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Fires and Phoenixes June 23, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — gleefulbarbarians @ 5:14 am

Dear Julie,

I’m sorry it’s been so long.  For posterity’s sake, I’ll explain the absence.  I spent last week in Albany to be with Mokey. I saw the post on Friday about her mom dying and again wished I lived in the Northeast.  She’s had such a rough 18+ months that while I know this death is a blessing in some ways, it’s still painful to lose a loved parent.   With Dan’s encouragement, I bought tickets on Priceline (“you will fly between 6am and 10pm” means “your flights will leave at 6am” – FYI), called my mom so I had a place to stay, and flew home.  I left the boys here and Dan managing their busy schedule that we had already sort of organized into two parent tasks (boys had to be at 2 different rinks for hockey things, for example) but he’d reorganized into a one parent job.

I flew out Monday at 6am.  Holy crap that’s early.   I spent that day flying and then being mostly awake at my grandmother’s.  Tuesday I spent with Mokey.  Because of plans my mom had made (and me not renting a car), I had to call Moke and ask her if I could come spend the day with her rather than just showing up at the funeral home.  Being her usual gracious self, she welcomed me and I got to meet the Boyfriend (who seems nice enough – a parent’s funeral is not the best “get to know you” situation, though, is it?).  About 10 camp people showed up at the funeral home and I felt obligated to move to the lobby so that the cheery reunion wasn’t happening in the same room as the mourning.  I saw Kita, the back of Baxter, Randi (she lives 30 minutes away from me here in Phoenix, so it makes perfect sense that we meet up in Albany), Ellen, Ivy, Elsie, Morley, Thor, Zipper, Abu, and probably people I’ve forgotten.    Several of us went to dinner at Grandma’s (yay Pie!) after.

Wednesday was the church service.  I was thankful that the priest knew Mokey’s mom and that he wasn’t  just offering generic comments, but actually talking about Barbara (he also referenced Mokey’s dad).  I called Pun’kin to ask for a crash course in “what does an agnostic do at a Catholic mass?” with the bullet points being “don’t take communion and sit when other people kneel.”  I had thought that prior to that, the last time I attended Catholic Mass was when I was in 4th grade and attended a classmate’s funeral, but I just realized I was also at Pun’kin’s wedding.   I think 4th grade was my last Catholic funeral.   This one I managed much better.    I was invited out to lunch with the family and went.  One of Boyfriend’s friends and I ended up sitting at the kids’ table with two 10 year old boys, which was fine and pleasantly lively.    I said goodbye to Mokey in the parking lot – she had decided to go to work on Thursday and I was leaving (thank you, Priceline) at 6am Friday.

Now with my Thursday open, I decided to call my dad and see if he wanted to get together at some point (thinking “oh please not at night – I’ve gotta be up at 345 or something”).  He was free for lunch.  Yay!  He had a specific place in mind.  Super.  Then he asked if I would bring mom.    Ooooooooooof course.   He had some questions for her about the roof (a huge maple branch went thru the roof of my mom’s house in April – Dad was involved because apparently his name is still on the deed).   To give a little backstory here, my dad moved out of the house when I was 13, so 1986?   My parents got divorced in 1996 maybe?  I can’t remember if I was married yet.  Yeah – that’s 10 years.  Not because things were so complicated that it took 10 years to sort out everything.  No, it took 10 years for one of them to decide to file the paperwork.  My dad had a lady friend (my current step-mother) that whole time.  My mom wouldn’t file because “I don’t wnat to give him what he wants.”  Lovely.   So, there’s this constant weird dynamic with them that I really don’t want to get into right now but suffice it to say I try to keep my time with my dad separate from time with my mom, especially with the kids (mostly so my dad doesn’t have to share them).

Okay, so yeah.  I ask mom if she wants to go to lunch with dad, something about the roof, etc.  She’s immediately defensive, but yeah, she’ll go.   We get to lunch.  Because this whole experience isn’t weird enough, our waitress is……..  oh yes.  My step-mother’s sister.  Oh, and did I mention that my folks were good friends with step-mother and her ex-husband before Deb and Joe got divorced and my dad moved out.  So, I know “Sissy” a little bit, she knows mom, etc.  There’s friendly banter.  I try to not stare at Sissy’s neon pink nail polish (like 80s pink).  Lunch was tasty, I had more pie.  There was talk about the roof…  We left.

I got almost no sleep Thursday night.  I flew back Friday, and then spent the rest of the day being a zombie.  I fell asleep on the couch in the afternoon while Dan took Daniel to hockey practice.  When I was awake, Nicholas was watching something appropriate on TV.  When I woke up 90 minutes later, he was watching King of the Hill (a bit not okay).   Then it was business as usual around here.

Moving on…  We have ficus trees in our backyard which house great tailed grackles.   They’re noisy, and every year we end up with one or two chicks pushed out of the nest too early.  The chicks then spend a good week or two huddled against the brick wall that surrounds our house, chirping like mad while the parents fly food down to them.    At some point the chick fledges (or something?  i can’t remember the exact life cycle of a song bird, so bear with me)  and it starts doing short flights and then finally we no longer have to worry about the crying baby bird in the back yard.    We’ve had the current one for about 2 weeks.  Things were progressing, and the boys had noticed that it had started doing doing some glorified leaps (not quite flying, but getting higher off the ground and flapping).   It had managed to move itself into the back corner (more shade, more protection) so, we seemed to be pretty much on target for being done with this bird.

Tragedy struck some time early this morning, though, and Baby Bird was found in our pool.  Daniel was pretty matter of fact about the whole thing (and was probably secretly glad that he didn’t have to worry about hitting it while playing ball hockey in the backyard).  Nicholas, however, has been sad on and off all day.  This afternoon he told me he was glad he had more time with Baby Bird than Calvin had had with the baby raccoon (from a Calvin and Hobbes comic).  After dinner I was getting gloved up to deal with the bird and Nicholas had a bout of sobbing (followed by a bout of vomiting).  He didn’t want to watch the clean up (and I’m thankful he didn’t want a burial – Phoenix ground in June is rather firm), and went to bed okay.  Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.

Today we set a dollar bill on fire after soaking it in a mix of Everclear and water.  It was pretty exciting here in the kitchen – we lit it several times and lit the dish of liquid on fire as well.   This was a much better end to our science year than last year when we did Earth Science and Astronomy.  The last couple of lessons were all about digging thru the dirt and looking for things in it.  I just scrapped the last several.    Our dirt isn’t lovely dark soil with things living in it.  It’s concrete hard sand.  Grass doesn’t grow in it.   I think next year will be physics.  Ramps!  Pulleys!

On the reading front:  I read “Talk of the Town” on your recommendation and it was better than I had expected.  I also managed to read “The Wedding Girl” and I finished listening to “A Game of Thrones” (but I know I didn’t pay complete attention to the end, I was too busy being dumbstruck by several events that had happened).  I started listening to “There’s A (Slight) Chance I Might Be Going To Hell” and I’m also reading “A Desirable Residence.”   In the car the boys and I are listening to the second Harry Potter book (we’re at the end, so a specific Phoenix has featured), and they’re listening to “A Dog’s Life” in the house.  I couldn’t begin to tell you what they’re reading.  Nicholas often has about 5 books open around the house, and he’s been reading this “Children’s Atlas of the World.”   He had to start singing “Africa” by Toto the other day after looking at a map and seeing Kilimanjaro labeled.  Because, you know, Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti.    I’ve just realized that book titles should be in italics or underlined, not quotes.  I’m not going back to change it.  Thank you for understanding.

I need to comment on some of the things in your last post, but I don’t think I can manage it tonight.  Maybe next time.

Oh!  And I’m nearly done with the back of my sweater.  I now know I will ALWAYS get less knitting done than I think I will.  Always.  I’m nearly delusional about what I think I can get done, and since I can’t rip holes in the space/time continuum, it would be nice if I could remember this truism.  But I won’t.  And when we go to the east coast next month, I’ll bring knitting enough to last me 6 months.

And finally: it is a bad idea to make roasted chicken and veggies on the hottest day on record for this year.  It was 115 today apparently.  I had the oven at 425 for nearly an hour.    I am insane.

Finally cooling off,










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