Sunday, July 03, 2011
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it still doesn't explain everything. I mean, it's complicated.
Day #3 is supposed to be "A picture of your inspiration for weight loss."
At first, I thought this is the one to post:
In some ways, my inspiration is born from hoping to avoid the complications of some major health issues - hypertension and diabetes being the two biggies in my case - which you might say boils down to fear. I'm afraid of courting disaster by not trying to do everything I can to get healthier.
In my SparkPage introduction I've written "I have a very worthwhile goal - I want to be healthy the rest of my life."
I could say I wish I'd started thinking about it and working at it when I was younger, but regardless, better late than never applies here as much as it does anyplace.
So in an effort to see the glass as half-full, I thought this is the better picture to illustrate my inspiration to lose weight:
As I said in another of my blogs, I'm not perfect. I don't always make the wise choice, the right choice. But my awareness level has certainly been raised, and I make the right choices a lot more often than I used to.
So rather than fleeing from bad health out of fear, I'd prefer to think I'm running toward good health because I want to. My inspiration for eating right, exercising, and looking after myself is the desire to live a healthy life.
So that's it from me. You wouldn't believe how long I had to struggle to put that together. Sometimes the words come easily, and sometimes they don't, lol...
Goodnight, Sparklers, wherever you are!
Saturday, July 02, 2011
The second assignment is: "A picture of you and the person you have been closest with the longest."
Now, that's an interesting one. What I would've liked to have done is use a picture of me with my brother. Sadly, he died nearly forty years ago.
My best friend from school days is still very much a friend, and we communicate fairly often. But there's a long - quite long! - gap from about '77 until maybe five years ago, so while there were the usual annual exchanges (birthdays, Christmas cards) and the occasional phone call during the 'gap years,' we aren't nearly as close as we were way back when.
There's a time I would've used a photo of me with my first husband - I've known him since we were six. Alas, we split up in '95 and it's been bitter acrimony ever since.
That's a long-winded way of saying 'closest' doesn't work so well with 'longest,' in some respects.
But there is one person who has been a constant fixture in my life for... I had to get out a calculator. For nearly 35 years.
In the mid-'70s I worked at a college, academic secretary for the English department. A student was assigned to me for work-study, more or less an office go-fer. Nominally titled 'Student Secretary,' she ultimately did nearly every job going, including hanging out of my 3rd-story office window to clean the outside. I think I paled visibly when I came down the hall, waltzed into the office, and saw her feet dangling off the floor as she leaned backward to get just a little more of the window clean - scared me to death.
I wasn't all that much older than the undergraduate students, and she was in her sophomore year, so there's a little less than five years' difference in our ages. For some reason, we clicked. Jane became the sister I never had.
She's seen me thru a 'big' wedding, the births of two children, the horrible divorce, and marriage number two. I've seen her thru graduation, post-grad degrees, and an incredible job - she works at a school for deaf students, and is so fluent in ASL she's a joy to watch.
She's met my parents, my extended family, and become a surrogate aunt to my children. I've been with her thru major surgery, several boyfriends - two of them serious and near-contenders for becoming husbands - the trials of her parents' health, and the ups and downs of her four siblings.
Come to think of it, I don't know that we've ever had a cross word. That strikes me as pretty amazing - I can be a real grump. Not that you'd notice or anything, lol.
So meet my friend Jane:
The last two pictures are from my son's wedding. After he was born, Jane took care of him for a couple weeks when I went back to work - he was about 8 months old at the time - and has been his best grown-up friend ever since. 'Miss Jane' is as much a part of his life as she is of mine.
Next year is in the works to be a big year for me. I'm turning 60, and I hope to make it the biggest year-long celebration I can manage. I'm planning to take a cruise - never been on one before - and I've asked Jane to go with. I don't know if Himself is going or not, finances being what they are, but truth be told, I'd rather it was just 'us girls.' He hates shopping, lol.
* * *
Now, on a different note: the viewing went fairly well, a young couple who spent more time here than any of the other people have. I wasn't kidding when I said I'm not holding my breath. Que sera, sera. These things have a way of working out, ain't?
Today's been sunny for the most part, and the temps are coming up - finally. I haven't looked at tomorrow's forecast. Sometimes I like surprises. I'm hoping it will be almost hot, with scads of sunshine, and if it is, I'm going for a long walk outdoors. Maybe two walks. No holiday on Monday for us, but then, every day's a holiday when you're retired. Thinks me.
Goodnight, Sparklers, wherever you are!
Friday, July 01, 2011
The other day one of the members of the WeBlog team posted a suggestion she'd read for 'photo blogs.' Each day you post a different picture and blog about it. Some are personal pix, some are things like places you'd like to visit or a favorite movie star, etc.
Day 1 is: A recent picture of yourself with ten facts about you.
I know you've seen this one recently (hah) but the only other time we've had the camera out has been the trip last week to Beeston Castle and for once (!) Himself didn't get a shot of me. At least, not that I know of.
At any rate, here's the previous one for those of you who missed it. (Not that you were missing much.)
Oh, while I was pulling that one up, I saw this one. It's from back in February, bit of a cliche headshot, but it's relatively recent. I guess.
Ten facts about me. (Does 'I don't like having my picture taken' count? lol)
1) I was born in upstate New York, not far from the Canadian border. My parents moved to Baltimore when I was about 2-1/2.
2) When I was born I had four great-grandparents living - and one of them was still around when I was 16.
3) By the time I was in elementary school my parents had moved out of the city and bought a small farm - I grew up in a log house.
4) I've had three shots at college - and still don't have any kind of degree.
5) My apple pie recipe won first prize in a county cook-off.
6) I don't know how to swim, but I've got it on my bucket list.
7) I didn't get my driver's license until I was 40.
8) When I was a kid I took (wait for it) - accordion lessons.
9) I still don't have my ears pierced - but I'm THINKING about it!
10) I'm a Lifetime Member of the GSUSA.
Whew - I wasn't sure I could come up with ten, lol...
Goodnight, Sparklers, wherever you are!
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Someone is coming to view the house on Saturday. (Don't hold your breath - I'm not, haha.) Himself is still having the PITN (pain in the neck) problem so I forbade him to go around moving stuff and pushing the vacuum and - dare I say it - working outside. I told him if it doesn't rain tomorrow,* I'll catch up on some of the outdoor chores and in the meantime, I've done inside stuff today.
*Because of course while the sky was bluer'n blue when I got up, by 8:30 it was pouring. Gee. You'd almost think it rains a lot in England.
Bedrooms are done - that's just dust 'n' tidy, really. Bathrooms are tomorrow. Main areas are Saturday morning: they don't need much, but I figure those are the rooms we'll be using the most between now and the viewing, so I'll give them a last-minute going over. I spent the most time in the kitchen.
Years ago Spouse #1 and I bought a 1901 farmhouse. It was a great place, but it was a real fixer-upper. Being young and healthy (and broke) we practiced quite a bit of DIY. I learned a lot.
1) No, you don't need to steam and scrape the wallpaper off the ceiling. It'll cost you three days x two people + untold wallpaper scraper blades. And no one will ever notice.
2) Yes, you can too do the plumbing and wiring - IF you're very careful and painstaking. You won't get it done as fast or efficiently as the professionals, but it'll look fine when you're done, and moreover, it'll work.
3) They're called 'primer coats' for a reason. Don't try to cut corners by leaving them off.
And inevitably, you will run into what we came to call The Mushroom Factor. Permit me to explain.
There was a large water-stain on the living room ceiling. You might be able to guess that it was directly under the bathroom - the only bathroom: it was therefore crucial to our existence.
The downstairs ceilings were something like 9' high, so we decided to postpone doing anything about the water-stain. Maybe one day we would put in a half-bath downstairs, then we could take the 'real' bathroom out of commmission for a few days and redo it.
That was the plan - until one night after we'd gone to bed we heard a tremendous crash from downstairs. The kids slept thru it, but we raced down to discover a large chunk (maybe as much as a quarter in all) of the living room ceiling plaster had fallen. Hmmm.
In fact, I found a picture on the 'net. It looked a lot like this:
[Is this more than you wanted to know? If it is, speak up now, lol.]
The next morning we cleared away the plaster debris all over and climbed up to check the lath. It was damp, but basically sound. Looked a lot like that picture too, where someone had put pieces in and moved slats around, probably when the bathroom was installed. (When it was built, the house didn't have a bathroom.)
The keys - you know, the old brown coarse horsehair plaster - had gotten kind of crumbly and half-dissolved tho. Okay, we thought maybe the caulk around the bathtub was letting water thru, so that was letting the bathroom floor get wet which in turn led to the ceiling lath getting wet - well, you get the idea.
So we went upstairs and carefully took up a few of the old floor tiles along the bathtub. Interesting. Underneath was fairly dry. We started prying more up, one by one, until we struck 'damp.' Then we followed a trail that got progressively wetter...
It wasn't a big bathroom, but prying up old tiles that had been glued down in the 1950s isn't something you want to do anymore than you need to.
As it turned out, the leak was the toilet. The old wax seal where the toilet flushes into the large pipe (sewer pipe? outlet? you know what I mean) was more or less gone. We'd been blithely flushing water (it doesn't bear thinking) under the bathroom tiles and into the living room ceiling.
Before all was said and done, we had to get a new outlet pipe, take up the old wooden floor and some of the lath around the toilet, replace all that, and reseat the toilet with a new seal. Then put down a new (vinyl) floor. THEN go back downstairs and tackle the ceiling.
That's the mushroom factor: you start one project, only to find three others sprout up, and they have to be addressed before you can do the job you set out to do. And somewhere in amongst them, you will discover yet more mushrooms that need to be finished before you can do the one you need to do to do the one you set out to do - The House That Jack Built.
Back to the kitchen - that's today, you keeping up here?
It looked as tho some of the cupboard doors (yeah, I hear you laughing: SOME of the cupboard doors? when have you ever seen 'one' dirty cupboard door? and when have you ever been able to clean ONE and not have to clean the rest, now that they look even dirtier by comparison? but I digress) could use a quick scrub.
Our trash can is in a funny little cupboard - this being a brilliant idea of Himself's, which it is - where you pull the bin open, the lid automatically lifts up, drop in the garbage and voila, out of sight, out of mind. No smell, either.
I cleaned the front of that cupboard and thought the front edge looked a little messy. I opened the bin in order to get the entire edge... uh oh. Wonder when's the last time I cleaned the lid of this thing?
Cleaned that and thought, wow, didn't realize there was that much crud on it. It looks almost lighter in color! Makes the sides look pretty dingy.
Okay, by the time I was done, the cupboards, the appliances, the countertops, and the floor sparkled. I'm bushed.
Sunday is my weigh-in day, and by golly, if I haven't lost some weight THIS week, I will be madder 'n an October hornet. But it's really gratifying to have a super-clean kitchen. Himself has to take me out to dinner tomorrow - no way am I messing it up before Saturday, lol...
Goodnight, Sparklers, wherever you are!
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Some time back, I said that I was reading a book written by a high-school classmate, and that I would blog about it when I was finished. I've since reread it several times. It's ...well, it's quite a story. Quite an autobiography. It's called "The Glass Between Us."
I wonder if the phrase 'life-changing event' has been cheapened through overuse, because if ever it applied, it would seem to me it applies to Eileen and what she's gone through.
Nearly ten years ago, my old friend was in a horrendous car accident, hit almost head-on by a driver whose attention wandered. Eileen was alone in her car - and so badly injured the Shock-Trauma team weren't sure she'd survive.
In a coma, her life hanging in the balance, she had a vision: her mother, who had died years before, came to her and told Eileen she had to 'go back; you still have too much work to do.' And so began a journey from the deepest abyss, eventually reaching a summit built on hope and love.
Eileen lost her life that day, but not physically. Her body recovered, for the most part. She can walk, she swims, she regained the use of an arm that was nearly severed, has achieved near-total recovery of her senses. But the brain injury she received as a result of the accident took away much of her memory and severely affected her mental faculties. Her 'old' life is gone forever.
With the help of her loving husband and the support of their two children (then in their 20s) - and her abiding faith in God - she has been able to put many of the pieces back together. Her courage is inestimable. So many times she could have given up, but didn't.
Before the accident, Eileen was a brilliant accountant, skilled, insightful, hard-working in the extreme. She struggles now to do complex mathematics; she hasn't been able to return to her old profession - another part of the life she lost.
You know the saying 'God never closes a door but what He opens a window'? The 'window' opened in Eileen's life gave her another chance. Ultimately, she has gone back to school, attending classes at a local community college, and currently maintains a 4.0 GPA as she works toward a degree in English.
Early on in her recovery she began to record what she was going through. She struggled to recapture memories, outlining flashes of recall and filling in details recounted by her husband and family as well as the medical staff who attended her. She has spent the last several years making her story into the book.
When Eileen told me she was working on this I didn't know what to expect. Perhaps it was good that I didn't have any preconceived notions. There are parts that are so disturbing they are difficult to read. There are other events - especially during the time she was 're-learning' navigating in public - that made me laugh out loud.
I'm not sure she realizes how incredible she is, how remarkable her strength, her courage, her resolute determination to fulfill her responsibility - the mission her mother gave her, that she still had 'too much work to do.'
Eileen has a large heart, filled with gratitude: in an effort to give back to a community that gave her so much, she now co-manages a brain-injury support group. All her hard work culminated in an invitation to address an annual educational conference of the Brain Injury Association of Maryland.
An honor in itself, it was something Eileen said during her presentation that remains my abiding image of how she sees herself:
"I listed for my audience all the gifts with injury that I have received. That was how I illustrated that I am better with a brain injury than without and that I would not trade my disability for anything."
She concludes her book by writing "If success is measured in self-confidence, happiness, and satisfaction, then I have achieved it. I began my journey to healing over nine years ago, full of anger, resentment, and grief. Today, the many blessings that are mine because of the brain injury bring me incredible joy."
It's so easy to talk about challenges
Hers is a resilient spirit, bending, but not breaking, under what could have been crushing adversity. I admire her not just for what she has overcome, but because she has had the fortitude to record it, and share it, and let others experience vicariously the incredible journey she's been on.
[When I wrote this, I had omitted the picture of the cover and even the title of her book, as I don't want to seem as though I'm trying to 'advertise' it in some way. But to delete it seems a disservice to Eileen, who has so openly shared her story, so - I included it, after all.]
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