A Beaded Collar as Autobiography**

John Lean, mustered into the military service of the United States on the 30th of August, 1862 (Civil War).

  • Treated for a wound at Fort Worth, Virginia, October 23-27, 1863.
  • Treated at Battery Rogers next Alexandria, Virginia several times during the period January 1864 and October 1864.

John Lean, mustered out of the military service of the United States on the 26th of June, 1865.  

John Lean was Ed’s great grandfather.  He was born on Bradford Farm,1839, in Blisland, Cornwall, on the edge of Bodmin Moor.  We have visited Blisland and the farm a number of times. John came to the United States as a 9-year-old in June 1848 via Quebec on the vessel Clio.

We have in our possession the beaded collar he made during those wartime hospital stays — for his bride-to-be, Hannah Hooper Burton.  John and Hannah were married on November 13, 1866.






A very early example of occupational therapy!   











**Title borrowed from an article in a recent New York Times Magazine, written by Alice Gregory, titled “Objects as Autobiography.”

Walking the Mall

There’s a phenomenon in this country of people using shopping malls to get their daily exercise.  They don’t shop, they simply walk the full indoor perimeter of the mall — around and around.  I don’t know if this is done for exercise in other places in the world or not.

The first time I walked the Westgate mall, some years ago, I was sure it would feel really weird.  Going around and around inside the mall?  Wouldn’t that be totally boring and even a little embarrassing?  But winter in Wisconsin makes it difficult to walk outside — the freezing temperatures and the snow and ice are all hazards.  The mall would offer me an opportunity to continue my walks year-round in a safe place.

So one day I did it.  I drove out to Westgate mall, put on my walking shoes and gave it a try.  I remember coming home that day and telling Ed, “That wasn’t so bad.”  In point of fact, the whole time spent there was full of people and things to observe and time for thinking while I walked.

images (2)Early in my mall walking, I took my pedometer along to measure the distances.  One full circuit around the mall turned out to be about a half a mile. So I decided to walk all the way around four times, giving me a total of two miles every time I went.

When I started having significant pain in my left knee a couple years ago, I was forced to give up the walking — both inside and outside.  Now, however, since my knee replacement last Spring, I have been trying to gradually resume my walking, and, just a couple weeks ago, I went back to the mall for the first time.  It felt so good to be there — getting back to that regular routine in my everyday life was surprisingly comforting.  It was fun once again to look in the windows of the shops, to see a few familiar walkers and others who were new to me, to glance into the Nails ‘U Love at the customers getting their manicures, to see the people eating pizza at the tables in Rocky Rococo’s Pizza place, to glance at the books for sale at the Madison Public Library outlet.

To me, being once again in this mall walking routine means that I have recovered from my knee surgery and made further progress toward “getting back to normal.” Returning to a once regular daily routine after injury or disability strongly represents a return to health in our minds.  Everyday occupations are what we use as markers of our progress and well-being — around the house, around the neighborhood, and around other familiar spaces in our lives, including the malls of our world.

Ending on a Positive Note!

It’s a good day!  I had my last physical therapy session this morning for rehab following my left knee replacement. The final measurements were most encouraging — 5 more degrees of flexion and 3 more degrees of extension. This brought me a huge lift of spirits!  For those of you who have never had to pay much attention to the range of motion in your knees, these numbers may not sound like much, but to me they are huge.  I had been at a plateau for several weeks and now I finally, finally showed some positive change.

I’m starting to take walks around the neighborhood again. My appetite and energy level are coming back.  I’m more often getting a good night’s sleep.  Now, as I go about my everyday life, I’m finding that I’m not always conscious of my left knee as my new knee.   It’s becoming more and more just my left knee in the same way that my other knee is just my right knee.  I am definitely starting to feel more and more like my “normal” self.

For the past three months, my world has been one of physical disability.  I think, really, for the first time I have realized the meaning of the accommodations provided in our communities for people with disabilities.

imagesThe “disabled parking” badge that I was issued is good until October of this year. For the past three months, I have gratefully looked for the familiar universal disability symbol in many, many parking lots — at grocery stores, at restaurants, at granddaughters’ school events, at concerts, at church.  Somehow, on finding and then pulling into a disabled parking spot, I get a feeling that someone cares about people like me and that accommodations have been made to ensure that we can still go about our daily routines and activities.  And, on a more personal level, I know that there is still a place for me, here in this everyday world.