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4 kittens

Better a bald head.

Posted on 2016.08.08 at 21:28
We have fine-tuned the art of traveling by car during a heat.  We make the kids put on bathing suits in the morning. Mid-afternoon, we target a city big enough to have a splash pad. They run around for an hour, we pick up dinner at some fast food place that supplies toys with its kids meals, and drive the last couple hours to our hotel. We splashed in Billings:

and slept in Sheridan.

In Sheridan,

There was a skybridge over the main drag.

The view was pretty. The hallway was boiling hot and smelled like wax. The combination somehow triggered an intense reverie flashback in me, of summer camp. Of stairwells in dorms that lacked air conditioning, in July. in North Carolina.

The hotel sign loomed large:

Here was the carpet:

 I rather like the second one.

In Cheyenne, Wyoming,

We stopped for lunch. Usually we make sandwiches, but this time we decided to stop at diner that Jammies remembered from childhood. It was the oldest old man diner possible. Here are some of the old man quotes covering the wall:

"God must have loved the plain people, He created so many of them." - Abraham Lincoln
"Better a bald head than none at all" - Austin O'Malley
"My father taught me to work. He did not teach me to love it." - who cares
"The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem." - no they aren't
"The buck stops here." - whatever, Ike
"What this country needs is dirtier fingernails and cleaner minds." - oh shut up.
"I am only an average man, but I work harder than the average man." - congratulations
"There aren't any great men. There are only great challenges that ordinary men like you and me are forced by circumstances to meet." - where are the women?
"Don't believe that the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing; it was here first." - yes but can't we cooperate?
"Nothing helps scenery like ham and eggs." - Mark Twain

Oh my god, old man, shut up with your self-important grandiose old man quotes. Take your stupid dirty fingernails and protestant work ethic and just relax, okay Pops?

All the patrons were creaky elderly country types. The diner was deathly silent. Our kids were like a disco ball of chaos at our table. After Pokey was mildly disobedient, I hauled him outside just to keep up appearances of discipline. Once outside, he and I just walked around to the convenience store and used the bathrooms.

Jammies did in fact say that the country fried steak was every bit as good as he remembered, though. The french fries were excellent, too - lots of potato skins. My salad was shitty iceberg, shredded American cheese, and chopped grilled chicken. If only it had been made with dirtier fingernails and cleaner minds.

In Denver

We frolicked in tony Denver suburbs for a few days. My mom was in Denver to accept a lifetime achievement award on behalf of my grandmother.  Here is the carpet at the convention center:

Amber fields of grains.

Through spacious modern underwater volcanoes,

Above purple-fruited pains.

This is the speech my mom gave, about Grandma:

My mother, Beatrice Geebie, is and was a remarkable woman. Now, at age 98, she lives in an assisted living facility in Madison, Wisconsin. If she could, she would be here today. Today, my mother is a very, very old woman. In this context, I've especially enjoyed reading the vibrant letters she wrote to my father when she was a graduate student in her 20s. In them, she reveals her lifelong compassion for people with problems and her determination to improve their lives. She is an excellent writer, and would later formulate her ideas as Principals. Many, once stated, seem obvious - but they weren't until she wrote them down.

When I was a child, my mother emphasized what I now recognize as her Principals to me and my two brothers. I'll share four of them:
1. Insider's and outsider's perspective: the insider has reasons and explanations for why he or she does something. THe outsider only sees the actions and makes conclusions about intent.
2. Labels: it's a person with a disability, not a disabled person.*  When you say "a disabled person", the focus is on the limitations. When you say "a person with a disability", the person becomes the focus.
3. Environment: the environment, both physical and social, has a tremendous effect. Often you can tell more about what a peron will do by knowing their environment than by knowing personality characteristics. At a football game, everyone stands and cheers when their team makes a goal. A person in a wheelchair can't enter a building with only stairs at the entrance.
4. Evaluation: look for a client's strengths, not just problems. When working with a client you work from the strengths to help with the problems.

My mother liked to have her students do real-life exercises. One remains vivid to me: a pair of students was asked to go into a store as if they were going to buy shoes. The student who wanted shoes was in a wheelchair, the other pushed the wheelchair. What happened? The shoe store clerk only talked to the student who pushed the chair. This was an impactful learning experience for the students. The students' comments about the clerk: "The clerk probably felt uncomfortable talking to the wheelchair-bound student","The clerk probably considered the student disabled and not a student with a disability","This negative label spread and the clerk acted as if someone in a wheelchair couldn't make choices or decisions".

When I visited my mother in May, I asked her what she would like me to say on her behalf when accepting this award. That didn't get any traction. Then I asked her what she would like me to tell Heebie, her granddaughter, about her work. I quote what she said:

"Don't make any inferences about what a person can and cannot do. Ask the person him or herself what he or she can or cannot do. The reason is the person without the disability will tend to exaggerate the limitations of the disability. So if you ask the person with the disability, you get a realistic statement about what heor she can or cannot do. In other words, it depends on the person: the inside perspective is the person with the disability. The outside perspective is the person who doesn't have the disability.

Thank you.

*[I know, this is now contested. But Grandma was one of the first psychologists to study the social impact of having a disability and let's cut her some slack, it was the 50s. - heebie]

Another award acceptee quoted Woodrow Wilson: It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit. Another one translated from Yiddish, Your tuchus can only sit in one seat.

But the best was this line, from the bio of some awardee dude's who I never heard of: Grasping the impact of his work is best achieved by imagining the counterfactual condition that would exist had he not creatively pursuedhis agenda. I never heard of you, dude. I'm living your counterfactual dream!

Four years ago, we were in the same convention center in Denver, celebrating my uncle.  Hawaii and Pokey were the same ages as Ace and Rascal are now:

Argh I'm dying. How could they be so little?!

Grandma was also at that conference:

That was back when she had her memory. There's photos of my other uncle, (not the one that was being celebrated), being healthy, before he became very sick with multiple myeloma (although he'd had it for several years at that point.)(He is currently in remission, having recieved one of these experimental procedures like Jimmy Carter got. Quality of life is better but not great.)

Argh, I'm getting swamped with memories.

To Amarillo, to Wichita Falls

After Denver, we did the same splash pad and drive routine, stopping in Amarillo to splash:

and spending the night in Wichita Falls.

Jammies said, “Is that car full of five twelve-year-olds?!”

I took a photo:

“I think they’re puppy dogs,” I said. “Five little puppy dogs driving to Wichita Falls.”

The water in our hotel room tasted like a rusty sweatsock, with strong swampy notes and an algae bloom bouquet. It was so gross that I worried it was unsafe. It was so gross that at breakfast, the coffee tasted rotten and so did the orange juice.

And home again:

The last thing to happen was this:

Jammies bought this ghastly thing for me, because I am one, I suppose.

Now we're home! Today was the worst. We were all so sick of being in the car. We griped and fought, misbehaved and screamed, and got screamed at. It's nice to be home.

Remember my back and neck spasms? This is the anticlimactic resolution: Alleve. Naproxen sodium. It treated the symptoms and somehow cured the underlying thing.

If you’ll note, we did not stay in the Fifth Season Hotel this trip. My beloved Fifth Season.  It’s just that I realized that having a pool at the hotel is not helpful on a road trip, because it's the beginning or end of the day. It’s far more helpful to have a pool or playground in the middle of the day. That way you can drive with tired kids, which is ideal.


(Anonymous) at 2016-08-09 14:17 (UTC) (Link)


Yay! My update!

Dr. Skull also loves old man diners.

(me, delagar)
heebie_geebie at 2016-08-09 17:27 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yay!

I think I love them when I don't have small children with me, but it's hard to remember. It's possible that I like late-night ratty diners and diners that serve a younger, beer-drinking clientele more than actual old man diners. I feel judged by old country men.
(Anonymous) at 2016-08-10 21:57 (UTC) (Link)

Wow, that hat

I forget that normal people can buy hats at convenience stores. My head is too large and I have to special order them. (It might be for the best that my wife had a c-section because lilgirl's head was in the 99.99th percentile.

That sky-bridge is mega-cool.

(Anonymous) at 2016-08-12 00:27 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Wow, that hat

I love this strategy. Our relations are all on the opposite coast and so we're *never* driving over to visit them. ON THE OTHER HAND, we may do a New England or more Northerly vacation in the near future and might try that!
heebie_geebie at 2016-08-15 04:30 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Wow, that hat

Try it out and report back! Splash pads really have become ubiquitous.
heebie_geebie at 2016-08-15 04:29 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Wow, that hat

Normal people can, but that doesn't mean they should...

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