Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Doors Closing, Windows Opening

Folks - I'm going to be offline as far as the blog for at least the next two weeks outside of the occasional funny dog photo.  I found out this week a dear friend of mine, Lyn Vandebrake, who is also an author, was diagnosed with cancer the end of August after she came out in her Glamper Camper and stayed with me during a U.P. book signing tour while Partner in Grime was on the road. It was a great visit - we stayed up well in the wee hours talking about her life on her family farm, her children, our writing projects (she's an award-winning travel author) and life in general. She had little appetite at supper but a dram of whiskey was poured and we just talked and talked.
Even though we'd gotten little sleep we were up with the dawn as she had to head out for her book signing up north and the last thing I remember was her jaunty wave with a "Love you!" as she drove off, fearless, into the crazy Chicago traffic towing a Bright Aqua Retro Camper behind an extended cab, long bed farm pickup truck.

Unfortunately, when she got home, further testing has revealed she has just weeks to live. Lyn is a Christian and knows where she is headed and is at peace but one thing was troubling her.

She had a new book in progress (through a traditional publisher) but it is a few chapters shy of being finished and she is unsure if she can at this point as her strength is quickly leaving her.  She asked me to co-author it so I can write the last few chapters and then can take over coordinating the editing and publication with her publisher if she is gone at that time. All the sales are going to an animal rescue in Iowa, where she lives on a farm and payment of the royalties has been set up already.
She has published with this publisher before and they are very supportive of whatever it takes to get it into print.  It's a book about rescue Beagles, intended for young adult to adult readers, a short book with photos.

I am honored she asked me but with a very busy work schedule (federal end of the fiscal year), I probably won't have time for any lengthy blog posts for a couple of weeks.

I'll be on Facebook and will see you all back here in just a few chapters. As always prayers for her are welcome.   LBJ

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Talk Like a Pirate Day

It's National "Talk Like a Pirate Day" and since I was swamped with work after a week of leave to visit Dad, just some pirate funnies today.  Arrr.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Smoke on the Water

They showed up on the lake one night, visible in the morning, silent in the mist, their shapes nothing at all like what we'd seen before on this small body of water.  A few miles away was a large and swiftly flowing river, bringing with it goods from afar.  But this little lake was what we, as children, knew.  The water had seen canoes, and the occasional raft kids made out of a sheet of plywood and inner tubes, but these little paddle wheel boats were something new.

Dad, of course, wants to go for a ride on one, there at that park at the end of our block where he ran three miles every day after work. I didn’t want to go but I loved my Dad.  He and Mom adopted my brother and me late in life and he went out of his way to make life normal, now that Mom had cancer.

So I went with him, like most teenagers, secretly hoping that invisibility was an option but it was not to be. It was Fall, wood smoke from burning leaves drifts out over the little man-made lake in the city park, as people took advantage of the day to be out on the bike paths and walking trails. To make matters worse, he was waving at EVERYONE including other kids my age (invisibility now!) I pretended to be looking up at the birds in the trees, hoping the kids wouldn't notice me, but they did and pointed (forget invisibility, let's go for obliterating lightning bolt).  The ride couldn't end soon enough for me.
Had I been acting less like a teenager I would have noticed the stillness of the water before us, our legs propelling us forward as if in flight. I would have noticed how people reacted to my father, the love, and respect he got even as he gave it out.  I would have noticed  how he looked with an owners eye upon the water passing behind us like spent memory, the peace of the water ahead, at the simple of joy of muscle and motion powering past those things that weighed us down, disappearing in the joy of a simple evening with his child, like smoke on the water.

We were both quiet on the walk home, me because I wanted to be anywhere else, Dad for reasons I didn't understand quite yet. When we got back to the house, Mom was in bed, tears on her face.  I'd not seen her cry before and I don't think she expected me to, our arriving home early.  The tears encompassed more than pity or pain but rather that inarticulate recognition and despair of that cancer that blazed onto her inescapable earth, its fire, her ashes. I closed the door as he sat down next to her, the whisper of my bare feet on the floor, the only sound I could make

Years passed; the paddle boats disappeared as quietly as they came, with no mention of their passing.
Now, a lifetime later, I am the only family member remaining. As I leave to run an errand I realize that little has changed, but for me. Dad is the same man he was when I was a teen and so embarrassed to hang out with him, just as his home is the same, but for the ghosts that remain.

But I have changed, as I realize that his wishing to watch closely and guide, was not based on control.  Rather, it was his realizing that I was still light in the burden of the years, not yet possessing the weight of the wisdom that keeps one surefooted on an inescapable path.  It was pushing me past the mundane and the limiting, if only briefly, out of that shelter we make for ourselves in times of self-doubt or danger, hiding underneath it as if it's some armor we don without knowing the full extent of what it's protecting us from.

It was his simply wanting me to know joy, while he spent more time with me, even as time ticked its final moments for his first great love.
As I enter the house and he wakes, I ask him if he wants to go for a drive.  He does, but we don't go our usual route.  We drive on down to the lake where the paddle boats were docked long ago, walking carefully, he with his cane, down to a bench where we can see the water.

I look at him and say, “do you remember those paddle boats?” and he hugs me and we laugh.  From the trees the chirps of birds erupt into music, the steady staccato of their sound ticking down the hours of one more precious evening with Dad.

Wordless Wednesday

The look you get when you tell the dog "it's too early for your supper" and she catches both Mom and Dad with a mouthful of freshly baked yeast muffin, which you did NOT share with her.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

But They ARE Family!

I'm home from my Dad's and just chillin' with my husband and our two rescue Labs. My husband stayed home as with Lorelei being a new rescue we didn't both want to suddenly leave for a week, plus airfare for two is pretty $$.

It was a really nice visit though as much as I missed them all.  I was able to get Dad out for a couple of short "road trips" with a female friend to help him in and out of the car (something I can't do with the missing meniscus). My cousin Liz, who decorated his assisted living and oversaw the home sale and move did an awesome job.  So many photos and mementos of his life in our childhood home to warm him. We also drove past our old house and it's obvious it was sold to a family who cares for it.  Lots of pretty updates outside - definitely a house full of love.

So for today, as I catch up with chores and sleep, some funny Tweets from people who think about their dogs like I do.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Out of Pocket

I will be out off of blogger for the rest of the week while I visit my 99-year-old Dad out in Washington State.  He has outlived two children and two wives and is looking forward to some outings, fish and chips, and cribbage. My husband is staying at home  - he just returned from 3 weeks in Vietnam on business, and the rescue dogs (including our new one Lorelei) will be happier with him there, rather than being boarded as Lorelei was just starting to settle in to her new home.

UPDATE:  Arrived safely and having a nice visit.  My husband bought me a little think pad ebook so I could check mail (I don't have a smartphone and didn't want to lug my heavy laptop in a carry-on).
Also, Dad skunked me in cribbage - TWICE.  This is just WRONG :-)

Friday, September 6, 2019

Friday Smiles

Click on this picture to enlarge it and then look at the contents of the cubicle.  bwahahaha