Podcaster Baker Traveler Coach

Mark DyckI first met Mark Dyck (he pronounces it “dick” so I was saying it wrong in my head lo these many years) in Seth Godin’s Triiibes network, closed long ago. He was in the process of quitting his job (something in tech? I don’t remember) to service his baking customers full time.

He had a mailing list of over 1,000 members, and spent his weekends baking bread as fast as he could in his backyard oven, trying to meet the demand for artisanal bread. The result was Orange Boot Bakery, and I’m sad I never made it there for a slice and a cup before Mark &co closed Orange Boot and moved on. Running a bakery is more work than most people see in a lifetime.

These days he calls himself a storyteller. Having just launched his 67th podcast episode I’d say he’s fairly well established in that arena. It’s called Rise Up! and focuses on baking, but with Mark, any subject is fair game; seems to go for his guests as well.

In his spare time (ha!) he’s also a traveler, professional community builder, business advisor, and speaker, all of which you can read about over at his
blog.

People as interesting and downright good as Mark don’t come along every day. Have a peek at his stuff. It’ll be fun.


The Amazing Disappearing Mother

We call my Mom, who lives in northern Wisconsin, a couple times a week. She’s essentially bedridden, but she has an excellent support network through her religious congregation.

She’s not tech savvy, as in, her TV remote sometimes gives her trouble. Deleting messages from her answering machine has eluded her for years. When we call and get the “Messages full” error, we assume she’ll call back when she’s back from the kitchen or whichever room of her apartment she’s been visiting.

Every once in a while, we don’t talk to her for a whole week.

When it hits 8 days, we call someone to go check. Like a week ago Saturday.

She wasn’t there.

On the rare occasions she makes her doctor appointments, it’s a weekday, so this was most unusual. A while later Best Beloved had the thought to check whether her wheelchair was there. No wheelchair, she’d taken it with her. Wheelchair, no Mom, she went out on a stretcher. That’s not being dramatic, it’s reality.

Our friend went by again. Wheelchair was there.

We called the hospital. No Mom. They suggested the hospitals in the nearest big town.

No joy.

Called another friend in the area, who said yes, it’s time to call the police.

It is marvelously comforting to have the calm, steady voice of a small town police officer take the pertinent details and promise to “send an officer to check it out.”

A while later, they called back and said she’d been picked up by an ambulance.

A week ago.

Before, I was puzzled. Now, I was concerned. Because if someone goes to the hospital, but they aren’t there anymore, and they didn’t go home . . .

We called the hospital again and gave them the new information. The person who answered the phone said, yes, she did come in by ambulance last Saturday.

So we asked, where is she now?

She was quiet for a bit, said “hmm, can you hang on?” and put us on hold.

I found a mindless online bubble shooter game to keep my brain quiet until she came back.

The call dropped.

I called another friend in the area, and while their phone was ringing, Best Beloved’s phone rang, and it was my mom.

She was unclear what happened, other than she’d been in an ambulance, went to the hospital, and was now in one of the care facilities we’ve been trying to convince her to move to because we don’t believe she can live on her own anymore.

She’d asked them to call, not one of her children, but a local friend. And somehow, that didn’t happen. (We’ve talked to a half-dozen people at this facility, and they are one and all professional caring people, so we’re not sure why the call didn’t happen.)

I asked Mom, perhaps in a loud voice, why she didn’t HAVE THEM CALL HER SON?

Her hearing is so bad and the connection so bad, I don’t think she even heard me.

She honestly thought her friend had been called, and that she would notify us (this is, in retrospect, a perfectly reasonable conclusion, though it doesn’t change the fact that I am family, and the other person is not.)

After more phone calls to the facility, we’ve learned that she’d had some medical visitor, or social worker, at her bedside, when suddenly she seemed confused, in a manner and to a degree that prompted a 911 call. She’d been treated for dehydration, but was still fuzzy mentally, and didn’t seem as ambulatory as they expected, so she went to the care facility instead of home.

When we arranged for her to have a working phone, and had a real conversation, she was coherent, cheerful, and pleased with the food where she was staying. Good food is a major driving force in her life. I inherited that, I guess.

She still doesn’t realize she’s there voluntarily, and we don’t plan to tell her. Though after yesterday, maybe it’s no longer voluntary.

Have you ever spoken to someone with expressive aphasia?

We called to check on her, and after the very nice nurse put Mom on the phone and went back to her station, Mom started saying sentences like “Meet when doctor sleep big down the hall eating flow.” About a minute of that, and I stopped her and said “We have no idea what you’re saying.” She continued in the same vein. I asked her if she knew who I was, and she said “Of course. You’re you!” I sort of felt that wasn’t good enough, so I asked “What’s my name?” and she said “Joel. Joel David Canfield.” (This is correct.)

Then she went off rambling again. I called the nurse on my phone while Best Beloved kept Mom talking. When Mom mentioned going to her mother’s house (her mother died 45 years ago) and that I was with her and had fallen down (um, no) our concern escalated.

The nurse came, listened to her conversation for a minute, then took her to her room to assess her. A while later they called and said she was on her way to the emergency room.

A few hours later the hospital called and said it was a urinary tract infection, which we knew could cause disorientation; it’s apparently common in older women. They said a dose of IV antibiotics and a course of oral antibiotics when she got back to the care facility would put her right. The nurse from the care facility called when Mom got back there late that night with the same news.

And that’s how I spent my summer vacation.

My mom has been widowed twice. She’s in very poor health. Her car sat in storage for 15 years after she stopped driving. She has steadfastly refused to move somewhere she can get the care she needs, despite falling multiple times. We were on the verge of initiating a more aggressive approach when this happened. It appears that she may end up staying at this place permanently, which is another adventure, but knowing she’s being monitored is a huge relief.

Since my father died at 52, Best Beloved’s at 58, and her mother is still in pretty good health, this is our first experience with this aspect of caring for an elderly parent. It has been a mite stressful, it has.


A New Kind of Dream

My dreams have been changing the past months. Less anxious struggle, more epic adventure, including one about my father, the first dream I’ve ever had about him. This is not that. This is last night’s offering; in the dream, years pass, and in my head, the dream itself felt like it lasted a number of hours, though of course the way our minds play with time, it could have been an instant.

The dream opened with a young man meeting his father for the first time. The young man was bitter, his father, amused.

Followed much rambling between and about the father and son, which I don’t remember, then it switches from third person to first, and jumps back in time twenty years.

Joel D CanfieldThe three of us were hiding out in a park somewhere. She was blonde, he was dark; nothing more than that, just dark. She was with me, and he was with us.

We went back to town and realized the authorities knew, and they were after us.

We ran separately. I went back toward the park. I left my little white breakfast plate with leftovers and a fork under a white plastic chair. Or maybe it was a bush. Went through the gate, around the lake, to a house.

Later, she joined me. I don’t think I was me, so she wasn’t Sue. The old folks and grandkids living there acted as if we belonged.

We knew they’d find my plate and follow the trail here. “We had no choice.” Our 3-year-old didn’t cry when we left him there. They were good people. The look on the old man’s face told me our son was in better hands than ours.

Later, the other guy and I were at the hotel. It’s hazy at this point, but later when she and I went back, the young girl was dead, probably because of the other guy.

She wouldn’t talk to me, just arranged the clothing in the dresser drawer.

In the kitchen, I looked past him to the road. At first I thought the sound was the motorcycle I could see, but then the helicopter noise separated from the big two-cylinder motorcycle engine and I ran out the side door and around the hotel. Up over the ridge; had no idea what would be there.

Below was a vast network of raised paths through a lake, with mountains on the other side. As I ran down the hill, a horseman came toward me out of the labyrinth. We passed each other, him going uphill, me going down.

I kept running.


Forcing a Poem

I’m going to paste a list of words that rhyme with “tired”, then fill in words ahead of each to make the worst poem you’ve read today. It probably helps to read it aloud, getting faster and louder with each line.

attitude hardwired
bedraggled and perspired
bit of peace acquired
can anguish be retired
can brains be rewired
each tower neatly spired
efforts all backfired
how my brain is wired
I am so very tired
little thought required
much to be desired
my synapses misfired
my two minds conspired
no success admired
pretend to be inspired
quietly inquired
whatever transpired
unwilling uninspired

Bells

His mother picked up his sister from our house. She said he’s not answering his phone we have to go.

His mother, young enough to be my daughter, cut him down.

His sister ran to the neighbor, my friend: he’s dead he’s dead.

My friend knelt over him in the hallway for two hours doing CPR until the paramedics came. Two hours.

The paramedics worked for two hours before they gave up.

My friend texted me. He just didn’t have the strength for the phone call.

I told my wife. She cried.

We talked. We told our daughter. She cried. Her first death.

My wife said I have to be there. We went over.

We hugged everybody. Everybody hugged everybody.

There was no crying left.


Three months later I wrote this song.

I finally cried.

Bells

I really don’t blame him he chose not to call
he’d been there for hours crouched in the hall
he sent me the message my heart tore in two
said someone was dead he said it was you

there should have been bells
so everyone would know
’cause the silence is killing me
since you had to go

Why didn’t I see you were so lost?
Would have done anything, paid any cost
But I never asked, and you never said
And some days I wish, it was me instead

there should have been bells
so everyone would know
’cause the silence is killing me
since you had to go

no matter how black there’s always hope
but it’s hard to see at the end of your rope
in the middle of love now there’s a hole
silence so loud taking its toll

there should have been bells
so everyone would know
’cause the silence is killing me
since you had to go


Agave Anniversary

This photo of Heat Hotel is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Those stories where one thing at a time, everything goes wrong, wronger, wrongest?

This is about our 5th wedding anniversary, and it’s the opposite of that.

On our honeymoon we’d seen a brand new hotel being built at Lake Havasu, and wanted to stay there on the first night of our anniversary trip. The room at the Agave wasn’t expensive at all, for such a spiffy place.

Our anniversary is December 26th. Since we don’t celebrate Christmas, that pretty much leaves the day before our anniversary full of fidgeting until we can leave for our annual trip. By our 5th anniversary we’d developed the habit of leaving the night before, knowing we’d never sleep anyway.

This time, we left a day and a night before: late on the evening of the 24th.

Arriving in Lake Havasu about 10am on the 25th, Best Beloved called and asked if the room we’d booked might be available today, a day early. They said, sure.

Ding!

Then the big ask: we were in town with nowhere to stay; might we be able to check in early?

They said, sure, the room’s ready.

Ding!

When we arrived, the woman at the check-in desk said, you’re here on your anniversary, right? Why yes, we said, we are.

They’d upgraded us to the honeymoon suite. Half of the top floor. About a $500 a night room, for which we were paying about $70.

Ding!

We made use of the separate private bathrooms, just because. Ding! And the oversized tub in the middle of the room, with the spigot in the ceiling so the water fell 10 feet to the tub. Ding!

We lounged and wallowed in luxury and generally made sure we got their thousand dollars’ worth.


Irish Adventure #3: From the Fog

I’ve had these two introductory paragraphs and the final action scene done for years. Now I’m finally going to write what comes between.

As soon as I finish Jake Calcutta story #3 next week.

I looked down at my shoes, and I smiled.

Mossie had bought me a very nice pair so I would, as he said, “look the part of heroic best man” at his wedding. I doubted a pair of shoes could manage that without oodles of help, but it was Mossie and Clare’s big day. Who was I to argue?



Gratitude Journal

Last summer I started journaling my gratitude in earnest; three things, every day, I appreciated. My goal has been to come up with three new things every day, so after the initial ease of listing my wife and daughter, friends, food, shelter, spirituality, it became a bit more challenging. Not that I don’t have plenty to be thankful for, but focusing on the moment, what am I grateful for right now? as opposed to one time there was this good thing and I think I remember it.

With almost 600 entries so far, it runs the gamut from “vinegar” (I love cooking) to “the coolest spring since we’ve lived in Arizona” while passing through “no more finger wrap for my arthritic finger” and “finding the patch kit for Sue’s bike tire.”

I’ve also mentioned over 60 people by name, endless features of nature right outside our windows, and things I try not to take for granted like indoor plumbing, air conditioning, reliable internet access, and working from the comfort of our own living, especially the part about working with my Best Beloved.

Thinking our gratitude isn’t as effective as writing it down. Writing has power, for ourselves, and to share with others.