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a walk in the park...

Saturday, September 24, 2016
...making for sweaty people, but supporting a good cause. There is a steadily growing group of people at the church I attend who are in Celebrate Recovery. A very loosely organized organization focused on helping people who are struggling. Their theme is that we all have 'hurts, hang-ups and habits' that keep us from being the people God designed us to be. Recognizing our foibles, and a commitment to work through those things that hold us back from living in harmony can change lives.

They meet once a week, gather for singing, a meal, support, testimony and breakout groups that help people develop both coping skills and friendships. A sort of generic version of AA or Al-anon, for people who are in need of compassionate support and the occasional life line. Not just  for substance abusers, or those in recovery from alcohol or drugs, but anyone hoping to make sense of all the stumbling blocks and curve balls life can put in the way of developing healthy relationships, a positive lifestyle and good clean living in general.

The CR group sponsored a run/walk today at a public park. I have never been a runner, and pretty much quit walking a couple of years ago when my knee started giving problems, becoming untrustworthy. But have walked a mile or so several days in the past week, trying to get back into practice. Plus starting to swim on a semi-frequent basis, as I have discovered that being boyant  completely eliminates knee pain.

So I signed the three of us up to take a walk in the park. Starting on the far side of the lake, and walking for three miles (or whatever amounts to 5K.) We went around the park and out onto the bike trail for most of a mile, then turned around to get back to the start point. Not quite the last people to complete the route, but pretty close to being the tail end. Bum knee made me slow, and my cohorts willingly slowed their pace to stay with me.

They seemed well organized, with a radio station remote van there playing music, plans for a cook out, with grills mounted on a trailer, ample food and coolers with bottled water. A crowd of supporters was trickling in as we finished the walk, likely prepared to spend the day sitting in the shade and enjoying The Good Life. Pretty day to be out in the world, enjoyable walk in the park.

book review: "Love That Boy"...

...by a man who was a journalist, correspondent assigned to the White House for years. His name is Ron Fournier, a parent of a son with Aspergers' syndrome, on the autism spectrum. Lorie is Tyler's mom, and pushed Ron into taking a number of road trips with Tyler, for them to spend time together. It was supposed to expose Tyler to the world, and build a relationship between father and son. They visited a number of presidential home places, preserved for visitation by the general public, and actually visited several presidents during their time together.

The title of the book comes from a comment Pres. Bush made after Ron and Ty went to the White House when the Press corps has an opportunity to meet with the sitting President when the residence is decorated for the holidays. Normally spouses/dates will accompany journalists, but Lori insisted Tyler should have the experience. One of the things Lori hoped for, as a mom who has struggled with helping a child fit into the educational system as learn basic coping, kills, is for Ron to help Tyler learn how to 'read faces'. To be able to look at people's expressions and begin to develop the ability to understand what language means in conversation as he would interact with other people. Not a skill that comes easily to children with Asperger's. Which is why they seem to have a knack for highly inappropriate responses, comments, emotions in social settings.

The biggest thing Ron learned was the value of acceptance. To see that he needed to devote less of his time with Tyler by being embarrassed or making amends to perfect strangers. And more time enjoying his son, meeting him on equal footing. Tyler is extremely bright, with a near photographic memory, comprehensive adult vocabulary,  obsessive interest in history, especially stories of US Presidents. But sorely lacking in social graces, as those with Asperger's often are. Their travels helped Ron to see what a smart, able bodied capable individual Tyler is, and the potential he has for being a productive member of society. There are things in his life he will always need assistance with, but he is growing into a remarkable young man, with some amazing skills and abilities.

being industrious...

... in the kitchen. My peeps from TN came to visit this weekend. I'd marked my calendar expecting I would drive up to see them, and then discovered they were organizing to come to GA instead. And even better is that they came down on Thurs. night, to have all day Friday as well as Saturday to hang out, eat good things, amuse ourselves, laugh together.

I after hearing numerous wishful, longing comments about how delicious, wonderful and tasty was that fresh corn we put scraped, bagged and put in the freezer a couple of years ago - I asked if she wanted to buy corn to freeze again. We went far too late in the season to get a good price on a bushel of fresh corn. But scrape and bag we did. Bought forty-eight ears at the local farmer's market and brought them home to shuck, clean, prep., cook, bag and chill. It went into quart zipper bags. Somewhat disappointing that it only filled nine bags, but still.

Anytime you put in the time and effort to put up fresh, in-season vegetables, you can't help but be pleased with yourself. Knowing you can look forward to enjoying something that will make your taste buds dance with delight months later. Think with smiling anticipation of how good it will be when you pull it out to thaw and cook, season and enjoy long when summer is only a memory.

United Way 'day of service' volunteer...

... would be me, who went Thursday morning to donate my time to the women's shelter just across the river/state line in Phenix City. Our group/team, consisting of fellow employees who were willing to provide manpower for several hours of work on the outside of the shelter.  There were amongst the volunteers, three store managers, one of whom had a camera, taking lots of photos, to make the managers look really hardworking, diligent, devoted to doing good.

Ironically, I had deliberately chosen the shelter over what I knew would be yard work at the Easter Seals program. Expecting that the labor needed at the crisis center would be inside in the nice cool chilled air. Well... that did not happen. The job was out in the sad, sorry, weedy, hot, bug-infested yard.  Clever me: I had a little coiled plastic bracelet in my car, tucked away in a tiny zipper bag that was designed to keep bugs at bay. I put it on my ankle and am pleased to report: not the first nibble.

We were instructed to: sand and paint a picnic table and a big square 2 x 6 wooden box that will be a sand box. And to paint in bright primary colors a half a dozen used rubber car tires. Yes. Tires. With interior house paint. Whatever. We did it. Pointless as the effort will prove to be, it was accomplished.

I did a little painting, but mostly picked up broken glass in the area that will be a playground, and pulled up weeds around the building's AC condensers. And found a long, translucent shed snake skin while I was poking around up close to the building: let that serve as good a warning as a black flag with skull and crossbones! The person from the shelter who was supervising the project said to save the long crisp skin to show the kids when they return from a day at school. I am thinking: run it up the flag pole to give notice of what is 'lurking' nearby!

some what distressing...

... is the report on those blueberry bushes I bought back in the spring. They were remarkably productive for being so small, and seemed to be doing well, settling in, adjusting to their new home. I deliberately choose three different varieties, understanding that would provide a harvest over a longer period of time. One was an early bloomer, one mid-season, and the third one would bloom and produce fruit towards the end of the normal berry picking season.

But it's been so unusually, frightfully dry here for the past couple of months, I might have lost one of them. I thought I was being careful, and conscientious. When I noticed one of the plants beginning to loose some leaves, I mulched well to hold in moisture, and started to be more faithful with the garden hose. They are  not in full sun, so do get some shade early and late in the day, which is helpful.

Having left the job to mother nature early in the year once they were out of pots, planted and settled into their new location, there was a period of time when I felt they were almost getting enough from rains. But when I went to look several weeks ago, I realized I had been neglectful. I've been more diligent in the past couple of weeks. I feel foolish pouring water onto a plant that is completely brown,  without the first sign of life - but I am hoping I got to it before it completely went south. And that it will come back from the roots, begin to sprout and grow again in the spring.

Makes me sad to think I let one die, and may to have reduced the potential harvest by one-third. I heard a reference to someone on public radio as being 'congenitially optimistic', and would like to believe I have some degree of that.  I choose to believe the blueberry plant is not completely dead, just 'nearly dead', as was the actor in the "Princess Bride" movie that Billy Crystal brought back to life with the blacksmith's bellows.

traveling through the piney woods...

Friday, September 23, 2016
... to south GA again this week to visit the cantankerous auntie who continues to feel she is being held against her will. Not precisely 'hostage' but most certainly not of her choosing, in a place where she makes it plain she does not wish to be. We are all aware this situation is not permanent, but some of us are optimistically hoping that it is more long term than others.

'Us' who will ultimately be the Responsible Parties for her, hoping she will be there for at least four more weeks to give us time to formulate a 'plan B'. While 'the party' that is there against her will had apparently been expecting her recent sudden compliance with therapist's instructions would allow her dismissal for good behavior/time served. So she remains incarcerated, mostly due to the fact that she is not yet mobile enough to travel under her own steam.

The 'us' consists of two cousins and myself. One the cousins lives in Decatur, the other in Denver. They were both present for the Care Team evaluation/meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 21, when we assembled at the rehab. to discuss progress and plans. The man who is the physical therapist, Tony, was in attendance, present to talk about how she has improved. And readily reported that she was initially not cooperative with the therapists efforts to help her regain strength and stamina. Which has diminished considerably in the past month while she has been largely immobile and for the most part in bed.

 The event that precipitated all this was a fall that occurred in her house on Aug. 28. Amazingly she was in the hospital for twelve days, before being transferred to nursing/rehab. care facility. I am still surprised that her insurance would allow her to occupy space as inpatient for that long, when you think heart surgeries pushed out the door after 23 1/2 hours. Has been at rehab. for two weeks. I'm thinking that the actual physical therapy designed help her regain ability to walk only occurs once a day for an hour at maximum.

Sadly, her almost complete loss of ability to retain information in her 'short term' memory bank is a major handicap. Very little information sticks in her brain long enough to be effective, have a lasting impact.  So when that very agreeable therapy guy tells her to 'do this' five times in a row six times a day, and 'do that ' twice every hour, she cannot hold it in her head long enough to accomplish the tasks that need to be repeated to gain strength in her legs.  I've asked the nursing person to have staff remind her to do these things as they see her throughout the day, and hope that might help: using someone else's brain to get it done, as hers is definitely not working properly.

pretty impressed...

Friday, September 16, 2016
... with myself, feeling ahead of the game, and quite pleased. This is the month when I have to get driving license renewed, and get a new tag sticker for my car. Both are done well ahead of time. And not really a hardship financially. The next expense looming in the future is paying for fire insurance for house, as well as coverage for vehicles, a major bite out of my finances.  I feel the pinch when more than one comes due at the same time. And as soon as I get over that hump, the property tax will demand my attention.

I'm busily reminding myself about the joy of living in America, to the point of removing my shoes, to take off my socks so I can use my toes to count all the blessings and benefits we get from being citizens. Trying to think of all those provisions in the Constitution that I am so thankful for. While wondering how people on a limited income can stretch it far enough, with funds and food coming out even at the end of the month.