Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Happy sixth ampu-versary to me!

Today marks six years since the first piece of my original drive train was removed. That day in 2007 (a Monday) was proceeded by the Original Leg Party of that Saturday night. I've alluded to recently-surfaced lost video footage of said party, but I don't yet have it transferred to a CD.

Today was one more  chilly, grey(ish, though the sun came out) winter day in upstate New York. I have many excuses for today's squirreliness: cabin fever, the full moon last night, February (the longest month, though it masquerades as the shortest)...but maybe it was my body/brain's way of acknowledging the death of part of itself.

The good news: my friend Jan Heimlich, author of Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment (and fellow panelist at the upcoming American Humanist Association's national conference in June) just posted an interview I did with her. Her book is an intense and thoroughly-researched  study that I highly recommend. More on it soon.

So here is the link to the interview on her other website, Child-friendlyfaith.org .

And here is a picture of me a couple months shy of six years ago after my stump had healed, when I was beginning the process of being fitted for my first prosthesis. It was the first time I'd stood up straight on both legs since November, 1975. My older daughter took the picture with her phone (which in itself was amazing) and emailed it to everyone I knew.

Debbie, a close friend for more than half my life, parent, equestrian, athlete & boss extraordinaire, told me, "That's a new-pony smile!" 

She was exactly right. That was how I felt. And still do, really.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Prayer: May the odds be ever in your favor!

Recently something really great worked out. It involved money I needed but didn't have.

Once upon a time when I was a Christian Scientist, I would have prayed about it the way serious Christian Scientists do: studied the bible, and Science & Health by Mary Baker Eddy and attempted to lift my consciousness into the awareness of a perfect spiritual universe where I could never lack what I truly needed, etc. ad nauseum. 

But not these days. I understand that we live in an extremely complicated physical world where there are too many variables to ever discount luck whether it's good, bad or unseen. It's been almost twenty years since I stopped praying, since I started thumbing my nose at the idea of prayer. (Yes, I enjoy seeing religious folks shudder when I do this. It's a character flaw.)  

No, I just continued with life, thought of some ways to handle the money situation, and waited to see what would happen. Guess what? It worked out in a way that I had not expected or requested. But if I had prayed? I would have said, LOOK!  MY  PRAYER HAS  BEEN  ANSWERED!  (in all caps, probably.) Except I didn't pray.

Consider this an anti-testimony.  Because prayer doesn't work. There are often solutions to problems. Sometimes  people or circumstances help us; sometimes we find inner strength to go on. Sometimes life just plain sucks. But when it does, now I don't feel shamed, inadequate, confused, fearful and personally responsible--as I did when I prayed all the time. 

I think it's fair to call myself an expert on prayer. My family relied on prayer over any medicine while I was growing up. I took no aspirin, no cough drops, no vitamins, and had no doctor visits when I was sick. And because of the Christian Science support system surrounding us, including state laws that protect religious behavior, I had no medical treatment when, at thirteen, a bone disease destroyed my left knee.

I'm an expert on prayer because I put it to the test. I prayed every day that year I was sick. I prayed during the ten months I couldn't get out of bed, during blood poisoning and agony and wishing I was dead. I prayed through months in a wheelchair and years on crutches. I prayed as my leg gradually fused. If any god worth worshipping actually existed, I would have jumped up and walked--not crawled out of the years-long ordeal scarred mentally and physically for life. Get it?

I went on praying, ashamed that I'd failed to heal myself/be healed, for almost twenty years more while strangers stared at my limp and church members reminded me I could still be healed...just keep working at it...keep studying...keep "knowing the truth."

The truth was that I outlasted a disease my orthopedist says could easily kill an adult. This is because a child tends to have new, healthy organs. A child with a tough constitution can withstand  osteomyelitis and sepsis as I did. Six years ago the department head surgeon of a teaching hospital said my knee was inoperable other than to surgically straighten and fuse it again (which I declined in favor of amputation.) He told me there were no cases similar to mine on this continent. He said, "You're unique to North America."

That doesn't make me a miracle. It makes me fortunate: "favored by luck" in this situation.

I don't play the lottery. I've got better uses for my dollars & dreams. But if I ever find myself President of the United States, when they swear me in I'll end by saying, "So help me, odds!"

It's extremely unlikely I'll become President. But not impossible, especially for someone so unique. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

An Avatar riding to Manderley, bareback

"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again...We can never go back again, that much is certain."

You know what novel begins with that line, right? Of course you do. Well, last night I dreamed I went riding bareback. My dream-mount was first my good old appaloosa mare Singer (the now-deceased mother of my pony Rindle) and later Dragon, a Shetland pony I got when I was ten... My mount's head bobbed in front of me, my two legs hung on either side of a sleek, smooth coat as muscles pumped and legs reached.

It was a long satisfying trail ride with much scrambling up banks, ducking of low-hanging branches, jogging along the shoulders of paved roads, and cutting through woods and fields. It felt as close to a real trail ride as I've dreamed in a long time.

I needed it.

Remember when the movie Avatar came out?  I remember someone commented to me after hearing that some people were depressed to the point of being suicidal after seeing that film. Its world was almost too perfectly balanced, unreachable to the point that it made them despair.

I said, Oh, you don't get it?

Because I did.

Admittedly, my take on it was skewed in a logical direction: I was moved by the experience of a paraplegic placed into an athletic body that allowed him to run. ("My take" being that of a current above-knee amputee who, for the greater part of the past thirty years, though athletic, fit, and able to ride horses, still was unable to run after an untreated bone disease destroyed her left knee in 1975 when she was thirteen.)

Avatar: I've watched the whole movie maybe three or four times; but I've watched one scene at least two dozen times:

Jake wakes up in his Avatar body. He sits up and looks at his legs. Wiggles his toes. Swings his legs off the table (to the consternation of his handlers) and stands up. The man in the booth shouts "Jake! This is dangerous!"  Jake steps closer and smiles, baring sharp Navi teeth as he says, "This is great."

Before they can sedate him, Jake is through the door, jogging and then running bare-assed in a hospital gown, blue tail waving. You know how wonderful it feels for him to run with new legs. You sense how warm the dirt is under his bare feet and between his toes. You can taste the sweetness of the Pandora fruit he bites into, and feel the juice running down his chin. It's the sensation of coming home to your own true nature. At home, once again, in your body. A body that does what you ask.

I cry every single time I watch that part. Yeah. It figures.

Tonight when I fed my horses in the cold darkness, the little pony scarfed down his meager handful of sweet feed as always and burst out of the shed he shares with the goats. He stormed over to the pasture where I'd just fed Rindle (elderly daughter of Singer, the appy mare I trucked out here to New York state when I was twenty) and Gifted Potato Princess Laredo, the sane and sound appy mare it has been my privilege to get to know the past nine years, since she was a filly.

My mini-stud stuck his head into the empty plastic bucket I use to carry sweet feed. He snorted: it was empty. Then he arched his neck and pawed furiously at the ground. 



Meaning, IT'S NOT FAIR!!

Yeah. I understand his point completely.

Friday, February 15, 2013

My State of the Farm Address

Oh, I suppose you missed it the other night: my annual State of the Farm Address to all those residing on my part of the hill.

Holy Crow Farm's inhabitants include humans (2), equines (3), felines (3) caprines (2, & a gold star if you know this, our Daily Double Vocab Word!) 5 chickens (since I don't know the-ine word for that) including Fabio the rooster, all the Happy Little Critters of the Forest out back,the fish in the pond, the crows & ravens I worship, and the mice who sneak into the kitchen.

Yes, I seem to recall some other speech was broadcast Tuesday night, so here are my highlights. I try to be a beneficent dictator. See what you think.

Employment: At an all-time high, as I've held my current job almost a solid year. I'm closing in on my personal best for work that doesn't require a manure fork or protective headgear. Kudos to me! 

Balancing the budget: The 2012 Holy Crow budget is, as in other years, somewhat amorphous and free form. There are zeroes where there should be numbers, and numbers without enough zeroes. But flexibility is a positive quality! My motto: We're Still Here, Aren't We?

Deficit Spending: Ah. Yes...the slight unpleasantness regarding that pesky credit card.  Nothing to see here. Move along.

Health & Welfare: Excellent! My knee replacement attained painlessness in less than six months. I've just this week had a new lanyard put on my above-knee prosthetic leg as well as gotten some new gel liners. I've started swimming two to three times a week in a neighboring town's school pool. My daughter is over the flu, and got two baskets yesterday at her team's game. And I really will ask the vet about the orange cat's skin condition.

The Elderly: Rindle has moved into the ranks of seniors. She's lost some weight. But she's still chewing her hay well enough. (Important whether you're equine or human. Think about it.) And by the way, AARP: quit sending me those membership cards. For crying out loud.

Immigration: A sticking point and potential political powder keg. I cannot promise amnesty to the mice in my kitchen. (Even my sister, an educated professional woman, had a vulgar term for them when she house-sat for me, which I would blush to repeat.) I'm still hoping they will self-deport, at least by spring. And there is no way in hell the big brown spiders are welcome. As for borders,they must be secure. The horses must not defect down the road. The goats are not welcome in the flowerbeds. Fences are the only solution.

Outlook: Things have never looked better for Holy Crow Farm! Writing is prolific, birds are singing, and soon we'll, or at least I'll, be drinking coffee on the deck. Maybe a margarita or two. Life is good.

The address was well-received and there were numerous standing ovations. Well, one. Sort of, when the cats got up...and left. You'd think they might chase the mice, but no. I have to do everything. So I clapped for myself.

I just looked up chicken: galline. Write that one down. It'll be on the final.