Saturday, December 30, 2006

Getting in Touch with My Inner Slug

I feel alternately guilty and free today. I am not erging today. I am still in my pajamas. It is 3PM.

After a month of serious erging to complete the Concept2 holiday challenge, I woke up today and decided to just...not....row.

I completed my 200K last Friday - and added another 6K Saturday morning to make my 2,000,000m - but I need to take a break from organizing my day around that machine. It's good to be in better shape (though I still can't shed these last five baby pounds almost three years later - ARGH!), but it's not good to be obsessed about anything. I don't even particularly LIKE exercise. I just have been exceedingly disciplined about it because I know if I'm not, I'll stop altogether.

It's not like I haven't rowed this week - I have. I even achieved personal best times in 10K, 6K and 30 minute rows. Don't quite know how those happened. Maybe the Christmas cookies were the extra fuel I needed.

I'll row tomorrow. I'll even try for an hour row.

Off to have another cookie. Gee, wonder why I can't drop those last five pounds.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Creepiest Christmas Card of the Year Award

Yesterday there was just one holiday card in the mail. It was most unexpected.

I saw the return address and instantly had flashbacks to childhood. It was from the ex-husband of one of my mother's sorority sisters. Yes, all those things. This person has narcolepsy and I remember him falling asleep at our dinner table more than a couple of times. Among other weird things.

Inside was 1) a note that my mother - referred to as "Aunte"- had given him my address, and2) a photograph of him hiking. Without a shirt on.

So I have this new image of this person. A 70+ narcoleptic hiker. Shirtless.


Friday, December 22, 2006

Things You Don't Want to Hear Three Days Before Christmas

M came into our room at 3:30am saying he didn't feel well. Several hours of vomiting followed.

The stomach bug that has been going around town has made it to our house and the timing sucks. We're supposed to see family tomorrow and Sunday (and M is supposed to be in the pageant at church).

Lots of hand-washing today, and we were able to get an anti-nausea medicine into M so the vomiting has subsided. I hear it's a quick bug, but I don't want anyone else in the family to get it.

I'm going to go stick my head in the sand now and pretend this isn't happening.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Moments You Hold On To

I'm sitting up in bed, sipping some coffee, kinda listening to the Today show. S is next to me, and M has crawled in on the other side. We're being a little lazy this morning, but shouldn't be. Need to get moving.

S. scooches down under the covers and turns toward her brother. M scooches down, too, and is face to face with S.

M whispers, "I love you, S."

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Just Breathe

For the last week or so, C has had increased asthma symptoms. As soon as we noticed this exacerbation, we put him back on some maintenance meds and started regular nebulizer treatments throughout the day. We were slowly making progress, I thought. And although his peak flow numbers weren't in his green range, they were creeping higher in the yellow range.

On Saturday morning, C started to say he didn't feel so great, and his coughing sounded a little wetter. I cut our morning errands sort, took the kids home and took his temperature. It was normal, though he did feel slightly warmer to the touch. He perked up Saturday afternoon, so I didn't think much of it and kept him on regular nebs.

On Sunday we went to church and he sang in the choir, though watching him, he wasn't singing exuberantly, or even heartily. I'm not sure if that was his not feeling well or just trying to be pre-adolescent cool. By the time we arrived home, his cough sounded a little wetter, he admitted to something coming up his throat with coughs, and said he was starting to feel lousy again. This time the thermometer registered a fever, though low-grade.

When my husband arrived home from work, we decided he needed to be seen. My husband took him up to the covering pediatrics office. (My husband can converse with the pediatricians on a different level than I can, but as a Mommy, it's hard being out of that loop.) They gave him another nebulizer in the office so they could hear his chest better, then sent him home with prescriptions for a pulse of steroids and antibiotics to cover the suspected beginnings of pneumonia.

C handled the whole thing well. Two days later, I can see he's feeling better, and he's had a few green readings on his peak flow meter.

The emotions in brings up in my husband and myself, however - well, I don't even know how to describe them. Just the word "pneumonia" makes me a bit of a wreck.

C is doing better and better with processing his illness of 3 1/2 years ago. For a couple years, he wouldn't talk about it, and asked me to never talk about it with anyone. I would tell him that I couldn't do that, because I needed to deal with what happened, too, but that I would make sure I didn't talk about it with him in earshot. But this year, C took a breathing mask into school with him on a day the kids were to bring items that represented something unique about themselves. I was stunned, but pleased. He actually talked about it openly with his classmates. And last night he asked for a list of all the medications he had while he was sick, just because, he said, he wanted to know. It's a long list.

Interestingly, I realized that as C has become ready to talk about what happened, I want to push it all deeper down inside me. I'm afraid, if we do talk about it more, I wouldn't be able to keep myself together. While I have been working hard to make what happened to him just a part of his life, it's more than that for me. It is an incredibly difficult episode that I still have trouble thinking about.

I guess it makes sense in some ways. C doesn't remember a good chunk of that time - any of the time in the hospital, actually, and I do. He was sedated and medicated and didn't see the 14 tubes in and out of his little body. By the time he was home, he was just weak and tired and his 7 year old psyche couldn't comprehend how perilous his journey had been. Now that he is older he wants to know a little bit more and a little bit more - but the distance of time separates him from the raw trauma of it all. Thankfully.

Through this little asthma episode, my gut instinct has told me that he's going to be fine. I learned to listen to my gut that awful day in April, 2003, when I looked at my pale son and thought, "This is not right. We have to go to the doctor. Now." But today, now, the gut says it's going to be okay - he's going to be okay. But will I?

I don't know how to tie all this together. C wanting to know more and my own anxiety and anguish. He's here and alive and healthy, and for that I am so thankful - but there are still emotions to be processed for all of us. I want to do it right for all of us, but I'm not sure I know how.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


I often think of things to write about here. Usually when I am alone in the car, worrying whether I will make it to work on time or whether I will make it to pick up the kids on time, or on some time-limited errand.

But then I get to the computer and the topics feel either lifeless or too dangerous.

I think most of the blogging world has been freed from the myth that blogging is a private thing. Even if you don't use your whole name, and limit other identifyung features, people can still find you. And if those people perhaps read something that offends, then the real world and the virtual world collide and fallout can be ugly. I'd rather not go there, thanks. My real world is complicated enough.

And so I edit.

Some people don't care, of course. Perhaps those people have a touch more courage than I do.

But, oh, I could write some really juicy things.

Guess I'll keep them to myself. For now.

(And I'll keep looking for appropriate things to write about.)

Friday, November 24, 2006

In the Spirit of the Weekend...

'Tis the season to write a sappy list of the things for which I am thankful. Yes, it's cliche. But it's all true.

I am thankful for (not comprehensive):

  • Entenmann's Cheese Filled Crumb Coffee Cake
  • Coffee
  • Hydrangeas
  • Healthy, thriving children
  • Healthy, loving husband
  • Strawberry yogurt
  • Internet shopping (saving me from the crazed masses in the stores)
  • Wet dog noses
  • Friends
  • A job at which I continue to learn new things, even if the politics sometimes annoy me
  • Peonies
  • Perspective (about some things, anyway)
  • Sand between my toes
  • Weather
  • Belly kisses
  • A roof over our heads that is not too big, not too small - it's just right.
  • Ice cream
  • Wooden knitting needles
  • Sappy Christmas music

I readily admit that I have a good life. I am lucky in so many respects.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Town Circus, I mean, Meeting

Last night I attended a special town meeting.

Ah, town meeting. That curious and quaint method of town government peculiar to New England. It can work so well, and yet, so often, it doesn't. But it's what we have. And the kind of arguments and personal attacks that come up at town meeting are enough to sway me from ever formally suggesting anything different - because anything suggested would have to be brought up, argued and voted upon at town meeting, of course.

I'd forgotten about this town meeting completely, until K, an acquaintance and member of the town's school committee, called to remind me. I knew that at least one of us should go. As faithful as I am about voting in town elections, I admit to trying to avoid town meetings Especially after the full-day Kindergarten debacle a few years ago. On the special warrant were three items related to the schools. They were items that desperately needed support - and defense from the usual town meeting suspects.

Sure enough, the usual suspects were there. Were it not for our talented town moderator we might have been sucked into the vortex of endless circular complaints about anything and everything.

What we were voting on, in the first four warrant items, were transfers from the town's free cash (essentially, emergency reserves) to various departments to cover collective bargaining agreements with various unions, expense overruns and unforeseen expenses. This was bargaining with unions and contracts that were not complete at the regular town meeting in March and much as departments tried to budget, they could not know exact amounts. The various town committee representatives gave their opinions on the warrants, recommending them for approval, for the most part, and noting that concessions were made on all sides.

Okay, so the police went first. They got all their money, no "nays." As did the town clerical staff, town library staff and the firefighters. I'm sure the group of uniformed officers standing around looking down on everyone with crossed arms had no influence. None at all.

But when it gets to teachers - well, then it got nasty. And I just wanted to shake some of these people. But I didn't. I didn't want to stoop to their level. These are teachers we were talking about, teachers who teach our children, who help shape our future, to use all the cliches. There is no evil agenda.

Our school budget is already bare bones. Our budget overall only rose about 3% from the last fiscal year and that's AFTER the approval of this additional appropriation. That's less than the cost of living! Which means our hard-working teachers essentially are taking a pay cut when you consider cost of living increases. We spend less per pupil than surrounding towns (and it's starting to show, in my opinion). We have a business manager for the schools that manages the school budget within millimeters-and deals with the people in town who berate him on a monthly basis for wasting their money.

I'm not saying the school department or budget is perfect, but they do a damn good job, with far more accountability and transparency than other departments. The school committee made a few fumbles in presenting the warrants, I think. But, two of the three school appropriations made it through, thankfully.

I absolutely understand the desire of towns people to want their tax dollars spent well. Of course I do. But why attack the schools when our small town police department has spent tens of thousands of dollars on a K9 unit and training that I have yet to hear of being used other than for show and tell at the elementary school. Our fire department has a Hummer. In addition to eight or nine regular fire vehicles. Why? We are a small town! The Senior Center gets whatever it wants. And I do mean whatever. It's getting a whole new parking lot installed but there was never anything wrong with the old one.

I would bet, that if you divided the police contract appropriation by the number of staff affected by it, and did the same for the teacher contract appropriation, the police each received a much heftier salary increase than the teachers.

There's this contingent of older town residents that say, why should we support the schools when we don't have any kids in the schools? Well, they did have kids in the schools once upon a time, and they fought for the schools then. It seems very shortsighted. What if one of their children moves back to town and wants to enroll their grandchildren in the schools? Will they be good enough then or will the years of the constant battering of the school budget have done irreparable damage by then? And don't forget, these kids going through the schools now are the one who are going to be responsible for supporting our economy-and their retirement investments-in the coming years.

There's the contingent in town with school age children who isn't active enough in defending our schools. I admit to being part of that group at times. With everything else we need to accomplish for our kids and families, it's hard to get excited about adding in hours and hours of tedious town meeting (which is why the debacle of town meeting 2003 occurred). This is also short-sighted. We need to fight for and protect our schools and other issues in town that affect us.

I'm tired of all the acrimony in town under the guise of accounting for tax dollars. When it comes down to it, it's just one side attacking anothers values.

Stop it.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Party at the Polls

The middle school in town was a surprisingly hopping place at 6:08 AM when I went in to vote. Who woudla thought. Not just business people stopping by before the long commute into the city, either. It was heartening.

There does seem to be some excitement with this election, a feeling of change in the air. Regime change begins at home, after all.

An election shouldn't have to be exciting or controversial to get people to the polls, though. It's our privilege and responsibility to vote. I usually take at least one of the kids with me and sometimes let them fill in a bubble or two. A friend of mine recalls being ushered through the snow in northern Vermont by her mother to get to the polls; her mother setting the example that one votes when an election is held, period.

I had this notion drilled into my head from an early age, too. I know exactly the look my father's face would have if I did NOT vote. As it is, I know he's looking down on me, watching me vote for members of the other political party and thinking, "At least she voted." With a heavy sigh.

Last spring in the town elections, I almost didn't vote. We were doing some house and yard work and completely forgot about it, until someone called to remind us. I rushed and made it with about ten minutes to spare. Later the next day, I learned that an acquaintance who was a candidate for library trustee was won her spot by two votes. Two. Votes.

As much as I believed in voting before last spring, and made the effort to vote in every possible election, it was that election that drove it home for me. My vote counts.

So does everyone's.

And that's just really cool.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Guess I Am Sticking Around for a Bit

When I started this experiment I wasn't sure I'd stick around. I still don't know how long I will last, but I'm here for now.

I've started telling a few people about it.



I think. :-)

Suburban Strife

What makes for a bad day in suburbia?


My husband had to be away for most of the weekend. I decided to take advantage of his time away and watch one of the ultimate chick flicks possible - the BBC mini-series version of Pride and Prejudice. Two discs, five hours of classic chick lit translated to film. The discs from Netflix arrived in a timely fashion. I had good wine.

Friday night went as planned. Got the kids to bed, poured a glass of wine, put in disc 1, and curled up under the duvet. Ah.

Saturday night was all set to repeat. Got the kids in bed, poured a glass of wine, and put in disc...hey, wait a minute. This isn't disc 2. It's another disc 1.


I checked the disc sleeve. Yup, it said disc 2. I check the other disc sleeve and disc. They match in saying disc 1.

Sigh. Thanks, Netflix.


My hair is extremely thin, fine, and straight. I hate it, of course. I'm slowly learning to live with it. Maybe by the time I'm 90 I'll be at peace with it. Because of the nature of my hair, it's extremely difficult to cut. The slightest error in the cutting line is very visible.

Over the years I have struggled to find people who can cut my hair well, much less at all. There was one woman out west during my high school and college years; I would actually go six months without a cut so she could do it rather than risk a bad cut. Then she left the business to start a family and I tried for about 12 years to find someone - yes, 12. In that time I don't think I ever saw one hair dresser more than twice. Once I left a salon and not even the receptionist would tell me I "looked great" in that falsely perky manner that seems to be required of salon support staff.

A little over five years ago, just after we moved here, I tried the local Aveda salon (as I did and do enjoy Aveda products). It was one of the worst cuts I have ever had. The owner had to try to fix the damage, but the fix was barely better than the original. A woman I knew actually asked me if I'd had my hair cut that way on purpose.

After that fiasco, I decided I needed to go to the city, that I would have a better chance there. Suburban scissors would not do. After a little research and some building of courage, I called a specific salon and asked for an appointment with the owner of the salon. It was more than I'd ever paid for a haircut in my life - and it was perfect. Worth every penny. Even my husband recognizes that splurging on a good haircut reaped benefits with him, too. No more whining about bad haircuts for months on end!

I found my person. Over the last 4 1/2 years, I had come to trust him so much that I would sit down and not even tell him what I wanted done. I would just say, "Make me look good." And he would. I referred several friends for him. I even started getting highlights from him (fabulous, natural-looking), though I did not keep that up because finding that block of time to get into the city on a regular basis was difficult (and the cost was hard to justify-if the cut was more than I'd ever paid before, imagine partial foils! Worth it for the quality and time spent, but still pricey).

Because I am out in suburbia, and because of the relatively craziness of our life, I do not get into town for cuts as often as I would like. The last time was mid-August. I realized a couple of weeks ago I really needed a cut and started looking at the calendar for a time I could get in. Once I figured that out, and cleared it with my husband's schedule, I called.

Me: I'd like to make an appointment for a cut with David on November 17th, late afternoon.

Salon: Um, David is no longer with the salon.

Me: What?

Salon: David is no longer here.

Me: Who owns the salon now?

Salon: A woman named Monica.

Me: Do you know where David is?

Salon: No, I don't.

Me: Uh...Okay...Uh ...Um...Thanks...Uh, bye.

Obviously, I was shocked. When I was in for my cut in August, I asked how business was going and he indicated it was going well. And not to have a postcard or some contact information for loyal customers is surprising unless it was a sudden decision and/or he has left the business altogether. It may well have been sudden, as his father's health has been up and down in the last couple years. Wherever he is, I hope he's okay.

I guess I'm growing my hair out.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Things They Say

Every family has their own lore. Tales told over and over again about funny things that have been done and said by members of the family.

I woke up this morning thinking about something C said maybe a year and a half ago.

When I was pregnant with S, C was not particularly thrilled about a new addition to the family. It was only months after his illness and he was struggling with his own feelings around that. He openly expressed to me his desire not to have another brother or sister.

When S was born, and C and M came to the hospital to meet her, his first words were, "Can I hold her?" And from that moment on he has been a loving, doting and caring big brother. S is lucky girl. M is a lucky boy, too, as C can be a wonderful big brother to him, but it seems to be different with S. Less fraught with competition as it is between C and M. Hey, I'll take what I can get.

One day while walking the dog, I asked C, "So, bud, you weren't too thrilled with the idea of a sibling while I was pregnant. What happened?"

And with a completely straight face, C replied, "I didn't know she'd be so cute."

Say it with me now..."Aawww."

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Happy Birthday, M!

My dear, sweet boy, there is so much to say that there's no place to begin.

Just know that I love you with all my heart and soul and I am so proud of you.

love, Mommy

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Messing with Natural Selection

I love our dog. Truly. But there are some aspects of dog ownership I could do without.

Yesterday was a decent day, even if the night before was unsettled for a couple of us at home. The bags under my eyes made that plain to all around me. But I did manage to get through most of my to do list, make a big dent in a work project, and hold my cousin's seven-week-old baby. Even managed to pick up the kids with time to spare and felt in a decent mood. I was looking forward to the pasta dish I planned to cook.

But then when we opened the door of the house, all that flew out the window as we were smacked in the nose with the scent of doggie diarrhea.


Yup, the dog was ill, and there was a nasty mess in her crate that needed cleaning RIGHT NOW. Apparently it had just happened because the mess was, uh, still warm. If I had just left work a few minutes earlier...

Thank goodness C is old enough to really help out because trying to clean up such a mess with a two-year-old underfoot would have been too much. Over the next several hours, we took her out frequently, but she still messed on the screen porch and we no longer have cushion for the wicker love seat.

This dog, Miss T, is a sweet dog. She's a retriever-collie mix and we adopted her from a rescue organization that saves dogs from kill shelters. She'd been in Kentucky before she was rescued and came up here.

Miss T is not the brightest bulb. She has the attention span of a gnat. There are times she clearly needs to relieve herself, but when we take her out she smells something in the wind and can't refocus to her original goal. I've taken her out 19 times on windy days before she's actually peed! She has a delicate stomach but loves to scavenge. We work hard at keeping everything off the floor and keeping her away from the garbage, but sometimes she manages something. I have no idea what it was this time. If she did not have a family of humans looking out for her - and willing to clean up after her - she would have exited the gene pool long ago.

But I will never get rid of this dog, unless she physically harms a member of the family. What she does and has done for C is what it's all about. When we moved up here from the South, C begged for a dog for a couple of years. I kept intending to do the research and find one, but something always came up. On that first awful day in the PICU, while C was coding in the next room, I bargained with God. I asked God to save him, he has so much life still to live, that I'd get him the dog he wanted, I'd take him to LegoLand.

So when it became likely in the following days that C would survive, I emailed an old boss who now runs a rescue organization and asked her to start keeping an eye out for a dog for us. Three months later, Miss T joined our family.

There are aspects of dog ownership that I don't like and bits of Miss T's personality that drive nuts. Messing with natural selection or not, she completes our family.

P.s. Yes, we did go to Legoland, too. It was awesome.

Monday, October 23, 2006


When I put in my profile that my son M is 7, it wasn't quite true. He's 6 3/4. He turns 7 on Thursday.

I am extremely anxious for this birthday.

On my 7th birthday, I was admitted to the hospital with double pneumonia. I don't remember how long I was in the hospital, but I remember the oxygen tent, and the nurse and a doctor flirting and my grandfather's contact popping out and it being crushed under the rail of the rocking chair he was in. I remember sharing a tv with a girl who had just had her leg amputated. I especially remember it being a big deal that I was in the hospital because my mother was Christian Scientist. But it all turned out fine. I'm fine. I went home soon enough and resumed 2nd grade.

On C's 7th birthday, he had a stomach bug, then had a low-grade fever for a few days. He was a little pale at his birthday party, but we figured he was fine. But two days later he was diagnosed with pneumonia and the day after that was in the local emergency room, then transferred that night into the Pediatric ICU at a children's hospital in the city. And thus began the most terrifying and awful period in my life. I sure hope it is the most awful period in C's life, too, because if anything is worse than that, well, I don't think I can go there.

C ended up on coding, being put on a ventilator for 9 days, having part of his lung removed, and all sorts of other insults. We were so lucky in the end - he survived. He missed a lot of school, required physical, occupational (and emotional) therapy, and his body took literally years to recover completely. But he's here. That time, that experience changed our life.

(I think, really, that is blog is for finally getting out everything about that time. I wrote lots of snippets at odd hours in the hospital, but never did anything with them. When my father died a month after C left the hospital, it became all tied up together, and until now I think, was just too much to consider all at once, or even in parts.)

So, M turns 7 on Thursday.

Wtih M, we also have to consider a birth defect that he has. He was born with a bicuspid aortic valve. At his young age it really should mean very little - antibioitcs before going to the dentist, knowing he'll never play American football, rugby, or any other sport with upper body straining. But at last year's annual check in with his cardiologist, Dr. B told us he also has an enlarged aortic root. Right now it's *just* within normal range for his size (tall), and it goes along with the valve about 50% of the time.

I struggle with what to do. Part of me wants to say - sit here on the couch with me, and be my sweet boy. Don't exert yourself. But if you knew M...well, that's not going to happen. He's exuberant, joyful. We struggle with how to discipline him without squashing his joie de vivre. He's smart, too. He asks why. His birthday party is on Saturday, climbing this thing called the "Pinnacle" at the local REI store, followed by pizza. I have to tell the employee running the belay line not to give him much slack, help him up a bit. Because I want him to feel like all the other kids, but I don't want to take an unnecessary risk. I want him to grow into all his potential, and I just pray his potential and growing aren't mutually exclusive.

We see the cardiologist on Wednesday. He knows my fears and understands them. Even before he met M for the first time, he consulted on C in the PICU when there was some question of whether C's heart had been (unrecoverably) damaged in the code. I don't even know where to begin in what to talk to him about. I need a lot of reassurance. I need to hear that M will be okay. I don't know if he can give me that.

I think I will be holding my breath a bit, through the appointment on Wednesday, through M's birthday on Thursday, through the birthday party, the days that follow...through his whole life, really.

Friday, October 20, 2006


The power went out about 7 o'clock this evening. The kids and I were finishing up dinner, watching a rented DVD, and it just went. The storm that is moving through the area includes a high wind warning, and I guess that wind knocked something out somewhere. We'd been busy inside, so I hadn't realized the wind had started to pick up.

S was quite upset, but I found the flashlight quickly, found some candles and we were able to get her settled. C read to her and M kept asking if he could light the candles with the matches. Uh, no! He's seven, and I'm not crazy -- despite appearances to the contrary. I also managed to find the camp lantern in the basement.

After about 20 minutes it became clear that this could be a prolonged outage, so we blew out the candles and brought the camp lantern upstairs. Everyone found pajamas and we climbed into Mommy and Daddy's bed for some reading.

Luckily, just after 8 o'clock, the power returned. C asked if we could look for the weather on the TV so we could know how long the wind might last. I said sure.

I turned on the TV and started flipping to different channels trying to find some weather.

Wait a sec, what was that?

I quickly try to backtrack and find it...could it be?




I went to grade school and high school with that guy.

It really is Bobby! Or, Bob, I think it was by the end of high school. He lived on the next street over from me. My friend shared a backyard fence with his family.

What's this he's on?


He's an ambulance chaser. It's an ad. One of those, "If you've been injured/taken this drug I can get you lots of money, here's my 800 number." Lovely.

I'll be honest and say that I am in touch with only one person from high school, and even that contact is spotty. I rather like it that way. After my father died, I figured someone with minor sleuthing skills could find me without much difficulty after my full current name and location were printed in the obituary. I was right - a girl who had once been a close friend emailed me and actually apologized for her behavior when that friendship ended (adolescent girls can be ruthless). In another twist, her partner in that ruthless behavior all those years ago has ties to this area, and that girl's parents now have a realty business about 40 miles from here.

Over the years, I've occasionally seen, heard of, or run into people in random places, always interesting since I live 3000 miles from where I grew up. I saw one guy from high school on a game show in the early 90s. I was unemployed at the time and watching game shows was the height of my days, aside from opening thanks-for-your-resume-we'll-let-you-know letters. Saw one kid in the St. Louis airport as we were getting on the same flight home for the holidays.

I saw this other kid on the subway platform in 1990 or so. I swear he looked exactly the same as he did when he was 13. He was the school genius and went off to the local college every afternoon for high level math classes. For one project in eighth grade he decided he was going to build a model rocket that would fly higher than a certain brand of model rocket. When asked how he was going to figure out which rocket went higher, he replied, "Simple trigonometry," and proceed to describe in detail the equations he'd use.

I decided to approach. I said who I was, that I went to school with him out west, and he was stunned. He started to ask about certain people, if I knew what had happened to them. As it turns out, I did know, because my one contact was part of that crowd. When I told what I knew (it wasn't pretty), he became angry with me and asked me why I was telling him this. Really. I resolved that if I ever saw anyone else from the west on the subway platform - or anywhere else for that matter, I would say and do nothing.

The sighting tonight on TV has me thinking about why I am so ambivalent about contact with people who knew me then. I kind of like knowing where certain people are - as much to avoid them at all costs as anything else - but don't really want those same people to know where I am. Am I the only one who feels like this? What is it about that part of my life that I still need to come to terms with? It was high school, for goodness sake, more than half my lifetime ago! And didn't we all have at least a little bit of insecurity about who were and who we would become?

How long will I be wrestling with my inner adolescent?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Just Some Photos I Like

Le Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City, August, 2006

Gerbera Daisies in the Rain



Black Sand



Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Fracture of the First Metatarsal

On Satuday, my oldest, C, tripped while running to my car from baseball. Note that baseball was over. He was just trying to get to the car to go home.

I thought it was just a little sprain. Shake it off, I said.

When we arrived home after picking his spanking new spectacles on the way, he wanted to put ice on it. I thought he was being a little dramatic but let him.

That afternoon we drove north to do some apple picking and see some friends. He limped through the orchard, but was just as active. I told him to stop favoring it, that it would feel better more quickly if he walked as normally as possible.

Sunday he went to a friend's birthday party at a sports complex. Flag football, and all that. He limped less, was just as active as the other boys. I figured he was fine and just milking the minor injury for best effect. He is 10, afterall.

On Monday morning he was still complaining of discomfort, so I took a look at it.


It was swollen and starting to bruise.

Bad Mommy!

I saw the other children off to school and took C to the doctor's office. They sent us to the radiology center for an xray. The xray techs told us it usually took about an hour to get films read, but nothing jumped out at them when they looked, so their money was on a bad sprain. But, they said, this isn't an official doctor's opinion. Remember that. It was 10AM.

I took C to school and went home to do some work while I waited for the pediatrician's office to call. Noon came and passed, one, two, three o'clock. Children climbed off school buses and still no phone call.

Finally at 3:45 I called the pediatrician's office. No read back yet, call again before 4:30.

I called at 4:15. Finally the read is in. (I really dislike the hospital associated with the radiology center, for many reasons, and this didn't help. But that's a post for another day.) The nurse says C has a fracture of the first metatarsal, she'll have Dr. H call me in a few minutes. At 4:35 she calls and says Dr. H just says to call an orthopedist; it needs to be stablized properly. They give me some local names.

I start calling. It's 4:37.

"Hi, I have a 10 year old with a fracture of the first metatarsal and it needs to be stablized."

"We close at five o'clock."

"I can be there in five minutes. I live in town."

"We close at five o'clock."

"I really don't know what needs to be done here. I need some direction."

"We close at five o'clock."

"Can you help me at all?"

"We close at five o'clock."

The conversation deteriorated from there, and that was just the first place I called.

Finally, my husband called his pediatric trauma friend in his hospital's ER. He told us to pick up the xrays from the other (closer) hospital and come on in. We live 33 miles from my husband's hospital, and we try to use local resources for what appear to be smaller things like this, but apparently, in this case, that was a waste of time. The big city hospital was the only one that was going to care.

My husband and C went off to the ER in the city while I gathered the other children, released another chipmunk at the conservation area and scrounged leftovers for us for dinner. They were back before bedtime.

The fracture was confirmed, but the orthopedist in the ER said he needed to see a specialist in the morning because the fracture might involve the growth plate.

He's there right now.

Our adventure continues.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Catching Chipmunks

Chipmunks have lived in the rock walls around my driveway since before we moved into this house. When we built the tiered rock walls on the other side of the driveway last summer, I imagined the critters sticking their heads out of their dens and saying to one another, "Hey, Alvin, get a look at the condos going in across the way!"

In the past several months the chipmunks have become a bigger nuisance. They annoy the dog and induce her frustrated barking from the porch, they make certain parts of the planting beds among the rock wall unstable and promote erosion, and they try to dig up some flower bulbs. Just a few days ago I tried putting in some fritillaria meleagris (guinea hen flower) bulbs for next spring and they've already gone for those.

In late June or early July I bought a Havaheart trap and set it by one of the chipmunk holes by the front step. I made sure it was stocked with the bait that I read was perfect for chipmunks: peanut butter, apples, raisins and such.

Nothing. Not one chipmunk in that trap.

Oh, we did catch something...we caught a toad. But no chipmunks.

I figured I just needed to be V E R Y patient and eventually it would work.

On a whim, on Monday, I put a piece of homemade chocolate chip cookie in the trap. Within two hours, we had a chipmunk.

The boys were so excited. I was at the grocery store with S, their little sister, when they called to tell me the news. After I arrived home and unloaded the groceries from the car, we loaded in the chipmunk, still in the trap, and we drove to a nature reserve area in town and released the little critter far from us.

I figured that wasn't the only chipmunk, so we set the trap again, and yesterday afternoon we had another chipmunk. Another trip to the nature reserve, and we set the trap again. This morning I made a third trip to the nature reserve before heading into the office.

Three chipmunks in less than 72 hours. And chocolate chip cookies seem to be the difference.

I smell a Science Fair project.

Update (10/17): We're up to five chipmunks in eight days. And we didn't have the traps set for two days.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

RIP, SC(KPMBS, the ones I remember)G

It's interesting that I mentioned my aunt of many marriages in my first post. She died last Thursday. I didn't know she was sick. Rather, I didn't know her breast cancer had recurred. I learned of her death from my sister, who read it in the newspaper.

Yeah, my family, we're close.

I hadn't had any contact with my aunt for three and a half years, since the nasty scene at my father's memorial service, and contact had been spotty for six or seven years before that, as we disagreed on how my father's wife was treating him and providing for his care.

Regardless, it's sad that she had to go by such an awful disease.

I would say that what I am feeling now isn't exactly grief for her, but it's some kind of feeling about that side of my family. The lot of them have been, at the very least, fodder for some crazy tales. My husband doesn't miss a family gathering on that side purely because of the entertainment value.

I don't have a ton of aunts and uncles or extended family. One aunt, by my father, and one uncle by my mother, six cousins total, from both sides. I used to think my aunt was so glamorous, so beautiful. I saw the clothes, the cars, the houses, the done-up hair and manicured nails. Somewhere along the way, I realized that the chain smoking, the Screwdrivers for breakfast, the cast-off husbands, the cast-off children, the tantrums when she didn't get her way were the signs of a deeply unhappy and troubled woman, and I somehow created a separation from her and her kids (mostly her daughter, nearest in age to me). I felt apart from them, different. Oh, I still saw her for several years when I went out to visit, saw her daughter on trips to California, but it was never the same. I'm sure she resented that and saw it as a rejection. She had a similar falling out with my sister.

In truth, I think it was really an acceptance of all the insanity that was that part of my family, and not rejection, that enabled the separation - the moving on - for me. I was able to talk about the crazy family history and laugh and try to learn from it, but she never was able to do that. She was embarassed by what her family had been, and tried to hide it. We were polar opposites in this respect. I wanted to take the family skeletons out and dance with them, and she wanted to make sure the kneecaps of those skeletons were well-broken so they would just stay put in the closet. (Dad was somewhere in the middle.) All this became so evident around the time my father died. It's still painful for me.

Maybe what I am feeling is renewed grief for my dad.

I noted in her newspaper obituary that the surname of one of her sons was left off. After being married to her current husband for over ten years, she was not close enough to this son for her husband to know his last name. That's just so sad.

I wish that she could have had more acceptance in her life. Maybe she would have been less bitter toward her sons, less angry around my father's memorial service, less a lot of things, more a lot of things.

I hope she's finally at peace.

Friday, October 06, 2006

What Do I Want, Anyway?

(In no particular order, and not comprehensive.)

Warm toes.

Kisses from my husband and kids.

The dog to pee and poop where and when she's supposed to.

The cat NOT to regurgitate hair balls on my bed.


A self-cleaning bathtub.

A lawn without crabgrass.

Fully funded college accounts for my kids.

Red wine. Good red wine.

Extended family who...nevermind.

A manager who...nevermind.

Erging to NOT be bulking up my legs and behind.

A healthy relationship with food.

To be able to wipe away all the stress and strife my kids have or will experience.

Time to knit.


Friday, September 29, 2006

If a Tree Falls in the Forest...

If a only one person knows about a blog (the writer), and no one else reads it, does it still exist?

I haven't told anyone about this blog. Not my husband, my kids, my friends, my family. Will I? Not?

What is the purpose here?

Not sure. Yet.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Jury Duty - September 20, 2006

It’s been 20 years since I last saw my father in his judicial robes. It was Christmas 1986, I think. One of my aunt’s weddings, husband seven or eight. The guy who lasted just six weeks, a widower. After a whirlwind courtship, quick but tasteful wedding and extravagant honeymoon, the bills for all of it arrived and each realized the other didn’t have money to pay these or any of the other’s mounting debts. Each had married the other for financial stability. Uh oh. Just before each of her weddings, my sister and I would pull Dad aside and suggest that perhaps he not proclaim the “until death do you part” part of the ceremony because, really, it wasn’t going to happen. He’d scowl with the face of a protective older brother at us, always wanting to believe the best of his sister, our aunt, and everyone around him. But we could also see in his eyes he understood our cynical mischief and knew he’d be performing yet another of her ceremonies before too long.

But six weeks. That was a record even for her.

The last time I saw my father in his robes in a court? Well, I’m not sure I remember at all. It’s been at least 20 years, and likely closer to 25. I’m sure a I was a sullen adolescent, embarrassed so totally by my father that rolled my eyes in his court. I grimace thinking about it now.

When the judge walked into the jury pool room this morning to welcome the potential jurors, he was already robed for the day’s sessions. Before I knew what was happening, tears were rolling down my cheeks and I was struggling to maintain any sense of composure. I missed my father so much.

I didn’t anticipate this response to reporting for jury duty. Indeed, I brainstormed ways to get out of it, but didn’t act on any ideas because I knew my father would be horrified that I was trying to squirm my way out of my civic responsibilities. So I sucked it up, kissed my sleeping children before leaving to get to the courthouse at the appointed early hour and sat waiting for whatever came next. While I still hoped not to be actually seated on a jury, I never expected the tears and the flood of memories to be there.

I remembered his striped button-down oxford shirts and regimental striped ties. Often worn with striped trousers and suit coats. I remembered the way his appetite for all things mayonnaise caused the hem of the front of his robes to be just higher than the hem of the back of his robes. I remembered his office in the new capital building before the new courts building was completed. The awful easy listening music he played in there, and how he kept every single one of the school made trinkets given him by my sister, my brother and me. There were more than a couple of badly proportioned gavels from learning the lathe in shop class. I remember framed cartoons by the editorial cartoonist at the local newspaper, immortalizing my father’s tendency to “rest his eyes” during a portion of most proceedings.

I remembered the good parts and bad parts of our relationship. The moments we seemed to understand one another and the times we absolutely didn’t.

I’m not one of those people who believes in idealizing the dead. When Dad died, my sister talked about him as the perfect father. Well, he wasn’t. He was imperfect, to say the least, as I am, and as we all are. We had our share of conflicts. My sister and he had their own struggles, of course. Maybe her idealization from him in the first days and weeks after he died were her way of handling her sweeping grief. My brother and Dad had their own issues, too. But we loved him, and he loved us.

And yet the strength of my missing him at that moment in the jury pool room came as a complete surprise.

This last Sunday, the Parade magazine in the Sunday paper asked, “If You Had One Day with Someone Who’s Gone, Who Would it Be? What Would You Do? What Would You Say?” I thought about this hard during the rest of my time in the jury room.

If I had one day with someone who is gone, it would not be my father.

If I had one day, it would be with my husband’s late mother. I would ask her things, like, what was he like as a child, as a baby? How big was he when he was born? How was your labor? What was he like at 10, 15, 18? What was your greatest wish for him? Because these are things we do not know.

I would then introduce her to her grandchildren, my sons, my daughter whom we named after her, our two nephews. I would have her create a special memory with each of them. She would meet her other daughter-in-law, see her nieces, her older niece’s sweet husband, and her great niece and great nephew.

If I could muster the courage, I would ask her advice on how to manage the conflict we have with her surviving husband. Just one or two sentences on what to do. A hint or a push in the right direction.

I would give her time to find others she wanted to see, and then I would leave her alone with her sons, who still need her and miss her so much because she was taken away far too early. So she could see what good and strong men they have become.

If I were given one day with someone who is gone, it would not be my father. As much as I miss him, would like my children to know him, and much as there were things left unsaid, I think we understood each other. There were parts of each of us that infuriated the other. We agreed on very little and loved each other so much in doing so.

One of the disagreements we never fully resolved had to do with a Civics teacher when I was in high school. My teacher was an old school male chauvinist who referred to the girls in the class as “dollies” and believed girls were good for staying home to cook and clean and raise the children only. I challenged him on this, and challenged everything he said in class. As such, when report card time came around, I had a B instead of an A thanks to being marked down on class participation for my challenges (my written work was an A). I was furious but preferred the B to being quiet in the face of such awful crap being spewed at a class of majority smart girls. In my eyes it was pride and doing what was right and standing up tall.

My father found out about it and wanted me to get the A above all else. He suggested that I bake this teacher a pie.


My blood pressure still rises when I think about this over 20 years later. It was an argument we revisited many, many times. I often say that he never understood why that upset me so much. But I think he did. I think he did know, and he was just as stubborn as I can be. Because I understand, too. I understand that he was coming from an entirely different generation and understanding of authority and a desire for me to achieve and a desire to protect me from difficulty. Never the twain met, on this plane of existence anyway.

My dad once said, when he realized I wasn’t going to move back to the southwest, ever, “I wanted you to be independent, but not this independent.”

As much as I believe I have come to terms with your life, our relationship, and your death, here I am, Dad, your stubborn and independent daughter, crying at the sight of pleats in a judges robe.

I miss you.