Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Merry Holiday

Not too much to say, other than 2006 is nearly done-for.

It's been interesting and many, many episodes of it all I hope will not be repeated.

I'd better go find my shades, because the future is brightening all the time.

Here are a few of the pictures of what 2006 was really about for me.

The Fouryearold's Letter To Santa

Dear Santa,
How are you today?
I'm going to Grandma Kay's house for Christmas.
Please look for me there.
My brother Charlie would like blocks.
Please bring cat toys for my cats.
My dog Chester would like a shaky ball with nuts in it.
Thank you, Santa.
Augusta Ruth Larsen

Friday, December 08, 2006

Big Mack

He's big.

He's the texture of a bunny.

His borders are a bit blurred.

He has a penchant for licking... my nose, just as I'm trying to fall asleep.

He's one of three Mac(k)s in the house since the arrival of a new laptop last week.

He rarely misses a meal. Never misses if it's ice cream or cereal. Or chicken.

He spends his day on my pillow while I spend the night sneezing and itching.

He sends the Psychopoodle into fits, pummeling him regularly with his declawed boxing gloves.

He came from our local shelter seven years ago and our house hasn't been the same since.

He's named for a macchiato, which is truly a cup of espresso with a mark of foam, though he'd prefer the caramel.

He is a lapful.

He's probably the strangest cat I've ever met. At least until I get another cat.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Think on This

Support World AIDS Day

This disease crosses all economic, gender, social, religious and age barriers that might have been set in our worlds.

It won't go away on its own.

Today is the day that those not living with the disease can reflect and help.

For those living with the disease, TODAY is the day to come before a day that a cure might be found.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Names our children avoided by not being named after family pets:

Fruff Biscuit
Camper Van Beethoven
Miss Rose
Napoleon & Josephine (that is what the fouryearold has called the owls that are living in our trees, with a little help from Grandma)

Now, don't you think our children should be grateful they were only saddled with Beppina and Chuckles?

Friday, November 17, 2006

A Funeral On A Friday

Charlie and Augusta At The Park, Autumn 2006

Originally uploaded by Scott & Justine fromWyo.
I went to a funeral today.

Huge, so many people there to say goodbye to a wonderful woman who fought an epic battle against cancer, only to pass on at the young age of 51.

She, too, had a daughter and son, now grown.

I don't want to think about the pain of leaving them behind.

I sat throughout the service thinking of my two. I know, everyday, how lucky I am to have them. They are the everything I've waited my whole life for and I hope we can have all the time in the world together.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Cakes for Kids

Today was a little, last-minute bake sale to benefit the fouryearold's HeadStart program. Lots of cakes made in the kitchen, many donations from parents and friends and $196 raised. More to come, I think.

Friday, November 03, 2006

That Was A First

I spent all day cooking. Again. Made pear sauce yesterday and canned it, suffering with a sore wrist from all the pear-peeling the rest of the night. Today I baked chicken for lunch and made chicken soup for the sick fouryearold, who'd missed preschool this morning. I took some beef ribs out of the deep freeze and marinated them in a Thai ginger garlic soy concoction all afternoon. Stuck those in the oven to roast about 4, steamed a pot of Cal-Rose rice, and got ready to sit down for a well-earned supper.

The fouryearold comes to the table, after jumping around on the furniture with her little Bam Bam of a brother. She hadn't been seated a minute when, ka-plooey, she barfs. Right at the table. Thankfully, she missed the plates and the ribs.

"...well, THAT was a first," says the too-tired-to-be-annoyed mother. Ick.

Here's a picture of the ribs and rice, for anyone not too grossed out to look.

Oh, and after cleaning her up, giving her some rice, and attempting to resume a Friday night supper, the fouryearold went back to jumping on the furniture. Sheesh. Raised by mountain gorillas.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Things To Remember When Applying For A Job

A post and response from Radio Paradise:

I was asked what I do...

JustineFromWyoming wrote:
Change diapers (size 7 and below)
Cook dinners (lunches, too. Breakfasts that involve CAKE!)
Read online editions of Salon, NYTimes, LATimes, HuffPost
Take too many pictures of my kids and cats and food that I cook
Take my blue-lipped daughter to the ER in the middle of a Saturday night.
Balance a chequebook, but only under duress
Blog when I'm especially uninteresting
Verbally abuse the psychopoodle, at least once a day
Swear to avoid punctuation on most days
Fret over an upcoming phone interview

Is there a career test or job posting matching the above abilities? Dang, blew the oath against punctuation!!

And the reply, from Zep:
Change diapers: Clean up messes by subordinates.
Cook dinners: Entertain potential clients.
Read online editions of newspapers: Research competition, keep skills current.
Take too many pictures: Excellent documentation skills.
Take daughter to ER: Responds quickly to urgent crises 24x7.
Balance a checkbook: Accounting and financial skills.
Blog: Documentation, corporate communications.
Verbal abuse: Managerial talent in the making!
Swearing and oaths: Pledges of fealty to company missions.
Fret over interviews: Careful attention to detail, presentation, appearance.

Damn shame companies don't hire more MOMS.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Curcurbita Pepo La Reina No Mas

I didn't think I could do it. I was again full of self-doubt. Another year, another trip to the greenhouse, another patch of weeds where I'd envisioned a five by five foot cornucopia of edibles. Never had I been successful with zucchini. I was beginning to feel I was the only person in rural America that was unable to overwhelm her own yard with the devilish Italian Curcurbita Pepo. Of the three zucchini plants I stuck in the ground in May, it appears only one survived. A summer of neglect, capped by my absence for the month of August, obviously bolstered the lone ranger squash. Tonight, after I took out the trash to the alley, I decided to take a last look at the leafy green plant coexisiting with the gigantic dandelions, crab grass and milkweeds.

There it was, snarling at me. Daring me to pick it. I had to slap the snot out of a slug that was moving in on it, but the matured specimen was mine, all mine.

Was it supposed to be green?

Monday, September 11, 2006

THEY Didn't Win

I woke that morning to NPR reporting a small plane had hit the World Trade Center.

I went out to the living room, turned on NBC. Called to California to tell my mom what I was seeing. I saw the same thing as Katie Couric as the plane hit the second tower, seeing it at the same instant in different parts of the country. I called Scott at the coffeeshop, where he'd gone at 6:30 am to open up for the morning. Like Manhattan, we were having a glorious Autumn morning; clear and crisp skies.

Scott went to his office after I arrived at the shop. I had a frantic customer come in after we heard the Pentagon had been hit. Her son was there and he wasn't answering his phone. I'd had no down time for the web, so I sent an email for her to his Yahoo account. "Michael, CALL YOUR MOTHER AS SOON AS YOU GET THIS".

I started sweeping, cleaning. Hardly anyone came into the shop. I was overcome by the isolation I was feeling without any of my regular customers. NPR was had to hear due to the acoustics in the shop; the high ceilings and hardwood floor. I kept walking outside, looking at the skies.

I can't remember who came in for the afternoon shift. I was zombied by then. I went home, again turned on the news. Scott came home and I just burst into sobs. Not so much because of all that had happened but in relief that I wasn't alone anymore.

I did say, and I do remember this clearly "maybe we shouldn't have children. We wouldn't want to bring them into something like this."

Scott said, "Then THEY have won."

I still don't know who THEY are. Whoever THEY might have been, I don't want them around. Whatever the ideology, the motivation, the justification, it was wrong. Even more wrongs have been done in the name of justice; vengence following the events of five years ago. I don't know what the truth is about what transpired and I probably never will.

All I do know is that I became pregnant, whether I'd been of a mind to or not. Augusta was born, prematurely, during the week of all the post September 11 babies arriving. She is part of the small baby boom that comes from a nation of individuals tired of watching the video of the crumbling towers, the talking heads pointing fingers, the grainy video tapes of doom-happy men getting on flights with box cutters. "Armageddon Sex" is what a friend of mine that had been living in NYC called it and she said an awful lot of it had been going around in the weeks following September 11. It happened here, too.

Whoever THEY are, or were, lost. WE, those that made love and created new people, now have children that can still live their youngs lives not knowing what transpired just before their conception. These new people have started preschool. They will one day ask about why this anniversary is marked yearly and WE can all squash down the agony of seeing the buildings burn and fall, the bodies take flight from the upper, unsavable floors, and turn our love, faith and energy to continually loving these children. It is my child that will be part of the new THEY that will mature understanding her world and other cultures, struggling to make PEACE the norm and not a by-product.

I am grateful for a chance to remember this catastrophic day and know that I can, every day, work to raise children that might broker understanding with others so that no one else will have to suffer the losses that the families left behind five years ago have suffered. I am happy to hold my future close to me every day. I want to see the politicizing of the events of September 11 stop. I am very fortunate that I do not personally know anyone who perished that day. My friends that were in New York City, near the World Trade Center, were safe. My connection to September 11 is only about how I was affected and it is that information that I will impart to my children when the question about it comes. No mention of politics, blame, or who is or isn't patriotic. Sincerity and truthfulness is all that will matter.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

And, Away She Goes...

This is it.

This is the picture that shows me my future.

Off, into the big, big world goes my little girl.

All of this is new this summer. Actually, it is new this week. Augusta was given this tricycle for her second birthday by her beloved and loving Mamma and Papa. She's figured it out now. She is a four year old in control of her immediate world.

So, off she goes. Brave as ever, not needing Mommie so much, about to turn a corner.

Now, if she could just figure out how to turn that dog into a decent sled dog.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Sunset In The Kiddie Pool

What comes around....
7-9-06kiddiepool3small...goes around

Chutney Saturday Night

Originally uploaded by Scott & Justine fromWyo.
A long, cooking-filled day preceded this picture I took of myself on the couch Saturday night.

Raspberry chutney, peanut butter and marshmallow brownies, and a delicious fruit salad from a recipe sent from France.

Long day. But sweet, spicy and fruitful.

Monday, July 03, 2006

A Little Cat With Big Teeth

This goes back a ways, to February 25, 2006.

I thought this particular weekend was going far better than last. I'd talked with my doc, started a prescription to work on the postpartum depression that had been diagnosed. Augusta battled a bug valiantly, returning to preschool Thursday on an antibiotic. Charlie was seen by his pediatrician for his one-year check. Aside from the scuff on his head where he went off the bed in the dark of 5 a.m., he checked out nicely and weighed in at 22 pounds. As for the growth charts, he's twenty-fifth percentile for weight, tenth for height. I just don't grow'em big. Augusta FINALLY got on the charts at 18 months at the fifth percentile. Charlie's about to start his molars, so that and some minor cold symptoms made him a little cranky on Friday and Saturday. All in all, things were manageable and I went about my Saturday; laundry, paid a couple bills and then off to the grocery store after Scott made some delicious blueberry pancakes, eggs and bacon for brunch.

Just after I returned from the market, as I was putting the groceries away while talking to Scott in the kitchen, I heard a loud, repeated thumping. "What the devil is that?" Scott looked around the end of the cabinets and saw an orange cat tail on the other side of the wall. He said it was just Dinger being molested by Chester, the usual cat-dog circus. Then Charlie, who'd been playing near the rocking chair, began to scream. Thumping continued. Scott went around the corner to find Dinger, our sweet, playful three year-old cat caught on a hook/ damper control from the old gravity floor funace. Charlie was trying to get over to the mess, toys in the way, dog gone and Scott trying to unlatch Dinger's collar. He was twisted so tight we couldn't get the collar undone. Dinger whirled around and bit and bit and bit, eyes dilated, mouth and tongue going blue. I got free of his mouth, got the kitchen shears and threw a towel over him. Scott cut him free, but Dinger had gone limp. I carried him to the laundry room, this 13 pound baby of ours, as Augusta followed me crying, wanting to hold her cat. Dinger's eyes were open, pupils still dilated, but I just cradled him, petting him, and bled on him as he slowly came back. It was as though he was reinflated. Scott was trying to dial the vet, but as Dinger came around, he put the phone down. I'd had to sit on the floor I was shaking so badly. Dinger peed all over the floor, but stayed upright. He tried to jump over the baby gate, but was too wobbly. We opened it, and he headed for our bedroom, diving under the bed where the terrrible, responsible humans couldn't make another attempt on his life. Chester, during this whole ordeal, hid behind the recliner, almost as though he knew his buddy was a goner.

Scott told me he'd take me to the hospital, but Augusta and Charlie were both crying near hysteria by this point, so I told him to stay. I hadn't even looked at my hands, just wrapped them in the towel I'd had around Dinger, and got in the car. I got about a block away and nearly blacked out behind the wheel. I saw a friend walking west on Avenue E and I pulled over. "Kim, could you drive me the rest of the way to the hospital. I'm getting light headed. My cat nearly strangled himself. He bit me." No questions, she just came to the driver's side and got in.

I walked into the ER and said something along the lines of "my cat bit me...." and they didn't even pause, but took me right into an exam room. Big basin of iodine solution. I was ready for it to really, really hurt, but I didn't feel it due to all the throbbing in my hands, especially my left. There were 8 punctures in my left thumb, 4 claw punctures on my right hand, scratches on my forearms. I just sat and cried. And cried. And cried. Dr. Orbin, the ER doc asked when I'd had my last tetanus shot. "Four years ago. You gave it to me. That was just days before I conceived Augusta. You were the last step in the fertility treatment." A couple months after I'd had the pregnancy-avoiding fibroid tumors removed in June of 2001, I had this bad split in my left index finger that I couldn't get healed up. It started to hurt up in the bone of my finger, traveling up my hand. I couldn't get into the clinic, it was a Thursday afternoon and one of my employees said "you should really get that looked at." So I went, that time, to the ER and Dr. Orbin was on call. He looked at that split and said "When was your last tetanus shot?" When I only sputtered in reply he ordered one. Left arm. Ouch. Hurt for days. I had that shot and a prescription of Keflex and got preggo that weekend. I still think that was the winning combination for fertility treatment. I guess the surgery helped, too. I reminded him of all that and he said he thought he remembered that story. I don't know what Dr. Orbin makes of me. I've been in the ER to see him for a bad hand burn on my right hand from a thermonuclear potato casserole on Thanksgiving weekend three years ago, a fall two years ago on my way to a funeral where I thought I'd broken my ankle, raging mastitis last year, and now this cat bite. I'm sure he thinks I'm terribly clumsy and danger-prone. He is a really good doctor, though.

So, in case anyone every asks, cat bites are painful. I'm was prescribed vicodin, 500 mg amoxicillin three times a day, and I'm to go back in to be checked on Monday. High rate of infection in cat bites and these are deep and can't be irrigated. I'm still bleeding a little and the throbbing is pretty continual. I laid in bed with a bag of frozen peas on my thumb most of the night. And, this time I had the tetanus shot in my right arm. It still hurts. Did I mention that I'm left handed?

As for Dinger, I think he's going to be okay. I talked to the vet while I was at the hospital. He said as long as he's eating and drinking, he should be fine. It took a lot of kitty treats, which we affectionately call 'kitty crack' to coax him out from under the bed. Scott was able to pet him within a couple of hours, but Dinger would dive under the bed as soon as he saw me. He's a very social soul, so he could only take his isolation for so long before he was sitting on the bed, then at the end of the hall, then by the entry to the living room. Back to the laundry room. Before long he was back on his barstool in the kitchen. Finally, about 9 last night, he let me pet him. He and Mack slept on Scott's feet all night and by this morning he was up at the head of our bed, doing his usual cha cha cha across our faces. Scott usually gets a dose of cat ass in his face every morning from this orange furry bowling ball. Charlie and Augusta were up a lot during the night, so Scott is exhausted. I haven't tried to change a diaper with my bum hand yet, but Scott goes back to work tomorrow so I hope some of the pain will subside by then. Did I mention cat bites, especially from sweetest of our three cats, really reALLY REALLY hurt. Time for the frozen bag of peas again.

I am so grateful we were home. Even though I'm sorry that Augusta and Charlie witnessed this horrible scene, coming home to a strangled cat would have been far worse.

I sure hope next weekend is far better than the last two. And, yes, the cats will no longer be wearing collars.
March 2, 2006
Another Day, Another Antibiotic

I'm still trying to deal with the cat bite from Dinger that happened Saturday, February 25. I've been to the ER three times, I've seen three different doctors, been prescribed three different antibiotics and last night had to have blood work and x-rays. I had to start i.v. antibiotics last night and at 6 am today, back again at 2 pm. I was sent over to see the orthopedic surgeon in Cody this morning while Augusta was at preschool. He saw me in the Cody ER between surgeries. He said that it's one of the worst bites he's seen in a number of years, but the infection looked better than he expected it to look. It is probably staph and another bacteria that I can't remember the name of. Anyway, 4 more days of i.v.s at the hospital every 8 hours. Sleeping with the i.v. port in my right hand while my left thumb is all bit up and sore is the pits. I took two vicodin when I got in from the hospital last night, after being there 4 hours, and still hardly slept. The nurse stuck me twice while trying to get the i.v. started and said "you have tough skin!" Great. I'll be sure to put that on my next resume.

As for the postpartum depression, I've been on Lexapro for a week now. I see Dr. Ezell on March 9. I probably will need to be on the medication at least 6 weeks, maybe a little longer. I don't know that I remember having symptoms after Augusta, but Scott says he's seen some similarities this time to last time post baby. From what I've read about it, there were a lot of triggers and stresses that I wasn't paying attention to this time. It's hard to know if things are smoothing out, considering the annoyance of my hand. I was pretty upset last night, thinking about what all the doctoring is going to do and and the fight I'm almost guaranteed to have with our medical insurance. Guess I'll be closer to deductible and Dr. E and I can again talk about my pending hysterectomy. What does one say about that? Yippee? And yank it out, thanks.

Anyway, I'm sure it will be fine. I don't think I was ever going to hurt anyone, except maybe Chester, but I think dealing with it now rather than later was a good thing. Chances are, I'll still want to kill Chester whether I'm on antidepressants or not. He's such a twit, no jury would convict me... maybe the dog needs some drugs?
March 4, 2006
Is The Third I.V. The Charm

It has been one week tonight since getting back from the ER with our cat's bites on my hands.

I would really like to have this week back.

In the last four days, and I am not exaggerating, I have been stuck 7 times for i.v.s and I am now on my third i.v.-thingy that has been left in for my every 8 hours dose of Anceph (sp?). Night before last was 4 sticks in the attempt to move the i.v. from my right arm to my left, where the majority of the bite are located. I went in this afternoon and when the flush was done, I continued to wince; the stinging didn't let up. The nurse said, "oh, that's no good. We have to move the i.v." Ugh. I'd eaten not too long before I was there at 2 pm and I thought I was going to barf up lunch. Also, she had concerns about how the barrier had been put over the port-thingy, so that was mostly what she wanted to re-do. She brought in a new bit of i.v. dressing, stuck me only one time, didn't use a tourniquet but a blood pressure cuff and had it done lickety-split. I had called Scott to tell him my plan of taking the threeyearold to the Curious George matinee was off because the time before when the i.v. was moved, the half hour treatment went more than an hour. After the new i.v. location was put in, I called back and said "I guess we can go to the movie. I finally got a nurse that knows what the hell she's doing." Man, can I get a bad attitude going!

I went home, picked up the girl and we went off to the movie. She made it through the whole movie with a big tub of popcorn and only one trip to the loo. I made dinner, did dishes and the only pain I'm having, other than the sore thumb, is where the earlier i.v. was, kinda puffy and tender.

I have NO IDEA what this is all going to cost. I told Scott we should just sign the cat over to the hospital or change his name from Dinger to "Deductible". Scott suggested we just slap a first class stamp on his furry, striped ass and mail him to the hospital.

Kids, dogs and babies. They can really run up some holy bills. And then there are the cats...
March 6, 2006
Happy About Monday

I am, for once, glad that it is Monday.

I finished the fourth day of i.v. antibiotic late last night, but had to spend one more night with the "port" or whatever the actual name for it is, still in my arm. Scott, bless his heart, nudged me before 6 am and said "it's time for you to go..." He didn't realize I didn't have to go back to the hospital this morning. He was at work early, Charlie put out his "get me out of my crib" call and the morning began in earnest. My thumb was smarting again and I began to worry, noticing some blotchiness around the tendon.

I got to my appointment in Cody, both kiddies in tow, with the orthopedic surgeon for follow-up with his physician's assistant. She prescribed Keflex for the soft tissue, just in case the infection is firing back up again. She and I both had to work to get the i.v. port/clip out of my arm. The hospital had told me it was new piece of equipment and that the adhesive would take some soaking of alcohol pads to loosen it. More like half a bottle and I still have some gumminess on my skin. Should have used Ronsol. That will take adhesive of anything! I am to be seen again in a week, to call if anything looks fishy. I hope that by its achiness that the thumb is healing. I hope. I hope. I hope.

Charlie, bless his toddling little round head, smacked into a footstool at the doctor's office, so in addition to feeling rather warm (maybe molar teething, maybe the crud Augusta and Scott both had over the last couple of weeks) he has a new knot on his head for his collection. Right now he's entertaining himself by pushing his binky through the cat door. Hours of entertainment there, until he realizes he's sans bink.

After a Happy Meal from the drive-thru, we're home on a pretty nearly-Spring day to watch "Lady & The Tramp" and think about naps. Yikes, it's three o'clock. Kinda screwed on the naps thing. Oh, well, there is always tomorrow.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

After They're Gone

Why do we have to wait for an obituary to get the full picture of a person?

This last month I have read the obituaries for two stellar individuals. These two men were those I considered friends and were devoted friends to each other. I became acquainted with both in my former career at Parlor News Coffeehouse and grew to enjoy their regular visits to the shop; their wit, fine conversation and talent always brightened my work day. Both were private individuals, one in his retirement and one in the midst of his professional career. But, as I became friendly with them, I knew them mostly as two gentlemen who shared a love for music. They obligingly shared their love of music in the company of those who would come to the coffeeshop on Friday afternoons for guitar and mandolin strumming in the back corner, singing well-known tunes that would have all around them tapping and humming along.

As I read the accounts of their lives in our local paper – their professional achievements, their plans for the future, the families to whom they were devoted, I realized I had only seen a couple of chapters in the books that were their lives. These two men had seen much of the world and made Powell their home both professionally and personally. Both continued on a lifelong quest for education and exemplified an ethical precision and contribution to society that was outstanding. Two nicer, more approachable fellows could not be found.

Of course, I am writing about Warren Smith, a retired agronomist, and Doug Nelson, a recently honored outstanding professor of Northwest College and Fulbright Fellow. Both of these men were fantastic individuals who added considerably to our small community. Doug was a fixture at the coffeeshop, but never without a stack of papers to grade. Each paper received his undivided attention but he was always available for a pleasant conversation. It is strange to think I saw Doug, and Warren, more than I see my own relatives. I think it was because of that I grew to consider them extensions of my own family. Doug was doting with my children, I shared meals with him and his wonderful companion, Yasu, at their home, and I enjoyed his Friday afternoon music meetings with friends. We visited about politics, life in Wyoming, visits to California, our pets, and his upcoming return to Israel with students.

To speak of Doug and Warren in the past tense is painful. One lost due to illness, one gone suddenly and unexpectedly in a far off country makes it difficult to reconcile that their passing could be so close together. I don’t know when I’ll stop expecting to see Doug’s vintage truck at the coffeeshop. The plunking of strings will continue to be expected on a Friday afternoon. I try to overcome the sadness with knowing Doug was in Israel, with students, about to play basketball – all things to which he was devoted. My condolences go to the families of Warren and Doug, as well as the faculty and students at Northwest College, to those students he would have taught in his future, and to my friend Yasu.

There were other things that I could have written but as I washed some windows today, on a bright and warm Wyoming afternoon, all I could think of is how little we know of our family, our colleagues, our friends. My hope is that we all won’t have to wait to read an obituary to tell someone we care about what a fine person they are, how appreciative we are of their contributions to our lives, and what joy they have brought us. So often the happy news of the world gets overlooked and the focus goes to the sadness. I know that it will be with joy that I think of Doug and Warren and the talented and human lives they lived amongst us. My hope is that they are enjoying each other’s company now and they will always know how much they will be missed.

Summer Has Truly Begun

I began the day by picking.

Raspberry, raspberry, RASPBERRIES!

This, the summer of 2006, is monumental in the amazing raspberry season that is underway. Past years, I've been lucky to pick a few red raspberries out of the backyard patch by the Fourth of July. I'm in week three of daily harvests of more than a cup. And they are luscious this year; thumb sized, firm yet juicy, and sweet sweet sweet. All that I've done to them this year is water. That, though, may be a wee bit tricky the next few days. The well's pump froze a few days back and the resurrection of the machine is underway, and thankfully not by me. They are certainly organic berries. I haven't even see the cats sneaking around to leave their deposits around the canes, dastardly felines that they are.

But, today, was the true sign of the bountiful harvest. JAM. Jars of deeply-colored raspberry jam with my badly scrawled handwriting on the well-sealed top. This might be the year to enter a jar in the Park County Fair.

I don't remember much of my grandmother's house in Sioux City, Iowa, but I had a rapid trip back there today. As I cooked the raspberries with all that white white white sugar as chicken baked in the oven of my humid, overheated kitchen, it reminded me of my grandmother's house; that very combination of smells with the heaviness of the air. A thunderstorm was rolling over from the west and I could have been in the house my mother was born on Rebecca Street.

As I feel the discomfort of the fine scratches on my arms from the berry picking out back, I think back to the thickness of Junes when we'd visit Iowa from our home in California. My retired grandfather would leave the house early in the morning, in boots and coveralls, to prowl the wild raspberries along the banks of the Missouri. He'd return, sunburned and exhausted, covered in these very scratches, as though he'd run into the wrong side of a pack of wild cats. I guess jam making is genetic.