Christ Church High Table

All Dressed Up….and Somewhere to Go

Entrance from Quad and Christ Church Cathedral

How exciting to attend High Table after the first day of class! The small select group for Monday night gathered with some of our tutors and staff at a sherry reception prior to dinner. Fascinating students included an Amsterdam couple who have participated eight years. A Texas grandmother brought her 16-year-old granddaughter to Exeter College for two weeks of pre-law while she took two courses at Christ Church. As the rest of the people entered the Great Hall, they followed tradition and stood until the High Table guests sat at their nameplate.

After we were seated, the director of studies David Beard who started The Oxford Experience twenty-seven years ago delivered the grace in Latin. Here is translation: “In the neediness of our human condition, which invites your compassion, almighty God and heavenly Father, we give you reverent thanks for the food which, in your kindness, you have lavished on us for the sustenance of our bodies; and we also beg that we may use it without greed or excess and with enjoyment. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

High Table is just what the words imply. The table sits on a platform or dais above the main floor. It is at the top of the Great Hall furthest from the screen passage. During the Middle Ages, the lord of the castle could indeed “look down” on his household. His servants or subjects had designated seating in vertical rows of perpendicular tables according to status. Nobility and high ranking guests sat at High Table. They were served first and had the best quality food and drink. In 2017 at Christ Church, everyone in the hall enjoyed the same delectable food with turkey saltimbocca as the main course. Harry Potter or the Hogwarts teachers were not there! However, the Harry Potter films built a replica of the Great Hall in their London studio.

High Table on Dais at Christ Church

Many members of Christ Church were there in spirit. Ninety-two portraits grace the four walls of the Great Hall. Henry VIII oversees all as he is positioned on the High Table end of room in the middle. He founded Christ Church in 1546 as a dual foundation of college and cathedral. Cardinal Wolsey established Cardinal College in 1525 and his foundation is the original of Christ Church. His portrait is hung to the right of Henry VIII. Queen Elizabeth who united Christ Church and Westminster in 1561 is to the left of Henry VIII. The bust of the Queen Elizabeth II is below Henry VIII. I sat facing these formidable characters and felt their presence.

Other famous scholars of the college include Thomas Locke philosopher, John Wesley theologian, William Gladstone statesman and Lewis Carroll writer. Thirteen prime ministers studied at Christ Church.

William Murray, over door, Student 1723, First Earl of Mansfield

For me, the evening was steeped in great history, tradition, friendship and conversation. As shadows flirted with the exquisite stained glass windows, the ambiance of the Great Hall changed. A new reflection here, a new reflection there! That is what education is all about. Members of Christ Church have sat at High Table in centuries past conversing and debating the challenging issues of the era. I know 2017 is no different. Later in the year a second female portrait will keep company with Queen Elizabeth in the Great Hall that being Professor Pallot who joined the college in 1979.

Evening End Revelation

As I left High Table and meandered through the hall prolonging the magical evening, I followed a row of portraits. In my mind’s eye one caused me to pause. I saw the sixteen-year-old pre-law student all grown up, and she was gazing at me with a faint smile. I returned her smile, but I was beaming!



Welcome to Parkinson’s My Way

Home is behind the world ahead and there are many paths to tread through shadow to the edge of night until the stars are all alight. J R.R. Tolkien

Welcome to Parkinson’s My Way

I have been a teacher and writer for over four decades. When I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2014, my work and literary world became one with the Parkinson’s world. Isak Dinesen believed “all sorrows can be borne if you tell a story about them”,  and I have found that to be true. Writing has always been my “go-to tool” for facing adversity.

Parkinson’s My Way is how I journey one day to the next with a chronic, progressive degenerative illness by keeping my interests alive. Days are rarely alike. A  variety of interests that still define who I am include antiques, travel, baking, animals, nature, reading, photography, family farm, education and DAR.

Along the way, I discovered a fascinating gift of this perplexing neurological disorder. Studies find some people with Parkinson’s begin a new creative pursuit such as painting, sculpting or writing. For me it is poetry. This website will share “creativity in motion” by showcasing people with Parkinson’s artistic work, as well as mine.

Before PD, my personal mission was “to make a heartfelt difference” and that is unchanged. Through my sharing in Parkinson’s My Way, the intent is to educate, to inspire, and to give hope.  Some posts will deal with Parkinson’s head on. Other times I will bake a cake or recommend a good book!

If just one of you benefits from my thoughts, experiences, recipes, poetry or photography, I will consider this mission a success. Perhaps you have Parkinson’s disease or are a caregiver. Maybe a friend of yours was just diagnosed with PD. Whatever the reason that you are visiting, I welcome you and your comments.



My Lineal Descent to American Revolutionary War Patriot

Today’s  4th of July post is dedicated to Nathaniel Thurber, my great-great-great-great grandfather. In 1998, I learned that I was a descendant of a patriot who served as a soldier during the Revolutionary War and helped contribute to securing the independence of the United States of America. Nathaniel Thurber, son of Daniel Thurber, Sr., and Lois Peck Thurber, was born on April 13, 1761, in Providence, Rhode Island.

The Thurber family history dates back to the 1600s  to a small parish called Stanton, County of Lincolnshire in England, 129 miles from London. As Thurber families left England, they settled in Rehoboth, Massachusetts. Nathaniel enlisted in 1776 and served as a private in the Revolutionary War until 1779 in Massachusetts as well as at the Burning of Bristol, Rhode Island. He married Polly Shores in 1792. They had six children including son James who served in the War of 1812.

DAR Headquarters, Washington, DC

With my interest in historical preservation, patriotism and education, the Daughters of the American Revolution was a perfect fit for me. So I embarked on an extended journey to prove lineal descent through such documents as birth, death and marriage certificates, church records, census reports and obituaries.

My Lineal Descent

Nathaniel Thurber, my patriot and great-great-great-great grandfather, 1761-1842
James Thurber, my great-great-great grandfather, 1791-1877
William Thurber, my great-great grandfather, 1827-1866
Laura Thurber Roasa, my great-grandmother, 1865-1944
Gladys Roasa Barr, my grandmother. 1891-1964
Rosemary Barr Mohr, my mother, 1918-2009
Linda Mohr (Me), 1950

My Application is Approved

A longtime dream of mine came true as I was officially welcomed into the National Society  Daughters of the American Revolution at the Seminole Chapter meeting in West Palm Beach on October 11, 2008.

The DAR insignia pin is a beautiful gold wheel. I wear it over my heart with tremendous pride for what those who have gone before me have done. I love the meaning behind each part:

THE HUB: Each loyal Daughter’s heart
EACH SPOKE: A thought of those from whom we part
THE TIE: A noble life well rounded out
EACH STAR: A deed of kindness as we go about
EACH FLAXEN THREAD: A cord of love to bind us closer day by day
THE DISTAFF: A rod of love to guide us all the way

10-Year Membership Honor

I celebrated my 10-year membership in 2018 and proudly added this pin to my DAR ribbon of pins.

My contribution to DAR Seminole includes:

Chapter Chairmanships:  Women’s Issues 2010-2012 & 2012-2014, Bylaws 2014-2016, DAR School 2018-2020

Chapter Service:  Librarian 2012-2014, Vice Regent 2014-2016, Librarian Appointed 2017-18, Chapter Director 2018-2020

Other:  Meeting Reservations 2009-2010, Benefit Registration 2013-2019, Women’s Issues Essay Contest State Winner in Career Category–Encore, 2014, Doing Life with Parkinson’s 2015, Wrote and Read Tea Time with Grandma Poem for Seminole Tea 2018, DAR School Project Second Place State Winner 2018, 10-Year Member 2018

President General Van Buren’s Call to Challenge: Think Big

On June 30, 2019, Denise Doring VanBuren was installed as President General at the National Society  Daughters of the American Revolution’s Continental Congress. In her Rise and Shine for America themed speech, she challenged Daughters to dream big dreams, think big, achieve great things, don’t settle for mediocrity, and look for meaningful service opportunities. We can’t shuffle along satisfied with the status quo if we are to achieve our Society’s full potential she emphasized.

As I considered  President General VanBuren’s message, I am blessed to live in America where I have the freedom to contribute in a manner that reflects who I am. I will always be grateful to my great-great-great-great grandfather Nathaniel Thurber who played a part in securing my freedom.

For more information about DAR contact me or visit DAR website, 



The Oxford Experience Begins

Christ Church Campus

As the Chinese proverb goes, a journey of a thousand steps starts with a single step. Sometimes, a journey starts at the train station as my trip to Oxford did. London Paddington was a bustling station and Sundays were no exception. Travelers stood in mass staring up at time table boards that eventually indicated a platform number from one to fourteen. An inbound train might only be in the station minutes before departure. So a stampede followed the instant the platform was known. I dashed off to platform 1 and a kind man offered to lift my suitcase onto train. Oh, the perks of being a senior! Or maybe he recognized my Parkinson’s masked face!

Tom Gate Christ Church

I like to ride trains and have done so on other trips using a BritRail pass. It is an easy and efficient way to travel. Sixty-three minutes later I arrived in Oxford and taxied to Christ Church, one of thirty-eight constituent colleges in the University of Oxford system. I was about to embark on The Oxford Experience where I would be a student for six days. The impressive point of entry is known as Tom Gate. After being greeted and given a welcome packet, a scout (member of domestic staff) escorted me to the Meadows building. My private suite was on first floor which is second floor by American standards. The view looked out over a meadow, and I thought I was in the country. The exquisite blue sky was a beautiful backdrop for my photo shoot of architecture.

Later in the day following a short orientation meeting and wine reception, we had our first meal in the Great Hall of Christ Church. As I entered the hall, I was mesmerized. I commented later to a dinner companion, that if The Oxford Experience had ended at that moment, it would have been worth it. I am still at loss for the right words to describe my feelings. Being in a room where Henry the VIII and countless other historic figures have dined, was a pinch me I’m not dreaming moment!

Great Hall Christ Church Founded 1546

A little background on great halls….They can be found in palaces, castles and large manor homes in the Middle Ages and in country homes in the 16th and early 17th centuries. Colleges at Durham, Cambridge, St. Andrews and Oxford also have great halls for dining. In the Middle Ages, the hall was a living space where the household of family and servants ate and slept together. The hall was typically a long rectangle room, roofed in timber and entered at a screen end with a high table at opposite end.

Great Hall Christ Church

After dinner, we were escorted to our classroom by our tutor Nick Doggett (which is what the professor is called) for a short get acquainted meeting. The aerial photo at top of this post gives you an idea of the massive space Christ Church covers. We were hopeful we would find our way the next morning for the official start of class. The eclectic class of twelve students included three married couples from California. The rest of us gals represented New York, Ohio, Florida, California again, Germany and New Zealand. Many of us have had (or still have) education careers. Two are architects, and I suspect they will add an interesting perspective to the Country Homes course. Class dismissed!



My Traveling Companion, Parkinson’s

The Chesterfield Mayfair

As my British Airways flight touched down at 6:30 a.m. at London Heathrow, I said to anyone awake, “I’m home.” I have always experienced this feeling in my favorite city in the world. As the taxi cab driver made his way to The Chesterfield Mayfair with me delighting over all the familiar sights and sounds, my happy soul acknowledged again, “I am really home!”

My Serenity Retreat

In a few days I will head to Oxford for the primary focus of this 2017 jaunt. But I simply could not bypass the opportunity to return to London for the eleventh blessed time.  I go where I want to go and do what I want to do (most of the time). But Parkinson’s is always with me. So my travel philosophy is keep it light, keep it simple and keep it handy. I will stay at The Chesterfield Mayfair for several reasons. It’s located in one of most beautiful areas, is within walking distance of Gray’s Antiques and is authentic British. I also have a history with The Chesterfield Palm Beach as that is where I held my book signing party in 2007 for Tatianna-Tales and Teachings of My Feline Friend.

I luckily arrived without jet lag and spent Friday morning having a wonderful English breakfast in the hotel, exploring the area on foot and getting access to my room around noon. My little cozy bedroom was a joy. Later I headed to Gray’s Antiques where multiple dealers have their wares. I’ve joked that my car automatically stops for garage sales, thrift stores and antique shops in the states. When I am in London, the vintage markets call to me and off I go on foot.

Buttons and Brooches

I found some sweet little Scottie dog buttons for one of my eBay customers, and I added a brooch to my personal collection. Love brooches with faces! I’ve always appreciated how the “hustle and bustle” in London is offset by peaceful parks and wide open spaces like my favorite St. James Park. This trip I sat in a park at Berkeley Square a few minutes from the  hotel. According to Anna Quindlen, “London opens to you like a novel itself…. It is divided into chapters, the chapters into scenes, the scenes into sentences; it opens to you like a series of rooms, door, passsage, door. Mayfair to Piccadilly to Soho to the Strand.”

I would not be in London and not go to Portobello Market on Saturday. It is billed as the largest street market in the world. My feet agree! The eclectic one mile market includes antiques, vintage stuff, collectibles, food, clothing, flea market items and more. As my cabbie dropped me off at 9 a.m., my heart is racing and I can’t wait to begin the hunt. What will I find today?

Treasure Hunting Begins At Notting Hill

I walked miles and ate at a little Italian café where one cook prepared all the food just a few feet from patrons. So entertaining! I bought lots of buttons for resale from a lovely British couple. They have had a button booth for 21 years at Portobello. They take a bus and train every Saturday morning for an hour to get to their shop. They have attended National Button Conventions in America—yes, there are such meetings!

We spent more time talking about Parkinson’s than buttons. He had seen me pass by the booth earlier as I was checking out the area and thought I had PD just like his wife. Of course, he was right. Although many people are surprised to find out I have Parkinson’s, some see clues. Perhaps it is the way I hold my arm or walk slower or have a stern look.

Little Art Pictures

I arrived back at The Chesterfield after an exhilarating market day, welcomed an impressive room service dinner, repacked my suitcase cubes and prepared for my next adventure.



Lazy Summer Permission Granted

Reflective Walk on Country Lane to Family House

Summer is the annual permission slip to be lazy.
To do nothing and have it count for something.
To lie in the grass and count the stars.
To sit on a branch and study the clouds.
~Regina Brett

To Do Nothing

Eighty-eight degrees at 7 a.m. in North Palm Beach! But summer does not officially start until June 21! Who are we kidding! Summer is here. When I taught full-time, summer began the minute my grades were submitted. Now it starts when my volunteer work is finished. My last Daughters of the American Revolution meeting was the first of May, and the last American Association of University Women’s dinner club was the end of May.  A common question at these finales was “What are you going to do this summer?” Sometimes, the answer for me is to almost do nothing!

I recall one year our graduation speaker challenged graduates to think about the hyphen between when they were born and when they are no longer on this earth and to use that time wisely. I believe wise use of time is important for all of us. However, the tendency for a person with Parkinson’s is to do things slower. You get discouraged when half-started projects pile up. Then guilt sets in. However, you need to be good to yourself which may include giving a pass or permission to slow down. Doing almost nothing for a while may prime you to tackle the important responsibilities later. However, remember exercise is Parkinson’s medication. So I will continue my walking, Tai Chi, stretching and medical or therapy appointments.

 I Love Summertime

What I love about summer is the flexibility and more white space on my calendar. The Florida pace slows down, and traffic is less congested. I no longer have to wait for a table in a restaurant. Attendance at Tai Chi and PD support group drops, and individualized attention is possible. I enjoy having time to recharge, replenish, revitalize—whether it’s at my tropical home in South Florida or at the family farm in Missouri. For the first few days of June, I rested and did fun stuff like staying in my pajamas all day. I puttered around the house and yard and redesigned a tabletop display. It took me awhile to unwind. After reflecting on the first five months 2019, I realized they were jammed with activities, responsibilities and experiences:

Why I Need to Recharge

Self-Care:  Road trip to University of Florida’s Movement Disorder Center to meet with physical therapist, occupational therapist and speech therapist, Lunch n Learn PD support group meetings, Parkinson’s Foundation community education event, Tai Chi classes, trigger point massages, daily walking, daily stretching, diagnostic tests, chiropractor, neurologist, cardiologist,  podiatrist, urogynecologist  and dentist appointments

Family:  Sister-in-law in hospital, followed by my brother, 90-year-old aunt passed away with Alzheimer’s

Pets: Took Grace, Chauncey and Maggie Mae  for vaccinations, changed diet, got water fountain

Social: Hosted 69th birthday party, hosted dinner club, attended three dinner clubs, several lunches with girlfriends, re-connected with a couple of old friends, spring training baseball game

Professional:  Researched, wrote and posted twenty-seven Parkinson’s My Way blogs, interviewed two artists, designed business card, wrote free report for email blog subscription, attended annual library book sale and three rummage sales for eBay inventory finds, wrote an acrostic poem for a contest, taught online strategic management course, evaluated twenty-eight students’ prior learning assessment portfolios

DAR:  Prepared monthly newsletter reports, presented oral monthly meeting reports as chairman of DAR school committee, checked in attendees and dressed as flapper at annual fundraiser, contributed donations to fundraiser, served as meeting greeter and did a show and tell introduction of myself, served as executive board director and advised regent, received 10-year membership award, received DAR school committee project award for second place out of 106 Florida chapters

House:  Tented and fumigated for termites and beetles

My Lazy Hazy Days of Summer

My summer will go with the flow, and I will do what feels right. This moment it is curling up on the couch with Grace, Chauncey or Maggie Mae and taking a short nap in the middle of a typical tropical rain. Now who can argue with that?

What do you like most about summer? How will you spend your summer?




Royal Poinciana’s Inspirational Beauty


He who plants a tree plants a hope. ~Lucy Larcom

The first time I viewed this magnificent tree in bloom I was in awe. The year was 1977, and I had relocated to Palm Beach County. Forty-two years later, my reaction is the same. The royal poinciana tree, also known as the flame or flamboyant tree, has orange/red petals and a yellow and white center. It can grow forty to fifty feet in height, and often the umbrella shaped crown is greater in width than the tree’s height.

Although I do not have a royal poinciana on my property, I enjoy several views within a couple minutes of my house. My daily walk in the neighborhood is punctuated by the dazzling flowering beauty during May and June. How’s that for spring time in Florida?


Photo Credit:  Linda A. Mohr

Parkinson’s Foundation Free Genetic Testing and Counseling Study

On May 30, 2019, I attended the Parkinson’s Foundation New Frontiers in Research and Care community educational event. Meeting in Palm Beach Gardens four miles from my home made it a “must see” event.

Dr. Anna Naito serves as a Director of Research Programs at the Parkinson’s Foundation national headquarters in Miami, FL. She has been involved in PD research for over ten years. While earning her PhD in neuropharmacology from the University of Southern California, she researched dopamine pathways in the brain.

What is PDGENEeration?

Dr. Naito is now responsible for leading the Foundation’s flagship program to offer free genetic testing and counseling through the PDGENEeration five-year study. It will provide genetic information that will lead to improving care, expanding research and accelerating enrollment in clinical trials. The objective of PDGENEeration is to offer free genetic testing and counseling to all people with Parkinson’s. In the spring of 2019, six pilot studies started in the Northeast, Midwest and West coast with 600 people. The $1500 free test for seven mutations is scripted by a movement disorder doctor. Genetic counselors are available. During the expansion phase, the goal is 15,000 total participants in five years across approximately fifty Center of Excellence and Parkinson’s Study Group sites.

Genetic Study Steps

    1. Schedule appointment if eligible
    2. Have blood drawn as well as clinical and cognition evaluation
    3. Test blood which will take six weeks
    4. Follow-up report with doctor
    5. Complete survey on your satisfaction level and how it changed your care

A sign-up list was provided for those of us in South Florida who were interested in being notified about future free testing in 2020. (Yes, I signed up!)

What About At Home Genetic Tests?

Audience questions related to 23andMe home test. Dr. Naito emphasized you should definitely share results with your doctor. However, it only tests for two mutations—LRRK2 and GBA and does not offer a clinician and genetic counseling. The comprehensive PDGENEeration study tests for LRRK2 and GBA plus five other common PD mutations and provides clinical and cognition evaluation by a movement disorder specialist and counseling by a genetic counselor.

Contacting PD Foundation

To learn more about the PDGENEeration, visit here.  Or call 1-800-4PD-INFO.

The Foundation is recruiting 600 participants to enroll in the 2019 study. For more information regarding their need and your eligibility, please email




Grandma’s Teachings: Honor Loved Ones on Decoration Day

Red Poppy–Symbol of Sacrifice and Remembrance

I am a part of all that I have touched and that has touched me. ~Thomas Wolfe

My most precious memory of my grandma, Charlotta Estella Seyb Mohr, is spending countless hours by her side at an impressive round oak pedestal table with animal claw feet. I adored her and enjoyed spending time at her home in rural Missouri. That was real easy to do since she  lived about a mile where I grew up.

Family life centered on the heartbeat of the house. What she taught me remains part of my being. I close my eyes, and the table turns into a flower shop on Decoration Day (a day dating back to 1868). We tour her beautiful gardens and pick fragrant spring flowers such as peonies, poppies, irises, snowballs and bleeding hearts. Grandma prays nature will hold the rain for the weekend to preserve these fragile flowers. We make a list of loved ones whose graves we will visit and adorn. Then we arrange the flowers in vases and buckets.

Always Honor Your Loved Ones

“Always honor your loved ones,” she says. I learn that red poppies symbolize remembrance of those who have fallen in war. Grandma’s faith sustained her after losing her mother at age two and her younger brother in World War I at age twenty-two. I choose pink peonies to memorialize my great-grandmother Charlotta. Red poppies blaze on my great-uncle Rupert’s grave.

The Why Behind Red Poppies

When I was older, I learned more about the significance of the red poppy. In 1918, Moina Michael bought a bouquet of poppies and handed them out to businessmen at the New York YMCA because of the poignant effect the poem In Flanders Fields had on her. She asked them to wear the poppy as a tribute to the fallen Americans in World War I. She led a campaign that designated the poppy as the official flower of The American Legion in 1923.

During World War I, American soldiers were buried in the pastures and on the battlefields of Europe, where bright red poppies grew wild among the fresh graves. While caring for the wounded near one of the battlefields, a Canadian doctor, Lt. Col. John McCrae, jotted down these opening lines: “In Flanders fields the poppies blow/ Between the crosses, row on row. . .”

The American Legion Auxiliary is recognized as the world’s largest women’s patriotic service organization. Thousands of crepe paper poppies made by disabled and hospitalized veterans are given out for donations to benefit disabled veterans.

Photo by Bob Fehringer, USTRANSCOM/PA

Video Reading of In Flanders Fields

In 2015,  Legion Magazine and Leonard Cohen released  a powerful video reading of In Flanders Fields on YouTube to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the poem by Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. Cohen’s voice is accompanied by stirring imagery from the First World War and helps me to understand what my two heroic great-uncles experienced.

In Memory of My Great-Uncle Rupert Seyb


My great-uncle, Rupert Carl Seyb, enlisted in Sanborn, South Dakota, on June 5, 1917. He served as a private in Company F, 350th Infantry with American Expeditionary Forces. He died from influenza in Naix, France, on February 23, 1919, at twenty-six years, two months, sixteen days. He is buried at Saint Paul Cemetery near Kahoka, Missouri.

Honoring his place of death, Naix, France

Rupert Seyb Memorial Card

Rupert C. Seyb Grave Stone

In Memory of My Great-Uncle Carl Roasa


My great-uncle, Carl A. Roasa, was inducted into the Army/Marine unit on July 5, 1917, in Kansas City, Missouri. He served overseas from May 20, 1918, until January 17, 1919, where he died in France of pneumonia at twenty-two years, ten months, eight days. His parents, Albert and Laura Roasa, bought land, planted trees and started Granger Cemetery for the burial of Carl Albert. He was the youngest of six children including five boys and one girl. I read in Carl’s war records that his mother was notified of his death. Although I never met my great-grandmother, I can picture her receiving this devastating news of her beloved son, and my heart breaks.

Carl A. Roasa’s Grave Stone

Carl’s memorial card included this beautiful James Whitcomb Riley poem:

I cannot say and I will not say
That he is dead—He is just away!
With a cheery smile and a wave of the hand,
He has wandered into an unknown land,
And left us dreaming how very fair
It needs must be, since he lingers there.
Mild and gentle, as he was brave
When the sweetest love of his life he gave.
Think of him as the same I say:
He is not dead—He is just away.

A Soldiers’ Memorial was established near the Scotland County Courthouse in Memphis, Missouri, in 1923, led by the Betsy Ross Club. Other organizations joined forces including Home Guards, Order of the Eastern Star, and Mothers of Soldiers.The names of the soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice from the area were chiseled on the memorial pillars. The honor roll of twenty-five soldiers includes Carl A. Roasa. The engraving reads “In memoriam to the boys from Scotland County 1914 ~ World War ~ 1918, they gave their all for liberty and democracy.”

Soldiers’ Memorial

Honor Roll

Although I am not in Missouri this Memorial Day weekend, I will visit the Granger Cemetery as well as the Saint Paul Cemetery later this summer.  I pause to reflect on what my two great-uncles’ service and their ultimate sacrifice mean to my life, and I am deeply grateful.

In my mind’s eye today, grandma is watching me arrange pink peonies.

“Your bouquet is breathtaking,” she says.

“Thank you grandma!”



Termites, Parkinson’s and Executive Function

It’s always something.

~Gilda Radner

Termites are big headaches in Florida. As a general rule, termite season is in springtime, when the weather warms up enough for termites to “swarm”. They emerge from their mature colonies in the hundreds or thousands to establish new termite colonies. When they do, it is one of the few times when homeowners can easily see these normally hidden insects. I would find them flying around the kitchen in the evening. The counter top would be covered with larvae hatching and wings.

The effective way to get rid of them is to tent the house and have it fumigated. You can attempt to just treat the affected areas with injections. The problem with that method is the termites move around. They have lots of choices with an open wood beam ceiling in dining and living room and antique furniture. We had some beams treated a few years ago, but it did not get them. We also discovered powder post beetles were feasting at our house. The beetles were in the kitchen cabinets or beams above them. Although they do not swarm, they leave sawdust clues on top of the ceramic cook top. Powder post beetles compared to wood termites are slow eaters and will take many years for them to destroy an area. Tenting has been on the “A” to do list, but not eagerly scheduled!!

My Executive Function–No Problem

The tenting project is event coordination! This really means it deals with cognition. One of the most common cognitive changes associated with Parkinson’s is executive function. These functions include making complex decisions, keeping multiple things straight, organizing tasks and doing tasks in specific sequence. I am blessed that I do not have issues with executive function. I had to work out an acceptable schedule with the exterminating company depending on their tenting commitments, the vet for boarding Chauncey, Grace and Maggie Mae keeping in mind the business is closed on Mondays, Joe’s travel schedule and my doings. Then I had to make hotel reservations. That was just the beginning!

Why Does It Cost So Much?

A few days before the tenting date, the company owner brought by the contract and preparation instructions. Somehow, someway there was miscommunication, and the contract did not show treatment for powder post beetles. Well that takes ten times the amount of gas and possibly longer for gas to disappear. Normally with just wood termites, the tent goes on one morning, comes off the next morning and house is cleared for occupancy on third morning. Plus we have a no access crawl space and that was going to require extra attention to test for gas. Of course, the treatment for termites and beetles was more expensive and went from $1740 to $4376! So he had to return to office to get new contract typed up. But the staff was  gone for the day, and it took another day for that document to be finalized. Meanwhile I had to re-contact the hotel and vet to see if extending our accommodations was possible if needed. I started to look forward to our “termite getaway” and gathered up a stack of reading materials for poolside.

Preparing House for Tenting

We had to prepare the house. Joe spent many hours/days on the outside trimming vegetation away from foundation of house. He moved potted plants and decorative items.

Potted coleus plants at entry were moved

Window liner box of flowers lifted out

The day before evacuation all food items except canned goods had to be put in special plastic bags provided by company, double bagged, twisted and folded down tops and secured. That also included refrigerator and freezer items and the bags set back in refrigerator. My housekeeper helped me bag up the pantry. All my medications had to be removed from house and taken with me. We also had to slightly open every cabinet door and drawer about an inch throughout the house to help with the gas elimination.

Evacuation Day

On the “E” day, we had to be out of the house by 8:30 a.m. with suitcases and the three fur babies! I gathered up my clothes for packing the evening before, but I waited to bring out the suitcase until we had captured each cat and placed in carrying case. They are so intuitive when their routine is about to change and will hide under beds or crawl inside box springs. Today was not the day to tear a bed apart. Been there–done that! Whew!! Now you know why I really want to sit by pool and read and do nothing for the rest of my life!!

Always A Story

Convenience was at the top of my list in selecting our hotel accommodations. The hotel was just a couple miles from house and the vet was across the street from hotel. Buffet breakfast, parking and WIFI were offered free. We had a five-minute walk to a French cafe we love. Plus the hotel served dinner. The off season hotel rates were in effect. That’s the good part. The bad part was our room was literally the next to last one to be cleaned. Despite my best effort to get into the room early, that did not happen. The hotel offered to put us in a different room, (a smaller room), but for the same rate I’d already paid. What a deal! Since done online, they could not/would not change rate. So we waited and waited. We were both exhausted. We sat in small lobby for a while, but a hotel TV screen kept showing a lady relaxing in a luxurious bed. I couldn’t stand it!! Sitting in a shaded area by the pool provided a calmer respite.

After lunch we  drove by the house to see how it looked. Warning signs had been placed on the house.

Warning Sign

A slow drip of water was left on Christmas palm tree to help protect it. It’s the tree in the middle to right of vehicle. The  black olive tree on the far right in swale next to sidewalk was treated for termites last summer. Our arborist is trying to save it.

View from across street

Well, finally at 2:55 (5 minutes before check-in) our room was ready. When we got to the room, the door sign indicated Palm West Suite which I had not booked. I had reserved a regular room with a king bed. But we had a spacious bedroom, bath, plus a huge room with sitting and sleeper couch at one end and dining/kitchen at other!! What’s that saying…good things come to those who wait!!

During our stay, something was constantly not right or working. The staff seemed accustomed to operating this way, and apologies were not given. There were key card issues on multiple occasions. We asked for a non-skid bath mat the first evening . We were informed the housekeeping supervisor was off duty, and we would probably have to wait until the next day! Someone eventually brought us a mat the same evening. The restaurant door was stuck shut for breakfast one morning and a patron saw us trying to get in and helped us. He even informed the staff, but no one rushed to fix it. The business center was located next to a housekeeping closet and elevator and was so noisy that Joe gave up on it. The morning we had to request late check-out while we waited to hear if we could return to house had to be negotiated. New key cards had to be issued since they automatically stopped working at 11 a.m., but no one told us. The phone in our suite did not work. Someone came to look at it, tried another phone and decided AT&T would have to come out which they never did!

Back to Normal–Sorta!

Friday at 7:55 a.m., the tenting company called to say we were cleared to return! Yippee!! The process I described above was reversed. Except with food sacked up, you saw that the entire refrigerator needed to be washed down. Now when did I last do that? Well, probably, never!! So each shelf and drawer was removed and washed. I also cleaned and reorganized my pantry which is like a walk in closet with lots of stuff (including a bag of powdered sugar expiration July 2010!!) There are six shelves on two of the four walls, and you need a ladder to reach top shelf. I took the challenge to declutter. I donated a trunk load of serving items to my favorite thrift store.

Time to unpack refrigerator contents

I have lived on my street since 1980 and every house has been tented, some more than once. People often wait until they are ready to sell or in our case, just can’t stand it any longer. A few years ago the house behind us had a major renovation stalled when the contractor discovered a load-bearing wall was dangerously infested with termites in the middle of demolition!

Well, there you have it. Just part of Florida living ranking just below hurricanes for things I could do without! ​










Reflections on 5 Year Parkinson’s Anniversary

Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead. ~ Louisa Mae Alcott

Five years ago on an ordinary beautiful South Florida day, May 13, 2014, I left my neurologist’s office going down an unpredictable extraordinary path. I had just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Signs popped up as early as 2011. However, until enough symptoms surfaced for the right doctor to observe, I thought my challenges were due to growing older.

What has my life been like the past five years? What have I given up? How have I adapted? To reflect on these questions, I turned to my lifelong personal values of helping people learn, continuing my education, preserving moments in time, expressing gratitude and having faith.

I value helping people learn.

I launched Parkinson’s My Way website, blog and Facebook page in 2018 to help people live quality lives and to showcase their creative side. Before PD, my personal mission was “to make a heartfelt difference” and that is unchanged. Through my sharing in Parkinson’s My Way, the intent is to educate, to inspire, and to give hope. Five artists and poets have been interviewed, and it’s been my honor to meet these incredible creative people with Parkinson’s and to share their talent and determination with the world.  Although I retired from a full-time career in education in 2013, I am blessed to continue teaching strategic management online for Northwood University—Michigan. In this senior capstone course, I am also my students’ loudest cheerleader to help them cross the finish line.

I value continuing my lifelong education.

The World Parkinson Congress took me to Portland, Oregon in 2016. My love of poetry was discovered after PD diagnosis and led me to study under the presidential inaugural poet Richard Blanco at Omega Institute in 2016. I was honored with a Cat Writers’ Association Muse Medallion for a cat poem The Morning Visitor in 2016. I studied English Country Houses at Oxford University in 2017 residing on the Christ Church campus and dining in the Great Hall. I was selected to attend the Palm Beach Poetry Festival in 2018 and studied under Mississippi state poet laureate Beth Ann Fennelly.

I value preserving moments in time.

I have been a top rated eBay seller since 2015 of anything vintage—from buttons to books. My writing is published in twelve anthologies, seven journals and one cat book. Nine of those publications have been in the past five years. I photograph cats, country scenes and abandoned houses. I have collected brooches for 40 years and still add favorites such as Christmas trees, women’s faces and cats to my collection when I travel.

I value expressing gratitude.

Every morning before I get out of bed I express one gratitude. Today it is living my best life the past five years with Parkinson’s. Every evening before I drift off to sleep, I count ten blessings for the day. Since 2010, I have created My ABCs of Gratitude in November to represent the current year.  A sample is as follows:

2014 Lexie Lee…our 12 years together
2015 Weinberg…a special healer
2016 Tai Chi…class 2 minutes from house
2017 Knight…picture with Coach Knight & brothers
2018 Yellowstone National Park…trip with Joe for memory bank

I know I am incredibly blessed in thousands of ways. I’ll always be in gratitude to  my dentist. In 2015, I fell on my face (nothing to do with PD) but due to a poorly maintained village sidewalk near my home. An ambulance took me to the emergency room where I had x-rays and was released with my two front teeth sticking straight out. My private driver took me to Dr. David Podbielski and with phone coaching from an oral surgeon, he popped my teeth back into place without them breaking off. I was a mess for several months. My jaw was broken and eating was difficult. I cancelled Christmas travel to the farm. The stress brought out the worst in PD and my medications were adjusted.

I value faith in God.

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.  Psalm 143:8

Rather than asking why do I have Parkinson’s, I ask why not me? I believe I have been given all the time I need to fulfill my life’s purpose.

How has Parkinson’s changed my life the past five years?

Before Parkinson’s,  medical appointments were routine and preventive, and the pills I took were vitamins. Now I spend over twenty hours a week on Parkinson’s self-care such as doctor’s appointments, physical therapy, support groups, exercise, tai chi, yoga, social media, reading, researching, writing and blogging. I am blessed to have Dr. Michael Okun at the University of Florida’s  Center for Movement Disorders and Neurorestoration  become one of my doctors in 2018. Having this world renowned movement disorder specialist on my care team is worth the five-hour drive and over-night stay.

I am in better physical condition than I was five years ago. Although my brain is short on dopamine, it is stuffed with PD knowledge.  Chemistry keeps me going. I take a baker’s dozen of pills a day to manage symptoms. Gotta love chemistry! Although I have excellent insurance, not all needs are covered, so I have to budget a hefty amount each year. I have learned to be mindful of the moment and to breathe through the pain. Dr. Adam Holleman, my physical therapist taught me to rub a tennis ball on stiff muscles or ones stuck in contracted state. In most instances, I can manage the pain and trust that I will be better in fifteen minutes! I wear a Lifeline necklace  for peace of mind and flat shoes for safety and comfort.

Suffering from Rapid Eye Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD), I acted out  many terrifying dreams. I was chased, stabbed, drowned, robbed and even attended my funeral in these vivid and violent dreams. I screamed and talked out loud. When a jet plane landed in my bed, I was ready for medication. My last RBD dream was August 19, 2018 as  I started a bedtime pill the next night to shut down the disturbing drama.

In 2014-2016, I served as vice-regent of Daughters of the American Revolution of Seminole Chapter. DAR is near and dear to my heart and also represents my values of education, historical preservation and patriotism. I was on track to be on Seminole’s slate of officers as regent for 2016-2018. But due to PD, I withdrew. Two perfect trade-offs were waiting for me. In 2018, I was ask to serve on executive board as advisor to regent. I was also appointed chair of DAR School Committee and created an award winning project for Crossnore School in North Carolina.

How has Parkinson’s not changed my life the past five years?

PD has not changed the core of who I am or the essence of my soul. My longtime values still guide me in how I live and what I say “yes” to doing. A variety of interests still add richness to my life including antiques, travel, baking, animals, nature, reading, photography, poetry, family farm visits, education and DAR.

According to Danny Kaye,” life is a great big canvas and you should throw all the paint on it you can.” I keep a watchful eye on my yearning list and checked off five yearnings in the past five years. These included getting another cat (in reality the backyard stray Tortie adopted me!), returning to London for tenth time, staying in Mayfair Chesterfield, being an Oxford student for The Summer Experience and going to Omega Institute. I still go and do—but at a slower pace.

When my life gets too whacky

I do my best and forget the rest. I watch I Love Lucy and laugh until my stomach hurts. Or I make my signature dessert from the 1990s–Baked Alaska. In spite of Parkinson’s, some of my interests will never change!