Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
I watched The Namesake last night. A friend had recommended it a while back. I can't remember if it was before or after Karl's death - the movie was released in 2007, but who knows when my friend saw it and thought I'd like it. The title had bounced around in my head for a few years, anyway.
It's one of those movies that sweeps through time, encompassing multiple generations as they grow and mature. There's only time to show snapshots - small moments that are formative to the characters as they learn who they are.
It's also a movie filled with themes that resonate with me, but most poignant was Ashima's last conversation with her husband, because it so closely mirrored my own. It was eerie and a little disconcerting to witness the shock and grief of another woman, fictional tho she may have been, living the same nightmare I had lived.
Oddly, tho, I had no trouble sleeping last night. I liked the film and believed the characters - they were charmingly human in their imperfections. I cried for their suffering as I watched, but it just didn't seem to carry into my dreams, which were no worse or better than they have been of late.
Of course, that's not saying anything, really, because they have been a little overwhelming. Last week a particularly painful dream, one where Karl and I were sitting in bed together, excited about the baby girl growing in my belly, watching Elliot play, all of us so happy... and all the while I knew he was gone, knew it was a dream, kept telling my dream self that I would have to wake up. And he would not be there, and my belly would hold nothing but the remains of last night's burritos, and perhaps a little too much gas.
I'd worried about opening myself up to this story, but I enjoyed the movie, which had a generally optimistic message. We survive broken hearts, just as we sometimes survive broken bodies... right up until the moment we no longer can. And every one of those moments is, in fact, a gift.
Monday, December 6, 2010
Sometimes it's hard to be honest.
I like to record the best parts of my life here, and recently there's been a lot of good fodder for that. I haven't taken the time since getting home to write about all the great moments that added up to our amazing trip. The cruise was wonderful. My first dive couldn't have been much better without actually spotting mythical creatures. Elliot thoroughly enjoyed every* aspect of the boat. In short, it really was a dream vacation for me.
But vacations end, and tonight there's a lingering feeling of unrest. I can't bend it and twist it into poetry or submerge it beneath the greater joys.
It's partly the cold - we've hit the time of year when the hot water just can't make it through the cold pipes, so my usual hot bath is only tepid at best; my feet won't stop aching with the chill, even in 3 layers of socks. I hunch forward in the car, sitting on one hand, driving with the other, switching as feeling returns to the left, and leaves the right. I don't handle winter well.
More than just the weather, tho, is the season. Karl loved Christmas. I'm trying to love it but it's never been easy for me: the forced togetherness can cause undue stress for we social anxiety sufferers, and the family and media pressure for it to be a happy time - the Best Of Times - it wears me out.
It isn't that I'm not happy. I have so much happiness in my life, and I'm so grateful... The problem is, at the same time, I'm so deeply sad I don't know how express it. To say I miss him, to say I'm lonely, it's such an understatement. But here I am trying to put feelings into words - knowing there's really nothing to be said.
It's just one of those nights that I can't sleep, and I can't clear my head. One of those nights I'm not scared of the dark, but it does take away my balance. Tomorrow will be brighter, and I'll tell you stories about floating.
For now, dark and drifting, I'm keeping the details to myself.
*He's not so good at being served. Independent? Stubborn? Oh, yes. Stories to come.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
So our plan is to tough it out with OTC stuff till Monday, and if we're not better call in the big guns. I'm not generally one to use antibiotics, but if I can knock out this sinus trouble before I dive, I can relax my standards a bit.
Since we've been lethargic and napping on and off all day it's now near midnight and somebody is still up.
So, embarrassing mommy moment of the day: Elliot went potty all by himself wiped, flushed, *and* put his own pants back on, and I cried. Seriously. I blame the fever.
Wish us well, because I can't take much more.
Monday, November 15, 2010
The class, which I took through West End Diving, and at Bonne Terre Mine, was fantastic. We met for two days of work in the classroom and a local indoor pool, then the following week two days diving at the mine.
I'm not a fan of cold, and the water there is a balmy 58 degrees, but despite being certain when I first jumped in that I would either a: fail the class, b: quit the class, or c: die of hypothermia, none of these things happened.
Instead, despite being uncomfortably freezing during the first few dives, I enjoyed it tremendously. We did skills the first day, which meant sitting still a lot and waiting. That's when the cold really got to me. Once we were done with the self-rescue stuff (clearing masks, retrieving dropped regulators, working out leg cramps) we got to be more active, and the cold became less of a factor as the muscles started to work harder than the brain.
Day two at the mine was all active and I barely noticed the cold. We learned to set our bearings on a compass and follow them underwater. We learned to maintain neutral buoyancy while swimming and changing depth. We played circus and swam through a series of rings, and played catch with a pool torpedo at 30 ft. And yes, I throw like a girl underwater, too.
Between our second and third dives I was sitting on the dock swimming in my own little emotional whirlpool. I missed Karl so much during the class. He would have teased me about being cold and found it brisk and invigorating. He would have cheesily held my hand as we swam on the tour. He would have made instant friends with half the class, and told wonderful stories of our SCUBA adventure to all our friends at home.
But if he were here, we would have never been in the class. The only way I could justify the expense, really the only way I could pay for it at all, was the life insurance policy I've been so hesitant to touch for two years. It's my safety net, and my security blanket. That money will help make sure Elliot gets a good education. It may also help me build a studio someday. Despite wanting many reasonable things, I haven't dipped into that reserve till now.
When my friends invited us to go on a Disney cruise with them, I felt like it was something I had to do. It was something Karl would have done. He didn't let money, or the lack of it, get in the way of life.
As several people in the class said after loosing equipment over the 130 ft abyss of the mine, "It's only money. We'll get a new one." Granted my classmates were in an entirely different tax bracket, but still, it's true.
I sat on the dock, missing Karl, but happy, and knowing I was doing exactly the right thing. I've wanted to get certified since I took a recreational class in high school. That's been, well, more years than I like to admit.
I've always been responsible with my spending, sometimes to the point of denying myself even small luxuries. When I got married, I had zero debt and a healthy IRA started. My husband, well, let's say he had other priorities. And I'm coming to believe he was right about that to.
How we spend our time is far more important than how we spend our money.
Extremely bad planning with my finances will lead to time badly spent, but a little indulgence here or there, especially on experiences that mean something, truly are priceless.
So, SCUBA + Disney Cruise + Bahamas = smaller bank account = bigger life.
I can make more money.
I can't make more time.
We leave Black Friday for Florida. Sometime around Monday, I'll be jumping from the deck of a boat into the ocean, chasing a long time dream. Karl will be right there beside me, reminding me to go ahead and buy that underwater camera, because you only live once, and it's only money.
I can't wait to report the underwater conditions when we get back.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
but i got sidetracked.
so instead, a quote, perhaps, about more than one man in my life:
Move that melon of yours and get the paper if ya can. Hualin' that gargantuan cranium about. Look at the size of that head it’s like an orange on a toothpick. I’m not kiddin that boy’s head’s like Sputnik. Spherical but quite pointy at parts. That was enough said isn’t it. He’ll be cryin himself asleep tonight on his huge pillow.
Monday, November 1, 2010
We headed up to Wisconsin on Thursday to visit with Karl's family. Growing up, his grandmother had a tree farm an hour west of Green Bay, and when she passed, it was divided between her three sons. Karl's dad now stays young tending to various duties on the property - not the trees as much as the golf course he made out of one of the cleared fields, and the collection of vehicles around the place, not to mention the farmhouse itself.
It's always bittersweet to visit. Karl loved the farm, and always dreamed of moving up there when his parents were gone. Our visits there before and after we were married were full of good times and happy memories. The year we went up for Thanksgiving and the whole property was blanketed in snow, Karl wanted me to go walk with him, but as soon as I stepped outside my eyes froze shut and I'm pretty sure a lung collapsed in the sub-zero wind chill. That pretty much killed his dream of moving to the farm, but not his love of it.
I was sitting in the kitchen with Donna. Elliot was napping, and Harley and Phil were out working on the RV. As she puttered in the kitchen I sat at the table knitting and listening to her whistle under her breath - not constantly, but as she paused between motions, deciding on the next job to do. After a few minutes listening, I said, "So that's where Karl got the whistling. It used to drive me crazy sometimes." There were times when I thought that was the only reason he did it, really.
She seemed a little off guard, and her eyes got a little misty. "I don't know why I do it. I started sometime when I was a little girl, I guess. I always teased Harley that I'd get him whistling, yet."
After a pause, "It's hard, isn't it? Missing him?"
I agreed, and that was that. I went back to my knitting, and she to her housework.
Some highlights of the visit, in no particular order:
Elliot helped Grandma pick up sticks out in the yard. One of Karl's favorite photos as a child was of him and his Grandma K out in the same yard working on the same task, but the trees were smaller then.
While Harley was servicing his new (used) riding mower, Phil and I tool Elliot out on the golf cart and he hit his first few balls. Not exactly skillfully but with enthusiasm. Like father, like son.
Thursday night, as Harley read from Luther's something or the other, (I am not well versed in the verses of the Lutherans...) Elliot sat on my lap. I was wearing Karl's "Mini Van, Mega Fun" tee shirt as my pajamas, and he was looking at the line drawing of the van. Then he was distracted by the shapes underneath. He began to rub my chest, and rather embarrassingly clearly, said "I love you, boob."
In church Saturday night (we were leaving early Sunday) Elliot loudly denied everything the minister was preaching. I may have waited longer than was strictly necessary before removing him from Jesus' room.
Watching Phil play with Elliot, I almost had to wonder if I could have survived Karl's inevitable wildness... Besides looking enough like Karl that it's sometimes creepy, Phil has the same goofy sense of humor and childlike enthusiasm. Easy to be transported into the world of "if only..."
All in all we had an excellent trip, and can't wait to go back. El, in fact, woke up this morning crying, "No. No. I don't want to be home. Let's go back, Mommy. Please, let's go back..."
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
He was hesitant from the moment we got to the door, but went in despite his trepidations. He didn't want to go back to the exam room, and once we were there his anxiety just continued to grow. He didn't want the nurse to listen to his heart, didn't want the doctor to come near him. I got a little reprimand (in the form of helpful advice) for not having prepared him well for the visit. We are now the proud owners of a Doctor's Tools Playset.
We made it through the Dr. part of the visit, but when she left, he wanted to go with her. I'm sure he remembered what happened last year after she left, and I'm sure it was the source of the anxiety. Unfortunately they were running a little slow today and he had to wait 5 minutes between the Dr. leaving and the nurse coming back for shots. He started out just whining a bit, but by 3 minutes into waiting he was full on crying, and by the time the nurse opened the door he'd thrown himself on the floor and was full on shrieking.
I had to hold him down for the shots, but ultimately I don't think it was as bad as he thought because when she left, he seemed to be looking in her tray for another shot (or maybe another bandaid). We went out to the waiting room, and instead of leaving he rushed back down the hall to the exam room. I was trying not to make it more traumatic than it had been, so I tried to let him leave calmly of his own accord, but he flat out refused.
So I carried him, screaming and protesting, *out* of the doctor's office...
We got home and spent a few minutes checking temperatures, blood pressure, and heartbeats with the new MD kit. He's pretty insistent that the eye/ear checker is a hammer made to forcibly drive the bandaid down into your flesh, so yeah, the familiarizing with medical equipment is going great so far.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
to live softly
to dream in shallows
not reach for rushing
she told me (trembling)
what it mean
i listened because
her voice was mine
her eyes were mine
her heart was mine
one foot on shore
for only a moment
your own hands bound
you gave me this gift
my hands are my own
(she cannot take them, now)
and you left me
and reaching in the water,
my hands are my own
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Sometimes I take pictures of Elliot, and he's way off center. Partly I do it as a compositional thing - I like asymmetric images, and reference the rule of thirds when asked why.
Looking through photos this week, as we approached and passed his third birthday, I began to see Karl in the empty spaces. I've gone back and forth in my head the past few years on the whole afterlife thing. Usually I'm fine with admitting I have no idea - sometimes I struggle to find evidence for or against. Regardless of what else it means, I do often feel like Karl is here, while I know he is not.
In planning the menu (such as it is) for tomorrow's brunch, I wanted to invite him, so I thought I'd use one of his favorite recipes. I'll be making Louies, which I haven't had in ages. I couldn't remember exactly how to put them together, so I searched his blog for "Tuna."
God, that man was brilliant.
Not for cooking, tho I did love that. Tuna just happened to bring up a great set of posts on things other than food.
I love that the results take you from bachelorhood to fatherhood. The irony in some of his Meme responses is sometimes poignant, sometimes hysterical. Not one of the posts can be read without seeing him, bigger than life, writing joyfully and loving the play of one word next to another.
(and certainly not with the prudish elegance of a scholar)
Didn’t we cover this in the living situation portion? My sister thinks having one would do me a world of good. I am in no hurry. I know I’d make a good father, but this question so puts the cart before the horse. I like being an uncle too, so if it doesn’t happen I’m ok with that. Uncle’s have it good and are not required to change any diapers.
21. FAVORITE ALCOHOLIC DRINK?
Do you really need to ask that at this point? We could change the name of this blog to Supersonic Gin & Tonic.
29. DO YOU TYPE WITH YOUR FINGERS ON THE RIGHT KEYS?
Right according to who? Fuckers. I hate that shit. THERE IS NO ONE RIGHT WAY TO ANYTHING EVER ANYWHERE AT ANY TIME UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE!!!!!! Got it? The whole universe is wide open and we’ve got all these little control Nazis trying to pretend it isn’t. Look up in the sky at night. Are your eyes on the right stars? Stupid question.
Friday, October 15, 2010
By the time I got there this morning to pick him up (after 2 loads of laundry, 1 load of dishes, and a quick shower) it was 10:30. He shut down all attempts at singing Happy Birthday, but warmed up fast when I pulled a present into his field of vision.
I had ordered some Cars stuff from the Disney site, and am disappointed to say that Mater came with a broken wheel, so not 5 minutes into his birthday toys I had to take one away. Fortunately I have the coolest kid in the world, and he just rolled with it... (or, rather, without it :)
Elliot, Grandma, Poobah, and I headed out for the day's Big Adventure - a trip to the Whittle Shortline Store to play with the tracks and buy a new piece for his train at home. I was again a little disappointed to find (this was our first time visiting the store) they had very few track pieces, and mainly only their own line of trains available for purchase. Fortunately, Elliot was enthralled with their train setups and dove right in to playing. After about 45 minutes, I talked him into picking a new car (he chose a green tank car) and coming with us to have lunch, then maybe ride a train later.
This had him ready to go in no time, and on the way to the car he told us that we would be riding the train, and a boat, and eating ice cream. He sounded so certain, but only one of the three really happened. We headed to Kirkwood and had a nice late lunch at Bar Louie across from the train station. Just as we were sitting down, the Amtrak pulled in, and Elliot really got a kick out of watching the crossing gates flash and the people get on and off the train. Magically, his kids meal came with an Ice Cream Sundae. Hooray!
While we'd toyed with the idea of heading down to the metrolink so he could ride a "real" train, he seemed pretty warn out, and fell fast asleep in the car.
Since he was napping, I headed out for errands. I ran home, ran another load of laundry and grabbed the dog. Then we hit the glass studio to check on some pieces made earlier this week. By the time I got back to Mom's he'd woken up and was hard at play with his trains.
We opted for eating in, since we all seemed pretty run down from the days activities. By 8:30, Elliot seemed to be winding down and I asked if he wanted to stay at Grandma's so Mommy could finish cleaning tomorrow for his party.
He practically threw me out onto the street...
So, since Matt and Vanessa were in town, I headed to Karaoke! Who needs sleep!?!!? I completely flubbed my first attempt because I got "least complicated" mixed up with "closer to fine" and so stood there completely unable to sing as the words floated by. Lucky it was a slow and forgiving crowd. I got a chance to fix my blunder, did "Closer to Fine" and "The Gambler" and broke in on Ashley's "Put a Ring on It" because, really, who can just sit that one out? Beth rocked the house with "When You're Good to Mama" and Matt, in the most appropriately chosen Karaoke ever, sang "Great Balls of Fire." His vasectomy this week went well, but he seemed a little tender walking up to the bar...
So on a scale of one to ten, today gets two thumbs up with a groovy, danceable beat and a cherry on top.
Happy Birthday, Elliot!
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Nowdays, it's more like this:
Tonight as I was talking to him about his birthday, he thought it was very funny that he had been in my belly.
We looked at before and after photos - him in and out. Naturally, right after the out photos were pictures of Karl holding him.
"That's my daddy. He's holding me." Elliot said in a dreamy way. He sounded happy about it, but also a little confused. He said it again, "My daddy...."
He climbed off my lap with, "Hmm. Let's go find... Hmmm...."
He wondered around in the front room, then noticed his trains. "There's Edward! The big red train is pushing Edward!"
Moment over. Back to your regularly scheduled life.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
I'm also trying to fight off my annual winter blah, which has already started to rear it's head a bit. I despise the cold, and the few mornings last week I woke up and it was too chilly to get out of bed without a string of curses, well, it's not good. Besides cranking the heat and spending too much on the gas bill I don't have a solution. Something tells me moving to Boston would not make my life that much warmer...
Elliot's birthday is coming up fast, and I need to get the house in order, but the blah has me a little under motivated. I did get a lot done yesterday, but I really hope it isn't too chilly this week so I can get more done and not have my whole Saturday spent frantically trying to clean and prep.
None of this is leading to anything interesting or print worthy it seems, so I best sign off now and go do some laundry. Woot.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
So once again when people come for Elliot's birthday there will be a few boxes of miscellany that are headed for the goodwill unless somebody else wants them. And I will make myself be okay with that, because as I start to seriously consider moving, I need to pare down.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
We've been going to the Magic House once a week on Wednesdays for First School, a schoolroom setting designed for kids who didn't quite make the age cut for pre-school. Elliot usually shares (sometimes agressivly) with the other kids, tho other than to force a toy into their hands he doesn't interact with them as much as I'd like. It's a fairly large group, and he's still a little overwhelmed I think. He's always excited to go, and asks frequently throughout the week about when we will go.
He's got this habit lately when he's in independent mode of letting me know I'm not needed. It's funny, because he'll be in the other room, and I'll think "Is he doing ok? What is he up to...?" And I'll peek in, and as soon as he catches my eye, he says "Nothing." It's even cuter because it sounds like "No Tin" when he says it.
So often I'll be thinking something towards him; "Do you need a drink? Do you want me to hold you? Where are your shoes?" and he's keyed in enough to my routines I guess that he answers me a lot before I ask. Or maybe I'm cued in to him and he projects the questions into my brain... either way, it's strangely wonderful.
Less wonderful is my complete lack of decision making ability on what to do to celebrate his big day. He doesn't really have playmates, so any party we have will be friends and family... so i should just do something at the house.
But, of course, lately i've been sinking a little into my cold weather funk, and that means not taking very good care of the house. So hosting a party is intimidating at best. That, and I'm still a little off balance from August and September and all the bumps and bruises those months now bring.
But I think I'm going to do my typical Sunday brunch, only with a later start and birthday cake. I'm leaning that way, and we'll just see if I've once again waited too long and nobody can make it. Less cooking and cleaning for me ;)
Sunday, October 3, 2010
I think in the past few years I've been to more weddings than I have friends. I'm not sure it's possible, but I'm also sure it might be true.
I've been trying to put them on a time line in my head tonight.
Karl, Elliot, and I went to:
Jon and Bridgett
Vick and Randy
Elliot and I went to:
Justin and Kristy*
Bethany and Brian
Johnathan and Jennibet
Jim and Anna*
Kelly and Jeff (me only)*
Vanessa and Matt (reception only)
Erica and Nick*
Angelica and Justin*
and tonight, Scott and Brandy*.
I tell you this because weddings are kind of emotionally charged for me, and in 3 years I haven't had much time off from them. 11 weddings in 3 years, 9 since Karl died. And I don't think I've made it through one without crying. Those with * I worked in some capacity - photographer, wedding party, or wrangling Elliot into a wedding party :)
The emotions are complicated, because joy mixes with sorrow, and all the encouraging things I want to say seem like they may twist into downers; Cherish each other because you just don't know when that 'till death may us part' might sneak up and bite you in the ass? Love each other and forgive each other, and be grateful for another person who wants to be with you, because you forget how hard it is to find that person. It's the same advice any married couple might give, but from me, widowed, it feels so gloomy.
On a side note, my hat goes off to all the single parents out there. Wrangling my son through putting on a tux and serving as a ring bearer in a wedding challenged my patience as well as my biceps. Lugging a kid, a camera, toys, treats, juice, and a gps around today, I felt a little like I was planning to invade a small country, not just attend my brother's wedding.
The point where I had a football, ring pillow, slr camera, purse, and tux jacket in my hands, and he looked up and said "Hold me, please, mommy." for a minute I felt so helpless. I had a block to go to the car, and I didn't know if we'd actually make it. At that moment I missed Karl more than ever, and sent out a little wave of appreciation and encouragement to all the other singles out there doing this alone.
Then I packed the camera in my purse, secured between the plush football and pillow. I tucked Elliot's jacket through the straps, hitched it over my shoulder, and lifted him on my other arm.
We made it to the car, and I made it through the day, through joy and sorrow, hope and frustration.
I'm ready for a little sleep, and watching the mailbox for the next save-the-date. I may just about have these things figured out.
Monday, September 27, 2010
I'm working on a logo. Perhaps not the first thing one should consider when pondering a business, but as an artist and visual learner, I'm more inclined to believe in something that I have a picture of. So here's my first shot at a studio logo.
Now I just need to work out the details - a space, equipment a business plan... little things. I'm envisioning a small teaching and production studio with areas for glass, fiber, and ceramics.
I have a name.
I have a logo.
I can make this a real thing.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
We're going on this cruise in November, and the one excursion I had my heart set on was a scuba trip. It turns out, when you read the fine print, that one needs a certification for this. Part of me thinks the practical thing is to skip it this time and take a class next year.
But the bigger part of me has spent the last hour reading up on local dive certification centers.
I took a class in high school, and I loved it. We only ever dove in the school's swimming pool, but I dreamed of diving for treasure in ancient shipwrecks. So few of our childhood dreams are ever realized, and here I see one in arm's reach... but the costs, in time and money, are holding me back.
"Would I be crazier to do it, or not to?'' I ask myself. . .
Time will tell.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Wednesday, Elliot demonstrated the power of genetics (sort of) by running full speed into a glass wall at the Magic House. It seems when we get excited about things, we don't pay attention to certain critical details. For me, trying not to hit the glass on any of the many obstacles in my way, and instead hitting myself. For Elliot, seeing only the miniature train rolling down the track and not the big rr crossing signs affixed to the glass just above his eye level.
So now I'm sporting a burn and he's sporting a bruise, and I have a feeling neither of us will really learn from our mistakes...
Thursday, September 23, 2010
While I may not always be keyed in to the date (i'm bad with those things) be assured that your mentioning the day will not suddenly remind me of a forgotten pain. Instead it will let me know that you, like me, loved Karl and miss him, and care about how we're faring without him.
While I'm still terribly sad that we lost our monkey, I can remember the good days - the happy days, and be glad for the memories.
Just like I forced denial upon everybody for that first birthday, insisting on happiness through tears, I say now that while we feel the sadness, let's not forget that he'd want us to remember him happy, and be happy, too.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
In a heartbeat I went from feeling like I'd made a special, unique, heartfelt contribution to being a pathetic lurking stalker with nothing meaningful to give, burdening them with some trinket they have to look after till their next function.
And I feel even shittier for feeling shitty about them, because I believe in what they do.
I understand they are busy and it's the last minute, but one would think when your whole organization is about helping widows, you could at least be grateful and gracious when one tries (if unsuccessfully) to reach out.
I would print the letter here, but I was intimidated by the privacy clause at the end of the email. It was really just a few sentences that said "Thanks, but you're too late. We'll put it in the closet and pull it out next year."
Nothing about it being lovely. Not "I'm sorry we won't be able to use it." No comment on the story I included or the meaning I attempted to put into it.
Just the stern rebuke of a grade school teacher; "It is unfortunate you were ill, but all late papers receive a failing grade."
You are dismissed.
While I'm certain (well, ok, hopeful) that it was not meant that way, it feels personal. I poured a lot of emotion into the piece, and it took a lot of time because I desperately wanted it to be perfect - to be special. I sprinted toward the finish as fast as I could, but I suppose not fast enough.
I know I'm over-reacting, and I do hope nobody actually reads this (by nobody, I don't mean *you*, I mean *them*) but if you can't be honest, what point is there having a blog?
So while the logical part of my brain understands the decision, the emotional side has just been slapped in the face, and can only say, "Yeah. Well, f*&# them."
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
He's a fun age in that he doesn't exactly understand what we're doing when we do new things, but he's enthusiastic. I showed him pictures of old trains on the internet and asked if he wanted to go there today. He started bouncing around and rushed off to get dressed.
I dropped the parcel in the post with delivery confirmation, and it should get there Thursday. Here's hoping they take it - I send an email and heard nothing back. I'm sure they are busy, but it would have been nice to get a yes or no on whether or not they were still accepting donations. It's theirs now, either way.
So, from the PO to the MOT. We looked at the old cars and trucks first, which he totally dug. He went up and down the display about 6 times, talking the whole way. He's a born tour guide it seems, just like Pawpaw.
Then we headed out to the trains. When we were in the first train, a guy came in with his son, who was a little older than Elliot. As they explored the train we chatted casually about the beautiful weather, and that this was way cooler than watching ANOTHER episode of Thomas. The boys were ready to move on at the same time, so we walked together for a bit.
In the next display, Elliot reached over for this guy's hand as he was climbing the steps. He was a father of 4, and took it in stride, glancing at me to make sure it was ok with mom. I was fine with it, since we'd been chatting a while and he didn't mind.
His son wanted to move on before Elliot, and they started to wander off down the tracks. Elliot looked up and started to follow them. Then he looked back at me, said "I'm going with my dad." and started after them. I realize he still has no idea what that means, and that some other boy was calling this man "Dad," so that's who he must be, but it froze me in place for a few seconds.
I decided not to correct him or make a big deal out of it, but to see what he would do. He walked over to the man, said "Hi, Dad." and grinned.
As we walked through the museum, "Dad" talked about his role as an adoptive and foster parent, and what a surprise his son had been after 10 years of trying with his wife, and finally adopting 3 kids. He mentioned a recent trauma when his 3 older kids were talking about being adopted, and his 4 year old was in tears because he wasn't, and another when they had to give twins they had been fostering for 3 years back to an abusive family because of a court error.
Of the kinds of people Elliot might decide are father figures, he seemed of a high enough caliber to make any kid proud of his dad, but it sure did put a rough edge on missing piece of my heart.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Monday, September 6, 2010
For the last year I've been working on my first lace design. It's been an on-again, off-again project, and I've struggled both with making the math work and all the patterns fit together, and making it truly feel like my own work. I'm using some patterns from a stitch dictionary, and it's taken me a while to come to terms with calling it "my" design. Really, tho, these historical designs are no different from the Italian techniques I happily borrow from in glass, or the traditional handle designs I use in clay - they are part of a sort of vocabulary of the craft, and can be borrowed, I think, freely. Particularly when used in a context and merged with other patterns.
So the design piece is nearly finished. It's not what the final pattern will look like, as I've tested various methods and modifications along the way, but it's still quite lovely. I'm so excited to have now made all the major design decisions and to be into the writing and testing phase.
Here's what it looks like so far:
Friday, September 3, 2010
I was thinking tonight about how there's this hole in my heart where Karl was. Not that he's not in there, because, of course, he is, but there's a hole, too. A lot of you know what I'm talking about. Some of you don't. If not, know that you're lucky, and count yourself blessed.
So the hole, it's been there two years now, and it hasn't changed. I thought it got bigger and smaller, and hoped that in time it would shrink to a size that was almost unnoticeable, except maybe when it was poked. Whether it would shrink, or heal, or be somehow filled, I didn't know, but I thought it would change.
Two years. Still there. Same hole.
As I look back, I realize that it's not actually the hole, but my heart that changes. Some days it's bigger, making the hole less obvious in relation. Sometimes it's smaller, and the hole's almost the whole of it. Sometimes it's made of stronger stuff, and the walls don't cave in. Sometimes it's weak and everything crumbles endlessly, raw and bleeding...
I try to grow. I try to improve my fortitude, my emotional composition. I try to visualize and actualize a better me with a bigger, stronger heart. I try to confidently march forward, hole be damned, knowing that even when it's not ok, it will be...
But I still have days when I think I'm doing it all wrong. Days when I'm failing. Days when I'm shrinking. Days when I wonder if I have a thread left to hold on to.
There's something to be said for the link between creativity and the abyss - looking down into the darkness is daunting, but inspiring too.
I was lying in Elliot's bed waiting for him to fall asleep, and I was missing Karl, thinking of all the moments he's missed. I felt a failing in that my memory is so unreliable, I couldn't pull to the front any one moment with Karl, Elliot, and I together. I wanted so much to slip back in time to a happy instant, but they were elusive, slippery vapors I couldn't grasp.
Instead, suddenly I was high above the banks of the Mississippi with Karl and we'd met a young boy. Date night, August 2008. Nathanial, 4 years old, was holding Karl's hand, chatting, and walking back to the train tracks to get more rocks to throw down to the water. I know Karl was feeling Elliot's hand in his, hearing Elliot's voice from this little stranger's mouth.
Instead of bringing me back in time, my memories brought Karl forward.
Ajax, our black cat, sleeping beside the bed, began to snore contentedly.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Last night, while Elliot was sleeping, I put down the play rug I'd taken up several months ago when I rearranged his room. It's a standard Ikea, drive your cars around on your knees kinda thing, and had been in front of his crib for a year.
I guess he didn't remember it.
When he woke up this morning, the first thing he said was "Wow! Look at that, Mommy! It's great! Come and see it when you wake up."
He waited about 30 seconds between rounds of, "Mommy, are you awake yet?" and, "Wake up, Mommy," till I finally came in to see this wonder that had appeared in the night.
"What is it?" I asked.
And he said, in an awed voice, like it was THE most wonderful thing ever, "It's a carpet...!"
Friday, August 27, 2010
I've been a little absent, I know. My internet was down for a week. I guess Charter really likes to get paid...
Anyway, made it through the 22nd. Once more around the sun, and still not a day goes by without at least a whisper of sadness in my heart. Some days the whisper's got a megaphone and it's yellin' into it. Shhh, I say. It'll be okay.
We were at the Lake of the Ozarks for the weekend, because Jet Ski does a body good. Elliot took his first ride, but I didn't take us out into the causeway - just idled around the cove. He's getting so much more aware of things, and able to express himself. He's solemnly informed me of several constants recently; "Red is on top, Green is on bottom." as we passed a stoplight, "I love getting wet." as he splashed in the reflection pool at mobot, and "You will get me juice. . . when you finish that row." when requesting a drink while I was knitting.
Back to another time around the sun - it was my birthday yesterday, and I had a great day. Mom and David had us over for french toast, then Jen and I went for pedicures, then Ted Drews, and finally I had a nice night with the knitted sisters. Tomorrow we celebrate with my dad's side of the family and my nephew, who shares the 26th (or, rather, stole it from me when I was 19) as his birthday too. It's 16 for him, and he celebrated with a tattoo.
I'm still going to make Elliot wait till he's 18, and my new rule is I can only get tattooed on Aug 22nds. So another year for me to fight the urge to collect tattoos, another year for me to fight the whisper and shout joy into the megaphone, another year to live, love, laugh, and generally follow bumper sticker philosophies.
Onward, little planet. Once again around the sun.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
And I'm all like, "Really? You're going to complain to a chatroom full of widows that you're a WIDOW? Not asking for help, not looking for ideas, not trying to improve your life, but just whining? And wanting *hugs* and ((awww)) and 'I'm so sorry.' REALLY?"
My husband didn't get to see his son walk or hear his beautiful voice, but I'm grateful every day that he got to be a dad before he died. I don't have to raise my son alone, I get to have a strong and joyful bond with him because I'm his only parent - I'm one of a kind! I can't find anybody who "gets" me either, but it took me 30 years to find Karl. Am I really going to find somebody equally worthy in under 2? Don't think it likely.
The people who are happy in the world choose to be happy. I saw a great bumper sticker the other day - "Life is not about finding a way to avoid the storms. It's about learning to dance in the rain."
So quit whining and dance, dammit.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Wrong, of course.
On my way home from Knitting tonight, I suddenly had a very loud front end. It turns out nobody at Skinker and Delmar is interested in helping a well dressed white girl change her tire, but they do enjoy the show. I got a lot of stares as I bounced on the tire iron (in wedges, mind you), and a round of applause with a "You go, Nascar!" from a passing man and his son.
I've changed more tires than I can remember, on at least 5 different vehicles, so it was really no big deal, but this was the first time since my "girly girl" style kicked in. It is a bit more daunting in a beaded top, white button down, and pedal pusher slacks than my old jeans and tees, but I managed well. I even had wipes in the car, so my hands were clean and fresh moments after the last lug nut was wrenched back down.
Tomorrow I plan to drive my little doughnut back in to the station and express my disappointment in their "courtesy" check, but really I will likely just meekly ask for a new tire. Which is what I should have done all along.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
The first moment that pops into my mind as I think about the trip was fairly private. It wasn't anything I shared with the family at the time, because I may have broken down.
I was sitting downstairs with Elliot and his cousin Jake, and Karl's brother Andy (Jake's dad) walked by. Jake said "Hey Dad."
Elliot looked up, looked at Jake, looked back at Andy, and said (very quietly, like trying it on) "Hey, Dad."
Deep breath, and moving on.
I was so proud of Elliot as he and Michael walked down the aisle with their little ring pillows, both wearing black tuxes and serious, weighty expressions. Not grumpy, just very focused.
Had we bribed them? Of course. But when it came down to it, Elliot didn't want the promised chocolate when he got to my seat. Instead, he wanted juice, which, of course, I didn't have. So we caused only a minor disruption as we sneaked out the side and went off in search of the reward he wanted.
I rode up with my friend Amber, who was in an art fair in MN. I was very touched that her mother had sent along a treat bag for Elliot - 3 beanie babies, 2 toy cars, and several age appropriate snacks. Nothing thrills a kid as much as new toys (except, of course, the packaging they came in) and El spent nearly half of the 10 hour drive happily playing with those surprise gifts.
Elliot spent a few hours Sunday afternoon without me hovering, as my brother in law insisted that I get a little time to myself to go see my friend's booth at the art fair. My niece and I headed out for an afternoon of heat, humidity, art and smoothies, and Elliot played happily with his Kopitske relations. I like to think it's a good sign that he never minds me leaving him as long as I stick to the routine - tell him where I'm going, that I'll be back, and give him a bye-bye kiss.
We borrowed my niece's car to go back and forth to our hotel at night, and as we got out the first night, Elliot looked at it and said, "It's not mommy's car. It's a rental car." I loved that he remembered the car we drove in Boston was called a 'rental' and so this must be one too.
One of Elliot's two meltdowns happened while trying on the tuxes Thursday. He didn't want to take off his shiny shoes. He did want to take off his underwear. In front of the public mirror, with the sales girls watching. And yes, I have pictures. And if he's not very nice to me, I will show them to his first girlfriend.
Throughout the weekend, he played well with his cousins, shared food and toys, listened and cooperated, and generally made me feel like I was doing things right*. He slow danced with the bride. He gave hugs and kisses to his aunts, uncles, and cousins. He continues to be the greatest source of joy in the world for me, and I'm grateful for him every day. watching him with his father's side of the family, it's easy to see where so much of his buoyant, enthusiastic personality comes from. I'm not saying it's all Kopitske, but they sure do have blessings in spades.
*with one notable exception
So Tuesday last, we went in for Elliot's first non-home haircut.
He went in like this:
and came out like this:
And here's a shot in the middle:
Elliot does not tolerate being physically moved. It's kinda funny, because I once had a huge argument with a then boyfriend because he (gently) moved me aside as he was coming through the room with a box or something. I lost it, and went on for hours about not being part of the furniture, and demanding that I be spoken to, not shoved about... So maybe I'm a little too tolerant of Elliot's behavior, but whatever the reason, he too lost it when Phil moved him.
First I ignored him, hoping he'd come around. Usually this works at home, but with a bigger audience, he was digging his heels in a bit. 5 minutes in, half my in-laws had left the table for quieter parts of the house. Feeling guilty, and a bit of a failure already, I took him into the other room for a little time out.
Instead of calming down, he escalated. He began the "NoMommyNoMommyNoMommy" chant, and tried to squirm off of my lap. At home, my rule is he cannot come out of time out until he is calm, and he wasn't getting calmer. as he screamed at me, I questioned myself, my parenting, my patience, my decision not to spank... I held him gently and occasionally reminded him, calmly, that he would not get down until he stopped yelling.
Finally, half an hour after the initial screams, he took a deep breath and collapsed on my shoulder. He gave me a hug, then slid off my lap. As he crawled up on the couch beside me, Uncle Phil came in and said "Let's go outside and play!"
I shot him a disapproving look, and he said "No? I thought maybe that would end it." While it was true that it would end it, I felt like it was both too soon after the bad behavior for a reward, and also that I had just had a miserable time, and I should get to have fun with him and re-establish our happy relationship before he was whisked away.
"Oh. I see. You need to win." Phil said.
My stomach hit the floor, and my eyes welled up, but I managed to say, "It's not about winning, it's about establishing patterns of behavior. If he cries and throws fits, and gets rewarded, he will cry more and throw more fits... but you've offered, and he's calm, so go ahead."
Phil is so much like Karl. I don't know if it was what he said, or that I heard Karl saying the same thing in my head, but suddenly I felt mean and small and ineffective. I KNOW I'm not - I know I'm a good mom and Elliot and I have a strong bond, but in that moment I questioned everything. They were barely out the door when I started sobbing, and retreated to the bathroom.
When I finally emerged from hiding, it wasn’t to looks of accusation or annoyance from my family, but sympathy and understanding. Elliot is the youngest of 12 grandkids, and my sisters-in-law reassured me that they had all been there, and that this is hard. Being the mom means you’re often the bad guy, even when (or maybe especially when?) dad is in the picture.
My brother in law, the only man there to defend his gender, simply said this:
“Yeah, but when they win the super bowl, who do they say hi to?”
That’s the truth.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
And I'm not yet packed for the trip tomorrow, tho I am nearly packed, so that's something.
I just want to go to sleep, but I have to get a little more done first. So I'll now get the eff off the computer and get 'er done.
Monday, August 2, 2010
but at least i have this to come home to:
He was intelligent and articulate, and seemed willing to talk about things in a straightforward way. I really enjoyed talking to him, and when the topic of whether or not I was "ready to date" came up, I explained that I felt very ready to date, but would have to know my partner well and have a pretty trusting relationship before I would be comfortable with physical intimacy.
In theory, when we talked about it, he was all for the idea of getting to know each other, hanging out, going slow. In practice, he walked me back to my car after dinner and tried to talk me into going home with him.
I refused, as politely and gently as I could.
The next day, I got a the "You're vulnerable, i don't want you to get hurt. We shouldn't date right now" message.
Yeah. Two dates + no nookie = i have a vulnerability problem? If you don't even know somebody's last name yet you probably shouldn't sleep with them - widowed or no.
Buy hey, two dates! That's twice as many as the last guy, and if I can just double the numbers every other time, eventually I'll find something long term, right?
So, who wants to set me up with somebody looking for a 4 date romance?
Friday, July 23, 2010
So the other day I had left him to color in his new coloring book while I did some stuff around the house. He was at his train table, home to many toys and blocks, among them his favorite set of alphabet blocks, which are embossed colored letters on a light wood background.
Or at least they were.
After leaving him alone for about 20 minutes, I returned to the table to find him very hard at work:
The blocks no longer have light backgrounds. They now all have orange backgrounds, some messier than others. As I looked down at his very precise and thorough job of altering his toys, I couldn't help but laugh a little, despite having clearly communicated the rule: we only draw on paper, nothing else. This was not paper. . . But before I could put on my stern mommy face, he looked up can caught me smiling.
His face lit up, and grinning, he said, "I make you happy!"
He threw his arms open for a hug, and what could I do? "Yes," I said, "you make me very happy."
After making him help clean up the marker that had strayed on the tabletop and his non-alphabet blocks, I reminded him again of the rule: we only draw on paper and letter blocks. Nothing else.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Part of the ongoing story carried from one episode to the next was the love interest between the two primary characters. Because I don't want to turn anybody onto or off the series, I'm not going to give details, but let's say it was one of those romances that seemed impossible due to the other commitments in the characters' lives.
So three seasons in (I've been watching every few nights when Elliot goes to bed early), they finally get their priorities straight and decide Love Conquers All. He finally, poetically, passionately declares that he loves her.
She is then unceremoniously and unexpectedly killed.
(this is not what i signed up for)
After scanning episodes on IMDB, it seems the show gets into a habit of killing people off, so I will not be watching it anymore. In the meantime, I'm trying to rewrite the last episode in my head, and reminding myself that these are not people, they are characters. Their fate was determined by the whim of the writers, and could as easily have been different.
In my mind now, I've written off the last scenes as a bad dream, one which the lead awakes from and is finally ready to face life head on, trust his feelings, etc. and they walk hand in hand off into the sunset.
Because really, it pisses me off when people mix their tragedy drama in with my escapism. Not, mind you, as bad as all that, but bad enough.
Maybe I need to stick to positive thinking in the real world, since the media seems determined to disappoint me.
Friday, July 16, 2010
but as with the first two movies, TS3 was enjoyable even without the added effects.
The show starts with our toy heroes in trouble, and there's a moment when all seems lost. What will become of our hero?? On the screen, everything goes quiet... and into the quiet, a little voice said, breathlessly, "Ooooh no!" Elliot was enthralled.
He enjoyed the movie, but was a little scared at some of the more dramatic moments, and after the big climax (but before the denouement) he said "Ok. Let's go home." As all the loose strings were being wrapped up, and everybody was sniffling into their hankies, Elliot tried his best to make a getaway. I convinced him to sit with me a few more minutes...
Sadly, once it was actually over he didn't want to leave and had to be carried out sobbing. He promptly fell asleep in the car, and is napping still. Overall, we had a great time, and I'd recommend the movie to anybody, but do be prepared for a little nail biting and lap sitting, and a few whispered reassurances that "it's ok. it's just a monkey."
Sometimes i get mad at myself, sometimes at people I'm supposed to be meeting somewhere or another. It isn't that I haven't been there before, or that nobody told me where it was. It's that I don't find my way well. Something in my brain doesn't click like other people's. I can come to an intersection I go through several times a week, and once in a while I turn the wrong way.
I've tried to improve, but haven't found a way to make it better, other than a GPS. Sadly, my skills at keeping a charge on the GPS are similar to my directional skills - i.e. bad.
Fortunately, I also got found. After some confusion and a little frustration, I found myself at karaoke, forced into Love Shack before I'd even set down my purse. The nice thing is once you've made a fool of yourself with the B52s, you can take on anything.
Well, except maybe the GoGos. I didn't rock Vacation despite heavy coaching from friends. I do try to shy away from the country tunes due to the social stigma... but I got a bit of good advice "Sing what you can sing." So I did, and had a great time.
My karaoke regulars are about to get married and leave town, so I'm a little down, but perhaps I'll find the inner strength to go without them. After all, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and I did survive Love Shack, right?
Actually, I hate that saying, but admit that sometimes it's true.
So here's to strength, and embracing a challenge, now off to bed before my morning of sleeping in (Mom's got Ellioe tonight) gets completely wasted by my online addiction.
Monday, July 12, 2010
In my self pitying state, I asked the cat to make us dinner, and he only stared blankly back. The dog seemed no more motivated. Since Elliot's not allowed to touch the stove, I didn't ask him, because I imagine I would have gotten an enthusiastic response, then have had to squash his excitement...
Checking my phone messages while noshing on crackers and salsa, I realized that long distance repeat caller I'd been ignoring was actually a friend of my parents. I called them to pass along the message, and got an invite to go out to dinner.
No cooking, no cleaning up.
I do love it when the universe is listening.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
my fingertips tracing your form
on the rough walls
on the cold bars
on the moist pillow
beside my head
i'm feeling my way through the dark
the smothering embrace
not to rise
not to fight
not to dream
i'm feeling my way
but it's dark
and my fingertips
hide from light
Friday, July 2, 2010
Elliot still wasn't feeling too swell, so all too soon we headed back to the motel for some down time. We took a little walk around the grounds, where he convinced grandma that he had the power to turn the rain on and off with pure strength of will. I'm not sure he's not right...
Sunday we hung out with Jeff and Kelly in the AM, exploring Gloucester's shopping district and being sold the idea of moving to the NE coast. I'm sure Jeff was entirely honest in telling us it's actually quite balmy in the winter and hardly ever snows. Something about being by the ocean, and warm currents. I remain somewhat skeptical...
My brother took the train up and met us around lunch time, and we had a lovely Italian feast, then headed down to the harbor for the annual Greasy Pole competition. That's a telephone pole stuck on a big tower out in the water, liberally greased with environmentally friendly slippery stuff. Men in homemade costumes try to reach a flag at the end. It took 3 rounds for somebody to make it, and he was half way off the post when he managed to hook it with his elbow. Good times.
The locals take Fiesta quite seriously. I think only the cat in the hat has finer headwear. Most of the observers actually weren't so dressed up, but they clearly were enjoying themselves tremendously.
After the greasy pole ended we took Josh back to the train station, and after wandering around completely lost for a while; i mean, after taking a scenic tour of the island, we headed back to the motel. Elliot seemed in much better spirits, so I decided to head in to Somerville to visit some college friends. Mom said Elliot was doing great, so I didn't wander back till late morning, after a very tasty breakfast at the local grape-arbor covered courtyard restaurant.
I picked up Mom and E, and headed for Salem, MA to see Witch Town, USA. Mom and I both had some misgivings about the emotional toll of rehashing murders, but it did look interesting and neither of us had ever been. It turned out we had a great lunch at a little Indian place, then toured the town, which was charming and historic. While the witches were mentioned, we didn't have to suffer through any gruesome retellings of the trials, or tours of dungeons, or haunted anything.
It was hot and muggy, so after the tour we went back to my brother and sister in law's place. We hung out with their family (birds and bunny :) for a bit, then back to the motel for some much needed rest.
Tuesday we had a late flight scheduled, so we headed to the Gloucester beach for a while. Elliot enjoyed throwing the rocks more than walking on them.
I enjoyed seeing how many different kinds of rocks in how many colors and patterns I could find.
After a little over an hour playing at the beach Elliot was worn out again, so we hit the road and started north back to Manchester airport. As we crossed the NH border we stopped at the info station and found a brochure for a place calling itself "America's Stonehenge." It sounded a little hokey, but also historic. And it had alpacas. Seemed like the perfect way to burn our last two hours in the NE.
Mom had a little flashlight along, and Elliot explored all the shadowy places. The weather was not too hot, and the woods were lovely. We had a nice time.
I'm still not sure why the alpaca were there, but this one was so ugly he was cute, or so cute he was disconcerting. I'm not sure what it was about him, but I was completely charmed.
Two flights and 8 hours later we were home. I can't say I'm a fan of the midnight arrival in the airport, but at least it wasn't crowded. Sad to report the cleaning fairies did not visit while I was gone, so the house remains a disaster, but I'm working on reclaiming it. And catching up on some sleep.
Next adventure? Fireworks.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Thursday we got up early. Very early. We flew out, connected somewhere (i don't remember where), and arrived in Manchester around 12:00. We were all pretty tired.
It took an hour to get our car, and between stopping for potty breaks, food, and bad iPhone navigation, it took another few to get to Gloucester.
We settled in at the motel and soon Jeff and Kelly were there to take us off to the Fiesta. We rode rides and ate cotton candy and fried dough, then walked along to the Big Fisherman statue.
I know it has a better, more romantic name for real, but I don't remember it, so there ya go.
It was starting to rain as we headed back to the car, and after a mild soaking we were back at the hotel for a good night's sleep.
In the morning, Elliot woke up chipper and ready for fun. He ran in circles on the front porch for a half hour till everybody got to the condo.
Then we headed out for food and shopping in Rockport, home of many colored fishing floats, quaint rowboats, ice cream, and pirate ships.
We had a lovely day overall, but Elliot was a little off his normally charming game. I couldn't talk him into having ice cream with us, and he really wanted to be carried everywhere. When we got back to the motel, he was running a bit of a fever, so once everybody had headed back home, I sent mom out for Tylenol.
You might notice a decided lack of photos at this point. That's because after Mom left, Elliot went downhill fast, and soon my hands were full of vomit. This was his first big boy puke, so he was pretty freaked out. I was a little wide eyed myself as I sat staring in the sink trying to remember and/or identify the food he had had that day.
He ran a high fever most of the night, but fortunately didn't have anything else come back up. He remained out of sorts with on again, off again fever for the rest of the trip.