Balloon Ambush

It was Staples’ fault. Granted, my balloon purchase happened at the Giant, but my fall from grace began with Staples. I started my week with the most frugal intentions. For one thing, the book trailer I’d like for Steel Rose will cost a few dollars, and so will the editing services I’ll need for my WOP’s. That, and the price for winter supplies.
Why winter supplies? Every fall, I try to purchase enough dry and frozen goods to last me through the winter. I’ve grown tired of shopping during the winter months only to find that the store has run out of the items I need. Worse, during a severe winter, the snow piles up so high around the sightlines in the parking lots that I can’t navigate safely. Besides, two weeks ago, I’d acquired ten balloons so I decided to hold off balloon purchasing for a while.
At the Acme, I took advantage of strategic sales on tomato sauce, and left the store sans balloons. Two days later, I headed to Staples to purchase CD envelopes, and that’s when the balloon decorations caught my eye. Multiple trees with huge latex balloons in rainbow colors sprouted in every aisle. Shiny ones, no less. I stopped to admire the balloons, paid for my purchase, and asked if I could buy a balloon. “No,” the cashier said, smiling, “these balloons are for our Columbus Day promotion sale.”
Hmmmm. I wonder if I should display balloon trees when I have a book signing.
Those shiny balloons made an indelible imprint in my mind. The next day at work, I briefed everyone on Staples and its balloons. Happily, my peer workers have a great sense of humor.
Yesterday, I went to Giant with a long list. Baking season is upon us with the holidays and Halloween coming. I was in a hurry to get through the shopping as I needed to get to the car repair shop before 5:30. So I moved fast. No time for balloons. Besides, it was bitterly cold outside, not the ideal weather for hauling balloons.
At the self-checkout, a Mylar green seahorse caught my eye. “No,” I told myself, “I’ve got no time.”
Still, a look at the seahorse wouldn’t take long. So I went behind the register to peek. Capital mistake. A dozen Halloween balloons leaped out from behind the seahorse, ambushing me. So much for my good intentions. One of them, a smiling pumpkin, made it into my cart. He’s in my living room now. After all that, I made it to the shop, and my car passed inspection.
It’s never too cold to buy balloons!

Mylar balloons and zombie fiction go well together for Barbara Custer

Forming an LLC requires close attention.

Parkinson’s Scorched Earth Policy

These lovely balloons came from the Giant.

These lovely balloons came from the Giant.

My home is a balloon forest. Balloon trees grow in every room. Throughout the day, Mike loves to admire the Mylar fruits that blossom on them. No one suspects at first glance that he is being haunted by a vampire called Parkinson’s disease.

I can’t recall when Mike’s war with Parkinson’s began, only that he became the prisoner. Back in 1996, when Mike received his diagnosis, his neurologist assured him the disease would not kill him. He went about his business earning his potatoes, hanging out with his buddies, never understanding until later about Parkinson’s scorched earth policy.

The docs have come up with a lot of magic drugs to fight off this vampire. Mike is allergic to most of them. He realized his relief in 2003 when the docs performed deep brain stimulation. They did this by implanting rods in his brain, and pacers, if you will, in his chest. These pacers cause the rods to release dopamine where it counts to stave off the motor symptoms.

Those who have read my chapter serial Dark Side of the Moon and related books may wonder why I got my idea for the Kryszka medical technology. This was one of my sources. Mike had his surgery for the left brain in 2001 and the right in 2003. We learned about the disease’s scorched earth policy after his second operation, when worsening fatigue forced him to miss more and more days at work. Finally, rather than lose benefits, he retired on disability, and that was when the disease whispered “scorched earth” for the first time.

The speech and swallowing difficulties came next. In 2005 his disease demanded that he take all liquids with thickener. On the heels of that came the loss of his license. Finally, as of the last year, problems with mobility and the health insurance quagmire. Somewhere behind the balloon trees you’ll find hand grips and the like, along with calculators and spreadsheets. Mike has been taking it all in stride, having done time in the Navy back in the 60’s.

I continued on with my day job and writing projects. Still do. My next book will in fact feature a protag who is fighting rheumatoid arthritis, another disease that practices the scorched earth policy, and at the same time, she must slay monsters to stay alive. You don’t know how strong you are until necessity demands it.

And so I carry on, but have been silent on a lot of my old authors’ forums. Some of my buddies have asked where I’ve been, and they ask about Mike.  I’m here to assure everyone NTD is doing well, and to thank everyone for their sentiments. But Mike could use some thoughts and prayers.

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