Summer mileposts

Spokane RIver view from dining room window of TRAILER, websized

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My private glamping tent set up inside my friends’ trailer.

Last week SuperDad and I finally had our first trailer camping experience together. I’ve trailer-camped with friends, enjoying my own little glamping hideout, but this was our first time as husband and wife.

We don’t yet agree on what size of trailer or layout so this is going to be a process of discovery and discussion.  We’re renting from the local military installation’s outdoor recreation store while we weigh the pros and cons of trailer camping.  I am personally a big fan of indoor plumbing, coffee pots on timers, and pillows. I’m also a big fan of fresh air and seeing the stars at night, so that rules out traveling via motels 100% of the time.  After all, I traded in my beloved minivan for a big SUV last winter in order to tow a trailer, so I’m obviously committed to doing this.

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SuperDad told me he was being tailgated by a giant trailer.

Trail Runner 21-foot trailer from AFB, camping at Riverside State Park, WEBSIZED

While I agree it was intimidating, it was also close to being what I want in a travel trailer. It had a walk-around queen bed (“trailer queen” so a bit short in length but still 60 inches wide), a full bath mid-trailer with a good sized shower, a fridge with separate freezer, and a u-shaped dinette in back that gave us the window view at the top of this post . Not bad!
The campsite was near home, so I went to work from here and my better half stayed and played. SuperDad brought along his kayak (which rode in the truck) and mountain bike (trailer) and is now thinking about a toyhauler as compromise (“Think of all the TOYS we could bring inside it!”) while I am sure that would ruin the glamping vibe. Kayaks and bikes don’t need to ride inside the trailer.  I want a cute space for my crafting supplies. After all, I need to have something to do while he’s out being outdoorsy.

Happy Camper, websized

Once upon a time, I would have thought this was all ridiculous. I was a committed tent camper. But now that we are getting older and I cannot get up off the ground easily (understatement) thanks to my Frankenstein ankle, this is where we are at.  How about you, dear Reader? How do you feel about camping?

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Growing Up

DSCN3483 (2)Last weekend the oldest parts of our church building celebrated 100 years as a place of worship. (The side in which I work was built in 1926, but the sanctuary was built in 1917 after the original church building from 1888 was destroyed by fire.)  With such a celebration happening, it was a treat to have The Engineer, The Author, and Little Foot come for a visit.  All that wasn’t the reason they came for a visit, but the timing was lovely.

It had been a month since we had seen them. Little Foot is growing up so fast, and if it’s possible (I think it is), he is getting cuter every month. The second anniversary of his birth will be in just a few more weeks. This boy melts my heart.  That bear is nearly as big as he is and it is his favorite toy. He talks to Bear and gives Bear turns playing with other toys. It’s really sweet to see.

Boxes make the best toys

The box with the coffee order for work arrived at the perfect time to be a toy for the weekend.

 

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Look! No Christmas decorations on the mantel — it’s a miracle! (Don’t worry, they’ll return.)

This evening SuperDad and I watched Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand in “The Way We Were” and then clicked on the director’s commentary. Not only does the film make more sense when you see the parts that were left on the cutting floor, but watching it allowed us to hear more of that haunting music and Barbra’s incredible voice. It’s such a story of choices. In a strange comparison of sorts, my 18-year-old baby boy is off camping by himself in the snow several hours away. He drove himself there after school in his truck, sent me a text from the nearest town and told us not to worry prior to Monday night.  He only plans to be gone two nights — there is school on Monday — but if his post-concussion syndrome (headache, lack of ability to focus) is bothering him, he wouldn’t be able to drive and would wait to come home.

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One of The Scout‘s senior pictures, taken on a day he wasn’t feeling well.

Not worry? Me? Hahahahaha… Um, no — I’ll be worrying if we haven’t heard from him by sundown on Sunday, preferably by seeing him in person at home. He’s solo hiking and snow-camping in the wilderness without cell phone reception. But what do you do? He’s a legal adult and a very responsible kid person. Still… he’ll always be my baby.
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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.

DSCN2149 Moses 4x6 WEBSIZED

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.
concussion-6-months-later

“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.