Saturday, November 20, 2010

Life Under Weather

We've been sick for a few days now, and I'm getting a little sick of it. Elliot and I both are coughing, snotty, and have on and off fevers. I'm wondering if perhaps the "camp out in my dr's waiting room till they sign the damn form" plan was not well formulated. I failed to consider that Elliot would be rolling on the floor, chewing on the chairs, and bumping into sick strangers the whole time.


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

Life Underwater

The past few weeks I've been a little busier than usual. I signed up a while back for a SCUBA class, and as of yesterday I'm officially certified for open water diving.

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

I meant to say

a lot more about today. about the roller coaster that is being a mommy and a widow and a friend and a day that was beautiful but bittersweet sitting on the edge of winter...

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

North, and then Home

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..."