Larry's Letters

Sent: 28-05-01
Re: Breakfast

Though I’ve lost count of the weeks, it strikes me that I owe all of you a progress report on my life. Trouble is, nothing much changes when you’re laid up.

I’m still not allowed to bend my left leg. For 2-1/2 weeks I was in a cast. I’ve been in a leg brace for 3. The brace is just like a cast except I can open it and wash my leg.

I can’t go upstairs, so I’m camping out in the den downstairs in a rented hospital bed. Jerry Pournelle and Eric Pobirs have set up my computer equipment in the library. (If anyone is interested Jerry Pournelle has written an article for about how he did it))

I can write. I did 1600 words yesterday on BURNING TOWER. Friday the Pournelles took me on a research mission to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, claiming that museums are wheelchair-friendly. They were dead right, and the display of Olmec history was invaluable.

My skills as an invalid grow. I hope my knee is growing back together too. So I wait.

What I want to tell you about is making breakfast.

Six+ weeks after the accident, 5+ weeks after the operation, yesterday Marilyn asked, “Can I sleep late tomorrow morning?”


“Can you make your own breakfast?”

“Sure.” I’d done it before, up to a point.

Morning. Marilyn bought a papaya; I saw it in the fridge. I want half the papaya, toast with peanut butter and jam, and a cappuccino.

Step one: use the walker. I can’t carry anything with the walker, but I can turn around with something in one hand, the other on the walker. I go to the refrigerator and get the papaya, peanut butter, jam, putting them on the island. (It’s an island kitchen.) I get a knife from the knife rack. (From the wheelchair it’s too high.) Cut the papaya. Clean out the seeds. I bag half and put it back in the fridge. I put toast in the toaster oven.  Forget any of that and I lose two or three minutes.

Step two: hop back to the den, transfer to the wheelchair. Marilyn found me a box-shaped carry thing with a strap. The strap goes around my waist. I can carry anything solid in my lap now. I can’t carry fluids in it.  I put a plate in the carry thing. The toaster pops and I put that in the plate and move it to the island. I deal with the toast. I roll into the dining room where there’s a new translation of the Odyssey. Eat and read.

What’s left? The cappuccino. I’ve got an expensive cappuccino maker in the bar. The bar is two steps down. For weeks I thought that couldn’t be done. Then a trip to visit Tim and Shannon Griffin hit me with a two-step, and I found out I could do it with the walker.

So: back to the walker. Place the walker, hop two steps down. Pour grounds, run the coffee, add milk, steam it all. Marilyn has to keep water and milk and ground coffee supplied; I can’t carry anything with the walker. But I can turn around and put coffee on the bar proper. What I can’t do it take it anywhere. I can carry a magazine in the wheelchair. I put a magazine where I’m going to be. I try to use a chair there, but my straight leg defeats me. So I hop the walker to the wheelchair and use that while I drink my cappuccino.

Somewhere in there the cat nags me into feeding her. All that takes is the carry thing, if the cat will only get out of my way and let me wheel into the pantry…


It’s a lifestyle. I can hope it won’t last more than six months.


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