Category Archives: Uncategorized

My World Turned Upside Down

Last fall, my husband went to see a physical therapist for his back problems. He is a retired tile contractor, and years of laying tile floors and running up and down ladders with hundred-pound sacks of sand on his shoulders have taken their toll.

The physical therapist put him through a few exercises, and said, “Al, you have a neurological problem. I think you have Parkinson’s.”

Subsequently, two doctors suggested her suspicions were valid, so we saw a specialist at OHSU in Portland, Oregon. No question. Parkinson’s. Stage 2 (of 5).

Parkinson's

In retrospect, of course, we had just never connected the dots. Parkinson’s Disease is such an individual thing. Each patient reacts to it differently. Al had many symptoms, but we thought they were just the effects of aging. The increasing tremor in his hand, we discounted as a “familial tremor,” common to men of his age. His sinus issues at night he contributed to dog dander or dust. Increasing pain in his lower back… well, all that tile work.

Parkinson’s is a progressive degenerative disease that will eventually rob my sweet husband of his robust good health and eventually his memory. All our retirement plans vanished in an instant with that diagnosis, and suddenly what money we had saved for years became redirected for his personal care as his disease progresses.

Resesarcher that I am, I started to learn everything I could about the disease. There is a very active Parkinson’s Disease Support Group in our town, and we go to the meetings to learn what to do, what to expect. There is also a very active Parkinson’s Caregivers Support Group here, and there I absorb the experience, hope, and strength from long-time caregivers who have so much to teach me.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation is a wealth of information, including very well-moderated monthly webinars. This is only one of a half dozen excellent organizations, and there are regional and local resources as well. I am involved and drawing from them all.

I need to learn about this disease, this new roommate, this interloper in our lives, but as Parkinson’s affects everyone differently, I don’t want to look too far in the future.  First, because it scares the crap out of me, and secondly, because that is not necessarily how it’s going to be for Al, for us.

Today I’m grateful that he is in good health, and we work toward maintaining that with exercise and good humor. He still fishes, golfs, rides his bike. The only medication he takes so far is to help him get a good night’s sleep. More medication is in his future, and we are not looking forward to dealing with the side effects.

We are re-evaluating the things we want to do: trips he wants to take while he is still able to travel alone, trips I want to take while he is able to stay home by himself, trips we want to take while we are still able to travel together.

The irony is not lost on me that I, with zero patience, end up with a husband with Parkinson’s. But I have discovered that I can have patience. Right now I am concentrating on creating sweet moments for the two of us. That helps me stay on track. I can’t be impatient, bitchy, and resentful while simultaneously creating a sweet moment.

This blog has always been about my life–my life as a writer–and now much of my life is about Parkinson’s Disease. I won’t dedicate this blog to that, but I will post my own experience, strength, and hope as I move through this unexpected chapter.

 

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Candyland

For a long time, my short novel, Candyland, was only available in the collection The Alchemy of Love. Now, it is available as an ebook, an audio book, and now, finally, as a stand-alone paperback.

candylandpapercover

After fifteen years of hard work, Candiland, the movie based on my book, was finally filmed and released. This was an incredible labor of love by everyone, and quite a sacrifice-for-the-art by the star James Clayton. Every one involved in the production did a stellar job, including James, and his co-stars Chelah Horsdal and Gary Busey. Rusty Nixon wrote a wonderful screenplay and filmed it with a deft hand.

Candiland

Working with Motorcycle Boy Productions was a true pleasure in every respect. I was able to be on set for a couple of days, to review the script before filming, and was consulted on several issues.

There was no requirement for them to involve me in the process, but they did, and for that I will be eternally grateful.

Having a book turned into a movie is the dream of every author, and I sincerely wish author can have the same experience.

 

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Family Values

I hear a lot about “family values,” although never more than during an election cycle.

My question is: What are family values? People tout that phrase all the time, yet when pressed, I can’t imagine that a one of them could mention a single value that would fill the bill.

values

(As an aside: People who talk about “family values” are usually the same people who say they’re fighting for “social justice,” but I suggest that most of them cannot define “justice.”)

So for people interested in values, these are the seven that I hold dear. I believe they are universal as well as personal. I believe they are inherent in our DNA. I believe that any law written anywhere should be held up to this short list of values to see if it passes muster. If so, let it be. If not, then tweak it until it does.

Life

Equality

Quality of Life

Opportunity for Personal Growth

Empathy

Compassion

Love for Humanity

Please note that Life, Equality, and Opportunity for Personal Growth are strangely similar to: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, a phrase etched into the Declaration of Independence. Those men knew what they were talking about.

These are good values for your family. If we all taught our children to admire these values and adhere to them as adults, our society would be a better place. Our world would be a better place.

It’s never too late to adopt them as your own.

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Benediction Denied

Delighted to be among the amazingly talented people writing books inspired by Matthew Lowes‘ Dungeon Solitaire Card Game.

Coming next spring from Shadow Spinners Press.

Stay tuned…

benedictiondeniedcoverjpg

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Government is not promoting good health

I know, this sounds like a conspiracy. Well, I believe it is.

I have just started a petition at http://www.whitehouse.gov asking the administration to instruct the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) to write the National Dietary Guidelines, not the USDA (Department of Agriculture).

Please review the petition here, sign, it and spread the word.

As top executives at the Department of Agriculture have traditionally had long-standing ties with big agribusiness, and as heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes are at epidemic rates, and as diet is largely responsible for our health, I believe the fox is minding the hen house when it comes to the health of the American public.

The pharmaceutical, beef, chicken, egg, dairy industries and their ilk do not have the best interests of the public at heart. Their best interests are in profits. The pharmaceutical industry, for example, profits from the sicknesses and diseases that the high fat, high cholesterol Standard American Diet from the USDA guidelines. The sicker the American people get, the more money the pharmaceutical industry makes. For the USDA to promote artery-clogging meat, milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs, chicken, and pork as a hefty portion of the Standard American Diet is irresponsible to the extreme, and causes hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths every year.

If we want to reduce the top health hazards of Americans (heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc.), and thereby drastically reduce the amount of money spent on health care every year, these dietary guidelines must come more in line with the guidelines proven to prevent and sometimes even reverse the ravages of disease caused by poor diet. The government organization most likely to do the independent research required to conceive a healthy dietary guideline is The Centers for Disease Control.

I refer to Dr. Neal Barnard’s The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Dr. Dean Ornish’s Preventive Medicine Research Institute, Dr. Michael Greger’s nutritionfacts.org, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyne’s Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Program, Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s Center for Nutrition Studies, and others.

If you’re not familiar with these ground-breaking studies, it would be good for your health and the health of your family and the health of the planet if you looked into it. Start with these websites, read these doctors’ books.

And if you like what you find, please sign the petition.

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I Rode the Bus Yesterday

It’s not as if I’ve never ridden a bus.

When I’ve ridden the bus before, it has been in a strange city, or because my car died, or I didn’t want to ride my bike home in the rain. Never before had I just decided to take the bus to go where I wanted to go and then come home again. But I did yesterday. What makes yesterday different is that I have reached a “certain age” and now can ride for free.

The Bus

 

I am a spoiled westerner, married to my car. I know that people in the east regularly take public transportation. When I lived in Washington, D.C. for seven months, I took the bus and the Metro (subway train) daily to/from work and everywhere else I needed to go. But that’s because I didn’t have a car. I rode my bike, and I took the Metro.

My car is old and failing. I am rooting for it to survive another couple of years until I can buy an electric car with sufficient range to make sense for me. I absolutely refuse to buy another car with an internal combustion engine. So maybe taking the bus will give my car some relief and extend its life. Added bonus: I spent no money on gas when I took the bus.

Anyway, this is what I discovered yesterday.

The bus stop is a six minute walk from my house. The buses run on time. They’re clean. A little shabby, perhaps, but clean. The bus schedule is not always convenient to my schedule, so from now on, I will take a book. Or my knitting. It slowed me down, and gave me time to think, to look around, to appreciate the beautiful day, to enjoy the antics of the kids who were also waiting for the bus.

On the bus, I discovered there is a whole community of commuters who greet each other like old friends. They probably are, as they ride the same bus together every day. That was fun to see.

There are places in my town where parking is ridiculous. In fact, there are places I don’t even want to park my bicycle. So now I have an alternative. For certain, I will take the 6-minute bus ride to the Farmer’s Market on Saturdays.

I picked up a bus schedule, although the website is amazingly easy to use. I had no idea that the buses run as frequently as they do, to as many places as they do. I didn’t even know that I can take my bicycle with me on the bus. This is truly a great alternative method of transportation. I, with blinders on, stuck in my car, had no idea.

But now I do.

And now and then, I’ll be riding the bus.

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I Think I’ll Run for President

Since I believe that the two major party candidates currently running for the highest office in the land are in it for themselves and not the country (one more so than the other), I have no option left but to run for president.

Here, therefore, is my Common Sense Party’s platform. You will see that it is not one of issues, but of values.

bunting

Every proposed decision to be made by every person in my administration will hold that decision up to this set of six values to see if it holds true and is just:

  1. Life. The Declaration of Independence promises us Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. This is bedrock of my candidacy. If what you propose to do does not promote, protect, and preserve life—all life, every life, in this country and around the world—it will not pass into law. This includes the legal slaughter which is war. This includes animals.
  1. Equality. We are all equal. Every person on this planet. Period.
  1. The Opportunity for Personal Growth. Every person needs the time to reflect, to dream, to contribute to society the art that is each personality and expressed in each life.
  1. Empathy. Hardliners will get nowhere with me.
  1. Compassion. The ability to see the other point of view is central to a peaceful society.
  1. Love for Humanity. What else is government for?

Okay, you know I’m just kidding. I’m not a candidate for any office. There is too much yarn out there to be knit up into soft, warm, beautiful items of comfort. There are too many tomatoes to be grown and eaten on my homemade bread. Too many stories that need to be told through my peculiar filter.

But I am serious about the values that our candidates promote. Especially the oft-touted “family values.” What are they? Can they articulate those values? Are they the same as my values? If not, why not? Even if they are only “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness,” do the candidates really believe in those values?

Once a candidate’s values are set, everything else about how they will govern becomes obvious.

We all know this is a very important election. Ask these questions of not only the national candidates, but your local candidates as well.

Choose wisely.

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