Saturday, November 15, 2008

Santa Ana Saturday

Wind and heat like this ought to desiccate mucus, viral and bacterial infections and leave a body feeling revived and healed. Everything is d r y. No, not arid... I am talking about statically charged, zero humidity, start a fire grinding your teeth parched. That kind of d r y. And it is hot. It's pretty hot and dry. And dry.

On the recovery front, I feel just well enough that I started to clean. I cleared one spot, then sat. I cleared another spot then keeled over. I cried for a few minutes, then I gave the children lime popsicles with vitamin C and let the chicas out. Besides being sick and having no energy from too many long, sleepless nights, it seems like every chore requires a man. OKay. I could probably manage to clean without him, but what about the hardware store run he was going to make... for the sand, the bolt, the bulbs? What about the broken bed we were going to take down and the piano we talked about moving? Should I install shelves in our closet for Maria or should I repurpose the tall dresser for her clothes? Where does he want the air compressor? Notice how none of these things has anything to do with putting away groceries, laundry and papers, or mopping, dusting, sorting and buying vacuum bags? I suppose it all comes of having only enough energy to think about what needs to be done and not enough energy or sense to do anything about it.

We did see Geoff last night. He came home after 4 days away in the salt mines. Our brief reunion was... brief.

What about the chicas? How are they?

Here are the chooks, the biddies, the chicas. Frida, a.k.a. Buttercup is adjusting her feathers, Fantam is looking us square in the eyes, and Betty is testing her dustbath. Plump, healthy, sheltered and adored and not 1 egg among them. Maybe they sell them to the 'possum before I get out there. Maybe they are quiet roosters.

I thought about making a healthy pot of you know what soup, but I haven't the heart. Look at Fantam the Bantam. She's so pretty. Don't look at my dirty door... Doesn't she have an interesting comb? Is that a strawberry comb or something like that?

Here's Lady Betty Orpington looking in my dirty door. Benjamin Franklin Thunder Cat is watching her. He's jealous. He doesn't want to be a chicken, but he does want to free range. I think he'd try to lay an egg if he thought it would get him time outside.

Betty is pretty, but she's not too bright. There. I said it. She has no idea who I am or why I come with food and water every day. Not a clue.

This is the smart one. She's first to run over when I call with a treat in my hands. She knows I come with good stuff. She's wary and quick, but she has enough sense to recognize me. I can't believe she inspired the name Buttercup. If you haven't heard, we call her Frida these days.

Neither the brightest nor most dim... just shy. I wish she weren't so shy, because she is irresistibly plump and downy and I just want to hold her on my lap and listen to her share the day's gossip. Fantam the Bantam. The boys named her. It's such a cool name.

Reading the last chapters of Harry Potter, Alex and Max in the tent. Max set up the tent last weekend, before he got sick. They slept out there 1 night. The tent has to come down today, but on this very hot day it was the perfect spot to enjoy lime popsicles and the exciting conclusion of a very good read.

I am going to drag myself to the vacuum store. At least if I have the vacuum bags on hand the magical elves, that visit good mothers, will have them ready for use.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I Love Fridays

I made a big pot of soup, with lots of garlic and cilantro and turkey meatballs and carrots and celery and onion and zukes. It was steaming and nourishing and tasted oh so good. I wore thick socks, drank water, sat in sunlight, reflected on the goodness in the universe and slathered Vick's on my... self. I have been perfect and precious and wonderful and I am still really, really frickin' sick and it's no fair! Just saying.


It's Friday. I'm not sure whether I still actually love Fridays or if it's a holdover from school days, when Friday meant the last day of school and work, and the beginning of freedom and frivolity and the hope of fun. Yes, Friday holds promise and anticipation. So, when I don't over think it, Friday makes me happy. Do you know what else makes me happy? Alliteration. Alliteration makes me feel festive and fabulous. Alliteration allows artistic and auditory alphabetic alacrity... in America. Remember, I am not well.

In celebration of Friday and alliteration, I am going to join Nikkipolani and make this a Friday Faves post. Is it "Five Friday Favorites?" Yes, that would be fantastically alliteral.

Five Friday Favorites For the Greater Good and Gratitude

1. Playmobile toys are a favorite of mine. I love the attention to detail and the little worlds they represent. Ours are on the high shelf and the children ask for them when they want quiet and cozy play. Maybe they sense, like me, that it's comforting to put the bunnies or people, the flowers and trees and the hats and ducks in place. It's nice to visit a place where there is order and bright colors, where we can make happy outcomes and no one is feverish and achey.

2 Lotion in tissue is today's second favorite. If you know something horrible about tissue with lotion... if it's made from baby bunnies or causes premature senility, please keep it to yourself. I don't care how bad the economy gets, life is too short for cheap, stiff, scratchy tissues. Pamper us please. We are so tender.

3. Flannel. Flannel is a Friday favorite... all week long. It's cold and I don't want to dry out the air any more than it is in these pre-Santa Ana conditions, so we are not turning on the furnace. I made Maria a pair of flannel pants, and she has these new holiday pajamas to ward off the chill. Our guest bed needs sheets, and maybe those should be flannel too. And I am anxious to make some flannel scarves. Fa-La-La-La-La Fa-Flannel!

4. DVDs and yes, Blue-Ray. Sorry to be such a consumer, but the cold hard fact is: I love me some movie time on my own terms, in my own space. I love the pause button and rewind and subtitles. I love watching Elf in November. I love fast forward and skip. I love that I can rent, borrow and buy movies that I like. I love that when my voice is gone and Maria is too tired to play with bunnies or color, and too cranky to put away colors and bunnies, that she can watch Cinderella. I love that she is snug, quiet, safe and distracted.

5. In the midst of being sick and tired and frustrated I can still laugh and look around and feel blessed and acknowledge that Fridays are good. "Gratitude" is my #5 Friday Favorite.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Oh Woe Is We

William is on the mend.
Alex may be going down, but he made it to school today.
Max is stricken and the only thing worse than his symptoms is the dread he feels regarding missing school.
Maria insists she is not sick, but that doesn't help her, or me, sleep at 3 a.m. when she is coughing and sneezing and crying for tissues and hugs.
I got it too. It's a mean bug and as I lay awake, moaning and aching I am penitent. Do you ever get that way when stricken with flu or cold? Suddenly I can recall every chore left undone and every misdeed done, and I make pitiful, solemn vows to be a better person... cleaner, neater, friendlier, more organized, less neglectful, more fit, less fat, more flossing, less self-critical. Is it the fever? Delirium? In the wee hours, in the dark, wracked with pain and congestion, I imagine that I would rather be cleaning the closets and decontaminating surfaces. I admonish myself for being a procrastinator and a lackadaisical domestic engineer.

How about Maria's dry erase chicken? Pretty cute. Kind of mythological... makes me think of the legendary scorpion chicken. Not a fatal sting, but it makes you think twice before ordering an omelette.

This is not one of those posts I will look back on, wondering why Terry Gross never called. No this is just me, passing time... too headachy to operate heavy machinery or work with sharp objects, too congested to read aloud, too sleepy to think of what sick people should do. Is it soup? Should I make soup? I think I'll make soup.


You know what's cool? The Internet. The Internet is totally cool. Janece posted an assortment of links and this video was as fortifying as any soup... the children and I busted up laughing watching the cat in the box. Seriously brilliant... unless you don't like cats without exception.

The Internet provides. This came with a racial tag line, but I like to think we can see it as a universal joke... presenting the Greater Depression Fire Alarm:

Where there's heat, there's fire and this will wake you in a jiffy!

eruhhh achooo mehhh

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

WIP It, WIP It Good

WIP: Work In Progress.
Loose threads everywhere. And I am still attached to my crochet hooks, so everywhere I turn there are WIPs waiting for my attention.

You may have heard me mention an area quilt shop once or twice. Now when I pop in with the children, a game of chess is requisite. Kim, the proprietress, is an amazing talent. Her quilts are tales in fabric, original and lovely, and a favorite of ours is her chess quilt.

I love her 3-D chess pieces, and the cozy color choices she made. She really knows how to capture the mood and feeling of her themes.

So, you may have guessed, I've been inspired. I chose some favorite prints and colors for our chess quilt. I am thinking of it being a quilt that will stand up to 4 children and days at the beach or park, camping and backyard picnics. Ours will be 56 inches square... a nice lap quilt, when it isn't a game board. The hard part was deciding on the pieces. I decided to go with something that would come together a bit quicker than little figures, so I went with beanbags, but how to distinguish them? Pawns and rooks, and opposing colors... decisions, decisions...

Since quilting and designing are supposedly just hobbies, something to do in my freetime, I finally decided to stick with simple. Basic forms and machine applique. I sketched the essential figures and then traced those on freezer paper. Yay freezer paper! This was my first time trying this handy technique and it was a happy success. Even simple is time consuming, but as I see the results and think ahead to comfy and cozy games playing together, I am motivated to keep cutting, stitching, and stuffing.

16 blue and 16 brown. I will not hand quilt this one, since my biggest, semi-secret WIP of all is still waiting for binding.

Rook and bishop. I will add just a bit of embroidery to really distinguish these minimalist designs. I stuff them with poly-fill and tiny beads, which give them a nice weight... perfect for tossing at the gloating winner...haha!

The derpday is the other major inspiration for sitting in the sewing room. Maria has been helping me make princess favor bags for her guests. She chooses fabrics and helps pull the drawstring through the sleeve. They are coming out princess-dorable, in pink and purple and also in monkey.

Alex called *dibs* on this monkey bag!

Home made favors and decor are not time savers, or necessarily less expensive than store bought, but I am dedicated to avoiding plastic and too many party disposables. Plus I am enjoying the process and playing with details for Maria's first birthday party. We've had cupcake celebrations, and coloring with immediate family, but this 4th birthday is her first invitation-favors-games and friends party and I want it to be special.

I have more to do and tea to sip. Max looks loads better today than he did yesterday, but he still won't eat. He's coughing and weak. Alex got them more than half way through book 6 of Harry Potter, and he's reading more now. Maria and I are congested, low and slow. So, I am thinking... Excellent! We will be sick now, cough-cough, and then we will be healthy and vigorous, bright eyed and brilliant all the rest of autumn and winter! It's a perfect plan!

I'm Tho Thick

My head is pounding, my nose is 'tuffed, my throat hurts and I am achey all over.
I think I may be thick.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Rain Clouds and Dragons

Maria's illustrations are getting very elaborate, and she narrates as she goes, which is fun to listen to. She does the voices and acts out the little dramas and trials. Standing in the gate of this castle is a king and he is being visited by a family of dragons, including a baby dragon. The flag at the top of the castle is waving, despite the rain falling from the clouds, and the rain has done little to dampen the flames of the torches on the two balconies. I am sorry you cannot see the king's horse. The horse is grazing on daisies, behind the castle.

I think her latest work was inspired by the discussion I was having with Alex and William. We are trying to come up with an illustration for original chess pieces. William knows a lot about the origins and history of chess... game play and art. Alex is familiar too and he's been helping me design pieces for a chess set quilt... a checkerboard and playing pieces in fabric. There are a lot of options and ideas to search through, and we really enjoyed the very oldest game pieces, which were once quite elaborate... so while we were talking about knights and horses and castles, rooks, kings and bishops, and sketching rough plans, Maria played along.

Max did not join us in the chess conversation, though he would have enjoyed it. He is sick. Very. He's done 3 things today... listen, sleep and vomit. He has a fever and chills, he sipped three spoonfuls of broth tonight and the rest of the day he has been either asleep or listening to Alex read from the 6th Harry Potter book. Holly lent the boys her copies of the last 2 books in the series, and I am glad for Max that he can still enjoy being read to. And I am glad that Alex likes to read aloud. There's no school tomorrow, which was supposed to be a good thing, but it's now become just a necessary thing.

Don't ask me how I am feeling... I am flatly refusing to acknowledge any uncomfortable symptoms or the fatigue I am feeling from too little sleep. I feel perfectly fine. Thank you.

Tomorrow I am going to post about quilts and other WIPs. Tonight I am going to sip hot lemon tea, and listen to Alex read. And you? Stay well. Sip tea, and keep rain and dragons at bay.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Sunday Sum Up

Maria and her cousin, Isabella... Izzy. The rocker girls, sitting together, eating corn chips at Tutu's house.

I think I know how my friend Jennifer is feeling, or at least I believe I know what she means, when she talks about chipping away at doing what she can and trying to catch up.

Sure, I get giddy when I manage to fold a load of laundry or clear major junks from the car interior, but honestly, most days I am at the base of Everest. I am at the base of Mt. Everest and my sherpa has walked away with my oxygen, there is 0 visibility and Yeti rumors are rampant.

But I'm not alone am I? Jennifer, you aren't alone either. My last post was such a ridiculous confession, so embarrassing, and yet I keep getting these fabulous comments from all of you that remind me that we are sharing common ground... we have similar weaknesses and trials and stumbling points. It's such a relief, such a blessing... really, it's a gift to hear from others that understand and want to share, so thank you. Thank you for your company and for the giggles we share.

Now, I know I frequently mention Geoff's loooong work days, but we are entering the time of year we call "crunch mode" and it's in these next few months when his long hours get really, exceptionally ridiculous. Really, really. Right through the holidays and weekends and dinnertime and bedtime and change the inaccessible light bulbs time... it gets real rough. I need to shift gears and set a different pace for myself, because the relief shift can't come in at the end of the day.

Geoff and I were talking about coping skills and how to make this place operate more smoothly, and look less foxhole. My mission is to delegate. I need to make use of the workforce... a.k.a. the 4 children who live and play here. I admit I have been "homework sympathetic," which means I spare them extra chores and hardships, because I feel sorry for them when they come home with papers and books and that weary look in their eyes. So, I am going to be more disciplined in managing my time and theirs, and I am not going to let them escape learning how to contribute to making this house comfortable and homey. It's a process, right? Figuring out what works, trying to let go of what does not work... hopefully we'll make good progress on the domestic front.

I just finished editing photographs of silverware; a friend is selling them on Ebay. Next I need to get family portraits on a disc and delivered to a client. I think I will feel some relief when these 2 jobs are all wrapped up and behind me.

It's been a long time since I take pictures of the chicas. They haven't changed much... maybe they are bigger, maybe they look more like chicos than chicas... where the heck are the eggs ladies?! Ahem. It rained a bit today, so I could have posted a picture of the seasonal lake that forms in our backyard. If I'd known we would still be living here, I would have brought home ducklings instead chicks.

My calendar says "yard sale?" for last Saturday, but that did not come together. Maybe we should have one next Saturday. Our last yard sale was September 1994, when we were moving from the Squaremont house to the Circlemount house. Ever since then we just make generous donations, but the boys are very intrigued and inspired to try a yard sale and make gobs and gobs of money. I am debating... gobs and gobs of money... maybe even enough to pay for dinner out vs. sorting, clearing, organizing, pricing, haggling and selling to an early rising public. Hmmmmm....

I hesitate to turn this post in to another one of my to do lists, but I do need to prioritize and get my act together. So much is slipping and sliding.

I need to buy sand and straw... chicken business
I need to buy kitty litter... because, you know...
I need to finalize details for the Princess Derpday and Tournament... details, details, details
I need to decide whether to ask Garybob, again, to consider fixing the plumbing... on this point I will spare you the details, but I must say we are "roughing it" a bit too much.
I need to tell the school curriculum committee that I am not a good fit as a volunteer parent... Maria gave a rousing impression of a little girl having a huge public meltdown at the last meeting.
I need to accept professional help to cope with my profound disappointment about not being in our own home by the holidays and possibly I should unpack and move in, since it has been 2 years since we arrived here.
I need to chip away at what I can and let go of the rest... even if the "rest" leaves me embarrassed, sad, frustrated, angry, bummed or feeling inferior. Release.


Now I am going to pick up my yarn and crochet another scarf or face cloth or mouse, and I'll listen to Alex read the 6th Harry Potter book to Max. William is getting over a cold and Maria is coping with a broken door on her toy kitchen. The cats are extra cuddly on this cold, damp evening. Good night.