Getting hit in the face by a flying object

Getting hit in the face by a flying object:  a good way to get to know someone.

 A wonderful array of camping type hor d’oeuvres was spread across the picnic table.  Prosciutto, crackers, rye bread, smoked salmon, cheese, fruit and even foie gras! (although I don’t think we got into it) Beer and wine was available.  Special plastic wine glasses with the note “some assembly required” on the package incited conversation on the taste of wine influenced by what it is served in.  The beer drinkers tipped their bottles in agreement…glass is best.

Charlie and I were seated at the appropriate social distance of 6 feet with our new friends Laura and Paul.  The Deschutes River provided a wonderful backdrop for our meeting place; the entire park a luscious green with families of geese floating by on the river.

Laura and I became acquainted as one of us started commenting on the other’s blog.  We both have Parkinson’s disease, memory can be an issue, and neither of us could remember.  We found in each other many commonalities in addition to the blogging.  Travel, camping, music, backpacking…there was a world of things to talk about outside of Parkinson’s.  Laura was intrigued by my unique blogs.  I liked her humor and the accurate information she provided.

The wind picked up a little.   Engaged in conversation we did not notice it was becoming gusty, until WHAM!  Something had smacked me right in the face. Glad it wasn’t a wine glass or a beer  bottle, I pealed  off a corner to see Charlie working to get it off me, too.  Paul was attempting to save the prosciutto from the spilled wine.  Laura joined the action to grab part of the item covering my face.   She realized it was the new tent she had put up earlier to practice for an upcoming backpacking trip. The force of the gust of wind against her tent pulled the stakes right out of the ground.    She needs snow anchors I thought to myself.  The incident alarmed her but she handled it well.

“Well, Laura, that’s the first time I have ever been hit by a tent during cocktail hour.  I will never forget this.”

I took a good look at myself to assure I wasn’t hurt.  For having been hit in my face by a flying tent I was in good condition.

To provide humor and distract from the awkwardness of the event I told the story of hitting Sr Mary Ellen in the face with a boys size 13 basketball shoe.    I am saving the rest of that story for another time!

The Goulds and the Clupnys parted ways the next morning. We left the Deschutes River knowing we have new friends and a wild story about a tent flying into my face.

The River

m2The river

I want to tell you  one of my childhood memories. But along with it comes a geology lesson, my view of the river and thoughts about the present state of our country.

The childhood memory becomes very vivid when I encounter these components:   The Columbia River, a windstorm strong enough to make whitecaps breaking over small swells and a barge going upriver.

In the 1960’s My parents purchased a 16 foot  Sabercraft ski boat with a 100-horse Johnson out board engine.  It was an indulgence they thought would provide years of family fun. My sister and three brothers were breaking into their preteen and teenage years and I was the littlest and would be around the longest to enjoy it.  The Columbia River was the most logical place to take the boat.  It offered endless recreational opportunities and was about a 45-minute drive from our family home in Walla Walla.

The maiden family trip would not be disrupted by a little wind and white caps on the river.  Dad put up the canvas canopy and securely snapped it into place.  He launched the boat off the trailer and when it was docked mom and all of us kids piled in.  Dad drove the boat at the no wake speed out of the harbor and then he gunned it, which made the bow rise high until he had it “planed” out and level.  The boat hit the swells with a thud but that just seems to make my dad wilder. He spotted the barge pushed by a tugboat coming upriver.  Huge waves were breaking across the front of the barge and the tug leaving a 4-foot wake.  He took our boat with his family across those wakes at too fast a speed.  After being launched in the air our little Sabercraft came down with a hard thud that caused us all to come up out of our seats and hit our heads on the canvas roof.  The engine died. The barge pilot must’ve looked back and seen us and we heard a loud blast of the tug’s horn.  With the engine restarted and all children checked for damage,  Dad gunned it again and drove the boat back across the wakes to come alongside the tug, waving his hand out the window at the pilot and speeding past.

You can see why this is childhood memory easily comes to mind. It was a scary thrill.m4

The Columbia is an important river to the Pacific Northwest. It is over 12,000 years old and had its origin in the great Lake Missoula flood of the Ice Age.

Stick with me here, this geology lesson will be short.

Western Montana was covered with a lake about 2,000 feet deep.  An ice wall built up blocking what is now known as the Clark Fork River.  The rising waters behind it weakened the wall and water burst through sending rocks, ice chunks and debris downstream which  left ripple marks on canyon walls and dug out the channeled scablands of eastern Washington and the Columbia River Gorge.m6

Our family used that boat for many years.  When everyone was grown up and out of the house but the youngest, me, the purpose of having a boat changed.  My dad sold off the little Sabercraft for what he paid for it and bought a 25-foot Bayliner with a underdeck cabin. It was his ocean bound fishing boat.  There are many stories about his driving this boat over the Columbia River Bar and into the ocean.  We also had many good times on the Columbia River near us. Charlie and I lived about 10 miles from the river and helped my aging parents launch the boat with its 400 horse VOLVO engine. With Charlie as the pilot and me as the deck hand we crept out past the no wake zone makers,  and he would gently urge it into higher speeds.  Much more relaxing than my dad’s driving.


The Bayliner was sold years ago.  Both my parents have passed. But the river, the winds and the waves remain.  The basalt formations revealed by the grating power of the ice aged floods still fascinate me a do the birds, the fish, the wind and the waves.

This mighty river once flowed free.  Salmon flourished as did animals that came to the river to eat the salmon.

The interference of man has changed the river and its surroundings.  The huge Grand Coulee project brought irrigation and electricity to the region.  More dams were built.  More water taken from the river, more control of the flow for electricity.  And the salmon were almost lost to us.

m7My sis-in-love Mary visited us this weekend. She is an avid kayaker and we planned to hit the water.  A freak storm with high winds and lightning nearly ruined our plans. I kept a vigilant watch on the wind speed, and Sunday I saw it dropping by the hour.  We loaded up the kayaks and headed to McNary Beach which is just upriver from McNary Dam.  As we looked out on the water, we saw how wide the river is at this place.  It is Wallula Lake, the water that is built up behind the dam to be spilled out or run through the generators for electricity. With our little 10-foot boats ready, we paddled upriver hugging the shoreline.  The wind stopped; the water became flat.  It gently lapped on the basalt lining the shoreline.  Canadian geese flew overhead.  Flowers grew in bunches just off the small sandy beaches.  Tiny silver fish jumped around us. A coyote stalked its prey on the bluff above the river.    Deer came to the shoreline to drink.  There were so many things to see, to feel, to hear.  My senses felt overloaded.

There is such diversity in this place. In the thousands of years this river has cut through the cliffs, the land, the basalt rock, the vegetation, the wildlife has co-existed.  They live in benefit of each other.

We saw none of this when we drove into the park.  We only saw a big river.m8

When we drove out of the park I looked back.   I no longer saw the same river.  I saw flowers, and little fish and deer, the rocks that jutted out and the trees growing along the banks.  And there, a salmon surfaced.

If only we saw individuals.  If we did not see race.  If we saw every  human being as unique; that we truly need one another to exist…what if…..

Dear Lord, can we have another chance?m5

Hide and Seek: The Virus Game

Written March 1

There were many games played by the batch of kids in our neighborhood.  Between Berney Drive, Celestia Drive, Wallace, Trimble Road and Delmont street, there were three girls and at least and dozen and half boys.  When a large group turned out to play “Ditch em” was the game of choice.  It was the team version of the “Hide and Seek” game we played when only a few turned out.

In Hide and Seek, the “finder” names the “home base”  and counts to ten while everyone else scurries to find the best hiding place.  They stay hidden until the finder passes by them and then they make a run for the home base.  If the finder tags them, they become “it” in the next round.

How does this correlate with the virus that has invaded our part of the world?  Right now we are playing Hide and Seek.  Here in Oregon, the Governor has shut down schools and any school-based or community activity where over 250 people may be together.  It’s hard on our small communities, this being the St Patrick’s holiday and all events canceled.  Social distancing, where two people do not get closer than 3 feet from each other, has been declared a necessary approach to fighting the virus, as has hand washing and “Not touching your MEN” (mouth, eyes, nose).

What started as the smaller Hide and Seek from the virus has turned into a full out game of “Ditch ’em”.  Those parents who are still working cannot just “ditch” their kids.  Grandparents who may have been called upon to watch the children are now the most vulnerable to infection.  Assisted living facilities are on lock-down with no visitors in and no residents out.  Incarcerated people are susceptible to disease transfer, living in such confined quarters. As more people become ill with the virus, they will unknowingly infect others. Waves of sick people will come to already full hospitals. What happens when the hospital staff become ill?

The stock market drops.  The government discusses economic boosts to the airlines (what about cruise ships?)  Flight crews, attendants, ground crews, food service … thousands of people in this industry alone are out of work.

More and more players are joining in the game.

Hide and Seek .  Will we ever find the way out of the game?

“Our Hope”

tree 2our friends house trww 1

written May 30th

We certainly made the best of a stormy situation. Charlie’s sister and I watched as the wind took shingles off houses. We saw a lot of snapped tree branches flying through the air and decided we really didn’t need to go out and save the BBQ. The wind increased in velocity and pulled more trees up by the root, tossing them on neighbors cars and against their houses. Charlie came home and announced we were having company for dinner as our friends’ house has been damaged. Of course we had no electricity to run the oven, but we salvaged the BBQ from its wreck on the back porch and moved it to the sheltered front porch where it pumped out just enough heat to cook up ribs and corn on the cob. We laughed through our candlelit dinner, and even harder when we had our dessert as our rummy minds spewed out hilarious combinations of words, totally by accident and some possibly inappropriate. With bellies full and voices hoarse from the goofiness our friends took advantage of a lull in the storm to head home. The house is quiet now, well built, solid so when we are inside we feel safe. We do not hear the wind outside.

With turmoil all around us we live on. We laugh and cry, eat and drink, celebrate death and new life. Civilization seemingly falls apart and is rebuilt. This is “our” story. As long as it is “our” story there is hope. “Our” means we share it. we belong to it. “Our” brings us together. “Our” home, “our” town, “our” state, “our” nation. No matter the turmoil brought about by mother nature, or man’s nature, when we stand together, break bread together, clean up debris together, laugh together then we have hope. The hope, “our” hope will remain.


Show up

Do I need to bring anything?

No. Just show up.

“Parkinson’s disease is a disease of the brain” Davis Phinney Foundation Ambassador Edie Anderson’s Dr. told her upon diagnosis. Edie used this same phrase with her physical trainer when he suggested a balance exercise. She wondered how that would improve her symptoms. Trusting that he knew what he was doing, she showed up at the gym and after a few months improved her one-foot balance time from 3 seconds to one minute. We all know how significant balance is to a person with Parkinson’s. (Living Well with Parkinson’s virtual Victory Summit, Omaha)

A long time ago, when the world was “normal” I wrote about having some “tools” handy. I might need them if I got myself in a mess like falling off the step into a pile of cardboard boxes, getting up off the freshly mopped kitchen floor where I just landed on my behind or getting out of a deep bathtub in a convent in Spain where I was the only houseguest and the nuns were already secluded for the night. These kinds of events are things you cannot train for! Maybe If I lived in the jungle, I could use some Jimmy Choi, the American Ninja Warrior with Parkinson’s moves to swing from tree to tree. In reality, I live in a desert and I can hardly do a chin up, yet.

More recently my blog post titled “Lessons Learned from the Ladder” reminded me that what I do now in the way of exercises (physical, mental, and spiritual) will affect my future. It takes some level of physical strength to hoist myself out of my kayak (maybe about the same as a deep bathtub), so it’s important to keep exercise up. In the movie Titanic, two scenes come to mind. One is the scene where the band is playing as the ship sinks. What discipline they had to continue! They were experienced musicians, familiar with their instruments, playing standard songs that they had memorized years ago. They had the discipline to stay at their post. In another scene, the ship is listing to the side as a priest leads a small group of people in praying the rosary. (If you do not know about the rosary it is a reflection from the birth through death and resurrection of Jesus.) There are three prayers used in the rosary that Catholic children memorize and grow in understanding as their intellect matures: the OUR FATHER, the HAIL MARY, and the GLORY BE. The people gathered with the priest on the deck of the Titanic resorted to those rote prayers to bring them comfort and to connect them with God. By the rote memorization from childhood, they had a tool they could fall back on. The familiarity brought a calming effect.

I developed some “practices” during the pandemic. These practices help me to develop the “tools” needed to get out of deep bathtubs or get myself going when I feel like becoming a permanent fixture on the couch. The biggest tool was to keep to a routine. During the routine of my day I did these things, not necessarily in this order: Get up at 7 am. Reach out to one person in a low-tech way (phone call, write a note, drive-by or ride by their house). Exercise. Take some quiet time for reflection. Go to bed at a decent hour. Take my medicine as scheduled. Participate in online groups such as AMYSAYSDANCE. (Facilitated by Amy Carlson, Davis Phinney Foundation Ambassador)

But the most important practice was that I “showed up”. By “showing up” for my day no matter how bad I felt, I experienced some relief from my issues and got something accomplished. Having a fun activity at 8:15 AM helps. For example the other night I had weird spasms and my legs cramped horribly. I got the cramps settled down and took a warm shower. I showed up for AMYSAYDANCE and danced like a crazy fool. After that,blogger-image-1211957437.jpg I was able to participate in my morning boot camp boxing workout (Kimberly Berg And I managed a bike ride in the afternoon. Just because I used the tool of “show-up”. Today I had another “just show up” day. I had a terrible sinus headache. Four extra-strength Tylenol, two cups of coffee, a Claritin, and finally a Sinutab got rid of the headache but made me sick to my stomach. After “showing up” I was able to do 45 minutes of my 60-minute-high intensity workout and after a short nap and a bite to eat, I am finishing this post.

If you do nothing else, show up. The discipline of showing up is just one tool that can lead to other useful tools. Who knows, you may just find yourself stuck in a deep bathtub in a Spanish convent and the strength you gained from all those bicep curls from class to get you out.


May18, 2020

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

This is an undated entry.  I think I wrote it in March 2020.

No, you can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometime you find
You get what you need

Songwriters: Keith Richards, Mick Jagger

© Abkco Music, Inc.


My current health situation does not reflect that of poor mother earth and her inhabitants.  Although my personal wellness is not in question, there are many people in dire need right now.  I want very much to do something.  I want something big to happen, so everything will be ok.  I don’t like this new “normal” or the newer “normal” that appears every day.  This spoiled princess brat wants what she wants and she wants it now! I want the old “normal”.

I find it really easy to give up.   I can slip into an apathetic state and not want to do anything.  What I realize I need to keep at it, keep trying, keep living as close as I can to “normal”

I need to put  my nightclothes on at bedtime, and shower and dress in  day clothes on for the day. I need to get up at a decent hour which means going to bed at a decent  hour.  Keep my medication and meals routine.  Eat as carefully and cleanly as possible  (ok the blizzard I had last night doesn’t count).  Brush my teeth, brush my hair, wash and wash and wash my hands.

I need to reach out to other people, by phone if possible.  I called one friend to hear her say “hey you are on my list to call”.  Its not only good for me, but good for others to hear a real live voice.

I need to get fresh air by going outside or even just opening a window. Exercise is so important, especially if I want to maintain health.

Because of trying to keep things normal, I am getting what I need.  I am having conversations that count.  Thanks to ZOOM I am drawing with Lorraine in the Sketch class, dancing with AMYSAYSDANCE, cooking and cleaning like I haven’t done in years.  I am reading out loud for Madonna Bradys radio show. And I have started writing again.

Not one of us is getting what we want right now.   I believe by keeping things as normal as possible, and trying, not sitting and spewing or grieving but really trying, we can get some of what we need.

What do you think?

Tandem bike vs Recumbent Trike

With the pandemic influencing our whole world, I have extra time. Don’t you? After cleaning closets and drawers and any number of other household chores, I have taken this extra time as an opportunity. That’s not so new to me because I find opportunities just about anywhere. Getting on the computer I looked at pictures, read blogs, and scrolled through social media posts from days long past. Tonight, I found pictures of the Yellow Mosquito Eater and Grepedo. What creatures could have such names? These are the names of bicycles I have loved. Tandem bicycles to be exact.

Have you ever seen a two-person bike and thought…oh that would be so fun to ride. You can think that all you want but learning to ride a tandem is a lot of work. I am not talking about the tandems of the Daisy Daisy bicycle built for two… Or the kind you rent in a beach town to ride along the boardwalk. Those bikes have just a few gears and a big cushy seat. The tandem bikes I have become familiar with have 10 sprockets and 3 rounds or is it the other way around….3 sprockets and 10 rounds in the cassette. Darn words for bike parts always get me. I do know they have 30 or more speeds to choose from depending on the terrain…uphill we go to low or granny gears and downhill we fly in the higher gears. There is a lot more to learn about this tandem riding. There are actual titles involved. The person in front is called the captain or pilot. This person is a strong rider who is in charge of steering, braking, and shifting the bike. The person in the back holds on for dear life and trusts that the captain doesn’t drive you both into a ditch. This back seat rider is called the stoker. The stoker’s job is to provide power. The front rider has control over the handlebars, the back handlebars are for holding on only. There are a set of pedals for both riders and these pedals move together. Some people think that you can pedal at your own speed. That is wishful thinking because whatever the captain does in the way of pedaling, the stoker does too.

I learned early on in my diagnosis with Parkinson’s Disease that bicycling helped reduce the symptoms. Now, twelve years later we know that it isn’t just the bicycling, but also the intensity of the movement over time. Researchers call this forced exercise. Riding at a sustained 80 or 90 rpm over 40 minute period may not be something a person with Parkinson’s cannot achieve  by themselves, but on a tandem, the other rider assistswith the power to help get there.

My first tandem ride was a truly frightening experience. Friends brought their tandem for us to borrow. Charlie hopped on, and I got on the back and we started pedaling out of our driveway and on to the quiet country road. He pedaled fast, and my feet slipped off and flapped alongside the pedals. I felt the bike slow and then stop abruptly at the stop sign. I barely had my feet back on the pedals when Charlie turned the bike right, made a U-turn back to the house and stopped in the driveway. “Why the short ride?” Our friends asked. “There’s a problem with the bike”, Charlie answered. “There’s a terrible screaming sound coming from the backseat.”  I got off as fast as I could and went up to the house to get a shot of whiskey to calm my nerves. I had been scared to death.   Sitting in the stoker’s spot I could not see a thing. I didn’t know when he was going to stop, or turn and he didn’t tell me what was coming next. I was totally dependent upon the guy in the front seat. Our wedding vows said nothing about giving him full control on a tandem bike. I wasn’t ready for that.

Several months later I saw a yellow tandem inside of our garage. I recognized it as belonging to our neighbors. When Charlie asked to borrow it, Scott the neighbor took Charlie for the ride of his life. Charlie had the opportunity to have his own frightening experience.  The communication between Scott and Charlie was the same as between Charlie and me; nonexistent.  And I didn’t even have to pay Scott for the favor!.

YouTube videos showed Charlie how tandem riders were supposed to work together. He asked me to give tandem riding another try. We changed into our biking garb, which I learned are called kits. This includes spandex shorts with some special padding to protect certain parts is parts…what we tell our children are private parts.   Guys biking shorts usually have a suspender type arrangement whereas the lady’s styles do not. A colorful jersey is worn on the top. The jersey has some pockets in the back for your wallet or phone, a snack or some butt butter. Note: not peanut butter but BUTT BUTTER!

The yellow tandem came out to the driveway. We got on the bike, and Charlie taught me the commands. Pedal up, ready, going, gliding, clear, on the right, on the left, slowing, stopping, turning, bumps, tracks. We practiced them as we rode. It became fun. I still could not see much in front, but Charlie did a nice job of telling me what was happening. I relaxed and enjoyed the view on both sides of the road.

We took this tandem to ride on our first Registers Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. There were about 45 riders, some with Parkinson’s Disease, riding to raise money for the Pedaling for Parkinson’s Program. The second night out, someone left our tent door unzipped when we went to dinner and mosquitoes invaded. Charlie called these mosquitoes Iowa’s state bird. They were huge! We brought the bike in the tent that night because, well I am not sure why,   but I joked it was going to eat the mosquitoes. That’s how it got its name the big yellow mosquito eater.

We rode the big mosquito eater so much we thought we thought we should return it and get our own. So we ordered a co-motion periscope torpedo from the factory in Eugene OR and asked it be painted Oregon Ducks green. It went for three more RAGBRAI events. It was given its name GREPEDO by Nan Little the matriarch of the team.

Looking through the photos, I saw one of me curled up next to Grepedo, sleeping on a lawn somewhere in IOWA, a paper plate under my head for a pillow and in my hands was a napkin l held like it was the corner of my little blankie. Oh, the memories.

Last week I bought a new bike or actually a trike. It’s a recumbent trike made by the USA company Catrike, model name “villager”. It has one round and ten gears but it also has a pedal assist. I have ridden it a total of 36 miles, and my fastest speed so far has been 16 mph. I am in love with it. If you remember, your first pedal experience as a child frustrated you. You couldn’t coordinate your feet to get the pedals to turn. It was like that for me for just a few minutes. I figured it out and was off down the gravel drive and out into the lane. Fresh air in my face.

No longer am I forced to stare at Charlie’s sweaty back. I can see what is coming up in the way of scenery, or bumps. But best of all, I am in control again. I control the speed, the turns, the brakes. Freedom!

We still have Grepedo. It has a special place in our hearts ….and…. on the wall in our garage. I  look forward to more rides as I will always enjoy being with Charlie.

As the list of things I can do by myself gets shorter due to age and the advancement of the disease I am happy for any form of independent movement available. I am glad to own a recumbent trike, that I can ride anywhere I want all by myself!      Now to name it….hmm


Ping-Pong (because it certainly wasn’t table tennis)

Entertaining myself is not a problem. I am seldom bored. I can always find things to do, sometimes revisiting childhood games or teenage activities for fun. One day I reached into my memory banks to recall that I used to play Wii. Wii bowling was a favorite.

I have a long history of regular bowling. My mom was a member of a lady’s afternoon bowling league. My dad’s business sponsored a championship men’s bowling team. Some softball teammates bowled in the offseason. I met Charlie after he had completed a night of league bowling. I took bowling in High School and College for PE. When I was young, we didn’t watch football after Thanksgiving dinner. The entire family went bowling.

All of this was “real” bowling. It consisted of putting on slippery and sometimes smelly rental shoes, choosing a heavy colored ball from a rack, and throwing it down a highly polished wooden lane in order to knock down curvy white posts.

My form of bowling on the Wii had me coordinating my thumb on button A and my first finger on button B, swinging my arm back and bringing it forward, releasing B  at just the precise moment to activate the virtual ball down the virtual lane towards the virtual pins. It sounds challenging and that made me wanted to play Wii again. So I rescued “my” Wii from my son Loren’s dusty shelf, borrowed the missing games from friends so I could bowl, box, hit baseballs and tennis balls Wii style.

Charlie and I found several unusual items when cleaning out my parents’ house. (They didn’t have a Wii, but I think they would have liked it.) Some items were very small, such as a halibut’s eardrums and others were quite large such as a ski box, a steamer trunk and a Ping-Pong table. The ski box was built to the precise dimensions of our pickup camper’s floor. We were instructed to carefully organize our skis and poles in this box because if done properly there was just enough space for all the family members’ skis with room for the skis of one friend.   With the lid fitted, the ski box now became the floor of the camper. This box was made of beautiful clear pine and in its second life was used to make shelves in our kids’ bedrooms. The old trunk had become a receptacle for pajamas and nightgowns. I threw away these ancient items to make room for our many board games. The home-made ping pong table has a more colorful history and is the subject of the rest of this writing.

The tabletop was made of heavy pine, of the same quality as the ski box. It had a frame built so it could fit on top of another table or be supported by sawhorses. It was hinged in the middle for storage in the basement, but I never saw it folded.  It was actually used as a ping pong table but also had been pressed into service for painting small objects, building science fair projects, folding laundry and rarely, as the foundation for model trains.

Due to the COVID-19 homestay, I thought about what Charlie and I could do together that was more active than me sitting and writing while he watched documentaries.  In the same way I remembered bowling, ping-pong came to mind. I asked him if we still had the old ping-pong table. He went out by the barn somewhere and came back with it.  He put it up on saw horses and balanced it the best he could with recycled fence pickets from the old Funland playground. While wiping the dirty table I could see the top was uneven, warped. I looked for the paddles and balls in the garage closet labeled “sports” supplies. Charlie searched through our huge storage container. With neither of us being able to locate the net, paddles or balls Charlie ventured to Bi-Mart.  He found a $3 ping pong set with everything we needed and he wisely purchased extra balls.

Last night we finally tried it out. Just after dinner, the Hermiston wind rescinded and we donned jackets and headed to the back patio. It took two of us to set the net up.  We grabbed the paddles and Charlie served first. The ball came towards me, but on the hop, it hit an uneven spot in the table and went directly sideways, out onto the lawn and hit the dog. Charlie served again and was more successful. We got a couple of rallies going before the wind came back. Between the wind, and the uneven table, our serves and returns grew less accurate. The dog was hit several more times before she finally relocated herself to the side yard.  The lawn covered with ping pong balls looked like the city-sponsored Easter egg hunt with its several thousand eggs spread across the soccer field.

The sight of this tickled my funny bone, and I doubled over with laughter. My hysterical laughing made Charlie laugh. The wind increased. It got colder. We laughed more. Now too cold to play,  we went on our ping-pong ball easter egg hunt,  giggling over the funny places some of the ping pong balls had become lodged.

It was enough self-inflicted entertainment for us two old folks. The leaning, reaching and thinking about holding the paddle straight, and all that laughing, had worn us out. Charlie went right to bed and I fell asleep on the couch, only to wake stiff and sore.

Whoever knew that advanced conditioning would be needed to play “ping-pong”.

I can’t wait for the wind to stop so we can try again. Until then I think we will break out the cards and play “kings in the corner” at our kitchen table.


Living in the now

Living in the now


Today has presented several lessons about living in the now. I am really pulling out of my memory banks a saying something like “you can worry about tomorrow, agonize over yesterday but the only thing that gives you peace is living in today”.

I woke up before sunrise this morning and saw a friend was on a social media chat.  Hmm, pretty early so I sent a message asking her “What’s up?”     She replied “I am having twins”


Her responses were not filled with glee.

I can’t. I am worried. Everything is going to double, my body, my expenses.

You need to celebrate.


Everyone is a little scared about having a child.

I am scared to death. I am impatient. I cannot cook. I need a lot of alone time. I am going to look like a giant. I will never be beautiful again.

Oh, honey you will be more beautiful than ever.

The sun was glorious, peeping its golden head over the horizon. It was to be a fantastic day. My young friend could not see it. She was caught in the unknown of tomorrow.


A little time later I participated in Amy’s Dance group. Tuesdays are choreographing days and we are learning to put together moves into a group dance. Amy proposed that we each choose a dance move that represents something between our past before Parkinsons and our future. Steve’s move was the ASL sign for “now, or present”. You have to know Steve, he is a genius with words, has a pun for everything. His choice was so meaningful, so perfect. It represented where I want to be…in the now.

In the afternoon, I decided to rewatch the Davis Phinney Victory Summit from Baton Rouge. There was Amy again, not dancing but speaking on “Living Well with Parkinson’s”. She recalled her shock with her diagnosis. And now, it is a reality of life. She commented “If I think about the past, I want to remember things like when I took my son skiing. I have no control over the future. I could walk out into the street and get hit by a Fed Ex truck. Life is right now.”

The majority of my life I  hid my worry in planning. I wanted to be considered a well-planned and highly organized person. It was a cover-up of sorts.  Because of always having to plan, I had a really hard time “shooting from the hip.” It took a lot of energy to worry about my plans. So at this late stage in life, I am just learning spontaneity. I am learning to take each day as it comes to me. I like to think I am learning to dance.


Can you recall a day when you didn’t have anything planned? You just let it happen…what did you do?