goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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Almost Normal

Almost normal! It’s been about 5.5 weeks since my total knee replacement December 4 and I will see the surgeon on Monday for a post-op appointment. I have some expectations and hopes for that visit. The primary issue is will I get permission to get back into our hot tub?

We purchased an inflatable hot tub almost 2 years ago. We discovered how helpful sitting in the hot tub could be back in 2007 when Graham was on sabbatical in Pueblo, Colorado and the apartment complex had a hot tub next to the pool. We learned that the heat eased sore muscles and joints and improved nighttime relaxation and better sleeping  Although we were in Colorado from January 1 through June 30, the hot tub was available, even in the winter when the pool was closed. It was about 200 yards from our apartment door. We’d get into our bathing suits, put on our terry cloth bathrobes and some slippers and walk over. Chilly, but bearable. Getting out and back into the warm apartment after the soak was more of a challenge. I discovered that there seemed to be an envelope of warm air around my body for a very short time when I exited the hot tub. Getting the bathrobe on during that time was mandatory! Then put the cover back on the hot tub and high tail it back inside.

hot tub

Our apartment was in the building on the right side, so not too far, except when it was 5 degrees.

hot tub in WV

The photo viewpoint is from the kitchen door, so you see how much shorter the after-tub commute became.

We agreed if we ever should be lucky enough to have a hot tub it would be right by the door to the house. And so, about a year later, we found ourselves building an enclosed screen porch on the back of our house in West Virginia. The tub sat on a concrete pad on the ground and the floor of the porch was built around the tub. We stepped down into the spa and Graham installed a handicap pull bar to help any of us to climb back up and out. The walk to the kitchen door was maybe 10 feet, very easy even in the winter.

But then we moved to Oregon where we are renting a house. I was missing the evening soak time. My joints ached more and so, a friend suggested an inflatable. We bought a Coleman hot tub for about $450 the first year but after they replaced one filter/motor, when that failed within a few months, they would not replace it. We searched but could not purchase a new filter alone. So we bought another inflatable for about $250. Watch for sales!!IMG_1953

The inflatable works for us. It runs on 110 household current so we did not have to install a new 220 line into the house. That saved us some money but the lower wattage means the temperature control goes through a cycle which runs about 48 hours and then turns off. We need to check and restart sometimes before the shutdown happens so we can maintain the temperature. The other issue is that it will not run the heat if the jets are operating. Not a biggie for me; I don’t use the jets.

So, the last time I was in the hot tub was the morning before my knee surgery. After that I was restricted from “swimming, hot tubs, saunas” and a few other wet activities. One concern is infection through the suture site. That is well healed now, so should no  longer be a factor.

But, and this is a big issue, I need to be able to get myself out of the hot tub safely. First, I need to be able to swing my leg over the height of the wall. It is an inflatable so not rigid, and if I touch it, it will bend. Graham built me a contraption with 2 posts and a rope so I had something the proper height for practice.  That was not difficult to gain the movement I needed.

Image result for block and tackle to lift heavyHowever, I need to get up off my butt. The inflatable hot tub does not have the molded seats a regular fiberglass hot tub offers; we sit on the padded bottom. So, I need to be able to stand up without the need for a block and tackle.  Simple, eh?  Well, no. As my knee issue got worse and started involving my pelvis and hips last summer, Graham installed a handicapped handrail on the post holding the roof over the tub. (You thought we sit in the hot water with the cold winter rain falling on us????? Come on!)  That rail helped me, but I was able to get on my knees before the surgery. Now, not a comfortable position.  So, after thinking and thinking about it, I tried a few times at home.

Now, in order to do a task that is difficult, the easiest way to figure out how to manage the move is to figure out the physics of it to maximize the strength while minimizing effort. I didn’t take physics in high school and until now, I figured the computer science class I took instead was an excellent substitute.  But now,  more than 45 years after that class decision in high school,  I was trying to figure how to fulcrum me up and out…..hmmmmm

Physical therapists are special people. Maybe a tad masochistic as they push their patients through pain to improvement, generally they are upbeat, optimistic and very much enjoy challenges like this. So this morning at Physical Therapy I sat on the floor next to a table that had been lowered to the height I needed and it only took two times to conquer the move. I know I can get up now! No block and tackle needs to be ordered. LOL

On Monday I will go to the surgeon’s appointment prepared to show him I have the safety issue covered. And if I need to wait, I will wait……but I am betting on hot tub Monday evening!!!

 

 

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Wealthy Beyond Measure

Make new friends but keep the old; One is silver and the other’s gold.

I learned that song in Brownies and it must have made a lot of sense to me as a 7-year-old because I have friends from prior chapters of my life.  My best friend from 6th grade is someone I can rely on always to be there for me. Other best friends in now far away former places I have lived maintain contact through the joy side of the Internet and we sometimes get to visit in person.Liz and Graham dancing

When I first joined Graham he was taking a six-month sabbatical in Pueblo, Colorado and we made some wonderful friends there. Anne and Barring just left this morning after two very full days to continue their summer exploration of the Pacific Northwest before returning home.  In the seven years since we left Colorado to return to West Virginia we have seen them twice and after basely skimming the surface of the wonderful attributes of the Willamette Valley on this short visit, they promise they will return to Oregon again.Barring and Anne at winery June 11 2014

It is difficult for some people to make friends.  Some simply because they don’t recognize the signs of a mutual interest that could serve as a base for deeper communication and friendship.  Friendship is not an instantaneous event and although I may have almost 300 “friends” on Facebook, many are people I have never met but we connected over some commonality. Whether that relationship builds to a true friendship will only be borne out over time. A few I think might; several others are not probable and the majority are in between. Being realistic of the term “friend” on Facebook is a sign of maturity.

It is also difficult for many people to maintain friendships when someone moves. I once worked for a wonderful woman who I am sure I will not offend at this moment because I sincerely doubt she reads anything I write now. I made a decision to move that had nothing to do with her.  She maintained contact for less than six months, and then, silence to every email, letter and phone call I made. It leaves me wondering how she is, and what the hell happened?  But I have to leave it behind. It was, after all, her choice.

This Patty Loveless song may sum up the pain many people feel when someone leaves.  For those, the pain of the leaving may get confused with anger at the person who left instead of maintaining contact.Friends

The internet and many cell phone plans make it easier than ever before for long distance friendship to continue. They are different, of course, then when people live proximal, but as my friend in New Jersey and these recent visitors from Colorado show, when there is love, there can be continuance. Forever. And so, I am wealthy beyond measure.


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Dry Land

Having grown up in the Northeast, the only time I lived in a climate that was significantly different was half a year in Pueblo, Colorado. I am used to a climate that has cold winters, hot summers and about 40 inches of rain a year, pretty evenly spaced throughout all four seasons.h2a_climate_zone_map

I’m now in the Willamette Valley in Oregon which has a similar climate except the rain tends to take place mostly in the winter.

Driving west across the United States this past week has reminded me how much of the central part of the nation has a lot less rain. The trees disappeared in eastern Kansas, reappeared along the eastern part of the Rockies west of Denver, and then faded away again. Eastern Oregon right is high desert and there are no large tracts of trees here now. I did learn that junipers were harvested…and then found not to be a commercial wood. But the trees which had taken hundreds of years to grow were gone, and there are no new trees now.

Sure, planted trees grow. I’m not talking about the classic windbreaks planted around homesteads on the prairie. I’m talking about natural forests.  They are an indication of ground water. In much of the central portion of the country, the only places you see natural tall vegetation (besides the timothy grass) is along water courses.DSC_0050

But there is farming everywhere. Amazing to see patches of green in the middle of the high desert where the natural vegetation is sagebrush and tumbleweed.  What makes that possible is irrigation.DSC_0021

Everywhere from Illinois west, we have seen long metal contraptions sprinkling water.  We’ve seen irrigation taking place over green fields and over fallow fields.DSC_0244

Canals to bring water to fields started showing up west of the Rockies. When we got off the Interstate highway in Oregon and started driving back roads the canal systems were easier to see.DSC_0038

It surprises me that so much spray irrigation and open canal irrigation is in use instead of drip irrigation. I suspect there is a lot I don’t know, but loss to evaporation has to result in water loss that is open to the air.