Saturday, March 31, 2007

I will not rant and cry

You know, in terms of crap that can happen to people, I’ve got it easy. I do not have an abusive or indifferent spouse, for one thing. In point of fact, I have a ridiculously loving and supportive spouse, who puts up with my schizophrenic crap in the most easy-going and tolerant manner you could imagine.

He also insists that I am ‘smart’, which is IMHO not exactly as much a given as he seems to think it is.

I live in a nice suburb and for bonus points, we’re stable here. I don’t fear bill collectors, starvation, broken down vehicles on work mornings, drive-by shootings or other things that go !BAM! in the night.

My children are…well, I was going to say ‘healthy’ but then a chorus of coughing broke out in the playroom, so let’s go with ‘reasonably healthy’. The worst thing I have to deal with on that front is vaccinations, which do cause me to melt into a sniveling heap of pathetic loser. Oh. And the occasional head-wound-crazy-glue.

So, really, I don’t feel like I have any right to feel sorry for myself. Which ironically makes me feel even more pathetic when I am feeling put-upon.

Which, uh, I am.

I trekked out to the office to discuss Things with my boss Wednesday. Turns out by ‘part time’, he’s really thinking more along the lines of ‘any three to four full days I’d like and by the way we’d prefer if you came onsite ‘more frequently’ so we can make absolutely sure you are working the whole time, stand over you and otherwise babysit you because you obviously cannot be trusted you can work without distraction.’

So, I’m still paying for full-time childcare, now with less income!, and having the two hour each way drive (because there is literally not even one public transportation option to get from here to there and back again) on top of it to contend with.

He made it clear that he doesn’t believe I could possibly work around a (pre)school schedule reliably enough to suit them.

I’m afraid I rather immaturely stopped talking at this point. It was the deeply engrained motherly advice kicking in: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

Because people, what I wanted to say was not a bit nice. ‘Bitchy’ does not begin to cover it. Some of it he deserved, and some of it he didn’t. But I really wanted to rip him up one side and down the other, and then stomp out and slam the door behind me for good measure.

I began making non-committal noises and doodling on my planner pages, and finally said, “You know what? This is all coming down very suddenly, and the changes we’re talking about would be fairly major for everybody. I don’t know what I could do around childcare for this schedule, and I really need time to think about it all and decide what to do.”

As I have nearly a month’s worth of accrued vacation, we agreed that effectively immediately I would go on administrative leave for a couple weeks to ‘think things through’.

And you know what? I am doing just that.

Specifically, I am thinking through what, exactly, I’m going to do after I’ve officially left this company. Which I had pretty much decided to do by the time I’d hoofed it back to the car. Full time stress for part time pay just doesn’t cut it for me. I can do better.

Thus far, my ‘thinking things through’ goes like this:

  1. Spend the next two-three weeks, while on leave but still enjoying daycare, putting together our lives, Den, and firming up my post-work plans.
  2. Spend the next three to six months (micro)managing our remodeling project and shoring up the fiscal disaster we’ve undergone since I went back to work, while finalizing what, exactly-precisely, I’d like to do next.
  3. And also, get a little more aggressive about my arthritis treatment. This is ridiculous. I refuse to be afraid of a six block walk to and from my car. I used to climb mountains for fun, people – I refuse to become a Hover-Round candidate. Pffffbt! to that!
  4. Thumb my nose at the notion that it is “not possible” to take care of business around Denizen (pre)school schedules by succeeding in my own damned home based business, thank you very much Mr. Let Me Tell You How Impossible It Would Be For You To Get Any Meaningful Work Done Unless You Can Have A Full Eight Hours Of Unbroken Concentration.

Yeah. That last one is a little on the vague side at this point. I have a lot of ideas floating around in my head; mostly around things I’ve done before with varying degrees of success. Things that I know could have much more successful, if I hadn’t flitted off to other things. And also, things I can control; for example, if I know I’ve got Spring break coming, I can turn the tap down on my workflow to accommodate having all four Denizens underfoot, all day.

I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I do know what I will not do.

I will not rant and cry. I’m done with that now. By the time I had made the two hour drive home from the office, the roiling had settled into a tremendous peace.

I’m ready to let it go. Ready to acknowledge that it isn’t working, and isn’t going to work, and that I need to release the job. It belongs to someone else. Someone else will snuggle into it and it will be perfect and they will be happy and find fulfillment in what is, for me, a hair shirt I’ve been torturing myself with for months.

Therefore! I herewith put my best foot forward and, undaunted and somewhat relieved that the hardest part is behind me, declare my intention to move Onward!

Starting with more coffee and also a sausage-mushroom omelet.

In that order.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

If only fishsticks were sought by MoMA

My children often ask me to draw things for them. “Can you draw me a butterfly? Can you draw me a unicorn? Can you draw me the London Bridge?”

Now, like most people, I have certain…limitations.

One of them is that I am a rotten artist.

I mean, I am bad.

I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler. I can’t draw a curved one, either. I can’t even manage ‘random dot’ art, OK?

I am art challenged.

So when you ask me to draw a princess fairy unicorn?

You’re going to get something that looks like Cookie Monster, and I will have no idea why it turned out like that.

This limitation is well-known to my children.

“Honey,” I will say as they rush in clutching markers and construction paper eagerly asking me to draw the Taj Mahal. “Mommy just really isn’t that good at drawing.”

So tonight, I made fishsticks. (Yes. Dinner of champions. Don’t pester me, I’m under a lot of stress right now.) And, as I usually do to hide the fact that this is actually Mommy taking a night off from making, you know, ‘dinner’ dress things up a little, I arranged the fishsticks in festive patterns and drew squiggles and dots and whatnot on the plates.

Boo Bug was delighted, because she has hated everything I’ve made for dinner lately. Roasted garlic pork with twice-baked potatoes? Bleh! Grilled steak with potatoes gratin? YUCK! Sausage in polenta? ACK!!

She swarmed into her chair and regarded her plate happily.

“Mommy!” she exclaimed. “You are an artist! You’re a food artist!”

Hey! You know what?

Yes. Yes I am.

Just, uh, don’t ask me for fairy unicorn princess tater tots, OK?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


So there I was. Chewing my fingernails to the nubs worrying about all the what-ifs and buts and if onlys and wait and ack and argh and oooooooh the sheer drama of it all…when...

...behold! The email server hath delivered unto me…joy, people.


Someone I know who has been keeping the faith forever through loss after loss, disappointment after disappointment, waiting and wanting and wishing and hoping JUST HAD TWINS!!!!!

Healthy, beautiful twins.

It is delicious. Absolutely dark-chocolate-for-dinner delicious. I wish it wouldn’t be a major invasion of their privacy to name names and share pictures, because people! This has tickled me right down to my toes.

I have seen the pictures. Mommy = GORGEOUS! Babies = PERFECT! Tama’s Tear Ducts = APPARENTLY CAN STILL PRODUCE TEARS OF JOY!!

Attitude = Adjusted. Can’t worry, too busy squealing and yarn shopping, because…

Knitting Needles = ITCHY!!!!

So, I think it’s a safe bet that no further work will be gotten out of me until after I have placed my yarn order…

(Yay! Twins! Eeeeee!)


Monday, March 26, 2007

Psychic Powers: Check!

Friday, I got a call from daycare. They told me that Captain Adventure was ‘favoring’ his hurt arm, refusing to eat lunch and otherwise being pissy. @*^&@. For those of you keeping score at home, I had already taken Tuesday and Wednesday, two (2) days, off last week to tend his every whim. I was 98% certain he was faking it, but 2% unsure so I went to get him anyway.

Yup. Faking it. Big time. Hey, you know, grabbing the arm and whining got me extra cuddles and attention, right? Let’s try it again!

I have not had a full week’s work in, well…(casts back in mind, realizes mind is long-gone, consults wall calendar, duuuuuh, hmm, no still can’t…goes to Aztec calendar, still a little confused so goes with generality)…let’s call it ‘since Thanksgiving’.

And in the recent past? Ear infection, flu, cold, ear infection, center closed for Polyester Appreciation Day, whatever.

Every. Single. Week.

Without. Fail.

Add in the usual and customary baloney that goes along with being the Mother of Chaos and people – it is not pretty around here. I am working into the night and over weekends trying to keep up with my work commitments, and this impacts Everything Else and then suddenly I’m under a tidal wave of crazy-talk and really just want to go curl up in a corner and cry.

And then this morning, ONCE AGAIN, I had Captain Adventure home with me. Ear infection is impending, so I kept him home hoping that if I could keep his sinuses dry, I might head it off at the pass.

Now, I told you that so I could tell you this: My boss? Is psychic. I’m serious. {twilight zone music} Freaky.

This morning, after I had ONCE AGAIN emailed my ‘home sick with toddler’ missive to the troops, I was sitting with my laptop attempting to draft a resignation letter because, you know. Enough is e-@*^&@ing-nough. I don’t need to work to keep bread on the table and the roof over our heads. I like to work, and the extra money would be great (or I suppose I should say that if I kept any, after taxes and childcare, it would be great), but I don’t have to and I’m just adding endless complication to Life here…

I had gotten as far as, “Dear Boss…”

And, uh, that was it. I just couldn’t seem to get any further than that.

If I hated my job, it would be easy. If I disliked my boss or my coworkers, it would be easy. If I really didn’t want to work any more, it would be a cakewalk. But I don’t. It’s just that it really is coming to a point where my working is going head to head with my family’s needs – and, well, I have a proven track record where that’s concerned. I have my core values. I have my priorities. I know what I really value.

But…wah. Wannit all. WANNIT ALL! WAH!

So I had the ‘Dear Boss’ letter sitting there most of the morning while I tried to force my fingers to put something professional and succinct in there. (I am not succinct. Especially not when writing what equates to a Dear John letter. It’s not you, it’s me. Don’t get me wrong, I love you guys. I love you like family. It tears my guts out to say I need to leave you. But you deserve better. That’s how much I love you – I must leave you because you deserve better.)

My phone rang right in the middle of a tirade from Captain Adventure, who did not wish to take his cold medicine. I cannot blame the boy. He has been on this stuff for weeks now, and I believe he may both develop a deep, abiding aversion to the color purple and learn to talk just so he can call CPS and tell them I am making him a drug addict. “I’m serious, man, she’s been giving me so many hits of Triaminic…I don’t even know what year this is, dude…”

So it was a little while later that I went in and saw my message light flashing. It was my boss, letting me know that I have options with this company. Specifically, if I wanted to talk to him about switching to part time work, you know, so I could get some balance etc. etc., well. We’d work something out. If I wanted to talk about it, he was listening. If not, forget he ever called. It’s just a thought, just so you know, in case.

I swear, my first thought was, How did he know?!

Seriously. His call was not one of those ‘you’ve been out a lot and I want to punish you’ calls. It was like…he totally knew I was going off the deep end and about to walk, and he wanted to give me this other option before I did so. It was…well, it was both a professional call, and a call from a friend.

I’m going to talk to him about it tomorrow, when I have some peace and quiet in the Den. I think it may be an excellent solution, if we can work out the details such that my work schedule works around the school schedule.

If it works out, great! I make a little extra money from home without having my kids in daycare. If it doesn’t, great! I can make a leisurely exit rather than having to say, “OK, and daycare is over and I’m out of here in T-minus three days and counting – found my replacement yet? No? Oh. How about now? OK. {beat, beat} Now?”

Never a dull moment around here, huh?!

Best Things One and Two

Best Thing One: I took the three younger Denizens to the park for a romp Saturday. This is the first time such a thing has happened since I went back to work (playing in the backyard, yes; being taken to the park, no), and I fell in love with my son all over again. While his sisters were busy putting all the sand in the sandbox down their pants (sigh), he took me by the hand and led me over to the swings, pointed at one, and then held up his arms.

This is shockingly good communication, from Captain Adventure. I picked him up and put him in the swing, pulled him back toward me, and gave him a good hard push.

He shrieked with a laughter so infectious that a woman coming out of her house across the street began to laugh, too. His eyes sparkled and snapped. He laughed and babbled and giggled and was so utterly in love with me…well. It was about the happiest I’d been in months.

And then about ten minutes later, somebody began screaming, VERY LOUDLY, that she !!NEEDED TO GO POTTY!!, and apparently that short little person felt I was in charge of this so I took her back to the Den so she could !!GO POTTY!!.

Afterward I wondered if I ought to call Channel 3 or something, so they could broadcast the happy news that she had, indeed, made it to the potty in time to a world that certainly awaited word. After all, she had SCREAMED IT LOUD ENOUGH that everyone from Fresno to Sacramento surely heard her plight and had pity for her…

Best Thing Two: I cast on the Celtic Lattice vest from Folk Vests. Eeeeee!

It’s a start!

Ooooooh, aaaaaaah. The Dancing (that’s the blue part) is gorgeous. It has a lot of depth and shine and I’m loving the occasional splashes of purple that like to jump in and surprise me. (Yes. I am that easily amused.)

And there you have it: Best Things One and Two from this weekend.

In other news, Captain Adventure said ‘juice’ today! And I am very excited because he is almost three and this is the first time he has said ‘juice’!!

{Pictures Red Stripe commercial} Yay, juice!!

Friday, March 23, 2007

You'll kick his WHAT?!

Warning: Adorable Child Uses ‘Assque’ word.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The filthy truth

People, there comes a point in a person’s life where they simply can’t pretend any more. They have to face facts. They have to accept that sometimes, the status quo is not acceptable. They must take action. They must make a difference. They must look the ugly, messy, stinky-breathed truth dead in the eye and say, “I am not afraid of you and furthermore, I am going to do something about you!”

That’s right.

I have come to this point in my life, this very morning.

You see, I am very good at indifferent housekeeping.

I can step over dollies and even fruit treat wrappers left on the floor. I can ignore socks left in the middle of the hallway and will wait not only until my desk is declared a Federal disaster zone but for the check to arrive from FEMA before dealing with it.

And let’s not get started on just how long I can pretend a bathtub isn’t “that bad”, shall we?

This morning, however, the bit has flipped. The 0 has become a 1, and the light has come on, and my hardware is responding to the new command: Thou Shalt Clean Up This Mess.

I honestly don’t know why I operate this way. Because you know, really – it isn’t like I’m really ignoring the growing clutter and filth. Oh no. It’s slowly working its way under my skin. Making me itchier and itchier. I’m getting annoyed. I’m getting angry. I’m starting to have trouble sleeping. I start obsessing. And then, suddenly, WHAM!

Cleaning maniac!!!!!!

Why can’t I just stay on top of it, and avoid the whole ‘itchy under skin annoyance’ part?


Now granted, I’m not alone in Slobsville. I have five other people in this house putting in their fair share of the clutter. But I’m no angel on this front. I actually caught myself in the act yesterday, and was shocked! and also appalled! by my behavior.

There I was, sitting at my desk, eating a bag of Chez-Its. Upon finishing, I cast about for the garbage can. Oh, ugh. Clear across the room. Feh. Well, I’ll deal with it later, I said to myself…as I dropped the wrapper on the floor where the trash can ought to have been but wasn’t.

Now I ask you: What the hell was that about?! I didn’t even really register what I had just done until I kicked my chair back from the desk and rolled over it. What was that crinkling noise? Oh, for the love of Dawg…!

Another example. I was cutting a tag off a belt the other day. Took the scissors, but off the plastic hanger doohickey thing, let it drop to the ground like a leaf and took off on my merry way.

Left it there.

On the floor.

Like, maybe it would clean itself up.

Which it sort of did, when it attached itself to the bottom of my bare foot and took a brief ride up the hallway, at which point I peeled it off and tossed it into the trash can where it belonged in the first place.

I absolutely cannot explain this behavior. It isn’t that I love a messy house. It isn’t that I’m expecting house-elves to come in the night and clean it up for me. It isn’t that I’m just so far gone to depression that the effort of picking up a piece of plastic off the floor is just too much for my delicate psyche to bear.

I can’t even claim laziness, which, while maybe not the best excuse in the world, is at least something.

But I’m not particularly lazy. I mean, I have my moments, but overall I really don’t do the ‘sitting around waiting for something to happen’ thing. I’m actually on the ‘twitchy nervous energy’ side of the scale.

I think I have no ‘why’ on this, except perhaps that I am easily distracted. By the time I’ve finished producing the garbage, I’ve moved on. I’m already three tasks ahead of where I was in my mind, and now that the Problem That Was Formerly At Hand is over (at least, in my mind), I just literally and physically drop it, right there, and move on.

Leaving a trail of chaos and destruction in my wake.

I’d like to pretend that I’m about to turn over a new leaf and, once I’ve cleaned up the current layer of detritus, I will Debris No More.

But I’m pretty sure I’m not. I’m going to enjoy the clean for a few weeks and then…slowly…paper by paper, wrapper by wrapper, ‘in-a-minute’ by ‘in-a-minute’, it will grow, and grow, and grow until I get out of bed after a sleepless night, regard my front room with intense loathing and declare, “That’s IT, I’m cleaning this mess up THIS VERY MINUTE!”

In somewhat related news, I really hate changing the sheets on the new bunk beds. Between cracking my head on the upper bunk while changing the lower and trying to figure out how to get the fitted sheet onto the upper one without falling to my death, I’m starting to think I’m just not smart (or dexterous) enough to have this particular piece of furniture in the Den.

I can just hear the headline now: Crazy mother falls off bunk bed and breaks fool neck trying to wrestle Disney Princess fitted sheets into place – film at 11!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A child’s mind works mysteriously

Bedtime always brings out the rowdy in the Denizens. It’s like, “Quick! This is our last chance to drive Mommy crazy for, like, EIGHT WHOLE HOURS!”

So tonight in the middle twain’s bedroom, I put forth the nightly command to lie down, head on pillow, feet under covers. I reminded them to be quiet. Said no to about thirty requests for water, juice, snack, more mashed potatoes, and cookies.

And ice cream.

And also going to grandma’s house tomorrow.

Or the day after.

Eventually, I slam the iron gate on the whole deal with the dreaded, “If you make one more sound, that’s it – no story, lights out.”

Reluctant silence fell. I opened the book and found our place: The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck.

There I am, happily reading along, the tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck unfolding word by word…when suddenly…I become aware that I’m hearing other voices…

I look up, and the two of them each have their noses in a book and are reading, out loud. To themselves. Different stories. And they are getting louder and louder, competing with each other…

Hokay, obviously, we’re not interested in Jemima Puddle-Duck and so why should I bother? I have a sore throat anyway, so less talking works for me!

I bid them goodnight, take the books away, and snap off the light.

There are wails of protest. What about their stooooooorrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeee?

What? Excuse me, but what?! Are these the same two girls who just picked up different books and began reading them out loud while I was reading to them? Now suddenly they have a great and undying passion for Jemima Puddle-Duck?

I don’t think so. Enough is enough, and I’ve gone past enough and into the land of I Don’t Care If It Scars You For Life, I’m Not Your Personal Slave and You Blew Your Chance For Tonight So There.

This is where I really question how a child’s mind works. Because Danger Mouse looked me dead in the eye and said, “I didn’t think you’d stop reading the story just because I was reading a different one at the same time!”

Let’s review.

First of all, I don’t recall saying “If you make one more sound, that’s it – no story, lights out. Unless of course you’re reading a different story out loud, in which case carry on.”

Also, in what reality would anyone carry on reading a story out loud to someone who was so deeply disinterested that they were reading Ten Apples On Top over it?

And finally, this isn’t a new thing. It isn’t like, 99% of the time, mommy says these things but then doesn’t mean them. I’ve learned my lesson on that – if I say something is going to lead to a certain event, then by $DEITY it will.

So for them to be genuinely surprised that their actions led to the abrupt ending of story-time and lights out just…rather floors me.

As does the fact that they still, though they have had many, many, many examples to the contrary, believe that once I have left the room, I can no longer hear them when they start yelling at each other about whose fault it all is.

Or that they think coming downstairs and announcing that they think they’re going to throw up and that ice cream is maybe the proper treatment for this is going to get them anything but a brisk escort back to bed.

The mind of a child, people, works in extremely mysterious ways.

Newsflash: Mother Tired! Film at 11!!

Newsflash: Mother Tired! Film at 11!!

OK, so, maybe this is not really news. I think I have been tired for nine solid years now – it’s just varying degrees of tired. I have more ways to describe my tired than Eskimos have words for snow. I am not above hijacking words that belong to other things to describe my tired. Like, say, ‘pink’. Or ‘excruciating’. Or ‘indifferent’.

Yes. I am indifferent tired, thank you for asking.

The tired has almost nothing to do with sleep or lack thereof, although I am extremely very much not alone in the fact that I have learned to consider six hours “plenty”.

Today, I am tired because I hate being Project Manager.

I woke up this morning thinking, I really need to put together a formal plan for the remodeling project.

Immediately, all rested-ness was sucked out of my body and I became…tired.

But I know that if (and it’s a pretty big ‘if’, thank you very much) this project is to happen at all, it will be because I have put on my big girl panties and gotten it done.

Edison once said that genius was 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. I think just about everything in life is that way. It’s one thing to get all excited about the concept of doing this big remodeling project, but quite another to actually get it done.

This is kind of like playing a game of soccer. You can’t just get all excited about playing, give the ball one good swift kick and then stand around waiting for it to deliver itself to the goal. You’ve got to stay with it, drive it through the opposition, defeat friction and gravity, keep it moving and ultimately thrust it into the goal.

It’s a lot of work, a lot of sweat coming from a single moment of “You know what’d be cool?!”

I got really sick of project management back when I did it for I got infinitely tired of staying on top of all things, all the time. It’s the kind of work what just never relents, not ever. I had task lists for my task lists, and there was never an end to it – before any project ended, another was slipped onto the plate.

It really was shoveling the snow during the blizzard. You had no time to stand back and congratulate yourself on a job well done, no period of rest, usually not even a party to celebrate the team having gotten through it in one piece.

I tell myself this time will be different. This time, it’s personal. This time, it’s for us. And it’s one project, with a beginning, middle, end and then a party to prove it’s over.

I take a piece of paper.

And I write, “Den Remodel – 2007” on it.

And then I write, “1. Call architect, finalize contract.”

And then…I need a nap.

Because I am tired.

Very much completely and utterly tired

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The elbow is not a fall-prevention device

As the day wore on today, I became aware that it wasn’t Captain Adventure’s wrist that was bothering him. It was his whole arm. He either held it immobile across his tummy or let it dangle at his side all day – but he didn’t use it, not once.

And it’s his dominant arm.

And yes, I promptly freaked out.

Well, it turns out that this isn’t all that uncommon. You’re walking with your toddler, hand in hand. He starts to fall (or try to run away). Instinct makes you jerk your arm up, yanking on the little hand in an attempt to keep him from falling down (or running into traffic).

If you hit it just wrong, if there’s a bit of twist or force, what can happen is kind of freaky: a tendon in the elbow can basically pop from its place and ride the joint, or even get caught between the moving parts of the joint.

It doesn't take nearly as much force as you'd imagine, and by the way? It hurts a lot.

He wasn’t grabbing at his wrist, he was trying to immobilize his arm. Poor baby.

So I took my crippled son to the pediatrician, sat around forever waiting, and then she came in, examined him, tucked his arm this certain way while massaging the tendon. It was one of those things that was extremely simple looking, but don’t ask me how she did it.

He shrieked, screamed, cried, and carried on – but she nodded calmly and said, “Oh yeah. I felt the pop.”

A few seconds later, he lifted up his right hand, casual as you please, as if that same arm hadn’t been dangling uselessly by his side all day long, and wiped his own nose with it.


He’s already much better. Still a little grouchy, still not very happy with mommy (because I am, obviously, responsible for anything and everything that happens in his little world), still a bit sore – but using his arm again and yawning impressively.

So, the moral of the story is, parents: If they’re about to fall on their little butts, let ‘em. Nature put padding there for that purpose. And also, what, about 80% of the time, they’re falling a few inches onto carpet?!

But don’t, repeat, do not use their arms as levers to bounce them back to their little feet. The elbow is not a fall-prevention device, and should not be used as one.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to drink heavily.

(By the way, not really – I talk a good story, but frankly? I’m a serious lightweight. One [half] serving of alcohol and I’m snoring on the table…)

This. Is. Not. Happening.

Last night, Captain Adventure hurt his wrist. Basically, daddy was taking him down the hall and he didn’t want to go so he threw himself down and his wrist went ‘pop!’

Just a crack. Like my joints do about sixty gazillion times a day. Nothing that made anybody say, “ACK! Medic!”

He cried off and on all night. Of course, he’s getting over an ear and throat infection, so, you know, here’s some more ibuprofen, kid. A little cuddling and then back in the crib you go. I knew his wrist was bugging him, but honestly – I expected that by this morning he’d be over it.

Alternatively…he could be clutching the wrist whimpering and crying, and, if you even breathe on it, he lets out a piercing shriek of pain.

It still hurts.

It still hurts a lot.

But there’s nothing there. No bruises, no swelling, no sign of trauma, absolutely nothing about that chubby little toddler wrist / hand that would make you say, “Oh my gosh, he’s obviously discombobulated his fizzerwhatzer!”

However, there is no arguing with his reactions. Seriously, it hurts a lot. So it doesn’t matter that I can’t see anything there, he’s going to the doctor today to have a professional look at it. Undoubtedly, they will say, “Yeah, looks like a sprain – ice and ibuprofen, that’ll be $350 please.”


And now that I’m past the initial frantic stage of OH MY GAWD WHAT DO I DO?! and have moved on to the logistics of the day (How to get the older two to and from school when Captain Adventure shrieks in agony when jostled? Do I take Boo Bug at all? Which is harder, having her underfoot too, or having to deal with a second school dropoff/pickup?), it occurs to me: this is the tenth day this month that I have either called in sick altogether or been partially out of commission or otherwise unable to go about my life as usual.

Is it just me…or is that a touch ridiculous?

As I cast back over my calendar, I am seeing an average of one doctor’s appointment per week since Thanksgiving. Ear infection. Stomach flu. Strep throat. Broken toe. Strep throat again. Ear infection. Ear infection. Cut open head. Ear infection. Generic cold and cough.

And now, what, sprained toddler wrist?

Honestly, I am really starting to wonder what the holy @*^&@ is going on here.

There are zillions of working parents out there who somehow manage to put in a full week, week after week.

Me, I can’t seem to get a single full week without something going down.

These are the times when I just want to scream, “I QUIT!” into the phone, throw my laptop out the window and retreat to my knitting chair for the rest of my life.


Well, like good old FDR said, “When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”

And also, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Which of course leads to the following declaration: It does absolutely no good to go all jelly-legged and swoony in the face of the things that upset us. Dwelling and worrying and fretting and feeling sorry for myself never does a thing for me – it only magnifies the issue(s) until, like a carnival fun-house, the little things seem huge and fat while the thing that really will cut the legs out from under us like a scythe hitting wheat stalks looks like nothing bigger than a plastic picnic knife, which makes it all the easier to sneak up on me from out of nowhere and WHACK!

Ooooooh, that’s gonna leave a mark…

A good deep breath, a moment to collect oneself, a setting aside of emotion and panic to think, and then…putting forth the needed efforts to convert retreat into advance, disorder into order, suffering into calm, shattered plans into new success.


AND I SHALL START…with another triple low-fat sugar-free mocha…

…after which, appropriately caffeinated…


Monday, March 19, 2007


OK, so, the movie Mommie Dearest horrified me when I saw it. Hor-ree-fied me. Especially that scene, you know, the wire hanger one.

That sudden burst of psycho behavior, whipping the child with the hanger, the screaming, the carrying on over freakin’ clothes hangers…dear God.

I mean…dear God, what kind of person could possibly be sent into that big a tizzy over something as stupid as a HANGER?


Have I ever mentioned how emotional I can get about shoes?

It really is a particular issue for me, for some reason. I can become impressively angry when a small child stands in the kitchen with the stupidest expression ever on her little face saying, slowly, “Shoooooes? I don’t know where my shoes are…”

It will send me into a real tizzy-fit. I want to scream. Stamp my feet. Yell rude things. Maybe grab the shoes, which are invariably sitting someplace obvious, and bounce them off her unobservant little head. For the love of *@&^@, girl, KEEP TRACK OF YOUR @*^&@ING SHOES!!!!

What brings this to mind is a pair of sandals.

This morning, after All That Weekend, I wearily gazed out upon the unmowed expanses of lawn in the backyard…and what did my bleary eyeballs behold?...

Brand new pair of cherished sandals. The ones Boo Bug begged and begged me to buy for her. The ones with the gay little flowers splashed across the toes.


Abandoned, in the sand, in the backyard, sprinkler-dewed and about to be rained upon.

Now, outwardly, all I did was walk out into the backyard, pick them up, shake the sand off and bring them back inside the house. I may have muttered under my breath. And I may have shaken them just a tad harder than was strictly-speaking necessary to get the sand off.

Inwardly…Crawford had nothing on me.

THIRTY DOLLAR SANDALS in the @*^&@ing SAND for the love of @*^&@ I just don’t FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE of all the STUPID LITTLE I work and I slave and FOR WHAT, so that my children can have EXPENSIVE SANDALS to MISUSE and ABUSE and LOSE and IS THIS ALL THE THANKS I GET?!?!?!

I really told the kid off, inside my head.

It’s funny how often it will be something very minor that pops the boils festering inside us. Like when a couple gets divorced and calmly claim it’s because one partner always leaves the toilet seat up while the other leaves the cap off the toothpaste.

Preeeeety sure that’s not the whole issue, right there. But it may well be the one they’re willing to talk about, the one that gets the air play, if you will.

I’m having a little episode right now, a recurring theme that comes and goes whenever stress levels rise. I like to call it the Why The @*^&@ Do I Hafta Do Everything Around Here cycle.

At the height of the cycle (which would be right about now) I am completely incapable of recognizing that anybody else ever does anything around the Den. I will manage to gloss over things like Eldest cleaning the bathrooms (which she does…well, not so well, but with great enthusiasm), or my husband making the beds, or the children doing their best to tidy up their rooms – without me standing over them with a whip screaming, “Clean, peasants, CLEAN!! Now! CLEAN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!” {whhiiisssssh-CRACK!}

And it is always the very small things that set me off. Never the actual problem, which is that I do bear the brunt of the Very Big Decisions.

In my job, the things I work on are worth millions of dollars if I get it wrong. But no pressure, right?

I’m working on the funding for our remodel, and gathering the quotes for the work, and working out the project plan and scope (ay yi yi).

I’m the one who deals with the missives home from school about this child possibly needing glasses, that one needing vaccination reports (for vaccinations she hasn’t gotten yet, oops), watching over Captain Adventure’s speech delay and worrying about whether or not we need to call in reinforcements to assist.

I do the bill paying and the retirement planning.

Whenever things get ramped up on these fronts, when there’s a lot going on all at the same time, I become terrified that I’m doing it all wrong. That I’m making the wrong decisions, that I’m going to get the client sued for billions or that at the end of all things we’re going to lose everything and end up living in Homer the Odyssey.

That really – the hospital never should have let me bring these children home. That someone should have said, “I’m sorry, but you are both too stupid and too psychotic to have charge of children. In fact, you shouldn’t be allowed to have cats, either. Here’s a nice prescription for a lovely narcotic, and we’ll just be putting these children into a nice, safe foster home and someone from PETA will be by directly to remove the kitties.”

Basically, I worry about the same things a lot of people do. That I’m not half as smart as I think I am, that I’m incompetent and Doing Everything Wrong, probably don’t deserve the good things I have, and that really I ought to just go quietly along to the nice nut-house and let somebody prettier, smarter and otherwise more together step into my place.

But rather than yell and scream and sob about any of that…it’s shoes. It’s the recycling not being taken out. It’s finding socks in the middle of the hallway, or someone asking me (again) what’s for dinner, precisely.


Well, actually, it’s more like KA-CHOMP, because I literally bite my tongue when I realize I’m about to let loose on a child while in this cycle of insanity (I also grind my teeth, which I’m pretty sure my dentist is going to want to discuss with me). It ain’t fair to do that, especially when they aren’t really doing anything. I mean. Going all medieval on my Eldest when she asks about dinner (again) (because it is about two hours late at this point) when what I’m really upset about is that I can’t figure out how Customer X ended up on Contract Y and it is claimed that one of MY reports said they should be and therefore so it was done, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t, or at least, it SHOULDN’T have, and now Customer X is claiming they were overcharged by $1,000,000,000,000,000 and they want the money back WITH INTEREST…well, it just isn’t fair.

Unless, of course, Eldest was trying to get at a video game and reprogrammed my report. In which case, FORTY LASHES!!!!

Also, I don’t want them walking up to my mother, lifting their cherubic faces toward her and saying, “Grandma, what does *@^&@*ing *^&@*ity $$$^&@er mean?”

Yeah. That would be, uh, bad.

So I soldier on. I say to myself, firmly, “It's just a pair of sandals.”

I say, “Relax.”

I say, “It will all come out in the wash.”

And then I say, “@&^*@&^!!!!”, because I've just reminded myself that I never got around to rotating the laundry...

Letting go of holding on

I joke a lot about my yarn-hoarding. I’m half-kidding and half…not. I really do become very territorial about my yarn stash.

Even with yarn that isn’t really mine; yarn someone gives me for my charity knitting, or yarn someone buys so I can make them something, yarn that I know full well I have no true ownership of – while it is yarn in my house, I protect it like a mother bear protects her cubs.

But oddly, once I’ve made something with it, my ownership issues abruptly end. I suffer no pain while boxing up the little sweaters and booties – even though I about chewed off my own child’s hand for daring to suggest that it would be good for her finger-weaving. Even if I loved the project so much while I was doing it that I about took it to bed with me at night.

Once the last end has been run in, that’s it. It goes on to wherever it really belongs. I set it free with a happy heart and don’t dwell on it.

It is an odd quirk of mine, I guess. I do the same thing with projects at work – I am extremely territorial over things I am currently working on, but once they leave my desk I really don’t care all that much what happens to them next. Also, I forget how they work with shocking speed.

Six months down the line, it will be as though it never happened. “Hey, remember when you did that huge massive ordeal with the blah blah blah?”

Uuuuuuuuuuuh…sorta. I mean, I remember that there was an ordeal and it had to do with…databases…and stuff…

So you can imagine how I feel when someone calls me up to discuss analysis that was done this time last year…now, about column K, how did you derive that?

Uuuuuuuuuuuuuh…I used…math?

I especially hate it when I’m on the phone for these conversations. I sound much dumber ‘live’ than I do in email. In email, I can sound semi-intelligent, mostly because I have a filing system that is rather god-like and I can look up just about anything I’ve ever done while working for this client. But, on the phone?

Duuuuuuuuh…column which, again?


My current project is a set of fingerless mitts from Accessory Patterns Fall 2006 Collection from Tahki, which I’m doing in a juicy purple Karabella Aurora 8 – an extrafine merino. At $9.50 a ball, it isn’t stuff I ordinarily buy. Not even for a small project like this one.

And I didn’t buy this, either. A friend bought it, and the pattern book, so I could make these fingerless mitts for her.

Oh my dog, people, this stuff is fiber gold. It is soft, and warm, and yummy. The color is so rich and vibrant that my digital camera locks up and refuses to reflect the true glory – it keeps trying to make this rich, deep, eggplant-y purple pastel blue.

Which irks me no end. Because it is not pastel blue. It is an incredible purple. It knits like butter, only without the greasy part.

These really are cool. Fast to knit, gorgeous color, and not too many bobbles (bobbles, me no like-ee) (they’re OK as a finished product, but I find them something of a pain to make – not ‘hard’, just ‘twitchy’). The pattern is quick to memorize, and I was able to keep knitting through all crises yesterday – and believe me, there were a few.

Fingerless Mitt

These come clear up to my elbow, and ooooooooh baby, they are warm.

I’m very, very fond of this project. I love this yarn. I would like to stuff my pillow with this yarn. And also, if someone were to break into this house I would be throwing $2800 laptops at them in an effort to protect this yarn.

But I know that once they’re done, I won’t have any problem with sending them off to my friend.

Because that’s just how I am. You know, odd.

Yup. That's just how I am.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

shut up shut up shut up

People often ask me however I manage ‘all those children’.

In their minds is usually stuff like, getting them dressed in the morning, bath time, laundry – you know, the overall maintenance of house and Denizens.

You know the one thing that actually does make me occasionally want to lock myself in the closet pretending I’m still sexy and single?

The constant yammering. When all of them are in chatty moods at the same time, all of them are needy, all of them are pissy and/or bored and/or demanding.

That’s when I start finding myself coming up with complicated ways to fake my own death and disappear to a fabulous new life as Bambi, the Super Waitress. I’ll go into my bathroom and regard myself in the mirror…a little hairspray, a nice beehive, some bright pink lipstick…I’ll practice saying, “You want gravy with them, hon?” and “Sure, but I’ll hafta charge you full price, hon,” just as the real life Bambi (swear to Dog, her name was Bambi) used to do at a Lyon’s restaurant I frequented in college.

Yeah. Today is that kind of day.

You want some cheese to go with the whine, hon?

My husband is off at an Irish session in Stockton and not due home for quite a while, and ever since he left a few hours ago, guess what the kids have been doing?


It’s one thing to be verbally body-slammed once or twice in a day. Three little people rushing into a room in a rush to tattle on each other, or to demand juice / soda / cookies / crepes / chocolate tortes, three little voices shrieking desperately, eight little hands tugging at the hem of my shorts, one little voice babbling in toddler-speak and then screaming like someone is driving bamboo under his toenails because I’m not understanding the non-language he is using…whether you’ve got one kid or ten, I suspect this happens at least once a day to most parents.

But it has literally not stopped for five minutes since 10:30 this morning.

I am developing a disturbing twitch over one eye, and the other eye has been staring fixedly at the vodka bottle for the last twenty minutes.

I have cranberry juice, triple sec, and KettleOne, people; no lime juice BUT I’M ADAPTABLE!

Using my keen psychic powers, I am seeing one or two or possibly a round dozen or so Cosmopolitan martinis in my future. Also, even though I just made cupcakes for the Denizens (it is Eldest’s birthday-birthday today, and because I am THAT GOOD A MOTHER {ahem} I decided to make cupcakes today even though we had a party for her yesterday, so that after I’ve cooked the dinner she has requested I can make frosting and let the Denizens decorate their own cupcakes) (no, I don’t know what I was thinking), I have a hankering for chocolate meringue pie – dark chocolate.

Of course, I’d have to scrape Boo Bug off me for a minute, because she is eager to help in the kitchen. While I love her dedication to the cause, occasionally I just want to git-er-done in there, and a five year old underfoot is not conducive to same.

But in the process of scraping her off me, there will be wailing and tears and lamentations and cries of, “But I love you! And I wanna help you!”, which is emotional blackmail and ought to be illegal but oddly when you write the FBI telling them about it, they really don’t feel any sense of urgency around the issue.

Since I started writing this, I have driven the Denizens in whole or in part from this room five times. Captain Adventure has been jumping up and down in his crib yelling, “DOWN! DOWN! DOWN! DOWN!”

But he isn’t getting down. You know why? Because his mommy is not emotionally prepared to deal with him, too, right now.

His mumsy-wumsy is about four seconds from running away from home. Breaking into their piggy banks, stealing all their cash, and just walking away, into the night, to begin her new life at Joe’s Diner and Gift Shoppe.

I slept like @*^&@ last night and my arthritis is killing me today AND YET my options around housework are limited to doing it this weekend or spending the whole week wishing I had done it this weekend because there will be no time whatsoever for it next week.

And the girls…have not stopped yammering…for four solid hours

They’re good kids. And I adore them. And I wouldn’t trade them for all the peace and quiet and cleanliness in the world.

Well. Not usually, anyway. I mean, never. Of course, never. Never even crosses my mind, not for a moment.

Not even when I’m cleaning up the glitter glue off the kitchen table, the glitter glue I took away because it is way more mess than it is worth but then they found a tube hidden in the bottom of the crayon tub and used it anyway and then they tried to hide the evidence themselves but in the process instead spread it over every single surface in the house and also it turns out that by ‘washable’ the manufacturer means, ‘can be spread via water onto every single thing you touch for the rest of your life’.

Seriously. Selling them on eBay would never even cross my mind.

Well. At least, it wouldn’t cross my mind as, you know, an actual plan. More of an idle speculation…I mean, if I were to offer free shipping, surely I’d get a bid or two, right…?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Rome may not have been built in a day…

…but the 5 hour baby sweater really does take approximately five hours. Cast on this morning, and one drive to and from a birthday party later:

Five hours to DONE

This was done plain old WalMart Mainstays brand acrylic. It isn’t my raving favorite yarn to work in, but when it comes to projects for which I want a nice, soft yarn that is nearly indestructible – such as for baby clothes which are going to end up tossed in the washer and dryer – it’s great.

It also makes nice afghans and blankies. Anything for which you are prizing softness and machine-cleaning ability, it’s your deal. Especially when knitting with honkin’ big needles like the 10-1/2 jobs I just used, DANG. This is a very soft and cuddly kind of sweater.

I’ve heard that this yarn is discontinued, but it turns up semi-regularly at my WalMart. Of course, my WalMart has an “after-thought” of a craft section. They have what they have, never the same things twice in a row, and if you try to get any information from the staff there, they will gaze upon you in puzzlement (“Why is this woman talking to me? I’m wearing my invisibility cloak!”) and then, after a great deal of thought and perhaps a few calls to somebody “in the back”, they will inform you that they really don’t know anything about it and you should come back on Tuesday between 10:15 and 10:25, which is when the Only Person At The Store who knows about the ordering policies of the craft department is ‘on’.

And now, I’m moving on. I have a pair of fingerless mitts waiting to charm me…

Friday, March 16, 2007

Architects, Electricians, and other insanity

So we had a list of things that needed doing around the Den before we could put it on the market. They included the usual ‘curb appeal’ things, clearing out trash-formerly-known-as-landscaping from the front yard, picking up clutter, putting down playground bark and replacing worn out carpets and fixtures. Refinishing the front door.

Uh, the list…kinda goes on. There’s a level of ‘deferred maintenance’ going on here that gets a little embarrassing when I list it all out.

There are also some truly breathtaking items on the list, like repairing a large crack in the exterior stucco. Things where you seriously ask yourself, “Do I want to deal with this, or knock $5,000 (OK, $15,000) off the asking price and let the new owner deal with it?”

We have no time to deal with these things right now, and no funds available to do it with even if we did have the time. Which, as I said, we don’t.

So I was already starting to say, “You know what? We need more time. We can’t afford to pay someone else, we need to DIY as much as we can, we need to take a deep breath, stand down, collect ourselves, and be reasonable here.”

Meanwhile, out in the real world, we’ve got a major problem.

If you drive down any street in town right now, you will see a ‘for sale’ sign in front of about every fourth or fifth house.


Usually, we have roughly 30, maybe as many as 50, properties for sale; right now, there are 167 on the MLS alone, which doesn’t count any of the ‘for sale by owner’ or Help-U-Sell deals.

Foreclosures are high, as are short sales and plain old fire sales. Prices are falling, falling, falling. A year ago, our model was selling for $575,000; today, we’d be lucky to get $525,000.

In other words – we aren’t likely to sell for what we’d ask, and we wouldn’t get a sale anytime soon.

So we’re backing away from selling this spring, which is a tremendous relief to me thanks all the same. I was starting to lose hair over all the stuff we needed to do, and getting funding for it on such short terms was a nightmare.

Instead, we’re battening down the hatches and preparing to weather yet another storm in the Den – this will be the third housing storm that has blown through this place since we moved here nine years ago. While the storm blows around us, we’re going to be taking care of all those things we should have been taking care of as they came up, but, uh, didn’t.

And also…

We’re doing a remodeling project. A pretty intense one.

See this?

Vaulted and Useless

One of the options the original builder proffered was replacing this vaulted ceiling with a second master suite. The original buyers of this house weren’t interested – they were DINKs, no pets, very into entertaining and gracious living (they put in white carpet, for carp’s sake – WHITE CARPET!). They didn’t want to pay the extra $20,000 for space they didn’t need.

And if I were they, I’d agree. However, not being DINKs, we have mourned the non-existence of that living space ever since Boo Bug came along.

Across from this vaulted ceiling, we have this…

The Ledge of Despair

…which as you can see is used to store my spinning wheel, a piece of my husband’s artwork, any toys the Denizens fling thither from the hallway, and dust.

We’re replacing that with a student / tech center and a hallway which leads to a loft on one side and the new mini-master suite on the other. The mini-master will have a walk-in closet and a small but full bathroom.

We’re filling in a corner currently occupied by a spa we never use to create a walk-in pantry and small office space for me downstairs (actually, I think the pantry may be bigger than the ‘office space’ – but I’m good with that), and a larger master bathroom upstairs.

Enter the architect, and the electrician. We have someone on the line for drywall, and another someone for any roofing we end up needing. Thus far, the estimates total up to just under half what I expected (and got funding for), so I’m assuming I’m right on track for being $10,000 over budget. (Ahem, yes, I am definitely one who plans for the worst and hopes to be pleasantly surprised by the best.)


This weekend we’re doing a knit-along for the Knitting4Children group. We’re doing a 5 Hour Baby Sweater, and by golly, I’ve found it really does take about 5 hours.

My favorite version of the pattern is at Bev’s Country Cottage. And also, I am having a terrible time not cheating and casting on a little early.

Like, right now.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

They followed me home!

I went to the shed to drop off some furniture.

When I got home, I found these:

Kin I keep ‘em?

They followed me home!

…kin I keep ‘em…?

Seriously, this may become a problem. I went there only to drop off the furniture, but dallied next to one of the stash boxes and then suddenly I said to myself, “But this is just so gorgeous! It’s peaceful! It’s a beautiful oceany color and I wantsssssssss it!”

I would try to say that I just won’t go into the boxes when I’m at the shed unattended but frankly – well, why shame myself further with bald-faced lies?! Because obviously, whenever there are no witnesses and yarn about, there will be yarn shopping and yarn buying and yarn bringing-homing. And this is even worse, because I don’t even have the guilt-pause while whipping out a credit card – it’s already mine, dammit, and I’ll bring it home if I wanna!!!

This is all a long way around to say: I think it for the best if, in future, my husband does all the shed-trips. I obviously cannot be trusted.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


I need to know something.

WHY IS IT, that all winter long, I keep saying things like, “@*^&@ it, that’s IT, I’m turning the thermostat up to 78!”

And I wanna do it.

I wanna do it bad.

I’ll dawdle past my thermostat and glare at that 68 setting with sheerest loathing. Because I want to nudge it up a full ten degrees. Because I’m freezing, FREEZING I TELL YOU!

78 degrees sounds like heaven. 78 degrees is what I want, more than anything else in this world. My kingdom for a 78 degree domicile!!

Well, guess what temperature it is in the Den right now? And guess how I feel about it?

Yes, that’s right!

“Hot…so hot…it’s hot in here…is it just me, or is it hot in here? Why is it so hot in here? Seriously, I’m boiling. That’s it. I’m putting on the air conditioner!

And now I’m cruising past the thermostat glaring at the 78 degrees it is proudly displaying with my fingers itching to turn it on and bring it down to a more sensible 70-ish.

Inquiring minds really want to know: Is it possible for me to be happy with the temperature of a place? I’m always that person who is whipping out a sweater when everybody else is exclaiming about how warm they are, or running around fanning herself in a bikini just as everyone around her is comparing the relative merits of fleece v. wool.

For Pete’s sake, what would it take – I ASK, WHAT WOULD IT TAKE – for me to be content with the ambient temperature?!

The world may never know.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Seashores and Sweatpants

We took the children to the beach on Sunday. And what did Mommy learn? I learned that there are few things which will make me as neurotic as having four little children running around on the beach. Seriously. If there was ever a time I wished I had four eyestalks each with a dozen rotating eyeballs and forty-seven hands each with a twenty-foot reach? It was on the beach with the Denizens.

I never thought I’d be the ‘paranoid’ parental type. I always thought I’d be one of the types who would let my children learn about things the way I often did – by being bitten. Oh, yeah, those jelly-like things on the beach? They sting. Sucks, huh?

But no. I’m the sort who runs around behind them like an over-anxious hen, clucking away. “Now don’t go too far in the water…watch out for broken glass…don’t touch that, you don’t know where it’s been…for heaven’s sake, STAY RIGHT HERE, don’t go running off like that…WATCH OUT, THAT BUG STINGS!!!”

Ack. At least I let them get good and dirty and resisted the urge to continually wash their faces.

It was Captain Adventure’s first trip to the beach, ever. His impression?


The boy had sand in his hair, mouth, under each and every wee little nail, down his diaper and up his nose.

So yeah. He enjoyed himself, greatly.

I took him down to the surf and held him as the waves came in until one made it up to his little toes. His eyes got HUGE, and he giggled madly. He waited with breathless anticipation for the next wave…his eyes would get bigger and bigger as they got closer and closer…and then one would be making a sure approach and he’d encourage it with a loud, “aaaaaAAAAAAAAAAH!” and then swooosh! Over the toesies!!!

But it didn’t last long. The ocean is c-c-c-c-cold this time of year up here in Northern California, so after about half a dozen toesies-dips, he was ready to head back to the nice, warm, toss-able sand. Oh sand, how I love thee, let me count the ways…(up my nose, down my diaper, between my toes, on mommy’s head, in mommy’s pockets…)

Meanwhile, the sisters were becoming Wave Chasing Experts. Eldest had the best blend of caution and daring, while Danger Mouse got the award for Most Times Being Knocked Over Because You Were Too Busy Trying To Make Sure Nobody Else Was Getting A Better Ride Than You.

Boo Bug, typically, was tentative at first. She got knocked over a couple times and was about ready to give the whole thing up for a lost cause. The water, as I said, was extremely cold, so falling over in it was not a bit pleasant, really.

I took her little hand in mine and we waited, bravely, as the water gathered itself and swept toward us. I held her up as the sand shifted beneath her feet and the water sucked at her toes, trying to tease her feet out from under her again.

The first couple times, she clung to me like a barnacle. She fretted. She worried. “I can feel myself falling down again!” she’d shriek.

And then suddenly, she got it. How to brace herself, how to both stand firm and go with the waves, how to enjoy the ocean’s playful tug without falling over and enduring the ocean’s not-so-playful ice bath.

A few moments later, she was right in there with her sisters, up to their ankles in water and screaming with laughter.

Now, seeing as how we knew we were going to the beach, you’d think we might have been prepared with any of the following:

Beach toys
Bathing suits
Flip-flops or sandals

But you know what?


See, I had spent the night at a hotel after a day with friends, and my husband met me at the hotel.

The children were wearing:

Tights, jeans, and a turtleneck (Eldest)
Jeans and a wool sweater (Danger Mouse)
Jeans and a turtleneck (Boo Bug)
Jeans and a long-sleeved shirt (Captain Adventure)

But he calmly informed me that he had a change of clothes for them packed.

No towels, no sandals or other ‘beach worthy’ shoes, the camera may or may not have been along for the ride, and definitely no bathing suits. But hey, you know, whatever. Certainly not going to go all the way back home from halfway there, and besides, as long as there’s clean clothes to get into, well shoot. Getting wet and sandy in your street clothes isn’t all that bad.

So we trundled out through the extremely warm day to the beach. And the children ran around in said clothing, fell in the surf in said clothing, and otherwise wrecked said clothing.

We returned to Homer the Odyssey thoroughly filthy, wet and sandy.

I began digging out the spare clothes Daddy had brought.

We had…jeans and a shirt for Eldest.
We had…jeans and a shirt for Danger Mouse.
We had…a shirt and…a shirt…and…that’s it…for Boo Bug…

Oh, carp.

So she’s standing there, shivering like crazy, wet to her underpants, and no nice, warm, dry pants to put on.

I checked about fifty times, as if the pants were going to leap out of the bag yelling, “SURPRISE!!”

No. Boo Bug. Pants.

Finally, I dug up a pair of Captain Adventure’s sweatpants from the darkest recess of the diaper bag and contemplated the waistband on them. Hmm. Nice and stretchy. I looked at her, shivering in pink socks, Disney princess underwear and pink shirt, holding up the steel gray and dark blue sweatpants, size 24 months…

“Oh mommy, no,” she gasped. “That’s Captain Adventure’s!”

“It’s this, or nothing,” I told her firmly. Sniffling and sobbing and sure she’s going to die of sheer fashion deprivation, she shivered to the side of the van and put them on. They did not in any way fit her, really; the hems came up to just below her knees and the waistband was strained to its limit – but it did go on her body and it didn’t crush the breath from her, so it was a go, people.

Thank $DEITY for the stretchiness of sweatpants, hallelujah, amen.

Being warm and dry improved her mood considerably, and pretty soon she was giggling and showing off: Lookit me, I’m wearing BABY PANTS!

Upon inquiring, I learned that Daddy had instructed the girls to fetch their own clothes and put them into the bag – and Daddy, trusting soul that he is, hadn’t double checked their work.

Soooooooo, what did Daddy learn? Maybe something about five year olds and their fashion choices?

Pretty pink socks with the lacy tops: Check
Pretty pink shirt to match the pretty pink socks with the lacy tops: Check
Coordinating Princess Underwear: Check-a-roo
Pants: Uuuuuuuh…oh yeah…

Always, always, always double check the work of your five year old. Because when you ask her, “Did you put your clothes into the bag?” she is going to envision the Disney princess underwear and say, “Yes”, even if she has forgotten everything else that should be going on over it.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Pardon me while I scream wildly and run in circles

Have you ever had one of those days? You know, where the alarm goes off and you say, “Eh!” and slap it silly a few times and then suddenly (and also mysteriously) (because making connections between things like ‘hitting the snooze button eleventy-zillion times’ and ‘running late’ are too abstract for you to make on your own) you’re late getting started?

And then, every single thing you attempt to do all day long becomes an exercise in Murphy’s Law?

I started the morning by deciding that getting up in a timely fashion was somewhat optional. Which, given the knowledge I had of the Day to Come, was a tad on the silly side of me.

I knew, for example, that the Den was a screaming nightmare of disorganization; last week having been heavy on the overtime and illness, and then having been away this weekend, I was fully aware that the Den was up to the scuppers in laundry and other Denizen leavings.

I also knew that due to an extraordinary Feat of Clumsiness© which crushed a pretty hardy little plastic doohickey which feeds me a constantly updating string of characters which, in combination with my strategically-applied Secret Code provides me access to the sacred data of my client, I was going to have more difficulty than usual getting online today.

I further knew that when I walked into the kitchen, it was not going to be pretty. We got home late Sunday evening, and I walked straight past the kitchen, put the Denizens to bed and then jumped into bed myself. Didn’t even glance into the kitchen. But I knew. Oh yes. I knew I was going to be bad…

I was not disappointed in any way this morning. Laundry? GADS! Clutter? GASP! Kitchen? GAH! Logging in? GAK!

Also, the espresso machine was angry and did not wish to steam. It had abandonment issues (I was, after all, gone for forty-eight whole hours) and did not wish to make espresso. Then it sulked and refused to froth the milk.

So I had to start my morning with a call to the IT help desk armed with nothing more than a cup of coffee-scented water and lukewarm milk. FORTY MINUTES LATER, I had a temporary password.

“Oh wait,” he said, when I announced that the temp thing isn’t working. “I just noticed on the Red Board [which is apparently like some kind of big whiteboard on which they write the reasons why the world is probably ending for the saps on the other end of the line] that your entire network is actually down. You won’t be able to log in until we get that repaired. {pause} Yeah, oh christ, we’ve got eighty calls in the queue right now, oh man. Oh man. {at this point, it is sinking in to him that there are real and major problems in his world and that it is going to be a very, very long day indeed – I feel his pain} Yeah, it, this looks like it’s probably a pretty big deal…I don’t have any informa- what? What? {someone is filling him in on what has been going on back in the real world while he was helping the dufus with her token issues} Oh. OK. We have…OK, look, they’re working on the problem, but I’m afraid I don’t have an ETA right now. Both the VPN and the Outlook servers are experiencing outages this morning. Gee, I’m really sorry…”

Sorry? YOU’RE sorry? I’m sorry I ever got up this morning, honey.

But I don’t say that, because it would be demeaning to call the nice IT guy ‘honey’ and besides – however messed up MY day is? HIS is twice as bad as of right immediately now. So I confined my comments to ‘OK, I understand – good luck today.’ and ringing off.

I went and did the dishes, which believe you me was no small feat.

Then, I tried again. Nada.

Hoookay, let’s clean the kitchen and sweep the floors.

Try again. Negative on the hookin’ up with the servers thing.

Got the Scooba out and discovered that someone (*cough-husband-cough*) unplugged it but never plugged it back in so it is dead, Jim, dead.

Said a few words unbecoming a lady.

Then, I made more coffee. The coffee maker is still angry and will not froth milk. So I told it off. Reminded it that it can be replaced. Then, I noticed that someone (*cough-husband-cough*) had fiddled with the steam settings.

It doesn’t like its knobs fiddled with by anybody but me. It is a one person appliance, people. Kind of like a German Shepherd, only…well, I was going to say ‘cheaper to maintain’ but frankly I’m having to become quite stern with myself about the gourmet coffee thing because apparently, I believe that when it comes to my gourmet coffee beans, I am positively made of money.

De-fiddled the knobs, and went back into the office in a state of resigned despair to try ag- hey, it worked! I’m logged in! I’m so excited that I burn my tongue on my hot coffee! OK, let’s get the ball moving, two hours later

“Your Outlook exchange is currently unavailable.”


IT help desk: “Exchange server 289672lkahjslkjh;10d8hlajzxxy is currently unavailable. Customers on this server [yes, that would be me] will not be able to access their email until further notice. Technicians are working on this problem. Please piss off and don’t bother talking to us about it.” (OK, they didn’t really say that last part. I just felt the lack of love via my psychic powers.)

I try to log into my SQL Servers. Because I remember what I was doing. I can just, uh, go do it, right?

Or not. Can’t get to the SQL Server either.

Secure connection up. Secure connection down. Up. Down. Up. Down. IM keeps logging me out. Log back in. Out. In. Out.


More boxes arrived. An architect arrived – believe me, there will be more on that later. And an electrician. Yes. There is a lot ‘more’ in the ‘more on that later’. And the bunk beds arrived for Danger Mouse and Boo Bug.

The bunk bed fits nicely, but I learned that my husband actually got around to bolting the dresser to the wall some time ago. This is good parent behavior! Especially for parents of Denizens, who will do things like use the dresser drawers as ladders in an attempt to reach the closet shelves!

But it means that half of the closet will remain blocked for the foreseeable future, because by ‘bolted to the wall’, he means, ‘made a permanent part of the wall’.

A thousand years from now, they will find a wall-remnant with a dresser bolted to it and wonder what it means. “Obviously, this object was either sacred or extremely valuable,” they will say. “Why else would it have been so thoroughly attached to the wall?”

He does good work, that boy.

Sometimes, a little too good. Ask me about the shelves melded to the walls in Eldest’s room sometime…

Friday, March 09, 2007


I am sick. Now, I’m better than I was yesterday (yesterday got rather bad rather suddenly), and pretty sure that I’m going to be feeling absolutely fabulous by tomorrow (which is important for undisclosed reasons), but my guts are still clearing out whatever upset them yesterday.


I took half the day off to feel sorry for myself yesterday, but did nothing with it other than to lie around groaning softly and mentally listing all the things I needed to be doing, but wasn’t. I’d get up every so often and make half-hearted stabs at things like putting away laundry or getting books into boxes, but pretty quick I’d be back on the sofa thinking about my ever-increasing To Do List.

One (sorta) good night’s sleep later, I dragged my reluctant self into the office and logged in. Very late, I might add. I slept in, dallied about getting the kids to school, gathered myself emotionally aaaaaaaaaaand logged in.

Got an IM from my boss instantly: Shouldn’t you be in bed?

I protested. I have this, and that, and the other to do. And anyway, I needed to check if…

To which he said, “Shut up and go away.” (Well, actually, he said, “You need to go rest and get better.” Which was a gentle way of saying, “Shut up and go away” with overtones of “You have been sick for two weeks and I would really like you to do the intelligent thing and get the rest you need to get better rather than getting just better enough to work for a day or two and then spend half of the next day in the bathroom, you dolt.”)

So, uh, I am going to. I immediately started thinking about all the books and boxes and ironing and you know, a little cleanser in the bathrooms would not be a bad thing…

But then I got to thinking (which should be pronounced, “Rationalizing a way out of housework”), and I decided that really – it would be a dreadful shame if the weekend plans were ruined because I was being an over-achiever and made myself sicker when I had such a prime opportunity to rest and get better.

So, instead of imperiling the weekend, I’m going to retire to my rocking chair and start my weekend knitting early. I am going on a !!!BABY SOCK RAMPAGE!!!™ this weekend!

The pattern for the sock shown in my 'on the needles' box up there comes from here, via Knitting Help. AWESOME site, by the way – loads of free pattern links, advice and tips. Some of the free baby patterns there are definitely ‘Awwwwwww!’ worthy.

I have about six hundred billion (well, that may be a slight exaggeration) (but only a slight one) partial balls of sock yarn I’ve been saving because there’s “plenty” to make baby socks, and when I was packing up the stash I held all those back.

I’m going to take the bin, and my double pointed needles, and I’m going to sit in my chair, and whump out some baby socks, and I am going to not worry about all the other stuff I ‘should’ or ‘could’ or ‘ought’ to be doing right now.

Thus it is spoken, thus shall it be. HAIL PHARAOH! HAIL PHARAOH! HAIL PHARAOH! {Cymbals clash!} {Fern fronds wave} {Minions prostrate themselves before my omnipotent glory!}

Ah yes. It is good to be Pharaoh…

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Enter the flu again

OK, now, this is getting ridiculous. I have a tremendous list of things to do, and I ask you, do the words ‘get flu bug again’ appear anywhere on this list?

No. No, they do not.

So would somebody kindly tell my guts to knock it off, already? Because I am a very, very busy woman. I have errands to run, dammit. I don’t have time to be shackled to the bathroom yet again…


You know, for the last few years my husband and I have been talking about moving. And yet, typical of us, after talking the thing to death and then whacking the subject with a stick a few times for good measure, when we decide to do it – it’s *snap* just like that.

We go from ‘discussion’ to ‘action’ in what seems like the blink of an eye. And it always disconcerts me, even though I was there for all that discussion. Even though I know there was a rational line of thinking followed by the roughing together of a plan…it always feels like we just woke up one morning and said, “Hey, I’ve got an idea!”

And then some massive change…just happens.

So after discussing wanting to move and putting together a Ways and Means committee and discussing it ad nauseum with friends, family and random strangers at bus stops – WHAM!

Moving boxes all over the house, MY YARN STASH IN BOXES! {sob sob}, storage sheds, paint, spackle, carpet samples, and what are we going to do about those falling apart bath fixtures in the master bathroom?!

And of course, when the going gets tough, I start saying, “Hey, I’ve got an idea. How about we just call the whole thing off?”

It is not one of my more charming traits, people.

But of course, there have been a few other things tossed into the ring in the meantime. Current market conditions, for example, which are…in a word…bad. There are so many houses for sale up and down the street it defies description. We are reaping what has been sown on the real estate boom out here; a lot of people are in a world of hurt thanks to their 125% loan to value adjustable rate mortgages. Which now equate to anywhere from 130% to 150% loan to value, which not even the subbest of sub-prime lenders will even consider refinancing for them.

There may be changes coming in both our jobs. Mine may be going bye-bye; in spite of having The Perfect Setup to do so, we are just not able to balance the work/family thing. From homework to getting their teeth brushed, the Denizens are becoming like little wild creatures being raised by wolves.

Also, dinner has gotten later and later and stranger and stranger as time has marched on; any time my boss calls me directly it means nobody eats for two days. The children have learned to gnaw open boxes of Goldfish crackers to survive.

And my husband’s client may be changing. Which is not a bad thing in and of itself, but is exactly the sort of thing which makes house shopping a pain in the butt. “Hey, you work in South San Francisco, let’s look close to there!”

But wait! NOW my client is going to be in…Roseville! Or perhaps Santa Clara! Hey, how about Los Angeles? Or Petaluma!


But you know what? It’s OK. If we list and then don’t sell because the market’s bad, hey. We will have gotten a lot of the irritating nonsense that has plagued us for years, the corroded bath fixtures and holes in the wall we've never gotten around to patching, out of the way and there you are. Fixed up Den, and we can just sit tight and wait for the market to stabilize. (The yarn stash, though, COMES HOME.)

If we do sell, then we’ll look for a place that suits us. Someplace with beauty, and culture, interesting things to do both as a family and as individuals. Someplace with a music scene and a little freakin’ artistry. Someplace with better schools (our elementary, specifically, is pretty darned good – but middle and high schools are a nightmare out here). Someplace where my garden can be in peril from deer would be nice – we don’t even have squirrels here at the Den.

It’s funny, it’s such a little thing…but the utter lack of wildlife is extremely depressing to me. It makes for a very…sterile…environment. Add in all the natural beauty of a parking lot and the intense smog and you’ve got yourself a humdinger of a place to raise your kids, huh?

Which reminds me: The Yarn Harlot wrote of her crappy house, to include a description of what it looked like when they bought it. This, I suspect, is what we’re going to end up having to buy in order to get into any of the neighborhoods we’re interested in. Undeterred, I am insisting that I will simply love restoring said Unique Fixer Upper Opportunity and that it will be worth it in exchange for being able to look out my kitchen window and see deer calmly chewing up all my spinach…

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Alpaca in Cardboard

Well. So. As you’re probably aware, when you’re getting ready to sell your house one of the first things your realtor will tell you is that you need to declutter - a word which in my case is pronounced, “Hot holy carp, woman, get some of this yarn out of here – your house looks like it fell on a yarn store!”

This morning, I started pulling yarn out of the craft closet.

Bags. Boxes. Skeins. The big cones. The wee little balls I can’t bring myself to throw away because there is totally enough for a few pairs of baby booties left. The beautiful. The, uh, well, it was on sale. Superwash. Cotton. Alpaca. Silk. Chenille.

Now, I knew I had a fair bit of yarn in there. I knew that. I knew that, through the last nine years, I have bought a bit more yarn than I have actually used. Especially given my irrational pack-rat habit with the leftovers (which I then seldom use because my color sense is appalling and I will put together the worst possible combinations) (and no, a color wheel doesn’t help me) (no, I’m not colorblind, just color-stupid), well.

It adds up, people.

But, we need to clear it out. We are trying to show the Den at its best, trying to show people what it would look like if it were not inhabited by a band of lunatics who collect things like partial balls of yarn, musical instruments in need of just a little work, books, crayons, buttons and children’s artwork.

I took out the easy stuff this morning. The yarn that was where it is “supposed” to be, in the craft closet. I know there are still rogue balls out there, mercenary skeins that have taken to the low country (under the bed) or are hiding in the Alps (upstairs bedroom closet).

I’d say this is probably about 95% of my stash right here; I left out things that are currently on the needles and one (1) project I’m all hot to start (the Celtic Lattice vest from Cheryl Oberle’s ‘Folk Vests’ book), and a handful of the remnant sock yarn balls to make booties with in my copious free time {ahem}, but all the rest?


Yarn to Storage

Each and every container you see here is stuffed with yarn. And there is one row of boxes you can’t see, beneath those. Plus also another (small) box that didn’t fit there which is riding shotgun.

There are space bags involved.

And brute force and profanity to get some of those boxes closed.


As I was packing it all up, I briefly flirted with the wild notion of putting all some maybe a few of the nicer crap skeins things up on eBay.

But I suspect my lined-out words will tell you how that conversation went with myself. No, it did not go well.

“You know,” I said to myself thoughtfully. “You’ve had these three skeins of gorgeous handspun black alpaca since Noah was a pup and haven’t done anything with it. It’s good stuff. You could probably make some money if you put that (and this, and this, and that, and those, and this) up on eBay and you know that Cash is King right now, what with all the fence-slat-replacing and fixture-fixing-upping and painting and…”

“NO! Nooooooooooooooo! We loves it, my precious, it’s OURS, OURS! Hssssss, my preccccccioooooussssss!”

I scared myself so much I dropped the yarn into the box and backed away quickly. Hoo boy. I had no idea how creepy I can be.

I also began playing a game of ‘wait, not that one.’

Wait – I might need black superwash!
Wait – I wanted to make a shawl out of that!
Wait – what if, well, what if?!

My husband tried to speak reason unto me.

“Honey,” he said, reasonably. “It’s not like it’s going away forever. It’ll be in the storage unit, right up the street. Five minutes. You can get whatever you need, any time. I’ll make sure it stays where you can get to it easily.”

“Wellllllll,” I replied, reluctant to concede the point.

I am not rational when it comes to my yarn. I don’t know when this started, exactly, because I wasn’t always like this. In point of fact, the last time we moved, all the yarn I owned took less than one box.

Things have definitely changed.

And I don’t like to see my yarn going off to the cold, dark storage unit. I know they’re not really alive, but I swear I feel as though I’m putting a (rather large) litter of kittens into boxes to be stored. Poor little things! They don’t deserve this kind of treatment! It is a soulless thing to do, a dark and dismal thing.

But then I thought of something that cheered me right up. As I shared with my husband:

If I do need anything, it’d probably be easier to just go to KnitPicks and order it.

Oddly, he didn’t seem to find this as excellent an idea as I did.

Husbands. Go figure.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Monday and the world goes on

First Things First: Thanks. I appreciate all the comments and support and sympathy and suggestions. You guys are awesome.

Seconds things second: OH MY GAWD, my heating pad feels SO GOOD right now. It’s one of those barley-filled things you put in the microwave for a minute (or two) and then plop over whatever part ails ya? Stupid thing cost me, like, three bucks at a craft fair about…oh gads…fifteen years ago. Still going strong, still like magic on my back. And shoulder. And knee. And anything else that could do with a bit of good old fashioned heat therapy. Also, the smell makes me think of horse stables – the good parts, not the parts I was usually scooping up in there.

So things are utterly crazy around here. I mean, crazy. Not just the usual crazy – CRAZY-CRAZY. We’re moving forward with selling the house, and we’re plotting our course on atlases AND I’m one shot of vodka away from quitting my job for various reasons only a few of which actually have anything to do with the job itself PLUS there may be a change in my husband’s situation AND ALSO one of our daycares is closed for two weeks for Easter AND I can’t afford to pay for the ‘extended care’ option AND HONESTLY – have you ever felt like the Universe is playing Don’t Break the Ice on your psyche?!

However, it was pointed out to me that Mercury is in retrograde (darn); then it was stated that it would be out of retrograde on March 8 (whew); but then I realized that isn’t necessarily true, because there is the return trip, so to speak, which means the full effects of the cosmic temper-tantrum won’t be over until March 28 (ARGH!).

I firmly believe in astrology – it conveniently handles just about anything that goes wrong in life.

See, when standing in the ruins of what was a wonderful house of cards, I can either say, “This is mine to own. I own the original construction, which maybe wasn’t so good; I own the consequences, which are kind of messy; and also I own the reconstruction, which may be a big old bother I’d rather not deal with right now because I am emotionally distraught but oh well, boo hoo for me, such a pity, now suck it up and walk it off, Momma!”

Or, I can say, “Drat, Mercury is in retrograde again!” and we can all nod sagely and say, “Ooooooh, of course!” and, well, there you go. No need to bother about any of that ‘hard work’ part, because it was all preordained by the movement of the planets.

Now seriously, people. Which would you rather do?!

I’m not really as much a skeptic as I pretend on these issues; subtle forces can be the most powerful, and ones we don’t acknowledge can push us in directions we find surprising. (This, by the way, is a common symptom of the Universalist – we can accept that darn near anything is possible and love to romp through everybody else’s thoughts and dogma and potluck suppers.) (Presbyterians use more cans of cream of mushroom soup per capita than any other Christian denomination! Coincidence? I THINK NOT…)

But I digress.

My husband and I have had more meaningful conversations about life-direction in the last week than we’ve had in the nine years we’ve lived here. The brief flirtation with the Flood Plain Palace did a lot to open up our issue-box and let them out.

So I’m glad we found it, and I’m glad it fell through. It was the least perfect Perfect House™ ever. And now, we can move past that and get on with the more important thing: the Perfect Den™ in the Just Right© town with the right blend of culture and beauty.

And also getting the current Den ready to be sold. We’ve got, uh, a little bit to do, there…

…oy vey…

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Oh, feh.

Sometimes, I hate my brain. Especially when it INSISTS on pointing out the obvious when it is exactly what I DON'T want to hear.

So I’m sitting here, thinking about Things, still trying to find something wrong with the Palace.

But what on earth could anybody find wrong with that beautiful, beautiful house, right next to the river…

River…fed by the water…from the delta…and…the…Sierras…


About three minutes later, I was wishing I hadn’t thought about it: The house is not only in a flood plain (shoot, most of the Central Valley is flood plain), but the development itself is cuddled right up against a levee.


Feck, feck, FECK.

I informed the husband.

He paled.

“You’re @*^&@ing kidding me,” he said.

We spent a few minutes feebly asking each other if we were, you know, concerned about that. (Um, I grew up in this general area – I can remember at least four !MAJOR! floods just in my brief thirty-{mumble} years. Yeah. I’m ‘concerned’ about it.)

After we got done pretending there was anything to talk about, there was a long moment of silence. We were both depressed. I personally was feeling that maybe, just possibly, $DEITY was indulging in a vicious joke.

I seldom want things that much. I really don’t. But I really, really wanted that house. And it’s rather hard to realize that there’s a major, a very real and immediate threat to not only that particular house, but the entire development.

That the thing I want so much requires living in a place that will flood again – it’s just a matter of time. The more I’ve looked at the maps, where the river is, where the dams are, where the water goes, the more I’m marveling that I didn’t notice it before.

This place is mental.

The area has suffered eleven major floods since the 1920s; the last one in 1997. There was minor flooding in that area last year (major flooding was about ten miles further east, where a ‘permanent-mobile’ home park was under a good eight feet at the worst of it.

On the one hand, it’s just part of life in the Central Valley. We all get nervous when the heavens open up, and watch the runoff reports in Spring. No matter where you are in the Central Valley, even in ‘low risk’ areas like where we currently live, Delta has a way of creeping out of her banks and joining you in your living room.

People talk about the levees and how much work is being done on them and so forth – but Delta is like the great Mississippi. She changes at her own whim. We try to control her, we try to block her from going here and keep her course going this way and keep her waters from spreading chill fingers across our lawns…but she’s going to go where she wants to go.

Levee, or no levee.

I wish I could hate Delta for being the way she is…but people, she is a beautiful and mighty thing. I’ve loved her since I was a kid, when my parents had a houseboat and we’d float along the sloughs and tracts. She’s quiet, deceptively so – you look at that bright surface and slow-looking water, and it’s easy to think she’s no big deal.

But she’s mighty. Oh yes. She is. She is a quiet life and death, implacable and calm, a water-spirit of ancient depth and shallows.

And if she decided she wanted to hop over the levee and see what we were up to on the other side? She would.

Sure, there’s no such thing as ‘safe’ from Nature. There are hurricanes in Florida and tornadoes in Kansas, and not a corner in California that can’t have a nice earthquake shaking things up.

But having realized that we’re basically moving right under the shadow of a dirt levee and trusting that hey – I’m sure that after that whole New Orleans thing, you remember, that hurricane-thing?, our gummint will be looking after these things and doing preventative maintenance and…



Probably not all that bright a move. It would be a matter of moving in accepting that, at some point during our expected twenty-thirty year tenure, we’d experience at least one major flood. Well. More like two or three major floods. One about every ten years or so.

Even with my somewhat casual approach to material possessions…I don’t think I can handle that kind of risk. Shoot, we’ve lived here for ten years and never gotten around to finishing the backyard or the painting – imagine if we had to repair floor damage every ten years?! “Hey look, honey, now we don’t have to deal with that cracked concrete back there I’ve been meaning to fix – the new flood swept it right away!”


Well, all things happen for a reason. I knew we were ‘itchy’ here in the Den – and since we’ve been discussing it a lot has surfaced. I didn’t know my husband was as unhappy as he is here, and both of us are just plain fed up with the direction of the city, from the streets to the schools.

I think we’re still planning to move. In a way, all that has happened is that a certain weight has been lifted from us – we’re not going to be worrying about when this or that division comes available, or getting any grief if the Den doesn’t sell in a timely fashion; we have more time to get the Den looking sharp for the new owners and if we don’t end up selling? Hey. We’ll have fresh paint, new carpets, and a (mostly) finished backyard, AT LAST.

Still want the Palace, though. And I may just have to go off and pout, sulk and otherwise behave childishly about it for a while. And wonder why $DEITY is being so mean…

Hey, that reminds me of an old joke. There is a mighty flood, and the water has risen hip-high in the streets. A rowboat approaches a man sitting on his porch and the occupants shout to him that they’ve come to rescue him.

“No,” he replies. “The Lord will provide me sanctuary.”

A few hours later, the water is now lapping at the second-story windows. A Coast Guard cutter approaches, and the brisk young men in uniform call out asking if he requires assistance.

“No,” he replies. “The Lord will provide me sanctuary.”

Soon, the water has flooded the entire house and begun lifting it from the foundation. As he sits on his roof, a helicopter descends and they attempt a rescue.

“NO!” he screams up at them. “THE LORD WILL PROVIDE ME SANCTUARY!”

Within moments, he is swept away by the flood and drowns. When he arrives at the Pearly Gates, he storms up to God and reads Him the riot act.

“Lord, I trusted You! Why did You betray me?!”

God rolls His eyes. “Look, Sparky, I sent you a rowboat, a Coast Guard cutter, AND a helicopter – what do you WANT from Me?!”

Thank you, I’m here all week.

…and, apparently, the week after that, and the week after that, and…