Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The crazy continues

I've got a roast in the oven.

I should be leaving for choir rehearsal in a half hour.

Ken should be getting home in 10 minutes.








The phone just rang.

It was Ken.

He's been in an accident on the freeway, and he's waiting for the police. He's been hit, his car is smashed, but he didn't hit anyone else. His car is undrive-able. He thinks he is ok, but he's not really sure.

We don't dare go outside right now.

I'd probably be struck by lightning. Or one of the kids will be carried off by some rogue 100-pound goshawk, or something.

A day of crazy surprises

Yesterday, I decided I would buckle down, and get all domestic. I was done with the filth that I had slid into, and, as the Pillars of Character Assembly that Kelly and Nate had attended at their school the previous week had admonished in some catchy little "song with 2-letter words"... "If it is to be, it is up to me"

So after I took the kids to school, and went to the gym to take out my frustrations on the elliptical, I returned with a vengeance, and hit the ground running.

Five loads of laundry. Check.

Swept and washed the kitchen floor. Check.

Scrubbed out the toilets to a sparkly white shine. Check.

Fed pets. Check.

Finish Skip's Gandalf costume. Check!

Cleaned out the Triops 3.0 pond. Check.

Phone calls. Mostly check.

You see, I was on the phone, letting down (gently) the Travelling Actors (who had called while I was out, wondering if they could stay with us on short notice this weekend. See? I *DO* know how to say "no"!!!), when I heard a thump downstairs. Sort of like when I heard someone trying to come in the front door the other night, but less freaky, because it was the middle of the day, and somehow, I think my mad ninja skillz work better by light of day.

When I got off the phone, I went downstairs, wondering what the thump could have been. It sort of sounded like it came from the front picture window, but WHO is stupid enough to try to come through that when I usually (accidentally) leave my front door unlocked?

I opened the blinds a bit and peeked out.

There, not 4 feet from the front window, right THERE on the grass, was a giant hawk, with a plump quail in his talons.

Yikes, those things look mostrous close up.

And of course, I didn't know where my camera was. So there is no photographic evidence.

You'll just have to take my word for it.

Oh, but I could take a photo of the front porch. It looks like a grey feather bomb exploded.

Then, last night. More surprises.

My best friend here called, just as I was trying to figure out supper, to say that she'd been given a gift card for a restaurant that had just opened in Redwood City, and did I want to bring our family to come 'test the menu'?

Duh! Of course we'll be there. So I hustled the kids into Homer, and called Ken to meet us there, rather than coming all the way home, then turning around. We all met at the restaurant at 6:30, and had the BEST Hunan food I think I've ever had. Ooh. I have photos.

Salty string beans with shredded pork and chili. Oh! Man! My salivary glands just went into overdrive.

Chow fat with bbq pork in foreground. A tiny glimpse of amazing lemon chicken with peas and carrots in the rear. Oh! I'm drowning in my own Pavlovian response!

Such. Great. Food!

(and we had a gift card! Is there anything better than delicious food that costs a fraction of what you expect to pay?)

SO, we're rolling our fat selves back to the cars, and we get to the Peet's on the corner, where Ken had parked, and we're joking about going into Peet's for "dessert", even though we can't stuff another speck in, when Ken notices that he's got something on his windshield. A ticket? But the parking meters are only in effect until 6pm. We're stumped. Until Ken goes over to look at it.

"I saw a White Charger back into your car and smash your grille. It drove away. I wrote down the license plate... XXX-XXX. My name is xxxxx, and my phone number is xxx-xxxx if the police need to contact me."

And yes, it was dark, and you know what? If that note hadn't been on the car, Ken might not have noticed the damage until we got home. Or until his car didn't start, or drove funny because of the damage.

On the one hand? What a bummer! His car is smashed. On the other? Hooray for Good Samaritans who go out of their way to help and get involved.

We went into the Peet's, to ask for a phone book so we could get the non-emergency number for the local police. The people that worked in there were SO helpful. Apparently, it had JUST happened. And the guy that witnessed it was a Peet's regular, so they all vouched for him.

While we waited for the police to arrive, the Peet's folks made Ken a latte (he figured he'd better buy something, seeing as he'd be waiting in their shop), and then comped us three lovely pastries and glasses of milk for the kids. They were so kind. I fully intend on writing to the Peet's head office to let them know that they've got a good group at that location.

No sooner had we got home than the phone rang, and a very contrite White Charger driver was calling Ken to apologize profusely and offer to pay fully for any damage repairs. Apparently he'd been on the receiving end of a very pointed lecture from a stern officer about how it was well within Ken's rights to have him arrested for Hit and Run, and he should thank his lucky stars that Ken was being so reasonable, and he'd better jump right up and make amends as soon as possible to avoid any further legal action by either Ken OR the police for his rash decision to leave the scene.


But it's a drag, because now Ken has to run around and get estimates, and actually get the work done.

I hope it's really expensive. And I hope Ken gets a fun and fancy rental car out of the deal.

But that's just me. Ken is much more forgiving.

But now I must go and get ready for Babies and Books.

I think I'll take the Gandalf kit out for a Test Drive.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I want my mummy.

I walked out the door yesterday afternoon to go grocery shopping, and nearly stepped in a nightmare.

Seems one of the neighbourhood cats loves me.

They'd left me a rat.

But not just any rat.

This was a completely dried and DESSICATED MUMMIFIED RAT!

Completely dry.

Completely shrivelled up.

Kelly and I had to look twice at it to decide what it was. It was the little yellow front teeth that finally gave it away. Oh, and the long hairless tail.

Still creeptacular.

I just got an email from my mom.

There's been a lot of road construction over the last year to make the Highway that connects the area in BC that my folks live with the area where my grandmother lives.

The construction was welcomed, even though it was inconvenient, but finally, once this summer rolled around, the little dangerous winding 2-lane highway had been upgraded into a 4-lane wonderland.

Until this Friday, apparently.

When the hillside above the highway started cracking and slumping.

There are still many folks in the area that remember the Hope Slide (some time in the 60s), which was just awful and devastating (but happened at a time of day when there was virtually NOBODY on the road, so only 2 carloads were lost forever), and there's enough nervousness that the road was immediately shut down.

Fortunately, mom and dad had been down to see my Nana on Thursday, and they say that she's fine for another week. And by that time, my folks may be ready to do the giant road trip (or maybe the 'fun' road trip down through the logging roads) to visit her again. Or maybe the powers that be will have figured things out, and decided how to fix the potential landslide-of-great-magnitude.

Here. I stole some photos of my homeland.

(at the very, VERY top of this photo is the village where my mom grew up, and the beach that I spent every summer on when I was growing up, too) It's kind of freaky to see that road, that I've travelled on many, MANY times, and know that there's a big sleeping giant of a landslide possible.

The road, on this photo, is JUST off the photo at the bottom right corner, and then hugs the hillside up the right side of the picture.


Have I mentioned that I got a call to be a ringer in the college-affiliated choir that Ken and I used to sing with before kids' schedules took over our lives?

Yeah, yeah, I hear you all singing the "She's just a girl that can't say 'No'" song, but this might be fun. I haven't seen these folks for nearly 3 years, and I'm ready to sing again.

Of course, when I showed up at my first rehearsal (they've already been rehearsing for 2 months), the thing I heard the most was "So, where's KEN? You didn't come alone, did you?"

Yes, give me an inferiority complex, will you?

Anyways, there's some really fun and cool songs in the repertoire, and I'm looking forward to the concert.

I just realized that I have to dress up for Babies and Books at the public library on Tuesday. And I just got a phone call that I'll be doing the gig solo. The woman who is in charge, and really runs the show has a doctor's appointment, and the doctor resheduled it for Tuesday, and with this doctor, you don't say "Sorry, I can't do it", so she's out of commission, and this session (the last session before Halloween) is often our BUSIEST one, because every over-achiever mom in the city brings their little bambino in some extravagant costume.

So I've gotta get all dolled up (mommies with cameras want a photo documentation of their little darling's costume, and they want it with The Guitar Lady), and I have NO IDEA what I'm gonna do.

Last year (and the year before), I dressed up as a leopard. I've got a leopard print shell and a leopard print pencil skirt, and I did my face all up with leopard spots, but I don't wanna do that this year, because I go straight to serving ice cream at the middle school, and these kids will eat a leopard-print soccer mom and spit her out.

I looked at Kelly's Betsy Ross costume, but it's too short. (and only about 23 sizes too small).

Nate's Indian costume likewise... too short, and MILES too tight.

Two years ago, Skip was Einstein. That might be fun, but the lab coat's a little snug, and I need to be able to move my arms freely to play guitar.

And then it hit me. If I finish Skip's Gandalf costume, I can give it a dry run on Tuesday, before the Thursday "trick-or-treating at Dad's work" gig, and the THursday night youth-host-a-party-at-a-homeless-shelter event, and the Friday costume-at-school shindig.

Oh! And on the topic of the Gandalf Costume. I had 6.5 yards of great grey suiting material. I needed 10.5 yards.

I made some modifications to the pattern pieces, and threw all of my "I must put pattern pieces on the straight grain of fabric" OCD-ness to the 4 winds, and I managed to get EVERYTHING to fit on those 6.5 yards. I had about enough fabric left over to make Paris Hilton a string bikini. Maybe just the bottoms, actually.

I have revived my Ravelry vice.

Argh. I now have 95 items in my queue.

Yeah, like those are all gonna get made in my lifetime.

But I *am* chipping away at my brother-in-law's black wool felted socks. I fully expect to ahve those done in time to mail them to Ireland for Christmas.

And I'm toying with the idea of going in on a "RACE!" with another of my fave diarists here, to see if we can't bang out a few Christmas presents out of some luscious Fleece Artist yarn that we both have lingering in our respective stashes.

But for now, sewing is my all-encompassing obsession.

I have a costume, and a set of book bags that MUST be done this week.

And I'm gonna go sit down at the sewing maching Right NOW and start chipping away at that big old albatross around my neck.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Brain Dump

Nate has a play-date over right now.

Don't have to go get Kelly (which is a good thing - I don't think I could extract the two boys away from the Bionicle Lego and the Triops 3.0, anyways), because she's going to a friend's house after school. I hope there's food at New Friend's House... I just found Kelly's lunch kit in the back of the van, so she's probably hungry, although she's such a social athlete, she's probably stuffed from all the 'sharing' that happened at lunch when her myriad of friends found out she was lunch-less.

Don't have to get Skip until later, as it's StarCraft Club afternoon.

Ah. A little blessed peace as I sit at the computer amidst the wreckage of No Housekeeping For A Week.

I finished the Book Bags for Nate's first grade class. The teacher has them in her hot little hands. And I'm kicking myself because I never took a photo of the finished product.

Oh well. Note to self: Photograph this next set of bags you're making for Ms. Farthing's first grade class.

Joann's Accident:

I gave my kids until bedtime last night to tell me what they wanted to be for Halloween. That gives me exactly a week to put together costumes, and I really didn't think I could cut it any closer than that.

So, Kelly, in a "oh, sigh, well, I don't REALLY want to be this, but I can take one for the team" sort of way, says, at supper, "I suppose I can be Betsy Ross again."


And on the way home from Youth Group last night, Skip FINALLY confides that he thinks he'd REALLY like to be Gandalf in this Last Year of Really Dressing Up.

Um... not-score?

Actually, it's an OK score. Skip was going to just wear his old green fleece cloak that I made him in 3rd grade, until I pointed out to him that the thing barely cleared his knees. And it was GREEN, and Gandalf is known as Gandalf the GREY.

SO I told him that I'd see what I could find at the fabric store today (with my COUPON, and my GIFT CARD, and their Super Deluxe Midnight Madness Sale [on until Sunday])


A pattern for a BUCK! McCalls actually has a pattern with a picture on the front that looks EERILY like Gandalf himself.

I love patterns for a buck.

And then it was off to the clearance aisle, because ALL clearance fabric was HALF PRICE.

I found a fairly nice drape-y grey suiting marked down to $2/yard. Unfortunately, there was only 6 yards. Now for ANY OTHER COSTUME, that would be PLENTY! But this Gandalf cloak????? It requires TEN FREAKIN' YARDS of fabric. (and then, in a move that could easily give a costume-wearer heat-stroke, it suggested using FLEECE or VELVET. Can you imagine how heavy and HOT 10 yards of fleece or velvet would be????)

After angsting over the thing for far too long, I decided that close-enough was good-enough, and I found a flannel that was CLOSE in colour to the suiting, and that'll be the sleeves. Or maybe the yoke. Oh, who knows. It's a costume, for crying out loud.

But I'm gonna be playing with Felt this weekend. Skip wants a Gandalf Hat, and the pattern comes with one of those, too! This is gonna be sweet.

I had an hour before I had to be anywhere, so I thought I'd take a chance, and went off to another Joann's, hoping that I might find the same suiting on sale there, too.

Alas, the Joann's in Redwood City looks like a bomb went off in it. (And they JUST had this big swanky renovation, too!). The clearance fabric zone was like chaos wrapped in sloth. There was NO WAY I could find anything in there...

Well... anything that I really NEEDED, that is. I found a TON of stuff.

And it was all 50% off.

And we know where this is going, don't we?

But, in my defense, I now have 3 Christmas presents for Kelly, and some more storage, and some REALLY nice fabric-lined baskets for the hearth, and a WALL-E iron-on applique for a shirt for Nate, and some Rainy Day craft doo-dads (for a BUCK!), because I'm thinking ahead to when the play dates are going to be here, and it's gonna be pouring down with rain, and I won't want them out in the yard. OH, and!


My best score, possibly, of the entire day. Week! Month! Year!

Some of you may have an inkling that I am a bit of a knitter. And that maybe, JUST MAYBE, I bite off more than I can chew. And that I have horrible Start-itis.

But one thing that I have been lusting after for nearly a YEAR is this great sweater that's been making the rounds on the knit-blogs, from an old Patons leaflet. And if it had a HOPE of being found in a knit shop, it was probably scooped up by the million and seventy two knitters who ALSO wanted to knit the contents of the leaflet.

And that leaflet is NOWHERE to be found. Trust me. I've checked.


I was walking through the SECOND Joann's of the day, with my arms FULL of discount fabric, when I saw, just SITTING THERE ON A SHELF, MIS-FILED AND EVERYTHING!!!!!

Pat me on the back, though. I bought NO YARN, even though the Patons Classic Wool was $4.50 instead of $5.99.

(of course, the sale is on until November 1st. There's still time to break the bank. Erk!)

On the other hand, I have easily enough Cascade 220 to make one of these... it is in dark orange, though. More Skip's colour than mine, I will admit.. I wonder what I *do* have that I could knit one of these up in...

This is what is calling out to me...

I think I would make it a wee bit longer, though. It would be SO GREAT for the chilly mornings... of February. Because let's face it, folks, even if I *DID* have my act together, and even if I *DID* have NO OTHER PROJECTS that were crying out to be started, and even if I *DID* devote myself to this one thing, it would still take me MONTHS to make something this wonderful.

Moving on...

There's a big fancy-schmancy fundraiser shindig happening next month for the school district.

Skip has been invited to be part of a small combo that will play background jazz at the beginning of the event.

I'm pretty tickled.

If it's not Scramble, it's Pathwords.

This playing solo so I can make my standing higher and higher? It's sucking the life out of any free time I may have had. And it's sucking the life out of the time I'm supposed to be maintaining the house, too.

Intervention, anyone?

Oh, for those of you playing the "Will she ever go back to work" home game?

I passed the CBEST exam.

Now I'm just waiting for the official score, and I'll be cleared to start the application to the school district.

Do I really want to do this?

Other people's kids make me nuts.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Not all somber

Just in case any of you were worried that this has been a trip full of tears, side hugs, and touching memories...

I have just now escaped up to our room.

Downstairs in the family room, Ken and his brothers have turned into The Family Bagpipe.

Ken is the low drone. Andrew is a fourth above Ken. Fred Jr. keeps trying to be a drone, but he's laughing too hard. And John, with his nose plugged, and his left hand giving karate chops to his Adam's apple, is being the pipe, buzzing along with Amazing Grace in perfect Bagpipe pitch.

Oh wait... they're now doing the Irish Spring commercial tune. No wait. That's not it. It's the typical song (that's not Amazing Grace) that one might think of when one thinks of interminable bagpipe music.

The boys just finished going through Dad's filing cabinet. Dinner was spent with us laughing nearly until we cried over his "File of Shame" that the boys found. In it were all the things that a lesser father may have held over his sons' heads, but dad just kept to give himself a chuckle every now and then. In it? Ken's "provisional report card" where his Grade 12 Chemistry teacher was recommending that Ken be given an F. [hold on. The Family Bagpipe just tuned up a semi-tone... ouch. Will this never end?] Oh, but she couldn't actually GIVE him an F, seeing as he managed to talk his way into writing the Provincial Scholarship Exams, and got one of the top 3 marks in the entire province in Chemistry. I don't think we need to tell Skip that story. He might think of it as a challenge...

Ah. The bagpipe music has finally (blessedly) stopped.

I think it's safe to go back downstairs, even though I am in danger of being overwhelmed by the avalanche of delicious food that has continued to stream into the house. Apparently, all of mom and dad's friends are worried that the five sons still eat like they did when they were in high school.

A few more tears

Just when I think I've regained my composure...

I had just finished posting that last entry when Ken came into the room, and sat down beside me. He looked a little unsure as to how to start, and then he just blurted out,

"Um, this is awkward. I think. But I have a question for you..."

And he held up his father's wedding ring.

*cue me bursting into tears*

Mom had decided that Ken should be given dad's wedding ring. She did not say that he had to wear it. Only that it would have been what dad wanted, for his eldest son to keep the only piece of jewelry he had ever worn.

Ken wavered "I would wear it, I think, but not if it would make you uncomfortable, or if it's something you don't want me wearing."

I was overcome. That ring is so very special to me. In fact, in retrospect I'm thinking that subconsciously, I must have had Ken's ring designed to be very similar to his father's; white gold with a very subtle pattern. And it represents one of the very best marriages I have ever witnessed.

I couldn't be more proud of what that ring represents, and I couldn't be more pleased that my husband wants to wear it.

And that's a good thing, because he put it on, and I'm pretty sure it's not gonna come off without surgery now. I forgot that Ken's right ring finger was broken when he was younger, and the broken knuckle effectively became a lock, holding his father's ring in place.

I keep sitting down beside him, holding his hand, running my thumb over the 'new' ring.

It is so very precious.

The long drive home.

Amazingly enough, I was able to get pretty much everything done on Tuesday that really needed to get done.

I had all the dishes done by 5pm, and made an executive call. I would not be getting another thing dirty in my kitchen before the trip, therefore, we were going OUT for supper.

So off to the sushi place we went, the kids just pumped because they were getting sushi, and it wasn't a Special Friday Night with Dad, or a Wednesday Lunch with Mom. (um, yeah, maybe we go out a little bit too much for meals. I'll have to rein us in a bit). We were in and out in under an hour, full to the gills with sushi, and ready to go.

It was a hot muggy day, and I'd been running around, and I knew the kids had been running, too, so after hitting the grocery store (for last minute things that I knew the Irish Cousins would enjoy, and that the Ontario Niece had requested) we hit the house around 7pm. I was so proud of myself, I didn't even turn on the TV. It was just business, business, business. The kids went into the tub sequentially, and were all squeaky clean for the trip. Of course, all three of them ended up having spectacular Bed Head the next morning, but we were on the road, so who really cared?

I had all three kids in bed before 9, and that was even with Skip helping me pack the van. I had a nice luxurious shower, and then decided, after phoning Ken, and calling my dad, too, that I could watch just a LITTLE bit of tv before I packed it in, too. I had a few more loads of laundry to do, so I thought I'd kill 2 birds with one stone.

So I turned on the TV and watched the NCIS that I'd recorded. Oh, Mark Harmon, what an insipid and overtly telegraphing episode you directed. I really wanted better from you, but maybe it's for the best that it was a forgettable episode that I watched as the last load of laundry finished, before I headed off to bed before 10pm.

I usually sleep for crap on the night before a trip. I'm worried that I will sleep through the alarm, or that I'll wake up and not have a clue what it is that I'm supposed to do when the alarm goes off at 3:45. But I was in luck on Wednesday morning. I awoke to complete and absolute wakefulness at 3:03am. I guess that's what getting to bed at a reasonable hour will do. But instead of drifting back to sleep under my warm covers, I popped out of bed and decided that getting a bit of a head start was a grand idea.

The kids were a great help, and we were out the door by 3:30am. A full half hour before we usually hit the road. I imagine that we'd have gotten off to an even better start had I not realized, 3 blocks from home, that I'd left my camera batteries on the charger in the kitchen. But even with that U-turn and retracing of the steps, we were still gone by 3:39am.

I only had to drive like Steve McQueen twice.

First, as we were pulling out onto the freeway at 3:43am, I had my first real scare, and I hadn't even popped open my first Starbucks Doubleshot. I was coming around the full-circle on-ramp, only to discover that someone had lost a volkswagen-sized pile of cargo RIGHT in the middle of the onramp. I was able to swerve around, and the adrenaline rush stood me in great stead almost all the way into San Francisco. I didn't even pop the first Doubleshot until I was past the Ikea on the 80, and heading east, 30 minutes later.

(My worries about fog were unfounded. It was clear as a bell that early morning. Cold, but clear. Not a speck of fog until the sun was coming up, and then it was really just morning mist. Nothing like the pea-soup that I'd driven through on Tuesday morning while taking the kids to school.)

The second bit of Steve McQueen driving was much later in the day, when a 5-gallon white bucket suddenly decided to roll around on the shoulder, and rolled into my lane in rush hour traffic just north of Portland.

I was so proud of my kids on the trip, though. They got in the car, curled up into little balls, and proceeded to sleep for the first 4 hours of the trip. I didn't have to stop until nearly 8am, at some little pull-off Safeway-with-a-Starbucks. I loved having 240 miles of interruption-free driving under my belt by sunrise.

Oregon just goes on and on and ON, though. I crossed the border into Oregon at 9am, and just couldn't stop enough times to make it bearable. There was a gas stop, then there was a lunch stop, then there was a rest-area stop, then there was ANOTHER rest area stop, and then there was gas again, just before Portland (and RUSH HOUR! Wheeee!) And then I started to flag, which was really depressing, because I knew I still had ONE MORE STATE to drive through before I could be done, and Oregon had taken a soul-crushingly long 6 hours.

But then I hit Washington, and I didn't feel the need to stop any more. The kids swung back into a routine of watching movies and watching the road, and whining "are we there yet?", and I entered my Zen State of driving with one eye open, so the other one could rest.

Yeah, that's safe.

Fortunately, J-jumping came to the rescue with a phone call.

Oh wait. I called her.

Yeah. I was a little punchy. For the sake of this story, let's assume her eldest son (aged 14.5) is named Charles Jones. So I phone, and (because I can never tell if it's J-jumping answering the phone, or her 17 year old daughter who SOUNDS JUST LIKE HER), when the phone is answered, I giggle into the phone, and say "tee hee, is this Charlie Jones' mother? tee tee tee hee heh hee" Well, I immediately knew that it was NOT J-jumping answering the phone when the voice on the other end audibly sighed and said "Um, DUH, no, this is NOT his mother. This is his *sister*. I'll go get his mother..." I swear, you could HEAR her rolling her eyes.

Well, I can't put anything past J-jumping, so when I repeated my question when SHE answered the phone, she didn't fall for it at all.

And then she proceeded to regale me with stories that were hilariously funny, probably unrepeatable, and definitely ones that I have VERY little recall of. I know they were funny, because we were laughing like loons, but what were we talking about? No clue. It woke me up, though. Perked me RIGHT up, and made my drive through ridiculously stop-and-go south Tacoma rush hour traffic bearable.

And then we were at the hotel in Arlington. Unfortunately, they did NOT have Nate's blanket that he left there in July, but Nate was pretty sanguine about things, and was happy to shrug his shoulders, and race to the pool.

It was around 9pm, as we were bedding down for the night, that I realized that we had eaten nothing since 11am in Roseburg, Oregon. The kids were hungry, and I was in my jammies, and exhausted, and was not going to go out and grab any night lunches for them. We just went to bed, with the promise of a Free Hot Bar breakfast in the morning. WHoopsie. I'll be getting my Conscientious Mother Of The Year award in the mail next week.

The beds were VERY comfortable. For the price we paid, they should've been made by elves, and massaged you while you slept, but I was tired enough to settle for "very comfortable and down-filled comforters". I probably shouldn't have watched the Muppets Wizard of Oz, though, as I had weird dreams in the night of being on The Price is Right with that Gene Whats-his-name who was on Match Game, and having to play a price-checking game involving dancing barefoot on astroturf on a hill with a Dyson vacuum cleaner against Doogie Howser, and that very well-heeled woman who used to be on the panel of What's My Line with Bennet Cerf.

We got up at 6 yesterday morning, packed up as fast as three exhausted kids who don't want to listen to their mother will pack, had a very mediocre complimentary breakfast, fed the koi and rainbow trout in the hotel pond, and were back on the road by 7:30. We had the most trouble-free border crossing, with a very empathetic border guard, who looked like she might burst into tears herself when I said that we were driving up for Grandpa's funeral. And then we bee-lined it for the ferry, missing the 9am ferry by about 4 minutes.

WHoopsie again.

But we made it with plenty of time to spare for the 11am ferry, and made it to Grandma's house by 1:15pm.

When I got there, and had unpacked the hundred-or-so pounds of goodies for all the brothers and their kids, Ken let me know that his brother Fred (the professor in Ireland) was coveting Ken's red felted wool socks that I made him for Christmas, so I went out and bought black (Fred's choice) Patons Classic Wool at Beehive Wool Shop (a store for which I have a customer loyalty card. Yes, I have a problem. I admit it. Let's move on.) and am now knitting him up a pair that I will partially felt onto Ken's feet before mailing to Fred for Christmas.

And I may or may not have had a cashmere accident in Beehive Wool Shop.

I was sleep deprived. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Tears, they are still close.

On the whole, I've been pretty amazed at how at peace our whole family has been over dad's death.

I think it really helped that he was JUST here last week, and we had some amazing (and some might say creepily foreshadowing) conversations about getting old and dying.

But then, in the oddest moments, I'll be overcome with a wave of sadness at a memory that has seemingly NO relevance to dad or his memory.

Like, I was pouring Rice Crispies for Kelly for breakfast yesterday, and all of a sudden I realized that a week earlier, mom had been pouring the same cereal into the same bowl for dad. Cue waterworks.

Or, I was sitting down putting on my shoes, and I realized that dad had sat Right There, and on several occasions had said "You like my jacket? My cheap daughter-in-law bought it for me AT A THRIFT STORE! Can you imagine? Is that what I'm worth? Not even full price?" And he'd have this delightful twinkle in his eyes, because there were very few things he valued more than thrift. (and he was rarely without that very same jacket, too, I might add. I hit a home run finding that thing).

Or I was cleaning up yesterday, and I found an envelope under the coffee table. It was from mom and dad to Kelly. That was Just Last Week. So weird to think about how life can change in an instant. It hits me in the heart for a second, and then I have to smile, as I think about dad, sitting there on the sofa with his feet up, reading one of Kelly's novels, and probably kicking the envelope under the table so it wasn't in the way.

My Boggle Master game is still sitting on the kitchen counter. When they were here, mom, dad, and Ken (and sometimes Skip) would say they'd play Boggle with me if they were allowed to pool their scores to try to defeat me. We played so many games last week. And the high point, probably, was this one flukish round where everyone canceled out most of my words, and dad managed to BEAT ME all by himself. He asked if we'd frame that sheet, so everyone would always remember how he'd "conquered the master". Ken had found a copy of Boggle Master (it's the 5x5 board) on eBay, and had bought it for mom and dad, and they took it back to Canada with them. I hope they got to play it at least once before he died, because a game of Boggle was part of their post-lunch routine, and they got home on Saturday morning. Saturday would have been a Boggle Lunch day if they'd managed to unpack.

Ken flew home yesterday. Even though we live more than a thousand miles away, we are the closest family. His brothers are scattered around the globe, and have been scrambling to find flights and connections that will get them home. Two brothers arrive tonight, and two more will fly in on Thursday. Ken tells me that mom is doing much better today than she was yesterday. She has such a serene grace about her, it's almost eerie. I know this is a tried and true coping mechanism, but I do hope that she gets to have time alone to just cry in peace. She is not one to show her emotions (if they involve her alone) in public. Ken assures me that he is running interference, and doing all he can to take mundane burdens off her shoulders, so she is given some time and space.

I will be driving to Canada tomorrow, leaving the house at 4am (or earlier, if I can't sleep). I have some Starbucks Doubleshots in the fridge (coffee is vile, but these things work like a charm, and they're easier to chug if they're ice-cold). The fog this morning was abyssmal. And that was at 8am driving kids to school. At 4am, it's gonna be like driving in soup. And *that* is what I am NOT looking forward to the most.

I've spent much of yesterday and today running errands and shopping,

One cousin is flying in from Toronto. She's requested Ghirardelli chocolate for herself, and Airborne for her mom who can't come.

One brother is flying in from Ireland. I've got a whole suitcase full of stuff for his kids. Games, primarily, and books. Things that we were ALMOST ready to mail to him (for some astronomical shipping cost). But also things like Altoids, and turkey jerky, and M&M's. Comfort food, as I like to call it.

Another brother is flying in from Montreal. I've got Trader Joe's noodle-in-a-box meals for his daughter, who can't fly out. I need to find something for his son, who is Skip's age. Maybe a dark chocolate bar.

The brother flying in from Dubai has requested nothing. That's nice. I was drawing a blank for him, anyways.

The last brother is flying in with his wife and kids from Halifax. He wants nothing, too, but I can't resist. His kids are just so CUTE, I've gotta bring them some little things. And a TinTin movie. They'll like that.

Dad's favorite treat was to have a single Dove Dark Chocolate after supper. When they were here last week, I presented them with two bags of Dove Dark Chocolate Promises. I'd found them at Target 2/$4, which is an amazing deal, they're usually more than $4 a bag. Mom laughed, and brought out her little notebook. "That was on my list to get for your dad, but now I can just cross it off. One less thing to worry about on our trip home." At Target today, I bought 6 more bags of them. I'm going to put them out in a bowl at the memorial service. Or maybe just keep them at the house for visitors.

I was making copies of pictures this morning. Mom wants some for the memorial service.

This is the photo that they'll put on the screen at church. It was on the beach at la Grande Motte in France in March. That was a vibrant family time, and I am so grateful for all those wonderful enduring memories.

Well, I should get busy.

I've packed for the kids.

Haven't even thought about what to pack for me.

That's the next order of business.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

A fitting end.

Last weekend, Ken's folks were down here, watching Kelly get baptized.

It filled their hearts with joy.

On their drive home, they took the long way, going up the coast, watching the waves, heading over the mountains, taking back roads, getting lost, rolling into their driveway early Saturday morning.

This morning, they did what they did every morning. They got up early, did their devotions, got ready, cleaned up, and then went for their morning 3-mile walk around the golf course.

And then they walked in the door, where dad promptly fell over.


We will miss him desperately, but what a way to go. Instead of going to church this morning, Dad got to 'do church' with God himself.

I worry about Ken. He's the oldest son, and even though we live a thousand miles away, we're the closest geographically. There will be a lot of responsibility on his shoulders over these coming weeks.

Saturday, October 04, 2008


Well, I'm off to find some high school in some city I've never cruised through. It's time for the CBEST. This is the test everyone who teaches must take in order to teach in California. Apparently, subs also take this test, and because I thought it might be a lark to substitute teach in the district... argh. What was I thinking?

I am now about to go subject myself to a 4 hour test that will show me just how dumb I have gotten in the years since I had kids. I used to be a Test Taker. That was my super-power in college.

My only consolation is that there are two exam questions, and I'm hoping that my Mad Blogging Skillz will come into play there. Either that, or I will look at the exam questions and say to myself "Hey! I just read a GREAT answer to that question on so-and-so's blog, and I'm gonna use all of his/her ideas."

I spent the night having dreams about the exam. What a hoot. Not:

A car leaves Chicago travelling 25 miles per hour heading south. A mosquito leaves the car's destination 100 miles south of Chicago, flying at the super-hero mosquito speed of 50 miles per hour. Every time it meets the car, it touches the car, and instantly turns around, maintaining its velocity, travelling back and forth between the car and the destination. The car takes 4 hours to reach its destination. How far does the mosquito fly in total?

Yes. Obsess much?

And then I dreamt that I 'took some free hamsters off someone's hands' on Craigslist. I thought it was a cage with a pair, but it turned out to be seven hammies. Dwarfs. And the only room we had was in Skip's room, and it was such a sty that he'd become infested with bugs. And the hammies got loose (because they were so CUTE! And the liked to walk up my arms! And they snuggled! And then they leapt off into the void, and were never seen since! And Skip was incensed, and wasn't gonna talk to me until he found out that the little dwarf hammies were eating all the bugs in his room.

Apart from the seething mass of insect-infested food on Skip's floor in the dream (a portent of things to come? A wake-up call?), the dream was pretty fun. Who knew that dwarf hamsters could be so fun?

I hope there's a question about hamster biology on the test. I'll have that one covered.

Well, if I leave now, I can stop at Starbucks!