30 days

30 days ago, charlie was in a medically induced come with a slim prognosis. 30 days ago, we weren’t sure the old charlie would be back in our lives – if he lived, who would he be. 30 days ago, we were expecting the worst – wheelchair, feeding tube, mental differences. 30 days ago, we weren’t sure what was happening. 30 days ago, I, my family, his friends, lots of acquaintances, and even some people we didn’t know were devastated. so 30 days ago, i started telling stories about charlie. and here we are at the end of 30 days.

what did we learn?

a lot can happen in 30 days. 

news spread, and soon my sisters and i were inundated with facebook messages and emails from people he knew or used to know or was close to or had fallen out of touch with. 

a lot of you sent mail.

a lot of you gave money ($3000!). 

but everyone waited to see what would happen, breath held, tears in eyes, heart clutched, prayers whispered, prayers shouted, zen vibes flowing. 

and he woke up, brain raring to go. it was a step. but we waited a little more. 

and he woke up a little more and recognized the people around him. my sisters and i were about to leave for the hospital when we got a phone call the morning our mom and aunt rae went to the hospital and cha squeezed mom’s hand when asked. we shouted and cried happy tears and jumped in a giant 3-sided hug in jane’s driveway. but we still waited a little more.

and he pulled out his respirator and started talking. it was a little scary; he was still drugged up and have delusionary dreams but very polite. both sides of his body worked and he could talk and he knew who was who. and so we waited some more.

12308697_10200983497506849_2275907210570899225_nthen they sent him to rehab, where he stayed for a short amount of time before they sent him home. from the neck down, charlie was pretty ok. he could follow directions and knew how to deal with everyday tasks. so he went home. now it was a process of his brain healing and seeing when the piece of skull would go back in, which would take some time. so we plan on waiting.

today he had surgery to take care of air on the brain. it went well. he’ll have the skull replaced in a couple months. his brain is making progress. one day at a time, charlie will slowly be coming back. and we’ll be here, waiting, waiting. 

a lifetime can happen in 30 days.

not out of the woods

today my mom took charlie back up to regions hospital where they have his skull flap piece in frozen storage. yesterday he’d had the worst headache he’d ever had and nausea, so they went in to mayo, where they told him he had air on the brain. bad news. tomorrow they will get in his head and see what needs to be done about the air on the brain. 

so we’ve gone over charlie’s previous encounters with car accidents; let’s pause for a moment on previous head injuries. well, just one for now.

cha’s always hung out with people who are highly suggestive, and he is highly suggestible. in gradeschool at religion classes, it was nothing to see him and his friend dustin racing wheeled office chairs down the church halls. even now, it’s nothing to get him to try something a little questionable. last summer at a family reunion, his cousins (and brother-in-law…) got him to hitch himself to a tent fly and jump off a small hill during one of the windy evenings.

scooterso when his gradeschool friends brought up the idea of flying headfirst into a wall on one of those roller scooters everyone’s used in gym class, he was all over that.

thankfully, someone had the foresight to make him put on a helmet. 

so his friends rolled him toward the wall and he ran into it (with the helmet). next thing you know, he’s in the nurse’s office and mom has been called. after a visit to the doctor, turns out he definitely smashed a vertebrae. 

and to this day, we keep reminding him he could’ve been a half an inch taller. (or a baller. or had a girl who looked good; he would call her. a rabbit? a hat? a bat? a ’64 impala!)

thanksgiving food

thanksgiving! i made a tart! and also jane and i spatchcocked a turkey!

tart crust

i made a pumpkin pecan tart from martha stewart that i was highly skeptical of because it used sweetened condensed milk. i should’ve know martha wouldn’t have let me down. it was delish! 5 stars; would make again. i bought a tart pan specifically for this, and it worked swimmingly. perhaps i’ll be making more tarts in the future!

now on to the turkey. i wanted to make a spatchcock turkey last year, but i just didn’t get to it. so this year, i made a point of doing it. i brined my turkey like usual, then jane i hacked away at the spine to get it out. and you know what? a flattened 20-lb bird is darn big. so we cut down the breast bone as well so we had two halves of the bird. 

spine

then, i seasoned it using my herbs de provence recipe like always, then shoved the two halves into the oven on two different baking sheets. still took up a lot of room, but at least the oven racks were in reasonable positions. 

halfraw

the nice thing about a spatchcock turkey? it was done in about an hour and a half (and probably could’ve come out earlier).

half1

mmmmm! turkey was a success!

where november went

i’m baffled that it’s almost december. in my head, it’s barely mid-october; my halloween was interrupted, and the weather sure isn’t helping. so now that thanksgiving is over the the department stores have decided it’s christmas time, i’m wondering how that even happened. 

on the plus side, the days start getting longer in a little less than a month, and shortly there after is actual christmas. maybe by then the weather will have settled into a colder pattern and there might be snow on the ground. (speaking of which, i need to figure out if my snowblower runs.)

i know where november went; i just wish my internal clock would catch up with the news. 

 

seasons wax and wane

bud to leaf to husk to sleep

it’s november yet

 

cooking break

tonight we’re taking a break from charlie posts to write about what we’re eating tomorrow for thanksgiving. i like t-day because it’s my time to shine! i love cooking.

  • spatchcock turkey (we’ll see how this goes)
  • dressing
  • potatoes/gravy
  • squash
  • sweet potato casserole
  • green vegetables of some variety
  • rolls
  • cranberry orange sauce
  • pumpkin pie
  • pumpkin pecan tart

jane came tonight and the dressing, cranberry sauce, and squash are done. i made a pie and a tart last night. maybe i’ll try to get some pics tomorrow!

and we still celebrate!

welp, liz is still contracting with no baby out yet. charlie is sleeping 18 hours a day. and we’re going to have thanksgiving on thanksgiving, i guess! we’ll see how jane and i do.

(i know we’ll do fine. i did thanksgiving on my own back in 2011. that may have been the easiest thanksgiving ever! i ate at the time i wanted to eat, took pictures along the way, and it was grand.)

tonight i made a pumpkin pecan tart for the first time ever. we’ll see if it was worth it to replace the pecan pie. then i decided to make two pumpkin pies for the heck of it.

why? cuz we like to eat (that’s why i run), and although life has thrown a lot of crap at us the past month, and i mean a lot (5 other things on top of cha), there’s still a TON to be grateful for. 

let’s spatchcock this turkey. BRING IT ON.

to all the cars i’ve ever known!

while charlie was in high school, i was out in the world working and dealing with crappy roommates and meeting nate and all that jazz. i wasn’t in new london and hearing everything that happened to charlie on a daily basis. 

oh sure, i heard the highlights. his friends drinking cough syrup and him abstaining (“i don’t need cough syrup to get my jollies”); his encounter with a girlfriend’s enraged father (i hear he barely made it out in his skivvies [heh, barely]); the summer from hell in colorado helping paul hardwick stripping wallpaper (…or something…). 

and then there were the cars. 

i think it all started with liz’s buick. (yes, liz had a buick. this is what happens when norm wallace decides to buy you a car: he buys you a car HE wants.) charlie crashed the buick, on an icy patch if i remember correctly. this turned out happy for liz because she got to put some money toward a car SHE wanted (a white mazda), but it started a chain of events that were undeniably weird.

then during the prom parade around green lake, charlie ran his buddy jimmy’s cadillac into the car in front of him. granted, they were only going like 15mph, but he still did some damage. 

and then there was the time he ran into a deer with the jimmy’s pizza owner’s van while delivering a pizza. (NOT technically his fault.)

after all that, my parents decided it was a good idea to buy him his own car for some reason (all their daughters had to wait until college to get a car). i had put a good amount of money into my chevy celebrity to fix the rack and pinion, but i was still looking to buy a new car. so dad bought my celebrity that i would have sold either way, and charlie got my old chev celeb. which he then ran into a light post in the local lutheran church parking lot.

and EVEN THEN, the parental units got him another car. (i dunno; at this point it may have been prudent to think about letting him ride with friends or suffer the indignity of driving the wallace safari van.) (also, there is something weird about this. it kind of irks me. but you can read about that here.)

the next car was a nifty little manual black mazda, sunroof, drove well, for $500. good little car! well, cha decided it was a good idea to race his buddy (jimmy again, i think) around green lake. along the northeast end, there was a holding pond next to a curve and an intersection. charlie had passengers, and took the curve too aggressively and ended up crashing the car into the pond. after many people looked at the crash site, they all agreed it was a complete act of god/higher power/allah/earth mother that they didn’t end up upside down and all drowning. 

that’s what it took. charlie didn’t get another car until after college. biking works. 

so you can see the complete irony here with his car accident. here’s hoping his next car will last him a very long time, and he’ll be able to sell it to some teenager when he’s ready to upgrade.

a whirlwind

when it rains, it pours? 

so here’s what’s happened in the last 23 days.

  1. charlie, obviously, is the huge one. now that he’s home, it’s weird looking back and thinking his entire ordeal so far has only been 23 days. unreal. 
  2. my cousin on my dad’s side had been battle cancer for a long time, and they quit chemo last month. just two weeks ago she was given one-and-a-half to two weeks to live. she died last tuesday and her funeral was on friday.
  3. liz is at the hospital as we speak ready to give birth to a kid. at least this one is a big positive!

so yeah. not quite sure why everything is happening right now. wow. at least we’re in the home stretch?

Tractor Trouble

guest post by jane!

Living in Austin for the first 7 years of my life didn’t leave many memories. I have more memories of living in New London (and almost none from living in Spicer). 

But one specific memory (and possibly more will pop up as I write this), involved Charlie, myself, and a couple of tractors. We were gathering for something or other at Colettie’s home away from home on the George and Kathleen farm, a little half house connected to the garages set back near the barn and silo. Charlie and I were young. I couldn’t put an age to it; younger than 10 but older than 5. I’m not sure if we had already moved north, or were still living at the Red House down the road. What I do know is we were not old enough to drive tractors.
 
Being of small body and short-spanned mind, Charlie and I got bored with the adult talk at the gathering and asked to go outside. I believe it was summer because I don’t remember wearing a coat out the door. One of the main attractions on Kathleen and George’s farm is the barn, where all the hay is stacked, the cows eat, and the tractors live. I even got to name a cow once, but that’s another story. I wonder what happened to Red.
 
I digress. Charlie and I bee-lined it for the barn, saying hello to the cows that were lunching, breathing deeply to take in the strong hay and slight manure smell that comes with any farm. I might have suggested playing on the hay bales. I may have even suggested naming another cow. Charlie had a better idea. Let’s play on the tractors! There were at least two, one for each of us, and I took the front one. Charlie took the one behind, and wouldn’t you know, someone left the keys in it. I protested the idea of turning it on, but Charlie must have had a convincing argument. Or he did it without asking.
 
barn

the scene of the crime

 

Either way, the tractor was on, and Charlie pushed the buttons in the right order to make it move. Who knew tractors could move so fast! Before I knew it, Charlie had rammed his tractor into the back of mine, jolting us a bit. I’m sure we had looks of panic on our faces. I’m sure we were nervous about getting in trouble. Before we could do more than blink at each other, a horde of adults stormed the barn with their own looks of panic and nerves. I remember George leading the pack with a look of terror on his face. Knowing tractors like he does, the noise we’d created probably brought the worst to mind. 
 
We were quickly collected from the tractors and given a stern talking to about not playing around the farm equipment. At that point, I’m sure we were corralled back to the homestead away from anything that ran on gas. 
 
I don’t remember much else about the day, just that we were lucky we didn’t injure ourselves. That might have been Charlie’s first run in with a vehicular accident. Who knew it would preface a lifetime of such events? (editor’s note: lifetime indeed – more on that later.)