Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #52

Thirteen Bumps and Thumps on Murphy's Roller Coaster Ride That Was My Weekend

1. It began with me waking about nine in anticipation of spending a couple hours of quality time with Ed before he left for the races with his folks in the afternoon. He had to work that morning but assured me he would be home by noon. He didn't arrive until 1:30 because his boss had ordered pizza for the crew in honor of Ed's birthday coming up on Monday. Then he had to spend the remaining half hour making his cigarettes for the rest of the day out on the front porch which is the designated smoking area for he and his Dad. So while he happily visited with his folks about the races scheduled for that day, I sat in our room stewing in jealously juice, counting the things that seemed to put the light in my husband's eyes more often and more readily than I could: bosses, workmates, The Job, his parents, dirt track races, cigarettes.

(Yeah, I was having a bit of a pity party. But I have issues with The Job thing going waaay back to childhood and how my relationship with my father was impacted by his relationship with his Job. Later it will be clearer why this particular weekend I was more primed than usual to react badly to these triggers.)

2. Ed and his folks left at 2 and I knew I had to do something drastic to snap myself out of the dark mood I'd fallen into. It was a glorious day outside. 80 degrees with a gentle breeze. There wasn't likely to be many more like it. Especially on a race day Saturday when I had freedom to roam the house and yard without fear of being in anyones way.

Why can't I be like normal people and follow a spontaneous idea with quick and simple action? Say I had gone with the idea of enjoying the perfect weather by sitting in the back yard with an iced-coffee, my cat Merlin, and one book--say Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows which I'd started the previous Sunday evening and then set aside because of the final four of the 70 Days of Sweat and meme visiting. I could have been settled in under fifteen minutes and had up to five hours of relaxing reading. But no, that wouldn't be me. Nor would there now be a story worth telling.

(This relates to another one of the issues I had with my Dad. Or he had with me. He teased me. He chided me. He shook his head in despair. But he could never break me of it. I've written about it before.)

I had to take with me all the materials for several projects I hoped to work on that day. The one element common to nearly all projects was the laptop. I could have opted for the front porch where there was a handy electric socket and an awning that would shade the laptop screen enough to make it visible to me. And no steps to lug things down. But the front porch smells like ashtrays; faces the neighbor's kitchen window; has no safe place to stake Merlin's leash; and the front edge is so close to the road it's possible to shake hands with passersby.

Nope. It had to be the back yard for pleasantness and privacy. That entailed first of all stringing a fifty-foot electric cord from the carport out front to the patio table near the back fence. My father-in-law has half a dozen of these cords rolled up with their ends plugged into one another hanging on hooks next to the shed. The first one I unrolled was too short. The second one was only a two-prong plug. By the time I had the right cord plugged in and strung across the yard, my arms were good for little else than hanging at my side.

3. I'd taken Merlin and the big cardboard box I planned to set the laptop up inside of out with me on that first trip. Just before leaving my sister, Jamie, had IMed and I asked her to wait for fifteen to thirty minutes while I got set up outside. The thirty minute were up by the time I got back in. Realizing this caused me to hurry my pace. Bad idea for a clumsy, sight-impaired and now weak-armed and bare-foot woman. I lost count of the trips back and forth in the next half an hour. And I no longer remember on which trip which thing happened. At first I was just taking things out by the armful, not bothering with boxes or bags. But after a few trips I realized that if I didn't need them for the rest of the things going out, I would need them for bringing the stuff back in. If I didn't want to start moving in a good hour before I lost the light, that is.

So I got out the two bags you see me hauling in my profile picture which have been stored away since the library closure in April. And my soft-sided attache with shoulder strap. I filled the latter with files and notebooks and office supplies. I filled the kitty bag with books, more office supplies, and sewing stuff. The backpack I reserved for taking out the laptop which which would go out last as I could not leave it out there unattended.

On various trips between bedroom and backyard I tripped over Merlin's leash; I skinned the knuckles of my toes on Merlin's stake; I slammed a shoulder into a door casing; I bumped an elbow on a doorknob; and stepped on a sharp rock hidden in the grass.

4. When I think I am finally ready to bring out the laptop, I realize that it is after three and I am thirsty and hungry and that by the time I get snacks and drinks gathered up and hauled outside it will be another half hour. Which means that I really ought to sort the laundry and get the first load on before I got settled outside. Half an hour later, with the laundry started without further incident, I'm in the kitchen raiding the fridge. I decide that I'm in the mood for an iced-coffee which I haven't had since I got sick three weeks ago because I'd been having my daily cup in the now chilly mornings. In order to get the ice, I have to break apart the cubes frozen together by the water leaked onto them by the malfunctioning ice-maker. I've been doing this all summer. Mostly without incident. Except for that one time I cut my finger on an ice-cube.

So I was using the meat-tenderizing hammer to pound the pile of cubes when I punched the ice-cube maker with my fist, skinning my knuckles, jarring my wrist, elbow and shoulder and whiplashing my neck.

Oh, boy. I knew I was going to be in for it now. There have been times when a single one of these jarring incidents laid me up for over a week with inflamed joints and a pain cycle that ramped itself up in a viscous feedback loop. I'd lost count of how many there had been in the last two hours. But this one was the worst by far and if the shoulder to the door casing had not done in my neck, this one surely had. Having pain or stiffness in my neck prevents me from scanning my environment while in motion to compensate for the severe tunnel vision caused by the RP.

5. By the time I got my snack stuff moved outside, the first load of laundry was done. So I switched it to the dryer and started a second load before going after my laptop. Earlier, when I had started to prepare it to go out, I had picked the power cord up off the floor and laid it on the bed. Apparently I had inadvertently unplugged a section of it for I found the laptop cold. It had hibernated. Which meant it was now off line and I was going to have to sign back in to IM and email and blogger and... annoying but not devastating. Like everything else that had happened since I woke up.

6. I get the laptop out there and set up in the cardboard box on the patio table only to discover that the table is too high for me to see into the box at the right angle. So I have to unplug it from the back to take it with me as I head to the front porch to get one of the folding tray tables. No big deal as I hadn't woke it up yet anyway.

Once back out there with the laptop set up inside the box on top of the small table, I woke it up. And could see nothing but a black screen. Ooops. I forgot to wake up the screen by tapping the touch pad. Nope. Still nothing but shades of gray. And then I realized that while I took all that time to get moved out and set up, the sun had moved to the opposite end of the yard and was now shining over my left shoulder straight into the box. Five seconds of eye-rolling and a couple of big sighs later, I started moving my stuff to the other side of the patio table with the back of the box aimed West. This involved more than just moving the laptop and its table and box. It was the entire workstation I had set up so that everything was within reach from the chair once I sat down.

6. By the time I was all set up again, it was 4:30. So two and a half hours after telling my sister to give me half an hour, I am signing back into my IM. While I wait for it I open the container of cold tuna and noodles and start munching. And that gets Merlin's attention. In all my careful set up I'd forgotten to take into account where I was on the arc of Merlin's reach. Where I had been set up in the first place I had been safely out of reach. Not now. He could reach my whole right side and kept grabbing at the hand holding the fork or trying to climb my knee. When I put the fork back in the container so I could type, he wound his leash in a figure eight around both ankles and then stood on his hind legs and reached for my hands which were now on the keyboard. When I pulled back, the table tilted forward and the box fell off carrying the open laptop with it. Heart in throat. Feet in thrall. And there goes the IM tone announcing my sister has discovered I am back.

OK. You have permission to laugh. No lasting damage was done to self, cat or computer. When I picked up the laptop, I found it had closed itself somehow and the only repercussion was a loose cap on the left ctrl key which snapped right back into place when I discovered it later that night.

7. So I get it all set up again and respond to my sister's IM. I tell her all about my Murphy adventure and she tells me all about her day. Until I realize that it is after five-thirty and I tell her that I have only a bit over an hour before I have to start moving my stuff back in and I'm going to be really disgusted if I don't even get to use anything except the IM. But once we've said our goodbyes I realize I've an urgent need to go in the house. Which means taking the laptop with me and making sure I tap the pad or a key every three minutes so it doesn't go to standby and thus loose WIFI connection. As I head for the steps, Merlin races me and we barely avoid a collision. He is yanked to a stop by his leash. I realize he has been outside away from his food and water and litter box for nearly four hours. No wonder he is so eager. I go back and unhook his leash at the stake.

While in the house, I discover both washer and dryer silent. So I take care of the first load which is six pair of Ed's Jeans, transfer the second load which is two large blankets, and start the third load which is three small fleece blankets and some shirts, sweats, shorts and pajamas. I am now really feeling the pain and stiffness from the jarring incidents. I noticed it first when I was pulling those wet jeans out of the washer earlier but its worse now and pulling those large waterlogged blankets out was torture. And reaching over my head to pull down the nearly full gallon jug of detergent? Don't even go there. Then there was shaking out and folding the six pair of jeans while constantly brushing my skinned knuckles against the denim, zippers, seams.

8. When I got back outside the breeze had really kicked up and had a bit of a chill to it. I was barefoot and wearing Capri's. So I dashed back and grabbed the fleece blanket still on the floor just inside the door with the fourth load. Yeah, we have a lot of those. I think they breed in the dark.

It was obvious the breeze was going to prevent work on any project involving loose paper or even opened books I wasn't holding with both hands. This ruled out many of the projects I'd brought out with me, including any that involved both the computer and any books or notebooks used in conjunction.

I had less than an hour now. And if I wanted to do the photo shoot of my needlework, it had better be in the next fifteen minutes. But a little thought nixed the idea. Before I could take more pictures I had to get the ones in the camera dumped onto the computer and in order to do that I had to take the laptop out of the box to plug in the USB cord. By the time I got that done, the light for a photo shoot would be gone. It seemed my efforts to get pictures of my needle work were doomed yet again. I've been trying since March!

Instead I settled on multi-tasking. I called up Ed's Sunday Serenity post which he had posted that morning and told me that afternoon was another music video. So I watched and listened to it and several of the related ones as I went about making the bib slips for Harry Potter 5 and 6 which I'd finished in August and could have returned to my niece on her visit the previous weekend if not for having this little five minute chore to do. I've gotten a bit lax in keeping my reading records since the library closure.

(I've been making these slips for every book I start since late 1992. They are on 3x5 scratch pad pages and contain title, author, number of pages, call number if library owned, date started and date finished, and sometimes other info. Of the ones for books finished, I only still have those finished since July of 2001. The rest were in the storage unit we abandoned in San Jose that summer.)

9. When I finished that task, I needed to go inside again. Which meant taking the laptop with me. I also took in the HP books and reading journal and the empty food and drink containers. While in the kitchen I got a bright idea for how to keep Sweetie, my in-law's dog, outside guarding my stuff so I could leave the laptop for a minute or two. It was time for her after-dinner treats. I got them out of the cupboard and let her see that I had them and she followed along as if on a leash. I set them on the table where she could see them and then gave her one of the six. She stood there without taking her eyes off them while I plugged my laptop back in and returned to the house where I changed into my fleece PJ bottoms so I could stick my Capri's and that fleece blanket into the forth load.

By the time I got back outside it was six-thirty which meant I had a bit more than thirty minutes of light I could read by. I chose the book with the largest print which was Holly Lisle's Create a Plot Clinic. The spiral spine also made it easier to keep the pages from flapping in the breeze. I had hoped to take notes but I could see I would be spending more time corralling errant pages than reading or writing not to mention concentrating. So I settled for reading while listening to more YouTube music videos and handing Sweetie a treat every few minutes. When I ran out of the doggie treats I opened my bag of Cheetos and gave her one. Once she knew those were there, she wasn't going anywhere as long as hope persisted.

Sweetie's hope can persist a long time.

10. When I lost the light for reading, I started packing up to move inside. I had about fifteen minutes before I would have to feel my way across the yard with fingers and toes. So the more I could get into the bags the better. It also sped things up to take some of the items too big for the bags and leave them on or by the washer just inside the back door and drag the full kitty bag and attache over by the steps.

Finally I broke down the computer/box/table setup and packed the laptop and a few odds and ends into the backpack, leaving the power cord easily accessible so I could take it straight in and plug it back in without unpacking it. Which I did before returning to do the next most urgent thing which was unplug and roll up and put away the fifty-foot electric cord. I'm glad the one I used was orange as I doubt I could have seen the green ones by then. As it was, it got snagged on the table and chair several times which caused very unpleasant yanks on my already stressed arm and neck. By the time I had it rolled up I did have to feel my way to the shed to hang it on its hook.

The last thing left by the patio table was the tray table that belonged on the front porch. I folded it and made a special trip through the lit house to return it, leaving Sweetie guarding the Cheetos which I'd hung on the fence above the waiting bags. You'd think she had the patience of a saint if you didn't know what was motivating her.

11. Counting the trips in to lay things on or by the washer and the earlier trip with the food containers, I made six trips in and out to bring it all back in. Which means there had to have been at least ten trips when I took it all out that afternoon.

Now I was faced with unpacking and putting it all away. And the mess I'd left on the bed while hunting for things to take out. Which had been added to by the clothes and blankets coming out of the dryer. By the time I got the fourth load in the dryer and my usual work area set up on the bed again it was after eight-thirty.

My next priority was to get my own Sunday Serenity posted. I chose to limit myself to one of the related videos on the YouTube Ed had posted as it provided the embed code without having to go to YouTube where I risked getting lost for hours so I had mine posted by shortly after nine. Then I began exploring the Sacred Geometry site which I'd hunted down so I could link to it on my Sunday Serenity.

I was getting ideas for drawing mandalas and patterns for needlework. I favor patterns based on geometry for the projects I design myself. From anything as simple as a checkerboard to as complex as Celtic Knots or Mandelbrot Sets. Geometric designs on book covers or bookmarks became my signature gift during the nineties.

I haven't finished a needlework project since we moved here six years ago. I'm not much known as a finisher. And if I don't move along I won't be finishing this TT anytime soon.

12. I heard the dryer buzz on the last load just before ten but ignored it. And then a few minutes later I heard Sweetie race for the back door and through her doggie door. They were home. An hour sooner than expected. The bed was still piled with clothes, books, sewing, laptop and the cardboard boxes that comprise my 'desk'. And my hour's rest had stiffened me up. The pain cycle had set in. Now I was faced with Ed's 'help' in clearing off the bed and getting the last load out of the dryer. I didn't unpack the kitty bag or the attache, just set them on the floor beside the bed. Ed stuffed clean clothes and blankets, folded and unfolded, willy-nilly in whatever nook or cranny presented. (Hear Snoopy's Arrrrrgh!?)

After Ed lay down I played on Sacred Geometry for awhile longer and then set up watch a Lost episode on ABC's streaming video while laying down in the dark.

I don't know if it was the afternoon coffee or the pain but for the first time in three weeks I was awake past 1AM. In fact I did not get to sleep until after 5.

13. And then I woke up only four hours later at 9. Oh, I was sooooo sore! Ed was already up and although all I really wanted to do was go back to bed and groan, I went out to the porch where he was smoking over his morning coffee to talk to him. I knew he planned to run out to Wal-Mart with his Dad's car and I wanted to go. I had been hoping for an invite but I knew it was improbable. It was time for me to stop waiting for invites. But even if he didn't want me to go, I still needed to talk to him about what I needed, wanted and hoped for.

I was all prepared to answer any reluctance to take me with a little speech: It is always going to be easier, more efficient, quicker to leave me behind. It is a fact of life being married to someone with visual impairment. You were aware of the risks going in. You met my grandmother and watched my mother dealing with it. You said you could handle it if it became necessary. I haven't been out of this yard since July.

What I wasn't going to say but was thinking: I don't think I can handle another 20 plus years feeling like an inconvenience.

Also: I can't bear to be left alone today. The 23rd of September. The second anniversary of my Dad's passing. (Well actually 4:20 something on the morning of the 24th but it still felt like the 23rd to me and I have my reasons for trying to remember it that way. See Monday's Poetry Train post for more.)

But I didn't have to give the speech. He accepted my desire to go with him without a blink.

I was going to include the rest of Sunday's events but this is already too long. Besides Murphy seemed to have lost track of me on Sunday. Though I was hurting, Sunday was mostly lacking in frustrations and full of goodness.

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6 tell me a story:

Jamie 9/26/2007 9:02 PM  

At least you can't say your life is boring sis. Merlin sure makes it fun and so does Sweetie. I hope you are being successful this week. Love ya

Anonymous,  9/27/2007 4:05 AM  

ok, not a story - but a nice TT today!

Susan Helene Gottfried 9/27/2007 2:34 PM  

Holy smoke, Joy Renee! All that trouble you went through... wow. I'd have just stayed inside in the first place!

Aline de Chevigny 9/27/2007 3:58 PM  

you poor thing LOL
One day Murphy will get his own

Anonymous,  9/27/2007 9:00 PM  

I enjoyed this glimpse into your AND Ed's lives.

Take it from an older lady: don't feel bad about your husband's outside pursuits as long as he's enjoying them with his family or on his own. Races, spending time with the 'rents, whatever. Men are like that, you know?

Joely Sue Burkhart 9/28/2007 5:53 AM  

Oh, man, definitely Murphy's adventures here. I would have stayed inside, too. :-)

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