Visit with Friends

We had a nice long visit with friends yesterday.

Life long friends.

High school friends — Paul and I met in high school. We met probably in homeroom of our freshman year. My memory is vague on that account. Nevertheless we spent a great deal of time together in class. His surname was one letter off of mine, so often we were seated side by side in the back of class. Occasionally we were seated so that I was behind him in class and in one instance with a teacher whose last name also began with W, we were side by side in the front row. Teachers like alphabetical.

Paul was always nearby. I could touch him if I needed to do that. Sitting behind him in class was a plus. I was tall and grew taller in high school. He was taller than me throughout our high school years. In that one class I could hide if I wanted. It did not last long.

Purcell High School

We were not competitive in high school just good friends. It is rare that a friendship develops and remains throughout two lives in which being apart is as though it was not when those friends meet. Their meeting may be often or seldom but when they meet once more it is as though no separation happened. Our friendship is like that.

Through life our worlds separated and re-connected in a celestial mystical dance. We went to different universities. We got married. Magically our wives like each other. Raised families. Followed our own life paths. Attended our kids marriages. And as the families grew and spread out, we met up every few years to vacation together.

Cheryl’s reaction to an adjustment in her Parkinson’s medication destroyed our last attempt to vacation together. The disease is adding an element of confusion, hallucination and dementia as it progresses within her.

In the fall of 2019 we successfully made a trip to Florida by car to visit with family. After the pandemonium of COVID, I hope to make the trip north to visit Paul and Cathy. Cheryl occasionally talks about that and before I get too old, I suppose we should try.

With wonderful friends we had a wonderful, peaceful visit yesterday. We had long conversations about totally random topics that included children, grand children, the stock market, parents, food, diets and onward. Thinking about it now after the fact, I do not recall each individual topic. Our conversation merely flowed from one thing to the next. Occasionally it stopped. We were comfortable with listening to the cicadas. It was a pleasant afternoon and Cheryl had a peaceful sleep filled night afterward.

There are no cicadas in Minnesota.

Carpe Diem.

Memorial Day 2021

It is the very last day in May this year.

In St. Bernard, Ohio the little town surrounded by a bigger town in which my wife of fifty-plus years grew up and left at an early age, they had a simple recognition ceremony of those who were killed in the two world wars, the Korean conflict, the Vietnam war and the current excursions into Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a day of remembrance. Sometimes a day of sadness and grief.

Last year the ceremony was non-existent due to the COVID-19 restrictions. This year it was poorly attended. There were perhaps fifty people and half of those were participants.

A DJ played music before the gathering (including the green beret song), the appropriate marches for each branch of the armed forces (the new Space Corps was not included) as the particular flag was raised and “Hang on Sloopy” before the Ohio pennant was raised. “Hang on Sloopy” is the official rock song of Ohio. The Smooth Transitions, a quartet singing group, did a great job singing “Grand Old Flag”, “God Bless America” and “Our Land St. Bernard”. It had the feel of an outdoor religious service.

Wreathes were place by several civic groups to honor the fallen servicemen. The fire chief of St. Bernard read the names of those who died and as he was doing that a small flag was placed for each man at the foot of the small rise that is topped with flag poles and a monument.

Cheryl was feeling good today so I took her to attend. Afterward we drove around St. Bernard. We drove through St. Mary Cemetery to view her mother and father’s grave sites. Later we drove through Gate of Heaven Cemetery where my parents and Aunt Margaret Dwenger are buried. My mother’s older sister made a career of the Navy and retired as a Lieutenant Commander. She was never married.

It is Memorial Day. It is a day of remembrance for us all.

Carpe Diem.

Happy Birthday Dearest One!

Today is Cheryl’s birth date. She was born on this date many years ago. Many years before we discovered each other in life; God, fate or karma intertwined our existence together in life. It is meant to be.

Yesterday we celebrated. It was a wonderful party. She remarked as we drove home from the park, “That’s the best birthday I’ve ever had. Thank you for putting it all together.” I thank Anna, David and Scott (and Mavis, Eric and Melissa). I had very little to do with it.

Back in March or April when it was starting to warm up and we were both two weeks past our covid vaccinations. Cheryl was anxious to party with the kids and grand-kids. I hopped onto the Hamilton County parks site and reserved a shelter for her birthday celebration. Good time.

Carpe Diem.

Things That Make You Happy

Lately I have been thinking about this topic. It came to me while helping my son build a new shed in his backyard. We had planned to go visit on a Sunday afternoon. He had bought a kit the previous week. He had assembled the floor on Saturday and we used that to assemble the frames for the walls. It is was very satisfying work. It made me feel useful and happy. Dinner was good that evening.

That feeling of being useful made me feel happy. The physical exercise was probably part of it too.

The Covid-19 pandemonium has kept me from seeing my sister for a long time. It is not as though we need to see each other often but of our original family only she and I are left. Somehow that makes it more important to talk and see each other. I have set up a trip out west to visit her. My nephew, Jeffrey, is getting married soon, so she and I will meet in his part of the universe. We will meet up a couple days ahead of time and wear ourselves out eating and chatting. I have spent the money with the airline. The trip is set that makes me happy.

Acceptance of what is removes doubt and anxiety about what might have been. Those concerns that are no longer concerning can make one happy. Look at this little cartoon I tripped over somewhere. Look at all the negatives that one leaves behind by accepting the fact that it is raining. Yup. It is raining. You will get wet today. Plan accordingly.

One cannot change the weather.

Today I frittered away much of the day reading a novel that I began yesterday evening before going to bed. I very much enjoy discovering an author whom I have not read before and becoming immersed in the story being told. The outside world disappears for a time. It makes me happy.

Once in a while little disappointments creep into our lives. We can dwell on those and build them into the mansion that they are not or they can be let go. If one does not dwell on the disappointments in life and focuses on the joys of life, happiness comes in abundance.

Zarchary

Look at this face and tell me that it does not give your heart joy and make you happy. Young children in all their innocence have to be taught life’s disappointments. How would they turn out if they were never taught these things? What if they were only taught life’s joys?


In this world of Parkinsonism that Cheryl and I find ourselves I look for happiness wherever I am able to find it. Most times it is in the very small things where I find happiness. If Zachary comes to visit and does not get upset when Mom leaves for a couple hours we are happy. If Cheryl is having a good day after she has slept well she is happy which makes me happy. If we have lunch out and she is able to find something that she wants she is happy which makes me happy. In a few days we will celebrate Cheryl’s birthday in a park. It may rain. Inclement weather is predicted for that day. But I will be happy. We have had one more year together.


Stay moving and get as much exercise as you can stand. It releases endorphins and makes you happy.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31888602/ – A relationship exists between physical activity and happiness

https://8fit.com/fitness/exercise-and-happiness/ — How exercise affects our mental health

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/25/does-having-children-make-you-happy-yes-if-you-let-them — Children and happiness

Pie makes anyone happy

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!

How do you Pick Yourself Up? (2)

A birthday picnic is a great way to do that. So, I reserved the picnic shelter in the upper left of this aerial photo to celebrate Cheryl’s (Grandma’s) birthday this year. If I can get all of her kids and grand kids and step grand kids all in one spot, she will be satisfied and happy.

Cheryl’s birthday often coincides with Mother’s Day. That always comes up when I suggest that we have dinner, a picnic or some other thing to celebrate her birthday. “You know that’s Mother’s Day? Right?”, she will say. Actually I never think about Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Sweetest Day, Valentine’s Day, Sibling’s Day, Cousin’s Day or any of those other made up holidays. A curmudgeonly attitude to be sure, but personally I blame date dyslexia.

This year we are going to celebrate Cheryl’s birthday regardless of whatever else may be going on around us.

Maybe some of those other folks that have their own day will stop by to celebrate Cheryl Day with us.

Parkinson’s disease slows everything down so that many activities are hard. Just bull your way through that and do it anyway. Carpe the damn Diem.

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.