Weekend in Zion

At The Desert Pearl Hotel in Springdale, Utah

Ethan (age 5): The sink in our room is so short! I had to bend over to use it!!!

Me: What sink? What are you talking about?

Ethan: The one in the bathroom.

Me: Right next to the toilet?

Ethan: Yeah!

Me: That is not a sink. It’s a bidet.

Ethan: What’s that?

(Pause)

Matt: It’s European.

Me: Only it’s for when you’re-a-poopin’.

Ethan: WHAT?

Matt: It’s a sink for your bum.

Ethan: 😐

End scene.

(Photo: Zion National Park –  Mt. Carmel Highway Scenic Drive)

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Sisters in Seattle

I went to Seattle for a few days to visit my sister Andrea and meet my brand new nephew who arrived too soon – at just 25 weeks – over the New Year’s weekend.  I flew up to help out while her hubby was traveling for work.  Mostly I went to give my five year old nephew some attention.  Also I talked Andrea’s ear off.  (I really need to call her more.)  I also cooked a little.  I loaded the dishwasher once.  I barely helped at all, truth be told.  I always think I’ll be more helpful when I’m projecting the future in my mind then when I get into the future and see what reality allows.

Still it was a great trip.  Frog (my new nephew’s nickname) is so tiny!  Just 2.7 lbs when I left, but growing a bit every day.  I was watching him fight against his breathing mask and squirming to get his arms and legs free of the swaddling wraps and I was amazed.  He is so little and he looks so fragile – like a pink baby bird that fell from a nest – but he is fierce!  He can lift his head already, and he can voice his displeasure.  It made me happy.  I don’t want him to wear himself out, but I can’t describe the joy I felt watching him fight.  I’ve been so worried about this kiddo for weeks but now that I’ve seen him, I’m reassured.  He is a warrior and he is firmly in this world.

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My other nephew, the kindergartner, is really struggling with the changes.  He seems angry.  He’s not listening or asking for things with politeness or patience.  He is demanding things with a force that suggests his wants and needs are consuming him.  I’m not sure he gets what is wrong exactly, but there is a level on which he is aware.  He even commented on the fact that there are suddenly a number of photos of his brother on his mom’s phone.  “Why are there so many pictures of Frog on here?” he asked like a jealous boyfriend.  Like, “Who is this guy and what does he mean to you?”

Oof.  Just wait until the little one actually gets sprung from the NICU and comes home!  Then the real pain will begin.

On one hand my heart is breaking for him because it is hard to see him hurting.  But on the other hand, the one where I’m looking at it from the perspective of a second sibling, I’m less sympathetic.  “What? You don’t get to have your parents all to yourself? What would that be like?” [insert eye roll]

I’m told that when I came home from the hospital my older sister tried to smother me with a diaper.  She was wearing it at the time, just so you understand.

He is such a sweet kid and I believe he will be fine once he has had time – lots of time – to adjust.  He’s so funny.  I’m not sure how to describe him except to say that he has a dynamic inner life.  He is so imaginative and precocious.  He spent one entire day of my visit dressed as Yoda.  Not for any special occasion.  He just loves Yoda.  When I arrived he presented me with a drawing he did for me at school.  It’s a portrait of me.  “What’s this red part?” I asked.

“It’s a bloody thumb.”

“Of course it is, kiddo.  Of course it is.”

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What I wouldn’t give to spend some time in that kid’s head.  Frog is going to have the best playmate in the world.  Maybe not soon, you know.  But in a little while.

Nervous Tick

In the summer of 1999, Jules and Demetria and I were on a long road trip through the Louisiana and Texas.  I had never been to the South before and I found it quite mysterious.  I had never experienced humidity before, for one thing.  And the bugs down there are mind-blowing.  I remember being astonished by the number and size of the bugs I saw, but mostly I was amazed by the sound.  We have crickets in Utah and they sing quietly on warm nights.  The crickets they have in the South are something else, entirely.  I honestly don’t know how anyone in Texas gets a good night’s sleep in the summer.

We arrived at Juliane’s Dad’s place in Beaumont, Texas, and decided to go out and soak our feet and legs in the pool.  My legs were covered in large and swollen mosquito bites and I was really suffering, so it sounded like a great idea.  That is, until Juliane handed me a net on a long pole and told me it was to scoop the frogs out of the pool.

“I’m from the desert.”  I told her, looking down at the net in my hands.  “We don’t scoop frogs in the desert.  I’m going to need more instructions.”

A few flung frogs later, we were sitting on the edge of the swimming pool cooling our feet and sipping beer.  After a little while, Jules hopped up to let the dogs out.  That was another thing about that trip.  Everyone we stayed with had dogs.  Big dogs.  I grew up in a house with cats and staying with dogs was completely new to me.  The Beaumont dogs were especially frenetic.  They whipped me with their tails and they licked me in the face.  I thought they were going to push me into the pool a couple of times.

After a while, I had to ask Jules to pull them off of me.  She tugged them toward her by their collars and let them lick her face.

“Good dog,” she said.  “That’s my good boy.”

They settled down and we got back to our conversation.  It was some point after that when I felt a hard little raised speck on my arm.  It was dark and I couldn’t really see it, but I knew what it was.

“Oh shit!  I have a tick!”

“Are you sure?” Jules asked.

“Look, it’s here on my arm.  Can you see it?”

“Oh yeah… what is that?”

“Fuck fuck fuck.  I’m going to get Lyme disease.  This is what I get for running around barefoot in Texas!”

“What does that have to do with anything?  It’s on your arm.  Let’s go inside and get a better look…”

Juliane’s father and step mother are both doctors, but they had gone out for the evening.  I was sitting on a stool in their kitchen and we were trying to figure out what to do.  Then I remembered something that my dad told me.

“My dad said that when he was working at Outward Bound, they used to find ticks.  And he they would light a match, blow it out, and burn the tick with the tip, but they found that it worked better to pour cheap wine on them.”

“Really?” Demetria sounded skeptical.

“Yeah.  Because if you burn them, you might kill them.  And then, because they have burrowed in, you still have to dig their heads out.  But if you can get them to back out, that’s the best way.  And Dad said that he would put cheap booze on them and then they would ‘back out happy.’”

“We can try it,” Jules said.  “Of course, my dad doesn’t buy cheap wine.  So we might want to keep this hush hush…”

Jules found a shot glass and set it on the counter.  Then she left the kitchen to go to the wine cellar and returned with a bottle of white wine in a plain and expensive looking European label.  We opened the bottle and poured a shot of wine.  Then Deme flipped it over quickly and held it against my arm.  We all watched intently to see what would happen next.

The tick didn’t move.

“Shit.  Do you think it’s dead already?”

“I don’t know.  Give it a minute.”

We sat in silence for another minute or two. And then something strange did happen.  The little thing seemed to change shape a slightly and drift away from my skin.

“What the hell?”

Demetria lowered the shot glass and I inspected the tick, which was no longer as hard as an exoskeleton should be.  I was now able to pull it from the arm hair it was sticking to.

“Um, guys?  I’m sorry.  That was a false alarm.  It isn’t a tick.”

“What is it, then?”

“I think it’s a dog booger.”

“Shut up.  You just made me pour sixty dollars of wine on a dog booger?!”

“I said I was sorry!”

Of course, at that point, there was nothing to do but drink the rest of the wine.  I don’t actually remember drinking it, but we must have.  I do remember swearing them to secrecy because I was so embarrassed and just a little bit terrified of Juliane’s dad.  He was even more intense than the dogs – though in a different way, obviously.  But if he noticed that the bottle was missing, he didn’t say anything.

I didn’t get comfortable around dogs until after I got Wensley, and that was many years after that trip.  It’s funny to me to remember this, because now I’m the girl who always stops to pet the dogs.  Matt was teasing me a little while ago about my dog love.  “Uh oh, all conversation must stop – Rachel saw a dog!”  It’s true, I’m a complete dog dork, and I’ve interrupted many perfectly good stories with my outbursts.  But in my defense, there was a dog.

Momento Rock

“Oh that rock? I was staying in this boutique hotel in Los Angeles and, in addition to the mini-bar, they had this shelf full of weird merchandise. I thought it was amusing, but I wasn’t interested. That is, until I saw that rock. Maybe because it was so ordinary… It reminded me of all the rocks from my childhood, adolescence, young adulthood and middle adulthood. It was twenty dollars but I just HAD to have it.”

Said no one, ever [I hope].

 

 

À Bientôt

I’m off! My bag is full of black t-shirts, jeans, and… for some reason… an entire box of tea. Don’t know why that seemed so important last night, but it is in.

Wish me bon chance!

twain