Sunday, January 31, 2010

An Early Sign of My Future Senility

From 1977-1978 our family lived on the military base in China Lake, California, where Craig worked at the Naval Weapons Center. He helped design Sidewinder Missile (I guess it can be mentioned now, even though it was top secret then).

Every week I made a trip to the public library to check out fat novels and return the stack from the previous week. I had this habit of setting the books on top of the car while buckling my baby into his car seat. Then I would grab the books and set them on the front seat. Except for this one time, when I forgot they were up there.

I happily cruised away from the library down Ridgecrest Blvd., the town’s main street, at the 25 mph speed limit. What a grand sight I must have been that sunny day, with the breeze ruffling my hair, and my elbow resting on the fully-open driver's window, looking like I had the world by the tail. Except there was a stack of library books on top of my car.

I turned left into the base and stopped at the guard shack where a handsome young uniform checked my ID. He stared at me intently (was I not the foxiest chick he’d seen all day?) but he never said a word, then waved me into the base. At home in the driveway I got out to unbuckle the baby and my eye caught something on top of the car. For cryin' out loud! I had left the books on top of the car and every one of them was still there just like I had left them! And that guard had said nothing! He hadn't thought I was foxy, just a major idiot. He must have had a jovial time over a beer at the mess hall that night, telling the story of that wacky mom who cruised Ridgecrest with a stack of books on top of her car.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Ups & Downs of Bunion Surgery

My Mom had her first bunion surgery when I was in about the 6th grade (1966). She had been in misery foot-wise for decades. I remember her struggle with those old-fashioned wooden crutches and the hideousness of her feet with their new set of personal railroad tracks. My strongest memory though is the way she guarded her feet like they were Fort Knox. Whether she was walking or sitting we kids could only get so close before she shooed us away. Apparently the pain was so extreme that she couldn't tolerate the thought of her feet being stepped on by her little darlins, even after a few months had passed. 

So, I swore I'd never do bunion surgery, never go under the knife for the sake of painful bunions. Over the years mine enlarged and I discovered new ways to lesson the misery of being on my feet. Sensible nannie shoes, when I could find them, were a lifesaver. Until that didn't work anymore. When my bunions progressed I started stretching the nannie shoes to fit, and then when they got bigger I put layers of cushioned bandaids and moleskin and even foam padding over the bunions.  When that was no longer enough, I looked into the very surgery I once resolved never to have.

And here I am 8 weeks post-radical bunion surgery. It's been a slow, sometimes tough recovery, marked by milestones of relief. After two weeks the pain went from all-consuming to very manageable. On Christmas Eve, the most special gift was taking my first shower in five weeks. Sitting in a camp chair while the hot water ran over me was heavenly.

At the almost seven-week point I hit bottom. My foot was swelling badly from edema so walking without crutches was not even on the radar. Finally the doc recommended physical therapy and I broke down in the PT's office. Then I came home and promptly tumbled down the stairs. Thinking I had broken my healing foot, I laid at the bottom wailing in my own personal pity party. 

Diligently employing physical therapy has been the greatest thing though. To know I have the power to help my foot helps me see the end of the road. The PT gave me a pressure sock that fits tightly on my foot and it feels wonderful while holding down the swelling. I have labored diligently in PT even though some of the exercises give me the willies (like massaging the scar tissue--hard). On Thursday I experienced the most wonderful thing--she showed me how to make my right foot take walking steps again. And now I can put weight on that foot and even stand without crutches for a while. My foot looks more normal instead of like an inflated balloon, and on Thursday I was able to put a shoe on it for the first time in two months.

But you know the biggest plus of all?  That ugly knobby painful bunion is gone forever!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Book Harvest 2009

 Most of the books I read this year were recommended by someone else--either Bridget, Craig, The Oregonian, or Book Group.  There were only a few disappointments.  The lineup of fiction and non-fiction was 10 fiction to 16 non-fiction, which is more fiction than the usual for me. 

The bin Ladens (Coll)--NF; delves into ObL's extended family and points out that ObL is an outcast in certain parts of his own family; a newer book called Growing Up bin Laden is on my list for this year

Lone Survivor (Luttrell)--NF; you couldn't make up a thrilling yet tragic book like this but be warned about language

Found--F; strange tale of a plane full of babies; intriguing but weird at the same time

Red Sky in Mourning (Ashcraft)--almost pointless NF story about a man lost at sea in a storm, written by his surviving wife; it should have been shorter; don't confuse w/ an excellent coming of age story called Red Sky at Morning

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society (Shaffer)--F; loved it and wish there was a sequel

The Hunger Games (Collins)--F; imaginative, suspenseful and well-written work about a society that annually sends two of its teenagers to a gladiator-style exhibition; stand alone first-in-a-series

Mornings on Horseback (McCullough)--NF; who knew Teddy Roosevelt became the accomplished person he did against such great odds?

A Long Way From Home (Brokaw)--NF; Tom Brokaw's youth; I say he was meant to achieve great things

Follow Me Down (Foote)--F; Civil War historian Shelby Foote's novel about nothing; I didn't care for it much

Shiloh (Foote)--F; Foote is in his element here when he describes a scene of dead and wounded as barrels of God's creation mistakes dumped out onto the battlefield [he says it more eloquently]

Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times (Brands)--NF; re: T. Roosevelt above; who knew a man with a lousy life could take care of our national business?

A. Lincoln (White)--NF; what doesn't he say about honest Abe?  Didn't know he abhorred slavery from childhood

Ablaze (Read)--NF; as bad as Chernobyl was, we're lucky it wasn't worse; can thank some who gave their lives to get the plant under control

In Plain Sight (Smart)--NF; Elizabeth Smart story thoroughly covered by her uncle

Firelover (Wambaugh)--NF; fire department arson specialist who creates his own job security, if you get my drift

Massacre at Mountain Meadows (Walker)--NF; no agenda or whitewashing here; it's the real deal

The Dark is Rising (Cooper)--F; this was on a list of must-reads so I obeyed and read it; in the light of some of the good juvenile literature we've seen the past decade it pales because it's too far-fetched and hard to follow

The Shack (Young)--F; popular fiction that's too weird for my tastes

The Worst Hard Time (Egan)--NF; Depression dust bowl 101; itwas shocking to me to read how much that area suffered--I just didn't know

A Matter of Chastity (Yocom)--NF; chronicle of a young woman who committed murder to avenge her rape over 100 years ago

Sarah's Key (DeRosnay)--F; ok fast read involving the Holocaust in France, but too manipulative and contrived

Three Weeks in October (Moose)--NF; Charles Moose, former PDX police chief writes about the Washington DC sniper he dealt with as Montgomery County MD police chief

Sudden Sea (Rossi)--NF; 1938 New England hurricane which made landfall without warning as a category 5; people peacefully eating lunch on their sunny terrace were drowned in 25 feet of water a few hours later

The Princess Academy (Hale)--F; great YA story about a young woman who wanted 'more' than to be a princess

Skeletons on the Zahara (King)--NF; amazing story of survival by sailors shipwrecked on the African coast

Catching Fire (Collins)--F; sequel to The Hunger Games . . . leaves you hanging and the third book doesn't come out until August!