Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Normal things in life can still be crappy

Every afternoon, when Dad was here, I would come over and we would watch reruns of Bonanza on the old kitchen TV (which was my old 1991 TV, and which I still had in the basement and brought over for him when his TV quit).

"The Cartwrights are in big trouble.  I'm not sure they'll get out of this one," he would say with a mocking look of concern. "Oh dear," I'd reply, as though it were possible that the Cartwrights would succumb to any villain.

Today, for the first time, I am watching it in his kitchen without him, to occupy myself while estate appraisers go through every, and I mean, every item in my parents' house.   This was their life.   These were the things they used, and were given for their service in church offices, and collected, and cooked with, and listened to on the CD player, and decorated with at Christmas, and read, and remembered their own parents by.  Now it's all being inventoried for "fair market value" to value the estate, as estates must be valued.

It's what happens as each generation passes, and it's normal, and it's really crappy.   I'm trying to enjoy Bonanza but I miss Dad.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The joy of our vine-covered cottage...

O yes, we love this house, but you HAVE to control those lovely vines.

Here you see what they do and why they need regular chopp-  pardon me,  regular pruning. They'll work right up under your siding and slowly ruin it.  Roof shingles as well.

The ice storm caused a lot of headaches -- more photos to come -- plus there's regular maintenance like this, and it's good, satisfying work.  I like nurturing this nifty little house.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Why do these exist?

All right, I know why.  Because they are full of funny, interesting stuff, so people buy them and almost always as gifts.

Certainly not because they are even a little useful as information, organization, or any other function a calendar supposedly fills.

So.  Does anybody know how, exactly, I can get people to never give me a  #&^%$-ing  block calendar again?

I mean, without actually using Honest Communication and telling them?  

"I really hated your previous gift, but thanks SO much, but please never give me these annoying things again, okay?"

See, I like the content of all these.  They cover topics chosen well by people who know me and my tastes well, except for the  #&^%$-ing  fact that they are  #&^%$-ing  block calendars.

I have a hard enough time with my desk as is.  Its surface is small, it's always a heap of paper and bottle caps and dried up pens and stuff I periodically search through when something is missing, and there is NO room to dedicate to a block calendar, even if I did not need to leave additional empty desktop space in front of it to wrench off and throw away yesterday's cool and entertaining page to obtain today's date, which, for heaven's sake, who does that every single day anyway?!

The content works better as a little book, to use not as a source of calendar information, but for reading a bunch, or all, of the jokes in one sitting.  Only, no, because grasping it to flip and hold up each page makes my thumb ache.  So it's not a good format for pleasure reading either.

So I put each one on a shelf and when the year is over, they go in a drawer or something, because they are so full of great cartoons or factoids that I will never look at because my thumb aches, but still, they're so great.

I can't tell people I hate these things.  I therefore propose that, to get me out of having to deal with this problem, they be banned.

OK, I suppose that's asking a lot, but could somebody change this  #&^%$-ing  bad design?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Southern Ice

We got a sprinkling of snow on top of about an inch of solid ice, in these coastal parts, and that ice is heavy stuff.

OK, I'll just use the other stairs....

Ice about an inch thick on flat surfaces.

Cardinal picks his way down the road.

Dirt roads fared better than the asphalt, but by 11 AM when I had dressed in enough layers (it was 25 degrees f.) to go out, that highway in the background was pretty clear; only with lots of meltwater puddles, which will slick up again overnight.

Unlike our previous snowstorm, it won't be back up to 40 degrees f. by noon.  It won't get above freezing today, and the whole mess will refreeze tonight.  Tomorrow it will start melting away!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Change the things you can. So we did.

Here's the lowdown on 2013:

We lost both my in-laws in 2012, my father-in-law 2 weeks before Christmas.  Christmas 2012 involved fresh grief, and was harder because of an unpleasant houseguest who simply could not comprehend that we had just had a life-changing loss, dammit. This unbalanced person became a problem through several months.

In January we were hit with a legal and personal attack (unrelated to the houseguest).  The legal is nothing, a nuisance that will go away, but the personal was so unexpected, we felt punched.

While we tried to stay emotionally balanced over this, elder daughter got sicker than she has ever been.  She nearly died twice.  We had endless trips to doctors and hospitals, we were up all night for multiple nights, and it took about 5 months to get her back on her feet.

I went to the ER six times March through November, for 4 family members including myself, in support roles 5 times, only once as the patient (It was time to give in and go back on antidepressants, and the first one gave me a supernova migraine).  We lost Dad, as you know.  The rest of us are fine.

In the middle of all this, the hurricane season loomed.  Yall have heard me stress out about the goddam things to a tedious degree.

My grandparents' 1930's laundry hamper

There was naturally a list of things we cherished.

There was also getting Dad through a storm.  Even an evacuation of a couple of days would be hard, since he needed a place without stairs, and I didn't want to load all of us and 3 fighting cats onto any dear people who would offer to house us.  If a storm damaged Dad's house, he'd need to be comfortable somewhere for...weeks?  Months?

We could do nothing about the other problems of the year except wait them out and steer into the wind.  But we had to do something to solve the one problem we could solve.

We went to our bank.  It was amenable to giving us a mortgage.  We bought a house.  Inland.

The above-mentioned personal attack made us want to keep this location a secret, so we did.  Basically, we've had the house since May.  Things are quiet, I'm tired of sitting on this, so.  There it is.

We've been in a slow moving process since summer, taking stuff we didn't want to lose to disaster, and setting up a room for Dad.  We didn't spent a night there until Christmas - the place was a heap of boxes, and a couple beds and chairs, but we realized that Christmas at Dad's house would be too painful, so we scrambled to take what we'd need to stay in the new house for a few days.  Changing the setup of Dad's room was sad.  Making it Daughter's room for the holiday was happy.

The house is still a heap of boxes.

We are in love with it.  It's quiet, it has a whole room JUST for a library, it has a walled garden for Scooter, a big train room for Larry, I will have a real room for an office.  We are both so ready to leave here.

We're all OK, including our daughter who is back living her life again, blessing of blessings.  Younger daughter was in a total car smashup - her boyfriend had to be cut out of the car - but they had only minor injuries, and that qualifies as miracle.  Blessing again.

So, 2013.  Blessed, horrible, ground us up in a meat grinder, then let us all get put back together, and at least for me, I'm not who I was. I never expected any year to worse than 1994, and you can laugh or generally be disgusted at my childishness over that.

So help me, I thought there was such a thing as "enough" for fate/Higher Power/whatever, to put us through.  Any fool could read the news and know better.  I could, in fact, read the blogs of some of my friends and know better.  We're still luckier than a lot of people.  But I've lost something that I undoubtedly needed to lose.  I don't know what exactly it is.  Stupid trust in a benevolent power?  Trust in a tendency of the universe to balance things?

One of the main reasons that we were anxious to have a place inland left us on the 29th of November when Dad passed.  There were other reasons we needed the house, but I also think about how we never expected to spend Christmas away from the coast, yet, how crucial it was to our sanity to have that house as a sanctuary for a holiday that I dreaded. Is that the Benevolent Power letting the storm play out but giving us a boat?

Maybe I will be an adult someday, and have a faith that's more like, "you can't always get what you want.  But you get what you need."  I'm sure closer than I was.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Not *quite* like popping bubble wrap...

Popping it is more fun, but, I swear, stripping off old tape from used bubble wrap is almost as satisfying.  Makes it more reusable, sure, but pulling off the tape is pleasurable anyway.  That wad of tape in the foreground is tonight's achievement.

Little things make me happy, but I need them to come along fairly frequently.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Scenes from a Christmas 2013

My mood is a little better than it was at my last post  (a post the first paragraph of which I was about to tone down, when I saw that it had gotten views already, so I left it alone, figuring if I felt tired and depleted, and it showed, then heck, the truth was out).

It was a quiet, small Christmas.  Elder daughter had a couple days off, so she was with us, and we were all away from this neighborhood and the aching absences of it.   We took the two indoor cats, since hanging around with no cats is awful. 

  How COULD you do this to us?
 It's an outrage.

They were freaked at first, in a strange place, and then quickly decided it was wonderful.

We missed Scooter, the outdoor cat, a lot, but his favorite cat sitter came over to placate him.

K Mart, late afternoon Dec 24th.  "OK, Christmas is over!  Clear that space and have it full of Valentine stuff by one minute after midnight!  Let's go, people!"
We all went to a Genuine Episcopal church Christmas Eve, and it was a really joyful service.  I roasted a turkey.  It was small and Rombauer insisted it needed a day of refrigerator thawing, for every 8 pounds of bird, but after 36 hours the 8.75 pound bird was rock hard and took a lengthy series of cold water quick-thaw procedures.  Dinner turned out pretty good.  I really hate dealing with frozen turkey.

I had time to do some thinking and a lot of vegetating.

Here's the tree, with village underneath.  The church, and the two simple houses in the background, are a village that I made in 1992.  Back then, it sat on the windowsill of my single-woman apartment, on a white pillowcase and with low watt bulbs tucked under the buildings, to make them glow out the onionskin windows.  It was cool looking and I was quite proud of it.  I wanted to use them this year, among the rest of the houses and shops we collect:

I made my buildings out of mat board.  I wanted them to last. and the walls themselves are still colorful and haven't warped, but my joining methods were pretty primitive, so they're separating and need work to tighten them back up.  When they were new, lights under them looked awesome, kind of glowing out of the plain home windows, and the stained glass window I colored for the church looked nifty.  But the stained glass is really Flair [tm] pen coloring and has faded some.

So now, internally lit, the church looks like this :

Yet that somehow seems appropriate, after all the church infighting that's gone on.  In fact it's a good illustration for the quote that's probably getting overused lately :  "There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in."