PAHO, Part III…

[Continued from Yesterday.]
While getting the lad his first meal since swallowing a play penny, my cell phone buzzed in my pocket. It was my mum this time. She was calling to tell me she and my dad were on their way to bury my granddad’s remains. He died last fall and was cremated, it has just taken some time to coordinate everyone who was to attend the burial at the family plot near Lake Berryessa.

Mum just wanted to see if in the next couple of hours I wanted to have them say a little something on my behalf out there. Well, okay. I’ll do my best with a fussy baby in my arms and a penny in my boy’s stomach. I suppose the fussy baby part was my fault for testing our alarms.

Finally, finally, finally it was nap time. I was in the middle of feeding the lass, so the lad was on his own for getting settled in. When he’s on the ball, he’s amazingly self-sufficient. Thankfully, that was the case. He got himself into bed, read for a while, then turned off his light and laid down. For all the insane stuff he does, he can be truly amazing.

Fed and happy, the little lady was passed out in my arms. The time seemed as good as any to come up with what I wanted to say to Granddad. But rather than writing down something to have read, I decided to record my own message. Here is where cell phone technology can be a wonderful thing.

I recorded my voice to be played back at the appropriate time. I simply said that I was glad that he had a chance to meet his great-grandson and I hoped he knew his great-granddaughter was on the way. And I promised that my children will love riding the rails as I do, a trait that he passed to me and that I am proud to pass to his descendants.

Admittedly, it took me a few takes to get the recording right. I kept getting somewhat choked up, particularly since I was recording all this while holding his great-grandbaby in my arms. Eventually I got it to where I wanted and sent it to my mum. I knew she could handle it since we try to send her recordings of the lass when we can.

I was really surprised at how strongly the moment struck me. It had been some time since Granddad passed, so my mourning subsided. However, I think the idea of saying goodbye orally, but not there in person, made it tougher. These are the times that make it tough to live so far from my side of the family.

Having sent my message and my children napping, I felt it would be a good idea to eat something. I warmed up some tortillas and started snacking. The peace was nice. Just me in my kitchen.

My cell buzzed again. Bad plot device, anyone? The doctor’s office was calling to schedule an appointment. Apparently after checking over the boy’s information, the doctor wanted him to come in to talk to him and check him out directly. So I cut nap time short and loaded up the kids to the doctor’s office.

We were there maybe twenty minutes. I really like our pediatrician, and I did appreciate him wanting to see us anyway, knowing our son is prone to not showing as severe symptoms as other kids would. At least we weren’t waiting around forever and the chat with the doctor was good. He was just really heavily debating whether x-rays should be taken. The concern was nice, but we decided it was unnecessary. We were all pretty certain that it was just a plastic penny that would pass.

The remainder of the day was wonderfully uneventful. My mum called again to tell me that all went well and was lovely for Granddad’s interment. She said my message came out nicely and that most people heard it. I was glad to be a part of it in some small way.

After dinner, I went to my favorite liquor store to pick up some wine. I picked a 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Louis M Martini, properly grown in St Helena. I toasted to Granddad with my wife and a good glass of wine. Then I set to work on this huge post that, for the reader’s sake, I broke into three parts.

I made it through this short, yet incredibly thick muddle of my life. It sometimes amazes me that I do. Usually I am not very orderly or clean, and always feeling dangerously under-qualified for the position. And rarely, especially right now, do I have empty time enough to sit and ponder it all.

C’est la vie~

Some People Bother Me…

My wife has come to watch the hit reality series (aren’t they all?) “So You Think You Can Dance”. I don’t much mind. I’m not a connoisseur of dance, but it’s neat to see all the elements out there. And it’s nice to see a reality show out to progress and encourage people to better their art.
The biggest downside? There is this judge. This woman always sits in the middle. Big hair. Glittery outfits. Only shouts. Southern. Screams every chance she gets. Never anything constructive to say.

Given these clues, what is she?

Give up?

C’mon, I think it’s obvious.

Televangelist.

Oh, also on this show, the British hostess (for finding American talent, bloody ridiculous) is terrible too. But not as horrendous as asking for money for Christ’s followers to have more hairspray.

PAHO, Part II…

[Continued from Yesterday.]
Finally we get to today. It started out normally, I got the boy off to school and the little lady and I did our morning routine of watching The Daily Showon my DVR (Best. Purchase. Ever.) during her breakfast. I don’t mind that routine of feeding her while getting an easy dose of Stewart and/or Colbert is nice. They are definitely the only TV news I watch.

I had put in a load of laundry before taking the lad to school. When coming home to check on it, the laundry room was flooded. A-bleeping-gain. Apparently, the mighty power of my socks and unmentionables was too much for the washer to bear. It whanged itself into the neighboring basin well enough to knock the sponge on the ledge into the basin, plugging it up, blocking the washer’s only drain.

Again.

So the washer’s backup drain, the basement drain, came in handy. Of course, there’s the issue that the basement isn’t exactly beveled toward that drain. Have I mentioned I have some things to work on in my house?

Moving on… A couple hours later, my cell buzzed. M was on the line. “Hey, Hon. The daycare just called.”

“Oh?” Oh crap, what trouble is the boy in now?

“He swallowed a penny.”

Silence. Then my mind raced. Is he okay? I’m sure he’s okay. Next big questions: Really? How? Is he really that stupid? You sure it’s my kid?

“Okay… So now what?”

Well, M told the daycare I would be getting the boy, and called the triage nurse at our clinic to find out whether we’d be heading toward the clinic or the emergency room. I got the little lady changed and out the door.

I nearly forgot to mention, when my wife called I was in the midst of tearing out the second of the two alarms, and installing the new one. Of course, as with so many great features of our house, the old one was mounted with only one screw. Goody bloody gumdrops, I needed to take yet another trip to the hardware store. This time, to buy a screw. A screw that should already be there.

With daughter in car seat and screw in my pocket, I came into the daycare office to see my son chatting away with the manager and one of the teachers on break. The first words out of the lad’s mouth were, “I’m not in trouble. I choked on a penny.”

I really think Bill Watterson said it best: “Being a parent is wanting to hug and strangle your kid at the same time.”

After getting more of the story, I loaded back up the car with both he and his sister. She fell asleep, and since I was waiting to hear back from the triage nurse, I decided that driving around was the best option. I know it’s not the most eco-friendly, but I work with what I’ve got in this stage of parenthood. This basically translates to, ‘If it’ll make my baby sleep, I’ll spray aerosol cans into the air for two hours straight.’

I got more information from my son. Apparently, they were playing outside. He got in trouble for fighting with two other boys (the little cretin) as a game. Apparently, as they were headed in, another kid gave him a toy penny. Being without pockets, where’s the best place to hide a plastic penny? Your mouth, of course! You keep your clenched fist in a dozen-kid kerfuffle to yourself. Taking a drink of water, while still concealing the penny in his yap, my son swallowed it down.

Brilliant.

Still driving around the neighborhood, thoughts rattled in my head. The triage nurse hasn’t called me back. My son is breathing, talking, and ignoring me. The lass is asleep. And I need a screw from the hardware store.

So let it be known, dear reader, that after picking up my four year old boy from school for swallowing a play penny, I went to Menard’s. Yes, California folk, Menard’s is huge out here in ‘Sota. Huge. And yes, the name is still funny to me after two years of living out here.

I plopped the girl’s car seat onto the stroller, took Ignoring Boy in hand, and drug them around the hardware store in a desperate attempt to find exactly the same screw as the one I put in my pocket an hour before. I pulled it off, thankfully finding the small box of screws for 87 cents rather than the big box for five bucks.

Getting home and still no word from the nurse, I went ahead and called them back myself and got through to one. The nurse asked me about what exactly happened and went through the boy’s symptoms. There weren’t any, of course. He was bouncing around and talking with his sister. Then she had me call poison control to get more information on what could come out of the play penny. Since it was plastic, there were only concerns about it getting lodged, not poison. A real penny would be an issue. So it was decided that the lad did not need to go in to see the doctor and I would just be checking poop for a few days.

So I got the boy some lunch and I wrapped up installing the new alarms. I’ve gotten pretty good at replacing electric fixtures, and the alarms weren’t much trouble, once you have the right alarms and correct number of screws. However, testing them was another issue. The tests were fine, and the basement now yells out whether it detects a fire or carbon monoxide. However, some little ladies don’t much care for the sound of the new alarms. So it became a bit of a trial to relax her after twice testing the alarms (they interconnected, so if you test one, the other will fire as well to ensure they’re talking.)

[To Be Concluded…]

Parenthood, Adulthood, and Home Ownership…

Here’s a recap of my week, which should be over by now, but it’s only Wednesday bloody evening.
On Monday night, we all snuggled into our beds for some rest. At 1:45, a loud and terrible buzzing rang out throughout the house. Disoriented and worried, my wife and I got out of bed to find the source. It took us a bit to figure it out, as it was a sound neither of us had heard before. It was the smoke detectors going off.

There was no reason. Looking around, no smoke, no flames, nothing. In my groggy state, I even turned on the television to see if there were some rolling power surges messing things up. I also checked out the windows to see if neighbors were having issues. Of course, none.

Looking back now, I apparently originally thought that the source of the sound was either the thermostat (I flipped some switches on it and for a brief time the sound stopped) and the doorbell chime box. I did not look up high enough while in my impaired state to figure out it was the smoke alarm on the ceiling above those two devices. M went downstairs to take care of the lad who had finally awoken and started to cry. The lass handled all the chaos better than I thought she would.

Sleeping after all that was essentially not an option. Not only were we a little high-strung after the whole event (goodness knows my heart was pounding like nothing I’ve ever known), but the lad joined us in our bed. I have never been able to sleep with a small wriggling creature constantly kicking me around my groin or bum. Go figure. I eventually gave up as I usually do and slept on the floor next to the bed to get a couple measly hours of sleep.

The boy did not sleep a wink since the alarm. Still, he wanted to head off to school, so we did our morning routine of getting he and the lad ready and shoved off. Thankfully, the little lady up and slept hard after dropping off her brother, and thankfully again, the big ol’ hardware store was open as of 6:30 in the morning (good gravy that’s early). So she and I went and bought two new smoke alarms, the main thinking behind this being that even if the current ones worked, the sound was so horrendous and unidentifiable that it still justified their replacement.

The lass and I went about our normal business after that, namely me writing down all the ideas I have for work around the house and eventual remodels. Well, I started writing them all down. As it turns out, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. But that list is for another time. Probably many times. Seriously, it’s a huge list.

Later that evening, once my wife came home and we were all relaxing, I started fiddling with our circuit breakers to find the one that connected to the smoke detectors. As it turned out, my breakers hadn’t been updated since 1987 when my house was built, and a good four of them were described on the chart inside the box door as ‘Lights’. There was even another double breaker not even marked! I didn’t dare test it for fear of turning off the Metrodome.

Here began much trial and error and a Sharpie to illuminate the knowledge gleaned for the future. At least I got to the point of finding the correct breaker for the alarms, though at the expense of my microwave’s clock for the time. I set to work and broken open the God-awful plastic packaging on the new alarms. I felt like I was trying to rip off a CD player. That line, by the way, almost makes me feel like I’m dating myself, but then I’ve been watching fifteen year old Simpsons episodes, so I don’t right care.

Once up the stool, taking apart the old system and preparing to put in the new, I beheld… Wait, what the hell? This new one doesn’t connect to wires? I’m entrusting my home and family to a circle powered by a AA battery? Hell no. I bought the wrong damn alarms. I was absolutely pissed with myself. I’m getting annoyed with myself just remembering it.

I went back and bought new ones that night. But since it was after dark and I, strangely enough, was tired, I left it for the next day. This, my dear reader, was a mistake. I kept awaking all night at the slightest noise, thinking that alarm from Hades was going to eat my cats.

[To Be Continued…]

What About Me…

This post was meant to come out of my week-long hiatus, but I felt the news of George Carlin yesterday trumped my own little thoughts from last week.
I am nearly done with one of my summer classes already, and my mum has already come and gone. It was a nice visit, though I do worry that my family is a tad inert in its lifestyle right now, making us boring hosts. But she got to spoil the lad and cradle the lass, so it can’t have been that rough.

This past blogging break, I of course had plans of grandeur laid out in my mind. Namely the objective was to get into a smooth little routine with the kids now that I was coming off of work and staying home. The wife has returned to hers after maternity leave. I was going to do this, and this, and this, and get the ball rolling. Instead, I did nearly nothing. The following is at least what I learned, or at least wrote down.

There are a couple basic facts about myself I seem to have trouble retaining awareness of. The first is my ability to concentrate. The second is my need for sleep in order to function.

The ability for me to concentrate hinges greatly on the quality and quantity of noise around me. I have been doing my best to teach the lad that fact so he will be patient in waiting my direct attention. I learned at Uni that I cannot effectively think or communicate if more than one input, direct or indirect, is coming at me. The same goes for most music. I will turn my aural focus toward a melody or lyric line the same way I would if someone was talking directly to me. It is especially a shame that, as a result, I cannot listen to jazz while reading or writing. At some point I will have time again for just sitting around and listening to the greats.

Similarly, I now have the added challenge of needing to concentrate or communicate over my infant daughter. There is blatantly an issue of not being able to hear a speaker over her wailing. My ears have always been very fine, but have difficulty being discriminatory. I generally take everything in. That aside, I need to be able to quickly discern her sounds as either urgent or not so as to not interrupt the flow of my thoughts. I know this skill will take some time to acquire; it is just a little frustrating until then.

Having a baby certainly does not help my existing condition, if it can so be called. Luckily, the lass is great. I am beyond lucky to have a baby such as her. So very, very lucky. That being said, I need to better take advantage of the times available to me to actually work on my projects. These times are essentially only when she is sleeping and the lad is occupied or also sleeping.

So I have evenings and very early mornings. For certain, I need to be rising with my wife in the morning, showering, and doing those things I can only do in solo serenity. That’s not totally difficult; it is merely a matter of changing my habits a bit.

The really hard part is to find time to have a relationship with my wife. Our body clocks naturally tick at different rates and she doesn’t turn into walking bile when lacking sleep. If I am to be getting up at five in the morning, I should be in bed by ten at the latest. That’s a small window to our marriage into. I love her and miss her.

Farewell…

I was driving back home from taking the lad to school this morning and started hearing the name George Carlin on NPR. I didn’t quite catch what started the start of piece, but they kept mentioning him in the past tense, saying he was due to receive the Mark Twain award for humor this year. Hopping online, it confirmed what I had thought: George Carlin died last night. He passed due to heart failure.
This is a tough loss for me to take. I never knew the man, never even saw him perform live. Yet through illegally downloaded mp3 files, he touched my life.

I listened to Carlin’s wit with our often ridiculous language and culture with my friends as we went through our teen years. I recall ten solid minutes of laughing with Warren the first time we listened to Carlin’s “Airline Announcements” bit. The way he toyed with the expressions and phrases of our English language was masterful and insightful. It always had an appeal for me and my stickler ways.

I remember telling my mom about how funny this Carlin guy was, and she replied, “Oh, that was the stuff my friends and I would listen to.” My mum’s coolness factor jumped up a notch just then. It did the same when going through my parents’ old record collection and I found out she was a Beatles fan.

George Carlin was definitely one of those influences out there in the world that warped me just right. I shudder to think of what my life and the rest of the world would be like had he not been around.

There will be many obituaries and tributes commenting on the achievements of one of our history’s greatest comedians. This is my small homage to George Carlin. I will always remember the way he made my own life brighter, the tears of mirth, the endless quoting language with my friends. And I am excited to see my children discover him in my own music collection.

It is from him I learned the differences between Baseball and Football, that dogs cannot perceive time, the seven words I can’t say on television, and that ‘preheated’ is a meaningless fucking term. And best of all, I learned that my own brain droppings could someday be of value. I am most grateful for that.

I will miss you, George Carlin.

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