Today, we were pretty much home bound.  I had hoped we could get out, but it just didn’t materialize.  As I reflect on the day, I realize how much activity comes to us instead of our going somewhere else to find it.

There were no Volunteers scheduled today, so unlike many Wednesdays, the option to go out on my own was not available.  Mary Ann was tired today and napped at times that kept us here.  We still haven’t made that trip to the grocery I have been trying to get in for a number of days.  Since food has been brought to us recently, we are eating well.  We are on the last package of Mary Ann’s pads (disposable underwear), so tomorrow will have to include a trip to the store.

This morning began with the Spiritual formation group that meets here.  If those folks were not willing or able to come here, I would simply have no Spiritual Formation Group experience regularly. It is both garbage day and lawn maintenance day on Wednesdays in our subdivision.  We have recently incorporated the garbage truck sounds into our spirituality as a metaphor for ridding ourselves of unwanted garbage in our lives — letting go of things that just bog us down and clog our spiritual arteries.

As I was setting up the deck in anticipation of the arrival of the group members, there was an aerial attack on the pair of Mallards in the back yard by another pair.  There was much squawking as the dive bombing hen chased off and flew after the hen already on the tarmac.  The same thing happened with the drakes, with the addition of their fly by almost clipping my ear.

The lawn crew provided weed-eating next to the deck as we had the concluding prayer.  I am sure that we will come up with some sort of metaphoric understanding of to the mowing and weed eating that will incorporate those sights and sounds into our Spiritual Formation.

Again, during the group time Bath Aide Zandra came to the house to provide friendship and help as Mary Ann with through her morning regimen.

By the time the Group was done, Landscaping Tech Sheila had arrived and begun working on our disheveled garden areas.  It is at this point that another venture into bringing beauty into our lives is beginning.  Sheila has presented and then adapted a plan intended to provide more beautiful surroundings at the side and front of the house.  Her original proposal was elegant and well-planned.  Mary Ann and I redirected the project.

Shortly after moving in we had added a berm in the space between our town home and the one next to us in a spot that was in full view when standing at the sink in the kitchen.  The first plan would have returned that spot to sod.  After thinking about it for a while, I realized that we were more concerned about what we see from inside the house than what people see when looking at it from the street.  Now that I am at the sink an inordinate amount of time each day, I am especially in need of having color and activity and growth and change to stimulate my visual cortex.  We can’t get to lots of beautiful places away from the house, so we are bringing them to the house.  That is what all the changes at the back of the house were about.

Stacey came by later today to take the final measurements for the sun room blinds for privacy at night.  That project continues.  Sheila is doing some work in a small back area at the side of the deck to fill out the setting.  The leaves are now out on the trees in behind and beside the waterfall and in the neighbors’ back yards.  The area is now almost completely green and secluded.

Mary Ann’s day was not her best.  She fainted quite a bit this morning and ended up back in bed for at least a couple of hours.  At a late lunch there were a couple of falls without damage to Mary Ann, but our relationship was stressed some in response to them.  From her perspective, she was just doing what she did automatically before the disease took its toll.  From my perspective, she was making choices (twice within minutes of one another) that unnecessarily complicated our lives with substantial clean up and the physical demands of getting her off the floor.

I spent the rest of the time she has been awake sitting a very few feet from her, ready to jump each time she stood up.  Bringing activity and stimulation into our immediate environment helps especially on days like today when even stepping outside is limited.

Hallucinations have continued at various levels of intensity.  We seem to be having less and less of the good, lucid times.  A few minutes ago when I saw her moving in bed, I went in to help her turn so that she is facing the opposite direction.  She said that she guessed we were at the first table.  There were, of course, people here, but she wasn’t sure if they were tables for playing cards or what.

I am not sure what way we are swinging at the moment.  I don’t know if there will be lots of daytime sleeping tomorrow, or much sleeping tonight,. I don’t know if there will be some calm and lucidity tomorrow or hyperactive delusion/hallucination/dreaming going on.  I will find out.

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Are you at least a little curious?  Can you picture just turned 67 year old Pastor Pete Kiteboarding at Lake Perry on a Sunday morning?  This retirement is really something!

An old saying about a snowball’s chance in Hell comes to mind as the caption to that picture.  Since we attend the Evening Service at the church from which I retired, and since the tradition of Volunteers spending time with Mary Ann on Sunday morning still continues to a certain extent, I have opted to use Sunday morning as a mini-retreat time.

Most often I head up to the lake to just sit in the van and read, walk, meditate, watch for birds and other wildlife, and just spend time in the moment, experiencing whatever it brings.

This morning it brought a very chilly and very strong wind.  I opened the window on the van, covered myself with a jacket and just celebrated the power and the sound of the wind.  Last night was a difficult one.  Mary Ann was up at least four to five times an hour until almost 4am.  Gratefully, at least she slept the next four hours.

I was glad that a Volunteer was scheduled this morning.  Volunteer Jan and her husband, Tim, are in our time in life, so we have lots in common.  Jan does a treatment on her finger nails that Mary Ann appreciates. They just enjoy talking.

As soon as Jan came, I headed for the lake.  When I was passing through some fields after the turn off on the way to the dam area, a juvenile American Bald Eagle and an American Crow took off from on of those fields not far from the van as I passed by.  I suspect that the two of them had had some sort of disagreement that landed them there.

Just as I was driving off after a couple of hours there, an Adult American Bald Eagle treated me to a fly over, then circled for a couple of minutes.  In between the two Eagle encounters, I did a lot of devotional reading.  I have needed as much grounding as I could find the last day or so.  The three or four different articles from journal and online Spiritual Formation sources helped draw me back to a better place.  They were all thoughtful and very well-written.  Each helped reframe reality in terms of something that does not depend on external circumstances to create health and well-being.  There was nothing there that I don’t already know.  It is a matter of bringing the truth into a more central place from which it can generate renewal. I was also refreshed by Pastor Jim’s message at the Service tonight.

After a substantial time with the reading and meditation, a car came blasting by me in the parking lot and landed in the corner of the lot.  Two young men jumped out and started unloading cloth bags and containers and equipment and spread it all around the car and in the nearby grass.  It didn’t take long to figure out what was going on.  It probably took a half hour from arriving in the lot to heading into the water.  Only one of the two actually kiteboarded.  He went back and forth a number of times right by the shore.  He was not out on the water for as long a time as they spent getting the equipment ready and putting on all the paraphernalia.

We had a good meal after returning home, Lisa’s meatloaf, baked potatoes and asparagus.  Even though she had been up so much last night, Mary Ann never took a nap today.  She just refused to do so.  She didn’t really even nap with her head down on the table.  The fare on the television was no better than yesterday.  She was up and down quite a bit.  I just hung close to her.

The Evening Service got us out and with people for a bit.  There was a stop at Sheridan’s for Concretes (chocolate with pecans) to take home and eat.  I haven’t yet been able to bring myself to head into Baskin & Robbins after the nasty treatment the last time we were in (see post from April 15).  When we are in the mood for the flavors of ice cream that we favor there, I will not let my anger interfere with the pleasure of enjoying a couple of scoops.  Life is short.

Mary Ann has gone to bed and appears to be sleeping.  I am counting on nothing, however.  One sleepless night does not guarantee that the next one will be a restful one.  Tomorrow evening Volunteer Tamara came by late today to pick up some dishes so that she can bring us a meal tomorrow to put in the oven for supper.  We are looking forward to that treat.

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I had little doubt we were on our way back to confusion last night.  The numerous commode trips returned along with a couple of times just sitting up on the side of the bed.  This morning she accused me of lying to her when I disagreed that when the kids were visiting they had been playing with a ball with fire in it. I let that one go without trying too hard to argue against what she was convinced she had seen.

A television report on the news last night must have found a spot in her mind.  The Phelps family blight on Topeka was in the news since an estranged son was in town on a book promotion talking about his difficult childhood before getting away and moving out of town.  Mary Ann asked about one of the Phelps’s talking with me in another room.  She said she had to arouse me from being sort of hypnotized.

She was not in the intense mode that sometimes comes.  I suspect that may be coming next in the cycle.  She was fairly calm, but still getting up often, unsure why or where she wanted to go or what she wanted to do.

Meals were somewhat confusing.  The spatial problems made her insistence on feeding herself pretty tough for me to deal with.  Food was ending up in lots of places, the spoon digging in spots where there was no food to be found. I was not very patient with her today.  She finally did allow me to help her eat the last of her lunch.

Mary Ann was not ready to head out in the car, nor was she interested in taking a nap.  Sometimes she sat with her head down, sometimes not.  The television needed to be on.  Everything that was showing, at least that she would tolerate, seemed to sort of suck the life out of me.  I could hardly stand to be in the room.  I did a lot of pacing.

I have to admit that it was not a good day for me either.  I had a bit of the feeling of a trapped animal, no alternative within reach with enough draw to grab my attention.  I read emails a bit, did some posting to Quicken.  Reading a book simply does not work for me when there are multiple times attention must return to my primary responsibility.  Some people are good at switching into a deep focus quickly when doing tasks. It is not easy for me to do so. If I do get engrossed in something too deeply, I am afraid I will not be there when needed.

At about 5:30pm, just minutes after she had decided to put shoes on so that we could do my errands, Mary Ann decided that she needed a nap.  The good news was that I was able to spend time on the deck reading some devotional material and just experiencing the moment and the environment. I had the video monitor nearby so that I could check on Mary Ann regularly without having to go in the house every few minutes. The bad news is that she did not get supper and the late nap may result in more awake time during the night.  A short time ago I got her up to change into her pajamas, gave her the bed time meds and a container of applesauce. At the moment, she seems to be sleeping.

I am going to try to find the right music and devotional material now to see if I can continue the restoration of peace begun on the deck.  Some days are just harder than others.

It seems odd that a simple day of getting up, doing stuff and going to bed could be so great.  We both had an appropriate number of hours of sleep.  We got up and a reasonable hour.  Mary Ann seemed to be connected to the realities of the day.

Not too long after breakfast, Hospice Aide Sonya came to do Mary Ann’s shower and hair.  It was almost comical to hear Sonya describe it.  Mary Ann had a couple of monumental deposits to make during Sonya’s time with her.  Sonya described in great detail the nature of the deposits.  Her description reminded me of the latest round of Subway commercials.  I will leave the rest to your imagination.  I was grateful on a couple of counts.  One, Sonya got to share the joy of waste management duty, sparing me the task.  Two, it was a much needed basic bodily function that will help Mary Ann function better and feel better.

After that, we watched television together for a while.  I made trips to the computer to read emails.  I also got started on a couple of loads of wash.  Mary Ann ate a pretty substantial lunch, then we headed out in the car.  The local Asparagus is coming on, so we headed to Meier’s market to pick up a few pounds.  I practically live on it when the locally grown crop is available.

After that we headed to Flowers by Bill.  Daughter-in-law Becky made a deal with me, trading the benefit of my cell phone on their account for me getting Mary Ann fresh flowers periodically.  This is the second time I have done it, and both times I have been surprised at the spectacular bouquets I have received.  I have gone in each time and told them what I am doing.  I have asked for whatever they can give me for ten dollars.  Each time they have come out with an arm load of beautiful flowers.  This time there are daisy mums of many different colors (20 open blossoms), carnations (9 open blossoms), alstermaria or peruvian lilies (3 stems each with multiple blossoms on each stem), and a huge yellow rose.  The bouquet has filled the living room with color.

We made an obligatory stop at Dairy Queen, since it is still buy one Blizzard and get the second one for 25 cents week.  I guess today could be designated Flower Day.  Shortly after we got back home, Volunteer Maureen drove up.  She delivered birthday presents for Mary Ann and me.  One is a vining geranium in a hanging basket, providing color just outside our kitchen window (where I now spend an inordinate amount of time each day).  The other is a Gerber Daisy sporting lots of large yellow blossoms.  Maureen remembered that yellow flowers are a favorite of Mary Ann.  That now sits on the deck just outside a glass panel in full view of Mary Ann from her chair.

At supper time I actually made a sort of normal meal – a rarity.  I browned cut up ring sausage in olive oil with lots of onions.  Then a ton of the fresh Asparagus went into a pan to be steamed.  At the market there were some small white potatoes that the owner had kept back for the family last fall.  They had some left and offered them for sale.  I steamed them with salt, dried onions and parsley, drained the water off and covered them with butter (margarine).  I was surprised at how much of the garden flavor they had retained.  Mary Ann apparently approved since she cleaned her plate of every speck of food I put there.  That almost never happens.

After finishing the couple of loads of wash and cleaning the pots and pans from supper, I decided that if there is some sort of certification as a domestic engineer to be had, I am now qualified.

I plan to spend a little time tonight with a newly obtained book on St. Patrick’s Breastplate.  Each chapter is a reflection on one of the phrases in the prayer.  YouTube will provide sung versions of the prayer to give it fuller expression.

I will accept today as the gift of a kind of normal day that most would find boring, to be taken for granted.  To me it is a refreshing encounter with something to be cherished, never to be taken for granted but instead savored.

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It started again last night.  This morning she was up at about 6am and hopelessly confused.  It was 4pm pill time (there never has been such a thing); she needed to make hamburger BBQ; those were the most lucid of the first words this morning.

I got her back in bed so that I could take a shower and get dressed to prepare for the 7:30am Spiritual Formation group that meets at our house.  As soon as I got in the shower, she started yelling for me.  I got out to see what had happened, and she just wanted to know where I was.  The shower is in the bathroom right next to her bed.

Moments later, she needed to go to the bathroom.  She had been to the bathroom just before I went in to take a shower.  It was tough just to get the preparations in for the Wednesday morning group, since she was in her streaming delusion/dream/hallucination mode.

I have been especially tired the last few days.  Today, I have not felt good at all.  Here is where the grateful dimension kicks in.  Volunteer Maureen arrived at 7:25am to spend a couple of hours with Mary Ann.  as always, she had a meal for the freezer, a couple dozen homemade cookies, Blueberry muffins and three very tasty Macaroons.

Maureen gave Mary Ann her yogurt and a muffin and kept her occupied while I spent a couple of very spiritually therapeutic couple of hours in the Spiritual Formation group on the back deck.

Bath Aide Zandra came and took Mary Ann through her morning prep for the day.  Parish Nurse Margaret arrived just as Maureen was due to leave.  Margaret spent the next two hours with Mary Ann while I did some morning chores.  During that time I gave Mary Ann her pills.  Margaret checked Mary Ann’s blood pressure (122/80) and her pulse (60).  I was reassured by the normal pulse after yesterday’s unusually rapid heart beat.   The BP would be great for anyone else, but low for her.  She had already done some fainting this morning.

Mary Ann settled into putting her head down on the table in front of her as she sat in her spot in front of the television.  During this same time, Kristie, who does the monthly cleaning, came and started her work.  Part of my chores on this day is to do the pre-Kristie cleaning up so that she can get to all the places that need cleaning.

I headed off for a short time to squeeze in a couple of errands.  At 11:30am Volunteer Doris arrived.  I got Mary Ann’s lunch.  She could hardly keep her head up.  Her nose was almost touching the plate.  She finally let me help get the food to her mouth.  She did not want to go in and lie down, so I moved her to her spot where she resumed resting with her head down.  I remained at the house, since Doris needs help moving Mary Ann.  After a while I was able to get Mary Ann to lie down in bed for a nap.  I set up the monitor so that Doris could let me know if help was needed.  That allowed me to read emails for a while, do a couple of household tasks and sit for a few moments on the deck.

Then Tom from our pest control service arrived to do his quarterly task.  While he was  here Volunteer Scheduler Mary came to spend two and a half hours with Mary Ann.  She brought Lasagna and bread for supper, along with shortcake, strawberries and ice cream.  There was also a large container of Mary Ann’s favorite, Ambrosia Salad.  During the time Mary was here, we spent some time talking about her ministry as a trained (two years) Lay Assistant at the congregation from which I retired.  I spent some time on the deck and then headed out to sit at Cedarcrest and try to nap while sitting in the van.

After I returned and Mary left, Mary Ann was still sleeping.  Neighbor, good friend and former Parishioner Ann stopped by to see the new sun room and waterfall as well as visit for a bit. After Ann left, I decided to try to nap a bit myself.  That lasted only a few minutes before Mary Ann finally stirred.

It was another very busy Wednesday.  I am profoundly grateful for so many Volunteers spending time with Mary Ann today.  Any times I interacted with her, she was still in the streaming hallucination/delusion/dream mode.  It helped to have others here.  Since she slept so much, it would have been doable, but it was a comfort not to be alone in the task.  I had a chance to enjoy talking with those who came, making my day better.  I need and love times of solitude, but I need human interaction just as much.  The Mallards came by for a while today also, filling my need for entertaining wildlife.

We had the wonderful lasagna meal and dessert.  I spent time just sitting with Mary Ann as she watched an hour or two of television.  Then she decided to go to bed.  After a day of sleeping, I am not sure it will be a very restful night, but I certainly need one.  I absolutely cannot allow whatever it is that is making me feel bad physically develop into anything that interferes with the functioning of our system.  The only power I have is to try to get some rest.  Otherwise, I am fully aware that I have very little to say about what does or does not develop.

I am trying to finish this earlier than usual tonight, so that I can allow more time for rest.  How much rest I actually get will depend on how Mary Ann’s night goes.

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This Face book business adds a whole new dimension to life.  I don’t think I have ever been wished a happy birthday by so many.

The morning began bright and early with cards from the Spiritual Formation Group members and a cherry and apple kuchen.  Before the group meeting was over, my Sister Gayle called and sang happy birthday to me.  There were more cards in the mail, in addition to a few yesterday.  We had no special plans, except, of course, some ice cream from Baskin and Robbins late this afternoon — but then every day is an ice cream day.

The last three days have been pretty active ones.  On Monday, after Bath Aide Zandra came, Mary Ann’s friend Jeanne came, brought lunch and then spent the afternoon.  Mary Ann had some time out outside in the beautiful weather.  During that time, I ran errands, including a trip to see Dr. Tim about manipulating my back to help with the consequences of Saturday night’s challenges with Mary Ann’s fainting.  Volunteer Patrice came to spend the evening with Mary Ann. I combined a few errands with some time sitting in what had been a favorite spot for quiet time.  The area has changed and it seemed to have become everyone’s favorite place to drive through.

On Tuesday, Mary Ann did well in Bible Study.  We picked up pizza slices for Mary Ann to eat for lunch, then went to see Doug and Marikay for haircuts.   It had been so long that he needed to use hedge trimmers to cut my hair!  We always enjoy the conversation with those two.  We share a love of the outdoors and wildlife.   Following the haircuts we went right to the grocery store.  I marvel at how much we buy just to feed the two of us.

Volunteer Shari came for the evening.  After a couple of little errands, I spent time again parked in the beautiful spot nearby.  For some reason there was very little traffic that evening.  It was a beautiful night and a wonderful experience.  A CD of choral music titled “Shakespeare in Song” by the Phoenix Bach Choir provided stimulating and exciting choral music, lifting my spirit.

This morning toward the end of our group time, Bath Aide Zandra came.  Mary Ann was still in bed and asleep when Zandra arrived.  Later in the morning, Hospice Nurse Emily came for her weekly visit.  Then Volunteer Cynthia came for two and a half hours, followed by Volunteer Rebecca who stayed another two and a half hours.

During Cynthia’s time with Mary Ann, she did the ironing!!! God is good!  So is Cynthia!  Also during that time Sheila, who does landscaping for folks in the area came by to do her every two week clean up.  She did some clean up on the waterfall to tide us over until Brad comes by for the official spring refreshing of the plantings.

During Rebecca’s time with Mary Ann, I got a major errand run, all the useful remnants of the clean up taken to Good Will.  Then came supper, followed by ice cream, followed by Mary Ann going to bed.   Doug and Marikay stopped by to deliver some salmon they had smoked for us and to see the new sun room.

Both of our Kids, Lisa and Micah made their Happy Birthday calls.  All in all, it has been a pretty good three days for both of us.  Last night when I sat down to write a post, I fell asleep at the computer.  I decided I needed to get to bed.

Now that I mention it, my head has been bobbing as I have been sitting here writing this. Thanks to all who sent cards or Face Book greetings.  It made the day a very special one.

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Even at our age and in a wheel chair, Mary Ann is pretty.  Looking at those pictures of Mary Ann from the time before we started dating and pictures of her in our dating years and early marriage, I was reminded just how pretty she has been all her life.  No wonder I fell in love with her.  I am not so shallow as to have only looked at the surface.  Her personality has always been intriguing, exciting, unpredictable, entertaining and complex.  There has never been any pretense about who she is.

One of the things that jumped out in the pictures from earlier years was her bright smile.  That is one of the things that Parkinson’s steals from those whose lives it impacts.  Facial expressiveness diminishes.  Those pictures were poignant reminders of just how expressive and beautiful that face has been.  They also confirm and reinforce the image that still comes through when I see her.  It is a good thing when people grow old together.  These old bodies still contain young people.  When we grow old together, we can see past the old bodies to the young people living inside.

Mary Ann revealed that she was excited to have the chance to reconnect with her family.  It meant so much to her.  She has felt very disconnected after losing her Dad two weeks after we were married and two brothers, both when they reached the age of 51.  Her Mother has also been gone for many years.

The old pictures and conversation gave our two children a chance to discover more fully the family with which they have had little contact.  Their Cousin Diana and her Daughter Rachel provided through their presence and their stories about family a window into the other half of the gene pool from which our Children have emerged.

Mary Ann soaked it all in and responded as she could.  The night before last had been a tough one with multiple times up.  She crashed during lunch.  She could not hold her head up any longer as I tried to help her eat.  Finally, she gave in and decided to lie down.  After a long nap, she was able to interact and enjoy Diana, Rachel and our Children as they talked about and asked questions about the past.

Last night, Mary Ann went to bed and was asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow.  This morning, she was in exactly the position she was in when she fell asleep last night.  She had not moved a muscle, nor had she gotten up during the night to use the commode.

Our Daughter, Lisa, along with Husband, Denis, and the girls, Abigail and Ashlyn left for home early this morning.  Diana and Rachel were able to spend the day with us.  It was a good day, a little less intense and more relaxing.  We just spent the day getting to know each other better.

I had thought about giving them a quick tour of the area.  Mary Ann reminded me of the Tulip Festival at some spectacularly beautiful gardens at the edge of a lake on the other side of town.  The flowers provided clusters of vibrant colors, one after another, some more formal and symmetrical, others very natural with an asymmetry that was pleasing to the eye.  The weather was perfect, sunny, cool and clear.  The lake was sparkling and serene at the same time,  The gardens are filled with ponds and streams and waterfalls.

We moved on to travel west into the Flint Hills.  It would have been a crime to come this far and not see those rolling hills, prairie as it was hundreds of years ago.  Some areas were green with fresh grass growing.  During April comes the burn.  All the random seeds brought in by wind and wildlife germinate during the growing season and threaten to overpower the natural prairie grasses. In past centuries, buffalo fed on the grass until there was nothing left above ground. Roots extending fifteen to eighteen feet would assure that the native grasses returned the next spring.

On account of the decimated buffalo population, burning the foreign growth returns the hills to their pristine past.  Through the ashes soon burst the Big Bluestem, Little Bluestem and Indian Grass.  There is nothing like the contrast of that bright green emerging through the black ash cover.

The tour of the Flint Hills was a treat for me, and seemed to be so for Diana and Rachel.  We found our way to a little town called Paxico.  There is no grocery or gas station there, at least that I have found.  The buildings contain lots of old things for sale, ranging from flea market fare to expensive antiques. It is not a contrived and artificial imitation of an old town just for tourist consumption.  It is the real deal.  There is an outlet there for the pottery made by the Potter who turned the dishes and bowl that Mary Ann uses.  We have other pieces, bowls and cups and pitchers.  The name is Jepson Pottery.  His studio is in Harveyville, Kansas.

Mary Ann was ready for ice cream when we left Paxico.  We had leftover Grasshopper and Mud pies from Baskin and Robbins for supper.  Mary Ann is in bed and, after a snack and some Tums, she seems to be sleeping.  Tomorrow is likely to be a recoup day.  Hopefully, she will have another restful night tonight.

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.