Sunday, March 28, 2010

Late March Update

Ah, the world keeps on going even if I'm not blogging. How can that be? Am I to believe all that stuff out there isn't revolving around ME?

Yeah, well I learned long ago that life goes on without any one of us. It is a discovery that diminishes as it frees.

While the world turned and turned I've been chugging along.

I turned sixty-three again. This time it is official and not a mistake in my arithmetic.

Himself and myself did two volunteer days for the state of Oregon "Whale Watching Spoken Here" spring gray whale migration. We've volunteered for a decade or more and this may have been our last "officially signed up" duty. My aging bones dislike the prospect of three hours outside in the Northern-Pacific coast weather. At Cape Blanco in December (winter migration) and March (spring migration) temperatures of low to mid-40's is about as good as it gets. Wind is a constant. Rain, sleet, hail always possible. There is no shelter and, worst of all, no bathroom nearby. This seems like a job for someone younger and more devoted. We'll still watch whales, but on our own time and on SUNNY days from here on.

I made two more KIVA loans - one to Palestine and the other to Guatemala. That brings my total to ten: four completely repaid, four partially repaid, and two new. It is a joy knowing that a small piece of the richness of my life can make a difference to someone else in the world. I recommend it to anyone feeling that life is a burden rather than a gift.

Yesterday I saw the first of our Oregon coast wild rhododendrons in bloom. That is a sight to cheer the heart. Especially since the weather has turned back to winter for a few more days. So much for getting the lawn (can you call knee-high grass a lawn?) mowed!

Saturday, March 20, 2010


The yearly event of my birthday is bearing down upon me like a runaway freight train. I'm soon sue for sixty-third birthday umber two. With that date life becomes fraught with careful questioning or outright grilling in the "what would you like for your birthday?" mode. Minefield ahead!

Kids have no difficulty with this problem once they reach the age of awareness that birthdays = presents. Their list becomes specific and long. Children eagerly anticipate the cake and candles and gifts to open and supply everyone with their requirements, then uttering loud critiques of mistakes like socks and underwear.

At my age birthdays are less anticipated than before, and somewhat of a relief when attained. Gifts come with responsibility since one is obliged to reciprocate. I love giving presents but find it difficult to shop because of mobility and fiduciary limitations. The presents that friends can afford to exchange are, at our age, often things we've already purchased for ourselves. And those too often fit into the "thought I wanted it but really... not so much" category.

So, what would you like for your birthday, Martha?

I want to be remembered. I cherish a card, or at least the current equivalent, an email.

I would like time, whenever possible, with you - one on one if we can manage it. The moments I have with each of the people in my heart are the most precious thing I can have.

Things? They are lovely. Opening bright paper and bows is fun. But I'd much rather share a cup of tea and a hug, lunch out and conversation, an afternoon of relping and chit-chat. I cherish sitting beside a pal and watching the ocean and nibbling an ice cream bar, or a long talk on the phone as we catch up with each other's lives. These are things I'm given sans birthday, thank goodness. Just keep doing what you've been doing until maybe, someday, I can believe I'm worthy of it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


I dreamed last night that I sold the house and property where Himself and I live and we moved to a small home in a small town, somewhere golden and safe and very Mayberry, RFD. That town exists only in the rural American dream, somewhere lodged in a collective fantasy of the national past. A fantasy perhaps, but a wonderful illusion of security and happiness.

The dream is probably my wish for that idyllic life. I was a "latch-key" kid. My father, in the Navy, was gone for months at a time. Mother worked full time as a nurse. My childhood held no hot oatmeal breakfasts or homecomings to warm chocolate-chip cookies. The alone hours held books to keep me company but the echoing of loneliness was a steady companion and the fear of aloneness an ache I tried not to heed. Locked inside the house looked safe but never felt that way.

The fear, the feeling of threat, was easier to hold off during those years between school and seniorhood. I assumed control over my life, implemented changes and decisions with an appearance of confidence. As I've aged control over things has gotten trickier, my hold on the reins of my life less sure. The facade is slipping, the fear gaining strength, and the wish for safety slips back into dreams where it cannot be ignored.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Bout de Gout

I've been avoiding writing a follow-up to GOUT because:

1) it hurts to sit at my computer, and

2) the language necessary should not be seen in print.

a possible #3 - wanting to spare readers the weeping and wailing - doesn't really apply since you can stop reading, feel lucky NOT to be experiencing gout, or feel infinitely superior in coping with your own pain so bravely.

Gout is nasty, awful, horrible stuff. The foot hurts constantly and at times even the movement of air over it increases the misery. Walking is difficult and involves a longshoreman's vocabulary. I'm getting good use of certain common four-letter expletives in combination with a phenomenal repertoire of grunts, gasps, and moans interspersed with abject weeping and the occasional outright scream. Imagine a red-hot coal lodged inside your foot. The walking required for a trip to and from the bathroom turns the flame heat to white and when back to sitting the coal retaliates by sensing lava upward to the knee. It is amazing the carpet in my house isn't scorched.

Visiting a doctor is really low on my list of things to do so thus far I've relied on OTC and folk remedies. I'm gobbling NSAIDs and vitamin C to reduce inflammation, alternating cold and hot packs to lower swelling and increase circulation. drinking more water and black cherry juice. There is a list of foods to avoid, most of which I seldom consume anyway. Himself read online that drinking vinegar helped, but he also read that taking baking soda helped. I have ignored that method since it seems it would result in an explosion!

It used to be said that gout was the "rich man's disease". I'm feeling somewhat cheated in THAT respect, being neither male nor rich. I think it was rich food, especially a high meat diet that gave rise to that idea... but someone I know recently mentioned a friend who is a vegetarian with gout. It is some, not much, consolation to know that 95% of sufferers are men, and that only 1% of the western population gets gout. Gee, I'm certainly lucky to find myself in such a rarified group.

Monday, March 8, 2010


From Google/Health:

Symptoms of acute gouty attacks:

  • Symptoms develop suddenly and usually involve only one or a few joints. The big toe, knee, or ankle joints are most often affected.
  • The pain frequently starts during the night and is often described as throbbing, crushing, or excruciating.
  • The joint appears warm and red. It is usually very tender (it hurts to lay a sheet or blanket over it).
  • There may be a fever.
  • The attack may go away in several days, but may return from time to time. Additional attacks usually last longer.

After a first gouty attack, people will have no symptoms. Some people will go months or even years between gouty attacks.

Gee, I have progressed to the 1% of the western population who will develop gout. I had an initial attack several years ago and can heartily concur with the term "excruciating". Attack number two arrived several days ago, less painful overall that the first but not something I suggest you rush out to sign up for.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Oregon AM (the sequel)

I was still sitting on the porch, "thinking hard" (my explanation for the state of blankness caused by searching my brain for story ideas) when the treefrog added a further development to our earlier interaction. Himself, who is a late riser, had just assumed vertical and stumbled out to make his morning greetings and from inside the house I hear, "There's a frog in the kitchen."

Not the sort of thing you generally hear in the morning, is it? Frog had used the reviving warmth of my hands to explore and sneak under the screendoor into the house.

From the porch I holler an explanation and a "Get him!", and hear a scuffle. Frog has warmed sufficiently to make catching him a contest.

Himself emerges victorious, thankfully before Flick-the-Cat launched herself into the game. He offers me the frog, but I decline (graciously) and suggest frog be relocated to a spot behind the house where there is plenty of greenery for concealment.

Add frog to the list of snakes, lizards, bats, and multitudinous forms of insect life that have found their way into our country home - and been escorted out.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Oregon Morning

The sun this morning is out, sort of. There are enough thin clouds that the warmth from the old ball of fire isn't much so the decision to take my coffee to the porch required a level of bundling up. Our weather necessitates the well layered look. It is always "just a little too..." as in a little too warm or a little too cold for whatever one is wearing. If you are planning to move about (I wasn't!) you will want to remove clothes for working or hiking in the sun and quickly add them back on for any sit down in the shade. If there is a breeze the computations for correct cladding require a doctorate in mathematics.

The SixtyUp contingent has learned to provide. I keep a variety of jackets, sweaters, and shirts of varying degrees of coziness on hooks near the door. It is a well-used skill assessing which and how many to don before venturing forth. My choice, over a cotton blouse, was a flannel shirt and a sweat-jacket, which turned out to be more than I needed after all. Off with the top layer! That resulted in a bit too cool, but doable.

The morning sounds are wonderful. Our rooster provided an aria worthy of any of The Three Tenors. His echo returned once, twice, and seemed to encourage him to sing along with himself as the rooster next door was not warbling along. There are always chirps and singing from the birds going to and from the feeder but I'm not clever enough to recognize most of them by voice alone. Up on the hill the bull serenades his girlfriends. It is surprising how much an amorous bovine sounds like the donkeys in kid's cartoons.

I sat and sipped my coffee, thinking about all the work that needs to be done and how little I am able to do. The arthritis is bad enough but this week I am also in the midst of an attack of gout and therefore hobbling even worse than usual. So I sat. And sipped. And noticed I was in the company of a tiny treefrog. Such incredible little creatures! This one was about the size of the end joint of my index finger, bright green with golden eyes bearing a vivid black stripe through them.

Without thinking I picked him up to examine him more closely. It being cold out and he being an amphibian, he was easy to pick up. After a moment or two of face-to-face he warmed up and decided to leave, whereupon I got the what-have-I-done guilts. He'd had a good hiding place under the edge of a piece of wood and now, slightly warmed he is exposed to danger on the ground and probably rapidly cooling and likely to become torpid again. Is the cat around? Will the ever-present jays think him a tasty meal? And the lesson for me is: Don't interfere, Leave it alone! It is hard enough to know that life passes and such magical little things die all the time. Better for me if I don't insert myself into the action.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Catching Up

I've received several complaints about my dearth of blogging. Such focus as I have has been wandering off to light here and there among my relping, writing, and reading, leaving the SixtyUp to flounder for a change. It is a sad fact of aging that I can do this, or that, but seldom am equal to this AND that.

The aforementioned focus sauntered outside in the sun(!) today to survey Himself's demolition of what we called "the carport/rat room". My last post had a picture of the overall Whoomp results and I thought today I'd post a progress report. Viewed from the house there seems to have been very little change despite several hours a day of banging and crashing that emanates from where Himself is wielding his trusty crowbar. I'm a coward and a pessimist and so refuse to watch fearing a pancaking of lumber with Himself at the bottom. He simply asks that if it gets too quiet out there that I call 911.

A close up look at the structure we termed "rat room" shows headway being made however. Where walls were, walls aren't. Little remains to support the roof, though as yet it hasn't succumbed to gravity. Having begun the process I long for it to be done. Yesterday. Patience is being practiced and I see sore muscles ahead keeping my grin going.

(Himself is visible in the picture if you know where to look!)