Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Then I started packing up my sewing cupboard.  It's been sixteen years since this cupboard was cleaned out the last time and it is positively chock full of fabric, rickrack, stuffing and buttons. Ribbons, pins, needles, bits and bobs of trim and fake fur. It is, in other words a hot mess measuring 7'X3'X4', what was anyone with good sense thinking of, allowing me a house this size, of my very own. Isn't it clear that I am not to be trusted with SPACE?

Another year gone by

I don't have any big resolutions by here is some decent sad music, by guys I like a lot


or try this instead...


Monday, December 30, 2013

The good news is that the kitchen is about halfway packed up and I have people coming to help me finish it up on Saturday.  The bad news is that I don't have things packed for the rental, well I have some food, a box of canned food, from the kitchen, packed, so I am sort of semi-ready to exit this place.
There was a glitch with the poodle's accommodation for the renovation, which was fixed at the 11th hour, after much hand wringing.   The poodle has become a totally and complete pain in the ass over the last few months, with incontinence firmly in place. He is not registered at a dog hotel, that rivals our rental.

I had a terrible dream last night that I was standing in an office in my underpants, not even my good underpants, just old white cotton underpants, and that I was desperately trying to phone my husband to come pick me up, but the phone that I was borrowing was one of those overly complicated smart phones, and each time I dialed, something would go wrong and I was getting really agitated, and the woman that owned the phone was no help at all.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Tick Tock!

In a week we will move out of our house, and a wrecking crew will come in and tear out the ceilings and floor and replace them with things that are much nicer.  This has created a great deal of stress in me for months, which is well documented here.  My mother is puzzled that I have not packed things up, little by little, here and there, a box in every corner, the place turned upside down (we have done some of that, which I hate). 

"I want to do it all at once, so that there is only one day of chaos."

My mother is not particularly bothered by chaos, so she doesn't really understand my point of view.  Rolf, who also is not bothered by chaos, totally understood, having lived with me for 24 years.  He knows that having things half done for a month would drive me batty. 

Two days ago we learned that the color I had selected for the floor is not available in the material we are going with (click VS sheet).  The contractor sent me a very nice photo of a very tasteful grey-blue, which made me cry for two days, because I would rather be boiled in oil than have a tasteful grey floor.  My mother rushed over with swatches.  She knew the grey thing would break me, and had tried to beat the e-mail. 

"What about doing this black and cream checkerboard?"

"I guess that would be ok, but I don't have anything black or cream and I don't really like it.  I would feel like I was living in someone else's life, or in a hotel. "

"Black and white is very tasteful and classic!"

"But I am not very tasteful or classic, I like whimsy and color."

In the end I chose a buttery yellow and a slightly darker blue.  Darker than the original, but not a bit of grey.  I think the contractor was horrified, but I don't really care.  I have to live with it, and I want to love it. 

Christmas 2013

Mark and I attended a party that had an elephant theme.  Why an elephant theme? I have no idea, but there I am with a trunk.  If you had ever wondered what I would look like with a trunk, you know now. 

Maxwell and I with Maxwell's new haircut, which was mostly against my wishes. I was terribly sad to see the Robert Plant hair go, but my mother was ecstatic, so I suppose that is worth something.

Freyja with her Christmas dress, which she wore for approximately 10 minutes, under duress.

Rolf bought me this set of china sometime in the early 90's, and it was possibly the most shocking gift anyone has ever given me.  I had coveted them for months, but never in a million years would have ever splurged on them.  He bought the silk napkins and napkin rings too.  There is only service for four, so I hardly ever use them, but I bought some funny Christmas plates to mix in, so I sometimes use them on Christmas day, instead of the Spode.

While I was busy talking to the contractor about flooring, Freyja laid the whole table herself, exactly as I would have, had I not been freaking out about flooring materials and color, in the next room.  Somethings she really gets.

Waiting to open the door to the livingroom to see if Santa remembered us.

I love this kid more than the law should allow, even if he cut his hair and is a great deal taller than I am.  Christmas morning, unshowered, unkempt and ratty- me.

Christmas eve, right after Santa came. 

Julbord! My obsession with Sweden really has no limits.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013 talking turkey

 Thanksgiving was up in the air because of the remodel.  We had planned to skip it, or have it at my mom's tiny houselette, but then Ben, our contractor was offered a job that would give him some extra cash at the time when he needed to prove income to by a house, so we decided to push back the remodel until after New Years and have it after all, despite our house being half torn up and half packed up.  We had 18 people, and it was nice.  Karen came down from Olympia and we had a nice time cooking.  I had been terribly depressed for weeks so it was nice to have someone around that is both uplifting and unobtrusive.
Brussels sprout salad with maple vinaigrette

Making stuffing and mashed potatoes with Rolf

sides and bread

The most potatoes ever

My friend Pam.  We met through Hipmama and have been friends since our boys were babies in strollers

ham and turkey

Mark and his mom

Me and Pam

I asked Mark to make a nice photo with me, and this is what I got

My mom and Freyja

The after party- dancing to "London Calling"

Sunday, November 17, 2013

breaking up is hard to do

This is a reply I wrote to a friend that was describing an ugly divorce.  Having never been divorced myself, I am no expert, but here is what I thought to say.

Oh, be civil! 

My own parents managed to be so ugly to each other in their divorce and not speak to each since (40ish years) that I feel scarred for life, destroyed, but I am a sensitive soul I suppose. I see how damaging that road was, and I would rather live under a bridge, eating cat food than put my children through it.

I on the other hand am mostly friendly with everyone I ever dated, that preppie fellow not withstanding, he remains an angry, indignant, mystery. I suppose it makes it easy that I have never had two pennies to rub together and always dated musicians and artists who were poorer than me, I was the one with a bathmat, a car, a frying pan. What would I have taken or demanded? A gig-bag, a wahh peddle, a frayed black jacket?

One more on social anxiety please

I was talking to a friend about social anxiety and how I can talk your ears right off your head, in a one on one situation, but throw me into a party or a group and I will clam up and appear mute,weird, cold and unfriendly.  I have no idea if that is a good or bad thing (I think most people think it's a bad thing, but I am holding out optimism that perhaps I have been judged overly harshly MY WHOLE LIFE.) Ironically, I talk to people for work, so over the years I have successfully been able to compartmentalize enough to be successful most of the time. 
My mother is fond of telling me that I need to take something for my anxiety, and while this might be true, I have not really observed people taking things with a great deal of luck.  I mean, the people I know that take something for their bad nerves, typically wind up with side effects equal or worse than being shy and nervous.  So, for now I am continuing to just say no.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

remember that time we got arrested? No, not that time...

I had coffee with my friend S and he reminded me of the time we were arrested, well held captive, by a rent a cop in Dunthorpe, in 1984.

It all started with my step sister inviting some people over for a party, which made me nervous, these people would not be up to anything good.  My boyfriend was with me.  He wasn't any more pleased with the situation than I was, but somehow we both wound up walking with the group, a rag tag collection of  skater boys, to downtown Lake Oswego, to shouldertap for beer.

Was it summer? It must have been, since the weather was pleasant, and Shawn was wearing shorts. Chris, the dirtiest boy in the whole wide world was along, and Marcus, "Tall Marc" a fellow that towered over all of us, making my 5'2" look cartoonishly tiny, making the other boys seem like children, I can't remember who else, the step sister and her college boyfriend stayed behind.  I seem to have been sent along for moral fortitude, to prevent the operation from heading into Lord of the Flies territory.  I had a crush on the tall guy, I may have volunteered to go, who knows.  It was an ill conceived trip.  I think we snaked through the upscale neighborhood for a while, before turning off onto the main highway. On our way, the local rent a cop, who knew by by sight, stopped us and shook us down briefly.  The boys postured. I explained "out for a stroll officer" and gave my address.

OOPS! This was intended at be saved as a draft... to be continued!

is it insecurity?

 Oh Dear me oh my I see that a bunch of DRAFTS without EDITING got published, WTF?  OUCH!

or nostalgia that drives me to read memoirs and essays by forty somethings, about their salad days and youth, about the anonymous sex of the early 80's?

Is it memories or validation that makes me chose these books over and over...

Here I go again


as that Was not was song  said is to well I LIKE IT. I am reading Everyone into the pool, by Beth Lipsick.

I am liking, not loving (this is not liar's club,)
but it her experiences are familiar, and amusing.

This gal is a little too high functioning for me to fall on my knees shouting

but a nice little laugh is nice, right?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

It's that time of the year, so Rolf took Freyja and headed to Sauvie Island to procure pumpkins.  To tell the god's honest, shit has been a little intense around her and I have not been in the running for mother of the year award.  I have purchased zero pumpkins.  I have also not murdered anyone, so I am calling it a WIN. the bathroom is semi-finished, I have no idea when it will be all the way finished. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The drama of our home improvements continue onward. 

We decided to do the bathroom too, while we are at it- what's the lack of a shower between family members?

Last week was a very intensely stressful week, that came to a somewhat explosive conclusion which involved me yelling at the contractor, over the bathroom vanity, that was made of particleboard. 

Not even nice looking, it just looked terrible. 

My mother had already nixed it's installation but when I saw it, I snapped.  I lost all confidence in the contractor and his ability to understand me and my house needs and well, frankly, I was not that shit hot on him to begin with. 

I don't enjoy being pitched, or wooed or up-sold.  I enjoy straight talk and keeping even that at a minimum.  This guy is a bit of a taker and he irritates me.  I should cut him a little slack, because I am pretty unusual, most people enjoy a bit of chatter and salesmanship, but I don't. 

That is just that,  


Then my mother drove to industrial NW Portland looking for a replacement vanity and found one, but by cracky when we went to pick it up Friday evening, it was lost, the warehouse couldn't find it.  I had already had my little breakdown, so at that point I was just sort of numb.  It all turned out fine by Saturday, when we found a Alder vanity at another place, but MAN, OH MAN, what a pain.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Life is terribly complicated and difficult.

It's true friends it is. 

I am remodeling our kitchen, our 100 year old shitty kitchen,



My 7 year old cat is lying on my computer mouse and not being one iota ironic, and my

14 year old poodle is wailing upstairs, while I write. 

My 14 year old boy, is ignoring the poodle, either that, or he is wearing headphones. 

Either way, life is complicated, and difficult.

I am writing this post in a format that would suggest poetry, but I am giving only the most cursory thought to form, or function. 

I am being,

in short,


I am not writing a lune, or a haiku, or a poem, or refined prose, I am being insolently sloppy and negligent, 

even     though    I    know    better.   

They might revoke my ENGLISH degree.  

So back to the kitchen.  My kitchen is currently a large square room with appliances.  My mother, god bless her heart, is designing something that should make me very happy at some point in the future, but for the present, is only making me very nervous. 

We are talking back splashes, and subway tile. 

We are talking about making the archway into my mudroom 6" smaller, we are talking about oven vents, which makes me want to stick my head in the oven.  

It will be beautiful. 

My mother is a mountain of talentAshley, you used that term years ago and it remains brilliant, stealing it here.

I am keeping my day job, as expert worry person.   I am working overtime, in fact. 

That is the long and short of this poem to no one, and nothing.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Two weeks of catching up, no catsup, however

borscht for a freind

The boy and I out to dinner at Mi Mole, too spicy for both of us, although I like the flavor profile

my other baby

He had to play in the band for a football game, and didn't come home until almost 11:00 Friday and I missed him a lot, this is such an ugly picture of me, but I like it of Maxwell, so I'm leaving it.

because we are silly

my new red dress, on my way to meet an old friend for coffee, two weeks ago, before all the rain. I've had those shoes for over 20 years.  They are excellent shoes.

Working early Saturday makes me a little cranky

Rolf treated me for my birthday, a mere nine month late.  Bar Dobre, I love it, the green walls, the sauerkraut, the beets, the candlelight, the grapefruit cocktails.

I made an apple pie, because I like apple pie and I am good at making them, and I wanted to do something that made me feel competent and accomplished, so there.

Freyja and her friend made pizza, which they didn't really eat much of.  They had more fun playing out in the pouring rain.

Pie + Pizza = Motherly love 

What we talk about when we talk about rain

The first big rain of the year started up yesterday and hasn't let up since; it's supposed to go on until Thursday. 
It spoiled Freyja's soccer game, and forced me inside for a work event, but other than a bit of wet hair, the rain doesn't disturb me one bit. 

Having Freyja cooped up all weekend is disturbing, but she is a high maintenance child, that much is well documented.

I was talking to a poet friend about heritage the other evening. 

We talk often over "chat" which feels perfectly normal for me, but seems funny to some folks. 

It is funny I guess, but it's what I have, so there you go.

He said he doesn't feel that connected to his families heritage, which seems strange to me. 

I grew up being told the same stories over and over, on both sides of my family.  Who did what back during the depression.  What it was like on the farm during the war. What happened when the indentured servants got here from Ireland and ran off.  Who ran around with the James Gang, who rode the train across the country, who was a Quaker, who was German,  who was an orphan, who had red hair, who had blue eyes.  
Great detailed accounts of both my parent's and grandparent's lives.  I knew my great-grandparents well, and my grandfather's grandmother died when I was a teenager.  A benefit to having teen parents, I suppose.

My friend told me a couple of stories he did know about his grandparents. 

I told him about my family and the red braid my aunt is so proud of, that was whacked off of the dead body of one of our great-grandmother's when she died in childbirth.  My mother always gets irritated when my Aunt Ruth tells that story.  Ruth is very fond of genealogy, and also of speculation.

What do your suppose she died of... ? Was she all alone? 

Which always prompts my mother to say something like who cares? Which hurts my aunt's feelings.  She is very invested in this character, her red braid and her unknowable story.  It is the unknowable part that touches my aunt so, and leaves my mother so cold.  My mother is interested in the concrete, my aunt is invested in the what ifs.  It is a fundamental difference in temperament that separates people, not just these two. 

My friend is a poet and writes professionally.  He recently wrote an short essay on our friendship.  On my kindness during his divorce, and the loss of his young child, to distance.  I was stunned by this essay, because I assume most people would be kind, but I learned that they were not very kind, they were somewhat indifferent, or annoyed that he was sad. 

This is another fundamental human difference in people, how we treat sadness, or feelings. 

My willingness to listen to people's stories is often perceived as niceness, when in reality, it is more a desire to be heard when the time comes.  Carving out a path, where someone might reciprocate, I suppose.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Fur S with love and cheese

I had an e-mail from my dear S asking if I was ok, since I hadn't been blogging much lately, and well I suppose, I am technically okish, but it has been a grind.  Aunt Karen came for a few days, we are back to school, activities and working full tilt.  So we had a few nice evenings, we met up at Bread and Ink for happy hour, because I had a long week and didn't feel like cooking, or thinking or working very hard, once I got home from work.  I was surprised to see Maxwell taller than Rolf, that seemed strange and unexpected. 

 then I made an elaborate Italian meal with anchovies in the salad and two sauces, because I felt guilty for being so wicked and lazy.

I have two friends in the hospital, one is quite ill, which made me terribly sad.  I made food, I delivered it, I felt inadequate and teary.

Tired and concerned with all the sick people I know

It was warm enough to sit outside until late, playing Chinese checkers and admiring the poodle
a great deal of cheese
Onions for spaetzle

Karen and I toasting to old friends and the power of beets.  I am looking hideous in a crew neck dress, someone should have warned me.

Make some noodles YO!

Pudding and checkers the great healers

Because we are so classy!

A crown for my friend Tony's child, finished at last.  Karen wore it a bit, Queen of Everything!