26 July 2016

This has GOT to be a Reality Show, right?

This might seem strange but we (Kevin and I) didn't know that our niece is a hoarder.  We have only been to her house once because family functions are always up at our houses.

Well, she and her family bought a new house last month. The plan was to move closer to our family, but due to finances and impulsivity, they bought a house 45 minutes away from us.  Super.

It is very rural and up a wooded, steep, and rocky driveway.  The main road is prone to flooding every winter and is notoriously dangerous. We are not excited about their choice.  It's as if there are flashing "DANGER!" signs everywhere and they're blind.

This being said, almost thirty-years ago we moved 25 minutes away from the family when we bought our house.  It was also in a rural environment.  BUT, we are self-sufficient and prepared.  One of THEIR first questions was about internet service providers.  Yea, priorities!

We know that housekeeping isn't even on the top 10 of our niece's list. We have noticed in social media photos that there is clutter in the background. Unfortunately, she was raised in mess so we thought it is just her perpetuating the lifestyle in which she was raised.

She bragged on social media for a month prior to moving about packing and in the last week prior to the move, repeatedly stating that she was all packed.  Now, don't we all feel silly for believing her.  To be fair, and in reality, everyone's definition of being "all packed" is very different.  Moving is never easy or fun for anyone involved.

But she's a stay-at-home mom of a teenager.  Her mother-in-law lives with them.  She's married.  She has the aforementioned teen.  It was beyond our reality that she wouldn't be completely packed.

Wooo boy, we were ten kinds of wrong.

This is where I clarify.  I'm fully aware that I use my OCD for mostly good.  I'm able to keep the house I have because I work part-time and Kevin is wired very similarly.  I by no means judge people by the issues that I have.

This was a legit hoarder house.  This was not "We're moving and I haven't had time to sweep."  This wasn't "We've been gone so I haven't had time to do dishes or laundry."  This was straight-up, no joke, a hoarder house. I don't know that a broom, mop, or vacuum could even be found in the house, let alone used.

I was so overwhelmed that I walked back outside.  I.Could.Not.Even.For.A.Minute.

What a person could see of the floor was filthy with dirt, pine needles and pet hair.  Every surface had something on it, actually multiple somethings.  Dust, clutter, garbage.  There was not a clear space in the entirety of the house.  A person couldn't tell what was furniture versus boxes or garbage. 

After being raised by smokers and temporarily married to one, my lungs no longer have tolerance for any kind of poor air quality.  I couldn't stay inside, I'd actually feel my respiratory system begin to tighten.

So, it was with abject horror that the family had decided it was perfectly fine that Kevin's mom was sitting in the middle of all of it AND without her oxygen.  I actually said aloud "Well, I guess we'll find time to visit her in the hospital."

AND THEN, Nephew, wife and kids arrived.  I didn't realize it until I spotted the baby in his car seat next to the mom.  I walked out to the wife and "hugged" her while whispering in her ear "Get.That.Baby.Out.of.That.House.RIGHT.NOW."

They, also, hadn't really been inside the house.  And they live literally one minute away.
She went inside, saw the state of things, and poor sweet baby was banished to the middle of an empty garage floor.  (still in his car seat.  And perfectly happy because Best Baby Ever, don't make me fight you.)

You know when something bad happens and your brain self-protects by kind of fuzzing your vision and deafening your ears? (please say yes)  This is how I existed for the next hour or so.  I had to stop looking directly at anything.

There was just a path through the living room into the dining area then into the kitchen.   Again, I can't state this enough: it wasn't moving mess.  It wasn't It's Messy Because We're Busy and I Don't Have Time to Clean mess.  It was...ugh, I just don't even have the words to describe.  AND I'm A WRITER.

There was a half-eaten pizza, at least a day old, on the table.  I don't even think it was in a box or on a plate.  Did I mention they have cats and a dog?  Yeah.   There were dirty dishes everywhere in the kitchen, dining room, end tables, mantel. I was there for a full hour before I realized there was a tank on the mantel.  Fish? Reptile? Empty?  We'll never know. The kitchen was labelled as "All packed".  Except, NO.  There were still full cupboards. Everything was sticky.  If it wasn't sticky, then it was damp.

There were boxes upon boxes, some sealed and some open.  They were old boxes, with debris on top of them to show that they had  been sitting there for a lengthy period of time.  They lived there about two years so we're wondering if they never unpacked, just brought in more "stuff."

I didn't make eye contact with the bathroom, I just couldn't bear it.  I went to help their son empty out his room.  Although he was more packed than any other place/person, everything was still covered in a sheen of sticky, dusty, hairy residue.  Finally, I just went outside and told Kevin that I just couldn't anymore. 

We took two big trucks with trailers full of stuff to the new house and it was like they hadn't packed one box.  You couldn't tell a difference.  Yet, the new house was full and they still had truckloads to move.  The kid's plan was to move the furniture next in a box truck.  We waited until it arrived and helped empty a freezer, a dining set, a single bed and a bunch of crap.  We had to move the crap we just moved in to make room for the crap in the box truck and there was still a house full of crap left behind.

It felt like the Twilight Zone.  I kept waiting for the punchline.  Or the real plan.  Or the Hoarders television people to drive up.  Something.  Finally, it was like a switch was flipped.  Kevin came and got me "We're DONE" and we left. 

Oh, wait.  I forgot to tell you.  There was no toilet paper at the new house.  No soap.  Thank sweet baby jesus that my sister-in-law has everything and there was kleenex in her purse.  Also, I "won" a bet because I mentioned to Kevin that I felt like I should take a roll of toilet paper, just in case.  

My sister-in-law spent two full days afterward helping her pack and move the rest of it.  They had to rent the box truck AGAIN.  I'm certain that their rental deposit is a distant memory and I can't imagine how pissed the landlord must be.  It had to look like one of the Before Houses in the flipping houses television shows. 

Fast forward two weeks, the niece gets a great idea and videos the interior of the entire house then puts it on the facebook.  Curious, I clicked on it.  Upon the opening frame, I shouted "JESUS CHRIST!", much to Kevin's surprise and dismay.  I immediately regretted my choices.

"What happened?"

"Go on your page and look at the video she just posted."

"Why?"

"Just do it. I can't even.  She posted a video of the house like it's a NORMAL THING to live like that."

The new house, freshly cleaned, painted, and carpeted, was completely lost in crap.  Again, a person couldn't see the furniture or the floor.  Not the couch, not the dining table, the beds, the floor, the kitchen.  It was awash in boxes and mess.

This brand new to them house looked exactly like the house they just left, only bigger.  And she posted it on social media.  Including commentary like "There's the big tub, I haven't cleaned it since I gave the dog a bath last weekend."

TWO WEEKS.   They have been in the house TWO WEEKS.

Now they're having a barbecue in two weeks.  Kevin is working and I'm trying to figure out how to get out of it.  I just can't conceive of eating a single piece of food knowing how they live, that everything was filthy in the old house and it was just brought into the new house.

And I just can't take the thought/worry that they now own it and it is going to be utterly destroyed in a few years.  At least before, they had a landlord who would come do repairs or replace appliances.  I just can't think about it.

I mean, people get through their lives.  They make horrible choices, repeatedly, and they get through their lives.  I just have to assume that it will be fine.

Now, I can cross off "See a legitimate hoarder house" off my life list.




21 July 2016

Three Things

I whole-heartedly believe that things come in threes.  I've seen it happen too many times for it to be a coincidence.  So, it was a little surprising yesterday when I was caught a little by surprise.

The other day, our faucet sprung a leak.  Not one where you imagine, but on top of the actual faucet.  The metal had developed a pin-hole leak.  I blamed it on the water diffuser first but finally realized that it was the faucet.

So, no big deal.  I planned on going to Home Depot anyway.  Kevin worked on Saturday so the puppy and I slept in.  As I was getting ready, the hairdryer decided not so much on the working thing.  Still, I didn't think much of it other than now I had to stop at a different store.

I took the puppy to get treats at the mocha stand, loaded up the truck with recyclables, and headed off for a quick trip into town.  I didn't need groceries so I thought certainly I would be gone for a little over an hour.

Until I stopped at the recycling center (The sign says "Recycling Park", which made me laugh...nothing says park like junk and the lovely Eau de Dump)  During the second unloading of stuff, I spotted my truck leaking water.  Sh*t.  I ducked underneath and confirmed green water.  Radiator?  Hose?  Doesn't matter, really, I'm twenty minutes from home.

I unloaded the rest then drove the truck down the road a bit to a little, actual park.  Now the truck was having all kinds of water action.  I phoned Kevin at work (his favorite) and he phoned his dad to come retrieve me.

We decided to get my truck home, not stressful at all.  I'm watching the gauge and listening for any weird noises, stopped every 10 miles, and it was not a relaxing drive at all.  But I made it back home.

Kevin got home from work, put a tester on the engine, called our friend who is a genius mechanic, and next thing I know, I'm driving it AGAIN.  This time even further.  Super fun.

I realised as I was pulling into our friends shop that I shouldn't be surprised.  First, the faucet, then the hair dryer, and then the truck.  Theoretically, I can now relax.  Please, Law of Threes, be kind and true.

Oh, and then, our friend phoned and said Thank God that my pump went out because the timing belt was about to go.  This is a life saver as a broken timing belt would mean brand new engine/truck.  Technically, the universe looked out for me.

Vacation Slide Show...2016 Style

So, well, ummm, how's your summer going?  The only way I could think of to describe my summer was to screenshot the photo album on my phone.  The above represents about two weeks of our life.

We moved my niece and nephew into their first home.  There is A LOT to this story so that's all I have to say about that.

It's the Dog Days of Summer here, finally.

I fell down the stairs, again.

Sweet Baby is almost six months old and the best baby ever.

There was nationwide controversy in my hometown over a "miscommunication" about the welcomeness of police officers.

Our friend was caught being a creeper during a newscast about said miscommunication.  (he's in the orange Camaro in the television photo)

My 4Runner blew a water pump but saved us thousands of dollars in the long run so...that's good?

My faucet also broken down but now I have a cool new one that I love.

We had dinner with friends who live far away from us.  He's a Master Carpenter so he had opinions about the DIY television shows.  And we found out he's diehard Baptist.  Everyone discusses theology in Red Robin, right?

The grocery cart shot is because Kevin eats like a six-year-old if allowed.  He asked for Chicken in a Bisquit crackers, which I think are SO GROSS.

And, as you can see, I take way too many photos of the dog and it's obvious that we don't have children.

How's your summer going?

(Oh, I'm fine, by the way.  I'll tell the falling down the stairs story next)

18 June 2016

Focus on the Beauty

A teenaged friend put out a query on the Facebook today: "Drop the names of your favorite poems."

I immediately thought of The Day is Done by Longfellow. I first read it in high school and loved it. I am the type of nerd who wishes I still had that high school English teacher textbook.

Then I remembered Desiderata. I had a plaque with this poem in two of my offices and I think I need to find it again.

After an ugly, emotional week we have all had, here is a little peace and beauty.

The Day is Done - Longfellow

The day is done, and the darkness 
      Falls from the wings of Night, 
As a feather is wafted downward 
      From an eagle in his flight. 

I see the lights of the village 
      Gleam through the rain and the mist, 
And a feeling of sadness comes o'er me 
      That my soul cannot resist: 

A feeling of sadness and longing, 
      That is not akin to pain, 
And resembles sorrow only 
      As the mist resembles the rain. 

Come, read to me some poem, 
      Some simple and heartfelt lay, 
That shall soothe this restless feeling, 
      And banish the thoughts of day. 

Not from the grand old masters, 
      Not from the bards sublime, 
Whose distant footsteps echo 
      Through the corridors of Time. 

For, like strains of martial music, 
      Their mighty thoughts suggest 
Life's endless toil and endeavor; 
      And to-night I long for rest. 

Read from some humbler poet, 
      Whose songs gushed from his heart, 
As showers from the clouds of summer, 
      Or tears from the eyelids start; 

Who, through long days of labor, 
      And nights devoid of ease, 
Still heard in his soul the music 
      Of wonderful melodies. 

Such songs have power to quiet 
      The restless pulse of care, 
And come like the benediction 
      That follows after prayer. 

Then read from the treasured volume 
      The poem of thy choice, 
And lend to the rhyme of the poet 
      The beauty of thy voice. 

And the night shall be filled with music, 
      And the cares, that infest the day, 
Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs, 
      And as silently steal away. 








15 June 2016

A Glimpse of Silver

I have been blonde a large portion of my life.  I am also the only blonde in my family; everyone else has dark brown/nearly black hair.  When I was in my thirties, my hair started to turn brown. I did not accept this gracefully.

I am not a vain person but I just couldn't bear having brown hair.  It just felt foreign and weird. It didn't feel like me and my skin coloring wouldn't support it.  I just looked wan and tired. So I began coloring my hair in varying shades of blonde.  Right now, it is dishwater blonde but it's been as light as what I call "stripper blonde" and even tried a reddish blonde.

In the past ten-ish years, I've said that I'd rather my hair just turn straight to white.  It doesn't feel like that big of a request from my DNA but apparently it is.  When I was really young, there was a woman in the grocery store whom we frequently saw.  She had long, to her waist, white hair and I loved it.  I distinctly remember my mom Not liking it and I didn't understand why.  Still don't, actually.

So, to my delight, I noticed the other day a few strands of white hair in my bangs. Not gray, but white! The pretty kind!  Hooray!

Wait, what?  "Hooray"? you ask.  I acknowledge that it is strange.  I'm rarely categorized as normal.

I will be fifty in three years, so it's not like this is happening early in life.  Kevin was going grey in his twenties and it's always suited him.  So I have nothing but positive vibes when it comes to grey hair.

Kind of like wrinkles, I see them as a sign of accomplishment.  Yea, You!  You've made it long enough to have wrinkles and grey hair!  Go, you!

On television now, it is not uncommon for women to be shown with snowy white hair.  I'm always wistfully jealous when I see them.  And now the youngin's are dyeing their hair silver and purple, completely erasing any generational coloring.

It's a strange accomplishment but I'm pleased.  And weird, I totally accept that.

13 June 2016

Yet Here I Am

Filed in the "Be Careful What You Wish For" file is my job.

This time last year, I was hired for what I thought was my dream job.  It was part-time, it was easy, and most importantly, it was an organization that I had wanted to work for forever.

For awhile, it continued to be my dream job. Then there was a major change, I took on more hours and many more responsibilities.  The work was beyond my skill-set and the learning curve was more of a hill. I persevered though.

I mean, really, there isn't such thing as the perfect job.  There are always going to be personality conflicts, tasks that you don't enjoy, or just the fact that working is rarely high on anyone's list of A Few of My Favorite Things.

Actually, let's pause a second.  I have to say that I adore my coworkers.  ADORE.  They are a great group and I feel lucky and blessed every single day.  Of course, it's not all perfection because: humans.  But as a group, I couldn't ask for anything more.

So, Surely, what is your problem? you ask.

I work for someone who clearly is in the early stages of dementia.  Whatever the cause or level, she is unable to sustain a thought for longer than a few hours.  Items are constantly lost, appointments forgotten, and just general befuddledness is the soup of the day.

Now, if you've been a dear reader for very long, you're aware that I'm painfully aware of dementia.  Kevin's mom has had it for a few years.  I think that's why I incorrectly and perhaps arrogantly thought that this would resolve itself eventually.

But here's the fun thing about dementia.  They don't know they have it and they will argue to the death about it.  On the same level, they DO know something is wrong but they can't pinpoint what exactly it might be.  But as much as you know you're eyes are blue, they deny that they are failing and believe that just as strongly that they're fine as you do about your eye color.

Now, a person might be thinking "Well, just go to work, do your job, and get out because there are so many other positive factors."  Until I tell you that we, unfortunately, share an office.  There is no head down, do your job, and get out option on this menu.  And, working with someone who is forgetful is a specific kind of crazy-making. A person begins to doubt themselves; as in second-guessing.  "I sent that right?"  "I said that, right?"  "I did that, right?  Twice, even."

I have managed a few work-arounds.  I start earlier, which I don't hate but it's not my favorite.  I wear headphones but that isn't always a reasonable solution.  I share frustrations with a coworker so they don't escalate into something worse. I try to have important conversations with another person involved in addition to Suzy Forgetful.  I email everything that I possibly can.

But the days are still challenging.

I subscribe to the belief that everyone has a boss.  Everyone. It's usually my go-to card when I bump into issues with things like poor customer service.  In this case, there is a board and I have spoken to the board.  They promise they are working on it and a change is to come.  But, it is progressing so slowly that I am losing faith.  How long does one wait for something like this to resolve? I told myself that I wouldn't do this again, yet here I am.

Another big piece of the puzzle is this:  I just left a job two years ago because someone had gone crazy pants.  Telling a donor she might have cancer from pretend mold in her office, running the organization into financial ruin while ordering room service, pretending to not know how to celebrate holidays, crazy pants.

I'm feeling culpable at this point. Is it me?  Do I take jobs where only people with issues work?  Do I create these issues?  Is it my job in life to fix these kinds of situations?  I would like to politely and emphatically decline all of these options.

There really isn't a point to this post.  I'm not unlike every other working person in the world, I'm not special.  But I am frustrated, and disappointed, and really trying to get creative in my coping skills. And once again being reminded that there is no such thing as a perfect anything.  Especially and specifically a job.

01 June 2016

Three Swears

Hello Poppets!  I will discuss the absence in a later post, no worries.  All is well, just a lot of stuff in the way of sitting down to write.

So, the Little's birthday was this weekend.  As every year, we got together to throw a party in their honor.  Every year I just love them so much more.  They are TEN now and we are starting to see glimpses of who they are to become.  One is going to be an engineer, one can't decide, and one says she thinks maybe she wants to do a million things and doesn't understand why she has to choose just one. Which, upon further thought, she's right.  Why do we have to be just one thing?

But back up a tiny bit, on the morning of the party I woke up from a dream that is still making me laugh.

The dream wasn't about the Littles, it was about their older brother.  He is going to be our lawyer in the family.  He is never wrong, he is Mr. Last Word, he is really clever.

In the dream, we were having a family dinner, like we do, and Eric (not his real name) sat down at the dinner table and dropped the Eff Bomb in frustration.  The family was all "Oh, hey, wait, what?!?"  Eric said "No, it's okay that I said that." (which is SO in the realm of possibilities in real life)

His mom came over and asked him "Eric, did you say three swears before you said Eff?"

Eric then explains that he did, with animated hand gestures and complaints about his many siblings who were making him frustrated.  "I said three swears and then I said that.  It's the rule!!"

His mom then wisely nods and tells the adults "No, it's cool.  That's the rule, he gets three swears and then the Eff Bomb is okay."

Then I woke up, laughing.  Because it's totally viable for this particular child to have that rule and to follow it appropriately.  His mom isn't quite that chill but it's also not completely out of the realm of possibility.

Of course, I shared the dream with the family members at the party.  I suspect that it is going to become a running joke any time someone curses.  In this family, we are going to need a tally system of some sort.

And really, it's not a bad policy.

30 May 2016

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.