Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Slicing Carrots and Other Ruminations

I just sliced up a few carrots for dinner. Nothing special; just cut them into smaller slivers and then made diagonal cuts so they do not look so geometrical. I love the way raw carrots snap and crackle as you cut them up with a sharp knife. I love the color of them, too. Orange. Deep and brilliant orange. As I cut the carrots I wondered what their origin was. Where did these carrots grow and when did we as human beings begin to eat them? So much to wonder about a carrot!
I will throw them in some boiling water in a little while and cook them for just a few minutes until they are done the way I like them (tenderly crispy). Once they are cooked I will savor their gifts of carotene and Vitamin A. Cutting up a few carrots is simple enough and borrows only a little time from my very leisurely day. As I was cutting, I could not help but think about how many people think cutting up vegetables is a chore, including me just a few years ago. When I had a rising family I know the last thing I wanted to do was to cut up some vegetables at the end of the day. Food producers and food processors have taken note of just that as is evidenced in all the prewashed and pre cut veggies that are available at the market. All you have to do is throw them in some boiling water. But, you miss out on that snap and that crackle. You miss the aroma of the raw carrot as it lays slivered up in front of you. You miss out from using your own hands to at least prepare part of your meal.
Preparing for dinner and cooking in general is such a calming aspect of my life now. It was not always so, but as I have taken better care of myself, cooking has been something that I have grown to relish. It is one demonstration of how I care for me and for those who I love. Cutting up carrots today was ruminative.
I am somewhat immobile now because I broke my foot. I did not feel confident venturing out today because of the rain, instead, I ventured in and read through four New Yorkers. The most poignant article came from the May 20, 2013 edition with an article by Rebecca Mead: The Sense of an Ending. It portrayed a patient centered model of care for the elderly, especially those with dementia at the Beatitudes Campus (a retirement community in Phoenix, Arizona).  It is a holistic model of care where the philosophy is: “When you have dementia, we can't change how you think, but we can change how you feel” (p 94). At Beatitudes there are no fixed bedtimes or rising hours and no schedules that residents must be showered by a certain time. The focus is on promoting experiences that are pleasurable because research has shown that such experiences have an effect on persons with dementia even after the experience is forgotten.  The principles underlying Beatitudes stems from the work of Thomas Kitwood, a social psychologist, in 1997. He insisted that people with “dementia, rather than being seen as debilitated should be embraced for what they can teach the cognitively intact” (p. 97). He promoted “person centered care”. He believed that people with dementia invite us “to return to aspects of our being that are much older in evolutionary terms: more in tune with the body and functions, closer to the life of instant.” My father had dementia, thus I feel it is likely that I may acquire this, too. When I get dementia, I hope that I receive the type of care discussed in this article.



  1. What a thought provoking article. My mother had dementia. We were not sure if it was caused by the several strokes she had or if it was a natural deterioration of her brain. One thing I learned from my mother's situation in the nursing home is that almost all very elderly people of an advanced age have some form of what would be called dementia. I have come to believe that those types of cases, in that age group, are a result of natural aging and not a disease.

    Our youth oriented society has a difficult time accepting the changes that occur with advanced age, and we tend to treat elders as abnormal. I believe that most of the elderly I came into contact with were "normal" for their age and situation. I could always see the fear and shame in their faces, as they struggled to appear "normal." I really like the idea of "person centered care" that normalizes as much as possible an elderly person's abilities and situation.

  2. I look forward to talking about food, chopping, slicing, and cooking when we finally get together, and especially about an interesting experience I had during the recent week that Jim was on a special diet. Cheers!

  3. Most interesting post. I love Kingsolver and her most recent (I think) about the butterflies was terrific. Anna Q used to be a weekly columnist for Newsweek magazine and wrote wonderful essays...:)