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One hand washes another…

VinsonMur2020

Vinson and me

We’re having a hot spell — too hot for me. I’ve never taken heat graciously and it isn’t easier now.

Vinson, one of many blessings in my life, wanted to come over and treat me to a birthday lunch. Walking at noon in this heat??? I just couldn’t. I begged off.

‘How about I pack a little picnic,’ I suggested, ‘And we go to the park across the street and sit on a bench under a tree. You can treat me to lunch after it cools down.’

So we did that. It was lovely. What I enjoyed most was the interesting conversation we ended up having. Vinson said he learns a lot from me. (Important things like you can separate two sides of a sandwich using waxed paper. Ha, ha.)

I had to honestly respond that I, too, learn

oldlady?

Who would teach me if they didn’t?

a lot from him (and my other young friends Andrew and Alison). Who would teach me if they didn’t? Aside from showing me how to use my smart TV, newfangled telephone and new computer, they teach me current words or expressions which have changed through the years.

Judy, one of my favourite friends and also a member of our book club, brought us each a coffee mug which says ‘Reading is LIT’. I thought ‘LIT’ stood for literature.

 

Photo on 2020-07-28 at 12.05 PM

I thought it stood for ‘Reading is Literature.

 

When the youngsters visited, I showed off my new mug. They chuckled and explained that ‘LIT’ is modern slang for ‘exciting’ or ‘excellent’. Aha! I am now a well-informed old lady.

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That’s me behind Alison

One day, having lunch with Alison and Andrew in my neighbourhood, a local man came in and greeted me. I introduced him and after he left explained I regularly give him money — he is ‘mentally retarded’ and lives on disability. Alison said we no longer use that term, but now say such people have an ‘intellectual disability’. I’ve lived a long life and things change.

I am grateful to my young friends

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Hey Andrew, I don’t have a photo WITH you.

who respect me enough to help me continue to learn. Besides threading needles for me, reaching items too high for me to get to, helping with my lack of technological skills and being willing to do whatever I’ve happened to put on my ‘To Do’ lists, they help me continue to grow as a person.

Thank you Vinson, Alison, and Andrew. I treasure you…

I know you’re dying to know about —

safety pincolorpinsI feel a need to honour the single reliable safety pin which has loyally served me for  years by now. I use it to secure my pedometer to my slacks since the widget that came with it broke down within a year. I’ve never had to replace the safety pin. Think about that….

Well, I thunk on it and was moved to find

Walter Hunt, inventor of Safety Pin

Walter Hunt, my unsung hero

out more about this humble servant. It was invented in 1849 by American Walter Hunt, (1796-1859) who, because he owed some guy $15, sold the rights to it for $400. (now worth about $13,000.) Others went on to earn a fortune for what seems like a simple pin.

This was a pattern with Hunt, who also invented a rifle that

SingersewingmachinebyHunt

Singer Sewing Machine

same year, (later used in the Civil War). It also made oodles of dough for someone else. He invented an improved oil lamp, a portable knife sharpener, the sewing machine, better bullets and goodness knows how many other inventions.

The man was a prolific, talented inventor, however without much education or perhaps an ability to garner support for his ideas, he continued selling them for a pittance.

He did, however, finally win an out-of-court settlement in 1858 with the Singer Sewing Machine Co. for $50,000 (well over a million today) for copying his original sewing machine design. Unfortunately, he died of pneumonia soon afterwards and before he was paid. (At least his family did profit this time.)

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cloth diapers used when I had babies

Unlike many other inventions, the

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Never stuck any of my little ones

safety pin maintains it original design to this day. I used to use them to secure the cloth diapers we had for our babies when I was a young mother. I don’t recall ever sticking one of my treasured little ones with one. Disposable diapers came later.

Think about that too…..

COVID:19 Haircut — Yahoo!!!

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I need a haircut.

Today is a very special day. I’m getting my first haircut in a long, long time. My curly hair has been having a wonderful time disobeying me and making me crazy by behaving like a hormone-crazed teenager.

 

It does just as it pleases and won’t listen to me no-how. Why should it worry? I still carefully shampoo and condition it no matter what it does. Maybe I should pull it hard until the roots hurt, but that would probably hurt me more than it would the hair.

 

Never imagined I could be so excited about something

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Lynne braided my rat’s tail

so ordinary. Lynne, my stylist, will be able to make a braid with my rat’s tail and I’ll be able to send grandson Remy a photo of it. Yeah! I’m trying to act cool, but I admit to being anything but.

 

This project was front and centre when I awoke this morning. I purposely wore an old top because no matter how Lynne tries, I end up with itchy bits of hair under my shirt and tear it off as soon as I get home — unfortunately I can’t do that in the elevator. Decency requires I wait until I get into my own apartment.

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Yup, sometimes I even groan.

 

Meanwhile folks, my new computer and I are doing a careful, uneasy dance around each other. I’m trying to learn more about dealing with the confusions (plural) it throws at me. It seems to endlessly enjoy seeing me in a state of despair. Yup, sometimes I even groan.

 

Last night that technological wonder gave me a new lesson on control. Dear Andrew had found a totally different game of solitaire for me. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the new challenge while I listen to ‘Ideas’ on CBC Radio. I like to do that and by my age I feel entitled to indulge.

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I could sure use that…

 

When I finally turned in, my right hand and wrist ached and complained so much I found it impossible to sleep. I’ve already had surgery on that wrist so you’d think I’d know better, but no. I still have more learning to do — about CONTROL! No more than three games at a time from now on. Wish me luck…

 

 

Porgy and Bess — the opera

Muriel2017Many important issues were covered on Broadway in those 1930s musicals — issues which society would not have been comfortable confronting in other ways. Just as comedy was, and continues to be, used to help us deal with the unbearable, musicals often presented audiences with differing views than their own. Audiences were thus encouraged to look at and rethink their own attitudes.

 

 

‘Porgy and Bess’ the first and only opera created by the famous American Gershwin brothers, was written and first performed in 1935. Unfortunately, George died of a brain tumor in 1937, so no more operas followed. The magnificent songs alone make it worth seeing, however, this masterpiece is so much more than only beautiful music.

 

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Eric Owens is Porgy and Angel Blue performs Bess (The Gershwins would have been pleased by the casting)

 

 

GeorgeGershwin1898-1937

George Gershwin, 1898-1937

The Gershwin brothers, whose parents

IraGershwin1896-1983

Ira Gershwin, 1896-1983

immigrated to the U.S. from Russia, like my own — for good reason, well understood discrimination, prejudice, antisemitism — and racism. For this opera, they insisted that all performers appearing in black roles, be black. This at a time when opera singers in the U.S. were white only and using white performers in black face was common.

 

Marian Anderson1897-1993

Marian Anderson 1897-1993

 

 

Contralto Marian Anderson waited until 1955 to be able to perform in a Metropolitan Opera. Before that, she performed in concerts in Europe.

 

 

 

 

 

The libretto of Porgy and Bess, set in 1920‘s South Carolina, makes a powerful statement regarding the vulnerability of the black community’s attempts at survival. All this years before Dr. Martin Luther King came along. Shamefully, the struggle still continues today.

But, if all you want are songs, Porgy and Bess has glorious songs: ‘Summertime’. ‘It Ain’t Necessarily So’, ‘I Got Plenty O’Nothin’, and then some. Definitely worth seeing! (I saw the Metropolitan’s Live Broadcast at a local theatre, and yes, all black roles were performed by black artists — as the Gershwins would have wanted..)

Am I addicted too???

Muriel2017I’ll come clean and admit it. I think I’m addicted. I don’t watch TV; I no longer smoke; I’m much too poor a loser to gamble, and so crazy sober I don’t have to drink. But, I do have a secret and maybe getting it out in the open will be the first step towards conquering it.

I didn’t grow up with modern technology. Heck, I remember us having a telephone party line! The bookkeeping machine we used in the early 60s took up a whole wall.

Women-Computers

In the 1960s we got a ‘bookkeeping machine’ (something like this) which took up a whole wall

I’ve looked askance at those who are addicted to their I-Phones. I especially judge young mothers on the bus who give little ones phones to keep them quite. (Those I-phones damage very young eyes — something to do with pixels.) I carry a cell-phone too, but only for emergencies and rarely use it.

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Once upon a time, we just used an adding machine

 

 

The bible says: ‘Do not judge or you too will be judged.’ But now, I’m beginning to wonder. Am I also addicted???

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Am I also addicted???

I’ve followed the same routine for years. When I worked as a columnist and technology allowed me to email my articles in, I learned to become an expert at creating multiple stalling tactics to avoid writing.

If you picture me approaching my computer with glee, impatient to communicate with you, that ain’t necessarily so. Yes, I like expressing my thoughts or frustrations, but that doesn’t make it any easier to get started.

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First I must go through my routine

First, I must play a game of Boggle. (Its good for my aging brain.) Then, I need to have (no more than) three games of solitaire. (Same excuse.) After that I check my Blog Stats (always interesting) then I read my email, answer those which require immediate attention and leave the others for later, or maybe never. After all this, I make all the phone calls I deem necessary, followed by the phone calls which are absolutely not necessary, and then, reluctantly, will get to work.

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Waddaya think?

 

When I do start, the writing is easy enough. Its just getting to it that’s so darn hard. So, waddaya think? Is my routine an addition? Am I addicted too???

The fight is far from over….

Muriel2017They’re talking about brilliant female scientists on the radio. It reminds me of an experience I had in approximately 1971 when I was planning to enroll daughter Susan (age 6/7) into a summer program at our local community center.

Identified as a highly gifted child, Susan was totally into science. She loved learning about insects, snakes, lizards, shells, rocks and dinosaurs — you name it.

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Susan (front) about that time

Reading the available programs, I saw a cooking class for girls and a science class for boys. I recognize that cooking is a science, but it wasn’t Susan’s thing and I knew it. I was  upset. Would I accept that? Of course not!

angrywoman

Would I accept that?

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I threatened to march outside their doors

I visited the center, had a discussion with the program director and threatened that if they didn’t allow my daughter into the science class, I’d march outside their doors with signs complaining about their old-fashioned thinking. Yes, I WAS really angry.

The female program director caved. Susan was allowed into the class, however, I hadn’t foreseen what followed. When she turned up for the class, the surprised boys loudly complained. “Yuck! A girl!’ ‘You’re not allowed in this class.’ ‘You don’t belong here!’

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You don’t belong here!

The poor kid. I’d placed Susan in a position where she was not welcome. The boys bullied. They pulled her hair. They saw her as an intruder. I didn’t argue when Susan very soon didn’t want to go anymore.

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They pulled her hair.

I also still wonder what that terrible experience did to her. Would she have followed a different career path if it hadn’t occurred? What did I accomplish after all?

What I do know I accomplished was I did convince the community center to change their policy. I told them they were unfair and outdated. They changed their future description of classes for children and no longer classified them according to sex.

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I’d like to think things improved later for girls

I’d like to think that later perhaps one or two girls, luckier than Susan, had the opportunity to become excited about science in a class — and who knows? Maybe one or two of them has or will win a Nobel Prize after all. (However, the fight is far from over.)

P.S. Susan has found her own way of using her scientific interests and ability in her life’s work in any case.

One door opens, another closes…

Muriel2017

photo by my Chandra

It was high time to give up driving. My vision had changed and my little old car was tired. Do I miss it? Yes. But only for grocery shopping. Traveling by bus is not only a new adventure, but an opportunity to see more — and chat with strangers. People are fascinating. I’m new at using buses, and don’t know anything about where they go or their schedules.

My friend Hans, who lived in L.A.’s Hollywood Hills, used to tease me about plans to visit ‘the village’, which is what he called this beautiful city. He was delighted by the unpaved sidewalk and  remaining unpaved alleyways here and there in my neighborhood.

I believed him. This IS a small town compared to L.A. which is so very large. Using buses for transportation, I was allowing an hour to walk the few blocks to the stop and to get wherever I wanted to go. It worked until now. I’ve just learned the town is bigger than I thought. An hour wasn’t enough to get to where I was to have an ultrasound taken of my shoulder this week.

Yup, it was the first time I’d bused that far. I’d driven that route many times by car, but you get to see so much more out the bus window than you can driving. Driving requires attention to traffic, lights, pedestrians and what’s happening behind you. On the bus, all that is taken car of for you. Hurrah!

Donna suggested I take the ‘Express’ but I didn’t know where it stopped. A REAL person would have asked but I didn’t so I was five minutes late for my appointment. No one else seemed upset by that but me. (Well, did I ever promise you sanity?)

Ultrasound-Machine

Storm clouds? Stormy sea?

The ultrasound experience was new too. I had once had one, but this time I could actually see the screen. At first it looked like storm clouds gathering and whirling about in preparation for a huge storm — in my shoulder. Later I saw it differently. It looked more like ocean waves in a stormy sea. The technician listened to my nonsense with  amusement, then ventured to say nobody had ever seen the ultrasound in that way before. Probably true….

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The Rio Theatre built in 1938

Afterwards, on leaving the building, I looked across the street. Wow! I was right in front of the awesome old Rio Theatre, now so much in our local news. I’d never seen this beautiful Art Deco venue before. No wonder local residents don’t want the Rio, built in 1938, torn down to be replaced by yet more condos — which most of us can’t afford anyway.

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Rio Theatre lobby

The other day, I read the Rio was voted our city’s #1 ‘Multimedia’ venue. (It features film and live performances.) What is wrong with us? How can we allow irreplaceable jewels like this gorgeous structure obliterated? The likes of the Rio will never be constructed again. It will be lost to us forever. Kudos to the present operator, Corinne Lea, who is trying to raise the money to purchase the building and save it. She’s just started a crowd-funding push. I wish her success.

Ridge Theatre 1950-

Ridge Theatre, 1950- 2013

My own neighborhood has lost an old theatre too, the Ridge (1950-2013). It was not as gorgeous as the Rio, but nonetheless much loved. The ground floor is now a Loblaws Market (infamous for its participation in a massive bread price-fixing scheme for years which cheated food shoppers) with yet more condos above. The old ‘Ridge’ neon sign sits on top of the building — a constant reminder of what we’ve lost forever.

 

2017 in review

Carla

Front: Carol, Judy, me, Donna. Back: Carla, Peter

2017 brought losses — friends Peter and Carla, and I’m afraid Georgina too. Two others no longer remember me. I’ll miss them also. However, I met Grace and Howard this year, and look forward to getting to know them better. Linda, too, came into my life and she’s a treasure. I’ve met Marion in our new Tai Chi class and since Val’s in it too, I’ll get to see more of them both.

Didn’t go anywhere in 2016. Couldn’t even walk! Wasted dollars on travel health insurance I never used. 2017, too, began dismally. Something had to be done. Bless Judy, she came with me to see Dr. Gredanis and filled out forms for me to get a new hip. Friends and neighbors like Amy and David, Wayne and Mairona, Linda, Vinson, Judy, Marlene, and others kept cabinets and fridge stocked and got me wherever I needed to go.

2017 also brought some accomplishments. Our book club’s list of ‘Books Read’ is now over 200! We’re pleased with ourselves. I organized a new Tai Chi class with help from Jean, our kind new instructor. She’s absolutely the right person to lead us. Some of the old gang had nagged about missing the class, Jean happened along and viola. We have a class! I then realized my own balance needs a lot of work, so it’s all good.

My new hip happened on March 17, with Susan at my side. Rafi came afterwards. They didn’t want me home alone between hospital discharge and Rafi’s visit, so dear Trudy came to stay. Samantha dropped in on a Sunday morning for the real biggie. I wanted to see if I could manage a real bath. (I love baths.) I made it! Talk about joy….

Hamming it up

Having fun in Nevada

I traveled in 2017. July found me in Nevada, visiting daughter Susan and her Michael. Why not make it a birthday celebration? The San Francisco contingent joined us and spent the week, and dear Joe, all the way from L.A. made it a birthday I’ll never forget. He ordered bagels, smoked salmon, and cream cheese for our breakfast, plus a huge birthday balloon, all delivered from Reno up to us in the mountains! He hand painted a lovely coffee mug, which waited for me in a package with coffee and cookies for added pleasure. What a guy!

Joe had called regularly while I was in hospital and was the one who realized my nausea was due to the morphine. (I’d assumed I was having a vestibular reaction to the stress of surgery.) He was right! Joe’s often right.

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Joe, me, Rebecca

The next trip was to my kids in San Francisco, where I

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Joe’s Susan and me in their gift, a RED wrap

was spoiled rotten again. I got to see my Chandra climb the scaffolding most days while the outside of their home was being painted. (Rafi, like me, is uncomfortable with heights.) Then, I took the train to L.A., and stayed with my kind-of (but no less beloved) kids Rebecca and Brian, who spoiled me rotten yet again, and so if you notice how spoiled I am, you know why. Joe’s Susan invited us to a lovely family dinner, where Joe and I ‘entertained’ with a short skit he wrote. We exchanged gifts and hugs — it just doesn’t get better.

LadyonbikeThese are not all the 2017 happenings. I quickly returned to Keno’s exercise classes and worked really hard at trying to regain my leg muscle strength, Wayne lent me (then told me I could keep) a ‘stepper’ which I’ve been using to help me get stronger, and after two years being unable to use it, I’m finally back on my Exercycle.
It was a very good year…..

 

Our schools teaching LGBTQ issues….

Muriel2017

photo by Chandra Joy Kauffmann

Our schools have introduced a program to teach children about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans-gender issues. Good. I applaud the program. If it’s truly successful I’m sure less people will suffer.

One school trustee has criticized the new policy, calling it ‘child abuse’. What? I hope he’ll be promptly replaced by a more forward-thinking, knowledgeable trustee. The man is ignorant and very much behind the times.

For the most part, when I was in high school during the early 1950s, we didn’t even know homosexuality existed. I certainly didn’t. There was an unhappy girl in our class who, by the way, excelled in sports — something most of us didn’t participate in unless we were required to.

“I wish I were a boy,” she’d tell me, her eyes sad as she said so. It WAS sad. I felt sorry for her. She was what we would now call ‘Butch’. (I remember her name but will not use it. If I still exist, she may too.) I do, however, think of her often and hope she found her place in life and became comfortable with who and what she was meant to be.

In those days many gay people married, not wanting to admit to their families, or at times even to themselves, who and what they really were. It was not acceptable. This led to unhappiness for everyone. Wouldn’t it be better if we were all free to be who we are?

Of course there are parents who still object to their children being taught about these natural differences in people, due to religious beliefs and/or backward traditions. That saddens me. We don’t choose to be born ‘different’. Who would? Life is difficult enough as it is. Why ask for the kind of problems those who are LGBTQ have been subjected to, and let’s face it, it is far from over yet.

I just attended a ‘Music in the Morning’ concert where we were treated to my favorite Tchaikovsky String Quartet. I recall reading Tchaikovsky was ‘outed’ and to avoid the horrible scandal which loomed over him, took his own life. Surely he had more music in him to compose. Our loss…..

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Tchaikovsky

Oscar Wilde, that witty writer of plays and stories, was jailed because he had an affair with a man.

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Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

The inhumane conditions of jail at the time destroyed his health. His children were never allowed to see him and had no idea what horrible crime their father had committed. His son, writing about it years later in his book says when he finally found out, his reaction was: “That’s all?” He grew up thinking his father had committed murder or something truly awful. Broken physically, Wilde died shortly after his release.

Alan-Turing

Alan Turing, brilliant mathematician who broke the Nazi code

Then there was Alan Turing, the mathematician to whom we owe so much. He was the brilliant man who cracked the Nazi code, which not only served his country, but may have saved us all. How was he thanked? Arrested and disgraced for having a homosexual relationship, forced to undergo surgery to ‘correct’ what was ‘wrong’ with him, and finally, miserably, took his own life.

How many other great thinkers and creative people have we lost because of our stupidity? How many more need to suffer needlessly?

Good luck to our school board with this new program. More power to them.

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Sign I saw at Chandra and Rafi’s home while I visited them in San Francisco this month.  I love it. I love them.

 

 

Persistence brings progress…

Muriel2017

photo by Chandra Joy Kauffmann

I’ve been working hard at recovery since I had my hip replaced in late March. Am I neurotic? Perhaps. I’m probably also one of those ‘A’ personalities who is driven.

I’m not the type to buy an Exercycle and then just use it to hang laundry on. Nor will I enroll in an exercise class and lose interest. So, I used my bike regularly about five days a week and attended both Tai Chi and ‘Joint Works’ exercise classes and never missed if at all possible until — I was in so much pain I could hardly walk (prior to this surgery).

After I got my new hip, I did my assigned exercises diligently, returned to my exercise classes before I was able to do all the moves the rest of the class did, and got back on my Exercycle before I could lift that right leg over the centre. I had to walk around the bike and get up on the left, and began with very few rotations, which I slowly built up. With time I was able to lift that right leg over the centre — barely, but it was progress. Bravo!

I love baths. My whirlpool jets are set to hit directly at my arthritic joints. The warm

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I love baths

water is wonderfully soothing. After three months, my surgeon said I may bathe again. A dear friend came over (just in case I needed help) and I made it! If I were a drinking person, I’d have celebrated with champagne! That was a real biggie….

I hadn’t been able to travel for well over a year. Gleefully, I

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Michael and Susan at their front door

planned a visit to see the new home my daughter and son-in-law had built the year before. It required two airline flights each way, but I made it! I also climbed 17 stairs (Susan counted them) to see their upper floor. Since it was my birthday while I was there, my San Francisco contingent joined us. We celebrated. It was fantastic.

SM, Spa Day

Being spoiled rotten — facial and foot massage

Everyone spoiled me. My Chandra and grandson Remy gave me a facial and foot massage. Chandra noticed I hadn’t trimmed the last three toes on my right foot. True. I couldn’t yet reach them and wasn’t happy with having them done at the pedicure shop. (They’re into esthetics and that’s not what I need.) My loved ones took care of that too.

Hamming it up

Hamming it up

After my return home, now and then I begin to feel, in spite of my continued hard work, I haven’t made any new progress. Then something happens. One day I discovered I WAS able to reach and trim those three toenails on my right foot by myself. It was so exciting, I sent an email to my kids to give them the news. This too was a biggie.

Little by little, I keep increasing my exercises, and now and then I get a new or unexpected reward. I’m now up to 4:20 miles per seating on my bike, and am doing 70 steps each time on my stepper. I continue attending exercise classes, and my loyal pedometre counts my steps when I walk each day. I’m building them up too.

I’m not done with little miracles yet. When I bathed yesterday, I was able to get into my higher-than-average tub without using my arm to pull my right leg up and over. Yeah! Another step forward….

Why am I telling you all this? So you won’t ever give up.