Thursday, December 11, 2008

Rehab progress 28

Back to the treadmill today. Nothing remarkable, except that I tire so quickly, and can only go half the distance I was making easily a few weeks ago.

More slow progress ahead.


pgk said...

Exercise is good.

What you can't do seems to grab your attention more compellingly than what you can do grabs it.

Jim Cobabe said...


Good point. I guess I'm never going to be satisfied with performance less than what I could do before. It's something to aim for -- essential motivation for physical conditioning. I probably will fall somewhere short, but at least I have a goal in mind.

I gave my car to my sister this week, facing the fact that I have no further use for it now. It will be long before I can drive again, if ever. These kinds of compromises are real setbacks, that hit me hard, right where I am weak and vulnerable. I can cope, but not by ignoring the frustration or pretending that I don't feel any pain or sorrow.

Set the mark at what I could do before, unimpaired. I mourn at how much has been lost, and am daunted by the scope of new challenges.

But I will face up to the challenges, come what may...

pgk said...

Good morning, Jim.

I'm not sure that focusing on a goal is the same thing as focusing on what you can't do. Maybe sometimes it is, but maybe sometimes it isn't.

My daughter was born with very little going for her except her physical reality. Brain stem largely destroyed, a third or more of both of her larger lobes gone. If my husband and I had focused on what she couldn't do, which doctors said was and would forever be just about everything, we would have been paralysed, wracked with fear, loss, and frustration, caught in a trap of determinism. How do you find your way from somewhere you aren't? Where do you start?

Fortunately, we found a physical therapist who turned it all around for us with this basic principle: Start from where you are, and build on that, daily, bit by bit. You're doing that, of course.

Our successes started out small. We had no goals in mind because we didn't know what was possible. Building that bit by bit everyday, effects of our work started to snowball, surpassing all health care providers' expectations.

Just sayin'. Naturally, do it whatever way helps you get somewhere, Jim.

I like your rehab reports. This one was short on details. Makes it sound like nothing happened, when I'm pretty sure something did.

pgk said...

I'm not going out today, though normally I would out of habit. My husband and I have to drive to Moab as soon as I finish feeding my daughter later this morning.

I was thinking of going out tonight, with my kids, as tonight's the full Cold Moon, or Long Night Moon. Around here, the moon's so bright you can hike without a light on a bare trail.

We have clouds this a.m., which might mean the moonlight will be absent, in which case, I'll wait till the next reasonable opportunity for a night hike.

Is the moon bright where you are, or does some of that Utah Valley haze slosh over into your neighborhood?

Jim Cobabe said...


I see your argument from the perspective of working with your daughter. Perhaps this is the position I should be starting from, but I have already been there. I am aspiring to something that used to be routine. Maybe I will never reach that level of attainment again, but I feel I have to try.

I have the hindsight of remembering what was very possible before. I want no less.

Jim Cobabe said...


Snow in this locale today. The weather forecast is predicting a major storm through the weekend. Looks like fun. I love this country, when the snow falls. All is white, clean, quiet, and peaceful.

I'm not up to snowshoe touring just now, but I think I can impose on my folks for an occasional drive up on the skyline. It is an austere, unfriendly place this time of year. Not many venture up there when the deep snow piles up. But within the right frame, it presents a unique unsurpassed beauty that has to be experienced firsthand.

Two winters ago. I started climbing a bluff above the highway where the paragliders like to ski. I followed a trail that was made by snowboarding kids. They weigh about 90 pounds -- I weigh over 250. On each of their steps that they had fashioned, over the compacted surface, I fell through. I ploughed a new trail 5 feet deep. I don't imagine those snowboarders loved me any for destroying their trail.

Anyway, I met one of the guys sailing behind his parafoil, on top of the bluff. He invited me to try paragliding sometime. I said it looks fun, but I prefer keeping my boots on the ground.

Maybe something to give a try, some time.

Jim Cobabe said...


I am not uncomfortable in darkness, but we are poorly adapted to deal with it. I spend about a third of my wintertime hiking at night, in fairly dark conditions. Sometimes it gets a little spooky, but you never have to worry much about competing traffic.

Good flashlights and warm gear help a lot.

pgk said...

Jim, I've made no argument against your striving toward your goal.

I'm merely wondering if you're looking at it from the wrong end, since you seem to be focusing in tightly on what you can't do and on where you are not.

I can see that you're building on what you can do. In that, you are no different from me, trying to help my daughter, or her, rising from who knows where she was to make it out of the cave-in she suffered.

Like I said, I like your rehab reports, but this one focused on what didn't happen, as if nothing much did. I'm fairly sure something important did happen.

I have no intention of arguing this with you, I'm just suggesting there might be more going on than you realize where you are right now.

I will say I've seen a distinct change in your language here since this last stroke. It's getting sharper.

pgk said...

I don't have the gear to get out in more than 8 inches of snow. I did some snowshoeing with my dog up around Deer Creek Resevoir a long time ago. The sense of solitude ran deep as the snow.

Over the last two winters, I've acquired a taste for winter hiking here. Used to be I wouldn't go out if temps fell below 40 degrees, but the first full winter I lived here I raised my cold tolerance to 35 degrees, then last year to 25. It rarely gets colder than that in the daytime.

I now hike all winter that the ground is clear, or at least as long as there's not snow totalling over 6-8 inches. Since this is pretty dry country, heavy snows come infrequently. I encounter coyotes most often during the winter. I love seeing them, though most often they show me their backside.

I like your story about breaking a five-ft.-deep trail through the snow! Got any more stories like that?

I have one about a hoverfly (I think it was) I encountered late this summer, just before the weather turned cold. I'd like to see what you make of it, especially if, in your encyclopaedic knowledge, you've accumulated some wealth of information about hoverflies. Either way, it's a fun story and I'll be back to tell it.

pgk said...

Don't I remember you telling a story on this blog about a spooky nighttime hike?

I was just thinking I'd like to hear some of your fire stories sometime.

I don't hike at night often, but I do have a good headlamp in case I'm caught out later than expected. I'm not confident enough to hike at night in the snow. Haven't got the constitution for it.

Oh, wait. If I make an argument like that, if I say, I won't do this because I haven't got the constitution for it, I'm assuming I know for a certainty that I don't have the constitution.

I thought I didn't have the constitution to do any winter hiking, but I've found out I've been wrong about that.

So maybe I do have the constitution to hike at night in the snow. I'll have to think about that.

Jim Cobabe said...


Please don't try anything that is too risky, or not safe. Observe every rule of safety and let good sense be the rule, always. I am not advocating solo winter snow trekking, just because I have been so irresponsible.

You have too much at stake -- stay safe.

pgk said...

Please don't try anything that is too risky, or not safe. Observe every rule of safety and let good sense be the rule, always. I am not advocating solo winter snow trekking, just because I have been so irresponsible.

Cool. Jim gave me THE TALK. Thanks!

I promise:
I will not try anything too risky.
I will find try anything not safe.
I will observe every rule of safety, including not bending over to tie my shoes in cougar country.
I will let good sense be the rule.

I will not step outside my range of acceptable risk.

We're off to Moab. I'll talk to you later.

Jim Cobabe said...


I am familiar enough with the syrphidae in general, but cannot claim much more than cursory expertise in entomlogy. Perhaps some species interests you for the natural aphid control potential.

The night sky is typically very clear in this area. Air pollution in the area mostly originates from wildfires and wind-borne dust. There seems to be very little in the way of air drainage from Utah Valley.

pgk said...

Mornin', Jim.

Here's my hoverfly story (at least I think it was some kind of hoverfly).

I was sitting, writing, in the canyon at my lower perch near the spring when I noticed a persistent buzzing sound. Looking down, I spotted, hovering about a meter below my sandstone perch, a small fly. It looked like a yellow jacket, black and bright yellow in coloration, but its drone was all wrong. Yellow jackets’ buzzing changes pitch constantly This little bug droned at a fairly consistent pitch that was higher than a yellow jacket’s. The fly arduously defended a small patch of dirt and pebbles directly below me. Maintaining a constant hover point of about two inches off the ground, it ticked vigilantly left and right in its horizontal plane, like a needle on a gauge, never budging from its axis except to pursue other flying insects trespassing its territory. After a second or two of pursuit, it would return to settle exactly into its position in the air like a bird landing on an invisible branch.

As I watched the bug, wondering what it was, I shifted my foot, the toe of which slightly overhung the rock I use as a footstool. There was hardly any lag between the moment I shifted my foot and the fly’s swooping up to hover an inch out from the toe of my boot. It inspected my toe for two or three seconds then swung back to its hover point below.

I wondered how far this creature’s awareness extended. My right hand was resting on my knee. I ticked my index finger, just slightly. Immediately, the fly zipped up to the finger that had moved, even though after ticking it I held it perfectly still. It hovered an inch out from my fingertip, hanging in the air. When I didn’t move again, it flew down to its invisible branch. I ticked my finger again, even more slightly. The movement was barely perceptible, yet up zipped the fly to hover an inch out from the tip.

It was in interesting game, but I didn't want the little creature to spend energy needlessly on my account, so I didn't provoke it again.

Finally, after deciding conditions were to its liking, it landed on the dirt patch it had been guarding and dug rapidly. Either it uncovered or excavated a hole with amazing speed then entered for a few seconds. When it emerged, it buried the hole and zoomed away. Except for a slight disturbance on the surface of the ground that resembled a tiny landing strip, the creature’s worksite was indistinguishable from the surrounding terrain. The fly didn’t return while I remained there.

pgk said...

Hoverfly, you think? Or something else?

I tried looking it up when I got home but could only come close, no exact matches. It most closely resembled two or three pictures I found of hoverflies.

In the late spring and summer, my garden is lively with hoverflies and all kinds of bees, except honeybees, which don't seem to find the plants flowering in my garden attractive till late in the season.

Jim Cobabe said...


Good guess -- I am no judge of insect behavior. Taxonomy of insects is a complex discipline in itself, but I never devoted much energy toward learning it.

The desert hosts a great number of the syrphid flies. Some of them are said to "mimic" bees in their coloration. I have never accepted the rationale for this -- I don't find it credible to ascribe accidental adaptational changes to implement protective schemes. If these flies look like bees, it is obviously because someone painted them that way in the first place.

Jim Cobabe said...


I do have some practical experience with insects, but it has rather narrow focus. My dad and I managed bees for several years, around his home in Fallbrook, California. Many of our beehives perished during a couple of unfortunatly timed drought years in the region, but we accrued plenty of honey -- and bee stings -- in the mean time.

pgk said...

You've been a beekeeper! Cool!

Honeybees have fascinated me since I was a child. Their colors enchant my eyes, for some reason.

Most of the stings I've received throughtout my life have come from hornets and wasps. One honeybee I stepped on when I was a child, I think.

From an outside entrance they made, a colony of yellow jackets chewed their way into our house in Payson. We had to destroy them, which was sad. But we couldn't very well have them flying around inside the house, especially now that they thought it was theirs. And yellow jackets are among the most difficult creatures to relocate or reason with.