Tuesday, December 27, 2005

What Snoo?

Back to work and groggy with sugar overload of the past several, well, weeks, honestly. Pity the patients. While I await the rooming of poor tragic souls coming to me to fix their ills, I will natter on about the ME things in my life. New ME things.

1) Cut ME hair the other day. For years and years, actually a couple of decades, my hair has been the same basic style, with a bit of spiral perm in the 80's or a bit longer after the kid in the late 90's. Bangs in the front, straight in back. But now, where it was long and straight to the mid shoulder blades, it is now layered and wavy and to the bottom of the collar! Ok, ok. Still the same basic style. Still with bangs. The Crosby Stills and Nash song, "Almost Cut My Hair" keeps playing in my head. (I think it is a CSN song but can't find it on the lyrics search site I use.) Look up "dull" in Webster's and find ME.

2) ME Dad has ended up back in the hospital on Christmas night, the old coot. Note to people: If one of your legs becomes painful and swollen and you have been doing not much of anything but sit on your duff because of all the falling from 2 stories and landing on your noggin on the cement driveway and spending a couple of days in the ICU, it is probably NOT your hamstring but a blood clot in your leg. A bloody blood clot that can break off and head upstream to your lungs and snuff out your life like a kid stepping on a bug. Look up "cat in a former life" in Webster's and find my Dad. Sadly, he is rapidly running out of the 9 lives he has apparently been bequeathed. So now he is hanging out in a hospital bed for the next several days, having blood thinners dripped in and blood sucked out. Fortunately, he is able to have the blood thinners as the BLEEDING in his brain from said fall, has not recurred.

3) Had ME a lovely little Christmas otherwise. I ate food that was bad for me, successfully cooked duck with pinot noir wild mushroom medley, and played with the small-handed and furry ones. The new digital camera came in time, so pictures could be taken for Dads-who-fall-and-clot. Life is too short to wait for cameras and pictures.

4) Learned that a kitten makes it challenging for ME to wrap presents, what with all the attacking of the paper and grabbing of the ribbons and actually diving over and over into the large, tall bag of stick-on bows. I didn't have the camera handy and was becoming rather cross, which was a pity because the shots I missed of the small kitten among the bows was alarmingly cute and I wish I could have inflicted such on you.

5) Instead, I did have the camera for our Christmas Eve day building of the snowman, so I got pictures of ME puppy in the snow. Apparently love of snow is universal among German Shepherds, at least in my "n of 3" study. See them here, if you feel like it. The snowman, himself, seems to have developed a stroke and is listing to the left, having developed a dense left hemiparesis and left facial droop. Looks like he could benefit from some blood thinners, too.

So,what snoo with you?


Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas

Pictures for you, originally uploaded by DianaP.

A wish for you, all I hold dear, that this holiday be filled with joy, love, warmth, peace, plenty and all your favorite traditions.

Me? I have a kitten climbing up my leg and a puppy sleeping on my foot, chocolate in my belly and the anticipation of cooking a duck for dinner, having never made or eaten one.


Monday, December 19, 2005

Your Show of Shows

A lovely holiday season to all of yous.

Here in the land o' Piffle, things have been busy. Kid-busy. Colin-busy, mostly.

As those with school-aged kids know, December is when that time honored tradition of The Big School Christmas Extravaganza is held. Actually, I think in most places now, it is known as "Holiday" or "Winter" rather than "Christmas", but here in small-village Wisconsin, we do not pander to those with other traditions. It is All Christmas, All The Time.

As Charles was coming back from a Really Big, Important meeting in Chicago (where he won an appeal before the state board of education, all applaud my amazing and brilliant husband) and was meeting us there, it was up to me to get small-handed people to the school on time. Colin, dressed in dress pants that were falling down, despite the belt, and clean sweater. Sara dressed in anything unstained. Me in matching shoes. (It's a Christmas Miracle!)

We arrived on time, having had to wade through the snow in the school parking lot, but happy to find a space, back behind the buses. We ditched Colin in his classroom and slipped along the snow-puddly hallways to the gym (of course it is held in the gym) and a spot on the bleachers.

The lights drop and the music teacher starts banging out strains of the kindergarteners' first song "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth" on the ubiquitous upright school piano. This is followed by "Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer" and the token bow to those of another faith: "The Dreidel Song". All shouted, rather than sung, by the 5-year-olds.

And so it goes, for an hour. Herds of girls in velveteen and maryjanes, boys in sweaters or shirts and ties. As the grades progress, there is more singing than shouting. Accompanying hand gestures give way to dancing: Turkey Tango and something trying to be traditional Irish dancing, I think, are the ones that stick out. Then, the pointsettia raffle while all the kids troop back in to sing the finale song (something about Christmas around the world, with different kids calling out "Merry Christmas!" in different languages, while others held up construction paper flags). The whole thing ended by singing the official school song, set to, I realize in horror, the music of "It's A Small World, After All." Charles arrives half-way through, like the cavalry, and skootles Sara, who has had enough of cute kids butchering bad songs and bleachers and sitting still, to the hallway.

Back to the classroom to retrieve Colin, who proudly bears the centerpiece he has made, a ceramic creation that seems to be a snowman with an ent. It is glorious.

Now, I am sure you are all on the edges of your seats wondering how Colin's big birthday party came off.

Well, just swimmingly, I must say. I employed my decorating trick of streamers, streamers, and, oh, yes, streamers. Instead of balloons, (gasp) streamers were tied to the mailbox and the basketball hoop, looking almost completely unlike the prayer flags of Tibet. I said a few prayers, then, as 4 of the 6 boys who were officially invited, came.

They were polite and enthusiastic. We first we filled them full of pizza and pop, while they had a very serious and intense discussion about various scenes from the 6 Star Wars movies, which they can all quote from verbatim. As Charles said, "It's like a business lunch, but different." Then, we ran them downstairs while Colin opened his pile of Star Wars loot, and then chased them upstairs, filling them full of what Charles and I agreed was the very worst birthday cake in the world. The chocolate of the cake was completely without flavor and the icing tasted of chemicals and had the consistency of Cool Whip. It also had Yoda on top, which was supposed to talk but remained perversely mute when the stand was pushed. The kids loved it. We even had a choice of ice cream: Traditional Vanilla or Blue Moon, which was neon blue and tasted vaguely of sweet with a hint of Hawaiian Punch. You can guess which was the most popular flavor. Before the cake, we whipped them into a frenzy with the treasure hunt. Then, while I dealt with the carnage, Charles shepherded them downstairs to play multi-player video games while we waited for the parents to come and take their sugar-hyped kids home. Payback's a bitch, huh?

While sitting at the counter, watching my son and his friends at the table, I had this intense flash-forward to ten years from now, to his 17th birthday. I hope his friends of the future are as nice. I also know that we will need more than 3 large pizzas and a cake that will feed 24. I am glad we are raising our kids here.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Furry ones

Pictures for you, originally uploaded by DianaP.

May I introduce Molly-pup and Madison-kitty. They are very pleased to meet you and promise much in the way of hijinks in the future.

Also, they want to say, "Goooo Ducks!"



Oh, let's just get some more of the sad out here, shall we? I have been thinking about writing this for an awfully long time.

I first met her the first day of 5th grade. I was a new civilian kid, in yet another school, having lived the Air Force life until now. My dad had decided to trade in his captain's uniform and endless transfers for a new career and a mortgage. I was scared, but this was nothing new. I was always scared the first day of a new school and always barfed. I was shy, quiet, with glasses and long, straight brown hair. No one talked to me and only looked at me out of the corner of their eyes that first day.

Except her.

She smiled at me. I asked if she was new, too, and she laughed her loud, free, raucous laugh, as she had gone to that school her entire life; a five year veteran. She sat with me at lunch and played with me at recess. Two odd-balls who became very best friends.

I walked an extra 1/2 mile to wait at her bus stop before we were able to drive ourselves to school. Her bus stop was more fun than mine and I liked the walk. We hung out at the little strip of beach by the Willamette river below her house in summer, until the river became so polluted that one summer that we sank in muck above our knees and bumped into dead carp floating on the surface as we inner tubed. Thank you so very much, Ronald Reagan and your cronies, for your gutting of the environmental laws.

She was hilarious and wanted to be a journalist, which eventually, she did. I saved many of her notes that we passed in school, in the halls, as we never had our classes together after 5th grade. Her writing was that good, even then. I later saved her letters sent from college, she in her small liberal arts school in Washington, me in my small liberal arts school in Oregon.

We both ran. Lots. Track, cross-country, and (because we were used to taking the activity bus after school and it became our social life, with the other distance running nerds), we also ran through the winter. Summers, we ran mostly on our own, as she preferred to do so in the evenings after her job as a life guard. I preferred in the very early mornings, before I was conscious and could think of an excuse. We spent our New Years' Eves together and, of course, our birthdays. A party of 3, with our mutual friend, Denise. The endless talking, giggling.

She called my dad, "Dad". Not to lessen her bond with her own father, but to share in the closeness with my own dad.

She was never mean. She was always laughing. Her voice squeaky and her hair in a tight curly perm of the early 80's. She never griped. She never gave up. Not a beauty queen, she was extremely well liked and was voted "princess" for some dance or other our senior year, complete with tiara. (I was just the teensy bit jealous. Of the tiara, not the princess thing.)

Even when we were too busy with school and life, we were connected, even if we didn't hear from each other for months.

She got engaged around the time I did, to this really great guy, who went on to play pro basketball in Europe. Shauna was about 18 inches shorter than he was. She had to stand on a picnic bench to look him in the eye.


"Does Shauna live in _______?" asked Dad, waking me a bit before the alarm that Monday morning 18 years ago.

"Yeah. Why?"

The radio news told the story of a woman with her name, from the small town she was living in while working for a newspaper in a slightly less small town. She had been killed in a car accident late the night before.

The floor fell out of my life.

I don't really remember that week, except I couldn't seem to stop crying and crying. I did not go to class. I never missed class. I remember the service and singing her favorite songs. I remember the hug I gave her fiance, knowing I'd never see him again.

I learned from her family that, as she had been driving home from dinner with her fiance, she had been hit head-on by an oncoming car who had somehow gotten in the wrong lane on the freeway. He was elderly and apparently had gotten confused. No alcohol involved. She was belted. The car ahead of her had been able to swerve out of the way, just barely, but Shauna didn't have time. It was over instantly, so they said. I cling to that.

Gradually, over a few years, I was able to think of her without bursting into tears. Several more years and I can remember her with impunity. It no longer hurts to do so. I am sad that I no longer wake in the morning wondering why the hell I haven't spoken to her in a while, before remembering. I hate all she has missed in life. I hate all I haven't missed and can't laugh over with her.

I realize after writing this that she probably would have blogged.

Which means you all would probably have "known" her, too.


Monday, December 12, 2005

Weekend Update

It is Monday morning and I need a nap from this weekend's antics.

Let's start with dear ol' Dad, shall we?

The news is good, for once. He has been released from the hospital, after a total of 2 CT scans and an MRI of his noggin. He is now taking nourishment without giving it back and on thumping good painkillers. He is home, driving poor Cathy crazy, as the man refuses to admit he can't do every-damn-thing by himself. Sadly, his glasses, his only pair, were deconstructed, forcibly, by the fall and the concrete and all, so, while a good friend managed to unmangle and tape what he could, they are a far cry from being as much help as they could be. Speaking as someone terribly near-sighted, I think it will be a long, aggravating stretch before he can get himself to the eye doctor and a replacement set. Still, we are so very thankful.

What would have taken top billing (had fathers not taken falls onto driveways and ended up in the trauma center), the arrival of the furry ones, happened on Saturday. We feel as though we have two new toddlers in the house. One toddler, fortunately, is litter box broken. The second toddler is rapidly learning the great-outdoors-as-a-toilet way of life, after spending her first 7 weeks of life in a large room covered in layers of newspapers for free-form waste excretion. (Can we say "P-U! Stinko!" Oh, yes, we can.)

We waited a whole hour between getting them home and traumatizing them by throwing them in the sink and scrubbing them clean. I am glad to announce that they now smell nicely of baby shampoo and additive-free pet food and not feces and pee. To the pup, I am sure, this is not an improvement, but the kit seemed most appreciative, once she got over the initial horror of being wet all over and then rubbed dry. I am appreciative as I can now rub my nose on their heads and pet their baby-fuzz-covered selves and not have to go wash the grime off my hands.

Now, let's talk personality.

Oh, yes, we have personality. One (ahem) kept her sweet, calm demeanor. One (ahem) tricked us into thinking she was this sweet, docile thing but now shows her true colors of not liking that whole submissive thing. Clearly, she saw us for what we were: A pair of softies, who would dote on the tailed members of the family, letting them sleep next to or on them, having good eats and a large yard in which to romp and sniff.

Madison-kitty is an absolute cuddling fiend. She will follow you around and, if you are not in her line of sight, say when she wakes from her nap under the couch (safe, yet in the mix of things, as you wouldn't oblige her by doing the nice thing and laying on the couch and having a nice long nap, yourself, not that she'd hold it against you, no, for she looooooves yoooooou), she will cry with breaking heart until you come and scoop her up. She purrs so violently I seriously thought she was having seizures. (Yes, it's been 6 years since we had a cat, but still, the total body rigors with her purrs, sheesh!) She is scrawny and playful and dainty. She will even let Sara pet her, oh-so-gently, if I am holding her. Otherwise, she watches Sara from under the couch, as Sara, on her belly looking under, cajoles her with, "Hi Kitty! It's me! Sara!" Clearly Sara feels that if only Kitty knew it was her, Sara, and not, say a maurading wolf, Kitty would run out from under the couch and into her arms. Clearly Kitty feels that being assured that it is "Me, Sara!" is in no way a reassuring thing.

Molly-Pup is adorable, of course, as she is a 7 week old puppy and what puppy is not completely adorable? She is not docile. She does NOT like to be held on her back. She does NOT like to submit to being held gently down. For those who have not had strongly dominant, pack dogs, like German Shepherds, it is vital to assert your dominance from puppyhood, otherwise, they will continuously try to take leadership of the pack from you. You will then spend your days fending off a coup d'etat. This does not lead to peaceful slumber. In short, our sweet beta dog is actually an alpha. We have also fallen in love with her, so do not even entertain thoughts of trading her in. Plus, we have had a previous alpha female, our beloved Maia. Once you set the dominance hierarchy, things run well. You just must show no weakness. Ever.

So, that is the state of affairs in the House O' Piffle. Much to be thankful for, not the least of which is a bit of time off in a couple of weeks. I anticipate much napping with a small fuzzy being or two on chest or lap.

Ho! Ho! Ho!

(PS: Got a few pictures and will post soon, just need to get them loaded on to flickr. Sadly, camera is also officially dead.)


Friday, December 09, 2005

Guess Hard-Headedness Runs In The Family

I'm still blinking, trying to, er, "process", I think is the psychobabble term.

You all know my Dad, right?

The "Ole RFer".

He comments lots.

My whole family knows about the blog. Hell, I started the damn thing with them in mind, mostly. Remember me? Lazy. Sending an e-mail to various and sundry was a bit more than I seemed to get around to, so el blog seemed both a great communication tool as well as a way to connect to other as yet unknown friends. And so it worked. Swimmingly. And the others connected with my various and sundry and now it seems like a virtual basement with bar and foosball table and ping pong. Beanbag chairs in the corners. Us chatting.

Got a call from my beloved step-mom, Cathy, a bit ago.

I am blessed, you see. When my parents split, it was with, well, on my part, no remembered hostility. They both found partners who loved them, who they loved, and who loved their kids. I consider myself to have 4 parents and use the "step" moniker only to relieve confusion.


The call.

We don't talk on the phone. None of the "us" I am close to. None of us really likes to chatter on the phone as far as I am aware. We are more face-to-face folks. Or e-mail. We do love our e-mail. When I lived in Portland, within miles of all of my parents, I still e-mailed much more than phoned.

A phone call is like a telegram of 60 years ago.

Bad, urgent news.

So. Cathy calls.

I am afraid I am not my usual warm person as she launches into the news. I am too busy trying to think of another Cathy who I might possibly know who would call on a Friday night. Trying to avoid the obvious: Bad news.

It seems my darling, adored Dad had a fall. A fall from a ladder, where he was brushing leaves from the roof gutter, landing on the concrete driveway. On his head.

He is alive. He seems to have, with the information we have thus far, in the first several hours, escaped with more than his share of fortune. Thank you Merciful God. (What? Just because I don't go to church, you think I am not religious? I am quite religious, I just don't care for the religion that I see, by and large. Waaaay too much of the judging and waaaay too little of the genuine love.)

Poor Cathy found him on the concrete drive, on his right side, unconscious, much blood. They were going to Lifeflight him the distance to OHSU, the local (and best) trauma center (and my alma mater, thankyouverymuch) but decided he was stable enough to go via ambulance.

To run down what Cathy was able to pass on: He has a small subarachnoid hematoma (small bleed between the pia mater, which covers the brain and spinal cord, and the dura mater, the tough cover on the outside of the brain and cord. (He is sure to have a hell of a headache, my dear, old dad, as the subarachnoid has all the pain fibers. Just what one wants on top of a concussion.) He regained consciousness and does remember being on the ladder. He also is oriented to other particulars (date, person, etc). He knows Cathy. He is concerned enough to send her home to eat and sleep. (Yeah, right. She will do her best, but she adores him.) He has two massive black eyes. He swallowed a fair amount of blood, but seems to have no further bleeding. He is moving all four extremities and his vision is intact. He is in the ICU and will have another one or two CT scans over the next day or so.

It goes without saying that we could use your good thoughts at this point.

He is extremely strong. Hell, the man runs, does aerobics and yoga, lifts weights and I don't know what else. Yes, he kayaks (although his shoulder was bugging him a bit, so he couldn't do so on their recent excursion). He and I are also way too similar, and would happily spend our afternoons (and/or mornings) with a book and a pot of tea or a drop of something, depending on the time of day. Cats in a previous life.

I know he'd love to hear from you, when he is able to focus on a computer screen, again, so feel free to send a bit of cheer via the comments. (Or the odd scolding for causing his daughter such concern, the selfish ol' coot). We are that sort.

By the way. He is and has always been my #1 fan, driving to cross-country meets in bleak, achy-cold and drizzly November, over an hour away for 6 years running. Plus 9 seasons of track. I don't think he missed a single meet.

Please, God, let this be the worst. He really is the best of all dads.

Cathy could use a spare bit of hug, too.

I'll let you know as I know.

He is part of our little group.



We of the Upper Midwest are tough. Hardy. Doughty. We laugh at snow and bitter cold. We laugh at heat and humidity. We wave our hands dismissively at storms and such.

Apparently, this is an act.

Over the last 24 hours, we've gotten about 4" of snow. Big whoop. All this means is that I'll need to shovel in a bit so Brown Santa can reach the door without chance of slippage on the walk. Don't want him to drop those boxes.

The temperature as I scooted Colin out for the bus this morning was a relatively balmy 9 degrees F. (Hey, that's 15 degrees higher than it was running the first half of the week.) Charles had headed off to school a couple of hours earlier and hadn't called with any dire concerns.

20 minutes past bus time, Colin still hasn't been picked up. I am puzzled. And disgruntled. Resigned, I call the school, figuring the bus has been missed, which makes no sense as he was out on time and I had been watching. I leave a message on the school's voice mail that I was bringing him in after I got the rest of us ready, and hopped in the shower.

You know, of course, what happened next. You are all so wise and would have instantly turned on the radio or the TV or checked the website or called the neighbor. Instead, the nice school secretary called me and told me of the *smack* 2 hour delay *slap*.


It just really never occurred to me.

This is Wisconsin. Not Portland.


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Busy With The Waiting

Nothing going on here, folks. Nothing at all. Just doing the basic holiday stuff of tree, wrapping the stuff for the kids, and shooing the small-handed away from pulling the decorations down in their zeal to examine it all, up close and personal. Made a lot of breakfasty bread for the freezer. Contemplating the cookie scene.

Mostly awaiting the furry ones who will come home Saturday. Something like 76 hours from now. All awaits.

And speaking of waiting, If you haven't wished Babs some rousing good luck for tomorrow, as she takes the big plunge and joins the Polygrip Nation, please do so. Her harrowing saga of the road to having those traitorous teeth removed will raise your neck hairs: Dodging near-death escapades on the table! Leaping hurdle after hurdle thrown up by the trolls from the State of New York! And not having had a salad for over a year! Yet still, she keeps her wicked, twisted sense of humor. All is far from certain, though, except for the certainty of further head-smacking.

She deserves better but clearly won't get it.

Anyway, go wish her luck, (not that it'll do any good, mind you), but what else can one do from the internet? Here's hoping that in 24 hours, she is toothless and pumped full of really great pain killers.

And that Brad Pitt and Colin Firth are her home nurses. Because if anyone deserves that, it is Babs.

Labels: ,

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Oh, What The Hell; Not Like I've Got Anything Else To Say

I'm not sure how far back to reference things, but Dana is to blame, in my (or her) Universe, in which she is Queen:

" 'Okay, I found this at Blond Girl's blog and thought it was cute. Plus, I've been kind at a loss for things to write about and this really helps. Here's what she had to say:

"OK, this is NOT a meme, but it is a game you get to play with me. I got it over at Geekwif's place. Here goes: If you read this, if your eyes are passing over this right now, (even if we don't speak often) please post a comment here on my blog with a COMPLETELY MADE UP AND FICTIONAL memory of you and me. It can be anything you want - good or bad - BUT IT HAS TO BE FAKE. When you're finished leaving your comment, post this little paragraph on your blog and be surprised (or mortified) about what people DON'T ACTUALLY remember about you.I think this will be fun for all; like a bowl of Skittles and M&M's mixed; a color and a flavor for everyone! "

I thought it looked like fun. Anyone up for some fake memories? Although I'm not sure about the Skittles and M&M's mixed. That's just a little weird.' "

So, entertain me.


Otherwise, I shall have to go get things done, and we can't have that.


Friday, December 02, 2005


I want this written down in a ledger somewhere; I want credit for it.

I have proof that I do not suck as a mother:

Today, I went shopping and bought packages of socks for both kids.

I resisted the urge and did not wrap them up for Christmas to put under the tree.

As I knew I was weakening, I will admit that I quickly opened the packages and threw every last mother lovin' pair in the washer, but that is beside the point.

My kids may be able to say a lot of things against me but getting socks and underwear for Christmas will not be one of them.

So far.

Note: Actually, I probably would have done so but Charles put it in our marriage vows that no future offspring were to receive underwear for a present. Maybe I am not as good as I try to proclaim.

The fact that I am re-wrapping some things that Sara got last year and didn't un-box won't count against me, right? Because if it does, that little carnival playset that she is seen opening in the '04 Christmas video is just an illusion. Really. She got it this year, not last.

Labels: ,