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Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Sumac Schmoo-mac

sumac_colors

I can hardly move.

My mom bought a cottage and the neighbor “allowed” her to cut down his sumac for her view of the ocean.

Lucky neighbor, huh?

This means, J and I went down to help her and a friend who had a chainsaw, take on the project. When she called me that morning I asked her if we could come help her with some house projects and she said, “Oh, maybe you can help us gather the rest of these shrubs to take to the city compost!

When we got there, it turns out J took a liking to this particular jaws of life type tool that will cut down small trees and he started clearing all the sumac. Which happened to be mixed with ten years worth of berry bushes, that have “thorns of death” all over them.

We spent three hours clearing and by the end, I could hardly move or breathe.

Turns out, I am allergic to sumac.

We were at the piano bar on Saturday night and J kept calling me up to sing. Due to the allergy, my singing voice is hoarse and raspy and I looked at him and shook my head and said, “I can’t sing” (because I normally sing pretty strong, and high) and he goes, “just sing low, then.”

So, I sang low.

Oh. My. God.

Yeah, I didn’t think it was very good. Apparently, it was well received and people kept asking me to sing again. I suppose that out of my comfort zone, I am still okay at it.

One patron likes me singing “Annie’s Song” at the end of the night. And I sounded alot more like John Denver than myself.

But I sounded like a bad smoker who hadn’t slept in a week.

Anyway, yesterday morning, I woke up and could hardly move. I was so sore and was hacking away like crazy.

We rode our bikes down to a breakfast place and then out to the breakwater, which helped loosen up my muscles. It amazes me, with all that I do, that a change in habit for exercise, like cutting down trees, would take it’s toll on me like that, but J was still bouncing around like a normal person. 

Here around our house, with the girls gone, we continue with house projects. J installed some medicine cabinets I got from my mom’s place when she gutted her bathroom.

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And we bought a small piece of furniture that we painted green for the kitchen, to gain some space there for storage.

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We even cleaned out the basement and organized it.

At the end of the day, J said to me, “would you ever think that by my moving in, we’d actually gain more space here?”

It’s true. Partly because we are more creative with our space usage, but also because we were both forced to pair down our stuff.

And that feels really good.

All the junk is gone.

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Parent rant

photoI am wiped out. 

See my face?

I am going to hell.

It has been very very very hard having my dad here.  

I dont want to sound like an ungrateful bitch about the man who was half of the effort in bringing me into this world, but it has been brutal.

24 hours a day for a week is brutal. (okay, minus the four hours of sleep I have been getting on the couch)

There is NO privacy. 

 He’s high maintenance. He is ancy and impatient.

I can’t hear him when he speaks. He mumbles.

He tries to discipline my kids.

He tries to discipline me.

And he gets annoyed with the girls when they do a typical “Do I have to eat ALL my eggs before I have chocolate cake?” whine. (yes, we had eggs for dinner and chocolate cake for dessert).

He looks at me and flickers his eyes as if he can’t believe I would let them whine about their food. 

What kid doesn’t?

And then he starts, “You know, if I WERE YOU….”

OH MY GOD. Is he serious?

Yesterday was Easter.

My kids got up on the very very bad side of early (um, 4:30) looking for the damn Easter Bunny. I sent them back to bed and they were back by 6am, opening their baskets on the living room floor, just a few steps away from my temporary bed on the couch this week. (yes, I give my dad my bedroom). 

First, the previous 60 degree day did not last. It was about 35 and high winds. The Easter Egg hunt was very quick and very cold.

Look at how cold the girls were.

p1010017My mother cooked, I made a chocolate dessert and since she is on a diet and my dad won’t eat wheat, the kids and I ate them.

And since my mother is a vegetarian and dad doesn’t eat wheat, well, that was cause for an interesting meal. A very interesting meal. I won’t ruin your appetite by mentioning what my mother came up with.

Oh yes, my parents have been divorced since 1991 and fortunately it was amicable and they get along and hang out and stuff. It gets kind of annoying too, because they gang up on me. Double bad.

Yet, when I told my mom today that next time Dad comes to visit, I will be putting him up in the inn down the street because I can’t handle a week of him in my little house, she agreed with me that was the right thing to do. But of course, if I happen to be in a house the next time he comes, maybe there would be more room for him to stay with us.

My reply was, “yeah, if I win the lottery, buy a mansion and can give him an entire WING.”

I have this overwhelming feeling of needing to clean the house and put on J’s boxers and socks and sweatshirt and even his work boots, for some comfort.

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Newish artwork

I am not feeling terribly inspired to write about anything, with Dad’s visit and all. I feel worn out already. I feel small and tired and old and young, all at once.

I wish J were here with me while I go through this week. The internet for him right now depends on the satellite and that is pretty crappy where he is…it cuts in and out and our conversations consist of redialing each other back until we can connect for a few minutes before it happens again. It is very very difficult, he has three more weeks at this current gig before going to a place where the internet will be rockin’ for the last two weeks of his European gig. But until then, it just basically sucks. I am trying not to dramatize it. I’m just going to leave it.

Anyway, so I am going to post some paintings I recently finished instead of writing more of THAT shit. Most of these are from my trips to see J. I have more in the works.

If you are interested in anything or just want to see my professional website, please email me movindowntheroad@gmail.com. I won’t advertise my name or professional website on my blog due to keeping it from coming up in a search for me by clients. But am happy to share with you what I do if you email me directly.

(note, I did something funky with the lemon paintings and so their size is on the smaller side on this page. Sorry about that. I can email you larger if you want to see  it up close. That sparkly/spotty stuff you see on the watercolors is salt, a technique I have been using since college…um, circa 1995.)

river-house

riding-innertubes-on-the-waves

downtown-in-curacao

blue-boat-grounded

barbershop

banana-truck

overflowing-fruit-bowl-2

lemon-pedestal-2

one-hanging-lemon-2

dangling-lemons1

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Not long ago, I was standing up for myself in a conversation with my mother, tired of constant disapproval, which I ultimately know is just her concern for me.

There tends to be a disapproving feeling I get from her based on her facial expressions, the things that come out of her mouth, and the emails she sends, lecturing me…about anything. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mom, and she lives nearby and we see her often and the kids adore her and she adores the kids. She has helped me out alot over the years in more ways than one, the most major, taking the three of us in when I was going through my divorce, cut off financially for months until court instructed ex-husband to start temporary child support.  

We lived with her for a year and a half.

She babysat when I had to go to my lawyer’s office.

Or court.

Or when I needed to sit in the bathroom for an hour and cry.

Still though, unless she has a hand in what I am doing, or say, I seem to be doing it all wrong because she wouldn’t do “it” the way I am.

What came out of her mouth in a very heated (but loving) discussion was, “Well, you know, YOU’VE MADE AN AWFUL LOT OF MISTAKES IN YOUR LIFE!”

I sat there appalled that it actually came out of her mouth.

When it comes to my life, professionally, I have made no mistakes. I have always been happy in what I was doing, from fundraising jobs for museums, working in event planning for an arts council, being a nanny, working for an advertising agency…and now, for myself.

When it comes to my life, personally, yes, I have made what some would call “mistakes”. I have called them “mistakes” many many times.

But really, what they were, were lessons, stepping stones teaching me as I go, over and over again, what works and what doesn’t work for me.

Interestingly, my mother doesn’t know the half of it. It wasn’t until a few years ago when I was living with her and going through therapy, that I revealed to her that I had some physically abusive relationships. I told her as simply as that. What she still doesn’t know is how I had the shit beat out me. I mean,  “staying in such situations like that, well, now, Mom, THAT’S A MISTAKE!!!!”

At any rate, it got me thinking to when I decided to leave my marriage. My husband at the time was in partial agreement that we were to separate, but he wouldn’t really do anything about it. So I packed up the car and moved out with the girls to my mother’s. I never went back in that house until a year later when it was sold and I spent only 6 hours packing up the belongings I really cared about and moved it to a storage unit near where I was living with my mom. 

I had no idea what would happen at the end of my marriage. I had no money. I had no credit cards other than one in my name that I used for my art supplies. I had a car and a carload of a few belongings. I had my winter clothes. I had a bucket of toys for the girls. I had my coffee maker. I had no art supplies except a pad of paper and black ink. I had my girls. And I had my mom.

But knowing that I didn’t need to be in my marriage, any more than I needed influenza, was the greatest knowledge I had and the only thing I knew for sure.

The rest was all gravy. Scary gravy, but gravy.

She also says her belief system is that living with someone without being married is a sin.  Sleeping with someone without being married is wrong.

Lots of people feel that way. Lots don’t. We are all entitled to our own belief system. I respect hers. I need her to respect mine.

I wish we were in a day where my mom could look at me and the girls and see how happy we are. Not be afraid for us. But see the peace and love and happiness around us and be grateful for it. If we fall, be there for us too. But encourage and support and love the blessings and safety and happiness that has set in our lives.

That being said, my dad flies in from Los Angeles tonight for a week. I am not looking forward to it due to the similar issues. He is easier to tolerate but I am completely prepared to let him know that I don’t need to be in a discussion about what he or my mother think I should be doing (they are divorced but tend to get along and talk about me and agree on the things that they think are wrong in my life). I am hoping the week goes well and fast. I am hoping to show my dad that I won’t put up with lectures and bullshit. I am prepared to tell him off if I need to.  

My hope is that it’s a fun peaceful week with the kids and my dad, that we can have grown up conversations, ones I will probably bring up with him, in terms of what I expect or won’t accept from my parents anymore. Because frankly, I have had enough.

Thanks for listening.

Once my dad flies back to Los Angeles, it will be 5 weeks until J comes home. And an update on our home, I have cleaned out the basement, my studio, my closets and made tons of room for him here.

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iphone

1. Blue singing to herself in the back seat of the car while Red reads “The Boxcar Children”.

2. Photos. Photos of the kids. Photos of good places I’ve been. Photos of my artwork. Photos of my family. Photos of J.

3. The ringing of Skype on my computer in the mornings.

4. Paying off the credit card.

5. Cheese and Ritz Crackers.

6. Dr. Pepper flavored Bonnie Belle Lip Smackers. 

7. Having the girls in school two blocks from home.

8. Making room in the drawers, closets and storage for when he comes home for good.

9. Not having to or wanting to go anywhere during a snowstorm.

10. A fully charged battery on the cell phone. Specifically, MY NEW iPHONE!!!!

11. Hymns from my church, even though I no longer believe in my church.

12. Anything made out of fleece.

13. A Starbucks with a fireplace.

14. Blue snoring in her bed

15. A neighbor with a snowplow on his truck.

16. Blistex

17. Accomplishing waxing the bikini line.

18. A working furnace

19. Sleeping with him next to me

20. Landing safely

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A perfect end to the day

The girls have been getting along famously lately, aside from an occasional competitive rift that comes from time to time.

Today was one of those days where by the end, they were bickering about who danced the best in their dance class that afternoon or who can brush their teeth the fastest or, gasp, who eats more vegetables!

I’d had it and separated them at  bathtime. This is considered a punishment because they love taking a bath together. They play games with a tea set we keep there. They write on the walls with soap crayons. They make the typical beards from bubbles. They see who can hold their breath the longest under water.

So, I separated them and they were still mad at each other. I put Red in the bath by herself while I helped Blue finish her homework. Then Red got out of the bath and Blue gave her a nasty look and a puff and huff and walked past her to get in the tub.

After a short while, I hear a scream.

“THERE’S GROSS STUFF IN HERE!”

I run in and Blue is standing in the bathtub, her hands splayed, her eyes wide, looking between me and the bath water.

I look.

“Oh, it’s just a little lint from your socks,” I assure her.

She shakes her head. “NOOOOO! THOSE ARE BIG DUST BUNNIES!”

And then she points. “There’s something brown right there!”

And then a screech. “WHAT’S THAT!”

She pointed to something white and transparent. And I knew what it was. 

Red appeared, freshly bathed, holding her book. “Oh that? Is it white and kind of floaty?”

We stare at her.

“Well, I sneezed a big one in the bath and alot of snot came out!”

Blue jumped out of the bath so fast and refused to rinse the rest of the soap off until I changed the water.

Later, after her SECOND bath, I was crouched down, we were face to face. She looked me in the eyes and said, “Mommy, to be a family, do people always have to have the same last name?”

I shook my head, assuming she was thinking about my last name being different from hers, since I was divorced from her dad and I go by a different last name now. (I dropped both my married and maiden name and use my middle name)

“No honey, you can be family and not have the same last name. I’m still your mommy and we have different last names. Auntie A has a different last name and she’s my sister, she’s our family. Poppy and Nanny have a different last name than we do and they are still family.”

Blue was quiet for a minute. “Well, is J a part of our family?”

That was when I explained quite simply, that whoever we love and choose to be with, who chooses us and loves us just the same, is family. 

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Half and Half

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There’s this restaurant that I love, J and I had our first dinner out there on their outside patio after we met. On the menu, is something called “The Harf ‘n Harf”. Half hamburger/half hotdog on a bun. Seriously. I haven’t had it and not everything on the menu is quite so obscure in such an American sort of way.

I was thinking about it, randomly, because this morning I put milk in my coffee instead of half and half.

Half and half is SO much better, people. I used to drink milk in my coffee, but gosh, after being used to half and half, well, milk is like fat free, no sugar vanilla icecream on a night when you crave Ben and Jerry’s chocolate chunk fudge brownie with chocolate fudge sauce.

Anyway, back to that night with the “Harf ‘n Harf” on the menu.

J ordered wine and I ordered a beer. It was a beautiful summer night.

The lady poured his wine and he picked up the glass and swirled the wine around and sniffed it. Took a little sip. Swirled it and sniffed it again.

I looked at him a moment and asked, “Why do people do that? I mean, what is the point of that?”

He took a moment and then shrugged. “I have no idea. My sister does it.”

He got a billion points for that one. I kept laughing all night.

I’ve been feeling weird anxiety lately the last few days, and I am not sure why. Sleeping has been difficult. This week is very busy with appointments, work and school events for the kids, getting holiday gifts ready for their teachers. Red’s 8th birthday is Sunday, a holiday party to go to on Saturday at D’s house (sigh, I wish I could beam in J for the night) On top of it all, I often wonder what the hell I was thinking, conceiving so the timing of the births of my children were all during the holidays!

Anyway, I feel like I am doing things half assed at the moment, mainly because I am so tired and I feel some ups and downs with sadness with J gone. I know I need to snap out of it because Red asked me last night why I looked so sad. That just ain’t good for my almost 8 year old to notice that. So, today, I feel like I am snapping out of it finally.

Speaking of…A man walked into the club and basically hired J on the spot for a two week gig in the spring, in the tropics, on a private yacht. To be a part of the crew and play piano every night at cocktail hour. And to name his price.

Seriously, does it get any better than that? And besides, it’s only two weeks. EASY for me. Easy for him. 

I am so so proud of him.

So, yes, I am heading down south, a week from Saturday. It’s tropical and beautiful there (as opposed to this horrible wet, cold, dreariness of winter we’re getting here in New England) but to be completely honest, I would be just as excited (and I am overly excited)  if I were visiting him in Kansas City.

Anyway, as I mentioned before, today I feel somewhat normal again.  I am done feeling half and half over things…half “good” and half “bad”. I feel less anxiety as I am through the better part of a very chaotic week, I finished all my art shows for the holiday season. My work is done. I got a haircut today and came home and feel the need for the back to be shorter and feel gross and wintery-grody-like…I called my hair lady and she is going to see me first thing in the morning to get it shorter to where I need and want it. I am so grateful for such a great hair cutting lady. She rocks. 

I’ve lost almost ten pounds since J has been away. I think it is partly due to stress of the season, some to sadness, and some to wanting to get rid of the little pudge, before putting on my bikini, and/or going topless. 

Yes, I just said that.

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Junk Reading

Does everyone have a crazy auntie?

Mine is kind of crazy, but in a sweet, childlike kind of way.

She tends to refill bottled water bottles with tap water and call it “bottled water.” 

Seriously.

Since the beginning of time, she’s been obsessed with Princess Diana.

When she died and the rumor was that the paparrazzi was being blamed by high speed chasing, she vowed to never buy another tabloid again.

Well, all these years later, she has regressed.

Auntie visited from California over the summer and brought with her, a stack of magazines. Now, I am a sucker for magazines, but what I saw when she brought them over to share with me, was an assortment of this:

 

 

Now, I love me a good People magazine every now and then, you know, to keep up with “the news”.

But this stack was INSANE.

Total junk.

And I couldn’t help but laugh my head off about it.

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The girls loved staying in their pajamas today, since there was no school on “voting day”. Although it was 65 degrees, they wanted to go see High School Musical 3, something I promised a long time ago. In the end, I was able to run errands for my two upcoming art shows and I feel more organized. I also changed the sheets and opened the windows and did 4 loads of laundry and put the candle lamps in the windows and got the humidifier from basement set up in the girls’ room for the winter.

I’m glad that today I stopped pmsing because if I kept eating the way I was eating LAST week, I’d outgrow all my pants and NOT go into the holidays and winter on a good note.

Today was all about fruit and water and yogurt and whole grain bread and well, I couldn’t avoid the cheese, but cheese is better than two ice cream cones, Halloween candy and frozen cheesecake.

High School Musical 3 was as expected. Packed with kids. My girls were so excited. I had stashed our own water and a bag of gummy worms in my bag for the movie (despite the huge signs on the doors of the theatre saying “no outside food or drink”) because otherwise, we get raped when we pay for food at the concession. 

At the end, if you’ve seen it, remember when he tells the girl he’s going to go to college just 32 minutes away from her because he loves her? (sorry, I spoiled it) Well, I heard on my right, a little “aaaaaaaaahmmmmmmmm!” from Red.

And then my mind started going, because Red’s been mentioning this other 7 year old boy in her class, Joshua. She says his name about twice a day. Every day. Since school started.

Oh my, in ten years, she’ll be almost 18 and probably already had a bunch of crushes (and no dates, since she won’t be allowed until she’s a legal adult, if I can help it, that is).

It occurred to me too, when I went up the street to vote, with the girls in tow, that in ten years, she’ll be able to vote.

I wonder if I’ll be calling her like my dad called me today. When I answered he asked, “So, did you vote for the good president or the bad president?”

My ex-husband, their dad, called at the end of the night tonight and I heard Blue ask him who he voted for. And she came running in to me and yelled, “Mommy! Daddy voted for McCain to cancel out YOUR vote!.”

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I loved baths as a kid and would sit with a novel and read for hours, soaking and basking in the quietness and warmth and stories, for a long time each night.  J takes baths and I admire that he does it, enjoys it, takes care of himself to relax in that way, because for me, relaxing seems to go by the wayside for the most part. Somehow though, I can settle down inside and take a break when I am hanging out with him.

It got me thinking about my grandparents this weekend, when I was visiting J, and he started filling up the tub for us.

My grandfather would clean out the tub and fill it, for my grandmother’s daily soak. Up until my grandfather passed away when I was 23, I know that he cleaned and filled the tub for her nearly every day.

You may think she had been an invalid, but she wasn’t. She was an interior decorator in Los Angeles, was the ultimate socialite and kept an immaculate home. She had dinner parties every weekend and held luncheons in the summer. All my life, I thought of Nana as a strong and independent woman, because she made decisions and walked and talked, proud and put together.

But when Papa passed away in 1996, the reality came to the forefront. He was no longer there to fill the tub for her and what came to light was that Nana knew so much about life on the surface but when it came down to the nitty gritty of bills and business and things as simple as balancing a checkbook or having an estate plan, she had failed.  She became helpless and lost.

What I admire most is that she rose up out of that quickly and learned it all. She closed her own business and started to run my grandfather’s, for many years. She ran the household more efficiently. She paid bills and budgeted. She invested. She also became humble as she educated herself, became unafraid to ask questions and then went on her merry way, something I never saw in my first 23 years with her. She depended on no one.

When I was 30, Nana passed away. I was pregnant with Blue and flew out to see her as she was not expected to live much longer than a few more weeks. Our conversations consisted of womanhood and parenthood, independence and love. And one of the things she reminded me, was to never be left in a lurch. It was important for her to remind me of that.

Something that I remembered as I was going through my divorce was how I wanted to always be sure I could take care of myself, that I didn’t need to depend on someone for daily tasks or things that I am too lazy to figure out just because the other person happens to do them for me. I proudly took everything on, on my own. It was liberating and empowering. I expected nothing from anyone. 

I’ve realized recently that it’s okay to have some help. That it’s not terribly hurtful to ask for a favor or to express humility in not being able to do something on my own. In admitting the need for help actually projects towards those I am asking, “you are needed” and “you are wanted”. 

My grandfather made breakfast for my grandmother almost every morning, drew her bath daily, and protected her from the one thing that she needed the most, tools to take care of herself.

J brought up the idea a while ago, after he learned that I moved half a tree from my parking spot here at home, in the driving rain, on my own (without waiting for him to arrive an hour later and ask for his help), that I needed to be a bit better at asking for help, that I don’t need to and can’t do everything on my own. 

I’m working on it, but honestly, so far, he’s doing great things on his own. As great as a natural reassurance he expresses about his going away for a few months to play down south, and as simple as his turing my car around in his driveway, so that when I left at 5am the next morning, I would be able to just pull straight out onto the road. And as whole and real as his presence with me when we are together, or the way his voice sounds when he calls and calls me “Baby“.

I am reminded of Nana every day when I use the silver flatwear that she left me in her will. When my kids weigh things in the antique baker’s scale in my kitchen, when I put on a pair of earrings that I know she wore to her own wedding. And I have a sense of peace about being able to love and be loved, ask for help and appreciate having my bath drawn…all while being capable of “doing life”, all on my own.

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