the insubstantial

It is what holds the pieces of your life together.

Getting the Hurt Leg Fixed, Chapter 10

On June 7, we visited the surgeon. It was time for a checkup on my husband’s left knee.

To remind you, this story started on Christmas, 2016, when he fell down the stairs and completely severed his left quadriceps tendon. This serious injury cannot heal by itself and required surgery, done on January 6, 2017. He went home in a brace, unable to bend his leg for weeks or even touch it to the floor. He required assistance with every detail of living, and so I was fully occupied for months. Remember this scene from Chapter One – in the hospital awaiting surgery?

 

January 6, 2017.

 

As he healed, things got easier – first he could touch his foot to the floor, put weight on it, bend his leg in the brace, walk without crutches, and finally say goodbye to the brace itself. He has faithfully attended physical therapy and regained full flexibility in the knee.

Other changes have come about. This experience forced us to think about how we manage daily life, and some changes were made. For one thing, my husband moved his office to a suburban location for a variety of reasons, one being that it made his schedule easier for PT, but also added to our quality of life by making work more accessible and convenient. He also was able to work from home during his recovery and found that it could be done with good results. These changes are permanent and I like the new schedule – we have more time together. That means a lot to me.

We also were reminded how much we value being able to run, to hike, to take walks, to exercise. The recovery process for his knee will take about a year. Though it has healed now, it is weakened, as is the right leg, and it will take another six months or so for that strength to come back, as much as it will. Still, my husband last week ran about 100 yards on the track at the high school – a milestone. We do not know the final outcome, but we do know that with this doctor visit, we are ending one phase and beginning the next one.

But I’ve gotten ahead of the story. The doctor was pleased with the knee’s status. He said, “I could torture you with asking for another visit in three months, but I don’t think you need it.” We were very happy to agree and left the medical office building for the last time. I had a bit of superstitious worry about making such a statement, but I have decided to be firm with the fates and let them know we’ll do our part if they will do theirs!

So, take a look, as we wave goodbye. And end the story of the hurt leg here, with our characters driving off in the car toward home.

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in the back room,

Listen. The ATC oracle is speaking.

 

 

in the back room

in the back room,

nothing is allowed

The oracle speaks. Was it speaking to you?

nothing is allowed

nothing is allowed

because I believed you

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because I believed you

 I present these oracle-like artist trading cards for your review and possible edification! You remember such items from the past, maybe – here they are again.

I make these cards and then I give them a phrase cut from printed matter, chosen at random but maybe not. See if you get any kind of push or insight or set off on any train of thought from looking and reading these, even if it’s just to say, “Whaaat?!”

Carwash Sign

This carwash is located next to the Pennypack Trail’s parking lot at Welsh and Terwood Roads. It’s closed today since they work on the weekends. The business does hand washing and detailing for cars. On a normal day you would see cars in various stages of being cleaned and lots of employees at work.

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Usually the sign out by the road says something like “A clean car is a happy car”. Right now, though, this is what it says.

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I could go on, but I don’t need to. The sign tells us the narrative the people at this business want us to know and to follow.

I Am a Genius

Yes, I am. And here’s why.

My husband needed some official sleepwear, to stop him from wearing his “regular” T-shirts. He’s not a pajama top guy although he likes the flannel pants and shorts I bought him some time back.

I am of the belief that there are purposes, or life events, or activities, and that there are clothes for each one of them. That thought fits my need for order in the world. After all, you wear a swim suit to swim, and so on. This line of thought reminds me of a skating skirt outfit my mother made me, in about 1968, to wear to a roller skating party. The skirt was blue on the outside with red gingham checked fabric on the underside, with matching shorts and top. When you twirled around the skirt would flare out and show the fancier fabric. I felt just right, though my skating skills really didn’t permit me to do any twirling. More like falling. But I was dressed for the occasion, that’s what made it all work.

So a person needs sleep T-shirts. I decided to upgrade my husband’s wardrobe and correct this deficiency, unaware of it as he was. I bought 5 black T-shirts.

Then, to stop him from wearing them as regular T-shirts, I stenciled them. Now things are as they should be, and the sleeping world is back in balance. Even better, my husband likes the shirts!

Off the Beaten Path

When we were in Reading, PA, a few weeks ago to visit the Goggleworks Center for the Arts, I noticed a small green building set in a tiny cemetery, right up beside the highway, as we were speeding along toward home. We’d never noticed it before, and we said – we have to try to take a look at that next time we’re here.

So, that next time was yesterday – we were visiting Goggleworks again, for their annual art festival. On the way home, we zipped off the highway exit and found the spot very easily – just a few yards down the road. We parked the car along the street and walked over – along a portion of the Schuylkill Trail that happens to pass by it.

 

Sure enough, there sat the brick building inside a stone wall along with an assortment of gravestones. Before we worked our way down the white-painted timbers that served as steps down the slight slope, we looked at the marker. Hmmm. Already we could tell this place had a story.

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The gist of it was this: the Fix-Gerber-Bittner families established this cemetery in the early 1800’s. It was much larger than the present plot when it started out. But as time passed, it almost seemed as if this little bit of ground had a bull’s eye on it. Industrial developments all took pieces away from it. Graves were moved, somewhat carelessly, too, it seems. This small place is all that’s left. It’s essentially ownerless, now that the families are defunct.

So we went in for a closer look, down the steep steps.

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We examined the building first. It had nothing to do with the cemetery – according to what I read later, it was built in the 1870’s or so by a friend of one of the families, to store dynamite (because it was outside city limits, where there was apparently a restriction on such a thing).

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I examined the walls of the building – the layers of peeling paint speak to a long time it has been sitting out in all weathers.

It seems incongruous, at the least,  for such a destructive agent as dynamite to take up residence in a place full of the hopes for eternal rest. I reflected on this idea a bit as we walked around the cemetery.

Another factor mitigating against eternal rest is the highway’s neighborly presence. Neighborly in the sense of – a loud intruding kind of neighbor.

We walked around. The cemetery has friends – it is being cared for by the Oddfellows in Shillington, PA.

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The grass is mowed and everything is neat. But the ravages of time are apparent. There are pieces of headstones separated from their graves, and my later reading told me that it’s suspected there are unmarked graves as a result of the carelessness of those who moved graves to accommodate the various canal and highway projects. Weather has also done damage – I have noticed that marble headstones do not stand up to the years as well as granite. Inscriptions fade and melt away.

This monument commemorates several people who served in the War of 1812 and the Civil War. I know this because I checked the dates on the flags – these flag markers specify the conflict served in by each veteran as they are being honored.

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This marker is the footstone to the grave of a very young person.

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We left the cemetery and climbed the small hill, back up to the road. This little place gave me a lot to think about. For one thing, how unimaginable this world of today would have been to the founders of this cemetery, and what sadness they might have felt at seeing their family resting spot, thought to be forever, so vulnerable.

But I hope that they might have also seen that there are still people who care. This cemetery has friends – the Oddfellows, and the Berks County Association for Graveyard Preservation.  The grounds are neat and veterans are honored. There is talk of highway construction that could affect the cemetery, but people are sticking up for it, according to a recent article in the Reading Eagle. That made me feel good. So much has changed in 200 years for this cemetery, but people still think it’s important not to forget those who were here before us.

 

Good-bye and Hello

I tend to want to make friends with all around me, including pretty much every inanimate object in my everyday life. Especially the objects I live with. So when our stove, after 13 years, was no longer able to do the job, I wish there had been a retirement option, where it could have had a nice rest somewhere after all these years of baking and boiling and so on. But that’s not how it works. I need an oven that heats up, and a stove of this age is not worth fixing. The fact that most of it works still doesn’t keep it in service.

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So we bought a new stove. The old one left first. I felt sad, thinking about how much time I had spent with this stove. And I remember when we bought it, brand-new. It was the first stove I had ever chosen and made no compromises about. The glass cooktop, the nice black color, the simple controls (I didn’t want many options) – all just right.

The deliveryman for the new stove was amused as he disconnected the old one. I guess most people don’t show sadness at the departure of an appliance.

The new one came in, showing no shyness. It slid right into the space where the old one had been. Even looks pretty much exactly the same. Well, that’s a good thing.

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I don’t know why I feel a bit upset about this change. Maybe it’s because I still thought of the old stove as brand new, as just having moved in with us a little while ago. I remember my pleasure when I first started cooking on it – it suited me perfectly. I felt I’d done a little something about ordering my world, cooking on this stove. Where did the 13 years go so quickly?

Maybe that’s it.

Well, hello, new stove, I am sure we’ll get along fine and learn each other’s ways very soon. Good-bye, old stove, and thank you.

“And I Really Mean It…”

…said the aliens (?).

Seen on a sidewalk in Glenside, PA, on July 15. Write down that place and date so you’ll have a reference for when you read about the new people in town here!

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