Sunday, July 30, 2017

Ain’t nothing in the world like a blue eyed girl…

Summer isn’t half over. It must be the band quirk. Practice has begun, and then it will get worse—football!

We were grocery shopping before Laura went to band camp. I came across the kid who has no use for real music snapping her fingers and singing to Jerry Lee on the loudspeaker.

“I thought you didn’t know any music like that,” I teased.

“It’s new!”

“It’s not!”

“Well, it’s a new cover!”

“Whose new cover?”

“Well, it has a good beat! We’re playing it this year.”

“Whose version?”

“You know…’nothing in the world like a long haired girl…’”

Too bad the keyboard doesn’t march.

Friday, July 28, 2017

A note from your doctor

I am at the hub of a good medical system, from admission past discharge. Way back when I had the stroke I went to rehab for a period of time at Akron General’s Health and Wellness Center. Like many hospitals, Akron General absorbed the competition by outperforming them (Akron City), and/or buying them up (Edwin Shaw). All around, new Health and Wellness Centers.

My doctor was the first to move into the Akron General Medical Building near me. I’ve made a bit of a medical mess of myself over the years, and have passed through the emergency room as well as their CAT scan, EMG and more. I took physical therapy there after the stroke, and when I’d frustrated Dana and Rhonda past endurance, I walked a little further down the carpet and joined the gym.

I stuck with the gym program for a fair number of years, and even convinced my sister to join. Eventually I quit going—my first name really should be “Slacker”—but after I broke my arm, I knew I needed to get my core back, and not let a flannel night gown get the best of me again. I engaged a personal trainer, Kristen, and for a year and a half she made me work out one day a week. In fact, I planned to come back from the DC spring break on a Thursday, to make my Friday session with Kristen. 

There is a tiny loophole at the gym. For good cause you can go on “leave” and have monthly dues suspended. I remembered to do that last month. I did need a note from my doctor, who is notoriously non-cooperative on this subject. I got a note from Dana.

A while back Dana mentioned I should work one day a week with Rhonda or her, and a day with Kristen.; I called Kristen. I even got back my old day and time. Only thing left to do was reinstating my membership and paying the gym for Kristen.“But you’re on medical leave!” “I know; take me off.” “We’ll need a note from your doctor.”

Now I understand “face palm.”

I called the doctor. (I needed amused.) “You know Dr. J won’t do that,” Diane, the nurse, said. “I know,” I replied, “but I want to be as ridiculous as the gym, so ask and tell me.”

The next day Diane called. “She said to ask your neurologist.”

Today I explained my Catch 22 or 24 to Dana, who sighed and said she’d talk to the Life Styles lady. When I go for my appointment Monday, I’ll be reinstated and I’ll pay for Kristen, or I don’t know Dana.

Working with Kristen last winter. 

I just had a revelation. Back when I had the stroke, I was frustrated with rehab and left it early. Rehab simply was not happening fast enough. I’m frustrated with rehab with the TBI, too. It isn’t happening fast enough. I do the routines over and over and over, until they show me the door; that’s enough for today.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Nothing to do; all day to do it

Laura is at band camp this week. After an unusual and stressful summer, it's good for her to return to a routine she loves and the friends she loves--The Geeks. Remember when we loved school and homework and friends, and knew we would never be elected homecoming queen.

I've had one thing to do each day this week, plus water the flowers every morning. This afternoon I must take out the trash.

I'm always mentally rearranging the flowers. I love this purple flower. (Lupine?)  I'm thinking I'll spread it out along the entire front of the skirting. Make the bees exponentially happy.

There are weeds my weeder will not part with; they may be milkweed varieties (in her dreams).

Next year I'll plant a row of hollyhocks in front of the purple lupine. 

The sedum is on the verge of blooming. I have another sedum in the full sun, not doing so well. I'll make a decision come fall.

And the butterfly bush just stays happy and pink and blousey.  I need to plant several, to thicken up the group.

So you don't conclude my life is just trash disposal, I generally have one appointment a day to keep. I told Dana and Rhonda it's time to resume balance work. When one of them put me on the rocker board six weeks ago, I think I clawed Rhonda's shirt getting off. Tuesday I kicked the rocker board to the curb and walked the squishy "lily pads" without my cane (which Rhonda would not return!). Since then I generally forget to leave home with it. I think we'll just keep up balancing.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Make haste slowly

In my childhood I distilled that often heard phrase to being deliberate in jobs that parents thought could be done quickly and efficiently. Walking home from school, for example. Stopping to look, play, visit could be fit in easily. Finishing reading, another one. What’s one more chapter.

My sock yarn, scrappy sweater has been on display a couple of times. It is now the epitome of slow haste. Haste in that I once was a speedy knitter. Even when my interest diminished, my fingers remembered, and I could always turn out a pair of socks for someone for Christmas.

Before the brain whack last spring, the sweater was finished, except one sleeve. However, when I showed it off to my knitting group, last meeting before I took granddaughters to DC, I was very unhappy with the ribbing I’d used to finish the neck, bottom and one sleeve. I used a double strand there, too, and it was just too bulky. The “haste” of making haste slowly.

At that meeting I said the ribbing needed done in a single strand, and I occupied myself unraveling the cuff and picking up the working row. But, worse luck, I dropped several stitches at the beginning of knitting, on size 3 needles. Too small and obscure to pick up in the dim light of the restaurant. “Well ladies,” I announced, “I need to go home and find these stitches under good light. See you in two weeks.” I haven't seen them since.

I picked up the sweater, and the stitches, a month ago. Home and Garden TV must be my background entertainment, and the reruns are getting old. Drew and Jonathon are still OK, and so are Chip and Joanna. Tiny homes is still new to me (like I don’t live in a tiny home!), and most of the ribbing has been replaced.

After Laura was roused from bed to model the sweater, I took the last sleeve stitches off the string and put it on a circular needle. I still need to redo the neck, but there is a hope before this winter of someone wearing the sweater.

I know some of you knit this raglan sleeve pullover. Until this sweater, I knit the sleeves when I reached that point in the sweater. I didn’t know what I would do for sleeves on this sweater, and certainly don’t have stitch holders that might work, so I pioneered and found the turkey string to hold the stitches.

Last fall, I think, I was talking sweaters with Ruth, my daughter’s mother-in-law. Ruth gave me some red wool, partially knit into a sweater. Beautiful red red. Serendipity came with it; I looked at a site that has hundreds and hundreds of old patterns. Not cataloged, just a link. Periodically I open a few more links, in my search for an old pullover pattern, with short row shaping. With the red yarn in sight, it was my first hit. I printed it and will make it next.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Problem solving

Today’s class in problem solving was far less valuable than the last. I looked at photos of problems waiting to happen and was asked to offer solutions. One photo was a child, maybe two, who was standing on a cupboard. No visual clue of how he got there, but what did it matter. Name me a child who has not figured out how to get up and get the good stuff and generally get away with it.

I’ve mentioned that more than half the population of Boston Township lives in my mobile home community. The number of children exceeds the number of children in the other school system. Yet the trustees ignore the needs of the community in favor of the rest of the community. Money may be a factor. Or its obvious absence.

There are almost a hundred children here. Laura is the oldest. She rode her bicycle once this summer. The other children on bicycles swarm the pavement. They race and dare and taunt. Or, they help the smaller ones. All in all, it’s a community of kids responsible for themselves, and doing a decent job of it.

Last night there was an over the handle bars accident when a front tire did not clear a hole. The EMS crew was half an hour getting the child on a board and off to the hospital for treatment of his road rash and stitches in his face. Poor child. He is swollen and cut and miserable today. His name is Nicoli, and he is a scamp. I love him.

I stopped at the library and reiterated to my trustee buddy (not you know who!) the number of people here. I told him what happened to Nicoli last night, and how in his family of several children, one parent is off on another assignment and one keeping house and home together. I’m sure Nicoli is riding a third hand me down bike, and there is not an extra penny in that house for a bike helmet.

I suggested that, at the food drive this year, the trustees put a word in the ear of big donors the need for bike helmets. The manager of the “estate” is willing to provide the names and address of the kids in the park old enough to ride a bike. My trustee friend thought it was a good idea. I may call my other trustee buddy, too.

Now, to get the kids to wear them. Since everything is distributed by police, fire and EMT, I think a little ritual at each house with helmets for kids: raise their right hand and solemnly swear to whatever uniformed official who gives them a helmet  to wear it , because they remember what happened to Nicoli.

Nicoli is shirtless. He and his buddy thought I would bust them for trying to climb the tree. I grinned and gave them a thumbs up, and we've been buddies since.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The good, the bad, the ugly this week

I was assessed in speech early in the month, then the lead speech-ist was on vacation for a week, so I got the assessment this week. Those women have the patience of Job. It’s the memory thing again, and their solution is for me to practice remembering something from a five line paragraph, then a slightly longer and a slightly longer and so forth and so on.

In the assessment I did well in regurgitating two concepts, three words, simple stuff. But a five paragraph story that had the reader telling me to remember about ten or fifteen words to repeat later didn’t go well.  Actually, without guilt, I recalled none of them. I find such exercises utter crap, and totally unrelated to what I want to remember. I want to remember important stuff, like what I’ll blog about today, or tell the doctor tomorrow.

The lead assessor said she kept notes on index cards. Fine for her, I suppose. Her assistant posts sticky notes.  I’ll be in the next county and the sticky note at home. It hit me: the notepad on my phone. I didn’t learn to make tabs on it for nothing. That was Monday, and I have opened seven tabs and used five, already.

Under “Blog” I typed a wonderful line about the Brexit talks in Belgium: Europe appeared with stacks of paper. The Brits have coffee and cookies. I also typed a line that cracked me up, but maybe you had to be there. When I showed up at outpatient therapy, long, long ago last May, my right leg was substandard weak and discouraging. I whined and moaned weekly about the state of it. On one of the machines this week I could lift five pounds with it. “Look! Look!” I shouted at Rhonda, the therapist. “Why didn’t you tell me I could do this again, way back when I started?” Rhonda rolled her eyes.  If threatened, yes, they probably told me weekly.

And finally, the scalawag doctor who prescribed the AFO spring release brace for my right foot, and the equally scali orthotist who made the device really are shameful. The American tax payers paid a thousand plus dollars for this brace. The company has “adjusted” the brace three times. In an eyeball to eyeball confrontation this week, the fellow shouted, “We’ve had this discussion before. Yes, your toe drags. Yes, your heel catches. The wrong brace was made.”

I asked how they would make it right. First, someone else had to verify to him that my toe dropped and my heel caught. That would be my physical therapist. “Tell her to call me and I will give her the new script numbers for Medicare to pay for a new brace.”

I am truly disgusted. Dana will call tomorrow and we’ll get the numbers. Of course, I went straight to the internet. There is the exact brace I’m expecting to get. It costs sixty dollars. I ordered a women’s small right. The last thing I will do, when the dust settles, is write a letter to Medicare. This needs reported.

Oh, yes—we got the band uniform today. First practice tomorrow.  Here’s last year’s demo of the uniform. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Community garage sale

My next door neighbor, Cathy, has a storage unit of stuff, and thought a garage sale would be a good thing. Community garage sale, that is. One little sale lost in two hundred homes could just be lost.
She asked management.
It was a good idea, and they would help, with advertising, which amounted to Facebook.
But Cathy was determined, and worked her fingers to the bone with signs and stuff.
(The other side is red!)

 Mr. Next Door, who is moving to Vegas. He's done a garage sale or two in his time. When this lot cleared, he loaded up again. Today he helped get his washer and dryer onto someone's trailer.

Mr. Across the Street. Three tables of his wife's knick knacks, and his truck full of tools.
By this afternoon there was one table of knick nacks, and no tools. Not his first sale, either.

Laura was up and out at seven to help Cathy next Door set up. For orientation, that's my backdoor on the left and Cathy's front door on the right. And her drive way. And, her garage sale.
Laura, taking a break before more set up. The girl in the red top is the middle girl across the street. She's a bit difficult. 

I spent two days keeping Cathy company under the umbrella. I cannot imagine putting together a garage sale. I spent too many years putting a professional booth together and know how much has to be done to draw the public. Cathy did a good job.

The little girl from across the street demanding candy and money from Cathy, who wasted a good deal of time reasoning with her. The next time the demands occurred, Cathy and I were sitting under the umbrella.  I told the young thing not to speak so meanly. "I will if I want!'
"Not where I can hear," responded I.
She huffed across the street to her porch, by the turquoise truck, where we saw her for the rest of yesterday and all of today.

I wondered if it's my wrinkly face or my wrinkly voice that stops youngsters short.
"Or, something they never heard before," volunteered Cathy, who is exactly the age of my daughters.

This little girl was standing near Cathy this morning, and was quick to point me out to Cathy when I came down the back steps to sit with Cathy. Miss Blue Dress is Miss Yesterday's younger sister. My reputation obviously preceded me. She scored the blue dress from another yard saler; the skirt back has torn away. Miss Blue Dress couldn't care less, and we had a grand day chatting.

Rain is forecast for tomorrow, and Cathy is about wiped out. Probably the end until the second annual.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

This week, to date

I took Laura to a 10:30 therapy appointment this morning, with a doctor notoriously late for every appointment.

I asked the receptionist if the doctor was on schedule because I had a 1:30 appointment with the physical therapist, not to be missed. The message was passed on, the doctor said if her ten o’clock got any later, she’d take us, instead. She did. I don’t think the ten o’clock ever showed up. Laura is doing quite well.

I read in the news that young Trump holds two smoking guns, and daddy is reprehensible but not impeachable.

Came home, ate lunch, meandered along to my 1:30 appointment. Jen, the regular receptionist, is on maternity leave. Jen is gold; the three women who replaced her are difficult. When the door was not closed behind me Jen would say “Hi, Joanne. I’ll tell Rhonda you’re here.” These three stare at the screen, have me spell my last name three times. Today the receptionist informed me, “I have you for tomorrow.

The paper schedule is in last week’s trash. No matter. I have tomorrow free, too, except taking Laura to work at the porcelain gallery. I’ll probably go up the road to the library and ask the trustee who works there what the hell is going on. I was in the building Monday to see a professional who works there. I’ve never said a proper good bye to the road guys, so I stopped to do so.

Amazingly the combo to the garage door is unchanged. I heard the guys’ voices, and started in, to be met by she who is always difficult. “What do you want!” “I came to say a proper good bye to the guys,” I chirped, and walked down the hall. They were slumped down in their chairs and neither made eye contact. Obviously bad time, so I backed out and left.

My cane always was too long, but no matter when I used it for a rudder. These days it must be a cane. I attempted to lead Laura down memory lane, alighting on the saw we bought last fall. She was adamant we do not have one, so I sent her to the shed to find it on blind faith. I have not been in the shed since last January, but I’m sure a new lawn mower and a weed wacker could not totally obscure the saw. They didn’t. That job was harder than expected, but done. The cane is bent oak, and a bit tough.

In the mail today I have an offer to update my income, as I have not done since obtaining that credit card, and I would receive a credit increase. That really is funny.

Mr. Next Door recently sold his unit with the lovely red metal roof to Miss Next  Door, who has a lovely big dog named Titus.  Befriending Titus seemed a smart move, so I did. Titus often is outdoors, on a chain, on the other side of the house. Or else he’s half over the sofa in the window across from my bedroom. That makes Toby nuts, and he bounces off walls, howling. Titus rolls his eyes, but refuses to yawn.

Every day it has rained and rained. The grass is still wet and cannot be mowed. Laura doesn’t mind.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

DC camera download

Today I relived my camera of the DC pictures
This is my final word on the topic, saving perhaps the ironic remark in passing.

February, some time, or early March.  Trip planners.

March 25, leaving. Caroline, Gma, Laura

March 26. It was quite cold, and we spent much of the day sightseeing from a bus.

One of many Smithsonian museums.

The Smithsonian has orchids everywhere. 
My orchid still blooms one stalk, annually.
No idea on increasing the output. 
Or, affixing the stick to straighten the stalk.

I wonder how much these pools take in. 
The desire to add a coin seems universal.

Hamilton, disheveled. That's the US Treasury behind him.

The girls are up there, somewhere, craning their necks.

Lincoln. The intrepid pair went.

Cherry blossoms, while I awaited the duo's return.

This is quite the sight. I've seen the sheep dogs in action.

I liked this memorial, to the people of Washington, DC in the great war.

The Jefferson Memorial, across the bay.
We planned to visit after we ate some supper.
So, we got on a bus...

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Heron lost

You know I like herons. We have a rookery near us where the birds begin congregating and building in late winter, February/March. 

We can see them flying, in search of food, when all the chicks are demanding fish. They are a long bird in the sky, feet extended under tail and neck generally in an S shape.

I've read and read about them, and find little more than I already know. They mate for a season. Both parents tend the nest and go in search of food. They live to be about fifteen years old. 

Here's how to tell the difference between male and female:
          The male is taller.
          The male is bigger.
          The third spring, when the heron is mature enough to breed, its legs turn bright orange and the skin around the beak turns a bright blue color. 
          Males' legs are typically slightly darker than females, though from a distance, this distinction may not be visible.

Getting someplace now, aren't we!

We've had a heron at the golf course lake featured in my header since 2014. Four years now. "A heron," as in one. 

A lucky shot in 2014. The most shy heron in the universe. Just stopping the car sent it walking rapidly to the other side of the lake.

This is one of my favorite pictures of the heron. I posted it on the township web site in 2014, titled "Heron gone."

This is the bird's fourth year at the lake. It is alone; there is no other heron. This lake is not where herons nest, although there are sycamores at the back edge.  The heron is now accustomed to golfers and gawkers, not moving from wherever it is seen.

Here it is yesterday, wading and feeding at the edge. I cannot fathom its sex, or it's intentions. How did it wind up here? All the rookeries begin at the next bend in the river, not a mile away. What brings this one to live at a golf course? 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Cognitive dissonance

I’ve added “speech” therapy to my physical therapy schedule. I took speech therapy during my stint at Edwin Shaw, during which time I joked it should be called cognitive therapy. I had no clue those therapists evaluated me and concluded my TBI screamed for cognitive speech therapy. The speech therapists cover the gamut, including swallowing therapy. Anyway…

Back in Edwin Shaw I was subjected to several cognitive therapies that involved variables. I could solve for one variable. I could solve for two variables. Early in the morning I could solve for three variables. I only realized that today.  These are questions to that effect: three friends and their four kids liked to camp. In the end I had to solve for which kid was whose kid; which wife belonged to which husband and which boat belonged to each family.

In the afternoon, these literally made me faint and ill. One Saturday, when all the therapists are the newbies, we started out on these puzzles. We worked our way through one, two and three variables. When the fourth hit the table, I calmly pushed it back and announced I didn’t do these. The young man cocked his pencil and began to solve it. I finally quit watching, just about the time he crumpled it and announced he didn’t do them, either.

The therapist evaluated me today, which included the story of how I acquired a traumatic brain injury. “Well, that accounts for your funky hair cut,” she said, pulling out the damn variable puzzles. I did one, two and three lickety split. She offered a paper and pencil to keep track of the next one. No matter. My brain was in terror and wrapped its fingers around each other, physically. I closed my eyes, but couldn’t stop tears. I know I could not have walked. It was brain terror. It was my reaction to cognitive dissonance.

I remember waking from the massive stroke, seven years ago, my brain stripped of every noun in my vocabulary. I was angry. Mad. I clawed my way back. I wrote nouns I heard in the corridor into my little book, to study on when I was awake. It seems I should be just as angry this time.  I’ve never been frightened into submission.

I set out to tell a different story, and have little idea where it went and how this one came about. I looked in my albums, and found this picture of me, at the end of March, unconscious, while my seventy fourth birthday was stolen.

My hair stylist begs to make all my hair the same length. Absolutely not! Do you see how slowly it grows. I’m unhappy enough to leave it exactly as it is. I may encounter that little, fat, big red bus driver some day.  I’ll show him!

Monday, July 3, 2017

A month without a job

It's maddening to find my feet on a path with no direction, no end, no joy. A friend send me a Flo cartoon: "My train of thought often leaves the station without me." That's my euphemism for "TBI's Suck!"

Laura is in the kitchen making supper. She's playing decent music on her smart phone. She makes meals from recopies on her smart phone. She mixed up weed killer from a smart phone recopie.

In the meantime, Laura mastered her push mower in one evening's lesson, and I've farmed her out to the neighbors. My next door neighbor, Cathy, is no more capable of lawn mowing than am I, so it works out OK. Neither one of us is breaking our contract. Except--we must week wack around the skirt and around the deck, and so forth and so on.

I perused Amazon for weed wackers and found a nice, light one for under a hundred dollars. Now I'm done buying stuff. I did wonder how I would help her figure out how to operate the thing. Weed wackers have never crossed my path. Not to worry. Laura has weed wacked at the old house for the new owner, and that unit is electric, too. And even the same brand. Am I living right, or what!

Pig is so happy!

Happy 4th of July to all. A friend invited us to watch fireworks.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Tempus fugit

Being a teen is complicated these days, and for grandmas, too. Laura got her temporary permit not two weeks ago, and I went online to sign her up for the driver school just down the road. Nina sent her granddaughters there, and OK with me. It was nine hundred dollars for the course, and I began putting in the information.

At the end, when the credit card info went in, the program balked. “Turn off pop up blocker,” it said. I worked down to the pop up blocker, which is on, and that square of information said, basically, if I turned it off, my computer would be flooded with cookies with worms.

I called the company and asked why, since they had such a fine reputation, did they require closing the pop up blocker. “We just do it that way. What browser do you have? I’ll help you turn yours off.” I turned her down, and opted for the school a mile further away. It’s four hundred dollars cheaper, but driving lessons are scheduled separately, so it may be the same in the end. I signed her up for Saturdays, and her July weekends are no longer her own.

Driving Laura to class this morning, I mused aloud that I wondered how much teaching had changed. I could still hear my driver’s ed teacher and turning corners. “Hand over hand, slide through and accelerate.” She joined me, literally on the first word.

“How do you know that?” I demanded.

“I read,” said she.

“You’re going up a hill,” I threw out. “Accelerate. Accelerate. You’re going up a hill!”

Laura does read, voraciously. She reads her telephone. She reads Mr. Google’s recopies for every bite of food that passes our lips. She studied for the temporary test from an app she downloaded. Who am I to question?

I turned her in to the instructor, and left her in a full class of kids. As I walked away, I realized I hadn’t even wished her luck. I turned back, and caught Laura's eye, amidst a sea of faces and back sacks of lunches and pens. That big smile crossed her face. I gave her a thumbs up, and her boat left the dock.