Posted in Family

Practicing Craft

pinterest joke
one of the many jokes about Pinterest as a “time-suck”… Which jokes, of course, you can FIND on Pinterest…

I admit it. I have joined the ranks of Pinterest addicts. I’m not  considering that a bad thing, however, given the folders full of great ideas I’m accumulating–combined with the fact that (ohmygosh) I’m actually following up on those ideas! Most of the Pinterest jokes (which you can find as pinnable items on Pinterest itself) reference the idea that “Pinners” are too busy pinning stuff to actually use any of it. (“Honey, can you pick up pizza? I’ve been busy all day Pinning nutritious recipes for our family.”)

So I’ll defend my Pinterest Habit by pointing to the Useful Things that have already come of it.  Case in point: I had just done a spring-cleaning run-through of my closet last week, clearing out things that no longer fit, or haven’t left their hangers for a couple years…  And then I found loads of DIY (do-it-yourself) tutorials for “repurposing” clothing. I’ve dusted off my sewing machine and retrieved nearly half the items from the “give-away bag” (including the cat, who seems inclined to take up residence in it–possibly in protest of the fact that we’ve put her on a diet…) And one by one, those items I’d designated for Goodwill are taking their places–in their reincarnated forms–back in my closet… and on my person.

cat's out of the bag
The cat’s NOT out of the bag…

This is good stuff! Especially since we have zero budget for clothing and (aside from a new pair of work-shoes for Keoni when he got to the point of duct-taping the soles of his old ones) we haven’t even shopped at the Savers’ second-hand store for more than a year…  So I have some newly-useful items–ranging from the three-minute no-sew alteration of my teenage son’s discarded T-shirt into a “vest” for use as swimsuit-cover, to the conversion of an unused summer dress into an empire-waist top and matching wrap (from the skirt fabric)…

beading
busy with bracelets… Ideas sparked by Pinterest

Another category of “stuff to try”–which I’m working my way through–is the collection of recipes for making your own cleaning products and personal-care items. Those of you who have been following here for a while might remember my earlier commentary about necessary items which can’t be bought with Food Stamps–like toilet paper, soap, or shampoo…  Well, I haven’t found a toilet-paper recipe yet, but look for an upcoming post on “Food-Stamp Kitchen Chemistry”–all kinds of ideas for cleaning the house (and the people) from ingredients we can buy with Food Stamps… (Keoni just got the initial response to his application to resume his previous career in Corrections, and we’re praying our Food-Stamp days are numbered–but some of these are ideas I’d continue to use even when that’s the case…)

bracelets
some of my new creations…

But the category in which I’ve been dabbling the most is playing with jewelry-making… With the help of Suzy-cat, who can’t resist the tempting beads, threads, and wires…

I’m realizing, actually, how many years it’s been since I indulged my “crafty” side. (And I’m using the word in its colloquial sense, of engaging-in-crafts, rather than the dictionary definition of cunning-or-sly…) Back when the mugwumps were little and I was a stay-home Mommy, I used to do a fair bit of craft-work… crocheted afghans and cross-stitched wall-hangings and sewed curtains and (my favorite) crafted hand-made books with pockets and pop-outs and artsy little bits and bobs… A couple years after I went back into the workforce (full-time-and-a-half!) I gave my sister my book-making supplies for use in her scrapbooking–I hadn’t touched them since I’d been back in the draining and demanding office environment.

Thanks to the Pinterest nudge, though–not to mention my newly unstructured life–I’m playing again. And jingling a little when I walk…

anklet

Posted in Family

(Used) Lions & Bunnies & Bears, oh my!

with Toots in his nightcap, the early years

Since my first birthday, I’ve had this stuffed bear I call Toots. Well, I’ve always called him a bear, but his physiology really does defy taxonomic classification… I’m not sure whether the tail and belly button (both features added by my Grandma at my demand) would clarify or confuse the question of precisely what type of critter Toots was originally intended to represent. Or why he looks like he’s perpetually cheering.

Regardless, Toots is THE bear, the companion of my childhood, the indispensable intimate who went with me on every trip, every vacation, every  Girl Scout camp, every sleepover and slumber party–I never spent a night without Toots.

Toots as toilet-training pal

Toots protected against nightmares, comforted in the face of stressors, conversed with me at all hours of the day and night, and was in every way entirely “real” to me.  You’ve read the Velveteen Rabbit, right? A stuffed animal becomes real by being loved to bits and tatters…

And “loved to tatters” pretty well describes the state of this bear.  After a lot of years’ worth of trips through the washing machine (and hanging by his ears from various clotheslines), he got too fragile for anything but hand-washing, and by the time I hit college, my mother had to give him a full facelift just to keep his stuffing on the inside.

Because, yes, even in college–much to the amusement of my roommate, and the annoyance of my boyfriend–I still went to sleep every night with Toots tucked in the crook of my arm. This bear traveled with me through twenty-one countries (some of which don’t exist anymore on today’s maps) and through all the rough moments of growing up, and (perhaps ironically) of trying to become a grownup.

Toots (& my sister's bear) crossing the country by train, 1985-ish

On the evening that I left my first husband, I grabbed a sleeping bag and Toots on my way out of the house, and spent my first solo night on the floor of the empty apartment for which I’d just signed, wide awake and clutching Toots for reassurance.

Toots was my comforter and my protector, but I also felt protective about Toots–as evidenced by the strange recurring nightmare that haunted me, reappearing for years in a multitude of variations, in which Toots somehow got lost in the world.  I would wake feeling equal parts foolish and traumatized, but within that dream I always felt an awful anguish over the knowledge that he was “out there” without me to take care of him, that he wouldn’t know what happened to me, or that I loved him and had tried to keep him safe. Time after time I dreamed of Toots slipping out of range, out of my protection, out of reach of my love.  I feel as foolish relating this dream as I always felt on waking from it, but the emotion during the dream was always real, and rending.

Christian the logician...

My mother told me, when my son Christian was born, that having a child would be like having a piece of my heart walking around the world outside of my body.  I haven’t yet come across a more apt description than that–and I found myself this week reliving that nightmarish feeling of helplessness that I used to experience in dreams about Toots. But this time it’s not a ragged bear I can’t help–it’s my son.

Christian is one of those kids who has been “adult” since his toddler years.  He’s off all the charts intellectually, and he deals with everything–including his emotions–with his brain. He intellectualizes his feelings and internalizes them and “stuffs” them, refusing to talk about his emotions, ever.  I recognize this trait easily, because he’s exactly like his mother. In my case, it took a mess of addiction and the grace of A.A. to relearn a lifelong habit of “trying to feel things with my head,” as a friend so aptly described my previous process.

For Christian to be stressed to the point of actually expressing an emotion is the equivalent of a scream for help from anyone else.  And this is the child who was curled in a ball on my lap last Sunday, clutching his stuffed bunny (his Toots-equivalent) and clinging to me and openly crying–because we had only a few hours until his dad would pick him up, and he doesn’t want to go back to that house.

Christian with his Bunny (and my owl)--when dad's arrival wasn't so imminent...

I won’t burden you with all the reasons, except to say that they coincide with many of the reasons why I don’t live in that house anymore. (I did write about one telling example last month…) But here we are–I had the power to remove myself from that household four years ago, but I’m absolutely powerless if my children wish for the same “escape.”

The realities of my own disasters come crashing home at this point–it’s entirely due to my last alcoholic relapse that the kids aren’t with me at least half the time, as they used to be.  It took a court battle (funded by my parents–bless them!–because I’d blown every resource with that relapse) for me to hang onto my legal status as a jointly custodial parent, and to win back any time with them at all, after six months in which I saw them only a handful of times.  I can point fingers at my ex, but it’s my own doing that I have so little leverage now in the matter of helping Christian out of his father’s household.

Earlier in the weekend, we had been watching Secondhand Lions–a movie about a boy Christian’s age, who at one point tells a beloved grownup: “You have to stick around, because I need you!” Christian turned to me with the great seriousness of which he’s capable, and told me forcefully: “That goes for YOU. I’m not putting you in the ground ‘next to the lion,’ so you have to live a LONG time. I need you.”

Toots, Christian's Bunny, and our inherited "lion"...

And that’s what was still ringing in my mind as I wandered around the house after their pick-up, distraught by Christian’s distress (and my uselessness in the face of it), and restlessly picking up his Bunny–to which he’d clung all afternoon, right up until reaching the sight-line of the door where his dad stood waiting. For the moment, I can’t do a damn thing about the schedule, and I can’t “protect” him from being unhappy at his dad’s house.  But maybe what I can do for him today is something about that “stick around” thing.  He’s a worrier, and the fact of my smoking has always distressed him.  So…  I quit.

“End-of-smoking” is its own story for another day, but I will say that when Christian called–in tears again–the next day, he was mightily cheered by the lowdown that I’ve laid down the lighter. Yup, I’ve locked myself in by saying it aloud–and until he’s here to see non-smoking-Mom for himself, a bear and a bunny and our second-hand lion house-cat are keeping watch and keeping me honest.  Toots seems to be cheering…

Posted in Family, Writing

Mother-in-Law or Fairy Godmother?

Actually, I’m writing today about my mom-in-law and my dad-in-law, but “Fairy Godfather” just has a wrong ring on several levels…  I’m getting ahead of myself, though. This is a story about the tool of my trade–the laptop–and a miraculous magical rescue.

leopard-print duct tape on the power cord

Since I took to writing full-time, I’ve spent anywhere from ten to twenty hours a day with my fingers on the keyboard of an ancient PC laptop.  It’s a cheap one I bought years ago, just basic functions even when it was new, and if computer-years run like dog-years, this thing is older than I am for all practical purposes.  And it was beginning to show its age.  Some of the keys would take a few taps before I’d get the corresponding letter to show up on the screen, the “click” button on the tracking pad only worked about three quarters of the time, a virus had wiped out all the .exe functions and made it almost impossible to open new documents or the internet browser, it regularly overheated and ate the files I was working on, the battery was shot (so it had to be plugged in to function) and the electric cord was getting too loose to hold.  I’d have to wiggle it around to find the “sweet spot” and then jam it against my leg while I worked to keep it in place.  We tried duct tape, but the machine was clearly limping along on its last legs.

my Mac-compatible (comPAWtible?) iPad

So I’d been nursing it along and praying it would hold out until we could afford a replacement.  My hubby Keoni is back to work after his December knee replacement, but he has the second knee scheduled for April, so we’ll have another couple months of living on just what I make at the laptop–no room in the budget for a computer until after that.  And Keoni was very insistent that we’d be choosing a good computer when the time came.  “This IS your office,” he reminded me.  I’d been thinking of making the switch to Mac–knowing there would be a steep learning curve, but also knowing the Mac would be great for website creation and editing my photography, and not susceptible to wipe-out by virus…  And compatible with my iPad, which I “live in” when I’m not on the computer.  So we’d been doing a little “window shopping” on Amazon, picking out the computer we’d get… later.

Out of the blue a few weeks ago, Keoni’s parents called us from Hawai’i to say they wanted to buy me a new computer, and which one would I like? I can’t remember the last time I’ve been so stunned. My in-laws aren’t Christmas-and-birthday people, but they occasionally step in–generously!–when they perceive a need.

two days early, and just in time!

Did I mention I was stunned? I stammered out the specs of the Macbook Pro I’d been looking at, and they called back that afternoon with the tracking number for shipping.  I instantly became the impatient kid who can’t wait for Christmas! I knew I’d have my face pressed to the front window on delivery-day, waiting eagerly for the UPS truck to show up.

God has a sense of humor and timing–have you noticed that? Two days before the new computer was due to arrive, the old one breathed its last breath.  No amount of computer-CPR could revive it again. I’ve used the iPad for back-up before (like the day that virus hit, when I had 8,000 words due before I could take the time to resuscitate the thing)–and I’ve been grateful to HAVE it as a back-up–but the iPad really isn’t designed for flipping between research websites and word-processing, and I can’t work nearly as efficiently… and I had another ten thousand words due that day.  I don’t mind admitting I was pretty stressed.

Less than two hours later, the UPS truck pulled up. Thank you, God–and thank you, Mom & Dad in Hawai’i! As my mom-in-law said to me on the phone when I was stuttering my stunned and sincere thanks: “God works in mysterious ways, Kana. Today, this is how God is working.”

Making the tech-leap! Compared to the Mac, the old laptop might as well have been cardboard…

Wow.  So I’ve been happily “moving in” to my new Mac–and relishing the fact that for the first time, all of my music library and photo library and software and apps and documents and calendar and to-do list and everything else are actually compatible across all my devices, synced up and available whether I’m on the laptop or the iPad or even my phone.  Too slick for words–I’m loving it!  My OCD-organizing-impulses are intensely satisfied by this tidiness.

I have to say (despite my familiarity with the iPad, which turns out not to afford much advantage in “learning” the laptop) that Mac was a Mystery to me!  It was time to bust out the climbing-gear, because this was a STEEP learning curve.  Even the most basic of functions–like scrolling or right-clicking–take a different action on the Mac.  As I figured out how to do each individual thing, I was thinking–without exception–that the Mac approach makes better sense. Mac was definitely designed with usability in mind. At this point, it’s still just a matter of learning how to do everything. Everything. I consider myself pretty “techie” (I used to teach online and design online curriculum, I design websites on the side, and when we owned a restaurant, I handled all of our internet marketing myself) but I have zero formal education in technology.  I’m simply stubborn enough to keep “playing” until I figure out how to make a computer do what I want it to do. So that’s what I’ve been up to–gleefully getting familiar with an all-new environment.

That’s a partial explanation for my absence from this space over the last few weeks (and I’d like to thank all of you who pinged me to say you missed the posts, and hoped everything was okay).  There has actually been a lot going on–including a lot of writing work. (Last weekend: thirty thousand words in two days–and this from the girl who didn’t even manage to finish NaNWriMo…) I’ve been thinking the last few days of the “complaint” I often have when traveling: When you have the most stuff to write about, THAT’s exactly when you don’t have enough time to write any of it! True in regular life as well, as the last few weeks go to show..

Steve Jobs would be proud… calling tech support on an iPhone and tech-chat on the iPad, getting the Macbook up and running

But.  I’m re-evaluating my writing-priorities, and what comes to light today is my previous insistence that writing in THIS space on a regular basis is what keeps writing FUN.  I don’t want to get so “ground down” with writing-on-demand that I lose the joy-in-writing that made me want to do it full-time in the first place.  So my pledge to myself is not to treat my own writing (here) as “lower priority” than the writing that comes with deadlines.  To borrow from Hamlet‘s Polonius: “This above all: to thine own self be true.”  I don’t think Polonius was referring to blogging, but that’s how his advice applies in my life today.

And I recognize on a daily basis how blessed I’ve been in the support of the people around me. I chat on IM daily with writers from our team, and a regular theme of those chats (including with our editor, and my boss) is spousal resistance to time-spent-writing.  I’m thinking, in contrast, of Keoni nudging me to take the leap into writing full-time, even before we knew if I’d be able to make any money with it. “You’ve wanted to do this for years–you need to do it.”  Period, end of discussion.  It probably helps that I’m not away from him when I’m writing–my “office” is our bed, which we treat like a couch in the daytime, and he’ll stretch out beside me and read, or we stream Netflix movies while I write. I’m grateful every day for the supportiveness–and that extends also to his parents and the vote of confidence represented by the generous gift of this computer.

Pue’o on his perch

My writing-mascot is the owl–I have a little guy (named Pue’o, the Hawai’ian word for owl) who perched on the old laptop’s screen while I wrote… In Hawai’ian culture, the ‘aumakua, or guardian spirit, is represented by an animal of the islands.  My husband’s family is guarded by Mano, the shark, and he remembers learning about the ‘aumakua from his Tutu Pa (grandfather), Hawai’ian musician Kamuela Ka’anapu, who also taught him traditional cooking, and to combine his love of music with his love of cooking. (When Keoni is singing in our kitchen, I know that all’s well in my world!)  Tutu Pa told him that whenever he saw a shark, “either something good or something bad will happen.” Kid-Keoni’s irreverent response (which earned him a cuff across the back of the head) was, “Well, Tutu Pa, that depends wheddah you IN da watah or OUT!

Anelahikialani & Kapena with their brother-sister matching ‘aumakua tattoos

Our son Kapena, who turned sixteen on Valentine’s Day, has been wanting a tattoo for a couple years, and we told him we’d sign for one when he reached legal age (sixteen with parental consent in Idaho), provided he went to our artist (whose art we love and whose judgment we trust), and that the tattoo itself be something meaningful to him.  So this week he got his tattoo: the family ‘aumakua with our last name printed in the curve of its body. Our second daughter Anelahikialani and her wife Sarah were visiting from California this last week, and she and Kapena went in together to get matching ‘aumakua tattoos.

Hawai’ian families have ‘aumakua, and an individual can also have a personal ‘aumakua. You don’t choose one–it chooses you, and a person who pays attention might recognize the relationship.  Last summer when I began writing for an Idaho travel magazine, I was seeing owls every time I was out on the road on assignment. Daytime, night time, it didn’t matter–owls were crossing my path every time I hit the road to write. I can take a hint–the owl is my ‘aumakua. And if I reach back to my own Irish roots, the owl is a common personal totem in Celtic culture as well, so that seems suitable. This is why my Twitter handle is @KanaOwl, and why the literary magazine I’m launching (more about that in an upcoming post) will be at ThirteenOwls.com, and why the protective cover Keoni ordered for the new laptop is adorned with an owl (in “my” colors, no less)..

On the Owl-Mac with my “office staff”–Christian (holding Pue’o) & Elena Grace…

Our ten-year-old Christian just registered for junior high, and as we watched Harry Potter the other night, he was lamenting the fact that “speaking Owl” isn’t among the available electives.  He’s quite enamored of Harry’s owl, Hedwig, and whenever he’s in the house, you can guarantee that Pue’o will be somewhere on his person.  (He doesn’t know it yet, but his birthday present in 10 days will be a full-size Hedwig look-alike made by the same company that created Pue’o…)  He also points out that the owl on my Mac is an appropriate symbol for what I do, since owls in Harry Potter’s world carry written correspondence.

Christian and I agree that the UPS man was really a brown owl in disguise.  And as for his delivery… well, even Harry Potter getting his Firebolt broom by owl-post was not more excited than I was when this Owl-Mac arrived.

To Mom & Dad in Hawai’i: THANK YOU for enabling this writer to keep writing so happily! And I hope you know that this isn’t the first time God has worked through you to provide a blessing in my life…  I thank him every day for my biggest blessing: the man who married me. Thank you for “authoring” that gift as well…  And my thanks again for providing me with such an awesome new “office!” If I haven’t needed a fairy godmother, it’s because God’s always got my back.  And yes–as Mom says–he works through other people.

Posted in Writing

February Sunshine!

It’s probably a fittting follow-up to the other day’s Imbolc post that today I’m privileged to share the Sunshine Award!  Perfect item for February, when we all (at least those of us in the northern hemisphere) might be in need of a little extra light…  My humble thanks to Susan, of Susan Writes Precise, who shone the light in my direction, and graciously offered me the opportunity to spotlight some of the (many!) bloggers whose writing I enjoy..

But first things first: this award comes with a mini-interview, so I have some questions to answer before we go forward…

Pue'o and Suzy and Dragon (you'll have to take my word for it on the Invisible one)... and a glimpse of the all-turquoise closet...

Favorite Color: Anyone who has seen my closet–a solid mass of turquoise & teal–could answer this question (probably while laughing at me)…

Favorite Animal: Is it inappropriate to list “children” in this category?…  I’d be in trouble with our Personal Animals if I didn’t name them here, so I’ll say Suzy-Cat and my son’s Invisible (NOT Imaginary) Dragon.  And I have to mention the Owl, who has swooped onto my radar in the last year or so and taken up a post as my totem. If I reach back to my Irish roots, the owl is a common Celtic totem–and it’s a common ‘aumakua in my Hawai’ian husband’s culture as well, so the little guy who perches on my laptop is Pue’o (the Hawai’ian word for Owl).

Favorite Non-Alcoholic Drink? COFFEE!

FaceBook or Twitter: Twitter. My FaceBook account is still standing–and my Twitter and the blog both post to it–but I don’t go there very often. I was going to say that my Twitter handle (@KanaOwl) makes me a hooter instead of a tweeter, but that doesn’t sound quite right…

Favorite Number? Thirteen!  A number for resurrection and enlightenment–and my wedding anniversary.

Favorite Day of the Week: I don’t know–what day IS it, anyway?  I work seven days a week, but I don’t go anywhere to do it, so I’m wonderfully unaware of what the calendar says these days…

My Passion: Singular? I only get to list one? Nah, I’m a rule-breaker…  I’m passionate about my Husband. (He says it’s because he’s a fruit… As in Hawai’ian Passion Fruit…) About Mommyhood. About Words. About Travel. About People’s Stories.

Getting or Giving Presents: Well, let’s be honest here–BOTH. I do love unwrapping one of those hefty rectangular packages that I know is a book… And of course there are those awesome presents with kid-fingerprints all over them and kid-names signed on them… But there’s also the fun of picking out just the right thing for someone, and being all excited and not being able to keep the secret and giving them the present before we actually get to the holiday because I can’t contain myself. (But that last part is probably just me…)

Favorite Pattern: Interesting question… Gotta go with Celtic knotwork.

Favorite Flower: Plumeria. (Tucked behind a left ear because I’m married.)

Okay, that was fun–but it’s time to pass along some Sunshine. Without further ado, I’m happy to share with you some blogs worth reading:

  • CreatingReciprocity–Today’s post is titled “Once Upon a Time, a Unicorn Fell Off a BunkBed”.. You know you want to read this.
  • MotherVenting–Today’s post (in its entirety), which made me grin–and made me wonder when I missed the unicorn memo: “Vacancy. There’s a vacancy available. Here, in my heart. Wanted: a worthy occupant. Salary: biscuits, gin, filth, and use of unicorn. Must come with own beard. Benedict Cumberbatch an advantage. Apply within.”
  • Reinventing the Event Horizon–“Notes From the Edge” by Kathy & her partner Sara, including the wonderfully titled recent post, “Don’t Run, You’ll Make Dust (A Grandmother’s Warning)”…  (no unicorns, but there is a yellow rhinoceros to be found here…)
  • E-mails to God–Irreverent and down-to-earth…  “On the Seventh Day, He Went to Costco”…
  • "Barbados Beach Shack" by Beth Parker (bethparkerart.wordpress.com)

    BethParkerArt–“Art That Makes You Wiggle Your Butt!” Truly, Beth’s colorful pieces never fail to make me smile.  With apologies to Beth for swiping it off her site, here’s one of my favorites…

  • Slightly More Than Necessary–written by Leslie Hobson, a self-described “escapee from the world of advertising,” and today featuring an inspiring tribute to her mother, who passed away just this week. “I am crying now not for the loss of her, but for the gift of her, throughout every day of my life.” Beautiful from start to finish–and Leslie, you’re in our prayers today.
  • How the Cookie Crumbles–“An irreverent look at life after sixty-five,” by a blogger who writes under the handle “Let’s CUT the Crap!”
  • Guapola–“The Asylum Within the Asylum–and Music!” A little of everything, and always entertaining…
  • Becoming Cliche–Single-handedly responsible for several cumulative gallons of coffee snorted through my nose when I get the giggles with my morning reading…
  • The Urban Misanthropist–a love story with Librumia, who married him in red tennis shoes, and an introduction to their “Ellie in the Belly” (whom we would be honored to babysit after her arrival–with humble thanks for the thought!–if only we didn’t live so far away)…

To each of you Sunshine Award recipients, we hope you’ll entertain us by answering those questions and bestowing some sunshine on the next generation of awardees.  Thanks for keeping me in smiles & sunshine!

Posted in Writing

Blacked Out, and Snowstorm-Driving for Dummies

In my drinking days, that title would have heralded a very different kind of post…  But these days I’m Sober and it’s the internet that was Blacked Out yesterday.  In my case, not just Wikipedia, but the whole damn web.

Probably everyone who tried to use the web yesterday became aware (if they hadn’t been already) of the ridiculous legislation coming up in the U.S. Senate, the ramifications of which could cause massive shut-downs of all kinds of sites.  Wikipedia and other sites voluntarily “blacked out” for the day to bring to people’s attention what it would be like if sites on which we depend were knocked out of circulation.  Google featured a blacked out ribbon, but (thank heavens) kept their site functional–I would have been at a loss to get my day’s work done without it.  If I hadn’t already had an opinion about the SOPA/PIPA legislation, my relief at finding Google still active yesterday would have cemented it.

Bessie Buick says "ouch"

I have a lot of writing to catch up after my days on the road this week, so I got up early to hit the writing projects–and to watch the local Winter Storm Warnings come to life with fat flakes obliterating the yard in a matter of minutes.  Just in the hour before Keoni left to take our son to school, we had several inches of  new snow in the yard–too late to call a Snow Day, but we were all wishing they didn’t have to venture out in that.  Unfortunately, an Idaho driver’s license requires neither a “snow skills-test” nor an IQ minimum, and a storm like this will leave the landscape littered with slide-offs and newly dented vehicles.  Sure enough, an idiot driver pulled onto the slick road right in front of Keoni, without even looking, and with no room to stop without clipping him. The guy’s (rather puzzling) exclamation as he jumped out of his car was, “Hey, I was already moving!”  Um, yes–and you shouldn’t have been…  (Time to review the Idaho Driver’s Manual: “In Motion” does not equal “Right of Way”…)

Keoni finally made it home more than an hour later (from the school that on most days is a mere twelve minutes from our house) in possession of the Idiot’s insurance information and the name of his first-born child…  and an aching knee, having stressed his surgery-site with his urgent attempt at braking.  The day’s crashes weren’t behind us, though–our power and internet connection crashed next.

The power came back on pretty quickly, but our internet was down for a good eight hours, as if God were joining the protest of the SOPA/PIPA legislation…  We live well out of town, not near anything “important,” so on a day when the Boise emergency services are going haywire, I know our connectivity is way down the priority list…  (On the flip side, the “plus” of living out here during a storm is that there’s no reason to worry about shoveling all this snow!  The kids have snow-boots, and the geese and coyotes can just fend for themselves!)

what to do when the internet crashes

It’s amazing how powerless and cut off I feel without a web connection!  I enjoyed the first few hours–finished the crossword puzzles in the papers that had accumulated while we were on the road, made some headway in the book I was just sent to review…  And then began to get antsy about not getting my WORK done. 

Next scene: Kana is hunched over the laptop with her (very old) Blackberry in hand, trying to look up the information she needs on the crappy-crummy internet view on the dinky Blackberry screen.  I think this Blackberry was the very first even to offer internet, which was exciting at the time, but compared to the smart phones out today, it’s next-to-worthless…  Stubborn determination knows no bounds, but I must say this is not an effective way to work. I finally surrendered, feeling a little cross-eyed, and resorted to the next-best (or perhaps the better) plan for a powerless afternoon: a good nap in kitty-company!

Last night I got an email from “Fight for the Future,” an organization protesting SOPA/PIPA, and I’d like to think the day’s blackouts may have had an effect:

Today was nuts, right?

Google launched a petition.  Wikipedia voted to shut itself off.  Senators’ websites went down just from the sheer surge of voters trying to write them.   NYC and SF geeks had protests that packed city blocks.

You made history today: nothing like this has ever happened before.  Tech companies and users teamed up.  Tens of millions of people who make the internet what it is joined together to defend their freedoms.  The free network defended itself.  Whatever you call it, the bottom line is clear: from today forward, it will be much harder to mess up the internet.

The really crazy part?  We might even win.

Approaching Monday’s crucial Senate vote there are now 35 Senators publicly opposing PIPA.  Last week there were 5.   And it just takes just 41 solid “no” votes to permanently stall PIPA (and SOPA) in the Senate.  What seemed like miles away a few weeks ago is now within reach.

Maybe our esteemed Legislators are actually reading the “Driving the Country” manual…

Posted in Family

A Battery-Operated Halo, and an Award or Two

Grandy with Christian & Elena last summer, just after their river-rafting trip

We had a joyful houseful last week for the holidays–my parents visiting from northern Idaho AND our three youngest kids.  Last year at this time we had lost all custody rights to the kids due to our alcoholic relapse, so we’re fully cognizant of the blessings of having our 15-year-old with us full-time, and a joint schedule with the youngest two.  The best Christmas gifts can’t be found in any catalog!

My folks are known to the kids as “Grandy and Boboo”–Grandy because my mom said she wasn’t ready to be called “grandma” or “granny” or any of those old-lady-labels, and Boboo has stuck ever since two-year-old Christian invented the tag for  “Grandpa Bob.” So Grandy & Boboo brought “Santa” to our house–and in addition to science kits for Christian, doll clothes for Elena, and books for both, (and gift certificate for Kapena–because who can shop for a teenager?!) they got for us a pair of lights to install underneath the kitchen cabinets to illuminate the counter.

The little lamps are activated by touch–you just press on them to turn them on, which is super-convenient when I’m groggily fumbling for the coffee pot in the dark before starting on an early-morning writing assignment!  Just now, when I leaned across the counter in the pass-through from the living room to smooch my cooking hubby, I bonked one of them with my head and accidentally turned it on.  Contemplating the suddenly lit bulb above my head, Keoni politely asked if I’d just had an idea?  I told him this is the only way I’ll ever appear to have a halo…

Awesome Blog Content Award

I certainly don’t qualify for any halo that doesn’t come with batteries–and a better person than I might be trying to remedy that fact by making Resolutions regarding various Very Bad Habits.  I’m not a Resolutions kinda gal, though–if I’m honest about it, I like some of my Very Bad Habits (which is no doubt why they’ve become habits). Instead, I’d like to celebrate what is now my all-time favorite list of New Year’s Resolutions–posted this morning by Becoming Cliche–by passing along the Awesome Blog Content Award to her, and to some other Awesome Authors-of-Blogs.

First, I’d like to thank Restless Jo, who honored me with the award, and who is very deserving herself!  And I’m honored to forward the tribute to some of the (many!) bloggers who keep me smiling:

There’s some fine reading among those blogs–I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!

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Candle Lighter Award

We had a massive hail-and-thunder storm the night before last…  Lightning so close the whole sky was ablaze, thunder shaking the house, hail blanketing the yard in a matter of minutes…  And of course the electricity down!  I was grateful for those battery-operated lights under the cabinets to help me find our supply of candles.

Along similar lines…  I’d like to pass along an award to some bloggers whose sharing-from-the-heart keeps me inspired, particularly given the various challenges they face.  When the “electricity of life” goes out for a while, these folks can keep a candle lit!  My thanks to Diabetic Redemption and  Time After Time, both of whom gave me the opportunity to pass along the Candle Lighter Award.  I’d like to convey my deepest respect to the following Candles of the Blogging World:

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Kreativ Blogger Award

This next award, the Kreative Blogger, was really bestowed on my cat, Suzy, who corresponds in Hawai’ian Pidgin with Pedro the Cat at Maru Can Kiss My Furry…  But since Suzy is currently consumed with the determined pursuit of a spider, I’ll do the honors myself…  I’d like to commend the creativity (sorry–Kreativity) of the following bloggers:

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And lastly, I’d like to give a grateful shout-out to several people who sent me the Versatile Blogger Award.  My “forwarding engine” is running dry for the day, but I’d like to acknowledge the bloggers whose own blogs are so worth reading: “M” is for Marriage and Motherhood, MacKenzie’s Dragonsnest, Southern Sea Muse, Life on Earth, Help for the Heart, Diabetic Redemption, and Memoirs of an Evil Stepmom.

My thanks to all–and happy reading!

Posted in Family, Today's File

Inventory Item: Right Knee, Size XL

worst knee our surgeon had seen still in use

I’m writing from my hubby’s hospital room, where we’re “camping” for a few days.  He is in possession of a brand new knee as of yesterday (lucky 13th), and we’re learning that one size doesn’t “fit all.”  The grippy-socks they provide for patients only fit over the ends of his size-17 flippers, so he’s reclining right now with the generic set of socks pulled over the toe-ends of his feet like an impish pair of sock puppets.

The knee itself was pulled from the “stockpile” of extra sizes; my Hawai’ian Guy’s bones are so big they needed to install an Extra-Large Knee. (We’re grateful to learn that they evidently keep extra sizes on hand.)  The doc told me afterward that he’d never installed such a large knee before.  It was a second “first” for this doctor, who–despite his presumably extensive experience with used-up knees–told us on first viewing Keoni’s x-ray that his was the worst knee he’d seen still in a person’s body.

We did have to disappoint our 10-year-old, Christian, who wanted to bring “the old knee” to school for show-and-tell, as the hospital is required to dispose of the used body parts after surgery.  Sorry, Son.

I’m a little on the side of sleep-deprived, so rather than attempting a single coherent piece, I’m just going to share a few observations here before I go back to what I’m supposed to be writing for tomorrow’s deadline…

“My Idea of Camping is When Room Service is Late.”

My mother had that slogan on a Tshirt once (funny but false–she’s a Girl Scout and a skilled woods-woman who taught me plenty).  We’re referring to this as our “camping trip” because it’s definitely a departure from the comforts of home–but truthfully, the menu is decent, the “park rangers” are super-friendly, and (somewhat to the surprise of the nursing staff) we can snuggle quite comfortably together in the hospital bed… though of course there are ongoing interruptions all night as the dutiful rangers show up at regular intervals to wrangle the wildlife into a state of wakefulness and get blood-pressure readings from the arm which was wrapped around my blissfully (but briefly) sleeping self.  (See “sleep-deprived” above…)

a new zippered knee

“Chicks dig scars.”

That’s what Keoni always tells our fifteen-year-old football player when he comes home with his latest round of bumps, bruises, and gashes from football practice.  Time to test the theory on himself now: that’s a heck of a leg-zipper!

Yeah, I dig it.

My “Office” Environment Just Got More Distracting.

Lucky for me, my job can go with me wherever I go!  The hospital room has wireless internet, and I’ve got my daily freelance deadlines as always–no sweat, right?

I was sure I’d left myself plenty of writing-time to meet today’s noon deadline, and couldn’t figure out why it was coming along so slowly.  After all, I’d only paused for a few moments for the physical therapy session.  And another few moments to meet with the discharge planner.  And another few moments for the pain-management consultation.  And another few moments for the…  Okay, okay, I clearly need to budget more time to get anything finished here.  Tomorrow’s assignment had better get tackled tonight so I’m not sweating deadline again.  (See how resolutely I’m following through with that plan? Ahem. No, this blog is not part of tomorrow’s deadline…)

Call me Coach!

I’m ready for my whistle and clipboard!  I’m Keoni’s designated “rehabilitation coach,” so the dynamic duo of K&K has been stirring up mirth and merriment in the group physical therapy classes.  Happily, it’s a cheerful group of people who seem universally pleased by the prospects of their new joints, and open to a little humor.  Even ours.

When we got to the section of self-dressing (pulling hospital scrubs on over their own clothes for practice), the folks who don’t have in-home help or coaches got “reachers,” or extendable sticks with maneuverable grabbing-fingers at the ends, to help them with things like socks and pants that have to be applied to one’s person beyond the reach of one’s arms…  Keoni looked wickedly interested in the “Nifty Nabber,” but I wouldn’t let him have one because he wouldn’t promise not to use it for grabbing ME. I heckled him for a strip-tease when the group got to the self-UN-dressing segment, and the whole row of little-old-ladies (in various stages of “undress” themselves) were snorting in a most unladylike fashion as we all got the giggles at the new challenges presented by those basic items like socks and pants.

One of my coach-duties is the administration of injections to prevent blood clots and pulmonary embolisms, so I got my training today.  Sheesh, what a production!  I had to watch a ten-minute “procedural video” to prepare me for the complexities of…  a three-second stomach-stab action.  Okay, okay, got it already.

Walking Tall

Keoni has been in so much pain for so long, and he’s been walking with the stooped-over bearing of a much older man. He jokes with the younger kids that he’s so old he’s not their step-father; he’s their stumble-father.  Today’s field trip down the hospital hall, with the shepherding help of the physical therapist and the aid of a walker, was honestly not any slower than his pre-surgery pace.  But I’m joyfully noting that he has his own inches back.  He’s walking tall again, and at least the pain he’s experiencing now is attached to a solution.

Random Other Notes…

…Watching from our ninth-floor window, I have to observe that Idaho drivers have NO idea what to do with a traffic Roundabout.  Every entrance to the hospital-grounds includes a diagram explaining the “device” to drivers, but there’s a state of observable confusion going on below our window all day long.

…A.A. coffee beats hospital coffee, no contest. Though I was glad to have coffee when I peeled myself out of the hospital bed this morning to tackle my writing assignments.  It’s not bad if I remind myself to think of it as “camping coffee.”

…Keoni really does prefer being poked by needles with ink in them, but for the necessary evils of IVs and injections, the nursing staff has been very considerate in targeting un-inked areas of his arms.

…Suzy-cat is no doubt very put out with us.  We left plenty of water and kibble out for her, and our teenager (who’s staying with friends for a few days) promised to stop by for an attention-session, but I have no doubt we’ll hear about this when we arrive home. The electronic compression-pads on Keoni’s calves periodically inflate with a little electronic vibration, and when he was still groggy from the anesthetic, he thought it was Suzy cuddling up against his legs.  Now we’re referring to the compression pump as the “ghost cat.”

my cook's new-found "porn" channel

…Amidst all the electronic equipment in this hospital room, there’s one strange device…  What’s it called again?  Right, a TV.  We don’t have any channels at home (haven’t watched any TV at all in the last three years, except in rehab or jail) so this device is quite the novelty for us.  Keoni, of course, has found his own version of “porn”–the Food Network!  He’s jotting down recipe-ideas, so I have no doubt his “therapy” is going to include a quick return to the kitchen.

But I already knew that about him–I have a stool set up and waiting for him in our kitchen, so whenever they release us from Knee-Camp, we’ll pack up our little post-surgery slumber party and return to the comforts of our own bed and our cat and our kitchen. I’m already looking forward to some new recipes from my newly-tall kooky cook.