Sleepless at Midnight

I’m not a morning person.

Detail of Stained Glass Window, First Presbyterian Church, Everett, Washington;
photo credit mine

Oh, I appreciate the early morning quiet — the solitude, the peacefulness of taking my first cuppa in holy silence — but it is a rare event. Because sleep is precious and important, and sleep doesn’t come easily to me; it never has. As a child I had many nights where I watched magic numbers on the newfangled digital clock.

  • 10:01
  • 10:10
  • 11:11
  • 11:22
  • 11:33
  • 11:44
  • 11:55
  • 11:59 as it turned to 12:00, the dot moving from the AM to PM position.
  • 12:12
  • 12:21
  • 12:34
  • 12:51 …a mirror image on a digital clock, the colon symbol reversing the image
  • 1:01
  • 1:11
  • 1:23

I didn’t see all those numbers every night, but I often saw at least half of them. It’s not confusing to me why I had so much trouble waking up in time to go to school, although I’m sure it perturbed my father who was the parent at home on those mornings.

Unfortunately, it appears I have passed that trait down to several of my own children.
Sorry, guys! You managed to get many traits from your father, but this is one you got from me.

Thwarted Plans

The Scout left after dinner yesterday to embark upon some social isolation hiking. We knew the state parks were closed, but he was very surprised when he got to his planned starting point and discovered this:

The article I read this afternoon tells me that over 7 MILLION ACRES have been closed — and that’s just in our state. My heart breaks for my son. Hiking is one of the few things he can do; he’s spent much of the past several years in his room, socially isolating because of Post Concussion Syndrome.
Yes, I know we’re supposed to be staying home due to the novel coronavirus and the dangers of COVID-19, and except for “essential” trips away from the house, that is what we are doing. Yesterday I drove him to two different medical appointments; I stayed in the car with my phone and a book while he went in to meet with those new-to-him doctors (all part of trying to find a way to heal from PCS). The doctors have no answers. They cannot explain why The Scout had 6 weeks of reprieve from his symptoms (chronic headache and cognitive impairment) after 3 months of hiking on the PCT last year. Since they have no answers, hiking again is his best chance for regaining his healthy self. Frankly, I see his solo hiking as somewhat essential for his mental and physical health. I do not begrudge him the chance to try again for that relief. He’s already changed plans twice this spring due to park closures (state and national) and the realization that he would be unwelcome visiting small towns for resupply.

I’ll leave you with this picture of him playing in the ocean with his brother 12 years ago on a mostly deserted Virginia beach (because, like today, it was cold and blustery), when no one but a hardy few were willing to get outside and experience the power of nature.

The last word

I’ve been following Teri Carter’s writings for at least two years now. She is intelligent, thoughtful, well-spoken, and tough as nails — and she is calling it quits regarding writing for her hometown paper. I don’t blame her. I’ve been so frustrated by such unthinking vehemence that I generally keep quiet. I don’t have the energy to put into battles with people who won’t listen and won’t think about anything outside their insular and immediate experiences. And I’m sad to lose her voice of reason in our increasingly embittered and dangerous world.

Teri Carter's Library

A letter to the editor and to the community:

I wanted to let you know I have written my last column for this newspaper. There are many reasons for my decision, not the least of which is that the risks finally, after 3 years, outweigh any reward.

In my Jan. 8 column, I asked a hypothetical question about guns and race, a question that has been in the mainstream, national dialogue since Colin Kaepernick first took a knee 1,068 days ago. A hypothetical, by definition, means “imagining a possibility rather than reality.” I have since learned that both law enforcement and the editor of this newspaper took my hypothetical as reality, as an accusation that was neither stated nor intended. A month later, none of these men has asked the one person who knows what she wrote and what she meant. That person is me.

I can take the threatening…

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Back? Thankful Thursday

Since becoming fully ambulatory, I’ve been back to aqua fitness classes at the YMCA. I can’t manage some of the moves because my left ankle is permanently at a 90-degree angle; things like squatting, standing on tiptoes, pointing toes, and jumping just don’t happen but I do what I can.  And since walking is an exercise I enjoy, I’ve also been glad to have a modified shoe with a rocker-bottom that simulates the bending my ankle cannot accomplish.  My neighbor saw me walking today and was surprised to see that I wasn’t limping. I guess the shoe works!

At aqua fitness yesterday, a few of us asked the instructor about additional ways to strengthen our cores. She then modeled several and we tried them out. Apparently I was too enthusiastic with one of them because by the time I had showered and dressed after the class ended, my back was sending pain messages — the kind of pain messages that increased from the parking lot to my own garage.  Thankfully, I had a current Rx for a muscle relaxer (ankle fusion and leg spasms are a fun mix); a single pill plus two glasses of water and an ice pack later, I was no longer quite so bad off — at least as long as the medication was still working. Bedtime routine included additional fluids (not just water), 1000mg of Tylenol and a Benedryl to help me fall asleep.shut up liver, you're fine

Today was a rest day, but I can carefully bend over to put on socks and shoes so I took a walk through the neighborhood. Tomorrow I plan to gingerly return to the pool, taking care to not strain or pull that back muscle again. Yeowch!
I think I know what maneuver did me the disservice of pulling a muscle, so I’ll be avoiding that one.

It’s been a few months…

The writing bug appeared to have moved out and left me to my own devices — and apparently my own devices involve ignoring my blog. Sorry about that (she says in a Canadian accent).

So let’s see: when I last visited with you, The Scout was still hiking– he’s home now. I don’t want to reveal too much for those who will be getting the Christmas letter (you know, the one that hasn’t been written yet), but he hiked about 1,500 miles before deciding he “was good with that” and came home via Greyhound. His 3+ year headache had gone away! Wonderful! Unfortunately, it returned in early November along with the return of decreased brain function the following week. As I type this out, he’s having a difficult day. So we’re back to square one, making appointments with neurology.

Humorous-Juniorous joined the Air Force and spent summer and autumn at Officer Training School. It was such a good course, he did it twice. (He’s very lucky.) We flew down to the southland twice as well: the first time to hit up most of the Civil Rights memorials and museums, and the second time for graduation.  SuperDad commissioned him as a brand-new 2d Lt. just last week.  Since then, H-J has been spending time on airplanes, getting a flight physical, and reporting to his new duty station. He should be home for Christmas.img_20191212_1033329432

The Barefooter has been working for the US Forest Service but that temporary job will soon run out of hours. He likes it well enough — he’s getting paid to walk through the woods (with a vest filled with paint cartridges and measuring equipment in order to mark trees for thinning) — and his schedule has been 2 weeks of steady, daily work in a distant location followed by a week at home.  He’s been sent to a variety of places: South Dakota, Colorado, Oregon, and Arkansas.

It’s been six months + 2 weeks since my ankle fusion. The procedure worked very well and seems to have cut my pain by about 50% which is the best outcome I had been able to expect, so I’m pleased with it.  Unfortunately, I’m already developing arthritis in the first two foot joints downrange from the fused ankle joint. This is to be expected over time (8-20 years) but I might be an overachiever who is going for the “under a decade” mark before those joints also need fusing. Still… I’ve been able to withstand doing more each day that I could during the past year.  My goal is to spend 1.5 to 2 hours in the therapy (exercise) pool, three times each week.  That time is more beneficial and enjoyable than sitting for hours on airplanes.

Five days from right now is Christmas Eve, filled with family and church, candles and choir, excited children and tired adults. Hopefully we’ll get the traditional family picture taken while we’re dressed up and looking spiffy. I might have already written the Christmas letter and sent it out early if we’d managed to get that picture taken after my dad’s memorial service in May (but who am I kidding? — I still wouldn’t have those envelopes addressed).  Per usual, I am not ready for Christmas.  Also per usual, Christmas is coming whether I am ready or not!

May your holidays be sweet and filled with love, and may your time management skills fly high above my own!

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Those pesky unanswered questions

A friend sent me an email recently with a lot of questions. These are things I still haven’t found the answers to:
  • Who Let the Dogs Out?
  • Where’s the beef? 
  • How do you get to Sesame Street?
  • Why do all flavors (colors) in Fruit  Loops taste exactly the same?
  • Why are raw eggs  packaged in a flimsy paper or plastic carton, but batteries are secured in plastic that’s tough as nails? 
  •  Why is “abbreviated” such a long word? 
  • Why is there a D in ‘fridge’ but not in refrigerator?
  • Why is some lemon juice made with artificial flavor yet dish-washing liquid is made with real lemons? t
  • Why do you have to “put your two cents in” but it’s only a “penny for your thoughts” and where’s that extra penny going to?
  • Why do The Alphabet Song and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star have the same tune?
  • Why did you just try to sing those two previous songs? 
  • And just what is Victoria’s Secret?

And suddenly…

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The zucchini we came home to on Friday night was one of the few we’ve been able to grow this year despite wonderfully warm and sunny days but WOW, was it a whopper!

Since I’ve only been walking with crutches for a few weeks, my personal experience of summer is that it just started. — so it was a bit of a shock on Sunday to discover that it was nearly mid-September — although that did explain why it was raining and kind of chilly. Tonight I looked longingly at the wood stove for the first time since early spring, and a glance at the candle holders made it blazingly obvious that I need to find where I hid stored the candles. In other words, it appears that autumn has arrived.

The neighbor’s treetops agree.

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