5.31.2006

Notes from the Road


The Ones I Love Most
Originally uploaded by Temmerling.


I'm back! Did you miss me?

First off, big, slobbery kisses to Plimco, Lauri, Liza, and Estelle for keeping my seat warm while I was gone. You all did wonderful jobs, in fact, I think you did better than I have ever done over here and I'm considering just turning the whole blog over to y'all and letting you continue doing the magnificent job you started.

But in the meantime...

There's a new theme over at Scheherazade, so go check it out, let youself be inspired, and start writing! Oh, and while you’re at it, you can look at the old theme and read the stories that sprang from it.

Also, I've got about half the vacation pictures I'm going to share with everyone up on Flickr. We have some film to develop and then I can get the rest up. I'll keep everyone posted.

Now that the business is taken care of, on with the real (long, of course, what else?) post...

(ahem)

Notes from the Road

1) Our baby is so perfect for us. Absolutely perfect. When she woke up at 2:30 AM during the drive to Portland, and looked around and realized that she was in the car, she laughed. She laughed with delight. “I’m sleeping in the car! Cool!” And then she drank a bottle and went back to sleep. When her eyes popped open at 6 AM and she looked around and discovered that she was still in the car, she laughed. With delight. Again. “I’m still sleeping in the car! Cool!” And then when we pulled into a greasy diner for breakfast, and she was surrounded by old truckers and even older waitresses, who all had to come over and touch her head and offer her crackers, she just flashed them her cheesiest, two-toothed grin, and gave them a chipper “Hi!” before going to back to banging her spoon and trying to figure out if Mama was being serious when she said that if the spoon hit the floor there would be no picking it back up.
2) When you’re as sleep deprived as we were after 6 months of TTC plus 9 months of worry plus 9 months of baby plus 11.5 hours of driving overnight plus 1 hour of being lost in Portland trying to find N & A’s house (my cell phone died while N was giving us directions) 5 hours of solid, non-baby-interrupted sleep can feel like a week at a spa in itself.
3) When I’m happy I eat in tiny tastes and small snacks. Life is dessert, no sugar necessary.
4) When you’re happy, it doesn’t matter if it rains every day of your vacation. You can find joy in between the raindrops, in the space between the cloudbursts, in the color of a stormy sky melting into a stormy sea, in the sound of waterdrops bulleting an immaculately raked Zen garden, in the taste of salt and sand blown into your hair and mouth and eyes, in a kite flapping (string taught) 2 feet above your head, in wet shoes and wet socks and wet pant hems, in a blister on the instep of your (wouldn’t you have guessed it?) left foot…
5) Well, maybe not in the blister. But in the fact that you got said blister while walking around a waterlogged and dripping and glowing Japanese garden while NOT AT WORK.
6) A difficult part about living in a desert is that when you’re not in said desert, the humidity in the air makes you feel as if you’re sweaty and clammy all the time. It makes you feel like you’re hotter than you are and that you need to take a shower twice a day. And then it rains. And a shower is provided you. And everything is beneficent. And you realize that places other than desert are beautiful, too, even if the air is thicker than it should be.
7) The Most Un-Fun Thing Ever™: Changing a dirty diaper on a baby on a wind-swept and rainy beach. If you put the towel and the baby on the packed (i.e., wet) sand, the baby will get uncomfortably wet. If you put her on the dry (i.e., easily blown into eyes) sand, the wind will blow the sand everywhere. And it will stick to various sticky, baby surfaces including, but not limited to, the surface you were trying to clean, the various orifices of a baby’s face, and every moist piece of skin, which, thanks to the humid air and the rain, is EVERY exposed piece of skin. Oh, yeah, and all her clothes. Super fun, that!
8) The Tree House was so enjoyable. Being able to unpack and knowing we were staying put for 7 days (we normally vacation in a rather footloose and wandering way) was heavenly. The beach house was wonderfully provisioned with more than ample amounts of linins and towels. It was light and comfortable and clean. It was walking distance to the beach, but not right on it. It was walking distance to the main street and its row of shops, but not right next to it. It was secluded but not isolated. It was heaven.
9) Manzanita is simply the cutest town on the northern Oregon coast. We heard that Manzanita is what Cannon Beach was like 20 years ago. Let’s pray that 20 years from now they can’t say the same thing.
10) I’ve talked before about how Julia is a very schedule resistant child. And while it’s mostly true, we can’t get her on a reliable schedule to save your life, we did discover on this trip that she is on a schedule of sorts: no matter when she went to bed the night before, or how many naps she had, her eyes pop open at exactly 6 AM every morning. When you’re vacationing on the Pacific coast, this means that her eyes open at exactly 5 AM. Every. Morning. Thank goodness she is amenable to going back to sleep a mere two hours later.
11) A true friend is one who, when you stumble bleary-eyed out of your bedroom holding a chipper, jabbering macaw, will say, “you wanna go back to bed?” while her partner (also a true friend) practically bounces out of their bedroom to relieve you of said macaw allowing you to go back and snuggle and sleep with your wife until an unheard of 11 AM.*
12) There really is such a thing as too much soup. You should not make a big pot of chili on the same night that you make a big pot of corn chowder. 6 people (especially when one of them is existing on tiny tastes and small snacks and happiness alone) simply cannot eat that much. You will end up eating soup for every meal the rest of the week.
13) Before your child has cut all of his or her teeth never leave home without teethers. NEVER. Julia popped out 3 teeth on this trip. Complete surprise to us that they were coming. Even the doctor she saw for her 9 month well baby check-up (just two days before we left for Oregon) remarked that it didn’t look like she was going to get more teeth any time soon. Thank god we brought her baby Tylenol and her homeopathic teething tablets.
14) It doesn’t matter if everyone else thinks that your baby is the most easy going and happy baby on the planet. YOU know when your baby is unbelievably cranky; even if you can’t yet determine the cause (see number 13).
15) Other things Julia accomplished on this trip:
a. Learning to pick her nose
b. Saying “mama”
c. Saying “Hi Mama” (Ha ha! FIRST SENTENCE at 9 MONTHS!!)
d. Saying “dog”
e. Pulling up on furniture
f. Not crawling (we really thought she’d do this, but she seems content just scooting around on her butt)
g. Charming the pants off every person who got to meet her
h. Feeding goats
i. Eating goat food
j. Eating Spicy Tofu off mama’s chopsticks
k. Figuring out how to hold three plastic piglets all at the same time. (This took some concentration as her hands are only big enough for one piglet at a time)
l. Giving kisses (so cute her little “mwah”s!)
m. Giving kisses when asked. (I asked her for kisses one day and she looked at me quizzically for a moment and then comprehension lit her eyes and she leaned forward and give me a big smack on the cheek and then laughed and did it again and again)
n. Just being a big ole’ cutie. Even when she was being a grouchy teething grumps.

16) If you get a chance to meet Sasha and M., take it! They are a lot of fun.
17) Afternoon naps are the bomb!
18) Though the fact that many stores are closed or have very limited hours can be inconvenient, vacationing off season is so much more peaceful and enjoyable than vacationing with the masses. We had the beach and town to ourselves most of the time.
19) I have seen the Nadir of Unfairness and it is this: There Is No Trader Joe’s In Utah. They promise that they’re coming here soon, but I’m sure they lie. They won’t be able to sell liquor or wine here.
20) If you walk into Trader Joe’s like you’ve just been touched by God (blissful face, arms outstretched, exclamations of ecstasy on your lips) and then proceed to walk reverently around the store, touching things gently and showing them to your partner in wonder, people don’t seem to give you a second look. It must be a common occurrence.
21) Now that I’ve seen all the Big Loves currently out (we watched a lot of TV on this trip – a treat, since we don’t have TV at home) I can tell everyone that Big Love is to Mormon Polygamy in Utah as that popular TV show about the White House is to the current US Administration.
22) When you’ve been stuck in a tiny apartment in Portland watching TV all day because it’s raining so hard you’re afraid the deluge will sweep you away, there’s nothing better than escaping to take a night-time driving tour of the city. You won’t see much, but the bridges are pretty, and you’ll still see more than if you’d stayed holed up in the apartment.
23) If you stop at a Shari’s at Midnight, and order pancakes, fries, and a side salad all for yourself, the young waiter will, when he comes to clear your dishes, exclaim in surprise that you managed to eat so much food (I guess he didn’t see everyone sharing N’s fries and me stealing one of her pancakes) and suggest that you might really enjoy the Mongolian BBQ around the corner because the one time he went there he ate so much his stomach hurt for 3 hours. After you leave your stomach will hurt for 3 hours because you and your friends laughed so hard.
24) If a young waiter who just expressed surprise at how much food you and your friends just managed to eat in one sitting offers to bring your baby a free cookie, do not be surprised if the cookie is as big as her head and stuck on a Popsicle stick.
25) If you have a really cute baby, restaurant people will bring you all kinds of free food (it happened over and over on vacation, people bringing free food for our baby).
26) You really should pay attention to the instructions on how to fill out a lottery ticket. Kristin didn’t do this when she filled out the Win For Life ticket. Instead of buying one 12 dollar ticket, she bought SIX 12 dollar tickets (in addition to the $10 powerball ticket and the $6 Megabucks ticket). Apparently, the look on my face when I realized that the man was telling us that we owed him 88 DOLLARS was priceless. So far, we’ve won $2 back. Wahoo!!
27) The most expensive thing on our trip (besides the house rental) wasn’t the gas, it was the fact that our littlest dog, Oliver, got deathly ill while we were gone, resulting in a $250 vet bill. And the bill was only that small because Kristin got on the phone to the vet, told them that it had to be that he had gotten into the compost pile and they needed just to give him antibiotics and stop running all the expensive tests on him. The Vet (under duress) gave him the antibiotics (along with an IV bag of fluids and a heap of other medications) and sent him home without running any more tests. Oliver had, of course, gotten sick AFTER our normal vet was closed for the Memorial Day weekend…
28) It is extremely unpleasant to come home to a house that has had a sick dog in it. Even though the house-and-dog-sitter did her best to clean the carpets, she couldn’t get ALL of the mess out of our sisal rug, and there are depressingly large stains on our new basement carpet.
29) The better the vacation, the deeper the post-vacation depression when you get home. This was possibly the best vacation we’ve ever had; can you imagine how deep the depression today is?
30) I need to change my life. Like the frog that didn’t jump out of the pot of boiling water because it heated up so slowly, I have allowed myself to be miserable for too long. I just couldn’t see it until I was out of it. But, people, I was doing running pirouettes on the beach, breaking into song, laughing in rain, nothing phased me, nothing threw me, for DAYS I was blissful and easy-going, and at peace. Able to enjoy my partner and my baby and my friends and just being in the world. It’s been so long. Now if I could just hold to that certainty and reclaim the power that I have within me to affect great change within my life and create something beautiful and livable…

*Lauri and Benji have also done very similar things in the past, just to give them props, too.

5.30.2006

By Request....

I blog for Trista today.
She claims to have sent me a blog invite before she left. But she lies. Oh how she lies.
Actually, she probably did. And it ended up somewhere where all the other emails go. Damn AOL.
So I have been sulking all week that the other bloggers got to be Trista for a day and I didn't. So she emailed me this morning in the midst of her back-to-work-why-oh-why-did-I-ever-go-back-to-work-why-can't-I-be-rich-in-money-not-love-don't-give-me-that-rich-in-love-crap-I-want-the-money-dammit-and-live-on-a-deserted-island-and-eat-cookies-all-day haze and asked me WHY I have not blogged for her.
Because she didn't invite me. Duh.
To which she professes her undying love and swears that she DID invite me. That she would NEVER leave me out because she simply cannot LIVE without me and does not want to risk my wrath lest I...

Where was I going with this?

Okay, I am blogging. Because she asked me to. Because she is so busy at work and just cannot do it herself. Because I am her go to gal. Email me for all her deep dark secrets!

My name is, of course, Estelle. Come ON people, I know you knew who this was just by the beginning paragraph. Don't tell me you had to actually read this far to know who was writing? For shame bloggers. For shame.

I met Trista back when Kristin was pregnant. She had been commenting on my blog a lot and every time I checked her profile, I could not get past the "Salt Lake City, UT" part so I judged a blogger by their location and never wrote back. Um, not that I had an email address or anything.
I periodically checked her blog, and then had a kid. So I didn't do much but look at, photograph, write about, and talk about said kid. Oh, and sometimes I fed him too. Then eventually she breaks out her "But I had a baby too!!!!" whine and I came over to check out that baby. And from then on I was hooked.
Eventually we began emailing and it was love at first kilobyte. Then we began chatting on the phone and that was that.

Trista Rocks.

Enough about Trista. Like you all don't know every little thing about her already.

This is reprinted without her permission about what she would like me to blog about.


How about you write about what a wonderful person I am and how cute my baby
is? That’s what I do. All the time: wonderful me, wonderful
baby.

Ok, ok, maybe that doesn’t work for everyone.
You can write about what you think I did on my vacation. You could go to
the Scheherazade project and write on this week’s theme (oh, maybe you want to
save that for your own blog) . You could build on Lauri’s post on home and
how the concept of home relates to you – you could even tie that with the
upcoming remodels to your own house (which would tie it in with my never-ending
remodel saga). I like to talk about breasts, you could bring that subject
up again… did you ever blog about your waking up dead? What was the
scariest thing that ever happened to you as a child? Have you ever
encountered a ghost? Have you ever poked something that you shouldn’t
have?

Hmmm.... she is a WONDERFUL person. She is funny and kind and smart and sexy (oops, did I type that out loud?) and just an all around great gal.
Her baby is WONDERFUL. Simply fabulous. She is exactly one week younger than my simply fabulous baby. However, if you consider that MY baby was 3 weeks late and (I think) Julia was three weeks early, well, they're not that close in age anymore. So let's pretend that's not the case, shall we? Julia and Charlie are one week apart. And, although Trista and I would NEVER admit it, we compare the two. So when she tells me Julia is doing long division, I rush home with workbooks and number two pencils for Charlie and try to have him work out 1034 divided by 69.7. And when I tell her that Charlie just finished his third marathon and came in second, she buys Julia little baby Nikes and makes her ass hit the treadmill.

But neither of us will ever admit that. Nope. And since I started that paragraph saying that I would never admit it, then I didn't actually admit it. I just stated that it might be a remote possibility that might occasionally happen sometimes, but doesn't. Nope. No confessions there.

I don't do the whatever the hell it's called project because I don't. Because I just haven't yet. Not because I don't think it's cool. Probably because I'm pissed that she tapped into my brain waves YET AGAIN and stole my idea AND the exact same name. I was gonna start that club man!

Home... let's see. My home is, at this point, very sanitary. We have to keep it hospital sterile so the little guy doesn't get sick again. DO we keep it hospital sterile? We try really hard to. But we're not perfect. And sometimes we slip up. Luckily he seems okay with that. Although it is quite cluttered, even if it IS clean. It's because we live in St. Pete, where houses typically sell for $250 a sf and up... and though we bought at a good time, we still couldn't afford much. So our house is small (about 1100 sf) and our lives are... big. Plus I have a LOT of car seats and, well, they take up room. And we have two big dogs. And three cats. And a really cute kid with way too many toys because Mrs. Amy's mom kicks ass and is always buying him way better things than we do. Eventually he is going to ask to move in with her.
Oh, but my house will soon have an addition. Thanks to an incredible builder who is just way too kind for words. We had one of his men out to our house to give us an estimate on adding on to the back and building a sunroom. Well, his estimate was mucho too higho. So, I told him that. And that started a strange and lovely journey to him being the nicest man on earth and falling in love with my little boy with no skin (at the time) who lives in FL but has to stay out of the sun as much as possible. So he decided he HAD to build that little boy the room and is doing it for free. Wowser. Still not completely over the shock.
But our house has one aspect that sucks... you can only get to the backyard through a bedroom. Not a big deal for US, but if we have parties and such... it's just not cool. And so we'll only be able to get to this new room through HIS bedroom. Because our bedroom doesn't have windows, only doors to the back yard. And no windows can be put in because we don't have an outside wall besides the one with the doors (the other walls belong to the hallway, the kitchen, and the master bath). His bedroom also has no windows (just the doors) but we can put a window in his room because he has an exterior wall. So we have an egress issue. Which means his room accesses the sunroom, and ours just has to do with a covered porch. Unless we can think up something else. But that's another story.
But, overall, I like our house. It's small, but it does the trick. We thought about moving to Tampa where is it WAY cheaper and we could get a huge house for the price we paid for ours, but decided against it. Even though I occasionally hate living on an island, for the most part I like where we live.

I like breasts as well. Although my wife's currently produce milk and are thus off limits to me, and mine have no feeling in them. So boobs aren't a big deal around my house, unless you happen to derive your nutrition and/or comfort from them. Though Charlie does, for some reason, have really dry nipples. All of his skin is dry, but his nipples just seem drier...
I have, in fact, blogged about the time I woke up dead, so I cannot blog about it again. But it is a funny story. Go read it.

Scariest thing as a child... hmm... I have no clue. When I was 2 years old my Uncle Terry (who lives in a tree) decided that he was sick of my water wings. So I was swimming in our pool happy as can be, when he came up behind me with his pocket knife and slashed them. I freaked out and he told me "If you wanna live, you'll figure it out." Now, most people would say that it was just 'tough love' and that he would never have let me drown. Um... I'm not sure. He might have.
I also remember being about six and running from a cow in our back pasture. I was NOT supposed to fuck with the cows, but I did. And Ole' Bessie got pissed and chased us (I had a few friends with me). It would have been okay except I wasn't really watching where I was going and slipped in a pile of cow shit. The cow still didn't get me, but it was one of the grossest things I've ever done!

I don't believe I have ever encountered a ghost. But I am open to the experience if you know any who might want to visit me.

I think every lesbian has, at some point, poked something she shouldn't have. I am no exception. However, my poking did not cause marital discord.

I think I covered it. She also told me that I could blog about what I thought she did on vacation. So I will.

I think the drive sucked. Julia probably cried most of the way. I tried to talk Trista into a new car seat before leaving, but she didn't listen.
Eventually though Julia calmed down. When they got to their destination, she was sound asleep and they did NOT want to wake her. So they drove to McDonald's and got something to eat. Trista has a grilled chicken sandwich with medium fries and a Sprite. Kristin had McNuggets, no fries, and a chocolate milkshake. They pretended to have Steve drink the milkshake. Then they laughed. And Julia woke up. So they were on their way again.

The first full day of their vacation they found a hole in the wall restaurant/gift shop that they ate at EVERY NIGHT for the rest of the vacation. Trista was quite fond of their blueberry pie. They bought tacky souvenirs and a t-shirt for Julia that she promptly puked on.

On the third day, they left Julia with friends so that they could have some time alone. Unfortunately Trista twisted her ankle and ended up having to go back to the house and watch Brady Bunch reruns. Kristin retrieved Julia (no use wasting the babysitting!) and took her to a local toy store where she purchased an oversized blue kitten with a hideous green bow.

By the fifth day, the ankle was better and Julia was deposited with said friends again. Kristin and Trista walked around and played "What kind of underwear is that person wearing" for hours. I'm beginning to think that they are quite boring people.

The drive home was uneventful. Julia slept this time. Trista and Kristin ate Funyons and drank Big Gulps and counted NY license plates.

A good time was had by all.

I'll leave it to her to tell you what she discovered when she got home.


And that is it. I have blogged.

5.28.2006

Because Trista Will Be Home Soon, and It Is Okay for Guests to Discuss Their Guest-ness

It is a little bit hard to be a guest blogger. I thought it would be easier, because I read Trista's blog, and I know Trista, and sometimes I stalk Trista. You know, in a friendly way. In an admiring way. I thought, I can do this.

I am just barely starting my own blog. On it, I don't know what to say. Can I post a part of a bad "poem" I wrote? Shouldn't there be some sort of cohesive thread pulling all of my posts together? I don't know; and that's with my own blog. So here, as a guest, I think, I shouldn't write that, that doesn't make sense, that doesn't fit here.

Today I have been thinking about the notion of home. I went on a bike ride, and here in Iowa the temps are in the 90's and the air is thick (weather page says 63% humidity). As the summer wears on, it will get more humid, stay this hot.

I was born in Idaho, moved to Iowa when I was eight. At eight, I breathed in this heavy air and thought, this is not mine. Maybe once during the next fourteen years did I think of Iowa as home. Iowa was hot and humid and lonely and, sometimes, so cold your bones feel frozen, so cold you feel like you could break. So, for fourteen years I longed for the west, defined myself by mountains and dryness and evergreens. When I got married, my husband and I were both planning on continuing with school and I pushed heavily for Utah, and that's where we ended up.

And then something strange happened. I found the brown a little bit depressing. When we visited Iowa in the summer, I found the green here surprising and wonderful and alive. Now that we're living here again, I feel like I'm home, although I feel it grudgingly and with some disbelief. It is hard to find our that you are not who you think you are.

These are the definitions of home, according to the Concise Oxford English Dictonary (what did I do before I had this installed on my computer?): where one lives, where one is free from attack, where one flourishes or originates, the finish, correct position, instictual territory, focus.

There are a lot of implications, a lot of ideas, a lot of places where someone could find a home, or fail to. Sometimes I don't feel at home in my body, in my extended family, in my various places of work. I almost always feel at home with my husband, with my sister, with my parents. What is interesting is how we try to make little homes, want to feel at home in places.

In my last post, I was writing about my first trip back to Utah. When I flew into town, I felt like a visitor. Driving around town felt like deja vu, like I was viewing the city through mirrors, like I had heard about it but not lived there for three years. But when I was twenty-three, I knocked on the door of a house that I'd played at as a kid, the house of a girl who I'd been best friends with until I was eight and hadn't seen since I was twelve, and talking to her parents felt so natural that I kept thinking about the red lipstick we used to put on before we played My Little Ponies.

My favorite movie when I was a kid was The Last Unicorn. In it, the last unicorn is transformed into a woman in order to save all of the other unicorns. While she is a woman, she begins to forget what it is like to be a unicorn, she falls in love; and when she becomes a unicorn again, she cannot forget what it is like to be a woman. When I was a chubby kid, I used to wonder what it felt like to be thin, what sitting on the couch or walking down the street felt like; and when I was thin, I remember thinking that it felt like nothing. Nothing felt disappointing then, but now I know that nothing was also a nice way of not wondering, not wishing.

I started college as pre-vet. I liked science, liked animals, liked the idea of being able to take care of things. I was very interested in all of that. But what kept me up at night was reading, or writing really, really bad poetry that I meant so much and felt so hard that sometimes I would just sit there and hold on to that feeling while Simon & Garfunkel played on the CD player. Suffice to say, almost eight years later, I am not a vet.

I have a long history of not feeling at home, and of misunderstaning home, and denying it. I don't feel at home now, writing this. I feel stupid, thinking, why would these people who read Trista's blog care about me? But, if nothing else, I bet that at least some of you know what I mean, that it is so hard sometimes to decipher what should and could be very easy if we could accept ourselves a little better.

There is a moment, bike-riding in Iowa on one of these hot and humid days, that you feel a little break, that a breeze catches your body and you take a deep breath; and, though you might have been miserable, suddenly you feel peaceful because youre body is moving and the breeze is blowing and even though the air is heavy, you feel okay, because it is something that is surrounding and touching you, and you feel like you must be part of something and connected. In those moments, you sink into your body a little bit, and it feels good.

5.26.2006

Grace


This picture serves two purposes: 1) we can get cute-Julia-pic fix even when Trista isn't here, and 2) photo Friday.

Moments of grace. This is something I think about a lot. But let me back up.

I am afraid of babies. Always have been. And then I left Utah, my friends had one of these baby-creatures; and six months later, with much fear and excitement, I met her. And she was so beautiful. But on day one, we mostly eyed each other with curiosity and no small amount of suspicion, she with her small furrowed brow when she looked at me --and let me tell you, this expression can break your heart -- and I staring and smiling but too afraid to hold her very long.

Day 2: more smiles on her part, less fear on mine. I held her a little more. Talked to her a little bit. Made faces and noises and generally made a fool of myself, which is also how I get adults to like me.

And then. Day 3. This picture is Day 3. On Day 3, we became friends. In this picture, she is smiling at me. And I sort of fell in love with her.

Backing up some more, though. The day before my trip, my grandfather underwent a seven-hour surgery to remove a canerous lung. The procedure was supposed to take two hours, and was only supposed to remove one section of the lung; but there were complications, and by the time his surgery was over he was alive and full of other people's blood. I almost didn't take this trip to Utah, but I went because I was meeting with my thesis chairperson and my grandfather was relatively stable.

What I'm trying to say is that in the backdrop of this picture is worry and fear -- about my granfather, my thesis, graduation. But all we see is this happy child, and so the picture itself becomes a moment of grace, a sweet spot tied up in those memories. The trip itself -- staying with good friends -- was a moment of grace as well in the midst of all of that worry. Holding my grandfather's hand in the hospital, walking in the park with a kind professor, finally not being (that) afraid of a baby -- all of these things remind me to be thankful for the gifts I've received.

Babies and Old People

I love babies and old people. Anybody in between? I have nothing to say to you. Once you hit 12, you are dead to me until your 75th birthday.

You know, I'm going to be honest with you. I've felt really intimidated and shy about posting here on Accident for stupid reasons.

I don't have a baby. I don't feel like I'm in the club. The close knit baby club. The club one can only get into if one has a child, has given birth to a child, or is attempting to become pregnant with child. I have no clue what that's like. I'm not sure that I'll ever want to.

So, I haven't really been sure how to give to this place, you know? What I have to offer. Why you all would find interesting anything that I had to say... So I've been writing about boogers and dancing cow girls.

But, you know what? I COULD give birth to a baby. If I WANTED to. I got me some eggs. I got me a womb. Shit. I'm practically TWINS with you pod people.

I've also wanted to challenge myself to write one of those classic Trista posts where she goes in those intricate circles of diatribe and discovery and touches on so many different questions and answers and fears and home improvement and poetry... How the hell does she do that?

I was a baby once. I had jaundice. I was a little yellow baby. My mother's doctor told her that sunshine was the best cure. I spent the first weeks of my life naked on the windowsill in my mother's kitchen...soaking up the sun. I like that. I like thinking back to my baby self happy and naked on the windowsill. Greeting life and sun and warmth.

One of my uncles used to say that if he had any time on his hands, he liked to think back. He liked to make himself remember what he was doing last week, last month, a year ago, 10 years ago. He said sometimes he'd get to remembering so much that he'd go back as far as when he was two. One time, he said, and he may have been full of shit, but he said he thought back and back and remembered being a baby in a cradle. He saw the mobile above his head... He thought back further... Things went black. Dark and warm and he heard a heart beat. He said he got scared and stopped himself from going any further.

I'm not sure what this has to do with anything other than my contest to myself to write a big ol classically lengthy Trista post, but. I guess... Well. We remember, you know? Whatever your little baby is doing right now be it discovering his new feet or eating some green pureed whatever baby food or swimming around in your tummy. There is a brain there and that brain will remember. Touch. Sound. Feeling. Color. Warmth. Voice....

Sunshine and skin.

5.24.2006

In Praise of Nose Picking

*peers around*

Liza here, feeling guilty for not having guest blogged yet, even though I was all excited about the idea when Trista asked for volunteers.

It's a little bit intimidating to take on entertaining someone else's audience -- what if I say something stupid, and it reflects badly on Trista? But today, reading Plimco's wonderful post about a somewhat embarassing moment of nose picking in traffic, made me remember that the whole point of blogging is to expose your embarassing moments to the world. I owe it to Trista to share something similarly real for the entertainment or boredom of Accident readers.

I actually love the idea of filling Trista's blog with stories of nose picking in traffic, so I'll share mine.

Back when I lived in Washington DC, I was stopped at a light at the intersection of 20th & Constitution, NW one evening, waiting to turn left towards home. Next to me, waiting to turn right towards Virginia, was a car full of 20-ish year old guys.

I noticed them, because they were frantically waving at me, and picking their noses with gigantic, exaggerated affect. All of them. And pointing at me.

Yup, sure 'nuff. I was spacing out at the traffic light, picking my nose. To the intense amusement of some GWU frat house, no doubt.

What I wish I had done was exaggeratedly pick back, or do something else weird and gross and funny. But I was too embarassed. Instead, I turned bright red and pretended -- for the entire incredibly long traffic light -- that I didn't see what they were doing.

Also, back in the 5th grade, my nickname was Booger Girl. I have a long and rich history of nose picking.

What about you?

Booger Hunt

Yesterday I was in traffic. I pick my nose when I'm in traffic...sometimes. I let this car pull in my lane in front of me. Doop do doop do doooo...pickin' away listening to the radio. Bumper to bumper... Then I see movement in the back seat of the car I let in front of me. This very sweet old lady is waving enthusiastically to me in gratitude for my kindness to fellow motorists.... Then she sees that I'm picking my nose. She stops waving.

That was sort of embarrassing.

5.22.2006

A Post in which I Relate an Anecdote and Various Praise for Trista, Because I'm Pretty Sure That's What Guest Bloggers Are Supposed to Do

1) Praise: Have you had Trista's salsa? Even so-called "bad" batches are so good that you *might* go through two pints a week. You *might* try to find new types of food on which to dump said salsa, because you no longer like eating food without it. Except chocolate. And cake batter.

2) Praise: When Trista crochets with you, and your blanket is getting too big and too crooked, she will hint that it might be time to quit, that maybe you have a problem if you just can't stop. And she offers good advice: if it's crooked, stretch the short end to match the long end.

3) Anecdote: We are sitting in the empty living room of my newly-rented duplex. We are eating pita chips and sitting on the floor. We are talking about people with a particular hairstyle that we both find humerous. She is talking about an old friend of hers who sported such a style. And then she says, "Well, she would have been my friend, but she turned out to be crazy."

4) When you come to visit, Trista will dress her baby in pink, because she knows you like pink.

5) Praise: Trista will welcome you, your dog, and sometiems both, into her home when it happens that you're in need of it. That's just plain nice:)


I definately have more praise, and I haven't even started with the *Starship Battlefield* Game anecdotes, but this is a start. And Kristin, I know you're in on more than one of the praise sections; so get your own blog, and I will praise you too:)

*ANNOUNCEMENT*

This is really not that big of a deal, but I figured this was the best place to announce such things and I don't have a baby nor do I plan on procreating any time soon so I can't talk about that, so here goes....

Ahem.

I have been asked...to dance...as a cowgirl...at an all girls Pride block party in June. I get to wear my cowgirl boots and dance on a block in a short skirt. I've also been promised a lasso. I'm very excited.

Yee haw.

Keys to T's

Crrreeeeeeeeeeaak....

She walks in hesitantly, cautiously... Her footsteps echo through the empty house.

Clip... Clop...

Clip.... Clop...

Eyes fall on a partially almost finished beautifully renovated kitchen containing such culinary morsels as mint chutney and cinnamon Life cereal.

Helllooooooooo??? Anybody home?

Nope. They're definitely gone. On vacation. Pin a rose on their nose.

(Pause while I go find the mythical shower that supposedly can fit 4 adults comfortably... and dance around in there for a minute or two... Then I have an announcement to make.)

5.19.2006

this is an audio post - click to play

Well, they're wearing hats, anyway


For my guest Photo Friday spot, my digital camera isn't working (umm, I think it's the batteries?), so I have to use an old picture. Here's what you need to know.
1) We'd just climbed a mountain. This is the top.
2) That's my husband on the left and my dad on the right.
3) Although they are pointing, there is nothing there. This is my favorite picture pose, where it looks like the photo is missing the huge thing going on just outside of the picture.

See, the hats are important because the bills run parallel to their arms, and the pointing.

5.18.2006

Apparently, I'm getting married today

I wonder who's the lucky woman?

Ok, I admit it, I used an engagement ticker for my vacation. Did you know how extrememly limited the world of tickers are? Veeeeeeeery limited. Oh well. It did its job. Plimco, did you catch the spot counting?

Oh my god, peeps! I am so excited! I am in such a good mood! I am completely overusing the exclamation point!!!!!!!

Seriously. I was all depressed and tired and blah yesterday. But today... today I feel great. I woke up in a better mood that I have in a looooooooong time. It may be that I got to sleep most of the night. But I think it's that I'm GOING ON VACATION. I feel so rested and happy, as if I have been on vacation. Maybe I went on vacation in my dreams last night? A little pre-vacation vacation. Maybe it's true that a great deal of the pleasure of things comes from the planning and anticipation of them. Whatever it is, it's marvelous. I am planning on only working a half day and then going home to sleep, but I'm so keyed up I may not be able to sleep.

Kristin and I haven't been on vacation in two years. Not since we set out to fly to Ecuador and ended up on a road trip in California. That was just after the tragic, untimely death of Eddie. The trip was good, but not as good as it could have been, what with not being in Ecuador and having just lost Eddie. Last summer we went to the Oregon coast, too. But we both resolutely do not consider that a vacation. Since we were going there for Kristin's Dad's funeral. And it was just a few days after Kristin was placed on modified bed-rest for extremely high blood pressure and told that if she didn't get her blood pressure down the baby would be very premature. Oh yeah, and I was unemployed and not having a good job search. It was great times. We haven't even been camping in two years. So you can see that this trip is WAY overdue.

Well, I've got a butt-load of things to do. I have to clean my desk, schedule some testimony, straighten out a dental-insurance snafu, write up a to-do list for the house-and-dog-sitters, finish the laundry, clean our entire house, change the sheets on the guest bed, load up the ipod with music for the trip, call Sacha and M to give them details (they're going to meet us for a few days) do several little, gimpy* happy dances, and sleep up for the 12 hour overnight drive.

In my absence, I've turned An Accident of Hope into a collaborative blog project. Lauri, Plimco, Estelle, and Liza have all agreed to post here on occasion. I'm sure they'll take good care of you. And, no promises because who knows what cell-phone reception will be like, but I may make a few audio posts.

Be well.

5.17.2006

Sucks to be my left leg right now.

Ok, a work story.

This morning I put a skirt on for work. A flirty, brown, mens-wear skirt with an assymetrical hem. And my cute shoes. But no nylons or tights. I hate nylons and tights. I only like thigh-highs. LOVE thigh-highs. But not the ones with the rubber at the top. No, only real ones with garters.

Anyway, I was bare-legged. And I went to get the Fed-ex delivery. And there was a big box. Not a heavy box, just big. So I went to carry it to the desk of the secretary of the guy whom it was for. And I was carrying the box in my arms and I couldn't see my feet. Or the floor in front of me. On anything stacked on the floor in front of me. And when I walked (briskly! because I have other things to do that carry boxes everywhere!*) around his desk suddenly there was an impediment to my forward motion there. I tripped, people. HARD. And I went sprawling, dropping my box, scattering the huge stack of files that I had tripped over, twisting my hip to keep my chin from hitting the inconsiderately-stacking-files-on-the-floor-person's desk, and my left knee made contact with the floor first, hard, and then skidded on the industrial carpet. And then the rest of me hit the carpet. And I couldn't help myself, but I went "owie, owie, owie" just like a four year old, and I picked myself up and started limping around trying to pick all the files up. And you wanna know something? Even though I made a considerable amount of noise what with all the files scattering and the boxes falling and my crying like a child, NO ONE moved the five feet to see what had caused all the noise and crying, and so NO ONE even asked me if I was ok.

So, then, I pick everything up and I look at my knee, and there's no skin on it, and it's swelling and purple, and blood is starting to ooze. So I start hobbling to the first aid kit, and I'm holding my skirt away from my knee to keep blood from getting on it and because the brushing of the fabric on my knee was exquisitely painful. And I get to the first aid kit and grab bandaids and anti-biotic ointment and betadine solution and start walking back to my desk, when this person who is kinda my supervisor but mostly not sees me and says:
Hey, can you come help us move all these boxes to the basement?

And because I was in a kind of shock, I helped them, putting my first-aid stuff on my desk and hobbling with an armfull of boxes (still holding my skirt above my damaged knee) down to the basement and back.

My knee really, really hurts. It's deeply bruised and crusty.

THEN, when I was home, and limpily carrying Julia to her nursery to change a poopie diaper, I hit my toe on one of the exposed nail-studded boards in our home where there was a wall. The same exposed, nail-studded board that Kristin cut her foot on a week ago and that we're sure has now given her tetanus. Yup. Same damn board. Probably same damn nail. Now there's a big chunk of my left big toe missing and I probably have tetanus. I can't bend my left knee, my left hip is throbbing, and now it hurts to step on my left foot.

But none of that matters, because I'm going on vacation, damn it! And all that left leg needs to do is operate the clutch. And if I have to, I'll get a stick to do that for me.

*not really

Oh yeah, and...

Lauri has a blog now. Go check her out! (no pressure, Lauri)

Spreading more smooshy blog love

You know, when I say the word "Blog" aloud, and I do, all the time around me it's "blog, blog, blog", anyway, when I say the word "blog" aloud, it always makes me think of bog.

I know. Not terribly original, I'm sure. I mean, probably all of you say the word blog and have images of strangled, tanned mummies, with emaciated, smooshed faces. You say the word blog and Paris Hilton comes to mind. I know, it's old, I'm sorry.

But still, besides seeing the face of Paris Hilton when I say the word "blog" and hear the word "bog", I also think of Florida. Because of all the swamps. I've never been to Florida, but I understand that it's just chock full of swamps. Or maybe that was Louisiana. Oh well, they're both peninsulas, right? Same thing.

I don't know if the following bloggers all live in the bogs I think of them in (people on flat-bottomed boats with the big fans in the back, all hooked up to little wireless laptops, typing away with moisture-wrinkled fingers while dogs' barks echo strangely through the creepy moss-covered mandrake trees) but they all live in Florida, so they may as well, right? (I speak facetiously here, I don't really equate ALL of Florida to swampland. It's just it's so humid there and it's just so dry here, that I really do think that if I were ever to go there I would need a diving helmet to be able to breathe. Seriously, do you people all have gills???)

Kiker of I Wonder as I Wander definitely does not have gills. Unless they're located on places other than her head, neck, and feet. Because I have seen many pictures of her head, neck, and feet and there are no gills there. There are, however, cute toes, sparkly eyes, and an infectious smile. Which is appropriate since Kik is very cute, sparkly, and infectious. And I mean infectious in a good way. She is also my hero. Because she biked 75 miles through the hot syrup air of Florida. Even though she wanted to quit. Even though for a good chunk of that she was alone. Even though no one would have thought badly of her had she quit. She didn't quit. I was not surprised, though, because Kik is a fighter. A fighter of the best kind. A woman who fights for her beliefs and her God. And the fact that I (Wiccan, sometime Unitarian, bearer of uncountable scars inflicted by "Christians") can write in praise and (platonic, internetian) love of a woman who is a passionate Christian soldier should speak volumes about what kind of passion, Christianity, and soldiering this woman does.

And she does it by the side of Amy. Amy Elizabeth Kellogg maintains Squirrelly.org. And she maintains it well. It purrs. It preens. It blinks. Ok, I was just kidding about the first two. But the site does blink. It blinks its beady, little eyes at you. If you don't believe me you should go check it out for yourself. But don't come crying to me when the blinking eyes give you nightmares later. I warned you. Amy also takes lots and lots of pictures. Sometimes of strange things. So many pictures that one feels as if one is there in the festivities. And thus, though Amy's pictures, I really don't understand why all of those people in Florida don't come to my parties, because I go to ALL of theirs. I think they're stuck up, is all. Whatever. Anyway, Squirrelly also has random strange sites (which is where I found Utter Wonder: The Idle Thoughts of C. Monks) and she introduced me to the wonder of bentos and backpacks. If you want off-beat and playful, loving and political, Amy's the first you should head for.

Speaking of amazing photographers... Amanda. Amanda of For the Byrds. Holy crap, can the girl shoot. She is capable of conveying such emotion. No, not conveying. I'm sorry, that was a poor choice of words. She is capable of CAPTURING emotion so exquisitely through her lens. Her photography exhibits the same qualities that make her blog such a joy to read: generosity, honesty, clear vision, humor, love, and (at times) rage and indignation. Amanda was one of the first blogs I stumbled across, and I found her right as she and T went on a trip to Prague. They were gone for the longest time, and I nearly gave up on her. But I used the time to read her archives (they weren't long, though, she hadn't been blogging for long) and I decided to keep checking in until she was back. It was worth the wait (and the energy I expended clicking my mouse on her little link in my favorites list, too, can't discount that!). She was also one of the first people to let me know that they were reading on the Speckled Frog and her unabashed flattery of my daughter won her my heart forever (I am a SUCKER for compliments). Amanda and T have had a twisty journey -- starting out TTC, taking a break, working through some relationship issues, coming back together only to be separated again due to work. They are about to be reunited, and I can't wait to see where the next stage of their journey places them. Now if only I could figure out where the unique spelling of Byrds comes from.

Then there's Betsy. Betsy, Betsy, Betsy. For the longest time I thought she was the other Betsy (who is also awesome and who I will get to in the bloglove in good time). But no, she was this Betsy. Betsy of From Sunshine... and states beyond. And I get it, cause Florida's the Sunshine State, right? And yet the title also makes one think that Sunshine is a state of mind. Cool, huh? What I love about Betsy is her cut to the bone commentary. Her fierceness. At times, like too much sun, she burns. I like her questions. I like her moxie. I like how she speaks up. I like her energy. I like her terseness. Maybe she's not really edgy and sunburny and terse in real life. The pictures of her at parties make her look like she's real easy going and fun. So I love the fact that she's both. A little bit of everything. A lot to appreciate.

And then there's Ramer. I don't really read Ramer. I just know her through all the other women. And all the pictures of her that Amy takes. And the fact that she sent me a South Park version of herself for my fridge. Which was perfect. Because how can I have my little swamp corner of the fridge without Ramer? So, I'm linking her here, and I'm going to sub to her with bloglines, and get to know her through her own words. And I challenge all of you to do the same.

Finally, how can we visit the Florida Bloglands without taking a trip to see the Faggots on the Third Floor? It took me a while to click over to the Faggots because I thought it would be a guy writing, and though I like guys -- particularly gay guys -- at the time I was looking for lesbian moms. When I clicked over, I was so happy that I had because not only was Estelle a lesbian, but she was also about to become a non-bio mom. In fact, Estelle was the first lesbian non-bio mom I connected with. Though I had discovered The Other Mother weeks earlier, Robin felt more like a mentor and guide. Estelle felt like a sister or a best friend. Her son was born only a week before Julia. We've been going through the stages of new-motherhood very closely. For months I thought she hated me because of a hasty (and assvician) comment I left on her blog, but then I just found out that she didn't hate me: I didn't register as important enough on her radar to hate. So I remedied that. I left a LOT of comments. Many, many comments. And finally I got her attention. And then I won her over with my witty banter and my knowledge of animal behavior in Africa. And now we are friends. Even though we've never met. Estelle's life is always exciting, but right now it's also pretty emotional. Family stuff. Hard stuff. Go give her a big hug.

Oh, oh, oh, I almost forgot Jean at In Search of Light Chop! Jean is Estelle's partner. She started blogging a few months ago and it's been wonderful to get an alternate view of life on the third floor. I love, love, love it when I can compare and contrast stories. I feel like a detective. Like my soul is wearing a trench coat and sporting a lazy eye. Did you know that Light Chop is a boating term? I didn't. For the longest time I wondered why anyone would search for a glowing piece of pork! I'm so glad that someone explained it to me before I did anything embarrassing like admit my assumption to the entire internet. I mean, I'm admitting it now, but it's ok because you all know that I know differently. Whereas if I had admitted it before it would have just been awkward as you all figured out that I was serious when I wanted to know what was so cool about electrified meat. So that kind Samaritan saved you all a good load of awkwardness. Yay.

Ok, well that's it for Florida. I think. There are people on my blogroll who live in mysterious places. If any of them live in Florida and are put out that I forgot to include them well that's just too bad. If only they weren't so mysterious...

5.16.2006

Well I'll be! I married the right woman!

Your True Love Is a Scorpio

Why you'll love a Scorpio:

Strong and sexy, Scorpio will overpower you into falling in love (before you even realize it!).
You'll love being swept away by Scorpio - into a world of insane passion.

Why a Scorpio will love you:

You don't mind letting your Scorpio take the reigns, as long as you know you're truly cared for.
Loyal and devoted, you would never do anything to set off insanely jealous Scorpio.
What Sign Is Your True Love?


Kristin is a Scorpio. I wonder if she took the test if it would say that Pisces is her true love?

Julia is a Genius


Deep in Thought
Originally uploaded by Temmerling.
If you are a member of that unfortunate group who is assailed by digestive problems when reading about the overwhelming cuteness and perfection and goodness of another person's children, then I have no idea what you're doing reading my blog, but you'll probably want to look away from this entry. Don't complain to me later. It's entirely your fault if this entry makes you sick.

Every person thinks that their child is the smartest, cutest child out there. Well, I have to tell you that all of you are wrong. Because Julia is the smartest, cutest kid in the entire planet. And I have two stories to offer as (completely objective) proof. They both involve upon growling.

1) The daycare kids have taught Julia how to growl. Her little growl is rough and menacing and high-pitched, like a tiger cub or a wolf puppy. Some vicious infant animal. Paired as it is with her sparkling eyes and huge smile (which she thinks is "baring her teeth" like the older kids who taught her) the result is completely charming. And, of course, we had to have her demonstrate her new skill to Grandma and Grandpa. Grandma and Grandpa were appropriately charmed.

Later, when Grandpa and I took Julia to the store for the first of many part runs, Grandpa started working with Julia with saying "Grandpa". "Grandpa, Grrrandpa, Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrandpa" he said to her slowly, turning the first sound into the growl that she has so perfected. Immediately she stopped smiling at him and started thinking hard. "That's right," he told her, "you think about it and get back with me."

Later that night, when Julia had been fed and changed and was ready for bed, Kristin and Grandma brought Julia over to say goodnight to me and Grandpa. Grandpa wasn't really paying attention as he was focused on a recalcitrant coupling. Julia was not best pleased at Grandpa's lack of attention. "Grandpa!" she cried at him. We all looked at her. "Grandpa," she said again. "Hi!" And we all burst into congratulations and praise.

In truth, her word didn't sound as clear as I have just presented it. It was a growl, ended with her kissy sound, which sounds a little like "pa". But there was no doubt that "grrrrrrrrpa" was her very clear attempt to vocalize the word grandpa and that that word was very clearly directed toward her grandpa who was not paying as much attention to her as she thought he should.

So, my question. Why can she say Grandpa, but she won't even TRY to say Mama?

2) Last night it was just Julia and I, and I was trying to keep her up a bit past her bedtime to give Kristin more time to get home and see her. After Julia was dined and cleaned and changed and pajamaed we sat in the big club chair with her gigantic (it's longer than she is) "Sparkle Fun Book". We were having a great time, turning the big cardboard pages and trying to peel the foil off the pictures, when we came to a page with animals all over it. I started pointing to the animals and making animal sounds. I didn't Julia was paying much attention to me as she was poking at a piece of silver foil. But when I touched the tiger and growled she stopped fingering the foil. I touched the tiger again while growling. After a moment she slapped her hand over the tiger and she growled. Then she did it again. I praised her and touched the picture of the snake. I hissed as I touched it. Julia looked at me closely as I hissed. Then she touched the snake and blew air out through nearly-closed lips. It sounded more like an "f" than an "s", but it was a good estimation of the sound.

She's growing and expanding so fast. We can see the intellectual connections being made behind her eyes. It is a joy to accompany her on this journey.

5.15.2006

"What Were We Thinking?" Weekly Update: T Minus Three and holding

Do you hear that? If you listen hard I'm sure you can hear the self-satisfied hum of the first dishwasher ever to call our house home. That's right, we're running our first load of dishes as I type this. Well, I'm sitting here at work typing this, but I composed this opening in my head last night while listening to the whoosh and splash of cleansing water irrigating Julia's bottles. So I think that counts. Especially since you couldn't have heard it even if you listened very hard. Though I appreciate how much you tried to humor me. Really, I do. It makes this whole remodeling thing worth it.

When last we talked the sweet, sweet words of kitchen remodel, I left you with the image of nearly-nude grouting. Well, here is the image to complement that image. If my kitchen were capable of celebratory smoking, it would be flicking away its butt in this shot: Apre Grout ready to get dressed and call a cab.

Saturday morning we took Kristin's car to my brother's shop for a pre-roadtrip check and oil change, grabbed coffee, thought about scavenging an antique chair from a neighbor's garbage pile, and met my parents back at the house a little after 9 AM. The first words out of my dad's mouth were "Your brother just called, your top's not done." I just stared at him for a moment in disbelief. Then I told him exactly how un-funny that particular joke was. He said, "No, really, it's true, the guy didn't get your top done. He Who Could Sell Snow to Polar Bears is right now pushing him to get it finished, but there's only the one guy there and he has to handle all the will call customers, so there's a chance it won't get done." I looked to my mom for confirmation. See, Dad is completely capable of thinking that saying something like that is funny. But no, it was true. I wanted to break down into tears right there. I wasn't mad at HWCSSPB, but I was furious at the countertop guy. We ordered a full cove top (where the laminate forms a backsplash that reaches all the way from the counter to the bottom of the wall cabinets) because our walls are so damaged and that was easiest way to deal with the walls, but the full cove top takes a bit longer to make than the standard 4 inch splash. We were prepared to order the standard and tile the backsplash if the full cove top couldn't be completed in time, but my brother's countertop guy assured us that he could get it done on time. That's the only reason we went ahead and ordered the full cove top. To hear that he HADN'T completed it even though he knew that we were counting on it being done infuriated me. But there was nothing I could do. I told my dad that if the top wasn't done we still needed to set the sink, we'd just have to do it on plywood. There's no way we could have housesitters in a house that didn't have a kitchen sink!

Anyway, we got to work. Dad unloaded the cabinets and our suspended chairs. He placed the first cabinets and the mechanism for the chairs. The second cabinet is set We made a slight change to our original plans. Based on a comment that J made we moved the sink cabinet toward the stove and placed the bank of drawers right next to the bar -- trying to give ourselves some more space between the sink and the dishwasher. It seems simple, but sometimes you look at something so many times that you don't see what's staring you in the face. After the first few cabinets were placed, he began to build a sink cabinet for us. Our space was so narrow that a standard sink cabinet wouldn't fit. So he had to build one for us out of a bathroom vanity and some spare parts. Building the better cabinet. He did such a great job you would never be able to tell.

By this time it was a bit after noon. The countertop shop was only open until 2. My stress level was starting to creep up and I was beginning to wonder exactly how much damage to our already damaged wall could an improperly set sink on plywood do over the course of three weeks when HWCSSPB called, the top was DONE!!! Julia was napping, so Kristin elected to stay behind, and the rest of us climbed into my parents' truck and raced to pick the top up.

At HWCSSPB's showroom I made sure to let him know that I had not been mad at him at all, and I paid for the countertop and we loaded it up and took off for home. After a quick bite of lunch, Dad and I got the top set Setting the top and then Dad crawled up into the attic space to finish the rewiring and I bolted the suspended chairs to the floor. Then I began putting the sink together -- attaching drain baskets and disposal (also a first for this house) and faucet.

When Dad had finished the wiring we got the sink into the hole, and while I installed the sink Installing the sink he brought the dishwasher in from the garage. And here's where things started going downhill.

We are not a plumbing people. If there were going to be any problems, even a foolish man would have been able to predict that they would occur with the plumbing. And my house is not at its most cooperative when it comes to plumbing. The old pipes are brittle. They break. And the main shut off, you know, the shut off that turns off all the water to the house, the shut off of last resort, doesn't really shut the water off. At most it sort of reprimands the water a bit. It slows it down. I really need to talk to the City about shutting our water off at the street so I can replace the main shut off, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. Anway, to shut the water to our house off so that individual pipe shutoffs can be changed or installed, one turns the main shut off as hard as one can, and then one turns on all the hoses, showers, and faucets in the house and hopes that enough water is diverted that the pipe one needs to work on is empty. So that is what we did. But first we went to the store.

At the store, we couldn't find a dishwasher supply line long enough. But it sure seemed like that icemaker supply line that was long enough had the right connections. So we bought it. And we bought a new shutoff with a diverter for the dishwasher. A compression shut off for the copper pipe. Because we thought the copper pipe had a compression fitting. Only it didn't. So we took a hacksaw and cut the pipe. Excellent, problem solved, now the compression fixture fits. So then we threaded the supply line through the cabinets. And Dad wired the dishwasher. And then he tried to connect the supply line to the dishwasher. And that's when we realized that there was a reason the package said "Ice Maker Supply Line" and not "Ice Maker Supply Line But Could Still Be Used as a Dishwasher Supply Line if You So Desire". It wouldn't connect.

Now, I am used to the mysterious ways of Things That Look Like They'll Work When They're in the Store But Don't Actually Work Once You Get Them Home and There's Water Involved, so I have a large collection of little brass plumbing bits and pieces that I have bought for various projects and just kept around when they didn't work. I mean, who knows, they might work next time, right? I gathered up my collection and my dad poked through it. Alas, no luck there. So it was back to the store. There Dad found a coupling that he was pretty sure would join the supply line to the dishwasher. An expensive little coupling, but who cares, right? He comes back home and tries to put it on. It fits! Yay! We're all ready to test it out. But first Dad wants to make sure that the shut off really works, so I go turn the water main "on" and he turns the new shut off on. No leaks, excellent. Things are looking good. Even Julia seems surprised! Julia is amazed at the transformation

But then, then somehow (and exactly how, I have blocked out) we realize that we have connected the dishwasher to the cold water supply! ARGHHHH!!!! Because of course, the cold water is coming through a copper pipe and the hot water is coming through a galvanized pipe, and the pipes are of different widths and so the new shutoff will not fit on the hot water pipe. Which means it's back to the store for a new shut off for the cold water (because we cut the old one off, remember, and so the old one won't work any more) and a new shut off with a diverter for the hot water. But before heading to the store we decided to see if the new dishwasher connection really did work. We turned it on. The dishwasher started filling with (cold) water. Everyone listened. And then I, and only I, heard it. The drip of a leak. I flung myself to the floor, reached my hand under the dishwasher, pulled it out cupping water and screamed "Turn it off! Turn it off!" luckily I had seen where the water was coming from. And yes, it was the new coupling.

Back at the store, Dad found the new shutoffs we needed, and then he found a package of rubber washers to go in the coupling. And we even thought to open the package and see if they would fit the new coupling before buying them and leaving the store. Good thing we did, too, because they didn't really fit, so we went back and searched through packages until we found some that did fit. And I'm happy to tell you that even though they came in a package of 10, and we had to open the package to check fit, and we so easily could have just put the package back with only 9 in it and steal the one little washer we needed, we didn't. Because we're good people. And we needed the good karma.

Back at home we did the whole rigamarole of trying to turn the water main off, putting the new shutoffs on, and reattaching the coupling. This time when we tested the dishwasher it filled with HOT water, and there were no leaks. Hallelueia! Then we moved on to testing the drains. And, of course, they leaked. Right where the old meets the new. And, of course, we needed a new part. So it was back to the store, just as it was closing. And even after the new part was on it STILL leaked. It seemed to want a big rubber washer and the plastic compression ring we had just wasn't cutting it. But it was late. The store was closed. My dad was frustrated and I was getting apathetic. "Just cram the compression ring full of plumbers putty," I suggested. And that's exactly what we did. And it worked. I just need to remember that there's putty in that joint so I have more if I ever have to take the drain apart. LORD HELP ME NEVER TO HAVE TO TAKE THAT DRAIN APART.

Finally, Mom and Dad left. It was after 11 PM. The kitchen is 1/3 of the way done. I spent Mother's Day cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. And it feels as if we're beginning to get our house back.
View from the stairs
Oh lookie, how long!
1/3 done

This is it until after we come back from vacation. Then it's 2 more days of work to get it finished. I can see the end of the tunnel, which is good, because it was pretty grim Saturday night.

5.12.2006

Photo Friday: It's where you were at!


canopy tour
Originally uploaded by Temmerling.
Ok, I have better vacation pictures out there. But my house is in shambles and my brain is eaten away by grout fumes. So this is all I have today.

We took this on our accidental trip to Nicaragua. Yeah, I said accidental. We mean to go to North Carolina. Silly us. Good thing we had our passports. Anway, once we realized we were in Nicaragua, we headed out for the open country-side and ended up in the most charming city imaginable: Granada. And there we saw an advertisement for Dry Forest Canopy Tours.

We signed up, and had a miraculous time! That little speck, hanging from a wire 120 meters above the forest floor is me! I felt like Tarzan.

If you're ever somewhere you can take a canopy tour, do it!

Why I am not an investigative reporter

Liza

1) What did it feel like to see your name on a real, honest-to-god book for the first time?
2) What is the thing that you are proudest of Jill for doing?
3) What is the thing that you are proudest of yourself for doing?
4) I am in earnest; I will not equivocate; I will not excuse; I will not retreat a single inch; and I will be heard.” – William Lloyd Garrison. Have you ever felt this in your life? What was it about and what happened?
5) Do you think Maple cabinets and Cherry Cabinets can look good together in the same kitchen? Why or why not?

J.

1) What thing about pregnancy do you think is going to be the hardest thing to reconcile with your self-identity/presentation?
2) How do you feel about the fact that your Portland is “the other” Portland?
3) If you could only eat one kind of cheese for the rest of your life, what would it be?
4) Kurt Vonnegut said, “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.” What, if anything, have you ever pretended to be?
5) If you were laying a tile floor, and after it was all done and grouted you realized that the crookedest tiles were in the middle of the floor where everyone could see, and the straightest tiles were going to be hidden by cabinets, would you cry?

Kate

1) You’re surrounded by so many idiots so much of the time, how do you deal?
2) Is the career you have now the career you always wanted to have? Is it the one you always want to have?
3) If you could magically poof your entire life to another location, where would that be and why?
4) “The sad truth is that excellence makes people nervous” – Shana Alexander. Have you ever had a moment where someone else’s excellence has made you nervous? Has anyone ever exhibited nervousness about your own excellence? How did you react to that?
5) If you had wall cabinets in Cherry and base cabinets in maple, and walls of knotty pine and floors (in the adjoining room) of aged oak, what kind of wood would you make your banister out of? If you picked Cherry, would you actually use Alder (the poor man’s cherry) or would you keep the fake banister made of 2x4s until you could afford real cherry?

Sarah

1) If you were in Germany, and you spoke only German, and this crazy American woman came up to you speaking pidgin-German and was trying to get you to tell her where a public phone was located, but didn’t know the word for Phone in German, would you help her and even try to make conversation, or would you look at her like she was an insane terrorist and walk away? Please explain your answer.
2) How did you make that really cool picture of the fetus in BB’s stomach?
3) Did you speak German before moving to Germany? How long did it take you to learn it if not?
4) Why do you guys live in Germany and not Canada? How did you make the decision about who would relocate their life?
5) If you were setting tiles in mortar, and you poured the mortar powder in the bucket first and then added water, and big lumps formed that neither the stirring shovel nor a stick could dislodge, would you plunge your hands in to mix it that way, or would you just throw the whole mess away and go for lunch?

Faith

1) How long did it take you to write your first book?
2) “Wonder is what sets us apart from other life forms. No other species wonders about the meaning of existence or the complexity of the universe or themselves.” – Herbert W. Boyer. What do you find yourself wondering about on a consistent basis? Do you ever wonder if, when animals seemingly stare into nothing, they are really wondering about these things, too, but just can’t tell us?
3) You mentioned once that Faith is your chosen name. How did you choose it, when and why?
4) Have you ever thought of something you wanted to change in your life, something that could be changed, and then did so?
5) If you had a grody wound on your wrist, one that you had given youself in an act of supreme stupidity, would you show it to everyone and tell them how stupid you are, or would you keep it discretely hidden and/or make up a story that showed your intelligence and valor to explain how you got it?


Don't forget to ask to interviewees yourselves!

I need advice

If you know that other place that I write on occasion, please go there and weigh in.

Thanks

PS-- interview questions and (hopefully) blog love to come

5.11.2006

What the 8 month sleep regression gave to us

I am proud to say, folks, that we have survived the 8 month sleep regression. We think. It's hard to be sure, because she's got a cold again, and we've been working so hard, but I'm pretty sure I remember a few nights a couple of days ago where Julia slept relatively well again. Maybe.

Anyway, remember when I told you all clear back when Julia was only like 3 months old that she could say the word "Hi"? We thought it was so cute. But then she stopped saying it. She moved on to practicing other sounds, and never again did we hear the word hi come from her lips. But after weeks of not sleeping so well, Hi has reappeared in her vocabulary. With a vengeance.

A little over a month ago Julia perfected the art of making kissy sounds. Not the Mwaaah! kind of sounds, but the kind of sound made when you purse your lips, create a vacuum, and then pull your lips apart. An honest to god kissy sound. And once she got it, she did it to everyone. It was so damn cute! But then the sleep regression hit (though we didn't know what it was, we just knew that she wasn't sleeping worth crap) and at the far end of it she stopped making kissy sounds to greet people and started saying...

Hi! With the exclamation point! Hi! Hi! Hi! Hi! She even gets the dipthong at the end. And she definitely knows what it means. When she wakes up from a nap and wants to let us know that she's awake she calls out Hi! Hi! Hi! from her swing or her crib. When a new person enters her line of site she says Hi! Hi! Hi! until they say Hi! back. And then she'll Hi! them a couple more times to make sure that she has their attention. When we go to pick her up from daycare it's Hi! and a big smile.

So it's official. Hi is her first word. She's a little social butterfly.

***

Yesterday I picked up Julia from daycare and took her to the doctor's office. Just a cold. For now. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it stays just a cold and that she's well over it by the time our vacation rolls around. On the way back home she fell asleep, and I decided that instead of taking her back to daycare where she would get little to no sleep, I would just take the rest of the day off and let her nap all day. I'm so glad I did!

I spend a lot of time with Julia, but not so much time during the day, alone, when there's really nothing else to do. Our weekends have been so action-packed lately. And she goes to bed 2 hours after I get home from work at night. But yesterday we had hours of free time together. I couldn't grout because I needed not to be covered with cementious compounds in case Julia needed to be picked up quickly. I put a second coat of mud on the drywall, but that took less than 20 minutes. I was too overwhelmed with the chaos to clean. So we napped together. And then we played together. And then we napped together some more. And then she got up and I let her play on the floor. I watched her nearly roll over. And nearly crawl. I watched her scoot on her butt in quest of leaves, and dust bunnies, and toys. She can go fast, and far, on her little butt across our hardwoods.

And then I had to go to the bathroom. I put her in her playpen and excused myself. As soon as I closed the door she started crying. I hurried my business and went back to her, but still, she had been crying for a minute or two. As soon as she saw me appear it was Hi! and a big grin. I picked her up and held her close. She slid her hand around the back of my neck and pressed her mouth, hard, into my cheek. We stood this way for a moment, and then she let go of my head and pulled her mouth away with a big MWAAAH! Her first kiss!

I do that to her all the time. As a matter of course, a part of the way I greet her after an absence. Hold her cheek against my mouth and then pull away with a big mwaah. But to have her do it back to me...

I'm so glad I played hookie from work.
I wish I could do it more often.

Introducing.... The Scheherazade Project

Ok, I did it. I started a new blog just for what used to be called (in the planning stages) Short Story Saturday.

Go. Read. Write.

The Scheherazade Project.

Yes, I answer questions! I'm good at that!

I agreed to be interviewed by Blondie. Here is what she wanted to know about me.

  1. If you had one gripe about Utah, what would it be? If I had ONE gripe? Ha. Hahaha. Ha. One gripe. That's funny. One. Well, I guess, if I had to pick one it would be... Straight, LDS Men, and the Straight, LDS Women Who Love Them and who combined think that just because Brigham Young and a bunch of emigrants happened to stop in this lovely valley and put down foundation stones that that means that they can create a theocracy here and impose their values and their judgments and their skewed vision of the world on everyone else who happens to live and love the land here. And that they can do so while smiling at you and telling you that it's for the greater good that we can't get beer (above 3.2%) and wine anywhere other than a state-owned liquor store (closed on Sundays, Holidays and Election days), that we can't have a hate-crimes law with any teeth, that foster children are better off in group homes than placed with gay and lesbian couples, that we have to spend public money and time debating whether or not a public swimming pool can be open on Sundays, that women thinking about getting an abortion have to be told lies by doctors in order to create even more guilt and mental trauma before undergoing the procedure, that I can't adopt my child because a child needs both a Mother AND a Father and my adopting Julia would forever keep her from ever having a father. Does that count as one gripe? Because it all stems from the same thing -- an absence of division between Church and State. And I do want to be clear that it's only Straight, LDS people who believe in the theocracy that I object to. I have straight white LDS friends who are perfectly wonderful people and whom I love. These people believe in individual choices and separation of church and state and that God does not make mistakes and thus gay people (and people of color) are not wrong, childish, lesser-than, and in need of serious self-control. But other than that, Utah is a truly lovely place and you all should come visit me some time.
  2. How has having Julia changed your life? Well, really, the change is so profound that it's hard to articulate. Obviously, my free time has been severely curtailed. And before she was born I NEVER would have gone to work with two-days-unwashed hair. But probably the most obvious and significant change (besides the total lack of restful sleep and the fact that I now SNIFF another being's behind on a regular basis) is that before Julia was born woe to the person who called our house before noon, not just on weekends, but ANY DAY OF THE WEEK. ( I worked an extremely flexible job from home and often didn't get up before noon) Now, I'm up for the day and dialing people at 8 in the morning on the weekends (that's sleeping in, because I'm up by 6:30 on weekdays) saying things like "gosh, I'm sorry to call so early, I didn't realize that you might still be sleeping as I've been up for hours." I used to pity my parents when they would talk about "sleeping in" till 8 on the weekends, and now I've become them. Oooh, it's a slippery slope. Next I'll probably start saying things like "this hurts me more than it hurts you" and telling perfect strangers to be careful when getting fragile things off high shelves...
  3. Are you EVER going to finish that kitchen? No. It's never going to be done. Never, ever, ever. It stretches on and on into the future, ruining all our weekends, forcing us to wash dishes in the bathtub, interfering with our laundry-doing. I did grout the floor last night, though, and just to give y'all a little mental image: I couldn't stand the thought of putting my grody tiling clothes on again, and I didn't want to ruin any more clothes, so I grouted in the nude -- well bra and panties. And vinyl gloves. Vinyl gloves infused with chamomile and moisturizers. Oooh, are my hands soft. My father claims that we'll be done two weekends after coming back from vacation. But I'll believe it when I see it.
  4. What’s your next remodeling project? I know that most of you don't believe me when I say that I HATE REMODELING. Some funny people have pointed out that I can't possibly hate remodeling as much as I claim to since we've constantly got our house torn apart. But I do. I do hate it. So now you know why I'm such a bitch all the time. I hate every part of remodeling except the part where it's done and you've got something great that you would never have been able to afford if you'd had to hire people and live elsewhere to do it. Plus, it's the only way of life I know. It's true. I always lived in a constuction zone as a kid, and now here I am recreating the pattern. It's sad. As far as this house goes, we need to paint the dark paneling in the basement a bright white color and do something about the corner with the exposed cement walls and pipes. And there's a part of our patio where the concrete is sunken. And our yard has this strange irrigation system where we have random hose bibs sticking up in strange places. None of these hose bibs work because we've shut them off in the house. There's a leak somewhere and I have a pretty good idea that the leak is under where the concrete is sunken. So I would really like to tear that concrete out, repair the pipe so we could use the hose bibs (they would be really handy in watering the garden and running the fountain/pond), and pour a new patio and maybe get a hottub. But that's 50 year old concrete and old concrete is really HARD. And it would be nice to get the pond to stop leaking. But other than that we're DONE with this house. We've put in a 3/4 bath in the basement, removed asbestos popcorn ceiling, redone the upstairs bath and put in a shower (there was only a tub there, now there's a tub with a shower) added a laundry room (the old woman who lived there since WWII did all her laundry by hand), removed all the carpet, polished up the wooden floors, painted the entire upstairs, and turned a dark, paneled office into a bright, charming nursery. And now the kitchen. I think we're done.
  5. What do you see yourself doing in 5 years? Working on the kitchen. Probably installing the banister at that point. Either that or working as a librarian someplace that doesn't have a theocracy keeping my family disempowered. Maybe trying to set up a homeschooling co-op.

Ok, now it's someone else's turn. I need five people to volunteer to be interviewed. Leave your application in the comments section...

5.10.2006

Good News and then nothing else (now with renewed whining)

First, the good news. My friend's design was picked for the Utah state quarter! Thanks to everyone who voted. I am CERTAIN that your votes were the ones that convinced the Governor that the Golden Spike design was the best. So, when the design is released in 2007, and you hold one in your little hand, think of me. And then send it to me, cause I could use the money.

Ok, here's the whine, for those of you who wanted to see it: Now for the blah. I feel very small these last few days. I know I know it's just a reaction to the chaos in the house. And all the hard work the last few weekends that has kept us from resting up for the work weeks, and, you know, getting all our laundry done so that we're not staring stupidly in our closet in the ungodly hours, realizing that the only thing we have to wear to work are pants that are so wrinkled that they rival the moon for canyons or skirts. And then you reach for the skirt, put it on, and then look down at your sasquatch legs that you've been too tired and busy to shave for the last 2 months. And so put the skirt back and grab the pants and spray them with water and try to smooth them with your hands (as the clock ticks on and you get later and later) and then give up and put them on practically pleated and tell yourself that at least you sit behind a desk all day and so maybe maybe no one will notice your pants, and your greasy hair, and the fur sticking out above your shoes, and the fact that you're moving like an eighty-year-old, and maybe if they're not noticing all of that then maybe they also wouldn't notice if you crawled behind your desk and slept all afternoon...

Meanwhile, the floor is still groutless. I washed all the excess mortar off Monday night, and the time spent on my knees and with my poor hands in the water just about did me in. I've been trying to let my body recover. But tonight I HAVE to get it done. I also have to sand the walls and put a second coat of mud where we have to paint. Oh, yeah, and we have to get the walls painted. Not a huge area, but still. And we ordered our countertop. It'll be done on time, but it was more expensive than we thought. And it was the cheapest one we could find. No, that's not true. We could have made one for less money, but we just don't have the time to make a countertop for installation Saturday. So we paid extra money to have one made for us. My brother got us a deal and we're very grateful. I'm sure it'll look beautiful. But I'm still in a little sticker shock. We're running out of money quickly and we still have 2 cabinets to buy and cherry (or maple, we haven't decided yet -- actually, the maple might look really nice) crown molding to buy, and the stuff to make our bannister. I wanted to make the bannister cherry, but that will probably be too expensive. Maple's not much cheaper. We might be able to afford Alder (the poor man's cherry) or oak (we have oak floors), but we might have to do it in pine. Then again, we might have to do it in scrap wood and paint it to try to make it look nice.

Here's our problem. The base cabinets are rustic maple (Maple photo number 005, though that's not our door style). My Dad had excess inventory to get rid of and so he "sold" them to us for $10 a piece. My Aunt is re-doing her entire house and bought a display kitchen from my Dad when he was closing his showroom. The display kitchen is cherry (scroll down to the cherry pics, 004 is a pretty good match on color, though, again, not our door style) and she's got 3 too many wall cabinets so she's giving them to us. So we have maple on the floor and cherry on the walls. My Dad says that it's actually a really hot design right now to have the wall and base cabinets in different colors/woods. And buying 2 cherry wall cabinets is a whole lot cheaper than buying 5 maple wall cabinets. But the wall cabinets have a door style that isn't made anymore, so if we want the doors to match we'll have to buy new doors. Cherry doors are expensive. Still not as expensive as buying a whole kitchen full of cabinets, and I don't mean to sound ungrateful, because I am incredibly grateful. I'm just feeling overwhelmed and worried that we're going to pour all this money and effort into something that's just going to look ugly. Oh, and have any of you ever had Cherry? Cherry darkens with age. It'll take about 3 months for the new cabinets, doors, and mouldings to match the free cabinets we've gotten. Well now I'm just whining. Pay no attention to me. On every other day I am full of gratitude and wonder that so many people in my family are doing so much to help us get a decent kitchen. My Dad has given up his weekends, too. Everyone's trying to help us and we're probably only going to spend about $3,000 total on the entire kitchen remodel (including the addition) and that's just unheard of. And here I am snivelling.

On top of that we're all fighting off some sort of sickness. Sore throats, headaches, congestion, coughing. Probably just colds. But Julia's sleeping terribly and we're all grumpy. I'm taking Julia in to the doctor's office this morning. Because if it's her ear or sinus infection come back we need to get that taken care of before we go on vacation in 8DAYS. So we would already be feeling run down even without living in a tornado's leavings. But add in all the hard work we've done and have left to do. And the fact that we have no kitchen sink. Or oven. Or countertop. Well, I think you get the point.

We need our vacation in a bad way.

5.08.2006

"What Were We Thinking?" Weekly Update # Oh, God, Why? Why? Why?

If I thought last week was busy and hard and full of rampant destruction and agony, this week proved that last week was a balmy massage of pleasantness and fuzzy bunny love. The plan for this week was to tear out all the cabinets but the sink, haul all our trash to the curb, finish out the addition, and lay tile. We were going to leave the sink cabinet in so that, even if we didn't have a stove, or any storage, or any counterspace, we would still have a sink, and running water, and a way to wash dishes that did not involve the bathtub. It was also going to be an attempt to keep me from going absolutely insane this week with the construction mess.

Have I mentioned how much construction mess drives my absolutely bitch-bat crazy? It's true. I can live in a pigstye with the utmost nonchalance. But throw in some rubble and I turn into an OCD freak complete with gibbering, trembling hands, and an eye twitch. We've been going slow and cleaning up as completely as we can and leaving the kitchen useable in an effort to keep me sane and pleasant to be around, but now we've hit the hard part where the tear-out outstrips the functionality. So the plan was to alleviate some of my construction mess distress by leaving the sink in place.

And thus we began early (10 ish) on Saturday morning. My Dad showed up without my mom, though (she was sick), and completely confused poor Julia, who has never seen Grandpa without Grandma. Hitch #1 in our plans: now there was no one to watch Julia as we worked. She spent a great deal of time "helping" Mommy weed the grass while Mama and Grandpa worked. Playing in the wild, untamed meadow that we call our front lawn

Kristin began working on the landscaping while Dad and I got started tearing out the kitchen: The last of the wall cabinets comes down After the hated countertop is removed Rampant destruction and then Kristin and I hauled all the accumulated rubble, bits & pieces, ripped-out (evil, evil, bloodthirsty, unblooming, ungrateful, fungus-harboring, uncompostable because their damn thorns are made of compressed carbon) rose bushes, and scrap wood to the curb. Trashiest people on the street

Finally, everything was out of the kitchen but the kitchen sink. Our secret is revealed. When discussing with my dad if there was any way would could increase the floorspace in the kitchen by extending the floor over the stairwell a bit, he demonstrated exactly HOW too short our stairwell was already, and nixed that idea cold. Our stairs are not deep enough for my dad.. And then the really bad news: the sink cabinet was too deep to tile around. In order to move forward we needed to tear the sink out right then. I was not prepared for this. I was SO not prepared for this. But I took a big, deep breath, thanked the good lord above that I was not going to be taking any pharmaceuticals that start with the letter "c" this week, and emptied the sink cabinet out. Then I helped my dad carry it (all 300 lbs of it) to the curb. So now our trash pile contained everything AND the kitchen sink! I didn't take a picture of that, however, because, frankly, I was too embarrassed. We have never put this much out for neighborhood clean-up before, and I was seriously worried about our conspicuous waste. But by the next morning, our trash pile was half the size it was when the sun went down, and the kitchen sink and cabinet were gone. Gotta love the (active, vibrant, alive) scavenger culture here. Recycling at its best.

Anyway, back to the narrative. After removing the kitchen sink, and my controlling of my hyperventilation, Dad rocked in the new alcove, and then helped me cut and lay the subfloor for the tile. During all of this banging and sawing and cursing and heavy-breathing (the crazy kind, not the sexy kind), Julia took better naps than she has in weeks: Chilling out in the midst of destruction I guess she's a baby who likes it a little crazy. She's so darn laid back!

After Dad left, I rounded out the evening by screwing down the durock subfloor. Screwing down the subfloor By the time we went to bed Saturday night, this is what our kitchen looked like. Saturday Evening.  Before the tile

Sunday morning dawned bright and not too hot. Kristin ran to get us breakfast, while I resolutely didn't look too hard at the mess in our dining room. The mess we are living in nowWith breakfast eaten, we began deliberating how were were going to lay the tiles out. We had 86 sq feet of tile to lay. This would be the largest tiling job that I have ever attempted without my Dad's immediate help. A few only-slightly panicked phone calls to my dad later (FYI - you cannot lay tile so that grout lines line up perfectly with the durock seams; no, we don't have to tile around the water pipes, the cabinets will cover that; yes, it is a good idea to tile under where the dishwasher will go, you know, just in case it leaks; no, now that the durock is down you can't just change your minds and go with vinyl stickers or paint; yes, people will laugh at you if your grout lines are all crookedy) we had our plan of attack, had made the first few cuts, and I had begun to mix the first of many (many, many, god, how many could we possibly need?) batches of mortar (FYI plan on using FOUR times the amount of mortar than the bag says it covers).

In the interest of saving any who are reading this, and would like to learn to tile, a certain amount of pain and mess, I would just like to say that when mixing mortar, it's a good idea to put the water in the bucket first. If you pour the mix in the bucket and then add the water, the mix makes HUGE clumps at the bottom of the bucket neither the mixing shovel nor a stick will dislodge and dissolve. If such a thing happens, just throw the whole mess away. On no account should you get so frustrated that you plunge your bare hands into the bucket of mortar mix and mix it that way. Not the brightest idea I've ever had IF you DO do this thing, please expect that any small scrape that you have on your hands/arms will emerge from the mortar mix an angry, burning, swollen, weepy, throbbing red: The angry red welt This little scrape was barely noticeable before I mixed the mortar with my hands.

Luckily, just about this time our friend O showed up to help. O, besides being her first initial, is a very appropriate moniker for this friend, becase she was truly a masochist during this whole endeavor. It's not her kitchen, she's under no obligation to help, and the pay (nothing but a veggie burger which was also gave to non-helpers) certainly sucked. But she stuck it out to the end, and was groaning and sore by the time she staggered to her own home around 8 PM. O the saint O helped out by "back buttering" all the tiles, while I spread mortar on the floor and placed the tiles in their final resting positions.

O was also very helpful in pointing out to Kristin that she should take a "humility shot" of the results of my very first attempt to cut a tile using the tile wet saw. First attempt at a fancy cut Like I said, this is the largest job I've ever attempted without my Dad right there, and my Dad usually doesn't like to let me use his saws. So while I have a lot of experience making straight cuts using the "score and snap" method, I've never used the tile saw before. If I'd realized how easy it was going to be, I may have been willing to try the more tricky diagonal installation which would have resulted in the tiles all being diagonal to the main path of traffic. It looks really cool, and I swear, as God is my Witness, one of these days I WILL live in a house that has tiles laid out diagonally. But we were worried about all the cuts required, and so we opted for a safer layout with only 2 tricky cuts. But, as you can see, using the saw, though messy and resulting in making me look like I'd peed my pants (water sprayed everywhere the first time I used it) was pretty easy. The beginning of the end oh no!  The tile's stuck! finishing the cut And, finally, the perfect cut tile! Finally, it fits! It took three tries to cut that first tile because, frankly, I can't measure worth a damn. And then when I cut the second one O looked over my shoulder and said, "Before I back butter that piece I just want to be certain that you're not going to care how bad that looks two days from now when you're not so tired..." Damn all perfectionists to hell. But she was right, I am proud of the final product, and excited for my dad to see. And I cut the second tricky tile perfectly the first time.

When Kristin and I had planned this weekend out, we decided that we didn't want to work so hard with no fun at all. And we realized that we'd be barbequeing Sunday dinner anyway, so we invited a bunch of people over to bbq with us. Optimistically we told them we'd be done tiling by 5. O and I weren't done till 7. For the last 2 hours of tiling we had people looking over our shoulder, munching chips and cookies while commenting on the job we were doing, being all clean and dry while laughing at how it looked like I'd peed my pants. It's a good thing that I love everyone who was there... But finally the kitchen looked like this The tiles are all set and O and I could rinse off, grab some food, and sit down. Once we sat down, it hurt so much to get back up. Today I am so sore every simple motion hurts. The muscles in between the bones of my HANDS hurt. My knees are bruised. And in addition to the angry welt on my wrist, the skin on the tips of my fingers has been eroded by the mortar. My finger tips are red, rough, and emit heat. Battle wounds

Though I haven't really talked about what Kristin did during the tiling, I don't want you to think that she wasn't helping. Kristin measured and cut (straight cut) tiles, took care of Julia, brought us drinks, regularly cleaned my wrist when it started hurting too bad, indulged me by taking pictures for the blog, worked on cleaning the house, and entertained and fed our guests when the tiling wasn't done on time. She also rewarded me for all my hard work (and for doing it while remaining in a good mood -- normally I think that hard work entitles me to be a royal beotch) in a particularly wonderful way after all our guests were gone...

Game plan for the rest of the week: pick out the laminate for our countertop (tonight); grout (tonight), seal the grout (tomorrow night); tape and mud the alcove (work on that a little every night); order the wall cabinets (hopefully Dad will do that today or tomorrow); prime and paint the surfaces that need it (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday); keep my cool in the midst of the construction chaos (every night); and then next Saturday we'll complete the wiring for the appliances and install them (except the over-range microwave) and install the base cabintets, counter top, and sink. We may even get time to put the pine boards back on the walls!

Just in time to go on vacation! And boy, are we going to need it after this week. Wish Kristin luck in living with me...

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