Friday, May 28, 2010

Daddy's Home

He's tired.  He's dragging.  He's slept all day.  He's been living in a tent camp in Virginia with his US Navy Reserve Unit for the past 2 weeks. 

But he's home.  Sleepy.  But home

Luckily his girls aren't too high maintenance.

Thank you, Jason, for working so very hard for us - your family and your country.  You help make so many blessings and dreams possible, not only for me, but for our great country.  I love you so.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tests, Blood, and Vampire Eyes

My quickly-numbing eyeballs were growing blurry.  I knew my niece Isabella watched me with her somber, perceptive gaze, so I did my best to grin and bear it, even cracking the occasional joke.  She didn't laugh. She doesn't find me funny.

We - me, my sis-in-law Anne, niece Isabella and nephew Lincoln - were sitting in the optometrist's office waiting for my pupils to dilate to that weird, unnatural state that seems to get eye doctors all so giddy.  Tests from my previous eye appointment had dictated this one; pressure in my eyes was showing too high, a possible forerunner of glaucoma.  So I was ushered in for another round of tests.  Not something I'd really ever WANT to do, but especially now.  House on the market.  Husband away for two weeks.  Difficult past year under our belts.  Yada yada yada.

So I sat and laughed with Anne as we rounded all the topics two women touch on when they're parked in a doctor's office waiting room and working hard to distract each other.

Finally, when I could no longer focus (literally) on the book Isabella was holding or on my drooly 9-month-old nephew lolling on the floor, the nurse called me back.  I underwent the tests with what I hoped was saint-like joy and endurance so my niece would be inspired ("I remember waaay back when Auntie Jessica was in that eye doctor's office...").

And then we were done.  Of course, I'm skipping over all the really fun details - like the gallons of extra drops (of whatever they happened to find lying around in random droppers) into my poor eyes, like the things I had to squint at and look past and NOT BLINK, NOT EVEN ONCE for.  Yeah, after all that -we were done.  And the doctor came in.  

Dr. Jonathan Berry is one of those really great doctors who comes in, exchanges the necessary pleasantries quickly, and then gets right down to business.  So, y'know, you're not left waiting.  Wondering.  Guessing at the rate his eyebrows are moving and trying to work that rate into some kind of mathematical equation which tells you how bad the news really is since evidently he isn't going to tell you for another hour, give or take another round of eye drops.

"Everything looks good, real good," Dr. Berry said right away.  And I relaxed.  My lungs gave up that extra quarter of space they'd been hoarding for the past few weeks - or longer.  Things were finally turning.  Even just a little bit.  Good news was here.

Long, detailed, and medically brain-numbing story short - my tests showed that my optic nerve (the part of the eye which deteriorates during glaucoma and eventually causes blindness) is just fine.  The pressure in my eyes was still measuring high, but they'd watch that and if things began to go south, they'd give me eyedrops to combat it.  Almost as an afterthought, Dr. Berry had me undergo a cornea test - yup, more drops.  Later he called me at home with the results.  

Turns out, I have extra-thick corneas.  This means two things: 1., People with extra-thick corneas always test out at a false higher pressure in their eyes and 2., People with extra-thick corneas are less likely to get glaucoma than those with thinner corneas.  Go figure.  Finally there's an extra-thick part of me that I can be proud of.  They'll still be keeping an eye on me - standard procedure when things aren't textbook, but all in all, it was a good report.  I'm glad.  I needed one.

A second good report came when we were leaving the optometrist's office.  The nurse from my OBGYN office called my cell with the results from a follow-up blood test I'd taken.

Brief history: after the second miscarriage last September, my doctor had had me take a rather extensive series of blood tests to rule out any cause for miscarriage.  

Now, understand that most miscarriages, even subsequent ones, are just due to sad chance.  Not coffee drinking.  Not heredity.  Not God wanting the baby to be in a better place (even though they certainly are).  We are imperfect bodies, living in an imperfect world.  I understand that it's easier for a lot of us to have things like this buoyed up by a deeper meaning behind it all, but sometimes things just aren't.

But I, wanting to do all I could to keep from losing any of our next babies, I took the test.  And in the first round, something was testing out a little higher than it should have been.  It ended up being one of those somethings which was just high enough to make it not quite a negative, but not so high as to be a clear positive.  So my doctor decided to err on the safe side and had me take a mild medication (Baby Aspirin) to offset the potential condition.  He also requested that I retake the test later.

And here we were.  I had retaken the test.  And now I sat, just outside the optometrist's office where I had been given a much-needed good report, cradling the phone to hear the confirmation of the blood test results.  

Negative.  My results were negative for the condition that could have caused the miscarriages and could affect any future pregnancies.  I did not have the condition.  My blood tests were perfect.  It was a good report.

We got home and all the girls ran to play; the drooly crawler rolled around on my floor, looking for unsuspecting objects to stuff in his mouth.  I went to the bathroom to check out my still-numbed and blurry eyes.  Staring into the mirror, I had to chuckle a bit as the blue of my irises were only barely visible behind the ominously large, black, dilated pupils.  I looked like a hungry vampire.  But my heart was more satisfied than it had been in a very long time.  Sure, the events of the past year were not undone.  The things my family waits on and prays for are still yet to arrive.  But, as I looked back into my black eyes, I knew two very big things had been brought to a very good close.  All the worry, all the tears shed over them were now dried up and left behind.  I was free to move forward, unencumbered.  Without fear.

The turning of the tide: sometimes it comes slowly, but still it comes.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Some Thoughts on Craigslist (And No, They're Not for Sale)

Society is pretty much divided up into two people groups: those who do Craigslist, and those who don’t.

Now, I have friends who buy, sell, and surf Craigslist as often as I check Facebook – which is far too often, but don’t tell my husband… he won’t approve… for whatever reason.

For too long I’ve flitted around the borders of Craigslist no-man’s land, never a poster nor a buyer, but not a true abstainer either.  Finally, my time came.

It was my duvet cover that did it.  I had bought it from Pottery Barn during the long months when Jason was stationed in Kuwait.  It was a great buy and what I’d hoped was a step toward something new, but unfortunately, it would be a step in the wrong direction.  The duvet cover is a blue background with flowers and paisleys (my brother Paul is a big paisley fan – ask him about it sometime) spread liberally across the foreground.  I enjoy flowers and tolerate paisleys, but the blue I’d envisioned (this was an online purchase) was more of a blue steel (more Martha, less Zoolander) and what arrived via UPS was a stubborn country blue circa late 1980's.  Okay, not that bad.  (If you're a fan of blue and looking for a king-size duvet cover - with four matching shams - call me!)  I was displeased, but remained confident it would look good on our new king-sized bed.  Maybe it would grow on me.  We could work it out.  Long story short, here we are, nearly three years later, and the blue has not grown on me.  We can't work it out.  In fact, it became one of those things where I would be busily doing something else, something innocent and non-duvet related, and I would find my eyes unwillingly, inexorably pulled back to my bed.  And to the blue.  Dear God, the blue.  Finally, three years later, unable, unwilling to take it any longer - I burst out in dramatic confessional fashion to Jason (or was it more of a sleepily whiny confession?), “I don’t like it!  I just don’t like it!”

So here we are.  Hello Craigslist.  I took some good pics, if I do say so myself, and wrote what I’d hoped would be an attention grabbing, witty little title and post for my duvet cover (and four pillow shams – yep, sorry guys, you’re out, too).  I posted it late Friday night after creating my VERY FIRST Craigslist account.  Actually, I think you only ever get to create one anyway, but I digress…

That night I was plagued with dreams of psychopathic Craigslist stalkers emailing inquiries on any duvet cover listings throughout the Corvallis/Albany area…

And the next morning – surprise! – an inquiry.  I was excited.  I was scared.  The emailer, with an odd name but nothing sounding Nigerian-email-scammer-ish, wanted to know if “it was still available?”  Odd, but whatever.  Not everybody sits and stares at the emails they’ve just taken 20 minutes to compose, recompose, and recompose again before they finally hit send.  After 20 minutes I sent her back a very brief, “yes, it’s still available.”

Later in the day, I checked my spam folder – I hadn’t heard back from her and thought, maybe, just in case… and there was her return email.  Odd.  I checked it.  And shuddered.

An “auto response” from her yahoo account (what the hey is that anyway?) didn’t even mention my duvet cover (and four matching shams) – I tried not to be hurt – but gave some very odd invitation to a “midnight meet-up” for those who were too shy to put in their own personal ads.

I read it once, read it again, and spammed her.  I might've even spammed her twice.  I don’t think she was ever even interested in buying my duvet cover (and four matching shams).

Alas, I’ve had no more inquiries.  Disappointment is setting in.

But I’m also encouraged for those out there – and apparently you are out there – who are too shy to put in a personals ad, but might be looking for love through a well-worded, witty household goods post on Craigslist: Avelina Cornett is on your side.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Visions of the Future: iMac

The month of April found brought us to a long awaited milestone: an iMac.

Apparently - according to the little book that came with our iMac - we were made for each other.  I certainly have been enjoying getting acquainted with Mac.  He's done well keeping me company during these long weeks with Jason away on Navy duties in Virginia.

Mac is fulfilling two purposes for our family: 1., we needed a new desktop computer and 2., I needed something that  could assist me in my new and upcoming roles for Anne Nunn Photographers as well my fledgling design business.

So the month of April brought us the iMac and the month of May (and likely June, too) will be spent getting to know and developing a good working relationship and workflow with him.

Overall, we're very pleased with the transition from PC to Mac.  It's been easy, fun, and heck - like we were made for each other.

The future looks very very good.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Letters to my Father-in-law

Dear Gary,

This time of year usually has us scrambling for good ideas for your birthday present.  I think you always knew this, on some level, and probably enjoyed it.  I'll be honest - you were a hard man to buy for.  I think we usually ended up giving you one of three things: a book, a movie (usually war or history), or camping gear.  I think we generally did a pretty good job, but it was always hard to say since you weren't a gusher.

Toward the end of your life, and then afterward, I wrote you letters.  Sent to you, posted online, and some waited.  But you and I had that in common - writing.  You encouraged me in it.  I know you planned on writing a book once you kicked the cancer.  I wish I could have known what you were writing.  I wish I could have read it in print.

I'm writing you now as sort of a last present.  I suppose, true to our tradition, I am scrambling a bit; it's near 11 pm the night before your birthday (and your granddaughter is faithful to get me up around 6 am these days).

I wish many things had been different.  I wish you'd have been healed from the cancer - for the second and last time.  I wish we could have spent more time together, somehow.  I wish I'd have asked you more questions when we were together.  I wish you'd have taken the trail out of Cly lakes instead of having us go off those wretched topo maps, clinging to the sides of shale-covered cliffs.  (I know you'll be laughing at that last one, even if my blog readers are scratching their heads a bit.)

I want to tell you how well your family is doing.  Not to say there aren't days where the loss of you is overwhelming, but they are steadily moving from surviving toward thriving.  When you passed away, I began to look at your family - my family - with different eyes.  I still love them the same, but I'm more aware of them now, with you gone.  My disappointment in losing you and the pain I feel when I see those who love you hurting makes me want to go above and beyond in reaching out to them, in loving them, caring for them and praying for them.  I can now understand why people continue to do things for people they love who have long passed away.  It's because my loving those who you love is another way of continuing to love you, though you're no longer with us.  And I now understand more of how that works into the Kingdom of God.  I want to love God's people because He loves them, and I love Him so dearly.  I want to be an extension of His love back to His people.  Your life - and your death - is teaching me that.  Another thing for which I'll love you forever.

Your son is doing well.  He misses you greatly.  I am so grateful you and Tricia raised such a fine man and that God brought us together.  He's busy planning camping trips through the coming year, and I know you are never far from his thoughts.  You left him a good heritage; we are blessed to pass that on.  Know that we will pass that on.  Siennalee is growing like a wildflower.  She talks about you often.  She knows you are in heaven with Jesus and remembers you gave her that Jack Russell terrier from Build-a-Bear (oh that she had been more temperate for you that day!).  She remembers your face and can pick you out of a line-up (picture).  :)  One of my biggest blessings is that you are in the presence of those beloved souls who couldn't stay with us: your parents, Uncle Mel, my sweet nephews, and my two babies lost last year.  I am comforted that you have two grandchildren to dote on and I am comforted that they have you.  Having you in Heaven, in the presence of God makes it all more real for us still here.  "Treasures in heaven" has new meaning.

I have not forgotten what you told me in what would be our final conversation.  You were so near to seeing the face of God; I've held tightly onto the word you gave me.  You had more to say, I remember, but were going to send it on later.  I suppose I'll just have to wait to hear what that was; it's something I look forward to.

So this is the first of the "Year of Firsts" of having you gone.  Next will be Father's Day.  And so on.  Life will go on, but you will always be missed.  I understand I don't have to wish you a happy birthday; you know nothing but joy where you are now, but it is a happy birthday.  I, as your daughter-in-law, married to your wonderful son, mother to your precious granddaughter, am so grateful there was a birth-day for Gary Kantola.  It made possible my life today and made my joy complete.

Happy Birthday, Gary.

All my heart,
your daughter-in-law Jessica