Baseball and Bluegrass July 1, 2016

I have only attended a handful of Bluegrass festivals in my life. Not that I didn’t want to.  Life just has its way of getting in the way.  You may not be familiar  with this activity so I will do a bit of explaining before we get to baseball and I really confuse  you. A bluegrass festival is an event sponsored by some entity such as a local bluegrass group, a traditional music society or a town..  Most often the attendees pay a fee to purchase a wristband which gets you into the Main Stage area to listen to various bands  or attend workshops.  There a open mic times, band scrambles and usually a gospel music hour. Attendees camp out at fairgrounds,  on football fields  or in parks where the event is held. My favorite part is the campsite ” jam” sessions.  Musicians wander around with their instruments and stop to listen to circles at different camps with hope of being invited to play. If one is lucky enough to be hanging out with friends already,  others come join you. I like that best.

Each festival has its own flavor which has contributed to distinct memories.  I have to remind myself that I did not start to play this kind of music until after I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.  There have been days when I could pick along with the group at break neck speed and others when I sat with my arms hugging my guitar close to my chest because my hands and arms  wouldn’t cooperate.   A guitar amplifies sound in its  big body.  Being able to hug my guitar  brought comfort to me and soothed  the extreme frustration when my brain could not make my limbs work.

One festival I played with group of people I did not know.  As the evening slipped away  I asked the time and was told ten minutes after nine. WOW, it seemed later than that.  They must have wanted me to stay around because it was actually 10 minutes before 2 am.  Another year a rowdy group started singing “Dead Skunk in the middle of the road” and other groups in the vicinity joined in the chorus to serenade the coyotes (and any nearby skunks).  One festival’s  location had wonderful biking trails and pedaling won over picking as I put over 70 miles on the odometer.
Good memories go on and on.

My trip to Fossil yesterday provided more fodder for pulp.  I love that I am able to drive myself. Bluegrass Junction was tuned in on Sirius and I arrived about when  I expected and just in time for my friend Maryhelen to get off work.  We visited McMaster’s guitar booth.  While listening to the stage bands we were entertained by a hoola hoop artist who danced beautifully to each song…with her hoola hoop.  Bands and hoola hooper finally took a dinner break.  It was then I spotted them…


As I watched them toss the ball back and forth memories flooded my brain.  I could feel the ball burn in my glove when I played catch with a younger Luke. (I could remember when I first knew something was wrong as I threw the  ball for the dog and it went about 5 feet.) My fielders glove was like an extension of my hand after playing softball from March to October for so many years.  Setting any inhibitions aside, I picked up my trekking poles (which help me go long distances fast) and walked directly to the men.  I introduced myself and explained I hadn’t thrown a ball in many years. When I saw them playing catch I wondered  if my recent brain surgery had improved that function.  As Dr Hiller completed the first programming of my DBS in April, she manipulated  my right arm which included some throwing type movements;  movements that until  seeing the men playing catch  I had not thought of attempting.

The gentlemen, Leif and his dad Pete, appeared quite surprised at my request, yet they were willing to oblige.  My hands were really shaking as I put my left hand in Leif”s glove and took the baseball in my right. I was worried that I could not throw, or that I would “throw like a girl”.  But I felt it .  I felt the motor memory kick in. I threw it directly into Pete’s glove.  Pete threw back and I threw the next one harder. “Have you played some baseball in your life?” Pete asked me. It felt so natural, like I had just played yesterday.”Many seasons of softball” I replied.

About 10 throws were enough.  We talked a bit more.  Leif and his dad Pete  have a story to tell about playing catch with a 58 year old woman with Parkinson Disease at a Bluegrass Festival in Fossil, Oregon.   And I have another thing to thank God for…another gift of movement that I didn’t know  had been returned to me.

Anyone want to play catch? I have two gloves and a softball in the garage.

Published by Carol Clupny, author The Ribbon of Road Ahead: One Woman's Remarkable Journey with Parkinson's Disease

I am a middle aged woman with Parkinson's Disease. When I was first diagnosed I spent a lot of time researching the disease. Seeing a video of a man in the advanced stages of the disease attempting to get out of his chair and then "freezing" as he tried to walk across the room got me off my butt and moving. Great adventures on the Camino de Santiago and with TEAM Pedaling for Parkinson's across IOWA, as well as the day to day adventures of life have lead me to writing. My first novel, a memoir, was published early 2019. It is called, you got it THE RIBBON OF ROAD AHEAD. Living with the degenerative neurological disease Parkinson's, ULTREIA is a word that guides me. I have chosen it as the name of my business ULTREIA BOOKS. It comes from Latin and old French and means "unfailing courage". In the old days, pilgrims would call "Ultreïa" to each other as encouragement "Go up, go further!" Nowadays we would say "You can do this thing". It takes courage to live with Parkinson's. May I face each day with unfailing courage. Ab Here is more about me; I was living an active lifestyle riding horses, hiking, climbing and snow skiing when at age fifty I was diagnosed with Parkinsons. Retiring from my career as a speech-language pathologist I decided to “take to the road” to battle the disease. My first steps, walking out her door to the mailbox, lead to trekking over 1000 miles of pilgrimage trails on the Camino de Santiago in France and Spain. A dusty bike discovered in the garage resulted in four rides on the Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa with the Pedaling for Parkinsons Team. These adventures inspired me to write a memoir The Ribbon of Road Ahead: One Woman’s Remarkable Journey with Parkinson’s Disease. I blogs about my everyday life as a middle-aged woman in the mid-stages of Parkinson’s disease. My honest, humorous, and casual narrative style brings the reader to an intimate understanding of my resilience and acceptance. My blog, sharing the name of my book ”The Ribbon of Road Ahead” can be found at After completing a Masters of Science in Speech Pathology from Eastern Washington University I received certification in School Leadership and Administration from Lewis and Clark College. I provided speech pathology services and later became a program director completing 32 years in the wide geographic expanse of eastern Oregon. Active in the Oregon Speech-Language and Hearing Association I received honors of the association and the presidential award for work on recruitment and retention of speech and hearing professionals. Il presented numerous papers and projects at local, state and regional professional conferences. I was appointed by Governor Ted Kulongoski to two terms of the Oregon Board of Examiners of Speech Pathology and Audiology, the state’s licensing and consumer protection agency. Since my diagnosis in 2008, I has become active in the Parkinson’s community as an advocate, an Ambassador for the Davis Phinney Foundation and support group facilitator for Parkinson's Resources of Oregon. I was appointed the regional patient representative for the Parkinson's Foundation’s Women with PD TALK study. In September of 2019 the Michael J Fox Foundation selected me to participate in the Parkinson’s Policy Forum in Washington DC. As an attendee at the World Parkinson Congress in 2016 in Portand, Oregon, I presnted a poster session examining the decision making process for patients considering deep brain stimulation. At the 2019 WPC in Kyoto, Japan I presented a poster on vision concerns of women with PD and lead small group discussions. Myr book The Ribbon of Road Ahead has provided many speaking opportunities for Carol. In 2019 and early 2020 she visited 24 support groups in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and California to share her thoughts on living well with the disease. In addition, she has presented talks for The Center on Aging in San Francisco, Parkinson's Place in Las Vegas, Northwest Parkinson's Foundation in Richland WA and virtually through their HOPE online program. In late 2020 I rejuvenated her voice and narrated her book. It became available as an audio book in 2021. As part of this project I read stories over the airwaves on RadioParkies Australia with DJ Madonna and in Great Britain with DJ Johnny Parky. She and her husband Charlie have two adult sons. They live on a small hobby farm in eastern Oregon. Contact Information: Carol Clupny PO BOX 128, Hermiston, OR 97838 (541) 720-4256

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