Wednesday, September 27, 2017

September 27, 2017  This should be the heading for the blog, but I have not yet figured out how to do that and how to get the picture the right size, etc., etc.  Sort of like learning, radon, xenon, krypton, helium, argon, neon  - I will get itl

It's seven years since I had my right lower leg amputated and I started this blog.  I am mostly not concerned about the ankle anymore.  It is the aging process that interests me because I a so involved in a critical part of it.  So, I thought I would share some occasional comments about this aging old lady with one leg. 

St. George Island, Florida

January 31, 2015

Dear Friend,

This is a periodic holiday letter coming a month after the recent holidays have come and gone.  I know that I haven’t touched base with many of you in years.  I was prompted by a wonderful late holiday letter from my friend, Polley McClure – thank you Polley.  I wanted to write back to Polley and then thought that there were so many of you that I wanted to touch base with, that I would do a semi-mass mailing.  I added the letter to my to-do list in the order that was going to work for me,  and I am now up to the writing.  In front of letter writing was:

Finish quilt top 1
Finish quilt top 2
Build a sewing machine cover for sister

Next on list is:

Write this letter
Write reports for church committee
Start on a new quilt – a 100 block wonder

I started quilt tops one and two at two different classes last summer.  Several projects intervened and the tops were put away until after the holidays.  I told my sister I would make her a quilted cover for her sewing machine three years ago, and she reminded me again, so I put that on the list.  Good to have these three items checked off.  Of course, I need to ‘quilt’ tops 1 and 2.  When I return from Florida, I will put #2 on my long arm machine, but I think I will send #1 off to someone who is a professional ‘quilter’.  I love the piecing part of this work, and I am happy to do easy long arm quilting, but I have this #1 piece and another piece at home that I just can’t imagine finishing.

Now you know how I like to spend my time.  I am in Florida – on St. George Island – which is a barrier island off the “Forgotten Coast” – the Florida panhandle.  It is 60 or so degrees here – while it is 9 degrees in Pittsburgh.  I am here with my friend, Beth, from Rochester NY.  This is the third year we have rented a house on St. George Island – and this year we did it for two months instead of one.  A month is gone already – the days pass too quickly.  We look out the front window at the Gulf of Mexico – can see the sunrise and the sunset over the Gulf.  Most days, the horizon is so straight and clear.  I understand why our ancestors thought that if they sailed in one direction they would sail off the end of the earth. 

I turned 79 in December – the beginning of my 80th year.  I figure that I am meant to celebrate this 80th year – and I am practicing waking every morning with joy and thanksgiving.  My siblings and I have long outlived our family history – me with most reasonable health as well as the means to live in comfort.  For this I am grateful.

When I am not hanging out on this sand dune in Florida, I am living near daughter and her children and son and his children have been living with me in my Pittsburgh home.  Artist daughter, Julie, is currently teaching at the Waldorf School of Pittsburgh (art, woodworking, handwork as well as subbing in the middle school – she has learned geometry as the result of needing to teach it to  middle school students).  Julie is making some art in her off hours as well as vegetable gardening when weather permits.  (Biodynamic gardening is one of her interests).  Her most recent project has been “gourd birds” – the gourds coming from her garden.  Her web page is well outdated, but you can see the gourds and other of her art on her facebook page – Julie Stunden.  The birds are delightful.  

Son James graduated from nursing school last June – with a two year RN degree.  (He had been a firefighter for years, but suffered a severe injury and couldn’t continue that work; he was also an advanced practice paramedic).  Got his degree and passed his exams just as the two major health care systems in Pittsburgh became engaged in a war – both are also insurance carriers – and it has been awful.  It meant that jobs went away.  For the last couple of months he has been a substitute school nurse – and has really enjoyed that, and just this past week he started in one of the very big hospitals – a level one trauma center – as a nurse in the Emergency Department.  Hallelujah!!  He is also signed up to start school on-line at Western Governor’s University in March – to get his BSN.  Some of our children mature more slowly. 

Two grand daughters started college this fall.    Maeve (belongs to Julie)  is taking trips to NYC to march for causes and is taking classes such as world religions and world politics.  Ali, left school-away-from-home after one semester to come back and be with father and boyfriend, but has a 16 unit program at community college for this semester – heavy in the biological sciences.  Two grandsons are in high school (11th and 10th grades) and one grandson is in middle school at the Waldorf School.  All are moving forward nicely.  The 11th grader, Jaxon (belongs to son), is an electric bass player, a guitar player and a writer of music that I don’t understand.  The 10th grader, Liam  (belongs to daughter), got a bass for Christmas and is receiving lessons from the 11th grader – a formalized process that seems to be working well. He is also making progress toward his black belt.   The 7th grader, Gaven (belongs to son) initiated a petition to the school bus company to keep their bus driver this year – and his petition, much to everyone’s surprise including the driver’s, was successful. 

All beloved nephews and niece and grand nephews visited for either Thanksgiving or Christmas.  It was a special year that way as all adults had been (and still are ) a very big part of my life.

And that’s the immediate family update.  There are no spouses in the Pittsburgh picture.  Julie and James are spouse free at this time. 

I left work at the University of Wisconsin nine years ago this coming summer.  I can’t believe it has been so long.  Friends there who I thought were young have retired since I left.  Children who were very little are well grown.  These years have gone so fast.  I have been working for MOR Associates as a leadership coach since retirement from the University, part time – sometimes a bigger part of the time than at other times.  This past summer, I indicated that I really needed to not work that much any more, so, while I am not completely retired, I am working much less than I had been.  I have enjoyed the leadership coaching, and feel really good about having been able to work with folks to think through and implement how they could do their work (and sometimes their lives) differently. 

Needing to be part of something bigger than just me, though, I joined the local Unitarian Church, and can’t just be a member, but have this thing about being a leader.  So, I have been privileged and frustrated to be on some important committees.  I have made many new friends in Pittsburgh, mostly through the church, and some through the quilting community.

What’s next?  I am expecting my son and his family to leave my house in the near future – a job with a paycheck should let him do that.  Then I need to figure out how to live the next part of my life.  I don’t want a two-story house anymore.  I don’t want a walk that needs to be shoveled.  While I love my garden, I really can’t bend down to take care of it easily.  All of this says I need to leave my house behind.  So, that’s the next thing under consideration.  I have read Atul Gawande’s book, Being Mortal, and he poses interesting questions about how to live this late phase of life.  I’m thinking about some of the options he presents, options that Pittsburgh presents, options that will work for me 

This island in Florida has presented me the opportunity to have my nails manicured.  They are a bright pink.  I even had a one-foot pedicure and my toenails are green with a flower on the big toe.  Life is good for me.  My wishes for you are that your life is also good- that you experience joy on a daily basis.  My wishes for the world are more complex.  I guess the clearest one is that the killing stop and that “respect for the interdependent web of all existence  of which we are a part” is taught to and owned by every human being.  I won’t see this.  I hope my grandchildren and your grandchildren do.

So I end with one of my favorite quotes – from Jeremiah was a bullfrog – “Joy to the world, all the boys and girls now, joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea, joy to you and me”.


Annie Stunden    1112 Mifflin Ave    Pittsburgh PA 15218-1313

annie on st george.-q2. 1:2015.jpg
In my room on St. George Island

Rags-Traveling Companion, -q.Jan 2016.jpg
Rags is my traveling companion
Starbursts (on wood floor).-q.Jan 2015.jpg
Quilt top #1 “Starbursts”

Progress, Not Perfection.shrunk. -q.Jan 2015.jpg
Quilt top #2 – “Progress, not perfection”

sunrise and the horizon -q.jan 2015.jpg
Sunrise and Horizon – view from north side of Gulf of Mexico 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

It's Thursday morning, May 22 and I am in the Penn Stater Hotel - ready to leave for Old Main and some coaching.  These are the last formal sessions for my Penn Staters in the CIC9 program.  I'll miss them, and I am looking forward to July when I am not on the road anymore this academic year.

I am looking out the window from the 5th floor at the mountains that surround this beautiful valley.  Just watched a squirrel run up a pine tree only to be scared back down by a big crow.  Somehow, I have to figure out how to spend time outside in beautiful and quiet places.  It has gotten harder to navigate the places that I would like to be with this bionic leg and ankle.  The one outside time in beautiful space that I know I will have is at 'the farm' in the Finger Lakes for a few days in August.  But I do stay put wherever I am, rather than wander and explore.  That is something I miss.

Grand son Gaven has his Waldorf School knighting ceremony this evening.  I will be home in time to help him get ready and be there with him.  I was on the phone with him this morning as he was trying to figure out how to carry his backpack, his saxophone, and the requisite bouquet of flowers to the school bus stop.  I hope the flowers arrive intact.

Grand daughter, Maeve has her high school prom tonight and she broke her right arm the day before yesterday. After much negotiation, she has the arm splinted such that she can attend the prom - beautiful black evening dress with accompanying splint.  Then she gets the arm cast tomorrow or early next week.

I have just a couple of days to finish the work on the Woodstock house so I can get a CO on it and we can close the sale.  I have grandsons and miscellaneous boyfriend scheduled to do yard clean up and some painting on Monday.  I just learned though, that the handyman who was fixing things could not figure out how to fix one of the windows.  I wonder if i can get a new window installed next week - actually need to install two windows or the dining room will be mismatched. Maybe, just maybe, Construction Junction has a couple of windows that are the right size.   It will be good when this house is no longer part of my life.

Life does happen when you are living it.  I do wish mine was just a bit simpler right now.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Friday morning, May 9 in the I-Hotel - Champaign-Urbana IL

The first leg of my flight home was cancelled, I imagine in anticipation of thunder storms.  And there is no way I can get from here to Chicago in time to pick up the next leg.  Tonight's flight on AA to PIT is full.  A few years ago, I would have rented a car and driven to Chicago and picked up some other flight home.  That doesn't work as I need a car with a left foot gas pedal and they are just not sitting in rental lots.  I have been renting from Enterprise since the amputation, and with two weeks notice, they will have a car waiting for me at the right Enterprise station.  But without the lead time, I can't get a car.  I wonder if it is easier to rent cars with hand controls.  But that's for futures.  I don't know how to use hand controls, and I would want some experience before I simply go for it.

Anyway, I am here at the I-Hotel - not home until afternoon tomorrow.  I have sent out notes canceling the morning quilting activities - and I was looking forward to that time.  But, it will come again.  Late afternoon tomorrow I am planning on taking my family to dinner - and then we head to CCAC for James' pinning ceremony.  He keeps trying to act like this RN degree is "no big deal", but he is very excited about it.

I am looking at the movie section of the local paper thinking that would be the way to spend a couple of hours.  Not too much interesting out there.  Think I will go see SpiderMan 2 at the I-Max.

So, my gmail inbox has 25,542 messages in it.  What do I do with them?  Most are absolutely irrelevant.  If I lost them all would it matter?  My former UW colleague and friend, John Peterson use to "accidently" wipe  out his email once a year or so.  He seemed to survive just fine.  I could probably figure out how to do that.  I do have a yahoo account that I look at very, very infrequently.  The only think it has is the Nolting long-arm quilters mail.  I could just leave the gmail account alone and adopt another mail platform that I tell my friends and work related folks about, and leave everything else going to the gmail box - then forget about the box.  I will ponder this a while longer.

Time to work on that expense report and then go see Peter Parker/SpiderMan 2.

(It's not raining here now.  The sky is blue.  There are, however, lots of big clouds out there).

Friday, May 2, 2014

May 2 in the morning -

Last day in Chicago for this trip.  This is a quick post - a shower experience and an idle thought or two.
One legged in the shower.  It really is important to have a towel right near the shower so I can dry this limb before dressing it with prosthesis.  I almost always do that, but not this morning.  And I can't hop - other leg doesn't do that well, and my balance ain't good enough.  Think a minute.  realize I did remember to put down the shower mat - and I didn't get it soaking wet.  It's a fine substitute towel.  I have observed before that every time I use a different bathing facility, I need to check it out and be planful about how I approach it.  This morning I forgot.

Second grandaughter got her driver's license yesterday.  First grandaughter got hers a year ago.  Both got permits near the same time.  One was anxious for the license - took the test four times before she passed, but did it in a short time span.  Second one only does things when she know she can do them perfectly.  So she passed on first try - but it took her a more than a year longer to achieve the level of perfection she was comfortable with.  Now first grandson (of three) has a permit.  This is scary.  He doesn't pay attention to anything around him except his guitar and bass.  I'll observe this with interest, but not sure I want to ride in a car he is driving.

I want to talk about Maeve's sermon in church last Sunday - but that's next post.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

May 1 - Location - Medical Center Marriott, Chicago, IL

In Chicago this week working with the folks at the University of Illinois Hospital (mostly).  Spending the weekend with a friend then heading to Urbana for the next IT Leaders Program (ITLP) as well as time with the folks on the Urbana campus.  This is two weeks away straight.  I miss my dog.  I really took on a lot of work this year.  I love it - but this aging body does not love the airplanes - or the alarm clocks.  My idea of the best possible morning is to wake up when the sun shines and lie in bed with a book.  Recent fun books - a series by a British ex-pat living in Thailand, Colin Cotterill, who writes about the coroner of Laos - an elderly gentleman who is solving mysteries with his motley crew of friends and professional colleagues.  This all takes place in the 70's, after we left our military campaign in that part of the world.  Great written pictures of Laos at the time and fun mysteries.

More about socks - I am actually wearing a pair of mismatched socks - I have on culottes that show my socks, and not a single body notices.  Of course, when people can see my socks, they can also see my prosthetic leg, and I don't think they pay much attention to the socks, matched or not  (and they were the same color - pattern just a little bit off).

And about the leg - or really about the foot.  When I got this newest prosthesis - and I think that was the beginning of March - I got a new foot as well as a new socket.  Prior foot had a bit of side-to-side rocking motion, but no front-to-back motion - in effect, it was pretty much like that fused ankle I lived with for years.  This new foot (now eight weeks old to me), has front-to-back motion.  I feel less stable with this foot.  It is certainly friendlier to use on ramps (up and down) and on stairs too.  But I often feel as if I am going to fall forward forward or fall backward.  I haven't done that.  I have tripped and tumbled, but that's not new.  But it is the sense of instability back and forth that is challenging me.  So, do I want to return to the old foot?  Do I want to keep working with this one a while longer?  I haven't figured out what the decision point is.  I imagine, I will know it when I come to it.

Day is done for me.  Need to repack my bag tonight and be ready to check out of this hotel in the morning.  Gonna watch a few more episodes of MadMen.  (Not gonna report on washing machine sex again).