Saturday, December 28, 2013

we girls

Back together in California.  The boys are all back too.  They just weren't on the sofa with us. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

christmas wrap up

Well, I got all of the things done.  Very happy with the card.  The presents were bought and wrapped and given and pretty much enjoyed (according to Audrey "Best Christmas Ever!").  Some of the usual cookies were baked, although no cutting out and baking and frosting this year.  I made a conscious decision to not make any candy and am putting out a big thank you to Jr's friend who brought over the toffee from Trader Joe's.  The cheeseballs were, as always, a big hit.  The meals together were worth the effort.  The tree was beautiful.  Jack gave me Italian--the Rosetta Stone package to teach me to speak Italian.  Cannot wait to get started on that.

And now, Jack and I are in California, parts of the day with the girls and Cory at their house and parts of the day with Jessie and Leo at the hospital.  Poor little guy, big sucky asthma has laid him low.  But he is improving (at least I'm told the rattling sound in his chest is improvement), and maybe tomorrow they'll be back home. 

After a day or two, we'll head home, unpack and tidy up, take the ornaments off the tree, and settle in to wait for the birth of the newest little grandson.  Soon.  He'll be here soon.

Monday, December 16, 2013

so on top of it

Back at zumba.  Moving my body, even, amazingly, my butt.  I figured out the figure eight move and last weekend figured out the side to side thing, and tonight, for the first time, shook it front to back.  Got an attagirl from the instructor. 

I'll keep practicing the butt stuff and start adding the arm waving.  Maybe somewhat out of control, but still totally satisfying. 

On the holiday front, the tree is up, lit, and decorated (thanks to Jr and the granddarlings), the cookies are baked, the cheeseballs are mixed and wrapped, and the cards are in the mail.  Many presents have been purchased, and only a not-too-overwhelming list remains.

It is all coming together nicely.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

definitely feeling it now

I've had this virus thing for the past week that may be at least partly to blame for my slow motion speed getting into the spirit of the season.

The tree really helped.  It smells so so so good in the house.

Tonight I was debating whether or not to go to the 6:00 zumba class.  I haven't been to a class since last Wednesday because I just didn't feel up to it.  I felt so much better today, but still wasn't sure I was ready for all of the movement and the breathing that zumba requires.  Mostly the extra breathing.  Because of the virus thing.

When we got home from work, the drummer was here, probably working on a secret project (shhh, don't tell) and he mentioned that his wife's 7th grade Christmas choir program was tonight.

I love me a Christmas concert.  So no zumba, but 7th grade choir and band and orchestra concert.

My oh my did that concert bring back memories.  It all started when the choir and band and orchestra performed a medley of familiar Christmas carols and invited the audience to sing along. 

Obviously I remember many Christmas concerts with our kids performing.  I remember looking forward to those concerts because I always felt the holidays in me after a concert with the kids.

I remember many years ago going to my elementary school early, probably one day each week in December, to sing Christmas carols.  There was a guy who went to the schools in my district during December to sing carols before school started.  I loved that. Such a great gift to kids.  I remember learning the words to The Little Drummer Boy and thinking it was the best Christmas song ever.  I thought it was a brand new song since I'd never heard it before.  Not so.  I'm not that old.

I remember gathering at my friend Lisa's house for yummy food with good friends and our families in my old neighborhood and then heading out into the neighborhood singing carols to our neighbors.  That felt so satisfying in so many ways.

I remember driving with the kids in the car, singing carols together, when they were younger, usually at night on the way home from Jack's parents' house after Sunday evening visits in December.  I love singing with my kids.

And I remember listening every year to my favorite Christmas cd, a University of Utah choir recording that included Lisa's oldest son.  It has become a sweet tradition, a familiar friend.

Every year I make a list of the things I want to do before Christmas.  It usually includes baking and candy making and cheeseballs, sending out cards, buying, wrapping, giving presents, setting up a tree--and I always forget, but am always reminded, that music stirs up my feelings about Christmas so quickly and so deeply.

Christmas music.  Such a simple thing, often costs nothing, but gives me so much every year.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

now it feels like christmas

and it smells like Christmas too

Sunday, December 1, 2013

to remember this holiday

A couple of days ago I was reading back through old blog posts and felt grateful I'd recorded those thoughts and memories and events.  I don't remember writing many of those words, but reading them reminded me of past times and that was good.

These are things I want to remember about this past holiday:

1.  All of our kids and grandkids around tables in the dining room, eating good food, laughing, talking together.
2.  Both of my parents with us for that wonderful meal.  It has been a long time since my dad joined us here, and I don't know if or when it will happen again, but that day, for that meal, was precious, seeing him enjoy the company and the food so very much.
3.  Trying very hard and succeeding at not eating pie for breakfast or before breakfast this year.
4.  A crisp sunny November morning with the kids and grandkids at the zoo where the animals are always much more active during cooler weather, so we saw bears, seals, a wolf, and more, all up and moving, and we even heard the tiger making tiger sounds.  And thank you Shi for that zoo pass.
5.  Hours and hours and hours of grandkids playing together joyously, with this visit featuring lots of note writing.  I will treasure reading through all of the notes I've found throughout the house.  Note to self--buy simple white little notepads and pens for each girl for Christmas.  It will be their favorite gift. 
6.  Skiing tales from Jessie and Cory about their first time skiing at Alta, and thanks to Jr, the drummer, and his wife for preparing them, encouraging them, and also filming them.
7.  Leo warming up to me after much cajoling, and also when he realized I was the closest thing to a mom because his mom was gone skiing.  That boy is such a boy--throwing everything he can get in his hands, but especially anything ball-shaped.  I think he was born with throwing in his hands.
8.  Pancakes, pancakes, and more pancakes.  For dinner and for breakfast.  Or those little boxes of sweetened cereal that the girls love as much as I did as a kid.
9.  Speed bowling, all of us together, adults, kids, everybody.  Bumpers and a ramp that enabled Ellie to have a higher score than many of us.  Everybody--five kids and nine adults--finishing a full game in just a little over one hour.
10.  A safe journey home today for the Californians, and a meal of leftovers and macaroni and cheese with the locals today.  Grateful for them all, everyone.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

thanksgiving eve

Today was a day of pie baking. 

And tomorrow will be a day with all of our kids and grandkids and other family together here in the gardens.  I no longer take these moments for granted, but after all of the events and changes of life in the past few years, gratefully recognize these gatherings as the blessing they are. 

I wish the same for everyone.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

just so i'll remember

Last night I went to zumba class again.  I was hoping it would be the teacher who was there on Monday, because when I got close to her, I could see that we were close in age, and more than that, the class was just plain fun.

Alas, last night's teacher was not Monday night's teacher.  And I learned from a classmate that the Monday teacher is only a substitute so no way to know when she will be there.  Boo.

But I soldiered on.  I kept trying to do those salsa steps last night and I tried to wave my arms like I just don't care (because these zumba classes also include a bit of hip hop).  There was a lot of skipping steps too, but I just didn't have the strength or energy or something to get my big old self to skip fast.  And then towards the end of class, I simply couldn't keep up.  I kept losing track of the teacher in the mirror and also in the crowd of classmates, and they were all doing moves that I don't know if I'll ever figure out. 

Then I spotted myself in the mirror and in my mind it became clear that I am too old and solid to be moving around to music like that (all that stuff about girls showin' what you got or shakin' what you got or something). 

Pow!  Bam!  What was I thinking anyway?  What a loser lamely shuffling and waving those soggy arms.  KaPow!

After the music stopped, I headed directly to the locker room to pick up my jacket and purse, but because I'm old and weary and big, I couldn't remember the sequence of how to open the locker.  Just like jr high but I'm old now and shouldn't have to deal with that.

I thought I might just start to silently weep to my poor lame self.

And then I heard a voice say, hey, did you like the class?  You were doing great!  And I looked up and there was a woman from the class who I had noticed was not skipping either.  I was astonished.  I told her I didn't think I'd ever be able to keep up with the teacher or other kids in the class and she said I shouldn't worry about it, just keep coming, keep moving and I'd be fine. 

We continued talking as we walked out into the rainy night, about how we are not Jazz dancers and have real women bodies, and I cannot even tell you how glad I am that she stopped to encourage me. 

I had decided I was clearly too old to be working out to that music with those moves and had been ready to bag the gym, give up, and slink back to my recliner. 

I am so grateful to her.  I'm going to stand by her in class the next time I see her. 

And I'm headed back tonight for the 7:00 class where I will be looking more closely at my classmates to find a zumba class soulmate to stand by.

And I'll remind myself that this is an ongoing lifestyle change, a journey that I can enjoy if I just cut myself some slack and quit beating myself up.

Monday, November 18, 2013

bit of an update

ZUMBA--yes, I'm in love with zumba class.  Still cannot move my bottom like any of the teachers move theirs, but tonight, the teacher said it's all in the knees?  This, this is puzzling to me.  I'm pretty sure that my fellow classmates who understand that concept must have been in dance class in high school, and I am not a former dance class kid.  So for now, I'm workin' it my best and trying to avoid making eye contact with myself in the mirrors that are EVERYWHERE.  But definitely loving it.

FANTASY FOOTBALL--yes, I'm still leading our little league in points.  'Nuff said.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

might be better

This has been a long week.  Maybe more than a week.  But after another procedure and a lot of staying down, I think Jack's headache is finally gone.  Hope I didn't just jinx him.  Now he's back to only having the back and leg pain that was the start of this nightmare.  He told me yesterday there are definitely worse things than a bit of back pain.

I am looking forward to this new week.  Today, I'll tidy up a bit, do some dishes and some laundry, tend to my houseplants and my pets, and hopefully see some of my married kids and their kids. 

I can see blue sky outside and the sun is about to shine again.  Things are looking up around here.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

there was this and there was that

Jack and I are home from Phoenix.  It was different from other trips we've made to the races.

The Sunday race was, well, awesome.  Our seats were the first row of the upper section at the end of turn four, which probably doesn't mean a whole lot to most of you, but trust me, they were great seats.  They had backs, which is kind of a necessity for a long race while sitting in the beautiful November Phoenix sunshine.  But these seats also had a railing in front of them so we had a place to put our feet.  Sweet.  Also, we were at the end of the row, which is perfect.  Best of all, we were sitting right where the drivers hit the gas whenever the green flag flies, so we could feel those engines roar.  Also, the race was very competitive, and the winner didn't drive a ford, so that was all good.

But there was also most of the rest of the weekend that wasn't quite so great.  It included a spinal headache for Jack and ten hours at the ER and a not very fun procedure for him and an extremely rude and not very compassionate front desk clerk for me.  Pretty sucky is what that part all was.  I may have to resort to my excellent letter writing skills to express to that whoever is in charge at the hospital my displeasure with that whole deal. 

We thought it might have almost all been worth the effort until this morning when the headache returned.  Not sure what that means, still waiting for the local doctor to tell us what magic he has that will fix it. 

Poor Jack.  He has apparently used up all of his lifetime allotment of vacation enjoyment.  Or it seems that way considering the past two retreats.  For now, today, he has been sent back to bed hoping that by tomorrow the pain will subside and he will be able to get back to normal life.

Fingers crossed.  Seriously.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


This is what Phoenix looks like right outside the hotel window where Jack and I are staying this weekend because NASCAR is in Phoenix and so, of course, are we.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

just to keep a balance in the world

1.  The soffit, fascia, and rain gutters that were to be installed on the Provo house a week ago (after a five-week wait) have not even been fabricated yet because apparently they can't get "cameo" colored materials and somebody was supposed to contact me three weeks ago to have me pick a different color.  But nobody contacted me.  Today the service desk guy called to give me the good news that he had found another manufacturer who makes soffit, fascia, and rain gutter in "pearl" which is--I swear he said this--"exactly the same color as cameo."  And he can get it in a week or two.  Isn't that great?

2.  Jr's car is making a weird noise.  He described it as sounding like a whoopie cushion whenever he accelerated.  Jack thinks it's something to do with the exhaust system.  Isn't it good that we have an extra car right now?

3.  Took Jack in for another epidural in his back to try to ease his back pain and the shooting pain in his right leg.  He signed in with the front desk and then we waited and waited as one then another then another then everyone else in the waiting room was called back.  I asked how soon they would be taking him back and the receptionist assured me he would be called back in order.  And then she walked over to the door where all of the other patients went to get checked by the nurse before their procedures, whispered something to someone inside that room, and in less than ten seconds, Jack's name was called.  The person who called his name took us down a hallway, past all of the curtained rooms and asked us to wait for a nurse to come take his vitals and then the doc would be in to get him.  We waited 45 minutes.  I finally stepped into the hallway just as the doc walked by, who stopped and turned back towards me and said, "hey, wait, you guys got here early and now it's late and I haven't done your procedure yet."  We had entered the building with him earlier today before our waiting waiting waiting began.  I said I thought they had forgotten us. Twice.  The nurse came in and checked his vitals and the doc took him back and gave him his epidural and even though it took twice as long as we thought it would, it seems to be helping.  So that's good, right?

4.  The tenants have called and texted to let me know there is water rising up out of the floor drain in the basement laundry room of the Provo house.  They all deny having put anything unusual down the toilets or sinks.  Tomorrow will be a great day to call a plumber, right?

5.  Jr got word from his school that they'll likely not be providing any more financial aid to him.  Only two more semesters, but well, apparently they think he's received his share.  That certainly sucks.  But we'll figure out something, right?

So there you go. 

Saturday was not the usual day, with all of its me-time and a new car, and thank heavens today was not the usual day either.

Monday, November 4, 2013

fitness update

Tonight was my third zumba class.  In order to prepare, because I like to be prepared for class, right?--well, yesterday I spent a bit of time viewing YouTube videos of people zumba-ing.  I watched closely and tried to channel my inner butt shaker.

I'd like to say that tonight I was keeping up with the rest of the class--those under thirty-year-olds--in fact, I'd like to say I was teaching them, schooling them, if you will, but well that would not be true.

What would be true is that I moved more during this class than the last two, I picked up the pace a bit, shook it all up a bit more.

And, I sweated more than I have in like forever.

After one week, I'm headed to falling in love with zumba class.  I may be quick that way, but experience has taught me that if I stick with it for two weeks, I'll be in for good. 

One down.  One to go.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

not my average saturday

Today was busy, busy, busy. 

Started with sailing with Sugar--we only found one yard sale so we went to Einstein's for bagels and conversation.

Dropped her off and went home to change into my zumba clothes.  Three minutes later, at the gym with all of my new zumba buddies.  Still haven't figured out those bottom shaking-chest poppin' moves, but my how good it feels to be moving.  Today's class had two teachers, one who did the salsa-type moves and one who was seriously into the hiphop moves.  Pretty sure if I keep going to her classes that in a very short time I'll be doing the first 16 bars of All the Single Ladies.  Yep.  I can see that happening.

Back home to change into jeans and t-shirt and back on the road to see Sarah for a haircut.  See, if I'm going to do this zumba stuff, I'm pretty sure I'll need to stay on top of the sassy haircuts. 

Back home to convince Jack and Jr that we should go to Su Casa for lunch.  Warm chips with salsa and tacos and enchiladas.  Yum.

For some reason, Jack missed the usual turn to home and we ended up at the Scion dealer.  Bought the new TC we've been thinking about for a while.  The TC is a bit sassy too.  Kept my little Xa because I love that car and we can park it at work so Jack can drive it around on plant and if one of us needs to leave early, the other will still have a way home.

While Jack and Jr finished up the paperwork, I took the little Xa to Mimi's for a pedicure.

And then I came home.

This was not the usual Saturday.  But it was fun.  Worked out my body.  Sassed up my hair.  Refreshed my feet.  Enjoyed good food and fun conversation with all.  And a new car.  Sweet day.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

happy halloween

the view today out my office window...

Monday, October 28, 2013

four or five things in no particular order

1.  I just read the blogs of three daughters of one of my friends.  Oh my but I want to comment and tell those girls how much I love when they post, I love reading about their lives, I love seeing their pictures--but you know, I don't want to be that person who hijacks all of the posts by commenting like cra-cra.  But I do love reading them.

2.  And speaking of my mom...rim shot...but seriously.  Mom stopped by on Saturday while Jr was stapling black sparkly fabric to the dining room ceiling in order to make it look all starry for the party that night.  Jr's friends said they couldn't believe his mom allowed him to take over the house with all of his party plans.  My mom sat right there in my rocking chair and told him he needed to stop asking permission and just do what he wanted because it was much easier to just do what you want and not ask permission.  That's how she's lived her whole life, she actually said that, and really what were people going to do anyway if you just did what you wanted and then they could just get over it, right?  Kids of mine, if you're reading this post, please close your eyes and don't read this next part, because, WTF?  My whole entire livelong life has been about trying to get permission from my mom who ALWAYS SAID NO FIRST.  I was so stunned to hear her actually admit to any of this.  I've recently realized that she's going to do whatever she pleases so just get over it, but to hear her say it?  Sorry to Jr's friends who thought I was annoyed at him stapling stuff to the ceiling.  My RAGE had nothing to do with him or his party plans.  I was just ticked off that I'd missed out on all sorts of who knows what by ALWAYS ASKING PERMISSION AND BEING TOLD NO.  Jeez.  Seriously?

3.  Okay. Take a breath.  Next.  I still haven't made that banana bread.  But I did bake two batches of cupcakes for the party, and while they aren't those fancypants cupcakes you see at the fancypants cupcake stores that are EVERYWHERE--well, they are still pretty tasty with their chocolate frosting and festive sprinkles, and I have done my best to make sure none of them go to waste.

4.  And speaking of cupcakes.  Jack, Jr and I went to the nearby gym tonight to join up.  We took a tour and it has everything we could possibly need and it's about three minutes away.  Perfect, right?  During the tour, our guide pointed out a large room that had mirrors from floor to ceiling.  I thought he said it was the angry workout room.  He clarified by saying it was the main workout room.  Okay.  Makes sense.  Then he made us walk upstairs to see all of the workout equipment.  Yes, that's right, exercising to go see the exercise equipment.  Then he offered to show us the locker rooms.  Did he let me go with them into the mens' locker room?  No, no he did not.  He sent me down the hall to the womens' locker room, which was very nice, and while walking back to meet up with the guys, I noticed the angry workout room was full of women so I peeked in and before I knew what happened, I was right in the middle of a zumba class.  Yep.  Me and zumba.  I could make a list of all the stuff I learned about zumba but I'll just point out two things--first, I have absolutely zero idea how to shake my butt like that teacher was shaking hers.  And I can't remember what the other thing was.  Probably something about how I haven't really exercised for the past 30 years and I'm pretty sure I need a handful of advil stat.  Or about whose crazy idea was it to put mirrors on every wall in the angry workout room?  No wonder people are angry.  Okay, yes it was fun to move to the music, even if I was frequently creating moves all of my own, but I suspect that any increased amount of movement has to help me feel more fit, right, or at least after a couple of weeks and some advil? 

5.  Oh wait, back to the cupcakes.  I was feeling so proud for lasting through the entire 55 minute zumba class that I rewarded myself with a cupcake.  So there you have it.  I zumba'd and ate cupcakes.  Yes, I had one before we went to the gym.  There's only one left, so probably by the time I go to bed I will be all done confessing my eating of snacks.  Until I make that banana bread.

One last thing--has this been the most beautiful autumn or what?  Yes, windy and colder today and probably rainy tomorrow, but seriously.  The colors and the temperature and the feeling.  Remarkable.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

the party

Jr really knows how to throw a party.  Unfortunately, the band didn't play (the lead guitarist had to go to his real job, boo), but even without a band, the party was a hit.  I'm not sure I should have played that crazy card game with Jr and his friends, but there was much laughter, and seriously, check out these decorations, from the front yard, to the haunted woods in the front room, to the great hall in the dining room, down the stairs to Hogwarts in the basement, and a little bit of extra startling at the bathroom entrance:





And Halloween hasn't even arrived yet...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

look at me being all busy and stuff today

Went to work where I:

1.  Got my flu shot.
2.  Ate flautas smothered with chili verde for lunch with Jack, Stu, and Jr.
3.  Got a new compy.
4.  Tried to learn to be friends with the new compy who speaks a foreign language it seems, or maybe it's just a new operating system or whatever those IT guys call it when they give me a new computer that is pretty much different from my former compy.

Came home from work where I:

5.  Reheated leftover pot roast with potatoes and gravy for dinner.
6.  Donated blood and ate cookies because the Keebler elves support blood donation, which is cool, if you ask me.
7.  Bought a new suit at Ann Taylor, which took a few minutes because apparently my body has not only changed size in the past few years, but also shape, and, well, I'm trying to be okay with that.
8.  Blogged this post and will spend the next three minutes making my picks for the fantasy football league, which, btw, I am still leading, and you boys stop hatin' on me for my picking skills.

Tomorrow I'm taking a quick trip to Birmingham, Alabama, for a mediation session for work on Thursday and then back home Thursday night.  Very cool to get to sit in on one of these, I think.  Seems only reasonable if you are in on a matter from the very start and live through it for seven years and four lawyers that you ought to get to see it to conclusion.  Which may or may not happen on Thursday, but it will be interesting. 

Yeah, I'm legally nerdy like that.  And I'll be wearing a fine suit.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

the good news

1.  I spent the evening last night with the locals.  Fun was had.
2.  The government is back open.  Wheeeee!
3.  My parents have arrived in California.  Long story about the route.  I'll spare you.
4.  Halloween party planning is in full swing.  As can be seen in this shot:

You heard it's a Harry Potter party this year, correct?  Don't you wish you had a castle in your basement now too?

And this shot:

Which, in case you cannot tell, is a picture of the white board with electrical/electronic diagrams for the various devices that will be used to entertain the guests and frighten the trick-or-treaters...and I've been told those numbers in the corner are something to do with battery life analysis for various haunting devices...

And I told you there will be a band again this year, right?  Yeah, because that's how we rock around here.  And we will rock.  Join us on the 26th, right?  Or if you want to giggle yourself silly, come over on the 31st and sit in the darkened living room with me to laugh at the frightened teenagers out front. 

Best.Time.Ever.  Along with the band.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

driving but not where i want

There are always a lot of possibilities on my list of things to do on a Sunday, but driving to Wendover, eating at the Mandalay Bay buffet, and then driving back home are not on that list.  All kinds of messed up is what that is.

See, Wendover has become to me a ten-minute bathroom stop and gas tank fill-up on the way to see the Californians, or perhaps the last stop on the way home from visiting with them.  It is definitely not a destination place.

But on Sunday last, the phone rang and it was my mom, calling to tell me she was disgusted with herself for forgetting to bring her purse with her on their trip to California.

Mom turned 80 this year and seems to have decided that she needs to do all of the things she can while she still can.  She is doing stuff she's always done--like yardwork in the dark and shopping and storing away lots of stuff and remodeling the house in whatever ways she still can, but the past few months have included a whole bunch of new things she wants to do, like hiking up part of Mt. Olympus and skipping the family reunion to go to Lagoon.  There is no stopping her now, so she and dad are on their way, driving the nearly 800 miles to northern California for Leo's first birthday this Saturday.

They left at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday night and she called me from Wendover at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday to ask if I'd mind bringing her purse and a few other things out to her.  Jack, Jr and I picked up the purse and the half a dozen other things she'd forgotten and headed to Wendover.  Mom said she was starving when we got there so off we went to the buffet at one of the local casinos, and after a couple of hours, headed back east to home.

Fingers crossed that they'll be safe and have a good time together.  I know dad will be delighted to see the Californians and mom will have enjoyed the drive and getting out of the valley. 

But it was so hard to go to Wendover and then turn back for home.  Just sayin'.

Monday, October 14, 2013

valuable still

Do you ever have one of those days where you just feel worn out or old or maybe even useless?  Or maybe something not quite so harsh.  Well sometimes I do.  Not today, but sometimes. 

But yesterday I noticed these two things on my counter:

Now you might be wondering what a bunch of brown bananas and some dead roses have to do with anything, but it occurred to me that even though those bananas are brown, they will make some fine banana bread.  And even though the roses are somewhat spent, they are still quite lovely in their own way. 

Sometimes it doesn't take much to get me over the hump.

Friday, October 11, 2013

little cat

I have tried for years to get a good shot of this one.  She's tricky.  Little and shiny and black and beautiful, but also a bit skittish.  This is my best one yet.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

random stuff

Jr is getting serious about school.  He told me this is the first semester that he's been ahead on his homework.

A few minutes ago, Jr was leaning over my shoulder, moving my mouse, trying to find a blog post that he was sure I needed to see.  I was losing patience, just a little, not like seriously, just a little.  And without looking at him, I intended to give him a tiny little threatening fist in the air, not ever considering that he was leaning over my shoulder so closely that I might punch him in the forehead.  Uh.  Just really glad it wasn't his nose.  I don't need yet another son who won't let me forget giving him a bloody nose or two.

A couple of weeks ago, Jack thought it might be a fun idea to set up a fantasy football league and invite himself, me, Jr., Danielle, Stu, Wally (a childhood friend of Jack's), and Jack's brother, we'll call him Bob, to play.  We just finished up our second week.  Guess who is leading the league in points?  Yep.  Me.  (This is me trashtalking my leaguemates.)

I don't know which I think is funnier--Bob calling Jack at work yesterday to ask if I'm somehow cheating and that's why I'm leading, OR, Jr making his picks based on things like team colors, mascots, and always picking New Orleans to win because they speak French in New Orleans and the team logo is a fleur de lis.

Okay.  Well, probably enough for now.  I gotta go make this week's picks.  Rock on fantasy football.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

those plans of mine

Remember a month ago when I had that plan to go to the Provo house, clean like a mad woman, snag a bowflex and get that place rented?

Well.  Sometimes you can have a plan, with a list even, and still not get things done like you wanted them done.  Or maybe you can get things done eventually.  Which is the case with this plan and that list.

No, there was no bowflex for me.  But I got the place all tidied.  I thought I was ready to rent it, but then
there was that apparent tornado and remember that post about bricks nearly smacking me in the head? 

And there was the flooding of the bedrooms.

So of course, then we took that little sidetrip to Cali, which was, as always, pretty great for me.  Not so much for Jack since he had to come home early to tend to his mom.  That situation was a bit intense for a while but seems to have settled down for now, which is actually nothing to complain about but is instead a bit of a breather and something to be very grateful for.

But then, well, someone had to decide what to do about the flying bricks and collapsing chimneys and the flooded bedrooms.  So I decided.  (Well, not really all by myself at all since the Californians weighed in as did Jack.)  We hired a guy to cut in a drain in the concrete at the bottom of the stairs at the front door of the apartment.  (Check, no more flooding there.)  We hired a guy and his kid to repair the chimneys.  (Check, no more flying bricks or dampers and dang if they don't look quite fine again.)  Jr and I did some serious pruning of the neighbor's trees that had overgrown the roof.  (Check, back away trees, no more blowing around at our chimneys.)  I hired a company to replace the basement windows (Check, no more water flooding into the bedrooms) and picked out some new carpet that was installed earlier this week to replace the flooded carpets (Check.  So nice on the feet.  And the nose--yum new carpet smell.)  And in a couple of weeks, there will be new soffit and fascia and seamless rain gutters (Check, away with you rain, go out to the garden now!), which, along with the new windows, will make this a cozy, dry place to live, especially while walking barefooted on the new carpet. (Check.  Seriously.)

So this past few days has been the time to get new tenants.  Many people call, text, email.  Many say they will be at the apartment at various times on various days to see the awesomeness that is this apartment they highly desire. 

So, you might ask, then why do they not show up at the appointed time?  Or perhaps that is what I was asking after driving there again to wait for apparently no one.  Dorks.  That's what they are.  Inconsiderate dorks who do not deserve to live in this cozy soft to the foot place. 

But then yesterday and today, some of them arrived to see the place.  Let me just note that it is hard to be the one deciding who should get to live in this place.  Ultimately what I want from renters is twofold--pay the rent on time and take care of the place.  Period.

So.  Do I go with the one who has no work history?  Do I choose either of the ones who have three children?  How about the mom with the sons who won't stop chasing the ducks even after the mom asks them to stop three times?  Do I pick the one with the new puppy who hasn't peed in the house in like, six months?  Do I go with the almost married couple who doesn't want to sign a lease for another two weeks or the ones who want to wait six weeks?  Do I go with the guy and his sons who are hesitant to sign up for the electric service with the city?  See, everyone has a story and probably any of them would be okay or mostly okay, right?

I chose the two guys who have been contacting me for several days.  One of them has a service dog, an adorable pomeranian named Shellie who has been his companion for five years. Shellie is a well-behaved indoor dog who has absolutely no desire to chase the ducks.  Her owner and his friend have job and housing history and seem like they will take care of the place.

That's all I ask.  Although a bowflex would have been nice.

pretty nice chimney, right?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

the cause?

I've been thinking lately about just what causes the feeling of happiness for me.  It's simple things usually.  Singing along with a favorite song.  Time with my favorite people.  Cool mornings and warm afternoons.  A wagging tail.  Clumps of blossoms.  Leaves changing.

Tonight we had the first fire in the fireplace for this season.  I'd forgotten how much I like that feeling of warmth blowing on my chilled skin.  Yet another moment of happiness.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Have you ever found yourself feeling good, happy, for no apparent reason?

Yeah, well that's how I've been feeling of late.  Can't really explain it.  But really glad for it.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

random stuff from cali

Let's see.  I tried to lock myself out of the rental car this morning at Starbucks.  It's one of those fancy Nissans that doesn't need a key to start, as long as the fob is in the car someplace.  So I parked this morning, left the fob in the car (doh!) pushed the lock on the door, got out and shut it.  As I walked away, I heard an unfamiliar binging sound coming from somewhere near the car, but the car and I are not all that familiar with each other so I kept walking towards the Starbucks.  The line was nearly out the door and I just didn't want to wait that long so I turned back towards the car, reaching into the pocket in my purse where I keep car keys.  And that is when I realized I'd locked the key fob in the car.  Gah.  I pulled out my cell phone, trying to remember if I had a phone number for Enterprise Car Rental so I could call them to maybe start the car remotely since it has no keys but only remotes and hadn't I seen a commercial about Onstar being able to do that?  And that is when I realized what that binging noise was--the fancy Nissan was trying to tell me to please not lock the fob inside, please come back and rethink this, please understand when it didn't actually lock the door. 

Sweet car.

We headed to the beach today.  This is how going to the beach looks on me:

I spotted these two dead crabs next to this cigarette butt, which looked to me like a 'smoking kills' commercial.

Thirty years ago tonight, I went to bed late and woke up early realizing it was time to go give birth to someone who has turned out to be the best daughter ever.  She's the best.

california days

dancing girls

lots of carseat time

already learned to pose

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sunday, September 8, 2013

the best laid plans

I had such a plan yesterday.  Some of the day went exactly according to the plan. 

Sugar and I sailed, and I found treasure.  Once again the cosmos listened and complied:

This dog is so happy.  Maybe you can see her joy?  A couple dozen tennis balls for $2.  I gave her one and gave one to Gus, but she kept staring at the bag full of balls on the table, so I gave in and dumped the whole bag on the floor for her.  You can't see her tail, but it didn't stop wagging for hours.

Then I headed to the Provo house.  I cleaned the kitchen, the bathroom, the floors, the crunchy as well as still alive spiders.  I washed and dried the curtains and realized that for some reason the tenants took the bedroom curtains with them.  Jessie will need to make me some new ones.  It will probably take her about 20 seconds.  I painted the baseboards and spackled the nail holes, at least the ones I could.  Some of the nails didn't want to be pulled out, and who knows, they may be in the perfect place for any tenant to hang up pictures.  So they are staying.

I stopped to chat with the duck tenant on my way out.  She was telling me she had seen the rain gutters over the basement bedroom windows overflowing and she was concerned they might be causing flooding in the basement, when suddenly the wind picked up and before we realized what was happening, it was swirling around us in circles, whipping up bits of dirt and plants and who knows what else.  She spotted the damper from the top of the fireplace laying in her garden where the wind dropped it. 

I haven't been able to confirm it, but I think we were in a tiny little tornado right there in the front yard of the Provo house.  And then it started to rain.  Great big splatting drops that quickly soaked us both.  I told her I'd be back today and we could chat more then and ran to my car to leave. 

During those few moments of starting the car and fastening my seat belt, the rain filled the gutters in the street and it just kept on raining.  Hard.  As I pulled away, I thought about the basement getting flooded and knew I needed to go back and find something to divert the rain away from the basement bedroom windows, so I circled the block and parked back in front of the house.  Before I made it across the tiny lawn, I was soaked through, my hair dripping wet and plastered to my head, and still no sign of it easing up.  I tried to move a large board from the 'dry' side of the house around to the flooding side, but gave up when a brick from the chimney flew past my head and slammed into the ground.  The tenants offered to drag the board around the house to shield the window, which would also help divert the water into their garden.  I was grateful again for good, environmentally conscious tenants and hurried back to my car. 

Driving home in the downpour was intense.  And a little chilly in my wet clothes and hair.  Getting soaked, finding flooding in the basement, nearly getting clocked by a brick--not one of these were in my plan.

Jr and I went back today.  We trimmed the neighbor's overgrown trees that had knocked bricks off the chimney during the storm.  He cleared out the rain gutters that were full of dirt and debris.  We agreed to wait to clean carpets and finish tidying up in a few days.  And I need to find a chimney repair guy.

In a sorry turn of events, I realized that at some time in the past week, the former tenants had returned and claimed their Bowflex.  Damn.  Another snag in my plan.  I was so ready to be sleek and gracious.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

oh the things i'll do

I've been laying around a bit of late.  Perhaps not really just of late.  And not for any particular reason other than I think I've gotten a bit soft and perhaps a bit lazy.

But today.  Today I have plans.

In just a few hours I'll pick up Sugar and we will sail.  Yard sail.  We will put out into the cosmos the things we most need that we don't want to pay a lot for.  We will talk and laugh and find things we didn't even know existed and certainly didn't know we must have.  We will buy homemade treats from little kids.  We will stop somewhere when our money is nearly all spent and our energy levels are sagging and we will refresh ourselves with food and drink.  And then I will return her to her home with her new treasures and I will stop to drop off mine at my house.

Then I will fill my little car with cleaning supplies and spackle and paint and painting supplies and I will head to the Provo house where I will set out my radio and crank up the music.  I will pull out all of the picture-hanging nails and I will spackle and fill all of the holes in the walls.  I will dust and wipe and vacuum and scour away the dead spiders and dust and gunk.  I will clean the living room, the kitchen, the bedrooms, and the bathroom.  I will put on a fresh coat of paint wherever it is needed.  I will take down the dusty curtains, wash and dry them, and put them back up.  I will sweep and mop the tile floors and I will vacuum and clean carpets.  And when I am done, that little basement apartment will sparkle, and hopeful new tenants will come begging me to let them, please allow them to pay me for the honor of living in that adorable, cozy space.  And sometime in the next few days, after much consideration, I will chose one lucky tenant to live in and care for that space for a while.

And I will greet the four ducks who live out back and I will visit with the upstairs tenant for a few minutes or perhaps longer because she is really quite a delight and the ducks can be very entertaining.  And if the recently-departed downstairs tenants haven't come back for their Bowflex yet, I will move it from the side yard into my little car and it will become my latest treasure, one that will build up my muscles and strengthen and lean out my body, so that soon I will be sleek and gracious.

And then, I will gather my supplies and return home for an evening watching racing on the tellie.  And somehow, a good meal will appear, our bellies will be full, and I will smile at Jack and Jr and I will delight in my new treasures and I will be satisfied with my day's effort.

~~okay, wait, the Bowflex is probably gone by now.  And probably, even if it's still there, I won't be able to lift it or maybe even fit it into my little car.  And if I get it home, I'll have a hard time convincing Jack we need to set it up next to the treadmill and cardioglide that we currently use to hang clothes on in our bedroom.  And if we're being honest, this is probably too much to expect to accomplish in one day.  But it is a small apartment and I stopped there a couple of weeks ago so I have a pretty good idea about what needs to be done and I can be all kinds of efficient and speedy when called upon to do so.  And I could go back tomorrow if necessary.  But mostly, this is my blog and my dream for how this day will go perfectly and smoothly and how I will accomplish all that I am setting out to do, so just go with me on this, okay?~~

Monday, September 2, 2013

this girl

Overheard at my house this weekend:

Audrey (whispered to herself as she draws on the whiteboard):  It's so cool that I can draw fish that look scary and some of the boys in my class even are afraid of them.

Friday, August 30, 2013

this was weird

I am not the one in the hospital bed.  I'm the one who sits by the bed.  Or takes others to the hospital.  But I am never the one in the bed hearing the scary words.

At least not until this week.  First, remember that while they don't really know what happened, they assured me they had ruled out the really bad stuff.

So there's that.

It all started Wednesday night after work when, per our usual routine, Jack dropped me off by the sidewalk so I could walk the ten steps to the mailbox to bring in the mail.  Except this time, I walked five steps and felt this enormous weight and pressure on top of my shoulders, left side especially.  I was carrying an empty glass and a bottle of diet coke (of course) and my purse, and by the time I'd walked the other five steps to the mailbox, I thought I was going to drop all of them.  My mind wasn't very clear, but I decided to drop the bottle into the glass into my purse, which I did, but then my purse was so heavy I didn't think I could hold it with my left arm anymore.  So I tried to switch it to my right arm, but it was still too heavy so I dropped it to the ground.

This was not making any sense to me.  I remember thinking that my jacket felt too tight around my shoulders (but I wear that jacket all of the time and it fits just fine).  I thought I just needed to pick up the mail and go in the house.  But I wasn't strong enough to open the box.  This was weird.  So I tried to pull it open again and couldn't.  My arms felt heavy and weak and my whole body was close to collapse.

So I did the obvious and leaned my head on top of the mailbox.  Because that wouldn't be weird, right?

I stayed that way for a minute and then noticed the sound of a bicycle coming down the street.  I tried to say hello to the guy on the bike, but I couldn't focus enough to form the words.  I recognized that he looked puzzled, but I just couldn't say anything to him.  He rode on by and I went back to trying to open the mailbox.

After several attempts, I finally got the box open.  I reached inside only to discover that I wasn't strong enough to pull out the mail.  Probably because there was a letter package for Jr that contained a softcover book for school, but it took me several attempts to figure out that if I bent the package just a little bit, I could slide out the mail, which I did.  This all seemed to take a long time.

I took a couple of deep breaths and headed up the driveway into the house.  Once inside, I set the mail on the table, walked to the back door and let in the dogs, and then collapsed into my chair.  Jack asked about the mail, I told him it was junk and a book for Jr.  Then I told him I wasn't feeling well and described the events at the mailbox.  I decided I needed to lay down and remove my jacket and my bra because they were both too tight and I was feeling squeezed.

I headed into the bedroom, removed my jacket and laid down under the covers on our bed.  Jack wasn't far behind me.  He sat down on the edge of the bed and I could see the concern on his face as he looked at me.  He asked if I was okay, did I want to stay in bed, did I want something to eat?  I said yes.  He narrowed it down to something to eat and brought me a plate of leftovers that were still very tasty.  I changed into a nightgown and tried to rest.

After a bit, I headed back out to the kitchen with my empty plate (well, except for a couple of bites of sweet potatoes I thought he might like to finish up for me) and then sat back down in my chair.  Jack and Jr were talking together, and when the conversation paused, I said that I wasn't feeling well.  I had an achy pain in my jaw, my neck, my shoulder, and down my arm.  Jack got up and went immediately to the medicine cupboard and returned with four baby aspirin and water that he told me to swallow.  We then headed back into the bedroom where I changed out of my nightgown into yoga pants and a shirt and we headed to the hospital.

Let me just say right now that if you ever want to move directly to the front of the line at the ER, you just tell them you have pain in your jaw, shoulder, arm, and neck.  You will be instantly transported to a room where they will immediately attach devices to do an EKG or ECG and someone else will immediately start an IV and someone else will show up with an x-ray machine so they can x-ray your chest right there in your bed.  They will draw blood and listen to your heart and check your blood pressure.  Stat.  Then they will put a nitro glycerine pill under your tongue, which in my case, stopped the pain almost instantly.  There.  That's stat for you.

I told them all that this was getting very scary and they agreed that it was.

In a very short time, the ER doc arrived to tell me that my blood didn't show that I'd had a heart attack, although that could take 4-6 hours to see.  My EKG was normal.  This is all sounding good to me, like, maybe I'd just had a little hiccup and even though I'd never experienced anything like it before and it was really intense, I would be going right back home. 

Not so fast, missy.  The doc said they had done a test that would show if I had a blood clot in my lungs and it had come back positive.  So off to radiology for a ct scan, which showed no blood clot.  So that's good, right?

Again with the not so fast, missy.  It seems that when someone is apparently healthy like me and then suddenly has an episode like mine at the mailbox, they take it all very seriously.  It's one thing to have a gradually developing case of heart disease, but when you are under 65 and female and seem healthy, they worry about you having a sudden massive heart attack that kills you right on the spot.

Again scary.  I was having a hard time even processing what he was saying.  I mean, I'd heard those same kinds of things at the hospital with elderly relatives before.  But not when I was the one in the bed.  

So no going home for me that night.  Instead, they taped some nitro gel onto me (which they replaced a couple of times through the night) and were going to send me upstairs so they could monitor my heart all night, check blood pressure and heart rate, take and test more blood to see if the heart attack enzymes had appeared after all.  And also, by morning, I would be scheduled for a stress test and if I didn't pass that, I was headed for an angiogram.

This all seemed more than weird now.  I mean, I am healthy and thin and young.  Okay, at least healthy, right? 

Yes, but that's exactly what had them so concerned.  If I were his mother or daughter or sister or aunt, he'd admit them and do the stress test and so would the cardiologist he'd consulted with about me.

What.  Wait.  A cardiologist?  I'm not old enough for this stuff.  But it turns out I am.  So upstairs I went to the floor where they send you after you've been in the ICU. 

See, it could have been worse.  I wasn't going to the ICU.

They kept me up most of the night, asking questions, checking vitals, drawing blood.  They stuck all kinds of little pads onto me that they used to connect me to machines that monitored my heart.  Apparently there are several types of pads they use depending on what machine they're going to connect you to.  And the pads must match up with the machine. 

And they gave me tylenol for the headache that comes with the nitro gel and also to help with the headache that arrived the next morning when I couldn't have any diet coke.  Had to wait to eat or drink until after they decided whether or not I needed the angiogram.

All of the people I encountered there were very kind and very competent.  So there's that, which was really something.  Seriously.  It meant a lot to have kindness.

Mid-morning they took me in for the stress test.  It involved fancy x-rayish stuff and a treadmill and more fancy x-raying with radioactive stuff they injected into my IV.  Radioactivity?  Heck yes.  Hence my new super powers.  But wait, the guy who administered the radioactivity said the super powers would only last for six hours.  And I had had such grand plans. Again.  This was all so very weird.

But I was the boss of that stress test.  

Back I went to my room where the cardiologist came in to tell me I had not had a heart attack and I did not have a blood clot but he really didn't know what had happened.  He said that if I had a family history of heart attacks at an early age or if I'd been in the psych ward or something he'd be looking at this differently.

Wait. Psych ward?  Well, if we're going to go there, why yes, I did spend a week in the psych ward six years ago.  But what does that have to do with anything?  Turns out my old buddy anxiety can cause heart problems.  Now I don't know if we're talking genuine heart problems or the ones your mind causes just to mess with you, but they seemed more willing to let me go after I told them about my stay at UNI.  I really hate that I can't trust that physical pain in my body is caused by physical illness, that I have to wonder if it's just all in my head.  Especially when I haven't been feeling particularly stressed of late.

So weird.

What I didn't know until after I got home yesterday afternoon is that my mom's gramma and my mom's aunt both died of heart attacks before they were 65.  So I guess I'll have to mention that to the cardiologist when I see him in a couple of weeks for a follow up visit to see if that changes anything.  And yes, now I have an appointment with a cardiologist.  And I promised to come right back to the ER if I feel anything like that again.

This is all so very weird.  But fingers crossed, right?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

sometimes you just need cool water

Like today, for example.

I'm back in D.C.  Arlington, VA, actually.  This place brings out my bravery and adventurousness.

Today after my classes ended, I caught a cab back to my hotel, dropped off my stuff and then walked to the metro.  I figured out the right train to start my adventure and then changed trains and then walked to the Newseum, which is an awesome place to see lots of photos and videos and memorabilia from the past, all as captured by the press.  It was interesting and informative and memorable and, well, overwhelming and sad.  Lots of sad things have been documented from the past.  I could spend days there studying everything, but I'm not sure I could handle it all emotionally.  Some of the best moments in history, the times of great joy, came after so much suffering.  I'm thinking of the exhibit about the Berlin Wall.  So much suffering and then down it came.  The Newseum has several sections of the wall as well as a guard tower, videos, pictures, and other items.  It was powerful.

Less painful but still interesting is the viewing area on the sixth floor that looks out over Pennsylvania Avenue.  

It is very cool because there's a map that identifies all of the buildings you can see.

I wanted to go to the Supreme Court building to get a close up picture.  It didn't look that far away from the Newseum or from the Capitol Building, so after wandering around the Newseum for a while, I headed out towards the Capitol. 

With my dead cell phone.  So, kind of all on my own, right?  But I pressed on. 

Depth perception is a tricky thing.  Or maybe judging distances is the tricky thing.  Either way, the closer I got to the Capitol, the less I could see of the Court building.  And, because it is August and I'm in D.C., I'm getting hotter and sweatier because I'm used to 8% humidity and today it must have been about 80% humidity.  And of course, because it's hot and humid and I'm walking--yep, of course I'm getting another blister.  One on my right foot to match the one I got yesterday on my left foot.  Boo blisters.  I always see lots of people walking around in D.C. and I don't see any of them who look as hot and disheveled as I feel.  And nobody seems to be developing blisters.   

When I finally got to the Capitol Building, I couldn't see any sign of the Supreme Court Building, which was a little disappointing, but since my cell phone had died, it wasn't like I was going to take a picture on this trip.  I found a bench in the shade in front of the Capitol and sat down to study my paper map since Siri was napping. 

[Side note--this town has little parks everywhere.  Grassy, tree-covered places with statues and monuments and benches.  I like that.  A lot.] 

I decided I could go either direction in front of the Capitol and would end up at a metro station, so I started walking and quickly spotted a sign with an arrow directing me to the Union Station metro stop.  While I would never have guessed that building was a metro stop--it looked like it should have been the treasury building or had some other equally important government function going on inside--it didn't take long to realize it was a metro stop once I noticed the nearly constant stream of pedestrians all headed into it.  Lots of them, women especially, may have been wearing more appropriate walking shoes than I, but still I was completely amazed they didn't all join me in giving a dollar to the guy on the corner who was selling ice.cold.bottles of water.  He probably saved my life.  And he complimented me on my lovely purse.  I would have given him $5 for that water.  With or without the compliment.

[Side note 2--there is a lot of governmenting going on in this town.  While there are a lot of parks, there are way more buildings.  Important looking buildings.  The Treasury.  The FBI.  Art museums and more museums.  So.many.buildings.  So much government.  We live in a big country, so maybe we need a lot of government and a lot of buildings to govern from?  Or maybe it just seems like there's a lot of buildings when I'm walking so slowly.  Who can say, really?]

In yet another amazing bit of awesomeness, I got myself onto a train headed in the right direction, transferred to another train headed in the right direction, and walked myself back to my hotel after my train ride.  As I type this I wonder if anyone who isn't me can really appreciate the effort it takes to get on the right train, going in the right direction.  Especially in those big stations where there are trains coming and going in all different directions, upstairs and downstairs.  Seriously.  It takes me three days of riding the metro to finally start to understand that I have to get on the right side of the tracks to get to the train that's heading in the direction I need to go.  But first I have to determine which direction that is.  And then when I get into a station where all of the lines come through, it adds a whole new level of complexity.  Literally.  Upstairs or down?  Riding trains seems like it should be fairly straight forward, but I felt like I'd really accomplished something today by the time I got back to my hotel.   Which may have included some pleasure that even though I left the metro station in what I thought was the same exit I'd used all week, once outside I realized I was on a street I'd not seen on this trip and yet, I made it back to my hotel. 

I might not always walk in the most direct route to my destination, but I always make it eventually.  I see lots of new [to me] stuff since I can't seem to find the same street twice, but I'm getting used to that. 

It's nothing that a cool bath and room service [crab cake sandwich, sweet potato fries, caramel apple tart with ice cream] can't fix.  Right?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


This is the view out of my hotel window during the day this week:

 This is the view at night.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

for her

Eight years ago this Friday, my gramma died.  On my birthday.

We talked a lot over the years before she died.  One day I asked her what was her favorite flower.  She said she liked gladiola the best.  That seemed fitting.  Like her, they are gracious, beautiful, stately.   They bloom around my birthday, so when she died, the florist was able to put together a beautiful arrangement of pale pink gladiola for the top of her casket.  They matched her blouse.  I knew she would have liked them.

When it was time to design her headstone, I asked to have a gladiola etched onto it so there would always be one on her grave. 

The spring after she died, I bought dozens of gladiola and planted them around my gardens.  They were spectacular.  A fitting tribute for her.

Unfortunately, somehow I missed the direction about gladiola that says they need to be dug up after they bloom or they will freeze.  So the next year there were not dozens of beautiful gladiola in my gardens.

There was one.

Since then, there is always only one plant.  I suspect it survives because it is buried under a massive planting of an ornamental variegated grass.  Each year, it arrives just in time for my birthday.

I cut it and wrap the end in wet paper towel, slip the end into a baggie to keep it moist for as long as possible, and then I take it to the cemetery, to gramma.  And I am glad we talked about the flowers she liked.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

a couple of successful things

1.  After years of baking cookies from scratch, I have discovered a new way to make cookies speedy quick and not too bad because when do hot cookies from the oven not taste good, right?  Have you tried those Nestle Tollhouse refrigerator cookies?  Whoa.  Pretty much yummy and quick.  Perfect for baking while camping.  Who knew?  Who bakes cookies while camping?  Me.  Jack picked up some of that dough at the Walmart in Winnemucca (makes total sense, right?) and we baked them by the side of the Truckee River.  That, that is one of the benefits of camping in a trailer.  Oven usage.  Hot cookies.  Try it.  They are a nice interlude between evenings of s'mores.

2.  Rusty is learning his new tricks right on schedule.  He's been here for a couple of months and tonight for the first time, he caught a piece of pizza crust that I tossed to him.  Then one from Jack.  Then another from me.  Now that is rewarding.  A dog learning tricks.  No more food bouncing off his nose when we toss him table scraps.  Danielle will be so happy with us.  I'm sure.  And he comes to whatever name we call him:  Rustaman(me), Rustoleum, (Jack), Russell or Rustle (the drummer), RusRus (Jack).  And anything else that starts with a RRRRUUUUSSSS sound.  Next we'll work on teaching him to jump up on the furniture.  We are such smart pet owners.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

my dad

Visits with my dad of late seem to follow the same pattern.  I drop in.  He is asleep on the couch.  I sit down for a while.  He usually wakes up when I get up to leave.  His eyes open and blink a couple of times and then he forces himself to roll into a sitting upright position.  It takes a minute or more, but eventually he gets his feet on the floor and then he makes eye contact and smiles his broad, happy to see me smile.  He always has that smile when I visit him.

He asks how I am, I reply, ask how he is, he replies.  He always says he is good.

He asks about Jack, the kids, grandkids.  I tell him they are all good. 

Next he says he really misses Jessie and her family, those kids are so cute, do I think they'll ever move back, he guesses not because that's where the work is.  I agree with each of these statements as he says them.

Then he asks how I am.  How is Jack?  The kids?  Grandkids?  Next he says he really misses Jessie and her family, those kids are so cute, do I think they'll ever move back, he guesses not because that's where the work is.  I agree with each of these statements as he says them.

By now, he is more awake and asks what I've been doing lately.  Whatever I tell him about, he engages me in conversation.  He tells me stories from his childhood, his teens, his time in the Air Force during WWII.  He tells me about his mom, his siblings, his dad and other relatives.  He tells me about places he's been, adventures he's lived.  Sometimes they are stories I've heard all of my life, but often, they are new to me, yet warm and familiar to him.  Occasionally, he tells the same story that he's told me during previous visits, stories that might have some component of reality in them, but are partly fictional.  But not in his mind.  The story about the webcam at Shady Dell that shows the bear coming over the mountain every morning, crossing the river, eating his fill of berries and heading back over the mountain?  That one is as real as any other to him, though if we're being honest, it probably isn't very likely.  But really, what does it matter?  It is real to him.


Jack's mom called this morning.  Her mind seems to wander these days also.  This morning she told me a story I'd never heard before.  It took a while for me to birth Stuart.  It was a difficult, long delivery, all day and all night and immediately after he arrived, he was rushed to baby intensive care, while I was sent to recovery.  Jack's mom has often told me the story of arriving at the hospital and looking through the window of the baby intensive care unit, seeing her big man child in scrubs and a mask and hat, sitting in a rocking chair holding his tiny new baby boy.  She told me today that while she waited for Jack to come out to see her, my mom and dad arrived.  She will never forget my dad, exiting the elevator, looking around and asking, "where's my kid? where's my daughter?"


During our last visit, dad told me again about sitting every afternoon at 3:30 with his mother in their kitchen, drinking a cup of tea and how she would offer to read his tea leaves, tip his empty cup upside down into his saucer and then peer at them, pronouncing he had a long, happy life ahead of him.  I never saw that tea reading live, but I have heard him tell that story so many times it is as clear as anything in my mind.

Next he says he really misses Jessie and her family, those kids are so cute, do I think they'll ever move back, he guesses not because that's where the work is.  I agree with each of these statements as he says them.

He says he is ready for a nap and swings his legs up onto the couch and lays down again.  I tell him I'm leaving now, I love him, I'll see him again soon.  He says he loves me too, we kiss goodbye, and as I head towards the door, he calls out, "be careful crossing the street and don't eat any green apples."  Just like when I was a kid.

Friday, August 9, 2013

sleep business

Sleep may be overrated.  Or maybe it's remembering things that is overrated.

I don't know for sure.  I do know that my docs told me for years that I needed to make sure I was getting a good night's sleep if I wanted to stay away from the darkness that was occupying my days.  The recommendation was simple--take an ambien every night.  That will help you get a good night's sleep.

And I have.  Off and on.  Mostly on lately.  But the thing about ambien, at least for me, is that after I've taken it for a while, I start losing my memory.  And my ability to remember stuff.  All kinds of stuff.  And recently, the ambien-induced sleep hasn't been all that good either.

So I decided to quit the ambien.  Mind you, I thought about it for a while.  And then a week ago, I took 1/2 a pill one night and none since.  It was an interesting journey to now.

The first night with no ambien, I was awake until 5:30 a.m.  My mind could not stop talking.  All night.  It was total chaos.  It was like my mind had been silenced during the night for so long that it had a lot of catching up to do.  I tossed and turned and my mind just kept talking.  I was exhausted by 5:30, but luckily it was an off-Friday, so I stayed in bed for a few hours and then took a 10-minute nap mid-afternoon and got through that day.

Friday night wasn't much different.  Constant, non-stop chatter in my mind.  I remembered reading Jill Bolte Taylor's book about a stroke she suffered--she's a brain doctor, so when it started, she realized what was happening and began observing her brain.  She later wrote that it was so obvious whenever the left side of her brain stopped functioning because the brain chatter would stop and the right side of her brain would take over, the side that is creative and emotional.  That is what I noticed on Friday night, the brain chatter wouldn't stop.  There was music in the background all night, songs I only know some of the lyrics to, which only added to the chaos.  Around 5:00, I finally slept for another couple of hours and then got up for the day.

Saturday night was slightly different.  This time there was some organization to the chatter.  It was almost like a dream, with lots of talking in my head.  I had to write a paper for work, I had a due date and time, but I couldn't remember how to link the footnotes to the quotes in the paper.  This was not a pleasant dream, but it wasn't really a nightmare, just more of the chatter.

Sunday night, the chatter started again.  But I knew I needed to rest because I had several things to attend to on Monday at work.  I remembered when I was younger and couldn't sleep that I would lay down on a blanket on the floor and that feeling of solid floor below me seemed to help me relax and sleep.  So I got out of the bed and lay down beside it with an old flannel quilt.  I remember looking up to see each dog, at different times in the night, peering over the edge of the bed at me, confused, concerned, and I wondered if each of them wouldn't be jumping down on me at some point.  But they didn't.  And I slept for four hours before rising and heading into work.

On Monday night, I went to bed, lay my head on the pillow, and drifted off to sleep.  There was no chatter.  There was a dream, but I don't remember it because it ended when the dogs woke me asking to go out at 4:00.  Jack got up and let them out and I was back asleep before he came back to bed.  And I slept.  Deeply.  Soundly.

I felt like singing when I woke up on Tuesday morning.  Something to that tune in Oliver!--Sleeeeep, glorious Sleeeeeep!!!!  It was delicious.  It was marvelous.  I felt whole and alert and available.

 Every morning since then, I wake up looking like this.  Or maybe with crazy hair.  But I'm sleeping.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

campin' in cali

Sandy beach.  Tall evergreens.  Huge lake.  Perfect sunshiny, cool breezy weather.
All of the grandkids.  Seeing Stu and Jessie together again.  Seriously great vacation.
 He is the boss of fire starting.
 Longest kiss ever.
 They were either all together in the trailer.
Or all together outside with sticks, rocks, dirt, and awesome imaginations.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

yard party

It is quiet in the gardens this morning.  Mostly.  If I close my eyes, I can hear the hum of the fridge, the little cat scratching her claws on the carpet on the stairs, JoJo whistling and begging while peering through the windows of the deck door.  I could go open the door so she and Gus can run in and out at will, but that means the big cat can no longer lay stretched out on the cool kitchen floor and the little cat will disappear, back on alert, already gone looking for hiding places downstairs.

When I look outside from my chair, I can see something large and buzzy, flying back and forth across the yard.  Not sure if it's a humming bird or maybe some superbee.

I note that the windows JoJo looks through need a serious cleaning.  Many dog nose-prints and tongue-licks there that don't particularly trouble me but might bother the guests later today.

Jack and Jr and I spent most of yesterday out in the yard, pruning, weeding, mowing, edging, raking, and then hauling to the landfill.  The gardens look much tidier, but I distinctly remember thinking several times that I didn't know why we had to do all of this in one day--one very hot day--when it's only family who is coming today.  They're family, for heavens sake. 

But it does all look much nicer and I couldn't have done it all myself.  Those two can work so hard.

Even the flower pots on the deck, which looked so cheerful earlier this summer, but have suffered from the heat and perhaps some insect infestations--now look happy again after I removed a few dead bits and added a few more colorful live ones.

I'll clean up those windows and then Jr and I will go to the grocery store to pick up the last few items needed for the meal, and if we're lucky, the farmers' market will be open with fresh cherries or corn or little tomatoes to add to the table.  Probably too early for local watermelon, but we'll pick up one somewhere and settle it into the big metal tub with the sodas and ice and water to cool them all.

We'll toss together a big potato salad and bake a big pot of beans, and when Stu arrives, we'll skewer the meat and veggies for grilling.  And if we are lucky enough to find fresh local corn, we'll husk it and cook it quickly and slather it in butter and salt and pepper.

And then I'll sit back and watch, hopeful that everyone will enjoy the food and the conversation and the company.  If I remember, I'll snap pictures of people smiling and laughing and talking and swimming and pondering.  Mostly feeling satisfied and welcome. 

And after the food is gone and the conversation is over, I will sit back and sigh, quietly contented that those who came enjoyed themselves and those who didn't or couldn't were missed, but we did the best we could, the food was good, and the kids had fun.

Friday, July 19, 2013

happy 1000 to me

This is my post number 1,000.    That is a lot of words.  And pictures.

And what better for this special post than pictures of a huge pile of daisies from my gardens, right?  These were growing out front in the courtyard until the night before last when a monster Florida-style rainstorm hit and all of the water on the roof overflowed the rain gutters and poured onto the daisies and knocked them down.  Poor dears.

But look at how happy they are now, snuggled together in a pail on the deck out back.  If it weren't my off-Friday, I would never have thought to go out and cut them off and put them in the pail.  They would have laid on themselves in the heat of the courtyard and withered away.  So sad.  

This, this is a perfect example of why I need more off days, right?

And this is a shot of my view this morning from my chair in the dining/family room.  
Yet another reason why I need more off days, right?