Almost September

Was it just a week ago that I was complaining about how hot it is? It’s still hot, but my brain has caught up with my body and reminded me that summer is oh so fleeting. The mornings are getting cooler – I wore a cardigan yesterday and was not overly warm. The afternoons are still in the 80’s but they are breezy, as if the warm air is scurrying around and packing up, ready to move south to make room for the chilly dryness that is winter on Delmarva. Part of me is already mourning sandals and flowing skirts, sundresses and tank tops. Another part of me is eager for afternoons in front of the fire, hand-knit hats and scarves, the smell of autumn that poofs up when I walk on crunchy leaves.

Now that I am in no way involved in back to school, well beyond avoiding stores like Kohl’s from mid-August till early September, I am looking forward to this wonderful transition month. There’s something fascinating to me about wearing a warm sweater in the morning and running around in short sleeves in the afternoon. September exists, I think, to remind us that change is not really a bad thing.

This September is shaping up to be bigger than many (any?) that have come before. It starts with my oldest step-daughter’s wedding and ends with my first ever Century bike ride. I don’t know yet what will happen in between but I am ready for whatever change September chooses to bring.


 

Have I mentioned the problems I’ve been having with my eyes? Oh, I remember now. There was that rant about The Man, in the guise of the insurance company, sticking it to me. Well, it turns out that the new glasses are so amazing that it just might have been worth it, the whole getting it stuck to me or however that works. The frames are the best compromise I’ve ever worn between my desire to be flashy (Wayne used a great word to describe me that we can’t pull out of our heads right now, flashy is a poor substitute but it’s the best I can do) and my abnormally small nose. My nose loves those little nose pad things that you get on wire framed glasses, but my showiness longs for fat, plastic frames. The new frames are a gorgeous dark red color, not quite maroon, with red tortoise shell arms, that sit in the right place on my nose.

And then the lenses – WOW. They are the size of a normally nearsighted person, and believe me my nearsightedness didn’t improve that much. I am pretty sure they aren’t any sort of plastic, rather they are hardened unicorn tears, or maybe fairy sweat – magical. They’re light and wonderfully clear and so thin. Is it possible to fall madly in love with a pair of lenses? If you’re me, yes it is.

But the very best part is I CAN SEE. Yes, I know, it’s amazing and awesome and wonderful. I don’t have to strain. My eyes don’t feel like they’re bulging out of my head when I switch from looking at a monitor to something over there (you can see where I’m pointing, right?). The joy that comes from seeing clearly when you haven’t been is something I don’t have the words to explain, and it’s been an awfully long time since I’ve felt it. Suddenly things are clear again. The world has detail again. Black letters on a white page are little soldiers standing at attention rather than fussy, wobbly toddlers who are still getting their legs under them. Roofs have shingles, trees have leaves (or pine needles, of course). Gravel is made up of little, distinct pieces. The very best part is switching from close to far vision. It’s effortless, perfect, no strain at all.

I am considering sending flowers to the eye doctor.

 


I am planning, and expecting, a wonderful weekend. I have to do some work, but I don’t have to wear a bra to do it so it’s not so bad. I am going to be creative. I’m going to move and sweat. I’m going to see my parents and get Mom and Dad hugs (and hopefully a hug from my baby brother, he has the best hugs in the world). I’m going to do some cleaning, scratch Noel’s ears, talk to Wayne. I’ll write some, read a lot, walk fabric under the presser foot, go gaga over how gorgeous this man who chose to marry me is in a suit. I’m going to call my children and remind them that their Mom loves them. And maybe, if I am feeling particularly daring and chichi, I’ll get a pedicure. I am suffering from a deep and pronounced longing for dark orange toenails to hurry the next season along.

Change is good.


 

My special eyes versus my frugal husband

People, I am pretty sure poor Wayne had about thirty-seven tiny heart attacks yesterday.

With my infrequent blogging, I am sure you remember the post where I discussed the freaky stuff happening with my vision. Well, it started happening more often, and one day I actually caught myself driving when my vision was blurry and my eyes refused to focus. In the manner that such things normally happen, I was driving to a doctor’s appointment. I asked her about it, thinking it might be a reaction to my medication. I was told to go to the eye doctor.

I called the good eye doctor (not the guy behind the glasses place in the mall) and they had a cancellation in two days, so I snatched it up. And then…

There are a few things that I might need to clear up before I go forward. My eyes are really bad. I was told by one optometrist that I am the “second most near-sighted person” she had ever met, and I was really close to first. I have astigmatisms in both eyes, and I recently developed a need for bifocals. What’s funny is that I needed bifocals as a kid but outgrew them, and spent a good twenty years without them. There was a time when I could not go over a year without new glasses because my eyes were getting worse so quickly. I learned how eye charts work when I was in high school (that’s a story for another day). I know what it’s like when my prescription changes, in other words. I am very aware of what’s going on with my eyes because they are so crappy… I mean special.

Now Wayne is blessed with excellent vision, better than 20/20. He’s had one eye exam in his life. Most of his daughters are nearsighted, but in the way of normal people. They can do things without their glasses, even driving. The only thing I can do without my glasses is call Wayne to help me find my glasses, because without them my world is some sort of weird modern art-like place of two-dimensional, blurry blobs of colors that bleed into each other.

So I am sure that you can imagine my “pshaw” when the eye doctor told me it was probably that my prescription needed to be changed. I offered my best arguments: my eyes haven’t gotten worse in years (barring the bifocal thing of course), I would certainly know if it was that because I’ve dealt with this nonsense for most of my life. Yeah. She was right. And I was fooled because I am now less near-sighted! Yay for my forties! I am less tall and less near-sighted! Now if I could only figure out how to be less tired, less in love with cotton candy, less a fan of high-calorie beers…. I could go on forever.

I decided that with the prescription change and all of the problems I’ve been having, I needed to order my glasses at the eye doctor’s little optical store. I called Wayne and told him I couldn’t drive myself home and I wanted to get glasses there. He said he would help me pick frames when he came to pick me up and take me home on his lunch break. And then, I tried to kill him.

I have to have the thinnest, most light-weight plastic they make lenses out of. Back when they only had glass and normal plastic lenses, the sides of my lenses were more then half an inch thick and they were so heavy that they bruised my nose (yes, even plastic lenses). It’s not vanity, it’s need. I have to have bifocals. Add those together and you come up with the most expensive lenses in the universe. Because they are so expensive, I need to pay a little extra for scratch and smudge-proof coatings. And I really need anti-glare, because one of my problems (and the reason I can’t do anything after getting my eyes dilated at the eye doctor) is that my eyes react slowly to changes in light levels. Glare is a demon to me. I was once told that if I had lived before plastic lenses were invented, I would be legally blind. That’s how special my eyes are.

I am crippled, dysfunctional without glasses.They are a necessity.

Add all of this up and you come up with thousand dollar glasses that I cannot live without. Insurance covers $120 on one pair of glasses a year. That’s barely a dent in the cost of my glasses. And I totally forgot to warn Wayne. I could order them online for a little less, but with these changes and the eye doctor not being 100% sure that she’d gotten everything right because I was already dilated when she checked, I needed to do it locally, and in a place where I would have real and fast assistance if I needed it. I forgot to warn poor Wayne, and the price tag punched him in the gut with a giant fist.

Later, he told me that he finds the whole thing wrong. I need them. If I needed a walker, would insurance make me pay almost $900 to get one? How about a cast? Or surgery? He sees my glasses in the same light, and the more I need them, the more they cost. The system is broken.

I think it would be excellent (and the right thing to do) for insurance to cover the full cost of my lenses and I pay for the frames. That way if I want to be vain and shi-shi, it’s on me. But the part that I have to have just to make it to the bathroom without giant bruises? That part should be covered.

Me, and my special eyes

After a week or two spent staring at glowing rectangles, my eyes like to just sort of give up, and force me into an out of focus day. So far, thankfully, this has happened only on weekends, but these “episodes” are coming more frequently so it’s a safe bet they will happen on a day I need to drive to work, sooner of later. It’s scary, and Wayne thinks it may be scarier for me than it would be for “normal” people (not sure why I put that in quotes, considering I am quite in tune with my abnormality). The eye doctor said it’s just a lovely side effect of aging (I added the lovely in there, he’s not real fond of adjectives in general). And so…

Yesterday, I lost most of the day. When I got up in the morning, my eyes were focusing slowly and painfully. The struggle to force them to make sense of what was around me, to squirrel through the blurry fog, made them ache, and the ache transferred to my head. I am on call so I had to look at the computer to do on call checks. To see the screen, to focus on it, I had to take my glasses off and lean in really closely. The strain made them water and burn. Wayne noticed and sent me to bed.

I laid in the darkened bedroom with my glasses off and let my brain do its worst. When I was a kid and my eyesight first started heading south, it wasn’t particularly scary. I think it was just a thing until an eye doctor told me that if they hadn’t invented some particular sort of lens, I would be legally blind. I think I was in fifth or sixth grade at the time. His words have never faded; I can still hear them in his voice, I can still picture his office and feel his oddly moist breath on my cheek as he did his eye-doctor-y stuff. His words led me to practice blindness. I would take off my glasses, blindfold myself, and try to make my way around the house. I’d try to do things like get a glass of water and find the bathroom. It was a pretty morbid game, if you think about it.

It is also a fear that stayed with me.

On the days that my eyes choose to not work right, that fear comes back. Wayne knows about it and understands. He takes care of me, perhaps too well. He won’t let me drive and he urges me away from the computer. He keeps the bedroom dark, visits me, brings me coffee or tea. If it lasts longer than a few hours and I start getting scared, he talks me down and lets me cry. We discuss how long ago it happened before, we talk about what we will do if it happens on a weekday (which, sooner or later, it will). And he lets me rest.

Sometimes, it clears up in an hour. Sometimes, it takes most of the day. Yesterday was the second type. I didn’t feel steady until well into the afternoon. I missed my brand-new step-daughter’s bridal shower because of it. I was going to try to do it, and Wayne had offered to drive me, but the idea of being in a strange place, with people I did not know, and eyes that weren’t working scared me. My mind reading husband got that and called his mom to tell her I couldn’t go, and then had one of the girls take my contribution with her. And I rested.

They are fine this morning, thankfully. Not perfect, because they are my eyes, but I don’t expect perfection. I can focus without straining. I can look from one thing to another without trails of light or foggy auras that I can only make sense of because I am in my kitchen and know everything in here. The headache is almost gone and the fear that this time it won’t stop has calmed, because it’s obviously stopped. I will be able to write, to do my on-call checks, to go grocery shopping. And of course, I will be able to spend some more time asking Google for a cure that probably doesn’t exist. I wonder if it is finally time for Lasik?

Checking it twice

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans” (John Lennon).

I am a lover of the list. The to-do list, the shopping list, the what I want to knit list, the Christmas card address list…. I surround myself with, and take comfort from, lists. I can, and do, function without them, but my head is full of big things and small things get left by the wayside if they don’t get written down.

One thing I don’t write down, or spend a lot time contemplating, is any sort of “five year plan.” The idea is preposterous to me. Can anyone really plan that far out? The only truly predictable thing about life is its sheer lack of predictability and its tendency towards chaos. Where do I want to be in five years? Happy. I think that is enough of an answer for me.

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable” (Dwight D. Eisenhower).

My plan for today was elastic, yet structured. There are things I want to accomplish on my Monday off. There are errands: I need to pick up several small but lovely and gift-wrappable items, I’d like to bless the local vegetable stand with my largesse, and some gift certificates need to be purchased. There is housework: the bathrooms both need a little love, the broom is lonely, the cobwebs are starting to look like modern art. And always, there is exercise.

Moving was really the only structure I was hoping to have today, and I had it planned by the clock. Get up at 4, like I have to the rest of the week. Do the 4 mile workout video. Shower, dress in some sort of cute bike riding appropriate clothing. Ride to the orthodontist. Ride home. Take the grandbaby to the zoo later and walk around the whole thing, plus go to the park and swing. A day of movement, with occasional other stuff thrown in.

I had a good, reasonable, do-able plan and it felt wonderful.

“If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans” (Woody Allen).

I’m sure you can guess where this is going. I am not a master of mystery at all, am I?

I woke up to the sound of Wayne brushing his teeth, which meant it was no earlier than 6:15. I laid in bed for a minute, maybe two, trying to make my sleep-addled brain adjust to this changed schedule. And then I remembered that I had to get the bike lock off of his bike before he left so I jumped up and got dressed in the clothes that were laid out for my workout. You may be certain they are not “cute.”

There was a flurry of activity, a cliche that really does suit, and then he was gone, pedaling towards work and I had not enough time for a workout and the nearly overwhelming urge to write. Anything. Something. Everything.

I braided my hair first because I know me. I know I can be expected to not lift my fingers from the keys until I have only five seconds to leave or I will be late. Sometimes I don’t even save myself the five seconds. I made a smoothie and added peanut butter because the extra calories will be good on a ride. I brewed a little coffee and fixed myself a cup (black, with ice). And I sat down before my laptop and realized I had no plan at all about what to write.

And now? It is a minute later than the time I should have been walking out of the door.

See why I need lists?

Sweet summertime

One of the many things I love to do is playing a game where I try to come up with a title for something random. This morning could be titled “Down Twenty-five” because that’s what the scale told me (happy Friday, Karen!). This is one of the things that cause me to wander around inside of my head and wile away time that would be better spent on reading or working, but it’s fun. All work and no wandering lost inside of her own head makes Karen a dull girl.

Even though it’s not over yet and something big could still happen to throw everything out of whack, title-wise, I am playing around with a descriptive name for this summer. Some options:

  • The Summer of New Names: I married Wayne and took his name, and his eldest daughter is marrying an awesome guy and, I think, taking his name.
  • Walk A Million Miles: Maybe not a million, but certainly enough to walk a hole through the sole of my shoes. Perhaps a subtitle: Buy New Shoes.
  • Whole New Wardrobe Season, because twenty-five pounds is a lot to lose and my clothes are too big. Many of them, anyway. I am not complaining!

I think, though, at least for this morning, the choice is simply Sweet Summer. It encapsulates so much of our lives right now. From the joy of being newlyweds to the visit to Hershey, it fits.

We have a bunny who got accidentally trapped in the back yard. We’ve named him “Honey” because, while I like titling days and seasons and meals, I am the queen of boring when it comes to naming living, furry creatures. Honey Bunny is an endless source of amusement. He hangs out under Wayne’s ramp and comes out to nosh on wild strawberries and the just-born bell peppers in the garden. He loves (note – sarcasm) playing with Noel, our cat. From his name to his favorite foods, everything about him qualifies as “sweet.”

And then there’s the overabundance of cherry tomatoes. They are little spheres of juicy sweetness and I love them, but I am picking them at a much faster rate than we can consume them. Yesterday I picked twenty-three, as an example. There are two bowls full of them in the fridge right now that will become something this weekend. Perhaps I will roast them with some fresh garlic, olive oil, and kosher salt. I could make some salsa – chop them coarsely and mix in some diced peppers (bell peppers from the store, thanks to Honey, and Serrano peppers from the garden) and red onion. I’ll mix it into my salads and scrambled eggs. Doesn’t that sound yummy?

Of course, the sweetest thing about this summer, for me anyway, is us. We are so wonderfully happy that we would give you a mental toothache from the sweetness. Yes, even after living together for a couple years. Being newlyweds is an amazing thing. Not that we needed this, but it’s like a spark of newness that sort of ups the highs even higher. I look at him doing some random thing like changing brakes on a car and see his wedding band sparkling and my heart goes “SQUEE! that’s my husband!” Without him putting it into words, I know that it happens to him, too; I can see it in the way he looks at me, feel it when he hugs me.

There’s a reason why there are so many songs about summer, and I am living it this year. The sand under my toes at Ocean City is warmer. My legs are powerful when I pump the pedals on my bike. Food tastes better because I am seeking out new flavors, a necessity when one is trying to train themselves to eat less. I feel good, from my center out, and I am surrounded by sweetness and sunshine. Indeed.