Saturday, February 28, 2009

Let There Be Color

It was quite an interesting afternoon as we moved most every room in our house in a slightly different direction from Natural Echo. I could almost feel the interior designer’s head working as he contemplated and then made his recommendations.

Jerry is an extremely interesting guy. He currently lives on St. Croix, having had a varied and exciting life before moving there. He spent many of his formative years in Sweden. He was a special assistant to President Clinton, where he worked in the capacity of organizational management.

At some point he managed to get a master’s in interior design from the Corcoran. Now he calls on both of those degrees to answer the needs of clients worldwide.

He came armed with a huge box of color chips that literally covered the rainbow. As we toured the house initially, I could already see him starting to formulate ideas. He loved the openness and light and worked hard to enhance them in every room.

He quickly dismissed blues and most greens from our palette because our house feels more like yellows to him. The paint chips above represent many of his choices, leaving out a couple like Chinese Red for which he didn’t leave a sample. They are all exciting colors when used in combination. In some rooms we will leave the trim in the current Natural Echo shade, but often the color scheme is much warmer and more interesting.

I am the world’s worst when given a set of paint chips. It was so much fun to work with someone who really knows how the paint looks on the walls.

The good news is if we try something he recommended and don’t like it, he will make a new recommendation at no extra charge. My guess is Jerry usually gets it right the first time.

Now if the stock market would just rebound, we could afford to go out and buy the paint!

Friday, February 27, 2009

A Two-Handed Miracle

As I watched the pianist in last night’s concert, I quickly noticed that most of the time he was holding the little finger on his right hand curled up under his hand, and only occasionally it reached out and struck a note. It was Leon Fleischer and I had forgotten about his struggles to regain the use of his right hand. If last night was any indication, he has made a remarkable comeback.

A friend had given us tickets to see the London Philharmonic at Strathmore Hall last night. It’s a long way for us to go, but it was well worth the effort to get there. We found ourselves sitting in the 5th row of the orchestra, just feet from the stage, in this beautiful relatively new concert hall.

The young Russian conductor Vladimir Jurowski took the orchestra through Mahler’s Symphony No. 10, a work he failed to complete before his death. It had its exciting moments, but paled in comparison to the next piece.

Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 was written at the height of his career. When Leon Fleischer came on stage to play, I suddenly realized that he is an 80-year-old man. But from the minute he sat down on the piano bench and the orchestra played the opening lines, what was completely obvious was how much he loved the piece. Every single note, every single chord was in his head. As he played, he actually moved his mouth as if he were singing along.

His fingers glided over the keys as he executed run after run with perfection. But I was noticing his strangely tucked up little finger and the fact that when he did a trill, he used both hands.

It was only later that I was reminded of what a miracle it was for him to be playing the Mozart concerto at all. In early 1965 Fleisher began suffering from a malfunction of his right hand: the ring and little fingers curled uncontrollably to his palm. The problem was diagnosed in 1991 as focal dystonia, a condition related to repetitive-stress syndrome, which not infrequently affects musicians.

This condition didn’t stop this man, who had been a child prodigy, from playing. He played works written for left hand only, some of which were composed specifically for him. But then in 2004 with the help of some new treatments, he began playing with two hands once again.

Perhaps the joy that radiated from this pianist as he played was his thankfulness for regaining the use of his crippled hand.

The second half of the concert focused on two modern pieces, both of which contributed to 2001: A Space odyssey. Atmospheres by Ligeti is unique because it is devoid of any of the traditional language of music -- no themes, no form, no harmony, no rhythm. Huge blocks of sound, some discordant, characterize the 9-minute piece. It was immediately followed by Richard Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra.

Much of this concert will disappear from my mind. But I will forever remember sitting in the 5th row and seeing Leon Fleischer play Mozart with both hands. What a treat!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Escaping from Neutrality

Our house was built in 1961. By 2000 it had been lived in by numerous small children and pets of varying sizes who had abused the walls and carpeting to the point where my daughter was embarrassed to invite her friends over.

At that point, we pulled up the carpet, gutted the kitchen and much of the house, and pushed out the back of the house to create a large family room and deck. For lack of inspiration, we painted everything “Natural Echo”, a vaguely off-white color. It is still boringly neutral with streaks of wear that mean it’s time to paint.

This weekend a friend is sharing an interior decorator with us, who will look at our house and give us color recommendations. I’ve seen the results of his work and he is indeed creative.

Hopefully Jerry will give us the courage to add bold color here and there, subtle color elsewhere, and leave a hint of neutrality where appropriate. I’m already wondering just what shades he will recommend. Whatever they are, they will be an improvement over a whole house of Natural Echo!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hands and Feet

I decided to treat my feet to a pedicure today since I haven’t been able to reach them in 5 weeks -- not to cut my toenails, not to clean between my toes, not to apply lotion.

I returned to Capitol Nails, where my friend and I had enjoyed manicures and pedicures last summer and then gone out for a drink afterwards.

It seemed so long ago and so much has happened in the months since then. My friend has removed herself from my life, or me from hers; we’ve had a change in the administration; the economy has gone belly up; and I broke my hip and got a new one.

From the outside the nail salon was the same old place. But inside as I had my pedicure, I wasn’t conversing with someone sitting next to me and my technician wasn’t chattering in Vietnamese with the technician at the next chair. Mostly because we were the only ones in the place for the first half hour. It was not quite the same fully booked nail salon as the last time I had visited.

What a luxury for my poor neglected feet to be trimmed and pumiced and massaged with a warm water bath in between each step. I opted for no polish, just the many other parts of the pedicure and thoroughly enjoyed every one of them.

Then I decided I might as well treat my hands as well since they work hard for me too. So I had a similar treatment, with no polish once again but buffing instead.

It will not take me so long to visit Amy again, my technician who actually remembered me from my one and only visit last summer. We learned little more than each other’s name because of her discomfort with English. But her skill with hands and feet more than made up for her lack of communication.

Lunch out afterwards with my husband and friends was a nice way to celebrate a beautiful almost Spring day.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Rainbow of Sound

I love tuning into “From the Top” on Sunday evenings. It’s a program hosted by Christopher O’Riley which features mostly teen-age performers. They are typically phenomenal.

But in addition to performing, the guests are interviewed, often revealing extremely interesting and complex lives.

On Sunday night, a Chinese girl of 17 from New York City played a brilliant piano piece by a little known Czech composer. Then in her interview, she acknowledged that she experiences synesthesia, a condition which causes her to associate colors with various musical sounds. She first remarked about it at the age of 4 when she described to her mother the colors she was hearing.

Some synesthetes say that their special “gift” actually interferes with their ability to listen to music, but for others it’s simply an enhancement.

I started wondering how my colors would be assigned if I was so sensually connected!

Monday, February 23, 2009

I Confess -- I'm Hooked!

I am one of those people who rants against television and claims never to be able to watch anything consistently. But that’s all changed. I am finally hooked. And tonight is my show.

For years now, my husband has been begging me to watch “24” with him and I have been saying “Why do I need all that violence?”

But he lured me into watching the double-episode season opener and I have been hooked ever since.

It’s a fast-paced show, even though all 24 episodes cover a mere 24 hours. But it doesn’t seem to be as obnoxiously violent or loud as in previous seasons. I have actually learned who all the characters are. I love the good guys, hate the bad guys, and often try to guess whether certain characters are good guys or bad guys.

It’s a progressive show. Already “24” has had a black President and the current President is a woman. Did they get the message long before the American public did?

My only other excitement today was lunch out with neighborhood friends. So I have been fixated on the fact that my show is on tonight. We will get to find out if the bad guy’s girlfriend gets the ax. We will get an update on the President’s husband who is in surgery for a gunshot wound to the chest. We will learn a little more about the infiltration of the government. But it is a sure thing that Jack Bauer will save the day (or at least the hour) yet again. I love Jack Bauer! And it remains to be seen whether he will fall in love with the beautiful FBI agent Renee with whom he is currently working. Is there even room for a love affair in a brief 24 hours?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A New Take on an Old Invention

Today’s piano group “Works in Progress” ended on an interesting note. Hal, the host, had an entirely new take on the Bach Inventions.

A month ago I could not have pictured myself even showing up for this monthly gathering of amateur musicians who get together more or less monthly on Capitol Hill to entertain one another.

But I left myself plenty of time to drive to the beautiful house on the Hill where we were meeting, plenty of time to get up the front steps, plenty of time to try out the piano ahead of time.

When it was our turn Deborah and I played our Bottesini concerto, actually getting to the end without having to backtrack and start over, although leaving out her difficult cadenza this time. We’ll play it again next month, a little more polished.

I then played the Chopin mazurka I’ve been working on, once again reasonably well, at least well enough to put the dog and two 9-year-olds to sleep.

When it was Hal’s turn, he announced that he would play Bach’s Invention #13. But first he told a story about the piece that only a psychiatrist could “invent”. He described it as a dialog between a trial lawyer and a therapist, in which each becomes agitated and at one point learn to talk to each other. He gave it to us blow by blow and then played the piece, which was true to his description.

You never know what gems you are going to take away from this meeting of friends. But an added benefit of today’s session was the knowledge that I can now negotiate regular toilets. Life is indeed returning to normal.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Weighty Choice

The opening scene is an accident on a deserted road near Tel Aviv (but could really have been anywhere). A Chinese foreign worker is dead and the dilemma is what to do. Do the 3 occupants of the car who hit the man turn themselves in or leave it as a hit-and-run?

Their egos are much bigger than their consciences and they walk away. The moral dilemma of their decision is somewhat convoluted by a series of affairs going on among the 5 main characters.

Although the police are never involved, by the end of the play all of the principal characters are well aware of each other’s foibles and indiscretions.

It is only the daughter who comes up with something positive to ameliorate the guilt of her parents. She travels to China to inform the dead Chinaman’s family of what has happened to him.

Much of The Accident by Israeli playwright Hillel Mitelpunkt is almost farcical in nature. But the ethical questions posed by what happened on that deserted highway are all too real.

As the four of us rode home from Theater J, we speculated as to how we would have handled such an accident. It's one of those things you hope will never put you to the test.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Choosing Not to Choose China

I read yesterday’s Washington Post article on brides and china and smirked as I recalled my own wedding and the amazement from so many (especially my mother’s southern friends) when I declined to choose a china, crystal, or silver pattern. I chose a Dansk pattern that I could love every day and on all occasions.

The article remarks about a shift in brides’ registering for wedding gifts and choosing traditional patterns. Until about 10 years ago, 85 to 90 percent of couples registered for formal china; whereas today only 45 to 50 percent of couples are choosing fine china.

We both were immediately drawn to Generation Blue Mist and the companion Classique stainless patterns from Dansk. We both loved to eat and to entertain, but we just didn’t need the formality of china, crystal, and silver.

To this day the only pattern we have is our original blue and white dishes. I love them every bit as much as the day we picked this stoneware pattern. Unfortunately they are no longer made, so when we need replacement pieces we must go online and hope to find what we need.

My mother’s Noritake china, with its paper thin little cups, sits boxed in the basement. I suppose I was hoping my daughter might one day want it, but probably not. It’s just now my style or hers.

Don’t get me wrong. I love eating at my friends’ houses, where their tables are set with the finest china, Waterford crystal, and shining silver. I feel elegant. But as they wash every piece by hand and carefully store it away for the next fancy occasion, I remind myself that mine can go in the dishwasher.

I find it so interesting that my early rebellion has become a trend!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A New Job

I have a new job, well sort of a job. I’m cooking in exchange for free food, something I haven’t done since I was a starving college student.

My current experience does remind me of my senior year when I was trying desperately to save money to go to Europe. I hooked up with two guys who agreed to buy all the groceries if I would come over and cook each evening. There was a lot of spaghetti and heavy food, but I was not in a position to plan the menu. I was simply the cook. There was never more than a hint of anything besides family style eating.

A good friend recently approached me with a deal I couldn’t resist. She offered me 1/2 share in a CSA membership for FREE if I would do the weekly pickup, deliver half our take to her, and twice a year do the necessary bagging for pickup. This was a coveted CSA that she had been anxious to join for some time.

Ironically the first pickup was the day after I broke my hip, but my dear husband willingly subbed. What lovely food: fruits, vegetables, legumes, eggs, bread, yogurt, cheese, you name it. Quite plentiful and extremely fresh.

After 3 weeks, my friend observed that she was not able to use up her food each week, because it turns out she’s not much of a cook. So she modified her original proposal to ask I could hang onto to the things that required cooking and just share with her a portion of what I made with them. With most recipes, it’s just as easy to make a little more, so why not?

So far I have delivered serving size portions of split pea soup, lentils, and beet salad. She seems quite pleased and I don’t exactly feel like I’m knocking myself out. In fact, it’s nice to hear praise for the things that I cook, something that is only occasional otherwise.

The good news for me in this time of economic downturn is my grocery budget has plummeted. We must still buy chicken, fish, and a few staples at the store, but many other things are covered by the CSA delivery.

This is a throwback to a much earlier time, when it was common to exchange services instead of money. I’m thrilled to feel like I’m contributing to our income with more than just my government annuity, something for which I am actually quite appreciative.

Now I must turn my attention to figuring out what to do with garbanzo beans (which have been soaking overnight), carrots, and couscous. I think a curry flavor sounds just about right. Something slightly Moroccan perhaps?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Time for a Poem

I can imagine that you are just about as sick of hearing about me and my new hip as I am of thinking about it. So today I will share a poem I encountered in the latest New Yorker. Any mention of a viola reminds me of someone about the age of the French horn player who effortlessly made beautiful music on his viola.

French Horn
by Jane Hirschfield

For a few days only,
the plum tree outside the window
shoulders perfection.
No matter the plums will be small,
eaten only by squirrels and jays.
I feast on the one thing, they on another,
the shoaling bees on a third.
What in this unpleated world isn’t someone’s seduction?
The boy playing his intricate horn in Mahler’s Fifth,
in the gaps between playing,
turns it and turns it, dismantles a section,
shakes from it the condensation
of human passage. He is perhaps twenty.
Later he takes his four bows, his face deepening red,
while a girl holds a viola’s spruce wood and maple
in one half-opened hand and looks at him hard.
Let others clap.
These two, their ears still ringing, hear nothing.
Not the shouts of bravo, bravo,
not the timpanic clamor inside their bodies.
As the plum’s blossoms do not hear the bee
nor taste themselves turned into storable honey
by that sumptuous disturbance.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Look What Came Today

Today I started biking again. Actually it was a stationary bike at PT, but it felt good all the same. We talked about swimming and starting to do cardio things on a regular basis once again so I can get away from the feeling of becoming a slug.

My cool cane arrived in the mail today. It doesn’t give quite the same level of support that a crutch does, but it looks so good, don’t you think? My friend KC and Jake accompanied me on a one-house-longer walk up the street today. I managed just fine with the new cool cane.

My hip has been sore today, mostly after my PT session. She pushed a couple of rotations to that brink of pain in her effort to increase my range of motion. Hopefully by tomorrow I will be relatively pain-free again.

I managed to fit some cooking in between PT and a nap. I made a huge batch of lentil soup with roasted garlic and made a beet salad. Good winter comfort foods.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Flying Solo

Today I made my first trip in the car alone. It was almost like deju vu as I drove to my piano lesson, just 4 weeks after my last one -- the same day I broke my hip.

The driving part is really easy, and not painful at all. It’s actually probably good for my right leg and hip to push on the accelerator and move to the brake as needed.

When I got to my teacher’s house in northwest DC, she came out to help me in with all my music.

We picked up where I had left off 4 weeks ago, with her telling me how all the hours of practice had improved the pieces I was working on. She has such a feel for the details of the music I’m playing. This is why I love taking lessons. She doesn’t let me get by with any crap, including incorrect fingering. “Use your fourth finger instead of picking up your fifth. I heard that break!” she said at one point.

By the time I was finished, I had a 15-pound book of Beethoven sonatas to take home. She picked one and warned me that I might be working on it for 6 months or even a year.

And then she walked me to the car and got me safely inside with all my music for the drive home.

It felt good to be cruising down Rock Creek Parkway, not apparently any different from anyone else on the road.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Yearning for Yoga

One of the things I miss the most as I recover from a total hip replacement is my practice of yoga. It wasn’t that I was ever phenomenal at any of the poses, but the stretching and meditative qualities of yoga served me well.

I’ve touched briefly on this with my physical therapist, who tells me no more child’s pose, no more pigeon EVER! And probably a lot of other poses. This is not what I wanted to hear.

I placed calls to a few local yoga studios, but have yet to get anyone to return my call about the possibility of therapeutic yoga for someone in my condition.

Then I found this online, which was much more encouraging. Not only did this person return to his full practice of yoga, but the yoga helped him tremendously in his recovery.

I’m sure if I ask my surgeon, I will get some ambivalent answer about the ultimate limitations. So my first question is who is an authority I can trust in terms of giving me practical guidance on resuming my yoga practice? I’m still wondering if there is anyone in the DC area who has had experience working with people who have had a THR?

As my strength returns and my pain subsides, I’m getting more and more anxious to pick up my life where it left off on January 20. Yoga and pilates were both important components at that point, so I am now determined to figure out how to re-incorporate them.

As with simple things like putting on your underwear and tying your right shoe, doing yoga and pilates may take some careful planning. At this point, I am ready to find out.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A (uh) 1, 2, 3, 4

There’s nothing like jazz to get your foot tapping. This afternoon we went to fellow-Blogger Cyndy’s masters recital at the U of MD. There was a lot of foot tapping going on.

The recital featured the works of Bob Field, a long-time friend and fellow musician of Cyndy’s who lived in Baltimore. Although he is deceased, his music lives on and fills a niche in the jazz world.

Cyndy was lucky to have 6 other musicians to play with her today as she showed us what a masters in jazz featuring a double bass was all about.

I love the fact that I arrived late and when I asked if I had to wait for a break in the music, the usher said, “It’s just a jazz set. Go on in.” No one missed a beat as I found a seat.

I’m always amazed at the individual musicians’ abilities to show off as it’s their turn to shine. Not ever having played jazz, I don’t by any means understand how that works, how the other musicians know when to join them again. But it seemed flawless today as they passed around the honors, recognizing that it was really Cyndy’s day to show her stuff. And she did quite well!

(Photo courtesy my husband's iPhone despite the no photography sign)

Friday, February 13, 2009

All You Need Is Love, Love

Valentine’s Day is the best excuse to make mushy cards and to receive flowers from a lover. I did both.

Every year my Valentines sort of evolve, sometimes involving cut-outs, sometimes fabric, sometimes ribbon, but always hearts. The message in this one says “A bunch of heart-y wishes for a Happy Valentine’s Day.”

The most unique Valentines were from my friend KC who made clever little heart flowers, some with messages on their petals.

A mug of color arrived midday from someone very special to me. He knows how much I like flowers.

Valentine’s Day wishes to all of you in the Blogosphere. You can never have too much love!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

For the Love of Books and Kids

I struggled with whether or not to read at the shelter tonight. I had to deal with transportation issues, I wasn’t sure about steps and handrails at the shelter, I wondered whether the kids might be too wild. But I really wanted to be there.

I did my driving dry-run today just to prove I was ready. I am positive no one in the next lanes knew I had a brand new hip. I didn’t weave or tailgate or do anything obnoxious. Actually driving felt just fine. But I wasn’t sure I was ready to go solo just yet.

So when I brought up the idea of going to read, my husband and I compromised on his riding along and dropping me off and another volunteer bringing me home.

The children were most interested in my crutch. They all seemed to know where one’s hip is located. They asked me if I was a grandmother, I suppose since I was now walking like older people they might know.

The theme tonight was LOVE, in honor of Valentine’s Day. We read books about love of tools, and love of cats, and so many varieties of love. Despite the emphasis on love, at one point another volunteer had to step in between two kindergartners who were ready to kill each other. Diffusing volatile situations is a skill all volunteers at this shelter need to know.

After the reading, the children made valentines for those they loved. An obviously ADD little boy gave me his valentine. He was the one who had spent part of the reading time hiding behind furniture and making animal noises.

They had sugary heart cookies for a snack, claimed their give-away book, and the hour was over once again.

Although I stayed planted in the same chair all evening, I’m glad I made the effort to go. I really look forward to seeing those kids each month.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Just a Supersized Walker

Today was very much a walking day. It felt good to start stretching my legs, especially on what was almost like a Spring day.

This morning I had the wonderful experience of playing the Bottesini piece with our coach Bill, who was of course playing Deborah’s part with his super-expensive Italian bass. Deborah and I have this way of understanding each other’s difficult parts and making allowances. Bill kept me honest, exposing all the times when I cheated a beat or slowed the tempo. It was a fantastic working session, which hopefully will put me in better shape to play the piece with Deborah.

After my lesson, I walked several blocks to the car (at least the equivalent of 6 houses), turning down the offer to be picked up in front of Bill’s house. It was a nice day and I felt happy to walk.

Then we stopped at Safeway to refill a couple of prescriptions. I opted to come in so I could find a ripe avocado, some little tomatoes, and the cottage cheese I had dreamed of for lunch today. What I discovered is that a shopping cart makes a terrific walker, utilizing some muscles that my crutch doesn’t exercise. The local Safeway is a rather enormous store and the things I needed were on far distant aisles, so add a couple more houses at least.

I was rather tired when we finally got home, but I felt good about all that walking.

After my nap, I went along on the CSA pick up and plotted how I could do it myself next week. It may take a couple of trips to get the produce and me safely into my car, but I’m ready to try.

Tomorrow is my first attempt at driving. Once I am good to go, I doubt I will stop!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Getting Out and Getting Cultured

I just realized it's almost midnight and I've told you nothing about my day. I really do love being busy.

My morning PT session made some inroads on muscles that are still very tight, some of which always have been. As much as strengthening those muscles connected directly to my hip, my therapist is working hard on fixing or at least greatly improving my gait. It's a very interesting process. And I have homework to do, more and more each time. But the end result is a feeling of relief as normal movements become just that.

From there my good friend LR picked me up and we went to the free concert, which turned out to be quite enjoyable. We parked right next to the church and went in a side entrance with no stairs. We sat about 15 feet from the 3 performers: clarinet, viola, piano. They played a varied program that ranged from Mozart to Bruch with a more modern composer in between. It was a beautiful setting for chamber music.

Tonight we went to an Arena Stage performance of Edward Albee's "A Delicate Balance", not exactly an uplifting play, but quite well done. Before the play we ate out, my first meal in a restaurant since my accident.

It was nice to concentrate on music and theater and being with good friends, as opposed to the mundane issues of navigating my house!

I didn't manage to get my walk in today, but tomorrow I'm going for 5 houses.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Officially Disabled

I’m a card-carrying disabled person as far as the state of Virginia is concerned. I’ve always derided many of the seemingly healthy looking people who have such a placard and who park in handicapped spaces, but I now have a new appreciation for the power of that emblem.

I look at this as the first step in increasing my mobility. I hope to soon follow it with driving once again.

It’s amazing what resources are there for disabled persons if they just ask. I called the Church of the Epiphany, the site of tomorrow’s lunchtime concert, to find out if they have any handicapped parking, since it is located in the heart of downtown DC, where people kill for parking spaces. Sure enough, there are two such spaces to the left of the church and they have an arrangement with the neighboring garage (which has an elevator) whereby the church validates your parking. Very accommodating, I would say.

It is somewhat interesting to see the world from the eyes of a disabled person. When we are healthy, we take so much for granted.

My little placard is good until the end of July. I plan to use it judiciously, putting it aside when I feel 100% back to normal. But for now, it is a comfort to know that parking will be less of an issue than it would be otherwise.

Want to park close? Just give me a ride!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Walking in Style

What a glorious treat to go for a walk outside on what seems to be almost like a Spring day! A friend and I slowly walked up my street just 3 houses and back with Jake in tow. Jake kept looking back with each step to make sure I was OK. It was like being released from prison!

At this point I have almost no pain. My single crutch is mostly for self-assurance, not so much to bear the weight that is now going on my right leg and foot.

The interesting thing about my new hip is it seems to give me a balance and stability that wasn’t there before as I struggled with a mysterious wobbly gait. It is just possible that breaking my hip and getting a new one was the solution that doctors were never before able to provide.

I’m thinking ahead to the next step, which is to graduate to a cane. We have a loaner gray metal utilitarian cane which is fully adjustable, but which is also just plain UGLY. I found so many colorful artistic choices with Google. For example, check out this website, the source of the above picture.

My goal is to walk one more house each day as I rediscover the pleasure of being mobile outdoors. I can just see myself going all around the neighborhood with my stylish new cane.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Speaking of Miracles

I woke up in need of a miracle to snap me out of the funk I had fallen into. I’m increasingly frustrated as I look ahead and realize all the things I want to do in the coming week and then remember that I am totally dependent on the good will and generosity of others for transportation.

Those of you who know me well can attest to the fact that I often become quite stubborn about making things happen. For a couple of weeks I have known about a Tuesday lunch-time concert at the Church of the Epiphany given by my choir friend and renowned clarinetist Lora with other musicians. I was sure people in the choir would be going and I could bum a ride. But everyone I have asked so far has other plans and my husband has a doctor’s appointment. I have PT from 10-11 that day and am considering taking a cab from Old Town to attend the concert.

I was tempted to roll over at 6:55 am today and go back to sleep. But instead I dragged myself out of bed and slowly prepared to go sing with my choir about the miracle of Moses parting the Red Sea.

Picture an orchestra of about 20 players, ranging in age from 9 to 75. From one family alone there was a mother, daughter, son, and grandfather – 2 violins and two trombones. Then there was the adult choir of about 20 people. And the youth choir of about 20 primary school children. Rather ragtag, but all intent on making a joyful noise and trying hard to stay on pitch. And did I mention our choir director Teddy, who arranged all the music, playing an electric keyboard and our cantorial soloist, both professionals?

I suddenly found my eyes welling up with tears when the children rehearsed When You Believe:

Many nights we’ve prayed with no proof anyone could hear,
In our hearts a hopeful song we barely understood.
Now we are not afraid, although we know there’s much to fear.
We were moving mountains long before we knew we could.
There can be miracles when you believe.
Though hope is frail, it’s hard to kill.
Who knows what miracles you can achieve?
When you believe, somehow you will.
You will when you believe.

I’m still feeling fragile and vulnerable, not wanting to stand in crowds or accept strong hugs while standing up. People tell me how great I’m doing and I hide my own frustration with my limitations.

I am so ready to be independent once again, despite the huge outpouring of support from so many friends and family. Every day is a lesson in patience and humility as I make small strides and heal a little more.

I suppose it’s only natural to feel a little glum sometimes, but perhaps the morning of miracles will carry over into my week and keep me focused on recovery and not on the challenges of things like finding transportation.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Israeli Election Obama Style

Obama’s election is showing up in faraway places, not so much from the standpoint of how he is governing the country, but rather from the successful campaign he waged. There seems to be a copycat effect in the current Israeli Prime Minister race, which will come to a vote next week.

The female candidate Tzipi Livni is campaigning on a platform that says “Vote for Change.” Where have we heard that? She is even distributing tee shirts with the logo “Believni”. She’s asking Israelis to vote for hope in a fresh start, the way American voters did.

The hawkish Netanyahu campaign has its own tee shirt that says “No, She Can’t”. Sounds rather like McCain to me. He promises not to compromise on security matters even if pressured by the Americans to do so.

The ultra-Orthodox party has a bumper sticker that reads “Yes, We Can” in big blue letters and an addendum below that says “With God’s Help”.

Livni has borrowed from Obama’s heavy use of technology, making her website and her personal Blog a crucial part of her campaign.

She’s probably best suited to work with the Obama government to further the peace process. But there are people who will vote against her for that very reason.

As Israel looks to curry world opinion, much as the US would like to do, this election is a critical one. I suppose it’s no surprise that Israelis are just as interested in change as Americans are.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Some Semblance of Normal

I was determined not to miss my hair appointment today. But two weeks ago it looked doubtful that I would make it.

I had been in contact with my stylist Richard by e-mail and he had even agreed to come to my house if necessary to cut my hair, but no color.

However, when I got down to one crutch, I decided to try going into town for my scheduled appointment. Richard even agreed to come downstairs to the street level to work on hair.

I really had only one concern. What if I needed to go to the bathroom? I could probably have made it downstairs, but it would not be the raised seat that I must use. However, on Tuesday we went to Rodman’s and bought a 4” vinyl foam-filled toilet riser that fits easily into a small bag.

At 10 am today I showed up at Axis to be Richard’s first client. He stowed my coat, scarf, and toilet riser in the closet and then set to work on my pathetic hair. I turned down his offer of tea so as not to need to try out my new purchase.

I managed to move between styling and washing chairs with my crutch just fine, negotiating my way around other people in the busy salon.

Two hours later I emerged from Axis with a much younger looking head of hair. What a difference hair can make!

I felt almost normal as I walked down Connecticut Avenue and got into the car for the trip home. At least being chauffeured meant I didn’t have to call on my parking karma!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Never Too Many Blooms

Yesterday I had a visitor who chose to bring me a get-well gift based on reading my Blog. How cool is that?

The beautiful pink orchid now has an equally beautiful tall amaryllis to keep it company. The blooms are exquisite and regal. It has a little green vine that seems almost like curled ribbon adorning it.

Jake says hello. He wants everyone to know that he is not doing any more wild jumping, but rather has settled into a guide dog role. He slowly follows me up and down stairs and is my constant companion. He delighted in a walk by my good friend yesterday, who found he had the pent-up energy of a dog on good behavior for 2 weeks.

P.S. My replacement camera came. It's like being reunited with an old friend!

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

I knew my progress was too good to be true. I was walking so well the day before yesterday that I thought I was ready to abandon my single crutch.

Then I attempted to stand up from a seated position yesterday morning without completely extending my right leg, the way I had been taught to do it. I felt pain and sat back down, but evidently not before straining some muscle that complained all day long.

I was a bit of a bitch yesterday as I wallowed in self-pity and demanded to be returned to my relatively painfree state of health. I hadn’t had a P pill for over 24 hours. And then I was taking them at 8-hour intervals. All because I forgot to straighten my leg. How much must I remember?

I talked to 100-year-old Aunt Zelda last night, who just had to say, “Remember to be careful so you don’t fall again.” That was almost too much.

Deborah was over to deliver a hook for my crutch. She made me promise to take a P pill before bed.

I need a massage in the worst way. I tried massaging my own hurting leg, but it's not the same as having capable trained hands do it.

So today I go see the surgeon for my follow-up visit. I had hoped to wow him with my recovery as he removed the staples from my 4-inch incision. Instead I will ask him what in the world I did to render my leg and metal hip so sore once again.

I’m making headway on portable toilet risers and an outpatient PT provider, but I can’t seem to have an impact on the healing process itself, which has a mind of its own.

I don’t much like not being in control.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Poetry Day 2009

Some Questions You Might Ask
by Mary Oliver

Is the soul solid, like iron?
Or is it tender and breakable, like
the wings of a moth in the beak of the owl?
Who has it, and who doesn’t?
I keep looking around me.
The face of the moose is as sad
as the face of Jesus.
The swan opens her white wings slowly.
In the fall, the black bear carries leaves into the darkness.
One question leads to another.
Does it have a shape? Like an iceberg?
Like the eye of a hummingbird?
Does it have one lung, like the snake and the scallop?
Why should I have it, and not the anteater
who loves her children?
Why should I have it, and not the camel?
Come to think about it, what about the maple trees?
What about the blue iris?
What about all the little stones, sitting alone in the moonlight?
What about roses, and lemons, and their shiny leaves?
What about the grass?

I love the unanswered questions posed by soul-searching!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

A Thing of Beauty

I'm convinced that beauty is healing. Every time I look at this lovely plant, given to me by Gewels and Bulletholes, I feel better.

There is something very unique about orchids. It's almost as if the design on their petals is painted on. Their shape always reminds me of a lithe ballet dancer.

I love the fact that this one came decorated with matching pink ribbons. Isn't it spectacular in all its pinkness?