Friday, March 30, 2018

Small Shiny Witch

I'm here giving the "short-n-sweet" blog post a try. This likely means I'll still be working on it two weeks from now and it will be the size of the Encyclopedia Britannica A-Z upon completion. I am what I am.

Lucien is nearing the end of an intense two week tiny home building seminar at school. The kids are building a tiny home and examining whether or not tiny homes are an effective part of the solution for homelessness. When they're not actively working on the tiny home, they're meeting with homeless shelter directors and handing out warm socks to the homeless on downtown streets. I love that he's engaged, interested, and thinking about big complex issues for which there are no easy answers. That's daily life as an adult, kid, might as well practice now.

What I haven't loved about these tiny home building weeks is Lucien's refusal to wear a jacket. Even on the coldest, rainiest days, The Loosh slips into his Converse sneakers, pulls on a thin-ish hoodie over his favorite jeans with giant holes in the knees and calls it good. It offends every shred of maternal instinct I possess. When I attempt to tackle him in the front hallway with a jacket -- "at least wear this, it's raining and you're building a tiny home outside, you fool!" -- he ducks and weaves away from that jacket as if it was made of vegetables.

It seemed a losing battle. Then I received an emailed picture of the tiny home building team from Lucien's teacher. I couldn't find Lucien at first but soon enough deduced he was the one wearing a garbage bag. His teacher, fed up with a cold and sopping wet Lucien day after day, cut arm holes in a garbage bag, made another hole for his head to poke through, and cut a second garbage bag into the shape of a pointy hat. The Loosh looked like a small shiny witch, or perhaps a glossy black Crayola crayon. All I could see of his person were his little eyes peeking out between the layers of garbage bag. His eyes did not appear to be smiling.

The very next morning, Lucien put on a jacket without being asked. And that's why we pay the big bucks for private school.

Moving on from kids to rats. We've got a rat problem in the basement. It's starting to feel like we will always have a rat problem in the basement because it's an issue that has followed us from house to house for years. Those rats can't get enough of us.

I've worked with a few teams of rodent specialists over the years and they all seem to share a few things in common. They sometimes trail off mid sentence to suddenly dive under your house. They often enthusiastically show you their old raccoon bites. And they get really excited about things not usually considered exciting, like rat poop.

The man I had here last week jumped around and clapped his hands and said, "I'm so excited, I found a bunch of poop!" I think he meant it in the context that he may have discovered a potential entry point into our basement but I don't know.... he seemed awfully happy about just the poop itself.

While I'm talking about being a little different... there's another collective group of folks that are also a little different: the audience at a George Clinton concert. A group of us went to see G.C. perform Saturday night because when presented with the opportunity, one should always go see George Clinton. He's a living legend, innovator of funk music with the P-Funk, always decked out in outlandish outfits and technicolor dreadlocks. He is so much cooler than I will ever be.

I see a lot of live music. It is one of my favorite things to do. I've seen all kinds of shows with all kinds of artists, so trust me as a source when I say no audience compares to the variety found in a George Clinton audience. The people are black and white and the entire rainbow of colors; they are very old and very young and every age in between. Some are drag queens, some are not. Some are dressed like Janis Joplin and some look more like Animal from the Muppets. Many seem lucid but many, many others are possibly still enjoying the hallucinogenics from the early 1970s P-Funk heyday.

The few common denominators between attendees resulted in a fascinating yet distracting experience. I think I spent more time looking around at all the different kinds of people standing around me than I did looking at George Clinton -- and he came out wearing some type of rams head headdress so was quite eye-catching. I didn't see George emerge onto the stage because I was too busy looking at the guy next to me thinking, "Damn, that dude is really rocking the Black Panther meets Willy Wonka look."

There is, however, one commonality between a George Clinton audience and any other audience -- and that is the large number of people being dicks and shoving past you to get closer to the stage. It's the similarity that unifies us all -- losing a touch of our humanity for a chance to get marginally closer to a famous person.

We're off for Spring Break next week. Spring Break isn't as crazy as adults as it was back when we were in college, but it is still highly likely Alex will do a keg stand and enter a wet t-shirt contest. The fact that we are skiing and not on a beach will not deter him in the slightest. Go, Al, go.

May we all get as excited about something this week,
as excited as that guy was about finding rat poop,

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


I have never heard the words, "I heard about it on NPR" as often as I have in the past few weeks. The all-knowing NPR is everywhere these days. Whether someone mentions Al-Shabaab or a new kind of designer cheese made from socks and quinoa, there's an NPR segment for that.

Besides contemplating the fact NPR could be God, we're ripping Banister Abbey apart again. It's fun to peel away the layers of an old house -- counting the layers of renovation in a house old as Banister Abbey is like counting the rings of a tree to determine how old it is. Judging from what we've seen recently, this house is two layers of plaster and three layers of flooring old.

This old house has come a long way since we moved in almost six years ago. I remember the first day we moved into the crumbly thing, how tiny our kids were and how big our plans were. I remember the way it used to smell -- musty and dampy woody with a touch of fried chicken. I remember the playlists I used to listen to as I scraped paint or stained hardwood. I remember living in holey jeans and sweatshirts for weeks on end and meeting the cast of characters of the neighborhood as I sanded numerous things in the front yard.

(And now I'm reminded of Angel and Dorita and my giant chip-n-dip. I haven't seen Angel and Dorita in years. I hope they're doing just fine and still cracking each other up somewhere.)

Life is once again loud and full of contractors. I've missed the mess. I've missed the design process, and the planning, and the running around town ordering of things. I've missed slightly less the contractors at the door early in the AM before I've tamed my bedhead, and the flat tires that happen when contractors drop nails in the driveway but we've gotta take the bad with the good.

The project this time is the master bathroom. Alex and I have never had a master bathroom. It's been six years of a roughed-in plywood shell. It's looked like this since the day we moved in --

And now, after a few weeks of progress, it looks like this! --

House progress is sometimes so slow it appears to be moving backwards.

Hey, did you know it's possible to spend an entire day looking at sconces? It starts innocently enough with a split second, "I have a minute now to look at some sconces" and then BAM, it's seven hours later, you have 243 tabs open on your laptop, your eyes are crossed, and yet somehow you still don't have any sconces.

While we're tearing things apart, we're also adding a tiny half bath to the third floor (no claustrophes shall pee in there, trust it) and laying some flooring in an unfinished attic space to make room for storage. There will eventually be an access point to the storage from the third floor but for now it's all up and down a ladder.

We sent The Loosh up that ladder into the attic and told him it was going to be his new bedroom. He legit looked nervous until our contractor couldn't keep his poker face anymore and started to laugh. Our softie contractor ruined our fun.

Coco and I took an entire Sunday for a mama/daughter day. Sometimes you just need some one-on-one with the Coco girl. Because she used to be this high and now she's this high.

Our mom/daughter date involved Mamma Mia at the 5th Avenue Theatre. Coco and I have seen the movie together dozens of times, it's one of our favorites, so don't worry, she was not even remotely bothered by the fact Sophie's dad could be any one of three delightful men. Coco is learning at an early age that a woman's sexuality is her own to do with as she pleases -- and that ABBA wrote tunes that infect your brain like a parasite.

At the end of the show, Donna and her friends come out for one final performance of ABBA's greatest hits. This is the time when the entire audience is supposed to jump up and start dancing. We were in the lame balcony and no one stood up so Coco and I took it upon ourselves to get the dancing started. I jumped up and Coco jumped up and we danced and motioned to everyone else to get up and dance and then everyone stood up and danced, hopefully because we were so inspiring but more likely because they couldn't see around us anymore.

The elderly couple sitting next to us, whom I thought were kind of annoyed by us, turned to me at the end of the show. The man touched my arm, motioned at Coco and said, "Your daughter is always going to remember you got up and danced with her like that." He was a little teary-eyed as he said he missed his daughter now she's all grown up with a family of her own in California. And that's how I ended up crying at Mamma Mia and hugging a stranger even while still humming "Waterloo."

(I just turned to Coco and said, "Hey, remember when we got up and danced at Mamma Mia?" and she looked confused and said, "Huh?" Oh well, so much for that.)

We joined some friends for skiing up at Sun Peaks, British Columbia for mid-winter break. We took the Winnie B, which was a big mistake. Sometimes we don't think quite right. If we had taken even five measly minutes to think it over -- SHOULD we take the RV across snowy mountain passes in sub zero weather and camp in a parking lot? -- I think we might have reached a different conclusion. Sometimes we just plow ahead, kind of blindly optimistic, and it's just so dumb.

Winnie B's windshield got a couple dings when semis flew past us and kicked up the gravel on the roads, and her water line froze, which is going to be a costly repair, and it was so cold up in Canada the propane couldn't kick on properly. We woke up at 4:00 a.m. that first night with outside temps approaching -20 degrees Fahrenheit and no heat source.

And yes, it's happened before, the too-cold-for-propane-to-work thing, but we apparently don't like to learn lessons. Alex and I stumbled over each other that night with no heat, looked at each other with wide eyes and just kept repeating, "This is so bad, this is so bad, this is SO BAD."

In moments like those, even though I am a middle aged woman, I feel like a child again. I'm like, "Why did anyone think it was a good idea to put me in charge of ANYTHING? Why am I responsible for LIVES of CHILDREN? This is just a bad idea, people."

We ended up ditching the Winnie B in a remote parking lot and getting a hotel room.

This is where we left her.
It was such a bad idea.

The good news is that even though temps never got higher than 0 degrees Fahrenheit, so stupid cold as to be laughable, the skiing was gorgeous. We took lots of breaks inside and drank lots of coffee and hot chocolate and even though we sometimes couldn't feel our fingers, we loved the place. We're going back someday when it's warmer. Like, a lot warmer.

So cold. So. Cold.

But look at how pretty it is. You are forgiven, Sun Peaks, a million times, you are forgiven --

And to the blog commenter who recently told me to get on with it already, take this here blog off life support by posting shorter posts more frequently, THANK YOU. You hit the nail on the head with needing to take the pressure off myself. I go so long between blog posts now, I get overwhelmed when I think about writing one. There's just too much ground to cover so the result is inaction, then feeling guilty, then rolling up into a ball and grieving my sweet little blog. I don't want my blog to die. We've been through so much together.

I'm going to resurrect this sucker. Writing more frequently but shorter, that's the way back to blog mojo. I heard about it on NPR a couple weeks ago so it must be true.

Seattle Moxie Forever!