Friday, July 31, 2009

oy, my aching feet

"The bunion, the bunion, oh, I hate the Bunion..." (Sung to the tune of "The Bunny" a la Veggie Tales.) I scheduled my surgery for December 21st. Merry Christmas! But it's that or two weeks from now, and I don't want to wear a walking cast for the rest of the summer, thereby ruining the State Fair for the year. I'd rather limp through the holidays. The walking cast is the good news: the surgeon will only break one bone, the name of which I don't know just now, rather than two. Actually, he'll chip some bone away from the joint of my first toe; plus take a wedge-shaped piece out of the right side of the bone in order to reshape and reposition the bone relative to the rest of the foot. Get it realigned over the sesamoid bones, and shorten a ligament to keep it in place. Add one small screw. If it had been worse, two broken bones, I'd need crutches and several more weeks recovery time.

My husband has until very recently been against this surgery, saying it's basically cosmetic and therefore likely to be expensive. I don't complain much about the pain, which is more or less constant; some days I wake up with it. But he finally went online and looked at some of those gnarly photos of the consequences, when the problem is left untreated. That seems to have convinced him, that and my reminder that the damned thing hurts. Yet he's not totally wrong -- even though I'm treating a legitimate deformity, and a fairly common one, the surgery is still considered elective. We'll see what insurance has to say. Doctors don't want to rush you into this -- I'd been told to wait and see six years ago, and the guy I saw Thursday (a charming and weird fellow my age who kept calling me "little lady" and "missy," I can't think why) did likewise -- "Maybe it doesn't bother you as much now as it will later. Or maybe you feel like now is a good time to get it over with. There's no rush. You can go on with it like this for a while yet." I guess now the hospital calls the insurance company, and I have to get on the quote line to see what the damage will be. Since the effing foot isn't rotting off, I suppose some sort of penalty is in order.

Penalized for my flat feet. Apparently, lack of arch support leads to this problem over time. Bones raise, shift, are pushed outward to compensate for unevenly distributed weight. They noticed the problem already when I was nine, and tried little braces on my feet at night -- the condition started cropping up after my knee surgery, when my leg muscles learned to compensate for bones that had been severed and repositioned. I'd been walking funny already for years -- "pigeon-toed" they used to call it -- and the surgery corrected this.

My femurs were cut through just above the knee, and the lower legs turned outward a few degrees, before being reset. Casts from ankle to hip all summer, my eighth year. I started the third grade on crutches, and had to be carried up and down the stairs to and from my classroom each day by our principal. A nice guy, I remember. Mr. Wagner? Perhaps. My third grade teacher's name was Ms. Alt, a name that in German, she said, meant "old." She had a bob, and dark rimmed glasses. She wore turtlenecks and long vests. This would have been 1976 I think. The year of the Bicentennial. First the wheelchair, then the crutches, and weeks of PT. In and out of the hospital. Loneliness there, bad food, crabby nurses. But I was a big celebrity with my casts, afterward, and had lots of autographs. Do people sign each other's casts anymore? Maybe you can't -- they're all made of the colored stuff now. Before, they were white plaster, and you could decorate them with felt-tipped markers. Funny the things you remember.

I hope I never go through something like that with my kid. The dental visits are bad enough.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Out of Chaos

I finished a new book arts piece tonight. Two weeks early! That must be some kind of record for me. Head over to True Companion if you'd like to take a peek.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

a few other health worries & my resolutions

I will try to stop worrying about my kid. I am worried he will get sick. He hasn't been, in a while, and I'm afraid to say that -- afraid to think it -- afraid that my growing anxiety over his good health will somehow result in an obligatory illness. It's utterly irrational. I will schedule his next filling, thereby giving myself (and him) something concrete to fret over in that department. I will try to drink less this week. Even though this is the first of several heavy-deadline weeks. I will try instead to sleep. To go to bed at a reasonably productive hour. To drink more water. These are things I will do.

By the way, Paris Hilton has bunions.

the bunion

I will call JA's doctor and schedule a consult about my feet, a second opinion. If I like what I hear, I'll have this guy do the surgery. One foot, the right foot first. Best foot forward, or worst. I hear a little PT before and after helps a lot. It's a week of near immobility, so I have to schedule it carefully.
Here's how the surgery was first described to me (with credit to Wikipedia for the wording): "Procedures are designed and chosen to correct a variety of pathologies that may be associated with the bunion. For instance, procedures may address some combination of:
removing the abnormal bony enlargement of the first metatarsal,
realigning the first metatarsal bone relative to the adjacent metatarsal bone,
straightening the great toe relative to the first metatarsal and adjacent toes,
realigning the cartilagenous surfaces of the great toe joint,
addressing arthritic changes associated with the great toe joint,
repositioning the sesamoid bones beneath the first metatarsal bone,
shortening, lengthening, raising, or lowering the first metatarsal bone, and
correcting any abnormal bowing or misalignment within the great toe.
The age, health, lifestyle, and activity level of the patient may also play a role in the choice of procedure.
Bunion surgery can be performed under local, spinal, or general anesthetic. The trend has moved strongly toward using the less invasive local anesthesia over the years. A patient can expect a 6- to 8-week recovery period during which crutches are usually required for aid in mobility. It is much less common today as newer, more stable procedures and better forms of fixation (stabilizing the bone with screws and other hardware) are used."
That's right, hardware. I've been told that for sure one screw and maybe a rod will be required. Will this be a hassle at the airport?
Let me just say that online you will find some truly godawful pictures of bunions. My feet do not look nearly that bad in most respects. My toes are not gnarly or rotting or utterly displaced. I just have a bad painful condition, and it has long prevented me from wearing flip-flops and sandals and the like. My kid noticed it for the first time not long ago. He recognized it as a booboo, and tried to get me to explain what happened to my foot. that I'm older, and it's much more painful, insurance will finally take it seriously.
I have a pair of gorgeous Frye sandals that I am saving just to celebrate the surgery, once I'm healed.

a not so quiet afternoon

Even though my son is circling and sharking around my peripheral vision, demanding attention with his charming smile and whispering, enticing little comments -- even attempting to insert his lanky five-year-old self between me and the laptop -- I know that I have been a reasonably good mom this weekend and have earned a little time to myself. Since we returned from the pool I've been straightening up the studio, putting away the supplies from the last project (which takes almost as long as the project itself.) Plus ironing a few things in order to reduce the height of that pile, adding a few things to the dry-cleaning bag, redistributing stacks of books, putting away new supplies and new fabric that accumulated during the past month.

H. just crept not-so-quietly into the room and dropped a postcard on my lap: the Washburn A Mill explosion, an artist's rendering from 1914 or something like that. Now he's replaced it with a copy of The Lorax.

I went to the Wet Paint Annual Sidewalk Sale yesterday, in spite of a banging headache, and bought $84 worth of clearance items that looked interesting, useful, or just odd and therefore worth investigating. Dried pressed leaf skeletons and seed pods: good for making sun prints, which I'll do with the discounted sun-printing kit I also purchased. A tray of chalk pastels, some silver leaf and an applicator pen, odd papers, picture corners, clingy vinyl (good for window decor), some disks made of mica, a bunch of stencils, a hand-drill that needs bits, several brown folders and the coupe de gras, a whole role of Tygerag at a crazy low price. (I can't find anyplace in town that sells Tyvek, but that's a brand name, like Kleenex; this is the same stuff, bonded fabric paper, paintable and sewable.) I also got the kid a beetle collecting kit, and a little articulated artist's dummy, neither of which he is interested in just now.

As I opened and closed drawers, looking for space to consolidate supplies so as to make room for more, I found a bottle of fabric adhesive that had tipped over and subsequently glued itself shut; when I removed the clear, bubbly plastic glob between the bottle and the too-small cap, glue spurted out over my hands. Blah. It dried immediately, and I spent 10 minutes with soap, water and scrub brush scraping it off. My hands looked just awful -- reminding me of something I'd read about skin burns resulting from exploding meth-lab chemicals. White goop hanging in strips and chunks from my fingers. Ugh.

Ron is pulling H. back and forth across the floor in a laundry basket, yelling and laughing and scraping up the wood floor (sigh). Bought time.

There's still a bit more work to do.

The Mexicans across the alley are having a birthday party for their youngest, a 2 year old I think, and the already-bored pack of youngsters has started spilling into the alleyway. They're gazing longingly through the pines at our play gym out back (though they have a playgym of their own.) Ron met the dad, Simon, and the mom Gladys yesterday after he decided to whack the weeds down next to their garage at the same time he was doing ours. We don't chop our weeds down very often, so it's not like Ron was making some sort of point. We're kind of sloppy about that stuff, way in back, though the yard and garden closer to the house look quite neat and nice. Now the kids are jumping down our terracing. Someone's gonna get hurt. Sure enough, before I can convince my husband to go out there and caution the kids, someone falls down and bangs a knee. Now a parent herds the kids back into the yard, and it's quiet again...except for the sound of my own child pestering the life out of his father. The daddy who's trying to watch a baseball game. I should send H. to the Mexicans, but it's called party-crashing. Not so classy.

I can just possibly squeeze in a couple more minutes of book-stacking, while my son intentionally breathes his stinky breath into my husband's face. Soon enough my husband will call my name, making this hyperactive child my situation once again. At least we're ahead in the fourth.


this is what i get for going to bed at 9:30pm.

Friday, July 24, 2009

a much better day

Okay, so last night I was pretty disgusted with the state of things. But I had an email from a friend, at about 00:24 that made all the difference, and I approached today in a much-improved frame of mind. And minus any flare-ups of last night's aggravations, it's been a peaceful evening. Spent some time planting new garden decor (a gnome, a snail, a ceramic mushroom) -- offerings from the contrite husband -- and pulling weeds. Watched my kid get himself absolutely filthy playing with the sprinkler and the patch of dirt under his swing (children can use perfectly clean water as a major tool in filth-production, it's incredible.) Watched the same child derive great pleasure from the subsequent bubble bath. And so on.

The pickles are starting to come into their own...hamburger slices are ready first, I assume the whole dills aren't quite right yet. I just ate a dozen tiny, very garlicky slices extracted from their bed of dill weed and onions and mustard seeds and coriander. Pretty yummy, very crisp. But I almost wonder if there shouldn't be a point at which they stop brining -- I'd hate for them to get much saltier, for example. They are, nevertheless, sandwich-ready. MMM.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

a bullshit evening

After one okay night and one really solid night of sleeping, husband and I are not getting along again and I am apt to stay up all night just to be self-destructive. But I won't. I was just reading one of the blogs down there, Here I Am, and the lovely JJ whom I unwillingly neglected on Fourth weekend is proving as always the genius inherent in her unassuming little person. She's so funny and creative and smart and Right Now. She's living the dream, after all those years, out in San Diego. Has a cool girlfriend who doesn't beat her up or put her down. Almost done with grad school on her way to being an architect. Traveling, eating well, seeing everything. Delightful.

That's more fun than sleeping, or anything else I can think of at the moment except perhaps more drinking. But the husband far outdid me in that too this evening, consuming all but one glass of a bottle of Bogle Petit Sirah. Because he's mad. Sat on the couch and hectored me all evening as I worked with the kid on the "fun hat," a la Curious George, that H has been after me all week to help with. Telling me I was being too "artistic" and making it "all about me" instead of it being a hat the kid would want to wear. Seems like we had fun, seems the kid likes the hat, and he can wear it too, so what's the big deal? No, he didn't even compliment the kid on the hat. In a mock show of regret, he complimented me instead. "It's a nice hat sweetie, you did a good job." Fortunately the kid was mostly paying attention to Toy Story 2 the whole time.

Why's he mad? The husband is mad because I caught him in a bad mood at work today, and when my initial inquiries about making plans over the next two days made him aggressively cranky, I suspended the dialogue and refused to tell him the plans I was hoping to make. Because I knew he would bitch and moan, and if I back down he feels guilty and then he really gets unpleasant -- so rather than play that stupid game, I just said forget it, and wouldn't tell him the rest of the reason I'd called, and still won't. I don't need to make plans that badly, and I certainly don't need to endure days of bellyaching just for the privilege of heading over to St Paul for the Wet Paint Sale. So now he's just being nasty because I won't tell him, and obviously I can't win. Should never ask for a fucking thing. He told me why his day was so aggaravating, when I got home from work, and I was sympathetic to a point. Not sympathetic enough though, as he pointed out. He did me an unrelated favor earlier this evening too, for which I was thankful; but then immediately started badgering me about the reason I'd called this afternoon -- like, as a reward for me being nice, you must give me information. And I won't.

Al, if you're reading this, I apologize for not being cheerful.

Monday, July 20, 2009

more Farmer's Market pics

Vendor of over-priced of flower baskets.
Roasted corn, the smell of which is the real reason we go to the Market.
The all-beef hot dog, breakfast of champions.

in a pickle

I've been awake since 3:30am. I went to bed a little too early, and had a night frequently interrupted by the peculiarities of my family -- at one point I fled the bedroom for fear of being asphyxiated by the fumes of whatever it was that didn't agree with my husband. This with two windows open and a fan on. On at least two other occasions I was awakened by my son, who had a restless, dream-filled night himself. At 3am he was up and at my bedside: "Mommy, I dreamed about the train, and there was lots of beeping!" (Harper won't ride the lightrail because of the warning note that sounds each time the doors close. It is obnoxious, but I suppose that's the point.) So after an hour of laying in my kid's bed, waiting for him to settle down and feeling thankful that I had a reason for exiting my own bedroom, I found myself worrying over the many issues and uncertainties at work. And gave up on sleeping.

I read the email, read the paper (NYT and Strib), checked in on Facebook. Had a bowl of Life cereal and half a trail mix bar. Now here I am. Nattering. Listening to the aggressive cardinal, or whatever it is, yammering away in the back yard.

I made refrigerator pickles yesterday. We had a misadventure of sorts at the Farmer's Market on Saturday (left too late like we always do, couldn't locate a good parking spot, had trouble finding the right sized cucumbers for a decent price, narrowly escaped a parking ticket as we were leaving. Lots of whining from the spouse, who wants to write a letter to the city about the crappy parking situation down there. Good news: a terrific and cheap leather bag, and roasted corn on the cob for breakfast - YUM.) We got the dill and the cukes, but I didn't get around to locating my mason jars until yesterday after church -- and then found that many of these had gone missing, leaving me with only a handful of quart jars with rusty lids. My fault really, it's been a couple of years since I "put anything up." So, off to the co-op, where I'm thinking to pick up some soap at the same time as the jars. Except, the Co-op has stopped selling the jars. Dammit. (And earlier in the day my husband had declared this to be a day of No Driving.) SO, off to Roundy's, where I get jars, spare lids, pickling salt (forgot I needed it), more vinegar, etc etc.

(Ron stopped at Home Despot, where he picked up a new toilet paper holder to match our recently "updated" fixtures -- he then spent the entire afternoon swearing in the john, first taking an hour to pry off the old holder, then taking another hour to install the new one, which is so crooked now that the toilet paper roll doesn't spin too well. Good thing the kid was helping me in the kitchen, given the cursing and general foulness there next to the toilet.)

Anyway, spent the afternoon in the kitchen with my son, who is a handy pickling assistant and keen on anything that smacks of industry -- we were "the pickle factory" on Sunday. Mechanization is where it's at with my kid, and the key to any endeavor is to do it fast, with lots of tools. Scrubber for the cukes, sink-sprayer for the cukes, loading of the jars with dill and cukes and seeds and garlic and whatnot...lids and rings and neat rows of jars on the table, waiting for their brine. He was in heaven. Hope they turn out.

Here's a snapshot of my friend Sara and her little girl, caught out at the Northeast farmer's market (the little one, where the prices were a full buck lower on green beans.)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I take my glass of port and venture out the front door to brave the steps. I don't go out at night very often, because it's seldom as quiet as I'd like -- there are the sounds of the switchyard, half a mile away, but the muffled booms and bangs and the soft clang of the reversing bell don't so much bother me, it's just industry. But there's also the seasick pitch of an argument in the distance; outdoors it seems (pity the neighbors), a strident woman's voice, half-angry, half-pleading. Occasionally obscured by the train noises. And there's a young man in a big car driving away from the neighbor's house after midnight; and the jarring percussion of a garbage can lid clapping down, of a door slammed to close it tightly. I hear the people still awake, many more of them than I think should be after midnight, and there's not much peace to find on the front steps.

My kid walks in his sleep. Just a little while ago I heard him calling me, conversationally; I found him attempting to pee in a dresser drawer. Guiding him to the toilet, he wakes and begins to whimper. I speak to him, and he shushes me. "Don't say anything!" He's alarmed at finding himself in the bathroom, but it's not the first time. He's embarrassed I think. And really he just doesn't want to be awake.

I know the feeling. But I can't lay down yet, or I'll still be laying there awake an hour from now. I have to be exhausted. Gotta hit that window.
There's not much room left in which to stay the same.

Monday, July 13, 2009

another Googled phrase in common usage

Hail Mary - I had no idea.

behind the 8 ball

Think about it: "Behind the eight-ball." What's it mean?

A few days ago I was riding my bike down Central Avenue, into the wind (which was considerably irritating.) I was on a long sidewalk/bike path on the right side of the road. As I pushed along, I realized there was something coming toward me, at a rapid clip; rolling along in the gutter. Something good-sized, about two feet in diameter. And as it passed me on the left, I realized it was...a large, inflatable Eight-Ball. The black ball with the white circle, and the 8. And I thought to myself, okay, what the hell does that mean?

And if it passes me going the opposite direction, am I behind it? Or in front of it?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The moon is very bright, and a line of some sort blew over the city as night fell, leaving the air cooler and dryer - at least for the time being. One cat is in, the other out, and if I didn't know how much it would disturb the natural order of things I'd be tempted to go out for a walk. Clouds make patterns against the sky, backlit by moonlight. If I left the house I'm sure my son would awake, and in turn wake up my husband. Left to only imagine a little escape from mind-numbing wakefulness, and sleep that won't come.

The wind comes and goes...occasionally sending delicious little shivers down my spine as it breathes through my window.

I met an old high school friend for lunch this week. Yet another result of facebook interactions -- maybe the fourth or fifth social contact of this type. But this meeting was a little more unusual in that I've had no social contact whatsoever with "R" for 20-plus years. I haven't attended reunions -- I'm not the type to initiate a conversation with someone who has been out of my life that long. And as much as I do have friendships which span that time, I also make few exceptions for the ones that have lapsed naturally. I don't try to dig people up. What's done is done. I think that's pretty normal. Nevertheless I've been contacted by a really surprising number of people from long ago, thanks to facebook, and I suppose it's time to get the hang of it.

The lunch was an interesting experiment. And a little disconcerting, stepping through the wormhole into a frame of reference that's largely faded, trying to reconstruct twenty years of living and changing, and not even talking about the real shared memories (which is hard for me to explain in retrospect --but we didn't, not at all.) There's probably a little mid-life going on there. Hard to say what I'm comfortable with in this case.

It's after 1am now. I hear a shout somewhere -- kids out late. I hear a loud noise of leaves being rustled in the yard and suspect raccoon.

With the future so very uncertain in some respects right now, it's interesting to be so aware of the past. Last year a friend at work and I were complaining about anomie. We had no idea. It's beyond any memory of normal at this point.

Ah well, time to finish rambling and go post elsewhere for a while. Or not, depending on sleep. And what dreams may come.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

making blah blah (again) over Jude Hill

The thing I love about Jude Hill's fabric work is how little it takes itself seriously, even though it is thoroughly addressed in detail and design, and is always always gorgeous. I hate to use words like "whimsical" to describe someone's artwork (it feels like a crafty putdown), but Hill's pieces are so joyful and frequently funny, so accessible (another dangerous word), that their richness almost always gives way to a pleasure that's immediate, that's based in her personal view of story and narrative. Hers is the only work I see these days that makes me want to DROP EVERYTHING and sew. And in the "art quilting" world, where computers and Lutradur and Angelina fibers are always the thing, Hill's hand-sewn, visible-stitching, raw-edged pieces are refreshingly real. Of course, I think I first read of her work in one of those art-quilting magazines (my subscriptions are all lapsing, shit.) But she's talent.

Why am I all crazy over this one woman's tiny fabric creations? It's not as if I've met her, and most likely never will. I found her work via the blog of another artist and writer I've never met, and I can't even recall from there where the chain of association first began. I suppose it's due in part to the tiny artistic corner I've got myself wedged into, "quilt art" -- and occasionally "altered books" -- areas that don't enjoy a broad shared lexicon of names and techniques, where it's hard to make friends in the real world (not too many shows of this type of thing, even with the Textile Center right here in town.) I'd curate a show for Jude Hill, if I had a real venue to do it in. I'd probably make a real goober of myself if I met her. I'm a lonely little artist, hanging out on the internet -- this is what happens. I have to laugh at myself.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

quick shout-outs

Greetings! To the new returning visitor who hangs out at the Charles E. Beatley Jr. Central Library in Alexandria VA; to the new returning visitor from Venezuela; to my marketing pals at Kraft; to the one-offs from Pew Charitable Trusts and from Singapore; and to the beloved 15% of you who use Qwest or Comcast to visit me and have dropped in 50 to 100 times in the past year. Y'all are awesome! Thanks for following.

more long weekend snaps

Several more views at Lake of the Isles, MN. A day so muggy and warm that even the fish stayed home -- only the dragonflies seemed unconcerned.

long weekend snaps

Robot Man: recycled cardboard, lots of scotch tape.
Unidentified Butterfly, Lake of the Isles, Minneapolis.
Super-slide: $29.99. A lesson on how not to spend his allowance (as far as we're concerned anyway).

Sunday, July 5, 2009

5 july

There's a haze like thick fog that clings to the trees and the streets of Northeast, that blurs the streetlamps into fuzzy globes of light, most noticeable in low-laying areas; and the air stinks. A halo surrounds the distant moon. "It's the magic moon," my son informed us on the way to the fireworks display. "It makes wishes and dreams come true." Not a full moon though, more of a lemony shape. And yellow like a lemon, in the gloom.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

4 july

This year, 2009, I finally convinced my husband to accompany my son and I to a fireworks display; the usual event down by the Minneapolis riverfront. He hates fireworks; hates loud noises of all types, and dislikes crowds, and especially traffic. But he has not seen a fireworks display with me since before our son was born, and now that Harper is five and starting to lose his fear of so many things, there was genuine excitement about the possibility of seeing the fireworks this year -- once again I found myself making careful inquiries of the husband. Would he go? Would he at least drop us off and pick us up later? And without too much arm-twisting, he agreed. We found a decent parking space a half mile from the river, and a bridge over a rail line that afforded a decent view. Bug-sprayed and tentative, "ear muffs" at the ready (a pair of cushioned protective earphones given to Harper by his uncle Mark earlier today), my son waited expectantly for the fireworks to begin. Some nearby chumps shooting off bottle rockets above the small crowd made him nervous, but after donning his earmuffs he was game for the rest of the evening, smiling at the patterns and colors he liked, ascribing names to the various types of shells (always the cataloguer, my son.) It was a good time. And we escaped bad traffic on the way back out as well. Did I take a picture? No. I did not.

Happy 4 july -- a date on a calendar, a box with a number in it, reminding us that to be American is a gift and a privilege we haven't really earned.