Six Weeks Plus Post-Injury

So when I last posted six weeks ago, I left you in suspense. I had finally found an orthopedic doctor who looked at hamstring injuries. (Can you believe that I had to call three orthopedic groups before I found one that took care of torn hamstrings?) He confirmed that I had a torn hamstring, and he advised me to use my crutch on the opposite side of the injured leg–swing the crutch forward at the same time as my leg moved forward. I already knew that! No physical therapy, he said. Gave up the elastic stocking. Spend as much time as possible with my leg raised. Come back in two weeks.

Two weeks later I was back. This time, my leg was still swollen and it still hurt to sit. He sent me off to a vascular surgeon to confirm that I wasn’t developing clots in my leg–I wasn’t–and he said I didn’t need to come back. So for the next two weeks I did my own thing. I walked with and then without the crutch, and watched the purple stains on the back of my leg move down below my knee and finally to my foot. I walked two miles one day, and four miles a week later. Sitting on a hard surface still hurts, but not as much as it did at first. I guess I’m healed. Tomorrow I will re-join my hiking group.

No picture this time, but one nice story. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival scans the web looking for OSF in the news. (Most professional entertainment, etc. organizations do the same.) I received a lovely email from Eddie Wallace, Associate Director of Communications, praising my resilience in coming to Ashland in the face of my injury, and thanking me for the good things I had said about the helpful staff at OSF. What a great gesture amidst the pain!

And that’s the end of my hamstring story.

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The End of My Hiking Season?

I live in a house with lots of stairs, and I try very carefully to avoid falling on them. I hold on to a handrail every time I go up or down, but last Friday I fell on an outdoor stairway that I had never worried about. There are five stairs going up from our front walk to the driveway; at the top of these stairs is a faucet. I was carrying two watering cans up these stairs to fill them at that faucet. I leaned forward from the stairs to put the cans in place when I lost my balance and fell. I landed on my right side, scraped my left arm against the wall, and felt an excruciating pain in my back and both legs. Pain seemed to last forever. I crawled to  the front door, got to my study and phoned Don who was downstairs in his office.

We had big plans for the weekend. On Saturday morning we were flying to Ashland , OR, for three nights, four days, to catch up on the two late season plays of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and attend the Daedalus Festival, an annual event put on by OSF to raise awareness and money for HIV-AIDS. I was in pain, Friday night and Saturday morning, in my back and every time I put weight on my  left leg, but I was determined not to miss Daedalus or Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens which I had never seen. So we set out Saturday morning. I tried using crutches or a walker (which we have around the house from previous injuries) and found that using one crutch on my left side somewhat relieved the pain. In the airports in Seattle and Medford I had a wheelchair. On Saturday evening and Sunday I got around to restaurants and theatres walking very slowly with one crutch. Once I was seated I was okay, but walking was an agony.

My scooter on the deck of the OSF Members Lounge

Me in my scooter on the deck of the OSF Members Lounge

On Sunday evening, Don noticed that I hurt only when I walked, but not when I was seated or walking sideways, like a crab. He found an agency in Medford that rented little scooters, and on Monday morning I was ecstatically mobile! Ashland is very hilly, but the city is very sensitive to walkers and wheelers. There are curb cuts at every intersection, and traffic stops to let pedestrians cross. I was not very good at backing up, but rolling forward was a dream. The house staffs in the theatres were terrific, showing me where to park the scooter and pointing out hidden restrooms that are available to the handicapped. When I left the scooter, I used my crutch and walked sideways to get to my seat.

So what was wrong with me? At first, judging by the location of the pain and where I was exquisitely tender, Don thought I had injured my hamstring muscle. After a lot of poking and prodding, pulling on my leg and consulting with Dr. Judy in San Francisco, the consensus was that I had spinal stenosis. (I knew I had stenosis from MRIs taken when a disk blew out on the right side in 2008, but I had never had any pain on the left.) I tried to talk to my doctors in Seattle but it was very difficult to communicate, with plays to see, with staff leaving messages at home instead of cell phone, with offices that close down at five. Finally home late Tuesday night, I called my internist first thing Wednesday morning and was able to see him that afternoon. By that time, all the pain was in my left leg, and we were stunned to see that the back of my left thigh, down to the back of the knee, was an ugly purple color. A CT scan confirmed that it was not stenosis but I had torn my hamstring muscle. Then began a search for an orthopedist. Many of them do not treat torn hamstrings.

A few phone calls later, I have an appointment for next week. More to follow.

Posted in Health, Hiking, Public Transportation, Shakespeare, theatre, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

The Dainty Ladies Book Group

The Dainty Ladies Book Group is a very small, exclusive club with only three members. It was started by my granddaughter Nina who suggested that we would all read the same book and then discuss it. The first invited member was Aunt Judy, and then I asked to join too and was accepted. We take turns choosing the book.

The cover of the book

The cover of the book

So we started with HOLES, a book Nina chose, and when we had all finished it, Nina and I on the phone at my house called Aunt Judy and we talked about the book. Nina had written questions to discuss. We really wanted to do FaceTime but I couldn’t get it to work, so we had to discuss by phone. HOLES was written by Louis Sacher and won the Newbery Award in 1999. It was made into a movie by Walt Disney.

The next book we will all read is my suggestion, HITTY: HER FIRST HUNDRED YEARS, by Rachel Field. It won the Newbery Award in 1930. We all have the book and when we all finish reading it (Judy and I have already read it several times) we will discuss it again.

Then it will be Judy’s turn to pick a book. Nina chose the name for our club.

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Beware the Slippery Slope

When I went on the board of trustees of ACT Theatre, I knew there might be a conflict between monthly board meetings on Wednesdays at 4 p.m. and my Wednesday Walkie-Talkie hiking group, but I had no idea of how difficult it would become. This month so far I am missing three WWT hikes–Don is missing only two because he went on one without me.

Feeling sorry for myself, missing those hikes, I suggested to Don that he and I could hike on Saturday or Sunday, by ourselves or with anyone who might like to join us–like the old days when we first started the Wednesday group. Yesterday, July 9, we took our first hike to a trail I had heard of but never tried, Beaver Lake Trail #629. From the hiking guide for the Darrington Ranger District, it sounded like a good choice, lightly used, easy, hardly any elevation gain. Washington Trails said, “An easy hike on an old railroad bed, this oft-overlooked trail serves up plenty of surprises.” Remember that word: surprises.

The drive to the trailhead was very pleasant–I-5 north to state route 530, and then east to Darrington. Drove through the town to a T-shaped intersection where 530 went north and we went south on the Mt. Loop Highway. We passed several well-marked trail signs until 9 miles from town, just past a bridge over the Sauk River, we found the sign for the Beaver Lake Trailhead. Ours was the only car in the spacious parking lot; one spot was marked for disabled parking. The outhouse was clean and not stinky. The trail, wide and graveled,  began just behind the outhouse.

In a short time the wide trail narrowed to single file. Still, it seemed like a good trail, hard-surfaced dirt, wet but not muddy, with logs on the sides marking the boundary between trail and marsh on either side. We could hear the river beyond the marsh but had only occasional glimpses of white water through the trees. I was strolling along, using my poles and thinking that this would be a good level trail for the WWTs when we came to a spot where the trail dropped about four feet. There were no stairs from the upper trail to the lower, but two steps had been cut into the clay bank and then a slope beyond ran down to the lower trail. I set out, planting my poles to hold myself on the steps, when my feet slipped out from under me! I felt myself sliding down the slippery wet clay. I pedaled fast as I could to get some traction but I couldn’t stop. I hit the lower trail and kept on going until I hit the log marking the boundary and went head first into the marsh about four feet below. I remember seeing a mass of green foliage coming up to meet me. I remember  thinking, I have to stop but I didn’t know how.

The slippery slope that I slid down...

The slippery slope that I slid down…

the log I tripped over and the marsh i fell into...

the log I tripped over and the marsh i fell into…

...the log where my head rested.

…the log where my head rested.

I was cold and wet. I heard Don saying, “Don’t try to move, I’ll be right there.” I lifted my head and saw a wet log with a dark brown slug on it right in front of my face. Had I hit it? My head sort of hurt, but so did my knees and my arm. My glasses were still on my face but were knocked sideways. I had lots of thoughts; first, well, I am a hiker and this is an appropriate way for me to die. Then I thought what if Don falls too and who will go for help? Then Don was there, helping me get up to my knees, and then to crawl up the side of the trail and stand up. My shoes and my legs were wet and muddy, but the rest of my clothes were dry. The marsh below the trail that I had fallen into was full of broken greens. I stood on the trail thinking first that we would go back to the car and into town for help, and next, I wasn’t hurting any more and only my pants below the knees were wet so we didn’t need help. Don just assumed that we would go on, so we did.

The rest of the hike was uneventful. We found Beaver Lake which is not a lake at all but a series of connected ponds and marshes. We crossed on a sturdy bridge and went on until the trail stopped abruptly where the river had cut into the bank in 2006 and washed the trail away. It started to rain. We found a log under some trees and ate our lunch. The rain stopped, we started back. As I walked, in my head I composed the report I would post on my blog, the post you’re reading now.

This really is a pretty trail. The river was wild and noisy, with lots of white water. There are heaps of moss clinging to the old trees and mossy stumps with young trees growing out of the tops. We came to the slippery slope and with my new iPhone I took pictures for the blog: the slippery slope, the log I fell over, and the marsh I fell into. I went up the slope very carefully without sliding. As we left the parking lot I suggested that we drive south on the Mt. Loop Highway so we could see what it looks like. That was a mistake. The scenery is lovely, many campers had set up tents in pull-outs from the road, but it’s much, much farther to drive back that way, past Silverton and Verlot and finally to Granite Falls. We stopped for coffee there at Buzz Inn; it  used to be our coffee stop but now it’s a steak house. We shared an order of their special dessert, cubes of bread pudding deep fried and served with caramel sauce. Definitely a place to return to. We got back just in time to get into Costco before they locked the door at 6 p.m. to have the frame of my glasses adjusted. Next day I wrote this post.

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De-Cluttering 101 Second Post

So it’s now June 28. Yesterday was our 62nd wedding anniversary and I’m still in the hobby room. My parents’ photos are almost gone, and a month ago I had turned my

Unloading historical material for Washington Trails

Unloading historical material for Washington Trails

attention to another task. I had a huge stack of old issues of Washington Trails magazines, Signpost magazines (precursors of Washington Trails), Pack ‘n Paddle magazines, and a few books published by Signpost. I contacted Washington Trails and they said they would be delighted to receive my trails memorabilia to fill in the blank spaces in their own collection. Quickly, before they could change their mind,  I delivered two big boxes downtown.

Then I switched my attention to a big box of memorabilia. On top of the box were two scrapbooks from my senior year in high school. Much of the material concerned my social life, invitations to and programs from events at school and in the Jewish community. I was surprised by the number of dried corsages in the scrapbooks, the dried ferns leaking out; it was an expense of dating at that time that boys today don’t have to contend with.

The Jewish kids had a social life that was separate but in addition to the school’s social life. It was facilitated by the location of Omaha Central High, which most of the Jewish kids attended. Central was right across the street from the Jewish Community Center, and most of us headed straight for the “J” when school let out. Although the term “milling” had not yet been invented, we milled around the lobby getting to know each other and making plans. Some of the community organizations that had offices in the building complained about the noise and tumult of all those kids, but many marriages were made not in heaven but in the crowded lobby of the “J.” I contacted the Nebraska Jewish Historical Society, and they agreed to accept the scrapbooks. I removed the most personal items and sent them off, giving them permission to destroy any items that were not of historical value and all the dried corsages.

Under the scrapbooks I found a treasure trove–all the letters I had received from Don when I was in college in Massachusetts and he was in Nebraska. I read through them all. He hated fraternity life, the hazing and pledging. He also described all the dating he was doing, and complained that I was not telling him anything about the boys I was dating. He told me, more than once, that he had put his arms around a girl, held her close, and whispered in her ear, “Goldie.” I decided to burn all the letters. I do not want to share more than this with the next generations.

Under the letters, more treasures. A boy scout merit badge sash and order of the arrow.

Antique merit badges and order of the arrow

Don’s merit badge sash and order of the arrow

I thought these were son Jeff’s, but they turned out to be Don’s. If he had aged out of scouts at age 18, the sash would be 65 years old. Some of the badges are so old that we can’t identify them; they no longer show up on the boy scout web pages. With all those badges, Don never became an eagle scout because he never could earn the swimming merit badge. I remember his scout group that he continued to be part of even in high school. They held parties in the sea scout ship, among other places, very tame, sedate parties with his scout master and his girl friend as chaperones. So far as I know, I was the only girl that Don ever invited to one of those parties.

At the bottom of the box, I found a photo that I had sent to Don. Although I can’t recall why I had done

Fabulous photo discovered

Goldie at 19 or 20

it, I remember having the photo taken in Northampton. I must have been 19 or 20 years old and had longer hair. I fell in love with that resurrected picture. I’ve never looked so good since. I have it on my desk, and I don’t know what to do with it, except that I’m letting my hair grow long again.


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De-Cluttering, 101 (First Post)

After forty-one years of living in our house, we have forty-one years of stuff to get rid of. It was not clear where we should begin, but Don said we should start in the “hobby room,” a room we intended (in the early 1970s when we were planning the house) that we would use for craft projects. It has the potential for hot and cold water connections and 240 volt  electrical service, in case we ever wanted our own pottery kiln. Those were never completed. Instead, when all three kids were still home, the room was used as a guest room for long-term guests, once a visiting student at The Overlake School, and again our niece from Omaha. As the kids left, Jeff’s room became Don’s study, Judy’s room became the guest room, and John’s room held overflow toys from the rec room. The hobby room filled up with camping and hiking gear, luggage, legal papers (from Don’s legal career), giant packages from Costco, stuff the kids stored here, mementos from the children’s childhoods, a doll house project I started and abandoned, and photographs from my parents’ apartment. (When I emptied my parents’ apartment in Omaha in February, 1995, I didn’t know what to do with all their photograph albums, so I sent them to my home in Seattle. Big mistake.)

I started with my parents’ photographs. My father was a terrible photographer but he kept every snapshot he ever took, and my mother dutifully installed them in albums. She also fastened on to those pages every snapshot of anyone in the family that any of us ever sent her, and these were simply added to books where there were free pages, in no particular order, not by family group or season or chronologically. So my first task, and a very difficult one, was to go through those albums and remove any photo that might have meaning to me or to the rest of the family. I sorted the keepers into piles–my immediate family was one, each of my brothers had one pile, and one each to cousin families. Most of the pictures and the albums went right into the recycle bin. There were page after page of generic scenes in Israel, with no labels or recognizable landmarks. It was hard; I gave the wastebaskets to Don and said, “Take them out quick, I may change my mind.” Eventually I will designate one sibling in my brothers’ families to receive and distribute their photos and send them off. Finally in summer of 2016 I am completing the task I should have done in 1995.


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One More Comment on Public Transportation

The Laurelhurst Blog picked up my posts on public transportation and re-published them, and one of their readers, Larry, was kind enough to comment on them. He pointed out some mistakes that I had made, and thought that Children’s Hospital would not be happy that we had parked in their lot. Here’s my response to Larry:

“Thank you, Larry, for responding to my posts on public transportation. I have had an ORCA card for some time but rarely used it, and didn’t know about the two hour window when I could ride different systems without paying again. So I think you’re saying that when we went to Redmond from a Metro #32 bus to a  Sound Transit bus, the whole trip was covered by the first swipe of my ORCA Senior card? If that’s true, then that’s good news.

“As far as parking at Children’s Hospital, the first time we parked in their lot we called security beforehand to ask permission, and we were told, fine, no problem. The second trip we found a space on the street, and the third time their lots were full. But in spite of what security told us, I’m not comfortable parking in their lots and try to discourage my associate from doing that.”

So thanks to Larry, here’s what I know now: when I swipe my card for the first bus or train, whether it’s Metro or Sound Transit, I’m covered for up to two hours of travel on those two systems–but not for the Monorail! However, Larry said I could get off the train at Westlake and take a Rapid Ride bus–those are the red ones–on 3rd Avenue that will take me to Seattle Center at no additional charge.

I think this is the end of posting about public transportation. Next I want to write about old love letters.

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Third Try, Public Transportation from Laurelhurst

Our children moved from Queen Anne to Redmond. Nice for them, but they took our grandchildren with them. On this lovely Friday, April 15, our granddaughter Nina was scheduled to play Baloo in a student production of the Jungle Book at 4 p.m. in a theatre in Kirkland. Our daughter-in-law suggested that we should come early, to the Redmond Transit Center (RTC)  in the heart of Redmond and she would pick us up there. So once again we set out to park near Children’s Hospital, but this time, on a weekday, the lots were full. We found a place to leave the car on a residential street north of the hospital, and walked three blocks to the intersection of Sand Point Way and 40th Ave NE. It seemed to take a long time for a bus to arrive, but soon we were on our way to the U of W campus. The bus left us at Rainier Vista, and we started down the path toward the stadium, Montlake Blvd, and Bay # 1.

This was a conundrum. Don had learned that we must take Sound Transit bus #542 to get to the RTC. Sound Transit is not the same as our Seattle Metro. Transfers won’t work, and the information people don’t know much about it. We were told the bus would stop at Bay #1, at the intersection of Montlake and NE Pacific Street, but there are several bus stops at that intersection and no one could tell us where to find Bay #1. Now we know to start from Rainier Vista toward the stadium, but just before reaching the bridge over Montlake Blvd, veer to the right and follow a path down to street level, aiming for a huge black W. Cross NE Pacific Street there, and the three or four bus shelters in a row are all Bay #1.

Where we went wrong: we had seen Bay #4 at the long bus stop on Montlake Blvd across the street from the stadium, and we assumed that the stops marked for buses there would be #s 1, 2, 3, and 4. That was wrong. A passerby told us to walk toward the hospital, and just as we reached Pacific Street, we saw bus #542 pulling away. The light was red for us and the street full of cars. Jumping up and down and waving didn’t impress the driver. By the time we could cross the street, the bus was gone. Buses to Redmond come half an hour apart. We settled in to the first shelter to wait. All together it took one and three quarters hours to get from our house to the RTC, and a few minutes longer to access our daughter-in-law.

For your information, Bay #1 is on the south side of NE Pacific Street; directly across the street is Bay #2, where the 542 Redmond bus returns. Bay #4 is on the west side of Montlake across from the stadium, and Bay #3 is on the east side. Coming home, we could have been taken back to the RTC, taken the 542 bus to Bay #2, walked up past the black W and caught a Metro bus to our car near Children’s–we could have done that, but we didn’t. Our son drove us back to our car, crossing on the new 520 bridge. Next time we visit Redmond, I think we’ll take our own car.

Special to Laurelhurst: these buses (31, 32, 65, 67, and 75) go from Sand Point Way and 40th NE to Rainier Vista on the U of W campus, the drop-off spot for reaching Light Rail and Metro and Sound Transit buses that leave from Bays #1,2,3,and4. The Laurelhurst bus 78 does not stop at Sand Point Way and 40th NE, but it does stop at Rainier Vista. Metro refers to the area around the Light Rail Station and the University Hospital as “University Station.” Of all the printed bus schedules for buses that go to Rainier Vista, none shows a map of University Station. Only the printed schedule for bus 78 has a map of University Station, with all its bays.


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One week after the trips described in the post just before this one, on a Sunday when we had an event at Seattle Center again, we tried again. Left our car near Children’s Hospital again, and waited on the corner of NE 40th and Sand Point Way NE for the #32 bus. It arrived exactly on time. We swiped our ORCA cards, rode past University Village, through the U of W campus, out on 15th NE, down toward Boat Street, wandered through streets paralleling the ship canal, and finally to Fremont. Across the Fremont Bridge, turned west on Nickerson, south on 15th W, up a hill to Mercer, and hopped off at Queen Anne Ave and Mercer Street. Because it had taken us only one hour, we had time to pick up a sandwich at a shop along the way to our event. Coming home, we took the #32 bus again, all the way to Children’s Hospital, one hour, $1 apiece. So the whole trip for the two of us was $4. Could we park at Seattle Center for $4? I doubt it. Maybe public transportation from Laurelhurst works. If you have the time. If it isn’t raining. If you have a car to leave at the bus stop.

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GREAT NEWS! On Saturday, March 19, the light rail stations at the UW Stadium and at Capitol Hill finally opened. Don and I were among the thousands who gathered to celebrate and ride free. We did it all: left our house at the top of the hill and walked down to the Center for Urban Horticulture, walked across the landfill that is now a nature reserve, and made it to the celebration, 2.2 miles. We walked around, talked to different groups about other ways to get to the station, ate fried chicken sandwiches and rode, free and standing up, from UW Stadium to Westlake and then back. (Several people offered us seats in the section for elderly and disabled, but we declined.) Back at UW, we re-traced our steps, across the nature reserve, up the hill that is called “suicide hill” by the athletes who train by running up and down, and home, another 2.2 miles. Altogether 4.4 miles.

Next day, Sunday March 20, we had tickets to a play at the Seattle Center at 2, and there was a Bernie Sanders rally scheduled for that same afternoon, doors opening at 2. We knew parking would be difficult. Time for public transportation!

Don researched the available buses available on Sundays, and found three, the #65, #45, and #32, all stopping at 40th NE and Sand Point Way. We parked our car at noon near Children’s Hospital, and just as we were leaving it we saw a #65 pulling away. OK, two hours until curtain, that should be enough. We waited and waited. Finally a #32 arrived and took us on to the UW campus, $1 each on our senior ORCA cards. It left us at a stop near the HUB, and we walked about two blocks to the next stop at Rainier Vista, which wasn’t marked for a 32 stop. Too bad, because there is a lovely walk from that stop directly to an overpass and into the light rail station. We swiped our ORCA cards, again it was free, and took the elevator down many feet to P, which we decided stands for “Platform.” (There were no explanations for the other abbreviations.)

Once on board the train, we zoomed to Westlake Station once again, walked up three or four flights of stairs to the Monorail ($1 apiece for seniors) and rode sitting down to Seattle Center. We walked through the Armory, cut through several lines of well-behaved citizens waiting to enter the Key Arena, and arrived at our theatre at 1:25. One and a half hours from leaving home to entering the theatre.

When the play was over, we could have re-traced our steps. Instead we decided to take a bus all the way back. We walked to First Ave W, and waited across the street from the post office. There was an unmarked bus parked in front of the arena, no driver in sight. We decided the driver was on a break. While other buses passed, none worked for us. Finally the parked bus started up–it was the #32! Hooray! We hopped on board, swiped our senior ORCA cards ($1) and rode by a very circuitous route north on 15th W to Nickerson, over the Fremont Bridge, up Fremont about one block, and then circling through the residential neighborhoods, the UW campus and finally Sand Point Way, we found our car at Children’s Hospital. Total time for the trip: one hour. Total cost: $1 twice for two bus rides, $1 each for monorail,  $3 apiece for transportation, $6 for two. If we had paid for the light rail, it would have cost $2 more for the two of  us. Could we have found parking at Seattle Center for $8? Possibly for even less.

Now watch for Part 2.




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