Sunday, December 31, 2006

Comments on Comments

Comments are what make a Blog a conversation instead of a monologue. But along with all other aspects of Blogging, there are simply no rules about when it is appropriate to make a comment, what a comment should contain, or whether it is acceptable to read and never comment. These are all things we are learning as we go.

For well over a year, I’m convinced that no one ever read my Blog. I could have written all manner of 4-letter words repeatedly and the world would have been totally ignorant of my pain.

But then something changed about a year ago when I started meeting Bloggers through DC Blogs and I gradually cultivated what I refer to as my little Blog family. We are dependable to be there for each other when there are tears or celebrations or just a good old laugh. It’s these people who read my Blog on a regular basis and I miss them when they take a break.

There is another group of Bloggers, mostly much younger, who surprise me now and then. I get so excited when I see a comment from one of them. I just added 8 new links based on comments I had received over the past couple of months.

There is yet another group of people who don’t write but periodically read. Two of my oldest and dearest friends, my physical therapist, and my son fall into this category. They occasionally leave a comment.

A final group are readers who never comment and never reveal their identity. I have one in San Francisco, one in Tampa, one in New Jersey, one in Vancouver, and possibly a few others.

But back to the comments themselves. Here are the basic rules I follow:
(1) I leave a comment only if I have something to say in response to what I read. It needs to be more than a calling card that says you stopped by. A sitemeter can provide that information.
(2) Initially I thought it was rude to talk about myself, but I find more and more I am interested in that people have to say that is tangential to what I wrote about.
(3) I never leave a comment on someone else’s Blog that says “please come check out what I just wrote.” Comments should not be advertisements. I usually do go read a commenter's Blog, so I don't need to be invited.
(4) I try to answer most comments, if they seem to need an answer.
(5) I read and savor every comment I receive, often marveling at how people see things so differently.

I find myself wondering what happened when regular comments from a particular person stop. Did I say something offensive? Is the person no longer interested in what I am writing? Did the person quit Blogging altogether? This is where Blogging doesn’t suffice for a face-to-face conversation.

There may come a time when I am once again a Blogging hermit, but for now I love the exchange of information with a very diverse group of people. This world of electronic friends makes my life so much more interesting.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

A Visit from Ted

“Did you see the ghost up there by the bimah? Do you suppose it could have been Ted?” my friend asked at Shabbat services this morning. Well, that gave me something to ponder.

My friend is clairvoyant. She sees things in nature that most of us miss altogether. But she also sees supernatural things like ghosts. It’s beyond understanding for most of us, but it is oh so real for her.

She went on to describe that the ghost was swaying and dovening with the prayers. He looked content.

What a wonderful thought about Ted, who died just 10 days ago of a debilitating disease that had not allowed him to sing or to even to walk for months. We missed his deep rich bass voice in the choir. We missed the “OYs” that he added at certain places in the yism’chu.

The thought that Ted had returned to his beloved congregation, where he had prayed every week for the 40 years prior to his confinement at home, was the high point of my day. Even if I couldn’t see this apparition, just the imagination of it did my heart good.

What a gift to be able to see beyond the living! What a surprise to be reunited with Ted this morning. It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise at all. Where else was I more likely to encounter him?

Friday, December 29, 2006

An Unexpected Gift

I will probably most remember Gerald Ford as the President who gave me a 4-day weekend. The timing of his death was most fortunate for all of us Federal workers who now have the next 4 days off.

I remember President Ford as a nice guy, who inherited the Presidency. I can’t think of a thing of great note that he did while in office. He kept his nose clean and didn’t speed up our already rising rate of inflation. Although he couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time, he comes off as basically a nice guy who lived a very full life. We probably actually remember more about his wife as a person because of her admission to addiction.

As I look ahead at 4 days of freedom, I’m already starting to see the time just slip away as it seems most often to do. I start out with great plans – some cleaning projects, walking the dogs, practicing the piano, maybe a movie, cooking some typical New Year’s food (but definitely not black eyed peas and hog jowl). You know, best laid plans.

Lately I have reached the end of so many weekends saying if I had just one more day, I could maybe have accomplished something.

Well, I have it – one more day, that is. We’ll see if it actually makes a difference.

In any event, thank you President Ford for dying when you did so as to give us another day of our own. May you rest in peace.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

New Kid on the Blog

Meet Dsquared, who writes a Blog called "Draw Conclusions on the Wall." I know him well, or at least I think I do. Sometimes a person’s Blog reveals things that even his spouse didn’t know.

He started his Blog a year ago at my urging, wrote a handful of posts, and then quit. But it’s the lure of technology that has rekindled his interest in Blogging. He quickly learned how to insert "movies" in his Blog. He then discovered Wordpress and moved his whole Blog (all 10 posts) over, in the process making it look quite nice.

Meanwhile, he’s starting to notice things in his daily (retired) life and write about them. He’s a great writer, he’s funny, and he has a wide variety of interests. So I’m hoping his new fascination with Blogging will continue.

He was highly insulted when he discovered he was no longer on my link list from a year ago. I explained that I periodically go through and delete links for people who don’t seem to write much any more. I’d say 10 posts in a year had put him in that category. But he’s now back in my list of favorites, where hopefully he will be actively writing.

The fact that he’s now reading my Blog on a regular basis keeps me vigilant about what I write concerning family members. He’s not a man of many (extra) words, but when he comments, it is right on target.

So, go introduce yourself and see what he has to offer the Blogosphere. Maybe I’m partial, but I think he is pretty good!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

That Week In-Between

I'm in charge this week while my boss is away. If everyone were here, it might be a big deal because there are probably 70 people in our division. But I am in charge of a bunch of empty offices and perhaps a dozen or so hearty souls who either didn't have enough leave to take off or had nothing better to do than come to work.

In many ways the government would probably save money by just telling everyone to stay home during the week between Christmas and New Years. It's hopeless to think of having meetings or making decisions or getting policy memos out the door. It is just a week where people can do all of those nasty things they have been saving for a slow day.

The few people in my immediate area are doing things like checking to make sure important systems cross over the year boundary with no glitches. But other than that they are just preparing for work that will happen when everyone gets back.

I miss the "Ten Days of Eating" that happened just outside my door in the countdown to Christmas. I was tempted numerous times by all sorts of homemade food as various groups tried to outdo each other. A bag of stale cookies is all that remains.

I even miss the shouting matches with all those people I have been fighting with. Did I really say that? At least it exercised my lungs and my brain.

As Reya pointed out, there are some good things in the Blog world to read this week. Not many people are posting, but those who are have interesting things to say.

So we'll drift through the week in-between and soon embrace the New Year, when things will be poppin' once again. I will no longer be in charge, but that's just fine with me.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Cheap Entertainment

Yesterday as we waited for a table for dim-sum with a literal sea of Asians at Lucky Three in Baileys Crossroads, we were thoroughly entertained by a couple of 8-year-old little girls with dark black hair and beautiful Chinese eyes. They had a whole series of rhymes with hand gestures and even foot gestures and they were glad to have an audience.

The first one had to do with lemonade and I can't remember the words. The second one began with:

Welcome to MacDonalds.
Can I take your order?

and ended with

Don't forget your apple pie.

I wish I had a movie of the girl in the pink sweatshirt who knew ALL the words perfectly and got annoyed when her partner messed up. Her little brother was studying hard so as to join the game.

We remarked that these kids would have happily stood in line for hours doing their rhymes over and over and over again. No equipment necessary. No batteries needed. No referee required. Who could ask for better behaved children?

This took me back to the summer of 1960, when I was 11 and Nancy Knott visited her elderly aunt Miss Green, who lived across the street from us. What a godsend! These were the days when we just stayed home for the summer, playing outdoors or otherwise entertaining ourselves until our mothers called us home to supper.

Nancy was from Knoxville, Tennessee, and she was a beautiful charmer, who knew a little bit about everything. She quickly introduced me to the following rhymes, much like those of the Chinese girls:

That's tough.
What's tough?
Life's tough.
What's life?
A magazine.
How much?
Ten cents. (This shows the effect of inflation.)
Haven't got it.
That's tough
....and you start all over again going as fast as you possibly can.

Or a slightly racier one:

Lulu had a steamboat.
The steamboat had a bell.
Lulu went to heaven.
The steamboat went to ...
Hello operator,
Give me #9.
If you disconnect me,
I'll kick you in the ...
Behind the refrigerator,
There lies a broken glass.
Lulu fell upon it
And broke her little ...
Ask me no questions,
I'll tell you no lies.
You bake me cakes,
And I'll bake you pies.

And then there was the impossible:

One day in the middle of the night,
Two dead boys got up to fight.
Back to back they faced each other.
They drew their swords and shot each other.
The deaf policeman heard the noise,
And came and shot the two dead boys.
And if you don't believe this story's true,
Ask the blind man. He saw it too.

In addition to rhyming the summer away, Nancy Knott taught me a whole repertoire of Heart and Soul and Chopsticks variations that I still play today. She and I sewed together, making identical dropped-waist dresses. Mine was turquoise plaid. Hers was pink plaid. But best of all, she attracted cute boys from blocks away, who all came to my house to play croquet almost every day. We slammed those croquet balls all over my front yard.

I hadn't thought for a long while about that summer so long ago, when Nancy Knott from Knoxville descended on sleepy Panama City and taught us a thing or two.

Think back. Is there a rhyme back there somewhere that you still remember?

Monday, December 25, 2006

Thinking About Food

As I ate a bowl of sectioned oranges and pink grapefruit for breakfast today, I remarked to my husband that I could eat that same thing every meal for at least 3 weeks and not get tired of it. This prompted one of those “what if” conversations about food.

B: What would you eat if you could only have one food, sort of like a last supper, but only one thing?
D: Chocolate cake.
B: What if you had to eat the same food for the next 3 weeks, what would it be?
D: Not chocolate cake.
B: Then what?
D: Cereal with milk, bananas, and blueberries.

Not me. For my last supper, I would have chosen expensive caviar on little pieces of toast with capers and some good sour cream. I would still go with the cut-up mixed citrus for 3 weeks. I could probably even go longer without tiring of it.

I posed the same questions to our friend who did Chinese food and a movie with us this afternoon. She went along with the chocolate cake for her last food. But she liked the idea of either salad or rice for 3 weeks.

And what foods would you request? One time and for 3 weeks straight? It makes you think about what you really like and how often it would take to make you sick of it.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Different Sort of Christmas Eve Service

Instead of going to church for midnight mass, we found ourselves sitting shiva for our beloved friend Ted Cron, who passed away last week. Ted had suffered from ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease, for the past two years. But this week he breathed his last labored breath.

Ted was a charter member of Temple Micah. He was a pillar of the choir. He was someone everyone listened to. He was brilliant, but he also knew how to have fun.

With Ted’s passing, I felt a wellspring of guilt over not visiting him as frequently as I should have. Death has this way of making some intentions impossible.

Tonight we gathered at his home for a brief service with his family to recognize his passing and to initiate a week of such gatherings. There is nothing like the presence of friends and neighbors to cut through the somber grief of the moment. There was a chance for people to reminisce and they certainly did. There was such a solidarity as we read and chanted together. At least 60 people packed into a rather small space to remember Ted.

We sang together the third verse of Yism'chu, the one that Ted often sang as a solo, where he added the embellishments that made us all smile. This is a song about observing the Sabbath. His verse reminds us to remember creation.

One rather sad note. This weekend his granddaughter was called to the Torah for her bat mitzvah. He tried so valiantly to hang on long enough to be there for her, but he just couldn’t make it. She will forever associate the death of her grandfather with her bat mitzvah.

Once again I was reminded of the feeling of community that emanates from any Temple Micah gathering. These people really care about one another and they care about me. They have become my second family. I am so lucky to be a part of this group.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Christmas Spirit Is Alive and Well

Will someone please remind me never to go into any grocery store 2 days before Christmas? It took me 15 minutes just to park in the Whole Foods Arlington parking lot. There was hardly a cart left out front. I knew I was in trouble as I went to do a rather light shopping.

I elbowed my way through aisles crowded with people reading ingredients off recipes printed from If they had had horns on their shopping carts, there would have been a lot of honking. These Christmas shoppers were serious!

Never have I seen the store so packed with food. It was rather like being pregnant with food. There were larger quantities and fancier displays. It was hard to imagine the shelves would be depleted by Christmas eve as they closed for their once-a-year day off.

I had decided on a special but simple dinner tonight – a rack of lamb with some sort of potatoes and a big salad. As I got to the pastry counter, I spotted the perfect dessert – a little chocolate tart that would be perfect split between two people. But there was a problem: It came as a package of 3 tarts for $16.99. I politely asked if they could sell me just one, to be told that it was impossible to repackage the tarts, despite the fact that most other small desserts were being sold singly.

Consistent with my recent stubbornness at work, I took the triple-tart package to Customer Service, where their first response was “What would we charge you?” I suggested 1/3 of $16.99 would be appropriate. The young girl told me to go get in line while she found something to package my singleton in.

As I was finally putting my groceries onto the check-out counter, the Customer Service girl appeared and handed me the box, now marked SAMPLE, and said “Merry Christmas!” In the middle of a rather chaotic store, this kind gesture reminded me of the spirit of the season.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Yes, I'm Ready for Christmas

Every year it's the same questions leading up to the big day: Are you ready for Christmas? Have you finished your shopping? It's a lot easier for me to just say yes than to explain that I don't celebrate Christmas and I actually do very little shopping.

Just this morning as I was feeling that awful compression that comes with a mammogram, the technician was trying to make small talk to distract me from the unpleasantness of the whole procedure. She told me in great detail about her final trip to the mall just in case there was one more present to buy. GROAN – please just let me breathe and make this machine let go of me!

Even as I got my teeth cleaned on Wednesday, the hygienist told me the details of her last-minute shopping and her anxiety over whether AMAZON.COM would deliver on time.

At one time in my life I too was caught up in this list-making and trips to malls with angry scenes in the crowded parking lots. But I can truthfully say I have not been in any mall since Thanksgiving and I'm probably a lot better off for it.

Here's the sum total of my shopping this year: I bought my friend Reya a kipa and a mezuzzah at the Judaica shop of Temple Micah. I bought Quentin a bottle of Belgian ale so he can continue to maintain that layer of "padding" that helps him in his PT practice. My daughter got a gift certificate to REI for Hanukkah. My son got an interest-free loan to tide him over until he starts to collect a paycheck as a lawyer in California. My husband and I didn't give each other gifts, opting instead just to light the candles each night of Hanukkah.

I love the fact that when I leave work today, I won't have to come back until Tuesday. I love the fact that my husband and I will join up with our good friend to go out for dim-sum (with the Asians and all the other Jews) on Christmas day and then we may take in a movie. By that point, the whole world ought to be sighing a big relief that they all made it to THE DAY, where they gave, received, and ate turkey. But some of them will already be worrying about the returns and looking ahead to re-gifting opportunities.

So, yes, I am ready and I am finished with my shopping. I'll just leave it at that.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Fuck 'em

That was my mantra at meditation last night. Not exactly Zen-friendly, but it felt so good to breathe in and out to those words after the day I had had.

If you’ve been following my rantings, you are aware there has been a problem at work that has caused me great consternation. My boss is thankfully now on board. But there are others at my level who continue to try to make my life miserable.

In the spirit of the season and just because I really prefer harmony, I offered an olive branch to the most vocal of those opposing me. I suggested we go out to lunch. She accepted and proposed to actually go out – outside the fence as opposed to eating in the cafeteria – probably because she didn’t want to be seen consorting with "the enemy."

Lunch was actually pleasant until just about the time we were leaving the restaurant, when all of a sudden the accusations started. But the time I reached the elevators in our building, I hadn’t admitted any guilt, but I felt my eyes hot with tears. My olive branch had been snapped and ground into the dirt.

One of her colleagues laid into me later in the afternoon, accusing me of being intransigent and difficult to deal with. My next-door-office neighbor, who managed to hear the latter conversation through the paper-thin walls, advised me to get a stiff drink as we both headed out last night.

Two glasses of wine later as I ate dinner with one of my nearest and dearest friends, I conceived of the meditation mantra. She laughed and said, "You should Blog about that."

Actually meditation is hardly conducive to sustaining anger. After about five minutes of Fuck ’em IN and Fuck ’em OUT, my breathing took on a life of its own and the mantra fell away.

I arrived home to find a message from someone who works for me that could only spell real trouble. I called him to learn what the latest production problem was and started immediately to strategize. My poor brain was moving slowly, but it has been trained like to rat in a maze to deal with processing problems.

As I headed upstairs to check my e-mail and check for comments from Blogger friends, my husband wondered why I had so little interest in just sitting down and talking to him since we hadn’t seen each other all day long. Uh oh, just one more person that I was not able to please. We lit the Hanukkah candles and talked for a little while, but my day was catching up with me and I already knew I would be getting a very early start at work.

I got into work at 6 AM this morning, had the worst of the crisis over by 10, and settled in to read a 45-page document which I wrote and a contractor is being paid megabucks to edit. Blah!

My friend says it’s just the holidaze. I don’t really know. But I’m tired of being made to feel guilty when I haven’t done anything wrong.

I’m somewhat tempted to go up to the top floor of the building, where there is actually a decent view of the city, find a door leading to the roof, and go up there and yell "Fuck ’em" at the top of my lungs. I can only imagine how good it would feel.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Contemplating Cleaning

I got up today with cleaning on my mind. I had an early dental appointment to get my tartar-laden teeth cleaned. As I came downstairs I suddenly started noticing things everywhere that needed to be cleaned. This was starting to sound like that instinctive cleaning frenzy that inevitably takes place before childbirth. NOT in my case.

As for the dental appointment, I came prepared with confessions about my failed flossing routine. Cindy just listened knowing all too well what she would see when she looked into my mouth. After lots of scraping and a few bleeding gums, she did the polishing with that pasty stuff that reminds me of silver polish. Then the ultimate flossing that always feels so good because someone else is doing it and because it means another cleaning is over. She simply said, "Maybe you should make a New Year’s resolution to floss more and better." Fair enough. To which I responded, "I do every year, but it just never seems to happen. That’s why I come see you."

Back to the house and its growing need to be really cleaned. Angelina cleans our house every two weeks. But her efforts are more about getting rid of the growing quantity of dog hair and the obvious spills here and there. She never opens the drawers and cabinets where I throw things in an effort to get them out of the way. She doesn’t do anything with the growing piles of things other than move them aside to dust.

I thought about making a list room by room, which might go something like this:

Living room:
Get rid of all the coats hanging in the closet that we never use.
Find some newer photos to put on the mantle.
Clean up the piles of piano music.
Dining room:
Polish the silver.
Find places for things that just got abandoned here.
Find something more interesting to put on the walls than the antique plates that my husband hates.
Get rid of SO MANY things we don’t ever use.
Clean out the freezer.
Throw away the ridiculously chipped plates.
Get rid of all the Tupperware containers that don’t have tops.
Get rid of the growing piles on the counters.

You get the picture. The bottom line is that everything belongs somewhere, and many things belong in the trash can. There are so many things in my house that just linger because nobody has bothered to think about where they belong.

This could be a really big project, the kind I could best take on if I were to retire. But hardly the kind of enticement to make me hurry up and retire. I don’t really intend to return to that anal state I once was in where I could hardly go to sleep at night if anything was out of place. The sad truth is that I really don’t care very much about any of the above things on my to do list and I can guarantee that my husband cares even less.

I can contemplate cleaning without actually having to do it. But then again, maybe over one of these upcoming long holiday weekends, I will actually plunge in and tackle a room or two. It will probably give me that same sense of satisfaction that cleaning the refrigerator or the oven does.

How do you feel about REALLY cleaning? Do you do it or conveniently put it off?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This

I am rarely in a bad mood, but today I woke up ready to bite everyone’s head off. On the way to work I was rehearsing any of a number of arguments I could have.

This was to be a half day of work, followed by a lunch for volunteers at Temple Micah, and then I planned to take the afternoon off to hang out with my husband who just came back from a trip out of town. So it was supposed to be a day of leisure from noon on.

Instead I got a message at work reminding me about a 6:30 meeting at Temple Micah for something I got coerced into doing. I had never heard about this meeting before today. What nerve, I said. Argh!

I’m anxious at work about something my staff completely botched earlier in the week and which is now overdue.

I sat in an hour-long meeting at work where they didn’t talk about a single thing of interest to me. What a waste of my time and the government’s money.

The afternoon plans that started out in my head as a trip to visit museums turned into taking in a movie, which then turned into just coming home.

I usually have competing ideas for something to write about, but I was hard pressed to come up with this drivel. There are some days when the glass is simply half empty.

Maybe I need to take a happy pill. Or maybe I just need a swift kick in the ass to remind me how good my life really is.

Monday, December 18, 2006

A Hanukkah Must Eat

Who would have ever imagined we would be outside on the deck frying potato latkes in mid-December? It was probably a good thing since they ordinarily leave behind that stale fried smell that lingers in your house for days.

My plan for making latkes this season got scuttled when my husband went out of town and my good friend and I couldn't get together as planned. But then a neighbor took pity on me and invited me to share a typical Hanukkah dinner with her family last night.

In joining someone else, I realized it was not my choice as to what kind of potatoes we used or how we grated them. I just showed up with my electric skillet to help fry.

It was an unseasonably warm Sunday, so she had the brilliant idea of frying latkes on the deck. The house already had enough smell of slowly cooked brisket that it didn't need the additional fried potato smell.

By the time I arrived, she had made the batter, which looked like mushed potato glop. She admitted to having forgotten to squeeze out the grated potatoes before adding the eggs, so it was somewhat watery. That was OK. I just asked for a slotted spoon to allow the liquid to drain off. Then I started to fry the latkes in the hot oil, noticing just how much "aroma" was wafting into the open sky.

We called it quits after frying about 3 dozen or so. Everyone declared them the best ever as we ate them with sour cream and apple sauce. It is hard to go too far wrong with fried potatoes.

But they weren't my style of latkes. Instead of being big and heavy, I like latkes that are thin and crispy, sort of like fried birds' nests. I use some combination of the following ingredients:

Grated Yukon gold potatoes
Grated onions
A few scallions with the green part cut into small pieces
Matzo meal
A little baking powder

The idea is to take a small amount of the grated potatoes and onions and fully process it, but leave the rest in its grated form. The potato-onion mixture should be put in cheese cloth and squeezed to remove the liquid before adding the other ingredients. You then drop large spoonfuls of batter into (canola) oil at 375 degrees in an electric skillet. When they are brown and crispy, they should be drained on paper towels and then eaten while they are still hot.

I was grateful to share this annual treat with people I have known forever and with whom I have shared many meals and significant life events. But I did miss my kind of latkes...

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A Card for All Seasons

I’ve gotten to the point that I give holiday cards to just a few special people each year. No holiday letter copied and sent to the world. No e-mail to everyone I know. But rather just a few handmade cards.

Pauline inspired me to pull out my card-making supplies a couple of days ago. After fighting with rather hardened bookbinding glue for the first card, I realized that I had to make a trip into Georgetown yesterday to my favorite store The Paper Source for some new glue. Of course I can never just go in and buy one thing. I like this store just about as much as I like a hardware store. I bought more colorful paper and some little gem-like stick-ons as well as the glue.

This year there seems to be the holly for Christmas and candles for Hanukkah. Maybe I’ll get inspired to come up with a new design. But these seem to work and each card is going to a different person.

Looking out my window, I just saw my neighbor collecting his paper in what look to be flannel Christmas pajamas!

I have an annual neighborhood cookie party to go to this afternoon.

Then there are potato latkes and brisket at another neighbor’s house. Thank goodness since my latke party with a friend last night didn’t happen.

These are the things I enjoy about the season – making cards, Christmas pajamas, cookies, and latkes.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A Season of Miracles

As I was walking back to my car last night from the Temple Micah Hanukkah extravaganza, I was alone without a hand to hold or an arm to hold onto. Suddenly I realized that I was walking differently. My right foot was working almost like my left one instead of being so frozen at the ankle, the real source of my walking problems. It was just a little change, but one that was noticeable and exhilarating.

I had seen Quentin for PT yesterday morning. He had taken the measurements necessary to keep the insurance dogs at bay. I was surprised to hear him say how much the ankle had changed, but never thought about it again until last night. He worked a lot on my ankle as usual and on stretching out my right hamstring, which never allows my right leg to fully extend as I take a step. We worked on a particular aspect of my gait that tends to swing my hips to the right. He suggested something for Chris, my pilates teacher and another one of my “dream team” members, to try in an effort to fix that piece. And then there was that cranial-sacral acupuncture session on Thursday.

Who knows? Maybe it’s these things in combination that are finally starting to show results. That was the whole idea, wasn’t it?

This little revelation last night reminded me of when I got glasses for the first time and said, “Oh-my-God! This is what the world really looks like.” Instead last night I found myself saying, “Oh-my-God! This is what walking should feel like.” I’m sure I’m back to the old way of walking today, but it was a glimpse of what might be possible and I love it!

Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles. What a gift!

Friday, December 15, 2006

An Encounter with Acupuncture

Yesterday's acupuncture treatment had an unexpected twist at the end. It was just so totally different from what I had previously experienced.

I went to see my doctor Neil, the physiatrist, yesterday. In addition to manipulation he also does acupuncture as a way of dealing with physical problems. He was trained at UCLA, one of the best schools in the country for acupuncture.

For my particular case, he had advocated scalp acupuncture, noting that there are definite points in the brain that connect to all other parts of the body. He said he had actually done a lot of study in preparation for my appointment. Having received acupuncture from two different practitioners, I was familiar with the preparation of placing the needles. In my case there were 3 in each leg, 3 in each of my lower arms and hands, and 11 in my head, mostly on the right. He explained what he was doing as he inserted each needle accompanied by "a little pinch". I asked him to turn off the hideous fluorescent lights before leaving the room.

The idea is that you rest undisturbed with the needles in the various points of your body. You actually fall into an almost trance-like state, much as in meditation.

I was totally unprepared for what happened next. After I had rested with the needles for proably a half hour, an assistant I had never met entered the room, switched on the hideous lights and proceeded to remove all 23 needles. As she left the room, she announced, "You're done now."

WHOA! I had been used to acupuncturists trained in the Chinese tradition of monitoring various pulses before, during, and after treatment. There was intentionally nothing abrupt, allowing the patient to gradually return to full consciousness and re-enter the world.

I made it clear that I expected at least a closing discussion with my doctor before being told to pay up and go home. So I sat and stewed and sat and fumed and sat some more.

Finally as I was leaving a message for the doctor that I was not happy and I expected a phone call, he appeared, looking rushed and guilty. He had gotten tied up with another patient who had an unending stream of questions.

I screamed about the lights and then suggested he bring in a desk lamp for this purpose since the overhead lights are simply not compatible with acupuncture. He agreed. We talked about the differences between his style of acupuncture and typical Chinese acupuncture that is so geared to pulses.

We talked about what was next on his agenda for treating me. By this time I was feeling better. But I noted that getting angry right after an acupuncture treatment takes a lot of energy that I didn't have.

As I shook Neil's hand upon leaving, I realized that we have a good working relationship and that there is a lot of ground we still need to cover together. Yesterday's visit was just not exactly what I had planned. I will be interested to see what comes of it, as the results of acupuncture often play out gradually over the next few days after treatment.

(If you are not a believer in this form of treatment, you are probably saying "And why would any sane person let someone place 23 needles in her body and leave them there for 30 minutes?" But, on the other hand, if you are a believer, you understand perfectly...)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Dessert Made Easy

Remember that "fondant au chocolat" that I raved about in France? The dessert for which I begged Steve to find me the recipe? Well, we found it at Trader Joe’s and it takes only one minute to prepare!

I was always the person who refused to use a cake mix, preferring instead to make everything from scratch. And bought desserts – they were simply synonymous with being lazy! That is, until I discovered that Trader Joe’s sells affordable desserts that would take me hours to make if I were to even attempt them.

This is just one more example of a TJ hit. My husband came up with this frozen wonder, which he pulled out of the freezer when we had last-minute guests over for dinner. The box contains 2 little containers of this chocolate cake that becomes warm and gooey and delicious with just one minute in the microwave. The cake is so rich that one "cup" of it can serve two people. I simply add a mixture of fresh berries and a dollop of vanilla or coffee ice cream and serve. Couldn’t be easier.

In my old age I’m finally learning to enjoy entertaining the easy way. I am spending less time in the kitchen cooking and cleaning up and more time sipping chilled white wine in the company of my guests.

Try this one – TJ’s Lava Cakes. You will see what I mean!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Plight of the Illegal Alien

T. C. Boyle's "The Tortilla Curtain" touched off a spirited debate at our couples book club. It painted ugly pictures of the plight of illegal Mexicans and the privileged whites who lived in a gated community in the LA suburbs.

From the opening scene where Candido gets hit by a white guy in a Lexus while crossing the road and paid $20 in damages, the impoverished Mexican and his wife America suffer one awful setback after another, including rape, robbery, and fire. They had struggled to get into this country illegally, she is 17 and pregnant, and they are living outside in a canyon for want of a better roof over their heads. The agony of getting occasional work through the labor exchange and the depth of their poverty are beyond belief. At the end of the book Candido is resorting to catching and stewing up domesticated cats to survive and feed his family. Ugh!

Their counterparts are Delaney, a self-proclaimed naturalist, and his successful-in-real-estate wife Kyra. They have a whole different set of worries from the Mexicans. Delaney actually initially opposes the wall and gate that are erected around their Arroyo Blanco community to keep out the despicable Mexicans and the coyotes, but by the end he is every bit as disgusting as his neighbors. They worry about their house and their cars and their clothes and their things.

These families are subjected to the same natural disasters in the end, which in a sense puts them on equal footing, but along the way their differences are quite pronounced.

The book causes you to stop and evaluate where you come out on immigration laws. We all know that if we just opened up the border between Mexico and the U.S., there would be a constant stream of immigrants hoping to enjoy the good life in this country. But instead they must sneak in and then hide from authorities, while providing cheap labor to anyone willing to pay with no recourse if they get screwed. This often means hazardous conditions in the workplace, disregard for the minimum wage, no access to health care, and on and on and on. On the other hand, for most of them staying in Mexico or El Salvador or any other Central American country would only present a dead end. So they take a chance on their dream, often at great personal and financial sacrifice.

I have a hard time with deporting someone who has risked everything to come here. I also have a hard time not recognizing their right to services and the privileges of anyone else living here.

But there is still this issue of whether an illegal alien has the right to take a job that might otherwise be done by an American citizen or at least someone who is here legally.

And what about their innocent children? I understand that they are not eligible for admission to most U.S. colleges and universities, where they would inevitably need financial aid. When can the American dream kick in for them?

The story of Candido and America hit me in the gut with the depiction of their plight, which is probably all too real. I found myself hating the rich Americans and wanting them to be consumed by the forest fire and the mudslide in return for their totally unacceptable behavior toward the Mexicans.

Immigration policy is a tricky wicket. I'm really undecided on the issue of who should be able to come in legally. But I am of a mind to recognize and support those who are here by whatever means. They are humanity too.

So have you branded me as a bleeding liberal? Where do you come out on this issue?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Feeling the Stress of the Season

Once again I am finding that the holiday season tends to bring out the worst in some people. Last weekend our waitress at lunch was obviously pissed because we wanted to sit at a table near natural light instead of in the back of the restaurant. After our weekly hour of playing music together, my friend Deborah complained that she was the only one in her household who was interested in making Christmas happen, so any preparation was going to fall on her shoulders. Yesterday as someone in my yoga class was approaching the yoga studio on her bicycle, I heard her yell "ASSHOLE" at a driver who almost ran her over. During class we listened to people sitting on their horns in the streets outside.

I am thinking to myself, isn't this supposed to be a time of brotherly love? Instead it's more like ‘Tis the season to be hateful!

My yoga teacher, who is infinitely wise, commented that instead of being so focused on THE DAY, we should try to enjoy the process of getting there. As I thought about this more, I realized that it's not just Christmas, but many big events in our lives that we agonize over instead of seeking out enjoyment along the way. This brought to mind my wedding, our children's bar/bat mitzvahs, special birthday celebrations. We tried to put this thought in practice during our class, diminishing the image of the final perfect pose and simply enjoying the many stretches in our attempt to get there.

Maybe if we just skipped a year of Christmas, people would rediscover the missing joys of the season and the seeds of brotherly love could germinate. Meanwhile, I'm on high alert for holiday crazies, because they indeed abound out there.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Cost of Birthing a Baby

Another of my recent "finds" in the basement was the bill from the Lisenby Hospital, where I was born on January 5, 1949. If you can't read it above, here is the itemized statement:

Patient's name: Wife and baby
Admitted: 1-4-49 Dismissed: 1-11-49
Room: 7 days @ 7.50 52.50
Room fee: 10.00
Anaesthetic 10.00
Nursery & Bracelet 19.00
Drugs 3.50
Total Hospital Bill 95.00

This is quite in contrast to today's charge for a hospital stay! 21 meals at a cost of $52.50 seems like a real bargain to me. I found myself wondering just what drugs my mother received for $3.50 -- maybe a Bayer aspirin or two? I find it interesting that one of the big-ticket items was a baby bracelet for $19. I remember seeing that little bracelet growing up. It contained a series of beads that spelled my name. However, I didn't come across the remains in the basement boxes.

This is quite in contrast to what happens with today's mothers-to-be. First of all most would never think of spending more than a couple of nights in the hospital unless they had had a C-section. But second, the cost for even a couple of days is well over $1000 I'm sure, with a separate charge for every item the hospital provides.

It's interesting to me that Lisenby Hospital eventually became a nursing home. My father spent his final days in the same place where he walked the halls and smoked cigarettes while waiting for me to be born. The price had gone up considerably by the time he became the patient.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Two Years and Counting

I just realized that my 2-year Blogging anniversary came and went on December 7. I have written 708 posts and spent countless hours reading what others have to say. I have made friends for life through my Blog. This was an unplanned and unexpected hobby that I now thoroughly enjoy. I wonder what the future holds...

Sitting on Santa's Lap

My memory of sitting on Santa's lap was one of always trying to hide the fact that I bit my fingernails. In going through some old albums in my basement, I now have proof of this.

My mother tried every trick in the book to get me to stop biting my nails, including bribes, threats, vinegar, you name it. My father, on the other hand, said he bit his nails until he was 29 and then just stopped, so he wasn't too worried.

Every year around Christmas time as we got ready to go see Santa, my mother would mention how much Santa hated nailbiting. I didn't learn the truth about Santa Claus until I was 9 years old so I was still very intimidated as I sat on the one-and-only Santa's lap.

In the above picture I was probably 4 or 5 years old. It was the era of the doubled-under braids so that was about right. I'm sure I asked for a doll and dollclothes as I sat there with my fists clenched so as not to expose my ragged little fingernails.

I'm sure I got the doll and dollclothes and attributed my good fortune to my trip to see Santa. I never got the sense that he really held my nailbiting against me.

Now as I cut my nails short to play the piano, I sometimes remember those days when there was nothing to cut. And seeing Santa in a mall always brings back my yearly trip to Sears or Penneys or wherever Santa happened to be taking requests that year.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Parting with Things

I sometimes wonder if things have a given life span just as people do. I still have such a hard time parting with things when their life is over.

My mother gave me this painted sand dollar from Panama City, where I grew up, around the time I got married in 1976. Since that day it has sat on my mantle on a small gold easel just its size.

Suddenly as we ate dinner with friends a couple of weeks ago, it toppled off its forever perch and shattered into many pieces. There was not a dog or a person to blame for the accident. It simply fell, which seemed rather odd to me. Was it a sudden draft or the heat from the fireplace underneath or some other force that propelled the little sand dollar to the floor?

My first inclination was to repair it – to collect all the pieces and simply glue them back together. But have you ever examined the inside of a sand dollar? It’s filled with little surprises shaped like birds. It’s very difficult if not impossible to put a broken sand dollar back together. I tried Super Glue to no avail. It would never look quite the same anyway because it’s still missing some little pieces.

The little easel sits empty as a reminder of what it lost. I’m sorry to see it go, but I’m trying not to be so attached to things. They are just inanimate pieces of material, or are they?

Friday, December 08, 2006

I'm More Weird Than I Ever Thought

Steve tagged me for a "6 ways I am weird"' meme, suggesting that "BARBARA IS NOT WEIRD AT ALL SO THAT MAKES HER PERFECT FOR THIS." Steve, sadly you don't know me well. After this post, you will see just how weird I am and perhaps go Ewwww.

1. I keep the bills in my wallet in ascending order and all turned with the faces up and in the same direction. I think I inherited this one from my father because he was always very orderly when it came to money. The difference is that he found it hard to part with it and I find it hard to keep it.

2. I get much more enjoyment from setting aside a map (when driving) or a recipe (when cooking) and just finding my own way so to speak. It's not that I don't trust something that someone else has always discovered to be "the right way", but rather I sometimes enjoy getting lost and finding my way back on my own. This is not to say that I haven't gotten hopelessly stranded in some bad parts of town and seen some disasters in the kitchen, but it still beats mindlessly doing what someone else says all the time.

3. When I look at a plate of food, I generally finish off one thing before moving on to another. This means that the potatoes might get cold while I eat the chicken, but it just seems to work for me. This also applies to eating an ear of corn – I do a whole row at a time instead of eating around the cob. (My husband contributed this one, thinking it was not going to raise my ire when I asked him how I was weird.)

4. I do not readily embrace new technology. I like the results of having it, but seem to avoid learning how to use it. To this day, I don't really know how to operate our DVD player or our stereo system or our Advantium oven or my cell phone (other than the most rudimentary making and receiving a call). It's not that I can't learn. It's simply not a priority for me.

5. I don't watch TV. I shouldn't say never, but it is rare. I would much rather immerse myself in a good book or play the piano, but TV usually puts me to sleep. The last show I watched with any regularity was "American Dreams" and it was canned last year. I imagine that if I gave myself a chance I could get hooked on "24".

6. I still think knowing Latin is important. I recognize that it is a dead language. But I find it incredibly useful in decoding new words and in learning other (romance) languages. I tried to talk my children into taking Latin to no avail.

I could go on and on and on, not previously realizing just how weird I really am. But I am comfortable with my weirdness. I can laugh at the absurdities of it. And it gave me something to write about today.

How about Kate, Jamy, Kristin, Dan (as in son), and Cee? If you feel inspired to divulge your quirks, feel free!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Chip Off the Old Block

Last night as I slipped into that place in meditation where I often meet my parents, I found myself saying, "Daddy, I finally understand that summer of the Rohrman trial. I forgive you for our lost vacation. You were just dealing with a matter of principle that was very important to you."

My father was a scientist, a physicist who loved to invent things. Although most of his work as an enlisted man and then as a civilian with the US Navy was confidential, I know that he received multiple patents for inventions having to do with minesweeping.

This is my father (3rd from the left) talking to some of the boys at the U.S. Naval Mine Countermeasures Station in Panama City, FL.

Here he is (on the right) playing with his ham radio rig. He loved to send Morse code.

He never dealt well with the bureaucracy imposed on any government worker. He even refused to apply for a final promotion because he thought it would remove him even further from the technical things he loved.

One summer when I was around 10 years old, we had packed our bags in preparation for a 3-day trip north to Minnesota to see his family. I was always excited about the prospect of a road trip. But suddenly we found the trip to be on hold because of an issue at the naval base where he worked.

It seemed the scientific director, a Mr. Rohrman, was on trial, a trial that seemed rather like a court marshal. My father was testifying on his behalf and the controversy around this whole thing was extremely troubling to him. But he was intent on making the truth known as a matter of principle.

As a 10-year-old looking at my packed suitcase every passing day, I resented this Rohrman guy who was keeping us from going on our vacation. I failed to understand the significance of my father’s commitment to doing the right thing.

My recent work saga reminds me that I am my father’s daughter in terms of my concern for doing the right thing with our data, amid bureaucratic pressure to do things differently. I’m sure he could have identified with my discomfort at being in meetings where I was pushed against the wall and where I felt like I was out on a limb all by myself.

But finally, Daddy, I get it. I understand just how difficult it is to stand up for what you believe when you are swimming upstream. Thank you for your example.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Here's the $10 Gift

Despite all your wonderful suggestions, I brought one of those gifts that no one wanted to steal. It just wasn't meant to be.

By mid-afternoon yesterday I had realized that by the time I went to my class directly from work, there was not even a minute to shop.

So when my husband called to say he was going to REI, I said, "Please find the COOLEST thing you can for my $10 gift exchange present." He dutifully called me with two ideas – variations on a flashlight – and ended up buying both.

As it turned out, the popular items that everyone wanted to steal included 2 bottles of wine (that didn't even cost $10 each), a Santa cookie jar (empty), chocolate truffles, and a LARGE flashlight. I got the flashlight idea right, just not the size! You can always bet on the booze, but the rest is just a crap shoot.

I stole a ceramic garlic roaster as everyone looked aghast (like why would you want that?). My boss later confessed that she almost stole it from me, but figured we had had enough conflict for one week. (It's a good sign when you can start to joke about a problem.)

Next year I simply need to look back at your comments on my previous post for plenty of ideas for COOL gifts. Right now I'm leaning toward a FILLED cookie jar. I can already see it changing hands multiple times.

Thanks for all your collective help and happy holidays to all!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Your Gift Ideas Needed ASAP

I need some help coming up with a $10 present for our office gift exchange by tomorrow. For the past few years I’ve bought wine, ale, anything alcoholic, knowing those are the items that people will "steal" again and again. But there must be something else out there that people want.

The way our exchange works is everyone who brings a gift gets a number. The best number to get is #1. You’ll see why in a minute. We start at #1, who must select a gift from "under the tree." Then #2 can take #1's gift or choose from the pile under the tree. There are up to 3 "steals" for each number. At the very end, #1 can choose any other gift or keep whatever he has.

It’s funny to see what people fight over. As I said alcohol predominates. But then there are silly things. Like one year we came away with the prize gift of a wind-up bird. You just never know. But once something is stolen a few times, everybody wants it.

So help me out here. I don’t have a lot of time to shop, so it has to be easily accessible. What would you buy for $10?

Monday, December 04, 2006

A Matter of Principle

I’ve started to ask myself just how far I should pursue something that is more a matter of principle than anything else. When my husband suggested last night that my objective had become one of "winning the fight," I recoiled from the thought, having viewed myself as one who is not competitive or vindictive, but rather the champion of right.

As a math major, I have always approached problems using logical building blocks. To this end I had prepared a 5-page briefing document for a meeting I attended with some people at fairly high levels on Friday. The principal person arguing against me had obviously done an excellent job briefing her boss because every time she opened her mouth to speak, he was already nodding in agreement. She used terms like "survey best practices" which would make it hard to refute what she was saying if indeed they constituted best practices. They barely looked at my document of all the factual information and pretty much ignored my point of view. I walked out of the meeting somewhat stunned but wondering if there could have been a pre-meeting where the issues were already decided.

I decided to work at home Friday afternoon, where I continued to contemplate this turn of events and ask myself why in the world my logical approach was simply not working at all.

The idea of "survey best practices" also lingered in my mind. I’m not a demographer or a survey statistician, but I have been around survey data for 35 years and I think I know quite a bit about the right thing to do.

Then I had this idea of calling a good friend, who actually used to be at my agency but left to do bigger and better things some years ago. He has a PhD in demography and is a user of our survey data in his current job. I gave him my logical explanation, stating the possible alternatives and he completely agreed with me. Maybe his school taught a different set of survey best practices!

There have been some other indications today that not everyone here in my agency holds the view that prevailed in last Friday’s meeting.

So what do I do now? Get off my soapbox and just let nature take its course?

What’s surprising to me is just how passionate I feel about these data that our respondents give us. As a guardian of their responses, I want to do the absolute right thing. Who would have thought a data processor would have even had an opinion, let alone would have been willing to fall on her sword to defend it?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Sunday Brunch

When we were first going out over 30 years ago, I’m not sure if we enjoyed sex or cooking together more. As good as the sex was, we made some dynamite gourmet food, specializing in brunch.

I woke up today thinking about food. I was mentally taking inventory of all the leftovers in the refrigerator that I could turn into brunch. We seldom eat together because I am usually an early morning person and I live with someone who is definitely nocturnal. But miraculously we got up around the same time today and we were both hungry.

I always like a fruit salad, so I sectioned a pink grapefruit, peeled some clementines, and threw in some red raspberries for color and because I love them.

It turned out we had some good leftovers:
– Mashed potatoes got mixed with sauteed onions and Italian parsley and shaped into little patties to slowly brown in light olive oil.
– Cooked but now cold asparagus donned some leftover reconstituted Hollandaise sauce.
– A couple of pieces of Texas-style Jewish brisket were heated up.

My husband showed up to make his absolutely perfect poached eggs. These eggs don’t come out of little cups, but are free-form in boiling water with a little white vinegar added. The whites are cooked, but the yellows are warm and runny. Just a dab of Hollandaise sauce on top.

A whole-wheat bagel toasted and split between us. Hot brewed coffee and breakfast was served.

Did I want to read the paper? No thanks, I just wanted to eat and savor every mouthful.

The only difference between gourmet breakfast as 20-somethings: My husband said, “Don’t give me too much of that brisket.” To which I replied, “Why? Are you afraid of getting fat?” Yep, that was it. We never worried about calories or grams of fat back then. My philosophy is to take a break from these thoughts from time to time and just enjoy eating. It is one of the real pleasures in life!

Back to Cheerios and green tea tomorrow...

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Three No Trump

I had thought we were going to play Scrabble after dinner tonight. But when someone suggested bridge, I reluctantly agreed, clearly stating that I really suck at bridge and that if my partner yelled at me I would quit. So forewarned, Neal offered to be my partner.

Despite my interest in mathematical things of all sorts, I am just not interested in counting cards and paying attention to the degree you have to in order to be really good at bridge. I can do it if I really try hard, but usually I just don’t care enough. Invariably after about 10 hands, my eyes start to glaze over and I begin yawning interminably.

But tonight Lady Luck was dealing my cards. There was not one hand where I had to pass. I would pick up my cards and see faces and aces every hand. And even when I didn’t get the contract, I had a strong enough hand to support my partner.

Deborah seldom had over 6 points, so she and David were playing a lot of defense. But when your opponents have all the kings and aces as Neal and I often did, no defense is adequate.

It’s after a night like this that I say “Maybe I could learn to really like this game.” But then I remember the games where I have been the one getting lousy cards all night and how discouraging it is.

I’m much more confident of my ability when it comes to Scrabble even though there is still a huge element of luck in terms of what tiles you draw. But I must admit that playing bridge is fun when you are the one taking the tricks.

What’s your game?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Falling Into Strong Arms

Did you ever participate in one of those team-building exercises where you had to fall backwards and trust that a bunch of people would catch you? I was so apprehensive going into the first meeting of my “dream team” yesterday, but what I found was the strong arms of 4 professionals who were determined not to let me fall.

For anyone tuning in to this saga for the first time, a couple of months ago I conceived of this idea of bringing together key therapists in my current life to talk about how to deal with my walking issues. They included a physiatrist (Neil) who served as the leader, a massage therapist (Reya), a physical therapist (Quentin), and a pilates teacher (Chris). They moved mountains to change busy schedules in order to all be available at 4:00 yesterday. My yoga teacher (Leyla) may have a follow-up phone call with Neil, since she couldn’t make it. But never having done anything like this, I worried about how it would work. Would it be strange to be described like some laboratory rat? Would they think it was extremely tacky that I brought along some comfort food in the form of chocolate chip cookies? Would anyone dismiss another therapist’s comments or questions? Yikes! I was full of concerns.

But from the minute we all sat down in the same room, I knew everything was going to be just fine. These people all have one thing in common. They know about anatomy. They know the names of muscles. They know exactly how the body hangs together. I loved hearing them describe my body in technical terms.

They first all went out in the hallway and watched me walk with Neil telling them things to pay attention to. Then we returned to our meeting room to plow into this further. Neil gave the supposed history of my problem. The good news is that it’s rather static, having been with me for the duration of my life. In fact, I don’t know what it feels like to walk any other way. It’s largely caused by a slight brain injury, which means that there are many times when I simply can’t voluntarily do anything to fix it.

It turns out that pilates is the perfect therapy to stretch and strengthen. But one key idea that emerged was that the pilates training could be even more effective if preceded by massage or PT. This also means that yoga might be more effective if it were also preceded by either massage or PT.

I found myself verbalizing things that I hadn’t ever said before, like the fact that I relax when I can hold onto a grocery cart (which functions much as a walker does), allowing me to not rely so much on my better left leg for balance and support. I mentioned how it has always been hard to share an umbrella with another person because of the way my pelvis swings from side to side when I walk. Starting to pay attention to these things, I was reminded last night at a lively Jewish concert how difficult it is for me to dance the hora, even though I adore the music.

We all determined that my goal is not to cure this problem. In fact Neil stated that doctors only cure about 5% of their patients’ problems, and these usually involve infectious disease. My goal instead is to manage this problem, strengthening and perhaps relearning through endless repetition how to walk a different way. Imagine just how difficult it would be to relearn something you had been doing for 57 years.

I loved it that the dialogue had started. They were making plans to continue to exchange ideas about the care and tending of ME! I will continue to see all of these people independently, but now they have met each other and they have my full permission to talk about me in front of me or behind my back.

It was really like the picture above. I had stood on a high place and just fallen backwards into strong and caring arms. My dream team is now official!