Friday, October 26, 2007


Have you ever felt superfluous, unneeded, an afterthought, just one more item on the agenda? Have you been so entrenched in a role that when the second act comes, you are surprised when they changed the play on you? No longer the leading man, only a bit player in the chorus has become your billing. Kids can do that to you.

How dare they grow up and get all adult on me. Daughter Carrie and her new husband, Jeremy (the same two that I married back in August) are arriving for a visit for the weekend. Their plane is scheduled to arrive sometime around six this evening. So far so good. Normally it would fall to dear old mom and dad to pick them up at the airport, take them out to eat, and then bring them home to share our happy little home. I expect to do those things. I want to do those things. That is my role, an offshoot of the nurturing and providing and support that I provided my children as they were growing up. But nobody told me that once they did grow up that dear old dad would become dear old whomever.

Mary is the quintessential mother and planner. She has always done the scheduling, the planning of activities, been the arbiter of time management. She also has been cast aside, rudely interrupted in her role. Perhaps we have overstepped our bounds in seeming to dictate how our children would spend their weekend visit HOME. We have been informed that they have their time all planned out and they will let us know when the will have time to drop in to see us during their visit.

Not only have they told us when they will see us, they have also made arrangements to stay, not here at HOME, but with Jon and Katie, our son, Carrie’s little brother, and his wife, at their house, unchaperoned by mom and dad and out of our influential orbit. What? They think they will have more fun there than here in the house they grew up in. Suddenly, I’m no fun anymore?

And get this. They have rented a car. That way I don’t have to pick them up at the airport. That way they can just come and go as they please. That way they can go and visit Jeremy’s folks first upon their arrival. That way I don’t have to lend them one of my vehicles for the weekend. That way they can be so damned independent and not feel obligated to me. How am I supposed to play the guilt card if they won’t deal it to me?

It’s just possible that they felt they could plan their own visit since Mary and I are going to be gone to the UW Badgers homecoming game tomorrow without them. What? They can’t just wait patiently for us to get home? I mean, come on, it’s homecoming weekend. We go to a homecoming football game while they come home and wait for our homecoming. Sounds fair to me. But no, they figure they can just go gallivanting around however they damn well please since I’m not going to be here to guide them and watch over them. And we had it all so well planned. Ungrateful brats.

Still I’m sure that once I actually get to lay eyes on my loving daughter all will be forgiven. We will laugh and have interesting discussions, disagreeing amiably, and agreeing wholeheartedly on the state of the world. She will try to explain to me what her research is all about and I will nod knowingly while remaining totally flummoxed by her lecture. But I will listen. And we will bemoan the shortness of the visit.

Whose idea was it that kids get to grow up and become adults with minds of their own that they use to torment their poor parents. That may be the way it’s supposed to be, but I don’t have to like it. Though our well-planned visit is being sidetracked by their own ideas, I figure someday I will get revenge. I am going to have the most spoiled grandkids in the history of the world. Hah, let them deal with that.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


While strolling last Saturday among the shops alluded to in the last post, I used this cane which I had just completed the day before. I was gratified to find that people actually noticed it. No fewer than five complete strangers approached me and remarked about it.

Here is a closer view of the handle.

The cane is made from pile of scraps that accumulated on the workbench--pine, oak, maple, walnut, cedar, aspen, and mahagony. I'm sure glad I don't throw anything out.

Monday, October 22, 2007

sucked in again

I don’t know who exactly came up with the idea for Sweetest Day, but I suspect it was a collusion between gift card companies and the florists. What it has become, though, is a trap for the unsuspecting, unaware guys who don’t realize that the day is supposed to have some kind of significance for the Woman-Who-Rules-All.

Last Saturday, which just so happens to have been the aforementioned “trap,” found me accompanying my version of the Woman-Who-Rules-All in an expedition to a nearby village that consists of a consortium of gift shops, antique stores, quaint little tea shop/restaurants, art galleries, and the always dangerous jewelry stores. This particular little village exists, I am certain, as a place designed by the devils of commerce, as a hugely successful giant vacuum that sucks the dollars from a man’s wallet and the sanity from his brain.

I was coerced, although admittedly with little resistance, into spending the day in that particular ring of hell because it was a beautiful autumn day, unseasonably warm and sunshiny, a good day for a walk outside, and the UW Badgers were playing a nonconference game against a patsy (the Badgers won 44-3. Go Badgers!) and I didn’t mind missing the game. So I found myself shuffling in and out of those shops, which were packed to the rafters with cutesy doodads and ugly gimcracks, trailing after The Woman like a stray puppy, eager to please, but not knowing how. My grumbling was becoming ever more whiney with each shop that she found irresistible and I found inescapable. She was losing patience with me in inverse proportion to my losing my sanity.

And then a spark of awareness flashed, the source of which I am uncertain, rescuing the day from the clutches of the misspent. Sweetest Day! It was Sweetest Day! A chance to score some much needed points in the marriage game! And wouldn’t you know it, just as that awareness dawned, we found ourselves looking at a display of silver necklaces in a jewelry shop that appeared miraculously around us. The imp on my shoulder fairly cackled with glee, urging me to whip out my wallet in a show of chivalrous extravagance. And so I did.

So now, though my wallet is lighter by several zeroes, my points total on the marriage tote board is inching closer to positive numbers. Still, it seems that the consortium of gift card purveyors and florists are a few artificial incentive days short of making me balance the red and black numbers on that tote board. I have every confidence that they will find new and exciting ways of separating me and other unsuspecting guys from our money in the interest of marital harmony. We already have birthdays and anniversaries to remember and Mothers Day and Sweetest Day crowding our calendars. That leaves at least 361 more days to play with. But when we get to “No, That Dress Doesn’t Make You Look Fat Day,” I’m cashing in my chips and heading for the afterlife.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

from the studio

Here's a little vignette I call "The Dance." It is Oak and stands about 10" high. It is a piece that just evolved from several scraps of material lying on the workbench. One thing lead to another and this is the result.

I've added this piece to my art blog as well, so feel free to click on "gallery" in the sidebar to view my other work if you haven't already done so.

Monday, October 15, 2007

I don't get it

So out of boredom the other day, I was channel surfing through the limited number of over the air channels (no cable or satellite available) on the TV at the cottage, and happened onto a Nascar race. I am not now nor have I ever been a racing fan, but I like to claim an open mind, and my natural curiosity got the best of me, so I decided to give it a chance. Nascar racing is purported to be the fastest growing spectator sport in the world, so I figured I should try to find out what all those people were finding so fascinating.

I am not going to bash racing fans and Nascar fans in particular, but I just don’t get it. I tried desperately to figure out who was running in first place in the race, or any place for that matter, but confusion reigned. The announcers were speaking some kind of foreign language filled with unintelligible jargon so fast and furiously that understanding them was nearly impossible. For some reason, the announcers are apparently required to have thick southern redneck accent in order to get the job of race analyst. That alone was a turn-off for me. I realize I’m stereotyping here, but every time I hear anyone talking with that cornpone accent I immediately get visions of one-strap bib overalls on a gap-toothed, inbred, roadkill-gnawing, moonshine addled, barefoot, ridgerunning hillbilly whose extended vocabulary consists of an extra aww shucks between y-alls. And when whatever he is saying spews forth without regard to punctuation in a rapidfire stream of consciousness babel, it becomes incomprehensible to my ears. Then when you add in the fact that there were at least three of those voices vying with each other for control of the microphone, you have a cacophony of nonsense that does nothing to explain to the uninitiated exactly what is going on.

Still I stuck with it for the better part of an hour. I thought maybe if I could pick out a particular car to follow I might be able to figure out what was happening. So I picked out a nice red car (red is my favorite color) that seemed to have a nice loud roar as it passed by (I reasoned that in an enterprise such as this, the louder your engine the faster it goes) and tried to find its number or any identifying markings that would allow me to recognize it on camera as it made all those left turns. Unfortunately, there were several red cars in the race and each one was blanketed with a dizzying array of decals, making identification a chancy sort of exercise. I couldn’t figure out how anyone could know who was leading the race since it was mayhem on the track as far as I could tell.

When I was able to understand what the announcers were saying I still didn’t understand what exactly they were referring to. Talk about loose cars, tight handling, and drivers who like it on top of the track and some who like it on the bottom and all the nudging and kissing and rearending of fenders had me envisioning Jimmy’s Johnson getting a workout in the backseat of his car. Then I was assured that these cars don’t have backseats and I was much relieved. Still the announcers sounded like nearly orgasmic voyeurs at times when talking about what was happening on the track.

I was starting to feel dirty, so I made a right turn, got off the track, and turned it off. There was a golf tournament on and that is much more my speed.

Friday, October 12, 2007

one of those days

Did you ever have one of those days when everything seems to be just a tad to the right of center? It's not that everything is going wrong, just that everything is a bit out of sinc. Nothing is really wrong, but nothing is really right either. It's been one of those days for me today.

It started this morning when I forgot to put on my "patch" before getting dressed. The patch is one of those transdermal medicine things that gives a steady stream of PD medication during the day. I was only an hour off schedule which is insignificant unless you are a stickler for schedules like I am. That started me off on the crooked trail through the day.

I ran out of orange juice at breakfast and in dealing with that I forgot to take my vitamins. So before the day is done I will probably come down with scurvy or something like that.

I then drove to the hardware store and hit every red light along the way. Then the store had what I came for, but it had been moved to another part of the store so I had to search for it. I even had to ask for help and we all know that men don't do that. It's like asking for directions. Then I went to pay for it and I needed three lousy pennies in change, which I of course didn't have, so I had to break a ten dollar bill. Not earth shattering, I know, but irritating none the less.

Then I stopped at the library only to find that I left my library card at home. They can access the card information in the computer system, but I was embarrassed for my negligence.

I swung over to the grocery store on the way home to get some orange juice (see above) and some bananas, but the bananas were all overly ripe. So I had to go to a different store. In the parking lot all the handicap spaces were taken so I had to walk all the way across the lot. I'm having a slow day physically as it is and that didn't help. Besides, its cold and windy and I'm a sissy. I want to park close, but all those other cripples beat me to it.

I got home and realized that I had forgotten to run the diswasher after breakfast, so now the cycle won't be done before we leave for the weekend. Who cares? I do. I hate leaving knowing that when I get back I will have to empty the dishwasher. I know, stupid. And I haven't gotten around to cleaning the kitchen as per Mary's instructions (it's right there on the list she left me this morning) yet, so she will be pissed at me when she gets home.

I think I will go take a nap. Or at least try to. I probably won't be able to sleep anyway. Is it tomorrow yet?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


I've never been a joiner. Being part of any organized or semi-organized group has never been appealing to me. I shun congregations, assemblies, clubs, cliques, committees, groups, and even teams. Meetings that involve more than two people are black holes into which accomplishment is sucked, never to be seen again. Mobs are a definite no-no. Mine has always been a solo act.

So finding myself yesterday attending a meeting of men with Parkinsons Disease was a total departure from the norm for me. This was a so-called support group. The stated purpose of the group was to provide a forum for discussion of our similar experiences with PD and hopefully draw some strength from the knowledge that we are not alone in coping with it. The group has a regular roster of 18-20 men, ten of whom were in attendance yesterday.

I approached the group meeting with a plate full of doubt with a good-sized side order of skepticism. I expected it to be a session of whining and clinical comparisons of medications and treatments with everyone trying to be more woeful than the others. I was disabused of that expectation immediately. Instead what I got was a roomful of friendly and articulate men sharing the ways that PD has changed their expectations and goals and lives. It was a refreshingly open and frank discussion that I enjoyed immensely..

I found myself jumping right into the discusssion knowing that here finally was a group of people who would understand what I was talking about. That alone was worth the price of admission (the price of admission being an open mind). They knew what I meant because they had experienced the same thing themselves. I knew what they were talking about from my similar experiences. It was like finally finding that round peg that fit into that round hole.

So I guess my solo act has been compromised. At least in regards to this new group of friends. I will definitely attend the next meeting. But if they break the group down into committees to plan the Shake, Tremble, and Shuffle Holiday Shindig, I'm out of there.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

sleep aids

We’ve all experienced it at one time or another: the inability to fall asleep. I’m not talking about full-blown insomnia, just the occasional restless, fitful sleepless night, the kind of night that finds your mind racing through all the events of the previous day and all the upcoming responsibilities of the next. I have that kind of night more frequently than I would like, but I have found a couple ways of coping with that restless mind and coaxing it into sleepyness.

Often, when sleep seems particularly illusive, I focus my mind on finding the next, so far undiscovered, unnamed color. I am convinced that somewhere out there in nature there is a new color that man has yet to see and experience. It is a combination of Nature’s finest efforts, multiplied and intensified beyond our imagining, then muted subtly into a visual creaminess that will wash over our optical sense, blanketing us in a contentment so far unknown. Focusing on that search works to focus my mind so that all those intrusive and upsetting thoughts are swept into the corner, left there to gather dust unnoticed. Sleep usually follows quickly after my mental color safari begins. I have yet to even come close finding that new color, so the search continues on those nights when a restless mind means to get the better of me. I hope I never find that perfect color, for if I do, I will have to find some new quest to take its place in order to get the sleep I need.

Another favorite technique for inducing sleep out of the restless fidgeting that follows an overly active day is to play a flawless round of golf on the perfectly groomed golf course in my head. Teeing off with a laser-like drive 300 yards down the middle of the impossibly verdant fairway starts me on an imaginary round that is nothing but perfect drives, long iron shots to tight pins, soaring wedges that stop dead next to the hole and never-missed putts of any length. Perfection is possible on that golf course in my head. Usually by the fifth or sixth hole I have drifted off to a contented sleep, safe in the knowledge that I am the world’s greatest golfer. At least as long as dreams last.

So those are my two sure ways to wrestle sleep from the clutches of latent insomnia. They work for me most of the time. When they don’t, there are always drugs or the flock of sheep that somehow manages to leap the fence one at a time in orderly disciplined fashion. Or when truly desperate, the more natural sedative of “War and Peace” or an enervating slog through anything written by James Joyce will make you sleep or, if you are not careful, comatose.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

art blog

I've managed to get my new art blog up and running. It took some time to find all the pictures and upload them to the site, but with a concentrated effort over the past week I got it done. I know there are several other pictures I wanted to include, but I just can't find them anywhere. Still, I have a fair representation of my work from the past several years on the site.

To get there you can click on "gallery" in the sidebar or you can just click here No matter how you get there, I hope you enjoy looking. Let me know what you think.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Bobby's got his mojo back

After a weekend at the cottage, I feel like I'm back to being myself again. The wonderfully intelligent, creative, sensitive, loving, caring, talented, wise, efficient, and, of course, goodlooking, Bob is back. Well, maybe I'm overstating the condition of my psyche and my many attributes just a little, but the goodlooking part stays.

While at the cottage, I cut the grass Saturday morning and felt good about getting that done, but still had enough energy and desire to get to the golf course and try to play the game I love again. I had been having some difficulty holding the golf club due to the increased tremors I was experiencing and coordinating all the necessary muscles needed to make a good golf swing. But I wasn't quite ready to give up just yet, so Saturday was a test, not just of my will, but also of my physical capability. I wwent expecting to play only 9 holes, but finished 18. I am thrilled to report that I have my game back. I played exceptionally well for me, shooting an 81 with three birdies along the way. For those of you not tuned into golf, a birdy is a good thing. Three of them for a golfer of my skill level is wondrous and worthy of much bragging. I was very pleased and can't wait to get on the course again.

I have also been spending a lot of time in the workshop over the past week, working on several different projects and getting revved up about that, too. It feels so good to have a lot to do and the willingness to do it. I have also been working on getting another blog up and running that will be solely for the purspoe of showcasing my artwork and woodworking. Getting all those pictures uploaded and organized has taken a lot more time than I anticipated, but that's not a complaint. I do it all willingly and with pleasure.

And I have even been paying attention to all the notes Mary leaves me each morning, giving me long lists of chores to accomplish. I havent started doing any of the chores, but I am reading the notes. It's a start.

So my recent bout with depression is hereby officially declared over. I'm baaack.