It’s been two weeks since my knee surgery. A fortnight, as they’d say on Downton Abbey. While I’m not one to sit still by preference, I would rate this healing process a solid “not bad.” It’s certainly nothing I would choose; I much prefer to be a perpetual busybody. Being constrained by my body makes me crazy, and I used to fight it mightily. I still hate it, but am coming to accept it. I’m not one for horn-tooting, but I’ve gotten a lot better at convalescing since cancer and infection so rudely interrupted my life. Put a knee surgery, albeit a complicated one, into that context and you’ll see what I mean. I’ll never love being grounded, and I’ll always yearn to be able to do more, go faster, move freely, and aim higher, but I’m doing ok. A solid “not bad.”
Physical therapy started in earnest on Monday, despite the Labor Day holiday. I was definitely laboring in my PT session, no doubt. While a good, hard workout leaves me spent and satisfied, a good, hard PT session is an entirely different animal. Making my battered knee do things it doesn’t want to do, like bend and straighten without hiding behind a limp and an outward-swinging cheating motion, is hard work. Convincing my knee that going down a set of stairs is not cause to sit down and cry is rough. My trainer is a hard-ass with no sympathy and no mercy — just the way I like it. Yesterday I was surrounded by real athletes — not adrenalin & endorphin junkies who pursue fitness but athletes who live & breathe by their sport. Watching them grind out a crazy-hard workout while I felt desolate by the endless floor exercises my PT requires, I noticed the green-eyed monster creeping in. Yep, I was jealous of those able-bodied guys whose bodies sailed through increasingly difficult exercises. Burpees with a 3-step box jump? Easy. Overhead press with gigantic plates and metal chains thrown in for extra weight? Cinchy. One-arm rows while balancing one-legged on the Bosu ball? Piece of cake. Their form is impeccable, their bodies never lagged, and their muscles rippled showily beneath their dry-fit clothes. I was flat-out jealous.
I’m still swollen, bruised, and slow. My form is decidedly old-lady, and just getting onto a couple of the weight machines was tricky. On a normal day, I’d just hike my leg up and hop onto those machines, but these days, my steps are slow and borderline shuffling, and hiking up a leg and hopping on aren’t on the menu. As I struggled through my workout, right leg shaking angrily with the effort, I realized that those athletes who looked so effortless were out of place. They’re NFL players, and the season has started. So…why aren’t they working out in far-flung cities, with their teams? Two had just been cut from their teams, and one didn’t get asked back at all. They had a bigger problem than I have with my rehab: they’ve lost their jobs and are scrambling to find another spot on another team. So while their bodies haven’t stopped them from doing what they want, circumstances have. I’m guessing they feel as much stress and frustration as I do, and who knows — they may look at me enviously, because all I’ve got to worry about is a few months of rehab while their very livelihood is on the line.
Perspective. Once again, perspective smacked me upside the head.
I guess I needed that little reminder that while I’m “not bad,” I could be a whole lot worse.
Today is a day of rest & recovery. At the end of yesterday’s session, when my trainer ordered me to rest today, I balked. Rest?? I’m just now starting to see some progress. My range of motion is better, and I managed to use a different cardio machine than just the bike (my least-favorite, by a lot). I’d worked up a good sweat and was starting to catch a glimpse of a decent workout, after a bit of a dry spell. I didn’t want to rest & recover, I want to go, go go! Later that evening, though, as the muscle strain and soreness and the ever-present tightness around my kneecap set in, I understood. So today I will stay out of the gym. I will rest & recover. I was tempted, though, after I dropped off my middle-schooler, to run on over to the gym as is my routine. One day away, and I miss that place like a lovesick crackhead, as Ke$ha so eloquently says.
Our little piggie found a lipstick in my purse and after she tried it out, she got some on the carpet.
Not bad, Piggie. Not bad.
This is one of those posts that I feel needs a disclaimer right up front, because I already know I won’t be able to convey the fun we had, the experiences we gained, and the relationships we forged. The disclaimer should be something along the lines of the ubiquitous drug companies’ list of side effects for the various prescription drugs that populate print and TV advertising. Perhaps something along these lines: This post is intended to document the immense fun and incredible experience of a few days spent in northern Louisiana with an amazing family. This post should not be read while enduring a dismally empty social calendar or a puny vacation fund. This post may cause severe envy among readers who were not invited. Consult a psychotherapist if the side effects persist for more than four hours after reading, or proceed to the nearest emergency room if you find yourself entertaining thoughts of showing up in Bastrop, LA, unannounced.
Ok, I feel better now.
The more I think about it, the expanse of this experience cannot be contained in one simple posting, so there will need to be multiple installments. This, the first installment, is gonna cover the trip itself and the corn. Oh, the corn.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m not a fan of car travel and try to avoid it at all costs. That said, I would get in the car right now — not even 24 hours after returning home — and make the trip again. That’s how great this trip was. My favorite girl and my best boy and I packed up the car and headed out of Houston Tuesday morning, not knowing what lay ahead in the 400 miles between our house and our destination. Little did we know that we were in for the experience of a lifetime.
The first time my dear friend Amy invited me to her family home in Bastrop, LA, the timing didn’t work out; never again will I allow another event to stand in the way of going to Mama’s house.
Mama and Papa and the infamous Sanders sisters — Gina, Holly, and Wendy — rolled out the red carpet and put on the dog for us. First stop when we arrived at Mama’s house was a tour of Papa’s garden. I’d heard about this little slice of heaven and was beyond happy to see it with my own eyes. My iPhone photos do not do it justice. The first thing we saw upon entering Papa’s garden was asparagus, and I’m kicking myself for having missed its harvest.
I will be back in the spring for the asparagus. Mark my words, Papa!
Next is the cabbage. The plants are huge, and the ruffly leaves are pretty enough to be part of an elaborate floral arrangement. The heads, however, belong on a plate, sliced and simmered to perfection.
Our little piggie would lose her mind if she saw this watermelon, growing fat and ripe in the sun.
The corn was the star of the show, and one of the main reasons we drove to Mama’s.
We were going to get to help put up corn.
For the uninitiated, “putting up corn” refers to the process of picking, washing, blanching, de-kerneling, and freezing the delectable veggie. We’ve been on the receiving end of some of Mama’s corn, lovingly transported from Louisiana to Houston and carefully guarded and doled out upon special occasions.
This is good stuff, people.
There’s a reason Mama’s corn is referred to as “liquid gold.”
Here’s how it works: Papa picks the corn early, early in the morning once he’s deemed it ready. He can tell when it’s ready by looking at it on the stalk and by experience.
Know how many ears of corn each stalk produces?
Go on, guess.
Think about how tall and wide each stalk of corn is, and guess how many ears are waiting to be picked.
Yep, just two ears per stalk.
(I guessed 6. Silly city-slicker).
So the fresh-picked corn is piled up, ready to be shucked.
Before long, the shucking is done…
After the shucked corn is toted inside, it’s got to be meticulously washed. First the sink is scoured, then each and every ear is scrubbed and de-silked under hot water. While this step is the most laborious part, you know this germophobe loved it.
The container of water to the left of the cutter serves an important purpose: we dunk the shaved ears into the water, then run them back through the cutter in the opposite direction, to collect every drop of the milk.
We processed 192 ears, which translates into 17 quart-sized bags of liquid gold.
If Mama and Amy weren’t looking, I might have been tempted to kiss that corn good-night.
Once the corn was put to bed, we loaded up the discarded cobs onto the 4-wheeler’s trailer. By the time they’ve been de-kerneled and milked for every drop of goodness, they look like a foam roller used for painting a wall.
Usually Papa takes the used cobs into the woods and leaves them for the local wildlife. This time, however, the cobs went to Papa’s friend’s house to feed his wild hogs. My favorite girl wasted no time wrangling an invitation to go see these hogs for herself.
Stay tuned for a full report on our day of skeet-shooting.