Renee

August 30, 2020

Roadside Yoga

It was a hot afternoon, even in the mountains. We were en route to our age-of-pandemic vacation: Bicycling (outdoors all day!) from a remote campground (not many campers = further distance apart!), in James, our RV (no hotel lobbies, no public bathrooms). I had meals planned (no restaurants this trip!), and my yoga mat, plenty of snacks and water packed. And, we were remaining within state borders. Halfway into the six-hour drive, we were following switchbacks through the mountains. We curved around to an uphill and noticed the string of vehicles ahead. We eased up behind a boat on a trailer. A shiny black car stopped behind us, another RV behind them. No one honked. The cars kept coming, as though someone was stringing an endless supply of beads. With no cell service, none of us knew what was causing the delay. It could’ve been road construction, a rock slide, […]
June 11, 2020

Rally for a Service Dog

Sheltering and social distancing have taken a toll on my service dog and me. Steering clear of public places has weakened our being out in public places skills. Still, as businesses begin to open up, I need to rally myself to get back out into the community. On the plus side, Bryce has become stellar at assisting me throughout the house and garden. We haven’t gone anywhere but house and garden, so he’s had ample opportunity to excel at what I need most in the kitchen, bathroom or out in the yard. Staying at home was simpler. At shops and cafes, there are – people. The grocery store is at the top of the scary list. My husband (and local farm delivery) has taken that on since February. No one used to stop to talk to him in any aisle before the virus and they’re certainly not going to start, […]
March 11, 2020

FDGB

While at a local health fair recently, (held before virus warnings of not to convene in large groups with others), I sat at an exhibitor table with my yoga colleagues. Some of the attendees stopped to say, Hi, talk about yoga and comment on the giant dog beside me. Others took part in Tai chi lessons, worked on movement with various exhibitors and commented on the giant dog beside me. Said giant dog did very well refraining from approaching any of the attendees who spoke to him or reached out a hand. It’s the skill we’ve been working on the most lately. Having an uber-friendly dog is by far not the worst problem to have in these days of so many issues. However, when that dog is a balance service dog, it’s essential he moves only on my command because if he lurches forward for a friendly pet, I FDGB. […]
January 29, 2020

Forget about It

I’d blame the Parkinson’s, but it’s more likely that my usual bubbleheadedness has me forgetting things I should remember. Then again, it could be age. My memory mishaps seem to be on the increase. There are so many now that I can categorize them. There are brain freezes, like “Why did I just walk into the kitchen?” And then there is wishful thinking, as in “I can remember the three things I need from the grocery store without writing them down.” Let’s not forget the fill-in-the-blank moments when a simple word is nowhere to be found. Those are conversation stoppers. When our phones takes a little extra time to retrieve a file, we wait for it. If only we had a similar screen icon on our foreheads of that spinning circle with Processing…this may take several minutes. Why do we expect our aging brain’s full memory cards to function faster […]
January 15, 2020

No Joke

My service dog and I walked into a bar . . . Sounds like the start of a bad joke. It was pretty bad, but it was no joke. My service dog (and my husband) and I walked into a restaurant/bar.  We’d gone out to this particular place a few times before. It was a busy night, but there were a few open spaces and we were in no hurry. Waves of music and conversation surrounded the three of us as we waited to be seated. Not a minute went by when the music halted mid-song. The abrupt silence on stage made many heads turn toward the piano player. Microphone in hand, pointing at us with the other, he bellowed, “Did you see the size of that dog?!”  Heads pivoted our way. Did he really just say that? And he’s pointing at us? A few dishwashers peeked through the swinging […]
August 26, 2019

The Yoga of Travel

I’m not a light packer. A weekend getaway requires a giant duffel. Forget shoes, there’s the sack of daily Parkinson’s meds, service dog paraphernalia–bed, harness, food–more food–and of course, my yoga mat. Now, imagine a month-long vacation in a compact RV. Fortunately, James (the RV) feels roomy due to lots of nooks and cubbies (and a wee bit of cramming) to store the four weeks’ worth of supplies. But I forgot about  the extra 165 pounds of Great Dane—and his bed and food, and more food–on board. It wasn’t looking good for unrolling my yoga mat. That concerned me. Vacation time away doesn’t mean time away from yoga. Hours of sitting on James, no matter how glorious the views, would be an open door to lurking rigidity.  No space? No problem, I decided. By pairing upward salutes with seated half dogs in my co-pilot seat, I created a rendition of […]
May 9, 2019

Inhale and Hold for Five

This Is So not Yoga A Promise For more than five years, neurologists have been promising an inhalable form of the Parkinson’s gold-standard medication. No lengthy trials were needed to test the medication itself – the inhaler uses the Levodopa of the Carbidopa/Levodopa combo so many of us already swallow numerous times per day. The delivery system (a puff like an asthmatic’s remedy) however, needed to pass safety and efficacy trials. Early on, the Michael J. Fox Foundation gave two grants of more than a million dollars to the study. Still, the years ticked on. Burger or Bust The reason so many of us continued to be hopeful about the elusive inhaler was because it would send the medication into the bloodstream without having to go through the stomach and intestines first. Maintaining a steady level in the bloodstream is essential – drop too low and symptoms become severe and […]
February 28, 2019

Who’ll Get the Dogs Out?

How businesses like the local coffee shop can help reduce service dog fraud I’m seated at Starbucks with my chai latte (almond milk) grande, scone, extra napkins. My service dog, curled up on his mat beside me, sighs. We’re content in our corner, which has me wondering how it got so complicated.   Not the tea. Green or black, with bagel or brioche, the simple fact is that it is pleasant here. No surprises. Just what this customer wants. An untrained dog running amok would cancel out the pleasantries. Like the diners in a California bistro recently, I’d find another establishment for my tea break. The dog in the booth beside those diners lounged on the seat until a plate of fries arrived, which he then snarfed off the table. I’d also be among the no-repeat customers in a building in Massachusetts where, while on the elevator, a vested mini-dog […]
February 15, 2019

Snowvasana

I know snow. I know that the stinging kind is never good. And while the puffy flakes call out for snowshoes, snowmen and snowball tossing, it piles up. I grew up in Buffalo and spent two decades in New England. I know how to prep and dress for blizzards, play and drive in squalls and clear a path through the aftermath of a Nor’easter. The reason I now live on the other coast derives from knowing snow, from having too much first-hand experience with it. Last week, the flat flakes began floating down from our western skies (“It doesn’t snow here”). It started sticking (“And if it does, it’s no more than a dusting”). Weather reports launched into increasing numbers of inches on the ground and days that schools would remain closed (“If we ever get too much, we wait for it to melt”). Once the sideways snow softened, the […]
February 4, 2019

Saddle Up

I’m baaaaaack. It’s a New Year, the whirlwind transition to a new canine partner is behind in 2018,  and I’m out and about with a second service dog by my side (it amazes me I am fortunate enough to be teamed with a second service dog). Yes, I’m back, complete with the stories. Some of them lean toward sweet and I’m back could be heard in the same tone as though coming home after too-long a journey. Other tales make me cringe and I’m back conjures up images and audio of Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Among them, of course:  the inevitable saddle comments. Regardless, I’m back in the saddle again. So, please come back as I continue to share these stories in order to help, hope, educate, advocate, learn.