LOCAL NEWS FROM UXBRIDGE! – Marilyn Armstrong

So what have I been doing with myself? It certainly hasn’t been creative writing or photography. Mostly, it has been medical. Yesterday, I spent the day with the valve specialist and got the best news of the month. My heart is doing well, exceptionally well considering how bad it was when they worked on it five years ago.  It’s pumping, the valve is working like a new valve should. My bypass is open and moving and the pacemaker is working fine.

I wanted to know why I am so exhausted and he said whatever it is, it’s NOT your heart because that’s fine. Which brings me back to arthritis and my spine. It’s the same old story which, I guess, will never end. I frequently need to remind myself that no matter how miserable my busted spine and arthritis make me feel, they are not going to kill me. Also, the rest of the exhaustion probably is the fibromyalgia which is acting up for no known reason.

That’s the thing about fibro. There’s never a reason why it does what it does. There are no tests for it, no medication that works. You can’t even get a proper diagnosis because there isn’t any except the intuition of your doctor. There’s a definite link between arthritis and fibro … as well as rheumatoid arthritis and Lupus. But what the link is, exactly, no one knows.

It’s hard to diagnose and essentially impossible to treat. Nothing seems to make it better, but a lot of stuff can make it worse.

To keep myself functional, I’ve been trying to get more sleep, to not push myself when I’m already tired … and keep my feet up because the swelling in my feet and ankles is apparently a side-effect of one of the blood pressure medications I take. And no, I can’t change medications because these are working really well and when the meds are working, you don’t change them so your ankles will look better.

I did want to know if there was any chance I could get a more modern pacemaker. Mind you, they have not improved the functionality of the pacemaker. They are still exactly the same. What they are improving are the cases, making them thinner, non-magnetic and more appropriate for a woman’s body. Mine is so big I can feel the wires.

But changing pacemakers isn’t a minor thing. It’s a life-endangering issue, so unless it stops working, I keep this one. With this one — which is magnetic — I can’t have an MRI. I hope I don’t need one!

Despite the downers, most of the news is good. Mainly, my heart is working and my son is lucky he didn’t inherit it.

Other stuff? We’re now in the pricing new gutters for the house. The ones we have were improperly installed and have never worked. I’ve known that for more than 15 years, but it never occurred to me that a lot of the rot on the house is because of those non-working gutters.

LeafGuard wanted more than $7000 for new ones. $7000? Seriously?

The actual real-life prices are closer to $1100 to $1400, which I think we can manage. The back door will have to wait for warm weather to come around again, but if I can get the gutters up before winter, we might be saved from the giant ice dams of winter and a lot less rot!

Our house, some snow, and the fence …

If you live in a warm climate, you might not know that one of those big ice dams can weigh hundreds of pounds. If one clunks you on the head, you might not wake up. We had a friend die of a falling ice dam and he was born and raised around here, so he knew better. There’s something irresistible about trying to knock down those ice dams. It’s stupid and damages your roof, but people still do it.

I’m still trying to decide whether or not to change insurance providers. Tufts, the most popular (with good reason) has none of our doctors in its plan, so they are out. That leaves Blue Cross (which we have) or HarvardPilgrim. Both are good. Blue Cross is a little bit less money but offers fewer other “advantages. Harvard Pilgrim pays you for more of your tooth stuff and also for eyeglasses. Also, they actually will pay for inhalers.

But if I change plans, we get into trying to move my medical records. This ought not to be such a big deal, but because every hospital and medical group has its own plan and its own software and doesn’t mesh with anything else. When you’ve had a lot of surgery and transplants and all that stuff, you wind up with pounds of records. I have a crate full of my medical records which I keep in the car because who know who will want to see them? And there’s a lot of stuff NOT in there, too. All the information from when I lived in Israel and before that, in New York (before computers, too). So much stuff, I don’t remember a lot of it.

I’m thinking about it. Not an easy decision.

Meanwhile …

On one side of our loveseat, there are three tables. One holds a very small lamp that’s almost always on. The middle one used to be part of my bedroom set, but moved to the living room when it didn’t fit in the bedroom. It’s really ugly, one handle is missing, and it’s covered with bills that need paying, others that need filing, miscellaneous odds and ends for which I have no “home” –my extra eyeglasses and all the paperwork for medical plans I am fully intending to read. Any day now.

The final table is empty. That’s where I put my computer. I have a lapdesk to work on, but when I move the computer, that is its home. It’s an old piece and if I refinished it, it might actually be quite nice, but right now, it’s just old and worn out.

To find an affordable table that’s 48 inches long, about 16 or 17 inches deep and standard table height has turned out to be a challenge. I think I’ll wait until spring and do yard sales when everyone is trying to get rid of their old stuff.

For reasons I find incomprehensible, everyone is selling “retro” television platforms that are exactly the right size. The problem is, these were ugly when they first came out. I’m betting they’ve been warehoused since the mid-fifties and someone said: “Hey, let’s make some more money, call them “retro” and sell them now. Retro is very “in” these days, right?” They are truly unattractive.

If that’s my choice, what I’ve got is already unattractive — and I own it, so it’s free. If ugly is what is available, I guess that’s the way it’ll be. These are the days when I wish I had some carpentry skills. I could just build a box of the right size, throw a cover over it and VOILA!

Maybe a few wooden crates?

UXBRIDGE IN AUTUMN – Garry Armstrong

Autumn Leaves in Downtown Uxbridge – October 24, 2019

I went out to pick up some pita to go with the hummus Marilyn was making. But I asked if it was okay if I borrowed her little Leica. Naturally, she gave it to me.

It was so beautiful out there I couldn’t stop taking pictures until the battery died. I could have put in another battery, but it was getting dark and I’d been gone for hours. Marilyn didn’t even ask where I’d been. She figured I took a camera, so I was taking pictures. So she got to refill the bird feeders, make dinner, clean the deck, figure out what to write and then I’d come home with a couple of hundred pictures. Which she would process.

I pointed out it was her fault. I didn’t take pictures until she stuck a camera in my hands and said “Shoot something. Don’t just stand there.” Who knew I’d get so addicted?

Marilyn knew and she knows I want that Leica. I absolutely assured her I didn’t really want the Leica, just to borrow it. She pointed out that the Leica was her “take everywhere” camera. On the upside, I can see in her eyes a new little camera taking shape. There are just a few other things that need to get done first. Like new gutters, a repaired back door. A camera is not currently on the agenda.

But the Leica is such a pleasure to use.

I took a few pictures.

The first Quaker Meetinghouse, built 1770. It’s at the corner of our road and Route 146A. It has no heating system, so it isn’t used much except for weddings or other events.

IT’S GLOWING TODAY BUT TOMORROW, THE RAIN WILL COME – Marilyn Armstrong

Driving home from River Bend, I was still — after all these years — breathless at how beautiful this area is. It’s love at the river and even in town, but as you turn down our street, it’s just so much color, it’s hard to even absorb it.

I didn’t think there were any more pictures to take, but the trees are much brighter today than they were yesterday. The maple is redder and the yellow has turned to deep orange. The yellow just makes your eys go “pop.”

Looking south on Aldrich Street

Down the driveway

Northbound on Aldrich Street

Maple in front of the house

I had to take a few more pictures. By then I was so tired, I could barely stand up, but I did it anyway because Autumn doesn’t come every year and rarely looks as glorious as it did today!

Upward from the house to the road

Bright yellow maple

Behind the green lawns, a tractor is on the way

I bought a new pair of Minnetonka little shoes AND I bought them half a size too big so there would be room for socks. And they wouldn’t fit. I finally realized my feet were so swollen from all the walking, I just stuck a pair of shoe trees in them and went back to socks. They ALWAYS stretch. I’m fondly hoping that those suede Minnetonka’s will stretch too!

AHOY AND AHEAD – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Ahead

We got a notice from our BOA branch, which is right next door to our grocery store that they are closing the bank. This is a total pain in the butt and basically means, unless we can bank in Rhode Island while living in Massachusetts (not always easy or even possible), that we should change banks.

You cannot begin to imagine how much I don’t want to change banks. It isn’t that I have some fierce loyalty to BOA. I don’t. They’ve never done me a favor and basically, I don’t like them. But they are very convenient — or until now, have been very convenient. And I have ALL my payments lined up with them so I have very little to do on a monthly basis. Which is good because I’m not a great money-tender.

There are other banks in town, but not many and I’m more than a little dubious about them. The rest are all at least 15 to 20 miles away … or more. So we are off to the bank to try and see what we can work out. IF we can bank in the nearest town with a full-service bank (North Slaterville, RI) and keep the rest of the arrangement, I’m okay with that. If not, we have to start setting up at another — probably equally inconvenient bank — then move all of our electronic deposits to the new bank, get new cars, set up all those payments again. Not a thrilling prospect.

JUST when you think you’ve simplified your life, it comes around again. So first, we’ll go in, make a deposit (it’s cash — I do NOT do cash in an ATM!), talk to the manager (who’s main favor to us was giving me a fabulous recipe for making homemade (cheap and delicious) humous.

Then, to the dam in the middle of town and maybe up to River Bend for some pictures before this glorious Autumn ends, It’s at peak now, so it’ll just be a few more days before it starts downhill to November, which is its own sort of Autumn — the bronze age, as it were — and finally, real winter by the middle of December — if it doesn’t snow first.

So once again, it’s another one of those weeks. Doctor appointments (two of them, both mine) and the “gutter repair” people (tomorrow — they are having a sale and maybe, just maybe, we can get ONE more thing done before the snow flies. Which could literally be any day now. We have had pretty heavy snowfall as early as September. Last year, it didn’t show up until my birthday in March, but after that, we were in it to our asses until May!

I’ll do the best I can to be here, but I can’t believe I’m supposed to be retired.

I am moving ahead. Ahoy there world — this elderly lady is dashing around trying to keep her life, such as it is, on track.

I have to point out to the bank and Garry and I are 149 years old. We deserve a break!

THE MAPLE TREE IN THE FRONT YARD – Marilyn Armstrong

MORE AUTUMNAL COLORS!

It’s a lot harder to get the colors right on the photograph that one might think. Especially the reds. They may look like red to your eyes, but to the camera, they appear closer to bronze-brown. The problem is that leaves are a mix of colors, including more orange than red and a sizable dollop of yellow and magenta.

I took a bunch of pictures and I spent hours trying to make the colors look the way they looked to me. They don’t exactly, but they are close. Regardless, they are as close as I could get them.

My house with its maple tree. I couldn’t get the red correct without making the house look really strange. Sorry about that.

Much closer, but still more orange than red. Pretty, though.

This is relatively accurate, though the reds are a bit too orangy.

Still maple. Maybe a bit more red?

This is close to the real color, but it blocked out all the other colors!

This may be the closest to the real color. Not as dark a red color, but the range of colors is right.