Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Parental data gaps

Last night, Cara called and we talked. She has a big presentation on Wednesday, and much to her horror discovered that her professor written on the topic some time back. She had independently reached some of the same conclusions that her professor had. She was sick to think that her professor might think that she'd cheated, and it was way too late to start over.

As a mother, my first thought was that a student would have to be crazy to plagiarize their professor, of all people. Cara had gone to the professor and explained this, and explained to her the thought processes she had used to draw her own conclusions independently during the weeks of preparation, and that she'd only become aware that her professor had been published on this when the professor herself had told Cara this, just a week before.

She's not sure what her professor thinks. She said, "I have a terrible time. I probably looked guilty as hell. I always do. I remember in fourth grade when I did a perfect map of Michigan. I took forever on it, and I was so proud. When I presented it to the teacher, I said, 'I did a good job on this and I didn't even copy it.'" Unfortunately, the teacher decided that her statement meant that she had copied it,  and was a liar. Cara said, "I was so mortified, and my face got red, and she kept saying that my face gave me away."

I'm kind of like that, myself, so I understood, but I was amazed by troubles with her teacher. That teacher attended our church and was in our Sunday school class. I had heard other parents say she targeted kids, but I didn't realize that Cara had had her trouble with her.

We talked about that, and Cara referenced another teacher she'd had problems with. That particular teacher was disturbing to me. She claimed that a ghost lived in her house and she attempted to turn this into a religious experience which I found troubling. I discussed this at length with Cara to insure that she understood that Tim and I saw things differently. Mrs. S hand wandered past her desk one day and said impatiently, "Didn't anyone ever teach you how to color properly?" In the ensuing conversation, Cara mentioned, "You know, my mother thinks you're a whack job." Mrs. S. sent her immediately to the principal's office.

"Really???!!" I said. I had a pretty good relationship with the schools. If there was a problem, they called me. "What happened next?" Turns out they had called home, but they got Tim, who went to school and sorted it all out. He took Cara home for the day, and mentioned that she might want to keep her mother's opinions to herself, especially when she was speaking to the person her mother had strong opinions about.

Now. I do remember speaking with the principal about this teacher. I do not however, have any recollection of the 'whack job' debacle.

Tonight, Cara had a rough day at work, and she called me.  To cheer her up, I told her about William's bedroom. He is too little to sleep upstairs by himself, so I bought him a little toddler bed and the sweetest little desk. These things fit perfectly into a corner of the office, so that he can sleep on the same floor as Tim and I when he comes to spend the night. I bought him two wooden puzzles and a wooden firetruck with rubber wheels.  I even found an old fashion jack in the box.

At that, Cara yelped. Turns out that her experiences with jack-in-the boxes had been pretty traumatic, and she did not remember them fondly. She called them something to the effect of little tin boxes from hell.

I did not know that either.

I seemed to have missed a lot.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


I caught one heck of a cold in February, the 22nd to be precise. On March 13th, I sought medical attention, and hard the argument with the Physcian's Assistant who decided that I was an abuser of antibiotics, having had a prescription of them the previous May.

After a bit of debate, I walked out of there with my prescription for antibiotic, and although I had asked not to get amoxicillin, which historically does not work for me, she wrote me out a prescription for a derivative of it.

I did begin to feel better, but once the antibiotic was stopped, my sinus symptoms and cough returned, and in my lackadaisical way, I decided that I didn't feel like arguing with this woman, and due to her interactions with Tim during his last situation, we decided that it was time to move onto a new doctor. Except that I didn't look for one. (I'm a busy woman.)

I got good and sick and wound up with another prescription of antibiotics for a long term sinus ailment.

You know, I finished that antibiotic, and once again, those symptoms are creeping back. I'm not sure what this is, but it appears to be immortal.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


It's begun to turn into spring here. Yesterday, coming home from work, I pulled off into a swamp area, and neverminding about my khakis and my good shoes, I trekked off with a bucket.

I was on the hunt for frog eggs. One of our sites was doing a spring theme of frogs. I suggested that we should bring in frog eggs. It is fascinating to watch them develop, hatch, and watch the tadpoles (or pollywogs, whatever you call them) turn into frogs.

Staff stopped to gape at me. Did I know where to find them? I smiled. I pass by the sprawling Akeley swamp on my way home. That place is full of frogs, and it would be a simple matter to find them. They looked doubtful, and I was surprised at how many adults had never watched such a simple thing as that, or even had an idea what frog eggs looked like.

It's been a while since I've spent time in a swamp, and it was nice to walk along the trail listening the the frog songs. I knew that where there are frogs, there must be frog eggs, so I followed my ears. I noticed that one side of the trail was higher than the other and had a slow water current as the water went from higher to lower. Frogs lay their eggs where there is no current, and so I switched to the other side where the water was lower and stagnant, and almost immediately found what I was looking for.

Crouched there intent on what I was doing, listening to the diverse life sounds of a healthy swamp, I suddenly found myself missing, really missing, my solitary days spent tramping around swamps trapping mosquitoes. I truly did love that job.

I collected my bucket and headed back out.

Everything happens for a reason, I think, and I am glad that I have the knowledge to bring such a simple gift to the people I work with now.  I love this job too.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Story of the Three Chairs.

I haven't been over to Lori's blog for a while, but she left a comment on my blog and I thought, "Oh, gees..." and wandered over to her place. She had posted a sweet picture of the rocking chair she had as a little girl.

Her stories reminded me of my stories.

Once upon a time there was a little girl, maybe three, who had visited her grandparents. She sat in her grandmother's rocking chair, and rocked and rocked and rocked.

And lo, it was good.

It was so good that when the little girl got back home all she could think of was that lovely rocking chair. Being a resourceful child, she went to her piggy bank, emptied out two pennies and headed to town to buy a rocking chair of her very own.

She didn't get too far before the police discovered her in the middle of the street and pulled her to safety. It was about the same time that her mother came frantically searching for her. I don't believe that I actually remember that part, but family legend has it that there was a severe whupping involved. To quote my mother, I got one lick for every step towards home that I took.

When my grandparents heard this story, a large box was delivered to our house. This part I do remember. In that box were two rocking chairs. One was for me, the other for my sister.

This is that chair. It's now over 50 years old, and each of my own have rocked in it, and now my little William rocks in it.
 When Tim's mother saw the little chair, she recollected that Tim's little rocking chair was tucked away in the attic. This was retrieved and brought to our house. This is HIS 50 year old chair.
 The bear sitting on it actually belonged to my father. It was not his when he was a little boy. My brother in law's sister gave it to him for some reason. Now it lives with me.
This is my mother's rocking chair. It is not ancient. I don't imagine that it is much over 30 years old. It's a nice place to sit and rock and ponder things. My fanny fits much more comfortably in this than either of the first two rockers. If you are Australian, you are sniggering in a most unbecoming way this very second.
 This is a gratuituous William shot. "Ca-Wa" bought him a candy pacifier for Easter. It made a cute picture, but he wasn't all that excited about it, turns out. It was swapped out for the bink he has in his right hand in fairly short order.

But that chair he's sitting in? Doesn't it match nicely with the sofa?You can't really tell from the picture, but the light portion of the leaves and the chair match perfectly.
Perfectly I tell you.
I am making much of this because it appears to be its only redeeming grace.
I don't mind it, but everyone else has decided that it is deucedly uncomfortable.

Now, I realize that this has turned out to be The Story of the Four Chairs (and a sofa), but I have never been a person who knows when to end a story.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I fits.

Every week, I go to the Dollar Tree, and I gather a bunch of things to use in therapy. This week's find was large plastic jacks in neon colors. They are easier for people with limited hand skills to pick up. Children's bangle bracelets are another great find. At $1 for 12 of them in neon colors, they work great on the homemade range of motion arcs I designed out of hula hoops. A wonderful maintenance man built the wooden base for them. Punching balloons are another great thing. You can fill them with hand lotion or with beans or with rice, for different sensations as they are handled. You can also just fill them with air and bat them around, of course. You can also do some pretty amazing things with pool noodles and they are light enough that no one gets hurt. It's all about action and moving and engaging them on a physical level. Hand lotions encourage independent finger movement, flexion, extension, bilateral hand use. The ladies love scented lotion...such a small luxury. I have three bottles that allow them to make a choice, and they love that too.

Today, a director told me how glad she was that I worked in her facility. Touched, I stopped and said, "Aw! Thanks. That means a lot to hear." She looked at me and said, "You are one of ours now. We are a family."  I walked away, and I was glad for that moment. Later another staff member and I were talking about a client. I said, "Well, you're my eyes and ears. You have a lot more experience with him than I do. I certainly trust your judgment on this." Later I walked past her room and I heard her say, "I LOVE her. She LISTENS!"

Today, I had a client rush up to hug me every time he saw me in the hall. Another client couldn't wait to show me something he was VERY excited about: he had been on an outing and bought himself a Pepsi safely put away in the refrigerator. He was thrilled with that small secret, and he couldn't wait to share it with me. I talked to a client and told her that I wanted to see her use her hands and fingers more and I showed her an activity I'd created with her in mind. I said, "Is it a deal? Will you use this?" She looked at me with her brilliant smile and the word came with great effort. "Deal!" A frustrated man listened as I talked to him. At the end of the session, he smiled and said, "You make me feel better when I come to OT."

All these things...it sounds like bragging, doesn't it? But it's not. It's just that I have always been a person to notice the little things, and right this moment, my life is so full of these little things that really, my cup runneth over.

I may not fit everywhere, but where I fits, I fits good.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Life Lessons

Life lesson:

Blood pressure prescriptions...not optional my friends. Not optional.

Cara came home for the weekend. She kidnapped William. He had a great time with "CaWa", but also seemed a little bemused, not exactly certain why she was in his Mee-Ma's house. I was sick in bed, but I heard his little voice in the hall, explaining it all to CaWa. "This MEE-MA vacuum cleaner. This MEE-MA telephone. This GOMPA toothbrush. This MEE-MA toothbrush," and he led her through the house carefully pointing out his grandparent's belongings. Cara popped in to say, "Gees. I think he thinks I'm going to take your stuff."

I was telling a client about this today as we worked together. "Mee-Maw," I said, shaking my head. "Where did he come up with that? Who calls their grandma "Mee-Maw?" and worked away with her. Suddenly, she gave a quivering sigh, and I looked up, startled. Her brown eyes were far away, and filled with tears.

I stopped what I was doing, and put my face close to hers, and she sobbed against my shoulder. I cried too, for the inadvertent trigger of my words. At the end of the session, I took extra time to rub scented lotion into her hands and arms, and she smiled through her tears, delighted at the scent.

 Before long, her tears had stopped. As I gently wiped the traces of them from her cheeks, I prayed never to forget that locked inside that body without a voice there is a woman who loved ~no...loves~ her grandma.

Friday, April 12, 2013


Today, I had a big day at work. I was trying to pick up two clients who'd been absent on my previous visit to the facility, and my Fridays are hectic to begin with. Adding two clients...well, it was the biggest daily caseload I'd ever carried, and I wasn't sure that I could do it, but...

....I begin work at 8. According to my schedule, I'm supposed to use that time to prepare for my day, and see my first client at 9. However, two clients arrive before 9, and so I started a few minutes early.

...clients eat their lunch at 11, so generally speaking, that time is used to enter the morning notes. I gave up the morning data entry and saw two clients with g-tubes who do not eat lunch.

...I skipped my own lunch break and saw another client.

...and one of my appointments was absent.

One by one, I went down through my list, doing therapy, making notes, checking people off.

By the end of the day, I had seen them all.

I used my one hour at the end of the day, and typed like crazy, getting the day's data entry done in one hour. I walked out of there feeling very accomplished. Although my day was cram-jammed, I can say that no sessions were rushed. There was eye contact, and there were hugs. A chance to meet a family member. I made important discoveries about two very challenging clients which led to very successful sessions. Things like that thrill me in a way that I cannot explain.

You know, for most of my life, I've been doing some pretty negative self talk. I have often tried to break myself of the habit. Today, I found myself striding across the parking lot, my rain coat flapping loose in the breeze. I realized that I was having another inner dialogue. For the first time, I heard me telling myself, "You are very good at what you do. You have a God-given skill to reach people. You are where you are supposed to be."

I stood at my car for a minute, amazed at the changes in myself. At 55, I have become self-confident, and I'm not sure how it happened, but I drove home being very grateful that it has.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


I received a sweet note in the mail complimenting me on a recent column. The writers, a married couple, liked that I noticed the details of life and appreciated them, just as they do.

I was touched by it.

I also recognized his name, and his youthful face came to mind immediately. He came to teach at my elementary school, replacing the elderly Mrs B who taught me, and who had taught my father before me in the self same school, a sweet lady who talked to the teddy bears on the piano (remember when almost all the teacher played piano?) and who called me 'Jerry' because I looked like my father.

Then young Mr. E came to take her place.

I got to thinking about it a little. Mr. E was, say 22 or 23, when he came to teach. I was perhaps 10.

That young man who came to take that elderly teacher's place all those years ago has to be almost 70 himself. 


I hate math.


I ordered some primary books for William, Dr. Suess. I received an e-mail from the company that detailed the billing of these books. Since I had paid for them with my credit card at the time of purchase, I wanted to make sure that the payment had been processed. I responded to the e-mail and received a reply from (I kid you not) Anne Shirley.

That made me laugh.

I wonder if she sits next to Tom Sawyer. Or Ramona Beasley QUIMBY. (Red-faced late edit)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Last night I went to bed a 9 PM. The night before that, I woke up at 3 AM from a nightmare, and never did fall back asleep. My mind being what it is began to whirl off into why I would have dreamt such a dream, and what did it mean. Then I began to incorporate it into that book that I am writing in my head....long story short, suddenly the alarm clock was ringing and I was tired as heck but had to get up anyway.

Yesterday, at work, I realized how this whole situation there has changed my perspective.

I had a glowing moment with a client who doesn't look at you. She can talk but she doesn't. I asked hera question and then waited for the answer...30 seconds...1 min...suddenly, it came...she whispered "Yes."
It was a great moment, and my heart nearly burst with the thrill of it, but I just quietly tied off her necklace, and placed it around her head, telling her how pretty she was. I told her that I would see her next week, and then, on a whim, I held out my arms and said, "Do I get a hug?" And with a shy smile, she walked into my arms and stood there with her head against my shoulder.

I walked out of the room satisfied with my day's work.

Thinking about the job, I felt so terrible about the cut in hours. It was offered up with criticisms. I have discovered that things are not what they seemed, initially. Once the shame and the disappointment eased, I have re-discovered that I actually am very good at what I do. I have re-realized that it fills me with satisfaction. I am good with people. I can connect.

I was trying to explain it to Cara. "It sounds like I'm bragging, but..." and she stopped me with a simple, "Mom. Sometimes you should brag. I'm proud of you."

I felt sort of a wonder at that.

It's a fit, where I am, with my clients, but the job itself is very 'clique-y'. It is the sort of place where it is best not to interact any more than necessary with co-workers, because it becomes hot gossip around the lunch table. An example? I was walking down the hall when I looked over to see a PT talking to a speech therapist. Another OT hissed "Ooooh. A LOVE interest?" I looked at her, surprised. I know that the PT is a gabber, like me. We've stopped and talked, as far as that goes. I had seen the same scene that my co-worker had, but I saw two people talking in a friendly way. I didn't know how to respond, but I knew that I had heard how she would speak about me the minute she saw something rude to say. I saw someone who would be forever a work acquaintance. Never a friend. That's how the clinic is.

But I do what I do for myself. I enjoy what I do. I enjoy the magic of connecting. It amazes me every time that it happens, and excuse me if I sound like a braggart, but it does happen. It happened again today. I do what I do for the client. I will continue to work the hours I have left to me, and I will fill those other hours with substitute positions. Making the decision to keep my head down and work hard and try my best to ignore the rest of it was the wise thing to do, even though it was difficult. People have watched me, and people have come to compliment me on my professionalism, and on the work that I do.

And so the cold knot of disappointment and shame has begun to loosen inside me, being replaced with something warmer. The season is changing.

Last night, coming out of the gym, I listened to the peepers.

It is spring.

Last night I went to bed early because I was worn out from a long day and the sleepless night before it. I fell asleep, soundly, right away. I woke up, briefly to hear the rain outside and a crack of thunder, and I smiled half awake in the dark.

It is spring.

This morning, the alarm went off, and I got up and wandered to the kitchen to make coffee. I did not need to turn on the heater. The ceramic tile of the office floor did not feel freezing to my feet.

It is spring.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Beauteous table

This is the table that we got for $29.
 Isn't it gorgeous?

 It will take a while to get all the dust off, but I'm working on it.
 Isn't the detail just gorgeous?
I'm in love with this table.
I know exactly where it is going.
What a find!
Tim loves this old dead tree. It is right next to the house we just bought. Nature boy is going to leave it there for all the birds.

He really loves this house.  It will take a while to make this live-able, but he adores it. He gets the same look in his eye that I get when I talk about the house that I love so much.

We are, unfortunately, talking about two different houses.

It was much, much easier when we were in love with the same house.


Yesterday, it happened. Spring has sprung. It was in the seventies.

It was warm when I went to church. It was warmer when I came out. I worked out for an hour and when I walked out of the gym, it was warmer yet.

It was a good day to be outside. Tim and I turned over the dirt in our garden. It is good rich dirt. We have a supply of very aged mulch to use for the cucumber hills and to make a pumpkin patch for William. It felt good to be outside and working.

We went to the new house to look around. The neighbor was out taking advantage of the nice weather too so we walked across the little stone and earth bridge that connects the two properties. Turns out we know these people.

I love the house I'm in, and I never ever want to move, but Tim is very excited about this house. It's on the edge of the woods. It has a garage for him to work in. He has all these plans.

In a very secret part of my heart it has occurred to me that this little house will be perfect for him one day if he were ever to be left alone.  Our house would be way too big for one person to rattle around alone in. I think that it would also be hard to live in a house that is so full of "us".

It' a strange way to think. My mind always heads off in that direction when I have that yearly visit to the cancer center looming on the horizon, and in part, that is why I simply caved after hearing Tim talk about this house for weeks.

It's a bit like insurance, I guess. We may never need it, but it's good to know that it's there.

We went to the grocery store to get groceries for the week. While we were standing in line, we chatted with Wilma, who Tim and I worked with back when we first met working in a factory that no longer exists. While we were talking with Wilma, I looked over and two lines away, I see another one of the people from that company. I said hi to John. Within seconds, I saw Rich, the fellow that hired me to work there. Makes me smile. I needed the job desperately, truth be told, but I had no idea that the job would change my life.

While we were all blabbing, I recognized yet another voice. One of our old tenants was the cashier, and I had not even recognized her. Wilma laughed. "That's a sign you're getting old, honey!" and I told her to shush, with a twisted up face, and we all had another hearty laugh as she swept out the door.

By that time, another woman from church came up to chat. She discovered that we live two doors down from a house that she owns.

The cashier said, "Don't forget your purse!" We had come from the garden. I did not have a purse with me. I recognized that it was Wilma's.

I darted out the door with it, and I found her in the parking lot. "Talk about getting old!" I said, and she laughed at me, wondering what I was going to say next. I said nothing, but held up her purse. Her laugh changed to a horrified look. "Oh, gees!" she gasped. I handed over her purse and we had one final chuckle.

Tim came along and said, "Let's go home," and so we did.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Tim has questions.

Last fall, Tim had received a gift card to a fancy-dancy restaurant. We'd never used it. Today we decided to do just that.

Tim said, "On the way up, why don't we stop and look at that chair that you like for the livingroom?"
I've been looking for an upholstered wing back chair for quite a while, but our couch is kind of busy (see above) not to be confused with the busy grandson (also see above). I just happened to stop into this 'junk' store and found two of them, matching chairs in a mossy silver green color that will match with the couch.

When Tim saw them, he liked them too, although he said, "Green? Our couch has green in it?"

He asks the most bizarre questions, sometimes.

I was showing him something else when he saw it, a long table under a pile of junk in a corner. We could see carving and a pedestal beneath it. It was a old table, probably 5 feet long. The veneer is damaged on the top, but Tim had just seen an program on the DIY network and was excited to try stripping the veneer. I liked it immediately. It looks (to me) as if it was a table that came out of a church somewhere.

Tim asked another bizarre question. "Where would you put it?" The obvious answer is (of course) that it is a lovely piece of furniture and we'll find the perfect place for it.

Of course, it had no price on it. I went off to find the proprieter, who came back and acted a little surprised that there WAS a table underneath everything. He pondered it and said, "Okay, $29." I was a bit incredulous since he has some really cheaply put together stuff at what I consider to be exorbitant prices. I looked at Tim. He looked at me. "We'll take it," he said, "and we'll take one of those chairs over there."

Checking out, I saw, of all things a set of baoding balls in a display. I got excited, since these are a good therapy tool and I have two clients that I can think of off hand that would benefit from these. I asked about them, and the guy said, "I'll tell you what...$3.00."

Tim had another question: "What do you need those for?"

We went out for a steak dinner, I noticed that when the man has a belly full of beef, he stops asking questions.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Roger Ebert

I guess that I don't understand the hub-bub, not really. The comment was made that Roger Ebert "did NOT lose his courageous battle with cancer, but that cancer took his life."

I'll admit that it peeves me to read obituaries where it seems de rigueur to say "------- -------- passed peacefully after a courageous battle with cancer."

What choice do people have, really? You get cancer, you need to suck it up and start pushing back with all your might. It's a battle of wits, a massive headgame. You've got to wrap your head around the fact that you might have the disease that will end your life and at the same time grit your teeth and say to yourself, "...but by God, it hasn't killed me yet."

So in that context the words 'courageous battle' bug me. I didn't consider myself brave. I was simply playing the hand I got dealt. Hardly anyone I know who's dealing with it think of themselves as brave. They just wake up everyday and keep on going, try to stay positive. Play the hand that they are dealt, just like me, just like millions of others in this world.

So yes. The obituary phrase makes me grit my teeth. I'm sure all those courageous people had their moments of weakness. Just like me. I'm sure that sometimes they lay in bed thinking and they got scared. Just like me. But that doesn't look good in the paper. You can't say, "------- -------- passed away peacefully after a fairly decent battle with cancer, but s/he had weak moments and sometimes s/he cried in the dark." Or even, "------ -----  died after turning into a sniveling coward upon hearing the cancer diagnosis."

Naw. You can't say stuff like that. Even if it is true.

But...THIS thing: Roger Ebert "did NOT lose his courageous battle with cancer, but that cancer took his life."


"Cancer took Roger Ebert's life."


But I ask you true. Saying it that way? What the hell did it change?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Pushing through

I'm sitting here in the dark at the computer with a glass of wine.

I got a bit off track with my workouts during the neverending cold, and have resumed them. I was surprised at the initial difficulty. I was exhausted and it was hard to breathe. Today, I did 6.5 mi. doing a double cardio, the first was a 30 min 'armblaster' workout. Then I did a 35 min 'cool down' cardio on the treadmill, 3.5 mph. I was exhausted, but a good exhausted, but today, for the first time, I felt like I was back on track, so to speak.

You know, being a parent of adult children is hard stuff. You see them making foolish choices and it leaves you with a choice; you can either say, "Ah well, they are adults..." or you can say, "You're an adult and you're going to do what you're going to do, but your choice is an irresponsible one."

I was at a store when I saw one of my former Sunday School students, and I talked to him for a while. His dad came up and we talked a bit too. At one point, the father said something and his boy squinched up his face impatiently. Unperturbed, his father said, "I'm your father, and it is my job to tell you the truth."

Tonight, I looked into the face of my adult child. I took a deep breath and I said, "You're an adult and you're going to do what you're going to do, but your choice is an irresponsible and selfish one." I said no more.

I felt like crap for saying it. I would have felt like crap if I didn't.

Monday, April 1, 2013


Today, it snowed.

Tomorrow, it's supposed to snow again. Wednesday, more snow.

I'm trying to be patient. There are tiny crocuses popping up their heads, and the asparagus in the back yard has shoots. The hostas are pushing through. The snow drops shyly look at their cold feet. In the morning, when I leave for work, I heard the birds singing and it sounds like spring. The snow has melted off downtown.

Everywhere I look I can see the tiniest glimpses of spring and the promise of better days coming.

But today, it snowed.

Tomorrow, it's supposed to snow again. Wednesday, more snow.