Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year

May 2009 be Most excellent for us all.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Testing, testing

I'm figuring out how to use the video portion of my camera. Wish me luck!

Yikes, I've gotten old and jowly. Ah well, my time machine is broken, the face I have is the face which will have to do.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Come On, New Year!

I need a new year. A do-over. I thought I was doing alright about my brother, but I can tell I'm down and in denial. Quite okay, that's the way it works, some days will always be better than others. So unfair to lose him at such a young age ... 58 is nowhere old enough. I miss him. I went through my jewelry to sort it out, and there were all the wonderful things he'd made for me over the years. What upset me was the bag of loose stones, and now there is no one to make beautiful pieces. Crap. That's not the point, the point is I'll never pick up the phone and hear, "Hi, it's your Rotten Brother." He won't drop by to chat. We'll never hit the thrift stores or rock shop again. Crap. I miss him a lot today.

On Friday, Larry headed down to West Valley to pick up his semi to deliver Coors to Spokane. We were worried about the route, there's been several interstate closures with this past storm. He was driving Boo, our little blue Scion, and was scarcely at the foot of 89, near Uintah, when Crunch! A pick up had turned north out of Uintah where there is no light, and cut off a car. That car spun out and smashed into Larry. He'd come to very nearly a full stop, but couldn't get out of the way. So little Boo is in the shop and we're waiting to hear from the adjuster. Larry did go have his wrist checked out because it hurt so much, but he's fine, just rattled and bruised. Early Saturday, when I was sound asleep, he left in the TrailBlazer. He spent the night in Missoula, and should make Spokane tonight. If the pass isn't closed, who knows?

I'm still sending out Christmas cards. I knew I didn't have them all out, I was waiting for snail mail addys in a couple cases, and got a couple cards unexpectedly. Yeah, I'm down, and I forgot to get them all done. Only heard from one of our old Navy buddies, and only one card from a great-aunt. Nothing from the aunts, the cousins, on my side. Larry did get a card from a cousin, the one who organizes the family reunion and had all our addresses. Sue sent lovely gifts, although smaller ones than normal; she may lose her house this year. The Breedens did send a little card, take notes people, that's my EX-husband's family. I got the most cards from burner, online and skiffy friends. I know stamps and cards cost money, and I don't expect cards from people we talk to on the phone often, or those who are in touch with me online, but as for the rest of my family ... come on, once a year wouldn't kill you! Bah, humbug!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Holly Daze

On the 20th, I am having a Solstice party. This was planned weeks before my brother died. I don't want to take it back, I want to go on, I just am not feeling it.

I got all the bows and beads and poinsettias up in the kitchen. I got the holly garlands up downstairs, but they are breaking. The plastic must be brittle. All the lights are in the windows and I have hung my stockings and put up the garlands in teh front room. Did a lot of good cleaning, but I had to climb on and off chairs to reach the high places. My foot hurt like hell.

I'd been to the doctor, the x-rays show nothing wrong, there is no swelling or bruising. I did not see my regular PCM, this was a civilian filling in. Oh, I could take celebrex ... wait a minute, I already am. Stay off the foot and wear stiff-soled shoes. If it still hurts in a few weeks, I might be able to see a foot doctor. Right. In the meantime, I am in a great deal of pain if I try to get anything accomplished.

The kitchen table is cleared off and decked out with my beautiful linens, I brought up Mom's roombox and filled it with Christmas miniatures. Larry's medieval silver pieces are in my curio cabinet now. I got the tree up, and the red wooden beads and the silver beads and the topper and skirts on it. I have the ornaments out, but I don't feel like unwrapping each one. Why bother? It won't make me happy. But I know better, and I will get it done. What was a joy feels like a chore.

I have to get the living room downstairs clean and clear, bake cookies and breads and cakes and pies, get art supplies for the suns, tidy the guest room, vacuum, haul out all my serving dishes. Seeing all my friends will bring me a lot of tears and smiles.

The cards are sitting, waiting for me to lift a pen. I do not want to do them. Maybe I can wait?

I will get back to normal, I do bounce back. I just hate the sad times in between.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Great Christmas Road Trip 1980

I had spent my first Christmas in the Navy in bootcamp. We did get to open cards and the chow hall served a nice feast. Pretty boring day. However, my next Christmas was in Great Lakes while I was still in A school. I was a petty officer third class by then; this is when the ET schools awarded the crow at ten weeks. I decide to fly home for Christmas. I knew my parents weren't there, Dad was still working in Saudi and Mom was with him. The only person I had who I could stay with comfortably was my brother Larry. As children we never got along. He was seven years older, I was the only baby girl and spoiled. As I grew up and he mellowed out, we became fast friends. Enough so some people thought I was his girlfriend we hung out together so much! (euw)

He had a little apartment and a wandering ferret who nibbled toes. He wasn't working a full time job, there was no tree, and I wasn't up to visiting the aunts and cousins. So Larry and I decided to hit the road into Southern Utah where the weather was warmer. Maybe visit Four Corners because we'd never been to the place where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona meet. We hopped into his bright orange Chevy Nova and off we went.

Driving into Southern Utah isn't difficult, we had no map, but there were plenty of signs. We stopped for lunch in Capitol Reef N.P.; I'd made an "Engine Stew" by wrapping meat and veggies in foil and placing it on the manifold. Yummy! And the scenery was amazing, of course. As we drove south, there was holiday traffic on the road, but it steadily decreased. Late in the afternoon and low on gas, we realized we should have headed for Blanding after we left Hanksville. Oops. We were headed for Bullfrog Basin on Lake Powell on Christmas Eve. There wouldn't be a soul there! We'd be stranded for days!

What to do? We saw a sign which read: Escalante. 75 miles. Dirt road, drive at your own risk. I now know this is the unpaved Burr Trail. It didn't look too bad, very well-graded. So we risked it. Soon we reached a low flat river, the Western kind that's shallow. I waded through the ford and he followed in the car. So far so good! Then we reached a hill. The red dirt was shadowed, the sun was dipping. No choice but to drive up the switchbacks. I was a little dismayed when I saw the empty red car stuck in the bank over a deep drop. Yikes!

We reached the top of the plateau. The sun was setting and the needle on the tank touched "E" for the first time. We kept driving, five to ten miles per hour. The sun set and we got our first taste of back country dark. That's really, really dark, but there's so many stars! The trail led into a canyon. Here the soil and rock was not red, it was ghostly white. Shadowy trees and thick bushes lined the road. Both of us got the chills and creeps at the same time and swore that if the car ran out of gas, we'd not set a foot out of it in the dark. Spooky doesn't begin to describe our sense of impending doom. We kept driving.

Pavement! We were overjoyed! We limped into the sleeping town of Boulder and parked under a large tree in front of a small gas station. In the night, the owner came out to fill her sons' trucks. She sold us gas and gave us a map. Hmm, Escalante was still a good long ways away; that "75 miles" meant the length of the Burr Trail, not the distance to a town! Larry decided to keep driving to Kodachrome Basin.

There was an old-fashioned radio show on, the Twilight Zone I think. The story was about a man and a woman driving in the night on Christmas Eve, and the road was empty, they were lost without gas, the road bordered by fallen logs. We were spooked now! Turns out they were toys in a toy cars and the logs were pine needles from the Christmas tree. Whew, we whistled the theme song for miles afterward.

Leaving the pavement once more, we bumped over the ruts of the unpaved road into an unknown state park, the low slung Chevy moaning and groaning at us. We found a clear spot and parked, falling asleep soundly, one of us up front and one in the back.

Christmas morning in Kodachrome was spectacular, it was more undeveloped than it is now. We were parked under an enormous stone pillar washed with sunlight, showing all the glorious colors of Red Rock Country... reds, pinks, salmon, white and cream and beige and rose ... just beautiful. I was cold and cramped from sleeping the car, hungry because all we had to eat was chips, but it was a wonderful Christmas morning. Even driving down to the Grand Canyon didn't compare to that morning, nor stopping in Vegas because I had gotten violently ill from food poisoning and Larry took $20 and turned it into $700 at the craps table ... no, that morning in Kodachrome Basin with my brother was a Most Excellent Christmas gift.

Thank you, Larry.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

...just like that.

My brother is gone. Cardiac arrest just after midnight. As we know, he'd had cancer, and that terribly risky stem cell transplant. Well, in the last week he had caught a cold. Apparently he couldn't kick it and was failing. The SIL called, he was in the ER and they were trying to stabilize him to get him flown down to LDS ICU where they can do the specialized isolation care. He got there but they couldn't keep him going.

We've contacted the Red Cross to get Jeremy home.

I have a lot of issues right now. A lot.

Life is too short, far too short and often unfair. Grab that rascal and wring every drip drop possible from the wretched thing.

The last gift I gave him was a Star Trek Communicator ornament. Lights and sound, he loved it. When I went to sleep, I knew he had been in the ER and was headed for ICU. What did I dream of? Receiving a garbled message through my matching communicator. I could hear the voice and strained to catch the words but they were too faint and fading. I will need to sleep, and to dream, to find his farewell once more.

See ya later, Rotten Brother.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thankful ... that I live in Utah.

I have returned from the wilds of Wonderful West Virginia. I love my hubby's family, I really do. I just don't love spending time with them all that much.

We flew into Pittsburgh. Larry prepaid for a full tank of gas because we thought we were going to drive down to his mom's house and/or to the farms. This was not to be. We spent the first night in Morgantown with his sister, which was cool as we got to chat while she cooked. Broccoli casserole and sweet potato casserole with pecan topping, and raw cookie dough for the girls the make cookies. She's a real sweetie! Her king-sized bed was comfortably spacious, but far too firm. I could feel the S curves of the springs, ouch.

Turkey Day and we're off to Independence, WV. His other sister has a nice house on 15 acres in the woods. Deer and squirrels and all that very nifty country living. His sister from Ohio was there with her family, and his mom and dad came to stay the weekend also. We got the bed in the loft. I forgot my feather snuffles and had to ask for different pillows, but we did have the honor of the best bed in the house. No privacy in a loft, but you can't have everything.

Ah, dinner. The turkey was perfect, the stuffing was good, different from what I am used to, but very good. There were rolls and veggies to munch, and a spectacular artichoke dip. Of course, I couldn't have more than a bite of mashed potatoes or cranberry sauce, what with all my stupid food sensitivities.

And then there was dessert. No pie. No pie, you say? Nope, no pie of any kind. There was green marshmallow fluff, and banana cake with cream cheese icing, and pumpkin cake squares with Oil-Whip, and sugar cookies and thumbprint cookies and marshmallows covered in chocolate with sprinkles and candy and some s'mores bars made from graham crunch cereal which I really truly enjoyed, but not one slice of pie. Pie is too sweet and fattening. I think there were apple pie intentions, but there was so much food that pie never happened.

I think you come to love your family traditions, and when it isn't your family, those traditions don't fill the emotional gap. Just as every family is weird in their own way, and you get used to your own family weirdness, and find it uncomfortable to endure other families' weirdnessess.

Tomorrow: family weirdness.