The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

July 9, 2010

Fake Plastic Fish on the road

Hi everybody.  Writing this post sucks.  But then, so do a lot of things in life.

I just wanted to let you know that I’ll be leaving tomorrow for a 2-week trip and may not blog much while I’m gone.   As many of you know, my parents have lived part-time in Hawaii for several years, and I’ve written about visiting them (and the plastic in Hawaii) more than once.

01/21/2008: Plastic in Paradise

01/23/2008:  Some Things About Hawaii That Have Little To Do With Plastic

01/16/2009:  Cutting Waste While Traveling: It’s Not So Hard

01/19/2009: Aloha! Plastic Tally from Hawaii and Visiting Sea Turtle Beach

08/18/2009:  Visiting a Plastic Paradise

Tomorrow, I leave to visit  my parents’ condo in Waikiki for the very last time.   My dad’s there now, selling all their furniture on Craigslist and cleaning up.  I’m going to help him finish.  My mom is with my sister in Maryland.  And my sister is just trying to hold everything together.

Alzheimer’s Disease runs through the women in our family.  First my grandmother.  Then, my mother.  My sisters and I wonder if it will reach out and grab us eventually.  Every morning I think about making each moment count and contributing to the world while I can.  My question: whether we’re worried about Alzheimer’s disease or getting hit by a speeding Hummer, is it enough to let go and just be?  I’d like to believe it is.  My meditation teacher says that it is.  And yet there’s this voice inside me, pushing me, urging me to do more, more, more with the time that I have.

So I’m grieving.  And planning a trip.  And grieving.  Packing.  Grieving.  Chatting on Facebook.  Grieving.  It’s all mixed together.  Mortality has trounced the denial that used to sustain me: other people get old and die, but not me.  Not the people I love.

Except that we do.

You know all that crap about how we’re just part of something bigger than ourselves?  Something we can’t comprehend? How all of our actions are just threads in a larger fabric we can’t see because we’re part of it?  I’m starting to suspect that it’s really true.

So here’s the thread for the next two weeks:  I’ll be in Hawaii helping my dad finish up.  Then, we’ll fly back to Oakland on Wednesday, pick up the car that he shipped back weeks ago, and drive across the country together to my parents’ home in Maryland.  I’m sad and happy.  Sad to say goodbye to Hawaii — to the annual visits, the music, and the warmth.  Happy to be spending some time alone with my father in a way that I never have before and may never be able to again.  I’m sad that my mom will never read the book that I’m writing and may not even remember who I am.  And I’m deeply grateful to my sister for taking care of her so well and being the one person in the family who is always there to help.

(Oh, and I’m especially glad I quit drinking last year because right now I’d be wasted.)

I’m not sure how much blogging I’ll be doing from the road, but I’ll probably post a few photos and rants because that’s just how I am.   I’m looking forward to meeting up this Sunday with the other Beth Terry, the motivational speaker who shares my name and occasionally comments on this blog.  (No, it’s not me talking to myself.)  Our paths will cross in Hawaii for just a few hours between my arrival and her departure.  Also looking forward to visiting my brother in Utah and seeing parts of the country I’ve only ever seen from an airplane.

One of my Facebook friends suggested I should visit Lehman’s general store in Ohio on the way across country, and after perusing all the plastic-free stuff on their web site this afternoon, I think I may have to.  Any other must-see’s along this route?  We don’t have much time to stop, but if there are things we shouldn’t miss from the road, please let me know!

Finally, I just want to thank everyone who has been so supportive of me personally.  Fake Plastic Fish is all about reducing plastic consumption and plastic waste, but it’s also a personal record of my journey, and  many of you have been very, very kind when I’ve had my little break downs here and there, especially sharing your own struggles and challenges.   Whoever says that the Internet separates people from one another doesn’t understand the connections that can be made.

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13 years ago

May you be blessed with the Love in RRRevolution.
I look forward to meeting you in SF late August.

Blessings, Tracey

Nana Sadie
13 years ago

Oh, Beth. There’s precious little I can say…so…

13 years ago

Wow. I had no idea this was all happening. Sending you many, many hugs.

13 years ago

Hi Beth – just caught up with your news and am sending lots of hugs from across the pond. Thinking of you. Take care lovely. K xxxxx

Beth D.
13 years ago

Enjoy the things in this trip that are worth enjoying and try not to remember all the rest. If you ever need advice or a friend to talk to, call the Alzheimer’s Association hotline. I used to volunteer there and made great connections with people who just needed an outlet. Just remember that we learn something new about Alzheimer’s every day, and don’t waste good times by worrying about what might happen! I love your blog and it has made me think about my choices in life, so if nothing else, you have made an impact on me :) Thanks!

13 years ago

I wish I had words of comfort for you. My grandmother has some type of dementia and it has been so hard on the family members as the person we know has disappeared.

I am glad that you have this time to spend with your father. I hope your cross-country journey goes smoothly.

13 years ago


I’m sorry to read you’re going through such a difficult time.

I’m glad that you’ve found some kind of comfort through your blogging, and I hope you and your father will have some great moments and create new memories on your trip, even though both of you will be grieving.

Mary Green
13 years ago

Hugs about your mom. I love your blog, its such an inspiration to be involved and contribute.

13 years ago

I’ll be thinking of you, Beth.
I’ve only done that route from Council Bluffs west, but if you’re dying of fried food by the time you hit Omaha, there’s a nice little coop there with all sorts of good fruits & veg, and the rest stops in Iowa have recycling containers (IIRC the ones in Nebraska and Colorado don’t).

Beth Terry (* The speaker, not author of FPF!)
13 years ago

Thanks for my glass straw!!

Beth Terry (* The speaker, not author of FPF!)
13 years ago

Beth – it was an absolute delight to meet you this morning. I think your Dad got a kick out of watching us bond. I feel like I’ve known you forever. Perhaps it’s from reading your blog, or maybe we are cut out of the same cloth.

Life is changing for you — it is EVER changing for us all. But you, my dear, have not made your last trip to Hawaii. Somewhere along the way I will dial you into the community there. Because you have been there visiting your parents, you haven’t met many of the people who need your message. I would hope I can make those connections for you.

It’s OK to grieve. We are all facing our mortality with a world and an economy that seems out of control. But after you grieve, use that energy to finish your book and enlarge your speaking contribution. I’d be delighted to connect with you on that and bring you into my world.

You have done so much, and you make a huge difference in the world. I am so happy we could make the breakfast happen this morning, and I look forward to many many more meeting.

Blessings to you on your journey east. We’ll Skype soon and plot the next iteration of this journey!

A hui hou (which means more than “till we meet again” — it means – “when we see each other again, all will be Pono (balanced and right))

Take care,
travel safely
and don’t forget to smell the plumeria!

13 years ago

Beth, Enjoy the trip with your father – what a wonderful gift for both of you. You’ll both need this time to talk. I am so sorry about your mother. That does not change anything, but it is important to know you and your family are not alone. Those of us who care for people with Alzheimer’s are part of a community no wants to join. Two years ago, I packed up three changes of clothes and moved back to the family home to take care of my mother, who has AD. My advice to you and your family is to read everything about Alzheimer’s you can get your hands on, go to support groups, and go to all the Alzheimer’s Association education available. Two very important books are “The Alzheimer’s Action Plan” and “Learning to speak Alzheimer’s”. I also recommend looking up “Validation Therapy” – it’s about reaching deep to meet the patient where they are at the moment. It’s a tough road – much love to you –

13 years ago

My heart goes out to you, it is sad indeed to get old. (((((((Beth)))))))))

13 years ago

I’ll be thinking of you, and your family, and especially your mother. Safe travels.

13 years ago

Beth, I think of paratroopers standing ready near the open door on a plane. They stand in a line and when the command is given (usually a tap on the shoulder), they jump. Nobody breaks into tears, they jump.

Our most amazing trait is that we live as if there was no possibility of the tap on the shoulder (that can come at any time). Courage is what we need because there is no alternative – begging to live? Paying every last dime to anyone offering a “cure”? To die is 100% natural and something we share with all life, though we spend most of our years denying this intimate mortal connection.

If I get to pondering death, I think of the millions upon millions of now nameless people who have gone before me. They did it, so can I. I, too, will be nameless. This starts me laughing! To think that such a grand and wonderful thing as ME will amount to not even a fleeting memory in years to come. Vanity gets put in its rightful place. To me, cemetaries are sad only because those who do not exist tried to go on with markers, names and memorials when time will erase it all.

My brother died at 11 of polio. My niece died at 17 in a car crash. So here I am at 60 years of age and I should shed even one tear that my life might end tomorrow? It’s outrageous!

We start, put on a brief show, and we end. So enjoy the day, smile at the clouds, breathe the air, notice the trees, avoid the plastic and most of all consider your relatives – the animals and plants – who never weep for themselves yet don’t have the fabulous consciousness that humans have, all of it undeserved. Have no regrets and appreciate the time you’ve had up until this moment instead of trembling that there will be no tomorrow. That there will be no tomorrow is the most certain thing we have. That we should try to demand tomorrow is our furthest departure from reality.

Don’t try to enjoy that cross-country trip – you will enjoy it as a great time with your dad. Keep on truckin’

13 years ago

Wow Beth, you’re covering a lot of ground on this trip, in a lot of different ways. I’ll be thinking of you — I have some of these family related dementia issues in my life. So let me progress to the in the moment stuff —
Re your trip — every year for the last 12 years we’ve driven this route and variations, NJ to Rockford IL to Omaha (now just NJ to Rockford). This will be the least dramatic part of your trip I predict.
If you stop in Omaha, I recommend “M pub” in the old city — mostly a restaurant although built around a bar — for what we considered some ofthe best food in town (may be a bit meat oriented).
There’s a weird town in the middle of Iowa off of I-80 that’s looks like it was preserved in amber from 1962. I think it’s Walnut Iowa, Iowa’s antique city, exit 46, 40 miles east of Omaha, many antique stores but the preserved main street is what got me when we were there about five years ago. A good leg stretch, not too far off the interstate.
Goshen IND – we crash here sometimes. Its about 10 miles off the road, a twisty way, but tends to be cheap. An old railroad town with many mennonite influences and interesting layout if you or your dad are into train history. There are interesting shops at the Old Bag Factory — quilting and furniture.
Every rest stop in Indiana sells South Bend Chocolates, some displays are bigger than others — order your preference and get it packaged in paper. Not as good as it used to be, but what is. I like dark chocolate covered dried cherries and coffee beans.
The new Ohio reststops are infinitely better than the old ones and have internet. Last time I went through the first rest stop was still an old one. Hold out if you plan to stop.
I’ve been to Lehman’s — it’s a cross being really cool off the grid, back to the kitchen stuff, and sheer tourist trip – including tons of plastic children’s toys, real iceboxes and modern refrigerators made to look like iceboxes. There are buggies in the parking lot, and candles shaped like pies, and everything in between. Very diverting but also frustrating on a number of fronts.
Too bad that you’ll be so close on the East coast and no chance to meet — I am minutes from Philadelphia.
Stay in the moment, I’ll think you find plenty to enjoy on this trip despite all the heavy duty stuff.

13 years ago

Beth, my heart goes out to you. I went through this a couple of years ago, when my father went through his final journey with Alzheimer’s. It’s a terrible disease, but we also had many moments of grace. We were fortunate that my father was happy and unaware of his situation, and we found him a nursing home where the staff treated him like family; in fact, the staff and the other patients became our extended family for that time. While I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, I also feel that I grew and learned a lot from the experience. My best wishes to you and your family, and know that you are not alone.

If I make one small suggestion, the book “Learning to Speak Alzheimer’s” was a big help to me in learning how to communicate with my father, and I highly recommend it.

13 years ago

Beth, if you do not object, I will be praying for you, that your travels are safe, your time with your father is all you hope for, and your mother remembers you, even for a moment! I am so glad you are who you are, doing what you do–you have influenced me personally through this website, and have inspired me not only to make healthier changes in our home living, but also to create homeschool lessons on plastics and alternatives and I am about to help my children write a short report of what we have learned to share with our family and friends, in which we come up with 5 easy but important ways our loved ones can make positive changes in their own lifestyles, for the better of their health and the planet’s. So, no, I don’t think your rise to plastic activism is an accident, in the grand scheme of things, and I hope it is reassuring to know that no matter what the future holds for you, you have already set into motion a legacy of thought and purposefulness that will last for many generations.

With love and thankfulness,


13 years ago

It’s a difficult trip you’re on, Beth, but as you say, some of it (spending alone-time with your father, especially) will be the stuff that makes important memories. I’m just over 60 and it’s amazing how fast it all happens, and how impossible it is to foresee. Breathe it all in and really feel it. This is life! (Don’t replace plastic with aluminum, anybody! And eat turmeric. And do puzzles. And have fun. And don’t forget that love makes the world go ’round!)


Condo Blues
13 years ago

Drive safely! For such a long road trip, it might be a good idea to bring a cooler with food/drinks in it. There are long stretches in PA that don’t have gas/food/lodging. From my experience, block ice lasts longer than cubed ice. I *think*you can buy block ice without a plastic bag.

Lehman’s is a very cool store. I’ve shopped there and I want to go back one of these days. They have lots of plastic free options.

Lisa @Retro Housewife Goes Green
13 years ago

So sorry you are dealing with this pain Beth! Try and enjoy the time with your dad and look for fun things like Lehman’s to do on your way so you can make more happy memories with you dad.

Have a safe trip and I hope you can find some joy in this sad time. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Myra Henderson
13 years ago


Be safe and enjoy the time with your dad and I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. We don’t get to decide how we grow old and I believe it tests us in how we react to it. Enjoy your mom while you are there and do something special for your sister. My thoughts are with you.

I really enjoy your blog and will be here when you return.


13 years ago

Hi Beth — I have no stops for you along the way (unless you wanted to see my family! They’re very nice, but very chatty; you might have a hard time getting away….). I just wanted to wish you a safe trip. Good luck!

Eleanor Sommer
13 years ago


My heart goes out to you. My mother has Alzheimer’s. My sister took her to New York City to live in an apartment next door with a 24/7 aide. I am leaving Florida tomorrow morning to drive to South Carolina to continue the de-accessioning process, so I know exactly what you are going through. Completely closing up a house is an incredibly difficult task–years of memories, plus the overwhelming amount of “stuff,” including plastic stuff, that has to go somewhere, some of it unfortunately to the landfill.

Alzheimer’s is frightening disease. And in our family there seems to be a maternal connection as well. My sister and I are trying to eat healthy, get a lot of exercise, and keep our brains active and challenged. We are also looking to our father’s mother who died at 96, and who was swimming and dancing days before she died. I’m hoping that I inherited some of those genes as well! I review her life often, and try to emulate it where possible.

Elizabeth B
13 years ago

Safe journey and thanks for all you share with us.

13 years ago

wishing you well!
and it’s crazy how things do connect in this world.
i have an affinity for hawaii and have visited and briefly lived there over this past winter. san francisco area is my other top choice…
i now live in ohio, but i am not familiar with lehman’s. i visited “amish country” many times growing up but have not been out that way in years. i think i need to change that here soon!
also my grandfather has alzheimer’s. i relate a bit to what you might be
experiencing with your mum. =/
take care..!

Anjanette Matsui-Rahn
13 years ago

Alzheimer’s runs on both sides of my family so I fully understand your fears. Crosswords and puzzles of all sorts are a hopefully helpful distraction for me!

I have to thank you for all your tips on living without plastic and although I haven’t been able to completely eliminate it from my life, I have seen a significant reduction. I recently went to Poland and made sure to bring my canvas bag along with a few to go containers (yes, they’re plastic, but I wasn’t consuming any more. People looked at me like I was crazy, but at least I was saving food from going into a landfill. Waste is waste!)

Be well, enjoy your time, and know that even though your mom may not know who you are all the time, every moment you have together must be cherished.


13 years ago

Hi Beth-

I can relate to your feelings of growing old and watching loved ones around you age… My sisters and I were putting together an album for my Mom’s 60th birthday (now delayed until Christmas) and I was looking at all the old photos of both my Mother and my Grandmother when they were both so young, vibrant and fashionable and now my Grandmother just celebrated her 90th birthday in May and my Mom just turned 60 and many people in the photos have long since passed away. Putting together that album was a good reminder to enjoy the moment and celebrate each day as each one of us will eventually grow old.

Anyway, I hope that you have a memorable cross country adventure with your Dad filled with many bonding moments! :) And I’m very sorry to hear about your Mom’s battle with Alzheimer’s.

13 years ago

Best wishes, Beth! Pick up something plastic on the beach in Waikiki for me. :)

Jude Hanlon
13 years ago

Beth, after my Nana suffered dementia in her 60/70s my mum worried constantly about inflicting it on us herself. She had a fatal heart attack in February of this year. You just never know – at best you can prepare for the possible paths, but I intend to just enjoy the journey the best I can (in a mindful manner…) jude

knutty knitter
13 years ago

Good luck with that! Inherited diseases are @#$%$#. I just got caught by one this year when I had a stroke (only minor fortunately). Live while you can because who knows about tomorrow. Enjoy your trip too despite everything.

viv in nz

surviving and thriving on pennies
13 years ago

Just remember Beth, we will all be here supporting you no matter what. It is you that brought this plastic crap to my attention and many thanks would not be enough. Go spend time with your family and dont worry about the site. We will all be waiting here when you get back. Enjoy your trip.

Rebecca The Greeniac
13 years ago

Safe travels Beth, and remember, now is the only reality there is.

Sandi Ratch
13 years ago

Thinking of you, Beth. I know we don’t know each other, but I truly hope your time with your father brings you closer together and that you have some smiles and good times along the way. Remember the good old days and create a few new ones. Dementia runs in the women in my family, so I understand your fears – and the trials ahead. I’m not sure it’s enough to get me to enjoy the moment all of the time, but it’s a good goal to try for. Even if you only do it part of the time.

Good luck – and hugs.


Chris Oxford
13 years ago

Beth, are you from Baltimore? I grew up there but left almost 40 years ago,

If I were you, I would definitely go to one or more of the markets: Lexington Market is the one that I am most familiar with. Although I haven’t been there is years, it appears that some of the ones I remember from childhood are still there: Mary Mervis deli has fantastic sandwiches; go to Berger’s for delicious cookies with huge dollops of chocolate on top; Rheb’s Chocolates are every bit as good as Godiva, maybe better, especially the chocolate truffles, vanilla and chocolate buttercreams! Rheb’s store, across from St. Agnes Hospital is closed for a couple weeks this month, but I’m not sure about the market store.

Even though your trip is being taken for not the most pleasant of reasons, try to relax and enjoy yourself. Your dad will appreciate your support and help, and your mom, although she may not understand what is going on, will appreciate seeing you. Have a good trip.

13 years ago

Have a safe trip Beth. We will all be thinking of you. Spend your days with your mother finding joy with her. Find what makes her happy and laugh and go with it. Sing, walk, talk and hold hands.

13 years ago

Safe Travels, Beth.

13 years ago

Thanks for your inspiring blog and good luck in Hawaii! I wish you well. p.s: Perhaps you have already heard that the incidence of Alzheimer’s is virtually non-existent in India and it is attributed to the use of turmeric in everyday cooking. Take care. I look forward to your return.

13 years ago

Sending love and wishes for a safe, meaningful journey.

13 years ago

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13 years ago

(((hugs))) to you.