It’s sign-up time for OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) classes again, and how I missed the ice cream social signup a couple of weeks ago I don’t know. I always take a few science classes, just to keep up with things, and since I write science fiction I have to keep up with changes in what we think we know. (I also have a weakness for ice cream, and thanks to the insulin pump and lots of blood sugar testing I can occasionally indulge.)

Of the five classes I wanted to take, though, two were wait-listed – my fault for being so late. I’d hoped to take the one on using  iMovie because I’ve been thinking of making video trailers for my books, but that one’s full. The other wait-listed class is on evolutionary biology, and I really hope I can get into that one. Looks like the origin of life, current atmospheric research, and Mesozoic Alaska are all still available, and I’m especially excited about Mesozoic Alaska. Sarah Fowell and Patrick Druckenmiller have taught two previous classes on paleontology, and they are marvelous instructors. I’ll have to do some blogging on Alaskan dinosaurs. (Yes, they were up here, and yes, Alaska was at an even higher latitude than today, so they had to cope with long, dark winters and probably with temperatures that at least occasionally dropped below freezing. How? I’m hoping to learn more about the latest thoughts.)

I’m tempted by “Falling and Not Falling,” but it’s wait -listed too, and I’ve already taken it once. It really wasn’t very helpful for my type of loss of balance, which I’m pretty sure is related to the stroke I had some 13 years ago. It was a brainstem stroke, and I think it affected the part of my brain that controls balance.

You know the test they use to determine sense of balance? Stand on one foot (I’m hopeless) stand with one foot directly in front of the other (I can manage about 3 seconds) stand with your feet side by side but touching (only with my arms out for balance.) For me the main point is knowing how to avoid falling (difficult, since I can’t see my feet and where I’m going at the same time) and getting up once I have fallen. (Roll over, walk my feet up to my hands, and slowly and carefully stand up. It probably looks pretty funny, but it gets me back to my feet.)

Actually, it’s the helpful spectators who need instructions. I took a pretty good fall last Saturday at the Farmers’ Market. I was walking toward a display of ripe tomatoes when someone pushed  a stroller (the kind with low wheels out front) right in front of my feet. I didn’t even know what had caught my feet until I rolled over and sat up. Of course everyone was saying, “Are you all right? Do you need help?” which was fine.

What was not fine was that they wanted to pull me back to my feet at once. Not so fine. Anyone can break a bone in a fall, especially someone my age. Give a person who’s fallen time to take inventory and make sure everything’s there and unbroken. And then ask for instructions on how best to help her. In my case, people grabbing my hands and trying to pull me up from the front prevented my rolling over and getting myself up until I finally asked them to release me so I could handle the situation. Certainly they meant well, and I appreciated their efforts to help, but their actual help – wasn’t.

Anyway, I suspect I’m beyond class-work on not falling. I just have to remember and when possible avoid the situations that are most likely to land me on the ground, and how to get up without sounding ungracious when they do.

And enjoy the more academic classes.

When you stop to think about it, it all comes down to balance. Not just standing up and walking, but keeping a balance in your life. I can’t write if I don’t continue to read and learn, and the OLLI classes – two months in fall and another two months in spring – are an important part of that. Hooray for adult learning!