The Little French English Improvement Project

little french person trying to improve her english, little french english person trying to improve herself, french english person trying to improve a little bit… and blogging along the way. (Now in Deutschland)

Posts Tagged ‘alzheimer’s disease’

Granny recipes against alzheimer.

Posted by Alice Challet - alicethefrog on March 2, 2012

My old friend insomnia is back! It is now half past five in the morning and I have been staring at this very uninteresting ceiling for the past seven hours. Silent sleep has deserted me and in its place, ideas and thoughts bouncing off the walls like pin balls and hitting me regularly with a loud clanging ping sound. How am I supposed to sleep with all that racket? I try counting enough sheep to muffle up the noise but some ideas just ram through (he he) and get me anyway. Most of them are useless (doing push ups until it tires me out –  I don’t think so) so I send them back on their merry way until the next time they fly by. Other ideas I keep and let roll about in my head for a while until I can make sense of them. One of those tonight has turned out to be a gem.

Because you see, I have got a charity place in the Great North Run. It is now official: on the 16th of September I will be running 13 miles wearing an Alzheimer’s Society T-shirt and that not only involves some training and running shoes, but also a fair amount of fundraising (a minimum of £375 to be exact). I was mulling this over when a series of notions zoomed my way:

ߛ The solution to most of life’s challenges is cake ===> ie: bake sale.

ߛ Fact: grannies make the best cakes. There always used to be a tart, clafoutis or cake on my Grandma’s kitchen table in the good old days when she could still tell the difference between lemon and washing liquid. It was systematically a little burnt around the edges but no one cared, it tasted delish.

 ߛ I have been meaning to meet little german grannies ever since I got here. One of the point of coming to Germany was to meet the locals, and grandmas have been around for a while, they should have a lot to tell. I also of course always intended to ask them about their favourite typical recipes ; food tends to be a good starting point for any conversation.

ߛ My very good friend Steph mentioned something about old people’s homes…


I have already drawn up a list of old people’s homes to get in touch with to see if I could come in and chat with the residents about cake. The security levels surrounding grannies’ kitchen secrets are normally extremely high, but with a bit of luck I might be able to coax out one or two recipes, round up a couple of friends and organise a bake sale at university. I like the idea of getting grandmas involved. It’s such a shame I did not get to know mine better before Alzheimer’s disease caught up with her. Hopefully this whole thing might also encourage other people to get in touch with their grans and get them baking…(and send me the recipes?)

However before I call all these people it would probably be a good thing to get some sleep. Night-o.


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Alzheimer’s. Memories going, going,… gone.

Posted by Alice Challet - alicethefrog on February 21, 2011

I apparently live in Orsonette, a 210-strong french village, with goats. and apparently I can enter competitions with them and all sorts of things. Apparently I also have a sidekick in those thrilling activities… Who knows the depth and complexities of this fleeting other life. Certainly not I, nor my grandmother probably, though she is the only one who ever mentioned it to me. And to think that only a couple of years ago, she referred to me exclusively as “the one who travels around Europe”. My life with prize-goats in Orsonette seems a far stretch from there…But most days my face doesn’t bring out anything in her at all, no reaction, just a quizzical look as I walk to her : what can this young woman want? Is she coming towards me? I do believe she is, let’s smile. Hullo? Who can this be? It’s hard to imagine what is going on in her head. Like many people in the French countryside, she was always very private. So now that she is lost in the meanders of her memory, it has become completely impossible to read what goes on behind her clouded eyes. Confusion, mostly, but sometimes flashes of recognition. Judging by the Orsonnette goatherd comment though, these can be off target. At least it makes for conversation and good jokes.

But in spite of those bright, funny, odd little moments, I miss my grandma. And I can’t help but regret I never got to know her any better. From what I’ve been told, she was an amazing person, full of recipes and songs and stories and anecdotes waiting to be teased out. A great woman, who had lived through so much, supporting a family, raising four sons… I often get the impression she was the one to make people feel welcome in what was certainly a bit of a gruff family.  These days someone comes every now and again to ask my grandad about his life and memories, who he was, what he did, who he met… I bet a few years ago my grandma would have had so much to say on the subject. She was very discreet but always there, and she herself was involved into quite a lot of things: the parish, a local school…

I guess I always took her for granted; when I was small she was someone to go to for pain d’épices or clafoutis aux cerises. Her cakes were always slightly burnt round the edges, but so very nice with a bowl of hot chocolate after school. It was always her I went to see. Papy with his rough french farmer’s manners and his mayor importance, was a lot more intimidating. Plus grandma was often engaged in what seemed like unusual and exciting activities: sewing on buttons and drying up all sorts of herbs for tisanes (herbal teas)… She taught me half a dozen times how to knit and crochet. We are so lucky to have had our grandparents around as we were growing up, they literally lived next door (Papy still does), and they were always there when we needed them. I remember when Mam was away on a school trip, it was grandma who came and got us up in the morning and madesure we had some breakfast and were ready for school. For some reason, I always associate her with sweet things: hot chocolate, honey… I really miss that grandma, and I miss the grandma I never really got to know: by the time I was grown up enough to have adult conversations, she was already slowly sinking into oblivion.

And now we go and visit her in her special home and make pretend conversation until she rallies and drops in a sentence, a joke, a random comment on my life with goats in Orsonette, and we have a laugh and everyone is cheerful for a minute or two. But when we leave her to her dinner and go back home, her home, her mother’s house which she couldn’t ever recognise again, I can’t help a little twinge of sadness. Because I miss having my Grandma Challet around, Marguerite, Guite, Chef.

Grandma in her garden

Grandma in her garden

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