Wednesday, May 30, 2007

New Heights

Number One daughter set a new personal best this afternoon and also turned in the best vault of the entire track team at the state qualifying meet. It's hard to say which was higher, the pole, or my daughter.

I also must tell you how much I appreciate the company of my son, who is not inclined to athletics, and therefore not so prone to outside adulation, but very much dear to me none-the-less. In fact, since number one daughter is gone so much, number one son and I spend a lot more time in each other's company, and therefore the quality of said time is much more in the fore.

I can't say how lucky I feel to have these two riding shotgun with me. They have both turned into authentically interesting people, capable of holding a "real" conversation with adults of all levels. They think about things and are willing to hold discussions that defend their points of view. It's fun to watch them in public (aside from the napkin thing which remains an ongoing issue).

Not much more to say now. I started a post last night and tried to squeak in under the ambien limbo pole, but didn't make it. Maybe it will see the light of day after some editing.


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Fun with Larvae

Thursday night, number one daughter and I went to an awards banquet where she was one of several young adults to be presented with awards for outstanding leadership in the Youth In Government program run by the YMCA here in our state.

The YIG program sets up a duplicate of the state government with all three functioning branches and for four days in January, they take over the state legislature, executive offices, and the judicial courts where cases are heard, bills passed, and either signed into law or vetoed by the chief executive.

In the past, K has been a part of the judicial branch, arguing cases before the Supreme Court. Last year, she was tapped by the Attorney General to serve as liaison between that office and the rest of the government. At the end of the session, she stood for election as next year's Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. She lost by one vote - her's.

Turns out that you can only vote for positions within your own branch of government and although K had been in the Judicial branch for the previous two years, her role last year was actually part of the Executive branch. Therefore, when she cast her vote for herself as Chief Justice, it was thrown out and she lost to someone she says is all flash and sizzle.

So this year, she will have to settle for Presiding Chief Justice of the Supreme Court - the one who does all the work, and let the bright light settle on Miss Vacuity in black robes. I think that her political experiences are teaching her some real life lessons.

BTW, she was so pissed about having her vote discounted that she immediately wrote and got passed an amendment to the rules that will do away with that particular restriction in the future. Go Girrrrl.

Last night, I spent with my junior larva. Number two son and I went out for Chinese and then to see Pirates in a crowded and raucous theater. He loved it.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Ever Upward

I look up to you.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Revisiting the Past

I just went back and reread some of the Caring Bridge journal entries I made this time last year. I think about that time a lot these days. We are nearing the anniversary of C's departure to parts unknown. I think that it is normal to think about these milestones as they come up on us. I never know for sure how I will feel when I travel through the membrane of time stretched across my path like some sort of tape at the finish of a race, only it isn't a finish, just one more step on a journey who's end is not visible.

One year ago, C was beginning to stretch herself through and across a membrane that only she could see. She was experiencing vivid waking (and sleeping) dreams where she would have conversations with people (or entities) that were there for her, but not for me.

We also had a houseful of people most nights. Friends and relatives would come over and gather. Food would get made and beverages consumed. It was a ritual as old as time and as needed as is breathing. We needed to share this time. Occasionally, one of us would slip off into the bedroom and sit for a while. Sometimes there would be conversation and sometimes there would be silence.

It was comforting and crazy. We were not use to seeing so many people. Sophie the Wonder Dawg wandered from room to room trying to understand what was going on.

Sleep was a forgotten luxury between the rambling conversations that C was having with her soon to be friends on the other side, and her increasingly failing constitution that required frequent assistance from those around her. I was feeling exhausted and, in a curious way, elated by being part of my love's graduation to a different state of being. I had never been granted that before and having done it once, I feel blessed but that was enough. These are the times in life (and death) that define us as who we are, and what we are. We grieve the loss of life and seem to need structures that define a continued existence beyond this one. I am no closer to understanding what happens when that last sigh is slowly exhaled, but I have seen this side of the process.

To all of you who were part of that time, whether in person or through the wonder of the web, I bid you greetings and thank you for your thoughts and prayers. We have had a year of strangeness, pain, exploration, loss, discovery, love, learning, and always, memories. We have had anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, and other special times that reminded us of what has changed in our lives. One of those times is coming up again now. Remember with us.

Monday, May 21, 2007


Today was a chemo day, and as such, a long and yucky one. But even so, it was not without its good parts. One such part was that I took my laptop with me and found that the hospital offered free WIFI to its patients and guests, so I was able to read and send emails and shock the nurses with rampant pornography.

Another good thing was that my nurse hit the vein on the first shot, and once in, it was not painful. Third, they offered me lunch and I had a personal size pizza that, for hospital food, was not half bad (not to say it was really good, but in the scale of things, it falls on the positive side of the ledger).

Lastly, I got out before the traffic really got bad. Now I am home, still contending with the laundry that somehow did not get done by the laundry elves while I was otherwise engaged today. The weather turned warm again today and is now in the high seventies. We had the AC running earlier, but it is now off and the windows are open and the frogs are singing. I am sitting here nursing a black russian to fend off the willies. Could be worse.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

True Team Win and Snowflakes Fall

As a single parent, I am finding myself having to make choices that sometimes tear me between two equally worthy goals. This last weekend is a good example as I had to choose between taking my son north to partake in a family celebration of my father's 86th birthday (sorry if I had the years wrong in previous posts) where I would see a sister who lives on the west coast and who gets back here infrequently. Or, stay home and go to my daughter's true-team sectional track meet, which on a scale of importance to her, would clearly rank before the second coming. To make it more sensitive, I have only been able to make it to one previous track meet, and then I only saw her perform two vaults. Not good.

In the end, I went north. I got in a lot of visiting and it was good. Late on Friday night, while sitting at a different sister's kitchen table where the volume of conversation was ratcheting up with every round of Lebowskies, I got a phone call from the abandoned track star. The results of the true team competition are shown above. I could barely hear her between the feel good inhabitants of the party I was at and the wild bunch on the school bus returning after a victorious performance where old rivals were spanked.

She is still floating a bit. I was sorry to not be there, but not sorry to be where I was, although I was giving that a bit of thought this morning when I woke up and looked out the window to see snow flakes dancing in the wind. Ah, Duluth - gotta love that place.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Riiiip - HHNT

I live near a lake that is one of many that form part of the water system for a nearby large city. As part of that water system, the local watershed board conducts sampling on a bi-weekly basis. Because the lake I live near is completely surrounded by private land, there is no public access. For me to get my sample, I have to pass through one gate controlled by a key-punch box, then through two locked gates and over a mile of wooded land via an old road first made in the eighteen hundreds. Finally, I have to unchain a canoe that is kept at the one access point to the lake while being harassed by a pissed off osprey nesting on top of a nearby pole. It's a nice trip, but one that takes a bit of time and effort. I did my first sample last Monday.

With that bit of background taken care of, I set out to walk my dog on Tuesday and got about a half mile from home when my cell phone went off. On the other end was a young lady I had met the week before who had recently been hired by the watershed district to run the sampling program. She wanted to go out on this lake and conduct some water temperature tests. So, the Wonder Dawg and I turned around and headed home where I waited for this staffer to arrive.

Now the weather on this day was not the best for heading out in a canoe. The temps had dropped approximately 40 degrees over the previous day and there were strong winds out of the north. I was not really looking forward to retracing my steps on this particular day.

The staffer arrived and after deciding to take her car, we departed. I directed her the few miles to the gate with the keypad. As I was getting back into her car after opening the gate, I heard, and felt something give as I lowered myself into her passenger seat. The evidence is before you (as it was before her for the remainder of the process) and behind me. During the remainder of the trip I had to exit and re-enter the car several times as I would open and close the locked gates that stood before us and the lake. Then there was the canoe that needed unlocking, requiring a full squat and further tearing. It was cold and drafty - especially upon sitting down on the aluminum canoe seat.

The earnest young staffer was very polite about it all, but I am sure she got more than she was expecting on that little trip.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


Here are the belles of the ball. This is my daughter's posse at the "parent photo session." This was followed by the Grand March which is an experiment conducted to see just how much heat a thousand parents can generate in an enclosed space in the dark as their offspring queue up and walk from one spotlit platform to the next, stopping to do some photo-worthy routine at each spot. Apparently critical mass was reached and the mass altered the space-time ratio because it took about a year to finish. Last year I was inside, close to one of the spotlit platforms and was treated to an unending tableau of dresses stepped upon and snatched upon desperately before we all witnessed a wardrobe malfunction. This year I got there late and couldn't even get into the Grand March and was relegated to standing in the hall outside the exit doors where it was all high-fives amongst those wearing dresses and not experiencing the aforementioned malfunction.

Today, of course, it is all over. There was the "dinner," and the "limo" (which my daughter declined to participate in because it was "excessive," and a good thing too. I saw them wedged into that limo like sardines in a can. Although, from a boy's perspective, maybe that was the perfect thing). There was the "dance" of course, but who knows if there was any real dancing going on. I have it on good authority that Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire would have been scandalized had they shown up.

Then there was the whole co-ed sleepover at an old friend's house. Good thing it was somewhere else. I feel too old fashioned to have done it here. Sometimes, ignorance is, if not bliss, then at least allowing for fatherly sleeping. So, now I have a girl back home with the attitude that comes from too little sleep and post-event let down. I think she had a good time, but I am not sure if this kind of thing is really her bag.

More later.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Tit Ticklers

Nothing wakes me up faster than a tick on the tit. And so it was in the o'dark hours this morning that I was shot from a surreal dream to a too real wake-state by the sensation of something small crawling across my left nipple. TICK, my mind screamed. And before the thinking parts of my brain could begin the complex process of analysis, the more practical, but less complex group of cells in my brainstem that oversees things like breathing and ball scratching shot my right hand to my chest and plucked the crawly off as I vaulted out of bed and hit the light switch.

It was about this time my conscious bits were starting to put two and two together and my pupils were beginning to relax from their pin-hole contraction when I realized I was standing beside my bed, in my birthday suit, holding what felt like "nothing" between pinched thumb and forefinger, and wondering what had happened. Then the intercranial intercom began to crackle. "You were dreaming when a creapy, crawly, blood-sucking, many-legged scourge came house calling. You have it in your fingers. Look, stupid."

So I did - nothing. Nothing there. Was I imagining it? "Look more, Stupid." Ah, there it is. The little sleep-robbing fucker evaded my initial attempt at capture and was making a bee-line for safety across the now rumpled bed sheets. Die, fucker, die. I nailed his little ass and carried him into the bathroom where I tossed him into the cyclonic execution chamber and then pissed on him before pulling the trigger and sending him to certain death in the septic tank version of the River Styx.

So, there I was, still naked, now fully awake with twenty minutes left before my alarm was due to go off. No point in laying back down now that the primitive, leopard skin wearing caveman me had been invoked. No, better to just go off to make the coffee a little early and walk the dog. Damn ticks.

Friday, May 04, 2007

The Lightheadedness of Being

This last week has been a hard one. I am still trying to regain my feet after getting chemo a week ago. As such, this week marks an aberration in what I have come to expect in terms of bouncing back after a treatment. The question that begs to be asked of course is something else going on? This is the chink in the armor of anyone living with cancer. Every change in routine, every odd pain, a momentary stumble in the day-to-day routine takes on a significance that is larger than life – not to put too fine a point on it.

And because we are so nervous about things like this, we are in a poor position to evaluate it from an objective standpoint. I know something is different, but I don’t know what, or why, or how long it will be this way. It feels as though my blood sugars are off. I get weak and lightheaded and have the desire to eat. I fatigue very easily and am having trouble finishing my assignment lists.

Yesterday, I took the Wonder Dawg for a walk before lunch, but had to cut it short as I was feeling kind of wobbly and dizzy. It was like walking uphill all the way home. I ate something and then went and lay down. Two hours later, I felt better, but still under the spell of whatever is going on.

I hate taking the next step, which is to try to get in to see one of my docs. It means so much screwing around, not the least of which is driving across town. I will wait and see how things go this weekend and will make the call if I still feel bad next week.

My reason for procrastinating is easy to explain. In fact, I need no reason, I AM a procrastinator by nature, especially when the task in front of me is one I don’t want to do. But, there is more in this case. J and I are heading north this afternoon for the weekend. The college FM station where I used to do late night shows is having it’s 50th Anniversary Celebration and is throwing a couple of concerts, a dinner, and other opportunities to meet and greet old friends – many of whom I know from the sound of their voices rather than their faces.

We will be taking J’s bike along and if it doesn’t rain too much, he will have the freedom to get himself around to visit with cousins and just to get out on his own.

So, I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize that. We will take the laptop along, so we will be able to check in from Grandma’s. Ciao.