Friday, September 25, 2009

Er, See Last Week's Post

Still too busy to think, let alone write anything. In the last 7 days I have logged 79.5 hours on the clock (for my "part-time" job...). Jeez, before taxes, that's almost enough for rent.


And more to do. I hope to emerge soon.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Loving My Job

Way behind on everything, from friendships to laundry, because we are full tilt toward getting the shop opened. After the plumbing fiasco last week, we're on track for opening this Monday, the 21st. I'd say "come hell or high water," but we've seen both, and I don't want to tempt the fates.

The chickens hate me, the kids are getting concerned about that horrid smell wafting from the kitchen, and I am way behind on my own publishing schedule for Eat Your Words. But working does feel really good, and I forgot the rush of being so busy you can't think straight. I have been feeling so swamped I'm wired--without coffee!

Will get back to blog when I can. Meanwhile, thanks for the support. Come down and see us Monday! I'd post the web site but it's not finished yet... ha ha. Here's the old-fashioned address: 3207 California Ave SW, West Seattle.

P.S. Maybe I mentioned it, maybe I forgot. This craziness is due to the fact that I agreed to be the Swinery's business manager. For at least awhile.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Rags to Riches

I love going to Value Village and getting a great deal on used clothing. I love the idea of thrift shopping and reuse, knowing that I'm not directly paying for my clothes to be made by child laborers. I love the cool stuff I can find at the thrift store and the ability to try out different styles and learn something about what works for me, fashion-wise, for just a couple bucks.

But I hate thrift-store shopping with two small children, and when I have to go there because the kids have outgrown their shoes and we don't have any money, it gives me that lame feeling of being poor. I remember that feeling from being a kid, hanging from the railing at the checkout stand--or from the ceiling, more likely--while my mom paid for our groceries with food stamps. I remember learning at a young age what it meant to "pawn" something. It's a lousy feeling.

I felt that today as I left Value Village, one huge bulging shopping bag in my right hand while I held Jezebel with that arm and held Rhone's wrist with the other hand, marching grimly across the parking lot.

The feeling lingered in Costco, where I had only $110 (in cash) to spend and no more. Going through the store with both kids in the cart, I carefully added the cost of everything I was buying, including the $20 box of wine. The box contains 5.3 bottles, it says, so this makes wine cheaper than beer to drink; maybe I can start getting rid of this gut. (Yes, yes. I realize that teetotaling altogether would be cheaper and lower in calories. Have you seen my life? And no, I do not want to discuss whether that comment indicates any form of dependence whatsoever. I'm not defensive about this in the slightest. Really!)

I left Costco feeling good about what I'd purchased on my budget. (I love to look at other people's purchases and guess about their lifestyle. I admit I'm a bit catty. Well, perhaps more than a bit.) But in the car heading back up the freeway--we were heading home from our first Thursday visit to Olympia of the school year--I needed something beautiful. I didn't identify this need until I turned the radio on and got a Beethoven symphony, but suddenly that did it for me, and I was able to mentally match up the need that music filled with the hole eaten away at Value Village. How wonderful that we can turn on the radio and find the beauty that's floating unseen across the airwaves, through buildings and bodies and trees and hills.

So I'd recovered from my poor-white-trash funk before we got on the ferry. I'd promised the kids a snack on the boat and we went upstairs with some of our Costco bounty, and suddenly I found myself feeling rich as we snapped into our rosemary croccatini and I broke open a small wheel of brie with my hands. I doled out "cheese and crackers" for about ten minutes and the kids wolfed it down with much smacking of lips and appreciation. Outside, the sun shone brightly, Mt. Rainier stood like a silent god in a white-feathered cape, and the water sparkled sapphire. I thought, We may not be able to afford much right now, but damned if we don't appreciate what we have to the fullest.

There was one more definition on the spectrum of the afternoon. I took the kids up to the garden awhile ago because I'd seen lots of red tomatoes. Lately, having the kids in the garden is an exercise in self-restraint. Not theirs, unfortunately; mine. After a few minutes of their picking green tomatoes and stepping on plants I have to restrain myself from violence. It's been so stressful to take them in there that I've been neglecting the garden. (And, ok, I've also taken a job which has radically decreased my time for gardening, poetry, publishing, laundry, and dishes.)

But the stars were aligned today, it seems, or the light was slanting through the evergreens at just the right angle, or the wind was right. Whatever it was, the kids were mellow and restrained. When I asked Jezebel to stop picking green tomatoes, I got back a sing-songy "Okay." Rhone didn't pick anything without asking first, didn't break any branches, and even helped Jez through the thicker parts of the blueberry patch.

It went on. The raspberries are fruiting again--I've never heard of this--and I picked a quart of thumb-sized berries in five minutes. There are another variety of plums on the tree, and they're ripe now; sweet like candy and falling off the tree into my hand. There's a second dwarf apple tree I never noticed before, and its fruit are as big as softballs. Blackberries are dangling right at eye level from the impenetrable woods right over the garden fence, perfect for picking. The red tomatoes are neither all ripe nor all rotten, so there will be more for at least another couple of weeks unless it freezes.

Walking back from the garden I held two grocery bags in my right hand and Jezebel's sticky, plummy fingers in my left, and felt really, really rich indeed.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I'm Sensitive / And I'd Like to Stay That Way

Wow. Forgot what it was like working and trying to raise two kids. Sheesh. Days thick with things/activity like pasta loaded with too much butter. Which is what I had for dinner. Goddamn venison pot roast seems to require approximately 9 hours more than I'd estimated. Still rubbery.

Rhone started first day of "homeschool" preschool @ neighbor's home today. Seemed to go well, Celina said he did great and was very attentive and responsive, but later today his attitude was shit. I seem to remember this from his other preschool. Worth it? Not sure yet.

Brian & Kian stopped by to play this afternoon. To the extent that one "stops in" when one's friend lives on an out-of-the-way island. I appreciate the effort. The boys don't play too well together, really, but it's important that they keep interacting, anyway. For both of them.

Worked more than I have since I retired today: at least 7 hours total. I used to think that sounded like a morning. Because it was. But that's just time I can legitimately charge to the business. Been up since 6:30, thinking about it constantly; where's the difference? Guess I'm used to being on salary. Think I need a higher hourly rate. Ha.

As you may have seen, took Noelani back to her dad's for the school year Sunday. Sucked. 'Nuff said.

BBQ at my brother's yesterday. Did I mention my little brother has bought a house? Ok, a condo. Do I own shit? Well, yes, lots of it! Do I own a house? No, never. Jealous? Of what--the "low-danger" lifestyle my brother himself says he leads, or the ownership, or the security, or the lack of kids, or the 48" computer monitor (his TV is bigger)? Um... not sure whether I care to and/or can answer that.

BBQ was great. Nice to see that my "little" brother's friends are aging just as I am. (Yes, I'm still feeling the sting of 37. I know I'll laugh at myself in just a few years, issue myself a "Fuck you" citation just as I did only a few days ago to my poor innocent childless friends, whatever. Still, it feels like another year of being neither Mary Shelley nor Melinda Gates.)

Also, very nice to see family at the BBQ. Haven't seen my dad in ages. Feel itch of guilt that he moved into a condo 8 blocks from my old place, then we lost that building in what now feels like a firestorm of assholes and assignations [my, that was poetic] and moved to a fucking island.

Also @ BBQ saw my aunt and her SO and my cousin, feels like the only place I ever see them is Costco. Well, because that's true. What's that say about me? [That's a Jewel song. My mind is clearly moving way faster than it should be.] Regardless, was nice to see them someplace with chairs.

Ok. Maxed out for words. Best news of day: As I type, fingertips of left hand sore from guitar strings. Backing up... got guitar for birthday. Ultra excited. Can finally [learn to] play Jewel songs around fire pit. And others. "And the leaves that are green / Turn to brown."

Monday, September 7, 2009

Last Sailing of Summer

draft 9/7/09

My daughter and I boarded
the ferry on foot and whiled
away the short

but so-long passage
with tic-tac-toe, using newly sharpened
Hello Kitty pencils from her snappy

new case, and discussion
of which teacher she hoped to have this year.
As the boat slowed we descended

and stood waiting on the tongue-
shaped rusty #2 end, arms
around each other, quietly,

in the post-storm breeze, until
"There's my Dad! HI DAD!!"
and the bump of the ferry's unknown

floating tons against the unmovable
creosote pilings, cars behind us rocking
on their springs. I walked her up the ramp

to the waiting other family,
kissed her firmly and told her to be
good. "Have a great first day

of school," and then paid the crotchety
old woman my single return fare.
Placed my feet carefully on the rain-

damp ramp back to the #2 end,
chin up and blinking briskly,
eyeing with envy the big red button

labeled "Tension Release Switch,"
for staff use only. All the return crossing
wanting to cry, I could not.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Falling Down on the Job

Last night as I was saying goodnight to Noelani, I said, "Honey, we only have two days left of the summertime before you switch back to dad's." My custody schedule has her with me most of the summer, and with him most of the school year, with once weekly plus every-other-weekend visitations by the other parent.

I drew her to me. "Noelani, could those two days please be days where I don't have to beg you or yell at you to do your chores?"

She looked up at me and nodded dutifully, but she looked like she wanted to cry. I thought I knew why, and smiled sympathetically. "Were you hoping I was going to say you didn't have to do any chores for the last two days?"

"No. I was hoping you were going to say you wanted to spend more time with me, not talk about chores."

The girl really knows how to drive a stake right through her mother's heart. She's gonna be quite a woman. I can just see her sucker-punching some boyfriend like that in a fight. Damn.

I replied honestly that I'd like to spend more time with her, too, but that the chore situation had me so upset that it was hard to want to. And it's true. She was quite good about chores at the beginning of the summer when we first assigned them, but since then it's gotten more and more difficult to get her to do them. On a good day I might have to remind her only 12-20 times for them to get done. On a bad day they never get all the way done. I get so tired of telling her, and reminding her, and dealing with her attitude.

I'm sure this is what she wants. Gabriel and several friends have told me they can see in her face when my back is turned that she is certainly capable of manipulating me. Now I wish we could do the whole summer over and I could lay down the law better, but I'm just learning how to do this. I feel disappointed in myself that I have been unable to create an environment with firm boundaries in which she did what was expected of her and we were both happy. At this point we're both unhappy, and I'm not sure how to fix it. But I know that setting boundaries is something she expects, even unconsciously, of me, and I didn't live up to it.