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.  

23 May 2021

Bribing the Vet

 It's been well established that Lucy is the goodest puppy ever.  Out of the four dogs we've had, she's been the easiest and best trained.  She's smarter than me, by far.  

She's nine years old now, even though we still call her a puppy.  We are in denial that she will ever be Not a Puppy.  

She started acting up about a month ago.  She wouldn't sleep in her crate.  Tore it up once at 2:00 in the morning.  Whined and cried.  Refused to go in at bedtime.  

When I gave up and let her sleep with us but it wasn't like she was all "I WON, I am in the People Bed!" Sometimes she was alerting - going to the windows or patrolling the house, and sometimes she would just be in like a panic and want to lay ON us.  Occasionally, she would switch it up and sleep through the night in her crate.  Just to keep us off balance, I think.

After two weeks of sleep deprivation torture, I took her to the vet. Even though she had a checkup in November with shots, we went to make sure something wasn't happening.  $222 later and it is determined that she is aging and having anxiety.  STAND IN LINE, PUP.   

The vet first suggested puppy prozac.  I told her that I would like to explore other options before throwing chemicals at her.  I emphasized that just like me, if she needs it, she will have it but let's try other things first.  She said she can't recommend it because: rules but that some people use CBD.  We will try that if this continues. (and for the human, also)

The vet then suggested to increase her walkies.  I explained that we do long walkies every Friday, and other short walkies during the week and that she has 6 acres to roam all the other days.  Nope, dedicated, regular walkies.  Like I mentioned on the social media, I think she paid off the vet.

Okay, well, regular walkies isn't going to kill me so I set my intention to figure out a way to make this happen.  The first week we did walkies every day, a mix of 1-2 miles each time.  She slept in her crate at night that whole week.

Then, like a switch, it was as if she thought "Hey, they've tricked me. I will NOT sleep in my crate."  So now she sleeps on the couch.  

Last week we went every day but one.  She was tired, I was tired, and the weather was a little bleh so we skipped it. It was enough that Kevin was actually starting to feel bad for me.  She continued to sleep on the couch, or her pillow behind Kevin's chair, or her fort under the dining table or even sometimes her bed.  As long as she isn't waking us up, I can't care.

Sidebar: cousins are coming to the house. Cousins who we haven't seen in two years.  Kevin mentioned something - in JEST - about having the house clean.  I sassed and said: "When is it never not perfect?  Name one thing that is wrong."  He thought about it and then grinned...oh no.  "The fact that there are one, two, three, four DOG BEDS in this house."  Okay, fair enough.

Then the other night I was startled awake.  She was scratching at the door, threw herself against it, and whined.  I jumped up and opened the door then she shoved past me like her tail was on fire.  She jumped onto the bed and laid down.  She laid with Kevin for a bit then moved and had to lay ON ME.  I'm starting to think that I need to go to the doctor, she 's freaking me out.

Once she settles she's fine.  During the day, totally fine.  She's not in pain, doesn't complain, has no symptoms.  She will even go sleep in her crate when I'm working in the office (where her crate lives)  If she thinks we're leaving, she puts herself in her crate. She just won't sleep in it during the night.

Seriously. What a dump

I've pulled it apart Twice.  We put in a sweatshirt that Kevin had worn to work.  We closed the curtain, we turned up the radio.  We put more blankets in, we put less blankets.  We have done all the things and  No Thank You.  She's gotten two baths and the vet has checked her for fleas and ticks.  Kevin wondered if we needed to put more cushion in there.  To which I gestured to the crate with a "Seriously?"

So, worse case is that I get exercise.  Worse case is she sleeps elsewhere.  I mean, in the scheme of things it's not a big thing.

But, there's always a but.  When I can't sleep, I will do laundry.  I will put dishes away.  I will write.  I will go outside and take photos of the sky.  I can't do these things while she's sleeping in the living room.  She will be all "Oh, we're up?  Awesome! What are we doing?"  So now it feels like I'm grounded in my own damn room.

Because she's a shelter puppy, we don't know her exact age.  According to the shelter and the vet, we approximate about nine years old, maybe leaning toward ten.  Her muzzle is grey, her eyebrows are grey.  So with that, we think she is aging and getting a little clingy.  I also discovered now that I'm paying attention, that her hearing isn't what it used to be.  I've startled her twice and that would never happen before. She is a Navy Seal when it comes to that stuff usually.  (yes, they checked her ears)

I worry a little bit if I have to return to an actual office in the Fall but we'll jump across that bridge when we get there. Meanwhile, she can have all the dog beds in all of the rooms.  And outside. Until then, look at this face:

16 May 2021

Support for the Elderly

Oh, I still have a draft of stories from the parents.  It encompasses about the last two weeks and you know, I don't know what I'd write about if they weren't here.

This one, though, this one is just...I can't.  The ever so lovely Swistle has been along for this ride and declared it the best thing ever, so here we go.

You know what's super fun?  Like, with a dash of omg?  Talking about and Shopping For bras for your elderly mother-in-law.  YEAH.

Unbeknownst to me, she's been shopping for bras and can't find anything that fits. I had taken two packages back to Amazon returns but didn't quite realize what was in there.  

This is a two-parter: I want to snick my loving husband between the eyes for letting his mother know how easy Amazon returns are.  Secondly, if I hear "I didn't put that in my cart/buy that." one more time, I'm going to need alcohol. 

The issue is she keeps buying sports bras and being frustrated that she can't get them on.  Deep, from my core Sighing. You are so very welcome for that visual. If it's in my head, it has to be in yours. That's the rules, I don't make them.

After a uncomfortable conversation with my m-i-l, IN FRONT OF MY FATHER-IN-LAW, I came up with a plan.  But first: the deets.  Not the...lol. I'm so very tired.

She can't do behind the back closures.  Fair enough.

She can't do hook and eye in the front.  Okay.

She needs a different size because she's aged and things have...shifted.

None of the "easy pull-on" bras fit, no matter what size she orders. 

After internally screaming and deep breathing fortification (thank you, meditation) I offered that those were Sports Bras and not meant to be easy to get on.  That, in fact, the very opposite because, you know, SPORTS BRAS.

I was met with immediate resistance.  Wooboy, I didn't understand.  They said easy to put on.  Well, then, if they SAID it was easy then what do I know.  I suggested that she could try again but maybe have some assistance "from someone else who lives here" while not making eye contact with my f-i-l.  "Because they're BY DESIGN tight and notorious for being difficult to put on."  Nope, I was wrong.  She just needed a bigger size.  She has already tried...wait for it...a 4X and it was "too small." Yeah.

Sidebar: I am curvy.  I am beyond curvy.  After birth control and a few IVF treatments, my chest grew from an already big size for my frame to a bigger size.  I AM AWARE OF THE STRUGGLE.  I wanted to say "LOOK at me, do you not think I know about these things?"  but again: my f-i-l is sitting right there.  KILL ME WITH A ROCK.  This is not a conversation I want to have with anyone, LET ALONE my m-i-l.

Finally, we agreed that I would look for her and to please, for the love of dog, stop buying bras.

I finally did research and there are snap-front bras for elderly women. WHO KNEW? I didn't. (and yes, I will file this back for future use)  I ordered them from the amazon so returns were easy FOR ME.  One was utilitarian and one was really pretty.  Of course the utilitarian one was the first to arrive and my bet to be the one that fit.  Because ugly always fits better than pretty with these kinds of things.

No word from the m-i-l after two days. I thought maybe I had won.  I even asked Kevin "I know she'd probably not tell you, but do you know if those bras fit?"  He balked, rolled his eyes and said no, I don't need to know about that.  Fair enough, except I DO.

A little bit ago, I walked over there to check with her.  My nephew happened to be here and went to say goodbye to her.  "What are you doing?" he asks.  "Asking your nana a question you don't want to know." He's like me and just replied "Okay, then."

And no, the bra is still too small.  "My boobs kept falling out" WITH HAND GESTURES.  

I said: if it's in my head, it gets to be in yours.

But she wants to keep it because it kind of works and it's so nice to have a bra again.  Ummm, what?  How long has this been? what have you been doing? are all questions that went unanswered because I can't take anymore vivid imagery.

She went on to explain that she measured herself, or tried to, and she was a 44.  This seems unlikely but I'm not a good judge of this kind of thing.  I know I'm not that big and I don't think she's bigger than me at all.    So then I asked her where she was measuring, words that I never want to ask again.  She said "Around my front."

That noise you hear is my head banging on the desk. 

I tried again: Did you measure around your torso or the...."  I'm trying to phrase this in a way that is not going to give me nightmares  "...did you measure around the Thickest Part of You."  I am not discussing anatomy placement with my m-i-l.  She indicated that she did her thickest part, then offered that her hip size was about the same measurement.  WUT?  I started to ask for clarification, stopped myself just in time, and continued on.  I don't want nor need to know why she measured her hip size.

"Okay, so here's the plan.  Do not order any more.  The next one will arrive tomorrow and we'll see if it fits.  If it does, we'll order more of those.  If it doesn't, we'll try a bigger size.  Do NOT order anything else."

She agreed.  But I know I'm going to have to go look at her Amazon account to make sure that she didn't. Even though she'll say she didn't.  

AND THEN, I talked to my sister-in-law to make sure that she hadn't already ordered something or had a plan.  She hadn't - because of course, what was I thinking - but she did express displeasure with the whole topic.  Stand in line, sister.

Here are the links for those of you who might have this conversation in the future.  I would have paid good money to not have this conversation.  So, let my discomfort be your guide:

Utilitarian: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PV5HZJ8?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2_dt_b_product_details

Pretty: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07Y46NKSL?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2_dt_b_product_details

15 May 2021

On The Side - What Did Surely Take Apart Now

This month's episode of What Did Surely Take Apart Now is Kevin's side table.  It sits next to his chair and holds all the stuff that he hoards: pens, pocket knives, catalogs, timeslips, candy.

Yeah. This space doesn't bug me at all. Nope. 

The table was built by his dad almost thirty years ago, probably.  It sat between the parents recliners in the Moody House.  We inherited it when they moved here with us.  It's kind of a cool table as the drawer is huge and there is a pull-out above it, kind of like a cutting board.  It was intended as an extension of sorts.  Kevin never uses that feature because of the way the table sits.

There is heavy glass on the top.  Glass on furniture is one of my least favorite things but he put it there for durability.  No need to worry about water rings, etc.  Except it's a dust catcher along the edges.  Also, before we got it, there was a spill that wasn't cleaned and it had stained the wood. UNDER the glass, along the edges.  Also on the front of the drawer, if you look closely.  Sigh.

Lucy, unimpressed that I'm beginning another project

This is where I say when I went into the little hardware store, the guy recognized me and asked what I was working on now.  I would like some sort of ribbon, please, for that accomplishment. This guy has seen me through many painting projects, a gardening project, and the dining table.  THIS is why you shop in the little, local stores.

I started this on Tuesday...probably... and it went pretty smoothly to begin with.  Because, I would discover that my father-in-law - who is infamous for Good Enough - had never stained the wood.  I think maybe he put polish? oil? on it.  This made sanding super easy. I think it might have taken longer to take apart everything and move it outside.


Then I cleaned it with that godforsaken tack cloth that I hate.  I cleaned up my mess and got out the stain.  Did I think to put anything under the table to protect the deck? Nope.  Has Kevin noticed yet? Nope.  The stain went on super easy and I kept waiting for a repeat of the dining room table. 

It went great.  I think partially because I knew what to expect, I knew better what I was doing, and it was just different kind of table/wood.  Still, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop.  But it didn't and after two coats, I was able to bring the table back inside and put the room right before Kevin got home that night.  


All I said was "Just don't spill on it yet."  To which Kevin said "No promises.  That's too much pressure."  For the record: I'm the spiller in this family.  

Back in place, just with less stuff piled around it

I still had to put the sealant on it, which is trickier. It takes two-three coats, with four hours in-between and 24-hours before "regular use."  I set the goal to start on Friday morning, after he left and it would be done by Friday night when he got home.

Yeah, not so much.  It was 44 degrees when he left in the morning.  Too cold to work outside.  The sealant has an odor that lingers so doing it inside wasn't an option this time.  (lesson learned from the dining table: it took almost a week for it to stop smelling)

I started working my actual job, intending to just work an hour or so. This was a deadline week and while I had met my portion of the deadline, others had not; giving me stuff to do. Two hours later and now I'm sleepy. I had forgotten coffee and breakfast. It's still not quite warm enough so Lucy and I took a wee nap.  Two hours later and now we're late for the day.

We went on walkies, a new trail that ended up being about 2.25 miles long, stopped at work to pick up stuff, picked up groceries then headed home.  Just to sit back down to work for a bit then remember that I forgot to pick up something while I was in town that couldn't wait.  Back into town I went, spent some unexpected time with a friend, then home again.  Now I'm really late.

Kevin had plans for the evening with his bff so I knew I still had time.  Also, it was unseasonably warm yesterday.  Then he got out of work late, left late, making me later. 6:30 pm I started applying the sealant stuff.  It went fast though and there was still a bit of sun on the deck for it to dry when I started.

First coat of Sealant finished

Fast forward to 9:00 pm, and it's still tacky to the touch...we're on hour three of four hour drying time. Sigh. I hauled it into the laundry room to discover...

One of my long blonde hairs was lengthwise in the sealant. FML.  And, it turns out that the deck isn't level and the sealant had pooled a little bit on one edge.  I KNEW this was going too smoothly.  Ha! woodworking pun! Look at me!

I took a deep breath and laid on the couch.  Tomorrow is another day, Scarlett.

Kevin worked this morning so I slept in until 8:30; which is when Lucy insists it is time to get up.  I cleaned up and we went to get coffee and treats.  Then Kevin phones that he's already on his way home.  I'm trying to get this finished, Kev. Stop messing with my schedule.

I hauled the table back outside and gathered everything up again.  Sanded, sanded, sanded. Again with the godforsaken tack cloth.  Finally, I started to apply another coat of sealant.  Turned around for a second to find...a bug flat on it's back in the wet sealant.  The universe is HILARIOUS.  I went to flick it away when I realized it was a wasp-like creature and thought better of that.  I turned to get a rag, turned back and it was gone.  Okay, all's well that ends well. I guess.

Snap sent to my BFF 

Oh, and also during this Kevin's dad goes by the house on his tractor.  I kept waiting for him to stop and ask what I was doing but he didn't.  Thank you, sweet tiny 8 lb. 6 oz. baby jesus.  For one thing, I didn't want to hurt his feelings that I was fixing changing his hard work and for the other, I don't want supervised/opinions.  

This coat went smoothly once I got started.  Now I'm waiting for it to fully dry and I will forget this project ever happened.  Probably.

Also, I mentioned to Kevin that now "we" didn't need the heavy glass on top.  No, he likes it.  He wants to keep it.  Heavy sigh.  Alrighty then.  With that knowledge, I could have left the hair, the pool of sealant, and the bug on the table and just sealed it up under the glass.  Damned missed opportunity, right there.

Meanwhile, I'm still considering refinishing that end table we were given...I need to come back and read this story and Sur La Table on the daily until that consideration stops.

Drying, mostly finished

Waiting until morning to pile all the stuff back

And...we're ignoring there is a hair from Lucy on the top.  100% ignoring it.  It will be a tribute.

Neighborhood Watch

 Yesterday early evening my phone rang.  My phone rarely rings, people know not to phone me.  The only time it rings is the parents and they have a specific ringtone. (Stewie saying Mom,Mom,Mom for my m-i-l and my mom, old fashioned ringer for my f-i-l)

Usually I ignore calls but I walked to my phone and looked just to make sure.  It was my sister-in-law, the one who lives next door.  Sigh.

I swear this is true.

"Have you seen my dad?"  Her dad lives on the other side of us, his house is visible from theirs and WUT.

I explained that I had been gone a big portion of the day so not today but Maybe? yesterday?  "All the days blend into one, I'm not sure but I think he mowed the lawn yesterday."

"Oh, okay, good." she sighs.

I will never understand this as long as I live:

"Chelsea has been trying to reach him and couldn't so she called me in a panic."  Chelsea is his grand-daughter and my s-i-l's niece.  


"Well, you should probably walk down there." I replied while throwing my hands.

Then she says: "Oh, father-in-law is going to go check after he gets back from town."  AFTER.HE.GETS.BACK.FROM.TOWN.

So, let me sum up:

It's her dad.

Well, that's it.  It's her dad and she's phoning everyone in the neighborhood/family instead of walking down there.

I hung up and was all AAUUUGGGHHH, and Kevin asked what that was about.  So I asked him "Have you seen Ben today?"  No, because Kevin works all the days.  I explained the situation to him and he was the same as I am "But, what? Why... what?"  Finally he shakes his head "I got nothing, I can't understand it either."

He was getting ready to leave and stepped outside to start his truck.  I hear him yell "I see Ben!!"  Ben was just pulling into his driveway, having returned from town.  Okay, whew, on some level.  Then he says "You should text s-i-l and let her know."

And I'm wondering...do I?  Should I?  Because again: it's your dad, walk your ass on down there and check on him.  But I did and she responds with she thinks his phone is broken because it rings twice and goes to voicemail.  Ummm....because he isn't home?

Live with your family, they said. It'll be great, they said.

14 May 2021

Like A Mother

 My relationship with Mother's Day is complicated, this has been established. This year upheld that status.  And this will be the only time you will hear me complain.

On this day, I always get a pass.  Sleep in and I choose how I want the day to roll out, separate from family celebrations.  Sit on the couch all day? sure.  Take a road trip? yep.  

It's also a day I stay off of social media.  It's exhausting seeing all the posts about something I didn't experience and am specifically excluded from.  Also, sometimes well meaning people will say I'm a Dog Mom, which I find insulting and condescending. I know, they mean well but No.

 So, I just avoid social media most of the day.  This year, when I did peek, two cousins tagged all the moms in the family to wish them Happy Mother's Day.  So that was...just, ugh.  Don't do that.  Kevin has posted on the facebook "Happy You're Not A Mom Day" to me before and it makes me laugh, even if it does make it weird for everyone else.  

We saw my mom for the first time in almost 18 months.  We timed it to arrive before the rest of the family.  Some of it was to avoid potential drama and some of it was to avoid the fact that four of the six adults choose to remain unvaccinated.  I have enjoyed not seeing my family during this whole pandemic adventure. I'm just saying.

I was quiet heading out and about halfway there, Kevin offered "How about a Happy Meal?"  When I said yes, he laughed "I knew that would help."  That's a keeper, right there.  In my meal, I got a Thelma bobble head and Kevin asked "Is that the hot one from Scooby Doo?"  WUT.  I laughed and clarified: "It's the nerd one, Thelma is the nerd one." He's all "I know."  And he says I'm weird.

I don't know what I expected but like always, with anything with my family, it wasn't what I expected.  

It was like no time had passed, like my mom had just seen me the day before.  Kevin mentioned how it felt odd to be "back" at one point and my mom seemed almost a little confused.  It occurred to me later that it was because the family continued to see each other during the pandemic, it was just me that was absent.

We've spoken about once a month over the past 18 months but I thought it was interesting that not one question was posed about our well-being, what we had been up to, anything.  And I look a little different since she saw me last: I'm the one person who lost weight during Covid, I learned how to cut my own hair and it's different than when she last saw me and I'm dressing a little differently.  Nope, nothing.  And she often comments on weight...to everyone's dismay.

She did however, refer to Dr. Fauci in a really subtle racist way.  So that's...great.  

We didn't leave in time to avoid one of my brothers.  We tried to visit for a few but when he dropped a "You can't trust *a specific race*" we left.  Yeah, so didn't miss my family.  I mean, there wasn't one moment of "Oh, this is nice."

By the time we returned home, the kids were showing up next door.  Five was already there and we went to the creek and played.  I live for these times with him, I know they're fleeting.  Especially since he's FIVE, as he will tell me. (five in years old and in succession)

Then we got to see nearly all of the kids, the bigs and the not-so-littles.  We've seen them from a distance or at the beginning of all of this but this was the first time to actually spend time.  My soul is full.  They're all taller than me now, by like a lot.  Like before, they're fun to sit and have conversations with.  When asked where they would travel, unlimited, they all thought about it.  One was Fiji, which is amazing to think about because he's the kind of kid that would make it happen.  One of the triplets asked if he could think about it, it was a big decision.  I just love how different they are.

And my niece...she's a teen now and I so empathize with her.  She's grown up similar to me (with significantly better parents though), a girl in boy world.  We discussed the key to life is to not give a sh*t about what anyone else thinks.  Then - unrelated - she scratched her name into her grandpa's picnic table.  She paused when she realized that I saw her but I just whispered "Go ahead and finish. I love it.  I got your back if he flips out."  She smiled and finished.  I kind of want to sneak down and put a sealant over it so it stays forever.  I took a photo instead. 

I got to spend time with the adult kids too, each of them individually and together.  One-on-one time is RARE and the planets aligned this year to make this happen.  We refer to the as "The Kids" as if they're ours; but only between Kevin and I.  His brother would not be happy if he knew.  I get that on some level but I also don't because he's so not a great dad.  #shutupandobetter

My point being is even though it wasn't "MY" day, it turned out to be a good day.  Time spent with the kids is always good and after being separated for so long, it added to the day.  The alternate reality that is my family surely added to my appreciation of the kids.

Then I posted photos on the social media to celebrate the day and everyone finally being together.  Like a mother.

05 May 2021

See You Later Alligator

 We had to attend a memorial Saturday.  Before you think "Oh that's sad", no, it really wasn't and for a handful of reasons.  It was for an elderly aunt who was one of those women that became mean as they aged.  Also, this family isn't big on sentimentality.  The Priest - more on that in a minute - attributed it to them being Norwegian.  This family is big on smartassery and alcohol. Finally, she passed from cancer in October so the loss isn't fresh and paired with the pandemic, most of us had already lost the connection.

Now, the location.  The cousins have property "upriver", which is exactly how it sounds.  It's in the foothills of the northern Cascade Range.  We've been there a handful of times and we get lost every.single.time.  It's like a Twin Peaks or Northern Exposure episode.  It's not like LOST lost, just take an extra turn kind of lost.  It's on a river so it's not like you can go far.

Kevin had to work but bailed early.  We were asked to arrive a little early to hang out with the cousins before everyone arrived.  We tried and succeeded, kind of.

While Kevin was in the shower, his mom phoned. I answered his phone - in case it was an emergency - and I could hear her but she couldn't hear me.  I assumed it was because his phone was still connected either to his vehicle or his earpiece.  I hung up and called her from my phone.  FIVE TRIES later I gave up. Somehow she did end up leaving a voicemail that was just her and f-i-l talking about how she can't call us.

You guys, I wonder on the regular why I haven't started drinking again.

Finally she phones me.  She is worried because they left without us.  I gestured to Kevin like WUT and he said they had made no plan for traveling together.  So I just said "Don't worry, we'll just catch up with you later."

We headed out about ten minutes later.  About five minutes into our travel, Kevin's dad phones  "Where are you?"  Now we're immediately gone to the dark place. They've crashed, they've had a medical emergency...

No, they're waiting for us off the highway because I told the mother that we would catch up with them.  She took that as we were going to chase them down and travel together.  Deep Sigh.  Kevin explained that they could just continue, we were fine.

After disconnecting, he says "It's a good thing you didn't say See You Later Alligator.  She would be all I wonder why Surely's mad at me, she called me a reptile."  Omg, his brain sometimes.

We continue on.  We get nearly there, only about ten minutes left and the phone rings again.  His dad again. "Where are you?" again. Kevin explains we're minutes away.  His dad says "I know, you just passed us. We pulled over to wait for you."  a) then why did you ask where we are and 2) why is this still a thing.


Kevin sighed heavily and pulled over, telling his dad to just drive by and we'll follow them.

I will never understand how the family makes the Simplest Thing a THING.

Oh, and his brother texted us while we were still driving "Are you there?"  I just answered No and put the phone down.  He wasn't there either so why are you texting Kevin when you know he's driving.  He didn't need anything, he was just having (literal) separation anxiety.

We get to the place, which is a nearly three acre campground next to the river.  Most of the family is already there.  And it's a little bit drunk-thirty already because that's how this family rolls.  (they are nice, they're just a little sitcom-esque)  

The priest arrives after us and as he's walking toward the group, biffs it.  Fell right to the ground. I had SO MUCH to say and couldn't say any of it.  I was already worried about being smited into a pile of ash.  I was happy for the six-foot social distancing, in this instance.

Finally everyone arrives and we gather together near the place they set up with chairs, etc.  No one wants to sit.  Everyone stands back. INCLUDING THE CHILDREN OF THE DECEASED.   Finally the priest is telling people specifically where to sit and then the cousins start chiming in.  "Surely and Kevin, come sit up front."  We both balked, because, like, no. But we did as we were told.

About two minutes into the sermon, I noticed that I'm seated next to lilacs.  I am super allergic to lilacs.  The universe is HILARIOUS sometimes.  I can't move seats, I can't get up.  I can't move the flowers.  So I just meditatively breathed as shallow as I could.  Worse case I'm a runny, sneezy mess with a wheeze.  It could look like I was mourning.

Now back to the priest. The priest was in jeans and told us that was a first for his career. Of course this family provided that opportunity.  Then he "joked" that he had told them the next event was supposed to be a wedding, baptismal, or barbecue.  This is where it gets weird because it IS a barbecue.  That also happens to have a memorial at the beginning.  Mostly it's a barbecue though.  Way to make it weird(er).

I can't remember what point he was making when he said the following, I just remember him telling us. He described how he loved his teenaged son so much, yet could still imagine him with cement blocks on his feet, floating in Puget Sound.  WUT times infinity.  I looked at Kevin and he stage whispers "Well, that was rough." and we tried not to laugh.

Kevin's brother is seated behind us and he says ALOUD "I've felt that."  Umm, sir, this is not a comedy show. SHUSH.  And the brother continued his call and response throughout the program.  What is that?

Next was the regular funeral reading of the loved ones birth and death dates, family - including a "Did I miss anyone?" AND HE DID, one of the sons.  It was the son that beaked off in my social media comments during the insurrection so maybe it wasn't a mistake.  

Sidebar: I hate how when people die, the cleryperson always makes them sound better than they were.  Stop that.  They did that for my dad and I wanted to stand and ask "How many of you thought my dad was an ass?  Show of hands."  AND, during my memorial if all y'all choose to have one: tell them I was snarky, smartassy, and a handful.  Do not sugarcoat who I am.  PROMISE.

Next up on the schedule of the program was listing her hobbies: gardening, cooking, sports, and watching F*x news.  No exaggeration: there was a murmur of APPROVAL through the group. Sigh.  That was sadder than the death, to me. 

Then he mentions that the aunt knew Loretta Lynn as a child.  I looked at Kevin with an eyebrow raise and he one-shoulder shrugged.  In thirty years with this family, I've never heard that story.  It's possible but how did that never come up before, especially when the brothers are Big Story Tellers.  I am so going to ask Uncle when he is here next weekend.

Finally the memorial was complete.  The eldest cousin had been running the music during the program and at the end, he slightly turns to the group and says "What do you want to listen to?"  Made me laugh.

This group is very republican.  They all commented about being vaccinated or not (most weren't), etc. They hate our governor, etc.   I had already made a plan for this situation.  My outs were going to be: taking photos, going to the bathroom, or "asthma".  I only had to use it once so that was a small gift from the universe.  My other was a simple comment of "That assh*le....wanting to keep us alive and stuff." in response to comments about the governor or the president.  I'm a little disappointed that I didn't get to use it.

One of the cousins is like a daughter to my mother-in-law.  I haven't been a big fan of hers but as we've aged we've found common ground.  She was uncomfortable in this setting and stayed near me. (my gawd, I need to do a family tree for this post. It's SO COMPLICATED)  She kept asking me who people were. I finally laughed and was "Denise, you've been part of this family longer than I have."  

There was an older, very handsome gentleman whom no one seemed to know.  Finally, we were told that it was the eldest cousin's bio dad.  He had found him about a year ago and they are now more family than with his actual family.  He had come to support his son and to honor the aunt.  How nice is that?  

Backstory: the aunt and gentleman had dated in high school, in a small super-churchy town.  She got pregnant, the boy's (wealthy) family wouldn't allow them to marry because the girl was poor and pregnant, so she married someone else.  This was not part of the memorial and man, that's the stuff people want to hear.  The human experience, not that she liked to garden. (Again: you can tell ALL my stories. PROMISE ME.)

Now it's time for the barbecue/party.  Everyone was eating and mingling.  I watched the crowd ebb and flow between the elderly parents, the cousins - all now in their sixties & fifties - and the younger cousins.  My dark little heart was "This is probably going to be one of the last gatherings" as I watched the patriarch of the family absentmindedly toddle around with no aim.  My m-i-l was actually in her wheelchair and with her oxygen.  There are three uncles, one of which is my f-i-l, and woo boy they are tough as nails.  Even with that, I can see how they've aged in the last year or so.  That's what I call happy/sad. Happy that everyone is together  and sad for the reason we are.

Finally, it was time to go home. Kevin mentioned he was starting to make his way to the truck and OF COURSE, his brother jumps to make sure he's ready to leave also.  Seeing this, my - slightly evil - husband slows his roll and hangs out a while.  We watched them pull out of the campsite and stayed probably another fifteen minutes.  Plenty of time for them to travel to the highway and let us alone.

We leave, we get to the main highway, and what do we see about one mile down the highway?  His brother.  He had PULLED OVER so we could catch up with him.  OFFS.  Kevin just muttered "Of course" and continued on.  I'm not even sure he waved, now that I think of it.

Once we reached "town" the option is to continue on a country highway or go through "town" to the freeway.  Kevin asked what my preference was and I chose country highway.  The words hadn't dispersed from their word bubble in the air when I caught a flash in the side mirror.  There sits his brother.  And his blinker is on.  Because why would we NOT want to have him follow us everywhere.

Here's another funny thing that Kevin will do in these instances: turn his blinker on.  He's ZERO intention of turning, he's not going anywhere.  He just quietly turns his blinker on for seconds then turns it off.  Just the thought that his brother is probably freaking out with "Where is he going? This isn't the turn? What if something is wrong?" is enough for him

So, there's a glimpse of family life in Surely's World.  I wish I could say it wasn't always like this but it is.

Also, Glenda - we speak your name.