getting my house in order

getting my house in order
it's a jungle out there

Saturday, June 27, 2009

the hills are alive

Signing off today for a few weeks cause we're going to Maine. Off to an awesome 200+ year old farmhouse on 150 acres, right on the coast. We went last year with my sister, her husband Ted, and their baby.

After 6 hours in the car it should have taken 5 but we spent the last hour lost and driving in circles, we drove up the half mile long driveway to this...


The kids and dog got out of the car, to this...



They ran up and down the hills 
I half expected Julie Andrews to come from behind the rocks belting one out



Mia's a little pookie here


She's much better here

The owner/host is an interesting guy who goes by "Russ". A Dutch South African, who has owned the property for over 30 years, and knows the entire pre-Revolutionary War history of this old gem in the woods of Maine.

Last year, we were there during the Democratic National Convention. We were all so excited to watch history in the making. I remember the morning after the DNC ended, and McCain announcing his running mate. We were all in a tizzy... Sarah Palin... who's Sarah Palin?? Ted, who's Sarah Palin??  If Ted didn't know, no one did. Well we sure knew soon enough. I remember Ted said she's very camera savvy. I said she looks like she should be editor-in-chief at Vogue. Little did we know...

That was also the day after we set the original hand tooled wood chandelier on fire. No, really, we did. In our excitement to hear Obama's acceptance speech, coupled by a bottle of wine at dinner, we forgot to blow out the candles in the dining room. Yup. Wood chandelier. Original to the house. Hand carved. 270 years old. How could we be the first idiots to do that? How could no one else ever have forgotten the candles were lit? In 270 years? Astounding. Burned. Mortified.

My sister and I desperately rationalized our stupidity. Ted was the brave one, and broke the news to Russ, who handled it in his super supreme gracious host way. 

He's actually allowing us to come back this year. Also astounding. Hide the matches

There's barely cell service at this lovely spot. No wireless internet. So I'll see you on the flipside of the 4th, hopefully with some funny stories and beautiful picts.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

You're It!

Kori tagged me... I'll try this meme (is that as in all about me, me??) 
I'm clueless... as usual

1. What is your current obsession? Duh, this blog. Plan my life around it. Pathetic.

2. What is your weirdest obsession? Gotta be my local, sustainable, save the planet and ourselves food thing. It's not particularly weird, but it is ridiculous to stand paralyzed in a Stop n Shop when I have an empty fridge and 3 kids who need to eat. Orthorexia nervosa: an unhealthy obsession with "right" eating. Usually applied to folks who are either fat-free or carb-free or eat handfuls of supplements. But I think I qualify.

3. Recall a fond childhood memory? Definitely trips to the Bronx Zoo with my daddy. Loved the sea lions. Gliding through life so effortlessly. Basking in the sun. I still love them.

4. What's for dinner? Old El Paso tacos, made with organic pastured hamburger meat which I illegally purchase from an Amish farmer 2 states away. Taco kit came from Walmart just kidding

5. What would you eat for your last meal? That's hard. Husband's a chef. Might have him cook for me. His food is yummy. Although, he'd probably be bawling over the food, and it would end up too salty. I love Korean food. Maybe some kimchee jayook bokeum. Yum

6. What's the last thing you bought? An avocado from Mexico and a tomato from Canada.  For the tacos from Walmart.

7. What are you listening to right now? iCarly in my left ear. The dog's too-long toenails clicking across the wood floors in my right. I hate that sound, but every time I try to trim them he bleeds. Poor puppy

8. What do you think of the person who tagged you? Kori is amazing to me. I'm new to blogland, and new to bloggers, but I'm always inspired by her strength and honesty. And she has a kick-ass sense of humor. And she's a great mom.

9. If you could have a house totally paid for, fully furnished, anywhere in the world, where would it be? Hmmm. Haven't been anywhere that I could honestly said I'd like to live. But I hate the winters here, so someplace with a warmer clime. Near water. With arable land. And local farmers so when I get tired of growing my own stuff, I could still eat local foods. Maybe Greece. Not that I'm going to grow grapes or olives. I could raise goats or sheep. Or just eat feta cheese and dolma. Yes, Greece. 

10. If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go? I'd be a fly on the wall at Ms. Moon's house.  I'd buzz around her garden and through her chicken coop. Hope that's not too creepy. I'm really harmless.

11. Which language do you want to learn? I'd like to have a better handle on Spanish. Lots of my patients are Spanish speaking. I can understand most of what they say, but don't feel proficient enough to explain things the way I'd like to. My sister is cracking up right now, cause when I speak Spanish to her it's a weird and poorly conjugated mush of mispronounced madness.

12. What's your favorite quote (for now)? "What the fucking fuck?" Ms. Moon

13. What is your favorite color? Summer sky blue, clematis purple, sunflower yellow

14. What is your favorite piece of clothing in your wardrobe? I have a kimono-y robe that we bought on a trip up to Woodstock 15 years ago. Now faded, but it was wine colored with a Japanese cloud motif. Lightweight, so I wear it only in the summer. I wore it the entire time I was in the hospital having my babies. I'd wear it all the time in Greece.

15. What is your dream job? Another tough one. Maybe being Anthony Bourdain's (sp?) sidekick just so I could try all those yummy looking foods in all those amazing places. Though I hear he's kind of a jerk.

16. What's your favorite magazine? Utne is a good one, though sometimes too heavy. Yes is optimistic and hopeful, highlighting the good in humanity. Always surprising to me that there is so much good being done. I don't have a very high opinion of the human race.

17. If you had $100 now, what would you spend it on? I might buy a pair of lovebirds. Cause I need more things to take care of. They'd look nice in my living room.

18. Describe your personal style.  I wear darkish/neutrally colors a lot of the time, because I don't like drawing attention to myself. But my house is yellow, with pink and purple trim. On a block with white, grey, and brown houses. It's also extraordinarily colorful on the inside. Stands out like a sore thumb. So I'd have to say my personal style is kinda oxymoronic.

19. What are you going to do after this? Clean up the taco dinner. Again, pathetic.

20. What are your favorite films? Moonstruck, To Kill a Mockingbird, Aliens, The Wizard of Oz, Practical Magic (hot chicks), Out of Africa

21. What's your favorite fruit? Mangoes. But not mangoes bought here in NY. Mangoes eaten where they grow. YUM

22. What inspires you? Sick kids. The ones who are sick for a long time, or their whole lives. They're so strong, and positive, and I've never known a single one who didn't have a huge heart. They put most grown ups to shame. They inspire me to be a better person and suck it up, just like they do.

23. Your favorite books? Five Smooth Stones; The Temple of My Familiar;  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; The God of Small Things; Eat, Pray, Love. And I also loved A Prayer for Owen Meany.

24. Do you collect anything? Aside from lost teeth and shed umbilical cords, no.

25. Any advice that's some from bitter experience? Do what you need to do, when you're ready to do it. And don't regret. Learn instead. It's all about what you can learn for the next time around.

26. What makes you follow a blog? A wicked sense of humor, especially when the blogger is able to turn the humor on her/himself. Also none of this my life is so perfect crap. Needs to be honest, and real... with the occasional f word. 

There you go. I don't know the rules either. So I'll just tag 4 people. Abu, Nola, Laura, and Linni. OK ladies, I groaned too. But it was actually kinda fun. If you're too busy boiling wool sweaters, or studying for the bar, or buttercreaming cupcakes, or caring for 2 generations and a cat, I'll understand. If not, I can't wait to read what you all have to say. As you are all wise and funny and totally irreverent. Irreverent, not irrelevant.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It's here

So the day I've been waiting for is finally here. The last day of school. And I feel...
sad

So unexpected, this feeling. The kids are at their final half day, and I'm emptying out their backpacks. Stuff from the entire school year. So many plastic folders crammed full of old notices and worksheets. Worn out workbooks for math and spelling. Two acres worth of tropical rain forest pulp. And as I go through the papers, I'm feeling homesick. Like I want to hold on, and not move forward.

I'm not so good with change. I like familiar.  Perhaps because familiar buffers life's unpredictability. I like to dig in, put down roots, stay in one place. I like the feeling of home.

Jack is nervous about 7th grade. He thinks all the teachers are mean. He was nervous about 6th grade, too. All year he's professed his profound dislike of it until about 2 weeks ago, when he too had to look towards something new and unknown. Now, suddenly, 6th grade was awesome.

And even though Ty's teacher allegedly favors eau du cheese doodle, he doesn't want to leave her either. 

Mia cried when she thought about the last time for this or the last time for that.

All three were dragging their feet to leave the house this morning. Not because they wanted to stay home, but because they don't want it to be over. They don't want to say good-bye. I think they have the feeling that they can never go back. Even though they will know all the kids in next year's class, and they know the teachers, it will be different. This time is gone.

I remember them being grumpy at school's end last year as well. But this year has been so difficult for them. Maybe it's just too much change, too much loss, too much instability.

Maybe, for me, it's evidence that my babies are growing up too quickly. Each school year passes with increasing speed. Maybe it's just that I know blink Jack will be graduating high school, then blink Mia will be too. Maybe that's why I have this pit in my stomach.

It's hard to leave things behind. It's hard to move on. 
I don't like it. Not one bit.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Here Comes the Son

After an entire month of rain.... something to lift the grey

                                   

does it get any better than this?


Ty picked up this cello last October, just after the fall equinox
At this time of the summer solstice, he plays his beloved cello to benefit the hungry

My son came out today and blinded me with his brilliance
He shone so bright it brought tears to my eyes
and the rays pierced my heart
        

                                                             video
yup, it does

Ty loves the minuets

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Signs that might be omens

I've been feeling really weird for the last 24 hours. Off kilter, with a feeling of trepidation, impending doom. Something's not right...

Thought it might be the weather. Too much rain, too many clouds. Not at all what we're accustomed to here in the Hudson Valley in June. I can only recall 2 sunny days this month. Everyone seems to be in a fog, muddled, edgy. Groaning about the weather and looking pasty and waterlogged. It's starting to feel like there will never be sun this summer. It's like at week 39 when you are convinced that your baby's never coming out and and you will go down in history as the only pregnant lady to never give birth. But we know that doesn't happen. Come hell or high water, the baby comes out. Eventually, the sun will come out too, right? And the rain will stop. I mean, it has to, doesn't it? There's no need to get superstitious or freaky or anything, is there? Still, there's talk of flooding as the rivers and streams overflow their banks. I heard it hasn't rained in Seattle in 28 days. weird
So, I talked myself off the ledge at the end of the world, and chalked my mood up to a temporary vitamin D deficiency. 

In an attempt to think happy thoughts, I decided to peek at the baby birds. I'd noticed that mama bird had flown off, so I climbed the porch railing, stood on tippy toes, leaned over, and saw...

a monstrosity

a large, panting featherless scaly reptilian thing.  Almost prehistoric looking, barely bird-like... oh no not more birdie trauma... Enormous in the nest, laying across the four small still unhatched eggs. What is that thing?? I jumped off the railing, my heart pounding, a feeling of revulsion in the pit of my stomach. 
So now I'm feeling weird again. Things aren't right. They feel unnatural. Something bad is gonna go down.




Then this morning I notice that my hydrangeas have bloomed. Blue. Like the color of a clear sky. And I look up...


Do my eyes deceive me? Am I hallucinating? Is that the sun?? But the forecast called for five more days of rain. Maybe it's a sign. A sign that everything's gonna be ok. That all is right in the world. Or at least in my world. As right as can be expected. Just that little bit of sunshine cleared out my brain and gave me hope. For a minute. Then the clouds rolled back in and the rain began to fall. It was a trick. A ha ha I fooled you nature kind of trick.
Nature thumbing her nose at me. 

Floods. Gross mutant bird frogs. I guess I'll just prepare myself for what might be coming next.

What's next?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Remembering on Father's Day

in the beginning

I remember riding on your shoulders at the Bronx Zoo. 
I remember running and jumping into your arms when you came home at night.
I remember feeling special.


in the end

Telling and retelling stories, drifting in and out of decades and continents. 
Often unsure of who I was, yet always the gentleman, always gracious, always charming. 
It was sometimes hard to breathe
watching you disappear before my eyes

Although you didn't remember my name, 
you remembered I was someone special.
Although you didn't remember your grandchildren, 
you knew they were beautiful and sweet, 
and they were precious to you. 

Although they said hours, you held on 
for days, and days  
refusing to leave us 



I love you, Daddy
Happy Father's Day

Friday, June 19, 2009

friday fragments



Friday Fragments courtesy of Mrs. 4444


mommy look at my snot she shows me a soggy folded tissue. 
no Mia, it's ok, I don't have to see 
no really mommy look, see here, and here. please mommy look and see
ok honey. she unfolds the soggy tissue blek good job honey 
I'm the Snot Master so proud

So when Mia was 4, she tromped into the kitchen 
mommy, do you want to come to Mexico with me and Ty? 
Mexico? Like the Mexico you take a plane to?
No, mommy. The Mexico you drive the van to.
hmmm... is it hot in this Mexico?
yes, mommy
and are there blue skies and blue water?
yes, mommy
and chips and salsa? I refrained from asking about Coronas with lime
yes, mommy she puts her hand on her hip and raises her eyebrows. There are even cute boys what can rub your feet
where did she come from?

It's raining again. It's rained like 18 out of the last 21 days. And when it's not raining, it's cloudy. Every morning I look at the mountain and it's covered in foggy clouds. I can't wake up. I've had a sinus headache for 3 weeks. It's not at all supposed to be like this here at this time of year. Jack said it feels like we're living in Forks. I think so many people are reading that damned Twilight series they're we're conjuring weather.

One more week left. Just half days. Jack is finishing his 6th grade finals. How do I have a 6th grader who takes finals? How did that happen?


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Are You My Mother? II

So the eggs are hatching. I can't post a pict cause I don't want to disturb mama bird.
The kids are dying to look, but I keep telling them they can't because...

When I was a kid, we had one of those old fashioned metal swing sets. The kind with a long metal tube welded to A-shaped supports on either end. We used to climb up and play telephone, whispering and yelling messages to each other through the tube.

One spring day, when I was in 3rd grade, my brother and I decided to play telephone. But his end of the tube was clogged up with stuff, so I told him to just pull it out. yup--bird's nest. In the pile of grass and twigs and fluff were two tiny bald baby birds. My mom said there's no use in trying to put everything back in the tube, because the mother bird won't care for the babies anymore because they have the smell of humans on them. 

I'd seen enough Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom and Wonderful World of Disney nature films in my day to have the notion that I could nurse those baby birds to adulthood. I imagined the birds would imprint on me and fly around my head and follow me and perch on my shoulder. Those birds were gonna love me, because I was gonna save them. I found an old shoebox. I asked my mom if she had a dropper for sugar water, but she didn't answer. Like I've said, she wasn't very good at protecting us from the hurts of day to day life. I think I recall some minimal effort to dissuade my endeavor. Michelle it's going to be hard to keep those birds alive. 
folding laundry   back turned   no eye contact

I used my finger to try and drop the sugar water onto their beaks. I worried that they wouldn't make it through the night. In the morning, one was dead. I remember feeling sick to my stomach at the thought of leaving for the day. I knew I couldn't ask to stay home from school. And I knew I couldn't ask my mom to take care of the bird while I was gone. 

I wonder if she was aware of my mood, my state, my quietness. I wonder if she saw my slumped shoulders, or my untouched breakfast, or my sadness. 
I wonder if she was saw me.

I thought about that baby bird all day. I got home, and it was dead. I remember noticing that the box was exactly where I had left it. I remember realizing that she hadn't even come to check, she hadn't tried, she didn't care. 
I was 8. And aware that she just didn't care.

I stayed in my room all afternoon. Alone. Such profound sadness. Too heartbroken to cry. Too full of regret. Too full of feelings of inadequacy. Feeling so sick inside over that baby bird that I just wanted to die. 
I was 8. And I wanted to die.      

I remember we had Chinese food from Tung Sing that night. Tung Sing was my favorite, and such a treat. Not coming to the dinner table was unheard of in our house. I couldn't bring myself to eat. I couldn't get off my bed. She didn't come to check on me. Not once.

I was 8. Ty is 8. I look at him, and he's still a baby. When he sleeps, I see the same frown on his face that I saw the very first time I held him asleep in my arms.  
I still see the face of my newborn. 
He's 8. He's a baby. 
I was a baby. 
I was HEARTBROKEN
How could she not see that?

How could she not see? 


it's a little heavy today--this blog is like regression therapy sometimes


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Animal tails II

The first time I was bwave enough to mention to a friend that I wished for chickens, she looked at me like I had two heads. For the eggs I explained. Eggs??? You can get eggs at the gas station for like 99 cents a dozen. Exactly. Well, it took several years to get my wish.

Chickens... part of that sustainable, self reliant, low impact, local, healthy and dammit unattainable life for which I continually grasp. I'd read all about raising chickens in Mother Earth News, and had a few books of course. When we moved to a house with a yard, I responsibly called the municipal office to inquire about local chicken rules. The guy hung up on me. Hmmm...

For a few years, chickens were on the back burner.
Then one day, a fairy godmother knocks on our front door. Ms. Maria from across the street. Very sweet, very ethereal a little kooky
She's has an "assignment". She needs to give away a white egg, and white chocolate. She hands Mia a hard boiled egg, and a small box of candy. oooh treats. Then she says, now if I only knew someone who wanted a white chicken. B says Michelle is dying for chickens. There you go.
Three days later Ms. Maria drops off a White Plymoth Rock and a Rhode Island Red. They can't be alone, she explains. So you have to have at least 2. OK fine with me.

I rigged up a temporary coop out of an old doggy crate.
Spent the next 2 weeks building a movable coop. It's pretty cool. Has a nesting box, an enclosed area with a perch for sleeping, and a mini run with chicken wire walls. The kids and I could move it around the yard using lengths of PVC pipe as rollers and I'd talk to them about Stonehenge ok mom, the coop is moved, can we go back to our video games now? Not nearly as elegant and plumb as some coops, but I was quite satisfied.

During the day Barbara and Laura were the poster girls for free range hens. In the morning they would pace back and forth in the run until the door was opened for them. They'd roam the yard all day long clucking their happy chicken clucks. At sunset they'd march right into their coop, and we'd lock them up for the night. That first egg was like a miracle. And each egg thereafter was just as exciting. 

This is Barbara
big and white

This is Laura
kinda dumb

Funny. Once you spend a little time with chickens, it's easy to see how all those American euphemisms came into being. Pecking order, chickens comin' home to roost, hen pecked, flew the coop.

Right. Flying. 
Our backyard is fenced in, and borders the elementary school. About a week into chickening, I noticed Barbara perched on the back fence. Shit. Here chickie chickie chickie. Over the fence she goes into the school parking lot. shit shit shit shit. B's about to leave for work. B, you gotta help me get the fucking chicken. Oh, Chica you're kidding. B drives the minivan and I go on foot. There we are running around the school property like chickens with our heads cut off trying to corner and catch this damn bird. We're both completely wigged out at the idea of having to pick the thing up. Chica, what do you mean you don't know how to hold it? Well I kinda just dumped them out of the box they came in onto the grass. We finally bagged the bird with an old sheet and don't you know, the darned thing fell asleep as soon as her head was covered. just like they say.

After several other escapades, I figure out how to clip wings . And it worked.
No more flying the coop.
But alas, fall came, and with it early sunsets and night marauders. Raccoons. 

A raccoon took out Barbara. Gruesome.

Laura wandered around for days, crying. Yes, I really think she was crying, her clucking sounded so sad and lost. She was disoriented. She wouldn't eat. She stopped laying. When we were out on the patio, she'd come sit under my chair, just like the dog.  The kids thought she was confused by not having anyone to be a chicken with.
I think she was sitting shiva for her friend Barbara.

Someone said you'd better get her some friends or she's gonna die

Meet Jenna
a Light Brahma
it looks like she's wearing ostrich feathered mules

and Lil' Babs
a Barred Plymouth Rock
she's the plain sister

All the chickens lived happily ever after in our yard, scratching and pecking and laying yummy eggs. The kids loved them. The dog tolerated them. And they didn't fly away cause I clipped their wings...

Right. I clipped their wings. And this past fall, all three were taken out by nasty predators, maybe because they couldn't fly to safety. Brutal.

I miss the chickens.  Don't know if I'm bwave enough to try again. Maybe. We'll see...
Your fairy is called Columbine Icedancer
She is a bone chilling bringer of justice for the vulnerable.
She lives in mushroom fields and quiet meadows.
She is only seen when the bees swarm and the crickets chirrup.
She wears lilac and purple like columbine flowers. She has icy blue butterfly wings.