Surface Interval

SCUBA diving is a complex endeavor. The human body was not designed to thrive under water for extended periods of time. Nitrogen presents one of the biggest risks – the pressures at depth drive nitrogen into the body (this is bad). To avoid decompression sickness (“the bends”), divers must ascend slowly – allowing time for the nitrogen to outgas from the body. There is also a necessary surface interval between dives – this is to make sure the body has time to release the extra nitrogen pushed into the cells while underwater.

For the past six months, i’ve been gone more than home – swimming in a virtual ocean of experiences. By design, i am home for five glorious weeks! A surface interval to give myself time to reflect on all that’s happened, all that’s planned, and to take care of doctors appointments, contractor visits, and general life maintenance!

The short version/travelogue:

February – Three weeks in Thailand! A SCUBA trip, spending one week living aboard a Junk diving in the Andaman Sea. We spent the second week on the island of Koh Lanta, and followed that with a week on our own in Chiang Mai. i love my Dive Tribe – people of all shapes, sizes, politics, and backgrounds chasing “experiences over things.” Saw my first Peacock Mantis Shrimp! Visited an Elephant Sanctuary. Learned to say “Two more beers, please” in yet another language.

March – Long weekend in South Dakota visiting my son and his family. Had to schedule around two blizzards, but we made it. Making the offer “we can watch the kids for a night if you guys want to go to a hotel…” and not being able to finish the sentence before they were packing overnight bags! They work hard (both working full time, going to school part time, taking care of two small children), and appreciated a night off. We enjoyed a night of chasing littles…

April – The Girl returned to work after her extended maternity leave. Studley and i spent the month living in Turkey, doing Gamma/Opie day care! Babies! They are A LOT of work! This one is exceptionally charming, but we were worn out in the evenings. Threw in a weekend out in the country (by train) to get our adventure fix, but it was mostly bottles, diapers, giggles, and naps!

May – Stopped in London for a weekend on our way home from Turkey, then turned around and headed to Alaska. Studley’s daughter, Pixie, earned a part in a local theatrical production. We decided to surprise her on opening night – and we did! Didn’t really think through the logistics of hiding in a fairly small Alaskan town for a day, but she had no idea we were there until she came out after the show was over – delivering a classic spit take when she saw her father standing in the lobby!

June – Just home after spending three weeks camping our way across the Maritime Provinces of Canada. We’ve had our little camper for almost two years, and it was time to put some miles on her! Five thousand miles, to be more specific. We saw bears, moose, whales, porcupines, and all manner of northern critters. Eaten by gigantic mosquitoes. Hiked some of the most gorgeous terrain i’ve ever seen. Made very few concrete plans, or campsite reservations, choosing instead to wing it most of the way. Added in a couple of visits with old friends and family members. We didn’t smell very good at the end of it all, but had a blast!

What’s next? i’m content to focus on getting my patio deck stained, complete some home renovation projects, and scratch my bits in my own space for a few weeks. The road has many lessons – and i’ve learned that one of my favorite places to go is home!

The Surface Interval. It is quite necessary…

No Regrets – Third Quarter Scores and Highlights

Hey… How you doin’?

i’m really having a hard time getting my butt in a chair lately. If you’ve been playing along at home, at the turn of the year i repeated my ‘three focus’ charter. To maintain accountability, i’m doing quarterly updates on progress.

Steady going through the end of the first quarter, with a bit of a mixed scorecard by end of the second quarter, getting stuck in a few spots. i’ve managed to get myself unstuck as i roll into autumn, so i’m not displeased with the report for the third quarter of 2015!

The categories:

Bridges – repairing relationships that have mattered to me.

Ducks – getting things in shape to assure the least hassle to my children after i die.

Vessel – assuring that my body can carry me through the adventures i desire.

My scorecard for the third quarter:

Bridges: Although there are still a few rocks i haven’t picked up yet – rocks that sit upon regretful closures – i’ve enjoyed reconnecting with a few old friends. Two notable cases popped up within the last week!  Denise, had a day of training nearby, and pinged me to see if i’d be around on a Friday night to get together for dinner and drinks. Timing was perfect, and on short notice we were able to arrange a slumber party – dinner, shopping (egad!) and a long night spent catching up. We’d been besties in 7th grade, and lost touch until Facebook brought us back together in 2009. Since then, we’d become occasional running buddies, but hadn’t had a chance to sit and yak for two years! Some darkness, some light, and a lot of turf covered.

On my way home from my evening fitness class tonight, stopped by the grocery to pick up some odds and ends. As i doubled back, lost, looking for the fucking marshmallows, i almost ran over an older gentleman pushing a cart. “FRANK?!?!? Oh my God! It’s been five years! How the hell are you?”  We had worked together 20 years ago, developing an innovative training program for our organization. Retired a few years back, he spent his time running a fruit farm, and spending winters in Florida. He used to send the occasional e-mail, or Christmas card, but we’d lost contact. After a quick synopsis of ‘what’s up?’ in the coffee aisle, we swapped updated e-mail addresses, and will likely get together soon. An unexpected ‘win’ for this category on the last day of the quarter!

Ducks: Mom’s estate is officially settled. Met with her attorney in July, signed a ton of paperwork, cut some checks, and closed it all out. There are still many non-estate financial dealings i need to work, but the legal bits are done. With a large storage locker still holding a ton of her personal items, and a monthly bill of $250 to pay for said locker, my goal for THIS quarter is to get that thing cleared out and off the books. Work day scheduled with my sister on Saturday.

Regarding my own estate ‘ducks’, a little bit of progress, but not nearly enough. Late this month i finally dug out all beneficiary forms for life insurance, retirement savings, and the like, and managed to change those to my kids, rather than my ex-husband. For this quarter, i must update the “doomsday” file – where i keep important information for whomever has to clean up after me when i’m dead. Likely to do another will before the year is out, too… i’ve learned a lot processing Mom’s estate, and need to put some things into practice for my own.\

ducking around

Just ducking around at a local festival…

Vessel: During the second quarter i spent four weeks in Europe, and indulged in far too much food and booze, Studley and i doubled down, and started another ‘cleanse’ at the beginning of September. i’d regained all of the weight i’d lost in the first half of the year, and refused to continue on that path! So far, i’ve managed to lose 10 pounds by going back to a ‘clean eating’ focus – no sugar, alcohol, refined grains, processed food, dairy or caffeine. Once again, i’ve missed cheese most of all – but am slowly adding back one serving per day… because cheese! Also upped the exercise substantially – which is part of the reason i’m not home in the evenings to write (or read blogs!).

There it is… Time flies… i’m happy, getting healthier, and loving life – even though i’ve had some darkness chewing at me along the way. Working 40 hours per week, member of two non-profit boards, and recently appointed by my local municipality to serve on an advisory commission, i don’t have a lot of discretionary time! Here’s to the home stretch of 2015! Hope you’re all doing well with whatever goals you set for the year…

Dance on, little sister….

If you didn’t know that there was a Puerto Rican restaurant in the worn building tucked between a highway and a tired strip mall in a working class neighborhood, you’d drive right by.

Most days, Antojitos does a steady business for lunch and dinner.  One Saturday night a month, they close to host a private party – reservations only.  Fabulous buffet dinner for $20.  Since it’s a private party?  Bring your own drinks.

The magic starts when the music begins.  Members of a regional salsa band consider it a ‘jam’.  They have friends, and other musicians drop in whenever possible.  Sometimes a small subset of the band gets going.  Other nights?  The small storefront is packed solid with a full horn section, percussion, keyboard and guitars.

At some point during the evening, you are no longer in a nearly invisible restaurant in a smallish town in the Midwest – you forget all that.  You’re in Old San Juan, or some cheerful dive in Central America, or in Little Havana….

Last weekend, i joined friends to celebrate a birthday at Antojitos.  Some had been to “Salsa Night” before, but for a few it was a first time.  It was a good night to be baptized.  Full horn section in the house, with guest artists from a local high school jazz band. My guitar teacher, and her husband, were there as well.  Almost two dozen musicians!

The place was packed!  Our group of 20 crammed two tables at the front of the restaurant.  Another 50 people were packed in – tables so close together we were nearly sitting on top of each other!

Getting our fill of the amazing food at the buffet, our attention turned to a matter of tremendous importance — making room for a dance floor!  We helped tear down two large tables, and rearrange to clear some space in the middle of the room.

The music started.  The magic happened.  Couples hopped up to dance.  Young children joined on percussion instruments.  Joy, laughter, music!  All ages in the house – including multi-generational families.

And so it went… music, dance, drinks, laughter.

By midnight, the crowd had thinned out a bit, but the dancers had kicked up the energy to fill the space.  Returning from the restroom, i was stopped by a young girl.  Maybe 10 years old…

“I like the way you dance.”

Confident and direct, this was completely unexpected!  i mentioned that she seemed to be pretty good on the percussion instruments, too!  i thanked her, and returned to the dance floor.

As the band kicked into the last song of the night, i was standing by a wall, deciding if i had one more in me.  My young friend stepped up, took my hand and led me out to the floor.  The kid had salsa moves!  Executing steps and turns with confidence and grace, she threw it down – and i had to work to keep up!

dance li'l sister

This was taken earlier in the night, but that’s my girl in the light blue shirt.  She’s got it goin’ on…

What’s Missing?

Sweet summer evening, sitting out on the patio of a favorite local drinking establishment with my friend, Studley McRocklegs.  After the crushing heat of June and July, we’ve hit this amazing run of high-pressure blue skies, low humidity, and perfect temperatures. 

We were waiting on the rest of the Tuesday night crew to show up. i tipped back in my chair, listening to the sound of a slow train rumbling by, and looking at the Charlie Brown clouds in a dusky evening sky.  

My brain, in an unusual state of quiet, asked me the following question: “What’s missing?” 

Studley was off in his own brain somewhere, when i tweaked him with the thought experiment.

daisyfae:  OK.  i’m going to ask you a question, and i want you to answer with the first thing that pops into your head.  No filters.  Ready?

Studley:  Let ‘er rip!

daisyfae:  What’s missing?

Studley: In my life?

daisyfae:  What popped into your head?

Studley [tiny puffs of steam coming out of his ears]:  A jumble… Lots of things…

daisyfae:  Start to untangle it.  What’s on top?

Studley:  This sounds too new agey, but “inner peace”

daisyfae:  You’re restless?  Not settled?

Studley:  I’m just not through it yet… Still sorting some things out. 

daisyfae:  What else is there?

Studley:  Absolute financial security.  But I guess no one has that…

daisyfae:  What else?

Studley:  Ummm…  Better health?  That’s about it, I think… Maybe a dog. 


The answer provided by my brain, almost instantaneously:  “Nothing.”

i told him what my brain said in response… and noted that it seemed to take him awhile to come up with his list… which is probably pretty telling by itself.

So, my dear imaginary friends who live inside my laptop…

How would you answer the question:  What’s missing?

Birthday Gift – Mystery Theme

My children did it again…  The Boy came home this week for a birthday celebration, as i turned 49* on Thursday.  They are prone to coming up with clever themed gifts.  This year was no exception – but they made me guess.

Clockwise, from the left:  A book (“Packing for Mars”), which was not part of the theme, but an actual gift.  Disco Party gift bag, covered with a pirate hat.  Criminal Profiling kit.  Four pack of Fin du Monde beer, one opened.  Five tic tacs, wrapped in plastic.  A party blower, on a chain.  A laundry bag, labeled “Soiled”.

It took me far longer to get this than it should have, as the pirate gear threw me off course, as did the name of the brewery that makes Fin du Monde (Unibroue – pronounced “unibrow”).

daisyfae:  What?  Making fun of my facial hair?  Really?  REALLY?

As you’ve probably guessed by now, the theme is “Date Rape”, bestowed upon me in honor of my recently earned status of “Roofie Survivor“.  The laundry bag is for wrecked clothing/evidence, the blower is a rape whistle (because they couldn’t find a slide whistle), and of course the detective kit is to help find the culprit.

i asked about the pirate hat.

The Boy:  It’s for prevention!  No one is going to try to date rape some idiot wearing a pirate hat!  The Girl disagreed, but I just thought it completed the gear.

After i slammed the opened beer — waste no Fin du Monde, it is yummy — we headed out for dinner.  Followed that up with a few rounds of billiards in the basement, and a whole lot of goofiness. 

Happy.  Very happy.


* More on the rest of my birthday when i have a bit more free time… it was delicious, but i’ve been slammed all week and it looks like more of the same this weekend…

Letting the days go by…

Over the past five days, i’ve done all of the following things, not in any particular order:

– Sang with a rock and roll band in a redneck bar.  Got invited back.

– Laughed my fool ass off at the funniest Broadway musical ever created.

– Was enthralled, and mildly aroused, by the brutal grace of the sport known as flat-track women’s roller derby.

– Connected with a man i met when i was 10 years old, over a gourmet meal he prepared for me, watching the full moon rise over the East River.

– Spent an undeniably wonderful evening celebrating my brother-in-laws retirement… with my family.

– Nearly gotten “Taxi Face” from being slammed into the plexiglass divider in a NYC cab en route from La Guardia airport.

– Carried an empty cat-carrier through a bar saying “Stand back! Lion cub!”

– Shared contraband liquor with local politicians at a formal fundraising luncheon.

– Failed to recognize my own brother, as he’d shaved his head of the artificially darkened scraggy pony tail, and had bought some new glasses…

– Cast votes in my homeowners association annual election via text message to my ‘proxy’.

– Finessed a solution to a  potentially deal-breaking barrier to a collaboration between universities, industry and government research organizations.

– Drank hot sake with a hot date while eating a $10 piece of raw fish.

– Talked to my dog over the phone.

– Harassed people doing a television shoot by saying “Excuse me, are you somebody?”

– Drooled on my shirt while sleeping on an airplane.

– Fought with a hot date over who got to order “edamame” because we both like saying it.

– Talked to my Mom about budding family disturbance while looking out on Times Square through the same window used by Dick Clark’s cryogenically preserved head on New Year’s Eve.

– Saw a mummy.

– Packed for a roadtrip in less than an hour.

– Watched some B-list pop stars dance to their new release in the executive lounge of a NYC bar.  At 4:00pm in the afternoon.

– Talked my sister’s partner off a ledge as she deals with her first serious bipolar disorder breakdown. 

– Wrote a blog post that will be read by a couple hundred people or so from around the world… while eating lunch and swilling a couple pints of beer in a fake Irish pub, waiting the start of my next Broadway show…

And the question remains:  How did a bedraggled, snot-nosed loser of a kid from a virtual trailer park in the midwestern United States ever land this gig?

“How did i get here?”

– David Byrne

On Farting Around…

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. informed his wife that he was going out to buy an envelope…

Oh, she says, well, you’re not a poor man. You know, why don’t you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet?  And so I pretend not to hear her.  And go out to get an envelope because I’m going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope.  I meet a lot of people.  And, see some great looking babes.  And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up.  And, and ask a woman what kind of dog that is.  And, and I don’t know.  

The moral of the story is, is we’re here on Earth to fart around.  And, of course, the computers will do us out of that.  And, what the computer people don’t realize, or they don’t care, is we’re dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And, we’re not supposed to dance at all anymore. 

– Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. From an interview* by David Brancaccio, NOW (PBS), Oct, 2005

With the addition of the old motorbike to my life, i have simply added another means of farting around to my arsenal.  Spent a couple hours yesterday riding back roads with a friend, taking advantage of a day off with unseasonably warm weather.  We didn’t have any particular destination in mind, just headed out away from traffic and people.  Once we were pointed in a generally southeastern direction, it occurred to me that there was a dumpy little diner just a little further down the road…

With a hand signal, we scooted right and there it was… The food was ok, but it didn’t matter.  Breakfast for lunch at a hole in the wall for $5 is lovely.  Listening to the conversations of the other folks there.  Chatting with the waitress about her first failed attempt at the regional motorcycle riders class. 

i love my motorcycle.  It has not, however, transformed my life.  It has simply provided me with yet another way to fart around.

i was already pretty good at it.  i do it on a bicycle when the weather is nice.  Riding to the local market to buy fresh bread and veggies, chat up the vendors, and do some people watching.  

i do it in my jeep.  Taking the dog out to the dog park for some ball chasing and butt sniffing.  Taking the long way home from work.  Laughing maniacally when i get caught topless in the rain.

What is SCUBA diving, but farting around under water?  Blogging?  Hellooooo?  Anybody else out there spend a lot of time farting around on the internet?  My gentleman companions are certainly a good time, but when you are not angling toward “forever”, it all really amounts to farting around.

Sometimes i try to remember what it was like when i had purpose.  i was raising children, and that makes you important to someone else, and therefore, gives you purpose.  Getting them to adulthood, in reasonably good intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual shape is pretty damn important. 

Work used to give me purpose.  Now?  It’s just another performance… for pay.  And that paycheck funds an awful lot of farting around.

Growth as a human?  Nice thought.  Read something that expands my mind.  Volunteer work to give something back to the community, or those in need.  Learn something that makes me a better person**.  i do this in fits and spurts, but have no particular goal in mind, no grandiose visions of changing the world, or becoming someone of substance.

What’s the point of this little essay?  That’s just it.  There isn’t one.  i’m happy.  For now.  Just spent an hour farting around at an outfitter store… going to start gearing up for some backpacking.  A little piece of equipment here, another piece there…  Pretty soon, i’ll have yet another mechanism for farting around at my fingertips.

What is life, anyway?  Perhaps just a series of moments, loosely strung together by a thread of time.  So loose in my case, that i could possibly live most of my life out of time sequence, and not really notice.

photo found here

* Like so many tales from Mr. Vonnegut, he was working on this tale for quite some time.  The extended version is captured in “A Man Without A Country”, biographical essays from 2005.

** Whatever the fuck THAT means…

Knee-dful things…

Another excursion into the medical slaughterhouse today for ol’ daisyfae…  i love narcotics.  for pain. seriously –  just. for. pain.

i had very minor knee surgery this afternoon.  roto-rooter of cartilege shredded while attempting to shred a snow an ice covered mountain molehill on skis earlier this winter…  a few days of mandatory R&R, which includes a stack of books, magazines, catching up on season 4 of “Weeds”, and unlimited time to surf the internet.  while jacked to the stratosphere on the “V”.  stand by for even MORE annoying commentary in the blogosphere…

seeing as i’m once again* sailing on pain meds, here are a few ‘scores and highlights’ from my day…


Knee surgery requires me to be flat on my back for 3 days, “toes above nose” to prevent swelling.  My kids are in town, and are at the helm regarding my care and feeding**.  As we went through the minimal requirements they need to cover through the weekend, this exchange occurred:

daisyfae:  yeah, i can see you tormenting me as i’m pinned to the bed…”‘want a cookie?  huh?  huh?” while holding it out of reach…

The Boy:  More like “want a pain killer?  huh?  huh?  ooops!  that one was for me…. here’s another one? do you want it?  huh?”


Had a friend drive me to the surgery – he’s “paying it forward” so i can drive him to his next colonoscopy.  This is what single people do.  Barter spousal-esque favors with other pathetic and unwanted single friends… 


Before leaving, i wrote the kids phone numbers on a post-it note for my friend, and left his phone number on the table.  The kids were in the kitchen, farting around with food. From the living room,  i loudly said “i’m leaving his phone number for you on the table, if you want to check in, or have questions about anything…”. 

They collectively said “what?  huh?” from the kitchen.  Poking my head around the corner, packed up and ready to leave, they assaulted me “How to you get this microwave to cook something on half power?”.  Thoughtful little fuckers, ain’t they?  This then turned into “So, what time are you getting home?  Can you stop for some burritos at “Casa AssFire” on the way back?”  They were kidding.  i think…


Surgery was scheduled for 2:oo pm, so i worked showed up at the office this morning.  Since i was not allowed to eat solids after midnight, and only had a nutrition drink/diet coke for breakfast at 7:00 am, i was hungry.  And not caffeinated.  As the fates would have it, it was an unofficial “aromatic junk food day” at work.  The candy jars on the admin desks had been freshly stocked with the good stuff – not the leftover, gummified, formerly-hard christmas candy.  Tasty sugar-encrusted bagels – with yummy raspberry cream cheese – abandoned on a table in the hallway where the vultures gather. 

And the worst?  While hanging out with the computer geeks support folks to get my office laptop repaired so i can stay wired while horizontal, they took delivery of a metric ton of hot wings, bleu cheese dressing and other things that made me salivate.  i exacted revenge by leaving dribble spots on the ancient carpet squares…  Bastards.


Since i wouldn’t be driving myself home, i had to write down the name of the “responsible person” with me.  After writing his name on the form, there was a question of “relationship to patient”.  i gleefully used the opportunity to write “statistically significant other“.  After i was prepped for surgery – which included ANOTHER pregnancy check, looking for little Houdini – the nurse went to retrieve my friend so he could keep me company backstage in pre-op.   He was giggling pretty hard, because the nurse had gone to the waiting room and asked for “daisyfae’s statistically significant other…”


Not as much fun with the anaesthesiologist today.  He sure was purty, though.  Went through the drill… checked my teeth… all that crap.  When he asked “Do you have any questions?” i replied with my stock “What’s the capitol of North Dakota?”.  Without missing a beat, he said “Bismark”.  Woo hoo!  The man knows his state capitols.  Gave me confidence that he wouldn’t accidently gas me to Neptune while watching the NCAA basketball games on the monitors…


The Girl is handling kitchen duty tonight.  Made her bring me a cinnamon bagel before she went on the magazine run.  After that?  Turkey and Swiss on Wheat, with a beer.  Beer and Vicodan.  It’s whutz fer supper…


Goofin’ in the pre-op room with my friend.  He took a couple pictures of me, wired up to the IV pole, eyes crossed, and tongue lolling sideways towards my ear.  He sent these via text message to the kids, and a few friends.  The replies? 

The Boy:  That’s good.  (later found out that they had no idea who had sent the pic… thought it could have been from the hospital)

The Girl:  Thanks!  That picture is totally going on the fridge.

RJAK:  She looks awesome!  Just sent that out on the global distribution e-mail list at work…


* worth revisiting the post on my last surgery – only for the comments!  y’all are a funny bunch of people…

** i can get up for potty breaks.  which is a good thing.  they’ve made it clear that they would have nothing to do with THAT task… i’ll need to be at least 30-40 years older, and have a much higher net worth – making myself much more valuable dead – for that to happen…