Archive | May, 2012

Recycling, Part IV: Bird Feeder?

25 May

Do I have an invader?


Sigh…so the leg brace bird feeder is not squirrel-proof…


He managed to escape with a mouthful.


Yes, the best things in life may be free, but sometimes, someone bigger gets to them first…


© S. G. Hunter and Banjogrrldiaries, 2012-2017  


A Tribute to My Sister and to Power

22 May

Today is my sister’s 50th birthday. Included in the photograph “1964” that I posted on May 2nd is my sister, who is standing second from the right. She is grinning, wearing a checked dress and her fingers are in her mouth. We are not twins, though we look like we’re about the same height. In this photo, I am 4 years old and she is 2 years old. She is XLH-free and grew up to what I consider to be very tall…about 5’8”. Though we weren’t twins, my mother sewed look-alike clothes for us that we wore to church. People probably thought we were twins, until she started growing like a weed! Although I have been shorter than her ever since then, I was still her bossy big sister. I had a LOT of power! She would do anything for me. I guess that’s the power of being the first-born child, though I lost that power when my brother was born. He had no idea I was supposed to be in charge.

My sister and I were very different from each other. I was either reading a book or playing outdoors with a ball or a bike. I also liked to draw. My sister liked to play with baby dolls and play house. She used to ask me if I would play house with her. “Sure,” I’d say, “you go ahead and set it all up and let me know when you’re ready.” So, she’d set up “house” with her Barbie and Skipper dolls, and sometime later tell me that she was ready for me, but by then I had moved on to some other activity, most likely outdoors, and was not interested in coming back inside to play “house.” I am sure I disappointed her a lot! I guess I abused the power that I had in my kingdom. Though she was never able to domesticate me, fortunately, she found a husband who could be domesticated.

When she was in 4th or 5th grade, she told me how babies were made. This is something a “big” sister is supposed to tell her little sister, not the other way around! But, she had learned this forbidden information from a friend. Being very sure of myself, I told her she was absolutely wrong about that and since I was older, I should know, and that was not how it was done. Turns out, she was actually right. I guess nothing in my Beverly Cleary books had prepared me for this new and unsettling information.

I remember at some point, during my teenage years, being envious of her beauty and her long, straight legs and tallness. People always treated her like she was her age or older, while they treated me like I was just a kid or young squirt. I received many condescending pats on my head up until my mid-twenties, and I am pretty sure she never got pats on her head after the age of six. But I was still her “big” sister and had a lot of power with her.

I did receive accolades for my artistic and musical talent, while she was getting praise for her outgoing personality and her beauty. I think this bothered her…she probably wanted some more tangible way to get attention in the world. Don’t we all?

Now, though, I am pretty sure that people, even those who only know her a little bit, are amazed by her wisdom. I have watched her rear three beautiful children and I have never ceased to be amazed by her wise ways of teaching them and preparing them for the world and adulthood. That kind of talent is not something you can learn in a book. I think it is just her natural gift, genetic, if you will. She will tell me a story of something that has happened with one of her children, and her response to the situation and I find myself thinking, “How did she know the perfect thing to say? How did she become so wise? I would have never thought of that!” I am pretty sure that the world is a better place because she brought children into it. She is not only a great human being, but also an exceptional mother. She has sacrificed a lot to be the best parent possible, and I think it has paid off. Don’t get me wrong…I am well loved by her children. I am Aunt Banjogrrl. I run “Camp Banjogrrl” in the summer. I am fun and silly and am willing to teach them how to make any craft or play any stringed instrument that they want to learn. If I don’t know how to do it, I will learn with them. They love me and respect me. I have some power with her children.

But…to my niece and my nephews, my sister is “Mama.” She doesn’t need an “inner warrior.”



© S. G. Hunter and Banjogrrldiaries, 2012-2017

Recycling, Part III: Bird Feeder?

21 May

Mr. Cardinal contemplates the strange bird feeder.


Mr. Cardinal decides he likes the strange bird feeder!


Thank you, Mr. Cardinal!

You just made my day.


© S. G. Hunter and Banjogrrldiaries, 2012-2017

Recycling, Part II

19 May

So, what does one do with antique leg braces? I mean, really. When I am old, and have to move into a tiny apartment in a retirement home, how do I dispose of them prior to the move?

Ebay. I google “vintage leg braces.” Six results found. Three of them are actual old leg braces. One is a pair of leg braces, as in two separate leg braces, with the shoes attached. I think mine are cooler, since it is a one-piece mechanism. The attached shoes, though…that’s kind of cool. The seller of these leg braces is asking $149 and states, “Thank goodness for modern technology because I can’t imagine having to wear these braces.” The seller goes on to say, “These are a very cool display or teaching piece. Don’t hesitate to bid, for these items are getting very scarce and hard to find in this condition especially in a pair. One of a kind to own.” Technically, uh, that would be TWO of a kind to own.

But, a teaching piece??? What in the world can you teach with leg braces? You can’t teach anything with these, except maybe medical history. Aha! That’s it! A medical museum might want my leg braces. I google “orthopedic medical museum.”

I get 3,680,000 results in .14 seconds. Wow. This is going to be challenging. The first result is a special exhibit in 2007 called “Beyond Broken Bones: The Story of Orthopedics and Prosthetics.” Well, I am five years too late to donate to that. Looked interesting, though. I would have like to have seen that exhibit in Chicago. It looks at the history of orthopedic treatments dating back to ancient Egypt. Maybe some braces with hieroglyphics on them?

The second result is a link to the medical museum at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. They collect medical artifacts. Hey, maybe they’d want these braces. Then I look under the museum’s “collecting objectives.” The first sentence is, “The Medical Museum collects items pertinent to the history of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, the state of Iowa, and the Midwest.” So, were medical treatments in the Midwest all that different from the medical treatments in the South, where I was treated? How strange! I am going to have to look at my braces again. Maybe that leather didn’t come from a cow, but from a possum.

Okay, time to refine my search. I google “orthopedic medical museum NC.” The top result is the “Country Doctor Museum.” It is owned by East Carolina University. Their requirements for accepting donations are that the items “support its purpose of preserving the history and cultural heritage of rural healthcare professionals in the United States.”

Hmm, I grew up in a city. My braces were manufactured out of steel and leather, not constructed out of oak tree limbs and honeysuckle vines. Mine are state-of-the-art for that time. I am pretty sure they were city braces.

A few other clicks leads me to more dead ends. I guess the bird feeder idea isn’t so bad after all. I’ll check with Howdy Doody to see if he approves.



© S. G. Hunter and Banjogrrldiaries, 2012-2017


18 May

(A note to my fellow XLH’ers and to the parents of children with XLH: I am not an insensitive clod. I know that those who, like myself, have been born with this disorder, have some painful and difficult memories, as I also have. I think that parents of children with this disorder may have difficulty seeing any humor in this posting, and might wonder if I am making light of it. I am not. The way I have always dealt with difficulty is to see the humor and irony in it…and certainly, for me, there has been quite a bit of both difficulty and irony in living with this. It is my way of coping in life and it helps me to value those experiences that are somehow universal to being human. Seeing the humor in life’s difficulties has also saved me a lot of money that I might have spent on therapists…)


I have a confession to make…I have a hard time letting go. Not of feelings, but of STUFF. I am not a hoarder, but I am very sentimental. I have some things that I need or should get rid of, I am sure, but they hold memories or feelings and I can’t get rid of them yet. Someday, though, I know I will have to. Other things I save because I think I can use them again someday, recycle them, repurpose them.

When I was in my early twenties, in college, I went to the trunk of my mother’s car to get something out…most likely a load of dirty laundry. And there, nestled inside, were my leg braces (see photo from post on May 2). I grabbed them, hauled them inside the house and said to my mother loudly, “WHAT are these doing in the trunk of your CAR?”

“I am going to donate them to Goodwill Industries,” she said. “Maybe someone can use them.” She’s a recycler, too.

“No one wants these! No one will ever use these! They were made for me in 1964 and they’re 18 years old now! They’re not even in style any more!” I took them to my room, reclaiming them and rehoming them to me, their rightful owner.


 It’s not like I had gotten them out over the years to play with them or anything. I had used them in a “found object” sculpture in twelfth grade art class, though. The humanlike figure had sort of an eerie stuffed cloth body and the braces for legs, wearing shoes and clothes and it had a tennis racket for a head. I have to admit that I enjoyed the look on the art teacher’s face, who was thoroughly creeped out and asked, “What the hell are those?”

“My legs braces that I wore when I was 4 years old.” He just stared at me. I got an “A.”

Other than that, the leg braces lived in a plastic bag, under my bed. With all the other monsters.

So, here it is, 48 years and 9 moves later and I still don’t know what to do with them. I’ve had several ideas…maybe some photos, close-ups of the leather and steel components. I wonder about the person who made them, assembled them, stitched the leather, back in the early ‘60’s. Thank you, whoever you are. Your work had held up after 48 years. A testament to your craftsmanship.


Then, I think, hey, maybe I could make something fun out of them. A bird feeder perhaps?

Oh, I could play dress-up with my favorite childhood toy, the Howdy-Doody ventriloquist doll. Pretend that Howdy Doody is a fellow XLH’er. Ask him if he also has large veins in his arms, from having to have his blood tested so often. Now that I am older, and the doctor has to test my blood for other things, like high cholesterol, nurses and phlebotomists love those large veins. I am an easy stick.

“Hey, Howdy, remember those awful shoes we had to wear with the slots in the sole?”


A trellis for bean plants? Too short. Go figure.


A tool holder! Awesome. Wendy, Bob the Builder’s girlfriend, likes this idea.


I welcome your ideas.

© S. G. Hunter and Banjogrrldiaries, 2012-2017

Mother’s Day

13 May

Today, in the U.S.A., we celebrated Mother’s Day.

I can’t pass up the opportunity to say that my mother is and has been one of the most inspirational people I have ever known. With regards to XLH, it is highly probable that I inherited this disorder from her, though she has never had the tests specifically for that. She is short, like me, but she has about an inch on me. Otherwise, she does not present with the “normal” symptoms usually found in XLH, except the pain she has.

I have always thought of her as being like the “Energizer Bunny” that we see in TV commercials…still going and really, always going! She has taught me to live life not thinking about myself first, but thinking about the well-being of others first. Well, she has tried to teach me this. I am pretty sure I’m not nearly as thoughtful as she is.

At the age of 75, she drives her friends to their doctors’ appointments, bakes bread for them, runs errands for them and, in general, treats all of her friends as if they are her sisters that she is looking out for.

I know that she is in pain, because I just know. And sometimes, we even talk about these things. Some may look at her swollen, stiff hands and wonder but don’t really have any idea of what she feels. But beyond that, what they see is her radiant smile and gifts of her freshly baked bread.

She has shown me how to laugh and how to see the humor in life’s experiences. And her humor is not dark or sarcastic…it’s just funny. She has helped me to learn to laugh at myself, too. Which, the older I get, is an endless source of amusement.

So, here’s to my mother…short, sweet, smart, beautiful and loving. I hope that I will someday be at least half the woman she is!

© S. G. Hunter and Banjogrrldiaries, 2012-2017

Weight control

11 May

My partner just told me that I needed to write something on my blog or my subscribers would be worried that something had happened to me. She is a wise woman…I’ll call her “professorgrrl”…so, I’ll write something.

When I started college, I weighed 104 pounds “dripping wet.” Which begs the question, “who weighs themselves when they are dripping wet?” Apparently, enough people to start a metaphor.

Gradually, with age, I have added a few pounds. I graduated from college weighing quite a bit more than 104 pounds, due to the amount of corn dogs, brownies and hash browns at my disposal in the cafeteria. I love to eat. I like the taste of food. I like eating with friends who are good cooks. However, also with age, I have realized that for me, adding 10% or 20% of my ideal body weight, is not going to make my soft bones caused by XLH to feel very good. This especially hit home with me one day when I hoisted a 20-lb. bag of dog food over my shoulder to bring into the house after a trip to the grocery store. I literally felt the added weight crunching my knees. That was the day I decided to be extra diligent about watching how much I eat.

And, more recently, I have severely restricted my alcohol, namely red wine, intake. Yes, I know…it’s good for your heart and all that, and maybe one day when I get high blood pressure like everyone else in my family, I’ll take it up again. But for now, I’ll be the best designated driver ever. The reason for this change is a result of my recent visit to an endocrinologist at a nationally known hospital. I’ll call him “Dr. Blue.” Dr. Blue told me that for the bone pain commonly experienced by folks with XLH, I could take up to six extra-strength Tylenol per day without harmful side effects. He asked me if I consumed alcohol and I said, “yes, about four glasses of red wine per week.”

A little note about the four glasses of wine per week. That has pretty much been my rule for many years now, ever since an incident many years ago. I was at a party, and the more I drank (hey, I’m little and it doesn’t take much!), the sillier I got. Someone there had brought a kitten that she had rescued from a pack of marauding dogs, and she’d been bottle-feeding it while it recovered from dog bites. The poor kitten had never had a cat-mama, and didn’t even know how to drink milk from a bowl and the vet didn’t expect it to recover. Another friend at the party did “reiki” on the kitten, which was a significant contribution to the healing of this kitten. I took it upon myself, after about the third glass of wine, to get down on my hands and knees and teach that little kitty how to lap milk from a bowl. Needless to say, his smarts and my silliness weaned him off the bottle forever. And my headache the next day weaned me off that third glass of wine in one night forever.

So, back to Dr. Blue’ s advice about the Tylenol. He told me that on the days I wanted to drink, do not take any Tylenol. Hmm…trade a whole day of less pain (Tylenol) for one hour of less pain and more fun (red wine.) Hey, believe it or not, I can have a LOT of fun on Tylenol!

Which reminds me…Tylenol has ZERO calories and red wine…well, more than that. Which is in keeping with my desire to stay at my “fighting weight” as my brother says. That is very important for a warrior.

And the real reason I haven’t blogged any this week until now, is that I’ve had the stomach flu. I have lost four pounds. Let me tell you…I do NOT recommend this as a diet plan! And neither does professorgrrl.

© S. G. Hunter and Banjogrrldiaries, 2012-2017