Sunday, December 18, 2011

Embarrassing Christmas Confession

Oh God, help! I'm eating one of my Espresso Crinkles, fresh out of the oven; and the powdered sugar is choking me!  Koff!  Koff!

Simon was never into Christmas Music.  We didn't listen to it when he was home.  I actually have some cool Christmas mixes, courtesy of my friend Robert; so I was listening to those today.  But my embarrassing Christmas confession is that I have a favorite album that I wouldn't inflict upon ANYONE (except my kids).  This one.
"Winter Wonderland," by The Ray Charles Singers
Oh, no.  Not THAT Ray Charles. Because that would be cool, and this is really, really un-cool.  I think  that this may be called "lounge music" today.  In 1956, when it came out, this was, like, Christmas booty-call music.  Moooooooood music.  Mom told me it was the first record she and Dad bought after they were married.  It has a very dated-sounding chorus of about 10 people, accompanied by piano, guitar, drums, accordion (really) and harp (no joke).

Here we go!  Sing along with Kate.

The snow is snowing.
The wind is blowing
But I will wea-ther the storm! [All the voices climb way up high, then the men drop down one tone at a time.] [Sto-o-o-o-o-rm!] 
What do I care how much it may storm?
I've got my love to keep me warm.

[Time for the verse. Just the men.]

All summer I'll be playin'
out on the tennis court. [Men make "plonking" noises, or, like, "clip-clop" noises with their tongues.  That's supposed to be the tennis ball.  Get it?] [A woman's voice in the background calls out "Love, forty!"]
But in the winter?
Just like the groundhog I'll turn into an indoor sport.

Here's another one that kills me.

Win-ter, win-ter when the snowflakes start a'fallin'.
That's the time to squeeeeeze:  [Big slide up]
When it starts to freeze,
in October and November and De-cem-ber [slowing down]
just remember.

It repeats that same bit several times, then the men go into this descant.

This is nothin' Santa sent.
She's my heating element.
Come and meet my lady radiator. [YES!  They really say "lady radiator"!]
Would I guild a lily?
Mister, don't be silly.
I will not be chilly
In the wintertime!

I will have you know that I was able to slap down all these lyrics without a second thought, 'cause I have been listening to this record since forever.  I can remember when I was very small (Kindergarten or younger), lying on the living room sofa in the dark, lit only by the Christmas tree.  I would lie there all peaceful and dreamy, gazing at the tree while Mom got dinner ready, and listen to this record. 

The real thing must be long gone.  I have it on CD.  Dad made it for me maybe 15 years ago, burning the disc from the turntable.  Which means that it starts with the needle contacting the record.  And since this record had already endured more than 40 years of hard use, all of the original pops and hisses are there, along with the big skip in the middle of "Button Up Your Overcoat".

Watch the influenza [doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo]
Cause influenza sends a [doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo]
Influenza sends a
Fellow to the doctor for a shot!

[Two startling, percussive blasts on the accordion!  Blahp! Blahp!]

[And another one, even bigger!  BLAHP!]

Watch the streptococcus.
Don't let the streptococcus rock us.  [Would I lie to you?]
Baby watch yourself
at all times,
and until the temperature climbs....

Button up your overcoat,
When the wind is free.
Take good care of yourself!
You belooooooong toooooo meeeeee!

Friday, December 16, 2011

High Point, Low Point

High Point?  Budget Babe rules!  Today's paycheck was the one that achieved my saving goal, and I am proud because six months ago I didn't know a thing about my financial situation or how I was going to get by.  Now, my checking account has a reasonable amount in it, but not too much.  Enough that I know I won't go into overdraft, even if something crazy happens; but no more than that.  Then I have a savings account, called "Serious".  That is where I have been saving enough money that I would have a cushion if I lost my job or my cancer came back.  I reached my goal amount there.  I could keep socking money away there, but I've decided to reward myself by opening a new account, called "Fun".  Here's where I'm going to save up so I can travel.  Yay, me!

Low Point?  Big fight with Si.  He said weeks ago that he would keep the kids overnight tomorrow night, so I can go to a party.  Then he called me and said he wouldn't watch them after all.  Then he acquiesced and said "Fine.  Whatever you want."  Then tonight, he declared that he would not watch them.  At this point it is too late to get a sitter.  He's mad because, when he agreed to do it, he was happy and together with Debbie.  Now, he is trying to date; and he thinks he needs to have all his weekend non-custodial nights free to do this.  When I said that he had agreed to keep the kids, and that it wasn't fair to just cancel at the last minute because he felt like it, he turned on me and shouted that he didn't have to be fair.  He didn't have to be nice to me or reasonable with me because I had left him.  Then he stomped into the house (when I asked if we could talk about this away from the kids, he offered to let me discuss it outside while he checked the mailbox), locked the door and wouldn't let me in.  My purse was in there, and the kids were in there (Nate crying).  I had to stand there knocking at the door, asking to be let in.  Nate tried to unlock the door once, but Si didn't want him to.  Si finally let me in so I could get my stuff.  I understand his frustration; but he lets his rage just take over, and he doesn't care what he says or does.  I have asked for help with the kids a few times.  So has he.  Tonight, he told me that he has never asked for help with the kids, but I have helped him a couple times; and told him I would keep them while he went to Costa Rica on vacation in January (although, he has forgotten this,now, since he is split up from Debbie and probably not going to Costa Rica).  He also sent me dates for three business trips coming up in the spring! 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Never Home

I arrived at my apartment door today to find a pile of newspapers and a notice from the management, warning me that someone in our building has been making disruptive noise after quiet hours, and risked eviction.  "Well, it's not me," I thought, pulling the notice down.  "I'm never home."

This week has been particularly challenging in this regard.  Chuck and I usually stay at my place on Tuesday and Thursday nights; but this week, Chuck needed to pick up his friend from the airport late at night on Tuesday; and then he became ill.  I haven't wanted to disrupt him.  So, I have been staying at Aloha Road all week, only visiting my apartment to pick stuff up and drop stuff off.  This morning, Chuck wanted to know if we would stay at my place, but I declined.  We usually spend weekends at Aloha when we I don't have custody of my kids.  And he is still pretty stick.  I heard myself telling him that I far preferred staying at Aloha, and that I didn't like being at my apartment. 

I don't know why I said that. I actually DO like being at my apartment.  It's tiny, but it's clean and neat.  All my favorite pictures are on the wall.  I am surrounded by books I want to read, music I want to listen to.  I know what food I have and it's all food I like.  I never have to search in vain for the lid that goes with a particular pot. However, it is quiet and dull.  I never entertain there, because it is too damn small.  And it's far from my job and from Chuck.  Aloha, on the other hand,  is dirty and I feel like I am always cleaning the kitchen.  There is not a single place where I can read at night without having to turn on a whole ceiling full of indirect light.  BUT, it always has people.  At the moment, it appears that four to six  people may live there.  Someone is always around and I enjoy that.  It has little luxuries:  a fireplace; a sauna.  Cliff's dog and Chuck's cockatoo.  So, which place is better?  For a sociable person like me, Aloha is more pleasant, but super-inconvenient.  If someone has to be inconvenienced, I would always prefer that it be me rather than Chuck.   However, I have to haul clothes and books and whatnot back and forth.  If I want to cook something, I have to pack up all the ingredients and haul  this stuff up to Aloha.  Sometimes, I arrive with bags and bags of food.  It's ridiculous.  At my own place, I never wonder whether there will be cinnamon. 

The deal is that, with Chuck and me, someone always has to be away from home. 
There is no way to make this any easier.  I got home today and walked into an apartment that reeked of garbage because, when I last left, I didn't realize I would be gone so long. The clothes I had loaded into the drier were still a little damp and smelled of mildew.  I felt weak and ill because I had slept poorly the night before and hadn't eaten.  I poured some cereal.  The milk was whiffy, of course.

I flopped on the bed and covered myself with my afghan.  I slept deeply for a couple of hours. 

What to do about this? Would it really make my life easier to have a couple of changes of clothing at Chuck's? Nah.  I would still have to keep replacing them after I wore them home. Or, what?  Change again before I leave?  What about food and cooking utensils?  I haul stuff like books back and forth.  Yesterday's newspapers.  My plum pudding mould.  Toenail polish.  Stuff I forget to haul back and forth:  underwear, my glasses, Creamies.

Monday, December 5, 2011


I took the kids and Chuck to the Dollar Theater tonight to see Dolphin Tale.  Sappy and over-rendered, but Sara LOOOOOOVED it!  Chuck asked me afterward of it made me cry.  Only a teensie bit. Nothing like Charlotte's Web, which slays me!  The movie makes me cry like a baby, as does the book.  Especially the book, because it is tender without trying too hard. 

Are there books or movies that make you ball ridiculously?  So embarrassing.

Then we got ice cream.  Since I have become single, I sometimes amuse myself by getting the weirdest flavored ice cream in the store  At Baskin Robbins tonight, I got French Toast.  Imagine Cookie Dough and Maple Nut mixed together.  Well, it was an adventure.

Things I am supposed to be doing, but I am blogging instead:

Prepping a butt-load of chicken that I bought (79 cents a pound!) to freeze;
Sewing a button back on my coat;
Making sack lunches;
Offering the Computer Lab Assistant job to someone;
Filing bills, statements and letters;
Frosting Mint Sticks for Christmas;
Putting today's expenditures in my budget;
Mopping the floors;
Reorganizing one of my overcrowded kitchen cupboards, which is getting on my nerves;
Cleaning mirrors and windows;
Doing month-end administration for work.

I'd better get on the ol'chop-chop.

Just For the Record

Some of my blog buddies think that a lawyer has contacted me on behalf of my ex.  I need to set the record straight.  Simon would never do that (although there were times when he would have liked to take a blow-torch to my computer).  It is Chuck's ex that threatened legal action, and her attorney who is monitoring my blog.  Gotta be fair to Si.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


 I have a lot of experience with diaries.  From the age of thirteen to twenty five, I wrote in a spiral notebook every day.  My journals are heaped in a box in the basement of Simon's house.  Even random diaries seem to make their ways into my life.  I became the owner of this one after Dad died.  Minnie L. Burpee, Rockford, Illinois.  Who was she?  There are a few clues.  There's a newspaper clipping in there from the early 1950s: an obituary for a Mary L. Burpee, who died at age 104.  Also a letter to my grammy from 1959, written by her neighbor Blanche Burpee, who must be Mary's daughter.  Yeah somehow, my family has the diary of the mother of the next-door neighbor of my grandparents.
It's a beautiful diary, actually.  Dipped pen.  Pressed plants.  The first entry is January 15, 1871. "...I am reading Little Women am on the last volume. [Oh yeah, Little Women was NEW, once.] I like it very much if Jo had accepted Laurie I should like it all the better.  I am sitting in the kitchen writing while Eliza is busy getting supper and mother is warming her feet by the stove and reading."

I am enthralled, but even more fascinated by my inheritance of my grandfather's six diaries.  He started writing when he was about ten and continued writing through his early adulthood

Here's the first one.  "Weihnacht" means "Christmas" in German.  Luckily, he didn't write his entries in German:  even when my German was good, I had a hard time with old-fashioned German script.
As a boy, he wrote about ice cream and school.  He was a newsboy for a while.  After he had stood on the corner yelling, "Extra!  Extra!" he would write his daily headline shout-out in his diary.
Later diaries became kind of scrapbook-like as well.  He writes of chemical engineering, concerts and canoe trips.  Girls he dated.  His first real job after college. 

I drew my fingers just lightly through the tendrils of his story, picking up diaries and opening them without reading from beginning to end.  In this way I am beginning to know my grandfather, who died when I was one year old.  Turns out he was funny, good-looking, outdoorsy.  There were surprising revelations, too.  That (at times), he did not believe in God.  His father was a Methodist pastor who would have flipped his lid if he had known.  He had serious misgivings about marrying Grammy. They broke up; she almost married someone else - a widower with a couple of kids; they had long conversations at his kitchen table; he expressed dismay and a lack of respect for her; time passed; they got back together.

Wow.  News to me.  Not shocking in itself; but surprising to think that people about whom I had heard only the best and most upstanding things had their moments of anger and uncertainty, self-analysis and elation.

Do diarists write for themselves or for others?  Did Grandpa know, when he was writing down his disappointment about Grammy, that we would all be reading it later, slack-jawed with fascination?  Well, no, in that he didn't know at that time that Grammy was going to BE Grammy.  She was a girl that he dated, broke up with, dated again.  He didn't know the future, but was just recording where his feelings were at that moment.  The answer to the question is also "Yes", though; in that he saved diary after diary as the years went by.  Did he do that because he wanted us to be able to see the whole arc of his life after he was gone?  Or so he could look at that arc himself and understand himself better?  Beats ME!

Blogs are similar.  Public and private at the same time.  Blogs can sometimes shock readers with their revelations; but dairies have always done that.  And not just years down the road.  Think of the times you pulled your sister's diary out from under her mattress and picked the lock. "Ah-hah!  She DOES love Billy Telodoro!  I'm tellin' everybody!  OR, maybe I won't tell anyone if she washes the dishes and takes the trash out for the rest of our natural lives..."

Or think of the movie scene.  Girl pulls diary out of mother's messy closet and flips it open.  The violins swell as she reads and clutches her breast in shock.  "SO!  I'm ADOPTED.  Why didn't you tell me!?!?!"  "Darling, we didn't want you to know...different!" 

Dairies and blogs both get their authors in trouble sometimes. 

I have received a letter from a lawyer, asking me to refrain from mentioning a particular person in this blog and threatening me with legal action if I don't immediately remove references to the Person in Question (hereafter referred to as PIQ) and never refer to PIQ again.  I have also been told that I cannot privatize my blog or restrict access to it in any way, because the lawyer wants to check on me and make sure I am obeying.  I'll bet what's really going on is that she wants to try my bagel recipe or read one of my awful book reviews, since my blog is 99% about things other than PIQ.

I could always move the entire blog to a new address.  I might still do that if I feel the need for privacy (don't worry, my readers in Uganda will always find me.)  In the meantime, I will write about what ever is on my mind: whatever is bugging me; causing me to ponder; making me happy or getting my attention.  And today, that will be....

Ten things far more interesting than empty threats on law-firm letterhead:

  1. The weight room at the Rec, where I lifted more on the triceps machine than I have ever lifted before.
  2. Fiats, because I think I am going to buy one  A yellow one.  Or maybe a red one.
  3. The homemade chili that Chuck made last night and left at my place for me to enjoy.  Nathan declared it very tasty when he had some with cornbread tonight.
  4. Margaritas, which interest me at the moment because I DIDN'T have one today at the Guadalupe staff Christmas party.  Orders from the bar cost extra and I want to save the money so I can buy Christmas presents.  I'm craving one, now.
  5. My aunt, who called me up today, and with whom I had numerous laughs. We were talking about smoking and she told me a story that gets its own blog entry tomorrow.
  6. One of the candidates for the Computer Lab Assistant job that I posted last week.  She is from Liberia and has experience with refugee resettlement work and has taught job skills to people with developmental disabilities.  
  7. A dance performance at the School for the Performing Arts.  It was for children, with lots of furry woodland animals.  The best part was watching Nathan, who enjoyed it hugely, although he thought the squirrels were hyenas.
  8. Holiday baking, which is starting to loom large on my horizon.
  9. The big bag of blankets that were donated to the school by my friend Jeff from the Utah State Office of Education.
  10. The prospect of bed, since it is almost 2 AM.