Saturday, February 25, 2012

After the Fall

Well, I did it again.  I fell.  And, since I indicated "again" obviously it's not the first time.

I should interrupt myself briefly to explain that I am not talking about the usual falls a person can take--growing up, learning to ride a bike, roller-skating or ice-skating, playing sports, climbing trees.  Those falls can, of course, be dangerous and result in broken bones.  What I am referring to is falling as an adult who is not growing any younger.

The first time I fell, I mean really fell, was a number of  years ago during our first visit to Paris.  My husband and I were out walking around.  I am an inveterate map-reader, and that's what I was doing.  I was reading a map of Paris' convoluted streets trying to get us back to our hotel.  In my preoccupation, I did not see that I had just stepped off a curb.  I knew I had fallen only after I was once again upright, sitting on my butt on a Paris sidewalk.  My husband, who witnessed the whole graceless event, said I bounced.  And what I bounced on was my right shoulder.

Over the next several days, my upper arm began to discolor until it was an amazing array of colors that resembled a piece of modern art--all shades dissolving into each other.  I found out in short order how incredibly dependent we are on having two working arms.  Small tasks were now almost impossible:  I needed help getting in and out of a bath, help fastening my bra, help pulling a shirt on and off, help doing so many things.

When we got home, I decided against seeing a doctor, as clearly nothing was broken.  But over the next several weeks, I favored my right arm so much that I began to lose range of motion.  Finally, I showed a doctor friend of ours how I was not really able to raise my arm much beyond straight out from my side.  He practically ordered me to see an orthopedic doctor, which I did.  True, nothing was broken, but the severely injured shoulder and my favoring it was likely to lead to long-term inability.  He marched me off to a physical therapist and several weeks of restorative exercises.

So, with the announcement that I did  it "again" you guessed it.  I fell.  This time, I was out walking our dog who, in her rambunctious spring fever, pulled so hard on her leash that I tripped and went down splat on the sidewalk.  I did a great three point landing--left knee, left palm and right elbow. When I returned home, my husband immediately rigged up two ice-bags that he strapped to my knee and my elbow.  His quick response helped ameliorate excess swelling.  Also mindful of my  prior experience, I keep moving my right arm, raising it over my head and forcing the muscles to expand as much as possible.

Of course, I was embarrassed to go splat on the sidewalk, but even more I am concerned to remember to walk as carefully as I can.

Falls are serious business.  Many a senior has begun a health decline following a fall.  Now, maybe I am not quite yet to that age, but I don't want to be fool-hardy and ignore the consequences of a fall.  According to the CDC, the LEADING cause of unintentional injury in the U.S. for all age groups is falling.  Imagine that--for every age group, falls cause the moist unintentional injuries.  Ahead of vehicle accidents.  Ahead of insect bites and stings.  Ahead of poisoning, cutting, dog bites, fires, and all the other calamities out there.  

So, I will redouble my efforts to walk carefully.  

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Getting Ready for Oscar

I bet you thought I forgot.  Admit it.  Didn't you?
Yes, dear reader, it's time for the annual review getting ready for the Oscars.  
A disclaimer first--we haven't seen all the movies.  OK--now that the confession is out of the way, let's get down to business.

Now that the Academy allows up to 10 nominees for best movie, it is getting more difficult to see them all.  First, we just don't go to that many movies.  Second, by the time the nominees are announced, some of the theaters around here have already shown some of the eventual nominees, and for whatever reasons have not rebooked them.

And the nominees are: The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, War Horse.

So, we want to see, but have not see, Hugo and Midnight in Paris.  Even if  Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, or The Tree of Life were to return, I am not sure we would go.  

I may as well take them in the order listed above.
The Artist--if my husband and I were Siskel & Ebert (yes, I know Siskel is dead) we would have one thumb up, and one down.  I liked it; my husband didn't.  Here's what I liked:  the way the actors were so expressive, without words; the way that black and white seemed so...colorful; the dog; the dancing; the sweet story line; and the way a silent movie told the story of the demise of silent movies.

The Descendants--two thumbs up.  Loved it!  Simply loved it--and, it goes without saying, this is my pick as winning movie of the year.  Here's what I liked:  George Clooney; the young actress who plays the elder daughter; the magnificent scenery of Hawaii; the wonderful story line; Beau Bridges; and the denouement of the plot.

The Help--two thumbs up.  Since this movie is an adaptation of the extremely successful book, it had a high bar to meet.  Here's what I liked:  Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer; Emma Stone as Skeeter; a strong female cast (you don't see that often); the chocolate pie scene (you know what I mean); the interweaving of historical events from the civil rights era--a light touch, but still it's there; the denouement of the plot.  I recently heard Viola Davis on Fresh Air, and I am now rooting for her as best actress.

Moneyball--sort of two thumbs up.  This is a thoroughly engaging story, but not really "best movie" material, in my opinion.  What I liked:  Brad Pitt; Jonah Hill; Philip Seymour Hoffman (who is always good, but in an atypical role here); a bit of an inside view of baseball.  What always mystifies me is how I enjoy movies about baseball when I don't really enjoy the game of baseball.

War Horse--mostly two thumbs up.  Oh, yes, it's formulaic, and at times gory, but there's a gorgeous horse in it...  OK, what I liked:  the horse; the happy ending; the horse; the thoroughly realistic and quite harrowing battle scenes; the horse; and .... the horse. 

And, now my picks for top prizes, understanding that I have not seen them all:
Best Movie--The Descendants
Best Actress--Viola Davis
Best Actor--Gary Oldman (in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy)
Best Directing--The Artist

Not having seen all of the movies does limit my choices.  Martin Scorsese might take best directing, Michelle Williams might take best actress for playing Marilyn.  But, you go with what you have seen.

Happy watching until February 26.  And, joy of joys, Billy Crystal is back!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

What Flashes Before Your Eyes

This conventional wisdom that your life flashes before your eyes in a time of peril--well, it just doesn't happen, at least not to me.  What flashed before my eyes was a bright yellow car.

OK, here's the scene.  I had decided to take the two "orphan" cats to have their claws trimmed.  (I call them orphans because these are the two we rescued a bit more than a year ago.  Both had been found somewhere outside--separately.  But, to distinguish them from our other cat, I just use the shorthand--orphans.)  Anyway, their claws get, so a trim was in order.  We loaded them into their respective carrying cases, and--since the one cat gets car-sick--my husband said, take my car (a smooth riding Ford Fusion).  Regretfully, as it turns out.

I drove carefully, trying not to trigger the cat's car-sickness.  I looped around a local store, using a road that leads to the pet place, and pulled up at a traffic light.  When the light turned from red to green, I followed several other cars as we moved forward.  When I was halfway into the intersection, suddenly, from my right, I saw a flash of yellow.  A car moving way too fast to stop at the light that had to be red for the driver.  I had no time to do anything, not even brake.  I think I turned just a bit to the left, hoping not to hit him.

But hit him I did, smacking into his driver side with a hard BANG.  He then turned his car to the right, pulled off the road in a local restaurant parking lot, and I followed him.  Two other cars followed me.  As soon as I got out of the car, the other driver--a young man of about 30--asked, are you OK?

I was (so far, nothing else has popped up).  And so were the cats.  I called my husband, and told him what had happened.  He called the local police who came and did a thorough investigation.  The other two cars turned out to be witnesses whose first question was to me--are you OK?  Then, one of the men went to the other driver and said, dude, you ran a red light.  The young man was nonplused, indicating he was sure he had a green light.  Well, no, you didn't.

Meanwhile, my husband drove over, gathered up the cats, and took them for their nail appointment.  All's well that ends well.

But the ending is yet to come--on Monday, my husband will begin the task of calling the insurer.

The final coup de grace is this.  We got a call this evening from the police who did the investigation and write-up.  Seems the young driver not only ran a red light but was also uninsured.


Sunday, February 05, 2012

Unto Life Eternal

Yesterday, my husband and I attended the funeral of one of our church friends.  As is customary, the minister comforted the family members with the traditional words of the promise of life eternal.  

As I thought about our friend's funeral, one concluding irony occurred this morning, when I checked Facebook.  There was a suggestion that I might want to "friend" the woman whose funeral we had just attended yesterday.  So, even after our deaths we live on in many ways.  

We live on in blogs too--one of the first blogs I began reading was written by an incredibly brave woman who was slowly dying from ALS.  She had been a vigorously active woman in her life before her disease.  Her blogs were inspiring, warm, and full of a happy love of life.  But, over time, the entries she wrote became fewer and fewer--with longer distances between posts.  Then one day, there were no more posts.  I kept wondering--how was she?  And I kept checking her blog for news, any news.  Finally after a year of silence, there was a sweet final post--she had died.  Her name was Pam, and the final tribute to her was a quote from her: 

I have ALS, it does not have me
Art does.

She was an artist who, as she lost her ability to draw with her own hand, found new ways to express her creativity.  So she lives on in many ways:  in her art, in the memories of all who loved her --  her children, her grandchildren -- and in her blog which is still "out there" for anyone to read.

Some researchers assert that we humans are hard-wired from the moment humans began to exist to contemplate a life beyond our human existence.  Early burial sites are discovered that include various items placed around the deceased to ease passage to the next life:  food, coins, clothing, various objects to speed the journey.  Many religions have woven into their belief systems various concepts dealing with a life beyond earthly existence.  No one religion has a claim to an exclusive belief in the next life.
But, an amorphous promise of life beyond our present existence does not satisfy our human need to be remembered.  We want our existence to be acknowledged--some of us have children, and grandchildren.  That's one way to achieve immortality, for a while.  Some of us have places--roads, buildings, bridges--named after us.  Some of us give MONEY to make sure we have places named for us.  Some of us do great or terrible deeds, and history remembers us.
Please understand, this is not an invitation to argue the subject, nor is it even a challenge the assertion that we do or do not continue to exist.  This post is not to elucidate the merits of a belief in eternal life; rather it is my rumination on our human need to contemplate, and sometimes even insist, on a life beyond the life we know.  I suspect part of this drive on our part is the human need to be remembered.  After all, the only way we experience anything is through our lives.  When we no longer live, we wonder what comes next.  Do we continue? Will those who remain remember us? 
A closing thought--one of the theologians whose works I enjoy is Bart Ehrman.  His own faith journey has moved to a point where he now considers himself an agnostic.  When asked by someone whether it bothers him that his agnosticism robs him of the comfort of a belief in an afterlife, he responded--no.  Here's his reasoning: before he was born, he had no consciousness and was not troubled by that; after his death, he assumes he will have no consciousness, so why would he be troubled by that?
I know, I know.  I have tangled up two separate streams of thought--the need to be remembered with a contemplation of life eternal.  Are they different?