Thursday, July 31, 2014

If There Were Leeches in the Sand

Yes, I just spent three hours catching up on Facebook and my favorite blog, The Bloggess. I love her. Don't you love her too? What, you don't know The Bloggess?

Stop what you're doing and go check out The Blogess. Wait. I mean, finish what you're doing here and then go check out The Blogess. She's funny. She's strange. She's philosophical. She's practical. Did I mention that she's funny? Why is it so hard to tell people how funny other people are? It's like trying to retell the perfect joke that someone just told you. Impossible.

Don't look at me that way. I wasn't just on Facebook. I did message back and forth with my nephew for a while. He just graduated and he went on his first backwoods canoe trek this summer. I needed to hear how it went.

According to him, the leaders packed good food, but brought only fresh vegetables as opposed to dehydrated ones for a seven day trip and these went bad on the second day. They also portaged through hip-deep much with canoes, their gear, and my nephew said there were flies, mosquitoes, and leeches. God help me. There were leeches.

Holy cow! I wish I'd been on that trip. NOT!

Who planned this trip anyway? I've never portaged through hip-deep muck. I've fallen into hip-deep muck, but never been sent as a poor innocent into it carrying a backpack and a canoe. Couldn't they have paddled through the hip-deep muck?

I've packed for lots of trips like this and I always carried leech salt in my small dry bag, the one with my camera, sunscreen, and a granola bar in it. Well, the camera is always packed into two Ziploc bags inside my small dry bag because my almost-dry bag was never really dry except at the beginning of a trip. Never.

But leech salt was a requirement for that bag. Before my first trip, seven days in the Adirondacks, I was told that occasionally people got leeches on their feet or ankles if they had to step out of the canoe in swampy water, but that a little salt would take care of them like a slug. Do you remember that scene in 'Stand By Me' when the kid got the leech inside his underwear? Holy crow, I nearly fainted at the thought of that thing, so I carried my leech salt, didn't go near the water without it.

In all the seventeen years I paddled with that little container of salt, I never once got a leech. We should all be grateful for that.

If I had gotten a leech, I know just what I would have done.

First, I would have jumped out of the canoe, probably tipping the boat, the dog, all our gear, and the other occupant, Mike, into the leech-infested water. Then, I would have splashed through said leech-infested water with my leech until I'd reached the shore.

On the way to the shore, I would have begun to strip naked. I would have run screaming through brush, blueberry bushes, and brambles, throwing off the rest of my clothes, until I was totally naked and realized that the leech had come with me. Then, as I ran, I'd examine every part of my body for other leeches, run back toward the overturned canoe, dance in front of Mike, asking if there were any very large leeches clinging to my butt. Vestiges of sanity would return and I would remember that I had leech salt in my almost-dry bag. I'd splash through the leech-infested water again, hoping that being light on my feet would keep me from being further infested with leeches.

Then I would fumble with the buckle on my almost-dry bag, sure that in the moment it took for me to pop the buckle holding it to the canoe, I'd become infested with ten more leeches. I'd fling my almost-dry bag to shore and do my trying-to-walk-on-water routine all over again. On the shore, I'd fall into the brambles, remembering 'stop, drop, and roll' before I remembered that leeches won't come off with simple safety precautions. Then, I'd dump my precious camera in it's double Ziploc bag into shallow water before finding my precious film canister labeled 'leech salt.'

Wherein, I would rip the lid off that film canister and pour a healthy dose on my leech friend, barely watching him curl up in pain before tossing the rest of the salt over my head, my arms, my shoulders, my legs, and behind me onto my bare butt. I would likely dance around for a little longer, making sure I didn't step onto the fallen leech I had just salted. I would beg Mike for all of his leech salt and all of the salt from the spice kit, which he obviously wouldn't give me. Then, before looking through the mud, the blueberry bushes, and the brambles for my lost articles of clothing, I would make Mike examine every square inch of my skin to make sure I didn't have any other Klingons. I'd also examine every square inch of my clothing before putting any of it back on, just in case there were any leeches hiding there. Finally, oblivious to mud and wetness and thorns, I would put my clothes back on and resume was I was doing before the infestation. I might try to pretend that none of the embarrassing stuff happened. It wouldn't work. After the adrenaline wore off, I'm sure I'd burst into tears or into laughter, or both.

I am usually fairly prim about clothing, but it wouldn't matter if the President himself were in the next canoe over, this would be my reaction to getting a leech. I know. It would be mortifying.

The next week would involve nightmares of leeches in my food, in my tent, and even in raindrops during a squall. It would be horrific to try to sleep.

And mortifying.

And yet I am fully aware that leeches don't hurt, don't cause much damage, and are easily removed with a pinch of salt. I can't quite tell you why I feel this way about leeches. I just do.

Even though I know my reaction would be mortifying.

So, if we have any hip-deep muck to get through on any of our canoe trips, I will throw down that canoe, and dig my paddle deep into it to get across. I could paddle my canoe across the Sahara if I thought there were leeches hidden in the sand.

Thank you for listening, jb

Monday, July 28, 2014

Waiting for Them to Come Home

Most moms experience camp weeks with remaining family members. If not other children, at least Dad is usually around around. Not me. Both of my guys are gone for the week. Except for the dog and the cat, the house is quiet. Mike is the Scoutmaster, after all. And, though I won't be surprised if Nick wants to come home midweek because, at the last minute he told me he wasn't sure he wanted to go, for now, I'm by myself.

It's funny how many times I've wished for just this, a solid length of time so I could complete a thought, so I could do a project, so I could have coffee with a friend, so I didn't have to clean up after other people all day long, or so I could read a book without being interrupted six times in fifteen minutes.

Now, here I am with plenty of time for projects, all day to read, and no one making any messes except me.

And I find myself waiting for my guys to get home. Be careful what you wish for, I've heard people say. It's true. I don't really want this time. I don't really want a week to myself. It's too quiet. I'm not bored. I have too much to do to be bored, but I'm procrastinating anything that isn't an immediate need. Yesterday, I did take Teddy for a long walk, but then I ate snap peas and hummus for dinner.

I woke up realizing that I should learn to be more independent. I should get the oil changed in my car because Mike won't get to it for at least a week after he gets home. I should check out our retirement fund and see how we're doing. I should mow the lawn. I should call the flooring people and ask them to come repair two places where it's buckling. Yes, I should do that before it's too late. I don't really feel like negotiating with the man. I'm figuring I'll have to negotiate with him. I don't want to have to write a nasty review. It's hard to write nasty reviews. Anger takes too much energy.

Yes, there are a dozen things I need to do before Saturday when the guys get home. I made sure I made a list of them before they left, when I was still wishing for that solitary time. I've done this a few times now. I knew I'd get into this funk. And eventually, I find my way back out. I do. It seems as though I'll get out of the funk just in time for them to come careening back through the front door with piles of filthy laundry to do, and two or three Dutch ovens to clean and season. Will I have printed all those pages I needed to edit? Will I have called my friends to catch up? Will I have worked on Nick's new quilt? It's a red and black quilt and he's already asked if he can paint his walls black to match it so I know he likes it. I told him he'd have to do that job himself and that it will take three times as many coats as white. That put a kibosh on the black walls. But first, I need to finish the quilt. There are boxes of books to get back onto shelves, bed linens to change, and photos to scan. It really isn't a bad plan for a week. I can afford to read a whole book or even two. I can go for a walk with a different friend every day. I can listen to NPR to my heart's content. and at night when I sit down, the remote is all mine. Romantic comedies are waiting.

And I'm the dork who will sulk for at least a day or two because my guys are at camp without me. I don't particularly want to go camping this time, but I also don't want to miss the chance to quilt and read and hang out with my friends and laugh at stupid my movies on TV.

I'd better get cracking. Time to myself is scarce, especially in summer. And the quiet minutes are ticking away.

Thank you for listening, jb

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Heaven Would Be Damp

It's raining. Thank God. I was pretty parched. I know that nothing I was doing to water my fuchsia and my gardenia was going to be enough. They were dying. My petunias are looking droopy in the wet, but despite their passive aggressive protest, they needed the rain too.

It looks so nice out there on the deck. If it had a roof, I'd sit out there and listen to the drops coming down.

Last night, there was distant thunder. I kept waking up thinking that someone was playing video games too loudly. Then, I'd go back to sleep. I don't know how many times I woke up, five, six, seven times?

In an hour, I'm going to drop Nick and his friend off at camp. Then, I'm taking Teddy out for a long walk in the rain. It will be nice to be wet. I must have been reincarnated from one of those plants that like to be misted.

I used to have a Norfolk pine in my bathroom. I loved that tree. I had moved it from room to room and it never gained much ground from the brittle little tree that I originally bought at a grocery store in New Jersey. Grocery stores in New Jersey aren't known for their ability to nurture. Did you know that they put huge posts close together at the entrance of many stores so that you have to lug your groceries out to your car without the help of a grocery cart? It's great for building upper body strength for a single-person household, but it sucks for someone with a large family. People there don't accept help from strangers either, so if you offered to help anyone out with a huge load of melting ice cream and frozen pizzas, they'd just give you the evil eye as if you were going to steal their Raisin Bran or something.

So, my little Norfolk pine just barely managed until one day, I realized that the place it would get the most light was in my bathroom. I loved that bathroom, all light and steamy and big, but when I put the Norfolk pine in there, it made the place a haven, a sanctuary, where I could swipe condensation off the mirror and actually look beautiful in my fuzzy reflection.

And my Norfolk pine loved it there too. Together we thrived. I took long warm showers and afterward, tiny drops of dew hung from it's needles. It grew new green shoots on the ends of its branches. I loved that shade of green. It was almost the only time I had a plant that was perfectly placed and cared for. It was spectacular. People that visited almost always commented on its beauty, though my Norfolk pine and I didn't need the compliments. We were happy in our quiet sanctuary.

And then one day, my cat decided the large pot my Norfolk pine lived in was a perfect auxiliary litter box. Within a few weeks, our beautiful communion in the bathroom was yellow, crippled, and then dead and gone.

I have always wondered since then if a beloved Norfolk pine could go to heaven when it died. Heaven just might be a well-used bathroom, warm and damp from long showers. Or it might be a cathedral of tall trees on a warm drizzly day with jewels of rain hanging from boughs of Western Red Cedar and sword ferns that are five feet tall. Someday, I imagine I might find out.

Thank you for listening, jb

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Strange Place for a Tampon and Not Very Much Cocaine

I had to take my husband to the ER today, twice.

I was supposed to take Nick and his friend to Rattlesnake Lake to go canoeing. The boys were planning to paddle on their own in the canoe. They were excited. I was nervous but excited. I woke up early, thinking about how the three of us would manage. These boys are beginning to grow. They were much stronger than me. They had experience in a canoe. They were going to be fine everyone told me.

Then, before they were awake, I got two texts from Mike:


Going to ER.

And my plans came crashing down. I never have phone reception at Rattlesnake Lake. I texted Mike back:

Do you need me?

No answer. Shit! I began to pace. My heart rate shot up. Why does Mike need to go to the ER for a nosebleed? I paced some more and texted him again:

 Should I meet you there?

He finally replied - I could tell that his hands were busy holding his nose:

Emits came and said I just need to keep pressure. Hanging here now.

Damned autocorrect. I knew what he was trying to type. I sent another, just to acknowledge him:

Okay. I love you.

My iPhone dinged. I had just turned off the mute I usually had on. Mike said:

It's slowing down.

My heart rate began to slow down too.  I began to imagine that I could take the boys to Pine Lake instead. It was closer and my iPhone had great reception there. Then, I texted Mike again, chattering away:

I do not want to be out of touch with you today. Are you feeling any better? Need clean clothes? Can you come home? Do you feel well enough to work? Tell your nurse that she's a sweetheart.

His nurse at work also sent him to the ER when he had his heart attack last October. Mike sent me back a longer text, but it was basically:

Can't drive yet. Still bleeding. Going to try to ride it out. You should go to Rattlesnake Lake. It's so nice there.

There was no way I was going out of range of any calls from him. No way. I wanted to yell at him, but texted instead:

I can come get you, but I'm not going to leave you alone anywhere.

Maybe you should pick me up.

And then, I was on my way. On our way home, Mike told me that maybe we should go to an Urgent Care. His nose had been bleeding for almost three hours. Swedish, he said. It was on our way. Why had I brought Teddy in the car? Would it get too hot for her? I refused to just drop my husband off at an urgent care. Thankfully, The Weather Channel said it wasn't getting up to seventy-three degrees until 1:00pm. That would do as long as I left my windows open.

As soon as we walked into the urgent care, I ran into some friends. We run into people we know everywhere. We barely had time for hugs all around before they brought us back. In five minutes, the doctor was in, told us Mike should be taken to the ER, and personally wheeled him there. On the way, we found out he was planning to raft the Deschutes next week, but forest fires had closed the river.

My heart leaped at the thought of getting out onto a river. I told the doc that I hoped he could rescue his vacation and that he should wear his life jacket. I hope he's as careful on the river as he was in his practice. I wanted good things for this good man.

Then we were instantly in the ER, nurses, a doctor, taking blood samples, checking blood pressure, asking a million questions about trauma. Eventually, the RN, a bold man said, "We need to know. Is there any chance you were picking your nose when it began?" We all laughed nervously. Everybody knows that everybody picks their noses.

Mike hadn't been picking his nose. He didn't get hit. Nothing in particular caused this. It wasn't stopping. Mike's blood thinners were making sure of that. It really wasn't stopping. 

Then, I heard the nurse ask the doctor if she wanted the cocaine. Had I heard him right? I stayed silent, knowing that my hearing wasn't the best. Then, he asked again.

"Did you really say 'cocaine?'" I asked. They told us it was to numb the nose inside, like novicaine and lidocaine, but intended for the sinuses and in a miniscule amount too small for any other effects. Whew! I didn't want Mike to get addicted.

Then, they told us they needed to put packing up his nose because it was an anterior bleed and that was good.  Anterior, posterior. I didn't really know what that meant, but if the packing could reach it, they wouldn't have to cauterize it. That sounded like a better option to me, but what do I know? I'm not a big fan of burning flesh, but packing material sounds good. The doctor looked at me and said it would work a little like a tampon only it had a bladder they could inflate once it was placed. That sounded good to me. I understood tampons and their proper placement.

Apparently, it's not that easy when it's up your nose. Mike clutched at my hand and his eyes watered as she worked. Thankfully she was quick and she stopped and let him gather himself before she inflated it. Then she gave us some time alone before she came back to see if it stopped the bleeding.

"Feels like she shot lemon juice up my nodes," Mike said. His eyes were still watering. I guess the cocaine didn't do all that much numbing. Bummer. Don't want anyone getting addicted though.

So, with an inflated tampon up his nose and not enough cocaine to numb the pain, I brought my poor husband home. Yes, Teddy was fine in a relatively cool car. After about an hour at home, we had to go back to let some air out of the tampon so his eyes would stop watering and he could carry on a minimal conversation.

Poor guy.

And no one went canoeing today. Not from our family, anyway.

Thank you for listening, jb

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Idylwood Park, Pumping the Septic Tank, and Rattlesnake Lake

I took Nick and a friend of his to the lake today. Now, they're having a sleepover, but I'm not sure who'll fall asleep sooner, me or them. Right now, I'm working to get past sunset. I really enjoyed my lake time. A friend of mine stopped by with her boy and I sent him out to splash with my two. It was great! Mom time! I didn't have to do anything, really. The kids are big enough that they can carry their stuff plus a cooler. I carried my book, some of my snacks, and my camp chair.

Idylwood Park - I can't get over the fact that this little beach on Lake Sammamish has lifeguards, a snack shack, sand, and an area near the beach with grass and shade where I can bring my dog. Oh, it was nice except that I didn't swim for the first time ever. I didn't want to leave Teddy alone tied to my chair. I didn't feel like leaving him at home by himself either. At one point, my friend and I walked down to the beach and stood ankle-deep in the water and Teddy just laid there, stretched out in the shade. What was I worried about? I also brought Zukes snacks for Teddy. Kids, me, snacks and green grass. Teddy was in heaven. The only thing that would have made it perfect would have been dogs in the water.

Now, pizza is almost gone, video games are clashing on the television, and I've already set the boys up with sheets and sleeping pads. I have no intention of staying up to see how long they stay up. Who cares how long they stay up? It's summer. We don't have any responsibilities tomorrow.

Well, they don't. I do.

Tomorrow, I get to hang around and wait for the septic guy to come drain our tank. Ew. Aren't you so glad you asked what I was doing tomorrow? Isn't that an exciting plan? Our septic tank was overwhelmed when we had eight people in the house, so I get to be the one to organize that. Lovely.

So tomorrow, I'm going to go through some receipts, put books back on bookshelves, wait for the septic guy, and maybe make waffles for the boys when they wake up. I'll make sure I close the windows before the septic guy gets here, but. ...

Still have your appetite? There's nothing like a little septic pumping to take the edge off.

In the meantime, I'm a little burned despite the sunscreen, I'm starting to cool down, the evening sky is clear blue, and I'm going to bed early tonight. The boys are making a plan to go canoeing on Friday on Rattlesnake Lake. I think it's a good plan. I love hanging around at Rattlesnake Lake. It's free too, though there are no lifeguards.  I might just invite another friend to meet me there so we can chat while the boys paddle. Picture that. Don't picture septic pumping. Just don't.

Thank you for listening, jb

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Too Much Sunshine and Too Much Attention

It has been over eighty degrees and sunny for a month now. I know a lot of people love this weather, but I'm seriously getting enough. It's time for some rain. I've been having to clip on my sunglasses for too many days in a row. I'm not equipped for this weather. If I had wanted to live in Southern California, I would have moved there.

On Tuesday, it's supposed to get up to ninety-five degrees! Holy cow! For those of you who have converted to the more sensible Centigrade, that's thirty-five degrees! I'm not seeing any rain in the forecast for the next ten days. Please, give me some rain. I'm dying out here.

Here's what you should know about me in sunglasses. When I'm talking to people, I feel I should take them off, as if I'm not as authentic with them on. I probably shouldn't worry about that. I have a pretty fair aura when it comes to talking to people. My dog is a magnet all by himself and I get people talking once they stop to pet him. Today on the trail, Teddy kissed a man he'd just met. He doesn't do that usually. He likes to be more demure than that, but he'll accept attention from most people.

Last week, we took Teddy out with us wherever we went. It was a pain in the neck for eating out, but plenty of places have outdoor seating. He's a handsome dog and draws attention wherever he goes. One guy sat down and started petting him without even talking to us humans. It made me think there was something wrong with the man. Eventually, Teddy got a pained look on his face and I got Teddy onto his feet and walked away. Another guy, shaved bald, bearded, and tattooed, won some respect when he petted Teddy right where he liked it and talked about how he badly wants a dog but can't get one right now because he doesn't have a regular job.

Last night, I was walking past the library and there was a group of women there. They were shouting obscenities at each other. I was uncomfortable and gave them a wide berth.

Suddenly, the one shouting the loudest turned toward us and said, "HEY!"

I jumped.


I breathed a bit easier, but kept walking. Before I could reply, another woman from the group shouted.

I jumped again.


Sometimes, Teddy gets too much attention.

Thanks for listening, jb

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Sixt Stands for Six Times as Expensive as Everyone Else

Sixt Car Rentals Will Rip You Off.

You know how they say you don't need to be there during regular hours when you return your rental car? Don't fall for it. You need to see a copy of your bill when you rent a car to Sixt. You will be surprised. You will be unpleasantly surprised.

Yesterday, I got a copy of my bill for renting a car from Sixt. 

The total came to $185/day for a Renault Clio!

Did you get that?

Sixt charged me ONE HUNDRED and EIGHTY FIVE dollars a day!

We were in Strasbourg. It was hot. We were tired. When the woman behind the desk at Sixt said the car would cost about $100/day, it sounded exorbitant, but I figured stuff costs more in Europe. Two other rental car companies had told us they didn't have any cars left. So, when the woman behind the desk quoted $100/day, my sister and I decided to go for it, exorbitant or not. We were willing to pay the $100/day. It was crazy expensive, but we figured that's what people paid to rent cars in Europe.

Just now, I looked it up. I saw a quote for renting a car at $25/day in Strasbourg. We shouldn't have agreed to pay $100/day for a tiny little Renault Clio. It's not like it's a luxury car or anything.

When we called about returning the car, the person we spoke to said we didn't need to arrive during business hours to return the car as long as we returned it by 5:00pm. The office closed at 3:00. We drove in just before 5:00pm and dropped the keys into the key box. So, I didn't think anything about this car rental. It was a big expense, but we agreed to $100/day.

Yesterday, I got the bill.

Sixt charged me $185/day and when I called, they said they couldn't adjust the charges in any way. I talked to my credit card company. They said that since the numbers add up correctly, there isn't anything they can do.

My mistake is that I don't have any paperwork that says $100/day. I looked. I remember signing papers. I remember it adding up to about $100/day. I remember wondering if I should pay that high a price or walk away. I remember looking at my sister, who hoped to get to a small town a hundred miles away in Germany by morning. I remember looking at my niece who looked limp with heat. It was 90 degrees out that day. I turned back to the desk and said yes to being ripped off at $100/day for a subcompact car with standard transmission.

I didn't think it could get any worse that that.

It did.

I heard a story of an American tourist in Italy being charged $250 for a taxi ride from the airport to a hotel. Yeah, I said, that would never happen to me. I wouldn't be conned that way. I would never fall for crap like that.

I just did.

Remember that name - Sixt. They will take a month's rent away from you in extra charges. They won't do a thing about it when you complain.

And this company had the gall to send me a rewards card with this perky little letter about all the benefits of having a 'streamlined car rental experience.' They tell me that they look forward to providing me with excellent service in the future.

I don't think so.

Thank you for listening, jb

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Chaos and the Meaning of Life

So, I've been back from my trip for almost two weeks. The first week back was a blur of sleeping at the wrong times and trying to remember where I was when I woke up. Last week, I moved half of our belongings into storage while I thought about all the people I met and the food I ate on my vacation. My back still hurts from lugging all that stuff around and our storage is packed right up to the roll-down door. I worked with movers to get the big stuff moved, but I moved all the little stuff with some help from Mike and Nick when boxes were heavy. Then, I vacuumed my floor downstairs to get it as clean as it could be. This week, I'm getting a new flooring and friends are coming over to take down Nick's play fort. This feels like Phase Three.

Phase One - Box up as much as I could handle and get it into storage.
Phase Two - Have movers haul my furniture into storage and vacuum bugs and cobwebs off the old floors after they leave.
Phase Three - Get new floors put in downstairs, have friends come to claim Nick's old play fort, and clean and organize upstairs at the same time.
Phase Four - Have movers bring my furniture back home and finish sprucing up my house just in time for my mother to get off the plane.

Phase Three has developed into deeper parts. I get to choose and pick up new moulding for along the floors. Yesterday, I bought some prefab stuff. I don't have to stain it. The problem was that Mike didn't like the color, so last night, I ran out and brought home two other colors. Mike liked one of these, thankfully. When you don't plan ahead, you don't get as many choices and I really didn't want to sacrifice my cleaning time to staining 340 feet of moulding. Today, I get to bring back the rejected moulding and go to two other stores to pick up the preferred moulding because neither store had as much of one type as I need. Somewhere in there, I don't want to look like an abandoned rag doll next week. Thursday, after the floor guys are supposedly done, another guy will come and install the moulding and work on our threshold. Who would have thought that the threshold wouldn't be part of putting in a new floor. Apparently shaving doors and moving water heaters aren't part of that process either. Mike, in the meantime, expects us to be able to paint the whole downstairs. Plus, he's pushing me to get Nick out with his friends so he doesn't sit in front of the television this whole time.

Really? I need a bigger crew to accomplish all this. I do. I just wanted my house to look decent when my mother came to visit. I didn't want to show her a whole new house.

I might get one room painted. Maybe.

I'm suffering from extreme makeover disorientation. My house is beginning to look like someone else's house. At least my kitchen is it's usual messy self. The funny thing is the way renovation takes on creep. Mike wants to paint and I want new doors and door moulding to match what Mike picked out. Then, when all of that is done, I want new flooring in my upstairs kitchen and bathroom. Then, Mike wants new cabinets upstairs. And we both want the upstairs to be painted too. The outside of the house needs to be painted while we're at it. And the deck needs new decking. Then, Mike wants a pool table and Nick wants to convert a storage area downstairs to a weight room. And so on and so on and so on. It might be easier to move into a new house.

Now, I may or may not have told you that my mother is coming on Saturday. Yes, I said Saturday.  Today is Tuesday, and I'm still stuck in Phase Three and a Half. Just now, I found out that my floor crew is down to one man. He doesn't speak much English either, so I'm going to have to wrestle with my Spanish again. I know I'll sound like an idiot. The other guy, the one who called, the one who talks a lot and is fluent in English, had a tragedy in his family. He told me that he won't be here today but could still get the work done by Thursday. But it's a tragedy. His nephew is in the hospital in a coma. It's sad how a boy can nearly drown and his uncle only gets one day to work through the problem.

And I'm stopped at this point, stuck thinking about this broken system that doesn't allow proper time for things that mean so much. One day is all this man was asking for. One day.

To hell with Phase Three. Getting it all done by Saturday isn't all that important in the scheme of things.

Is that the lesson here - that there is chaos and the only important thing is caring about the people in it?

The floors will get done enough for my mother to come visit. We'll make sure we have a bed in the room where she's going to sleep. Painting might or might not get done in the next year or so. I waited six years to get organized enough to get these floors done. What's a few more for the painting? In the meantime, I've met people. I've loved my people. I have this huge community swirling around me. It's chaos yet it's beautiful in its imperfect way.

I just hope I can still feel that way when my mother comes and looks over the top of her glasses at the chaos that is my life.

Thank you for listening, jb