“You should never hesitate to trade your cow for a handful of magic beans.” ~ Tom Robbins

An Evening in Berkley by Vagelisf (deviantart)

                                      

“Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.” ~ William Cullen Bryant

Autumn Mirror by Zsolt Zsigmond of realitydream

It’s been a week of perfect autumn weather: brilliant skies, mild temperatures, and vivid colors everywhere. I love days like these as they tend to fill me with a sense of calm, a rare and delightful treat for my psyche.

Fall used to herald boots-and-sweaters season for me, but not so much any more as I no longer need to get dressed for work, the one aspect of a full-time job that I can sincerely say that I miss terribly (probably the only aspect)

I’m back home full-time now. I stop in on my mother after taking Brett to school each day. She is slowly retaking her house, which is to be expected, and she spends more time sitting than lying down, a sure sign that she feels better. The next big step is driving, which she says that she is ready to do; I know that she is eager to be out of the house on her own, but I don’t think that she’s considering what might happen if she has to slam on her brakes. Just saying.

“Our world—don’t you just feel we’re becoming more fragmented? I used to think that when I got older, the world would make so much more sense. But you know what? The older I get, the more confusing it is to me. The more complicated it is. Harder. You’d think we’d be getting better at it. But there’s just more and more chaos. The pieces—they’re everywhere. And nobody knows what to do about it.” ~ Rachel Cohn, Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist

This Fall (Part II) by Zsolt Zsigmond of realitydream

Corey and I are working on the house (in the house?). For several weeks he has been shampooing the remaining living and dining room carpet (as in the carpet yet to be ripped up, revealing the hardwood floors that need to be refinished). I’m not sure how cleaning the carpets could turn into a month-long endeavor, but somehow my charming spouse has managed to do just that. I’ve made him vow to have all of the furniture back in place by the end of the weekend as I cannot begin a holiday week with everything in such disarray.

In the meantime, I need to switch t-shirts for sweaters, and summer night shirts for winter pj’s,  and sandals for boots, which (of course) involves several other steps and lots of shifting as our home has 1950’s closets, i.e., not even close to walk-in. And when I came back from my mother’s house, I pitched a pile of hanging clothes on one of the dining room chairs that is currently sitting in the middle of the living room, and I have yet to sort through that morass as just walking through the obstacle course that is my house is too daunting.

In other words, our house is completely wrecked, and it’s making me very stressed and a wee bit testy. While I was at mom’s, I got in the habit of keeping everything very clean and tidy, which is easier in her house as she is not in the midst of a major home remodeling project that had to be abandoned when Corey lost his lucrative tugboating job—over two years ago. So I have become accustomed to neat and tidy, and the return to chaos is more than a bit unnerving.

“Fate is like a strange, unpopular restaurant filled with odd little waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don’t always like.”  ~ Lemony Snicket

Yellow by Zsolt Zsigmond of realitydream

Of course, the complaints about chaos are completely gratuitous as I would not recognize my life if it were not constantly imbued with chaos, disorder, and entropy.

But speaking of Corey and jobs, he is still waiting for his contact at Company X to get back to him. I know that we’ve heard this story before, but this time, there actually seems to be a hint of truth to it. Company X did buy a new boat and land a new contract, so we’ve moved beyond the this may happen stage into the we’re definitely interested in having you on one of our boats stage.

The best aspect—the one that makes this situation so much better than the Vane Brothers wait-and-see situation—is that Corey went from the introduction phase to the two-hour interview phase in a matter of weeks.

No hope-pinning, but hopeful waiting, at least.

“Time folds you in its arms and gives you one last kiss, and then it flattens you out and folds you up and tucks you away until it’s time for you to become someone else’s past time, and then time folds again.” ~ Margaret Atwood

A Moment in Time 2 by Zsolt Zsigmond of realitydream

                  

So here we are: Brett’s first semester of college will be ending in a month. Eamonn is thinking about joining the Peace Corps (I know. Surprised the hell out of me too). Alexis is still not working and does not appear to be ready to return to work anytime soon, something I try not to ponder too much as my mother is doing enough fretting over the situation for the both of us.

I am approaching December without fulfilling the one goal that I set for myself for 2010, and I am totally unsurprised by that. I am trying to get back into my habit of writing daily and hope to have my own computer back in working order before 2011. Of course, having said that, Corey’s computer is now dying, and we are unsure as to what it needs to be healed. Could be something as simple as a graphics card, or could be something more . . .

We are hoping to have Corey’s truck fixed as soon as Ford gets back to us with the Windstar recall package (don’t remember if I mentioned this or not, but the Windstar was found to be hazardous because of an axle problem, so Ford had to buy it back from us). Meanwhile, they are paying for a rental and we are pricing rebuilt transmissions.

And so it goes. More waiting and hoping and hoping and waiting. Meanwhile, the world spins madly on; the seasons creep into each other relentlessly, and time morphs from second to second, seemingly dragging its heels one moment only to metamorphose in the next instant into a nimble-footed fellow, fleeing from invisible fire.

The only constants remain my unflinching capacity for seeing only the bad in myself, the deep love of my dysfunctional family, the continued delight I receive from my dogs, and my surprising ability to still be moved to tears by nature’s breathtaking beauty.

More later. Peace.

Music by Chris Mills, “Such a Beautiful Thing”

Scattered Thoughts

oak-toad-from-floridan-alaskiana

Oak Toad by Janson Jones from Floridana Alaskiana*

Update on the Current State of Affairs in Our Household:

The Tax Man Cometh

tax-cartoon1I sat down at the computer yesterday afternoon around 2:30. I didn’t get up until 1 a.m. I was doing our taxes using one of the online programs. It was incredibly painful, taxing even (is that where the term originates?). So I e-filed our federal and state returns around 1 in the morning. When I did my error check, I came back with no errors. Hooray for me. I’ll tell you, I was grasping for every single deduction and credit I could find (while staying within the limits of the law!), and even then, we were in the owing category for a while.

This year, we had fewer deductions than last year; couple that with the fact that Corey was on unemployment for most of the year and had no taxes taken out on that, which means that we are getting a much smaller refund. I know a lot of people prefer to break even at tax time because the logic is that you don’t want the government to have your money in an essentially interest-free account during the year. But the fact is, a nice, big refund is like a boon for us. It allows us to do things like go on vacation or put on a new roof or continue to renovate the house. We wouldn’t be able to save otherwise because we always end up tapping into our savings during the year because there are always emergencies.

At one point, we actually did have a nice savings account, but those days are past. I’m hoping that we can get back to saving once Corey gets back to work, but I won’t hold my breath.

Shipping News

rogue-island-tug
The Rogue Island Tug

Speaking of Corey getting back to work, we are going to use part of the refund to pay for another class in the hopes that after this particular class and endorsement, he will be more employable on a wider class of boats. The tug boat industry is so tight right now that jobs are at a premium.

Once he completes this class and joins a different union, we are hoping that he might be able to catch some boats out of the Gulf Coast or even West Coast. The pay is better, and the companies fly their people to and from jobs. Keep your fingers crossed and think good thoughts because we really need this.

The Home Heating Situation

42-15257051I’d like to report that we successfully made it through the coldest part of winter using only space heaters and lots of blankets. We plan to pay off our exorbitant balance with the gas company with the other part of our tax refund. I would really like to stick to that plan and not have to be diverted.

Once we get the natural gas turned back on, that means that Corey can install the whole house hot water system that we’ve had in a box for almost a year. This system is supposed to provide hot water on demand throughout the entire house. I’m really looking forward to that as the electric water heater that we got for the interim sucks big time. Being able to take long hot showers has been an impossibility, and everyone must wait at least a half an hour between showers unless you want a cold shower.

I’ve really missed being able to take a long hot bath without having to boil water to add to the available hot water. It’s more of a pain for Corey than me since he has to tote the hot water into the bathroom, and each time he does, Shakes attacks his toes because he thinks that Corey is bringing in some kind of weapon to hurt me. Shakes is a serious mama’s boy. Have I mentioned that?

The Birthday Boy

angel-wings-tattooSo my oldest son turned 18 yesterday. We were able to take the family out to dinner on Sunday night. It was Corey, me, Eamonn, Brett, and Alexis, which was really nice. Of course, Eamonn’s friend and my pseudo-adopted son Josh came along too. He spends more time at our house than his, but we really don’t mind. He’s a nice kid and fits in with our familial quirkiness really well.

For Eamonn’s birthday present, Brett bought him a Bob Marley t-shirt, which was a big hit. Alexis got him a Scarface poster to hang in his room and a small stuffed penguin (he loves penguins)—both big hits. Corey and I gave him a new silver chain for his cross, only to find out that the cross is broken at the top (another jewelry repair to add to the list), some new studs for his ear, and a handwritten coupon towards a tattoo.

Eamonn envisions having wings put on his back, which I am not opposed to, but that’s something that he’s going to have to pay for as I’m sure that it would be quite costly. But above the wings he wants to put a Latin phrase, which at the moment I cannot recall. We figure our promise of funds will cover the Latin phrase.

Sweet Dreams These Are Not

meye-nightmare1
Meye Nightmare by L. Liwag

I have been having the wildest most violent dreams this past week. I don’t know if this is a side effect of my new migraine medicine, but if it is, I hope that it passes. In one dream I was involved in an altercation that involved a rocket launcher being aimed directly at me, and then lots of stone throwing (symbolic, huh?).

But last night, or rather this morning, I had a very controversy-filled dream that involved all kinds of people. In one part, I was with my friends from ODU Mari and Marty. The three of us used to go to lunch together. Well in my dream, we were shopping for wine and cheese, and then we were going to go to my house to relax. Marty ended up drinking a bottle of wine (she doesn’t drink in real life) and getting very ugly.

The dream continued to the next part in which I was having an argument with my former father-in-law, which never would have happened as he is very laid back, and he stormed out of Alexis’s birthday party. In the dream, she was still a little girl. After he stormed out, I had an altercation with Alexis and hit her repeatedly. Again, this is not something that ever happened or would happen in real life.

I woke up gasping and feeling completely discombobulated. I have to tell you, dreams like those are so unnerving that they stay with me for days, and I probably read too much into them. Why did I dream that? What did that mean? I psychoanalyze myself like crazy, which makes me, well, crazy.

It’s Raining . . . It’s Pouring . . .

its-raining-its-pouring
Rain on the Window Pane by L. Liwag

It has been raining here for seven straight days. What, is this Seattle? The worst part about the rain is that I have to dry off the dogs each time they go out, or they have muddy paws. Occasionally, one of them slips past me when I’m drying off the others, which results in muddy paw prints on my sheets.

Can I just tell you how absolutely annoying that is? I know that I have wiped muddy paw prints off the bed at least four times during this god-awful rain. I’m not about to yank the sheets off every time one of the dogs jumps on the bed with wet paws or I’d be washing my sheets every day. Changing the sheets on a normal basis is a hard enough task for me, what with the bending over.

Our backyard looks like a marsh, and I swear that there is a mud puddle that is at least three inches deep and about four feet long. Of course the dogs walk through this pool of muddy water each and every time they go outside. I know that it’s deliberate because they think that it’s pretty funny to watch me spaz out when they do it. I think that Tillie is the ringleader with the whole puddle thing, but don’t tell Corey because according to him, Tillie can do no wrong.

Well, that’s all of the latest news. Nothing exciting really. Just needed to write about it so that some day I could look back on this and think: Geez you have a boring life . . .

More later. Peace.

*http://floridana.typepad.com/weblog/oak-toad-bufo-quercicus/ 

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Captain Corey
Captain Corey

After being home with me for many long months, my husband is about to go back to work again. We are both conflicted about this change. I know that it is well past time. He has been increasingly antsy and impatient, and we have been sniping at each other over insignificant things since I finished school. It’s not that we don’t enjoy each others company, but he had a mission before when he was out of work: to help me get through school, and that mission has been accomplished. And he has accomplished his own mission–to finish the training that he needed to upgrade his license so that he could get back on a boat. So we both know that it is time. But after being together daily for such a long period, it is going to be quite an adjustment for the whole family.

I used to say that the only reason that my parents stayed married for so long was because my father spent so much time at sea and so little time on dry land. He was in the Navy for 20 years. He retired and tried to work at a job on dry land and hated it, so he joined the merchant marines. He sailed all over the world; his boat was even hit during the Viet Nam war. He worked on big boats until he was 67. He tried to retire when he was 62, but he just couldn’t do it. Not working drove him crazy, so he went back to work for another five years. He finally retired at 67 and spent the last six years of his life fishing and gardening, and he and my mom spent that five years in an uneasy kind of detente. It worked for most of the time, but then there would be flair ups, and I would be the U.N. It was like that for most of my life, but by that point, I had gotten really good at it. But my father was never comfortable anywhere except at sea. Anyone who really knew him, understood that about him.

I wouldn’t say that about Corey. He doesn’t sail on the big boats for months at a time. He is on near coastal tug boats for weeks at a time. That I can handle. I can understand the call of the sea myself. I am comfortable on the water. I love driving over bridges and looking out over the water when Corey is out and imagining where he is at that moment. The sea is alluring and hypnotic. I even toyed with the idea of buying a boat and living on it when I was in college–a Tartan 27′. To this day, I still wish that I had done it, but the more practical side of me won out. But that is why I understand why Corey likes his time on the water and enjoys his job, and I don’t begrudge him that time. I do worry because it isn’t a typical 9 to 5 job in any sense of the word. But I know that’s part of the appeal for him. And so I know that he needs to go back to his boats for himself just as much as he needs to go back to work for the family.

Which brings me to another point. My sons love Corey intensely. He has been there for them since they were in grade school. My older son in particular relates to his step-father very well, and he is at an age at which he would rather go to Corey than me when he has a problem because, well, I am female, and therefore, I supposedly do not know anything about his problems. I understand my son’s reluctance and am glad that he feels this closeness with my husband, his step-dad. It was one of the things that endeared me so much to Corey, how well my children adopted him. That was a prerequisite for my bringing someone into our family in the first place. But it was my oldest son’s easy love for Corey that showed me what kind of man he really was.

The separation from their father was very hard on all of us, and I did not date anyone seriously before Corey. In fact, I only went on a few dates as I really was not looking for nor expecting anything, so my connection with Corey was unexpected and surprising, mostly because of the difference in our ages. I deliberately did not introduce him to my children for a while as I did not know where things were going, but once I did let him get to know my kids, they began to open their hearts to him after their initial trepidation, and he did the same. I won’t try to tell you that the road has not had its bumps and curves because of course, it has. But he has learned from them, and they from him. So when he first started to go to sea, it was an adjustment for all of us, and they would count the days just as I did.

Now that he is going back, part of my anxiety is how Eamonn will act with Corey not at home. I am hoping for the best, but not expecting it. But I will try not to be a pessimist and give Eamonn the benefit of the doubt, so I must wait and see how things play out. Things will be new for all of us. Corey will be with a new company. I will be taking care of my own health problems and the house and the boys. The boys will be handling things with just me, just mom as mediator. And for a few weeks at a time, it will just be the boys, the dogs, and me. I’m sure we’ll be fine, and if not, I’m sure you’ll hear about it . . .