Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A step (or 12K steps) too far

When my pleas for the rescue boat and/or a search party were said out loud instead of just in my head, I knew I'd gone more than a few steps too far.

It was the Chocolate Monkey or maybe my sister-in-law's fault, really when she replied to my question, "How far do you think it is to that point over there?"

She shrugged, guessed three miles, and went back to her Rum Punch. She was busy arranging a beach pizza party and I decided to test her ability to judge distance on the beach. So off I set.

My plan was to rest my left leg, which has some sort of a tear or pull deep into the muscle. I'd go slow, I reasoned. I'd be fine.

There are many problem with a walk on the beach when one of your legs is wonky.

1. Your leg is wonky.
2. You have to walk back with an even more wonky leg.
3. Rescue boats work in the water not in sand.
4. If your potential rescue party is more Donner than Blitzen, they ain't coming to get your lame ass. Even if it's literally lame.
5. A short walk on the beach will give you a nice, smooth polish on the soles of your feet. A Bataan death march will flay whole -- and quite necessary -- layers of skin.
6. Once your protective layers are gone, your feet try to build new ones. (Not so)Fun fact: calluses are born as blisters.
7. Your non-wonky leg will eventually remember it comes in a pair and start to be wonky in solidarity with the other one. Who knew legs are Democrats!?

Jen's estimate was off by two miles. In the bad direction. But I had no business walking one mile down the beach so really it was my own damn fault. Or maybe the Chocolate Monkey.

Today I will rest. As long as, you know, I can get the Chocolate Monkey off my back.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Fit(bit) to be tied

“Dad is like a dog when he does something wrong,” Ali declared this afternoon, claiming that when he knows he’s in the wrong, he tucks his head down and whines a little bit in the back of his throat.
“And,” she went on, he blames other people for doing it.”
We were in the car coming home from school/work and I was fretting about misplacing the actual fitbit part of my Fitbit wristband. I’d put it in the charger this morning and when I went to replace it in the wristband, it was gone from the charger. I looked all around the counter, in my purse (twice for some reason including again when I got to work.)
“I didn’t touch it,” said Ali.
“I found it on the floor by the bed,” Jeff said, according to Alison, his head was down and no eye contact was made.
I KNEW he’d picked it up off the floor and put it on my bookcase. It was from there that I’d picked it up to get it juiced up.
“Sometimes you lose it at night and it falls on the floor and I pick it up for you,” he explained, continuing to wax poetic about my fitbit foibles.
I resisted my “yeah, yeah, yeah, but did you really  think it was YOUR fitbit charging in the kitchen, and did you help yourself to it?”

We were trying to get out the door to school/work and I decided to address it in the evening. 

My rationale: "We need to get to work/school.  My leg still hurts. Maybe this is the Universe telling me to give it a rest." 

Everyone knows you can't exercise when you don't have your fitbit on. It's like none of that good work ever happened if it's not recorded.
"Besides," I reasoned. "I know where the damn fitbit is. It's wherever Jeff put it. I know where it wasn’t when I went to get it. Ali doesn’t wear a fitbit. My logic was irrefutable."

Fortunately I didn't voice my suspicions because this evening, foraging for food, as we discussed the fate of the fitbit and all the different ways Jeff could have snagged it and immediately forgotten he'd done so, Alison sang out: "Hey Mom. Found your fitbit. It fell into the fruit bowl."

Argh! Not only is Jeff  not the thieving varmint Ali and I had pegged him, I now have to exercise. But first it has to charge.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Week in Review

I had to leave work early this week when Alison's annual bout with respiratory issues flared up. Her cough reached the tipping point where medication could be had, so off we went to the doctor.

Happily medicated, she's getting back to normal just in time for benchmark tests and Spring Break.

One day during her recovery, she wandered into my bathroom where I was in a bubble bath, hoping the warmth would help ease a muscle issue I've been having in one of my legs. After she complained that I could spend time bathing while she was burdened with homework, she pushed out her non-existent stomach and said: "All this being sick and studying and laying around has given me a pooch."

"Yeah, that's what did it," I said.

She was on the way out when she realized what I said.

"Hey!" She said. I was still laughing at her when she returned, armed with a Nerf gun, then turned the cold water on.

She's a vengeful thing. But at least she won't be hacking on the beach.

With vacation coming up, I'm trying to stay away from the french macarons my friend Kirsten and I made during a french pastry lesson. It was a Christmas gift that was for the three of us, but Alison's cough was too bad to take into a commercial kitchen. It was super fun, though we did miss Ali, and we were sure she'd have done better than the two of us.

She's decided that she needs to switch from using the traditional measuring cups and spoons we've always used because the pastry chef who instructed us weighs all of his ingredients. For her birthday, she's asked for recipe books that give weights in the ingredient list and a kitchen scale so she can practice.

"I think I love baking so much because it's really chemistry," she said. "And I love chemistry."

On a less happy note, my Uncle Larry had some pretty serious heart surgery this week. He is my father's youngest brother and has been a constant in my life. He can tell the funniest story in as few words as anyone I know. He's also one of those people who you can always count on. Years ago I was up visiting my cousin, Lori, and staying with them, we'd come in from seeing a movie.

She and I were laughing as we came in the door but found Larry and Shirley in the kitchen, clearly waiting on us. My dad had had another heart attack. It was late. Not midnight, but late. I turned to get back in my car and Larry followed me out, insisting that I shouldn't drive by myself.

I don't remember that drive. He does. He's also never ridden with me behind the wheel in the 30 years since that night ride. In my defense, there's nothing but hilly, curvy country roads between their house in Columbus and Greene County General and we had reason to rush. I guess we were lucky that Larry wasn't in the ICU next to my dad, though I didn't realize that for a while.

And, I'm told that when she got a similar call about her Grandpa, Lori's daughter, Allyssa, made a strikingly similar trip from New Orleans where she lives to St. Vincent's in Indy. Her canine co-pilots didn't refuse to ride home with her.

The good news is that Uncle Larry seems to be on the upswing since the surgery. I popped in for a short visit today and he asked me to tell Aunt Shirley to stay home for a couple days. He's worried she's worrying to much and needs to rest. He was hoping that as Lori has to go back to work, she'll be stranded.

Aunt Shirley greeted his request with the snort and scheme I had suspected. Donna's driving her up tomorrow.  If you're inclined to find favor from higher powers, send up a note for my aunt and uncle. They're amazing people.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Apples and trees and the fireplace in March

Ali just read "Lolita" for school and it's been the topic of many a conversation around the dinner table or in the car.

She's been disgusted by the premise but intrigued with the writing style of the book. We've tried to get her to stop focusing on the actual relationship and to think about the motivations and explanation for the reprehensible behavior. She has to give a speech and offer a 3D prop.

We talked about it going home last weekend. She was planning to get a block of styrofoam that use for floral arrangements and carve it into a brain. She was going to stick toothpicks in it with paper flags attached, with references to the brain abnormalities of both HH and Lolita.

We found a mannequin head instead. I came home the other day to find her hands-to-elbows covered in enough green to make the Hulk envious. (I was going to say green with envy, but, well, that seemed redundant.) Anyway, she had carved a really creepy looking brain in the top of the head. It's pretty gross. But I suspect will be effective. She was planning on sticking toothpicks or wooden skewers in it with flags detailing the array of mental illnesses she'd identified. I don't know that she'll need more than this to showcase her theory that the main characters needed treatment.

I kind of want to see her give the report. She was the only one in her class to pick "Lolita" out of about 30 options for the pre-AP English 10 class. She's had a few weeks to get over her initial, visceral reaction to the book. Her classmates won't have had that opportunity.

"This was a real thing. It actually happened," she said. "It was pretty awful but the writing style was pretty cool."

In other Alison news, she's been selected to be among a group of young people to take part in the Richard Lugar Series for Excellence in Public Service Next Generation. I am super pumped about this, mostly because her selection had zero to do with either Jeff or me and 100 percent all Alison Renee Reed.

Teachers make the decision to ask kids if they're interested, and then they choose from there. Jeff and I aren't super-involved at the school so her teachers have no idea that I have any prior involvement in state service, that Jeff is currently serving or that Grandpa Reed served 10 years in the Maine Legislature.

Dick Lugar is one of those statesmen who even diehard Democrats thought was awesome and didn't mind crossing party lines to vote for him.  The series will include a state at the Indiana Statehouse where they'll choose one of three bills to follow and they'll visit with elected officials and others throughout the day.

One of the stops will be the Governor's Office. I don't know if the couch she peed on as a poorly diapered child is still there. Cindy had it cleaned, so I'm sure none of the folks who came after would have known. But we know she marked the space at an early age.

She doesn't remember, as I do, when she correctly identified letters on the state seal in the office carpet to Heather Willey, then the governor's E.A. for education. Ali was two or three, and Heather was delighted to find an early enrollee in  FOB's  early education program.

Anyway, I'm enormously proud of her. She quickly grew tired of me going through the paperwork I had to sign for her to do it. "You are such a government nerd," she said.

She's hoping they pick a bill she can talk to Speaker Bosma about because it just strikes her as wrong and he should know about it. We'll have a discussion about how to respectfully disagree the morning of the event.

Today we're spending the hopefully last bitterly cold day of the year with a fire in the fireplace. Ali had homework and was sequestered in her room for a while. She'd ventured out earlier and he'd bemoaned her lack of slippers. (She's been sick and it's really cold.)

"If you don't put something on your feet, I'm going to stab you with this knife," he threatened. She remains barefoot. The knife never met her flesh.

I put some music on and she and Jeff both assailed me when the first song came on -- Billy Currington.

It's a 5-disc player. Only one is country. They didn't believe me. Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, Fountains of Wayne and a home-made disc with Ben Folds Five and Barenaked Ladies. It was enough to eventually lure her out of her room.

These are my favorite Sundays. All of us in the same room, good music and assorted toys to play with together or apart. I'd like a lot more of them.

Oh! On Friday, Hilary Ricks and a new friend, Heather Barton and I went to the Anderson Cooper-Andy Cohen show. We ran into a few other friends, including Cathy Garver and Alisha Valentine. The show was super fun. Great night out. Ali had a friend over and Jeff took them to see Logan. Good reviews from all involved. 

This week, Ali and I are meeting up with Kirsten Jasheway to get a french baking lesson. I finally cashed in Kirsten (and Duane's) Christmas gift of a massage so I'm all relaxed and ready for it. Ali is going to smoke both of us at this lesson. But we'll have wine so it'll be OK. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Gravel in my travel

I haven't been feeling especially great this week. Some really virulent 'flu has been going around and I've been trying to lose a bit of my gut (cutting back on the vino and doing extra gym work) and in doing so had pulled or strained something in my left leg. By Friday I was done fighting it and stayed home to work.

By the end of the day I was feeling energetic enough to have dinner with our great friends Bob and Kathy Johnson. Ali had been anxious to try the poutine there and we've been too long away from the Johnsons. Great dinner. Amazing people. So-so food.

I'd planned to rest my leg a bit over the weekend. Ali and I were scheduled for some time down home. Jeff had craft beer adventures on his agenda.

I thought a few hours in the car, a baby shower and a retirement party would keep me from doing too much. I was sure that my biggest challenge would be staying away from the dessert table.

On the way down Alison, convinced that country music was solely about women, whiskey, dogs and pickup trucks. I countered that it was much more diverse. She started keeping track. I lost, but only because she was a stickler even for small references of her four word choices.

We'd no sooner get down there than we learn that Aunt Shirley and Uncle Larry were moving that weekend from their temporary home into the home they'd finally found and bought. It made total sense that we'd offer to help out.

But first we had Micajah's baby shower, a drop-in at Debbie's to see baby Alayna and her mother, Annie, and then Donna's surprise retirement party. The highlight of the visit to Debbie's  -- for Alison -- was when Alayna spit all over cousin Aleasha. For me it was playing with Alayna. Seeing Annie was OK, too.

Donna had thrown a hissy fit when the idea of a retirement party was first broached. To comply, her daughter Jaime had an it's-not-a-retirement-retirement party. And to be sure Donna wouldn't catch on, she had it at Donna's house. As people kept dropping by, it became clear that a party was taking form. 

It was manageable, though, even for anti-social Donna. Three tiny granddaughters and a euchre tournament made it pretty easy to take. I lost. Ali and Jaime won. We watched bad movies and just caught up. It was super fun.

Sunday did dawn a bit early. Ali and I had shared a room. Around 8 or so, we heard Donna and Jim in the kitchen. "How can we be in a family with morning people?" Ali asked, groaning. "It's so wrong."

Aunt Shirley and Uncle Larry's new home is a lovely three-story house down a gravel road surrounded by barns, fields and wooded areas.  Three stories mean lots of stairs.

Six hours later, we'd helped pack up, and unpack two trailers and pick up trucks -- twice each.
Donna, Ali and I showed up an hour late. And God bless my little teenager: she worked like a demon without complaint. Debbie, Nancy and Dennis were there as well, along with Lori, my cousin, and daughter of my aunt and uncle. Recent and ongoing health issues kept the elders from participating much beyond direction -- which was a huge frustration for my uncle. 

I'd always known that my cousin Howard was strong. But when he and his son-in-law Kyle started picking up freezers and mattresses and dressers and moving them from one spot to the next, I started
thinking I ought to start treating them with a little more respect. I'd planned on calling Howard "Grandpa" all day as I'd traveled for his daughter's (and Kyle's) baby shower.

But those boys worked HARD. This isn't a picture of them working; it's just a recent one of Howard, his wife Cheryl and his daughter Aleksey that I like and one I stole from Micajah's facebook page . I don't know many Hoosiers who can carry off a cowboy hat. Howard does. Kyle might be able to.

 Here's a shot of Micajah stolen from Facebook from the shower. Cheryl and Aleksey were responsible for the decor. Howard was enlisted for the high art:

Alison insisted on riding with Howard on the trips to and fro -- so another conquest for him there. I got to spend some time with Kyle, who I'd always liked but now totally see why Micajah is head over heels for him. I'm going to solidify my friendship with both of them by promising to never ask them to help me move. But if you need a guy to move a freezer, I know a couple...

For family, they apparently work for beer and food. I don't know what they'd charge strangers.

Coming home, Ali and I were chatting about the day and she was telling me how much fun she'd had with Howard. Their trips in the car were apparently more fun than capturing ladybugs that had come to love part of the house.

"I like our family," she said, following it up with an assertion that she didn't think she could actually live in the country with no pizza delivery and sketchy wifi.

I like them too.