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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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Residency

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J’s an official resident of Massachusetts. His license and plates say so.

His mail is coming to my house and we made a place in the kitchen for me to put his stuff as it comes in. I already know he is one of those guys who opens his mail on a monthly basis. Good thing all his bills are on automatic payment!

He set up his keyboard and all this stuff I am not sure I can identify but it is electronic and relates to his microphone and drum machine and there’s all these equalizer things…the best thing is that last night we spent about an hour with the girls, who sang into the microphone and played the keyboard and could hear themselves on a more “professional” level. It was priceless. Red is actually figuring out how the drum machine works. She is ahead of J, who is still reading the manual. (some of the gigs overseas actually require drum machines so he is working it out, even though I think they are stupid).

He’s spent a larger part of the morning today working up in his “studio” which has ended up working out great. Mine is downstairs and after I ran some errands and hung a painting in a local gallery (YES! I DID! SO EXCITED!) I have spent the morning here in my studio finishing a painting for a big show next week. 

It all feels very normal. He just left to get his bike repaired and have the inspection done on his car by the insurance folks, so I am here working and we’ll meet up again for lunch. 

I’ve been caught up in my studio here so much that while I had my Adele album playing, it took me 30 minutes to realize I had accidently hit the “repeat song” button on itunes and have been listening to the same song for a half hour. 

Doh.

Still, weeks after J’s return, I look over at him often and go, “It’s SO great you are here!”

It’s gotten to a point now that he rolls his eyes at me when I say it. 

Last night was portfolio night at the school. It means that the classrooms are open and we sit with our child and go through these massive notebooks of the year’s worth of work. It’s awesome and now requires their dad and I to split our time between each classroom. He spent half in Red’s class and I spend half in Blue’s, and then we swap half way through. 

Last week, the girls invited J.

So, I called their dad and just gave him a heads up and he goes, “that’s great, the girls already told me.”

So I hoped it was genuine and at least he could put on a good fake face, even if he wasn’t liking it.

It went beautifully. The two men shook hands and we did our stuff, and even if it was horrible inside for either one of them, the girls saw something good. J stepped back and neither man tried to prove anything. It was all about the kids.

I so empathize with him though, the feeling of the girls coming home with J and me at the end of the night, while he drives back towards Boston without them.  

Granted, today, they go back to him for the weekend.

When they are gone, we sometimes take an evening walk.

See how gorgeous it is here?

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Learning new things

I’ve learned two things about J this week that I didn’t know before now.

1) He doesn’t/won’t eat fruit with anything else other than itself.  And I will note that he arrived with a box of books of dietary food things, one that explains the digestive information upon mixing certain foods in the same meal. 

2) After only two shots of Jack Saturday night, he drove us home (because I had had three glasses of wine). He started weaving around the road and I thought “SHIT, he’s drunk off of two shots of Jack in the last four hours!”  It was so odd. When I said something, like, “Um, are you sure you are okay to drive?” he goes, “I’m dodging the fucking potholes!”  

(our town is notorious for potholes, there is even a group on Facebook “the potholes of our town name inserted here)

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poppies

I’m not really sure how things are going with the kids other than that they seem to be adjusting pretty well. Red’s hand washing has gotten alot better. She still pulls some quirky things, like not wanting to touch a library book after her bath, or open the car door. She has stopped washing her hands every ten minutes and has not woken me up in the middle of the night either (to wash her hands).

I know that deep inside, Red  must have some sort of deep 8 year old conflict between loyalty towards her dad and loyalty for J. She adores them both and I only hope she never feels guilt for enjoying the man who now lives with us.  I suspect that some of the extreme behavior lately has stemmed from J’s return and the slight changes. Even if they are good, I know it causes some anxiety, just because it is “change”.

Fortunately, we talk alot. There is alot of nurturing going on between all of us and J is so great to not make a major slam into the household. He’s spent some of the last two weeks up north cleaning out his apartment and getting affairs in order after being gone for six months. So it has given the girls some time with him here, but also still, with me, alone…with him gone.

I am grateful that he kept his Monday night gig that is two hours north. He is happy to be visiting with his mom and sister and her family, make extra money, as well as give us some balance back here with the girls. It’s a way to ease into things here.

In terms of changes, they are small-ish, other than the big one, where the man is home. He has clothes here and music equiptment and brought his new dvd player to replace our crappy one. But other than the keyboard in my bedroom and the duct tape chair, no changes have been made in the house.

Except that J is here most of the week. Which apparently, she loves. I see no weirdness when they are together. It is AWESOME.

And as for Blue, she just goes with the flow. 

I’ve been cranking through projects with J being gone right now up North. I finished my last commission that came in since my last show. It’s up at the top of the post here.  I am nearly done with the thirteen (random number) paintings that go up in a large group show in three weeks. I’m finally getting homeowner’s insurance on Thursday. I’ve got lists and lists of things to do for and with J, here around the house.

But here I sit browsing Hulu.com.

And I am in awe at all that is on there.

Who knew that you can watch Silver Spoons on the internet? And The Partridge Family?

Anyway, I am jumping around here, and am going right into conversations we had in our household this past week:

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Red: (to me) Mommy, when I grow up will I have medium sized boobies like you?

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Blue: (upon learning that I was getting my hair cut) You should make it long so you can braid it like Laura Ingalls Wilder. That way you can never grow up, like her.

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Red: (screaming) I NEED TO WASH MY HANDS! Apparently, the 2nd grade teacher made an announcement in class about Swine Flu.  Unfortunately, someone also told her that a baby died. Over the course of the last few weeks, she has become completely compulsive about washing her hands and being clean. So badly that I am considering taking her to the doctor who can explain to her about antibodies and how Swine Flu is not gonna be touching her if she waits more than ten minutes to wash her hands.  It got so bad last week, she woke me up at 4am to wash her hands. She wont touch things like her clothes or doors or even her stuffed animals unless she washes her hands after. This is a big problem and I learned she isnt doing it at school and I decided it will likely go away by the time school is out and we we are at the beach every day rolling around in seaweed and sand and catching sealife in the nets. Until then, I am ignoring it and not responding or giving it attention because it seems to bring the anxiety level up in her. It is so so sad to see. I realize my anxiety over her behavior is making her more stressed out. So I have to cool it. (update, this appears to be resolved!)

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Me: I’m a rockin’ girlfriend, aren’t I?

J: Yes, you are. 

Me: I’m a rockin’ girlfriend because I bought you some lube to take with you on your trip this winter.

J: (laughing) Yes, you did.

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…that my man has no problem sleeping in a very girlie bed.

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…that my kids are the ones who pointed it out.

…that eventually my girls will just go to bed when I tell them to. Not three callbacks later and two visits down the stairs.

…that I am ready for the kids to be out of school so we have more quality time together and not rushed after school activities, homework and dinner.

…that I will be ready for school to start again in the Fall.

I realize that when I want a grilled cheese sandwich, I should just have one.

Same goes for chocolate. Speaking of…I bought J some malt balls at the market today and before he got home, I ate them.

Tomorrow J will be an official resident of Massachusetts. He’s finalizing his car insurance, registering his car and getting new plates and changing his driver’s license.

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Transitioning Weekend

Last week was a transitioning week of sorts. But we all fell into step pretty easily.

Last week, I drove J up north to spend time with his mom and start the official move out of his apartment. He came home with a list of yard sale items, including massive amounts of outdated computer and music equiptment.

He also came home with the fixings for his practice space that we had decided to set up in the corner of the bedroom, seeing that it is the only spare space in this entire condo for a musician’s massive keyboard and handmade wooden stand. I feel badly, but apparently not as badly as he was feeling…this is the kind of guy he is…you see, we were lying there in bed, looking at the space in the corner and he goes “I feel so bad, I am going to screw up the cute look of your bedroom.”

This was his main concern, while mine is that he may feel he doesn’t have enough space of his own in our home together. I love my 8×10 studio space and have contemplated moving out of it and using my display space in the living room, as my studio, but he will have nothing to do with that. “There is no way in hell I am taking your studio space. You’re keeping it. I’ll take the bedroom.”

I dream of him having a great studio space for all his stuff, his beautiful old restored piano that will stay up north at his mother’s house, until we either rent him a studio or buy ourselves that big old house with a barn. (or a garage)

At any rate, the transition this week as he arrived on Thursday with a small truck full of things, went smoothly. We had parties to go to with the kids, walked down the street to breakfast where the girls decided they loved hash browns (for the first time) and sausage. And the girls had a sleepover at my mother’s so that I could be there on opening night this season at his piano bar gig.

He started at 8pm and by 8:15, the place was near full of people . They’d filtered in, passing him at the piano with a wave and “hello”. Some hugged him. Some put money in his tip bowl right off the bat. These were all friends and followers, supporters, all who had been there on his last night back in October, all folks who saw his name advertised as returning this season. Many looked for me and while he played he turned around and found me and pointed and then I said my hellos.

It was inspiring and endearing and touching to see him received like this.

And then the second night was equally awesome.

Anyway, back to the practice space in the bedroom. From how he talked, it was going to be huge and invasive and ugly, when in reality, when I saw it after he set it up, it wasn’t bad at all.

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In fact, I love it. I love his stuff here. The girls do too.

We’re going to be painting it white, to kind of buffer the raw wood look. And he’ll have books on the shelf above.

There was only one teenie tiny thing though. And it’s something I know will always be, because he told me flat out “this is my chair, it is the only chair I practice in.”

My response when I saw it?

“Would you mind if I recovered it?”

P1010012 (I had to make this really large, so you can see it is covered in some really horrible  faux wool. And the duct tape on the arms. There’s duct tape on a piece of furniture now, here in my home. It was bound to happen.)

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I am so…so…so…

OH SHIT WHAT HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO?!?!?!?

Just kidding.

I am so so so ecstatic, I don’t even know what or how to write right now.

In an email to a friend yesterday, I said, “It’s like he was just here, although then I remember the length of time he was away and how hard it was, and now hold him tighter and look at him longer.”

We kept waking up the first night and grinning at each other. I think at some point, I may have even said something stupid and obvious like, “you’re here!”

The girls are excited and are way overtired from staying up until 9pm every night, unable to sleep because he is in the house again. I know it will settle down, and I also need to train him not to go back up to check on them “one more time”…because as I learned a long time ago, you say your final goodnight, leave the room, and pray they go right to sleep.

He starts his gig down the road on Saturday night and I can’t wait to be there. Having him gig just down the road, in the old original venue of “us” is like a dream.

As I write this, he is up north packing his apartment up and pulled his car out of winter storage. I drove him up there today and had lunch with his family and then drove home, leaving him to his “stuff” while I come home and get some work done, so I am ready for his return on Friday.

On Monday, after sweet reunion and sentimental conversation, I asked “So, what did you miss the most?”

He turned to me and looked deep  into my eyes and grinned. “Your boobs.”

After my stoic response (which was a solemn/fake stare), he goes,”Oh, well, your cooking too. I definitely missed your cooking.”

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