Julia Hubbel

The final Wednesday before a new bionic body part gets installed, and it was worth it

A visit to the coast as the summer finally heats up, I get to do another hike with my buddy from Florence and I notice a lot more about America and where we are.

I spent an hour with my personal trainer, part of a package I'd already bought, before hitting the road west to the coast. It was more work on restoring muscles to my poor reduced shoulder. There's a quick story there. Many of you recall years ago where advertisers would take a person's face and put product X on one side and not the other and then show you the results. Well, that happened with my left arm.

Since November I've not been able to train as I would like, due to two surgeries on my left shoulder and a pretty bad hand. I've made the hand work anyway, but the shoulder? Well. It was the perfect case of being able to work out one side and not the other. Last week my fitness trainer took a photo and the difference was stunning. I had wrinkles, cellulite on my bicep, and the rear shoulder muscles were a third the size on the right.

All is most certainly not lost, for all I have to do is work. Sure, that's going to be hard with a hand down. But that's why I work with my physical therapist and my fitness trainer. Between the two, I've got a band and body weight program to get that shoulder and the bicep back in shape. That program is already underway. Now that I can see that in my mind's eye I can also visualize the area's growth as I work.

And I vehemently disagree (as will Penny Nelson and Nurit Amichai and others, my bet) with this article, which does not track with my experience. I have twenty years past that point and my muscles do indeed grow and they grow fast. While it varies person by person, I honestly despise articles which give folks a reason to not even start. Phooey. I want my guns back and I will have them back.

Of course it's going to take time and work. However, the end result is worth it. And I LOVE dumb articles and dumb doctors who say "you'll never (have those muscles, walk properly, do this again)."

What wasn't phooey was the hike up Cummins Creek today with my buddy Stef. Stef and Cooper, her Rottie mix, met me at Heceta Head Beach and we drove north to our fave hiking spot. We had discussed a short hike, but by god we did the whole six miles. My busted-up left foot didn't much like it, but I needed the work. I also needed to see how well I hiked one-handed, which I will have to do in Bhutan.

Worked just fine.

Stef and I had one of those long, long LONG rambling, wonderful conversations between two adults who read, who live hard, who question life and who make better choices and still occasionally make dumb ones, which is why I am going to miss hiking with her a lot when I finally move on. Meanwhile I really hope to do plenty more.

She took on a job with the local casino, then she and her husband opened up some AirBnB rooms which suddenly started take up a LOT of time because it's so hard to get cleaning help. I find listening to her talk about her adult kids, working with her rambunctious but calming dog, and all the challenges she has really validating. Largely because she finds ways to set boundaries which are healthy both with family members and with herself, and just like other smart women I know, she still finds that inner conversation a challenging one.

As do we all. That's why we need focused people around us to keep us thinking and challenging ourselves.

I've missed my hikes with Stef and will miss them when I leave, which will happen sooner than I would like.  While I haven't completely crossed off staying in Oregon for a while, the sheer costs of it still focus me on becoming an ex-pat. That said, I would love to keep the two talented doctors I now have for the busted-up hand and foot on the right, and if I can make that happen, I most certainly will. For once those bits are done and rehabbed, I can throw myself full on into the next chapter.

Part of launching myself at seventy may well require a bit more shop time at first, but I figure it's no different from a race car that is getting new tires before returning to the Indy 500.

From Cummins, Stef headed south and I headed north. In Yachats, I picked up sourdough for my neighbor, and stopped to scrub a darling French bullie named Java on the sidewalk. Java was so happy that his mom took photos, then he flopped over to give me belly, in that wonderful way that dogs will do when they trust your hands.

He was the first of several, which reminded me of why I won't stay where I can't have a pet.

This is a shot I got out at Maumee Bay a while ago when I was playing around with vintage lenses. I shot this photo with a Canon FD 50mm 1.4 S.S.C. This lens is fantastically sharp when stopped down a bit.
Photo by infoxicated / Unsplash

From there I visited my four favorite beaches, the wind curling the tops of the waves and blasting the incoming tide against the rocks to throw spume in all directions. It was cold in that gorgeous way that Pacific Northwest beaches are cold in summer, the sun hot  merely mile in, but on the beach, it's coat weather.
I love that, just love it.

On two of those beaches, I ran into women at or near my age, in both cases acting like women in their nineties, who needed help getting up and down the stones that you have to negotiate to get to the beach and back to the parking lot. Mind you, I have a very sore left foot that needs surgery and a bad left hand attached to an arm that I just slammed against a hard wood step, and it so badly bruised that if you breathe on it, it barks. Yet here I am helping two women who can barely navigate a slight slope with a few rocks.

And people wonder why on earth I work out so much. While happily those with whom I interact are at the other end of that scale, this is just a reminder about the choices we make. I'm the injured one, yet I'm the one helping people up and down the stones. What kind of world is that? Crazy.

The wind had heaped new dunes in Florence where I met another woman with another French bully named Marvel, who snuggled his sandy mug against my toes with his butt in the air while I gave him a scrub. The single fastest way to meet people, at least for me, is to respectfully ask permission to pet a pooch, then find ways to compliment their puppers. That is a wide open door to a friendly conversation, for every dog owner has The Best Dog in the World. Of course they do.

Then last night I schlepped three big, heavy wood bookcases into the back of my car, because I have to get them to consignment tomorrow. They have so much stuff of mine that they need my bookcases to store and showcase them in, and that moves just that much more outta my house.

That was yesterday. A hike, a few hauls, a few helps, and my left hand got a solid workout. In a few days, the entire CMC joint will be removed, and a strong wire will replace the function. I will have to work hard to regain opposing thumb strength again, which will begin in September, right about the time I leave for Thailand and Bhutan.

That's a fine way to retrain a hand: be distracted by adventure while squeezing a ball for hours on end. I think that's doable.

Today I am skipping the gym to keep packing, as next week I will have a hand out of commission. It's hard-core time. Ready for it. This is life, and it's what we train for. Now that the paraffin is off my pissed-off mitt, it's time to get started.

Almost gone....Julia Hubbel