One Friend is Silver and the Other Gold

(make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold

The week before I was to leave for college, a friend stopped by to wish me well. She shared her experiences of college life to prepare me for what was ahead. One comment she made stuck with me:

“The friends you meet in college will be the best friends of your life.”

She continued: You all start with a common goal to graduate. Your friends will care for you when you are sick after a party, take you to the athletic trainer when you get injured, feed you some cereal when you are hungry, and throw a blanket on you when you are cold. You will turn to them when you need to go out and play and expect them to cheer you when you are sad.

How could these college friends continue to be the “best friends of my life.” Time and distance separated us. There were a few with whom I reconnected.   I was a bit of a surprise to those who remembered a thin, tan, blonde, athletic, goofy Carol.  And when I told them I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2008 they looked shocked.

Symptoms showed up in my late forties. My skin turned grey after a lengthy intestinal infection. I suffered through bilateral frozen shoulders and couldn’t hold our baby, Loren. At work, I was troubled by anxiety and restless legs syndrome. 

 At age 50 I was stiff, anxious, and shaky.  I knew I was seriously ill.  But with what?

My primary care physician thought my symptoms were due to anxiety and depression.   Two separate neurologists nailed the diagnosis. They used words similar  to these to explain:  young onset idiopathic Parkinson’s disease.  Five to-7 years before life gets really hard.  Eat well, take your medicine and exercise.

Four years after my diagnosis I discovered distance walking.  My husband Charlie, our youngest son Luke, and I chose to start this new pastime in a BIG way. We would conquer 500 miles of the Camino de Santiago on foot. This ancient pilgrimage route leading to Santiago de Compostela in Spain was quickly regaining popularity with adventurers.  What started out as just the three of us ended with 10 Clupnys walking.  The Clupnys shared a common goal, to get Carol to Santiago

As we neared the end of this 5 week journey the walking got harder instead of easier.  My medication wore off at odd times.  The heat and physical exertion slowed me down.  Late in the afternoon I found myself hitting rock bottom.  Charlie and I stopped at a bar for a break.  I sat on the edge of a deck and asked the people around me if anyone had gum.  A woman who had been “walking in the day”(on the same walking schedule)  stood up. Back pack slung over her shoulder, she handed me a piece and stepped back on the trail.   I was feeling so out of sorts that I  snapped  at Charlie.  Since I was In an ugly mood I thought I might do better walking with someone new. I had seen her almost every day but I hadn’t met her yet.  I said to Charlie “I’m walking with her” and I stepped onto the path to catch up. Her name was Veronica and she was from Austria.  I realized that she didn’t have much English, yet I chatted as is she understood every word.  We came to a tall bridge crossing a reservoir. She stopped.  I turned to see that her face had gone white, and her body was visibly shaking.  I pointed to the C-Team patch on my backpack and gestured that she was to keep her eyes on that patch.  I turned to walk and felt her presence very close behind me.  We made it across.

The next morning I saw her getting coffee and asked if I could walk with her again.  I rattled off more of my life story and she nodded as we walked along. After dinner we met at a bar on the main street of the village.  Her second glass of wine emptied, she started to talk.  “Carol, I don’t always understand you. But I remember what you say.   And when I am alone, I think about it.  We are very much the same.” In rehearsed English she told me she was 54 (my age) and  her adopted son was 19 (Loren’s age). She retired from her job to find she had a serious illness.  She would see a specialist when she returned from the Camino.

I didn’t see Veronica the next morning as the family left our lodging. I asked around and found she had bussed ahead a day to catch her flight home.

 I didn’t get to say goodbye.  I didn’t get her last name, town, phone number or email.  I wanted to see her again, to hear more of her story, to be a lifelong friend but it wasn’t going to happen. Disappointed, I turned toward the path to Santiago.

I savored the solitude this last day of walking.   The rest of the Clupnys had passed me and were already in  church courtyard .  I made the last turn and there I saw Veronica carrying a grocery bag. I grabbed her hand. We laughed and hugged.  She said she had to go catch her plane.  I took off my pink hat and put my forehead against her forehead. My gold bangs touching her silver bangs.  I sang to her “Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.” Oh my dear, I wish I would have met you earlier.

 I put my pink cap on her head and walked toward the tunnel that opened into the church yard.  I had given her two things I treasured:  my stories and my favorite hat. 

And I realized I still didn’t get her contact information. 

It is now 2022. I have spent the last two years communicating virtually. There hasn’t been any forehead to forehead or silver to gold.

I was asked by Parkinson’s Resources if I was open to speaking individually with women who were exploring DBS. (Deep Brain Stimulation, a treatment for Parkinsons disease).  The first to call me was Jane.  We talked a few times and she decided to go ahead with the procedure.  

 Recently I met Jane in person.    She told me her story of Parkinson’s Disease and how her life was changed by a terrible fall and the man who left her.  I felt her hurt in such a deep way, physically, as if it were my own. I wanted to be there for her as a friend and a support.  But in that pain, I realized I wasn’t completely healed from the emotional pain I experienced with my diagnosis 14 years ago.  How could that be? It’s hard to support another person when you are crisis yourself.  She recognized that and the tides turned. She became the kind and supportive encourager of me. 

Jane had her community of support already built in a tribe of woman boxers with Parkinson’s.   I wanted to compare it to my Camino Family and my college friends,  who watched out for each other in the short term. No comparison. The band of boxers were the real thing.

 Over some lengthy phone conversations, Jane and I discovered we had many things in common.  But right now these commonalities felt like things, like objects.  Her stories were not mine.  My stories were not hers.   We hadn’t walked together, “in the day” or as part of a family where everyone took care of each other. Yet.

The last time I saw her we hugged goodbye.   I put my forehead on hers and she pressed her forehead against mine:  gold against silver.  And I knew why she wasn’t one of the college buddies, or a member of my Camino family.   I wanted to have known her from the very first time I could know. But its much better that I get to know her now.  As the person I am and the person she is.

And so its starts, another family, another person who is very much like me. We will walk the ribbon of road in the day and reach for the stars each night. 

Your best friends for life will be those you go to college with.

Uh, no. The best friends for life may be those you meet later.  The one you hardly know but trust enough to get you across the scary bridge. The one who isn’t afraid to let silver touch gold………uh oh. Jane what’s your last name. Do I have your email?

When I’m 64

I have a birthday most people  remember.  Its February 14th, Valentine’s Day. As long as I remember, my dad handpicked chocolates from Brights Candy in Walla Walla and placed them in a special heart shaped box.   Mom made heart shaped cookies or a cake.  In good times and in bad times, they always tried to do something memorable.

Mom and dad have been gone awhile now.  I have the cookie cutters and the cake pans at my house. There really is no reason for Charlie to drive to Walla Walla to get my favorite chocolates, but making my  birthday memorable, that is something he observed my parents doing and picked right up on it.

On my 16th birthday my brother John had his first acoustic guitar send to me.  I played that guitar until it was unplayable.  And I still have it.

 When I had my 29th birthday, Mary Kinsch proclaimed it to be St. Carol’s Day. I am not a saint by any measure.  It was always nice though to have someone proclaim it.

On my 50th birthday Charlie filled the cafeteria at Hermiston high school with friends and colleagues who roasted and toasted me.  And that year I received a welcoming into the elite group if  1 million people in the US  who have Parkinson’s disease.

Charlie dreamed up a birthday surprise that had me laughing from the get-go.  He told me to get dressed up so I sort of did.  Although  there are many friends I would love to have join me in the celebration, Charlie chose two excellent individuals to represent everyone: Erick and Nancy Peterson.  We met this couple last summer and we hit it off all around.  When I saw them walk into our front door tonight, I was exuberant.

Charlie announced we were going to a progressive dinner.  He proceeded to drive to the Ice Harbor Brewery in Pasco, WA where we had appetizers and I had a cocktail.  We entertained each other with stories and jokes until 7:20 pm.  Loaded back into the pickup (guys in front and girls in the back seat)  Charlie drove us directly to the Cameo, which is a special event  venue built into a hillside amongst the vineyards and alfalfa fields of the Walla Walla valley.   A bumpy gravel road took us over railroad tracks, across the Walla Walla River and past a heard of grazing deer to the restaurant portion of the Cameo.  Erick provided a commentary about the axe murderers we were going to meet.   Nancy and I got out of the truck wielding our canes and ready for any attack.  We weren’t disappointed to be met by a pleasant wait staff who attended to us through out a 7-course meal.  I must admit I haven’t been drinking for quite some time so tonight bottle of wine caused quite the sense of silliness. Let’s see how I feel in the morning.

I am tired as I end this story…

            Charlie delivered us home safely. 

Hugs and kisses were exchanged in gratitude for the terrific night out.

And folks  that it in a nutshell.  I had an early birthday celebration. 

AND…it was great. 

waiting for a pro

The Cat Connection

With the exception of two or three, the cats we have owned over the years fit the description of barn cats. Adventure eventually caused their demise as they wandered into the farm fields to be picked up by hawks or coyote; or climbed into visitors open car windows to get a ride to a far-off place.

The two young cats we acquired last August have managed to live through both scenarious. We were very careful with these little kittens as they were the offspring of feral cats and were susceptible to illness.

And get sick they did. One of the early days I let them out of their carrier into our living room. They proceeded to excrete a foul liquid from both the front and the back end of their thin kitten bodies. I reached for one of the kittens before it could climb up the couch. In doing so I tripped on a lamp cord pulling the lamp to a crashing thump on the floor. The momentum of everything falling caught me and I was pulled on top of the cord, and down to the floor on the lamp glass and right into the poop from the kitten’s back end.

The kittens were taken to the veterinarian who prescribed an antibiotic and special kitten food. They continued to hang-out in the house when we were home during the day. Then they retreated to their garage bed and snuggled with our dog Lillie at night.

I have become very interested in animals as pets and as support to ill or disabled people. My interested peeked when I had the opportunity to apply for a service dog and was accepted. Joy of Living Support Dogs of Salem Oregon is looking for just the right animal for my needs. When the dog is paid for, I will meet him, and our training together will begin.

Until then, there are two very astute young cats at our house. Today I was working on my laptop and a sudden severe headache came on. Charlie was gone to volunteer with the Lions club. I grabbed my phone and hit the speed dial so I could talk with him about the situation. Charlie’s phone rang back from the kitchen downstairs. With phone in hand, I lowered myself to the floor and laid out on my belly, covering my aching head with my hands.

The cat named Walnut came from her perch by the window and meowed at me. Then she snuggled in close to my body. She worked her way up to my head and started purring loudly and licking the side of my head where the pain was the greatest. She stayed there until we heard Charlie enter the house. When he called my name the cat ran to the top of the stairs and meowed loudly. The meowing got Charlie’s attention and he came upstairs to where I was sacked out on the floor.

A hot washcloth, two extra strength Tylenol, a benadryl, and a cup of coffee was my initial attack for sinus headaches. Two more Tylenol, a cold coke, and the application of an ice pack had me asleep on my bed. Two more Tylenol, a heating pad and a hot toddy allowed me enough relief from pain to get up and eat dinner. This has been my sinus headache fighting strategy for years.

Add in the watchful eyes and loud meow of a young cat. I am glad she was there to keep me company today. Her assessment of the situation and supervison of me while we waited for help was “magnificat“.

My headache is entirely gone. The cats who watched basketball from Charlie’s chest tonight are asleep in their bed in the garage. Another beautiful winter sun set viewed from the patio at the Clupny house brings us the possibility of a cold clear night and frosty morning.

If you are interested in helping with the purchase cost of the service dog, you may follow this link: https://www.tfaforms.com/4962730

Purchase Price: $10,800.00

And there will be cats meowing at the door, demanding their breakfast,

Good Night Friend

Across the miles I reach my hand

To brush your cheek and say goodnight

The fairy dust that lines my eyes

Will keep them shut so very tight

Its time to sleep but first I pray

And then on lilac pillows lay

The blue hour comes and goes and then

The darkest hour of time descends

The stars at night reach out to us

and twinkle like your eyes they must

You’ve walked with me in a dream or two

Our footprints fade in morning dew

The ribbon of road that lies ahead

Will distance us but once again

Across the miles I reach my hand

And you reach back a stronger friend

Christmas Eve

We knew it would happen. It still came as a shock when it did: Christmas at home by ourselves. We went to a 4 pm Mass and ate a humble dinner.

I will admit that I have not been attending Mass regularly at Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church in Hermiston. A pandemic of lengthy portion has kept me out of any place that is a collecting basin for people. I watched Mass on TV some Sundays. I looked for different locations to “distance worship.” Discovering Mass broadcast from the Vatican, Eternal Word Network and the military chaplaincy … I even came across Fr. Andrew Colvin (local Oregonian) broadcasting Mass from a small room decorated with icons at a military base.

The prospect of catching Covid-19 was only one of the reasons this cradle Catholic wasn’t going to mass in person. Other influences that caused my absence included the primary and non-motor symptoms of Parkinsons Disease from which I have been “living well with for fourteen years.”

The primary symptoms I experienced when not undergoing medical treatment include stiffness, small uncoordinated steps, balance issues and tremor.

Slow and stiff body movements have increased the amount of time I need to get showered and dressed from a reasonable 30 minutes to 45 minutes and sometimes even 60 minutes. Spending this much time getting dressed takes the energy out of me. I am worn out before it is even time to leave.

Growing up, my family attended the midnight Mass. We had to go early then as my oldest brothers and my sister were in the choir. I think back upon those beautiful liturgies, missing the incense and the bells. Now its difficult for me to attend due to the needed time and energy. It takes a day or two for me to recover from such energy exerting events. But I want to go. So for Christmas 2021, I started at 1pm and was dressed in time to go early to the 4 pm mass. In Christmas’s past this has been a children’s Mass, with a packed church and a live nativity pageant. When we arrived, it felt (and smelled) different. Where was the goat? The burro? The camels? (no Carol, just no).

With all this going on the parking lot would be full. This is why went early, just in case. The church was beautifully decorated inside with trees, poinsettias and manger scenes.

We sat down in the front row just as a group of juvenile shepherds, pint sized angels and a Mary and Joseph arrived on the scene. There were some royal looking individuals on the far side of the altar. In place of wooly sheep, a drum, blankets and brightly colored presents each of the guests carried a script and a microphone. With a signal from their leader they alternately read a piece of the Christmas story.

Sitting beside me was the mom of one of the participants. She looked over to me and proudly whispered “My child is an angel.”(not at home, I thought) The little drummer boy rested his elbow on Joseph’s back and yawned. The sheepless shepherd dropped his flashlight on the baby Jesus. The students invited the congregation to sing as they gathered up their props and filed down the middle of the church.

Doris, the retired organist, cranked up the volume and the priest Fr Maxwell sang along at the top of the lungs with the choir, celebrating the joyous occasion that I was in church. Actually more like so many people he hadn’t seen in a while were in church.

I have yet to share with you the one symptom of Parkinsons that interferes most in my life, even keeping me out of church. It is ANXIETY. Loud sounds, fear of falling, getting bumped into, kneeling and not being able to get up, incontinence, what people think of my appearance, having a yawning attack (yes and they are ferocious) speech blocks, feet that wont walk. this list is endless. My anxiety shows itself mostly in sobs, losing my breath, not being coherent.

One would think that church is a peaceful quiet place and I should not be anxious there. Its all about my lack of control over my body.

The organist ramped up the volume of the organ, Bells from all over the church rang. There were some mounted on a column near us and they were so loud! Father Maxwells mic amplified his strong voice as he sang. Charlie, right next to me was almost hurting my ears with his booming voice The choir the congregation, even the kids from the pageant were singing “Gloria Gloria”

I felt overwhelmed. I had no control over any of this.

The sounds filled my mind with memories .. on my bike hugging the shoulder of the road and an ambulance’s wailing siren ten inches away, the sound of a close lightening strike while I sat on my backpack on a treeless ridge… tears poured out of my eyes. My body racked with sobs. I put my arms around Charlie and he held me. AND it stopped. Suddenly it was over. not just the sounds of the church. The anxiety was gone too.

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 1 Tim

Dear God, how do I access this spirit of power and love and self-control. How can I control my body when the “controls” no longer work .

I have been brave enough to attend Mass on a few occasions since Christmas. And when I cannot make myself go, I am reminded of the spirit of power and love and self-control I am promised. And this spirit will overcome fear. But when?

A quiet house, a humble dinner, a drummer boy resting his body on the kid playing Joseph. Another Christmas, another pageant, no camels but a spirit of control. it’s coming. But when…

Birthday Weekend

Charlie’s Birthday Weekend

Nothing is more discomforting than having your husband turn 69 and not being able to get out of the house to purchase a present, or even a card.  What’s a girl to do?  Pull something out of your hat! Quick!

I called my friend Laura and asked if she and her 2nd grade daughter could come over for dinner.  “By the way, can you bring pizza?” I asked.  She did.  After dinner Charlie read the little girl some stories and she fell asleep on the guest bed.

For the adults, to bed and falling to sleep should be next step. But no, we had to engage in a discussion (a mixture of parenting, politics and bible based church dogma) that lasted until 1 AM. Charlie, the wise almost 69 year old went to bed.  Laura and I were quite rummy from the late hour already but decided in that late night early morning state to have a “wee shot of whiskey”.  The shots were very small as they from the little jam and jelly jars that we saved from the advent calendar.  We thought these shots were about 1/3 the amount in a regular 1 oz shot glass. Laura thought we should have a  chaser so  down they went with a swig of Shasta lemon lime soda.  (later we discovered the little jars held the same as a shot)

As with all late night shot drinking conversations, we passed through the stages of “see it doesn’t even affect me” to “omg everything you do or say is hysterically funny,” to ”I want to tell you my deepest darkest secrets but I am just not drunk enough”  to “ now I am sappy cry a little.“

I must have gone over the edge with one comment because about 4 am, Laura abruptly stood up from her comfortable lounging on the Blue Couch and announced:

I AM GOING. 

I replied: Ok I’ll help you get the little miss to the car. 

No way am I driving,  I am going to go and lay down with her.

 And she did.  She slept in, and as she slept I developed more of the birthday plan  and  I wanted to get him in the pickup and on the road for his birthday surprise. She looked like she had been to hell and back, stretched out on the Blue Couch and said  “advil please.  3 or four please. I made some breakfast for all and tried to move my friend along.  Soon it was noon and I wanted us to be on our way. 

I actually did develop a couple more ideas for Charlie’s birthday.  One was to drive to Yakima and eat lunch at the legendary “Miner’s” a hamburger joint. I had also asked a squad of people to text or call Charlie between 2 and 4 pm.  He was driving when the phone started ringing.  I suddenly had the urge TO DRIVE. At this point I don’t think Charlie had caught on. He pulled the truck over and we exchanged positions. Light traffic on the interstate allowed me to cruise along without too much anxiety.  But I was anxious none-the-less.  I saw the exit sign and decelerated, finally having to  ind the brake pedal with my numb foot.

Plowed snow lined the streets, was piled up car height at the driveways, and filled the far reaches of the parking lots. I saw an opening in the walls of snow and turned in so we could switch drivers.

The Miner’s parking lot was just a block away.  We went inside and looked at the menus posted on the walls facing the customerless lobby.  I had never seen it like this.

I peeked at my phone while we were waiting and I saw my high school friend Karen, who I saw once in the past 40 years, was on  messenger.   So, I messaged.  Within five minutes the birthday plan had a new twist.  Dinner was to be eaten at a restaurant Zillah called THE WAREHOUSE.  And there was entertainment. On Saturday night while the customers enjoyed a great tasting prime rib, they also were entertained by a live furniture auction.  I am not kidding.   Karen and her husband, Charlie and I had a marvelous time.  We won’t wait another 40 years to see each other.

So from humble beginnings of pizza and politics came a birthday Charlie will remember.

Thanks, God, for easy pleasers.

Left-over  vs leftovers

What do you think when you hear the word “left-over”?

Is it different than the word leftovers?

What did I have for dinner that would make a good lunch for today? ` What’s in the fridge that was great last night and will taste even better than the first time around.

Moms’ meatloaf! Put it on buttered bread and add some ketchup.  Excellent!  I can hardly wait!

The holiday parties are notorious for filling up the fridge with leftovers.  That ham we didn’t finish at the Lions Club Holiday dinner is taking up almost the entire second shelf. There is only space for a few baked yams.  Yams and Ham.  They go well together as rhyming words and leftovers. We will have those leftovers tonight.

Soup.  I was feeling sappy, so Charlie cooked up a nice fresh vegetable soup with stock he made from thanksgiving turkey. We had leftover soup and I knew my friends Ron and Anne would be coming over to play some bluegrass music.  I dug around for other leftovers and soon I had collected and added enough other leftovers that our soup so we could r two bowls each .

 Charlie makes excellent enchiladas so I was pleased to find leftovers for lunch. The enchiladas were accompanied by green chilis from New Mexico, green peppers, green beans, and green taco sauce.  We didn’t have to go to the store for anything as we made good use of the leftovers in our fridge.

The new year will be upon us so quickly.  I was asked today what my New Year’s resolution will be.  I have not been successful at keeping a New Year’s resolution, never. So I don’t make resolutions like that.

I

I did have some loose goals that were not accomplished

I suppose these are my left-overs from 2021.

They have been put on ice for almost a year.  If I pull them out now, will they taste even better.  No. What if I cut off the discolored pieces at the corners that look like mice chewed on them (ewww), butter the rest of them up, add some sauce to improve the overall appearance. Then, will it taste like mom’s day old meatloaf?

No, I don’t think so.

These left-overs are going down the garbage disposal with the moldy cheese from the bottom[i] shelf. 

I need fresh ideas, new adventures, not old stuff that got left-over from lack of interest. After all if they were good for leftovers. They wouldn’t still be around. We have finished them off already. 


 

Interesting…the next day

We arrived in Colorado Springs about 6 pm, missing the evening traffic. We pulled up to the motel where I had secured  a room for the next two nights.  I sat in the van while Charlie registered.  It seemed like it was taking a long time when  he came out with a mountain of sheets and pillows. I found this to be the “swearable” kind of interesting. 

What’s up?  I asked.

Our room isn’t ready yet.  He answered.

I walked with him to the room and sat down.

This carpet is filthy. I said.

He set the sheets and towels down and went to get a vacuum cleaner.  The vacuum cleaner didn’t work.  I checked the bathroom… the sink had toothpaste spit in it. 

I said: Charlie No, we are not going to stay in this room. 

You are being much too kind.  Mickey Odin would not put up with this.

Charlie gave me a funny look as if he didn’t understand. You have to travel with Mickey to fully understand.

Let’s sleeep in the van and bill them! I said.

I totally meant it.

He left with the broken vacuum cleaner.

 A little while later Charlie came back with another person.  She was telling him about her child who had a brain tumor. I am not sure why they were on that topic. She looked at me and said:

I am not going to make you stay in here tonight.  You  are getting an upgrade.

I replied, I’d be happy with a clean room, a free night and some dinner.

She helped grab some of our belongings and walked us to a two room suite.  By this time the  nearby restaurant had closed down.  Charlie cleaned out our refrigerator in the camper and found items to make spaghetti.  But he couldn’t get the stove to work. Interesting! The desk clerk came in and worked on it and then she called the maintenance guy.  Mind you this is getting on 9pm. I had my legs up on the couch, my  back to  the employees as they   came in and out.  Finally, the stove and the refrigerator were running. 

The desk person  stood and looked at  me for a minute and must have decided I was having a tough time moving. She brought me a can of ale.  While I had my back on the couch and my feet on the wall she  opened the can and put it to my lips like she was teaching me to drink it.

This made it spill down the front of me.  Could this get any weirder? I took the can away from her and managed to get a sip in my mouth.  It tasted very “interesting” as I tried to drink it . With my legs elevated was not going to work anyway. I was grossed out by her putting it to my lips.  I put the can on the far side of the coffee table.

We survived the night! The next day we took a ride around the Garden of the Rocks  (or was it Garden of the gods or some such name). We arrived back at our “cottage” in time for our nephew to come pick us up for dinner.

 I was preparing to change my clothes and a person  from housekeeping came right in the door.  I didn’t hear a knock.   She had a small throw rug in her hand.  She put it down  to cover some bad spots in the floor!  Luckily the bad spots were under the window at a place I would not be walking.  However, on the way out the employee stumbled on some broken pieces of floor tile on the threshold between the living area and the bedroom. 

 “Although this is broken, it would not be a good place to put a throw rug “I suggested. 

Dooley the van was parked right outside the main door to our room.  (did I already mention the living room had an outside door and the bedroom had an outside door.}  There was just enough room to squeeze between Dooley and the outside walls.  If I was a walking to my room I would certainly avoid that path and and walk into the parking lot to avoid getting stuck.

We had returned from our dinner and just gotten into bed. Lights were out and Charlie and I were chatting quietly. 

We heard some women talking. They were very close to us.  In fact they were in our ROOM!


This is not our room.  Says woman A.

You bet its not your room .  Says Carol C.

How did we get in here .  Says Woman B. (they had to work at it because of the van)

I don’t know but you better get out  Says Carol C.

They left .  Charlie locked the dead bolt on the door and we slept through the night.   Getting up for breakfast in the morning, Charlie opened the door. There was our key.  It was right there in the lock where he had left it last night. 

Lets get out of here.  Says Carol C to her husband, driver and care Partner.  AND WE DID!

“Interesting”

Interesting

You all know what I mean by “Interesting” don’t you?

I use it to mean odd, unusual, and sometimes I use it when I really want to say a swear word.

We are hardy campers, Charlie and me. It’s just getting to where we are going to lay our heads that is sometimes the challenge. More on the stress of navigating in another blog post


This night we were in Great Bend, Kansas. We ate a great dinner and felt greatly tired from the rigors of a great day. We had planned to stay in a city park about 30 miles away.


Those plans changed as it got darker. We like to pull into a camp spot in the light. So we started calling, looking for a great place to park in the near vicinity of Great Bend. The second call found a place with space. We followed the directions from a gentleman who made us feel like we were having a conversation with the Dell computer support desk. And the lady who narrates our GPS announced our arrival at the destination (on your right). Where ma’am? Please tell us! We thought we had missed it. It didn’t look much like the RV parks we stayed at before. It wasn’t like any place we stayed at before.
Here were abandoned single-wide trailer houses with broken windows and doors half off their hinges interspersed with newer RVs that hadn’t been moved in months. Grass grew windowsill height around the various Winnebago and Montana branded 5th wheels and travel trailers while the rest of the lawn was cut short.


The roads apparently had once been paved but now consisted of one pothole after another. Instead of a golf cart guide like a KOA, the man who led us to our campsite was driving a spanking new 2021 Chevy pickup (just like the one our son Luke would like to have). I imagined golf carts getting stuck in the potholes, but maybe a beat-up old Ford would be a better choice for this location. We followed him over the curb and up on the lawn and near a post in the ground that had some electrical wires poking out. The guy wanted Charlie to drive the van over the sewer outlet so that the van straddled it. Usually, it is alongside the van on the “service side” where the hose goes. Weird. If Dooley could speak, he would comment on how he felt odd in that strange arrangement. As soon as the man drove off to get a converter for 30 amps, (the power to the pole was 50 amps) Charlie backed the van into the correct position. I could almost hear Dooley let out a sigh of relief.

When I opened the door, the mosquitoes invaded in droves. Believe it or not, this was my first encounter with mosquitoes this year! I could have done without. After he had the van connected to the services, Charlie spent a good amount of time killing skeeters with his bare hands. Ugg, bedtime.

Falling asleep was easy, but at 2 am the pouring rain caused me to wake up and close the windows. I finally fell back to sleep at 4 am. And the alarm rang two hours later. We left this interesting campsite at 7 am and found a Perkins Cake and Steak. I ordered something that turned out to be a very salty starchy breakfast. Interesting. Great Bend was not so great at all.

We drove, or I should say Charlie drove a long way across Kansas and into Colorado. The following two Blog posts will tell the “interesting” events of the next two days.

From pedaling across Iowa to Fishing in Wisconsin: How did these two people with Parkinsons meet?

on solid ground DPF Ambassadors Michael Fahning and Carol Clupny

I wonder what Michael thought when I asked if we could meet up with him during our upcoming road trip. More than that, I wonder what he thought when I asked if he would arrange a guided fishing trip to enjoy together.

Michael Fahning is an Ambassador for the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinsons. He has been living well with the disease for 20 years.

I also am a DPF Ambassador. This is not where I met Michael. I actually met him on a social media page where he was seeking information about the Registers Annual Great Bicycle Across Iowa. Having just registered for the week long cycling event and seeing his question come up I typed a quick note. I told him about signing up with Dr. Jay Alberts’ Team “Pedaling for Parkinsons”. Jay was doing research and had discovered how a certain formula of pedaling decreased the symptoms of Parkinsons by 30 percent. Michael was jazzed by the research and by the team and he signed up.

Michael and I became friends on social media sites. Yet you can learn only so much be reading posts. So last Friday night after fishing on Moose Lake we sat by a campfire admiring a beautiful starry sky. I asked Michael further questions about his life. The top thing on his list is gratitude. Michael told me he wakes up every day thanking God for all he has. I learned he is dedicated father to his three (now adult) sons. His deep family ties were reinforced by his recent move to the Minneapolis area. This put Michael in a better housing situation. With that he has his complete immediate family within an hours drive. He sees them regularly.

Michael’s involvement in the Parkinsons community has been long lasting. He enjoys meeting in person, one and one or in small groups. He has helped others by modeling bicycling skills and Nordic walking. And he takes several fishing trips a year! More important than sharing his love of outdoor activities, Michael’s calm nature invites friendship.

I learned how to catch a muskie, how to ride safely in a lake fishing boat, and how reaching out to someone you know a little can strengthen friendships a lot.

i