Saturday, November 30, 2013

Asking Them to be Civil

Did I sleep through Black Friday? Oh, I wish. I'd like to say I only paid the dollar it cost to park at Marymoor so I could walk Teddy, but then I remembered that I'd bought some Black Friday specials at Nick's karate joint, a T-shirt, a uniform, nunchucks so that Nick, who is practicing double-nunchuks, can have a balanced pair.

It was during this transaction that I realized that the people who work there do not like me. I hate when that happens. Sometimes I wonder if they like Nick. Usually, he has a sensei who loves him, but lately, I don't see it. His current instructor is impatient with him. I tell you that if Nick didn't like it there, I wouldn't spend any more money at the place. This afternoon, I imagined calling them on it.

Have you ever done that? Wouldn't life be so much easier if we told people what we thought? I'm not talking about those internal comments to the poor woman at Costco who really shouldn't be wearing those shiny stretchy pants that are three sizes too small. I'm talking about the things that would help us waste so much less of our time and money in the long run.

"You really should treat your customers as though you like them."

"What? Who me? Sure, I like you," he would say as he stares at his computer.

"Look at people when you're completing a transaction with them. I see you flirting with the tiny blonde women who bring their toddlers into the dojo. You should give us old ugly women at least the respect we deserve because we've been bringing our money into your business for the past seven years."

That might make his stomach burn in embarrassment for twenty minutes or so, but he might make more of an effort after that. Really, that's all I'm asking, an effort at being civil.

"And stop that system that sends me four emails a day. I'm sick of it."

Hey, I should tell him my email changed. I could. That would be a nice solution to the problem of all those emails that I never read. Really, who wants to get four junk emails each day?

So, am I still thankful for the four days off from civilization? I would be if I hadn't had to go to Costco today and into the office of the ungrateful sensei yesterday. I think I'll be okay in a little while. I'm going to sit and stitch the binding on a quilt while dinner simmers. Maybe Nick and Mike will pick a decent movie for us to watch. Maybe my leg, where the enthusiastic boxer at the park banged into it two days ago, will stop aching once I prop it up. Maybe the world will shrink down to us three, comfortable in our company, happy to be at home together for another day. Maybe the tea will warm my fingers and I'll put my pajamas on early.  Sounds like something to be grateful for, doesn't it?

Thank you for listening, jb

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Tryptophan Gratitude

So, what am I thankful for?

I'm thankful for that big damn turkey that I had to get up at 6:00 am to get into the oven. It may not taste all that good today, but think about the sandwiches tomorrow! Oh, those things will be a thing of beauty. Well, okay, they'll be an ugly pile of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, yams, and gravy, but my stomach, though it has no eyes, will view it as a thing of beauty. An insulin nightmare too, but I'll just have to go into a coma for a while afterward.

I'm thankful that I still have Mike. Nuf said.

I'm thankful that Mike is dedicated enough to getting his daily walk in that he'll drag Nick off the video games for a while this afternoon and take the dog for a walk. It may not be a long walk, but it'll be a beautiful day for it. The sky is pink and blue, as if a baby is being born and no one knows if it's a boy or a girl. I hope to go too, but I'll be making pies, yams, and cheese sauce for the cauliflower in a little while. Doesn't that sound delicious?

You want to know what kind of pie? Apple and pumpkin. Why three people need two pies is beyond me, but we do. I'm sad that we aren't having lemon meringue, but Mike said he just doesn't want to goober the recipe to accommodate his low fat, low salt, and low cholesterol diet. You can translate that into low taste. At least my diet has flavor. I do miss bread, but the whole thing can have as much flavor as I want. My goal is to learn to cook all that low fat, low salt, and low cholesterol shit into something that Mike enjoys. It's a challenge. I tell you.

I'm thankful for four whole days with my family. Oh, I think Nick has been invited to a friend's house on Friday, but that's our usual mode of operation these days. His time with his friends is incredibly important to him right now.

I'm thankful for Nick's friends too. He's spreading the love, hanging with some different kids for a change. It seems to be helping. Where the old friends were giving him grief and excluding him from things, the new friends are happy to be invited over and throwing a wrench into the same old boring things that Nick thought to do with them. One of the kids, though he isn't a Boy Scout, is seriously interested in those type of things, carving wood, archery, exploring outside, learning knot skills. His mom said he's too busy to join, but Nick is happily showing him stuff he learned whenever he's over at the house. How great is that? Boy Scouts even helps kids who aren't scouts!

Okay, enough gratitude. Here's what pisses me off. Can you believe that all those Black Friday events are beginning on Thanksgiving day now? Imagine a big feast. Your dad and uncles are watching the game on the television. Tryptophan in the turkey is taking effect and Grandpa is dozing on the couch, snoring so loudly, your cousin takes a video of him with his iPhone. Your aunts, uncles, and parents are gabbing with Grandma and the other kids have taken over the den and are screaming and running around, nearly knocking over Grandma's knick knacks.  Pretty soon, people are going to start breaking out the turkey again for sandwiches. And they'll have another slice of pie on the side. It's a beautiful picture right?

Now shift that. It's late afternoon. Your two favorite aunts are putting on their coats. Uncles are reluctantly getting off the couch. The game's not quite over yet. The kids whine about being taken home before they're tired. They never get to see their cousins. Why? Because the aunts need to get to that sale before all the good stuff is out of stock. Worse yet are the people who just aren't there because they had to work.

What the hell is wrong with those corporations? Thanksgiving is a day for people to be with their families. People shouldn't have to skip the holiday so corporations can sell more stuff. Oh right. The corporations may have the rights of a person, but they aren't people. Corporations must make more money and they do it on the backs of those employees who need the jobs and are told they have to work an important holiday or lose their jobs.

Remember that, Aunt Doris, when you put on your coat to go get that 'great deal' late this afternoon.

Thanks for listening, jb

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


I don't know what I'm going to write today. I haven't done anything. The impressions of the day aren't there. Maybe I should tell you about going over the waterfall.

See, years ago, when Mike and I were still dating, the Explorer Post kids decided they wanted to go white water rafting. How cool is that?

Our first trip was down the Tygart river in West Virginia in duckies. They call these open inflatable kayaks 'duckies' because we looked like ducklings following after our river guides. I had never been in a kayak at that point, so they started us at an eddy and told us that the trip culminated in a 14 foot vertical drop which they would video for each of us. . To be honest, that's all I remember of the Tygart, that drop. There isn't a single image of that trip except for the water fall. In fact, I know there were between eight and ten kids on that trip, but I don't remember a single one of them. That way a memory focuses a spotlight on one vital event is a blessing and a curse. So, in my imagination, only Harold, Mike, and I are on this trip with the river guides, a man and a tiny woman with beautifully sculpted biceps. I imagined they were a couple, forging that same kind of bond that Mike and I were creating.

So in honor of that single memory, I'll skip right ahead to the eddy at the top of the falls. There's something you learn with a heightened sense of energy in river paddling. That is the horizon line. I feel it every time I cross the bridge over the Snoqualmie by the falls. The water is wide and flat. In fact, there's a single line between water and the distant valley. Sometimes you can see a cloud of the backsplash rising up beyond the line, but mostly you get to look across the valley as if you'd climbed to the top of some mountain. It's the same feeling you get when you stand for the first time on the high dive. Do you remember that? Can you feel the tiny wiggling sensation in your gut as you think of it?

The highest place I've ever jumped from was about twenty-eight feet, but I knew back then that if I weren't careful, if I managed to do a face plant, that I'd be toast. I was about eleven. By then, I'd jumped off the high dive, even over-rotated and landed hard on my shoulders. And that was only from ten feet up!

When I was a kid, we camped at a lake in Kentucky, Rough River reservoir. It was a place that is magnified with emotion in my memory. I could tell you one story after another of going to Rough River. The flashlight in the latrine was a good one. But I'll wait and tell you the rest of them another time.

Once, when we were exploring the lake, we found 'The Rock.' I call it 'The Rock' because that's always what we called it.

"Grandpa, we want to go out to The Rock," and he'd know exactly where we wanted to go.

The Rock was a red sandstone and iron ore cliff at the edge of the water on both sides of a cove. When I say iron ore, imagine what looked like rippled sheets and pipes sticking out of the sandstone at odd angles. I have a couple of pieces of that rock and it still amazes me. I carved my name into the sandstone one day, the only place in the world where my initials lie.

Besides that amazing ore, the beauty of The Rock was that there was a shallow place where the babies could play and at least four other levels where you could jump from different heights. The best was a long flat place with an old tree where someone had put a thick rope swing with knots in it. It was only slightly lower than the height of an average high dive, so it took a fair bit of courage to go off it for the first time, the perfect rite of passage. Around that corner was a deeper place in the cliff where you could camp overnight and never get wet if it rained. Oh, that is another story. It'll be a while before I tell you that story. Across the cove, there were higher levels that culminated in a twenty-eight foot drop, the ultimate rite of passage. I only jumped off that highest level a dozen times or so. I was nearly eleven and that was almost the last time I saw the place.

Let's just say that when I finally got the courage to jump off that highest level, it was a thing of beauty, at least in my head. My feet were together, toes flexed up as far as they could go, my body a straight line, and my arms out in the perfect iron cross. I was sure I'd jumped far enough out not to hit the protruding bit of the cliff and I wasn't going to cannonball. My brother had told me to make sure I didn't cannonball on a jump this high. A lot of us had stood at the top of that cliff for what seemed like days while the older, more courageous kids leaped off in perfect form.

When I hit the water, I felt multiple slaps, hard slaps. The water was hard! The bottoms of my feet and the undersides of my arms were red with the fury of it. Holy cow! It was like falling off your bike. The big kids laughed at my folly, but I managed to find the courage to jump again, this time with my arms stuck tight to my sides and my toes pointed. I was a bullet! After that, it was cake, though we never stayed at that cliff as long as the other. It took a lot of energy to have that much heart.

So, seventeen years later, when we stopped to scope out the waterfall on the Tygart river, I thought of that hard slap. Plus, the river guides said that the water falling would have enough power to keep you spinning in a hydraulic for a little while but not too long. They were so damn causal about this, the cool kids.

It was a narrow chute, just wide enough for the duckie. In fact, the river guides were going to stand on either side of the chute to help guide the duckie into the right falling position. After we looked at it, they told us that we should hit the edge paddling hard and fast, then throw our arms up over our heads, and lean back hard to rotate the kayak into landing position.

I'm feeling nervous just thinking about this. Can you imagine? It's done. It was twenty-five years ago and I have a flutter in my stomach.

Harold went first. He was certain he'd land right, in the boat and be able to paddle the kayak casually away the way any Explorer Post leader would.

He landed face first in the water.

This landing was impossible, I though to myself. No one but the most experience paddlers could stay in the boat.

It was my turn. I paddled as hard and as fast as I could. There was a half a second of breath before I went over the edge, the slowing of time I imagine of the moment before you die. I could see laurels blooming across a distant ridge, the expressions on the faces of people watching, the hardness of the tan stone to my right as I took my last stroke, a slight tipping forward, and a single strand of steam rising from the consumption of the last paddler.

I threw my arms up and leaned back as hard as I could. Gently, I found myself tipping forward and, slowly, it seemed, being dumped unceremoniously out of my raft. Then, I hit the water. I was in cannonball formation, fetal position, really. I'd like to think I held onto my paddle, but I don't remember. The boat bounced off my head, briefly wrapped around me, let me go and, though I wore a heavy rafting life jacket, the water swirled me around and around like a turd in a toilet bowl just before it flows down the pipe. Finally, I was pushed out of that pounding water and popped up about seven feet away from the falls.

Do you know that picture you have in your mind of swimming under a water fall, feeling the water on your head, pushing your bikini-clad chest out and looking glorious as the flow of it washes over your body? That's bullshit. I looked like a rat that had been washed out of a sewage drain. Hands grabbed my upper arms and dragged me to shore. I laid there for a few minutes. At least I didn't need to puke up a stomach full of river water.

I had managed to sit up and pull my bangs out of my eyes when Mike came over the lip of the falls. He hadn't said a thing about succeeding or failing. He had a determined look on his face as he took the last stroke with his paddle. His biceps bulged with the effort. Then, as he tipped over the edge, with both hands on his paddle, he made a perfect iron cross with it across his shoulders, thrust his torso backward, tipped the ducky into the perfect landing formation. It folded around him like petals of a flower, opened, and the water pounded his head for a second before he had the presence of mind to paddle away from under it.

Everyone cheered. He'd been the only one in our group to land that duckie. Harold was particularly quiet after that. I wanted to try it again, but the guides said we only got one shot and that was it. The flush.

I have video of that landing for each of us, Harold, me, and finally Mike who showed us all how it was supposed to have been done.

Shoot, maybe I preferred my experience of landing on my butt and being flushed like a turd instead of performing the perfect iron cross. Maybe not.

Thank you for listening, jb

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Life is Divine

That creative feeling flowed into Nick tonight, just before bedtime. When he was supposed to be flossing, he sat with a new notebook and drew pictures of armor, leather armor, that he wanted to make. "I can help you," I had said to him. Apparently, he didn't need me to show him how. He began to draft the pieces right there as I watched. Unfortunately, when he was supposed to be brushing his teeth, putting away his dirty clothes, and getting himself a glass of water, he was still drawing and trying to describe his creation.

I love that feeling almost as much as falling in love. Productivity. The muse. Inspiration. I'm not sure any of those words really work for me when trying to describe how I'm feeling a particular way. It's a way of looking at things. It's almost euphoric, as if art will appear if I can just carry the right feeling around with me for just a little longer, as if art will save my life. Life is better when I have this feeling, but it's bad for getting to meetings on time. And I can say that I seldom leave a meeting or even a lunch with that particular feeling. Once in a while, with a unique individual, I can. I just bought a book for a friend, not even a good friend, because she can do that for me, so I got her a copy of a book that does that for me too.

Books can, but often don't, leave me with that feeling that I'm trying to describe. I've been blessed with an abundance of books that push me into creativity. I've already told you twice that I loved reading 'The Elegance of the Hedgehog' by Muriel Barbery. Well, I started listening to another audio book and - Wow! - it's doing the same thing to me.

I picked up this book after it sat on my book pile for a whole month. I know because I had to renew it a couple of days ago. I thought it was probably a romance novel. 'The History of Love' by Nicole Krauss is no ordinary love story. Oh, it may be a love story in the end. I'm only finished with the first disk and it got stuck in my car player. I need to use my forceps to get it out in the morning. Dare I put the second disk in to risk the same thing happening all over again? I probably will. I want to know what the author is going to say next. But it's not an ordinary love story.

No. The beginning of this story is a captivating narrative of a very old man and the methods he uses to keep from disappearing before he dies. The phrasing is stunning and it's funny, though it has already gone into the experience of being a Jew in Europe just before WWII and the experiences of being a nude model for an art class. Already, it has thrown me into that euphoria of creativity that I crave like chocolate. No, I crave it more than chocolate or any food or drink I can think of. The closest food comes is the beauty of a plate of sushi when it's presented well, nourishment for the soul as well as the body.

In those moments during this book, I click off the player and sit in the relative silence while the offending sentence rolls around in my mind. Sometimes, I have to pull off the road and riff in my notebook on what that sentence does to me. I can't say I'd copy it, but instead, the words themselves are muse to more words, a story I need to tell. Art, intended or not, will do that to me too, throw me into a state of being that doesn't work in time the way it should. I often get caught up, wake to reality suddenly, and find that hours have passed and I've moved from the car into the house or along a long trail with the dog. Those long walks are delicious, one image, intended or not, blowing me to the next without my realizing that I've been floating.

Do you know what I mean here?

If you look for beauty, you will find it, even in the cracks of a city sidewalk, even in the wrinkles of a worn face, even in the colors you find on your plate. You can find them in words, in naked limbs of the trees, in music flowing, in the way the fog silhouettes some trees and hides others.

Ah, but Mike is home and the TV is on again. The TV, I tell you, seldom puts me into that place. 'American Splendor' was a good one. Can't think of any others. When it does, however, when a movie is beautiful, when food has the colors of fall, when music moves me, or a vision of a leaf on the asphalt takes hold of my throat, life is divine.

Thank you for listening, jb

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Caucus of Real People

If you were allowed to discuss one thing with the President of the United States, what would it be? How relevant would his work be to what you do every day? Would you even listen to him? Let's imagine he would have time to listen to you. Would you set the metaphorical fire to his feet, would you grovel and coo, or would you get down to business?

Would you clean your house before he came? Oh, that would be difficult wouldn't it? Secret service would have to inspect your basement. For me, mortifying. That would be impetus to clean that room that has become a storage area, wouldn't it?

This morning, I awoke to the thought that it would be good for the country to have a group of PTA moms in discussion with the President. I started to imagine the ordinary people I'd gather to advise him. I'd offer him a mocha and I'd have to make pie because I'm proud of my pie. And sure, I'd clean my house, but if I tried to do too much, it wouldn't be real and more than anything, I'd want something like this to ring true. Is it even possible for an average person to act normal around the President? I would have to try. Otherwise, it would be a waste of time.

Then, who else would I invite?

First, I'd invite my PTA friends and the people who volunteer at Nick's schools. Those ladies get things accomplished. If you exchanged them for the President's advisers for just one month, they'd clean house. Education would be their forte. They would push for more complete funding of our schools, better support for the teachers, for better curriculum, for an emphasis on technology, and for reinstatement of PE. That would be a good start. Plus, every meeting would have coffee, muffins, and fruit. I just know it would.

Then, imagine the Boy Scout troop in conversation with the President. Would the men allow the boys to lead that conversation? My Mike would try to do it that way. I know he would and our boys would rise to the occasion and give it a go. Talk about earning their Citizenship in the Nation badge. Can you imagine the parents trying to influence what their kids discussed and making sure they wore a clean shirt to meet the President? What would these boys change about the way our nation is run, given the chance? What is important to them? Oh, if I even guessed, it would have the ring of an old fart.

If I could, I'd put President Obama and the First Lady, Michelle, in a room with spiritual people from my church. There would be coffee. There would be casseroles. They could discuss the separation of church and state, tolerance, and the state of war. Actually, I think the President has already addressed the problems with the wars our country was engaged in. Still, there would be moral dilemmas such as the people at Guantanamo and our involvement in Syria. Yes, my church leaders would make a great panel to discussion those problems.

Oh, and my quilt group. Wouldn't that be a hoot? These women cross into all kinds of categories. One of our members is in the Philippines right now, aiding the people there. Federal Aid would be her area of expertise, and maybe foreign policy since she travels so often. Another woman works for the Department of Transportation and I'm sure she'd have something to say about the infrastructure. We have a teacher, a woman who retired from Navy intelligence, world travelers, and a proponent of natural mothering. That would involve conversations about women in the military, alternate measures of the healthcare system, and again, education. Do you see a trend in the needs of our country to educate its children? Yes, if I had to pick just one cross section of my friends to introduce to President Obama, to advise President Obama, it would be my quilt group. They are smart, well-traveled, varied in their experiences, outspoken, and range from conservative to liberal. And they're funny. Yes, that meeting would be a fascinating one.

I might have to include my friends in far places in these discussions. I know that my friends in New Jersey have different views about the effects of hurricane Sandy than I do. I know that my Midwestern friends have a different view on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. To be a truly representative cross-section of the country's people, I'd have to include them in this imaginary caucus too.

What I'd ask all of these people is this: What are your concerns for our country and how would you begin to solve these problems? It's an interesting thought, isn't it? Who would you pick from the people that you know?

I don't know why I've spent so much time thinking about this. I just imagine that the President, at this point, has been getting a stilted view of the people he serves. Can't you imagine how insular it could become after five years in the White House? Has he spoken to anybody in the past year that hasn't offered a thousand dollars a plate, hoped for a photo opportunity, or had a corporate agenda? Does he even know what the average family struggles with on a daily basis?

I would venture to guess that he doesn't. How could he?

Thank you for listening, jb

Friday, November 15, 2013


Why is it so hard to live through your kid's social life in seventh grade? It was easier, though it was the worst year of my life, being in seventh grade myself. Oh, that is another story, isn't it?

I hate the bullies. Tomorrow, I have to call one of the moms on my contact list and hell her that her boy needs to stop pushing Nick around. That I even have this woman's phone number means that the two kids were once friends. Isn't that sad?

I hate that Nick's best friend Adrian was invited over to his other best friend's house and all they told Nick was that he wasn't invited. Nick sat by himself at home that afternoon, dejected and trying to console himself by spending time between Mike and I on the couch. Tonight, Nick went over to that friend's house and lo, the bully was also invited. Then, according to Nick, "they ditched me, Mom. They're having a sleepover and they didn't bother to invite me." That was after the bully managed to shove Nick around a little more.

Nick has been taught not to use his karate because if he does it in school, he'll get sent to the principal. Well, crap. I'm about to tell him to shove the kid onto his butt the next time it happens. What is all that sparring for if not to deter the bullies? Isn't there something Nick is allowed to do when it happens? He has the training, but not the heart for it.

Still, tonight he said he had a good time at the school dance. And on the way home from karate yesterday, he said he had a pretty good life and felt lucky.  I love that about him.

And my heart aches for my son. And the whole bullying and exclusion thing is pissing me off.

Thank you for listening, jb

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


I have nothing to say, but I'm going to get cracking anyway. I've noticed something about the blank page before me. Sometimes, I just begin to write. I write anything. I keep going until about a half a page is filled and some miracle happens and suddenly I have something to say. The weird thing is that what evolves is often subtle and surprises me.

What the hell? Don't I know everything that's in my head that needs to come out?

Apparently not.

I'm rereading 'The Elegance of the Hedgehog' by Muriel Barbery. I wonder, as I hear the musings of her two main characters, if this is what Barbery did, just sat down to write and discovered, as she went along, what it was that she had to say. See, I think her two characters are really incarnations of the same person at different ages, a single introspective and hedonistic person. Each of them spends a good part of their story chatting about art, beauty, philosophy, and social classes. See? One person. And the beauty of it is that Barbery gets to ramble on using the ploy of letting her character ramble on. It's a thing of beauty.

There's another effect for me of coming to the page when I have nothing to say. First, I need to tell you a few things. I come from a long line of talkers.

My grandpa used to take the wrong side of an argument just to see if he could win it and often he did. He would wind around an argument, taking up details and using logic until you'd sacrificed your queen and were left with only a couple of pawns and your king. Much later, I learned that there was a word for this, rhetoric, and that people could get a PhD in it. Really? That's what my grandpa did for fun. Even if you understood your subject, history or engineering, he could eat you alive with your own words. I absolutely loved that about him, mostly because he did the whole thing in such a gentle way. The end of the argument was when he'd stop talking, grin at you, and let you absorb the meaning of the last words you'd uttered. It was brilliant.

My grandma, his wife, used her words to cling like a burr on your sock. You know those people, don't you? I may have had somewhere I wanted to go, like back outside to play with my cousins, but she just kept talking, deeper and deeper into whatever she was thinking. She loved to talk medical, sometimes graphic and difficult medical issues. Did I want to see her scar from her gall bladder surgery? Did she ever tell me about the time she saw her great aunt with such an advanced case of small pox that the flesh on her back just split open? It did no good to tell her I'd heard the story five or six or a dozen times. I might have tried to move away without hurting her feelings, but that only made her dig in deeper. Then, without warning, her eyes would begin to tear up and she'd tell me how much she loved me. There was no getting away quickly when she began to cry.

Well, I have that talk in me too. Sometimes I can see it on someone's face when they are busy and need to move on. I can see it when they just don't give a shit about something that means a great deal to me. And sometimes, people don't care if they're rude and just move on. It's a different world out there. There is no time for stories in a conversation. When I find that person, the one who will hear a story to the end, I realize I'm with an extraordinary person, a person who may have been born into the wrong era. Generally, I try not to get into conversations like either my grandpa or my grandma used to cherish. Have you noticed that about our culture?

I have always wanted to change this characteristic about myself, but found it difficult to stop talking. There's something seriously satisfying in having a good talk with a friend. But, for the most part, people don't have the time. So, people like me, talkers, story-tellers, those who parse a bit of rhetoric in honor of their grandparents, are left, half-way through a story, without a person to finish it with.

I find that, when I come to the page, especially on the days when I think I have nothing to say, it helps. I don't mind as much that the world is too busy for a story today. 

Nope. Nothing to say. Not really. I hope you don't mind. 

Thank you for listening, jb

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Killing the Pumpkin

Hey there.

I'm running on three hours of sleep, but I figured I'd come here anyway. Out my window is the blue-gray sky I love, yellow sunlight on deep evergreen, and just a few bright red leaves clinging to our Japanese maple. During a wind storm yesterday, the Western Red Cedars dropped a bunch of orange needles and they landed on a carpet of red maple leaves that had already fallen. It was very pretty, but Mike, in a fit of energy, blew them into a pile with his blower. I suppose that using a leaf-blower isn't too strenuous a job, but...

Today, it seems as though he has more energy than I do. We go back and forth that way. Yesterday and the day before, when I had managed to rest, he wasn't feeling well at all. It would be nice if we could get his cardiologist to understand that one of his medications hasn't been letting him sleep more than a couple of hours a night. For two days, he was dizzy and shaky. It sucked. Last night, he didn't take that medicine and he slept almost nine hours. He feels much better today. I, on the other hand, was up and busy worrying about whether or not he was sleeping most of the night. So today, I'm scattered and trying to keep going on three hours of sleep. Nick has a friend over or I'd be sleeping right now.

It takes so much energy to worry. I wish I could relax, but I'm not there yet. I keep telling myself that everyone will die, that every day is a gift. It's inevitable, so I should get used to it. How do you get used to that? More than ever, mortality is staring me in the face.I'll be glad when I can turn that around and feel gratitude for every day the way I should.

Now, Mike's on the back deck with the boys. They're using an air-soft gun to shoot up the big leaves of the weeds back there. Oh, and my cute little pumpkin is getting a new face shot into it. It's a short life for a pumpkin, this one ever shorter than it could have been.

"Look at that! They're going all the way through," Mike said.

"Dad, you want to play?" Nick asked.

"Boy, that's heavy," Nick's friend said as he hefted the gun in his hands. I heard them using words like muzzle control and using the safety and other terms Nick learned at his hunter safety class. The guys were trying to see if they could shoot all the way through my poor tiny pumpkin. It's now bleeding on its face, big drops of clear pumpkin blood.

It will bleed for a while, but the boys have gone on to the next thing. Video games. More shooting, but at least it's virtual blood this time. Boys.

Such a great sacrifice for such a short distraction, at least if you're a pumpkin.

Thank you for listening, jb