Friday, August 31, 2012

Wild Kingdom

Welcome to this fantastic episode of Wild Banister Abbey Kingdom.  (It's an obscure show, don't worry if you've never heard of it.)

Banister Abbey has mice.  This fact first became evident a few weeks ago when Al and I were watching the Olympics in our TV room.  A mouse suddenly ran in front of us like the ballsy little jerk he is.  Al and I yelled in unison, "Oh great, we gotta deal with you now, too, asshole mouse?" and punched some walls in fury.  In our defense, it had been a long week of Banister Abbey renovations.

I purchased a humane mouse trap, the type that captures the mouse but doesn't kill it so you can re-release it into your enemy's backyard.  I have many enemies so this is a nice feature.

We've captured a few mice with the trap and re-released them into the same area so they can hopefully find each other again.  Picture the mouse family reunion!  The joy!  That is, if they weren't eaten by much larger animals within thirty seconds of freedom.  If that indeed happened, I hope it didn't happen as they were running towards each other -- "My beloved mouse brother, where you been??  GAH!  PUMA!"

After the mice, we ran into this bastard.  Also in our TV room --

I saw it on the carpet, backed out of the room slowly, and asked Alex if he'd by chance purchased a large scary spider toy for the kids recently.  He said no, so we crept back into the room armed with a plastic storage container and the birthday card my mother sent Al.  It was an effective spider-capturing duo.

We attempted to identify the spider to see if it was dangerous -- even though huge and scary, I didn't want to kill it if it wasn't necessary -- but in the middle of the identification process, Alex freaked the f*ck out and squashed it.  He felt better afterwards.

We found another one in the TV room later that week.  I captured it again and kept Alex and his itchy spider-killing fingers far away from it.  Our workmen came the next morning.  One of them, Dan the Man, sat down with a spider identification chart and gave us the verdict: it was a Hobo Spider, one of the few venomous spiders we have in the Pacific Northwest.

We will likely never go in the TV room again.  A shame, really.  Good light in there.

Lucien attended a sports day camp recently.  One day, he opened his lunch box and discovered a maggot inside.  Turns out the strawberries I threw into his lunch weren't so fresh.  He showed the strawberries and the maggot to every counselor at camp.  When I came to pick him up, they most definitely did NOT hoist me up onto their shoulders and chant, "Mother of the Year! Mother of the Year!" for many hours.  Thank God the day camp is over and I never have to see those people again.

The workmen have recently ripped apart the front of our house.  This has happened not a moment too soon because it's revealed our impressive front entry is built on a house of cards -- or, more accurately, loose piles of rotten wood.  It's a Labor Day miracle our entryway is still standing.

While tearing apart the front porch and balcony, the workmen discovered many wild things up in the ceiling, all of them dead, all of which they saved for Lucien to examine.  This is our best specimen so far --

I'm a dead bird.

In keeping with the Wild Kingdom theme, here's Lucien wearing a purple snakeskin jacket he found at Seattle Mom and Dad's house.  We all decided it was appropriate for Lucien to be wearing such a thing but I'm not sure what any of us meant by that --

Here's Coco, who has taken to standing on coffee can "stages" and singing into marker "microphones."  She's also got some signature moves, one of which, thanks to her big brother, is smacking her own butt and howling like a wolf.  Just really fantastic stuff happening there.

This is what Contractor God found when he removed some stucco and wire mesh block things that were messing up the look of the front of my house --

The thing tethered to the house with an orange strap is an 18-foot high fiberglass column that weighs approximately 600 pounds.  It was perched upon some random pieces of wood under the mesh block thing, most of which were rotten, all of which moved when I pushed on them.

You're lucky we got you, Banister Abbey.  Without us, you would have fallen to the ground in the very near future.  All you passersby are lucky we got the house, too, because when the columns went down, they would have taken a few of you with them.

Have a good Labor Day weekend, friends.  We're having a party.  Here's hoping it's fun.  We will dare the children to play a game of "chicken" in which they will take turns running up to the dangling columns and pushing on them. 

May the fastest kid win!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Silhouette Warriors?

Here's an ode to summer crowds.  I've been involved in a few lately.  I like crowds because of all the rubbing up against people you don't know.

First there was the KEXP Concert at the Mural, which involved emo indie bands playing the Mural Stage under the Space Needle.  Also, hipsters wearing fedoras.

Then there were the Blue Angels at the beach.  Now that the weather's finally gotten blasted hot around here, our beaches are full of pale human beings blinking at the sun.  I love the smell of Coppertone on a hot day even though I don't apply it often enough and get sunburned.

Crowded beach, sand in our sandwiches, lost toy shovel.  Worth it to see aerial magicians.

An ode to the Artist Formerly Known as Prince? 

Lucien has logged onto the math program used by his school a few times this summer.  I noticed recently the icon he uses for his login.  While others in his class have chosen more "traditional" representations of themselves, Lucien has gone a different direction --

Lucien's the one in the middle

I'm not one to stress about traditional gender roles and whatnot -- hell, I act like a horny old man most of the time and a small baby of unspecified gender the rest of the time -- so it didn't bother me Lucien chose a girl icon.  It did interest me, however, that it didn't bother Lucien, and that apparently no one gave him any grief for it.

(Which made me wonder -- at what age do kids get all, "You throw like a girl!?"  Perhaps we're still too young for that nonsense.  If I hear Lucien or any other child say something along those lines, I'm going to say, "That's a dumb thing to say because I'm a girl and look what I can do," and then *whooooooooosh* I'm going to throw a ball around planet Earth.) 

Back to my point.  I asked Lucien, "Why did you choose this girl as your icon?"  I steeled myself for his response -- if the boy told me that he, in fact, identified as a girl, I was going to wrap him in a huge hug and yell, "I LOVE YOU, MY DAUGHTER!" because I'm supportive like that.  Instead, Lucien looked at me like I was one dim bulb and said, "Mom, she has PURPLE HAIR"  and walked away in slight disgust, totally bummed his mom couldn't recognize awesomeness when she saw it.

If you think this is a photo of Lucien pointing and yelling, "BUTT!" you are correct.

Another crowd-infused night involved the block party over on The Street of Dreams.  Even though we didn't get The Goddamn House and don't live there, The Street of Dreams still treats us as one of their own and invites us to all "family" functions.

The block party was a kid-friendly affair but I attended without my kids.  I was coming off ten days solo during Alex's most recent trip to Japan and China and I really, really, really, really, really, really needed a break.  I wanted to drink from the neighborhood keg without worrying how gravely injured my children were in the bouncy house.

I rode Lucien's scooter to the block party because I was running late.  I saw the scooter leaning against the wall and thought "Perfect!  Marginally faster than walking!"  The babysitter asked, "Are you really going to ride a scooter to your party?" and I said "Yes" and scooted off down the street.  I could hear her laughter all the way to the corner.

It was a treacherous journey because scootering on hills is hard.  I fell down a few times so walked the scooter for a bit.  The terrain flattened again at the Street of Dreams so I hopped back on, just in time for Contractor God to walk out of his house, see me and say, "My God, you're a delinquent."

Feel the love on The Street of Dreams!

The Block Party was an evening of debauchery, as family-oriented block parties tend to be.   It went very late, and while I myself did not get drunk, I saw many of my comrades fall to the drinking sickness worse than they've ever fallen before.

It seemed a great idea to invite the Seattle Police Department to come meet the kids and hand out SPD stickers, but less so when our friend's inebriated wife put the stickers on her boobies and proceeded to talk to the officers three inches from their faces.  There was much hissing back and forth between the rest of us, "Oh my God, somebody make her stop."

As I took this picture of SPD Boobs, Seattle Mom yelled "It's OK, she cuts off faces!" and pointed at me.  Seattle Mom had only wanted to let SPD Boobs know she would be anonymous on my blog but SPD Boobs knew nothing of my blog so the comment confused and frightened her.  Without context, that quote is quite jarring.  SPD Boobs didn't spend much time with me after that.

Seattle Mom and I went to another Concert at the Mural last night.  The bands playing were old Seattle grunge bands so the crowd was decidedly older and grungier than last time we went.  In fact, Seattle Mom and I, in our sundresses and semi-made-up faces, were the only ones who seemed to put any effort into appearances whatsoever.  We stood out so much, I told her, "My God, we look like prostitutes."  Many prostitution jokes followed because everyone knows prostitution is hilarious.

This is the tent at the beer garden.  It says, "The tint is pitched and yes, we're happy to see you."  They must have been talking to us because we're the only women who looked like women there.

This was a guy changing his shirt in front of us.  I never saw him from the front.  Can someone tell me what that strap is?  I got nothing --

We stopped by German Seattle Mom and Dad's place on The Street of Dreams after the concert because the party never stops at their house.  We had a contest while sitting on their front steps; it was called "what would you name your band?"  Supermodel Neighbor had a contender with "Silhouette Panties" but German Seattle Dad brought home the win with "Buttermilk Warriors."

My mom and dad came to visit last week.  They didn't stay long, just a quick trip "to see the grandkids and the house."  Umm... hello?  I expected to be replaced in their hearts by my kids, but not my house.  It stings a little.

my people

My Dad and I went to get some barbecue at a C.D. barbecue joint where a man named Pookie makes the best pulled pork and brisket.  Pookie chatted with us a little bit then said to me, "I don't always tell people they're blessed because it's not always true, but YOU.... you are truly blessed."

He said this because he couldn't think of anyone in his life who could say they still had both parents, both in good health, both pretty damn great and still married coming up on 50 years.

Aside from their good health and good marriage, it's true, I'm blessed to have my parents.  I hit the parent jackpot even though they sometimes do questionable things such as fight with my son over a ridiculous monkey game that involves something called "a banana pile" (My Dad insists he won his banana pile fair and square but others aren't so sure).

So tell me, posse, what's YOUR band name?

Friday, August 3, 2012

The best stripper in the world

With a house under renovation, another house needing to be shown and rented, two kids on summer vacation and a husband once again off in -- hey, where the hell is Al again? (Japan and China this time) -- the blog is getting neglected.

It may leave me.  I'm convinced one day I'll log on and it will be gone, leaving only a sad "Dear MJ" letter behind.  It will tell me it needs to find a writer who isn't so caught up in their "life" and I'll understand.  But if it tells me we'll always have Paris, I'm going to roll my eyes because hello, cliché. 

The renovation work continues on Banister Abbey.  Much of the impressive front facade has, until recently, been covered in disgusting aluminum.  Contractor God got up on a very high, very wobbly ladder with a couple broken rungs (Contractor God lives dangerously) and started pulling the stuff off.  We couldn't believe what was underneath: dentils and corbels and a whole bunch of other words I only just recently learned.

It's like the house comes up with a new way every day to tell us it loves us.

Contractor "Danger" God did a lead paint test on all that peeling paint up there and, of course, it's full of the good stuff.  By "good stuff" I mean "the stuff that can kill my kids if they ingest it," so I guess it's really not good at all.  I excel at misnomers.

The front of the house now has to be tented and the lead paint removed in a specific way, likely with a monocle and a pair of tweezers, before we can continue with the restoration.  I will take pictures of the house burka once it has been donned.

In the meantime, I've moved indoors and have started making rooms look like this --

It's not finished but I think you can see the direction...
...I'm taking this sh*t straight to Crazytown.

Supermodel Neighbor is a carpenter (another misnomer thanks to me -- he's more carpenter than model these days) and came over to remove all the original woodwork from the windows.  The woodwork is now being stripped of its decades of darkened shellac by another man we call "the best stripper in the world." I'm talking the "wood" kind of stripper, not the "sexy sad" kind, although I wouldn't mind seeing him in a g-string.

Stripped wood by the talented but not sexy stripper.  

This is some of our woodwork with sample stains.  Can you understand now why I don't have time to blog?  I have to stare at the stripper's wood!

This is the bathroom we recently gutted.  This is what it looked like two weeks ago --

Here it is now.  It's not finished but given the hellhole of chaos and despair it was just a couple weeks ago, I'd say we've made good progress --

The harlequin travertine floor gives even our most sure-footed of friends a serious case of vertigo.  They have to sit down immediately.  Luckily, the toilet is nearby and that's what they went in there to do anyway.

Seattle Mom and Dad invited us over for dinner Wednesday night.  Lucien wore his shoes without socks on the walk over.  By the time we arrived, he had blisters on both feet. The two Seattle daughters ran up to their rooms to each get Lucien a pair of socks.  They argued over whose socks he would wear.  Lucien, the greatest peacemaker in the world (HA!) solved the problem, and looked pretty snazzy to boot --

Later that evening, Seattle Mom saw Lucien grabbing himself and asked, "Lucien, do you have to go to the bathroom?"  Lucien shrugged and said, "Nope, I just like touching myself."

Aaaahhh, the honesty of youth.

I burned a layer of skin off the roof of my mouth on a very hot breakfast sandwich.  It hurt a lot and, even worse, made drinking coffee very difficult.  Both Contractor "Danger" God and Seattle Mom wandered into my house later to find me sipping coffee slowly and deliberately through a straw.

I explained to them my coffee delivery system -- I had to funnel the coffee directly into the side of my mouth to avoid the roof of my mouth.  It was the only way I could continue to consume my caffeinated beverage without excruciating pain.  Seattle Mom listened then said, "Whatever, you look ridiculous."

Aaaahhh, the honesty of friends.

Strip away, stripper,