The view

Dsc03858In light of all the front door views and back yard views around the blogs over the past few weeks (which I've both participated in and enjoyed immensely), I laughed when I saw that Katie had posted, surely through some kind of osmosis, a picture with the caption, "The view from our lodge, Ireland."  Not difficult to see why she'd even think to take a picture -- it's so peaceful!  Do you see the specks on the grass across the water?  It's surely more sheepies!

Dsc03927This one makes me smile, too.  "Aran Islands in the distance through the snow from the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland."  I'm not sure whether I'm seeing islands or what, but I love it.  ; )  She called last night with a question about yarn -- she is on the hunt for something special and memorable for both of us!

I've finished the pink stealth knitting and have started another blue blanket square for Christine's "Comforting Jef" project (which may, with any luck, also extend to "Comforting Mike"!).  There's a good week and a few days of knitting left before I'll have to get these in the mail so she has them by the deadline on the 24th.  I knit a whole square listening to podcasts the other day, but I was so tired last night I had to hit the hay early.  I'm using some navy blue Debbie Bliss Merino Aran that I actually used to knit a sweater once, but it was too small so I frogged the entire thing.  It's great yarn.  Each square has a simple cable design because, well, I like that cable action!

Still prayin'.   ; )

Kicking up my heel

I'm (stealth) knitting something pink and also working something blue, but neither is for a baby and I don't have pics.  Bleh, I'm a little wrung out these days.  I worked on the something blue last night while listening to a couple of About Time podcasts -- the first one, "Christmas Presents," and the fourth/special edition, "Knitting Olympics."  Yeah, I've got some catching up to do.  I'm still feeling the flush of Olympic victory, though, so I'm not tired of hearing about it even though it's over; and Stephanie is just a kick.

I used a 20-dollar bill while knitting at the hospital yesterday to determine that the leg of my sock was 6" and it was an okay time to start the heel.  Woo.  My SIL was knitting, too; concentration (or lack there of) allows just a plain ol' garter stitch dishcloth, but that's great.  Turns out she knits continental and learned in high school home ec.

So we're talking about knitting and where we learned and my mother asked me where I learned to knit.

Huh?  My mother doesn't remember teaching me how to knit.  ; (  She doesn't really remember learning how to knit herself, though, either.  (I remember the circumstances better than she does!)  Her mother knit, but didn't want to teach any of her kids because she was left-handed and didn't want to "pass it on" or whatever.  Turns out my mom is left-handed, anyway, but the nuns made her learn to write right-handed and so, really, she's ambidextrous, but favors each hand for different tasks; she eats and bowls as a leftie, knits (she's a thrower) and writes as a rightie.  Anyway, it was a neighbor lady in Highland Park, Illinois, who taught my mom to knit (and that's when Mom taught me) in return for my mother teaching her how to sew.  Mom later took a knitting class, in the late '70s/early '80s, and that's what she remembered... until yesterday when I set the record straight!

So, anyway, I'm kicking up my heel about a couple of things.  First, please go give a warm blogland welcome to "Mary in Boston" -- she is Cardigirl!  Woo!  Woo!  Woo!  Mary has read and commented on my blog for a while now, and I was most happy to have met her at Rhinebeck last October.  She's the first person to ever recognize me from the blog.  ; )  I have had occasion to hear from some other new bloggers recently and hope to introduce you to some of them soon.  I'm always changing up the old Bloglines list, so check it out anytime.

I'm also kicking up my heels because we were able to see my brother's face yesterday.  He was still way, way out of it, but what a difference it makes.  His uber-swollen lip, which was even beginning to split, has gone down considerably with the binding tape removed.  They performed a tracheostomy yesterday, allowing the apparatus to be removed from his mouth and he is now breathing on his own to a degree, with assistance from the ventilator.  They also inserted a feeding tube directly into his stomach.  They'll begin using that tube today and then, folks, we're hoping for a poop.  Yeah... When's the last time I prayed for a poop?  (Did I ever??)

When I was 16, one of my sisters and I spent a summer living with our dad in northern Wisconsin.  I decided to stay and finish school there -- I was a senior and, dammit, I was ready for change, ready to live my life.  Being 16, I didn't think and/or care a whit about the rest of my family or my friends -- at that time, at that age, it was all about ME.  I don't think that I would change it, even if I could, because of the experiences I had, friends I made, lessons learned, but I am sorry about some things and that I was such a teen-aged ass.

One day, in the middle of the year, the phone rang.  I answered it and it was a guy:  "Is Vicki there?"  It was a very, very low voice and I didn't recognize it

"Who is this?"

Very, very low voice:  "It's Mike."

(Mike... Mike... Mike...  It's not my brother, he's only 13!  Mike...Mike... there's a Mike in my class (pant-pant-pant)... Could it be that Mike?... Would he call me?... Is there a dance?... Why would he call me???)

"Mike who?"

Very, very low voice:  "It's Mike... your brother!"

I do not remember a thing about why he was calling, but I sure do remember the call.

Trash talk

Dsc03921One of many breathtaking pictures that Katie took from (or of) the Cliffs of Moher last weekend.  She had a great time in Ireland with four mates and a rented car; they stayed in an adorable little lodge and traipsed around the countryside.

Dsc03917Oh, okay, here's one more (as always, click for big).  Y'all know what I'm thinking when I see ones like these, don't you?  "Oh, Sandy would LOVE this!"

Dsc03972Katie knows what her mum likes, too -- and what she likes to share with her friends!  She calls this one, "Sheepies in Blarney, Ireland."  I love that; my girl calls them "sheepies."

Dsc03988And you know what else they have in Blarney?  Mwah!

* * * * *

I'm relieved that my SIL's sister has arrived and will be here all week.  It's a good week for her to be here.  My brother will have a tracheotomy tomorrow, so that he need not be intibated anymore and also allowing them to reduce the sedation medication.  They're hoping to do surgery tomorrow to fix the C7.  It's still all about patience and prayers.

One of Mom's favorites was when "John and Joe" would play Garbage Man.  They'd even take time off from their hard work and go fishing.  Annie would sit on the basement steps with a "fishing pole," the line dangling over the side -- Michael would, too, if he was able to talk one of us girls into helping out.  We would tie a stuffed animal to the end of the line and give it a good tug, or if we couldn't be talked into it, Mike would do it just for Ann.  "Wow!  You got a big one, Joe!!"


Won't you be my neighbor?  Did you traipse around in peoples' back yards yesterday on Becky's Back Yard Field Trip?  What a fine virtual neighborhood we make, populated by some very fine and extraordinary people!  There are some late entries, so check the list again.  It was a blast and a nice way to spend a Sunday morning.  It looks like Becky will continue with a monthly-on-a-Sunday-morning themed picture post; I couldn't be happier about that.

Dsc06705We had a little snow since y'all were over visiting yesterday.  It started in the late afternoon and it was still snowing this morning -- and it's still snowing now!  I love the "blue period" that often occurs at this time of year, both in the morning and in the evening, when everything outside is blue -- it never lasts long, but it seems magical somehow. Dsc06704There are of the "lower yard" and were taken this morning from the end of the back porch.  Tomorrow it's supposed to be sunny and then it's going to warm up and be rainy -- this is all going to turn ugly pretty soon.

When Mom and I arrived at the hospital yesterday, we rounded the corner to the ICU waiting area and immediate spotted my SIL with knitting needles and yarn every-which-way.  She had just finished ripping, having cast on 27 of the required 30 stitches for her dishcloth and coming up short on the tail end.  She's not sure she can concentrate enough for a 6-stitch, 6-row repeat -- pshaw, we said, garter stitch makes a nice cloth, too.  She seemed happy enough to put it away and talk for a while instead.  I'm so thankful that her sister is arriving later today.  I can be the boss of my brother, but I'm not comfortable being the boss of her -- and I think she needs to be bossed, even for just a day.

My own knitting?  Slow, slow progress on that Trekking sock...

Grocery shopping with five kids in a six-year range was an odyssey for our mother.  I remember that we'd get half-way through the store and the cart would be full, so one of us older girls would be sent to get another.  She bought at least four gallons of milk each time, and I recall the total for two heaping-full carts of groceries being around $60.00.  When he was little, my brother was very well acquainted with the managers of all of our favorite grocery stores because, inevitably, Mom would have to take him back to apologize and return and/or pay for the candy bar he'd stolen.  It's a wonder she didn't start to strip-search him before we even left.  He had the stickiest fingers ever!

Field Trip!

There's a path behind my house that is often used by kids from a nearby elementary school when they are on their way to a nearby nature center or the creek for a field trip.  I am always delighted to hear their chatter and giggles and watch them (they usually don't notice me) as they make their way.

Today, it's a field trip, at the suggestion of Becky (go see hers!), to my back yard from the comfort of your own computer desk!

Dsc06699 Dsc06700

On the left is the view with my back to the back door -- and it's actually on the east side of the house.  Yes, we're livin' on the edge!  On the very bottom left you see a corner of the house -- there's a window on that wall into the living room.  Down two steps to the path which leads to the garage that DH and I built a few years ago and there's the "deck" we built even fewer years ago -- I'm going to a pergola over that thing this summer if it kills me!  See the plates along the edge of the deck?  You also see the roof of a playhouse that DH built for the girls when they were little -- it used to sit where the corner of the garage is now (when we had a yard and no garage) before it was displaced.  Beyond that is "over the river and through the woods" to the great beyond.  My location is one of the very best things about where I live and in the summer, when there are leaves on those trees, you can hardly see any of that -- it is very private.

To the right, you see down my back porch.  It used to be a big, L-shaped enclosed porch, but we did some remodeling and reclaimed some of it for use in the house (kitchen table) and opened up the rest.  I stripped at least 10 coats of paint off of each of those pillars with a putty knife and heat gun; they were reclaimed from a house that was being demolished.  I had a really good right pec that summer!  The birdfeeder used to be at the far corner of the deck, but it was also displaced.  You also see the top of a set of handrails for the stairway that leads to my literal back yard, a.k.a. "the lower yard."  There's a perennial garden down there.

Dsc06701Here's a view from the end of the porch back toward the playhouse/deck/garage.  We have done a lot of work on that yard in the 19 years we've lived here -- including a rebuild of that retaining wall practically from scratch.  There used to be an iron railing affixed to a concrete cap at the top of that wall -- I can barely remember it -- and the first spring we were here, DH, acting like a 12-year-old (it happens), went out and started pulling/pushing on it in a "I wonder what would happen..." kind of way.  Well, guess what happened?  The railing broke apart and the whole thing went tumbling down the ravine!  He could do nothing but watch those big rocks tumble and roll at the bottom of the hill.  He had to bring every single one of them back up again, too.

* * * * * *

I saw Michael only briefly yesterday, but he was off the ventilator at the time and the nurse was "jazzed" at how well he was doing.  I don't know how long he was off, but they're working up to an hour on, an hour off at this point -- and they'd like him to be resting comfortably during that hour off.  That's a goal.  He's not really there yet.  I think they'd also like to do surgery to fix that C7 as soon as they can, too.  I made him a card, using that picture of us that I posted the other day, and read it to him before tacking it up on the small bulletin board in his room; it said, "I can be the boss of you!  Get better -- fast!"  He tries to open his eyes and his wife said that they maintained eye contact for a short while yesterday -- he's so drugged up, though, it's really hard to know whether things register.  I hope so.  I think he has a sense of all the people who get "jazzed" about him.

There is an enclosed mall in our area, one of the first enclosed malls in the country -- it recently closed and will likely be razed, likely replaced by condos or something.  When we first moved to the area, that mall was thriving.  There were restaurants, specialty shops, clothing stores, a grocery store at one end (Kroger's!), a drug store, barber and beauty shops, and our dentist (ick).  Mom always had Mike's hair cut in an "English school boy" style and, with red hair and freckles on that round face, he was adorable.  When he was about 8, Mom decided that he was old enough to go to the barber by himself while she did some other shopping, assuming the barber would take his cue from Michael's current style.  What she didn't count on was Michael ordering up something completely different!  She didn't even recognize him with his new "buzz" when they passed each other in the mall.

Take note

Remember The View last month?  Well, tomorrow it's a Field Trip -- I absolutely LOVE this idea.  I think it was just last week (or maybe the week before) that I was email-dreaming with Carole, imagining a bus full of knit-bloggers on tour, touring each other's homes (show me the yarn -- and the antiques -- and then let's have cake and cookies), stopping at LYSs and fiber shops along the way, spotting farms with sheep, knitting...  Anyway, I'll be participating in "The Knit-bloggers' Back Yard Field Trip," and I hope you will, too.  (Y'all know who has one of the best "back yards" around, don't you?  And the best pictures of it, too!)

Jefbutton_2I'd also like to point you in the direction of Christine -- here, here (adorable picture alert!), and here, and finally, here.  She is collecting blue knitted squares to make into a blanket for her brother, Jef; in fact, the project is called "Comforting Jef" (see the snazzy button?).  In that last entry, she wrote that she hoped to have too many squares -- enough to perhaps make a second blanket for my brother; that would be "Comforting Mike."  She didn't tell me about that, though she has been leaving me comments, so I ran across it in my regular blog reading and... Wow, Christine, I am verklempt.  Just when I think I'm verklempt enough, I get verklempter.  Christine and I are fairly new to each other's blogs, I think it's likely a happy (and hopefully lasting) side effect of the Knitting Olympics.  Thank you, Christine, for such a sweet thought.  I'll definitely be knitting blue for your brother.  Comfort.

I'm really torn about the blogging, blogging about my brother, specifically.  His recovery could be very, very, v.e.r.y. long -- he could be in ICU for a long time, with no real change.  Or he could wake up tomorrow.  His wonderful p.m. nurse of the last few days gave us a bit of a reality check yesterday, and I'm glad.  The bottom line is, there is no "timeline," everything is dependent on something else; there is a process to recovering from major head trauma and he has to work his way through it; he hasn't responded to commands the past few days, but it's hard to draw any conclusions about anything right now -- No One Knows.  It is very scary.  And maybe I should just not be blogging about him.  I don't want to be the Bummer Blog, I want you all to come and visit me over here (because, really, I am all about the comments and the visiting), I don't want you all to not know what to say or to feel uncomfortable, I don't want to make you sad, but I know, too, that a lot of you are enjoying my little stories.  Maybe I should put that part in "extended entry" or something, or not do it everyday.  I don't know.

When Michael was on the cusp of adolescense, our then single-mother struggled with how to talk to him about the facts of life.*  Right about then, she came home with the book, "Where Did I Come From?" and sat us all down to read it to us.  I was 16 at the time (yeah), so Mike was 12.  When she got to the part about men having er*ctions, he innocently and enthusiastically blurted out, "Hey, that happens to me!!"  Naturally, we all responded with fits of giggles.  The poor, poor kid... it's a wonder he turned out at all.

*We were really a family of innocents.  Just a few years earlier, the older sister and brother of a friend of mine actually had me believing that every night before bed their mother told them one fact of life, as if there was some master checklist somewhere.

I think I like it

Dsc06697 This is the Trekking sock I'm working on -- color 128, mostly brown, black, and white, but with that little stripe of very pale orange/salmon.  I got a little further than this last night, but still only one bright stripe!

Dsc06680Maddy has a birthday party to go to this weekend.  She said that the girl pictured on the invite is not the birthday girl, but looks just like her.  She found a doll, some scraps of this and that, and transformed it into a damn good likeness, if I may say, complete with presentation box.  I'm completely blown away by the cleverness and creativity of my girls sometimes -- all three!  It's one thing to have a bright idea, another to try and do it, but it's a whole different stratosphere to actually pull it off, and they do!  Wow.

Vicki_mikeI was only about 3-1/2 when my brother was born and there's a set of twin girls in between.  Fortunately, for my mother, he was a very good, very happy baby -- he's got a huge smile on nearly every picture, lighting it up.  I think we were living in St. Louis at the time of this photo -- love the fireplace!  I think I may have doted on him, too, because there seem to be a fair number of pictures of the two of us.

They reintibated with a larger tube yesterday -- the swelling has gone down, plus they didn't know the extent of cervical damage and wanted to use a smaller tube at first.  They also removed the dressing from his head and why, oh, why didn't they just shave off all of his hair?  It looks ridiculous.  I suppose it serves as something of a distraction from that awful, horseshoe-shaped incision and everything else going on up there.  Oy.  He's also got the fattest lip I've ever seen -- I guess it was mostly covered by bandages before.  One of his bandmates calls him "Lips" sometimes, because my brother does have rather full lips, but now there's new meaning.  ; )  This friend went with my SIL yesterday to see the car and take pictures; they said that there isn't room for a person in there.  I can only surmise that Michael didn't see it coming, didn't have time to brace himself for impact or get tense; he must have been so relaxed that his body just went with it.  Oy oy oy.

The brace arrived yesterday and, after some fine tuning, it was fitted last night.  In another odd turn, the man who made the brace was a classmate of Michael's; Mom had put up a 20-year-old photo of Mike's band and the guy recognized them.  When I spoke with the nurse this morning, she said that he's intermittently restless; that it's darn hot under that brace, so no wonder he's uncomfortable; they're backing off on the sedation; raising his head up more; he opens his eyes.  Another CT scan is on the schedule for today.  I will be going up later.

Our parents woke us up and brought us all downstairs in our pajamas to watch the moon landing on the TV in our family room.  Those were the days when television sets were brought from the AV Room to the classroom and we dropped everything and gathered 'round to watch rockets take off -- live; Walter Cronkite reporting and all that stuff.  Gives me goosebumps -- it was so exciting!  Mike used to play "John and Joe" with Annie, our little sister; John and Joe were many, many things, and most memorable among them was Astronaut.  I'll try to describe some of the most precious Super 8 footage my dad ever took:

John and Joe, astronauts, had their air packs on their backs (rectangular sofa pillows in big brown plaid) and their helmets on (large, shallow, plastic bowls with the bottoms cut out for their faces to shine through).  They're strapped into the cockpit of their rocket (a green leather recliner) and Michael pulls back the throttle (a small, black comb) -- you can't actually hear him, and yet you can... he's making the sounds of a rocket on take-off, and nudging Annie so she does her part, her feet twitching wildly, her curly pigtails bobbing -- she's ready to explode herself!  Michael hadn't finished speech therapy yet, so he still curled his tongue all up funny inside his mouth, and you can almost feel the spray of take-off, too.  After a few minutes, they landed, emerging from the rocket to slowly and carefully explore the surface of "the moon."


Shirley Shrugs for Mom is getting too big to be portable knitting and requires more concentration than I can muster for knitting at the moment, at least while I'm at the hospital, so I started a pair of socks.  I know I was going to use some of JessaLu's beautiful, spring-colored yarn for the next pair, but I decided instead to use a ball of the self-patterning Trekking XXL that my sister gave me for Christmas.  She's been asking me about it (she gave me two different balls) and I knew that I'd be seeing her.  I am using a simple ribbing pattern, but wonder if I shouldn't just be knitting a plain ol' stockinette stitch sock with that yarn.  I'll keep going for a bit yet to see how it looks, but I'm prepared to rip it.

Mom has given up on the baby blanket she started for Mack, and my sister is finishing it for him herself.  Instead, Mom's working on what started out as a dishcloth, but is growing into a scarf.  It's a simple six-stitch, six-row repeat that is both engaging and mindless and hey, whatever.

Mom and I both did a little knitting yesterday, and my SIL looked on with interest.  She and my brother have been working on a big latch hook project, but it's too big to lug around.  She said that she hasn't knit in ages, but maybe she should take it up again now -- she wasn't sure she'd remember how to cast on.  We were all over that!  I stopped at the LYS on the way home and bought some nice Brittany Birch needles for her.  I typed up the pattern (with clip art!) on an index card and printed it out last night.  Mom had an extra ball of cotton and I threw in one that I had, too, and made a nice little package for my SIL that Mom will deliver this morning -- and she'll show her how to cast on.

I didn't get the "pooh-pooh" I might have when I uttered the words "dishcloth cotton" on the premises, but I would like to suggest that while an LYS may not wish to carry "dishcloth cotton" as regular inventory, it wouldn't hurt to have a few balls behind the counter.  No doubt my needs could have easily and inexpensively been filled at a Big Box, I was in no humor for that kind of nonsense nor for schlepping all over creation.  Truthfully, when I think "yarn," no matter what kind, it's an LYS that comes to mind first, not Big Box.

I spoke with a CCU nurse early this morning and she said that there has been no change in Michael's condition -- and that's okay.  They've kept him heavily sedated.  She said that hopefully the brace will come today.  We're thinking that their anticipation for the arrival of the brace means that they want to wake him up and get him up for a while... for various reasons and scenarious that occur to even my non-medical mind.  Oh, this slow, step-by-step, waiting stuff is HARD!

Thank you for your continued prayers and thoughts and well wishes.  It really does help.

Michael had a lot of fun with Super Glue as a kid.  What's a young boy to do with a full bottle of glue and nothing that needs fixing?  A.) Glue the eyes of his little sister's dolls closed.  B.) Glue various light switches throughout the house into the "off" position.

I don't personally remember the breakfast exposure incident that I wrote about yesterday.  My sister told the story at the prompting of my SIL, and it was hilarious -- we were all laughing with some gusto in the hospital cafeteria.  In a phone conversation with another sister last night, I mentioned our lunch and the story and that I didn't really remember it, but did she?  I didn't even finish the question and she started to laugh and that, yes, she did remember.  She said she's always felt badly about it; that we were really quite dramatic and overreacted (by quite a lot -- we were probably doing it up good for the benefit of our youngest) and she always thought that we should have helped Michael eat all that cereal.  ; ) Not that he didn't get away with other stuff over the years... or that people didn't take the rap for him at times...  I'm sure we're all even-steven.  ; )

Soggy cereal

I saw my brother today, but he didn't see me.  He's very heavily sedated -- you could say "mild induced coma."  The doctors can wake him easily, if they want; he does respond to some commands.  They are not monitoring the pressure on his brain anymore, though, and while I didn't ask about that specifically, I'm taking it as a very good sign.  He is still on the respirator; he can breathe on his own, but he has three or four fractured ribs on each side and it just frickin' hurts.  He has fractured vertebra in all three areas (cervical, thoracic and lumbar) -- one, two or three in each, some worse than others, some just hairline cracks (as far as they can tell right now) -- C7 is the one most likely to require surgery.  But that's still down the road a bit.  Baby steps.  One thing at a time.  Improving.  He was measured for a full body brace today, which he'll need only wear when upright, and he could be in the hospital for a very long time yet.  He'll be 44 on St. Patrick's Day and it sure would be nice if he was out, but I think we can party in the hospital if we have to.  ; )

Speaking of St. Patrick's Day, I still have a daughter in the U.K.  I was able to inform Katie yesterday about Michael's accident and it's weird, but okay.  She is leaving tomorrow night for a weekend trip to Ireland!  They're flying into Shannon and out of Dublin.  I think I'm going to transfer some money to her account so she can buy me some yarn, if anything speaks to her.  She might possibly go to Scotland yet, too (just over a month and a half before she comes home!), and I'd also like some from there.

A young lady come to the CCU waiting room this afternoon and spoke with the volunteer on duty.  The girl had a small vase of flowers and a card in her hand, and also a newspaper.  I noticed her as she took a seat while the volunteer went off into another area.  A few minutes later, the volunteer returned and asked us whose family we were.  We told her, of course, and we were exactly who the young lady, Mary, was looking for.  Mary doesn't know my brother or my sister-in-law or any of us, but she'd read about Michael's accident in the newspaper (the one she had in her hand) and said that she and her grandmother had been praying for him by name and she just felt moved to come...  Oh, yeah, I know!  We talked for a bit and hugged and thanked her for her thoughtfulness, and then the volunteer got out a fresh box of tissues...

There was laughter along with the tears at lunch this afternoon with my sister-in-law, my mother, and one of my sisters.  When my brother is the subject, there can be a laugh a minute.

Once, when Michael (the only boy among five kids) was probably 4 or 5 years old, he exposed his p*nis during breakfast with his sisters, totally freaking us all out and sending us, screaming, from the table.  When Dad found out why four bowls of cereal were left untouched, he made Michael sit down and eat every soggy morsel as punishment.

This is my way

I don't know what to say to all you people.  Thank you, I guess, is the biggest thing.  Your thoughts and prayers, advice and well wishes, I'm reading them with tears streaming down my cheeks and I'm just speechless -- with a very full heart.  Thank you.

I went to the hospital late this afternoon to see Michael, my brother.  My SIL had been there most of the day, of course.  My mom was there, and her husband had arrived shortly before I did.  Michael had only arrived in the Critical Care Unit a few minutes earlier.  It's just like in the movies or on TV -- his head is bandaged, of course, and he has monitors and tubes everywhere, including a breathing tube.  There's a monitor specifically to measure the pressure in his brain.  They don't want to see it go over 20; it didn't go over 10 while I was there, and was mostly 8 or 9.  Besides the accoutrements of having had brain surgery, and other than a couple of scrapes on one foot, some scratches on his hands and a few (barely noticeable) across his nose, you wouldn't guess that he'd emerged from the crinkled, crumpled junk pile that was his car.  A sheriff on the scene said that in 30 years, he'd never before spoken to someone who emerged from such a wreck.

Ugh, my head hurts from this day, from trying to be strong, from being the "other mother," and my jaw hurts, too.  Talking, mom, talking, sisters, talking, aunt, talking, more sisters!  And I talked to dad again. Not only is my uncle the flight nurse out in Oregon fishing, so is my uncle the retired doctor.  I know that Michael's condition will be closely monitored by watchful eyes.  So much information to process.  We are very fortunate to have some expertise on our side.  Mom is a retired surgical nurse and I could see her putting on her professional persona -- checking the the stats and dials and tubes and whatnot -- able to be more objective at times.  Then she'd remember that it is HER son in the bed; see his wife, his sister; know that the outcome is all over the map at this point.

As it is, it's pretty scary.  But his eyes fluttered when he was spoken to, and he squeezed his wife's hand in the "special way" they have that brought tears to her eyes and let her know that he's still hers.  They hope to remove the breathing apparatus tomorrow.  He was quite restless and thrashing around -- I'm sure quite disoriented -- he didn't remember the accident -- and due to concern about further injury to his spine, they were going to sedate him a little more this evening, try to keep him calm.  I'll be spending a good part of the day there tomorrow.

There are freaky coincidences...  My boss who knows exactly what we're going through because his sister suffered very similar trauma quite a few years ago; she had lasting physical reminders as well as some measure of brain damage.  My stepmother who knows, too, because her son suffered brain trauma some years ago -- he was in a coma for a week -- from which he made a 100%, full recovery.

Here's how I'm calling this one.  I don't know exactly when they're going to remove that tube from my brother's mouth and I don't know when he's going to really wake up and be coherent.  When he does, though, he's going to have that goofy grin on his face and give that goofy laugh and he's going to say something incredibly wry and dry and funny.  I can't wait.

Thank you again.  No doubt I'll be back sooner rather than later.  This is my way, to write it down and try to make sense and make it real, make it be logical.  Blah blah blah.  This time it's in a living-out-loud kind of way.

My brother, the plastic surgeon -- giving Barbie doll a breast reduction by vigoriously scraping her boobs across the sidewalk.

My brother

First of all, and as far as I know right now, he's going to be okay.

My brother, Michael, was in the most horrific car accident on his way to work this morning.  He was taken by helicopter to the hospital.  I saw that helicopter heading to the scene this morning on my way to work.  I SAW IT.  One of my uncles is a nurse on that helicopter and I always think of him when I see it; I know that the helicopter isn't good... I didn't know that it was going to get my brother!

In this age of internet news and streaming video, I've been watching video and still pictures of the scene all morning and reading news accounts as details of the accident begin to emerge.  At one point, there was video of a pickup truck being removed from the scene.  My mom, with whom I've been speaking all morning, told me that my brother wasn't driving his pickup this morning -- and it was a really good thing because the truck was so badly damaged, how could the driver have survived?

I just saw the car that he was driving.  Ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod, oh...  my god.

I spoke with an ER nurse earlier this morning and she said that Michael had broken ribs; according to an account I read, he may also have a head injury, but not severe.

Ohmygod, that car.

He was slowing down on a state highway to make a turn and was rear-ended by a SEMI TRUCK going at HIGHWAY SPEED which pushed his car INTO THE PATH of an oncoming PICKUP TRUCK.  The car is frickin' squished.  They had to use the Jaws of Life to get him out.  He is sososososo lucky to be alive.  Ohmygod.

Mom just called (about 11:30 a.m.) and they're taking him into surgery -- there's bleeding on the brain.

An hour later, no news.  I don't know what to do, waffling about posting this, trying to stay busy, talking to people, calling my sisters, mom (she's afraid to drive), checking the news.  Hope and pray.

UPDATE 2:45 p.m.  Mom called from the hospital; her friend Dar drove her there.  Michael's brain is badly injured.  He had two blood clots; they removed one, but the other is still in there... deep... something about the brain shifting.  I heard "cervical fracture," something "thoracic," another bit about "lumbar."  He can move his limbs, he recognized his wife before surgery.  Those are the good things.