If ever a raccoon couple personified Gary and me, it would be this pair. I'm the one on the left.
(There is no Prince song appropriate for the past week, unless he has a B-side called "U R All on 2 Many IV Antibiotics.")
In some strange synchronicity between Albuquerque and Saint Louis, my brother in New Mexico and father in law in Saint Louis both arrived at the ER with vague infections, were admitted, fire-hosed with broad spectrum IV antibiotics, and then both were released on Wednesday.
I was especially concerned, because in both cases I never heard any medical professional say, "Your white blood cells are going down. You seem to be improving." Instead, I heard "MRSA! Superbug!" coming from New Mexico and "Heart infection! Pneumonia!" blasting from the other speaker in North County, then suddenly, "Pack up, you're fine, here's some penicillin, bye!" to both in the space of a few hours on Wednesday.
Ken is having a nurse come see him every day, plus he gets oxygen. Dave goes to see the surgeon for an evaluation on Tuesday. I never want to have a week like this again.
So we got home from the emergency room yesterday (Gary's 91 year old dad has pnuemonia) to find out that my brother in Albuquerque is having emergency surgery. So, two family members in the valley of the shadow of death.
Taking a personal day, though. My first day off so far this year. I need to focus on the positive today. The list of people NOT in the hospital is long.
The Mini is back in the shop. this time for the air conditioning evaporator. The internet says this is a five hour job. They've had the car for over a week.
I know all I have to do is change my mind. Or, just seem to change my mind. Gary won't play though. All he would have to do is call the Mini people to ask about the status of the car while I yell in the background, "Why do we need air conditioning? I'll just drive your car on hot days!"
Or, perhaps they're just used to west county executives bellowing that their daughters need their "Mini Coopers back now or I will sue."
We had no air conditioning in the first car we owned, a Honda CRX. And of course I know the Mini Service department wants us to buy a new car,so they're scooting us closer to the breakeven point. If we start spending five grand a year on repairs, it actally would make sense to buy a new car.
Well, I was going to delay any therapy until I spoke with the neurologist, but an epic fight yesterday clarified what I've been so upset about since last August:
I miss my Mom.
I miss my Dad, too. Frankly, I miss anyone who is isn't emotional, because I look at all family members, blood and in-laws, and I don't see anyone who is calm. I see emotional people stretching to the horizon.
I don't know who all those people go to when they want to be calmed down. Me? I know my brother comes to me when he needs me to "talk him off the ledge." I shudder to think what would happen if I cried to Dave.
Of course Gary can spend hours ranting to me, but I find that when I rant to Gary, he yells louder and we end up in a fight. And, given yesterday's fight, even if I explicitly say, "I'm feeling weepy, don't get upset" ... well that's just the type of thing that fantasy couples say after they've taken marriage counseling. You know. Those imaginary conversations when people say, "I hear you saying [fill in the blank]. Is that how you feel?" They probably end up in epic fights too.
I know Mom died eight years ago, but I think I haven't needed her to talk me off any ledges, probably because i was on the Great Celexa Mesa. And now that I might be (MIGHT BE) selling her house, it's stirring up all the emotions. Or, there's a wedding that stirs up all the emotions. Or any holiday. Since I don't have any calm family, there's no one to go to with my problems. Only people who would then just counter with their own, louder problems.
I could go to Mom-in-my-head. Mom? "Whine, whine, whine. Listen to yourself!" she says.
Earlier this year I read about a lavender farm way south and east of St. Louis in Eureka, MO.
St. Louisans of a certain age know Eureka as the home of: Six Flags, a KOA campsite, and every chain restaurant known to man. Six Flags is forty-five minutes away. An eternity to a child.
We planned to visit the lavender farm, but I was skeptical that a lavender farm would thrive in Eureka, since I couldn't see the crossover between roller coasters and lavender.
"Oh no," my friends said, "Eureka is all fancy now." Evidently the upper middle class ran out of space in Wildwood and west county and spilled over into the cheap land by Six Flags.
Even though we set out Saturday at ten, the lone elk park and wild bird sanctuary are on the way, so I didn't notice the lavender farm was going to close at three until it was two forty. Luckily we were only eight minutes away, so we drove across the highway and directly into a ridiculously nouveau riche subdivision called Legends. I know this, because this is the entry sign.
That photo doesn't show the scale. The lettering on that sign is bigger than our car.
The builders of the Legends houses must have had a competition to see how many windows will fit on the back elevation of a large house on a narrow lot. I can't speak to the fronts of the houses, we took the back way to the lavender farm. I'm sure they're very nice. They look quite tasteful from the photos.
About three blocks into the subdividion Gary joked, "I bet it's just the backyard of some lady's house."
Well, not quite the backyard. It was on the other side of Legends Parkway in what looked like a family farm, with a house and barn and a shed with a lavender roof. And ... the roof was all the lavender we saw. At the entrance there was a sign saying the recent weather conditions had severely affected the lavender crop. It has been rainy this spring, and of course the flood was all over CNN this past Christmas.
We drove in. We saw a rolling field of green."Perhaps it's the rare green lavender," Gary said.
We went in the lavender-roofed shed. The shed was decorated with the same contrasts the Legends exteriors had: one part lower middle class, one part upper middle class. From the road the outside of the shed looked homey, but your first step inside put you by an opulent fireplace that took up the entire side of the shed. I'd say one quarter of the available wall space was fireplace, so much so that I immediately thought, "That is not up to code."
The owner was bundling up lavender in the shed / tea room / gift shop. "Where'd you get the lavender?" I wanted to say. After some small talk about the soil and root-rot and the weather, she said they have another lavender farm in Salem, MO, further from the river with sandier soil. There is really no indication on the web site that the lavender is gone, but for a note that" there will be no u-pick harvesting this season."
So, that was a let-down. And, darn it all, we'd taken up so much time with the bird sanctuary and the elk park that it was time to go home. We didn't have time to see Route 66 state park. Remember the trip we took to the radiation-infested nature conservatory? Route 66 state park is built on the site of the Times Beach superfund site. That'll have to wait for another day.
It would seem the Weber barbecue grill people have parlayed their popularity into a series of restaurants, and the latest one is in Saint Louis.
I have great fondness for my Weber grill. It was my Dad's treasured possession. He knew all about the indirect smoking and the chimney and the water spritzer. He was a scientist of BBQ. I remember hamburgers and pork steaks made on the grill. I also remember waiting hours for the food to smoke. He was not a scientist when it came to estimating cooking time.
I inherited the grill, and it stands on my patio as a shrine to Dad. (I use it about once every two years.) So when I heard there a restaurant built around Weber grills I knew I had to go in honor of Dad.
This statue at the entrance even looks like Dad grilling pork steaks.
Right inside the entrance they have a shop where you can buy grills and grill accessories. They didn't sell the 1980s model ash catch pan to replace the dented one Dad left me, but the hostess tracked down the main office number so I could place an order.
The shop opens up to a test kitchen. They really dreamed big when they planned this place.
All the food - wait - most of the food - is cooked on industrial Weber Grills.
I scanned the menu for pork steaks, of course, but since it's a St. Louis thing and the chain started in Chicago, pork steaks didn't make the menu. I recommended that they add them, at least at the St. Louis location.
The place really shines when you eat the food you expect to get off a Weber grill. The barbecue was sublime. The French Onion soup looked spectacular and tasted ... fair. The chicken chili looked fabulous and tasted ... average. But the barbecue, especially the brisket - mwah. Slobber. The brisket was divine.
It was insanely pricey. Or, possibly, I'm using 1980s prices as a benchmark. I'm glad I went once, and I would go back if I were nearby and in the mood for barbecue. Now, I'm wondering if there are other theme restaurants. George Foreman Bar and Grill? A bakery based on 1990s bread machines? A diner with little Fry Daddies you can use to fry things, kind of like the Melting Pot - oh! The Melting Pot! That's already out there.
Well, in my defense, it's been a very busy week, full of change and riot. And sound and fury. And a cascade of debt and drama that began on ...
Monday when the sprinkler people were supposed to come, but didn't, possibly because it was raining. They were supposed to fix the leak and estimate what it would cost to move the sprinkler pump.
Tuesday was the End of the Political World as we know it. My mouth is still agape.
Wednesday the basement waterproofers came and drilled a hole through the basement wall to install a sump pump. Thirty years ago we were cautioned by the builder that we wouldn't need a sump pump unless our sump hole overflowed, and it never did. It would seem those people were wrong. It's been less than a week and that mildew smell that reminds me of GrandCeil has started to leave the basement. Little tiny emotional loss. Tear. Snif. And in other loss: twelve hundred dollars.
Thursday the cable people were called because the tiVo/Cable card shorted out while the drilling was going on. They were unable to get it fixed.
Friday the sprinkler people came out, and said I did not harm the system by gardening, it was just one of those coincidences that happen when a clump of dirt keeps a sprinkler head open. Gardening didn't cause the sprinkler flood, just as the drilling didn't cause the cable outage, and Congressional inaction didn't cause President Trump. They moved the clump, all is well, charged us nothing.They estimated it would take five hundred dollars to move the sprinkler pump out of the damp basement. Then, the cable people came out again and went through six tiVo cards before they found one that worked. I give Gary all credit for wrangling all the appointments and wresting the tiVo problem to the ground.
Saturday was the in-law's Mother's Day. Gary was as fractious as I have ever seen him. I had to yell over him IT IS MOTHER'S DAY STOP ARGUING WITH YOUR MOTHER ON MOTHER'S DAY. Eventually he settled down. He's been fractious and spending lots of money. Bipolar? Sure, let's say so. Why not.
Sunday was the day I was going to crack open Mom's box of letters, but instead I took two unsettling phone calls. First, my brother called in an angry yelling state because he was rejected by a friend he wanted to have coffee with, and now he is going to die alone. It was as if he went back an entire year of therapy. Then, the renter called about the house and it seems he might want to purchase it. I doubt it will happen. I am not making plans. Still, another set of memories about to fade as fast as the lost basement smell. Mildew memories may not be considered ideal but sometimes they're the best you have.
Friday night we took a tour of "downtown" Saint Charles, a shopping/historical district by the Missouri River. It's historical because it's the last civilized point Lewis and Clark left on their journey to find the west coast.
I've never thought of it as anything much but a place you can hear music at night and buy blue wooden geese during the day. However, over the last thirty years the wooden geese have flown to make room for more art galleries and now, evidently, a ghost tour.
The first stop on the tour was the Quilogy building. When I worked at Eliott, Quilogy (its real name) was the next stop for contractors leaving our company. I went there once for some day-long contractor thing and paid no attention to the building, except that it had steps leading up to the front door.
Now that I've taken the ghost tour I know that it was the International Order of Odd Fellows hall (the initials are carved in stone over the door). I also know that initiates to the Odd Fellows were confronted with skeletons in caskets. Newspaper articles state that when IOOF chapters disband they bury their skeletons in proper cemeteries. I want to know how to get the gig as an Odd Fellows skeleton. Hit me up, Odd Fellows.
Our guide also took us to the site of the oldest cemeteries, where they've built a reproduction of the oldest, tiniest church. It's off the main drag by about a block. It's lovely. I've never left Main Street when I've been down there, unless it's to visit the park. There were some skeleton references thrown in there too.
It was a wonderful history lesson, with a little rubbish about ghosts thrown in. I'm sure if we'd asked more about ghosts than history our guide would have spun it that way. At one point I asked about a rumor I'd heard about a skull being found in Sun Valley Lake, where we lived when we first came out here. He instantly said "Wrong lake," and filled us in about the murder and beheading at the lake a mile away from Sun Valley that happened the year we moved out there.
We had a nice crowd of about seven. It did start pouring rain toward the end, but Gary was a good sport about it, probably because he was wearing a hoodie. I had some difficulty seeing where I was because of the water in my eyes.
Of course, it made me winder what else is out there that I don't know of St. Louis history. There a Blues tour that's out there, and except for Frankie and Johnny and Scot Joplin's house I cant think of what else would be on that tour. Perhaps I'll find out some weekend.
No episode of hysteria for a month. The psychiatrist did call me back Monday and left an incomprensible ten second message. It was background noise and the end of a conversation he had with someone else. I called back, didn't reach him, and didn't leave a message.
Gary was as trying as he could be yesterday, yelling at the television, yelling at me, and I stayed calm.
Clearly the recent diagnosis and my intention to do something about it has whipped my emotional stability right into line.