I have always liked the water. As a child, we would spend our summers at the ‘beach house’ on the Puget Sound near Olympia, Washington. We would swim, use the boat, catch jellyfish, and water ski. There was a whole gang of kids. Summer was fantastic. We had to help mom with the house chores yet had plenty of free time to do what we wanted. The worst part was when we all caught poison ivy and had to stay in and be covered with that terrible cream.
The ’beach house’ was sold when we were teenagers. This time meant the real world was now part of our reality, a summer job was upon us. We started with a real fun one: picking strawberries. That was hard, we got paid on the number of baskets we turned in, so if you ate too many berries you did not make much money. Next was the summer in the kitchen in the hospital. This was fun. I learned how to make custard, which I still love today. Next was on the floor, working with the elderly patients, feeding them milk toast (gross).
We got to go use the public pool when it was open, and our work schedule allowed it. It was not the same as the Sound, but it was swimming. Let me tell you, I am not a great swimmer, I just love the water. This went on during high school. Then college, marriage, children and no swimming.
When all the kids had left home, I joined the women’s gym and started doing water aerobics six days a week early in the morning. I did this for out five years. I was getting my love for swimming and time in the pool fulfilled. Then God had a plan to interrupt my swimming. It was a laryngectomy. That was six and a half years ago. They said no swimming……l This made me sad.
Then I heard about laryngectomees that were swimming, I thought long and hard about it, I prayed about it. Then this year I decided it was attainable for to do, yes, I can do this.
I purchased floaters. I planned to use a pool. I went swimming on July 22, 2020. After 6.5 years I was back in the pool. It was the most fantastic fun. It was unbelievable that I was able to do this. I thank God for my event of a lifetime.
My friend and I were eating lunch at an extremely cute café, when I noticed they had a really cool wall. The wall was weather-beaten 2 x 4’s placed horizontally covering a large space. The café was using the wooden wall as a backdrop for artwork. Then and there, I decided I would love to have a wall like that.
That started an incredibly involved quest. I did not have any immediate access to aged wood but knew of a few stores in Pasadena and the surrounding area that sold it. So, with loose measurements, Ron and I drove off to Pasadena. We spent the better part of the day going to several stores. It was then a little dose of reality set in, the outright purchase of aged wood to fill our wall was not going to fit in the budget. Consequentially, the project was put on the back burner for the time being.
Ron was working part time during this time. The business was in the process of doing a little cleaning and tidying up. He came home from work one day and started talking about 8-foot pallets. We wondered if they might work for the wall.
Now, I do not know if any of you have seen a pallet up close and personal. There are boards in the front and the back with supports in between with a zillion nails in between. We got the pallets home, took a good look at the 8-foot boards, and decided they would be perfect. Then began the part of taking the pallets apart, which was Ron’s job. I cannot tell you how many hours he spent, it was many weekends.
The wall was finished in 2015. It has been used for many different art projects.
The project that is up now is photos given to me by close friends that I decided to hang. You can see they are still in the archival bags and I used clips so not to damage the matting. I have had these photos for years and decided to get them out of the box.
One thing about art projects, it allows me to display the thoughts that run around my brain. You yourself can display your thoughts either by pencil, photo, writing, anyway. The main idea is to use your creativity.
To begin we start with quotes from Winston Churchill: “Never, never, never give up!”; and “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference!”
As we have spent the last six weeks in lock down, our lives have created a ‘new normal’. For us as laryngectomees, this is our second ‘new normal’. We adjust and grew in our first new life, now we need to do the same with a few changes.
Before this change if I wanted to go for a walk, it was simple—fill the camel pac, get some Kleenex, a couple of small snacks and off we go. The only difference being we may use a Micron filter. We would really enjoy the air, scenery, our hiking buddies, all with no limitation.
Now with the ‘new normal’ a walk requires more preparation. First, we should all have a Micron HME to wear. If you do not have them please contact your speech pathologist and they will work on getting them for you! Then you need to wear a scarf over the Micron. Second, you should wear a mask over your mouth and nose, this is recommended by Dr. Brooks, to protect yourself. Third, either sunglasses or goggles to protect your eyes.
Now, if you look at my photo, I look all doctored up. Actually, going on a walk with all my gear on was not so bad I could tell the difference in the way I saw things, the way the air felt and the way things smelled. All of it was muted, not as clear, more muffled. Even with the differences it felt good to be out of the house.
Now….. here comes your part: What I would love to see is your photos of your walks and your thought on how you felt during our ‘new normal’.
*Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will post to PRESIDENT’S CORNER.
Happy Walking, NU WALKERs