Last Night it was Bacall’s Cafe

Wednesday night dinner out was a favorite place Bacall’s Cafe. She had a half BLT and a salad. I had pot roast, mashed potatoes and vegetables which turned out to be sauteed zucchini. It was a regular night.

Cheryl spent a great deal of the time trying to get her right earring in. She never did. The waitress tried to help but was worried about hurting her ear. Many years ago when she had her ears pierced the incompetent piercer did not get the hole straight through. For many years she was able to make it work. These days her PD fidgety motion makes inserting the post or pin often unsuccessful.

Eventually I convinced her that no one cared and she should put it in her purse and try later. We talked about different things none of which stuck with me. She did not have any odd topics to talk about. It was a dinner conversation that lulled me into forgetting about her PD. We teased each other as old married people do.

I remarked that none of her family came to her family gathering at her cousin’s house. She replied that maybe since they had been at our niece’s wedding the previous weekend they were doing other things. Perhaps she right, as family gatherings go, the clans tend to stick together with not much intermingling.

We saw several old acquaintances at other tables and booths. It was Wednesday afternoon and the old folks were out having dinner and a drink or two. Talking about this and that. She was having a good day for the moment.

When we got home, I settled into my recliner to watch a bit of news and for Nature to come on our local PBS station. She went into her office to look at the clutter and maybe check email. About an hour or so later as I was starting to read my book and tigers of India were saved for now, she showed me some pictures that she thought were of my sister Laura and her family from a trip out west. (POOF) she was off in PD la la land.

The pictures have little to do with Laura although she is in some of them and nothing to do with any trip out west but Joyce and Rob, our family’s only westerners, are in them. The pictures are of two Christmas celebrations twenty-five or so (maybe thirty) years ago.

Oh well, Carpe Diem!

Time after Time

A few minutes ago I went in to check to see how she was doing. She told me that Tari picked out some really cute birthday cards this time around. (Tari was not with us shopping for cards yesterday but that is not important.) She is working on the August birthday cards. She had just put on her favorite Rod Stewart CD on the player in her little office. This song came on. It happens to be one of my favorites. This disease of Parkinson is slowly taking her from me and I long for the old days.

What good are words I say to you?
They can’t convey to you what’s in my heart
If you could hear instead
The things I’ve left unsaid

Time after time
I tell myself that I’m
So lucky to be loving you

So lucky to be
The one you run to see
In the evening, when the day is through

I only know what I know
The passing years will show
You’ve kept my love so young, so new

And time after time
You’ll hear me say that I’m
So lucky to be loving you

I only know what I know
The passing years will show
You’ve kept my love so young, so new

And time after time
You’ll hear me say that I’m
So lucky to be loving you
Lucky to be loving you

An old standard by Rod Stewart

It is a lament of times passed and an optimism for the future. I often struggle with that last part when this disease of Parkinson appears in the middle of the night or I am researching incontinence products on various websites. On melancholy days I think about the preParkinson times. It helps to not look back with longing for those experiences. Time only moves forward. I am grateful to have had those experiences with her. I am grateful for the times we have yet to experience.

Do I wish she did not have Parkinson’s disease? You betcha.. Cyndi Lauper has a song that might be more familiar with a similar sentiment. Once in a while I get very nostalgic for our previous life. I let it roll over me in waves. It is helpful.

Tonight’s menu is Salisbury steak, rice, green beans and corn. I am baking a small cinnamon crumble cake for dessert. These are some of her favorite foods. I am following the Dinner for Two cookbook by Betty Crocker which is her favorite cookbook. She will compare her version before our kiddos came along to my version this evening.

Hopefully the hallucinatory little girls that often populate our home in the evening will not appear and we can rest later.

She is looking for earrings after she awoke from her nap.

Carpe Diem.

Pizza Tuesday

Several years ago we began going to a favorite local pizza store one night a week. We tried different days and over time we landed on Tuesday as the day we went out for pizza. It developed into a tradition as my youngest son would say. It became known as “Pizza Tuesday”. Sometimes in conversation a friend might say, “Can we get together tomorrow?” I might reply, “No. That’s Pizza Tuesday.” It became sacred. We did, however, invite others to our favorite pizza store to share. Occasionally one could see local celebrities such as one of the local colleges’ basketball coach there snarfing pizza like the rest of us fans.

When we sold our old house and moved to our condominium we invited our neighbor and friend Jane to our Tuesday dining adventure. It became a time to chat and catch up. Pizza Tuesday as a tradition became even more ingrained in our routine.

The pandemic pandemonium stopped much of that activity. At first we carried out (took away) our pizza from our favorite pizza store and moved our tradition home to our dinning room table. That worked well for a bit. Over a period of approximately fifteen months we experimented with pizza that was not only pepperoni. We added vegetables and fungus. We tried other sauces from the menu. We tried other pizza stores. We tried take away from other food emporiums. We expanded our flavors.

As the pandemonium eased Cheryl and I slowly began to visit restaurants with few or no utensils or menus. I learned how to use the square bar code thingy that restaurants pasted to their tables, walls and doors. A restaurant with paper menus became a favorite when previously it was not a favorite. Victoria, a young waitress at the favorite-not favorite, began to recognize us by sight. We came when she was working often. We began to look for her and tease her a bit about her constantly changing hairstyle. There was a reason to go there beyond pizza.

Socialization is a strong motivator. I worried a bit for Cheryl’s safety and health but I recognized that for her it was important to simply get out and see people other than me. Even in a pandemonium, one must live. Neighbor Jane who is immune-compromised remained isolated.

This past Tuesday evening we went back to Pizza Tuesday. The three of us went to yet a different pizza store. Perhaps, for us, THE PANDEMONIUM IS OVER! Prior to this event we made a list of various foods both home cooked and restaurant dishes that we would like to have. Jane aimed this discussion specifically at Cheryl. We will read the list and tick them off one by one. And I hope make a new list at the end of this list.

We are all three vaccinated. Not one of us has bought into the disinformation distribution on social media. Eating out and conversation provides all of Maslow’s hierarchy in one way or another. This chart is similar to one I saw many years ago.

An old psychology chart that I have not seen for awhile.

Godspeed and Carpe Diem.

On Making Pies

Perhaps if one would choose, a bit more experience would precede making a pie for company.

About Thursday of last week, something she saw on television or read in the paper caused her to decide that she would make a pie for dessert on Sunday.

In her mind’s eye, it was no big deal. In her mind’s eye there is no Parkinson’s disease. In her mind’s eye she has plenty of stamina. On the way home from dinner at Through the Garden Restaurant on Friday evening we stopped at the grocery and bought some apples. On Saturday she cut up and peeled three of the four apples and had to sit down. I peeled and cut up the last one and another for just-in-case.

She took her meds and laid down for a bit. When she felt a little better, I made the crust under her tutelage. We (I) rolled it out and started over about a dozen times. I quit to put on shoes and gather my stuff for a trip to the store for a premade crust. On the way through the kitchen I stopped to try just once more with a twist.

My twist worked and we (I) assembled the pie.

Today we will take it to my son’s house to see how it turned out.

My other son’s wife is an expert pie maker. I probably should have subcontracted the pie to her and they live pretty close by. Maybe next time I will do this or maybe next time I will practice making crust.

Martha Stewart has a website full of ideas.

My pie – ready for transport

Carpe Diem!

Parkinson’s Awareness Month

This is Parkinson’s Awareness month but for me it is just another month. I have expanded these thoughts and comments specific to Cheryl. In the comments below I have added information that she might say but these days Parkinson’s has robbed her of language. She can speak fine but words can be hard to retrieve and occasionally some severe confusion about what is coming, where she is, or, for that matter, what happened moments ago.

Nevertheless

To the Ones That Love Me…This is what you need to know about me and my Parkinson’s Disease.

This is not a death sentence, PD can be managed. Encourage me to exercise daily, it is MY MEDICINE. – It is remarkable how much a few simple exercises can help Cheryl. Many of the exercises are simply vigorous movements or stretches. At her Parkinson Community Fitness the class exercises are tailored to folks dealing with PD. She cannot do all of the motions that the instructor asks but she tries her best to do them. The exercises can pick her up in a way that acts on her body like an extra dose of meds. Many times afterward we will have a late lunch somewhere because she is feeling good.

Early on she recognized how much exercise helped her to feel good. When her mom was still alive she spent a great deal of time at Bridgeway Pointe helping Elaine with various things. Elaine regularly exercised on a recumbent bicycle-like exercise machine. Cheryl did this as well with her mom and occasionally with me at the YMCA. She sought out an exercise regimen at the Y with one of the trainers there and developed some exercises specific to her particular inabilities. Later when PCF opened we joined. It has been and still is perfect for a non-athletic person such as Cheryl.

Don’t make assumptions about my PD, every case is different. – For many years Parkinson’s symptoms for Cheryl were mainly physical. This is no longer true. Hallucinations, delusions, mental confusion and memory loss have added to the morass of physical symptoms.



A meditation – serenity and peace comes to me when I can see that Cheryl is safe and unafraid. Most things that occur with PD cannot be changed. It is very hard to accept that fact. It is a degenerative disease. In my manliness I can see, or think I can see, ways to mitigate and ease her mind, life, anxiety and worries. And when I have done that I have removed any small bit of independence that she still has. In Cheryl’s mind oft times her disability does not exist. She has yet to capitulate. A confused mind does not recognize its confusion.

My meds have to be taken EXACTLY on time everyday. Spontaneity is no longer, please help me plan ahead. — This is complicated by the fact that what is eaten either before or after greatly affects the usefulness of the medication. The primary treatment of PD is a combination of carbidopa and levodopa often referred to as Sinemet. PD is a result generally of a dopamine deficiency. Absorption of this chemical occurs in the gut and the presence of other proteins inhibits absorption. So, “Hey. I’m hungry let’s go grab a burger somewhere!” spontaneity is gone from our lives and has been for some time. We often forget that and opt for spontaneity anyway.

That being said, Cheryl greatly enjoys the company of others (friends, siblings, past acquaintances) during dinner or lunch and she easily loses track of time and pills, food and drink get out of sequence. Her body’s reaction to this is twofold; she becomes exhausted (but not always) and she may develop severe indigestion (but not always). She may have either, none or both reactions.

My health comes first. I need to put myself before other’s needs and responsibilities. – but Cheryl is unable to do that easily. it is not part of her personality. It never has been. She is the oldest of six children and as they were growing up, her mom gave her more and more things to do and help with. I tell her often that what we do and where we go is really up to how she feels. She knows that she needs to put herself first but she would rather be with family and friends even when she is feeling not so good.

The other aspect of this is that she may feel perfectly fine until we are somewhere for a bit and she will crash. After she recovers she will become apologetic and worry that she has ruined everyone’s experience.

Anxiety is real. Don’t overwhelm or over plan me. – I have over time gone behind Cheryl’s back, so to speak, and have suggested to organizations that Cheryl is involved it that they find another to perform whatever little task she has been doing for them. She was the go-to person for anything computer related. It was her career for many years. These days it is merely a source of anxiety and confusion for her. It has reduced her anxiety level and in some cases has made me the bad guy.

I am okay with being the bad guy if she sleeps better at night.

Sometimes l am exhausted, especially late afternoon and evening. – This happens most often after she has taken her medication. It seems the meds can overwhelm her body but not always. “Always” would be easier to plan for.

How I feel changes by the hour. I can feel good in the morning and terrible an hour later. I am not the old me who can multitask and go-go-go… – It seems that any sort of multitasking activity is gone from Cheryl’s life. I however like to whine about how many new things I take care of in our life now. Cheryl no longer drives. I am her driver (whiny voice).

Be patient and don’t overwhelm me. – two questions in a row overwhelm. If that happens with me nearby, I will answer for her and slow the conversation so that she can keep up. This can include repetition.

Apathy is real! – And sometimes attention deficit is real also. It is easy for her to start one thing and be distracted by some other thing.

Sometimes l just can’t do a task and need your encouragement. – Like puzzles.

Communicate with me on your concerns and help strategize new ways of doing things. – This is a constant activity in our house. It is easy to use up days thinking about and trying new ways of doing things. It has also taken some time to train the care giver (me).

Help me to eat clean foods and drink lots of water. – Cheryl really does not like vegetables of any different variety that was not fed to her as a child. I do not know if this has any truth to it but there are many things she will not eat or even try. Her idea of lots of water is two or three sips. These are my observations from my experimentation with Hello Fresh meal kits.


As a caregiver it is hard for me to explain how frustrating some of these nuances can be. Resistance of personalization of this disease is very hard to do. I mean this two ways – projecting my feelings, what I think she is feeling, onto Cheryl and dismissing what she tells me that she feels. One of the comments above is that every case is different. This is not unique to PD. Scientific medicine would like the mechanism of disease causation and progression to present as a commonality to all humankind but that simply is not so.

There is a lot of discussion of phases of Parkinson’s disease in medical texts and websites. From my narrow view that is mostly crap. Literally everyone is different. It serves no purpose to relate current symptoms to some list and determine were one is in the dance we all have with death. It is best to look for and act on the feeling good times. There will be plenty of time to consider the feeling bad times after one has passed from this life.

Carpe the Diem!

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!

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.

Carpe diem and Dessert

An old recipe that she really likes.

A simple batter cake dessert will perk up any parkie’s day. The last few times that I have made dinner I have taken the time to make a dessert. If that is a cake or anything other than ice cream and cookies, I start it first. Today I suggested another pound cake. Last time I bought any pound cake box mixes I bought four of them. I probably bought them at Walmart or on line from Amazon. I do not remember but this time when I suggested that and was holding a can of cherries thinking about how to jazz up the dessert, she says – I could make the cobbler recipe.

In our early days of marriage I was a student at Miami University. Neither Cheryl nor I was much of a cook so the Betty Crocker Dinner for Two cookbook was a bible to her. At the time I was less interested in cooking but more interested in eating. (and beer if someone else was paying for it.) College life as a married student was great. In addition to Betty Crocker we gathered recipes from friends and other sources. Some were disasters.

There was a spaghetti and hot dog recipe out of a church recipe book which was particularly offensive. Made more so by the fact that it made a lot of stuff so we kept trying to dress it up and make it more palatable when we reheated it as left overs. It is a fond remembrance of a disaster. We were young and poor. We did not throw food out unless it fell in the dirt and was unrecoverable.

The easy cobbler recipe came from the wife of a fellow married student. There were few of us on campus. Looking back it is remarkable that we found each other. But we did and they invited us to dinner one evening. They had a house in a nearby town. Janet made this recipe for dessert and Cheryl liked it and asked for the recipe. That was fifty years ago and she has made it many times since. Over the years she typed it into some word processor and printed it out. The original hand written recipe is stapled to the back. It works with any canned pie filling but we usually make it with cherries – Cheryl’s favorite. (Except if our grandson Gavin is coming for dinner. See grandma’s note above.)

I am unenthusiastic about this particular dessert. I do not know why. It is not bad it merely does not excite me as it does Cheryl. But it is simple to execute. I should have taken a picture of it before it went into the oven but I did not. Find your favorite mixing bowl and put in all the dry ingredients. I used a whisk to mix the dry ingredients first. I then made a depression in the middle and added the melted butter (or margarine.) I poured a bit of the milk in and mixed it with a handheld mixer and added the rest of the milk as I went along to make a medium runny batter that poured easily into the greased (Crisco or lard) 8″ x 8″ aluminum cake pan. The pan in the picture is of the same vintage as the recipe. (smiley face here)

We are having this dessert with spaghetti and meatballs, except I substituted pasta shells for spaghetti. As you can see below right, some of us like whipped cream on our dessert. I can personally attest to the great improvement by the addition of whipped cream. Vanilla ice cream, however, is even better.

It is February in Ohio and the birds are really attacking the feeder. We are safe and warm inside with comfort food and her favorite dessert. What could be better?

Parkinson’s may suck but there is always dessert.

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!