Mise en Place

Mise en place
(French pronunciation:  [mi zɑ̃ ˈplas]) is a French culinary phrase which means “putting in place” or “everything in its place”. It refers to the setup required before cooking, and is often used in professional kitchens to refer to organizing and arranging the ingredients.

I’ve started watching the “Worst Cooks in America” as a filler for the daily news I usually watch, as a Lenten sacrifice. It’s on the Food Network.

I have extreme Frontotemporal issues plus ADHD, so for years my brain crumbles more and more trying to perform simple, routine tasks. Morning wake up tasks. Picking up & sorting the mail. Laundry! Starting something but finishing something else. Getting lost — in this building, a city, or my kitchen.

Mise en place.






I knew to wash up as I cooked, and I loved cooking! But I began to get confused. I’d leave something in the oven and would find it burned. Or forget an ingredient. Or wake up and find my kitchen looked like it had been burgled, milk in the cupboard, perishables on the counter.

The faucet running when I came downstairs upon waking. The freezer door open…

Mise en place. Everything in its place.

And after 25 viewings of Ratatouille, the animated movie about a rat who desperately wanted to be a human chef, I began to get it. Kinda.

  1. Before I even begin, I need time to make a list.
  2. I need everything I will need in front of me before I even begin. Whatever the task.
  3. An emotional task might require family or friends, Kleenex, wastebasket, notepads and pencils with erasers. And someone to hold me as I get lost, and I will.
  4. I need to know mise en place encompasses beginning to end, the closure. Left open, I am overwhelmed.
  5. A trash can. Doesn’t matter if food, beauty or mail, my mise en place must include this. Sometimes it’s an emotional container, but nothing can be left on my table. Else I will return to the same task each day, through the night, and in every spare moment.

Last year I volunteered to make simple deviled eggs. It took 3 days. The shopping. The boiling. The cooling. The peeling. The rinsing. The cutting. Removing & mashing the yolks, adding the spices, mayo & mustard, cooling, piping and decoration with paprika and parsley. Finally, plating. And wrapping. And cleaning up and putting away. Something I used to do while making an entire dinner & dessert.


One day my Occupational Therapist asked, “How would you wash your hair?”

I told her I’d get everything ready: towel for my hair, towel to kneel on, shampoo & conditioner, brush and dryer. I’d disengage the shower head, tuck in my collar and begin to wash my hair.

She was puzzled. “Why do you kneel?”

“My sink has no hose so I’d have to wash my hair in the tub,” I replied.

Again she asked, “Why do you kneel?”

“My tub has been cut down to a 4 inch side for safety, so I have to lean far over to not flood the bathroom floor.”

She could see I’d thought this out. “I really thought you’d say, while in the shower, I’d wash my hair.”

I replied, “You didn’t ask how I’d take a shower.”

Mise en place.

~ Papa? It’s Vicki. I’m in place, I guess…


Permanent link to this article: https://soncountry.net/voice/2020/03/mise-en-place/


Looking for some light TV entertainment a couple of weeks ago, I decided to watch an episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, a 1969-1974 BBC television series I hadn’t watched in many years. It was just what I remembered: zany, high-energy, silly… British humour on steroids! Did I mention silly? It was great fun to watch.

Monty Python was back in my life today, but for a very different reason. While reading our local newspaper, I saw this short item:

The idea of a Monty Python founder fading gently away is such a Contrast with the person I’ve seen in television and film for much of my life. FTD – Frontotemporal Dementia – brings radical change to a person’s life and the people around them. Over time, usually a relatively short time, the person with FTD changes, eventually to the point of needing constant care. From what I’ve seen and learned, the impact on marriages and families tends to lead to one of three responses:

    • Support — Caregiving by family and friends, even when the personality and behavior of the person with FTD becomes challenging as the disease worsens
    • Denial — Family members and friends don’t accept the reality of the person’s FTD, saying the symptoms and behaviors are caused by something less serious
    • Destruction — Breakup, abandonment of marriages, families who can’t cope with their new reality

In the 10 years since Vicki’s FTD diagnosis, she’s experienced significant changes in her life. Most of the time, she’s doing what she can to fight the disease, to slow it down. (There is no cure.) I love her strength in not wanting to give up and give in. But honestly, there are also many days and seasons when she gets tired of the fight and wonders if she can keep it up. Papa, prayers, and caring family and a few friends keep her going. Vicki is truly blessed. Even at times when it’s hard to find the blessing.

Coming back around to Monty Python and Terry Jones’s recent death because of FTD, as I write this I don’t know details of Terry Jones’s struggle with FTD and subsequent passing. I’ve met people after the passing of a spouse or family member who’ve shared a positive experience of being with their loved one even though it was a difficult and heartbreaking experience. I also know people with FTD who have experienced isolation and suffering without any support after their marriages or family relationships tragically ended.

I hope that Terry Jones was supported and cared for as his life was ending, and that he’s now experiencing true peace.

And I am profoundly grateful for the Grace and support that Vicki experiences in our long journey with FTD.

Thank you, Papa.


Permanent link to this article: https://soncountry.net/voice/2020/01/contrasts/

Del Webb, Anyone?

Sun City, Arizona Home

A home in Sun City, Arizona. Sun City is the original development by Del Webb “For Active Adults 55+” and opened in 1960.

It doesn’t matter whether you choose a luxurious house like those found in a Del Webb community, or a low-income Senior housing situation. It’s all the same.

At some point you will realize you are in your final act. You can learn to make sushi rolls with a bamboo mat, sit on residential boards, do the daily morning news at your PA system, but it’s all the same.

This is your Last Act.

Last week, in my retirement villa, a woman I had known from a distance was found in her apartment. Dead. Two weeks before I was with her at a beginning crochet class. I asked to take photos of us, to prove to my kids I had actually left my apartment. She ducked her head. In a bit, since we were next to one another and she clearly was a wonderful crocheter, she mumbled she made lap afghans for the Veterans home. After that she was silent.

Only after that afternoon did she acknowledge my presence as we passed in the hall. She would look up, blink, and we moved on.

I called her, in my mind, the little country mouse – like in my childhood stories. Tiny. Quiet.

And before I got to know her, she was gone.

It could have been Del Webb’s. Or my retirement home. Or on the street, where I think Bonnie came from.

Rest In Peace, dearest soul.  Where you are now I pray supersedes anything you knew here.

I know you passed in a warm home, well fed, with the promise of better days ahead. I believe you finally have those days.

Save me a place…


Permanent link to this article: https://soncountry.net/voice/2020/01/del-webb-anyone/

I’ve Missed You

I’ve missed you. This past year has been a bit of a challenge for me. I moved from a home and town I loved, to a new town and a new way of life — a retirement community! My choice.

I’m near all my children now, and my youngest grand babies who are 3 months, 3 and 5 years old. I’ve not had this privilege since my kids all lived at home and we all lived in Grayling. So that’s a big deal. (Thank you, Papa 🙏🏼)

But with that joy comes a condition I don’t do well: change. Like this image, my life has been a series of cocoons and emergence.  This year has seen many stronger cocoons, with each time taking more strength than I have on my own to break free of.

And so, I have been focused on just one thing:  To fight the prison my mind is determined to create, adapt to my new life, and have a longer period outside of the cocoon than in. Does that make sense?

With this post, and the “Prayer for the President” that was posted 3  days ago [“I Don’t Hate Anyone!”], I’m seeing a ‘breakthrough’ which gives me hope. Don’t expect miraculous results — though they truly are — I’ll still be me. A little bent, a little broken, but me.

Might be a while for the wings. Might even be a moth. But I’m still here.

And that leads me to the rest of the story.  Stick around. This may be interesting.

Love you, thank you for your patience. Your prayers.


Permanent link to this article: https://soncountry.net/voice/2019/12/ive-missed-you/

“I Don’t Hate Anyone!”

“I Don’t Hate Anyone!” was in the headlines this morning, attributed to Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, when asked if she hated the president. “I pray for the president every day.” 

Well, Nancy, so do I. I pray my own respectfully expanded version of a prayer written in 2009 by Bishop Robert J. Baker of the Diocese of Birmingham, Alabama.*

A Prayer for Our President and Public Officials

Lord God, Author of Life and source of eternal life, move the hearts of all our public officials, and especially our president, to fulfill their responsibilities worthily and well to all entrusted to their care.

Help them in their special leadership roles, to extend the mantle of protection to the most vulnerable, especially the defenseless unborn, the poor and homeless, the elderly, our children and the infirm, the stranger, those marginalized and the abused — all of those whose lives are threatened by an indifferent society.

Guide all public officials by your wisdom and grace to cease supporting any law that fails to protect the fundamental good that is all human life itself, which is a gift from God.

You are the protector and defender of the lives of the innocent unborn and the anawim**. Change the hearts of those who compromise the call to protect and defend all life. Bring our nation to the values that have made us a great nation, a society that upholds the values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all.

Mary, Mother of the Living, help us to bear witness to the Gospel of Life, with our lives and our laws, through Christ our Lord.


Of course, the prayer could be as simple as “Oh God, help our nation!”, which seems appropriate for many occasions and religions.  As well as “Thank God!”  — Which may be the most important of all.

Blessings, Vicki 

* Imprimatur: January 23, 2009 + Most Reverend Robert J. Baker, Bishop of the Diocese of Birmingham in Alabama. His prayer can be found in the Catholic Prayers: Official app, available for iOS and Android.

** Anawim (pronounced ann-a-weem) are the vulnerable people of a society.


Permanent link to this article: https://soncountry.net/voice/2019/12/i-dont-hate-anyone/