Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Truly exhausted

I am so very tired.

To explain, it's not as if this is the only house I need to deal with. In order to get this house sold, I have to make liveable two other houses, one in town and one in the country. The house in the country was built in the mid 1800s, and is structurally sound but an absolute mess. The house has been vacant for seven years, and my mom and I have filled hundreds of rubbish bags and have barely made a dent. Everything from canned food that was so old it didn't even have a a best by date, to panty hose that belonged to my great-grandmother who has been dead for 23 years. I threw away a stack of magazines dated 1983 (oh, not to mention ever Family Circle, Southern Living, and BH&G in all the years since!)

Today, I scrubbed seven year's worth of spider webs from a handful of key windows, I emptied closets, I vaccuumed one room only and (the nice part) I sorted through hundreds of my grandmother's handwritten recipes to those that I remember from childhood (including Chess Pie --hey, we're southern!-- divinity, her sourdough starter recipe, and these wonderful muffins made from Swans Down Cake Flour).

I have also accumulated enough vintage kitchen linens (including aprons, woohoo) that I could open my own shop. Isn't it funny the things that makes us happy? Teatowels....who'da thunk it? Oh, and let's not forget the wooden thread spools, which I have hunted down and pilfered from all the houses!! *grin*

My mom and I have been frantically working to make "my" house (the one I am responsible for selling) presentable enough that a real estate agent can come look tomorrow. The sucky thing (is that word in the thesaurus?) is that the market is in the toilet and this is a high-end house. PLEASE keep your fingers crossed for me, because I really need this house to sell (Universe, didja hear that?)

And I simply must share a small irony: my entire life, my grandmother begged me to stop biting my finger nails. Well, here I am cleaning out all of these houses and for the first time ever my nails are growing. Why? because my hands are so friggin' filthy that I won't put them anywhere near my mouth! hahahaha.

Anyway, I wanna sleep. I bought the paperback of Wicked (suitable reading for the Goodwitch, isn't it??), and I can't even keep myself awake enough to read it! "There's no place like home, there's no place like home......."


Now I just feel sad

I don't regret standing up for myself, but I am sad for my mom's husband if I have caused him any heartache. I know that he is not well (how can you be at that size), and he now feels uncomfortable in this house with me. Of course, if he wasn't behaving like such a child, he would simply offer his apology for having said something completely inappropriate (and perhaps even acknowledge the sheer amount of work I have done), but No, he has to be a MAN about the whole thing and simply hibernate in the back room and ignore me.

Thank heavens I am female.

And thank you all (females, each and every one!) for the supportive commentary.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I lost my halo today

Well, today was exciting. Having maintained my saintly composure for over two weeks, today, I let rip on my mother's husband. Now, before you chastise me, let me state that this is the man who has been throwing around racial slurs and watching tv at max effing volume, in his recliner drinking Crown Royal while my mom and I work our butts off. He is 100% supported by my mother, and just loves showin' off his Prada loafers and talkin' like he has anything of his own. The whole time my great-auntie and grandmother were sick, he still sat on his ass and let my mom do all the work. jerk.

So today, he just pushed me too far. We were "out in the country" at the house that has been in my family for generations, a house that my mom and I have spent hours cleaning and he has spent NONE. Our goal is to have them moved out there asap, so we can get the house we're in now ready for viewing (because it's not easy to show a house with him in his bathrobe in front of the TV in the middle of the afternoon). I had just finished cleaning a bedroom for him to use and asked him to please come in and try the bed to see if he could sleep in it. What you need to know is that he weighs 350 lbs and has broken two office chairs since we arrived. The bed I cleaned is put together with steel beams and fairly indestructible. He sat down, said no, that he wasn't going to sleep in this bed, that he was going to sleep in a specific bed because "it's the best damn bed in the house." OK, that specific bed is well over 150 years old, a delicate four poster bed that belonged to my great-grandparents. I pointed out that the bed was covered in clothes (because he's gonna do any work???) and one thing led to another (including me screaming that he was being ungrateful seeing as how he hasn't lifted a friggin' finger to help) and then he goofed: standing in that particular house, he shouted at me to Fuck Off and Get the Hell Out of This House. Oops. Not the right thing to say (not to mention terribly unwise seeing as how he currently resides in a house inherited by moi).

I saw red. Shouting ensued. I told him that he could Get the Hell Out of This House. He stormed off shouting all sorts of obscenities at and about me, proceeding to be a dickhead to my mother, and returned to the house we are all living in. Naturally, we women-folk stayed in the country and continued to work like dogs. He's now staying away from me, but didn't miss an opportunity to bad mouth me to my mother. Again, not terribly wise. (My mom was actually really funny about the whole thing and when I was upset and apologising for making her life more stressful, she just laughed and said that she didn't ask me to mutely put up with his shit.)

So this is my question: what does he think gives him the right to tell me to get out of a house that has been in my family since the Civil War, when he only married my mom ten years ago?? He has absolutely no ownership, legal or emotional, of that house. I am still baffled that he tho't that was acceptable. Fuckwit. AND, why on earth would he badmouth me to my mom? She's been my mom for 34 years; he's her SIXTH husband. duh.

Anyway, the end of the story is that my family has all these houses and my mom is simply going to put him in one of the other houses for the remainder of our visit. Her personal preference would be that he continue to live there, but that's probably not terribly nice.

I do feel bad for causing any additional angst for my mom. She really has enough to deal with sans my fury. It was just one of those moments when I couldn't contain myself.

And how was your day?


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Will we be okay?

I need some advice, or at least a few sage words. We have only been in the South for ten days, and already the girls and I are at each other's throats. They are trapped. There are NO playgrounds anywhere, and the land isn't fenced so I can't let them play outside. Plus, it's way hotter than they are used to and Biggie can't stand the mosquitos and fire ants, etc. They simply aren't getting the physical activity that they are used to. This is impairing their ability to sleep (not to mention all the noise in the house 24/7), which is in turn leading to grumpy little children during the day. And the result, one completely stressed out, pissed off Mom. How are we supposed to do this for 2 more months? Will we ever be able to get our old routine back?

The girls are colouring in colouring books, and watching more tv than normal (altho' we have had 3 days with NO tv, thank heavens!). They are bombarded by stuff. I keep thinking, as we given them paper and colouring books, "will they ever remember how to draw properly with block crayons?" Will they still have any sense of wonder after this experience? Hell, will they have healthy HEARTS after two months of southern food?!

To make this worse, I KNOW -- without a doubt -- that this all stems from me. I am unavailable. They are running wild! Of course they are acting up! It's not their fault. So while on one hand I am berating myself for not giving them our normal attention, on the other hand, I am constantly aware that I am here, doing this job, for the future stability of our family. In case you didn't know, I am emptying a house that I have inherited so that I can -- please G-d -- sell it and go home with the money to be 100% debt free and own a house. This is a huge opportunity for my little life in NZ and I am under the gun to get it done asap.

So how do I make everything alright? There is no one but me to do either of the jobs (parenting or house-selling). I keep saying that it's only two months and it's a worthwhile sacrifice. But then, at the end of another day of tantrums and pissed off little children, I just want to sit and cry. Will life go back to normal despite this bizarre two months? Isn't there anyway to make things better?

On a completely unrelated note, I started a fast three days ago. I am doing the Master Cleanse, which I have done before. This is the first time that I have injected spirituality into my fast. I knew this would be a perfect time for it because, well, other than all the shit food I happily consumed upon returning to the place of my birth (aaaah, ribs and catfish and hot sausage, not to forget ben and jerrys and popeye's disgusting but wonderful biscuits.....), I am just so darned busy that I can happily skip meals.

Before I end, I just have to add that I went into our bedroom a moment ago and my girls are happily laughing and telling stories. Maybe there will be just a little bit of waldorf left in them, after all.

Again, thanks for the support. I was hoping to have lots of wonderful treasures to send along to my American friends, but I am discovering that my great-auntie was terribly fond of polyester ( I even found a polyester quilt, if you can imagine!), and the yarn I have discovered is acrylic. (Not to be a snob, but I just can't stand how it feels on my skin). I have, however, pilfered dozens of wood thread spools, a pair of pinking shears (because they're $50 a pair in NZ!) and a variety of fabric. But really, I'm probably most happy about the Diamond Anniversary Scrabble Game that my mom bought for me at Wal-Mart. What a friggin nerd I am.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

OK, who crafts with ties?

I have at least 100 men's ties, in every style/width/fabric/pattern for the past 50 years. Do any of you craft with ties? I saw some wallets on etsy, but I simply don't have the time nor -- currently -- the inclination to make anything.

If you can use them, chime in and I'll send them to you.

I'll let you know as I discover more hidden treasures.


PS, on the upside to all my bitching, I am sending back to NZ a set of Le Creuset. very cool. xoxo.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

I'm tired and dirty

Please, dear G-d, never let me collect crap.

I am a minimalist for a reason, and this trip home has slapped me in the face with the reason. These women (my great auntie and my grandmother) were Depression-era babies. As a result, if something was "On Sale," they bought it. I have bed linens coming out my ears. Some of them are still in wrappers with the price tag on them. So far, I have catalogued 64 Bradford Exchange plates (because those were really going to appreciate in value!), and that's only about 1/3 of the total. I have more sets of china and crystal than ten families need (and decent patterns, too, not junk). There is a certain irony in the fact that my family collected glassware, and I live so far away that I cannot possibly get it home. Fostoria, anyone? I have every piece ever made in multiple colours. My mom was aghast that I am getting rid of aluminum pots and pans, despite the fact that there are multiple sets of perfectly safe, Alzheimer-free, stainless steel cookware.

On the family front, the girls and I are suffering from lack of normalcy. My mom's husband is a retired cop who is deaf in one ear. We are thusly bombarded by police reality shows played at top volume. Our nerves are shattered. The TVs run 24hours a day, whether people are at home or not. Littlie, I have seen, is highly susceptible to the frenetic energy in the house and she is having a terribly time sleeping. She woke up in the middle of the night saying, "the TV's on, I tho't it was morning."

I'm gonna stop with the kvetching because I feel myself spiralling downhill.

On the very exciting plus side, I got to visit a Whole Foods Market yesterday. While I find the prices of some things way higher than in NZ, it felt wonderful to be in a space where I fit in, even minimally. I am praying that the girls stay well while we are here; I am trying so hard to eat right and have homeopathics, etc, on hand just in case. Oh, food story: I bought what I tho't was plain coconut at the market (just coconut, right?). It was one of the only things I didn't think to read ingredients on. I got home with it to discover that, along with sugar and anticaking powder, it contained Propylene Glycol. Again, how do you people live here? Everything is full of rubbish. Shocking. But wait, I veer into the negative again.

I am now going to tackle all the linens and towels. If you need any, please let me know, but beware: they are total little ol' lady linens with fringe and patterns. i can't decide what is retro enough to be likable and what is just tacky!!! If I had the extra energy, I would take pictures, but that may be too much to manage. I am have crises because every time I empty another drawer I find more syringes and pharmaceuticals.....

Thank you all for the ComBox support. I am actually feeling like I really need it right now.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Day 4/5, and impressions so far

The girls are asleep beside me as we fly, finally, to New Orleans. Seems like a good time to blog.

Let me preface this post by saying that it may well be rife with foul language. I have had a terrible day and, despite my efforts to be Buddhist about the experiences, I am not going to make the effort to control my potty mouth. Let me also state, right here and now, that I have lived out of the country for ten years....my experiences will be coloured by my Kiwi-brain.

Southwest Airlines are fucking assholes. Did I make myself clear on that one?!!?? Today, when we walked up to the Southwest Counter at Orange Co. Airport, there was a sign up stating that "this line is Exit only, please use other line." As as rule-heeder, I did so, only to be told, quite tersely by the asshole behind the counter that I was in the Exit Line, blah blah blah. naturally, I pointed out the sign (with the full support of those behind me in line) and, only after I repeatedly brought the sign to Asshole #1's attention, did she dare apologise. Then, she told me that my bag (ONE, for three passengers) was 4 lbs overweight and I would have to repack or pay. Nevermind that I officially was not making use of my full luggage allowance (because, you know, I do have to manage two children through the airports and multiple bags mean no free hands for holding.) So I repacked.

Next comes my experience with Security (acronym H.S., gift of George W.) The first guy was a schmuck because I simply wasn't moving fast enough (those kid-attachments, again!) and the second guy started off being snarky with me when I asked what I was supposed to do with the plastic buckets. You see, I am not daft, but in NZ, the security people give you the plastic buckets for your crap and you would never think of just reaching out and grabbing your own. The guy was incredulous that we don't spend every day in American Airports; however, he did become quite helpful when I explained that we live in NZ and don't travel through the States that often.

Everything proceeds fairly okay until Phoenix (I will never go to Phoenix again!). We landed for our connecting flight, walked to the open air shitty food stall (becuase, those kid-things do tend to get hungry!) immediately adjacent to the gate, only to get up and discover that the Public Address system does not carry farther than six feet and -- no fucking way -- we missed our flight. I looked up and said, "Where's the flight to New Orleans?", to which Asshole #2 responded, "That's it taking off. Well, there's nothin' we can do. Can't call the plane back." Fuckin' duh. "The PA system doesn't work in the cafe." Well, as I discovered sitting at our second gate, the PA system is barely audible even if you are within throwing distance. WTF?

Getting reseated for a new flight, I meet Asshole #3, who gives me what must have been the very last boarding pass number available. This really just made more work for her co-workers, who had to reseat someone to provide my daughters and I with three seats together. Remind me never to fucking fly Southwest again, except for the return trip, which I have unfortunately already paid for. I will be calling my insurance company and seeing if any story works to get that changed (can I say a kid puked on the plane because the flight was so horrible, or what?)

But Southwest was not my only joyful Phoenix experience. Let's imagine two small Waldorf kids, totally without semblance of normal life, on crappy (best mom could find) food and not enough sleep. Littlie, aka Madame Choleric, threw a complete fucking hissy fit in the middle of the airport. Full on kicking and screaming. I actually had a man come over to lend moral support (he was a Dad and fire-fighter and he stuck up for me telling her that she had to listen to mom). Somehow, I think I was so upset by the time this started that I handled the incident quite well, meaning, I was okay with her public fit and refused to give in. (What happen'd, just to put in perspective, is that Littlie was being physically aggressive with me -- hitting, pinching, etc. -- and screaming disrespectfully -- and intentionally -- at the top of her lungs.)

So now I am finally on a plane. Which will land in Houston before heading for NOLA. Thank heavens the kids are asleep.

That gives me a little time to share with you my impressions of America thus far. I have one word: FAT. OMG, what has happen'd?? And even worse, what will happen in twenty years when all the fat children grow up and are already suffering health problems. All there is on tv are health and diet ads, or ads for crappy food. Let me share with you our most noteworthy D-Land food experience. I was trying to make a decent choice and ordered PB & J sandwiches. We rec'd this thing called an Uncrustable: a pre-made, prepackaged circle of PB&J with, as the name states, no crust (G-d forbid a child eat crust!). The ingredient list was five inches long -- and ALL CRAP. The portion sizes everywhere were ENORMOUS. Honestly, I have so much admiration for you families who are living simply in America today. I cannot begin to imagine how hard it is to go against this system, in which everything is fat, fast or convenient. All the clothes and toys I saw had characters on them. And what's worse, there is the belief that everyone lives that way. My nephew could only talk about his possessions and his video games/tv. He made snide comments about our lack thereof.

Sidebar: I actually suffered a very heartbreaking experience because I showed my sister our Steiner dolls and she laughed at them and made fun of me for having made the dolly clothes myself. I had an argument with my mom because I stated that the living room tv (as opposed to the 3 other tv's in the house) would not be on all day long or else I would go check into a hotel.

Back to the topic at hand....I look around me and I ask if America can be saved. Other than this handful of bloggers, are there any families out there trying to raise healthy, happy creative children? I stood in the lines at D-Land and was astonished at how the Gang culture has taken hold; and I was saddened for the parents who may be trying to raise children away from those influences. I especially felt this for the ethnic communities because, for every 9 families sportin' rap/gang gear, there would be one family nicely dressed, with seemingly well-raised children. I can't imagine how hard it must be for them to keep their children away from such a life. Not to be corny, but it actually brings tears to my eyes.

I want to take a minute and go back to the stories about my mom and sister. Every time I come home, I realise how far DH and I have come in the past ten years; the downside is that we are neither understood nor really respected by our family for those choices. My family still condescends and uses the "you came out all right" rationale. And I keep asking (silently, of course) "Don't you see how happy and healthy and clever my children are?" I just don't understand why these people who are so close to us can't look at our children and see that we have made good decisions. I saw a twelve year old girl smoking in the presence of her father (I assume!). And yet, I get shit from someone because of our handmade dollies (while her son drinks diet coke!).

I am trying so very hard to practice being non-judgemental. I keep saying that each person has their own path. But I am truly saddened by the future of America, and I am hopeful for the wee pockets of families who are making the sacrifices to keep their families healthy in mind, body and spirit. If you ladies ever want to come visit, I'll gladly put you up....and help you find a job, and a school, and anything else you need. I have a new appreciation for New Zealand, and I really miss our climbing tree!