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The kitchen of the "Althuus" (meanin...

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Rob finished updating and switching over the electrical to the new kitchen today. I marvel without end at that insanely unreal breadth of that man’s basic knowledge base. As of this evening, the kitchen will be operational minus plumbing with the goal of sink and dishwasher quite soon.

Mom arrives in 27 days, and Rob assures me that kitchen, living room and a rudimentary dining area will be waiting for her.

This is optimistic of him because where the renovation is concerned, we’ve been miles off-schedule since the demolition last November. Life in the forms of work and family have screwed with us from day one, and his insistence that my help just makes more work for him has meant that he’s mostly been the lone wolf handy-dandy guy on a project of such daunting scope that anyone who’s seen it, or heard about even, cannot believe we didn’t just sell the house as it was and buy a new one.

While Rob laboured like a dwarf in the semi-darkness on the electrical panel tucked away behind a furnace and water heater that also needed updating, I zealously attacked Dee’s room – again.

I’ve lost track of the number of hoarding interventions I’ve performed on that child’s room. Over lunch, I informed her I was cleaning in there and she immediately went upstairs and rearranged in that perverse way of territory marking she’s carried over from her toddler days. But my strategy is a simple one of steady attrition. If I move with caution and at a slow pace, eventually I will rid her space of all the pointless clutter, leaving behind only what is useful and what truly matters. So far, it’s been a great success.

A tedious, time-sucking on the magnitude of a black hole success, but I’ll take it.

My basic problem continues to be the lack of finished space which in turn clogs up the user accessible space with non-related items. And it limits the comfort of the accessible spaces too. For example, we have two very plush sofas that are currently humping each other under tarps in the corner of the living room that’s blocked off by the dishwasher that can’t be installed until the plumbing is in and by the fireplace, which can’t be installed because there isn’t enough workspace to do so because of the stacked up sofas.

Rob took off two afternoons and Friday last week in order to really book on the kitchen. He lost nearly one of those afternoon and all of that same evening on a child issue and half of Saturday in the city. Life competes and our kitchen loses.

It is just a kitchen, I remind myself when my patience wears thin enough that I am in danger of letting the sanguine veneer I project on the state of the house slip. I certainly don’t want to be one of those wives because the reality is that even living in a complete state of unfinished, my life rocks and rocks again by nearly any comparison that might be applied. But at ten months of total renovation and still counting, I will allow myself this heavy sigh and to express that I am tired of trodding on sub-floor and carting the dishes from the dishwasher and sink in the old kitchen to their new homes in cabinets in the new one. And I want to be able to sit on my sofa.

 


Three Legged Black Cat

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Monday marked the end to a very long weekend. One that began with a phone call early Friday morning from my sister, DNOS, and ended with a Father’s Day celebration at Edie and Silver’s Sunday evening. The evening being punctuated but not marred by my mediating a years old argument between DNOS in Iowa and our brother CB out in San Francisco.

And why? Because Baby is in the corner again.

I thought perhaps things had settled but on my way back from dropping Dee at school, Mom called me on my cellphone. As I was on a county road, I answered and let her know to call me when I got home. Yes, yes, I shouldn’t have answered at all. But my phone is an ancient piece of shit sans voice mail and caller id.

Given that Baby was still in the hospital, I feared the worst, but Mom only wanted to know if I was okay – after the mediation session the evening before – and to vent a bit. It is not easy being 79 and still called upon to parent as though your children were small and helpless.

But before I got home and called Mom back, I pulled into the driveway and saw a black cat.

It was just sitting on the stairs in front of the back porch, eyeballing me with the smuggest look I have ever seen on a cat.

After staring me down, it hopped down and sauntered towards the truck and as it passed, it swung a backward glance that can only be described as taunting.

And I thought – well, this can’t be a good sign.


Sweet Potato, Celery, Ginger and Orange Juice 3of3

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It’s day two of a juice fast that I foolishly suggested to my husband a few weeks ago. We’d meant to do and be done with it before our holiday before the May Long weekend, but time, space and another plague kept us from it. So I find myself juicing and hungry today.

For me, it’s day three of limited intake. The “rules” of the fast stipulate that a person should slowly eliminate foods from the diet and gradually decrease intake for about a week-ish prior to juicing. I held back on Monday and journeyed into yesterday with a half-empty tummy.

As I packed Rob off to work yesterday, I did my best imitation of a cheerleader,

“Aren’t you excited?” I said. “At the end of the week, you’ll feel light and revitalized. All those toxins flushed away.”

He regarded me quietly. His tummy rumbling in protest against a breakfast of orange juice and herbal tea.

“I don’t feel excited,” he said. “I feel hungry.”

By lunch, when we spoke again, it was, “I don’t care about being light or ridding myself of toxins anymore.”

And by the time he strolled in for dinner, “I am betting whatever smells really good isn’t the juice we are having for dinner.”

It wasn’t. I’d made veggie chilli for Dee.

“Why does she get to eat?” he asked.

“Dad! I’m too little to juice fast,” she chimed in quickly because the child’s self-interest is never far from the surface.

“Sweetie,” I needlessly pointed out, “she’s barely 50 lbs soaking wet. She can barely sleep through the night without chewing her own foot off.”

“A likely excuse,” he grumbled as she souped and he slurped back another glass of green goo.

Later at Dee’s soccer game, he asked,

“So, how long are we juicing?”

“Until Friday.”

“What?! Who decided this? I’ll be the husk of man by Friday.”

“You decided,” I reminded him.

“I think not.”

“Yes,” and I dug back in my memory for the tape of the conversation that basically had me pointing out that we should fast a couple of days and him over-ruling me in favor of the end of the week.

“I don’t recall it that way,” he said.

“Can you say that with certitude?” I asked.

When I spoke to him today right around lunch, he sounded like Frodo as he was slipping into the land of the Ring Wraiths.

“We can quit tomorrow night,” I offered. “Jade says that the body knows when we should eat food again and it should be listened to.”

“No,” he replied listlessly, ” I am committed.”

And I am involuntarily so.


Home Improvement (TV series)

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Because we don’t experience enough reno, Rob and I spent some evening sofa time (a sofa being something else we don’t experience these days) watching television, specifically home buying/selling and renovating shows on HGTV. There were shows about reno disasters put right. Lemon homes made right. Virgin home buyers. Jaded home buyers. Greedy, whiny home buyers and sellers. Decorating. Deck pimping. A smorgasbord of wood, plaster and tool-belts with nary an ass crack in sight.

One of Rob’s favorites is Mike Holmes, who is a contractor out east somewhere who’s built a home improvement empire. His show, Holmes Inspection, solicits home owners with issues that need correcting and these issues? Nightmarish and potentially hazardous to the unsuspecting who’ve entreated his guidance. If nothing else, this show should make even the most savvy home owner/buyer suspicious to her marrow of contractors and realtors. One poor couple called Holmes with a sewer back up problem in the basement that turned out to be termites that had eaten away the entire foundation of the side of their just purchased home. AND there was asbestos. Shudder.

Another program is all about the building of one’s dream deck because – apparently – we all lust for THE deck of decks and a London park manicured back yard in the bargain.

My favorites are the home buying shows. There is Love It or List It, which pits a renovator against a realtor. One tries to upgrade the existing home to coerce the owners to stay put while the other shows them listings in an attempt to get them to list and move away. Another show trots increasingly larger homes in front of couples looking to buy a new home, shining a white-hot spotlight on the true cause of the current housing debacle in the U.S. – greed. I watched dumbfounded as a couple argued that a 2000 sq foot home was not large enough for them and their toddler daughters. They eventually opted for a nearly 3000 sq foot home that they could barely afford and had no extra money to furnish or pony up for a lawn.

It’s all about the square footage. Two people – often – living in caverns. And everyone wants the largest master bedroom they can find. But to my mind, unless your sex life includes gymnastics and Tantric yoga, the space is wasted. Do people hold dinner parties in their bedrooms? No, they sleep. They don’t even have sex off the bed, which renders the master baths with separate showers and swimming pool like tubs a waste as well.

We are entering month six of the kitchen/living room reno. Rob simply doesn’t have time enough to progress any faster than he has, and between work, family and a winter of the child bringing home every disease under the sky, progress at times has been snail-like in movement.

“You know,” Rob said as we were watching the Deck Pimp, “maybe we could write in and get him to come and build us a deck.”

But if we are going whore our lives out (more than I do blogging anyway), I think we should think bigger and send a plea to Mr.Holmes.

I know what you are thinking though. They spent their holiday watching television?

We got to the Villa late Sunday because Dee came home from school the Friday before with a raging fever. It’s still going around up here and you luck out with a 24hr virus or one that lingers for a week. She was right as rain by Sunday morning, but the late start and the cold weather kept us indoors mostly Sunday evening and Monday. Rob brought his computer along because he had to check his work e-mail. No, really. He had to and I can’t say much more. And though I brought my netbook, I can’t say I really cared if I logged on or not. In fact, I was off-line until about Thursday and even then, I had no enthusiasm, barely checking the blogs.

So, it was television. And tv is awful. How do you people stand it? Reality and terrible drama and sometimes both at once.

There is a channel that’s devoted to hooking up, staying hooked, hooking. One centered on a matchmaker in NYC who actually schools ordinary folk in the art of landing millionaires. It’s like some awful Marilyn Monroe movie on Botox and pretension.

Anymore I am as bad as Dee, staring at flat screens as though I have never in my life seen one or didn’t spend most of my childhood glued to the tube.

But we always came back to the home based reality shows. I don’t know what that says about us. Boring things, no doubt. A sofa, a snuggle and a roaring fire is more holiday for us than you know and a little television a couple of times a year is less a brain rot than most people inflict on themselves.


In Simon Ushakov's icon of the The Last Supper...

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I haven’t commented on the wedding. It was a wedding. They are all the same on the surface, varying only slightly depending on the personalities involved and the tales told in the aftermath.

Dee loved being a flower girl but she has no use for Catholic ceremonies that involve/revolve around the mass. The last time she was in church was for my dad’s funeral in ’08. At that time, she and N2 entertained each other a bit and the ritual still fascinated her with its exotic qualities and mystery.

No more.

Cannibals At the Altar

At nearly nine, she listens. And her reactions ranged from frustrated – because she couldn’t participate in the rote recitation and response that is so drummed into me that I could follow a mass while in a coma – to horrified when she finally comprehended what the priest was saying at communion.

“Body of Christ,” he intoned as he placed a wafer on each tongue

Horror. That was her expression.

“He doesn’t mean that literally, ” I whispered.

Incredulous horror.

“Do you remember the Last Dinner painting?” I asked her.

She nodded. Da Vinci’s Last Supper is a favorite of hers. The Canadian public school system recognizes no separation between faiths and state though Christianity in its Catholic form gets the most play. Dee loves to talk about the “last dinner” and what happened.

“Do you remember that Jesus shared bread with his followers?”

Eyes begin to widen in growing comprehension.

“The priest is just doing what Jesus did,” I assure her. “It’s not really anyone’s body.”

“That would be gross,” she said.

Indeed. And yes, I know perfectly well that Catholics believe (or should at any rate – it’s so hard to know what Catholics actually understand about their own faith) about the host, but transubstantiation would sail over the heads of adults and I didn’t have time to get into that with Dee then.

Witnessing

Rob and I ended up being matron of honor and best man. It’s a better gig than reader though I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to explain the role reassignment and by the time I had to reassure Fr. Pat that all was well and truly figured out, I was thoroughly reminded of why patriarchal systems irritate me so completely.

Domestic Air Travel in Canada

The weather was wonderful. It warmed our spirits up considerably to be somewhere that snow wasn’t, and the air travel, aside from a few minutes of disaster movie like turbulence on the return trip, went smoothly.

Did you know that Canadians don’t remove footwear as they move through security for domestic flights? Nothing even slightly Gestapo-like in the screening area at all. Just quick, suspicionless inspection of bags and jackets.

However, I did find the security wonks at the Kelowna airport a bit lax in their reaction to an abandoned backpack. I noted it and, being an American I suppose, pointed it out to Security agent. When he radioed it in, he was told to simply “take it to the break room and I’ll look at it later.” As I haven’t seen any news reports about the Kelowna airport blowing up, I will assume that someone – who is clearly not an American nor has ever traveled by air in the U.S. – just forgot the whole “unattended bag thing”. Understandable because in the domestic travel areas of Canadian airports one doesn’t hear that automated voice droning on about responsibility and how “only you can prevent a terrorist incident”.

On A Break

This week, I officially asked for some time off at my paid blogging gig. Between reno, teaching and recurrent health issues, I need a real vacation.

For example, I didn’t take my netbook along last weekend. I didn’t check mail or blog or Facebook.

It was nice.

More than nice and has jumped-started my quest to balance virtual and actual reality toward the latter. Rob’s opinion is that until the Internet completes its inevitable split which will leave those without means trolling a UHF-inspired tier like bottom feeding fish, one should enjoy what is left of the web. It is a shadow of what it was even just a few years ago as the “entrepreneurs” continue to destroy its actual quality for the fastest bucks possible. But my eyes and interest are open to opportunities to free myself though probably not from my personal blog. I still enjoy my little corner of the blogosphere enough to resist attempts to make it bigger or shinier.

Family Matters

Rob picked out a movie for us at the bookmobile last evening. It’s never a good idea to watch a film on a weeknight and now with Dee’s bus driver on a mission to get us up as early as possible, it’s even less of a good idea, but we haven’t snuggled and viewed in a while (unless you count the “Hoarders” thing this last weekend and I don’t).

A 2010 flick called Mother and Child, which takes all the worst aspects of adoption from every possible angle and mushes them into one film. I am used to the misrepresentation of adoption – good and bad – but there was one thing in the film that made me incredibly sad. Sad enough that I cried when the movie was over.

There is the notion that it’s difficult for adopted children or birth parents to find each other. If the agency is known, most allow adoptee’s and birth parents to place contact info/letters in the file that both parties can easily access. Agencies will sometimes contact one party on the other’s behalf.

Both the mother and the daughter in the film write letters for their file, but due to miscommunication the mother doesn’t learn about her daughter until after the young woman dies.

Which was sad, but not what upset me.

The upsetting thing was being reminded that neither of my birth parents have ever contacted me. My information has been on file with the agency for 25 years. I haven’t thought about that for sometime now. Not looking for sympathy, mind you. Just an observation.

Last But Most

Both Rob and I are tired. In the last 6 weeks obligations have been plentiful and while we took care of them, the reno sat by idly a lot and we have gotten run down, over-tired and illness/injury prone. That’s being the grown-ups, I know. Suck it up, Buttercup.

But we now have a bit over a month to move a few mountains around before the obligatory family holiday to see folk down south and it’s just him doing all the work and just me trying to make the trains run around it.

This last weekend was a two nighter of bad mattress that has stove up both of us for much of this week, and a week or better at my mom’s (not to mention hotels there and back) promise more back and shoulder issues on top of exhaustion. Tripping to the States is about family. Not fun. Not relaxation. However, Christmas was exhausting and I don’t foresee resting up in advance of the trip. A dilemma that I am rolling around with now and for which I have no solution. Having pulled the holiday rug out from under Dee in November, I can’t see doing that again, but a hotel is a pricey option given the expensive Christmas followed by an unplanned for in the budget wedding and other miscellaneous.

“I am content never to leave home,” Rob pointed out as we discussed this today. I’d called him from the truck with the latest dental update (I’m not ready to discuss that).

“I suppose we could just start telling everyone that if they want to see us, they will have to come here.”

“No one would come then.”

A sad but true point. He and I are the wheel hubs in our families. If we don’t make it so, it just won’t be.

Just a good night’s sleep. That’s all I need. Oh, and to avoid further illness. At Christmas the new father-in-law left Rob and I the cold from hell as a parting gift. Today Rob got an email from his mother describing some virulent stomach/intestinal flu that they came down with last evening.  Nice.


Postcard picture for New Year's; eBay store We...

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I bring this up only because I was recently reminded that the last decade was fraught with “two-thousand this and that year” as people balked about the “aught” they ought to have employed.

For the fourth year running, we did nothing at all to mark the change-over. I haven’t gone out on New Year’s Eve since 2006 when I ended up at a local restaurant with a couple of girlfriends, one of whom – my BFF – tried to pick up strangers for me.

I had a little black dress for the occasion that I ended up not wearing because the evening was bitterly cold and icy. I think I was in bed by midnight and if I remember correctly, I chatted via email a bit with Rob. He’d gotten a midnight phone call from some widow on the board, who was stalking him with increasing intensity.

Aside from that low-key ringing in of 2007, the Aught’s weren’t noted for festivity on New Year’s Eve for me. I think 2000 was the last party I attended and I am pretty certain I haven’t had a raucous birthday celebration since that year as well.

Oh, I am dull.

Being stricken with colds from the depths of Tartarus, Rob and I cuddled up and watched the last few episodes of season four Tudors and then listened as the neighbors ran up and down the back alley blowing paper horns and shouting.

Fortunately, there were no gunshots trumpeting the new year as well. Back in the day, when I lived in Valley Junction, shotgun blasts cracked the midnight hour along with illegally obtained fireworks from just over the Iowa-Missouri border.

Sleep eluded me a bit due to congestion and an overall inability to find a non-awful position to sleep in. About five or so, I stumbled to the bathroom for pharmaceuticals to relieve blocked airways and some ibuprofen for the aches and pains and then slept til nearly noon.

It’s 4:38 as I type this and very little has been accomplished by me though Rob is grimly stripping sixty year old goo off the stud walls and wiring the front room for future awesomeness.

For Dee I created a knife and a lightening bolt out of paper towel rolls. She got the latest Rick Riordan novel from her great-auntie and we’ve been burning through it every evening before bed. The child desperately wants to be a child of a god and fight monsters. She’s torn between Zeus and Hades – don’t ask me why.  She’d rather be a child of Athena, I think, but she can’t bear to give me up as her mother.

I did manage a bit of online shopping for proper wedding wear. Though I prefer to try things on, between the driving and dealing with humans, online is easier and quicker.

We are flying to the Okanogan in a few weeks for Rob’s mother’s nuptials.

The Fiance is a nice man. Retired Air Force. Former drag-racer. Current collector of coins. Both Rob and Silver got on well with him as they found that easy language of men who reno and tinker. I noted that he and MIL don’t have many shared topics. Whenever one was talking the other’s eyes glazed, but what brings people together and holds them goes beyond laundry lists and hobbies – in my opinion. They held hands, shared knowing looks and somehow weathered a few revelations that I imagine would have torpedoed a good many couples when combined with family meet/greet and holiday stress.

Last year, aside from Spring Break in Iowa and a couple of camping weekenders, there was precious little vacationing. This year there is the upcoming wedding jaunt followed closely by Spring Breaking w/fam in the States and not long after – a week at the time-share in Fairmont. And all before summer, with its camping, arrives. Bounty indeed.

But I went casual for the wedding with Dee and I in a tunic and shirt dress respectively paired with leggings. MIL’s first wedding to Rob’s father was a Protestant church affair, so she is going all out Catholic with the trimmings this time.

“Have you ever been a to Catholic wedding mass?” I asked Rob to which he replied with a “have we met?” look.

“They can be … lengthy.”

He grimaced but with a “I’ll man up” undertone and I have to admit, I am less than enthused myself. I haven’t been to mass since dad’s funeral and before that I hadn’t bothered with church for several years.

For Dee the exotic nature of Catholic mass has worn off. When she was wee, she loved going with her Grandmother and cousin, but that was when wiggling, non-attentiveness was cute. At nearly nine, she can’t roam the pew, climbing and scooting without irritating or reflecting poorly on our parenting skills. Would her DS be beyond bounds of acceptable distraction or would a book be better?

I sometimes tried to sneak a novel along when I was in my young teens. Mom wasn’t that observant but Dad was a hawk. Most of the time, I read ahead in the missals. As a result, I am extraordinarily well versed in the bible for a Catholic.

As a treat, we’ve booked a suite at a resort hotel on the lake. Dee is elated. I am a bit paranoid about bedbugs and lice, but there’s a saltwater pool at least. We swam a bit at the Hampton, where MIL and Fiance stayed this last week. The water was so heavily chlorinated it gave me a semi-rash on my legs and scorched my sinuses. I haven’t tried saltwater and am hoping for the best.

Rob’s sister and her fella might be at the wedding too, so it has the makings of a family “do”.

The older kids would have a hard time getting time off and throw church into the mix – not much incentive to try.

Off to gag down  a cup of herbal tea and find a sweater, ironically, the warming trend here makes the house colder.

It’s twenty-eleven. Remember that now. No good to look stupid in the opening days of the new year after all.


Christmas in the post-War United States

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The always awesomely amazing Julie Pippert, who took a huge chance on me and gave me my start as a blogger beyond my own little realm, asked me if I would share my yoga journey at Choose You today.

Though I meant to blog for you dear readers, the Christmas Express is hurtling at me with deadly accuracy and with in-laws arriving today and the house still at half-ass status (not to mention the demonic dishwasher taking a header – again), my to-do list is long enough to make me cry.

So, head over to Choose You and I’ll update you on the state of progress – or my nervous breakdown – tomorrow.

Oh, and the tree pic? That would not be a representation of ours, which is still a pine-cicle by the swing set in the backyard.