Wednesday, August 16, 2017

And the prize for dumbassery goes to....

I may have to get a job that takes me outside my home. That, or start working at Starbucks or Panera where all the other freelancers apparently hang out.

It's not that I need companionship. I have WFMS for that. It's not that I need a bottomless coffee or ice tea cup. I can do that here. It's because I'm a dumbass. A focused dumbass. But a dumbass nontheless.

Jeff and Ali shot off to school this morning, much like every morning. He, urging her to get ready so they could leave only to come back in the house three times because he'd forgotten something while she was already in the car waiting on him. I'd said my goodbyes and set up my work station out on my back porch. I generally work there until the heat sends me inside.

Today I had a noon meeting and then dentist appointments so I knew I had only the morning to get some work done for my favorite client and check in on what's happening down in Claymont. (Turns out quite a lot is happening in Book 2. More steam; fewer batons.)

Anyway, I was deep into work when it occurred to me that I hadn't eaten. I'm on a diet kick so I four eggs in a pan of water, set the timer and went back to work. An hour or so later, I went back into the kitchen to refill my water glass.

That's when I remembered the eggs. The smoke, the beeping of the timer and the shriek of the smoke alarm were my clues. I had not just boiled the eggs dry; I'd calcified the little ovals. The smell was worse than the time I'd made mustard gas in Alison's toilet bowl, but the fumes weren't as deadly.

It's past 8 o'clock now and it still stinks in my house. In every room. I'm going to be scrubbing that All-Clad saucepan for the rest of my life. I'd warned Ali on the way home, but told her I'd been running fans and it might have dissipated.

"Nope," she said, walking into the house. Then she spied the pan. "You used my Ramen pot? Mom!"

I've promised to bring it back to its shiny silver. (If anyone wants to remember my birthday, this might be a good gift...)

"You know I love you, right?" my darling daughter said to me as I sprayed air freshener and dug out the scented candles.

"Yes," I said suspiciously.

"I love you more when you're not in the kitchen," she said. "There's a reason Dad cooks."

It's hard to argue when you can barely breathe.

As for the Captain's reaction, I'm kind of staying away from him. He has a box of beer to prepare and because the upstairs has all the doors and windows open (thus no a/c) he's mostly been in the always-chilly downstairs since he got home. I'm taking my punishment by staying upstairs and breathing though my mouth.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

40 Goats and a Tesla

When Jeff suggested Ali and I tag along with him on a trip to Oregon to visit the much-lauded-but-never-met Sami Khawaja, we kind of rolled our eyes.
  1. We don't know this Sami guy.
  2. Oregon is a long way away.
  3. And all Jeff could talk about was the craft beer this far-off state had to offer, not really the kind of thing that requires, or allows in Ali's case, our participation.
So we sort of bided our time and waited to see if this trip would actually come to pass. Jeff and Sami met through work and Jeff would always go out to some nice dinner with him and other utility colleagues when he was in town. Jeff would come home raving about the dinner, the conversation and how much fun this Sami guy is.

Sure. Fine. Ali and I have fun when we're out with our friends, too.
But a trip across the country to stay with a stranger? Seemed like a long-shot to the women of Team Reed Indiana. But we'd never been to Oregon. And I'm involved in a fundraiser for Ronald McDonald House Indianapolis that will focus on wines of the Pacific Northwest, and Sami is a wine guy. So, sure, we agreed to go.

It just so happened that we had a chance to meet this Sami guy just before the trip. And once we met him, we had an inkling of why Jeff liked him so much. Suddenly the idea of a trip to spend some time with him didn't seem so bad.

We got there, just before midnight Wednesday their time, 3 a.m. our time. Not usually my finest hour, but I managed to stay upright for a little while. Thursday began a whirlwind of activities that made us all fall in love with Oregon -- and maybe even with Sami.

Sami was born in Jerusalem, was raised in Jordan and has spent the past 35 years or so as Oregon's best ambassador. Someone should tell the governor. He's amazing. He's also super smart, has his doctorate in statistics, is an expert in energy efficiency, which is how he came to know the Captain. Did I already say he loves wine?

He's so smart he has a super cool girlfriend, Miriam, who spent a large part of her life in Alaska and takes no grief from anyone, least of all Sami.

Fed by tales of Alison over the years, Sami had decided a while ago that if she were to be offered up in marriage, she'd be worth at least 40 goats.

Then he met her and created a goat index to track her worth. Within 12 hours, he had upped her value to 56 goats. Then she got comfortable with him and her value dropped to 26 goats.

Much of her drop had to do with her confusing his Model S P90D Tesla with a Toyota Corolla of a similar color. Goats dropped like flies at that and it was tough climbing back.

 In between, we:
  • Met his sons, Jake and Joe, who were delightful, 
  • Drove to see and hike among amazing waterfalls along the Columbia River Gorge
  • Drove to Mount Hood, which is awesome
  • Took an Alpine Slide that resulted in Jeff getting an elbow abrasion that looks disturbingly like a penis (He got little sympathy because he violated the rules and was shooting video when he nearly wiped out and left a fair amount of DNA behind
  • Visited some fun wineries, including the Hip Chicks, which is run by one highly assertive woman named Renee who had a high goat index for Ali and me but no so much for Jeff and Sami.
  • Listened to some amazing jazz at Vino Veritas (Sami and a partner own it) courtesy of the Jake Khawaja Trio
  • Drove along the coast and stopped to let Ali have a dip while the older folks strolled on the sand
  • Had amazing dinners and beers and wines and breakfasts and lunches in between
  • Visited Powell's, the world's largest bookstore where I would still be had it not been for that annoying flight home already planned
  • Were having breakfast when a woman overheard our conversation and turned out to be an expat Hoosier who had a lot to say about where we should go next. She even followed us out to the car because she'd remembered something else we needed to know
  • Wandered around downtown Portland while Jeff visited every craft beer site he could find and
  • Saw the Spruce Goose at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum -- it's really there, along with a bunch of other airplanes.
At one point during our drive along the coast, Miriam was playing around with music and four of us ended up belting out bad 1970s music, including "Muskrat Love" which was determined to be the worst song ever. Ali had tried to tune us out with her own headphones after awhile and perhaps because of the Captain and Tennille. Neil Diamond's "You'll be a Woman Soon" was a contender as well.

On the way back from Mount Hood, Ali picked lunch and we were searching for sushi, which led us to Happy Valley and a quick hello to my cousin Christopher Lehman, who just happened to be on duty at the Peet's Coffee Shop near the sushi place we found thru Nikki (the Tesla's voice) and Ali's Googling. Fate led us there, I'm sure, though Nikki was good for the assist.

It was an amazing trip with incredible vistas, but the most fun was hanging out with this guy Sami who was every bit as fun and amazing as billed.

By the end of our trip, Ali's final value was back at 40 goats, though I'm not sure how. Personally, I think she's worth a lot of goats. But it's nice to have an expert opinion on it.

My advice to you if you want to visit Portland, OR (and you do...): make friends with Sami.

Ali takes on the Pacific

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Ali, Take the Wheel

Alison has been stuck firmly in "Park" when it comes to her ability to drive. She's not alone. Lots of city kids her age and older are less anxious to get behind the wheel than I was back in the day.

The report I linked to above says, among other things, that only 71.5 percent of high school seniors had their drivers' licenses in 2015. Eight-seven percent of kids in 1983 had their DLs. I'm betting it was 100 percent in rural communities.

Like many of her peers, Ali has little need to drive. If one of her parents isn't around or willing, she can bike or walk to find fun. Or she can just slide her finger over her phone or iPad and be happy as long as she has access to a wireless router and and electrical outlet. Back in my day and childhood home, it was miles into the closest town. I didn't always have access to a bicycle and the only phone we had was hard, black and plastic, tied securely to wall behind a cluttered kitchen shelf. It had no games unless they could be had in a voice-to-voice conversation and the idea of streaming video had yet to be conceived.

Even though we lived miles from anywhere fun, my parents did not see my transportation desires as something that hit their priority list. There was a school bus and maybe a ride from an older sibling if they were willing to let me tag along. Other than school and church (to which they were always ready to drive) there was apparently no need for me (or any of us) to leave the property unless it was under our own steam.

We had a horse for a long time, but Flicka has as much interest in my transportation needs as my parents did. As young boys, my brothers sometimes rode the pigs, but that was more a porcine rodeo kind of thing rather than an attempt to train them as viable vehicles. Before you ask, no: I did not participate.

I'm more familiar with goat rodeos, and that's a beast of an entirely different metaphor.

Anyway, Ali is 16 now and if she were born in the countryside where vehicular transportation is as necessary as grits on a breakfast platter, she would be chomping at the bit to learn how to drive. I keep offering to teach her.

"Uh. No, thanks," she said. "That's going to be Dad's job."

I've gotten over my annoyance at this repeated assertion. Kind of. She won't even try to back up the car in the driveway. "That's illegal," she'll say. "I don't have my permit."

She's amazingly proper. And stubborn.

"Dude. I'm right here. I have time," I've said. "We'll start off with your Dad's Subaru because it's an automatic transmission."

I may have a new transmission and clutch in my Mustang, but I'm not anxious to subject it to a new learner. Plus, I don't want her to get discouraged.

"I'm OK to wait on Dad," she'll say. "No offense Mom, but your driving terrifies me."

She likes that word, "terrifies." It's not even fair.

"You drive with one hand and drink coffee or keep looking at your phone. You get too close to the car ahead of you. You speed," she said, ticking off some of her issues with me at the wheel. "You don't pay attention and you don't always follow the law like when you turn left when there's a big red sign that says you aren't supposed to."

My counterpoint is generally something along the lines of, "That may be true, but I know how to do it correctly. And sometimes the signs aren't always appropriate for conditions. There's wiggle room when there's no traffic and I really need to get somewhere."

She doesn't believe me. Her drivers' education course is not helping my cause. In fact, it's created a kind of obnoxious shotgun rider.

"How fast are you going?" she'll ask as we barrel down an empty city street. "You know that's a double yellow line there."

She gets it from her father, who is notorious for coming to a rolling stop midway through a stop-signed intersection. We were all in the car the other day with Ali's friend Cory and the Captain was instructing us all in proper driving. I waited for an opportunity to pounce.

It came when Jeff was waxing poetic about protocol at stop lights, stop signs and yields. He was about to define the rolling stop when Cory piped up.

"You mean like what you've been doing all the way home?" she asked.

I like Cory a lot.

Anyway, Ali is nearly completion of her online drivers' education course and should soon be credentialed as a student driver. Her collar bone is healing nicely and she got back on her bike the other day. I was with her and apparently was a little too solicitous when it came to giving her fair warning of a need to brake. (It was a hard brake that led to her flipping herself off the bike and breaking her collar bone.)

"Mom. I'm not a seven-year-old," she said. "I can see traffic coming."

I backed off a little. She's been remarkably resilient since her fall. She's even assumed all of her chore list since the incident. Initially getting clothes out of the washer had been painful. She's been back to her cheerful Cinderella self for weeks now.

The orthopedic doc is happy with her progress and says we don't have to see him again until September and we can even skip that if nothing is awry. Her idea of safety is to wear her helmet when she's on her bike and to keep far, far away from me as a driving instructor. Her father agrees so I'm outvoted.

But I would be an awesome driving instructor. I'm sure of it. Send me your teenagers! Don't let them ask Ali or the Captain for a reference.


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Please don't make me add werewolves or vampires or witches or fairies

Thank you so much for the positive response to my latest venture. Especially those of you who trusted me enough to buy early and/or submitted a review.

I'm overwhelmed. And I'm sorry, too. Kate is right: I rushed it.

I'm going to spend next week (or longer) working with another friend to fix the errors. I really thought I'd caught most of them, but like a lawyer who represents him/herself, only a fool thinks she can edit her own book.

Color me foolish. But most of my favorite ventures included a baptism by fire. So why not this one, too?

Maybe the soft launch versions will be collector's editions. Consider them the galley proofs I should have insisted on before pushing this out.

And yes, the book is fiction. Fiction. Fiction! I really don't want to throw in a werewolf or a vampire but if I have to do that to bring the fictional point home, I guess I might.

Anyway. Thank you. Standby for an update and the possibility of an event where the next version (edited) may be available. If you're one to overlook errors, hit me up. I have a few on hand and can save you shipping costs.

On a related note, Jeff and I were out when I finally got my first shipment of books. Alison had brought the box inside but hadn't opened it. Jeff grabbed one,  stood next to her and flipped through it. He asked her if she was going to read it.

"I just saw the word "moaning,"" my teenage Puritan said. "No way."

He said something along the lines of it might have been a reference to moaning in agony or something to do with food.

"I also saw "prostitute," " she said. "There's nothing about those two words together that I need to see."

Can't say as I disagree with her.


Thursday, July 13, 2017

So, I did it..

One day, not long before I left my corporate job, I was talking to a friend about the future. We’d just announced the company was to be acquired and we were musing about what we would do should we no longer be with the company. 
I repeated a line I’ve said many times: “If I had the opportunity, I’d write a book. And then another one. And another one.”

Have I not had the opportunity to write book throughout the past few decades? Sure. Sort of.
But I apparently didn’t have the discipline or the mental bandwidth. I fed my creative writing appetite with my little, un-monetized TeamReedBlog and focused instead on work, family and more than my fair share of Bravo TV.
All that all changed in May with my career switch. 
I’m both terrified and excited to tell you that I have published my first novel. You can buy it right now in e-book form and/or paperback on Amazon if you go here.
You can review my Amazon author page, too (I’m an author!!!! Yes, I’m a little squeaky about it, too.) It's here
I’d love for you to read any version, of course. I’m going to be obnoxious and ask that you add a review for it, too. Reviews are super important if I’m to extend my readership base beyond friends and family.
I would be forever grateful for your participation. More so if you forgive the typos I know I missed. 
In my defense, I was so anxious to complete the process that I put production ahead of perfection. As a seasoned author (ha!) I will be much more patient for Volume Two of the saga of Trailerpark Tammy. Chapter 1 is already done…
Anyway. I wrote a book! It’s fiction, based very loosely on stuff that lingers in my head from my childhood in rural, southwestern Indiana. 
The cover art is by a fun guy whose website is If you ever need your own cover art, I recommend him.
So go on, read! And please let me know what you think. Caution: it's a tiny bit racy in some parts and a little, well, irreverent, in others.   
As a side note, I will devote a portion of profits to organizations that do good in the world in an area related to each book in this series.  The Julian Center, for example, will be the organization to benefit from "Retribution" sales. 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Murphy's Law vs. Pleasant Pond (the Pond wins)

I don't remember inviting Murphy on our summer trip to Maine this year, but he sure made his presence felt as it sometimes seemed that whatever could go wrong, in fact did.

If the days in between our Murphy experiences hadn't been so perfect, I might be regretting our time at Jen and Peter's camp. But it's hard to beat our time with them on the aptly named Pleasant Pond.

We usually send Ali for some alone time with her Maine family. But this year, she brought her best friend, Jenna Tokash, for a few days and then Jeff and I joined in for a long weekend. All was rosy for the girls as they got themselves through two airports and off to Auntie Jen without a hitch.

Jeff and I ran into delays on the trip out that stranded us in Washington DC Friday night right about the time we should have arrived at camp.

We had no hope of getting to Maine until Saturday night if we were to remain in the unfriendly skies. We opted to drive the 500+ miles, starting at midnight Friday.

Twelve hours later, we'd argued ourselves awake as I tried to figure out his Android phone, which has a light touch and kept switching screens. In case you don't know, I tend to get cranky when I don't have enough sleep and am hungry or annoyed by uncontrollable forces or have to learn new smart phone tricks on the fly.

We consumed more energy drinks than were healthy -- including an enormous Slim Jim for Jeff and too many Dunkin' Donut Munchkins for me. Jeff got us out of DC and thru Baltimore and into New Jersey, with me dozing more than was helpful. I got us through New York and Connecticut. Jeff set alarms for himself to be sure I kept us on a northbound course. He took the wheel back before we got into Boston.

Takeaways from the road trip:
  1. New Jersey has awesome rest stops.
  2. If you're going to risk driving into Maine on a holiday weekend, be sure you have accommodations for bathroom emergencies and a solid partnership with whoever is in your car because everyone and their brother, apparently, heads north in July.
We managed to get to Maine without killing each other or leaving any lasting DNA in the rental car. If Jen and Peter had showed up three minutes later, they'd have found us asleep on the curb outside the airport, though. 

My plans for bed changed when the girls convinced me to get into the water. By dinner time, I was out of juice. Jeff had napped and I snagged a few Zzzs while the table got set but between the long travel day and paddling around in the pond, I almost face-planted at the table. I was out by 7:30.

For the next few days, we kayaked, skied, paddle boarded, swam, speed-boated, canoed and played like campers should. We picked strawberries and sent the boys into town for lobster. And beer, of course, as Jeff was along.

We'd stopped at the Maine Beer Company on the way to camp and the three of us were waiting in the crowded lot for Jeff to re-emerge. When it was clear that a guy wanted our parking spot, Peter made sure the guy got it, pulling out early so he could slip in. That guy gave Peter a cold Treehouse Haze to thank him for his trouble. (Peter was pleased but Jeff was ecstatic as the MA-made beer is hard for a Hoosier to get. And it was delicious...)

Jenna, excited to have her first whole crustacean, decided it wasn't her favorite, after all. The texture did nothing for her, but the extraction process grossed her out as well. "You want me to put my thumb where?" she asked, doubtfully. She's right to question Captain Reed, who has led her astray for his own enjoyment for years. She fell in love with Nicodemus, though, and if she could have gotten him in her suitcase, she would have. 
We discovered that Jenna and I have awesome taste in swimsuits and once mixed them up and had to switch back. 

We resorted to calling Jennifer Reed "Jen1" and Jenna Tokash "Jen2" after several confusing conversations.

Cousin Peter Williamson and Auntie Mary Sturtevant came over and Pete put us all to shame with his first-time on water skis. We applauded his salute to us on the short until we realized he was returning Jeff's one-fingered salute. 

Ali was a great sport as we all took turns skiing or tubing while she had to stay on the boat with her broken, but healing collarbone. It didn't keep her from much.

It might have helped that Uncle Peter is also nursing an injury and couldn't do more than drive, either.  They're both looking forward to next year when his shoulder and her collar bone are fully healed and ready for power sports.

He gave both girls a driving lesson before the week was out and ended their water time with a private trip around the lake at speeds that left them breathless and wanting more.

Jeff, who like me, hadn't skied in a long time, got up and stayed up for long circuits around the pond, but the image we all like is the great shot Jen1 got as he ended one trip.

Time to leave came too soon, and we happily had no flight SNAFUs. The girls loved watching fireworks from above, and they got to see most of the Indianapolis shows as we we came in around 10:30 p.m. or so.

Once home, Murphy made his presence known again as a fuse had blown sometime between Friday and Tuesday, rendering our refrigerator the depository for a bunch of smelly food. I usually empty the fridge of anything that could go bad while we are away but had left milk, thinking it would be nice to not have to stop for groceries when we got home late.

Jeff was scheduled to work Wednesday but stayed behind to help me clear the three garbage bags of spoiled food. I'd planned to restock while he was gone and went out to the garage only to remember then that we'd left my car at a local dealership before our trip so a recalled air bag could get replaced.

We'd both forgotten about it. I considered biking to the grocery with a backpack and even got on the bike. But it was as if all the exertion from the prior days caught up with me and I napped instead. 

I must have looked like death warmed over when Jeff and I drove up to get my car back because the sales staff had that "Should I call 9-1-1" look in their eyes when I stumbled to the desk.

In my defense, at camp, you get up, brush your teeth, pull your hair back and face the day. I was still at camp in my mind and groggy from little restful sleep.  

Today, we're fully back home in mind, body and spirit. It's a rainy day so I'm out on the back porch catching up with country music. Ali is inside avoiding country music, getting ready for summer school and clearing out her room. Jeff is at work. It's a pleasant kind of Indiana summer day.

Not as pleasant as Pleasant Pond, but it's a good place to be, too. Thanks, Jen and Peter, for an awesome time.

I leave you with a shot of what Ali and Jen2 did when they were out of the water and not playing board or phone games.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Yea! A box for Father's Day!!

Know how fun it is to see a little kid ignoring the toy and playing with the empty box? The captain is a little bit like that kid. Only his empty boxes come from liquor stores and are great for shipping treats to his beer buddies.

Father's Day weekend was full of friends and food and wine and beer and art and baseball and well, it was kind of exhausting. Good exhausting. And super fun.

Ali did, in fact, give her father a box for Father's Day. But it was decorated with lots of beer things from places he likes and inside was full full of things he can use, some things he can snack on and some words on paper promising even more good stuff to come. And a flashlight he insisted on having...

The weekend got started with a girls's trip to Crackerbarrel where we met Aunts Donna, Diana and Jaime for what for some of us was a healthy meal that included green stuff on our plates. 
Not so for Diana who had starch x 4 and was incredibly proud of it. We may have set a record for telling the most terrible stories from childhood but no one kicked us out.

Ali will tell you that she beat me at checkers. It was after I'd won handily and I was feeling generous. She doesn't have that gene when it comes to competition.
We went all over the place looking for Father's Day gifts and Jenna Tokash birthday gifts. But it was sunny and the top was down so we didn't care about the miles.

Friday night, Eric and Tracy came up and we met them and Susan and Jeff for Taste of Broad Ripple. Much eating and drinking and laughing.

The Indians won. Jeff, Eric and Ali scored stuff at the Talbott Street Art Fair. (We spoke with Gary and will follow up with more fun Father's Day stuff in person soon on a summer trip to Maine.)

Ali made incredibly good French onion soup and I helped with a pear & prosciutto pizza Sunday night. And Jeff got a box. All is right with our world.

All the kitties we're sitting (4 total) are happy and healthy. Well, we're not sure Oreo gets happy, but they're all just fine. Plants, too, Kirstin.  :)

Saturday, June 10, 2017

A week of Alison's Summer Break-ation

I’ve been telling Ali she should journal her summer now that it’s blown up by her collarbone fracture. She’s resisting but giving me gems. Here’s what I recall her actually saying along with some imagined journaling she'd do if she ever listened to me.

I promised I'd make sure you know this is ME journaling; not her. #Teenagers

Ali's Summer Break-ation

Day 1 (Thursday): Was going to the movies with Navy to see Pirates of the Carribean but got flipped off my bike and broke my collarbone. Hurts like a mother and when I called for help from my parents, neither one answered the phone. A random stranger and her husband helped me. Navy came and then my mom. I kind of gave her a hard time but she was beating herself up so well I didn’t need to.  I gave her a break. I'm what they call a benevolent despot.

Got home around midnight from the hospital. Will be sleeping on the Yogi Bo for a while so I don't hurt myself. Supposed to call out if the pain gets too bad.

Day 2 (Friday): I thought I’d get more time to get used to this sling and being a cripple but my mom just told me I still have to do chores. WTF??? I tried. It hurt. She said I could stop. Seemed really sorry that she’d made me do it. I guess I shouldn’t have told her that it wasn’t hurting me “at all.” Guess she’s not a total bitch. Wait: I wonder if this means I don’t get my allowance now...

I did get to go to my cat sitting job but I couldn’t ride my bike to get there like I'd planned. An hour with the kitties and I come out wearing a ton of cat fur. Mom got it off my sling and I showered. Alone. Thank you very much. I like her help but really didn’t need/want her in the shower with me. I'm 16 not 2!!!!!

Not taking the prescription pain med. It’s Vicodan!!!! Pretty sure I’ll be a drug addict if I start. Ice and ibuprofen is working just fine. I told Jenna about my arm. She said I’m a dumbass for not wearing my helmet. Guilty. Zoya and Hannah texted me all alarmed. They read my mom's blog. Guess I should tell some other people about it.

Took flowers to the Bryants (the family that rescued me) and picked up the bike. It's in better shape than I am....

Went to the Indians game. They won. It was fun. Got to go to the bathroom ALL BY MYSELF!!! My parents are weird. They practically body-guarded me walking in so I had no chance of getting knocked into by the crowd. I can walk, people....

Day 3 (Saturday): Bored. Mom tells me I should start my drivers’ ed online course. That sounds boring too. Just realized this stupid sling means I can't water ski or paddle board at Auntie Jen's. That is so unfair! And Jenna is going with me this year. Stupid collarbone. My life sucks.

Got through the rest of The Office on Netflix. Super fun. Maybe life doesn't exactly suck.

Considered feeling guilty that Mom is doing my laundry. Opted not to. I'm the crippled one. 

Saw the late show of Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Mom drank a Rockstar to be sure she made it to the end. She smuggled in chocolate for me. I love her. (She did not fall asleep!)

Day 4 (Sunday): Super bummed. I’m supposed to be going to Summer Camp today. Stupid sling. Mom and Day say I can probably go for part of the week if the doctor clears me. I don’t want to go if I can’t do anything. This summer sucks.

Dad came in to hang out with me. I was on the couch. He was on the YogiBo. Mom left for something. He was asleep before she got in the car, I think. Napping is good.

Ogdens came by to see how broken I am. I love them. They brought me creme brûlée!!!

Day 5 (Monday): Supposed to go to the orthopedic doctor to see if I need surgery. Something with insurance happened. Now no doctor visit. Mom seems pissed.  On phone a lot with nurses. It’s funny when she talks back to voice mail.

She said maybe I could go to summer camp, still, if the doctor cleared me. I really don't want to go if I can't do anything. Feel bad about stranding Bree there, though.

Catching up on South Park. OMG they killed Kenny! Bastards!

Day 6 (Tuesday): Researching collar bone breaks to see what I’m looking at. I don’t want to spend all summer in a sling. Getting some summer homework done. Have not started drivers’ ed.

Day 7 (Wednesday): Doctor visit. Practically at dawn. Doesn’t anyone know it’s summer? I think I impressed the doctor with my collarbone research. 

It’s a Type 3 break. I KNEW it. Xrays are cool too. Navy had been saying I didn’t really break it because they called it a fracture at the ER. Ha! Suck it, Navy!!! It’s totally broken. Super cool. And my bruise is getting bigger and easier to see, too. He says I don't have to wear the sling 24/7 and I can move around and if it hurts, stop. I made sure Mom was paying attention. I'M NOT A CRIPPLE OR 2 YEARS OLD!!!!!

Dad was home from work because we had some service call at the same time as the doctor visit. Mom had gone somewhere and I was on the couch. Hungry. Dad was in the kitchen just hanging. I asked him to make me Ramen, apparently without enough pathetic in my voice.

"Get your lazy butt off the couch and make your own damn Ramen. You're not crippled," he said.

I stopped myself from saying, "Mom would do it." So I made my own damn Ramen. And I made it fancy too. He said: "Hey that smells good. You gonna share?"

"Make your own damn Ramen," I said. I was pretty sure calling him lazy would be a step too far. But he made his own damn Ramen.

I wonder when Mom's coming home.

Day 8 (Thursday): Slept for 12 hours. Almost straight through. Kinda fell off the YogiBo but didn’t hurt myself. Doing a little more homework and have trash duty to look forward to. (NOT! I HAVE A BROKEN BONE, MOM. REMEMBER??!?)

Mom brought home Zheng Garden. I love her. Still haven’t started drivers’ ed. I have all summer, Mom!

Day 9 (Friday): Not a bad day at all. Slept in my own bed for the first time in a while. Did not fall off the bed. Go me! Mom was on a big writing spree so I got most of the day mostly to myself. Went to the gym with her today. Went 30 minutes on a bike that can't kill me. Feeling more in control of myself.

Day 10 (Saturday): So excited. An escape is just hours away. They're finally letting me out of their sight so I can help my friend Nikki and her family at the International Festival and then I get to sleepover at her house. Miss Sidi is an awesome cook and I LOVE her. They're Hungarian and I'm pretty sure they're not going to constantly be asking me if I'm OK or in pain. I guess I could have it worse: I mean, my parents care about me and all.  I love them. But man am I looking forward to a break. As in "time off." I don't need another bone break. :)

Mom seems to be taking well to this being at home. She says she's not working but it sure seems like she's keeping busy somehow. She says she's writing a book, which is kind of weird and embarrassing. I've seen what she reads. Trying to talk her into using a pen name if she actually gets it done. I really don't need my MOM to be writing porn. 

Sunday, June 4, 2017


Like so many things lately, we're dealing with a few wrinkles in our summer plans. 

Ali won't be enjoying her final week of camp at Flat Rock River. She's aging out, so this is the last year she can go as a camper. As we're still waiting for her orthopedic doctor to schedule us, it doesn't make sense to send her to the wonderland of jumping in the river, jumping in the pool, climbing crazy towers and all of the fun she's used to having.

But she's largely in one piece and she doesn't seem to have any major head trauma. "I like my brain," she said, the other day. "It's pretty smart. I'm glad I didn't mess it up."

Us, too.  In addition to being grateful for that, we're grateful for all the friends who texted, called, Facebooked or even stopped in to check on the patient.

Team Ogden came en masse today, Alex barely fitting through the front door and closing in on Jeff in the "Tallest Boy" contest. We had nice visit, which included another round of congrats to Hannah, the new high school graduate. I had been fortunate to snag a spot to actually see her get her diploma thanks (unfortunately) to the illness of her grandfather. (He's fine now.)

I'd helped Karin get photos of Hannah on the stage, so I'd seen her before the whole thing was over, as well as after. Later, Hannah said, "You know, I remember thinking that I didn't remember that we had a ticket for Mrs. Reed but it never occurred to me to think it was weird that she was there. Of course she was there!"

That almost made me cry. I do love those Ogdens. Even if its weird to hug Alex and have my face smashed into his chest.

It's possible that I'm being a little indulgent with the patient. 

Jeff skipped poker to go with us to the Indians game Friday night. Tribe wins! Tribe wins!

Saturday, we took her out to 317 Burger to celebrate her straight A report card and her awesome final exams that were also all A with  a couple +s.  And tonight we walked back into Broad Ripple for some Brics ice cream. Partly because we were too full from 317 Burger to have dessert last night. 

We discovered French onion soup dumplings at the burger joint. Ali and Jeff go there for the poutine, but I'll go back for those yummy, cheesy balls of joy.

It was on our walk home that she finally gave up her hospital wrist band. She's a little over the sling already, so it's going to be a long way to getting it off. She was on the couch looking out the window today when she saw a girl riding by on her bicycle. 

"She was not wearing a helmet and had one hand on her handle bar and in the other one, she was texting," reported my little patient. 

I asked her if she'd called out a warning through the window. She said she didn't. "But I said to myself, she's gonna regret that one day," she said.

That's that smart brain of hers kicking in, I guess.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Summer Brake?

It seemed like such a great plan. Jeff was playing softball and it was going to be a late night. I was teaching one segment of a PR accreditation class and was going to miss dinner. Ali was going to be home alone.

I suggested she find a friend and a movie that would work with my timeline to get there and back and problem solved, right? The movie that worked for me, didn't work for her friend, Navy, so we agreed that Ali could ride her bike to Glendale and I'd pick her (and the bike) up on my way back after my class.

So there I was, phone away from me, giving my presentation and catching up with an old PR friend and some new ones, blissfully unaware of the voice mail and missed call. Jeff, of course, was in the same boat. His was just sweatier.

I was in the car, prepared to get on my way when I checked my phone to hear my baby trying to talk through tears: "Mom, I was in an accident and I didn't have my helmet on and my bone is poking out and I'm ...."

I didn't listen more to the message. I called her and she picked up and it was chaos. She seemed to be in even more pain. I tried to figure out where she was. "Some people helped me and Navy is here." The phone cut out. I called back. Navy -- her awesome swim buddy -- answered.

"We are at St. Vincent's Emergency Room," she said. I told her I was on her way and tried to drive carefully. Luckily, I wasn't that far from her and it was just six million stop lights and few cars in my way.  I get there. No parking but valet, which is closed.  "Screw it. if it's closed, I can park in these empty valet only spots," I reasoned.

I walked in and it seemed like as soon as people saw me, they started smiling. I barely had to say her name when I was walked back to her. Front desk, nurses' station, they were all hiding grins. "Has she been a little profane?" I asked.

One of the nurses allowed that maybe she'd been a little profane. But that he was in the military and he hadn't learned anything new. I sighed.  I found her in an exam room draped in a gown, face still a little wet but in as good as spirits as Navy could get her.

And Kim Bryant. A woman who lives a few blocks from me but I'd never met but who is among my all time favorite people.

She and her husband were working in their yard at Primrose and 57th when Ali cruised by on my bicycle with only her headphones and flip flops to protect herself. She was also armed that morning with a map to help her overcome her directional deficiencies. She's used to being with one of us and will sometimes head Downtown when she's really in search of Broad Ripple. 

We just yesterday joined LA Fitness and she was hoping to ride there by herself to swim if I wasn't available. I didn't want her to end up in Illinois instead of the gym -- which is the same direction as the movie theater. I marked her N, S, E and W with Broad Ripple, Downtown, Taco Bell and the Monon to give her a better guide.

Her long legs have outgrown her bike, so we switched. Her bike has a very soft braking system compared to mine. She's only used it a few times and has never had cause to brake suddenly. According to Kim (and Ali) she was heading down 57th just fine but two cars came zooming along Primrose and startled her. Already on the fun side of a slight hill, she braked to avoid them.

And flipped herself right off the bike, onto the street. The bike kept going, of course, and smacked her head. One person in a car slowed and asked if she was OK.  Dazed, she said, "Yeah I'm fine." The other car didn't even slow down. The Bryants came rushing over to get her out of the street.

She said she wasn't in pain right way but when the Bryants pointed out the swelling, it hit her all at once. And of course, neither Jeff nor I pick up our phones. Thank God for the Bryants and for Navy. Kim decided Ali needed medical help. "I'm in HR so I know how much ambulances cost," she said.

So this perfect (and I do mean perfect in all respects) stranger, picks up my kid, along with Navy who comes zooming over and leaves her car unlocked and keys in it, and drives her to the hospital. And stayed with her until I finally got to my phone.

How amazing is that?! Her husband had put my bike in his garage and retrieved Navy's keys and locked up her car for her. And then they waited up until 11:15 p.m. when we finally got sprung from the E.R.

Ali has a fractured collar bone and cuts and abrasions all over.

"Head, shoulders, knees and toes. Hey Ali: you got the whole song," Navy proclaimed.

We were waiting quite a while and tried to pass the time with cards and stories. I said something to Ali about her last serious medical issue. She gave me a look. Trying to be discreet, I told Navy that it had involved a fire pole and a tear to a private area that happened when she lost her grip and then re-gripped with everything she had.  I even tried to be less graphic than I normally am. 

"Geeze, Mom. That's a little personal, don't you think?" she said, giving Navy the side-eye.

"Dude. I helped you pee in a cup. I think we're beyond personal," Navy deadpanned.

I LOVE Navy, who'd brought cookie dough and chocolate chips to get them through the movie. Alison's Nutella popcorn contraband was smashed in her backpack. I wasn't there in the beginning but I can't imagine Navy was anything but supportive and kept Ali from getting too over wrought.  She was just great. 

We finally got home and settled. Ali didn't need another prescription pain pill through the night and woke up in good spirits and not a lot of pain. I'm hoping that means it's not a bad break. I'm waiting now to see if she can even go to summer camp as expected Sunday and when/if/where I need to get her an orthopedic doc appointment on Monday.  

We are IU Health people, not St. Vincent people according to our insurance. So while I deeply appreciate the care -- and the humor with which the ER team treated my daughter and her sailor's mouth -- we may have to see a different doc than recommended by the fine folks at St. V.

Lessons learned:
  1. "I know I was a dumbass," Alison said, pledging to not only wear her helmet at all times but also closed-toe shoes.
  2. Choose good friends. (And be a good friend.) You never know when you'll be splat on the road and need them to scrape you up.
  3. Don't give up on the world: There remain awesome people out there. If you can help someone, please do it. As Kim Bryant told me, "I'd want someone to take care of my baby if she was in trouble. It's nothing. I did nothing."
She did a lot more than nothing. And we'll be forever grateful that the accident wasn't worse. Her bone will heal. I'm not sure my heart will. She's living the life right now, propped up on her highly malleable Yogi-Bo with what we call "the sick person's tray" Ramen and all of the bear necessities of teenage, first world life: phone, iPad, headphones and chargers.

The headphones, and possibly my bike, were uninjured by the crash.

Later today, we're going to compare hospital stories with Grandpa, who seems to have mad it through HIS bout with the Maine medical staff just fine.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Putting the Memory in Memorial Day Weekend

It's been a while since I put my child in danger.

Our hiking weekend doesn't count. Because while she may have been in danger, and I'm not saying she was or wasn't, it was danger of her own making.

Today, though. This was all me. I would like to stop here and make a case that I was simply trying to get the house in order. We have a small one coming over for dinner tonight and it's been a while since I had to really think about whether the corners in this house are clean enough for a crawler.

I'd gotten most of the grime out of the crevices when I glanced into the bathroom. Alison's bathroom toilet came with the house. And it's prone to have a semi circle of gorp hanging around the water line in the basin. Ali and Jeff had fled the cleaning craze to get last minute supplies, so I squirted in the cleaner I had on hand and let it simmer in all three of the toilets. None were pristine.

I'd finished most of the cleaning and had even scrubbed myself by the time Ali and Jeff got home and they'd brought bleach along with foodstuffs we'd need for dinner. I had a moment of inspiration. "Why scrub when chemicals can do that for me?" I asked myself.

I grabbed the bleach and added a liberal dose to each commode. Then, captured by another less-than-shiny object, I walked away. I was downstairs when my mildly asthmatic child asked me how long before she could use her bathroom.

"You can use it now," I said, "But scrub it for me first, please."

Off she went. In the basement, I caught a whiff of an exceptionally potent odor. I looked up as if I could see through the floorboards. And then I heard a cough.

"Uh-oh." In a flash, I remembered a few years ago when I was the cougher at the very same toilet bowl. Then, I'd invented a concoction of bleach, ammonia and Comet, I think. Jeff called it mustard gas, as I recall.

It was easy to recall because he was in fine Captain form, informing me that my chemistry credentials had never been extended to me.

We gave her a bunch of water and got her outdoors. Jeff set about opening doors and windows, flipping on fans and bringing more up from the basement. I sat with Ali, apologized but assured her she would recover.

Yes, I felt terrible. I ignored the tickle in my own respiratory system as she hacked up a bit and fretted that I'd inadvertently shredded her more delicate breathing apparatus. We took a little walk down the street. On the way back, she said she was feeling much better and was thinking ahead to next year's advanced chemistry class and how she might answer the question, "What did you do over the summer?"

"I inhaled pure chlorine gas," she projected into this flash forward classroom scene.

"You know, now that I'm feeling better, I'm kind of thinking about the chemistry of all that," she said. We wondered what might have happened had I added another favorite cleaning fluid: vinegar.

"If you'd added aluminum, you could have exploded the toilets," she informed me.

I'm going to take her off the cleaning crew. And hide the bleach. And aluminum foil. And maybe see if I can channel her back into baking. That's chemistry too.  I'll be her clean-up crew.

In other, less lethal, holiday weekend fun, we managed to attend the annual pre-race Tokash Indy 500 Bash and a Race Day gathering Cordy-Sweetwater at Lynn Sinex's lake house. Jeff found new craft beer buddies in our old friends the Fralich's and Ali won the Indy 500 race pool at the lake house.

We had to drive home through a near monsoon Sunday that started happily after the race  -- and with me at the wheel no less -- but again, we made it. We may be un-killable. 

The photo below is of Ali and me after the Captain evacuated the house while the fumes were dissipating. Ali is threatening to never enter her bathroom again, but I think I'll calm her down before long. 

The others are random weekend shots. Hope you're having a great weekend. And that your toilets are clean.