A fitting tribute

I forgot to add something to the list of things about my Grandma. Something significant. She ran the polling site in Warwick, OK, for many, many years. I can remember when I was little her having those big metal polling booths with the red, white and blue striped canvas curtains hanging from them set up in her back porch. I have no idea why, perhaps to clean them or something. But playing in them and pretending to vote is a fond memory. When my mom would go vote in Chandler, I remember my sister and I cramming into that kind of booth with her with the curtain shut. I loved those booths and the sacred space they offered to consider the major decisions we often consider in those spaces.

Today, nestled up to a pop-up, cardboard voting station I had to tune out a lot of noise to get the job done. The master of ceremonies at my precinct was obsessively rearranging the cardboard booths to create the perfect flow for voters. One of her assistants only talked to people at shout-levels. Another assistant was floating from voter to voter helping those who couldn’t read or couldn’t comprehend, saying, “It’s ok…you don’t have to vote for  all those items if you don’t want to.” People milled in and out. The whole place smelled like a thrift store (laundered clothes, dust and people). And there was a dog wandering in and out of the building….apparently he likes to hang out on voting days.

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It didn’t feel very sacred. Focus was in short supply, but I did what I came to do. And I brought Grandma. She would have loved to have participated in today all the way down to re-electing our president.

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Making a reclaimed dresser

I’ve been hunting for a dresser for my son for over a month. Visiting thrift stores and stalking IKEA’s website, while were fun, didn’t net anything realistic. On Friday night, as we rushed in to our 6th thrift store of the evening I saw a filing cabinet. Old, slightly beat up file cabinet. I wondered to myself if it would work. $25? Well, that and a few cans of spray paint would be cheaper than something I’d have to assemble from Target or IKEA. I left the cabinet there but while mind surfing the next day I thought to check the Interwebs to see if it really was as easy as it seemed.

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I dropped a tweet and headed out on my mission, Instagramming along the way like a good little digital storyteller.

Step 1!

Step 2!

Sanded, taped, wiped down.

New dresser? Check! #pinteresting

It really was as simple as you’d think it was. Buy a cabinet (turns out it was 1/2 off, so $12!), buy some sandpaper and paint (I bought two spray primer/paint combos that were $6 a can, but you could buy those separately if you wish), remove all hardware you don’t want painted, protect the area your painting (and yourself) and spray away. This took about 2 hours but would have taken a LOT less time if I could have found my palm sander. Be sure to wipe off the sanding dust with a dry cloth, then a slightly damp one. That’s it.

A dresser for $25 that will hold a TON of clothing. It will probably hold toys, too.

I had a friend on Facebook chastise me for buying the cabinet because he has several unused ones at his office he would have given me for free. I think my bonus son wants to make one for his room, too.

Grandma

How do I grieve such an important person as my Grandma Gladys? I’ve felt a little disconnected from her death, as if her passing was an event that I hadn’t been invited to. We aren’t having a funeral for her…most people who she was close to are long gone (she’d have been 88 at the end of November) and are planning an immediate-family-only memorial early next year.

It’s very anti-climatic.

She's in heaven

This is my grandma with my son in 2006. She was 82 and still living a completely full, independent life all by herself on the farm.

I don’t deal with death very well. My mom died, suddenly, tragically, when I was 14 and my sister was 11. All sorts of bad shit ensued after that, including my sister just fucking falling off the deep end. For a long time. Some could say she’s still there. Though, I am reconciling myself to the fact that she’s doing the best she can with what she’s got. Just like the rest of us. Her human-ness doesn’t look anything like mine does but that doesn’t make her less valuable or less precious or less responsible for her own station. In mind-blowing lesson after mind-blowing lesson, I realize that I love her no matter what. No. Matter. What. And I still strive to have connection and meaning with her even if she still keeps herself as loosely connected as humanly possible.

I’m getting off track.

You see, mom’s death threw us into chaos that still swirls. Still effects generations of us.

Death is serious, crazy shit and I think my gut and my heart just want nothing to do with it. Period. Which is why I check out when people are dying. My mom’s dad died (of old age and lots of senility) and I mostly didn’t visit him in those final years. His wife, the only grandma on that side that I ever knew….barely saw at the end. My dad’s long-term girlfriend (who was twice widowed after two 20 year marriages, then was rewarded for her struggles with panceatic cancer around her and my dad’s 3rd anniversary)….I totally checked out. Then, my grandma. She was one of the best friends I have ever had. I barely saw her in the 5 years that her senility arrived and her body slowly departed.

I’m not shaming myself when I say this, though there are plentiful puddles and ponds of guilt laying about with regards to people I’ve loved and lost. I’m no psychologist, but my heart tends to know the truth most of the time, whether or not I listen to it. I step in those puddles, wade through the ponds and try to do better. Last year I had an elderly aunt (my mom’s sister) fall ill and pass away. I was grateful that I’d identified that whole “fear of death” thing by that time so I could just lean into it, go visit her and then be with her and other family as she faded and left. It was surprisingly profound to have that “let’s gather around to love and support each other” experience.

With my grandmother, though, it was really sad to see such a vibrant woman fade into a shell of what she once was. All of us were shocked to see the course of her life in the last few years. We figured she would live to be 95 and die of a heat stroke because she continued to mow her own lawn (she really did mow her own lawn with a riding mower until she was about 82). Or because she got bit by a snake (she kept a shotgun for snakes and other unwelcome visitors perched up above her back door).

It was selfishly uncomfortable for me to be around to see the bizarre decline. Her bizarre decline came during my own bizarre decline from a “happily married” to “enthusiastically divorced”. There was only so much my heart could take during those first couple of years and by the time the magnet was back in my compass, she was gone. Here… but gone. It sucks and I will forever feel guilt for all of the above. She started fading away but I faded from her faster than she faded from herself. Bleh. Death and dying sucks balls.

Let’s talk about other stuff about her. Let’s not talk about ways I failed her, but ways in which she gave to me. Ways in which I hope to give to my kids and grandkids.

  1. She taught me how to sew.
  2. And how to bake.
  3. She kept a few drawers of old dresses and slips for us 4 granddaughters to play dress up. And a big plastic shoebox full of retired costume jewelry (which I inherited and is one of my prized possessions).
  4. When she’d make a pie she’d let me work up the crust scraps with cinnamon sugar into cookies (kind of)
  5. She babysat me and my sister nearly every single Wednesday night for years. YEARS.
  6. She loved to watch M*A*S*H at 10:30pm and mostly fell asleep before it was over.
  7. WTH?! Does that mean that she was letting me stay up until at least 10:30pm on a school night? I just now realized that.
  8. Her pantry was this closet without a door in her kitchen and where the door should have been there was a bamboo curtain that I used to play with constantly. I’d lean against the door frame with the kitchen to my right and an insane amount of canned goods to my left (no, really) and fiddle with that bamboo bead curtain.
  9. She kept a big ceramic tea kettle (ornamental) on top of the fridge and it was full of quarters. I still don’t know why.
  10. For a very long time the running water in the house was hard well water and salty. So, they’d have to haul drinking water in and there was a shelf adjacent to the kitchen that held a enamel bucket full of fresh drinking water and enamel ladle from which to serve it. Sometimes I’d drink from the ladle just like my grandpa did, not realizing it was rude.
  11. I’d give my eye teeth for that bucket and ladle.
  12. She was somewhat of a food hoarder, as many people who survived the depression were. A coat closet-sized pantry full of stuff, a fridge and two deep freezers full. Plus a cellar of canned stuff she’d put away.
  13. She loved to compete. Every year she’d enter into the Lincoln Country Fair and win oodles of blue ribbons and a little prize money. The money helped her try to break even. I think she just liked the purpose and activity and competition and recognition.
  14. And I mean she’s enter over 100 categories with her GAME FACE ON. I loved August because it meant her house was loaded with all kinds of confections.
  15. She made perfect pecan divinity. It was “her thing.”
  16. When I make toffee and people love it I feel close to my grandma because now I have a thing like she had a thing.
  17. But she was a homemaker for 60 years. She had a LOT of things.
  18. She loved to play cards and, when I was little, she and grandpa often had friends or family over to play. I don’t remember which games but I’d guess gin and spades.
  19. She’d serve sliced kielbasa and cheese and crackers and pickles and I’d think that was the greatest thing ever.
  20. She made the best Swiss Steak.
  21. And the best mashed potatoes.
  22. And HOLY LORD, the best potato salad. With American cheese chunks, tomatoes, red onion, bacon…everything.
  23. A cornbread salad that was very similar and to die for.
  24. When I read The Pioneer Woman I am often transported back to my grandmother’s kitchen and that’s one reason I love Ree. She’s keeping that part of Oklahoma alive.
  25. She always, ALWAYS gardened. I mostly remember the tomatoes.
  26. She’d grow these big, beefy tomatoes and would serve them at every supper. She’d peel, then slice them in 1″ rounds. Sometime they were still warm from the sun and I get weepy that stuff like that exists in my memory and not in my present.
  27. She made great hot rolls. One Thanksgiving I made hot rolls that were killer and everyone raved. I think she got jealous and I took that as a huge compliment. All I did was follow a recipe and I wouldn’t have even known how to follow a recipe if it weren’t for her. AND the recipe was in a cookbook she’d given me as a wedding gift.
  28. She inscribed it and had the most beautiful penmanship.
  29. I have her edition of that same cookbook and it’s totally beat to hell.
  30. I also have a clean and unused edition of that cookbook that I’d like to give Gabi or Tanner when the time is right.
  31. She used to help me throw tea parties for me and the baby dolls when I was a preschooler. I still have the tiny table on which we’d dine.
  32. She wrote my name on a tag on the bottom of the table 10 years before she started declining.
  33. I hope I’m that thoughtful when I begin thinking of my end and who gets what.
  34. She helped run a dairy farm and I can remember walking out to the barn in the late 70s/early 80s to watch her check on “the girls”.
  35. I can remember her lifting me up to look over into the massive vat of milk in the big silver holding tank thing.
  36. She used to pack picnics for us (me and the other granddaughters) and we’d eat creekside on a small offshoot of Deep Fork Creek.
  37. Mostly I remember sandwiches and baked beans served out of a mason jar. Chips, too, I’m sure.
  38. She sewed my freshman winter formal dress.
  39. She sewed my junior and senior prom dress. (Same dress. I loved it so much and just did one modification between the two years to make it “different”.
  40. I was SO overweight that she really had to alter the pattern to make it work. And she did it like it was no big deal. I remember her making the bodice out of muslin to test her pattern so that it would fit well. It did and I felt very pretty (which was quite the feat in those times).
  41. She fried french toast. Floating-in-oil fried.
  42. Every Wednesday night I made and ate an ice cream sundae. She always made sure that there were ground peanuts, ice cream, carmel sauce and chocolate sauce in the house.
  43. She’s prolly a big reason I was a fat kid.
  44. When I was in elementary school we had something called the junior olympics. I only chose a couple of places to compete because I was SO not an athlete. I ended up coming in somewhere near dead last in my competitions and was mortified. Luckily it was a Wednesday so I was going to her house that night. I remember being way too grown up for her lap but sitting on in anyways and bawling. Cried my little eyes out to the person who most loved and understood me.
  45. I tried to write a book one time in my early 20s. The protagonist was based on her.
  46. Her middle name was Irene.
  47. Gladys Irene Siebenaler. She has a Catholic name in there somewhere but I don’t remember it.
  48. She married my granddad and became a practicing Lutheran, so I guess it doesn’t much matter.
  49. Her and my granddad met in the mid 1940s during war times.
  50. He was in the army, but riding around in big planes away from intense combat.
  51. But when they met, he was stationed near Alliance, Nebraska. I may have my military designations wrong. For all I know he was in the Air Force….I just know he wasn’t a pilot.
  52. She was working as a beautician and had put herself through school to do so.
  53. Her dad was an alcoholic.
  54. I never, ever, ever saw her drink a drop of anything. At all.
  55. Her mom had something like 13 pregnancies but only 4 babies. And only raised 3 children. I can’t imagine living through times like that.
  56. There was a diner in Wellston, OK right along Route 66 when I was really young. She’d take me there to get a dip cone.
  57. In junior high, she gave me perms. I wanted them kinky curly so she gave me tedious perms, often piggybacked, on 1/4″ rollers. She got so good at those that I’d only need them every 6 months or so when my hair just plain grew out. The curls never faded.
  58. For a few years she had a church organ on her back porch. She bought note labels to cover the keys so that whoever wanted to learn them, could. I don’t remember what happened to it, though I kind of assumed she was borrowing it or holding it for our church. Or someone’s church.
  59. We sat on the second to front pew on the left side of the sanctuary. Only. If we ever were anywhere else, it was because so many were in attendance that bled onto the next row back.
  60. She mowed her own lawn on a riding mower until she was probably 80.
  61. The year my mom died she drove in from the farm to bring my sister and I dinner at least a few nights a week and to be there when we got home from school.
  62. I don’t remember how long that lasted but I remember how comforting it was.
  63. My dad took her to Hawaii on one of the trips he’d won.
  64. I do think that besides kids and grandkids, it was the highlight of her life.
  65. She often worked into the conversation, “When Gary and I were in Hawaii” 20 years after she and dad were in Hawaii.
  66. I was her favorite, or at least perceived to be.
  67. When I was young it made me feel special and when I was older it made me incredibly self-conscious and feel guilty. But she was just being herself and the notion of favoritism makes me a better mom.
  68. One time, when I was a poor college kid, she slipped me a $20 and told me not to tell my grandpa.
  69. On my way out the door that same day, my grandpa slipped me a $20 and told me not to tell my grandma.
  70. She sewed nearly all of her own suits, skirts and non-jeans pants.
  71. I have one of the suits hanging in my closet. It is a million years from fitting but I kept it anyway because I’m as sentimental as they get.
  72. I also have a lot of her brooches. Mostly they are cheapie things she picked up at Wal-Mart or JCPenney, but I still like having them because she always wore one.
  73. Her favorite perfume was Opium. She almost never bought it, though, opting for the knock-off scent called Ninja.
  74. I stayed with her for a week when I was a high school freshman 5 because I had mono.
  75. I couldn’t figure out why her chocolate milk was so much better than any non-commercial chocolate milk I’d ever drank. Eventually figured out that it was because she used whole milk, chocolate syrup and a teaspoon of sugar. Of course.
  76. She liked swinging on the porch. For all of my childhood (and probably before) she had one almost identical to this. I’ll own one like it someday.
  77. She had two daughters, a son (my dad) and four granddaughters.
  78. Most of us went to her house on Sundays just to hang out. This happened for at least a decade, probably two.
  79. If we got there and she was at church, there would be a note left on the cutting board for whoever got to the house first. It let us know where she was, when she was returning, and what we could do to start or finish lunch if she’d already prepped it.
  80. She never owned a dishwasher.
  81. She drank a metric ton of coffee everyday. Always had a cup nearby.
  82. She always wore gradually tinted eye glasses.
  83. When she sat at a table she always had an arm crossed to the other and the uncrossed arm up so that it looked as if she were resting her chin/cheek. I often do the same thing.
  84. She started a free clothes closet every August for back-to-school. Or maybe she just ran it…I can’t remember anymore. But for years her back porch would get BURIED in garbage bags of clothes that got sorted and distributed to people who wanted to come and shop.
  85. She sang alto in her church choir for decades. Sometimes she was 1/3 of the choir but did it anyway because she loved it.
  86. She practiced her songs by playing a cassette tape of piano music that her choir-mate had performed while grandma recorded it on her portable tape deck.
  87. She made quilts for money and for fun. She made me one as a a wedding gift. She made a lot of simple ones for kids in foster care (think sewn and yarn tied). The most beautiful one is with my cousin in Seattle who when asked, picked the Hawaiian quilt grandma had made after her return from the island. It is gorgeous and took an eternity.
  88. Man, alive. I miss her.

64 things about my favorite 64-year-old

Grandpa and Baby

  1. He got us up in the middle of the night to drive us to Carlsbad Caverns, even though one of us was a grumpy and self-important 13-year-old. Ahem.
  2. And didn’t murder me as we toured said caverns, though I’m sure he wanted to. I was such a hormonal jerk that day.
  3. He loves to make cookies then deliver them all around Chandler, OK. For fun.
  4. One time he was babysitting a toddler-aged Gabi who pooped while they were at the coffee shop. He drove her home to change her so he could be sure he got the job done well.
  5. He’d give you the shirt off his back.
  6. He laughs really, really loud.
  7. And will often slap a knee.
  8. Today is his birthday.
  9. My son looks a lot like my dad’s kid pictures.
  10. He retired about 10 years ago.
  11. He walks 6 miles a day most days.
  12. He’s been a type 2 diabetic since he was 15.
  13. That disease has taken a lot of “normalcy” from him.
  14. But he just rolls with it. Always has.
  15. He loves a good bargain.
  16. At almost every holiday gathering, he makes gigantic spinach salad.
  17. Over half of the time the spinach is from his garden.
  18. He has gardened every year since he retired.
  19. My favorite year followed several non-cooperative tomato years. That year he put in 50 plants and by the end even I didn’t want any more of his effin’ tomatoes.
  20. Whenever we visit, we always leave with a grocery bag or two of produce from his garden.
  21. Whenever we visit, we always leave with a grocery bag or two of food from his pantry.
  22. This came in handy when I was in college.
  23. He plants gardens in spring, summer and fall.
  24. He makes awesome apple pies.
  25. Except one time he didn’t stir the mixture well enough and I almost chipped a tooth on a golf ball-sized wad of brown sugar that had baked into a clod.
  26. He likes to invent baked good recipes.
  27. He loves diet orange soda.
  28. There isn’t a single coffee bean in his house. He prefers to drink coffee with friends twice a day at his hang-outs.
  29. He grew up on a dairy farm.
  30. One house he lived in was so poorly insulated, that the water glass he kept on his nightstand would often have a thin layer of ice when he woke in the morning.
  31. That room was in the attic.
  32. But that’s still pretty nuts by today’s standards.
  33. His big activity in high school was FFA.
  34. I have his FFA jacket. It hangs next to my high school letter jacket and both my graduation gowns.
  35. He types in all caps with terrible punctuation and spelling. I find it endearing.
  36. I have a picture of him somewhere in a seafoam green suit and white belt.
  37. Dressing up nice: very pressed long sleeve western shirt, starched jeans. And back in the day included boots and a Stetson hat.
  38. Dressing up fancy: Suit and tie and knock-off Rolex he bought in an alley in Hong Kong.
  39. Has been to Hawaii twice.
  40. Has been to Hong Kong once.
  41. Has been to Puerto Vallarta once.
  42. Paid for zero for those four trips. Chevrolet and/or Subaru sent him as rewards for being a Customer Service badass.
  43. He was the service manager for a Chevrolet dealership in Moore for 11 years.
  44. The first macadamia nut I had was one he brought back from Hawaii.
  45. He used to let us roast hot dogs and marshmallows in the fireplace of his apartment. We didn’t think this was ghetto, we thought this was THE GREATEST THING EVER.
  46. Sometimes he’d let my sister and I walk across 12th Street in Moore to the Pratts to buy BBQ sandwiches. He’d send us off alone (ages 10 and 7) with a $100 bill.
  47. We never got mugged or hit by cars or were worried about either thing.
  48. As a freshly divorced, every-other-weekend dad, he took us to a lot of movies, which was very new to us and also awesome.
  49. His first apartment had Grover blue shag carpet.
  50. His second apartment (right next door) had been renovated with nice carpet and fresh, non-70s decor. I nearly set the kitchen on fire one day when I was 12. Then lied about it. He did not murder me.
  51. One time he bought, I don’t know, something like 10 cases of Shasta and stored them in the extra bedroom closet. I get the bargaineer thing from his side of the family.
  52. When my mom died, he moved back to Chandler immediately and commuted to Moore for work for two years.
  53. He gave let me use his 1972 Chevy Cheyenne as my first car. It was terribly embarrassing but all the cowboys at my high school thought it was cool.
  54. He wouldn’t hold my children until they were at least 6 months old because he feared he’d drop or break them somehow.
  55. When I told him I was getting a divorce, he said, “Well…it’ll be fine. I’m living proof that people survive divorce.”
  56. He could eat a metric ton of air-popped popcorn. Dry, flavorless, air-popped popcorn. He actually makes it in a brown paper sack in the microwave. I think it’s cause he loves crunchy things.
  57. He loves spray butter. I broke his heart a little when I let him know that even though the bottle says 0 calories per spray, there are about 900 calories in the whole bottle.
  58. His love of popcorn pales in comparison to his love for sugar-free Jello. He buys the stuff 40 boxes at a time.
  59. When I was 19 he flew to Vegas (where I was living) and drove my broke-ass home, then let me live with him for months until I was back on my feet.
  60. He doesn’t ask people how they are. He says, “Hey man! Whattaya know?!”
  61. He has a damn fine handshake.
  62. And enormous hands. Thank God my mom had small hands so that I can at least buy gloves at the normal people store.
  63. His shoe size is 14. Unfortunately that translated into me *not* being able to buy shoes at the normal people store. I don’t hate him for that, though, because….
  64. He’s the most generous person I know and I hope to learn how to keep my own heart that open until I’m at least 64.

I thought this might be difficult but I think I could do 65 more next year. He’s rad. Happy birthday, Daddy! (Yes, I still call him Daddy. I figure if my aunts in their 50/60s can refer to their father as Daddy, then so can I. It’s a rural Southern thing.)

Food Science

So….my son and I started a little project earlier this year.

His favorite meal is a plate of plain pasta, cut up fruit and maybe some shredded cheese. Homeboy likes to keep things simple and while I would love for him to keep that life skill, I do think he needs to branch out with regards to his nutrition. And by branch out I mean Eat Things That Are Green But Are Not Candy.

Thus….the Scientific Journal was born!

I told him that he needed to eat vegetables so that he could grow up strong and healthy. He was hesitant in every way a typical 7 year old would be, but after hearing The Plan he was on board, or at least as on board as a 7-year-old skeptic could be.

The Plan: We would go to Whole Foods every couple of weeks to gather specimens. He would pick a new vegetable to try and pick a vegetable or fruit for ME to try. Then, we would take our specimens home for cooking, testing and journaling.

On our outing he picked broccoli for himself and dinosaur kale for his mom. See…his hook, his tipping point, was that he could pick ANYTHING for Mom to eat. The uglier the better, I suspect. He chose Dinosaur Kale for Mom. Broccoli for himself.

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We decided that trying it in three different preparations would give us a good idea of what broccoli would be. Raw, steamed and sauteed/seared is what we went with.

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I was sure to have him help cook.

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In the end, he had a preference.

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With all the business this year, we haven’t journaled very much since this first experiment (we’ve only added purple potatoes to the list), but looking forward to more. I assume that as a result of this project, he now will eat broccoli in any simple form but preferred it to be a little bit roasty/toasty.

Cousins!

Last weekend was the final weekend I’d have my kids before they start the school year. A few weeks ago I realized I hadn’t seen my niece and nephew since Christmas and they only live 90 minutes away. It was the hail mary of summer getaways and a TOTAL SCORE!

I rented a hotel room in Tulsa that had a small, indoor waterpark. I asked for the highest floor they had with two queen beds. We stayed in 1010 on the 10th floor (though, I will tell you that the hotel went to 11).

Our hotel goes to 11

I took four kids (7, 7, 10 & 11) thrifting and to lunch at Chuy’s. Then after 2.5 hours of hardcore swimming, chasing, splashing and tattling, we retired to 1010 on 10 for lots of Disney Channel and a profane amount of Mazzio’s delivery.

Sunday was breakfast AT the hotel (which the kids thought was pretty dern cool), a little more thrifting and then a movie! The boys and I went to the new Ice Age movie in 3D and I let the girls go alone to the Katy Perry movie. We even hung out in the Cinemark arcade afterwards for photos, games and prizes. Then….more food! Smashburger followed by Jamba Juice!

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My heart is full. Very proud of the kids they are and are becoming.

The next chapter

Last week we went to a party thrown by a friend of ours who was honoring the notion of The Next Chapter. She’s been through a major life change recently and noticed that a few of her friends had, too. Is there a better reason to have a party? Nope!

Among many things, she provided a craft to keep the theme going. We were to tear a page out of an old book and write the first page to our next chapter. Then, we slide it into a nifty fridge magnet and voila!

next chapter

I’ve been absent from my blog for the past several months. A million things have kept me away (that may or may not be named, pending free time to write about them), but one major one has been the decision to blend families.

We’ve known about this intention for a long time, relatively speaking, but didn’t rush into moving in together the moment the idea came to mind. Plus, I owned a (not big enough) house. Actually, I owned two (one was my childhood home I’d inherited when my mother died. After 20 years, we finally sold it last summer). And we needed to find a house spacious enough to fit the physical and emotional needs of our families. And I needed a big kitchen.

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Check!

It’s been a loooooong six months. Lots of painting, cleaning, mowing, hauling, purging and crying. Stalking houses and imagining futures is fun. Touring houses is a little less fun. Narrowing the field is even less fun. Making the offer isn’t any fun at all. Negotiating the contract and hiking through the process is work. Dealing with The Person Who Shall Not Be Named* was the drag to end all drags. Waiting for repairs to get scheduled and completed sucks. Waiting for an official close date is hell. It feels like everyone I’ve made eye contact with in the last 2 months wants a check for $300.

Ditto for most of that on the house I’m selling…though this process has been a bit easier than the house we’re buying.

Add to that the hopes and fears that come along with starting a Next Chapter. We both have a boy and a girl. We both survived divorces that came at the end of 10 year marriages. We love food and wine and music and each other immensely. But like any couple, we have The Fear. I could go into The Fear, but I digress…

I’m at my wits end. No, really I am. I’ve been stressing out on just about any given topic for months. I look older. I feel older. I’ve had a headache for a week. My mood has more swings than an amusement park. I’m constantly distracted. My thoughts are muddled. I can’t pull out of my driveway without having to put my car back in park and go into my house for a forgotten item — sometimes twice! I can pep talk myself in a thousand different directions but there’s no getting around that I’m depressed more than I’m not. There’s lots of carbs and very little intentional exercise in my life. I’m too tired to exercise (no, really). I’m whiney. As you can tell.

I’m more than ready to get to the next chapter. I’m exhausted of this one. I want to move on and live in peace. I posted this song during my separation and divorce on an old blog I kept during my stay-at-home-mom years. I love Patty. Really love her. Got to tell her that to her face last year through happy (crazy person) tears. I’ve lived this song. I’m beyond the walls of the fortress and I’m ready for the bird of peace to come in for landing.

*a person in our home buying process that has given me at least three fresh gray hairs. My poor realtor is handling this human from now on. Let him get the gray hairs. 🙂

The Routan Clan

Recently, we took a trip to the Wichitas and my buddy let us borrow a Volkswagen van…

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No, not that one. This one:

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When my boyfriend and I are together with the kids there’s a grand total of six that can only be transported in two cars. We were thrilled to borrow the Routan SE which had all sorts of bells and whistles to keep the chatter rolling all the way to Lawton. My son (age 7) was so enamored that the next time I picked him up from school after returning the Routan he had this defeated look on his face. “You took it BACK?” Yes, yes I did….just like I said I would. 😉

We made the trip from OKC to Lawton in 90 mintes, give or take to enjoy a day of hiking, climbing and at least one picnic. The Wichita Wildlife Refuge did not fail to deliver. Upon arriving at the base of Mt. Scott we had a quick lunch then wound up the corkscrew road to the top. My son was off in a flash, recklessly climbing up and jumping off of boulders. Clayton’s son was busy wandering around with his photgrapher’s eye capturing all kinds of magic. I was trying to do the same but it’s hard to focus on focusing when your focus is plunging from boulders with a giggle and a wink.

We drove around the refuge and park taking in the views of prairie dog reservess, herds of bison and  wandering longhorns. One of my favorite (and totally accidental) captures was this:

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Those are my two teenage friends staring in wonder at wildlife we’d stopped to gaze upon in our travels through the nature reserve. It was just a longhorn…but he was really close and totally alone. Twas a tranquil site.

We hiked through some interesting places that I never knew existed in Oklahoma. Cannot wait to go back! If I can get the other photog to send me a link I’d love to share his vantage on our day. For now, here are mine: Flickr Slideshow.