Thursday, September 20, 2018

Changing but recognizable

Courtney, my first born, just got a hair cut and color after years of having red and blue and purple hair.  She posted a picture of her new hair cut on Facebook, and I was startled to see what a resemblance she has to the Norwegian part of the family. 

I think she looks a lot like my father's mother, my Grandma Thompsen.  She also looks a lot like my cousin Colleen and Colleen's daughter, Kate, both of whom look a lot like my (our) grandmother.

Courtney's new hair cut and color.  September 2018

My cousin Colleen and her daughter Kate at Courtney's house in Portland July 2018

Courtney on her front porch July 22, 2018

My grandparents, two uncles and my dad as a baby ca 1918
It's hard to see any real detail, but Courtney looks a lot like my grandmother in this picture.  It's those high Norwegian cheek bones.

And then there's Courtney, my baby 1978

Business Courtney 2011 (I love her hair in this picture!)

And Star Trek Courtney 2013

Monday, September 17, 2018

It's the damn knees again

Went to the orthopedist today and learned what I already knew.  I need new knees.  I need to lose about 50 lb. I know I can do it, but it is so slow and hard to do.      So, this is my current obsession.  Pain and weight loss.  I got a knee brace today which helps with walking.   I know that part of why this is such a big deal is that I didn't have to get this big.  What in the world happened?   I guess denial about my weight and now it's coming back to hurt me big time.

At least I have low blood pressure and a healthy heart!

Before going to the orthopedist, we went to our house in Reston.  we met there with our realtor and talked about all the other houses on the market in our area and how our house compares with those houses and all the things we can/ should do do make our house more up to date and hence more salable.

I guess that's the way these things work.  My mother in law said , when getting her house ready to go on the market, everything gets fixed up so you can leave it to someone else.

we bought a new stainless steel fridge for the house.  It looks huge to me, but it really doesn't stick out any more than the old one. 
Before new fridge

With new fridge

It rained really hard today.   I suspect it was some of the effect of Hurricane Florence.   On the news this evening, I saw that three tornadoes touched down in Richmond.  I texted Austin and Chance, who both live in Richmond and learned that they had been hanging out at Austin's place and were safe.  They were without power for a while, but last I heard it was back on.

I am having a hard time writing because I have such a hard time getting comfortable.  It's because of my knees.        

Last week I called my Aunt Joanne.  My Uncle Norman died a few months ago- Joanne's husband.  I keep telling myself that I need to call Aunt Joanne, and I finally did!   Well, surprise surprise, today she called me back.   She is so sweet, and I know that she misses Uncle Norman.   
Aunt Joanne has had both knees and both hips replaced. Talking to get was encouraging!

Okay, I am making big yawns which is my body telling me to go to bed!


Saturday, September 15, 2018

Thinking about stuff

Feeling very self centered lately.   With good cause I guess.  Not being sure what's going to happen when I stand up makes me do a lot of contemplating.

After her stroke, my mom lost a lot of her ability to do the physical things she had always taken for granted.  She told me once that when she is sitting in her recliner, in her head she is a 14 year old.  Then she tries to move and she cannot.

I heard her say that, but I don't know if I really "heard" her.  She was saying that she had lost control of so many aspects of her life.

I have not had a stroke, so I know that's not why I am feeling so limited now.  But, at the moment I am disabled.  My gait is stiff and unsure.  When I stand up I am afraid I will lose my balance because of the pain I have in my knees.

I haven't really been feeling "oh woe is me".   Just frustrated and maybe a little humiliated/ embarrassed. 

Like my mom, I feel like everything is fine.  Then it's not.

There are boxes still in the garage that we have moved over.  Nick has dealt with much of the stuff.   So what's left is almost all mine.

I have boxes of yarn and fabric and patterns and sewing notions.   I have books and scrapbooks/   If I were able, I would have moved them at least into the house and out of the garage.   This is the kind of things that my kids could have helped us with when we were moving in.  I know we could have probably hired someone.  But this is the kind of stuff that friends and neighbors and mainly, family helps with.

I know that when you give to your children we shouldn't try to make them feel guilty.  We don't remind them of all the times we have moved them.  Come to their assistance.  Nick has driven all over the place for the kids- to Columbus, Ohio, to Annapolis and to Richmond.  It;s what we do.

I am going to weight watchers in the hopes of getting enough weight off so my knees feel better and ultimately so I can have knee replacement surgery.

I hate pain.  My knees don't hurt, or hurt too badly when I am sitting down.  But even that can be a challenge because the backs of my legs start to hurt.

Tomorrow I am hoping to get to church.  A new church for us.  There's a Unitarian church not too far away.

Monday I go see my orthopedist and see what can be done to help me get through this and start feeling better.

Meanwhile, I need to renew my temporary handicap window tag

In other news, we bought a new refrigerator for our house in Reston.  The biggest complaint folks have about that house is that it is outdated.  We neutralized and depersonalized the house as much as possible.  Problem is, not it is so impersonal I think it probably feels too cold to prospective buyers.

So here's my kitchen before new fridge and after new fridge:

Saturday, September 8, 2018

September 2018

Schools started here in Virginia a few weeks ago.  By now I guess that they have started all over the US.

It was so sweet to see "my babies" in their first day of school photos.  No, not my babies that I gave birth to.  All of the babies I have met through La Leche League and other breastfeeding support.  I feel attached to them all!   So many of the moms who have come to LLL meetings, and even more who have come to the weekly breastfeeding cafe' that I have held almost every week, for eight years or so.    And so many of them were first babies- it's easier to negotiate a coffee shop with one little baby than with a toddler and a baby.   So, I not only get to follow these former babies, I get to see pictures of the younger siblings. 

It takes me back to the first La Leche League Group that I started and led all alone in 1981, in Chiang Mai, Thailand.  Only two moms, with their kids, came to that first meeting.  Then more and more moms came.   We had an international group.  Moms with the American Consulate, a Canadian mom.  A couple of missionary women who were married to hill tribes men.  A Swiss midwife and her new baby.  A mom who had premature twins.   I went back to Chiang Mai in 1997 and saw so many of those moms and their kids.   The missionary families stay in place for a long time while doing their missionary work.

Most of the moms from then are grandmothers now.  Thanks to Facebook, I have reconnected with many of "my" moms from back then and also from more recently.  Even when folks move away it is easy to stay in touch.   

We are sort of settling into our new house.  We still don't have much furniture because it is still being used to "stage" our house in Reston in the hopes of selling it. 

So now I have a longer drive to get to the Tuesday Starbucks LLL group, but I keep on going!

I thought I had a lot to write about, but I guess I am too tired.

Maybe next time.  Good night.


Friday, August 24, 2018

A nice, comfortable evening

After so much heat and humidity, I enjoyed sitting on our patio and watching the sun go down.  Listening to the birds sing and seeing the planes fly over.

It's supposed to be hot again next week.  I am ready for fall!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Bees Knees?

I looked up the definition of "bees knees".  There are a variety of definitions, most say it means something is swell, excellent, above average.  There is also a cocktail of the same name.  Who knew?

Well, I have knees.   Two knees.   (makes me think of Sesame Street "I've got two knees, one two...".  My knees are not swell or great or above average.  They hurt.   A lot.    Not when I am sitting.  Not when I am asleep.  But, whenever I stand up I don't know what's going to happen.    Much of the time I just kind of shuffle.  I rarely use a cane in the house.  I always try to remember to take it with me when I go out.

There have been so many skinned knees in my childhood.  And as an adult too.

I got my first bike for my 10th birthday.  It was purple.  I was probably the only kid my age in the neighborhood that didn't know how to ride a two wheeler.  I fell.  Scraped up my knee.    That day (maybe that week, it's been a while) I was in a ballet recital.  A part of the recital involved kneeling.  Of course, I was supposed to kneel on the knee that was hurt, but I had to switch sides.

Another time I have no idea how I hurt myself, but there was gravel and junk under my skin that got infected.  On my knee of course.   I had to get a shot of penicillin, and had a big bandage wrapped around my leg at knee level.

Then there was my first ski trip (well the first after the age of 7 in Afghanistan).  We were on a high school field trip to what is now known as Ski Liberty.   We took a quick lesson and then we were instructed to hold onto the rope tow.  One of the girls from my school got a ways up the hill and somehow managed to "ski" down the hill backward, screaming.  She was stopped when she backed into a fir tree.   There was a person ahead of me on the rope tow.  That person was holding their ski poles in a way that looked like I was going to be impaled.   I let go of the rope and fell to the side.  Guess what?  I twisted my knee and went to the ER.  Nothing was broken, but, a large Ace bandage was applied.  I was 16 or 17, I can't remember.

  Some time passed.  I was married and had three kids.  We were in Oslo (we were living in Tromso at the time).   I fell crossing the street in Oslo over 30 years ago.  I had then baby, Darcy, in a back pack and was holding hands with Courtney and Morgan.  We were stepping across tram tracks and my shoe slipped on the track and I fell.  Hard.  On my knee.   It turned purple.  I never had it checked out, but I always thought that I must have cracked my knee cap.

Twelve or thirteen years later, we were living in Perth, Western Australia.  It was getting near to the end of our tour there.  One place that I really wanted to see was  Rottnest Island.  You have to take a ferry to get there, and cars are not allowed.  We rented bikes and rode around.  Chance was just learning to ride a bike, so we couldn't go to far to fast (we may have brought his bike).     As we were riding along, going down a hill, the water bottle that I had slung over my shoulder on a strap, slipped forward.  It got caught in the spokes of my front wheel and I went over the handlebars.   Nick was riding his bike behind me.  He says it was a terrible sight to see.  I lay sprawled out in the road.  My nose was bleeding.  My arms were scraped up.  I lost most of the skin on my left elbow.  Broke a few bones in my right hand.  And, you guessed it.  I smashed my knee.    Even so, I went on a camping trip with a group of mums from the kids' school a week later and even abseiled (repelled) down a cliff- bandages and all.   

In May 2015, I was with some friends and their kids.  We were all going to our cars to head to someplace to eat.  I miscalculated the height of the curb and, bang.  Again.

A year or so later, working out at the gym, I was having a great time in spin class.  But, after an hour, spinning, when I stepped off the bike, I couldn't walk.  I tore the meniscus in my right knee.  Oh poo!

I had a minor surgery to clean out the messed up tissue in my knee.   
I wrote "yes" on my right knee and "no" on my left knee.  The doctor made faces on my writing!

I have been having terribly painful knees now for over a year.   I think I posted a picture on a recent blog post of getting steroid shots in my knees a month or so ago.   They really helped a lot.  For a while.

And now, I am in pain again.  I need to have knee replacement surgery.  In both knees.   I am very overweight.  My doctor explained that the risk of complications and infection is greater if your BMI is too high.  So, I am working on my weight with Weight Watchers.    I am hopeful.  I think that if I lose enough weight I will feel better anyway.  But the bone on bone arthritis in both knees will not go away.

I love walking, but I just can't right now.   I want to walk around our new neighborhood and meet our new neighbors.   I can't.   My cane is my friend.  At least there are nice looking ones.  I like my blue and white cane.

I look forward to one day in the not too distant future I will be walking all over the place again!

I have neglected to say how wonderful it is to have a husband like Nick.  I feel like he is doing everything.  He's been the main grocery shopper for years.   He has to stay fit.  I need him!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

August 14, 2018

I've been back from the west coast for two weeks today. 

It was so nice to be able to stay with Courtney in her new house.  She's my first baby.  An adult with her own newly purchased house.   The way the light hit her while we were on her front porch made a beautiful picture of my beautiful daughter.

Courtney and I went to visit Darcy and Jody at their new home in Hillsborough, Oregon.  Darcy still has his big school bus/ prison bus, and since it was parked in the driveway, it wasn't hard to figure out which house they live in!


Jody showing Courtney the garden that she and Darcy have

The second (third?) part of the trip, after leaving Courtney's was to take the train from Portland to Seattle.   I love the train.  Not crowded, big seats, and scenery.

View from the train on the route between Portland and Seattle

Morgan picked me up at the train station, and I stayed with him and Kim for a few days (and nights). While in Seattle we went to see the Chihuly glass exhibit.  I have heard about this before, but had never seen it.  My cousin's daughter, Gwyne and Gwyne's daughter met us for lunch and then to look at the exhibit.   The museum is right at the foot of the Space Needle, which is pretty cool too. 


Chihuly glass with reflection of the Space Needle

Chihuly glass

More amazing Chihuly glass

We also went to the Nordic Museum in Seattle.   

Seattle skyline

Morgan and I visited friends Dorothy and Bob, who's oldest son went to kindergarten with Morgan in 1986.   We hadn't seen each other on at least 25 years.   Dorothy and I became friends because of our sons, but also because of La Leche League.

Morgan drove me to my friend, Alice's house in Mercer Island (a suburb of Seattle) where I stayed for the last days of my trip
Nancy and Alice

Alice and I are friends through a La Leche League online group that was closed when the membership reached a little bit over 40. The email group started in 1975 or 76.

I also found a friend, Fran, (another from LLL) who I knew in Hong Kong when Chance was born, in 1990.   Fran was one of the wonderful women who helped me after Chance was born, and Austin, Chance and I were living in a hotel.    I was afraid that after 27 years we wouldn't recognize each other.  But we both recognized each other immediately.  I don't have any pictures of Fran.  I'll have to get her to share her pictures with me.

My flight back to Virginia was cancelled for mechanical reasons.  Re-booking was pretty complicated, so I took the next flight offered by United Airlines.  It left in the evening and got into Dulles at a little after 6 in the morning.

I got to see a beautiful sun rise out the plane window.