People Are Still Dying

She went to bed early and did not seem to stir all night long.

Look at this she says to me holding up the obituary page in the paper today. I rarely look at the obituary pages. Cheryl reads them everyday. It is the one of three reasons we still subscribe to the U.S. News and World Report Cincinnati Enquirer. The three reasons are obituaries, comic and puzzle pages, banner page with today’s date. I occasionally look at Daugherty’s sports column. He is a good writer.

I asked, “Is there anyone you know?” But she does not recognize any of the names. She goes through the list several times. The first go does not register every name. She has had two and a half doughnuts and she brings a clementine orange as well as some orange juice with her to her chair as we settle to watch the TV. Lately I have been purchasing Minute Maid orange juice concentrate from the store. It is about $1 more that the store brand orange juice. I do not drink orange juice with breakfast. It is the only thing Cheryl drinks and has been for some time.

She tells me that the Enquirer publishes a list like this a couple days a week and it is much longer on Sunday. I relax as I listen to her talk about dead people. Death is a part of life I remarked. Yes it is she replied without looking up from the list as she read it one more time.

She reads the list carefully as we watch Sunday Morning on CBS. There is a story about Liza Minnelli. Cheryl catches the reference to Judy Garland at the end and remarks that she is dead too. She is thinking Liza is dead, I suddenly realized. There is no point in correcting her thought so I do not.

It is Donut Sunday and she is sitting with me watching what I think of as our Sunday show. We used to watch this show on the VCR after Sunday mass. We often stopped at the Pleasant Ridge Donut Shop on the way home. We always walked to church.

Last evening after church we went to a local pizza haunt to enjoy the quiet and have something to eat. The Cincinnati Bengals playoff game had sucked the life out of the late afternoon pizza scene. The NFL had assigned them the 4:30 PM slot on Saturday. Few people attended church that evening. Some of the lack of attendance may have been due to the latest covid wave or the play-off game.

After we entered the empty restaurant and settled at our table conveniently located with a clear view of the sixty-inch flat-screen TV, another crowd of six appeared and was seated at a nearby round six top. After our dinner – a small pizza for me, a favorite appetizer for her – I suggested that we drive over to a local bakery for some doughnuts or a coffee cake for our breakfast tomorrow.

We did that and as luck would have it, the doughnuts were a special price to move them out of the store. I will have to remember this for future reference and future Donut Sundays.

Today is a good one. I am pretty sure that she slept well last night.

Carpe Donut Sunday Diem.

A Third of the Way

It is now a third of the way through January. Cheryl and I went out to a small diner on the other side of town to visit with one of her life long friends.

They call themselves the “Clementines”. They attended grade school together and many attended the same high school. They number about a dozen and they used to meet every other month at a local pizza place to chat and reminisce and catch up.

Cheryl was the the original organizer of this group and convinced the others to come and chat. She teased many of them into it at first. She kept the friendships alive. And then Parkinson’s hit and took away her organization and her cognition.

At first she hid it well. It drove her crazy that she might forget something or someone. The computer, something that she had used throughout her working career as a database analyst, something she wrote code for to extract information, became a confusion. I (behind her back) asked one of her friends t take over the organizational task. Kathy stepped up and did it.

Covid struck and they moved to Zoom. I set up the zoomeetings for a bit because I had a corporate account with the community college that I work at part time. Kathy got her own license because she was using Zoom to visit with family.

Today we went to lunch with Marilyn who was unable to zoom a few nights ago. It was a wonderful lunch. Cheryl was able to talk to someone other that me in person.

Tonight for dinner I made oven fried chicken and roasted brussels sprouts with carrots. But for dessert I made Apple Oatmeal delight which is a recipe from BookBakeBlog’s site pages. It was pronounced good! Write that one down!

Apple Delight (not BookBakeBlog’s name)

Life is a journey. Enjoy the apples (and other fruit) were you find them. Carpe Diem!

January Eight

I am not a huge sports fan, so, should I write or should I read? On that day I elected to read after hanging the new calendar on her office door, putting away most of the Christmas decorations and helping her finish a batch of cookies. It was a pleasant two hours of downtime before preparation for church.

Church was sadly uninviting as the pastor is out with illness due to covid. We are back to socially distanced mask wearing in a gathering of perhaps eighty people in a building that holds 450 but has not experienced that level of participation for many years prior to the whole pandemic pandemonium.


So today is January 9, 2022. I checked with Cheryl and it is time for the three kings to go back to the orient. But the storage area is actually slightly west of where they are displayed this morning. Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar (or Casper) are their names according to Western church tradition. Balthasar is often represented as a king of Arabia or sometimes Ethiopia, Melchior as a king of Persia, and Gaspar as a king of India. So, maybe, the fact that the bucket and the storage area is west makes little difference. It is a much shorter walk than the guy going back to India.

Guys chasing a suspected super nova…

The past week has been a bit of a trial. Cheryl has been having trouble sleeping through the night. It is a common issue with Parkinson’s disease. As a consequence during the day she is easily upset, occasionally moody, somewhat apathetic, quick to anger and often fatigued. The rivastigmine was making her nauseated so it was discontinued. She has been taking quetiapine (Seraquel) and in working with her nurse practitioner we are slowly changing the dosage and timing of that to help with sleep. It is an annoying process but it seems to be working sort of.

Last evening we made blueberry muffins for Sunday breakfast today and for awhile she sat with me to watch our used to be favorite CBS Sunday Morning show. She has not sat and watched this show with me for any length of time for many months. It used to be our Sunday morning activity after returning from church.

Times change and I suppose I am attempting to preserve as much of the routine as possible while we travel this Parkinson’s journey. I do miss watching various pieces with her and commenting about it.

As her memory, creeping dementia and other odd behaviors appear it is incumbent on me to not correct her or even explain those behaviors to others. Her friends all know what she is dealing with. I do not have to remind them. People will show kindness or not. Total strangers can be remarkably kind and generous. Maybe because Cheryl navigates with a cane in her hand.

Carpe Diem!

HAPPY new year and other Random Thoughts

It was a miserable eve.  Cheryl has had her meds adjusted a bit to help with creeping dementia issues.  The doctor has been slowly increasing the dosage to creep up on the optimal dose. The most common side effect is nausea and vomiting. The new prescription is at the optimal dose and it appears Cheryl cannot tolerate it at that level.  She has been sitting on the bathroom floor on and off for most of the afternoon. 

As she was building up to this dose for the past  several months, I expected to see some behavioral changes.  I have not. As the situation got worse I terminated giving this med to Cheryl.

But last night (New Year + 1) was very difficult and very different. I thought that perhaps this drug did not work for her but it did reduce and eliminate the strange compulsive behavior that she exhibits. She also became delusional. She was certain I did not belong here.

On the next day, Monday, I called the doctor’s office and got her nurse practitioner on the phone. It is hard to explain how excited I was to have someone call back that knows Cheryl and her condition and has seen her on a regular basis. I explained what Cheryl was going thru and that I had discontinued the medication to relieve the symptoms. The NP recommended that I adjust one of the meds she was already taking with no ill physical effects and perhaps Cheryl would sleep solidly through the night and do better the next day. It worked.

Still searching for clues at the scene of the crime (Joe Walsh).


It’s a new day.  Today is football day.  Seems like everyone everywhere is tuned to some kind of football game.  It used to be, many years ago, a time to visit our in-laws.  Our niece’s birthday was January 1st.  She died a year or so back not from the Covid dilemma but from other health issues.  She had not been well for some time. We have not celebrated her birthday for some time.  Families are complicated and estrangement is often part of the complication.


It’s a new month.  January is often cold but it seems to take winter some time to get started. This January is no different. It is rainy and poopy outside today and the temperature is expected to drop into the upper teens overnight. I am so glad we live in the times we live in. It will not be necessary for me to add coal to the fire for overnight nor will it be necessary for me to huddle underneath a buffalo skin.

The current federal administration authored a congressional bill referred to as “build back better”. The previous administration had a motto of “make america great again”.  Both of these are ludicrous. Both imply that there is something not quite right with now.  That is absurd. Nothing is wrong with now.  We are not heating with coal or huddling under buffalo skins. Slowly, ever so slowly we are converting to electric powered transportation.

Now is not perfect, of course, but it is greatly better than what was. We often think what was is better that what is. Still searching for it, clues, that is. Try to enjoy and be in the moment.


It’s a new year and thank God for that.

Resolutions? Yep. Do better at living now not ago. Try to not get fat living now.

Carpe Diem.

Cheryl’s Cookies (Not the Commercial Venture)

Living with a parkie makes me alert to new information when it comes up. That being said I do not always recognize my new task. This is about becoming a master cookie maker on the fly.

Executive function

Dementia occurs in about 40% of Parkinson’s sufferers. Some behaviors are side effects of medications. Some come with build up of unpronounceable proteins in the brain. No matter the source, the behavior can be disheartening and annoying from a care partner perspective. Cheryl’s reaction often is anger to some perceived slight or merely, the question, why do it that way? (It is an engineer’s question.)

It starts with me. Words and question structure is important. Engineers always want to ask why something is done some way or simply is some way. Why often sounds like a challenge, even to other engineers, if it is not asked properly.

How to do

Our latest challenge to our marital bliss is Christmas cookies. Baking is a hobby and a passion. I like to think I have perfected my meager talent at making breads of various types and shapes. I am proud of that but lately I have pushing into cakes and pies. The pandemic pandemonium gets to us all in various ways.

My perception of making cookies is one of a trivial exercise in baking. That seems to be an incorrect perspective. Cheryl’s helping me. Two cooks in the kitchen is a recipe for a challenge to peaceful coexistence. Two bakers near an oven enables battle lines to be established and defended with vigor. Starting a question with why is akin to removing one’s glove and casting it upon the dueling ground. (smiley face)

Cheryl has made perhaps a giga-dozen (I just made up that word) of cookies. I have made none. What can I say to redeem myself? Engineers ask why a lot.

Where to start

To a skilled cookie baker the recipe is merely a guide, a refresher, a list that says these get lemon zest. Interestingly, that is much like how I view a new bread recipe. I am on familiar territory.

But not so fast apprentice! Nearby there is a master cookie baker. Do not question the master’s skill at her craft with disdainful utterances such as, why and how come? All will be revealed. But also keep an eye on the recipe and make suggestions such as, yes, we have put that in the mix. Shall I add the butter?

Sometimes with creeping dementia ingredients are forgotten. Sometimes without that factor ingredients are forgotten. Try to be kind and remember that no one got up in the morning thinking, how can I mess with his mind today? Most importantly, do not raise your voice two octaves, that is a dead giveaway to your ignorance.

How does one check for doneness? It is common sense! Look at them. (the “fool” is left unsaid.) They will look right. What is right? (and on and on and on…)

Cut out the Crap in the Conversation

To a person standing nearby this conversation can sound rude. It sounds like one person is giving another orders and it can be that way. If, however, it is done with kindness in the communicator’s heart and with understanding that a Parkinson’s patient also may be dealing with confusion issues, it is neither rude nor demeaning in any way. Often a person experiencing Parkinson’s cannot or does not get the implication or inference. Be clear. Have kindness in your voice when speaking.

The onus is on the care partner to be patient, kind and clear. Be aware, care partner, that this is hard to do because you remember how your partner/spouse/parent/friend was before. (Good natured teasing may be misinterpreted. Be certain that your partner is not confused.) You too can be unaware of how they are now. The Parkinson’s patient may become sad or angry. Be persistent if you as care partner are very concerned about safety. Add some love to the conversation if you think you are not getting through the confusion. Strive to not become frustrated and raise your voice (two octaves).


We did wind up with our first battle batch of cookies. Although they are a motley crew, they taste fine.

Carpe Diem.

So What Should I Do?

I really enjoy a good detective murder mystery. When I first started reading this genre I would try early on to uncover the “doer”. I do not do that anymore. I just go with the author’s flow and let him or her tell the story as they want me to hear it. Mom used to cheat and read forty or 50 pages and then jump to the back of the book and discover the miscreant. That works for really wordy authors like Stephen King – who does not write detective murder mysteries but I like his stories also – sometimes but often one misses the word craft of the author. It is tough to start with a nugget of an idea and turn it into a novel. You will miss word gems created by the author and any new vocabulary.

Recently I rediscovered John Sandford (John Cloud) and his “prey” novels with Lucas Davenport. I have read many. They are always entertaining to me. A week or so back I thought, you know Paul, you have not read his books through from the beginning to now. He started writing in the mid 1990’s so there is a lot of ground to cover.

I started reading his stories electronically on my tablet all the way to “Night Prey”. It is out on my electronic library so I turned to the print library. It is out there too. (damn) Read faster people!

I usually read two or three things in parallel and I am now. A novel, perhaps some journalistic book and maybe something technical are on my reading list at the same time. I will be patient but not for long. It is my winter project for now. Read faster people. (Even the big print version is out.)

The audio version is available. Those are usually read too slow for me and sometimes I say to myself – did I miss something? – and I go back to re-read a few pages. And occasionally I find a word that I am unsure of its meaning even though I can discover it from the text, so, I look it up in one of my Webster’s. This by the way is the feature I like most about reading on my little tablet. I can touch the word and Merriam will awaken and tell me its definition. (sweet) Cannot do those with an audio book.

Read faster people! Although the “Family Roe” is well written and an interestingly sad story, I want to see how Lucas grows and develops. He just met the love of his life, Weather and she just saved his life. Let’s go, people.

Carpe Diem

Traveling Where?

This past year I ventured farther from home than usual. Google keeps track of where I am as long as my phone is on and I allow it to do so. I do not mind the “keeping track”. God does it. Why not Google?

This is the time of year when folks send out cards to their friends and family. Often these cards are family pictures or collections of pictures to tell the story of their family. They have grown. The children have grown. They visited various places. They had a good time there. I enjoy these types of cards and so does Cheryl.

I think I will take this google map of were I have been the past year and add pictures of those places to tell the story. Stay tuned.

Carpe Diem.

Tiny Things Change from Day to Day

There are some really minute things that change with Parkinson’s disease. Many are really small and when those show up my immediate thought is, when did that become different.

Wash cloths in the shower, for example, have changed in number. In our old house after the kiddos moved out and started their lives and families, after we became empty nesters, we each had our own bathroom that we used. Upstairs is for her. Downstairs is for him and visitors. (How come I had to share my bathroom? — different question.)

There are some funny aspects to this. Cheryl has her mother’s knees and they were starting to give out along life’s way. The doctor told her that if you have a choice of stairs or the elevator pick the elevator or escalator. No kneeling in church either. Cheryl told the doctor, our bedroom is upstairs. He replied when you come down for the day stay down.

Over time I moved the guest bedroom upstairs to what was the boys bedroom. The guest bedroom downstairs I converted into her office and sewing room. I took over her old office area as mine upstairs adjacent to the upstairs bathroom far from the coffee but what the heck I didn’t used to have an office. I was a basement guy. In my male mind all was well. But her bathroom was upstairs. (smiley face) And although she spent a lot of time in her office sewing room she would go upstairs to the bathroom when that need arose. She rarely used the downstairs bathroom.

Cheryl and I have been married for more than fifty years and although I cannot point to the specific date when we started some particular habit, we started it somewhere in our lives. Thinking back we have known each other longer and I have lived with her longer than anyone else in our sphere and that includes her family and mine. A lot of habits and some traditions have been started and rejected along the way. Several years ago we mutually decided that it was time for a smaller flatter place. Between her knees and the parkieness our life was changing. We bought a condominium all on the same level. It has two bathrooms but the one next to the big bedroom has a swell walk-in shower. She hung one washcloth for her and one for me in the shower area. Done. We are moved in.

Why am I stuck on washcloths? I really do not know but there it is this morning while I am taking my shower; there are now three washcloths hanging in the shower. When did that change?

I get the red one.

Sometimes I want to become angry. Sometimes I want to laugh. Sometimes I want to cry.

Parkinson’s disease and PD with the added feature of Lewy body dementia is puzzling and it consumes a lot of hours for the care partner.

The washcloth thing is merely one of many.

Carpe Diem.

Special – or not – Spaghetti Sauce

Every once in a while I get creative with the refrigerator contents.  Last evening I had some frozen butternut squash I had cut up and cubed a couple days previous.  Usually I roast this in a 400 degree oven with a little salt and pepper and olive oil for about  15-20 minutes but I decided to try something different.

I had also a 1/2 pound of ground beef. And I had a half jar of Barillo (12oz.) tomato basil sauce.  I took about a cup of butternut squash and simmered it in about a cup of water for about 15 minutes on top of the range.

When it was soft I poured off the water and smashed it into a pulp and dumped in the Barillo sauce. When I recover unused commercial sauce like this I often put a couple tablespoons of water in the jar to rinse the bottom, I poured this in as well. I added a pinch to a quarter teaspoon of red pepper.

I sauteed the ground beef with a little olive oil and rinsed it in a colander when it was browned. This removed some of the grease left from the saute. Cheryl has a hard time with any sort of greasy food. She likes it but about an hour later it gives her a lot of indigestion.

I added this to the sauce and let it simmer gently with the lid on for about 20 minutes.

While that was happening I got the water going for 4 ounces of spaghetti. When that was ready I plated it up.

I sprinkled a bit of grated Parmesan cheese on top.

She pronounced it good.

The picture at the top is not mine. It is from fitmencook.org. How cool is that? Perhaps I am a closet fit man. (smiley face here)

Carpe Diem.