Ruminations, Louise Brooks, & More

IMG_9380

This tranquil secret garden was part of the Mary Lou Heard Memorial Garden Tour about ten years ago.

This past week hasn’t been what I’d term thrilling—mostly I’ve been dealing with sudden, stabbing pain that would strike my right shoulder randomly, immobilizing my entire arm. This excruciating pain was related to my recent shoulder surgery.

But I don’t really want to rehash all the occurrences. Suffice to say I’m heartily sick of the subject. But I was taken aback when the pain hit me hard at the gym the other day, especially since I never work my right shoulder at the gym and all I was doing was getting off of one of the machines.

The pain was severe but nowhere near as bad as the first occurrence almost two weeks ago. I somehow shuffled over to a couch in the lobby and attempted to sit down. My BFF was with me, so she helped carry my stuff for me.

One of the staff came over and asked me if I was alright. I knew they’d be worried I had injured myself on the premises, so I hastily assured him that my condition had nothing to do with the gym. I asked if there was an ice pack on hand and there was! Sure saved my life.

Luckily, we had completed our strength training, so we rested and chatted for quite awhile. Eventually, my friend left and I finished my workout by putting in 30 minutes of rather low-key cardio on the stationary bike. Just didn’t have the energy to go all out. My body couldn’t do it. But, hey, at least I finished.

This coming week will be filled with various doctor appointments, PT, and filing taxes. Not exactly fun in the sun, huh?

I’ll be following up with two orthos (for my knee and right shoulder), and I’ll be getting an MRI on my left shoulder. I’m kinda hoping I just have bursitis and not a rotator cuff tear on the left shoulder. But it’s a bit unnerving to hear my left shoulder crackle whenever I do shoulder rolls. At least my right shoulder doesn’t make any noise at all.

Small mercies. I’ll take ’em.

NOW FOR THE FUN STUFF

No more Gloomy Gus; it’s time for the uplifting part of my post. First of all, my BFF and I are planning to visit a local nature park mid-week. She’s never been there, and it’s been over a decade since I’ve visited the gardens. We’ll walk around, commune with nature, and hopefully take lots of pictures.

I say hopefully take lots of pictures because my poor iPhone is old and storage is extremely low. Oh yeah, and the battery is starting to go, too. If only I had a great digital camera, or at least, the iPhone 7.

Believe me, I’d be running out today and getting a brand new phone with oodles of storage if I could only afford it.

Wait. That falls under the heading of the Gloomy Gus stuff. OK then. Back to the fun stuff.

We’re also planning on going on the Mary Lou Heard Memorial Garden Tour in May. We took the tour over a decade ago and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I’m sure we’ll see some lovely gardens again, such as the one pictured at the top of this post.

PHOTOGRAPHY

Photography has been an interest of mine since I was a teen. Ever since my recent discovery of the Painnt app, I’ve been obsessively applying filters to some of my pictures and other free sources and have been sharing them on various platforms such as Instagram.

Filtering photos really is art in its own way, even if you’re just tweaking a stock photo. You’re puting your own stamp, your imagination, creativity, and indeed your own unique vision upon a subject. You’re enhancing color, increasing warmth, or adding ominous touches to the original photo. By the clever manipulation of light, shadow, color, and texture, you can completely alter the narrative of the original source photo.

And to me, that is exciting indeed. If I’m lucky, I find myself awestruck by the beauty and transformation of the finished creation.

I’m using the Painnt app on my iPad right now because my old computer with Photoshop on it isn’t hooked up to the internet. And yes, I also need a new computer and the latest versions of Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and Dreamweaver… ahem.

OK. Fun stuff only. See, I remembered.

DISCOVERING LOUISE BROOKS

I’d like to show you some of the work I’ve done this week. One of my favorite creations is this photo of the iconic silent screen actress, Louise Brooks. Frankly, I’d like to produce a high-res image of it in acrylic so I could display it.

I’ll post my filtered photo first, and next to it I’ll post the original black and white so you can compare the two. Interestingly enough, I had come across the source photo in a Facebook group dedicated to the 20s, 30s, and 40s. I was struck by Louise’s beauty and by the exquisite photo itself, so I thought I’d try working on it. I was pleased with the results.

I naturally knew who Louise Brooks was, but I had never seen her films, nor did I know much about her personal life. So it was highly gratifying for me to accidentally stumble across an intriguing BBC documentary on her life on YouTube last night. The documentary was based on interviews with her and included excerpts from her 1982 memoir, “Lulu in Hollywood,” which were read by actress Linda Hunt.

Louise was a fascinating creature. With her bobbed hair and hedonistic lifestyle, she was the epitome of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Roaring Twenties flapper—liberated, sexually adventurous, headstrong, and ultimately self-destructive.

Louise had an admittedly relaxed attitude about sex. She had affairs with some prominent men, like Charlie Chaplin, but she also claimed to have had a brief dalliance with Greta Garbo.

She socialized with William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies at San Simeon. Louise also worked with many of the famous stars, directors, and producers of her day, including W. C. Fields, Walter Wanger, Howard Hawks, Wallace Beery, and even Fatty Arbuckle after his downfall.

Louise soon tired of her new husband and Hollywood and went to Berlin where she made her best films. Berlin in the twenties was decadent and every sexual appetite could be easily satisfied, especially if you had the money to pay for it. But it was also a creative city in which to make innovative silent films.

Brooks is best known as the lead in three feature films made in Europe: “Pandora’s Box” (1929), “Diary of a Lost Girl” (1929), and “Miss Europe” (1930). The first two were directed by the famed Austrian director, G. W. Pabst.

It is in “Pandora’s Box” that Louise plays Lulu. According to Wikipedia, “Brooks’ portrayal of a seductive, thoughtless young woman whose raw sexuality and uninhibited nature bring ruin to herself and those who love her, although initially unappreciated, eventually made the actress a star.”

Pabst had predicted that if she did not mend her ways, she’d end up like Lulu. But Louise sought pleasure for pleasure’s sake and her personal life often too closely mirrored that of Lulu’s. She was on the verge of total self-destruction when film preservationist, James Card, rescued her in 1955.

Her memoir should prove to be a fascinating book. I’m looking forward to finding a copy and reading it.

 FILTERED PHOTOS 

Over the last couple of days, I began focusing on certain themes: horses, lighthouses, greasers or Teddy Boys, musicians, dancers, and a few miscellaneous subjects. Some samples of my work are in the following slideshows:

HORSES & LIGHTHOUSES

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

DANCERS

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

GREASERS & MUSICIANS

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

50s GLAMOUR, RIPPED DUDE, & MISC.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’m always searching for new subject matter, whether it be current or evocative of the past. But there’s always something intriguing to unravel when delving into the social mores of a bygone era. You never quite know what fascinating tidbits you’ll uncover when you take some steps back into time.

Life’s Little Journeys


Well, ain’t this the truth? I may not have reached my goals yet, but at least I’m healthier than I was at this time last year.

My knee issue, which had plagued me on and off for ten years was finally diagnosed last year (torn meniscus), which culminated in knee surgery 5 1/2 months ago. But the knee is still swollen, it’s still healing, and I’m now dealing with scar tissue.

Hey, the good news is that the knee surgery is behind me. Right?

After the surgery, it drove me nuts to see how weak I had become. Couldn’t bend my knee very much. I had some initial progress but then it just kinda stopped. So frustrating.

Now I’m seeing some progress again. I worked out twice today. First I went to PT, and then I worked out in the pool after I got home. It could be four more months, or possibly more, to heal fully, my therapist said. Oh, well.

Not really sure my knee will ever be 100% again, but that’s my goal.

Life’s little journeys.

An Announcement

image

DRUM ROLL PLEASE! OK, nothing that exciting to announce… I’m not getting married or something like that. Hahaha! But I do have my MRI results.

Yes, it’s a torn meniscus. It’s been torn for a long time. I asked if that meant like 10 years? My ortho surgeon said yes. So I now have my confirmation.

Over 10 years ago, I got my first golden retriever as a puppy. She was an adorable, rambunctious, but loving, pup.

When she was a year-old, 65-lb. puppy, she used to get a gleam in her eyes when we played in the yard together. Uh, oh. She’d begin by charging towards me, taking a flying leap and then bodyslamming herself into my knees. I’d see her gunning for me, but all I could do was brace for impact. She never took me out, but she sure tried.

My knees would hyperextend and it would HURT! My knees were never the same after that. Eventually my goofy pup realized it was useless to keep tackling me. It’s not like I was a pro football scout or anything.

But the damage was done. My baby tore my meniscus. And to think I worked in rescue for 6 years after that, and at the dog kennel for 4 years doing very physically demanding work. No wonder I was in pain 100% of the time and had problems even just walking down the hallway of my home… It’s amazing I was functioning all this time with a torn meniscus and didn’t know it.

Anyway, surgery is set for the end of January. Before my surgery, I’ll have a pre- op, like an EKG, blood test, etc. Oh, I also have wear and tear underneath the patella, a Baker’s cyst caused by the torn meniscus, and osteoarthritis.

I may have to have knee replacement surgery down the road thanks to my osteoarthritis. But I’m gonna do everything in my power to prevent that.

image

Baby It’s Cold Outside

Well, it's not quite that cold yet, but the nights are certainly getting chillier.

Well, it’s not quite that cold yet, but the nights are certainly getting chillier.

It’s definitely colder today. Yesterday my bedroom was a warm 70°. Right now, it’s only 63° in my bedroom.

Which is why I didn’t go to water aerobics this morning. Putting on a bathing suit in 46° weather just didn’t sound appealing. But with this change in the weather, I think finding an affordable indoor pool is necessary now.

I haven’t been sleeping well the last two days, for some reason. Last night, I woke up after only a few hours of sleep. And since it took awhile to get back to sleep, there was no way I was going to wake up at 7 a.m. on a Saturday.

However, my knee started feeling better yesterday. It was a huge shock to me, but this morning I walked downstairs with minimal use of my cane. This is the first time that I can remember in ages that I didn’t have to lean heavily on my cane.

My knee was taped the day before Thanksgiving, when I was in horrible shape. The tape lasted six days and it helped. I’ve been horribly inactive for weeks now.

Sure, it’s helping my knee, but I fear the rest of my muscles are atrophying. Haha. Not really funny.

Anyway, the knee is still swollen and I still need surgery, but to even briefly experience going downstairs without pain is a Godsend. I truly had forgotten what that felt like!

 

Don’t Let Life Get You Down

challenges

Challenges can be overwhelming, but the best approach is to roll with the punches and figure out how to overcome obstacles.

We all face challenges in our daily life, but it’s our mindset that has the biggest influence on the outcome. And yep, it’s NOT always easy. But once you make up your mind and become determined to reach a certain goal, your life often changes for the better.

I’ve lost 16% of my body weight so far, despite the challenges I’ve faced lately with my lack of mobility and the fact that Thanksgiving and my birthday were in the same week. Ooh, plus a friend invited me to be his date at a dinner the other night, which was a lot of fun.

The encouraging news is that I STILL lost 9 lbs. in 30 days, even after eating those three amazing meals. All three dinners included dessert, and one of the meals included wine. I just made good choices and logged everything in the app, My Fitness Pal.

Isn’t it great to know that losing weight during the holidays, and without feeling deprived, can be a reality?

I haven’t been blogging much lately because my left knee totally gave out on me not too long ago. My active lifestyle came to a dead stop. I even had a couple of days of crushing depression because of it.

My knee improved after my physical therapist taped it the day before Thanksgiving. The tape stayed on for 6 days, and it really helped. I can finally put weight on that leg again and straighten it when I’m lying down, but I have to keep the knee bent when I walk.

Sadly, the limping is throwing off my gait and putting a huge strain on my back. It’s also exhausting to walk that way.

I won’t know more until I go to my ortho surgeon to get my MRI results next Wednesday. The surgery will be scheduled then, likely for sometime in January.

Another big problem is that I stopped all exercise because of my knee and car problems. I’m determined to go back to water aerobics class this Saturday, baring any unforeseen problems like rain or the car becomes undriveable. So even though the morning will be cold, the outdoor pool is heated.

Hopefully, I’ll fight the desire to stay snuggled under the covers early Saturday morning and that the weather won’t be a deterrent. I really need to go to water aerobics because I can tell I’m losing strength and stamina. My goal is to strengthen my core, which will help relieve my low back pain immensely.

Today was a breakthrough; I actually went grocery  shopping. Unfortunately, it left me exhausted and sweating. I felt as weak as a kitten trying to maneuver that heavy cart up and down those aisles.

You try pushing a grocery cart with your left side, limping, hunched over the cart, with a cane in your right hand. It doesn’t frickin’ WORK!

So those are two of my personal challenges. I need to have knee surgery done in early January, get through the 4-6 weeks of recovery, and buy a new car. And then start going back to physical therapy.

The good news is that PT for my rotator cuff issues has also been approved. So I can make the PT appointments once I figure out all the necessary logistics.

I’d love to hear about some of your personal challenges and what steps you’re taking to overcome them. We can all help each other obtain our goals. Wouldn’t that be fantastic?

UPDATE: December 18, 2016

Wow. Someone just liked this post on my blog from a year ago. Reading it brings back so many memories. After I wrote this, I was forced to use those electric carts in the store. But even those left me sweating and exhausted. That’s how difficult life was back then. And it made me realize how all that made my back issues worse. I found it interesting how I was still losing weight quickly then, but it all slowed to a crawl immediately following surgery. I’m eating about 1200 calories or so per day now, and I’m lucky if I lose one pound. Grrrr. However, I’ve persevered and have lost 67 lbs. I never did PT for my rotator cuff. Probably better I didn’t cuz it turned out that my rotator cuff has disintegrated and I need surgery. Major shoulder surgery is scheduled for January 6. 

Blood Tests? An MRI? What’s Next?

The MRI machine that I'll likely be using.

The MRI machine that I’ll likely be using.

Ack! Tomorrow is my blood panel. I’m confident about everything but my A1C and other glucose tests. Those numbers better have come down! I’ve been exercising, getting fit, I’ve lost 13% of my body weight so far, and I’ve cut way back on carbs and sugars… But ya never know. Plus, the last time I had my blood drawn, the gal had to ask me to come back cuz my veins refused to give up one drop of blood. So, keep your fingers crossed for me.

I got my referral for my MRI for my knee, so I called yesterday to make an appointment. Took the first available. I’m going next Tuesday at 7:45 PM. Well, the MRI is scheduled from 8-9, but I have to come in early to fill out paperwork. Weird to have it at night, huh?

It kinda feels odd to have an MRI at all. I’ve heard how some people are claustrophobic, etc. Well, I was looking for some information on getting an MRI for your knee, and I found an article that mentioned that sometimes a dye is injected. I’m not a happy camper AT ALL! I better not have to have a dye injected-??!! Waah-!!

Hey, has anyone reading this ever have a torn meniscus-?? Did you have dye injected when you had your MRI done? A couple of people told me that when they had their MRIs done for their knee or back, it was in an open-sided machine. Unfortunately, when I Goggled the place I’m supposed to go to, the only pic they showed was a traditional MRI machine. 😦

I wish I had asked Suzanne, my water aerobics instructor, what to expect when she had an MRI done for her torn meniscus.

Anyway, please keep those positive thoughts coming! It’s greatly appreciated.

Rowdy Navy SEALs & other musings

imageThis post will be a bit different today, and will cover several topics. The last bit will be all about some crazy Navy SEALs, so stick around for that amusing and true anecdote.

Last night, a Facebook pal and I stayed up too late Messaging each other. He’s a night owl like me, and we have fun chatting. But I sure didn’t want to get up today when 7 a.m. rolled around way too early. Then my exercise partner texted me saying she wasn’t going to water aerobics. I was SO tempted to go back to bed. I even told her I’d probably go back to bed.

But as I was texting her that, I knew. I just knew I was going to go. And I did.

It’s so odd for me, but I’ve been exercising regularly since June, and now it’s become my new habit. To NOT go would feel like a sin. And if I can exercise regularly, anyone can. Seriously folks. I know all the excuses. But you’re only sabotaging yourself, only hurting yourself and your loved ones by not exercising or eating healthy.

It’s a matter of making up your mind to accomplish a goal and sticking to it. That drives it. Is it easy? Sometimes. Sometimes it’s not, especially when life gets in the way.

The temptation to slide back into old habits niggles at me once in awhile since I’ve had a setback with my knee. I even got mildly depressed about it. But I didn’t close up and go inward. Instead, I posted and blogged about it and received many uplifting, encouraging, and caring comments from people.

Thank you again to all those who helped me rise above my “woe is me” state of mind. You guys made a difference.

Today is a pretty day. Blue sky, warm sun. 80 degrees. The pool was warm. We only had four people in our class today, so it was nice.

Suzanne, our instructor, noticed my fuchsia-colored taped knee. I couldn’t wait to tell her about my torn meniscus cuz she had had the same thing! So she told me about her surgery and the aftermath. She told me that she could see I was stubborn like she was and that it would be hard to keep me immobile. I kinda grinned at that. Yep. I’d probably try to do too much too soon. But, I listen to my body too, so we’ll see.

Water aerobics was good today. Suzanne had us swimming freestyle across the pool, keeping our heads above water. I took off fast and was determined to speed across as fast as I could. Now that’s a good workout. Talk about cardio!

I stayed after class for 15 minutes and did more laps and worked on my abs too. Suzanne said I could stay until 12:30 as that’s when lap swimming ends. Gee, all this for $5. So cool. I’ll try to stay longer next Saturday.

Freestyle was my best stroke as a kid. My form used to be stellar. But now my form needs tweaking. When I told Suzanne that, she offered to stay after class the next time she teaches in three weeks and help me with my form!

I was excited and accepted readily. I’d like her to tweak my backstroke and sidestroke too. They’re good, but form can always be improved upon. She made her offer to the rest of the class, too.

So now I have to buy a bathing cap and goggles. Really? I wore bathing caps all up to my teen years and swore I never would again. Hate those things. But I can’t have my hair in the way when I’m taking a breath, so I guess I have to suck it up and buy one.

Where is a good place to go? Anyone?

I love swimming, and it’s something I’m good at. I started off my exercise regime doing water aerobics, knowing that I love swimming, that I move easily in the water, that it wouldn’t put stress on my joints… All this set me up for success.

Start with something you enjoy. Biking, swimming, walking, whatever it may be. Keep at it, build up your strength, and then branch out when you’re feeling stronger and more confident.

Now for the SEAL story. You see the building way at the end in my picture? Well, it appears that a bunch of rowdy Navy SEALs leaped off the roof and into the pool at the base one midnight during the summer. Upon hearing this, I immediately wondered out loud if they had been drunk. Suzanne offered that there was a pub nearby, so it was a good possibility.

Can you imagine? Well, these big idiots damaged the roof during their escapade… they actually put holes in it! There was a work crew up there fixing it today, and it looked as though they were also adding a barrier to prevent these testosterone-fueled Big Children from doing this again. Men! Right?

Pretty funny. Except if they had hit the pavement…? Not so funny then. And these guys are defending our country?? LOL! They’re fearless risk-takers and they thrive on that adrenaline rush. I guess that’s why they’re SEALs and we’re not.

But I’d say that was a stupid thing to do. OK, I’m going out on a limb here and saying it was DRUNK and STUPID!

Now, I’d never jump off a roof. For one thing, I’m too sensible. For another, I’m afraid of heights.

I’m a water baby. I’ve told y’all that before. I’ve been swimming since I was a tiny kid. Took swimming lessons, entered into competitions for two years (won 2nd, then first). But when the instructor took us up to the high-dive platform… I was like, uh-uh. Nooooo. I had to jump off it several times, but I never enjoyed it.

It sure didn’t help that my grandfather told me later that night to make sure to keep my legs together when I jumped into a pool from a great height or the force of the landing would RIP me in two!

Can you imagine Grandpa actually told me that? Complete with hand gestures, too. R-I-I-I-P!!

I didn’t tell my parents what Grandpa had told me until many decades after he passed away. They sure weren’t happy that he had scared me like that. But yeah, it’s maybe why I’m not fond of heights-???

But then why did I go up in a glider when I was 22 years old? We are talking no engine, ya know? I was up there for 40 minutes and loved every second.

I think my natural personality is outgoing and adventurous, but it’s tempered with caution because I had older, overly protective parents. It’s an odd split. But hey, I’m not complaining. I’ve never had an urge to jump off roofs into pools anyway!

Have a great weekend, y’all and Happy Exercising!