Visitors and powerless

100_3784“I’m going to find us a hotel for the night with a suite so Liza can get to bed early.” That’s what I told Grandpa.  He said okay.  The third day with no electricity, no running water and the refrigerator full of spoiled food.  “Nine people for dinner, five are kids. Five grand kids; five and under.” is how I like to say it. I’ll tell the hotel restaurant. “I’ll be sure there’s an indoor pool or jacuzzi.” I tell Grandpa.

What?  he asks.  Oh come on, what else will all these kids do? Good idea, he concedes, cooperatively. Your cousins, Ella, Kalen and Lyndsey and Uncle Ariel and Auntie Tab are visiting from Colorado.  Tab’s mom lives in town on the westside and that’s the home base this time. This house is a bit too small for all of us, of course.  Maybe next year we’ll have the big house.

You are excited.  You say that you want to go swim and play.  I can’t find an ad that features an indoor pool. This is California after all. Then I try to call.  The temporary phone (the one that doesn’t require electricity) is on the fritz.  Some of the numbers don’t connect.  UGH.  Liza cries because she wants to throw our final battery light in outage frustration, and you want Little Bear on Nick Jr and nothing works. Maybe Liza thinks if she throws the flashlights then we will have to start using that wall switch for light again. How come the juice is wine grandma?  You spit. Oh, dear, its gone bad, too.  I want electricity, you shout outside into the rain and wind.  Well, aren’t we spoiled?  Yes.  We all want our comforts. I want to wash my hands. At least the wood stove keeps us warm. There are still a few sticks of dry wood. I search for a hotel phone number that doesn’t include 4’s or 5’s, the broken number buttons.

Its stinky in here you tell me, coughing.  I cough and notice smoke, and see creosote drooling down the wood stove pipes dripping onto the tiles.  Black goo burns a stream of smelly smoke so we put on jackets and open the windows.  Where are you Grandpa? We sing into the night. When he returns sissy’s asleep, and the breezy living room confuses him.  The stove pipes were put on on upside down, he explains.  Creosote usually burns off and dries in the flue, he tells you. “Grandma, I have the flu because something sticky got in the woodstove.  That’s why I am coughing.” you struggle to understand your raw, raspy voice.   Let’s just go to bed!  And we do.

Check in time at the Hilton in Scotts Valley is at 2.  You are in school until 3 and Liza’s with Gina; Ella (5 1/2), Kalen (3 1/2) and Lyndsey (2 on Sat.) and their parents come up for a jacuzzi party and dinner.  We sleep okay, eat breakfast and return to electricity! Yahoo.  Then the Colorado cousins come over for lunch and bring their own food since so much of ours is rotten.  I cried as I cleaned it all out and tossed it away.  You had a tough day at school, spitting, Gina said.  So they want to put a spitoon in the classroom.  Just do not spit.  Is that respecting an impulse?  NO. The impulse is something more complex, not a spitting impulse (unless you have Tourette’s).  Do you? Its using spitting behavior to carry out an impulse -maybe friendship play, who can be silly, what can we all do? what to do when frustrated, mad or a behavior that arose instead of hitting.  Spitting is not part of most of our daily lives and so the behavior is not allowed unless its in the toilet or sink. Right? (Unless you are a nurse on the pulmonary ward)  You can say silly words….make them up, clap together, stomp, whatever redirection has to occur that fits the age, children and situation.  Spitting at a person is aggressive.  Spitting on the floor or on things is inappropriate. Spitoons are not the answer unless the child’s family uses them regularly.  Yours doesn’t.  And we aren’t professional ball players, either.  My goodness!?

I am really cranky.  Even though the power came back on.  I guess mine didn’t. I am so tired all the time.  Can’t seem to get Liza her nap except when we stay at home and so she returns cranky and I get irate at her noodle tossing, flashlight throwing, dog-ear pulling, slapping you and flinging backwards, crying behaviors. She’s just fricken sleepy most of the time. I get it.  And I am done in by it.  As I am also sleepy but because of Metro’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 am wakeful pees. On the weekends and days at home Liza sleeps daily four to 5 hours divided between two naps and all night 6:30 pm-5:30 am.  She functions much better when I am in charge. Everything goes better with me in charge.

The tile is going into three baths and the kitchen, but the ADHD tile-setter has a floor, half shower, partial wall and wainscoting done between three of the baths with boxes, pieces and powdery and sluggish grout and mortar everywhere! In the upstairs bedroom, downstairs hall, Master bedroom sample layouts and the kids playroom.  But the painter and his crew is there to finish primer and begin color coat 1 and has to struggle around all the debris.  I calmly explain, ask him to pick up.  Tell them to move whatever they need to and then finally discover that tile man took another job next week.  We get a reprieve.  I feel embarrassed for him as I describe what areas should look like when he leaves on Friday.  The painters can work in peace next week. But the carpenter had a breakdown during his 10 day retreat and we had to bring back the expensive one (wonderful, too) to do what the neighbor was going to do.  And he’ll leave us on our own tomorrow to get back to his other job.  I’ll figure out how to move an electric box a few inches, build a linen closet door and frame, get the tub in place (all 2000 lbs of it) and meanwhile keep sissy away from the upstairs room with no railings and shoo Metro out of the painters’ lunch bags.

Grandpa is gone a lot.  Enough said.  Work in L.A. (I’d go for him), in the shop, putting in the speakers, late over at the office next door.  Wonder if Liza’s tossing the flashlights, me yelling or blasting TV with Little Bear contribute to his absence.  Glad we never had teeny kids together!  ugh.

Oh, wait, we do!

Vomit pushes at my chest, rises up and recedes every time I speak to your mommy. I feel sick about her situation.  Compassion for how hard it must be for her losing her children, being unwell, and not having a job or teeth.  But then I mix in some sad and anger at her for not staying enrolled in classes, not getting to class on the bus, but asking daddy to drive out there and madder that he does. He can’t work because he has to drive her around? Furious that they have no firewood because they didn’t go get it and sneaked in a heater (in a tent, no less) that skyrocketed our electric bill, and that AT and T allowed them to have long distance without my say-so on a phone I pay for and furious that mommy can’t get figure out how to get help finding any job. She asks your Grandpa Pete for motel room money and he calls me about it.  Mad that they just now realized that food stamps needed to be reduced when you left the tent and now they are cut off and worried that they are cold and hungry and so helpless and concerned that we have a society that cannot help her. And sad, furious and worried and frustrated that she truly is helpless and your daddy is too, but in a different way.  And sick that I  will not help them anymore.  And disgusted about the crazy situation that allows me to remodel and them to starve. Big things that don’t make sense, sit between my shoulder blades.  That’s where I carry your mom and dad.  Good thing I carry you and Liza in front, buddy. Near my heart. gma

A lion, dresses, snot and noodles

You fill me with wonder, reflect me, my very words, ideas, loves and then add your own.  Liza, too. She speaks a little Spanish, says much of what we say to her and in the way only babies can, reminds us who we are. We have relationships, the four of us, each of us and all of us.  I watch you slip into Grandpa’s lap and snuggle in close.  Liza joins you, a pile of sharp elbows, knees and hard noggins. Warm, loving relationships.  Can’t complain about that.  We are necessary for one another’s well-being.  Interdependent.  Fortunate. I dreamed that a lion crept into the yard, a African lion, frighteningly stalking low to the ground. She lifted Liza into the air with her snaggled claws and caught her between two sets of sharp teeth. This occurred as I ran to scoop you up and toss you into the car-to safety. I awakened in the darkness breathing heavily and had to look in on you. On Liza. We all have work to do to keep one another safe.

This week you hit your teacher at rest time telling her to leave you alone.  We talked about it and then Gina came to observe the classroom and talked to your teachers about what she saw that might help you be successful in interactions, causing less stress release at nap and before.  I think you were too tired.  You have had trouble getting to sleep and have begun to be afraid of things-the dark, sounds, falling, etc.  You have grown a lot, started writing your name backward after months of forward.  Your brain is re-organizing for development. You say rhymes and sing silly made up songs all the time.  You are growing, shifting and changing-your brain, body and spirit-mind are changing.  Now that you are feeling more settled, I think you might be ready to manage some stored up feelings.  Who knows?  The teachers say they want to hang in there with us.  That’s good.

Your uncle AJ started his new job today.  He’s in Brazil in Santa Catarina, a beach city called Balneario, Camboriu.  The nearest international airport is in Florianopolis.  He is teaching English to high school students.  He has four of five classes a day, five days a week.  He just got his own classroom and it has all the bells and whistles of a “smart classroom” at a college.  He showed the family pictures, asked them to tell about their families, then used Google Earth to locate our house for the classes and next time they will each locate their houses or apartments and tell about them in English.  He is learning about lesson planning, how long activities take and how to anticipate, give time for group discussion and move on if there isn’t any. He prepares for each class on his own.  Hmmm.  Maybe he’ll come home to teach. This, the guy who always said, “I’m not going to do what my mom does.  I definitely need more money than that!”  I want to go visit now that he has stable work.  Wonder how that can happen?  10 days away?

Egg noodles stick to walls, cupboards and floors way better than semolina style pasta.  Really good. The wide egg noodles that are wonderful with chicken and broccoli, are Liza’s favorite (she used to eat them) and I just decided to stop cooking them. I got caught in a battle of wills and would not let go over this tossing food topic.  Not just because it kills our old dog, wastes food and all, but because she looks at me, grabs a handful and pitches it at the cupboard, hard! Then waits.  You threw the noodles, I say through gritted teeth. Again, I see you wonder if I will tell you again, so I will “please eat the noodles or get out of your chair, be all finished”. Here’s a warm hand cloth, “splat” at the cupboard.  Grandpa sat at the computer, you ate and told Liza, stop throwing food, Metro will get sick.” That was last month’s gma logic.  Logic is gone, fury takes charge.  I am washing your hands and face, getting you away from the food and out of the kitchen.  I struggle not to heave her out the door.  I put her on the floor. (with the piled up cold filthy floor and peeled off cupboard stuck noodles in front of her.  You can eat down here with your noodles or go away. Out of the kitchen.  I can’t tell her to go play.

Now I I hope she never has any fun again in her entire life. I want those scuzzy, dog-hair noodles mashed into her hair.  I’m glad I have witnesses to keep me honest, because a hot bath, I consider, would melt it all away should I fall to such horrid impulses. Noodles can go down the pipes and into the septic tank, yes? How about bad babies?Bad dogs?  Uh oh, bad grandmas?

I got your sister a few little dresses on sale the other day, got them home and realized I have no place to hang them.  I have lived with boys for too many years.  They are jammed on a coat hook for now and since they are a little big and its cold outside, I will refrain from dressing her up.  But if she is going to plaster her dinner on the kitchen surfaces that I have to kneel to clean up, she is going to put on a dress and at least look as sweet as the tiny cotton prints, as styling as the footless cotton tights I found and as harmless as the light little rows of ruffles on this one in particular.

Okay, I had to put it on, but just for a few minutes. Just before the wet sneeze that she directed at me.  grmmama


I looked under the bed, the bean bag chair with the pink flowers and the one with imprinted with zebras and elephants.  I was trying to find it.  Any indication that it still exists. On my knees, back bent, butt in the air, ear to the floor. It wasn’t there.  After looking in all the obvious places, I checked the mirror. Oddly, it wasn’t there either. It’s me that’s gone. I’m dis-the-peered, as you say about something gone and un-findable. But be assured, buddy, you can still see me, feel gma and can always depend on this gma’s love and attention.  But unknown to you, the cozy and kind shell of your grandma is empty, it seems as though all of her innards have been placed out of reach in an unknown location. I lost my self, buddy. And can’t find me. It’s my work, no one else can find one’s self. So if I am preoccupied this week, please understand I am on a private and harried journey; going within with rabid worry and fearing not finding what I seek.  But I will check all the crooks and crannies, nooks and nannies, books and panties. You just go on an play, my precious, and be kind to your sister.

It not the first time I’ve been lost, misplaced, gotten invisible. And I know others who get lost on a regular basis, I know some that have never been found and others that remain the walking lost unaware that seeking is a possibility.  I say this, as if evoking Shel Silverstein. It’s part of life.  Is life, maybe. I’m jabbering to fill the air and this space with tiny black marks that put sounds in our heads, ideas in our hearts splashing ink all over the damn place.  Do you even know what ink is? I spin stories in busy pulsing minds; proving that I’m not totally gone, just some essential pieces misplaced, in crisis; still able to talk in public in a nice gma voice.  Who am I now?  That’s the question. What do I do? Does it matter? And do I matter to myself? Reassurance from outside this sugared shell steeps into a crusty grandma goodness, basting it in the sweetest of juices. Friends’ support and words of wisdom help maintain a sweet old grandma for you. A commodity, like bread, laundry detergent, bought for the lap, embraces, attention, and dependable supply of support. I’m a set services offered at all hours, anytime and always to you and your sister,  But, like a breast feeding mother, get sucked away, until inside, I’m barely here.

I wonder if a core can dissolve and disappear and go the way of a solid block of mineral salts in the pasture, licked at for months then surprisingly is just not there one day? The horse stops at the spot to visit daily then one day doesn’t anymore. The space becomes empty space. For the sake of nurturing the horse the mineral block is licked to gone-ness; but, absorbed.  Absorbed into hooves, mane and coat with maybe a little peed out. Used up, gone, but not useless, just changed form. Has my self been absorbed, I wonder? Into what? Components of my wobbly jelly-core seep in then fan out, further each time, like the sea. Catch me up, examine me or I slip away, sticking to the sandy shore an invisible mass.  Un-discoverable; a changeling.

I”ll check into the Hilton in Scotts Valley.  I read that it needs business. Its lovely inside, stacked rock fireplace, chandeliers, an artificial palace chock-full of beds, food and housekeepers.  The perfect escape.  I’ll take grandma with me and get her some rest.  I’m sure that someone will find you and toss you a couple of cookies, draw you a bath, remind you to wipe your butt and read you stories. Just for a couple of days, until the shock of being gone passes, I’ll rest.  Until the crust cools and the sore back eases.  I’ll invite my friends and we’ll climb into big beds with fluffy linens to rock, and sing and make up stories.  The healing can’t begin until I lay there awhile; all alone, and climb around in the emptiness.  Examine it.

When I check out, I’ll bring you the unused portions of complimentary products; soap, shampoo, lotion, tiny jars of jam with checkered lids and miniature bottles of Tabasco Sauce.  Or maybe I won’t bring you anything.  I’ll be over that by then.  Lovingly, gma

(Dreaming about spending a wickedly wonderful weekend away from you.  Or I’ll completely go nuts!) This was just a little bit nuts.

Toddler for Sale-Best Offer

1 toddler, 5 1/2 hands, unruly mane, barefoot preferred, currently tail-less, but nonetheless fancy, aged 18 mos, smallest of two youngsters currently available to eligible family or capable individual making the best offer. New family must be able to tolerate inconsistent and annoying behaviors; random and constant noise, crying, screeching, hair pulling, pinching, cleaning boogery face on fresh linens, pants and in your lap, tossing food onto floor, sprinkling milk from sippy cup on shiny, clean surfaces, grandma’s shoes and grandpa’s chair, stepping on the dogs legs until they react, and crying when they do, falling down hills when pulling away from grandma’s hand, getting bloody knees, palms, and screaming again; wanting whatever someone else has, and right now, eating dog food, fuzz and unfamiliar leaves in yard, screeching all the way to town in the car seat despite singing every children’s song remembered with made up strange, sometimes mean words, then she falls finally asleep as we pull into parking lot.  Her grandma cries. She takes her off shoes every single car ride, tossing them as far as they go to the right, left, a sock a shoe hidden for days someplace under the seats, and then when you go to the store for a back up set of shoes that velcro up around the ankle, tie, buckle and padlock, she knocks the display over trying to play peek-a-boo with sibling, cries goobers that flow to her chin and consoles herself by wiping face dry on a valor sweater on display.

She’s currently blonde on top, but sports an inadequate supply of hair to keep her head warm, refuses hats, flinging them off to the side of the road to be lost forever.  Her feet haven’t grown much in months and she’s rather small overall, a compact unit not requiring much food or drink, and fickle about culinary choices, deciding she hates noodles after batch of homemade pasta taking hours to create was set before her with fresh whirled pesto she loved just yesterday.  She feeds it to the dog even though warned repeatedly not to or he’ll DIE, I scream.  So she says DIE as she feeds him. She loves her night-nights but is sensitive to the slightest sound, so the family must be prepared to leave the house, turn off phones and let her have the place for an hour and a half or the remainder of the day will be filled with growling, screeching crying and flings to the ground, flat on her back regardless of location. And then she really won’t eat a thing just to spite you. Except for the dead fly in the corner. That she gobbled up.

Last week on one occasion (and it was thankfully on the lawn but unfortunately I’d not yet cleaned up the dog’s droppings) she flinged or is it flung? herself down flat in protest.  That’s another thing, family must be able to do many loads of laundry weekly as everyone’s clothing will need more frequent laundering for maybe another five or six years until she can do her own. Just describing her, I have brought down my expectations of recovering my initial investment. Will consider trade for vacation rental, spa membership and am considering throwing in our old farty dog, whom she adores.  Please call after 6 am but before the morning nap at 9 am, after 11 but before afternoon nap at 2 then after 4:30 but not after 6:30 pm.  Or just email back your application with a deposit securing your place in the cue.  gma