Oregon Trail

Location: Oregon, United States

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Let's just say we're rethinking our involvement in Mixed Martial Arts. At least I am. First, there was the incident with my knee (pop!pop!pop!), for which I accept at least half the blame. Then the other day, the group was doing "no contact or light contact sparring" without gear during the last five minutes of class. Stephen's hand met his partner's foot at just the right point of contact to cause a "boxer's fracture". Hmm. Is this just part of the sport or is there something wrong with this picture?

Stephen was an absolute trooper. He continued the exercise, just keeping his injured hand pulled back. He sat through the announcements and dismissal. He calmly asked the instructor if he had any ice and was given an ice pack. Then, as we were leaving, he looked at me and quietly said, "As soon as we get to the car, I'm crying my eyes out." He got in the car, curled up in a little ball, held his arm, and wept.

When we got home, I took a better look at it and did some quick triage on the internet. It was pretty clear that he needed to be seen so that an x-ray could be taken. So we left for the ER and underwent the obligatory sign in, triage, billing/HIPPA paperwork, waiting, watching other sick people and families, and finally being brought back to an exam area. There was an ornery, pitiful, toothless old guy on the other side of the curtain that had been there for three hours waiting for a room. He asked for food and they brought him a sandwich, which he couldn't chew. Then they brought him soup, which was evidently "stale and lukewarm". He asked for a phone so he could talk to his family, then complained about the wait and the food, and asked his family why they weren't speaking to one another, saying that if they weren't going to tell him, he might as well just die. Oh, brother. Shortly after that, they took him to his own room. Thanks be to the Almighty God of Room Vacancies.

The doctor came in with the x-rays and sat down to talk to us. Shortly after she arrived, before she had shown us the x-rays, a nurse delivered a cart to our area. Ah, the cart. That means we are going to DO SOMETHING. Sure enough, it was a fracture, so she explained that she would give him a shot of novocaine, manipulate the bone back into place, splint it, and set us up with an orthopedic doctor. Stephen has a thing about shots, so we had to talk him down off the rafters to get that over with, allowing him to inflict puncture wounds onto my hand while he squeezed it during the procedure. Then the bone was back in place, and we came home by about midnight.

So, yeah, I'm thinking about our involvement in Martial Arts. My primary concern is that, at this school, we have been allowed to make contact with one another as beginners. This is super-fun and has it's benefits. But do the benefits outweigh the now-obvious costs? Are injuries to be expected in this sport or could they be avoided if we waited until a higher belt level before making contact? Stephen just got his yellow belt, worked really hard to get there, and wants to stay. I understand that, but my "mom instinct" is seriously aroused. I found myself angry, frustrated, and frankly wanting a victim. RAHR!!! DON'T MESS WITH THE MOM!!! So maybe after I calm down a little bit I'll have a conversation with our instructor. Just give me a little time.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

That Small Town Feel

Lately I've been noticing how the community we live in has a real small-town feel to it. The structures in the downtown area have sort of a Mayberry feel to them. There is a drug store/soda fountain, a classic old courthouse with gigantic cedars, an old stone church building which is now a center for the Arts, and an old theatre which was recently renovated. There are also newer buildings and businesses (yes, there is a Starbucks and a McDonald's within walking distance). But it's not just the setting, it's the people.

I spend a lot of time in the downtown area. My job is there, I visit people in jail or go to court to support my clients, I volunteer with youth every week, my kids play games at the local gaming store, there are good restaurants and cafes, our doctor's offices are there, and I go to the Saturday Farmers Market whenever I can. So I know the coffee guy at one place because he volunteers at the same place I do and works his "real job" next door to my office. And the woman who sells Haralson apples at the Farmer's Market lives a stone's throw from the grocery store. And the people who took over the gaming store let me write a check when they first opened because they recognized me as a regular. There is a drink at the soda fountain named for one of the youth I work with.

Living and working in the same community presents certain challenges that I hadn't had to think about before. I see my clients everywhere. At the grocery store, at my church, at the library, when I'm having coffee with a friend or dropping my kids off somewhere. I go to the same clinic as two of my clients. I drive along the road and see homeless people I know nearly every time I'm out. This means I need to make a conscious effort to "unplug", not stopping to talk to people I know and care about or haven't seen in some time, leaving it for the guy who is doing the Outreach job now. It means sitting away from the window so I won't be seen when I'm off the clock. It means my life is not as private as I would sometimes prefer it to be.

But it also means I'm CONNECTED, and there is something very cool about that. I know the people that are raising my vegetables and fruit, fixing my broken jewelry, sharpening my knives, making my coffee, baking my bread, hosting my children. It is good. It is home.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Rain = Christmas?

It has started to rain again. Just a few days, then sunshine, then some more rain. Not the solid gray mist that settles in later in the season. But rain. I absolutely love it. I want to open the windows and listen to it. I want to be alone in my room so I can hear it on the roof. I want to wear polar fleece and rain gear and walk in it. The kids love it too, but for different reasons. They want to build a fire in the fireplace, make cookies, play board games and make their Christmas List. Wait a minute - make their Christmas List? What is that all about? And then I realized. Rain signals the beginning of the new season. Here the only difference between fall and winter is colder rain. We don't really get a crisp, dry fall with glorious color. The trees change, then drop their leaves, but it has already started to rain by then and there is no fun in making a pile of leaves and jumping in it unless you just want to get wet and muddy. We rake the leaves into the street in December and a big vacuum machine comes by to suck them up. So the rain really signals the beginning of winter weather, and the kids have acclimated to that fact. We still love snow, deep down, and will never lose that. But this year, Rain = Christmas.