ALMOST NORMAL by Beth Rankin

ALMOST NORMAL by Beth Rankin

                   BETH RANKIN

ALMOST NORMAL! It’s been about 5.5 weeks since my total knee replacement December 4 and I will see the surgeon on Monday for a post-op appointment. I have some expectations and hopes for that visit. The primary issue is will I get permission to get back into our hot tub?

We purchased an inflatable hot tub almost two years ago. We discovered how helpful sitting in the hot tub could be back in 2007 when Graham was on sabbatical in Pueblo, Colorado and the apartment complex had a hot tub next to the pool. We learned that the heat eased sore muscles and joints and improved nighttime relaxation and better sleeping. Although we were in Colorado from January 1 through June 30, the hot tub was available, even in the winter when the pool was closed. It was about 200 yards from our apartment door. We’d get into our bathing suits, put on our terry cloth bathrobes and some slippers and walk over. Chilly, but bearable. Getting out and back into the warm apartment after the soak was more of a challenge. I discovered that there seemed to be an envelope of warm air around my body for a very short time when I exited the hot tub. Getting the bathrobe on during that time was mandatory! Then put the cover back on the hot tub and high-tail it back home.

Our apartment was in the building on the right side, so not too far, except when it was five degrees.

The photo viewpoint is from the kitchen door, so you see how much shorter the after-tub commute became.

We agreed if we ever should be lucky enough to have a hot tub it would be right by the door to the house. And so, about a year later, we found ourselves building an enclosed screen porch on the back of our house in West Virginia. The tub sat on a concrete pad on the ground and the floor of the porch was built around the tub. We stepped down into the spa and Graham installed a handicap pull bar to help any of us climb back up and out. The walk to the kitchen door was maybe ten feet, very easy even in the winter.

But then, we moved to Oregon where we are renting a house. I was missing the evening soak time. My joints ached more and so, a friend a friend suggested an inflatable. We bought a Coleman hot tub from about $450 the first year but after they replaced one filter/motor, when that failed within a few months, they would not replace it. We searched but could not purchase a new filter alone. So we bought another inflatable for about $250. Watch for sales!!!!

The inflatable works for us. It runs on 110 household current so we did not have to install a new 220 line into the house. That saved us some money for me; I don’t use the jets.

So, the last time I was in the hot tub was the morning before my knee surgery. After that I was restricted from “swimming, hot tubs, saunas” and a few other wet activities. One concern is infection through the suture site. That is well healed now, so should no longer be a factor.

But, and this is a big issue. I need to be able to get myself out of the hot tub safely. First, I need to be able to swing my leg over the height of the wall. It is an inflatable so not rigid, and if I touch it, it will bend. Graham built me a contraption with two posts and a rope so I had something to proper height for practice. That was not difficult to gain the movement I needed.

However, I need to get up off my butt. The inflatable hot tub does not have the molded seats a regular fiberglass hot tub offers; we sit on the padded bottom. So, I need to be able to stand up without the need for a block and tackle. Simple, eh? Well, no. As my knee issue got worse and started involving my pelvis and hips last summer, Graham installed a handicapped handrail on the post holding the roof over the tub. (You thought we sit in the hot water with the cold winter rain falling on us????? Come on!) That rail helped me, but I was able to get on my knees before the surgery. Now, not a comfortable position. So, after think and thinking about it, I tried a few times at home.Now, in order to do a task that is difficult, the easiest way to figure out how to manage the move is to figure out the physics of it to maximize the strength while minimizing effort. I didn’t take physics in high school and until now, I figured the computer science class I took instead was an excellent substitute. But now, more than 45 years after that class decision in high school. I was trying to figure how to fulcrum me up and out…..hmmmm.

Physical therapists are special people. Maybe a tad masochistic as they push their patients through pain to improvement, generally they are upbeat, optimistic and very much enjoy challenges like this. So this morning at Physical Therapy I sat on the floor next to a table that had been lowered to the height I needed and it only took two times to conquer the move. I know I can get up now! No block and tackle needs to be ordered. LOL

On Monday I will go to the surgeon’s appointment prepared to show him I have the safety issue covered. And if I need to wait, I will wait….but I am betting on hot tub Monday evening!!!

[Beth Rankin is an entrepreneur, writer, and raconteur. She lives with her husband Graham (and their hot tub) in McMinnville, Oregon.]

REALLY? YOU THINK IT’S A JOKE? by Beth Rankin

REALLY? YOU THINK IT’S A JOKE? by Beth Rankin

I’ve never been a light hearted soul….things just are not right so much of the time that it concerns me.

That’s not to say I’m not a happy person or enjoy a good laugh. I AM a happy person who is pretty positive but I don’t laugh easily. Most of the time, it seems that things other people think are funny just don’t hit me the same way.

Recently, in an effort to still try to talk to people who have viewpoints on the conservative end of the spectrum I have begun to respond to comments they make, particularly if the reaction of their other friends is laughter and the issue is not funny to me. If the meme or comment is a putdown, so the joke is at someone’s expense, I am the stick in the mud who points out that it is not funny. That perhaps they forgot to pull on their Christian compassion before making fun of someone. (I only say that because they post a lot of Bible quotes and also how important it is that Jesus is in their lives.)

Generally, my comments are not appreciated. No surprise there. Someone who uses humor at other people’s expense generally is not comfortable being told, even when calmly and with quiet language, that their choice of words is not healthy. I suppose it is only a matter of time until I am unfriends. Not a biggie, but it will be sad because the more we stop talking to each other, the sooner we will forget we have more commonalities than differences.

Being told to “lighten up, it’s only a joke” is something I’ve lived with. My last blog I told about my husband. This time, the story is about my second husband.

Before I go further I want to say this marriage produced two beautiful children who are now healthy adults, participating in society and enjoying life. Despite all the angst that resulted in that marriage I would never say or feel it never should have happened. I am blessed to have those children.

The differences between that man and me, our views on what life can be and our ways of aiming for our goals were very clear. Still, I can appreciate a few things he gave me that were gifts of insight I never would have made because I just did not think the same way.

For example, when my dad had been living with Parkinson’s disease for ten years and no one would talk about it, he called us out on it.

For example, I had been fighting my naturally curly hair all my life trying to make it straight and he suggest I get it cut well so it would be acceptable to me.

For example, when he asked me if I like to dance and when I said yes, pulled over to the curb and pulled me out to dance to the radio on the grass.

But those were few and far between. Life with him was usually off kilter at best and downright fearful of what I might find when I cam home when things were at the worst.

See, he is mentally ill. His diagnosis has changed over time but he never worked to “get better” because he argued the therapists wanted him to change. Well, duh. What you’re doing is not working Maybe a change would be a good idea?

And his favorite expression, after he would denigrate me was “I’m only joking.” Sorry, forgot to laugh. In fact, instead of not laughing I had to work hard to stay calm because of his fragile mental state.

It was clear that he thought only of himself and how the world revolved around him. He is unchanged to this day.

Now, I do not know this Facebook friend well enough to know if she also has some issues so making jokes like that helps her cope. No idea. But I won’t stay silent. I will not be, nor will I permit someone to be, the butt of a joke.

I read something else today on Facebook, also from a person whom I don’t really know. But I do know one of her adult children and that gives me a lot of insight about her. She noted that in times of recent crises we saw people ignore any political, religious, or racial differences and just pull together to help each other. She suggested we live this way.

 

Think about how much better we would be if Congress, for example, sat down and “Yes, too many innocents are being killed. Let’s talk together to see if something we who have the power can do to make this country safer.”

How much better we all would be if instead of saying it is their own fault, that we pitch in to work with the homeless to provide safe housing and health care for what ails them.

How much better we all would be if we all could have a living wage with a 40-hour job. Then we could afford housing, put food on the table, and not have to run from our issues into drugs or booze.

How much better we all would be if we all could teach how to earn instead of how to pass a test. If we could all understand that not everyone is going to make an A and perhaps there are other skills the ones who have trouble in school could handle well.

How much better we all would be if we decided on what we wanted to be when we grew up and didn’t have to pay for the education to attain that for the rest of our lives.

How much better we all could be if we stopped putting other people down. If we chose to recognize when someone makes us uncomfortable it is a learning opportunity, not a joke–and continue the discussion.

I’VE ALWAYS WONDERED by Beth Rankin

I’VE ALWAYS WONDERED by Beth Rankin

Beth

I’ve always wondered how people going through an upheaval actually emotionally dealt with the hardship of seeing their world as they knew it collapse and assume there was nothing they could do but hold on and ride the waves.

Sort of how it feels now.

U S CAPITOL BUILDING

 

  • We have two unstable national leaders playing a game of chicken.
  • We have a Congress that seems to forget who put them there.
  • We have a series of natural events coming fast and furious with hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires needing attention.
  • We have a huge segment of our population who is hiding as much as they can, not earning a living, because they are on a list to be removed and sent away.
  • We have Germany perhaps having their first elected fascists since the destruction of the Third Reich coming this weekend.
  • We have Britain’s Prime Minister trying to delay the departure from the European Union because since the vote more people know it’s a bad idea.
  • We have the US involved in wars We the People know little about.
  • We have military veterans coming home in emotional states that clearly show that war is hell and they were not prepared for it.
  • We have a segment of our population who seem to think they are above average while they line up with the rest of the sheep to support the 1%.
  • We have two major political parties that are dysfunctional and do not remember that this nation’s Constitution begins with “We the People.”

I could go on and on.

So, I have always loved to read and reading fictionalized or nonfiction accounts of how individuals live through a major crisis has given me concepts to consider.

  1. The Scout Motto, Be Prepared, makes sense. Have skills and equipment that will help survival opportunities improve.
  2. While Preppers may have the message right, it seems difficult to store 3 or more months of food, water and other supplies. Many of us can at least have a supply of food for two weeks in our homes. I know many people who don’t keep a “pantry” with some staples. Time to wake up, everyone. It does not take a war to have an emergency when stores will not be supplied with your favorite treats. All it takes is a storm and a loss of electricity. A highway blocked. A bridge too unsafe to cross.
  3. Start thinking NOW about how you will prepare food if there is no power.
  4. Make sure you also store water, toilet paper, medicines, and first aid supplies.
  5. I don’t need to tell you to store your weapon and ammo, but people, remember safety especially if there are children around.
  • Build a network of people you can trust. These are people who have complementary skills and common goals.
  1. So many people have no close friends and are estranged from their families because of emotional battles that may truly be pretty insignificant if you thought about it dispassionately. Time to try to heal those wounds. 
  • As the Governors of several states have recently done during hurricanes, martial law will most likely will be imposed.
  1. Recognize that the Internet and our cell phones most likely will stop communication; we’ll have to resort to meeting with people face to face and talking.
  2. ATMs will not be accessible and banks will be closed. Money will not be the currency of trade.
  3. Most likely  there will be restrictions on movement. Gas will be in short supply and expensive.

Now, I sure hope saner heads will prevail in this building concern with North Korea. We will not do well with a nuclear war.

I hope We the People have a better memory in the next election and actually participate and vote to remove Congressional representatives who fail at their job. No one should be returned to office who has not demonstrated their responsiveness to their constituents.

I hope anyone in places where there can be warning of a coming devastation like a wildfire or a hurricane can calmly and safely get their loved ones to safety. As hard as it is to lose “everything,” no matter how precious they are, they are THINGS. You can rebuild.

I hope people in places where devastation has occurred can remember they are part of the Family Of Man and will open their homes to provide shelter and sustenance to people who have lost everything.

I hope you feel compelled to speak to your morals and ethics when others are showing their fear in hatred to a minority. When we remain silent, perhaps out of fear that we will also be attacked, we condone the attack.

I hope you know firsthand how cooperating with others may not bring you the riches you dream of, but allows you “enough” as well as the ability to understand we each need “enough.”

I pray that any loved one serving in the military comes home safe and sound, and if not, you stay patient to give them the succor they require. As difficult as it is to lose the someone you knew to an altered person, love can help bring them around. A sense of trust and safety can provide the way.

I urge you to start digging a bit deeper from information that shapes your opinions. So many of us do NOT read across the spectrum nor any news sources form overseas, but those are the only ways you can know if the information you are being fed is accurate. Also, if what you are reading is using inflammatory language, if the article tells you what to think, it is an editorial, not a news article. News articles must explain who, what, why, where and how and leave you thinking.

As for the political parties, the ONLY way we can gain change is for everyone to get involved. Simple. And please realize that the place your voice REALLY counts is on the local level. You want to see changes, get involved in your town.

[Beth Rankin lives with her husband Graham in McMinnville, Oregon. She is the publisher and editor of “Going Places–Living Life” and “Can-Do Zero Waste.” This editor and his wife had the distinct pleasure of spending a few days with the Rankins during a recent trip through the far western and northern United States.]

 

HOW TO SAY THANK YOU by Beth Rankin

HOW TO SAY THANK YOU by Beth Rankin

BETH RANKIN

Someone died. And I got a cornea to fix a vision problem.

Each of us has the opportunity to think ahead to a possible situation where we might not be able to live, but can donate parts of our own bodies that can make someone else’s life better. Thinking this way does not make your death happen. It makes a precious gift happen if and when. What a legacy. Go this website if you already do not have it marked on your driver’s license.

Years ago I lost a husband to brain cancer. At the time the “shit hit the fan” I was quietly told by the neuro-oncologist that we had three to five years. Well, he lived ten years and the doctor really had no idea how. The last MRI, done about eighteen months before his death, showed that this incurable cancer had not grown. For some reason, his brain chemistry caused it to act differently. It was that summer I decided and got things in place to donate his brain when the time came. Heading to a neurological research program, perhaps whatever he had in his brain chemistry could be identified and help someone else. I wanted to make lemonade out of the very sour lemon we had been given.

Perhaps this concept is not so hard for me because I appreciate the sentiment of Thanksgiving. While I don’t count my blessings daily, I give thanks after we return to our driveway after a road trip, when we have a good day at the farmers’ market, when one of my kids has a wonderful achievement. Thank you. Thank you Lord. Thank you God. Thank you Man in the Moon. It doesn’t matter who receives your thanks. It’s recognition that we are not alone. And the One who is honored hears it all.

Being part of society means I choose to be active. I offer skills and energy within my capability to issues I feel are important. As I age perhaps the working parts are not as usable to someone else as if I had died early.

But letting them harvest whatever can be used is one more way I can give back to my community.

When we feel this connection to others, our world is safer. When we feel we can have an impact, our world works smoother.

[Beth Rankin, entrepreneur, business woman, social activist, lives with her husband Graham in McMinnville, Oregon. She is a frequent contributor to Columnist with a View. The bulk of her writing can be found at:  www.goingplaceslivinglife. This article appeared in the July 23, 2017 issue. <comment-reply@wordpress.com>]

ALL THAT IS NEW….by Beth Rankin

ALL THAT IS NEW….by Beth Rankin

BETH RANKIN

Yesterday I realized that I have not written anything on this blog for about a month. Just now “what” to write hit me, thanks to a conversation on Facebook. No, for a change, this will NOT be about politics.

It is about my new life as a pothead. Well, actually not quite a pothead. One of my Oregon friends thinks I may be the only cannabis user in Oregon who is not driving under the influence. This may (does) have its pleasurable effects, but this is not a recreational activity for me.

I was a senior in high school when someone close to me (who will remain nameless and blameless) introduced me to weed. That definitely was recreational.

In college the drug of choice was booze and that was illegal enough thank you. But I was an RA and would knock on the doors of the rooms where smoking was obviously happening and instruct them on how to use a wet towel. That was definitely pro-user activity.

In the late-1970s I lived in a city in the South and a friend invited me to his family’s home to watch Superman when it was first shown on HBO. He lit up a joint and offered it to me. I enjoyed the show and I don’t remember if I was uncomfortable driving home after, but since there is no memory about it, it must have been fine.

In the mid-1980s a friend a I went on a weekend getaway to her family’s vacation home in New England without any husbands or kids. Another friend handed me a small gift, as it was my birthday and told me to open it when we got to our destination. Inside a Sucrets lozenge box, several joints. It was a chocolate weekend.

That is not all, but the gist of my prior life with pot. Not regular at all. Never enjoyed when responsible sobriety was needed. Definitely recreational. 

Since then I heard sometimes that people with cancer smoked marijuana and it helped. It helped with nausea was one thing and when we were dealing with nausea from chemo issues in the 1990s, the meds the doctor gave took care of it, so no need to search out the underground market…probably available next door, right?

And then we moved to Oregon and they already had medicinal cannabis. The dispensaries were established and things were regulated. The referendum for recreational use passed with 56% of the votes. I suspect there were as many “yes” votes among the Baby Boomers as there were in the Millennials.

The legal requirements for legal grow operations, laboratories for testing, kitchens for preparing edibles, and shops for selling had to be worked out, so it took over a year after the law was passed before the recreational shops were open.

Today, some shops sell only recreational pot. Some sell only to people who have medical cannabis cards. Some sell both rec and medical. The medical side has different record-keeping to meet the legal requirements of that early law. I prefer to go to a dispensary that sells both as I am, at this point in my life, using the cannabis to help a medical condition.

 

 

I have not asked my doctor for a medical card. It is at least a 3-step process including an appointment with another doctor and can cost $800 altogether for people like me (not a veteran, on disability and elderly–I’m too young. LOL) The benefit: no sales tax. In Oregon we do not have a sales tax…except on recreational marijuana. (It probably was THIS benefit to the state financial coffers that convinced the “weed is evil” side to vote yes. After all, they can enjoy thinking the stoners are paying for their sin.)

Since I do not use a lot of pot over the year a card would be valid, I did not think the little bit of additional in tax would offset the fees.

 

 

So when I realized the last bit of canna butter was used up, it was time to go purchase something. Asking three different friends which dispensary they preferred gave me three places to check out. (There are about eight within ten miles, but only one state-run liquor store. The dispensaries were not really busy while that liquor store is always crowded.)

Anyone my age who purchased weed in the 70s and the early 80s purchased a sandwich bag (ounce) for $10. The pot in late 1970 was $40 for the baggie and was a strain known as Acapulco Gold. The baggies had leaf, stems, and generally some seeds.

Now you can buy seeds, you can buy bud, sometimes you can buy leaf (shake), you can buy pre-rolls. You can buy extract, you can buy creams and salves. You can buy candy. You can buy infused products like tea or oil. The bud is the most popular. The strains sell for about $200-400 an ounce (that sandwich baggie) so most people buy a few grams, sort of like heading to the store for a six-pack.

Me, I bought half an ounce. I prepared the canna butter yesterday and the gingered pear bars are out of the oven now, aroma wafting through the house.

Why do I turn to cannabis? Two reasons:

Simply, I am in pain almost all the time now. My stupid ski accident at age 19 was exacerbated by the bacterial memingitis I worked through about fifteen years ago. The pain in the knee started the next year and the doctor assured me it was “only” arthritis. For years Advil was my help. Then I switched to glucosamine in all its combinations. When we moved here almost four years ago, I started getting acupuncture and that helped me be pain-free for ten days. But last June I twisted my knee and have minor meniscus and ACL involvement. Two doctors say it is “only” arthritis. But a year later, I am not back to where I was before the knee twist and now having sympathetic pain on my other leg because of my screwed up gait. Again, if you are about my age, you may be feeling some joints now, too. I hope not.

Second, my asthma. I have been concerned with the Congressional shenanigans. I promised it will NOT be a political rant, but I feel I’ve been on the “am I going to die because I can’t afford medical insurance” roller coaster. My two medications that help me breathe cost $1000 a month out-of-pocket. Simply can’t do that. Can’t afford it. And THEN I started hearing how inhaling pot helps asthma. That’s insane! People with lung disease like asthma can not smoke!!! That’s why I make edibles. Smoke pot to help me breathe? Yes, it dilates the bronchi; in fact, I read a medical research extract dumbed down for non-medical readers that said it was the THC specifically that helps the deeper sections of lung dilate also.

Being Oregon, I got into a short discussion about pot at the UFO Festival in May. The guy handed me a joint, telling me it will help. (Yes, I love Oregon). Over three days I tested the concept and, yes, within a short time I could draw a deep breath without any “pulling” tightness. The next morning, still good.

Then my friends stepped in with their recommendations. One vapes. One gave me a bong. Decision made.

So, why did I write this? Because medical marijuana is available in twenty-nine states, while recreational pot can be (or will be able to be once they get it set up) in eight states. And, of course, your neighbor still buys his from his co-worker’s cousin, just like he always has. In other words, marijuana is around you.

And, yes, there are people smoking to get high or stoned. Just like there are people getting drunk or pissed on booze. And just as others seek their escape in street drugs.

But there are more people of all ages using the beneficial aspects of cannabis for a medical reason.