Thursday, January 31, 2013

LIz Goes to San Diego

Finally: the big news I've been sitting on the past few weeks: I've been invited to be a speaker on a panel at the American Humanist Association's national conference on June 1, 2013 in San Diego.  The panel will address the topic "How Religion Can Harm Children." The other panelists are R. Elisabeth Cornwell, Sean Faircloth, Katherine Stewart and Janet Heimlich. This is an amazing powerhouse of a roster. I am honored to be included.  

Lately I've been writing about trudging though this winter, grasping (though not too tightly) at my chickens' new eggs and whatever signs of spring are available...but my stump-u-versary approaches: February 26, which makes #6. For me it's a time of reflection that also requires extra irreverence. Yes, a defense mechanism. I know. Sixteen years of therapy, remember? In the hospital after my amputation, I wore a T-shirt that said IT'S JUST A FLESH WOUND.

Incidentally, video has surfaced that was taken at my Leg Party 2007, (the lost episode!) when we celebrated the retirement of my organic leg and impending amputation by burning  a larger-than-life paper-and-cardboard  limb that was bent like mine, complete with foot and toes. Who knows? I might post said video here in a moment of weakness. (Especially since Sean Faircloth has reported that his interview with me is ensnared in some legal battle...)

More news as it develops. Cheers!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Cold Stump Blues & Seized-up Leg

Yeah that's how cold it is out here. This morning I thought it was warming up. I think it was only that the wind stopped. The thermometer said 5 degrees.

My prosthetic knee is hydraulic. Never mind that changing shoes is a pain (I usually just pull on rubber overshoes, which work for all but deep snow) and any winter footwear feels heavy and makes my stride drag. Forget falling on the ice the other night. The worst problem is mechanical: my knee starts to freeze. Gets s..l..o..w.. Lags behind. Straightens OK, but sometimes stays just a little bent, the ground is just a little uneven, just a little slippery. Down I go. The only thing that stays hot is my temper.

The hens are laying but the eggs freeze and crack in the nests. Frozen, it's safe to put them in my coat pockets where they click like pool balls. I set them in a bowl on the kitchen counter to thaw. The cracks close up and they're fine, unless I forget and hard boil them.

The days are undeniably longer. The birds are singing again, though I don't often stay outside long to listen. The maples and ashes around my yard sway, creaking and cracking. The cold seeps through my jeans into the hard shell of my socket. FYI, those eggs thaw out faster than my stump when it gets cold. Mid-way up the femur isn't meant to be an extremity. The end gets chilly fast. It's gotten difficult to care that my clever black cat continues to knock out a piece of insulation, worm his way into the ducts & up into the house: yeah, OK, whatever. I'll fix it when the weather warms up. Right now I need a cup of coffee.

A few years ago I went snowmobiling with my cousin in New Hampshire. To combat the temperatures I taped a couple of those hand warmer-packs to my socket before I put on jeans & Carhartts. Worked like a charm for most of the day. 

In the meantime, that heap of clothing in the snow is probably me. If I don't pop up, drag me out of the drift. Ignore the blue language. It's so cold that Darth Vader says, "The gravity is strong with this one." You know he does.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

January Thaw

The Thaw used to mean setting up the ladder, hauling up the brush on a long rope & cleaning the chimney. Now my more modest home has a brief and manageable chimney pipe rather than a block chimney stretching three-plus stories upward. And a good thing, too. Climbing up the ladder to my porch roof to scrape what snow I can reach is interesting enough for a middle-aged amputee.

Mud, even frozen & snowy, makes for better walking than snow, which is still better than ice. But for a change, I'm thriving this winter. My newly replaced knee is painless and fully functional and has improved my mobility even in/especially in bad footing. I like to think I don't walk the way I did last year (like a lame cow in the mud) but I'm not sure. Still, I hope.

The best thing is my new energy. Maybe it's the returning light in the evenings (though I must say the mornings have been damn dark) but I feel this tug to walk the length of my home for the umpteenth time rather than send my daughter to grab something for go back to the horse shed in the dark on the frozen ground with half a bale of hay balanced on my right arm and shoulder...the kind of things I used to abdicate to a helper.

And my half-broke, half-written YA novel in verse? It's coming along. It won't be hurried, but it's taking shape. It was unimpressed by deadlines for NaNoWriMo or January first: it shrugged, snorted & went on its way...but it's still talking to me. I take dictation from it every day.

Another development is...developing. I will unveil it as soon as possible. I guess I feel so tired and jaded and cynical that I can only be mildly surprised when the work I've invested all these years sactually yields results. The good thing about being--well, I guess exhausted is the word I want--by my life is that I'm like my old pony Cupcake. She's going on 32, seen it all, done it all, and nothing much fazes her. The last time she shied was ten years ago at some pony club event when a kid jumped down out of a tree. I wasn't present & only heard the story.  I wish I were more excited & less exhausted. But stay tuned.

My first therapist was exactly right: it's all The Wizard of Oz. We struggle to figure out the answer and stand dumbfounded at the realization salvation (the secular kind) was in our power all along. I think mostly there are no shortcuts. The long way is the only way.

Thanks for reading. Keep your fire wood dry, and don't forget to drain the hose after watering the animals. Till soon.