Sunday, March 27, 2011

My Dad Makes Me Laugh

My dad on his 90th birthday back in February

On Friday, I picked my dad up at the nursing home to take him to Rochester for a cardiologists appointment. He needs to have major surgery on a cancerous growth growing on his left ear which is very painful, and growing very fast. He needed clearance from the heart doctor, due to his heart issues (attacks, stents, pulmonary hypertension, etc.) before the dermatologist would administer anesthesia. It's a 4-6 hour surgery. We're not really worried about the surgery itself, well, speaking for myself, I'M not, because there is no other choice. He CAN'T live any quality life with a hideous, huge, painful growth on and in his ear, and he is 90, and has fairly advanced dementia, and nothing would make him happier than to be with my mom in heaven, so... either way, whatever the outcome, I know we are doing what is best for my dad.

I was worried about driving him to Rochester Friday, though, because the only vehicle I had available TO drive that day was his car, he beloved Honda Accura.  My dad has "car issues."  In his dementia, he constantly asks about where his car is, where he left his car keys. He is always telling the nurses and aides he is leaving, that he is going to drive home in his car. After my mom died,  my dad used to "take a ride," as he called it, every day, often more than once a day. He would just ride and ride and ride. Occasionally he would get a little confused about where he would end up, or he would get going, only to realize he had left the tea kettle on, and turn around and come home. Near the end of his driving time, he made some very poor decisions based on his attachment to his car, and that one thing, above all others, has stayed with him. So consequently, my sister and I were pretty nervous about me driving him to Rochester in his own car that he hasn't seen in over a year. Other options were tossed out and explored - should my sister drive down from Rochester and pick him up in her car? That seemed ridiculous to make two full trips, so I threw that out. I considered borrowing a friend's car, but most of my friends have Jeeps or trucks that would be difficult for him to get in. I even looked up and considered renting a car for the day, for $65.00, but in my frugalness, decided that was a waste of money too. So, I decided to gamble, and if he asked, I was simply going to say I was driving him to his appointment in his car - and leave it at that.

Imagine my flabbergasted, jaw dropping surprise, when, 40 minutes into our trip, my dad says, "I don't think I've ever ridden in this car before. Where did you get it?"  Seriously? Wow. Totally unexpected. And not being a super fast thinker on my feet, all I could come up with was the lie that it was one of my husband's cars from work. He doesn't HAVE any cars from work, at his job. But, it seemed to do the trick. He told me it was pretty nice, rode nice, was nice and quiet, and that was that. Wow. I think my sister and I decided we seriously overthink things too much these days.

And before I left that morning, as my son was on his way to school, he was giving me a litany of precautions: "Be careful driving in the city. Be careful driving the Accura - the roads aren't great..." etc etc.  And at the very end he said, "And remember, Don't let Grandpa Drive the Car."  All I could think of was the book title, Don't let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.

Should I write a book of my own, called Don't let Granpda Drive the Car?  I bet it would be a best seller!

After the appointment,  on the way home, as we were driving down the expressway, I passed a car that had a bumpersticker on its trunk. I saw it, but didn't think my dad had. It was quiet for afew  minutes,and I had quickly turned my thoughts to other things,  and then my dad said, "That is a funny word to have on a car trunk."  Without really thinking, I said, "What word, dad?" and he replied, "Fuck."  It is, indeed, the word that was on the car trunk, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine my dad would SAY it out loud. And he gave no idication that he knew what it meant, or even that it might have been a not-so-nice word to say. It gave me a quiet little chuckle, that my father, who never said a bad word in his life, could have lost enough restraint to blurt that out, unknowingly.   Kind of reminded me of when my youngest child, who was then three year old came wandering out of her playhouse saying that same word at that top of her lungs, having no idea that it wasn't a word for polite company. I washed her mouth out anyway. Should I have offered my dad some soap, I wonder?

Some days, it's all you can do to find the humor where you can, and savor it!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

My Friend Jen

"A circle is round
It has no end
That's how long
I will be your friend"

Sometimes in life, we get really lucky.  I grew up in a small town, only a few miles from where I live now, and went to a small school.  There were only about 50 kids in my graduating class, and high school, though ok, was NOT the best time of my life. I was not super popular, and had the normal trouble trying to feel  like I fit in. I know, now, from this vantage point in life, that I was certainly not the only one. It's pretty normal to feel the way I did, and the kids who sail through high school are often the ones for whom high school IS the pinnacle of life. When I graduated from highschool, oh so many years ago, I felt that I really didn't care too much about staying in touch, or seeing most of my classmates ever again.  There were a few exceptions to that, and my friend Jen was one of those. We even shared an apartment together for awhile at the end of college, and that was one of the best times in my life. I loved our little apartment (a pig barn turned into apartment, including low ceilings and dark, handhewed beams, and a bathtub/shower too tall with the low ceiling to stand up in properly) and I loved having Jen as my room-mate. (The BEST memory of those months together were the  weekly trips to Friendly's, where, because I was so not worried about my weight back then, I only ever ordered the gigantic Reeces peanut butter sundae. THOSE were the days!)
Over the years, life happened. Jen got married, I got married. Jen had a son in Januray; I had one in May. She lived in the same  town where we grew up, I moved ten miles down the road. Our little guys were pretty good friends for a few years. Another mental snapshot that is one of my favorite's is a Halloween parade at our old school, with Spenser as Santa Claus, and Keenan right next to him as a penguin.  That photo still warms my heart. Then,life continued to happen.  Jen got divorced, moved about half an hour away, met new people, got remarried, had another child, and we stayed friends, stayed in touch, just not as close.
Then, Jen moved three hours away, and we really kind of fell out of touch, although I knew where she was. But it was hard to stay as close when her kids and mine were growing up apart, and our lives didn't really intersect at all.  I missed her. I just didn't know how much I missed her until she - hooray - moved back home again. Well, back to the town that was half an hour away, but compared to three hours, that's "back home."  When she returned, I was happy, but not necessarily hopeful that we would be as close again. I'm not always great at putting in the time necessary to keep friendships strong, much to my sorrow. But life had happened to both of us, and suddenly, she was close again, not only in physical proximity, but in-touch close.It was probably the first time in both our lives that we had SO MUCH in common.  How does that happen, I wonder?  That's when I realized, I think, how very much I had missed her the years she was away, and how much you DO need some people to remain in your life, always. There's something so good about realizing that you have a shared history with someone. That your parents know each other, that you lived in the same town, played in the same creek, explored the same woods, had the same elementary teachers, know the same stories about kids you went to school with. It makes me happy beyond explanation that I still have in my life a friend whom I have literally known since before I attended kindergarten. That's nearly half a century of being friends. And the stories from growing up we share are just amazing stories - miles and miles of bike rides, farm days bringing the cows in and drinking milkshakes from cans, eating Zots, endless, endless summers.
Now, Jen STILL lives about half an hour away from me, but I had never made the trip to see her new old house that they are remodeling. We stay in touch through phone calls, occasional trips to do something together, emails and facebook messages. Her job brings her to my school, occasionally, and my job takes me to her school sometimes. I don't know WHY I hadn't made the trip - she has goats. That, in itself, should have taken me over there sooner. I guess because life is just, well, you know, happening. There never seems to be a lot of free time, and when I have some, I just don't MAKE the time to go anywhere. Too bad, really, and something I need and want to change.
Because of a cool craft idea Jen has (she's an amazingly talented artist and a crafty person, and I admire and envy that part of her personality), she got three of us (also two other people we went to school with - thank you, Facebook)) together with her at her house to show us and talk about this idea. SO, finally forcing myself outside of my social phobia small comfort circle, I went. And I can't tell you how glad I am that I did.  Did I mention that Jen has GOATS?     :)
Not only does she have goats, but she lives in the best. place. ever. I am SO envious. She lives down a dirt road, with pine trees on both sides, out in the middle of nowhere. She has a pine-lined driveway, that winds up to the house, which is like this big old barn on the outside, and just super cool on the inside. I LOVE the house. I LOVE the location. I LOVE Jen's goats. I LOVED Jen's driveway that actually winds on up PAST the house, past the barn, and wanders off into the woods, woods that just call out to be walked through. (Hmm, how many times has Jen told me that, and asked me to come over and walk with her?)   Little tiny white Christmas lights are hanging from the pines along the drive, and in the barn, and make the whole place just look like a fairyland. If I were artsy at all, I would have thought of that, but, of course, I never would have. It's gorgeous and magical.
And we had pizza that night that was literally the best pizza I have ever eaten. I've never had a pizza that tasted so fresh and perfect. It didn't have sauce on it, just an oil mixture. And fresh tomatoes, and spinach and olives and sliced whole mozzarella. Oh my gosh, it was soooo good. And I split a bottle ofgood red wine with one of my friends, a couple of glasses to go with the pizza.
Sometimes, things just all collide to be the perfect time, and that night at Jen's was. It just makes me extremely glad, and super thankful, that I have been lucky enough to have Jen in my life all these years. I'm glad she came back. I'm glad we've grown  over the years. I'm glad I know she will always be a part of my life. She's one of those friends you can go weeks without talking to, but then pick up the phone and continue on with the conversation as though you had just set it down to take an apple pie out of the oven a minute or two ago... or had to run out and feed the goats....

Jen keeps me grounded. I know her well enough to seriously envy parts of her life, and yet, to realize that it isn't all magical fairy lights and adorable goats. We have a shared past, and future plans as well. Some of those are to go do some fun things together, and some of those, at least from my end, involve nothing more strenuous than feeding goats, walking through the woods, and making more pizzas.

Sometimes in life, we just get lucky. I'm lucky to have had Jen in my life, my whole life.
"Make new friends
But keep the old
One is silver
And one is gold."

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Last night two eggs were pipped, and I wanted to stay up and watch, but I was afraid it would be a lot like human labor... many hours worth of worried waiting, so I went to bed. Good thing I did. I got up (LATE) at 7:20 this morning, and rushed downstairs (priorities, you know) to check on the eggs, and there were still no babies. Thank GOODNESS I didn't stay up! But the holes were bigger, I could hear peeping, and I could see the egg tooth coming and going through some of the holes, and there were more holes in more eggs. I was SO excited! I definitely did not want to come to work. But... staying home to watch chickens hatch probably doesn't merit missing a day of work (well, ok, let's be truthful - if I had a "desk job" type of job where I didn't have to spend several hours writing tedious sub plans, and if my "sick days" weren't in need of constantly being rationed, I totally WOULD have stayed home today...)
So I rushed home at lunch, an hour ago, as soon as my morning classes were done, and found two adorable black, sticky wet babies flopping around the incubator. I am SO SO psyched. What an unbelievable "high" witnessing this new life is.  I don't care if I AM the dorkiest person around. I am just so thrilled that three weeks ago these were eggs, just plain eggs that anyone could have cracked open and scrambled up for breakfast, but instead, just a mere 21 days later ON.THE. DOT., I have baby chickens.
What a miracle this is. Wow. And there were five more pipped, too, so IF all goes well, I will have been able to hatch out at least 7. I have 43 eggs in the incubator, and I know from candling some of them that not all were fertile. And some I couldn't candle because the shells were too dark. But three days ago, I was afraid this wasn't going to happen at all, that none would hatch, terrified that I had inadvertently done something terribly wrong, and now, today, I'm on cloud 9. 
Unfortunately, my motherinlaw took back her camera that I had been "borrowing," so my pictures, from MY camera, above, are really crummy, but at least I do have a documentation, however poor, that I was able to do this. I am so in love with baby chickens. Good thing I like the grown up version, too, or this wouldn't be quite as exciting!  Wow, I'm excited. 
I totally wish I had some little chicken cigars to hand out to people here!   :)