As I continue to work on things away from this blog (which is a collection of Free-Time/Casual Online Writing, Remarks, And Notes By ME Whelan) and continue to figure out what goes and what stays of my existing online-writing, the de-emphasizing of one or another continues as well....

Monday, December 8, 2014

Walking In The Suburbs Is A Big Hoot

(transfer post)  Note:  Transferred from the "WordCrafter" blog, which has really been kind of a dumping ground while I transition a bunch of stuff from one site/blog to another.

The following post is a great, big, long, post about some of the challenges of walking in the suburbs, but mainly (in addition to the usual ones) doing so as I get back to "good-as-new" after a couple of "good sized" leg injuries (involving more than one ligament, among "whatever else").

For all its length, this post is incomplete; because there's a whole world of "issues" related to any number of things involved with walking in the kind of place I live, but then there are issues related to getting back successfully from the injuries, related to living with them, and issues related to finding ways to exercise when the weather (or some other factor) make walking outside impossible.

In any case, I'm posting what I spent some time writing the other day.  I'll figure out how to put all the "issues" together on some blog (or whatever).  I just have too many things I've written and then never posted anywhere.

So here it all is - in all its length and yet incomplete-ness::

For a person who has never walked with a cane I seem to have built up quite the collection of folding canes.  If you think my collection is made up of fine, artistic, antique, collector-item kind of canes it isn't.    It's made up of your basic, run-of-the-mill, affordably priced folding canes that can be found (as they say) wherever run-of-the-mill folding canes are sold.

Because none of these canes has been expensive (either because these things can run as low as ten or fifteen dollars anyway, or else because I wait until see particularly appealing ones at a particularly low price), it would not be, I suppose, the proverbial end of the world for anyone to buy one and later discover it had been something of a mistake in one way or another.

Still, as I've watched my own collection of folding canes grow, and as I've noticed that its rate of growth has increased as I've gotten closer and closer to not needing a cane at all (hopefully, ever - or at least not until I'm a hundred and five years old).  The short story of why my collection has only really grown as I've moved farther and farther past needing a cane at all is that when I had knee/ligament injuries that were serious enough to seriously limit the amount of time or distance I put on an injury, I either wasn't really able to use the leg for much walking at all, or else I'd reached a point where I needed more time/distance with walking in order to build up strength, but by that time I discovered a) that a cane didn't really take enough weight off the leg for my purpsoes or b) I'd progressed to the point where a cane only slowed me down (and with the injury still limiting the time it allowed me on it, I didn't need something that slowed me down and hindered the "actual moving forward" with exercising the muscles that needed to be stronger).

That was Lesson 2 for me when it came to cane use.  No, that "2" wasn't a typo.  Lesson 1 had been that my original choice of a hiking stick for when I walked a distance far enough to need to keep some of the weight off the injury, the walking stick that I'd planned to kind of "hang on" turned out to kind of/sort of be OK-ish but hurt my hand more than it helped with the leg's "issue".

Below is my not-very-fasincating (I'm the first to say) account of how my increasingly impressive collection of folding canes (and one hiking stick) came to be, along with some the things (all pretty minor) I've discovered or considered along the way.

The World Is Full Of All Kinds Of Canes/Walking Sticks For People With More Extreme/Limiting Needs (Permanent Or Temporary) Than I Had, But I Had My Own Complicating Factor - Suburban Streets With Either No Sidwalks, Occasional Sidwalks, And Even More "Occasional" Smooth Or Level Sidewalks

If you look online for canes you'll not only see every kind of cane in the book (more accurately, on the screen and maybe even in the world) there is, but all I wanted/needed was a simple cane (or so I thought) that might help me keep a little weight off the injury when I made (at first) the three-mile round-trip to the nearest convenience store; but ultimately, the six-mile round-trip the shopping center that has a regular grocery store.

The best way to describe where I live is that not all that long ago I'd call it a "semi-rural suburb", but these days it's far more developed town that has no "downtown" (where sidewalks are generally included).  Instead, it's got one main street that GPS devices call "a highway", and a few "back roads" (now busy steets with no businesses) where cars from one "genuine" highway or another, or from neighboring towns, drive (generally) above the 35 mph speed limit where there is one that low.  The rest of the town is, for the most part, a matter of housing developments built when woods were knocked down.  So, depending on the age of the street, some streets look more rural than others.  Some look more suburban than others.  Sidewalks are almost non-existent, although in more recent years builders have been putting sidewalks on one side of some streets (none of which do me any good).

What Hasn't Helped Me

What hasn't helped me is that twenty-two years ago when I was going through an extremely bizarrely handled (mishandled, as far as I'm concerned)) divorce, I was left to live in my car while also ordered by the court to pick up my children each afternoon and for all weekends (which meant that they were only without me after dinner on week-nights).  I was left without money to keep the car inspected, which eventually led to my not being able to renew my license (in Spring, 1993).  The original fees involved at the time, of course, added up; and later even when I had the "spare" several hundred
dollars needed to cover them I couldn't make myself hand over that much money to "The System", mainly because I'd been given so many run-arounds and strange or inconsistent (or non-existent) answers by "The System" that I was afraid if I handed over a good-sized chunk of money for the license yet some other other, bizarre, moving of some previously invisible goal-post would happen.  From time to time over the years I've tried to get some kind of answers or results about the license, but I don't have one.

Something else that hasn't helped me has been that there is only an extremely l limited bus service in the town, and the bus stops are farther than the nearest store anyway.  The town knows that, so there are (as I think of them) "weird little buses" that are available to, I guess, elderly people and/or disabled people.  I don't know how any of those work because when I first did the injury I wasn't.  While a few people mentioned buses available for some people who may qualify in one way or another, I didn't qualilfy (as far as I know).  Besides, people who had suggested I look into those "weird little buses" said "all you have to do is call them and tell them when you need a ride'.  My thing was that I was already trapped in the house except for those times when I either arranged a ride with a friend or was going out with a friend or family member; so I couldn't see being bothered even asking about those little buses.   Whenever someone has opened a taxi service in this "bedroom community" it has failed not long after.  While, I guess someone could call a taxi in from another town, but a trip out for, say, milk and bread is hardly worth whatever is involved with that "whole deal".

It's always just been easier for me to either walk to the convenience store or grocery store (for whatever I can either get at the convenience store or carry from the grocery store) and get "whatever else" when I'm with someone.  Why I'm mentioning all this is that less-than-smooth/effortless walking pretty much wasn't part of the picture even before I did the leg injury.  Also, since all but the feather-lightest of items in a grocery bag or handbag tend to add up; how much weight I'm lugging has always been a factor and a challenge.

Fortunately (but also unfortunately and in spite of the weather, terrain, and traffic-dependent walks involved) I've gotten to know every bad part of every stretch of walking area like the back of my hand. 

There was a time when the leg just let me know not to bother trying to leave the house if a car wasn't involved.    The street where I live (one of those quiet "housing development" I mentiond) I great for walking because cars only come by here or there.  At the time I'm referring to, however, I'd try to get some outside-the-house walking in and pretty much discover that I'd have to end the "walk"  only a house or two away from the end of my driveway.  Eventually, however, I could walk longer distances than that, but that's when I discovered that I didn't want to waste the limited time the leg gave me for being on it (even with only my own weight)  on walking on my own street and then still needing to walk to, say, the convenience store the next day.

Besides, at the time I had a kind of two-day cycle:  I'd walk outside one day, and do my laundry (which involves basement stairs) the next day - which meant that any outside walking efforts would be on the third day (time enough to get past any "new muscle issues" that had happened on the previous walking day).  As for laundry, by this time I'd developed a system that I won't go into; but somewhre along the way I progressed from only bringing downstairs super-light, small, loads to increasing the weight of the bag I had to bring downstairs.    All of this was when I started to think about the need for a cane ("or something"). 

Before this time I'd been relying on grocery store shopping carts to lighten the weight I was putting on the leg. In fact, inspired by the "wonderfulness" of shopping carts (which allowed me to walk fairly quickly and smoothly and pretty much feel like my normal self again), I decided to get one of those "old lady shopping carts" to use for both my shoulder bag and any other bags, and then to kind of lean on a little (not as much as the grocery store's big carriage, of course; but it did help just enough to get me from the house to the store).

By the second Fall (Autumn, not "fall as in oopsie!") following the injury I was finally, regularly, getting to at least the convenience store; which meant I could also get to the library, get out to take some foliage pictures (etc.), and find some place outside to do something (like get online or read) other than just concentrating on the next step the leg would have to make.

Winter 2010/2011) came.  Ice and snow got introduced into the mix (and even without any injury those streets can be one kind of nightmare or another once that happens).  My outdoor walking efforts pretty much ended (or close to it).  The matter of a cane wasn't a matter at all at that particular time.  In fact, it was the Fall of 2010 when, even though there was some recovering still to be done, I was happy to be able to wear dressy (and sparkly too!) high-heels to a special event.  All I needed to do was wait for good weather and think about when/whether I would be ready to attempt the walk to the shopping center and back, using that "old lady shopping cart" (either unfolded or folder) as support here or there.

The biggest challenge was really one spot on that "main drag" where there's a curve, two sets of guard-rails, sand underneath and in front of both of them, and some broken road and a storm drain underneath the other.  The road kind of slopes, and the drain-side guard-rail is the kind of thing that the person who slips or trips there could fall under it and end up "face down in a ditch" and on a whole lot of unpleasantness and maybe even some water - I don't know.  That's also a side of the road where the cars come around the curve fairly fast and close (some more than others) and aren't expecting to see a pedestrian.   It's all close and iffy enough without something like a shopping cart added to the mix. 

The other side of the road (and its guard-rail) present their own challenges.  Before the leg injury I used to decided if the traffic was slow enough for me to hurry past that stretch of guard-rail outside it.  Sometimes it was "nothing".  Sometimes, however, I didn't manage to correctgly estimate  how much time I had before, say, a truck came by closer to the guard-rail than I was comfortable with.  With the sand and occasional little rocks (or whatever) that are there, I didn't feel all that assured about combining hurrying AND sand; so unless the traffic was really, really, slow; I decided that I'd walk through a parking lot that's down "in a gully" and behind the guard-rail, and avoid that part of the curve altogether.  There was an incline involved with climbing up "from the gully" and getting back to street level, and I would often joke about how skilled I was at climbing "like Spiderman up a wall" (always watching out for rocks, sand, etc. and eventually getting to a narrow strip of "weed-stick growth" (sometimes cut, sometimes weedy and stringy, mixed withwhatever else has grown there) at the top of yet another incline.

Occasionally, someone cuts it down and reveals that incline isn't horribly steep, but it's there nonetheless.  So, between the "walking space" being on the narrow side anyway, and the fact that most people (but maybe especially I, with the "leg issue") would rather not find themselves rolling down even a modest hill (when all they really wanted was to get to the grocery store.

Most other terrain issues I could deal with, but this one was the one that meant I had to work my way up to being able not to just to walk that far, but to negotiate the shopping cart past that whole (as I've always thought of it) "muck of whatever".  Once the Winter passed I thought I'd try making the walk with the little cart and discovered that there was some new obstacle that meant I couldn't get past that part of the road without going on the side of it.  I just didn't feel stable on my feet enough to risk that other side of the road (particularly because one feels like one may be killed there under the best of circumstances and walking-est of legs.  That attempt resulted in going back and "doing the next thing" (which meant forgetting about even trying to get to the shopping center, in view of the new and apparently permanent obstacle).

The leg was obviously and consistently getting better, but there were still issues with strength and, to some degree, some types of stability.  Still, it was better enough that I thought getting rid of the little cart would let me figure a way to get to the shopping center.  At that point, I didn't need to lean on something in order to lighten the weight on the leg.  I pretty much just needed something that might help me deal with awkward climbing (and that included not just the tricky spots along the route, but things like particularly awkward or high curbs or stairs.  Any time I did ride with someone who drove something other than a sedan, I'd find getting into their vehicle challenging.

I've kind of lost track of exactly when it was I decided that a walking stick of some kind would probably be a good idea, and bcause I was kind of too close to an age that sounded a little too old for me not to have some vanity issues, I decided that a hiking stick would make me look and feel less like a permanent cane-user (which I knew by then that I just wasn't)  The thing was, however, that even though there's the sidewalk and general-terrain/traffic issue, I didn't want some big, thick, orange-handled, walking stick that looked like I'd just been dropped into the mountains (or something).  Pine trees and poor walking options aside, the fact is that where I live is about as suburban and residential as it gets.

So, I went to Amazon and found a nice, unobtrusive, black, folding, hiking stick (complete with "ice-pick tip" for ice, and some other tip for something else (I forget).  Since even unobtrusive hiking sticks aren't what one would generally see pedestrians with where I live, I did hope that anyone who noticed didn't think I'd brought it with me to fend off racoons (or even muggers); because a) I'm used to walking without fear of animals showing up, and b) it's not like I live in some high-mugging-rate section of a high-crime urban neighborhood.  I reminded myself that nobody would be paying attention to me walking down either of the two long streets involved.  Of course, that's only partially true because in a town like the one in which I live, while some people aren't going to be paying any attention, some - no doubt - do.  Let's not kid ourselves.

Yes, the hiking stick would be the answer to my problems (or so I thought), and for a few walks it actually did help some.  The trouble was that the way I was using it involved my essentially "hanging on it" .  That meant that after a few walks I discovered that I was putting too much weight on an old hand injury.  Since I'd come to rely so heavily on both my hands and arms for picking up the "liftiing-my-weight" slack, I knew I couldn't afford to risk injuring either.

At some point I just abandoned the hiking stick.  Actually, it had allowed me to do enough walking that I'd actually built up some more strength in the leg.  Somewhere around the time that I got the hiking stick I'd also bought a basic, black, folding cane (under ten dollars).  Also somewhere around that time was when I realized that the cane just slowed me down.  Apparently, the "cane ship" had sailed, I thought.  I ended up stashing the folded cane in my over-sized shoulder bag in case I ever needed it (or in case I moved the leg wrong and did something to cause it new or aggravated problems).  It turned out I never needed the "security cane".

Life went on, and I did make it to the shopping center at least once, maybe twice.  That "life-going-on" thing meant, of course, that another Fall and Winter came around (2011/2012).  I started to notice that the "good" leg was showing signs of getting sick of my relying so heavily on it.  That was because the "good" leg was a previously (years ago) twice-fractured one that had been spared arthritis only (I think) because I'd learned to favor it in a way that reduced wear and tear on the the kneecap.

It was the very end of November, 2012, when I made a sudden and awkward move that resulted in my injuring the "bad-leg-turned-good-leg".  That was when the "whopper-injury"/"old" leg had to start pulling a little more of its own weight - ready or not, and while it had certainly come a long, long, way; the fact was it wasn't entirely ready and did start letting me know it.

It all was, as they say, a fine how-do-you-do.

Fortunately, it was Winter (but then again, as far as I'm concerned, it's always kind of unfortunate that it's Winter).  By the time this "horror" went on I'd forgotten where I'd stored the black folding cane AND the hiking stick, so ordered myself a cane that I thought would go well with my Winter clothes - a bronze, folding, one with a "wood" Derby handle.

That's the one I actually did take with me (unfolded always) for use with getting up curbs I still didn't really need one to just support me under regular walking circumstances, because the "old" leg had become so much stronger by then, and the problem with the "new" one wasn't about supporting weight, really.  It was more about bending the knee and being careful not to put weight on it in "the wrong" way (which I knew how to do).

So, while never really using a cane for "just walking", I did, at that time, know that I'd have to keep one handy for quite some time to come.   That's when I decided I needed a "Spring" cane "in order not to look/feel downtrodden".  My plan was to still use the bronze one if that one went well enough with what I was wearing, but if I was wearing something more in keeping with Spring or Summer the "Spring" cane (white background/pale pink flowers, "wood" Derby handle) might just make me look, or at least feel, a little more uplifted.

Some time in the warmer months of 2013 I started making the walk to the convenience store again, and I did always bring a cane.  There are a few things with multi-ligament "issues", and one is that ever single little indent or sllightest un-level sidewalk (not to mention every acorn, handful of gravel, or whatever else) brings to mind a "Princess and Pea" kind of situation.  Even without ever trying to walk down the busier, main, street; pretty much every foot of the walk from the house to the store meant watching exactly where, and how, I was stepping.  The good thing about that was that by so carefully paying attention to how I stepped, and how I turned my feet, I was also essentially exercising muscles that would not have been exercised under normal walking conditions (namely, indoors or on a smooth and level sidewalk).  Over time, and always being careful, I began using the little "dents" in the sidewalk, areas where tree roots meant very awkward stepping, and anything else that made the walk imperfect, to practice negotiating the different ones, rather than just stepping around them.

Still not using the canes for walking, I always carried one with me not just for the rare, thick, curb or some of the tree-root areas; but because I kind of had a fear that I'd make some wrong move and find myself stranded a mile-and-a-half away from home with some new "horrible thing" that had happened as a result of a wrong move.

The thing with ligament injuries, too, is that adding a folded up aluminum cane to one's shoulder bag (which already has more weight than one or the other ligament would prefer) . This meant that what worked better for me was to keep the cane unfolded and handy, so I could carry it separate from the shoulder bag.  (Besides, having a folded cane seems like a good idea until after walking without it, one needs to suddenly unfold it in order to negotiate a curb and cross a main street.)  (Gee, if I'd known that I would have bought either the pale pink or pale lilac cane that didn't fold.  Live and learn.)

Over the months that I was pretty unstable on my feet, I did rely heavily on the bronze cane for getting myself into the basement with my laundry.  I also relied it (for a time) for getting in and out of the shower.

At this point in my story, here's some of the things I learned, as well as some concerns that arose:

Folding canes (as compared to some "telescoping" walking sticks) have "ligaments" of their own (elastics).  From what I noticed, both canes seemed to remain strong, but I wondered if (particularly with bringing one into the shower with me) either the elastic may eventually become compromised or just worn with time.  I also wondered about water bujild-up inside the cane (even though I tried to shake it out).

The other thing was, I wasn't using these canes "the standard way" (just for walking).  I was using them for some pretty extreme climbing situations sometimes, and kind of turning them into alternatives to handrails.  (For example, when climbing down from a high vehicle and using the inexpensive cane as the only "hand rail" I had.)

I kind of designated the bronze cane as the "indoor cane", which meant I mostly used it for the shower and as a "railing" when I brought laundry bags downstairs.  This meant that the bronze cane took quite a beating, not only with the water issue but with being dropped on th concrete basement floor.  (Again, live and learn when it comes to knowing where to lean your cane while you do your laundry.)

The "pretty" cane (the flower one) also took its own beating, because, for some reason, it seems even someone who isn't generally prone to dropping things can drop a lightweight cane surprisingly often (and outside, that means on concrete or blacktop, sometimes with rocks or gravel or whatever else thrown in).

Although both canes still seemed pretty strong, the bronze one was starting to seem slightly "loose-ish".  The "wood" handles on both canes had been scratched and nicked almost from the beginning.  It doesn't really take much for those "wood" handles (whether real wood or just "wood-ish coated") to be nicked.  Because of that, I was thinking it was time to get a nice, new, folding cane.  I did use the stuff that covers scratches on wood furniture, and it made the cane handles look better.  Still, they had been nicked enough that their obvious imperfection, even though "painted" brown, bugged me.  Besides, I imagined being out, getting caught in the rain, and discovering walnut-colored hands or even clothes.

At some point I decided to buy a new Summer cane (different colors, more Summer-y handle too).  Then I had a couple of weddings coming up, so I bought "an evening" cane to go with what I thought I'd be wearing.  It turned out I didn't wear what I'd planned, so I used the new floral cane for the wedding; and decided to put away the "evening" cane (a "brushed gold" looking kind of thing) for some other time (maybe Winter) because somehow the "gold" cane (lovely as it is) just doesn't seem right for streets that are more "hiking-stick material".  Then, too, I decided I'd rather not bring the really nice floral cane out when I walked, mainly because it's so pretty and even wedding-worthy, I didn't want the "pearl" hande ruined if it couldn't stand up to being dropped in the dirt or on concrete.

This was when I decided to look for an inexpensive but pretty cane.  So, at some point I found a pink metallic one (with a "wood" handle)  I could feel free to let it get beaten up and not feel too bad about it.   After enjoying the new (although less elegant) pink cane for awhile, it started to occur to me that maybe people would think it was a breast-cancer pink cane (even though the color was different).    Good cause as the whole breast-cancer thing is, I didn't want something I took out with me to seem like a reminder of that.  And, to be honest, walking in my particular suburb kind of makes a person look like "a sad case of one kind of another" (at least if one is walking for groceries, rather than walking in running or walking clothes).  Again, not that I thought anyone was really paying attention, but I just didn't want anyone thinking that in my whole mix of "whatever issues I probably had" (in their eyes), breast cancer was among them.

Then, too, by this time another Autumn was rolling around, and it was time to get rid of the pale mauve umbrella and replace it with a darker color.  It turns out when one carries an unfolded cane for almost no real reason, and yet needs it for the occasional "weird climbing" situation, or particularly high curb or stairs; it's only natural to notice that one's cane and one's umbrella should match, or at least complement each other (not to mention seem appropriate for the season).

At one point or another during all this time, there have been two "mistake canes", both of which were extremely reasonably priced, one of which I got my money back for because it was a horrible, horrible, piece of junk (with paint that came off in my hand, loose elastic, and sections that didn't even match).

The other one was intended to be the Winter replacement for the bronze cane.  The "wood-grain" cane does fold, but is somewhat different from the others.  Also, it's slightly thicker and heavier than the others.  It was advertised as "walnut", but it turned out to be "maple" (or the other way around.  Either way, it's heavier and generally less "light-and-airy" looking than many others.  I decided that one (with a wood color that kind of matches the woodwork in the bathroom) would be a good "bathroom cane", not that I need or use one at this point; but I've become so "you-never-know paranoid" about developing a surprise knee problem,  I figured it makes sense to leave the most sturdy but less appealing cane in the bathroom (at least until I either get past all the "you-never-know-ness" or else give the sturdy cane to someone else who needs one).

Besides, here's the thing (here's two things, actually):  It's not like I'm thirty years old.  There's a good chance I'll be revisiting "the cane thing" at some point in the next, say, forty years.  The second thing is that I write online. There's always a way to write about some things, in this case canes.

Then, too, there have been a couple of times when I've seen one or another generally impractical cane (at least in terms of its going with a lot of seasons or clothing) at a really low price; so here or there, and with the idea of, maybe, reviewing a number of canes from first-hand experience; I've acquired a whimsical, particularly pretty, or otherwise appropriately colored cane.

What has happened is that as both injuries have gotten closer and closer to "good as new" (and at this point the "old" one is extremely close to that, and the "new" one (now two years in) is, as well (although I can tell it is a little more "in the woods", as opposed to "out of the woods",  than the other one  Then again, with the "new" one being less complicated than the "old" one, I don't know when, if ever, I'll ever get back to just being kind of sure they can withstand the occasional "false move" without my being set back a couple of years (or worse).

I imagine I'll get back to being more sure about them, because I've seen how that happens; and I've seen how one can find it hard to imagine ever not worrying that some set-back might happen - only to eventually discover that feeling cautious or not-sure eventually does fade away.  I'm a heck of lot surer now than I was a couple of years ago, but I'm just not all the way back to "regular-sure" quite yet, particularly as long as I'm dealing with thinking about walking on streets that are a challenge for even the most able-bodied.

A couple of weeks ago I visited someone who lives in an older house that has a particularly high (and also awkward) "step situation".  It's a challenge for anyone who isn't tall enough to bypass the awkard part and/or for someone whose feet are, maybe, big enough that it wouldn't be an issue.  One of the situations for which I've always made sure I had a cane with me has been visiting this particular house.  At my last visit, I noticed that I really didn't need the cane that time.  Apparently, I've bujilt up at least that much strength.  I'm definitely seeing a time when I won't need a cane even for particularly challenging steps or inclines or vehicles.  Then, too, there are situations like my going to see a dance performance, running into super-steep, concrete steps with a railing.  Yes, the performance center had a ramp, but a) there was a crowd milling around and finding it would have taken longer than just getting up the two or three steep stairs, and b) I don't want to rely on a ramp when I have the opportunity to use stairs that may actually encourage building up strength more than, say, more shallow stairs or curbs do.

  Oddly, as I see even occasional need for a cane becoming less and less of an issue, I still find myself looking for special deals on folding canes that might be good for next Spring.  It seems the whole cane thing has become so much a part of my life that I haven't yet completely gotten out of it (or somethiing).

Besides, if I don't, I've got enough folding canes for every season, a few different moods, and the occasional special event (like the wedding at the rocky, ocean-front, venue) to know that I'm not only all set for the rest of time, but that I confidently review any number of canes in one online-writing situation or another.

Toward the end of the warm weather I finally got to that grocery store a few times, carrying one or another unfolded cane for what seemed like no good reason at all, with the exception of those few tricky places.  I thought I was all set until some kind of "construction stuff" showed up, which meant I wasn't sure of what I'd run into once I got to it.   Now, too, snow and ice are again factors (more not-knowing-what-I'll-run-into).

The blessing-in-disguise (with regard to the snow on the sidewalks on that one street to the convenience store) is that the other day it was really nice out, and I decided I was just so sick of bothering with trying to avoid puddles, snowbanks, ice, and whatever other obstacles there are on that sidewalk; I just decided to do what the high-school track kids do, which is use the non-sidewalk side of the street (not the safest thing because there's a couple of places where cars coming around a slight curve may not expect to be surprised by runners or walkers).  But, since I knew cold days were coming, I just decided to avoid the whole sidewalk problem and walk up the other side of that street.

I wasn't slowed down by watching out for all kinds of "crud" in my way, or by running into snowbanks or puddles that suddenly showed up in front of me.  I did the walk as fast as I'd always done it before any of this "injury stuff" happened.  Needless to say, that felt good - really good.