Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cabin fever

I chaperoned the Valentines Day party that involved all three classes of the First Grade.  Call it insanity, but I truly enjoy my time with those kids.  I think it's their blinky eyes blinking up at me, and the way they all want to hold my hand, and the awkward toothy first-grader grins.

The party ran long.  There was no time for kids to sift through the pile of coats dumped outside the party because the buses were about to leave back at school. We had to run the three blocks from the party location to the school, without coats, GO! GO! GO! to catch those buses. I imagined the horrified expressions of parents at bus stops when Little Johnny disembarked in February without his coat, teeth chattering.

Loyal chaperone I am, I filled a box with all the coats and followed behind the sprinting masses, dragging it along the sidewalk until I couldn't feel my arms very well.  I dumped the coats onto the sidewalk in front of the buses and helped kids throw them on as they boarded.  Every kid left with a coat.

There will someday be a folk song written about me, the trusty chaperone who wouldn't let the kids go home cold, entitled, "Cold Kid, Warm Heart."

Alex and I went to see a play at Capitol Hill's Annex Theatre Friday night.  It was called "Undo" and took place in an alternate reality where, if you want a divorce, you must live your wedding in reverse.  All the same people must attend and wear the same clothes, the presents are given back, and in the case of the Jewish ceremony portrayed in this instance, the glass is glued back together.

The great thing about the Annex Theatre, and so many fringe theaters in Seattle, is there's a bar in the lobby and you can carry your drinks into the theater for the show.  The PBRs at the Annex Theatre bar are $2 and deliciously refreshing; the mixed drinks are crappy and expensive.  I think you know which way I'm leaning with this recommendation.

What transpired on the Annex Theatre stage was a beautiful piece of theatre.  Really, truly.  It had it all -- laughs, tears, and lesbians.  There was also some sad sex (you must do everything you did on your wedding day to make peace with God, even if it was f*cking on your dressing table).

The man sitting behind us said loudly at the intermission, "Watching things like this makes me realize how ridiculous human relationships are."  All of us within earshot murmured our agreement and bought another PBR.

Here's some advice if you see a play at the Annex -- at intermission, run for the bathroom.  Get there first no matter what.  Push those bitches to the ground and don't look back and here's the reason why: there are only two toilets, two single stalls.  And a fifteen minute intermission. And one hundred people in the theater all drinking beer.  Do the math then do what you must do *cracks knuckles*

Al and I and the kids went to a friend's cabin for the long weekend.  It was just us; the cabin is often empty and our friend has been telling us to use it for years.

We left for the cabin right after Lucien and Coco's swim lessons Saturday morning.  I love watching the group of boys in Lucien's class learn to swim.  They all have their own style: some wide-eyed and freaked out (Lucien), others goofy and trusting in the world (the one whose eyes are slightly glazed) and some who should never be allowed near a body of water (the one sinking like a stone).

Our friend's cabin is in the South Puget Sound area, on a peaceful little lake upon which no motors are allowed.  Paddle boats, kayaks and canoes are the vessels of choice.  The four of us climbed into a paddle boat and made it halfway around the lake before Coco started complaining her belly hurt. We figured out she was seasick when she turned light green.

In the middle of a lake on a space-challenged paddle boat, seasickness is serious business.  Alex and I pedaled as fast as we could back to the cabin but went nowhere thanks to the direction of the wind and Lucien's erratic handling of the rudder.  I imagined the other residents of the lake watching us with binoculars and laughing hard until they fell down.  Our predicament would have made me laugh, too, if I wasn't in such fear of a girl hurl.

We made it back to the dock without incident.  And now we know Coco prefers land.

Alex tried to teach Lucien how to canoe, which led to this, my current favorite photograph.  I call it "The Reluctant Canoe Lesson" --

Oscar the schnauzer came with us to the cabin.  It was immediately apparent our dog is not a majestic wild beast.  Our dog is a confused little old man who can't figure out where the hell he is so just curls up inside our suitcase full of towels and waits for it to be over.

I hate these people.  I want to go home.

The cabin's only source of heat was a wood stove.  It was a toasty warm, pleasantly wood-smokey scented existence until the middle of the night when the fire burned out and we awoke, so cold we didn't dare plan for the future.  I pushed Alex out of bed each morning with a frigid foot, yelling at the kids to stay snug in their bunk beds until Daddy built a fire.  Thankfully, Alex was once a successful boy scout and his fire-building skills are unmatched.

As cozy as they can be, what is is about cabins that makes them feel like they're constructed of cardboard and Saran Wrap?  And why all the wood paneling?  And why do they all smell the same, musty and woody with a hint of Grandma?

When a cabin is owned by a friend like ours, who offers it to friends and family on a regular basis, the bathroom is a mess of half-empty shampoo and conditioner bottles.  It's like a hundred hotels threw up on each other or, better yet, all the bottles are there competing for the right to wash your body.
 "Pick me, pick me"  

There was no internet or TV at the cabin so we were forced to unplug.  At first it was uncomfortable but then we started telling each other stories.  And cooking meals together.  And chopping wood together.  You should see Coco handle an ax, my God, a natural! 

We enjoyed "communicating" so much, we've added "buy a cabin" to our list of long-term goals.  We can't do it now, but maybe, hopefully, someday we will own our very own lake cottage with doilies for curtains and circa-1970s avocado green appliances.

Well isn't that just f*cking great news

Our return home was not glorious.  Lacking the desire to cook, I took Coco with me to the Taco Time drive-thru to grab dinner.  At the very moment I pulled up to order, Coco threw up in the back seat.  She was suddenly hot, miserable, and very, very ill.  

The Taco Time lady on the intercom asked for my order a couple times but apparently my words, "Hang on, baby, hang on" aimed over my shoulder into the back seat didn't make sense to her.  She said, "Excuse me?" a couple times until I said, "I'm not talking to you!"  

There was a long pause and then the Taco Time lady said, "'re not talking to me?"  And I yelled, "No, no not yet!" as I scrambled for paper towels in the backseat.  There was another pause and then she said, the way you would to someone who's obviously very dim, "Do you mean to be in the drive-thru, ma'am?"

Al and I hugged in the kitchen for awhile after I returned with my hard-fought Taco Time order.  Even though life never seems to slow down, at least that part was nice.

Your faithful chaperone forever,

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Coconut Balls

Have you ever had one of those periods in life when everything you touch, look at, or think about turns into a sh*tstorm?  Greetings from Sh*tstorm Alley.

This current sh*tstorm is so oppressive it's bordering on comical.  I roll out of bed in the morning and am immediately walloped by the myriad of problems I have to solve and relationships I need to repair.  And that's not including the houses; the first floor of the house in which we live is currently draped in plastic. Fear not -- it's for a large drywall project, not a disease outbreak.

The house looks exactly as it did the day before we moved in eight months ago.  Progress?

Before the downstairs was rendered inaccessible by plastic and dust and plaster, we had to identify all essential items from downstairs and shuttle them upstairs.  We decided on the dog food, the espresso machine, a toaster, a basket of scarves and a case of wine.  You discover what's truly important when you're forced to whittle down the contents of an entire floor.

It's pretty cramped, messy living up here on the upper floor.  We make our morning espresso in our bathroom.  It's convenient to have a coffee in your hand less than thirty seconds after rolling out of bed so maybe we'll keep it there.

I have set up a temporary "desk" on the floor of my bedroom which necessitates me sitting cross-legged for hours at a time.  When it's time to get the kids from school, I must drag myself out to my car using only my arms, my legs dragging uselessly behind me and making funny patterns in the sheetrock dust on my way out the door.  Mama's apparently too old for that cross-legged crap.

Al and I went to watch the Super Bowl with a handful of friends at a sports bar.  Nobody in our group cared much about either team (GO SEAHAWKS 4-EVER!)  but the bar patrons were overwhelmingly in favor of the Ravens.  So Alex, because he's a contrary sort, began cheering loudly and obnoxiously for the 49ers.  I don't know why that man has to nearly get me into a fistfight every time we leave the house.

It was a close game but the 49ers lost.  A man seated nearby, obviously chomping at the bit to kick Alex's ass all night, came over, threw his arm around Al's shoulders and yelled, "49ERS SUCK!" into his face.  Alex, once again his usual football-ambivalent self, just shrugged, smiled cheerfully and said, "Oh, I don't care, I'm from Canada!"

The Ravens guy looked pretty confused and disappointed by the response.  He just stared at Alex with furrowed brow, then dropped his arms to his sides and walked away.  It was awesome.

I was recently a chaperone for another first-grade field trip; this one lasted over five hours and involved walking downtown's International District with a large group of children. 

The teacher stuck me with a group of four crazy boys, one whose hand I had to hold because he's known for wandering off and/or kicking people.  Early on my group declared, "Lucien's mommy is an enchilada!" and spent much of the day trying to take bites out of my arms as I led them safely from one location to another.  I tried to defend myself, told them not to eat the chaperone, that it was one of the safety rules, but did they listen?  Not really.

At the Asian grocery store, my group took the words "don't touch the seafood" to mean "touch ALL of the seafood and by all means wipe your nose first." I heard myself saying things I've never said before such as,  "Drop that geoduck and step away from the tank."

Chaperone masochists

Speaking of boys, I think Seattle Mom's son looks like Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables when he plays dress-up with Coco.  Judge for yourself --

He dreamed a dream in times gone by

We went to a charity auction over the weekend, the same auction we went to last year at which Gumby made an appearance.  Alex must have been in the mood for coffee this year because he bid on every coffee item in the silent auction and unfortunately won them all. Our kitchen is currently inaccessible so twenty crates of coffee are now sitting on the landing at the top of our stairs.  They're in the way and I trip over them daily but oh, sweet heavenly aroma!

Say bye-bye to all your money, suckers

During the live auction, I bid on and won a belly dance lesson for eight.  It seemed a great idea at the time due to the influence of my good friend, wine.

A young man seated at the table next to us must have been even more tipsy than I was -- he bid nine hundred dollars for a puppy.  You could tell by his eyes he really wanted that puppy but as bidding went up and up, it looked like he was about to bow out.  Our table egged him on, took up a collection and threw some money at him.  It worked; we helped push that nice young man into buying a puppy for way too goddamn much money.

There's a good reason why the raffle tickets are dollar sign-shaped bling

At charity auctions, you learn an important life lesson -- you learn that true friendship is a friend screaming "BID! BID! BID!" in your face until they break you and you cry.

There was a priest seated at our table of friends, which hardly seemed a good idea.  He was a great guy and good sport, though, and managed to sit with us most of the evening without announcing we were all doomed and about to burst into flames. He finally stood and excused himself after our friend, Seattle Dad, put his hand inside a tasty dessert jar for the hundredth time and said seductively, "I can never get enough of these coconut balls..." 

Seattle Dad also posed with a pricey bottle of wine down his pants --

We are adults who act as children

I told Seattle Dad to enjoy his pricey bottle of wine.  He replied, "Oh believe me, I already have."

And finally, here's a picture of Alex's muscles --


Thanks for helping me forget the sh*tstorm for a minute, posse.