Posing Balloons

I love helium balloons. This is not a part of my second childhood, because I never had them in my first childhood. We began buying balloons for the grandchildren, but I’m sure I took more delight in them than they did. This past season I had two for my birthday on December 22nd, and they were banned – BANNED!!!! — for Christmas. And this is from a family that prides itself on celebrating a birthday for a whole month! I enjoyed my marvelous balloons exactly two days before they were removed. In all fairness, I must add that sister Barbara and Thom threw a surprise party for me on the 19th, and it was fantastic. However, the subject here is balloons.

Thank heavens my family is not sadistic and did not demand that I kill the balloons. The floaty objects of joy moved to my bedroom. They kept me company while I used the computer and stood sentinel during the night. The big Christmas tree balloon took over the dining room on Christmas Eve, and it was relegated to the bedroom on New Year’s Eve to make room for the last one of the year. Now I have all four to myself. I enjoy the company, even when they just hang there. It’s fun to walk among them, ducking under two to get to the dresser. When the heat blows, the balloons come alive, dancing on their ribbon tethers. They twirl, bob, nod to each other, and retreat. With a little music, they could be ballroom dancers.

I wanted to pose the balloons for a formal portrait, but the heat was on. The camera called for action, “Video!”

I shall complain no more, because I will keep these balloons until they sink to the floor. It could be days. It could be weeks. Party on!

The Roomba Dance

Roomba and rumba are two different things. Rumba is a dance, but Roomba is a robotic vacuum cleaner that I have drooled over since it was first produced. Being able to flip a switch to make a robot clean the floor is intoxicating to me (my idea of living HIGH). The price was astronomical and is still too expensive for this miser. John saw the box on the shelf at Aldi’s supermarket and said we should try their knock-off. We knew from looking at the box that it was a dusting tool, not a vacuum. Still, I reasoned that having a gadget remove dust under tables and chairs would be a fun thing.

On a day when dog Sadie wasn’t here, I prepared to run it. That’s when the dance began – a dance with music from the kitchen speaker. There were many crumbs on the floor, so I whipped around with the dust buster to remove the big stuff. The dust buster didn’t work well, and I found it was clogged with Christmas tree needles and hair. Clearing that was a slow dance. I turned on the robot and set it loose. If you watch the video, note that two of the percussion sounds were produced by the robot as it hit legs of a table and chair. This was interactive cleaning at its best.

The idea behind the robot was brilliant. It moved in a straight line until it ran into something and changed directions. That’s when I began a really fast dance. To keep it from going into the living room, I jumped over it and stood in the doorway. It lumbered back toward the stools, and I jerked them out of the way. Oops! It got caught among the kitchen chairs, which I shuffled away. Its profile was so low that it went under the platform holding up the table. Great! Thinking ahead, I pulled up wires going to the lamp and chargers. I sprang in the doorway to the hall, guiding the robot back to the kitchen. Thankfully the robot cut itself off, not a minute too soon. It may have used up its charge, or a tiny pebble may have locked one wheel. My frenetic Roomba dance was over for the day. I found I have a limited amount of energy for this labor-saving device.

Decline Documented

I privately lamented the loss of my brain due to a bad cold. I searched for words and hit a blank wall. Mixed up dates were the new norm. I failed to put necessary items on the shopping list. I knew you by face/name, but I couldn’t remember when I last talked to you. Like the flaky taste buds, the brain seemed to work every other day. I played a game on my phone that I win 99% of the time, and I couldn’t get past the initial moves. Hours later I could win steadily. I wasn’t overly concerned until the sock incident. Now this post could be the first recording of Alzheimer’s disease for me, although I spelled that name correctly without help.

Yesterday I looked for a pair of socks I knew I had worn. They were not near shoes, not on the bed, not in the laundry basket, not in the bathroom, and not anywhere logical. My eyes happened to land on the wastebasket, filled with tissues. There, tucked carefully to one side, were my socks. I have thrown socks away when they were beyond redemption, but I remembered when and why. You might try to comfort me that it was the middle of the night, but I know my brain was AWOL. Away! Gone! Recording turned off!!

I am on high alert to notice these periods of blankness, and I’ll forgive my family for watching me closely.

Amusement While Walking (AWW)

Neighbor Beth wished us a Happy New Year from the open window of her car. It was unusually warm for a winter’s day. Five degrees warmer, and we would have eaten on the porch! The next person to pass said a pleasant good morning through his open window. We responded in kind. John, ever attentive to car tags (license plates), saw the orange color as the car rolled past and called out, “A NEW YORKER!”

The man heard him. Suddenly his head emerged from the window and turned around completely to face us. “IT’S A RENTAL!!!!” We erupted in laughter as the head disappeared and a hand came out to wave enthusiastically. We waved back, hoping to prove to all that it was a friendly interchange. [For anyone who doesn’t know, John was born in Brooklyn and raised in Queens. He lived most of his live on Long Island.]

When to Declare Yourself Cured

I discovered that declaring yourself free of a bad cold is not as easy as it sounds. What do you do with the lingering cough and constant need of tissues? Craving extra sleep at night AND a nap in the afternoon are not indicators that all is well. I couldn’t answer the question, “Why am I able to taste food only every other day?” Senses that come and go made no sense. Tasteless comments about food were becoming old.

I’m here to tell you that, after much home research, I now have the answer. Well, it works for me. The definitive test involves a vaporizing rub. Your brand might be Vick’s, but mine is a miser’s knockoff. Take the cap off, get your nose as close as possible without infecting the contents, and take a deep sniff. If you can smell it, you are good to go. I still cannot smell it; therefore, I am not cured. The active ingredients are Camphor, Eucalyptus Oil, and Menthol. If you cannot register any of those odoriferous ingredients, you should not be mingling with other human beings. Unfortunately, my family is stuck with me, and they have nowhere else to go.

Before I discovered this over-the-cold test, I went out with John and grandson David, hunting a waterfall. We drove to the other side of Asheville to Old Fort to see Catawba Falls. The parking lot was upgraded only a year or so ago, and the trail is now open to the public. The walk was easy until we came to a major stream across the path. People were taking two routes – one involved a huge step and scooting on one’s bum across a slanted boulder before walking on fallen trees. The other route involved good balance, where you needed to leap nimbly across rounded stones that were not very close together. John told David to go on, that he would stay with me while David explored. Despite being there for a long time, I took only one photo to show my watery stopping place. The trail shows in the upper part of the picture. The logs people walked on are on the right, and the leaping stones are across the middle. Just on the other side of those stones was a cascade where the water fell several feet. On a summer day one might risk stepping in water up to the ankle, but I deemed it too cold to risk having wet feet for an hour or so.

Stream across the trail

I picked one photo to keep from David’s collection showing Catawba Falls. It was lovely, and I’m sure it had a wonderful sound in person. I’m content with having heard a video of it on line.

Catawba Falls

Being not cured of a cold, I overrode David’s request to go to a German restaurant in Black Mountain. I wouldn’t have been able to taste the food. We went to “FRESH – Wood-fired Pizza” that son John $pencer and Rose took me to for a birthday present. With the generous help of red pepper flakes, I was guaranteed to taste the pizza. Now back to serious, recuperative naps.

Well Enough to Write about It

Due to one horrendous head cold, the new year did not start for me until Epiphany (January 6). It all began with a bit of chest congestion, resulting in discrete coughs at the New Year’s Eve party. It fooled nobody.

My head filled up with fluid, which I do not have to describe. You’ve all been there. Eyeballs seemed twice their usual size and squeezed out tears that ran down my face. That pressure, of course, caused the brain to go totally stupid for days on end. The periods of waking were scattered throughout daylight and darkness. Explosive sneezes, properly focused, could have tunneled through a North Carolina mountain. Amplified coughs would have made an excellent fog horn on the coast. My lungs produced sounds like an out-of-tune calliope. I could have played a very sad tune with them.

John was smart. (Say in a posh English accent), “He went to his club for the duration.” The train club in Tennessee was already on the calendar, but he was fortunate to miss the worst of my debilitation.

There was measurable progress when I moved the tissue box from my lap and would venture five feet away from it. The brain was what I missed most. It finally went from the speed of stupid to merely “slow”. When I considered myself almost well, I lost cream cheese I took out of the refrigerator. I left Greek yogurt in the laundry room, rescued by John.

Grandson David did what he could to help, but he was working most of the time. It was son John $pencer who took care of me and kept the household running during the worst of this monster cold. He cooked for himself and David, and he kept the kitchen clean. Marvelous! I have only one photo to show for it. $ made himself and me a breakfast burrito that was hearty, attractive, and good for us. He knew I couldn’t taste it at all, but it did clear my sinuses for a while!

I lost a week, but that’s not all I lost! I now weigh less than at the beginning of Fat Season (Thanksgiving through January 1). Don’t get excited; it was ounces, not pounds. Considering I usually gain five pounds in that period, I’m way (weigh) ahead of the game this year.

The day I figured I would survive, I saw a lovely bow in the sky. There was neither rain nor snow where I was standing, but the sun shone on clouds to make a rainbow or snowbow.

Sweet Moment of 2019

Our dear neighbors came to see in the new year with us. We enjoy the easy conversation and teasing when this group gets together. I laughed when I looked at the quick snaps. Although the photographic quality was poor, I could mentally draw a line through the room separating the men and women. Everyone joined in, so that arbitrary line did not separate us.

This was the first year that neighbor Logan (9) stayed up until midnight with us. He was absorbed in his new tablet and seemed to delight in sharing it with grandson David. We appreciated David’s spending a great deal of time with him. The camera caught a sweet moment to end the year.