Friday, February 28, 2014

Facing My Old Coffee Mugs

For all you you NPR listeners out there, it's time for the Listener Limerick Challenge.

There once was a woman named (let's say) Maisie;
And people would say she was crazy;
Cuz the workout she'd planned
She'd reject out of hand.
The truth was that Maisie was ...lazy!

Yay!  You win!

I did not go to the weight room today, as planned.  I should have.  

I am still very unhappy and feel that there is something troubling in my relationship since last weekend's police incident.  I'm trying not to dwell on it, because Chuck appears not to sense anything wrong.  It is probably just me, over-thinking.

We woke to find the hot water heater had died.  Fortunately, we have three:  one for bathing; two for heating the house.  Chuck just re purposed one of the heating ones to it would be for bathing, and we are good to go.  A least unless it gets really cold again. 

I spent the day with my former husband, who needed minor sugary.  I picked him up, took him to the hospital, was with him in recovery, took him home and got him comfy there before a friend came to spell me.  We have not spent more than three minutes in each other's company since we divorced three years ago.  It was very odd to pull his pants on and tie his shoes; odder yet to sit and chat with him about inconsequential things.  The oddest thing, though, was being back in my old home.  I took off his socks and knew exactly where the laundry hamper was.  Same kettle, same pillow cases.  No need to ask where the mugs were. I opened the cupboard, and there were a bunch of my old coffee cups staring back at me.

Thursday, February 27, 2014


Today the rain is pouring down; but yesterday was beautiful!  A false spring for Utah.
There is a lot to be happy about in my life, but I am struggling.

Chuck is on an inventive streak:  he's building dining chairs for his daughter; and in the process, learning a lot about bending wood.  He uses my electric roaster as a steamer.  He's building a new frame for his river raft that has integral dry boxes made of balsa and fiberglass.  He has started doing home inspections with his friend Pat again.  It requires an app; so he bought himself a smart phone, which makes a WiFi hot spot and so our pathetic Internet is vastly improved.  He customized a roof rack for my car.  He is taking Spanish classes and loves playing with DuoLingo.  We have been going out, meeting new people, drinking, dancing, having fun.

The kids are happy and doing great in school.  I have been working hard in preparation for Guadalupe School's move to our new building.  I've been asked to serve on a couple of high-level committees, including one for the Center for Applied Linguistics.

And spring is coming!  So, what's not to celebrate?

Yet, my confidence in our happiness is wobbly.

I don't suffer from depression.  I do get swept up in event-related turbulence.  We had a home invasion situation last Saturday (right after I posted my Six Word Saturday about the joys of an uneventful day!) that was horrifying to me.  I can't tell the details of it at this time, but the police had to be called and it was very scary.  Since then, I haven't slept through the night.

Last night, I went for a long run around Cottonwood Heights after work.  It felt so great to be outdoors after the long winter of running on the track.  I ran hard and dominated the hills!  At the top of the biggest one, I stopped to catch my breath and thought, "I'm a bad-ass!  I even spit like a bad-ass!  And I blow my nose on the sidewalk like a bad-ass!"  I went home feeling like I was getting myself back together emotionally.  I had a hot shower and went out for supper with friends.  But as I lay waiting for sleep, I thought about the future in light of what happened.  I woke up with a start at 2:30 AM, my mind racing and my legs SCREAMING!  I took a bunch of Ibuprofen, but could not get back to sleep.  Finally I left the bed and went to sleep on the sofa, where I could squirm and be miserable without waking Chuck.

In the morning, Chuck came to kneel beside the sofa and ask if I was OK.  I went back to bed, he lay down next to me and I dropped off again for a couple of hours.  But I am exhausted, uncertain about our future happiness in the Canyon and fighting hard to stave off sadness.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Chats on the Farmhouse Porch

Hi, Patrice!

Sorry to be late for todays' chat.  I was preoccupied with a story for Wendell!

1.  Have you been watching the Olympics?

No.  We don't have TV.  And I have some gripes with the Olympics.  Why no women's ski jumping until just this year?  Why have they dropped Greco-Roman wrestling from the Summer Olympics?  I am becoming cynical and beginning to think that it is less about sport and more about TV viewing audiences.

2.  Does the grey winter affect your mood?

Not too much.  I do OK.  We live in a very narrow and high-walled canyon, so our house sees its last sunshine at about Halloween, and we get back our first little kiss of sunshine about now.  Chuck called me just yesterday to tell me that there was a sunbeam on our living room floor!  It was only there for 10 minutes, but it will be there longer tomorrow.

3.  When was the last time you held a baby?

Wow, it's been years.  The last baby I held belonged to an adult student in my ESL program.  The baby was fussy and distracting her mother, so I took her for a little while.

4.  Do you do a thorough spring cleaning every year?  

No.  I do heavy cleaning all year long, a little at a time around the house.

5.  A bedtime story for Wendell:

OK, Wendell.  This is not my own story, but you will like it.  It's about a horse named Charlie.  Charlie was a hard-working horse.  He and his farmer worked hard all year.  Charlie loved to work and to be with his farmer.  He really loved going to town, pulling the farmer's wagon.  There was a baker in the town.  She was a sweet, pretty lady and she made apple tarts every afternoon at her bakery.  Every day at 5:00, she would ring her bell, and people would come to buy her apple tarts.  When Charlie was in the town at 5:00, she would give him a tart of his own.  It was yummy!

But, one day, the farmer patted him and said, "Charlie, you are a wonderful work-horse, but you are getting old.  It's time for you to relax and rest!  No more work for you."  He put Charlie in a pasture, and there Charlie stayed.  Charlie was so sad!  He was bored!  He got sadder ad sadder every day.  Then, one afternoon, he heard the baker's bell at 5:00.  He couldn't stand it any more!  He kicked at his fence and broke it.  He jumped out of the pasture and he galloped all the way to town.  He came to the bakery to get his apple tart from the pretty baker.  All the people in the town were happy to see him.

He went home again to the pasture.  But, every day at 5:00, he jumped out of the pasture and ran to town for his tart.  For some reason, the old farmer never fixed his fence.  Do you think the farmer knew Charlie's secret?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Festivity Jam

The second week of February gets a bit hectic at our house.  There's Valentine's Day and the birthdays of both my children, five days apart.  

This is why I haven't blogged all week:  almost non-existent Internet; and too many holidays.  Valentine's Day was fairly easy, although Chuck and I are still figuring it out.  We both agree that Valentine's Day is a crock-of-shit Hallmark contrivance; that we don't need a holiday to remind us to be loving to each other; and we SURE don't need a holiday that forces us to spend money on each other.  He actually asked me this year, how would we celebrate Valentine's Day?  I laughed out loud and said that he had been very opinionated in the past about his contempt for the day, so why was he bringing it up again, now?  Well, he didn't want there to be unmet expectations.  Nope.  I didn't expect anything.  Which was good.  Although he did come to the grocery store with me when I did the shopping and bought me some Junior Mints.  Cool.

BUT.  I had found this little can, shaped like a mailbox, for a dollar at Target.  It has a little flag that goes up.  For a verbal person like me, this seemed like a gift that might keep on giving.  I can put messages in it anytime!  So, I bought it; and made a little Valentine and put it in there.  And when one of my students gave me two tamales, I only ate one, and put a little note in the mailbox with the Valentine, telling him to look for a treat in the fridge.  Sharing tamales = true love.

AND... I went to a local sexy-stuff store and bought...let's see, how to avoid over-informing my delicate readers?  An item that I had been wanting for a while that wasn't really for him as much as it was for me but that he certainly didn't object to at all.  If you know what I mean.

Sara's 15th birthday was yesterday, but we celebrated on Saturday.  It is her turn to have a big party this year (the kids have to rotate that privilege, in the name of my sanity and household budget).  She chose to forgo a birthday cake in favor of an ice cream sundae bar; no presents either.  She only wants a letter jacket - she lettered in Cross Country.  Do you know how much those thing COST!?  Holy shit!  That is all she's getting.  She also wanted to have a paintball fight in  the woods around the house.  I went to a paintball place to rent the guns, balls, helmets, etc...  That was a very boy-dense environment.  I haven't seen that many awkward pubescent Ninjas and Green Berets in one place, ever.  The smell was almost barn-like.

Sara and her friends were out on the woods shooting each other until dark, then came in for ice cream.  Most of them ended up staying, shooting pool, etc... until almost 9 PM.  I had roasted a turkey during the day (well, we generally go to Santa Barbara for Thanksgiving, and I miss having a whole turkey all to myself), and made turkey Pho for everybody who was still around.

Nathan's 12th birthday is supposed to be more low-key.  Just family.  He was with his dad on his actual day.  We went in together on a telescope for him.  He has brought it to my house and it is currently living in our bedroom, so he can take it out on our balcony and try to find stars.  I say "try" because we have had many days of gloomy weather here in Salt Lake.  He was a little frustrated, but managed to look at some of the stars in Orion last night.

I felt bad, though, that his dad hadn't done any kind of cake, candles, embarrassing song, or any other observation of the day.  "Too busy," Si told me.

Well, OK.  I will do a cake.  Nate likes ice cream cake.  What if we made one together, ourselves, instead of ordering it?  We won't have it on the actual birthday, but we could have it on Sunday...  Well, that's technically Sara's birthday, but Nathan is the one who wanted a cake...

OK, I don't want to hear a PEEP from all you accomplished cake-bakers out there, about the right way to make an ice cream cake.  We baked a layer cake, then put a half-gallon of ice cream in the stand mixer to make it smooth and spreadable.  We cooled the cake to room temperature before filling and frosting it, then popped it straight into the freezer.  Next day, uh...
 Does that look all soft and melty to you?  Think again!  It is hard as a rock.  Chuck looked at this and wondered aloud whether we should have not just cooled the layers, but actually frozen them before adding the ice cream.  I scratched my head and felt grateful that only family (and our friend Cliff, who is also family) was seeing this, and that I had not committed this folly to be served to ten of Nate's friends, or something.

Don't worry Mom.  We have Reddi-Whip.  Oh, God.  Those words from a kid are equivalent to an adult saying, "Dude!  Hold my beer and watch this!"

After collaborative application of Reddi-Whip, as in, "Give it here!  No, I want to do it!  It's hissing!  It's almost out!  You're doing it wrong! Gimme that!" (What is it about those Reddi-Whip cans that makes people act like five-year-olds?)  We wound up with this, complete with candles that were last used on someone else's birthday cake.

We sang:
Happy birthday to you on Sara's birthday,
Happy birthday to you on Sara's birthday,
Happy birthday even though it isn't,
Happy birthday to you on Sara's birthday! 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Thursday Thirteen

As a Thursday Thirteen, and as a tribute to my blog-buddy Maria, who confessed to her worst parenting moments, I will list my Favorite 13 Bad Parenting Moments.  In chronological order.

1.  I looked upon the face of my two-week old daughter, as she nursed mindlessly and greedily after a night of screaming her colicky head off; and I thought, "You are a monster.  And a cannibal."

2.  I lay sick in bed, burning with fever, my six week old daughter tucked in the bed next to me, and apologized profusely to her from bringing her into this world.

3.  I let baby Nathan bounce blithely on the kitchen counter in his baby bouncer until he bounced himself off the edge, crashing to the floor on his head.

4.  I have spanked them both.  Once each.

5.  I applied Desitin to Nathans' chapped little hands at night once, not realizing that he would rub his eyes in the night and get a chemical burn.  When we left the Insta-Care the next day, Nathan turned to me and said, "Well, Mom, for parenting, that was got a solid B-minus."

6.  Despite the fact that I am an educator, I refused to join the PTA; would not be a classroom mother.  When the president of the third grade mothers (or whoever she was) called me one night and asked me to make enough royal icing for 25 kids to make gingerbread houses the following morning, I didn't just say, "no."  I cackled and THEN said, "no."

7.  I hate watching their soccer matches.  I used to bring a book and read surreptitiously.  Now I bring a book and read openly.

8.  Once, when my daughter was ten, I forgot to bring the soccer treat for half-time, causing the team mom to shout, "No treat!  No treat!  Quick, does anyone have any carbs?  We need to get carbs into these girls, stat!"  Yeah, she said "Stat."

9.  I left their father.

10.  After I moved out, I lived in a small apartment and they had to share a room.

11.  I let them watch R movies.

12.  I swear, and then scold them for swearing.

13.  I hate shopping with my daughter.  So much that I gave her a shopping afternoon for Christmas, and she was astounded, as if I had handed her a bar of solid gold.  I was great during our afternoon together, for about three hours; after which I started to fade:  fidgeting and checking the time.  "My feet hurt.  I'm thirsty.  Are we done yet?"

But the really sick thing is that me kids are turning out OK, and they like me.  Most of the time.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Spice Art

When I shake it, it will become Ras el Hanout, a Middle Eastern spice blend.  Until then, it is art.

Monday, February 10, 2014

January Ends in Pictures

 I know!  It is February 10, and I am just NOW posting my January pictures.  My life has been a little bit hectic lately.  At any rate, I awoke to fresh snow, which caused mild consternation, as Chuck was away and I don't know how to drive the snowplow.
 Hi, Tobi!  Want to come out and stretch your legs?
 Morning chores include stoking the wood stove...
 ...and, on Fridays, making a shopping list for the coming week.

 Tobi is so cute when she is lounging on the warm floor;
 But not so cute when she makes mischief.
 Time to get ready for work.  This is sitting on my nightstand.  I found it in Grammy's photos.  Who is this person?  Why the hell is he hand-feeding a deer?  I'll ask my mom.  She might know.
 I'll take a book with me.  I have to drive Sara to a soccer match this afternoon - I'll want something to read.
 And I'll take a sled, too.  What if it snows a lot and I can't drive to the house?  I'll need a way to haul my groceries.
 Recreation center.

 One of my colleagues at another school has a surplus of these.  She was kind enough to share.  Now we can offer them to all of our new Citizenship students.

 Better take some of this work home.

 Time to pick up Sara and take her to soccer.
 Where is she?!?  Turns out she got a ride with the mom of another player on the team, in order to spare me the trouble of taking her.  Unfortunately, she failed to inform me of this, so I left work and showed up to get her anyway.  She also forgot her phone at home, so it took me about half an hour to figure out what had happened.  Yay!  Good helping, Sara!

 Beets!  Chuck's away, so we will eat his "hate-food".

 Goody!  I was able to drive to the house after all.
 Uh-oh.  Looks like I need to fill the wood box...
 ... and shovel.
 I brought the wood as far as the porch.  The kids can bring it in this evening.
 Look at Sara!  She knows she screwed up about the soccer match.
 Breakfast for supper!  Chuck likes this, too; but he usually likes an eggy breakfast-for-supper, and the kids and I like an occasional pancake blow-out.  Banana walnut, anybody?
 Nate and Sara are not yet competent pancake-makers.  Given their ages and the ubiquitous presence of "Krusteaz" in our pantry, there is really no excuse.  Time to practice.
 Here are Sara's

 After supper, I became a little blue.The house seems a bit sad without Chuck, despite the children.  I spent some time playing with Scarlett; but I also spent some time in front of the fire, contemplating my navel.

Saturday, February 1, 2014