Bike Rides and Families

The biggest news of today is this: Cora Adeline Grace Johnson has mastered bike riding.

Look at her go!!

I have spent the week recovering from pinkeye, a sinus infection, two ruptured eardrums, and two ear infections. My left eardrum burst in the middle of the night after I went to the doctor. I'm grateful it wasn't as painful as when my right eardrum decided it had enough.

I feel like today was the first day that could really count as recovery. I'm not sure how long it will take for my ears to fully heal, to lose the ringing and echo-y sounds, or to feel kind of normal again, but I am certain this wasn't what I had in mind for my summer. The not hearing well part isn't great, but the dizzy spells are proving to be the worst. If I turn my head too quickly, or move in a different direction, I feel like falling over. One of my new life goals is to never experience Vertigo. Ever.

Last night, we watched an old family video that touched me. It was Christmas Day at Jake's paternal grandparents' (Mammy and Granddad) home in 1990. Everyone was there. All four children, their spouses, and all eleven grandchildren. Grandmother, Mammy's mom, was even there. This woman is legendary, and I've never seen her on video before. It was wonderful. It was also bittersweet.

Mammy passed away just before Christmas. I haven't written much about it. I've processed her death very differently without having been there during the last few months of her life when Dementia completely took over, and she wasn't really Mammy anymore. In many ways I'm grateful that she was still her when we left for Los Angeles.

The part of the video that really got me was the timing. Six months after it was filmed, that family was put through the wringer. It was changed forever. Vaughn's dad, Granddad, left Mammy on Father's Day in 1991. He didn't just leave her, he left the whole family - stayed in the same small town, but didn't have contact with any of his children or grandchildren. Actually seeing the faces of those sweet little grandbabies, and a family enjoying being together juxtaposed with the story, made me have to work really hard at staying in control of my emotions.

I realized, in watching it, that I knew all of the people, but I didn't know that family. It doesn't exist anymore.

Jake's granddad actually lives a little over a block away from the home his parents' have lived in for the last six-and-a-half years. While Cora was riding her bike this morning, I saw his car back out of the driveway and come our way. Jake had Cora pulled over "up the hill" towards his house when he saw the car coming towards them. I wondered if he would recognize Jake, or see that little girl on the bike and know that it was his great-granddaughter. And not just know that it was his great-granddaughter, but do a tiny happy dance that she'd just made it through a rite of passage.

In the middle of my flurry of thoughts, he turned at the intersection right before he got to them, and I was sure that he [or his wife] decided make that turn as a precaution, to avoid the kid on her bike in the street.

Ears and Eyes

We've been in OKLAHOMA for one week and four days. (I'm writing this on my phone, and autocorrect continues to automatically capitalize OKLAHOMA, so I've decided I'm just going to leave it that way. Every time.)

Much has happened, but the reason for being up in the middle of the night is what I'm going to focus on because it's at the forefront of my mind. After three really long hours of pain and pressure, my right eardrum ruptured just before dinner. The actual rupture was a huge relief in the pain/pressure department. My ear has continued to drain "stuff" throughout the night (if you really want to know, it's been a combination of pus and blood).

It started hurting enough again that I stopped being able to sleep through it around 3AM. The pain continued to progress, so I finally lifted myself out of bed around 3:30 to seek relief. I went into the bathroom, and there had to work through opening my eyes. Literally. The other rad part of the story is that I have pinkeye for the first time in my life. (Both eardrums ruptured when I was 8 or 9, so at least I have experience to know that it's not as scary as it sounds - though I don't remember it being quite this painful.) I rubbed warm water on my eyelids and lashes until they parted so I could see what I was doing. I went for some Tylenol and Sudafed. And then put a bit of Vick's on a cotton ball and placed that in my ear. I'm now back in bed with a heating pad along the side of my head and throat. And I'm up at 5AM typing away because it seemed like an okay thing to do.

I'm really looking forward to seeing a doctor tomorrow, er, today, despite my long running fear of ever needing one while in Holdenville.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
- Wendell Berry

I dropped our car off to get new tires right after I dropped my girls off at school this morning. I didn't have time to make my morning smoothie before leaving home, and I had some time to kill, so I decided to start walking west in search of food. I ended up walking about 2.25 miles to the beach, but not before stopping at Nekter and getting some juice. I really wanted a smoothie, but this juice just had everything I wanted.

Not too far into the sand, I saw a broken glass bottle. I carefully picked up the pieces with one hand while carrying my juice and shoes in the other. After the pieces of glass that used to be a bottle were deposited in a recycling bin, I continued on to a perfect spot of level sand right before it dipped down to meet the water. I sat meditating for a little while before working through a few asanas. One thought I had was of some woman who might be on the other side of the ocean staring back wondering about some woman who might be me. I want to meet her someday. I want her to show me what her days are like - how she lives.

I'm participating in two yoga challenges on Instagram. Both are in their second day, and it's the first time I've ever done anything like this before. Sometimes I think pausing to take pictures, or working on executing a certain shot gets in the way of my practice. My focus becomes capturing a moment, rather than being present in one. I've found it helpful to record my practice, and pick a frame for a still shot. So far so good. One of the challenges asked participants to do "Wild Thing" pose. It's my favorite.

When looking through the video of this morning's practice, I was a little sad knowing that a still shot wouldn't capture the sound of the waves, nor the wind moving through my hair. But I also knew it wouldn't do it justice. My skin felt the cool breeze, my hair still has sand in it, and my heart can still feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. 

In that moment, I was able to rest with the grace of the world. I was free.

I caught the bus back to the tire shop, and witnessed a quiet act of kindness I want to remember. An elderly man slowly got on the bus with his walker. A young man sitting just behind the section reserved for the elderly and handicapped quickly raised the seat in front of him to make room for the older gentleman's walker. The man with the walker ended up just keeping it in front of him in his seat. As the bus began to move, the young man reached in front and lowered the seat back down. I was touched. I said a silent prayer of gratitude for the young man, for his kind deed, and a hope that even though he wasn't taken up on it this time, he wouldn't hesitate to act in the same way in the future.

I think it's very rare that a kind deed goes unnoticed. It puts more love in the world. And that's palpable. Every single time.


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