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Mar 27, 2015

Traveling in Style

I had deep-fried salt with gravy on it for dinner tonight and now I'm drinking wine out of a brown paper bag. Don't let it be said that we don't travel in style. You have to love southern cooking.

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Mar 26, 2015

View from a Chairs with Wheels

See I really am very proud. When I fell two weeks ago I went into denial. I returned a cane that was lent to me within two days and absolutely refused to even consider buying another. I put on such a good suffering act for everyone and did not take ANYONE'S advice. I was just fine I kept telling them.

Then one day I limped into Target and noticed those red handicapped shopping cart. It had been over a week of pain and no one was looking that day. I qualified for one of those I told myself and I sat down.

Still, I was not sure if I was ready to do the cart thing so it didn't happen without a fight..."the cart will not go" I said sounding like a spoiled child. I stood up wincing as I put weight on that wounded knee. I was such a good sufferer. My husband reached over and unplugged the cart giving me that look because then it ran just fine.

As I drove off toward the curtains I had set out to buy, I realized what a wonderful thing those red carts are. They can turn on a dime and have a big basket so I can buy lots of stuff. And the view...really there is a whole other world visible when you are sitting down. The only problem I had was avoiding running over children when I turned a corner. My husband walked ahead to make sure it was all clear.

HUMMMM I thought, I may just be onto something.

And did you know that, when you are wounded, people are really nice to you? Seriously, they open doors, let you get in line early and generally are concerned about how you are doing. Who knew? I am surprised that people don't take advantage of this situation! Maybe they do.

I am much better now. Wonder of wonders, I bought a cane and some support hose yesterday! They are both great and I am a very lucky woman today. We leave for a month long trip that will take us to Florence, Italy and then to Dubai. Wish me luck...but I don't really think I'll need it.

Stay tuned for the further adventures of b+. Hopefully, I won't need any chairs with wheels but if I do, I will do it with grace and style. After all that is what I am all about...that and cussing!

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Note: I would like to add a disclaimer here...while being in that much pain was not good I think this experience has given me a different feeling about coming to the place when I might need some help later permanently. I think it will only be what I make of it. I realize now how hard it is for older people to give into their disabilities. I am sure that, like me, they think they will be "just fine".

I also drew hope from seeing what others have accomplished with rehab. It kept me going when I began to think that I may be unable to function later.

Mar 22, 2015

How to Replace the Past with the Present...a Vietnam Veteran's Story

Image from Amazon
Book available here: Return to Viet Nam:
One Veteran's Journey of Healing
.
Yesterday I finished reading Return to Viet Nam: One Veteran's Journey of Healing written by Linda Myers and her husband Art Myers. Art is a Vietnam War Vet and served in the USMC.

The story of Art's battlefield in Vietnam took my breath away. His account guided me step by step through the one day of battle he experienced during the 1968 Tet Offensive was that compelling.

 As a result of that one day, he suffered from PTSD at what the US government finally recognized as the 60% level. His disability lead to alcoholism, divorce and 35 years of nightmares and anxiety. His is a story that could be told a thousand times over by other veterans like himself from all those wars past. 

The books takes the reader on a day by day journey through the countryside, into the hills and across the Mekong Delta. You will visit the homes and learn about traditions, the Viet Cong and the spiritual experiences encountered.

Finding a way to meet the challenges of this journey was not easy for Art. But he knew that meetings with vet support groups, counseling and Linda, his second wife, working for his recovery was not enough. In the end, Art decided with the encouragement of Linda to return to Vietnam and revisit his past, hopefully for a final time. The goal was to in some way replace the past with the present.

Jan on the right followed us for
3 days. It seemed she just wanted to be
close and speak English with us. She could
not read or write...really.
I don't think that in Art's world we could ever say that the past has gone away but I do think that his courage and wisdom is allowing him to live a life that many of us would envy. His words were so perfect because they told the story of spiritual healing and coming face to face with and forgiving those that were once the enemy...and visa versa.

It may have been his hope that the vets he knew could have that same experience. However, he learned that many other vets cannot find a way to do that. They hold onto their misery forever. He told about the veterans in his support group and their reaction to his journey:
Montagnard Woman 
Art: I thought it it was a good idea to let the vet group know how much better I was feeling and how much less anxiety I had to go through. When I got back I went a couple of times to the group. When I came back from [the]Vietnam [War] the first time, I was rejected by most people for having served. And it felt the same way going back to the vet group. Some of them - the ones who were still living in the past - didn't seem to want to move on. Some were supportive and glad that I did it, but they didn't want to go themselves.
Dwelling totally open
even though the temp lingers at
around 45 degrees f.
My husband and I visited Vietnam several years ago and saw the new Vietnam alive and well. The people were interested in us but not resentful. Hanoi remains a communist driven city but the rhythm of life is very much as it has always been I think.

On the other side of the coin, loud speakers that woke us at an early hour with instructions in Vietnamese for the local citizen's day reminded us that Communism is alive and well.

We stood with the Montagnard People that spoke perfect English. We visited a place called Sa Pa located in northernmost part of the country. For all appearances their life had not changed since the beginning of time. However a large parade square and the obligatory loudspeakers on electric post told of those war years. Even the French villas that dotted the hillsides were a reminder of a history put to rest. Art's story was one I could see in my mind's eye.

Art came to know that his story could have been told by a Vietnam veteran as easily as by himself. I may be wrong but I also think that the thing he struggled the hardest with was not what he did but how our country and his commanders appeared to have failed our soldiers. His experience could have been typical on the battle field. Friendly fire, a few men left to do a very big job and no recognition for the horror they endured. He knew that it was not what he would have ever chosen...not at all. It has been very hard to let go of.

So, if your are interested in a history lesson on the Vietnam War told by a Marine that lived the story, I recommend you read this little book. It is very well written. You will not regret it.

Thank you to Art and Linda Myer for the donations of these books they have made to various veterans groups. I know it has helped. Linda is a friend of mine. As for Art, after reading this book I will see him in a whole new light...one filled with respect and awe! I am very proud to know him.

Be well.

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Mar 19, 2015

When the Remodeling Exercise Plan BACKFIRES!



OK, here it is...the room is very nearly completed. A few details will have to wait until next fall but it is looking beautiful! My husband is a dear man that makes my dreams come true. I love that guy.

Remember I told you that I was working along side him working long hours and feeling great. I am stronger than ever and, of course, very proud of what we have accomplished. The door leading out of the back of the room to a patio was the last thing to be done so we are glad that is finished. Unfortunately, that was when I stumbled over building debris and whacked my knee...s. Now after a week of healing, the bruise is moving down my leg and I am sitting up in bed giving my k-nee some rest. 

So what does one do when you are a week away from a months vacation in Europe and the Dubai? You tell me! I do know that after I fell I said sh*t, sh*t, sh*t all day. Since then I have just powered through. Staying off the leg has not been possible for most of the time but now I don't think I have a choice. The same man that built this beautiful room has said he will wait on me for a while. All I can do is say thank you and hope against hope that I actually get so see the inside of the cathedrals and museums. If not I will make do.

Our grandson just finished his Bachelors of Engineering program as Oregon State and is traveling with us. Our son from Dubai will be with us all the time. My husband has worked so hard and researched this trip from top to bottom. My main job is to just stay out of the way and watch them revel in this experience. Wish me luck!

The cussing is over and I have a new appreciation for the courage of Wounded Warriors and broken people everywhere. I will keep you in the loop and post about the vacation as often as possible. Stay tuned...things are never boring around here! 

Have a wonderful day.

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Mar 18, 2015

What Michael Graves Understood About My World

Michael Graves passed away this last week. I didn't know Graves personally...well I did hear a little tidbit of gossip about him 20 years ago but I don't suppose that counts. Yet that man is a hero of mine in a way. This postmodernist architect understood that the elderly and handicapped may be limited in their movement but they are not limited in their appreciation of all things beautiful. I always thought he knew that even the most mundane object could use a little humor and glitz. I liked that a lot.

A Graves coffee pot on display in 2010 at the exhibition
Tea & Coffee Piazza 1983 for the Grassi Museum of Applied Arts
in Leipzig , Germany  Photograph: Eckehard Schulz/AP

Michael Graves Design™ Spinner Whistle Teakettle

Amazon Link

See Graves was afflicted with an infection several years ago that left him wheelchair bound. His world became all about getting into the shower or moving from room to room. Instead of curling up into a ball and dying he set about making that new world he lived in beautiful as well as functional. In an article written for the Wear Design Bureau he talked about his Wounded Warrior project and how his life goals changed after his paralysis:
In the months following that fated February night, there was much that propelled Graves through his recovery, including his resolve not to die in the hospital because it was “so ugly.”  Having progressed through eight hospitals and four rehabilitation centers, the architect was all too familiar with the design failings of our healthcare system. On his first day in a wheelchair, Graves was given the challenge to dress and shave himself. “That was extraordinary for me,” he says. “I couldn’t turn on the water, I couldn’t plug in the razor, I couldn’t look in the mirror. And this is a hospital very well known for therapy. At that point I said to myself, ‘I am going to do something about this. I am a designer, I’m an architect; I’ve got the bully pulpit.’”
One of Graves most notable building projects is located in the city where I live. The Portland Building in the center of Portland stands as a testament to the architects ability to reinvent the way we look at the world around us. I have often thought that the building hinted of Walt Disney and Ayn Rand. It is just so unusually I cannot help but smile when I look at it. Long time Portlanders are still getting used to it's appearance.
The world of architecture did sit up and take notice when it was built back in 1983 when it was awarded an American Institue of Architects honor award.

But for me Graves was so much more. He somehow knew that we all need beauty no matter where we are. An elderly person should not be subjected to "ugly" in their home and certainly not in a hospital or care facility. Humor, color, unique design go a long way in helping the healing process.



I have always thought I would recognized the Graves design no matter where I saw it. I loved the Target tea kettles and I think this wheelchair is nothing short of amazing. It was one of his first designs following his illness.  Michael was 80. The man will be greatly missed. 

Just a thought.

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