14 October 2018

He Didn't Tell Anyone

We were supposed to be in Canada two weekends ago for our last race.  We were actually physically getting ready to race on Friday when my sister-in-law phones to tell us that my father-in-law had a stroke. I didn't hear the first two calls because racecar and there were two voicemails.  When my sister-in-law is freaking out, sh*t has gone sideways.


We packed up two pits in thirty minutes (a normal hour-long process) and it takes at least an hour just to get home depending on the border, then 20 minutes past that just to get to the hospital.  That was a really long ride.

It turns out that... and I have to do this in a listicle:
he took Kevin's mom's meds by accident
He didn't tell anyone FOR AN HOUR
He had chemically induced stroke and dropped.  
He was non-verbal and had little motor skills.
No one was home because we were in Canada and my s-i-l was at work.(45 minutes away)  I am usually no further than 15 minutes away, if I'm not at home.  This was the ONE TIME that I wasn't.
My m-i-l tried to call me but I didn't hear it.  She called the nephew's wife thinking it was my sister-in-law.

The kids got there first, followed by the s-i-l then eventually us. The kids were ROCKSTARS, I am so proud of how they handled this.

Because it was a chemically induced stroke,  it's reversible with little to no deficits. Right now he has about 90% of his speech back and all of his movements.  He  couldn't say "Republican" the other day and I had to laugh. (fully aware of the Hell I'm going to)

The only reason this wasn't fatal is because he takes the opposite of her meds for A-Fib and they counter-acted what he had taken.  Otherwise, this would have been a very different story. What absolute dumb luck.

So now, he's home again.  His speech is a still a little garbled at times. I'm sure they recommended he have speech therapy and I'm just as sure he won't.  He now insists that he didn't have a stroke.  "It was the medicine. They didn't say stroke."   

That's why I haven't been over there today.

We are insisting to dummy-proof the medicines because this isn't the first whoops they've had. (the 3rd, actually) and they are resistant again.  

This is an easy fix but one would think that we're insisting they sleep outside.  Kevin explained twice that if something happens to his dad, they're going into a home because none of us are able to quit our jobs to care for them.  That hit a target, for sure. I ordered two vastly different pill organizers for them and they'll be here tomorrow.  

So that was stressful enough AND THEN, like always, the brother tried to make it about him.  He was hurt because I was curt when he asked "Well, what happened?"  after Kevin had just told him word for word what his wife said. We're literally throwing things into the truck and trailer and he just sat in his trailer.  His wife had called him multiple times but he didn't answer the phone, even after we knew what happened.

in the ER room, he told his dad (who at the time is still not verbal yet) "I just knew that you were working outside and had been laying out there dying and not able to get help."  WHAT.THE.ACTUAL.FUCK.  Do you HEAR the words you're saying!?!

We heard four times (I counted) how he's doubted about taking his own medicine. Until finally one of his kids shut him down and he shut up.  This isn't about you for the love of gawd.

So, we went back to the racetrack the next morning with the families permission and left them to tend to the parents.  It was WAY THEIR TURN. (they stayed in bed the last time when Kevin's mom nearly died at the house and in the ambulance)  Yeah, the s-i-l went and stayed the day at the hospital while he stayed home and did nothing.  Again: W.T.A.F.  He had one job and sent his wife to do it.

Oh, and this is the same hospital that very nearly killed our nephew.  We watched that boy steel his spine and work through his own stuff that day, in addition to being there for his grandpa, without a word.  Seeing nurses who cared for him, walking the halls he walked, all of it.  He's the opposite of his father though and I have to express gratefulness of his strength and be so proud. He didn't make it about him and that is the shiny side of  this situation.

12 October 2018

Too Short! Too Long!

I rarely buy new clothing.  There's a few reasons:  I'm frugal, I hate shopping, and after years of having free clothing access at a job, I just got out of the habit.  Online clothing shopping can be so disappointing that I just don't usually try.  I'm an immediate gratification kind of person when it comes to clothing. Well, everything really.

Now that I have a different job, I have to think about this clothing thing.  Stuff wears out, gets ruined, or styles go out of fashion or whatever.  I've hit that point in my closet.  If I could just go to work in varying forms of yoga or track pants and hoodies, it will be all good.  But no, sometimes I have to dress like a grown-up.

I've read with interest Swistle's adventures in shopping.  Mostly I'm all What She Said with the issues she talked about and  that I've encountered.

I hate that sizing keeps changing and that it isn't standardized throughout the industry. I know this isn't a new frustration but gah, would someone please fix this?

I have found that with shopping at second-hand shops, the sizing isn't always an issue.  Clothing is often not quite on trend so the sizes aren't so varied.  Sure, there are a few designers/manufacturers that I'm a hard pass on because I know their cuts are wrong for me.

It took me a while to figure this out because I don't usually buy new.  I can grab an extra large at the second hand store and it will fit.  Grab one at a regular store and not so much.  Specifically: Target, I can rarely grab something from them "in my size" and have it fit.  Like "Fat Guy in a Little Coat" doesn't fit.

To sound like an old lady, I could usually count on JC Penney for fitment. (that's usually a car term but I'm using it here.) Also, it's that pleasant time warp whiplash walking in the store. Suddenly, it's 1986 and I'm at the mall!! But both JCPenney stores near me have since closed so that's a bummer.

I tried to buy simple t-shirts from Amazon but even with sizing up, they were too small. And so, so long.  I have the opposite problem as Swistle: these sizes are often too short for her yet too long for me.  I kept them and can report that they make excellent pajamas.  So soft!

Then, on a whim, I went to Old Navy because I remembered that Swistle mentioned the store.  My only experience with this store was from YEARS ago.  I was looking for something specific for one of the kids and they had just opened in my area.  The music was SO LOUD and there were workers scurrying around with headsets, and the place was chock full of stuff and people, and a little messy.  I was so out.  Sensory Overload times three.

This store is smaller, I think, and it was much more chill.  I did find two t-shirts that I adore.  They're also a little long but I think a few washings will take care of  that.  I went back to find if there were any more in a color I didn't hate but not so much.  I'll try again another day.

Oh, and what's with the threadbare, nearly see-through thing?  Ugh, I'm not a fan.  I've noticed that the wally world has that style of fabric also.  Oh, and another example: their sizing is too big usually.  Go figure.  My cynical mind thinks manufacturers equate poor folks to bigger bodies and wealthy ones to smaller ones.

Then that takes me to this and I can't remember if I've ranted about this before.  I am curvy because boobs. Omg, so much boobs.  So while I'm short, I'm curvy.  So it seems in the clothing industry, if you wear anything above a large, it has to be extra long. I mean, I get it but there are short larges in the world.  There is sometimes petite sizing but get this, it's often too short of a cut for my body.

Also if you wear beyond a large, you get to have big, giant DESIGNS on your shirt.  Oh, you're an XL?  here is a mammoth butterfly.   Or a GIRAFFE.  Because you also haven't earned grown-up clothing if you're this size, obvs.   And this boggles my mind: stripes.  Horizontal stripes nonetheless.  And glitter! or sequins! Sometimes all.of.the.things. Don't even get me started with the ruffles and peplums. (And yes, I know what a peplum is.  I watch Project Runway.)  Sigh...deep breath...

So, I've become Oprah when I find something I like: I try to buy many of them when I find them.  I've also become like a former coworker who once stated that her life goal was to come into work dressed in pajamas that you couldn't tell were pajamas.

03 October 2018

Shelter Plants

One of the hobbies that I have purposefully cultivated (ha! gardening pun!) is gardening.  Right now it's just flowers and the such but I do have a food garden idea in my head that I may try next year.  I worry about my attention span when it comes to something like that but my worry about the state of the world is beginning to outgrow that. (ha! another one!)

I should have gardening in my genes, it should come naturally but it doesn't.  My paternal grandfather had a huge garden, full of flowers, vegetables and fruit trees.  My ancestry is full of farmers.  But in the past, I've struggled with keeping things alive.  I mean, I have a husband who has access to any type of soil, compost, or bark that a person can imagine.  This shouldn't be this difficult.

When we bought this house in 1991, it had a very overgrown rock garden.  In fact, we didn't even notice it, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law did.  They were very excited at the time but Kevin and I were "Meh" because it just wasn't important to us. So they took clippings for their gardens and we just kind of let it be.

Now the only thing that still exists from that garden is a giant rhododendron that has been relocated twice, once by excavator.   Now it stands about about ten feet tall and provides a place for the bunnies to escape from Lucy.

When we built the house we live in now, Kevin made friends with the contractor.  Our house sits over an embankment that previously was just grass and trees.  The trees had to be removed due to their hazardous location and we had to do something about drainage because Washington = Rain.

So, Kevin and the contractor came up with a tiered rock garden idea and got it started. The state required us to plant X-amount of native plants to compensate for the new house.  We went to the nursery, handed them the list (that they promptly called bullshit) and they gathered up what we needed.  So that gave us tamarack bushes, rhododendrons, ornamental firs, and junipers.  We buried those and figured that would suffice for now.

Kevin and I disagree with the amount of native ferns that grow. (which can be a lot)  As a result, he and his brake cleaner (a.k.a weed killer) has been banished from the garden.  But again, because Washington, I am constantly battling alder seedlings.  I will spend an entire morning doing nothing but pulling those frustrating little trees.  Kevin brought home super expensive, high quality bark that he makes and guess what alders love?  that bark!  Ugh.

Then I discovered the clearance racks at Freddys (Krogers)    This has been the best thing ever for me.  Once I learned to look for perennials instead of annuals, it was off to the rodeo.  For $3, who cares if it dies?  My inner child also bonds with these plants that have been rejected because  they're not quite good enough.  I always tell them they can come grow at our house.  Like shelter dogs, only plants.

There are also these things call SEEDS that people use!  This is the first year that I tried those and so far the only thing that has grown is larkspur.  (which grows native here, actually)  Maybe some daises but I can't tell if they're weeds or actual flowers.  (short attention span, again)

Which is the other thing.  I have forgotten from year to year what I've planted.  So this is the second summer that something has grown and I have no idea what it is or where it came from.  I'd like to take credit for it but nope, it's the aforementioned attention span.

Lucy is pretty good about the garden.  She does like to dig under the giant hydrangea to be in the shady cool and daisies must be tasty for puppies. Oh, and day lilies are way to fragile to withstand Lucy patrolling the garden every day.  (we call it "walking the wall") She just looks at them and they're all "I'm out."  Otherwise she is very skilled at critter removal in the garden.

Now that I've figured all of this out, I enjoy it.  I do whine about the hour it takes to water during the heat waves but even that forces me to relax. I mean, standing there holding a hose and listening to the birds isn't a bad gig really. I eventually find it therapeutic pulling the weeds, especially when I call them names as I'm doing it.

My father-in-law is now working on a section that we've always left wild.  It's hard clay mostly and steep.  I've started planting things there just to see if it will grow and I've been mostly successful.  But it's hard work because of the soil and elevation.  I told him to do what he wants and I'll be happy with it.  We'll see how that turns out and I figure anything is better than the dandelions that happily grow there now (and everywhere.)

Then I mentioned during family dinner that I was considering doing a container vegetable garden. The whole family suddenly jumped in and I had to rein them back.  "I SAID: CONSIDERING"  Calm down, family.   Also, I figured it would be a hard no from Kevin and he threw me under the bus with his support. What the hell, Kevin?

Now the weather has turned the corner into Fall so it's too late.  I'm off the hook until the Spring then I'll think about it again.

09 September 2018

It Will Be Fine

So, what's been going on around here, you ask?  My email is asking where I've been so that's not a  good sign. As I look at that tab, I see 1,527 unread messages. (I'll write about that in another post)

I've half a dozen unfinished posts in the drafts folder, my eyes are killing me because I'm on the computer so much now, the dog is barking at dragons (probably), Kevin will be coming home soon and I'll have to go outside to water the garden, I need to start laundry and dinner, and all I want to do is take a nap.

Here I sit.

Two days ago I signed a contract to process medical insurance billing for a partner organization of HeadStart.  I'm not sure why.  I don't really want to but here we are.

I'm being the hero for them because they're in a bind.  They're an organization I've always wanted to work for. (like since childhood, for real)  It's extra cha-ching in my account.  It's a good wage, it's super part-time, and it's something I can easily-ish do.  So what's my deal?  I just can't want to.

The director has pursued me literally since I began at HeadStart and wondered why I didn't apply before then.  I didn't because I didn't know they were hiring and I knew the organization was going through a leadership transition and Big Fat No Thank You to doing that again.

I was given a  timeline of September 2018 for a likely hire, which is now but she hired me as a freelance in July.  Then she quit.  (need a boss to quit/be fired? just hire me because it feels like that's my thing)  So, now the board has approved for me to be an actual employee instead of freelancing. So, it's not like this development is a surprise really.

I have yet to sign my HeadStart contract for the second year so there's that.  I'm guaranteed a second year so it's no worries, just annoying. (there's a wage bump attached to the contract)   This time next year could be stressful as we hope that the federal grant continues to fund the position.  Thankfully, the position is data-driven and results oriented so it should be renewed.

The other job could be a fall-back eventually as that organization grows but I've no aspirations toward that. This time last year I would have been all hell-yeah but now I'm all meh.  I'm sure that once I get started and into a rhythm then it will be fine.  It Will Be Fine.

The school year has begun and there was no preamble like last year. Suddenly there is a document dump like nobodies business.   Last year there was a little  grace because the position and me were new but as I'm looking at last year's timelines, I see that isn't happening this year.  No mercy for the former newbie. I need to stop being good at my job, like, seriously.

This is all first world problems, I realize, and I need to drink that glass of Shut Up for sure.  Oh poor me, I have two part-time jobs which is exactly what I've wanted for years. Wah, I got what I wanted. I do feel guilty about whining about it.

It's a be careful what you wish for kind of situation, for sure.  Everything I've wanted has come to fruition, just not in the way or on the timeline that I wanted.  It's one of those situations where when you're In It and you try to reassure yourself that it will be fine but don't quite believe it.  Then eventually it's fine and you hardly even notice.

It Will Be Fine.

02 September 2018

Did Mary Get Married?

One of the coping techniques I've developed when I can't sleep or have night terrors is to re-enact (?I'm not sure that's the word) one of my favorite movies in my head.  My go-to is Pride and Prejudice.  I'll name all the characters and who they end up with and how they got there.  If it's really bad, I'll create a sequel.

I'm puzzled about Mary's fate and that's often where I fall asleep.

Now I've seen the movie a million times.  (the Keira Knightley version)  I've probably noticed too much and interjected my own thoughts into this way too much.

(And this is a deep dive so go watch the movie first if you don't know it.)

When Mr. Collin's is interested in Jane and Lizzy but not Mary, you get a glimpse of her disappointment.  Like Charlotte, she would have been an adequate match for Mr. What Excellent Boiled Potatoes.  She professes what need for men but is disappointed at the ball.  This leads me to believe she struggles with romance or even just people in general.

Once Lydia, then Lizzy, and then Jane leaves, only Mary and Kitty remain.  Now there's not a doubt that Kitty marries.  But does Mary?

This is how I picture the sequel and all the possibilities:

Jane marries and has a crowd of children.  They are insanely happy and the sister goes away because so many children and happiness.

Lizzy marries and I think one child is enough for her.  A quiet, little studious and serious child.

Lydia returns to her parents house with a baby because the horrible Mr. Wickman bails out on her.  I like to think that he's sent to the Colonies or somewhere as punishment and he just doesn't tell her.

And Kitty will fall for a cousin of Mr. Bingley, thus sealing those two families together forever and sending  Lady Katherine to her grave.

Oh, and I like to imagine Lady Katherine's daughter going ON A TEAR once her mother dies.  Traveling, shopping, men!!!

(I TOLD you, I've thought about this A LOT.)

So, where does this leave Mary?  I know the internet kind of answers this question but it leaves me unsatisfied.  And it's much more fun to think about all the options.

Does she stay home and care for her parents and Lydia?  Let's face it: Lydia is never going to grow up and probably can't be bothered with a baby.

Does she marry someone like Mr. Collins?  There is that joke: "I wonder if Mr. Collins has a cousin?"

Does she live with Lizzy and Mr Darcy and become besties with sister Georgianna?  Thus finding a marriage through her?

Or does she live with Jane and Mr. Bingley because of all the children?  does she fall in love with one of the servants while being a defacto nanny for them?

Now I leave this to you: Did Mary get married?  What are your thoughts?

And, have you ever obsessed about something from a book or a movie like this?

18 August 2018

On the Headstone Maybe

Kevin and I always, I mean always, end our calls with “Love you bye”.  His has morphed into one syllable that sounds similar to lullaby.  He can say it in front of people and they’re not quite sure if they heard something mushy or whatever.  Don’t worry, we’re not one of those “No, YOU hang up first” couples.  We are a couple that has seen some shit so we know to say it while we can.

He has a dangerous job so there are jobs he does that he either doesn’t tell me about or tells me about after they are done.  It’s how I don’t eat my hair while he’s at work. 

Sometimes he will call during the day and seemingly have, like, nothing to share.  I find myself being visibly but silently impatient during these conversations.  We’ve all been there; gesturing “What?! Why?” with your hands.  Usually it’s with a parent though.

I assume that sometimes he just needs a break.  His job is a stressful one and he doesn’t always enjoy People.  And people exist at his job and he’s in charge of them.  His lifelong B.f.f. once said “you realize yelling at your staff isn’t cardio, right?”  Not that he yells AT them, he’s just loud in a loud environment.  But when he does lose it, oh it’s a thing of beauty.  It’s a pull up a seat, have some popcorn and soda because shit just got real y’all. 

Anyway, off topic.  It took me YEARS to figure out it’s because he’s nervous or something went sideways and he’s touching base.  YEARS.   Now I try to not want to kill him when he does it.

Anyway, once in a while, he will slip and tell me he’s doing something dangerous ahead of time.  I always say “Be careful. Love you bye.”   He always says “Whatever love you bye.”  It makes me laugh every time. 

Yesterday, it occurred to me that if something ever happens, I am totally going to use that somehow in the memorial. 

25 July 2018

Musical Whiplash

I would say one of the greatest things ever invented, for me personally, is a combination of Amazon Prime Music and the Shazam app.  (this is not an endorsement, just an expression of my undying love.

I've added so much music onto my playlists because I've heard a song during a commercial or television show.  The amount of songs that I've gotten from watching Grey's Anatomy is embarrassing.

I am alone in my office for two weeks this month and it's been glorious.  I can be as loud or as messy as I want and no one cares.  Usually I will listen to music or podcasts using my earbuds.  But right now, I can have my system cranked to eleven.  *contented sigh*

So I put my Amazon music on scramble.  My music ranges from Dean Martin "That's Amore" to Eminem.  So, it can be Mood Swing Radio when I do this.  Sometimes I will have to dive for the skip button because it's not work appropriate music, no matter what. 

Also, I share this list with Kevin so some of his music is included.  Grand Funk, Waylon Jennings, Bryan Adams, Kim Mitchell.  Thanks for killing my vibe, Kev.

Now the thing about continually adding songs on my playlists is then I don't get to listen to everything.  Sure, I try to build individualized lists but that doesn't always capture everything.

Oh, what are my playlists?  Of course I have playlists!  They're kind of basic:

30 Second Dance Party
Comedy (Eddie Izzard, Christopher Titus)
Hip Hop

And just for entertainment sake, here is a small synopsis of this morning's music selection:

We Used to Be Friends - The Dandy Warhols
Truck Got Stuck - Corb Lund
Killburn High Road - Flogging Molly
In My Life -  Les Miserables Soundtrack
Keep on Trying - Poco
California Dreaming - Tupac
Seasons of Love -  Rent Soundtrack
Ring of Fire -  Johnny Cash
Take Me to the River -  Talking Heads
Rumor has it - Adele
Smile  - Uncle Kracker
You Got Another Thing Coming -  Judas Priest
Wicked Game  - Johnnyswim
You Can’t Control It  - Jack Johnson
Storybook Love  - Mark Knopfler
Alive & Kicking  - Simple Minds
Fairytale of New York  - The Pogues
Palace  - Sam Smith
Life in a Northern Town - Little Big Town
The More You Give  - Michael Buble
Somewhere On A Beach -  Dierks Bentley
Why God Made a River - High Valley
Stay  - Rhianna
Don’t Wanna Know - Maroon 5
Next to Me  -  Emile Sande
Shatter Me - Lindsey Stirling featuring Lizzy Hale

Goodbye’s All We Got Left  - Steve Earle
Run, Run Away - Slade 

You see?  It's like Musical Whiplash.  Funny that I specifically mentioned Eminem and Dean Martin, but neither has played this morning.  Evidence that even with best organization, there are still songs that I don't hear.  

And sometimes, the logarithm will decide that all we want to hear is Jack Johnson, Dean Brody, or Blake Shelton.  Or, maybe more likely, I'll have accidentally clicked "add album" when adding songs.

So, maybe this will help you add to your list.  Or inspire you to create one.  In the meanwhile, an example of a song I snagged from a Grey's Anatomy episode:

18 July 2018

Perspective from the Silver Side

In May Kevin and I celebrated our Silver Anniversary  We lived in sin for three years so come October, we'll have been together for a total of 28 years.  This feels like a foregone conclusion to us but we both realize that this is a thing, an accomplishment that many don't achieve.

My mom asked if it felt like the time went really quick or if it felt like 25 years have truly passed.  I had to think about it a little.  It seems like a mixture of both.  In some ways, it feels like a minute.

When I look at the obvious timelines: Kevin's parents retirement, passing of family members and friends, the fact that "the kids" have kids, it really seems overwhelming.

Here's advice and/or perspectives that I would give, the first being is advice doesn't work for everyone because everyone's situation is different.

One crazy person at a time.  If someone is spinning out or having trauma or whatever, the other has to remain sane.  Someone has to be the grown-up.

Nothing is forever. I'm not talking about jobs, houses, and things but yes, those also.  I'm saying  parents, siblings, children.  They will eventually be gone and it's just going to be just the two of you. Everyone else will sort themselves out. In the end: It's going to be just the two of you. 

You are going to become different people throughout your relationship.  The trick is to remember the core of who you are and who you married.  Just because someone has changed doesn't mean everything is over and you can never find your way together again.  This one has a disclaimer however: As Long As The Changes Are Healthy Ones.

Choose your battles.  Decide how important it is that they don't do it the way you would. While annoying, the dishwasher and laundry basket issues aren't important in the big scheme of things, just annoying. Lives are not going to be lost as a result.

You Chose Them.  Remember that they probably had that quality/quirk/whatever that makes you squint when you chose them so now here you are.  Remember that you do things that probably make them annoyed as well.  If you thought it would change as time progressed, well, the joke is on you.

Use your manners.  You still have to say please, thank you, excuse me, bless you, love you.

And finally, this is spoken as a wizened middle-aged lady:  Your life probably isn't going to look like anything you ever pictured and that's okay.

04 June 2018

This Was Not Walkies

Our anniversary was last month.  It's the busiest month in the year for us, with Kevin's birthday, the triplet's birthday, Mother's Day, Memorial Day, usually a race weekend, and our anniversary. 

I did not choose the month of May to be married, Kevin did.  I would have chosen December, which I realize wouldn't be any easier.  The fact that it's now June and I'm just clicking "Publish" tells you all you need to know about the month of May.

This year, the day fell on a Tuesday, which is difficult to work around.  Kevin is working 6/11's (six days a week, 11+ hours a day...fun being boss, right?) so I don't see much of him right now.  So I took an extra long lunch and drove down to his work to have lunch with him.

My one request for our "celebration" is just to be gone for a day. (*hint* no family)  The time for us to be gone for a weekend has kind of left us for a little while and we're going to be racing in a few weekends anyway.  (Number of anniversaries spent at the racetrack?  Probably around ten)

Kevin wanted to take Lucy for a walk.  She's kind of a menace in the car due to poor training (us) and the fact that she has hound in her and has to patrol all.the.things.all.the.time.because.dragons.  Because of this,we don't take her anywhere other than to get coffee and biscuits, five minutes from our house.  That and she has acres to roam at home so going for walkies isn't a priority.

So we got up early (for me) and took off.  Kevin chose the destination and I will quote him again that he wanted to take Lucy "for a walk and to play on the beach."

We totally went hiking.  Not "for a walk" but hiking.

I hadn't been to this park before but he had.  He SWORE he had taken me there before but nope, that was his first wife. (no need for offense, they've been divorced almost thirty years)  It made for some humor, for sure.  

I'm not a fan of surprises, I don't like being unprepared.  If I had known that it was going to be a hike, I would have made accommodations and it would have been better.  Oh, it still would have been a hike and not the promised WALK.  On flat ground, I can walk forever.  I can't run, those days are way gone, but I can walk for miles.  Hiking, well, not as easy.

Because we shouldn't be in charge of our own lives, we started out based on Kevin's memory from thirty years ago.  Thus the hike versus walk.  He said at one point "I don't remember it being this...much..."  Then he did the math and realized that he was probably 25 years old when he last did this "walk".  We laughed and questioned our mortality.

At one point, Kevin asked someone about the terrain of the "walk" ahead of us.  They assured us it was fine. NARRATOR:  "It was not fine."

Access to the last part had a small rock face that took about four-five steps to go up.  I stood there for five minutes before deciding that it was just not a good idea.  Even if I made it up, I would have to be able to go back down upon our return.

I hate to not be able to do something so I am still pouting about it.  We are totally going back.  There was another section that starts out really steep that I didn't even consider so I had to work at not feeling like a failure.  The younger, pre-bionic me wouldn't have thought about it for a second. 

Later, because again: we should not be in charge of our lives, we noticed someone had this thing you might have heard of that's called a MAP.  I felt a little stupid that it didn't occur to us to get a map. We had our phones in our possession for the love of sweet little 8 lb baby jesus.

See that little island in the center/left?  See the light lines of the trail that runs along HWY 20 on the map?  We did most of that.  If we had completed the full circle, it would have been four miles, as it is it looks like we did a little over three miles.

Here's the view:

We had a good time over all.  Lucy was beside herself with all the smells and all the things.  She was exhausted by the time we were done, which rarely happens.

I wasn't as tired or sore as I assumed I would be, which I will take as win.  Kevin did admit to being a little sore so I took some pleasure in that as well.  Now I'm on a mission to not only do those kind of things more but to go back and try again.

And I will be a little more inquisitive when Kevin says "Go for a walk."

This Memorial Day...

17 May 2018

It's Like She's Trying to Win a Contest

I have an Office Space level coworker who is unfortunately located right next to me.  Fortunately, she isn't here every day because otherwise this would be unbearable.  However, the small pockets of time that she is is LONG.

Here's a little timeline:

  • Came in muttering
  • Took out breakfast from plastic bags and banging of spoon for what felt like ten minutes
  • More muttering
  • Wadding up paper while throwing it away
  • Oh good, the phone.  This probably is inferred but she is also a loud talker.
  • This person is an ice and gum chewer and a lick/scrape every possible bit of yogurt from a cup kind of person. 
Usually I have music playing but I didn’t start it today because I am leaving soon. This both amplifies and yet quiets her.  However, she will usually sing along to the music even though I have it on barely audible to anyone but me.  (I’ve tested, and asked, to make sure)

  • Oh, the yogurt scraping has begun. 
  • Moved onto apple slices in a plastic bag
  • Sad, tiny little angel baby came in with a teacher and she never even acknowledged them.  They were directly behind her.  Who ignores sad tiny humans!?!?
  • Muttering again…
  • Oh, I almost missed mentioning the haptic sound of her phone when she apparently sends novella sized texts
This isn’t happening now but will most assuredly happen:
She prescreens webinars for staff.  With.The.Speakers.On so all of us can hear it.  It’s usually birth-to-five based so imagine jenky-happy music and kids giggling.  Not disconcerting at all.

Why doesn’t she wear headphones, you ask?  Sometimes she does but then…because there’s always a But Then…she has a tendency to dialogue with the webinar or sing along or and I’m sooo not kidding: clap her hands.  It’s like the headphones forces the other parts of her body to be louder.

And the fact. FACT, I say, that every food she eats is wrapped in plastic and crinkly wrapping that apparently takes escape room level timing and skills to unwrap. (imagine opening candy in a quiet theatre)  Oh, and the fast food soda cups...sigh. She is not only an ice chewer but a slurper as well; accompanied by the ever soothing sound of the straw scraping against plastic.

In case you worry that I might be melodramatic, I must also mention the day that she was listening to music through her headphones and shall I say so were we.  It was so loud.  BUT THEN and I swear to gawd this is true: she began to sing The Backup Vocals.  The "Ooh" and the "Aahhs" and Whoaaasss" parts. 

Which then brings us to the slinky.  Yes, there is a slinky. Of course there is a slinky.

It was suggested to her to use a slinky (and we hate that person) when she feels herself stressed and/or overwhelmed.  One day, when she was unfortunately here all day, the slinky was employed throughout the day.

Oh, and most of the time during all this: I have earbuds in.  I can still hear her over the earbuds.

The slinky makes us all mental and this is where I realized I forgot to tell you that human is a mentor/instructor for the staff.  One would think self-awareness would be a required qualification, but what do I know.  I’m a data geek.

Anyway. The got.dammed slinky.
She begins to shhhlink….shhhlink…shhhlink.
This is not enough for our protagonist. 
She then stands and paces/circles in her cublicle.  12 foot square space at the most.
Shhhlink…. Shhhlink… shhhlink… shhhlink
Now add humming.  Shhhlink hmmmmm  shhhlink hmmmmmm
She begins to pace the entire office.  There are ten cubicles in this room.  Paces the entire office.
Shhhlink hmmmmm  shhhlink hmmmmmm Shhhlink Shhhlink Shhhlink

Then there is a decision made that it must be shared with the entire building. Out she goes, and down the hallway where you can still hear Shhhlink Shhhlink Shhhlink Shhhlink

This generated a very special sticky note:

Now I recognize that I have my own issues, I'm an alphabet soup of issues. I am far from perfect.  I realize this all could be overly noticeable by me just because of said issues.  

Until the slinky story.   The slinky story squashes any contrary argument.

It's like she's trying to win a contest.

13 May 2018

For the Not the Moms

Having been raised by wolves, as I've regularly described my childhood, other women stepped up to make sure that I was parented when my parents couldn't or didn't know any better.

As a very young kid, it was my mom's best friend.  As I was a trauma birth, she was the one who cared for me the first month plus of my life.  In fact, she made sure I was taken care of the first part of my young life. She sees me as the daughter she never had. 

My paternal grandma helped too while she was alive.  She died when I was five, but I still remember her babysitting and making sure that I was spoiled and had what I needed.

During grade school, my mom became a volunteer firefighter with a group of stay-at-home moms.  Those women also stepped up and made sure I was okay over the years. 

Mostly I remember my high school best friend's moms.  At sixteen/seventeen, I was working, going to school, paying bills, and driving.  I was an adult mostly but I still felt their watchful eyes on me. They made sure I got home, school, or to work on time, had what I needed, fed me, answered my questions.  Parented me when I needed it. 

So, today I'm giving a shout out to those moms who take care of kids who aren't theirs.  Not the foster moms or the step moms.  The moms who just take in the friends of your kids without a thought.  You might not think they notice but they do.  You  may think it's nothing or a little thing but it's not.

I appreciate every meal, every hug, every correction, every thing they did to step up and fill the gaps. 

12 May 2018

You're Not Invited

Tomorrow is Mother's Day, admittedly one of my least favorite holidays. 

I'm not close with my mom and Kevin's mom is super way not the same mom that I met almost thirty years ago.  This whole palliative care thing has changed the relationship to a caregiver instead of parental one. 

My mom did the best that she could but woo boy, the mistakes that were made were huge ones.  The older I get and experience with kids and grandkids, the more I see it.  Aging in this instance is not helpful.  "What the eff were you thinking?" is what mostly occurs to me.

I'm not motherless, but it kinda feels like it.

I'm usually okay with the not having kids thing.  However, I've noticed that it has bothered me more as I've aged.  We are not going to have kids and grandchildren to care for us when we are old.  It's going to be just Kev and I.  Sure there are a dozen nephews and nieces but we know that that is not at all the same.

In the weirder moments, I wonder about past relationships, all of which now have children, and wonder what that life would have been like. I've miscarried three times in my life.  Twice was a blessing because carrying Satan's babies was not something that should ever happen.  I shudder to think that I would have a 28 and 29 year old right now and would be forever tethered to him. 

But then I comment "Our luck we would have gotten sacked with a kid LIKE THAT." while watching Young Sheldon and I realize that perhaps it's for the best.

Then there are the folks who try to make it better. Bless their hearts. (shaking my head)  "You have a fur baby!  Look at all the kids you helped raise during your career.  You're a godmother."  These are all things that I've heard.

These are all things that make me want to punch you in the throat.  These are the things that makes Kevin verbally dive in front of to deflect whenever he can.  I understand that people are trying to be kind but just don't.  It's not the same and no perspective is going to make it the same.

Days like this are like not being invited to a classmates birthday party when you're in elementary school.  You don't know why, you're feeling left out, and you can't understand the experiences that everyone who attended had.  Their stories aren't relevant to you.  It's an inside joke, you had to be there kind of thing.
 My advice is to say nothing. Treat it like another day. Know that people like me are gutting days like this out.

So, tomorrow I get to sleep in and Kevin will bring me coffee.  We'll spend some time next door but that's not different than any other day.  We'll visit my mom while my siblings are there and hope it won't be awkward (it so will be, but we hope)   Kevin will offer to take me to dinner or buy me stuff or both.  He will markedly not comment if I choose to watch Grey's Anatomy all.damn.day. 

And he will probably post something horribly awkward, funny and inappropriate on social media. My favorite was"Happy You're Not A Mom Day!" one year.  Leave it to us to make it uncomfortable.

09 May 2018

Post Apocalyptic Hometown

It's been about a year since I started this new job. I know, right? A year that I envisioned would never end and that I would be miserable the whole time.  A year that I swore would be temporary.

Well, I just signed a letter of intent for the next school year so the second year of my contract is officially enacted.  It feels odd that it's been a year already and it feels odd to sign a contract to commit to another year. It makes me a little panicky but it's mostly good.

As you see, I still have hesitancy about this whole thing and I guess it boils down to the returning home thing.  I've mentioned before that I totally understand why writers have their protagonists return home so often in their storylines.  It's a thing.  A real thing.

I left town over 25 years ago and didn't really look back.  Sure, I drove through town or whatever but I really didn't spend any real time there. I left for two reasons: 1) my personal safety and b) new and more opportunities elsewhere. Well, three reasons: life.

During that time away, it seems I metaphorically sealed up this town and kicked it back to the dark, dusty corner of my memory to be forgotten.  Now I'm here every day during the work week and it's real. No avoiding it although I have been in absolute denial. Until recently.

The epiphany happened for me while Kevin was watching The Walking Dead:  I'm working in my Post Apocalyptic Hometown.  Everything looks similar but it's not the same.  People have changed,some people are gone or dead.  Everything is different yet in some ways the same.  I can kind of see what has happened during my absence but other stuff remains a mystery. Post apocalyptic.

I've had to acknowledge some zombies along the way and that hasn't been super fun.  Fighting zombies rarely is, from what I've gathered.

Yet for all the differences 25-ish years have made, there are still moments and memories attached everywhere. Every.Doggoned.Where.   I believe I'm mostly past the jarring "Oh that horrible thing happened there" and tend to focus more on the positive happy memories that do exist here.

I've kind of methodically visited different spaces, like testing the soreness of a bruise. The place where we all hung out before everything fell apart, the park where I used to sit and have lunch, houses of old friends who haven't lived there in years. These little field trips have allowed the happier moments to rise up and snuff out the ugly ones, mostly.

It's happy/sad now. There's comfort in some of these memories yet I need to not be sucked into a melancholy nostalgia either, searching for how it used to be and trying to recreate it. I have to adapt to this new place.

Yet, the invisibility still continues. I haven't told my friends who are still here that I'm back working in town yet. (Yes, I suck. I own this)  I haven't visited my family, but those have other reasons attached. I'm still a little vigilant about my whereabouts and probably always will be because a permanent restraining order still exists.

In the meanwhile, I will keep moving forward and pushing my boundaries outward until this Post Apocalyptic place becomes a new normal.  I continue to slay the zombies and rebuild.

06 May 2018

This Will Make a Good Story at the Memorial

Any time  that I mention that my homelife is exactly like the television show Everyone Loves Raymond I get one of two responses.  Usually it's an "awww, that must be so nice" or an uncomfortable chuckle.

I will say that on the whole, it is fine.  I've written about it before so I won't rehash too much.  It's like being part of the Witness Protection Program because your every move is noticed.  Late for work? Washing your car? Got a bill in the mail? Just bought something at the store?  Yep, they know. 

Last weekend was the first nice weekend the Pacific Northwest has had in, no word of a lie, eight months.  In the seventies, puffy happy clouds, if any, in the blue sky.  Perfect day.

On Sunday I just wanted to work in my garden in peace.  I wanted to pull weeds, rake, and assess what plants wintered over and which needed replacing.  Also, I had some flower seeds to plant.  What I'm saying is that I had plans.

Kevin was already working in his shop because he is active the moment his eyes open, bless his heart.  (I mean that in the most Southern way possible)  I went to our back door, which looks at the garden and you can see the corner of the shop.  I looked and sure enough, there is Kevin's dad and his brother. 

I literally muttered "Eff me."then closed the door and went back into the house.

Now, Kevin's dad has been working really hard in our yard this past week.  He's redoing the lawn and he's loving it because our house and yard is kept really nicely and we leave him alone.  Years ago, Kevin and I made the agreement that even if he does something we don't like, we are to SHUT IT and not mention it. The reasons for this are two-fold: firstly, he's 80 and loves to help.  Secondly, Kevin's brother is awful to him and criticizes everything his dad does yet doesn't lift a finger to help. So, he loves to work over here.  And Lucy is his favorite but I'm off topic. 

I gave it a few minutes and peeked out our bathroom window, which looks upon the entire shop.  See? Witness Protection.  Everyone was gone so I made a break for it, gathered my tools from the shed, and got to work.  At one point, I had to go back to the shed, next to the shop.  Kevin was returning from his parents house and sighed heavily, as he's prone to do these days.  I leaned against him for a moment and said "I just wanted five minutes peace.  That's all."   I looked at him and realized that I was Singing to the Choir. 

I decided to just quietly hang out around Kevin to support him and frankly, it keeps his brother away. (long story)  My work can wait. Kevin needs a buffer.  All of a sudden I can hear music from next door.  A good 200 feet and one house and one enclosed car trailer away.  "Apparently we're listening to REO Speedway this morning, Kev." 

He went into his shop and all of a sudden Luke Bryan is on blast.  Passive Aggressive Response, for the win.

Eventually, I got to work in the garden. I am the brother repellent so my work was done there.  Kevin's dad worked on the other side of the house from me.  I'm guessing Kev might have told him that I needed space, knowing I had ready access to gardening tools.

All in all it was a nice day, eventually we all got to do our thing in harmony.

Now, you're thinking "What's wrong with that? It sounds kind of nice." 

This is where I tell you that Kevin's dad doesn't always have good boundaries.  He has broken into the house WHILE WE ARE IN IT to get the keys to our truck. (we share it with him...another long story)

On Sunday morning, it turns out that while Kevin had returned to bed with me, IF YOU GET WHAT I MEAN, Kevin's dad had walked through our yard, past our bedroom windows to work in the yard.  Multiple Times.  Just kill me. 

I console myself with the thoughts of "Someday you're going to miss this" and "This will make a good story at the memorial"

01 May 2018

Gmorning Gnight - Poetry Month

It's Not About Holding His Hand

Many people watched in delight as He Who Shan’t Be Named was caught on video trying to get his wife to hold his hand at a state dinner.  Initially, I too found delight in the rejection and embarrassment.

Then someone on the twitter mentioned to rewatch the clip, but only watch her expression.  I wish I didn’t.  It was no longer entertaining to me.  It became heart-breaking and to sound like a Millennial, I found myself a little triggered. I now view her a survivor of domestic violence who is still unsafe. 

Now, this is where I say that yes, she has made choices that has put her into the situation she is now.  But there is no way that she could have guessed how she would end up in the global spotlight.  We also don’t know what prompted her to make those choices. And really, none of us are faultless in making choices that have landed us in unhappy situations.

The desperation and insistence that she hold his hand for appearances and not affection is something I’ve experienced.  It creates an emotion unto itself: frustration, humiliation, dread, and sadness all intermix.  It’s not about affection, it’s about ownership, control, and appearances. 

But what sent me over the edge was his nod when she finally acquiesced.  That nod gave me chills.  I’ve seen that nod. That nod meant “Good girl for obeying.”  It meant “There will be consequences.”  It meant “See? I still have control.”  It makes me nauseous, still, thinking about it.

So I have to give grace to someone whom I’d really rather not.  Sadly, I found that we are part of a kinship of being in an unbearable situation with little control or even hope of a different outcome.  

To make it so much more worse, he is the face of America right now.  That makes it difficult to get up in the morning, for sure.  Here's what I suggest:
Hold the hands of those you love. Make a donation to a shelter. Volunteer. Smile at strangers.  We're all in this together.  Find some grace.  That's how I get up in the morning.

Oh, and eff.that.guy.  I almost forgot that part.

20 April 2018

And Then - Poetry Month

You can find nearly anything on Pinterest.  Finding poetry was something I didn't expect.  I admit that I haven't researched the poet, which is unlike me.  I research everything.  But I guess I want to have a reaction to the poetry instead of to the poet or who they are.

The poems are predominately sad in nature, I think.  But I love the imagery. If you're inclined to sad, it can be good or it can be triggering.  

17 April 2018

I Found Bad Wolf

I am unsure if it's a regional thing or not but placing painted rocks around the community for folks to find has become a thing.  I've a few facebook friends who participate so that's about the extent of my knowledge.  I believe you're supposed to pay it forward if you find a rock, but it's okay if you don't.

I often see the painted rocks on social media and marvel at them. It's one of those things that one admires and thinks would be fun but then immediately forgets about. 


Because things have been stressful and unfun family-wise, Kevin and I have been doing random things just to break the stress.  Last Saturday was a trip to his work to see what's doing there.  (He's got new equipment, lots of projects, etc. It's more fun than it sounds and well, we weren't at home.)

Afterward we went to breakfast in town.  It's a very small town and one of those places that you go through on the way to somewhere else.   Not somewhere where it would occur to me to even look for such a thing.

We stopped at a cafe that had recently moved into an old Burger King.  We were wondering how it was going to look, going from a tiny cafe in a converted house to a fast food restaurant.  A fast food restaurant that was closed because it was so unsanitary, they lost their franchise.  YIKES.

As we were walking to go inside, something caught my eye.  I backed up and exclaimed "OH! That is SO COOL!" 

Someone had placed a rock to find on the ledge of the building. 

AND it was a DOCTOR WHO rock!  Thank you, universe.

I picked it up and turned it over to make sure that it was one of those and was excited to see it was. Kevin was skeptical though, "What is that? Wait, you're TAKING it?"

He was totally confused...why are you taking a rock? what is Bad Wolf (he's not a Whovian, obvs.)  Why would someone do that? Are you sure?  I explained to him but he remained skeptical.

I posted it on my facebook and thanked the group.  Now it sits on the end table where I can see it often and be happy.

Thank you random, kind stranger for taking the time not only to create art but to share it with the world too.  It made my day and continues to give me happy.


14 April 2018

Not So Broken

I can't remember the quote anymore but it's something along the lines of bragging about a good deed lessens the good.  I normally wouldn't share a particular good deed that I've done but this one still sits with me and it's been months. 

There is a homeless gentleman who has a caravan made of a bike and attached trailer.  He also has about five cats.  They ride in the trailer and they are always with him.   I've heard that he's been offered housing but he has to reduce the amount of kitties he has.  He can't bear to do it so he remains on the streets.

The cats are very well loved.  I've heard that he won't accept help or donations for himself but he will for his cats.  You can tell because they are clean, groomed, and well-fed. 

One morning I stopped to get a coffee and he was in the parking lot.  I always feel a twinge of guilt getting something and not getting something for him. 

As we know, Lucy is the most spoiled dog in all the land.  We've tried many combinations of beds for her throughout the house and shop.  One we bought ended up being too small.  I put it in my truck with the intention of dropping it off at the humane society.   As intended donations often do, the dog bed was well-traveled, spending about a week in the backseat.

For some reason, it popped into my head that perhaps he would take it for the kitties.  I parked near him and got out of the car.  I'd been told that he is harmless, so I didn't feel hesitant and I've learned skills in approaching said folks over time.

I knelt down and said "Excuse me, sir?" It took two more times before he answered.  I'm assuming he was worried that I was going to tell him to move or pray at him or whatever he must experience from the general public. 

I explained "I have a little dog bed that I was going to give to the pound but I thought maybe your kitties would like it instead.  He quietly responded, "What happened to your puppy?" 

My heart just broke, here is a human who has nothing and his first response is asking about the well-being of a dog.  I laughed and explained that she was just a very spoiled dog and was just fine, cozy at home. 

I asked him again if he wanted the bed and he said yes.  I explained that I would be right back and got it out of the truck.  I approached him again and held it out.  The cats were out of their carrier and huddled around him.  He took the bed and smiled a big smile.  "Oh, it's nice..."

He set it down and the cats immediately made themselves at home on it.  I commented that they seemed very happy and loved. 
"Maybe they'll share it with you a little"   He kind of laughed and continued pet the cats.  I wished him well and retreated to the truck.  I heard a quiet, small, "God bless you" as I turned away.

Again, I was touched by his caring.  He's clearly broken and yet his first thoughts were of a puppy's well-being.  Maybe he's not so broken after all.

13 April 2018

The Guest House - Poetry Month

I can't remember who was being interviewed by Howard Stern but they mentioned this poem.  It struck me in such a way that I looked it up online as soon as I could.  Yes, a strange venue in which to learn poetry, for sure.


This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

– Jelaluddin Rumi,
Translation from The Essential Rumi by Coleman Barks

06 April 2018

The Day is Done - Poetry Month

April is national poetry month and every April I have the best intentions to share some of my favorites.  Here it is the sixth of the month and I'm just now thinking about it. I know it's not everyone's thing but I think that putting any sort of beauty out into the world is important right now.

This is the first poem that I ever really connected with. It was in high school and I so wish that I still had that textbook.

The Day is Done 

The day is done, and the darkness
      Falls from the wings of Night,
As a feather is wafted downward
      From an eagle in his flight.

I see the lights of the village
      Gleam through the rain and the mist,
And a feeling of sadness comes o'er me
      That my soul cannot resist:

A feeling of sadness and longing,
      That is not akin to pain,
And resembles sorrow only
      As the mist resembles the rain.

Come, read to me some poem,
      Some simple and heartfelt lay,
That shall soothe this restless feeling,
      And banish the thoughts of day.

Not from the grand old masters,
      Not from the bards sublime,
Whose distant footsteps echo
      Through the corridors of Time.

For, like strains of martial music,
      Their mighty thoughts suggest
Life's endless toil and endeavor;
      And to-night I long for rest.

Read from some humbler poet,
      Whose songs gushed from his heart,
As showers from the clouds of summer,
      Or tears from the eyelids start;

Who, through long days of labor,
      And nights devoid of ease,
Still heard in his soul the music
      Of wonderful melodies.

Such songs have power to quiet
      The restless pulse of care,
And come like the benediction
      That follows after prayer.

Then read from the treasured volume
      The poem of thy choice,
And lend to the rhyme of the poet
      The beauty of thy voice.

And the night shall be filled with music,
      And the cares, that infest the day,
Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,
      And as silently steal away.

These Moments are Fleeting

As described in previous posts, family can be stressful.  Yesterday was Easter and with seven children, most of them teenagers now, it gets a little crazy.

The littles, who will be twelve in May, still wanted to do an egg hunt.  We were a little surprised but assumed they were going to do it with Sweet Baby, thus "justifying" doing a little kid thing.  But no, they were totally into it.

Then the baby fell asleep.  To be fair, he's two and it was nap time.  And we were all a little jealous.

Because reasons, Kevin and I have become the grandparents in these adventures.  We helped the adults kids hide the eggs and helped coach the kids in their search.  Well, I helped, Kevin smack-talked, which the boys adore.  The highlight was when Kevin called  C2 - the 14 year old - "Bruh" and he burst out laughing, saying "Dude, did you just say...bruh?" in complete disbelief.  Anyone who has teenaged sons knows what an accomplishment eliciting laughter can be.

We had to hide them in more difficult places this year; up high and in places nearly out of their reach.  One was tied onto a tree branch, one was balanced on a stump in a watery ditch.  Oh, and Nephew usually hides a bug in one of them so paranoia was high upon opening the plastic eggs.  If you know me IRL, you'll see the photos on the facebook.

After the hunt, we returned inside and the kids went through their candy while we enviously watched.  Family Feud was on and it was interesting to hear the kids play along. They understood some of the racier jokes yet one of the Boy Littles were frustrated that contestants making the "X" sign wasn't how you high-five and "Nobody high fives like that"   Girl Little is actually pretty good at the game and it was fun to have them old enough to participate in things like that.

Once everyone settled down, Girl Little sat next to me and before I knew it, her head was on my lap and she was snoozing.  Like with the teenaged boy, these moments are so rare now.  I carefully took a snap with my cell phone to keep the moment forever.

We know the clock is winding down with the parents but it didn't fully occur to me that the clock is also ticking with the kids.  Soon they are not going to want to hunt for eggs or snuggle while waiting for dinner.

So five minutes peace with a sleeping kid and making a sarcastic teen laugh. These moments are fleeting.

30 March 2018

Don't Call Your Mother

In case you're wondering about what life with aging parents might look like...

Kevin received a phone call stating the title of this bloggitty about a month ago.  He phones his mom every morning to literally make sure that everyone made it through the night.  But his dad phoned him and said the above.

Like most things these days, it takes a deep breath and eye-roll before being able to respond like a reasonable adult.  "Why not? What's wrong?"

"Well, her phone won't ring."

Kevin tried to get more information but asking his dad questions is not unlike asking a five-year-old a question.  You're going to get details you don't need. This is a good visualization:
Image result for family circus billy map

Then Kevin phones me and immediately apologizes.  "Can you go next door and see what's happening?"  This is one of those moments when I wished I drank.

I walk over there and I have to leave Lucy inside because they take care of my brother-in-laws dog whom I dislike and is mean to Lucy.  So just entering the house is a thing.  I mention that they live in a Park Model Home, so it's 400 square feet.  Perfect size for two elderly people, a small dog and an ill-behaved boxer.  Anyway...

Oh, and imagine either sports, COPS, or CNN being on blast while you're there.  And that Kevin's dad not-whistles all.the.time (not whistling = randomly blowing air out of your mouth, making a shushing sound)

Then it's the five minute thing to figure out what is happening.  There are a few things: Kevin's dad will joke because reasons instead of just telling us what is happening.  Kevin's mom isn't a good reporter and will make something up if she can't remember or doesn't want to tell us.  So I've learned to just start from scratch with anything.  Make no assumptions!

Oh and it's been doing this for two days.  Kevin checks in every day, usually twice.  Two days and they don't tell us. We live next door.  They see us come home from work every day.  I get home at 3:00.  Two days!!

I sat down and dialed her phone with my phone. "Oh, we did that. It doesn't work."  Deep sigh, "Yes I know but I need to see what it does and hear what message I receive."  It's like they think I don't believe them and I kinda don't but we'll move on.

Indeed it doesn't ring and it just says that the customer isn't available.  I go through the settings to make sure that she didn't put it in airplane mode or whatever.  She's been known to shut stuff off then steadfastly deny it. 

Then I check my app to make sure that the phone is still active. (more on that in a minute)  Finally I turn it off and turn it back on.  It works.

So, now I'm magic.  I fix all the things.

Two weeks go by and Kevin's dad phones during dinner.  Kevin was literally, physically IN THEIR HOUSE twenty minutes ago.  "Your mothers phone isn't working again."

Kevin disconnects and tells me. 
"OFFS!" I exclaim. 
Our patience is so worn at this point. 

We trudge over there and again the phone won't ring.  BUT, this time the battery is also dead.  So we have to deduce which came first: the non-ringing, the dead battery?  It's a chicken/egg thing.

Oh, and she doesn't have a cord for it, because wait for it, the dogs chewed it.
Now there's the discussion of how they need to make sure the phone is charged in case she falls, Kevin's dad is gone, whatever. This is completely new information to her.  AUUUUGGGGHHHH.

We restarted the phone and it worked again.  Now we explain how we need to know this as soon as possible so she's not without a phone and so I can address it before I leave from work, in case I need to stop at the phone store for, oh you know, a phone charger.  This time it has been two days.

Now this is the other part: They also use our internet.  We momentarily tried to use Kevin's brother's but it didn't work because of course it doesn't.

After THREE DAYS of not having internet, they finally phoned me to come see what the problem was.  "Well, we didn't want to bother you..."  "We don't now what's wrong."

Now, all she does at this point of her life is watch CNN and play with her tablet so this is kind of a big deal.  But, they didn't initially tell me that it had been three days.

I do all the stuff I know to reconnect.  Finally, I had to call Verizon to see what has happened.  Well, I thought I had taken the suspension off her account when we discovered she couldn't use the other house's internet but I made a mistake and it was disconnected.  Five minutes later and it was back up and running.

I mention to them that it's been three days.  "Oh, no! It hasn't been that long!"  Yes, it has because Verizon probably doesn't have time to lie to me.  And it's both of them, they're complicit.  So we've had to coach Kevin's dad to tell us when something isn't right because Kevin's mom will literally lie about it. 

I used to say that it's like raising teenagers but this is more like four-year-olds who have actual cookie crumbs on their mouths and blame the dog for the cookies being gone.

So, there you go, in case you're wondering what it's like raising elderly parents.

27 March 2018

Silent Films

One of the last parts of the photo project for my mom has taken a long time for me to finish.  She had a few reels of 8 mm film that we weren't sure what was on them. They were from my dad and maybe from my grandma, my mother thought.

I took them to the local camera shop (yeah, I know right, there is still such a thing) who sent them off to be put onto a dvd.  According to the interwebs, the wally world and other chain stores will do it too but I had trust issues with that idea.

Heartbreakingly, one roll couldn't be processed because the chemical used to develop the film has been banned due to toxicity.  Whatever is on that roll is lost to history.  Instead, it is on my bookshelf until maybe technology makes development possible.

It took almost three weeks and now those films are now on one dvd.  Technology is amazing but it is expensive; over $100 for less than 30 minutes of footage.  And, there's no audio.  I was pretty disappointed about that.

I uploaded it to the youtube so it's stored forever somewhere.  Then put a link on the facebook for the brothers, nieces, and cousins.  It's one of those things that maybe something will be important to someone else someday.

The videos are all pre-my existence so we're guessing mid-1960's.  It started with grainy video of a parade in my dad's hometown.  I think maybe two of the people on horseback is my great aunt and uncle. It also looks like it's across the street from where my mom worked as a waitress before she was married.

Then it switches to video of my eldest brother as a baby, in one of those now illegal bouncy/rolly seats.  He's maybe six months old. I so wish there was audio.

My dad worked for the Washington State Department of Transportation for awhile.  One of the jobs he did was bridge inspection.  There is video of the underneath of Deception Pass bridge.  You can see that my dad was on the girders from the vantage point and he made sure to video the water rushing underneath them.  Then it segues into the Swinomish Slough bridge in the early 60's.  I can't tell if it's an inspection or not.  It's interesting only in seeing the cars drive by.

There is about a thirty-second segment of my brothers playing in the yard while my mom mowed.  They're about three and eight, maybe.  They look so happy; I remember mostly surly teenage boys because of the age difference.  That my mom was mowing while my dad was doing other things is a perfect encapsulation of their relationship.

The next reel is the home movies equivalent of vacation slides, from a fishing boat going to Alaska.  This happened while my mom was pregnant with me, I believe. (another shining example of my dad's commitment to family)  It's footage starting at the Ballard Locks and the ship name is Sea Comber. Then
LOTS of footage that was probably interesting to him but is boring af now, especially with no audio.

It finishes with another vignette of my brothers swimming on our old dock.  The dock looks just like it did when I was a child.  My brothers are older in this part so I'm guessing it was probably filmed the summer I was a baby, so 1969.

The discovery of this was interesting but a little disappointing.  I don't know what I expected but I kind of hoped it was more. I think it was a situation where the unknown was much more interesting than the reality.

So as to not end this on a bummer note, double-check with grandparents, aunts & uncles, etc. for these kind of gems.  While I was disappointed, there could have been something significant there that would have continued languishing unknown and undiscovered in a drawer.