Thursday, July 17, 2014

July 17, 2014

Between the turnoff to Rock Point and the turnoff to Rough Rock.
Today was the first time since I broke my ankle that I got up, took my camera bag and went for a drive.  Not a long drive and not to anyplace I haven't been before, but still, a drive.  I drove from Rough Rock to Lukachukai and back past Rock Point before returning to  Rough Rock.  Didn't get many pictures, too hazy.  But, considering where I was this time last year it was a blessed day.  Believe me.

I converted to Judaism in October of 1969 and, though, only sporadically observant, the teachings are meaningful and valuable to me.  However, on those days when I want to feel close to my Turley roots, I find that if I turn the radio up full blast and play Tom T.  Hall's 'Me and Jesus Got a Good Thing Going', I can, seriously, feel my Grandmother Baker's spirit sitting beside me in the car with her hand on my shoulder.  When I really want to enhance the 'Turley experience', it helps to turn off the air conditioner, roll the windows down and do a slow bake.

Daddy  wanted Grandmother on the road as little as possible, and once I got my license he would send me to drive her anywhere she wanted to go.  Grandmother and her sister, my Aunt Georgia, both lived fairly long lives.  Which is, when you think about it, a minor miracle  because they  were both ridiculous drivers. Grandmother would let my brother, Johnny, and my cousin, Greg, sit in her lap and steer that old Plymouth Hydramatic up the back roads of Turley--Quincy to Sixty Sixth Street North , all the way to her house.  If they begged, she'd go the long way around, up Sixty-third over to Trenton  She was so short she could barely see around them.  Thank God, they never wrecked.

  I still remember the time Aunt Georgia hit our yard gate with her 1950 Dodge, or was it a Plymouth, too? Can't remember,  I was standing on the porch and saw her back  into that gate in such a way that the entire thing  flew up and froze in midair.  It remained  attached to the fence at  forty-five degree angle.  And did not come down.  Right hand up to God , my Aunt Georgia looked at that gate, locked in that position and asked me, WITH A STRAIGHT FACE, if I thought Daddy would notice.  I didn't laugh out loud.  I knew my dad was going to be aggravated when he got a look at that whopper jawed gate.  However, if I had laughed at my aunt, and he had found out about it, the word 'aggravated' would not be the word I'd have picked to describe his attitude towards me.  He could gripe about them , but no child of Russell and Alene Baker would dare to voice any such thing.  There would have been nothing left of me except for the greasy spot where I had been standing.

He didn't have that much regard for my driving ability either.  Not that he didn't have his reasons.  Once,  I had driven home from Oklahoma City for the weekend, and he decided he wanted to keep my fifty-five Ford Fairlane with him to do some work on it.  For my return trip, he let me take a station wagon that he used for a fishing car. About the second day I had it, it stopped running.   I called home and told Mother the car was broken.  As it happened, Daddy had a friend who was going to Oklahoma City on a business trip so Daddy asked him to stop by and take a look at the station wagon.  Dan Scott , the friend, came by OCU just as requested.  He left me a note taped on my dorm door.  'Sally! It'll run better if you put gas in it!'

I can remember more times that my driving antics put gray hairs on my Dad's head, but that's another post.

Friday, July 4, 2014

July 4, 2014

Been thinking about the recent Supreme Court decision a lot lately.  I have come to feel that, merely, voting is not enough. Probably never was, but certainly, as things are now, it isn't.   Once the elections are over and the government has been installed, the elected officials  begin to serve their true constituents...big business, conservative religious groups and wealthy contributors.

So, how do we influence policy, take back our government and force it to be responsive to the will of the majority of the populace?    There are a few ways, but I think the most effective is always through the dollar bill.  If we disagree with the current Supreme Court decision, we can refuse to shop at businesses which choose the benefits they will provide based on their religious beliefs.  When it comes to Hobby Lobby, boycotting them should be relatively easy.  Every town I drive through has, at least, one craft shop that sells knitting, quilting and scrap book supplies and is owned by a local individual who will take the money you give her (or him, don't mean to be sexist) and spend it locally.

 If we feel that the factory farms are selling us tainted foods and contaminating our planet, we can begin to grow our own food from heirloom and non-hybridized seeds.  What we cannot grow, we can purchase at independently owned organic groceries.  Even if all you have is a window sill or a balcony, you can grow salad greens.   If enough of us quit eating out and began packing our lunches, we would impact the fast food industry.   They'd quit serving us food made out of petrolueum products and pesticides.  Not to mention the money we'd save.

When we do eat out, we can eat at small, locally owned cafes and restaurants.  Had I not eaten at a nice little cafe in West Memphis, I would never have known there was such a thing as fried dill pickles.  Think of it, in one snack, it is possible to eat dreadful amounts of both salt AND fat.  Tell me that's not worth doing.

Although we make these resolutions, are we ,as a populace, able to hold to them long enough to make an impact?  Or, do we take our anger, spread it all over social media, and then, return to our lives?

When I was in AmeriCorps, I served  at a half way house where I provided instruction on how to re-enter society and the job market.  I taught a little course that addressed ethics.....what is ethical as opposed to what is legal. My students had lived their lives , for the most part, on the wrong side of the law.  As they  were making an attempt to join society,  too many times, they would voice the opinion that as long as they were staying within the letter of the law, their behavior was acceptable.  I wanted them to understand there was a  distinction.  

One day the conversation turned toward the sixties, the  Civil Rights and Anti-War movements. The Memphis Bus strike came up , and many of them had not realized how long that strike had lasted.  I pointed out to them that the strike had lasted for a little over a year.  During that time, people walked many miles every day.  And, one of my students asked, 'Do you think we could carry that momentum today?'

I had to say then, and I have to say, now....I just don't know.

Men and women have given their lives and health so we can live as we do.  If we don't stand up and do our part, we are letting them down and will, in all probability, continue to have our freedoms eroded.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

April 13, 2014

NOT Church Rock, This formation is
between Tsaile and Window Rock

Thursday was the first time since I came back that, after school, I pulled out of the parking lot, turned the radio up to the point that the doors of the truck shook, and left.  All by myself....well, to be scrupulously honest... I had my walker.  I can get by with just the cane as long as the footing is good, and there is no wind, but 'no wind' isn't likely in this part of the country in April.  I didn't want to wind up  rolling along the desert like a chubby , white ball of cotton.  The phrase 'Tumbling Along With the Tumbling Tumble Weed', in my case, brings to mind more than a great Western song by the Sons of the Pioneers.

Monument Valley 
So, I pulled out to the main road, turned left and headed towards Kayenta.  Since I came back, I've gone into Chinle   many times and have felt pretty safe doing that.  I know that if anything happens, my cell phone works up there, and besides, if I had a problem,  sooner than later, someone who knows me will drive by.  The drive to Kayenta is another thing, though. It's a lot less travelled and even with my local phone, there are dead zones in coverage.  But, it's a very restful drive.  The rocks that are in that direction are just  gorgeous, with the striations of color , dark red to a paler off-white.  As you get closer to Monument Valley, they become even more striking, mystical even.  Just sitting there and looking at them calms me, and I do not know why.

As I got to the T-where you can turn left and go to Kayenta or turn right and head towards Shiprock, I , as always, have to stop and marvel at Church Rock.  No matter how many times I see it, depending on the light, it looks different.  I, most especially,  love it when the sun is setting .  With he rock jutting up against the blue sky,  the clouds behind it,  it never fails to take my breath away.  I pulled off the side of the road and sat, listening to the radio.  Queen was singing.  Queen?  In Kayenta? least it wasn't that vanilla nonsense  that passes for country music today.  Deciding it was too late. by then, to drive up to Shiprock and see if my hairdresser was working, I started the truck, headed towards Kayenta and the Sonic.  An I-40 sized unsweet tea, and I'd head back.

I'm , definitely, not a hundred percent.  For one thing, my weight loss has slowed, and I''m at exactly the point where, at all times before, I have given  up.  I'm struggling because I know that I , this time, I simply cannot. Work environment is , quite simply, gaga.   However, all in all, I'm so much better.  Feeling grateful. Not to feel grateful would be just so wrong.

Monday, March 24, 2014

March 24, 2014

This weekend our extended family lost a member.  My son-in-law lost his brother.  I didn't know Tootsie that well, didn't know him at all, actually.  I met him a total of, maybe, three times.  But, I know this about him:  He was very  much loved, and that, alone, is quite a legacy.

  Also, today is my Dad's birthday.  To be honest, my father wasn't the easiest man to know. Quiet, didn't talk a lot.  Of course, when he did talk, you really needed to listen , because he didn't tend to say things twice.    He was a good family man, as he understood the job.  Not a 'buddy', most definitely not that.   He was a father...he provided us shelter, food , support and love.  He kept a watchful eye on our doings, and if he thought we were going astray, he'd , well, he'd tell Mother to handle it. Except for the time, that is, when he and Mother came home early from a weekend trip and found me cozied up in the back seat of a boyfriend's Pontiac  GTO.  THAT, he handled himself.  He didn't strike me.  He  didn't strike his daughters. However,  I didn't get out of that house for what seemed like years.  Looking back, it was  probably only a couple of  months.

These two occurrences, the passing of Oliver's beloved brother, and the birthday of my beloved Daddy, have caused me to think about re-thinking things.  It is a reminder that we are not promised tomorrow, not promised five minutes from now.

 I don't want to wash family laundry here, but I spent a lot of years with an individual who lived for tomorrow, who sacrificed time with his family for the  job and money that he thought would bring him happiness.  He thought he'd have time, I guess, but that's not the way it turned out.  His time on earth ended before he had a chance to see what terrific adults his children became and before he saw the gorgeous and sweet grandchildren he had. .

So, as the day comes to a close, I am thinking:  If we are not doing what we want to do, why not?  If our work takes us away from our loved ones, then it darned well better be good and valued work.  Otherwise, why do it?   Happy Birthday, Daddy.  Safe passage,Tootsie.  To have been loved as much as you both were, you had to have given  a lot of love.  And, that is, as they say, every thing.

 And, Daddy, I'm sorry about that GTO thing, but Daddy? !  It was red, black interior and four on the floor!  He let me drive it  around Mohawk Park!  Still no slack, huh?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Memories

For the greater part of the year, our dining table was my Mother's office.  To remove one scrap of paper from that table, without Mother's permission, was to just beg for trouble.  But, on Christmas, that would change.

When I was very little, both of my Grandmothers made Christmas dinner. However, by the time I was in upper elementary, Mother had begun to have everyone for dinner at our house. Mother set the most beautiful Christmas table.  Red tablecloth with gold thread decoration.  She would put the big candlesticks in the middle and place the turkey at Daddy's end where he could carve it easily. The table had  been set with the china that Grandmother Britton had painted , and the good silver had been brought out. Into my Great Grandmother's green glass compote, Mother would put the cranberry sauce.

The green glass compote came with  something of a story.  There had been two matching compotes.  One had belonged to my Great Grandmother, MeMaw. Her name was Blanche Malone Capps, and she had been my Grandmother Baker' s mother. The other compote was the exact replica, and had been discovered at a second hand store.  For years they had stood at opposite ends of the table.  One was filled with jellied cranberry sauce, the other held the whole berry type.  Well, it's unclear who was responsible but what is known is that one year, when I was in elementary school, one of them had gotten broken.  The question became :  Which one  had been broken?  The junk store compote, or heaven forbid.....MEMAW'S?  My Grandmother decided , based on nothing more than what she wanted to be true , that her Mother's dish  had survived, and the broken one had been the one which had been rescued from Mr. Neely' s second hand store.My Grandmother was good at that positive thinking stuff. If she,wanted something to be true, it was true.  Simple as that.

Back to the table.  Once she had determined that it  was presentable, Mother would light the candles, summon us to gather and call Daddy to get the camera.  Most of the time. there were two many diners and a card table had to be set up in the living room for  overflow. However, for the picture, we would all assemble in the dining room, prepared to say cheese.  My unmarried Uncle, Dick, and if he was between wives, my Uncle Leland.  My Grandparents, Aunt Georgia, Aunt Susie , Aunt Juanita and Uncle Raymond and anyone else who wanted to come.  After dinner, other loved ones , who had eaten in other places would stop by for dessert

The day would end the same way every year. After the turkey had been stripped to the bone, the potatoes, gravy and stuffing eaten, and there was nothing left of the sweet  potatoes but a few crusts of cooked on marshmallow, Daddy would, once again, reach for the camera. He would proceed to photograph the post dinner scenario. It annoyed Mother, I can hear her say 'Oh, Russell' right now as clearly as if she were standing here next to me. I think he thought it was funny, but I, also, think it was his way of making note that our family had gotten through another year and had arrived at that  time and place together and with the food, shelter and love that too many people lacked.  It was his way of giving a thank you.

I love you all.  Happy Holidays

Sunday, December 22, 2013

December 22, 2013

As moat everyone knows, by now, I am being discharged from rehab on December twenty seventh.  I'm going home for a week, see the Doctor for one final x-a and planning, at this point to return to Arizona on January 5.  My immediate family members are not, at all, happy with me as they are concerned.  Even the brother who, when I have, in the past, asked his advice has always replied, "Why are you asking me?  You'll do what you want, anyway"  Yes, even that brother is worried. Or would it be more appropriate for me to say that he is vocal with his concerns this time.  Truth be told, I think all of my siblings worry about me. As I do them, of course.

I have decided to address their concerns in hopes of alleviating their fears, and to be totally truthful, allay some of my own concerns in the process

Why am I going back?  After all, I'm sixty five, and I could retire.  The  short answer is that I want to go back.  Everyone thinks it's because of the money I'd make if I work another few years, and yes, that's a consideration.  But, it's not the only reason.  In the months that I have been in this facility , I have looked into people's faces, and I have gained a little insight into the aging process.  I've learned that, at some point, in each person's life, he or she makes a decision to disengage from this world and begins  to make the  exit.  There doesn't seem to be a particular age or physical condition a person has to be in for this condition ( decision?) to occur.  Each individual seems to come to this place on his own terms, in her  own time.  And here's the thing:  I'm not there, yet.  I may get there in a short  while, maybe a longer while.  But I'm not at that place, yet.

As I'm not ready to disengage, then I want to go back to work  I'm the first to acknowledge that I could use, probably, another month or so of physical therapy.  And, I do, in fact, have the time coming.  The thing is, the educational system in which I am employed works on the semester system.  If I don't go back at the beginning of the semester, I may as well take the rest of the semester off due to the work I'll miss.  So, I've made arrangements for accommodations so I can get back for the beginning of the semester. 

I know this is not going to be easy.  I know that I have to continue my therapy on my own, and I have to lose weight.  My problem, in both of these areas, is that when I get busy, I don't take care of myself.  I'll do what everyone else needs to be done, and put exercise and eating heathfully last. This must stop, or , as I have said, I'll end up in a sad shape.

I want everyone to know that I've thought this through and through and through.  Yes, I may not be able to pull this off.  I may decide that the whole idea was a mistake and turn the truck around and head home.  But, as the inmates in the prison used to say, " Scared money don't make money"  And if I don't try, it will always be something that I didn't do that I wanted to do.  And, on one of those viral posts, isn't that a big regret people have when they're old?  They don't regret what they did, but what they didn't do? 

So, here I go. Back to Arizona.  Oh, and by the way.....that scared money comment?  Don't put a lot of stock in that.  When one of them would say it, it was , usually, right before they did something shady which , invariably, landed them in the Hole or got them indicted.  

I love all of you and am so very grateful for the love and support all of you have given back to me

Sunday, December 15, 2013

December 15, 2013

Well, I am scheduled for discharge on December 27, returning to work for second semester on a light duty basis.  I'm far from one hundred percent and will require some accommodations in order to work, but even so I have made the decision to return. I realize my age, truly I do, but I've been lucky enough to find work that I like among people I like with kids I love. I want to go back.

I want to take a minute to thank all the people in my life who have been so supportive during this tough period.My family has been so supportive.  From my kids who have visited, to my brothers who flew in for my birthday, my sister who calls every day without fail, I am blessed.  The other day, I felt, at once, guilt and pride.  As I was leaving the day room, one resident said to another, 'She's so lucky.  She has a nice family.  Someone comes to see her every single day.'

  I know people have some reservations about social media, but during the past months, I have been so grateful and have felt such support from people with their positive thumbs up and sweet comments.  These have made such an impact upon my recovery. From the 'kids' with whom I grew up ( as much as any of us did, in fact, grow up) from Turley and the north side of Tulsa, my beloved extended family of cousins and their families, the 'kids' who grew up with my kids and have , after becoming adults ,stayed on to become friend s of mine, all the friends I've made in my life's journey   to my 'new' friends that I have made on the rez, both Navajo and Filipeno, I have been so uplifted by your support.

Now, as I enter the second stage of this issue, I am preparing to ask for your help again. I have always been, as my Grandmother Britton used to say, 'a big girl'. Or as K.D. Lang sang, 'a big boned girl'.  For the record, I'm not big boned.  I'm fat.  Just saying  My weight has never been a problem for me because I was, also, a pretty healthy girl.  I walked, navigated , traveled.  In short, I lived the life I loved, doing the things I loved  to do. Over the past several years, however, this 'situation' has gotten out of control.  I , truly, did not realize what a problem my obesity had become until I was faced with a limb threatening injury and my recovery was so negatively impacted by my weight

In the past, when faced with problems, my response has been to shut up, suck it up, stick my chin and head in the air and move on.  If I reached out to anyone, it was to family and to a few friends, and I didn't like to do that. I guess, figuratively. I've been eating my feelings.  Along with a heck of a lot of egg foo yung and cheesecake. To need help, to ask for help was, always, to me, a sign of weakness.  I have learned, since July fourth weekend, when I cinderized  my ankle that this is not a constructive way to think.

I have got to lose weight, and now, with my leg on the mend, I am going to address this issue.  Not to do so is to, with a virtual certainty, guarantee myself  a life of limited mobility.  I'll probably end up in a wheelchair.  I will be limited in what I can do in terms of a job, and, in the near future, in retirement. How can I buy a camper to drive across the country if I am not fit enough to set up camp alone?  Riding a train through Thailand? Out of the question. I'd never fit in those seats.  Those are some tiny people.

Although I have enough exercise DVD s to get  a small village into shape , in order for them to work, they have to be utilized. Since being in rehab, I have been exercising daily, and my therapist says that has helped my recovery tremendously.  I plan to continue exercising as I return to my daily life.  I haven't settled on an eating plan, yet.  Siince I live alone and don't have to cook for anyone else, I'm considering one of the commercially available plans.  Besides, my Part B Medicare gives discounts on some of them  It, also, gives discounts on gym memberships, but since I'm returning to Arizona, and as there are no gyms closer than Gallup, I'm going to have to rely on DVD s.

I have decided that by involving my Facebook buddies in this endeavour, I stand a better chance of achieving success. I think it would help a lot in the same way it kept me focused these past months. .  I'll be posting, weekly, my progress, and since I will be among my co workers who are also facebook friends, I'll have to stay honest.  D.L. And Lorinda, in particular,  can be trusted to call me out .  Elaine and Andrew  are too polite to say anything, but they will be quick to pray for  me when I fail.  I will be grateful for both actions

Let's be honest. Weight loss, at my age, is gonna be tough, and I could fail. The research shows the odds ain't good.  Still, I have to try.  Here I go.  .