CatchUp

Guy packing a box in front of empty bookcases.

So, like these last couple of weeks have been full of whack. We were backed up against an immutable deadline–demolition. So we moved a generation’s worth of life out of the space it had occupied.

I fully recognize that I’m making a big deal of what others just manage without comment. But, I’m here to say those folks are just withholding. They might be outwardly strong, but this shit is real.

It’s not like packing up all of your worldly possessions accrued over a middle-aged lifetime is insignificant. But you’re correct in your impulse to say, “Doc, shut up. It’s just life. And you’re getting what you want, you ingrate.”

Okay. Thanks for the reminder and for your chastisement. I earned it.

But now here I am with so much that I haven’t told you. Not for lack of thinking about you. Not for lack of sentences that I strung together in my head without any tether. It’s that I’ve lacked the mental space to write. Since I’m a bit behind, I’m just gonna share some pictures. And some captions. Just to catch you up.

Above is a sampling of old crappy furniture that you can’t even give away. Except that there are always takers. I might have had to post online more than once, and there may still be some crappy junk furniture yet to find it’s forever home, but I can always put it out on the curb and send an alert to the listserve. Crossing fingers that someone doesn’t try and have me cited for illegal dumping. If all else fails, there’s a dumpster on the way.

Warning sign that there is an impending dumpster. And there's some wild marigolds.

There was the day that I came home to find a pair of candy corn cones marking the spot that the dumpster will sit. It says that we have the permit until mid-November. That coincides with the hopeful move in date of, “before Thanksgiving.” Also, check out those wild marigolds that are growing from a crack in the street. I hope they survive the ordeal.

IMG_0541

Truly a ridiculous amount of boxes. At one point I just started throwing items in and marking the boxes rando.

green yellow and orange dot stickers

Now this, this was a piece of my genius. There were some items to go to our interim abode, some things–mostly furniture–to be stored in the garage, and others to go in the basement. I color coded everything. It was brilliant. The movers thought it was brilliant. I had to mark some of the crappy furniture with duct-tape and a handwritten “NO,” to keep the flow going. That helped kill the questions that slowed things down. I paid the guys by the hour, not the pound.

The moving truck, in front of my house.

This is the moving truck. That is all.

The emptied wall.

We painted the dining room walls this amazing terra cotta twenty-some years ago. I wanted to capture the color, and the nail that steadied the sconce for four candles. You can see where the sconce hit the wall. I saved the sconce. I don’t know if it will go back there.

Two red mugs and a coffee setup.

We left the coffee rig at the house when we moved. It was the last thing to pack. We moved the bed, and that meant no coffee. Since the interim abode is only one and a half blocks away, I figured I’d walk over there and make coffee.  But guess what? The Spouse went and got it. So I woke up to fresh coffee. This was the best morning.  I married well.

Yellow tomatoes, parsley, bread and cava.

There was much eating out around the move. This was the first dinner I made in the interim abode. It was rice with minted peas and sweet, salty and sour chicken thighs. Oh, and, obvs, some bubbles. Celebratory and what not.

The Beast, chilling.

The Beast was a little worse for the wear during the move. But he found a chill spot on the floor at the interim abode. He kept an eye on everything because even though the movers came last Wednesday, we didn’t actually finish moving out until yesterday. Yes, a full week later.

It was at a point–or perhaps a few points that I may have made in a borderline hysterical tone–that I didn’t think we’d ever finish. But that’s what happens when you move. You lose your mind over the fact that you seemed to be almost done and then you weren’t. And you cycle through that again and again until you realize that the contractors are coming tomorrow. And then, it’s done. And there are things on the porch that will be picked up by Purple Heart and stuff that the person from the next neighborhood over claims to want and then the stuff that the city will take. I love the city for that.

The front door with all the signs of construction.

And today, the front door was adorned with the signs of construction. Warning labels. EPA certifications–required in a house as old as ours–permits, and the posting of the nuisance fee that we pay the city because…dumpster. Just for the record, my neighbors don’t get any of that nuisance fee.

As I walked through the empty, echoing rooms, I didn’t know what to feel. I thought that I should feel a big emotion, yet I barely even registered relief.

So I found a random pink ribbon during my clean out and decided it would look perfect next to the random green ribbon that has been hanging from our door knocker for more than a year. The house is still ours. I’m feeling good.

The Vapors

The fireplace and hallway. See the peaceful Buddha

Sometimes I feel like it’s not just the house that is coming under fix-it.

On Friday, the contract proposal was announced by a flicker of blue on the right side of my screen. At that moment, I was reading about category management–because that’s actually a thing–and the quick slide in and out at the corner of my laptop almost escaped me.

Except not really. It was after 5 pm. To be fair, it was just barely. Like 5:04:21 pm or so. I was expecting the email. They said I’d get it by the end of the week. This firm is all about making commitments. I really like that about them.

The email was here and wasn’t going anywhere, so I followed a link to an HBR article about new-fangled procurement models. This is a joke in that I don’t know anything about old-fangled procurement models. I was studying.

The Spouse was on his ongoing work-about, in which he works for daze on end sans respite. But he does have running water. And coffee. It’s not the Outback. It’s The Mall.

My brain was twitching just behind my right eye. It wanted to open the email. It saw that glimpse of aqua and processed the letters to see that they were in the right place–like a partially completed crossword puzzle–to expose the name of our Project Manager.

Open. Open. Open.

The reptilian part of my brain was shutting down that idea. There would be nothing good exposed via that email. My internal crocodile knew that we had blown significanltly past our original scope. The number would be huge. To survive we should slither-swim by. With half-closed eyes. Our tails waving goodbye.

Open. Open. Open.

Enough croc-brain! I have the smelling salts in hand. I opened the email. And I sucked air. But I was still breathing.

The next few days I walked around with a new hallway, a new kitchen, a new bathroom, a new deck, a new den, a new office, a new staircase swirling around in my head. I really liked it.

I also turned the finances around and around and around. It seemed fair for the work. It’s still huge. Like a big rock wall in the desert. How to get to the other side? I couldn’t sleep.

I never can’t sleep.

Big decisions are so hard. What we can do can be different than what we should do. Capacity is as much about pushing limits as being within limits. I turned to Dad.

My dad hated debt. He didn’t want to have obligations hanging over him. He was adamant about keeping things in good repair. He’d replace a roof at year 14 of a 15 year lifespan. He mowed his lawn and shoveled his walk. He was responsible and sober.

As I walked to the subway, I wondered what my father would say about this big investment.  I began the budget analysis, and I heard his words. They were coming from behind my right ear, from the back of my head. It was about those shoes. He was speaking clearly.

In middle-school, I wanted a pair of shoes. They were white and had teardrop cutouts next to the buckles. They would be my first pair of high heels. Many girls at school were wearing these very shoes. At my behest, Dad drove me to Bakers Shoes. I tried on the desired pump. I walked up to him and asked him if he liked them. He said, “If you like them, buy them.”

If you like them, buy them.

Dang. I was feeling like Ray Kinsella from Field of Dreams hearing his daddy’s voice in the cornfield.

If you like them, buy them.

That was it. He was telling me to follow my heart. Not the money.

I wasn’t expecting that. Not at all.

I’m not saying that my dad actually gave me advice. I know that he’s been dead for nine years. I know that. That said, I think that he was telling me something.

I told you. This is not just about the house.

Simple 

The Beast had a Merry Christmas. Somone brought him a rawhide. This was not me. 

I’m not against rawhides, mind you. It’s just that I didn’t gift it. It was anothet human friend. 

So if Christmas means that your dreams may come true, The Beast is squarely on the dream to reality train. 

It is good to have simple wants that can be achieved. This is success. And, that is all. 

It’s a Wrap

It's my tree. From before. Not this year. So?

Write? Wrap? Write? Wrap?

It’s Christmas Eve and I started a post that needs more thinking. Alot more thinking. And work. And writing.

Write? Wrap? Write? Wrap?

I glanced over at the bags with things that needed a transformation in order to become Christmas.

Write? Wrap? Write? Wrap?

The boys are out carousing. It’s not like they are asleep, awaiting Santa and his deer. Sugarplums and whatnot, all afloat.

Write? Wrap? Write? Wrap?

But some parts of Christmas are just that. A part of Christmas. And I am the maker of Christmas in this realm. This tiny realm of us.

Write? Wrap? Write? Wrap?

And, you, My Loyal Reader, are not known to give a rat’s bum about my thinkings on a holiday. Although I truly appreciate every moment you spend reading my words–no matter the day. But, it’s like Christmas. And there are gifts to be wrapped.

Write? Wrap?

WRAP!

Hics and Hope

A pile of oatmeal cream pies. Mine was better.

All I wanted to do was snuggle up on the couch. Wrap that super soft fleece around my recently de-booted feet and pull it up to the edge of my chin. And then wrap my fists with the top of the blanket before I rested them on my chest, pushing the warmth to that edge of chin. This would be the moment punctuated by a great sigh, just when Tinkerbell raced across the top of the castle announcing the movie start.

But, no. Of course not. Instead I was accosted by the violent wrenching and expulstion of air that is a hiccup. And another hiccup. And, dammit, another. And they almost hurt. They definitely caused my body to writhe. And they interrupted my attempt to invite The Spouse to join me on the comfy couch and watch the movie. And now my chest hurts. Not a lot, but still. And there is another hiccup.

I tried to will it away. That may have worked in the past. But maybe the eruptions just passed on their own, and I was fooling myself. Thinking about it, any technique that “worked” was inconsistent. Sure plugging you nose worked. Then it didn’t. And drinking water from a glass backwards worked. That time. The spoon under your tongue while drinking a full glass of water? Works three out of ten times. The other seven doing nothing had the same effect.

I put the kettle on. I was going to make tea–between the wringings of my windpipe and throat.  I wondered if the oatmeal cream pie cookie would cure these GI contortions. The high pitched “hics” escaped my lips at irregular intervals. More to tease than anything else.

I added the sugar to my tea and waited for the next one. It never came. I thought it would, but it was done.

The episode started without an obvious cause and ended with the same unsatisfying mystery. Except. Except while the disposition of the mystery might be unsatisfying, suffice it to say that it was enormously satisfying to have those dastardly hiccups wind down to nothing.

I’m not going to wonder why. I’m just going to be glad it’s done. Movie time!

Slipperly Wear

weird little slippers with animal faces on the top.

They come out of the box with a luxury that is close to decadent. Except they are slippers. Not quite sexy.

They’re an orangey, brown suede with a fluffy creamy interior. The interior might have been lambswool or a very good approximation of clouds of wool. The bottoms were cork or vibram or corky-plastic. You could walk outside in the rain and not ruin them. When you pulled them out of the box, you’d immediately pull off your socks and sink your bare foot in and a sigh would escape your lips and your eyes would roll a little bit toward the back of your head. Your feet would be saying, in a little foot voice, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”

You keep them clean for as long as you can, but then there is the morning when you spill coffee on your foot that is covered in slipper. And the decay begins. The footbed gets more and more matted down. The suede gets shiny in spots, and there are spots. After a while, they are just a duller, darker shade of brown. The vibrancy of the orange fades away.

They’ve been outside in wet snow, gone in the car with you to 7-11 and walked the dog even past the corner where you thought you’d turn around. Your toe is almost poking through the hide and the inside of the shoe is totally molded to your foot. Nobody else could comfortably wear them.

But they are comfortable to you. Very.  You keep them by the door so you can take off your shoes or your boots and slip into something more comfortable without taking an extra step. You anticipate the pleasure of your foot hitting the warm innards of the moccasin. Its like a big welcoming hug.

To an outside eye, they just look like dirty old slippers. But as you put them on after a long day at work, a little breath escapes from your lips and your eyes roll to the ceiling and and maybe even beyond. Actually, they’ve achieved their maximum level of decadence.

Holly and Jolly

My feet. In front of the Christmas Tree. The tree is lit.

So tonight we had a Christmas Party. It’s a party that we’ve thrown more often than not in my lifetime. This means at least two things. First, that we’ve had this party for many, many years. And second, my adulthood is now told in decades.

I was challenged by a friend last night, during someone else’s holiday soirée, to look good. So I put on my most fabulous red dress and my princess shoes. I didn’t name them princess shoes, I had a contractor on staff a different set of years ago who named them. His designation wasn’t wrong.

Anyway, I really do not want to miss writing a post because we had a party. On the other hand, I used up all of my creativity making a party. Well, maybe used up is wrong. Creativity is unlimited, so it can’t be depleted. It’s more like exhausting, as in being tired. If I really, really, really needed to be creative, like to save a life, I could do it. It’s there. But to be more easily available, it needs to have some regeneration time. I used alot today.

So there were people here. Some were little people who played tag in and outside and who were sorry that The Beast was not running around with them. They don’t know that he is a great party foul perpetrator. Like he’d eat that cookie from their hand. Without aggression, mind you, but also without remorse. That’s just who he is. And is also why he is isolated during parties. He’s now resting his heavy head on my shoulder. Very calm once we’ve move past festivities.

There were some big people here, too. And returning to the decades thing, I introduced a friend of twenty years to a friend of thirty. I guess they are both old friends. Some people drank red. Some drank white. And some hit up the keg. It’s always fun to have a keg at a party. That’s why we do it. And The Spouse likes having alot of beer.

Speaking of alot, there was the Ham. We always have the Ham. It has been known to flip new vegetarians back to meat. Sadly, for at least one, their second slip was a double mcCheeseburger. The Ham was also partook by a guest who doesn’t eat pork. Since this was a guest, I did not correct her. She was enjoying herself. And, for the knowing meat eaters, suffice it to say that it is enough to keep them coming back. Year after year.

Someone asked if I made the most amazing dessert of the chocolate thing on top of the mini pretzel. First, the dessert snack offering was brilliant. And second, I don’t make dessert. It is either bought or brought. This one was brought. If I new the elf who made this simple ambrosia (where ambrosia=food of the gods), I would kiss them on the lips. So, it’s likely they are happy to remain anonymous.

Last, and apropos of absolutely nothing, the Big Guy gave me a Baby Ruth, after everyone left and the remaining scraps of food were refrigerated and I was sitting on the couch trying to scratch out this post. I ate the entire candy bar. Even thought it’s very late. I’m now going to brush my teeth and turn in. Okay. So that’s it for tonight. And a good night was had by all. I hope yours was a good one, too, Loyal Reader.