Tuesday, June 30, 2009

La Tortue

"Consider the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out."

James B. Conant

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

Last year, for Father's Day, the Arena women gave Dad a card indicating a gift had been given in his name to the Mt. Soledad Veteran's Association. For this last year, I have been all but certain he knew of the intentions behind the card. It was nothing he said or did; then or now, it was all in a look, an expression that I clearly misinterpreted. This Father's Day we revealed the plaque in his honor. We invited him to the Memorial under the premise that Shaun wanted to see the new plaque for General Patton as a precursor to our Father's Day celebration.

The day was more San Francisco than San Diego, but the rain held out for which I was thankful. We all meandered along and eventually came across the Patton stone that had been freshly mounted for Memorial Day, just days after Dad's. Seven plaques over, Nathan exclaimed, "Look Grandpa, it's you!"

First response, "Well I'll be god damned." So, yeah, I guess he might have been a little surprised.

Mount Soledad Veteran's Memorial sits atop a hill in La Jolla, California overlooking a most fantastic coastline and ocean view. The memorial consists of a twenty nine foot Latin cross at its highest point, the base of which is encircled by red brick steps leading down to a flag pole with the American Flag waving in the gentle breeze.

Between the cross and flag are six concentric walls holding black granite plaques commemorating the service and sacrifice of veterans living and deceased.

The cross itself has been the subject of legal fodder and voter consideration for nearly two decades. The debate of course being a religious symbol on public land. For now, the matter is resolved. In July of 2008, U.S. Federal Judge Larry Alan Burns ruled that the cross could remain, stating, "The Court finds the memorial at Mt. Soledad, including its Latin cross, communicates the primarily non-religious messages of military service, death and sacrifice. As such, despite its location on public land, the memorial is Constitutional." The ACLU had 60 days from the date of the ruling to appeal to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, but it did not pursue further action.

I will not get on a rant here about the use of religious symbols on public property or the word God on American currency or in the Pledge of Allegience. This space is to honor my dad and the dedicated service he gave to our family and country. Now, there is a little space up there, on one of those walls, to honor him too, forever.

The Mt Soledad Association had many rules about the content of what could be included on the plaque. No years of service (it was 26, by the way), no indications of death in the line of duty (thank God not) and the most disappointing of all was that the name had to match the veteran's discharge papers. I knew his preference, so there was begging involved, to no avail. I got over my dismay when I noticed his middle name was also right there on the official discharge, and so, would be included. I wondered and hoped even, that in the years and generations to come, perhaps my son would stand on that hilltop and share stories with his own grandson and feel a little extra connection at the sight of their shared name.

Check out www.soledadmemorial.com for more information on the Memorial or to find other veterans with the plaque locator.

Happy Father's Day, Dad.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Some months ago Nathan regurgitated some version of the perils of watching too much television, "Too much TV makes your brain go away", he informed us. Mind you the child loves television and asks for it at every lull in the day's events. Not only at every lull, but every afternoon when he is tuckered out from a long day, he must watch "100" of his favorite shows. Yesterday, in the midst of a tantrum he even asked to watch tv to help calm himself down. What an operator.

Despite the fact that certain members of the family don't approve of the programming offered by PBS and the Noggin channels--too much brainwashing--we do allow it on a regular basis, maybe too regular a basis even. A little brainwashing on the virtues of recycling and kindness is well worth saving my own sanity.

Today after it was time to turn off the tv, he decided to beg, whine and cry for more, (I soooo get how parents cave under the pressure and annoyance of the never ending whine) he brought out a new argument, "But Mommy, I have too much brains, so I have to watch more tv." Nice try kid.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Tuesday evening, Shaun started having sharp pains in his side. Wednesday I left him in the emergency room of a dark and drab hospital where the staff, save one, were as uninspired as the physical space that confined them. Ten hours he spent there with little to no satisfaction other than confirmation of the diagnosis that we had pretty much determined ourselves the night before with the help of Google and his uncanny ability to pinpoint the source of his discomfort pretty much exactly. A kidney stone, jagged crystallized rock dragging it's way through the urinary tract (except when it decides to impale itself into the wall of the ureter, but I digress).

He was sent home and ordered to drink his 'normal' amount of water and pass the thing at home. It was not large enough, or so they thought, to blast. From what I have learned, kidney stones are a pretty common occurrence in the ER, perhaps the nurse that told him to drink his normal amount of water was visiting from another effing planet--how about being a tad more specific with a person that, just maybe, has a tough time consuming appropriate amount of liquids for a human being during the course of a day? After all, he is there for a flippin' kidney stone!

Thursday, Friday, and most of Saturday he spent in pretty severe pain, he tried to avoid the vicodin in the beginning for fear that whatever might accompany it would be worse somehow. He quickly got over that and was requesting the next dose before the specified time, in an attempt to keep at least the edge off the pain. The bouts lasted from ten to thirty minutes at a time and were generally followed by the body falling to a deep sleep, attempting to recover.

Friday, he had a follow up appointment with a urologist who generously offered to schedule surgery to remove it in four weeks if the stone had not passed by then. Huh? Four weeks?

Saturday morning called for desperate measures; a home remedy consisting of Coca Cola and pureed asparagus--My husband doesn't really seek out vegetables, so for him to procure, cook, puree and consume asparagus with a gallon of Coke demonstrates the desperation of the situation. By that evening, with no relief, he was done. Calls were made, doctors summoned, and lots more drugs consumed. For the second time in a week, I took him to the Emergency Room. Lucky for us it was a pretty slow night and he was seen relatively quickly. Nathan and I headed back home while he was admitted, more drugs administered and surgery scheduled for the morning.

I won't go into all the many more details, the insults added to injury and the near assault I was threatened with in the ER driveway. Suffice it to say that the most impressive thing about this particular health care provider is their marketing campaign.

The stone was successfully removed as was the stent about a week after the surgery. The host of other unwelcome side effects of the experience are subsiding. He is figuring out how to manage his diet while curbing some of the culprits of his, most common type of stone. The good news is he finally has a legitimate reason to forego the beets offered by his mother-in-law on a semi regular basis. Somehow the threat of another stone is a more palatable refusal than his prior explanation that they taste like dirt...So there's that.