Tuesday, April 28, 2015

HAWMC April 23 - April 29 Revenge of the Sith

This is a artist's conception (found at http://anmazol.deviantart.com/) of Darth Plagueis, the Master Sith to Darth Sidious, who was Master Sith to Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader who, as far as I am aware, never got around to getting a student.  This is the problem with living forever.  Its easy to let things slide a bit.  Now according to Sith lore, and I can see why the Star Wars Universe is so popular (there's a reason for everything) you can have one master and one apprentice, so what happens is the Apprentice kills the Master, and then gets an Apprentice of his/her own, and it goes on until the hundreds of Sith not yet written about get their own books, and there are people who track this. Must be a neat job.

This concludes the April 23rd entry - write about anything.  In my case, I wrote about nothing.


April 24th Fitness Friday.  Twice a week, I'm at the physical therapy pool down the road.  One hour of exercise in a 90 plus degree pool. Simple things, keeping arms and legs moving, balance walking, and trying to stretch every muscle as much as I can.  Also it is good to see others facing their own challenges doing all they can to be functional.  Laughing it away.  Never let the problem get in your heart.

But here's a twist. I have a rotator cuff injury.
And I get to do physical therapy!  I always wanted to be a baseball pitcher.  And now at least I get to go through the rehab part.  Then I'll get to start a game soon, or sit in the bullpen as usual.
Kudos to the physical therapy people, there to help, and know far more about your body than you do.
April 25 Wordle.  You may recognize it.  Neat little toy.  What if you could tumble in all your thoughts at the end of each day, and see what you thought about during your waking hours.  What do ISIS members think about?  Probably close to a Sith apprentice, just sitting on some of the sand they'd taken from another guy with not as many guns, waiting for a chance to kill again.  Maybe he thinks of the teachings of the Prophet.  Maybe not.  Or the people in Nepal. Baltimore? Justice or just to grab a new HDTV with the easy payment plan of nothing down and nothing to pay ever.

How much do we think about ourselves, as a person, a sufferer of ailments, lover of life, or despairer, hopeful or resigned to whatever, who cares or does not care, or pretend to care? OK. Lecture done.

April 26.

If you can read this, you are better off then the billions of people who have died, can't see, or can't understand or read.  If you are reading this on a computer of some sort, you have a chance to search out secrets and find delights unavailable to many people for many years.  If you can go outside, go, even for a minute.  See who you share this planet with - even if it is that terrorist on the pile of sand. At least you know where you are.  Wait for night and look at the stars.  See what we are made of.

April 27

Sometimes, when I'm heading out on errands, I'll park in the handicapped parking spot.  The disability chair is on my license plate.  I am eligible for it.  Really, I have the brain lesions on the MRI DVD.  But that doesn't stop people from watching and seeing how I get out of my car.  So sometimes I'll do a Homer:

And then I still get the eye.  Look, I'm not 85 here, though there are days...Once a elderly woman stopped on her way out of Dunkin Donuts and watched my wife and I get out of our car correctly parked in a handicap spot.  "So which one of you is sick? You don't look sick."  

I'm a peaceable guy, but sometimes Bruce Cockburn had it right - "if I had a rocket launcher....."

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

HAWMC - April 20 - 22 The Empire Strikes Back

I have a rotator cup injury, as if I was a big (or little or minor) leaguer or something.  But its as close as I'll get.  Fine.  But I get rehab, like a ballplayer (for physical injury, not the other kind of rehab).

Let's see... Travel April 20.

I would love to go to England or France, or even Russia.  But as close as I'm going to get is Disney World.  I want to take my wife to the Mall of America. Don't know about that.  I promised her a trip to Europe, but its going to be Disney World.  I get tired, exhausted, and having a tough time breathing  after just a short stroll (this may be medication issue) and that's not even great at Disney World.

The old line is familiarity breeds contempt, but I look at it as familiarity breeds content.  At Disney World I know where to go and what to do, so the basics are set. Busses (or the Monorail) do most of the traveling for us and we just get off and go where we want and do the same things each year, with a little variety in resorts we visit (such as Beach Club or The Floridian) and have all the wondrous foods.

The long trips are short ones now, day trips, bed and breakfasts, and back.  Know your limits.  If you are planning to do a lot on your trip, I'd rate the activities on a list of musts, maybes, and probably nots, and do the list.  If you get past the musts and are feeling decent try another but do not overdo it, and learn what overdoing for you.  The medical issues we face renown with one rule - "Slow down or we will slow you down."  Taking your time allows you to view the world.  Remember the Zen rule: Pay attention.  See it. Take it in.  Breathe it in, because (Next rule: Everything is changing) it might not be the same next time.  But take heart in that (next slide, please) everything's connected.

April 21 Reflection.

I admire folks who really can advocate for those who can't.  Working in poverty programs for near on 30 years, I've seen a lot, some good, but more bad.  Before that I took care, as well as I knew how, of my father, who had the same disease as me, so I got a preview of coming distractions.  If nothing else, you learn either total cynicism or compassion.  I know I go between the two, but find more hope in the latter.  Or maybe a compassionate cynic.  I don't expect much from humanity, so I can be pleasantly surprised when the better angels of our nature can win through.  For a species that has the ability to destroy itself a hundred times over, it can still do Mozart, Monet, Ghandi, Lincoln, and Monty Python.  Hope - I am a Mets fan, after all.

April 22 Hobbies

Baseball, the watching and history of it. Cooperstown and just was at Fenway for Opening Day.  As I said above I am a Mets fan, but I have a very deep love of the Boston Red Sox.  Both teams are steeped in history, both have a knack of frustrating their fans.  But we don't win every day either, and if have neuro problems or other invisible (to the world) challenges, a lot of days we don't even want to compete, or show up.  But when you open your eyes, just think "Maybe I can win today." Baseball is the only sport that if you are successful even only 30% of the time, you are consider one of the best.

Tons of books, history, mysteries, baseball stories, baseball cards (Mom didn't throw them out - didn't even know they were there!) and a dice baseball game that I've played for over forty years.  And the computer version.  It's given a lot of enjoyment for a long time, either on my own or with friends.  I dive into the history of the season and what the world was like in that time.  I've developed a deep appreciation of the Negro Leagues, and have met quite a few of the actual players.

Which brings me to the writing.  One of the stories I'm working is about the 1921 Cincinnati Cubans, a group of Havana ballplayers invited to play in the Negro Leagues.  They arrive in the US and and try to adapt to a very different culture, and outside temperature.

And all the other writing. Like this.  Thanks for reading.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

HAWMC April 11 -19 but yesterday doesn't count.

Soooo I've been a little busy, and out of it, and seeing doctors of all kinds, and well, just doing other things - like writing my novel.  So a quick update:

April 11 - Pet Pal - I've written elsewhere about my dogs so a tip of the cap here to the annoying chipmunks and squirrels in the back yard that dash back and forth around the property looking for the food that should be there because Mr. Squirrel and/or Mrs. Chipmunk swear by their small brains it was there before the white stuff came down and covered their ground and they (as rodents) could not move, so they had to sleep for four months.  On a better note, Mr. and Mrs. Bunny show up in the early morning and at dusk to wander around the yard, and eat clover.  Both are used to humans, but keep a good distance.  Some nice moment are the cooler August nights when I'm on my deck, reading, and the bunnies just wander around, taking in the last long rays of the sun.  The guy next store has a bird feeder, so cardinals, robins, etc., help themselves, and we can listen to song. I am glad of it because our front area has bushes and trees that the birds hop around it all year, which is really cool on snowy winter days.  Thank you, Nature.

April 13 - Re-educating family members.  I am not able to dash about like I used to, at least not as long.  They are learning, and I am learning patience with them and myself.

April 14 - I feel best when... I can get some decent writing done, a little exercise, and have just made plans for a future fun time.

April 15 - A Mets rally. Matt Harvey striking out the side.  Big Papi hits one into the right field stands at Fenway.

April 16 - I wanted to tell stories in some form, writing or acting in them.  I've acted and am working on getting my stuff out there.  I did not get to the moon.  But I did sit in the Captain's Chair on the Federation Starship USS Enterprise.

April 17 - I'm still standing, better than I ever did.  (Elton John song).

April 18 - First, I do not look forward to heat, humidity, bugs. No thanks.  I do love sitting at a baseball game.  Inductions at the Hall of Fame.  A few days in Boston, to be near the sea.  *****

Actually, today I had a morning meeting of my mystery writer's group.  It's a bit of a drive but I've been semi-shutin for months and now with decent weather I want to pick up the pace again.  The drive, meeting, and ride home took about six hours, and when I arrived back home noticed that I had forgotten to take my morning pills.  Since I was doing all right, I opted to not take my afternoon or evening pills, to see what I was like before the pills.  Yes its a small sample size, but even so, I learned that I can yawn, something I rarely do now.  I do have some hallucination issues when I'm lying in bed, and the show, while harmless, can go on for hours, if its one of those nights where sleep is being shy with me.  Last night while I lay in bed for two hours, there were a few dancing decorations and then it stopped, maybe ten minutes.  Also I had that "wired" feeling in my upper shoulders.  But I went back to bed around three AM, and had no hallucinations and no nightmares.  And yes, when I got up on Sunday.....

April 19 - I went right back to the pill routine.  But it was interesting spending time with the Old Me. As for stress, it is inescapable.  But I spent six years or so talking with Buddhists monks and nuns and learned a few tricks to relax.  Here is the definition of Zen Buddhism:

Everything's changing. Everything is connected. Pay attention.

Be Here Now. And Now. And Now.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

HAWMC Day of Rest.

OK, this one is easy:


Baseball in person or on the Tube.  


Books, Books, Books and a cup of something nice.


Yep, that too.  Snoopy and yours truly dream of being the Great American Writer.

And someday I can go outside and work in my yard for about ten minutes.  Then I sit down and look at the yard.

All I need.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

HAWMC 4/11/15 Pet Pal.

I mentioned my dog some posts back, (OK, actually my sister's dog, but my sister was 17 when we finally brought the dog home and Barb was already her partying self, so Cookie moved on to me) and you can check that out.  But this is the one where we are supposed talk about pet pals, so I will note two others, no longer with us, that made me smile and still do.

Summer afternoon 1972.  It was pouring outside and I was just sitting at our dining room table, the one used for Thanksgiving and Christmas, putting a model car together ("Don't get any glue on the table!").  The transistor radio was playing the Top 40 songs.  My father had just left for the night shift, and my mother would be home in two hours from her job, so it was me, Cookie, and this:

The above bird is a budgie.  My grandmother had one for many years, and when Grandma died, we got the budgie.  We fed it, cleaned it, and let it do its thing in the cage, and occasionally opened the cage door and let it fly around the house.  The budgie, called Chico, found my father's bald head a nice resting place.  Cookie would track Chico around the house, but aside from a bark and a lot of sniffing at the budgie by the dog, no violence ever happened.  One day, though, I came home from school and, after dropping my bookbag, hunted around the house for Cookie.  Especially when I saw the cage was open and no bird around. Twenty minutes later, the bird was found, intact and chattering under the dining room (used at Thanksgiving and Christmas only) table.  Cookie was in the midst of her afternoon nap, and whatever had happened between dog and bird that day will never be known.

So it was this feeling of Nixon era detente that came over me at that moment and I can clearly remember telling myself what a great moment it was, that I should remember it. And I do.  Memories fade from me now.  But that one was, and remains,  as clear as glass.

And so is this one...

My wife's family had a farm (e-i-e-i-oh) and on this farm they had a dog. Her name was Lily.  She looked like this:

Golden Retriever.  Away from the farmhouse, and on the expansive acres around, Lily could have a field day running, well, around the field.  One Sunday in September, in the morning I was sitting on the outside couch (its a farm thing) such as this:

Breakfast was over and I was taking in the bright sun and blue skies. Lily would leap over the couch, over the wooden fence and into the tall grass. Running and running, tongue flapping like a pink rag out the side of her mouth. Now and then she'd run back and try to grab a coat sleeve or pant leg because she wanted to show me something.  This was anything from bones (animal) to something I had no comprehension what she was barking and huffing about.  We'd end up back at the couch until we did it all again.

They are gone now. The table, the couch, the animals.  But they are right here in my head, and as MS plays its tricks with my brain, some parts refuse to leave me, but console me.  They are my friends still, and I can be there with them anytime.  It's the brain, people. Use it. Bipolar, MS, whatever your challenge, the brain needs to be stimulated.  You live there, too.

Friday, April 10, 2015

HAWMC June 10 Comfort Food

With MS, you never know when you will be hungry.  Normally for me its when we turn off the lights, and lay our heads down, and I am quizzing myself on what the Red Sox lineup was in 1982 (hint: Yaz and other people), when I will hear:

*be-yoing* *beyoing* *beyong beyong beyong wiiiiiiiiiiing*

(your noises may vary) Oh, well.  Then I doze off, and my tummy has to wait until morning.

My wife will ask "Are you hungry?"  My answer is, normally, "No."  We eat anyway, as I need fuel to keep my sputtering body going at some level.  Well, food and drugs.  Lots of drugs.

But this is the food issue, so......

I have two platefillers that I do on request.  One is a meatloaf dinner and the other is Texas chili. Comfort food in the former, hot and spicy for the latter.  I balance the firepower in the chili with honey cornbread.  Oh, sure I can do the burgers/hot dogs on the grill, even a steak, chicken, or even pizza, as long as I can sit down near the fire.

The above is a picture of the Boston Market meatloaf.  I tweaked their recipe a bit. Much better.

My wife has her comfort meal, too.  Chicken breasts with mashed potatoes with cranberries. Amazing.

Of course, we do desserts.  My wife's cakes are charmingly made, and we both bake cookies.  And breads.  So we do okay.

Sadly, what I can never have again is my mother's rice pudding,  and her apple pie.  The last time I had the rice pudding was Thanksgiving 2000.  She made a bowlful of the heavenly treat and was to go with my wife and I to visit my wife's family in Syracuse.  Unfortunately, she never made it, ending up in a hospital after a terrible fall Thanksgiving morning.  My mother never returned home. Before I went out to Syracuse, my brother and I shared the bowl of pudding.  We both knew we'd never have another.  Or another apple pie.

No matter what your lot in life, savor every bite.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

HAWMC April 9 The daunting challenge

One hundred and fifty years ago today, the army under command of General Robert E. Lee surrendered to the Union forces of General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox. Thousands of men, women, and children died from 1861 - 1865.  Then everybody took their guns and went home, trying to go back to the world of Before The War.

Nope.  When the soldiers went home, if there was still one to go to, they saw a different world with new challenges few ever thought of.  

The main word there is home.  As a baseball fan, that reminds me of the George Carlin baseball/football routine:

In Football, the object is for the quarterback, otherwise known as the field general. To be on target with his aerial assault riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz even if he has to use the shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing his aerial assault with a sustained ground attack, which punches holes in the forward wall of the enemies’ defensive line.  In Baseball, the object is to go home, and to be safe. I hope I’ll be safe at home, safe at home.

We're always on a journey to some place or thing or a desire. But the job was to talk about something I overcame.  So a journey, short but life changing.

I grew up in Troy, NY in the 60's and 70's.  Actually I was in Lansingburgh just north of Troy, but The Burgh is considered part of Troy.  Now this little story begins in Troy in November 2010.  I was sat down by a neurologist and told I had MS, as far as they can tell.  I finally had an answer to the physical and mental problems I'd been experiencing over the last year.  I was not surprised by the information.  See, my father had the same thing at the same age I am.  I was not only naming a disorder for myself, but for him.  And there was little the medical community could do for me.  I don't fit in with how the big drug companies want to place their products.  

So I had to tell my wife.  I called from my car in the parking lot of the neurology office.  I told my wife what I had been told, and I would see her soon.  I took the long way home, which allowed to see some of my home town and local vistas.  It was a raw November day, but I had music on and the time slipped by.

I got home, walked and found my wife on our couch.  She had done what I knew she would do.  She hit in web and printed out all the information she could fine.  We had some knowledge now and could continue our journey.

I have not overcome MS or being bipolar (I have all of my parents' medical issues pack into one body for convenience, but not mine).  Nor will I.  What I will do is get up everyday and enjoy what I can, reading, writing, day trips, etc.  I have the blessing of having a caring wife, and access to others and information my parents just would not have had.

My father died on October 19, 1979 at the age of 59 years, 11 days.  I am looking forward to October 21, 2015.  That is the day I will be 59 years, 12 days.  My father never was "diagnosed" with anything, but my own recollection of his last few years show what I believe to be the same symptoms that I have.  I was his caretaker, mostly.  Same with the bipolar disorder that held my mother in chains for the rest of her days.  One bipolar person taking care of another BP person? Nope. Disaster.  Trust me, it is.

The daunting challenge continues and it is one that I shall never overcome. But I'm thankful for every day and I try to enjoy what I can as much as I can.  Like the baseball game that's on now.  Thank you for reading.  And thank you to my wife's great great step uncle who was in the Union Army, but never left the Wilderness in Virginia in 1864. Rest in peace.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

HAWMC April 8 Souvenirs

For the WEGO Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge                  #HAWMC

Today's question:

What is an item you have kept with you that reminds you of an important time in your life?

Well, as Rod Stewart said, "every picture tells a story, don't it?"

So here are some....

This picture shows two bookends (Lincoln) and a bust of JFK, and in the background is a baseball jersey.  All made by my sister Barbara who died of cancer in 1991.  I can look at these and see her every day.  And in my grand niece's laugh.

The picture on the left (taken with a Polaroid Swinger - talk about throwback!) is the only one I have of my dog in the 1960s and 70s.  The sketch I found at a craft fair and was amazed how much it looked like Cookie (that was her name) .  This life was the most dominate one of my early days and her loss after 11 years of loyalty and love crushed me for a long time.  I had to face the next years of insanity alone - first my father's neurological problems, and then my mother's decline into depression and death.  I have inherited both disorders.  I could use my dog now.  But sometimes in my dreams she walks into my room and we talk. That's nice.  I still have her walk chain.

OK, that's my first attempt at this.  I have been away for a while, but I shall return.  Maybe even tomorrow.