Thursday, December 29, 2005

Scared Shitless

I'm a regular at this coffee shop/bakery place, so much so that the guy has a 16 oz. cup ready to go when he sees me coming. I love this. They have trivia at this coffee shop/bakery, which I love. I haven't been able to answer a single question since I began going there, oh, two months ago. Until! Yesterday. The question: On what street did the demon barber Sweeney Todd live? Answer: Fleet Street. I knew it, and won a free cookie, thank you very much. It was a proud, proud moment when the useless minutiae that clutters my brain actually won me something for free. Oh how I love useless minutiae!

We're taking a family vacation this weekend to Vancouver B.C. with a side trip to Whistler. I'm so scared because I've never been skiing before and I'm afraid I'll break my leg. Or both of them. Or my head. Or run into a tree. Oh G-d! What if I run into a tree?

(Wait, aren't I on anti-anxiety medication? what's with the anxiety?)

OH scoffed and said there's nothing to worry about. NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT?!? We're only going to the biggest ski resort in North America, where I will learn to ski for the first time ever, and I am not a kid anymore. I am 32 with lots of fear, and fragile bones. I'm a-skeered.

He said not to worry, the skiiers around me will not be experts, they will be going veeeerrry sloooooow. I thought, "Great, I'm going skiing with all the other novices. They are going to run over me, albeit veeerry slooowly, and I'm going to die." Ha ha, what fun! Cheery girl, I am.

So now I have to act brave and like I'm not ready to pee my pants at the thought of going to the biggest ski resort in North America, all in order to not endure scoffs from my husband. Did I mention I'm not to fond of driving in the snow, either? Yeah. So the trip up there should be a hoot.

I'm actually really looking forward to trying skiing. I've wanted to try it since forever, and I'm sure it'll be fun. I just need them to clear the mountain of all the other skiiers. And the trees. Get rid of those killer trees, please.

Give me a good book and a steaming cup of tea, and I'm a happy girl.

Speaking of tea, here is a timely food tip: Tazo Zen tea is fabulous! Try it, try it now, for it is yummy and delicious and decaffeinated. Love. This. Tea.

My mom may be upset that we are going to Vancouver instead of going to visit her, where there is also skiing. I will just say that, we plan to come and visit, mom. We just really need to go to Vancouver right now.

Now why don't we all go have some Zen tea and feel the love?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Our Butts Were in a Pew on Christmas Day

We have a bed now! I feel like such a grown up! No more futons, no more futons, no more futons......hooray! OH went to pick up the mattress last night because they weren't going to deliver it until Friday. Apparently the tv store people do the mattress deliveries in our town, and they had many, many tv/mattress deliveries this week so we couldn't be fit in their schedule until then. Hey, I'm proud of the fact that I buy locally, but WTF is up with that? Anyway, we have a bed and I do not care how or why; it's here and I'm soooo happy.

To push the excitement toward orgasmic heights, today is the day our bathroom should get finished. Maybe. We shall see. It would be too great, wouldn't it? To be DONE with the whole remodel thing? Yes, yes it would be great. Look at me, counting chickens that haven't hatched yet!

We had a busy four-day weekend. Friday was OC's birthday, so we spent the afternoon running errands to prepare. I did spend some time snuggling her that morning, because how long is she going to let me do that? I guess I've got a few more years of that, but it felt good.

I can't believe I have a five-year old.

Christmas was very nice. OC loved all her gifts. She especially liked her Thomas the Tank Engine train tracks, which she and OH played with Christmas morning. Santa got her a Hello Kitty umbrella, which she loves to use when we walk to and from school.

Some churches were in a quandary for what to do this year since Christmas was on a Sunday. Yes, you read that right. I read an article in the newspaper which interviewed several ministers regarding their decision. Frequently, it boiled down to Christmas being a family day. Is that amazing or what? Do what you want; go to church, don't go to church, I don't care. But when churches can't decide whether or not to hold church services on the same Sunday that Christmas happens to fall, I am amazed.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Alternative Gifts

If you don't know what to give someone, or don't want to add to their clutter, here are some great options:

Read this story of someone who was helped by the Oregon Food Bank, where 96.4 cents out of every dollar goes directly to Oregon Food Bank programs and activities that collect and distribute food for families in need and address the root causes of hunger. Check out your local food bank, where work is being done to help working families in your area.

Mercy Corps has a range of kits available to purchase for a small amount of money. This is a great way to help someone in the world.

Another great organization is Heifer International.

If you like to knit, check out the Dulaan Project: Knitting for Mongolia. Or, if you don't knit but rather crochet, check out Project Linus.

These are things you can do throughout the year. I will be saving money for CAT which is the Cat Adoption Team: the Pacific Northwest’s largest non-profit, no-kill cat shelter and hospital. CAT rescues, rehabilitates and places the community’s abandoned, neglected and injured cats and kittens into loving, lifetime homes. CAT not only partners with the community but with local county shelters, other rescue groups and veterinary offices to take in cats that might otherwise be euthanized due to medical problems or space constraints. CAT saves more than 2,500 lives per year and relies heavily on the support of the public and generous volunteers. Yay!

Now go out there and do some good.

Happy Birthday My Sweet Baby

My baby turns five tomorrow. I can hardly believe it. She's a great kid and I am so proud of her. I get compliments on her all the time. From my boss, for example. He is a really great boss (and no, I didn't write that because he reads this blog. He doesn't know about this blog, unless he walks over to my cube right about now...). He gives us wide rein to do our jobs, (no micromanaging) and is there to advocate and help us when we run into conflicting deadlines or whatever.

He doesn't have kids, so he doesn't know what it's like and how much pressure it is to be a parent: leaving work when your kid is sick, the guilt that comes from having them in daycare, etc. I have brought OC to work with me when she's been well enough to leave the house, but too contagious to go back to school. I don't bring her when she isn't feeling well, but the rules are that you can't bring your child to school until they've been on medication for 24 hours. So when she's up and feeling well and wants to play, but can't go to school, I've brought her to work. I could tell that he was not thrilled with the idea at first, but at the end of the day he came by and told me that she was the most well-behaved 4-year-old he's ever seen, and could come back anytime. That was a big deal.

Another time our workgroup went out to dinner. We normally go out to lunch once a month (something I began to organize because I am all about food-related social events) but switched it to dinner so we could have a drink. We are so smart! Anyway, I brought her to that dinner with me because I didn't have a babysitter. She was so good. Everyone said what a great girl she is. And she was! We were in the very cool restaurant, where it was dark and the appetizer was toasted pumpkin seeds. She was an absolute angel. She sat fairly still, ate the pumpkin seeds like they were going out of style, and kicked back and relaxed. She was shy at first, but then as she got more comfortable she joined in the conversation. Her contributions were mainly to do with her teddy bear and pink blankie, but it was cute and enjoyable all the same.

Her new uncles think she is great. One of her uncles is not really a kid person. He doesn't dislike little kids, but is happy enough not being around them. He enjoys the heck out of OC, and told OH what a great kid he thought she is. This is from a guy who earned 5 bachelor degrees in 5 years (all in some kind of engineering/computer/math area), and studies languages like Portuguese for fun. And he thinks my kid is smart!

It makes me so proud when people say things like that. I feel that way, but I am her mother, so of course I feel that way! She is a talkative child. Not only can she keep up her end of the conversation, but she can lead it into new areas entirely and carry you along with it. You have to see it to believe it, but she is an absolute whirlwind of conversation.

I just love my little girl and don't know where I'd be without her. She is sweet, thoughtful, caring, polite and kind. When I tell her I'm going to miss her when she goes somewhere, she tells me, "Don't worry mommy, my spirit will be with you!" She is also smart and funny. I write much of the funny things she says, but I forget some of it. If I followed that girl around with a tape recorder, I would never run out of blog entries and you would never stop laughing. I could learn a lot from her about lightening up and enjoying each moment. She really knows how to have fun. She puts her heart and whole self into everything she does.

I can't believe it's been five years since she was born. My due date was December 16th. By the 18th I was really, really ready to have my baby, already. I had taken two weeks off of work, and if I didn't have the baby by th 26th, I would have to go back to work in order to keep my family leave. Talk about pressure.

The morning of the 23rd, I went outside to chase off the neighbor cat from my cat's food dish. When I came back inside, my water broke on the bathroom floor. I hadn't had any contractions yet. I called my nurse-midwife's office and they said to walk around to get the contractions to start. I walked, and the contractions started an hour after that. I remember sitting in the wooden rocking chair, with Dakota nearby, rocking and contracting and thinking how great it is that I finally would get to meet my baby. I didn't know at that point if I was having a boy or a girl. I didn't want to know. I really wanted the moment, you know? The moment when the baby is born and they say, "It's a (girl or boy)!" I figured it would give me something to focus on during the pain of labor, like thinking something like, "Allright, is it going to be a boy or a girl? Ow! Ow! Ow!" was really going to help, but, I had never had a baby before. What did I know?

Anyway. I walked, rocked and contracted for two hours or so before I went to the hospital. Once there, the admitting nurse said brightly, "Okay! We'll just go verify you're actually in labor before we admit you!" Now, I had no idea about this step in the process. This stupid, humiliating way to treat a pregnant woman. Seriously, you're going to check and see if I'm really in labor? Um, is this right next to the room where they put women who don't know they're pregant until they sneeze and out pops a baby? Please. How often do women come to the hospital when they aren't really in labor? Is there an epidemic of pregnant women who lie or don't know they're in labor in order to get to experience a hospital room, so much so that we now must be treated like a liar, then herded into a little room and inspected? Because if I had known that, I'd have headed to the hospital long before, just to experience the fun! "No thanks," I should have said. "I'll just take a seat in the lobby until my baby crowns and then you motherfuckers will know whose really in labor." But this was before I was into that whole 'speaking up for yourself' thing.

As it turned out I really was in labor! Wow! Then another nurse says, "Okay, let's get you to a room." And takes off down the hall like a shot out of a cannon. I'm waddling behind her, going slow because I was really in labor, and she looks back at me like I'm just being lazy. I didn't like her.

I got to the room, waited a while, and in came the epidural woman. She asked me to roll my back like a ball, which is a very hard thing to do when your stomach is already a big ball. Why do they expect so much from a pregnant woman? The epidural relieved all the pain from contractions that were becoming very strong, but things slowed down. I was dilated to 5 cm, and made slow progress for the next few hours. It was 3 pm. At about 5 pm, pitocin was administered. After the pitocin, I started to get very, very uncomfortable. My aunt came to visit me before she had to drive back to Bend, and I couldn't even enjoy it. I was getting really uncomfortable, and waiting waiting waiting to dilate.

That and, the room was 82 degrees. It's for the baby, I was told. What kind of heartless woman would I be if I argued with that logic? It might've sounded as though I said, "Screw the baby, I'm hot!" I think there was room for compromise somewhere between the 82 degrees that the room was, and a humane 68 degrees that it should have been. I didn't like that nurse, either. Meanwhile, I was getting really sick from the heat. (When my mom came in later, she was like, it's way to hot in here! And the heat was turned down. Thanks, mom!)

I wanted a nurse-midwife because I wanted it to be a less clinical birth experience than what I imagined a medical doctor-assisted birth would be. That was not the case, however. I labored with nurses who were mostly nice, but were all business. There was no encouraging atmosphere, no woman-to-woman 'I know what you're going through', no rubbing of the back or massaging the perineum. The weird thing was, one nurse looked a lot like one of my friends, and every time she came into the room I would think, "Why is Misty here?" But then she would be a total bitch to me, and I would remember that Misty is not a bitch at all, and so no, that was definitely not Misty.

I should say there were plenty of nice and competent nurses attending my delivery. Overall the experience was disappointing as far as being treated like a human being, and the bad experiences stand out more than the good. And as far as the nurse-midwife, whose presence I was hoping for to create all that lovey atmosphere? Was attending other births and had no time to personally be with me until moments before OC's arrival.

I pushed for 45 minutes, which was not hard at first but soon got very, very hard. I remember the nurses working with me during this were very encouraging. I could feel the head every inch of the way. I did well until it hurt so bad that I started to cry and say, "Help me! This hurts! I can't do it!" Part of what made me lose it was that one nurse (Notmisty) was yelling out the door, "Get the (nurse-midwife) in here NOW! She's bleeding everywhere!" I thought I was going to die. I didn't know if what was happening was normal, but I suspected it was not from the tone of the yelling. No one reassured me of anything, there was only the yelling. Plus, I felt woozy but that was mainly from the tropical heat under which I labored to deliver a brand new human being.

Once the head was out, I felt relief and joy, as OC was born at 7:58 pm! She weighed 7 lbs. 15.8 oz. I remember anticipating two things: the sound of my baby's cry, and the announcement of either a boy or a girl. She didn't cry right away, and was all purple. It was scary because no one was saying anything, and there were two people kind of suctioning out her mouth, and then she cried. Hooray! The announcement of a boy or a girl, had not happened yet. I waited for somebody to tell me, and when no one said anything I finally asked, "What is it?!?" And then they said, "Oh! It's a girl!"

I got to hold her briefly after she was born, and looked at her beautiful face. Then I spent the next hour being stitched up by two (TWO!!) people. I had 4th degree lacerations, and hadn't had an episiotomy. My mom came in the room, said it was way too hot, and turned down the heat. Then Notmisty said it was time I got up to go to the bathroom. I managed to get out of bed, arrange the IV so it would follow along, and then fainted on the floor. When I recovered consciousness, I thought the floor felt so nice and cool that I lay there awhile, much to nurse Notmisty's irritation.

At this point, I think she found me a very uncooperative patient, what with the complaining about the heat, the excessive bleeding, and now this pesky fainting business. She left me and said she'd come back to help me up when I was ready. My mom was there and I was so glad for that. Recovery time for such an experience? Six months. I did not feel normal again "down there" for SIX MONTHS.

I was in love with my baby all through my pregnancy. When she was born I loved her even more. She was the most beautiful baby in the whole, wide world, and is now the most beautiful and sweet five-year old on the planet. And I get to be her mother! Lucky me.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Yesterday, I was hit with the Indignant Stick which could have made for an interesting post. Unfortunately, I was also hit with the Boring Stick, which turned my entry into a lecture akin to the Worst Lecture I Ever Heard in College, which was in a health class and the instructor told us about her father's colostomy bag. I began to feel faint in a room full of strangers; a room with hard, concrete floors; my face getting hot and sound getting distant; wondering if I could get up and walk out or if I would pull through to full consciousness...that was yesterday's post.

The apartment building where my friend lives caught on fire earlier this week. She and her daughter got outside of their second floor apartment while the first floor business burned. She was able to grab a few clothing items, but every belonging of theirs smells of smoke. Clothes, bedding, shoes, toys, Christmas presents, towels, all of it. She said there is a company coming to treat their apartment and things for the smell, and they say they can remove the smoke smell from everything.

My friend is so matter-of-fact about the whole thing. Last night she had brought some things she needed in the meantime over to her sister's house, where she is staying temporarily, to try and wash out the smoke smell. She took one day off from work, and she is not a crumpled mess like I imagine I would be in the same situation. I admire her very much. I am so glad she and her daughter are safe and I hope she lets me know if there is anything I can do for her.

My dad used to say, "Thimk, Leroy." That's not a typo, he used to say 'think' that way. He was trying to convey to me in a humorous way the value of slowing down and thinking before acting or speaking. I haven't yet learned that lesson very well. That, combined with how I tend to generalize and speak in a big picture, overall sense means that often I do not say what I mean to say. This has unintended consequences, because while I may not be expressing myself clearly, I do so with passion and force. This is not an ideal form of communication. It's not clear or useful.

I remember dad's words after a few recent experiences of my unclear, impetuous, passionate communication causing problems. I think that there's no use in getting knocked down a rung unless you can learn from it and use it to climb up past where you were to begin with. I haven't done that second part very well.

I wonder, how well I am learning the lessons I have been given? I have a huge amount of regret for the way I wasted so much time when my dad and brother were alive. I took for granted that they would be here much longer than they were. Am I still doing that, taking people for granted? I know very well how drastically life can change. Am I making the most of my time, and of my relationships with loved ones?

One of the reasons I started this blog was to have an outlet for writing on a daily basis. This forum provides a way to not only record one's thoughts as in a diary, but to obtain feedback.

I have read blog entries that have entertained me, and I have read entries that made me cry. I appreciate someone who shares their experiences publicly so that others may relate. I enjoy the feeling of "I am not the only one" because even though I know intellectually that I am not the only person who has lost loved ones to Leukemia, sometimes it feels that there is no one who understands and no one who has lost as much.

Much of human experience and emotion are universal. We have more similarities than differences. It's interesting to come across someone in a completely different geographic area, with a different age, marital status, job, hobbies, routines; and find that you and they have one key thing in common. Whether it's a tragedy, like infertility or death, the daily struggles and joys of being a parent, or the strange simultaneous feelings of loneliness and freedom when you're single, it's nice to know there is someone out there who feels the same way that you do.

I do not communicate the way I intend. When I think about what I want to say in my head, it's so clear. When I write it down it doesn't quite have the same feeling, context, or weight, and that's frustrating. I rely too much on nuance and implication. I need to work to develop my writing style. I have, after all, only very recently found my voice. The only way I am going to get better at communicating is by practicing, but am I learning to write better or am I repeating the bad habits that lead me to generalize? My feeling is that the latter is true. I am going to spend some time and think about that, about how to change.

I haven't seen some people in a long while, both friends and family. It's time I connected again with those I've been neglecting, and not take them for granted.

Thanks OH, for pushing me to do better. And thanks, dad, for reminding me to thimk.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Oregonians Are Not Stupid

Yesterday, we had some snow. Before you say, "so what?" Let me finish.

So. Yesterday. It began to snow, but soon turned into freezing rain. Why? Because cold air was trapped on the ground with warm air on top of it. The precipitation fell as snow, melted on the way down, then refroze right before it hit the ground. When freezing rain hits your windshield it makes a tinkling sound. It's charming. And dangerous.

We were out Christmas shopping yesterday afternoon, and when we heard it had begun to snow, we hurried to finish shopping so we could go home because we knew what was coming and it wasn't going to be good. The parking lot was a traffic jam, and the roads quickly became very slippery. Luckily, OH is an excellent inclement weather driver, so we made it home safely to my great relief.

Again, you might be thinking, "so freaking what, lady!? I live in Buffalo (or wherever) and we get lots of snow, yet manage to keep the roads open and get to work. Geez..." Okay, okay. I'll tell you freaking what.

Oregon is a big state, divided into east and west by the Cascade Mountain range. The part of the state east of the Cascade Mountains is higher in elevation than the west, and is basin and range topography. It is hotter and drier in the summer, colder and snowier in the winter. The western side is a valley between the very low Coast Range mountains and the tall Cascades. The west side is temperate, and receives gentle rains and fairly moderate temperature fluctuations.

Portland is in a unique geographic position, being at the north end of the Willamette Valley (correct pronounciation: will-a'-met) . To the west of Portland lie the gentle Tualatin Mountains, which are more generally referred to as the West Hills. To the east of the city lies the Columbia River Gorge. The Gorge was carved out of volcanic basalt by a huge glacier, which came right through the Cascade range many thousands of years ago. This glacial force was carried out by the Missoula flood. The result is a natural funnel connecting west and east right through the mountains, called the Columbia River Gorge.

In the winter, cold air sits around happily hanging out in the eastern part of the state. When conditions are right the cold air can be sucked through the Gorge from the east and poured into the west, and where that cold front and warm front meet means bad winter weather. Portland sits directly at this convergence zone. When we get snow, it will generally be mixed with freezing rain which turns the city into an ice rink.

Oregonians are the subject of ridicule because, when snow is predicted we tend to close down schools in the Portland area and our newscasters tell us to stay home unless we absolutely have to go out. This is not because we are scared idiots; it is because we do not normally get snow but when we do, it can be assumed that freezing rain may accompany the snow. The fact that it happens so infrequently makes it difficult to purport the necessity for spending thousands of dollars to acquire and maintain expensive road-clearing equipment, not to mention crews to staff all of that equipment.

Because we've saved so much money not maintaining extensive road clearing tools, it takes a lot of time to clear everything with what we do have. The ice is very hard to deal with because it piles up so quick, not to mention is icy.

(Heh, ice is icy. Do I win some kind of Obvious Adjective Use award, or something? Because that one was a winner.)

It's a unique situation. Nevertheless, people from places like Buffalo laugh and scoff at what appears to be our timidness for inclement weather.

I for one, am tired of the scoffing and the laughing. I'm tired of hearing how other places get so much more snow and aren't we stupid for closing schools and roads because of a little snow? Ho, ho, ho. Well, no, actually, we're not. We don't have snow, we have ice, not to mention nary the equipment to keep up with buildup of ice which doesn't happen every year like it does in other places that rhyme with Fluffalo. You people get snow all the time, you have snowplows and sanding crews who, year after year, know that they will be plowing and sanding and are ready to do so en force at a moment's notice. Meanwhile, I'd like to point out that the Oregon Department of Transportation does not use salt to combat ice, which causes problems when it dissolves into the water in great quantities. We use a biodegradable chemical de-icer and sand. Take that, Fluffalo!

I like to be able to stay home and keep warm while watching the newscasters go out and tell you just how slippery it is in Troutdale because of all the ice. Besides, the thought of all those scoffers and laughers in snowier areas of the country trudging out into the cold to take their newly-plowed street to work is kind of nice. I think of them every time I am at home snuggled up in a blanket, listening to the roar of the fireplace, and watching the freezing rain make a beautiful icescape outside.

Because it's icy.

Forecast, from National Weather Service

Friday, December 16, 2005

Bits of This and That

A Google search of my name reveals in the first few results that people who share my name are: a successful key hairstylist for movies, a biomedical researcher, a USDA rural development specialist, a photographer, and someone's sister in life and Christ to whom their website is lovingly dedicated. What a diverse group. I am not in the search results, at least not in the first three or four pages.

I was going to complain about anonymous comments left on this blog until I remembered that I am anonymous myself. Unless and until I reveal my name, I won't be complaining if you don't want to leave your real name, either. The one thing that would be nice is to leave an actual email address, then I can respond to you. My email address is displayed, after all.

I have an addiction to the Celebrity Baby Blog. That, and any scrap of news on Britney and her Federjerk. Shallow? Maybe. But I can kick some serious booty in the entertainment category of trivia games. That's no more frivolous than filing away minute sports statistics. Neither are necessary, just fun.

OH is home today working on the house. He's installing window sills, trim, and I don't know what all else. Is that grammatically correct, "What all else?" I don't know. It's Friday, and I'm too tired to give it much thought. He's doing a wonderful job, too. I love my husband. Yesterday was our two-month wedding anniversary. How long are you considered a newlywed? And, where's my MTV reality show? We could call it, "Newlyweds: OC & OH And The Remodel Which Sees No End". It would be a barrel of laughs. New jokes include the Grout Getter, a tool I bought that is used to scrape grout out between tiles. I bought it because, after seeing how the light-colored grout looks on the dark shower floor, I wanted to change it to dark grout. The grout was only down on the floor in a small area. It's not like I have to scrape it out of the entire shower floor. I think the dark grout will look great, and really it's not that much work to scrape out the dried grout. We'll use it on the bathroom floor as well. I bought the Grout Getter yesterday, along with more light-colored grout in butter cream and dark-colored grout in charcoal. That makes three boxes of butter cream, now, bought on three separate occasions. I live to run errands.

I'm going to do some Christmas shopping tonight after work. OC is visiting her dad, so I have some time and privacy to get her gifts, plus OH's and others that must remain a secret. I'm pretty sure OC could keep the gifts a secret, but I can't very well go shopping for her when she's with me. I have no idea what to get for a few people. I will have to just walk around until I come across something. This usually works well when you go to stores with a good variety, like Cost Plus World Market or Target.

With all the complaining I do about the remodel, it's about time I said that I'm grateful to have a house to remodel in the first place. I have many blessings. My family is well, I have wonderful friends, there is food to eat, and the kitties are just as fluffy as ever. Life is good, if but containing a few hassles here and there. I'm happy.

Thus ends today's random entry. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

When Life Hands You Lemons...

This morning, OC's biological father came to pick her up for a 5-day visit. This is the first time he's seen her in four months. It feels weird to have her away after so long. I miss her. I hope she's safe, and happy.

I called her biological father the other day, let's call him X, because he was late paying the Jeep again. I was upset and asked him why he couldn't remember to send the payment on time, and was there anything he could do to remember to pay it every month. He said it wasn't that he couldn't remember, it's just that he is so busy he doesn't know what day it is sometimes. And no, there was nothing he could think of that he could do differently. It was at that moment that something clicked in my mind and I realized: he is not going to change. The thought that followed that one was: If I want to ease my frustrations with him, I need to change how I respond to him. Ding! Ding! Ding!

Here's the problem: He has a Jeep that was his in the divorce. It is financed through the credit union in my name. He won't refinance it because he can't easily do it. His credit is bad, and he won't ask for money from anyone to take care of it. He's fine with it being my problem. He regularly forgets to pay it, so I pay it before it gets to be 30 days late and affects my credit. Every time this happens I am rife with indignation. How could he do this? How irresponsible! What a jerk! All this time, I have been really, really, really, really upset, mad, frustrated, pissed off, and angry because of the unfairness of it all. This was my burden, and every once in a while I would call him up and tell him what I thought of the situation, but nothing ever changed.

What happened the other day when I was on the phone with him and expressing my indignation was that I realized that I was going about this in the wrong way. I do not have the power to change him, and energies put to that purpose are wasted. While X is completely irresponsible and unconcerned with how his actions affect others, it doesn't mean it has to affect me negatively. I am still annoyed that he is so thoughtless, and it's true that the situation is unfair. I can still believe that, yet let it all go. Instead of expecting him to behave in a responsible way that he has proven over and over that he will not behave, I will expect him to act the way he is. If I give in and accept what is right in front of me, and put my energies toward areas I do have the power to change, I give up an awfully heavy burden. I feel lighter, freer. What I did was relinquish myself from feeling powerlessness, which was the true energy-drainer.

It's like the camera angles in the Matrix, where you take a scene and freeze it then adjust the angle at which you view the action. When you do this, you see things that you didn't see before because with this new angle. That is exactly what happens when you shift your thinking.

I accept the fact that there's nothing I can do to change the loan being in my name even though it shouldn't be, or that it's up to him to refinance the vehicle and he won't do it, or that he doesn't place a priority on paying his bills on time. Now, I will breathe deeply and focus on areas where I can affect change. The full force of my focus will have much more power than the weak, battered front I have been maintaining. Now that I'm not wasting my time, I can accomplish a lot more.

And right now? I'm making a big old batch of sweet lemonade.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

And Lo, Unto You Cool Shoes Were Found

We had a meeting at work this morning, and after two hours of sitting I decided I needed a walk. It's a chilly, yet dry, day. Perfect!

I went downtown to the Place That Has the Gift For OH, and bought one of his Christmas gifts. This was not a long enough walk, so I continued. I decided to head for the new Goodwill on SW 10th and Taylor.

First, there was the $4.50 umbrella to replace the umbrella I recently bought with the cool, gel handle, then promptly broke the second time I used it when I got it caught on a seat while riding the streetcar. Moving right along...

Second there is the Liz Claiborne sweater for $25. It is black on bottom, with a white stripe in the middle, and then the black/grey thing going on on top, which looks classic and fits perfectly.

Third is the Eddie Bauer Italian merino wool sweater in red for $13. I have one exactly like this in navy blue, for which I paid a bit more, and I love it. Now I have two to love.

Lastly, there are the camel Ann Taylor slip-ons with a thick, two-inch heel for $30. $30!! They are regularly $90. (I know this because the sticker is still on the bottom of the shoe showing the original price.)

Now, I realize these are not rock-bottom Goodwill prices. However, you have to agree that those are some good prices for great merchandise. This is an upscale Goodwill located in the city's downtown shopping area. And, it is still Goodwill: the money goes to help disabled people and others with jobs and services. It is for a good cause.

Wait a is a way to HELP PEOPLE?!? Good G-d, people, I have just stumbled upon the holy grail of rationalizing retail therapy. It's not only good for your soul, it's good for the disabled.

I'm not being facetious, either. Goodwill is a great organization that does good work. It is the season of giving and in that spirit, I would like to highlight other organizations.

Help people who work but can't always afford enough food by donating to the Oregon Food Bank. Oregon spent many years with one of the highest hunger rates in the nation. We have been ranked better in recent years, but there are still many people out there who can't afford enough food. Especially as their heating bills rise in the cold weather months. Additionally, 220,000 working poor in this nation may no longer receive food stamps now that the U.S. House of Representatives has passed a recent appropriations bill by a slim margin (every Democrat and 12 Republicans voted "no"; the vote was 215-213 with six absent). These are working people, who work at jobs that require work. They are low-paid, often have childcare expenses on top of that, and require the extra help that food stamps provide. They will no longer have that option if the Senate also passes the bill. Oregon's Governor Kulongoski said in a recent interview that one of the reasons Oregon's hunger rate has dropped is due to the Federal food stamp program. And soon, Congress will vote on a tax bill that will negate these savings potentially reaped if food stamps and Medicaid benefits are cut, by continuing the tax cuts on capital gains and dividend income. Apparently, we have better things on which to spend our money than the working poor and health care. Let's cut more taxes, jack up the deficit, and cut programs that help legal, hard-working Americans! Yay! Quality of life is so yesterday.

This is the season to make everyone's load a little lighter. Part of what motivates us to move forward and keep going is when we get a little kindness, when we can enjoy a small break from daily struggles, isn't it?

Another organization that helps families with emergency food is the Portland Police Sunshine Division. It's been around since 1923 when it began informally by a group of officers who wanted to help people around the holidays. The next years saw it become an official part of the Portland Police Bureau, until 1994 when it became entirely self-sufficient. They receive no Federal or State funding, and are not associated with United Way. Their focus is on helping children, the elderly and the handicapped. Consider making a donation to this non-profit organization with an impeccable reputation. Their website contains lots of good information.

At the very least, avoid being a heartless creature and go shopping at Goodwill.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Post With Pictures

Yesterday's post was wordy. Here are a few photos to break it up. It is my father-daughter collage.

OC loves to help us, and one of the things she and daddy do together, besides boxing and wrestling, is the firewood. On this day, he cut up kindling while she put it in a bucket and brought it to me to put away inside the house. I love her yellow rubber boots, and her pigtails. She and daddy also like to hang out together, drink tea, and watch something on tv (which is probably The Simpsons).

On an unrelated note, I have many, many blogs saved to my Favorites folder. On a regular basis, I read about one-third of those. From time to time I go through the folder and try and delete the link to blogs I don't read regularly. Sometimes during this process I will check on a blog and I come across a really great entry. Then, I can't delete it. Such is the case with this one. (Skip the first two paragraphs, and read on.) I also graduated in 1992, and remember when these were hot trends.

Oh my!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Weekend Update

Friday night found the three of us piled in the car and headed for Eugene. The hotel where we stayed was hosting all of the football players and their families. When we checked in, the lobby was full of excited kids, ready to play and/or cheer on their team the next day at the State Championship games. People, if you never get to experience the particular joy that is spending a night in a hotel full of teenagers count yourselves very, very lucky. That evening, OH went to go meet with the other coaches. OC and I were alone in the room - but we were not to be left alone.

The first thing OC did when we got to our room was to check for a Bible. She said, "Now where is the Bible," and set about opening drawers to look for it before we had set our things down. That set the pace for the evening, as we got to commune with the other guests shortly after that. First there was the curiosity of the people in the room next door, who decided it would be fun to investigate their neighbors by knocking on the adjoining room door. At 9 pm. Good times, good times. I responded with, "Can I help you?" Which was met with silence, and then the sound of their door being closed and locked. No reply. Then, at around 10:30 pm, a knock at our room door which I decided to ignore. OH had a key, and if he forgot it he would say something. It wasn't OH. The person(s) kept knocking, the persistent little buggars. So I got up and it was...more teenagers! Teenagers that, after I opened the door, politely said, "Oh, sorry." Yep. 32-year old woman in her pj's, irritated that you roused her from bed while her 4-year old slept, not who you were expecting? Didn't think so.

It really wasn't too bad. There were no more interruptions that night. OC and I got to sleep rather late, OH got in even later, but we were all ready for the game the next day. Long story short: we lost. It was very sad, because they are an excellent team with a good attitude. We lead in the first half, but in the third quarter things seemed to fall apart. There were penalties, and inconsistent playing. We lost momentum, and lost the game 17-13.

I sat in the stands with OC and my father-in-law. It was fun (except for the losing part)! It was cold! Even though we had dressed warmly, we enjoyed the extra layer of OC's fuzzy fleece blanket with the jungle motif as we chatted. FIL is an interesting guy. He does horse logging, or used to. It is exactly what it sounds like: logging with horses instead of motorized equipment. This allows him to go in and cause less of a disturbance to the ground and surrounding area, to use fewer fossil fuels, and do more selective logging. It's very hard work, and he's got the backaches to prove it. Nowadays he runs the business side of things, makes contracts for work, schedules jobs, and takes care of the cows and fields of hay at their home.

We talked about skiing, football, relativeness of direction depending on whether you're referencing rivers or cartographic points (on which we agree), upcoming vacations, OH, OC, and more football. Afterward we went out to lunch at a brewery. It was a lovely day. I enjoyed spending it with family, and supporting my husband who has worked so hard throughout the season. It's too bad it came to a loss, but I have to say they played well. It wasn't lack of talent in playing or coaching, it was just the way it worked out.

That being said, let me do a little happy dance, because I get my husband back! Yay! Football season is over for the year!!!

Now, we get to use all that free time to finish our own remodel. Our contractor is in Mexico for a week. Did I mention that our contractor is also my brother in law? No? Well. Who am I to begrudge a person a vacation? It's not the vacation. I look at the calendar, see it is December, and remember how this was supposed to be done in October. It's cold outside, we are crammed into the tiny spare bedroom sleeping on a futon, and we feel highly motivated to have this job completed. We seem to be alone in this supposition. I'm 32 years old, which is too damn old to be sleeping on a futon on any kind of a regular basis.

Sunday, we pilgrammaged to Home Depot and bought many, many things: trim, paint, electrical supplies, and I don't even know what else. OH got started measuring, cutting, and priming the trim. Tonight, instead of being inside by the fire watching Jeopardy and The Simpson's, we will be outside painting under the bare bulb in the outbuilding, with a milkshed heater to try and achieve a decent heat and humidity level for the paint, which we will be lucky to achieve. This is after working all day at our full time, regular jobs.

Holiday News: The Christmas tree is up! We went to a nearby u-cut place and cut our own, hauled it home, and had the thing decorated all in less than 2 hours. OC kept exclaiming, "This is going to be the best Christmas ever!" Her enthusiasm is infectious, and I dare say I felt ever so slightly jolly, even though I tried to fight it. Just kidding. It got me into the holiday mood. She was so excited, over every ornament.

Last night, I was a baking fool. I made white rice blueberry muffins, and then some chocolate & peanut butter chip cookies. OC helped me with the cookies. She is quite interested in cooking and helping me in the kitchen. I love the opportunity to teach her, I just think I need to be more patient. Sometimes I don't slow down and think about how she can help. When I do, she relishes the tasks and the chance to be with me. That won't last forever, (once she grows up and realizes who she's dealing with! Ha ha...ha.) so I had better avail myself of every opportunity to spend time with my daughter. She so often complains that no one plays with her, and this would be a great way to spend time together while also getting something done.

OC will be home most of the week. She was scheduled to go see her dad beginning on Sunday night, but he called and cancelled due to work. The last time he visited OC, either in person or by phone, was August. I don't understand how you could be away from that girl for so long, but, I don't claim to understand the man. I had waited to tell her about the upcoming visit until hours before he was due to pick her up in order to minimize the chance of her being disappointed, but it didn't help. I had told her in the car and when we got home about 15 minutes later, there was the message. She took it pretty well. We've been talking about how daddy has issues, and they have nothing to do with her. She really absorbed it, because when we talked about it one morning and then we talked again that afternoon, she repeated back to me that afternoon exactly what I had said that morning. She is one smart cookie. OH wants to adopt her, and I'm all for that. I have no idea what is involved, rules and requirements and that sort of thing. I wonder if her bio dad will agree? I can't imagine, nor do I know what he is thinking. Now he wants to pick her up Thursday night, and have her for one week. I have no way to know if this will actually happen or not.

I'm so glad I have OC. She is an amazing, smart, adorable, warm, humorous, and sweet light in our lives. You have to hear the girl talk, she's so funny! She tells daddy, "It's time for your inspection," and proceeds to wail on him with her little fists. He plays with her by wrestling and boxing, and she knows it's play and that it's only to be done with daddy. We just laugh because, where did she come up with that bit about an inspection? OH says all the time, "I just love that little girl." I think he's proud of her, for the inspections, among many other things.

I want to give her the best family life that I can. I think OH is fabulous with her. He is not her replacement father, he is her father. He is there for her every day. He treats her like she is his first child. Not only that, but his family treats her like she is their first grandchild. These people are wonderful. No need to tell me how lucky I am. Believe me, I know.

Yes, we will definitely do more baking together.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Update, With Pictures

As promised, the garage and its contents. You cannot see the other enormous pile. It's just to the left of the visible enormous pile.

I heart the bathroom floor! It's so pretty. Indulge me, won't you, in revelling in my tile-picking-out skills. They are mad tile-picking out skills, if I do say so myself. The lovely creams! The lovely browns! The lovely creamy-browns! It all matches and blends and complements in such a lovely way.

The shower floor, which is way in the back, is also muy, muy bonita. It's hard to see in this photo. Trust me on this one.

The good news: There will be plenty of time to enjoy the house in its current state. The bad news: Because it isn't going to get done before Christmas.

More good news: it looks really, really good. And, there's a toilet (not shown)!

Cleanliness and Magnetism

OH is a JV defensive line coach at a local high school. That school's Varsity is playing for the State Championship in Eugene on Saturday. We are driving down tonight to stay in a hotel. What does all of this mean? It means something important. Something VERY IMPORTANT indeed, my friends. It means I get to take a shower.

I haven't had a shower in weeks, people. Do not get the wrong impression, I have bathed. The key word there being "bath". I like baths, I even love them, but not every single time I need to remove filth from my person. For example, they are not so handy when you are in a rush, which happens to be the perpetual state in which I reside. They are not so good when you are having your period, either. I found myself doing a prebath cleansing that was redundant and not fun. It reminded me of washing dishes in the sink before you put them in the dishwasher. I detest this. In a similar fashion, I also detest trying to clean myself with wet toilet paper before I go in to take a bath.

Ummm...Let's move on, shall we?

I read an interesting article about the earth's shifting magnetic field. (I warned you we were switching subjects.) It seems as though it is moving more rapidly than in previous decades, and now it's moving across the Arctic Ocean from Canada toward Europe and Siberia, at a rate of 25 miles per year.

"Who cares?" You might say, "This is nothing new."

That's true. The Earth's magnetic north pole has always shifted locations. Currently, it's about 700 miles off the geographic north pole. The Earth has even reversed its poles, but that was 780,000 years ago. Magnetic north normally shifts between Canada and Siberia, but it's happening more quickly and with less meandering than normal.

There is no cause for alarm. I care only because I have never been to Alaska to see the Northern Lights, and pretty soon they won't be visible from North America. That's a bummer, because that was kind of our, meaning North America's, thing. But the good news is, they will be visible from Siberia. Great! I'll just check Expedia for a flight. I don't know what city I'd want. Or if you can enter Siberia, or more importantly, leave it. Or if there is a place to stay besides, you know, a prison workcamp. Ah, but I stereotype. I really know nothing about Siberia's current state.

Read more here and here, my geeky little friends. And have a good weekend.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

I'm a Sucker For All Things Entertainment

I love People. No, not people; I refer instead to the magazine. The new issue will have an article on Britney and Kevin's recent trouble. What is up with those two? I mean, he's such a slimeball. To wit.

Anyway, I have been in a People-buying jag, what with the in-depth analysis of the breakup of Nick and Jessica in the last issue. Nick and Jessica, separated! How could they??? It's all too other-worldly.

But Britney and Kevin beg a different question; specifically, how could they not? I mean, you take a guy who has two kids with a woman (Shar Jackson), and is dating other women in the meantime. I know what you're thinking: "If they're not together, why is that a problem?" Agreed. I'm not arguing that point. I'm talking about the principle of the thing, about how the situation looks to a prospective mate. What was Britney thinking? She obviously thought one or both of the following:

Option 1. "Shar was the cause of the problem! She pushed Kevin away!"

Option 2. "I can change him. He'll be different with me."

It's understandable to push aside red flags when you find yourself attracted to someone. But, uh, problems don't just go away with silliness and sunshine. Maybe Kevin will change his partying ways, maybe he just doesn't like post-partum women. Whatever the case, poor Britney. If only she'd asked my opinion before marrying...

There Was Progress And It Was Good

And now for your viewing pleasure, actual photos of the remodel:

The top two photos are the tub and shower areas of the bathroom way back in early November.

The bottom two photos are the tub and shower areas of the bathroom taken two weeks ago.

Progress has been made since then, even! I will have more photos soon, including the garage, aka the Place Where All My Stuff Lives. You can't wait for that, right?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

That Time of Year

I love this time of year, when there are festive white lights strung all over trees downtown, the air is clear. It makes for a lovely walk through the city in the evening darkness.

I have been leaving the office in the dark for a few weeks now. While my work schedule is 8 - 4:30, I have been getting in to work late, so I've been leaving late to make up for it. It leaves me feeling as though I work in a cave, to walk out of the building and into darkness. The reward is a chance to enjoy a lovely, picturesque city which has been mostly rain-free for days and days. That's one of the great things about Portland in December. People think it always rains, but it doesn't. It rains like a son of a gun in the spring, but it's not spring and therefore I don't have to think about that right now.

I still have Christmas shopping to do, but I can't do it with OC. She is a little stool pigeon! It was so nice, back when she was oblivious to what was happening around her. I once bought her Christmas presents when she was much younger - with her in tow. She had no clue. Now, she is eagle-eyed and doesn't miss a thing. She's at the age where she is bound to repeat things, too. When we joke around at home, we always stop ourselves to analyze what we are saying, and tell OC not to repeat it at school where, when said out of context, it could raise some eyebrows. I wish I had a good example right now, but I don't. It's the end of the day, and I am brain dead.

I have Christmas presents to buy and ship to OSEAST and OM. A certain OC is turning 5 this month...that means, a birthday party to put together. I just realized these things the other day, and yes, I think I am slow on the uptake, too.

I say, I must get my shit together. I'm running out of time! Where's my personal assistant...

Damn it.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Today is a New Day, Scarlett

Tonight, may I recommend that women with any self-respect NOT watch the Victoria's Secret Parade of Hot Models On Regular TV When Isn't That What Cable Is For?....I mean, fashion show. Ahem.

I'm all for hot models and sexy lingerie, don't get me wrong. I'm just saying I don't need to see why, for free and on regular tv, I should feel even more inadequate than I already do, fuck you very much.

We will be watching the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, and taping Gilmore Girls. Afterward, we will pray for the souls of those who watched the VS show...just kidding! The porn's in the mail, due to arrive in it's plain brown wrapper. And all is as it should be.

Last night, OH got up in the attic and organized what we have stored up there. He found a package of new socks, unopened; Score! And a big box of t-shirts. Yes, he keeps extra clothes in the attic. No, I don't know why. He found some things to get rid of (no, not the t-shirts or socks...) and made room for more to be stored up there. What!? I thought he LIKED all my stuff piled in the garage, so he couldn't park his 1968 Mustang there! Silly me.

I went through OC's closet and took some boxes out of there that could be stored in the attic. That left lots of room to put HER things in there. What a novel fucking concept: your own things in your own closet. Hot damn.

It was just a little bit of organizing, but it sure felt great. We will do more of that tonight. Also tonight: we will finish the Thank You notes. From the wedding. Which was in October. I don't know what Emily Post would have to say about that, but I know what I have to say: I'm sorry they're so damn late, we really appreciate the loot, now get off my back because I just moved all my stuff into a garage and am now living amid a construction zone while sleeping on a futon. I will finish writing cards filled with heartfelt words of appreciation as soon as I can.

Pray for me.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Lifestyles of the Newly Married...And Cranky

Ahhh, marriage: The time spent apart because the football team keeps winning; the work stoppage on the Remodel That Will Never End means that the son of a bitch just may not ever end; the stress that is figuring out whether or not, and then how, to merge your finances which includes paying for the Remodel That Will Never End.

But hey! A look on the bright side reveals that: One) if the remodel is never done, you don't have to pay for it. That's money in your pocket! And B) that money in your pocket can be used for marriage counseling, which you obviously need now that you are both so grumpy you argue over mostly petty frustrations, because-a the house, she is-a all torn up.

Or there's always option C) in which you use that money to go out, alone together, to a nice dinner and use the time to communicate. Because you haven't spent time alone together in months and the communication, she has-a suffered. (Why am I writing as though a newly-immigrated Italian man is speaking? Why, with the stereotypes? Honestly, I watched "The Lady and the Tramp" over the weekend, and there's the Italian chefs who feed the dogs leftovers, not to mention that memorable spaghetti scene. But, for me to further a stereotype? Is so not like me. However, for whatever reason it is working for me today, and so I will go with it. Yessiree-a bob!)

Okay, not months, but certainly many, many weeks. Since the honeymoon, at least, which was seven weeks ago.

So instead of being blissful newlyweds, we are grumpy. So badly, I want to empty the boxes, I want to put things away and settle into my home. But there is no place to put things. Our dressers are in the living room, how homey can that be? We have slept on a small futon in a small bedroom crammed with other things we don't need ever since the wedding, while the garage is crammed with things we do need, but cannot find. Which is fine for a while, because we are fairly agreeable, adaptable lads and lassies. But again, it's been seven weeks.

And then there's the rest of the house, which, no matter how many hours I spend cleaning, I can't seem to get enough done to look like anything's been done, before I collapse into a pathetic pile of worthlessness. I mean seriously, how many loads of laundry can three people make in one week? As it turns out? A lot: So much laundry that I couldn't get it all done in one weekend. And I like laundry! I know that sounds weird, but to me it is soothing to have a pile of clothes before you to fold while watching a movie. Pretty soon you've got these clean, neat piles of clothes for your family and it feels so good to have prepared the clothes for them. (G-d, what am I pregnant? It sounds like I'm nesting, but in truth I just really like laundry. Always have. By the way: Not pregnant! I thank yew...)

So the thing I really hate to do is clean the kitchen. Because it's always dirty and it only gets dirty again two seconds after you've cleaned it. It is a vicious cycle: cook, clean, cook, clean, cook, clean; repeat. If only we could subsist on cereal. Hey, cereal does not require cooking! And, contains many vitamins and minerals! Guess what's for dinner? Not just tonight, but every night! Yippee!!!

So, to sum up: the entire house is a mess, with no hope of getting it comfortable until after the Remodel That Will Never End has, in fact, ended; I can no longer physically keep up with the laundry unless I were to become a full time laundress, in which case would probably kill my love for laundry and then where would I find the will to live?; I am sick of cooking; and OH doesn't like what I'm spending money to buy for our home. To, you know, make it homey-er.

Are you tired of me complaining? Because I could do it for much longer. It's free, you know. No? Oh. Well, then me, too. I am sick of it, too.

Okay then, let me tell you about my sweater. I have this great, comfy red wool sweater. I got it at a resale store for something like $5, where I regularly consign some of mine and OC's clothes. Anyway, I love it. It fits perfectly, looks great, and so using all my laundry lady astuteness, I ruined it! I washed it and then dried it in the dryer.

Before you go thinking, "You idiot! Don't you know wool can't be dried in the dryer?" In fact, yes, I did know that. I hand washed it in cold water, and then only wanted to fluff it in the dryer for a minute on low, no; nonexistent, heat. However, I forgot the fucking thing was in the dryer and so it was in there for a loooong time, fluffing and fluffing and fluffing.

I fluffed it up, all right. I fluffed it down to be a size smaller! To give you a visual, my previously cute red sweater now makes my low-rise Gap boot-cuts look like mom jeans. Oh, the humanity! You want to know what else? I've gained about 10 pounds. I think. I'm too afraid to actually get on the scale to check, but my clothes tell me the truth.

Why is it that when I'm happy, I gain weight from triflings, and when I'm unhappy, I lose it by crapping my guts out? Why is it that all I can think about is popcorn and cookies and foodfoodfood? At least I did not give in when, last night, I was craving popcorn so bad I might've traded my new Stuart Weitzman's for a buttery bag. But no, I did not give in. I guess it's time to get sad in order to lose some damn weight. Too bad there is nothing to be sad about in life right now. HA! Be careful what you wish for.

I did find a solution for the wool sweater: soak it in warm water for 10 minutes, then lay on a towel to dry in a cool place. Gently stretch and the wool will release, a little bit. I may be able to save the sweater yet. After all, I only dried it a LITTLE bit.

What else should we talk about? Hey! Here is a recipe for a very, very inexpensive dinner that is also very, very tasty. You will save so much money on this meal that you can go out and buy new shoes! No arguments over money can occur over this meal! Unless, of course, you are dumb enough to wear your new shoes to dinner.

Red Beans & Rice
2 c. rice
1 c. dry red beans (soaked overnight in 4 times the amount of water, or 2 cans red beans)
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 Tb. minced garlic
1 Tb. olive oil
Frank's Red Hot Sauce
Taste of Thai Garlic Chili Pepper Sauce

Cook beans for one hour in slow boiling water. (If using canned beans, skip this step.)

Cook rice per instructions.

(Later that same day...) In a saute pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and add onion and garlic. Saute until gently done, about 5 minutes. Add beans to pan, and then add Frank's Red Hot sauce and garlic chili pepper sauce liberally. I added probably 1/2 c. of each, or more. Heat it all up and then serve over rice. It's spicey, and good, and cheap thing to make. So you can afford more fabulous shoes.

It's all about priorities! And rationalizing!

Friday, December 02, 2005

A Shiny New Beginning

I heard a fascinating story on This American Life this week. In their show titled, "New Beginnings", a man talked about an experience he'd had as a youth. In a nutshell: he spent a night sleeping on a marble slab in a church which marked the location of the cross on which Jesus was crucified. It was a profound experience for him. He had a thought that, what if he were to die in 6 months? How would he live his life, knowing that? He related to what Jesus must have felt like, knowing he was going to die. The man decided to live as though this were true. He did not do anything grand, rather, he went back home and spent several months with his parents; He gave away most of his money anonymously to friends and family; He rode his bicycle across the country visiting his brothers and sisters. When he arrived home it was the night before he was to "die". He had a nice dinner with his parents, they talked about his trip and what was going on with his sibling. He went to bed feeling satisfied with what he had done, with how he had spent his time. He said he didn't know what to expect that night, but he was prepared to actually die. When he woke up in the morning, he said he felt like he had never felt before, like he had his whole life back.

To hear him tell it, it was very powerful. He talked about how living totally in the present was an inhumane way to live. Whenever he found himself making plans past that date, he stopped, and didn't allow himself the opportunity to make plans past his "death" date. He said that to have a past, present, and a future is part of what it means to be human. That, we couldn't be fully human without all three. When we live in one state too much, it becomes unhealthy. Isn't that true? Do you know people who live too much in the past? Or the present? Future? I do, and it's pretty obvious it isn't good for them.

I live too much in the future. I don't enjoy the present as much as I should. For instance, I will find a book or magazine article and think, "I will read this, because it might be good to know in the future to either talk or write about this subject." That is a really strange thing to do, I can see, but it is really how I think. I can see how it puts undue pressure on me to learn things for some nebulous date in the future, which may or may not ever come. I do read for pleasure, and do things to enjoy some things now, but not all the time and not like I should.

It is hard for me to enjoy what is happening in the present because I am too busy planning for the next thing, and the next thing, and the next thing after that: what I need to pack so we can go to work/school/the library/the store/an outing. I spend a lot of time thinking about what I need to do now in order to get through the next day. I can't seem to enjoy the present fun until I'm all ready for the next thing. By the time that happens, the NOW is usually all gone.

I suppose it's something I do to cope. For whatever reason, I feel the need to be prepared for the unknown future. And the big joke is, I am often unprepared! I don't think of everything, or can't think of everything, and I forget things. The future being unknowable, it's understandable how I set myself up for failure this way, and in the meantime, miss out on the present.

The good news is, I can change this. The bad news is, it probably won't be easy. I've been this way since forever. I like the idea of finding a better balance between past, present, and future. The truth is, it's good to be somewhat prepared, but not at the expense of the present. It's not a good idea to give too much weight to the past, but at the same time it's good to not forget the past completely. It did, after all, happen. It's useful to take your experiences and use them, to learn from them, and not shut the door on fond memories.

There is a lot to enjoy in present moments. I think about what memories I want to have when I am old, and they do not include how I remembered to bring water in the car when we went to the store! Or something like that. I want to remember love, laughter, warmth, caring, gentleness, understanding, and kindness shared with the people I love.

I don't know exactly how I'll accomplish this shift in my focus, but I can easily see the benefits. It is worth stepping outside the bounds of my comfort level to experience life more fully. Life is nothing if not everchanging and new, whenever you want it to be.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Les Chats

I can't find the tweezers, so that crazy black hair on my chin is just going to have to stay put for now.

There are so many things at home that I can't find right now. There are also so many things I can't put away yet. The hardwood floors in the bedroom haven't gotten their first coat of finish, and it takes two or three coats to complete them. Once the last coat has been applied, you can walk on it after one week. It must sit for another week after that before you can put furniture on it. It's beginning to feel like this will never end. Although I'm sure it will, just in time to remodel the kitchen! Oh, I can't even think about that right now.

The cats have begun their confinement this morning. I am sure they will spend the day trying to escape. It seems as though Sable is the stressed out, inappropriate pee-er and pooper. OH caught him in the act this morning. I am a bit relieved at it being Sable, because I could part with him more easily than Dakota. If it were Dakota, I would do whatever it took to keep him with me, because after thinking about what to do, I could not give him up. I am quite attached to little Pooky. That's his nickname. That, and Peaches Cheeks, Kitty Kola, Pooky Bear, Pooky Lau, Peachamay. Don't ask me why with the names, it's just what I call him.

Sable has needed a less stressful home for a long time now. He basically wigs out any time something is loud or moves too quickly; is new, different, or any other variable you can think of. He's not good with variables. Poor guy. There have been so many changes these past few years. It's stressful for all of us, and I have sympathy for that high-strung cat. He is a sweet boy, he just needs a consistently quiet home environment.

I tried to find him a home a year and a half ago, but no luck. One person was interested, but at that time his fur decided to mat so badly that he was one giant walking fur mat. Sable's hair doesn't usually mat, it's always Dakota's that does. It was very unusual, and I couldn't give him away in that condition. If I have to find a home for Sable, I want to make sure it's a good home. If he goes to a shelter, I want to make sure he stays alive and isn't euthanized. I am responsibile for these kitty's lives, and I need to do what's best for them, even if one isn't behaving well, and especially if he isn't happy.

I am keeping the litter boxes sparkling! They are pristine. I didn't know you had to wash them out so often, and that you shouldn't use bleach, or that kitty's had such a keen sense of smell. I knew they don't like a dirty box, so I would always scoop it out, but I didn't realize the extent of it.

I ordered some heavy duty enzyme cleaner, which is coming in the mail this week but as of yet, hasn't arrived. While the cats are confined, they need to feel secure and not separated. I bought them some new toys and catnip last night. They'll get lots of attention tonight.

We'll see what the house looks like when we come home. I hope the kitties are snuggled up in their new, cozy kitty beds and that they are happy. I really hope this works!