Saturday, March 29, 2008

"I smell the onions, I look around for you. . . "

It's been a fun few days, here at Casa Bardonia. The good news is that we've had good outcomes - the process has been a bit, well, odiferous, though. First part of the week, I started noticing a rotten, kinda moldy, pungent smell in the bathroom, when I was giving Emma her bath. Emma tends to well, splash around a lot, sometimes, and I often end up putting an old towel on the floor to sop up the water, and the towel doesn't always get hung up, and it'll lay there for a day or two. . . cause she'll just do it again, tomorrow. . . so I'm thinkin' that we've got a mildewing towel thing going on. Next day, it's a little worse. I bother to pick up the towel - nope, it's not the towel. What is it? Don't know.
Thursday, it's getting nasty. I pull up a corner of the vinyl flooring - thinking to myself, 'great, it's gonna be mold, I'm going to have to tear this floor out and . . . '
No mold.
Then, it dawns on me. I've smelled something like this, before. Yes. It's DEAD ANIMAL. I don't think that I've recorded my experience - I think it's been 5 or so years ago - of removing half of a dead skunk from under this house, and I'm not going to, now. I will tell you of its effect upon me yesterday.
Resigned to the reality that 1) it was too late to do anything at the moment and 2) it was going to be my main concern in the morning, I went to bed. The odor, which had previously only been perceptible in the one bathroom, was now beginning to pervade the eastern end of the house.
I awoke at 3:15, my personal 'witching' hour. When I'm bothered, when stuff happens in the middle of the night, I've noticed that it's usually right around 3:15. I could smell this thing, and my brain began to turn. The condition of this corpse. The physical proximity that I would need to assume to address said corpus, or should I say now, host. I began to consider the logistics, put forth new theories and designed potential tools to do the job, like rigging up a plastic bag on a pole with a cable threaded around the bag opening, that could be placed over the thing and then drawn tight like a drawstring, in order for the operator to stay further away from the business that surely would be at hand. The smell wouldn't let me be. Went to the office, opened the window. Gad. My course became clear, even as my stomach became increasingly muddled. It was time to call a professional. Whatever the cost - actually, I considered about $200 to be my price ceiling - somebody else was going to do this dirty work. To the internet! I selected three companies, got myself dressed - the smell taking over my senses the whole time, and left for work a little early.
Speedy Animal Control. They open at 7 - perfect. I'll get them going and we'll be done. Left a message on their machine at 7:25. They never called me back.
On to D&D Dead Animal Removal Service. No fancy website, 'no bones about it' - low tech, on the lowdown, actually my first choice but no posted hours. I stopped waiting for Speedy just before 10am. D&D (lots of opportunity to 'riff' on the possibilities of those initials) had an answering service, too, but then Mary called me back within minutes. They had a live one, as it were. I explained that there was a dead animal under my house, could they please remove it, TODAY?
"What kind of animal is it?"
"I don't know. I'm thinking it's a possum or a raccoon - I'm pretty sure it's not a skunk, because we've had a dead skunk under our house, before."
"Well, a dead skunk doesn't always smell like a skunk."
"Yes, ma'am."
After going back and forth, spelling street names, Mary relaying info to another person trying to find us in the Thomas Brothers' map book, she gets back to business:
"Is this space accessible"
"How much space is there?"
(I don't know, I can crawl down there, I can turn over, it's a CRAWL SPACE!)"I'd say a good 24 inches or so."
"Well, sir, we do charge for this service."
(Oh really? It'd be kinda creepy if you didn't)"Yes, Ma'am."
"We charge between $60 - $120, depending on how far we have to crawl, and what we find down there."
(SWEET!) "Sounds great"
"Sometimes, they're alive, you know."
"I'm pretty sure that that's not the case, here."
We wrapped up the conversation, and they came out a couple of hours later. Vicky brought Jesus into the house, to the bathroom, and he said "I know what that is." Identifying animals by the smell of their rotting bodies is a skill that, while I admire it, is not one that I'd like to cultivate. He did his thing, we paid them $80, and life was much better all over again. I received the text message from Vicky - "Possum gone." Yes, Jesus had delivered us from the pestilence that had afflicted us, yea verily, our entire household. Make your own jokes, if you must. I prefer to remain respectful, for a change.
There's still a little smell, this morning, I'm just a bit nauseated at the moment. Yes, I found another broken vent and closed it off. We're moving on, today, to brighter horizons, and domestic bliss.

Friday, March 21, 2008

World Down Syndrome Day

Today was World Down Syndrome Day. Of course, I didn't have to tell you, I'm sure you saw the blue and yellow banners waving from the lampposts in your town. It was in all the papers, and the heartwarming stories filled the post-sports-newscasts slots between chuckling anchors and videos of hailstorms as big as golf balls and water-skiing squirrel videos. People with Down Syndrome got free haircuts, donuts, and movie tickets, and they waved from convertibles as parades were held in their honor. 21-gun salutes, plus one "extra" shot, echoed at military installations. The telethon was a great success, raising 40 million dollars for research. Of course, we've already found a cure, but there appear to be a number of things that we can do to help those who've escaped it. The day was all about possibilities, inclusion, and achievement.
Yeah, Annie, I have my days, too.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Waiting in the Weeds

I've been sitting on that last post for three weeks. I find myself, from time to time, unable to post about the things I'm thinking about. Years ago, I often read about writing taking courage, and I really didn't understand what that meant, outside of, say, Karl Marx or George Orwell. I am realizing that, if I really want to delve into some subjects, I'm going to need to do what I'm told every writer should be doing anyway, and that's writing a journal. I don't have the ego to think that my thoughts need international publishing; you've all been invited to read at your leisure and discretion as I hopefully work on myself. I try to do this in a way that might have some value for you as my friend, family member, or parent on this zany caravan we call - heck, what do we call it? At any rate, thanks for checking back, I've been kinda blocked. I'm going to try and start journaling, which hopefully may clear the docket for some more focused material. And I'm going to floss every day and check the oil in the car at least once a week. I'll save my courage for the time being, even though that kinda makes me shudder. Anyone understand this?

The news says that it takes a big chunk more than we bring in to 'make ends meet' here in San Diego. The school district - a big part of our lives right now, for both of my kids - is cutting on the very programs and services that serve Sam and Emma, being at either end of the educational spectrum. We've all been sick with some kind of crud that has lasted for about 3 weeks now, leaving us with a messy house, unmown grass, fast food because we're too pooped to get to the store, let alone cook. . .
It's just been a season of malaise.
Spring is on the way, though. I'm listening to music, again. I'm working through some stuff. I'm trying to figure out what my next career is going to be. I've pretty much ruled out inspirational speaker, cause I'd be livin in a van down by the river. And nobody wants that.

Bonus Photo!
Here's a picture from my webcam that we sent to Vicky when she was in Yuma a few weeks back.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Fasten Your Seat Belts

I'm warning you, right off the bat, that I'm going somewhere that I'm not exactly comfortable with, and I'm pretty sure that some of you won't want to go. Feel free to stop this ride at any time - this is not required reading. The topic - same sex marriage. Curious? Let's proceed. Not curious? Feel free to check back, later.
I got a phone call, yesterday afternoon, from my neighbor Sid. Sid and Janice are lovely people; their children have grown and moved on, and I really do like having them for next-door neighbors. We've been through stuff together like building and paying for a common fence, reaching Janice on the phone when Sid had chest pains and got taken away in the ambulance, Sam was a somewhat unwitting accomplice when the neighbor kid set fire to one of Sid's trees - you know, the usual neighbor stuff.
Sid calls, wants to know if Vicky and I would join them in signing a petition for another ballot measure stating that marriage is between a man and a woman. I politely answered, "no." He politely said,"o.k., bye then," and that was that. Poor Sid. I do hope he talks to me again, someday.
We talk, all the time, in my communities of DS parents, about how our children change our lives. It's often hard to express just how. Time shifts, expectations change; after being stared at enough times you care less and less what people think about how you look, or what you're doing, because they have no clue what this is like, and most don't ever want to. Yup, I'm a minority, parent of a smaller minority.
So, there's stories about the occasional, "high functioning" Down Syndrome couples getting married. OK, there's no law against that. Should there be? They're different. How are they different? Why, it's a chromosomal anomaly. There's a behavioral gap between them and 'normal' married people.
I have grown to the opinion that homosexual people are born 'different'. I don't know if it's chromosomal, or not. I think that there's a whole range of genomic expression, just as there is with hair color, cruelty, and any other major characteristics of our human condition. I know some gay people that don't really exhibit any outward characteristics at all. There are many in key leadership positions where I work. There's a transsexual (at least one that I know about) in my building. We all manage to do what we need to do.
Now, I understand the societal implications of what I'm saying. I frankly think that there's been more damage done to our society by what is now the near requirement that both parents work to support an artificially high standard of living, financially, sociologically, and morally. That ship has sailed. We live in a country where single persons and gay couples can adopt children, 'have' them via surrogates. They live together in monogamous relationships and raise children, already. We've given them all of the de-facto trappings - more to the point, they've done it regardless of any law to the contrary. We don't have the legal/moral authority to jail them or stone them to death. Meanwhile, 90% of the children with the chromosomal condition that Emma has are killed, excuse me, prevented from living, er, what would you call it? And that's acceptable to all of us, because it continues, and is being further strengthened by the church of medicine.
What if homosexuality was discoverd to be a combination of genetic factors? Would it then become a disability? Perhaps you think it is, now. Would gay people suddenly be allowed to park in front of the grocery store? Would we evangelical folk be willing to accept them for who they were, then, now presented with a medical model, instead of a moral imperative?
This is a big pot, and this post is not going to make any sort of palatable soup. I'm reading a big book about theology and Down Syndrome. I don't know how it ends. I'm thinking that it may affect how I feel about this subject. At the moment, though, I just can't help but feel that we've got to come up with some new answers for these moral mines, answers that speak to love, God's love, that pass our understanding, that pass our propensities to alienate, that seek to bring healing relationships.
I know that some of you will disagree with this viewpoint, completely and utterly. You have other criteria. I'm just saying that Emma has changed my perspective on many things. I don't think I could ever explain myself to Seventh-Day-Adventist Sid in a way that he'd understand. I know he's a compassionate man, but I don't think he'd be able to fully see it through my eyes. I don't know if I've explained it in a way that anyone else understands.
It's amazing, what a telephone call can do.