Friday, September 28, 2007

More on Fall

Perhaps I didn't express myself as well as I might have wished yesterday (I know, two posts in two days. What's the world coming to?). There are days when I feel sad, or times I feel sad for a period of time. But overall, I think I am doing quite well.

There are things that trigger emotions and memories in me - this time of year being one, special songs being another. And, there are things that happen in daily life that influence how I feel about myself, my future, and that of those around me.

Yesterday, I was feeling pensive about several things, but not "blue" if you know what I mean. My daughter was home sick and I was worried about her missing school, about what impact her illness might have on her upcoming homecoming plans, and as a parent, I was dealing with the bogies of what kind of illness is this anyway? A cold? Strep? Ebola?

I was also running on a little less sleep than usual. Late night discussions with a friend had resulted in "relational difficulties" that haunted me and led to restlessness and an off kilter start to the day.

Then there was "the song."

I remember hitting the play button on the bedside CD player sometime last year and hearing Eva Cassidy's voice emanating from the speaker. I had not touched the CD player since C's death and did not remember what was tuned up inside. Both C and I enjoyed listening to Eva and after I learned that C liked her, I went out and bought all the Cassidy CD's I could find. The Johnny Mercer tune of "Autumn Leaves" always seemed so poignant and after C's departure, it took on a whole new meaning for me.

So, when all of those things were combined, I was writing from a somewhat sensitive spot, but not from a depressed one. After posting to the blog, I went into town to meet an old friend for lunch and we spent a leisurely couple of hours conversing in a bistro where we were the only two customers. We talked about our lives and what each of us were doing. He, like me, lost his wife to cancer. Also like me, he does not need to hold down a 9-to-5 anymore. We talked about single parenthood (of the male variety), colleges for our kids, vacation plans, old friends, and music.

Music is what brought us together many, many years ago. We formed a duo once upon a time - a couple of hippyish folkies who attempted to play some Grateful Dead stuff along with songs about hookers and truck drivers. We were pretty bad, truth be told. But our love of music was true. My friend has resurrected his love of playing Dead tunes and now fronts a Dead tribute garage band. It is nice to see him so excited about that.

As we were saying our goodbye's outside the restaurant, I received a call from my sickie at home asking me to bring home some ice cream from a local vendor who hand makes all of the ice cream sold there. So, I swung by this place that is full of the scent of homemade waffle cones and calories, and picked up a pint of chocolate for my half-pint at home.

On the way back to my freeway entrance, I made a detour of a couple of blocks to drive by the old Queen Anne Victorian that was the first house that C and I bought and where both of our children were born (where we lived during those two events - not "where" they were born). It still looks beautiful. The stained glass windows I made and installed are still there - where I hope they will remain as long as the house stands. The trees in the yard are much bigger now than they were when I watched my toddlers careening around the yard.

The neighborhood looked spiffier as well. A couple of the older Victorians on the block were getting renovated and coated with new paint, though I noted that the brick duplex immediately across from our old home was as dilapidated as always and a thorn in the side of the neighbors I am sure.

After sitting there with the engine idling for a few minutes, I slowly moved on and headed for my much different life in a pocket community about eight miles north and a million years away. I was not sad, or blue, but full of feelings.

Today, my sick one went off to school for the first time in three days. Don't know if she'll make it through the day, but she will try. What more can any of us do?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Autumn Leaves

I can't look out the window at this time of year without hearing this song sung by Eva Cassidy (it's a Johnny Mercer tune) inside my head. A year ago, I couldn't listen to it for it brought back too many memories. The CD of Eva singing this song, amongst others, was still in the CD player next to Carolyn's pillow. Today, it still brings tears to my eyes.

Fall is always a hard time for me because more than any other season, it makes me feel the cycle of birth, life, and death with such intensity. At the same time, I love to walk in the woods when the leaves have turned to all of their colors and start to drift down to the forest floor before the eventual blanket of snow covers them for the cold winter nights.

It is that time of year now. I have had a few days of walking in the woods and I have had those times too when I feel a sense of loss. Rather than dwelling on that though, I try to look beyond to the time when new leaves will appear on the branch ends and new opportunities will present themselves in our own cycles of birth, life, and beyond.

I am still working at discovering who I will be in this new part of my life. A parent for sure. Now I have two children in high school and one of those is starting to look at colleges. Next month, we will make our first trip to look at a prospective school in another state. It never ceases to amaze me that I am presented with these prospects, but there they are. I wonder what lies around the next corner?

As for now, we are looking forward and planning for those upcoming holidays, deciding where we will be and what we want to do when the school breaks come. In between, the dog and I will go for walks as the autumn leaves start to fall.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Now I Have to Buy a Skirt

Just goes to show that if you wait long enough, the blog gods send you material.

So, I'm sitting around in my leopard print yoga baggy pants and a sweaty white polo shirt with grease streaks down the front where a piece of rocket chicken ricocheted off before landing on the floor sending the dog into spasms of anticipation, and I am contemplating going to bed because I woke up at 3 AM this morning and couldn't go back to sleep so I'm very tired, and the doorbell rings.

No one comes to our door - ever - unless it's one of my daughter's "Mr. X" dates doing a "drop and run" invitation (like last week when the door knocker goes BANGBANGBANG and it's dark out and I think "now what?" and there is a lit pumpkin on the porch with "Homecoming?" carved in it and a little bucket of cookies). We live in a heavily forested, rural community and are not very popular people to begin with so a knock on the door can really stir our house up.

Turns out it is my daughter's girl scout leader which is a surprise to me because I thought my daughter was done with that (she got her Gold Award two years ago), and since I was on my cell phone I begged off long enough to finish the call before wandering into the kitchen to see what was up.

My little antennae started to vibrate as I drew near. Must have been the glint in my daughter's eye as she explained that Sandy had some very exciting news and a special offer to present to me. Hmmmmm, I thought as Sandy turned to me and asked me if I would consider being the troop's assistant girl scout leader.

Now, I knew that something was up, but I figured that it would be a hit for money, or a donation of time to work on the next GS rummage sale or something, but this one caught me out of the blue. See, it turns out that you can't be the assistant leader if you are related to the leader, which meant that Larry couldn't do it because he's married to Sandy. And the person who had been the assistant leader had hit retirement age or something, AND since my daughter is the only surviving member of the troop, the recruitment pool went way down.

My only question is, "am I going to have to shave my legs?"

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Pumkins in the Night

I have a guilty secret to confess. It is one of those private pleasures that is best enjoyed alone and kept to oneself, but in this case, I will share it with you. It is this – after the kids leave for school, I go back to bed.

I take myself back to the bedroom and slip beneath the covers with feet that are now cold and I huddle there, sometimes shivering now that it is cold outside as I slowly warm under the thick comforter.

I seldom fall really asleep, but rather sink into an extended reverie where my mind plays through the thoughts and plans that are contained there. I gradually enter a different kind of consciousness that is dreamlike and fantastical. Sometimes the sunlight filters through the blinds and flickers beyond my closed eyelids. It is very luxurious and very, very sensuous.

Sometimes, my awareness rises to a level where I hear my dog snoring on the floor next to the bed. Sometimes sounds from the outside world make their way into my dreams and become blended with the half-formed fantasies playing out inside my semiconscious brain.

Once and a while, the phone rings and jars me back to the “real” world and I have to crawl from under the now warm blankets and sit freezing while I listen to some person rude enough to call me at such an ungodly hour.

These little morning naps seldom last more than an hour, but it is an hour spent close to heaven. I have grown accustomed to them and looked forward to the start of the school year so that I might indulge once again in something that I would never have dreamed possible in an earlier life.

I am usually called back to duty by something as common as a full bladder, the result of the coffee consumed earlier as I fixed my children their breakfast. As much as I would like to remain beneath those wonderful blankets and dream my day away, I cannot resist the call of nature and must once again rise, and once arisen, join the world as Lazarus did so long ago. Only for me, I get to do it every school day. Which is like going to church in a way, at least for a sinner like myself.

Once I am up, there are the usual things that consume my time. There are groceries to get, laundry to do, weeds to pull, bills to pay, and so on.

Of late, I can report that K has been asked to Homecoming my Mister X the 6th (or so). As I lay in bed reading the paper the other evening, there was a very loud knocking at the front door, which lead to the girl in question answering the door followed by a long silence, then some yelling for whomever to show themselves (the trend appears to be to leave an invitation of some sort, knock or ring the bell, and run like hell), and finally a reentry by the girl, holding a pumpkin carved with the letters “Homecoming?”

Aside from that, life has been rather uneventful. We are still trying to get used to school again. The early rising, the preparation of breakfast, (the secret naps), homework – you know, all of those school things. I have to admit that I enjoy the quiet time by myself.

So, there is your update. I still go in for chemo every four weeks or so and as far as I know, it is keeping things at bay. If any of that changes, I will let you know. Till next time then. Ta ta.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

We're Back

So, my plan for more regular and frequent updates is not working out so well. Too bad, I guess because the reasons are all positive. We have been on vacation and were too busy having fun to sit down and write – not to mention having no internet access (vacation, remember).

But that is all over. School started today and we were all up at the butt crack of dawn (5 AM) so the “mentor” could get to school on time and the “mentee” wanted to ride along. That meant the “oatmeal maker” had to be in on the action as well.

It is now several hours, one nap, and three loads of laundry later. I even received my first call from school saying that I forgot to leave lunch money. Hmmmm, doesn’t take long does it? I set up an online payment system, but that takes a couple of days to kick in. Looks like I get to make my first emergency run to school. This was easier when the forgetful one was in middle school, which is practically in our backyard. The high school is a lot further away.


It is now several hours later. The lunch money checks got to school (five minutes before the hoard was scheduled to arrive), the mail got collected, the car got an inch thick coating of bugs washed off, and there are groceries back in the refrigerator. I still have to sort through a week’s worth of mail and set aside the bills from the junk and the lawn and garden need serious attention.

K is already home from her mentoring day at school. J will be coming home on the bus when his first day in high school is over. K has her first day tomorrow. So, the school year begins and we can start to settle into some kind of a routine. After a summer that saw us on the road for most of the second half, I look forward to that.

I know that some of you have questions about our recent vacation and I am happy to say that it was a wonderful time. We were at an old “cabin” on one of America’s premier trout streams in northern Wisconsin. I spent a lot of time at this place when I was a much younger man. The family of my best friend in elementary school bought the property in the early sixties and I was invited down every summer for many years.

It is one of the more magical places in my world. There was a long stretch where my friend and I drifted apart and it was not until many years later that I reconnected with members of the family. Over that period of time death claimed several family members including my friend and the property passed into the care of the surviving siblings. Earlier this year, I inquired whether they would consider renting it to me for a week. They said yes and that’s where we have been for the last week.

It has lost none of its magic. The river runs clear and the fish are there (I saw them) even if they were not biting. We bought my daughter a four-day, out-of-state fishing license and she spent many hours patiently casting for brook trout. She even tried fly casting for an afternoon.

We spent time canoeing, hiking, dining on a beautiful screen porch that overlooks the river. The weather was mostly very nice with the temps a bit on the cool side, so fires in the two large stone fireplaces were a welcome occurrence.

We had friends and family that came to visit, some staying for a night or two and some just for the day. It was a nice thing to be able to share with others. We even got in a couple of poker games with friends staying down river. All in all, a great time.

Still, I am looking forward to not going anywhere for a while. This summer has been one of much travel and many wonderful happenings, but it is time to settle down and concentrate on the school year that has just begun. Maybe that will give me more time to write. We’ll see.