rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
I got a call from my storage unit in Stockton yesterday, where the caller said they noticed I did not have a lock on my unit, so they installed one for me and would happily add that fee to my monthly rent.

I said a few harsh words. Between this and [ profile] scrottie's debacle, I'm just about ready to give up on trying to store anything out here. I suspect the Phoenix area is just as bad. Regardless, I'll drive out there on Friday to take a look at things, switch businesses (assuming there's enough stuff left to justify it), and leave a detailed Yelp review. Based on S's experience, it doesn't even necessarily help to check reviews and crime reports because the police out here are busy dealing with all kinds of other problems.

I feel like people living in other parts of the country really have a hard time understanding these aspects of living out here.

But really, life is fragile everywhere. On Monday, a cousin of mine was out riding horses when her horse shied (or as my mom put it, spooked) and threw her off. She hit the back of her head and died from the traumatic brain injury.

I have 55 cousins on that side of the family, so I don't know all of them especially well, but certain events have made me appreciate that this particular cousin didn't have an especially easy life. Despite it, she put so much energy into loving and caring for the people around her, and it's crushing to think she's gone. I feel for her kids, who are all around my age. It could happen to anyone.
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
My dad's most-recent MRI follow-up revealed 2 new 1/2-inch liver spots. Hugely disappointing, but this is the nature of how cancer unfolds. He will start chemotherapy very soon, and now we're back over to "care" mode instead of "cure" mode.

I find it comforting at this time to think of Oliver Sacks (also, this essay, and this one, and perhaps I will be reading this one too).


Right now I also have a lot to process and think about with respect to applying for academic jobs and working on academic writing and plans for the upcoming year. During the conference I got partway through writing a reflective blog post on the subject, but too many people, too much to do, too many things happening.

Regardless: always hug your loved ones and tell them you love them.
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
I posted this to another popular social media site, but thought it might be worth putting here, too.

While I was home in Seattle, several people asked about how my father was doing, which made me think perhaps I should provide a more general update. All in all, 2016 was an eventful year. Early in the year, a follow-up monitoring MRI scan indicated that a small liver tumor had reappeared - I believe it was one that the liver surgeon was unable to find during his prior liver surgery or ablation procedure because chemotherapy had shrunk it. At that stage, the most appropriate action was "wait and rescan," which is what my parents did. Well, in the subsequent scan, there was an agonizing period where it sounded like another new liver tumor had appeared. My dad's oncologist said this suggested his cancer was incurable, so he would be shifting from "cure" mode to "care" mode and would start chemotherapy again. But then in another follow-up shortly thereafter, they discovered that this second tumor was actually the original one. Someone had misread the MRI. So he had a second tumor ablation procedure (they stick in a probe and fry the tumor), and no more chemotherapy. They haven't found anything new this fall, and he has recovered a lot of strength and energy in this post-chemotherapy era.

Having a close friend or family member go through this sort of health situation is challenging, but as some have pointed out, it can also be an occasion to realize gratitude. I am grateful to have a supportive community, and to have a chance to share at least one positive story for 2016. Also, hug and visit your loved ones every chance you get. :^)


..and as a brief follow-up, my Mom notes his next scan will be in February. I think it's important to recognize that if a person goes through an experience like my father's, there simply won't be a return to life as it was before the diagnosis. One lives with the spectre of the thing, which simply reinforces the notion that one must make the most of the present.
rebeccmeister: (Iheartcoffee)
Oregon Ice

Some parts of Oregon have experienced freezing rain recently. It made the trees stunningly beautiful for a bit, and also made me glad that someone else was doing the driving for us while we were on the train heading up to Seattle.

Not Mt. Fuji

From the bike ride up to the old Weston family homestead on the Enumclaw Plateau. It was chilly, but it neither rained nor snowed on us, and we got to see a wonderful view after we crested the hill from the Green River Valley. I somehow managed to forget that the bike ride takes a good 4 hours, so we accidentally missed the extended family gathering. But we did have a chance to hang out and catch up with a couple of aunts and an uncle. About a year ago or so my aunt and uncle D&D bought the farmhouse that my great-grandpa rebuilt (? I believe). Apparently, when my grandpa was 4 years old, it burned down to the foundation, and was then rebuilt in 1929 on the original foundation. For about the past 20 years, it was out of the family, and in that time it underwent some remodeling to where it now has an extremely ridiculous bathroom and a fabulous modern kitchen. We can't really complain about the bathroom - it has a huge shower with two shower heads, a nice big bathtub, and heated flooring.

But my favorite part is the basement, where you can see the old stone foundation (not concrete!) and the massive beams that support the upstairs. There's also a small, dark, terrifying room down there that used to be where my mom's cousins took their showers. The basement makes it clear that this building has history.

The family farmhouse is strikingly different from my grandpa's house, which was finally sold this past spring. If you look out of a certain window in the farmhouse, you can see my grandpa's barn, but not the house behind it.

I think the clearest way to describe the distinctions and relations between the two houses is to point out a couple of features. The farmhouse still has the original beautiful oak wood floors from when it was built - my uncle had them refurbished when they moved in. My grandpa's house doesn't have a basement, and is all utilitarian carpet and linoleum. My grandpa remodeled his house to add in a cramped second story to make enough space for my mom and her siblings, so all the rooms on the second floor are cramped attic rooms with barely enough space to stand up. In contrast, the farmhouse has a proper second floor with three big bedrooms. It does have a couple of "bonus room" spaces under the eaves, which remind me of some of the strange closet spaces and L's bedroom in my grandpa's house.

The farmhouse is the kind of house where there's ample and comfortable room for visitors. I think I'd find it too big if I lived there just by myself or with one other person. But I'm really glad it's in the family now and that I had a chance to see it so I can have a more grounded sense of the Weston family history.
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
I have learned so many different things in so many different categories from my mother, when it comes to how to live a good life. One of the things that I decided to wait for was to see how she would share the latest news about my dad's health on social media. She likes to accompany her stories with a photo, whether they are stories about wonderful visits with her grandkids, or difficult stories about grief and loss. I am grateful that she speaks up because she is a centering voice for our family.

So, the news, which we are all still digesting. When we learned that my dad's 6-month CT scan results prompted a follow-up MRI of his liver, I had to turn over this course of events in my mind. As much as I hoped the CT scan had raised a false alarm, some cynical part of myself thought, "At this stage they are probably using the MRI for confirmatory information." Two of the three places appear to be tumors, while the last appears to be a scar from liver surgery.

Now, the cascade of thoughts. We have been here before, and this now-familiar territory is filled with a different sense of unease. The first time through, I could make a joke about "semi-colon surgery," not yet knowing of the depths of sickness that would occur at the end of the first round of chemotherapy. Even in those depths, I could come up with a plan for something whimsical and ridiculous and impossible to look forward to at the end of the second round of chemotherapy.

The thing we are confronted with here is simply that the road ahead is unknown, and unpredictable. I can remember so vividly the experience of the unfolding of my dad's early diagnosis, and how plans for that liver surgery had to change, as much as we all just wanted everything to be over with so we could move on to other things.

For some reason, my photo to go with the words is simply of this little patch of grass in Nebraska that I ride past every day on my way to work. Sometimes things happen, and we don't quite know the metaphor or life lesson or meaning, and that's okay.

Nebraska grasses
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
There are a lot of different emotions surrounding this just-completed bike ride from Seattle on down to Portland.

the full story )
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
There have been a few more moments of quietude today, which is a relief.

First things first, I got to meet [ profile] thewronghands IRL yesterday! And also [ profile] project_mayhem_. Our conversation reminded me, to some extent, of [ profile] gfrancie's description of our in-person conversations, where we wind up fitting in a good year's worth of discussion over the course of one brief visit. I love meeting LJ people in person because I know you-uns are folks who have long attention spans, and that sort of depth of knowing a person is meaningful for me. Elements of today's Questionable Content are related (although I don't know many people who are as strange an experience as Emily, heh).

This morning, my father and I got a ride from my father's friend A, to go and pick up the tandem we're planning to ride down to Portland. What a shop. Here's the owner, putting air in the tires. I think we'll manage better pictures of the tandem itself in upcoming days. It definitely turns a few heads.

Great source for innovative bicycles

There are a few more photos of bikes out in front of the shop. If you wish to see them click the above photo.

After a bit of fiddling with mechanical matters and some brief parking lot test rides, we carted the bike back to the house, had some lunch, and set off on a real test expedition.

So, let me tell you a bit about riding a hybrid recumbent / upright tandem. The stoker is the captain, controlling the steering of the front wheel with a set of connecting rods. The recumbent passenger provides the "landing gear," keeping the bike balanced and upright when stopped. We only almost fell over once! This particular tandem, the Opus 4, provides independent coasting for the recumbent rider, but the stoker is forced to pedal whenever the recumbent rider is pedaling. Not really a terrible compromise. The frame is adequately sturdy such that we didn't experience terrible wobble, but the wobble was noticeable. The riding experience is odd for the recumbent rider because he sits on top of the front wheel, but it's not an insurmountable problem and improves the overall turning radius and sense of handling for the stoker-captain.

So the more serious test-riding. We stuck with a mostly-flat route, out along the Burke-Gilman trail to Fremont, then over the Fremont Bridge (bike counter accurately determined we were two bicyclists), along the bike path on the south side of the Ship Canal, and out to the Myrtle Edwards Park trail. Over the course of things I determined that attempting to use the granny gear chainring just caused chainsuck, and that starting and stopping at every light in downtown Seattle traffic was slightly less than pleasant. Thankfully, drivers were patient with us and I just happily hogged lanes and rode all over the place, as appropriate. It was hard for me to take my hands off the handlebars, so my dad was in charge of signaling which direction to take, and I think he enjoyed getting to signal and then just having the bike go in the direction signaled.

This thing is definitely going to take work to ride 200 miles, but I'm pretty sure I'm up for the challenge. I'm hoping my dad will be able to provide "engine assist" whenever we encounter hills, and will otherwise be able to relax and take it easy, once he's gotten his lumbar support pillow installed.

Unfortunately, I learned one last thing the hard way: when there are chainrings on both sides of the bottom bracket, it's necessary to roll up both pants legs. Methinks I will now convert these pants, with their fresh cuff tear, into knickers. Sigh.

Family coffee
Mid-ride coffee break at Espresso Vivace, plus preview of part of [ profile] sytharin's ride costume sitting on the table, wink wink.


Jun. 9th, 2015 01:56 pm
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
I have been thinking about my Grandpa Weston, lately, my last grandparent who died at age 91 last December. Sometime after he passed away, I learned through my mother that there would be some inheritance money. Grandpa Weston worked hard to be fair to all of his children, so the inheritance has been divided evenly among the six siblings. In turn, my mother has shared her portion of the inheritance evenly with her three children.

The portion gifted to me will be sufficient to pay off the remaining balance for my student loans, which I (amusingly) owe to my parents. This is an incredible gift for me, to be freed from debt, and to have experienced the wonderful benefits of my (expensive!) college education. My brother and sister are way more financially prudent than I have been, and both decided to attend cheap in-state schools that were happy to snatch them up based on their academic aptitude. I cannot un-do the decision to attend a private liberal-arts college all the way across the country, but I frequently reflect on the path it has put me on. I cannot escape the notion of "Academic pedigree."

That University, plus my high school, plus my PhD-granting institution, incessantly send me stuff and try to call me on the phone, asking for more, more, more money.

I didn't expect anything by way of inheritance from Grandpa Weston. He was judiciously generous with his family throughout his lifetime, and I have written him many a thank-you note for the $20 gifted at both Christmas and birthdays, along with stories of my plans for the money, none of which I can remember anymore. Right after his funeral, I received one last round of the previous incarnation of that gift, a small stack of silver dollars (not the real silver ones, slightly after that era). Grandpa Weston grew up during the Depression, part of a large farming family, and the legacy shows. In his later years in the Enumclaw house, he was unhappy about how the sprawling Seattle suburbia was causing his water bills to skyrocket. My Mom recently told a story of how one of his first-final Emergency Room visits caused him to agonize over how high his medical bills were going to be. Thanks to the good health insurance available to retired state employees, however, his out-of-pocket costs wound up being something like $6.

In the time I knew him, Grandpa Weston was happy leading a fairly simple life, dominated by hiking and fishing adventures, plus a few good games of cribbage. One of the last hikes I ever went on with him happened the summer after Zack disappeared, up to a clear mountain lake where we found oodles of pollywogs in an ephemeral pond, and watched salamanders swimming in the crystal-clear water:

Mt Rainier Pollywogs

We ate wild blue huckleberries, and bright-red salmonberries, while thinking about Zack. You can see Grandpa Weston here with hiking poles:

Mt Rainier, Summer 2006

From this point onward, he experienced continuing declines in mobility until at last he came to rest.

What to make of this family story. Grandpa Weston's lifetime was one of those periods of the "self-made man" ; his family a family of immigrants, come to the US to seek a better fortune than was available in Denmark at the time. He grew up without much, and never quite knew what to do with the excess of things accumulated over the course of his adult lifetime. He became tired of life in his old age, but remained sharp and witty, and liked to tell jokes with a wink. I think he's been amazed by all the different things his grandkids have gone on to do and become, remaining non-judgmental in the face of the many different paths we have followed. I seek to carry that spirit forward.
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
I had a chat with my mom this afternoon. My family tends to communicate directly only occasionally, because we are all the sorts of people who get wrapped up in our own day-to-day lives and projects. But it's still good to call and talk periodically.

In our conversation, we talked about one of the threads in the whole stuff-management department that I've been mulling over lately: what to do with the old mementos. My mom's case is a bit more challenging than my current one, because of our respective ages and positions within the family. This week, she'll head out to my grandpa's house to try and work out a plan for what to do with the piles of old photos and associated historical items from my grandpa - not just my grandpa's things, but his father's things and stuff from his siblings as well. This effort gets complicated by sibling dynamics, unsurprisingly, but forces the general question - what to do about these sorts of things throughout our lifetimes, and once we die? As I commented to my mom, one of my main methods of dealing with these things has been to put them in a box in the back of the closet, for later. That's basically what my grandpa has done, too.

While living with friends these past six months, I haven't had such a box in the closet. Instead, whenever I receive letters or cards from friends, I put them up on a small bulletin board in the corner (this one). When the bulletin board fills up, I remove old cards and put them into a small bag - my portable filing cabinet. The bag got full, so last weekend I went through the items and (mentally) said thank you to the ones that had brought me joy and comfort and then let most of them go.

But what of those old family photos? I continue to be deeply appreciative of my mom's method of employing Facebook - she posts photos with accompanying stories. The stories also need to be kept in association with the old photos, in order to retain meaning to our family.

It used to be that the sharing of old family photos was limited, because the materials and technology to print out copies were sufficiently expensive. But now, I have relatives who want to scan in many of the old photos. And on some level, they should. That could mean that all twelve grandkids can have an equal share in the stories and family heritage. But where does it stop? At some point, it all goes from family heritage to deluge of irrelevant minutiae, and we start to tune out.

I have the same feeling about digitizing one's entire music collection (although I'm still kicking myself for failing to digitize the hourlong Sounds and Songs of the Humpback Whale before sticking the CD in the moving pod). Cheap storage doesn't always lead to a higher quality of life.

*(X-Files reference)
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
As [ profile] sytharin wrote about the occasion, my grandpa's funeral was the "World's doofiest family reunion to send Grandpa Delmer on his way. All the cousins. So much love. So many inappropriate jokes."

slightly macabre and fairly personal, proceed if interested )
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
I think my mother's correct in describing the extended-family dynamic as "chaotic."

Today is my grandpa's funeral. I have this sense that this is the last time I'll visit my grandpa's house. The visit is making me have to think carefully about my relationship with material things. The stated agenda is, "During this visit, take any of the things that you would like that aren't contested."

I'll go and check this morning, but I believe there's still a huge collection of antlers in the attic of the Chicken House (barn). I haven't been out in the Chicken House in a long while.

Grandpa was a Depression-era child, so he's been conditioned to hoard things. I kind of think that, in some respects, he also became blessed with an abundance of things, without ever really knowing what to do with them. I can understand how that would happen if one has one's first child at a young age - that leaves less energy and time for contemplation. And he grew up in a large family, which probably had its own attendant chaos and lack of organizational structure.

It took me a while to remember, this morning, in the relative quiet, that I could just take pictures instead of taking physical objects.


Dec. 27th, 2014 09:46 am
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
I arrived back in Seattle yesterday morning. The flight from Dallas to Seattle offered several spectacular views, including one of Jackson Hole and the Grand Tetons, all frosted creamy white with snow. I sat on the side of the plane that faced north, so no views of Mt. Saint Helens or Mt. Rainier, but the clouds and other Cascade mountains were sufficiently interesting - a high, thin band of clouds, then the tops of hills and mountains, then thick, puffy fog below.

I will backtrack to note that [ profile] scrottie and I enjoyed a wonderful, quiet, relaxing Christmas the day before. Here you can see us enjoying a picnic in the sunshine at Lake Bryan, and if you click through there are a bunch of other random photos of our other activity, flying the Jolly Roger kite:
Enjoying tasty picnic foods

Anyway. Home again. A number of emotions come to the fore - concern about my father's poor health being a big one, although he's trying to be a good sport about it all. I think I caught the same plague that's continuing to torment him - sinus troubles plus a nasty, nasty cough. That means he's been sick for about four weeks. I have *almost* shaken this thing off, but when we touched down in Seattle I noticed that it flared up again. All those times people talk about the things we need to do to keep in mind the young, the elderly, and the immune-compromised apply to my dad right now. He was originally scheduled for liver surgery on the 30th, back when I left town, but that's postponed indefinitely while they sort out the current bug. He's been through a course of antibiotics (though the main part of this plague appears to be viral), and yesterday he visited a pulmonologist and received inhalers with albuterol and beclometasone. Those are at least making it easier to breathe.

Then, the other emotions. This is the first time in a long time that I've been home with my two siblings, without anyone else - [ profile] scrottie stayed in Texas to mind the animals, and my sis-in-law and the kids are in CA with their other grandparents. My brother likes to proclaim a theory that family members revert to the ages they were when they flew the coop, but I'm not so sure that's true anymore.

Sunday and Monday will be dominated by family activities - a birthday bowling party for my aunt L on Sunday, attended by most of the family, then the celebration of my grandfather's life on Monday, along with an all-family photo. We haven't taken one of those photos for a very long time. Then, back to Texas again.
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
My last remaining grandparent passed away this morning, at around 3 am. Overall, I think our family experienced many blessings during his transition back to stardust, so while we will all mourn his passing, we will do so with the knowledge that he felt ready to go and was surrounded by loving family and lifelong friends. More than anything, I'm glad he was able to spend his final days at home.

I'm grateful I had a chance to visit with him over Thanksgiving as well - it was pretty clear that he was beginning to slip away. I just regret that he and my dad won that last cribbage game.

Tough times for my family right now. Several of my dad's siblings are experiencing some serious health complications, on top of what my dad's currently going through. Liver surgery's scheduled for the end of the month, but my dad's been fighting this terrible cold ever since Thanksgiving. It's a nasty one - I'm still experiencing some of the lingering aftereffects, and I'm in good health. Get plenty of rest and eat well and take care of yourself during this season, folks.

Our land

Dec. 14th, 2014 09:43 am
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
My last living grandfather is in his final days. He's surrounded by loved ones, giving vigilant attention, which, as an uncle has noted, is exactly what he would want. I'm ever more grateful that I was able to visit him twice while home over Thanksgiving. The living memories are so, so important.

As I process my emotional response to this, I'm remembering a phrase shared by a native American woman who felt called to work on explaining to us non-natives some distinctions in our respective worldviews. She said, "The earth is our ancestors. We are walking on the ashes of our ancestors."

Once again, Mt. Rainier factors into this story. My grandfather has been moved, at his request, back to his home of over a half-century. He's in the living room, where Mt. Rainier is present to greet him. He has gone out to visit the mountain just about every year of his life. It has been a rich, fulfilling life. In the way of Western civilization, none of the family members have been especially interested in and committed to the project of inheriting the land he's lived on and cared for and cultivated. So, in the way of Western civilization, the lot will be sold once he passes on. Given on to a new set of memories, without much attention to the history and legacy of the space. I suspect the sad, old apple tree will go, too. Maybe the blueberry bushes will be spared, and the pears. The house's septic system is in poor shape, so the house will probably go, too. The barn, with its distinct creosote barn-smell, long disused, slumbers. In many ways, it's the barn that's the center of that piece of land.

And with the house and barn and land gone, our memories will be loosened to roam free, like ghosts. They will be called back on Mud Mountain because it is so big and sloppy that not even westerners could turn it into a thing to be bought and sold.

I think, too, about the phrase uttered by the native woman when I read about this decision. Just as Texas is leaching its earth, so is Arizona. We Westerners still aren't any good at thinking in cycles (birth-life-death-rebirth), or thinking beyond our individual life spans of profits and incomes and wealth and power and force and violence.


Aug. 13th, 2014 11:51 am
rebeccmeister: (Iheartcoffee)
I am trying to envision ways to think about chemotherapy.

It's a generalized term, so in some respects it doesn't actually mean a whole lot without knowing more of the details of which drugs are used, and how. But what's the idea behind it?

The analogy that comes to mind at the moment is that it is like putting one's body through winter. The short days, the cold, the darkness, the snow - it's a phase of the cycle of the year when things wind down and enter stasis. In the warmer climates that I have inhabited in recent years, there are often winters where temperatures don't actually get down to freezing, such that in the subsequent spring and summer, there are explosions of insect populations that can be a nuisance and danger (think mosquitoes). In contrast, the freezing years kill the insects, beneficial and otherwise, and the frost-sensitive plants, beneficial and otherwise. There is a cycle of dying, but then also a cycle of rebirth and an experience of spring. We don't really question these seasonal cycles, but then again, we don't have a choice as to whether or not they happen.

We humans have dumped and poured so many resources into biomedical research. The agents we use to chase after specific conditions have been refined to a mind-boggling level. It's a far cry from the early discoveries and uses of antibiotics (although that's a category of compound that's in crisis). It's incredible. A lot of our efforts are couched as being at odds with nature, relying on powered language - "control" being perhaps the least-charged way of expressing the situation.

But this often reaches an extent that does more harm than good - think of people growing up in too-clean of houses, who develop allergies because their immune systems haven't had enough chances to learn to distinguish bad from good. People learn to value things by having direct experiences with them, so those who grow up in built environments have different values from those who grow up in combinations of different settings. We still grapple with the consequences of technology.

Our collective response to many things is the message, "Choose life." Is this borne from a fear of death? Or is it borne from a sense that this experience of life is a precious thing, not to be taken lightly, to be encouraged at all the fringes? I don't think these are mutually-exclusive. Nor is the collective response an easy one - far, far from it. I think of decisions and actions taken to not have children when I type this, or decisions and actions to euthanize, but in many cases these are derived from a sense that there are times when we must balance our response against a knowledge of suffering.

The ability to think these things is a gift and a burden.
rebeccmeister: (Iheartcoffee)
What do you do when you have to cope with difficult emotions?

not short )
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
Through an accumulation of events, I've shied away from putting too much personal content out on teh internets, but there are certain points in one's life where things don't all happen in neat, tidy packages, and so here I am. From the sounds of things, Dad's surgery yesterday went as smoothly as it could, so now he's on the long, slow road towards healing for the time being (still without fully knowing about certain parts of this whole "cancer" puzzle, but hey, much of our lives is about the unknown, right?). It still weirds me out a bit, making the private, inner workings of someone else's body the focus of so much attention, but it's all part of the experience of life, I suppose, particularly as we get older and more fully realize our intimate dependence on others. Hardest when we return to a stage where we can no longer wipe our own asses. He shared a poem/prayer with friends and family that he said is giving him comfort through this process, which I'll put at the end of this post.

At certain points, our minds respond to difficult situations with emotional numbness. I have a partial sensation of speaking and thinking through a sort of thick styrofoam, tinged by the sadness of loved ones all being very far away. I had one of those moments yesterday where I was a bit shocked by the notion and remembrance that life has continued to advance without me in Phoenix, just as over the years I've come to watch the city of Seattle move on.

But in the meantime, things continue to move and grow here, as well. The thunderstorms and heavy rains which drenched me last Thursday on an aborted bike ride out to Lake Bryan meant that the boatyard grass has grown again. Yesterday I was ever so grateful to be bicycling out to the lake, if only because it would be a welcome distraction through the wait while Dad was in surgery. Practice consisted of a continuation of equipment maintenance, so while others worked on cleaning out the boats and painting the oars, I fired up the lawnmower and shoved it around the boatyard. The mower was such a beast that it made me miss Mr. Pushy, although I don't know if Mr. Pushy could have handled the grass out there. At least it wasn't as crazy as two summers ago, when we had to tackle it with weed whackers because it had gotten so overgrown. It's always amusing to go out to the lake and work hard, because for most of the other people in this region the lake represents a destination for idle recreation. Rowers, however, are all people who relish the hard work itself on some level.


Wakes are for the dead;
even the term leaves me cold.
I usually prefer to deny my death,
which comes by inches,
but comes relentlessly all the same.

Another signal from my body,
another sign of age,
has visited me, with its foreboding forecast
that l’m growing older.

I look with envy at the young
and am often tempted to try
a wizard’s wonder herb
to restore my aging body
to its former age of agility
that was free of aches and pains.

Today I must mourn,
aware that those who hold enough wakes
die with dignity
and even dance with death
in a Chronos childhood play.

To wake with great love each small death and loss
and then move on to what life offers next:
it is thus that i can honestly rejoice
at another’s youthful beauty.

I sense that by observing enough wakes
I'll awaken, to my surprise,
to a new, mature magnetic beauty
that radiates from those
whom time has tanned into a handsome hybrid
of the eternal youth.

Hard news

Aug. 2nd, 2014 05:39 pm
rebeccmeister: (bikegirl)
I am going to post briefly here, about some news of note in my life, for context. This past week, my dad was diagnosed with colon cancer. We don't know what stage, yet. One of the harder parts of the process to deal with, the whole not-knowing. Surgery to remove a section of his colon on Tuesday, CT scan results soon. I have to wonder, does it feel strange to have a lot of people inquiring into the detail of one's bowel conditions? Probably. I, for one, am going to stick with an emphasis on Poop Strong. I know we could all cry into our teacups, and maybe that will happen at some point. But for now, Poop Strong.

What I DO know is that it makes me remember how important my father has been in my life, and how much I love him.

Then cue all of that thinking about one's mortality and such. Plus some thinking about how amazing the human body is, in its capacity to do so many different things, from thinking to building things to riding a bicycle incredible long distances.

Plus, I would say my dad is at least partial inspiration for the Eat-Poop-Ride concept.
rebeccmeister: (Default)
There's so much to write about, but as these things tend to go, there's also not much time to write at the moment. [ profile] scrottie and I have returned to the Greater Phoenix Suburbopolitan Area, from our time in the Land of Softies, aka California. It was a whirlwind trip: two and a half full days of conference, then another two days of family time at my brother's wedding (which was beautiful and hilarious, as you might expect). I'm not going to tell you much about the conference at the moment, unfortunately, because I've had to talk about it a lot and have wearied of explaining it. It had some cool elements, and some elements that made me feel skeptical.

Now I'm here for a few days, and then off to Colorado for another wedding. I have mixed feelings about this trip. Somehow, it's looking like one other person and I will be trading off driving there, a good 14-hour haul. Let us remember how much I enjoy driving. If we don't drive, that means no carefully home-brewed beer made by three different groups of people will make it to the wedding. Now, I like the idea of the home-brewed beer, but it's not my gift to be giving. Ehh, it's hard and makes me sigh. I just hope the travels go off without a hitch.

In the meantime, there are projects in town to keep going.

OTOH, we did get to make jam while in the bay area (raspberry, blueberry, strawberry). It's just not right to buy berries in Arizona. I also got to visit a cool fabric store in Berkeley, and got to visit with family and friends, and this was my only chance to do so this summer because I won't go up to Seattle (le sigh, I fear I will pine away).

With that, time to get back to the remaining aspects of catching up. If anything really important has happened over the last five days and I should know about it, well, leave a comment!
rebeccmeister: (Default)
Well, I managed to make up a bunch of krumkake last night, with D and L's assistance. We also ate a bunch of them, and they were delicious.

For some reason, I have developed a tremendously strong urge to teach myself how to make whole-wheat croissants. I think part of this obsession started with a conversation that wasn't really a conversation with my family. My younger sister [ profile] sytharin wanted to know more about my dad's obsession with whole-wheat pastries (as evidenced here). I think she was perhaps more interested in defending the position that there are occasions when white flour is just plain better.

I don't know if I can verbalize a counterargument. I won't even pretend to verbalize a counterargument for my father, because he can speak for himself. But I can declare that whole wheat flour has somehow crept into my subconscious, as a standard for something that is truly satisfactory. My father and I had a brief conversation some time after this initial discussion about a coffeeshop that was a block from our house while I was growing up. It was called The Daily Grind, and was run by two European women. It featured pastries, sandwiches, and coffee, and the pastries were made both with whole-wheat flour and white flour. Their version of scones differed from all the other scones I've ever had, and were delicious. So were their whole-wheat cinnamon rolls.

Sometime when I was in middle school or thereabouts, the owners sold the business. The new owners just didn't have quite the same magical touch for baking, and eventually the business was engulfed by the neighboring Italian restaurant.

Anyway, as with cupcakes, it's pretty darned difficult to find decent croissants in Arizona. I know of a few places closer to downtown Phoenix that sell oversized croissants that are too fluffy. They taste pretty good, but they can't hold a candle to some of the best croissants available in Seattle. So I might as well try to learn what's involved in the process, and start making my own.

The whole-wheat aspect will mean that my end product will be in its own qualitative category, as it won't compare to the ones I've eaten most recently (which were made with white flour). My family used to get whole-wheat croissants to eat for breakfast one morning a week, though, so I will have some personal basis for comparison.

We shall see how this goes.


rebeccmeister: (Default)

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