A Colder October

I don’t remember a colder October.

Nature’s real lessons – love and loss and longing – echoing yearly. Simple trees and simple leaves. Temporary slumbers; predictable, patterned, withdraw with a promise of likelihood. Coming back, coming back stronger, maybe reaching a little higher.

Occasionally, that’s not the case. Of course, majestics don’t worry about that. Perhaps affording optimism in squirrels and birds and other creatures. Although seeing fit to plan, return rote expecting rejuvenation. Coming from another season’s slumber, they lumber; sometimes dumbfounded when the memory is bare or barely there.

Much like those times you thought you were growing straight, turned twisted in time, searching for the sun. Vital pieces falls away, hacked, splintered, struck by lightning. How it happens; endless possibilities, all still no less of a shock.  

So, I welcome the colors, and I welcome the lack. It’s part of the process.

Lightly suffering through another falling season. It only seems ok because I’ve been here before. Somehow now it’s easier to see. There are no perfect trees.

I don’t remember a colder October, or colors that faded so fast.

Quote for the Week:

2018 10 16 there are no perfect trees a colder october jakorte

 

Sunblock-Clocked

When Jeff was ready to continue, we set out slow walking. It was obvious to everyone who scooted around us, that there was a problem. It really got him down. We made it into the stands and stood for a while at the bottom looking up. The trudging climbers didn’t seem to bothered by the pace.

“C’mon,” I tugged his hand. “Let’s go…” He was dubious, but shuffled forward.

When the upward surging mass stalled, Jeff held on tightly to the rail. “My legs are shaking,” he told me. “That’s ok!” I replied. “You’ll be stompin’ in your seat shortly.” He gave me a little head shake smile, as the crowd crept along. We plodded on, keeping time with the slow bobbing waves of heads. “One foot in front of the other…” I sang off key. He chuckled.

When we’d made it, we both collapsed in our seats. “We made it!” I cheered. “I feel like Rocky…” Jeff huffed. “… after a few rounds.”

Not sure how we lucked out, but we had two seats on the end of the row, which meant Jeff could stand up and sit down easily. Eventually, we both caught our breath, and set about the business of setting up in the stands.

Jeff divvied up the headsets, which sadly were really only brought along for ear comfort. They’d previously hooked up to a radio, set to track channels. We’d listen to pit crews, his favorite drivers and even announcer chatter.

He handed me the binoculars and kept the camera, slung around his neck. Jeff surveyed the situation and sighed. “I hope I don’t gotta go….”

I was looking down re-stashing the sunblock we’d just slathered on the back of our necks, when a shadow came over us. I looked up and caught the tail end of a fighter jet just as it soared out of view.  Jeff’s hat came off, smacking me in the face. I reflexively reached up, opening my hand to catch the cap. The sunblock sailed forward and beaned the gentleman in front of me.

In those few seconds of mayhem, the clocked by sunblock fellow turned around. Jeff stepped closer to me, raising his eyebrows and hands in apology. I involuntarily shrieked in surprise as the sonic boom hit. I slapped both hands over my ears as they painfully popped. I’d just experienced my first fly over directly in the path of a fly over. Frozen in place, I stared at Jeff.

He surveyed me quizzically, quickly surmised my shock and threw out his own boom. Jeff’s contagious laugh caught on, as usual. Those around us grinned, chortled, chuckled, and very nicely returned our strewn belongings.

Quote for the Week:

2018 10 09 There nothing quite like the camaraderie of like jakorte

Food: Hit and MIS

The stubborn, problem solver in me, decided it was time to take charge. Something had to be done. 

“Wait here,” I instructed Jeff. “Where are you going?” he asked. “I’ll be right back,” I answered, and took off.

My first wait was in the beverage line. I returned with two sugared soft drinks in two different, super-sized, commemorative collectible cups. I’d asked the kid behind the counter to be sure they were different, which seemed to stump him. I found it hard to believe no one else had made that request, but once he figured out what I was after, he happily grabbed a cup from the nearest server’s pile.

I wound my way back through the crowd to the little table, and wasn’t completely surprised to find Jeff talking and laughing with a couple a little older than us.  The woman  told me they’d stopped to check on Jeff because he was sitting by himself and didn’t look well.

Jeff, of course, insisted he was fine; just waiting for his wife to come back. I thanked them for stopping, and Jeff pulled out a Michigan Hot Sauce Club card. “You come by any time,” he told the fellow, “and I’ll give you a free bottle of hot sauce.” “Oh,” he continued, “and some of that crab salsa, too.” It turned out they weren’t from our area, but their son was, and they would tell him about the shop. Jeff always found a friendly way to promote our business. He always beamed with pride when talking about it. So he was a little more perky than when I’d left him.

After they’d gone, I showed Jeff the cups. He cheered up a little more at the thought of taking them home as souvenirs, along with a half-tire made into a picture frame featuring Dale Earnhardt Sr. Jeff loved it, but decided it would be too bulky to lug around. I offered to carry it, not realizing that half-tires could be so heavy. Yeah, it was a bit of a lug-around for me, but it was super cool, and looked great in our home office. 

I told Jeff to stay put, again, and moved back into the crowd. After another wait, I had our lunch. Two hot dogs. One, with every available condiment and jalapenos, the other with every available condiment, minus jalapenos. To make up for that, I included those stinky, raw chopped onions Jeff loved. I like a little bit of fresh raw onion now and then, but I fully stinkied up mine, too. In case, I couldn’t finish it; knowing, Jeff would be happy to help me out.

Clutching the hot dog tray, I stood in line one more time,  to secure an overflowing cone of greasy French-fries and a chocolate chip cookie as big as my two hands. Not the most appropriate fare for a struggling diabetic. Admittedly, Jeff and I shared a diet-dangerous, double-trouble, fix-it-with-food mentality.

Quote for the Week:

2018 10 02 We tend to base our love on jakorte

 

Quote for the Week:

Rough Track

We went to the race track in 2006. It had been a few years since Jeff had been to a race. When he expressed the desire to go, I said, “Yes.” I worried about how we’d get around. Jeff refused to take his wheelchair. “Nah. You’ll see,” he said. “It’ll be fine.” We brought his cane along, but he was sure he wouldn’t need it, so he left it in the car.

Jeff’s standard outfit was fashion-backward, hot as hell (in a sweltering, not sexy way), but necessary. Cargo shorts, because pockets. A well-soft, well-worn Dale Earnhardt Sr. or Dale Earnhardt Jr. t-shirt for comfort, and loyalty. Suspenders to counter-act his heavy pockets.  One of many, many ball-caps to keep the heat off and absorb forehead sweat. Suspenders; because without them, Jeff would tell you, “I’d lose my shorts!”  

He used to laugh at the kids with the saggy pants below their butts, saying, “I’ve spent my entire life trying to keep my pants up!” None of them ever back-talked to Jeff. The tone of his voice made it obvious he was having fun, and they’d just joke along with him.

From the bottom up, like an oddly layered beige clothing trifle: Light brown man-sandals (think Birks), flesh-colored no-show compression socks, which obviously, were showing. From the ankle up, two ace-bandages (four in all) covered each of his tree-trunk legs to his knees, holding gauze against his ulcers. They somewhat helped keep swelling reduced, but not as well as the lederhosen-like compression hose he constantly wore at home. 

One of the wraps came undone as we walked through the merchandise trailer corridors. As soon as we found a seat, we replaced the gauze and rewound the fabric. It wasn’t easy for either of us. It’s hard to ignore the side-mouth talkers, the stares and the looks of disgust. It wasn’t pleasant to watch Jeff remove the goopy bandages and patches. It wasn’t pleasant for me to replace them, either. In those moments, Jeff hated being at the track in his condition, and sadly commented, “I guess I’m pretty gross, huh?”

The experience was hard for him. It simultaneously brought back great memories and evoked longing – of other times that were shared with family and friends, of other times when everything (especially walking) was easier, of other times it was effortlessly more fun. For Jeff, this pilgrimage came with a hefty dose of reality. It was the marker that made him see himself in a way he hadn’t before. Staring defeatedly at the ground, he mumbled, “I guess we should just go home.” Jeff’s heart was breaking, and that shattered mine.

Quote for the Week:

2018 09 25 life is made of so many layers jakorte

 

Car Stories

Our next two MIS trips, we joined the ranks of day-trippers.

For the first one, we still had my little Dodge Neon. The car hadn’t yet been through a damaging hail storm, a ride through a ditch on a water-covered road home and one full-on accident.

The hailstorm repair left it with a leaky sunroof, a tail light that had not properly been reinstalled, and back seat floorboards flooded with water. Lesson learned: Pop-up, post storm, windshield replacement and dimple remover outfits that camp out in parking lots, aren’t the best way to go.

Jeff was driving for our low-car off-road experience. We were coming up on a corner, and as we rounded, we noticed the truck in front of us weave. It ran off the road, into a ditch and drove right up over the drain pipe to land on someone’s driveway.

When that water-ballet ended, I realized there were two other cars stalled in the water that the truck had been trying to avoid. Headed for a collision, I shouted at Jeff, “Ditch! Ditch! Ditch!” Jeff swung the car to the right. I’m not sure how our little car didn’t roll. It really should have, since Jeff was on the up side of the down-slope. Jeff kept hold of the wheel, veered back to the left, gunned the engine and tried for a similar path to the driveway that truck was, thankfully, no longer in.

To Jeff’s credit, he didn’t even try to clear the pipe. He just jammed on the gas and barreled us up one of the graveled sides. The underside scraped along the rocks, but we made it to level ground. Without stopping, Jeff maneuvered us out of the driveway. We skidded along a white picket fence that I am still amazed we did not crash through or damage in the slightest. We shot around the standing water, completely avoiding the stalled cars.

Neither one of us said a word. Finally, at the first stop light we came to, Jeff sort of chuckled. “That was some pretty fancy drivin’,don’t ya think?” I agreed and remarked how I just could not believe we came through that unharmed, with no damage to the car.

Jeff tapped the side of his head with a curved pointer finger. “I was thinkin’ like a race-car driver,” he grinned , proudly. “Good thing, I’ve seen a lot of races!”

Our amazement ended about a half-hour after that, when just a few miles from home, the Neon began to smoke under the hood. We’d busted the radiator. Later, I noticed a raw, red spot on Jeff’s left temple where he’d scraped against the window frame and roof. That wasn’t that much of a surprise, considering he normally drove the car with a height-adjusting, slight-head tilt, anyway.

The third strike against my mini, really too-small-for-Jeff, but great gas mileage commuter car, was pretty much a head-to-side collision. That time, I was driving the same ditched road. A little farther on down the stretch, I approached a green traffic light, that quickly turned yellow. I considered hitting the brakes, but when it became clear I wasn’t going to be able to stop in time or behind the line, I hit the gas.

It was Jeff’s turn to shout. “Stop! Stop! Stop!” A large white truck had decided to beat the light on his side and cut directly in front of me. Even standing on the brakes, I hit their right front tire, head-on.  Jeff ended up with deep bruising and a seat-belt rub across his chest. The crazy left-turner ended up with a broken front axel on his brand-new truck, and a ticket.

I didn’t end up with a ticket, but we did have to have the car towed from Saline to Tecumseh. Our insurance paid for a rental car, since the police report had shown the other driver to be at fault. The Dodge dealer inspected the damage, and estimated repairs.   Before we had a chance to get back there, it occurred to us all of our purchased Christmas presents were still in the Neon’s trunk. We didn’t have any real storage space in our apartment, so we figured the best place to store it all was in the car.

When we did finally get to the car shop to discuss the repairs, it became clear that it might be time for a new car, anyway. So, we traded the Silver Pea (as Jeff referred to it) for a much larger, used, gold Buick Century. Not long after, we began to see a lot of gold Buick Century’s driven by a much older crowd. So much so, that it was actually a little difficult to locate ours in parking lots, sometimes.

Quote for the Week:2018 09 18 It doesnt matter who you have beside you jakorte

Life’s Like That: Rice

Making rice isn’t for the faint of heart. That’s because of the whole don’t lift the lid thing.

Watching my pot not boil, I have time to think. I’ve been studying my life, lately. Trying to determine self-worth against a fear of no-worth. Trying to remember to trust God.

I snicker, and Blu answers questioningly. If I’m standing here because I can’t trust the outcome of my rice, how can I trust Him on things bigger than potential burnt grain? I snicker again, and Blu huffs a sigh, curling back into cat-nap position.

Right. They’re two different things, aren’t they? Umm, are they?

This is what happens when I can’t lift the lid. I compulsively stay nearby for rescue and the sake of safety. Puttering around rearranging cabinets, wiping out drawers, my Fitbit faithfully paces steps in my galley kitchen.

A boil over would singe my last nerve tonight. After a 7-hour seasonal cleaning marathon, I’ve realized I’m not done, but my body is. Treadmill time doesn’t create kneel-stand-stretch-pull-bend endurance.

I gauge the roil. I re-read the instructions and unsurely determine its time to turn down the heat. The timer is active, but I am not.

I’m still standing there thru the simmer, and its not looking good. There seems to be too much water. At least that’s how it looks thru the lid. I’m determined not to burn. So, I wiggle the pot in lifted circles; ‘stirring’ within the rules, not lifting the lid. It’s not any clearer what’s going on in the there.

At 12 minutes, it suddenly is. Clearer. Now a slurry of milky roiling water and slightly swollen rice nubs, this feels like the dangerous part. The critical point where I really want to stir the pot. I swirl the pan again, and lament that nothing’s significantly moving. Then, it hits me: not much water – that’s a good thing, right?

At 9 minutes, I recant. Maybe its not going as planned, according to the assurances of preparation materials so blithely plastered on paper. 3 easy steps. Except for the don’t lift the lid part.

Guess that’s life though. Standing over a watched pot, hoping everything will become clearer once the process is complete.

6 min. Yeah. Life’s like that. Your focus has to be just right to see thru the condensation. Rivulets riot with your view.  Concentration required comes with a headache from peering over the heated coil, red-face full of radiant heat.

3 minutes. I can still see simmering just below the surface of swollen bits. Ugh. There’s still liquid; disappointment.

2 minutes. Dear God. I hope this doesn’t burn. Technically, it’s not part of my Keto plan. I do reasonably plan to only eat small ¼ cup portions at 5 carbs each. 35 minutes of my life has now been poured into the procedure.

1 minute. A burn now would be a waste of a full 40 minutes, and waste even more time dealing with the mess.

I’m nervously watching the timer. 30 seconds.

It’s time to lift the lid away. Everything is fine, if ‘fine’ means slightly sticky rice.

Life’s like that. All about timing. Whether you’re waiting on rice or God.

The relief is nice, but short-lived. Success over shadowed by nausea, I quickly evaluate my situation, pull the pot from the heat, find a seat and dangle my head below my knees. All the extra effort, sweltering over the course of experience, worry and watching did not change the outcome.

Will I do it again? Probably.  The same way? Probably, maybe. My treacherous mind still believes in the future possibility of failure. Which, directly connects to my Matthew 6:25-34 struggle. Not worrying seems irresponsible to me. But, that’s another blog.

Quote for the Week:

2018 09 09 Life_s All About Timing rice or god jakorte

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Rice: Cook Covered

Rice: Cook Uncovered

Rice: Cook Sticky (On Purpose)

 

MIS: Souvenier

Some things are super clear. Other things… yeah, no.

I do know I wobbled a third of the way across the infield to the bathroom at least twice on my own.  I sipped on water and MT Dew, ate some peanut butter crackers and dozed off a lot.

On my ventures out, I would notice people sitting nearby, but never thought much of it. I’d get a wave and be asked how I was doing. I was doing great, because I wasn’t in pain. I’d come back exhausted and crawl back into the van.

I later learned that Jeff’s friends next to us and some a few rows away had taken shifts to make sure I didn’t need help. One of the women had even followed me to the bathroom. I had no clue.

I remember sitting in the front seat. I don’t remember Jeff packing up the van, or leaving. We stayed put until most of the crowd had rolled out to conserve gas. I remember lying down on the not very grassy spot next to the van because sitting up was just too hard. I don’t know how long it took us to get home. I don’t remember how we got the van back to his Mom’s house, or how I ended up in bed at ours.

I do remember waking up around 9 PM and wondering what had happened. I was very, very sore all over. Monday, I made an appointment with my doctor for Tuesday. By Tuesday, I thought the whole thing was silly and that whatever it was had worked itself out. Jeff convinced me to keep the appointment. I’d run out of pain pills by this time. I felt ok, but had a fever and what felt like a bladder infection.

Sent home with antibiotics and more Vicodin, I was told to take a few days off. On Wednesday, Jeff had gone to work and I was on the phone with my Dad. I was telling him this story, when I realized I actually felt like I might want to full-fledged pee, instead of the pitiful dribble I’d experienced. So, I toddled off to the small half bath under the stairs in our townhouse and kept talking.

When I was finished, I check the collection “hat” I’d been provided with to “catch the grains of sand” that they hopefully believed I would pass, at some point. I was dumbfounded to see an orangey, odd-shaped rock. “Dad,” I said. “I don’t understand. I haven’t been outside today and Jeff isn’t home and I’m not wearing sneakers, but somehow a rock got into the bathroom thingy.”

He asked me to describe it. It was ‘L’ shaped. Each branch was about 1/4 inch and covered with spiky bumps. It didn’t look like any of the stones we had in our gravel drive or flower bed.  I briefly wondered if Jeff had decided to play  joke on me.

“Congratulations,” my father announced. “You’ve passed a kidney stone!”

“I peed that?” I sqwalked, incredulously. “Really?” After a beat, I enthusiastically added, “Vicodin, maaaannnnn. That’s some good shit!”

I’d been told to drop off whatever tiny grains and sediment was captured by the sieve at the lab. So, I dutifully put the pebble in the provided bottle, and waited for Jeff to get home. Jeff was astounded and enamored. “OOOhh,” he peered into the open container. “Let’s keep it…” He suggested, “as a souvenier…” 

I informed him I was supposed to bring it in for analysis. “Well,” he pondered, “Can we wait a few days? Maybe you can pass another one… and then, we could keep this one!”

Quote for the Week:  2018 09 04 beware of underestimation and biologically narrow jakorte