Wednesday, January 20, 2021

In the Costco parking lot

Sometimes when my husband Art and I are out together, he wants to go grocery shopping because he's seen good sales in the newspaper ads. He'll say, "We can make a quick stop at Costco. And purple grapes are on sale at Fry's." Sometimes I get annoyed because I have other plans afterwards, and he usually hasn't said anything about stopping until we've already left home.

This morning we went to Lot 49 at Tucson Medical Center so I could get my first shot of the Moderna vaccine (I volunteer at the clinic in our retirement community on Thursdays, so I'm considered a health care worker.) I'd invited Art to go along with me because his was scheduled for next week (he's over 75) and I wanted to show him how to get there. I'd Googled the travel instructions and I was pretty sure he'd miss Wyatt, the side street where he'd need to turn right.

The drive-through vaccine line was quite short and the site was well organized. When I got to the place where a young woman asked for my name, appointment time and ID, I said, "Would it be possible for my husband to get his shot today too, instead of coming back next week?" She asked her supervisor, and we were directed to a tent off to the side just in front of us. I asked again at the tent. "Sure, we can do that." I said, "You have made our day." "We try."

So I got my shot and Art got his, and we'll go back for our second dose on February 20. You never know unless you ask, right?

Then we stopped at Costco. I was still annoyed, because I hadn't brought my phone with me. I usually play Candy Crush while I'm waiting in parking lots for Art to shop. 

Sitting there in the parking lot, I thought for a few minutes about the physical therapy appointment I had yesterday. I got a cortisone shot in my right hip several weeks ago, and while the discomfort is much, much less, I want my right leg to get stronger so I can walk distances. And, I'm thinking, maybe if I get physical therapy the inflammation pain won't come back when the injection wears off. I told Andy, the physical therapist at my first appointment yesterday, what my goals were. He did a strength test and said, "Your glutes are atrophied." I said, "How can I have a big butt and atrophied glutes?" He laughed. He gave me two PT exercises that I'd never heard of. They were hard, but not painful. He told me not to overdue it. Twice a day, he said, and come back early next week. 

I was lucky, I thought, to have good insurance that would pay for two sessions a week for six weeks. 

The Costco parking lot wasn't very crowded at 10:00 a.m.  Maybe because today was the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. I turned the radio on to NPR and Kamala was taking the oath of office. I turned the volume up. I opened my car window. I listened to Lady Gaga sing the national anthem. I listened to the commentary. Art was in Costco for half an hour, so I had all that time, alone in my car, to listen and reflect.

I felt full of relief. It was glorious to listen to hope again.

Hope.  What I have because Andy the physical therapist says he can help me. What I have because of the vaccine injected into my arm. What we all have because of our new national beginning.

I'm thinking of the last few lines of the poem spoken today by young Amanda Gorman: "For there is always light, if only we are brave enough to see it - if only we are brave enough to be it."

May it be so!

Friday, January 1, 2021

The gifts of 2020

Wow. What a year.

Many of us have been held captive by the news. Maybe even become news junkies, waiting for the next headline on Fox News, MSNBC, CNN or NPR to raise our blood pressure and our anxiety level. We may swear off and then be drawn back into the melee. That has been the case for me. I said I would only read the news when I first got up in the morning, but then an email would come in from the New York Times or the Washington Post and I'd feel compelled to read it.

In spite of my continued captivity to the news, there were gifts in this unforgettable year. These are mine:

1. We decided to convert the daylight basement of our family home in Brier, a northern Seattle suburb. We'd been talking for several years about making a change in our residence. After five years as snowbirds in Tucson, I was ready to move to Arizona full time, to our small (620 square feet) park model trailer in a retirement community. But Art was not. Born and raised in Seattle, he'd lived elsewhere only during his stint in the Marine Corps in the late 60s. He wasn't ready to make a permanent change. We considered renting apartments or buying a smaller one-story home, but Seattle housing is expensive, and if we were spending half our year in Tucson, the unused Seattle dwelling would be money wasted. Deciding to remodel the basement in our family home was the optimal solution.

2. We had the financial resources to do the remodel.

3. We hired my son James to do the work based mostly on faith that his work ethic would lead to success. We were right.

4. I saw James more often this summer than I have in the last 20 years. I realized that he is now a man of honor, which was a primary goal I had as a parent.

5. Everything in our new apartment was chosen by me, from furniture to teal accent pieces - none of it expensive. There are a LOT of unneeded things still in the garage! My preference for minimalism has a chance in this new place.

6. During the pandemic, I got to choose the degree of risk I was willing to take on. I always wear a mask in public as my contribution to the greater good. I almost always refrain from having any non-household member in my home or in my car. I think I've eaten inside a restaurant maybe three times since March. 

7. I used my first stimulus money to pay rent for an Afghan refugee now living in France. We had the financial resources to do that.

8. On Thanksgiving Day, we had a Zoom call with the kids in our blended family. Six out of eight of them turned up. For a few, it had been years since they had seen each other. I'm pretty sure one of them was watching a football game at the same time. 

9. On Christmas Day we invited two friends to join us for dinner. We set up a large table in the carport and, socially distanced, enjoyed a communal meal of ribeye steaks, cheesy potatoes, corn bread, and green bean casserole, with apple crumble for dessert.

10. On the third-to-last day of the year, I got an ultrasound-guided injection in my right hip. I am looking forward to more frequent walks and better sleep. 

When I look for the gifts, I can always find them.