Sunday, November 28, 2004

Sunday at the Library, Blogging

Thanksgiving was a mellow success, meal-wise and relaxed accomplishment-wise. M and I went up to Mom's on Wednesday morning, stopping to pick up the bird and a few other groceries on the way. We arrived around lunchtime, and began to assemble the meal. We decided on a three-prong strategy for cooking the turkey, which M executed: deconstructed (Julia Child, basically cutting it into pieces to make it cook more quickly and evenly), brined (Alton Brown), and high heat (Gene Burns' program). I made the cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, the broth for gravy, and started the stuffing.

The day was gloomy, but the fire was always glowing in the hearth, and mom seems so much better. She was getting around well on her crutches. I wanted to watch TV (research for my scheme to get on a game show to earn money for the wedding), but there just didn't seem to be any time.

On Thursday, we did more food prep, then M and I went with stepdad and Rex to the beach. We chose the one with a long trek to the shore among dunes--quite a sandy hike thick with grass. A family was leaving as we arrived--we had the place to ourselves. We timed it perfectly, walking between rainstorms. No wind, very unusual. Rex ran along contentedly, tags jingling merrily, peeing on the driftwood and herding a flock of sandpipers. The green glass waves rose then shattered into foam on the dark sand. We found a dying maroon starfish and a dead pelican--M took the head and beak home to add to his trophy pile. A harbor seal peered at us from the soup (surfer lingo for the water between the waves and beach). Jelly parts littered the shore. Gulls huddled on a sandbar in the river mouth, then rose in two large sections, winging out over the ocean. On the trail, in the space between the sea and parking lot, there was no sound. I'm not used to that anymore. Where did M want to be at our 20th anniversary? I asked. Right here, was his answer.

Back home, we moved into cooking mode. By 5:00 p.m. we had a meal fit for a photo, but did I take one? No. The turkey was a bit uncooperative--we later theorized that it hadn't been quite defrosted right at the center. But the house was filled with that roasty Thanksgiving smell, and lots of leftovers meant we'd enjoy everything again. Which we did, and are still...

On Friday, M seemed reluctant to leave, though he was the one who said he had to get home to study. I had time to take Rex for a walk down to "the picnic grounds"--mom's neighbors own the land behind theirs, which they groom constantly. On the far side of the picnic grounds is a road up a hill, leading through a gloomy redwood forest which I hadn't walked through in some time. There were more mushrooms than I remembered--spiky ones like blanched hyacinth, bulbs, tiny clusters of mustard yellow ones, nut brown pancake-like caps hiding rubbery gills. Every few feet another variety sprang up. The silence was here too--few birds and frogs, even, and I had left Rex's collar at the house. On the way back, a mouse distracted him in a woodpile, and he missed the doe crashing in the undergrowth on the slope above us.

Like Wednesday, it was a beautiful and uneventful drive home. Every trip, I think to myself, there's a place I've driven by for twenty years or more--a particular beach, historic spot, the River's End bar--I should stop there sometime. But it's never the time.

M studied for most of the day yesterday. Thinking I would put some stillness of the universe into practice, I decided to start shopping for bathroom remodel items, figuring that the Thanksgiving weekend would be a madhouse on the road and in stores, and what better time to just experience each moment? The check-out line at Kmart was indeed a test, but now I have that Martha Stewart wrapping paper safely stowed chez moi, and at what a great price! The guys at Home Depot were polite and helpful. I chose the wrong check-out line at Yardbirds, and waited for what seemed like an eternity to purchase my antique-colored pansies, but they look so charming now ringing my pink rosebush, so who cares? I didn't get everything on my shopping list, but I got a lot of it, and didn't get stressed in the process.

Our neighbors came home. The husband told M that they're going to buy a shock collar for their dog, the one who barks loudly for a little human attention. M told them that what the dog needs it exercise, but when they tried to take him for a walk, he was too rowdy. So now this animal that doesn't get any interaction, exercise, or shelter won't be able to express himself, either. I'm going to call my friend at the animal shelter tomorrow--maybe he'll have some advice. This is where I feel my self-loathing welling up. The right thing to do would be to confront my neighbor in a constructive way, to offer to help somehow, but I don't know if I'm able to.

This morning was chores, lots of laundry and housecleaning. Laundry was especially important since I was felting a "kitty pi" bed I knitted for The Pook to snuggle in. It looks like the headgear rastas use to tuck up their dreadlocks. I hope she likes it--she'd been testing it in progress. I also made a couple of thrift store sweater purchases last week, and now they're ready for the office. One is a lovely paprika-hued cashmere turtleneck with a Bloomingdale's label. I had been under the impression that orange is the new black, but I heard on the radio this morning that aqua is the new black, so I guess I missed out yet again on a fashion trend.

Looking out through the lattice arming the library's windows, I can see that the sky is still blue. It's been a good few days. But I'm looking forward to more time off in December, and hopefully a gorgeous, if teeny, new bathroom.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

The wind picked up as we walked the dog in the field last night, and hasn't abated. The sky is scrubbed clean blue today, and there's a feeling like something is going to happen, like the wind will bring something, or shake something unexpected out of the trees.

Something did happen last night. Driving back to our pad after walking the dog, we noticed a distinct absence of illumination on our block. The power had gone out. M went out for burritos ("Hold the sour dress, wedding dress...") since we couldn't cook in our fabulous AEK, and we hit the sack early. Like at 6:30 p.m. M dialed up and read the news to me. We were thinking of putting a movie into the laptop, but M feel asleep instead. Like at 7:00 p.m. The lights came on soon after, and I listened to KQED while knitting obsessively. I was ready to turn out the lights at 10:00 p.m., but This American Life came on, so I knitted for another hour. My hand is a little sore today from the repetitive motion, abetted by my stupidity of trimming the roses yesterday afternoon glove-free. My, those heritage roses have sharp claws. Makes me give a few more props to the rose in The Little Prince ("J'ai mes griffes" I recall her saying to him as proof that she can defend herself without help from him.)

So today I sit contentedly in the AppleBox cafe with the PWG gals, all of us typing on our "chiclets" (iBooks) as Julia calls them. I just drafted a review of a DVD my friend loaned me "Throwing Curves" about industrial designer/decorative artist Eva Zeisel. I covet her work much more now. I have a few other DVD reviews, too--perhaps I'll start a little reviews section on my blog. I'd like to review "Middlesex" cuz I loved it so much, but I read it a few months ago, so I don't know if I can do it justice now.

Yesterday was a very productive day. M was bushed (too much sleeping while he was sick made gave him a bit of insomnia), but was up for bathroom renovation research, so we hit three of the big home stores in the area. We found just about everything we needed and that satisfied my limited design desires and budget, but the shower stall issue is depressing. We found a cheap one-piece stall that's not too hideous or expensive, but will we be able to get it in the bathroom door? We admired another stall in three pieces that would be much easier to wrangle, but it's *$600* more. Criminy. That's a bundle I'd rather save for some other project. Like, oh, say, the wedding. (Hah, I just typed "weeding." Freud, what wouldst thou say?)

Think I'll have a snack now and get ready to head over to another galpal's house who lives here in town. I don't spend much time with her, and since I'm so close, I invited myself over to her house when we made the BIC (butt in chair--ie writing time) date. I can hang out with her and her cute kids and get some addition thoughts for the essay on being child free that I'm working on.

Later that evening...

Friend and I didn't hang out too much at her place. We took a hike/stroll at a local park, and it was lovely--we didn't need our sweaters after climbing the first hill. Wonderful views of the hills that will be covered with dense homesites in just a few years...

Back home, M. and I settled into our Sunday blues evening. The neighbors have been gone for several days, leaving their dog. I peeked over the fence, and he was out of food and water. I slipped him a couple of biscuits. Perhaps they've had someone checking on him (he certainly seems active and healthy), but I have a scheme for M. to get food and water to him today if the neighbors don't return. We tried to watch Monster, but it was just too depressing. We read in bed instead, and I started feeling quite sad, as I often do on Sundays.

But this was a bit deeper. I'm worried that M. will be serially unemployed. He's smart, funny, capable, devoted to me, and has recently made some good moves regarding his health that have made me so happy. But I suspect that he's allergic to work. And he certainly enjoys spending any cash he can lay his hands on. Money shouldn't matter, right? But it does matter to me, very much. Can I blame it on being a Virgo? I'm resentful that he didn't plan financing his schooling very well, and couldn't stick out his sales job for the sake of his degree. I worry that he'll get out of school, deeper in debt, and instead of raking in the cash that a good lawyer should, he'll never quite find a job that's right for him.

That's four years from now--why am I getting torqued about it now? My horoscope advises me to still my mind and I think that's good counsel for now. Supposedly that will cause the universe to surrender, and I could really use a good universal surrender right about now.

Thanksgiving is this week, and I need to do just that. It's also M.'s and my 10th anniversary as a couple, certainly a milestone that deserves celebration and reflection.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Mama Has Left the Building

Mama Has Left the Building
Originally uploaded by suzipaw.
Well, it's been a stressful week, but all's well that ends well.

When we last left our heroine, she was concerned that her dear mama would have difficulty recovering from her recent surgery. Mom wasn't feeling well when I left her last Wednesday after her "code" incident, and was about the same when I checked in on Thursday morning before heading down to pick up my aunt at the airport. The driving rain was the perfect setting for the turmoil in my mind--I couldn't do anything for mom, and it made me feel helpless as well as concerned.

Aunt J's plane was just a little late, but her baggage had not made her flight, so we had to file a claim before leaving the airport. We were promised that her luggage would make it chez moi that evening. (It finally arrived around 2 a.m.--Aunt J got up to check at about 5 a.m., and locked herself out of the house. Luckily, I was awake, and so heard her ringing the doorbell!) We drove right to the hospital, and mom wasn't feeling too bad, but she hadn't gotten up or accomplished any of the other bodily functions she needed to be discharged from the hospital. Friday morning was no better. Was it the painkillers? posited the nurse. Or perhaps she needed more blood? Turned out it was the latter, but they didn't pipe in two more units until Friday afternoon.

That was it--mom was a new woman on Saturday, moving around, unhooked from the respirator, catheter, and IV drip. We met the tres suave surgeon, who would've approved her discharge on Saturday, but we felt she should have one full day of doing well in the hospital before leaving, since she lives hours from a major hospital. We collected her Sunday at noon, and got to her place up on the coast by 3pm, despite the best efforts of a tourist on the windy-est part of the highway who was taking photographs while driving. Grr. But mom is now safely ensconced in her own bed, waited on by both Aunt J and my stepdad.

The one bright spot about mom's extended stay in the hospital was hanging out with my Aunt J. I've always felt very close to her and miss seeing her more often, as I was able to when I lived on the east coast. On Friday, we went shopping (my god--there is a lot of underwear out there in department stores--I had forgotten). She took me out for Thai food on Friday night--she ordered the extra spicy dish in preparation for her trip to India in January. I was able to use my vouchers for ushering at our local "cultural center" to get us a couple of tickets to see the Moscow Virtuosi chamber orchestra that night. (Very good, but not many in the audience. We clapped extra hard so they wouldn't feel so bad.) We had lots of time to blab in between all of our activities.

Last week was a bit stressful at home, too. M quit his job (what is he thinking???? He has a plan, please god...) and caught a very bad bug. He's still sick--exhausted and coughing. Rex has been plagued by itchy skin, and his recent trip to the vet revealed that his flea allergy was to blame, but not before he had nibbled a bald patch just above his tail. Antibiotics were prescribed, and he was supposed to wear one of those plastic collars for a week, but M couldn't take it, and it was off after just two days. (Yes, we sleep with our dog, so you can perhaps imagine, if you dare, our little mutt trying to burrow under the covers with this plastic ruff.) Before it came off, it did give us a bit of a chuckle to see him racing around the field on his walks, especially in the evening, when just the ghostly cone could just barely be made out, bobbing above the new grass.

Another sad thing: M has a friend serving in Iraq. They've been emailing regularly, but recently his friend was assigned to an escort mission to Baghdad. We haven't heard from him since, but of course we're hoping that no news is good news.

Random things: finished the hat for Isaac, watched Thirteen last night (scary, that one--but not so far from my own teen years...), am planning the Thanksgiving menu. We'll spend it up a mom's, with just a few other folks, so M and I will be in charge. Will we brine, a la Alton Brown, or deconstruct?

Wedding Update: The nice people at the Bidwell Park Society answered my query about an image of the Hooker Oak, a mighty specimen that fell in 1971. We thought it might make a nice symbol of our wedding, so they sent me a couple of photos that we might use on our stationery.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Real Life ER

I'm sitting here in the hospital room next to mom, trying to relax a bit. She overdid it on her first lap with the walker, and the trip was just too much too soon. She had two nurses with her and made it back to her bed, but then passed out, and they had to "call the code." She's in a tiny room with one other patient, and I was pinned into a corner by her bed as five people rushed in with what I think was a crash cart. They were all calmly leaping into action, and I tried to remain calm as well while keeping out of the way, though there was nowhere to go. Mom was turning a little purple and almost convulsing. One of the nurses was rubbing her shoulers and sort of calling her back. And she did regain consciousness, in less than a minute, but I'm a little freaked out now (so hey, why not blog it?). A nurse drops by every few minutes to check in, and I'm keeping an eye on her breathing. Everything seems to be fine, but nothing like thinking you're going to witness your mom die to get the blood pumping. Should've brought more to snack on--I'm feeling a little faint myself now...


Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The Waiting Is the Hardest Part

Mom went into surgery at 7:45 this morning. I was at the gym, watching the clock, almost bursting into tears when the big hand hit the 9. I know she's in good hands, but I'm still worried. I'll call the hospital at 11:00 a.m. to check in, but I'm going to have a hard time concentrating til then.

11:14 a.m. Update: Called the hospital, and she's "OK"--they wouldn't tell me anything more, and their crypticism keeps me a little on edge (yes, I know "crypticism" is not really a word!). But I can visit her after work, so that's A Good Thing. I feel much better now.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Chez Moi

The correspondence excavation is completed, for now--it's fairly organized, packed up into plastic tubs and stashed in my craft room closet. I didn't really touch the photos, that's for another time. Though I should do it soon, before I forget too much more. Excavation trivia: My first correspondence dates from 1973, and my first real penpal was one of my cousins (see third paragraph). Hands-down winner of the most letters received? Dear ol' dad. Fewest letters: 1995--none, nada, zilch. Was it the rise of email? I packaged up some letters and pix for my ex-, which I just sent off--he'll probably enjoy the little time capsule as well.

It's wonderful to have my craft room back again. I really enjoy it when it's clean and organized. I don't spend nearly as much time in there as I should, or dreamed I would, years ago when I lived in New York and my "craft room" consisted of a few boxes of beads and valentine-making supplies. I do feel like the room is acquiring the right atmosphere. (I wanted to write "vibe," but I felt that was so airy-fairy--as if "atmosphere" is any better!) I'd like to erect some sort of altar to the muses, something to put me in touch with the ritual of creativity. Jeepers, talk about airy-fairy.

I spent most of yesterday working on a baby hat for Isaac and cleaning the house for my mom's and my aunt's arrival. I'm very excited about my aunt's visit. I miss her so much. When my cousin/her daughter was visiting last summer with her family, I wished I could live closer to that part of my family (they're near Rochester, NY). My cousin's children are so wonderful, and one even expressed the wish that I lived next door, which would also put me in close proximity to my aunt and uncle. I must admit, I've been indulging in fantasies of being the perfect auntie to the kids--they would come over and bake and knit, play with my pets, and generally keep me connected to the wonder of the next generation.

The one thing I'm not looking forward to: while I'm happier that my house is cleaner and we are making it a nicer space, whenever I anticipate guests, I'm also filled with a bit of dread. No, and not just because I'm an introvert, though that's part of it, I'm sure. It's just that there's no escaping that my house is very small and very poorly built. And frankly, I'm embarrassed by it. I don't have many friends over because of this, though the new deck is a big help. There's not enough room in my kitchen for more than three people to eat comfortably, and I HATE that! I've bitched about that before, sorry. The kitchen vinyl and countertops are scarred and ugly, the carpet is dirty again (I'm blaming all of the construction nearby for that), the doors are cheap, the walls are badly painted, the outer siding is hideous, every window has *two* sets, in some misguided attempt to make it more weatherproof. Oh well. The sad part is, home prices have gone up so much here that I wouldn't be able to afford our house if we were buying now. I should just shut up and love it, shouldn't I?

While cleaning the "master" bathroom yesterday (does a 5'x5' room qualify for the master moniker?), I also noticed how lumpy the floor was. It's been getting worse since we've moved in. It's desperately in need of a re-do--the thirty year old shower stall needs to be replaced, and all of the fixtures are bottom of the line Home Depot. So M and I resolved to spend our Xmas time off renovating the bathroom. I think we can do it, if I shop well in advance and we stay focused. And, biggest of all--if there aren't any unwelcome surprises waiting for us when we pull up the floor...

Wedding Plans Update: Looked through sample invitation books for an hour last Wednesday--nothing really caught my attention except prices. Don't think I'll be doing letterpress invitations as I'd hoped. Maybe I'll ask a colleague to whip me up a custom design...

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Excavating my '80s

I've spent the afternoon reviewing my life from about twenty years ago--letters, mostly and some photos I've saved over the years. My father was kind enough to store much of these mementos for me while I was in college and later living in NY, where there just isn't much room for the past in general. I should have the Psychedelic Furs or Peter Gabriel or Madonna playing, but instead the distant mumbling of NPR denizens dissecting the election are wafting in from the kitchen.

It's been both hard and exhilarating. There are letters I've been dreading coming across, and no, time has not healed those wounds, unfortunately. Maybe in another twenty years. And how pitiful that I take the time to reread letters from people I had terrible crushes on, in a pathetical effort to feel better about myself. (They noticed me! They really really noticed me!) I must congratulate myself on one aspect, however--most of aforesaid crushes were wonderful writers. Was it fortune, or good judgment on my part? (I'll consult the Magic 8Ball tomorrow for an answer.) I've been deriving great pleasure from their missives in that sense. Even if they never become well known, I possess evidence of their skill. And I'm proud to be hoarding it.

It's a little odd to read letters from friends who are no longer friends, however. For the most part, I think diverging of paths is natural, and I don't have many regrets. But there are some friends I wish I were still in touch with. I've been doing a few Google searches, iSleuthing around. It's especially odd that friends, good, close friends, have come and gone. I still mourn the Vickie era--I've never really had a friend like her, before or since.

I've also noticed that there was a period where I seemed to have worn the same dress in most of my pictures. I remember that dress well, and loved it, which I guess explains why I wore it so much. I picked out my first wedding dress wearing that dress. Upon further reflection and the addition of twenty years, however, that damn thing looks hideous.

So when I've got this all packed up and organized to my Virgo heart's desire (which must happen before my aunt arrives next week; cat Veronica has been most helpful, wandering through my neat stacks and plopping her enormous fur whale self onto a column here, crashing it into another there), when will I ever review it again? When I've forgotten even more of the characters in the play of my life, no doubt. I should make an appointment to go through everything every few years, if for no other reason to be grateful for how much I've learned, and for how many wonderful people I've shared my life with, however briefly.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Election Day

It's here, finally. I voted weeks ago, and so far haven't had any regrets. Though I was worried--some of the measures were a little confusing. I'm just so glad it will be over. Yes, we have lots of issues to sort out still, but this will be a little bit of closure. And while I like that at least we Americans can finally pull together in one area--Voting Is Important--I'm more and more dismayed at how either/or this country is becoming. Living in a land of compromise is lame, I admit--the "blanding" of our experiences and backgrounds so as not to offend anyone is wearing on me. But I think I prefer it to feeling open hostility from my compatriots for not believing in what another group believes. Today's result won't make much of a difference, I fear, no matter how it turns out. I think we have deeper to sink before we rise again to the light of reason and tolerance...