How to Destroy

A Teaching Career

I’m a C-SPAN2 Book discussion from last September on Banned Books.

As I have written several blogs about my sudden firing from the Willamette Leadership Academy almost five years ago, I have to come up with my own reasons as to why a former teacher of the year and one of  the hardest workers  wasn’t going to have my contract renewed. It was sudden in my mind, but I’m thinking that the signs were there, but I failed to see them. I often prefer my own World and ignore reality. If I think someone doesn’t like me or has a problem with me, I tend to ignore this and pretend these feelings don’t exist.

But, as I listen to the panel of authors who discuss how their books have been challenged and banned in schools, I start to think about my last Film as Literature course. Color Purple is one of my favorite books. Not only is it a great book, but the movie is just as  outstanding, but the book and the movie are night and day.

My class was upperclass students, Juniors and Seniors, in high school. I asked for a class set, which was approved. I got a really good deal at Smith Family Bookstore for the Pulitzer Prize winning novel. I was  excited and had worked so hard on pulling together lesson plans.

Somehow the School Board President, a very conservative Christian, got wind of my kids reading Alice Walker’s book. All she had to do was read the first page of the novel to the Colonel, and all hands on board distress signal was given. By the time it subject  was brought to the board’s attention and they declared this book not worthy for this Public, but Charter school, we were just finishing up with the book. I was told I could never teacher  that book  again.

I was angry. In the five years that I had taught at WLA, the only perk, aside from the free uniform and cheap haircuts, I had one hundred percent control of what I taught. Now that a red flag was raised on my choice of literature, I was told that from now on, I would have to ask the  board’s permission.

I did not ask permission for the next book my kids were reading, but again they had already bought Fahrenheit 451, the banned book about burning books. I was pissed that I was getting censured especially when the middle schoolers during this same time were reading Hunger Games. It’s okay for young kids to read about kids killing kids, but Heaven forbid that an older student read about incest and coping with the situation.

I was extremely vocal about my frustration and probably vented a lot on Facebook. That is, after all, the main reason I was fired.

The irony about my losing my job when I lost it was I had been struggling with depression and was just getting a handle on the problem. As a result, I was probably the realest and truest with the students than ever before. I stopped hiding the fact that I was gay, but unless you are totally blind, it’s really hard to not make this guess. I was spending more time with the kids than grading I was refusing to take on all the extraneous meetings and fundraising that was eating up a lot of my personal time. I had spoiled the school by working eighty hours a week, but I thought it was the right thing to do at the time. The Friday evening after school benefit, after so many hours, or the all day Saturday to supervise cadets at a football game only added to my eighty hours. No, I won’t put together the school newsletter anymore.

It was my last year that I volunteered to run a credit recovery program that was a huge success and also time-consuming, but since kids were getting something out to it, It was worth it. I even took on the role of doing all class scheduling for all the high school kids that involved requesting and studying transcripts. Still time consuming, but also important to the student. We were such a small staff that we all had to pitch in. The second in-charge teacher, Major Cheney, had the task of mapping out all of the FTX schedules on top of her course load.

I guess my last blog in venting about WLA wasn’t my last. Maybe this one will be. Maybe. It is a very tender spot in my heart.

Zero to Hero day 11

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Day 11: Be a good neighbor — leave comments on three new blogs.

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p>What a strange coincidence. Today I spent the day at Firs Bowl, a bowling alley in Eugene, Bowling in an eight-game tournament. This tournament requires teams to bowl position rounds where first place bowls second, third bowls fourth, and so on. Calculations require time and in turn, I turned to responding to emails in between games.To make a short story long, I get a lot of emails regarding WordPress, and typically I don’t spend much time attending to them, but today I was drawn like a moth to the flame. I hadn’t even realized that my responding to the posts would be the assignment. How cool is that: to do an assignment before even knowing.

One of the sites I enjoyed was the ranting chef. I especially liked how he stirred in stories of his kids’ eating history along with recipes that caused my mouth to water.

Maggie Monday: Scallops and Shrimp Casserole

 

Being a tangential person, often times one blog will lead me to another blog and that will lead me to another. I came across this one that demonstrated evocative and creative writing. 

 

 

http://cylithria.me/

 

I have always had a fondness for photography, and this blogger, Sonya Lira Photography, has recently earned a few awards, like the Sunshine Award. 

 

http://sonyaliraphotography.com/author/captureyouphotography/

Image

 

 

 

 

Garden Calls

IMG_7574I know that there are certain things in the garden I should not do. Squatting. Bending. Kneeling. But sitting on my butt for long periods of time isn’t good for my knee either.

IMG_7582Just being out in the garden is great therapy. Watching it grow and develop. s

IMG_7576It had been a couple of weeks since I last fertilized, and I could at least do a couple of beds, trimming away dead leaves and flowers. I’m so grateful to Sylvia for putting in so many raised beds.  Weeding them is so much easier than the plants I have in the ground, like the peas.

IMG_7589While visiting with my garden, I discovered my arch nemesis, the Western Spotted Cucumber Beetle. I hate these things more than almost anything. I didn’t manage to squish the outside, but after a bit of prodding with a piece of grass, IIMG_7588 did get the inner beetle to come out far enough for me to grab the little bugger. Yes, I felt a sense of satisfaction in squishing it.

The first sunflower of the year opened up today. I never tire of taking pictures of my  favorite flower.

IMG_7609On my  way back from the garden, Ricky brought me his Frisbee. How can I say no to him?

 

Doing Too Much

Tuesday morning my knee was complaining. Short painful bursts of pain right below my kneecap told me that I had been doing too much. I told my physical therapist and Laura asked me what I had been doing in the garden over the weekend, though the question was rather rhetorical as she replied before I got my answer out, “Whatever you are doing, stop.”

I didn’t garden at all yesterday. I watered it, but my knee can tolerate walking and standing. It’s the crouching, bending, stooping, and apparently swinging a pick axe are things my knee doesn’t like.

I didn’t garden yesterday. Does that mean I can garden today? Instead of walking in the direction of the garden, I walked to the mailbox to get the paper. No major knee complaints, but it also wasn’t without grumbles. IMG_7561I had brought my camera for the short walk as there’s always something to photograph.

IMG_7558Have I mentioned that Sylvia is building me a Little Library? I just registered with the Little Library dot org folks. Maybe it will be up and running in a week or two.

BRING is an excellent place to shop for building supplies. Sylvia spotted the small glass doors, well-framed, and designed the library around them. Yesterday we returned to BRING to get paint and a couple of posts.

IMG_7562In closer inspection of the area that I want to put the library, there’s more clearing than expected. Not only is there more to clear, but there’s a lot of poison oak. IMG_7560

I imagine down the road, there could be a bench or two and perhaps some cover to allow a place to duck out from the rain and look at a book or two. How much down the road, I’m not sure.

IMG_7572Meanwhile, I had a nice short jaunt to the mailbox and back home, and even had a chance to practice photography.

 

 

Grabbing the Reader By The

Grabbing Readers by the eyes. Sounds painful. Metaphorically speaking, I want to write blogs that will cause readers to choose my blog over other blogs. I need more readers. I want more readers. Needing is such a subjective thing. I’m not quite desperate, to allow my want to cause me to quit blogging; but I think how much more I would write if I just had a little bit more wind in my sail. For now, blowing up my own skirt will have to suffice as motivation to write.

Could I blame lack of viewing numbers on Blog page? The Window Display lacks presence. There’s nothing on my WordPress Home Page that will cause readings to Ooh and Ahh and extend their window shopping to actually entering the site. My blog page is a mess, a disaster.  It has gone from merely unraveling to disintegrated.

When I first put it together, I followed WordPress steps and managed to put together a good-looking site, or at least I thought. There was always something that I could do to improve it. And then something messed it up. I must have tried to change something, causing menus to disappear and blogs, that I liked alright, but they dominated my page like that was all  I have written.

I ignored it for a long time, but the other day, I rolled up my sleeves and dug right in. Now it’s worse than a disaster.

I signed up for a two-week WordPress course. Not only do I hope to have my WordPress blog back to being user-friendly, but perhaps I can generate more views, and especially more comments. This is not a case of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Something must change about my writing and my topic. Competition is fierce out there and the element of time is not on my side.

The first topic of the WordPress course is tags. I’ve not always used tags. I ought to look at whether the posts that get the most views are the ones that I use tags. Can I use too many tags? For example, can I really use the tag disaster to describe the state of my blog or will that upset people who are looking for tornadoes and tsunamis?

Is there a difference between hashtags, #tags, and the tags that WordPress uses? are hashtags a Twitter thing?

This is where my small handful of readers comes in. I need you to tell me what I am doing wrong or right? Often times I write off-the-cuff, stream-of-consciousness, and don’t edit it. Maybe there are typos or sentence construction things that get in the way of my message? Maybe my message is muddy beyond comprehension and you’d like to see the fish in the pond more than murk. Maybe it’s the tangents that I go off and never really stick to one subject. Some people want to stick to one rabbit hole and not a dozen or so. Maybe it is the subject matter. I did notice that when I wrote about the zucchini taking over the world, I did get more views. Maybe I’m flat-out boring. That’s always a possibility, though I tend to push those thoughts to the corners of my mind to collect dust.

I’d love it if more than Bex could comment on this blog…

Holding onto New Habits

Has it been merely a week since I started listening to my body to create a new routine of getting up early in the morning?

I tend to be a rule maker, though rules aren’t that hard for me to break either.

Rule number one: If it’s light out, it’s probably a good time to get out of bed. All good rules have exceptions. Five is too early. Six is early and impressive. Seven works. Eight is now considered late.

Rule number two: Don’t look at a clock until after getting out of bed. Since my only clock is my phone, there’s no way of merely glancing at the time; I have to work at seeing what time it is.

Rule number three: No going back to bed. I am notorious for going back to sleep a few times before finally getting out of bed, and this is one bad habit I want to nip in the bud.

I only broke rule number two this morning. It was 6:07 a.m., and instead of jumping out of bed enthusiastically, I pulled the covers over me.

Forty-five minutes of lounging in bed. Not a horrible thing to have done, not even a bad thing, unless one is trying to train oneself better habits. I know it doesn’t take much on the slippery slope for me to return to habits of old.

Good habits are always harder for me to keep than bad habits. At least once I decide a bad habit no longer serves me, I’m rather good about breaking those as well.

IMG_7535My garden was happy to see me this morning, like an old friend.

IMG_7548Every morning, I come out to the garden armed with cameras,  a pick axe, and loppers. First I appreciate the  areas where I have worked, and then I look at the task at hand. The work to do always seems to outweigh the work done.

The summer is moving along at a fast clip; it always does. The stages of flowers that have come and gone reflect how quickly seasons move.

It wasn’t that long ago that I was excited to see the first crocus. Yes, we have survived another winter. Daffodils make their presence felt. IMG_7202This little blue flower on a large bush that’s taken over a hillside outside is like a freeway for things that buzz. But by now, they are gone.

IMG_7359This flower belonging to another plant that has taken over, is barely holding on as the  intensity of the sun increases.

We’ve only had one scalding day so far this summer, though August is notorious for sweltering temperatures. One of these Augusts we just may have to get an air conditioner.

IMG_7527This morning, there were quite a few squash flowers open extra wide. I was rather surprised that a slug was in one of the flowers and promptly dug it out and tossed it out IMG_7546of the garden and into the blackberries. This particular zucchini is producing squash at an alarming rate. At least I only planted one Zuke plant, though I can’t say the volunteer squash plants aren’t going to be zucchini.

As I weeded this morning, I uncovered two new volunteers: a squash and a tomato.

Speaking of weeding, I better get back to it.IMG_7554

 

Low Battery

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This morning, I  started snapping photos with my Canon. Looking at the various opportunities to get some work in. Who needs a gym when one has a garden?

IMG_7476I hadn’t noticed the blinking bar, signaling the end of the Canon’s battery until it refused to take a picture; probably was the best one in the bunch.

IMG_7477Fine. I have work to do anyway. I  was ready to take a break from clearing around the herb beds and tackle something new.

IMG_7507Last night as I weeded the beans and giving them some string to climb on, I could barely get to the bed because of encroaching weeds, especially thistle and blackberries. That became today’s goal.

20170716_083253then my own battery failed. I probably wasn’t out there more than a half an hour when my body said, “I’ve finished one side of a bed. It’s time for a break.” I needed to get the Canon battery recharged and there’s really no reason to push myself. Listen to my body, especially my knee and my back, and don’t give it any reason to scream at me. Also gives me a reason to write.

20170716_083204My early morning rise challenge continues.  Yesterday I was up at 6:15 a.m. This morning, an hour later; I blame the four a.m. bathroom excursion for today’s late rise. But still,  this is coming from a person who typically gets up at ten.

20170715_074415Break is over. Time to get some work done.

The Squash are Coming!

Squash shall inherit the earth. Has there been a book about  Squash squashing humanity? Getting revenge. They could one of these decades consume us when we are least expecting an attack. Maybe not in my lifetime, but soon.

Imagine confronting a monster zucchini, and it saying, in a low, gravelly voice, “So, you think you can turn us into bread? We’ll see about that!”  That is your fate. The sautéing fry pan is pointed in the other direction

Could happen. Godzilla-like green squash. Sneak attack. Blind-sided.

Think about how tricky squash can be. They master in creating thick and dense jungles. I have experienced getting lost in my own garden because of the squash plants. I almost need a beacon, those things that people use when lost in an avalanche. Large foliage towers over me by August. Woman Lost In Her Own Garden will be the headline when I disappear.

Squash multiply like bunnies. You see one squash, and before you know it, it takes a few arm fulls to haul them all out.

But the scariest thing about squash, especially zucchini, is  their steriod-like growth. Every year I get startled by a zuke. Catches me off-guard. Never saw it coming kind of thing.

So often I would find a baseball bat-size zuke, yet the day before there wasn’t even the start of the veggie. That is scary fast.

Now imagine a juiced-up zuke. DNA sequences that causes exponentially faster growth. Before you know it, on squash can feed an entire neighborhood. We would eliminate hunger. Unless the squash gets us first.

Hopefully,  I don’t have any of those in my garden this year.

Last Night’s Softball Game

20170713_190205It’s very hard to be on the sidelines and not be in the game; it’s easier to ignore it and pretend 20170713_185251_001the softball season isn’t 20170713_185816upon us. Last night I felt the pull to be there, to support my teammates. Joyce Watts did an incredible job pitching, though it helped that some of the batters she opposed looked 20170713_185852like they were swatting flies with the bat instead of the softball. This was not the  case with Becky Bailey and her bat. Every since our Soromundi  Lesbian concert, I will forever see Becky wearing a tail.

224421_10150257851325547_6573541_nI brought Abby to the game; it had been years since she has been able to accompany me. I told Abby while we were in the Subaru, as I fastened the leash, she could not pull me. That little discussion didn’t work, though I didn’t expect it to. Inch by inch we walked. My leg would not survive a good pull from this almost sixty-pound Labrador. We were doing 20170714_075419well until she spotted a little white terrier-type dog. Short lead. Lots of positives to counteract the negatives. She’s always so pleased with herself when she sits on 20170713_190011command. It is almost as if she is thinking, “Finally, these are words you speak that I can understand.”

20170713_190235If a game ball were to be handed out, Joyce should have gotten it for her prowess on the mound as well as at the dish.

Seeing my number on the back of another was hard. I wonder if the number 34 is being used…

Morning Rising

Four days of getting out of bed before seven does not make a habit, especially when I spent the majority of fifty-seven years avoiding early mornings unless I was staying up all night.

Yesterday I could feel the momentum  start to slip away, getting up just barely before eight felt like a set back. Even though I had to get up twice in the middle of the night to pee, not usual for me, isn’t a good excuse.

Today’s chilly morning greeted me, but circumstances caused my mind and my heart and my body to get into an argument as to whether I ought to get up or not. It was day light. The neighbor’s rooster and chickens were greeting the morning. Lots of gardening to be done. But, I had a Ying Cat curled up around me on one side, a Ricky Dog wanting belly rubs, our morning ritual, and Abby’s intense laser-like stare, telling me it is breakfast time.

I didn’t want to get up. I even closed my eyes to shut out the day and pretend it was still dark out. Didn’t help that my back started to complain. I hadn’t even given my knee a chance to chime in.

I finally pushed through and got up to Ying’s dismay. I hadn’t looked at the clock to know whether I was “late” or not, and I was happy to see that it was only 6:45.

Automatic routines haven’t settled. I have to tell me myself each step, except for pee, dress, make coffee and feed the dogs.

Before knee exercises, I walked around to loosen my back. At least with the list of a dozen or so exercises, I can take advantage of sitting. Constantly working on  range of motion. Just sliding my heel to get my knee to bend is a test.

It took some work just to get myself onto the ground. Sometimes I don’t remember to take my glasses off and they end up with dog slobber on them. My reward for doing my straight leg raises and my Prone Hip Extensions.

This routine is helping me become better at giving the dogs their pills as well as take my own.

20170714_080542Even with my sloth-like moving this morning, I was still moving in the right direction and the garden greeted me with such a sweet smile of sunshine. I have fallen in love with morning sounds. Peeps of Wild Turkey chicks looking for their Pea Mom. I’m thinking that the Tom is long gone, having no more use of Pea or Chicks, but I don’t really know. I never see them in the yard.

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The task at hand in the garden immediately overwhelmed me. Think small. Thing manageable. Think don’t over do it.

I couldn’t bear to dig up all of the mint, though I know it will never go away; the root system is too intricate for my pick axe. Also gave me a reason to stop and take a picture, not that I need much of an excuse to take pictures.20170714_082114

Work. Take a picture. Work some more. And then stop and share my pictures and write. This is a routine I could live with.20170714_081055

 

Knowing when to quit

IMG_7462This blackberry root took all my oomph away and I knew I had to quit, especially since I have physical therapy less than an hour. Since I didn’t get all of the branches, the blackberry will come up again.

Ying  was happy that I stopped working; she loves having her picture taken; I must have snapped ten or so.

IMG_7463Ricky doesn’t mind having his picture taken either. See those wonderful ears? I call them angel wings; when he arrived, he was my angel to set my life right again.

IMG_7445I have made progress with this unruly mess in the garden, but so much waits for my return.

Work Hard, Break Often

IMG_7412My garden and property has gotten out of control. If I worked nonstop, I’d still barely put a dent in all that “needs” to be done.

IMG_7405Some areas need more attention than others. If I don’t attend to the blackberries around the steps, I won’t be able to pass.

IMG_7415Other nagging things to do will help the health of trees, such as the fig tree that’s not been weeded in some time. The figs are growing regardless.

But there’s so much more to do than work around the property. Ying and Lucy remind me often that they need attention, that just following me around the property, isn’t enough.

I make time for Frisbee throws or just watching a game of tug-a-war.

IMG_7413Break time is over. Back to the garden.

 

 

Small goals

IMG_7370In my attempt to create routines that not only motivate me, but sustains me to keep pushing forward, I create small goals. In the garden, I may pick an area that needs attention.

Unfortunately, I’m working on a large and overwhelming level. I tried imagining small areas with that area; I needed something small and manageable. I needed quick success. I opted to set the bar  at digging up ten thistle.

Turns out, that it didn’t take long as thistles are plentiful and these were rather young and not as barbed and roots weren’t as deep. Most importantly, my knee wasn’t complaining at all. I dug up ten more and it was time for a break.

IMG_7374I had brought out my bigger camera, my Cannon, and took similar pictures to see how different they would be compared to my Samsung Camera.

I sure wish I had access to this technology when I was a kid. I loved taking pictures with my first camera, some sort of point and shoot and get the film developed after a week or two wait. Now I can take hundreds of pictures in search of that perfect shot.

I notice more things when I’m looking through the camera lens. Throughout my cutting down thistle and other weeds, I’ve noticed orange beetles. IMG_7389I’m thinking that they are not lady bugs, but every time I came upon one, I would move it from the plant I was about to IMG_7393chop down. There were so many orange ladybugs on this plant that I opted to leave it standing for the time being.

I was wrong about the orange beetles not being ladybugs. There are over six thousand different species of the Coccinellids. If I stopped long enough to count their spots, I could categorize the ladybugs.

IMG_7377enjoy noticing things in my garden that I hadn’t noticed before. Maybe I ought to harvest the seeds from this blue flowering plant.

IMG_7402Being in the right spot with my camera at the right time is what my life is about. In six or  seven years, I’ll look fondly at the picture of my pack of 2017 and marvel at what wonderful dogs I had.

Mornings in my Garden

So far it hasn’t been hard to get up shortly after waking up. I no longer look at my cell phone to see the time while I’m still in bed. If it is light out, I get up. Yesterday I was up before six thirty. Perhaps even earlier.

This morning, my brain swirled with possibilities. My knee had been doing some complaining. Perhaps I need a day off from the garden. I deserve it don’t ? I could work on the house. After a short barrage of mental conversations, I got up. It was before seven o’clock. Making my goal even in lieu of the debate helped inspire me for the day.

Went through all of my routine from critter feeding to pill-taking. Everything but the eating part. At some point today I need to get blood drawn for a future doctor’s appointment. Is my cholesterol high?

The chill in the air motivated me to grab a sweatshirt and a flannel shirt and head out into the garden. Turns out my knee was complaining about being in bed and wanted to get out and stretch a bit. Sometimes it takes a bit to get the joints moving; they have to creak and pop. Ever since my fall in April, my right foot makes a popping noise bearing weight after a spell of not walking. It’s like the little bones had moved and have to move back into place.

Laura, my physical therapist, says I need better shoes; that both of my feet cave in. I hadn’t noticed my right one doing that before the fall, and hadn’t noticed the left foot doing it at all until Laura pointed it out to me.

Slowly, but surely I walked out in the garden. Coffee in hand. Different birds sing early in the morning. The sun isn’t pounding down upon me. I enjoy seeing the gentle sun rays splash down upon the garden. Even the  weeds look beautiful.

My routine of  working in the garden for short spurts, interspersing that time with taking pictures and writing, seems to be working.

20170712_092206As the hours pass, the temperature starts to rise and the layers come off until I’m in shorts and a T-shirt. Soon it will be too hot to work in the garden and I’ll have to transition into other activities like writing and reading, though the house screams for attention. Today just might be the day for that. But for now, it’s back to the garden….20170712_092235

Texture of my Garden

IMG_6083I spend my summers fighting the garden area. Neglect during the later fall and winter months almost gives my ownership away. Blackberries, thistle, and grass take over. Little by little, I take the land back. Maybe January’s snow somehow intensified their root systems.

1499781840345Yesterday I could barely get to my herb beds. Good thing they are waist-high; anything shorter and they would have been consumed by the blackberry vines.

1499783399374I cut, chopped, and pick-axed my way to the fence. Very slow battle. My knee tells me that it’s not up to speed quite yet and that I need to take it easy. My knee knows what it can and 20170708_114807can’t do. So I pause and enjoy the weeds that I’m about to cut down. Queen Anne’s Lace. Not the best picture, but I love the intricacy of the flowers. Daucus carota. I didn’t know that Queen Anne was a expert lace creator. Sometimes I leave the Daucus carota, weeding around the wild carrot, but when it is in entrenched with 20170712_081757blackberries and thistles, it’s easier on the weeder to attack every inch. My break is over and it’s time to take up arms and fight another battle in this never-ending war.

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Session Four of Physical Therapy

Knee progress is at a standstill. I walk tentatively as I don’t know which step or what movement will cause a twinge. The twinges haven’t gone away, and they grab when I least expect it.20170711_202337_001

It looks swollen. It’s really hard to say when I have fat knees. Sure won’t be nominating my knees as my best body part.

I’m starting to think that an August 1st target for bowling isn’t a good idea. But who knows. Perhaps if I work hard enough, I’ll be on the lanes.

I always start PT on this machine, the NuStep. Graduated to 20170711_120056workload level 5 today. Fifteen minutes feels a lot longer while working. Perhaps if there was music in the background. I ought to bring headphones.20170711_123728

Laura worked me hard, introducing fun machines. When my feet were on a wobble board, that was a lot of fun!

My list of exercises increases every visit:

SLRStraight Leg Raise. I’m supposed to do this three times a week. Maybe tomorrow I’ll get that third round in.

Knee extension stretch, which shouldn’t even be included in an exercise list.

Anything that requires knee bends is what causes my knee to talk back. Heel Slides pushheel-slides the limit. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to not hit that “Ooh, that didn’t feel so good.” I don’t know how far to bend my knee until my knee tells me flat out that it won’t go there..

At least this is my experience; it doesn’t help that I tend to push a little beyond that first moment when my knee is talking back to me. It’s like I’m having an argument with my own body.

Well, writing about my exercises isn’t going to get them done, so I better get to it.

Too Many Tomatoes?

IMG_7265I started to keep an inventory of what I planted in the garden. By June 21st, my tomatoes IMG_7272: Big Boy, Cherokee, Roma, Legend, Chocolate cherry, Sungold cherry, and  Big Beef.

Since then, I have introduced fifteen different tomatoes into the foray. I do believe this is a lower count than last year. This does not count the dozen or so volunteer tomatoes; some volunteers are big enough that may just produce before the first frost.

IMG_727320170706_201508I’ve already been nibbling on the Sungold cherry tomatoes; cherry tomatoes hardly ever make it into the house, though last year towards the end of the season, I was bringing them in by the ton; many are still in the basement freezer.

IMG_7267I’m familiar with most of the tomatoes in my garden. Super Fantastic are fantastic.IMG_7273 But my compulsion draws me to plant different kinds, and am introduced to the unfamiliar. Principe Borghese Drying Cherry Tomato. Sounds French. Maybe it’s been modified to have less juice, perhaps.

What’s Going On?

Was it just yesterday that I wrote about creating a tighter schedule/routine in my life and that I’d have to break some bad habits and develop the good ones?

One of the hardest habit to break is the “Don’t Go Back to Bed” habit. Go back to bed. Go back to sleep. Not that there’s anything wrong with lounging in bed, but it is really hard for me to get much done. I’d try reading, but I knew that would just send me back to sleep. Dreaming can be productive, but only if I train myself to catch them.

But in this new phase I am in, I want to get up when I wake up, and as long as it is light out, I want to bolt out of bed. My knee won’t quite allow the bolting just yet, but we’re getting there.

I feel as though my body has been inhabited with an alien. What have you done with Susan? It doesn’t feel real. Maybe in order to get my own routine in place, like Ducks in a row, I may have to shake the snow globe up and see where things land.

I have heard and read about how we all have an internal body clock. Potentially, I could wake up exactly at the same time.  That’s a lot of training. I wonder how far I could get this summer.

And who knows what my body will want to do in the winter. Just because I’m up and Atom shortly after the crack of dawn, it doesn’t mean my body won’t want to do some hibernating come cold days. Noon might be more like it then. But maybe not. Maybe I’ve been an early morning person all this time masquerading as a night owl.

Second morning of demanding I eat breakfast. I noticed I snacked more during the day. I also noticed I slept more, though not while snacking.

I better get to the exercises so I can get into the garden. I don’t want the early bird to get my blueberries. Yesterday I interrupted a Flicker from eating something in the garden.

Creature of Habit

I have been told over and over that in order to succeed in writing, or anything for that matter, routines and rituals are critical.

You can drag me to the watering hole, but you ain’t gonna be able to make me drink. Even if I know it is good for me, essential for health and quality of life. Isn’t that the purpose of life: to stimulate growth and aspirations to achieve happiness?

Creating healthy habits is my top goal for this summer. I have had my share of bad habits. Everyone in my family smoked cigarettes,  so I started smoking, stealing my Father’s Pal Mal’s from his Dresser as he slept. I worked hard at this habit as my body fought against the toxins, making me nauseous and light headed, but I kept persevering, building tolerance.

I quit smoking back in the eighties. I don’t remember what motivated me to stop. It just was time.

Just as it is time to develop routines and positive habits. 

Eugene summer early mornings can’t be beat.  Cool temperatures. Lots of birds singing. Typically, Ricky asks for belly rubs before I get out of bed.  Slow-motion dog kisses reward my effort.

After my mad dash to the bathroom, I take time to lubricate my mind, allowing intentions and ideas of what could happen as the day unfolds. What section of the garden will I focus on? What will I write about?

While my coffee repeats, I gingerly go down the stairs to the animal room. I now always make sure that Abby The Labby Number Nine goes first. Ricky tends to wait at the top of the stairs, monitoring my progress.

After I feed the dogs and cats, I make a point to feed myself. All those people who say breakfast is the most important meal of the day can’t be wrong, can they?

First round of exercises. I have been doing them, but I could be doing them more often. Great habit to create. I did my leg lifts, the clam shells, and so on.

Once I got going, all of this didn’t take much time and still made it out to the garden while the morning was young.

To combat a sense of overwhelming futility, I focused on one spot. I rewarded myself and paused a couple of times to write emails and post pictures of progress.
Two hours and my task was finished. Next on the list of things to do on a daily basis is write, hence this blog. I tell myself that it doesn’t matter if not many people read this and even less respond. If I want to get better at writing, I have to do more of it.

Since the temperature is only in the middle sixties,  it is time to head back into the garden.
Do you live a structured life with routines embedded in your daily life? If so, what are they?

Doe A Deer

Evening had come and the heat of the day had finally reversed direction.As I headed toward the garden,  I noticed the doe. She has been coming around quite often lately, but I hadn’t ever seen her lounging in the dirt pile, the dogs’ favorite romping area.

I managed to take a few pictures before she slowly got up. Ricky and Abby The Labby Number Nine hadn’t seen the deer.

I told Abby to sit, continuing to take photos as I kept an eye on the dogs.  I didn’t think Ricky would give chase after his recent run-in with a deer, probably the same one in the yard, the same one that played with Abby after scaring Ricky.

The three of us watched her get up and in slow motion steps start to walk away and then shift into swift bounding steps.

Saying Things That I ought Not Say

Being the youngest of a sarcastic family of six, I learned the art of speaking with the pure intention of being funny, regardless of the biting effects. All synapsis firing targeted quit-wit. Sarcasm became a way of life.

My main problem with this lifestyle is saying offensive comments. Without realizing what I had done or said, I’d lose a friend. It happened more than once where a friend would just stop speaking to me. I’d never be told my crime.

I’ll never forget Kelly Dawson. We were thick like thieves, and then we weren’t. Overnight frost froze our communication. I asked her sister. Right before Kelly stopped speaking to me, she witnessed me ride my bike in front of a car. Knocked me out. They hadn’t invented Concussion protocol back in 1972.

I’m sure that hitting my head on a hood of a car and then pavement did my brain any good. I could blame this on the way my mind works, but why bother since I still have to be responsible for the things I say and do.

Blame it on the fact that I’m not much of a people person. Socially awkward is putting things nicely. I’ve heard friends tell people, “Don’t worry, that’s just Sue being Sue.” Please allow for her foibles. Don’t take what she says seriously. People put up with me.

Last night I saw a pair of friends that I only see two to three times a year. For the past year when I see them, I’m reminded of probably the worst blunders I have ever committed. I apologized. I felt bad. I had confused sons of friends involved in a tragedy. I don’t have the slightest idea why I said what I said. Nervous chatter is my only explanation. Fill up the airwaves. Maybe one of these days I can stop kicking myself in the butt.

I remind myself that I am a work in progress. It took me a long time to take control of my sarcasm, though every so often the monster’s head pops up, especially when I am tired or sick. I have gotten better at speaking with intention and an editor at the door. Sometimes this means I don’t say much. That’s okay.

It Is  Rough Path to Hoe

I have been avoiding the corn patch. Worked on a few rows, but it was hard on my knee and my mind. The grass with their long, twisting, and barbed roots are impossible. A never-ending task.

Sunflower plant keeps this tiny corn company
One corn plant at a time. Some are so desperate for attention and are so small that they could be misconstrued for the evil grass.

It took me close to two hours to finish the corn. Even with a break or two, I almost quit. My knee wasn’t complaining or giving me an out.


Yang Day

I was in the basement looking for the book My Secret Garden. Someone mentioned it on Facebook, and I can’t remember if I have read it or not. I would be surprised if I don’t have it, but I have so many books not shelved, not in their proper alphabetical spot, that I couldn’t locate it. Yang Cat was talking to me as I started sorting books. This was not a task on my list of things to do for the day, but it’s rather cool in the basement and Yang was talking to me.

She talked to me from behind the television for a bit. She talked to me from the floor in front of the kitchenette as if to tell me that her food dish was empty. I just filled it. She just needed to jump up on the counter and see. Maybe she had done that a few times and didn’t want to make the effort to only find emptiness.

I’ve not been able to climb stairs very well since knee surgery sixteen days ago. As a result, most of my stair-climbing has been going up to the loft, not down to the basement.

Today Yang gave me an earful on how much she’s been neglected. She was so mad that she refused to come near me. From afar, she meowed. I tried coaxing her to me, but she wouldn’t have anything to do with me. I went upstairs. And she continued to meow. This is very rare, for her to meow while I’m upstairs. I meowed back.

I don’t know who started it, but a short while ago, two cats tangled. I suppose it could have been all three, as none of my cats like each other. Yang especially doesn’t like her sister Ying. It was time to go back down to make sure no felines were hurt in the skirmish.

WIN_20170708_15_28_19_ProIt took a bit to get Yang to jump on my lap. She’s been sitting with me long enough that I’ve got a lot of calico fur on my keyboard. It took her a while to settle down as she was constantly rubbing against my hands, my face.

WIN_20170708_15_27_04_ProI may be here a while as she’s finally settled and is taking with her steady purr rather than meows.

Writing Fiction

It took me a few years to get a journaling routine going. Now I’ve got oodles and oodles of pages documenting the past thirty or so years. The advent of email has helped bolster the count as I stick in every email that I reply to. It’s kind of cool in being able to look back at what I was doing on this day.

Five year ago I started blogging WordPress and have published 543 blogs and have a fistful stuck in a draft folder.

I enjoy writing fiction, but I don’t write often and when I do, stories, mostly parts of stories also get stuck in a folder; the older ones are in a physical folder; the new ones in an electronic folder.

Why not incorporate fiction into my blog? I’ve tried to create a separate blog in the past, but it didn’t get any hits, not that this blog gets very many, but maybe it’s worth a  try. Maybe, just maybe it will motivate me to seek out publishing. After thirty-something years of writing almost every day, I might just be ready to find out it I have what it takes.

What do you think? And what do you think about helping me? Would you be willing to critique my work and tell me what works and what doesn’t work? I’m more than willing to edit.

Summer Routines

In the summer, I become an early riser. Gardening in the cool morning is so much easier.

And man do I have a lot of work to do. Normally, it is a constant task, but since hurting my knee last April 21st, I am behind schedule. Before surgery I did what I could. And now after surgery, I am trying to do what I can without causing any set backs.

This morning I thought I had taken a step or two back

 A twinge here and there caused me to pause. I slowly made it to the garden with coffee cup in hand. Once I got there, my knee stopped complaining, allowing me to start weeding. 

Instead of taking on the corn, a monumental task, I thought the onions would be easy. Trying to get the grass, especially the long and twisting roots, caused me to dig up onions, which then required replanting.
Two hours later, my knee was ready for Rest and Elevation.
I have discovered at least a half dozen tomato volunteers intermingling with my onions. One even has flowers.
As I left the garden I noticed Lucy near a dirt pile. Looks like she had fun rolling.
It is only 65° so I better get back into the garden.

Writing Keeps Me On My Butt

I can walk without crutches, but my physical therapist doesn’t like my gait. Maybe I walked like I just got off a horse before surgery. I do feel a slight hitch in my giddy up, but not enough to warrant crutches.

Dropping the crutches allowed me to pick up the car keys. I missed my Mini Cooper. I almost took the dogs for a car ride, but the sun had come out and it wouldn’t have been comfortable for them when I stopped for my hour long physical therapy.

Because I didn’t have the dogs, I did some errands. 

Got a hair cut. A friend cut it last weekend, but as it turned out, I wanted it a bit shorter. It is very short.

I had picked some potatoes from the garden and imagined mushrooms going well with them. Salmon looked really good, so I threw that in my Albertsons grocery cart.
I managed to just cruise the candy Isle, looking at chocolate. I even resisted temptation with one bag by putting it back on the shelf.

I did come away with snack food. Black Bing Cherries. Peaches. Nectarines. Bananas. Sunflower Seeds.

I was off my feet for about a half an hour before I was up and scrounging for food to go with the potatoes, 

salmon, and mushrooms. Came out with peas, spinach, onion, basil, and other herbs.

Did I mention that I had an hour of physical therapy? I also had gardened for a couple of hours this morning, so my knee is enjoying being on the couch.

More Physical Therapy

20170707_115714Third round of physical therapy. I had to say hello to Mattie, especially since she is celebrating her 12th birthday.

20170707_115752She was snoozing so soundly that she didn’t know I was there until I stroked her head.

I knew I had fifteen minutes on a machine, so I started before my therapist was in the picture. (Took a picture, but I can’t find it.

Turns out I have lousy ankles that turn in. There was a fancy name, but the words went over my head.

Stay tuned for the next installment of physical therapy and my road to returning to bowling.

 

Another Gardening Day

My doctor gave me the green light to forego the crutches. I immediately exchanged them for a wheel barrow. One of the beds needed more dirt, and I felt up to the task.
To be able to truck a full load of soil from a pile to the garden was a great test, and my knee passed with flying colors.
Two weeks after surgery. I don’t really know if I am behind schedule or ahead. I can’t compare it to my last surgery as the ACL reconstruction took longer to rehab.

After planting four more tomato plants, watering gave me a chance to relax. I know that I am on a slippery slope and that my knee isn’t back to normal. No backsliding. Be careful.

Squirrels

IMG_5833The harsh winter of 2017 caused me to put up more birdfeeders. I even put out suet.

IMG_5826Over the fifteen years living in the dome, I have seen a lot of squirrels, but typically they are on the other side of the fence. Three dogs had kept them from encroaching.

Maybe word spread that the dogs aren’t very fast, Lucy especially.IMG_5828

But the squirrels figured things out. They knew when the dogs were inside. There were times I would be in my study, in the basement, and I would watch the squirrel shimmy up the poll. IMG_7023 (2)“Squirrel” gets the dogs running, but they don’t know where to go. By the time we make it up the flight of stairs, the squirrel is gone, though Ricky always gives chase.

By the time summer arrived, I was done feeding the squirrels and the large birds. Feeders emptied daily. There’s enough food for the birds. But the squirrel wasn’t done with me. There’s a volunteer Fir tree right outside the kitchen window. Maybe it’s eleven years old….

dome2008Not even close. In 2008, there’s no sign of this monster tree.

IMG_7232But now that’s a different story. It would take me forever to cut everything that has engulfed the dome. The squirrel absolutely loves the cones, and it knows exactly where the dogs are. Sometimes we’ll be in the garden and the squirrel comes and creates a mess on the walkway. They provide exercise for Ricky and Abby, but the squirrel just scampers onto the roof and is gone in a flash. Some mornings, I’ll wake to the little pitter patter of squirrel paws running over the roof. IMG_7022 (2)

 

Almost Crutchless

clip-art-of-a-frowning-red-haired-woman-with-a-cast-using-crutches-by-ron-leishman-3909I’m really close to ditching the crutches. There are times when I can walk normal, though there’s still a slight hitch in my giddy up, so I am not quite ready to put them in storage. I think the last two times I have had knee surgery, I must have borrowed crutches.

34110b7564326998404c946c1a64b171Today was day two of working with Laura Parker at PT Solutions. I knew I had stepped into the right place last week when I was greeted by a large stuffed Collie and then the real McCoy.

17192477_1684787661819272_8040721259268239178_oThis Tee shirt says it all. It’s downright silly to not listen to the therapist.

I didn’t even bother asking Laura if I could get rid of the crutches and she never suggested it.

I started by spending fifteen minutes on a machine that was kind of like sitting down on a Nordic track. I’ve just realized why my right forearm was sore. It couldn’t be the crutches as my arms hardly get any action anymore. I’ll have to take a picture of it next time.  The purpose is to work on knee range of motion. It took a bit to get my knee cooperate, but after a bit I was able to reach the goal.

Today I stated that I wanted to bowl in August. Laura asked when in August. July just started, so why couldn’t August 1, 2017 be a good goal. Laura laughed.

An Unusual Day

This morning started off with a trip to the Springfield Municipal Court House. I witnessed an accident between a Suburban Tahoe and a small school bus on my way to Springfield High School at the end of September. The bus got T-boned by a guy running a red. It looked like the bus took a right turn, the impact was so hard.

What’s taken so long? There were court dates set but the prosecution needed a few delays. When the bus driver called me, telling me today’s court date, I wasn’t sure if I could make it with my surgery. But do you think they would give her a continuance?

Next time I visit the Springfield Municipal Courthouse, I’ll have to look for this picture.

My favorite exhibit was of the K-9 police pictures. Found my buddy Rich Charbaneau’s dog, or at least one of his dogs.

It was interesting to sit in on some trials. Drunk Driving charge cost a jail-jumpsuited guy three years of driving. I can’t imagine not being able to drive for that long. A few cases plead no contest to petty theft and were banned from Wal-Marts. I thought it was funny in that the judge would tell people to try to stay out of trouble for six months or so. I suppose it’s not his place to tell people to be lawful abiding citizens for the rest of their lives.

My reward for being a good citizen and hopefully undoing the wrong done to the fired bus driver, and she was found not guilty, we went out to lunch at the Flying Squirrel. I’d been by that little tavern/sports bar many times and  have wanted to check it out. The parking lot was empty. The waitress knew everyone, except for us, who came through the door.

I went the French Dip route. I knew after one bite that I wasn’t going to win any prizes for cleaning my plate unless packing the second half and most of my Tater tots into a box counts. Next time I go, I’ll have to check out their beer selections.

 

Dog Day Afternoon

IMG_7363The thermometer slowly inched to the upper eighties. It was a good day to start weeding before eight.

IMG_7352First, I had to feed my plants. My good friend Anne Donahue set me up with a liquid concoction in a plastic garbage bucket; she described the mixture as a Snicker’s Bar for plants. The goal is to put the green back into some of my plants.

It had been a while since I last weeded the raspberries. Once again, I got down on my butt and weeded the long row. Sometimes I looked like I was lying down on the job. (Laying or lying?) I  even paused to do some leg lifts while I was down there.

IMG_7311Work and rest, while paying close attention to my knee, has been the pattern for today. I’ve been somewhat diligent in using crutches; however, when I leave the crutches at the threshold of the garden gate. I have to practice walking without them is how I justify not using them.

The dogs, especially as the day heated up, liked it when I came inside to elevate and ice my k nee.

Now that the Red Sox score of nine runs against the Texas Rangers, it might be cool enough to go back out and do some more work on the corn. Fertilizing the blueberries is an easy thing to do.IMG_7320

Blogging Keeps Me Off My Feet

IMG_7309Pain is still my guide. Twinge means it’s time to stop gardening and get off of my feet. It took me two twinges to reach for my crutches.

IMG_7308There’s so much to do. It’s hard to leave the endless weeding. I remind myself that I have all summer to get it done.

IMG_7315Where to start? Raspberries? Strawberries? Peas? With my limited walking, I chose the onions. Close and an easier task than many parts of the garden. Knowing I didn’t have much time, I wanted to experience the gratification of getting something done.

Meanwhile, Ricky’s screaming got me moving a bit faster than I wanted. I’m calling him. Sylvia’s calling him. Both of us in panic mode. Sylvia was then screaming for Abby to come as she was nose to nose with a rather large doe. Perhaps they were playing. This same doe was in the yard earlier, though the dogs were afraid to go outside. I’m worried that perhaps the doe lost a fawn and is sticking close to it. Maybe it’s injured. I briefly looked around, but again my steps are limited.

Once I checked Ricky for cuts and had all three dogs under supervision, I returned to the garden. I hadn’t had a twinge yet. Or had I? It did, after all, take two twinges to send me packing.

IMG_7341I re-discovered a volunteer tomato. I wonder what kind it is going to develop into. I love a good garden mystery. I’ve got a few squash plants that have me wondering what kinds of fruit they will be bear. Will they retain their original form or will they be a cross? Only time will tell.

It must be time for me to go back into the garden…

 

Home is Where the Heart Is

20170630_191036Trekking to the outskirts of Roseburg to attend Gayle and Osima’s yearly gathering is

something that we don’t miss very often.

1498869019870Even though we aimed to leave Eugene at two, we didn’t leave until after five. But the weekend is supposed to be all about living stress free. For someone who doesn’t leave my house very often, it’s hard to live that philosophy, especially since there’s so  much I want to get done before leaving, though crutches eliminates many of those things.

20170630_190126We did get another garden bed installed and planted. My poor little starts were begging for more room and I couldn’t leave them crying out, though only half of them got the attention. Maybe today…

DrivingThe Seventy-one miles to Roseburg wasn’t so bad. A bit of traffic. Lots of trucks doing the I-5 shuffle.  Add on another thirty miles, give or take a mile or two, and we landed on their little compound shortly after seven. It seemed as though many of the guests were having similar issues. But again, there really wasn’t any need to hurry.

For the next forty-eight hours, there wasn’t a need to hurry at all. Lounging was had by all. When not lounging, there were games. Bananagram was a popular word game. Mindy had to practically play sitting on her hands, giving the rest of a chance to say peel or the magic word, banana, to end the game. Ladder ball was popular when it wasn’t too hot.

received_10213908497451806Saturday night ended with a great big fire around a pit.  Smores. Songs. Lounging with  great company. The burning/roasting of marshmellows/marshmallows was a teaching and learning opportunity; artists carefully crafted their mallows with oohs and  ahhs from spectators. One participant got everyone’s attention when she thought to shake her flaming mallow out with a shake, sending sparks about.

I tried hard to not over indulge in the bounty of the food brought from everyone. Chicken had become the theme. I brought Chicken Cacciatore, aka Kitchen Cacciatore. Chicken showed up in all sorts of forms.

20170703_101707Abby the Labby Number Nine got a chance to be an only child for the weekend and soaked up all of the  attention, especially from dog people who currently don’t have dogs. I ought to remind Cathy R. that she can borrow Abby any time she needs a dog fix.

The hardest part about leaving my house is leaving the rest of the fur babies. Ricky and Lucy were in very capable hands. Anne Donahue took great care of the dogs. The cats were fed, though they don’t like anyone but me, especially Ying and Yang. Next time I get offspring of a feral cat, I have to do a better job at socializing it. I’m afraid that if something were to happen to me, my cats would be on their own.

20170703_101617Leaving home is  hard, but coming home is such a treat.

 

Blogging while doing exercises


Exercises to rehab is not the same as exercising. It is more like exorcism. 

I ought to be able to write a sentence while my leg defies gravity for however long I keep it suspended in a leg lifts position.

My main problem is my counting. I typically lose track of the ten second hold and the repetitions. Throw in writing and I am bound to work longer than prescribed.
Earlier today I was thinking how easily I sell myself short, reminding myself that I had to learn how to walk correctly after my first Anterior Cruciate Ligament reconstruction. My poor ankle had spent months plastered in the wrong direction. Something to help a tendon learn it’s new role in keeping my knee together. Rebuilding muscle took a lot of work. I tell myself that this rehab stint is nothing in comparison, but I need to take it seriously, perhaps a little more now that the chicken doesn’t spring like it used to.
I wonder if there is an App that will help me count and keep track of my reps. I am sure there is something beneficial to make my brain count and at least try to remember. Stretch two different muscles at the same time.

The view from the floor is much better than from my couch.

Martha Carey Thomas

outlawmarriages

Outlaw marriages: the hidden histories of fifteen extraordinary same-sex couples by Rodger Streitmatter. Obviously straight did not matter when he penned this 2012 book.

I had never heard of Martha Carey Thomas, marthacareythomasthough I’m never surprised how exclusive history is. We’re so behind in women’s history, especially lesbian history, that it might be impossible to catch up. Thomas looks so serious, perhaps a bit perturbed. Maybe she was just told that there was not one single college that would allow her to step over the threshold to earn a graduate degree. It was 1879 after all. She should have appreciate the bachelor’s degree as many women at the time didn’t have access to that, but coming from an upper-class family in Baltimore did have its perks.

A no would not suffice. In a mere six years, Thomas merely created a graduate school avenue to for when she became the dean of faculty at Bryn Mawr College, the college in which she would soon become president of.

CareyandMamieWhen two women with the affluence of money in their background come together, the results influence drastic social change. But the web page I’m reading, the Baltimore Women’s Hall of Fame doesn’t mentioned Carey’s same-sex partner at all. I ought to be happy that at least Baltimore is acknowledging her.

Perhaps Carey was spoiled. Maybe. Maybe with eight children underfoot, there were too many battles to be fought. When Carey showed educational promise, her parents took a rare step and sent the youngster off to boarding school. I haven’t learned when all of the kids were eventually shipped off, or mostly her brothers. I’m still imagining the poor mother with such a clan, though I’m sure the Baltimore physician could afford hired-help.

Maybe, her father acknowledged female education more than history gives him credit for. “While studying there (New York) her father asked her to investigate Cornell University for him.  He later decided that it had been a mistake, because as soon as she saw it, she was determined to attend.  Though her father publicly approved of education for women, he did not approve of his daughter going to a real college, and, in particular, to a co-educational one.  He did relent, however, and Thomas received her bachelor’s degree from Cornell in 1877.”

John Hopkins University threw Carey a bone, accepting her into the Master’s Program. They probably happily took her family’s money, but the restrictions were so severe, she only lasted a year. “In the fall of 1877, she applied to John Hopkins University.  She was reluctantly admitted for a master’s degree, the first woman to enter a Hopkins graduate course.  Prohibited from attending lectures, Thomas’ enthusiasm waned and after completing one year, she withdrew.  Forty years later, she was the first woman to receive an honorary degree from John Hopkins.”

I’m not sure if I would have taken the honorary degree. Better Late than Never, right? John Hopkins owed her big time. In a time of need, she and some friends raised a butt-load of money to help the floundering school of medicine. With the help of just four her friends, they raised $500,000. “The funds raised were used as a leverage to get the University to accept women.  Thus, thanks largely to the efforts of these five women, women were to be admitted on precisely the same basis as men.  There were three women among the first class to enter the John Hopkins Medical School in 1893.”

Martha Carey Thomas became the Bryn Mawr president the next year.

New Chapter: Physical Therapy

Yesterday I started working with Laura Parker for knee physical therapy. Thirty visits gives my summer some structure. And then there are the exercises. I had already been given a short list from Slocum Orthopedics, but there’s something about seeing a physical therapists twice a week that motivates me. Why bother paying someone to help me get back to “normal” if I am not going to be bothered doing the exercises. Now that my homework will be graded, it is time to get serious.

My first goal is to lose the crutches. If I could walk without a significant limp, I could put my crutches aside. I thought my ambling fit the criteria. Sylvia shook her head no. I don’t think Sylvia’s ever been on crutches. I could be wrong.

But Laura agreed with Sylvia. Sylvia’s grin was almost record-breaking.

It’s not like I have use them in the sense where I am using the crutch to take place of my right leg; I can bear weight. I just have to use them for support. Now I have to work on walking correctly. Stiffness is the barrier that I have to climb over. I find myself practicing the Zen of walking, being deliberate with each motion. The step, the knee bend. Everything that I have taken for granted. Good thing that I have plenty of time as it takes me forever to get anywhere.

I see Laura next Tuesday and I really want her to be surprised at my progress. No crutches mean I will be able to drive again, not that I tend to go anywhere in the summer. But being able to walk without crutches gets me that much closer to bowling!

Veggies need home

Free food. Free organic veggies. All you have to do is come to my South Eugene house and pick ’em. I have peas, snow and sweet pods. I have Strawberries, we’ll hidden. Onions. Kale.
I managed to meander to the garden twice today and watered. Stooping is doable, but I am not close to bending my knee.

Of course, I won’t turn down help weeding. Eventually I will weed by the seat of my pants. Mostly I want folks to come and get food; it sure is hard to see food go to waste.

Garden kitty

New Views

Maybe I wouldn’t be bored and restless if just moved my location. 

It had been a chilly morning but didn’t take long for me to shed a layer. Barely seventy. Perfect sun bathing-time. 

Even the dogs agreed, though they would walk the ends of this world with me.
The view while exercising shows a certain pattern.

Need A Seatbelt


There is nothing better to motivate me into doing things than being told I can’t. 

I am starting to think I need to install a seatbelt or perhaps restraints. Staying on the couch for extended periods of time is getting harder and harder. Impulses. The itch to be doing. My dogs are not really helping.  Ricky is trying to tell me that it is okay to be a couch potato. Abby is the guilt tripper. She hadn’t brought me a frisbee for over a week. She picks a time when I am using the giant silver mean-looking metal things that makes obnoxious noise. I swear my crutches love to fall over. Quickest way to get attention, but the dogs don’t particularly like them. 

In one of my previous experiences of being a bird, I probably was the first to leave the nest and it was high off the ground. That explains my fear of heights. Sometimes I just have to take the plunge. I am not the type to wade into cold or hot temperatures. Gradual is for other things, like walking or reading or eating. Slow and easy.

So why is it hard to take it slow and easy when that is what I am supposed to do. It would be better to tell me to go fast and furious. 

Today’s goal was to amble up to the garden. Did that, but ended up watering and evaluating changes. It hasn’t been that many days since I picked strawberries and peas, planting starts and seeds, but it has felt like an eternity.


If it weren’t for the bags of frozen peas and corn on my knee, I probably would have jumped away many paragraphs back. There’s laundry in the washing machine. There’s the plant I repotted that needs to be brought in, but perhaps I ought to clean off the hutch where plants gather in front of the picture window. 

Good thing that the Red Sox play the Twins soon. That ought to keep me off my feet, though there is the fact I have to put my frozen veggies back to the freezer. There are those exercises to do… . Later.

Pain Be My Guide

I’m at the stage where I seek pain. Not too much. A twinge will do. There’s a fine line; I’ve done this dance too many times. Pain is my guide and tells me what I can do, can’t do, and  tells me when I am way over the line.

I am on Day five of surgery. Surgery’s not typically the name I use, but rather procedure. It doesn’t seem as bad or as complicated or as painful.  It was only after seeing that picture of a knee undergoing arthroscopy with the two holes drilled into the joint that surgery is a better term.  If pain is the determiner for a name, I’d have to put getting my knee drained as surgery, though it wasn’t complicated, but it was painful. I still cringe when I think of it.

A scope isn’t nearly as complicated as when I had my knee reconstructed in 1980; they cut into my knee, leaving a neat railroad track that runs below my knee to the top. The scar is a work of art. Never puckered or raised; it was as if they ironed my skin before sewing me back up. Probably took a dozen or so of stitches.

I told my current ortho doc that I wanted new scars. I didn’t want him to overlap the scars and hide them. He looked at me as if no one had ever asked him to do that. I’m proud of my scars, I told him. I want to be able to keep count.  Perhaps by the next one, the Total Knee Replacement, I will have lost count of surgeries or I won’t care. But for now I’ll enjoy using my scars to highlight my stories I  tell about my knee. I suppose if I weren’t so ashamed of my stomach, I’d use a visual to tell the story about my radical nephrectomy. Nineteen eighty-eight the year.  Just the other day I was exchanging stories in the waiting room at the Slocum Orthopedic Clinic. The door ought to be a revolving door; I have never been to a busier place. They are efficient as much as possible. More time to tell stories.

The older man I was talking to at the ortho warehouse was a smidgeon above my sister’s age, just a decade ahead of me. For some reason I’m getting better at judging my age and older, but I’m get worse about younger years.  The high school wrestler of class of ’66 heard his knee pop while wrestling. They did surgery, which I imagine was a new thing. I don’t remember the specifics, but he said that they nicked a nerve by mistake and he couldn’t keep his foot from dropping.  Doctors said nothing could be done, but his wrestling coach wouldn’t hear it or let the boy listen, and the coach had him walk. And walk a lot. Makes me think of that movie. Life’s a Box of Chocolate. Might come to me. Might not. Forrest Gump. Just keep walking. Just keep doing.

The first Anterior Cruciate Ligament reconstruction certainly didn’t take just forty minutes, like it did this past Thursday. Trimming and sucking was the routine, no scraping and sanding and rearranging of tendons took a long time. Tendons promoted to the rank of Lieutenant, taking the place of my ACL.

Maybe my first ortho guy should have used screws or something to tighten my knee joint. It did hold together better than it did in the past and prior to surgery, and it did stop dislocating when I ran, but it wobbled. Athletic trainers at Northeastern University loved to use my knee as a sample to trainers in training. Now here is a knee that is really fucked.  The draw test is when a push of the lower leg goes the opposite direction of the upper leg and the higher the draw, the more the knee joint opens. It’s not supposed to open.

The draw test didn’t hurt. Everything else did, but not that test. I was there to get my knee and my leg back into working condition. I hadn’t a clue how long it was going to take before I was released from restrictive activity. I might have been on teams, but I didn’t see much playing time. It was getting harder and harder to finish my physical education  courses. Can’t do it, can’t teach it. Try sticking a landing after vaulting over a horse with a wobbly knee. Doesn’t work so great.

Reminiscing of my surgery back when I was twenty is helping me put things into perspective. I’ve been complaining in blogs about stupid leg compression stockings. There’s no room for me to whine about them when I could be wearing a toe to hip plaster of Paris fashion accent. At least my first cast had cool signatures from my Ithaca College teammates. I had no one to sign the surgery cast. Too bad I didn’t take pictures of my scrawny leg after few months of wearing that beast. Scary. It doesn’t take much for muscle to take a hiatus.

No hospital stay for the scope. In and out meant I went in for surgery around 3:30 or so; he was running late. I had already been prepped an hour before hand; wearing a paper dress that could have fit three of me. Really ought to have taken a picture of me in the hairnet. One stocking was on, as well as my little purple booties with traction, not that they ever got to touch the floor. They gave me something for my nerves as I was jumpy as all get out. The nurse probably just wanted me to shut up. If we hadn’t had to stop by BiMart for pain meds, I might have been home by six. Actually I have no recollection of the time; it didn’t seem very long at all.

They haven’t changed the philosophy of getting up and moving immediately after surgery. I was shocked when the nurse told me to get out of the hospital bed the day after surgery. Are you serious? And there was some serious pain, but I had to work through it. I had to do a certain amount of laps. Crutching with a cast and leg that can’t bear any weight. Don’t want to pop any of those inner stitches do we, I was warned.

That’s when the fine line comes in. There are things that I can do that will make my leg stronger. But there are things that I can do to cause a setback.

Yesterday I started to wean myself off of the crutches. I would use the crutches but walk under my own power. I listen closely. Stiffness is okay. Pain’s not okay, but pain is the message that tells me to slow down or stop altogether.

At the moment, I’m back on the couch. Ice. Elevation. Rest. I’ve got the acronym messed up, but it shows that I’m listening to my knee. I had hobbled to kitchen to get some food. Once up, I found myself flitting. I repotted a houseplant. I started a load of laundry. I cooked a sausage. I reheated coffee and carried it back to the couch.

By the time I hit the couch with hot coffee and frozen peas and corn, my knee was complaining. It was a mild commentary of my crossing the line in doing too much, but it didn’t sound like I had gone very far over the line. Once I finish with RICE, I’ll  evaluate what I have to do next. Exercises come to mind.

Tomorrow I begin physical therapy on my ankle and my knee. I’ve had some trainers that acted more like drill sergeants in the way they pushed me doing my exercises. I know that to get my knee to bend or to straighten out will be a painful endeavor; it always has been. At least physical therapy will help me gauge the different levels of pain, to help me stay behind that line, as well as give me more to write about. Meanwhile, I’ve been avoiding leg lifts…

 

Meniscectomy

Last Thursday afternoon I went in for my fourth knee procedure. I am thankful that it was “just” cartilage and not my Anterior Cruciate Ligament.

I had hoped to watch the arthroscopy procedure as I had watched in the past, but this is no longer an option. It looked liked a vacuum was sucking debris out of my knee.

The procedure went well. I remember taking in oxygen. When I awoke, it felt like time hadn’t passed and that they hadn’t done the procedure yet. I have no idea how long it took before I came to, but I was ready to go home.

With all of my experience, how could I have forgotten about the compression stockings? If only I had remembered, I could have saved myself seventy-two dollars. Maybe now that I know the outrageous cost, next time I will bring my own.


Maybe I ought to find out how much they charge for the bandages and sterile strips.


I also learned that my reusable ice bags aren’t as good as peas and corn. A friend of mine gave me a recipe for better ice packs: You can make a better ice pack with one part rubbing alcohol to two parts water inside two ziplock bags.

And now comes the work. The exercises and the willingness to push my knee along with the patience to not push too hard. I am not always good at walking that fine line.

Dogs are my life

I have always had a dog. Almost. Grew up with beagles. So cute, and yet so obstinate. I remember how my sisters and I begged my father for another. We promised to pay for everything. We promised to take care of it. The caring part, as I recall, wasn’t an issue. Typically the beagle shadowed me. I wasn’t supposed to let the dog sleep on my bed but the punishment wasn’t severe enough to change my ways.

Sometimes my dog was my only friend, but  always they have been my best friend.

As an adult, Kahlua was my first dog. He was an impulse. Kids with puppies in a wagon outside of a mall. I was in the right place at the right time. It didn’t matter that I didn’t ask permission. It didn’t matter that our lease prohibited dogs. I was devastated when thyroid cancer took him.

Timing is everything in life. And so when two pups arrived at my next-door neighbors not many days after Kahlua’s death, and one looked similar to Kahlua, I had to have him. I did ask permission this time. And this time I got a bonus: two puppies. Harold and Maude.

I don’t know if crate training was a thing back then, but those two rascals could have used one. Kahlua was practically perfect; he didn’t chew. He didn’t get into trouble. I could leave chicken bones in the garbage, and he wouldn’t touch them. I couldn’t say that about Stanley the Cat, but that is another story. Going from Kahlua to H & M was like going from a fine wine to sour grapes. These guys chewed up everything. I still have the library book that one of them chewed. Maude always looked guilty. Harold must have been a poker player in a previous life. I couldn’t get mad at them without knowing which one was the perpetrator. Harold and Maude became great dogs. We lived near the Willamette River then, along a bike path, and I could let them walk off leash. As long as they were within earshot, if I told them to sit, they did so regardless of distraction, and didn’t budge until I said so. Every so often I would get caught breaking the law and be cited for having a dog at large, but giving them their freedom was worth it.

Jules entered our lives in a surprising manner. We were in eastern Oregon at a Sandoz wedding when we were asked if we wanted the last puppy of a cousin’s litter. How could we say no to an adorable chocolate Labrador?

Having three large dogs isn’t that much more work than having two large dogs. There was always someone willing to play.

For me, having multiple dogs helped with the inevitable demise.  I also think that puppy energy helps older dogs keep some zest.

Lucy was our first “planned” adoption. I researched Labrador breeders. It boggled my mind how expensive some puppies were. I knew I wanted to stay away from puppy mills.

The best time of year to raise a pup is at the end of spring, after the rains have stopped. By this time, I had become a teacher, so summer vacation also was a factor in timing. Sylvia’s philosophy was Taurus pups were ideal since they tend to be more homebodies.

Harold wasn’t all that happy about having a pain-in-the ass pup around, but Jules was more than happy to be a big brother.

Some losses are harder for me to handle than others. When Jules died, I was devastated. Lucy tried to fill the void, but Jules was my dog; Lucy was Jules’ dog; she gave him more attention than she gave me.

I wanted another chocolate Labrador. When Lisa from Save The Pets called to say she needed an emergency foster home for a Chocolate Labrador mix, I said yes. I didn’t get permission.   Ricky came to me with the name Sparky, but I had already had a cat with that name, I changed it to Ricky. I had a I Love Lucy theme going. Lucy. Fred. Ricky seemed perfect. I became Ricky’s third person, though how anyone could have neglected such a sweet boy I couldn’t fathom.

We had been planning on getting a puppy that Spring. If only my only problems in life were picking a pup out of a litter, I’d be set. Having a female black lab was the criteria.

I write this as if somehow it will help me get through the final phase of Lovely Lucy’s life. Twelve is old for a big ole hundred pound Labrador. She’s been on the decline. Last winter I didn’t think she would make it to Spring. But she’s adjusted. Stairs became hard for her, so she started scooting down the stairs on her butt.

Now the signs are obvious. Yesterday I found her in a very unusual spot. Perhaps she was hiding. Perhaps she was disappointed that I found her. She ate breakfast, so hope was still by her side. That night, after I came home from surgery, she wouldn’t eat dinner. Not from her bowl. Not from Sylvia’s hand. No Kibble. No canned. This morning she did eat a couple of bites of ham and kibble, but it is just a matter of time. It’s too bad they don’t make a drug to take away grief.

Compulsive Gardening

IMG_7258When I enjoy doing something, I have a hard time restraining myself and get rather compulsive. If I see a space in my garden, I fill it. If I see a particular veggie that I don’t have, I buy it. My strawberries have filled in nicely. The birds and I have to look hard to find the hidden gems. I’ve already made one strawberry pie and have more in the garden that need picking.

IMG_7161Sylvia’s going to bring home more raised beds, which means I need more plants. But it would be a good idea to know what I have already so I don’t double up.

IMG_7275I am sure that a half dozen cucumber plants ought to be enough and still have plenty to share; this doesn’t count the two or three lemon cucumbers.

It took me many years to acquire the taste eggplant. I think I have six?

Once again I have more squash than we can humanly eat. I’m compelled to plant as many varieties as I come across to go along with the usual yellow crookneck and zuke.

I’ve got hubbard, acorn, sweet meat. Do I have patty pan? Just the other day I took one that didn’t get eaten and  I planted the seed. Seeds from another squash from last year are sprouting madly. Anyone need some squash starts?IMG_7259

I have such a soft spot in my heart for squash that when I see volunteers pop up, I let them grow wherever they want.IMG_7294

I’m hoping they will turn out to be acorn squash. I didn’t get enough of those last year. Today, as I was just meandering, I stumbled upon a few more sprouts, though it is too early to tell whether the two leaves will turn out to be squash or thistle. I have a hard time discerning the difference when the plants are very young.

IMG_7295My ultimate downfall when it comes to compulsive  gardening is the tomato. I had an outrageous number last year. I invested lots of time freezing them and barely made a dent. Any one need some frozen tomatoes?

This year, on my first outing, I had a game plan. But I was still on crutches and had someone buy for me. A couple of slicing, one for sauce, and a couple of cherry tomatoes. IMG_7265Every time I get an extra bed or two, I buy more tomatoes. Cherokee purples make the sloppiest BLTs, but are so divine.

I’m new to raised beds, and I’m sure I’ve crammed too many plants, but it’s hard for my brain to see the bigger picture even though every year I have the same problem in getting around the garden.

Today I bought perhaps six more tomato plants. A dozen or so doesn’t seem to be as crazy as last year’s total. So far, I’ve found only one volunteer tomato. I’ve got a crazy volunteer corn in my potato patch; it being so far away from the rest of the corn, I don’t know what will happen to it.

IMG_7263One of these years, I’ll tire of all of the work, though now that I have all of these sweet raised beds, I hope it’s not too soon.

My love of playing baseball

The Major League baseball supports kids playing baseball and softball and a commercial sent me down memory league. I know I have blogged about playing baseball.

The topic deserves repeat performances.

Before I was introduced to organized sports, baseball played an integral role in my childhood. Whiffle Ball tournaments with Jed and Jon Clifton. Neighborhood pick up games of five funded. I learned to catch fly balls since that is all we did. Sometimes we played pickle.

When I couldn’t find someone to play catch with, I threw a ball anyway. I wish I still at that pitch back net. Great way to practice throwing, catching, and entertaining myself. Sometimes I would throw a tennis ball against the garage door, but if the tennis ball got dirty, it left splotches. I never figured out why my dad got mad at me.

Now I really miss playing softball this year.

Are They Necessary?

There are certain God’s creatures that I hate and will do everything in my power to kill them. I’ve been stung too many times to have any  feelings for wasps. hornets. yellow jackets. I’m a hypocrite because I don’t kill spiders unless they really look threatening and are threatening me. I mostly  try to stay out of their way. Or perhaps the benefit of spiders gives me that kind heart feelings. Don’t these flying assholes that I previously mentioned are beneficial? Don’t they also pollinate when they aren’t being jerks to humans and dogs.

I hate slugs. I hate what they do in my garden. I hate how they stain my hands with their slime. I don’t kill them or bait them. I just throw them as far as I can out of the garden. What purpose do slugs have? There has to be some benefit in the food chain. Bird food? I’d rather the birds eat slugs as I absolutely love earth worms. I will go out of my way to rescue worms in my garden. But worms are all about beneficial. My dirt is happy when there are worms digging around.

IMG_7253The first time I came across a snail at the dome, I was intrigued. I had heard that snails had suddenly become a noxious visitor to the area. Where did they come from? Obviously things don’t like to eat them or they are very intelligence and have survived the wide variety of birds. Maybe we don’t have any French birds.

IMG_7254Since I was taught to despise snails for no reason, I tended to throw them into the street. Never gave the gastropods a second thought as they sailed into the air or smashed against a rock.

IMG_7255But then I read a book about a snail. A woman had the company of a wood snail that someone gave to her while she recovered from a serious illness, and she wrote not only about her experience, but I learned a lot about snails. They fascinate me.

IMG_7256They fascinate me when they are hanging out on the plastic siding of the dome, far, far away from my garden. But when they get close to my garden, they get the same treatment their cousin the slug gets. I learned in that snail book that if a snail’s shell gets crushed, they have the ability to rebuild. A friend of mine asked me if they are slugs during the rebuilding process.

 

Finally, the sun has made an appearance

Now that the rain has taken a break, I can get outside and start to chip away at all the growth the rain has caused. Grass. Blackberries. There’s so much to do that it causes my head to spin to think about it.IMG_7232

If I don’t get a handle on the blackberries, it will engulf the house. I wish I could somehow train the dogs to pull weeds. They are working dogs after all. They do work in the garden with me. If there’s a old corn stalk or brassica plant, they’ll pull them up if I ask. Ricky, my Chocolate Labrador, loves to dig in the garden when I am digging, though he tends to dig in the spot where I am digging. I just have to convince him that there’s something under the ground, and from the many holes I come across, there are plenty of scents to keep him busy. Every so often, he’ll start digging where he’s not supposed to, but once I stay stop, he does and doesn’t start until I ask him, “Want to dig?”IMG_7141 (2)

This is the first year I have beds. I never imagined that I would have so many, but I am loving it, and am very appreciative of the hard work that Sylvia’s been doing to install the beds. To tell the truth, I have lost track of how many beds we’ve got so far, and BiMart has the cedar kits on sale, so I get to get more!

IMG_7186Unless I put a bed on every square inch of the property, there will be plenty to do keep the  weeds at bay. Grass and thistles and blackberries are my main source of aggravation.

Since I’m still disabled with my not-yet-surgically-repaired-knee, I have to take it easy and alternate work and rest. July 6th is the next tentative day. I know that it may be a week after that before I can get back into the garden and am trying to get it “done” before hand, though I know that there’s never a done. This is my next area to work on:

IMG_7249

 

What does it take to succeed?

After my recent not-so-great substitute teaching experience at an alternative High school, the spectacular time I had at Churchill High School filled my soul with hope. Meeting enthusiastic students caused my soul to dance. 

Two different schools. Perhaps socioeconomic status contributes. Polar opposites. The apathy at the alternative school drained me. High absenteeism. Low participation. Cell phone activity the sole show of life.  Churchill students wanted to be there and wanted to dance and wanted to practice their play.  Yes, the kids were in elective classes, which does help ease apathy, buy the sour alternative class was also an elective. What causes such a difference?

One of the things in life that intrigues me the most is what people make of their lives, especially when the going wasn’t easy.  Who are the people who work their tails off to succeed, though as I get older the idea of what it means to succeed has changed a lot. 

Let me go to an example. I have probably blogged about Dustin Pedrosa. Pedey. The little engine that could. Number 15. Boston Red Sox second-baseman. I admire his tenacity and his work ethics. He gives his job,  his passion more than a hundred percent. 

I admire that he has changed, especially as he lives in a world where athletes age almost as quickly as dogs.  Thirty-something is middle age. Dustin didn’t lose a hunger for success after winning Rookie-of-the-year or players on-the-year. World Series rings hasn’t tarnished Perdroia’s drive to push himself.

The first time I watched him play was in Seattle. Boston had come to town and the opportunity to take the train up to see them was a dream.  I will never forget what I saw.

A baseball game is rather long. The Red Sox are known for their lengthy games. By watching Dustin at second, I had never realized what he did at every pitch. He is only televised when he makes a play. We don’t see what goes on to set him up for those gold gloves that warrant replay. Imagine jumping every time a batter swung the bat. No one will ever accuse Dustin of being flat-footed. Far from it. His feet don’t stay on the ground long enough. 

I wonder who taught him to keep his feet moving or was it instinctual. Maybe it is more of a motivation than a skill.  Maybe he learned that was a way to compensate for his small stature and quickness can make up for inches and power.

And then I think about the kids I meet as a teacher. Sometimes I see the spark, the drive. And sometimes I don’t.  The young woman that told me to Eff-off. I can’t help but wonder what horrible experiences she has faced to hold such hate. I try to think that she’ll have a pivotal what’s-it-going-to-take moment to run her around.

And I try to think that if I do my job, not necessarily just as a teacher, but my job as a compassionate human being,  I could play a role in a pivotal moment. Just a thought.

A Lesson of Patience

I blogged about how I had to wait two weeks to see my orthopedic surgeon after my dog, Abby the Labby Number Nine tripped me going down the stairs, messing up my ankle and my problematic knee.

Within five minutes, doctor Walton diagnosed my seven-year old Anterior Cruciate Ligament transplant had probably torn.

But, more waiting had to be done to get an MRI. Eleven more days of not working, not driving, and struggling to do anything, like get my garden in.

The couple of days after the MRI stretched in a week. I became a squeaky wheel demanding grease. 

I blogged about how I had a choice between a short-term fix with arthroscopy and long-term fix of total knee replacement. Instinct without too much thought had me picking TKR. Get it over with was my thought. 

After research and advice, I changed my mind, and opted for the easy way out. The last time I had my knee scoped out, the recovery time wasn’t long, though probably longer than I am choosing to remember.

I waited for the surgical orders to be written. I had by this time returned to work and driving and could walk without that much of a limp. There were times when I thought I could skip the surgery, but my knee would remind me with sharp pains and clicking noises that if I wanted to bowl, garden, or walk down stairs, this wasn’t an option.

Yesterday I saw Dr. Walton for the pre-op. The ball was rolling. Surgery was scheduled for next Thursday. The waiting was over.

I was wrong. Slocum Orthopedics called to say that there was a glitch in pre-authorizing the procedure. Departments were finger pointing, saying that I was not their responsibility. I was told that there was nothing I could do but wait. 

July 6th is the new tentative date of surgery. But without definitive authorization by Moda, an insurance company that gets a grand a month for my coverage, I am in a canoe without paddles. At least the water is calm. Perhaps I can learn to be patient and perhaps even enjoy the wait. Maybe.

Random thoughts

Pink Floyd music plays in my mind. And the worms ate into his brain. That one. Hey you, can you help me. It has been on my mind off and on all day. Must have been on the Mini Cooper’s radio on my way to Churchill High School.

I had been reading The Japanese Lover by Isabelle Allende for my once a Thursday book group when the song popped into my head, signalling a short intermission. 

Lenny, a character in the book, was telling Alma that he was dying and told her that he thought whatever happens after death was the same as before birth.

I haven’t spent much time thinking about what the state of my soul pre-birth, though I can’t imagine it never crossed my mind.

When does a soul even come into play? Is the soul and brain connected? The notion that the brain is built from a cell, a non-thinking programmed thing that does the same thing over and over. Mitosis. Divide and multiply.

Tonight I  choose to not worry whether there is or is not anything after this life. The outcome does not reflect the point or purpose of this life. 

Maybe this philosophy comes from Ying. Sound asleep and dreaming. Fluttering paws. Twitching face.  For this moment, creating the space  is my purpose.

How to Tune a Cat

All cats need attention. Some more than others. The three that share my domicile tell me exactly what they need, especially Ying.

Ying is a talker. She starts talking a few rooms away.  I hear a meow or just a meh before seeing her. 

We do a call and response until she sees me, and then our eyes get to talking. 

Vocalization increases with touch. I dream of understanding the  feline language. I know she responds after I make an attempt to copy her sounds.

Coming from a feral cat, Ying and Yang didn’t get the physical mothering until I took them in, and they treated me like their mom, especially Ying.

I try to wear clothes that keep me from being a pin cushion. She’ll find a part of my shirt and suck on it. I call it being Yinged or Yinged. Throw in some purring and a sweet whistle is sung. 

Slowly, as I stroked Ying this evening, I could feel her relax, making me feel as if I were tuning her. No,  the image of cat gut strings didn’t come  to mind until this very second. Tuning a cat into tranquility is a better image.