Friday, May 31, 2013


It's the uncertainties that trap me.  Will the staff at the pod-castle be able to transfer G'ma from the bed to the commode or the wheelchair?  Will the side rails hold her on the mattress or will she decide to get up on her own?  Will the bed alarm and the floor alarm be enough to alert the aides that G'ma is on the move?

I don't do well with the open ended nature of things.  I like to have a goal.  I do quite well when I'm directing myself and know what to expect. That's not usually a problem; I've organized my retirement life to make certain that's the usual plan. Then, G'ma collapses in the bathroom, puts her foot up by her ear, disrupts her carefully calibrated medication plan, and all hell breaks loose.

Little Cuter and SIR left for their honeymoon this morning; I was glad to be able to send them off without worries. The crisis has passed, the current situation is fluid but manageable, and there's a plan in place to move G'ma back to the pod-castle tomorrow afternoon, after the equipment is delivered.

I don't know what I'll do with the double bed in her apartment; there's not room for it and the low-rise hospital bed, too. The pod-castle's storage facilities are full and I'll need a bigger car than The Schnozz to move it out and into my garage.  It's a good thing that Amster is in love with a firefighter - he has or has access to anything and everything I might need.  It's just a matter of coordinating schedules and moving things around and finding the time to do it all.

I don't really have to be here right now... or so I tell myself.  On the other hand, as I was helping her eat her lunch of penne-with-red-sauce this afternoon, I watched as her skin split.  It's so thin that the light tape holding the IV needle caused it to separate , like saran wrap pulled too tight. It required a quick fix by her competent and kind nurse, but it was not pleasant to watch her falling apart before my very eyes.

That's what it's been like this week.  Even the light does of anesthesia left her woozy and drowsy and unable to form full sentences.  TBG tells me that I was pretty much the same after my surgeries, as I recovered across the hall from where I sit and type to you right now.  I'd begin a sentence and fall asleep between the noun and the verb. I'd blurt out random words and phrases. My responses to simple questions were irrelevant.  That information is helpful, as I watch my mother's inability to recall her birth date.

Helpful, yes. Comforting? Somewhat.

Mostly, this week has been a reminder of who she was and how far she's declined.  My mom, the one who kept a stack of library books on the dry sink in the entry foyer, the one who set the table meticulously, the one who was always tucked in and buttoned up and appropriately attired, is gone forever.  Instead, this new mother is lying askew on her bed, her hospital gown hiked up over her knees and pulled down over her bony breastbone on her chest.  She has no interest in being straightened out.  She just wants to sleep.

I've given up trying to rouse her.  Her efforts at conversation are valiant and, if I get here early enough in the morning, there's even a welcoming smile and a real hug.  For the most part, we're sharing space as she dreams and I type.... and read... and do crossword puzzles... and worry.

I worry that she won't be safe.  I worry that her medications won't be properly adjusted before there are consequences.  I worry that her skin will break down and that her appetite won't return and that she'll just give up.

Today, she refused a Hershey's Kiss for dessert.

She laughed and said she was expecting the look of shock on my face when she said "No, thank you, sweetheart."  Then, she fell asleep and left me holding the bag - literally.  Kisses in one hand, her fingers in the other, tears on my cheeks and gentle, regular breathing from the bed.

It could be worse, I know.  I just wish it were better.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Bad Books

It's been so long since I've updated the sidebar, I'm tempted to remove it all and give my posts more space on the page.

I think I have the Kindle to blame. It feels like screen time more than reading; I zip through thrillers and mysteries, sometimes two in a day. I've set the font and brightness to large and shiny which translates to far fewer words on the page than I'm used to in a real book. I'm constantly swiping the screen, pulling up the next set of words. I never know what page I am on, because the pagination changes along with the font size. I've been reading Wallace Stegner's Angle of Repose for months; I'm 78% of the way through. That is a much less satisfying bit of information than I'd have if I were reading it on paper with a proper binding and could sense how close I was to the end by feeling the pages left in my right hand. But, with the Kindle the text is always available to me, on my phone, on the Kindle itself, in the darkened living room while TBG is watching LeBron.

My ambivalence to the device notwithstanding, I have used it consistently since I began to download free books from BookBub and Book Gorilla. Many of them are awful.  Most would benefit from a proofreader's red pencil.  Some appear to have skipped the editor's desk entirely. I'd be aggravated if money had changed hands (or electronic funds had been transferred), but, since they were free, I feel no compunction about stopping 28% or even 2% into the story and sending it back to the cloud. 

Here is some of what I've read and rejected over the last few months.  I'm appending mini-reviews and snarky comments. Tomorrow, I will review the ones I liked.  From there, I will try to keep the sidebar more up to date.  

Notice, I said try.
The Ambassador's Wife (Jake Needham) 8% of this nonsense was enough to send me screaming.  There wasn't a sentence that enticed me.  The characters were interchangeable. The editing was non-existent.  

The Advocate (Teresa Burrell) I knew where it was going from the beginning.  Anyone who watched Law'n Order or NCIS or Castle or Murder She Wrote would have the same reaction.  Formulaic and predictable, it was written well enough that I was able to finish it in one sitting.  The main character appears in the rest of the series; it will go on without me.

In the Blood: A Genealogical Crime Mystery #1 (Steve Robinson) This one couldn't figure out what it wanted to be. Was it a crime novel?  Was it a genealogical how-to manual?  And who was the main character, anyway?  There were so many overlapping stories I couldn't keep them straight.  After 28%, I was finished.

Armed and Fabulous  - Lexi Graves Mysteries (Camilla Chafer) The cover art should have given me a clue.  The rear end of a sexy woman in a black dress with a hand gun imitating her tail - the inside was as vapid as the outside. After 2%, I clicked through to another one.

Unleashed  -A Sydney Rye Novel #1 (Emily Kimmelman) 16% of this girl meets dog meets old lovers meets a problem I can't even remember was quite enough, thank you.  I really don't like books that have pages of dialog without reminding me who is saying what to whom.  It's a bigger problem when the story's not that interesting.

The Fifth Avenue Series (Christopher Smith ) Sometimes I continue to read long after my wiser self is telling me to put the thing away.  I had three stories in a boxed set, and I hoped that I would love it enough to be drawn into a long relationship.  It's telling that I could stop with only 35% of the tale left to tell.  I really didn't care at all.

The Last American Martyr (Tom Winton)  A polemic, a screed, a man shouting at the wind.  I read  22% of it, gritting my teeth.  I was looking for a story. I was not interested in preaching.

This Doesn't Happen in the Movies (Renee Pawlish) 2% was enough to tell me that my sixth grade English teacher would have rejected both the premise and the style of this story.  Once again, I should've paid attention to the cover art.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


G'ma fell.  She doesn't remember how or why but her screams brought the aides to the bathroom at 5am on Sunday. My phone rang ten minutes later; I knew it wasn't going to be good news as soon as I saw the time.  No one calls to share happiness before the sun rises.

The EMT met me in the courtyard; the gate is locked and the code is outside and he was stuck within.  We laughed about it and then, looking altogether too serious, he asked me if I was squeamish.  There was the second indication that everything was not all right.

Her leg was broken. The sole of her foot was next to her ear. It took ten milligrams of morphine to sedate her enough to move her from the floor to the gurney.  I stayed out of the way, in the living room of the pod castle, sparing myself the sight, heeding my family's warnings to be sure to take care of myself, too.  By the time we met up at the hospital, they'd reduced the fracture (medical speak for putting her leg back in the direction from whence it came) and inserted another IV or two.  She never really woke up all day.

The trauma team was so impressed with the fracture that the photo showed up on many cell phones. G'ma had no idea how it happened or that it had happened or where she was or why.  She didn't remember the ambulance or the fall.  She was in a much better state of mind than I was.

We were in the trauma center at University of Arizona Medical Center, the same place that saved my life in 2008.  It was like old home week. "I was here that day." "I was your ..." "You look so good!" "How are you doing?" They weren't random comments; it was reestablishing connections to a seminal event.  I felt the love, just as I had that January.  My answer to everyone was the same: I'm fine.  I'm back where you saved my life.  Mom is in good hands.

The homeless dude in the bay next door was hollering and screaming and making his displeasure known.  No f'ing way was he being treated by people of color, though his verbiage was somewhat less politically correct than that.  The staff kept apologizing and trying to close the door, but I found the whole scene quite amusing and distracting and was able to reassure them that I was neither insulted nor upset by his outbursts.  That was true right up until he threatened "to pull a Loughner on you." 

At first, I wasn't sure I heard it right.  That notion was quickly dispelled when the Tucson police officer who'd been called to the scene felt the need to repeat it... and repeat it... and repeat it again in ever louder and clearer tones.  By the second repetition, I was out of the chair.  By the third time, I was out in the hallway, up in his face, yelling that I'd been shot by that name and that I didn't need to hear it over and over again and would they please just stop it. The officer was flummoxed - should he arrest me or apologize?  Through my tears, all I could do was rant.

G'ma's nurse was the same kind man who flew with me in the Medevac helicopter from the Safeway to that same trauma unit.  He was also the screamer's nurse.  When he was able to extricate himself from the room next door, I found him in our bay, teary and arms out for hugs.  We held one another and PTSD'ed together.  Somehow, a social worker had appeared and I watched her watch us as we embraced.  There's no privacy in a hospital under the best of circumstances; sharing the rage/sorrow/fear/anger with a total stranger didn't feel odd at all.

After fourteen hours in Emergency, a clean room was found and up we went... to Diamond 2 North... four doors down the hall from my room... room 1, the tech who helped me shower reminded me. It was like old home week, only weirder. It didn't make me feel anxious... or so I thought until I noticed my heart beating harder and faster than it had been downstairs.  I didn't spend the night; I went home to TBG and my own bed.  G'ma didn't notice, or remember.

Taking care of myself is the hardest part of this.

And now, she's in surgery.  They'll fix the bone with a plate and screws and hope that it doesn't interfere with the hip replacement above it.  Should that seem loose, the simple operation becomes much more complex.  I'm hoping for the best and preparing for the worst and typing to you to distract myself from the various permutations of complications and confusions and planning that might need to be done.  There's no sense wasting energy on that until I have the facts.

Instead, I hold out hope that the anesthesia won't damage her brain and her memory any more than it already has.  She was so much less than herself after her hip replacement... and her back surgery... and I'm just not willing to lose any more of her than I have already. It's too bad that wishing can't make it so.

My siblings and my kids and my nieces and nephew are in my phone and grouped together for communication.  They send me smiles and encouragement across the miles.  JannyLou offered to sit with me, but I turned her down.  Some things are easier to bear alone... except that I am not alone, am I?  You are out there, in Los Angeles and Foxboro and Granger and Chicago and Maryland and in the Pacific Northwest.  I'm sharing with you and you are there.

You are just there... and I'm grateful.
I realized that it would be unfair not to share: the surgery was uneventful and the anesthesia as light as possible and I left her smiling in her sleep. We will plan tomorrow.  Tonight, we're going to rest.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Truly Blessed

A couple of the girl cousins were out by the pool, whispering.  It was too hot for anyone else to be out there, listening to their conversations, but that didn't seem to matter.  Their heads were together and their voices were directed only to one another.

Three of the boy cousins were on the sleigh bed in the living room.  The blankets were tossed aside as they sat on the front edge, feet dangling, eyes focused on the electronic gaming device on the middle one's lap.  To call them engrossed would be to understate the situation.

Her sister-in-law reintroduced herself, apologizing for not remembering names. Twenty minutes later, we were finished sharing stories of similarly embarrassing moments.  When her husband approached us, we could only laugh.  TBG and I needed help to say hello.

Her best friend - and no, I'm not insulted that she owns the designation - brought a daughter and a grandchild and the smiles that accompany a two year old and a small dog and squeaky toys were matched only by the smiles on the host and hostesses faces.

JannyLou turned 70 on Saturday, and her entire family showed up to celebrate. She didn't want a fancy shindig, opting instead to serve Lupita's, buffet style, in her kitchen, while the photographer set up in the courtyard.  When the light was right they began assembling on the bricks and the wall and the chairs and, in various combinations of relationships they were collected and preserved.  

We sat on the bench under the portico and smiled. There was a lot of that going around.

When we realized that organizing the various iterations of JannyLou and Fast Eddie's blended family was a lengthy and complicated process, we went inside to eat. There were tortillas and fillings and salsas and fresh limes and the same tableware we used at the wedding last summer. Gradually, others filtered in, some happier than others at having to wait and having to smile and having to do anything but what he wanted to be doing right then and sometimes it's just overwhelming to be nearly ten ...but he soldiered on and, honestly, nobody paid him that much attention.  They'd all been there, felt that, and seen that before and knew that they'd be seeing it again from one or the other of the people they loved who were filling the house with family sized emotions.

TBG and I were fairly sure we could identify which kids belonged to which parents and which husbands belonged to which wives and it was funny because we've known them for years and then it made us smile even bigger... it's that kind of family... they all belong to one another... and it's as wonderful as tulips coming up in the spring in my daughter's garden.

At the end, after the gifts and the cake and the icy margaritas, Fast Eddie and I exchanged a smile and a nod and an agreement.  This is what it's all about

Happy Birthday, JannyLou.  You are truly blessed.

Monday, May 27, 2013

I think that recycling this Memorial Day post has officially become a tradition. Here it is, again, updated for 2013.

  Happy Three Day Weekend, denizens!!

I used to march in the Memorial Day parade. I was dressed in my Brownie uniform, and then in my Girl Scout uniform - replete with those hated anklets. I wore them because they said you couldn't march without them and marching was too cool to pass up, but the shame............

All the school bands marched too, and Benjamin Road provided the materials and the labor to make the capes the high school kids wore. There must have been a military presence there, but I didn't pay enough attention to notice. I was marching and I knew that, all over America, other kids were being Americans and marching, too. It was great.

In Marin, the Memorial Day parade was always good for a controversy or two. Or three. Should the anti-war protesters walk alphabetically in the main march, or have their own march, or walk 50 yards behind the official march? I especially liked this discussion: Should weaponry be allowed? That was fairly disingenuous even for Marin.

There were bands at this parade, too, and with Bobby Weir as the Grand Marshal you know the music was worth hearing, especially at the picnic in the park afterwards. Not exactly your typical VFW-sponsored event, but no one was complaining. It was Memorial Day; there had to be a parade.

I've got the flag G'ma bought us for a housewarming present, which replaced the one Dadooooo got us in Chicago. There are white lilies in a glass vase, with some red and blue additions just for today.  I wore the tie-dyed tank top the Cuters and I made early one July to the gym this morning.  I've got the plastic flag on my bike handles - the same one I bought with the Cuters at the Five and Dime Store in New Buffalo in 1985. Maybe next year I'll be strong enough to pedal up the hill to the house.

And I am grateful to Lois and Kevin and Kyle and Amy and Cat and Sara, and to Courtney and her sister and the 41st Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron, and to Terry and Moose and Stroker and Uncles Chuck and Paul and Abby and to Aaron, clerking for a judge and carrying the memories of a convoy of trucks in the desert along with his diploma. 

The military gave me Dr. Rhee, who honed his craft on the battlefield and returned to create a system which saved my life.  It trained Dr. Bowman to triage in a crisis, and I am here to thank him in person.  

I'm watching jets fly overhead, aiming towards Davis-Monthan Air Force Base south of town.  There's a silent salute in my heart for those who are training to keep me safe, for those, like my youngest, bravest, nephew, who are awaiting their chance to serve.  

Life is good. Thanks to all those who've made it so.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Spring Carnival

GRandparentsINresidence was at work last week.
Prince Elementary School's teachers hosted the annual Spring Carnival,
and we were there to help.
 Debbie and Donna did popcorn (no racy allusions to movies gone by, please),
and Sherri and Bobbie (who escaped my camera's lens) did nachos,
and high school seniors sold our wares.
They are seniors at Amhpi High School
One's joining the navy.
The other plans to become a doctor.
Watching them hawk our goodies proved that they can do anything.

The teachers had much too much fun spinning sugar for cotton candy
and the kids had fun watching them.
There were impromptu picnics on the planters
and on the ground.
There were big brothers
and little sisters
and there were smiles
 lots and
 of smiles.
The best part of the afternoon came at the end, when Debbie, who joined GRIN after hearing about it over lunch at the Literary Society Luncheon last winter, laughed as she shrugged and said that she had an overwhelming urge to write me a thank you note for giving her the chance to get greasy over popping corn.  

Doing good while having fun and feeling your heart swell.... that's what it's all about.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Medicating Myself With Love

Little Cuter and I had the most marvelously mundane conversation this afternoon.  We talked about everything and nothing and mostly we just heard each other's voices.  It only served to amplify the good feeling I'd carried around all day.  Home from San Francisco, with love from my boy surrounding my heart, I awoke to find the irrigation system had sprung only one leak.  I admired the patches I'd applied last week, and went inside before 8am; it's summer in the desert and no one is doing anything (unpaid) outdoors after that.

I had the mail held until today's delivery, so there were no unpaid, unopened, annoying envelopes on the counter.  I connected an old friend with a new friend and felt renewed hope that things may really change for the better. I sent a contribution to Mayors Against Illegal Guns and laughed about me sending money to Michael Bloomberg.  Pilates was strengthening and the vibration machine at PT had me just-about-gliding across the gym floor.  

Life was good.

The phone rang. We didn't recognize the number on caller id, but it was local and I thought it might be a friend.  It wasn't.

It was a man who identified himself as an on-line reporter for a local television station.  He wondered if I'd seen the photos.  

Like a fool, I said, "What photos?"

"The new one's the sheriff's department has just released," led my brain to wonder why the Pima County Sheriff was releasing photos of the devastation in Oklahoma.  I began to prepare a statement of hope and love and encouragement for those whose houses and loved ones are no more.  I seem to get these calls after every tragedy; I usually decline to comment.  But this voice sounded young and I'm all about encouragement and I had a smile on my face right up until he finished his sentence with, "from January 8th."

"NO ! ! ! !"

No, I hadn't seen them.  No, I didn't want him to bring them up when he arrived to interview me.  No. No. No.  "I'm hanging up now."

My head is exploding.  He intruded upon my beautiful day and brought up images I have no wish to revisit.  I miss Christina-Taylor every day; I don't need a photograph to remind me of the most awful part of our relationship.  The actual memory is seared on my brain.  

And what in the world did he hope to gain from having me relive it again?  Why would he think that I would travel there with him, a total stranger, uninterested in me as anything but the next "big get"?  

I know.  He was just doing his job.  His job ruined my day.

I'm getting pretty good at recovering from these little PTSD moments.  I'll swim for a long time and get my heart pumping and feel the sun on my back and my body buoyed and able to lunge with impunity.  I'll see Shannon's magic fingers for a massage and come home to the dinner TBG will put in the oven after his massage.  I'm not going to let it win.  

Even after letting the venom seep out my fingertips and onto the keyboard, I'm still battling with unwanted thoughts. Before I do anything, I'm going to finish cropping the pictures which were going to be today's post... before the phone rang and I ended up here in the middle of Peeved Street.  Here's a teaser for you.
As I've said before, as I'll say again:
It is impossible to be sad when little ones are smiling at you.
I feel better already!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My Little Girl

The plan was to have boys.  Only boys.  Girls and I did not get along.  I didn't understand them.  

Then, I got the flu.  I also got pregnant.  I got morning sickness, congested nasal passages, and insomnia.  

I also got my little girl.

If there were two items of clothing which matched, up the stairs she ran to change one of them. Tender-headed, she refused to put a brush or a comb through her hair... which she also refused to cut.  Hair in her eyes made Daddy nutty, so she agreed to headbands and colorful clips. Bangs were never an option; they take too long to grow out.  I chose my battles in those days. She went happily uncombed to pre-school and I didn't care. It's not that I was all that talented in the tonsorial department, anyway. She really wasn't missing very much.

She learned to accept a compliment with grace when she was three.  It was a means of protecting herself from unwanted attention to just how cute she was.  She knew it.  She didn't want to hear it. I promised her that if she smiled and said "Thank You," the grown-up's attention would turn elsewhere.  I count that as a major parenting triumph.   

She is the glue that holds the group together.  There is nothing artificial about my daughter... or the people closest to her.  She's open and accepting and glad to make new friends, but the people she cherishes are the ones who cherish themselves. Her circle is diverse and marvelous and makes her smile.  What more could a mother want?

She's faced joys and she's faced sorrows. She's picked herself up, brushed herself off, and done her best to move on with her life.  It's a resiliency that inspires me; she is determined not to let the bad guys win. She faces the truth squarely... with the knowledge that she has a husband and parents and a brother who've got her back.

She's loved and she knows it and she lets us know that she does.  She has a happy soul, a soul she is willing to share.  I am so glad to be able to give you glimpses of her here, in The Burrow.  Trust me, the reality .... in person...  when you're around her..... it makes your heart sing.

Happy Birthday, Little Cuter.    

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Melting the Ice in the Rillito

It comes upon us all of a sudden.

One day you're wearing short sleeves and crew socks with your sneakers.  You roll down your car window and listen to the beat of the bass from the Jeep beside you.  The breeze blows your hair into your eyes as you stroll down the driveway to retrieve the morning paper. The air feels warm and smells of spring.

The ground squirrels are out in full force, the babies frolicking on the paddles of the prickly pear cacti. Up and over they go, three of them, faster than the larger one (Mom, perhaps?) watching from the edge of their den.  Carefully, one jumps onto a low lying branch of a palo verde.  There are sharp thorns on those branches, but he doesn't seem to mind.  He's creeping, belly low to the wood, nibbling on the teeny leaves trying to bloom.  I can't stop staring.

The quail have hatched, and Mom and Dad are walking the little ones across the street. It's a residential neighborhood, with no access to anywhere but the neighborhood itself.  Cars are few and far between.  Still, Mom leads the way as Dad patrols the rear.  Back and forth, head twitching, he doesn't leave the far side until the last chick is safe in my yard on the other side.  The babies are three inches tall and their feet move so fast they are nothing but a blur. It's like watching Looney Tunes in real life.

The pool is warm enough to be inviting and the air is cool enough to encourage me to keep moving.  I swim-kick-walk for an hour.  It's not too hot and not too cold.  It's just right.

It lasts about three weeks.

Then, one morning, you wake up to a new world.  There's a blanket of heat weighing down your walk to the paper.  The wind is blowing the air around, but it's not  balmy nor refreshing. Rather, it's more opening-the-oven-to-see-how-the-turkey-is-doing.  You can feel all the degrees on every inch of exposed skin.

Atop the saguaro, the doves are louder and the flowers are beginning to bud.  The cacti don't grow arms until they've lived seventy or eighty or one hundred years; the flowers don't bloom until it's really really hot.

The snakes are out and about, too. The gym and the grocery store and the diner are full of people with stories, though.  The dog, the gardener, the meter reader, the husband and son and babysitter have each had encounters which included shrieks, gasps and shovels.  Rather than face the moral dilemma of killing a being who was on the land well before I ever thought of leaving Marin and joining him in the desert, I choose to avoid the situation entirely. I stay out of the yard in the middle of the day, leaving it to the cold blooded types to enjoy.

I sit inside, iced tea and Kindle close at hand, listening to the weatherman predict when we'll break into triple digits. That's when the ice melts in the dry river bed which passes for the Rillito, the river at the north edge of Tucson.

It's a desert thing.

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Sunny San Francisco Saturday

That's almost an oxymoron.  We awoke in Tiburon, and there was no fog.  We drove across the Golden Gate Bridge and there was no fog.  We picked up Big Cuter and drove to the Marina and there was no fog.  I began to wonder if I was really in Baghdad by the Bay.  Remember Mark Twain's "the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco"?  Saturday put the lie to that.  Big time.  

We sat at the Marina,
on a bench looking out 
 at Marin in the distance
and the Yacht Club
  and the Golden Gate Bridge.
 The old light house is a reminder that we are not the first people to watch ships enter the Bay.
 They might have seen this building,
 or this building, built after the Great Fire, 
but probably not this 1950's modern.
 It's a ritzy neighborhood, with golden doors
but it is San Francisco, so politics is everywhere.
These signs were in all the windows facing the view.
I guess they don't want it spoiled by diners. 
It's hard to argue with that logic, when this is what they see.
There were runners and strollers and puppies and parents and bicyclist, including this kid who won the award for best helmet, ever.
I wanted to see the sculpture exhibit at Crissy Field, so we sent Big Cuter back to retrieve the car.
I'm walking better these days, but not that much better.
We drove under the construction for the new approach to the Golden Gate Bridge
 and drove past the Mark di Suvero masterpieces.

There were eight of them, one more ginormous and intricate than the rest.
We ended our adventure at Smitten Ice Cream, made in a Kelvin with liquid nitrogen and presented in a repurposed storage container.
It was a perfect San Francisco day.

Friday, May 17, 2013


It comes in waves.  The change is not steady, it is not predictable, it is uncertain.  Just when I think that I've made a break-through, that I will be pain-free and fluid-of-gait, I wake up the next morning to find my muscles locked and my hip laughing at my plans.

It makes keeping a smile on my face more of a challenge some days than others.

Between the pool and the vibration platform and the tender ministrations of my PT and my pilates instructors, I had a great day yesterday.  I was able to distribute my weight evenly on my feet, left to right, front to back.  After being reassured that the first few steps were less important than the overall quality of the walk itself, I gave up my disgust at the hitch-in-my-gitty-up as I rose from the couch.  Concentrating on getting the synovial fluid moving in and around my joint, I circled my hip in the socket, rocked back and forth, and strode out.

It felt great.  I pushed off my right foot as my leg found itself further behind my body than it had been in years. Years.... I try not to think about how long it's been and most of the time I am successful.  Every once in a while, though, the reality hits me like a brick.  Yesterday, the weight was not that heavy.

I found my hips on an even plane, centered above my ankles.  My right hip was not hiked up.  My right shoulder was neither in my ear nor reaching for my waist.  I could feel the long vertical muscles in my back engaging as I admired my posture in the window I passed.  I haven't admired my posture in a very long time.  It was a lovely moment.

Curled on the couch as TBG watched Kevin Durant fail to rescue his Oklahoma City teammates from elimination, I finished the Merle Reagle crossword puzzle from last Thursday's paper.  As I rose to recycle the page, I realized that my legs really had been curled up on the couch.  My knees were fully bent and my hips were creased.... folded.... bent.... in a way they had not been for years.  Years.... only this time it made me smile.  I've come a long way.

I've been working on my endurance, on stretching out the length of time I can walk-with-good-form.  I've been able to put together five or six steps for a while; crossing a wide avenue with that gait before the light changes has been something else entirely.  Yesterday, I didn't have to think about it at all.  It was just there.

I summer-ized the irrigation system the way I used to winterize Annabelle, my first car.  I checked for leaks.  Annabelle was a '67 Chevy Impala; she was large, but her parts were all in one place and she required minimal walking for a full assessment.  My irrigation system covers 1.3 acres and cannot be fully seen from any one spot.  I had to walk, and walk I did.

I bent, I sat, I knelt.  I carried the box of goof plugs and scissors from the garage-cum-potting-shed to the leak beneath the lantana, to the spray under the mesquite tree, to the middle of the long length of tubing.  I needed my kneeling pad and I walked back to the shelf to retrieve it.  I crouched beneath the desert willow and moved the emitters out to the edge of the expanding canopy.  I was up and down and leaning forward and sitting backward and notice my hip at all.

It took me a mite longer to stand up than it might have before I was perforated, but that was perfectly okay with me.  I was down there, on the ground, doing the work.  Eighteen months ago that was merely a dream.  Yesterday, I had the dirty hands and sweaty brow to prove that it was real.

This business of retrieving the self which was lost is full of twists and turns.  Though I woke up today with muscle soreness and bone weary tiredness, I have yesterday tucked firmly away for those moments when it all becomes too much.  I've proven to myself that there is hope, that I will get better.

I know I will heal.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Eating Veggies, Prince-Style

Almost everyone at Prince Elementary School eats the lunch that's provided by the cafeteria.
 As the construction on campus proceeds, the offerings become less creative, although the uses to which they are put continue to amaze.  Yes, that is apple sauce being eaten -???- through a straw.  

                                      There are quasi-healthy alternatives, of course.
Mostly, the boxed lunches involve packaging.

 I heard my mother's voice emerging from my lips as I admonished this poor child.  
"Don't use your teeth!!" sounded much harsher than I'd intended, I'm afraid.
I never realized that a small, peeled, baby carrot 
would be frightening 
even when your friend is right by your side. 
 She tried it.... with attitude... but she tried it 
and she kept her eyes open. 
Some were tentative.
Some were not sure what all the fuss was about.
There was generosity,
 and a certain savoir faire alongside a valiant effort to eat just one,
 but mostly there was silliness.
 There was lots
 and lots
 of silliness.
Was it a cigarette (I hope not) or are they sticking out their tongues at me? 
 Who cares?  It was silliness.
 Shyness and silliness and lots of Grandma love,
 even for those who are just about too cool for school.
Of course, there were those who ate the whole thing
 and were proud to share their accomplishment.
Lest you think that I was encouraging play at the expense of nutrition, 
let me assure you that every carrot which went into a mouth was swallowed.
Sometimes, this was followed by a surprised look and a nod of satisfaction.
Another carrot lover was born.
Being the Official Adopted Grandmother of Prince Elementary School has many perks.
Encouraging kids to eat their veggies is just one of them.