01 August 2021

Pandemic Whack A Mole - Raising Parents Edition

Washington state just reinstated indoor masking, as did part of the lower mainland in British Columbia.  It doesn't bother me, because frankly: I have become attached to my masks. They have become a bit of a binky for me. Also, it was still required at my work when I went into the office so I never truly let go of it.  I don't mind the requirement at all, I just wish they would have left it in place month(s) ago.  And that it was country-wide but 'Merica.

I've mentioned before that my bio family are mostly anti-vaxxers.  This equally does not surprise me and frustrates me.  I won't go on a rant about it; because I could FOR DAYS.   I will summarize instead: I'm puzzled by the arrogance of "knowing" more than all of the scientists worldwide. 

So, of course, there is an upcoming birthday celebration at my mother's house.  Not only do I not want to go because I'm enjoying my mental health, I don't want to go because I don't want to carry something home and kill Kevin's parents.  I know, I'm super selfish.

I've been mulling how to decline yet another invitation.  Add to it that Kevin wondered how much of my hesitation was simply that I didn't want to see my family.  Ummm, yeah.

Then it occurred to me: I have a doctor.  An actual medical specialist at my disposal.  I felt a little dumb when I realized it, all I have to do is send an email and ask for guidance.  How did I not think of that before?  

So I did yesterday.  I presented the situation as best as I could, stating the family structure here and our vaccination status.  Then I explained that bio family are anti-vaxxers and what shall I do with this invitation.

Honestly I thought that I would get a "Meh, pay attention but go ahead and go."  That is not exactly what I got.  I'm going to post it here so you can make your own determination:

RE: Non-Urgent Medical Question

I appreciate how careful you are trying to be with the Covid epidemic! I am particularly concerned with the delta variant and the increasing cases in the County.
I am so glad that you, your husband, and your parents are vaccinated.
Of course, the safest thing would be to decline the invitation.
That being said, if you are vaccinated, I think that a reasonable option would be to attend the party if you wear a mask and if the party is outside.
Even though the vaccine is highly effective, there are breakthrough cases. I would be concerned about a breakthrough case that you could spread to your parents. I do think spending time outdoors and masked would be very safe and unlikely to cause a problem, given the multiple layers of protection (vaccine, outside, masking).
I am not sure that I would go to an indoor party.

Okay, well then.  I'm glad I asked because I felt vindicated in my hesitancy. I was also a little surprised at the whole Not to an Indoor Party part.  This was written prior to the reinstatement of the mask mandate.  And yet, I really shouldn't have been surprised.

I phoned my niece and explained what the doctor said and all's well that ends well.  Apparently my mother had expressed hesitation and the niece was changing the location and size of the party.  

So, I thought we were finished with this topic.

Kevin came in a little while ago, quiet.  Finally he just states that "Mom is going to the casino tonight."

Because my brain isn't booted up fully yet, I just flatly said "Okay."  Meaning I'm exhausted with this reckless nonsense.  Kevin took it as approval at first and expressed surprise.  Then my synapses started to reconnect and I clarified: "Of course she is.  It was nice knowing her."  

The casino is not a good idea for her BEFORE THE PANDEMIC.  It's too overwhelming, smoky, populated, etc.  But sure, go when there's a pandemic resurgence.  

In case you wonder "What harm can come of it?"  Here's the summary of her fragile medical health: COPD, multiple strokes, Peripheral Arterial Disease, Vascular Dementia, GI feeding tube.

Then add into she can carry it into her home, where her stroke victim with AFIB and a pacemaker, and with atrophied heart disease, husband lives.

So then I was trying to work it through my brain.  I remembered listening to Atul Gawande on a podcast talk about end of life with elderly people.  His example was a woman who would sneak cookies that she wasn't supposed to have.  She kept getting into "trouble" at the care facility.  His point was "She's old, she's at the end of her life, if she chooses to die by choking on a cookie and She's Happy Eating The Cookie, then let her do it."

Well, then there's that, I guess.  It doesn't matter that it's such an unbelievably reckless thing to do.  If she's fine with exposure to herself and to her husband, then I guess that's her consequence.  

However, it's not a consequence that she understands.  She fully believes that she is fine to do these things pre-pandemic; let alone now in the middle of one. So add the incapacity to make a reasonable decision into the mix.  It's not lack of knowledge because CNN is on their television all.the.time.  It's the Raising Parents thing again where they behave as if teenagers and there's nothing you can do about it.

In the meanwhile, I'm not going into the parent's house for the next 7-10 days.  I don't know what Kevin decided about that, he was considering it the last we talked about it.  We're going to assume she'll/they'll be fine but I'm keeping myself safe in the meanwhile.  It's all I can do.

It's stupid stuff like this that is keeping us in this purgatory.  To quote the interwebs: We Didn't Just Spend 18 months in Quarantine to Do This All Over Again

25 July 2021

Shades of Grey - What Did Surely Take Apart Now?

This is Version Number Whatever of this post as it's taken a while to complete.  Regardless, the first line remains accurate:

As I'm writing this, I'm looking at a mostly painted office.  I know, I know, I said I wasn't going to paint the office and then I....like....did.  There is still one more wall to finish and the joint between the wall and ceiling where I can't reach.  This is Kevin's favorite part...not really.  It's his fault really, he married a short person with impulse control issues.

There is giant furniture in this room, some of which are bolted to the wall because earthquakes are a thing. So this project was Difficulty Level Eleventy Million.  Also, there are tens of photos of racecar and racecar related things.  I had to do the same thing I did when I painted the photo wall: take a photo so I knew how to put everything back.  I'm taking today (now three days) off because by the time I finished yesterday I was ready to burn down the house.  Well, and I ran out of paint.  

This project disabused any thought in my alphabet brain that I want to refinish my desk.  It weighs well over 100 pounds and measures 6-foot, 4-inch by 38.73 inches.  It's an immovable single-size bed.   I haphazardly painted around it because I could only move it slightly away from the wall.  So it seems unlikely that I will refinish it.  Narrator: "She's absolutely going to refinish the desk."  Narrator #2: "She bought stain and supplies yesterday."

I chose a grey color because that was what the internet said was a good color for an office. I was hesitant and I thought I'd chosen a silvery white.  I did not.  It took painting most of the wall before the panic of having made a horrible mistake passed.  (the first stage of painting grief)  Fortunately, it's the shade of grey that changes color with the light.  It looks silvery white, grey, and sage as the day passes. So, I guess that's a win.

Most of the photo frames are black.  Except five of them.  Now they have to be switched out, because alphabet brain is constantly pointing out that they're different.  Kevin just mentioned that he would paint them black for me because apparently I'm not to be trusted with spray paint.  

What started this whole thing, you might be asking.  Well...

This house is a two-bedroom cottage so I'm puzzled why there are two closets for one bedroom. (aka: the office)  One is nearly big enough to be a walk-in closet and the other is slightly larger than standard size.  My guess is the main bathroom created a deadspace so they made it into a closet.  But that's just a guess.

Anyway.   There are two closets.  Tap dancing jesus, I can't stay on topic.

One is the "racecar closet" where we keep parts boxes, actual tires, and all the stuff we need for the racecar that can't be stored in the shop, car, or trailer during the off-season because we live in the beautiful PNW where it's always damp.  (firesuit, helmet, parachute)  

Luckily for me I like the smell of new tires, because it also has a shelf of extra bedding.  It's the extra blanket for our bed during the winter, a quilt to use outside, our wedding quilt that doesn't match anything, (hello 1993) and the comforter that we use when "camping".  And pillows.  It's like sleeping at Les Schwab or Discount Tire, depending where you are from.

The other piece of this puzzle is that Kevin sold the racecar engine, creating the need for culling nearly all of the boxes in the closet.  Right this second, there are not tires stored in there either.  So it's nearly empty. Yes, I am thinking about the nap closet idea.  But it will be full again in a few days/weeks.

Then there's Monica's Closet.  As always, it has been allowed to be a bit of a mess. An archaeological shit*tshow, if you will.  I will say that it's better than it's ever been in the past but it's time to delve back into it and get it better organized.

But here's the problem(s):  There are some things that made it into the racecar closet that aren't necessarily racecar. Kevin bought moving blankets for projects out in the shop.  They are a pain to fold and store. (so heavy!) Also, there is a smallish box of extra flooring, and a large suitcase.  By some mystery of Tetris, I've managed to fold the blankets as small as possible, put one suitcase into another, and slide the flooring box to the back of the closet.  

Meanwhile, back to Monica's Closet.  I've pulled out the unfinished photo album project and put it into the living room.  If I put it out there it will bother me and I'll finish it.  UPDATE: this did not work and they are all back in Monica's Closet. There is also a box leftover from the nostalgia box project with scrapbook stuff.  I believe that will languish in that box for another little decade while.  #SorryNotSorryHeirs  

I have a big tote of wrapping stuff. Gift bags, gift boxes, tissue paper, bows, ribbon, greeting cards. It's a little like the hallmark store clearance rack fell over into this tote.  Also, I hoard envelopes.  It's a habit from back in my school admin days.  I would bring them in for the kids to use. (handy tip: extra envelopes, old greeting cards, and junk mail are great to give kids.) 

It took about thirty minutes to sort through and consolidate/discard.  Someone at the second-hand store is going to get a treasure bag of greeting card and envelopes randomness.  Then I gathered all the giftbags together to go with them. The Cindy Spelling Starter Kit, if you will. The odds of me using any of this are so slim now; we are just not in that life stage.  I will keep the tissue paper because it feels like I never have it when I need it. (those feelings are lying, mind you. I have plenty)  Yet, that tote remains full. #goodeffort  

Today Kevin promised to help me finish in here.  It's 1:00 in the afternoon and I've reminded him once.  My guess is he will wait until the end of the day when I can't care anymore.  But I really want this project finished so I can focus when it's time to actually work tomorrow.  I think I will do the trick that motivates him every.single.time:  I Will Do It Myself.

Summing up: Office that I said I'd never paint is 75% finished.  Desk that I said I wouldn't refinish is still in the Maybe category.  One closet has been emptied and nearly refilled and Monica's Closet remains the adorable sh*t show it will always be. Actually, it's better, it just never Feels that way.

Oh, and related side story: the other day I went to get more paint.  Usually I have a photo of the paint label in my phone. (#nerd) Did I?  Nope.  Okay, no worries, because I have an account there.  Did that paint code get entered onto my account? that would also be nope.  Instead of doing the mature and reasonable thing of waiting to get the correct paint code, I just chose the color I thought it was.  Now wait, there is logic. Sorta.  See also: short person with impulse control issues.

The remaining wall is the biggest/tallest wall.  However, it is covered by a giant bookcase and has a door and is partially blocked by another door.  So it was a big Whatevs if the paint doesn't match perfectly.  What did matter is that I didn't know if I had enough remaining paint to do the edges on the walls with the original color.  It was a fun lottery to play.

Update: it's totally fine.  I think you might notice because I told you but anyone who doesn't follow this silliness would notice.  The difference in shades is the new one has a hint of blue so it's slightly lighter.

Also, my plan did work: Kevin spent an hour - on the phone for most of it - painting where I couldn't reach.  After decades together, one figures out how to get cooperation.  Now I've asked him to just leave me be for a few minutes so I can finish this and one other thing.  "I don't need you" he says jokingly.  SIX MINUTES LATER he sheepishly comes into the office needing help.    

Now that everything is put back together, I've organized my workstation after haphazardly throwing it together 1.5 years ago, and it looks SO NICE in here, I'm betting that the Universe will intervene and I will have to return to my work office in the fall.  

But that would make it easier to refinish my desk....

17 July 2021

This Is Not The Fun Part

 Sometimes it's like herding cats.  That is what life feels like right now.

We are doing a new build on the racecar. (I promise this isn't all racecar)

In order to do this big project, everything engine related went for sale.  This creates an endless series of phone calls, texts, paypal transactions, two separate trips to the bank, and paperwork.  Oh, and shipping. I hate shipping.

Then once that is completed, or sometimes during the process, ordering new stuff begins.  This brings another round of phone calls, texts, email bids, paypal transactions, bank transfers and omg paperwork. Tracking numbers.  More tracking numbers.  Updates to tracking numbers. More emails. Receipts.

Somewhere in there: a new laptop was purchased because the old one wasn't up for the task.  I admit, that part was fun.

AND THEN, the stuff begins to arrive.

If you think Surely is OCD, let me introduce you to Kevin.  In this case, he's using his powers for good but again: OMG.  

There are the originals - receipts, manuals, instructions, warranties.  Then there are copies.  Some things we laminate because of high-usage.  This project has made me scan everything into the cloud as well.

There is a specific binder for all the master documents that is kept in the house and another binder in the shop.  (if he asks for one for the car trailer, it was nice knowing you all)

This is the point we are right now.  I've copied, scanned, laminated all.the.things.  And there are FOUR MORE SHIPMENTS to arrive where I get to do it all again. #goodthingIworkfromhome

(this is #firstworldproblems and Yes, I am whining)

Finally, because we are working with a new engine builder, there is the marketing part.  I'm teaching Kevin to use email and making sure his email is set-up with signatures, etc.  He's done well but try teaching that stuff over the phone while he's running heavy equipment.  I need a Certificate of Proficiency.

The builder sent us a truckload of swag, which is super fun but what do we do with a six foot by three foot banner?  Well, this what you do: you hang it behind the racecar, take photos then go onto social media to thank/promote them.  You email them directly to thank them.  

And Kevin hates that part. He thinks posting on social media is bragging and hates the attention.  Well, buddy, this is how we do things now.  Also, your FRIENDS enjoy seeing this stuff.  One of which has already phoned him in response.

My point, beyond whining, is that it's not just all fun with this level of racecar.  It's sometimes an actual job.  Earlier today Kevin mentioned that this was the fun part and I hesitated for a millisecond with an "ummmm" This is the fun part for HIM, I clarified.  

Right now, it's work for me.  When it's done and we're doing racecar stuff with our friends, then I will have forgotten all about this.  It will be fun then.  Not as much now.

Oh, and I forgot: taking all the packaging and boxes to recycling.  But not yet, because reasons.

13 July 2021

All That Glitters...is Expensive

 I wear a gold cross on a fine, gold chain.  It was the second gift Kevin ever gave me and that was clearly before I lost my faith.  Now I wear it more out of sentimentality than any intention.  

Funny Story, to me:  When I was an administrator at the school, I would often spend time in classrooms.  One day one of my favorite three-year-olds noticed my cross.  She was slow to learn to talk but she got this out clearly: "Why do you have  a airplane?"  

Wooboy, it took me a minute to respond.  It made me laugh so hard and now almost twenty years later, it still makes me laugh.  I much prefer her take on it.

Now skip ahead to when I had to take Lucy to the new vet.  He's an older gentleman, probably in his seventies.  It took us a few minutes to get each other but by the end of the appointment, we were good.  One of the last things he mentioned was "That's a beautiful necklace."  I said thanks and indicated it was an old gift.  He subtly mentioned something about the importance of it and I squelched saying "I lost my faith a long time ago" just in time.  Instead I said something non-committal.  He wasn't being precious about it at all, just acknowledged it's existence.  Then he returned to talking about Lucy.

Then a few days later, the chain came apart in my hands while I was working at my desk.  I'm thankful that it happened here at home and that I noticed.  While the assumed symbolism isn't a thing for me, the nostalgia of it would have devastated me.

So, I had a backup chain because this isn't the first time the chain has broken.  Usually it's me trying to disentangle my hair from the clasp.  And...it's broken too.  Because of course. #2021

To sound pretentious, my jeweler had been closed due to Covid.  Actually, they retired and the new owner was closed due to Covid.  They were also located in my old work city and I hadn't found a "local" jeweler yet.  How old am I, anyway?

Funny story #2, to me:  One of the most popular jewelers in my home town is owned by four girls that I went to high school with.  Four of the Popular Girls.   While two of the four have always been nice to me, the other two Not So Much.  Not bullies but just mean girls who felt they didn't belong in a small town and made themselves bigger than they were. (jokes on them)  Yeah.  They're not getting my business. It's not a grudge, it's a consequence. 

I went to the jeweler that fixed my long-lost watch two years ago. I went more based on I knew where it was and it was convenient than based on any planning.  It's run by an elderly couple and the actual jeweler is my age so this is not going to be a long-term relationship, I'm afraid.

And with that thought, while talking to the jeweler, I discovered that being a jewel-smith (is that a thing?) is becoming a lost art.  Most jewelry stores are franchises now; there are few privately owned shops anymore.  Later I did a online search and he was right: ignoring franchises, there are only ten jewelers in a three-county radius.  

Funny Story #3:  One of the other jewelers in my hometown was the "family" jeweler when I married satan.  We bought not only my wedding ring there, but our china AND crystal there also.  (yes, very old fashioned, Christian family traditions. See: lost faith)

Whew, this is the scenic route to the point of this bloggity.

I didn't research the replacement cost of the necklace because I assumed it could be repaired.  Yeah, it was so old and worn that repair wasn't an option.  One of the ways we learned this is that the chain was nineteen inches long. Necklace sizes only come in even numbers.  Let's hear it for me being diligent about care and repair of this chain.

Okay, so disappointing and but let's look at a replacement.


The first one I chose was $649.  It was nothing special, not particularly heavy or flashy.  Just a gold chain, similar to the original.  It would be $700 by the time I walked out of the door.

Now I have to graciously tell them that I'm not paying that much for a chain.  They were great about it, actually.  I expressed visible and audible surprise and told them that I had zero idea how expensive it was to replace. They absolutely understood.  I suspect they've heard that before.

Then they wondered if I had any old jewelry at home.  I could trade it in to put it toward the cost.  You see those advertisements all the time but I didn't ever give it any thought.  I knew that I did so I told them I would return.  You could almost see the skepticism so that made me say that I would return on a particular day.  (I'm a child, don't doubt that I'll do something because then I have to)

In my jewelry box is mostly childhood costume jewelry and some jewelry from my grandmas.  I knew I had at least one gold chain, a cheap gold bracelet that the links kept breaking, a pair of earrings that I never wore, a pendant that I never wore, and a ring that was a gift.  Oh and another ring that I had forgotten about from when I was married to satan.  It has zero sentiment to it so I threw it in the box too.

On the self-announced day, I returned with my little box of goodies.  I had no expectation for any of it, I was just happy to be recycling this stuff.  After about ten minutes, the jeweler returned and it was worth $170.  To be honest, I wasn't sure if I should have been disappointed or happy.  In the end, it really didn't matter to me.

But that was still not half of what I would need for a replacement.  This is where the jeweler - not the owners - took interest/pity and offered to research reasonable replacements.  I felt obligated now so he went to look at what was possible.

And....it was still $400.  Sheesh.  That's just a lot for jewelry.  Especially when I had just spent $cough on Lucy's vet bills.  Luckily, the $170 "trade-in" took it to nearly half the cost.  Then because Covid, they didn't have one in stock.  It was the display and another had to be made.  Of course.  

Then there was a deposit required and it wouldn't be ready for almost three weeks so then the overall cost didn't hurt that badly.  So...it feels like a win?

Now enter Kevin.  He's not a sentimental guy at all.  At All.  So he was a little Meh about this whole adventure.  When I told him what the final cost was, he actually sputtered a little.  Coughed.  "I can guarantee that I didn't spend that much on the original!"   I had to laugh because, dude seriously.  Like I didn't already know that.  And, settle down with the love talk, you're overwhelming me.

So, what I learned was that gold is Capital E Expensive. That's why all the rings are platinum now.  I learned that I need to go back and have my rings appraised.  Not that I'm dripping in rings but I have my wedding ring with the diamond, a small, plain band and Kevin's band on my left hand.  (it's a marquis cut so Kevin's ring stays on my finger) Plus three gold and sapphire rings on my right hand that I have had FOREVER, one of which is pre-Kevin.  And a Black Hills Gold ring from my mother-in-law.

Wait, there's story about that. Funny Story #4:  Firstly, I don't know why she gave me a ring. She just did. It's an odd thing to give to a daughter-in-law and a little extra odd that it had no sentimental value. It was a Christmas gift.  Nonetheless, it was too big but I wore it anyway and you can see where this is going.  I lost it.   I didn't say anything and just hoped that she didn't notice and/or it would reappear.  

Fast forward about nine months and it's the day before our old house is going to be torn down.  I was packing the kitchen, turned around, and in the middle of the floor was the ring.  I have zero idea where it came from.  It just reappeared. I had it resized and now I wear it.

Kevin thought it was a good idea to tell his mom the story because it is kind of wild that it just appeared the day before a house was being torn down.  I expressed displeasure because I didn't want her to know I lost it.  Jokes on me, she noticed a while ago.

And...I swear I'll be finished talking about this eventually. Back to the original thought:

I definitely could have gone to a franchise and bought something less expensive but I am a Shop Local human whenever I can.  Also, I could have shopped online or ordered something bespoke online for definitely less.  The issue with that is I can't SEE or FEEL it.   I can only guess. It's also on faith (unintentional pun) that what I receive is actually gold and not plated gold; which I would only know if I had it appraised.

Jewelry seems to be a case of you get what you pay for.  It's just not worth the risk of losing the pendant, or having to return the chain until I get what I want, or have it repaired and have to explain "I bought it online." I'd rather spend a little lot more and not have to worry about it.

It was difficult to take this photo without being all bewbies
Rare photo without glasses, because impatient.
And, I don't have purple hair.  I love snapchat filters.

08 July 2021

Happy Independence Day

Oh hai, made this post...didn't schedule it.  Super.

Early 1970's
Photo from Skagit Valley Herald
Fireworks by my dad and his friends


Late 1990's
Photo by Skagit Valley Herald
Fireworks by my family and me

Photo by me

02 July 2021

Books, Toys, and Naps

 Unless the powers-that-be say no for some unlikely reason, it looks like I will continue to work from home in the fall.  Or worse case: a hybrid schedule.  I'm relieved and a little nervous. Because that's much more responsibility than during the pandemic, as I would have a full caseload plus more. 

Meanwhile,  Kevin was really relieved; his anxiety likes having me safe at home AND available to the parents. Also, I've tried to People this last month and I believe I've gone feral.  I off-handedly dropped an  eff-bomb to my job partner in her office, which is located in an old church.  Well done, me.

Now I'm looking at my office through a workspace eye.  It's going to be my next big project.  Sshhh, don't tell Kevin.

I bought grey paint when I bought the orange paint.  It's more of a silvery-white, I think.  Of course, it's too hot to paint right now but I have it for when the mood strikes. I keep telling myself that I can just do one wall at a time but my brain is all "DO IT ALL OR NOTHING."  And yes, I said that I would never paint the office.  Don't listen to me, I don't know what I'm talking about most times.

Now I'm also considering refinishing my desk.  It is a capital "B" big project and I would have to take apart my entire work station. So that's daunting and will require some scheduling.  Yet, still want to do it. I will eventually run out of furniture to refinish.  Or so I keep saying.

So, because I can't do either of those things until this ungodly heat goes away, I'm looking at my bookshelves.  They're stuffed and unbalanced.  My to-be-read pile is ridiculous and my plan is to diminish it this summer. Plans, however, do not help in the moment.

I have a separate bookcase that holds paperbacks, oversized books, and some hardbacks.  I considered emptying both bookshelves and restocking them into some sort of order.  Right now, they're sorted by author, unread, and one random shelf of books from my childhood.  (liberated from nostalgia totes in Monica's Closet.) Plus one shelf that had racecar junk stored on it because I've been too lazy to deal with it.  It's a top shelf so under-utilized and out of my reach/eyeline; that's how that has been allowed to occur.  

In progress.  I don't know where my photography documentation skills have gone

Finished, mostly. For now. Probably.

What had happened was, I re-organized the big bookcase.  I stuck with the previous organization of grouped by author, non-fiction, and unread.  I might still sort by color within the author groups but we'll see. The alphabet brain is fickle.  I also decluttered tchotchkes that had gathered on the shelves.  Why, why, do I have so many bookmarks?

The smaller bookshelf needs refinishing. I know, I have issues. It was built by my dad when I was married the first time, I think.  He was a lot like my father-in-law where good enough is good enough.  Until then though, I removed books that I'll never read again and consolidated older paperbacks onto one shelf.  If I'm being honest, I would rather be rid of the small paperbacks but that would require replacing them with hardbacks and yep, that's where my brain spun out.  So, they're stacked on the bottom shelf for now.

The weirdly shaped cabinet was made by my father-in-law
I can't remember why it's weirdly shaped
It's full of Kevin's trucks and heavy equipment toys (some antique and some new)
It's existence is currently being debated

As a result of this shuffling, I looked at the bookshelf in the living room and the books on top of the weird cupboard in the hallway.  I relocated some books to "appropriate" shelves and culled even more books.  Those were books that I was "meh" about but kept anyway, books that I have and will probably never read.  (Why do I keep getting Jodi Picoult and Anne Tyler books. I'll never understand)  Inspirational stories that were popular years ago and a teen bible.  (long story about that one, it wasn't mine)

Surely I'll remember to look up there before ordering more books

Now there's a box of books in the laundry room, creating everyone's favorite thing: clutter.  This is the plan:

There is a little neighborhood library on the way to the park near-ish my house.  I have many books for it, too many to drop off all at once.  I just have to remember to take a stack each time we go and deliver them.   It's by the road, at the end of a long-ish driveway and it feels weird to pull into someone's driveway.   As I've mentioned before, I live rurally so pulling into someone's driveway feels sketchy but the existence of the library indicates the unlikelihood of being chased away.  At least in the city I used to work in, these little libraries were next to street parking. 

But I did it, and yes it felt weird but you can't see the house from the road so it felt less conspicuous.  And it's an adorable little library:

Now the fun part was peeking at the books to see if the readers have similar tastes as me.  I was fearing seeing cookbooks or religious or political books or something random.  Nope, there was Stephen King, Nora Roberts, Patricia Cornwall, sci-fi, and cute little self-help books.  Whew!  So I dropped off my little contribution and even snagged a book, based solely from the title:

That's progress but there's more to be made.  Kevin wondered about breaking down Lucy's crate because she refuses to sleep in it at night.  But while I'm working, she's all:

Yes, it's made like a people bed. Don't judge.
I'm trying to get her to sleep in it at night again.

In the Fall, I will need some flat, uncluttered workspace and her crate will provide it.  Thus the top shelf of the little bookcase with it's stuff  that used to be on her crate, instead of books.  Also, all my processes are supposed to be paperless so the little oak file cabinet that doesn't fit anywhere should be useless.  Especially if I ever finish the photo project.  (shush, I will. Eventually)


I'm going to pull everything out of Monica's Closet and the racecar closet when it's not Hades outside. (the office gets HOT, because it's never in the shade)  My goal is to consolidate as much as I can.  We are doing something different with the racecar since the border will be closed until at least Fall.  This results in most of what's stored in it gone.  

To accomplish this also means I have to finish both the photo albums and the nostalgia projects.  Sigh.  My goal is before school starts again.  So....next month.  Double sigh.

AND THEN, I read this on the social media and my brain started to whir.  

28 June 2021

It's a Snow Day

 If you watched or read the national news, you're aware that the beautiful Pacific Northwest is in the midst of a terrible heat wave.  It is supposed to subside, sorta, tonight but remain in the mid-80's until at least New Year's Eve.  Climate change is real, y'all.

Last night  when we went to bed at 10:00, it was 85 degrees.    The high temp yesterday was 109, the highest I've ever experienced.  I didn't leave the house until I went outside to water the garden for the first time in a few days because it's been too hot to merely step outside.  As reflected by the step counter app on my phone:

Today is supposed to be the worst day, ever.  Literally.  I stayed up after Kevin left, because I had a plan.  I opened all the windows and doors.  I went outside and watered again, this time wetting the walkways and foundation of the house.  I did one load of laundry and all of my chores.  Then I showered so I could start closing off the house. 

It's 68 degrees in the living room and I am wearing a hoodie. I also have socks on and a blanket. My hands are cold. It's been that cool since Kevin left and I'm hoping that it will stay around that temperature for most of the day.  My discomfort now will be a benefit later at bedtime, hopefully.

The main bath and my office has constant sunlight so they become saunas, no matter what precautions I try. Thank goodness for the common folk bathroom and for flexibility with my work.  I called out for the rest of the week but am not telling the family so it's a true vacation.  Meanwhile, those rooms are off-limits until this settles down.

I dragged my projects out to the kitchen: a towering stack of unread magazines, a laptop that we've sold and I need to ensure I've done everything I need to, my laptop so I can write this post and check into work. If I get desperate, I will start the photo project again.

It's been too hot for Lucy to be outside, much to her dismay.  We haven't done walkies since Thursday and she's getting antsy.  I took her to the treat stand then rolled all the windows down in the truck on the way home so her senses could get a workout.  

Kevin had an episode, called a "storm", from his Graves Disease last night.  His body can't sustain in high temps/high humidity.  It results in extreme sweat, weakness, shortness of breath, and disorientation.  It usually takes about 24-hours for him to bounce from it.  So, luckily, he's at work and outside today.  Sigh.  This is the first one he's had for quite a while so that's good, I guess.  It had been so long that it took me a minute to realize what was happening. The remedy is a cold shower, protein and water, and rest.  Which is most times like trying to put socks on a toddler.

There were two threads on the twitter with instructions what to do when it's this hot.  I've found them very helpful and supportive.  One of them made the interesting point that this heat wave isn't going to be just a one-off occurrence so make a plan now.  Here they are, in case you are experiencing this craziness as well:

Bossy Plan  and Australian Plan

The other posts I noticed where people telling others to STFU about "We're used to those temps all the time, stop being a baby."  We are not used to this. We are a moss based organism.  We call June "June-uary"  Our summer starts July 5th.  Also, it's like judging the Texas citizens when they had snow and freezing temps and were wholly unprepared.  They weren't supposed to have snow and we're not supposed to be in the hundreds.

It occurred to me on the way home that this is like a Snow Day.  In the winter, I stay home usually when there is snow on the ground.  I worry about power outages (our lights have flickered over the past 24 hours), our satellite and internet are wonky, and I tend to bunker down.  It's a Snow Day today, but a Sun Day.  It feels odd to stay indoors when it's sunny but I'm a big fan of my skin.

Hopefully this will be helpful, if nothing else provide solidarity in this heat.  Meanwhile, stay cool Pony Boy.

26 June 2021

Two Chairs, Two Tables, and a Closet

One of the "fun" things about having an alphabet brain is getting obsessive about something for small periods of time then the complete abandonment of said thing.

This brings us to What Did Surely Take Apart Now - the Tables She Hates edition. Oh and Chairs. Wait, and the Closet.

When I refinished the dining table, the chairs no longer matched.  They were also way, way, worn and  inexpensive chairs to begin with.    I've been looking for chairs for about a year now; looking defined as half-heartedly and sort of waiting for chairs to fall from the sky. I don't want new because I'm frugal and would rather recycle.  I've been looking for chairs in second hand shops, reclamation stores, and online.  

Finally, and unexpectedly, I found a pair of chairs on the social media marketplace.  Of course they were located two towns away but they were what I wanted.  Kevin was skeptical about buying chairs we've never sat on and without being seen.  But Pandemic Kevin seems to have given up on me with my projects and ideas.

So, just trying to arrange getting these chairs was a thing.  She wasn't available one day but was available the Friday evening.  I explained it was my anniversary so I wasn't available.  She countered with Saturday morning, to which I'm all "Umm, ANNIVERSARY. What makes you think that would still be an option."  Instead of saying that, I asked for another day.  We finally settled on Monday morning.  

So it was a little exciting to have Something To Do on a Monday morning.  It was about a 40 minute drive so that was nice.  It's in a rural area where Covid isn't a thing (sarcasm) so school was in session, to my surprise.  It was in a nicer neighborhood so it's always fun to roll up in my slightly loud, older SUV.

It turned out that they were what I wanted: sturdy, antique, and worn.  I happily loaded them, stopped at the hardware store on the way home, went home and immediately began to sand them...in my living room.  In my defense, it was raining.  And I'm the one who cleans the house so...

In process and in comparison to the old chairs

They don't look as light as in the photo

Because this is the third time that I've refinished, the process went pretty quickly.  And...I'm mostly satisfied.  I'd prefer them a little darker but so far not enough to do the actual work to make that happen.  I'm nearly out of projects so a return to this one is absolutely possible.  (and so much time has passed since I started this post that I have applied two more coats of stain)

Another view
Photographing something surrounded by windows, sigh.

Now I still want to find two more chairs, in case there is ever anyone else here for dinner.  I want something similar but not necessarily the same.  Because of Lucy's bed, they won't be placed at the table but in my office or wherever until needed.  

This leaves the tables I inherited and didn't want.  Well, the first one I wanted.  It's in the mud room and holds our keys and we've had it a long time.  The second one I did not want, but took anyway because it was important to my mother-in-law. She no longer remembers those tables so super glad I did that. #dementiaissuperfun

The mate to the key table has moved around the house a few times until becoming a side table after our buying chairs/remodeling the living room adventure.  Called into action not because I wanted it but because I needed it.  It had been refinished once, maybe. It has grooves in it where something heavy probably was dragged across it.  Of the two tables, it was in the worse shape.  I have no before photos, even though I am pretty sure I took them.  I'm also pretty sure that I used the snapchat and didn't save them.  Sigh.

Sanded, mostly. The grooves and weird edge can still be seen

Nevertheless, I started with the table in the mud room.  The logic being if it didn't turn out then I would not refinish the one in the living room AND it lives in the mudroom so no one would really see it.  Even a loss is a win in this situation.

Well, looky here. It turned out nice.  The A.d.d. immediately wanted to start on the other table but cooler heads prevailed.  And I was out of some supplies.

Still can't believe this turned out so nice

Now I'm out of furniture to refinish, unless I decide to do my desk.  It's not off the list but it will be a BIG job.  The desk can't be taken out of the room so it would require all the work to happen where it sits.  And the complete disassembly of my work station so I need to think about that.

My last project can best be described by Kevin's comment when he saw it completed: "What the eff is wrong with you."  (said in a funny, not mean way)   I painted our walk-in closet.  I saw it on the interwebs and it intrigued me.

Now most of the closets were calm colors, like greys or creams.  I went a different way.  Years ago, a friend ours painted her windowless bathroom this color and I loved it.  LOVED it.  The paint guy at the little hardware store actually laughed when I asked for it.

So, now I'm sort of out of projects. Until the other day when I learned that I am most likely working from home for the next school term, at least.

Now I've bought paint for the office, I'm looking at refinishing my giant desk, and there is and always will be: Monica's Closet.

24 June 2021

Alternative Therapy

I spun out a little while making dinner.  This didn't used to be unusual, lol, when I didn't know how to cook. But this was out of the norm for me.  There were too many things on the counter for my brain to function.  I actually had to stop what I was doing and put stuff away or move it, in order to continue.

So what's wrong with me, you're wondering. Surely, that's not normal.  (that sentence works as a question and a statement. ha!)

I'm a big fan of Grey's Anatomy, always have been.  No, that's not what's wrong.  As always, there's a scenic route to where I'm going.  Again, I'm a big fan.  I will watch it all day long even though I've seen all of the episodes, multiple times. Quote it regularly.  One of things that I appreciate is the openness about mental health.  

I have been in the dark and twisty place.  

It happens from time to time and usually I roll/bounce quickly enough.  But this one is holding on for a while.  Some of it's chemical/hormonal.  Some of it's environmental and some of it is personal.  I wish that I could say that it's mercury in refrigerator or just, like, one thing. But nope.

Acclimating back to "normal" life seems daunting and I can't want to.
My bio family still are refusing to vaccinate - continually putting me in the position of declining invites.
My in-laws are back-sliding more every day.
Zombies have returned for a little visit.  (implying they're leaving soon)

So I'm doing all the things I usually do when this happens:
  •   Try to eat on a schedule. This is a struggle probably only for me.
  •   Taking Lucy for walkies (in the mornings now because it's HOT here in the PNW)
  •   Trying to stay on any sort of schedule
  •   Have a project to work on.  
  •   Doing self-care like getting a drink at our friend's coffee stand, reading outside on the deck, and       working in the garden when it's not the temperature of the sun outside.  
  •   Listening to music that doesn't bum me out (Classic Vinyl on SIRIUSXM or Jack Johnson on constant shuffle or a playlist on my phone that's labelled LOUD)

Meanwhile, right now, I'm working because I have actual work to do for once. Because BONUS: I'm in the slow period of my work.  I am wearing my noise-cancelling headphones so I can concentrate. Alone, in my own house. Also, I've employed one of my tricks that helps like therapy:  

I'm listening to Christopher Titus "Norman Rockwell is Bleeding".  It's one of my favorite things in the whole world.  I have it on dvd and in my amazonmusic.  This show is like therapy for me on so many levels.  He talks about dysfunctional parents and cars and tells stories that feel like stories my friends would tell.  I've heard it twenty times and I still laugh.

I'm not out of projects but the projects I have aren't going to be easy ones so I'm avoiding them.  They involve Monica's Closet and my office.  It's going to require organization, painting, and patience.  So, drops in the bucket will be employed.

So, I'm still here, chugging along here in the background.  I'll throw up unfinished posts or whatever until my brain resets back to where it belongs. Should be any second now...

Finally, here's another very random thing that I've found helps: therapy tiktok.  Look it up, because there are some amazing people on that app.  I find it interesting how a one-minute video can help.  There are also meditation videos that are kind of helpful.  The only issue is tiktok is addictive and seems to create a tear in the time/space continuum. Two hours of watching dog videos seem like ten minutes.  So, if you didn't already know, you've been warned.

10 June 2021

Canine Bankruptcy

Lucy has become a high roller.  We spent $556 dollars yesterday to find that she's a) in perfect health, 2) she strained her left knee and c) sometimes dogs just don't feel good.  YEAH.

Monday morning she wasn't herself, didn't eat breakfast and just slept in our bed all morning.  I went to work for a few hours and when I returned, she wasn't feeling good and wouldn't let me pet her beyond her mid-section. She also wouldn't lay down on her sides, just lay in the sphinx pose.  

I called our vet and they couldn't see her until THURSDAY.  I scheduled an appointment, just in case, then called every vet in two counties. Finally an unavailable vet recommended one in my hometown. I phoned and they took her first thing the next morning. Because now it's like 4:30 pm. Also, hooray small towns.

Kevin and I had the discussion of using emergency pet care but the cost is prohibitive unless the dog is in terrible shape, shall we say.  My sibling in-laws have taken their dog, the one that I don't like because it's mean to Lucy,  multiple times and it has been No Less Than $1000 per visit.  Don't get me started on how that feels like extortion.

Also, the above mentioned dog has cost them over $10,000 in procedures.  It's a boxer with papers and has all the health issues and behaviors that breed is prone to.  Plus owners who don't take care of her properly.  (people food, not trained to behave alone in the house, not trained to be around other animals)

Kevin and I discussed multiple times the "How much is Too Much?" and we disagree.  I believe Kevin would be a Whatever It Takes person if he weren't married to me.  In the past 60-days we've spent just under $800 on her and I'm getting a little bitter about it. (this is not a humblebrag but more of a @#$#!) This also leads me to the Just Because We Can Save Them, Doesn't Mean We Should. Quality of life and remaining life span needs to be considered.  And debt.  I apply this to humans as well.   

Anyway. I didn't realize I had so much to say about that.

Lucy didn't eat dinner Monday night and she needed to be ON us. Not next to, but ON us.  So she slept in the people bed and she was obviously in pain.  To the point that Kevin slept on the bedroom floor with her for a while.  (I know, right?)  She was just as bad in the morning and didn't eat breakfast or leave the people bed.

Going to the vet, she was horrible in the truck, wanting to get UP onto the dash, trying to lay at my feet, trying to get in my lap. I honestly don't know how I didn't wreck my truck. Finally we got to the vet and she was all Perfect Dog.  Sigh.  She let the vet touch her hind-quarters and tummy and do all the necessary things without a peep.  But he said that it was clear her tummy was upset.  She had the tiniest of a temperature.

They kept her for x-rays and bloodwork and I had to go home without her.  UGH.   FIVE HOURS later, I went to pick her up.  After being together every day, all day for a year and a half, that was not my favorite.

Her blood work is perfect, her organs are perfect ("If you ever need something, here's your donor" the vet said)   Her spine is great, her joints are great, her tummy is fine.  She has a slight heart murmur but that's common for a dog her age.  He said that if he didn't know the demographics of the dog, he would have bet that she was a much younger dog.  

While this is nice, I'm yelling in my head "Then why am I here!?!"     The most he could find was inflammation in her left knee.  I "jokingly" said that we were here because she wanted attention and he said something like "maybe."  Double sigh.  Except she was really not feeling well and not acting right.  

So, it's a good guess that she ate something that didn't agree with her and also hurt her knee hunting and that it just was coincidental. So, whew.  I also think she's nine and we're seeing Old Dog Behavior.  

I brought her home and she was SO HIGH.  Omg, so high.  I'm going to hell for laughing at her.  Thus the social media posts.  Here's my favorite:

You have to tell me if you're a cop

She slept with us all night, like a people between us.  Not a peep nor a movement.  She slept all morning on the people bed in her blanket, while I worked.  She whined at one point and I checked on her.  I think she didn't know how to get down. She was still a little high.

Also, I let her outside on the deck and she didn't quite know what to do.  I let her in the yard and she walked like she'd never experienced grass before, lol.  Now she's sleeping on the deck and will randomly wander the house.  She's whined twice and I think it's because she can't see me.  GREAT.  I hope that's not going to be a habit.

Also, her whining has been Next Level today.  It's like she learned from the other dogs at the vet. Super.

Meanwhile, we're supposed to take it easy for a few days so I'm skipping walkies until Friday.  I asked the vet about the walkies suggestion and he said that it was clearly working so keep going. A little part of me was hoping for "No, that's too much.".  Not that I hate it, it's just work sometimes because I can't just walk out our door for a walk; we have to go somewhere.

In the end, we found a new vet because I liked his approach.  He offered to see her for free if she acts up like that again in the next little while.  It's a small town vet office like you would see in the movies.  Her other vet is a larger, newer clinic and doesn't have that same vibe.  

Now I'm going to go research pet insurance.  

03 June 2021

Adventures in Parenting

 I haven't told a parent story for a while, I realized.  The pandemic has kind of limited their ability to make us crazy.  Oh, there's the usual electronical things like when they turned down the phone and didn't turn it up so now it's broken.  Or orders from Amazon that she DIDN'T order, just ask her. (now she knows how "easy" it is to do returns, sigh.) 

Or the handful of times they would decide that they were just over the pandemic and would go somewhere.  Kevin did a good job at just stepping back and letting them go.  Sure, he'd throw out a "You're gonna die alone..." here and there but mostly he held his tongue.

And now they're both immunized so they've been shopping and to restaurants multiple times. Don't get me started.  They are still in their eighties and medically fragile.

Kevin's mom was dying to see our house, she's been hearing about my projects and wanted to actually see it.  Kevin went over Sunday at noon to see if she wanted to visit. He would walk her over here.  But she had tired herself out and wanted a little rest first.  Kevin told her he'd check in with her later and came home.

He was moving the clock and artwork on the wall behind the giant television and I was mopping when we both hear a noise.  It was his mother.  Standing in our kitchen.  Unannounced. UNACCOMPANIED.  She had somehow managed to walk over here, on a gravel path, by herself.  No cane, no walker, no oxygen. Nothing.  At least she kept their little dog home, I guess?  My f-i-l was working next door (another don't get me started) and she took the opportunity to sneak over.  She would say "surprise", we say sneak.

Kevin and I were both stunned to silence.  Finally I managed "You are SO grounded" over Kevin's "What in the hell are you doing?"  She did the infuriating "I'm fine" thing when she's so not fine. She was clearly exhausted but didn't want to sit or borrow my cane.  Because reasons.

We recovered quickly enough and Kevin took her on a tour.  It's not like the house is huge, I can hear everything and I did pop in to make an appearance in each room, I just didn't hover.   She liked it very much, became a little weepy seeing our picture wall, and Kevin walked her home.  

We didn't discuss it once he returned, just a raised eyebrow and a heavy sigh.  It wasn't until dinner when I mentioned "SHE DIDN'T EVEN KNOCK."

I've talked about the bras and my m-i-l.  Here's an update: It is STILL happening.  Man, I have some karma to correct somewhere.  Kevin suggested that I hand the issue off to my sister-in-law.  Yeah, tried that and she is uninterested.  Because, you know, I'm ENJOYING this so much.  We're waiting for two more bras to arrive and if those don't fit, then she is going to have to go into a store and get fitted.  

Here's the big one.  Here's the one that made me wish I had alcohol in the house.  

Every.Single.Time. my mother-in-law phones, she asks "Are you sleeping?"  Doesn't matter if it's 6 in the morning or 2 in the afternoon.

She phoned about 4:00 pm and she sounded not quite on this planet.  It's a little early for her to be sundowning so my internal alarm sounded.   After a few seconds of fumbling, she finally got out that she needed help with her bank account and "can you go on the computer and look."

I've always kept financial boundaries firm with the family.  This can be challenging because there are few boundaries in this family.  For example, every year Kevin's brother tries to compare income tax refunds.  Every.Single.Year.  So, yeah, that's a thing.  I'm hesitant to wade into these waters and I'm trying to decide if I need to call Kevin.

She continued to struggle to ask me so I asked her what exactly she needed.  Did she need a bill paid? Did she need to check her balance?   (my blood pressure is rising writing this, just remembering.)

"I just phoned the bank and it says there is no money in our account."


I told her I'd be right over, I just needed to get my laptop.    As I'm getting it and turning it on so it's ready when I walked over there, I'm trying not to panic.  I'm flipping over into Combat Mode, working the problem.  

It's probably a mistake, odds are it's a mistake. 

Except remember when she tried to order something from Facebook?  And Amazon.  

We have funds to cover them if it is something wrong.  But the brother is going to have to buck up too and that will be drama...

Are we at the point of them needing help with their finances because 1.2.3. NOT IT.  

Seconds later, I'm walking over with my laptop and my internet hotspot.  Breathing through it and convincing myself that it is just a mistake.

My father-in-law is in his chair watching WOMEN'S BASKETBALL.  Like nothing is wrong.  

My mother-in-law is at the kitchen table and absolutely no color in her face.  She's struggling with words because she has, rightfully so, melted down.  

I asked her to give me her bank statement so I can create an account.  I asked her if that was okay and she hesitated.  Then I explained that I can't help her if I can't have those things.  Well, how do they balance their checkbook you just wondered.  She CALLS CUSTOMER SERVICE.  

I noticed that she had three credit cards in front of her, all of them from a national bank.  "What are those?"  I asked.  One is a debit, one is a credit, and one is...Are You Ready?...  " a card they just gave me."  Deep breath. Do.not.react. 

She gave me the bank statement and I got to work, like you see in the movies when people are trying to hack into the company computer system.  This is where I say it's FRIGHTENINGLY easy to create an account.  

And...they have a balance.  A big balance, actually.  So...hooray?

Now I'm walking back what happened.  She phoned customer service to check their account.  It appears that she entered the "Card They Just Gave Me" and it has a zero balance.  Because it's a credit card with rewards and they don't use it. She kept pointing out that it was a rewards card until it occurred to me what she meant and I said "It's not like the grocery store."  

Plus, she used that card number - out of three available cards - instead of their account number for reasons that are beyond me.  

I'm vacillating somewhere between wanting to lay down and cry and throwing punches.

Then my sister-in-law phones her.  M-i-l is telling her that I'm looking into it and fixed it.  But she's not being clear because she's still in panic mode.  I literally took the phone out of her hand "Teresa, it's Surely.  It's all good.  It's probably what you thought happened."  She expressed relief, frustration and thanks and we hung up.

Now that I'm not freaking out that we have to pay their bills until this gets fixed, I've flipped into WTF Mode.  She explained again about the card that they just gave her.  I suggested, pretty firmly, that they call the bank and cancel that card.  She's stuck on the "But they gave it to us" so I moved on.  

Next I suggested that she has my s-i-l help with this regularly so we don't freak out the entire family.  She kind of agreed to that.  I suspect that she asks for help more than I know with that.  Whatever, I said the words and I can move on without guilt.

Then I suggested that they keep the larger amount of money in savings instead of in checking.  They have been poor a good portion of their lives and it's my guess that it's comforting to have that big amount in their checking.  However, I pointed out that if this had been Fraud, they would have exactly $211 in savings to live on while it was getting fixed.  This took a couple of tries to get them to understand and I left it unresolved. Yes, I could have transferred the money right then and there but I'm trying to keep boundaries in place.  

So, now it's all fixed.  I texted my s-i-l all of the log-in information so she can do with it what she wants.  I wrote it down for the inevitable next time.

Returning to my house, I texted Kevin to phone me when he gets a moment.  Again, wishing there was alcohol in this damn house.  He phones right away because I never make that request.  I gave him the clif notes version of the story and he's momentarily speechless.  That never happens. He recovers and says thanks for fixing it and that obviously A Conversation is needed.  Again: 1.2.3. Not It.

Then he tells me later that the b-i-l knew but didn't tell Kevin or me.  What the ACTUAL.  I can't even go there in my mind because it's so frustrating.  And then it occurred to me that clearly the s-i-l knew also.  Sigh.

I post this to a) scream uselessly into the void  b) so it's hopefully helpful to someone else who is raising elderly parents.  I have no suggestions because finances are one of those areas that aren't going to be addressed until something goes wrong.  We dodged a bullet and that was our warning shot.

26 May 2021

Wait, That's Mine...

My mother-in-law decided she needed to clean things out this weekend.  Yeah, that isn't disconcerting at all.  It started when she phoned me, needing tissue paper to pack things.  So in a tiny panic, I walked a box and paper over to her.  To find her standing on a little collapsible step stool.  IN SLIPPERS.  While my father-in-law watched.  Raising parents is not for the weak, I keep telling you.  I was speechless for a milli-second then announced "Oh GOOD, you're standing on a stool." To which, she says "Oh, pssh, I'm fine." as she clumsily steps down.  CLEARLY.

She has done this before: giving away stuff.  Last time it was giving away Christmas stuff then fast forward two years and she was wondering where her decorations were.  This is SEPARATE from the "It's in the purple tote with the broken lid I don't like" conversation that we have annually.

I asked her why she was doing this and she mentioned that she wanted more space to put out the "Stuff that I like and want to look at."  I admit, I got a little smart-assy and said "You live in a three-foot by three-foot house, what do you have that you can't SEE."

She mentioned that she had animal figurines that she thought my s-i-l had and she would like to see them.  Well, first off: *I* have them and secondly: that was the agreement.  If she wanted any of her stuff back, it was hers.  But no, I was wrong: Teresa has the figurines.  I started to argue then just said "I'll be back in a minute."  I came home, grabbed this creepy dog thing that she loves and took it back over there.  "Is this what you were talking about?"  Yes, that was one of them.  

Back over to the house I went, gathered up the rest, and took them back over there.  Now she's flustered.  She's worried that now I won't be able to look at them.  I literally had to make myself wait to respond, count in my head, and then say "It's fine, they are yours and you will enjoy them more than me." Whew.  What I wanted to say is that I forgot that I had them until you mentioned them.  But I did not.

Now it's Tuesday.  I went over there to drop off mail and she had the box ready for the goodwill.  Kevin and I had already agreed that I would check out everything before it went anywhere to make sure she didn't give away heirloom stuff that the family would want.  Also, I usually text the niece photos of stuff to see if she would want it.

I brought the box into my office and began to delve into it.  The first thing was a candy bowl that is MINE that she used during the holidays. There was also a ribbon that was around another vase when we sent flowers over.  So...great. I'm getting my own stuff back.

One of the other items was a glass hummingbird we gave her to set in her window.  I'm certain she has no memory of it so my feelings aren't hurt beyond a "Huh, well, there we go."  There is a plastic bird with mama bird and babies.  I bobbled it and while trying to catch it, noticed it has batteries and makes noise. HARD PASS.  There's also a fisherman figurine that does something similar.  This is what I categorize as gifts for people who are impossible to buy gifts for and/or while in the hospital.  (I think that's where the bird nest came from)

There were two glasses which are part of a set.  I've lost track who has the set but I've always liked them so I put them in the china cupboard (iridescent blue carnival glass)  There was a marigold carnival glass candy bowl and glass that was also part of a set that I DO have.  The candy bowl is on the kitchen island for now and glass is in the cupboard.  Good thing I took those animals out of there so I would have space.

There was an ugly brown tea cup set.  It pinged in my memory so I set it aside for later.  This morning I thought to look underneath and there's a note that says "Grandma Tippy's teacup".  It was one of Kevin's grandmas favorite cups.  So, whew, hooray for my scattered memory bank keeping (sorta) that information.  Into the cupboard that goes.

Next up was a flower vase, just a clear wide-opening vase.  At first I put it back into the box because: vase.  Then this morning I realized it would be perfect to hold all the rocks I keep bringing home from walkies. Because right now, they're in my truck, on the kitchen windowsill, on my desk, on my office windowsill, in my actual office, everywhere.  Kevin is delighted with that fact. (nope)

There was a blue mini-vase that is pretty but doesn't match anything in the house or china cupboard.  This is where I explain that my mother-in-law is childlike when going "shopping", which is browsing endlessly through second-hand shops.  She has to, HAS TO, buy something before she leaves.  Has to.  I'm guessing this odd little vase was one of those purchases.

Finally there was a heavy ceramic Christmas tree so I kept it because Christmas.  A felt Santa doorhanger that stayed in the box.  Candles that I don't need.  A small picture frame that I don't need but will use.  A heavy platter that I can't tell if it's vintage or second-hand.  It's in the Waiting for Other's to Dibs pile. 

And finally this adorable and slightly terrifying lamb:

It's one of those things where you see it and think "Oh, that's cute" then look at it a little more closely. OR IT LOOKS AT YOU MORE CLOSELY and discover that it's actually a little terrifying.  What you can't see is that it has a halo and it's hollowed out for a candle? I mean, it's just the lamb that keeps giving.  (nightmares)

So, add this to things to be prepared for with raising elderly parents.  They will suddenly start giving stuff away.  My mom did it without my knowledge until I happened to notice one day. Then  I brought home some stuff that had hung in her kitchen since gawd was a boy.  I can't think about what she sent away without us knowing.    Also when downsizing the family house, remember to keep things they love but aren't quite ready to part with. Box them up and put them in a closet. Sometimes, those items can be returned for a visit and seeing them again will make them happy.