Saturday, February 26, 2011

PD prop

Although Parkinsons Disease affects those who have it on a personal level, there are some common symptoms that are readily identifiable as Parkinsonian. The small steps and shuffling gait, the slowness of movement, and tremors are a few of the more apparent manifestations of PD. And as individual as those symptoms are, how we cope with them is peculiar to each of us.

The symptoms that manifest themselves in my particular case (especially when the meds aren’t living up to their therapeutic promise) are the typical PD shuffle, slowness of movement, right hand tremors, and lack of arm swing when I walk. And while I am not overly concerned about those symptoms when I am out and about, I am sometimes aware that people are watching me and wondering “what’s wrong with that guy?” I can sometimes sense their impatience with my slowness when they are stuck behind me when entering or leaving a store for instance. I have found a way that seems to negate those negative feelings and tilt those occasions more in my favor. I use a cane when out in public.

The cane does several things for me. While I am not worried about my balance and possible falls (fortunately I am fairly sure on my feet) the cane is a useful prop when I walk because it helps to keep my walking more rhythmic and natural, it keeps the hand tremors at bay by giving me something to hold onto, it gets my arm swinging when I walk, and it elicits just the right amount of concern and patience in those people I encounter along the way. I have found that when I am caneless people get annoyed with my slowness when I am in their way. However, with the cane at my side people are much more congenial and patient, holding doors open for me and smiling while they do.

And since I have opted to use a cane regularly, I feel like I should at least look good while doing so. That is why I have made a number of canes that I use on a regular basis that are very simple to rather extravagant. ( you can see many of them here The canes I use often invite comment from people who are suitably impressed by them. So I get to talk to people who would otherwise avoid me in irritation.

Don’t get me wrong. I would certainly prefer not to have to use a cane. But at least when I do I can feel better about myself and have others treat me better.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

catching up

Winter is usually the most productive time for me in the workshop, but this year has been an exception. For whatever reason I have spent less time than usual working in the shop the past few months. I seem to be going through a fallow period as far as creative energy is involved. But still, I have managed to finish a few small things without really trying.

These pictures are of a few small pieces that are made of a variety of glued up scraps found lying around the workbench.

These twig vases range from about 3" to 8" high.

These miniatures are about 3" high.

This little plate is only about 6" diameter. It is made of walnut, maple, and mahogany.

I do have several ideas for sculptures that I want to get to. I just need to stir up the motivation to get at them. Maybe if I can stop shoveling snow every other day I'll have the energy to apply to the workshop. Check back here occasionally to see how successful I am.

Friday, February 18, 2011

in memoriam

Usually when we attend a funeral there are tears and sadness. The departed is spoken of in awed whispers and with a sometimes exaggerated holiness that wouldn’t necessarily have applied when he was still alive. We always want to think the best of our deceased love one, even if it means glossing over the less desirably traits he exhibited through the years.
This evening, though, we attended a funeral that was not so much a funeral as a great party thrown by a dead guy. There were no tears that I saw. There was an open bar and that kept the party atmosphere going. There was a buffet for the hungry. There was a lot of laughter and loud conversation. There were displays of photos and captions that captured the irreverent attitude and outlook that Tom exhibited throughout his 68 years. And while he wasn’t present among us physically anymore, his spirit most definitely was the catalyst that ruled the party. What great way to be remembered.
And while Tom’s somewhat cynical outlook was well known, he had a very decent and understanding feel for human nature. The one thing he said that exemplifies his nature was “You don’t have to love your neighbor. Just be decent.” So celebrate Tom's life along with his friends and family and hoist a glass of your favorite beverage in his honor and be decent to one another.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011


I have to admit that two months ago I had written off the season. No way, I figured, could they win their last two regular season games to make the playoffs, let alone win three playoff games to get to the Super Bowl and then actually win the Super Bowl. No self respecting Packer fan would have been so skeptical about the team’s ability to win when they absolutely had to. Forgive me. I will never doubt them again.

For some reason this year’s win in the Super Bowl was so much more exciting and meaningful than the others. I grew up in the sixties living and dying with every Packer game. The first two Super Bowls ever played in the sixties cemented the Packers dynasty as the standard for all teams that came after that. I remember those two games like they happened yesterday. Then of course I suffered along with the losing teams of the seventies and eighties, wondering if the Packers would ever return to glory. The nineties and the Brett Favre era brought another Super Bowl win and a loss in the Super Bowl, but at least we felt like we could compete on that level again. However, those two Super Bowl appearances for some reason never really resonated with me. I never bought any memorabilia from those games to remind me of them. In fact for a die hard Packer fan, I have no Packer “stuff” at all. Never did.

How things change. This year’s Super Bowl just had a special quality about it. It must be the way the team persevered through all the injuries and close losses and then winning out when the season was on the brink. They just came through every game when they absolutely had to win. I guess the unexpected result of the season is what made it so special and endearing. I know this Super Bowl is much more special to me because I now have two shirts, a hat, and a mug all commemorating the accomplishment. Now I really feel like a proper Packer fan because I now have some “stuff.”

Now they will just have to do it again next season. I need an excuse to get more “stuff.”

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

another year gone by

Another one bites the dust. A year that is. This past weekend I was reminded that time marches on relentlessly whether you like it or not. I “celebrated” my birthday for the 63rd time.

That’s not an insignificant number. Sixty-three of anything can be a lot or a little, depending on your perspective. Sixty-three cents won’t get you a cup of coffee, but 63 dollars would buy you a nice dinner. Sixty-three friends would be 60 more than really necessary or manageable. Sixty-three days is one day more than one sixth of a year. Sixty-three years is two short of normal retirement age. But age sixty-three feels like the downhill slide is accelerating beyond controllable limits.

I know they say that age is just a number and that you are only as old as your attitude. If that’s the case then I am at least 40 years younger than the trail of years that I’ve left in my wake. I certainly don’t feel old enough to qualify for that senior discount that businesses are willing to give (although I am not the least bit reluctant to take advantage of it). But how I feel mentally is confusing since physically I feel every minute of my 63 years and then some.

The human brain is an adaptable muscle. When exercised regularly it can convince you of all sorts of capabilities that your physical being may not be able to keep up with. In my mind I can still run five miles without breaking a sweat, bicycle a century in eight hours on a weekend, cut my sizable lawn walking behind the mower for three hours, shovel several inches of snow off my 100 yards of driveway without benefit of a snowblower, maintain a single digit golf handicap without a lot of practice, work hard and party hard and do it all again the next day. But who am I kidding? Doing all those things is a dream I won’t let go of even though my PD compromised body says “no way.”

So maybe age is just a number, but my number is a definite 63 now. Attitude not withstanding, there is no denying my 63. Check with me next year at this time to see if that real or attitudinal number changes.