Riding the Storm Out

The Boy was home for the past two weeks – taking a well-earned break between contracts.  He’s been working as a power company field auditor, knocking out 50-60 hours a week on the job and needed the downtime before heading out again on his next assignment.

Given his new profession on the road, he wanted a chance to visit with Mom while he was back in town, so i arranged to bring her up to visit for a few days.  Good time spent hanging out together, but The Boy was working pretty hard to keep her in hot coffee and food while i was at work on Friday.

Arriving home after a day at the office, i learned that The Boy had been put on “One Hour Deployment” notice — he is among the power industry workers sent into the hurricane zone to prepare for the “Frankenstorm” heading toward the eastern coast of the US.

As he filled me in on what little logistical details he had, he started to laugh.

The Boy:  Yeah, I was in the middle of fixing Granny a grilled cheese sandwich.  Told her that I had gotten notice to be ready to go within an hour and she said “Well, you better finish up that sandwich first”.

Took Momma to see a show at our local theater, which shares space with a Senior Citizens center.  As part of the Halloween decor, the seniors had added Mr. Bones to the lobby.  This was pretty brilliant…

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The Boy has come a long way over the past year – i’m delighted to see him settle into his skin as the fine young man he has always carried inside him.  As we discussed his first “Hurricane Deployment”, after just signing onto this job last summer, he was simultaneously excited and anxious about the job ahead.

“I’m driving into a fucking hurricane!  Holy shit!”

Making lists of gear he still needed to buy, i suggested he needed to get a badass rain suit like Jim Cantore, famous hurricane chaser from the Weather Channel.  Duct tape and trash bags.  He was already on it, also stocking his truck with cases of water, a carton of cigarettes, and road-suitable food stock.

He received more info on the nature of the job as he finished loading the truck.  His crew will be responding to emergency calls reporting downed lines.  Doing triage to determine if they are phone, fiber optic, or hot.  In the middle of a hurricane.

Shit.

In general, i’m not much of a worrier.  Gotta admit, there’s a little bit of pucker here.

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On the ‘stranger than fiction’ side, however, he is being sent into New Jersey.  A small town where my friend the unbearable banishment resides. E-mails have been sent, phone numbers exchanged, and fingers crossed for all involved…

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Because i couldn’t slap him from 2,000 miles away…

A former protegé is back in town, after living overseas for a few years.  As he is getting re-acquainted with our small-town vibe, i’ve been inviting him along on my recent adventures – and he was at the masquerade ball last weekend.

He’s incredibly bright, but occasionally a bit… brash.  Last night, i was eating my favorite beverage, a fine Fin du Monde ale (9% abv) while suffering through watching the final presidential debate.  For some reason, my Bullshit Tolerance Factor was surprisingly low.

This exchange on the book of faces happened in nearly real-time… While my young ‘un was on a business trip to Colorado…

G-Man:  It’s nice to be back in a state with thin/fit people.

daisyfae:  Screw you!  Us midwestern “Fluffies” are just full of candy corn and peanuts this time of year…

G-Man: LOL

daisyfae: Oh, and “Screw You**2” — this 50-year-old fat chick out-danced you Saturday night.  Word.

G-Man:  How are you fat?

daisyfae:  Makin’ with the sweet-talkin’ now?  i drink my weight in Jack Daniels and can eat my way through a Hibachi Buffet leaving a trail of flaming chopsticks…  THAT’S how i’m fat…

G-Man:  I was referring to this map…Relax.

daisyfae:  You can’t grow corn or raise pigs on a mountain.  Those scrawny-ass Coloradians need Doritos and bacon!

G-Man:  Mmmm….Doritos and bacon. ::drool::

Dia de los Muertos

Indeed.

Annual masquerade ball.  Fundraiser, attended by about a thousand people.  As of this morning, i am acutely aware of my own mortality, as i woke up feeling like death.

Sort of out of words at the moment.  And ibuprofen.

The roller derby training was a bit too little, too late to keep me on the roller skates for very long.  But i danced.  Ouch.

and the confetti cannons launch at midnight…

and the crazy old broad dances with the pretty nearly nekkid boys at 12:01…

 dia de los muertos indeed….

What is love?

This is the face of my 12-year-old puppy, Mr. Pickles, taken right before he darted after a tennis ball, into a roiling doggie mosh pit at the local bark park.


He came up with a bit of a limp – and two tennis balls in his mouth – so we cut the Friday afternoon session short, hopped back in the jeep and headed for home.  He was still limping through the weekend, so i took him to see the Dog Doc on Monday.

News wasn’t great, but could have been worse:  partial tear of the ligament, or a severe sprain.  No surgery required, unless it got worse.  Anti-inflammatory meds, and minimal activity prescribed for the next several weeks.

Try explaining that “minimal activity” thing to a dog that takes great pleasure in the art of the “Sproing”.  His preferred method to get in bed?  A running start and a flying leap.  With the bad wheel, he was simply doing it on his three good legs.

Some improvement through the week, so i left on my planned weekend trip, leaving my critters in the capable hands of my live-in pet-sitter. While i was out-of-town, Mr. P took up the art of splatter paint – from both ends of his body.  Pet Sitter filled me in on the details, and i made another appointment with the Dog Doc.

Worse news this time.  Mr. P is one of the rare dogs that do not tolerate those specific types of anti-inflammatory meds.  Through a series of diagnostic steps, ruling out worse things, we learned that his liver had suffered severe damage.  A rough road ahead.

This is the face of my 12-year-old puppy, Mr. Pickles, as we drove home from the vet that day, with the news that he was, in fact, a very, very sick puppy.

That was almost a week ago.  i’m happy to report that he’s doing well.  As a woman who rarely cooks, i boiled chicken and steamed rice for him.  Getting him eating again was a challenge, so we started with a few bites at a time.  Hand feeding him to keep him from gulping.  Burying pills in chicken and cheese.  Tracking every change in his excretions like a human spectrometer.

The Boy came home this week for a short stay, and was watching me slowly hand feed the brown dog a viscous glop of bland chicken and rice.

daisyfae:  Watch carefully.  You might have to do this for me someday.

The Boy:  I’ll be contracting that shit out.  Ship you off to Turkey, or wherever The Girl is living at the time.

It’s nice to have him home.  Really.

The healing process for my dog is going to take some time.  And i’ve already made a mortgage payment to the veterinary clinic for the care, diagnostics and medications.  So far…

But this is the face of my 12-year-old puppy, Mr. Pickles, as we settled down for bed last night.

We are a pack of two.

Diagnosis

Leaving a weekly staph staff meeting, i stood up with a slight flinch, as my vertebrae grudgingly gave in to verticality.  Shuffling out the conference room door, a colleague asked “What is it now?  Bicycles? Horses? Mountain climbing?”

“Well, a bit of this and a bit of that… Rode the motorcycle 60 miles Saturday, and then did a trek on the back of the tandem Sunday.  Still sore from roller skating last week, too.  But i’ve got to get my body loosened up for horseback riding lessons tonight…”

A much younger colleague laughed and said “Oh, you cute, crazy old folks!  Sitting around at the rest home, playing euchre and watching TV!”

Listening to the snap, crackle and pop of my knees as i started up the stairs, i continued “And then next weekend?  Off to Miami for some diving with my sister, and….”

i stopped cold.  Turned and looked at the two of them.

“Oh, shit!  i know what’s wrong!  i’m a tampon commercial!”

A bit reminiscent of the old joke:

Two little boys go into the grocery store. One is eight years old and the other  one is five years old. The eight year old grabs a box of tampons from the shelf and carries it to the register for checkout.

The cashier asks, “Oh, these must be for your mom, huh?”

The eight-year-old replies “Nope, not for my mom.”

Without thinking, the cashier responded “Well, they must be for your sister then?”

The eight year old quickly responded, “Nope, not for my sister either.”

The cashier had now become curious “Oh. Not for your mom and not for your sister? Who are they for?”

The eight year old says, “They’re for my five-year old little brother.”

The cashier is surprised “Your five-year old little brother?”

The eight year old explains: “Well yeah, they say on TV if you wear one of these, you can swim or ride a bike and my little brother can’t do either of them!”

Round and Round

Thirty one years ago today… Driving up that same hill.  Trees blasting color.  An unexpected forest of maples lining a four lane access road on the way into an industrial research park.

It was my first day of work.

Every October, there’s a flashback.  When the morning light is hitting those trees, the anniversary knocks me on the head.

i started as a student lab tech.  There was this guy, and we worked together in the laser test cells.  He was a long-haired genius, and kinda cool, and offered to give me a ride to work if i ever needed, because he lived near the university apartments.

i went over to have dinner with him in December of that year.  i stayed for 25 years.  We jokingly referred to me as the “thing that wouldn’t leave”.

Somewhere along the way, we bought a house, got married, had a kid, bought a different house, and then had another kid.  Raised those kids, bought a vacation house, separated, divorced, and moved on as those kids went off to university.

Through all of that?  i drove up the same hill every October.  Catching the incredible color of those maples in the morning light, and remembering the day i started work.

It’s pretty unusual to have such tenure with an employer.  The “Thirty Year Company Man” is nearly extinct.  It’s been a good ride, that’s for sure.  i’ve done nearly every job available…

Go Fer” Student Trainee.

Toxic Waste Removal Technician Research Assistant.

Junket Queen Research Area Lead.

Benevolent Dictator Program Manager.

Adult Day Care Manager Supervisor.

Referee Tech Advisor.

Evangelist and Marketeer Portfolio Manager.

Fortune Teller Strategic Planner.

Rather than looking forward to what’s next?  i now plan my retirement – five years left if all goes well.  Trying to earn the paycheck.  Trying to be useful.  Trying really hard to still give a shit.  Thankful to have it – but frequently spending time in meetings trying to stay awake by calculating the number of days i have left.

But there were those trees this morning, showing off their autumn finest in the bright sunlight.  They’re thirty-one years older, too.  Like me?  They’re a bit thicker around the middle.  They’ve weathered some storms and are still standing.

But i’m out in five.  They have to stick around…

amazing photo found here