Wednesday, May 30, 2012

If It Feels Right ...

The last few days have reminded me how stressful buying a home can be.  Since last Friday afternoon my nerves have been tingling and in a nearly constant state of tension.  My heart has been pounding and my chest has been tight because waaaaaay before we thought it would happen we found the perfect retirement home and we are under contract. 
I am a person (so my daughters tell me) who thinks and considers and weighs all the pros and the cons about every decision I make – and then I think and consider some more.  I am not (so my daughters tell me) a person who looks at a house one time, wakes up the next morning and decides an offer must be made … now!  “What happened to ‘we have lots of time, we just want to see what’s out there but we won’t get serious for probably a year’? they said.”  “Who ARE you?  Where is our mom?” they said.  I’m not really sure what alien being has taken up residence in my body, but I do know this – sometimes you just know in your gut when a decision is right.  And even though my brain and body are exhausted from offers and counters and paperwork and texts and e-mails and realtors and bankers … I’m excited because this just feels right.  It feels the same as it did when I found THE wedding dress nearly 40 years ago.  When I saw it I just knew.  I don’t know how to relate it to men other than maybe it’s the same as when Dean laid eyes on my brother-in-law’s pellet grill for the first time, started drooling and hasn’t stopped talking about it since. 

I won’t have any photos of the house until after Thursday when we meet with the inspector to get his (hopefully) glowing report but I can tell you our dream retirement home is on one and a half acres, five miles from town.  There’s a nice deck off the back where you can sit and listen to the creek running alongside the property.  It has the large heated, insulated garage Dean dreamed of and there’s lots of space on the property for his “treasures”. 
When I told Abby we’d seen two deer on the property when we pulled up she asked if Jorge could come and shoot or hunt on “our” land.   Um, no.  Don’t think so.  Fishing in the creek might be an option but deer are in a shoot-free zone.  Her question did get me thinking about hunting though, and since I haven’t had a lot of time to blog recently – what with buying a house and being mentally and physically wiped out – I thought I would share a letter I’d written to my parents about 30 years ago (which my mom saved and labeled Cathy The Hunter) after a hunting experience Dean and I each had.  After re-reading it I decided it was probably just as well Abby got Jorge to the altar before he realized he was marrying into a family with limited no talent when it comes to hunting.

This was just after I cried and just before I pulled out the library book and held it up for Dean to refer to while gutting.


Saturday, May 12, 2012


It’s a given that most of us never get around to starting or finishing projects around the house until we find out we’re moving and need to sell our house.  And then once those projects are done we wonder why we hadn’t finished them a long time ago so WE could be the ones to enjoy them, not the people who buy our house.  Now that Leslie and Ryan have found themselves a part of that procrastinating group we all belong to, we have been spending a lot of our time the last couple of weeks helping them paint, tile, pack, clean and finish all those other little projects they knew they had years and years to complete because they were never going to move.


And, since we are also planning to move in a couple of years, when we haven’t been helping out at their house, we have been staining the woodwork we hadn’t managed to get around to for four and a half years ...

... because we were never going to move either. 

We’ve all been in pretty high gear for days but recently all of our engines have begun to misfire.  Our gears have been grinding and sometimes we can barely get from first gear to second.  It became obvious we needed to idle a bit.  So today Leslie and Ryan left to spend a night in Denver and enjoy a concert they’d gotten tickets for way before they knew their life would be crazy at this moment in time.  We are keeping the kids while they're gone because Ryan’s parents were busy and we couldn’t think fast enough to come up with a reason to get out of it.  Juuuuust kidding.  If it wasn’t for those kids I wouldn’t be entertaining you with this blog post.  I’d be sitting out on the deck … in my glider, drinking a gin and tonic … listening to the birds sing … waiting for Dean to feed me dinner.   Instead I’m at the computer, drinking a gin and tonic …waiting for three kids to fall asleep ... so I can too.

So……the kids arrived at 9:40 a.m. this morning all geared up in hiking boots, hats, jeans, long sleeves and carrying their special nature bags.  Off we went to the grocery store to buy our nutritious Lunchables and Crackerjacks.  As everyone was choosing between slimy fake turkey, oily cheese and crackers, or slimy fake beef, oily cheese and crackers or slimy fake ham, oily cheese and crackers, I realized  that I had forgotten to bring any washcloths so I went searching for some kind of hand wipes.  But since I never buy hand wipes, and we were in a store I don't normally shop in, I couldn’t find them.  I could have asked somebody but I just didn't feel like it so I decided we’d be fine just wiping our hands on our jeans.  We were going hiking and rock hunting after all.  We weren’t going to an afternoon tea at the Governor’s Mansion.  I had no idea what serious ramifications that seemingly innocent decision would wreak upon me a few short hours later.

Loaded with two small coolers filled with our nutritious lunches, two backpacks filled with extra jackets, water, sunscreen, camera, and water bottles, and three special nature bags, we headed out of town to our destination.  All went well.  We scrambled over rocks, 

discovered amazing fossils, 

helped speed up the natural process,

 and had an awesome lunch of slimy meat, oily cheese and Crackerjacks. 

Near the end of our adventure Myra got a panicked look in her eyes and said she had “to poop.”  I hadn’t factored pooping into my equation when I chose not to pursue searching out the wipes.  All I had was half a kleenex in my pocket.  Once Myra made sure it wasn’t “full of boogers” she accepted it.  I found her a place near a bush which was nice and flat, had no cactus in sight and left her.  “Be sure to bring the Kleenex back,” I said.  “We can’t leave it out here.”

When I got back to where Pierce was waiting he had the same panicked look in his eyes and I caught a whiff in the air that had definitely not come from the few wildflowers we’d seen blooming.   I took Pierce’s hand and we headed to another “bathroom.”  Myra handed off the half a kleenex to me as she headed back the other way.   As Pierce and I walked I was trying to remember how I’d done this with my own girls years and years ago.  Did I just brace them as they squatted or did I make a triangle of my arms with their little butts pointing through the opening?   I found another nice flat spot, cactus free, and I pulled down Pierce’s jeans and underwear, still not quite sure of my role in this pooping matter.  Then I looked down and realized the whiff had been much more than just a spurt of gas.  Think underwear filled with gooey wallpaper paste.  Only brown. That tiny square of already-used kleenex was not going to cut it.

Squatting was definitely not an option now.  I quickly made a triangle of my arms and lifted him up hoping to contain the thick paste globbed onto his cheeks.  I knew immediately that I needed reinforcements.  As I held him up, jeans and overflowing underwear bunched up around his ankles, brown butt pointing through the opening in my triangle arms, I yelled “I need help!  I need help!  I need help!”  Emerson came running.  “I need a plastic bag or a coat or a shirt or, or, or, anything!”  She opened the two backpacks and I saw coats and shirts flying.  One backpack held plastic bags but they were filled with the remnants of our oily cheese and slimy meat lunches.  I wasn’t really desperate enough (yet) to use a bright yellow shirt as toilet paper so I said, “tell Papa I need help!”  She yelled.  “Papa!  Nada needs help!  She needs help!”  In the meantime I looked down at the ground and discovered Pierce had been hard at work and on the ground was, well, more wallpaper paste.  As he was calmly propped in my triangle arms, tiny brown butt hovering over the ground, his pants leg dangling dangerously close to everything he’d eaten in the last 12 hours, I continued to yell for help, Emerson continued to yell for help, and Dean hollered back, “Nada can take care of it.”  (Later he told me I “didn’t sound desperate”)

I couldn’t let Pierce stand up because the “paste” would plop down his legs onto his pants.  I needed to get those pants and the overloaded underwear off but I couldn't get them off without taking off his hiking boots first and I couldn’t take off his hiking boots while he was nestled in my triangle arms.   Pierce was completely at ease but my arms were becoming tired and Dean was 50 yards away nonchalantly gathering the coolers and water bottles we’d left when we went exploring after lunch.  Finally Emerson convinced him my situation was becoming desperate and he arrived with two nearly full water bottles.   Dean carefully got Pierce’s boots, socks, jeans and underwear off, and then I tipped Pierce’s butt up as Dean began pouring water and I wiped the brown sticky paste from his little butt with my hand.   Yes.  My hand.  Because a few short hours earlier I hadn’t thought we would need wipes. 

So there we were; Pierce was in my triangle arms, tipped up so his little skinny butt was nearly facing the sky, Dean was pouring water on him, I was smearing the “paste” around and hopefully off of him, while girls and Pierce are all laughing.  At least we were in the middle of nowhere.  Two quarts of water later he was clean (enough) and we decided it was time to call it a day.  Other than Myra running into some cactus (which required some miniscule needle extractions), a tree branch (which resulted in a few tears), and a rock, (a few more tears), the walk back to the car was uneventful.  We stopped for ice cream on our way home and nobody even wrinkled their noses when we walked in to the shop. 

It was a day of learning.  The kids learned about rocks and fossils

 and what “going commando” means.   

 I learned never to go anywhere without hand wipes.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

It's Albert's Fault

I hate telephones.  I’ve hated them since I was nine or 10 years old and a little boy in my class decided he liked me.  He didn’t slug me in the shoulder but I knew he liked me.  I knew it because he would call me on the telephone after school.  I don’t remember what he said during those conversations but I remember I stammered out monosyllabic words as I stood squeezing the receiver in a sweaty hand wishing he would just hang up and never call again.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that for a shy, awkward little girl, those phone calls were torture.   Every time the phone would ring I would hold my breath and chant in my head, please don’t let it be for me, please don’t let it be for me.

Even now, years and years and years and years and years and years later, every time our telephone rings, I tense up.   How’s that for a Pavlov’s dog reaction?  My brain knows the odds are I won’t hear anything sad or distressing when I answer that insistent ring, but that doesn’t lessen my fear that I will.  I brace myself for the worst until I sense that the voice on the other end of the line is trauma-free.  They don’t call me the Queen of Worry for nothin’.  

Ryan and Leslie have had their own anxious telephone moments recently as they waited to see if they would be moving to the garden spot of Wyoming.  A couple of weeks ago their hoped for phone call finally came.  Ryan was offered a teaching position and his acceptance tipped the first of many dominos that comprise a move.  I had no idea how fast the course of our life would also change until we became one of the many toppling dominos.  Within minutes of hearing of their impending move we I decided we should retire to that very same garden spot. 

Now before you start shaking your heads and tsk tsk’ng – they asked us to move up there.  It was their idea. They looked us in the eye and said, “pleeeeeze, will you move with us?” And it wasn’t because of the sobbing and keening noises I was making.  Really.  I wouldn’t lie about a thing like that.  They just love us and want us to be near.  I don’t even think free babysitting figured into it.   It’s not like we’re moving right away anyway.  We still have 2 ½ years to work.  Okay, I have 2 ½ years to work but I’m sure Dean wouldn’t dream retiring before me just so he could live near his grandchildren.  

So see, there‘s plenty of time for them to change their minds and beg us to stay right where we are.  But they’d better do it quickly because once I make my mind up I’m the Countess of Control, waving my magic wand and knocking down dominos like no other.  Not the least of which was talking to a banker and discovering we not only could, but should, pay off our mortgage ― which we did on Tuesday … Ow!  Ow!  Ow!  Sorry. I got a bit dizzy spinning around on my toes and cracked my knee on the china buffet ...  which led to a market analysis on our house, which led to realizing we had a few projects we should probably finish begin working on so we’ll be ready when it’s time to sell our house.

That led to calls from contractors who will do the things we couldn’t do even if we weren’t slower than a snail trying to push itself through goo.  I still cringe a little when the phone rings because now I’m wondering what the estimate on the other end of the line will be.  But mostly I cringe in case it’s Leslie or Ryan calling to say “stop!  What were we thinking??!!!  Pleeeeeeeezee, pleeeeeze, pleeeeze don’t move!”  I wonder how much they’ll cringe when I tell them it's too late.