Monthly Archives: May 2014

Tethers

My internet connection is now new and improved, and I can actually get some work done. That also means I can stream my Pandora stations at will and I find that I keep going to the same one. My two dozen stations range from Big Band music to Mariachi music, from Tex-Mex to Reggaeton, from Disco to R&B. Yet I find myself going to the same Reggae/Bob Marley station. I must be homesick.

Amazingly, it’s been two weeks since I left home. Things are easier now; a routine has developed and though I’ve had to dip into the honey/poison jar (the Prednisone bottle) all is going fairly well.  Carmen and I have acclimated and assimilated to each other, with each other?

We are forming a new and improved bond. The kind that naturally results from daily exposure to each other. She keeps my day full till Mom and Dad come home in the evening, but she also keeps my heart full with her smiles, her hugs and her remarkable comprehension skills. Babies must be new and improved nowadays as well.

I miss my other grandchild tremendously. Though by now I usually see her only once or twice a week, I was her main caregiver during her first two years of life and that bond, that tether, will never be broken or weakened as long as my heart beats, and perhaps even beyond. When my daughter sent me this picture, it gave me a visceral pang.

party

Celebrating at a birthday party.

Of course there is the one person to whom I’ve been tethered to for more than half my life. And though that bond has waned and intensified during the peaks and valleys as the years passed, it seems to remain unbroken.

One of the first things we found we had in common was our love of Reggae. Me, from a little Texas town, and he, from the big city of L.A., somehow connected on a little island in the Gulf of Mexico and discovered many shared likes and dislikes. It was the strangest thing, to find a person who for some reason thinks like you.

That first night, we met at a Disco no less, was spent talking on the phone till the sun came up. Now some of the Marley songs take me right back to that time. He’s not taking my absence well. But lucky for him, I have to make a quick trip home next week, when, I suppose, we shall reinforce that tether.

Meanwhile I dedicate this song to him.

 

 

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Ergonomics

–A science that deals with designing and arranging things so that people can use them easily and  safely.

–The parts or qualities of something’s design that makes it easy to use.

Source: http://www.merriam-webster.com

It was after I’d had my third child at the ripe old age of 31 that a pediatrician told me only the young were meant to be parents. I laughed because I felt old already. In nine years I’d tallied up three children and two husbands. Who wouldn’t feel old after that?

I am reminded of that incident now that I can truly relate to what he was saying. Once you hit middle age, it’s no time to start having kids, or running after them on a full-time basis. Nature even made sure of that. I guess you could call it nature’s ergonomics.

This isn’t the first time I take over the care of a grandchild, nor is it the first time after RA made its presence known. But I can hardly remember my first granddaughter as an infant and toddler, and she’s not even five yet. All I can recall is the comforting warmth of her little body as I rocked her before her naps. Emotional ergonomics.

I think the main difference now, in caring for my second toddler grandchild, is that I’m not in my own home, where I have adapted things to compensate for my unpredictable aches and pains. Physical ergonomics.

After one full week of being in charge of her care during the better part of the day, my hands are complaining. Loudly. The challenge in this new environment is that I will have to adapt to it, not the other way around. Personal ergonomics.

washing dishes

I’m opting out of using the dishwasher, and instead washing the dishes by hand. The hot water is super soothing to my aching hands. Though some things will have to remain unwashed, at least by me, as my decreased grip does not allow me to open them. Also, the cooking pots and ceramic dishes are quite heavy and tax my hands, but I bear some responsibility for that as some were gifts from me!

sweeping

Necessity is the mother of invention they say. Having a toddler insist on feeding herself guarantees mess on the floor. My broom at home is very light; the broom here is quite heavy. The answer? Carmen’s toy broom to the rescue  and her toy hoe as my dust pan! She follows me around saying, “Hoe, hoe, hoe,” until I rinse out the hoe and give it back to her.

high chair

Her high chair is beautiful. An Amish work of art given to her by her grandfather. The only problem for me is that it is made of solid wood, therefore the tray is quite heavy and hurts my fingers when I lift it. There’s no answer to that, but I do miss the plastic tray that my other granddaughter had.

I have to say the worst part about being in this small town is having unreliable internet service. Music plays a big part of my day. It’s a stress reliever, an analgesic, and a muse sometimes. One day I wanted to run my Pandora Reggae station; it wouldn’t come in at all, though I tried countless times to start the streaming. Right when my frustration reached its peak there was a knock on the door. Two friendly gentlemen stood there. They handed me a pamphlet and said, “We just stopped by to give you this.”

photo (8)

Spiritual ergonomics?

Be a fountain . . .

. . . not a drain.

I had this terrible habit of writing down sayings that stopped me in my tracks and then not noting where I’d gotten them. Thus, I cannot attribute this particular saying, but I know I didn’t write it. And I give thanks to whoever did.

It’s good advice I am trying to follow.

Be a fountain of giving. Giving of my time to my youngest granddaughter. I have moved into her home for a spell. She needs me. I need her. She has astounded me with her vocabulary and her comprehension. At eighteen months old, I expected her to still be more of a baby than a toddler. Well, she’s having none of that. Her development is in fast forward.

Be a fountain of words. My work of course came with me. I even found a piece of luggage called “Office” to lug it all in. An office on wheels. The advertising copy promised it would fit under an airplane seat, but when I tried to stuff it in there, it wouldn’t go. Too tall and too wide.

Then I realized that the compartment under the aisle seat was narrower than the one under the middle and window seats. I had no choice but to stuff it in the overhead compartment. I’m short and the thing was heavy, but the worst part was that it had my laptop in it and I prefer to keep that with me.

We landed in New Orleans with such a bang that it would not have made any difference where my laptop was. It would have shaken, rattled and rolled wherever it was. The flight attendant joked, “Don’t forget to check the seatback for any belongings. In fact, check all over the aircraft for your belongings.” That was funny, but note to self: no more aisle seats.

Be a fountain of love. What else but love could compel me to leave the people I love to come be with the people I love. I will miss my other baby. I gave her extra kisses and hugs the last time I saw her and I lost track of how many I love you’s we shared on the phone before my flight. Her tiny little voice almost made me not want to leave.

Be a fountain of health. My personal pharmacy came with me as well. Have pills will travel. My hands are not happy that I’m not taking Prednisone anymore, the left more than the right, but since I’m right-handed, it’s not that bad.

And it’s really not that bad overall. I expected it to be worse, but I’m glad it’s not. If I keep moving, the rest of my body feels fine. It’s only when I sit too long that I feel stiff, but that might not be RA. That might just be me. One thing I know, having to chase after a toddler will inoculate me against sitting around.

And be a fountain of youth. Of course. I keep telling myself how young I still am. And nowadays, it is young. But I just have to keep reminding myself. Inside, I still feel 20. And outside, I’m glad I’m not. If I could be 20 knowing what I know now, maybe.

Hanging out at South Beach, obviously not missing Na at all!

Hanging out at South Beach, obviously not missing Na at all!

Watching Abuela work and ripping apart her Post-its.

Watching Abuela work and ripping apart her Post-its.