a photo-relay winding down from the weekend

This evening we took a drive to Aberdeen for dinner. It was a beautiful day, all day.

Ralph likes to take the logging / industrial route. Believing it faster, or perhaps motivated by all the different places that service different kinds of burly equipment and engines? Here is an example of the “new” transit bus. I don’t remember when I last saw the old ass-‘n’-piss colored versions I used to ride on.

I was idly trying to get a picture of a speeding motorcyclist when Ralph burst out laughing at the “b’goyl” (his term for a creature that’s sex cannot easily be determined). I’d wager my photograph proves, or at least indicates, female-ness.

In the car Nels sings a song from The Little Mermaid, which he loves (mermaids in general, and yes this includes the Disney version).

I wish to bring you here, dear reader – no, not to this humble dwelling but to the greenness and richness of the air. It’s green green green everywhere.

Aberdeen “boasts” one Thai restuarant and it’s got great service and decent grub. They give you free refills even on the heavenly (and sugary, and fatty) Thai iced tea! My kids fucked with their food and tried to eat just the crispy shell off the spring rolls! You suck, kids!

Ralph demonstrates to Nels how to do a “Pepsi shooter” with a straw.

As we return three movies to three different movie rental joints, evening starts to fall. My favorite time of the day. WAL-MART!

Ralph catches a nice little picture involving the curious little popcorn / coffee shop. “I want popcorn!” yells one of the little ones, having dined primarily on peanut sauce and little else. Nope.

While taking above photo Ralph is accosted by street youths who lead us to “Tag Alley”, an designation in downtown Aberdeen specifically sequestered for legal grafitti work. There were some lovely and free-spirited, colorful works he shot photos of. I’ll let him tell you more.

Outside Swansons (“your neighborhood grocery store”) we read the flyers. Some things are pretty gut-damned important. What is he / she wearing around the neck right now, I wonder?

An attempt by Swansons to compete with Walmart’s assy, obnoxious signs and banners. I think it’s working well, don’t you? P.S. very decent selection, as it turns out. No more driving to Top Food & Drug twice a week.

Once home Ralph does the day’s dishes while I blog. Kids continue to give us the balls. And tomorrow is Monday, whee!

"Let the games begin! Hi-oh!"

“I’m very aroused.”

Well, that’s it. We did it. Come mid-February, we are getting the hell out of this shit-hole. Oh, did I say “shit-hole”? I meant, “the town that I love and will cry and cry and cry upon leaving.”

Yeah, my husband took a job. In another town. It’s a better job, but his current job was a good one too; it wasn’t an easy choice. It was a difficult choice, in fact. The poor man has been in tears for the last 24 hours (note to Ralph: SEE A PSYCHIATRIST).

If you live anywhere near me, please know I will be calm for a couple weeks, then things will get really bad, and there is going to be drama. No, no. Positive self-talk. This will go well and easily. I won’t end up crying randomly in an undignified fashion, nor going hysterical on my husband for any reason whatsover. I think I can I think I can.

How do you move a family of four? Last time I moved it was across town, it was me and my man, and it took three trips in a pickup truck.

I am so fucked.

new kinds of festive rituals

Today I stumbled upon pictures of our foursome from the last two Christmases at the little cottage that we rented in Cannon Beach, Oregon. I grew inexplicably misty thinking of our mini-tradition away from home; the familiarity of the Christmas-lit shops, the beauty of the wind-torn beach, the familiar pub a block down from our home away from home. Our trip back up two years ago where Sophie rode with my parents and they reported she spent half of the ride viciously giving her new stuffed animal (Goodebunny) discipline: hissing “Do you want a timeout?” in the meanest duck voice possible. The fun of the Oregon lack of salestax which allowed our $5 Christmas rules to be observed de rigueur.

For us this year, Christmas is being celebrated in an increasingly unusual fashion; never mind we are not in Oregon, we are also (for the first time in my life) without my FOO. I was sad for half a car ride (as I talked it out with my husband) until I re-oriented myself to my own little family and the projects therein. Now I feel a sense of wonderment as the holiday gently spirals out of my control and out of my plan. The plan to have a series of packages mailed out to closest friends? Derailed. Presents entirely handmade? No. A Christmas dinner complete with guests? Cancelled. I did manage (with minimal help from my spouse) to send out our homemade Christmas cards (every year, after careful selection, addition, and culling, we hover at sixty to seventy cards), our own tradition that we enjoy immensely. About half of the changes in our Christmas routine were due to my illness which put me out of the running for a solid three days (and I’m just glad no one else in my family got sick).

With an absence of Christmas precedents in effect, new activities must be planned. In that vein today ended up being beautiful, but rather exhausting. The first thing I did this morning was a (near-)three mile hike with Erica (I got to see her “new” baby to boot). As soon as I got home my husband took to a full shopping day with a friend and I found myself gifted with my children (who I am growing so familiar with as to not even contemplate alone time much anymore) to run my errands. First, the once-a-week menu planning, shopping list, and grocery (which included a large Christmas Day dinner plan) then the entireity of my family gift shopping downtown in torrential rain – half the time, with one increasingly-heavy child sleeping on my shoulder.

Christmas pajamas have been opened and donned. We have taken the drive to our town’s “Candy cane lane” to look at the lights. The stockings are up. One million presents remain to be wrapped and inserted under the tree (actual number will be reported tomorrow). Thank you baby Jesus and happy holidays, one and all!

"plant feet, face oncoming driver, put out arm at right angle, wave in a half-moon motion"

If you don’t try something new every now and then, you will never know what you could be good at. For instance, I did not know that on the slickest ice possible my daughter could navigate her relatively low-traction rainboots while carrying a backpack and purse. And it was my son, usually the adventurous one, who worried and reached for my hand (and eventually asked me to carry him, putting me at a significant risk as I carry 32 pounds of deadweight on the slickest ice possible).

On that subject, I also did not know I would have the fortitude to not only traverse several blocks with these two children – both bundled, slipping, and one very frightened – to walk to the perfect place to catch the bus (not right outside my door as I normally do; being on a hill and being asked the other day by another driver to wait elsewhere) in the sub-freezing shatteringly cold ass weather, only to have the bus driver drive right past us, despite my wave, then my yelling, then my children’s bursting into tears. Not only that, but to then hightail it back several blocks with the kids – one crying from cold and sadness at missing the bus, the other stomping through snowdrifts half her height while valiantly carrying everything except the other child – into my home, to stamp out of clothes, strip the kids, and call the transit dispatch in a cold fury – all of this without even once crying or slapping someone (I would have, had that driver been within my range). Did I mention every step of this walk was entirely the most treacherous slippage I have ever set foot on?

My parents’ house, currently snow-bound and lovely. My homedwelling almost looks classy, doesn’t it?

Port Townsend really takes the #1 spot in pussing out due to snow-related reasons. Yes, the roads are icy but the last real snow was on Monday but we are on Day Four of school closures. I don’t mind too much and of course my children’s schedule adjusted immediately; Nels slept in until 10 AM yesterday.

In other adventurous endeavors I am also learning to knit left-handed. I am not sure which is worse; the first agonies of learning to knit (three years ago, for me) or re-learning a skill one is very good at – on the wrong hand. If I were going through physical therapy after an injury I would probably give up rather quickly and ask for the motorized wheelchair and Lay’s Potato Chip IV.

In other news I am currently wishing for warm feet and more to the point absolutely lusting over Zappos many, many lovely casual waterproof ladies’ boots. Mama needs something with a genuine sheepskin lining, methinks. My fucking kids have new shoes and warm feet, the little bastards!

OK, on to gird my loins for today’s bus adventure. And I know which hand gesture I’ll be making as I flag that bus down.

on the brink of a minor exodus

This morning at 7:30 I slip out from between my two children as they sleep. Like magnets they click together and resume their mutual slumber. Into the kitchen, start the coffee. Turn up the heat. For the second morning in a row, I stand at the window of my sewing room and smoke a half a cigarette. I take a quick shower, wipe down the bathroom floor, and put my clothes and towel in the laundry.

I peek in the bedroom and my children still sleep. In the kitchen, still in my towel, I make and put a puff-pankcake in the oven and set the timer. I have been baking hot food for breakfast the last few days, too. Yesterday was corn pudding, the extra portions of which I shared with two good friends.

Today I will be in charge of finishing packing the family’s clothes and toiletries, rolling up freshly-washed sleeping bags and putting the rain boots in the car. I will also balance our checkbook, finish the laundry (which includes, rather oddly, a large rubber snake that was inadvertantly peed on by Nels), put cat food and water out, buy our Thanksgiving groceries (mercifully only a two-store stop), pick up a gift for my sister’s birthday and wrap it, and buy buttons and ribbon for clothes I finsi. And maybe – just maybe, if I have time – finish sewing a pair of pants for my son.

Today after my husband gets off work we will venture out on Highway 101 for an hour and a half’s drive to my family’s cabin at Mason Lake. My great-grandfather built it, and it’s a log fucken cabin – not a “cabin” that is actually a cute little condo (although many of our neighbors have “upgraded” to such forms of vacation dwellings). I have mixed feelings about the cabin. Amongst them are an antipathy toward the legacy of my grandmother’s (gone four years now) authoritarian regime and grandfather’s (my lone surviving grandparent) patrician assholian nature. I also feel a slight skin-crawl at my own mother’s crowing pride at the place, which is really a kind of ugly lumpy edifice and includes such things as a “deer-hoof coatrack”. But I am still glad it’s there and if it passes out of my family’s hands in this lifetime I will miss it.

As I type this the house is filling with an eggnog-y smell and hums with the dryer. Sometimes I wish I could wake up to a mom in the house.

power up!

Port Townsend’s Windstorm 2006 has abated for the time being. Last night after our dinner out we ventured to the store for candles and matches. Then home to our dark house to pack soap, shampoo, towels and pajamas for showers down at the Boat Haven. I took a lovely 4 1/2 minutes (three $0.25 worth) of hot water while my naked daughter stamped and splashed. After we were clean I sat in the heated shower stall bench and combed out my daughter’s freshly-washed fine tangles and realized how very, very comforting it is for me to bathe or shower. I bundled her in her pajamas, socks, rain boots, a hoody of mine to cover her wet head, and her winter coat over all. We ran out to the van to join the boys, also freshly scrubbed.

Home and time for many candles, coloring books, piles of blankets. I set aside some laundry to take to the laundromat should our power still be out in the morning. But at about 10:30 PM the fellows from the power company arrived across the street; two cherry-pickers and a spotlight truck. They remove the offending tree limb and saw it in huge chunks; pieces fall and bang on the mailboxes below (nailing Cynthia and BJs but missing ours by happenstance). We watch the workers brave the storm and cold. At midnight or so our bedroom light clicks on; my husband and children shout, “Thank you! Goodbye!” out the window to the departing trucks.

To bed late, my daughter nestled against me as I read a few chapters of my latest book. Then finally sleep for us all; a nightlight glows in the hall. The small economy of light is comforting for what we briefly lost.