Sunday, July 31, 2005

Do not send your child to football camp

And expect that same child back. You'll send a perfectly amicable, mostly pleasant, moderately clean child TO camp. At the end of the day you will receive BACK a perfectly exhausted, completely grumpy, extremely stinky child.

A child so tired and crabby he will walk through the door and collapse onto the couch. A child who believes he needs a nap before he can make it the rest of the way through the house and to the shower. A child who accuses you of being lazy because his favorite pair of shorts is dirty and he's forced to OPEN his dresser drawers (or wherever he's keeping his clothes these days) and find something else to wear. A child that thinks expecting him to be able to do his chores or anything else in the same day as football camp is near to child abuse. A child that can no longer find a happy or civil sentence in his entire brain. A child who believes being forced to listen to your stupid ol' chanting music, because he's too tired to escape it by going to his room (or hey, maybe a shower), is cruel and unusual punishment.

Also, do not send him again the next day, naively expecting that he's "adjusted" to the getting up early and exercising for hours in the sun and heat. He hasn't. In fact, he will have less reserves then he did the first day. It will not be BETTER the next day when he returns home from camp.

I've been forced to make plans to go out with my friend Shelly tonight to avoid going completely insane.

I repeat:

Do NOT send your child to football camp.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

I'm spoze tobee doin sumthin

But I'm not. Well, technically, one is always "doing something". It might be sitting on one's butt reading e-mail. It might be nothing more then standing stock still except for one's chest rising up and down with one's breathing. But that's still something. I suppose even if you're dead, you're doing something. Laying there, decomposing. Okay, never mind, I've been cruising too many Halloween websites today. I just joined a new e-list, a "we all love Halloween" e-list. It's fun. Not what I'm s'posed to be doing. But fun.

Anyhooo, back to the title of this blog entry, whether I am or am not doing something. What I mean is, I'm not doing what I want to be doing. What I want to force myself to do. What I told myself I'd do. What I said I wanted to get to just as soon as....(fill in an excuse here). It's no longer hotter then the inside of an oven at 350 degrees (it's more like an oven that was on but has been turned off just long enough so you won't actually burn yourself anymore if you touch it). I'm no longer stressing over escrow issues. The fair has been over for five days now. I'm not coming home from a trip or yet planning the next one. If I answered you honestly (which I probably wouldn't at this point), my days are pretty much open and should allow for lots and lots of me doing something that falls in the "useful" category. I've run out of reasons why I'm not doing these things I said I wanted to be doing.

"These things", by the way, include such tasks as cleaning the house, sewing, organizing, writing important letters, and so on and so on in a productive type manner. "These things" do not include surfing the net for Halloween decor, driving to Starbucks for an iced chai latte and then leaving it to melt because for some reason it tastes like crap, telling my puppy she's the "cutest, wootest, wittle puppy ever", chatting with my friend Shirley at the bead shop and buying a bunch more beads to add to the beads I've already bought but still haven't done anything with, watching the new Serenity movie trailer (it's awesome, go watch it! ) and so on and so on in an unproductive manner.

Oh, look at the time! It's almost 10 pm. Well, I suppose it's too late to do anything about doing something productive NOW! I mean, it's dark outside. I've been up all day. Yawn. I'm sure I'll be tired soon. No sense starting something and then falling asleep in the middle of it. I better play it safe. I think I'll go scoop a bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream for dinner, and watch t.v. with William. I mean,that might not be productive, but it is "doing something".

Friday, July 29, 2005

It's official!

OFFICIAL official. As in signed, sealed, and congratulations arrived from the title company (a nice touch)official. We now own a tiny piece of Oregon. A rather nice piece, with grass and a view of rolling hills and trees, and no freeways within a half hour. Knock on wood that our neighbors will be normal enough to be nice and strange enough to be willing to put up with us some day in the future when we finally move there.

In the meantime, life goes on here. And there's a lot to do here before we go there. First of all, I promised myself as soon as it was official, I'd celebrate by tossing all the real estate flyers and travel guides and relocation brochures. I've probably got my weight in that sort of thing sitting about the livingroom and scattered across the dining room table and desk.

And of course there's my everyday, ongoing battle with the clutter monster. Now, however, whenever I face it, I'll be armed with the mighty mental sword of "Do you love and/or need this item enough to want to PACK and MOVE it someday?" I'm thinking that will help me in my War on Clutter. Jon Stewart recently pointed out that the government has turned the phrase "War on Terror" into a new, catchier, and ultimately easier-to-live-with-for-the-long-haul phrase "Struggle Against Global Extremism". Maybe I, too, should downgrade my efforts from a war to a struggle? I just commenting to someone recently how I was inspired by J K Rowling's comment in her interview on Biography that the order of priorities should be as thus - write a bestselling book first, clean house second. So perhaps I'll start calling it my Struggle Against Familial Hoardism? Or maybe Struggle Against Junk Collectism?

Well,regardless of the name of my campaign and my newly ordered list of things-to-do, I'm gonna get off this computer machine and go clean house today, just 'cuz it'll make me happy. And my house cleaner.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Two momentous events

Two things happened today of import.

First, I started cooking again after several weeks hiatus. I'm not sure why I haven't been cooking, other then the fact that it was too hot, and with traveling and the fair I wasn't home much, and I have these nasty moths in my pantry (I can't believe I'm really sharing this part) that I need to vacuum or more to their doom, and because I've been emotionally overwhelmed by the escrow decisionmaking process.

I'm not sure how I got away with it. Usually after a few nights my husband starts making comments about how we have a kitchen and the stove works and everything and maybe he'd even help if I'd just set foot in there. But he didn't say anything. If you opened my refrigerator lately you'd have seen the ebb and flow of those little white styrofoam take home containers. And a couple of cardboard ones with the little handles that are specific to chinese food places.

But today I cooked. I tried to talk myself into going out to eat but I just couldn't work up any enthusiasm. I was sick of eating any kind of food I could find offered in our mountain hamlet. And the refrigerator was full of lots of things - milk, jars of pickled onions and jam and ranch dressing, moldy mounds of what I assume used to be vegetables or possibly fruits, and bowls and containers shoved to the back of the shelves that I certainly was not going to try to look into on an empty stomach. So instead I took a two hour nap. When I woke up in the late afternoon, no one had fed my slumbering body anything, and I was still without any nourishment all day. Unless you count a Starbucks Iced Caramel Coffee which sometimes I count, since it has 300 calories and makes a fine breakfast, but I wasn't in the mood to count it as anything but caffeine today.

Here's how it happened. First I convinced myself to simply boil some water, the idea being I'd dump some frozen tortellini in it and call it dinner. Once I'd managed that task, I found myself saying what-the-hell, and dug out the only two edible vegetables left in in the veggie bins, some mushrooms and a half an onion. I sauteed those and went back in search of any more survivors, found some peas I'd picked from the garden. Eventually I added some frozen shrimp and half a jar of marinara sauce and spooned the whole thing over the tortellini and topped it with a dusting of parmesan cheese.

Now, THAT wasn't so hard, was it!?

The second exciting thing that happened today is we closed escrow on our property in Oregon. Actually, it was the first exciting thing to happen, chronologically. Dinner was second. Also, I don't think we've technically closed escrow until the money and original papers make it back to the Title company some time tomorrow afternoon or Friday morning. But as far as what needs to be done on our side, we've done it. Let's just all pretend that it happened today, magically and instantaneously, because I'm sooooo ready to let go of the whole thing and move on to things like moth extermination.

Most difficult of all, at least for me - Jeff was calm as a cucumber, this is because I worry BEFORE a decision and he saves his worrying for AFTER - was deciding to go through with it, especially since I felt really pissy about the way the seller insisted on keeping his family farm fingers in the pot and adding a deed restriction to the deal. A REDUNDANT deed restriction I might add, that doesn't say anything that the zoning ordinances don't already say, which is that we are required to build a stick built home only. But it just rubbed me the wrong way that he had to have that last little say and forever more HIS rule will be on OUR deed. After spending another eight or ten hours wandering the country by way of the internet last night and this morning, trying to find any other options, I realized I would have to be an adult about it and sign on the dotted line because I couldn't find any other properties I liked closer then Minnesota, which is a wee bit farther away from my Pacific Coast kids then I'm comfortable with. The line wasn't truly dotted it turns out, and I did pause with my hand above it, frozen, cussing and fudgeting for several minutes, but eventually sign it I did, several times, and I initialed it a dozen times more.

Jeff also signed it and it's a done deal. We've faxed the papers, mailed the originals overnight (well, 2-day - it turns out we don't have overnight service in the Podunk of Susanville), and wired the monies. Barring an impossibly strange turn of events, knock on wood, we now own a tiny piece of Oregon. I feel better already. A bit panicked about the new loan, but satisfied and certain of my decision. One of the advantages of getting most of my worrying done prior to the decision, it's now a thing of the past. It probably has something to do with me managing to cook dinner tonight. Well, duh, I was feeling suddenly poor and hungry at the same time.

I didn't take a picture of the dinner I made, but I'm gonna try to figure out how to add a photo of property below.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Just a new way to whine

Nothing cute or insightful or fun to read here today. I'm just gonna whine. I wouldn't even bother writing at all but I've been sustained lately by reading friends' blogs, so I figured it was my social duty to post on mine, even if it is just blah, blah, blah, think I'll go eat some worms.

The fair is over. I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand it was still nice to wander the fair boulevard and chat with everyone in town and see all the exhibits. I should be really happy about my entries, out of .... I think it was about 56 entries..... I won ten blue ribbons (1st), eleven reds (2nd), and 4 whites (3rd) and Jeff won his very first ribbon ever, a 2nd place for one of the three daylilies he entered. We made $84 total, which paid for all the photos and frames I made/used to enter them in the fair, plus enough left over to pay for my fair week pass and a couple of the Indian Tacos we consumed.

On the other hand, this was the first year I didn't have a big part to play in putting together the textile building and it wasn't my choice. For eight or nine years now the quilt group has been the unofficial designer for the building and two of us have been the main participants. There was a huge changing of the guard this year with fair personnel and board members, and because we weren't officially in charge, we got lost in the shuffle, not phoned, forgotten. All that was bad enough, ouch to our pride. But adding salt to the wound, one of the women who did put the building together this year was a real nutcase and I seemed to bear the brunt of her.... whatever it was - insecurities, anger, frustration. The only salve to the situation, the textile displays looked pretty bad. So I'm being petty, but they really did. I'm not the only one to notice it.

On top of all that William was looking forward to the fair this year but somehow never managed to get the timing quite right with his friends. He had a good time, particularly the last day of the fair when Sam showed up, but not the perfect young-teen-cruising-the-fairground time he was imagining. Plus, trying to diminish my mother guilt at William's misfortune (not that it was my fault in any way, but when did that stop a mother from feeling guilty) I paid for a full day of activities for William, Sam and his buddy Bryan, and that set me back at least a hundred dollars I hadn't planned on spending. Ouch, again.

And last and definitely least, but still annoying, someone pocketed one of my small entries the last night of the fair. I was lucky, they took the top of a flower arrangement, which was just a few flowers, a shell, and a couple of pebbles - and left the art glass it was sitting on which was the only part that I would have been upset had it been stolen. It's still creepy though, to have something taken at all.

Methinks it's the end of an era, the glory years of kids and fairs. But maybe it was simply an off year and things will be wonderful again next year. We'll see.

Of more importance, we've hit some snags on closing escrow on our property. I spent a good portion of the first half of this year looking all over northern California and all of the western halves of Oregon and Washington for property to buy for our future retirement destination. To make a long story short I probably found the one piece of property anywhere in three states that meets (comes pretty dang close too) our expectations and is still in our price range.

We've been stumbling along through a buying process that has been a bit bumpy. The realtor is also the son of the 80 plus old man who's selling this property, which appears to be subdivided chunks of the ol' family farm. There appears to be territorial and emotional issues entangled in the process for the seller/realtor, plus a level of unprofessionalism that makes it hard to feel confident in the situation.

We thought we would finally close on Friday. Got all the papers from the title company and was ready to wire our money until we discovered a) no perc test had been included as promised, b) a second easement cuts across the property that the seller hadn't bothered to disclose, and c) they added a deed restriction at the last moment that is basically redundant to the zoning laws already in place, but pisses me off on principal. Our communications with the seller, via our realtor, have so far met with a "ya? so? I don't care. whaddyagonnadoboutit?" attitude. We could, of course, walk away from the deal. The thought of starting my search over again is enough to send me into the waiting arms of pharmaceutical mood enhancers. Or just a giant salt rimmed margarita. But buying the property and living with the compromises (is it called a compromise if just one side has to do it and you really don't feel you have any other choice?) makes me feel depressed too.

I've spent most of yesterday and part of this morning feeling wiped out just waiting for the process to play out. Regardless of whether we choose to swallow the unexpected issues or not, we still can't sign until we get proof of a perc test. ARGHHHHHH. I want to slap someone! Or at least take my frustrations out on a pinata. Hey! A George Dubya pinata! Now THAT'S a cheerful thought!

Speaking of politics... I bumped into a, to simplify things let's just say liberal, friend at the fairgrounds yesterday. I was admiring both her roses (which I pulled out of the trash can and brought home in a riotous bouquet) and her bumperstickers, which were quite brave for conservative Susanville. One said "Dissent is Patriotic" and the other one said "The last time we mixed religion and politics, people got burned at the stake" I mentioned the peace flag we fly from the eaves of our home. We both talked about how we've really had nothing but positive responses to these public displays and how much it takes someone to speak up and say what a lot of people think but are afraid to say.

I then went on to mention a social group of like-minded folks who get together for potlucks every month or so and how she and her hubby were welcome to come to the next one. "Oh, no," she says. "I'd love to but I have to be really careful because of my job." (she's a teacher) I pointed out this is just a social group, not a political organization. She insisted she has to be careful, living in this community. Sigh. For all her words about standing up for what she believed in, she still felt unsafe doing something completely benign and legal. She felt threatened. She felt something bad might happen to her if she simply ate dinner and laughed with a circle of people who happened to think that politicians should be honest with the people they serve and that war was a horrible thing. It reminds of me of those lyrics in that song.... something like "You have the right to freedom of speech... unless you're stupid enough to actually try to use it." Although I didn't agree with her level of fear, unfortunately I understood it. I walked away frustrated and saddened by what had started out as a pleasant conversation.

Lastly, I'll leave you with how my morning started. Two cats, yakking up two different kinds of cat yak, and Rosie the puppy dragging cat poop out to the livingroom to play with it. I cleaned it all up while the rest of the family slumbered on peacefully.

I'm going out to lunch with a friend for lunch. That usually gets me out away from my pity party.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Fair Junkie

Yes, I'll admit it. I'm a fair junkie. I love fairs. County fairs. The sounds of the midway (although the only ride I really even want to ride is the Tilt-a-Whirl, which apparently is out of fashion and one hardly ever finds it offered anymore), the dusty stalls full of sleepy goats and sheep and pigs, the hot crunch of a corn dog, the wandering entertainers, the loudspeaker drifting up and over the grandstands, the local bands competing loudly (with varying degrees of talent) for an audience at stages on opposite ends of the main boulevard.

But most of all I love the fair buildings, filled with fair entries from local folks. The macaroni necklaces and Lego monsters entered by the youngest kids, the rows of apple pies, the colorful quilts, the paper plates displaying beets and carrots and herbs, the dinosaurs made out of vegetables and toothpicks, the paintings and photographs and hat racks made out of old horseshoes.

My kids and I have been entering things in our local fair for almost a decade now and I'm still not tired of the process. The premium books come out months in advance and we pour over it making decisions on what to enter. It's traditional to wait until the day of the deadline to frantically fill out the entry forms and rush down to the fair office with all the other procrastinators. And finally fair days are looming and days are spent in gathering, preparing, labeling, cooking, framing, and finally transporting all the entries down to the fairgrounds. When everything is finished, exhausted relief battles with anxious anticipation for the judging to be done and the opening day to arrive.

Sadly, this year my youngest bowed out and I'm the only one left participating. This year it was just me, although my son and hubby have been mildly interested in helping me pull it all off. Oh, that's not true. I just remembered that for the first time EVER, my husband entered three flowers in the fair. Well, actually, "he" entered some flowers because I could only enter so many in a certain class and so someone else had to enter the rest of of the flowers, but when it came time to bring the flowers down to the fairground, hubby realized that he in fact had been the person who'd lovingly planted, watered, and tended these flowers all year and so had a vested interest in them. (He even said a sad goodbye to them as we left them in the hands of the floral building volunteers.) I HOPE he wins a ribbon so he'll catch "the bug" and want to enter something again next year.

Today is opening day. So I'm off to the fair to check out this year's competition and of course to see which of my entries might now be sporting a white, red or maybe even a blue ribbon. Wish me luck!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Spoilers, spoilers, EVERYWHERE!

I'm trying hard not to find out ANYTHING about the newest HP book. I bought the book at a midnight party and I've been reading every chance I've had since, but I've been so busy, plus I'm not a fast reader nor do I wish to zip through the only new HP fix I'll have until the last book comes out, I'm still only about halfway through and already I feel like I'm having to make it through the day like a minefield full of spoiler bombs ready to go off when I least expect it. I've practically stopped reading e-mail because they're particularly thick online. My sister called midday yesterday and I knew the minute I heard her voice, she'd finished the book already. I told her I'd call her back when I finished too. Even the evening news has been carrying HP tidbits. If it wasn't so hot, I'd wear a pair of earmuffs.

I'm torn between wanting to read and wanting to do something about my life and house, which has somehow become a huge logjam of projects. I got home from yet another trip, this one to visit son and DIL in San Diego, what....four or five days ago?... but the mess from the trip is still tripping us up as it's piled all over the living room and dining room and bedroom and .... okay, all over the entire friggin' house.

I've been busy getting entries ready for the county fair. I finally finished up all the photo entries. Well, as many as I could anyway. I entered about twice as many, knowing I wouldn't do them all but wanting to pick and choose at the last minute. I got inspired after I got the first batch in early for the Saturday deadline and rushed to the store for some more frames and printer ink and did an entire second round of them. Somehow halfway through the process my printer decided to give all my 8 X 10 settings giant white borders and no matter what I tried, including setting it for, duh, "no borders", it didn't fix the problem. I hope the judges don't disqualify some of my photos because of it. I'd have to win ALL blue ribbons to pay for all the expense of creating the photos, but it's all for the fun and the small town glory anyway.

I make my "money" (this is a joke, as I've never made more then enough to pay back my fair tickets and food) on my floral and ag entries. Along with the cut stem entries, I also enter in the miniature display category and last year I tried a full display. This year along with six miniatures, I signed up for THREE full sized displays and I've spent most of today trying to decide how to put them together. Usually I only select entry classes that inspire an idea, but there were no "good" classes this year, so I just signed up for a few and hoped to be inspired when push came to shove and the deadline arrived, which it has. The three classes I entered are called "Sunny Delights" (use yellow), Knowing the Angels, and Exhibitor's Choice. I wandered all around the house, the garden, and an antique/junque store (I was going to hit the thrift stores but they're all closed on Mondays) and think I have some rough ideas figured out, although I'm missing one important element for the Exhibitor's choice idea and finding it will require moving a bunch of boxes around in the very hot, dusty garage. I'm not sure if it's worth the effort.

I also managed to get the dishwasher and washing machine running this morning and I'll have to clear off the table at some point today (you have no idea how precariously piled it is - everything but the kitchen sink), because I'll need it as a work space. The problem isn't, for a change, no adrenalin or enthusiasm or energy on my part. Well, it is no energy, but not my fault in any way. It's the damn weather. It's been in the 100's for close to a week and the forecast is saying not to expect a break for at least the next week. I commented last night that the temps were in the "high 100's" and William said "High hundreds, huh?" Oops, I guess it hasn't been, say, 178 or 192 degrees. I meant the higher end of the first ten degrees over 100, if that makes any sense. I meant it's been 105 and 106. UGHHGGGGHHHHH. So it's been hard to get anything done because it's like moving through molasses to move. Last night I finally got a touch of heat sickness, we'd been outside a lot of the day for a wedding reception. I had to go sit in an air conditioned restaurant for an hour to get my body temp down. It worked. I'll probably have to do the same thing today and I'll bring along Harry, Hermione, and Ron.


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Is it hot enough for ya?

We've been blessed with the coolest, rainiest spring since we moved here to the dry, eastern side of the Sierras. I enjoyed it, the plants enjoyed it, but all good things must end, so now it's HOT. And, knock on wood, I just realized it's the first time I didn't get a touch of heat illness from the first hot spell of the summer. It's been in the 90's, not so hot (here where we have low humidity) to send us sluglike to some shady, dark corner, but hot enough to feel it and have that lovely summer "glow" (also known less delicately as getting all sweaty).

Despite the heat, I'm in the midst of one of my favorite hormonal states - slightly manic. Not enough to need medication mind you, just enough to keep me going from one task to another and getting twice as much done as usual. In the last couple of days, to name a few highlights, I've completely organized my studio, laid a brick pathway, done innumerable loads of laundry and dishes, and cleaned up a whole poo poo load of paperwork. I've got one, maybe two more days to enjoy this state of productivity before I jump in the car and leave town AGAIN.

I'm headed to San Diego to see my boy! My six foot two inch Navy Seal trainee little boy. And my favorite daughter-in-law. And it's not all bad that I get to go to San Diego either, one of my favorite old stomping grounds. William and Rosie are being dragged along for the ten hour or so drive. I've been trying to plan this trip since April, knock on wood, we're finally good to go. I think the temperature down there will be cooler, perfect hugging my kids weather.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

“Look, that’s why there’s rules, understand? So that you think before you break them.” ~Lu-Tze

I've been in a rule making mood lately. Which, if you know me at all, you will know is really unlike me. I make lists and then lose them. I rarely even bother with itineraries. I've been known to stand up to speak in front of hundreds people without a clue what I'm gonna say beyond the first thought that pops into my head. Bedtime, dinner time, deadlines - all negotiable in my opinion. Give me a rule and my first thought is "How can I get away with breaking it?"

So why am I suddenly making rules right and left? For example, about a week ago I made a rule that my 13 year old son had to read three books this summer. Sounds fine, he mumbled, not even turning his head from the video game on his television when I announced it. After a few days of hearing no pages turning, I added another rule. He had to spend as much time reading on any given day as he spends time playing on his XBox.

He clearly thought that last rule was supposed to be a joke. He ignored me. When I reminded him of it, he looked surprised, he laughed. So last night I stood in the doorway of his bedroom and insisted he turn off his game. I don't like following rules. And I also don't like when people don't follow the rules that I make. (normally because they're good rules)

Did he read? Of course not. He's wandering around acting bored. It takes some talent to look bored when there's really a lot to do around here. You have to get just the right slouch when you lay on the couch - a sort of angled, too much effort to get comfortable, legs sprawled, sorta look. Then you hold the remote in your lap and flip channels listlessly. Sigh a lot. Holding a cat or dog on your lap helps.

Is he reading yet? Of course not. He's learned from a master that stupid rules don't deserve to be followed. He knows, I know, and he knows I know, and I know he knows, that if I'd just left the whole thing to evolve naturally, he'd have been bored with his games probably days ago and would have picked up a book without anyone telling him he had to because it was a rule. Of course this doesn't stop me from being annoyed at having my rule ignored, but in equal measure I'd be somewhat horrified if he saluted and did what I said without question.

Of course, there's rules and then there's rules. Important rules I have no trouble with creating, announcing, and enforcing. Yes, bicycle helmets will be worn. No discussion. No argument. Teeth will be brushed. People will be treated respectfully. Stop signs will be stopped at.

But make your bed every morning? Color inside the lines? Always get dressed before leaving the house? Do your dishes before you go to bed? No way! Those aren't important rules. They aren't safety rules or kindness rules. They're "organizational" rules. The sky won't collapse if we break these kinds of rules. The cops won't storm your castle and drag you off to jail. These are the kind of rules that often, when we ask WHY, gets a response along the line of "it's GOOD for you" or "cleanliness is next to godliness" or "because I SAID so, that's why!"

To my husband, these "because I said so" rules make sense. He has a comfort zone and he can only be in his comfort zone if everyone else is living inside the perimeter of his comfort zone with him. He's the sort of person who feels safer and calmer with structure to hold his life together. A toilet seat not put down or a deadline looming makes his blood pressure rise. Even unspoken rules make him nervous when not followed. "A raspberry colored front door!? Why did you paint the front door raspberry!? No one ELSE has a raspberry colored front door!?!"

For me, too many organizational rules makes me feel caged in, stressed. If there are too many rules to remember, I'm afraid that I'll become so busy trying to follow them all, I'll loose track of the original path I set out to follow. The devil, they say, is in the details and for me that feels true. Rules that nitpick life feel like they could truly be the the death of me, or at the very least, my spirit. As for unspoken rules, If everyone else is painting their doors safe browns or ecru, I simply must find an untraditional alternative. The minute everyone else is doing it, I'm outa there, I'm done with it, I'm off to untrampled pastures.

It's often hard to meld these two very contradictory views of the world. We understand the importance the view holds for the other person, but we don't grok the opposing view.

So, why am I suddenly feeling compelled to make all these rules lately? I suppose that within any viewpoint, there are two extremes. When I bump up against the "too many rules" end of things, I feel blocked, I rebel. But there's that other end, the one where perhaps life gets to disorganized and I start to feel like the path is gonna dissipate altogther and leave me nowhere to put my feet, no way to get any traction. Maybe making a bunch of rules is a way of trying to make sure I don't fall off into thin air. I do know that it works that way for hubby, although because his framework is opposite, his panic or rebel buttons are on the opposite ends of the spectrum.

Whatever the reason behind my sudden need to carve rules into stone tablets - no wait, that was Moses, or rather God, Moses just being the messenger - like a bad hair day, it seems to have passed. Now I feel rather silly at making this video/book rule, but rather at a loss as to how to back out. There probably is no backing out and saving face, or parental authority, so I'll just stick it out until William decides to break down and read a chapter or two. At that point I can safely decide to change my mind. Oh, how silly, I know.

In the meantime, it's closing in on 1 pm and I really should get off the computer, because I'm breaking the rule I made up this morning, which was "Get off the computer by noon." Or maybe it's just a stupid rule. Damn. Since I'm over my panic, now I'm feeling rebellious again. I really do want to sign out and go get something done in my sewing room, but now I have to stay online for a while longer just to prove I can't boss myself around.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Communication Venti

To those unused to it, Starbucks can seem like an entirely different world. Or culture. Granted, it does have an entire language one must learn in order to communicate effectively within it's earth toned, low lit walls. There's sizes (large, grande, venti), shots, pumps, types of milk, types of coffee.... the list goes on and on. I remember my early days of being dazed and confused, stumbling through trying to order a simple latte. Now I'm an old and experienced coffee drinker, easily amused at newbies who ask for a medium. (Laume laughs in a snobby aside)

But even amongst those with a firm grasp of the caffeine laden second language, confusion can erupt. Too, today's miscommunications couldn't be completely blamed on the language differences of the Starbucks coffee snob (although, can one really be a coffee snob and drink at Starbucks now that there's one on every corner like a mundane Walmart or Taco Bell?). It was more simply three native born English speakers (two baristas, one customer) completely unable to find each other in a sea of words.

It was a really hot day and I'd spent over an hour doing some shopping at the market. I was in the mood for something sweet and cold. Starbucks is conveniently the last shop at the end of the shopping center.

Inside, I walked up to the counter:

Barista #1: Hi, what can I get for you today.

Me: It's either the vanilla frapuccino or the iced chai tea latte.

Barista #1: Ooooh, two completely different choices.

Me: Yeah, I can't decide.

Barista #1: Well, are you in the mood for something light, or more of a milk shake?

Me: Milk shake. Uhm, I'll have a vanilla frapuccino.

Barista #1: Creme? Or with coffee?

Me: With. Definitely.

Barista #1: What size?

Me: Grande (I hand her my Starbucks credit card) No! Wait! Don't you have some mint thing?

Barista #1: Mint Mocha Chip Frappucino?

Me: Yeah. I'll take one of those. Same size. But no chocolate chips.

Barista #1: You're sure now? (she smiles teasingly)

Me: Yep. That sounds good. Something cold, sweet, and refreshing.

I stepped back and waited. Chatted with a biker who was behind me in line who ordered the exact same drink as me. The orders kept coming out, not mine. Not his. Hot day, they were really busy. I looked at a photo of the Mint Mocha Chip Frapuccino. The chips didn't look like the big ol' things I'd imagined, potentially clogging up my straw. I stepped back up to the counter.

Me: Excuse me?

Barista #2: Yes. Can I help you?

Me: I'm your Mint Mocha Chip. No chips.

Barista #2: (Looks at the orders written on the next two cups) Yep. Gotcha right here. Coming up next.

Me: No. I mean, yes. Good. But about those chocolate chips....

Barista #2: I know. No chocolate chips.

Me: I know. But what I want to know is....

Barista #2: No chips. Gotcha.

Me: I know. I mean, I know I said I didn't want any chips. But I want to know about those chips. Are they...

Barista #2: I won't put them in.

Me: THANK YOU. BUT that's not what I'm asking. I want to know, are they big chocolate chips or are they blended in?

Barista #2: They're put in a blender.

Me: Okay. Then I don't mind if...

Barista #2: But don't worry. I won't put them in there.

Me: I WANT you to put them in there.

Barista #2: In.....?

Me: In my Mint Mocha Chip Frapuccino. Put them in.

Barista #2: Okay, no problem. So. Do you want chips then?

Me: (politely not looking exasperated) Yes. Thank you.

Another minute or two went by. Two orders came up. Both Mint Mocha Chips. One Tall, one Venti. The biker steps up and claims the Tall and heads for the door. I go up and look at the Venti.

Me: Uhm, I ordered a Grande? (No one responded) Anyone?

I'm invisible. I shrugged, grabbed the Venti and headed out the door. By the time I got to the car I've concluded that the entire drink is simply a huge glass of chocolate syrup with whipped cream and more chocolate drizzled on top. Couldn't taste a few measly shots of espresso over a good 16 oz. plus of chocolate. It was way too intense for me but I decided my husband would love it. I dropped it into the cup holder in the Subie, told William I'd be right back (he groaned) and headed back to Starbucks to stand in line one more time.

Me: (reaching the front of the line) It was too chocolatey. I'd like a Vanilla Frapuccino please.

Barista #1: Creme? What size?

Me: No. And just a Tall. Thanks.

I sit back down. Wait. Wait some more. A lady comes in with her teenage daughter. I noticed the woman has burns on most of her body. What a story she must have. I noticed her teenage daughter has one of those amazing teenage bodies with a flat stomach and can wear the hip hugging skirt and skinny tank top she has on with absolutely no apologies whatsoever. I'm thinking about when I used to be young whether I could have worn something like that, how I probably did wear an outfit like that, and how scary I'd look in that same outfit today.

Barista #1:(yells out and smiles at me) Vanilla Frapuccino Creme!

Me: (walking up to the pick up counter) Uhm, excuse me. This is a Creme.

Barista #1: That's what you ordered.

Me: No, I ordered a Frapuccino. With coffee in it.

Barista #1: Well, they're all Frapuccinos.

Me: (pointing to the order sign above us and talking in a calm, patient voice like one does to a young child) Yes. But in the past if I order a Frapuccino they've assumed I meant WITH coffee. (someone behind the counter had actually told me to order them that way once long ago) And if I don't want coffee I would have said I wanted a Creme. Plus I ordered the Mint Mocha Chip and simply said Frapuccino and you weren't confused that I wanted it with coffee in it. Besides you asked...

Barista #1: (waving for me to stop) It's fine. No problem. I'll just make you another one.

Me: WITH coffee.

Barista #1: With coffee.

I waited..................

Barista #1: (stepping back up to the pick up counter) Here ya go. Sorry about that. And take the Creme too.

Me: Thanks. I'll bring it out to my son, who's been waiting in the car all this time.


So there you go. It only took, ohhhhh, about 45 minutes to go home with not one, but THREE refreshing summer treats from Starbucks. I had my Vanilla Frapuccino. Hubby loved the tooooo sweet Mint Mocha Chip Frapuccino. William decided the Vanilla Creme was too sweet as well and we offered it to our neighbor, who was sitting out in the yard with hubby and had never even set foot in a Starbucks much less tasted any of their drinks, and he thought it was great.

All's well that ends well. When it eventually ends.

Except, I've got a doozy of a sugar headache.

The weary traveler returns

Little did I know (or at least tried not to think about), was that creating a blog meant owning/having one more thing that depended on me. So when I was off driving around the Pacific Northwest for over a week, nothing got writ. Written. Wroted. There were no new blog entries.

And here I thought I was entering the phase of my life where I would gain freedom. After all, all but one child has stepped up to the edge of the nest and flown away more or less successfully. But that one kid, plus the hubby (honestly, they're really just big kids mostly), the Rosie puppy, the blog, the house, garden, phone, cell phone, e-mail, laundry, mother,'s all still there. All just waiting for me to sit down and try to put my feet up so they can holler for help with something or other.

Okay, no more whining. I've got too much to catch up on.

Like, my traveling was successful. It culminated with us putting an offer on a piece of property in Oregon for our "retirement". Really it's for our "next stage of life before retirement", but it's easier just to say "retirement". We're waiting for escrow to close and I'm cautiously optimistic that all will go well and I can spend many an evening fantasizing about house plans and where to put in orchards and landscaping, and potential new friends and adventures. In a strange twist, it makes me more content here in my NOW life, perhaps because it lends some weight to the old but true adage that all good things ..... something about everything eventually comes to an end. Sheesh, my brain is fried today.

And that's because for two nights now a tiny, gray ,fuzzy, feline ball of teeth and claws has wailed piteously through the wee hours right outside my bedroom window. Kinda cuts down on the quality and quantity of sleep one gets. If I could help it, if only in catching it and bringing it to the local animal shelter, I would. But it's got itself barricaded in between our kennel fence and the neighbor's fence and won't let anyone near it. Trust me, we tried. That first night, at 2:30 in the morning, with flashlights, William and I tromping through our yard and our neighbors' yard (they slept through it all!). I think he/ finds comfort in staying close to our dog Buck at night (it disappears during the day) as the only friendly and fuzzy alternative to the missing mom cat. Buck has no idea what to do with it either, poor guy. He sits by it, but keeps his nose safely out of claw's reach, and the wailing stops. He tries to go back to bed in his doghouse, the wailing starts up again. In a spontaneous meeting of neighbors last evening, at dusk when the wailing began once again, (it's waking up everyone but the old people who's yard it's camped in), it was decided that one neighbor would work with the old couple and take care of the poor little kitten. It's disconcerting but I'm trying to accept that "it's not my responsibility."

We absolutely do not need another cat. Twelve is about six too many. Thirteen if you count the stray, a gray female, that has decided to live in our yard. William and I are of the opinion that if we can just manage to resist naming her, she isn't ours. Jeff has taken to petting her and calling her Grayby. I guess because he spends so much time out in the yard it's harder for him to pretend she isn't there. Now I'm feeling compelled to name her something better. I mean, if she's gonna have a name, at least it should be a better name then Grayby, which sounds like a type of parrot or a brand of instant gravy mix. I was thinking maybe Tempest or Cassandra since she's a mottled gray the color of a stormy sky. I'm also beginning to see the inevitability of popping for the cost of having her spayed so we don't have the heartbreak of dealing with stray kittens living in our yard. Our community is completely saturated with excess animals and has no need of any more unwanted pets.

Speaking of pets, Rosie had her next vet visit. She was nervous but cautiously friendly until she saw the needle. Apparently she has a VERY GOOD memory. She barred her tiny needle teeth and turned into a miniature but ferocious werewolf. They had to muzzle her to give her the shot! I should be appalled but I'm secretly amused. Small dog, heavily armed. I am, however, conscientiously working on teaching her how to tolerate a "check up." She didn't feel well that night again, but nothing as severe as her last reaction thank goodness. She'd gained weight too, a whole five ounces. She's now 2 lbs. 11 oz. I've had baked potatoes heavier then that.

Summer temperatures have finally arrived. Hot, but not so hot that one gives up and lays on the couch. The plants, which have seen more moisture this spring then they usually see in 2-3 springs, are very happy with this turn of events. As soon as I can figure out how to add photos, I'll post some of the gardens. Everything seems to be blooming at once. Hot during the day, cool at night, high elevation living has it's rewards. The evening brings a wind and temperatures drop enough to need a blanket or two with the windows open. Perfect sleeping weather.

That's about it. I need to go do something productive now. The problem is in picking the something. There's the garden (weeds grow fast in these conditions too), the dining room table (at least I think it's still there under all the papers and bags), laundry (do you think two days on the clothes line is long enough for stuff to dry?), dinner (family expects some housewifely tasks of me from time to time), the sewing room (to be reclaimed once again after a kid moved out of the guest room half of it - I'm thinking of taking over the whole room to avoid HAVING a guest room. It just gives people the idea they can use it.)

Or maybe I'll just get a glass of iced tea and find some excuse to browse the internet for a spell. After all, it's the weekend. I've heard that some people just relax on weekends. Maybe I'll try it. It sounds like fun.