Wednesday, June 29, 2022

The stalking incident

I was at the dentist in Olympia, WA, the closest big city to my dad's place on the peninsula. The dentist wanted to explain my upcoming root canal. This was against my mom's instructions to not pursue what a root canal actually is, and my husband paid the price. He was sitting on a stool next to me and suddenly he flopped back against the wall, unconscious. 

We lowered him to the ground and the dentist started yelling, "He's having a heart attack!" I yelled back, "RAISE HIS LEGS and get some oxygen!" 

It took a while for us to coordinate this because the dentist really thought J was dying, and to be honest, he did look dead. His eyes had rolled back, still open, and his face had turned grey. 

I yelled again, "Raise his legs" and finally J got the blood back to the important parts and slowly woke up, to the assistant finally putting on an O2 mask. 

Vaso vagal syncope. I guess it's something I have to live with with my husband, who cannot give a blood sample sitting up, nor hear gory details about removing the living nerves and tissues inside a tooth. At least not on a hot day when he hadn't eaten much.

I knew I had to get some food into him so I made the world's fastest grocery run grabbing the first sandwich I saw and running through Fred Meyer full speed. 

After he'd eaten it in the car I needed to get my pre-op medications for my surgery the next day. It was 7:55 PM. All the pharmacies were shutting up, one after the other. And one of them, dropping the gate directly in front of my face as I ran up to it. 

We went to 5 different pharmacies, using Google to find which ones might still be open. 

One of them was funny in retrospect, not funny at all at the time, it was a freaking HMO that Google called a pharmacy, cuz they had one. I got in line, waited, and then asked for my meds. They asked for my membership card. I said, "I'm not a member." They directed me to the membership booth where I could become a member (at 8PM?). I said, "I don't even live in this country, I don't want to be a member." So again, I left empty handed. 

I arrived at one just-shut up pharmacy with another anguished lady trying to get her medicine and I said, "Well, that's it for me then, no surgery tomorrow." I had given up. The lady confirmed with me that the pharmacy was supposed to be open. 

I finally got to a still-open pharmacy at a Safeway in Lacey, WA (?). I was so demoralized I was almost amused by the situation.

All this time J had been in the car, recovering from his fainting episode.

The guy at the pharmacy said he could actually help me, before they shut up shop. I laughed, beyond caring. 

He was so nice. 

Then this tall guy with long stringy hair wearing a beige trenchcoat walked by me, turned,  and stopped. He said, "Were you in Shelton, Washington today?" Huh? Shelton is where my dad's house is. Shelton is of course where I was today. Shelton is a full hour drive from where we were.

He waved and walked on and at first I thought he was being friendly, until the nice pharmacy dude said, "You'd better be careful, he seems like a freak." Then I switched into alert mode and planned my moves.

The nice pharmacist said it would be 10 minutes, so I went "window shopping" in Safeway, all the amazing new foods I'd never seen before since living in America. 

I turned a corner and there was the trenchcoat guy. 

I deliberately paused a long time at the frozen aisle hoping he'd move on. 

I turned the next corner and he was there. 

My heart started pounding. 

10 minutes was up so I got my pre-op drugs and heartily thanked the nice pharmacist. 

I had selected 2 fancy frozen dinners (Asian) and took them to the self checkout. 

I looked up and the trenchcoat guy was in the normal line a few lines away from me. How is this so coordinated, that even though I stalled, he was checking out when I was?

I panicked. I knew that it was dark out, I wasn't sure where I'd parked, and my husband was sitting in the car. I didn't know what to do. 

Then it hit me that I could just ask for help. 

After I'd checked out, I asked the self-checkout dude if I could talk to him. I said, "I think I'm being followed but I'm not sure. Please tell me, if you look over my shoulder, is there a man in a beige trenchcoat standing behind me?" 

The dude said, "Yes, there is." 

I said, "Can you please call for an escort to help me to my car" 

Absolutely. 

And the employees were on it. They were fast and coordinated and suddenly I had 3 employees around me asking how they could help. I said, "Just get me to my car please." 

I felt so protected, and then......not so much.

They assigned a teenaged boy to escort me. 

He was very polite, and asked if he could help carry my one sack of two frozen dinners. No, I can. 

I said, "I'm driving a white Corolla." The little guy doesn't know his cars so we spent a while looking around.

I remember getting to my car in the very dark parking lot, the boy standing next to me as I opened the back door and put the sack in the car. 

I remember as soon as I put the food in the car, the boy said, "Good night" and turned to leave me. 

I looked up and at the front of my car, was the trenchcoat guy. 

I was literally standing alone with him, my escort gone, my husband half asleep in the passenger seat. 

The trenchcoat guy was leaning on an old jeep parked in front of my car, kitty corner. 

Just leaning there. Facing my car.

I jumped in my car and .....it was a rental car.

I had no idea how to lock the doors by feel in the dark, nor would I in my own car, actually, if I was in a panic. 

I turned on the car and raced out of the parkinglot as if my life depended on it. I've never used a car as an escape tool before. 

My husband said, "What?"  I said only, "We have to go. We have to go." I couldn't talk.

It's the closest thing that comes to a movie in my life, the way I exited that Safeway parking lot. 

I'll never know what that was all about.

 

Sunday, June 26, 2022

A bit about St Louis

We spent 6 months in America the last year. Lots of blogging to do. Then we went to Austria (my first time) last week, and we're going to a whole new continent next month. 

First, after 10 years of my suffering in silence, my husband finally cut off his hair. (I cannot help thinking about Leonard's reaction to Sheldon saying, "In SILENCE? You suffered in SILENCE!?") But I did good. Long ago I learned that asking him to cut his hair only made him want it more. He loved his long hair so much, I gave up and was happy that he wore it in a bun for 10 years. 

The other day was the open house for his high school for new kids, and J will be a home-room teacher for some of them. That morning before he went to the open house, I said to him, "After your sabattical, I really thought today would be the day you'd cut your hair, if ever." (Said with a sad sigh)

He'd made the appointment weeks ago, and I wish I'd kept my mouth shut, but it must have been strange for him to have me say that. 

He came home with short hair. He looks like the man I married in 2008. (If I could do something so easy to make me look like 2008-me again.....). He's got Edward Cullen hair. Which is funny cuz he met Edward Cullen last week in Austria at the wax museum. 

His hair is cut so professionally, he wakes up in the morning with perfect chaotic jagged-cut wisps going every which way, and perfect curls above his eyes, it looks like professional styling. He has said a few times, "Stop staring at me!" : ) In a couple of weeks he'll go from Edward Cullen to Hugh Grant, and I'll learn what I prefer.

10 years of this hair: 

J on our first day in Illinois. That tower behind him must be a tornado siren. 

This week:
 

***

St Louis, MO. The show-me state! J's 19th state? 

We had such a wonderful time, but not cuz of the city, not cuz of the state, but because of the people. J has a relative living there, Helga, and we got to stay with her a few days. And my favorite cousin, Mark, lives there too. Both Mark and Helga live in rather rough neighborhoods (but only Mark's house has bullet holes). But Mark and Helga hit it off, which made it easy for Mark to say yes to her family dinner invite. 

Mark and I spent our youth together living on the same street in South Park, Seattle, and riding bikes together and he was my hero cuz he beat up his sister who was mean to me our entire childhood. 

It was so cool, when I called him, he saw the Seattle area code and answered, "Aunt Kathy?" thinking it was my mom. I said, "No, it's her daughter, your cousin. We're going to be in St. Louis in 2 days and want to see you." He was overwhelmed, he never gets visitors, and we are truly the ones who came the furthest, if you count the flight over Canada. He took the week off work! 

So what do you guys eat there, tell me something special to your city. 

Toasted raviolis. WTH?

He showed up in his muscle car and took us out to a local Toasted Ravioli House (!?) and I had the most divine eating experience. Toasted raviolis were created by accident in St. Louis when a ravioli fell in the deep fryer. 

I have since tried, twice, to make them myself. Total fails. You need really, really good meat-filled large raviolis. Chef Boy Ardee won't cut it. German Chef Boy Ardee also, no luck. 

Here are some pics of my first and only authentic St. Louis food experience:






Here's us at the big city park, which has a metal tree. 

Helga and Mark, our tour guides, collaborating.


Looks like Germany. This is St. Louis himself (King Louis of France). Mark said that the sword he is holding often gets turned upside down as a joke.


We were hugging this stainless steel tree, Mark and me, like tourists.

I like how the public garbage uses the term "Landfill" to make it clear where your trash is ending up.

Then there's the arch, which is a national park, and included a security check to get into. We didn't go up, you needed tickets 3 days in advance, but we got to go into the museum underneath it and step into a live-cam simulator that makes you feel like you are up there. The people of this city have good right to be proud of this thing, it's gorgeous.





Helga made traditional German breakfast for us each morning, which was very strange to experience in America. More strange than that was the fact we were all speaking German. I kept looking at the electrical outlets in the room, to confirm we were in fact in America. It was surreal. I've never had Germany inside another country before. 

On our final day she made a feast and invited her kids and grandkids, some of whom speak German. I asked that we say the Lord's Prayer in German, and J had to lead cuz they didn't know it very well. 

I'd never been around kids who weren't on their phones constantly, so it was special. I had prepared a list of game show questions to play with the kids at the table if the conversation was too boring for them. The kids LOVED it. And funnily, their mother said, "Oh, I LOVE Family Feud!" (some of my questions were from that, most of mine were just random trivia.) 


There were actual Cardinals outside the windows, singing loudly. I'd never seen a Cardinal before.

German breakfast. Helga drew little designs on the hard-boiled eggs cuz it was Eastertime.

We wanted to see The Confluence, and we did, but this is enough for one blog post.


Monday, June 6, 2022

Home in Normandy Park, WA

My mom still lives in Normandy Park, Washington. It is indeed a park, the entire area borders  Puget Sound, with little creeks and cliffs between houses and salt water. We spent hours geocaching between my mom's house and the water, and the beach can go out so far you have crunching animals under your feet for hundreds of meters. 

J wanted to go to Marine View Park. I said no. No, no, no, I've been there as a teenager, I'd been there older, I'd been there old enough to know I never want to go there again.

"But there's a geocache."

U-huh. 

I told him with explicit language how miserable we'd be if we took that hike down that cliff to the water.  

Indeed, at the top of the cliff, was a warning:

What trails have you been on with such a warning? 

We did it anyway. I made it almost all the way down, but since I'd done it before, I turned back and trudged my way back up the hill.

I had to stop every so often to catch my breath. 

Near the top there was a lady who contemplated going down. I said, "No."

"Unless you are one of those people who pay money to work out, you will not enjoy this. This is awful, to be avoided."

She still thought about it but eventually turned around based on our misery.

A wise choice.

Here is a link to yelp.

Don't be tempted by the views - Seattle has those everywhere: )




Wednesday, June 1, 2022

What are these things?

We saw these things everywhere between Missouri and Tennessee and they were usually alongside large stainless steel silos. Obviously agricultural, but what exactly? There is nothing like this in Washington state. I know, I've seen all of Washington state by now *lol* 


 

Also, I love those perfect green circles the rotating irrigators make near Ellensburg, WA. so practical, and perfect when viewed with Google Earth. It took me a while driving on I-90 to realize those were rotating things, cuz from the highway you cannot really see how they work, how they move. But Google Earth tells the story from above:

Well done, Washington, taking that arid land and connecting it with that river and making food for animals and people. 

Where I live now, no one moves water. Hay, corn, rapeseed, rye, wheat, all grows from the rain. I just love driving through my home state and seeing the ingenuity with my own eyes. 

The hayfield across the street from us had its first cutting in the beginning of MAY if you can believe it, and is now ready for a second. What a blessing. We have a hay barn full of hay from last year and we need to sell it cuz we need room for this year's hay. We've never had that problem before, what a nice problem to have.

Also, Washington, best horse sculpture ever:


Thursday, May 26, 2022

Live every day with Mitgefuehl

My horse and donkey do not know they lost their second best friend last Wednesday. While we were in America, my friend Michi and her husband Gregor came to hang out with my animals regularly. Every 2 weeks or so, and they sent me photos via WhatsApp of their visits here. I'm so grateful for those photos now.

Because Gregor died last Wednesday and Michi is without consolation. 

Michi and Gregor used to come to our place every couple months just to lavish our animals with sacks full of dried bread and rolls, and brush them, and then we'd all go on a "Family walk" and J would come along so that Gregor didn't have to listen to us girls talk about horses without end. 

Sept 2021. Gregor was always so fit, he'd just plop down on the sidewalk or driveway, unlike me who likes to have a bench or chair at hand. 

Gregor loved fishing and I'm so happy his last month alive he was out on a motorboat fishing up whatever crummy fish Germany has to offer. I always regaled him with stories of the seafood I had in America, things he'd never had such as Lobster and King Crab. And grilled Oysters and Clams and Shrimp as large as a baby's arm. 

I know he had a great time fishing the North Sea, and the time is more important than the type of seafood you claim.


 Gregor's last fishing trip, a week before he died. I'm happy to see he had a boat that looks like it doesn't leak, unlike my uncle's boat in Seattle that gave me the best day of 2021 in - bobbing around the Seattle downtown waterfront, overcoming waves from the ferries, drinking wine to not be overcome with terror.: )

I'm so sad to lose him, he was one of the most gentle people I'd ever met. Vulkan-like in expression, quiet, subtle. He was always so happy to be here, like it was a getaway.

This is the last photo I have of him, with Mag. Michi sent me so many photos of their visits to our home over the year, but I didn't have his face in most of them. BTW as most horses, Mag hates to have is face touched. But apparently Gregor was the exception. If I were to walk out there right now and try to rub Mag's jawline, he'd walk away from me.
 

***

Christmas 2020 I made us an outdoor picnic, in freezing weather (I wouldn't let anyone in our home, Corona) I gave them two typical German traditional Christmas indulgences they'd never had before: Roasted chestnuts and Gluehwein (mulled wine) served from my very fancy Japanese teapot out of tiny Japanese cups. It was if we were at a German Christmas market. Why I had to show German stuff to actual Germans is a mystery to me: )









  

He suffered a heart attack a week ago Wednesday and was put into a coma for 5 days before succumbing. I spoke with Michi on the phone several times throughout that period and I am certain that watching a loved one in a coma is way worse than them suddenly dying. 

I have these  few pictures to share that they sent me of their visits to our home while we were in America. How thankful I am to have them. I was saying Hi from Hawaii ,and they were soaking up the simple quiet of our farm.

It can happen to anyone, anytime. I'm so happy she said on their last night together, that she kissed him goodnight. 


Gregor was the one who faciitated this image - he held Mag back at the other end of the property, and then released him when we called to him. Mag was running between Gregor and Michi and I as she took the photo. And on some close shots he'd return to Gregor, "Again?"

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Homecoming

We arrived home and it doesn't feel like home, it's surreal in a deep jet lagged dream. Such as the white horse and donkey - flowers everywhere, quiet and weird. 

GOT TO SLEEP soon. It is 9 AM for me Seattle time, with a flight starting at 2 PM with no sleep over night, and it's 6 PM German time, which is irrelvant to me except for the annoying position of the sun. 

I hope that tomorrow this place will feel like home and not a dream.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Something I'd never fully conceptualized in Mayfield, Kentucky, preview

There is a large spray-painted X on the front door: (