Blogging Challenge · dementia · family · Life

Vodka and Ho-hos

Last week I attended a dementia care conference with Helen.

The conference was informative, but quite honestly, for me, the day was more about spending time with my daughter than about going to a conference. Helen is excited about pursuing something in nursing that supports caregivers and our aging population. Seeing her excited, passionate, and so engaged was worth the price of the conference.

At one point, one of the speakers mentioned going into the home of a person with dementia and looking in their refrigerator. The only things in it were vodka and Ho-Hos.

Helen leaned over to me and whispered, “That could be the title of a blog.”

“What?” I asked.

“You know, Vodka and Ho-Hos, like Hot Dogs and Marmalade,” she said.

I’ve gotten so used to Hot Dogs and Marmalade as my blog name that I don’t even think about it anymore. Probably new readers just think it’s a quirky name, or that I’m weird, or both. Both have some truth.

It’s more than a quirky name, though. It goes back to when my mother, in her dementia, was putting marmalade on everything. She would gaze lovingly at the jar of marmalade on the counter, placing her hand on it, like it was a long-lost friend. She put a layer of marmalade on casseroles, on leftover Chinese food, on ham sandwiches, and, yes, on hot dogs.

I tried to think what blog title I would choose now, as I care for my father. Here are two of my thoughts:

  • Jumbling the Jumble — His spelling has gotten more and more creative. When he does the Daily Jumble, he creates words that almost look like words which make them the hardest jumbles to unjumble. In the same way, his intellect makes his dementia much harder to recognize by people who don’t know him. He sounds so reasonable.
  • External Dialogue — His internal dialogue has become external. I’ll listen to him sitting on the sun porch. He’ll say, “I’m sitting here watching the birds. That one seems to like the food. I wonder what kind it is. It’s getting warm in here. Maybe I should change my shirt. Oh, look! Another bird.” It’s fascinating in some ways. I’ve asked him who he is talking to and he answers, “Myself!” as if that’s most natural thing in the world.

But I’ll stick with Hot Dogs and Marmalade — salty and sweet — like life.

(Also, I don’t like change.)

Trying to inspire myself to write more, I found this blogging challenge on I’ll give it a try for June.


8 thoughts on “Vodka and Ho-hos

  1. In the Urick household, it’s Beer and “Donies” — same thing: the contents of the fridge.

  2. It is a wonderful name but since I think of you as Sally Hotdogs I would really struggle to make the change. My tiny brain would short circuit and I would start calling you ho-ho hotdogs …. that challenge is a good one – if I continue to struggle to find a muse I might join in. It appeals.

    1. A very dear friend made that picture. Little details in it show how well she knows me. It’s one of my favorite things hanging on the wall in my room.

  3. I like the idea of that blog challenge! I’ve been floundering a bit and needing some inspiration. I’m laughing at the comments on your post title. It really is an interesting combo and intriguing (possible) blog name!

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