Sunday, March 27, 2016

I Love this Life

I always laugh when I hear LoCash sing "I Love this Life" because it makes me think of that time John Wells and I were driving the backroads in Rusty Bouldrey's little truck. I don't remember what we were really doing or why we were on that road by my Grandma's house but they were probably giving me a ride home after band practice.

Rusty was driving -- it WAS his truck -- and we were flying a bit down that gravel road. We'd just passed the house where my cousin Lori used to live, just up from Grandma's house. Rusty hit the railroad tracks and it felt like we were going to touch Jesus.

We landed with a thud and all four tires - and probably the rims that held them - immediately went flat. I think of that moment in time every time I hear the opening notes of "I Love this Life," because it contains this lyric: "I love driving my truck across the railroad tracks. If you hit it too quick, it'll hit ya right back."

Ali and I drove down home this weekend for Easter with my family. (Jeff was off with Duane sampling whiskey.) On the way to Donna's, I detoured to show Ali where those fabled railroad tracks and to tell her that story. Again.

We were driving the Outback rather than my Mustang. I was going to re-enact the jump over the tracks but in the past gazillion years since the incident, there's been another railroad track laid right behind it.  I didn't think we could get the appropriate lift.

That and the Outback is Jeff's car and if I blew all four tires, I'd be fighting back tears, afraid to confess, just like Rusty was back when he was afraid to face his parents.

It's fun (for me, anyway) to wander around home pointing out this and that to Ali. It's amazing how much has changed and how much has stayed the same.

But the best was yet to come on this weekend's trip. A while back, I'd helped my nephew Jason get a little attention for his amazing invention. The effort helped him a little and gave me a great opportunity to showcase the project in my quest to earn accreditation in my profession -- something my former boss had encouraged me to do.

You may recall that Jason conceived, designed, created and patented the JB1 Emergency Evacuation Slide, a contraption that is going to save some lives one day. He won a global Peabody Energy innovation award for it. He's the real deal.

Truth be told, it was an honor for me to be involved with the project. Jason's amazing but given the chance, he'll hide his many talents rather than show them off. He's probably more like my dad than any of us.

Showing off his talent is where I come in. At some point, he and my sister Debbie conspired to make me something to mark the occasion of our collaboration.

They started with an old washtub, salvaged from my family home, cleaned it up, polished it and incorporated some old family photos on the outside. It's special for a lot of reasons. Primarily because Jason knows how much it means to me to things from the old homestead. Adding the photos -- which came from a collection of old photos I'd shared with him one Christmas -- makes it extra special. And the fact that Deb and Jason worked together just to make me something like that ...

Well it's just amazing. Kind of like being gobsmacked by that railroad track -- but in a nicer, more sentimental way.

For those of you unfamiliar with the ways of country folk, this wash tub was likely used to boil water for hand-washing clothes.  (Debbie had to tell me.) Today, it could be used as a tub for beverages or decor as pictured above or just about anything. Jeff thinks it'll be good for fireplace wood during the winter.

Jason suggested it could go outside but I don't want to risk damaging it. He's sealed it, but I'm still not going to risk it.

So it was a fabulous trip home. Everyone was there, we swapped old stories and learned some more and I left with more than a bit of home. 

Oh!  And after studying for months, stressing out about the centuries since I took a test like this, I passed it on Friday. So the crucial elements have been accomplished. Cross your fingers that whatever is next is ceremonial.

I'm going to need a week off to re-charge from all of the APR stuff. And, as fate (and help from the Reed family) would have it, starts in earnest tomorrow. I'll send photos from the beach.

Jeff was in charge of hiding a few plastic eggs for Alison's annual Easter Egg Hunt. She's still at it and he's taunting her because he went the extra mile to make it hard. I put them together, along with little snips that offer up prizes like "Dad does trash this week."  I don't think he was clever enough to read and replace the prizes.

She's down to two now and she's on the edge of cursing. They're getting increasingly louder as he follows her around telling her she's hot or cold. The last one was tucked under the top of the dining room table. I think he had more fun with it than she did. 

Anyway, we're about to be all Eastered out here at Chez Reed and Jeff and I need to pack. (Ali has been packed for three weeks.)  I hope your Spring is as pretty as ours. Shots from the yard:

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Eyes of March

They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. If that's the case, my demons  have been on display of late. At first it was an annoyance. Then, I was diagnosed with pink eye. After a week of eye drops and no significant improvement, a new diagnosis: not pink eye at all but a deeper eye infection.

Through it all, I was, to put it kindly, hideous. On one of my good days - as measured by the amount of gorp oozing from my swollen eyes, I ran into a friend I see too rarely. She thought I was grief-stricken.

I've tried to keep to myself for the most part. I'm not contagious, so I go to work but man it's been rough.

Today, 24 hours after the antibiotics started streaming through my system, I think I'm actually on the mend. Finally.

Being clear-eyed again will be great, but I suspect I'll have to start carrying my own weight again pretty fast. Neither Jeff nor Ali really want me touching their food so kitchen duty has been an occasional dish-washing duty. I've been laying around more than usual, which will be evident when we hit the beach in a few weeks.

The plan is to be completely free of ick well ahead of spring break.  If the Jamaican sun can't burn the rest of this gunk out of me, nothing will.

Alison has gone to the gym with me a couple of times lately. We're doing Zombie Run missions, separately but kind of together. Today I convinced her to walk into Broad Ripple with me and we stumbled into a Pitaya sale.

With vacation coming up, it made sense to at least look. I did have one moment when I was in the dressing room and I flashed back to the time Jeff took me to Bebe. I am not a Bebe shape or size or age. Wasn't 15 years ago when he took me. I am also not the Pitaya demographic, but the clothes are really cute, the sale was good and it's easy to forget you have gotten old.

Until, of course, you find yourself stuck in a dress you can't get off and you can see that belly fat in the mirror as you struggle with a skinny girl dress on a pudgy girl's body. I managed to get out of the thing without damage. Unless you count the sweat that beaded up as I thought for a few seconds that I'd have to either call for help or rip the damn thing off.

Anyway, we emerged with a few things. On the walk home, I was lamenting my lack of discipline and the fact that I'm a bit away from my goal weight.

"Mom, come on. You don't look bad," said my little angel. "I mean, you're NOT 20 but that's OK. You shouldn't compare yourself to that. You should be OK with your body no matter how old you are."

I love her. Even if she is a size 0 and eats ice cream like it's her last meal.

In the last bit of news: Welcome Spring! Ali dragged us out of the house this morning to see our first proof that the best seasons are upon us.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Goddammit Doris!

The other day, out on a walk, Alison heard an elderly lady crossing Broad Ripple Avenue. She was calling for help and Ali went to help her.

I looked back, saw what was happening and went to help as well. Jeff had gone ahead and didn't hear anything. We'd both noticed a police car and fire truck at the area where the Monon Crosses the avenue but we were headed west so we didn't get to find out what that was all about.

With Ali and I on each side of her, the lady hurried us along the the sidewalk. When she said. "I hate the police, they're a**holes," I remembered the flashing lights and officials vehicles.

I asked her where we were going. She said she wanted to get around the corner and go home. I bit my lip, but she was trembling, so we just sped up. She asked us if we liked Donald Trump. Ali snorted and said no. I think she then linked the police to the Donald.

Jeff figured out we weren't with him and turned around to see us as we got to the corner. As we turned, I heard the police car siren blip. I turned back to see it coming our way.

"Um, ma'am, are they looking for you?" I said.

She gripped harder and mumbled something in the affirmative. The police and fire officials stopped on the street in front of us. The lady said something uncomplimentary. The office smiled wide and said something pleasant. He looked at me and asked if we knew her?

We loosened our grips simultaneously and backed away, shaking our heads no.

And the fugitive was apprehended. Actually, I think they just took her home. We don't know why they were after her, but she just wanted to go home and I'm pretty sure she got there. After doing our good deed, we decided fleeing the scene was our best next step.

Jeff was regaling his office co-workers with this story when he was given another one, and that story has now spawned a terrible phrase that I fear TeamReed Indy will be using for the rest of our days.

It involved the spouse of a co-worker who was working away at his library job when a woman wheeled her self in her wheelchair. She was upset when she arrived, calling out that the "pedos" were after her. "The pedos are after me! The pedos are after me!"

The guy went to her to see if he could help her. She got more agitated.

He asked again. She got even more upset. "Ma'am, there aren't any pedos here. We're a library. I can call the police if you want."

She flung herself out of the chair and flopped on the floor. About this time, the police arrived, as another librarian had been quicker to the trigger. The officer, assigned the neighborhood, walked in, took one look around and sighed.

"Goddammit Doris, get up. These people don't need your sh*t, they're trying to run a library here."

The lady looked up at him, and said, "What?"

She then hopped back in her chair and wheeled herself away with the officer shaking his head behind her.

It's not that we don't have sympathy for either of these ladies. We do. We even discussed how we hoped they had friends and family to check in on them from time to time and we hoped they had the essentials that they need.

But whenever either of us does something exasperating, or silly, we do find ourselves saying, "Goddammit Doris!"

Parents of the year, here. :)

Friday, March 4, 2016

That time I gave peas a chance

In the history of my life, these last several days will not be fondly recalled.

I’ve been feeling crappy, most of which I want to blame on an on-again/off-again flirtation with hot flashes, which have interrupted my sleep and seriously dampened my enthusiasm for any extra-curricular activities. A 'flu-like virus has been going around town and I had a bit of it, and my eyes had been really itchy, too. A kind of bonus, I guess.

This has been an annoyance for the captain, but he’s borne it fairly well. Mostly in silence.

So the other night, I was thinking I owed the boy a tumble. Sure I wasn’t feeling all that great, but this is marriage, kids. You sometimes need to plan your spontaneity. So I pulled out a little black negligee and waited for my prey to emerge from the basement and up to bed.

Of course I fell asleep before he got there. And when I woke, is was because of itchy, burn-y eyes. And a hot flash. And sneezes. This pattern kept up for a while. Every so often, I’d get hot, toss off the covers, get cold, sneeze, scratch my eyes and then dig back into the covers.

The eyes got worse. So bad I felt like I was going to scratch them out of my head. I knew I'd need my eye balls later, so I got up, got a cloth, and dampened it with cold water, thinking it would relieve the irritation. 

As I came back to bed, the captain rolled over and seized up. Literally. His back attacked him. I got him some pain pills and water and got back in bed.

Now,  I have described my maladies. I'm not even exaggerating. I could tell you that my eyes are oozy, too, and it feels like I have one of those skin-tightening masks on my eyes -- sort of like a super hero mask, but gross. And invisible. But I won't get that gross. Don't even get me started on the hot flashes.

Anyway, I didn’t regale you with how much I moaned or groaned because I didn’t. I was suffering, sure. But I’ve been dealing with this for a while and I’m about two steps away from martyrdom when it comes to bearing my illnesses in silence.

The captain? Not so much. Yes, back pain is awful. I submit, however, that eye balls on fire and oozing sticky goop isn't a cake walk.

When the cold cloth didn’t help my eyes, I went for a frozen gel pack in the freezer. It was colder, but it was solid. It balanced on my nose, getting no where near the flaming eye sockets. 

Then, I got a hot flash. I laid there for a while wondering if my flaming body would melt the solid bar of frozen gel.  It didn't.

So I got up again and came back with a bag of frozen peas. It conformed all right. But it didn't really help. 

So picture this, if you will. I was still in the black negligee. I had freshly shaved legs. And I had a bag of frozen peas on my face. Sexy, aye?  

I’m fairly certain that had his back not seized up and I’d have offered, the captain would have still done his marital duty.  But it was 4:27 a.m. on a work day that I could not miss. I laid there in my bed, frozen peas on my face and flashing hot everywhere else like a neon no-vacancy sign.

I was in no position to make any offer to anyone. About that time, Jeff moaned. And not in a good way. 

I thought about telling him, "Hey, I'm suffering too, dude," but it was dark and I doubted that he would have heard me. I didn’t want to have to repeat myself. So I muttered to myself in my head and resettled the peas. 

Then, I felt bad because it’s not his fault he can’t hear well. Probably he didn’t even know I was feeling bad, had peas on my head and was flashing hot and cold. They crackled as I positioned and re-positioned them, but he probably had no idea I was feeling miserable.

I’d convinced myself I was a real bee-atch until the next day when I said something about how my eyes had hurt so much in the night.

 “Oh I know,” he said. “I could hear those peas all night. I got zero sleep.”

People convicted of rage killing sometimes report they saw red first. I literally was seeing red at this point. But I didn't kill him. I didn't kill him. I may have considered it, but I didn't kill him.

Marriage is work, man.  Oh, and yeah. I have pink eye. In both eyes. A day after the night that will be forever remember as the night I gave peas a chance, I gave up. My over the counter drops weren’t helping. I scored a clinic visit and got the diagnosis and real medicine.

Ali and Jeff (back not so bad he can't have dinner out with a friend from out-of-town) are treating me like a pariah. Jeff slept downstairs last night saying, “I’m not sleeping with you, you’ll crawl all over me.”

This morning Alison called goodbye from the door way. “I like you, Mom, but you’re kind of gross.”

My co-workers were more polite, but I be they re-disinfected my desk after I left. On the bright side, I got a heck of a lot of work done while working from my bedroom.

I’ll officially be non-contagious around 7 p.m. today, according to the doc. 

It's unlikely you will see me out anywhere in the next few days, but if you do, please don’t make eye contact. I’m kind of hideous. No makeup, glasses, eyes that look like I’ve been on a six-day bender.

 But I bet if I put that black negligee back on, I could still convince the captain to make me feel better...