HLRGazette Archives

Relive some of our best stories.

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Holly Lake Effect

E-mail Print PDF

Holly Lake Effect


Hi! How are you? My name is......???

I am

in mourning for what I cannot remember.Actually I think this is the opening line of a poem I once wrote when I couldn't remember my telephone number.

Now I can't remember if I have a telephone.

What a telephone looks like.

If a telephone is important.

Same with a lot of other stuff.

Did I buy milk yesterday; can I remember without a peek at the refrigerator?

I can take a good guess—I know what a milk bottle looks like, or I should say a milk box. Way back when did we ever think milk would come in a box?

Lots of things have changed and maybe it's a good thing that we can't remember the originals.

Castor oil, for instance. It always used to remind me of oranges but I can't recall why.

If you can remember castor oil you ought to be able to remember whether or not your car needs an oil change,.

I'm thankful that the people who change it remember to paste a little notice in the upper left hand corner of the windshield.

Maybe we could do that to help us remember other things.

A blooming plant—bright red and bigger than a breadbox—in a pot right next to my front door—tells me that this is my house, that I have a key that will let me in...that is if I can remember which key it is.. Sigh of relief. I remember it's the one with the dab of bright red lipstick just over the part that goes into the lock. The red on the key matches the red on the pot plant. I did something right! In at last. Ah yes, it's my house—the furniture looks familiar...who else would have four piles of books on top of the coffee table and more books spread out over the livingroom sofa?

Now I know that memory fog is a serious thing. Not to be laughed at. It's even been given a medical name though I can't remember what it is. I think it sounds like "vichi-soiz" or maybe "arborvita".

Thank goodness –I say from time to time—that I cook like my mother....a pinch of this, a dash of that, who cares how many teaspoons? Just tilt the can slightly and let a few puffs of whatever's inside fall into the stew. I hope this is the stew and not tomorrow's oatmeal. I give a quick thanks for the faculty of recognition. I am looking at meat and carrots; therefore this is not oatmeal.

Somebody gave me an address. Important. A very simple address like 123 Avenue C or something like that. Or was it Avenue A? A consonant or a vowel? The way to get your recall process going is to run down the alphabet. All you need to remember about the woman who has tomato plants for sale is that she has a last name you would instantly recognize if you only knew the letter it started with. Maybe it's A—Apple, Author, Adversity. You can run down all 26 letters of the alphabet—the only requirement is time. If you think her name is like some kind of fruit (Appleby, Pearsall, Plummer) you can quickly run down a list of all the fruits you know. But is an avocado a fruit? You go to the dictionary to look it up. This is a sure way to get sidetracked because the moment you look up avocado you remember a delicious salad using avocadoes and the recipe is somewhere in this folder. It would be perfect for an upcoming social for which some kind of food is required.

This kind of research is excellent for vocabulary building. If you're not more than a casual friend of a dictionary, it can open all sorts of new vistas. A synonym for lost, for example. Astray. I have gone astray. Could you tell me where I live? This will not help if you are in a foreign country or are lost at sea. Or if you are on a street where all the houses look alike and one of them (which one?) is yours. You have to have a clue as to which casa is your casa. Remember the red plant.

The loss of memory is not the end of the world. You lose one friend, you find another. The dictionary in this case. Or the alphabet. Call it a learning experience. There's a lot of new stuff out there to replace the old. As the world turns so it changes. You can be a winner even if you don't know what day of the week this is. Thanks to your new friendship with the dictionary you're probably the only one on your block who knows what preternatural means and can use it in a sentence.