I Love a Good Game of Name That Acronym

A friend of mine put this on Facebook. I am certain that he put it there as bait and I bit. COVID is of course short for CO(rona) VI(rus) D(isease). The nineteen typically tacked on to the end is to demark 2019 as the year when the virus was first noted in Wuhan, China. The individual who first started the game apparently is displeased with the poor initial discussion of masks, personal hygiene, and vaccines.

This posting on Facebook is intended to rile folks up. I feel the pain myself. Having finished with my second booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine a week ago, I am elated. The previous leader of the free world could have celebrated his and his wife’s vaccination before they left the White House. He did not. The event was so low key that it was only reported after he flew to Miralago to resume the life of the rich and famous guy that he is.

I used to play this game when I was still working full time and some one would use an acronym with out first explaining what the term stood for. The implication being that if you did not understand the term you were not on the inside. I always made me laugh. If it showed up in an email I might ask an innocent question using my made up acronym. My favorite is SMART (Simply Magnificent And Recognizable Talent) goals. I think timely is a cop out. What does timely mean?

Think about it. Try UNSMART. (Uninformed New Sheep Mainly Are Really Trumpublicans) (political division)

Uniformly Nascent Solipsistic Males Actually Remember Transportation (random division)

Let your mind run wild. It is okay to use small articles and the verb to be in any answer. Be mean or generous, politically correct or not so, kind or not. There are no rules.

Cost Obfuscation Violates Individual Destinations (travel division)

Catholic Orthodoxy (has) Victimized Individual Dreams (religious division)

Curmudgeonly Orwellians Voraciously Imbibe Dragon-meat (Game of Thrones division)

Crash Objects Vanquish Indecisive Drivers (automotive division)

Over time some acronyms have become actual words (laser) and some words have become acronyms (smart). Language is fascinating.

Parkinson’s disease sucks but then a friend will send you down a rabbit hole with diversion of some sort for several hours of mental gymnastics. Thanks, friend.

Peace be with you

Our Stock Club Met in Person

It has been exactly a year since our stock club met in person. It is hard to express how much I missed those in person meetings over the past year. There is a lively atmosphere that does not come through the Zoom meeting platform.

Our club first met in March of 1984. Thirty-seven or so years ago a couple guys in the engineering department of a no longer existent machine tool manufacturer in southwestern Ohio said they were wondering if we could start a stock club. The Dow Jones industrial average was hovering just a tad above 1000. It was a big idea. We would all be rich men. All it would cost was $20 a month. Some things are lost to time but we started the club with ten members. We had as many as nineteen and now we are eight. Four of our members and former members are gone from this life. The rest are still here somewhere. We were all much younger then. Most of us are grandparents now, though not all. None of us are rich in a material sense, although we are rich in our friendship. It has always been fun to chase the rainbow.

We started with different expertise in each member on purpose. A stock club with only engineers was probably doomed to early failure. Every stock would be analyzed to death. One of the things that engineers are very good at is analysis. From the beginning the membership actively sought other members who were not engineers. And although today we are eight, we are only half engineering folks. We are not all retired yet.

For the first time tonight I realized how much the pandemonium has ruined our social fabric. There was a joy in the discussion about various stories, some stock talk, of course, but many other topics. Children, grandchildren, sports and travel are all fair game.

The market was up today. Or at least the piece of it that we owned was up. Life is good today.

It did not start out that way. Cheryl arose at 5 am never to return to bed. When she gets ups very early in the predawn she tends to be slightly confused most of the day. Today she did not take her meds right away as she has done in the past. She found the donuts left from Sunday and had two of those before she decided that she should take her meds. As a result she was merely thirty minutes or so early. She was, however, confused about the time and day of the week.

She was still confused about the day when she went to bed a few minutes ago.

Today was physical therapy day. Brittany (PT) spent extra time with her standing up from a sitting position and balance. She also spent time getting Cheryl to do several of the LSVT Big exercises that Cheryl struggles with.

Cheryl has never been a sports person in her life. Much of the demonstration and lecture about exercise and form is lost to her. Now that she has Parkinson’s disease it is more so. But it helped her, for, as we drove home, she suggested that we go to a park near where we live and we walk around the walking path near the creek.

So Carpe the Diem – we went.

I do not know if Sam Clemens said this or not. Somehow it does not seem curmudgeonly enough.

I want to make Mac and Cheese

It is a Friday in Lent. A favorite throughout our married life, all fifty of them, has been Macaroni and Cheese. Often through the years this recipe was trucked out on Fridays in Lent but it is an enjoyable dish, pretty basic, so we eat it at other times also. The Betty Crocker – Dinner for Two cookbook – has been beat to death over the years so about three years ago it was taken apart and slipped into page protectors and a brand new binder. Hopefully some grand child will appreciate the effort their grandmother spent saving this classic cookbook from the 1970’s.

Over time I have taken over most of the cooking duties. Some of that is driving the car to the restaurant or diner but many times I have selected some favorite of ours that I hope will not give her indigestion. My experimentation with Hello Fresh was all about getting new ideas. The Parkinson’s medications have made her stomach sensitive to some foods and spices. We have discovered some of those as we experiment. She lost her sense of smell long ago. Simply old age has made my stomach sensitive to some things and I suspect Parkinson’s disease has merely complicated matters for her.

In this Lenten season the whole covid thing has stifled the church fish fries somewhat. One can still drive through but it is not the same as going and hanging out with friends in the school cafeteria and socializing for a bit. This year our pizza Tuesdays have morphed into Frisch’s fish sandwiches with mac and cheese. The last couple Fridays I have made the mac and cheese.

This afternoon when I got back from school, she said, I want to make the macaroni and cheese. Okay, I said.

I am staying near to help if need be but I suspect I can be smotheringly helpful. So, I am backing away a bit to see how she does. Carpe the Diem, baby!

She is sewing on the never ending chair arm cover project and working on mac and cheese. I am doing laundry, drinking Miller Lite beer, listening to Flo-Rida (Oh, my lord, the light’s going down and the weekend’s here…) and writing this unimportant blog.

Carpe Diem I suppose also can mean do the laundry and back away from the mac and cheese.

Bernard Clayton’s Bread Book

Potato bread

This book is a favorite of mine. If I remember to do it when I make mashed potatoes and something for dinner, I save the potato water and leftover mashed potatoes to make bread a couple days later. Two nights ago I remembered. I saved the water that I boiled the potatoes in. In his recipe he strongly suggests not adding anything to the potatoes.

Having gone through a couple of recipe cards from Hello Fresh recently I have decided that I like mashed potatoes made with sour cream and butter. Some of these were left over. I have about a cup of mashed potatoes. I used these. I am interested to discover how that modifies the flavor.

I have made this recipe with plain potatoes and with mashed potatoes in the past. Baking bread is intriguing for me because it seems very small changes to a recipe can make very large changes in flavor. Try it – grease one loaf pan with Crisco and grease another with lard. The flavor difference is noticeable. Very subtle but also very different flavor in the type of release agent used.

The round loaf goes to a neighbor who made a tuna noodle casserole out of the blue and gave it to us. She supplied it in a large ramekin bowl so I used it to bake the boole in. I hope she likes it. Potato bread makes hearty french toast.

If you can, bake something every week. Life is a one time deal but better with fresh bread!

Spring is here — FINALLY!

Exercises for Parkinson’s Folks

The single most important thing for a Parkinson’s patient can do to improve their mood, movement, emotions, strength and well being is exercise. For a normal person this is a merely a scheduling activity. For a Parkinson’s patient it is difficult.

Complicated for someone who never did sports at all. A former sports person would be resolute in their efforts. They would have had that former experience in their life of exercise and training that keeps telling them that it will be useful. Perhaps they had to train to recover from an injury. Perhaps they wanted to hit more three-point shots in basketball. Perhaps they wanted to hit the ball a little straighter in golf. Perhaps they wanted to strike out that guy who hit it over the center field fence the last time they pitched to him.

For a parkie it is a matter of walking to the sink to get a glass of water.

LSVT Big is a therapy for getting Parkinson’s patients moving again and keeps them moving. The exercises seem simple to a person who has no difficulty with movement. After twelve or fifteen years of effort she is more resolute than ever to keep exercising.

But it requires organization and her mind refuses to cooperate.

What do you do to Pick Yourself UP?

I often find a song or melody that intrigues me at that moment. Kroger has been playing “Low” in some of their commercial advertisements lately here in Cincinnati.

Before that ad I had not heard the song before. It is a rap song. I have very few rap songs in my list of songs that I like. I do not have the same experience that many rap artists have, so, many of the popular songs with spontaneous rhyme and rhythmic lyrics do not connect with my old brain. “Low” does for some reason.

I told Alexa to play rap music. It selected a Hip Hop station that “you might like”. Perhaps I will listen later longer. Rap lyrics remind me of beat poetry. Recently Lawrence Ferlinghetti died. For some reason, in my younger years, his style of poetry interested me. I had his book of poetry – “A Coney Island of the Mind”. I have not seen it for years.

I vaguely recall that I had lent it to someone long in the past. Today I scrambled around to find a copy of a book of poetry that has probably been out of print for maybe sixty years. Amazon is a wonderful thing no matter what Donald Trump thinks.

I switched Alexa from Hip Hop to disco. “Staying Alive” is playing right now.

What do I do to pick myself up? Usually several things at once. Music certainly helps pick me up.

Music is very personal. Long ago I worked for a private company. One of the partners read a book somewhere that convinced him that music played over the PA system would lighten the mood and make everyone happy in their jobs. What a load of crap that book was. The music selected was what ever the office was using as hold music. MUZAK was a special broadcast on a side band of one of the local FM stations. It was perpetual elevator music. It was excruciating to rock fans like me. Christmas holidays brought a five hour loop tape of Christmas carols and other crap over the office PA system. On the second rendition of Mitch Miller’s jingle bells it was time to go home. Some were up-sot!

“Toes” is playing now. I told Alexa to play — life is good today. I need to get my toes in the water and my ass in the sand as soon as I can, pandemonium or not.

Find your music and play it!

Things just jump into your Head

We were driving to get Cheryl’s second dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine so that we could, half of us anyway, become part of the herd immunity process to tamp down the CoVSARS pandemic pandemonium. I had stopped at a traffic light and looked to the side of the road to notice a road sign post with only the sign at the top. Someone had removed the Ohio Route 561 sign from the post immediately below the JCT sign. It was a naked looking post and my dad’s words. “vandals had removed the sign” jumped into my head. I could actually hear his voice.

Weird, I thought.

When I was first driving, some friends and I were tooling around Fairfax, Ohio heading to the Frisch’s on U. S. route 52 that ran through the sort of village center. We were still traveling on the residential streets. I was still learning that although you may have the right-of-way it is a prudent driver who looks to see if the other driver believes that to also be the case. On this particular day a teaching moment happened.

Another teenage driver, female but that fact is of no consequence, suddenly appeared in front of me in an intersection with which I was familiar and which I knew to be the main street. She had a stop sign which she had ignored. Boom, bam, bang, tinkle tinkle. I hit her hard enough that the car she was driving raised up off the ground, slid a little and slammed back down on the pavement. I was driving Dad’s 1960 Chevrolet Impala. She was driving some littler beige car. Her door was dented. Dad’s bumper was dinged a little and the fender had a scratch in the white paint. I was impressed with how little damage there was to Dad’s car and how poopy her car looked. But cars had bumpers then and frames to mount them onto. I had slammed on the brakes so the car had nosed down and lifted hers up. No one was injured.

Police were called by some neighbors. The policeman gave the girl a ticket. She complained that there was no stop sign for her. He pointed at the post and said it really did not matter for even though vandals had stolen the stop sign, I had the right-of-way.

When Dad helped me to right the accident report to the insurance company and file my version of the event with the State of Ohio, he said I should write that she did not stop because, “vandals had removed the sign.”

Today that jumped into my head. I had not heard Dad’s voice for awhile.

I did today.

Some Days are just Slow

Some days are in fact slow days and if all goes well they stay that way. It is a good winter Saturday to look for a new chicken recipe.

From Campbell’s Soup:

  • 1 can (10 1/2 ounces) Campbell’s® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup or 98% Fat Free Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup uncooked long grain white rice
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

Hmm. In the comments – …made this dish for 25 years, I double the recipe, only I use 2c instant rice, 2 family size cans of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup, and instead of paprika I use Lemon pepper. I also rub my chicken with the Lemon pepper. It’s a family favorite.

I am pretty sure I have lemon pepper. I am, however, unsure of the vintage.

From https://iowagirleats.com/one-pot-chicken-and-rice/ One-Pot Chicken and Rice is part soup, part risotto, and wholly comforting. Your family will ask for this easy yet irresistible gluten free dinner recipe again and again. Maybe so, but there are only two of us so I will see if it is modifiable.

  • 4 – 6 Tablespoons butter or vegan butter, divided
  • 1 heaping cup chopped carrots (from 1 cup baby carrots or 2 large carrots)
  • homemade seasoned salt and pepper (see notes)
  • 2 scant cups long grain white rice (I like Lundberg White Jasmine Rice)
  • 1 Tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon dried minced garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons dried parsley flakes
  • 8 cups gluten free chicken stock
  • 2 small chicken breasts (14oz), cut into bite-sized pieces

From https://thesaltymarshmallow.com/creamy-parmesan-one-pot-chicken-rice/ Creamy Parmesan One Pot Chicken and Rice is a creamy chicken and rice recipe made easy! The best chicken and rice full of juicy chicken and cheese! Could this be the winner?

  • 1.5 Pounds Chicken Breasts, Cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 Large onion, Diced
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, Minced (3 Teaspoons)
  • 2 Teaspoons Italian Seasoning
  • ½ Teaspoon Pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 ½ Cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 Cup long grain white rice
  • ½ Cup Heavy Cream
  • ½ Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Parsley for serving, Optional
  • Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes, until beginning to soften.
  • Add the diced chicken to the pan along with the Italian seasoning, pepper, and salt.
  • Cook and stir for 5 minutes until chicken is golden on all sides.
  • Add the garlic and cook for one more minute, stirring constantly.
  • Add the chicken broth and rice to the pan and stir.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low.
  • Cover with a lid and simmer for 17-20 minutes, until rice is completely tender.
  • Stir in the heavy cream and parmesan.  Serve immediately topped with parsley if desired.

One half of a cup of heavy cream? None of that in the fridge, perhaps I will substitute sour cream and a couple tablespoons of milk. I will probably garnish with mozzarella cheese. For two I ended up with:

  • 1 Chicken Breast (about 7 oz. – chickens are big these days.) cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • Garlic, minced (1 1/2 Teaspoons – I buy this in a jar which is really handy.)
  • 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning (or Herbes de Provinence)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Cup Chicken Broth
  • 1/2 Cup long grain white rice
  • 1/4 Cup Sour cream
  • 1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Garnish with shredded mozzarella

Or pea soup could be a substitute for all of this. I made pea soup with ham two days ago. We had some for dinner with an excellent dessert, blueberry pound cake and fruit. There are two more bowls of pea soup in the fridge waiting patiently to be eaten as left overs. Pea soup like lasagna only gets better with age in the fridge.

So maybe pea soup and sandwiches for dinner. Perhaps I should pick out a dessert first.

The best part about slow days is shopping for dessert and dinner. Parkinson’s disease can enable one to appreciate the small things.

More Food Therapy

Her plate

Pork chops breaded with bread crumb mix; one teaspoon of Frank’s Red hot spice mix, one teaspoon of paprika mixed with 1/4th cup of plain nothing special bread crumbs. Sauteed a minute or so on each side in olive oil. Baked in the oven a 350F for twenty minutes to complete.

Mashed sweet potatoes mixed with Sticky Pete’s maple syrup, brown sugar and butter. Boiled about twenty minutes, drained and mashed in the pan. Two medium sized sweet potatoes about three tablespoons of syrup and about a teaspoon of brown sugar and tablespoon of butter. I held back some of the water that the sweet potatoes were boiled in but I did not use it. I did not add salt to the water.

Mixed veggies from frozen. 1/4 cup water, a drizzle of honey, salt and pepper. Put in an oven safe pot, covered for about 20 minutes at 350F. These were “so so” but I am not a big fan of frozen veggies. With the pandemonium though, I have a lot of frozen veggies. Some work well some do not. I am still experimenting with flavors.

Blueberry pound cake drove the whole show. It hogged the oven for about 45 minutes at 350F. Everything else is subservient to dessert. As it should be! The blueberries are experimental. The IGA had them fresh from Mexico or wherever. I added about 3/4 cup rinsed to top of the batter after I put it in the tube pan. Powdered sugar on the top finishes the cake.

She ate two pieces. Sometime the best end to a day is a good meal and a good dessert.

When Parkinson’s disease sucks, let her eat cake!

Bake or Cook Something Everyday

Edie and Tommy’s visiting nurse’s pound cake

I have almost completed my experiment with Hello Fresh. As we have traveled down the Parkinson’s road I have taken on the duties of chef as well as the laundry and other housekeeping activities. I have outsourced some of the cleaning duties to my niece because dust does not bother me but Cheryl likes no dust or fuzz anywhere. I have sort of honed in on baking. So with a little imagination we can center a whole meal around – What’s for dessert? I am embarking on a new twist on an old hobby, make a cake, bread, cracker, cookie or whatever each day that I have never made before.

It can be a mix, scratch or special adaptation. Tonight I have made a standard pumpkin bread mix and added raisins to the mix. Recently I read “Miss Graham’s Cold War Cookbook” by Celia Rees. In it the main character becomes a reluctant spy and she and another woman concoct a code of sorts by exchanging recipes. Some are detailed enough to try.

I have acquired some new baking equipment to accomplish this. One recipe requires a tube pan. Miss graham makes reference to a Sally Lunn recipe. Or more specifically she is talking about a German bread recipe and says it is much like a Sally Lunn. A quick review of the internet of all knowledge (IOAK) and several sally lunns popped up. I have selected the one linked to here to try with my new tube pan. I am unsure of what to make of the comment to split the cake and fill it with custard. I will probably make it and not do that to see how it turns out.

Code at the beginning of the new chapter

At some future time I will tell you how it turned out. As a caregiver I am always looking for ways to improve the experience of what can be a debilitating disease but does not have to be. Some of this is food. Cheryl lost her sense of smell early on. It was the loss of smell that in part led her to the doctor to ask the question – is it normal to lose your sense of smell when you get older? It is not, of course, but it does change how food tastes. Her smell sense is not completely gone but it is diminished to the point where salty, bitter, sweet, sour and savory (umani) jump to the fore. I do not know what umani tastes like. I keep trying new things.

What do you think? I could make bangers and mash. Ugh was the response. I might have to sneak up on that one.

Every day is a winding road – Sheryl Crowe