I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Adventure week

Harry, Alton, me, Mark, on our first jump last April
When I write in here next Sunday, it will be from my hotel room in Lake Elsinore. This picture was taken by someone on the Elsinore staff and posted on their website last year. I snagged it from there and thought it would be a good lead-in to my upcoming week's activities. I will leave on Thursday and travel first by bus, then plane, and finally renting a car and driving an hour from the airport to my hotel in Elsinore. I've already begun to pack, and I'm excited to see all my friends, skydivers who are in their sixties and seventies, like me.

I had a wonderful time last April, except for the fact that out of the five days I had to skydive, only one of them was jumpable: low clouds kept us out of the air. Then when I returned there in October, I made eleven skydives. I'm hoping for that many, or more, again. Nice, fun, safe skydives with soft landings. And they will be my first skydives of the year. Although I hoped to get a jump or two at Skydive Snohomish, the weather has not cooperated. Every weekend has been rainy, and when you have to drive 75 miles to get there, you want nice clear blue skies. It's been the wettest March on record for Washington state.

Last night I heard the rain falling outside, which got me to thinking about those people working in the awful conditions where the mudslide buried the town of Oso, a few miles south of here. This morning I learned that the number of missing has been changed from 90 to 30, and that many of those people will probably never be found. The mudslide was caused partly by all the rain loosening the soil, as well as nearby logging activity. It happened last Saturday as we were driving down to Snohomish to get my parachute system after the reserve was repacked. We saw many emergency vehicles on the road, not knowing what had happened or where they were going. Now the whole country knows.

It just goes to show how fragile life is, how nothing is guaranteed, not even when you think everything is safe and sound. I am comforted by the fact that most of them, maybe all of them, didn't know what hit them. That they didn't suffer. The arbitrary timing of the slide, a Saturday morning when all the kids were home, people home from work... if it had happened the morning before, the number of lost would have been fewer. But that isn't what happened. Oh, I have to get off this before I begin to obsess over it, which accomplishes nothing except to work myself into a state.

Okay, something more positive. Yesterday I went to the movies with my friend Judy, and we saw a documentary called Tim's Vermeer. Tim Jenison, a Texas based inventor, made a movie about his attempt to solve one of the greatest mysteries in art: how did Johannes Vermeer ("Girl with a Pearl Earring") manage to paint so photo-realistically, 150 years before the invention of photography? It's a fascinating film, which I enjoyed very much. I think he solved the mystery, after ten years of research and study.

It also made me wonder what the art world thinks of his theory. Of course, there is no way to find what actually occurred in 16th-century Holland, but I wonder, if he is correct, whether Vermeer was really as good as his contemporaries. His art is definitely very different from other artists in the same era. If you want to read more about Vermeer and the controversy, here is a link. He was only 43 when he died, in debt and relative obscurity. He and his wife struggled to support 11 children. He produced relatively few paintings, and almost all of them were painted in the same room, which gives a little credence to Tim's theory. Anyway, it's a fascinating look at how one might use optics to create a very realistic painting.

What else is on my mind this Sunday morning? A little worry about the condition of my left knee, which is giving me occasional difficulty. I think perhaps I've got a bit of the damaged meniscus that catches and makes it difficult to walk without pain, because just as suddenly as it starts, it clears up as if nothing was wrong. Yesterday I started to walk with my walking group and decided not to continue, as it was hurting quite a lot. Then I went to the Y and figured I'd walk on the treadmill and see if it got worse, where I would be able to stop if it did: no pain at all. I'll be wearing my brace on all my skydives and treating my knee with care, so that shouldn't be a problem next week. But there's that nagging worry about it, still. If I mess up my knee, I'll be unable to hike and do all the other things that give me so much pleasure, so I'm being careful.

Of course, as we grow older these trials and tribulations of the body don't usually get better, as we just begin to wear out. I'm aware of that, so I will take it in stride. A short, careful stride if necessary. I'm grateful to have the health I now possess, and I will make the best of it. Ah, I hear the rain starting up again outside. It's a nice sound, if I don't have to be out in it without good rain gear. I do hope the coming week brings you some lovely weather so you can go outside and enjoy it along with me.


Anonymous said...

Ha! There's been HAIL here in Hawaii along with rain and wind. Who would have guessed? I just hope the weather cooperates when we drive to and from the opera this afternoon.
Good luck with the skydiving and hope your knee is okay. It seems odd to me that sometimes you are in pain and at other times you are fine. You should see an orthopedist and get an X-ray.

Linda Reeder said...

After a night before soccer match we always have a late start morning. As I sit here reading your blog, Tom poked his head around the corner and said " Notice it isn't raining?". It is strangely and wonderfully quiet a little after eight o'clock on the Sunday morning.
I'm sure there will be more showers to dodge as the day goes on.
I have body parts that sometimes hurt, sometimes don't, kind of like the rain showers. I often wish I could get the kind of treatment a professional athlete gets. There would be x-rays and MRIs to exactly identify the problem and a fix would be initiated. So often we older folks just get "well, it comes with age" as if it didn't matter that we want to continue to hike and walk and garden and jump out of airplanes.
I wish you well this week as you prepare for your big adventure. Having something exciting to look forward to is a wonderful thing.

Elephant's Child said...

Have a wonderful, wonderful adventure week. And pain free.

Meryl Baer said...

I write this as the second day of constant rain pounds our area. But it is not snow and ice and it is getting warmer!…Have a wonderful trip and hope you get in all your jumps. Walk gingerly - I no longer walk too quickly, either - a couple of stupid falls taught me to be careful nowadays.

Sally Wessely said...

I hope your trip is great and that you are able to make all the jumps that you wish to make.
Oh those knees. They can be such a pain at times. And then again, just as you and Linda said, they feel fine. I am loving my water Pilates class. It has really helped me with my knee and hip pain. I find if I keep up with the water classes, I walk with less pain. I've had bone on bone on the left knee for years. I guess I live in denial by hoping it will just get better.
I do think seeing an orthopedist is a good idea. They can do so much with physical therapy and even a shot to the knee. Sometimes we can keep those joints from getting worse.

Arkansas Patti said...

Here's hoping you have perfect weather for your first of season jumps with gentle landings.
My shoulder is kind of like your knee with good days and bad days. May both our good days continue to out number the bad.

SquirrelQueen said...

We have had pouring rains here to and I also was thinking about those searching the mudslide. It is so sad that some of those lost will never be found.

I am hoping you have better weather for your trip this year. Take care of your knees!

The Furry Gnome said...

Hope you have a wonderful trip and lots of successful skydives. We do finally have sunny warmer days here, starting to melt the snow. Saw the first robin today, 3 weeks late.

Red said...

Have a great time in Elsinor. I hope you e many jumps. Look after that knee. I think we suffer wear and tear but much of it can be repaired these days. I skate with a ninety year old and ski with an 84 year old.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Soft landings! I wish you many of them this coming weekend! Safe travels too as you begin this next adventure! I will be anxious to hear how it went!
Aches and pains I think they come with the territory...the ageing territory:)

amanda said...

We had our very first precipitation in the form of rain yesterday - it rained softly much of the day, helping to condense some of the snow cover, but it turned to freezing ice pelting the windows, and then more snow.
Projects & having my hands full with other good things have had me away from the computer much of the past week, so I'm behind on catching up with my favorite blog friends, and also the news apparently - I hadn't yet heard of the tragic mudslide. (This is one reason why I love reading blogs - they keep me informed!)
I can't imagine. We live in an area of the country where we have very little possibility or threat of any major natural disaster... but we have to endure the harsh winters, which are responsible for a surprising number of casualties too.
I'm excited for your upcoming trip, DJan. Wishing you safe travels, blue skies & a happy feeling knee!

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Acupuncture for your knee? This worked for a friend of ours.

Rita said...

Life is definitely fragile. Can change or end in an instant. I hope the people didn't suffer.

I know you will be careful with that knee. I pray it will be a good knee time while you are gone and that you have good weather. Stay safe and enjoy!! :)

Stella Jones said...

I adore the paintings of Vermeer and have visited Holland many times. Interesting what you said about the film. I haven't heard of it so will take a look at your link.

CiCi said...

I know the entire area around Elsinore as I grew up not far from there. I know it is a tough decision to stay on the ground, but knowing you, there will be lots of interesting things to see and do for years to come. I will be reading about your adventures for a long time. Hugs.