Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Finding a Decent Babysitter

It's so difficult to find a diligent babysitter. I'm not sure it's ever been easy. Some mothers have a wonderful partner who can share in those duties, but others must use every care when leaving their babies with the head of the family.

He might be more interested in eating than watching his precious offspring. The little one might wander off without big daddy even being overly concerned.

He might not even notice how quickly the little guy can move.

For the mother of twins, the problem is doubled. Even those super dads who can manage one baby will often bolt when faced with the responsibility of two at a time. Often twins can need more than twice the attention, because they tend to bounce off of each other.

Another problem arises because they often eat and sleep on their own individual schedules. Therefore, while one of these little beauties ran out of the gate and left the yard, without Daddy even noticing, the other calmly lay down for a little nap. Dad continued nibbling his way through the lower bushes in the yard nearby.

He stopped by to look at the one resting, then wandered off and out of the yard. I kept expecting him to come back. After all, the other baby had disappeared around the other corner of the house and I hadn't seen him in about five minutes. Daddy didn't seem concerned. I started looking for the Mama. This was a good story and all, but these babies were pretty new.

Waking up, the first thing the youngster did was look for his twin. Nap time had only lasted about five minutes, but when he stretched and walked to the fence, he found that not only was his twin gone, but Daddy was as well.

He ran along the fence rails, looking for Daddy or somebody—anybody besides me up on the deck watching with my camera clicking.

He didn't ask me for help. Maybe I looked too dumb. He asked others.

"Did you see where my Daddy went?" I'm sure he was asking.

"Nope. I just few in. He wasn't here when I got here. Sorry," said the Robin.

"Who, me? Nope. Those guys all look the same to me," said the bunny.

So he jumped the fence and ran in the direction his daddy the buck had taken. I hope he caught up with him, or found the herd. I knew better than to try to keep him, but felt kind of helpless. About ten minutes later, I heard a coughing sound and looked down. Guess who?

"Hi, Mama!" I yelled down. I took her photo, since I was still holding the camera. She stood there looking at me, and I pointed down the hill and said, "They went that way, but he lost one of your babies," and I pointed behind the house. She nodded her head (I swear she did, even though I know she didn't understand me) and in a few giant leaps and bounds had run out of the yard and down the hill on the same basic route the Daddy and one following twin had taken.

I know myself well enough to know I'll worry a bit until I see them again. (Who could make this stuff up? You left too soon, Stacey!)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Celebrating Guests

It's just impossible to explain how much joy there is when a visit comes together just right. This has been one of those special times, when a guest just clicked. If we could keep Stacey here longer, we would. It's been fun, but too short, and with her leaving tomorrow, today just flew by much too quickly.

It's amazing how many memories can be shared in a few short days. There were things I hadn't thought of in nearly ten years, like the gag gift of an ugly (we're talking really pathetic) dress Tighe bought her for her graduation. Of course, he had some wonderful jewelry stashed away, but she proved how polite she could be before she ever got to see that. She opened the dress in front of her entire family (and me) at a party in her honor, and was as gracious as anyone could ever ask a person to be. More so, if you had seen the dress.

Besides laughing and eating (yes, there was plenty of that), game playing and sight seeing, we just enjoyed being together. It was a good diversion for all of us, and I hope it gave Stacey time to recharge her batteries before heading back for the job hunt. Her teaching position had been eliminated in the downsized budget in Newbury Park, CA, so she's been interviewing. That's not a lot of fun. I'm going to end up this piece with the promised photos, showing that we gave her some smiles while she was here. I hope she had enough to take some home with her.

You know the way here, now, Stacey. Don't be shy.

Benson Park:
Some day I should make a collage of all my friends romping with this ring of children. They're all such good sports to jump into the ring and play when John asks them to. (Now, who could say no to John?) Besides, if he didn't ask, I would.

This quiet old gentleman is one of my favorites. I'm glad Tighe sat down with him. My telephoto lens was perfect for capturing him from far away, but I was unable to catch any of their conversation.

Like me, Stacey really seemed to appreciate the native sculptures. There is a majesty to some of them that goes beyond strength and beauty. I find myself going back to stare at this one every time we visit the park.

Last night's BBQ rib dinner was good, and the ribs kept falling off the bones, so we nearly didn't have our s'mores. It was pretty dark by the time the marshmallows and Hershey bars got anywhere near the graham crackers. It's a good thing my camera works so nicely after dark. (Thanks, Jeremy, for the recommendation of the Lumix!) It was the end of a fine day, even if we did eat too much.

Some things are worth doing two at a time.

This is the spot we picked out for our picnic at the Rocky Mountain National Park. Before we drove up here, though, we stopped at Estes Park and walked through the Scandinavian Festival. We got to watch some folk dancing and hear some music, as well as see some crafts. I always go straight for the pottery. I'm hopeless.

The streams are all full this year. We've had a good amount of rain, most of it falling in the late afternoon and evening, which is mighty convenient if you ask me. Temperatures have been in the low 80s at our home, but were about ten degrees cooler up in the park. It takes us about forty minutes to get there from home.

I know these people. It's Tighe and Stacey, posing in front of the snow. It wasn't the snowiest peak around, but it was the one they were standing in front of, so that's where I took the photo. I hate moving people around if they're smiling where they are. It seems like that's more important than the background.

I think it's time to replace that bra. I mean, that's me with Stacey. I guess I look like I'm in my 60s. At least I'm not having to color my hair yet. I'm glad you can't see the big dent in my forehead from the cupboard door I bashed into that morning. We smiled so much my cheeks hurt tonight.

This was Stacey's last sunset here, so I wanted to make sure she got a photo of it. Unfortunately, I waited a little too long, so I missed some of the color, especially in the foothills under the sky. Well, it looked much better in person. Happy trails, Stacey.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Another Day in Paradise

The four of us hit the road today, John and I showing Tighe and Stacey what a wonderful area we live in. Of course we had a wonderful breakfast first, and I still have to remember to type out that recipe for impossible breakfast pie for Stacey. I'm sure I'll remember all the changes I made, won't I?

We headed to town with a cooler full of sandwiches and soda, apples and trail mix. We came home with most of it, since breakfast stuck to our ribs better than I had thought it would. We started by heading into Loveland for a nice stroll through Benson Park. That's the park with all of the statues and sculptures in it. John and I really enjoy walking there, and it's a favorite spot for artists as well. I'll post some photos tomorrow, although I'll admit we were there almost exactly at noon, not the best time for photography.

From there we went to the Budweiser Plant for their tour. We always like taking our guests there, because the tour is so interesting, and the tasting room is very accommodating for guests. I'm still trying to remember why we didn't take Ben and Ruth there... I'll have to try hard to remember.

Anyway, when we went through the stables there, we were looking at the beautiful Clydesdales when a little boy asked if they were boy or girls horses. The guide explained that they were all geldings, which meant that they were males that had been gelded. He stopped there and all got quiet in the stable. Then he asked if there were any more questions. The same little boy said, "Yes. If they're all geldings, how do you breed them?" His mother took him by the arm and said, "That's another tour, Son." Some mothers are priceless.

We had ribs for dinner, and then relaxed until sunset, when it was time for our evening campfire. Once in each visit, whenever we have guests, we like to build a fire in the pit and have music outside, build s'mores and play guitar, light off sparklers and have the fun of camping out without the air mattresses and sleeping bags. It was a wonderful night.

Now, if only I hadn't cracked my head nearly open this morning, it would have been a totally perfect day. Oh, well, we can't have everything. If I slam my forehead into the edge of an open cupboard door at full speed once in awhile, I guess I have to live with that. I haven't yet figured out a way to make myself stop it. I just start doing too many things and I don't see it. Well, this time it was bad enough so I think I'll remember for awhile.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

News That Makes Me Tired

I seriously considered posting this with just the title. There's a sarcastic little voice inside myself that's saying things like, "Wow, it's a good thing nothing else happened in the world today besides Michael Jackson dying, because according to the news, that's all that's going on."

A comment on Facebook proclaimed how sad it was that "God could take such a great man." (What?) Brother...

I'm going to make this short and to the point. God will know what to do with each of us as we cross that line. I'm not sure what He'll do with me, so who am I to judge another? I'll admit to being human and finding it very hard to keep from jumping to conclusions. Whether he was saint or sinner, I wouldn't have taken a chance on putting any little boys I loved around him. Like most people, he probably had much good keeping company with his shortcomings.

I loved some of his music. He could certainly dance at one time. The theatrics I could live without. But face it—he wasn't Princess Diana or John F. Kennedy. I don't believe an entire day of news coverage was warranted.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fair and Balanced—Well, Almost

My son Tighe introduced me to The Daily Show. I've added it to my little battery of daily (no pun intended) political media to watch in order to know just what these crazy politicians are doing to our country. I'm having a hard time right now actually trusting anyone who would run for office. It takes a considerable amount of time and fortitude to sift through what's being broadcast in order to have an informed opinion these days.

I'm not sure Jon Stewart would appreciate my choice of media professionals. I consider Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly necessary. Most people who don't like them really don't watch them, so I'm not concerned with their opinions. Sometimes I think O'Reilly is too concerned with being fair, but that's not really fair of me. It's just that I get stressed out hearing the ultra-liberal point of view so often. It just doesn't compute to me, no matter how they word it. With all the mainstream media ignoring the traditional point of view, I don't know why the only traditional media coverage available to us, Fox News, has to give any time at all to the Secular Progressives, but I guess fair is fair. I'm sure the balance helps build character—somehow. Of course, the SPs don't see the fairness or the balance, so it's certainly not building their character.

At any rate, here's a seven minute segment from one of the Daily Show programs that I particularly appreciated. The gentleman being interviewed was familiar to me. He's been a guest speaker on The Factor and the Glenn Beck Show. I loved this interview. After hearing it, I programmed our DVR to tape The Daily Show. If I'm going to see interviews like this, and I'll admit the humor helps, then I'll learn something without adding too much to the stress I already endure to be politically astute. I do hope I get some comments on this one.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Peter Schiff
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorJason Jones in Iran

Monday, June 22, 2009

To the Kids Who Survived the 20s Through the 60s

[Sent to me by friend Sherm, with comments added by me, of course.]

First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while
they were pregnant. They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can and didn't get tested for diabetes. Then after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-based paints.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, locks on doors or
cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had baseball caps not helmets on our heads. As infants and children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, no booster seats, no seat belts, no air bags, bald tires and sometimes no brakes. Riding in the back of a pick-up truck on a warm day was always a special treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle.
We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and no one actually died from this. We ate cupcakes, white bread, real butter and bacon. We drank Kool-Aid made with real white sugar. And, we weren't overweight. Why? Because we were always outside playing....that's why! We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. No one was able to reach us all day. And, we were O.K.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride
them down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem. We did not have Playstations, Nintendos or X-boxes. There were no video games, no 150 channels on cable, no video movies or DVDs, no surround-sound or CDs, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet and no chat rooms. We had friends and we went outside and found them.

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no
lawsuits from these accidents. We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever. We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls and, although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes. We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them.

Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who
didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that. The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers, problem
solvers and inventors ever. The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all.

If you are one of them, congratulations. You might want to share this
with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated so much of our lives "for our own good." While you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know how brave and lucky their parents were.

[This originally came to me with a "quote" attributed to Jay Leno
attached. I did the responsible thing and went to snopes.com and checked it out. It was an urban legend, not a true quote, so I have deleted it. I don't distribute fallacy.] The rest of this is great. I can add to it that I also remember playing with the mercury from thermometers. In fact, I remember having a little bottle where we kids kept the stuff when we broke a thermometer, which we occasionally did intentionally. (Gee, Mom, we're so sorry!) I also remember running behind the DDT truck, while it sprayed great clouds of insecticide. That was great fun. Instant fog machine.

I'm still alive to tell about it. Kind of makes you want to run
through the house with scissors, doesn't it?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Addictions Fight Back

One of the little tricks I've been using to get through the very long days without smoking is to sleep. That might sound like it's just putting off the inevitable, but it really does help. The longer I can go without, the better it is. I ned to get through the physical withdrawals before I can even begin to tackle the undermining effects of the actual habit itself.

The habit is the part that sometimes has me pausing the television (without thinking) when a commercial starts. Perhaps once in every program I'll push the pause button on the DVR, get up and walk over to where my cigarettes... aren't. Oops. It's automatic. Turn around. Sit down. Start deep breathing quickly, because my mind and body immediately revolt against being denied the expected influx of drug. Yes, you've got to think of it like that.

Today it got really bad about two o'clock. I went in and lay down, falling asleep after about half an hour listening to an audio book, Armageddon's Children (Terry Brooks). I'm not sure how long I was out when the need for a smoke got to me. I honestly forgot I had quit. I got up, and put my pants back on. I remember brushing my hair and thinking I looked really tired. I grabbed the car keys and wondered where John was. I didn't think about it being Sunday, or Father's Day. I just went out, got in the car and drove to the store. I bought two packs of cigarettes and smoked all the way home. It didn't seem to give me any relief. No guilt. No pleasure. No sense of failure. It just was. No emotion at all.

I parked and walked in the house, deciding to go back to bed. When I sat down and tried to take off my pants, I woke up. It had all been a dream. I was dreaming that I had gotten up and driven to town, bought cigarettes and smoked all the way home. My addiction was fighting back. Bummer. Needless to say, I wanted one at that point more than ever.

I will label this post as humor, hoping that someday I might actually think of it that way. Today I realize that other people might find it funny, but to me it's not so much. Not yet, anyway. Obviously, I decided not to go back to bed.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

This is Your Brain Without Tobacco

If you don't really get my sense of humor, you're probably going to hate me after reading some of this. Just understand that at this point, I really don't care. It's been five days since I've had a cigarette, and it feels like a lot longer than that.

When you give up an addiction, people around you become really mean and petty. They do things specifically to irritate you. I think they lie in wait, just trying to stress you out so you'll fail. Then, of course, you can go back to your addiction and be the old sunny personality they know and love, and they won't have to deal with the cranky you anymore. I'm sure that's why they do it. (Right, John?)

Oh, let's have company for dinner. (Let's not.) I already invited him. (Fine.) Don't worry about it. I'll grill. (Great.) Just marinate some steaks. (We don't own any steaks.) We'll go get some, then. (Like I really wanted another trip to the store.) Can't you marinate that for me? (Fine.) What time is dinner? (This is your deal. You decide.) Six. Let's do it at six. (Fine. I'll have everything else ready to go when the meat is done at six.)

So at five thirty, when I'm starting the potatoes, John comes in and tells me the meat's done, and he's just let our neighbor know that he should come over right away. Why would he do that? Because John got hungry early and moved up the time for dinner. Did he tell me so I could get the salads and vegetables and spuds done early? Nope. French bread is still in its package. Dessert is baking, twenty-five minutes left on the timer. Can't turn the oven up to grill the bread when it's baking nut bread. Can't do potatoes and vegetables and salad in five minutes.

Nobody can convince me he accidentally forgot to tell me to get everything else ready early. He wants me to fail, right? He does this every time I quit: pulls little stunts to add on the stress. Surprise to him. This time it's political. He can pull all the little nasty tricks he wants. I might just go on strike, but I'm not going to fail. I refuse to pay an extra dollar a pack in taxes for Obama and the idiots in Congress to spend on things I don't agree with. And that's the truth. Maybe I'll run away from home for a week or two, but I won't be smoking, wherever I go.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mama Deer Brings Twins for a Visit

Each Springtime the new mothers start bringing their babies by my yard to show off their new little ones. They seem proud, and don't mind if I go grab the camera for a few shots. I believe this is the second year in a row that this doe has had twins, but I'm not positive it's the same one. I do know that she's running about a month behind all the other mama deer to bring her babies around, and when I see how tiny they still are, I can understand why. They were either late being born, or they were so small she didn't bring them out of the thicket until today. (I refer to their sleeping place as a thicket because I read Bambi as a small child. It stuck.)

So here are a few more of the photos I took while they played in my paddock this afternoon, around 4:30. They were actually there over a half hour, and didn't mind at all that I stood right above them on the deck, talking to the mother and taking photographs. It's just one of the many joys abundant in life in the foothills.

This little one became very interested in John's tractor wind dancer. While he was playing with it, he failed to notice mama deer leaving through the gate. There's no door on the gate; just an opening.

The two of them played, jumping around together for awhile and running until they realized that Mama had left. Then it wasn't much fun anymore, and they ran to the edge of the paddock where she was standing, watching them.

The next thing you know, she had walked around the paddock to the back and was playing come get me through the wooden bars. They failed to grasp the concept of leaving her to go in the opposite direction to find the doorway they had come in by. She let them guess and wander back and forth along one wall for nearly fifteen minutes before she led them to the right edge of the enclosure.

I finally thanked her for bringing her babies by to see me, told her to have a wonderful week, and went on inside to start dinner. They were out of the paddock by then, but still in the yard, looking up at me. When I looked out ten minutes later, they were gone. They're polite guests, waiting for me to say goodbye, I guess. Now I'll get to watch them grow, and see the spots slowly fade. If either one is male, he'll get his first antlers next year. They'll be tiny, but I'll tell him how handsome they look. I wonder what they really think.

"Hey, Feline, there's that nutty old woman again. She won't hurt you, though, so you don't need to run. Besides, when it snows she'll leave corn for us." Nope. Probably more like, "Hey, what was that?"

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Happy Half A Birthday

Three days after Christmas, my oldest son Tighe was born. That was a long time ago, of course, but I learned a few things about having a child so close to such a major holiday. The main thing was that even if you're very careful about making the birthday and the holiday totally separate, there's still a very long time before the next gift-giving day comes along.

Six months after his birthday, I got out my cake layer pans and made a special cake. I cut each one in half and layered them as a very tall half cake. We sang "Happy Half a birthday to you," etc. We gave him a gift and celebrated as if it were a natural celebration for every child. We did this until he started school, and did it for each of our three boys the same way, until they started school. They don't seem to remember it very well now, but at the time it was very special, and they looked forward to it.

Now I have a special friend whose daughter was born on December 30th last year. Her half a birthday is quickly approaching. One of my—well, I won't exactly call it a regret, but almost a disappointment in my life—is that I didn't have another son who could have fallen in love with this wonderful young woman. She honestly wasn't the right young lady for any of my sons, and fell in love with a man my husband and I really enjoy. However, I really wanted to keep her. I've done the best I could to make that happen in the only way I could. I keep in touch, and I make things for her daughter. She's not really my granddaughter, but she's grand.

Stacey and Ryan, I hope you always allow me to spoil your kids a bit. It's a privilege. Thanks for sending me a photo of Hanne in the little half a birthday outfit. If it was her whole birthday, I might have sent pants, too.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Not a Mirage Trailer

I mentioned a few days ago that we planned to stop on our way home, hoping to get a look at my brother Patrick's trailer. He and his wife Betty have had it over a year now, I believe, but there's always a reason we haven't been able to see it when we've been there. It's been in for a facelift, or something.

I started teasing them that it was a mirage. That harkens back to an old joke my father used to enjoy. What's a mirage garage? It's where you park your car when you don't have one. (I know, it's not that funny, but it'll stick in your mind.) At any rate, I was taking bets that there would be some reason that, once again, we wouldn't get to see it. Nobody took me up on my offer, which I believe was fifty cents each. I'm so glad. It's a really nice (but huge) trailer. Here are a few of the photos I took:

This is Pat relaxing for the camera on the sofa. Anyone who pulls this behind their car all day certainly deserves to relax when they're done driving at night. On the other hand, at least he's not looking for a hotel room. I wonder how easy it is to find parking for a vehicle pulling a 25 foot trailer...

Here's Betty, my sister-in-law, showing all the bells and whistles on her traveling kitchen. It's really nice, with the oven she's next to, plus a nearly full sized refrigerator. That would sure beat a campfire, which is how most of my personal experience of on-the-road cooking has come from. Of course, either one means a clean-up, and I guess I'd rather clean up outside, unless it's hot. I wonder if she's got air conditioning in there. I'm really not able to do heat gracefully.

Obviously this is a table. You can probably imagine all the fun things a couple of people can do with a table while they're traveling.

This is the bed. I'll bet you can probably imagine all the fun... never mind.

John looks like he's giving Pat and Betty advice of some kind. Pat appears to be leaning away from him. (Oh, look! Betty's getting ready to turn off her hearing aid.) It was a long day. I'm glad John doesn't usually read my blogs. Sometimes he doesn't quite understand my sense of humor.

After seeing the trailer, though, I can't say I'd want to pull one behind our car. I wouldn't mind pulling just the bathroom part of it, though. That would be really handy.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Flushed With Pleasure

It's such a small thing, but very annoying to have one of those fancy self-flushing toilets start flushing while I'm still seated. Today while we were on the trip home, we stopped at the Georgetown Visitor Center in Colorado. That's one of our favorite places to stop, since it's only a couple of hours from home, and is always really clean. It's also warm inside in the winter.

Today, however, I started wondering if they had turned one of the "thrones" into a bidet. Not only did it repeatedly flush while I was taking care of business, but it splashed so much I thought I was getting a bath. No, I didn't complain on my way out. That's what you're for.

It felt so great to walk in the door here, though. John emptied the car and I put the food away, but that's about as far as I got. It was great to have Tighe make dinner for us, since I was pretty beat. I've been primarily sleeping in my chair since then. I just woke up and realized everyone else had gone to bed. I think I'll follow their example. I have some photos to post—tomorrow, perhaps. I did get to see Pat & Betty's trailer. It's real, not a mirage. We've also got some photos from the roadside. Perhaps I'll get them together for tomorrow, too. That might be nice. Tonight yawning is more fun.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Heading Home, Day One of Two

We made it from Pt. Mugu, also known as the Naval Air Weapons Station, or Pacific Missile Test Station, all the way to Richfield, Utah (see photo). I'm so thrilled to be more than half way home.

The trip so far has been wonderful, except for the forty-five minutes that we crawled through Las Vegas, and even that wasn't too bad. We sang our way through it. I had the iPod tuned to my five-star list all day. Believe it or not, we didn't even make it to the C's. (Yes, I have them alphabetized by artist.) When you have a favorites list that's culled from over 10,000 songs, you can expect it to take many days to play your favorites. I don't think we'll make it to Derek Coombs' "Freight Train," let alone "Who's Your Daddy."

I'm not always an orderly person. Maybe in some ways I'm obsessive-compulsive. I just feel like I need to do them in order. At least once.

One nice thing was that we never saw a single accident all day. That's a record. We sure saw a lot of cars pulled over getting tickets, though. I would estimate we saw at least two dozen. We just smile when it's someone who has sped passed us earlier. Yes, I sure do love that cruise control.

We'll stop and see my brother Pat and his wife Betty tomorrow. We've been teasing them that they have a "mirage" trailer. They bought it so that when he goes to remote locations with his hiking club, Betty can go along in comfort. Also, when they travel back east to see family, they have a built in home away from home. However, every time we've been to see them, it's somewhere else, and there's always a very good reason why we can't see it. Uh-huh. Mirage trailer. They're leaving on a trip Sunday, so they're picking it up from storage tomorrow and want us to stop by to see it. Right. I'll bet they're not home when we get there. Fifty cents, anyone?

Time for bed. I'm probably too excited to sleep, but I should make the effort. John's been out like a light for quite awhile. Nothing keeps him awake—except driving, which is a good thing.

Back at the Firestation

John is looking at me, like when are you going to get dressed so we can hit the road, but I need to get this posted first. Then I'll gladly go. I'll be ready in fifteen minutes. I promise.

When we first arrived in California, we had a grand weekend with Dave and Jeanne. One of the highlights was our trip to the fire station where their son James was taking the place of one of the fire fighters injured in the recent Santa Barbara fires. James is actually the reason our two families are friends.

Way back when Tighe, our oldest, was in seventh grade, he started baseball, and was on a team with James, also playing for the first time. Tighe had been playing basketball since he was old enough to get on a team. Very athletic, he quickly showed himself to be star material. James was very likely the slowest runner on the team, with the poorest batting average, the best attitude and the biggest smile. I fell for that kid over the weeks I sat watching the pre-game practices. As team mother, I didn't miss any of them. Most of the parents wouldn't show up until the real games started.

The afternoon before the first game, I asked James if his mother was going to be at the game. He told me that, of course, she'd be there. I sent him off with a message to her. "Look for the lady in the railroad cap. I'll have an empty lawn chair next to me, just for her." He wanted to know why I'd be bringing a chair for his mother, and I told him the truth, which has lasted to this day. "Anyone who's raised a son like you is someone I want to know.

We've been great friends for over twenty years. Thank you, James. And thanks for taking the photo of me while we were there. He used his cell phone camera. My cell phone can't deal with that sort of thing, so I had him email it to Jeremy, our middle son in Louisiana. He's up on all things text and photo. He forwarded it to my email. You might want to know—that coat weighs a ton. I can't imagine working in it. Firefighters are amazing. James is one of my heroes. He has no idea how often I pray for him, but I think he knows how much I love him.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Homeward Bound

I just finished packing for the trip home. I've never understood how John can sleep while I pack, but I'm glad he can. That means I could stop and watch the Laker's game before finishing. (Great game. Chick Hearn wouldn't have put it "in the fridge" until the last 30 seconds of O.T.)

It's very strange, I suppose, how much easier it is to pack when you're heading home than when you're leaving home. I guess the main difference is that you just get to pack everything rather than figuring out what you need to take and what you don't. The other aspect, of course, is that going home is always such a sweet feeling, no matter how exciting the original destination is. At least it is for us now. I never felt that way when we lived in the suburbs, but life in the foothills is perfect for us.

We love being on the road. Other people race past us, but we don't rush. We love the cruise control. It makes following the speed limits so easy. If that makes us boring, it also helps keep us safe.

We'll leave early tomorrow morning, probably around daybreak, and will make it somewhere across Utah. We don't really set a limit. We drive as long as we're enjoying it. Occasionally we make it to Colorado, but that's stretching it. We'll arrive home on Saturday sometime, and I'll get on the blog to announce our safe arrival.

Not to be morbid, but if something happens on the road, Ruth gets my best guitar and Schmath gets my banjo. Our three sons can have whatever else they want. Happy Trails to us.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


I tell people I've been diagnosed with LBS. It sounds important. A technical term, and an acronym, it nevertheless pretty much controls my life, but I still admit it to my friends. It stands for Leaky Brain Syndrome. I just don't always retain things the way I used to.

If you're still young, and you're laughing at this, just make a mental note of the expression. Some day you might need it—to describe your own mental failings. I know, it'll never happen to you, right? (I think I hear my sons snickering in the background somewhere.) 

I was playing guitar today and couldn't even remember the words to a song I wrote. I only wrote one song, so how hard could it be? Now, that's embarrassing. Um, I think it went like ... well, I guess I forgot the words. They were pretty funny, too, if I remember right. So after a wonderful visit with Chris today, I ended my evening by emailing her an mp3 of me singing the song I couldn't quite remember when we were together today. I guess I need to relearn it. 

LBS. It's hard to get rid of it once you've contracted it. Stuff just leaks out.

Monday, June 8, 2009

California: The Final Week

We're back in the Hotel on base, and today was fairly quiet. Well, it was more spooky than quiet, I guess. We arrived just at seven, meaning John was going to be a little late to work. He figured he'd drop me off and I'd wait in the lobby until about ten or eleven, when the room would be ready. Then I'd call him and he'd run back and check me in. I can't check myself in, since I'm not technically here. I'm a "guest." It's a long story, and rather boring.

When we got here, there were people congregated outside the hotel, talking quietly. We went on in and they immediately said they'd put us in a room immediately. What? Okay, fine with me. I really didn't want to sit in the lobby. Somebody would come clean the room within an hour or two. Was that okay? Sure, fine. Linens had already been changed, but vacuuming still had to be done. (There was coffee in the pot, too, but I didn't see that until they left later.) 

Here's the weird part. The reason they were getting everyone stuck in rooms quickly and quietly was to get them out of the way of the group outside, who were waiting for the coroner to come out. Their mother had died during the night in a tent at the RV park on the other side of the hotel from our room. They were going to check out and went to wake her up when they found her. They were out there for several hours. 

The only other interesting thing that happened was learning that the hotel registration clerk had messed up our dates and we are slated to check out Friday morning, not Saturday. John's work is going very well. Since he's running ahead of schedule, he discussed the situation at work today, and they agreed we can head home Friday. Whoopee! Happy Trails to us. 

Of course, Mom wasn't thrilled to hear I will miss the Friday Bingo games with her, but I'll spend tomorrow afternoon with her. I'm even bringing her a pre-cooked batch of my chicken tacos. All she'll have to do is heat it up, fry the tortillas, and put the sauce on them. First, though, I'm going to sit down and have a nice visit with Christ Francom in the morning. That's been a long time coming. It seems I only get to see her every couple of years for more than a few minutes. That's a shame, since I enjoy her so much.

Tomorrow night we'll cap it off with a visit to John's old college pal, Dan Moretti, and his wife Pat. They visited us in Loveland, and invited us for dinner tomorrow night. (Gee, with Jean, Mom, Ellen, and now Pat all feeding us on this trip, I think we're actually going to end up money ahead—probably pounds ahead, too. Oops.)

I have to admit, this has been a very short trip, but one of the best we've had. Don't worry, Sherrie. I've saved Wednesday for you!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Weekend With Ellen and Johnny

This is why we came to California. I know. The trip was really for the missiles. It was to see Mom, Jean and Sherrie and touch base with friends. But after less than 24 hours here in Tapo Canyon, in my heart I know that this is why I came willingly. I don't just love my sister. I miss her all the way to my soul.

We can sit next to each other with books on our laps, reading and occasionally saying something to each other, and just feel contented. There's a spark that wasn't there as kids. We were too different then. I was too studious. She was just enough older than I was, that I was "the pest." I loved camping. She didn't. I loved playing the accordion--loudly. (Need I say more?) Now, I wonder if we've changed, or if the differences just don't matter anymore. Perhaps we're still just as different, but we've learned to celebrate the differences... or ignore them. Actually, I guess, we learned somewhere along the way to laugh at them, at ourselves and at each other.

We both turned into good cooks, so no matter whose house we wind up at, we eat very well indeed. Her taco feast last night was excellent, and livened up by the presence of four of her grandchildren. Today we'll cook together, and continue our rambling conversations. It's another visit in a long line of them that are spread too far apart.

Both of us married men named John. Last night my John came to bed really pleased because her John had suggested she come back to our place for another visit soon, since he's too busy to come himself right now. He lives in California, but commutes to Reno for work. Many times he's not even home on weekends lately. He's busy. He's brilliant. They love each other, and it makes me glad. We'll have to figure out when she can come. Luckily, his commuting gives them plenty of frequent flyer miles, so she can fly into Denver for free, and we can swoop down and collect her at the airport.

We'll leave in the morning for our final week of John working at the base. Then Saturday we'll head home. At least that's the plan now. Plans can change, I realize, but life is good. I'll be glad to walk in my own door, but I wouldn't have missed this weekend for the world.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Life in the Hotel

Tomorrow I'll have the car, but yesterday and today I sat in the hotel. It's amazing how much I actually got done. I was too busy writing and working on my audio book downloads to even blog last night. I fell asleep. Bad mama. 

It's great having the laptop with me. I have one of those tiny little 500 gig removable drives with my iTunes library on it. I used Mom's library card and borrowed ten audio books on Tuesday, and got nine of them downloaded onto my system. The other one kept skipping, and I finally gave up on it. I'll return them all tomorrow. I've already "read" all the ones on disc at our own library. Actually, it's probably time to see if they've gotten any new ones.

I used to think audio books were just for blind people. After the neurologist told me to listen to three hours a day after my long seizures, I found out how expensive they were to buy. I still budgeted in more than I should have, but borrowed constantly from the library. I also collected coupons and rented from the local Cracker Barrel. 

I was told about the government program, once called Books for the Blind, and got the paperwork for that. Unfortunately, the only physical disability they accept is if you're incapable of holding a book. I suppose I could have my neurologist fight that, since I know someone else who is on the program because her back hurts and she walks with a cane. I haven't figured that one out yet. I'm glad she got on the program, but it doesn't help me. We live too far apart.

Tomorrow I'll do my running around in the morning. I have to visit Lisa to pick up the pennies I left on her couch (pressed souvenir pennies from Ben and Ruth for John). Luckily she's up by 7:30. Then I'll run over to the Assisted Living facility to see if I left my music book there the last time I played for them. If it's not there, then I'm out of ideas. I'm sick about that one. I also want to run by to see Chris Francom, if she's home, and then I'll meet up with Mom. (Do you really care what I plan to do?)

Needless to say, I won't be sitting in the room tomorrow. I miss my view. Our first week is nearly done. My only disappointment, and it's big, is that Schmath flies in the day we drive out. Bummer. No baby hug. 

Monday, June 1, 2009

On the Base

John's at work, and I'm doing my first blog from the Beach Hotel, on base. The room is snug. That means that, although it's small, it has all we need. California weather is at its finest from my point of view. They call it June gloom, but I love the fog and damp. My body complains, but my brain loves it for some strange reason. 

Tonight we'll have dinner with Mom and catch up on the last several months of her life. Of course, we speak on the phone all the time, but it's never the same. After dinner, we'll run by the grocery store for bread and a few other items that wouldn't pack easily. Most of the food we'll eat this week was brought along to save money, food being much cheaper in Colorado. I just hate squashed bread. Being on base allows John to come to the room for lunch. On Tuesdays and Fridays, though, I have the car and pack him a lunch, so I'll get the bread tonight and make sure he's got enough food to enjoy during the day. Then tomorrow I'll stop by to visit Lisa in the morning, spend some time at the library, and then play bingo in the afternoon with Mom.

Our visit with Jean and Dave Roscoe this weekend was great. It's been too long since we've had time to really sit down and reminisce with them about when our kids were young together. We've known each other about 25 years, so there's a lot of fun and history to share when we have time. John and Dave spent yesterday out on Dave's boat on Lake Casitas. They didn't catch anything, and had a great time doing it.

Ben called this morning before we left their house, telling us of their trip to Belgium. It sounds like they had a wonderful weekend. It's always wonderful when a young family can have such great adventures together. Their kids might be too young to really remember riding in a a horse drawn carriage in Brussels or Bruges, or wherever that was, but they'll never forget that their family always had fun together. Now that Ben's done with his Master's Degree, he has more time for fun. The evenings of studying and weekends of classes are behind them. If I sound proud, well, I just can't help it. It's not so much what he's done as that he's done so much without compromising his priorities.

Time to finish emptying suitcases into drawers for the week ahead. That's always so much fun, but I've procrastinated enough.