Steam Release Valve

Some days the pressure is just too much. Nineteen months and counting. Nineteen months of rejection letters, revised resumes, watching our savings dwindle to zero, depending on odd jobs and the church to help us as money runs low.

People have done unbelievably kind things for us.  A friend sent my kids new bike helmets and Easter treats, little care packages arrive in the mail, brightening my day, anonymous friends have dropped cashiers checks off on our doormat- generosity that I’m unable to even thank them for… We have been richly blessed by this trial- I can see that already, and it’s not even over.

There are some days, days when the kids are crabby, days when we didn’t perhaps get enough sleep, days when maybe my hormones are insane, days when a new bill comes in, or the sink  explodes- those are the days I feel like I’m in a pressure cooker, and I need a release or I might die.

Those are the days where David and I become adversaries instead of companions trying to row the same flimsy boat. Those are the days where yelling overtakes the house, followed by unsettled wars of quiet. Those are the days tears spill down cheeks and eyes cut at each other in anger.

How are we? Fine. We’re going to survive.  I stand alone in the garage doorway as my husband goes out to lick his wounds, and I retreat into the rapidly warming July house, to do the same. Mine wounds are bigger. No, mine are. You hurt me worse, no YOU hurt me worse. The pressure cooker rattles on. Eventually it’s too much and the steam finds tiny fissures and escapes with a scalding scream. Steam burns are the worse.

I smile and nod, like Tom Seleck. How am I? Shoulder shrug, nod, “Fine.”

Garage Sale Finds: SCORE!

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This one just makes me giddy. That table is a solid walnut, antique, Duncan Pfyffe knock-off, with filigree edge and brass toe-caps on the tri-corn legs. The filigree is broken a little in the back- but it doesn’t bother me at all. It was marked fifty cents. Yes, that’s right. FIFTY CENTS. I asked the lady if that was right- actually, what I said was “This can’t be right, can it?” and she said sure, it was damaged. I slapped down my two quarters and ran to the car.

The wingback chair is also a thrift store find, $5.00. Yes, I ran with that one too. And its matching partner, which lives on the other side of the fireplace. I have a bolt of natural linen that I plan on making them slipcovers- and eventually I’ll get around to it. Won’t they be darling in linen slipcovers? The orange doesn’t do it for me, but hello!? FIVE bucks each? Thank you very much!

Summer

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This photo makes me very, very happy. It’s such unadulturated Joy. Seeing a boy who has had more than his share of tears and difficulty be so utterly, delightfully happy, makes this Mama’s heart sing.

Random Crap: Summer Lull

Here it is. High summer. It’s hot round these parts, after a lot of rain last week. It was honestly almost cold one day, and I kept hearing Natalie Maines’ voice in my head chortling “…here’s your cold day, iiiiiiin Juuuuuuuuu-lyyyyyyyyy”. No more. It’s near 100 today, and the kids are just full of complaints about how hot they are.  Last night there was much sprinkler running, some tears, a popsicle or two, too late of a bedtime, and grumpy kids today. Basically a summer night.

BugleDid I mention Beanie got a BUGLE? As in, real, honest to goodness, brass-band BUGLE. Looks just exactly like this one.  A musical friend has moved on to the trumpet, and when hanging out the other day, Beanie saw his bugle, picked it up, and ripped off three notes the first try. The friend said most people can’t get it to work the first time, let alone actually play a note- so he sent Bean home with it- and we’ve been enjoying bugle music ever since. Well, most of us have been enjoying it- Jeffrey is annoyed, but everyone else thinks it’s cool. Well, maybe the neighbors don’t, but I didn’t ask them. As we were coloring on the driveway the other night at twilight, Beanie was marching up and down the court, bugling to high heavens. It was fantastic. His face just glows with happiness when he’s blowing on that horn, so it’s all good to me.

Uncle Todd was here too, yesterday. Hooray for Uncle Todd! We love him. Mo was over with her gang for the day too, and her poor baby burned the bottoms of her feet on the hot driveway/porch. Terrible feelings were had by all for a while. Then, running water in the sink helped, as did M&M’s. Poor baby. She feels better today.

Garage sales were OK this morning. I found a new birdcage for the FOUR birds we now have. Daivd and Bean are currently at the pet store getting a feed-dish to fit the new cage. It told him if he came back with another bird, I would filet and fricasee all the birdies for dinner, and he would be very, very sorry. But a bigger cage was desperately needed, and new cages are a lot of money!

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I found a mid-centruy small bookshelf with sliding glass doors, and talked the lady down from $15 to $10. It’s just like this one, only it has another shelf in the middle, behind the glass doors.

It’s perfect for all the kids’ art supplies. And, it fits juuuust right in my dining room. It’s wood like this one, but I’m thinking of using my free Glidden paint that came in the mail to give it a coat of  Spicy Pear- Did anyone else get their free paint?

I also found a few small things- a recipe box with polka dots and strawberries on it (25 cents), a potholder (25 cents), a skirt for myself ($1), and a potato ricer from the 1960′s ( $1). So, not a lot, but still nice.

David and Beanie just got back. No bird. ::exhale:: I didn’t want that fight. At all.

Oh, and one final note- we’re done with diapers, as of today. It’s going to be brutal, it’s going to be rough, the floors might suffer. I will probably swear. But when one cannot get the diapers taped anymore, it is time to move on. A milestone has been reached. Or else.

Picky Eaters Don’t Always Get Over It

Extreme Naval-Gazing ahead. You’ve been warned.

toddler-picky-eaterI’m a picky eater. Which is funny, because I’m fat- so I obviously and conspicuously have no problem finding food to eat- it’s just that my preferences are… um… strong. Most of my family and friends (including my internet besties) know about my disregard for peanut butterwatermelon, cotton candy and marshmallows. I’ve been vocal there- but I’ve been thinking- and there are a lot more things on my list of “No Thanks” than just those…

Jell-O: this seems to have been passed on chromosomally to my kids. Abby actually gags on it, Jeffrey won’t touch it, and Beanie says he likes it, but then just sit and pokes at it for a while, finally getting up and leaving it. I hate Jell-O. All flavors, all kinds- and if you mix stuff in with it, it goes from being merely unappetizing to utterly wretched. Don’t argue with me. Don’t tell me if I tried YOURS I would like it. The only Jell-O I’ve ever even partially liked came with pretzels and cream cheese. And I picked most of the red Jell-O layer off.

Which brings me to my next item- Hard Pretzels. Ick. Why? Why do people like these? There is just something so… wrong about them. Like little giraffe necks, with their beaded salt globules and cardboard tastelessness. Nope.

Brownies: Yeah, I know, I know. I don’t hate brownies- I mean, I could eat one if I were jonesing for sugar and there was nothing else, but I will never, ever seek one out, nor will I pay for one. No matter what. And if it has nuts in it? Not in a million years. NO nuts.

Which brings me to walnuts. My mother loves them, and packed them in baked goods my whole childhood. Walnuts are bitter, they sting, and the tannins are sour.  Like I want that all over my food?

Macaroni or other cold past salad. Something about the cold mayonnaise on the noodles- with the inevitable celery and … and… just ew.

Once in a great while I will have a hamburger, or a thin, thin slice of flank steak. But seriously? If there is any other choice in a five minute radius? The red meat loses out. The smell, the texture, the smell… the texture… nope. In restaurants, to this day, I order vegetarian whenever possible.  ANYTHING with tendons or bones- I just cannot.  At home the only way I can deal with cooking chicken is to buy the frozen boneless skinless pink icy tenders. Then I don’t even have to touch them- just use the tongs and pop them in the pan. Once I left the kitchen in tears while David cut up a whole chicken to make soup from. I’m a wuss.

Ice cream with chunks in it- unless it’s Cherry Garcia.

Banana, zucchini, or other kinds of quick-breads. Not even when I was a kid did I like these- and my kids are looking like they inherited that too. Serves me right… I made banana bread yesterday (no walnuts, of course) and gave all three loaves to neighbors and friends.

Plums, nectarines, peaches or other stone fruit (besides cherries, which I love). The pit of a peach or a nectarine gives me the yeeshies. It’s like those lotus-pods, and I HATE those- absolutely HATE THEM. I won’t even eat peach pie. I make a mean one, I’m told, but I won’t touch it. Neither will my kids.

(Maybe I’m the reason they’re so picky…? Hmmmm… never thought of that…)

A few things I particularly adore: Cheese, bread with no bumps, anything LEMON, the smell of grapefruit, cheese, salt, olives, cheese, yeast bread, butter, raspberries, cherries, blackberries, lettuce, wintergreen, nutmeg, licorice, tomatoes- all of them, cheese, bread, butter, cheese…. hmmmmm. I could live forever on a cheese platter with a smattering of fruit, a dolop of honey, some olives and some crusty, seedy, sourdough twists. FOREVER.

Bread and Berries

July is yanking my chain. Yesterday was miserably, sweltering hot. Last night thunder and lightning rolled across our skies, drawing the sleepy boys from their beds into our room, where we gazed out the darkened windows at the crashing show. Today, drizzle and overcast skies, it’s cool enough that I closed a window and thought about putting on socks.

This is strawberry season, jam making season, apricots and raspberries and peaches… just when I finally came to place of peace with July, she turns on me.

So I’m making banana bread and have a large crockery bowl of yeast dough on the counter, rising and making the kitchen smell wonderful. Not sure what kind of bread it will turn into- the boys are lobbying hard for Monkey Bread- but I’m leaning towards some crusty french loaves. Not exactly standard July fare.

Off to deliver my loaves of banana bread- it’s fantastic. See, I don’t like banana bread, but I make a mean one, so I make them for other people. It’s the secret to my girlish figure…

Throwing Fits

Boy, have I been in a vile mood lately. Honestly, Mama’s in a bad bad mood. Grumpy, mean things just pop out of my mouth before I even know they’re coming- and that’s not like me- I’m not quick on the verbal uptake. But wowzers, I’m even surprised at the vitreol and fury flying. Tonight, I threw a total tizzy because I couldn’t find the exact bra I wanted- I mean throwing things, swearing at the walls- thankfully the kids were in the playroom, and only David was privy to my mega-meltdown. Yes, I know it wasn’t about the bra.

So I took off all by myself and met Mo at the local pottery-painting place.

I had never been there, and by the time I arrived I was done wanting to throw things- because honestly? Not the place to have a temper tantrum. They had lots and lots of cute stuff- and I was actually rather enchanted by the plain simple whiteness of all the bisque. It was calming. I needed calming. It was also calming just sitting with a paintbrush in my hand while Mo chatted me up about her new job and what’s been keeping her so busy. Sometimes just listening is a good thing.

She made a cupcake, I made a plain old plate. But I painted a cupcake on it.

When I got home, all the babies were in bed, but not asleep yet, so I got the best part- stories and kisses- and got to skip the gloopy toothpaste and dirty kids in a bath part. The kitchen was also spotless- and the clean laundry had been carried upstairs. Sigh… Sometimes being married ten years has it’s pay-offs.

Everyone is asleep. The house is lulled by only by the quiet hum of the fan, and my fingers and they fly over the clickety keys. Even the dishwasher is done. And I have a date with with giant brick of a history book I’m plowing through- with great delight. I love me some history…

Baskets of Worry

Usually- or at least I fancy “usually”- I try and come up with creative ways to describe my mind- allegories, stories, parables- yet now, I don’t have the spirit to even try. I’m worn out. Down. Raw. Tired. Hollow. Sore. Chris Cornell’s voice is playing on loop in my mind- “… sitting in the corner like wet ashes with x’s in my eyes…”

My house is a disaster. I can’t even find a place to begin, and if I could, I don’t know that I’d have the gumption to start. It’s like the dutch child with their finger in the dyke; if I move from where I’m holding up the wall, another part will just spring a leak. I’m paralyzed, and lying down and going to sleep just sounds so much better than stretching my exhausted, quivering arms to try and stop another breach. So tired.

Eighteen months and counting…

Thoughts swarm my head like vultures on fresh carion. What next? How do we keep our house? Where is the help for us? We just want to work- to pull our own weight. The tunnel is so dark, my eyes ache for a glimmer of light. The darkness plays tricks on me- I feel things, see things that aren’t there, and lash out against things imagined, collaterally hurting those close to me in the dark.

A house of order? My yearning mocks me.

There is no order here except the Order of Waiting. And getting in each others way- while waiting. We have our thick baskets of Worry around our necks. They make it hard to get close. The baskets creak and strain, letting the Other know they are too close- to watch out, or the contents may spill in the dark, and then who knows what will be set free. It’s better to lug them around- at least we know where they are, the Worry.

Random Crap: July Edition

uncle-sam-4th-of-july-american-flag-vintage-postcardI’m not hating on July like I usually do. All my life, July has been my least favorite month, and yet this year, I’m appreciating her hot self. The year turning feels good, and even though it’s hot, she brings me my Hydrangea bushes in bloom, berry picking season, jam-making and sparklers in the backyard. I think I may be growing up.

Simple Eco Shoes sent Abby some shoes with the deal that I review them, and how they hold up. They are not paying me, and I am free to write however I honestly feel- that’s the caveat with any review I agree to. I will not be bought or sold- you get what you get when you send me something. And hey, free shoes! Look for the review next week.

Yesterday I found a tutorial on how to make neckties, and you would NOT believe how awesomely easy it is. The boys are stoked- and they both picked through my fabric piles looking for the coolest fabric. Beanies has American flags all over it, and Jeffrey’s has dragons. It’s mostly hand-sewing- and I got the link from someone (can’t remember the link- it if was you let me know?) who commented here.

Just finished reading Rough Stone Rolling, and have a tremendous intellectual crush on Richard Bushman. It’s not a light read, but it’s worth it.

Also just finished reading Mormon Enigma, and have a new, profoundly deep respect for Emma. Holy cow. The woman was made of fine, fine things. Mixed with steel.

Next up: David O. McKay’s bio. Not light reading, but it’s sitting like a brick on my nightstand waiting its turn.

The kids broke the arm off the rocker in my office. This particular rocking chair came across the plains in a Conestoga wagon on the Oregon trail, and was rocked by my husbands great great grandmother. My Mother-in-Law gave it to me a few years ago, and I’m sick that my kids managed to mangle it. It’s fixable- it broke on a joint, and I think with some TLC, glue and some new dowels it will be fine. At least I hope so…

Our air conditioning is broken. It worked fine, and then kapow, when the switch is flipped: nothing. Nada. Kaput. The house fan still works, but neither the heat nor the cool will come on. Hopefully it’s just a thermostat thing- because we can really afford a repair bill right now? Nope. We’ll just be hot. Turn on the fans and pull down the shades. Crap.

Last night for dinner I made Chicken Tika Masala. Oh, stars, it was gooooooood. If you want the recipe, it’s another one of Ree’s. Give it a shot- it’s easy and so fantastically good. The boys turned up their noses, but Abby ate a whole plate. That’s my spicy girl!

We’re not doing much for the Independence Day weekend. My whole family down in California is up at the Lake near Yosemite where we always go for vacations. They’d have so much more fun if we were there. Instead, we will be playing with Sparklers in the backyard. Ear your hear out, family! Who wants a lake at Yosemite when you can have a sparkler and a five-gallon bucket of safety water in the backyard? I mean really!

I wish I had a clothesline in the backyard.

I’m making Indian cheese today. What? Mo informs me not everyone makes cheese and the cavalier way I talk about some things is just funny.  Everyone doesn’t make cheese? She is laughing at me. I mean, I’m not stupid- I know not everyone makes cheese- but what’s the big deal? I love Indian food, and I need some cheese. What gets me, for all the fine cuisine of the Indian subcontinent, they only ever invented ONE kind of cheese. It’s called panneer. It’s awesome, and easy to make, and I cannot find it any markets around here. So I make my own. It’s not rocket science. And it’s delicious!

BIG bowl of Bing cherries sitting on my counter, just waiting for something fantastic to happen…

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