Kindnapped

I never did take communion with Nannee. I felt it would be disrespectful to take communion on false pretenses. I’d have to be a believer to do that. I obviously wasn’t one and had no intention of becoming one, either.  I’d thought she perhaps just didn’t understand. But, then again, she knew my upbringing and now I wonder if it was her way of trying to “save” me.

As Nannee was getting sick more often, not ever getting fully better, Jeff and I would stop on our way home from work and drive over on weekends to make sure she had everything she needed. We’d pick-up her prescriptions, bring in dinner, do her laundry when she was too tired to go down to the basement.

If she knew we were coming, she’d have dinner ready no matter how poorly she was feeling. If she didn’t know we were coming she’d express her disappointment that she wasn’t prepared by saying, “If I’d known you were coming, I’d have baked a cake.” I always thought that was cute.

About this same time, Jeff’s medical issues began to take over our life. He would miss work because of leg and foot pain. He had difficulty walking long distances. He struggled through his delivery job; struggled to keep his blood sugars in check.

He’d be on and off work as doctors recommended all sorts of ‘hopefully this will be a quick fix’ patches. A week of putting his feet up was supposed to help. Trying a new medication that made me him a little loopy was followed by rising and more frequent insulin injections.

He was in and out of hospitals numerous times, suffering through rampant high blood sugar induced yeast infections, and bouts of excruciating pancreatitis. He gained weight and gained sleep apnea.

After a string of absences and unresolved issues, Jeff was encouraged to apply for FMLA. He happily did so, convinced this was just a temporary blip in his life. However, having to take more time off morphed into short term disability, then continued into long term disability.

Throughout it all, Jeff really wanted to get back to work and fully expected to. Eventually, the pain won and left him with the very much unwanted and depressing status of permanently disabled.

In the middle of all this, Jeff and I kindnapped Nannee.

Quote for the Week:

2017 05 17 Some people always see blue skies jakorte

 

Counting in Moments

Before I began this WordPress journey, I used a now defunct free library blog. Before I began A Year of Memories, which is now in its second year, I would just write. Whatever was on my mind; informational editorials and advice, mostly to myself.

I often go back to my archives looking for a specific story: to find an outline, for the facts, for details and any memories I might have forgotten. I didn’t find what I was looking for tonight. I found April 16, 2013, instead.

There were paragraphs before this excerpt and paragraphs beyond, as well. It may seem like an interruption, but it’s a crucial part of the story. It’s what allowed me to have stories to share. I won’t lie and say from here on it will all be laughter. There are more sad moments coming. There are also tender moments, happy moments, hilarious moments.

Still, if there is only one lesson to be learned from storying the past, it is this:

Being pleased with your life is a wonderful long-term thing, but happiness…?
Happiness is a notch above, usually for a shorter time than we’d like.
How could we know what happy was if it didn’t sweep in and out of our lives?

Happiness can only be counted in moments.
So, count them.
Immediately.
Safe-guard the memories.

Someday ahead, you’ll need them to remind you
that you were indeed happy once, and for a while.

Trust that now may not be your time.
Act on this: happiness is something you can give away,
To whomever you choose;
even if you don’t have any, at this particular time.

Quote for the Week:

2017 05 02 Happiness can only be counted in moments jakorte

“Whosoever trusteth in the Lord, happy is he.” – Proverbs 16:20

Shady

The next purchase we tackled opened my eyes a little. I’d like to say it changed me; and it did – for a moment and then left me with a reluctant memory.

The gifted dark wood bedroom set also came with two bedside tables and two bedside lamps sans shades. Compared to the other acquirements, it was a small gnat of a chore. It’d skipped our minds most of the summer, but following the fall time change we’d go to bed and rise up to blinding bare lightbulbs and the annoying retina ‘burn’ spots that go with them. We finally set out to take care of that.

Another Lowe’s Saturday morning found us standing in the lighting section, clutching our measurements, which didn’t tell us much and certainly not what we needed to know. The lamps were over 2 foot tall, but having that information was rather uninformative.

Jeff tracked down an associate, and I explained our problem. The bottom line was there were no real fast rules, but there were standard sizes which left us with three basic choices requiring three more decisions. The first part of the deciding process was to choose between awkward sized standard shades. One version seemed too small, the other seemed too big.

Our easy solution was to buy a set of each, and return whichever didn’t look worse than the other. The next hurdle was shade shape. There were plenty of the normal cone-shaped covers. There were also plenty of degrees of varying steepness to the dimensions, tall ones, short ones, barrels versus sloped versus hourglass.

We agreed on the steeper narrower style, and then had one more agreement to reach. White or Off-white? I thought I was being daring by throwing blue into the mix to match the blue/maroon theme we were stuck with. I was scouring for blue shades to match our criteria, Jeff was wandering around one aisle over.

“Hey,” he called through the shelving, “Come here and look at these!”

I suppose part of my shock was that I was expecting to see a shade in some sort of shade of blue, but Jeff was pointing to an upper shelf, smiling from ear to ear. “I want to get these!” he declared as my eyes followed his movements. He turned back around with a 2-stack of leopard print lampshades.

“Those? ” I replied, “We can’t get those. They don’t match.”  “Match what?” he asked. “The blue and maroon,” I explained. “Who says they have to match?” he looked at me quizzically. “I just don’t think leopard print will look good,” I went on. “When people come to our house it’ll just look silly!”

“They’ll be in our bedroom!” Jeff exclaimed, “Who’s going to see our bedroom?!”  I shook my head and apparently gave him a look that said, “We’re not getting those.” He exasperatedly returned them to the shelf, throwing up his arms once they were empty.

“Why do you ask me?” he wanted to know, “When we’re just going to do what you want anyway!”

Jeff eyes showed his dejection. “Well, because…it… matters,” I stuttererd as my eyes filled with tears. “I’m sorry,” I apologized. “You’re right. I do usually get my way.”  He stared at me incredulously.  “Well, don’t cry about it!” he exclaimed. “They’re only light shades!”

“I’m sorry,” I apologized, again. “If you want them, we’ll get them. Let’s get them. They’ll be fun and you’re right! Who’s gonna see our bedroom, anyway?”

I took them off the shelf again to emphasize my willingness.  Jeff took them from my hands and put them back.

“It’s ok.” he said. “These are kinda expensive, anyway. Let’s just get normal ones… so… white or off-white?”

“You’re sure?” I asked, giving him a watery smile. “You decide.”

He rolled his eyes. “It’s…  just…  light… shades.”

“I know, but I love you,” I sniffed. “I just want to make you happy.”

Jeff stuck his hands in his front pockets, rocked back a bit on his heels, looked at me like I was loon and seriously replied, “You always make me happy.”

“Apparently, not always,” I shot back.

“Geez,” he lamented, shaking his head. “Light shades…”

“Lamp shades,” I corrected him as we moved toward check-out. “Light bulbs, lamp shades.”

He chortled and smiled and then declared, “I’m pickin’ lunch.”

I’m sure wherever we went was wonderful, but I’d rather have the leopard light shades, now.

Quote for the Week:

2017 03 27 same side of the see saw jakorte

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Say:  See-Saw

Reduplication:  See-Saw

‘The Death of Common Sense’ See-Saw

Furnished, Part 2

There have various points in my life when I did not own a bed. I’m not opposed to beds. I just didn’t happen to have one for a few different whiles. As much as that bothered other people, is as much as it did not bother me.

“Suppose you meet someone?” my mother once asked.

To which I logically replied, “If I meet someone, Mom, I’m pretty sure he’ll have a bed.”

Still, my parents insisted I own a bed. So, a mattress, box spring and metal frame moved with me when I did.

When Jeff and I moved into the townhouse, the bed had already been moved 3x. After that, it moved another 2x. We also moved a futon into the townhouse, along with my rocking chair, converta-table and 2 repurposed wooden-armed rolling chairs I purchased from an old fixture sale at newly remodeled Lansing Denny’s. My old orange and brown plaid couch met a crittered stuffing-out mice-in fate in Nannee’s garage.  So, that’s how we decided that our first major purchase together would be a couch.

True to Jeff’s nature, we went loyal and local and only as far as Martin’s in downtown Tecumseh. I’d been in there a few times, but this was my first foray into furniture. Jeff was set on a reclining sofa, which was fine with me. The one he liked came in that standard reclining couch smoky blue. The multi-flecked beige corded material I preferred was only shown in bench style.

As we stood there debating, style vs style, an employee asked if we had any questions. I explained the dilemma and the sales person happily informed us that we could order the recliner Jeff wanted with the fabric I preferred. Just like that, we were done, easy.

Waiting for paperwork, we wandered around a bit more and came up with a two-sized lamp set. A floor lamp and a table lamp featuring scrolled footwork in a rust-over-gunmetal finish. That was easy, too.

Then, we saw it…

A gunmetal iron-work coffee table seated with slate tiles of varying greys, dappled browns and earthy burnt oranges, warm colors we both loved. It was a quite bit fancier than the couch called for and quite a bit over budget. We longingly decided it was prefect for us, unique and worth it.

The real dilemma, though, was the on-the-way-out accidental discovery of two matching side tables we absolutely had no room for, in any room or closet. We debated the likelihood of ever future-matching a pair of side tables. There was lip biting and arm crossing as matching pitted against funding. We turned back to track down the salesman. Another 20 minutes later, we left the store on a compromise of matching and somewhat reasonableness. One side table completed our purchase.

Two days later, uncomfortably crammed onto our soon to be replaced by couch delivery futon, I sort of sighed, looked at Jeff and said, “We should have bought them both…”

“That’s exactly what I was thinkin’!” he replied.

Quote for the Week:

2017-02-21-furniture-commitment-jakorte

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Where We Went: Martin’s Home Center

Amazingly, the Style is Still in Style: Antigo (with more options!)

Décor Strategy: Know What You Like

The String Thing, 2

So, about the string thing….

There was this woman with a worthy JLo booty, and she changed my life. I know that sounds dramatic, but that one little piece of information made a big impact.

The infomercial shot cut away from the widely demographic group of this-is-for-everybody dancers back to the spokesperson. She offered an explanation followed by a demonstration on how to imagine a string coming from the top of your head.

The idea was to make sure you were holding your head in alignment with your body.  I stood up and tried it, and felt a difference. She also talked about the importance of working stomach muscles, again demonstrating some moves.

I didn’t buy the CD-set. Money was still questionable after closing the store and losing Jeff’s portion of our income. I kept thinking about it, though. Walking with the string thing gave me a different point of view. I tended to look down for sure footing. The string thing kept tugging my head back up.

I tried the string thing on the treadmill, and realized I was nowhere near balanced. It made the walk so much harder, I had to walk slower. Even setting myself back to 30 minutes, I would sweat rivulets. I used some of the dance moves in an awkward self-devised cool down, once I was back on the den floor.

A few steadier months in, I was bored and decided to spice up my life by executing those moves on the moving treadmill. I could do it, and I loved it! I would dance myself up and down the length, in perfect posture while belting out off-tune tunes. For variety , some nights I’d switch on the TV, usually already on the International Music Channel. The timing was such that I most often ran into a portion of the Bollywood hour on IMF. I have no idea how to properly belly-dance.Miss Fred probably thought I looked like a loon, but the dancing I was doing felt good.

Before I moved to Ann Arbor, I routinely treadmill danced 45 minutes to an hour almost every night. The result was 118 pounds lost and confidence in my movements gained.

The move, not being allowed to use my treadmill in a second floor apartment, changing positions at my job, the 5th anniversary of Jeff’s passing, and two surgeries set me back. One was the removal of my gall bladder, the other was repair of a hernia I gave myself on an elliptical.

I felt I wasn’t getting enough of a core workout, so I tried pedaling in a downhill skier stance. If I hadn’t had the first surgery, it might have been ok, but the weakened stomach muscles gave.

I never recovered my intense treadmill habit. I’d swim in the summer, walk outside in nice weather. I’d struggle to get the workout room, and then give up when it got too cold or snowy or icy or I just didn’t feel like it.

I’ve been battling the same 25 pound regain for 5 years, now. That’s 25 pounds more I have to lose to reach my BMI goal, totaling a 40 pound goal. January 2nd, 2017 I recommitted.  All fired up with an eclectic and eccentric playlist, I’m working my way back to treadmill dancing and more of the story of us.

Quote for the Week:2017-02-07-never-under-estimate-the-power-of-a-good-workout-mix-jakorte

Playlisting:

Pandora

Slacker

Fitness Magazine 100 Best Workout Songs

Another 30 seconds

The treadmill followed us to Adrian, where it sat in the den gathering dust.

Until late 2005, when it became clear Jeff would never be able to return to work. I think up until this time, he thought he’d be able to beat it.

Despite medications and injections, his blood sugar averaged 350. What we hoped was temporary neuropathy, turned into a permanent nightmare. Unhealable ulcers covered his legs, which were in danger. Poor circulation and deep wounds prompted one doctor to speculate on the future, citing potential, eventual amputation.

Jeff wasn’t depressed. I was terrified. Carrying 298.7 pounds on a 5’3” frame, I realized I was in no shape to help if it came to that. I wasn’t concentrating on taking baby steps. I didn’t have to. My body determined my pace.

It seems incredible to me now that one full minute was as far as I got the first day. Within two weeks though, I had achieved a regular, comfortable 3-minutes. I mean comfortable as in not gasping for breath, seeing little black spots or needing to chug a glass of orange juice to counteract my blood sugar drops from the exertion.

I’d been to my yearly physical, which I tried to avoid by only going every two or three years. I was declared obese, of course, and pre-diabetic which believe it or not was a shock to me. Wearing a size 28 should have been a clue, but that’s not how I saw myself, mostly because that’s not how Jeff saw me, either.

We developed an evening routine. I would come home from work, change my clothes and treadmill for 3 minutes. By the time I’d finished my shower, picked out my work clothes for the next day, Jeff would have dinner ready.

One evening, Jeff stuck his head through the kitchen pass-through.  “How many minutes do you have left?” he asked.

“I only have 30 seconds,” I answered.

“Well,” Jeff said, “dinner’s not ready, yet. You can do an extra 30 seconds.”

I might have still had my crabby pants on from work, but I took umbrage. There I was sweating my brains out, seeing the light at the end of the torturous treadmill tunnel and he thinks I’ve got it in me to go another 30 seconds?

But, what I said, was, “Oh, really? Another 30 seconds? You get over here and do 30 seconds if you think it’s so easy!”

Of course, there were a few things wrong with my response. Jeff hadn’t actually implied I was slacking. He hadn’t said he thought it’d be easy. And it was a ridiculously inappropriate suggestion since his feet were continuously painful and he had a great deal of trouble walking.

But, Jeff just laughed. He found it endlessly amusing when I became flustered or got feisty. He wasn’t at all offended . And because that distinctive laugh was unavoidably contagious, I ended up laughing, too.

As Jeff wiped his doubled-over, guffawing tears from his eyes, I glanced down at LED readout.

“4 minutes!” I shouted in astonishment. “See?” Jeff said. “I knew you could do it.”

 

Quote for the Week:

2017-01-24-support-isnt-about-the-goal-jakorte

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Interval Training for Beginners: Go All Out for 20 Seconds

4 Signs it’s Time:  To Change Your Routine

The Importance of:  Fitness Buddies

jdrf-2015

No Chickens on New Years

An update and a correction:

  1. Regarding the politic of cows, I have been informed by a very reliable party, that I am guilty of glamorously rephrasing. Jeff’s true 1988 election sentiment was, “No matter who is the President tomorrow, I still gotta pull tits in the morning.
  2. Christmas was at Jeff’s brother’s the year Sally died. Nannee came for a while, but asked to be taken home because she was feeling sick.

Neither of these is an earth shattering revelation. The first makes me laugh, and the second one leads to another story.

But let’s talk about New Year’s. This was the year I learned that we’d never have chicken at Nannee’s on New Year’s Eve. That would be a bad omen. Chickens, she believed, would peck away at your money and bring poverty to your door.

Despite that, Jeff bought me a crowing cookie jar. Made of plastic, it looked a little like Foghorn Leghorn but different enough that there’d probably be no copyright infringement.

Tilting the hinged head to get inside would make it squawk-a- doodle do. I remember thinking that would be a good diet enforcing, snack-deterring tool. And I’m sure it would have been, if that had been where we kept the cookies.

Instead, it sat atop our fridge in our chicken-décor kitchen, not in our everyday line of vision. Once in a while, Jeff or I would re-notice it perched up there, and mischievously crank that chicken’s neck back just to hear it crow. It was such a random thing to do, and, to be honest, we both enjoyed the laughter that cackle encouraged.

Anyway, back to New Year’s. The resolutions are flying and folks everywhere are crowing about goals. I get that. I make a point to give voice to mine or text it to someone because the possibility of being asked “did you treadmill today?” makes me that much more likely to actually follow through.

So, Resolutions.  All the fail safes, plotted reminders, and spiritual encouragements don’t mean much if they’ve fallen into background noise. You have to remember to see them, pay attention to them.  It’s not good enough to fill up space with them; fill your heart and mind and soul.

I don’t have that jar anymore, but I think if I did, I’d keep it on the kitchen counter closest to the basement stairs. I’d joyously tip the cockscomb-ed head back each time I emerged from treadmill land.

Instead, I’ve push-pinned my Wounded Warrior Project calendar to the very past its prime inherited thin wood paneling that wraps the treadmill room. I’ve added an old green felt-tip to mark my efforts, but that all doesn’t seem “shiny” enough.

Yeah, I’ll use it, but I’ve eyeing that blue storage tote just a few feet away from my Sole. I’m gonna pull out one of those Christmas jingle-bells I put away last week and relocate it to one of the three built-in spaces designed to hold stuff like water bottle and hand weights.

That way it’ll be handy for vigorous shaking – signaling the end of exercise mode for the day.

I could possibly retrain my own Pavlovian response to jingle bells signaling the season of non-stop holiday eating. With enough repetitive reinforcement, I could end up feeling compelled to leap from my seat and take a few laps around an extended-as-far-as-it-will-go family table.

I could probably get a grant for that… just sayin’.

#imakemyselflaugh.

Quote for the Week:

2017-01-10-2-imakemyselflaugh-jakorte

 

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

How to:   #

How do:  Bells Jingle

How you:  Resolve