OOPS! I’ve done it again…..

A few days ago, I fell, this time off the end of my driveway!  It’s easy to forget about the little  drop  off that decorates all of the driveways in this park, but if you do, it is at your own peril!

I popped open the trunk in order to retrieve my groceries.  Having pressed the OPEN  button, I instinctively stepped back wards, in order to accommodate the swing of the hatch.  THAT apparently was my most grievous error.

My heels registered the edge of the drop, but my brain did not.  WHAM!  Down I went, not just onto my butt, but the velocity of my tumble pushed me onto my back and head.  Momentarily stunned, it was several seconds before I uttered some coarse descriptors.

Apparently my strenuous verbal offerings drew the attention of  nearby neighbors.  A small clutch of concerned folk rushed over, repeatedly asking me if I was okay.  Within minutes the panel had decided that a call to 911 was warranted.  It seemed to me that within seconds a fire truck appeared!  I was able to explain to the paramedics that I was uninjured, but nevertheless I was assured that an ambulance was on its way.  Again, I protested, saying that I was NOT in need of a hospital, so they reluctantly cancelled the ambulance.  The paramedics handed me a disposable cold pack, in case my head hurt.

After all the assembled folks had wandered off to resume their afternoon duties, I became aware of a quickly increasing bump on the back of my head.  My local friend Cathy immediately contacted her home care worker Albert, who is technically known as a Home Healthcare Aide.  By this time I had made my way back into my house, and was slowly rocking, taking comfort from my legacy of the rocking motion bringing great comfort.

When Albert arrived, he was quite dismayed at the size of my significant bump.  When he gently placed his had over the mass, he was unable to cover it entirely.  He strongly urged me to go to the nearest emergency ward, and get it checked out.  His pleas fell on stubbornly deaf ears.  He departed momentarily in order to fetch a large cold pack from his car.

When exhaustion overcame me, I took on the task of ensuring that the welcome relief from the icy cold pack would not slip off my head as I nodded off.  Truly a feat in pillow engineering, as the smooth plastic case naturally wanted nothing to so with my pointy head.  Eventually I managed, with the help of four pillows to wedge support around this large rectangle of relief, and got some fitful sleep.

Lacey however decided that 530am was a fine time to start nudging me with her wet nose, while uttering her guttural canine complaints.  I struggled into a sitting position, causing me to swoon and swerve.    My body  also realized that it was high time to deal with more pressing matters, so I stood and headed to the bathroom.  THAT is when the entirety of my injuries became crystal.  Two steps forward ended up throwing me headlong into some bags of donated clothing.  At least it softened my landing, but the reality of it sent me into a panic.  I really didn’t have any idea of which way was UP!

My sensible friend Karen called our shared neurologist, Dr Dunn, to bring him up to date on my status.  He immediately insisted that I go straight to the nearest emergency department.  Get in line, I already have several well meaning folks telling me what to do. Through determined negotiation, Karen managed to cross out ’emergency department’ and insert ‘urgent care’.  The reason for this was purely a matter of the wait times for these facilities:  the first will take all comers and usually means wait times of many hours, but the latter is for less dramatic (and time consuming) injuries, with much lower wait times.

A born organizer, Karen told me the time at which she would pick me up for this appointment.  As luck would have it, I was able to get right in to see one of the doctors.  After a quick but thorough exam, she determined that I did not need any of the available scans.  My bump, although much decreased in size, did manage to impress her, as well as the numerous abrasions on my scalp.  She pronounced mine to be a “severe concussion”, and told me what else not to do:  NO extreme sports, like mountain biking, or downhill skiing,  no trampolining or jump rope.  In other words, give your poor old brain a chance to heal its bruises!   No driving your car,  at least for this week.  Your judgement might be slightly off while your brain recuperates!

Well, at least I am blessed to have good friends and neighbors, especially since they all know that Glenn is in China.  Both Albert and Karen have offered rides, and neighbor Craig has offered to take Lacey on her nighttime walks since she gets along beautifully with his dog.  Directly across the street Chris has sternly told me that I am NOT to try taking groceries into my house on my own, that he would be honored to help me out!

WOW.  I had no idea!


The L O N G E S T WEEK ever

Lyft picked him up for his trip to the airport at 130pm last Sunday.  I am accustomed to his periodic absences, since Apple likes to send scientific staff (engineers) to the factories in China, just to make sure things are as they should be.  Apple is not only SUPER secretive, they are fussy to an extreme.  I was going to use the word ‘whiney’ but that doesn’t relay the power of their demands adequately.

Glenn is not the project manager, says you couldn’t pay him enough to do that job!  However, he IS the senior firmware engineer of this entourage.  This time, a major portion of the department was sent over, which caused many to wonder why such an onslaught was necessary.  After a week’s work, it is becoming clearer as to why this excess was arranged this time.  Apple doesn’t usually waste money by indulging in overkill, but in his phonecall last evening, he began to speculate.

ALL of the other engineers this time are much younger that Glenn, to the point of when he graduated university, many of these guys weren’t even born yet.  I asked him if he felt like he was running a field trip or a day care, to which he snickered.  Last evening he elected to stay and have dinner at the hotel, while all of his young charges took the train back to Shanghai to go GoKarting, and enjoy the night life.  They didn’t exclude him from the invitation, but he cited work to catch up on anyway.

Things are not progressing as quickly as Glenn has initially hoped.  For some unknown reason, the test equipment that was needed was several days late in arriving, causing obvious setbacks.  It appears that the original quote of three weeks is probably going to be the reality for this trip.  Unfortunately, a drastic change in the weather has made his usual long sleeved shirts a bit cloying.  The forecast is now in the low 30’s (celsius), making for an uncomfortably sticky time!

The last couple mornings I took Lacey down to the Guadeloupe Watershed for her walk.  Glenn takes her there, and lets her off leash to run.  There is a long creek that runs through this area, which is home to dozens of ducks, and a few Egrets and Great Blue Herons.  She loves to charge down the grassy bank of the waterway, causing the ducks to take flight and scatter.  She could never catch one, even in her dreams, but she has fun.creekduck chaser

Ordinarily after a week’s absence, I’m becoming more accustomed to managing on my own.  This time life is a bit more difficult, however.  It may be partly due to my proclivity for falling at random times, knocking me off kilter.  More often than not my grand finale in a tumble involves me bonking my noggin as my final act.  This time I had enough lead time to know what was coming, so I deliberately made it as gentle as possible!

Tuesday morning this week will be different that most.  Usually, I have a 3 hour shift at the Santa Clara Senior Gym, but not this week.  Sunday, I contacted the chosen company for our porch awning, and requested that the project be started ASAP, since hot California summer weather surely approaches soon!  Eleven AM will see me watching Tim Berdin, from Save On Construction Projects, measuring the porch again.  Since our porch faces south, we get the full brunt of the heat slamming into our unprotected home.

My pleas to Glenn have fallen upon deaf ears, so his ‘decision’ to erect fabric sails was destined to be our project for this summer.  Personally, I was never a fan of this option since I feel it looks rather tacky, but he was quite stubbornly insistent on this more economical option.

The Saturday that he took our car in for its scheduled service my luck took a turn.  He was introduced to the brand new 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander, PHEV.  He has expressed a desire to make our next car electric, or at least dual fuel.

If we’re going to live in this country, we should embrace the movement to reduce air pollution in any way we can, like reducing or eliminating car exhaust!

It didn’t take much of a sales job to win him over.  He returned home that afternoon with a full quota of sales brochures, looking all starry eyed, and asking me to come and see these wonderful new creatures.  I was NOT pleased!  Of all things to spend money on, WHY would we want to buy a new car??  Our current car was purchased in 2014, just before Apple made him the offer he couldn’t refuse.  Apple helped pay for the transport charges to ship it down here, as part of his employment package.  It has less than 80000 km on the odometer!

But this new car……..

He would NOT let it drop.  So, after six hours of him singing the tune of this absolutely perfect creature, the adoption of which would mean trading in my beloved Mitsi, I saw how this could work out to my advantage.

“Yes, we can go and see it tomorrow, on ONE CONDITION:  I want a solid porch cover.  NOT a sale, or a cheap tent like we have now.  I want an aluminum structure, similar to what is used for some of the car ports around here.  IF I go along with the new car idea, I want your solemn promise that I can have the solid porch cover.  One of our neighbors has exactly what I envision, and she said that the reduction in air conditioning bills has been drastic.  THAT IS WHAT I want, no, NEED

So now, we have a shiny new car, and I have signed the contract for my desired porch cover.  My kind of Happily Ever After.new car

Ass over teakettle

Never really understood that expression, at least NOT until now!

I bent down to pull a wee weed out of my front garden.  That was a very poor decision.  Suffice it to say that the weed won that round!

Perhaps it should be said that my balance is not terrific (understatement).  No sooner had I begun to lean over to grab the offending growth than I was face down on top of my lovingly cared for perennials.  Full face plant, forehead caked in mud, bits of decaying foliage in my hair.  The ‘force’ of the impact caused my glasses to make a statement on the bridge of my nose.  For some unknown reason, my nose was bright red!  No, I wasn’t into the sauce at 11am, though I can’t say that I wasn’t tempted after this.

After slowly righting myself into a cross legged sitting position, I attempted to lift myself onto my knees.  Okay, nice and slow, that was no problem.  After the past several months of focussing on my leg strength at Vasper, I assumed that I could lift myself onto my feet. Or not.

My usually stronger leg, my right, let me down.  I had fallen predominantly on my right knee, so this leg was sulking.  I grabbed the edge of the nearby garden bench, hoping for additional purchase, but no.  Back I went, on to my knees then bottom.

After three, or four, tries, I was close to tears of frustration.  Sitting there by myself, I debated trying out the new button on my Iphone that automatically calls 911.  My trusty phone, however, was relaxing in the house, and snacking at the charge point near my chair.  There was my watch, the phone’s trusty partner, that could provide similar help, and it was on my wrist, never letting me out of its sight!  Common sense prevailed though, so I gathered a fresh jolt of strength, and tried to do it on my own again.  This time, IT WORKED!

On my feet, I headed back in the house to asses the damage.  Wash mud off of forehead, clean glasses and abused nose, wash of mud and debris encrusted knees, and dust off my pale peach capris.  A glass of juice was well earned, so I eased into my beloved LaZboy rocker and bemoaned my clumsiness.

This is my morning after photo:


Maybe it will look more impressive in another day or two……..

He’s home!

Jack, the little boy with the horrible disease known as leukodystrophy is finally HOME with his family.  Thanks to a small private jet that was able to ferry him to an airport near his home in San Jose California, he was not exposed to any viruses or bacteria that could potentially kill him in his weekend state.

Joan was at our volunteer job today, and quite willing to talk.  Despite being quite dismayed at his condition, she rushed to wrap him in her arms.  His thin frame underlined the absolute need to get more nourishing food into his painfully fragile body.

Having been warned  by his parents and grandparents what to expect, Jack’s four year old brother Cameron was delighted to see him!  He quickly got a favorite video game up and running, and the two boys settled into their conquest.

The personnel back in Philadelphia have been brutally honest with his parents.  The disease has profoundly damaged the white matter in his brain, causing him to regress to the level of a two year old.  He can no longer walk, or speak clearly, like he did when he was admitted.  He can’t feed himself, and now wears a diaper, in a size 4, which is the largest size of standard baby diapers.

They were told at the outset that he could potentially live another several years, to perhaps the age of ten or twelve.  Jack is now seven years old, and six months ago he was a normal first grader.




December 24th

Even though I am FAR past the giddy child stage of anticipating Santa’s visit, I find myself  pondering all thing seasonal.  Today, we dropped off an enormous bag of bath towels and a bag of clothing at our nearby homeless shelter.  Once we found the correct building, we were welcomed in warmly.  A staffer immediately began creating a tax receipt for our goods, as we chatted with the clients.  Before we left I asked the staff person about whether or not yesterday’s Christmas party was able to provide gifts for each of the hundred child residents.  Oh yes, she assured me, since the local community has found out about this shelter they have received far more than ever before!

” We have been absolutely overwhelmed with the unexpected generosity, especially from the people at your mobile home park!  It all started with the efforts of a couple of older ladies that just couldn’t stand the idea of kids being overlooked, especially in this incredibly wealthy area.  They felt that it just wasn’t fair to have these innocent kids go without something as simple as a baby doll or a dump truck.  ”

I must admit to being taken aback when we first entered the building.  It was an old manufacturing site with grey concrete floors, but now it was littered with mattresses.  Hundreds of mattresses, all different sizes, some with people napping or sitting on them, others empty but for blankets folded neatly on top.  Occasionally a child’s drawing was taped to a nearby wall.  As we arrived, a man exited the building with a leashed  chihuahua, sporting in a pulled red sweater who was obviously heading out for a stroll.

We are having a quiet evening, in preparation for getting up in the morning, enjoying the breakfast casserole I’ve made, and prepping the turkey for its noon hour oven date.   We will cook the meal here at our home, so we can continue learning everything about our new LG oven that was our big holiday expense this year.

Then, at around 5:00PM, we’ll load everything up and head over to a friend’s house, in a ‘meals on wheels’ adventure!  Cathy is a retired engineer that lives by her self, just a few streets away from us.  She married and divorced young, and never had kids.  Now, she is quite disabled from longtime MS, and manages with daily visits from caregivers and nurses.  I try to visit her for a cup of coffee and a chat, most weekdays.

I get frequent updates from the Canadian Weather Network in Ottawa, Peterborough, and Windsor.  The last broadcast warns of a foot of snow in Windsor where Glenn’s mom is, and closer to eighteen inches in Peterborough and Ottawa!  Because it is Christmas, that level of snow is welcomed, to enable Santa and his sleigh of course!  This, the first major winter storm also signals the COZY feeling, as the wind howls, the savvy Canadian throws another log on the fire, and turns the kettle on for another cup of tea.

I remember our last autumn in the Ottawa area.  We had recently moved into our cedar cottage overlooking the Ottawa River.  The evocative smell of woodsmoke reminded us that we should get a load of firewood in, chopped and stacked.  This time, we didn’t have to order any, as we had a large woodlot, just out of our back door!  There was plenty of dead wood available there, so it would’t even need an extra season to dry before burning!  The fireplace in the main living area was a Heatilator, which was a bonus, but hidden in the back corner of the basement was a wood stove.  When we got both going, the furnace quietly shut off.

I LOVED that little house!  The main living area was all one room, with two beds and two baths completing the main floor.  The front of the house was a gigantic window overlooking the waterfront cottages, the river, and the Gatineau Hills in the distance.  That first fall, the felling of trees, the burning off of the small branches, the chainsaw and the axe making short work of half a dozen trees, and ME stacking the wood down the wall of the garage.  The whole process of preparing to settle in and hunker down, while winter has its way with the world around you, is immensely enjoyable.  I often wished that I had learned canning and preserving skills from my mom and grandma, but alas it was not to be!

Our chat with Evan and the girls earlier today brought longing into my heart.  The snow was howling, and Evan explained the need to create a path to their woodpile, further back in their three acre yard.  He mentioned purchasing a wood splitter, and the lengthy learning curve of living in a house that doesn’t have central heat.  The large wood stove in the basement has an immense brick chimney, climbing all the way to his third story office.  His company is still located in Peterborough’s industrial park, but he hopes to relocate it into a ‘sea-can’ on his lot,  But due to the increasing popularity of repurposing these large units, they are getting expensive, so timing is everything.

We are often asked about our plans for retirement, a short eight years away.  But though short, eight years is still long enough to bring about much change.  We’ll see……


Christmas waits upon mere days….

As the 25th hovers  ever near, my latest batch of bronchitis is hanging on with stubborn resolve.  Coughing is my constant companion, but I’ve finally found a brand of cough drops that is able to smack the hack down, enabling me to get some rest.  After nearly a week of misery, I happily anticipate an uninterrupted night’s sleep!

Jack’s family has had their holiday plans shuffled.  Now, his Daddy and paternal grandparents will be spending the holiday in Pittsburg with Jack, hopefully in the Ronald McDonald House, if Jack is stable enough by then.  Currently, he will suddenly become violently ill, necessitating his return to the unit at CHOP.

That means that Mommy will be able to spend Christmas at home with Jack’s siblings;  Elizabeth age 8 and Cameron age 4.  My friend Joan will be there, as well as Jack’s maternal grandparents, and undoubtedly a massive collection of extended family!  This was all arranged to give Jack’s siblings a holiday that they can draw strength from, since when their brother returns home,  everyone’s life will be drastically altered.  The brother they remember is gone, and this ‘new’ sibling will require a LOT of care, from the adults in the family.  At this stage, they can only guess what all these changes will look like.

Once the family is all back together living in the same house again, there are plans to have another Christmas celebration of mammoth proportions!  The current plan is for Jack to return home in February 2018, but that’s not certain.  SO much depends on a considerable improvement in his health, which has become so frail with the treatments he has endured.  Imagine a six year old boy with a small frame at the outset having had to have several forms of strong chemo, radiation, and a bone marrow transplant!

And just six months ago, he was a normal first grader.