Dear Mage

You are so nice to keep looking for me. I am fine; better than I’ve been all year. I’ve just been lazy about writing. Spent much of the last eight months doing leg exercises to counteract my arthritis. I have also lost 27 pounds and am working on losing 10 or 20 more. I am no longer in pain, I can walk normally, and haven’t opened the Tylenol bottle for the last couple of months. I had a wonderful birthday celebration last month. Instead of giving me gifts, I asked my guests to make a donation to the Israeli volunteer organization, Road to Recovery, that helps West Bank Arab children get to hospitals in Israel. Here is a video that tells all about it.

You can learn more about them at http://www.roadtorecovery.org.il/

I’ll tell more about my celebration in my next post, which I promise will be soon. I have to get pictures from Robin and she’s out of town this weekend.

March 26: Fukuoka

I walked around for half an hour before I finally took this picture. Have to go back.

I walked around for half an hour before I finally took this picture. Have to go back.

A beautiful day, sunshine, blue sky, cool, just the way I like it. I felt great; no pain anywhere; could have been 60 again. I walked over to the bus center where I was told I would find a bus for Yusentei, the most beautiful garden in Fukuoka. Had an hour’s worth of trouble finding the bus, but finally got there with the help of the driver. I wasn’t sure if I was in the right place, but then I seldom am sure of anything here. I saw an open doorway in a garden wall and went in–no signs, no one to collect my 280 yen. A woman was sweeping leaves into huge black garbage bags. She never looked up and I walked right past. I still wasn’t sure I was in the right place, but it was one of the most beautiful gardens I have seen. I walked some distance without taking any pictures; just enjoying, figuring I’d make a second round for photos.

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Finally, stunned by one of the scenes I took out the camera. I spent a lot of time walking around and photographing, never seeing another person. I knew I had come in the wrong entrance and figured I would go to the front and pay, when I was stopped. We had no common language so I wasn’t sure if she was annoyed because I hadn’t paid, or what. Finally she made it clear I would have to leave. Terrible disappointment. Like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and being told I can’t have it. She and the other woman showed me out the same way I came in and then closed the door. I walked around to the front entrance and found everything locked up.

One more shot before I let her throw me out.

One more shot before I let her throw me out.

I didn’t screw up this time. The web page said they were closed Mondays. This was Tuesday. In fact, another garden here  purported to be closed on Tuesday, so I was disappointed but didn’t bother going there.

Kushida Shrine: next stop after my bit of shopping.

Kushida Shrine: next stop after my bit of shopping.

 

Shrine guardian. Handsome devil isn't he.

Shrine guardian. Handsome devil isn’t he.

Although I hadn’t planned to stop I will be coming back through Fukuoka on Saturday. Maybe I can get to both of them. Took the bus back to town and walked through a shopping arcade that had two fabric shops and a paper store. You were right Mage, some interesting fabrics. I just bought a little for making book covers. Visited two shrines one much more interesting than the other, and went to the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, which collects and exhibits contemporary Asian art. By the time I started back to the hotel the sky was getting dark and I felt like I was 85. It was worth it.

Canal City: a huge shopping center with all kinds of entertainment.

Canal City: a huge shopping center with all kinds of entertainment.

Last day but one

Another week has gone by and tomorrow afternoon I fly back to Pittsburgh. It’s been a very productive week. Monday morning I went to see my contact lens practitioner. In an hour and a half she found more ways to help me than all of my several visits to the neuro opthamologist in Pittsburgh. She gave me prescriptions for reading glasses with a prism to keep my right eye from drifting, the original problem I had, and glasses I can wear when I remove the contact lenses. Then she asked me not to wear the lenses until I returned to see her on Wednesday in order to measure how much change there would be as my cornea returns to its original distorted shape. Needless to say there was a big change. If I had done this for two more days, I would be close to blindness. The contact lenses are reshaping my corneas and I will probably have to continue wearing them forever.

I met Phyllis at noon at the Rubin Museum. We looked at three floors of exhibits then had lunch. I am not hugely interested in Himalayan Buddhist art, but the place is so lovely and peaceful I find myself returning often. Afterward we went over to Pier 38 on the Hudson River and took the Circle Line Tour around the island of Manhattan, another lovely relaxing activity, although not entirely relaxing for me. I took that same trip with my brother on September 10, 2001. Somewhere I have pictures of the twin towers still standing.

Tuesday afternoon I met another friend and went to the Lunch Hour exhibit at the New York Public Library. By this time I wasn’t seeing very well, but what I saw was good and I enjoyed visiting with my friend. Finally, met another friend for dinner.

Wednesday morning a friend from Jersey drove in to visit, then back to the eye doctor, then, with my contacts, a movie with Renee. Thursday was breakfast, lunch and dinner with friends.

I brought my tunnel book to show my friends on Sunday and to the Thursday night friend, who is very knowledgeable about art. Watching my friends, and particularly my very knowledgeable friend examine it, made me think about doing it again and making changes. There are three kinds of pages in the book: bridges, which hold the book together, path pages, i.e., pages that illustrate the path through the tunnel, and wall pages showing the water cascading down the walls. The path and wall pages are not clearly differentiated, making the viewing a complicated experience. Now I feel I have to do something about this. Also, I haven’t really looked at the piece since I made it. I can see it better now that so much time has elapsed, and I am finding it confusing. I’ll bring it with me to Chicago and see what my artist friends have to say.

Friday I went back to the Met to see what was on the roof. I got there just before the rains came. Here is a picture:: you can see the storm clouds brewing. 
Next I tried to go tp the Whitney. There was a line around the block, it was raining hard and I was wet. I got on the bus and went back to the apartment. After the sun came out I went up to East Harlem to see the tower built for the Giglio Di Sant Antonio Feast. I’ll have pictures after I get home. In the meantime here is another picture from the street fair.

The week that was

Raja left a comment telling me to go to New York for my spirit. Since I always listen to Raja I'm now on the Megabus heading for New York. Seriously, I've been planning the trip for awhile. One of my Israeli friends whom I haven't seen for a long time will be there and we'll spend a few days together.Last week was busy and good; I continued to feel as well as I did before I took that fall.

Monday evening, six other Osher members and I participated in an undergraduate psychology class. The kids seemed to enjoy hearing our life stories, mostly in 500 words or less, and then told us about papers they had written about elder issues. I was impressed with how varied our experiences were, but I imagine it would be true for most Osher members.

On Tuesday I attended the fourth in a series of talks on preparing for death; this one about hospice and palliative care. I'll miss this week's talk about grieving, but hopefully I've done my share and won't have another turn. The talks all emphasized the importance of talking to your family and your doctor about what you want done at the end of your life. They also recommended a guide called Five Wishes. You can download it here. I've had a healthcare advance directive and living will for many years, but I plan to supplant it with this new document. It makes much more sense to me.

My book-making group will have a holiday party on Sunday, right after I return. The highlight of the festivities is to exchange books with each other. I've been working on mine all last week. I'm not quite finished but I'll have time on Saturday afternoon. The picture of the media delivery box that seemed to be recognizable no matter how I turned it, will be on the cover of a box. Inside will be little one-sheet books with pictures of mosaics that were down the street from the box. I'm calling the box and the little books Burning Box Imager. I'll post pictures when I get home and finish the box.

 

Back to normal

Five week and two days later I am finally feeling as well as before I fell. No fooling, it takes a long time to heal. I've been to a nurse practitioner at my primary care office and two different eye doctors. I was beginning to think I would never get back to normal, so I'm very pleased with this day. I've also been involved with a lot of financial nonsense. Just when I most needed everything to function without my intervention, it was not to be. The pharmacy department of my health insurance decided I was expired. I don't know if that meant dead, or that I was no longer covered by the policy. The hassle with the pharmacy and then the several calls with the company was annoying in the extreme. I cringe inside every time I have to call a company. That's just one example. So I cleaned up the kitchen, started a crockpot with soup, and got a haircut. Now, if those dark circles under my right eye would go away, everything would be wonderful.

This is not about Andy Rooney

but his death has raised a lot of questions for me. The obituaries say simply "serious complications after minor surgery." One story said his family requested privacy. I can understand, but this is something we should all be concerned with.

How many of us private citizens suffer from or die from serious complications after minor surgery? Hospitals don't want us to think about it.

Why is a man of 92 having minor surgery? Did he really need it if it was really minor? Did anyone stop to think about how much of his life he would lose to recovery?

This certainly touches on our healthcare systems and our attitudes toward life and death. Too bad he's not around to tell us what he thinks about it.

Another week, another activity postponed

Next year better come, even though my poster says it won't. I'm beginning to think that poster was a curse. I was supposed to go to Chicago last Monday, October 24. Our trek up to Door County was postponed this year because of the illness of our host, so several of us were going to get together in Chicago. It's a place I always like to return to; I guess it will always be home. I was having second thoughts because of the driving, which had been very difficult last spring. So when my friend, in whose apartment I planned to stay, called and said there was a problem, I decided not to go. I regarded it as an omen. I should have just found another place to stay.

Then last Sunday, which was a beautiful day, unlike yesterday, I went out for a walk and I fell. This time I only banged up one side of my face, so only the right side looked like a raccoon, but the swelling was fierce all week. Fortunately only my glasses broke, no bones. MyPicture-2I feel like I've been vegetating all week. Each morning when I woke up the eye seemed sealed shut and took about an hour before it would stay open. I stayed in most of the week, nasty weather anyhow, and Friday night was my first public appearance. I used lots of makeup and kept my glasses on (older ones) and mostly no one seemed to notice–or they didn't want to ask me about it. Today I went to my Osher class and everyone asked. We're not shy about these things.

I'm planning to observe nojomo and write a new post every day in November. I'm not sure I have that much to say, but there's always pictures.