Mary Ann got up early this morning since she had no supper last evening, other than a couple of snacks during the night.  She ate a good breakfast with help, took her pills and ended up back in bed for almost four hours. 

She ate a pretty good sized lunch, and we spent a while just sitting with the television on.   Actually, I tend to be up and about doing anything I can think of to keep from just watching television.  I was back and forth to the computer, outside to check on the birds, got the mail, paid some bills. 

Finally I asked Mary Ann if she would be willing to head out for a bit, even if she just sat in the car while I did a couple of things.  I had mentioned that I wanted to visit a small but nice art gallery on a local college campus.  Our deal was that I would just go in for a short visit, assuming she wanted to stay in the car.  That seemed to be her intention.

I had reached the point in the day that I just could no longer tolerate sitting around the house on a warm day, cloudy, but warm enough to be out.  Gratefully, she decided she would go into the art museum with me.  It took a while to find the handicapped entrance, on the opposite end of the building from the handicapped parking places. 

Once inside, there were two major exhibitions that were very interesting.   One is called “Stickworks.”  It is pretty much indescribable.  There are huge sort of huts on the lawn of the museum.  People can walk into and through them.  They are made from intertwining saplings into surprising shapes and structures. 

Inside the museum are photographs of one after another sculptures made with willow branches and saplings, each stretching the imagination more than the last.  Even though they are two dimensional photographs, the sculptures seem almost living.  That room in the museum left me wondering how someone could even imagine creating such unusual pieces.  The link for the artist is http://www.stickwork.net/news.php

The next exhibit made the one I just described seem quite ordinary.  It was called “Hybrid Visions” by Ken Butler.  An article online from the university described what he does in this way:  “He is internationally recognized as an innovator of experimental musical instruments created from diverse materials including tools, sports equipment and household objects.”

This exhibit has to be seen to be believed.  Ken Butler takes everything from the backs of old wooden chairs to a laptop computer and creates musical instruments that, apparently, can be played.   This is impossible to describe because no one who has not seen it would have existing in their minds reference points to which to relate the descriptors. 

While this has nothing to do with Caregiving other than our getting out of the house, doing something stimulating to keep this Caregiver from going crazy, there is an odd sort of metaphorical implication for framing our existence in terms of the exhibit.  If it is possible to piece together found items that appear to have been gathered from dumpsters and front parkings on garbage day, add some guitar/violin/cello strings and make music, maybe we can piece together a life of good quality and make our own sort of music. 

I think that interpretation is a little contrived and heavy-handed for something so whimsical as “Hybrid Visions.”  Oh well, remember, I spent forty years looking for sermon material wherever I could find it, so that the message of the Scripture readings could become more accessible in contemporary terms.  It is an occupational hazard.

Mary Ann has gone to bed and seems to be settled for the moment.  We will again hope for a quiet night.

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Who knew there was a word for it?  The online caregiving spouses of those with Lewy Body Dementia (or some form of it) recently contained a line of posts titled Anosognosia.  Wikipedia defines it this way: Anosognosia is a condition in which a person who suffers disability seems unaware of or denies the existence of his or her disability.

Actually, those who have been reading this blog for very long, have heard me describe a variety of behaviors that could be described with the word Anosgnosia. 

When anyone asks Mary Ann about cooking, her response is always: “They won’t let me in the kitchen any more.”  What she seems to be saying is that she could cook and chop and handle hot pans and sharp knives and prepare meals, if only we (I) would let her. 

Mary Ann will often start to undress while standing up, even though for a number of years now, her balance and coordination have not allowed her to do so without falling. 

She has headed into the bedroom to get sewing paraphernalia to do repair work, most often on something that ends up being a hallucination. 

While I sometimes do it, I dislike reminding her that what she is attempting  is something she can no longer do on account of the Parkinson’s.  I think the better choice when confronting some attempt at doing something no longer within her capability, is to redirect her attention to something else. 

As troublesome as are the times she acts as if she has no limitations on account of the Parkinson’s, I can’t help wondering if they are not part of the reason she is doing so well.  As much as she has been through, it is hard to understand how she is able to do maintain such a high level of functionality in so many areas. 

Today went pretty well.  She slept in late, essentially tacking her morning nap on to the end of her night’s sleep.  She had a good breakfast, a fairly substantial lunch.  We went out for a ride to Ensley Gardens (I walked through them while she chose to stay in the car) and a treat at the Baskin and Robbin’s on the other side of town. 

Mary came over, brought the promised pork, dressing and gravy, and spent about an hour talking with Mary Ann while I worked at the computer.   Since I tend to be quick to respond in conversation, my presence makes it hard for Mary Ann to be engaged in conversation.  My leaving the room for a time allows her to interact more freely with friends. 

Again, she has gone to bed early, without supper.  I guess by now I should know that a mid to late afternoon ice cream treat is going to interfere with her eating supper.  I suspect she will be up to have snacks during the night.  I will, of course, need to assist in that activity. 

The last couple of afternoons (before today), I have left the house for a time while a friend spent time with Mary Ann.  I have spent the time in a different way from usual.  Rather than sitting in the car in some natural setting to read or listen to music, or going for a walk, I have visited a number of small art galleries here.  I am pretty much devoid of any knowledge in the area of the visual arts, but I am intrigued by them. 

At most of the stops at galleries, there has been a docent or artist or owner there who was willing to spend some time in conversation.  I have learned a bit about the art scene here, and how some of the artists have approached their subjects, what processes they have used.  It has been very interesting, opening a new window on reality for these well-worn eyes. 

The conversations have nourished a discovery I made decades ago.  There is more than what first meets the eye in most of what we see.  Whether it is a landscape, a city street, buildings, trash, telephone poles, growing plants in any stage, people, there are many ways to see them.  What artists often do is provide new ways to see the ordinary.  While I have no natural ability or inclinations in producing visual art pieces, my interest has been piqued. 

One of the artists described her fascination with shadows on the water in a pond or stream or lake.  The shaded area of the water’s surface reveals what lies beneath the surface.  Lighted areas show a reflection of what is above.  It is a phenomenon I have noticed when out walking with my binoculars around my neck.  Often I will look for those shaded areas to see if I can locate fish or turtles or frogs. 

In a couple of the visits yesterday and the day before, the descriptions of a particular art piece triggered the impulse to write and preach a sermon using the piece as a visual aid.  I had enough sense to spare the poor person describing the work from my launching into three part homily on the implications of that piece for their spiritual growth. 

One of the artists described her fascination with shadows on the water in a pond or stream or lake.  The shaded area of the water’s surface reveals what lies beneath the surface.  Lighted areas show a reflection of what is above.  It is a phenomenon I have noticed when out walking with my binoculars around my neck.  Often I will look for those shaded areas to see if I can spot fish or turtles or frogs.   That thought caused my sermon muscles to twitch for a moment. 

Maybe I can convince Mary Ann to consent to a trip into KC to the Nelson again.  There are rooms filled with art pieces, some incomprehensible, some boring (in the eyes of the beholder — me), some exciting, some very thought provoking.  They also serve a great lunch in the Roselle Court.  We will see.

After such a tough time post hospital stay, this one has been a pretty good week. 

If you want to write a comment about this or any of the posts on this blog, look to the column on the right side of this page, titled “Recent Posts,”  click on the name of a post and you will find a box at the end of that article in which you can write a comment.  Clicking on the title of the post you are reading will accomplish the same thing.  Comments are appreciated.