The Farmer in the Dining Room

October 14, 2013

“Well, now they’ve gone and put a farmer between me and the elevator,” Alice called to tell me yesterday.

She tried briefly to explain how this happened but grew frustrated when I couldn’t quite get the picture. I decided to take a trip over to The Place to have a look.

When I got there she’d forgotten about the farmer. She had business to discuss. She handed me a pile of bills she’d been collecting. “Old business,” she said. “Can you take care of these?”

She wanted me to change a light bulb and get rid of some ants. She’d mentioned last week that she was out of Raid so she’d been using a new method, hair spray. She pointed to a tall can on the counter and I sprayed. It seemed to work.

Next she took out some catalogs. “New business.” We went through the folded-over pages and I tucked the catalogs into my pack.

Then we watched puppies on television for about half an hour while Brio slept on the couch. The puppies were doing lots of cute things with each other, as well as with babies, hamsters, hedgehogs, cats, and kittens. Sometimes Alice couldn’t make out the picture on the screen but she laughed along anyway.

Nadine doesn’t like dogs,” she told me for the hundredth time. She shakes her head every time she says this. It’s beyond comprehension, a big strike against her dining room partner.

I didn’t have my iPad with me so she didn’t get to see this way too short video of a baby teaching his dogs to crawl, but I described it to her.

It made us happy to think that, despite the insanity of various governments, including and maybe especially our own, people all over the world are trying to cheer themselves and each other up by showing animal and baby videos.

Next, we ate cake provided by our friend, Justin, who lifted our spirits by sending this gift when we were having a bad week:
Harry and David-mt-baker-holiday-gift-basket
Isn’t that amazing? I froze most of it so that Alice and I won’t gulp it all down at once.

By the time I finished licking frosting off my fingers I’d nearly forgotten why I was there. “Wait now. What’s this about a farmer blocking the elevator?”

“You might recall,” Alice said, “that I like to watch the elevator while I’m waiting for the meal to start. Mr. Fickle comes down the elevator and lots of other people I want to see use it too. It’s near my table.”

She doesn’t see faces but she can discern familiar shapes spilling out of the elevator for mealtimes. She likes to wave and say hello.

“Now I can’t see anything at all,” she said, “because of this farmer on the counter top. Right there!” She pointed at an imaginary counter top to her left. “He’s in my way. And there’s a bale of hay, too. Go look if you don’t believe me.”

Brio heard “Go” and jumped off the couch. We left Alice to wander in search of a farmer and his bale of hay. We walked through the solarium, which Alice used to call the Rosary Room. Since Mr. Fickle no longer oversees prayers there and since she can’t remember the word “solarium” (not a word often used in Iowa), she calls this sunny room with the lamb and the shepherd “the coliseum.”

The One Lamb of God

Brio stopped by the coffee shop for some love.

Brio_coffee shop

Then we rounded the corner of the dining room where Alice’s table sits and we spotted these items:

Pumpkin farmer


Down the way stood a punkin-headed man with some piece of nature growing out of his punkin brain:

Pumpkin headed man with odd plant growing from brain.

Man with odd plant growing from brain.

Next we came upon a Jack-o-Lantern with what appeared to be a squirrel emerging from its nose:

Pumpkin with squirrel in nose

And a sister pumpkin farmer:

Sister Pumpkin Farmer

On we went to Mirabel’s piano where these Things were resting:


On the far side of the room was another odd display:

Ghost, Pumpkin, Eyeball

Ghoul, Pumpkin, Eyeball

Brio got bored with no actual human around to get petted by, but I was pleased to see that, despite The Place’s consistently haphazard approach to decoration, I could put together the intended mixture of themes: autumn, Hallowe’en, harvest.

We headed back to report on the tour to Alice, but when we neared the solarium once again, we found this sitting next to a snow globe.

Is she planning to eat that chocolate rabbit with those two sharp teeth?

No wonder there’s confusion.


This is the best of how autumn is affecting me.

Cannonball Adderley…Alto Saxophone
Miles Davis……………….Trumpet
Art Blakey………………….Drums
Sam Jones………………..Double Bass
Hank Jones……………….Piano

16 Responses to “The Farmer in the Dining Room”

  1. Nance Matthews Says:

    Dear Andrea, You don’t know me, but I am a friend of Cathy Cruikshank’s. I love your blog…My father and my grandmother both had dementia before they left this planet, and now my ex-motherinlaw is 96–still living at home and doing pretty well, but this so reminds me of our visits. Thanks for a great blog. Nance Matthews


  2. Oh, that music! Thank you for posting the baby’dog video and the music, especially. The decor at The Place is awe-inspiring, to say the least.


  3. I suppose The Place is ready for just about any event! There I was, thinking there was a real farmer hogging the space :-)


  4. Sandra Yudilevich Espinoza Says:

    o.k. The music is exquisite (of course!) and, frankly, made me cry (not a bad thing); reminded me of Sam (my non-bio dad) and Abraham (my bio dad) and Robert who introduced me to/helped me appreciate the music. The decor, well, it is confounding to me…made me chuckle to hear how Alice “sees” what the staff put out as decoration….but this is for another day/conversation. As always, thanks for sharing.


  5. Cheryl Says:

    Funny one, your silly sense of humor makes everything right in the world, Andrea. Something about this post reminds me of Leb and his peculiar approach to decorating, dressing, etc. Question: Did you move the farmer? I am itching to do so!


  6. cmflet Says:

    Of course I initially thought there was a real farmer between Alice and the elevator — a new arrival, perhaps, to give Mr. Fickle a run for his money! Alas that it’s only straw. But good for Alice that it will be gone soon.


  7. Once an Iowan, always an Iowan. Send those farmers home.


  8. Pene Fedro Says:

    Try Peppermint oil to discourage ants.

    Those of us who grew up in Iowa are always proud to be Iowans, even if we live in Montana.


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