Monday, April 27, 2015

The Ups! The Downs!

Today, I had more than my share of teen drama.  Good lord.  Where do I even start?

Nate has two really good friends:  L & L, who are twin brothers.  Last week their mother died of a sudden heart attack, just out of the blue.  This was difficult for Nate to navigate:  thirteen-year-old boys don't have the most delicate social sensibilities.  He really wanted to be a good friend; so we went to the funeral together, and I encouraged him to text them every few days to say, "Hi".  They returned to school this week; and this weekend is their thirteenth birthday.  Their father has planned an epic blowout.  They are going to go to the amusement park in a big RV, spend the whole day there, then spend the night in the RV in the amusement park parking lot.  Even Sara said, "Dude, that sounds SICK!" (which is a good thing, by the way.)  Only problem is that he has a soccer match scheduled that day.  After initially saying that he had to miss the party for the soccer match, because he has already committed to the match, I relented in the name of his friends, who could use a few laughs.  But how to finesse it with his coach?  And his dad?  I do not like lying.  But I have to admit that, "Coach, I need to skip the match so I can go to my friends' birthday party." makes me want to come up with something different.

The best story today, though, comes from Sara.  Sara has a boyfriend named Ilan; and last month, they attended his ROTC ball together.  So, when they discussed his senior prom, they decided not to go.  Neither of them felt like it.  Then Ilan texted Sara last night to report that his dad is making him go.  MAKING?  How do MAKE a kid go to prom?  What ever happened to the good old days and, "I'm not going and YOU CAN'T MAKE ME!" Ilan isn't good at saying no to his dad, though.  His dad insists that it is a once-in-a-lifetime event, and cannot be missed.  Sara really doesn't want to go.  She and Ilan go to different schools, so she won't know anyone.  I'm on her side; except that, since Ilan has to go, she should support him by going.  After some eye-rolling and quavering exclamations out why she shouldn't have to do this, she agreed.

Renewed upset his afternoon when she realized we were going to need to get him a button-hole.  No worries, I told her. We'll get him something cream-colored to go with your cream and gold dress.   But check on the color of his suit. 

He will be wearing a tux.

He will be wearing his father's tux.  His dad used to be a hot-shit banker in Singapore and had all of his suits tailored.  I assured Sara that Ilan would look great in a tux, and that her dress is adequate to be worn in the presence of the tux. 

Ilan texted again to say the tux was black and gold.  I was trying to picture it.  Black and gold? 

Ian sent her a picture of the tux.  It was definitely tailored in Singapore.  It is Singaporean in its style, complete with Nehru collar and wide gold trim.  Since Ilan's family hails from India and he is comfortable in his Asian skin, I think he is going to pull it off perfectly and look smashing.  There are no lapels, so I'm not totally sure how the button-hole fits into the picture, but we can figure it out. 

Sara was beside herself.  They will look ridiculous!  The other kids will spend the evening judging her and Ilan. 

Mom, prom is all about the judging! 

Makes me wish that now, as a middle aged woman, I could go to prom.  Chuck and I would have a ball!  We would wear coordinated outfits, laugh too loudly and make unreasonable music requests.  "Ma-vis!  Sta-ples!  Ma-vis! Sta-ples!"  Sara was not amused. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015


Today I woke to snow.

There had been talk of starting work on our sailboat project.  Step one:  pressure wash the inside of the bare hull to know out all the dead leaves and wasps nests.

But instead we made a fire in the cook stove and I baked lemon bars.  I made chicken mole in the crock  pot.  Chuck and I had an afternoon nap, which did include sleeping... after a while.  I repaired the broken wicker basket that sits on the table and holds napkins.  While I was at it, I attached things to the sides of it:  an old earring; a tiny "Hello Kitty" charm; a key; a spoon; a press-on metal letter from the mailbox.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hey, Hey, My, My

Today I took advantage of the warm weather to start mucking out the cleaning out my car.  Since I had an awkward mom-taxi route this afternoon, I didn't bother going home between dropping off and  picking up.  I brought wet rags and paper towels and Windex and Simple Green to the park where Nathan has soccer practice and just worked on it there.  It was a blue-sky, petal-strewn day; so I had the windows down and cranked KRCL, my favorite music station.

KRCL is a community station with mostly volunteer hosts doing a crazy mish-mash of programs.  Very much like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates.  There's a Native American show with lots of drumming; The Bluegrass Express; The Fret and Fiddle Show; Red White and Blues; a Reggae show, the  name of which I can't remember ("All killer, no filler!"); world music;  a meditation show with lots of trickling water and chimes; a very sentimental Pacific Islander show hosted in Tongan; Acoustic Sunrise; a youth show on Monday evenings; really weird electronica late at night.  Late afternoon is Drive Time, which tends slightly toward classic rock, but might include Beatles tunes in French or something.  They also have a daily spot called "Guilty Pleasures".  You can call in a favorite song that embarrasses you.  By ABBA, maybe, or John Denver.  Today it was the Commodores.

Perfect car-cleaning music.  Mavis Staples; Simon and Garfunkel inviting me to hang out with Julio down by the school yard;  Neil Young.

Hey, hey, my, my/
Rock and Roll will never die

Chuck is home from his river trip none the worse for wear except his big toes.  He will lose both nails, I'm pretty sure.  I amused him yesterday with the Worst Striptease I could come up with.  I tossed my dirty sneakers in the air.  I pretended I couldn't unhook my bra without turning it around in front. I toppled over with my pants around my ankles.  I twirled my dainties around and threw them at him but missed and sent them flying across the room, with the exception of my dirty socks, which landed expertly on his head.

He told me it was super hot.  How old married couples get it on.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Today I...

I don't know how many of you listen to The Diane Rehm Show on NPR, but I love it and listen to it almost every day.  So yesterday, Diane was interviewing a novelist named Heidi Julavits about her new book, "The Folded Clock".  It is, in fact, a diary:  a compilation of entries Julavits kept over the course of a year or two.  She read several passages and I was blown away by the beauty of her writing. 

She spoke movingly about the desire to take a moment at the end of each day to acknowledge that day and find something to make it stand out from the collection of days before and after.  She called it "a type of meditation".  This resonated with me.   She said that it helped her to encapsulate her thoughts by starting off each entry with, "Today I". 

Today I had interesting phone calls. 

My friend Cliff called me, baffled by a call he received from a woman he had casually dated a couple of years ago.  He wanted my opinion on the matter, because this woman was a student at my school when she and Cliff met.  Like that gives me any insight.  The last time they met for coffee, she told him that she was in love with a man; that she had just had a baby girl.  That must have been about two years ago.  Why did she call him out of the blue and ask if he wanted to get together for coffee now?  Well Cliff, my guess is that she has broken up with her guy  and is interested in seeing if you are available.  I asked him whether he was still interested in dating her.  He declared, "that ship has sailed".  Just as well.

Then I had a call from my cousin Anita.  She is coming up to Salt Lake from Phoenix next weekend for the wedding of her youngest son.  When I heard she was coming, I asked her if she wanted to stay with me; but she told me she planned to stay in Provo with her middle son.  She was looking forward to that:  she has a brand new baby grandson there she wants to see.  And she wants to spend more time with her daughter-in-law, who she says is a little stand-off-ish with her.  She called me this evening, though, to take me up on my offer.  Her middle son has found out that she smokes marijuana, and said that he can't have her in his home.  I pointed out that this is understandable.  Why not just leave the weed at home?That was not the problem.  She isn't welcome in his home because she HAS smoked it. Therefore he doesn't want her in proximity to his family.  Judgemental little twit.  Punitive, unctuous, Utah County stuffed shirt.  I told her to bring her swim suit so we could soak in the hot tub and that we would have a great time. 

Chuck is home tomorrow, and I can't wait to see him.  I am being mocked by my friends, who agree that a week without the husband is paradise.  I know it is pathetic to miss him - actually, I think part of it is that he's not just gone.  He's GONE.  Off the grid.  So it isn't like I can call him or text or anything.  I haven't heard a thing in a week.  That's different! 

The wind must be picking up again.  I can hear the house starting to creak.  Bed!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Letter to Chuck

Hello, Darling-

I hope you are staying warm on your excursion.  There is a font blowing in, and snow expected up here tomorrow.  It might be warmer in Canyonlands; or it might not.  I am picturing you happily paddling away during the day and trading bullshit stories by the fire at night.  And hopefully not sleeping too cold with just that bivvy bag.

It was a windy Easter today.  So windy that working in the garden was not fun.  I retreated with bits of gravel and twigs in my hair.  I found a couple asparagus stalks, though!  That was the good news. The bad news was that Sara asked if she could clean up one of the raised beds, and then proceeded to just rip out all my Russian Sage that I put in last year.  She didn't realize until it was too late.  (Sigh). 
She has been doing an excellent job of doodling on the freezer door, though.  She would like you to cover the whole wall next to the stairs in white-board surface, so she can doodle wildly all over it.  I told her to ask you when you get home. 

Let's see... what else happened today?

Cliff and the boys came down for supper.  He brought lamb; I made a roasted beet salad, rolls and a pecan pie.  Pecan pies continue to baffle me.  In this case, my main problem was that I only have a deep-dish pie pan, now.  I need to replace my regular pie pan.  Trying to fit the pie to the over-deep pan meant that the crust did not go up and over the sides, which meant that it shrank.  That, in turn, meant that when the filling began to bubble and expand, the brown sugar syrup seeped down between the crust and the pan.  The result was a burnt-sugar area that looked like obsidian.  No kidding, there was one piece we could see our reflections in!  The rest was pretty good, though.   Luckily, it was just the Hammonds.  Cliff always says that he likes my flops.  He actually dug around, looking for the burned bits.  I doubled the amount of pecans in the pie, because I like more nuts and less gel.

I filled Cliff in on our plans for the Rogue River.  Yes, he will drive the van home; so you and I can depart straight from the take-out to Seattle to meet your family for the cruise.  

Because of the wind, it became imperative to get rid of the dead raspberry brambles that I pruned the other day.  The wind blew my bramble heap apart:  we won't be able to go barefoot out there for half the summer!  I gathered everything (almost) back up and the kids and I wrapped it in a tarp.  We went for a walk this afternoon and dragged it out to the dumpster.  We hiked up the Little Cottonwood Trail, pausing frequently so Sara could take photos.  There is a notice posted on a fence post up there that says that, if the Wasatch Mountain Accord is approved, the proposed canyon rail line will follow the path of the Little Cottonwood Trail!  No way! A train clattering past?  Nothing like killing the quiet AND lowering our property value at the same time....  I had better find a minute to sit down and read the Mountain Accord carefully.  We are still in the public comment period.  God, just when we had won the battle of the wood burning stoves, we have to go another round? 

Your ex appears to be in a major hurry to get her home building project done.  She had a guy in there all day yesterday ('til dark) and until 5 PM today (EASTER, for Pete's sake). 

I am staying busy and trying not to miss you too much. Company for supper last night and tonight; two major projects I want to work on; looking forward to dinner out with Shirley and Rebecca on Wednesday. Still, I find that I count the days until you are home again.  I will have a stockpile of hugs and kisses waiting. 

PS!  You basement is LOADED with tools.  Implements of every kind.  In the garage today, I even encountered what I guess I would call a DRIFT of small hand-tools, like pliers, up against one of the walls.  I went in search of a nail.  A nail.  Couldn't find one. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Rye and Roy Orbison

Not to mention a hot bath and my "rocket" pajamas.  What more do I need?  Oh, him.  He has taken off on a river trip, tying Old Dent, my family canoe, onto the big van and heading into The Maze section of Canyonlands.  Canoeing, backpacking, canyoneering:  all my favorite stuff!  But, when we were invited on the trip, Simon had told me that he would be out of town on business, and he needed me to have extra custody.  Then, after all the plans were made and permits acquired, his trip dates changed. 

Pfffft.  That's me, deflating.

Ah, well.  I will miss him.  But you know how it is when your spouse goes away and you are on your own.  Loneliness tempered with odd moments of liberation.  I mean it is 11:22 PM; and I am still up, blasting "Mystery Girl" without a care.  If Chuck were here, he would have been in bed for an hour already.

The day was sunny, but cold.  Too cold for gardening.  After seeing Chuck off, I went to work and met with one of the teachers about her lesson plans.  Her lesson plans, over the past year, have become so much more connected; better pacing; cleaner objectives.  I was happy to be able to tell her how great they were; and she was happy that I was happy.  That was probably my high point, today. 

Nate is sick, now.  I picked him up after work, and he greeted me with mute outrage.  He's mad at me because I "made him sick".  Dude, we're a family.  It's one of the things families do for each other.  Well, his sense of humor is a bit compromised by his throat, which feels "as if he's being stabbed in the neck".  [Sigh] I can empathize.  It really was about that bad.  I got him settled with juice and Ibuprofen.  Then Sara called me and said that she wanted to have supper at her boyfriend's house.  I swear, I am not Italian; but I kind of roll that way when it comes to having supper together.  I stood there on the front steps, mouth opening and closing like a fish.  But, but, but, I'm making a new chicken and rice dish (I did not mention the chard)! And Nate's sick!  And Chuck's gone!  No one to cook for.  I was bereft.  That may have been the low point. 

Oh, here was another good thing.  I read a quote by John Lennon that I loved.  I am paraphrasing rather than quoting, but it was something like, "When I was a kid, my mother told me that the most important thing in life was to be happy.  So, in school, when they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, 'happy'.  The teacher said that I didn't understand the assignment.  I said that the teacher didn't understand life." 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

March Ends in Pictures

 This nightstand does not bode well for the day.  I got Spanish flu from watching "Downton Abbey".  I swear:  we were watching Season 3, and as the camera began to rise above Lavinia's death bed, I felt an excruciating pain in my ear.  Fever and MEGA sore throat / earache.  Not a cold.  SPANISH FLU!
Like I got time for that...

 Another damaged soul.  This little lady is now named "Baldy", because the other birds are plucking out her feathers.  I found her huddled in the bottom of the cage this morning, unable to move, she was so stressed and exhausted.  She gets a private cage while she recuperates.

 Unfortunately, unless I know I am going to be sick in advance, tonight's English lessons still need to be planned, so my sub has something to work with.
 Final registration for my latest fabulous experiment:  English for Certified Nursing Assistant!  I partnered with a CNA training center and they will do a special "English adjusted" CNA certification course that offers training at a slower pace.  I will offer English as a Second Language classes here at Guadalupe School that support the nursing school course work .  And we have a corporate donor who wants to provide scholarships for student participation.  We have nine students from Guadalupe who are going to give it a try.

 I found this platter in our school thrift store.  Believe it or not, no one wanted to buy it, and the students who run the thrift store ejected it.  It looks great in our office.  And if I want to use it for a party, I'll just take it off the wall and bring it back when the party's over!

 Ibuprofen is wearing off.  Feeling feverish again - got to get home.
 Cepacol and of course, the curative power of Pringles.  Did you know that the salt and vinegar flavor shrinks the mucous membranes in the throat?  Yep.

 AARRRGGGH!  TEENAGERS!  Do they ever close a cupboard?  Do they ever close a drawer?  Wet towels all over the floor.  Sara's makeup scattered from hell to breakfast!  I'm going to KILL them.  When I feel up to it.

 Fever is spiking again.  The sofa looks so inviting...  Me and some Ibuprofen...
 ...and the newspaper...
 ...and Tobi!
 OK. The Ibuprofen is kicking in.  Time to get off the sofa.
Ilan strained his quads at rugby.  He likes to borrow Sara's muscle-roller.