@ a Very Nice Retreat

Main Building on Schreiner University campus, by Billy Hathorn, licensed under CC BY-SA-3.0

“Blessed are those who can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused.” ~ Anon.

I’m staying in a Very Nice Dorm on the campus of Schreiner University in Kerrville for the Writers’ League of TexasSummer Retreat. My job is to write. No classes, just write.

Here is what I’ve accomplished since arriving Sunday afternoon.

(I believe I’ve mentioned I sometimes have a little trouble walking? Like from parking lots to buildings? If I didn’t, I would be bopping all over campus and  wouldn’t have anything to put in this post.)



Saw doe wandering around dorms

Didn’t know where camera was so didn’t stop for picture of doe

Hauled provisions into the dorm

Noticed it was as hot as . . . I thought it would be

Drove to cafeteria; parked in nearby lot (very nearby)

Walked from lot to cafeteria; on the way, noticed my back was out

Considered possibility of walking to orientation

Skipped orientation

Said to myself, “I should not have retreated this summer.”

Drove into town for more provisions

Couldn’t make room key work

Threw two sets of keys down onto the walk as hard as I could, set my tote down carefully because it had breakable stuff in it, and swore I would go home the next morning to my husband, who does everything for me, and my cats, who don’t

Made room key work

Crashed in room

Monday, before leaving room

Got out of bed

Noticed my back was still out

Loaded totes for day of writing at Junkin Worship Center

Lost my room key

Found my room key

Lost my car key

Found my car key

Divested totes

(Do I really need my Kindle? No. Do I really need my camera? No. Do I really need eight pens? No. Do I really need three bottles of orange juice and a bunch of breakfast bars? Only if I want to stay upright. )

Lost my room key.

Found my room key.

Lost and found several other things.

Monday, after leaving room

Drove to WLT office; parked in nearest lot

Walked to office; took emergency contact info to director because I missed orientation

Lost my room key

Walked back to car

Became traditionally hungry for the first time in over three years

Considered walking to cafeteria

Drove into town to Burger King

Considered possibility of legally adopting my massage therapist

Lost my handicap parking permit

Parked in regular space at Burger King, no big deal

Bought Whopper, Coke, and Hershey shake; didn’t want Hershey shake but was unhappy about parking permit

Found my room key in my pocket

Put Hershey shake in freezer at dorm

Was still hungry

Ate remaining half of Whopper

Found my handicap parking permit

Flopped on couch, revised a few lines of manuscript

Regretted eating remaining half of Whopper

Fell asleep

Skipped buffet

Said if this walking thing keeps up, I will spend the whole week in my room writing, because that’s what I came to do, and the room is Very Nice, and the A/C works beautifully

Tuesday before leaving room:

Got out of bed

Noticed my back was better

Didn’t lose anything

Tuesday after leaving room

Drove to mid-campus and parked in lot across from Moody Science Building

Walked to Junkin Worship Center Quiet Writing Room

Collapsed onto couch

Found my handicap parking permit in tote bag

Emailed director re giving her permit numbers so she could testify for me in court, or of my calling campus security

Emailed husband for numbers on license plate because I remember only letters

Decided paying $500 – $750 in fine plus court costs a small price for not walking back to parking lot

WLT rep came from across room and walked permit to car, bless her heart, and I mean that most sincerely

And here I am.

Please note that none of the adventures listed here has anything at all to do with the Writers’ League of Texas. The director offered to have me golf-carted (that’s what they do) where I needed to go, but I can drive and park just about anywhere. My problem is getting from parking lots to doors, so I declined.  The League and the Retreat are doing just fine. It’s all me, me, me.

I’m going to stay in the Junkin Center drinking orange juice and eating breakfast bars (horrid but convenient) till it closes and later try to make it to the dining hall.

When I started chemo, I vowed I would not excuse any of my shortcomings on chemo brain or chemo body or anything else related to it.

I might un-vow that. There’s probably some truth in it, and it’s much better than blaming everything on age.

Now, PLEASE don’t pity me or say you’re sorry about my trials and tribulations.

Because, folks, it’s all material.


Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library, by Hot Furnace, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. Via Wikipedia

Okay. I’ve caught my breath. Now I have to stop this and do the writing I came here to do.

This is a photo of the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library in Kerrville, Texas. Round, two stories. I used to come here for library conferences. The interior is beautiful.

Staggering and Wobbling with Dignity and Grace. Or Not.

So I stagger and wobble and run into door jambs.

The door jamb part really isn’t in the same category as the other two, because staggering and wobbling are relatively new, but I’ve been door-challenged all my life.

Public Domain

Once when I was eight, visiting my Aunt Laura and Uncle Joe, the phone rang and I was the only one in the house. I ran from the kitchen and across the dining room, headed for the far end of the hallway, where the phone resided. When I got to the door from the dining room to the hall, I caught the sleeve of my sleeveless blouse–I trust you understand that–on the strike plate. I backed off and started over and caught my blouse on the strike plate–same blouse, same strike plate. I backed off and started over and got hung up a third time. On my fourth effort, I gave up on running and walked. That worked.

I’ve never repeated the strike plate episode, but I frequently collide with door jambs–usually when leaving the boss’ office–and I clip the corners of tables. I’m told the root cause lies in my corpus callosum and to just keep on colliding. It’s somehow worse when the boss is an attorney. I’ve learned to live with it.

But staggering and wobbling haven’t been going on all that long. I don’t have vertigo; I just get off balance. I know why I don’t get around as easily as I should–unsteadiness occurs when I don’t eat enough and when I don’t get enough sleep. Insufficient exercise is a contributing factor. I haven’t gotten much exercise for the past three-point-five years. There are both good reasons and excellent excuses for that.

Things are looking up. Last month I bought a Fitbit, which counts my steps and does various other helpful things. I’ve been using it, walking with purpose. I participated in two virtual hikes around Yosemite–Vernal Falls (15,000 steps) and Valley Loop (35,800 steps)–and now I’m hiking the Pohono Trail (62,500 steps). Twice I’ve been awarded stars for doing over 5,000 steps in one day. Today I began four miles of switchbacks that, instructions say, should save my knees and give me the opportunity to look back on what I’ve passed. If they think I’m going to look down from a switchback, they can just think again.

Well, anyway, when the oncologist heard my sad story, he said, Would you like a referral to physical therapy for balance? David said, Yes. From his answer, and the speed with which he gave it, I infer that he’s getting tired of my leaning on him just in case.

So I’m now in physical therapy for balance. In my personal lexicon, physical therapy means young, skinny people telling me to do things I don’t want to do. My spirit wars against it. I’ve discovered–all right, I already knew–I cannot walk a white line while sober. I cannot stand on one leg without tipping over. I can stand on a little square of foam rubber with my eyes closed for a minute without reeling, mostly. I can do more than I can’t do. That’s promising.


Cochlea and vestibular system, by Nevit Dilmen, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0. Via Wikipedia

Nevertheless, the therapist arranged a hearing test. I said, Oh no, I hear just fine, but I knew the left ear is better than the right. After the first test, the audiologist arranged for two more tests to find out if there’s anything vestibular going on that might affect my balance. They will check me for nystagmus. They might be able to help me.

Oh, joy. They will find something vestibular and then help me with more physical therapy. I will never get out of that place.

But despite all my moaning about PT, I accepted the prospect of hearing and vestibular problems with dignity and grace.

Then, two days ago, while waiting for the veterinarian to call William to the examination room, I picked up a magazine and it fell open to an article about Old Dog Vestibular Syndrome, “a sudden, non-progressive disturbance of balance.”

“Most dogs present with the sudden onset of loss of balance, disorientation, head tilt, and irregular jerking eye movements called ‘nystagmus’. Many dogs will become reluctant to stand or walk. Most dogs will lean or fall in the direction of their head tilt.”

They also stagger and wobble.

The good news is that most dogs recover.

And they do it without physical therapy.

Since I read that, I’m doing without dignity and grace.