Seeing Rainbows

Life isn’t sacred.

Life is precious and wonderful. It can be tedious or exciting. Life, as Glennon Melton Doyle says, is brutal and beautiful… brutiful. But life isn’t sacred. Sacred means holy, set aside, reverently dedicated to some person, purpose, or object.  I’m not saying that life can’t be those things, but general everyday life doesn’t qualify as sacred. However, there are moments in one’s life that are sacred. Birth, when a baby takes its first breath, causes those present to catch and hold their own breaths, waiting for that first cry as air fills the infant’s lungs. Death is also one of those sacred moments; being present as someone takes a final breath is a holy experience and a sacred honor – one which I count myself blessed to have witnessed.

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My husband and I discussed some of this a few weeks ago as he prepared to undergo an angiogram. We were filling out paperwork for his Advance Directive in the event things went horribly wrong. He didn’t want to have life indefinitely prolonged via medical support if there was no hope of recovery. We did the hard work of discussing how long I should wait for him to come out of a coma or allow him to be on life support, should those things be in our immediate future.

We experienced sacred moments yesterday. It was a beautiful morning: the smoke was finally clearing from our skies. I wanted to visit friends who were camping in a lovely Riverside spot before they left to journey home, so SuperDad and Moses and I drove the short distance to the state park. I walked the first half-mile with them, smiling at how happy our dog was to be sniffing everything. We parted on the bridge; man and beast continued on their favorite hike together while I returned to where my friends were camped. About 30 minutes later, when I was expecting their return to us, SD called to say the dog was having trouble breathing (this was not terribly uncommon and usually righted itself within minutes) so they were resting before moving on. Ten minutes later, a second call let me know that Moses wasn’t recovering well at all, and could I get a cart to meet them? My friend J and I asked the camp host if there was a cart available but she did not have one, so we drove to my house for our folding wagon, quickly returning to the park with it.  We met SD and the dog on the trail: Moses had slipped into a coma. We gently moved him to a blanket and lifted him into the cart. The trail back was rocky and uneven, and the decision was made for SD to go retrieve the car while J and I walked with the wagon along a smoother path until we could all meet up. At a stopping point in the shade, J reached down and pet the dog; she noted that his heart was beating quickly. By the time I reached down to feel his chest, Moses’ heart had stopped. There was no trauma, no misery – just a quiet ending. He was having a joy-filled morning, walking on one of his favorite paths in the woods until with a final wag of his tail, he laid down to rest. SuperDad was there to give him water and keep him company. When Moses took his final breath, he had a loving hand placed comfortingly on him.

Death is sacred, and in those important, holy moments of yesterday, there were people to bear witness to it. Aside from the fact that he was a 14-year-old Labrador retriever – that makes him the human equivalent of 98 years of age, so clearly his time had come – I think that is why I am so at peace with his passing: he was ushered out of this life with loving hands. Moses now at the proverbial Rainbow Bridge, where he is free to sniff whatever he wants to his heart’s content. We weren’t his first family, so if the legend is true Moses will have at least two joyous reunions in the future. There are some wonderful dogs I know of who went before him, and I imagine there is quite the dog party happening now.

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Manic Monday

Another Monday, another brief message from the barefoot backpacker — this one to tell me he’d made it to Crater Lake and “I have more that needs to be said than can be said in a voice mail so… I’ll call you back.” That his voicemail message two three hours ago… from a pay phone that doesn’t take incoming calls. My stomach is in knots.  I think I just sprouted a dozen new gray hairs.  This particular son is the cause of more than a few worries over the years.
It doesn’t help that I’ve been awake for the past 37 hours.
Did you know it gets light here at 4:30 AM?

So… how about some good news! Well, the heat wave has subsided and it’s been downright pleasant outside — a little too warm, because it is summer, but it’s cooling down at night again and that makes all the difference.  The Scout has assured me that his paperwork for Eagle rank has all been turned in.

Speaking of scouts, I spent 4 hours driving out to summer camp and back home again last night because SuperDad had inadvertently left several Very Important Items in the back of his car… in our garage. BFF rode out with me and got to see their campsite and the upper portion of the camp, and the scouts explained what they would be doing for the week. Possibly more importantly, we got to use the toilets at the beginning of the week instead of at the end of the week.*   And most impressive of all, we saw an adult female moose just before we reached the camp. Sadly, there is no photo proof because we didn’t have a camera with us.  And before you ask why I didn’t snap a picture on my cell phone, #1- I was driving, and #2- I accidentally left it charging on the table at home. We were supposed to be back at home being outdoorsy on the patio, but I was interrupted 5 sips into a nice cool lime-and-agave beverage.

To summarize: no moose picture, a rather different sort of outdoorsy experience for several of us, and no details on the barefoot PCT hiker (although we do have indication that he is alive and somehow ahead of schedule).  The northern lights were supposedly visible last night but it’s too light here in the city to see them, and I’m going to head to bed and pray for sleep — with the phone next to me, volume set to stun.

How is your summer going?

*I’m full of strange fun for her: as a birthday gift, I took her to an alpaca ranch — and now she’s had the experience of visiting a Boy Scout camp.

Your long-overdue update, or: “At least I’m not 241 years old.”

This evening marks exactly one year since my youngest son fell 23 feet out of a tree and landed on his back. He still suffers from post concussion syndrome, with an inability to focus and function for very long — or sometimes at all — and the same headache he’s had since he fell is still present.  The Scout turns 18 and therefore will age out of scouting before the end of the month.  His Eagle Scout project was completed last summer; however, he has limited ability to work and there is much “paperwork” (computer work) still to be done to achieve the rank of Eagle.  He has already had so many disappointments over the past twelve months, so many things he’s had to give up and no end in sight with his PCS, that I really want this honor for him to carry forward for the rest of his life.  It would be a bright spot in his craptastic year.  His senior year of high school is yet to come.

Humorous-Juniorous had landed his dream job at one of the university laboratories a few months ago, only to lose it due to immaturity. Showing up on time, asking questions and communicating are important skills to learn. He’s now working at a cafe, because understandably he was not hired by another lab boss — and food, rent, and utilities still need to be paid for on a regular basis.  H-J is coming home this weekend for a short visit and a large extended family get-together, so at least we will get to see him for the first time since Christmas.

In answer to our consistent pestering about applying for a job, The Barefooter announced to us less than 2 weeks ago that he had decided to go hike the Pacific Crest Trail north from southern Oregon. His original plan was to leave last Thursday but then I reminded him of the aforementioned family get-together (based upon a wedding) so he’s now leaving on Sunday.  True to form, The Barefooter is not yet prepared for this venture but committed to going because once he gets an idea, he is tenacious.  I shake my head and bite my tongue often. He tells us that he’s taking 2 months to hike as far north as possible before getting off the trail on September 10th (the day before his 25th birthday) and then switching his studies from horticulture to firefighting.

IMAG0529_1The Engineer and The Author continue with their jobs and the fine work of parenting Little Foot, who is now one-and-a-half years old. SuperDad and I visited them a few weeks ago (I had him playing in the sprinkler and his clothes were drying on the deck when I took this picture) and they will be coming here this weekend for the wedding/extended family extravaganza.  I’ve already told Little Foot‘s mama that if they want to stay and dance after dinner, I’ll take this sweet boy home with me. Grandmothers with bum ankles do not do much dancing but they do enjoy playing and cuddling with babies. No doubt his uncle The Scout will also be ready to go home early.

If you had heard, yet doubted, that Pokémon GO is an exercise app, I can assure you that is correct information. Not only do I see and talk with folks who would otherwise be holed up indoors out in front of the building at work (our site is a Pokémon gym), I am married to a level 35 trainer. SuperDad continues to need additional calories to ensure that he does not lose weight from all of the exercise he gets running, biking, rollerblading, and more. He also does the majority of our shopping and food preparation; basically, SuperDad has been the glue holding us together.  And I need someone to hold me together these days. There’s an unquantifiable toll on a mother’s heart as she can do nothing but watch as her (17yo) baby suffers or her adult children make mistakes. It doesn’t help when the prescription for antidepressants runs out prior to a holiday weekend and the regular pharmacy claims they cannot get it. (In truth, someone higher up has chosen to not obtain it; Rite-Aid pharmacy has come to my rescue with the very medication I need although it requires additional hoops and jumping through them without medication helping my chemically-challenged brain is… well, challenging.) As for the ankle, nothing has changed: it swells with use and weather patterns. I try to exercise in the pool several days a week for strength and balance, and I adjust my activities to match my capabilities.  Some days that translates to sitting on the sofa with my feet up.

As I look back over my writing tonight, I note that it lacks cheeriness and for that I apologize. It’s hard to be cheerful without my usual dosage of antidepressants, especially when anxious over a few of the circumstances described above. The biblical mandate to be anxious for nothing and pray about everything doesn’t always get me through. Tomorrow should be better thanks to the “emergency” dispensation of 3 days worth of pills from the nice pharmacy up the road — enough to tide me over until they can speak with my doctor and get the renewed prescription into their files. And baby snuggles, which always improve my mood and general outlook on life, are a planned part of my weekend.

Happy birthday to the United States of America. May the temper-tantrum toddler days soon be behind us all.

flag at the island house

Riding into the Sunset

Two weeks ago we loaded up men and beast (and me) and drove several hours for a weekend celebration of my dear mother-in-law’s 80th birthday.

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I drive myself about our own city, but for trips beyond that I ride in the back seat with my foot elevated.

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This explains the presence of a rearview mirror and The Barefooter’s glasses.

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The photos here aren’t of great quality but the sunset sky was amazing that evening.

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Tomorrow my dh and I are taking a day trip to visit Little Foot and his parents. This Oma needs some baby hugs!

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Check out more Pink Saturday pictures at How Sweet the Sound.

A parent, apparently

Last Tuesday afternoon found us at the neurology department for a follow-up visit for The Scout. We didn’t know it at the time, but he was starting a week of misery despite taking it easy for two weeks over the school winter holiday.
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“Concussion recovery is not linear” …yada yada yada. I get it. But let’s look for something more, shall we? Because at this point, it’s been SIX MONTHS. (This is why I came along, to light a few proverbial fires.) We left with promises of an MRI and a back X-ray.
Yesterday I took The Scout in for his physical (a requirement for these new exams) and we were able to get the X-rays while we were at the clinic. It’s slightly entertaining to see the faces of medical professionals when they hear that this teenager fell 23 feet onto his back. He landed inches away from a rock poking up out of the ground (we live near jagged basalt formations) and not far from broken tree stumps. He’s a walking miracle, and I am infinitely grateful.  By the time we slogged through the snowy roads and settled in again at home, SuperDad had been called with the results from the radiologist. (That was fast!)

So, those X-ray results: at some point in the past — six months ago? Ten years ago? No one knows — this boy had a broken back. It’s fairly high up, where he hasn’t had any distinct pain (?!?) and not where he says he landed, but it’s definitely a break that healed over.  My jaw might have dropped.
It’s a clue without being an answer.  His lower back gets stiff when he’s sat for too long and when he first gets up in the morning, but he hasn’t had back pain since July. Crazy.

Now we await the insurance approval and MRI appointment. In the meantime, the medication prescribed by neurology for nighttime has been doubled (let’s try it, why not?) and we’ve been trying a triple-whammy for bad days: Tylenol plus ibuprofen plus aspirin. Sometimes we sneak a little caffeine in there (hey, it works for my headaches).

There’s no rhyme or reason, no pattern for his bad days vs. good days. Activity can be a link but it’s not causal. Sometimes he’s in pain, sometimes it’s just an inability to concentrate or focus, and sometimes he’s fine.

This week has been a much better week for The Scout. He woke up early and hopped in the shower on Monday morning before 6:00 a.m. Unfortunately, school was canceled on Monday due to our weather situation (a rarity here) so he didn’t get to take advantage of a truly good day for his recovering body.  He went to class today, and even went to karate this evening; he can’t do much there, but at least he can keep up on his kata.

Not to let the teenager get all the medical attention, I went to the dentist this morning. In an effort to stave off periodontal disease, I underwent a deep cleaning on the right side of my mouth. Since it is painful process (hello, below-the-gum-line scouring), Novocaine is given…and given. Apparently I don’t numb easily. The hygienist lost count after 9 pokes, but we’re pretty sure it was around 13 injections. I’m a bit sore this evening. Lucky me, I get to go back in a few weeks for the left side of my mouth. (That will also be a work day, with the fun of answering the phone while swollen like a chipmunk .)

It looks like January is the month for appointments around here.
Maybe I’ll even finally get my colonoscopy, but I’m not holding my breath about that one — the office still hasn’t called me back. Perhaps I’ll have the opportunity to be done with antibiotic oral rinses before cleaning out the other end of the digestive cycle.  Getting older is not for wimps.

If you’ve read this far, you deserve a treat. Related to none of the above, here’s a cute picture of Little Foot on Christmas Eve.

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Back in the Air

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I’m traveling home this afternoon, back to a place where there are four definite seasons. All this Arizona sunshine is lovely but I’m finding it difficult to believe it is late October when the days reach 96 degrees and the warm nights are filled with the sound of crickets. I miss my husband, my home, and — let’s be honest here — my internet connection. For this visit I stayed with my stepmother at her retirement center, which was lovely and quiet (and much cheaper than a hotel room); however, she does not have WiFi because she does not have a computer. Luckily, there is a strong WiFi connection at my dad’s place where I’ve managed to use the internet for his enjoyment, sharing photos, videos and podcasts while also briefly checking my own sites. Thanks to my daughter-in-law’s use of Facebook, I was able to go to her “timeline” and share the video of the baby learning to crawl with great-grandpa.

File this under “Proof that opposites attract”
My dad and his wife have been married for 31 years. She keeps the TV channel firmly set on Faux “News” (thankfully not at high volume, so I can “tune it out” pretty easily) where a certain so-called political candidate is nearly deified while his opponent is put down in various ways. Meanwhile, in his room at the assisted living facility, my dad watches PBS NewsHour on the telly. He is having no trouble deciding for whom to vote for President, although some of the local candidates give him pause. It made me glad that he is still mentally “all there” and that I was able to deliver my dad’s absentee ballot to him (his wife sent it with me when I drove in for my visit on Saturday). Like many conservative voters, she still does not know for whom she will vote for President — neither candidate pleases her — despite her steady diet of F-news. This election is going to have interesting results in many areas.

Two busy weeks of work are ahead of me, bookended by busy weekends filled with travel and activities. If it wasn’t for travel time, I’d be having trouble switching from one mode to the other.

Glass in the Garden

My dad chose to retire far from family and is now in an Assisted Living home. I’m visiting him in Arizona this weekend, something I do twice a year. One of the things we do together is look at photos on my laptop computer. He gets to travel vicariously through my pictures and today you do, too.

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The Seattle Space Needle reflected in a gazing ball outdoors in the Chihuly Glass Garden.
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Back in August, SuperDad and I met up with son#3 in Seattle for a day of playing tourist. Visiting Chihuly Garden and Glass had been on my wishlist for a long time and I love the pictures I was able to take there.

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reflections from Dale Chihuly’s basket phase

These beautiful glass sculptures are the artwork of Dale Chihuly. As such, I cannot use the photographs I have taken and sell them on cards at the farmers’ market.

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This glass sculpture rests on a reflective surface and brings to mind a fountain from the sea.

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Close-up of the “sea fountain” sculpture

I’ve got over 250 photographs from my time at Chihuly Garden and Glass. Not all of them are great, but I’ll attempt to do a better job of sharing the best of them with you. If I can’t sell them, at least I can share the beauty, right?

How do you decide what to share and what to keep to yourself? Are there any rules you wish you could break? 

 

It could be worse…

DSCN2529  Bruised toes, and this is my GOOD foot!Was it just 2 weeks ago I was nursing sore toes on my right foot? Apparently my left foot was jealous because in my sleep I somehow managed to jam or pull or otherwise bruise/sprain the littlest toe on my left foot (my FULF as Barb so succinctly puts it) prior to waking up on Wednesday morning. It’s too ugly to show you a picture, but I can assure you it’s really purple and coordinates nicely with my purple nail polish. (Maybe I do need to take a picture?)  And yes, it hurts.
It’s all adding insult to injury since I’ve also been having additional ankle pain — this time on my outer left ankle. The current suspicion is that the hardware on that side (one long plate, 6 screws) is somehow irritating the more natural parts of me.

I did manage to get out and about last weekend, putting at least 800 miles on the minivan (124,000 and counting) all by myself. My ankle truly hates me for all of that driving. (I’ve been hating my ankle lately, so the feeling is mutual)  On Friday I drove to Seattle for a quick visit with H-J. I got to see the lab where he is working this summer and I took him out to dinner at Ivar’s on Lake Union. It was one of those nights that makes a person love Seattle even if it is crowded: so many boats out on the lake full of happy people, beautiful weather, drawbridges allowing passage for the larger boats, evening glow on the buildings downtown.  After dropping my university student off at his place (college students, please don’t leave your dirty dishes in your room… science experiments belong in the laboratory!) I drove to my friend Annie’s house for 2 nights to celebrate her 50th birthday and recent home purchase.  This was the most relaxing part of the weekend, with little to do but a bit of cleaning, cutting up vegetables, drinking wine, and chatting with old friends while elevating my FULF. 

Is it wrong to high-five friends over mutually crummy injuries? We must be getting old. Next we’ll be talking about fiber supplements! Oh, wait…

Sleeping baby on my chest while mama gets allergy testing

Slightly feverish baby sleeping on my chest. I love him so much!

Sunday morning I slept in a bit, then packed up and drove back across the state, but not home — instead I drove to spend 2 nights with The Author and Little Foot. No new pictures because Mama was getting allergy testing done on Monday morning, baby was feverish and couldn’t go to daycare, and Daddy was out of town at a conference in another state. LF’s other grandma was able to come on Monday afternoon and stay for the week, so she’s still there now. It’s no fun to have a sick baby but the timing is great. The Author works for the university and it would be difficult to take time off right now as they are gearing up for fall courses.

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My blue lanyard: made it to sell, loved it too much and kept it

Tuesday morning I dropped my DIL off at work (hello, $15 per day parking? No, thank you!) and drove 90 minutes back home straight to work for me, too — only to discover I had left my lanyard with work keys at home. SuperDad to the rescue! He brought my work keys and my lunch to me. I was very grateful. He also went to the store and purchased several gallons of ice cream for the neighborhood block watch party held in our driveway that evening. I had enough time between the end of my work day and the start of the party to ice and elevate for 45 minutes on my bed. My ankle hates me and was badly swollen all day.

I’ve made an appointment (first one I could get, at the earliest time available) for August 18th. I’m hoping for some answers as to why I’m having “new” pain 8 months after surgery. By the time I see my PCM, it will be more than 9 months since injury. Did I mention that my ankle hates me?

MTM: Summer

 

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Photo taken on the teenager’s 17th birthday

 

It’s hot here this week, hitting the low 90s, but at least I don’t have to drive 8 hours in an un-air-conditioned truck to the other side of the state and back, nor am I spending my week with hundreds of teenage boys. Why yes, it is scout camp week.

And off they go...

And off they go…

Of course, without the person who wakes up at 0430 to open windows and switch on the whole-house exhaust fan, our house isn’t very cool in the mornings since we don’t have central air conditioning. It’s all about windows and fans.

Four generations of handsome guys

Four generations of handsome guys

I should probably back up a little and show a few pictures from a little over a week ago, when we all gathered together at the home of my husband’s parents. My father-in-law was having his 80th birthday party.

Family 4x6 resizedThis family picture is from that evening (baby was sleepy and didn’t want to smile for a camera). It was the first time all 8 of us had been together since January 2nd.

This little piggy...

This little piggy…

In the past, there have been many times when I have disliked (or even hated) pictures of me. But now that I’m a grandma? Any picture of Oma with her sweet boy is a good picture in my eyes.

I tried to not be a baby hog, although I don’t know if I succeeded in that endeavor.

I did, however, succeed in jamming my toes into a chair at work last Thursday. Luckily, this is my “good” foot so it isn’t as painful as it could have been.

DSCN2529 Bruised toes, and this is my GOOD foot!

Those little piggies are sore.

 

 

 

 

 

Look at those thighs and that amazing core strength! Babies are awesome.

Look at those chubby thighs and that amazing core strength! Babies are awesome.

Just when I thought it would be too quiet around here, The Engineer, The Author, and Little Foot stopped in for a quick visit overnight between a holiday at the lake with friends and heading back to their own home. I could never get too much time with this boy.
Confession: I enjoy time with his parents, too!

His daddy had just finished playing so we gave Little Foot a turn at tickling the ivories.

His daddy had just finished playing so we gave Little Foot a turn at tickling the ivories.

For the curious, Little Foot is now 7.5 months old. No teeth have popped through those gums, but he loves to eat whatever we are eating. He continues to be a happy, snuggly baby — much like his father was 25 years ago. I am so lucky and blessed to have them only 80 miles away.

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