Grazing

Along the way

Today was my swing shift Friday with the pops. I’ve learned some shortcuts from my sister’s house to the treatment center; some non-descript single level building with few windows tucked behind a strip mall. They have lots of fake plants and electric table fountains that are devoid of water.

We’re in and out in 30 minutes.

My dad and I talk about varied topics: politics, cars, jobs, Walmart, the legal system, the weather and Cancer.

“I feel tired.” he says.

“You mean, not well rested?” I ask.

“No. Something else.”

“Like you’re a puppet on strings, but instead of being suspended by them, they’re actually pulling you down — and not just at your joints but like it’s your whole lymphatic system being tugged on, slowly?”

He pauses, “Yeah.”

“I know what you mean.”

We drive along for a while in silence.

The weather is great. We crack the windows and I show him how the sunroof works. He always remarks on the giddy-up of the VW, pleased with how smooth and quiet the ride is.

“McDonalds?”

“Sure” he says, with that slight raise in octave that means, hell yeah.

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Gush

Warm feet

A heartfelt thanks to everyone that has been in touch, left a comment or dropped a line. Try as I might, replying to everyone will be a little tight over the next bit of time, but it really means more than I can express.

I thank you.

Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about pouring all this into an online venue, but if normal media showed a shred of compassion, I really think the world would be a better place.

Where’s the channel for good news? I swear there is a market.

I made it over to my sister’s house yesterday, where she had miraculously fashioned a bedroom for my father with the aid of family and friends. A wall dissects the great room, providing a private area with room for a bed, tv, bedside table and sofa with a view of the backyard. Spring can’t come soon enough.

My dad was released from the hospital the prior evening and is able to get around, albeit a tad slow. His speech is slurred, but improves with each passing day. His left arm immobile.

I was scared and sad before seeing him, almost making a loop around the block before pulling into the driveway, but my fears have abated some, after this visit.

Watching my brother go through exercises on his arm, I realized how better composed he is than me. His nurturing and tender demeanor – something that was always there, emerges in times like this with clarity.

My sister and brother-in-law, attendant and running the household – the smell of homecooked food, the tv stand placed just so with a pitcher of water filled at all times.

We’re all so different, my siblings. I have to work on my handling – though the years of hug therapy from my friends has been tremendous in helping me take my hands from my pockets.

We all sat down and carved out a schedule to get dad to therapy and treatment. A daily process intended to shrink the growth enough so that he may regain full control of his left side, his arm. There’s four of us and each day of the week, is covered, with Friday being a swing day, where we’ll alternate.

I’m Tuesday.

Today I got him into his shoes and he grumbles, “Here you are, dressing your papi” with a rueful lilt. I chuckled it off with a shrug, blessing the makers of velcro for making the task so easy.

Radiation went quickly. Painless even.

I found out my dad loves double cheeseburgers from McDonalds. He eats them once a week.

We talked about lots of stuff and that made the fear dissipate. I’m not feeling terribly articulate in capturing everything, but I can say I’m beginning to see some glimmer of hope…

A tinge at least.

…rolling around there with all my other worries melting away.

I feel like I have to grow up for real now.

I could never do it for myself.

About the photo:

My niece and I have this little thing: I try to take her photo, and she blocks the camera with a hand or any object that is nearby.

She’s quite good at it.

Alas, I got this image of her new knit booties and let her off the hook this past evening. My brother-in-law’s mom sent down a whole box of ’em handmade for each member of their family.

To sum this all up Strangers-With-Candy-like, the moral of the photo is that: Yeah, things might not look great at first, but if they keep you warm and come from the heart, chances are, they’re awesome.

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Are you sitting down?

The view from the dorm
February 19, 2004

Three solid days of work in Wyoming plus two for travel.

I got here through Denver on a twin propped plane with no restroom. It holds about 15 passengers. I have to stoop to fit through the aisle. There’s a tinge of adventure every time I make this trip.

The dorm I stay in has steam heat, peeling yellowed wallpaper and narrow army-like beds. There are a row of pay-phones in the lobby, but no extensions in the rooms. My digital phone switches into analog mode and drains the battery.

It’s really hard to get a hold of me when I am out here.

When I’m working, I can access email through the web.

I got several notes from family the previous day: Call ASAP, they each read, with no other detail.

Turns out my father had a stroke.

I take this news in stride and they said he’s doing fine. Don’t worry.

This morning, I get another note. Call ASAP.

I get a hold of my brother and he asks me if I’m sitting down.

I am.

Dad’s stroke was caused by a tumor on his brain. It started in the lungs. They’ve found it in his liver.

It’s in his bones.

It’s Cancer.

The doctors say he has six months to live.

I’m writing this down, but I don’t know what I am thinking. It’s been hard to think of anything else, and since the news, I’ve been operating on auto-pilot.

I’m trying hard not to believe the doctors.

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Variations on a theme

Me and my brothers

I’m the “little” one.

Propped the camera up on a payphone as my brothers and I were waiting for my Dad. We tricked him outta his place to celebrate his birthday. I’m still not sure how old he is, but that’s ok – he didn’t know how old I was either.

Bad food and slow service couldn’t hamper the joy of getting all the Glass boys men together. I feel lucky we get along so well.

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Time to put the elf costume away

My brother in elfin garb plays Vanna White for the spread at my sister’s house

My most vivid memory of this holiday is sitting back from a pile of opened presents on my sister’s living room floor. Beams of sunlight are slanted through the picture window and match the smiles on everyone’s faces.

My brother-in-law punctuated the moment, “Oh my God. Look… Everyone’s (slight pause) … happy.”

No one replied, save for the slightly glazed and twinkling expressions. We were indeed happy.

Hours later, the party disbanded. I loaded up my loot and headed over to Heather’s parents house.

It was a surprise visit, and I hadn’t been there in over a year. Her parent’s are a kind, whacky, eccentric duo from a sitcom that never was. I sat at the kitchen island and joined in the eye-rolling banter over holiday meal preparation.

When it came time to decide what to do with the artichoke dip ingredients, I stepped up to figure out the food processor. After a countless (ok, seven) seven attempts, we met with success.

Went back to Heather’s place, quick-cleaned the living room and hung out with Dave and some friends watching Super Troopers and enjoyed more good tidings.

Today, I have a few more things to wrap up, but what I really want to do is assemble a K’nex Ferris Wheel.

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Ivana, Mrs. Trump’s hair and the theme park that never was

Donald Trump’s mom on TV

So here I am with double digits of channels on the tube at the hotel up in Columbus, and I’m watching Biography on A&E. It is a relatively unobtrusive look at the life of Ivana Trump.

The cast of characters seem outlandish, but flat. Even the head of hair on Donald Trump’s mom fails to warm me to the story.

Ivana would be best served with an Eddy to her Patsy.

Reminds me of another made up woman though – Tammy Faye Bakker.

How many nights I sat up with my Dad. Watching the endless pleas for money as Heritage USA was being built. The sketches of hotels replete with folks for scale, swarming with activity. The conceptual drawings of the water park with the slow pan and dissolve.

Jim and Tammy voiceovers. The room at the resort _our family_ could have every year if we would just give a thousand bucks.

We stared glued at the sketches whirring by each night. Looking at each other with that, “This is a bargain” gleam. Each of us had our niche carved out in the vacations we would take at the resort/theme park. Mom and I would throw pottery. The water slides and endless pools for us boys, and Dadstuff for Dad.

Perhaps he would take up golf.

This was likely the most evangelistic our family ever got. Dad coughed up the grand, eventually – and thus began our vigil of the construction with renewed vigor.

Then it fell apart.

The look of shock that must’ve crossed mine and my siblings faces when we thick headedly realized, this vacation would never happen.

Was this the end of trust?

Were our religious morals corrupted at this news?

I’m not entirely sure, and by no means want to paint a picture so bleak, as there were many fine vacations before and after the Heritage USA debacle.

We have an uncanny ability to muster a smile in the face of adversity, our clan.

I could go on, but first I must see the evolution from Casino mogul to purveyor of Home Shopping Network Pant Suits.

Ivana is no Patsy. There’s a lesson here, I know it.

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Vegetable soup day

Ingredient roll call

I don’t always eat Dinty Moore and Chef Boyardee, sometimes I cook. Today was one of those days. It was chilly and blustery. A perfect day for soup.

My mom has given me a handful of recipes, and this one stands out from my youth. We called it vegetable soup, even though there’s beef in there.

As a kid, the house would be filled with the smell and I’d linger ’round the kitchen to get a taste. Thing is, it wasn’t until after the slow simmerin’ process that everything would blend together. It was a tease, perhaps, but for great things to follow.

When we finally sat down to eat (usually on bamboo trays in the ‘family room’), we’d take crackers and slather them with (real) butter and put spoonfuls of the thick soup on ’em.

Bread now accompanies the soup, which lasts for a while in the fridge, and gets better each day. I don’t put the cabbage in, it doesn’t sit well. Other than that, I tend to follow the steps and it seldom fails, unless I get too generous with the pepper.

My Mom’s Vegetable Soup from her Mom

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Grillout

Grilled pork chops, sweet corn on the cob, scalloped potatoes, salad with homegrown bell pepper, french bread and iced tea.

My mom and brother, now with grandma in tow, have made their backyard a slice of paradise. Each time I visit, there are new areas carved out with stones and flowering plants. When I first saw the house, I knew it would be lots of work to make it feel a home. The transformation continues to amaze me.

I look forward to the day when I’ve got a place with some land. I don’t think i’d be as good at it though.

Dinner was tasty. The pork chop’s amount of spice was up for discussion, but I thought they were tasty. Marvels over the crispness of the bell pepper circled the table.

Afterward, I dinked around with the first generation Bondi iMac in the breakfast room. It works, it’s just s l o w. Then I had some catch-up time with my mom on the couch before some strawberry cake. I like talking to my mom. It’s easy to just spout off everything I’m feeling and she gets it. It’s like free therapy.

Flashback

2504 Jett Hill Road

I’m at my sisters, eating yummy pork roast, scalloped potatoes, brussel sprouts, corn and some yeast rolls that were prematurely cooked.

This meal hits me right in my nostalgic gut and I have two helpings. It is fantastic homemade food.

My brother, sister, her husband, mom, grandma, niece and nephews are there.

I don’t think there was any occasion in particular, just a good time to get together. My brother-in-law’s mom is in town. She seems spry, with a hint of a wicked sense of humor.

I stayed for a couple hours and enjoyed the time just being.

I left and decided to drive by the house where I grew up.

The mailbox is still there. My father welded it out of metal after too many hit and run incidents with baseball bats.

It’s impossible to determine when the house was built, but it was sometime in the latter part of the 1800s. At some point, it was a 1,000 acre homestead awarded to a serviceman in the Civil War. I wish I was better with the facts, but I’d have to get a the book on the house from my sister.

One o these days, I’ll digitize more family stuff.


I sat in the driveway and reflected on the house. It was my entire world for many years. A parcel of 10 acres tucked neatly into fields of hundreds. There were no neighbors to speak of, at least, I never really hung out with them.

I remember hiding behind my parents waterbed in the nook where no one could fit.

I remember the swarm of bees that came forth from the nests we attacked in the trees out front.

Getting soaked with wet snow sled-riding down the hill into the creek.

Scraping my knee bad as the concrete truck huffed up the driveway and my coaster brakes failed on the gravel soon to be covered.

Finding clearance gifts hidden in the shed one summer, waiting to be handed out the following Christmas.

The barn where we stashed porn mags, cigarettes and the racy calendars found in the attic.

The two round stones next to each other in the hearth that we called Dolly Parton.

The cornfield out back where I realized my arm wouldn’t move as the motorbike lay on it’s side 15 feet away, still running and expelling black smoke.

FInding out foxes had eaten the peacocks.

Releasing the owl back into the woods after the fella from the conservatory nursed it back to health.

The blood on the stump where a few chickens were made to fit neatly in the freezer.

Running down to the front field and seeing the birth of a calf, and waiting for ages until it stood and walked on it’s own. Willie I think we called him.

Hiding Heather in the laundry room while fellas from school stayed over.

Heather getting caught in the laundry room and sent home.

Jumping off the garage roof and spraining both my ankles. “It’s easy! Just roll out of it!” my brother coerced.

The Husman potato chip can filled with kittens dropped off in the driveway.

The black snake up in the ceiling molding over the couch in the den. A business end of a hoe would be its fate.

The herb garden filled with smells and textures.

Hanging out in my sisters room and staring at the album covers.

The four trees that stood towering in the front. The trees that were said to represent myself and siblings.

I remember all these things, and I remember when the house went up for auction.

The heaviness of realizing it would no longer be “ours.”

The guilt that maybe I should’ve exhausted some resources to try and get it for myself.

The quiet truth that I knew it was for another family to occupy – to create their own home.

The fact that it will always be my childhood, my teens, my pitstop during college.

The new owners have done well. It seems restored to the white house up on the hill that I grew up in. More so than the gray dilapidated place overgrown with ivy that it became in my late twenties.

They removed the trees out front. It seems fitting.

I want to go back there someday and look inside.

For now though, I’m happy with memories and the view from the end of the driveway.

Meow

Kittens are soft

I went over to my mom’s tonight to eat dinner with her and my brother. I sat in the breakfast room and my brother started to crawl on the floor.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

Then a little furry shadow leaped over my foot and that was how I met Magik, the new household kitten.

My mom hasn’t had an indoor cat, or dog for that matter, in a long time. Aside from me not liking his name off the bat (I recommended Doug, or Bill or better yet… Sigfried!)

This little fella is spunky. One of those animals that likes people, unlike the strays my mom feeds behind her house.

He has a penchant for burrowing under pillows and stuff, then popping out to attack, paws in the air, “I am seeing you Sigfried..”

He also runs at you with this sideways gallop. I’ve never really seen that before, sort of like a rabbit that was just hit by a car.

He’s also a purring one, will lick yer nose or fingers, and stretches out on one’s tummy and naps.

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