Welcome back gifts

An assemblage of recent appreciative gifts, mostly collected in this photo:


(#1) Objects of appreciation (in front of a wall mostly devoted to William Haefeli gay-themed cartoons from the New Yorker)

I do not disguise the fact that this photo is in part a demonstration of my mastering (slowly but successfully) yet another skill in posting to my blog: taking photos with my iPad, sending them to my Stanford account, and editing them there for publication. (As an example of the photographer’s art, it’s not much, but the point is that I can do it at all.)

There are three parts.

Surprise gifts from Max Meredith Vasilatos, delightful greetings on my return from rehab:

— a crystal penguin with a jellyfish inside it: a handmade glass blown paperweight, Murano style

— a 5.75 inch baby elephant standing decorative statue figurine, gray

Both of them are unique in my collection. Crystal penguins, yes. Mammoths, yes. But not a crystal penguin with a jellyfish embedded in it; or a trumpeting elephant to keep my many  mammoths company (welcome, cousin!).

Having had tons of contact with other people in the hospital and the rehab center, I am keen to See People, and was making plans to have visits from suitably masked visitors keeping their distance — especially my grand-daughter, of whom I have seen very little while she turned into a young woman preparing to go off to college; and Max, the one remaining local friend who spends time with me for the pleasure of my company (and not because they are in some way responsible for my care). But now the pandemic rages, and we’re supposed to hunker down at home with just the closest of companions.

I did it before, and I can do it again. Far from ideal, but very much the right thing to do. So I’m back in isolation (though I did manage an *extremely* cautious 6:30 a.m. visit to the lab at Palo Alto Medical Foundation, for blood tests, in preparation for a video appointment Friday with my primary) Note of displeasure: at the crank of dawn today it was exceptionally cold for this part of the world: 37 F. I was shaking with cold, and afflicted by crippling osteoarthritis pain (shoulders and knees shrieking). Predicted high for the day only in the 60s. That is, winter temps. (Meanwhile, I’m slathering on lots of Biofreeze gel, a topical anesthetic.)

From Zheng-Sheng Zhang, Professor of Chinese in the Department of Linguistics and Asian/Middle Eastern Languages at San Diego State University, lovely presents to soothe me in difficult times!

First, a wheel of pu’er  (or pu-erh, apparently) tea, from the southwestern province of Yunnan, where the ancient ‘Teak Horse Trail’ starts.  I like the instructions for brewing the tea: “break off a piece and boil”. (The wheel of tea is not notably photogenic, so I provide no picture.)

And then there’s the penguin Bella; with special thanks to Natalie Zhang, for the gift of her childhood penguin (also her school’s mascot). That is just lovely.

Then the rainbow unicorn, an earlier sweet gift, reported on in my 10/21/20 posting “Three comforting presents” :

From Kim Darnell, amidst a huge selection of stuffed animals, some quite eccentric, that had appeared at the local Safeway, a rainbow unicorn (with a golden horn, ears, and hooves).

Now, for something completely different: an invention of great convenience for those of us who have pledged to use a walker for getting around: the walker tray:


(#2) Walker, with tray in place, hanging out in the kitchen

My therapists made me promise to get around using a walker, not just my own two feet, so as not to risk a fall. But then there’s a lot that is very difficult to manage. I go to the kitchen and prepare a plate of food; how, then, to get that plate to the table? (The real-life answer is that I cheat, nervously holding the plate of food in my right hand while steering the walker one-handed, with my left hand.) And, of course, there’s more: how do I get a urinal full of urine from the bedroom to the bathroom to empty it? Immensely awkward.

There is, however, a solution, illustrated above: a tray that fits over the handles of the walker and provides a surface for transporting things. An excellent invention, a simple pleasure.

2 Responses to “Welcome back gifts”

  1. The rainbow penguin shower curtain | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] and thoroughly approved of all of this, and of the tray insert for my walker, illustrated in my 12/9/20 posting “Welcome back […]

  2. Sim Aberson Says:

    For those interested in pu’er, I found The Tea Girl of Mockingbird Lane by Lisa See a wonderful novel.

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