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Another volunteer holiday ornament has shown up! This is a buffalo gourd, a native Texan and member of the squash family. They pop up all on their own, with large, gray-green, fuzzy, heart-shaped leaves that I never really notice. Then, voila! A yellow tennis ball sized gourd appears. Sometimes I pick them and put them in a bowl on the table like Christmas ornaments. This year my bowl is already full of ripening lemons, so I just took a picture.

I read somewhere that buffalo gourd was being investigated as a source for commercial starch production. I have no idea why we would need commercially produced starch, but there you have it. You can say you knew buffalo gourd before it got famous and stuck up.

You may have noticed I like the word voila, especially with an exclamation point. Voila, of course, is French for “and there you have it,” but for me it connotes something that magically appears with no effort. It’s what you would say if you were a French magician at the moment you pull the rabbit out of your hat. When nature supplies me with something interesting, beautiful, or useful, I think, “Voila! Enough lemons to last the whole year!”

In a caregiver’s life you need some moments like this because there are so many moments that are just the opposite. A backwards voila would be “aliov.” An aliov moment is when you just got dinner bubbling on the stove and your patient shoves her wet swimsuit and dirty socks into the pan with the food. You don’t wonder whether this sort of thing happens. You know it does, if you are taking care of someone with dementia.

Some days its seems you just can’t run fast enough up the down escalator to make any progress. You may be having that kind of week. It can be pretty tiring to work so hard to move things in the right direction and to feel like there is a monster at the top of the mountain pushing an avalanche of boulders down to undo whatever you’ve done.

Take this difficulty making progress as a sign that you can rest a little, since things may all come undone in a short while anyway. Give yourself a small break. Maybe you will stop and pick up burritos for dinner instead of cooking. It’s a self-fulfilling voila. Voila! There’s dinner!

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