Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Lunch with Andy & Kitty Trauma

Monday started with a trip to the plant to take J's glasses to her. Then, I met Andy for lunch. I gave him a list of possible places to go & he picked Lincoln Park Grille, so we ate there. We split a very good crab cake & 2 desserts (chocolate mousse cake & wonderful crème brulée). He had a club sandwich while I chose chicken salad. Then, he stopped in to show me how to charge the lawnmower battery & how to run both mowers. The grass is getting pretty shaggy & I figure maybe I can do it myself. Although, our old handyman ran over a nail from the deck construction, so I will likely have to deal with that first. I wish I were good at stuff like this! It's dreadfully hot, too, although maybe the rain we're having today will help. So glad we have A/C now.

After he left, I went to the library to read the letters to the editor in response to the article about us. There was a lot of religious spewing, but from the way they wrote, I suspected they have never studied the Bible in any depth and certainly not in Greek or Hebrew. It seemed to me that they entirely missed that we attend church regularly & that I am about to start seminary. There were also NO mentions of any non-religious arguments against gay marriage, just a lot of "militant gay agenda" nonsense. Oh, well. I should write in with a copy of my usual day's agenda (wash dishes, drop off dry cleaning, check kids' homework, work in church office...). I checked out a few books, too, mostly frivolous, girly stuff.

J cooked for us Monday night. She had gotten some wonderful asparagus & made a chicken casserole with it. It was beyond fabulous & we both stuffed ourselves on it. Then, forced in a cookie each, since she had baked. We watched National Treasure, which was a fun adventure romp. We noticed that Jasper was bathing his nether regions quite a bit, but thought perhaps he was simply being fastidious.

However, in the morning, he was clearly blocked & in pain. I sat on the floor beside him, petting him & trying to soothe him. As soon as a vet was in, emergency hours fee be damned, I took him in. He was, indeed, blocked. I left him to be unblocked & came home to sleep, exhausted by emotion. I napped for awhile, then cleaned & ran errands. We got the call about his poor prognosis right before dinner. It was a great dinner (Russian sandwiches, corn on the cob, boozy fruit), but it was hard for us to think about anything besides our kitty. I read & petted J to sleep early, since she had to be at work by 5:30 this morning.

Girlie-Girls on the Weekend

Friday night, I had to go to Smokey Bones for a review. It was awful. The atmosphere was unpleasant (& confused...couldn't decide whether to be a sports bar or a North Woods lodge...neither of which has anything to do with barbecue), the service deplorable, and the food simply mediocre. I felt bad dragging J there when we could have had The Winds. Oh, well.

Saturday, we lazed in bed for a good long time. Then, we had brunch at Christopher's (Ajanta India being closed) & headed to the mall. We were poking around Parisian when J said, "You know, I've never had one of those make-overs they do". I promptly took her over to the Prescriptives counter for one. It was really fun. We both got them done. She didn't like how dark the lipstick was & she didn't like the mascara (I thought it looked really good), but she was pleased with the rest. We hit Lane Bryant, too. She got an outfit for work & I got a couple of Indian-style tops and a sweater set. Also, some more faux pearls. I passed on the $90 jeans. According to Elle, that's a great deal. According to me, it's insane. I'll stick to my Levi's, thanks.
We picked up Bob Evans to go for dinner & watched junk t.v. until our eyes were bleary. We saw the Andy Milanakis show for the first time. That kid is funny! Insane, perhaps, but funny.

Sunday, we went to church. It was VBS Sunday & the kids were really cute. People kept exclaiming over us, saying they hadn't seen us in a few weeks & they were worried about us. That was rather gratifying, since it was our first Sunday back since the article was printed about us being gay. No one was unfriendly, that I could tell. One fella said, "Boy, you sure know how to get the ink", another commented that they'll have to pay for our autograph now that we're famous. One guy who's in our Sunday School class was very pleased with the article. Both of his sons are gay. Brendan's comment was that he was impressed that the paper got all the facts right for once. He also said there were some stupid letters, so I headed to the library yesterday to see. Yep, there were...but there were supportive ones, too.

After church, we ran a couple errands & picked up KFC, with every intention of going in to the plant so J could work on her budget. But, she was simply too exhausted & we napped instead. We met a couple of the gals from work for dinner & drinks at Texas Roadhouse. That was a blast & we ended up hanging out much longer than we expected. So, we just went to bed when we got home.

West Virginia Art Camp

Finally, I have some time to post about our vacation.

On the 9th, we headed down to Kentucky for a party at J's brother's, in honor of her aunt visiting from Florida. We hung out & talked to them, ate bbq, and watched the young cousins play in the pool. I made 2 key lime pies for it. Love that stuff!

We excused ourselves after dessert so that we could hit the road. We went down toward Lexington & over to West Virginia. The trip was not so bad & we arrived at Lenore's just in time for dinner. We ate lasagna & watched an old Mickey Rooney movie. Then, we went back to my mom's. The road to her place was actually dry enough that we took the truck in, which made getting our luggage & art supplies back there easier, especially at that late hour.

Sunday, we spent the day just visiting. My mom & Graham subscribe to Elle Magazine & J was horrified when I spent time poring over it. It's interesting, though. Graham also provided us with a huge pile of books to check out.

Monday, we made concrete casts of large leaves (hosta & skunk cabbage) for garden decorations and birdbaths. We had some leftover concrete, so we did some sculptures, too. J made a candleholder & stuck bits & pieces of things into it. My mom made a simple candleholder/bowl to hold a fire in honor of Brigid. I made a concrete nani. When Graham guessed who made each thing, he only got my mom's correct.

After lunch (my mom had actually picked up tuna for our lunches, even though they're vegetarians), J & Graham had naps while my mom & I looked at art books in the garden. When Graham arose & went back to the blacksmithing, J slept on. I was so glad to see her getting some rest. When she woke up, my mom taught us to make wire sculptures. I made a fairy, J made a Goddess-y figure, and my mom made George Washington as a hipster.

After our workshop, we hiked out & went to the grocery for foods for J's workshop. Once we hiked back in, it was dinnertime. So, we lit the lanterns & pumped the water & made dinner. I wish I had written down what we had each night. It was all very good...spaghetti one night, chili another, Russian sandwiches & corn on the cob, pasta salad.

Tuesday, J led a writing workshop with a mythology theme. I wrote a creation story about all the goddesses getting together to create a new superhero called Super Femme (clad all in pink, with a glittery tiara). My mom wrote a fictional childhood memory with some mythological references. J wrote a poem/prayer. We feasted on hummus, pita, olives, dates, berries, and marinated feta while we wrote. Graham joined us when he finished in the shop. He shared a piece he's been working on...I read it aloud...that's very good. Part is about a woman & her baby caught in a flood, the other about a woman who is in a Dali-designed water exhibition tank at the World's Fair. Really interesting stuff. I wish I could remember the name of the exhibition...I will find out when I'm done writing. Dream of Venus, maybe?

Oh, we also took "showers" out there. It was very hot & unbearably humid. We ended up getting nekkid & pouring water from the rainbarrels over each other, lathering up with soap & shampoo between drenchings. It was fun, but that water sure was bracing! Graham was nice enough to go hang out in the garden across the road while we did this.

Wednesday, we did my artist trading card workshop. My mom & J each created 2 & I made 3. I need to get my supplies organized so that they are easier to get out & put away. I often feel like doing art, but don't feel like going to the trouble of getting everything out & putting it all back. I was so envious of Kerry's great storage system when we visited them in Pittsburgh. I wonder if she has something comparable at her new place.

Wednesday evening, we went into town to spend the night at the hotel. It poured rain on us as we were walking out and the road out to my mom's was a giant mud slick. We arrived at the hotel filthy & soaking wet. They were thrilled to see us, anyway. I guess they have fond memories of our wedding, too. We checked in & immediately changed into swimsuits. We luxuriated in the hot tub & pool, chatted with a Charleston cop & his wife & kids who were staying there because their water was off for some reason unknown to them. I sipped an amaretto sour that J brought me. Then, we went back to the room for some serious intimacy. Afterward, we picked up some dry shoes for J & had dinner at Friday's.

In the morning, we had breakfast in the lobby & checked out. My mom & Graham met us & we all went to the farmer's market. We saw all kinds of beautiful flowers, eggplant that had a gorgeous sheen & color, and fresh veggies of all kinds. We picked up some veggies for dinner & my mom bought a few plants, too. We poked around the bookstore inside, as well as all the other shops. My mom bought some wasabi peanut crunchies that ended up being too hot for everyone but Graham & Lenore. We considered lunch at the Italian place in the market. It looked great, but I didn't see many non-meat alternatives & it seemed pricey, so I suggested we go elsewhere. We ended up trying a new Mexican place close to the mall. From there, we walked over to Taylor Books & poked around. There's a new couture shop in the basement & my mom ended up getting a top there. It looks great on her & Graham was so happy that she got it. We stopped in the mall on the way back (well, we had walked through & gotten good coffee on the way, too). I wanted to show my mom & Graham Hot Topic. They liked it. Then, we all went into Lane Bryant while I tried on some clothes. Interestingly enough, Graham was the most helpful in helping me decide about the clothes. What he didn't like about them was what I didn't like. I ended up just getting some faux pearls.

It felt so good to sleep on the air mattress on my mom's porch again. Honestly, it was much more comfortable than the bed at the hotel. I love sleeping on the porch, too, feeling the breezes & gazing at the night sky through the screen. It was hard-won rest, though. I was only wearing Keds on the way back in & going down the big hill, with all the slick clay mud, was hell. I got really cranky with my mom & J while we were attempting the hill. I made it down without busting my ass, but just barely. Man!

Friday, we hung around the house for awhile, then headed out for an afternoon of antique store exploring. There are a number of antique stores & malls in Nitro. We hit two of the malls & had a grand time. One of them had a book section, with paperbacks 3 for a dollar. We got $12 worth & my mom & Graham got $15. J got a bunch of West Virginia made preserves for her co-workers, too. Oh, and some "movie candy"...Junior Mints, Sugar Babies, & Charleston Chews. We grabbed lunch at a cool little diner-type place. J had a great burger, I got a hot bologna sandwich, my mom & Graham had grilled cheese. After we ate, we looked around at the interesting memorabilia covering the walls (I coveted a pink toy cowgirl gun). Then, we hit the other mall, where we lucked into a treasure trove of old photos. I seriously considered an old suitcase with travel stickers, including one from Havana, and a traveling bar set. I did get a daintily monogrammed hankie.

J & I had decided to stay at the hotel another night. Well, J had decided & I agreed to because I adore her. We invited my mom & Graham to swim. Graham opted to hang out in our room, reading & napping. My mom came in the pool & hot tub with us. We had great fun until hordes of children descended. At that point, we headed for the room & sat around talking to Graham. After they headed home, we went shopping at Goody's & found some clothes for the fall. I scored a pink tweedy blazer for under $10, originally $64. I plan to wear it with jeans & pearls this fall. We had Cracker Barrel for dinner.

Saturday morning, we had another hot tub soak and swim. A pair of dragonflies kept skimming the pool & were neat to watch. We found a little goldfinch that had run into the window & appeared to be dead. But, when we went to look at it once more, it was sitting up. Its legs looked splayed out too far & we weren't sure it could move. Worried about little ones trying to play with it, J decided to move it to the bushes. But, when she got close enough, it flew away. We were so glad it was okay!

We had breakfast & checked out, meeting Graham & my mom in the parking lot. We had lunch at Gino's in Sissonville, then drove up to Parkersburg to check out book mecca, Trans-Allegheny Books. It's in an old library, with several levels and cases & cases of books. The ceilings are high, the windows are enormous, and one wing features glass floors! That wing has all the fiction and is anchored by a metal spiral staircase. It is such a neat place, even without all the books. There are also 3 resident cats, Logan, Page, and Dust Jacket. We all explored to our heart's content, then my mom, J, & I hung out in the cooking room on the leather sofa talking & sharing what we had found. As we were getting ready to leave, I leafed through a haunted West Virginia book. I found Trans-Allegheny in there. I had thought 2 things about the place. One was "Wow, this would make such a cool house!" & the other was "Man, you couldn't pay me to be in here alone at night!" Turns out they have at least 2 ghosts. One is an 8 y.o. girl who hangs out on the main staircase, the other a middle-aged man who seems to be looking for something in the History room. Glad I didn't see them!

On the way home, we picked up pizza from Gino's & took it to Lenore's for movie night. We watched Elektra & then talked late into the night. It became my birthday as we were slogging back the lane. I was so impressed the whole time we were there by my ability to make the difficult walk without stopping much to rest. Some walks, I stopped once. Others, I didn't have to stop at all. What a nice surprise!

We all stayed up for a bit talking, then collapsed into bed. Sunday morning, I made fried eggs while my mom baked my birthday cake. She even made the frosting from scratch, a great coffee icing. J spent the time planting my mom's new plants. It rained every hour, starting to get dark around 10 til & pouring on the hour. We weren't sure Lenore would be able to come back without getting soaked...and dreaded trying to tranport the cake unscathed to her place. But, it was clear long enough for her to arrive on the ATV, looking adorable & toting the ice cream. We had a delightful party, with all kinds of good snacks (it was so humid that the chips wilted after about 45 minutes out!) & several rounds of Scattergories, played with much hilarity. Lenore headed out between the 5 & 6 o'clock storms, Graham taking her back to her van at the top of the hill. My birthday dinner was spaghetti, with sourdough bread. Yum! I did Daughters of the Moon readings for everyone on my birthday, too. Oh, I got gifts...forgot. Several neat books & magazines from J & a book of stories about sea creatures/people from my mom & Graham. I'll be reading them aloud to J.

I was sad to leave, but the leaving is always much easier now that I have J to be with at home. None of my exes ever made leaving my mom's any more bearable, but J does. I finally found someone I love as much as I love my mom. I never thought that would happen & yet here she is.

We had an uneventful trip home, stopping at Bennigan's on the way. Rosemary dropped by in the evening, thinking she needed to feed the cats one more night. So, we got to have a visit with her.


I haven't had time to write here since my vacation. I will update about that, but what is weighing heavily on my mind right now is that we are probably going to have to put my dear Jasper kitty to sleep today. He is only 6, but he's been getting urinary blockages & they haven't been able to clear this one. We noticed him licking himself a lot the night before last & wondered if he had another blockage. But, the vet was closed & we weren't sure. In the morning yesterday, it was clear that he was again blocked & in a lot of pain. He looked quite swollen & was making horrible sounds & his body would convulse.

So, I took him in as soon as the clinic opened. I went back home & waited for the vet to call. She did, around six, with the news that she had been unable to get him fully drained & that the prognosis was poor. She wanted to keep him overnight, on anti-inflammatories, and try again in the morning. This morning's attempt was no more successful & there's not a whole lot they can do for him. They have offered to have another doctor try, but I trust the ability of the two who have already worked on him. I think that if he could be cleared, they could have done it. They said his situation is pretty hopeless. They did say there's a surgery that might help him, but that chances were not great. It's very expensive & the recovery period is very long. I hate being in the position to have to make this kind of decision. If they sounded like the surgery was not simply a long shot, I would want to try it, to keep my baby boy alive. But, they didn't sound at all confident that it would even help. Frankly, if I am honest with myself, it's not fair to him to put him through all that just because I want him with me longer. I love him so much, but it sounds like there's just not a lot of hope. Shit, I hate this.

Worse, the boys are coming home tonight to spend a long weekend with us. Great welcome, "Hi, guys! Great to see you. Jasper is dead." They are not going to take this AT ALL well. I think of how bereft they were when Myrtle died & Jasper has a much stronger claim on their emotions. CRAP!

I am exhausted by all this.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Uneventful Summer Days

The kids & I have just been hanging around the house, for the most part. They're not eager to do much away from home, just want to play video games & do board games with me & run around in the hose water. I'm okay with that. No point trying to force them to have fun doing things kids are supposed to want to do if they don't want to do them. I would love to be heading to the lake or pool every day, or hosting their friends, or hitting the movies or museums. But, they want to be home, alone. Odd.

I did have to drag them out a couple of times. Boot had an orthodontist appointment Tuesday. Tuesday night, we all went to Wot-a-Dog drive-in for burgers & ice cream. Yesterday, I tried to take them to lunch at the place I have been trying to eat at since last week...I'm reviewing them...but they were again closed. This time, there was at least a sign on the door, so we'll try again today. We stopped by A&W/Long John Silver's instead, much to the kids' delight. They'll take fast food over a real restaurant anytime.

Last night, I made BBQ brisket sandwiches with corn on the cob & steamed green beans for dinner. Boot had been asking if we could have brisket sandwiches, so I thought it was appropriate to make them for our last dinner together before their summer visitation. They turned out well. I even made the BBQ sauce from scratch, something I am often too lazy to do. It's really not that hard, so I don't know why I don't just always make it. After dinner, we went & played outside. We caught fireflies & made s'mores (how many moms fire up the grill just for s'mores?) & Pie discovered that my hydrangea, which hasn't bloomed for 2 years, had some blooms on it. They are now in the family room. Gorgeous! I am thrilled & hope we get more this year.

I saw J off this morning, then went back to sleep. When I awoke, I discovered that we had no water! Turns out that the city is cleaning the main & had to turn off the water to all the houses in the neighborhood...and neglected to tell us beforehand! The guy I talked to said that we should have gotten a letter. We'll probably get it today. Might have to nip out to my grands' to have a shower & brush my teeth & get the kids bathed & brushed, too. Don't want to send them off to their dad's dirty! I can't believe they didn't notify us that the water would be off all day today & maybe tomorrow, too. Argh!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Long 4th Weekend

It felt like it started Thursday night, even though J had to work Friday. But, she came home at a reasonable hour Thursday & we took the kids to Red Robin for dinner. Then, we went to see Batman Begins. I was looking forward to it, since I like the Batman story anyway, but this movie was even better than I expected. I loved all the detail & backstory. It was much meatier than your average superhero action movie. J & the boys were bored for the first part of it, but they ended up liking it, too.

Friday, we closed on the sale of our rental. I am so happy to have that monkey off our backs. I just called to cancel the insurance & it felt so good to say we'd sold it. We got more than we asked for it, too. J had to go back to work after the closing, but after the boys left, we had some less-harried time together. We stopped by The Winds to see if they had any tables available. The hostess did some rearranging & soon we were seated on the patio, menus in hand. Our waitress turned out to be a gal I did shows with in high school. She is newly back in town. The food was fabulous: insalata caprese & roasted figs with goat cheese & Nueske's bacon for appetizers, Spanish-spiced skirt steak on mashed potatoes with a side of lemony broccoli for our main course, and panna cotta with cold rhubarb soup for dessert. I ended up eating the whole order of panna cotta. It was gorgeous when it arrived, luminous white in the midst of pink & surrounded by fruit pieces. However, J tried one bite & said it reminded her of cold, slimy llama snot sprinkled with vanilla in sweet pink water with mango & kiwi. Jesus!

Saturday morning, we ended up getting mesmerized by the idiot box & watched the most unexpected shows: Pimp My Ride and Punk'd. What the heck is wrong with us??? Actually, they were pretty amusing, I hate to admit. After we roused our silly selves, we had lunch at Texas Roadhouse (great ribs!) & then went shopping for Lilith's 58th birthday gift, a 5-Senses Basket. We found a picnic basket & added a Putumayo Women of Africa CD (sound), a verdigris leaf candleholder (sight), 3 green scented candles with leaves impressed into them (scent), a box of Baci chocolates (taste), and a soft lilac throw (touch). We stopped on the way to pick up ice cream for our potluck contribution, then went to Lilith's.

We had a wonderful time visiting. We met Lilith's sister, Dennie. Their mom was there, along with Lilith's son, Sven, & daughter-in-law, Becca, accompanied by their sons, Kyle & Mick. Mick was just born at the beginning of May & it was the first time I got to meet him. He is adorable & very, very good. Hyacinth came & we urged her, again, to join the Uppity Book Women. Lilith's roommate, Aimee, was there with her son, Heaven. Suzette came with her beautiful Julia & Terrie with Emma. There were a bunch of other townies there, lots of little kids running around playing. Paolo was in town from Massachusetts & brought his guitar, flute, & sax with him. Carl, who I hadn't seen in about 13 years (and who wasn't speaking to me last time I saw him) came up from Cincinnati with his wife, Debra. I wasn't expecting to see him, so it was a little weird for me until he noticed me & treated me completely normally. Debra is a nice girl, pregnant with their first child. It was interesting talking to all these people from the past. When Paolo & Carl played "Troubled in Mind", a shot of oddness ran through me, astonished to hear that old, familiar tune again. But, otherwise, it managed not to feel like some kind of weird flashback & we had a good time.

Sunday, since we had a guest pastor, we decided that church was dispensable for that one day. We stopped at Dino's for coffee & somehow ended up at The Winds for brunch, once again ensconced on the patio. I was reminded that 4th of July weekend tends to be reunion weekend for the alumni of our high school when I noticed Jamie F. seated across the patio from us & Greg B. at the table next to us. He doesn't look like he's any more pleasant or any less shallow than he used to be, so I didn't even bother speaking to him & I don't think he recognized me. He reminded me of all the corporate wankers I know.

But, brunch was fantastic. I loved my papas locas, home fries smothered in black beans, jack cheese, steak, & scrambled eggs, with salsa & peppers. But, even more, I loved J's shrimp & grits. I didn't want to eat up all her brunch, but it was one of the best things I've ever eaten. It was very lemony & the cheese grits were so creamy that it didn't even register that I was eating grits. I generally regard grits as vile & inedible, but this dish was astonishing. I want more! We also had some fresh cherries. Love summertime!!!

After brunch, we went to the rental to get J's dissertation & photo albums. Unfortunately, she was unable to wrestle them out from the loft. They may be lost, although I did call the buyer & ask if he would call us when they pull that stuff down & are about to toss it. I hope she can get her important things back. He sounded kind of grumpy about it, but maybe he will call. I would do it for someone who sold me their old house. I wish she had just taken that stuff with her when she started renting the place way back when.

We stopped by the craft store & the plant before hitting the antique mall in search of gifts for Graham. We found some really cool old magazines for him & scads of vintage linens, hankies, hats, & china that I loved. I restrained myself admirably.

After the kids got home, we played outside. I had hit upon the idea of doing a Batman theme night. We rented some Batman movies & were even able to find a Batman Slip 'n' Slide for them. We got that set up & they loved it! J grilled some bbq pork chops while I read & the boys whooped & hollered. We also bought a badminton set & they played with that, as well. When it got dark enough, they ran about the yard with sparklers & snapped poppers against the front drive. We had dinner outside by candle & tiki light, then went in to watch the Batman movie with Jack Nicholson as the Joker. Then, to bed!

Monday morning, I got up early & wrote my review. Then, we took the kids to the pool for the day. When they'd gotten bored of swimming, we took them home from burgers & hot dogs & more Slip 'n' Slide time. J & I had a nap, then we headed out to the fireworks in my hometown. We parked at Lilith's & walked over to the park, spreading our blankets on the hill. It was fun to watch all the people, little kids with sparklers & glow sticks, adults with big grins & pet dogs (poor things). The show was wonderful. My favorite was one that looked like a waterfall. Afterward, we ran into Diane & Shirzad, with their kids. Diane told me that she's expecting a third on Christmas Day! They had only planned on two, but how exciting! They have bought a home, too. I'm happy that things are going so well for them. I stayed up too late after the fireworks, petting J to sleep & then reading some of Graham's novel. I am over halfway's very cinematic.