Saturday, October 28, 2006

It's NEW Iron Day at My House.



Now, I know this probably won't be exciting to many, but bear with me.

I killed another iron this week. This one was a very nice Shark I bought at Target on sale for $60. I know you can get one for probably $15 or $20 these days, but I iron a lot with all the sewing I do, so I need something a little more robust.

But they don't really make irons that last that long anymore, at least not in the price range I'm shopping in, and not with the amount of abuse I heap on it. So I'm stuck buying a nicer iron that dies within a couple of years.

For no particular reason, every time one my irons dies, I feel compelled to take it apart and see what's in there. This one actually has, or shall I say had, a circuit board, which is an improvement over my last iron.

The thing that bugs me about irons is strictly from the seamstress' point of view. I use an iron -- a lot. And it's an integral tool to good sewing, because I need flat seams. And I hate every automatic shut-off iron on the market, but that's all that's left anymore. Unless you have an electronics degree or something, there's no way to shut off the shut-off feature, so I get stuck with constantly finding my iron cold because I left it for 10 WHOLE minutes while I sewed something.

I have a backup iron. It came with the house we live in now. You can imagine a bunch of bachelor college guys living here, somebody's Mom bought him an iron and he left it here because as a musician, he probably never ironed anything, so you can also imagine the quality of this thing.

I used it a couple of times, but let's just say, it's crap. It doesn't get nearly hot enough.


So, Today is New Iron Day! I just went to Target this morning and sprang for a new Rowenta Professional Iron. Here is my new toy! I'm like my husband after a trip to the Sears Craftsman Tool store, when he gets to buy a circular saw or a beltsander or something...

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Sometimes Perspective Comes on Bus #52

Yesterday was hard. Hell, there are a lot of hard days for me.

I struggle with the loss of our son. I struggle the big questions like whether I could weather another pregnancy in hopes of having a baby.

I mourn Jacob in ways most people will hopefully never understand.

His due date of Nov. 11 looms large on my horizon. I've scheduled a couple of days off before that Saturday just so I can be home, cry at will, and make the memory book that awaits to be created so I can at least have a proper memento.

Today is the anniversary of my Dad's sudden death, so Autumn already has its pall for me, so it's easy to feel sorry these days for all I have had, and all I have lost.

Yesterday, as I got on the bus home, I took an earlier bus than usual. I had a few minutes beforehand at the stop, and stood a ways away from a guy who always smiles at me like he's waiting there just to stop the bus so that I can get on. It's a little weird, but he never speaks to me, and always just smiles. I write him off as a Forrest Gump of sorts, nice, but not someone I'll ever get to know.

This couple is waiting at the bus in intense conversation. The man carries a garbage bag, I presume of his personal belongings, and the woman carries a small box of her things. I don't peer too closely to see what's in it, but most people downtown carry a messenger bag or maybe a suitcase, since those of us with homes don't carry plastic bags or boxes, so I think they must be homeless.

When I get on the bus, I sit behind the couple. iPod plugged in, I'm listening to tunes, but I focus on the homeless couple in front of me. He appears to be sweating, and she wipes his brow. I don't really notice it the first time, but I do the 2nd or 3rd time.

They're younger, maybe in their 40s, and I notice whenever she talks, he smiles, even as she wipes his brow yet again. He must be sick, I think. I wonder where they're sleeping tonight. I find myself wishingh I carried cash so I could give it to them and be an angel in the midst of whatever it is they're going through. Instead, I just watch.

Sure enough another wipe of the brow comes, and I pause the music to see if I can overhear the conversation. I can't, but I can tell she's speaking so soothingly to him, even I smile. There's almost a visual beam of love that goes between this couple, I find myself feeling guilty for watching them and try to mind my own business.

And with it comes a little perspective. For all I go through in this life, I have a husband, pets, and place to call home. But also that love exists no matter where you go if you have the right person beside you.

And for that I am truly thankful.

Welcome, Little Man

My friends Doug and Susan were due the same week as we were with Jacob -- I was due Nov. 11, and they were due shortly thereafter.

Susan gave birth to their son, Lewis today. He's 6 lbs., 15 oz, about 20 inches long, and both are fine.

Today is also the anniversary of my Dad's death. When Doug told me they were going to the hospital on Monday, I secretly (and perhaps selfishly) hoped their child would be born on the anniversary of my Dad's loss, just to bring something happy on the day that has been filled with sadness for me.

It's bittersweet tears that I shed tonight -- Doug and Susan have been through so much like us in their quest to become parents, and today their dream came true.

Many sweet wishes for a long and healthy life for Lewis, and congratulations to their parents.

They've walked through fire for this sweet day.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Denver's First Taste of Winter


The First Snowfall Posted by Picasa

I work in downtown Denver, in a building overlooking the Civic Center Park, a great expanse of green space between the Denver City/County Building (shown in the picture), and the State Capitol Building.

Our offices are new, and if you go up on the 10th floor, where they could have put yet another executive's office, they put a beautiful patio and rest/break area for all of us to enjoy.

Across the street and park is Daniel Liebeskind's new creation -- the Hamilton Building, a new modern art wing of The Denver Art Museum, and said that given our city's beauty, friendliness, and love of the arts, that "Denver is America at its Best."

Oh, how I agree.

Last night we got our first real snowfall in Denver. We had about 3 inches on the ground this morning, and I knew when I got to work that the view would be beautiful, so I brought my camera with me.

In the background you can see the snow-covered foothills of the Rocky Mountains, which I've come to love as much as the Pacific Ocean.

It's funny to me how visitors from the coast (and we recently had one) lament the fact that we don't have saltwater here.

No, we don't. We don't have the smelly ocean.

And granted, I love time at the smelly ocean when I go home to the Coast. But the same feeling of great space is achieved when you drive a few minutes out of Denver into what are now my beloved Rockies.

Rugged, unforgiving, and willing to kill you if you turn your back on them, just like the ocean, the Rockies are a place that are uniquely Western. They were written into America The Beautiful for a reason.

I love the snow in Denver. Don't be fooled, we get plenty of it just like Seattle gets rain, but just like Seattle, it's not that bad.

We get a few inches, and by noon it's half gone. We get a few feet, and within a day, the roads are cleared enough to get to work, even if your driveway isn't.

There's a funny thing here too -- we get a few freak snowstorms like this one so early in the fall, then another one or two in November and December, but January is freakishly warm (60s, sunny) for the most part, and then BAM.

Spring is when the snow really comes.

In 2003, we had 3 feet of snow fall 4 days before my birthday in late March.

The first year I came here, the locals informed me of the short growing season at this altitude (It's about Mother's Day through part of September), so the day after Mother's Day when I planted all my flowers -- it snowed 7 inches.

The latest I've seen it snow here is June 2nd, and I can't say that was a thrill either.

But the funny thing is, you CAN see it coming. Weatherman says "60, 40, Snow" and you know...but the good news is, it'll be 70 the day after, and gone by the time your evening commute comes.

Yes, we get strange weather here. There's a reason Denver was founded, I think. The Settlers came out, after days or weeks across The Great Plains, took one look at the Rockies in front of them and said, "This is good. We can stay here."

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Black Holes

Brian and I went to The Denver Museum of Nature & Science last weekend. A gal from my work gave us free tickets, and Sunday afternoons we try and have a date, so it was time to go visit the DMNS.

The Gates Planetarium has a number of Space-related movies they show in their planetarium, and we watched Black Holes, narrarated by Liam Neeson.

It was so cool to see how scientists have been working on trying to see the formation of black holes in space, and how Albert Einstein's theories about black holes have held up over time. With digital technology, they flew us into space and showed us how Black Holes are what's left of collapsed stars, how many stars there are in just our galaxy, and how lucky we are to be in a relatively "quiet" end of the Milky Way.

There's something oddly comforting about space travel movies like that. As they took us out into space and back home again, I found myself thinking about how incredibly small we are, how vast the Universe is, and how violent and yet beautiful space is.

Due to our recent loss, I've thought a lot about death and dying, and why some of us live on for years while others have such a short time. Watching Black Holes made me feel like I understood better the grand scheme of things -- or the lack of a grand scheme, and how we each have precious little time on this planet.

It just gave me amazing perspective. On one hand, I feel like a blip of human matter in an unimaginably large Universe. On the other hand, I felt the significance of our lives on this planet hurtling through space, and the importance of making the best of whatever time we have.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Troublesome

I have a problem I'll call troublesome. That's the most polite way I can say it.

Nothing in my life now is normal. I have been forever changed by the loss of my son Jacob.

I am very troubled by the fact that so many people expect "normalcy" out of me right now.

I'm so far from feeling normal.

Grief over the loss of a child is the worst I've experienced. I can't say it's the worst thing because I don't want to tempt fate and have something even worse happen, but it's hard to imagine what could be worse. I'm forever changed by it, and feel like I will NEVER be the same. I didn't lose a pet. I didn't lose a grandma or a distant cousin. I lost my son, and his name is Jacob.

Yet the world spins through space, people go back to their daily lives, and they're supposed to. Because most are lucky enough that they're not walking a mile or even a foot in my shoes.

But a little understanding when I "don't do normal" would be nice.

How, exactly, does one ask for that?

I feel it shouldn't even have to be said. But then if you've never lost something so near and dear to you as a child, how can you possibly understand?

At a time when I perhaps should be cutting some people some slack because they haven't been there, I don't feel like it. I don't feel like I should have to explain myself. My recent loss should speak volumes.

Grief is always there. Sometimes it's so consuming I feel like I've hit the bottom of the pool and am still disoriented enough that I don't know which end is up.

Today is the day that I would be entering my 9th month. Two weeks from now I'd be expecting my son "any day now." One month from today is his due date. Thanksgiving is coming, and the due date of my first baby comes with it. Both Thanksgiving and Christmas this year should be filled with me being exhausted with a newborn. But none of that will happen. The anticipation of that alone causes me grief, much less having to get through it all.

So my life will be in the coming weeks. Every happy-happy-joy-joy over the holidays will be met by the fact that my son was lost this summer, and I should be experiencing it completely differently than I will, but it is not to be. The promise of parenthood was stolen from me yet again, and so I feel separated by the normal joys of today, the holidays to come, and far beyond.

So if you know someone who's gone through anything close to what I am currently going through -- heck -- even if you just find someone behaving in a way that you just don't like for reasons you don't understand -- cut them some slack if they don't act how you expect, show up for what you want them to, or say what you want to hear.

It's not about you.

'nough said.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Travel The Earth!

Wow!

Tonight I Googled the Earth.

If you click on the title of this post, you'll find Google Earth -- a program you can download onto your computer that allows you to literally fly around the world looking at everything down to your driveway.

I zipped from looking at my house, with my car parked out front, to New York City, Cape Town, South Africa, to The Vatican City and The Colisseum in Rome, to London's Buckingham Palace and Eye. Then it was on to The Forbidden City in China, to Rio de Janeiro, then off to see the workings of Mount Kilauea in Hawaii.

What a visual treat!

Just when I was lamenting the thought that it would be a while before I could travel again, I found something to scratch the itch for another trip.

Try it!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Sharing Pyewacket

My husband reads to me sometimes. It's something that started in the early days of our marriage -- where he would read to me at night for a few minutes because he wanted to share a story with me, and it helped me to go to sleep.

The first book he read to me was The Hobbit -- the precursor to the Lord of The Rings series.

After that, he read the entire CS Lewis Narnia series to me, first starting with The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe, including The Silver Chair, The Horse & His Boy, and Prince Caspian.

But recently, he decided to read an old book called Pyewacket to me. It's a children's story about a bunch of cats who live on a street, presumably in England, who decide it's time to get rid of their owners so they can have their houses to themselves.

Their plan works (in large part to the coincidental happenings in the human world that make their people move), but not before their hero and ringleader, crusty old Pyewacket is injured in an accident, and his return to the street they live on comes into question.

My favorite thing about the story is the way the cats understand some human speech, the kind humans who help Pyewacket, and the kitten Pete who longs to be like his hero.

It turns out that the book is a story my husband's parents read to him when he was a kid, an old family favorite right along with watching the 1960s classic Cat Balou. In my family, favorite movies were usually family flicks like Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and books like the Cherry Ames and Nancy Drew stories.

It makes me wonder if I'll ever be able to pass stories like that onto any children in my life, whether they're my own or someone else's.

Who knows. But I love the memories.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Blue October For Dad

The world changed this past week. I took my dog out for a walk and the colors went crazy.

Even though it was 80 today, Autumn has arrived.

In this region of the world at this altitude, this means that even though it's 80 in the daytime, the second the sun slips behind the Rockies, it cools down quick.

What amazes me still is how quickly it happens. One week, you're running the air conditioner until 9 at night, and now there's no reason to turn it on at all, as by the time you get home it will have cooled off enough that you don't need it.

But with the change of the season also brings something of the blues to me.

My Dad died on October 25th many years ago -- he and Mom had just moved to Colorado from the Northwest, and the altitude was a factor (at least I think it was) to his heart problems, that resulted in his sudden death of a heart fibrullation at the all-too-young age of 58.


Julie & Her Dad, 1991 Posted by Picasa

My Dad was Lutheran minister. Growing up, everyone who didn't know us well figured I was rebelling against him, since I did, in fact, rebel. But my Dad was my friend long before my Mom was, only because he'd been the wild child in his family growing up, and knew all too well that trying to make me into something I wasn't wouldn't work anyway.

He wrote poetry about his love for my Mom. He told me he loved me every day of my life, and his hugs were big bear hugs that only a man who adores his children could provide.

He had a very corny -- let's just call it dorky -- sense of humor, and nothing cracked him up like a good joke that involved it starting with a Priest, Rabbi & Lutheran Minister.

He played trumpet. He loved his Seattle Mariners, Seahawks and SuperSonics. I still hear my husband in the garage with the radio of a game on and think of Dad.

My Dad was good, kind, and the ultimate example of a person for me who recognized his flaws, yet rose above and made a point of helping those less fortunate. When I was young and we were poor, our house next door to the church was a stopping point for people in trouble. A family with no gas in their car would stop, and Mom would make sandwiches for all the kids and their folks, and Dad would go with the husband to help him fill up at the gas station. When someone stopped by looking for work, Dad helped them find a job.

When a drunk young man came looking for gas for his car, Dad got him to sit down for coffee before letting him go. Another time a young man on a motorcycle crashed his bike outside our kitchen window, and Dad and my brother rushed to help him. Months later, that man would come to our door with a cane, specifically to thank my Dad for helping save his life.

Dad also liked running interference with the Jehovah's Witnesses that would stop by on an occasional Saturday morning. He'd invite them in and involve them in long, drawn-out religious conversations knowing full well that they couldn't possibly convert him -- but he figured if they were in our house for a few hours, they wouldn't be out on the street finding other people to talk to. He was funny that way.

My Dad never had it easy. He was among the first latchkey children whose parents both had to work during the Great Depression, with parents who didn't show affection the way we do today. They had many nights of plain cabbage soup for supper. He worked hard until the day he died, and instilled a work ethic in us that remains to this day.

It was the first truly bad thing that had ever happened to me, and really at 25 I was probably overdue, but felt lucky up to that point. My Mom called me in Seattle, where I had just gotten home from an aerobics class, still sitting around in my early 1990s spandex, wondering what to do with the rest of that beautiful Sunday afternoon.

"I need you to be strong, Honey," Mom said. "But it looks like your Dad has had a heart attack. He's gone, Sweetheart."

It was the first time -- but not the last -- that I would realize that no matter how good you are, or think you are: bad things happen to all of us.

I dreamed about Dad last night. It was in the midst of being on the farm where I grew up, and I was sneaking outside to find my brother who smokes and see if I could bum a cigarette off of him for no particular reason. I was standing in my old back yard, when the bus from Denver that normally takes me to work showed up.

I love space and time warp dreams like that.

But in the midst of that dream stood my Dad -- in the driveway helping my husband and his family with something they had come over for.

His boundless love for us, and his decision to do things differently -- conscientious parenting -- made him a Dad that most kids only dream of.

But despite his loss, and the hole that comes with losing someone so loveable, he continues to live on in my dreams, and for that I am thankful.

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