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.

On Cicadas

There is a low whirring (whoring?) hum in the air. I had forgotten that part. The birds are excited. I remember that part.

Not our Elm but similar

At our old house when we bought it in 1980, there was a huge American elm in the backyard. It was in the center of a square of yard about eighty-five feet on a side. It did not crowd any buildings or other trees so over time it had developed that beautiful umbrella canopy. We moved into the house in February. I remember thinking, wow that is a neat tree. At the time I was unfamiliar with elms and dutch elm disease.

When spring came it leafed out in a fashion similar to the picture below. The tree was dying from the back as viewed from our kitchen window. We got a couple of tree wizards out to look at it and decide what to do. The only solution was removal. It is sad to remove a tree that size. The tree was about sixty years old. The person who planted it was an optimist and we intended to cut down their legacy.

Summer of a dying elm tree

After the tree was removed we had a stump about four feet in diameter and about chair height that for a few years the kids enjoyed by having tee parties and building ramps to jump bicycles off of. The stump was in a level area at the bottom of a long downhill driveway. I watched from the kitchen one day as our son came flying down the driveway on his bicycle, went up the ramp and failed to stick the landing on the other side in the grass. Certainly a learning experience about Newton’s laws.

There are lots of Newton cartoons. I like this one.

We planted a cherry tree hybrid graft at the end of the driveway after we removed the elm tree. Fruit seemed like a good alternative. I had started a vegetable garden on the far side of the yard and left the center for the kids to play in. It was a grand space for play.

About six years later the cherry tree was perhaps twelve feet tall and producing enough cherries in a season that I was protecting the cherries from the birds with netting. The cicadas came out that year, looked around and said to each other, “what happened to our tree?”. They made the long trek to the maple in the back and the cherry tree at the foot of the drive. From the perspective of the kitchen window, it was as though the grass in the back became liquid and was flowing away from the stump. It was an incredible sight.

The birds showed up for the cherries but ignored the tree fruit. There was a plethora of protein walking around in the grass hunting for any vertical object. Robins ate so many bugs they needed a runway to take off. It was amazing to watch.

The female cicadas did a good job of pruning the small branches that come out where the tree blooms and then fruits. The year of the cicadas was the first year we harvested enough fruit to make pies and jelly. The following year was better. The tree produced even more fruit than previous years. I attribute it to the pruning done by the lady cicada society.

We moved from that house to our little condo about five years ago. From our screened in back patio area I can hear the whirring sound. It is raining a bit and will do so for a couple hours according to my weather app. The bugs have not whipped themselves into a feverish sexual frenzy yet. They will later.

Over time the moles have herded them into just a small area near our back porch. Some climb into our screened in area. I pick them off the screen one by one throw them out the door. Most are not instinctive fliers. About one in three flaps its wings and buzzes off to the trees in the back when I throw them out the door. I shout encouragement to them as I throw them out the door. I explain Newton’s laws but they do not listen. My wife does not like bugs. For a couple weeks I can have the porch to myself.

One got most of the way to the trees but, sadly was snatched out of the air by a hungry bird. Newton did not matter. Its genes will not be passed on.

They are not good fliers but that is not their intent. They are lovers.

Carpe Diem bugs.

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!

The Walk

She put on her year old Nike walkers. It was one of those sunny spring days that says fresh and new is what we are up to today.

Where should we go? – c;

Let’s go up Troy. I hate to go through the dip.- p;

Okay. -c;

There is a quick look around and search for keys and other kit.

What’s the weather like? – c;

Warm. Probably no sweater. – p;

Are you sure? I thought it was supposed to rain. – c;

Nope. Sure. Look. – p;

He holds the door to the front porch open.

It does look nice out. – c;

Out the door and off on two miles or so.

Cortelyou (core-tell-you or cortil-you, your choice) avenue is named after John Cortelyou who either developed or owned that part of Pleasant Ridge. On plat maps the area is referred to as the John Cortelyou subdivision. John and his wife Martha are buried in the Pleasant Ridge Presbyterian Cemetery on Montgomery. The pavement is narrow and parking is only permitted on the west side of the street. The part of the street that they live on if allowed to connect to it would make an acute angle to Ridge road. Troy avenue which meets Cortelyou just before it drops down a short incline towards Losantiville road makes the base of a right triangle with Ridge and Cortelyou.

Troy avenue meets Ridge road precisely where Ridge curves to the right to head south again after coming up the hill from the little valley that holds Amber creek. The short street meets the thoroughfare with an acute angle to the left and a right angle to the on the other side. There are mostly single family houses on the south side of the street and mostly multifamily buildings on the north side. It is a pleasant street. Narrow along its length but bright and sunny with few large trees along its length to obscure the view towards Ridge road.

Ridge road is poorly named because it never travels along a ridge in the earth but rather perpendicular to several. It would be more aptly named Over the Ridges Road but, no doubt, this name was rejected when the names were being given out or the makers of maps became tired of precision and in their gay manner shortened the name to Ridge rather than ‘Over the Ridges’ or ‘On the Way to Ridge’ or even ‘Up to the Ridge and down Again’ road.

As they walked they spoke of their surroundings and of people they knew. He came with her as he usually did on this day to get to know her better. They were empty nesters now. All three of their children were grown and moved away. He did not often want to simply walk around the neighborhood but she was okay with that she pushed him to get out of the chair and move. It is a nice day. Let’s go.

They took the acute angle at the end of the street and walked north in front of the houses that were originally built, as the story goes, to show off the type of housing available to be built in nearby Norwood. No matter the back story these are beautiful old houses set far back from the west edge of the street. Some well kept. Some developing creeping overgrowth. An earlier majesty and grace left for some later owner to recover and let the homes bloom again.

At the top of the rise where the road dipped back down into the valley, they crossed into the neighborhood on the east side of Ridge. Through a small dip in the topography and up toward Grand Vista. Grand Vista climbs a hill to the left as they walked toward Montgomery road. This road is known as the Pike by the older generation.

At this point the conversation is interrupted to ask, up or not?

I think not -c.

Okay. – p.

Following Grand Vista to the cul de sac and back out will add over a mile to the walk. One can turn a mere walk into a trek in this fashion. They continue to Montgomery Pike.

Turning south on Montgomery they headed back into the business section of the old village of Pleasant Ridge just one of the ridges that over the ridges road went over in its meandering trail south toward the old village of Oakley. Near this turn anchoring one end of the business grouping is the Pleasant Ridge branch of the Hamilton County Public Library. They paused for a moment to allow a young mother to organize children, bicycles and a stroller as the family left the library with their booty.

It is a magnificent day for a walk around the neighborhood and they are enjoying themselves. The temperature is warm. The sky is the shade of pure blue that appears after a spring shower washes the air. The daffodils are near the end of their reign but stubbornly hanging onto their beauty as early tulips attempt to shoulder them out of view.

As they near Kincaid Rd. another key decision point he asks, Kincaid?

Yes, she replies.

They turn north on Kincaid on the west side of the street. During this entire walk p. has moved to her right or left to place himself between her and the street. In his own mind it is proper for the male to position himself between the female and the passing traffic. He is not certain where this ingrained behavior has come from. He merely knows that is what he needs to do. So, he has placed himself on her right side as they walk down the street.

As they walk he notices that occasionally she struggles to keep with him and this causes him to slow a little and look down at her feet. The walk is narrow and he thinks that perhaps he has hogged more of the width than he is entitled to. As he watches she is not lifting her left foot always. She is dragging it in a limping motion.

Being a man, he teases – are you having a stroke, dear?

She replies with – I don’t know. My leg does not seem to work right.

They slowed more and he held her hand as they walked. She seemed to be struggling to maintain any sort of normal gait. When they got to Harvest they turned and headed back home.

I always remember Cheryl’s initial struggles with Parkinson’s this way. She remembers a different story. About this time she was a big deep water aerobics fan and participated in a class at the YMCA about three times a week. Later on we joined the Jewish Community Center and she did deep water aerobics there.

If you ask her she will describe going in circles in her water aerobics class when she wanted to go straight down the pool. She probably did that but what I remember most is this little walk we took one day many years ago.

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.

It was a Christmas Card Night

But before that it it was a pleasant day.

Cheryl fell yesterday trying to retrieve something from her office. Our neighbor had been over for a Lenten dinner of fish and macaroni and cheese. She brought some fruit and ginger bread. During our discussion after dinner Jane said something that caused Cheryl to go to her office to retrieve a church bulletin. She stumbled and fell into the corner of the cabinet that props the printer off the floor. She bruised her chest. It was hurting her today. She moped around for a while and I convinced her to take an Ibuprofen to relieve the ache a bit.

After a bit she announced that she did not feel up to going to church. A bit later I suggested that we go to our favorite park to walk along the riverbank. We did that. A wedding party was celebrating and taking pictures.

We stopped at Nick’s Cafe in Cleves, Ohio for an early dinner – late lunch.

We took the scenic route home and I suggested we stop for ice cream. Aglemisis’ is very small in Montgomery. We got ice cream to go and sat in the car for a time and just talked. When we came home she laid down and rested for a bit.

When she got up, she looked through her Christmas cards. She was comforted by that activity.

It is an odd disease – Parkinson’s