Saturday Night at the Races!

Saturday night at the races. Yep, that’s what I did. I spent Saturday at the Spokane Racetrack and watched several drag races with lots of Mopars, funny cars, nitro cars, alcohol cars, and one jet car.

It’s totally exciting and heart thrumming. You can feel the engines all the way through the cement bleachers to the top row, which is where I sat from noon to midnight. Twelve hours of muscle cars! Hours of hearing-loss thundering engines, burning rubber, pungent smells of gas, nitro, fuel – smoke filling the air. What a day!

And you ain’t seen nothing until you see a jet car. It’s almost frightening in a kid-in-a-cemetery-on-Halloween-night kind of way. You can’t get enough and you want to hide and you want to get really close and you want to duck, all at the same time. It sounds like a jet is standing right in front of you, powering up. The whine is powerful and mesmerizing. And once it has your attention fully focused on it, it BANGS with flames spewing out. Even the ambulance that is waiting by, backs up 100 feet away from the jet car. It bangs and pops and whines and slowly inches to the lights and then, WHAM, it screams off in front of you and goes 290 miles an hour, RIGHT.NOW. Amazing!!!! It’s a wonder it doesn’t fly.

I think I’m addicted. It’s the most awesome, exciting thing I’ve seen in forever. Can you imagine 290 miles an hour – and it was mere seconds to go a quarter of a mile.

Then we went back to piddly little race cars that went a pokey 100 miles an hour. Kid’s stuff.



Tea and Sympathy

I’ve had two occasions this week to partake in “high tea” at the same place. One was sweet and the other will be bittersweet.

I’m struggling here. I have had several ups and downs this week, more downs than ups.

I met with my Red Hat sisters at a high tea in Spokane at the “Taste and See Tea Room.” (See their website.)

(Cindy Hval writes about it here.)

Tonight, there will be 25 women, all co-workers, attending high tea to celebrate one of our own – who is losing her fight with colon cancer. She has been part of this place, a family away from home, for almost 29 years, starting when she was 29 years old. Half her life.

In the middle of all of this, I am facing more tests for a transplant and the likelihood that I will NOT be a candidate. What I am feeling and dealing with is so short of what my co-worker is going through, not even comparable. But I’m still feeling it.

I am experiencing an overwhelming sadness – for things lost, friends slipping away, time moving on and not, damn it, standing still.

Tonight we are gathering in all our finery, hats, jewels, gloves to honor and celebrate the life of our friend. We are helpless in what to say and can only say – we love you. I love you.


To School We Go, Giggidty Gig

I just passed a co-worker who is leaving early to plan for Back to School Shopping for the Kids.

I remember those days. For my parents, it had to be pretty bad – four kids, 6, 8, 10, and 12 – shopping for clothes. I could almost hear my Dad’s wallet squeak painfully.

Then with my boys – we combined our visit to the grandparents on the coast with school clothes shopping. Partly because my Dad by this time had a fuller wallet and he would “help” me buy clothes and shoes.

For many years, the boys were the same size and it made it pretty easy to shop. I had convinced them by the time they were in 1st and 2nd grade that everyone, all siblings, all over the world, wore each other’s clothes. There were no personal, this-is-mine clothes, except for shoes. Everything got washed together. Everything got folded together. Everything got worn together. I suppose that is why, when one day we were frantically tearing their bedroom apart looking for matching socks, that they finally gave up and wore mismatching socks. Both boys were wearing one brown sock and one green sock.

And boys are SOOO much easier than girls. I had only one incident (at Walmart) that both boys were stubbornly adamant that they would NOT be caught dead in jeans with yellow thread (I think they were Wranglers). It was “lame” and they weren’t going to do it. They’d go to school naked if I bought jeans with yellow thread.

So – here’s my sympathy to all you parents going shopping this weekend for school clothes.

But – look at it this way – it also means that you are going to be FREE during the day for the next nine months. Hallelujah!



Mooseknuckle and Huckleberries

I spent summers on the Oregon coast when I was little. Such memories!

My grandparents started building their home on the beach in 1955. Several great aunts and great uncles lived on the tiny lumber road that twisted and turned up a very steep hill to the top of our very own “personal mountain.” On top sat a little two story cabin, one room on the main floor for a kitchen table and a huge monstrous wood burning stove, one long room upstairs with several beds – enough to sleep my family of six and my mother’s brother’s family of four, AND our grandparents.

The cabin was called Mooseknuckle. So was the Mountain. We have no idea where this name came from, other than my grandfather (Gramps) was a teller of tall tales and his imagination knew no bounds. He would tell us stories that would make our eyes bulge out and we would go to bed totally unable to sleep with all the excited thoughts running around in our heads.

Once upon a time, there was a logger on the Mountain and there was Indian Joe. Indian Joe was like Goliath in the Bible and the logger was like David. Indian Joe was a bully and mean and ugly and terrorized the poor wee logger. But one day the logger grabbed Indian Joe by his little finger and hauled him over his shoulder and off he flew, off the Mountain, while the logger yelled, MOOSEKNUCKLE!, something he yelled whenever he felled a tree. It worked for the trees, so it must work for Indian Joe.

My grandmother was equally adventurous and we would walk everywhere – up the Mountain; up the highway to an old fashioned hamburger joint that served the absolutely best hamburgers I have ever tasted in my whole life; across the fields to the ocean, telling us to watch out for “cow pies;” up the wider logging road south of the cabin, where we picked gobs of wild strawberries or huckleberries and feasted on short cake for dinner. Wherever we went, we would sign a song she taught us in one lazy afternoon.

Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey
A kiddley divey too, wouldn't you?
Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey
A kiddley divey too, wouldn't you?

I sang this song exactly as she taught us and it was years before I realized I wasn’t singing la-de-da gibberish. It was actually real words. (Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy, a kid will eat ivy too, wouldn’t you?)

Such sweet memories of grandparents as they should be.


Quail run

We have one of the last barns standing in the Spokane Valley (just west of Millwood) and a field that lays beside it, which is mowed about once a month just to keep it from getting wild looking. But a little wild is a good thing. There is a family of quail that live in the field, by one of the trees that Mechanic Man has to mow around. He’s very careful in his efforts because the Quail Family will roust itself up and away from the tree and scatter to another corner of the field, while he passes by, Mama, Papa, and several babies. When he would get far enough away from the home ground, the Quails would lift their heads up, and scurry across the grass back to their “home.” This would go on every time he circled – getting further away from them to the point they figured he was finally over his rampaging of their homeland.

That was in the spring time. Mr. and Mrs. Quail raised their little ones, sent them off into the world, and this weekend we chanced upon them crossing our road and scurrying past our car and into the field and to the same home tree. This time with half a dozen NEW little ones, all little puff balls, flitting to and from among the blades of grass. So they have had two sets of families this summer, which means our little space for them is quite perfect.


Over Thinking

Don’t you just feel like Winnie the Pooh sometimes? I go around mumbling to myself, “Think. Think. Think.” And then I realize that I’m thinking too much and overanalyzing something that should be very simple.

Like some recipes. I was making my first batch of cinnamon rolls from scratch. Everything went perfectly until the recipe said “place cut side down.” I had my dough rolled up and I had sliced the roll into one-inch pieces and all the pieces were standing up side by side waiting for further instructions. And now it said “place cut side down.” And I thought and thought and thought. I pondered the book from a distance, hands on hips, wondering why they would put this particular instruction in and that I must be missing something. Something really important. I decided that the book was trying to talk to some moron idiot simple-minded twit that didn’t know a cut side down from a cut side up. I’m looking at the roll of pinwheels thinking (because of that silly instruction, that was put in there for SOME good reason, surely) that there must be a “right side” and a “left side” and they want one of those sides down. But which one? It was way too much thinking. The idiot is the person who puts the pinwheel standing up in the pan, hoping that by some miracle it will flip itself on the flat side (either side will do) of the pinwheel. Good grief!!!! In fact, the idiot was the author. How ELSE would you put a cinnamon roll in the pan??? I ask you?

Or those tags on pillows and mattresses that say something like “under penalty of law do not remove this label.” I used to ponder that one too when I was little and sent to my room for my naps because I was tired. This commandment was said by my mother who promptly fell asleep on the couch totally exhausted after I don’t know what while I was still burning with energy after beating pans all morning long, and then finding Mom’s matches and lighting them one by one and dropping them in the dog food to see if the dog food would catch fire. How tiring is THAT? So I’d go to my room and contemplate the tags on my pillow and then after further scrutiny and research would find the same tag on my mattress and I had to really work to rip that tag off to see what a penalty of law was.

I’m still waiting.

And then there’s the form from the State whose first question was: Can you read this? (with a Yes or No box)

How do you answer that?



The Piano and the Exes

My parents gave me a piano when I was 11 years old. Yeah. Wow. I mean, it was a HUGE deal to me. And kind of a heavy burden to bear. It meant I felt like I should practice way more and really study at my lessons in order to “earn” the right to have a whole piano to myself. Oh, I shared it with my brothers and sister – and lessons were paid for all around, but I was the only one who continued with it.

So, when I was divorced, my parents helped me move and in one of the truck loads to my new apartment was “the piano.”

I loved that piano. I would play on it for hours. When I was growing up, I would play on it for an hour before school, again after school for several hours. I played and played and played. Actually the reason I did this was, one, well, I enjoyed it, but two, after a meltdown in college where I majored in music, I had to perform in front of a panel of four judges and I suddenly could NOT remember a note of music and had to slither back out to the hallway and gather up all my music books and bring them back to the studio piano and play by reading the music instead of by memory. Ever since, I have not been able to memorize music and have to have it in front of me all the time. I would play a piece over and over, and eventually I would play by memory but only if I had the sheet music right in front of me – just in case.

I had several moments while being a single mother that I just did not have one dime to spare for food or for the light bill. I would scrounge in the cupboards until they were bare. And one day I spiraled down to desperation and I sold my piano for $400 to my piano tuner. $400.

I left the house the day they picked up the piano. I couldn’t bear to watch it leave. It was winter and snow was on the ground. I remember coming home and seeing the tracks of the people who slid it down the sidewalk to their moving van. I cried for a week.

Months went by, holidays went by, a couple boy friends went by, and then one day an ex-boyfriend called, knowing how I felt about my piano, and said he had a friend (the girlfriend before me) who needed to store her piano for a couple years until she got settled. If I could get another set of muscles and a truck, he would help me get the piano. And it just happened that my boys’ Dad was in town and he offered to help.

So, I’m driving my car behind the truck being driven by my ex-boyfriend, carrying his ex-girlfriend’s piano in the back, with my ex-husband bracing it along the way. There’s a moral here, I just can’t quite peg it.



Attitude Schmattitude

It really is all in the attitude. How you look at things reflects back to you and “becomes.” It’s like what The Secret tells you – that you attract what you think about.

See, I’ve been going through a whole lot of soul searching and introspection about my progressing illness with kidney disease.

Now – I am a strong believer in positive thinking and in the tenants of The Secret. But then I get all muddled up with 1) thinking positive thoughts and 2) being realistic about what is happening to me. So – if I think about my kidney disease and my failing kidneys and start visualizing me on dialysis and then go further into the type of dialysis (tube in stomach, solution feeds through at night for eight hours) or (surgically installed fistula (extra strong vein) in my arm and going to a center every other day for four hours a day), then according to The Secret I will fulfill my “wish” and be on one of those two types of dialysis.

If I DON’T think about that and visualize me staying fit and healthy just like I am now on less than 10% kidney function (which is hardly noticeable at all!), then am I sticking my head in the sand and not being realistic???

I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t. Oh, what to do, what to do, what to do.

I’ve got little tapes in my head of Dad’s experience on dialysis (horrible at best), Mom’s viewpoint of Dad’s dialysis (worse than horrible and probably why it WAS horrible), my sister’s experience of passing on dialysis and going directly into a living donor kidney (not great experience if you count the bi-monthly trips to the hospital because of this infection and that infection, losing her house because she couldn’t afford the anti-rejection drugs after the three-year Medicare period was done for), and then my brother’s experience of both dialysis and cadaver kidney transplant (both successful – the dialysis being an annoying inconvenience and dealing with impersonal stoic staff and the continuous, never-ending, always going on, needles.

I’ve been playing these tapes over and over repeatedly (too much) in the last six weeks. I have dreaded dialysis because of my Dad’s experience and I’ve worried about a kidney transplant because of my sister’s experience.

Then I spent the day with my brother on Sunday. What a difference a positive person makes!!

It’s in the attitude. Always. It goes back to that very simple concept – attitude. As my sister-in-law said, dialysis is just another little thing you do in your life, like getting up, brushing your teeth, eating breakfast, hooking up to dialysis, going to work, relaxing and watching TV. It just slips in there and becomes a routine deal. For sure, not a small deal but not a BIG deal either. And one day, you will get “the call” and a new kidney and it will be a perfect match because I’m way more like my brother than I am like my Dad or my sister. And I especially am not like my mother, who seemed to drill into all of us the doom and gloom and death-to-all attitude.

I can do this. I just have to burn those tapes.


Disgusting Bugs

I am just not a bug person. I know, I know – every living creature has their place and purpose. And spiders should be placed outside where they came from. But there are a couple bugs that defy all logic. What are they good for, anyway??? Tell me what good a mosquito is. Give me ten good reasons why I shouldn’t try to wipe them off the face of the earth.

And earwigs. Earwigs are the scourge of the earth. Did you know that they lay 100 eggs at a time? They take only two weeks to incubate and about a week to mature. I’m surprised they don’t cover the earth from end to end.

Who named them earwigs? It’s a horrible name. I spent many years as a child, terrified that they would find my ears and crawl inside and hibernate and lay eggs (100) and then frolic and cavort inside my brain until I was totally insane. The bug version of mad cow.

I have a covey of earwigs in my lettuce. Not just a covey – a planet, a solar system, a whole universe of earwigs hiding in the dark places of lettuce leaves. I told MechanicMan that I will Not Ever Bring THAT Lettuce Inside The House. Ever. He finally pulled them up and threw them away. And then later told me he spent about an hour killing earwigs that followed him into the house. Rampaging earwigs out for revenge for the screaming deaths of their children, cousins, aunts, uncles, great grandparents. Later I was getting something out of the fridge and there on the front panel of the fridge was an earwig. Totally absolutely grossed me out and I called to MechanicMan to rescue me. We both got back to the fridge and the villainous earwig had vanished. Where did it go???

So, tell me – in the Biblical sense – is there any thing good about mosquitoes and earwigs? Do they make a beneficial difference by their existence. I think not.

Worms are good for bait. Lady bugs are pretty little creatures that clean the earth of aphids. Who cleans the world of mosquitoes and earwigs?

You should be very pleased (and relieved) that I didn't put up the picture I found of an earwig - actually two earwigs, one female and the other male. Be glad. Be very glad.

Well, there’s my thought for this Wednesday. I’ll ponder it awhile.