Thursday, October 16, 2014

baaaaad business

Our annual adults-only Banister Abbey Halloween party is happening in a week and a half.  The weeks leading up to this event are tense ones in our house, especially for the children.  Lucien and Coco come home from long days at school only to be confronted by objects like these:

The kids are also fed things like this for dinner while I stand over them and ask, "Do these look like bloody severed fingers to you?"

Why aren't you guys eating?

The kids have been awfully jumpy lately.

I hired a tarot card reader for this year's party.  It was the first time I'd interviewed a tarot card reader and I had no idea what to ask.  I figured my opening question should be, "Are you full of sh*t?" hoping the fakes and crackpots would then hang their heads in shame, shuffle their feet and mumble, "Dang, you got me."  It seemed as good a place to start as any.

I didn't end up asking that.  Instead, as I sipped my grande americano at my favorite Starbucks, I was treated to a fascinating history of the tarot and how it works for this gentleman in particular.  He seemed completely sane and passionate about his tarot work.  And bonus -- he can talk to trees!  That was welcome news; I've got an Alder out back that's been reclusive lately and I'd like to know what's bugging it.

In my search for Halloween party entertainment, I also talked to a numerologist who gave me a reading over the phone.  He pegged me, was right on the nose in his assessment of who I am as a person, yet I still don't believe in numerology.  It shouldn't have surprised him when I didn't hire him -- he had just told me five minutes earlier I was a born cynic and very difficult to sway.

In other news, this is what Lucien chose to wear for his school picture day --

the bowtie really takes it over the top

And I made a bowl-like object in my pottery class --

And Supermodel Neighbor has saved the day regarding the continuing work on Banister Abbey.  He may live in Portland now but he has heeded my long distance plea for help several times and remains my most loyal and unbroken contractor.  (I've broken several other contractors, you see, and have no idea where they've scampered off to because they're very good hiders.)

For weeks now my house has smelled like wood stain and bacon -- wood stain because Supermodel Neighbor and I have conditioned/dyed/stained/sealed several new doors and miles of new wood trim, and bacon because it's delicious.

Here's a couple before and afters to celebrate this fumey period in our lives.  The kitchen has always bothered me because everything is new.  The previous owner left no hint of the original character of the kitchen when he remodeled it.  So we decided to fake the character.  Thanks to Supermodel Neighbor's knowledge and his continued gentle redirection of MJ when she bought the wrong product (often), I learned brand new wood can instill old character when finished properly.



The previous owner also installed cheap hollow-core doors all over the place.  We are one-by-one taking those down and replacing them with five-panel fir doors, as the gods intended it to be in houses as old as Banister Abbey.



It's good to have loyal unbreakable friends in the carpentry business.

The Seahawks played last weekend.  It didn't end well.

Alex and I, for reasons we don't understand other than we're pretty random, ended up at an Ethiopian sports bar for the game.  We were the only non-Ethiopians in the place.  The air was thick with accents and the smell of Ethiopian food.  Al and I have never been the only white people in a bar before.  Nobody seemed to give much of a rip about the whiteness in their midst so we happily settled in for the long haul and ordered some of that Ethiopian spongy bread smothered in lamb and onions.

It's not what I would consider "bar food" but I'm not Ethiopian so what the hell do I know.

The game was abysmal and depressing but the company was good.  One man sitting next to us was such a fanatical Seahawks fan he could not sit still.  Whenever the Hawks eff'd up (often) he began pacing back and forth next to our table, wringing his hands and shouting, "That's just baaaad business!  That's just baaaaad business!"

Also, when the Seahawks challenged a catch made by the Cowboys -- it was obviously a legitimate catch and was a dumb thing to challenge -- the guy paced around waving his arms and  yelling, "Awwww no! That was a love-ly catch, a love-ly catch."

I now use both these phrases, much to Alex's delight, often and repetitively and loudly.

Al:   "MJ, I can't find my wallet."
MJ:  "That's just baaad business!  That's just baaad business!"

Al:   "MJ, can you help me lift this heavy cabinet that has fallen on me and crushed my spleen?"
MJ:   "That was a love-ly catch... a love-ly catch!"

Al:  "MJ, should we diversify our stock portfolio?"
MJ:  "That's just baaad business!  That's just baaad business!"
Al:  "Really?  Perhaps you're right.  Let's just keep all our money in that one stock."
MJ:  "Uh-oh."

I'm very busy, have to get back to curating my Halloween party playlist and perfecting bloody fingers and entrails and various other disgusting things nobody's going to eat because I am truly that good.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

All routine and no aquamarine

Sometimes I fall face first and stiff as a board onto the couch at the end of the day and wonder aloud, my voice muffled by our peanut butter cracker scented couch cushions, "but what did I DO today?" The days are full but I don't feel a whole lot of personal satisfaction at the end of them.  I mostly feel a bit "what?" with a sprinkle of "sh*t" and a pinch of "derp."

It's a little blurred and a little dull.  Lately it's all routine and no salk vaccine.

(I googled "words that rhyme with routine" in the hopes of finding an inspiring match.  I didn't find an inspiring match.  Instead I found words such as wide screen, propylene, slot machine and salk vaccine.  I'm going to run with it.)

I'm good at getting the daily checklist done.  I pay the bills on time, we rarely run out of clean underwear, I fill out ALL THE FORMS (when you have little kids there are billions of forms), and our fridge is cleared of rotten produce regularly (annually, but whatever). If the rental house has a busted dishwasher, I'm all over it.  If Oscar is due for his shots and/or flea medication, done and done. If Bobo hasn't pooped in two months yet again then -- KABLOWIE! -- it's time for another sh*t-inducing warm bath for everyone's favorite lizard.

None of this is particularly bad but none of it is particularly life-giving either.  I'm guessing most people feel this way about their daily lives.  It's a slog, man, the daily grind.  It's all routine and no arithmetic mean.

You've got to break free sometimes and do something radical, something insane.

I think you know where I'm going with this --

You've got to go nuts and learn how to throw pottery on a wheel

I've always wanted to learn how to throw pottery on a wheel.  The movie Ghost likely has something to do with this, though admittedly I would feel uncomfortable if some guy came up behind me while I was sitting in my class and started kissing my neck.  I would be more, "What the hell is wrong with you, guy?" than "Take me on this pottery wheel while I pretend you're Patrick Swayze."

Throwing clay on a wheel is hard.  To make matters more intimidating, there are many people in my class who have years of experience.  They sit down and touch the clay and beautiful things spring forth from their strong and capable hands.  I, however, touch the clay with the grace of a t-rex and usually spin it right off the wheel -- *thunk* -- into the chest of the unfortunate person sitting next to me.  I *dab dab* their shirt delicately with a wet rag and promise to work very hard on the centering step so it doesn't happen again.

There's one woman in the class who's a beginner like me.  We have thus gravitated towards each other and hunker down at neighboring wheels in the far corner.  We can be found back there either muttering a string of the foulest swear words you can imagine or laughing uncontrollably with tears streaming down our faces and flowing down our arms -- which is handy since one must keep one's hands wet when throwing on a wheel.

We're beginners in the far corner throwing wonky looking pottery made with our own tears.  There's something really great and appropriate about that.

My new friend's clay spun off her wheel last week and hit me in the side of the head and it was all downhill from there.  When she accidentally poked a hole right through the side of her wobbly vessel, she proclaimed, "Oh thank God, that's exactly what I wanted it to look like."  When my own jacked-up piece of work couldn't take it anymore and flopped over on itself, I put my arms up and announced, "I think it's obvious I have learned all there is to know here, I'm ready to teach!"

The teacher comes over to us often but there's little she can do to stem the insanity happening in our corner.  Last time she gave us some pointers and said, "It's so frustrating to learn this and I love that you guys are laughing and not giving up."  Then I said, "Well, at least we're not throwing things yet" and received a collective groan from the class.  It was my first public pun and my first collective groan and I feel good about that.

The kids crashed our date night last weekend.  Alex and I were set for a nice dinner at Salty's with a heart-swelling sunset view of downtown across the water.  Our time alone is rare these days and we had much to catch up on.  But then our babysitter didn't show.

After a brief deliberation, we decided to keep our reservation and expand it from 2 people to 4 people.

Hey kid, what are you doing on my date?

It ended up being a good decision.  It was a truly enjoyable family dinner at a nice restaurant and those are hard to come by.  Plus now I know what Coco looks like through a pink balloon --

So this little girl is turning 5 this weekend.  Here she is climbing her aunts' tree and marveling at her feat as only a kid can --

Damn, she's five already. When did that happen?  I often feel I'm missing a large chunk of my kids' childhoods because I've got my head down too much, stuck in the boggy details of daily living.  More often than not it's "Coco, I can't read you a book right now, I've got to get dinner started."  I hate that but in the moment it's fatigue and trying to check the boxes for the day so I can go to bed.

It's the ole paradox of parenting  -- the days last forever but the years go so fast.

I'm going to promise Coco this year will be different.  I WILL read that stupid book I'm sick of for the umpteenth time and feed everyone bologna sandwiches for dinner.  She's not going to stay young and cuddly and thinking I'm awesome for long so I better live it up.

It's all routine and no time machine,