Monday, May 31, 2010

rainy day bbq

yesterday we had our first barbeque of the season. we've had a terribly rainy week up in here northwest washington, but sunday was supposed to be nice. when we woke up, there was a whole lot of sun and my little family and i set to work in the backyard. our back patio was covered with the remains of a plum tree that inexplicably split itself in half at the end of last summer, and our yard qualifies at a nature preserve at this point. the grass is so tall you can lose a toddler out there. we have a path cut out to the compost heap, but that's about it. we got the patio all cleared off, the outside table scrubbed free of mold and gunk (that was my fun job), and the smoker/grill all set up. then the rain started! lucky for us, we have a pop-up canopy, so we just hung out under that all day. it was a small barbeque anyway; just us, my mom and niece, and a friend of the boy's. we still made way too much food, and sent some home with mom. i have to say, it's fun being able to send her home with leftovers instead of the other way around.

we've been playing around with our smoker, and probably will have a lot more in the way of family get togethers so we can feed people our experiments. so far we've made pizza, pork and beef ribs, and turkey legs. beef ribs weren't our favorite; the taste was good, but the ratio of meat to bone is sad. i love the turkey legs; they look all prehistoric and ridiculous, but a long cooking breaks down much of the connective tissue, and they don't need much in the way of seasoning. an simple overnight brine and they are good to go. my outdoor pizza technique needs some work, but the pizzas themselves were tasty. one time we made pork ribs with a random rub, and even though they were way too salty, they still got eaten, which is a testament to how awesome pork is. D found a website with a lot of modifications you can make to a simple grill like ours to maximize its efficiency, and we've used some of the tips. we still have some mods to make, but so far we've got a good thing going. maybe you'll come over this summer and help us try out a new recipe or two...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

so much going on

this weekend was pleasantly busy. i went to the island on saturday morning, to go to the farmer's market with my mom and aunt (and maggie!). after that, we poked about town, getting ready for a dinner over at my aunt's house later. it was a very informal affair, and pretty much exactly what i needed. we spent the night looking at old photos of my uncle, talking about him, catching up. mom and i had to leave a little earlier than we wanted because maggie was a bit overstimulated, but i was glad to get to spend some time with my people. today was the formal wake, which was a service held at the local VFW. most of the guests came dressed in flannel shirts; if there was one thing my uncle loved, it was a well-worn flannel plaid. it was nice to look out over the crowd and see all the shirts. the service was short and sweet, and i think what made me cry the most was when my cousin's son crawled up into her lap and started kissing her because she was crying. i remember maggie taking my sister's face in her hands at the funeral and saying over and over, "no crying, mama, no crying" while kissing her. it must be bewildering for a kid to see a parent so sad. in all, it was a nice but bittersweet weekend. after the service, D and i took maggie to the park to play for a while before filling her with a cinnamon roll and taking her home.

in other news, important news, weird news, the wedding has been postponed. not called off! and this honestly isn't one of those "let's stall for a while before we can really break up" sort of things. i have some financial things that need to be sorted out (i.e. DEBT), and after a few long, productive, mildly freaky conversations, we both agree that waiting until i get that settled is for the best. i meet with a lawyer soon to start hammering things out, and after that gets going, we'll set another date. when we first starting talking about this, i was pretty angry. i think that's a normal reaction, and i was worried that this meant that D didn't really want to marry me. even if you're waiting for all the right reasons, and being prudent and responsible, saying that you're putting things on hold isn't any one's first choice, i don't think. i admit i was shallow enough to also be worried about what my mother would think, and my friends and family, but the response has been great. i still love D, i still want to be his wife, but i also want to protect his assets and make sure that we don't start our marriage running from creditors. taking care of this now also means when the kids go to college (and one isn't that far off) we'll be in a better place to help them out, which is important to me. if i had thought in college (when i accrued this dismal debt) that it would make my wedding have to wait, i might not have been such a jackass with my credit cards. although to be honest, in college i wasn't sure i'd ever grow up and get married, and i thought i'd have a job that paid more by now. c'est la vie, dudes. the good news is i have a lot more time to make all manner of crafty decorations for the wedding, and that dress i'm not totally in love with doesn't have to be my wedding dress anymore. i feel really good about our decision. in a weird way, i feel closer to D too. this could have been a gigantic fight, a clusterfuck of epic proportions, nothing but hurt feelings and pride; but we worked it out together. like the team we are.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

i'm still here

you can be a crazy feminist and love mickey avalon at the same time, right? because i looove mickey avalon, but also rage against shaving my legs and losing my hyphenated last name in marriage. i can't help that i love his dirty rapping! i'm telling you, there's more than one 15 yr old boy living in this house; i let the boychik listen to "my dick" (which is just as ridiculous and raunchy as it sounds) and we giggled like dorks while bobbing our heads.

i made it through a week without crying at work or setting anything on fire. i suppose since it's only thursday i should wait until tomorrow to make that statement, but i like to live my life right on the edge of things, as you can plainly see. my uncle's party-which-shall-not-be-called-a-wake happens this weekend. i'l be glad to be wtih my family for a few days, even if it isn't for the happiest of reasons.

i didn't want to walk today (because for me grief involves couches, beer and long showers), but i have to say, it does me some good to get all stompy and hot and sweaty. my butt hurts, though. my legs seem stronger lately too, which is a weird and awesome feeling. i find that as much as i drag my feet and procrastinate with the exercising, once i'm in the swing of things, and afterward, i feel good. those endorphins health articles are always extolling might actually exist after all. shit, who knew shape had anything of value to offer a girl?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

the waiting was truly awful. i spent all day today antsy and on the phone trying to figure out what was going on, but getting nowhere. i slept for shit last night (three hours! maybe four! whoo!) and after i got home mom finally answered the phone and told me what the hell what going on. my uncle passed away at about 8 this morning, with his children and wife by his side. from what i gather, it was as peaceful as it could be.

even though i knew in part of my brain that he wasn't going to get better, the part of me that was still hoping he'd wake up and be fine reacted badly to the news. no matter when someone you love dies; suddenly, or you get some time to anticipate it, you're never really ready, are you?

there are going to be too many women at family holidays now. dammit, guys.

after i got the news, i had a tuna melt with the boychik, then went to bed. i didn't realize how tired i was, and so i read and napped on and off until D got home. there won't be a funeral, per my uncle's wishes, so a party will be organized in it's place. i don't think anyone wants to call it a wake, but that's pretty much what it is. i would just like to hide out in bed for a few more days, but i'm not sure that's an option.

my uncle was awesome. he gave me my first real job, at his bead store. he helped me pick out my first car. he was funny and smart and had a wicked sense of humor. he was madly in love with my aunt. he was my pop's best friend. they met in the navy and cobbled together a family; both were far away from their own, but saw something in each other that they recognized. i don't remember he or my aunt not being a part of my life. they've always been supportive of me, and it always made me so proud that we got to be part of the same family. uncle john always made me feel smarter, and way more talented than i probably am. when i was a teenager, he and my aunt were the grown-ups i looked to for overt advice and guidance. you know how when you're that age and everything your parents say is wrong and dumb and retarded, but you've got an aunt and uncle who can say the same thing and suddenly it doesn't seem so moronic? that was them. when my father passed, my uncle was the most reasonable about it, and oddly comforting. he told me that he knew it sucked, that he knew i was sad and miserable and missing him, but that death was a part of life and that he knew my dad, and knew he was happy with how he had lived his life. he did shots of tequila with me in the kitchen and told me i was going to be okay, and i believed him.

i was okay then, and i'll be okay now, but it doesn't mean i won't miss the hell out of both of them.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

this tuesday night i got a call that my uncle was in the ICU. that morning he'd fallen into a coma after his kidneys and liver started shutting down. what they thought was MDS and perhaps cirrhosis of the liver was actually a fast acting, aggressive liver cancer. there was a tumor that essentially shut the blood supply to his liver and kidneys off. it happened so quickly that he was only lucid and awake for about an hour after being admitted to the hospital. my aunt was worried about telling my mother, sister and me, and so she didn't call us until late that night. my sister and i went to the hospital right away, and my mother drove up from portland that night as well. the next day my uncle's brothers and his daughter flew into town from new york. we knew he hadn't been feeling well, obviously, but the tests he'd been having were all inconclusive or vague at best. the CT scans and MRI's didn't show the cancer, and he had some other health problems that probably clouded his diagnosis. at this point, he's as comfortable as he can be, and we're just all waiting.

the limbo part of this is difficult. on one hand, i'm glad i got to be with him a few more times, on the other hand, the coma makes it impossible to know if he's okay; i worry about him being in pain or uncomfortable. his doctors are amazing, though, and when i saw him tonight he seemed a lot more peaceful than he did that first day. the doctor doesn't think he'll make it through the night, his kidneys have shut all the way down and his breathing is getting slower and slower. this is just very, very lame. to say the least.

cancer can go fuck itself.

(and just so you know, mother's day was super nice. may made me a really pretty ceramic heart that hangs on the wall and holds a flower or note. it's terribly adorable, and the note she put inside just about killed me. awesome! )

Thursday, May 06, 2010


all this talk of moms and mother's day has got me feeling weird. i am not technically a mom, and the sort of mom i'm going to end up being isn't really very june cleaver-y. if i'd just gotten pregnant and had kids, though, would i have been an ordinary mom? is there really any such thing?

sometimes i'm sad that i didn't become a mom in a normal, getting-pregnant-having-a-baby kind of way. other days, i love the kids enough that i forget i didn't grow them myself. they both refer to me as a "parent" and that's pretty fucking awesome for a girl who was seriously plotting her crazy cat lady phase.

i guess when it comes right down to it, i love them and they love me and who cares if i'm not a MOM-mom. i'm okay. they're okay. we have a home we're all happy to come back to, and dinner is our favorite part of the day. whatever is going on, it works. i need to stop over thinking it and just relax. i forget that no one gets to pick their kids, and no one gets to pick their mom. we're not a normal family, but whatever we are, i'm thrilled with. yeah, i'm not a mom-mom, i never grew a baby inside me, and the kids have a bio-mom out there somewhere, but the kids are awesome and well-adjusted, so i'm going to count that as a success.