Thursday, October 30, 2014

On Voting - Hard Choices, Soft Targets

I picked up the phone at my Dad's and it was an election campaigner, someone who probably was calling all the voters in the area.  I was expecting a call back of a professional nature so I answered the phone "Dr. J." What I got was not the other Dr. type who was going to call me right back but - "Would you vote for Candidate So and So if they supported (insert liberal female issue item here)?" I was asked. "Actually no" I said.

"What?" was the response, "I'd expect a successful women to support a candidate who supports feminist issues".

Actually I'm not, a feminist that is. Not in the sense of the word usually associated with it. I'm not going to burn my bra (except for that one that makes me look like I'm expecting an assassination attempt) and I'm not going to walk dutifully 10 feet behind my husband with my head covered. I'm a contradiction in stereotypes, a modern woman who can shoot, hunt, manage a team of a couple dozen or so ex special forces types, fix most things and survive on my own. But I'm the type that wanted a strong but gentle man to remove the spider from the bathroom and understand that sometimes I can't do it all and am going to come home after slaying the dragon, go to my room and cry like a baby.  I wanted, (as you all have given me no end of kidding about when I first said it) someone who can  read an old 130 page technical report I wrote, ask me about the thoughts that went into it, then bend me like Gumby and make me forget my name.


I'm not the inaccurate stereotype that liberals would like to make of a woman voter of the right, some hillbilly woman with 8th grade reading skills and a baby on each hip. I'm successful, highly educated, pro Constitution and pro Second Amendment. I call older folks and all veterans Sir and Ma'am and I will happily bring my man a cold beer while he watches WWII  tanks blowing up things on TV (and likely join him).

The feminists probably wouldn't like me, and some of the more more traditionally brought up women I've met probably think I'm a different species. I'm not a woman that thinks my man should act like a women and treat me like a man. I may be able to fix the damn door but I like it when you open it for me. That's courtesy not sexism.  Like my parents, I believe that in a household, decisions should be joint, discussed, like battle strategy, what is best for us, for the family, not dictated by the man simply because he is the man OR the woman simply to keep the peace.

So I find the idea that I should vote for a woman, simply because she is a woman or a candidate because he supports marriage or reproductive issues based on what will get him the most votes rather than what is right in his heart, to be as idiotic as having a politician elected simply because he looked good in an expensive suit and talked pretty. 

"whoo, me?"

Perhaps it's something with me, passed on from a strong mother, who carried a badge and still greeted my Dad in a dress and high heels with a martini on Friday nights. He treated her with the utmost of  care and respect, the same was expected of us, examples of how we live and love, laid out before us.

My former husband was from the deep South, a Southerner raised of rigid and controlling values, not like all of the gentlemanly, strong men of the South I've come to know since.  I was brought home as some prize to show his parents, after they threatened to disown  him for taking up with some bimbo. "Look what I own now", was how I was paraded around, like some prize cow, valued for anything other than love.

I tried my best to fit in, cooking with the women, something I always loved to do for family, tending to chores. But I soon realized that the older women in the family all had a haunted look about about their eyes, a quiet desperation there among all the noise and bustle of large meal gatherings. Women were bearers of babies, burden and contempt, working all day in the heat and the noise on Sundays and holidays while the men got drunk and watched football.
My husband had moved far away, living a different type of life than this, in a whole other world when I married him, so young and so on the rebound from losing my first love. But his father's death brought us back to that place and soon he was treating me the only way he knew, the way his father had treated his mother, with idle disrespect and hidden bruises. I was not the girl he loved, I was the type of girl his parents wanted him to marry and I paid for that choice each and every day.

I tried though, oh how I tried,  but that first Thanksgiving was an eye opener. After cooking all day I went to sit down at the table and was informed by a senior member of the family that the women should "eat in the kitchen", not with the men. We were there to wait on them and clean up after them, and if we had time for a bite somewhere in there so be it.
I came into that relationship with a college degree and pilot wings on my uniform and soon found that although I loved rural life, I hated the way I was treated, simply because of my gender. If I went into a feed store I'd be asked if what I ordered was what my husband wanted. I could be up all night wrestling with a tractor, pack my bag and go spend a few days flying a large transport, only to come home and be patted on the head, and called the "little woman" while the salesman talked to my husband as the money I earned was spent, as if I was not in the room. Then I'd come home to chores and criticism, neither of which ever abated, no matter how hard I toiled.

I'd  leave the house, just to get away from words that drew blood like small stinging insects.  I'd go out into the back fields alone, laying out flat on the ground, looking at the sky, feeling the earth through my clothes, breathing  hard, thinking if I didn't move, he wouldn't see me and I wouldn't have to breathe so hard and so quiet. 

I was not alone, I'd see some women at the church socials, wearing plain clothing, with downcast eyes bearing trays of food which were made with the passion they weren't allowed to show in any other public way. I worked, as the money was needed, but few others did, other than selling cosmetics or kitchenware or other "at-home business". I was asked to attend one of their meetings, watching the team leader whipping the group into a lather of frenzy that reminded me of a church revival. "Who's going to book 10 parties!" and the group response with liturgical precision. "We Are! The products were usually good, and some women actually made a fraction of the money they dreamed of. I'd see in those meetings their eyes, that would blaze up like a lantern just before the oil runs out. There in that small moment a brief blaze of freedom that for many will be snuffed out once they got home.

So I understood that small stand for independence, that recognition of  keen minds and hard work they didn't get anywhere else, a place where they could speak freely, cloaked in the conspiratorial whisper of lipstick and perfume.
But these were strong women underneath, and like myself we went into such marriages with the naive vision of youth, picking someone because everyone expects you to get married. Someone likable, nice looking, someone young and strong, able to change your lives for the better, without a strong look at family, character or integrity. And we stuck it out because of. . . I can only explain it with a phrase that came from the Bible that I had not understand before. "A peace that passeth all understanding". Passeth all understanding. Yes, for in looking back I see it now, that decision to stay that bears no understanding on the surface. That pride, that furious wish to hide the abject folly of your youthful decision, bearing that load around like a large platter, too large for a small girl to handle. Not speaking up, not crying out but carrying that decision, for some, all the way into burning ground.

I will never forget that, but I have forgiven it. Twenty years have passed;  people and places change, while God and the wind steer us  to where we need to be, which for me was with a husband who deeply loves me even as he honors me and what I stand for  Society too has changed since those days when I was a young bride. I can now go into most gun stores and say "do you have the new XDM in .45?" and usually no one bats an eye. I drive a large truck and don't get funny looks in traffic. And if the seat of the truck is covered with cakes and pies it's because I wanted to bake them for the men in my life,  NOT because I'm expected to.
I am not that same young woman. I look at things in great detail now.  I see things not as a whole taken at face value, but as the individual components which comprise the whole. Just as in a crime scene you sift through those seemingly unrelated disbursements of strong and and fragile, the sniffles and sighs that echo in the air even as flesh cools and hair scents the air with ammonia perfume, those illusionary wholes of pieces of life and strong bones, detached yet familiar, so secret yet familiar. I look hard at things, including people, having learned the hard way the years of long sentence that are the result of foolish choice.

Choices without prejudice. Freedoms with responsibility. I will take some leave to travel to vote and like most days off, I will likely go to the range first and shoot, watching the bullet fly free of the firearm, like the stream from a fire hose. I will watch it fly with freedom and power, and I will stand in awe as to the damage that can be done when such power is misused.
Then, when the day has come, I will go home, clean my weapon, throw my apron in the wash and go to the voting booth where I will stand, breathing hard, yet quietly, reminded of sweet words and false promises, fragments of forgotten vows.  I will vote with my mind, as strong as anyone's. I will vote with my heart, not based on what others expect me to do or what is popular but what I as an individual, one lone citizen, can abide. I will vote from history, mine and this nation's.

I am NOT going to vote for a woman with a pro choice button and hair stiff with hairspray. I would not vote for her any more than I would vote for a woman with a NRA button and hair stiff with hairspray only because she is a women. I will  vote for the best candidate, one who can articulate in the face of adversity, stick with a commitment and a belief and put the interests of the people of this country ahead of their social schedule, golf game or Hollywood fundraiser. I want a candidate who, when confronted with a threat to our life and liberty, will not stare at the ground or a teleprompter, or worse yet, apologize. I want a candidate who will fight for with us, and for us, just as I am committed for life to a man who is willing to fight with me and for me (even if the ammo he uses I might have reloaded myself).

So Mr. Pollster, there you have it. Present to me a candidate  that can do those things and I'll vote for him OR her, but only on those terms. There are some mistakes we don't wish to make twice.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Basset Hounds

When I sold the original "range" to purposefully downsize, I got rid of a LOT Of furniture, donating most of it to Amvets, selling only a few pieces.  I ended up with a few nice pieces, enough to put into a small house. Then, on meeting my future husband, that house location changed, and that furniture ended up in a crash pad, I maintain during the work week.

That left a new (well, new is relative when it's a hundred years old) Range to populate.  Partner had a beautiful heirloom table and chairs, a rocker from his family and some bachelor stuff from his college apartment, but it needed a few more things to make it more comfy for two.  Some tables were restored, a mission chair was built and recovered.  Lamps and paintings were added, lace picked up at the thrift shop for the windows.

The last project was to replace Partners ancient Ikea couch from college. Over time the taupe cushions had faded from brown to pink and the whole thing was, well, . . . . 

sort of an eyesore.
There were some good memories on that couch with Barkley but we needed a larger and more supportive one.
We looked at some Amish built furniture, but the price was just too much to justify.  We can afford it, we just chose NOT to spend our money that way, which leaves us more for savings, for charitable donations, for helping the less fortunately, for preparedness.  That's more important than someone walking in and being impressed by my "things". And I did NOT want cheap "Wood-like" furniture. So we started picking up free furniture, things tossed out because they were scratched or dinged or needed recovering, but all solidly built, out of hardwood.
I came home one day to find this in the garage.

At one time it was a very expensive Bassett sleeper sofa, then a family with three young kids had it. The wood was totally scratched up, the cushions toast, the fabric really  late 70's or early 80's ugly. The frame was still good, the mattress never once slept on.  We got it from Craigslist with a "make offer".  In this case, a case of beer was the asking price from the husband wanting to just get it out of the house.
The cushions had all the support of a wet noodle and were pitched.  We purchased some foam, some fabric and some leather from Tandy for the trim.

Once the wood was stripped, sanded and refinished, it was time to remove the last of the Disco fabric--
while the cushions were hand crafted, the covering completed, and the leather trim attached to the top and bottom of the frame.

For less than $300 total in materials it's incredibly solid and should last a lifetime. The machine washable suede-like fabric can be easily replaced or cleaned.  It's also very comfortable, with good support for the back.  But do you know the best part?
It's been Lab tested--
and approved!  zzzzzzz

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - A Dad Post

Bud meets Buddy

Brigid's Dad here, with a little story that she is going to type up for me.

My family has always had a home somewhere in the mountains, sometimes a full time residence for someone, sometimes, a summer or winter place. This is my favorite, built by my beloved niece L, from the remains of a shack she bought with some land. I have spent every holiday here for a long time, but for last year. L's Dad, my baby brother, died when she was a very young woman and we just started to come up here after she fixed the place up, it  being home to us in in a lot of ways.  I didn't think I would ever see it again as it's such a long trip and my son always came with me, making that two day drive each way and helping me in and out of the vehicle. He's gone, and I doubted there would be anyone willing to make that long trek, twice in just a few months.
But "my girls"  L. and Brigid hatched a plot that involved 48 hours of driving for the round trip, a quick kidnapping (after coordination with the doctors for a pre "snag" check up and extra supplies.)  With the assistance of a strong, dashing man and a little cattle dog, we made it  in two days, with a stop to visit my beautiful granddaughter and great-granddaughter along the way.
 What do you mean I'm staying in the summer "Guest Cottage?"
Glad you were kidding, this looks really comfortable. You all sure make pretty things to decorate the place
 And the view of the back 40 is pretty nifty.
 Some things don't change, though the round rock collection is growing.
And the hives.
The bee hat, babe magnet every time.
I think I looked more dapper in my WWII uniform (that's me on the left), but I'm not complaining.
Because our family motto is sweet and clear.  Just Bee Happy!
So much to do over the summer.  Fourth of July!  Somehow I think alcohol was involved in this.
Some time at the lake. I'll let the youngsters play in the water, I'm just happy to sit in the warmth and share a glass a wine with one of my local friends.
 Doing our best to ensure the store's beer supply stays fresh.
 There's always evenings at the social club.
Or time with Shasta and K. at the old swimming hole.
 No, we didn't have bacon for breakfast.  Honest.
Brigid calls when she can't be here, seeing what we're having for supper.
 The mountain air is invigorating.  Let's go for a walk
There's no traffic at all, just some happy dogs.
I get to walk each day too, with a little help from Cindy who is a registered nurse.
And our squadron of rescue dogs.
After the outdoor time, a little snack is in order.
One of my girls is always making cookies for me.  My favorite is C's chocolate chip.
And a little relaxing as evening sets in.
Camera shy Dottie and Girlito the cat.
The summer flies by, quicker than we imagined, leaving on galloping hooves (like Buddy and Taxi the horse, that belongs to one of L's friends)
 Happy 94th Brithday to me!  Homemade Cake!
This is my family that shared in my summer and my special day. Only one of us is related by blood, the rest adopted, sharing of a last name, or simply a home, part of each's other's pack, rescuing one another, in so many little ways.

Before long, it will be time to head back, L. driving me north where we will meet Brigid and plan a family trip to the beach. While I was gone, B. got all the kitchen fire damage at my house cleaned up, everything repainted and cleaned and restored as best as could be.   She even replaced my broken old dishwasher that didn't work, so I don't have to do dishes or ask the nurse's aid to do them (more time for me to beat her at cribbage). I had such a good summer here, but I'm anxious to see my home.
But first, one last trip to the creek.
I just know there's a salmon in here somewhere.  I saw a bear do this once.
I'm looking forward to that trip to the beach as well, one last trek, one last family visit before the chill sets in.  

But that's a post for another day.
 - Bud

Monday, October 27, 2014

Waiting For The Phone to Ring

When I was out at Dad's last week, we went through some paperwork in his safety deposit box, as he's readying his affairs, realizing he probably won't be with us much longer.  Everything is in a trust, equally divided up among children and grandchildren, not much remaining though but memories, those remembrances for which we are so grateful.  One of the items he gave me was the original of my birth certificate, sent to them a year after I was actually born, the names on it, his and Mom's, as they had just adopted me. Their only child deceased, they took Big Bro and I in, and gave us their name, the four of us joined together in a bond that obliterated a painful past in which we had only been a small, unwilling participant.

There is much history in that piece of paper. For I was born to an unwed mother in the generation of Roe vs. Wade.  I missed the actual date by a few years however, or I would not be writing these words.  For I was born to one who, most assuredly, did not want to be pregnant with me. But I was born, on a warm day in August, in Swedish Hospital in Seattle.

I am the product of adoption, as is my child.  This is our story, this may be yours.
You're almost Sixteen,  soon to have license to freedom in your pocket, the chrome polished chariot to your future sitting in the driveway in the form of an ancient Volkswagen Beetle. Sixteen, a mile marker for some, for you anyway, old enough to drive, time stolen through pale fences that line the roads as you rush towards your future. 

There's a boy in the Cello section of the orchestra that you like, but he's always hovering around the delicate, blond flowers of the flute section. You are part of the posse of math and science geeks that occupy the wind and brass section that plays with the orchestra one day a week. But there, you are with friends, armed only with overbites, wit and lung capacity, as you sit outside of the strings and the flutes, moving clumsily around like bespectacled bumblebees among the flowers.

There's a dance coming up, a Sadie Hawkins one, in which the girls ask the boys. Your Dad will have to drive you but it's almost like a real date.  With hopeful eyes, you bumble over and ask him to go with you. The blond next to him looks at you with a withering giggle. He says "uh. . I'll call you later" with an expression that is not so much a smile as a dismissal. But you are too young and naive to see anything but the smile.

You rush home, anticipation lingering around you, waiting to be breathed in and let loose in a sudden exhale as you rush to your room to wait. You will sit there in your room in silence for hours as the family eats without you, as dinner dishes are put away, and the room grows cold, your breath vaporizing in the growing dark.

Waiting for that phone to ring.
You're 18, in college, trying to be grown up, as you took your first summer class there at age 14, when you were still a child. But you are a child who is now carrying a child. The older guy who swept you off your feet and took what can't be replaced was gone with that call from the doctor. Everyone says it's your body, your choice. You may have been naive, but you are grown up enough to know that your choice was when you gave yourself to someone outside of marriage.  THAT was your choice, not the taking of this innocent life.

You remember the night she was born, ten pounds, six ounces, after 34 hours in labor, her head crowning, her body bursting forth onto the sweat and blood soaked sheet. You remember only getting to hold her once, for just a moment before she is handed over, in your pain, to her adoptive parents, incredulous of her soft hair, perfect fingers, smelling of the womb, of warmth, of love. She looked at you with a peripheral glance, while you uttered the name you would give her and the words you were not able to say again for years, for in fear of their utterance, the object of those words would be lost to you. I love you, don't forget me.

You bring nothing home from the hospital, even as you left something there, not a baby, but something you could have lived your entire life with, without ever having known it was inside of you.
It's an open adoption, you know where she is, and with who, but your word is your honor and you promised not to get close. She has the option to contact you if she wishes when she turns of age, but if she doesn't? That, as they say, is that. You gave your word, you will respect. There is nothing to do now but back to your life and try not and notice that when you stop to think if she is safe from harm, your breath catches as if there is no air, and you are going to have to learn to either not worry about her every moment or live without breathing.

So it is as if she fixed in that moment, forever an infant, the walls of that hospital, the door to that room, fleeing away, leaving just her image, immobilized within a tear, inviolate in innocence, forever safe from harm and alteration.

It's the only way you can sleep at night, as for the next 18 years you wait for that phone to ring.
You get through, as best you can, with family, and a dog. A rescue, a runaway, soon to break your heart, that Husky. He was fiercely independent, living the life that philosophers and knights are known to do. You are  pretty certain he was purebred, an incredibly beautiful dog, one that probably set someone back a few dollars. But all that mattered was he was lost, no tag, and you tried your best to give him a home.

But huskies are born to run, and with them, they will take your heart. But you are determined to ensure he wouldn't be lost again; getting him vaccinated and tagged, with good food to eat, and a warm bed to sleep in. He spent the next month trying the escape the prison that he viewed his home and your ministrations. Even with long bike rides, and a big yard, he was determined to escape.  He'd dig under the fence, climb over it.  He was good with family, he behaved well inside the house but he was forever a compass between the far horizon and your affection, both implacable.
You try the big pet store dog training, you tried pleading and tears, which works neither on men or dogs, and for good reason.  You tried walking him morning, noon and night. Finally, one day, he got out past your legs at the front door and ran and ran, not looking back. All you could do was put up fliers and worry.

Waiting for that phone to ring

He was found, and returned safely.  You would have asked him why if you could, were you not a good "Mom"?  Was as he searching for the home he was lost from? All you got back was an inarticulate gaze, behind which could be either sadness or yearning, though he never let either show.  You'd give him all the exercise you could, so he wouldn't run way.  But it wasn't as if he was exhausted. He simply surrendered, as if he'd given over and released completely that grip upon the horizon that called, if only for now. It was a relinquishment that in some souls would mean death, but for this dog, was simply a deep, soft sigh and a longing gaze out of a window as he rests his head on your arm.

You do what you can to keep him happy and safe the rest of his life, but tell yourself you're not going to get another rescue dog after he's gone.  Or any dog, you can do all right all by yourself
You're in your late 30's, happily playing kerosene warrior, loading up a transport plane, simply getting ready for your responsibilities that night, the four bars on your shoulders a reminder of your duties. You don't know if it was pain or illusion that drove you to the skies, leaving broken hearth and home for that greed of adventures that flutters out there somewhere beyond. You don't look inward too closely, being more focused on what is outside, for what is there behind the darkness is more final than simply the loss of one's illusions.

You're all aware of it and one night, while waiting for the fuel guy when we get word a plane is down, Isn't that the one that John? . . .

You pause for the rest of the words, there in that moment before the sun plunges into the edge of the earth, the shapes and forms of aircraft fixed by that already fading explosion. But you can't stop what we're doing, each of you has one ear tuned to the task, men moving and working, shadows on the wall, not of flesh and blood, which is so fragile, but shadows of enduring hope and will, quiet as the murmur of  your breath as you work, one ear still listening.

Waiting for that phone to ring.
You're all grown now, still logging those miles on the road, still checking in with your Dad when you arrive at your hotel when you travel, for though you're grown up, he's seen his 90th birthday and he worries, especially now that his days grow short. The phone lays silent on the seat of the car as you head out, the thump of the tires on the pavement tapping out a Morse code that is unheard, the wheels pulling you further away from everything you have counted on and closer towards the unknown.

The thump of the tires takes you back to those days on the back of a motorcycle, riding with your brother. You think of him, his arms strong in command of that bike, his hands calloused but delicate as he tended to your father all these years. You think back to your last night together, sitting out on the deck, birds twittering above as they built nests for their young, their sounds that of the chirp of a clock, counting off each and every second of Spring. You could not imagine him so sick, even as you can't imagine him not being here now, talking to you each night, the cell phone silent in your pocket.
The house is so empty now, with him gone, your furry best friend gone as well, the two of them quitting this earth just a few weeks of each other. No regrets for that dog, that time, for you realized how alone you really were and added a purebred lab puppy to your life. You ponder a puppy again, a clean slate start with a new friend, fresh starts, no scars, no history. But you also ponder adoption, a rescue animal, one that needs sheltering as much as your heart does, one that will take more work, more trust. You said you never would, but hitting five oh, you realized that life is a risk, never a possession. You fill out all of the paperwork and you wait, there with a picture of a fuzzy older black lab mix saved to your computer, wondering if she was already adopted, praying they would call.

But it was time for other thoughts as you're nearing your destination, the blue and read lights guiding you to where you are called. For now, you can't think of the future, you can only drive through avatars that mark the accumulation of tears

Waiting for that phone to ring.
You are here, this moment, now, laying in bed. You shut your eyes, laying your hands flat against the cool sheets, trying to will yourself to sleep so early, going on call at midnight. You remember what your martial arts instructor told you about breathing, how you enter the true home of your spirit with each intake of breath, each exhalation, actions as old as time, a rhythm that is both life and death.

On the nightstand, your firearm and two phones, your personal one and the one that tethers you to duty. You never know when that one will ring, a call signaling the exorbitant burden that is nature, fate or someone's personal jihad.  Tonight, you somehow expect it to go off, thinking of swinging out of bed and grabbing the bag, jumping into the truck. Gear in the back, teetering as if to fall, you accelerate too fast, the high beams blinding more than illuminating as they cut through fog that coils in the lows in the road like a snake.

You do this, as the world sleeps, in that state of blessed forgetfulness in which the most fragile of senses can slumber, free from the godless dark intents of man and nature. You go because it is what you do, as much as who you are.
But tonight, the thought of that drive already exhausts you, even as you can't get to sleep. You look to the clock, wondering what time it is where your Partner is at, a mission for him that's as much a part of love of what one does,as duty, something you so understand. You wish he wasn't flying right now, burying the worry under the Kevlar exterior, but it's what he does, as much as who he is.

He'll call when he gets in to his hotel, so you know he's safe. You will smile, and you will both laugh, happy to be connected again. Till then, you lay in the embrace of the sheets, all the thoughts of what is going on in the world tickling your senses like electricity, a flicker of current before darkness.
On a shelf are photos, a boy and little girl in the lap of the man that chose to be their Dad, having a snack of apples as he reads to them.  There's another picture of those children, in motorcycle leathers, years later, in front of a couple of Valkyries in his driveway. There's an old picture of a group of pilots, all friends, all intact, even after a scare or two.  There's a photo of someone holding a musical instrument, not the silly high school crush, but a person of substance and honor, who, through time and the tears that come from suspect choices, was always there for you, softly touching your scars while bearing your history.

Among the photos on the nightstand is one of a little girl, with eyes the color of a storm tossed sea, shaped just like yours and just like her mothers.  There's photo after photo of a young redheaded girl, all of those many years that you missed, a dance outfit, a soccer game, a graduation, there in scraps of memory you can now safely hold and breathe in. All you have is the photo to show for those years you simply waited in silence, in stone.
Below that is a photo of a big furry black dog, taken by her Foster Mom. You glance at all of them and smile, breathe deep and drift off to sleep.

Somewhere out there trouble may stir, shadows may rouse themselves from sleep.  But somewhere far above and far away, someone slumbers aloft, their breath, in and out, a rhythm which not the mind, but the heart, marks and calls the measure for. Somewhere far away, your child, and her child, sleep safe in their beds, as safe as a scared teenager, turned protector of those that have no voice, could make them.

The clock ticks off one more notch of breath as you lay in that big bed in a  quiet room, a dog bed empty in the corner, as ready as you will ever be.

Waiting for that phone to ring.