Monday, February 26, 2007

I'm Dreaming of an Escape

Funny thing happened this month.

Background - L&M's grandies are making their First Holy Communion this year. In preparation, I guess they have to go to confession. So their parents invited us to go to Church and witness this milestone in their lives. Their paternal grandmother, a woman I adore and wish I could hang with, came along, too.

Plot - we get to the church and as we usually do, the other granny (whom I'll call Dearie, because she is) and I sat together in a pew in back of the kids and grandies. L&M sat with us, too, but he doesn't pay attention she and I usually sit together and giggle.

Well, I guess confession has changed a lot since we were young. I'm not Catholic and never will be, thank you very much, so I don't know this firsthand. But I guess there was some sort of God Box you had to go into and there was a screen and you told the priest your sins, yatta yatta...he exhorted you to say five Hail Marys and put money in the collection box, or something, and all your sins were forgiven. Or so, that's the way it looked to me from watching movies. As I said, no firsthand knowledge of this sort of thing. We Methodists love to hang onto our guilt and feel rotten about ourselves, so there's no really good purpose in unloading it to anyone else, now, is there??? No. I didn't think so.

I digress.

Nowadays, you go up to the front of the church for confession and face the priest and tell him what a rotten sinner you are. No kidding, they sit on two chairs, in plain view, at the front of the church!!! Talk about intimidating!! Not only do you have to look the priest in the eye, but you get to do it in front of the congregation!

Okay, so I'm thinking "Geez, what does a seven-year-old have to confess?" But there must have been SOMEthing because they all trooped up there and did it, one by one. L&M's granddaughter took the longest of all fifty kids making their communions this year. When she was done, the priest raised his hand to bless her and tell her to go forth and sin no more (as IF!), and as he's raising his hand, she gave him a high-five! That kid cracks me up. Not only does that particular seven-year-old have something to confess, she has more of it than any other kid in the place, and then congratulates the priest on sitting through it all.

I'm so proud... we're sitting there, Dearie and I start to chatting, as always. And since they opened confession up to parents as well as the kids, it was taking a long time. Which is not good for us, because we can get into a lot of trouble, left to our own devices.

So I say to Dearie "Are you going up for confession?" She gives me an aghast look, and says "Hell, no! Are you?"

"I can't, I'm not Catholic..." I say, feigning a look of disappointment.

Dearie says "So what would you confess, if you were Catholic?"

I say "Probably that I keep wishing that my husband would run away with another woman!"

The giggles start...

And I say, amid my swallowed chortles "What would you confess, Dearie?"

And she says "Hell, that sometimes I wish I would run away with another woman!"

That was it. We were giggling so hard now that the pious parents were turning around and looking at us. L&M's kids were staring at us. L&M, bless his heart, was oblivious...and we just kept giggling so hard, the tears were running down our faces.

Ahhhhhh....good times. Who says you can't have fun in church????

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Breif Ramblings...

Saw the movie "The Pursuit of Happyness" last night. LONG time to get to the end. But inspiring. I shed a tear or two when Will Smith got the job. I'm afraid I'm a bit of a softie...

L&M is heading out to Indy tomorrow. He will be inspecting nursing homes. He will not be blowing up the Colts' practice dome with them in it, in direct rebuttal of my pleadings. Darn it...

Nephew #1 and his wife are expecting! I am so happy for them. This baby is indeed a miracle and proof that they do happen. So all my pals out there, needing miracles...keep the faith.

It finally turned to winter here in New England. Cold as a witch's kiss the last couple of days (and nights!) Woke up Saturday morning to the pipes almost-frozen in the upstairs bath. I really need to insulate that pipe chase on the north side of the house, where the upstairs bath pipes run in close quarters with a century-old cast iron soil pipe. The downstairs bath was, surprisingly, okay, despite it being built atop a crawl space with fieldstone foundation walls on the north side of the house. See? Miracles do happen!

L&M got a GPS for a combination birthday/Christmas present from his kids. True to my cautions to them, he can't operate it without calling me long distance from exotic places like Newport, Pennsylvania or Hyannis, Massachusetts. He tried it out early in January, when we were on vacation. We were in Maryland. He wanted to find BJ's (a couple of miles away) so I set up the address for him. He got there in ten minutes. Then he couldn't get it to take him back home. Twenty-four phone calls, and six and a half hours later, he got back. Missed three quarters of the San Diego game, too. Silly man...

Not much else is new. I actually left the house twice this week, a new record for the past 18 months!!!

Boy, do I know how to live, or what?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

A New Wind For Massachusetts?

(WARNING - this is a political essay from a truly non-political person, with no knowledge and only opinions. Read at your own risk!)

Well, well, well...

The will of the people will play itself out today as Governor-elect Deval Patrick is inaugurated.

All of those slick 'Yes We Can' campaign promises will be put to the test.

Can he do it?

Can he get anything done with the most stubborn, recalcitrant and destructive State Legislature in the country???

I have my doubts.

First of all, everything promised during the Patrick campaign has been tried before. By Republicans. With no success. Because the legislature would rather see the Commonwealth, my beloved Commonwealth, go down in flames than give an inch.

Second of all, he's already stated in a pre-inaugural speech last evening, to the citizens who elected him (which wouldn't be me) that the populace (paraphrased) should be patient because all the quick fixes he promised may take some time. He says he wants to build long-term fixes. People need to be patient. He's looked at the lay of the land and now, NOW, on the eve of his inauguration, he's already backpeddling.

Sounds to me like he's trying to set himself up for his NEXT run at Governor...'ya gotta give me more time, foks. Let me finish what I started!' Unless, of course, he secretly intends to be a one-term Gov, using the Massachusetts Executive Office as a launchpad for his Presidential hopes. There seems to be a lot of that going on. Not that Massachusetts politicians are all that successful at running for President...with the exception of JFK, who happened to be in the right place at the right time. But when you look at our other offerings - Dukakis, Kerry - in recent years, well, we should just about forget about getting a Massachusetts elected official into the Oval Office! We're far better at electing Senators who warm the seat for 40 years without accomplishing a single constructive thing except for authoritative finger-pointing... I think we should just give up our hopes of every having another Massachusetts-born President. (Sorry, Kal...but you really want to be Governor, anyway. You never said you wished to be President.)

Although, that does speak well for Mr. Patrick's chances...he is originally from Chicago.

I congratulate Mr. Patrick on winning the election. The tasks he faces with the representative core of our legislature is not an easy one. He has my sympathies, actually. The man hasn't even been sworn in yet, and the Legislature is already drawing its line in the sand. He's an affable guy, and seems sincere (although a little idealistic - but I'm a curmudgeon and you cannot take my view as reality, just MY reality). He speaks of being well-intended, and I hope that THAT is sincere and not just the stuff politicians avow when seeking election. I feel that he really does think he can be a positive force for Massachusetts, and I truly hope that he is.

I truly hope he can accomplish something for our fair Commonwealth, my beloved Massachusetts, as it lays dying from a sucking chest wound.

I'll have to wait and see. Truly, the proof is in the pudding. So far, we just have some milk curdling and a few eggs cracked. Maybe he can whip up something truly beautiful and tasty for Massachusetts that will have long-term, positive effects on the citizens whose lifeblood has been sucked dry for the vampirish needs of government...

I am talking about those common folk who work hard every day and diligently pay their taxes and do with less and less all the time, while more and more is given away.

I'm talking about the elderly, who have been in their homes for 50 years and face losing them to outrageous property taxes, while a new, rosy-colored-glass-wearing Governor-elect talks about giving illegal aliens free college tuition. Seems to me the elderly paid for their kids' tuition already. And now they could lose their homes to give an opportunity to educate folks who don't even think enough of this country to become legal citizens. What's up with that???

I'm talking about people whose homes have burned down because, even though there was a fire station two-tenths of a mile from their blazing homestead, there were local budget cuts that hit public safety expenses as a first course of action, and there were no firemen to man that station so that first response came from five miles, or another town, away.

THESE are the folks I need to see protected, supported, and nurtured.

Here's what I want to see Mr. Patick accomplish:

I want to see jobs coming back into this Commonwealth so that our young talent doesn't take off for California or wherever young talent goes nowadays.

I need to see some security for the elderly and their homes. If someone has been a loyal resident for 30 years, I think their real estate taxes should freeze at that level, as long as they are in their homes and do not take in scads of young family to drain the local treasury. This is probably self-serving, as I struggle on a fixed income to maintain the only home I've known for 35 years, and watch my real estate taxes (which were $900 a year in 1971, when I arrived in this home, and are now close to $4000 a year) continue to rise. But when you think about it, I'm just one person in this situation and have probably 20 more years coming to me, 20 more years of seeing my taxes rise and facing the loss of my home. Is that fair to any of us????

And I'd really really like to see some sort of supertax penalty imposed upon corporations that move their businesses to third-world countries to improve their profit-rape and bolster their stockholders' coffers. Yes, Texas Instruments, I'm talking about you. Better profits for you, and 20,000 Massachusetts jobs lost as you moved your industry to Mexico, Malaysia, and China (so they could steal your patents. Stupids!!!)

I need to see some improvement in the tax structure that takes more money from those who MAKE all the money, instead of giving them all the breaks so that the tired, hardworking common guy isn't supporting EVERYTHING that the Commonwealth, and its poorest citizenry, need, on his already-breaking back.

I truly hope Mr. Patrick can get all of his programs established, except that free tuition for illegal aliens thing. My son went to a flagship state school. He chose to go there. He was accepted at several high-caliber engineering schools throughout the country. But he chose our flagship state school (and a great choice it was, as one of its professors recently won a Nobel Prize. And he's not the first!) We, HE paid for his eduation. One line of my family came over on the Mayflower, so we've been here awhile. Yet despite a full-year scholarship, my son is still paying off student loans ten years later! The thought that he could have gotten that same education, for free, had I snuck him across some border, really boils my blood. It seems to be that connotation of "illegal" alien is just that - ILLEGAL! So we're rewarding illegal action with free education??? I don't get it. If people want, choose, to stay here and avail themselves of the opportunities this country provides, I'm all for it. But how hard is it to become a LEGAL alien?? Or a legal citizen, for that matter? They pay income taxes, anyway...why not just make themselves legitimate?

With the results of this election, I truly do hope that a fresh new wind has blown into Boston, upon the arrival of our first African American Governor (and only the second in the history of the nation). I frankly don't care if he's green with purple spots, his color means nothing to me. It's his actions and attitudes upon which he will be judged as our governor. And I will hold him to his "Yes We Can" campaign promises. It's time we held our elected officials accountable for their promises. And let them face voter recall, if they are proven to have blown smoke up our collective butts in order to secure their positions. Everyone else who works for a boss is subject to firing...why not our political officials?? Aren't WE their bosses?? Isn't that what a democratic society is all about???

But in order to accomplish his promised programs and changes, Mr. Patrick will need the skills of a snake-charmer with this bullheaded, pissing-contest legistlature of ours. I hope he can perform miracles ne'er-before seen in political annals with the status-quo "Legislature Supremus" attitude on Beacon Hill. I truly, TRULY, wish this. Because my beloved Massachusetts needs to change its name to "MESSachusetts". They don't call us Massholes for nothing!

But will this happen? I have my doubts.

I have a theory that we should begin electing doctors, instead of lawyers, into Massachusetts governmental positions. After all, they are accustomed to a 'healing' role, and are required to take the Hippocratic Oath on becoming physicians. And I love the opening line of that oath...

"First, do no harm."

Maybe that line should be incorporated as the opening statement of the Oath of Governor. Perhap it would serve as a guiding principal for our Commonwealth's highest office, a signpost to show the way for Government. Perhaps, then and only then, will we truly achieve what needs to be done as Massachusetts lay, dying.

But, honestly??? I have my doubts.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Krismuss Tag, Kourtesy of Kal

Hey ho! It's ovah for another year! Hallelujah!!

Anyhoo, I got tagged by my Firstborn, and bein' a good sport (contrary to popular opinion, I really am a good sport...and damn hot for a grandmother!!!) here is my tag:

First, the rules:

1. Players start by listing three things he/she got for Christmas.

2. Then they list three things he/she definitely did not want to get for Christmas.

3. Then he/she tags five friends and lists their names.

4. The ones who get tagged write on their blogs about their Christmas wishes, and state the rules clearly.

5. Then tag five more victims. The tagger needs to leave the taggees a comment that says you have been Christmas tagged! and tell them to read the tagger's blog.

Don't expect pictures. You'll have to take my word for it!

1. Three things I got for Christmas

a) My tradtional, homemade Kal-endar. Complete with the usual great photos, funny captions, holidays and birthdays (printed for the wrong day, I think Kal's testing Mommy's mental faculties, here). A new twist added...he put coupons in. Remember I said he used to make me coupon books for gifts, and how I missed them? He must have read that because he gave me coupons in my Kal-endar. And I do love it so...

b) A WONderful blue plate from Europe which he sought out at an auction. It says "Chirstmas at Home" in Norse or Svensk, and it is dated 1971. It's cobalt blue, with a scene of a woman, sitting at the piano, with a little blond baby on her lap as she plays. There's a Christmas tree in the background, and people standing around singing. Remember my Mommygrinch post of early December? It's like he scoured the ends of the Earth to find a gift that would assure me that he hasn't forgotten our early Christmases, either. It was as if this plate were specifically made for me...the scene, exactly as I remember our days. And the date...the little blond baby... Kal was born in 1971. HE is the little blond baby on the woman's lap as she plays for others to sing. I opened it, and sobbed. In fact, just thinking about it, I'm sobbing now... Silly ol' Motherdear.

c) An ornament that has a little snow person on it, and says "Grandma's Little Flakes". And underneath it, three little snowflakes with the names of L&M's three grandbabies on them. Meaningful for me, really meaningful. You see, I am not their grandmother by blood, just by love. And they have never called me Grandma, I have a special name. But this was just so totally moving in that it shows me that grandmothers ARE made of love, not necessarily of blood, and that it is recognized by my stepdaughter and stepson-in-law. I can't tell you how good it makes me feel.

2. Three things I definitely did not want to get for Christmas:

a) Cancer. Again.

b) A call that something was wrong with my Dad or my Mom. (That came AFTER Christmas).

c) A Chia Pet. (I did get a Chia herb garden though...and I dearly love those!)

3. Now, for the tagging of five friends, and listing their names...

a) Bozette
b) Karamia
c) Labbie
d) Callie
e) Dani

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas, and have a wonderful, prosperous, healthy and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

ANOTHER 100 Things You Never Knew About Kal...

...sorry, kid. HAD to do this...

1. He was born ten days late.

2. On the hottest day of the year.

3. And the longest, too.

4. He was 21 inches long when he was born (so you can imagine how tall he was!)

5. My first glimpse of him was blue legs, held up above the drapery.

6. My next glimpse of him was the most beautiful child I'd ever seen.

7. He had white hair at birth...

8. ...and the cutest nose. Thank God he got his nose from his grandmother, and not from his dad or me!

9. They put him in my arms, and I felt such total awe that it still makes my eyes well.

10. He was a perfect baby. Never cried. Always smiling.

11. He was a lousy nurser. Preferred sleeping to eating.

12. He gained four pounds in his first six weeks of life.

13. He rolled over at three days old. (REALLY!)

14. He was walking at 7 months. Nothing was safe after that.

15. He had a tendency toward croup and spent a lot of time in a mist tent we improvised with his windup swing and the vaporizer.

16. He never complained. As sick as he would get, all he would do is smile at you.

17. When he was 11 1/2 months old, the doc gave him a shot while he had a cold. Then the doc went on vacation. Within 24 hours, Kal's temp shot up to 108. He almost died.

18. The shot was the measles innoculation. He is not immune to measles and had to be very careful of it in college.

19. Kal has been one of my two best friends since I was 20. (The second is BG, since I was 23.)

20. He was the first grandchild on mom's side, and was totally adored by all.

21. He was also the first boy born in our family in 20 years.

22. He was very close to my mother and dad, who were excellent grandparents in his youth.

23. He loved to talk.

24. When he was 9 months old, he was standing on the couch, 'expounding'. Which basically means just plan jabbering in an authoritative manner. Satan's right-hand gal was over and said "Kal is going to be a politician!" in that voice which shattered glass and only dogs could hear when she was mad. I scoffed, said "Kal is NOT going to be a politician."

25. Damned if she wasn't right. Kal is a politician. (Must have been her deep connection with Satan which allowed her to determine his future...)

26. He was smart, but not the best student. Too interested in other things than to do homework.

27. He turned that around in college, and graduated Magna Cum Laude.

28. His football career was ended by a back injury. Silly Mommy wouldn't let him play through it (mostly because he couldn't walk and the doc said not to play through it.) It's my fault he didn't play for the Pats.

29. He is determined. He decided he was going to date a certain girl who wouldn't give him the time of day, and he ended up wooing her with his charm, wit, and losing a few pounds.

30. He ended up marrying her.

31. They were engaged at Christmastime in their sophomore year of college. They were 19.

32. Kal got his first political job with a senate candidate as a freshman in college by taking the initiative and faxing an article to the candidate's headquarters with a comment something like "Target voters???" The candidate found out who he was, called the house, and offered him a job as head of opposition research.

33. Kal was too honest to spy. He outed himself at the opponent's press conference.

34. The candidate lost the election, but not a friend.

35. Kal sings beautifully. No matter WHAT he says.

36. He sings at work. He's been stopped in the hallway by admiring fans.

37. I knew something was up when Kal and Wifey were visiting the Cape with L&M and I, and we went shell-combing on the shore. A special glance, a sweet touch...and I looked at them and knew I was going to be a grandmother.

38. Kal is the best dad I've ever seen, short of my own.

39. He is also the funniest dad I've ever seen, short of my own.

40. He is unafraid to show his feelings to those he loves. Even if they're not pleasant feelings.

41. But he never intentionally hurts anyone.

42. Kal harbors guilt better than anyone I know.

43. Which is ironic, for he is guilty of nothing.

44. Kal has been making me homemade cards since he was a kid, and continues to do it because they crack me up and I love them.

45. Every Christmas, Kal used to give me coupon books of things he could do for me, in lieu of a present. I wish he'd bring that back into vogue!!

46. Kal collected baseball and football cards. I have boxes of about 89,997 of them in the barn, waiting for him to come and get them.

47. He makes me a calendar every year, with photos of the family and funny holidays and expressions...

48. Kal wrote his first book in junior high school.

49. Kal would love to be a professional writer. I wish he would start. He's good enough to write professionally.

50. Kal used to do stand-up comedy in the lunchroom on Fridays.

51. He had a large audience base.

52. The show wasn't over until someone laughed so hard that milk came out his nose.

53. Every Friday, milk came out of someone's nose.

54. Kal and BG STILL go back-to-back to see who's taller whenever we get together.

55. Kal is still a tad taller.

56. Kal still has platinum blond hair.

57. His beard is red. (Thank your dad for that one, son.)

58. Kal's IQ was 142 when he was in fourth grade.

59. It's probably higher than that now. He did, after all, get into Harvard. (Oh, yeah, he didn't go. Gave up a scholarship and two years' job security. May I amend his IQ??? DUH!)

60. Kal is very artistic. He admits to playing guitar badly, but could do well if he practiced.

61. He doesn't mention the fact that he draws quite well.

62. And is surprisingly handy for a brainiac politician wordsmith. He renovated his first house's kitchen.

63. AND built The Boy's bed, which is a neat bunkbed thingie with a desk underneath, or space for it, or something...

64. He also likes to re-wire things. He's re-wired two lights for me. They actually work.

65. Kal can kill a car in 35 months or less.

66. He killed two of mine.

67. Kal, like his father before him, has never heard of 'preventive maintenance' on a car.

68. Kal had chickenpox three times.

69. The third time, he gave them to his brother.

70. Despite his protestations otherwise, Kal loves Rastacat.

71. Despite his protestations otherwise, Kal loves his family.

72. Kal's daughter is just like him.

73. Kal is just like me. Poor guy.

74. Kal is active in his community.

75. Kal ran for school committee once.

76. He didn't win. But he was going against a long-termer who was running one last time.

77. He did come in second, though. And there was a full field running for the seat.

78. Kal dreams of being governor one day.

79. Kal has held other town offices and served on a few boards.

80. Kal would have been my third child. Twin sisters before him, and two sisters between him and BG, died in utero.

81. Kal is named for his grandfather (my dad) and his dad.

82. Kal was sued once, at the age of six months old.

83. Kal is much admired by his brother.

84. Kal much admires his brother.

85. Kal gives the BEST hugs.

86. In the spirit of the true politician, Kal can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you look forward to the trip.

87. Kal did not get his political and diplomatic skills from his mother or his father.

88. Kal was elected to the Junior State Senate while in high school.

89. He won an award for Best Speaker.

90. He also won an award at graduation for Social Studies, in recognition of his avid interest in the subject.

91. He took every course offered in the discipline.

92. Kal and Wifey are wonderful hosts.

93. He has the most interesting recipe for French Toast.

94. Kal cannot be beat at Trivial Pursuit.

95. Kal makes friends for life. He is selective about his friends, but once friends, they're friends for life.

96. Kal's friend Diane died suddenly two years ago, and he still feels it.

97. He covers up his deepest feelings with a veneer of curmudgeonry.

98. Kal once caught a baby rattlesnake.

99. Kal saw our ghosts when he was little. He trained himself not to when he got bigger.

100. Kal is my son, in whom I am well pleased.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

November went by so quick, we're already into Christmas

..which is NOT my favorite holiday. I'm Ebenezer Scrooge's female incarnation, I'm afraid.

Why??? Because I married Ebenezer. I used to love holidays. Christmases at our old Victorian were wonderful affairs. My Precious and her husband would come over with their two boys, and it was wall-to-wall presents. My folks, who had moved to Tennesse in 1978 when the kids were little, would come up for the holiday. We had a blast. Christmas was family. Toys. Food. Celebration. Me playing Christmas Carols on the pianny and everyone else singing at the top of their lungs.

Then, The Mom and Daddy moved to Florida. My Precious divorced her kids' daddy and moved to Maryland with my two precious nephews. I divorced The Dad and married The Psycho Ex from Hell. And my entire family divorced me.

After five years with Psycho Ex, I set him free to torture someone else. The boys were happy. L&M came into the scene. Kal got married. BG was off to college, but home for Christmases. L&M's family started inviting BG and I to Christmas the second year L&M and I were going out. We became family again.

But it wasn't exactly my family. We were glomming onto L&M's family. And grateful that someone wanted us. Because Kal's definition of any holiday is to spend every single one of them with Wifeypooh's family. Every. Single. One.

I have not seen my older son on a holiday in 13 years. True, they 'get together' with us one Saturday before Christmas (one year it was on December 6th because they were busy all the other weekends, between their church obligations and Wifeypooh's family obligations.

I put up with it, let it happen, because I wasn't going to be a mother-in-law like The Dad's mother was a mother-in-law. When she died, she took her rightful place at the right hand of Satan. Bless her wicked, evil soul.

Meanwhile, my parents go from Florida to Maryland every year for six weeks so they can spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with My Precious. I miss them. All of them.

I miss my son. God bless BG, he makes sure Mommy doesn't get forgotten on holidays. He goes to L&M's family and loves them like his own. He spends Christmas Eve with us. One year, He and L&M and I went to a movie, and out to eat at Applebee's, on Christmas Eve. And he stayed over. Last year, we went to his house and spent Christmas Eve watching movies and chomping on some good food. He is a good son, and he knows that Christmas is one of those times that we have to hide all the sharp implements from Mommy so she doesn't end it all.

I hate the holidays. I know that when BG gets married, he will do the right thing and make sure that there's equal time for his mom. He won't become absorbed into his wife's family so deeply that I will cease to ever see him on a holiday.

Because like it or not, 'some Saturday before Christmas', even with the good food and the kids and presents, is NOT the same as having a holiday with your kid.

Bitter??? Yeah. I'm bitter. More and more as time goes on.

Angry??? Yeah. At myself for letting this happen and now not knowing one single way to stop it because it's their form of tradition. Trying to be fair an not 'make waves' will come back and bite you in the ass if no one on the other side is interested in anything other than getting whatever they want, whenever they want it.

Sad??? Yeah. I'm sad that I mean so little to my son that he won't stand up to The Powers That Be and say "Okay, time for a little 'equality' and spending time with MY family ON a holiday.

It ain't going to happen. I know that. He has to do what he has to do to make his life peaceful.

But you wonder how important you are to your own kid when there isn't one picture of his mother and his brother anywhere in their house. Especially when there are pictures of his wife's family prominently displayed on the mantle.

Can you see why I hate Christmas? I can't do enough to make it nice for BG, my one remaining hope of feeling 'family - my own' on Christmas. We've even stopped exchanging presents on Christmas. He's too generous and spends far too much on me, and I love him for it but feel guilty as hell. I live on a fixed income and have to provide gifts for Kal's group of four, and L&M's group of ten. And I send something nominal to The Mom and Daddy (usually late...but hey, I never told them to move to Heaven's Waiting Room. I don't get out much, especially to shop or mail gifts.)

Bah. Humbug. I hate Christmas.

I don't want, and don't need, any presents. Gift embarrass me. And make me feel guilty.

I just want some of their time. I just want to feel remembered in some way. I just want to go to L&M's family's house for a command-performance celebration without feeling the resentment from Sis-In-Law that she put out so much effort for us (even though she insists we go there and also demands that no one help her while we're there. Some martyr complex on that one!)

Is that too much to ask??

I guess it is. Everything changes. Everything. I need to give up the hope that someday before I die, there will be one last Christmas like we used to have, with my kids around me, and our kinds of food, and maybe a cobweb party, singing carols at the piano, and everyone bunking in so the tree is the last thing we see at night and the first thing we see in the morning, with wall-to-wall presents, just like in those wonderful old days when I had a family, nearby, who loved me.

I guess that's gone forever. Time to readjust the expectations, I guess.

Sorry to be a downer. Someday, it would not surprise me to become one of those Christmas statistics. I've come to loathe it so.

By the way, I've been reading your blogs. I just can't comment because most of you have changed over to some Beta thingie that won't let me comment without some sort of interaction with my anti-spam thingie. But I'm keeping up with you. All of you.

And I wish you all a Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

October's Post-Mortem

October was spent in a frenzy.

We had an apartment that had laid empty for five months. Well, that is to say, L&M and his illustrious Li'l Bro, Unky R, had an apartment that had laid empty for five months...

Reason? Unky R wanted too much money for the damned thing. He chased out the last tenant with rent increases. He wasn't getting anywhere with the present asking price.

L&M and I convinced him, after four months, that with the competition of over 100 apartments in the paper, if he ever wished to return this particular unit into a revenue-generating prospect, perhaps he should lower his sights...

So convinced, he relented and I was finaly able to tell prospective tenants that it was now affordable.

I do all the screening, the inquiries, the showing. Unky R's wife, Sister Cranky, wants nothing to do with the apartment bizniss. I blame her not at all...I don't want anything to do with it, either.

However, Unky R and L&M seem to have a different opinion of what I want, and as is always the case, they are right and I am wrong. So I am into it, up to my neck.

I hate it. In case I haven't said that about the landlord bizniss before, trust me. It's the frickin' truth. I hate it. I was in the landlord biz years ago with The Dad and The Rents. And my nervous breakdown at the tender age of 22 over landlording convinced them that this was not The Biz for Motherdear. So we dumped it. Too. Damn. Much. Aggravation.

In the case of landlording with L&M and Unky R, you can add Too. Damn. Much. Work.

Long story short, I managed to rent the place. But it needed cleaning and painting. (The guys had a busy summer and neither one had the time or inclination to get the apartment tenant-ready.) So we faced Crunch Time.

Crunch Time came down to four weekends, nine hour days, of cleaning, and painting, and cleaning, and painting, and having carpets cleaned, and cleaning.

I did most of the cleaning while Unky R painted. I also painted woodwork. LOTs of woodwork. Unky R did the walls. L&M painted, too - the floors, the ceiling, the windows.

I mean the floors with carpet and Pergo. No paint was supposed to be there. L&M manages to get paint on every place it shouldn't go, and haphazardly puts it where it is supposed to go. He's paint-challenged.

The ceiling was painted white. Unfortunately, L&M was edging the walls when he started painting the ceiling...and the walls were beige. Did I manage that L&M is paint-challenged??? Ask BG, who had to replace carpets because L&M 'helped' when BG bought his townhouse three years ago...he'll back me up on this one.

So, needless to say, we had to touch up the ceilings after L&M was done 'helping'.

The windows...well, when I say he painted the windows, I mean he painted the glass. Lovely touch, but bad for light and vision...

Thank God for razor blades. After I was done scraping the windows, I tried to use them on my wrists. The guys stopped me (and they really had no choice, curse them. Had they let me finish the job, they would have had to do the cleaning themselves.)

In addition to the four weekend, nine hour days, I spent two days over there myself, alone, painting and cleaning, in the middle of two weeks. Two, long, nine-hour days with enough bleach fumes to put me into respiratory distress. For company, I had a radio that only played talk shows. I hate talk shows. They drive me buggy. I didn't even have a phone to call up the talk show and say "How many idiots does it take to make a decent talk show??? Can you find a few of them and start them up?"

It took me three hours to clean the tub and shower. Another four hours to clean the stove. An hour for the range hood. I scraped three years worth of urine and feces off the sides of the toilet and the back wall behind it. And how do people get pubies on a bathroom wall???

I kept saying "Pigs, pigs, pigs, pigs, PIGS!!!" over and over as I cleaned. L&M was getting pissed at me (probably because he knew I was right and he was feeling guilty about dragging me into this). But tough on him. I HAVE to clean it. When tenants get the keys to one of 'my' apartments, they get the rental in immaculate condition. That way, they can't leave it crappy and say it's 'normal wear and tear' and because I take pictures of every nook and cranny, I have finally convinced Unky R that I am entitled to have the guys keep money from the security deposit to have a professional cleaning service come in and clean up after the Pigs leave.

'Cuz homie ain't spending three hours cleaning someone else's filthy tub (and four days immobilized after the project!) any more. If I'm gonna cripple myself over a Pig bathroom, it'll be my own Pig bathroom, not cleaning up after anyone who's lived in their house and never wiped down a shower wall for three years!

Plus, tenants seem to steal. Theirs do, anyway...this one stole all the bins in the refrigerator. Easier to pack the fridge up to move, I guess... And now I'm trying to find replacement bins because the new tenants moved in on October 30th and they have their fridge stuff in shoeboxes in the space where the bins should be.

And of course, Whirlpool is telling me that there are no such things as refrigerator bins. I have to go to Best Buy and find a Whirlpool fridge that has the same kind of bins in the door because then I can give them a model number that they can cross reference.

Apparently the bins were an 'option' that the dealer put in, and didn't really go with this fridge. Know how old the fridge is??? Four years old. And Whirlpool already has moved on and doesn't admit this fridge ever existed. if the cleaning wasn't bad enough!! I need this like a hole in my pointy little head!

In addition to my duties as rental agent, painter, and cleaner, I get to do the condition walkthroughs, take all the pictures, draw up and get the leases signed, and send out the final conditions statements after a final walkthrough when the tenant leaves. All of which is time-consuming and frustrating when you're fielding 100 phone calls and running credit checks on 20 potential tenants whenever a vacancy occurs.

I have to say, Unky R was quite impressed with the work that I did on this one. He offered to double my salary.

Of course, 2 x $0 = $0. CUTE!!!

There's no 'WIN' in my world.

But there seems to be a surplus of 'WhINe'!!!

Thanks for listening. I needed that!