Monday, October 15, 2018

Thank you all

The presiding official swore us in and read the charges. Laura took a deep breath and like a real Lytle said she made a conscious decision to not make such a bad decision again. 

Laura was offered the opportunity to join Drug Fee Clubs of America, which I've mentioned before. Their "out" to drugs is "No thanks, I'll be tested." Laura rejoined with a no, she would be expelled.

They were impressed she had completed her 24 hours of diversion. As I've said, the Food Bank is twenty minutes away and she had a week off. She was reinstated as of tomorrow morning, and told to report to a counselor for some Wednesday morning duties.

I thanked them for reinstating her two days early. I said it had been quite a shock to both of us; she had missed far too much school, and I had every confidence in Laura's good sense we would not be repeating the episode.

The officials said they would work closely with her to make up her work and the end of quarter exams she missed. Thank you's and good-byes around and we left.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Diminishing responsibility

I started this blog so many years ago.  I wanted to write of my family history, so I put together the rudiments of the craft and started with a kitten I rescued at an art show in Pittsburgh.

There were no rules for me. I see I posted every two or three days, whenever I had material ready. I worked at what I published. I like proper grammar, good and useful punctuation. In the beginning I wrote mostly of my heritage. It didn’t interest my children at the time, so I wrote it down, to have it. It still doesn’t interest them.

With less and less responsibility to family, but some spark left, I find myself giving over my time to getting hurt and current events. The former seems to be in eighteen month cycles, so I have time to plan. My next trip to my endocrinologist will include adding bone strengthening meds. I guess I’m old enough to no longer care no one knows how they work or where they retreat to live in the body.

Another thing I do to compensate for the complete blank left in my brain by the bus in Washington DC is write stuff down. Not just anywhere, on loose scraps of paper, but on my desk pad. When the “stuff” is accomplished, I line it out. When the pad is a complete scribbled mess, I pull it off and start afresh.

I did that yesterday. But there were several un-lined-out lines. Ideas I’d jotted down to pursue.  Some are still worth the effort. Some are mired in our current effort to slog through to election day. Part of the malaise, so to speak, and worth few further words because we’re spending our effort on keeping our eye on the prize.

Here are some of my unlined jots. You may see them again. Someone else may like them and run with them. I will be months filling the pad with scribbles, and I doubt these jots will be copied to the next pad.

Time exists so everything doesn’t happen at once. Space exists so it doesn’t happen to you.

I think that is a remarkable bit of existentialism. I think Kierkegaard, or Sartre, if only I could still remember what they said and how to put together an argument.

There is justice if you fight for what is right.

When this came to me, all I could find to write it on was the sticker on a folder. Later I took off the sticker. It looked like this, after it jumbled around on my desk. But, I deciphered it anyway.

This seems to me a distillation of the daily lives of my parents and grandparents. Slow and steady wins the day. However, consider how many have been fighting too long. I could trail out an end to this post by listing, Native Peoples, African Americans, disabled, Palestinians, islanders succumbing to global warming, Syria ...

One brave Republican.

After that I wrote: Susan Collins. I am so ashamed.

Bull Connor only put 2,000 children in jail.

I am sick at heart and to my stomach. We must sweep everyone ahead of us to the polls in November. This is not a throw away mid-term.

Friday, October 12, 2018

On opening things

Last week, for the first time since last July, I quit the car and went into the grocery store.  To celebrate, I went to the dairy case and began putting pints of interesting ice cream into a shopping bag (it’s my job to carry in the shopping bags).

This is our whole food store, remember, and it is only great good fortune they devote a quarter of one side of a freezer column to ice cream.  I hoped to see a good chocolate and peanut butter go by, but I didn’t. The spoils were decent, however, and over the week Laura and I have indulged in my ice cream plunder. 

Today, for lunch, after I sent her off for a haircut, I took the last pint out of the freezer. Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey. It had a plastic sealer around the lid that did not easily twist off, so I carried it intact to my desk, bypassing the kitchen trash.

Over the last decade, my hands have become increasingly useless. For a long time I squeezed a blue rubber ball to increase strength, but I have no idea where the cat last parked it. But be honest, I never really found a solution, and didn’t work hard at it.

First it was just hard to hold a pencil, turn it in my fingers, draw a line. I eased from cursive into printing, and then to printing block letters. Now I quite unapologetically use the keyboard, on the whole. 

I don’t bother much with knitting; since the bus accident a year and a half ago, my brain wanders away and my fingers don’t move fast. Weaving still works for me; my wrist is quite strong enough to send the shuttle through a shed. Now, my shoulder says “Enough” at the end of a bobbin. I’m taking care of that come Wednesday.

I have purchased most every aid known to augment hand strength. A gripper for lids was a wonderful find. The kitchen scissors get through most everything. But the plastic seal on my pint of ice cream obviously would need released by my razor sharp desk shears with the lethal point.

The deed done, I eased off the lid. That’s not easily done, either.  I set it on the desk, and uneasily eyed the ice cream. It neither looked nor smelled vanilla. Back to the front of the carton, I read “banana ice cream”. I ask you, who makes ice cream from bananas? They officially leave the food chain about age three, save possibly for boys. I don’t care if they are free trade bananas. That does not alter the taste.

Seeing chunks of black chocolate (I did not check its trade status) and walnuts (which I don’t particularly like), I tried a bite.  And a bite and a bite and a bite.  I gave it a quarter of an inch opinion test. I put back on the lid and returned it to the kitchen.

I bet the only reason I found it there is that Laura does not like it, either.

The haircut

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The ship of state remains afloat

I learned how to use Google calendar. Really use it, on the spot, at the end of my fat finger. I can stand in front of the reception desk like any millennial and tap the phone screen into oblivion until the calendar bends to my will. Then I put the phone back in my pocket, the cane in my left hand, smile, thank the appointment giver and move away.

Laura has to next February to complete twenty four hours of community service, but what with ten days on her hands and the food bank twenty minutes away, I think that requirement may be completed in time for the expulsion hearing on Monday.

Last weekend Laura went out in the country to help a friend wind down the garden. There were potatoes to dig and kale and chard to harvest. Yum, yum. Community service that would have happened, irregardless.

But, what with the food bank twenty minutes away, I find I am slotting the rest of my life between waves. There's only one car to be had, you know, and I'm not about to be doing double driving getting Laura from one place to another.

As I've said to friends who question me, No, I have not punished her. She's sixteen, and apparently enough an adult to be considered one. I find I still tell her what lane she will need to use when she drives to the therapist, for instance. "When you go, just stay in the right lane. When you turn in, look very, very carefully to be sure there is no more traffic coming up the hill. When you leave..." 

That's surely punishment enough. When she comes home, she grins and says she used all the correct lanes.

I've had to slot in doctor visits (pre-admission testing), flu shots tomorrow, and a visit to the vet today. Poor Toby has been mizerable beyond belief, sulking, scratching his hair into great clumps on the floor.

He has an infection in each ear, which is a repeat of a couple of years ago, and, for the first time since he moved here, fleas. Such ignominy, the vet combing him and finding, for the first time in four years, flea poop! Adding insult to injury (no offense, Jan), he probably brought home the fleas from boarding with that dog, Jake, at Aunt Jan's house. Waiting his turn to see the vet today, Jake came bounding in,  wiggles and barks when he recognized Laura and Toby. Toby cannot face it, yet.

That's all the news that's fit to print. Just one day at a time, packing in community service hours and approaching the hearing Monday, at one. Three hours of packing food tomorrow, then Saturday is passing out water to runners in one of the marathons through the park. Fresh air!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018


Oh, how I’ve learned over the last several years, general anesthesia and sleep and I do not mix. My sleep pattern goes straight to hell. Or maybe it’s out the window or down the road. I don’t know.

Over the years I’ve made adjustments to put in eight hours.  Once, long ago, gloriously, I simply slept eight hours. Then I’d wake for the bathroom, sometime in the night, but found I only slept an extra hour to compensate.  

A go round with general anesthesia, though, and my sleep cycle is a mess.

In the two and a half months since I broke my leg, I’ve not had a good night’s sleep. Sometimes I sleep four hours, then three, then two, then one.  Sometimes two hours, then three, then one and one and one.  Or any crazy mix at all.

Once I slept six straight hours and thought “Oh, boy, it’s over! I’m back on track!” Wrong.

In real news, Laura put in another morning at the food bank.  She says all the people she works with are old, “like they’re retired or something. We don’t talk much, unless there’s a break in what we’re doing.”

Tomorrow morning I have to go to the hospital for a pre-admittance exam, and in the afternoon to see my counselor, Kathleen the Wonderful. So, no opportunity for Laura to go off to do service work. She’s kept up with English and ASL, and physics, but still has not heard from her trig teacher. Perhaps that’s part of the punishment.

Nevertheless, I suggested she email the unit principal to see if he will see if there is a problem. Grandmothers are troublesome like that. Just one poke, though.

I’m here making chit chat until a reasonable time to go to bed. It’s only six thirty.

I do need to take a nap. But, here’s one thing I’ve always wondered. Do you know when you fall asleep. How?

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Roller skates, flu shots and ice cream

Laura picked up an easy community service assignment yesterday; she did an afternoon shift at the annual Peddler's Day rummage sale in town. It was not too busy, Nancy told her, because someone put up a tent in front of their sign. I'm sure she took some good natured ribbing from Peter. She came home with a lovely pair of roller skates for five dollars.

This morning she's signing up for slots at the Regional Food Bank. How easy it is to make time next week, when she's suspended anyway.  

How much I am learning. I should straighten out one detail, which may or may not satisfy a family member. The other granddaughter who lived here has legally changed her name, which I know, and I use. Her new name is Blake. In the last post I thought about which to use when I referred to the time she lived here. I settled on her birth name, as it would make sense to readers without explanation.

This modern age of identity fluidity has also produced a descriptive vocabulary. The discarded name is now referred to as "deadname". In reading it, I thought Blake was asking I not block her from commenting. But Laura tells me it simply refers to using her birth name. So much to remember.

Laura and I went to a PFlag meeting the other day, and will go to more. Laura is comfortable in the setting, and if people can excuse my misuse of gender pronouns on occasion, so am I. Remember, Laura's father is gay, and the children have been involved in his life for the many years he has lived with his partner. 

Interestingly, all four children identify as some sort of gay. Laura tells the circle she is pan, and passes to the next. It came to me some time ago that all four of them play on a field I do not know, which is both a strength and a hardship in living with them. That's plural "them". Laura and I have settled into a comfortable arrangement, knowing we have no place else to go.

Once I got flu shots as a matter of course. I spent forty odd weekends a year in the thick of "the public", and was sneezed upon by child and adult alike. And a few dogs, too. I remember the utterly ill child whose contagion sent me to the doctor Monday morning in hope I was not too late. So, for going on thirty years I was inoculated. I caught nothing, not even a cold.

Then, maybe ten years ago, I came home from work the day after, fell into bed and slept until I had to go to work the next morning. And so on the next year and the next. I quit flu shots. 

But this year's prognosis scares the hell out of me. Eighty thousand fatalities in this country alone! That's a gross number of sixteen hundred per state. When spread over population, that means a whole lot less for North Dakota and a whole lot more for Ohio. I'm on for a flu shot.

Laura and I went to the drug store yesterday for shots. There is a giant snafu with her new coverage, and her shot is totally out of pocket. We passed; we'll go to our regular doctor in all our free time this week. We bought ice cream on the way out. I've had better.

Friday, October 5, 2018

More to learn

I was working on who knows what at my desk one day, and had a phone call to retrieve Laura from school. It was the end of the day; school busses were leaving, but I was asked to pick her up from her unit principal’s office.

In the morning, before school, she and three other students left the school grounds, a violation of school rules, crossed to a park and smoked a blunt. 

I am informed a blunt is a cigar sized wrapping, emptied of tobacco and filled with marijuana. They returned to school, high, and continued their day.This blunt also contained “White Out”, a synthetic marijuana. One girl had an adverse reaction, called 911, and the game was up.

The unit principal very kindly met me and took me to an office with Laura. A police man came in. Of course, possession is some degree of criminal. The officer said Laura had been very honest with him. Her consequence at this point is a ten day suspension with a recommendation to the superintendent for expulsion. The officer asked we come to police headquarters to discuss a diversion.

Diversion programs are used here in the juvenile courts. I am aware of them, but completely unfamiliar. They are intended to divert the offender from using drugs. We have an appointment Friday with the officer to say if Laura will join their diversion program, which, of course, she will.

She also has an expulsion hearing week after next. This is at the school. I understand the complete seriousness of what Laura did. My own brother died of the consequences of marijuana and angel dust, an animal narcotic. He was 28 years old. I get it.

Laura belongs in school; it is the center of her life. The amount of work she will miss up to October 18 is staggering. I cannot imagine recovering. Nevertheless, these are the rules and consequences that we signed at the beginning of the year. The prohibition of drugs and consequences for possession and use are there. I last recall actually skimming the hundred or so pages, back when Emily enrolled.

The Diversion meeting was today. It was straightforward. Laura must comply totally, or the arrest and drug charge will be referred to juvenile court. The diversion agreement is four months, ending on February 5th. We both signed.

The Expulsion hearing will be Monday, October 15th.

That’s it. The worst is over for me. Laura is just at the beginning.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Goodbye for a time

I must leave for a time, with best wishes to all. I know where you live and hope to visit.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Lo ball, and other news

I looked up "lo-ball", to be sure I was using it correctly. Properly, snort, spit, guffaw. Kavanaugh will sit on the supreme court. Justice will be rewritten, some in my lifetime. All you people out there in the streets better keep at it, year after year after year.

And, in other news, cards were point for point, hand for hand today, until the last hand, when I was dealt probably my best pinochle hand since college. Nancy and I cleaned up. I'll run this by Nancy: I'll see if she will switch partners one time. I'll be Peter's partner. I will not say one word to him for the entire game. 

I saw the other young surgeon today, and he believes me, that I can get around perfectly well using my good right arm to support my broken right leg. "Or, you'll just use your left arm", he observed. "You probably can't hurt it, since I'm screwing it in, no glue". 

Surgery is set for two weeks from tomorrow. "Can we come play cards in the hospital?" Peter asked. "Peter, I scheduled it for the day after! We will play cards right here."

And finally, another homecoming, another dance, another dress.