Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Holidays...snow happens!


Christmas 2007 has come and gone…I managed to meet my number one goal: seating everyone in the dining room for the meal (due to storage issues that have plagued us we would transform the living room mid-visit into a dining room). Our home is not huge, our family is and is still growing. Often one or more family members will invite others to our festivities, so an accurate head count is usually out of the question. I’m fairly flexible in these circumstances, my husband on the other hand is not.
Christmas Eve Eve (just after eight o’clock) with the tree nearly completely decorated we lost our power. Not to worry…I was prepared! I had bought and installed new batteries in an old radio boom box and set the tuner to the 24 hour Christmas station two days ago. I grabbed a flashlight and headed upstairs to get it and stopped at the pantry and grabbed the bowl of candles. The house was lit with candles and oil lamps, Christmas music filled the air, I poured some more wine…yes, very pleasant. My husband’s children had arrived earlier that day and this was the perfect opportunity for them to stop the “rush” and sit and visit.
Christmas Eve Morning we awoke to no power and snow on the ground…this wasn’t good. My husband informed me that the power had come on about four and went right back out. I asked him to call the power company and check the status…again, not good…he was told to stay on the line to speak to a representative. The power company was not aware that our power had gone back out. Again, not a good sign…we had a fifteen pound rib roast that needed to be in the oven by ten and it was after eight! Time for a back-up plan…we still needed a gift card for my son and his wife and had planned to go to the New Seasons Market this morning anyway…I finished the list and had my husband and his daughter do the shopping and I stayed home with his son and we finished the preparations we could without any power or water (we have a well). The back-up plan was to get a spiral cut ham. About one o’clock the power came back on and we called my husband and after some discussion decided to cut the 15 pound roast in half and get it in the oven…with the ham we would have more than enough food! We all pitched in and got everything done on time except a once over with a mop to the floors…the kids would go home with gray socks once again! Dinner was wonderful. We opened presents and had dessert. No one had a meltdown. And it snowed some more!
Christmas Morning we woke early and said good bye to my husbands kids, who were due at their mothers. We had a fun day cooking a turkey to share later with good friends. And it snowed some more! We had a white Christmas! It’s something rare in our part of the country. I hope everyone else had as much fun as I did!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Screaming in the library

Yesterday I screamed in the library! I knew I would...I had warned my co-workers...yesterday, well actually the day before "Gertie" came home! Gertie is a dear friend of my daughters, one of those kids I collect. His name isn't really Gertie, but that's another story...Gertie is in the Air Force, his specialty is Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD)...he hasn't been home for a year. He's been in Germany and then Iraq driving a robot around in the desert looking for bombs and then disposing of them. Saving lives.
Gertie's mom and I have formed a "mom" bond since he's been away, keeping in touch at the library and through email...it's been a long haul for her having her baby boy off in the desert disarming bombs. We've been counting down the days together.
Yesterday was Story Time at the library...we made snow flakes! After the little ones had long gone I returned to my duties in the main library and warned my co-workers if Gertie made it to the library before my shift ended I couldn't be responsible if I screamed aloud...I felt it coming...I knew I would...and I did.
My shift was close to ending and I was heading to the Children's area to do a quick tidying. As I passed the main door it opened, I turned, saw Gertie smiling down at me and SCREAMED...I tried not to, I slapped my hands over my mouth and tried to contain myself for about ten seconds...then we just hugged and kissed and hugged some more...I really didn't care if I was making a spectacle of myself and Gertie certainly didn't seem to mind. By this time people were looking our way, my boss was at the information desk and stood up to see what the commotion was and just smiled and sat back down. I managed to contain myself somewhat...the tears wouldn't stop though.
I grabbed Gertie's hand, quickly introduced him to my boss and dragged him to the back area and loudly proclaimed, "Gertie's home! I'm happy!" I was literally jumping up and down. It was so crazy, like a five year old after a gallon of ice cream! I am so thankful this young man is home! It's made my Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Cars!

I hate cars! I am car "challenged"... I am a fairly intelligent woman who cannot for the life of me retain anything told, explained, or shown about cars...I know where the gas goes, the oil, the water, the spare tire (and I can and have changed them on my own)...I just don't retain the information...I've realized it's because I don't care to. All I want is for the damned thing to get me where I want to go!
I have spent my days off shuttling my car, my husbands car, my car again, back and forth to the mechanic for the last three weeks. My dear friend David turned us on to this great mechanic down the road from him...he's honest, reasonable, and reliable. He's even saved me when I got stuck on the side of the road. Yesterday David and I started shuttling cars (both!) at 7:30 in the morning...at 11 he brought me home in his "work" truck and drove his Toyota home. He left the "work" truck in case I needed transportation for some reason (we live 10 miles from the nearest town).
I proceeded with my Christmas Frenzy...the first floor floors needed a mopping desperately! We live in the woods, we heat with a wood stove, it's a log home...it gets very dirty! We have wood floors with the linoleum thing in the kitchen, hall, and mud room. Yesterday I started with the wood floors in the living room...after all the grand kids will be here Monday and I thought it would be nice if they could be on the floors and not be filthy by the time they left. I always feel like I need to wash their clothes when they leave or at least offer up a bottle of the stain spray stuff.
I didn't just mop the floors...I swept, moved furniture, swept the walls, mopped 1/4 of the floor space at a time and then put everything back when the space was dried. I think I did it in good time, it only took four hours! The living room is finished and ready for the tree!
My husband had called at some point during the afternoon and started asking me questions about the cars...I was mopping when he called...finally I said, I am car challenged, I retain nothing, I know this, you know this, it's a fact, don't make it an issue, call David or the mechanic! By four I was exhausted and the phone rang...it was David saying one car was done, but the battery had died and needed charging. I told him we had a charger and we could start the shuttle over again...I could take his "work" truck to his house with the charger and charge the car and drive it home. Somehow we both decided to wait until today to do the shuttling.
About five o'clock I turned on the outdoor lights and there was David coming down the drive in my car...somehow he managed to start it and made it here. He got his truck and went home.
When my husband came home last night he was frantic about his car not being here. I explained the situation and the fact that his car was not ready first, mine was...and we (meaning him and I) would just have to take care of it in the morning after his dental appointment. He was obviously a bit put out...too bad! I suddenly was a little mad! David and I had been inconvenienced most of the day...it was his turn to feel some of it! I also let him know that my battery needed to be charged...and guess what he did? He raised the volume on the television with the remote control!
Hopefully, when my husband gets home from his dental appointment we will head to the mechanic and pick up his car. Hopefully, we will then go out and find gifts for my son and his wife, the last two to get. Hopefully, we will enjoy this day together...I just hope we remember to charge the darned battery on my car so I can get to Story Time at the library tomorrow!
Tis the season!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Dog Poop

Yes, dog poop! When I got home from work yesterday I found my recycle containers had been tossed in a pile of dog poop...I only hope the trash man/waste management specialist stepped in it. Then as I loaded the trash can into the car I noticed a white oozing...I was brave, I peaked inside...it looked like puke and it was all over. I managed to get everything into the car and drove it up the road to the house where I left it off the drive way to deal with later. So, this morning as I'm heading out to decorate the tree at the end of the driveway (more on that later!) I see the trash can and recycle containers...I lug them out to the greenhouse because in my incredible organizing frenzy I've drained all the hoses around the house and actually put them away for the winter! So there I was in the rain hosing out the trash can and the recycle containers...that done, I headed inside for the Christmas balls and the hooks, grabbed the ladder, loaded it all in the car and headed down the driveway to decorate the doug fir. I had failed to realize that my husband had limbed up the tree and the last time I remember standing down there must have been two years ago...the darned thing grew! If I had stood the ladder in the truck bed I might have been able to get to the fourth set of branches, not half way! Although rather disappointed, I loaded all the stuff back in the car and headed back to the house. Once inside I decided to tackle the three year old cards in the basket in my living room...hey, life happens! I had printed out the "sorry, we're stupid" holiday letters that explained why they hadn't heard from us in years and decided to copy the yearly party invite/inserts at work because I was now running out of time. For some reason, knowing I had the inserts to put into the cards that had been ready all but for stamps for three years, I promptly sealed each envelope. With only three left to seal I panicked and started ripping open every envelope...they look awful...but I had to laugh, not only were these cards three years old but now it will be obvious (I'm using scotch tape to reseal them)that I ripped them open for some reason...oh well...the sentiment is real and the job is half done. Now I'm worried because I was all prepared to decorate a tree outdoors and am seriously considering a random drive by decorating! Wouldn't that be fun? I really think I might do it!

Christmas Mania!

I have it! I definitely do! The whole shopping and present thing can wait...I'm experiencing a cleaning and decorating frenzy like never before. I've found the corners of the dining room! The spiders that haven't gotten sucked up by the vacuum cleaner are scared, their homes destroyed. I found my daughter's necklace, lost for over two years, hiding in the bottom of a box of extra Christmas light bulbs. I taped it to her bathroom mirror in the shape of a huge smile. She's a happy girl! I've dusted the basket of Christmas cards for the last time. I've even created a Christmas letter and insert for our summer party. Moving right along, list in hand...I'm feeling like super woman! I plan on decorating a Doug fir at the entrance to our driveway before I head off to work today...I'm losing it, but having fun along the way!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

My Sister

Yesterday was my sisters birthday. She died of Aids many years ago. I don't think I'll ever stop missing her. This is one of my favorite pictures of her...




Happy Birthday Venessa!
I think of you often and will miss you always!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Collecting Children

Someone asked me recently if I had kids…I laughed and said yes, many, I collect them. Curious about my answer they then asked how many…I don’t know, I’ve lost count. (I love doing this to people!) They either look at you strangely, or ask for a clarification on the collecting part…some will say, oh you’re a foster parent…NO I COLLECT CHILDREN…sometimes they collect me, it depends on the circumstances.
It all began way back in 1977, when husband #2 came home from work with a 5 year old! Yes, a lovely little five year old girl. This little girl was his business partners new girl friends 5 year old. His business partner wanted the mother to move in with him, but not the little girl. Husband #2 volunteered me to take and care for this little girl, being I had two children, was a stay at home mom at the time, and had nothing better to do.
Because the child’s safety and welfare were my greatest concern, she stayed with us for nearly six months. Her mother and I became acquainted, she visited on a regular basis. She was at the time doing the best she could with what she had to work with. She definitely loved her child.
She’s the reason I went to college…I’m not sure if she ever knew this or not. But I have her to thank for finding my “bestest” friend in the whole wide world!
Anyway, the child and her mother were eventually reunited, and I have since lost touch with them…I just count that as the beginning of my collection.
I have children. Three I birthed. Two of my present husbands. Two that are my “bestest” friends (one of which died a few years ago and I still miss terribly). One, my oldest daughters best friend, who adopted me when she couldn’t face life without having a mother (her mom had recently committed suicide)…the rest, I’ve basically collected on the way. Some have been temporary, some have been hanging around for years. I love them all. There are times I can’t get through the grocery store without running into one of the “kids”; they see my car in the parking lot and entering hollering “mom, where are you?”. There are times I get whiplash from trying to see who’s hollering “mom”.
Holiday gatherings have grown to extended proportions. This is something my present husband has learned to deal with. I never refuse extra guests. The rule is, if you know someone is alone on a holiday, either invite them to ours, or bring them some food.
I think I have the most diverse family in town…a bunch of geeks and freaks…it’s rather amusing to watch people’s heads turn in the grocery store and then answer that question…“are they all yours?” Yep! I answer proudly, all of them. I collect them!

Mingling

Have you ever found yourself in one of those situations where you're forced to "mingle"? Ugh! Just typing out the word gives me goose bumps! Everyone has their fears. Mine just happens to be mingling. I dread those seasonal cocktail parties...and the time is quickly approaching. Sometime yesterday between disposing of Thanksgiving dinner and dragging out the Christmas decorations it suddenly dawned on me that once again I would be forced to mingle...converse with strangers, act interested, smile and nod...my pulse raced, my breathing quickened...I immediately headed to the back porch for some air.
This phobeia of mine has always been there. Social situations are not my forte. I didn't lack exposure as child. I was taught what to do, how to hold my tea cup, to smile and say please and thank you. It's the following story that has caused all the recent anxiety.

The last night of my 44th year (my family celebrates birthdays in a weird manner)...we were invited to a party hosted by a group of doctors from the hospital my husband works at. At the time we weren't married. My husband was a divorcee, very well liked, and had "dated" many of his coworkers. This was one of the first times I would meet the people he worked with and I had been told that they were all eager to meet me...the woman who had captured his heart. (Yes, he does say those things) The event was in one of the private party areas at a local brew pub/hotel.
We arrived to ohhhhhs and ahhhhhhhhhs and glad-to-finally-meet-yous and headed to the bar for a cocktail. My husband handed me a glass of wine and was wisked off by someone, promising to return shortly. Before I could say, I'll join you, he was gone. I stood there with my glass of wine in a room full of people I did not know praying someone familiar would appear. A woman next to me introduced herself ending with the comment "you and I REALLY need to talk"...what the holy hell did that mean? A woman standing nearby snorttled, the one next to her averted her eyes and laughed uncontrollably. I was starting to feel weird. I thought I might cry...so, I did what most women faced with those circumstances would do...I downed that glass of wine and headed into the ladies room.
It was empty when I went in. I locked myself in one of the stalls and blew my nose. Suddenly the ladies room was full of women laughing and talking, reminding me that I was at a party and really needed to get back to it and find my husband. Suddenly I realized that the laughter and the talking was about me! What the hell was I supposed to do? A strong woman would open the door, glare, and say something profound. I wasn't feeling very strong...I was actually in worse shape than when I entered. I just stood in that stall listening to their snide remarks and waited until they left. I eventually emerged, washed my hands and face, walked out the door, and headed directly to the bar.
My husband finally returned and introduced me to a couple he was very good friends with and we got in the cocktail line together. I was asked if I was enjoying myself and getting to meet everyone. And this is what I said (in a rather loud voice I'm told):

"Well, yes (holding my wine glass high as if to toast) and no I'm not really enjoying meeting everyone (nodding my head towards the womans room group)...I feel like Julia Roberts in that movie trailer when she stands up in the middle of some meeting and yells, "Who here hasn't slept with my husband?"...but I can't, because he isn't my husband." With that said I ordered yet another glass of wine, excused myself and went outside to smoke.

My not-yet husband followed me outside and wanted to know what had gotten into me besides the wine. I tried to explain what had happened, but I don't think at the time he really got it; he seemed more concerned with the impression I had left with his friends. The rest of the night is somewhat of a blur.

The next morning when I begrudgingly explained what had prompted the outburst he just laughed...louder...and LOUDER...and LOUDER! When I asked what was so funny, he said K's face (the wife of the couple), she probably thinks you're crazy!

Maybe she does, I never took the time to ask her. I'm not at all sorry. I said what I said. I meant it. I'm sorry she didn't see the humor in it.

So you see, my mingling skills are lacking somewhat. It doesn't help that my husband reminds me of this episode between the car and the front door of every social event...he still doesn't get it.

I'm getting better...I think...I'll let you know.

Sunday

This morning started off beautifully! I slept through the night! I had woken at 1:15 am the night before and never got back to sleep. My husband had made the coffee and was already up on his computer. I grabbed a cup and headed to my computer to hopefully visit with by best friend. My good fortune was continuing, she was on line and we chatted while I “woke up”. There’s something about that first cup of coffee and what happens while I drink it that sets my mood for the day.
I had set personal goals for the weekend and had accomplished one of the "biggies" (scrubbed the kitchen, hall and mud room floors) and had yet another “biggie” to get done. Yes! I was planning to clean out the refrigerator-that nasty, scary, make you gag chore that most of us hate with a passion. I’ll be truthful here, it still held the remnants of our Thanksgiving Feast. Okay, not all of it…there were still various containers and half-filled pop bottles on the back porch. I live in the country, it’s cold, and I ran out of room in the refrigerator!
After informing my dear friend of the task at hand, the two of us carried on about fuzzy green things, and those slimey bags of goo often found in the back of the vegetable drawer. She advised me to put on some Christmas music and I quote "just throw it all out". We said our good byes and I reluctantly headed downstairs determined to accomplish my goal without gagging…alright, that’s pretty steep…without puking!
I would ask the guy who so lovingly made my morning coffee for help, but his idea is to take out all the bowls of unidentifiable food matter and leave them on the kitchen counter. He did this “favor” for me one day when I worked and he had the day off…yes, you’re all sighing and saying “wish my partner/husband/substitute what suits you would help me like that”. No, no you really don’t and this is why and the reason I have resigned myself to the fact that this task will remain mine until the day I die.
My husband, God Bless his Soul, decided to be helpful and “clean” the refrigerator! I had left for work having no idea what he had planned. When I came home this is what I found waiting for me in the kitchen: Approximately a dozen or more Tupperware containers with some form of food matter in them that had been sitting on the counter all day in above 90 temperatures…he was smiling as he informed me that he had cleaned the refrigerator today! He then told me it should really be "kept up" because it was quite disgusting. My mouth was still open as my eyes took in the stuff in foil that I was sure was moving. Just beyond the foil shapes was the precariously stacked plastic containers that had…yes, been opened! The contents of which had formed a life of it’s own in the heat…it was really scary! At the time I was not sure if they opened on their own, but I can now envision my husband opening one at a time and sniffing the contents as he put them on the counter. I then made a really STUPID comment…I said, I hope you’re planning on emptying these…his response, I believe, was something to the effect that he had started the process. I then made a really STUPIDER comment like, yeah, well you started the job and left it here to breed all day…then I stormed off to my greenhouse. When I returned I found all the containers removed from the counter and on our hot tub cover on the back porch. The hot tub is empty. It’s often used as that catch all spot to leave things to take to the garden, shop, or greenhouse…picture a large table. A large table that is never cleared.
The back porch is my morning area, it’s usually where I have that first cup of coffee…are you starting to understand what’s going on here?
To make a long story short…we had reached a stand-off…I was determined not to be the one to deal with the bubbling, gurgling mess and he was just as determined…days passed and the containers were starting to explode…I used the hose to clean up the spills but stubbornly refused to empty the containers, as did my husband. I’m not sure how many days passed but I knew I had to do something. After all it was really beginning to be a bio-hazard and was attracting flies…I got a composting bucket and started the process…by the second container I was not only gagging, but barely able to control the spasms that only mean full throttle vomiting is about to happen…it was all I could do to stand! I then grabbed a garbage bag and threw what was left of the containers and soft-mushy foil forms in, threw it in the trash and drove the trash and recycling containers down to the road, gagging the entire way.
Of course, having been at this stand-off we would both peer out the back door to see if the containers were still there and know who had won the “I’m more stubborn than you contest”…my husband was pretty pleased with himself when he arrived home from work and peeked out the back door...until he opened the dishwasher and said, “where are all the containers?” I shrugged, told him in the trash that had been picked up that morning and left the room. He decided to follow me…(I’m still not sure why-personally, my children and grandchildren understand that to do so would have put themselves at risk) he was asking why, why did I throw out perfectly good containers, you, the forever recycler…what made me throw them out…have you lost your mind? My response was plain and simple…yes, yes I had lost my mind, but in all due respect the containers were mine having sold Tupperware in the past, and I really didn’t give a rat’s behind because the contents had made me gag and retch. I’m not sure why but for some reason he walked away.
A few weeks later I went out on the back porch to watch the sun rise and enjoy that important first cup of coffee and what did I find? One of those plastic containers! There it was just sitting on the hot tub laughing at me! Whatever had been inside had congealed by this time. What in the world! (Okay, what I actually said was a bit stronger than that) Before I could get over the shock my husband stuck his head out the door and said, oh yeah, I found that under the porch…you must have dropped it…and the whole thing started all over again! At some point it ended up under the porch again…it’s still there! Occassionaly it makes an appearance thank to the neighbors cat or our resident racoon. I smile at it and kick it with all my might back under the porch. And there you have the reason that I will be the one to clean the refrigerator for the rest of my life!

The point of all this is: choose your battles wisely, decide what’s important…is it really worth all the time and energy put into maintaining that stubborn fa├žade, is “winning” what’s important? Sometimes. Most of the time what’s important is getting on with your life, rolling up your sleeves, doing a job that disgusts you for the mere reason that it needs to be done (kind of like changing those poopy diapers) and remembering that we’re doing it for ourselves as well as someone we love.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

How this came to be

I have recently been intrigued with blogs. The introduction was a slow process…following family members through their journey of life…keeping informed of travels, adventures, life’s changes. It reminds me of my best friend, who for years wrote me on a daily basis as life separated us. We lived for the mails arrival! Some letters were just a page or two, a note to let us know we were thinking of one another. Others were incredibly long…I remember a twenty something page letter. Separated by a mere 3,000 miles at this time, we rely on computer technology to communicate today…and she’s the reason why I became interested in blogs! Well, not entirely, she just started it. She sent me a copy and link of Dawn Meehan’s blog, “BECAUSE I SAID SO” http://mom2my6pack.blogspot.com. I’ve become a fan of both Dawn’s blog and of blogging in general. Once again, the reason behind this is my friend. Dawn’s blog reminds me of when this friend and I first met…of what our life was like anyway. Barely controlled chaos would be descriptive.It was nearly thirty years ago when we met outside a college supported day care center, dragging huge bags of newly purchased books with a barely four year old kid in tow. Some sort of instant bond occurred between us. She was divorced, two kids, working part time and going to school…starting over. I also was divorced, , but living with someone, had two kids and was returning to school. In a sense we were starting over. Our friendship has lasted nearly 30 years! We’ve endured the pains of another divorce (both of us), loss of a child (hers), joys such as the births of grandchildren (she has one, I have seven), another marriage (mine)…basically all of our adult lives have been shared together. I need to dedicate this blog to her. Life without her would have been very dull and lonely!So…here I am…ready to go…enjoy…or not!