Tuesday, July 31, 2007

You Don't See This Everyday

I received this notice the other day:

It took me by surprise. I had to read it again because, lowering the price? Without me calling to complain or anything? That just doesn't happen. But somewhere somebody got a whif of pixie dust and crafted this lovely price-lowering policy. And I love them.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Overtaxed and An Organ Down

It's Friday night.......already? What a week. Here's what it looked like:

It's supposed to be blurry, with smudged contrasts of blurriness. That about sums it up. The reason for my vague references of smooshed time is that we had another week of day camp. I think I mentioned that in my previous post, but I'll tell you more about it now.

It was a themed week - soccer - and half of the day. (Although the above picture is from spring soccer, because it's way too hot to wear long-sleeves or sweatpants this time of year. Just FYI.) Camp was in the mornings, this time. The week started off well and good, but as it progressed OC became very tired and worn out as one is wont to do after running around for two to three hours in the sun and kicking a ball, then spending the afternoon by running around in the sun while variously climbing in and out of a wading pool in your back yard. It's not a bad life, but does takes its toll on the energy reserves of youngsters. And older persons, for that matter. So it was for OC.

There were several days she said she felt sick, like she was going to throw up which I attributed to the heat and all that exercise. I gave her cups of ice water and free time so she could rest. I don't think she slept as well at night for some reason.

Today was, again, water fun day but alas, we were only signed up for morning camp. Water fun is reserved for the afternoons when the sun is at its highest scorching capability to burn your child - if extra sunscreen is not applied. I can't say I'm fond of the woman who I always meet there who constantly talks about her grown sons. Maybe it's just me, but I'd like her to pay attention to what is going on with the kids she is currently with, and what might need to be done with them because she always seems a little distracted. Perhaps tucking away the familial anecdotes would help to that end.

I came to pick her up at lunch time and there was a meltdown. She was horrified that she would have to leave before water fun day could commence. Before she could tell me this, I was met with the none too heartwarming reaction, "Oh no, my mom!" Imagine an equally disappointed tone of voice and you have it exactly.

The afternoon was saved when I offered that her friend from her old school was at a nearby resort and had invited us over for lunch and a swim. She stopped crying, but wasn't quite convinced it would be better than the three-feet high blow-up slide and a massive sunburn that was sure to be the result of water fun day if history repeats itself. (Okay, there was that one day where they DID remember to reapply sunscreen, if not a little spottily, but it's the sunburn that made her cry that I remember best.) Or, perhaps she was thinking of staying with friends she was already with and it was a transitions thing. Anyway, we got to the car in short order, cooperation was bribed with the promise of an ice cream bar of the cooperee's choice, and we were off.

Keep in mind that for all of these activities (soccer and swimming) it requires special gear not normally found in my car. So I had to anticipate and pack for the whole day. Plus, I found out earlier in the week that her biological father was planning to pick her up again for his weekend and so that extra bit required (laundry, mainly) yet another bag albeit this time with no special equipment. I did manage to forget her regular tennis shoes. I am redeemed in that I remembered teddy and pink blankie.

Tonight, I am without my child. She is three hours and the other side of a mountain range away. The feelings I experience when she is away like this I can find no better way to describe than to liken it to the way it must feel to be without an important organ. One's stomach, for instance. Imagine being told you must survive a weekend without your stomach because it needs to go visit someone in another town. It seems impossible, so Machiavellian and just wrong.

I miss her so much. The smell of her freshly washed hair, or quite frankly, the smell of her dirty hair, are both equally wonderful to me. Luckily, it is only for the weekend and not an entire week that she will be away. Although, her incredibly short-sided father did ask me at the time of drop off tonight if we had plans for the week. I'm sorry, even if I didn't? I would not be willing to make plans on a Friday night at drop off for more days than I planned for and packed for. Even if I did forget her tennis shoes.

It's not fair, but it's my fault; but things are better this way, but they are terrible in some. And so the cycle goes.

I won't feel right again, won't feel myself, until Sunday night on top of the mountain when I am rejoined with my missing piece of sweet little girlness, and the inevitable trouble she will have at the readjustment of coming home with me. Her reaction at this time is generally not in the vein of, "Oh no, it's mom!" At least not for another decade.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I Was Away...

We are back from camping. Did I mention we were going camping? We returned Sunday, but OC has day camp this week and I'm up way past my eyeballs in laundry and putting everything away - much less the normal day to day cleaning - and so it's taking me awhile to get it together to post.

We stayed at a fire lookout in Eastern Oregon. It was great, and also kind of scary climbing the rickety stairs the first time. But then, the beauty of the place took away any thoughts of the possibility of plunging to one's death. Nature is cool that way.

The lookout had an American flag inside! OC has had a thing for American flags since she was a toddler. I have no idea why, nor do I remember how it got started but to this day she is fascinated and enamored with the stars and stripes.

One fine evening on top of Fall Mountain with wildfire smoke in the distance, happily digesting our s'mores.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Blah Blah Land

I have good intentions and some ideas for posts, but I'm sick. It makes sense, doesn't it? It's the summer: hence there are cold germs. (???)

Anyway. The lolcat comic I have planned will have to wait, as will the rest of the photos from the gallivanting we did in June.

I'm going to go lie down now and rest up for the afternoon grocery shopping extravaganza, because maybe later I'll feel like eating.

Friday, July 13, 2007


OC in the pool at her grandma's house in Boise last month:

OC is at day camp this week, half days. It's yoga and tai chi week, with Friday being water fun day. Otherwise known as "Maybe We Will But Then Again Maybe We Won't Get Sunscreen on Your Kid" day.

The last water fun day, OC came home with a bad sunburn. Not blistery, but bad enough to hurt. There was crying, and a mother's heart broke into pieces and she felt murderous. It's horrible to see your child suffer from ANYTHING, much less something which is preventable and at the hands of people paid to supervise and protect them during what is supposed to be a safe, fun week at camp.

Today, as I slathered her with sunscreen in the yard of the camp - while she watched the other kids play - I talked to her camp counselor, who was telling me how careful they were about using lots of sunscreen. I wondered if she knew it would only work if it was applied to the actual children and not to, say, a nearby plant? Not because I think she is stupid, but because if they are using so much sunscreen I wondered where it went if not on the children. At least, it didn't seem to get on my child.

"Really?" I said. "Last time OC was here she got a sunburn. I have sunscreen here that needs to be reapplied since she'll be in the water. I would really appreciate it if you would make sure that she got an second application."

I wanted to call her names and yell and scream, because who can stand it when inept people are in charge of your children? But, we are nice here in the Northwest and yelling and screaming is something we only do anonymously and in the safety of our cars at other drivers who have no idea we're doing it. After all, they could shoot us or something.

* * * * * * * *

One day last week we went for a hike on the South Sister. The trail we took actually ended at the top of the mountain.

South Sister = 10,358 ft. elevation

The hike up the South Sister was pretty, but kinda steep. We did not go all the way to the top, stopping 2.5 miles from it. That would've meant an extra five miles on the already pretty long hike. (Look at me! Doing math and everything.) On the way back I felt like a horse on its way back to the feed trough...all sprightly and ready to go! We had talked about stopping at Cascade Lakes brewpub for a late lunch and a beer and I am all about stopping for lunches and beers.

Back on the mountain we met this woman who was running with her dog up the mountain. Yep, she was running. I called her a nut when she was out of earshot, because I'm polite like that. The dog was sooo energetic, too. We ran into her again on the way down as she was passing us because she was still running, and the dog was flipping out and excited both times. You would think his energy would have gotten used up by the time we saw them coming down, but no, no. Maybe he knew he was going to the equivalent of lunch and a beer, in which case, I can relate.

I still don't see how you can run up a mountain. Not only is it a mountain, but it is slippery. I got a minor - but it bled - scratch from tripping over a rock the size of a golf ball (there should be warning signs for that danger!) so I don't know how she managed not to fall. There was snow, too which felt like a blast of air conditioning when the breeze blew off the snow and onto our hot bodies. You'd think it would be cooler up there but it was pretty hot.

Speaking of hot, it is fire season and I live in the high desert. Granted, I live in town, but it is still a town in the high desert with wind and fire. I am not used to it. But, they had to "defend the town of Burns" recently from nearby wildfires. That doesn't do much for my feeling of security. I guess I feel vulnerable even though I know it would take a lot for a fire to get to and burn my house. The smoke nearby would be scary. One highway over the mountain pass has a sign that says Fire Interpretive Area. A wildfire blazed through the area a few years ago, and now there is an area you can go to read about what happened. I have never stopped, but I wonder, just what is on that sign? Fire burn hot lots trees dead. The end.) I mean, what? I should stop sometime just to find out.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Welcome to the World, Baby Girl

Yesterday was like this:

7:40 am: Jump out of bed. The babysitter will be here in 20 minutes, so that I can go running! There's no time to eat. I should've been up hours ago.

8:22 am: Finally go running. It's supposed to be a long one today. Ugh. It's already hot.

9:41 am: End run early. Good thing park is nearby, must use bathroom!

9:55 am: Return home.

10:02 am: Take shower. Feel much better.

10:21 am: Eat breakfast. Toast and coffee, yogurt with granola, and water. Run dishwasher. Do laundry. Open greenhouse. Do Aquadots with OC.

11:45 am: Eat lunch (pb &j). OC takes a bath.

12:30 pm: Drive OC to day camp, which this week is Yoga & Tai Chi. She should come home relaaaaaaxed. Feel kinda crappy, take big icewater with me in car.

1:25 pm: Shop at Fred Meyer. Not feeling well, probably dehydrated or overheated, although Fred Meyer is air conditioned and so is the car. Wonder about this for awhile.

2:27 pm: Return home with items. Migraine coming on. Feel extra super crappy. Take two Advil.

3:33 pm: Lie on couch. Wish for quick death. Fear death. Wish death to headache. Take two more Advil.

4:44 pm: Cry, because it's time to leave to pick up OC and feel woozy and nauseous. Wonder if driving a car is safe? Go pee, which is light yellow. Nope, not dehydrated. Electrolytes? Still wonder what is wrong. Take banana even though still nauseous.

5:45 pm: Successfully return home. Banana has worked wonders and feel better, except for the migraine.

I don't know, the rest of the evening is a blur. I got OC her dinner, then lie on the couch. I got up to get my dinner, then after I ate, I went back to the couch. At some point, OC read me some books (!!!) and then I went to sleep.

What I do know is that today is a new day, Scarlett! And also, migraines suck. They run in the family: my grandmother would get migraines, and my mom gets them. Or, used to. That was the second-worst migraine I've ever had. If four Advil can't kick it's butt in two hours? I think it might have been food allergy related for it to have been so bad. Wheat in the toast, corn in the cornstarch that was in the stir-fried tacos.

It's as though getting older isn't bad enough, what with the wrinkles and the cellulite, but food allergies are the great practical joke. You can't eat whatever you want anymore. Love popcorn? Ha!! It's a corn allergy for you, missy! I remember being 18 years old and eating all kinds of crap, none of which showed up on my youthful body. Now? I have to be careful lest the food I eat attack my brain and lay me out flat for a few hours and interfere with my ability to drive a car.

Monday, July 09, 2007

If I Were a Painter, I Would Not Inhale

Our house was built in 1945 and came with the original wooden windows. They're beautiful, but mostly they do not open or if they do, some are prone to mysteriously slamming shut of their own accord. It has freaked all of us out to be sitting on the couch or something and having a window SLAM! shut for no reason. There are two possible explanations:

1) the air temperature has cooled causing the paint to contract and removing the friction that was holding it open (not all of them have their old counterbalances; you can hear them if they are there) thus allowing the window to slam shut.

2) We have a ghost. Or ghosts.

When I think of the danger posed if the glass panes were to break upon slamming shut...that is why they were replaced with a more modern version that open when you want them to, plus the energy efficiency whosits. It's the coolest thing.

That process took awhile because when the windows arrived, it was discovered that five of them had something different about their tracks or sills or what-the-heck-ever technical windowspeak, and so the windows that had been ordered for those were too small.

Reorders were made, time passed. A holiday came and went. The grass may have grown under our feet.

Last Friday, the remaining five windows were installed. A shout went out and the homeowners were happy!

Enter: today. The windows are all done! Still happy! The painter is here to slap on a coat of paint that will soon dry and so we can hang blinds up again and give up our exhibitionist ways. Except, no. It couldn't be that easy, could it?

When we first looked at this house last fall, one of the reasons we liked it so much was the unique and beautiful colors there were throughout the house. When we moved into our house in January, we found some paint cans inside. I never looked too closely at them except to identify them as some or all of the colors used in the house, which there are many lovely and beautiful complementary colors used.

The painter looked closely at those cans this morning, only finding one trim color. There are three on the inside alone. He grumpily told me they only called him on Friday for this job (it's Monday) and that when they did they also assured him that the paint cans were here. He sighed and said he had to go to Bend to get the colors, but this was only after he checked dozens of paint chips against the front door frame. He stood there in this door frame and held up chips and then threw them on the floor. The door frame was painted the same color as the window trim, but it was not to be repainted and had the problem of reflecting not only the red color that the nearby door was painted, but also the red color of the painter's own t-shirt as he stood there, grumpily tossing paint chips because they didn't match the mysterious paint color his own shirt color was interfering with.

Even though I am a painting amateur I boldly suggested it was flawed logic to stand there with the red reflection affecting the look of the paint and chip colors. I further spoke plainly that I thought using an actual window trim piece where actual paint will be applied MIGHT JUST POSSIBLY BE SMARTER.

"But, this is where I can see the color best," painter-guy said. Yes, but if it's the wrong color.......

Um. What? How many times have you painted anything? By the looks of your shirt, many times, and while wearing that same shirt. But judging from the sense of the words coming out of your mouth are making when you consider the entire circumstance, I would guess this to be your very first time.

Did you know you could scrape paint and take it in to be analyzed and matched? And that, paint stores give out small amounts of paint as a sample that you can take with you and paint a small area as a test? And, probably other suggestions, but right now I just thought of two - TWO! - whole ideas and I am a non-painter. I can think of two things in about, oh, 10 or 15 seconds of thoughtful consideration. Painter-guy took another half hour to flip through paint chips - although he finally did move to the window trim away from the weird red light - and finally announced, but not without a think slathering of resignation, "I have to go to Bend to test this paint."


I think I had five aneurysms already, buddy. Glad you arrived at what I figured out as soon as I knew there weren't actual paint colors available in the cans I had!!!! ARGH!!!!!

If they were looking for a spokesperson, I think low-VOC paint manufacturers have a live one in this guy, because duuuuuuuude.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Butte to Butte

It's 8:10 pm. The kitties and the husband are sprawled on the couch. The temperature outside is 83 degrees. Oh, but it's a DRY heat. Argh. Yes, okay, there IS something to the humidity vs. dry thing (just having been to DC, I can say that yes humidity carries more heat) but I really don't care. When you're hot, you're hot. Hot is hot is hot!

OH and I keep reminding one another "we ran a 10k...we actually RAN a 10k..." because dude, we totally ran a 10k! Yesterday. The continual reminders might be from the heat, but I don't think so. It's more like disbelief that we didn't die from running a 10k for the first time. You might remember that we participated in this lovely 5k last month? It was quite challenging. Since that time, we've continued to train, but even then I wasn't sure I was ready for the 6.2 miles and what's more, that long-ass hill.

It was this crazy one where the first mile consists of one big old hill. Then, it's downhill and flat for the long, long finish. I have never run that far or done hills before, so I was a'skeered. I was so scared that I neglected to sign up in advance. I guess I wasn't sure if we were actually going to do it. Because I was ready to back out, I really was. Instead, we did it this way so we got to stress out over getting there early to register, then wait in the looooooong line for the bathroom, which we just managed to use before the start of the race.

I keep switching pronouns. I'll just say "I" from now on unless it makes sense to say "we".

The good news is that I learned there is another person on the planet more neurotic than I. It's true! (I had no idea.) She was immediately behind me in line for the bathrooms. As it got closer to 8 am - the start time of the race - she kept thinking she heard the "Star-Spangled Banner" music being played which would signal the start - and told us so and then asked if we heard it to, did we? did we? - while actively considering not going pee before in order to get in the pack for the start. I mean, what a nut. I was resolved that I was definitely going to pee before the race even if that meant running across the school's lawn to join up with the race in-progress, if need be. I consoled myself by saying that, "This is America. It's not like we'll get shot if we're not at the start by 8 am." Freedom rules!

There cannot be a new experience which involves myself that does not include some form of comical mistake or other. The Butte to Butte was no exception. The only thing new was that it happened at the end.

We'd completed this race, were all proud of ourselves and enjoying our whole not-dying achievement while milling around with the thousands of other people in the park after the race, drinking our free sports drinks. We thought we should look for the shuttle to take us back to the beginning. After a while we realized that, sadly, there was no shuttle at the end. There was a shuttle but that was only for the smart people who parked their cars at the END OF THE RACE, like the website said quite plainly. Oops.

All was not lost, however; we were near people who said they were going to catch a bus back to their car. I quickly deduced that these were smart people, since they knew the bus schedule, where to go to catch the bus and, oh yes, had brought actual shiny money to pay for the bus. Wow, it's so cool when you meet members of Mensa. So, we did the only thing left we could do: we followed them. Our chances were 50/50 that the busdriver would let us on since we only carried our car keys and a cell phone. I figured the cell phone was useful for calling a cab if need be, since the money was in the car at the end, and you pay taxi drivers at the end. The third, inexplicable option to turn our anticipated 10k into a 20k? Was NOT GOING TO FREAKING HAPPEN.

Long story short: the busdriver let us ride for free and so, we relaxed into a sweaty haze of gratitude.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Happy Birthday To You

At this age she is anxious to help, even when it's washing the car, God bless her.

Washing the Mustang which would ferry me to the airport.

My trip to DC started off with a lovely sendoff from my family. We ate burgers and drank beer at the airport restaurant, then I went through security and OC and OH went to their magical daddy/daughter weekend. Once I got to Portland, US Airways had wisely decided to cancel the overnight flight due to thunderstorms on the east coast. Because in the time it takes to fly across the country, those thunderstorms would likely still be there.

The next day I spent flying when I should have already been there. Great! With only three days to spend being reduced to two, I was not happy. Especially after being sent to the "suspicious" line, or whatever it is at the airport where they separate you from the herd and search you special. Whatever. Security is awesome. Besides, it must have had something to do with women traveling alone, because that is all that were in line behind me. No big deal, I was rolling with it. Besides, once I got there we went to the movies! Late at night! With subtitles! Parlez-vous Francais? No, merci!

Orchids at the botanic gardens.

First things first. We needed tickets to ride the elevator to the top of the Washington Monument. Tickets are free, but they are handed out in the morning and you have to get there early. We stood in line, a line which extended down the street and around a corner. It was sunny, and beginning to get warm. We drank our coffee and ate our muffins, which we couldn't do on the Metro because they kick you off for that kind of behavior, missy! (Really, they do.)

Once we reached the ticket counter - which was really more of a booth - the list of times available were all crossed off but for one: 3:30 pm. We asked for two tickets. "That's it, tickets are all gone!" the woman in the Parks Service uniform announced. We had snagged the last two tickets to the Washington Monument...ahead of grandparents who were there with their nine-year old grandson. Try next time, suckas! I did feel a little bad, but, there were only two tickets left so they would've had to fight over who got to go and who really wants to see grandparents fight in front of their grandson? That's just sad.

Speaking of the Washington Monument, the views are not bad from the top of the District's tallest structure:

The light-colored paths down there? That's gravel. The grassy areas they use for festivals and functions and gatherings. It's a long walk from the Washington Monument to the Capitol building.

View from the top of the Washington Monument of the world's largest crop circle. Also, the White House.

The Lincoln Memorial looks small, but when you get to it it's H-U-G-E. You can read the Gettysburg Address as well as his second inaugural speech. Both are carved onto the walls. That's the WWII memorial in foreground.

We walked all over the city, including on this path that you see on the lower edge of that body of water that takes you to the Jefferson Memorial, then we continued to the right in a loop to the FDR memorial after passing about eight or nine million Future Leaders of America in their little suits and skirts who seemed to feel that leaders should have the whole sidewalk and not move for others.

When I was in the Jefferson Memorial, I noticed the various people who were in DC. The multitude of skin tones and languages milling about, all reading and taking pictures made me think about what all of these people were doing here; these monuments mean something, represent important ideals not just to Americans but to the world.

Of course we walked to the Capitol.

After seeing the Library of Congress, we walked outside to find the Supreme Court building is right next door. And yes, those stairs are quite impressive.

FDR quote.

One can't help being both awed while contemplating the second inaugural address, and giggly while remembering "The Simpson's" episode where Lisa wrote the speech but then changed it to excoriate the cesspool that is corrupt officials supposedly representing democracy. Both are true. This is a place of high ideals and backroom deals. It's human nature.

Korean War Memorial tribute.

Washington DC may be a cesspool that breeds corruption in some, but it's also a beautiful place that represents a proud nation of caring, passionate, flawed, forthright, and free people who have the opportunity to remove the corrupt and try again. Checks and balances, baby, checks and balances. And the right to vote. You gotta love it.