03 May 2016

Current Obsessions

When I last left you, we were talking about living with elderly parents.  I'm here to tell you that it's just more of the same.

They made their trip home just fine then two weeks later, the m-i-l made a trip to the ER with complications from her COPD.  Then a week later, the f-i-l made a trip to the ER with bronchitis, which is most likely related to the mother's illness.

Oh, and when they went to the ER for the f-i-l, they didn't phone their kids.  NICE.

*head*desk*head*desk*

So, happy topics because I Can't Even with them right now.

I am OBSESSED with Hamilton, the Musical.

I know the interwebs has been talking about it a lot.  I am usually deterred when everyone is all "This is the best thing EVER" because I've found that it usually not the best thing ever.  (see: Fifty Shades of Grey and Twilight)

But holy mother of sweet baby jesus.  They are not exaggerating.  It is AH-Mazing.

And I've only just listened to the soundtrack.  I have little hopes of ever seeing the play but I'm hoping that maybe a movie adaptation could happen.  I will never leave the house again if that were to happen.

I was so enthralled that I sat outside and just listened to it. Just sat there.  If you know me, you know that it a miracle in and of itself.  I was so distracted that the neighbors walked by and I didn't hear them.  They threw a stick nearby and I didn't notice.  It was a good thing they weren't serial killers.

If you have Amazon Prime, you can download it for free.  Go Do It Now.  Or I'm sure iTunes has it but it's free on Amazon Prime.

I've found that Instagram is also another of my favorite things.  (Kellwynn93, if you're bored)

I like that it makes me purposefully think of taking a photo. Sometimes it even compels me to go somewhere to take photos, like the local tulip festival or something as simple as just taking a different route home.  I've found this very relaxing and fulfilling, especially because I've turned into a bit of a hermit in my most recent years.

Taking photos has always been a hobby for me.  Usually they linger on my phone or computer.  I have great intentions for them but not the motivation.  This makes me do something with them.

Finally, in relation to the instagram, I have been using the FreePrints app on my phone.  Monthly I can get actual photos from all the ones languishing on my phone.  This has been fantastic now that I have so many photos of Sweet Baby.

So, that's what is happening here.  Hamilton on constant play, avoiding the family, and taking photos.




22 April 2016

10 April 2016

Raising Parents

So, the parents decided it would be a good idea to drive to California.  (we live 30 minutes from Canada, for reference)

But wait, you're saying, "Doesn't he have a broken ankle?"  Yep.  "Isn't she frail and in poor health?"  Yep.  "Hasn't everyone refused to ride with him driving?"  Yep.

My mother-in-law's blood pressure was spiking and dropping before they left but the doctor still gave her the okay to travel.  I think anxiety had some to do with it. I am surprised that she even agreed to go on a trip like this, as her anxiety usually keeps her pretty close to home.

Now they're due home tomorrow and I dare to say, we're a little disappointed.  It never occurred to us until they left what pressure it is to have "custody" of the parents.

Kevin visits them every evening after work, because he's a good son.  The visits are rarely comfortable; they live in a tiny house with no seating and competition over the volume of the television is a regular thing.  I don't usually go over there in the evenings because it's just too overwhelming for me.

This week though, he has been able to come home and actually relax.  He can come in and sit down until dinner, or he can go outside to work in the shop, or do all of that.  Starting tomorrow again, he won't have that choice.

I've joked about being in the Witness Protection Program before because our every move is monitored.  This is the part that I didn't realize weighed on me so heavily.  I enjoy going back and forth with not a thought about someone watching, or needing something,

"We're going to miss this when it's gone" I keep reminding myself.  But then it's invariably followed with "Are we, though?"  I mean, it's not all bad.  Most of the time it's nice.  But if you've ever seen Everyone Loves Raymond, you know what I am talking about.  That show is seriously my life, you don't even know.

The other thing that came to light during their vacation was the state of their house.  They've reached the age of needing help.  However, they are deeply committed to a whole lot of NOPE when this subject comes up in conversation.

But they've had ants from the debris left behind while snacking in the mother's chair. The shower was a science experiment.  The fact that rodents and bugs didn't hold a rave in the kitchen while they were gone is a modern day miracle.

Again, we can rationalize that they are in their late seventies so Of Course things are starting to slip.  This would be fine if the mother wasn't in such frail health and really shouldn't be living like this AND if they were willing to accept help.

At first, we were all riled up.  "This can't BE, it just can't!" we exclaimed.  But now over a week has passed and I've remembered something.  When my dad was dying, there were similar battles.  They, also, wouldn't accept help and it was beyond irritating and worrisome.  But we had to come to the conclusion that, like unruly teenagers, they are going to do what they want to do.

As always, the worries are that something bad was going to happen.  In the case of my parents, bad things did happen.  Falls and preventable illnesses, to name a few and that's only the things that we know about.  Now again, in this instance, we just have to stand by and wait until something bad happens, because it's inevitable, and  then they will have to concede.  If they're not in a home, because that's a real thing.

I'm just over it.  I can't worry about it.  I can, however, mention that I am not going to clean again.  I'll gladly hire someone to do it the next time.  We can't live in that frustration anymore.  It's not healthy for anyone and it builds resentment.  I don't know how others do it.  Y'all are to be commended, for sure.

So, if they're going to leave rugs down "Because they're pretty" for them to trip and fall over then they can explain it to the doctors and paramedics. I'm going to leave the Smarties candy on the dining table instead of next to her side of the bed, in protest. If she wants to die because she's choked on a stupid candy while in bed, then that is going to be her choice (and an awkward obituary to write).  The dogs medicine has been moved out of the spice rack though. 

Yea! Elderly Parents!  Super fun!



20 March 2016

Four Days, the Shocking Finale

Now we're on day 3.5 of having no power.  I've lost my mind on the customer service rep, the in-laws are in a hotel, and the brother is on a flight to Chicago for work because of course he is. 

We borrowed the heater from the parents house so we had some heat.  Our house is little but it has vaulted ceilings so while it kind of took the chill off the house, it was by far not cozy.  We considered sleeping in the front room but relocated to our bedroom with the heater instead. 

But neither of us could sleep.  The power was due to be on any minute now, for real.  We knew that  when it came on, we had to make sure that everything was okay not only in our house but in the parents house as well. 

I've been listening to the Canadian radio station for 3.5 days and I'm starting to tire of it.  Commercials are the bane of my existence and like all radio stations, there are a finite amount of songs being played.  But the no power thing makes listening to Sirius, Pandora, or Amazon not feasible.  But I'm so tired and overwhelmed that I can't conceive of just trying to find another radio channel. 

I have finally finished the book I've been trying to read for months, only to discover there is a sequel.  A sequel I don't have in my possession.  Begrudgingly, I started another book but all I could do was be bitter that I couldn't just go into town and get the other one. 

So, I'm restless.  I'm tired of living in the stone ages, I'm tired of being cold, I'm tired of country radio, and I can't work on anything that I wanted to do.  Fun fact: I do my chores and shopping on Fridays, if I can pull it off, or first thing Saturday so I can have the weekend to do whatever. Now it's Saturday at midnight and  I had  that lingering over me; laundry, grubby house and general malaise.

Now I'm just sitting around watching laundry pile up more, knowing the house is going to need sanitizing and not just cleaned, and now the freezer/fridge needs gutted and cleaned.  I'm not one to have a big to-do list, it triggers the ADD/OCD alphabet soup that is my brain.  Oh, and we had to go to the grocery store to replace everything I was tossing if the power ever did return and the dump to rid us of the yuck that was our refrigerator.

All I could think was the sequence of events we had to do once the power returned.  It's not like "Oh, the lights are on, all is right with the world."  It was "Once the lights come on, there are hours of work to do."  Kevin was having the same thoughts so we sat there, unhealthily obsessing over our situation.

Finally, we went to sleep. The puppy slept with us one more night and I will admit that the heater (which is a faux fireplace) is quite lovely in our room. In any other circumstance, it would have been quite cozy.

3:45 am the power clicked on and it felt and sounded like the house roared to life.  We woke up almost immediately and instead of joy, we were all "Ugh, where do we even start" and "It's FOUR O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING."  Kevin turned our water on and flushed our toilets to prime everything again then headed next door to make sure that every light in the house plus the water wasn't on there, and to finally turn the generator off.

Oh, the generator.  I forgot.  It needed a fuel/oil mixture in order to restart the other day. (remember when it broke down?)  Reportedly the brother looked at it but "It just wouldn't run."  Kevin mentioned it to me at the time "Well, I'm sure you heard him working on it."  and I did, indeed, not hear it nor see the lights that were still plugged into it flicker to life.  The brother has a way of looking at things while being defeated and helpless so I was suspect that he even tried.  The fact that it took Kevin fifteen minutes to fix it after he returned from  the memorial service proved me right.

And, there are few more wearying sounds than a generator.  It's one of the things I do not enjoy at the racetrack, the droning noise of the generators.  In fact, the track has a curfew for generators, that's how loud they can be.  So the roar of the house being rekindled was welcome over the droning, grating sound of the generator.

at 4:00 am, I can't reasonably start cleaning the refrigerator, if there is such a state of mind, and the hot water tank needs an hour to start up and reheat so I am at a standstill.  Once Kevin came back from next door, I turned on the television and we both slept the sleep of the dead for a few hours.

8:00 am finds us happily showered in a warm house and on our way to get coffee.   I needed a bucket of mocha and chocolate mini doughnuts just to consider looking at the refrigerator.  But we had to take all that food to the dump so it had to be done first. Once we got home, really all I wanted to do was lay on the couch and watch television.  Instead I turned my Amazon music to my Loud Playlist and got to business.

All in all, it wasn't that bad. I had two garbage bins and I methodically went shelf by shelf tossing things out.  Then I scrubbed everything down and even had two boxes of baking soda to put inside to absorb  the odors.  The only rough part was the floor of  the freezer.  It was a science experiment.  I turned up James Brown really loud, breathed through my mouth, and got it done.  Cross that off my Life List.

Oh, and the guilt I had about not recycling containers was immense.  But it just wasn't feasible and the Gross Factor would have been so much more. Kevin and I loaded up the truck with not only our stuff but the parents and neighbors.  A big Dodge truck hauling a full load food poisoning, at least we looked good.

I can complain only a little bit about this part.  Because Kevin had the task of babysitting his parents while they cleaned out their refrigerator.  As it was, they tried to keep yogurt, an opened package of bacon and sausage links, and mayonnaise.  Yep, mayonnaise. I feared for their lives, not from food poisoning but at the hands of Kevin.  Kevin said he just dead-eyed them and dropped it all into the garbage can then walked out.

Oh, and the sister-in-law felt like this was the perfect time  to go out of town to visit a friend.  Not only leaving their dog at the parents (don't get me started, that's a whole other topic)  but leaving Kevin to go pick them up at the hotel and get them resettled into the house.  AND, AND, AND, we had to call our niece to come take her grandma shopping, which is usually the s-i-l's responsibility.  It was kind of a d*ck move that I'm still not quite over yet.

Then we trek into town.  First was the glamorous task of the dump and  then buying a heater because OF COURSE there is another big storm on the way.  Then we braved the grocery store. Every person from the valley was shopping that day. It was so overwhelming that I couldn't wrap my mind around everything that we needed.  I just shopped like usual then tossed random condiments into the cart.  I figured the grocery store is open every day so I could come back later.

While shopping, I remembered years and years ago when one of my oldest friends had his house flooded by a 100-year flood.  He told us about how surreal and strange it was to go from a house with two feet of water in it and utter disaster to town where everyone is just living their lives like nothing else was wrong in the world.  We were definitely feeling that over these four days.

 Once home again, I scrubbed our bathrooms to a shiny clean and started the first of almost ten loads of laundry.  (I hadn't done laundry since Tuesday, so nearly a full week of it...ugh) and tried to remember what it was like to live in civilization.  Oh, and the previous weekend we had guys in to fix our new flooring in our bathroom so this is weekend #2 of our house being torn up. 

Finally, about 2:30 I was finished and Kevin said he was coming in early.  We both wanted to just sit and mindlessly stare at the television and enjoy our electricity.  We cozied up in the living room and just started to relax when the wind kicked up again.

Our lights flickered a few times and I thought we were both going to cry.  We discussed it and made an immediate decision: if it goes out again, EVERYONE was going to a hotel.  But it stayed on and we relaxed again.

Until one big gust hit the house and we heard a crash.  Kevin jumped up and went outside but didn't see any downed trees or anything like that.  Until he spotted a big hunk of wood in our rock garden.  The wind had torn off  three sections of roofing from the house.  Our house is only ten years old so that tells you the size of gust it must have been.

I actually heard him yell at God "Are you EFFING kidding me!?!?!"  He came back into the house, changed into work clothes, and got up on the roof to fix it before the rains started.  This made me pretty nervous because the wind was whipping all around him.  But there was no other choice.

About an hour later, he was back in his chair trying to forget that all this had ever happened.  I got up to make dinner and decided that I would just make breakfast so we could just stay cozy in the living room.  Right up until I realize that I didn't buy syrup.  Because OF COURSE.  I ended up making a breakfast sandwich for Kevin and I had oatmeal.

Now today, we're a week away from that adventure and we're still a little shell shocked.  While shopping yesterday, I still had items that needed replacing.  The house is clean and laundry is finished and the house feels kind of like when it was when we first moved in.  There is a novelty to it.

The shiny side is that we have a more concrete plan should this ever happen again so that's comforting.  It gave us a story to tell so that's interesting.  Otherwise, we're just trying to forget it ever happened. 

Oh, and on Tuesday I received an email from the power company, requesting a customer service survey about "our recent contact with the company."  I'm ignoring it right now and will continue to do so until I can list more things than curse words and angry emojis.

19 March 2016

Four Days, Part Two

Okay, where did I pause?  Saturday morning. Day 2.5 with no power.

Actually, I need to back up a tiny bit.  10:30 on Friday night, the generator died.  Kevin tried and tried but couldn't get it to restart.  He literally sent his parents to bed and then we did the same.  We are now completely in the dark, no one has heat, and remember we have a well and septic system so no water nor potty. 45 degrees outside, windy and raining.  Super fun.

Oh, and Dear Swistle, I reluctantly admit that your concerns about the Big Earthquake may have merit.  If we're looking at this experience like a drill, we are HOOPED.  But, in our defense, we were caught completely off guard.  We have never gone more than 24 hours without power.  Now we know what NOT to do.

So, Saturday morning.  It was Kevin's turn to work a Saturday and he didn't feel comfortable telling his guys  that he needed to trade with such short notice so off he went.  Lucy and I stayed in bed and slept.  Because there was really nothing else to do at this point, other than call the power company.  They were not appreciating my every four hour dedication and I wasn't certain if I was helping or hurting our cause. But the fix was simple: turn on our power and I will stop calling. 

I have already had tense, curt, and probably sarcastic conversations with every customer service rep at Puget Sound Energy at this point.  I had been told that they had "determined the problem", they "were on site" and that they would be there at any given time increment.  I was also given a lesson on how circuitry worked (so wrong) and that I "just don't understand what was going on."   I was told that there were the aforementioned "only five metres on the road" multiple times until they must have highlighted the notes in neon to Not say that.  I bet if I phoned right now, they would be able to identify my voice and  that there were "six houses, eleven people - three of which are elderly and two who are under five."

Oh, and here is the most frustrating part: all that needed  to happen was a breaker/fuse to be replaced.  There was no damage to the line, pole, transformer, anything.  The breaker popped.Easy Peasy.  Now, I understand that the workers need meals and rests.  It's a dangerous and often miserable job.  But when we knew it was such an easy fix, it was difficult to be understanding.

Anyway...

My mother-in-law phones about nine o'clock and asks for information about a tiny motel that is down the road.  It is located across the street from a tavern in a one-stoplight "town", if that gives you any indication of the "quality" of this motel.  I had already told Kevin that I was down with having a hotel but just not that one.

The night before we had talked about putting the parents, or everybody, in a hotel but the power company kept saying that the power would be on soon so we kept putting it off.  My sibling-in-laws had heat so the plan was for the parent to relocate there.  But for some reason, the parents were resistant.  I'm unsure why and I just didn't have the brain space to consider what was happening.  Oh, and this is after the m-i-l getting teary and upset that they had heat and we did not.  The logic defies.

I gave her the number to the hotel after calling and getting no answer.  Then I called my sister-in-law and let her know what was happening.  She was also Up To HERE with the parents, which also is an indication of how sideways things have gone.  She never loses her cool and she had nothing.

About an hour later, I hear my brother-in-law in the driveway.  He is picking up the parents and taking them to the motel.  I freely admit to having a little glee that finally He has some responsibility in caring for his parents.  (sidebar: things always seem to happen when he's not around.  Or he manufactures a reason to not be around. Or, he just doesn't participate because he knows his brother will take care of it.  Oh yes, now that you mention it, it Does make me stabby.)

About 11:00 am I took Lucy to the coffee stand to get treats and me a coffee and something to eat.  This also allowed me to warm up in the truck and charge my phone.  I momentarily considered moving into the truck until our power returned, seriously.  But the power was due to be back on somewhere between Any Minute Now and Never so I kept holding out hope.

We had a memorial party that afternoon that could not be missed.  This was a small reason that the parents wanted to get a motel, even though only one of them were attending.  Oh, right, I forgot to revisit the father-in-law's condition.  The break/fracture/crack.  He went from "Oh, I'm FINE. I can walk on it" to NEVER WALKING AGAIN.  No, seriously, Kevin's mom said about a week ago "We just don't know when he will walk again."  Umm, let me think...doing math...remembering 2012...in SIX EFFING WEEKS.  It's as if they've forgotten that both me and my s-i-l had broken our ankles in the last three years.  What.Ever.

The memorial is near my parents house so my plan was just to pack up and go down there to get showered and revert to human form.  It occurs to me that I should call my mom to make sure she had power and that she would be home.  There is no five minute conversation with my mother so fifteen - twenty minutes later, I am packing up to go.

I was supposed to print out some photos and a speech from the cousins who live in the South for the memorial.  But, as I might have mentioned, I had no power.  I had to box up my laptop, my internet, and my printer to take to my parents so I could print everything out.  Yeah.

Now, Kevin hasn't showered since Wednesday evening so he is miserable.  He didn't have time to stop by the parents to shower before going to the memorial so he had (warning: I'm going to use a phrase that make me squint and he uses it on purpose)  a Whore's Bath in the truck shop.  He was not a happy camper.  I kept telling him that we will get a hotel after the memorial service.

The memorial service was more of a party for a cousin who passed due to damage inflicted by heavy drug use.   It was difficult to get in the mood for this event when we felt like we were living Armageddon. Her husband is the brother of one of Kevin's oldest friends and her brother is the only surviving member of that branch of the family (other than his kids) so it was inconceivable to not be there.

However, there were babies there.  A whole lot of babies.  Nothing makes  the word a better place than babies.  It was nice to see everyone else, of course, but: Babies.   A set of four-month-old twins, a one-year-old and a two-year-old, all children of our younger cousins.  Younger cousins being in the age range of early 20's to 30's but whatever.  We were definitely appreciating the circle of life in this setting.

My sister-in-law stated that the parents wanted to come back home, even if the power wasn't on.  They had been in the motel for four hours and had paid $100, $25 of which was extra because they had their little dog with them.   When I asked why, she stated "I don't know and I just can't care."   Again,  things have gone horribly wrong if this girl has that attitude. Imagine if the Dalai Lama was all "Eff this Sh*t", this is my s-i-l's level of frustration at this point.

 Our aunt, the mother's younger and only surviving sister, happened along at that point and asked what was going on.  We explained and I said "Maybe they could stay with you for a few days..."  She Walked Away.  I cracked up laughing, because it felt like vindication that they are and have been challenging lately.  Her own sister was all "Nope, I'm out."

Kevin and his brother intervened and told their mother that they were absolutely not returning home until the power was back on and had been on for an hour or two.  As neither of them can drive at this point, they were stranded at a motel.  A place, crappy motel or not, we would have gladly traded with them.

Before we left the party, Kevin called the power company one more time.  The person he spoke to and said that there was someone on site right now and that our power would be on by six o'clock.  It was about 5:00.  Because we had heard it all before, we were skeptical.  Kevin expressed his skepticism and was assured all would be well.  He ended the call with "You will know if it isn't because heaven help you if we drive 45 minutes home to find we have no power."

And, yeah, we got home and no power.  No trucks or people in sight.

I might have called and yelled.  Actually yelled.  And cursed.  For about ten minutes.  The words "Stop talking" may have been used.  and "I'm not done."   I lost my sh*t and I never lose my cool.  Never.  But it was so far gone that I didn't even feel bad. Usually I rationalize that they are just doing their job and  they are probably not having much fun either but I was so over that. 

The poor girl said something like "I can relate" and my head came off my shoulders.  "I don't know that you can. Do you have power, heat, and water where you are right now?  Yes, you do.  Is all the food in your refrigerator and freezer good because ours isn't.  Are your elderly parents home in a warm house? Ours are in a cheap hotel because of this mess. Don't tell me you understand."

Yeah, it was ugly.

A customer service manager phoning me thirty minutes later ugly.  Documenting my entire story and all my words ugly.  Hostage negotiation tone of voice ugly.  I'm sure I've won some sort of Customer Service Worse Caller Ever award this year.

And our power still wasn't on.  Nor would it be for another twelve hours.

16 March 2016

Four Days in the Dark

You know your life has gone sideways when a memorial service is the best part of your weekend.

The ever so lovely Pacific Northwest had a March storm that took out our power.  We were without for almost four days. While this is the headline, it is way not the story.

I came home a little late on Thursday afternoon because it was storming and I wanted to take photos of the bay. When I pulled onto our road, I noticed what I thought was a branch had fallen and caught in the trees.  I stopped to look and thought "Well, it's a little sketchy but I'll hurry underneath."

Once I was on the other side, I stopped and got out to take a better look.  So, so much worse from that angle.  The top of a tree had snapped off and caught in the other trees and the end was resting on our power lines.  It was about a twenty foot section of tree.

So, I phoned Kevin to tell him what happened so he could get off a little early and see it in the daylight and do any clean up that needed to happen.

I went home, let Lucy outside to do her thing, and stood on the deck for a minute looking at the tree and wondering when Kevin was going to get home.  Returning into the house, I finally realize that it's really quiet.  Our power is out.  *bad words*  Oh, and of course it is because Tree on the Wires.

I phoned the power company and reported the outage. She said that two others had reported it earlier but gave no further information.  "It should be restored by the end of the day."  Okay, so that sucks and we'll have to go out to dinner but we're fine.

Then I phone Kevin's parents.  His mom tells me in a completely unconcerned tone  "Oh yeah, well, the tree fell on the power line and our power went out." 
"Did you phone the power company?"
"Oh no, we didn't have to.  The fire department did it when they came because the tree caught fire."

The. Tree. Caught. Fire.

And they didn't call their kids.  When there was a FIRE.

When did this happen?  I ask, rubbing my forehead and actively thinking about not strangling them.

"Oh, I don't know, about 10:30 this morning.  We just went to  town."

Head.Desk.Head.Desk.Head.Desk.  Are you kidding me.

They drove under the dangerous, formerly on fire, tree to go to town.  And didn't call their kids.

*Deep breath*

I hung up with her and phoned  the power company back.  I gave her all the details and included that my mother-in-law was in poor health and often needed the ambulance and oxygen.  The power company again stated  that it would probably be on in the evening.  She even mentioned that it was important to mention things like my mother-in-law's poor health.

Kevin came home and cleaned up the tree a little bit then came home.  We decided to go to dinner and wait it out.  While we were at dinner, Kevin phoned his parents to give them the update.  "You know, next time there is a power outage you might give one of your kids a call."
"We knew they had been contacted so we just didn't think about it."
"How about next time there is fire, you CALL YOUR KIDS."

They actually had the nerve to sound insulted. This is not something we would think would need to be said but apparently it is.

So, we came home and we still didn't have power.  I phoned the power company again to get an update.  Now it was pushed to by midnight that night.  I was annoyed but really, at this point the house was still warm and all we were missing was television. And water.  And toilets.  But it was temporary. It was quaint.

We set up the generator so we could have lights and his parents could have lights then we went to bed.  It wasn't super cozy but we were fine.  Also, Kevin helped his brother set up his generator because his brother is a big effing baby when it comes to these situations and that's all I have to say about that.

The next morning we awoke to still no power.  I sent Kevin off to work and called the power company again.  Oh, now  the power will be on around noon, the evening at the latest.  I expressed disappointment and just a tinge of annoyance.

The helpful customer service rep told me that they were on site.  I told them they were very much not on site.  "You may not be able to SEE them."
*throat clearing*  Um, yeah, I CAN actually but THANKS.  Oh, and everyone else in a two mile radius has power so um, SHUT UP.

About 10:00 am, Kevin phoned to tell me that he was on his way home.  He had talked to his parents and they were getting cold enough that it was starting to affect his mother's health.  He was coming home to reconfigure the generator so they could have heat.

So, he hooked up their little electric fireplace and all was good again.  Because this was temporary, the power will be back on in the evening.  No worries.

He and I went down to where the tree fell and cleaned up the rest of the branches, leaves, and mess that the tree had left.  He had bought lunch on the way home for he and his parents so we were set until dinner.  We just hadn't showered.  The fun had dwindled and we were beginning to get irritable.

Dinnertime started approaching and I phoned the power company again.  Now it wasn't due to be on until midnight.  This time I did express displeasure at being over 24 hours without power.  "Well, ma'am, there are only five meters on that road so you are not a priority."

Cue: Head Explosion.

"There are SIX HOUSES on this road, SIX.  Three of the people are elderly, one in poor health, and two small children under the age of five so PLEASE explain to me how we are not a priority." 

Yeah, that went over well.  About as well as (spoiler alert)  four hours later when it was Kevin's turn to call the power company, only to hear very similar to the above.  He has this sarcastic giggle when he's at the edge of losing his sh*t and I heard him do it.  "Well, Ma'am, I think the point that might be missing is  that all SIX of these families PAY THEIR ELECTRIC BILL and deserve to have timely service.  I'm sure we would be a priority if WE didn't pay our bills."

*Slow Clap*

Now knowing that we weren't going to have power anytime soon, Kevin talked to his parents and his brother about moving his parents down to their house.  Because we live in a tiny house and they have a pellet stove that was keeping their house warm, it made more sense for them to go there.  No, the parents want to just stay where they were.  Kevin started getting wound up about this and somehow I stayed in my mature space and said "No, let them be.  Let it be a consequence."  He was so tired and frustrated that he did let it go.

We went to bed grouchy, unshowered, and cold.  We actually let the puppy sleep with us so she would be warm and frankly, to help keep us warm.  I kept telling myself that this was going to give us a good story to tell when it was all over.

6:00 am on Saturday and Kevin's alarm goes off.  Still no power.  And this is where I end this chapter.  Stay tuned for the next post.  :)



05 March 2016

Are You My Dad?

Because I just can't leave well enough alone, I'm now uncovering family history that I had no idea about.  With the help of my maternal grandmother's albums, which includes two generations back (from her) family tree, I'm entering information like a crazy person into ancestry.com.

I was momentarily befuddled though.  I knew my uncle wasn't my dad's full brother but I always thought he was the younger brother.  I was completely wrong.  He is an older brother by about three years.  His dad was a man I had never heard of until I found their marriage license online.

My mom said that my grandma and this man were married just long enough to produce a child, essentially.  My grandpa then took him as a son, including giving him his name.  According to photos, he was a young toddler when they got together.

But then my grandma kicked my grandpa out when my dad was in the younger grade school age because of his drinking habits.  She was a single mom for awhile.  Dating...perhaps marrying, again...and then she was with the man I knew as my grandpa Earl on two different tries.

I told my mom "Well, good on Grandma.  Just keep trying."  My mom said something along the grandma version of "I know, right?", which surprised me a little.

OH, and then, my mom was married twice as well.  (I know, soap opera writers are going to request our family tree for plot lines)  I was explaining to my mom at a family dinner that I was going to print out a timeline of the family tree.  "But it shows you were married three times, twice to dad, so I have to fix that."

She looked panic stricken for a second and said "Well, not *everyone* knows I've been married twice."   I'm guessing she was referring to my nieces, who would think it was cool.  But then she didn't tell me until I was nineteen and literally days away from marrying the first time so....

Anyway, today I'm plugging away, entering information on the website when I found my grandparents (my dad's parents) marriage certificate.  I looked at the date and thought "Oh, there must be some mistake."  I double-checked, only to discover that my dad was conceived out of wedlock.  His birthday was June 4 and they were married on March 16.

This had to be scandalous, back in the day.  But it also made me wonder, my grandpa gave my uncle his name, was there any chance that my dad wasn't his son?  The mind reels.

So, divorce records are going to be my next adventure. I texted my brother and his blithe reply was "Lol, Kinda figured that long ago."  What. the. Actual. Hell. family?

I'm morbidly fascinated in what else I am going to uncover.  I don't think I mentioned that my married name is the same as my grandma's maiden name.  Yeah.  "Lucky" for me, it is an extremely common last name so odds are good we're not second cousins.  *fingers crossed*

29 February 2016

Proof My Life is a Sitcom

So, hmm, what's been happening here lately?  I will give you two vignettes:

Last week my father-in-law broke his ankle.  So for those of you keeping score at home, three out of six adults in this family have broken their ankle.  Do not move here or visit even.  We have issues.

After Kevin got home that night, he phoned next door to see what the doctor said.  Kevin said his dad said "Well, it's a fracture." 
Kevin said "So it was broken." 
Kevin's dad corrected him "No, it's a FRACTURE." 
His mother can be heard in the background "Dear, it's BROKEN."
"No it's a FRACTURE"
"No, it's BROKEN.  They said  BROKE."
"It's a fracture."

Repeat this for the next three days.

I could hear this from Kevin's phone and I had to walk away.  Hours later, I asked Kevin..."They, umm, know that it's the same thing, right?" 
"I'm not sure they do."

He kept walking on his fractured ankle because "It doesn't hurt."  He unwrapped his entire soft-case because it was too tight.  They called us at 8:45 to have me come wrap it back up because they couldn't figure out how to do it.  When they gave him a boot, he continued to take it off because it was uncomfortable. 

Finally, after being threatened with surgery, he is now staying off of it. To the other end of the spectrum.  He doesn't get up now.  His mom has been taking care of them.  As we learned when Kevin's mom was in the hospital, accepting help is not something they are willing to do.

So, yeah.  I've adjusted my schedule a bit so that there is someone around if things go sideways. That is the shiny side.

Fast forward about a week...Kevin's uncle, my father-in-law's older brother, has come to visit.  Because why not?

We had dinner as a family today.  KFC, because my sister-in-law is Up To HERE with everything right now.  She never is grumpy or gets rattled but she has HAD IT.

Our uncle brought a video to watch.  A VHS video.  From 2005.  Of their vacation in Mexico.

Do you remember the camcorder days?  Total crap sound, unsteady camera to point of seasickness, and it really shows how people of this generation have become Spielbergs  with their phones.  Nothing makes a person appreciate cell phone cameras like old VHS tapes.

The first five minutes was looking over the dash while hearing nothing but the rattling of the motorhome in the background.  Then it switched to five minutes of looking at the courtyard of the condos.  I know you think it can't get any better and it doesn't.

Someone noticed the contractors building some condos.  The soundtrack is a jackhammer then accompanied by a cement mixer.  This was so interesting that we watched thirty minutes of it. 

"Because you see, he lifts those buckets. They weigh 75 pounds.  Watch! He lifts it one handed, and he runs. I tell you, he runs.  And he never stops!!"  For thirty minutes.  "And that guy, look at that guy.  He takes a bucket full of concrete and lifts it up to the other guy."

THIRTY. MINUTES.

About halfway through, Kevin looks at me and whispers "Effing kill me."

Fifteen minutes later and watching a boat launch later, Kevin finally tapped out.   We came home singing a bitter chorus of OMG.

That's what's happening here.  What's going on with you?


15 February 2016

Too Many Things to Do. Oh, the Internet is Calling!

I am having one of those If You Give A Mouse A Cookie mornings.  It's President's Day so I have the day off and I have things to do that I specifically planned for today.  And then I fell asleep on the couch. 

It's pouring rain outside so a certain furry creature can't go outside for too long, even though she would love for me to hold open the door endlessly so she can consider her choices.  Like a desperate parent, I just gave her a bone hoping that it would entertain her.  She is currently under my leg stealing paper out of the wastepaper basket. 

I left cleaning the floor to be done today because it really is pointless to do it on Saturday, just to have a cute boy and his dog go across it eleventy hundred times.  It's one of my least favorite chores though so I'm ignoring it.

Here is a photo of my office in it's current state:

You can't see the cereal I haven't eaten yet.  Or the imaginary coffee I'm thinking about going to get as "motivation".  You can see the stack of photo albums, I've added five since Saturday because me = glutton for punishment.  There's also a dinosaur laptop that I like to write with but has about .05% memory left.  And my newish laptop that of course needed to update this morning.  My new headphones that I want to test out today.  My dead tablet that I have to decide what I'm going to do with because I bought a new one. 

You also can't see my computer glasses which are all the way in the other room but the dog has decided to sleep next to me now.  If I move, she'll wake and want entertaining again.  But this has me squinting and hunching over, which is not a good look nor comfortable.



To add insult to injury, I know I'm forgetting something. This makes a tiny squeaky noise in my brain but not loud enough to tell me WTH I'm forgetting.  So, that's nice.

My phone just alerted me that the lovely Swistle has posted, which means I will go read what she is up to.  As it's titled Frustrating Morning, I'm going to guess we're having similar mornings.  And, this reminds me I didn't comment the other day like I intended so I need to do that.  Maybe that's the squeaky noise.

The main project today is scanning and printing photo copies for my cousins.  My mom pulled a Kevin's Mom and brought out four more albums, three of which are from my grandparents that I've never seen before.  So, TREASURE! but also, More Work!

I also promised my mom to work on the Ancestry project today.  I think I am going to go get coffee. Besides, she's awake now:



23 January 2016

A Different Kind of Friday Night Dinner

I'm beyond happy to tell you that baby Five has arrived.  He was nearly a week late and after putting his mom through four days of progressive labor, he arrived at a fighting weight of 9 lbs 6 oz and 20.4 inches tall.  His hands and feet are ginormous and he looks just like his daddy.

His mama is doing great and happy to be home.  She so impressed me with her strength and grace.  The girl made hardly any noise during labor.  Not a curse word, not a scream, not even a complaint.   She had 30 minutes hard labor and ended the evening like she didn't just birth a giant baby.  It was as if she'd merely had an unpleasant dental experience.

At one point, She mentioned that it was too quiet.  I asked her if she wanted some music but a contraction hit so she couldn't answer.  After the contraction ended, Nephew asked her "How about some Skrillex?" then proceeded to "Cats.Boots.Cats.Boots.Cats.Boots" beat box.  We were cracking up laughing.  This is an example of how the evening went.

My nephew stood in it the whole way, he never wavered.  I was so proud of him, I could burst.  He didn't get grossed out (his words), he helped her when she needed it and more importantly, gave her space when she wanted it.  He made jokes that made everyone laugh.unfortunately extensive knowledge of hospital rooms and stays, he knew what to do to make her comfortable before she even really knew she needed it.  He adjusted her IV, he knew how to pack her pillows around her, and knew how to read the monitors.  He knew how to ask things from the nurses and doctors without seeming like the demanding, overbearing husband.

So, details.  She had been partially dilated, fully effaced, and having contractions the whole week.  Finally at 4:00 they went to the hospital when contractions were consistently five minutes apart.  The family arrived over the next hour and by 5:30, things were getting real.

However, her water wouldn't break.  All the other things were happening but her water wouldn't let go.  They did it for her and let her progress.  Then her cervix would only open fully on one side.  So, with the threat of pitocin lingering, they put her in a few different poses to help facilitate the process and told us that after an hour they would have to intervene. 

Right as we were nearing the one hour mark, I went out of the room for a moment.  The nurse asked how she was doing and I told her that her contractions were pretty consistent but that you wouldn't know it because you would think she was just resting.  The nurse said she would check on her again in a few minutes.

When I returned, the nurse came in and checked her.  (this is where I state the obvious: there is no such thing as dignity in the hospital, specifically during childbirth)  We watched as the nurse reached in and suddenly her eyes grew wide.  "Oh, there's the babys head!"

Suddenly there was a group of people in the room.  The baby had earlier pooed in the birth canal so they had the trauma birth team there just in case. Thirty minutes later, he was laying on his mama's chest, sucking his thumb, and looking at us like "Who the hell are you people?"

We loved the birthing team.  I don't know if  they are just quiet as a group or if they followed her lead but they were so quiet.  No raised voices, no sense of urgency, just encouragement.  They even commented about how strong she was during hard labor. 

Now, the fun stuff.  The boys weren't in the room at all.  Kevin, his brother and dad all waited out in the waiting room.  The kids were at their bio dads.  Her mom is in jail (I  think I told you that story?  in jail for the next eight years) so it was all of nephews family: his mom, his grandma (Kevin's mom), his sister, and me.  Her sister was on her way but things were happening so fast, it looked like she was going to miss it.

It turns out that she arrived on nearly the last push.  The nurse asked if she was allowed in and Niece was all "Sure, why not?" in between pushing.   I watched the sister come in, see the goings on, hesitate with goggled eyes, then with determination walk all the way into the room.  Unfortunately, the only space left was nearly head on with the delivery so we had a good giggle at that.  

Kevin's mom knew what was happening, of course, but she kept kind of losing the thread of events.  My sister-in-law gave her the tablet to play Candy Crush.  My hand to god, she sat not six feet away with a straight-on view of the birth and played Candy Crush.  Occasionally she would look up then return to her game.  At one point, she just said "Oh, he will be out with the next push" without hardly pausing her game. 

I texted Kevin a photo:
The other mother related story was right as things were starting to progress, my mother-in-laws cell phone rang.  She never has her ringer set below SHOUT and it's been a thing.  My sister-in-law snagged it out of her hands with ninja-like reflexes and shut if off.  Then she firmly put it down next to her and said "No." as if speaking to a small child.  Sister repeated "No." when she protested while the rest of us tried to hide our laughter.

I loved the maternity nurse too.  She put Nephew and I to work taking care of both his wife and the baby.  We helped bathe him, dress him, hold him while they did his bracelets, shots, and tests. Like his parents, he's the most chill baby.  He fussed a bit with his shots and he protested during the bath but he was otherwise just a happy baby.  I just so appreciated her kindness and the being given the opportunity to be hands on with him the first few minutes of his life. 

It will be one of my favorite memories watching Nephew care for his wife after delivery.  They were in their own little world and for once in my life, it was a Hallmark Channel moment to behold.  He helped clean her up like it wasn't gross, making self-deprecating jokes the whole time.  I actually heard him joke "It's like a crime scene, he murdered your vagina."  This made me laugh but I watched the nurses look at him in disbelief.  They laughed too, eventually.

There was no plan for all of us to be in the delivery room, specifically me.  I had planned on waiting outside, knowing it was going to be a quick delivery.  (she had C2 in the car on the way to the hospital)  But things did progress gradually that I was in the middle of it before I even realized what was happening.

And I wouldn't change a moment.  Because I didn't have children and I wasn't a part of any other the other births, my only frame of reference was high school biology and my Greys Anatomy medical degree.  While it wasn't angel singing, ethereal wonderfulness nor was it the melodramatic screaming and grossness.  It was fantastic and amazing.  One moment there wasn't a baby and the next there was.

Welcome to the wold little man.




10 January 2016

Photos of Gold

I am a glutton for punishment and brought home a box of photos from my parents house.  I figured that I had already sorted out quite a few into albums years ago, so it wouldn't be too bad.

And it's not, it's not a full paper box worth of photos but there were a few surprises.  Photos of my parents, who haven't seemed happy in years, actually looking happy.  Photos of me that I hadn't seen in years.  Fire department and fireworks photos that need to be shared.

One group were photos my niece found that were nearly ruined.  She showed them to me and I just asked her to throw them in the box because you never know.  I looked at them a little closer yesterday and they were of a major bridge being built here in Skagit County.  Kind of a big deal.

There was a weathered envelope in there also. I noticed that the letterhead said CAT, like in Caterpiller Heavy Equipment.  It was a photo shoot, of all things, of my grandfather on a new CAT bulldozer, building a very prominent road in Anacortes.  There was also a newspaper clipping from the shoot. 


That discovery was the biggest and best out of all.  I scanned them all in and put them on my facebook.   It was fun to share that little bit of history with everyone.

There is a jumble of old, old, old photographs of folks I have no idea whom they are.  It looks like it's from my dad's family.  As both of his parents died young-ish and left behind spouses and we had a disconnected father, we have very little information or photographs from his side of the family.  

When my great aunt died in early 2000's, my dad was the executor of the will.  This let us have unprecedented access to our past.  I have a small box of photos that I brought home, knowing that they would be lost forever if I left them anywhere but in my possession.  Otherwise, we would have nothing.

Posting these photographs on facebook gained me two cousins from that side of the family.  This will hopefully open the door to a little more sharing than ever before.

In a random little, mostly empty photo album, I found a photo that was washed out.  I think it was a dinner table set of a holiday dinner.  I think it's my grandfather, when he was still married to my grandmother.  

I scanned it and did some doctoring and can see it a little better.  But it turned into one of those horror show moments for a minute when I noticed the reflection in the mirror and then Who is that in the corner!?!?!! 

I think it's my grandma, but it could be a ghost for all I know.
So, the adventure continues.  If you don't hear from me again, it's because I lost my mind or that spooky lady in the photo has taken me.

03 January 2016

Unfinished Thoughts

I did this once before, posted unfinished posts.  I believe I borrowed the idea from the lovely Swistle. In fact, let's just assume that I have.

So, here is one year worth of unfinished thoughts.  I actually kept three posts while culling that I will make an effort to finish as they feel like they have merit.


The Day Before Christmas Eve:

Kevin decided that the kids needed more stocking stuffers so we went to the target after breakfast.  We didn't find anything that the kids really needed that was in the stocking stuffer range.  It's Christmas Eve, so things are pretty well picked through.  Also, the kids aren't into Star Wars and all the things are Star Wars right now.

A few stores down was a dollar store.  This dollar store concept fascinates Kevin.  I've only gone with him twice before, and only because there was something specific that we were looking for.  (they have a cleaner called Totally Awesome, which is probably totally radioactive, but it works really well on outside/garage-type stuff)

OH MY Sweet Tiny Baby Jesus.  $25 later.  About $12 of it wasn't for the children.  Buy All the Things ! Because $1!   But, we got some cool Spiderman color posters for the little boys, gummy worms for all the kids, a book for one of the nerd nephews (there are two), and other oddities that only kids under twelve could love.

One realization that I had is that the dollar store must be an absolute lifesaver for some families.  Kids don't always realize what costs $1 and what's $10.  With a little creativity, a person could really do a lot of gifting without spending a bunch of money.  I found myself oddly grateful for this, as we browsed around.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
November, Pre-Trip Jitters:

We leave in two days for our trip and I've reached the Anxiety Level.

This year my niece and her best friend are house and puppy sitting for us.  A person would think that this would lessen anxiety but it hasn't.  This doesn't reflect on my niece in any way, this is all on me.

In addition to worrying about stopping our mail, paying our bills early, and making sure everything is in order, now I'm fussing that I need to make sure they have food and that our sheets are changed before we leave at 7:00 in the morning and is there anything that I'm going to forget to tell them.

Fruitless worrying.  Today I was nearly disabled because I had so much to do that I couldn't even get my sh*t together.  Instead, I am going to extra busy tomorrow and the next day.  Well done, me.  I have actually become an internet meme.

And it is not like any of this is super important.  Choosing which books to take, making sure we have the toiletries we need. (they do have stores in Vegas, I know this), changing the laces in my new sneakers because this is so important. (*eye roll*)  Printing our itinerary has even thwarted me.  Seriously ridiculous.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Post Trip Gathering:

Today we went to a birthday party for one of Kevin's oldest friends.  It was at his parents house, where Kevin spent a lot of time as a kid.

It was fun to watch Kevin with his second parents and in their home.  He has known this family since he was six.  His childhood home was behind their house and across a field.  He knew that house probably as well as his own. 

But as things do, the house had changed.  It was interesting to watch him process and remember how it used to be.  It was also fun  to watch him interact with these folks, seeing glimpses of  the little boy he used to be. 


~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Months Ago, and I'm still horrified:

The other day someone posted a horrific comment on Facebook.  I don't usually read the comments unless I know for certain that they will be positive or clever or am seeking more information.  But this comment was pointed out to me, just so I could share their dismay.  Without being specific to the situation, someone announced the gender of their baby and a person commented on how this couple shouldn't have children. Like, ever.

My friend wondered if it was perhaps an inside joke and that we all shouldn't be so horrified. (it was posted on a mutual friends page)  I thought that if it was an inside joke then that almost made it worse. Because we, and others, don't understand that it was an inside joke. Imagine the mother-in-law reading that, or the cousin who lives on the opposite coast, or the coworker reading that.

All I could think of was "Their family saw that, their friends, their coworkers." It just makes me cringe. It made me sad for the couple whose special moment was ruined.  It made me sad for the commenter, whose life is so small and angry that they felt compelled to post something so hurtful.

I don't care if this is child number seven, or if they're poor, or if they're just bad parents.  When they clicked "post", they were joyful. What right did Sister AngryPants have to comment?

I'm sure the commenter would feel righteously justified in posting the comment, if asked.  But it's a judgement, which none of us should do. It's a  scattershot judgement that wasn't just given directly to the intended folks, but to everyone else that ever looks at their social media page.  For one quick moment, that judgmental comment ruined not only their moment but took a little bit from anyone who had to read it, whether they know the person or not.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Kevin's Mom's Super Bowl Sweatshirt:

Kevin's mom's sweatshirt arrived today.  Packages for us are usually accepted by my in-laws so when it arrived, it's a good assumption that it's at their house when we get home.

Amazon sends notifications now so when I got one, I called Kevin to say it was at the house.  He said that his mom had phoned to say there was a package for us.  Kevin just said thanks and didn't let on what it was.  It was for her.

He asked me if he should tell her that he wasn't sure what was in the box and ask her to open it.  I said yes, because that's fun.  He phoned her back, she opened it and was very pleased.  "Oh, you guys. You didn't have to do that!"

And then...

Kevin called about an hour later and said that the sweatshirt was too big for her.  He wondered about having me order another one and we would just give this one to his dad.  Ugh, but okay.  I went online to reorder the sweatshirt and they were out of stock.  Because: Super Bowl.

I phoned Kevin to break the news.  I should have waited until I did a proper search but I wanted to get this done before Sunday.  Kevin actually offered to go to Wally World, in a true act of heroism.

I went back and did another search.  This time it showed it was in stock.  Sigh.  I reordered it and even paid five whole dollars to make sure it arrived before the Super Bowl.  What was supposed to be a kind gesture now  turned into a mildly expensive thing. 

Well, she forgot about the second sweatshirt so when it arrived, it was like Christmas all over again.  She also didn't know that kevin had decided to keep the too large sweatshirt and give it to his dad. Now the parents are outfitted for Seahawks SuperBowl and ready to celebrate.

Happy New Year!


31 December 2015

New Year's Meme



It’s tradition! The New Years Meme!

1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?
We didn’t  go racing this year, which was strange but we really enjoyed the time at home.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?


I did, sorta, kinda, sorta.   The appliance finally were replaced.  Now the stove is giving me the side-eye so I suspect it is next.  Microwave that is ten years old and never quite worked right? Totally still here.  It will be next.

CD’s are culled by me and only partially by Kevin, who is surprisingly nostalgic about them. 

Write daily…well, that was a big, fat Nope.  There’s always next year, which is bound to be better than the last few years.

My resolutions for 2015:
1.  I’m seeing some old habits creep in that I’m not enjoying.  I’m going to stick to a consistent work schedule, walk to the mailbox more, make an effort to read and write.
2. Write Daily...be it an email, a tweet, a post, something. 
3. Get off of milk entirely, which is riddling me with anxiety.  I have to find a cream substitute for my coffee! 

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?


Yes!  A close friend had a baby boy named after a classmate (her brother-in-law) who passed in 1988.  Also, new nephew due any minute now!

4. Did anyone close to you die?


Not close to us, but we’ve reached the age where people are passing at a more regular rate.  I do not enjoy.

5. What countries did you visit?


"Oh Canada, our home and native land.."

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
Healthy Family Members (a sad repeat from past years)

7. What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
This is odd but it’s a repeat: My last day at my work at the job I hated.  I was using a cane but if I could have SKIPPED out of there, I totally would have.  I’m continually surprised at how unhappy I was there.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?


Walking, again.  After getting all my bionics removed, I was a little hesitant.  But now it’s almost like nothing happened.  I can jog a tiny bit even.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Yikes, I am unsure.  Not keeping in better touch with friends, I think.  I always have the best intentions and  the worst attention.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I had the most horrible cold from November 22 to just before Christmas.  I can now go illness free through 2016.  I never, never, never get sick.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Oooh, without sounding all hair-flippy, new washer & dryer & dishwasher, new flooring through the entire house, new furniture, and now new kitchen lighting.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My mother-in-law, the chick tried to die twice this year and is still here. I’m beginning to think she’s indestructible.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?


Two family members with untreated mental illness (two different branches of the families)  while I can recognize that it’s the mental illness, I can’t seem to justify their behavior or want to spend time with them.

14. Where did most of your money go?
As mentioned above, home improvements.  I’m surprised at how happy it has made me.

15. What did you get really excited about?
New, fantastic job that follows school districts schedules. Snow days and regular breaks!

16. What song will always remind you of 2015?
Kick the Dust Up…Luke Bryan.  Riding in a big Dodge, with Kevin on our trip to Winthrop.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
– happier or sadder? I’m happier, for sure.
– thinner or fatter? Same-ish
– richer or poorer? About the same

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?


Write, I’m feeling the anxiety of not doing it.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?


Spend time in hospitals.

20. How did you spend Christmas?


Eve - at my parents.
Day - Next door, immersed in children's excitement and food

21. Did you fall in love in 2015?
Every day.

22. What was your favorite TV program?


I always have a difficult time choosing favorites. Doctor Who, Bones, Fixer Upper.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?


No. I'm not a hater. It's a waste of time

24. What was the best book you read?
Humans of New York.  I’m a little obsessed.  I also have Stories of Humans of New York.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Amazon Prime Music. 

26. What did you want and get?
My dream job!

27. What did you want and not get?
I am pleased to say that I can’t think of anything.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
Divergent.  I am surprised how much I liked it.  Also, not a 2015 film but I’m catching up.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
47.  I was still sick so I slept in, we went to breakfast and shopping then we crashed and watched Flip or Flop all evening.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
More reading! 

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?
Hoodies. Cords.  Boots.  (because I can wear them now!)

32. What kept you sane?


Mochas. Kevin. Lucy. Television.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Trevor Noah, Jon Stewarts replacement.  Wicked smart and funny.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?


Legalization of gay marriage.

35. Who did you miss?


My former co-workers.

36. Who was the best new person you met?


There are two and they’re both co-workers.  Erin and Anne.  They’re both fantastic people who I hope to be friends with forever. 

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.
Just be patient.  (I’m never good at this.)

23 December 2015

Long, Winding, Christmas Post

It's almost Christmas and I came into the holding feeling unprepared.  I've been sick since our trip so I feel like I've missed the entire Christmas season.  Luckily for me, I'm now on Winter Break so I have days to get my stuff together.

I began at WallyWorld, not my favorite place, ranking lower than the dentist.  Of course, the first cart I chose was wobbly and loud.  I nearly just went home before I even began. It was 8:00 in the morning.

I had a semi-successful shopping trip.  I didn't bring my list because dumb.  I tried to run my card as a credit instead of debit so it was declined thus starting the panic/shame spiral until I figured out what I'd done wrong.  But on terms of WallyWorld shopping trips, successful.

Then I went to the grocery store and that went more smoothly.  For one, I could shop there blindfolded and for two, it was early enough that all the grandparents in the valley were there.  My list was done, except for one present for my grown niece.

Two stores down and I've still forgotten to buy stamps.  Then Kevin called while I was driving and I drove past my post office.  Finally, I get there and there was only a handful of people there. But the first lady in line was trying to figure out the easiest and cheapest way to send about ten over-sized envelopes.  We all wanted her dead, for five minutes, then she can be alive again because it is Christmas after all.

I buckled down as soon as I got home and wrote out about one million Christmas cards.  They're mostly going to be late, especially to our Canadian friends.  The border adds about a one week delay.  And East Coast friends, we'll see.  Sometimes the post office surprises me.  Because cards seem to be a lost art, I really want to continue to do them.  It's just nice getting something in the mail these days.

I will never understand why I feel like I could be a ballerina when I hear the Nutcracker music.  It will never make sense to me.  I'm the poster child of Not A Ballerina, short and curvy.  The other was I realized that I may have gestured stop to another driver while singing along to Frosty the Snowman.  Sorry, other driver, just busting a groove with Frosty.   On the flip side, Same Old Lange Syne by Dan Fogleberg and The River by Joni Mitchell wrecks me every time I hear them.

My family decided not to exchange gifts this year.  I am disappointed that I am at that time of my life, it's an unhappy milestone.  Instead, we are getting gifts for the toddler and my grown nieces.  I know, intellectually, I'm supposed to be understanding about this but emotionally, I'm feeling a little pouty and sad.

With Kevin's family, because there are so many of us, the adults draw names.  So each person gets two presents: one from the person who drew your name and one from their spouse/person.  Then the kids get eleventy billion presents, as it should be.  At least, though, it feels a little like Christmas still.

I got the craziest Christmas bonus at work the other day.  I don't say this to be all braggy but because it was funny.   As we know, I've had the plague since November 22.  When I came into work the other morning, there was a really pretty box of Kleenex with ribbon tied around it and a very nice card from my boss.  Like, with written sentiment and everything.

I've worked for non-profits my entire adult life so Christmas bonuses are few and far between, thus I had absolutely no expectations.  I saw the Kleenex and thought "Hahaha, I've had a cold for a month, it's a pretty box, hahahaha" and was totally happy with the card.

Hours went by when a co-worker came in and asked if I had used my kleenex.  I laughed, because what?  She laughed and said "Pull out a tissue, maybe two."   So, I did and there was one tissue then a whole bunch of $5 bills taped together in a chain.  How funny and cool was that?   Have I mentioned that I still have my dream job?

Oh, and the staff Christmas party.  I am not a party person, especially now that I don't drink.  This one was at  6:00 pm on a WEDNESDAY.  Who does that?  And, to up the difficulty level, it was at someone's house.  There was a gift exchange, which is always fun to watch.  I was the last person to pick so I had the choice of stealing any of the gifts.  Let me tell you, few things give me anxiety like anticipating having to choose a gift and I CAN'T EVEN with the thought of stealing someone elses gift.  I got a Very Cool paper lantern that I love very much.

The house decorations continue to be a challenge.  There is just something about this house that doesn't enjoy decorations.  I don't know what kind of grinch house we built but I'm slowly winning it over.  This year's challenge is that we changed the flooring so the colors of the house have changed.  (We had forest green carpet before. I know, I know, shut up) Now we have wood flooring and earth tone brownish carpet.

So, I got my pinterest on and have liberally scattered ornaments everywhere.  This seems to please the house.  Also, I have used pretty beaded rope and small string lights. Finally, Michaels (the craft store, not the former husband) has these overly glittered and shiny decorations that I love like I'm a small child.  They are very WhoVille.  (funny aside: Kevin took a bag to put a change of clothes into.  He grabbed the bag the decorations traveled home in and his clothes came out rather glittery.  Everyone wins there.)

AND THEN,

For my birthday and unexpected riches, I went to the second hand store to browse.  I've become a Christmas ornament junkie and I wanted to see what they might have for Five, the new baby due any minute now.  Giant score!  I found a pleather jacket for him, cute jeans and onesies with heavy equipment and 4x4 trucks on them.  And, best score: a brand-new boppy pillow for mama and the baby.  $50 in the store and I bought it for $7.99. 

I also found old glass ornaments, like the ones I had as a child.  A Vegas photo album to help along my ongoing photo project, a purple track suit (they were actually separates but I have to imagine they just were separated in sorting, they match so well.  They're plum colored, that can't have been an accident)  A pillow that I don't need, I just wanted.  Two pairs of black corduroy pants.  A red fleece shirt to wear on Christmas.  My basket was full, an unusual thing for me.

I was approached by an elderly man who asked me if I had the discount today.  The store had just announced that seniors received an extra discount.  I told him no, laughed, and said "I'm not old enough yet, I'm not as cool as you."

He gave me his 30% off discount.  He said that he was looking around for someone to give it to and he chose me.  Me, the way non-hugger, hugged him and wished him a Merry Christmas.  He said "Now you can buy more things, put that discount to use!"  I  told him that we were waiting  for the arrival of my grand-nephew and he smiled.

Now, everything is wrapped, cards are sent, everything that is going to be bought/ordered has been, I dare to say that I'm ready.  So much work in just a few days.  Whew.  And it snowed yesterday and today.  Not a lot, but enough to make everything pretty.

Merry Christmas, Everyone.  I hope Santa brings you what you've wished for.  If not, there's always next year.  :)




02 December 2015

Let's Play Best Part/Worst Part

Whoa, where did November go?  I blinked and it's December.

My dream job was momentarily my nightmare job but now it's back in a more realistic category.  I still very much enjoy it, there was just a really steep learning curve (hill, more accurate perhaps) and a bigger than anticipated mess to deal with.  But I've conquered most of it and now am finding my new normal.

And then, because deadlines are fun!  We had our annual vacation at the end of the month.

So, let's talk about the trip.

Best part: hanging out with all of our friends in Vegas.  This year included one of our friend's mom, who is in her seventies.  She was so much fun, her son clearly got his sense of humor from him.  Because we didn't race this season, we also didn't get to hang out with our friends as much.  So this was a much needed time.

Worst part: the brother-in-law's untreated anxiety made me quite stabby by the end of the trip. One example of many examples of anxiety included shouting "turn left!" over the two people (other than the driver) who knew where they were going, resulting in a wrong turn.  From the back seat. With no apology.

Best/Worst part tie: I caught a nasty cold on the second-to-last night there.  I spent the last full day in the hotel room with a cough, fever, and stuffed up head.  I guess it could be worse, at least I was in a nice hotel room with a view of the Strip.  (fast forward one week & one day later: still have the cold) I watched We Are The Millers, Life as We Know It, and HGTV all day so it could have been worse.

Worst/Worst Part: the Starbucks was under construction in our hotel.  I had two $30 gift cards to use this year and now I still do.  On the last full day there, another guest told me where a regular Starbucks was and I could  see it from our room.  Sigh.

Best Part in the Worst Possible Way:  In the airport while we were waiting to return home, our friend Mike asked if I really had a cold or if it was the environment.  I croaked out "Nope, it's a cold."  

"I was just curious because I'm all stuffed up.  I hope I don't have your cold."

Without thinking at all, I reply:  "I keep telling you to stop licking me."

I think the entire airport went silent for about the beat of three.  Then all of our friends laughed long and loudly.

Oh, filter, you're so easily thwarted.  At least it gave them a good story to tell.


05 November 2015

Meet-Cute

This morning I stopped and got coffee at my 2nd favorite stand near my work.  It's located downtown and across the street from the YMCA so you sometimes see characters that you don't normally see. The baristas are always super nice, like one would expect, but they sometimes have some sketchy customers so they are aware of their surroundings.

While I was waiting for my drink, I noticed a guy approach the car waiting on the other side of the stand.  It was a cute, little, just post-college age girl who looked like she was heading to work.  (I have very active imagination, in case you haven't noticed)

He was a typical Bellingham appearing guy, which means nothing to those of you who have never been here but picture a snowboarder in your mind.  That's what he looked like, so not sketchy but definitely free-spirited.

It's odd that someone would approach a car in a drive-through so I just kind of surreptitiously paid attention.  It felt a little flirty, actually.  She answered him, smiling, then got out of her car and walked behind it.  This made me a little nervous but there were plenty of people around, in case my intuition was wrong and he was a serial killer.  (Ted Bundy lived in Bellingham for a while, so you never know, right?)

Soon, she returned to her car and the barista asked her if everything was okay.  She kind of giggled then answered that he just tapped her car bumper and wanted to let her know.  She was completely unconcerned about it but I noticed that she got her information out of her purse.

The barista gave me the credit card slip to sign and commented on it.  I said that it felt like a meet-cute type of situation.  She giggled and said "Maybe so, we'll watch and see."  I mean, it is a little drastic and risky but also kind of clever.  I peeked around the corner when I left and his car was a nice one, so it didn't seem like someone trying to scam insurance money.

Now I'm imagining that they've exchanged information and maybe they'll need to meet somewhere for something insurance or repair related.  Then they'll have a great meet-cute story to tell everyone.