was the week

Man what a weekend. If the minor west-to-east jetlag wasn’t enough, I think we both experienced enough emotional drainage to fill the void.

Mimi’s service was on Saturday, but staying at the house we were busy from the moment we arrived. I was a pallbearer; a first for me but a meaningful one – a fitting final service to a woman I truly loved. The funeral itself was good, leastways as far as funerals go, and although sad at points was overall a triumphant sendoff. I like to think Mimi was watching and approved.

Sharaun got up and spoke. She recounted a story of Mimi taking a then young Tyler (Sharaun’s brother, the baby of the family) fishing on the jetty. Tyler was too squeamish to bait the hooks himself and so Mimi was a trooper and stuck the worms and crickets for him all day. As they were leaving, Tyler looked up at her and said gratefully, “Mimi, you’re the best hooker.” And all God’s children give a heart belly laugh. Good job Sharaun.

Back at the house there were wheelbarrows of food. Some women from the church came during the service and setup a spread. The family came back from the cemetary and reminisced, read the will, and over-induldged. It was nice in that there was no abrupt “end” to the thing, rather a nice drawn-out day not unlike a lazy Thanksgivig or Christmas with family.

And out of nowhere some friends offered to “lighten our spirits” by offering us free admission to Disney World today. So, although I have work to do and feel a tinge of guilt doing so, we’re on the road as I write this to get an early start on a long day of fun. We’re surprising Keaton with it. She’s a lucky girl because we also have free tickets for our planned August visit. A bonus trip.

And that friends, was the week. I’m still having a hard time writing consistently but I’m trying to shake the slump.

See ya.

everyone calls her mimi

It’s like and infirmary around here.

Sharaun’s sick, Keaton’s sick, and I’m left wondering if I’m overtired because I didn’t sleep well or if I might be fending off whatever’s taking them down.  Monday morning I’ll be off for an overnighter up north, joining the other sawmill managers for a big manager-moot where we’ll presumably be motivated.

I couldn’t make it to last year’s manager-moot because I was sick, and I might just be sick at this year’s.  Maybe I’m allergic to self-congratulation and mutual-masturbation.  I suppose I’ve made the wrong career choice, if so.  Although I’m envisioning a resume bullet-point on “strives under adversity” or somesuch.  What?  Let’s go.

Sharaun’s grandmother had a fall about a week and a half ago, and she’s been in the hospital since.

I love this woman.  I lost my paternal grandmother when I was very young, and had moved across the country and been removed  from my mom’s mom for years when she passed.  As such I didn’t really get to experience a “grandmotherly” relationship in my more “mature” years (when you learn to appreciate those things).  Sharaun has always had an amazing relationship with her mom’s mother, her name is Anne but everyone calls her Mimi.  And having been with Sharaun in one way or another for something like sixteen years now I’ve come to be close with her myself.  In fact, Mimi has become like the grandmother the adult-me never had.

Mimi is penultimate southern widow.  Loves God, is practical, wise, still in plainly and admirably in love with her gone-too-soon husband, has a great sense of humor, and dotes over all her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  Marrying into the family I’ve been adopted into that first class of the doted-upon.  Spending some time with Mimi is always one of the highlights of our too-infrequent trips home to Florida.  I have some great memories of mornings after spending the night at Mimi’s, sitting downstairs drinking coffee and eating danish while working the crossword puzzle together with her.

After the fall, things were not good.  Mimi’s liver was bleeding badly and she underwent a series of emergency surgeries to staunch the flow.  For more than a few nights Sharaun and I both slept lightly, worrying we’d hear the phone ring at a foreboding hour.  After the surgery ultimately proved successful, things appeared to be looking up but she experienced another setback when she was unresponsive after coming off anesthesia.  For another couple of long days we waited for news of anything, but nothing happened to report.  It was a stressful time for Sharaun, and I tried to be as sensitive as a I could.

Yesterday, though, Mimi finally showed signs of waking.  Then, around 5pm our time Sharaun’s mom called in tears to say she’d opened her eyes more than once. It may sound small but for us it was a huge relief.  I’ve never been more happy to hear about someone doing something so simple as opening their eyes.  A ways to go yet yes, but hearing that took some of the weight off my mind and warmed things up in my chest.  And we pray.


unhurried & unharried

Not this time, Florida.


A week of “vacation” in Florida where we haven’t been rushing from place to place to spend not-quite-enough time with friends and family gone unseen over the past year.  Oh sure, maybe you’d call that a bad thing, on the face of it… but I do hate to spend a “respite” from the sawmill all hurried and harried.

Not that I don’t enjoy seeing family, not that we haven’t, actually we’ve managed to spend time with most of the usual suspects just somehow in a less rushed, frantic way.  I guess what I mean is, the majority of my time off has been spent in this comfortable living room with my brothers and sisters-in-law, our children and their grandparents.  As compared to my ideal Thanksgiving, this doesn’t miss the mark by much, if any at that.

I’ve read hundreds of pages, played Yahtzee and Mexican Train (both family favorites and somewhat of a tradition on our trips home), danced around the living room to Motown with Keaton and her nephew Hobson, watched football and had beer with the men, and spent very little time online.  Keaton occupies her time primping in front of Ami’s (her nickname for Sharaun’s mom) dressing mirror, where drawers filled with jewelry and hair-baubles offer her hours of dress-up fun.  Each time she comes out to the living room to “reveal” her new look, and names herself modeled after a different Disney princess.  Her black eyes seem to be getting a little better, too, but she’s taken to calling the marks her “eyeshadow” and, I think, she’s actually starting to like them.

Even with the lazy slow-paced week, time seems to have passed much too fast and we’re faced with leaving after just another two nights in town.  Upon learning this, Keaton said, “But I don’t want to leave yet, dad.  Let’s leave in four days instead.  I love Ami too much; she makes me good food.  And I like playing with Hobson.  And my new bed; and getting to sleep in the same room as you and mommy.”

Owell, four days would be nice… but I don’t think the airline would honor our tickets, babe.

Until later then.  Have a good weekend and we’ll see you back in chilly California before too long.

two black eyes


A week ago Tuesday, the week before we left for Florida, which is where we are now, I was on a phone meeting with an employee of mine around 5pm.  As we were wrapping up, with another ten minutes or so remaining in our conversation, Sharaun called my cellphone.  I didn’t answer.  About 50% of the time, when I’m working that is, I don’t.  Usually, she’ll just leave a message or send a quick text, assuming I’m occupied and can’t get to the phone.  This time, however, she rang my desk number immediately after.  When I didn’t a answer that, the cellphone again.  Curious, I politely put my call on hold and answered.

“Keaton hit her head really hard on the table and the size of the bump really has me worried,” she said.  “OK,” I replied, “Was she unconscious?  Did she get sick?  Is she acting funny?”  With a round of “Nope”s in reply, I told her I’d go ahead and get off the phone right away and come home just to check, but it sounded OK to me.

When I got home I was greeted with a seemingly normal daughter, all but for the humongous bruised and swollen lump over her left eye.  Sharaun was helping her ice it when I got there, and a friend who’d stopped by just minuted before I arrived had already given it his best dad’s inspection and “all’s well” report.  I took a look myself, poking it a bit and asking her how she felt (you know, the real scientific kind of diagnosis-stuff I learned in computer engineering school).  After talking to her and prodding her I myself was convinced she just had one heck of a bump (or “hematoma,” as Trapper John taught me). And folks… it was indeed a large  bump… as the picture above somewhat indicates (bad light plus iPhone doesn’t make for superlative photography).

Anyway, as the week wore on, and we got closer to coming back to Florida to see family and friends we’ve not seen in year, the blood in that bump drained down into little Keaton’s face.  First, the bridge of her nose appeared swollen; next, small black circles at the corner of her eyes.  By Saturday, however, when we flew across the country, she had two fully-developed shiners.  We got some looks in the airport, and one flight attendant even stooped to whisper, “I couldn’t help but notice your daughter’s eyes, are they just naturally dark like that?”  “No,” I replied, “She took a header into a table.”

Oh well… part of growing up I suppose.  I’ll spend the last few evenings before we leave GIMP’ing out the black eyes from all the Thanksgiving photos for family, no biggie.

Maybe later this week I’ll write a bit about being in Florida.  In brief though: It’s good to be back and the place feels the same.

Until later.

that footworn path

Happy workweek-fifty, fellow serfs.

Were we not destined by our birth-caste to labor as we do, we might now be napping in an open field or floating in cool water.  Yet, here we are; running the race, pulling the millstone along that footworn path.

The weekend, at least, however, held promise – as our alma mater pushed forward to SEC victory and now awaits the national championship game next month.  So, that, in part, lifted my spirits.  But with the return to work tomorrow, my mind will no doubt once again return to those ten days in Florida…

And, speaking of Florida, I’ve a funny story to relate now that it’s fresh on the mind.

While there staying with Sharaun’s folks, Keaton shared a bedroom with us, sleeping on a neat little “pop-up” cot thing on the floor.  And, even though we worried she wouldn’t sleep well with us in the room (I snore, after all), it turned out to be no problem at all.  In fact, I ended up liking it a lot – feeling somehow “closer” to her being able to sit up slightly and watch her sleep; having her climb into our bed occasionally (although I don’t think I’d like her having the option at will).  Also, it was just a good feeling to have the whole “family” packaged together in a single living space… you know me and my pioneer fantasies… maybe I likened it to some imagined one-room homestead.

Also by virtue of our vacation cosleeping arrangements, we learned that Keaton suffers from more than just one of Daddy’s nighttime eccentricities.  See, just like Dad, it seems she’s also taken to talking in her sleep.  Yup, sure enough we heard her chattering away some dreamy nonsense almost every single night.  Since I’m not a very light sleeper, I only managed to hear the loudest and clearest of these episodes, but Sharaun assured me she did it pretty regularly even when I didn’t catch it.

Of what I did hear though, the following exchange made me realize even more how much of her Dad’s daughter my little angel really is.  Check it:

Mmmm… grrrmmphh… No… I need to cook the pizza rolls…

Errrmmm… sssss…. I need to cook the pizza rolls!!

Gaaaaahh… Hey… where are my pizza rolls?…. ffffmmmm….

Clear as a bell my little baby was talking out-lout during her dream of, what I assume, was pizza rolls.  For those who know how beholden I am to the Godsend that is pizza rolls this should bring a smile.  The sleep-funk, the sleep-babbling, and apparently a great taste in bad-for-you finger foods: all things the good Lord has allowed to pass from my to her.  Poor girl.

No apologies for my rigor of writing this week, I’m gonna do what feels right and that’s what I’ll do.  Goodnight, and I hope we get to do this again soon.

counting the hours

Last night in Florida; this one’ll be a dirge.

We went to dinner with the family, sans a couple members who are down and out with a stomach bug.  We got together with a friends from years past who we haven’t seen in years (and, our kid played with the kids of our friends, in a series of surreal “Oh crap, I’m totally old” moments).  Sharaun and I even split up one night to canvas acquaintances, since we’ve got so many folks we like hanging with down here.

All in all though, and I know I’ve said this as many times as I’ve written over the past few Florida days, the visit felt as long as it was – which is actually a good thing, as we often end up feeling like we had too little time, even though the days numbered enough.

And now, back at the inlaws’ rambling ranch-style Florida, built strong in the old days with cinderblock and copper pipe and thick walls, Pop-pop started a fire to push the cold air back outside.  That’s right: It’s cold tonight in Florida.  In fact, the news said lows in the upper 30s, I think.  For the central Florida coast – that’s chilly.  It’s a pungent coastal oak burning, but the chimney has a good draft and all we get is a slow-moving comfy warmth.  Keaton’s fascinated by the fire, which isn’t entirely unexpected given her lineage.  Upon returning home, sated and loose, we all took turns warming while staring into the flames – it’s primal, you know, staring at fire… in our blood from those very first days.

It’s comfortable here; I’m beginning to wish we could stay longer still… because, really, what’s to get back to?

But, reality calls… it’s back to work on Thursday, and I won’t lie and say I haven’t been checking e-mail on the iPhone – because I have.  Even sent a response or five hither and thither.  It’s hard for me not too, I’m so connected to the place… umbilically tied to the sawmill, stuck at its teat even when away.  With the holiday week, doesn’t look like I missed much – so the ramp back into things shouldn’t be that bad.  Although, returning to the mill alone will surely defeat my vacationing spirit; just suck it right out and stomp on it.

And with that I think I’ll hang up the hat for tonight.  With thoughts of one more morning of Florida sun to wake to, we bid you adieu.  Goodnight.

spurned by santa

The molasses pace of this week and a half is more than I could ask for.  Every day I wake up thinking it’s a day later than it really is, and am pleasantly surprised when I realize the error.  So, when today was Monday as I rose, and I realized we’re down to our last two days – it was something of bummer.  But, let’s move on from all the talk of vacation-end and get on to some talk of vacation-happenings.

The other night we took a short walk down to the city park near Sharaun’s folks’ place.  It’s located smack in the middle of the historic shopping district here, and the city has done considerable work over the past ten years or so really shaping the place up.  In fact, it looks really good down there – and the crowds drawn to the park, temporary ice-skating rink (yes, in Florida), shops and food seem to show that the work has paid off.  We’ve walked the short mile or so down there a couple times already this trip, and each time have really enjoyed letting Keaton run around in the park and strolling the shoplined avenues.

This particular night, however, we were there right before dinner and the light was beginning to dwindle.  As we played in the park, we began to notice a man setting up lights around a sleigh sitting central to the goings-on.  Sure enough, Mr. Claus himself showed up for pictures with kiddies just as we were getting ready to make the walk back home.  When Keaton saw him, she absolutely lit up.  She looked at me, looked at mom, looked back to Santa – and just stood there struck like a stone, mouth open and wide-eyed.  I finally said to her, “Do you want to go say ‘hi’ to Santa?”  “Yeah!,” she squealed as she tore off in his direction.

There were several kids flocked around Santa, and she sort of sidled up alongside them in the back row and just stared up at him in awe.  Eventually, the throng thinned and she had a clear shot at him.  She stared right up and him and said, “Hi Santa!”  Only, she said it sort of smallish and demurely, since that’s just how our girl is.  Unfortunately, Santa did not hear her salutation, and instead turned his back to her to talk to some other kids.  At that, Keaton waited there a minute, wringing her hands, and the walked back to me with the sorriest, saddest look on her face I’ve ever seen.  When she got to me, she said, “He didn’t answer me,” in the most forlorn little voice.

I was absolutely heartbroken; felt crushed right along with her.

Trying quick to recover, Sharaun and I both said something along the lines of, “It’s OK baby, he just didn’t hear you that time.  Go on back over and say ‘hello’ to him a little louder this time so he can hear, OK?”  With a little prodding, she walked slowly back over and found another opening for some one-on-one time.  This time, Santa saw her first and stooped to speak to her.  As he did, she was excited, but I could still see the reluctance in her eyes from his initial spurning.  When she came back, she was a lot happier, but I could tell she still had some misgivings about this Santa guy.

Later that night, as I was putting her to sleep I asked her, “Wasn’t it fun meeting Santa today?”  “Yeah,” she said, and her voice turned frost cold and sad, “But… he didn’t answer the first time.”  I about bust out into tears right then and there.  Poor girl.

Sorry for the sob story… I promise it’s not indicative of the week.  In fact, we’ve had a fantastic time – and I suppose I should’ve chosen to relate a funny story instead, but that one stuck with me as something that might “blog” well.

For now, I’m outta here.  Holler at you guys later, OK?