Friday, April 01, 2022

Our Friend Margaret

 Some years ago, I became acquainted with a fellow cyclist.  Today, I cannot recall the circumstances.  But she and I enjoyed a friendship based on conversational rides, fun and funny life stories, and our enthusiasm for cycling.  Have mercy, I cannot count the times I would hear our dog bark her one bark: "There's a friend at the gate."  

It was Margaret.  Margaret with Gail, or Karen, or Nancy, or Bill, or Toby, or Wendy, or Chris, or all the other cycling friends that counted Margaret in their posse.

I hear Margaret's voice - it's distinctive, and it is very supportive - whatever the conversation, Margaret's voice is in my mind.  She shared her grandkid stories.  Certainly, she shared her Beth stories.  She shared her career stories as an educator.  I hear her laugh, and thanks be to God, I see her smile.

Her smile.

Many have observed that Margret was a pillar of our cycling community.  She was a positive, encouraging friend to so many.  I initially titled this post My Friend Margaret.  Note that I changed it to Our Friend Margaret.  Her passing is our loss, not my loss.  

***  Margaret's natural passing was swift, and for that, perhaps we are grateful.  

Friday, August 20, 2021

Ball Game!

 Weeks and weeks ago, back when we were all fully-vaccinated and life was good, our son and daughter-in-law came to visit.  SUCH A JOY TO BEHOLD.  

Such a joy.

At some point, our son went out to our hay pasture/meadow, (we call it pasture, our hay man calls it our hay meadow, which sounds so much more poetic and peaceable.), and he mowed us a tee box.

I was not privy to what a tee box was.  Come to find out, it's a swath of dirt (or grass, in our case).  "The name derives from the tee used to elevate a golf ball before striking it to commence play."  Ha.  It's rural Kansas, you all.  

After our son mowed the tee box, his wife, (and my amazing daughter-in-law), and I went to the Goodwill in search of:  

Two drivers. 
Two putters.
Two #7s.  (Not privy to that, either.)

Guess what?!   Goodwill has a PLETHORA of drivers, putters, and #7s!!!

I mowed us a fairway: a big long strip of green, in which it is hoped our balls would land, rather than the tall grass on either side of our fairway.  Golly.  It's beginning to sound like Royal Troon, in Scotland!

And so it went.  We hit balls every morning.  Daughter-in-law & I had purchased hot pink golf balls, so as to spot them in the pasture/hay meadow.  But come to find out, that Spouse o' Mine, colorblind, cannot discern hot pink from anything else out there in the hay meadow.  (See what I am doing?  Abstaining from "pasture" in exchange for the more bucolic "meadow".)

Son and daughter-in-law went back home to their Pacific Northwest lives, and we are still in rural Kansas, whacking hot pink golf balls around the pasture.  Excuse me: Meadow.

Two weeks ago, we had a couple of gorgeous mornings in the 50ยบ mark.  I took full advantage out in our tee box and fairway, whacking ball after ball after ball after ball into the fairway and also into the great tall grass abyss on either side (more often than not...).  Such fun!

Such fun...until the following day, Saturday, when I awoke and ambled in for morning coffee.  I mentioned to that Spouse o' Mine that my back needed a bit of a rub.  "I must have done something." I said.  After a 45-second back rub (that's all he's good for first thing in the morning and before coffee.), I declared myself healed.  And so I was for a couple of hours.  But then that niggling back pain returned, and travelled and meandered around, visiting one muscle and then triggering another.  This was not enjoyable.  I took a regular-strength Tylenol (because that's as strong as we have in our home...)  It took the edge off, and I thought I was good to go.

Well.  By late afternoon, I could not find comfort, no pain-free position to sit or lay in.  Nothing was working.  I took one, and thirty minutes later, another Tylenol. Pain edged off, for a bit.  By late afternoon, I announced that I was in serious shape, and we had to make a decision about what to do/how to proceed.  We (seriously: joint decision!) decided to watch the Olympic Marathon, and then if the pain was still REAL, he would take me in to the ER. 

Marathon over, pain is REALLY real, and so we hopped into the car for our 17-mile drive to the ER.

Three miles into our drive, I exclaim that I don't have my purse - no ID!  Go back!  Go back!  He replies that I can use his ID.  I look at him, incredulously.  How would that work, exactly?  (That was the thought bubble above my head, not the words out of my mouth.)  He finds a spot in the road to do a Uey, and we head back.  And that's when I have an epiphany:  "I should call my physician." 

Well, it is 8:00 pm on Saturday evening, so what chance is there of hearing from my physician?  I call and leave a detailed message with his answering service nevertheless.  And then that Spouse o' Mine and I discuss (#argue) about his letting our dog out into the hot evening while we venture on into town to the ER.  As we drive into town, we see the brilliant lightning filling the skies to the near west, coming our way.  Seriously??!

Segue to the ER, where he lets me off curbside, I walk in and put myself in the Saturday night queue, and return to the car to relate the Covid protocol, and suggest to him that he should return home and let poor Lucy GSD back indoors before she gets struck by lightning or hail.  He returns home,  I return, walking like Lurch, to the ER.  My physician's colleague returns my call an hour later, I tell him where I am, and he says, "That's good!  I worry that you have kidney stones.  You are just where I would suggest you be."

It was Saturday night, the university students were back, I was not "urgent care" - in fact, if it had not been for the worry that my problem was gall bladder ("Where exactly IS my gall bladder?"), kidneys, heart attack (women present differently when it comes to that fatal malady) or other...I could have gone to a "ready-care", but I was thinking about blood tests and urinalysis and lab works and surgery and....Gah!

Four ambulance arrivals later, I was seen by the attending ER physician.  I explained my travelling back pain.  He looked at my chart.  He asked pertinent questions.  He remarked that I was a "Duffer".  I told him I had no idea what that meant.  He told me it meant "golfer". 

Ha!  You Readers,  Google "Duffer".

Anyway, he asked me to show him my swing.  I did, and as I did, he touched the very part of my back that had been giving me anguish.

So, fast-forward to the "and they lived happily-ever-after" chapter.  I am alive and well and maybe this weekend I will venture out and hit not an hour's-worth of hot pink golf balls, but maybe a smidgen.  Just enough to get  - ha! - the ball rolling again.

Thursday, August 05, 2021

Civics and the Far-Flung Importance of Such:

 On this long-shadowed evening, waiting for that Spouse o' Mine to return from his group ride (cycling), I have settled onto the floral linen loveseat, lines of summer sunset striping my thoughts through the plantation shades.  Through the magic of Messenger, this evening I have communicated with a former English teacher. Her huz was my former Civics and History teacher, way back when.

I began thinking about civics, and history.  Way back when I was earning demerits - though I am not sure earning is the verb I am searching for...- Ah! Acquiring! - through uncalculated inactivity in classroom and homework, I did not appreciate the importance of such.  Well.  Given the state of of our Union the past 4.5 years, I can state with confidence and ~43 years of adult life experience, that civics and history must surely share a place on the academic podium with the STEM subjects in elementary and secondary education.  It is imperative, seeing now the amazing number of U.S. citizens who do not know their elbows from asses. 

NO, no...that is unkind. 

The amazing number of US citizens who do not know the three branches of government and what they do, the electoral college, the content and definition of the U.S Constitution, and so on: have we neglected this part of our children's education in order to fulfill those STEM obligations?  What about our freedoms?  When was the last time you or I read the US Constitution?  (Actually, in the last couple of years.  But, I also read the Farm Bill.  Ha.  {The 2020 Farm Bill even talks about boll weevils.  Seriously.  Did you know that?}) 

So, Mr. Elliott, I would like to thank you kindly and most sincerely for teaching.  What did I learn?  I did not store rote facts away.  But let me tell you, that day I drove my old Datsun B210 through Flatbush, in Brooklyn, NY, I did hear your voice giving me the safety facts.  When that Spouse o' Mine and I moved to Michigan, I learned that we were moving to a township.  A township!  I knew about townships! 

Mr. Elliott, your classroom was the runway to my adult responsibility of life in a community.  Of government.  Of common sense.  You never told us that was what you were teaching. Were you aware of the impact of your lessons?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  What I learned was perhaps not what others in your classes did.  For me, your lessons were stories that I apparently stored away for another day.  (And, also apparently, NOT for Test Day.)  But in the twists and turns of living as an adult in the past decades, I still hear your voice and I can glean stock from what you did teach.  So fun to make a connection.  And so, again, I thank you, Mr. Elliott, for your time and attention as an educator who did, indeed, make a profound impression.

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

Acoustics and Anika

Here's a cute little wee one:

This is Granddaughter Anika. 
She is a petite ball of spice. 
Loved by all.

Her development has her making fun and funny expressions, and fun and funny sounds.  She is exploring her ability to make sounds, and she is observing all those who make expressions and sounds around her. 

Fast-forward to her mother and I taking Anika into an art museum this weekend in the hopes of lulling her to nap in her stroller a couple of hours before their flight home.  Daughter Gillian had Anika in her stroller, in a prone position, with a sheet over the stroller so as to keep visual distractions to a minimum. 


Once wee Anika discovered the marvellous acoustics of the museum's cavernous walls surrounding her, she began belting out her own little concert of echos, underneath the cover of her stroller sheet. 
First, vowel sounds:
AHHHhhhhhh!  (echo: ahhh!)  (another echo: ahhhhhhh!) 
AHHHHHHHhhhh!   (echo: ahhhhh!)   (yet another echo:  ahhhhhhh!)

And then, throwing in a consonant here and there:
WAHHHhhhhh!  WAHHHHhhhh!  (echo:  wahhh!  wahhh!) 
DADADADADAHHHHH!!!   (echo: dadadadada!!) 
MAHMAHMAHHHHH  (echo: mamamahhhhh!)
BAHBAHBAHHHHhh!  (echo: bababa!!!)  

And so went her acoustics festival concert for all the museum patrons to hear, whether they appreciated her fine talent or not.  

She never slept, and after half an hour of her fine voice regaling the museum patrons, we headed this babe to the car.  

I am not sure we were even out of the underground parking before she had fallen asleep.

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

Sunday is the Golden Clasp (written in March)

"Sunday is the golden clasp that binds together the volume of the week.", said Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

These words ring true just now, this late afternoon of a rainy day, whose later hours are showing golden hues just before dusk.

The golden clasp?  

We two have accomplishments for the past week and the coming.  YESsssss!  We have both been Covid-vaccinated once.  That Spouse o' Mine will get his next jab at the end of this month.  Mine will be in early April.  Thank God for science and medicine, both a gift from above.   

I have spied both red-winged blackbirds and robins in our midst.  Spring is a'comin'.  The iris are jumping up in leaps and bounds, and I had so hoped to corral them before now. 

We two had a family Zoom with the six kids and two infant granddaughters late this afternoon.  We have a "show and tell" at these family meetings.  We saw daughter-in-law Austen's amazing PNW pottery.  Baby Lucy Grace in all her personality.  (Mother Claire says she was unhappy.  I, Pansy, think Lucy Grace is just spreading her 3-month emotional wings.)  Son Graham showed us his new airbrush paint gun for his new projects.  Son-in-law Kiran got us up-to-date on his last surgical rotations for this academic year.  Huzzah!  Baby Anika is sprouting her first two teeth.  I showed off some awesome yogurt (lebneh), and a quilt I have been working on.  And that That Spouse o' Mine got a great (in my opinion) award for work done in his scientific field.  Son-in-law Rich showed up in post-cycling workout mode, and showered and segued to Dad mode for Lucy Grace.  So much in such a short 40-minute Zoom!!!  I love each and every second.

And this coming week, prequel-led by the Golden Clasp?  This week, Sunday and Family were the clasps to bind the volume of our week.  Huzzah!

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