breaking exit velocity

Roadtrip With Hello Kitty!
Roadtrip! Today my mom, brother, husband, children and I headed to Olympia – mostly for fabric and sewing purchases. My mom bought us lunch and post-shopping snack – how awesome is that? I didn’t eat a snack but I did bring home some amazing cinnamon bread for Wagner’s.

Mom Portrait, By Billy
I just want to say that the only reason my mom took us on such a long trip – 11:30 AM to 6 PM – was that Billy was along. She likes spending time with him more than with me. Because they are dating.

I love hanging out with the FOO. Sometimes certain members are a right pain in my balls, but mostly, I like spending time with them daily if I can. Today my poor brother and I had to run and keep Nels and Sophie at bay in Music 6000 while Ralph was “grinding his axe” (i.e. playing a guitar out of tune, to try out a pedal) and headphoned. Why did we get Nels to monitor in such a valuable commodity shop? I was glad Billy was there, besides for his company.

Nels, Out.
Nels fell asleep on the drive home and still, about three hours later, is out.

Sophie, Pensive
Sophie napped too but, once home, stripped her shoes off and started coloring. She and Billy like taking pictures together.

(And just for my secret thrift-whore housewifery buddy – here are my recent thrift store purchases on Flickr – I really do love the inexpensive and fun thrifting to be had in HQX!)

come sing me a happy song to prove we all can get along the lumpy, bumpy, long and dusty road

Today a series of small but essential things happened that made me happy.

One, after checking in with my parents’ home (and watering plants) I walked with my kids to a local sandwich shop and people recognized us and greeted us; a woman behind the counter said to her workmate excitedly, “That’s the one that bikes with her kids!” This made me feel nice, as well as the fact my children ate every bit of their lunch then ordered their ice cream (each of them chose a horrid, electric blue bubblegum) in a very grown-up fashion. Their manners at restaurants are improving.

Two, after lunch when it seemed my son could not walk the whole way back home without incident (I had a cup of coffee to carry to boot) we crossed the street and I boarded the bus to Quinault in hopes it would get me a bit closer to my homestead. What I discovered immediately is that many people take this bus: it was more than 75% full and as soon as we climbed aboard they let out a collective gasp at my tousle-headed son, who is less than three feet tall and gets on buses with his hands in his pockets and in this case the pockets were in a handmade dinosaur costume. The driver kept trying to engage my son as I tried to ask him if he would be passing Emerson: “Yeah, yeah,” he waved at me vaguely, still chuckling after The Boy who mustered dignity, excused himself past passengers, and clambered up in a seat. Soon this driver was blasting past my street of destination as I desperately scrambled for the cord to save us an even longer walk to our house. This whole time half the bus raptly watched my children whose bus-riding skills really are funny to watch, although Nels did nothing more than act like a little boy.

Three, this afternoon as I did dishes a friend called me. She and I talked about our sick fathers. We talked about another dinner and movie date, which is exactly each of our speed. I put it on my calendar and it’s what I look forward to the most in July, second only to Ralph’s thirtieth birthday where I get him something outrageous (but useful) for his birthday. (Except damn! Ralph has a new rule where we dont’ have a kitchen gadget with only ONE function. Shit, I’d also been thinking about a sandwich grill. Back to the drawing board.)

Four, tonight another friend and her kids came over for dinner. Our four kids played marvelously together, and we had homemade pizza, veggies and dip, and more homemade chocolate cake. After our dinner my FOO came over; my parents having just arrived from their vacation. We talked about bears, churches, and I offered my mom as treasurer to my friend’s mayoral campaign.

Five, Ralph took charge of the four children as my girlfriend, my mother and I hit a local bar for one drink and some good talk.

I am so glad to have a few very dear, very lovely friends here in HQX. I haven’t yet seen much of them – honestly? I don’t want to screw anything up. I still feel slighly hermitty and sad, so it is only right I’m not painting the town. It already feels “right” and normal to have my parents back in town; to know I can see them any time (or almost any time) I want. Even to know I get to take my dad milkshakes at the hospital while he gets his chemo or feel aggravated at their pet-like creature.

on the road again… [ kegger at my parents’ place! ]

Yesterday my father, mother, and their wee little dog loaded up in their homebuilt motor home (actually a converted logging crew bus with black-purple and gold detail, solar power, and an elevated roof – it’s a trip) waved, and headed off for a 2+ week trip to Montana – the Tetons, Yellowstone, friends.

My brother gave long, sincere hugs goodbye. I felt just too rotten to do that so I pretended I didn’t feel bad and held Nels on my hip (my god… he’s three years old! I don’t really have the baby-on-hip thing going on anymore, do I?). I occupied my mind thinking of how I was going to steal their lawnmower for a few weeks and pick up some of my mom’s flower starts. But really, I felt just inexplicably shitty and couldn’t get away from it; as they drove off I thought, well it makes sense I feel bad. My whole life we’ve been a foursome; we’ve always been together. And as they left I felt a keen separation as I will when either parent succumbs, and I wonder when that will be. My mother at least is mostly convinced my father doesn’t have much hope of holding out much longer; his chemo treatment is losing efficacy and there isn’t a backup plan after it stops holding the fort. Daily I go back and forth between letting them do the thing their way and just supporting and loving them; or inserting myself more aggressively: asking them to seek more opinions, going online and looking up experimental treatments. Daily I yo-yo between being allowed to accept his death and the peace and sadness this brings, and fighting for more life. It’s an odd state of being that protracted illness and long-looming death can beget.

I also harbor this sneaking suspicion those sneaky bastards that are my Mom, Dad, and brother know something I don’t and are keeping it from me. Like that the doctor only gave him a few weeks to live and that’s why they’re having this roadtrip. I wouldn’t put it past that trifecta of non-communication. Last week he was so not-sick after his chemo I grew alarmed and point-blank accused him of not having treatment Tuesday, which he denied. Five minutes later I then ambushed my mother, coming inside the house with my kids: “Did dad really have chemo yesterday?” Her innocent and surprised reply, “Oh yes,” was clearly honest. He just lucked out and wasn’t very sick. The first time in six years we’d seen him feel good post-medicine, and I’m suspicious about it.

It’s hard sometimes to remember that it isn’t the cancer that makes him feel so bad, it’s the medicine. I can’t believe he’s even gone through it for all these years with scarce a complaint (to anyone else; I know my mom gets a more full story). Sadly thought, it’s also the sickness that contributes as he can get depressed. The depression changes him. I have known and loved him thirty years and up until he got sick I’d never seen anything like the depression, I would not have thought he had it in him. I don’t talk him out of it, I talk to him. Sometimes he barely answers. I have found if I keep talking to him eventually he pulls his head out of whatever mire he was in and answers me. I go home, then come back the next day.

I like being active; on their trip, I email them. I work on a care package to send general delivery to whatever township they name. I thank Sweet Baby Jesus in his Golden Fleece Diapers that we moved here. It has been so nice spending time together and I love, love watching my children with my family. Yesterday at breakfast my father and my son sat together and my dad helped him eat breakfast and they fit together like peas in a pod. Nels put his hands up to grandpa’s face and said in surprise, “You have glasses Grandpa!” and tenderly stroked his face. My father acted casual (his M.O. even at his most demonstrative) but his entire body leaned towards his grandson and they touched frequently. My dad wiped strawberry preserves off Nels’ face and said, “Oh, I let you get some on your shirt. Your mom’s going to be pissed.” I ignored this. Then he said, “You’re mom’s going to have a heart attack, she’s going to have kittens.” so I looked at Sophie and said, “Should we get some kittens today?”

At the table I said to each of my parents: “Ralph and I think you are a good grandpa. And we think you’re a good grandma.”

Buen viaje, mi padre y madre.

"Oh, King of the Castle, King of the Castle, I have a chair!"

I’m in a black mood today. Correction: I was in a black mood.

This morning as my children and I came downstairs, me with a huge pile of laundry on one hip and a wailing Nels holding my other hand, I heard the distinctive sound of my daughter vomitting on the floor. You know, you know what the sound is split seconds before you identify it? For a confused moment you’re thinking, Did my child pee her pants? but you already know the answer is “No”, so your mind then moves on to … damnit. Puke.

Luckily we taught Sophtie to be a champion puker long ago so she was straightened out in no time (a quick bath, two pigtails so she could vomit unhindered). And life continued on, badly. It seemed stuffy and unwelcome in the family home – like my parents no longer want us (specifically, me) here; like we all need to get out of the house but they really don’t all that much so I do (sick child and all) – a visit to the library, not so bad.

Other lowlights: trouble with Ralph. Making playdough for my children’s school. This fucking sucked. My brother – saintly – helped me. It involved a lot of mess and a lot of kneading and I didn’t even get anything to eat out of that. Oh, and of course my daughter puking, again and again. This afternoon as I dispassionately hold back her hair, “Yeah, that looks like your ice cream and peanut butter.” She pukes in the car while waiting for drive-through coffee – “luckily” in my husband’s coat.

On the other hand, this evening my husband, mom, and I watched Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan and during the naked hotel / fight scene my mom and I were laughing so hard, and for so long, it was painful.

Let’s hope tomorrow continues on in that vein. Okay?

an update from HQX, pictoral-like

Already we are as busy here as we were in Port Townsend. Mornings my mom and I go workout at the Y while the kids cavort in “Busy Town” (the childcare facilities there). Monday, Wednesday, and Friday Sophie goes to preschool; Thursday, Nels does. Tuesday and Thursday are Sophie’s swim lessons. Every night I go to bed early, exhausted (from working out and living at my parents) and annoyed because I can’t really nest the way I want to. Anyway, forget I wrote that. It’s a tired story. I am lucky, I repeat goddamned lucky, to have such a great family to shore us up while we try to find a place to hang our hats.

My mom and Sophie, just before church last Sunday. Sophie has a secret. Can you guess what it is? She is not wearing panties. Before she went to church, I told my mom, “Make sure she’s wearing panties.” Guess when my mom found out she wasn’t? During church service.

For me, to chase the blues away: a little materialism goes a long way. In this case, abovementioned DC hoodie and:

A pair of Keen shoes. The shoes are not yet broken in but soon, I will wear practically nothing else. On my feet, I mean. (hoodie and shoes courtesy of – the closest online thing to instant gratification).

Mom and I trade off cooking each night and everyone else benefits. My brother had several helpings of my Vietnamese Sticky Chicken with Spicy Peanut Sauce.

Weekends, I sometimes cook a special breakfast. (this version is made with a cardamom-challah made locally at the Farmer’s Market – open year-round here).

OK, just to prove to you how weird my family is (mostly my mom and brother), they made this “dog hair sculpture” after my mom gave Tuck his cut.

Actual dog, post-haircut. I try to be nice to him. He has “issues”.

Today: my father has his nasty chemo and my brother and I try to feed him milkshakes (this went very badly) and I try to keep the kids upstairs so he can sleep.