if you want to, as the day I started going down!"

I was not trying to be humorous or insensitive to Lillie Belle’s health, I just wanted to make a point that once people reach a certain age, life is pretty much downhill the rest of the way. I felt it impossible to define a given day or event in Lillie Belle’s life that could mark the beginning of her "going down." I would agree with Barbara that following her mother’s surgery, Lillie Belle required more and more attention from us in the form of transporting her to various doctors with problems requiring heart catheterizations to injections of cortisone to treat something called "trigger finger."

Lillie Belle’s mental decline was less obvious, but there were a number of subtle clues over several years that signaled something was amiss. Jason remembers the time his grandmother put Saran Wrap over bacon in the microwave and melted the plastic wrap to the bacon.

When Jason told her she wasn’t suppose to do that, he remembers Lillie Belle explaining, "Barbara does it all the time."

And there were similar occasions when she wrapped baking potatoes in Saran Wrap and microwaved them.

There was also the occasion where Sara Sue got Lillie Belle riled up by questioning her claim that the mailman had brought the daily delivery to her bedroom window and gave her the mail through the open window. We are confident the mailman story was a dream, but it seemed real to Lillie Belle. Anyway, the window is screened.

I’ve mentioned only a few of the more memorable events in which family members marked the beginning of Lillie Belle’s going down, but there were other occasions including forgetting how to get home from the grocery store, confusing late afternoon with morning, and forgetting to take medications.

Deciding that a nursing home would be the only affordable means to care for Lillie Belle for the remainder of her life was a hard decision, but it proved to be a wise decision, as Lillie Belle’s ability to care for herself continues to decline in a ratio proportional to her mental condition rather than any physical infirmities.

As for me, I’m still going down, but my symptoms are not yet obvious to most folks. Physically, I’m in good health (as far as I know). Mentally, I’m tarp as a shack (smile), and I offer the following incident as proof positive.

Last summer, I switched bathrooms. At the time, Barbara required a moderate to cool environment when bathing and applying makeup, and it seemed my using the shower in the master bathroom created unnecessary heat in the room Barbara wanted kept cool. Thus, I began bathing in the guest bathroom, where the bathtub doubles as a shower. The guest bathroom is a smaller room, and it plays to my advantage in cold weather because the heat from the shower’s hot water warms it up nicely, and when stepping out of the tub I don’t feel like I’ll freeze before I can get dried off.

Like most folks, I have a particular routine when it comes to bathing. I won’t be sharing much detail except to say, I get the water temperature regulated before I set foot into the tub or shower. A few weeks ago, having set the water temperature to my liking, I closed the curtain and switched on the shower. Standing with my back to the shower spray, I began to sense that I was in a fog. I couldn’t see a thing.

"This is weird, what’s happening to me?" I wondered.

Just before panic set in, I caught a glimpse of my surroundings via peripheral vision, which wasn’t foggy. Fortunately, my eyeglasses aren’t wrap-arounds, and I realized it was the lens of my glasses that were fogged up, not my eyes or my brain. As best I can remember, I’ve never taken a shower while wearing my glasses, but if I keep going down, there may come a day when the fog isn’t just on my glasses.

Eighth Of January Today In History

Today, January 8, 2005 is the day Jim and Sheila Hess of Vicksburg return from their trip to Hawaii. I am able to remember that because I phoned the Hesses prior to Christmas to check on their holiday schedule, and, in talking to Sheila, she mentioned they would be getting back on the eighth of January.

"The eighth of January?" I quizzed in confirming the day, "Why, that's an old fiddle tune."

Sheila admitted that she was not familiar with the tune and was not aware of the instrumental's title.

"I've heard my daddy play that tune many times on his fiddle," I shared. "But now, I can't even hum it."

I have since sought information concerning The Eighth Of January using the Internet and found several recordings including the one at:

The original fiddle tune, also known as Jackson's Victory, was written in celebration of Andrew Jackson's victory over the British at the battle of New Orleans on January 8, 1815. In 1959 Johnny Horton popularized the fiddle tune through the lyrics of Jimmy Driftwood in the country ballad, "Battle of New Orleans."

Readers of this newsletter may also note that January 8, 1935 denotes the birthday of Elvis Presley, The King Of Rock 'n Roll.

Bodock Beau Tips For A Happy Marriage

For many of us, the marriage tips credited to the late comic, Red Skelton, arrived too late to help but can nonetheless be appreciated.

Red Skelton's Tips For A Happy Marriage

1. Two times a week we go to a nice restaurant for good food and companionship. She goes on Tuesdays. I go on Fridays.

2. We sleep in separate beds. Hers is in Ontario and mine is in California.

3. I take my wife everywhere, but she keeps finding her way back.

4. I asked my wife where she wanted to go for our anniversary. "Somewhere I haven't been in a long time," she said. So I suggested the kitchen.

5. When we go to the shopping mall, we always hold hands. If I let go, she shops.

6. My wife told me the car wasn't running well because she thought there was water in the carburetor. I asked where the car was. She said, "In the lake."

7. Before you take the leap into matrimony, remember this: Marriage is the number one cause of divorce.

8. In fact, statistically 100 percent of all divorces start with marriage.

9. As for myself, I married Miss Right. I just didn't know her first name was Always.

10. I haven't spoken to my wife in almost a year. I don't like to interrupt her.

11. I'll admit the last fuss we had was my fault. My wife asked, "What's on the TV?" I answered, "Dust!"

Frivolous Old Gal

I have become a little older since I last saw you and a few changes have come into my life. Frankly, I have become a frivolous old gal. I am seeing five gentlemen every day.

As soon as I wake up Will Power helps me get out of bed. Then I go see John.

Next, Charlie Horse comes along, and when he is here, he takes a lot of time and attention. When he leaves Arthur Ritis shows up and stays the rest of the day. He doesn't like to stay in one place very long, so he takes me from joint to joint.

After such a busy day, I'm really tired and glad to go to bed with Ben Gay. What a life! Oh, yes, I'm also flirting with Al Zymer.

P.S. The preacher came to call the other day. He said that at my age, I should be thinking about the hereafter. I told him, "Oh, I do all the time. No matter where I am: in the parlor, upstairs, in the kitchen, or down in the basement, I ask myself, now what am I hereafter?"

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