Saturday, November 26, 2005


It was a long weekend. and it is still the weekend. Eliott Creek behind us as we head up I-5, and more and more this is a homecoming for me. Not my new home anymore, just home. This transition, this marriage, this life, continues to become what is true, and what is behind me begins to take its proper place: my past. Now, if you've been reading along, my past won't stay where it belongs, has a life of its own, rattles in the dark (I have so many skeletons in my closet its a wonder I can hang up my clothes) and also, truth be told, I drag it out and play with it when I'm bored; a time-worn stuffed lamb, once-white plush curls gone flat and gray, one eye hanging by a thread.

But Thanksgiving was big. Lots of family, but not mine. My son did not show up. And I went through what I suppose mothers go through to one extent or another-- sadness, rejection. I know it is not unusual for a grown child to dis' the new family on major holidays. Painful. And yet it is just another layer of the release that has been demanded of me as I move from that life to this, and see it as all one and the same. It is. I know. But I do draw my lines.

After a pretty rough start, I spent much of the early years protecting my son. I have spent my holidays making sure his were free from violence, from poverty and want. I have spent years dragging him with me, hither and yon, from one safe place to the next, dodging bullets and idiots. I have made my holidays special with his presence. And now he is grown. He is older now by four years than I was when I had him and began the soul-cutting process of motherhood and detachment. I know we birth them to release them. I know this. I read the book. And I thought I had. But this thing happens in layers. I remember a couple of years ago when my mom died, and I felt pushed to the front of the cosmic waiting line. Maybe that is the final release. But there is something about the physical distance between us now, and the selling of what was our home. It makes me wonder what he thinks of me. If he feels somehow left behind. It is not the same without him, that much is true.

Again, the cabin was warm and welcoming, set up like a b&b with almost everything we needed. Almost. No mirrors, which is not such a bad thing. The stove is propane, and I baked pies one at a time, an apple and two pumpkin. I reheated the ham and made terrible yams with pineapple. In my enthusiasm to get out of town, I forgot at least one ingredient for each thing I was making. And these are things I had agreed to make: a ham, pies, yams. I forgot: sugar, cinnamon, brown sugar and something else. But I didn't forget them all at the same time. ONe by one I ambled over to Patricia's house and asked for an item at a time. It became comical fairly quickly. I am not Betty Crocker. But I did bake the best apple pie I have ever made.

green apples
1 cup sugar
cinnamon (borrow as needed)
3 tbsp flour
dash salt
juice of 1/4 lemon

1/3 c butter

cut up apples, toss with next 5 ingredients
put in bottom crust
dot with butter

bake until you can see it bubble and smell the apples.

yum. pie. I love pie.

Everyone was hammered. The smoke was dense, and the comments, "this is the best apple pie I have ever tasted," were dimmed. I could have fed them cardboard.

But my son wasn't there.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

home demolition

Poor Blog. I don't write, I don't call.... Okay-- its not that I haven't written. Okay. It is exactly that I haven't written. I have lost my fingers. I have lost my mind, my concept of time, and with those things, the memory of writing, of being a writer, has evaporated (picture morning mist) and honestly, I don't know what to do. My friend Gwen just got a new laptop and now I'm sure that's the cure. I know my life has been one huge transition over the past two years, but I had managed to keep the keys moving.

Lately though, this new job has become impossibly consuming, and I may just now be getting my head above water. Just. I have applied for other jobs, closer to home, and this act alone is somewhat freeing, but mostly, I arrived at acceptance the other day, as though at some distant address I hadn't visited in far too long: its residents lounging about on overstuffed chairs, drinking hot tea made of orange peels and the TV wasn't on. They didn't have any idea that there had been a 7 car accident on I-5 South; or that an amber alert had been initiated and everyone was supposed to look for a faded old blue Astro van. They didn't know who George Bush was. It was quiet, and I was nervous at first, but soon enough, I began to remember who I was.

City Life. It is no different from country life.... there is just so much more of it.

So that is my excuse. The dog ate my fingers. Back to life on Clinton Street: A chronicle of ordinary events.

Last Saturday, my husband was bored, picking at the edges of the bathroom floor. (I know I've talked about our bathroom before: pepto-bismol pink, lath and plaster exposed under and behind the fabulous claw foot tub. And men think because the toilet flushes and the bathtub drains, that this is enough. And it has been. For two long years. But he knows me, and the tiny little martha stewart that lives in my brain, and he knows it bugs my internal sense of decor. um.)

So there we were, a quiet Saturday morning, me: contemplating the Thanksgiving holiday shopping list and planning to head out to purchase christmas cards early so I'll have something to do after the sun sets at five o'clock in the cabin where we will be staying, because in the deep and forested gorge of Elliott Creek, the sun doesn't last long. You need good lantern and books.... and that's what I was thinking when from the bathroom comes these words, almost mumbled, "I wonder what's really under this...."

And it was on.

By noon, we had the tub, the sink and the toilet in the living room. And the bathroom floor--well, it really wasn't much of a floor--just a thin sheet of masonite. Let me try to describe this, because it was astonishing. First, there was more glue than board, so removal was interesting, but once we tore the floor up and drug it out of the house, the remaining sub floor was nothing but pieces of ancient, painted hardwood floor boards laid this way and that, no nails. I guess it had prevented the thin masonite from falling through to the basement, which was itself in full view through the spaces between the boards. But it was a weak attempt at making a floor. But they built it in 1911, so I guess they didn't have nails back then or something.

So it was a freaking tightrope act to get the subfloor on. But let me back up.... Upon finishing, we looked at one another across the chasm and said in unison, "What have we done?" And the thing is, you can't back off and wait until you're in the mood. It is the bathroom, after all. Press on...

Now, at times like this, I am always happy to report that, as a country girl, I can pee on command. I can pee in a snowstorm on the side of the freeway in full view of traffic, I can pee on a sidehill that is steeper than the back of god's head and not get a drip on my pants leg. --I don't like to or anything--its not as though I seek out opportunities--or, in the immortal words of Tom Waits, "Its not like I tie myself up first or anything." But peeing in the backyard was not a stretch for me.

So went the project. By saturday night, we had a floor. But the plumbing was old, and husband nervous about the prospect of everything going back together without a hitch. And of course, there were hitches, but not huge ones. We (and I say we in the weakest sense of the word: I handed him tools and did as I was told.) installed old beader-board wainscoating, four feet up, and the floor is beautiful: tile the color of fall leaves, marbled brown and rust and gold and green. I am going to paint the underside of the tub copper and the walls pale deep yellow-orange. I hate to admit it is orange, but I think it is. So Sunday was all about finishing. At 10:30 pm, we finally had a tub and toilet and sink, and didn't tear up the floor putting them back in. It is beautiful. Now it is my turn to do the painting...

There you have it. Another glimpse into my world. Domestic bliss. It is. We got a new bed last night. A custom, hand made mission style bed. It is beautiful. We had been looking for a long time for something, but this is real furniture. Heavy duty bed. But the problem with that is it puts the rest of the furniture to shame. Time for new shit. Must shop.