My neighbor died, her funeral was on Monday, I didn't go partially because I dislike funeraly, partially because I don't care for her family, a bit because the weather was rough which meant I felt like garbage, but mostly, because I wanted to remember her the way I had last seen her. With her sitting on her hassock in the hall while I pulled out pillows, blankets, king sized sheets for her queen sized bed, and us talking about the things that us girls liked to chat about. While I was over, she wanted me to take these flour sack towels with the days of the week on them. I don't know why I love flour sack towels so much, maybe they remind me of the good things about my childhood. Maybe they're the best things to dry dishes with. Maybe I love their versatility, their utility, and their plain jane unobtrusiveness. Whatever the reason, I put them in my washer along with her new sheets, added soap, and brought them back to her clean, and folded as well as a nine and an eleven year old can fold things.

Tuesday I did not want to vote. But I dragged myself off of the computer, threw some clothes on, and headed to the bank where we are allowed to vote. I saw a woman from church who had broken her ankle. She's an EMT, she stepped awkwardly on an uneven surface, and laid in a stranger's driveway while the owner, who had called due to heart trouble, was attended to by her partner. I also saw our former pastor, and his wife at the bank. I didn't say go up to greet them when I saw them, but I walked out at roughly the same time he did, so I shook his hand. Our former pastor's wife had never really said very much to me even though I had gone to school with a son of hers, and been a member of the conversation since we moved, so I was a bit surprised when she started talking about my grandfather, who is also a retired pastor.

Sunday evening we went to my aunt's house as my aunt and uncle from California were in town. I hate going to other people's homes when the main dish is something my kids can't have. My oldest daughter refused her chicken, and stared longingly at the pizza as if it were a winning lottery ticket, or a magic wand that would immediately transform her dull gray life into a spectacularly brilliant rainbow colored one. While I was there, I talked to my aunt about my grandfather. He's quite old, and I feel so bad for him because he has output issues, but usually comprehends what people are saying to him. He's trapped in a verbally impaired world, and for someone who made a living speaking in public, I imagine that is very hard on him. He did laugh when I made a comment about some people who wanted him to vote for Barack Obama. My aunt had his voter registration information pulled, and that was hard for me to deal with.

I went to church with my aunt and my grandfather. The print was oversized, the people wore bizarre clothes, some of them hummed, a woman sitting in front of me held the hand of another resident, and it hit me then, that life is really about moments like that. Where nothing matters except the people you're with, and the shared time you have together. After the service, which I cried through as we sang a hymn that my father wants played at his funeral, I went over to visit my aunt for a few minutes. I ended up chatting with her longer than I had expected to, and was almost late picking the girls up from school.

Last year, my yougest daughter's teacher was wonderful. She has celiac disease, and was a tremendous resource for me and my family as we navigated through going gluten free. During parent-teacher conferences we bring in food for the teachers, as I was speaking with her, I realized that she wasn't going to be able to eat the lasagna that everyone else had. I told her I would bring her a meal, forgetting that I needed to be back at school for the conferences we were scheduled to attend. The chicken was not the greatest, I don't eat salad dressing, and I didn't know what she could have, so I put together lettuce, cucumbers, and chopped up a carrot that was on the cusp of needing to be tossed, but I did the best that I could, and I know that she appreciates the effort.

Parent-teacher conferences went better than I had expected. My youngest does very well in school, almost never has homework after, but she has self esteem issues. My oldest struggles more, but thinks better of herself. She's becoming quite the tomboy lately, expressing interest in hunting, fishing, archery, she wants a bow and arrows for Christmas, and she loves her pink John Deere shirt that she wears with her Carhartt camoflage pants. She's been getting up early to do her homework, as long as she gets it done, we don't care when she does it, she had a few things to finish this morning, but so far, it's been going better than me nagging her after school although her clarinet practice has taken a steep slide so she will no longer be allowed to choose when she can practice.

Today I made two types of gluten free bread, and a batch of sweet potato biscuits. The girls tried both breads, and preferred the cheaper easier recipe, hallelujah! In addition to it being crappy bread, the gluten free variety at the store is almost six dollars a loaf, and the loaf is much smaller, and lighter, than a standard loaf of regular bread. A couple weeks ago I ran the food down until our refrigerator was almost bare. It felt so damn good to see the carrots were gone, the apples were finished, we knew what was in the fridge, and the girls had no choice but to finish the foods that were in the fridge since I hadn't purchased anything else.

I had a set back recently in that area with Halloween, but we are slowly getting back on track there. My aunt is quite frugal, and I need to find ways to be more thrifty than I am now. My mother is going to teach me how to knit. My husband's aunt gave me some free raspberry bushes, and I will save quite a bit if I can make bread at home. On my list is finding a local farmer to buy eggs from so we can find a fresher, and hopefully cheaper source, finding more seeds so I can plant a few vegetables next year, and being absolutely ruthless when it comes to bullshit items at the store that aren't really food products. Convenience is expensive, and I don't want to pay for it. I found a recipe for making soap in a crock pot. I don't use mine for food, so I might as well try to save my family money that way.

This coming Sunday is the final parenting class. I've been renting CD's to listen to in my car, for two dollars a week, this is a sound investment. I have learned more about parenting in the past couple weeks, than I've learned since I first found out that I was going to be a mother. I knew a lot about what not to do, but I didn't have the tools I needed to be successful. A couple of classes and CD's are the tiniest tip of the parental iceberg, but this is a step that I hadn't taken before, and boy do I feel good about the new knowledge even as I grit my teeth when my daughters flounce about, argue, or test me.

The class encourages people to find out what others are good at, and praise them in those areas. I'm going to write more about the things I'm good at, and hopefully I'll be able to add 'parent' to that list. By focusing on what people do well, the areas where people perform poorly come up as well. By giving my daughter praise for her A papers, we're building her self image, and her self esteem. Yesterday her teacher said she was the only student with an A+ on her Social Studies test. Her attitude is better, I'm getting along better with her, and the class has made me realize that despite its many challenges, parenting can, and should be, fun.

I'm very tired, my body is sore, and I'd like to write more, but for now, this is it.

I went to the emergency room today. I should have gone right away, but I'm too stubborn and bull-headed sometimes, and I have a pretty messed up perception of what constitutes an emergency, so I didn't.

At Habitat for Humanity this morning, I was cutting drywall for the house we're working on, and I failed to pay appropriate attention to my utility knife for a critical second. That's all it takes when you're not wearing gloves like you know you should be.

I cut my left thumb with the utility knife pretty badly. Finger damage hurts a lot, you've got an incredible concentration of nerve endings in your fingers. Fortunately, we do keep a first-aid kit on site, and I was able to clean and bandage the wound quickly.

There was a lot of blood involved. I have seriously never bled this much before in my life, except when making a blood donation which doesn't count because that's on purpose and the bleeding stops relatively quickly. I had a choice, I could go to the emergency room, or I could just change my bandages and keep it clean until the bleeding stops, and wait for it to heal on its own.

I chose poorly. Seven hours later the bleeding had not stopped, and I had changed the bandages six times. I'm going to estimate I lost half a pint of blood, nothing life threatening but certainly annoying. At this point, I was concerned that the bleeding was not stopping on its own and I finally went to the emergency room.

I mentioned I have poor judgement when it comes to visiting the emergency room. It wasn't a broken bone, or a life-threatening illness, or head trauma, and I wasn't shot. What about this was an "emergency"? I just cut myself, it wasn't life-threatening. People cut themselves every day. Well, it turns out a bad cut like this is a legitimate emergency and I was stupid and stubborn and because of that I lost more blood than I should have and spent several more hours in pain than I needed to.

Emergency rooms can be slow when you have a non-life threatening injury. Hospitals have too many patients and not enough medical professionals. All told, I spent about three hours at the hospital, but at least I'm not bleeding anymore.

After almost an hour in the waiting room, a nurse saw me, removed the gauze I put on my hand, told me I should have come in seven hours ago, re-bandaged it properly (putting more pressure on the wound to stem the bleeding), and set the procedures in motion to fix me.

Most of another hour went by before the hospital was ready to see me. When you're in pain time moves more slowly than usual, unfortunately, and I didn't have much to keep me distracted, so I spent the whole time thinking about how much my thumb hurt. I don't recommend doing that.

They then transferred me to an exam room where I waited some more, filled out some paperwork, gave them my insurance information, and waited some more.

Finally a nice nurse practitioner came in to see me. I went over the story of how I hurt myself again, and when she examined my cut she saw two things I had missed (it's difficult to examine your cut when the blood pools up fast enough to hide the details). First, I had an avulsion injury. That means that I didn't just cut myself, I actually cut off a chunk of thumb. Part of me is now missing. Second, she saw that I had cut a small artery in my thumb, which was why I was soaking my bandages so quickly.

Of course, emergency room staff see much more serious injuries on a daily basis, so this was just routine to them. To me, it was the third worst I'd ever hurt myself (1: extruded hernia in my spine, 2: broken finger after a rollerblading fall) and the most I'd ever bled. She came back later with the tools she would need to fix me and got to work.

First, she injected my thumb with a local anesthetic. This was the most painful part of the procedure, getting the fleshy, sensitive pad of my thumb stabbed with needles three times. It was actually more painful than the cut itself, but, as it was anesthetic, the pain was fleeting. In moments my thumb was numb.

She then gave me two stitches, one to help close the wound and one to close the cut artery. This was the weirdest part of the procedure, as I was very aware of the stitches going in but it didn't hurt. At worst there was a slight sting, but the sensation of pressure was still there and was still telling me things were happening that should hurt, even if it didn't.

Once the procedure actually started, the whole thing was over in minutes. I went through several hours of pain, bleeding, and awkwardly trying to get through my day one-handed which I absolutely did not need to experience. They sent me home with a pill for any lingering pain after the anesthetic wore off and told me to come back on Thursday to have the stitches removed.

To anyone reading this, serious cuts are most definitely an emergency room accident. If the bleeding doesn't stop in a timely manner, get yourself to professional medical help. They have the tools and the experience to help you, that's their job. Don't be stubborn and foolish about it.

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