One of the things I use Facebook for is polishing and harvesting potential blog posts, and this November-December stretch has been a busy one. Hence, I haven’t had a chance to transfer the keepers to my blog, until now. So this LONG post — with plenty of pictures — is my way of catching up quickly instead of making each one a separate post…in reverse chronological order:

December 4, 2016
Sequestered

Ben loves to eat, but he doesn’t like being around someone else if they’re eating something he doesn’t like — which is most foods. It grosses him out. So, when he was served his yogurt at the little dining table in the apartment Saturday, he had no interest in eating it where Karen was eating Indian food, so he pushed a chair into the corner as far away as possible, and that’s where he enjoyed his yogurt. Makes sense to me! (And as for the covers on the floor — that’s where Ben had just deposited them. Why? He’s Ben. And he messes faster than we can unmess.)

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December 4, 2016
Coffee Shop Deja Vu

This morning I’ve gotten to my usual Starbucks spot a couple of hours later than usual. I knew the line would be to the door and the place jammed, as it always is at 8:00 on a Sunday morning. But the handwritten sign on the door told the tale about the water main break that happened yesterday, bringing a boil order to the neighborhood. I walked in, and was told that the only drink they have today is coffee. That’s it, coffee, drip brewed with bottled water. And what do you know. The place is empty. Nobody in line. The only person sitting in a comfy chair is a newbiebarista watching a Starbucks training video on his laptop. I ordered my coffee, have taken a seat, and am in total Sunday morning bliss. People are wandering in, being told the tragic news, standing for a moment, some looking dazed, or dejected, or slightly panicked, before turning and walking back into the cold Cleveland air. Just last week, I realize that I’m almost never in line at Starbucks hearing somebody order just coffee. I must seem like a weirdo to them. What a quaint concept. A coffee shop that is only serving coffee. No frappuccino, no crafty drinks, no espressos, no Zippity Doo Dah handy dandy mocha Christmas monster mashes with foam. And so the coffee shop selling only coffee on a primetime Sunday morning is empty. Except for happy me. Alone. Drinking my coffee.

November 29, 2016
Beautiful

I don’t know when the hell I’ll be able to shake this nasty Trumpression, but getting a pic like this, of Ben on the ride back to his place after his day program, lifts my spirits like nothing else.

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November 26, 2016
Thankful for Puzzles

Ben relaxing on the day after Thanksgiving. This is an in-between-Cleveland weekend for us, and whenever we aren’t there on a major holiday, there is a little pang of guilt. But it is worth reminding ourselves that Ben, as far as we can tell, doesn’t give a hoot about holidays. If anything, he might simply associate them with getting a bit more of his favorite foods. Pumpkin pie fits that category. Brussel sprouts do not.

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November 20, 2016
Here Comes The Ben

Ben movin’ and groovin’, or at least groovin’ with the fabulous Julie, his music therapist. He loves it, and it has a wide range of benefits beyond simple pleasure. And it has made him a Beatles fan – one of their “duets” is Here Comes The Sun, and it has become one of his always-requested things in the car. The nice thing about a number like that (beyond it being a great tune, compared to the freakin’ Rafi repertoire, no offense meant to rabid Rafi fans) (including Ben) is that it has been recorded by about a billion artists which made it easy to string together a bunch of alternate versions to follow the original Beatles recording. He’d already heard the original many times in the car after first getting to know it via Julie, which in and of itself was cool. Now he hears it followed by versions by Milos Karadaglic (a pretty amazing classical guitarist with string ensemble), Sheryl Crow, Richie Havens, Nina Simone, Christian Howes String Quartet — and we’ve trimmed out a few versions he didn’t seem to dig (Paul Simon/David Crosby/Graham Nash from a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, a very cool 9 minute behemoth by the John Deversa Progressive Big Band, hammer dulcimerist David Schnaufer). I did something similar with the Sam Bush album, Circles Around Me, which he loves and always requests on Benny Music Day (the day on each visit where he has total control over the playlist). It’s an alternate “original versions” version of Sam’s album which is mostly covers that influenced him. So Ben gets to gain a little flexibility via music listening, along with a taste of Music 101 via a Beatles song. (And Mom and Dad like it too.) Thank you Julie Hopkins! And if anyone has a version of Here Comes the Sun they want to recommend for Ben, let me know.

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November 17, 2016
Communing

Ben grooving in The Nature Center at Shaker Lakes, in Cleveland’s suburbs, and a couple more pics of the gorgeous area.

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November 13, 2016
VIDEO
Happiest

Ben gleefully singing one of his favorites today while taking a walk with Mary Beth, one of his cherished guardian angels. He is laughing and as happy as can be. For him, even in these troubled times, there is no irony in the song he’s belting out: “The More We Get Together, the Happier We’ll Be.”

November 6, 2016
Ben and Brandywine

Ben (with and without me) at Brandywine Falls today, 20 minutes from our apartment. The Cleveland area is an amazing place for natural beauty, no doubt about it. Especially when Ben adds his beautiful mug!
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November 5, 2016
Early Winter Beach Strolling

Ben (and one with me) at Geneva State Park Beach, 45 minutes northeast of Cleveland.

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November 5, 2016
Road Tale

Made it as far as Sandusky last night, tire going flat, appreciated newfangled cars and their electronic sensor systems warning us before we were sitting on the side of the road with a totally flat tire, appreciated smartphone more than ever to get us to a service station. But they couldn’t do anything for us, but did tell us to go to local Walmart, but they were closing up the car section, able to put the spare on for us, made it to Cleveland, at NTB at 7 this morning as they opened, need 4 new tires, we figured that anyway and we knew we were due and we’re planning on getting new tires before the winter kicks in (round trips Chicago-Cleveland every other weekend will do that to tires), now waiting for the tires, and will be picking up Ben up at the usual time. Even made it to the apartment last night in time to see Bill Maher’s show with Barack Obama, and have dinner beforehand. Luckily had left Chicago hours earlier than usual. We were on the Skyway when the Cubs rally started on WGN radio. Sat next to a guy in our usual bar for dinner in Cleveland, talked about the Cubs/Indians series, no war, it’s great to be able to talk about something at the moment other than the election. Thank you Cubs!

Catching Up with Cleveland and Ben

5 thoughts on “Catching Up with Cleveland and Ben

  • December 6, 2016 at 3:56 pm
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    Great and true. Writing that makes the reader really know Ben and really feel like he understands the life and love there.

    Reply
    • December 6, 2016 at 4:01 pm
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      Honored coming from you Bob — thanks.

      Reply
  • December 6, 2016 at 4:15 pm
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    So nice to peek into Ben’s life again. Be thankful he is so happy. I wish I could find a trusted place for my guys, age 21, with autism. Twins. Ben is blessed to have you and his extended support family. ::Waving at y’all from Indiana:::

    Reply
  • December 10, 2016 at 7:17 am
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    I followed a comment you left on Bob McWilliams page, back to yours. I hope you don’t mind. I’m sure you don’t remember, but we met years ago at IBMA. I’ve always enjoyed whatever you have to say, no matter where I find you. And now I know why….. we are “Birds of a feather” so to speak, hence you won’t find me saying ANYTHING nice about #Drumpf. Just waiting for him to branch out from Twitter to Facebook, and find the rest of us who deplore him. We’ll all end up in the Gulag (spelling?) together once he’s sworn in. LoL

    Reply
    • December 10, 2016 at 11:39 am
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      I sure do remember you Jane — ah, the good’ldays!

      Reply

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