Tonight it is Chicken Fried Rice

I did not know that fried rice recipes are intended to use up left over rice from the previous day or two until I looked for recipes for (something) fried rice to make tonight for dinner.

Yesterday when Cheryl was making me nervous in the kitchen that is what she kept talking about, fried rice. So last night after I apologized profusely I told her tonight we would make fried rice together. We did. She did some of the chopping and egg scrambling. I did the frying over the hot part of the stove. It worked and it was pretty darn good.

In preparation last night I cooked some rice and put into the fridge. I took some frozen chicken out of the freezer and put it in the fridge to thaw. Tonight we chopped and fried and stirred and cooked.

The general activity:

  • 1 chicken breast – pounded, salt and peppered, chopped into thin strips
  • 3 large eggs – scrambled with a little water
  • 1 C. frozen mixed veggies, pick out the big green beans and chop them smaller. My package has peas, carrots, corn and green beans
  • 1 medium size yellow onion chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. of garlic pepper. I was out of garlic cloves. I usually have some. Use two if you have some.
  • 2-3 tsp. of sesame oil
  • 2-3 tsp of soy sauce (plain old LaChoy)
  • salt and pepper
  • vegetable oil for frying

I don’t own a wok. I used to own a wok. I am more familiar with a 12 inch cast iron skillet that I own. It works fine for this kind of stuff. We have had it for fifty years or so so it is well seasoned.

Fry the eggs after Cheryl turns them into scrambled mix. I add a little water to them like the Frugal Gourmet taught me years ago. (Remember him? Sad. He has some good recipes though. I kept his books.) Fry the eggs with about a tsp. of vegetable oil. remove them to a plate and chop them into pieces you will add them back later. After marinating the chicken chopped into thin strips for a bit in sesame oil and salt and pepper (I also pounded it out into a flat shape as though I was going to make chicken-fried-chicken ala Cracker Barrel) add a tablespoon or so of vegetable oil in the skillet and cook the chicken to golden brown. (Gently you can go too far.) Toss in the onion and garlic. Keep frying. Toss in the frozen veggies. (At some point you may feel the need to add more vegetable oil. Be careful.) Keep frying. Dump in the pre-cooked rice. Keep frying. Add a little sesame oil and taste it. Keep frying. when you are ready add the soy sauce. I guessed two tablespoons or so, but I do not measure at this point. I taste. It might need a little salt or more soy sauce. — Probably 30 minutes from beginning to the end and eating.

I should have taken a picture but we ate most of it before I thought to do that. I gotta get more Tik Tok. I rarely think to photograph foods that I am preparing unless I have impressed myself.

Carpe Diem.

She wants to Cook

Cheryl wants to cook something and I am afraid that she will harm herself. I cannot get past that.

Yesterday after our doctor appointment in the early afternoon, we stopped at Dewey’s pizza for a late lunch. Somehow the white pizza showed up with red sauce on it but mistakes happen and the pizza was good, just not what we had ordered. (That is the second time in a week that the incorrect pizza showed up at our table. Perhaps we need to expand our cuisine. ) Nevertheless, lunch was good and we returned home to do nothing for a bit. Cheryl lapsed into one of her punding/do something modes and began futzing with making something in the kitchen for dinner at 3 in the afternoon.

It made me nervous and I suppose what I should have done was sit in the kitchen to read my book and keep an eye on things. But I did not. I just popped in to check occasionally and point out that we did not need dinner for awhile as we had had lunch at 2:30 pm.

Family dynamics are hard to break. Before Parkinson she did most of the cooking and I stuck to my baking hobby out of the way at the other end of the kitchen. I stayed out of the way when she was cooking. My opinion was not solicited nor encouraged in our old house. Cheryl was a good cook and in my new duties as cook among other things I have tried to duplicate many of our old favorite recipes. Sometimes I would botch them up but most times they turned out the same. (Thanks, Betty Crocker.) These days when she gets in a mood to cook, things can turn out badly, but, more importantly, she has fallen in the kitchen as often as anywhere else and I worry that she will put her hand on a burner or fall into the hot oven.

When I could not gently steer her away from her “cooking” – she was boiling two eggs – I became angry and upset and tried to explain the danger to someone who sees none.

And last night she slept poorly. I blame me for that. Lot’s of emotion swirling around in her head as she tried to sleep left her fidgety and awake until almost four am. Even the big new bed did not help.

Carpe sad Diem. An opportunity to make a memory was lost to anxiety and anger. But tonight we will make something together. I will do better this time.

She is sleeping late today.

Carpe Diem … again.

Weighing Future Options

Cheryl’s Parkinson’s disease interlaced with dementia has taken a turn to the negative over the past three months. It is tough but necessary for us to explore extra help and other options to our living situation.

I feel a sense of sadness. It is not exactly that I have failed because I recognize in my heart that her disease has a progression. I suppose it is a progression that I had not anticipated.

I also feel a sense of relief, an acceptance of the fact that I cannot do it all alone anymore. I recognize that we have to do something different. That first recognition came when I decided to buy a new bed and change our sleeping arrangements. At least, I thought a split king would keep us from awakening each other at night.

We drifted off to bed about 10 PM after watching a couple of her favorite shows on television and visiting with her sister for a couple hours. We probably eventually fell asleep about 10:30. Overnight I got up to go to the toilet twice and the second time around 3 AM she got up with me and seemed as though she wanted to stay up. I had prepared to sleep on the sofa bed we had and then she came out looking for me. We had our often discussion about church and I suggested we lay down for two more hours and then get up. She got up at quarter til noon.

I got up around 8:30. It was bliss.

I took the time to call the assisted living facility nearby that had housed both of our mothers at the end of their life. I still refuse to believe that we are here yet BUT it does not hurt to find out about various options to move forward from here.

I also set up a couple doctor appointments. She is having problems hearing occasionally. And I wonder about a UTI.

Carpe Diem.

More steps on the journey

Complaints

Today it occurred to me as I cleaned the Kleenex lint from the washer and dryer for the nth time, it was doing no good for me to lodge a complaint with Cheryl about putting tissues in her pocket. It also occurred to me that although I beat myself up about missing the tissues in her pocket, I will probably often miss one once in awhile.

Dementia is not a specific disease but is rather a general term for the impaired ability to remember, think, or make decisions that interferes with doing everyday activities. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. Though dementia mostly affects older adults, it is not a part of normal aging. (from the CDC)

Drat and alas. Drat, she cannot remember to do it. She cannot remember my complaint either but will detect the disappointment in my voice and probably interpret it as anger. And alas, I will occasionally forget to look in all the pockets.

I will forgo the complaint process. It is not useful anyway. I merely causes us to pick at each other. (Forgo was the answer to the Wordle a couple days ago.)

Carpe tissue Diem.

Always Learning

One can always learn new things if you open your heart to the experience.

Recently we met with a dementia specialist. It was not intended on my part to be one on one but as it turned out it was. She had several key points to deescalate frustration and anger. Like many things that happen these days with Cheryl and me, I often forget which people and services I have investigated before. Theresa Youngstrom is a nurse and a dementia specialist. In a previous post I quoted these points from her website.

From Theresa’s website;

  • Always approach from the front.
  • Watch your body language and tone in addition to the words you use.
  • Smile and wait until they acknowledge your presence before touching them.
  • Validate their point when they are upset even if they are wrong.
  • Say you are sorry at the first sign of their frustration to keep situations at a minimum.

After we talked for a bit the other day, I realized that I had already learned a lot from her about deescalation of frustrating and angry situations.

I am sure there is more to learn.

Carpe Diem.

A Good Friend is Dying

It produces a reaction in me close to anger. I do not understand why. Anger is not quite right. Disappointment and some sadness with a little depression mixed in is a better description of the emotional mix. The only constant in life is change. However, that does not mean we have to like it.

In Matthew’s Gospel 21 (28-32) there is a story (parable) and I thought of it as I reacted to Cheryl’s idea. The parable in Matthew is about a owner of a vineyard who had two sons. He asked (told) his first son to work in the family business. He replied that yes he would go but he did not. When Dad talked to the second son the kid replied, nope, not today. I am hanging with the boys. He later relented and went to work for his father. It had not been more than a couple of weeks since it was read at mass.

That second son’s reaction was much like mine when Cheryl told me a confused story about Dan and Lynette. She though that Dan was a the Hospice of Cincinnati facility visiting with Lynette who was dying. He was not but I did not talk to him as I should have. My first reaction was similar to the second son. Nope. Ain’t doin’ it. I have no good memories of that hospice facility that is where my father died.

I gave in and took her to see Dan and Lynette. I put whatever little dinner preparation I had started back into the refrigerator for later. I made the five minute drive to the Hospice facility.

Cheryl was having a good day. We ran some errands and took a walk in the park. We had lunch at one of our favorite lunch diners. Our activities were all spontaneous. It was one of those sixty-five degree early March days. It would have been perfect if there no breeze at all but it was an okay breeze of five knots or less. It was very sunny. When we returned I told her about Dan’s call on Saturday. She did not return with the hostility that I expected as I had not told her right away. (This kind of news makes her upset for days.) She did react by calling Dan back to talk and find out what was going on.

When we got to Lynette’s room and I realized that Dan was not there I called him. In our conversation Dan explained that Cheryl kept asking where he was and did not seem to understand he was not there at Hospice. I asked him if he wanted to come. He does not see well and does not drive at night. He said yes he would like to do that and maybe we could get something to eat.

We drove across town, picked him up and came back to visit Lynette. She was unresponsive when he was there as she had been when we were there forty-five minutes earlier. Dan is a pretty quiet guy but he was a little beside himself. After a short visit watching Lynette’s irregular breathing we went to get something to eat. Dan insisted on paying for dinner.

We talked a lot while we were eating pizza at one of our local pizzerias. Comfort for a friend is something for which one must always find time. I have no explanation about my initial reaction other than it was about me. I had planned dinner and had comfortably settled into my chair to read before I had to get up to make dinner. I had no intention of comforting someone who was grieving that evening. Cheryl had been very upbeat and happy all afternoon. I was feeling pretty good myself.

Kindness to others earns grace. If only life was easy. This occurred on Monday. Late Tuesday since I had heard no more from Dan, I sent him a text and asked how things were and if I could help.


This is Wednesday and Lynette is deceased. Dan called late last evening to tell me that Lynette had passed on today. It is a sad moment for us both. Cheryl was asleep. I did not wake her with bad news last evening. This morning as I was going through my litany of what was happening today, I told her about Dan’s call. She was confused for a bit. She will ask me about it later.

One of life’s little twists just happened. Fate/karma/luck/the angel Gabriel – whatever brought me back into their lives on the last day of Lynette’s. Time for a little meditation and maybe prayer and reflection.

Cater was the answer to Wordle today. I am a little sad today. Lynette was good people. The only person I knew who knew how to tat lace. She had lots of crafty talent. She was an executive chef and a good cook. Dan is retired away from the “front of the house” in restaurant parlance. The restaurant business is where they met. Lynette was a very special person and I think I am better for knowing her in life.

May Lynette rest in peace without pain and dementia. Carpe Diem.

My Own Reaction Surprises Me

She wants to do it herself. We had a tough for me conversation this morning about issues we trip over as travel the annoying twisty road of Parkinson. It started out as, you know I can still do stuff.

This was a response to me speculating about learning to make my own piecrust instead of buying a commercial piecrust. I will take the path of least resistance every time I can. There are enough things to staff, organize and worry about. If someone has already made the piecrust, I am good with that.

I buy salad in a bag too. Dump and go. Chop a tomato and it is salad. Dressing is in the fridge.

She remarked that she could make a pie and that she knew how to make piecrust. Naturally I forgot about what I have been attempting to practice on a daily basis. I started to enumerate the negatives. I caught myself before I got too far into the ditch along side this partially paved macadam thoroughfare.

It is Lenten season. Instead of chasing some carryout fish fry from our parish we had the makings of tuna casserole. An old time favorite from the Dinner for Two Cookbook by Betty Crocker (You can still find one if you poke around.) Remember Betty Crocker? She is my go to for a lot of things. That seemed like an easy thing and she likes it. I said why don’t you make the tuna casserole and we can have the leftover pie for dessert.

She agreed.

We attended a discussion in the afternoon about newer drugs used to treat Parkinson’s disease and when they are used and how they worked. When we returned I attended to the laundry and then busied myself with work for my job at our local community college where I teach part time.

She announced she was going to start on the tuna casserole. It was three pm. I spent the next hour listening and worrying and occasionally sneaking a peek into the kitchen twenty feet away. After a few misfires on her part she got started with minor aid from me. She put all the ingredients into a Corning ware bowl and mixed it. She used to know how to start the oven but that knowledge and skill has been lost to Parkinson. I told her which buttons to push and it clicked on.

I went back to work on my project but gave it up for a bit when the oven played its happy tune to announce it was up to temperature and waiting. I went in for the oven placement of the casserole. She put it in but I worried while watching. (Maybe I am a worry wart.)

Scary activity for someone not steady on her feet.

I suppose there is a good mechanical engineering reason for oven doors to open as they do. I have not seen one built so that door opens any other way but down. A standard range winds up with the door about a foot off the floor so that the person reaches down into the oven from three feet away. It looks to me like a disaster waiting to occur. I hovered nearby as she put the casserole into the oven and then put on oven mits to get something from the fridge.

We ate about an hour ahead of when we usually eat but time and calendar and sunrise and sunset seem to have less meaning for her. It is time for us to start eating dinner at four pm like the rest of the old folks.

Carpe Diem.

Recently I Read a Book on Dementia

Recently I read a book entitled – Dementia Reimagined by Tia Powell MD. It was a disappointment to me personally because I believe that I judged this book by its title. I was hoping for some sort of expert thoughts on how I can deal better with my personable anxiety, emotion and smoldering anger with Cheryl’s disease of Parkinson and her accompanying dementia. I was hoping for; when this comes up, do this. Life is not that easy but my engineer training wants to make it so.

Dr. Powell’s book is a good argument for changing the way government programs, insurance companies and the like perceive and fund help for those with dementia. I know that the funding albeit private or public is screwed up. A few months ago I met with a lawyer to discuss end of life issues especially since I felt certain that Cheryl’s chronic illness would eventually bear a heavy toll on our family finances. He asked why I still lived in Ohio.

All states are different.

No Help There

That does not really help me. These tips on dementia (copied from a website somewhere) do seem to be useful:

Always approach from the front.or do that as much as you can. When I first read this it was not meaningful to me but I have noticed that Cheryl startles easily. Her startle reflex shows itself at seemingly random moments. If we are traveling somewhere in our car, she will react to other drivers with jerky motions or a surprised little noise from her lips. I used to point that out to her and she reacted with both embarrassment and a little anger. I have learned to ignore these little things but it is hard for me to do.

She no longer drives a car having given up her license several years ago.

I have noticed that she will jump if approach her while working on something in her office which causes her to face away from the doorway so that she does not see me coming. I am not moving quietly when this has occurred but I may be mistaken about that idea. I may be more stealthy than I think myself to be. We are both older. Our hearing may not be as acute as in our youth.

Watch your body language and tone in addition to the words you use. – frustration or surprise at the immediate situation may easily be interpreted as anger. This is the hardest concept for me personally to deal with. I am concerned for Cheryl’s safety and I also hate to clean up messes. I apologize a lot and she apologizes a lot for making a mess even though I tell her that no apology is necessary.

I recognize that I am perceived as angry by her when one of these situations occurred. The aweshit reflex is strong in students and practitioners of engineering. So far I have been able to tone it down to oh-poop but it is a work in process with some small progress. I keep telling myself it is anger with this disease and what it has taken from her. I cannot tell you if there is truth to that statement but I keep repeating it to myself quietly at night when a combination of sun-downers and dreamy illusions and hallucinations creep into her perception of the world.

Sometimes I merely lose it, however. I can be mister cranky pants in the middle of the night.

Smile and wait until they acknowledge your presence before touching them. – Hugs are always welcome but Parkinson’s patients may be unsteady, so be prepared to steady her and accept some weight change. Hugs are always smoother from the front than from the rear. (see startles above)

Regardless of acknowledgment touching, hand holding, hugging are preferable to distance. The combination of Parkinson’s and dementia are frustrating, depressing and scary. Cheryl has expressed this to me often in moments of perfect lucidity. Those moments are still there. Savor them like fine wine or life as it used to be.

Validate their point when they are upset even if they are wrong. – and be aware that it is not important to correct anyone’s perception of things. Never start a response with; you are wrong, dear. … and continuing with the rest of it.

Let’s face the fact that “you are wrong” is a manifestly stupid way to start with no dementia present. Relax and take a deep breath and decide between two things, is it important to correct her perception or do you merely have a need to be right. Try, yes, that could be true… and go from there if concepts are way off and you want to help her find the way back. Or just ignore it, after all, her memory is not very good any more. She will not remember that you are right but she will remember that you angrily corrected her.

Say you are sorry at the first sign of their frustration to keep situations at a minimum. – I say I am sorry a lot because I am sorry that I tread on her heart. This disease is frustrating for us both.


Cheryl sees a nurse practitioner a couple times a year. Maureen is pretty practical when it comes to nuanced care partnering. These are her words;

I get lots of questions on how to deal with dementia. I could give you a list of resources to look up on the internet, workshops to attend, books to buy. All of that takes time which most of us have too little of. A great caregiver website, caregiving.com, offers these 5 tips for dealing with dementia.

PRACTICE PATIENCE – This can be incredibly difficult to do. Try to remember when you were dealing with your children when they were young, especially the toddlers. You probably had more patience then, than now. Remember those days of taking a deep breath before saying something. With practice, it will get easier.

PROMOTE PHYSICAL HEALTH – This is for both the care giver and the care receiver. The care receiver can benefit from practicing chair yoga, dancing, gentle stretching. Since the pandemic there are abundant resources on You Tube which can be helpful for both the care giver and the care receiver. A walk outside in the fresh air can help clear the mind for the care giver and give a person a brief respite.

USE PHYSICAL TOUCH – Touch is a powerful form of communication and connection. It can also be a valuable expression of reassurance particularly to someone living with dementia. All of us need a hug now and again. My own mother would remind me I forgot to kiss her good night!

FIND RESPITE – If you’re focusing most – if not all – of your time, energy, and resources on caring for a loved one with dementia, you may find you cannot sustain doing so over the long-term. With proper self-care, you can relax and recharge, manage caregiver stress, and become a better and more effective caregiver. Consider sitting on the porch and reading a book, a brisk walk, a cup of Starbucks, an ice cream cone, a massage, a warm bath with soothing scents. These things need to be done regularly in order to maintain your own health.

REDUCE WORKING HOURS – If you are still working full time, care giving becomes a second full time job. Consider scheduling a meeting with your human resources manager to propose temporarily working from home, flex-time opportunities, job sharing, and/or even paid leave due to your caregiving demands. You may be pleasantly surprised by the accommodations your employer is willing to make.

Maureen is a wonderful practical person. (I also wish she was not in our life because then there would be no disease of Parkinson or dementia.)

Carpe Diem.

She Almost Fainted Today

Every morning at 7AM the extremely LOUD, BRIGHT AND ANNOYING alarm clock sounds its happy tune to remind us that it is time for Cheryl’s first dose of various meds. My job is to get up and find them. I get a glass of water and bring them back to the bathroom. All of this disturbance usually awakens Cheryl. I help her get up and shuffle into the bathroom to the toilet and then to the counter to take her meds.

Her fingers may not be working well in the right-after-get-up time. At 7AM and a little, she dropped one on the floor. I got her to take the rest of her meds and eased her back to bed. I laid down too after finding that the little white pill she dropped was to combat her orthostatic hypotension which is low blood pressure associated with Parkinson disease. I put this pill with her vitamins that she took later while eating breakfast.

She takes midodrine to combat the hypotension. Generally it seems to work. This morning when she took it separate from her other meds but with her vitamins and shredded wheat, she became lightheaded and fainty feeling. When one checks out the link I have provided, one finds a wearying array of side effects, all of which or none of which are associated with other meds that she takes.

This morning she fainted while I was talking to her. She was looking gray in the face at the time. I helped her to the floor and propped her legs up on a chair. I sat on the floor with her for a bit until she felt like she could sit up. I outweigh Cheryl by about a hundred pounds or so and to me she feels pretty light. I also forget that we are the same age and that means neither of use is twenty-two anymore. Nevertheless I help her up by positioning a chair nearby and she pulls herself up or I get behind her and lift her straight up with my legs. I probably should not lift her but she really does not weigh much in my mind.

While writing about these little happenstances in our life with PD I run across a world of information about what to do and who to call. This website (https://seniorsafetyadvice.com/about-us-2/) is a wealth of information.

It has been awhile since Cheryl fainted while eating breakfast. A couple years ago it was sort of common and occurred maybe once every other week or so. It was so commonplace that I staged a pillow from our couch in one of the kitchen chairs to put under her head for a bit while she was laying on the kitchen floor recovering. Thinking back on it, it crept into our lives so gradually that the two old people living this Parkinson life thought little of it other than, oh crap another new thing to deal with.

A casual mention in conversation to the medical team in a visit a couple years ago caused Maureen to give me the “stink” eye look which said to me, when were you going to mention this? I realized fainting is not a good thing or even a thing that we should merely deal with over time. She gave Cheryl a prescription for midodrine and instructions to take two when you get up and two more during the day spread out. Later this was adjusted to one in the morning, one mid-day, one no later than three hours before bedtime. I now had a use for all seven boxes of our meds organizer.

I found this a couple years ago on Amazon. Ours has black lettering and I created a chart to stick inside the lid.


A pretty long story but in addition to this little blog of mine I have started a little log of anomalous activities and the surrounding circumstances. The doctors and nurses are not looking at Cheryl every day. That is on me.

Carpe Diem.

Too Much!

“I appreciate your help but sometimes I just want to be left alone”, she said to me today.

I suppose I do get too much like a helicopter parent.

She could have become more angry and told me to “Back off!” but she did not.

I stepped over a line that I am still looking for.

Carpe Diem and learn.


There is a subtle difference between caregiver and care partner. We seem to be on the cusp of that some days. So I felt it was necessary to find back Edie’s prayer modified by me and read it again.

… so much to learn and as I write this Pink Floyd is singing “Comfortably Numb” on Alexa nearby. Perhaps I have become numb or non-listening lately.

Seize the moment to listen.