Monday, June 27, 2011

Happy Belated Pride and Roadtrip Part 1

A built a fire for us in the back yard tonight. We sat out there for the longest time not even talking, but just staring into the flames. Earlier we had dogs out there with us. That was until Jill decided to try to crawl under the fire pit (yes while a fire was burning). Luckily the only damage she sustained was scorched hair on the back of her neck. 

It was Pride weekend in the Twin Cities but we chose to stay home. Now hearing about all the fun makes we wish we would have went even for a little while. A friend took this great picture of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis all lit up for the occasion. 
We've been home from vacation 2 weeks...TWO WEEKS! It seems like forever already. Let me give you some highlights of our adventure.

We left Minnesota on the one day this year that summer decided to show up. We had planned to leave early afternoon but with a 95+ degree temp and humidity, we delayed for a few hours. We headed south getting pushed all over the road by a strong west wind. 

We had plans to meet Leeza's adopters at a truck stop in Bloomington, IL before 8am. That meant pushing through the night and arriving there after 4am. I have to say that the state of Illinois is full of fucking weirdos! There is one point on I-74 where there is 57 miles without an exit and right in the middle of that area, at 2:30am there was a woman walking along the side of the interstate. She scared the shit out of us since she was dressed in black and we saw her literally as we were passing her. 
Leeza's family showed up around 7am and although she was nervous, she was giving her new mama kisses by the time they left with her. 

Back on the road by to be in Indianapolis by noon. When we arrived it was over 90 degrees again and the only spot of shade at the meeting place was at the end of a Home Depot parking lot. It was insane the number of people who pulled up and shouted out "How much?" They didn't say hi, ask what kind of dogs they were, nothing but how much do they cost. A was trying to be pleasant and explain but I had lost all patience and finally just told people they're ours, we're on vacation. The End.
Chantelle's adopter was so excited to finally get her hands on her newest baby. I felt like I was handing a mother her newborn for the first time. She's going to be one very spoiled little girl.
Shortly after leaving Indianapolis, we hit a snag. We ended up parked on the interstate in 95+ degree temps with no AC for nearly a hour. We were getting worried for the dogs, I was behind the wheel and A was rubbing them down with ice/water. When we finally got moving again, I was at the point of not being able to handle anything anymore. I had been awake for 35+ hours (with a couple short naps) and A was not much better. She finally said what the hell are we doing this for and we pulled into the next campground we found. I swear that KOA outside of Dayton was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen! We cooled off, showered, slept and ate. Now this is when vacation really starts. 

The next morning we enjoyed breakfast and then traveled eastward to our final camping spot. 
The KOA offered an all-you-can-eat breakfast for $5. You can't beat that.
Very happy to have my waffle.
My favorite part when returning home is driving from the flatland into the hills. It's hard to describe because even though it's not home anymore, at that moment I realize how much I miss the landscape. Our campground was up on a hill overlooking the river. Since we were there mostly during the week, it was quiet and we had a spot away from everyone else. 
Mist rising out of the hills just before sunrise.
Our campsite.
We reserved a rental car for getting around. Enterprise was too busy to pick us up in the morning so we called the local cab company to get a ride. Now that was an experience! At 9am she pulled up in front of the campground office. She was large, stinking of BO and cigarettes, greasy hair, sores on her arms and nursing her breakfast of Bugles and Diet Pepsi. We got in the cab and found the seats dirty and covered with cigarette burns. Packs of Pall Malls stacked on the dash of the car. Thankfully it was a short ride but not much better than the Tijuana taxi we took one time. At the rental place, they had no cars left so they gave me a Dodge Dakota truck. It was a nice vehicle but I had hoping for something with good gas milage after driving the gas whore over 900 miles.
It was hot everyday but we didn't care. In the mornings, A would make coffee and we would sit outside and smell the sweetness of the honeysuckle while eating breakfast. A was very interested in those plants since the honeysuckle she  knew growing up in northern MN is very different and hardly has any scent. 
After breakfast we would take the dogs walking on the trail and then come back and go for a swim in the heated saltwater pool. In the afternoon/evening we went out exploring and visiting with family and friends. 

Where else can you get a grilled cheese and fries for under $5 then have a huge bowl of ice cream.

Mmm, homemade peanut butter pie.

One day we spent in West Virginia. I just picked out a route on the map and we went on a road trip on secondary roads and through small towns. We stopped at a couple state parks and a nature reserve and went out hiking around. We stopped in small diners and listened to bluegrass music on the radio and just enjoyed being together; no schedules, no plans, no dogs, just us. 

I almost believe it.
Ohio River

 On Thursday morning I went to visit Dad and wrote about that in my previous post. On Thursday evening though I had the privilege to meet a fellow blogger; the one and only Sarcastic Bastard. We left one side of Buttfuck Ohio to drive to the other side of Buttfuck Ohio to meet her fabulousness for dinner and drinks. She brought along her Moms (you know a person must be safe when meeting people from the internet) and we had a wonderful evening together. We arrived 1/2 hour late because we got stuck in traffic/road construction in Columbus and I was praying she had not left thinking we had stood her up. It didn't help that I really didn't know what she looked like, except for a glance at a picture she had posted for a short time. Luckily A and I have pictures posted everywhere so we were recognizable. We walked into the restaurant, looked around anxiously and then SB was there hugging us. 

It is so seldom that I meet someone that I'm instantly comfortable with. I'm usually so shy and quiet with new people but we felt like old friends...well more like family. You know the real family that you enjoy spending time with because you love so much not because you're required to. :) The evening went by too quickly; SB had to work in the morning, A and I had a 2 hour drive home to our campsite. Pictures were taken (but will not be shared), hugs and good-byes were exchanged. I wish we would have had another day. I know this will not be our last trip to Buttfuck Ohio and next trip maybe we will take the moms up on her offer and plug in for a few days at her house. 
To be continued...

Monday, June 20, 2011


Officially Father's day is almost over but well I'm late for everything else, so why not this too. I spent most of the day installing new flooring in the hallway. Yesterday morning I had planned to steam clean the carpet but by the afternoon I changed my mind and instead ripped out carpet and picked up new flooring at Home Depot. Anyway since it was a one person job and A was keeping busy and out of my way, I had a lot of time to think as I worked. I figured today was as good as any to write about my latest visit with dad.
I think this picture was taken of my dad and I on my second birthday. I'm pretty sure that was the year I received that fabulous tricycle. I'm surprised I still remember that bike. 

When A and I arrived in Ohio, I admit I didn't go to see dad right away. He didn't know I was coming and I was concerned that he would worry/obsess about our visit. Plus every conversation I've had with him the last 6 months has been about him returning to Minnesota so I honestly was dragging my feet to have that conversation face-to-face. When my aunt (my mom's sister) offered to go along with us to visit, I sighed with relief at having that extra support. She goes to visit him every couple weeks.

Thursday morning we drove the care facility where he is living. I was relieved to see how nice it was. A and I were inspecting everything. :) He was still in bed and my aunt walked in first. He looked up and gave her a little wave. She leaned over and told him she brought a surprise, that A and I were there. He looked at me, said "hi" and just launched into bitching and complaining. He wasn't really complaining about anything in the present, he was still complaining about things that happened a year or more ago. I wasn't really able to have much of a conversation with him. We just sat back and listened to him talk and I realized that he is living in the past. He told us the same stories he's told us for years. He thinks he still has a job here in MN and wonders when he will be able to get back to work. He knows he needs to live somewhere where he can be taken care of but also thinks he can drive, return to MN and move back into his apartment. He goes back and forth between knowing his grandchildren live in South Dakota to thinking they are still living across the street from me. 

It was a beautiful day so we took him outside to sit for awhile. I was relieved to see that Dad still very much looks the same. He was thinner but not overly so and he is eating well. 
As for the person my dad was, well that person is very much gone. I didn't realize how much that has effected me until I typed it right now. I've been hiding (or suffocating) that fact; pushing it down and forcing myself to look at this from a medical perspective.
The most obvious thing to me was when I arrived and gave dad a hug, he showed no emotion. He didn't hug me back or hold my hand or do any of the things he normally would have. He didn't even call me "Mac", the nickname he gave me before I can remember. When I left the hospital last August, he was weak but he kept rubbing my hand with his good one and telling me "I love ya Mac". When my brothers and I left he cried. This time there was emotion just talk about nothing that really matters anymore. 

I didn't show any emotion either.
A was on stand-by. Nothing happened. I think she's still waiting.

I don't think dad even remembers my visit and maybe that's for the best. While I was there, I called one of my brothers so they could talk to him and then I forgot my phone in his room when I left. By the time I realized it, one of the employees had found it and taken it to the office. When they asked dad if he knew whose phone it was, he didn't know and didn't know who had been there to visit. 

Not all my thoughts on this Father's Day were sad though. I also remembered my grandpa this day.
This is the first and only topless picture you will find of me on the internet. I must have been a little over a year old when this picture was taken which would have made my grandpa around 75. I'm eating a grape popsicle. My mom tells me it was the only flavor I would eat at that time.

In many ways, my grandpa was more of a father figure to me than dad. He was kind and stable and peaceful. He told great stories and drew pictures and carved airplanes out of wood. He was always humming a song and after a few drinks, he might sing. After a few more drinks he might dance too. I would sit on his lap and eat cookies, doughnuts or crackers dipped in coffee. He would fry eggs and make us sandwiches. Mom tells the story of returning home to find my diaper secured with black electrical tape (in the days before re-positionable fasteners). He sat in a chair in the corner of our huge kitchen reading large print westerns. He had a nickname for everyone and gave me the name "little fuzz" when I was 3 days old; 35 years later some still call me by that name. He was the one who would tell me that my dad's obsessive behavior and fighting with my mom "wasn't right". 

He was already 52 years old when my mom was born and raising his second family. When my parents divorced, we moved back with him. By that time he was around 80 years old. He should have been enjoying his time but took us in, supported us financially when dad wouldn't and never seemed to regret it one bit. He always took me with him as he worked around the house. I would sit as he fixed things and he showed me how things worked. To this day I swear that if I'm stuck on some project around the house, I will set it aside and that night I will find the solution in my dreams...usually suggested by grandpa. He was the one who would tell me that it didn't matter I was a girl, I could do anything I wanted. That's pretty forward thinking for a man born in 1902.
Of all the people who have come and gone from my life, he is the one person I miss the most.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Vacation Withdrawls

We've been home for days and have too easily slipped into the same old routine. That's so frustrating after having such a nice relaxing vacation. I don't want to be pulled back into reality. I don't want to live on a schedule. I want to have A back; have her all to myself and we can cruise around exploring and meeting new/old friends and sing along with the radio at the top of our lungs and dance by the campfire and flirt and play and just do whatever we want. Is that too much to ask?

When we pulled up in front of our house Sunday afternoon the dogs went crazy. They knew they were home and for the next 3 hours proceeded to run through the house and backyard until I was wishing I would have dropped a couple of them out along the interstate. Within 2 hours, A and I had the RV almost completely cleaned out and I had already washed two loads of laundry. Not bad since we spent a week packing and lived in there for 9 days.

We arrived home to find our flower beds in bloom; full of lilies, roses and daisies. There were only a few iris left after the heavy rain. We missed the lilacs but I was thrilled that we didn't miss the peonies since those are my favorites of the summer. The three older bushes were collapsing under the weight of the blooms and this year we had two newer bushes produce just one flower each. 

They are all different varieties and the scents differ but when I cut those glorious blooms, I had enough to fill 2 large vases and in one smaller vase I added a few daisies and iris (FYI: I never claimed to have any talent for flower arrangement). When I brought them inside the scent filled our house.

As I sit here, I can smell them even though they are past their prime. I suppose by tomorrow I'll have to take them out to compost.

I wrote a little about our trip almost everyday, but I need to go through and fill in some things and add pictures. Meanwhile, I'm getting around to catching up on reading blogs and my email was overflowing.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Pre-Vacation Brain Dump

We're on the countdown. I should be sleeping since I have to go to work in the morning and then we leave in the afternoon. I'm excited to see friends and family. I'm excited about traveling with A and getting the dogs transported. I'm excited about taking A out for day trips and hiking around in the hills. After all that is "home" even if I don't live there anymore. The one part of my trip that gives me any concern is seeing my father. I don't really know what to expect from the visit but I'm not expecting things to go well. Of course when I don't want to deal with something uncomfortable, my natural response is to avoid.

Since my dad had his stroke last August, I haven't shared much about him. When I left Ohio to return to Minnesota, I was surprised that dad was even still alive. He was not expected to make it through the weekend. He did and insisted to my brothers and I that he wanted to stay in Ohio. He absolutely did not want to return to Minnesota. I truly felt that when I drove away that would be the last time I would see my dad alive. But as bad as I felt for having to leave, my life had to continue and I had to come home; my life, work and most importantly A was here.  I honestly started to feel like I was going a little insane without her; like I was barely holding myself together. I drove home almost straight through feeling exhausted and  bruised.

Since I came home last August, Dad's health has been an up/down thing and now it seems that he's declining more both mentally and physically. His heart is weak, he has not regained much mobility on his left side and the medications used to prevent blood clots is so harsh that it alone causes additional complications. 

Last fall he started calling and telling me he wanted to return to Minnesota. He called us all hours of the day and night. He left multiple repetitive and angry messages on our phones and then became even more angry when we didn't answer (we were working). He wanted my brother and I to come get him. Even now when I talk to him he goes back and forth between knowing he can't do things to thinking he can come back here, live on his own and if he could just find his keys, he would go out, get in his truck and drive himself back. He was paranoid (that's not unusual for him) but it was worse than usual and he was manipulating family members to fight each other as well as for sympathy. These behaviors have decreased a little the past few months and I think it's because he'a failing more physically. Maybe he has just given up. 

I have been a caregiver for many patients with dementia and those suffering from conditions that have caused them loss of control over their world. I understand the psychology behind these behaviors but it's different being on the inside as a family member. It's hard to block the emotional part of things; take a deep breath, step back and think about what's really going on. 

Dad doesn't know I'm coming. I didn't tell any of my family until just a few weeks ago for different reasons. If dad knew I were coming to visit, he would be convinced that A and I are picking him up to drive him back. I didn't tell my mom because I didn't want her trying to hitch a ride. He has been manipulating her to the max these past months and I know his situation contributed to her mental/depression issues. Even when I told her a few weeks ago about out trip, she asked shocked if we were planning to bring him back in the RV! Seriously, I think she's delusional too! No matter how many times I talk to her about the medical risks, financial situation and liability involved, she just doesn't get it. In the end, I end up "being the bad person" for not giving a sick man what he wants. I say bullshit! Both my brothers and I believe that he is too medically unstable to transport and if he did come back here, he would have the same complaints. He would accuse us of not taking care of him too. And I know my mother well enough to know that dad wouldn't even be here 24 hours and she would be talking about how sick she was of him. 

Well I should try to get some sleep now. Maybe since I wrote these things down my brain will be lighter. I'm sorry if things don't make sense but I weary. I'm sure I'm just making more of this situation in my mind and reality will be much better. Here's hoping.