Sunday, September 11, 2011

Acting


My mother and I spent yesterday shopping for the oh-so-dreaded (voice becomes low and echo-ey) INTERVIEW DRESS. Oh, how I have trembled merely thinking about the INTERVIEW DRESS - probably because I understood what comes along with it: pantyhose, high heels and makeup. When was the last time I wore pantyhose? For a play perhaps? Somewhere around twenty years ago, maybe? High heels? Never. I don't know how to walk in them at all. I wobble. I stumble. I look like a five-year-old playing dress-up. And makeup...! I haven't painted my face in fifteen years, and I've sort of forgotten how. (You Tube, here I come.)

However, we managed to find a dress that looks (if I do say so, myself) quite good on me. We found several, in fact. Still, though, it's going to feel a bit like I'm playing a role. A bit like I'm pretending to be someone I'm most certainly not. We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Carrying the Commonplace


The heat has broken. We went from 110 degree temperatures to 85 degree temperatures overnight. Before, the heat felt aggressive, angry. It banged against windows and roared around the house trying to get in. Now, it seems, we can all breathe again. We've cooled down. We're all a bit saner now.

Moving in the heat was an abysmal challenge. With the help of my brother, we were two adults with difficult health conditions (one of which is exacerbated by heat) and one thirteen-year-old boy. My husband had already packed his few things and left us to deal with a house bulging with the objects that come along with an American life. And all the accumulations that go hand in hand with a family thrift shop obsession. And too many hobbies. And unschooling (my goodness, yes - unschooling). And.... It was a monumental task in that heat. It was almost frightening.

The first day we worked 18 hours. All three of us. We spent time bolstering each other, pushing and prodding. We carried out boxes and furniture like ants and snapped at each other like alligators. We downed Gatorade (yikes - really?). We poured water over ourselves. We sat in the car and soaked up the air conditioning a time or two. We managed.

And, eventually, we made it through. Another 8 or 10 hours the next day, sans kiddo, and all was finished. The accoutrements of this modern life sat in storage, the stacks of boxes like lumbering giants at the back of the space, the front filled with all those unwieldy things that just would not fit into colorful crates or cardboard.

Sigh....

We will see those things again, but not for some time. We took with us the things to create a makeshift life here in this dry, windy (but no longer quite so hot) town: decorations for the walls, a full bookcase, lots of comfy bedding, all my antique photographs, board games - things that would help a thirteen-year-old boy feel a little more at home (in addition to his computer, his drawing stuff, his DS video games...), things to create a sense of normalcy. This little bedroom I've set up for us is a small recreation of the house we left.

And some mornings - like this one - neither of us wants to leave it. :o)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Lingering


My ex-husband is diabetic. Over the past decade or so, he's had to contend with extremely high blood pressure, diabetic retinopathy (and subsequent laser surgeries), depression, and diabetic neuropathy (no doubt the worst of his symptoms - he once stepped straight onto a nail and didn't notice until six hours later). 

Several years ago, he decided to try Dr. Neal Barnard's Reversing Diabetes program, a vegan, low-fat, no extra oils diet. Almost immediately, he dropped his extra weight and began feeling better. His blood sugar levels normalized. His blood pressure dropped. The phantom pains that surged through his feet weakened. 

He began enjoying life again.

Around the same time, I finally decided to lose the extra weight I was lugging around. There were several reasons I became a vegan. I had been a vegetarian (for moral reasons) for nearly 20 years and had always wanted to become a vegan (fear of strange foods held me back), I had recently been diagnosed with MS, and I didn't like the way my body felt 100 pounds overweight. So, I moved to a gentler way of eating. It stuck. I've been vegan ever since.

My ex-husband, however, eventually went back to eating high-fat, calorie-dense foods, sometimes vegetarian, sometimes not. And, not surprisingly, the weight came back. His symptoms reappeared. Some worsened. I made it my life's mission to help him get healthier again. I stocked the refrigerator with fruits and veggies - and nothing much else. Again and again I would walk into a huge grocery store, pick out my produce, pay and leave, never having ventured into the rest of the cavernous shop.


Instead, he ate fast food on the way home from work.

Still, I tried. I cooked lentil soups and bean stews. I made green smoothies in the Vita-Mix. I bought his favorite fruits - mangoes and pineapples. I rearranged the fridge so that the produce looked more inviting.

He brought Pringles and pizza home after hanging out with his friends.

And yet, something in me told me that I was his only path to health. If I didn't stay with him, he would die. Hi there, ego.

When it finally came time to leave, the act was complicated by visions of my (ex) husband surrounded by Whataburger wrappers and soda bottles, his feet amputated. Would this be the ultimate result of our separation?

Maybe. Maybe not. But it's his body. His decision. His life. The guilt I feel will, eventually, dissipate. I'm sure of it. Still, though, right now, it feels a bit like I'm killing him. Slowly.

We've ripped the threads that stitched us together for so long, but the creases still remain.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

This Current Nap


We are here and settled in. The boxes are unpacked, the map is spread out on the counter top, and we're beginning to feel at home. My son shares a room with me. Right now, he is splayed across his futon, his face unusually serene, dreaming of something that is, no doubt, less stressful for him than these last few weeks have been.

My little one has left his father and his friends. He's left his home of seven years. He's left all the places he knows so well. He's left the familiarity and comfort of all of that.

I've watched him drift, over these past few days, further and further out, and I've had to pull, gently, just a few times on his rope. This morning was one of those times, and he has undertaken this current nap in defiance. If he can't be online with his Internet friends, then he'll just sleep. And that's okay with me. Thirteen-year-olds need all the sleep they can get.

And when he wakes, we'll have green smoothies. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Last Day


A bowl of fruit. A cup of coffee. Today began slowly.

Brushing the cat. Watching the dogs as they stretch in the morning sun. Shielding my barely-open eyes from said sun.

And clashing - just a little bit - with my brother who woke up a few minutes after I did. When he walked in, I was thinking of a woman who used to peer, unflinching, at every customer who walked into her shop. And I was feeling her eyes on me, even though I was 300 miles and more than 15 years away. He couldn't understand my agitation. Nor could I, but there it was, that ferocious show-off.

But, I'm moving back to my hometown, and I'll surely enter that shop once again. So, I was worrying. Of course, it did me no good, but it was just what happened in that moment. I started thinking about having to enter the shop, I remembered the woman, and since my brain tends toward endless looping, I was stuck. Worrying.

Likely, that woman has retired (or died). Likely, I'll never encounter her again. But if I did? What then? She'd watch me as I wandered through her store? Oh, how awful!

Brother and I took some time apart to get back in-sync. It happens every once in a while. And it's just about to start happening more often.

My husband left a few weeks ago (on our 15th anniversary), and I am moving into a two-bedroom house with my father, brother, 13-year-old son, 4 dogs and 3 cats. It's going to be quite the adventure. Today is my last day in the big city before I move on to my smaller hometown.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Fur-Covered Friends

Just a few pictures I found of some of our pets. One of our cats (Ezzy - so named because her back reminds me of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, but I couldn't bring myself to call her Quasi, so Ezzy (after Esmerelda) it became) isn't included. I'm not sure where the photos of her went.























This is Hep. She's named for Audrey Hepburn because she's small and cute and black & white.


















This is Blackie. She's Hep's daughter.


















Oscar (dog) and Incredible (cat) sharing a bed. Incredible died a few years ago. He was both FeLV and FIV positive. Given only a maximum of two years to live when we found him, he was with us for six. I really miss him.
















Alaska looking pensive (or guilty - he has a habit of chewing up hardcover books).


















Harold curled on the bed with the giant bone.
















Harold's sister Maude. She lives with my brother now, but she and Harold get together for playdates. They're definitely a bonded pair.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Calm

Life has slowed down quite a lot, and I'm happier than a junebug in a hall of mirrors. Okay, bad simile. I'm a lot calmer than a junebug. But that's just the point. I'm calm. I can breathe. I don't feel caught in a whirlwind of activity and guilt. Or inactivity and guilt.

I've kept the weight off (with surprisingly little effort - being vegan has so many advantages), and I feel good. Now, if we could only afford produce. Organic produce. (I'm missing my green smoothies.) At the moment, we're subsisting on beans and brown rice, with the occasional whole wheat spaghetti night to break the monotony. Just waiting for the coffeehouse loan, and everything will be cushty.

I don't feel overwhelmed by the number of animals living with us. Right now, it's six - three dogs and three cats. In the past I've taken care of sick animals as well, and it was just a bit too much. At the moment (knock on wood), all are healthy and happy. I've also started feeding and housing birds in the backyard. I've been watching a family of cardinals for months, and I'm just intrigued. I could easily see myself falling into birdwatching. I've skirted around the edge for several years - ever since K and I spotted that crested caracara just north of San Antonio.

My home is clean and (mostly) orderly, and it's been this way for many months, now. I love to tidy my bedroom, so it tends to stay clean. It's a beautiful spot, filled with lace and stones and fallen leaves and old photographs of people I've never met but know oh so well. It's easy for me to keep a beautiful spot clean, but I'll pat myself on the back for a while, nonetheless. The kitchen, however, has been more of a bother. So, I took a page from Flylady (!) and focused a bit on the sink. It's an old stainless steel thing, all scratched and marred, but keeping it wiped clean has been surprisingly helpful. It's like a small, shining beacon in my little galley kitchen, and it encourages me to continue washing things, even when I've finished the sink. I'll move on to the counters, the stove, the top of the fridge, the cabinets, the floor.... And, as goes the kitchen, so goes the rest of the house. The living room sparkles (or would, if I'd dust just a tad more often). The dining room/office is orderly and open. The bathroom is cute and inviting. I feel like I've finally gotten things under control, after so many years.

I enjoy a clean, calm, open house. Instead of thinking about everything that needs to be done, I can let my mind wander. I'm more creative in a clean space. I'm happier. That's not the way it is for T and K, however, and that's been a bit of a problem. I've been working with K, though, and he's almost finished with his room. He was so excited that he could see the floor; he must have mentioned that at least five times last night, cute kiddo. Cute kiddo who's almost thirteen. Wow.

He's decided he wants to watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show with me. I've forgotten most of the things one is supposed to yell or throw at the screen, but I'm sure there's a website or twenty that will spell it all out. It's been years since I've watched Rocky Horror, mostly because a good friend of mine who used to dress as Dr. Frankenfurter hasn't been here to watch with me. Of course, if there was any reason to watch it again, it would be watching it with K. How fun!

K loves my old movies, and there's very little that I own that I'd be uncomfortable watching with him (or that I know would make him feel uncomfortable). So, I often find him snuggled down in my bed watching a beloved movie like Peter's Friends or Harold and Maude or Tootsie. I'm stuck in the past with movies, I know. I prefer VHS to DVDs, and I have quite a large collection. Last night I was overjoyed to find a copy of Barefoot in the Park with Robert Redford and Jane Fonda for a quarter; I'd been looking for that one for the last few years. I like to watch movies at home where I can stop or rewind them at will. Still though, a dark theatre might be nice for a change. The last movie I remember seeing in a theatre was Last Chance Harvey with Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson a few years ago. I wonder if anything good is playing....

Off to work now, I suppose. Can't wait to give up this job and spend all my waking hours at my coffeeshop....

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Magic Mushroom

Well, it's been quite a while, and we've been going through lots of big changes on our little hill. I won't apologize for not writing or spend precious paragraphs categorizing the many reasons why. Simply put, I'm back, at least for this moment that is quietly slipping away.

I'm sitting beneath a lovely duvet I picked up cheap during the hot weeks of the summer. I just found a cover for it a few days ago - little lavender paisleys. (I was about to sew a couple of sheets together and have done with it.) I've never had a duvet before, mostly because the good ones are made of feathers, and I just couldn't (wouldn't) purchase one. However, this one was sitting unpretentiously in a Goodwill, sandwiched between a couple of terribly ugly polyester bedspreads, a $10 tag dangling from its side. I couldn't pass it up. And, I know my money is going to a good cause, rather than to murder birds. Win-win! I never knew before how warm and comfortable these sorts of blankets are. How did I live without one for so long? Next on the list - a duvet for K who loves snuggling down in his blankets.

So much has happened over this past year, I have no real idea where to begin. I guess I'll start with the big stuff. We're at the tip of a new adventure, standing at the top of a mountain with a snowball and a smile. We're applying for a business loan and dreaming of a coffeehouse. I finally finished the business plan a few weeks ago (!), and we're ready for the banks (!). T and I once owned a coffeehouse, though it was a ramshackle, glued-together affair. We opened it with my tax return of $1400 and the innocence to believe we could. It was housed in an old downtown hotel in Wichita Falls and was more popular than we ever could have dreamed. Now, we're dreaming bigger. Much bigger.

I want The Magic Mushroom Coffeehouse and Cafe to be the "Third Place" we've been searching for. I want K to spend his adolescent years in a bustling, friendly, everyone-knows-your-name sort of hippie hang-out. I do. At the old coffeehouse, when I was pregnant with K, I had dreams of bringing up a little one there, surrounded by people who cared for us and in the center of an ever-swirling whorl of activity. I think this sort of "Third Place" is almost a necessity for the unschooler. For many, their "Third Place" is also their home - filled with all sorts of folks at all hours. Not us. Almost no one visits us on Tangled Hill. This has never really bothered me, though, as I'm a fairly private girl, and I hate cleaning for company. Still, I think K has suffered a bit, and the coffeehouse should help with that in amazing way.

Also, the coffeehouse, by all accounts, should make reading our bank statements a bit more enjoyable. We've lived a simple, quiet life for a long time, now, and we've needed very little money to do so. We work to live, rather than the other way 'round. Still, money equals choices, at least to a degree, and there are a lot of choices that haven't been available to us. I have always wanted to learn to pot, and I'll be able to take classes. K is thinking about Aikido or theatre. Perhaps both. T mostly wants computer gadgets. And, we'll all be able to attend concerts, festivals, and what-have-yous. Yeah, I'm allowing myself to dream a bit.

I have so much to say about the simplicity I wrapped around myself here, but it just doesn't seem to fit this post. I guess I'll save it for later - perhaps tonight. I'll pour a cup of hot tea, pull my sweet little duvet over me, turn on some Iron & Wine or Hem, and consider this past year.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Updates Galore

Lots of updates. I guess that's not overly surprising, since I haven't written in such a long time.

K and I have been über-sick for days, now. Swine flu? A cold? You know, the symptoms are eerily similar. We've got sore throats, coughs, stuffy/runny noses, aches, fatigue, fever, and headaches. Hmm.... I'm not an alarmist when it comes to illnesses, but I'm tired of checking off nearly everything on the list of swine flu symptoms. I'm so ready to be done with this one.

We've started a strawberry cyser. Strawberries were cheap, so we decided it was high time we made something with them. It's gorgeous. The color is this amazing red, and the combination of apples, honey and strawberries smells bewitching. Of course, it will be another year to a year-and-a-half before we can drink it. Still, it's lovely to watch it bubble in the carboy.

We're getting ready to be backyard beekeepers. We use so much honey in mead making. Of course, we use it for tons of other things, as well - cooking, home remedies, facial cleanser, etc. Once we harvest our first honey, I plan to use it in soap making, as well, and to use the wax for balms and candles. I think the biggest hurdle will be in getting support from the neighbors. People have lots of fears when it comes to flying, stinging insects, even docile honey bees. If we do get everyone's okay, we figure we'll gather equipment over the next eleven months, read like crazy, and become bee parents around April of next year. I can't wait!

I was perusing Craigslist this evening and found six good-quality bookcases and a set of outdoor furniture for free. It took two trips in our sedan (T is a master at tying things down - we once furnished an entire 4500 (yes, 4500) sq. ft. coffeehouse using only a 1967 bug), but we've got it all home. T has put all the bookcases in the garage. He's been looking for bookcases for such a long time, and I'm so happy I could find some for him. He was busily setting up his books all evening. I think that brings his bookcase count up to nine. I just counted mine and K's, and we have ten between us. That's nineteen bookcases. We're a veritable library!

T has switched to veganism again. I'm hoping it's permanent this time. He goes back and forth from occasional meat eating to vegetarianism to veganism and back again. The last time he was vegan for any amount of time, he lost a good amount of weight, got his diabetes under control, and lowered his blood pressure and cholesterol. Yay veganism!

The other night, K and I watched a fabulous documentary, Consuming Kids. I read Susan Linn's book Consuming Kids a year ago and had no idea there would eventually be a movie based on it. It's one of those books you read that changes your perspective just enough to tilt you off balance for a while. I love books like that. I think, if I hadn't read the book first, the movie would serve the same purpose, at least to an extent. It doesn't go as in-depth as the book (of course), but it does grab you and shake you up a bit. After we watched the movie (at the address I linked to above), we stayed up late into the night (yay unschooling!) talking about marketing - why it's done, how it's evolved, how it's shaped our culture, and the effects it's had on children and on childhood. He absolutely loves movies like this. It amazes me. He just seems to sense when I'm watching something with a cultural or political slant and comes running (this is a child who adores Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow and who gets all excited when Frontline comes on PBS - go figure).

My first garden is coming along beautifully. When I was pushing seeds into the earth, I told myself, "Hopefully, at least one or two veggies will come up." Well, eveything has come up. Now, I'm going to have to learn how to thin the plants!

The book I'm working on is coming along, slowly but surely. I'm nearly done with the outlines, and I'm about to start writing the actual content. I just hope there are people out there who want to read what I have to say!

Okay, enough updates. I'll try to post more regularly (try being the operative word, here). Hope everyone is having a lovely spring!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Just in case anyone was wondering...

I'm tired of cleaning up after people who are perfectly capable of cleaning up after themselves. That is all.

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