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Posts tagged Jon

Grandkids

Beltane                                                                   Rushing Waters Moon

20170503_165022Finished assembling Ruth’s reading chair here in the loft. Two footstools to go, one for her chair and one for mine. I want her to have a safe place, a quiet place where she can read, just hang out.

Ruth struggles with some unidentified emotional quirk, one held at bay right now by Risperidone, an anti-psychotic. This drug is worrisome to both me and Kate, so we’re pressing for her to have a formal evaluation. Use of such a powerful drug, it blocks or dampens dopamines and regulates serotonins, needs to have a sound medical reason for its prescription, a specific diagnosis. She doesn’t have one right now.

When we moved to Colorado, it was with two primary intentions: be a part of our grandchildren’s lives (and Jon and Jen’s) and live in the mountains. In both cases we’ve exceeded our own expectations.

Being nearby grandparents presented challenges from the start. Jen was never happy with our move to the mountains. “Too far away.” We said we were 900 miles closer. No joy there. Now of course we know that the marriage between Jon and Jen was in its final months, creating various layers of conflict, most of which we were ignorant. No more.

20170422_112445The onset of the divorce has, of course, had outsized effects on the kids. Uncertainty and instability are poison to young kids. Where will we live? Will mom and dad ever like each other again? Who will take care of us? Were we responsible? Attach this world altering anxiety to two already troubled kids and the difficulties multiply.

Being a grandparent in this situation has sometimes been an exquisite torture. We can see what’s happening, empathize, support, but we have no direct impact since Ruth and Gabe are not our kids. In our culture this is as it should be, I’m not contesting that, but being so close to the problem and being unable to act requires a level of zen I don’t always reach.

Gabe has his own struggles. He’s too often by himself at school, sometimes bullied. At home he sways from sweet to angry, petulant and destructive. In his case we often encounter behavioral issues that we can deal with directly because he exhibits them toward us.

20170422_130638He tells the dogs he loves them, pets them, while occasionally pinching them or twisting their ears. We immediately put limits and consequences on these behaviors, but they slip back in from time to time anyhow.

We had not expected to have this kind of experience, definitely not, though we have been and continue to be glad that we’re here. We’ve been able to shelter Jon and the grandkids over a difficult year, to provide a place for them to regroup. That doesn’t mean it’s been easy for us, it hasn’t, but family is about family, not ease.

Zoo Interreptus

Winter                            First Moon of the New Year

Gabe, Jen, Kate and I settled into the Nissan rental for our trip to the zoo.  We headed down the boulevarded Martin Luther King to Colorado, took a left, south, and followed the signs to the zoo, not far away, especially not far away compared to the zoo…

This entry was cut short by the call from Jen to go pick up Jon.  The zoo faded into the afternoon as Jen and I drove out Hwy 70 into the Rocky Mountains, crossed Loveland Pass and dropped down its far side to the Arapahoe Ski Area or A-Basin as skiers here call it.

The clouds had an unreal rose and gold tint and the mountains in front of them looked like a movie set.  We drove up Loveland Pass behind a gasoline tanker truck and descended in 2nd gear.

Denver traffic coming and going from the mountains during the snow months, especially on weekends, can resemble a good-old fashioned Chicago rush hour, but this particular evening the road had plenty of space.  Ruthie and I scooted home ahead of Jon and Jen.

On the way out I noticed several vehicles with Co-exist bumper stickers, a sure sign of paganism.  Made me feel good.

Kate says Jon’s head knock is a serious concussion, the kind that, if repeated, could result in brain trauma.  Nothing to play with.

Jon, Jen, Ruth and Gabe

Winter                   First Moon of the New Year

Sunny and 54 here in Denver today.  Heading out to the zoo with grandson Gabe and daughter-in-law Jen.

Ruth and Jon drove into the mountains to A-basin at 5:30 this morning.  Ruth has an all day ski lesson while Jon will try to find runs not crowded with newbies.  Not much snow here so the existing runs have become clogged.

Jon moved out here ten years ago and has taken full advantage of the location.  He skis as often as he can, which means weekly at least in most cases.  He climbs mountains and skies down rugged terrain.

He’s no youngster, either, at 43. He’s stayed in good shape and manages his chronic illnesses with grace.  He has diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and addison’s disease.  Any one of these would give most folks an excuse to sit in the easy chair, but not Jon.

He’s an artist, a teacher, a father, an athlete and a home renovator. Pretty impressive.

The Road

Beltane                                                     Waxing Garlic Moon

The dog delivered, I’m moving more slowly today.  I’ve selected a route home, up I-29 to I-90, then to the Jeffer’s Petroglyphs.  I’ll plan to stay around there tonight, then finish up the drive home tomorrow.

Saw granddaughter Ruth’s new teeth.  Little white spikes emerging between her baby teeth in the front.  Ruth is not sure what to make of Grandpa.  I don’t mind.  I’m in the relationship for the long haul and I know we’ll connect.

Sollie looked at me from the car.  I opened the Subaru’s trunk latch and gave him a hug.  We became pals.  I am, however, not sorry to see him go.  I think the home dogs will calm down.  I hope.

Jon and Jen have their sleeves rolled up, busy with two young kids, renovation and a dog.  At least they have the summer.

Now, I’m going to hit the road and wander a bit, a joy I picked up from my dad, who loved a road trip now matter how small.

Driving to Nebraska. Again.

Beltane                                                                   Waxing Garlic Moon

Motel 6 with Sollie, Lincoln Nebraska

At 8:35 am Sollie and I took off in the truck.  We drove straight through to this little piece of heaven.

Driving between Andover and Lincoln, a frequent trip, goes through some of the less visually interesting parts of the United States.

Sollie is now in the bathroom blessedly quiet.  He’s a bit much to handle, a lot like a 3 year old.

Kate called with an extreme emergency.  The powers out and the generator did not kick in.  Time and a half to take care of it, but Kate’s there and she’s hot.  Kate hot is not something you want to see.  So Allied Generator has an evening call to rescue my sweet heart.

Ruth is with Jon and they’re on their way.

Sollie Goes Home

Beltane                                                                         Waxing Garlic Moon

Tomorrow I leave for Lincoln, Nebraska.  Sollie will head back to Denver with Jon.  Our goal here is to calm the dog situation down by getting rid of the extra dog and getting to work integrating Gertie into our pack.  She has a Jekyll and Dog personality; sweet and friendly, cuddly 90% of the time and all gnarly teeth and dog for 10%.  Trouble is, we can’t predict the 10%.  Outside humans seem to raise her hackles, at least sometimes, but there’s something between her and the other dog’s, too.  Our hope is that Sollie’s presence, a male among females, may have tipped the balance toward aggression in the doggy world for Gertie and that with him gone, she’ll calm down.  That may be wishful thinking.

Mark finished a first course of granite blocks for our firepit. Now I have to find a steel fire ring.  It’ll be nice to have a place for a fire just in time for summer.  No.  Kidding.  It’s nice to have it done and ready for fall.  Mark’s helped out a lot.  I’ve found it much easier to do my work here if I don’t have to do the heavy work on both ends of a project.  (This will be the Agni fire pit by Mark Ellis.)

I’m awake.  In addition to getting up at 10:40 I also had a 2 hour nap.  Staying out late is possible for me, but I have to have time to recover.

Watched the NBA finals with Mark tonight.  Two Hoosier boys watching the big guys play ball.  We didn’t have the sound on.  Basketball is the one sport I know well enough to watch without commentary.  I decided, early on, that I wanted to see Miami win, so tonight’s decision pleased me.  It was a game right down to the final 4.0 seconds.

There and Back Again

Spring                                         Waning Bloodroot Moon

My usual method of travel is mosey.  I like slow travel, paying attention to the countryside and stopping when an interesting site shows up.  I’ve never understood the folks who drive straight through, as if travel was only about making it to a destination, for me travel is the destination.  Except for yesterday and today.  I drove to Lincoln, Nebraska yesterday and came back today.  It was  doable.  I only stopped to put gas in the truck and once to grab a hamburger, otherwise I ate food packed by Kate, a wonderful road food preparer.

(Above:  Nebraska Capitol.  R. Iowa Capitol Building.  I saw it from I-235.)

My destination was a Motel 6 just off I-80 north of Lincoln.  Apparently Motel 6 and pets are friendly.  I don’t know because we don’t travel with our dogs. I met Jon there.  He drove east through slushy snow while I drove west on clear roads with sun yesterday and back with cloudy but clement weather today.  Sollie and Gertie are now in their crate in our upstairs entry way after an evening of sniffing and being sniffed, a couple of tussles over doorways and such.  To be expected.

I got three-quarters through a long audio book and have arrived back home as if I never left.  Didn’t feel like travel to me.  Felt more like long-haul trucking.  Which it was, I guess.

This is family stuff, the sort of things families do for each other, even if separated by many hundreds of miles.

Family Time

Winter                                     Waxing Moon of the Cold Month

Kate sees this trip as vacation; I don’t.  Family related travel, the bulk of what I do, has a different purpose and feel.  It’s about relationships and the hard work necessary to maintain them.  It has the flavor of duty, but duty in a positive, not an obligatory sense.   The hard work has its pleasures, yes, lifting Ruth up in the air as she giggles, helping Gabe push his toys around on the floor, but it also has its rough edges.  A relationship with a sister, troubled since birth, breaks bad in a new, more intense way after she becomes pregnant.

The parents of young children face a plethora of challenges, too, noise and activity levels after a hard day at work, insistent demands for attention, keeping the kids safe indoors and out, little time for themselves separately or together.   None of this is new, this is the ancientrail of child-rearing, but it is one meant to happen in an extended family.  In our case, as in so many, many others, children and grandchildren live in one state, grandparents, uncles and aunts live in another.

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West Colfax and the Wild West

Winter                                       Waxing Moon of the Cold Month

Gabe and Ruth asked for us to come over tonight.  We did.  We went with Jon and Jen and Ruth and Gabe to an art teacher’s art show.  It was in the ‘hood, just off west Colfax, the Latino part of that very long street, not too far from Montview, where Jon met Jen and where he still teaches.

Jon had a cell phone photograph in the show, one taken at table setting level during a Halloween wedding.  The composition was clever and the cell phone grain gave the photograph a painterly feel.  It was easily the best piece in the show, though I should say the competition was not strong save for a couple of potters and a cartoonist.

Along the way we passed a dulceria where they sell pinatas.  It had pinatas hung from the ceiling and lots of brightly colored party favors.  Snow White and Cinderella, in large cardboard movie style images, graced the front of the store.  Down a bit further was a dress maker, dark on this Friday night with big girl dresses for Quinceañera. Ruth wanted Kate to make her a strapless one, but in the truth telling way she has, Kate said, “Not until you get boobies.  You couldn’t hold the dress up.”  “Well,” Ruth went on, “Maybe it could have sleeves.”

After the opening, Kate and I took off on our own to give the family a chance to decompress from a full week of grandparents.  Tomorrow I’ll see Ruth at her gymnastics, then around 2 pm we’ll board the shuttle for National Grand Western Stock Show.  This will be my second time and I look forward to it.

It’s an event similar to the state fair, but limited only to farm and ranch related vendors and activities.  Rodeos, judging of champion bulls, pigs, sheep, the Wild West Show we’ll see tomorrow at 4 and barrel races make up the bulk of the events outside of the ranch related wheeling and dealing.

A lot of that goes on in hotel restaurants and bars far from the Stock show grounds.  Men in cowboy hats, blue jeans and vests gather around shots of Jack Daniels and beer chasers, talk cattle and land.  It all gives January Denver a distinctly Western tone.

It also helps me define myself as a Midwesterner.  We’re agricultural, yes, but we’re row crops and feedlots, 4-H and county fairs, small acreages and farmers.  The West has ranches and cattle herds, oil and open land, brands and rodeos.  Yes, you could point to many similarities, but the differences are what strike me, making me realize I know very little about the West, in our past or in our present.

Happy Grandpa

Winter                                             Waxing Moon of the ColdMonth

When Kate and I arrived down south here in Denver, we got a 40 degree temperature swing.  At 8 am this morning, my weatherstation recorded -14.  When we got to Denver, it was 26.  If we’d left Minnesota at 50 degrees amd gotten a similar bump, it would be 90 here.

Now, there are school closings here with a snow that would only bring out the sanding trucks in Minnesota.  Strange.

After a nap, the grumpy traveler became a happy grandpa, taken upstairs by granddaughter Ruth to see her princess walkie talkies and her changeable Cinderalla doll.  Back downstairs grandson Gabe carried his toy train, Thomas, and came to me, “Up.”  So we did.

Gabe and I looked at the Dreidel lights Jen had strung over the window sill.

After a Mexican meal at the restaurant next to our hotel, the kids went home and the grandparents walked through the snow a short way to the hotel.  This snow is finer than most of them we get in Minnesota, light, but not fluffy.

Bedtime here in the Mile High City.  With snow.

August 2017
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