Friday, August 31, 2012

Commuter Marriage After the Fall
My commuter-husband Dave returned from AZ on Sunday evening hobbling on a hiking stick that he'd purchased after his fall on Granite Mt near Prescott, AZ.  Monday we were able to get him into Group Health Tacoma to be seen by an orthopedist who scheduled surgery for today, Friday.  Because I had already scheduled a series of medical maintenance appointments we have made too many trips to that building this week.  I will be glad when this week is over, but unhappy that the last of my summer break from school has been such a whirlwind of activity, much of it not fun.
We will have to see how Dave does with the surgery to reattach his right quad and his fancy new brace to see how much fun is in store for us, although I admit to being very, very happy to have my “running partner” back with me.  Over the last two plus years we had grown used to being in each other’s company a great deal and his removal to AZ to work had been felt keenly by both of us.  It is not as though I live in an empty house, but it is not the same without Dave.
Dave’s mother’s 90th birthday is coming up next week and her party is on Sunday.  Will a day be long enough to get him righted enough to attend?  I doubt it, but to miss celebrating his mom with his six brothers, five sisters-in-law and many nieces, nephews and his own grandchildren will be a great disappointment for both of us. We also have tickets to the Willie Nelson Show at the Puyallup Fair on the 7th which could become the fourth event that we have been unable to attend this summer.
My youngest son is coming for a ten day visit beginning Monday.  It will be nice to have an extra pair of hands to help care for Dave when I return to work on Tuesday so the entire load does not fall on daughter-in-law Ana.  Thank goodness she is a stay-at-home/home-schooling-mom!  I am sure that grandson Gabriel will be vying for Uncle Nadir’s time and wanting to walk down the road to our woodsy park.
I will be glad when the surgery and this week are over and we can focus on getting Dave better.  That will be bittersweet because when he is righted up he will be returning to AZ, not to come home until February of next year. I am resolved to just have to wring the most out of each day right now.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

It has been about eighty days since my husband Dave and I made the decision for him to take a job offer at Lockheed Martin in Prescott, AZ and seventy-three since I drove away to work, leaving him behind, packing his Honda Hybrid for this three day drive away from the life we had had together for nearly twenty-two years. Because of the economy ours had become a commuter marriage. Today he is coming home for a visit and I am as excited as a young girl preparing for a prom.

During the last 73 days it has become more tolerable to have Dave gone, but not easier. By that I mean I do not cry every night, but trying to be two people has been stressful and it is no wonder that my blood pressure went through the roof right after he left. The doctor upped my medication. That helped, but I still have to be two people.

Dave’s time at home has been planned for some time in conjunction with the 90th birthday of his mother and I had been making Honey Do lists for things I hoped he could do. I say had because his fall while hiking last week put the kibosh on that. Now he is returning nearly a week early and injured from his fall. Well, no matter that he cannot tame the backyard, I will get my son to help me with that and no matter that he cannot do the same at our summer home. I am hiring the daughter of a friend to do that.

I thought I would have an entire other week to put the finishing touches on the house inside, but the entire household has pitched in cleaning and sweeping, polishing and dusting. Clean sheets on beds, bathrooms scrubbed, plans for Dave’s favorite food. Plans, too, to get him to Group Health and an orthopedist to see how much damage was done when he fell. I know what the Yavapai Region Medical Center had to say at the time, but will feel better having his knee and shoulder checked out by the people to whom we have entrusted our health care the last 22 years.

What matters to me is that my best friend is going to be around the house again, at least for a little while, and I can fuss over and spoil him and we are that much farther down the road to his permanent return in October of 2013. Right now I intend to wring out every minute of our time together between now and September 12th.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Those Who Wait, Also Serve

The reason that Dave decided to accept a job 1,500 from hearth and home was to earn and save some money for our retirement, so he’s been on the lookout for inexpensive forms of entertainment. In a recent blog I told about his love of bike riding so he was pleased that Mike, the gentleman with whom he is living, as keen to get his bikes in working order and go riding with him. They even have added a third man to their bicycle jaunts. On rainy days Dave goes to the movies, using his senior discount. He also has cards for two libraries where he checks out CDs. In addition to that he has gone hiking on a wide variety of trails every week since he arrived in Prescott, AZ. I was uncomfortable about yesterdays plan from the beginning.

Around 9 AM Dave called me from Granite Mt. He said that he was not at the top, but that the trail did not go that far and he had already gone on beyond the end of the trail and that he was going to head back to the car. He said that it would be slow going because he had to climb over some boulder. I had a friend in for tea yesterday morning and so I was diverted for about an hour, but after my friend left I started thinking about Dave and wishing that the phone would ring. To keep busy and because I knew it needed to be done I went shopping for my nearly 90-year-old-mother and did some chores around her apartment while watching the end of a Gene Kelly movie on TCM. What I did not know was that around nine fifteen, minutes after I had had a good connection and conversation with Dave, when he told me he was going to turn around and head back the three and a half miles to the car, he had fallen. His foot slipped on a boulder and he heard a pop in his leg. His shoulder was sore, but instead of call 9-1-1 he decided to walk out. His leg did not hurt, but depending on how he turned it he collapsed. For some reason this was not enough for my hardheaded nearly sixty-one year old husband. He got himself up, dusted himself off and soldiered on. He would later tell me that before being reached by help he fell twelve times. Two of those falls were into cacti.

At eleven fifteen I tried to call Dave again. Although we had had a good connection at 9 AM now I got no answer so I texted Are you okay. At eleven nineteen he texted that he was working his way down the trail. I said, okay. I asked if he wanted me to call someone, was he lost, did he need assistance. What I did not know was that a hiker had contacted Search & Rescue in the area on another call and they had made contact with Dave at eleven thirty. Later he said that he was trying to prevent me from getting upset. No news is not good news. No news is no news and I began to think of another incident that earned Dave the family name of Dangerous Dave.

It was the summer of 1998. We had a large family gathering at our house in Ilwaco, WA. Everyone save Dave, who was still asleep, had walked to the port to go to breakfast and when we returned our station wagon and his kayak were gone. He left behind a note saying he would be back by 4 PM for our family barbecue. He also left behind his wallet. At five o’clock I began to get irritated as we needed to be getting dinner under way. At six I began to get upset. A friend and I drove out to the Willapa Wild Life Refuge and found the car at the boat ramp where he had gone into Willapa Bay, but no sign of Dave. A couple came in with their kayak, but they had not seen Dave. I was distressed to see that the tide was out and knew that the bay bed became muck and envisioned him stuck and sinking in the mud. I think my imagination was working over time.

We drove the ten miles back home and I called the Pacific County Sheriff who went and looked at the car, too. A lot of help that did. Finally, my father, who was an old Navy man, called the Coast Guard and suggested that they take their helicopter from Astoria and see if they could spot Dave and whether or not he was in trouble. At round 8 PM my father called them back and demanded that they look for Dave as it was beginning to get dark. My uncle stood vigil on our porch, his face turned in the direction we expected him to come. About eight thirty the sheriff’s department called to say that Dave had come into the boat launch and was on the way home, just moments before the Coast Guard helicopter was to leave Astoria to search for him. Dave was incredulous that we had called the Coast Guard even though he was five hours over due. The escapade earned him the moniker Dangerous Dave and my calling the Coast Guard became a threat I issued any time he went off in the kayak or out hiking or biking.

At noon yesterday I drove the six blocks back to our Ilwaco house to fix my daughter Amy some lunch. The headache that had begun around 10 AM had gotten its legs and I told my mother that I was going to eat lunch with Amy and lay down. I figured that any moment I would hear from Dave that he was back at his car and headed home to shower and maybe go to a movie. A little after twelve I texted Dave asking if I needed to call the Coast Guard. I was only half joking because I did not see how it could have taken him three hours to make a trip down that took one to go up. I followed that text up with one asking to confirm if it was Granite Mt. he was on. I got no response. At twelve twenty I texted and asked for his exact location. Twenty minutes later he answered that he was on Granite Mt. trail #261. I asked if he was okay. Nothing. I knew that nap was out of the question so I began organizing our recycles, something that I had to do before heading back to Gig Harbor, and drove them to the port recycling. That done I returned to my mothers, hoping that another Gene Kelly movie would distract me.

Just before 1 PM I texted and asked if he wanted me to call the authorities or if he needed assistance. He replied that he had assistance. I was both relieved and upset. I was relieved that he was not alone, but upset that he needed assistance. I asked him if he were hurt. An hour later I asked again. When I still got no response I called a friend who was at work and asked her to find out what county Prescott was in and then get me the number of the sheriff’s department. I wended my way to a dispatcher who told me that indeed they had dispatched Search & Rescue to assist a man with an injured leg and that about twenty minutes previous they had been in contact with Search & Rescue and that they were a mile from the end of the trail and that if I had not heard from him in an hour I could call back and get a status update.

Fortunately at three twenty-five Dave called me from Yavapai Regional Medical Center to say he was waiting to be x-rayed. He asked me to call Group Health in Tacoma and find out how to get this adventure covered with our insurance, which I was happy to do, but then had a two hour wait to find out exactly what had happened. He had torn his right quad and sprained his right shoulder and was headed to the pharmacy for some meds. This morning he feels worse than yesterday and is working with Lockheed HQ to get short term disability so he can come home and see our doctor. Dave was already scheduled to come home for twelve days beginning on the 1st of September.

I had two Honey Do lists going for Dave, one for Gig Harbor and one for Ilwaco. Yesterday they shrunk to nothing, but at least he is alive and I am hoping to very soon have him home in Gig Harbor for some R&R. Dangerous Dave is off the trail for a while.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Creating a Temporary Lives

Both Dave and I have had to give up activities we had planned for this summer. Dave had paid the entrance fee for the Rock n Roll Marathon in Seattle in July and I missed the Oregon Lavender Festival with my best friend. We were supposed to attend a Frankie Valli concert at Snoqualmie Casino with Amy to celebrate our 22nd anniversary. It turns out that Valli had illness in his family and cancelled the concert anyway so perhaps we can get a refund on those tickets and do something else while he is home for twelve days.

Dave likes to ride his bike and had planned to go for a ride with his brother Steve. Steve has been otherwise employed caring for their parents so that trip might not have happened even if Dave had not taken the job in Prescott. He was pleased to find out that the gentleman he is renting a room from has a couple of bikes and was willing to go out biking with him. They tuned up the bikes and have been going on somewhat short rides as Mike is not as fit as Dave. They have added another Flight Service coworker and although it may not be the same as riding the San Juan Islands with his brother Steve, at least Dave has had the companionship of two fellows to ride with. It is good for all of them.  They are pictured here at Willows Lake.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Waking Up in Ilwaco

I wonder if Long Beach wakes up as early as Ilwaco. I know that the bakers at the Cottage Bakery arrive around two-thirty to begin making doughnuts and devil dogs, but other than that I can think of no need for Long Beach to up and going as early as Ilwaco. As a matter of fact you could make a case for Ilwaco never truly going to sleep for all night the big eighteen wheelers come into town and turn toward the port in front of our house, heading to the cannery to pick up seafood for transport to Portland and Seattle.

I am a morning person and I like getting up early and walking the dog as the port is waking up. It is frequently quiet enough to hear the Pacific Ocean surf two miles away, but there are the sounds of Ilwaco beginning its day with sports fishermen and commercial fishermen arriving and starting up their vessels—some heading out to the river and sea. Cannery workers are arriving at Jessie’s for the first shift of the day. Ilwaco is one of the towns that rolls up its sidewalks at night, but is up with the chickens in the morning. Maybe that is why Ilwaco suits me just fine.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Pineapple Cookies and an Anniversary

Tomorrow is my wedding anniversary and I am without the groom. Ours became a commuter marriage in June when Dave accepted a lucrative job offer in Prescott, AZ working for Lockheed Martin. Because of familial obligations and the fact that there is no ocean in AZ, I have remained behind in Gig Harbor, WA (and in Ilwaco at this moment), keeping the home fires burning as it were. The plan is for Dave to work until October 2013 when he will be old enough to collect Social Security. He is coming home for ten days in September, but his the 90th birthday of his mother trumps our 22nd anniversary so tomorrow will be somewhat sad for me. It is our first (and probably not our last) anniversary apart.

Not to worry. I will not be entirely alone. My daughter Amy is with me here at the beach and our friends Jo & Jon are arriving tonight for the weekend. We intend to go out for dinner at 42nd St. CafĂ© in Seaview to celebrate and today I indulged myself in another luxury for today I made pineapple cookies. I first blogged the recipe for these cookies three years ago, but I think they are worth another mention. My Grandma Frieze always had them in the cookies jar when we children came to visit and they are a favorite of mine and my cousins. They are tender and soft and the pineapple brings back memories of summers at Grandma’s. Unfortunately my own children never developed a liking for them and since I could eat them all on my own I do not often make them!

Although she has special needs, Amy does like to help me bake and because I do little of it any more she was willing to help this morning. Tomorrow we will fix up the table with the beautiful new French table cloth Dave sent me and then go out to dinner. At least it will stay clean this way!

Grandma’s Pineapple Cookies

Temp.: 375 degrees F. Time: 12 min (check after 10) Yield: About 3 dozen

2C sifted enriched all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

½ C. soft shortening (I use margarine or butter)

1 C. granulated sugar

1 egg

½ tsp. vanilla extract

½ C. drained, canned, crushed pineapple

¼ tsp. nutmeg (this makes them taste different. Grandma never used it and neither do I)

1 T. granulated sugar

Heat oven. Sift together first 4 ingredients. Mix shortening and next 3 ingredients until creamy. Mix in pineapple, then flour mixture. Drop by teaspoonfuls 2” apart, onto ungreased cookie sheet. (I like to use a little no stick) Sprinkle cookies with nutmeg (optional) and sugar, combined. Bake until golden.