Saturday, September 1, 2012

Memories, future and current

Note: this was actually written on September 1.
September already. Summer's over. As I type, I'm waiting for Alexander and his friend's family to drive up from a week on a tiny island in a lake up north. No electricity, no electronics, and they needed to take a boat to the 'mainland' to get supplies. He's probably coming home a little bit tougher. I'm excited to see him.

James Allen McWilliam, circa 1950

Yesterday was the 19th anniversary of my dad's passing away. I miss him a lot. He would have been a wonderful grandpa to Alexander, whose middle name was chosen in honor of my dad. I thought about him tonight as I biked up to Lake Josephine at sundown. He used to ride his bike a lot and would have loved our little lake. There's a DQ right across the street, and I remembered how we'd enjoy a couple of chocolate almond Haagen Daz ice cream bars after a trip to Costco together.
Yesterday was also the 15th anniversary of Princess Diana's death. I recall sitting up in bed at my father's house late into the night watching the details unfold on tv regarding her tragic death. What a beautiful and caring woman we lost that night.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

It's my last full day in Prescott Valley, Arizona. While Alexander and I have done some fun activities, I'm not leaving with a sense of satisfaction or relaxation.
My mom's still struggling with a lot of pain and COPD. Listening to her do her breathing treatments is emotionally painful. We met with her neurosurgeon yesterday and were made aware of the significant risks of another surgery and subsequent long and difficult recovery period. Then, the best case scenario is that her pain may decrease by about 50%. She seemed happy at the thought of that much lessening of her pain. I can only imagine how much it stinks to live day to day with that kind of suffering. If her pain could be better controlled, life would be better. But doctors are reluctant to write prescriptions for narcotics, and those are only partially dulling the pain. She tried the Fentanyl patch recently and found them to be ineffective. Scar tissue from previous surgeries prohibits epidural injections and modalities like chiropractic and acupuncture only provide slight, temporary relief.
She should not be living alone. She doesn't want to move to Minnesota and I can't move here to help. She's still mentally sharp but older folks are notorious for making poor decisions regarding their welfare and independence. She says she's not quite ready for assisted living and doesn't want to sell her house in this lousy market. Bottom line, though, is that I need to convince her that her safety is a priority and preventing a wreck is better than cleaning up afterward.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Summer is almost over! It's been a good one, though.
There was little league baseball for Alexander, which gave me more reasons to be outdoors and watch him a change from a clumsy kid who just wanted to goof off to a more athletic boy who really cared about the game.

There were a few weeks of summer school, which allowed me to keep and practice my skills with ASD kids in a more relaxed environment than the regular school year. I also got to be with the older kids as they "graduated" and toured their new school and met their new teachers. I was so proud of them; they'd progressed so much.

There was the time spent with Alexander alone and with his friends - at the beach, riding bikes, and more. I feel so incredibly blessed that I can have summers off to play with my boy.

There was Cub Scouts' Camp Akela, for which I am camping chair, and the extra time with A watching him learn woodworking, practice his shooting skills with BB and paintball guns, and really get into making beef stew with a couple of other scouts for them and their parents. The camp counselors said our stew was the best and I guess I believe them because they kept coming back for more.

There was Vikings training camp, where I watched my team up close in the early stages of practice and development for the 2012 season. I watched Adrian Peterson rehabbing his knee on the far end of the fields; our 1st round draft pick, Matt Kalil, lining up against veteran Jared Allen and having a great time doing it; and our recent acquisition, Jerome Simpson, who was amazing with his speed and agility. If he can keep himself out of trouble, I think he's going to be a great asset for the team.

Then, last weekend, I drove into St. Paul to watch the unveiling of  a statue of Hubert Humphrey at the State Capitol. President Bill Clinton spoke, in addition to VP Mondale and Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar. I was happy yet somewhat surprised to hear the positive messages from all. I left with a welcome but unfamiliar feeling of hope. The sculptors are a couple married 22 years who've also made statues of Martin Luther King and religious figures.
Lastly, I've had plenty of time to make art this summer and I'm almost done with a collage that I hope to post tomorrow.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I burned up some t-shirts this evening. It's not something I do regularly. I'm not sure I've ever done it. They were t-shirts that brought bad memories. In burning them in a ritualistic manner, I was trying to rid myself of those negative feelings. I don't know if it's worked yet. I felt somewhat bad because burning t-shirts can't be environmentally conscious. However, it was very satisfying to watch them catch fire, smoke, and eventually turn into a black pile in the fire pit.

The boys will be home this weekend. I've had a little over a week with just Alexander, and it'll be 2.5 weeks without Dana in the house. I still love my alone time and look forward to their annual Lake Itasca trip, but it is different this time. Not sure exactly why, but maybe it's because I'm working this summer. Maybe it was because I've had a lot to do. Maybe it's any one of a hundred things. The good thing is, I've been working on some art.  I still have to tell myself to stop being so inhibited and perfectionistic about it. I suppose that'll be a lifelong struggle.

Tonight, I have a steak on the grill and mushrooms sauteeing. It reminds me of my time out in Marana. Some Fridays, I'd come home after a long drive from the University and a long week of work and grill a steak and drink a beer as the sun went down. Those are good memories.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

History, peace, and acceptance

Alexander, in the middle, with friends and teammates Mitchell and John
Wow, they've made some changes to Blogger since I last posted. Sometimes I wonder why I have this blog, and maybe I've said before, that it's kind of an online journal for me since I haven't been journaling otherwise and scrapbooking has fallen to the wayside. It is extremely important to me that I archive as much as I can for Alexander and future generations. My family is shrinking. There is still a lot of history I can get from my mom (thank God her memory is still sharp, though her views tend to be quite negative when it comes to my family of origin). My brother and I, after some disagreements, have decided to keep our relationship as superficial as possible. Not my choice, and I'm hoping he'll change over time. His wife and I don't talk anymore, over a comment I made that was - in my opinion - misconstrued and blown way out of proportion. Alexander hasn't seen his cousins in several years, and they've never made a trip up here to visit us. My brother admits to always being "out of the loop" so it's difficult to get updates or photos of his kids from him and he doesn't seem to mind or want to change it.
So I try to follow the wisdom of this well-known prayer:

God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
                                Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Birds and brats

This has been a crazy winter for weather, hasn't it? Not just us here in the Twin Cities area but all around the world. Snow in Rome for the first time in decades?? Yesterday morning, when I got up around 9:30, it was already 65 degrees. It hit 80 yesterday and should again today. Scary warm for March. I should be happy, right? I hate winter here. But this is just so darn unusual. It's great to see the blue jays return - they seem to remember that we'd throw them peanuts every time they'd squawk last summer, so they've been showing off in our front yard already. The geese and ducks have been flying in, grass is turning green, and the bulbs are sending up foliage. Does this mean we're in for a long, hot, extra-humid summer? I guess we'll find out...
As I write this, Alexander has a few friends over, one of whom I dislike. Never having done this before, I want to ban him from ever seeing this kid again (mostly kidding) but I hear that's not the best way to deal with this situation. They're already good bus buddies, and the kid (who is only 8--a year younger) is filling A in on all kinds of topics including french kissing, I've learned. Oy. Then the little turd had the stones/bad judgment to lie to A's father yesterday.  I wonder if there's an Idiot's Guide to Keeping your Child out of Juvie.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Whitey's gone



Whitey was one of our albino squirrel friends. I'd been feeding him for at least two years now, he'd come by nearly every day, and I'd gotten kind of attached, darnit! He'd take peanuts from our hands,

He knew his name and had his own, tough-guy personality. Earlier this winter, he was hit by a car in front of our next-door neighbor's house. I was sure it was him because all of a sudden he stopped showing up. I asked Dana to pick him up and he buried the little guy in our backyard by the iris bed. He used to hang out with another white squirrel, who was not nearly so tame, and we've seen this other squirrel a few times since then but not recently. I miss you, ya little rat.

Friday, February 10, 2012


Ugh. I've been dreading this birthday for a while now. The actual day wasn't so bad. My boys presented me with funny and appropriate cards in the morning and a Wii Fit Plus (a request, not a hint) in the evening. Several of the ladies at work gave me cards (one says "50 is nifty". Really? We'll see.) and my table was strewn with rolls of Smarties candies. 50, to be exact. There a beautiful cupcake decorated with a red flower that was almost too pretty to eat. Later, happy hour at a favorite place. Phone calls from my uncle and mom. Facebook greetings from friends. Overall, it was a nice b-day.
Maybe now I can get past the number and just focus on my life...what little of it there is left. Ha ha. Debbie Downer, at your service.
A few weeks ago, I chose my new motto: What are you waiting for? Let's see if I can put it into action. Wish me luck!