Saturday, November 26, 2016

Surgery

"Papa, do you want to play hospital?" Beren asked Jared today as I lay on the couch with an earache. The stuffed animals were listed on paper, each with their unique ailments. Bent feather, cracked shell, 3 different monkeys with glass in the stomach, earache, hurt tail, broken bone. The loon with the bent feather was an easy fix. The rest were admitted. Together, they healed each animal.

When Jared suggested they needed hospital medicine for one animal not herbal medicine, Beren said, "And herbs, too." 

Beren gravely added that their hospital did not have a laser knife. Instead, they used a snake to remove the glass from the monkeys' bellies. "What hospital has a laser knife? One nearby?" I inquired later, curious to discover where he'd learned about laser knives. He didn't know, he admitted slowly and uncertainly.

One animal received an injection to help them sleep prior to surgery. Jared and Beren agreed that they would need to tell the animal of what might happen when the animal woke up. "Tell them that they might wake up with a leg that feels bad and does not work right," Beren said.

***

About a year ago, our little guy had surgery. Jared and I had put it off for several reasons and finally several factors aligned making the surgery a possibility and making avoiding the surgery more and more of an impossibility. Better said, surgery seemed an inevitability, though Jared and I still found room to debate mixed in a swirl of unknowns and fears. Our reasons (hope and fear) to delay mixed. The hope that things would resolve faded, and fears needed to be faced.

We scheduled a doctor's appointment to for a referral to a specialist as required by insurance. In the midst of this, his health insurance switched unbeknownst to me, requiring obsessive phone calls to the insurance companies and doctors. When we arrived at an appointment with the surgeon and were told our paperwork was not in line, not in the folder, though I had called to confirm we were set twice.  

We waited for the surgeon's office and the general practitioner's office to sort things out and were seen after waiting what felt like hours. The grey waiting room lacked toys I assumed they might have. 

Our agitated child was barely interested in the stickers and coloring supplies we brought. Sullen kids went through the doors to be seen. Squalling kids came out. My resolve cracked when another patient came a out from being seen - a thirty-ish woman was pushed out the door in a wheel chair. She held her head up with one hand as tears of grief rolled down her checks. She'd just gotten bad news.

Beren was displeased. Jared was grim. And I was grim, too, my teeth set, guiding the family along. In our conversations about our appointments, I mixed alarm with empathetic listening and calculated responses with high-pitched cheerfulness and steely determination, in response to everyone's complaints. Beren told us he would never come back to this place, but he would a couple months later.

***

After I scheduled the surgery, I called the hospital and the insurance company to confirm that the appropriate paperwork had been generated on our behalf. Yes, they assured me.

In the meantime, Beren's surgeon changed office locations. I called again a couple weeks before the date and some paperwork was lost, confused, or misplaced. I spoke with the surgeon's receptionist, "I'll have a nurse call you back."

I kept my phone in my pocket, waiting for the call. The nurse called and asked for my information. She opened our file, "Ok, Mommy, I don't see the referral." I carefully listened to the nurse's words, noting her insurance lingo. Referral. A referral was needed. Referral not on file.

I called the insurance company. I begged for clarification. I'm a dummy. I don't understand the lingo, I told her, hoping for sympathy. Please help. "What do I need?" I asked. A very friendly, forgiving, and jovial woman with a Southern accent told me nothing. Nothing, it seemed. I needed nothing. Sometimes the doctors office get confused, too. I carefully noted that.

I opted to need something over nothing. If I had a referral, we wouldn't be turned away on the day of the surgery. This was my Greatest Fear Number 2. I  called our general practitioner's office again. I was apologetic. I had called them numerous times during the insurance switch. I was certain they had a photograph of my face on a dartboard. Or, perhaps they had a picture of my guts on the wall. My guts felt like they were filled with darts.

I repeated what the surgeon's nurse had requested. A referral. The irritable receptionist at the general practitioner's office bristled. It seemed that she'd set everyone straight. As it turns out, we needed a 'script' not a referral.

I called several numbers at the hospital again days before the surgery. I went deep into the belly of the hospital - the accounting department, the surgeon's office, and then some deeper layer. I felt as thought I was talking to a woman far inside some castle-like tower. Being close to Christmas, the people on the other line seemed kinder.

All seemed well. Then, as scheduled, a nurse called from the hospital the day before the surgery with instructions. "You'll need to be at the hospital by 6:00 AM. No food or drink after 9:00 PM tonight." I balked slightly at the time. "It's ok. We're used to cranky kids," the nurse answered.

I knew Jared would blow his top. He did. "What time?! They want us to arrive at WHAT time?!" By this time, I felt like a pincushion, covered in darts.

"The surgery is likely to be early. They take the kids from youngest to oldest," I said. "They don't even know what time?!" Jared exclaimed. "No, but I'm thinking we're likely to be early," I said, being optimist, and possibly lying.

"And, he doesn't need to do anything to be discharged. Doesn't have to pee," I'd been afraid of everything, imagining things that I heard about in hospital dramas might come true. Mothers who just gave birth have to go pee before being discharged, right? Or was it anyone who had surgery? Anyway, our stubborn child had a steely will and bladder. He'd never pee on request and luckily he didn't have to.

Meanwhile, I just wanted Jared to help me steer the ship towards tomorrow morning. I was too tired to discuss medical protocol. "Not even water?!" he went on. "No, they don't want him to vomit and aspirate," I said quickly. I hardly wanted to mention anything going wrong, but I wanted Jared off my back. "I'm not making the rules. Let's just follow the rules," I said.

I had been steering the ship for some months, making appointments and calls. He listened when I stressed out about the logistics behind the surgery. The surgery itself - we sought other options but surgery was the only answer.

Our care provider was encouraging. He's young and healthy, she told us. The Mayo Clinic online pointed towards surgery. A friend studying herbal healthcare asked her teacher - surgery was the answer. All our inquiries pointed towards surgery.

Ultimately, I had convinced Jared to move ahead with the help of his mother. We double teamed him in the kitchen one afternoon while Beren played on the other side of the house. Dealing with the insurance was a nuisance compared to the moral responsibility I felt I had taken on. Though Jared and I agreed, I pushed. If our ship crashed, I was the one who pushed. If all went well, we could forget the whole thing.

On the morning of Beren's surgery, we set our alarm for 4:00 AM. Beren, normally a late riser, woke, too. I cuddled him and we cheerfully talked in the dark until I reminded him we would be leaving to go to the hospital. We had given him several days notice about something he had never experienced. 

"NO IT'S TOO LATE. NO. NO. IT IS DARK OUTSIDE." Beren clung to the bars of his loft bed with fury. His adrenaline surge made him stronger than me. I spoke in quiet, calming ways, though I am certain my nervousness was felt. "NO NO NO. BAD GUY. BAD GUY. NO NO NO." 

"BAD GUY! BAD GUY!" Beren's screams were guttural, possessed. Who was the bad guy? Me? I wondered.

Once in the car, he continued to scream. I couldn't buckle him. His body was like a feral wire. We began driving and finally he settled. The cold air and routine of buckling prior to driving pierced through his anger. I had been counting on an out of sorts kid. I had been counting on a hungry kid who wasn't permitted to eat until after his surgery, but this was harrowing. I splashed us with Rescue Remedy.

The sun came up as we drove towards the children's hospital. Once there, we passed through momentarily exciting revolving doors.

We were directed to a waiting room where we sat, bleary. Beren played with the toys. I filled out digital forms binding us to pay for his care no matter what, absolutely no matter what. 

We sat. After awhile, I inquired about what we were waiting for, and our presence reasserted, we were hustled along to another waiting room. We sat uncertainly. There was no one to receive us. I ventured through two double doors. "We've been waiting for you," someone said.

Beren refused to sit on the tiny hospital examination bed. We sat on the floor of the small triage type room instead. A kind nurse took his vitals and talked with him cheerfully.

A friendly social worker brought him a canvas bag with the children's hospital logo. Inside were a box of trucks, a coloring book, and crayons. The trucks were seconds with the shiny paint chipping a little. They were welcome distractions. She worker squatted beside him and explained briefly about hospitals and asked if he knew why he was in one. "Yes," he said slowly.

I grimaced as he played shoeless and shirtless on the examination room floor. The nurses asked me to dress Beren in a hospital gown and socks. He refused. 

The nice nurse returned, commenting on the toys. She would be the one person he remembered favorably. 

An assemblage of hospital workers--nurses, doctors, the pediatric anesthesiologist--stood in the doorway. The anesthesiologist explained possible side affects to Jared within earshot of Beren and me.

Another hospital employee came in with no introductions. "This medicine will help you to not remember any of what happened today," they explained. [I can't recall the person's gender, I was so startled at this point.] They held out the small disposable cup of red liquid. Beren refused. I cajoled him. He refused.

"He will need to be in the gown," one of them said. "No, I have already forced him to do too much today," I said weakly to the phalanx in scrubs. I put on my own paper gown, booties, cap, and finally the mask. I smiled and joked to Beren and Jared about my outfit. I had a knot in my throat.

The social worker deliberately and with purpose walked us down the hall. I held Beren's hand, submitting to the social worker's friendly talk. All I have to do is make Beren trust us right now, I thought. I imagined Jared's eyes on our backs as we walked through double doors to the operating theater. My eyes stung, thinking of him.

We continued down the long hall, the doors clicking closed behind us. I felt more relaxed than ever. Beren didn't respond to the social worker's gentle, child oriented questions. "What color do you like?" I asked her. She replied orange. Beren, disarmed, added that he liked orange, talking easily for the first time that morning. I had made him trust her and I hoped that was not betraying him.

The operating theater was bright, so bright as to be shadowless. Video screens were suspended from the high ceiling. Fish swam across the screens. "Look at those fish. I like fish," the social worker said. "Do you like fish?" I was surprised to hear Beren reply, "Yes." She did her job well.

"Mommy, you can put him on the table."

I helped Beren up onto the operating table. The anesthesiologist explained to Beren that he was going to put a mask on Beren. "Ok? Mommy will hold it." No refusal. I cradled him, and the social worker continued to talk about fish. Beren blinked.

"Mommy, he may shudder when he becomes unconscious," someone said to me. "That is normal." Moments later, he shuddered and I felt like his light went out. 

"Ok, Mommy." My cue to exit the theater. I froze.

"Ok, Mommy." Time for business. I laid Beren down. The social worker was at my side to escort me. I looked back at Beren from the doorway because I thought I should. 

Back in the waiting room, Jared and I hugged. We choked out a couple sobs. We watched the gritty city from our colorful seats on an upper floor in the children's hospital.

A groggy kid in a hospital bed was wheeled past and loaded into the elevator. His parents stared at their phones as an orderly pushed the bed. "Get off the phone," I thought. And then again, a children's hospital is the last place I'll pass judgment against a parent. I shifted in my seat.

I glanced quickly at a couple to our right. I wondered why they were here. I wondered if they wondered about us.

Hours later, the surgeon arrived with her team. "The surgery went well," I heard. I missed the rest and asked Jared about the other details later. Did they do this and did they do that? Did they do what they said they would (as if they might have forgotten)? I asked him. Yes, yes, he assured me.

The night before the surgery, I dreamed that the surgeon was driving a bus and we were waiting for her along a gravelly sand road. I told her the dream. I later hoped I hadn't offended her.

A nurse led us to the recovery area and to Beren's side. He'd wake in a hour or so. Don't try to wake him she told us. Curtains separated beds with knocked out kids. He looked so small under the white cotton blanket. I checked his breathing. I felt his chest. I felt something but felt under his nose, too. "He's breathing, right?" Jared asked. We sat by his side, relieved, slightly giddy at times, watery at others.

The nurse showed us his incision. It was more red, ragged and larger than I thought it would be. I hoped Beren's fury would not reignite at its sight.

We talked about gardening with the nurse. Beren blinked, rolled his eyes, and closed them again for some time. When he finally woke, he was groggy and sluggish but wanted to sit up immediately. He was still shirtless. He sucked down three blue ice pops.

He wanted to walk not long after but couldn't. The nurse was not surprised at his is feeble legs. Jared and I were startled. After several hours in recovery, he was ready to go, and the doctors agreed.

Back at home, he insisted on walking but still couldn't. His legs crumpled under him. Jared caught my eye. I called the hospital. The nurse reassured me, and said to call back in one or two hours. When he still has stumbling after a couple hours, I called again. The nurse explained that it was not likely to be affects of general anesthesia but of local anesthesia to prevent muscle movement during surgery.

He never took a painkiller, not that I was proud of that. I was relieved that his body handled it well. Within a day, he was walking and sooner than we wanted, he was running.

Nevertheless, Beren angrily complained that the doctors had broken his leg. For months he bitterly decried the hospital. Why would someone go into a place perfectly fine and come out unable to walk? he wanted to know.

I tried to explain. It wasn't easy. Our conversations often happened after Jared finished reading bedtime stories. I'd pad upstairs to kiss him goodnight. Suddenly, he tell me he'd knock the hospital down with dozers and rescue the children. He'd destroy the city. I listened to his fury. I stood by his bed holding his hand as he cried.

Some nights, I laid next to him, listening. I once added that we could build a wall around the hospital. Yes, and keep all the doctors inside, he agreed.

Sometimes, I quietly re-explained why he had surgery. Other times, I explained why doctors are helpful. I agreed that going into a hospital with working legs and coming out with non-functioning legs made no sense. Many times, I simply held the space, listening, reassuring him that we'd not return to the hospital.

I sometimes told him that Jared and I had listened to the doctors and carefully decided that going to the hospital was important. I talked too long and no matter what I said, I made no sense to Beren. He always blamed the doctors, never me, never Jared.

After Beren drifted to sleep yet another night, I stumbled downstairs in the dark, reeling emotionally. I had hoped for and expected a successful surgery. Unexpectedly, I had a furious and insulted five year old. Jared and I talked it over, again and again, reassuring each other that we made the right choice and that our child was well and feisty, too.
Back at school, he brought in his souvenir first aid kit from the hospital. It was my suggestion to help him process the experience. The children hadn't really listened to his show and tell he later told me. They were distracted and noisy. He was disappointed and tearful.
I was shaken up for some time after the surgery. Though all went well, I was in a haze and socially isolated, unable to complete the process. I often used the canvas bag from the hospital, proud of our hard work. I sensed Jared would rather not see the bag so I told him why I used it so often.

A year later, Beren scar has faded to a dull brown. He looked at it once, maybe, when it was red and painful. We haven't had a sad night-time talk about the hospital in many months.

When Beren asked to play hospital with Jared today, I knew this story was ready to be written, t least my side of it. Beren owns the rest, always did.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Magical Drawings

I opened the rear passenger door to help Beren buckle himself. Though he's recently mastered that task, he already had a pile of paper and pens on his lap.  He wasn't able, or willing, to buckle himself.

I looked at the inside of the door. A line drawing in pen - buildings and stick figures - decorated the fabric around the door handle. Oh! I thought. I paused and consider my options. Blow my top? Stern lecture?

My internal reaction was mild. I was slightly amused, slightly surprised, and just a touch annoyed. Beren and I had spent over an hour together cleaning the well-worn interior of this car last week. I'd vacuumed while he wiped dust from the molded plastic.

Then, the car had been pronounced "clean" despite the lingering odors of plant material and sweaty bodies. "But, what about that spot?" Beren asked pointing to the driver's seat which was covered in dark spots from far too many meals and snacks on the road. "We may need some fabric cleaner for that. It's ok." I'd often looked at the front seats and pondered what cleaner might work - that or dark seat covers.

Where did Beren's happy drawing fall in with what adults had done to this car? Jared and I had plopped down into this vehicle with our dirty clothing regularly, if not daily. We'd spilled coffee, tea, water, dry snacks, sticky snacks, condiments, contents of sandwiches, and so on. We've loaded soil, plants, tools, and more into the car. All leaving their indelible sensory marks on the car.

"I see there's a drawing on the car, Beren," I said quietly in a friendly voice. Jared turned to look from his spot in the driver's seat. Beren looked, too.

"Paper is a good place for drawings," I added.

"I didn't do that," Beren said quickly.

"Oh?"

"No."

"No?"

"No."

"Who did?" I asked.

"Magic," Beren answered simply.

"Magic?"

"Yes."

"Can you tell Magic to do drawings on paper?"

"Magic doesn't have ears," Beren said.

"Ok, can you communicate with Magic in whatever way you can and let Magic know that drawings go on paper?"

Jared looked at me and smirked.

Friday, November 4, 2016

All three at home

Some days all three of us are at home. I often like those days and today is one of those days. Beren has a cough, so we agreed he would be better off at home. I am not sure how working parents do it...do they take a vacation day, a sick day, an unpaid day? Since we have our own business, we get an unpaid day, tucking in emails, consulting work or plant work between parenting and tending the house.

Days when we are all home mean the house is a constant wreck and worsening by the moment. Craft projects, tea cups, soup bowls, soft animals (how we call stuffed or plush animals), various dismantled and reassembled contents of drawers and boxes, anything to pass another minute.

Last time Beren was sick, he was supine for a week. He left the couch only to be carried to the bathroom. This illness is more the usual fare, a spirited kid with variable energy, attention, and patience, and a raspy voice, too.

Earlier in the week, his teacher noted "the frog in his throat" when I picked him up in the afternoon. "There is no frog in there!" Beren told me.

The frog turned to a cough and one rough night, and so now we are all at home. Jared is out sowing seeds. Beren is under the couch eating a potato. I'm sitting on the toilet lid (lid closed, pants on!) taking a moment to write. Downstairs, I hear the toaster oven clicking on, most likely lunch is overcooked, and I am enjoying this moment to myself.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Peace


Today is International Day of Peace.

I used to ponder the concept: when one person is not free, no one is free. Makes sense. You could be next. I could be next. I don't know, and I am captive to the idea, the fear. The next.

The next what?, we could ask. The next anything. The next target.

This is deeply sad to me. I remember the fear that someone would push a red button and the world would be enveloped in a deadly nuclear cloud. Who would do this, I wondered. Someone with power, someone I couldn't even fathom when I was a child with this fear.

In the 1950s my father recalls drills that sent him and his classmates into the coat closet, squatting, heads down. As a child, we had fire drills, and now schools have lock down drills.

It's sad, truly woeful. And now, I'm going to wake my sleeping child who knows nothing of these things.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Sink With Your Parents

Well, I've been around the country
And I've met a lot of kids
Some kids are smart and some kids are dumb
But I don't pass judgement they're just having fun.
---opening lines of "Sink With California" by Youth Brigade, 1983 
***
I picked up the local newspaper this week. The headline screamed:

KID MELTS IN LOCAL WATERS
Well-meaning parents told kids that they would melt. They did according to local police reports. 

Kids, do you believe this bullsh*t?

***

A local ice cream and fast food eatery, Jimmy's, next to a stream. The water is typically low and slow, though in some areas the banks are deeply eroded and steep. Yet there's plenty of places to traverse up and down easily. The most heavily trafficked path gets slick, as ground up shale soils do, after a rain.

About a quarter of times we go, there are kids in the stream. I like ice cream, and this ice cream is cheap and the scoops are generous, so we're there frequently. A couple times a month. Sometimes parents and grandparents join them.

Beren usually gets down in the water. He usually requests that a parent or two, or a grandparent or two, get down there for some dam building, leaf floating, or muck slopping activity. Once there, we're there, sometimes much longer than I'd prefer.

The majority of the times we go to Jimmy's, kids are forbidden to go in the water. I feel the kids and their parents staring at us. It's pretty uncomfortable. We're what I consider a "good" influence (making other people's kids want to go into the water) and a "bad" influence (making other people's kids want to go into the water).

Some kids are reckless, some clumsy, and some are just little. They probably need a little help. Parents, buy a cheap set of dark colored Jimmy's clothes. 

***

Kids only section, no parents allowed past this line. Really, parents, I mean it.

Some streams have glass, fishing lures, and other debris. Once Beren and I dragged a 8' tall metal post out of the Nishisakawick Creek in Frenchtown.

Kids, if you are reading this, don't tell your parents about the metal post. If you do, they definitely will not let you in the water. Instead, ask them for a sturdy pair of water shoes and practice walking on slippery rocks (when they are not looking!). When your parents are deep into their phone, take the shoes off. Unbelievable, right? Rocks are not deadly, not even wet ones.

Never, ever complain about getting wet. If you do, you will get an immediate "I told you so" lecture on the creek banks, and you will also get a "remember last time" lecture the next time you so much as look at that water.

For your sake, kids, bring a hobo sack of extra "play" clothes, especially if you aren't usually allowed to play. Think ahead, put on the dingy play clothes prior to leaving the house. Have stash of play clothes in your booster seat for surprise trips to Jimmy's. Don't get caught unprepared. Water is everywhere. Mud and dirt are even more frequently encountered in the landscape.

Boys and girls, absolutely no brand new shoes, no tutus, no brand names - not even cheap box store brand names. Have you ever seen a dirty ballerina? Don't simultaneously ruin your chances of becoming a ballerina and ever getting wet outside a pool or bathtub! Boys, you get off a little easier here, but make sure to wear black to avoid dirt and water stains.

Wise up kids, your parents want to control you. Don't let them. Don't believe the mind control, or one day you will melt upon stepping into water. It's true, but only if you believe your parents.

Now, go ask your parents for a set of play clothes. Loose lips sink ships on dry land.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Forty pounds, Forty four inches

Went to Target to get kid shoes. The aisles looked like several mother Tyrranosauraus rex had gone through, scooping all the good meat off the bone. I picked up two sets of shoes in the right size.

In the clothing section, I noticed there were no clothes marked 6T. Lump in the throat. I thought about my friends with babies. Enjoy it. It flies by, I thought. We are as close to age ten as to newborn, and we might be graduating from the little kids section to the boys clothing section.

I walked through the rest of the store, ogling brightly patterned carpets, bins, and food. The lump in my throat came and went.

From there, I went to Kohl's in search of back up shoes, in case my other selections were duds. 

I passed the kids clothes section. Like most stores, a fair amount of color for boys, at least in the tops...Culture (god) forbid a boy want color below the waist. A grandmother chastised her grandson for standing in his stroller. A boy begged her mother to allow him to help push his younger sibling in the carriage. I moved through quickly.

Another mother stood in front of the shoe section with her sons. "No size 12 of anything. I think we are a little late," she says to her son. "Uh oh, that's what I'm looking for," I say. I think I purchased the last 12s left at Target. I back away and hear her son say in a helpful tone, "I could wear these."

I head back home with a bunch of goods from Target. Some for Beren...a bottle of black paint, shoes, beads, kid scissors to replace our missing ones, and a basket for his stuffed animals. Some for Jared and me...a door mat, a basket to replace the basket I am going to take from him later to replace my broken beyond use laundry basket, and a string of lights. 

A fairly pricey trip by my standards, but I'm giving the lump in my throat a little retail therapy. Uh oh, it is back. Definitely seem allergic to how fast that kid is growing.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Occasional Insomia

Hours ago, I listened to Beren's breathing ease, steady, and deepen. I picked up his incredibly heavy forty pound body (the weight of a soil bag, Jared tells me), put him in his own bed.

Jared was still awake. We talked. We both felt sad as it turns out. The passage of time was our theme. We talked about many things, but like many things, they will remain private.

I gulped down a few rounds of tears in the dark, maybe Jared did, too. I guess guys learn how to hide tears, but I have had time amd desire to control my tears. Despite the frequency of my chances to practice, I have never learned that skill.

Jared and I went downstairs. I picked at a glob of goat cheese, trying to quiet my noisy belly. Jared pulled a bottle down from the cabinet. He examined it at length and finally opened it. He poured a cup and frowned. 

"What's that?" "Red wine." "Oh, where'd it come from?" "Dunno. One of our friends from a party?" "Yeah. We always get red wine from friends."

 "I can't really drink the stuff. I mean, I can drink hard liquor but wine..." Jared says. Jared is a brandy drinking man. I am a gin drinker, though it has been a while since I treated myself. Somehow our liquor cabinet is stocked with whiskey.

 We laugh. "Your parents sometimes get good wine. Sometimes, but we drink wine there a lot and only sometimes it's good," I add. 

We have had this exchange dozens of times over the past, well however long it has been since our friends got sophisticated (economically stable? Socially comformist? Kid-i-fied? Eco-friendly?? Locoboozed??) enough to bring red wine and IPAs and lagers instead of cheap beer and booze and well, more cheap booze.

"I just can't drink anymore of this. ready for bed?" Jared asks.

Back in bed, I listen to Jared's breathing ease, steady, and deepen. I lay there for awhile. Probably not that long. I sit up and watch the stars until I decide to go downstairs, pull on my worn kung fu shoes, and go outside.

Out here, I am reminded that the dome above us is so starry. We have beautiful stars here. As good as the Catskills, though pur peripheral star count goes down the closer the sky dome gets to earth. Phillipsburg, Bethlehem and Easton, Clinton and Flemington, possibly, dim our star dome. I hope no one builds next door, I think.

On earth, the stubbly lawn grass and field pathways are illuminated by glow worms. There is one about every three or four feet. I have to show Beren this tomorrow, I think.

I listen for the highway. Tonight, the road noise is loud, carrying across rolling Highlands farm fields up to our ridge. Motorcycles, trucks, cars. A train. Someone plays loud, dance music towards the north. Sound carries, except when I walk down in the lower field. I have noticed cool currents of air down there, too.

As I walk through the field, I look up and watch the star dome change. That must be a constellation. I once read in a fairly straight pamphlet about constellations that said one day the stars will speak for themselves. I liked that idea and still do. More glow worms.

At the highest point in our field the dome expands to its greatest potential this side of the prairie, or so it seems quite huge to me. No trees, I think, no trees. I like the meadow, more Rudbeckia.

By now, i have out lasted the dance party in the northlands, but not the highway and not the police siren that calls out twice to advise the singing insects and the woman writing as she sits in the hammock that it is most certainly time to go to bed.