Sunday, March 02, 2008

Sis visits, schoolyard games, I see dead people and my brain explodes.

Today I woke up with the OLDER sister in the house. Cheryl had come for a visit and had arrived while I was still sleeping because she said, “I am here to visit family” instead of “I am an internet stalker to see someone I read about on-line” and thus was passed through customs instead of delayed for half an hour.

I woke up late because Linda and I both worked quite late last night and I actually had to wheel up to her and say, “Hi, my name is Linda, I am the responsible one and I am going to bed now.” To which she was, “Alright! Alright! I get the point!” So we got to bed late and then did one of those “sleepover things” which is pretty fun to do when you have been together for 14 years: we talked in the darkness about this and that. Tonight’s topic was “What did you play during recess in Elementary School?” and “What were the gender playground bounds in Elementary School?” along with, “Did you have any crushes?” We both were NOT jungle gym gals, but talked about the two different types: a) those girls who took gymnastics lessons and could do cartwheels or hang by their knees and b) the girls who liked playing rough and then if a boy starting bullying some girls they would go over and yell at them and scare them off and then go back to playing on the jungle gym.

There were the swings, of which the aim was that today, one of us was going to swing SO hard, we would loop the swing bar and there were tales that someone in an older year or someone’s sibling had HEARD of someone who had done this. Also the, “How high is the swing still swinging when you jump off?” which is also known as “How Jane broke her arm.” I played four square and hopscotch. Linda, in a bizarre revelation told me she had NEVER played hopscotch. Wow. The things you learn after so many years. I knew her town was strict (it was and still pretty much is a DRY town – no drinking, no liquor stores, and NO PROM) but I didn’t think hopping on one leg was the “devil’s work” exactly. Of course she played “King of the Hill” on the giant snowpile but didn’t play in the sandbox (as that was ‘too dirty and too many boys’). I was, “So standing atop a pile of snow and shoving guys in the face so they slide down is OKAY, but playing around boys in the sandbox is NOT?” Apparently this was the recess code at her school. Since I was in LA, there were a) swings, b) a LOT of cement where boys played some form of soccer game which MAY have had goalposts or maybe just involved knocking people down, seemed more of the latter, and c) sandbox with jungle gym. I played in the sandbox, specifically the “build a giant mound” then you and your friend dig tunnels until your fingers meet. Also in the old school was the “Tire Swing” in which two people would then wind the tire swing around and around and let go and then by the time the swing stopped, you fell out and the world kept spinning.

So, when I woke up, Linda was comparing our answers with Cheryl’s. Then we were off to Badminton which had quite a few people so we played three games, and at one point Cheryl and I, in wheelchair were playing Linda the able body and BEATING her! But then we did regular doubles. Linda and Cheryl were doing very well, while I had a few (Why is there a hole in my racket?) shots.

After that, lunch, a bunch of heart erratics, oxygen, me slurring and dropping stuff, before we went to one of my favorite places, our own Cemetery, the Ross Bay Cemetery. Due to poor planning in the 1800’s put the cemetery at the end of a funnel cove and with winter storms after waves crash OVER the graves, they tend to SUCK back things too…like grandma. So, they put in a retaining wall to keep our slightly shortened cemetery with most of the inhabitants. It does have a few very nice mausoleums, and Linda and Cheryl posed for me by one of the nice ones. It does have a very London style cemetery feel, as many of the early inhabitants were from the UK as they put in BOLD letters on the tombstone, often taking up more space than their dates to say, “Originally from DEVON” or other parts of the UK, which to me seems like putting up a tombstone, Elizabeth McClung, died 1892 a LEFT HANDER! Obviously very important to them, but now, kind of strange as, hey, they are still dead and still here in Victoria.

We found in the corner of a family plot a baby sized tomb, which I hadn’t seen before. While often the caskets are small, in Cardiff and London, most of the child tombs are regular sized while this was about two feet long with a tiny headstone to match for this 14 month old child. Needless to say, I was having a very Edward Gorey moment and being perhaps a little TOO happy as I crowed to Cheryl, “Isn’t this just the BEST! I mean, look at that mold, and that moss! Here in Victoria, we like a good thick layer of decay on our tombs!” I am sure the city planners will be picking up that last line for T-shirts or next years tourist tag line. You can see a pic of me here grinning enthusiastically (no, not ghoulish).
We dropped Cheryl off at the boat and she ordered me to go home and nap. Which I was ready for as I usually exercise in a day or talk in a day OR go and wheel around in the cemetery in a day and in a few hours I did all three. Also, you may not believe this, but I tend to talk a lot, like until I run out of oxygen and slump over. So, with Cheryl here, I needed to get all my questions in, only I would ask a question and then get distracted and never get the full answer, which is I suppose why Cheryl has to keep coming over.

Before going to sleep we made a list of the five MUST do things. So after I got up, placed in the chair, given coke and 30 minutes to WAKE UP, we did the searching and deciding and calling and reserving a hotel in Beppu, Japan (the place with all the hot springs, we told you about earlier with the HELL springs). But the hotel had, for the weekend, already sold out of a type of twin rooms for April 12th, so a bit of panic and we made our reservation for a Hiroshima wheelchair accessible room in a hotel right by the dock so we could go over to the world Heritage site of Miyajima island the next morning. Now we only have about four or five nights left to book.

We looked at cooling vests, and bought a bunch of the disposable ice packs on ebay thanks to a tip from Laura, a reader who emailed us suggestions (like Michael/Raccoon did for our AirMed insurance) - thanks! But we were SO info-loaded from two to three hours of hotel reservation information that when it came to cooling vests I was left grabbing at the screen going, ‘Want that one…pretty!’ while Linda said, “No, we can’t for this trip as that is $200 for a single vest.” And then she suggested I review the TWELVE different vest companies and options at which point I tried to make my brain explode so I wouldn’t have to absorb any more information. So we are leaving that decision until tomorrow. I emailed the disability people in Japan with our itinerary AND another 15 questions including “Where is there a wheelchair accessible studio where they dress you up as a Geisha and take pictures?” I bet they haven’t gotten THAT question before.

So, had fun till I dropped and then did work till my brain went BOOM! Tomorrow starts my 7 or 8 days straight of at least one appointment per day. I am up at 8:00 ish (for me that is early!), to get my wheelchair totally redone because I have lost so much weight in my legs that I keep falling over backwards in the chair every time I get hot and my head tilts back (no I do not have a BIG HEAD, I just happen to have very heavy brains…yeah).

Anyway, I hope you had a good weekend. I haven’t come up with a master plan post april but hey, I got to see dead people today, woo hoo, so there!


em said...

It was totally cool hearing your sleep over talk with Linda. Thanks for writing that.

Katrin said...

Sounds like a fun (though exhausting, brain frying) day! I'm tired just reading about all that you did. Oye.

So I take it you never traced the bricks on the side of the school with your fingers, collected tin foil or repeditvely did figure 8s around the very sparse trees while at recess? Hmmm. Though your recess activities do sound interesting... :-) (ok rereading how I spent years of recess time, I'm not really sure how I didn't get singled out for a 'special evaluation' by the school discrict.)

And swings, swings are MUST have. Unfortunately in schools around here they keep deeming them a 'danger' and removing them :-( (actually I find it really odd- they remove the seats but not the chains, I would think kids could do a lot more damange to each other having access to these very long metal chains, but what do I know?) Very sad, especially since I still like them an frequent the playground after dark to swing. Very good stress releaser if avaliable.

cheryl g said...

Yep, it was a fun day! I have an idea... why don't you write questions down and then you can give me the list to answer. That way you will do less of the talking, maybe.

You know you owe me cake ;-)...

Lene Andersen said...

Absolutely FANTASTIC cemetery. Wish I could come visit you so we could wheel aorund in it for hours. Many years ago, when I went to visit a friend in LA, one of the first stops was... erm... what'sitcalled... Forest Lawn? cemetery. Have you ever seen Pamela Williams' photos of cemetery art in Europe? I have one of her prints over my bed. Which might explain the lack of action in said bed... A-hem.

Wish you could come to Toronto. Mount Pleasant cemetery is the best.

Marla said...

Your title cracks me up. I am always wondering, "Oh no! What does that mean?" I am so glad your barin really did not explode. ;)

I love that you both sat up talking about school stories. That is so sweet.

elizabeth said...

Don't know why exactly - but I find old graveyards so peaceful... glad you had a nice weekend!

Donimo said...

I love cemeteries. There's a old on on the North Shore here that is moss covered, crumbling and surrounded by big, old trees. It's one of my favourite spots. I was fascinated when I went to Fredericton and the old graves from the late 1700's were dry and legible! Where's the green and black moss? I spent hours taking pictures though, the frost scours and cracks the stones in a most beautiful way. (I posted a few of those photos.)

Did anyone ever play Teatherball at recess? Deadly fun. A hard volleyball on the end of a rope tied to a tall pole. You had to hit the ball (punch it, smash it) either clockwise or counterclockwise (depending on your position) and try to wrap it around the pole as your opponent tried to warp it around the other way. Much pain and fun!

Dawn Allenbach said...

I LOVE old cemetaries! I can wander for hours looking at headstones and making up stories in my head.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Em: Yeah, I like those time we just lie in bed and find out some wierd thing about the other (all things she didn't do exactly the same as me qualify as 'wierd').

Katrin: No, but later I did go every day and try to cut down a tree with a quarter - I think it was something about obsessive determination can win out over any obstacle. But yes, some schools were odd, like my school never did ANY physical exams including hearing so like we found out in 8th grade that one of the students had gone almost completely deaf and no one noticed. They are removing swings? When Linda and I did cross country driving we would drive at NIGHT (no traffic) and then stop to swing on the swings in odd small towns to wake us up.

Cheryl: Your plan regarding questions is entirely reasonable and logical - so I will ignore it entirely. Ya, I owe you cake!

Lene: It is really cool, I love cemeteries - in fact Linda and I had our first date as a picnic in a cemetery. That's pretty cool about that print over your bed. Besides isn't the threat of death supposed to be the great aphrodisiac (sic). I've been to Forrest Lawn, but mostly for funerals.

Marla: Well, it WANTED to explode. But didn't. I do like the whole summer camp, camp out - talking in the dark about this and that.

Elizabeth - I like wandering around them and reading all the inscriptions. They are great for picnics but people can get kind of wierd when you are there having a spread over some big old grave.

Donimo: Oh me too, I love the cemeteries on Queen Charlotte, we wanted to see the ones on the Sunshine coast too.

Well, both of us avoided tether ball because a) getting hit in the face and b) that girl with the smug look (you?) as she whips the ball round and round the tether just out of your reach. A sort of prolonged humiliation.

Veralidaine said...

Those ARE cool graves! I wish we had enough humidity for moss!

Gaina said...

I like graveyards - interesting to read the stones and full of wildlife. I have to make a sketch book of my local area this week so I am hoping one day the weather will be nice enough for me to go the graveyard near us - it's so old it has a 'North Door' that the pagans were made to enter through. One other church near me is mentioned in the Doomsday book.

What, pray tell is a cooling vest? I wonder if you could fill it with hot water for the opposite effect, like a massive hot water bottle. That would be sweet (for me, not you of course :P).

Gaina said...

bah! I did it again! Forgot to check the 'email follow up comments box'. **shakes fist**

Elizabeth McClung said...

Dawn: Well, New Orleans has very beautiful cemeteries and moseleums (sic) - I like finding odd inscriptions or odd deaths, like in Cardiff a girl at the turn of the century went up in a ballon and died in the bristol channel (that seems a sort of unusual death).

veralidaine: I never thought of victoria as humid, I think it is just becuase we don't get a lot of sub-zero temp so it doesn't get frozen off. But nice dry graveyards like ghost town ones in Nevada or California are nice too (weather beaten and worn)

Gaina: True, I tried to feed a squirrel in the graveyard but he had already found something and was dragging it off (I didn't ask too many questions). I wasn't aware of the "North Door" but my grandfather, when he was in the Navy in WWII, had to help clean up some of the old cemeteries around here and he told me of the tombs just outside the walls they would find: for those who commited suicide and could not be buried on hallowed ground.

A cooling vest is for people who work in military, construction (like Iraq) to keep them cool, or for people with medical conditions which make them heat intolerant like me - so you put it on under your clothes (or over for the industrial ones) and it stops your core from heating up - most companies who make cooling vests also make heating vests for winter workers - Arctic Cool is a high end as well as Sport Cool - both might do the heating side as well.

Neil said...


Sounds like your Sunday was better than mine; I've had a headache since lunchtime Friday.

I love reading about your good days. They almost make up for the crappy ones, don't they?

You have heavy brains? Heavy as rocks? :)

My oldest son once wore a t-shirt to school that said "The neutrino stops here." the science teachers didn't "get it" but one of the English teachers did. I think that says something about the science teachers at his school...

Zen hugs!

Dawn Allenbach said...

And one of these days, I'll go to some of the cemetaries here. I mean, sheesh -- I drive by one every time I take Reba to the vet.

Michael said...

I don't remember very much of my elementary school recess or classes. I know that I used to get in trouble for reading too much, and I used to work in the school library...

I used to live in Massachusetts, in the Beverly/Salem area. After I moved to California, I went back once or twice and collected Rowan branches from the cemeteries. Mystical properties, don't you know.


Gaina said...

I found some of those vest, and started to think a warming vest would be a good idea, until I reminded myself that I can't tolerate too much heat either (though nowhere near the reaction you suffer)- I am always getting told off for turning my radiators *down* when everyone else thinks it's cold in my room.

Apparently if you have any kind of damage to your spinal cord it inhibits your ability to regulate your body temperature, so on balance I think I'd rather be cold and fill a small water bottle :).