Ode to Papa Murphy

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So back when my offspring was barely over a year old or so there was a Thing That Happened.  It was a traumatic thing and not something I’ll talk about a lot here because it is of a sensitive nature to another person, and that person is deserving of some privacy about it.  But I will say that it involved a mental health issue, and it turned my life upside down.

For a while the Thing That Happened was very much a part of my daily life, and it was stressful.  I am an anxious person by nature and if a Thing happens in the life of an anxious person, that person may not cope all that well.  I basically didn’t sleep more than four or five hours a night for years.  I still have issues with sleep, but it’s not as bad as it was then.  Every light in the house stayed on, the TV was on day and night so that I wouldn’t have to be alone with my thoughts, and I submerged myself in World of Warcraft after my daughter was in bed for the night.  I maintain to this day that WoW probably saved my sanity, by giving me an escape and providing me with a way to connect with other humans without leaving my house.  My kid was in bed by 7pm and I rarely could sleep before 1am.  That’s a long time to spend alone with scary, stressful thoughts.

Sometimes when the Thing was especially bad the person involved would be hospitalized, and this was a huge relief.  They were safe and I was relieved of a little bit of responsibility for a few days.  Or a few weeks.

Sometimes when this happened I would drive home by way of the take-and-bake pizza chain and I would get a pizza that had all the things I liked (but nobody else did).  And maybe I’d get a six pack of decent microbrew, or some sodas.  And I’d sit after my baby was in bed and I’d enjoy some pizza and I’d play some WoW and I’d feel relaxed for the first time in probably months.

Nowadays the Thing is not a part of my daily existence.  Well, it is in that I work in mental health, but it’s not part of my personal life.  I am and will always be anxious, and with a fairly demanding new job and being in school and having kids and being busy and stuff I have a certain amount of stress and pressure, but compared to the Thing That Happened this is kinda small potatoes.

Tonight The Lovely Rhonda is off experiencing things that I’m not interested in experiencing, so I dropped her off with friends and came home.  Having an evening to myself is extremely uncommon.  What to do?

I thought about going to a movie or something, but honestly nothing appealed to me as much as just being at home, on this rainy, blustery night.  On the way back home I picked up a small pizza from the take-and-bake place, and after it was out of the oven I ate some of it and drank a soda while I played WoW.  It brought to mind those days of incredible stress and despair, and worry, and I am grateful when I look back at how much relief and solace these ordinary things brought me.

raz with dino 2015

Family Photo Fun Time!

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So there was recently a death in my family, and I don’t really want to talk about it here.  It was tragic and senseless and sad and we are all sad.

In our sadness my brother and I went to see my mother, because that is what you do when you are sad, you go visit one another to just make sure the remains of your family is still actually intact.

We lunched and talked a bit and then Mother broke out the big ol’ boxes of family photos.  We sought out pictures of our lost one and in the process we unearthed so many gems that I finally gathered up a little trove of them to bring home and scan.  You will not be disappointed, internets.

Exhibit A:  a young Me riding a preschool precursor to the mighty motorcycle.  This photo was taken in Rota, Spain, where my father was stationed at the time in the Navy.  I am sporting a shy little smile and an enormous cast, which I wore for seven of what I am certain are the longest months in any mother’s history.  I had had a tumor which necessitated a bone graft and this cast is essentially what kept the lower part of my wee tiny baby leg attached to the rest of me.

Deb 19 months April 1969Exhibit B: Dad gets a motorcycle.  Rota, Spain, February of 1970.  My mother sent this photo to my grandmother and notes on the back: “Rob & his most prized possession.  That’s $900 worth of motorcycle.  He’d sell me before he’d sell it.”  Note that he bears a passing resemblance to a young James Garner.  He now bears a passing resemblance to an older James Garner, if James Garner were of hardier German peasant stock than I suspect he actually was.

Dad Bonneville 1969Exhibit C: The children pose with Dad’s friend’s Bonneville.  We were probably not permitted this close to Dad’s.  Note the funky aftermarket pipes.  Also, Mother informs me that she made this dress for me, and that my brother Craig had a matching shirt that she also made.

Deb Craig BonnevilleExhibits D and E: Spanish Motocross.  Somewhere near Rota, Spain, December of 1969.  Does Mother not look extra glamorous in these?  I can’t get over it.  She is in the orange jacket.  May I bring your attention to Craig and I guzzling beverages from cans in the first, while he is also wearing someone’s golden astronauty-looking helmet?  And LOOK at the split-window VW bus in the second!  This is too much.  It’s too much, I say.  motocross 1969 motocross 1969aExhibit F: Mother and I pose with Bonneville and pregnant dog.  It is noted on the back that this was before the dog, Busta, had her pups.  What happened to Busta or the pups is lost to history, at least until I inquire of Mother.

motocross 1969bExhibit G is my grandmother, Vivian Irene Kuno, and I think those are cousins.  My Mother can certainly fill me in, I’ll have to ask her.  This photo is not dated but my grandmother was born in 1923 and looks around 7ish?  So in the neighborhood of 1930ish.  The names, from left:  Vivian, Francis, Bernice, Marjorie, Eunice, Jeannette.  How Grapes of Wrath is this picture?

Vivan Kuno and cousinsAnd lastly (for tonight, as this is all I have managed to scan in as yet, but more will follow), Exhibit H: Grandma Vivian, stylish and young, 1948.  She looks as though butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, and it probably wouldn’t, and I say that with tremendous love and respect.

Vivian Kuno

Fernichers

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So recently The Lovely Rhonda and I decided to replace our bed, which was becoming a canoe.  We both spent our nights clinging to the edges and trying not to roll into one another, except when I would somehow (allegedly) end up in the center of the bed and (allegedly) wallow there in all my glory, thereby (allegedly) restricting her to a thin strip of the mattress.  This is entirely hearsay and she can’t prove anything, but to humor her we spent an insane amount of money on what had better turn out to be the nicest bed anyone’s ever slept on, including Elvis Presley and the Queen of Anyplace.

Off we went to a mattress retailer and procured a mattress that cost more than my first car.  It cost, in fact, more than 3 times what I paid for my first car.  Of course, that was in like 1994 and it was a ’66 Chevy BelAir beater, but still.

Then we thought to ourselves, well, I guess it’s time for real furniture.  We already had a sort of a real bed in that it was a wooden headboard and footboard and all that, but it was from Ikea.  Which is like real furniture except flimsier.  Now we were upgrading to a bigger bed, so…  we found ourselves in a big-box furniture store which for the sake of argument we’ll call Por, for that is similar to its actual name and nicely describes the feeling we left with, searching for a sturdy, heirloom-quality bed set.

We wandered around, marveling at the many truly hideous collections and occasionally appreciating a few items.  After narrowing it down to two styles, we hunted down a Ferenghi and commenced with the haggling.

I kid.  I’m not a haggler.  I find it stressful.  I’m not scrappy in that way.  Just tell me the price and let me get this over with.

The nice salesman, whom we shall call Tad the Wonder Boy, oiled his way over to us and opened the faucet of smarm.  I believe he may have even referred to us as “ladies,” which just goes to show.  I’m not sure what it shows, but it does.

It turned out that the one collection was completely out of stock, so we decided to go with the other.  “Oh, well, that one’s mostly in stock,” said Tad the Wonder Boy encouragingly.  We hashed out the details and arranged to pick up the in-stock items at the warehouse.  I signed away some of my future earnings and away we went.  (It’s okay, though; no interest and no tax, if you’re worried about our spending habits.  It’s on time but at least it’s not on time and racking up interest!)

We arranged with a friend and her pickup truck to fetch the in-stock items, which was promised to be all but one item.  This occurred in the rain and dark, the friend got lost, and I was fighting the flu, so yay.  Goooood times.  We squeaked in at the last moment to get the stuff — but no.  Only the bed frame was in stock.  TAD YOU LYING BASTARD COME DOWN HERE RIGHT NOW, I wanted to say, but I held it in.  Just keep swimming.  We tied the gargantuan boxes to the truck and inched our way home.  Unloading the boxes was sure fun.  Not only were they huge, and now damp, they were also ridiculously heavy.

A couple of days later here comes a message from Tad.  He does not understand why they did not provide me with all of the furniture items promised.  He insinuates that the warehouse folk are perhaps enthusiasts of certain quasi-legal herbal remedies. He offers to have the remaining items delivered, free of charge.

Uh, no.  When I call back to schedule delivery, the very nice lady tells me that if they deliver, they will have to charge state tax.  Instead we are promised a gift card at the conclusion of the deal.  Fine.  I’ll take it.

Oh, and also.  Tad had his head firmly lodged way up his posterior regions when he told me we could pick the items up when we planned to, because the items (aside from the bed frame) wouldn’t actually be delivered to the warehouse until days later.

Then the other night I finally got off my lazy, trying-not-to-get-the-flu butt and measured the room.

Um, you guys?  We have a problem.  The furniture is too large to fit.

Today I returned to Por and informed them of the problem.  They congratulated me for at least measuring before I got the furniture home.  We swapped out the dresser/mirror for a taller, skinnier chest of drawers.  Which sadly won’t be here for a month.  I then drove to the warehouse and took delivery of the existing, miraculously in-stock nightstand and chest of drawers, which equally miraculously fit nicely into the back of the Minivan of Justice.

While I waited for the alleged herbal remedy enthusiasts to gather my items from the capacious warehouse, I observed a well-dressed couple returning a mirror.  It possessed a flaw, they said.  This led to the following text message exchange:

Me: Watching a bitchy yuppie couple inspect a mirror for distortion.

TLR: Oh boy.

Me: “This mirror has the same flaw!” *stamps tiny high heel impatiently*

TLR: Wow.  I can’t even imagine.

Me: I believe they are fetching yet a third for inspection.

Me: Meanwhile mr and mrs bitchy resting face fume silently

Me: Now he has his arm around her protectively.

TLR: Must protect her from flawed mirrors!

Me: She will blame him for her ugliness and he will say it’s not the mirror! And she will shoot him with his own gun.

TLR: HAHAHAHAHA

Dudebros and Dirty Hippies

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So last weekend was Labor Day weekend, which we celebrated by driving for hours to the middle of nowhere and camping in a big wagon-wheel campground. We did this with I don’t know, several thousand other like-minded individuals from every walk of life. We camped and then in the evenings we went to see some music. Some Brandi Carlile and some Dave Matthews Band.

You may recall that I am now lightly disabled in that my glorious feets decline to carry me for long without discomfort that progresses into bona-fide pain. I’m still adjusting to this idea. But in the interest of being able to go to the zoo, the fair, Disneyland, etc, we purchased a scooter off of Craigslist recently. And I now have a disabled parking pass, because on a bad day a trip to the grocery store is pretty iffy and every step saved is a blessing. It’s kind of ridiculous. And sad. And it really, really pisses me off.

But it is what it is, and so because I didn’t think I could manage the long hike to and from the campground we inquired as to what accommodation could be found there.

So it happened that we found ourselves in the ADA part of the campground, which is closest to the general store and the shuttle and so forth. And as I understand it, it’s somewhat quieter than the standard campground, although a surprising number of people have zero compunctions about having loud conversations at 7am in a campground full of sleeping campers. More on that later.

If you’ve never been to the Gorge Amphitheater, you’re missing out. It’s pretty much perfect.Kinda amazing, no?

I’ve seen DMB here on a couple of other occasions but had reserved seats each time and stayed in hotels.  This was totally different.

For starters, we got lawn tickets.  Above the flat area where the reserved seats are, where there would be balconies in a theater, is the lawn.  It’s a terraced hillside and it’s general seating aside from a small reserved area.  We had intended to sit on a blanket in this area, perhaps with event chairs, and while away the afternoons.

But then we saw the ADA section.  If you camped in the ADA section or parked in ADA parking, you got a wristband like so:

247… Which in turn enabled you to sit in the ADA section of the amphitheater, and also to use the ADA restrooms which are quite nearby.  The top photo shows the view from the ADA section.  It’s not bad, right behind the reserved boxes, and nobody stands up and obscures your view like on the lawn.  It’s first come first served, but this wasn’t really an issue if you got there in time to see Brandi Carlile perform, which we did.

The shows were amazing.  DMB performed Long Black Veil which I am told they NEVER do, and also Crash, which they NEVER play, and also Spoon, which THEY DON’T EVER PLAY IN CONCERT OMG.

We had our personal fanboy Robert along, and he was very enthusiastic about the aforementioned factoids.

Robert is a bartender and all around awesome guy, and we had a great time camping with him.  For starters, we found that we could bellow ROBEEEERT! at him very satisfyingly.  He showed us the ropes of camping and was a delight to have around.  This is him:

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ROBEEEERT

The Lovely Rhonda was also in attendance, of course, and our friend Joni whom we know from nursing school.  Here they all are at the first night’s show.  Note how tidy and well-groomed everyone looks.

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They may have sold some adult beverages at the show, which we might have enjoyed. Maybe.

The real fun, however, was in the camping.

For starters, TLR is not a camper.  I was told early on that she required hotels, hair dryers, lattes, etc. to travel.  There will be none of this “camping,” so I was told.

Then Robert said we should camp, so suddenly we were camping.

Yeah, I’m not sure what happened either, but there it is.

We actually purchased a tent.  And these foam futon-y things we found in the As-Is section of Ikea.  Originally we were going to sleep in the back of the Minivan of Justice, but then we got the tent.  Why?  I don’t know.  It just kind of happened.  Because TLR said so, that’s why.

The ADA section is interesting.  It’s also overflow for “Premier” camping, which is basically ADA amenities for 75 dollars more per night and a fence around the area.

Behind our site was a big fifth-wheel trailer.  After a while a guy who we named The Nicest Man in the Whole Wide World ambled over.  He was from Montana, and his son has had ALS for seven years.  Here they are:

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This is not the best photo of them, it must be confessed, but it’s the only one I have.

The son can barely move or speak.  This is what he wanted to do, said TNMITWWW, So here we are.

They managed to get a message to Dave Matthews asking for an autograph, and Dave signed the freaking set list for him.  Because Dave is awesome.

263When it was time to pack up we shook TNMITWWW’s hand.  We said we hoped to see them all next year.  But I’m not sure we will.

Elsewhere in the campground we saw so many interesting folks.  Like this lady, who spent the majority of all three days wandering the ADA section of the campground talking on her cellphone.  From the bits of convo I overheard, it was all gossip and chit chat.  WTH lady?!

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Hastily snapped photo with finger.

At one point I did attempt to shower, but the line just to get into the shower, disabled or not, was at least an hour long.

Welp, looks like another layer of deodorant it is!  The Lovely Rhonda stayed for the shower but I just couldn’t sit there that long.

By the time we got home, my hair was starting to form actual dreadlocks and TLR stayed carefully upwind of me at all times.

Next: Going Home

Flu sucks.

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So I am currently hosting some kind of convention for crappy viruses and the upshot of this is that I feel really, really crummy.  This has been going on since Sunday afternoon when instead of running a few errands, doing a little housework, and settling in to a few carefree hours of masters-level homework, I found myself paralyzed by fatigue in my Really Big Kinda Ugly Leather Recliner.

I failed to really seize on the importance of this until bedtime when I began to shiver uncontrollably.  This is when the whining began.  The Lovely Rhonda can attest:  “Man, I feel crappy.  This is like tuberculosis crappy.  Nobody said I would feel this crappy.  I don’t know if I can go on feeling this crappy.”  I spent the rest of the night alternately sweating and mourning the loss of virtually all of the strength in my entire body.

Yesterday (Monday) I spent laying in bed.

Those of you who know me, even only through FB or similar, may note that this is unusual for me.  While I am admittedly lazy, there is also a limit to the amount of idleness I can stand, so eventually, even when afflicted with pneumonia or the actual bona-fide flu, I will still do laundry or alphabetize the bookshelf or something.

Oh, not yesterday.  I laid in bed so long that my back hurts.  I did shower and had grandiose plans of going to a store to purchase soap and root beer, more out of needing a small errand to get me out of the house than any urgent need for either item.  But then I sat down to put my shoes on.

I wear orthotics in my shoes and transferring them to a different pair of shoes (because motorcycle boots don’t really go with shorts) was more complication than I was prepared to handle.  I went back to bed.

I have virtually nothing to show for yesterday, and that for me is pretty impressive.

Today is slightly better in that I actually emerged from bed and then made coffee and toast, and sat watching Carol Burnett DVDs for a little while.

Now I’m going to go lay down and gather strength for showering and looking at work email.

Family Camp

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So five years ago The Lovely Rhonda and I decided to drag the children to our church’s camp for a few days of Family Camp.

We took only the older two girls as the youngest was barely two years old and we thought summer camp + diapers = misery.  We were kind of correct in this regard.  The baby went to Grandma’s.

The camp is only about an hour from where we live but it might as well be on Mars, in some ways.  It’s set on something like 200 wooded acres, with a stream or two running through it, and sometimes you can see deer wandering along in the evening.  And every night the bats start flapping around after dusk, just in time for campfire.  The cabins have sturdy wooden bunkbeds in them (and, thank God, modern plumbing) and meals are served in the lodge.  College-age staff members keep the kids amused, and the boring old grownups sit around talking about boring old grownup stuff.  There is a lot of crafting.  It’s fun.

We have gone every year now for five years.  The first year, the middle child made it two nights but lost her ever. loving. mind. in the morning after the second night, when the pink Play-Doh was already in use.  She had such difficulty that Grandma had to come whisk her away.  She does not tolerate change well sometimes.

The second year we brought the youngest with us too, and it was she who required Grandma’s rescue services after a couple of nights.

The third year we all survived the entire ordeal.  Yay us!

Last year TLR felt that we should up the ante and stay the entire week.  By Thursday we were pretty much all losing our ever. loving. minds.

This year, TLR came up with the brilliant plan to go for the entire week but only bring the children in halfway through, thus enabling us to relax a bit before the onslaught of whining/bug bites/dissatisfactions/misbehavior that our children excel at.

Each year we get to know the other families a little better.  They are all fantastic people, and they keep coming back year after year; some of them have been coming literally all their lives — and they are older than I am.  We all look forward to this all year long.  There are certain customs: hand-cranked ice cream, afternoons at the swimming hole, crafts everywhere, night hikes, singing and skits at campfire.

We created our own customs.  One night at campfire, usually the last night, we (along with our delightful friend Kirsten) bring s’mores supplies and everyone makes s’mores after all the skits and songs are over.  We bring plenty so people can have all they want, and there’s a lot of chatting and spontaneous bursting into song that happens.  And kids with marshmallow and chocolate all over their faces.

And on the last night, if possible, we bribe the counselors into hanging out in the cabins that have small children in them so the parents can go to the lodge and play table games.  We bring snacks and junk food and everyone — even the salad-eating Knierim family — gobbles everything up so we don’t have to be bothered with taking it home.  We have a wonderful time.

This year was especially relaxing because I had just completed my BSN the week before camp.  It was a beautiful thing, to spend a week in the woods with such good people at this particular point in time.

Bee Ess En.

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So about eight years ago I made the decision to go to nursing school.

I made this decision because I was at a kind of a crossroads, and I needed a profession that would support me and my daughter.  And also one that I found interesting and satisfying.  And?  It had to be fast.  Because the crossroads wasn’t somewhere I could stay for long.

I applied to an associate’s degree program in nursing at Clark College, which takes so many prerequisite courses that it really ought to be a bachelor’s program.  I didn’t have to take that many prerequisites because of all the math and chemistry I’d taken for my first degree.  I got into the program fairly readily and I did well there.  In December of 2009 I graduated, and a few weeks later passed my NCLEX.

Voila!  Registered Nurse.

Along the way I met The Lovely Rhonda.  She was one quarter ahead of me and graduated in June of 2009.

A year and  a half ago Rhonda got this wild hair and decided it was time to go back and get the BSN.  I was reluctant.  There was a lot of heavy shit going down in our lives, particularly mine, and I didn’t really want to go back to school.  But I did.  Because Rhonda made me.

It hasn’t been easy.  It turns out that I suck at saying, But honey.  We can’t go do the fun thing.  We have to stay home and do the schooling. 

Instead I say, DO ALL THE FUN THINGS!  Until a month before I have to wrap the term up, and then I say SHIT I HAVE SO MUCH TO DO!  YOU DID THIS TO ME!  And I make Rhonda feel terrible about making us go back to school.

A couple of days ago I turned in my practicum paper, which is the final project for the BSN.  And then I commenced with the hourly checking of the computer.  Did they grade it?  Did I pass?  Would it need revision?

I sent my mentor an email this afternoon.  Still no results.  Am losing mind.

Hang in there, she emailed back. They’re grading it right now.

We went to a concert this evening and afterward I checked again.  I fully expected it to say, This paper sucks and you’re bad and you should feel bad.

Or at least the dreaded Needs Revision. 

But what it said was, MEETS REQUIREMENT.

MEETS CRITERIA

So I have my BSN.

And I’m sorry I made Rhonda feel bad.  It was the right thing to do, going back to school.

You were right, darling.  And I was wrong.

Thanks for being right!