Had a fun and busy five days with my Mother. Truly the woman amazes me, never stops. It is generally known in my family Mother has OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Probably this is something that should have been addressed years ago as it is undoubtedly equally as frustrating for the sufferer as it is for those around them. Some of this naturally slopped over on me, and I, in turn, passed it on to my daughter. She always says I’m a “giver”. I passed on asthma, allergies, lactose intolerance and several other itis’s to her, somehow leaving my son unscathed. This is something she reminds me of often and with extreme prejudice.
OCD manifests itself in some people with extreme symptoms such as rituals they are compelled to perform before leaving the house, when eating, or performing any manner of life’s day-to-day endeavors for most of us non-threatening. In my earlier years I knew a woman who had to schedule at least a half an hour extra in the morning to get herself to work, just to get out the front door. Each lock, and there were many, had to be tried and retried before she could push herself to leave the house and go to her car. It was agonizing for her, and took a long bout of therapy to help her learn to manage it.
A friend of mine has an adult child who counts food. If potato chips are the choice for a snack, six will be laid out. Not seven, not five, nor twelve, but always six. As a child this same person couldn’t have her food touching. The potatoes stayed on one side of the plate, the meat on another and the vegetable in a third corner. She ate them in a sequence, following the same sequence each time she took a forkful. Potatoes, meat, veggie, potatoes, meat veggie. This, would put me in a padded room. Fortunately, she outgrew the sequential eating but to this day will lay six chips, crackers, or candies on the table and recount them carefully before they go in her mouth.
With my mother it is order. If I set the newspaper on the counter, she will walk by, look at it, and feel moved to have to adjust it one inch in either direction apparently until it’s perfectly centered to her mind’s eye. I tend to mess up this scenario for her preferring actually to read my newspaper rather than admire it from a distance in its perfectly symmetrical environment. Each morning the newspaper is taken apart, folded, and placed in exactly the same spot in exactly the same order it was the day before. The other morning the newspaper delivery person had the effrontery to deliver a paper missing Section C which nearly threw of the entire day. I make fun, but for people dealing with this disorder I’m sure it is less than that.
As she’s gotten older, this has become far more pronounced than when I lived under the same roof. Cans are lined up with like cans, labels facing forward, towels hang on the stove reading “Dishes” and “Hands” and by God you better not dry a dish with the “hands” towel or dry your hands on the “dishes” towel or there will be hell to pay. There is a specific fork or utensil designated for everything. If you’re eating grapefruit you will be handed a grapefruit fork. It would unthinkable to spread butter with anything other than the designated butter spreader, even though she has probably seven drawers of silverware available each stocked with butter knives, ahem, suitable of spreading the soft stuff across the bread.
To add to the mix, an old family friend moved in after my stepfather passed away and now rents her spare room. A retired dentist, and a lovely easy-going spirit on the best of days, the man is the exact opposite of my mother in every way. To begin with he’s a mess pot. You don’t need a forensic scientist to determine what his last meal consisted of, because there are usually remnants of it evident on his shirt and/or pants. Having a laissez-faire attitude in the kitchen, what drops on the counter, stays on the counter. What falls to the floor, remains as it has landed. If living alone this chaos would go totally unnoticed by him but at Mother’s, thanks to her diligent kitchen patrol, it will immediately be brought to his attention. Watching the two of them interact could keep me entertained for hours.
From what I’ve read OCD can be inherited. This is good news. It is triggered sometimes by physical ailments, or possibly emotional trauma or stress. Our brains are such amazing organs, it is impossible to know the full extent of the reasons behind why we humans do the strange things we do. I would imagine this will be a question mark poised in the dialog bubble of scientists and researchers for many years to come. It begs the question, do some chimpanzees eat only three bananas at a time, or feel the need to keep a tidy tree while others are content to languish in filth and disarray? Is this only a human specific ailment?
Another common behavior associate with OCD is hand washing or fear of contamination. I cannot count on all my digits how many times I was asked if something was still good in the refrigerator or if it should be thrown out while visiting my mother. A package of bacon which had been in the refrigerator for 4-5 days with a sell by date of two weeks down the road was questioned simply because it had been in the refrigerator for that length of time. For me having to worry about all that 24/7 must be extremely exhausting. I prefer to opt on the side of safety, but not hang my hat on every sell by or use by date as if at midnight on the night indicated I have to rouse myself out of bed and take inventory of my refrigerator discarding anything on the way out.
For someone not going through this every day, it seems silly, but then I have an irrational issue with bees and their kin, that some people might view the same way. As I’ve mentioned I’ve bailed off a moving boat with one buzzing about my head, and gotten out of a car making a right hand turn when finding one sharing my space in the front seat. We all have our little quirks and nuances making up the whole of our being. The quest is to love someone with all their dings and notches, rather than only when they’re picture perfect.
At any rate, I’m home again. Boo, the Queen of Cats, was most delighted to find her treat provider and partner in crime occupying the right side of the bed. I adore my mom and miss her but it was a relief to use any old spoon out of the drawer for my cereal this morning without having to locate a “cereal spoon”. Ach.
These are truly my go to potatoes when I have a nice piece of meat fired on the grill. Yum.
Crispy Broasted Potatoes
8 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 Tbsp. butter, cubed
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. Montreal Chicken Seasoning Mix
1/2 tsp. Lawry’s Garlic Salt
Salt and Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Spray bottom of 13 x 9″ casserole dish.
Cover potatoes with water in large saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low boil and continue cooking about 8 mins. just to take the raw off, not to cook fully. Drain.
Spread potatoes in single layer on bottom of pan. Distribute butter around the pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with seasonings. Toss to coat well.
Place in oven for 1 hr. or until crispy and brown, stirring every 10 mins.