Tuesday, August 21, 2012

2012-08-19 Yup, Still Here

Nadia woke up when the nurse wasn't able to push the antibiotics through the IV. Nadia hates that first push as it is, but when it didn't work and had to be reattempted, that set her off. The blood draw through the line failed again, and the nurses gave up trying to pull blood out of the line on subsequent days. Getting Nadia's vital signs while she had on her thick pajamas was difficult, too, so Nadia woke up for a bit. The nurses pricked Nadia's heel to get her blood, and Nadia went back to sleep.

I left for a while, I think to get Sofia from Anissa's.

Mommy and Nadia slept through rounds. Mommy woke at 10, and Nadia didn't wake until 11. This meant that Mommy chose to endure a need to pee for an hour, since Nadia was sleeping on Mommy. At 11, Mommy discovered a rash on Nadia.

While I was gone, a doctor came in the room, and Jessica thought he was me for a moment. Boy, that could have turned weird really fast. Daddy Impostor Doctor did a quick exam of Nadia while Nadia was napping, and possibly while Mommy wished that Daddy really was a doctor.

Nadia was only awake for two hours before taking a nap with daddy for another three hours. Jessica watched Buffy The Vampire Slayer on the fourth floor on Daddy's iPad. The fourth floor has a courtyard area that really needs some decorative attention. It could be awesome, but as it is, it is not awesome.

Hematology's Dr. Gilbert came to talk to us about scheduling a bone marrow sample, and tell us about the details of Nadia's possible inclusion in a marrow study. When Dr. Gilbert heard about Nadia's rash, she lit up, because the rash lends itself to the probability of Nadia's sickness and blood counts being the result of viral suppression.

Nadia proved to still not be very hungry, but she was very thirsty.

Nadia started to show signs of extreme boredom, so I started to take regular walks with her around the pod, when the play room wasn't open. On this night, we came across quite a few patients and parents having a great time in the Family Quiet Area of the hallway! After a few minutes, someone realized that it wasn't a Pod A party without Asher, so he was summoned. The hallway lit up when he came toddling around the corner, and by the look on his face, he may have though the party was just for him. Nadia was particularly excited to see Asher.

This excursion also led to a very important discovery: there are TWO coffee pots in Pod A, and the second one almost always has hot coffee in it, whereas the first one is there just to make sleepy people cry.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

2012-08-18 Nadia's still in the hospital.

Nadia's previous rough night stayed tough through morning. Her IV line stopped working properly in the middle of the night, so we scheduled for a repair at 4:45 AM. After Nadia's blood draw, she slept on the couch with mommy a bit longer.

I left to get Sofia from Anissa's house at 7:30 AM. I took Sofia home, and she watched television while I napped as much as I could until Nana arrived around 11. Grandpa George arrived shortly after. We talked and ate until Grandpa George left and I showered. Then I left to get an oil change, but it was Saturday, and Precision Auto Tune was packed.

During doctor rounds, one of the doctors came over to Jessica and squeezed her hand. She was a doctor who worked with Nadia's case last year, and she remembered us. Jessica says that we were fortunate to have that particular doctor, because she was able to correct a misconception or misreading of Nadia's chart. I think Jessica said that the head doctor on the rounds got the chain of events from last year wrong, but I don't remember the details. The doctors said that Nadia's white blood cells had increased, and that we are looking at two straight days of no fever and a high enough white cell count before we can leave. They also said that Nadia's sodium levels were a bit low. The doctors agreed that Nadia is more than likely fighting a virus, but that erring on the cautious side is smartest, since Nadia is treated as a cancer survivor. Assumptions would be bad.

Sofia started out her day with a rather weak appetite, but no fever.Given the sodium levels and Nadia's lack of appetite, Jessica switched Nadia to pedialyte.

To break the boredom, I took Nadia to the play room for Pod A. Pod A patients can only use that play room, since the air is controlled. Nadia got to play drums with her new friend Asher! So did I. I spoke with Asher's father, Scott, and we both recorded the kids.

In the afternoon, Mommy napped with Nadia, who was acting much more pleasant than the afternoon before, while Daddy ate lunch and read.

In the evening, I prevented the previous night's scheduling mistakes by keeping Nadia up until eleven. This seemed like a bad idea around nine, when Nadia started acting sleepy, but she got a big burst of energy once she was in bed with Jessica and I. She was very happy to get to cuddle with everyone, and didn't want it to end.

By eleven, though, she was dooooooooooooooooone. So were Jessica and I. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Nadia's back in the hospital.

I'm not dating or starting a day count in the title here, because I am fighting to resist the flashbacks to the last time Nadia was in the hospital. I'm not doing well with it.

Nadia started running a fever of 102 Wednesday night. I emailed the doctor's office, and a nurse replied that we should bring Nadia in on Thursday if

1) she didn't sleep
2) her temperature maintained or worsened
3) her urine output decreased

Non of those things happened. Nadia had a temperature of 101 first thing in the morning, and it lowered to 100 later that morning. The doctor and I decided to hold off on the appointment.

Later that afternoon, Nadia rose to 102 again, and then to 103. I made an appointment for Friday morning.

At 4:30 Friday morning, Nadia started hacking. Her stomach was very loud during the hacking. She vomited up some greenish liquid, but no food or drink from the night before. I took a picture of it to show the doctor.

Four Peaches went to the appointment, in two cars. Jessica was just stopping in before work. Nadia was still in her pajamas, because the appointment was at 8:15, and I wanted her to sleep as late as possible. I packed a bottle of milk for her to drink once we were there.

We saw a different doctor from Nadia's normal one, because Nadia's usual doctor is in a different building on Fridays, I think. Dr. Steigelfest did all the easier checks on Nadia, and saw the same thing I did. No apparent symptoms. Nadia was in a great mood. I showed the doctor the vomit picture.

The doctor did not like the vomit picture. She ordered blood tests, urine tests, and x-rays.

There was an announcement over the very loud intercom about an upcoming test of the emergency system. I told Jessica that we were destined for the hospital. Last year, at Nadia's first appointment after leaving her birth stay, there were tornado warnings which forced everyone into the hallways. We were there for a very long time, before being sent home. That night was when Nadia got very, very sick, and we went back to the hospital for five weeks.

While we waited for results, I fed Nadia her bottle. Nadia paid it back, with interest. A nurse brought me a scrub shirt that was too small for me.

The urine tests were negative, the x-rays showed only poop, but the blood tests showed very low white blood cell counts for Nadia. At the last check three months ago, she was at 7000. Yesterday, she was 2100. There was another count that I can't remember how to spell which was also below some cutoff point.

Since we had a blood appointment at the hospital scheduled for the next week already, and since the counts were so low, Dr. Steigelfest  contacted the hematology/oncology department at the hospital. They needed to know, and if things were tolerable, we could possibly not have to go to the next week's appointment.

Hem/Onc told Dr. Steigelfest that they needed Nadia to be there. Dr. Steigelfest told us. The counts weren't disastrous, but since it was a Friday, it was smartest to have Nadia close for the weekend.

Jessica took Nadia to the hospital. I took Sofia to The Sanborns', then gathered some things from home, fed the dogs, dropped more clothes off for Sofia, and headed to the hospital.

It got bad for me alone in the car. Once we were in a room at the hospital, and the nurse started asking questions, Jessica turned to me, because I've spent the most time with Nadia. I nodded for Jessica to answer instead, because I was having a hard time holding it together, and I was afraid that speaking would wreck my efforts.

I got better, eventually.

All the nurses love Nadia. Nadia does not love any of the nurses. She did, however, like the play room in our pod on the sixth floor.

The night was rough. Nadia was obviously done for the day around nine, but she just couldn't get comfortable. She had an IV line in her arm, which was covered by a cast thing, which was covered with a sock, because Nadia kept trying to bite it off. The sock made Nadia's crawling difficult. In her worst moments of sleepy anger, Nadia managed to big a small chuck of her thumb out. We put a bandage over her thumb, she she tried to chew it off. I asked the nurse for Orajel, but the she and the doctor said that she strongly advises against it, because it take oxygen away from red blood cells. Since Pod A on the sixth floor is all blood-related, this is particularly serious. I told the  doctor and nurse that we would tough it out to get Nadia asleep.

We cuddled with Nadia to try and keep her comfortable. Once she finally got to sleep, the nurse who was just in came in to give her antibiotics.

The nurse who was just in.

When I said we were fighting to get her to sleep.

Later, I asked the nurse to please tell me to just keep Nadia awake, if she knew she was going to come right back and wake her up.

We gave Nadia a bottle of milk to calm her down. Nadia gave it right back. Changes of sheets, clothes, and IV dressing.

Eventually we did all sleep.

I'll tell you about today sometime tomorrow.

Friday, August 10, 2012

2012-08-10 Bozeman Day 3

We got a later start than we had planned. I slept a little extra after Jessica got up. When I came out of the bedroom, Chris and Kitty Dog were in the office replying to work emails. Jessica and Dee were on the back porch looking at mountains and drinking coffee. I slipped into the kitchen undetected and tore into a couple more inches of leftover pizza for breakfast.

We made another morning trip to the co-op, where the other three ate and I drank my chai latte. I thought that the barista was taking a long time, until Dee realized that I wasn't drinking from the cup she'd brought to the table already. 

All four of us piled into Dee's car to go to Yellowstone. We stopped at a place that can best be described as  bone market. The man working there, who was presumably the man who owned it, can best be described as a man who would work at and own a bone market in rural Montana. Dee called my attention to a jackalope mount, and did her best to ask me if I had ever seen one. I told her that I wasn't an idiot. She thought that was hilarious.

Not long into our drive, Dee started to feel terrible, and I worried a lot about her running over smoky mountains the next day, after a full day driving and walking through Yellowstone. 

We entered through the north entrance, just south of Mammoth, Montana. The first stop was my favorite. There were geysers and steam and hot water everywhere. Dee stayed in the car, Jessica and I took pictures, and Chris was very animated while speaking with tourists. I guessed at the languages I was hearing from everyone. 

We stopped at a bathroom, which was next to a large picnic area, and discovered that there was only one person in line! After we had been in line for a few moments, that person's mother showed up with other family members, looked at Jessica, Dee, and me, and made a second line next to the first guy. I became anxious. Chris walked off. Dee, who had to pee the most out of all of us, told me that she wasn't sure that she was going to make it if that whole family went first. I told her that it wasn't going to happen, and I was pleased to help Dee out, since she was so miserable already. When the first guy came out of the bathroom, the mother sent more of her family in, and I spoke up. I only got "Lady" out before the lady started arguing back and Jessica and Dee told me that it wasn't a big deal, 
after Dee had already informed me that it was. I was very irritated that I'd stuck up for Dee only to be told I'd overreacted, since I'd only said something to the lady because something had been said for me. I walked away and steamed with the ground for a few minutes. 

Eventually we made it to Old Faithful, which is apparently more like Old Approximate, since the eruption is in a 20-minute window. There was quite a crowd, just like at most of the other stops we passed up, but we were able to find somewhere very comfortable and roomy to sit. It's such a large thing that you can really be anywhere nearby and see it just fine.

(Dee looking not sick.)

While we were waiting, lightning started in the distance, but it was close enough that the effect was great. A family next to us had a baby in a helmet, and I thought a lot about Nadia at home in Tennessee. A little girl from a different group asked her mommy about the baby's helmet, and her mommy shushed her. Way to teach, Mommy. That same mommy was trying to tell her little ones on how cool the geyser was going to be. After the eruption was over, the mommy said, "Well, that was disappointing."

We thought it was great.

Next was a nearby gift shop, where Jessica and I bickered about what to get Sofia.

After more driving, we got to the spot that Chris was most excited about, which is called The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. I wondered to myself how many giant canyons there must be, for the people in charge to already be running out of names for canyons. Despite the confusing name, it was beautiful. Rain was coming down by then, which made everything look much more romantic, if you ask me. It also made everything much colder and miserable for Dee. We took tons of pictures and video, and Chris and Dee listened to a ranger's presentation, of which I only heard "IT WAS A SEED BONANZA!" Chris was very excited about a walking trail along the canyon, but I objected because of Dee's health. Jessica told me later that she was a bit disappointed, but I think it was the right decision.

Chris driving got rather scary after the canyon. I don't know if he was just trying to see more of the park, or get home earlier, but the other three of us all made multiple comments. Eventually I decided to read some Fables to get my mind off of the road, until I was accused of staring at a screen.

Chris was disappointed that we didn't see many animals. We did see some cranes, some bison, and an elk. Mostly we saw mountains and geysers, and it was just as well, to me.

We ate at a restaurant just outside of the park, and I ordered the bison burger. I didn't know it was actually bison, I just thought that was what they named it. It was okay. Animals can fit into videos and photos just fine. Mountains and geysers are different.

The drive home consisted mostly of Dee and Chris checking for Bridger Run updates on their phones while also making run preparation checklists. There was very heavy rain on the return trip, and we learned that the rain was helping with the mountain fires, which had been threatening the run all day. By the time we got back to Bozeman, the mountains looked much clearer, and I felt a lot better about Chris and Dee's run that was to happen the next day.

Jessica and I checked in with the Marths and learned that they'd bought a new car. Also, Sofia had helped direct Anissa to Nadia's physical therapy appointment.

After we got back, Chris and Dee ate and went to bed. Jessica and I went out to a bar. Jessica was annoyed with the bad service and with all of the young people in general. I asked her if she needed a walker. When Jessica and I returned, we drank and watched the Olympic opening ceremonies on my iPad. One of the cats came in with a mouse, which became a thing.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

2012-08-09 Bozeman Day 2

We started the day with a trip to the Bozeman co-op. It is possible that there is more than one co-op in Bozeman, but there ya go. On a related note, Jessica assumed that a sign for an acupuncturist must have been for someone whom Dee knew, but given the nature of Bozeman, I told Jessica that it would be foolish to assume that the town has less than five acupuncturists. While at the co-op, Jessica advised me to get batteries for our video camera.

I said that it was unlikely that they carried locally-grown, environment-friendly organic batteries.

Dee made it clear that we needed to arrive at Big Sky by a scheduled time for our mountain trip, but we did take a moment to scope out a bald eagle in a tree. It was a bird that may or may not have been a bald eagle in a tree to me, but Dee is REALLY into raptors. 

Dee, Jessica, and I made it to Big Sky, which is a gigantic mountain resort area. We took a ski lift one-third up the mountain, and then we took a truck another third, and then a tram up to the top, all courtesy of Dee. Describing the beauty might be beyond my abilities, but it is also possible that I was blinded by how radiant my wife was when she was away from so many of the things which drag her down.

The truth is that I can tell that Jessica isn't built for the life we have, and I am working hard to get her something different so that she looks like herself more of the time.

That is the Mardi Gras tree, so named for obvious reasons, and accessible only by ski lift. 

On the way up the mountain, while we were in the truck between the lift and the tram, a big deal was made of some goats far off in the distance. I couldn't see them. Later, when we were on top of the mountain, I noticed some strange objects off in the distance and on another mountain. I wondered aloud whether they were goats.

The truck that we took from the lift to the tram, which means that we were already pretty far up the mountain at this point.

Jessica and Dee took far too much pleasure in pointing out to me that the "goats" were the same size as the trees. James's giant goats were joked about for the duration of the trip.

On the way back down the mountain, Dee noticed some marmets. They were much more exciting than the goats, because I could see them. I did not then discover tree-sized marmets in the distance. If I had, we would all be dead.

I was rather disappointed that there wasn't a geocache on top of the mountain at Big Sky. I really wanted to say that I had found a geocache on top of a giant mountain. I suppose that the rules of geocaching prohibit placing caches which necessitate paying money. But a geocache on a MOUNTAIN? Duuuuuude. That would be great, right?

Cue the Jaws theme.

After we came down from Big Sky, we came across some wooden bulls. There lassos nearby. IT WAS AWESOME. Jessica just about pooped when I very nearly nailed roping a bull on my first try. Of course, the bull wasn't moving. Because it was wooden. But still.

After we came down from the mountains, we stopped at a little area where stores try to sell you things after you are done viewing true beauty in nature, just in case you have some sort of spiritual awakening on top of a mountain which you think should be followed up with a bobble head or something. We went to Blue Moon Cafe. What we ordered was delicious, but there were problems. First, Jessica and Dee fought a hard fight against ordering everything in the baked goods case. Second, Jessica enthusiastically objected to the proportions of the Wonder Woman bust (ha!) on top of the baked goods case, which prompted me to preach about the problems of female anatomy in comics, which are mostly drawn by middle-aged men who may or may not have been very lonely in high school. Third, there was a kid close by who was being very loud. Fourth, the food took a while to arrive, which resulted in Dee wagering that the kid would shut up if she  ate him. Finally, The Blue Moon Cafe did not serve Blue Moon, despite their Blue Moon beer signs.

On the way home, we sought out a geocache. Oh man. It was nightmarish. Most of the trail we were originally on was on private property, and that was alright. Then the trail became much less like a trail, and more like a path beaten down by hikers who only occasionally trek there, and only because they are being chased by something trying to eat them. The info on the cache stated that the last few hundred feet brought an increase in elevation, and so when the "trail" started to incline, we believed we were right on top of it.

Oh God. OH GOD. WE DIDN'T KNOW. Eventually Jessica had to rest, and Dee and I left her behind. The girls were insistent, but it was against all of my instincts to leave my wife in such an environment. We were discovering the bones of things that very recently had been much more than bones, and  Dee had assured me earlier that we would be fine, because bears almost never attack groups of three or more. Well, leaving Jessica made her one, and us two.

Eventually, Dee and I realized that we had to leave the trail to find the cache. So we started climbing the steep area to the right of the trail, away from the stream. The search was a bit screwy compared to previous ones, because there was no phone signal where we were. A phone signal is required to see the map, even though the GPS signal at least tracks you. This meant that we couldn't really see what the cache was close to. We climbed for a while, in different paths, before I got vocally worried. I was worried about my wife, and also I was very out of shape, but Dee asked if I was having elevation issues.

So I looked down.

We had climbed quite a distance. We were right on top of the creek when we started the incline, but at the height of where we thought the cache was, I don't think I could throw a rock in that creek. It would take at least five seconds for that rock to hit water, even if I got it out far enough. I shouted out for Jessica to give me a sign that she was okay. I didn't hear a response, but Dee did.

Dee discovered the cache long after I wanted to give up, which I would have, if she hadn't been there. I had walked right by it, like a dummy. We called for Jessica again, and she showed herself! After a breather, Jessica had walked and climbed a bit further, and I was very proud of her.

(Gotta get the caaaaaaaaache. Gotta get the doooooooooooooough)

Then Dee and I had to get down. She did so largely on her butt. I did so largely skating and crouched on my shoes. Pants and shoes and ankles took quite a beating. It's a good thing that Dee didn't have to run a marathon in two days.

We regrouped by the stream and started walking back to the car. I asked Jessica where she had put my messenger bag, which had my iPad. Then I realized that she never had it. I'd put it down when we started our climb. I ran ran ran back to where it was, which was too far, given how tired I was. There were more animal bones along the way, just to remind me that I was now only one person.

As we were walking the long trail back to the car, I decided to take video of Dee and Jessica walking. I pulled my iPad out to take video, and there was white slimy crap all over it. I asked Jessica whether she had handled my iPad after putting on lotion, and only realized after the question had left my mouth that Jessica had not had access to the iPad since the last time I'd bagged it. This means I blamed her for it being lost, then for it being dirty.

It turned out that the stuff was chocolate egg filling, from candy that had been placed in my messenger bag.

As we were walking back to the car, down the long trail, a couple of fisherman by the creek noticed Jessica walking far ahead, and seemed inquisitive. Then they saw Dee, and got much more interested. There were two fisherman, after all, and two ladies popped up out of the wilderness. CHRISTMAS IN AUGUST. Then they saw me, and looked disappointed. Aw, come on guys, ain't I pretty?

The Three Cachers sat by the stream soaking our feet for a little while. It felt great on my poor ankle, after that climb.

I pretended not to feel broken just long enough to take the picture.

On the way back home, we stopped at a hot springs thing, which I thought was going to just be a big hole in the ground that we could get in, but which turned out to be a big pool facility which was built on and drew its water from one of those holes. Jessica led me to try out a sauna, but I turned right around, because it felt too much like Nashville in there.

On the way home from the hot springs place, the mountains looked much smokier, and I worried a lot about the Bridger Run. It seemed to me very likely that people could sustain serious lung damage running through that smoke for 20 miles. The smoke made the sunset gorgeous.

We ordered a 20" pizza for dinner. It was too much. Jessica and I enjoyed the massage chair, the beer, and the company. We rented a movie from Hastings, but never watched it. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

2012-08-08 Bozeman Day 1

Jessica and I slept in, which meant we slept until 7:30. The absence of children led us to not bother getting out of bed until 8:30, which meant that I checked my voicemail as soon as I went upstairs. The airline had already left me a voicemail saying that they had my bag and would be sending it to the house. I called them back and asked to just pick it up at the airport, because I really wanted to get my bag out of their hands as soon as possible. 

After getting the bag (the lady working the desk didn't bother to apologize), Jessica and I returned to the house, where we scooped up Dee and went out for breakfast. We went to the Nova Cafe on Main Street. Dee raved about the cafe and its owner, and she told me that their Special Scrambler sent 10% of the proceeds to Reach Inc. That made my choice easy. It was delicious and way too much food. 

Casa de Metrick is very nice. There are works of art and animal pieces everywhere you look, in addition to actual animals. There is a large garden in the back yard which Chris pulls veggies from for dinner. Some of the art was done by Dee's grandmother, who stopped painting faces as her dementia took hold. Even those pieces were loved. 

 When we left Nova Cafe, there was a group of girls from a local...thing, awkwardly singing songs of empowerment, walking down Main Street. The two older girls in the rear of the line just kind of mumbled, and I thought to myself that they'd missed the window, and that they would care again once they were making a fraction of their male counterparts for equal work, yet still expected to handle all the domestic duties. 

Peaches and Metrick decided to try a geocache. There was one just a couple of blocks away, and two Peaches and Dee wandered around looking for Dee's first cache for about twenty minutes. When we finally found it, we discovered that it was father-themed. The cache looked like a long M&Ms tube and asked the finder to leave something behind in tribute to a father. Dee left a little paperclip that was made to look like a foot, since her feet resemble her father's. Dee also gasped when she realized it was her father's birthday!

Since we had a bit of time before our appointment at Reach, Inc., we walked over to the library so that we could tour it, and do another geocache along the way. Dee managed to find the second one by lifting up the base to a light pole! Unfortunately, there was a big ol' spider in there. Dee and I started to wonder if geocaching might be a crafty trap by spiders to get people to come to them. 

There were a bunch of sculptures outside of the library that Jessica loved. 

The Bozeman Public Library was wonderful. Much like the airport, there was wood everywhere. There was a separate slot for returning children's books, with a stool right in front. Magnetic walls were everywhere for kids to make scenes and sentences. We searched for the comics, and went upstairs, where we found a kids' section that I didn't want to leave. There were all sorts of things to play with, a huge Lego exhibit, a refrigerator box that had been turned into a reading room, but no comics. I tried the reading room out. 

The comics were downstairs. Jessica got a bunch of the Fables paperbacks that we'd missed out on. There were also quite a few other titles that I love, like Ex Machina and Asterios Polyp. I found a cell phone at the checkout desk and gave it to the librarian. Dee had to renew her card. It was embarrassing, because Dee was all, "HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW WHO I AM" and knocking over carts full of Twilight. 

That last part didn't happen. 

Peaches Plus Dee went to Reach, Inc. to tour the facilities and meet clients and employees. It was a privilege to meet so many people who dedicate themselves to helping adults with all sorts of disabilities find independence and a place in the world. Jessica spends a lot of time thinking about what it will be like for Nadia to be an adult. I wonder what would happen to Nadia if, for some reason, she had no adult relatives to guide her. Touring Reach gave Jessica and me a lot to think about. We have a lot of learning to do about what is available to Nadia in Nashville. The highlight of the trip was meeting Jenny, a reach client who is so full of friendliness that, upon meeting her, Oscar the Grouch would immediately trade in his trash can for a chance to hug her. We met several very friendly and hard-working Reach clients, some of whom were easier to communicate with that others. We also got to see firsthand how services and understanding for people with developmental issues have improved over the years, because Reach serves quite a wide range of ages. It made me very hopeful for the future of people like Nadia, but it also made me very mournful for the past of all of us. 

We wandered around outside of Reach and pondered where we would put a cache, before leaving to drive up Story Hill to eat up some time before out next appointment. Dee grew more worried about the smoke over the mountains, which was the result of of fires. The Ridge Run, which Chris and Dee were both going to run, was rapidly approaching. Dee wasn't concerned about that, though. She was sad that the normal view of the mountains wasn't available. I was sad thinking about Chris and Dee breathing all that crap in while running twenty miles up and down a freaking mountain. 

Dee took us to Eagle Mount next, which is a place that serves people with disabilities, like Reach. Whereas Reach has the less glamorous task of focusing on living conditions and such foundation things as teaching schedule adherence and stranger danger, Eagle Mount focuses on useful but also fun activities such as equine therapy, skiing, swimming, and, hell, I dunno, rapping? They do a lot of stuff, it's hard to keep track. Dee's counterpart (and role model) at Eagle Mount, Heather, showed us around the facilities and told us stories. The most important detail that Jessica and I remember is that Eagle Mount has eight employees. . .and sixteen-hundred volunteers. (I pooped just typing that.) 

Most relevant was Heather telling us a very personal story about her mother not understanding why she would be doing what she is doing. That went on for years, and then Heather's mother came to an event, and she understood. Heather started crying telling us that story. I have been thinking quite a bit lately about what I really, really want for myself and my wife and children, versus what is easy, and Heather's story hit home. For Jessica, Eagle Mount illustrated what bothers her most about her own father, who lost his sight years ago. It's not that he doesn't seek help adapting to his new reality. He actively avoids it. Jessica cried, too. 

Somewhere in the middle of all this we were at Casa de Metrick, and Dee talked to Chris on the phone and told her that he'd become aware that someone was using cloned credit card info of his all over the country. 

Before dinner, I did some tech support on a phone call back home. We'd left directions on how to work the TV and computer, but yeah. I was prepared, if not completely in control of my faculties. 

We went to Bozeman Ale Works. It was very loud in there, and service was rather slow. All four of us sat on a couch, and Jessica and Chris told stories that I couldn't hear. Apparently there was a killer one about a cow. I'll ask Jessica to send it to me so that I can put it in here. I was sleepy and it was loud. I missed most of it.

But ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh man. The next story I heard? The one about Gary and Sandy finding sawdust in Chris's drawer and subsequently confronting him about being on drugs? I'm never letting that one go. 

Jessica had a local hefeweizen that she fell in love with. I can't remember the name of it. Dinner was delicious. We didn't want to leave.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

2012-08-07 Bozeman, Day 0

The day started early. Nana before 7 AM to deal with the girls while Jessica and I ran around and did last-minute stuff. I'd neglected to take out the trash and scrub the tub and a couple of other things, but the house was looking pretty good for our house-sitters due to Jessica's hard work over the previous couple of days while I kept the girls out of her way. Nana was kind enough to bring Jessica and me some food from McDonald's which I forgot to eat. 

Anissa arrived next to take us to the airport. Again, I'd neglected a couple of tasks involving the cars, so I had to handle those before we could leave. We left the girls with Nana, who handed them off to Anissa later in the afternoon. 

Anissa's driving scares me, but I'm very thankful that she was available to drive us to the airport. She likes to make lots of eye contact while conversing in the car, which is a problem if she doesn't know exactly where we are going. 

The airline lady for Frontier told us that we could check our larger bags for free, since the flight was so full. Yay! More on that later. 

The flight out of Nashville was uneventful. We looked for my friend Shane's cigar shop, but it must have been in another terminal. I wondered how much business-class money has been lost at the book sellers due to tablets.

A boy of about twelve, with short red hair and gleaming white shelltoes (a Jimmy Olsen type) looked nervous while waiting to board his plane. He was sitting perfectly still, except for one rapidly bouncing foot. I became interested in his story. Some relatives who may or may not have been his parents later showed up. The man barked into a phone about how if nobody was going to be on time to pick the boy up in Denver, then he may as well stay in Nashville. Then the man barked at the boy about staying safe and only going where he was supposed to go. Once I guess he felt sufficiently in control, the relatives went to leave. That's when the same Frontier lady who checked our bags shouted across the terminal at the relatives, telling them that they couldn't leave until the boy was ACTUALLY ON THE PLANE. I understood the bouncing foot. 

Leaving Nashville was fine. Arriving in Denver was not. I had never been on a flight that took off and landed so close to mountains. I will be drinking on the way back. It occurred to me that, even with some previous rough landings, I'd never before been so worried about something bad happening to me while flying. I'm chalking it up to having children. I'm much more fearful than I used to be. 

While at the Denver airport, Jessica and I bickered about what time it actually was, then about her wanting to chill while I wanted to wander. Then was bickered about not knowing if anyone was going to meet us at the airport. I took photos of the huge sculpture in the middle of the airport and posted them to Instagram. We got KFC and sat to eat. I got honey mustard on my Beastie Boys shirt. I thought the lady in front of us was Melinda Doolittle for a moment, but she wasn't. The guy in front of her paid for the guy in front of him's lunch, because that guy sent his lady friend away to get on the plane while he waited for their food, and she had their money. An army of very grown Boy Scouts passed, and I wondered how many of them were gay. I tried to use my new iPad to make a Facetime call to my friend Shane for the first time, but he was working. He did, however, notify me via Facebook that the Denver International Airport is the focus of some conspiracy theories, and directed me to a website that also noted that the DIA is on some list of very haunted places. This is after my very nervous landing, and before a very nervous takeoff. Denver has a very cool roof, by the way. Look it up. I gave Jessica a back rub to get my mind off of the doomed nature of the airport. 

Between Denver and Bozeman, Jessica and I watched the Olympics during the free preview period of in-flight television. Jessica fell in love with a diver who was rapping and dancing with her headphones on between dives. I can't find any info on her. which sucks, because I would watch her do that every day just to keep my spirits up. She was great. Once the free preview was over, I finished a book, and after that, Jessica and I watched the first forty-five minutes or so of the Olympics opening ceremonies on the iPad. Bonus: we watched the BBC broadcast instead of the USA one, which I hear had incessant and inane commentary. 

After another bouncy takeoff and landing, we were in Bozeman! Their airport is beautiful. Like much of the town, there is wood everywhere, as well as animal sculptures. But better than the wood or the bronze animals was SEEING DEE METRICK WAITING FOR US! Joy all around. 

And then not joy, as we finally accepted that my bag would not be joining us for a while, if at all. We went over the the Frontier desk, and I told the lady that my bag had not come. She handed me a form, told me that she had to go, and that I could leave the form on the desk and someone would come by later and find it and enter it into the system. 

Uh, no. Dee and Jessica were very kind to wait with me for someone to show up so that I could hand the form to them. That person was all click and clack on the computer for a moment before telling me that she had no idea where my bag was. 


We got back to Casa de Metrick, which is beautiful inside and out, much like its human inhabitants and two of its animals. I suspect one of the cats might be evil. The air in Bozeman keeps almost no humidity. It's amazing. I worked on my final Spanish summer class assignments without the benefit of my textbook, which was in my lost bag. Chris arrived after work, and we set out for McKenzie Pizza Company, which I declared should be renamed OMG NACHOS, because OMG NACHOS. Chris told Dee that he would have never spoken to her if she sounded like our waitress, which I thought was a bit rude, even if I felt the same. 

After we returned home, I walked a short distance to the store for beer. At 9 PM, there was still loads of sunlight. I soaked up the sidewalks, which are virtually nonexistent in our part of Nashville. On the way back, I took a turn one block too early, which meant I went around the street I meant to turn on, which meant I walked past someone's rottweiler in their front yard. He didn't look upset or anything, and Bozeman is a very pedestrian town, so I greeted him. He growled. I thanked him for the clarification and for not punishing my insolence and kept on strolling.

Kitty barked at me upon my return. Kitty is the dog, and she gets very excited when I say "Hey, kitty" to the cats, who are not named Kitty. 

Chris and Dee were asleep when I returned, and I discovered that the beer I bought, Fat Tire, required a bottle opener. Fail. 

I had a couple of Chris's Busch Lights while listening to Frank Ocean via Spotify on the iPad, before joining Jessica for sleep.