RIDING IT OUT – Marilyn Armstrong

For almost two years, I’ve barely used the chair lift. I was glad it was there and it was useful for hauling groceries and suitcases upstairs and that was good for both of us. But lately, I’ve started using it. I realized there was absolutely nothing to be gained by dragging myself up two staircases, gasping, wheezing, with heart pounding.

Although I can —  and do — get up and down the stairs, it’s slow and getting slower. It’s more than a bit nerve-wracking too. It takes me a while to take that first downward step (up is easier) and I’m always sure I’m going to fall. I have fallen a lot over the years, including when I was younger. I can’t seem to find my balance going down.

One step at a time and carrying packages, stairs are impossible and dangerous. Riding up and down the stairs takes the fear and pain out of the process of getting in and out of the house. I’m okay walking on the sidewalk and the floors, but the stairs put such a strain on my lower spine and hips, I went from feeling okay to feeling ready to collapse.

It was time to actually use the chair lift.

Not only is it a way to get upstairs not on my feet, but it ‘s also possible to get someone in a wheelchair into the house and up to our living level. Before that, we’ve had to tell anyone with disabilities that our house was unready for them.

I reached the end of assuming that I’m going to get better and the stairs won’t be as difficult. Asthma is worse, probably because it’s untreated and my spine is worse, especially at the S1 juncture which was never fused — unlike the three discs above it. The pressure on the spinal cord is serious and unlikely to improve. There’s no exercise that will improve it.

It’s my final nod to the realities of my life, the “giving in” to the pain as something that won’t get better. The new drugs I’m taking help quite a bit — as long as I walk on relatively flat ground. I can climb a little bit if I am very careful. I can cook and clean in the house and if the ground is not rough, I’m mobile. To a point.

When I’m tired, I have to take it seriously. I need to stop and rest. When I do that, I don’t fall apart and I stay reasonably well. No amount of goodwill, determination, or optimism will change the condition of my spine. I think not hauling myself up and downstairs will probably marginally improve my mobility.

I cannot begin to tell you how much this isn’t what I envisioned for my life as a senior. I was planning to be a dashing senior. Like in the movies. Gray and wise, but ready to do it all.

Sometimes giving in is the right thing to do. I wanted to force myself to be that snazzy senior I imagined. Overall, I think it’s better if I stay alive and able to move!


Yesterday, my son called to tell me he’d made a really good deal — if I could manage the cash — for a stair chair lift.

Although I can —  and do — get up and down the stairs, it’s slow and getting slower and more than a little nerve-wracking. I’m not only slow to do it, I live in constant fear of falling. Surprisingly, that’s not a new thing because I have fallen downstairs quite a few times over the years, including when I was a lot younger. There’s something about looking down that makes me just a little bit loopy.

One step at a time and carrying packages, stairs are pretty much impossible. This deal was as good as it was ever going to get — and it looks as if these were never previously installed. I took the deal. Owen says he knows how to install them having recently done a set for a friend. I said it was a “go” — as long as this is something that will happen and not become another thing waiting in the basement for an installation “event” to occur.

The stairs are the opposite of “strutting.” I call it “sitting.” I’m very good at sitting and linguistically, it is similar to strutting, but with the “r” and “u” replaced by an “i.” Maybe, if you say it very quickly, it might sound almost the same.

It is just one unit — for the upper staircase. These will take someone from the front entryway to our living level. I will happily forget about strutting. This is a world-altering event for me and might mean we can continue to live in this house.

Not only is it a way to get upstairs not on our feet, it means it ‘s possible to get someone in a wheelchair into the house. Before that, we’ve had to tell anyone in a wheelchair our house is non-navigable. No entryway without at least 6 steps. The chair can also carry packages, so you can walk up while the chair hauls the boxes, crates, bags, and suitcases.

This is a big win here, though it reduces our limited remaining “savings” to a new low. Regardless, I was would have had to deal with this. Those 6 steps seemed like nothing 18 years ago. They feel a lot steeper these days.

It’s the official end of strutting. Sitting is good. I can sit. I’m a strong sitter. It’s also the final “giving in” to reality thing, the recognition that no amount of good will, determination, or optimism will change the number of stairs. I cannot begin to tell you how much this isn’t what I envisioned for my life as a senior. I was planning to be a dashing senior. Like in the movies. Gray and wise, but still ready to do it all … maybe slower … but otherwise, no problem.

I had no idea how much life would change in the decade following my 60th birthday. We sometimes think one decade is like another, but it turns out … not necessarily. This particular decade has been humbling. And yet — I’m still here and so many others are not. So before I get all maudlin about this, I may need help with stairs, but I’m alive. As far as I can tell, likely to stay that way for a while.

This is huge. Bigger than Trump’s stupid wall and the Mexicans don’t have to contribute a single penny to the project. We’re just winning all over the place!


Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Any Seating including Tables and Chairs


If we stay up too late, the dogs get annoyed. We are sitting on their bed. Or, more to the point, Bonnie’s bed. Gibbs prefers the big sofa in front of the window. They allow us to use our upholstered furnishing to a point, but when it gets late, we are expected to gracefully retire leaving them to get a good night’s sleep to add to their long afternoon and morning naps.

Bonnie and Gibbs need a lot of rest. Begging for treats, eating, and occasionally going outside for a good, hearty bark is exhausting!


Garry feels he ought to have a few rights, like using the loveseat and his laptop.


Stuff — especially camera equipment and reading matter — tends to spill onto all available surfaces. Also, anything that I prefer the dogs not drag outside. Particularly, my shoes and sandals. Maybe it’s unreasonable, but I don’t think the tooth marks add to sartorial elegance.


Cee's Black & White Photo Challenge Badge



Al fresco. On the grass, by the pool. On the lawn, in the stadium.

With the warm weather coming on, what could be more appropriate than spending some quality time outside in a comfortable chair, or perched on a bench by the pond or river.

Time for snow is past. Now’s the time to get outside and enjoy the sunshine while it is with us. We’ve survived winter — again. Rejoice!

cee's fun foto chall


Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Table and Chairs, seating of any kind

Seating isn’t always chairs or benches. It can be the ground, a rock, the curb. The stairs. However, for the purposes of this challenge, I stayed with traditional places to park a human butt. Mostly chairs and one sofa, though you’d have to move one of the camera bags before settling down. Why, you may ask, do you keep all your cameras on the sofa? Is it so they will be right at hand when you need them?

Having them handy has been an unexpected bonus, but the reason is to keep the big hairy dog off the sofa. We tried everything else. For some reason, he’s wary of the camera bags. Shape? Size? No idea.

Do I feel guilty because we don’t let the our Australian Shepherd with the heaviest coat in the world have the sofa as his personal bed? Not really. If we were rich, we would buy him his own sofa, but he can’t have ours. He will have to settle for blankets on the floor. Sorry big fella. Sometimes, the humans win.

Garry gets the last word on seating. Because you can sit anywhere. This lady and her dog chose the beach at Barnstable at sunset. It’s the best seating of all.