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"Mom Update" or "Thoughtlets on Parents"

My mom had hernia surgery today. Honestly, after her back surgery 20 years ago everything should feel like a piece of cake.

Her back surgery was one of those pivotal family events for me. Mark was gone on his mission, Brent and Lawrence were sill fairly young, Suzanne had just started college and I was in between my junior and my senior year and it fell to me to be the primary "answerer to mom's bell." We call that period of time "Summer from Hell."

They opened my mom up from the nape of her neck all the way down and straightened out her spine, stopping to SAW where some vertebrae had gotten fused and stuck her full of stainless steel to make sure her back wouldn't collapse. For the first few months she couldn't lift 5 pounds. That's *nothing.* Many months elapsed before she even *thought* about attempting the stairs.

So, surgery on her knees? Pbhttt....child's play. A hip? Isn't that supposed to be easier than a knee? So something as minor as a hernia surgery...well, that's nothing to worry about, right?

Except I worry every time either of my parents has to spend any time in the hospital. It's rough seeing your folks age.

I was relieved when I realized I had missed a call on my phone. "Hello Jeanette...this is your dad...your mother just came out of surgery...everything is fine. Just thought you'd want to know."

I do. Thanks dad.

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Hey, so who wants a dad update! "I do, I do!" I hear you all cry. The surgery went well. He spent the next few days in the hospital and today was transferred to a care facility...the same one his mother was in. I guess if it was good enough for Grandma Atwood, it would be good enough for him too.

His recovery, (such as it is, 4 days in) is going pretty well. Mom said he had enough strength to scootch himself from the bed to the wheelchair which is pretty good. She is going to be making him some new night shirts and will be taking his existing ones to him tomorrow.

I asked her if she would be bringing him a quilt and she said the place really wasn't that cold. That's not the point. The POINT is to have something from home to cuddle up with so you don't feel quite so alone. Even in San Francisco I have a few "mom quilts." Of course, I also have my maple leaf quilt...BJ's quilt (he needs to come and get it back!) and other assorted quilts and blankets all over the house. Few things are as homey to me as a homemade quilt. I actually need to make some new ones. My "Americana" one is 10 years old and is starting to show some wear.

Speaking of heartwarming things, mom told me today the police got a hold of her. She was afraid dad was going to be issued a ticket...maybe he needed a building permit...or be issued a ticket for stupidity...(at this point the officer told her they'd be RICH if they could issue tickets for THAT.)

The people involved in my dad's rescue want to come back and finish the insulation job for him. The lead guy told my mom that my dad reminded him of his...a strong independent guy, that even though he was the "rescuee"...and was totally in pain, HE was the guy in charge. He thought, "That's like MY dad lying there!"

I guess there are 13 guys...not sure if they are all police and emts and whatnot....but apparently they all want to come back and take care of the job for my dad. I guess quite a few of them have construction experience.

Mom told me she is going to run it by my dad tomorrow. Me, I suspect Dad would be willing to have them do it when he is home and can supervise. I'm all for letting them. Every time he has tried to do it himself, he keeps getting hurt. Lisa pointed out to me that not only is he getting hurt, they are moving progressively up his body. First his foot...then his lower leg. What's next? His hip and back? PASS.

The neighbors have also told mom that if she needs anything to let them know.

Needless to say, my mind, she is much more at ease.

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2009 dead, long live 2010!

Some quick bullets

Dec 22-25

1. Spent Christmas with Lisa's family. Our present was digging out her brother's room for her parents. He will be moving back home with his parents at the end of January and the task looked so overwhelming that Lisa and I offered to make it livable. It was grueling. Going through your own stuff is hard enough, but an entire room stuffed with Other People's Things is really tough, both physically and psychologically. I told Lisa that I was her "dumb muscle." I could carry and lift and clean and stack...but I didn't know what was sentimental and what was crap.
I'm glad we did that leg of the trip first...because we got it over with and could enjoy the rest.

Dec 26

2. Spent a day with my cousin and her family in Chino. SO great to hang out with Debie and her kids and see my cousin Dean and Marilee as well. It's funny...growing up they were the "scary and mean cousins." Time really mellows people (and perceptions) out.

Dec 27

3. Driving to Utah was tough. In past years we have a pit stop in St. George and stay with my high school friend Alison but as she was going to be out of town we decided we'd do the trip from So Cal to SLC in one go. Unfortunately I awoke ill at Debie's..which necessitated a few emergency pullovers. Did some things on the side of the road I hope to never repeat.

4. Arrived in SLC and spent a night at Combs' townhouse. Thank you Combs!

Dec 28

5. The next day went on to my parents where Mark had already arrived. Nice to see him. He's been growing his hair out and it's juuuust long enough to pull MOST of it back in a pony tail. Not sure how long he's wanting it to go.
Parent's anniversary. Happy Anniversary folks!
Suzanne came out for a little bit with her kids and her photographer friend to scout the place out and check the lighting levels for the photo shoot the next day.
Lisa wanted to sleep in the trailer. I was a little wary as it was 13-17 degrees F outside but Lisa pointed out that if it was really unbearable we could sneak back in and this way we could see just how well her insulating job was. I was pleasantly surprised. When we first got in the memory foam was as hard as a rock...seriously, you could rap your knuckles on it but it quickly warmed up (and we started sinking down.) The coldest part of my body was my poor nose.

Dec 29

Awoke to snow! Big storm moving through all day. Heh. And we were going to take photos outside.
Mom and Lisa got haircuts. Lisa went SHORT. Very cute. Lisa and I did some quick erranding. Picked up Annette's present and a gift card from Home Depot for my parents.
Lawrence and Annette made it out, hooray!
Several texts from Suzanne saying she was running late because the snow really WAS horrible.
Brent showed up which was a relief.
Finally all 5 Atwood siblings under the same roof. It's a rare occurrence...more than a blue moon.

Atwood kids and spouses went outside and despite the snow, wasn't too bad. We did shots of the kids and the spouses, some shots of the kids, shots of the boys, shots of the girls, Lisa and I and Lawrence and Annette. Can't wait to see them, the photographer is unbelivably good at his job.

Inside the house did a shot of everybody with the parents and then some shots of just my dad and mom. Very cute.

Brent took off...had some tattooing to do. Had a family dinner...very fun. We busted out the "A" glasses which get used approximately once a year.
It seems as quickly as the house filled up, the house emptied out. Suzanne took off with her kids and things got much, much more quiet
That night played a lot of chickenfoot and a round of "Bang," one of Lawrence's favorite games.


Dec 30

More snow. Dad took Mark to the airport.
The rest of us stayed in, it was awful out. A lot of chickenfoot, bang, eating, surfing on the internet, talking, me working on my 101 goals...it was a good day to snug in.
I wasn't feeling well that night so I slept on the couch in front of the pellet stove. Lisa slept on the chair. It turned out to be a good decision as I had to get up 3 or 4 times in the night and sit wearily upon the toilet as my innards churned.


Dec 31

Went and did much erranding with Lawrence and Annette and Lisa. Kohls's for Annette where she got some new pairs of jeans. Saw the Mortons (always nice to see Luann and Val,) went to Costco (yay! They had the peppedew/jalapeno Fancy Yancy cheese!) eat lunch at Chipolte (Lisa and I split a veggie burrito) Lawrence got a haircut, we roamed in Barnes and Noble ( I started getting engrossed in Julie Andrew's autobiography of her early career.)

The initial plan was to head north, see Brent's tattoo shop and then go to Harbor Tool and Freight where Lisa and I needed some things but LMA and Annette decided they wanted to see their friends in So. Jordan instead. We drove down, dropped them off...ran our HT&F errands and then went to the Army Navy surplus (I bought a little ammo bag which will work wonders for a figure drawing kit.)

Back home we sat around playing chickenfoot and Bang. Yelled Happy New Years and went to bed. I thought a lot about the last 10 years.

Jan 1st

LMA and Annette went off to the airport. I got up around 8:30...was up for an hour and then went back to the trailer for a nap. Got up at noon (good nap!) and started packing.
We left the house around 3...stayed around long enough to give my dad a hug...went to Suzannes, said goodbye to her and the kids, picked up Lisa's present and then went off to Combs' place again.
Not much happening here...a lot of talking, surfing online, laughing, looking at Vibram's Five Fingers shoes (think I am going to be getting myself a pair.)
Now I need to go to bed because TOMORROW...we head back home across I-80. Helllooooo long haul through Nevada!

Happy New Year's y'all!

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Jul. 12th, 2009

It's been a really good trip so far.

Lisa had a church service Saturday morning but fortunately took pity on me and let me sleep in. Frankly I'm not sure how Lisa managed to be awake for it since we got in to her parents around 4 AM...making it the fourth or fifth night of extremely late nights.

I woke up a little later that morning and hung out with her parents for a bit until Lisa got back to pick me up. We went off to the Rickarosa Ranch...a beautiful ranch owned by one of her classmates in laws. There were a ton of people from her high school there and it was fun for the most part to meet some of these people I had heard about.
Lisa had a smaller class (than me!) and I guess that has made them a fairly tight little group. I eventually hung out with some kids, doing some drawings for them and looking at their work. One twelve year old had a whole sketchbook and I very seriously pored over it for him. I wrote down some books I thought would help him and jotted down my email address if he had any questions.

There was a formal that night in The Mitton Building. The building was really neat. It was made of red brick and had an open warehouse feel to it. They'd really done a nice job of decorating with subdued lighting and a black and white motiff. Black and white were Lisa's class colors...and while I have teased her a bit about it ("It's CLASSIC!" "Yes...from 1930!") it really did look nice.

They did a class photo...one of her classmates is a professional photographer and he was taking photos all through the night...walking around the crowds as well as up where he had a white sheet pulled down and a lighting set up for people who wanted to go and have their pictures taken.

I was afraid they were going to be these cheesy, horribly posed awkward dance photo things... but I looked over and saw him taking some pictures of a bunch of girls. They were standing in a line, posing them selves etc...and he dutifully took a few photos... but then as they were breaking up, they were standing there and laughing and he was cracking jokes etcs...and THEN he took a bunch of photos of them.
I could tell those candid shots were going to be SO much better photos than the posed ones. He did that all through the night. By the end of the evening I was in a silly mood (and I admit, amid the rotation of cheesy 80s music Aha's "Take on Me" coming on had something to do with it) so Lisa and I went up to have our photos taken. It will be interesting to see how the photos come out.

We got home a little after midnight and I promptly went into the bedroom and fell into bed. THUNK.

___

Plans for the day: Getting ready to go to a brunch which will close up the reunion festivities, figure out how to unhook the trailer (more on THAT later) and mowing Lisa's folks lawn as a trade. I'd ALSO like to go for a good long jog tonight. I haven't been on a run for almost 2 weeks and I would hate for all my hard work in getting my stamina up simply slide away. BOO.
It wound up being around 5 PM when we *finally* pulled out. We had to make a quick stop and put air in the tires and then hit the road ... just in time for traffic. UGH.

It was an uneventful drive... a stop at Target for some Dr Pepper (WHEE!!!) and dinner at Quiznos but for the most part we just drove. We switched off every few hours and tried to catch quick naps while the other one was driving. Beowulf, as usual, traveled like a dream. He got a litle whiney at points but for the most part settled down and slept.

At one point in our trip I came up on a trailer pulling an antique car. Since it was dark I couldn't quite make it out. Eventually curiousity got the better of me and I pulled up along the side so Lisa and I could gawk. Looks like it was a 1936 Rolls. Absolutely gorgeous. I then pulled back behind him again and laughed. The driver knew *exactly* what we had just done. HEY LOOKIT THE CAR!!! Of course if you HAVE a car like that, that's exactly what you want people to do; LOOK!

We got to Lisa's parents around 4 AM. Lisa's mom came out to meet us, we hauled our stuff in and promptly collapsed into bed.

We woke up around 8 (WHYYYY?!?) Lisa had some high school reunion activies in the morning but she took pity on me and let me fall back asleep.

Like last year some unsuspecting neighbor is providing me free wireless so I can update my LJ and surf. Thanks whoever you are!
Hey, it's vacation time!

What does this mean? It means I find myself pensive and thoughtful and planning...which generally equates into more LJ entries. You lucky dogs.

We have been working like monsters. Lisa and I have been whaling away on the trailer (not all the way done but finally road worthy once again and BOY is the inside beautiful. Pictures pending. As said before Lisa was in charge of the inside...but I helped with the grunt work with a LOT of sanding (ugh), shellac-ing (not too bad) and painting. (WHEEE!!!)

The outside isn't done but we DID get the fenders completed. After weighing the costs vs the results we took them to a local guy who put a double powder coat on them for a smooth $200.00 bucks. Considering what I'd have had to spend on materials and my TIME in order to get them to look not NEARLY as good...that's $200 dollars well spent. Sometimes it pays to just hire a professional, y'know?

The rest of the exterior is still the dull grey of very, very old aluminium. We'll be taking care of THAT when we get back from our trip...another weighing the costs of what I'd need for supplies vs some folks who could do it *beautifully* for about what I'd spend on getting all the right stuff.

There's a company up in Petaluma that specializes in airplane polishing and detailing and after a few delightful phone conversations we'll be taking Rosie up there for a polish later.

___

But as for NOW...we're about to hit the road.

Off to So Cal where one weekend Lisa has a high school reunion, the next I have a movie premiere and the weekend of the 24th I have a cousin reunion. (Atwood grandkids rule!)

We're going to try to squeeze in a trip to the Grand Canyon in between weekends after after the last one we'll be swinging up to Utah where hopefully I can hang out with family and friends as well as helping my mom prep the house for her surgery.
(She's not having surgery at the HOUSE...we just need to do a lot of serious cleaning and de cluttering and organizing so it will be minimal maintance after.)
It feels a bit reminiscent of her back surgery, lo these many years past. We called it Summer From Hell. This should be much better for a wide variety of reasons...one being that I'm no longer 16.

__

So yes, I hope for much journaling and traveling and many photos and many meetings of friends as well as some good drawing!

Bon Voyage ME!
Currently sitting in the Oakland airport.

Lisa and I are flying to Seattle to visit Mark for his 40th birthday. (Happy birthday Mark!) I haven't been to Seattle for a number of years...pretty much since I moved away (which was dumb.)

Right now we're SUPPOSED to be approaching but we missed our flight. Lisa couldn't get away on time from school and all those little things that "don't take too much time" compounded. We missed the flight by the skin of our teeth, leaving me to seethe at the "Security Theater" which requires me to take off my SANDALS, pull out both my laptop AND my Cintiq which I had carefully packed, deal with a guy who insisted on scanning an empty water bottle...all of which just made me more irrate.

On the plus side, there's free internet access which, as I think about it, is the least they can do for people after rooting through their items and treating them like criminals. Yeah, yeah, yeah...I understand the need for SECURITY...but like nearly every government program I can think of...it's completely ineffecient and designed more for SHOW than efficacy.

As horrible as it was, the ploy used by the jihadists on Sepember 11th was a one trick wonder. No plane will EVER allow itself to be taken over by a bunch of thugs with box cutters. Anyone ever acting weird is going to be subdued by the entire frakking plane and duct taped to their seat.
___

So, we're off to Seattle like I said for Mark's 40th. I remember my dad's 40th birthday in North Carolina. We teased him for being "old." (I was 7, going on 8 that year.)
I'm also aware of the clock ticking for myself. All of kids are 2 years apart so we've been like a bunch of lemmings.
Mark gets baptized...bambambambambam we follow him. Mark starts Jr. High...bambambambambam. Mark starts high school...bambambambambam, Mark turns 20, 30...now 40. That means we're all next and it happens fast!

I have to pause and think when people ask me how old I am. How is it I have a sibling who is now 40?

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The Life Experience Test

Overall, you have partaken in 84 out of 174 possible life experiences.
Your average life experience score is therefore 48%.


The average score is 49%, making your experiences more than 42% of the people who have taken this test.
The average for your age group (26-35) is 52%.

Broken down by category:
Art: 8/17 (47%)

Career & Work: 9/13 (69%)

Civics & Technology: 4/7 (57%)

Crime & Disarray: 0/11 (0%)

Education: 10/18 (56%)

Fashion: 5/15 (33%)

Fitness, Health and Sports: 3/7 (43%)

Life in General: 8/14 (57%)

Relationships: 11/14 (79%)

Religion & Politics: 4/4 (100%)

Social: 12/22 (55%)

Travel: 7/20 (35%)

Vices: 3/12 (25%)

 
Take the test and see how YOU compare

"Happy Thanksgiving" or "Where I'm At"

In a nutshell"

1. Thanksgiving:
Happy Thanksgiving! I'm still in California for this one...being in the puppet show precludes travel though I would have dearly loved to have been back home in Utah spending it with my family in my sister's new home. I'm particularly sad that I won't be able to see Lawrence and Annette before they leave for Japan for the next stint in pheonix_jade's military career.

Lisa's parents are up here though and it's been pleasant spending time with them the last few days. They came to our opening performance of Cinderella at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel last night and it was nice knowing I knew some people in an audience full of big wigs and mucky mucks.

2. Katrina:
I don't think I've mentioned this...I'm horrified when I realize how long it's been since I've posted...Lisa and I are fostering a dog. Her name is Katrina (we didn't name her) and she looks to be a part lab part pit bull mix. She's small...just under 50 lbs now and is this beautiful amber color.
She had been surrendered/abandoned at the shelter along with a companion dog. For reasons unknown to me, the companion dog was put down and the month she spent in the shelter she was a MESS. Completely unresponsive, she just waited at the door waiting for her people to come back.
When we met her she wouldn't even acknowledge us...she just whined at the door waiting for the person in charge of the rescue to come back with the paperwork. We were seriously worried how we'd get along but she seems to transfer ownership pretty well. By the time we were home she'd relaxed a bit...24 hours later was happy going on walks and a week later she was learning new tricks.
She is still an extremely shy dog but she *has* relaxed around strangers as long as her people are around. She's going to make someone a terrific and extremely loyal dog.

3. Cinderella:

Yes, the puppet show I was involved with earlier this year is back this time slightly tweaked for the Christmas season. We have spent the last month or so training two new puppeteers and Lisa has been learning the lighting which I understand has a steep learning curve...it's a complicated show!
Last night was our first "real" performance though we did have another "out of town" show at the garage of an autobody shop. The owner was a friend of Theo's and she was gracious enough to let us use her space as we worked the show.
It's really interesting the dynamic two new people make...I really have enjoyed working with them and they really are bringing something great to their puppet performances.
We'll have a lot more shows after this...on the weekends and the week of Christmas there will be a show ever day and I'm really looking forward to it.

4. Beowulf:

Since I've mentioned the dog I should mention the cat. He's fine...he was initially very wary of Katrina. She was a little aggressive towards him but we quickly kiboshed that behavior and let her be very aware that he outranks her. He's gotten used to her though being the mellow boy that he is.

5. I'm just about to finish The Fountainhead and while the climax is supposed to be the trial of Howard Rourke...the part that has stuck with me and scared me silly was Toohey's speech/confession to Peter Keating as to just what his motives have been and how he has played people. More on that later. Today's Thanksgiving.

New Frakking Toasters!

New Frakking Toasters!

After a very long haitus (hey, just like the show) I'm pleased to announce there's a new Frakking Toasters. Want to know what else Apollo and Starbuck talk about after she returns in her Viper? Read on!

What do you think sirs?

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