During Parkinson’s Awareness month, I think it is important to consider that some people live well with the disease for a long time and in some cases even decades. “Not everyone is affected by Parkinson’s equally,” Hubert Fernandez, M.D., director of the Center for Neurological Restoration at Cleveland Clinic, says. “It’s a disorder that you can live with for a long time—it’s doesn’t have to define you.”
One way I live well with the disease is to participate in a dinner club as part of a social group in the American Association of University Women. I joined in 2011, three years before my PD diagnosis. We meet four times a year. One of those times, Joe and I host three other couples at our home usually in March or April. The objective is to meet with different couples in different homes on a rotating basis. The hostess sets the theme and provides the main entrée, and the other three couples bring appetizer, salad and dessert. I have as much fun designing the tablescape as I do preparing the food.
We hosted our dinner on April 7 with an Easter in Springtime theme. I found these adorable ceramic rabbit plates and plastic white chargers at Hobby Lobby and that inspired the rest of the setting. I did not go shopping with the goal of creating an Easter table. I was just browsing, but the creative process unfolded naturally. It was meant to be! The new pieces were combined with my favorite vintage and antique treasures, and there you have it!
The white napkins with a brown embroidered rabbit hopped out at me at Burlington Coat Factory. The yellow mats (only had 8 and that is what I needed!) plus the long blue and yellow plaid tablecloth (needed for table with three extensions) also came from Burlington Coat Factory. This store is next door to Hobby Lobby where I also found the garland of blue, green and yellow eggs strung on a fuzzy brown cord!
My dining room is like a glass conservatory with all windows that are three-feet by five- feet on two sides of the room. During the day it is a light spilled room and at night white lights strung around the patio on one side reflect in a mirror on south wall and add magic to the room. White lights also decorate an arbor on the east side. I love being in this room–day or night.
A short Fenton hobnail ruffled milk glass epergne from mid century is conversation friendly. Large yellow chysantheum heads adorn each of the three horns. Milk glass candlesticks with blue and white candles are on each side of epergne. The flatware is primarily Gorham Fairfax sterling silver, and yes, polishing silver is great therapy and keeps my Parkinson’s challenged fingers moving. I really do like to polish silver! The hand painted stemware was found in a thrift store decades ago and makes me smile.
Crystal napkin rings, salt cellars and knife rests create continuity as well as contrast with casual tablecloth and brown cord. Jelly beans are in the salt cellars and serve as a table favor for each guest. People like to talk about jelly beans and eat them as well! My mother had a lovely collection of salts, and they were passed on to my siblings and me. Salt cellars date back to classical Rome. Salt shakers took their place in 1911, but salts became collectibles.
The knife rests never fail to be a curiosity with guests. So it’s fun to share a little history. Victorians protected their fine linens from stains by using knife rests. My collection is mainly cut or pressed glass with dumb bell ends.
This year marks our eighth dinner club that we have hosted. I have never considered resigning due to Parkinson’s. The event is a fun social evening. It requires planning, creativity and multi-tasking. I end up with an extra clean house, patio and yard. I also do one new household project each year in anticipation of the dinner, such as new living room drapes or adding a rug. The saying “if you want something done around the house, plan a party” is true for me. The end result is this dinner club party is one way I can live my best life now!