Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Siren Song of the Patio Swing

Was there a certain moment in my life that I turned into my father?
I don't have his nose (thank goodness!) and of course, I happen to be female. But otherwise, the similiarities between us, as I get older, I find rather disconcerting.
My knees crack when I climb the stairs, just like his did.
I have lost a significant amount of hearing just like he did.
When I am concentrating, the tip of my tongue sticks out, just like his did.
And now, when late afternoon arrives, I find myself eyeing the porch swing on our deck and thinking that little else in life sounds as good as a nap--just like he used to do on a lounge chair by the pool. It's like the siren song in the tales of the Greek gods . . . . it calls my name softly, enticingly, seductively. "Come and visit for just a moment, Tami. You deserve it . . you've worked hard." I try to resist. I put on loud music. I get involved in another writing project. And yet, somehow I end up out on the deck staring at the soft cushions, feeling the gentle summer breeze and imagining the peace of a quick nap.
My dad took naps every single day that I can remember. He would come home for a long lunch from work and spend half of it eating and the other half asleep on the closest couch or other comfy spot. After he retired, it was a common sight to see him tipped back in the Laz-y-Boy, snoozing away (although he'd tell you later he never fell asleep--he was just 'relaxing for a moment.') I remember thinking I would never, ever be old enough that I had to take a nap--that was for old people and babies.
Apparently, I am getting to be an old person, 'cuz boy oh boy, naps are like a treasure some days. Today, when I laid down on the patio swing and closed my eyes, I was sure I could hear my father chuckling. I blew a kiss skyward and said, "I hear you, dad. I miss you like crazy--but since I'm turning into you anyway, I know you're still around in spirit."
Crap. I'm even growing hair on my chin these days. Now that is just going TOO FAR.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Jack Spratt and Sleeping

You remember that old Mother Goose rhyme about Jack Spratt and his wife?

"Jack Spratt could eat no fat
His wife could eat no lean
So between the two of them
They licked the platter clean"

Well, Joseph and I are like that when it comes to sleep.
As bedtime approaches, he begins to shut down. (The ONLY time of day where he ever gets grumpy.) By the time he has changed out of his clothes and taken off his glasses, he is half asleep. When his head touches the pillow, he is three quarters. Within 5 minutes (usually closer to 60 seconds), the man is ASLEEP. I have learned never to choose this time to talk to him about anything important because he will be asleep before I finish the first sentence.

On the other hand, there is me. I get into bed, turn on my CD player, pop on the sound machine by the bed and then proceed to spend the next 30 minutes squishing my pillow, changing the covers, flipping from side to back to side, sticking one foot out of the covers, moving the pillow speaker 14 times, listening to Joseph breathe, making lists of what I need to do the next day, worrying about the kids who aren't home, missing my mom, and generally attempting to fall asleep. At last, between 30 and 60 minutes later, I do.

Lest you think he is lucky and I am not, however, let's continue this.

Morning arrives. The sun comes up. Joseph awakens at something ungodly like 5 or 5:30 a.m. He cannot go back to sleep, no matter how long he lies there. Finally, he gets up and goes downstairs onto the computer where he surfs the net and waits to get sleepy again. Sometimes it never happens and he is up for the day. Sometimes he comes back upstairs after an hour or so and gets back in bed. Can he sleep? Not likely. So he tosses a bit and gets back up.

I, on the other hand, can wake at 6 to pee, or at 7 to throw on an extra cover and blissfully look at the clock, say "It's too early" (anytime before 8 qualifies, including 7:59) and go right back to sleep.

He never, ever dreams (well, most likely he does but has no conscious memory of it). I dream ALL THE TIME (see previous post!). I wake up and entertain myself for the first few minutes thinking it all over and trying to figure out what everything meant. He loves the early morning hours (fortunate considering his sleep habits) and I love the late night ones. It's like we are the ying and yang of slumber, or the Jack Spratt if you will. So, how is it, after almost 26 years of marriage, we are closer and happier than we have ever been? Beats me!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

To Dream, Perchance to Sleep

Don'tcha luv this pic? I do. We are camping and snuggling and it was just one of those perfect moments.
I was thinking about dreams today. I am not one of those who believes that if I dream about a pineapple it means I am getting a new job or if I dream about an airplane it means a stranger is coming to town. But I do suspect that dreams are a reflection of what is milling about in our minds. I've come to that conclusion lately.

I dream about my mom A LOT. In every single dream, I am stunned and excited and thrilled that she didn't die after all. She feels terrible that such an awful mistake was made and I had suffered so much grief. We talk and hug and laugh and it's like spending an afternoon with her. I know these dreams should make me feel better but waking up sure is hard sometimes.
I dream about people I haven't seen in a long time. I dream about people that I went to school with and they look just like they did back then and gee, so do I. Being skinny and young again is nice but it makes for a rude wake up call when I get up in the morning.
I dream about my kids. I dream about my oldest daughter and we are laughing and talking and hugging and hanging out like we used to many years ago. It feels really good because I miss it more than I can say. I often dream that something terrible is happening to one of my kids. One has disappeared or has been hurt or kidnapped or something else dire. I am always trying to make a phone call and can't remember the number and get so frustrated. I wake up in a panic.
I dream about work. I am talking to an editor or writing a book or getting another assignment. Sometimes that is very helpful because I wake up with a new idea or my introduction already written in my head.
And then there are THOSE dreams. The ones that make NO SENSE WHATSOEVER no matter how you look at it. They are wild and erractic and crazy and stupid and puzzling. But they are also fun to lie in bed and remember in the morning and wonder what you ate, read or talked about that possibly spurred THOSE images.
Dreams. Funny things. Poignant. Make me cry, make me laugh. Can't imagine life without them.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

All's Quiet on the Home Front

Shhhhh. Listen. Do you hear that? It's . . . silence. (Well, almost. With my tinnitus, there really is no such thing.) Two of my children have gone to camp, so it is just Joseph, Coryn and myself at home. The house just has this big void in it but I know that my kids are off having a great time. This camp (Not Back to School Camp) is the highlight of their year. I miss them terribly and plan to send out care packages tomorrow morning.
Other news . . . work is increasing at last. In fact, I am up for some of the most exciting (read:intimidating) projects of my career. One of them is for fiction, an area that I've toyed with but never taken seriously--until now. I actually have a list (I ALWAYS have lists) of upcoming projects and it looks pretty healthy. After the last few months, that is most welcome.
Also, since I know how to upload pics now (I can be a slow learner), I will be posting pics of the family and such from now on. This one was taken at Ft. Stevens near Astoria, Oregon. We were camping for the weekend. Coryn is on the bench, then Caspian, Nicole, Copper (the dog) and Joseph. Are they gorgeous or what? I am one lucky woman.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Addendum to the last post: The missing hiker has been found and Nicole is coming back home. My relief is immense. I am afraid, however, that it is too late for the gray hairs on my head. They're here to stay.

A Tough Day

Today has truly tested me.
First of all, it reached 106 degrees according to our car thermometer and while I really like summer weather, that is just a bit much for me. I could tell it was getting to all of us because we were snappy with each other and that is rare.
Second of all, we are still dead broke and I hate, hate, hate being broke.
Third, several months ago, I splurged and bought three tickets to "Phantom of the Opera". We have counted the days and woke up this morning saying TODAY is the DAY.
At 6, I went to look at the tickets to see if the show started at 7 or 8. Apparently, I bought tickets to the matinee, which started at 2. We missed the show.
Well, let's just say, I cried so hard, I scared the crap out of my family. They were all loving and forgiving but it is going to take a while before I forgive me. I was looking forward to that more than I can tell you and I am just heartbroken to have missed it. In more "plush" days, I would just go online and order three more tickets and go in the next day or so, but that just isn't possible right now.
Then, to top it all off, as we sat in an air conditioned bookstore, reading and trying to stay cool for a while, Nicole got called in for a night time search and rescue. We actually tried to get her out of it because we didn't want her to leave and because we are concerned about her being out in this intense heat, but in the end, she had to go. She will be gone all night and I will worry about her hiking in the darkness and then hiking in the heat.
Too much on my shoulders right now. Anyone wanna borrow some of it for a while?

Monday, August 11, 2008


I am having an ethical dilemma.
The hospital where I am to have my next surgery will not schedule you, if you are non-insured, until you go through a financial screening process. In order to do this, they want the last three month's income as a base for their formula. With the income I get, being so erractic and unpredictable, this is really, really hard. If I give them April, May and June, we are too high to qualify. If I give them May, June and July, we will probably get a slight discount. If I give them June, July and August, we probably will have to pay very little. So, what do I do? Three months is not an adequate way to assess our income and I have tried twice to explain that, to no avail.
So do I give them the high months? Nope. Do I give them the middle ones or the most recent ones? If I play by their rules, it seems like I give them June, July and August (once it is over) as that seems the most logical. But man, it is not an accurate representation.
Weighing honesty against really needing the financial help right now with $25,000 plus in medical bills piling up.

Other news . . . saw a FANTASTIC small theatre play this week called "Pylon". If you live in the Portland area, I highly recommend it.

Missing my mom more than usual--not sure why but I'd give anything to call her other than all the times I do it when I am sleeping.

Getting ready to ship two children off to camp this next week. Man, will the house seem quiet without Caspian or Nicole. I am hoping to introduce Coryn to Free Geek because I think he would love it there (a computer repair/volunteer/training kind of place for non-Oregonian readers).

Still trying to sell those bunk beds and ottoman. Sure you don't need one of them?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

More Fun than One Woman Deserves

Today I finally had my ultrasound for my parathyroid glands. They found two that are dysfunctional so we are looking at surgery in the first part of September. The ultrasound was a piece of cake. Gotta love a medical test that causes no discomfort whatsoever. Then I went in for the consultation with the doctor and had SUCH fun, I can't begin to tell you.

The nurse came in, filled out the usual forms and then said, I will be back to spray your nose.

Beg pardon?

Not familar with that phrase, ma'am. Gonna come back and do . . . what?

Spray your nose. It's the first step in preparing you for having a camera go up your nose and down your throat.

I BEG YOUR PARDON? When did I sign up for this, may I ask?

APPARENTLY, I was put on the schedule books for a consultation and a FULL ear, nose and throat exam. And APPARENTLY, this includes having an acid like foam shot up both nostrils and down your throat, making you feel like you inhaled nail polish remover. At this point, I am completely puzzled as to why the H--- this is being done at all.

So . . . the doc comes in and we chit chat a bit . . he goes over the preliminary findings on the ultrasound and then I ask, WHY am I having this most unpleasant exam? Does it have anything at all to do with my surgery or my parathyroid glands?


Then why, why, why am I having it done? And paying BIG bucks for it, I am sure . . . . And he said, Oh. I guess you don't need it. And I didn't have it done. And man, I am almost embarassed to tell you how proud I was of myself for saying STOP. That isn't one of my strong suits, you see.

So, yea, it wasn't fun but I gained a little self esteem too. Even trade, don'tcha think?

Other news . . if you know someone who wants bunk beds or a great ottoman, we're selling them.

I now understand why money suddenly seems scarce. . . . in July we made (GET THIS) one-tenth, yes ONE TENTH of what we made in an average month. In other words, almost nothing. No wonder my budget fell apart.

Sigh. Some days just exist to add gray hairs. Today's had a touch of nail polish remover in them, I'm sure.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Flexible Me

Man, for all of those net surfers who put "flexible" in their search boxes in hopes of finding contortionist porn, this post is going to be awfully disappointing, don't you think?

I can still touch my toes but I creak when I do it. I can't touch my hands behind my back very well and the days of sitting on the ground and reaching my toes have passed me by. However, that is NOT the kind of flexibility I am talking about.

I mean work flexibility.

Recently, a good friend of mine was helping my ego a bit by telling me she thinks I am rather remarkable (and you know who you are!). It got me thinking a bit about this job I have. On the perk sides, I can make my own hours, I don't have to leave the house to work, I haven't worn a pair of pantyhouse in years, I don't have to dress up (or get dressed at all!), I learn something new all the time, I move from project to project so I never really get bored--it's a long list of perks.

The down side, however, is shorter but also weightier. I never know how much money I will make each week/month. That makes it a BEAR to budget. Some months I get quite a few checks and I relax and hit bookstores and chill out . . . . and then, after making sure I am in a peaceful lull, everything changes. Suddenly, my income plummets. An invoice is mislaid so unpaid. The accountant for the company is on vacation. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Or the assignments simply slow down because all businesses tend to slow down during the year. I love the extra time but I hate the loss of income.

In addition to having to be flexible in dealing with how much work I have to do each day (sometimes I only work an hour or two but some I put in 10-12-or more) and how much money I will make (it all depends on what comes in the mail--I am sure my mailman thinks I wanna have an affair or something because I am so often standing next to the mailbox when he comes by--he doesn't realize I am there for the BUCKS . . . not for . . . you fill in the blank), I have to be mighty flexible in what I write. Today, for example, I wrote a poem, did some source notes for a book, revised a manuscript, queried three companies for jobs, learned a few facts about how to create an online course, talked to two former editors, got photo credits for a picture for an article I wrote, printed out three tests to review and came up with four new ideas for another editor who needed some new concepts. This is not unusual--this was actually a lighter day. Topics covered today included: Apollo (the god, not the spaceships), Franklin Pierce, peer pressure, choose your own adventures, liver disease, American literature, iran and nuclear weapons, young people's self-esteem issues and poetry topics. Is it any wonder my head is tired by bedtime?

Yea, I have to be flexible but as good as I am and as much experience as my job gives me on a regular basis, I still can't do the splits.