To The Tips Of My Toe

Toes.  Those little digits on the ends of your feet.  Small little things that have a habit of getting in the way or striking objects. Toes are marvellous things when they are wiggling in the warm sand of a beach.  Toes are wonderful for squishing in mud or letting thick carpet fluff up between them.

Of course we use our toes for walking and balance, but that’s only when you look at them from a practical vantage point.  For some people another practical aspect of toes just happens to be this neat ability to pick items with them.  Kind of like our cousins the monkeys.  And yes some folks can use their toes for climbing trees or rocks.

I don’t normally consider my toes, unless I’ve smacked them into a table leg or put a chair leg on top of one of my toes.  But these days I’m thinking a bit more about my toes because of the four-footed one.  You see she has taken to going for longer walks, specifically in the hillside areas.  My toes are paying the price for her love of adventures during the day.  The price is increased pain, probably from all the times I cracked or broke them in the past.  My toes are not made for hill walking it seems.

At first I thought my toes hurt because of my shoes.  I thought my feet were sliding around and banging into the ends of my shoes, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.  As best the professionals can tell I’m just continuing to make smaller jig saw puzzle pieces with my bones, specifically my toe bones.

Tanks, Paws And Me

The four-footed one is a bit like a tank in that no terrain is safe from her paws.  Grass?  She uses it as a pillow.  Dirt?  Bring in on.  Mud?  She is an expert in the stuff.  Rocks?  If there small she will walk in them, larger ones are meant for climbing on.  Sand?  She exfoliates her paws with the stuff.  She loves the feel of damp moss and isn’t fussed by the texture of twigs.  She washes her toes in puddles and glides on the snow and ice.

Her owner on the other hand is not a tank.  Her owner does not always enjoy the terrain we encounter on our walks.  Snow and ice aren’t so much a glide as a slide or slip!  I’d prefer not to have my toes squishing in the mud or damp moss.  Damp sand is acceptable if we are walking along the beach.  Rocks and twigs aren’t my thing; I don’t mind grass, just not with bare feet.

So why am I telling you this?  Because dear friends today’s walk started with cement which gave way to dirt and grass.  The dirt and grass gave way to rocks and sticks on hard packed dirt.  And all of that stuff led me to realize that my companion, the one I thought was a dog, is in fact a tank of sorts.  While I was struggling with the terrain she was having a ball.  While my feet were less than thrilled her paws were in paw heaven.  Somehow this doesn’t seem fair.  And I wonder how I got to where I am.  So it a case of too many hours in shoes or is this why early humans perhaps were more nomadic, to get away from things which were unpleasant underfoot?  Did I mention I’m in awe of this sweet dog of mine?  That is when my feet aren’t suffering from the path she chooses for us!

Destroying or Why My Nose Isn’t On The Ground

One of the most fascinating things I’ve rediscovered with the four-footed one is that no two days are the same.  Of course this also goes for no two walks are the same.  Not even if you take the route within the same day.  There is always something a little different that must be investigated with a focus on detail and diligence.

I suppose there is something magical about really getting caught up in the moments and just embracing them as they come along. A person, well at least this person, would be wise to let things be more magical and less spent focused on a million things happening in her head.  But of course the minute I try to be more in the moment something pops into head and I end up seeing the walk as the same one we just did.

I should point out to you that part of my problem may come from the fact that I don’t use my nose to capture the scents on a walk.  Well let me correct this, I notice some smells, but I’m not like the dog in that when I’m walking I’m not doing it with my nose down on the ground.  Granted it’s impossible for me to walk with my nose on the ground, but you get what I mean.

Perhaps this is part of why I can’t live in the moment and instead in my head…I just can’t focus on something as it is.  Perhaps deep down inside I’m just someone who has to destruct things first.

Learning To Appreciate The Slow Dance

A friend was venting her frustration at having to slow down as she is getting older because things change. She missed being up all night and still being fresh and on her game for an early morning meeting. She was quick to point out that she could still pull off the early morning meetings after being up all night, but she would be doing so at a cost of being more drained later on in the day.

I completely understand, for I too have had to come to adjustments and realizations that how I used to do things can no longer be replicated exactly. However unlike my friend, I had to come to those realizations much earlier in life thanks to lupus providing me with a huge reality check. Sometimes you just have to find another way to get things done. And if you can’t find that other way, you find out the cost benefit of doing certain things and weigh out your options more closely.

My father once described me as a human version of the Tasmanian Devil because I was always into something on going somewhere, typically with my hair on fire as I raced towards whatever held my attention. My mother referred to me as a butterfly, flitting one place to the next, resting for short periods of time before throwing myself into activity once again.

Lupus made itself known, although not by name, through a series of events which resulted in my forced slowing down. Or rather I slowed down because I wasn’t sure what was wrong with me, but once we knew what it was the doctors would surely cure it and get me back to my usual self. Only once we knew we were dealing with lupus I was sure we’d be on the path to fixing it.

Except lupus, like other chronic illnesses cannot be fixed. It can be managed, the symptoms can be masked and controlled, but once you have it, you will always have it. It’s like the side-kick or constant companion you didn’t ask for or necessarily want, but you have now. And lupus, like other chronic illnesses, does not sit in the shadows or the corners just because the symptoms are being controlled. Lupus must flex muscle now and then and remind you that your life is now a life lived with a constant companion.

Being a bit stubborn, I was pretty confident in my early days of getting to know lupus, that I would be able to carry on as normal, keep up my pace of things and lupus would just sort of fit in with everything else. Lupus laughed at me; the kind of laugh that makes your abs hurt from how hard you are laughing as you wipe tears from your eyes. Lupus taught me that I’m far more creative than I thought I would be; I can budget like a pro. Lupus also taught me that you can’t always get ahead of change, you won’t always like the changes you must deal with, but if you can and will find a way to get done what is most important. You will just do things differently at times, and that is perfectly acceptable.

A Hole In One, Shoe That Is

There isn’t a hole in my bucket, so I suppose I could use it to fetch water.  Except there is a hole…in my shoe, and it lets water in.  I didn’t know this hole existed until today because today there was a downpour which resulted in puddles that simply could not be avoided.  The act of steeping in unavoidable puddles allowed me to discover the hole.  The discovery resulted in one very cold, wet foot.  This discovery also resulted in a much shorter walk for my four-footed friend.

A friend pointed out that since my foot was already soaked and my four-footed friend didn’t seem to mind her wet paws it was a bit selfish on my part to cut the trip short.  True, but why be miserable with a soggy, squishy shoe if you don’t have to be?  Yes I understand the reality is that at some point you simply cannot get anymore wet so why bother heading for dry space especially if the dog is enjoying herself.  I guess that makes me selfish.  I’m okay with that in this case because hello…a hole in my shoe and a wet foot.

Have no fear, the four-footed one will be compensated for her walk being cut short.  And I shall say goodbye to my old shoes.

I Don’t Mean To or a Difference Between Alone And Lonley

We get, or at least I get, so caught up in the mundane yet seemingly important minutiae of the day-to-day stuff.  And this getting caught up bit sometimes comes at a rather high price.  For me it means losing touch with people, dropping out of conversations and relationships without so much of a sideways glance.

The thing is, none of it is deliberate on my part.  I sometimes wonder if there is something broken in me beyond the usual brokenness.  I wonder if I’m too broken to be active and attentive to friends and such when something catches my attention or interest.  Perhaps I’m too shallow and self-absorbed to be present with the people that matter in my life.

I recognize it once it has happened, but while it is happening I’m too lost  in whatever to even realize I’ve pushed people away.  Or ignored people’s attempt at engaging me.  It is a singular focus and when required my ill-health helps to further this isolation.  The really wild thing I clearly don’t see how damaging this is in the long run.  I mean surely if I got how damaging this is I’d stop doing it, and I haven’t stopped doing it so there is that.

Do you suspect that some people just need that much personal time and space or is there something broken about this?

Woeful Wonton Surprise

You know those lovely cooking books and recipe pages in magazines, the ones that make things look so good you get hungry just glancing at the pages?  They are nothing but a lie, or a tease.  I’m serious friends.  If nothing else they omit steps or something because I swear I’ve yet to create anything even close to those pictures.  (How many of you are silently nodding your heads as you read that?  And if you can pull out that recipe to perfection then friends you are magicians!)

My latest disaster in the kitchen just happened to involve wonton wrappers (store-bought because let’s face it that’s not my skill) a muffin cup, some oil and spiced meat.  The picture looked invent and delightful.  The kind of food you could easily eat with your fingers with no fuss, no mess.

Determined to get at least close to the picture this time I very carefully followed every step.  Stirred the meat as directed and hoped the wild hope that I would be close.  What I was close to is creating a good relationship with the dry cleaner.  The wontons crisped then got a bit soggy.  They refused to be cute little cups to hold the spiced meat.  Instead they promised to dump their contents as soon as someone was bold enough to try one.

I’m not really blessed at kitchen skills, but I’m blessed with friends who gamely try each disaster and provide feedback in a gentle and encouraging way.  Then they head out and probably by some amazing food at a restaurant or takeaway.  Because sometimes you need to hit the dry cleaner sooner rather than later. Especially when crispy looking wonton cups fool you and play surprise with a meat filling.


Surprise Friend Gathering

A mouse rested in the corner, just there, by the kitchen.  A small bunny had made its way, unnoticed, into the kitchen and was now sitting silently and still in the middle of the floor.  There were more critters in various locations through the house.  A monkey was perched on the edge of a chair, his tail hanging down the back.  A duck had managed to make a safe landing by the flower-pot.

No, I don’t live in a zoo, nor is it a rescue house.  Yes I do adore animals  and wouldn’t put it past myself to have a myriad of them, but that isn’t in the cards right now.  What is in the cards right now is a four-footed companion with her own zoo of dog toys.

Now and then she decides she must set them all free and spread throughout the house.   Today was one of those days.  It started with a green frog being carried into the hallway. Then the pink elephant broke out of jail, also known as the toy box.  After that the great escape happened as a bear, Buffalo, owl and lamb were rushed to safe places.  I lost rack after that.

I found the bunny purely by accident, my foot made contact with something soft while I was doing something in the kitchen.  The something soft skittered  across the floor from my kick and that’s when I saw the mouse.  The four-footed one however was nowhere  to be found.  Perhaps rescuing all her friends was too much.  Maybe that’s why in found her fast asleep under the dinning room table all by herself.

Dying Of Embarassment On The Road To Hell’s Intentions

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, or so they say. I’ve personally never been on the road to hell, not even the one in Michigan so I can’t say for sure what the pavement is made of or even what it’s like.

Of course people also say they about died from embarrassment and I can assure you, I’ve been more than a tad embarrassed and never actually died from it. I may have wanted to die, or at least have the earth open up a hole to I could fall into it and then have the earth just close back over again.

I had intended to walk the entire distance of the path today. I knew I wanted to walk it the minute my friend told me about its existence. Taking a page from Beloved’s book, I started to check the forecast to ensure I would have optimum weather for the day I went down the path. Today, according to the weather experts, was supposed to be the most ideal day of the week for the trip.

With a soft, warm glow to the morning sky, I made my way to the entrance of the park where the path begins. I brought with me just a light sweater to deal with the early morning coolness; I packed water and made sure I was wearing my walking shoes. I stuck my phone in my pocket and chose to listen to the birds singing in the distance as I started down the path. It was, in fact, a very peaceful and relaxing atmosphere.

Not even halfway down the path the sun dipped behind a cloud and the wind picked up a bit. I was grateful to have brought my sweater with me. To be honest I was feeling a bit smug about remembering to bring my sweater. The problem with feeling smug is that there is always something to bring you back to your humble senses. In my case it was an incredible downpour. From out of nowhere or so it seemed.

In less than a minute I was soaked and cold, no longer interested in walking the rest of the way. I just wanted to go home, get dried off and warm up with a nice drink. Naturally I turned to head back the way I came. And just as naturally my good walking shoes found a nice muddy puddle to go into. It was the kind of puddle that resulted in muddy water going more than half the way up my legs. And the rain didn’t seem to be doing a good job of removing the mud from my pants or shoes.

As luck would have it, or at least as luck goes in my world, when I got to where I parked, the sun was back out and shining as if nothing had happened. Except I was soaked, filthy and cold and there were more people in the parking lot preparing to go for a walk in their nice clean clothes, suitable footwear and water-repellent coats in hand.

No the earth did not open up to swallow me, I was probably too dirty. And yes I did want to die or at least hide right then especially because where I had parked meant I had to go past everyone looking like a disheveled drowned rat with squishy shoes.

Thrilling Heights

When I was a child I loved to stand on the edge of things, the higher up the thing was the happier I would be to get to the edge. There was something thrilling and daring about being right on the edge of adventure, but still grounded on the solid ledge.

My mother would inevitably discover me standing far too close to something and whisk me away or yell at me to get back to safety. Safety would be determined based on the distance of the potential drop as well as what I could strike on my way down. The further the drop, or the more pointy objects I might strike as I was following meant safety was that much further away from the edge.

The more my mother pulled me back from the edge of something, the more likely I was to get closer to teetering on the ledge of something else, typically much higher. This all would result in a cycle of her feeling a need to express the potential dangers I was putting myself in, and of course I would then have to find something else to drive her blood pressure up.

One of my favorite things to do was to flop down on the ground which just happened to be the spine of a steep hill. Down below would be a gurgling creek on one side and to the other side, another down slope covered in large, unyielding trees. I could be up  there watching the clouds move by or read a book for hours upon end for it was a place my mother came.

She was afraid of heights; basically anything over two feet off the ground was “high” and anything that had no safety rails was the work of the devil so she never came up onto the rolling hills. My father had taken me up there a few times, he even held me steady as I rushed down the hillside, marveling in the speed and the way gravity made the down portion of the trip so easy.

To this day I am thrilled to head up to higher ground and look around, study what lies below and marvel at how different things are when you are above them. Tree tops look different when you are peering down at them for example. I revel in the freedom being above provides me, and perhaps the knowledge that some people will simply not travel with me to high places. To this day I feel the need to push things closer to the edge, to see where the tipping point happens to be. I trust that I will find my balance as I hit these tipping points, but I don’t really know if that will be the case. A part of me accepts that I may not find the balance and actually fall while another part of me ignores the whole what-if factor. It’s easy to ignore the danger when you either do not understand it or get too caught up and simply forget that it is there.

Life, in some ways, is far too short to worry about things like breaking a bone or such. But at the same time, life is precious and many a person has had his/her life altered significantly by the fall. I guess it’s what you make of it.