Thursday, April 10, 2014

Catching up

I'm working lots of hours on the book, and I can't bring myself to write a real blog post. But once a week or so, I have posted on Facebook, and it occurs to me that you might enjoy one or more of these short items. I have used both photos as my profile picture lately. 

March 19:
Somebody stole my shoes last night. Actually, we saw the guy; he came off the street into the dance studio and pretended to be interested in something. Then he dropped a piece of paper on the floor, and while down there (on the other side of a half-wall) he stuck my athletic shoes in his jacket before leaving.

We tap-dancing ladies were so busy being polite! Sheesh. I had to walk to my car in tap shoes; it was both snowy and slippery but two classmates in real shoes offered a helping hand. I hope somebody out there is making good use of their sturdy new brown suede New Balance athletic shoes. 

March 27:
The kids and grandkids do lots of reading together, recently including Lord of the Rings. Augie applied the story to what he was learning in science class. "The red blood cells are like the Gondorians, defending their home. The bacteria are like the orcs attacking Gondor. The medicine is like the Riders of Rohan coming to the rescue."

A drawing by ViMae
March 11:
At Christmastime, Peter Boehm ("Pa") wears a Santa hat, grows out his white hair and beard, and wears red sweaters. Schoolmates often ask our grandkids whether their grandfather is Santa. Today he handed Vi his iPhone so she could see a photo he'd just taken. Ever curious, she wheeled back through old photos. Suddenly she saw a shot of me holding a pink princess dress...just like the one she got from Santa. She studied it, checking every detail, and then said, "Hmm, I guess Pa really is Santa." Oops. Our explanation: We sent the photo to Santa so he'd know what to bring.

April 7:
Grandkids came back Friday from their spring break trip, and they are still bouncing with joy! They visited a great-grandma and other relatives, climbed to the top of a lighthouse, collected shells on an ocean beach, and discovered that New York has great pizza, bagels, and Chinese food! As they tell us these things, they are jumping up and down and interrupting one another to list more good stuff. And they ran smiling into school this morning. Such fun to be part of their lives.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Better than the alternative...

Last year on this date, I turned 70. That number sounded old to me, but I didn't feel especially old--a good thing, of course.

You've probably figured out that today is my birthday again, 71 this time. This time I do feel older. It's partly because of those two or three falls I took in November, and the two cataract surgeries I had in February. And also this: Now that I can see better, I am much more aware of all my tiny wrinkles. I was thinking that my skin had aged a lot in the last month or so, and I was blaming it on our everlasting winter weather. Then I also noticed more "salt" in my salt-and-pepper hair. I like the effect, but that's beside the point. It isn't the weather...it's the fact that now I can see what's been there for a while.

To avoid falling when walking outside in winter weather, I plant my feet and walk slowly, watching the ground. I think, "Geez, I'm walking like an old lady." Then I remember that I am one. This is real.

In fact, growing old is a gift. My mother would have been a delightful old lady, but she died just before her 64th birthday. It doesn't take much for me to remember that as bad as it may be to grow old, it's better than the alternative.

This morning after breakfast I was sitting on the window seat in the kitchen and two lovely children crawled into my arms. We've been talking about my age. Vi has her eye on a few things she wants to inherit when I die. In the next moment she hastens to say she hopes I live to be 200. I tell her my goal is 90, or maybe 95.

I know, of course, that we don't control these things. Instead, I remind myself to enjoy the moments, the delights, the gifts each day brings. I make a birthday resolution to remain open to the lovely moments of life. Then I go back to writing the book, facing an unrelenting deadline. And then I take another few moments to write a blog post to remind myself, and to share with others, what a lucky woman I am.

Monday, February 24, 2014

I love my right eye, too. Really I do.

Having a second cataract surgery is a lot like having a second child. Or at least it seems that way.

With the first eye, they told me to use drops every four hours (they said 8 a.m., noon, 4 p.m., 8 p.m.). I did that faithfully, although if I slept in on the weekend I just pushed everything a bit later.

With the second eye, I followed that schedule the first day post-op. I think. Since then I've been lucky to use drops three or four times a day, usually prompted by the fact that my eye had begun to bother me. It occurs to me that second children get fewer pictures taken and have fewer milepost entries in their baby books (if indeed they get a baby book). It's not that I don't love my right eye, it's just that the routine isn't so central to my life now.

Meanwhile the schedule for drops in the first eye changed. I couldn't just do both at the same time, because the needs were different. I should have expected that. When the second child comes along, the first always has very different needs and is on a completely different schedule. And sometimes the younger child, or eye, gets along fine while the older one acts up a little. In this case it's nothing serious and the eye drops do help.

The first eye, when I'm wearing glasses, has 20-20 vision. This amazes me. With the second eye, it's too soon for numbers but I know I'm seeing much better than before.

Right after surgery I had to wear sunglasses because my eyes were sensitive to light. Now I am enjoying seeing the clean new snow, the sky and trees and houses in sharp relief, and bright sun flooding over all of it. All the beauty catches my eye many times a day, and each time I am grateful. That's true whether I'm looking through the first-surgery eye or the second. Just as it's true with kids and grandkids.  

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

If you were an eyeball you'd be irritated, too

My first cataract surgery, last week, was both better and worse than I expected.

Happily, the "worse" elements amount to nothing more than temporary discomforts. I was surprised that this minor surgery left me needing extra sleep for several days. I was surprised when my eye clouded up for three days, and again when the doctor told me it wouldn't be fully healed for two weeks or more. Note to self: The fact that you don't even change out of your clothes for this surgery does not mean you won't need to heal from it. 

Meanwhile the "better" element--improved sight--delights me every day. As Peter drove us home after the surgery I noticed immediately that I could read street and highway signs better than I had in years. I can read the newspaper again, something I stopped doing a few weeks ago because it was just too much trouble. I can clearly see the birds at the feeder farthest from the window. Yesterday I noticed, again, that I was easily reading the instructions on my medicated eye drops.

Oh, and there's this: I had assumed that my new glasses would be wildly wrong for my left eye with its newly implanted lens, and that I'd have great difficulty functioning until getting new ones. But the glasses seem near-perfect.

Periodically I play "right eye, left eye," covering one and then the other. I marvel at how poorly I was seeing, and I wonder how awesome things will be when the right eye is done. (And then of course I remind myself that the result could be less than perfect.)

Imagine someone's head in the middle of this picture...
On Saturday night, life played the right eye, left eye game and the result was pretty amusing. Attending a ballet in a poorly designed auditorium, I found my view of the stage bisected by the head of the woman in front of me. To the left of her head, everything was amazingly, wonderfully clear. But because of the angle, action just to the right of her head was visible only to my right eye, and it was blurry. Very blurry. Dancers swirled in and out of focus, crisp one moment and hazy the next. It made me laugh, but best of all it reminded me what a gift clear sight can be, even when you can't quite see center stage. I look forward to getting my right eye done next week.  

...to see ballet as I saw it last weekend.


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