Saturday, November 30, 2013

Past Meets The Future

Not one of us can remember what year the girls met.  My granddaughters and my friend's daughters are the same age. I remember that my friend's daughters spoke only Spanish and my granddaughters spoke English.  Somehow, they managed to play and have a good time at the Apex Park and Recreational Center.  Two of the children were around two or three years old and the other two were around four or five.

This year, on Thanksgiving Day, the kids saw each other again.  This time the older girls are sixteen and the younger ones are fourteen. The two younger girls do not remember the encounter while the older girls recall swimming with each other and eating snacks.

The combination of all the beautiful young ladies is two play squash, one is into culinary art, one has a boyfriend, one is driving, one is a creative writer, one plays the violin, two play the piano, two are bilingual in Spanish and English and two are learning Spanish, two play Mariachi music, one plays Coldplay, two play the guitar, one is a walker, two live in California and two live in Colorado. It seems to me, that the girls could be great friends because they seem so compatible. I hope it doesn't take another eleven years for them to meet up again!

"There is no distance too
far between friends, for
friendship gives way to
the heart."
Author unknown.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Fourth Visit to the Orthopedic Doctor

 The first time I saw the Orthopedic surgeon was at Good Samaritan Hospital in Lafayette, Colorado. He came to tell me I had broken my ankle in two places and surgery was scheduled for the following day on September 5, 2013. My second visit on September 17, 2013, the bandages were removed. The bandages were stuck to my bloody ankle and had to be soaked in a solution to loosen them.The nurse removed the stitches by cutting the tiny threads. My ankle looked swollen and bruised. My third visit on October 15, 2013, my ankle was x-rayed again and I was told that in one week I

could be weight bearing. That was good news because since my operation, my left foot had not touched the floor! The fourth visit on November 19, 2013, I had another x-ray taken and was told that in a few weeks I might be able to be rid of the big, black, heavy boot and that I could drive my car. "We need to wean you off the boot and the walker," the doctor informed me.

Slowly, I can tell I am moving forward.  Each visit I am more secure and feel stronger. At each junction, a therapist works with me to get me to the next phase of recuperating. Exercise is very important and when the doctor said, "You have got to start walking because as long as you don't use your ankle, you will lose bone density," it sounded pretty scary to me. Today I went from boot to shoe and it felt great not dragging the heavy boot every time I took a step! Even though my ankle is swollen, and I was told sometimes the swelling lasts a year, it felt so much better than being in the the boot

Everything I do is difficult.  When we have all our limbs functioning, we don't realize how each part of the body is important. Without the use of my ankle, showering became over an hour chore, going to the bathroom took a  lot of maneuvering, moving around in the kitchen gave me a fear of either burning myself or dropping a dish, I had to pile up cushions to sit on the couch, I struggled to go from sitting to standing, learning how to get in and out of the house took practice, I had to be shown how to get into a car from a wheelchair and later from a walker, and it seemed that no matter what I wanted to do, I had to learn how to do it from either the chair or the walker. Stairs were prohibited until I could walk again. I had to make lists to keep from making more than one trip, I had to learn the best way to get in and out of bed and how to keep my foot elevated.

I devised ways to "vacuum" the front room since I could not use the heavy vacuum. I wrapped my hand with  scotch tape and bent down from the wheelchair until I could touch the carpet. It took awhile but I picked up a lot of lint! I've learned to do things from a sitting position or one handed if I am using the walker! When I sweep the kitchen I pretend I am in a row boat and the broom is my oar.

Without my friends, I would not have survived. Friends brought me food, went shopping for me, washed my dishes, kept me company, picked up my mail, did my laundry, prayed for me, brought me games, picked me up to take me to meetings or doctor appointments, took me out to lunch, shared a favorite book, came to visit, and called to see how I was doing. There were more offers to help than I could use and my ankle and I will forever be grateful for all their kindness and help!

"Let us be grateful to people
who make us happy for they are
the charming gardeners who
make our souls blossom."
Marcel Proust

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Burn or Bury?

When a religious object is blessed and gets broken, what is done with it? There is no way that I could toss any of my chipped or broken statues because my catholic guilt would be too great! Who knows, maybe the saint would even get angry with me! I also have many dry palms from Palm Sunday around the house because I never remember to take the old palms to the church to have them burned. I know that the ashes from the palms are used on Ash Wednesday. A few broken rosaries are in a drawer and not knowing if they have been blessed or not, I hang on to them, though I can never use them.

Our Lady of Guadalupe has a broken piece that even if I glue it, poor Juan Diego still needs his hair colored. Infant of Prague is without a hand. A few other statues with limbs broken are stored in a box somewhere in the basement.

"Once a religious object is blessed and dedicated for divine worship it must be treated with reverence and not to be used in either an improper or profane way." (cf. Code of Cannon Law #1171)  In the same article with the code, I read that the blessed object is either burned or buried. Once I had a garage sale and put out a few statues but instead of selling them I gave them away. I could tell the people that carried my statues away would give them a good home.
Seems to me I will have quite a ceremony when I decide to bury all my broken statues and rosaries.

Some of my broken rosaries.

Friday, November 22, 2013

What Was I Doing?

On the day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated, do you remember what you were doing? Even though it has been fifty years, I still remember.  I worked at Motor Vehicle in the license plate division.  I sat on a high stool behind a cutout window. There were people waiting to be served. Someone came up from behind me and said, "Did you hear the President has been shot."  I thought she was telling me a joke and waited for the punch line.

  A few seconds later, the announcement came over the public address system reaffirming what I had heard. A silence came over the whole building and all we could hear was an announcer broadcasting what had happened in Texas. Many persons were crying. The office was closed and everyone was sent home.

November 22, 1963Driving to pick up my son who was nine months old, I kept the car radio on. I could not believe that something like this could happen in the United States.  Foreign countries were more apt to have assassinations, but not the United States.  When I got home I turned on the television and for the next two days I sat and watched the horrible images.

The Denver Post had a picture of the President and his wife smiling and happy right before he was shot. Everyone seemed to be in a state of shock and no one could believe what had happened even though we could see the images being played and replayed on the television screen. It seemed as if the whole world joined us in mourning our President.  

When I saw Jacqueline Kennedy, with a veil covering her face,  walking between her brother-in-laws, Robert and Ted Kennedy, I felt a deep sadness. Her handsome husband had been killed and she was left alone with two small children. One moment would change history! 

And now, fifty years have passed, and that fateful day is once again being shown over and over again. Generations of people who were not even born will see what we saw when it actually happened. It still brings a sadness to my heart even though the majority of the persons involved in the past are now deceased. A tragedy that will never be forgotten!

Oil done by my brother in 1964.
"Our most basic common link
is that we all inhabit this planet.
We all breathe the same air.
We all cherish our children's 
future and we are all mortal."
John F. Kennedy

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ugly Tortilla

Taking a tortilla off the griddle, I was shocked to see an ugly face with warts staring up at me. I have heard about images on grilled cheese, trees, buildings, rocks, clouds, shadows, x-rays and walls but the images are usually of a religious nature. I have a friend who has saved a tortilla with an image of Jesus. It is interesting to know that images have appeared all over the world and in many cities here in the United States. In the clouds I have seen animals and once I saw Pablo, my daughter's dog and another time I saw Chewbacca, my brother's dog.  And now, I have an ugly tortilla.

I put my ugly tortilla on Facebook and responses were that it looked like a Halloween mask,  an alien or like Santa Fe's Zozobra.  All I know is that even if this tortilla was ugly, it still tasted good. Which goes to show that it is not what is on the outside that counts but what is on the inside!

"Beauty is not in the face;
 beauty is the light of the heart!"
Kahlil Gibran

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Last night when I couldn't sleep, I fooled around on the computer.  On I found many places where I could purchase jig-saw puzzles. As I flipped around looking at the many pictures I came across a "free" puzzle and clicked on it. Jigidi came up and there on the screen I could put together a puzzle.  The puzzles ranged fro 20 pieces to 540 and by moving the cursor over the pieces they are moved around until the picture is completed. I can size the pieces by either hitting the + or - sign. Amazing!

I worked on a thirty piece flower garden and finished it in about seven minutes. The second garden of thirty pieces took me five minutes and thirty eight seconds. The twenty piece puzzle took one minute and forty-two seconds. El Arco in Cabo San Lucas was beautiful when finished and that thirty piece puzzle took me seven minutes to see the completed picture. This sure beat working on a regular puzzle for days!

The fun part is you compete with other puzzlers and I just found out that a picture that took me thirteen minutes was put together by someone in 2.5 minutes!

There are many puzzles and I tried counting them all and I do believe they go on into infinity! I saw over 3,500 puzzles before I stopped looking and more were still popping up. I had my choice of pictures from art, scenery, pets, flowers, cars, dishes, buildings, babies, mountains, lighthouses, holiday, trees, oceans, bridges, or Christmas scenes.

Who would have known that on my computer I could sit and work jig-saw puzzles. Whenever I can't sleep I will now work a puzzle instead of playing Spider Solitaire in the middle of the night!
Took me six minutes to complete this puzzle!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Letter to Puzzle Man

While I was at assisted living recuperating from my broken ankle, I met a man in a wheelchair who seemed to always be sitting at a table working jig-saw puzzles.  His patience amazed me as piece by piece he would work on putting a picture together from tiny card board cutouts. When he wasn't at the puzzle table I would sit and look for pieces that would help him complete the picture. One picture of many fish, in dark blue water, he had framed.  It looked very difficult and he told me it took him a long time to complete.

After I came home, my daughter sent me a 550 piece puzzle of wild animals.  I finished it in three days. A friend who knows I like putting jig-saw puzzles together brought me two puzzles, each with 750 pieces. They looked very difficult but slowly I was able to complete the picture of an eagle in five days.  I will soon begin the picture puzzle of many doors. It looks like another hard puzzle but I enjoy finding those elusive pieces and completing the picture.

I wrote to the "Puzzle Man" at the assisted living facility to let him know I had continued working on puzzles. Below is the letter I sent him.

November 12, 2013

Dear Puzzle Man,

You have been in my thoughts for the past few days. I started a puzzle, 750 pieces, 
and it took me five days to complete. I kept thinking you would have finished it much quicker! 
How are you doing? Did you finish the puzzle that I had been working on upstairs?  Here is a picture of the difficult eagle puzzle. 

My daughter sent me a 550 piece puzzle 
of wild animals and I finished it in 3 days. I think I like the 550 piece puzzle better. 

I do not believe I will ever try a 1000 piece puzzle like you do!

Greetings to all from Room 227!

My next project!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

I Cried This Morning

The television was on and even though I was not watching, I heard music playing and turned to see the band.  A young man's face filled the screen as he sang a song.  When the camera went to a full frame, I saw that the young man was without legs and sitting in a wheelchair.

Then, I noticed the whole band was comprised of amputees. Some with no legs, some with an arm missing, one with an artificial eye, and a few without hands.  Written across black t-shirts were the words: Stand Up For Heroes. All of the young men were veterans who had returned from the war maimed. The tightness in my throat exploded into tears.

Through my tears I heard the interviews of the young men.  Not a one felt sorry for what had happened but praised music for helping them find themselves after they returned from overseas.  Their bravery, not only at the front, but in their life after, made me cry even more. What a courageous group! One fellow who before going to fight was a guitarist returned with his hand missing and both his legs gone. When asked how he could possibly play the guitar now, without his hand, he smiled and said, "I am now a drummer!"  When one fellow said he felt more complete now than before, even without his legs, my tears started again.

My thought of how able bodied persons do nothing with their lives and here a band had been formed of men with artificial limbs. A member of the Pink Floyd band and the cellist Yo Yo Ma were shown giving music instructions to the veterans.

One man in a rehab facility struggled to walk again while wearing a prosthesis. I could identify with the rehab area but couldn't help thinking that all things are relative. After seeing the show, my broken ankle is nothing compared to what the young men on the screen have been through. My tears were for those young men who gave their limbs to keep America safe, for their determination, and for finding happiness in their music.

"I complained because I had no shoes
until I saw someone that had no feet."
Indian or Persian Proverb

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Slave Driver

Definition of Slave Driver
A demanding, unyielding task master.
Someone who makes people work very hard.

Who would have thought that a petite, 5'4" young woman could be a slave driver? She is my Occupational Therapist and it surprises me at how much she can get me to do.

Soft-spoken, sweet, and gentle she explains to me that she will help me do things that because of my broken ankle I am unable to do them. On her first visit she helped me by gathering my clothing, bandages, towels, soap, shampoo/conditioner and lotion so I could shower.  After I was dry and wrapped in a towel, she dried my feet and smeared them with lotion. She bandaged me up again and told me I had done very well.

The following visit she said, "Get your walker and we will go into the kitchen. Now, sit down on the kitchen chair."  I told her that I usually sit in the wheelchair. She said, "You need to practice getting into other chairs." After I was seated in a kitchen chair she said, "Okay, now go to the sink and wash your dishes." I stood at the sink and washed a few dishes in the sink, rinsed them and put them on the rack to dry.  "Good,
now let's try sweeping the kitchen." I looked at her and asked, "How? I'm in a walker." She smiled her sweet
smile and said, "Let's see what you can do." I went to the pantry where I keep my broom, got it out and  tried sweeping the floor as I balanced myself as I held on to the walker. "I need the dust pan," I said with the thought that maybe she would get it for me. No sympathy from her as she said, "You can get it." I told her it was at the rear of the pantry. She said, "Let's see how you figure out how to get it."

I had to scoot sideways since the pantry door is not wide enough for the walker. I then scooted out holding the dust pan. When I had gathered the dirt into the dust pan and dumped it into the trash, she said, "Very good, you did a good job! Next time, we can work on something you would like to do. Is there anything that bothers you?" I said, "My refrigerator needs cleaning."  She smiled and replied with,"That's what we will do the next time I come." Sure enough, on her next visit she arrived ready to have me clean the refrigerator.  I said, "Do you know what, I do not feel like cleaning the refrigerator today.  I am not in the mood for that kind of chore."

"Okay, she said, "let 's see what else we can do for your therapy. Let's go into the other room and we will practice getting up from the floor." Now, even without a 2 1/2 pound boot on my leg and no broken ankle, I have problems getting off the floor. "You're kidding."

"No, you need to know how to get up  if you should fall." Again, that sweet smile. My reply was:  "Do you know what, I would rather clean the refrigerator." And that is what I did. Trays out, wash, rinse, replace and all of this while holding on to my walker. Okay, so her reverse psychology worked!

Today she arrived and we took a walk outside.  For me it was like seeing the world with brand new glasses. Nine weeks of being a prisoner inside made me appreciate the sunny outdoors.  Leaves were on the ground and my neighbor was putting up Christmas decorations.  Nothing really changes, only I had changed!

Going out the idea is "bad foot down first" and coming in it was "good foot up first."  When we were inside again, we were sitting and chatting on the couch. She suggested lifting the couch by putting garden stones to raise it.  "Raising the sofa would make it easier for you," she suggested. Then, she slid off the couch and sat on the floor.  She asked me to do the same thing. As we sat on the carpet she said, "Okay, not get back up on the couch."

For half an hour I struggled.  No matter which way I turned, what I tried, I could not get back up on the couch.  She smiled and said, "I know you can do it.  Rest, and try again." Finally, I got on one knee and was almost half way up but the pain in my knee made me sit down again. I told her that I do not even kneel in church because of my bad knees. All she said was, "You will figure out a way, I know you will."

After a few more attempts, I managed to crawl up on the couch. I felt anger that she made me work so hard but also proud that I had accomplished such a simple task. As we both enjoyed the comfort of the couch she said, "Next week we can do whatever you want." I mumbled something like, "Well, it certainly won't be sitting on the floor!" She thought that was funny.

Next week, when the doorbell rings, I am tempted not to answer the door!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Jig-Saw Puzzle

When I opened a package I received from California, I found Trader Joe's peanut butter, a Godiva chocolate bar, bite-size Hersey dark chocolate and a jig saw puzzle.  The jig-saw puzzle brought many good memories of when I was growing up and my family would sit around the kitchen table putting puzzles together. My father would always say, "First, get all the straight ends so that we can make the outside of the picture."

My love for puzzles has stayed with me through out my life and every once in a while I will buy a puzzle. They are time consuming and tiring yet I find myself enjoying the challenge.  When I complete the puzzle and see the beautiful picture, I have a feeling of satisfaction.

This year, during my stay at an assisted living in Broomfield, I met a man in a wheelchair who was a "professional" puzzle person.  He completed large, over a thousand piece puzzles and some he framed. He lined up all the pieces either by color or shape on each side of the table. I admired his patience and dedication.  Today when I received the box of 550 pieces of wild animals I was ready to begin putting it together.

I don't know if it is the challenge, the memories, or a way to relax but I do enjoy finding a piece that will eventually complete a picture. It also reminded me of a poem I wrote in 2007.

  Life Is a Jig-Saw Puzzle

Precisely cut,
each tiny piece
intricately shaped
is joined to another
to form a picture
of breath taking beauty.
It takes a long time,
deep searching,
to find a spot for each piece.
From the many different shapes
a picture begins to form.
It is colorful,
overflowing with happiness,
appealing to the eye,
and each piece is unique.
What a pleasure to behold,
as each piece completes your life. 
As time would have it,
a piece is removed,
or falls away,
leaving a gaping hole.
With love and patience
the piece can be returned
to its proper place
and the beauty of what
was can be again.
Suddenly, a hand reaches out
and rips the puzzle back
to its 1000 pieces.
Nothing is left 
except a pile of many memories
in a chaotic mess.
There is sadness,
and agony.
Two things can happen.
Place pieces in a box to
store those memories away forever.
Stick the pieces
in a dark closet of your mind
and let the puzzle of your life
get covered with dust, forgotten.
The picture you
once loved fades away.
Or, piece by piece,
you interlock those pieces again.
It will take time,
frustration and prayer.
Slowly, each day 
another piece is added to the puzzle of life.
One day,
the last piece is put into place.
The fear is gone.
Sadness forgotten.
Once again 
you can look at the picture
that has emerged
from the many pieces of your life.
Life has been mended,
stronger than ever, 
and can continue
in its beauty and glory.

Erlinda Moscoso
March 10, 2007 

"There are no extra pieces
in the universe. Everyone
is here because he or she
has a place to fill and every
piece must fit itself into the big 
jig-saw puzzle."
Deepak Chopra