30 May 2016

Creating Memories & Remembering My Childhood Memorial Days

Earlier today, I watched my youngest step~daughter create a magical setting for her daughters' sixth and first birthdays' photo shoot.  Mary had gone all out, making a special chandelier, two tutus, purchasing lots of supplies, and designing a tea party the likes Alice, the Red Queen, and the Mad Hatter were proud to be in.  This took lots of time, effort, imagination, creativity, and coordination of other folks to have a cake, cupcakes, photographer, friends, baby, lil girl, props, props, and more props on hand.  It all come together and I mostly stayed outta the way and admired all the details.  There were actually two sets, one was the teaparty scene, the other was the Red Queen and all her cards {"off with their heads!"}.  The costumes for the girls' included amazing tutus, the elder child was the Red Queen and the baby was Alice.  And my husband was the Mad Hatter {it's not a stretch for him, really, add the top hat and wah~LAH}.

I was thinking about the memories created today.  I know that the six year old will remember this day for awhile, I hope she looks back on today, perhaps when she sees the pictures years from now, and thinks, "I remember that!  It was so cool, I got to be all beautified and I had so much fun."  I'm pretty sure that the adults will all remember how much Mary put into this, and how her friends were so supportive and helpful.  Jerry, my husband, will remember as much as he can; he so enjoyed being in the pix with his granddaughters.  And altho it's doubtful the baby will remember, she will have the pictures, her first birthday invitations {the photoshoot in part was taken so that the invitations will be able to feature some of these shots from today's teaparty}, and some video of her tromping around in the cake.

Today is Memorial Day, I thought of the women in nearby Columbus, Mississippi and the flowers they put on both Confederate and Union soldiers' graves, known and unknown.  This created this noteworthy day, that was then declared "Decoration Day".  Eventually, it was renamed Memorial Day, a solemn affair to recognize and remember those who died while in service to the USA's military.

Many communities celebrate this entire weekend, as the start of their summer, with parades, fireworks, picnics, concerts on the green, opening of the community swimming pool, etc.  When I was a teen, in Catawissa, PA, my father and his friends led a somber march up the hill of East Main to the cemetery atop the hill, where several cannons and many military graves were located, along with a memorial to the fallen.  Speeches, a 21 gun salute, and taps completed the important ceremony.  Often, there was a cook~out at our house afterward.

Even further back into my childhood, I remember my father playing his copy of "Ballad of the Green Beret".  The record itself was green.  The vocals were those of Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler, a medic with US Army in Vietnam.  He'd also co~written the song.  It was a number one single on the Billboard charts for five weeks in the spring of 1966.

My father was a paratrooper in the US Army, Vietnam, performing special reconnaissance.  Stateside, his base was Fort Bragg, North Carolina.  He is still alive, having fought for many years as a citizen, as a veteran for veterans' rights, specifically those of Vietnam Veterans, and even more particularly for those who'd been exposed to Agent Orange.  He and his friends attended the 1986 "Welcome Home" Parade in Chicago.  It is because so many Vietnam Veterans were so outspoken for so many years that Veterans' Rights have improved and been granted retroactively to those who served during Korea and even for World Wars I and II.  Altho our veterans are not always treated in accord with the service they have provided, you can thank a Vietnam Veteran for fighting for not just your civilian rights, but also our country's veterans' rights, such as they are.

Daddy, I'll always STAND UP next to you.  Thank you for standing up for me, even before I was here.  Please know that altho I don't say it often, I am very Very VERY proud of you.

23 May 2016

Southern Spring

End of May already?!?  It may seem summer is firmly entrenched here in Starkville, but that's not so.  We are about two~thirds into Southern Spring, with about a month left of the season to go.  Why, it's downright balmy here!

Small Melon Basket that Mom made in Spring 2013
If you think short sleeves, short hems, and short shorts signify summer in the south, you are sadly mistaken.  It means spring has sprung.  Summer's coming, tho.  And when it gets here, we'll be wondering why we rushed spring's loveliness and days of seventies and eighties.  Enjoy where and when we are right now, the mornings when sixties demand a light sweater to calm the goosebumps, the days when we might break a sweat as we move thru the sunny afternoons, the cooler evenings that are just right for sitting on the porch swing, and the nights when temperatures dip down in the fifties.

To my northern roots, the signs of summer are here:  school's out, pools are open, and Memorial Day is this weekend.  Watermelon's in the market, lettuce and summer squash are being harvested, and Sonic's half~priced shakes are here.  So I've had to shift what summer means to me, those things now mean spring is mostly gone and summer is right around the corner.  Summer now means a heat and humidity as thick as egg drop soup, nights that are a reprieve from the direct sun, panting dogs, tea, tea, and more sweet tea, sweating while I'm toweling off from the shower, pig roasts, grilled meats and veggies, huge salads, and wondering how in the world our ancestors ever managed without air conditioning while wearing so many layers of clothing.

All that's coming soon enough, for now, I'm going to enjoy what's left of spring and try to finish up the last few knitting projects with heavy yarn before I start some lighter weight projects.

21 May 2016

pain in the ass is exhausting, she mutters

I never know until it's written, where exactly I'm going when I write.   I might know where I think it's going, but I might not always be able to keep it on track.  Sometimes I write to think, and in those cases, that shit most often doesn't see the light of day.  In fact, it usually is not lingering around in places that might be stumbled upon by others cuz I'm thinking and my thoughts are not always beautiful, shiny, happy thoughts, ya know?

Lately, my thoughts have been somewhat scattered more than usual, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it has given a few friends some cause to express concern.  So here's some of what's been going on with me that might explain observable signs of discomfort and lack of focus.  Overall and in the long run, this is an awesome thing; but for now, it's a bit awkward.

Most of my life, I've had some curvature of the spine that deviates from the healthy norm.  As a child, I'd other health issues that took priority.  Whether this spinal curvature is due to different length legs, or the different lengths of my legs are due to the spine curvature is a moot point at this time, because they both exacerbate the worsening of the entire condition of things.  Over the years, I'd tried several times to seek relief, sometimes undergoing physical therapy for months, having frequent massages, exercising and stretching, etc.

I've grown accustomed to ever present discomfort in my extreme lower back, spreading over my hips, and sometimes up into the thoracic region or down into my thighs.  If you've spent any amount of time around me, you'll notice {sometimes with irritation} that I am shifting around, trying to find a position that will either give some sort of relief or at least not contribute to the severity of the discomfort.  I don't even realize that I'm doing it til someone asks if I'm alright or if I'd like them to drive or if they can do something for me.  I appreciate their concern, really I do, but it also makes me feel a little like I'm being bratty, like a child who can't contain themselves and is squiggling.  I don't want to be rude, and honestly, I am paying attention to YOU, even if I am not paying attention to my own actions enough to realize that I am sending you signals that I am bored, frustrated, or impatient.  My squiggling has nothing to do with you and I don't want you to alter your delivery or to feel bad or self~conscience.  It's not you, it's me.  Really.

Well, lately, I've had quite a few xrays for seemingly unrelated complaints and even tho most of them haven't been done for the MD's concerns for my back, my spine does show up in them.  Even tho I am not a radiologist, I can see that this here vertebra is not aligned with the others, that this area of vertebrae actually seem to twist, and there is this general shift in shape, be it that it's not a straight line but a slant or that this curve is sharper than it should be, even going the wrong way.  But also, since I am not a radiologist and since I don't want to be seeing problems where there aren't any; I consulted several professionals who can examine xrays and reassure me that there is no problem that warrants any more concern than my "simply" losing weight.

I know I need to lose weight, I knew that ten years ago when I started to gain more rapidly than I could control.  Exercise at that point was near impossible, as even walking would cause my back to tighten to the point I could not breath without creating extra pressure on my mid back that would in turn further aggravate my lower back and hips.  When walking back from my mailbox brought tears to my eyes, I realized that I needed to bring this to the attention of my GP.  That was the second or third time that I'd had PT for this as an adult.

So I've absolutely no doubt that losing weight, strengthening my core muscles, and exercise would help tremendously.  I also know from the many times that I've gone thru programs to address those issues that there are some structural problems that are at the root that if they are not corrected, then the main discomfort continues to exist, because it's hard to retrain muscles that are having to support bones which are rotated, shifted out of alignment, curved, slanted, etc.

Occasionally, I will experience a flare up of sciatica, the pressure of a pinched nerve that radiates down my left leg.  That actual pushes the discomfort into a painful level that is very attention demanding and cannot be ignored for any significant period of time.  During those periods, sleep alludes me altogether and my nerves begin to fray in other ways, making me tense, sharper, snarkier, and more irritable as well as more irritating.

Usually, my daily discomfort runs about a three or four on a one to ten scale of severity.  This past Sunday, the pain was a steady nine.  Back pain is something I tolerate quite often, but the raw grating nerve sensations in my left leg and thru my hips can reduce me to a sniveling teary whiner eventually.

I think that as I age, I am becoming less tolerant of pain and discomfort.  It is increasingly a problem that I am aware of and so I have begun to take steps to address it.  I feel that this time might be the time that we can make more permanent changes to the deeper underlying issues.  And I am so excited!!

At first tho, there will be some new discomfort as the muscles are doing things they haven't been doing, as bones are shifted into more correct positions and those muscles are taught to be supportive, while other muscles are relieved of their massive duty that has been constant for so long.  It's taken a looooooooooooooooooooong time to get to this point, it's gonna take a long time to get untangled.  Not nearly as long as it did to get so bad; since that was not done deliberately, and fixing it all will be deliberate and constant.

So at the moment, I'm a bit uncomfortable in some new ways; but overall, it's for the a great goal and outcome!  Some problems we can't alleviate, like the degeneration of discs, the arthritis, and the bone spurs present on some vertebrae; but we can keep the mild degeneration from becoming more severe and the arthritis from progressing.  We can decompress the two crucial areas {in my neck and in my lower back}, we can work to correct the two areas of rotation {again, in my neck and lower back}, and we can hope to straighten the overall spine so that it doesn't have the wibbly, wobbly, timey, whimey thing going on.  So I am extremely happy that this is being addressed.