Our Guardian Angel

My sister and I are pretty sure that we share a common guardian angel.

Her complications with the pregnancy were stressful and scary, but in the end she is fine and so are the babies.  She is now at home resting– as she will be for the next few months. 

Some higher power wouldn’t let anything happen to those babies.  Whatever it was… and whoever it was… we are, of course, eternally grateful.

But that higher power didn’t stop with my sister.  He– or she– but probably he– was watching over me, too.

Friday I was on my way up to Evanston to see my sister in the hospital after work.  I was driving down Lake Shore Drive, and I noticed that the car wasn’t responding like it usually did.  My car has a manual transmission.  It took longer to accelerate, and when it did accelerate, it felt very rough.  I was concerned, but I forged onward.

I got off of Lake Shore Drive and came to a stop, where the car died.  I restarted the car, and when I tried to accelerate, it barely moved.  I knew this wasn’t going to end well.  So I detoured off my path and headed toward home.

I was able to get the car on my street, and found a parking spot.  I attempted to park the car, but by that time any acceleration was completely lost.  I tried changing gears, but nothing would work.  I was stuck in the middle of my street– half in and half out of a parking spot.  SHIT!

I called the garage that services my car.  They recommended a towing company, and I called and arranged a tow.  So there I sat– right in front of my apartment, blinkers going, in the way of traffic, waiting for a tow.

About 10 minutes later, a tow truck slowed down behind me.  Now mind you, my street is more residential than anything, but it is rather busy… and there are a few repair garages around the corner, so tow trucks do frequent the area a lot.  This guy slowed down and asked me if I was waiting for a tow truck.  I said yes, figuring he was my guy.  He responded that he wasn’t, but he’d be happy to help me out.  He then asked me how much the towing company was charging me, which was $60.  He offered a tow for $40.  I said “You’ve got a deal!”

Ten minutes later, my car was safely parked at the gas station (which, thankfully, was only a block away from my street).  All I had in my wallet was $35, and the guy took it with no arguments at all.  I got his card.  There are GOOD PEOPLE in the world after all.

After I was home and settled in, I made all the phone calls– told Mom I was stuck and not coming up, and told my sister I couldn’t see her that night. 

The next morning the garage called with the damage– a burned-out clutch.  Holy shit!

If that would have happened on the highway, I would have been royally screwed.

They checked everything else on the car and everything looked fine– so this was definitely a necessary repair.  It’s expensive as hell, though, at $800.  Sigh. 

But still, I can’t deny that it could have been so much worse.

I did get up to see my sister on Sunday.  I got on the El for the first time since my kidney stones in May– and it all went fine.  The El station was right next to the hospital, so it was no problem at all to get there.  

Our visit was one of the most meaningful and touching in our recent history.  We were alone– no parents, no husband, no family– just us.  It was the first time we had actually been alone with each other since we were kids.  We talked a lot, cried a little, and shared a lot of things we haven’t been able to share in a long time.  And, of course, I got to see my sister… pregnant.  To say I was moved is a major understatement.

She looked tired, but radiant.  But most of all, she looked happy.  She knew her babies were OK, and she was OK.  And that’s all she wanted. 

When we got to the subject of Dad, we both teared up.

“I wish he was here right now, Rick.”  She said.  “He would be so happy.”

“He is, Beth.”  I replied.  “He’s here, and he’s happy.   And he loves us both so much.  I think we have an extra-special guardian angel up there looking out for us.”

“Yep, I think so, too,” she said. 

Funny thing about family.  No matter how big or small yours is… the bond of family is something that can never be broken.  I think it only gets stronger as we get older.   Even the craziest, knock-d0wn-drag-out fights can never tear those ties. 

I’m a pretty lucky guy.  I may be alone in the relationship department, but I am surrounded by lots of really wonderful people– both here and beyond.  And no matter how bad things get, that thought gets me through to see another day. 

I guess I’m not all that alone after all.

I suppose if I ever lost my job, I could become a baker…

First of all… yes:  The hiatus is over.

OK, now that I got that off my chest…

I’m obsessed with baking.

Lately my obsession has been sourdough bread.  I created my own sourdough starter two years ago on a whim.  I just wanted some sourdough bread, and I had never made it before.   Of course, I didn’t realize at the time that it takes a long time for a starter to get to the point where it’s really good… so I slowly started perfecting my recipe.  Finally, after two years of trial and error, I have a really good starter and a great recipe for crusty, chewy, delicious sourdough bread.  I baked three loaves today. I mix and knead the dough by hand.  Let’s repeat that again, shall we?  Three loaves in one day.

So as you can see, I am obsessed.

But my obsession does not only pertain to baking bread.  Give me a Kitchenaid mixer and the right ingredients, and I can whip up any number of tasty treats:  Cookies, cakes, muffins, pies, pastries… hell, I even make a damn good batch of pancakes.

I’m not bemoaning my joy of baking.  I just wish I had a better avenue for it.   After all, the Italian Nana in me wants to bake for the world– because that’s what Italian Nanas do.  They encourage everyone to sit, relax, and mangia.

So what do I do with this seemingly-natural talent I have for all things baked?

Well, for starters (pun intended), I could share my starter with people.  I could even sell it.  It’s that good.

Or I could just fall in love with someone who appreciates delicious baked goods and we could grow old and fat together and live happily ever after.

Yeah right…

Any ideas?  The comments– just like my kitchen– are open!

A stressful day

Tuesday was supposed to be a joyous day.

My sister was scheduled to go for her 20-week ultrasound.  It was at this appointment where they would discover the sexes of her twin babies, and (hopefully) find out how well they were progressing.

They got those answers– but they didn’t expect the news that followed.

First of all, she is having two girls.  We are thrilled beyond belief.  And for all intents and purposes, the babies are healthy.

But complications have arisen.  I don’t want to go into the gruesome details here– for our privacy and for your sake as well– but suffice it to say that had she not been at the hospital already for her ultrasound, there is a good chance that something worse could have happened.

Once the complication was noted, she was rushed into the hospital, tested, medicated, and is now resting–which she will pretty much be doing for the rest of her pregnancy.

For the rest of us in the family, the time between the initial announcement of the complication and getting her into the hospital so they could actually call and tell us what was going on seemed like a lifetime.  Details were pretty sketchy, and our hearts were racing a mile a minute.  We didn’t know if the babies were OK.  We didn’t know if she was OK.  We weren’t even sure which hospital she was at, so we couldn’t call anyone.

In my own case, the day at work was stressful enough to begin with.  My co-worker was out sick, and I had an enormous project I had to complete before I left for the day.  It was one of those tedious, repetitive things that require a lot of concentration but not a lot of creativity.  It was perfect for how I felt that day.  I just focused on the work and shut out all other distractions and thoughts.  It helped a lot.

Tomorrow my sister goes for another ultrasound at the hospital, as well as a lot of other tests.  As I alluded to earlier, she will be on bed rest for the remainder of her pregnancy– which means I probably will not see her at Thanksgiving.  But I think we all can agree that this is the best for all concerned– her and those precious babies.  I know how badly she wants them, and believe me, we all want them for her just as badly.

So please, keep my sister, her husband, and our family in your prayers for the next few days.  We can use all the good luck we can get right now.  And that would be the best Thanksgiving wish anyone could give us.

And while you’re praying for us… pray for strength!  We’re all going to need it.

Sesame Moments: Monsterpiece Theatre- The Sound of Music

Hi-ho… still on my little hiatus, but I had a few Sesame Moment videos queued up, so I figured I’d share them– rather than keep things dormant. So here we go!

Alastair Cookie introduces the classic musical “The Sound of Music,” starring Grover in Lederhosen, waiting for The Sound of Music. When he hears it, hilarious things happen!

Indefinite Hiatus

Since I can’t think of anything to do lately except post Sesame Street videos and start fake wars with other bloggers… and since nobody seems interested in either… I’m going to take an indefinite hiatus.

See ya when I see ya!