All Else…

All else should stand aside
When gentle days of spring arrive
In the warmth of light remembered
There are weeds to pull
Seeds to plant
And sun in which to bask in joy

Tomorrow, stark fingers of winter
May yet reach out
To pull ragged, greying clouds
Across the sun
Plunging one and all behind
A veil of grim and mist

All else should stand aside
As spring days shine
Today is golden daffodils
Tulips newly budding
Purpose fresh and burgeoned
Hope and heart’s breath

Tomorrow is…. tomorrow

-kelley green

No Clever Title Available

Okay…I’m going to post just to whine again…so if you can’t stand it, stop reading now.

I’ve just spent the past six weeks either in doctors’ offices, hospitals, undergoing ‘procedures’, or contemplating (worrying) about one of those.  All for the almighty Medical to tell me that the mass they saw on the sono was just scar tissue from my c-sections and the bleeding/pain/general crap I’m experiencing is due to the medication I’m on that’s supposedly keeping my cancer from reasserting itself.  Arg.  What idiot came up with a cancer medication (for breast cancer) that can cause cancer (uterine and ovarian) as a side effect and thought that was a good idea?

I’m betting that the number of cancer patients that become alcoholics or rampant drug users is sky high, at least for those of us that are looking at this as a living for the next 20 years or so (if we’re lucky).  And what is the lovely, all-knowing, Medical going to tell me to do about it?  I’ve got 5 more months on this medication and they’re going to tell me that since it isn’t causing more cancer, I should just deal.

I’m going to have another cider.



Hearken Back….

to the good ole days.  When a woman went for a job and was told “Why’d you want to do that Ma’am?  You should be home tending to those children.”  This is how my afternoon went today.

I have been living here for the past couple of years and I have finally come to enough of an agreement with my life that I felt like I could apply for a part-time position.  Yes…an actual money job, rather than just the hugs and kisses payment arrangement I have with my family.  The local yarn store was hiring for a two day a week position that seemed ideal.

Most of you will know that I knit a bit. (Laugh long and loud.)  In fact, my daughter takes delight in showing her friends where all the yarn in the house lives.  In that big trunk…and that drawer…and that drawer, too…oh and those boxes over there, etc.  My husband and son just smile and nod.  They like the socks. I’ve been fibernetic for a while now and I’ve even done a bit of teaching and I’ve been seriously involved with my LYS (local yarn store) since it opened about a year ago.  So when the position was announced, I threw in my hat.  Of course, I spoke to Sam first as it would mean him picking up the kids two afternoons a week, but we do that anyway, so no problem.  The interview went well.  And then I got the call today…

Seems Ms.Proprietor decided that she wouldn’t feel right ‘taking me away from my children’ and was concerned that my having ‘young kids’ could cause conflicts.  I did tell her, when asked in the interview, that my husband works from home and has no problem getting the kids twice a week and that my in-laws live just half a mile from us so they could help out as well.  She then proceeded to spread around all sorts of platitudes about what a lovely person I am and how our ‘relationship’ was really important to her, etc.

I was offended. (How’s that for putting a thing mildly?)  For one thing, I’m a fairly tentative person socially, so when I put myself out in the world it’s a fairly large thing that I’ve thought out beforehand.  If I wasn’t prepared to cope with the job and fitting it into the rest of my world, I wouldn’t have applied.  For another, what she said and the way she said it actually constitute sexual discrimination in this country.  It’s illegal to deny a woman work because she has the primary care of children.  Being discriminated against is bad enough.  Being discriminated against by another woman is just really wrong.

And at the end of the day, I was completely in tears because it’s knit night and I didn’t feel like I could be there.  At the one place where I’ve actually managed to feel like I was fitting myself into the world in a positive way for me.  That just makes me angry all over.

Beyond the Windswept Prairie

England.  Settled is far from the word of the day, but we’re here.  I  didn’t believe all the books, articles, people and sites that said it would take 12 weeks from offer to get into our new house.  It took longer.  Not only is there a lot more red tape (red rope, red blankets, red wall)  we had issue with the seller.  First, our seller was officially non-compos mentis.  An older gentlemen, who had just been moved to an assisted living facility, was far from able to oversee the dispersion of his estate.  Therefore, we ended up dealing with his sons. They were a bit…um..absent.  First, no one could remember where the deeds were located.  This is a wee problem.  A week goes by and finally they’re unearthed.  Then, Goddess bless him, the actual owner passed away. We were sad for him and for his family.  We understood that they would need extra time to handle details, mourn, and go through probate.  We really did understand.  Finally, there were the solicitors.  They had to talk.  They had to exchange. They had to agree.  All the time, I’m calling everyday and saying, “What’s the bleeding hold-up now?”  Finally, we’re down to the wire.  We’re supposed to exchange contracts on Friday the 19th of September and the sons say they want to wait another week because they might not have time to go and get all of the furniture out of the house.  This is the point at which I lost patience (imagine that).  I spoke to the solicitor.  I spoke to the selling agent.  She said, “They really can’t get over there this week to do it.”  I say, “That sounds like a personal problem.”  She says, “I’m really not sure there’s much I can do.” I say, “I’m really getting pissed off now.”  She says, “I’m sure I understand.” I assured her that she had no idea.  And, lo and behold, we closed on Friday the 19th of September.  Amazing what getting a bit ticked with people will do for you.

Then the fun began.  Try, I dare you, try to hire a builder on a budget and a schedule.  I swear by Almighty Bob, we could not get anyone to take our entire kitchen renovation as a serious job.  The builder we finally did hire  told us the Friday before he was supposed to start that he needed to put us off a week because he had gotten a bigger job.  No seriously.  He said that.  You can imagine that my demure southern manners suffered a bit.

Then the fun really began.  After two days of furious work; wall out, lintel in, chimney breast breached and mended, the builder says, “I’m done.”  What about the holes in the ceiling?  Oh, the plasterer can take care of that. What about the great gaping hole in the bay from the structural repair?  I’m due on another job tomorrow.

This became a consistent theme.  Everyone thought someone else was coming after them to clean up.  The builder left it for the plasterer. The plasterer left it for the decorator.  The decorator (me)  spit nails, gnashed teeth and screamed imprecations at the walls.  I finally said to our favorite (the electrician), “John, you don’t love me.”  He, looking rather shocked, exclaims, “But I do.”  “Then why,” says I “are you ripping up the lovely paint I just lovingly rolled onto my son’s new bedroom walls.”  He, at least, was more careful after that.

After removing the wall in the kitchen, we realized the concrete floor in the (former) kitchen was an inch higher than the wood floor in the rest of the house.  This wouldn’t do as I envisioned a seamless, new, laminate floor from the back of the kitchen to the front door.  So we hired a guy.  This guy assured us it would be good.  He would take out the first few inches of the old concrete and lay a nice new screed (thin concrete layer) on top to level it with the wood floor.  We proceed along these lines, happy with ourselves for doing it right instead of doing it fast.  Only as he is pouring the floor does he mention that you can’t lay laminate on new concrete for 12 week.  3 months. A quarter of a blessed year.  January.  I yelled…at Sam (DH)…that ought to tell those of you who know me something.  Deep breath…shift focus.  We can still install the kitchen and when the floor goes down run it up to the plinth and hid the fact that it doesn’t go under.  Brilliant.  (Thank you John, the electrician.)

In the mean time, we’re still on a barrel-rolling schedule to move into the house.  We’re telling the children it’s happening.  We’ve told the storage people to bring it on…move the stuff into the house on Thursday.  I’ve got the kitchen (via IKEA) on the way and I’m still completely sure I can pull it off.  No.  Not even close.

Anyone who has ever gotten anything from IKEA knows there’s always something.  As it turns out, despite all of my detailed lists and careful planning, the counters won’t be here until November 20th.  They have to be custom cut and delivered because of the particular configuration of our new layout.  Aaaack.  Deep breath….shift focus.  We’ll put in a temp counter with the sink and deal.  I’m not going to be kept out of the house for another week.  No…no way.

Everything arrives.  Most of it fits (don’t ask).  The house is wall to wall to wall boxes and still, I’m pretty happy.  I have, however, acknowledged, that I’m not going to be able to put together the entire kitchen on my own.  Sam is now on a crushing deadline at work and I hire a guy. (You can feel it coming, can’t you.)  He says it will be good.  He says he can put all of the cabinets up in a day and plumb the sink.  Pbbllltttt.  He  picks up at 3:30pm and say’s, “I’m done.”  What about the rest of the cabinets.  Sorry the wife wants me home.  What about the sink and running water.  You’re plumber will take care of that.

You would think at this point, Friday, that I might give up the notion of moving in the next day. Ha ha ha.

We move in on Saturday.  I’m resigned to washing dishes in the bathroom sink upstairs.  Our plumber assures us he’ll come over Saturday afternoon to deal with the kitchen sink.  Since he lives behind us, I feel pretty good about this.  Suffice to say, the sink doesn’t get plumbed until Monday evening.  He didn’t realize we had actually moved into a house with no running water downstairs and two children.  He obviously doesn’t know the depth of my stupidity devotion.

We’re in…we’re rolling.  I’m unpacking everything in sight.  There have been other ‘oops’.  The dresser for the bedroom had broken parts (wait till Sunday).  The bed for the master bedroom didn’t  come with slats (go back next week).  We need way more bookshelves (IKEA again).  But we all have a place to sleep.  I’m cooking on my brand spanking new, fantastic cooker.  I have a desk and working wireless.

Great Glorious Bob…what a ride.


How Soon…

Move day is barreling down upon us now. The children have started a ‘days-until’ countdown. And almost everyone I meet has something to say like:

Oh my gosh, you’re going so soon. Are you ready?

Are you excited?

Do you think everything will get done before you go?

The answer to these questions has been somewhat varied, depending on my level of stress at that particular moment. I am, however, finding a tendency to roll my eyes at the least. I mean really, we’re stressed around here. There’s a lot to do. I have a list that I check and re-check every day at least 15 times. And every time someone reminds me how close this is getting, my stomach flips and I have trouble breathing. I’m not excited. I’m terrified. Because everything *has to * get done before we go and I’m the one doing most of it.

The children are also generally nearby when these exclamations of wonder are pronounced. They don’t need it. They also are stressed and handling it very well, but I’m expecting a melt down any minute now. Aidan almost lost it when we sold the car. They don’t need to hear, repeatedly, how soon we are departing the only home they’ve known.

England will be very exciting when we get there. Having Sam’s family around us will be lovely. There will be new places to explore and many, many wonderful surprises, I’m sure. But that’s then and this is now. Please…don’t ask, “How soon?”


Paint and Carpet or “why didn’t we do this years ago”

The house is redolent with the smells of industrious men with rollers and brushes. The painters have moved in to help our bedroom look more buyer neutral. Currently, it looks more like someone maniacal took after it with a sponge full of yellow. I don’t know what the fascination was about 10 years ago with yellow sponge painting, but the last two houses we’ve been in have had prominent rooms thusly decorated. Last time it was the kitchen and we, thankfully, had it painted before we arrived. This time it was the master bedroom and once your in, it’s very hard to move out, even for long enough to get a decent color on the walls.

Oddly, after a while you just start to ignore problems like this. Until someone points out that the playschool style mural on your son’s wall might not be the best thing to show to potential marks buyers, you don’t really think about it. We looked at it when we moved in and thought, “Okay, Aidan is a little old for that. Maybe we’ll paint over it after we get settled.” That was two years ago.

Monday the carpet guy arrives. Carpets are another one of those ‘yes, it really matters’ issues in moving. The carpets are definitely well-used and there are stains in places, but again, we didn’t really notice until someone said, “ewww”. So by Tuesday we’ll have a very tidy, attractive bedroom with new paint and carpet. If I didn’t know we were moving to Europe, I’d be moved to tears.

Don’t rain on my garage sale

Yesterday we had the first of (supposedly) two garage sales to try and shed some pounds before shipping out. It rained. It was cold. The misery of sitting in the garage, watching our stuff not sell, while running back and forth with tarps was heavy. We did sell some things. Sam let some of his tools go (the current/plug thing) and there was a bit of interest in books and electronics. But, all in all, we actually got rid of very little beyond the stuff we were giving away for free. We posted to austin.craigslist, saying we would be there again today.

Today was sunny and warm. So warm that I had to keep going indoors to shed layers and finally ended up in a t-shirt and jeans, barefoot. We put everything out, Sam went and replaced signs around the neighborhood, and we waited. And waited. And waited. Nothing. It seems that not being in the paper, especially as we live rather far North, is tantamount to not existing on the garage sale scene. We shed a few more freebies and about $.50 worth of toys. The rest we packed back into an admittedly cleaner garage. We’ll try again later.

In previous moves, we’ve done our best to organize and then said, “Screw it. We’ll sort it out when we get there.” However, moving across country is a bit more forgiving of this attitude than moving across an ocean. International movers figure your move by volume (how big a container you will need) *and* weight (how much time it will take to pack and how much space will be needed to truck it to port). Now, as it turns out, our move from Austin, TX to Leeds, UK will end up costing us a bit less than it cost us to move here from California. Yep, you read it right. It’s going to be cheaper to move overseas. And it’s not because we’re going to sell everything we own and eat off a card table when we get there. It’s because international shipping rates aren’t regulated the same way as domestic shipping rates. Therefore, it’s an extremely competitive market. This is very good for the family moving, as long as you follow some simple guidelines (and I’m not claiming to know all of them). One – Don’t deal with anyone not willing to do an in-home estimate. Two – Get at least three estimates and make sure and tell all of them who else you’ll be talking to. Three – Make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. Door-to-door service. Packing services. Port fees. Custom fees. Damage insurance. There are a lot of factors and everyone who you talk to should be willing to answer all of your questions and come up with a few for you as well. I went so far as to ask for each companies US shipping license number, references from previous international clients, and how long they had been handling international moves. If they balk at any of those, walk away.

The first man who came was extremely nice, very professional, had an extensive moving brochure for me with checklists, and was generally willing to talk to me for as long as I needed information. He went through each room of the house with me and asked what we would be taking and what was staying. He made suggestions as to how we could get more in a smaller packing space, etc. He also noted that he would return, closer to the move, to reassess the amount to be moved, as he knows we’re in the process of sort and sell.

There are two other companies coming to bid this week. Then I’ll email everyone with everyone else’s bids and see what happens. It should be interesting to watch.