Postcards from the edge…

The Boy completes basic training soon. i’ve had several calls, and even a couple of letters, and he’s doing very well – most importantly, he loves the challenge of the training, and is comfortable with his decision to enter the military.

During his training, i was diligently writing a couple of letters each week.  He said mail call was usually a pretty relaxed part of the day, and the Drill Sergeants were starting to have more fun messing with the recruits.  Postcards were read aloud, with much drama and commentary.

With a week of farting around on an island, Studley and i had a perfect opportunity to entertain the troops.  Selecting two classic postcards from the resort gift shop, we set about crafting some silliness.

Card #1:

Dear Boy,

Having a good time, but the trip had a very rough start!  Studley went off with a flight attendant!  i was heart-broken, but the boat captain, Carlos, has been so comforting!  He’s about your age, but real mature!  He might end up being your next Daddy!  Hope to bring him to your graduation in March!

Love,

Mom

Surf's up!Card #2:

Dear Boy,

Was having a good time but then your Mom left me.  I went to ask this flight attendant her recommendation on where to eat, and next thing you know, your mom is leaving with a local kid, AND MY WALLET!  I’m waiting on a money order so I can get home.  Hope all is well with you.

Studley

ready to retireWhen he called yesterday to sort logistics for his graduation, i asked if he’d gotten the post cards.

The Boy:  Oh, yeah!  That was pretty funny!

daisyfae:  Did the Drill Sergeant read them out loud?

The Boy:  He read the one from Studley to himself first.  Read it a couple of times, and then handed it to me.  Said “Seems PFC Fae has some messed up family issues at home!”  He must have figured it was a joke when he saw the one from you – and he read that one out loud!  It was pretty funny!

daisyfae: Mission accomplished!

Bubbles

In 9th grade, i won the “Klutz of the Year” award at the High School Band Awards dinner.  i tripped over a music stand on my way to receive the trophy.

i have never been graceful.

In 2006 i got my SCUBA certification.  The same year i got divorced, became an empty-nester, and got cancer.  It wasn’t until 2009, when Studley became a certified diver, that i had a chance to put more than my toe in the water.

And it was life-changing…  We had quite an adventure in Cozumel!  Weighing myself down with far too much lead, unable to find neutral buoyancy, and being terrified during a night dive with a five mile per hour current did not dampen my enthusiasm for diving.

i wanted needed more. i’ve gotten it.

Not a cheap hobby by any stretch, so dive trips to sunny, warm-water locales with pretty colored fish have been a bit of a luxury.  Even so, we’ve managed some extraordinary excursions over the past five years.

The most recent adventure last week to The Cayman Islands is now tucked under my weight belt.  On this trip?  i hit the milestone “100th Dive”.  Celebrated with the dive boat crew, and my fellow divers.  It was a good thing that i was still dripping with sea water, or they might have noticed that i was crying…

How did i get here?

100

It wasn’t just the milestone dive that triggered tears.  That was just a number.  It was more than that…

No longer struggling to manage my air, i was returning to the boat with almost a third of my tank untouched after an hour underwater.  Buoyancy isn’t such an issue.  i can get in a very Zen-like trance floating alongside a coral wall at 100′… a wall that has no bottom for another 6,000 feet.  The gear doesn’t confuse me – i can easily rig my own stuff, and get in and out of the water without assistance — even perfecting the James Bond Backroll from the side of the boat!

It’s not really all of that.

Moving effortlessly underwater with a school of fish.  Face to face with a friendly grouper.  While most divers use a standard kick, or frog kick, to move along, i’ve adopted the double fin kick…

In the water, i move like a motherfucking mermaid.  For the first time in my life?  i am graceful. It feels good.

74

That’s me, doing the inverted photo-bomb as Studley and i explore a wrecked Russian frigate.  For once in my life, i am not clumsy.

It feels wonderful…

Catastrophe Avoided

My cat may be Christian. Or a Rastafarian.

Having been a ‘dog person’ for most of my life, co-habitating with a cat is a relatively new experience for me. Huey Newton, the gigantic orange cat that came to live with me a few years ago is pretty agreeable, easy to care for, and very affectionate… It’s been easy – sort of like caring for a mobile, entertaining, affectionate and fur-covered plant.

With limited experience around cats, i don’t always read the cues properly. Last weekend, even with my cat-egorical deafness, it was apparent that something was wrong.

He wasn’t in bed with me and the large brown dog on Friday morning. He hadn’t eaten his food. Usually, if i stand near his feeding station atop the washing machine in the laundry room, he will come running for breakfast and head scritches, but he was nowhere to be found.

i had to go looking for him — again, very much out of the ordinary. He wasn’t in his usual haunts in the downstairs guest room, or on top of the billiards table. After a 30 minute scavenger hunt, i eventually located him under my desk upstairs – looking a bit out of sorts. i was relieved, since i half-expected that he’d crawled into the walls to die.

Giving him extra attention that night, i convinced myself that he was terribly sick. Even with the blizzard conditions on Saturday morning, i hunted him down and loaded him into the cat carrier for a trip to the vet.

One thing i learned about cats? They don’t particularly care for riding in the car. Huey howled inconsolably, while i navigated the snow-covered streets. Needing to keep both hands on the wheel, i really couldn’t do much to console him. i’d pointed the ‘open’ door of the carrier toward me so he could at least keep visual contact, but that didn’t seem to help.

Talking to him. Trying to calm his kitty nerves. “It’s ok, Huey! We’ll get you checked out! Doc will know what to do! Want to get you feeling better!”

Turns out, i really don’t know what to say to a cat. i ran out of patter after a few minutes, and found myself repeating these calming platitudes. What DO you say to a sick cat?

i gave up, and took to singing.

Starting in my wheelhouse, i hit the show tunes. Rogers and Hammerstein, Stephen Schwartz, Andrew Lloyd Webber*. He continued to howl. Decided to switch it up and go with a little country. Patsy Cline and Hank Williams, Sr. had no effect on the poor bastard.

i drove past a church sporting a sign reading “Jesus Loves You”. Letting the stream-of-consciousness loose, i launched a song from my childhood…

“Jesus loves me, this I know! For the Bible tells me so…”

Silence from the passenger seat.

“Little ones to him belong! They are weak but he is strong.”

My cat was quiet. i checked to make sure he hadn’t died.

The light turned green, and i briefly spun my wheels. With my attention refocused on the task at hand, i lost lock on the lyrics. The next song that popped into my head was a song i’d been working on with my guitar teacher. “Don’t let the sun catch you cryin’…”

Vociferous complaints from my cranky passenger.

Well. There’s a data point. Might need to consider removing that one from my set list…

i chatted with him a bit, asking after his preferences. “C’mon, Huey! It’s going to be ok, li’l fella!”

Figuring that with the cold weather and snowstorm, perhaps the islands were calling…

“No kitty, No cry…”, taking some situational license from Mr. Bob Marley.

And once again, i was greeted with quiet from the peanut gallery. Finished up the song just as i pulled into the parking lot.

The vet was pretty efficient in diagnosing him with a serious, and systemic, tooth/gum infection. Even though he’s only about 4 years old, some cats are prone to this.

Jacked him up on fluids and antibiotics, ran some bloodwork, and scheduled a dental extraction for the following Tuesday. Nine teeth gone, and a groggy, but happy, kitty came home with me that night.

My cat may be Christian. Or a Rastafarian. Based on his taste in music? It could go either way…

20140204-130845.jpg

*Note: Nothing from “Cats”. i hate that musical…

Autoerotica

Six distinct moments in my life.  i can tell you exactly where i was, what was happening, how the air smelled, the time of day, who else was present.  But mostly?  What I felt… because i experienced “love at first sight”.

It hits hard, fast, and with tremendous power.  Electricity.  Every sense tingling.  Heart racing.  Butterflies wearing combat boots trampling your guts. Trying not to give yourself away.  Knowing that you are momentarily insane, but not being able to stop yourself from falling headlong into that warm, boiling abyss.

Each time, i gave myself over to it.   Each time, i was fortunate discover the feelings to be mutual.

Dragging out the first part of the relationships – forcing myself to slow down.  The ‘getting to know you’ bit is intoxicating.  Fighting the urge throw myself into the fire with abandon and feel it all at once.  Let it consume me.

Six distinct moments in my life.  Three of these moments involved men.  One was a motorcycle.  The other two?  Fast cars.

My first auto-erotic experience was with a 1992 Dodge Stealth ES.  She was sexy, sleek and handled like a Formula One machine.  Slung low, with a wide stance and giant racing tires, she hugged the curves – knowing where to go before i touched the wheel.  That beast could read my mind, and we enjoyed an eleven year (and 88,000 mile) affair.

It ended because she became unreliable.  i was traveling 120 miles each day to assist with care for my father in 2001 and could not afford to be without transport.  With my spawn approaching the legal driving age, getting the speedy wheels out of the driveway was prudent.

At first, i tried to find a new owner for her.  More than selling the car, i was interviewing prospective parents – “Do you have a garage?”  “Tell me why you think you deserve to own this vehicle?” These questions didn’t attract serious buyers.  With a heavy heart, i traded her in, leaving the dealership in tears behind the wheel of my new car.  A car that could never take her place.

~~~~~

Studley and i arrived at a SCUBA party last July fashionably late.  Parking in the field adjacent to the house, we made our way through a warren of parked cars.  In the twilight, there was a radiant gleam – a softly shining silver machine that caught my full attention.

“Damn!  Would you look at that? Sorry honey, i might be leaving here with someone else!”

Not a straight line to be found on her pristine body.  Daring me to touch her.  Teasing my aching hand with her delicious curves.  Desire stirred within, but i had to keep walking. This was difficult due to the size of my virtual erection.  She belonged to another. With a final glance over my shoulder, i moved on…

Upon arrival, we learned that the owner of  the silver temptress was a young friend, Rob!  Since I’m not a Cougar, Studley was assured company on the drive home, but we had a fine time chatting about the latest acquisition to his collection of vehicles.

My unrequited lust momentarily quenched…

~~~~~

It was an unexpected delight to see her again in November!  Rob and i had planned a coffee date, and he wheeled up in his shiny siren to pick me up.  Turns out, the lust hadn’t gone far, and the fire was instantaneously re-ignited.

He mentioned that he might sell her, as he’d recently had to buy a car for his sister, and needed to cut back his collection.  He let me drive her.  i made an offer before the accelerator hit the floorboard.  We set a date.  That date was last Tuesday.

Sitting with the loan agent at my bank: “Rather than a ‘private sale’, this is more of an ‘open adoption’, as he will maintain visitation rights. Unsupervised visitations, of course!”  She smiled politely, and continued processing the paperwork, no doubt thinking that i was insane.

new baby

Tuesday night, i drove that sexy silver ’07 Jaguar XK home – with my somewhat forlorn ’05 Honda Civic looking on from the street.  She is getting used to her new home, sharing space with my ’83 Jeep CJ-7, and the ’91 Suzuki VX800 already comfortably settled in my garage.

i look forward to getting to know her, taking my time… savoring each moment.  Once the weather improves a bit…

How do you know it’s love?

It’s cold here.  Unusual Arctic stream alignment has brought freakish cold to places that aren’t used to freakish cold.  With a side of high winds to make it more festive!

How cold is it?

Ambient temp is -10°F (-23 C).  It will be about -20° F (-29 C) tomorrow.  There is a good 30 knot wind to assure that any exposed skin feels even colder.  Wind chill is estimated to be – 45° F (- 43 C).

To put it in context?  Here are some points of reference.

Great Wall, Antarctica………………….33° F (0 C)
Mt. Olympus, Mars (estimated)………21° F (- 6 C)
Avery Ice Shelf, Antarctica……………14° F (-10 C)
Ajan, Russia (Siberia)…………………..2° F (-16 C)
Curiosity Rover, Mars (estimated)….-19° F (-28 C)

It’s warmer in Antarctica and Mars.

But i’m fortunate.  My office closed due to extreme conditions, and my home is warm and well-insulated.  i have plenty to eat, internet for connectivity, enough booze to keep the Russian Navy afloat and no shortage of projects to do around the homestead.  i can hibernate in luxury!

Oh, wait.  My dog is not toilet, or litter box, trained.  He must go out.  As an old man, he has a fairly regular schedule for his digestive processes, requiring two walks per day (along with some short mercy breaks for his ancient bladder).

Being a skier wannabe, i have perfectly suitable gear for going out in this stuff, but i was worried about the pup.  In less-freakish cold, he has had some issues with the pads of his paws on the ice.  i was afraid he’d stick to frozen ground!

Pawz to the rescue!  i found some lovely, inexpensive and stylish kicks for my dog!  Other than the dog wrasslin’ required to get them on his feet, they fit well and don’t seem to bother him once in place.

Mr. P in his purple kicks

A bit tentative at first, he still managed to do his thing…

Mr P sproinging

Smilin’ and stylin’ before long…

Mr P Snow

i used to say “How much do i love my dog?  i pick up his turds twice a day!  If that’s not love?  i don’t know what is!”

Now? i can further qualify that statement.  “i pick up his turds in Martian-cold temperatures twice a day”.

And i’m delighted that i still get to do it…

Tao te Drill Sergeant

Digging through digital photographs as i put together my Christmas letter, i was blown away.  It was a spectacular year – one i couldn’t imagine just a few years back.  Adventure, travel, community activism, family, friends and a stunning amount of downright goofy hijinks.  Yes.  Hijinks.  Activities that serve no purpose but to lighten the mood and break the monotony of the daily grind.

Rolling beyond the winter solstice, i am inclined to look forward.  What do i want?  More of this?  Less of that?  Not exactly resolutions… just using the pinning point of a new calendar year to make some gentle course corrections to get me where i want to be…

With the return of The Boy from his first round of Army training, we’ve had fun with “Shit My Drill Sergeant Says”.  My favorite quip is the shortest.  The recruits hustle to get out of bed, shower, shave, and get organized into their uniforms and assemble in formation by 0400.  Taking a look at the congregants one morning, the Drill Sergeant informed them “You have 10 seconds to un-fuck yourselves!”

Un-fuck yourself.

You can blame life, the universe, and everyone else for your woes, but it is entirely up to you to un-fuck yourself.   i am using the Drill Sergeants admonition as my battle cry…

That broken finger from October?  Not healed in December.  Called the doctor, and have an appointment with a hand surgeon.  It’s a ruptured tendon, and can be repaired with surgery.  Time to un-fuck my finger.

Stuff.  i have too much of it.   i’ve made a decent dent in the 30+ year collection of “things”, but not nearly enough.  i hit one closet this week.  The garage is next, where my motorized toys reside.  Too much shit there, too.  With the pending acquisition of a new toy that is 13” longer than my existing vehicle, more space is required.  A little organization of the workbench wouldn’t hurt either.

Time to un-fuck my space.  Give away the unnecessary.  And most of it is unnecessary…

Then there is the matter of my health.  Virtually no exercise, coupled with unbridled gluttony has packed the pounds on this year.  My weight, and general lack of cardio-vascular health, has gotten in the way of living the life i wish to live.  It is well past time to un-fuck myself in that regard as well.  For Christmas, The Boy bought me kettle bells, and will be doing some personal training in my lovely home gym.

It is time to un-fuck my body.

While out on an excursion a couple of years ago, Studley and i found the Alan Cottrill sculpture gallery in Zanesville, Ohio.  We were drawn in by the sight of several bronze sheep seeming to wander down the sidewalk.  One wearing ice skates…

sheep

It was hotter than hell that day, but we toured the gallery.  Climbing to the second floor, we found the bronze sarcophagi the sculptor had crafted for himself and his wife.  Both still living.

sarcophagi

On the side of Mr. Cottrill’s bronze box was the following:

battle cry

It says everything that needs to be said.

“Life is short.  Death is forever.  Nothing left undone.  Go joyfully.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, i’m off to un-fuck myself this year. i shall post a quarterly update on my ‘un-fuckage’.  Happy New Year!

Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

As The Girl boarded a bus in San Diego, headed for Mexico, it washed over me like a cold shower – “The next time i see her, she will be changed.”  A day later, she started her Semester at Sea, sailing around the world on a ship with 700 undergraduate students.  Six weeks later, i watched her disembark from that ship as it docked in Saigon Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.  We spent a week knocking around Vietnam and Cambodia together – and seeing her confidence, i realized that i had been right.

We spent our last night there drinking beer in a cowboy bar, listening to a Vietnamese country and western band knock out respectable covers, including a memorable version of “Stand By Your Man”.  Her adventures continued the next day, and i began my journey home.  At 20 years old, she was well on her way to becoming an engaged, contributing citizen of Planet Earth.

She was changed.  She was broader, and deeper, and stronger, and smarter…

Six weeks ago, i watched as The Boy boarded a plane for basic training.  The exact same feeling – “The next time i see him, he will be changed.”  He’d signed an eight year commitment.  All in.  A very challenging, and unknown path ahead of him.  Much like the Semester at Sea, i also knew that he would have very limited opportunities to communicate – adding to the parental anxiety.

Yesterday, i stood at the airport awaiting his arrival.  Two weeks of leave for Christmas break.  Happy holiday travelers filled the exit chute.  i hopped around in the coffee shop, nervously scanning the crowd, looking for military uniforms.  A few soldiers came by, but not mine…

“Oh, I just want to hug them all, don’t you?” said the sweet woman standing next to me.  She told me she was waiting for her mother to arrive for the holidays, but she just loved seeing the young soldiers in uniform.  i agreed, and continued to bop around nervously, waiting for the next pack to walk down the hallway.

i saw him.  Not breaking his bearing, he spotted me and cracked a tiny smile.  i bounced around the coffee bar and gave him a hug. “How did you get taller?  And what did they do with the rest of your hair?”  

“It’s the boots”.

As we turned to head for the exit, i spotted my coffee bar companion.

“And by the way, this lovely lady wants to hug you, too!”

We headed for the car, where i had secured his ‘welcome basket’ – a good India Pale Ale and a pack of smokes.  Non-stop conversation on the drive home.  Tales of bureaucracy, head games, physical challenges and “Shit My Drill Sergeant Said”.  Sick Bay and Hand Grenades.  Running his first seven minute mile (he was at nine minutes just a few weeks back).  And leaning forward into what lies ahead.

He is changed.  He is broader, and deeper, and stronger, and smarter…

Coming Home

Cat and Mouse

Woke up around 3am. Warm, snoring dog lump against my back as expected but the heavy cat lump between my feet was missing. Briefly considered going back to sleep, but i realized i hadn’t seen my cat, Huey Newton before bedtime. Fearing that he was trapped in a closet, or worse, i got up to investigate his usual spots in the bedroom.

He was in the living room, riveted by something behind my guitar. Gradually waking up, i thought he had cornered a bigass spider… He was focused like a laser, so I turned on a light. Preparing myself for the worst, i jostled the guitar to see what he was watching.

Oh, it was big alright! Huge for a spider, but small for a mouse… a tiny mouse. He tore out from under the guitar, under the Christmas tree, with Huey in hot pursuit. Huey was playing with him, not eating him. Batting at him, keeping him in play. No sanctuary, preventing him from going under furniture.

Fully awake, i realized i needed to do… something… but not sure what. Huey continued to move the little mouse from place to place, but he had nowhere to go. He cornered the mouse by the fireplace. i grabbed a cardboard box, trying to work with Huey to chase him into the box. Fail. They both scooted back to the middle of the room… and downstairs.

Shaking off the last remnants of sleep, i followed downstairs. Huey was lying casually on his side by the billiards table, keeping the exhausted mouse in front of him. i put down the box and Huey made a move, driving the mouse into relative safety.

Cute little thing. Tiny. Not moving, but still breathing, apparently worn out from extended battle. Now what to do with him at 0300? It was really cold out, our first night of sub-zero temperatures. Seemed heartless to put him outside, but i couldn’t keep him. Thought about putting him in the garage, but remembered my mouse troubles from last year… A small rodent drove me nuts all winter.  Why invite trouble?

Not knowing what else to do, i took the box out the front door, shook the little mouse gently into the bushes, thinking he could burrow down near the brick wall for warmth. He was so tiny, he just landed on top of the shrub. And didn’t move.

It was freezing. i was barefoot, and wearing nothing but a bra and shorts. Went back inside. Felt rotten. The little thing had just spent hours being terrorized by a cat, and was now going to freeze to death.

i checked this morning and he was gone. Didn’t root around in the bush looking for a corpse, allowing myself the delusion that he was ok. Somewhere. Burrowed into the mulch, weathering the cold night. Perhaps to enter the house again, in his limbic-driven need for food and warmth. Or to find safe harbor elsewhere, surviving the winter to grow and breed and make many happy mousebabies in the spring.

It’s just a mouse. An unwelcome pest intruding into my territory. Had it been a spider, i’d have had no concerns – encouraging my cat to play with it, torture it, and ultimately kill it, leaving the corpse as a warning to others.

Selective compassion – based upon what criteria? Cuteness? Number of legs? Difficulty disposing of the body? Perceived threat?

How do we decide what lives and dies in our worlds?

Mr Mouse takes a tripimage found here

EPILOGUE

Another night with restless animals, this time, the dog decided to blow chunks somewhere around 4am.  i didn’t bother getting up to deal with it, knowing he’d ‘recycle’ most of it, and i could get out the portable shampooer (my beloved SpotBot) before leaving for work.  Which i did…

After tackling the biggest spots, i had extra cleaning solution in the reservoir, so i parked the SpotBot on a newer splotch halfway down the stairs.  It looked like it had once been a hairball, with some pieces of leaves thrown in for good measure.

Retrieving the ‘bot, i reached down to pick up a leaf stem.  Which wasn’t a leaf stem at all… It was the tail of a very small mouse.  Might have been the same critter from the night before, or a new intruder.  In any case, my cat ate this one.  And after reading Rob’s comment, and doing a bit more research via the Center for Disease Control?  i’m quite happy that it’s dead…

Turns out that  “Cute<<Threat”  in the presence of new data.

Hospital-ity

Renovation to Mom’s house is nearly complete, an occupancy permit has been granted, and after over four years, there is a glimmer of hope that she will get to live in her own home again before she dies! (Plot synopsis here, if you’re new!)

Why, after fourfuckingyears, has this become a priority for my niece, DQ, and her husband, BJ? Progress was sporadic from the start, since BJ needed time off for vacations, deer hunting – not to mention his paying jobs. I had considered several options to increase his motivation over the past few years, but Mom didn’t want to make anyone mad.

The motivation came from an unexpected source – BJ’s parents. When DQ and BJ first married, BJ’s parents bought the house out of foreclosure, offering to rent the house back to them. This arrangement worked fairly well – until September, when BJ’s parents announced their plans to get a divorce. The house must be sold. By Christmas. Essentially, they’re being evicted!

Taking Mom to the cardiologist when this was breaking news, she let me know that DQ had been putting pressure on to change the deed to the house before moving in. For her protection. My reaction was a bit less than enthusiastic…

daisyfae: FUCK THAT!

Mom: I know. I don’t see any reason it can’t wait until after we move in, but she’s worried that the rest of the family will cause trouble and she’ll be homeless.

daisyfae: She has earned compensation for taking care of you!  No one is arguing that! She can always sell the land you gave them. [grinding teeth] You just tell me what you want to do and i’ll make it happen…

Mom: She’s putting pressure on me to set up an appointment with the attorney.

daisyfae: Under no circumstances are you to go to see the attorney to change your will, or the deed to the house, without me present. This will not only protect you, but it will protect DQ should anyone ever think there was coercion.

Mom: That makes sense. I just don’t want her to get upset with me…

daisyfae: Tell her it’s my schedule. i really am busy at work, so taking a day off is going to be tough.

And that’s where we left it…

The message was apparently delivered. A few days later i started getting passive-aggressive pings from DQ about setting up an appointment with the attorney. i was polite – and my schedule really has gotten tough.

This is unpleasant and stressful.  i became engaged in another round of “Trailer Park Mexican Standoff” via e-mail. Trying to take the heat for Mom, without causing any trouble. My instinct is to call bullshit, and be a far more direct, but Mom requested the sideways approach.

It didn’t surprise me to get a call from DQ as i was leaving work last Thursday. Because i was driving, i let it go to voicemail. Just not in the mood to deal with the bullshit. Retrieved the voicemail when i got home.

DQ: Took Granny to the doctor today because her cough has gotten worse, and she’s been very weak. Doctor sent us directly to ER. They’re going to admit her – probable pneumonia. I’ll keep you posted.

Well.

So much for my righteous indignation. When shit hits the fan, DQ does an excellent job taking care of Mom. All squabbles set aside. Priorities firm. We’ll sort out the legal stuff later.

Visited Mom over the weekend, and she took a few minutes to write a note to The Boy. Wished him a happy birthday. Told him she’s proud of him. Didn’t mention her troubles.

hospital-ity

She’s home now, and is doing much better. We came up with a new plan of attack.  We’ll get back to the regularly scheduled bullshit later…

Vignettes

Steam rolled my way through the month of October.  As the dust settles, i am somewhat surprised to find myself in mid-November.  Beyond the obvious plot twist launching my son on a new path, there have been a metric ton of other things happening… A brief update seems in order until i can catch my breath and organize my thoughts.  This isn’t a full list – far from it.  Just pixels and snippets and nuggets and slices… a reminder that i remain a very lucky woman.

- Since returning from the trip to Florida to visit my sister, a ‘sprained’ finger has failed to heal quickly.  Aggravating as hell, the sprain wouldn’t quit hurting, stop swelling and get better.  That’s because it isn’t a sprain, it’s broken.  Had to put on a splint, which gets in the way of… well… everything.  It also draws a bit of attention, and has started a few conversations with strangers.  “What happened?”  “Well, the short version is ‘i broke it’.  The long version is a tale that must be told over a pint or two…”  A tale that ends with me proving my machismo and winning a bet…

???????????????????????????????

- After two weeks, i got a call from The Boy Sunday night.  Ninety entire seconds of talk time, with the sound of a barking drill instructor in the background.  Now that he is settled in ‘downrange’, he can get letters.  Wrote up two pages last night.  Not typed.  Hand written.  This is not trivial, given the broken finger on my right hand.  It felt weird.  It felt good.  When was the last time i wrote a letter?  Can’t remember.  Once i started writing – it came back to me.  Downright enjoyable…

- Had some strange weather recently.  Powerful thunderstorms, with almost a hundred tornadoes, rumbled across the midwest on Sunday.  Bad things happened across the region.  Looking for storm damage the next morning, i was greeted with this catastrophe on my front porch!  The horror!  The carnage!  One friend summed it up nicely – “If your Christmas Tree falls over and smashes your Pink Flamingo…You might be a redneck.”

redneck

- Studley and i continue our horseback riding lessons – with an added element of adventure.  Our instructor has introduced a new game to our weekly lessons – Hoofball.  The object is to work in teams of two, getting the horses to move a large ball toward a goal line.  Horses are not particularly smart animals, so they have to be slowly socialized to the ball.  Over the course of the past few weeks, we’ve been part of that training process.  Last night?  We played our first hoofball match!  Very fun, and very scary – turns out, it takes a long time for a horse to get used to having a giant ball rolling around the arena!  They’re getting better, though.  And we’re getting better at staying on spooked horses!

hoofball

image found here

- A year ago, i got involved with an ad hoc group of nutjobs artists and musicians to bring the first “Dia de los Muertos” event to our lovely city.  This year?  Bigger and better.  They needed a parade vehicle – something that could tow a flatbed trailer carrying a dozen musicians.  My Jeep was the perfect solution.  Rather than just tow the parade float, i got it in my head that i was going to have one of the giant skeleton puppets that were created last year “drive”…

parade

There were some unexpected challenges, but we pulled it off!  Not content to have the skelly just ride along, i also decided that he needed to wave to the crowd.  In the detailed photo below, you can see that Studley had duct taped the left arm of the puppet to my arm… which could explain why i’ve had a rather severe bout with tendonitis in my left shoulder and elbow for the past few weeks… We’re already planning for next year – i will have a fully animated skeleton, shooting fire from his nostrils!

skelly

- Another entry in the “What the fuck was i thinking?” binder…  Last March, i started a project to modify an upright piano into… something else.  Taking most of the summer off for travel, i’ve recently re-tackled the project.  The past two weekends have found me up to my arse in sawdust and power tools… but it’s coming along nicely.  This will get a full post when it’s done – which should be by Christmas.  Unless i perform an accidental amputation…

sawzall motherfucker

- What’s up in The Trailer Park?  Lots.  Good news and bad news, and “are you fucking kidding me?” news.  There may be an end in sight – and Mom may get to move back into her own home after four years of endless promises and threats.  A little afraid to say anything because i don’t want to jinx it….