Musical Me

No one told me how important my knuckles would be when I got older. No one said much about my elbows either. I heard about knees, but obviously not enough. And ankles? Not one word.

I’m not that old, honestly I’m not. Now ever my joints have aged at least twice as quickly as the rest of me. I’m positive lupus and arthritis play a part in this.

Oh I knew as I got older there would be some pain, I mean I was an active child so I knew I had some wear and tear on my joints. I did not, however, anticipate being my age and being unable to walk unaided at times.

And I never thought that at this age I would have to consider things like buttons when purchasing clothes. I have a thing for buttons and belts, and lovely lace-up boots. My fingers, apparently, do not feel the same way. The greater the number of buttons, the stiffer my fingers get. The higher up the laces go the greater the pain in my knuckles. Zippers and buckles are not friends of my fingers either.

Stairs? I used to skip up those, now I have days where I curse them. My knees feel like they are all rusted out (not that I really know what rusted out knees feel like) and my ankles crack and creek.

I have pretty much become a musical person, pops and cracks, groans and moans. Yep there are days that there is no way I’m sneaking up on any one unless s/he happens to be deaf.

Oh the fun of lupus. Sure no one told me any of this and so I tell others, work on your rhythm and become your own musical instrument. Find the fun through the pain and the tears.

Pedaling Past

I remember when there was an effortless wonder to pedaling my bike all over, up hills and down hills. The terrain didn’t matter much, nor did the distance. Two wheels and strong legs took me here and there. I never worried about the fact I’d have to travel back that distance or how long it took.

I still have those moments, fleeting now though, where it’s an effortless movement, legs gliding in motion, pedals like nothing beneath my feet. And the land goes by.

But then one of my knees starts to grind or ache. A shift and suddenly I’m very aware of my hips, throbbing with their own pain. My fingers aren’t so much holding the handlebars of the bike as much they are frozen in a stiff grip.

There is no exhilaration of the wind, created by the speed at which I’m biking, passing over me. There is only a reminder that I am no longer able to do these things for long periods of time.

And always there is the fear of too much sun. I love the sun, always have, but I’m careful with it now as it gives lupus a strength I’d rather the disease not get.

And while lupus and I are old warriors continually facing off against each other, riding a bike or even walking reminds me of the cost of some of these battles. I weigh out carefully the price lupus will exact from me. Is it worth several days of pain and a flare just for a bike ride?

The answer varies depending on my mood and need to push against the rules of living with the illness. Sometimes it is worth it, just for those few moments where I can basically stick,out my tongue at lupus. But sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes my hips already hurt too much and my swagger of bravado it more a limp of “wait until next time”. But there will be a next time, there is always a next time.

Grandmother’s Kitchen

A pinch of this, a dash of that. A knob of that and a smidgen of this. My grandmother cooked like that, she also knew by the look and the feel if something was right.

My grandmother never cooked by a recipe, she never wrote down any recipes either. My grandmother would take me into the kitchen and show me, but that was a rarity. She meant well, and it enjoyed the time with her, but I never learned any of he recipes.

I learned a lot about my grandmother during these sessions and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. But there are times, when I, eating something or making something I can’t help and wish what it was that she did to make it taste that certain way.

I can still hear her telling me what it was like when she was a girl, how wearing pants was not just unacceptable, but cause for concern, (I leaned towards tomboy tendencies at that time).

No amount if pictures brings back those memories as much as when I’m in the kitchen trying out a recipe, something similar to what she just seemed to be able to make with no problem or thought. And I fear the day when those memories may fade and I can no longer summon up her image in the kitchen or elsewhere.

Splash and Suds

Take one tiny bathroom and add to it: bottle of shampoo, warm water and a very wriggly dog. Let all the ingredients get together in a small bathtub and viola you will have suds all over in no time at all.

I’d show you the pictures of when we gave the dog a ba last time, but I was too mopping up water and suds while Beloved corralled the wet dog. A wet dog who insisted on shaking soapy water every where and on every thing. So you will have to excuse me if I didn’t get around to taking pictures.

It started out innocently enough, the dog had been giving himself baths. Baths in dirt. A girl must put her foot down at some point and this was my point. So Beloved grabbed the dog and I got the supplies and off to the tiny bathroom we went.

Now a word here, Beloved doesn’t actually bathe the dog for the very reason that the soap flies everywhere. So once he placed the dog in the bathtub and grabbed towels for me, he stepped out.

I put warm water in the tub by getting the dog wet. He didn’t shake, so that was a good sign. Doggie shampoo next, into a nice lather all over him and still no shaking. Could it be that it would be my lucky day?

Just as I let my guard down a bit, the dog decided wearing suds was better than being rinsed and made a leap for freedom. He leaped over the edge of the tub and landed on the floor. The leap would have made a high jumper proud, the landing was like a bad landing in figure skating. And then he shook and paced the floor and shook some more.

I, in turn, did what any logical person would do, I squealed. My clean, dry bathroom was splattered everywhere with sudsy water. Sudsy water that smelled like wet dog.

After Beloved corralled him and managed to get the squirming dog back in the tub, we started the wash again, the rinse and a damping simply because we had no dry towels left, just damp ones.

Beloved and the dog retired to sit/rest while I was left to clean up and dry the bathroom. On the plus side not only does the dog smell clean, but I can assure you every inch of the bathroom has been cleaned.

Next time I think, if the dog gives himself a dirt bah I won’t do a thing. If he thinks it’s becoming, well then so be it. But don’t blame me if he isn’t allowed in the house!

Announcing Intent

He had crept up to the house, stealth was in his nature. The darkness allowed him to get closer and it may have made him bolder too. Bold enough to give his knock some authority.

He demanded we open the door, and when we didn’t open it up right away, he threatened us. He promised to “huff and puff and blow the house down”. Oh wait, sorry no that’s not what he said at all, that’s actually another story.

What he actually said was….well nothing, he just burst in the door taking us by surprise. He was just, well, suddenly there, in the room with us. It took me a few moments to figure out how he managed to get in through the locked door, partially because I was surprised, and partially because I was facing the business end of a gun.

In this case he was able to get into the hotel room courtesy of someone from the front desk providing him with a master-key to our room.

I guess I had watched too many movies or television because I had assumed he would have had to announce himself. You know, knock on the door and say “police, open up or I’m going to kick this door in!” Something to that effect at any rate.

But apparently the police don’t have to announce themselves, they can just enter if they have what is considered just cause. In our case they had the wrong room number and after they made a mess of our stuff and yelled at us, they left. Their apology did not give me a warm fuzzy feeling.

Sure mistakes happen, especially considering it was a large hotel. And sure they are doing their job, but what if it had been our house? What if one of us had grabbed a gun because we feared for our safety, I mean someone just bursts into your house…plain clothes cop and all. What if upon seeing the gun, not knowing who we were dealing with, our gun was used in self-defense and the undercover, plain clothes cop was shot?

I know sometimes stealth and surprise are tools that are required in fighting the criminal element. But even the Big Bad Wolf announced himself and his intentions (huffing and puffing). Surely the police should have to so this too, well not the huffing and puffing, but the announcing deal.

Breaking Bread To Bust Cancer

I made bread, from scratch. With my own two hands. Okay a bowl and a wooden spoon were used, as were some measuring cups and spoons and well a pan too cook the bread in. But still, I made bread, from scratch. Did I mention it was from scratch?

I’m a little pleased with myself, not just because I made the bread, but because it was good. I didn’t have expectations other than for the bread to be, well edible, but it was beyond edible. It was, well good if I do say so myself.

Oh don’t it wasn’t a lovely braided yeast bread. No, it wasn’t anything spectacular like that. I’m sure I could make something like that, if I wasn’t afraid of yeast. But I am, afraid of yeast that is. I’m terrified I will kill it or something dreadful. So no yeasty breads made by me. Beloved though, Beloved can make bread like that. He calls it therapy, I call it not for me.

So there I am, rather pleased with my tasty bread when a friend phones. I cannot contain myself, I announce my accomplishment, like a proud toddler. She acts suitable impressed before sharing her news with me. News that of course is well more news than my bread.

It seems cancer likes my friends, lots. She is not my first friend with cancer and as much as I hope for her to be the last, I know that won’t be the case. So we talked chemotherapy, radiation, and well fear. We also talked hope.

I told her I’d be there for her, as much as I could given my own health issues, and she asked if I could bake her some bread. As she out it, if I can make tasty bread, I can make her day now and then. This gives whole new meaning to breaking bread and I’m thrilled to be a part of it! (Now I just need to make sure it doesn’t get hard enough so someone breaks a tooth breaking my bread.)

White Magic

With the snow falling, I muttered a mild curse under my breath and made for a fast walk to the car. There is, at least to my thinking, a limit as to how much snow a person should take. And of course I had already had my fill as this wet snow decided to make an appearance in my life.

My mood didn’t get any better on the drive home and walking through the door he as he announced his joy towards the falling snow I felt my mood sink lower. Of course he liked the snow because he wouldn’t be the one up and shoveling it.

When I failed to share in his joy, he decided to show me the dual side to the snow. Since I knew the negatives so well, he took me out to stand in that soft silence that comes with falling snow. A silence that seems to blanket and muffle all the sound as the snow blankets the ground.

He showed me how the snow settles and falls, changing ordinary objects into something more whimsical or interesting. He commented on how he snow softened everything up, even if only temporarily.

To him he snow was magical; it transformed everything from ordinary into something else. He relished in the mysteries the snow created, transforming the ordinary into something extraordinary. He marveled at how easy it is to trick the mind by altering a feature. And above all, he embraced the soft silence of the snow, a place to reflect and recharge.

The real magic, for me, was that somewhere on this journey with him, the negatives of the snow softened (probably buried in the snow), the simple pleasure of watching the snow gather and drift where it will became just that, a simple pleasure. The magic for me was feeling the lightness of he snow, the ability to catch on to his wonderment and share in that simple luxury of life.

Favorite Shoes

One of my favorite pairs of shoes were red, brilliant red. I loved the way they looked, a bit of shine and a cute point to them. And oh the lovely sound they made as I walked on cement and cobblestone!

I think my mother used to hide the, on me now and then simply because of the noise. I’m sure that to anyone not wearing them would find my klomping around in wooden shoes to be very annoying. But to me, as I listened with glee to the loudness of the sound, there was a sense of pride. That was me, small little me, making that noise in my lovely wooden shoes from the Netherlands.

I’ve had other pairs of shoes, fashionable ones. Ones that made little tapping sounds on the tiles and others that seemed to make not a noise. I’ve had pointy toed shoes and rounded toe shoes. Strappy shoes? Yes of course. Tall shoes? Oh for certain. But nothing will ever top my wooden shoes when I was a little girl.

Sure they weren’t all that fashionable, but fashion changes in the blink of an eye. Were they comfortable? Well not exactly, but every day women wear shoes that are less than comfortable in the name of fashion and such. Were they practical? Not really, but again so much of today’s shoe fashion is not practical.

What they did, however, was making me ahoy and there isn’t a price to be placed on that. Well except when you need to run or be silent, then perhaps there is a price to be placed on them.

I Am A Slave

I am a slave. I have always been a slave, only I didn’t always know this.

Clearly I’m not a slave in the sense of being forced to work for another and not being compensated for it, I’m not owned by any one person, and I can come and go as I please. Despite this, I am a slave.

You are probably wondering how, then, I came to the conclusion that I am a slave. Now it is true I work for another person so technically they do own my time while I work for them and there are all sorts of rules around that. Bit those items do not make me a slave.

I am a slave to my passions, my doubts and my insecurities. My passions demand to be fed and heard. My doubts insist that I explore and examine them. My insecurities insist that I listen to them, that I sense from where they come.

Being a slave to my passions doesn’t always seem like slavery, not until they demand more of my resources, such as time. Time is one resource I cannot manufacture or acquire more of. Thus my passions can become a horrible slave owner indeed.

My doubts are like a slave owner that slave owner that provides just enough food and water and expect 100% energy as though I was well fed and watered. My doubts will not accept any excuses and punish me harshly when I fail them.

My insecurities are a violent slaveowner. They actually seem to enjoy punishing me, believing that as harshly as they treat me, I will still respect them and do as they demand. They use fear and violence to control me and leave me unable to find an escape.

Ultimately I am a slave to myself.

Alarming Smoke

We tested the smoke alarms today. It’s recommended that you ensure the batteries are working and that the machine isn’t malfunctioning. And so today was the day we tested it.

I’m not sure that they recommend testing the alarms exactly the way we did, but hey to each their own. And in our defense the recipe did say to add the oil to the pan that was heated to near smoking. So okay we missed the little word near.

Actually I was a bit tentative about all this, but a beloved was bold as he turned up e heat and then allowed the oil to stream into the pan. With in no time at all we had smoke, thick, dark grey smoke. Smoke that didn’t rise, rather it billowed to fill the whole kitchen.

And yes the alarms worked, they worked very well. We opened windows and turned on fans. And still the alarms sang and the smoke stayed. I opened doors and more windows. And froze.

Finally though, the smoke cleared, our eyes stopped watering and the alarms stopped making a noise. Of course that might be because we killed the batteries! 😉

Oh and in case you are wondering, we ended up ordering in!