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Monday, November 29, 2004



Since I'll be among those NOT attending "group therapy" in New York (ya brats), I'm going to tell you a little post Thanksgiving story. If you don't care for stories of resourcefulness in the face of poverty, well, so what, I'm telling it anyway. Have a sit. Get your coffee.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Pua, who lived on a tropical island in the middle of the ocean. For most people, that brings the image of paradise, sea breezes, perfect temperatures, beaches, and little brown girls in hula skirts and coconut bras. Oh shut up. I said most people. Work with me here. This little girl wasn't born into the tourist and vacation mentality of Hawaiian nirvana. Her family was just shy of constant hunger.

At Thanksgiving, her daddy, not being able to afford a turkey, and being in the military, brought home FREE cans of SPAM from the base. For those of you not in the know, more Spam is consumed in Hawaii than in any other place in the world. It's the poor man's filet mignon. You think I'm kidding? Check it out. Anyway, back in the day, it was given free to military families. Along with rice, powdered milk, and big wheels of government labeled cheese. A healthy pre-Atkins days diet to be sure.

Anyway, her mommy, being the clever woman that she was, learned to be very creative with Spam and one Thanksgiving decided to take a few cans and literally mold it into the shape of a turkey, which she then stuffed with white rice. She proudly presented it to her family and called it a "Spurkey". Smiling, she uttered the words, "God bless us, everyone, including Uncle Sam." It wasn't what everyone at the table expected, but it was welcomed and in between bites of the gelatinous goodness, there were giggles. It was, indeed, a Thanksgiving to remember.

Cut to 1997. Pua has grown up, has a family of her own now living in the midwest, and that family has fallen on difficult financial times. No turkey. She plans a lasagna dinner for Thanksgiving. The children are sad, homesick, and the thought of lasagna for Thanksgiving dinner isn't going over very well.

One day, while she was at her horrible job, making $6.38 an hour and working 60 hours a week to help make ends meet, she hears a contest on the radio. The deejays of the morning show; Bob and Tom, are asking people to call and share their most memorable Thanksgiving stories. Pua tells her friend Kris about her "Spurkey" story. Kris does a spittake with her coffee and tells Pua; "YOU MUST CALL THAT IN!" Pua dismisses it and unbeknownst to her, Kris calls it in on her behalf. The deejays say they MUST speak with Pua. Kris hands Pua the phone across the cubicle. They put Pua on the air and she tells the story while the rest of the department pops their heads over their cube farm walls and listens. The deejays are laughing their asses off in disbelief. Pua wins a $100 gift certificate to go grocery shopping. Turkey instead of lasagna for Thanksgiving!

The following day, when Pua comes to work, her desk is covered with cans of Spam with construction paper turkey tail feathers taped to them and a sign over her cubicle that says; "Happy Spurkey Day."

To this day, Pua still gets Happy Spurkey Day cards from her friends in the midwest. God bless us, everyone, including Uncle Sam.

And they lived Spurkily every after.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

A Thumb Out in the Wind

A Thumb Out in the Wind

One of Charlie's birthday wishes was to go to a movie. Since he had studied about the Templar Knights when he was a boy, and since he's a closet treasure hunter who is constantly trying to get me to take weekend trips out into the desert with him to look for opals (yeah, right), we went to see National Treasure. Friday afternoon at the movies, while sitting through the previews of "soon to be released" flicks (sometimes there's so many I forget what movie I actually went to see) the trailer came on for Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy.

The first shot on the screen were two words: DON'T PANIC! The theater was packed and yet me and a guy behind me seemed to be the only two geeks in the audience. The reason I know this is because he and I were the only ones who started clapping and fidgeted in our seats like we were going to wet ourselves. I LOVE Hitchhiker's Guide. I think Douglas Adams was a comic genius. I miss his work. I know he had a lot more great stuff to offer us. On my 42nd birthday, I remember thinking I had arrived...me, my babel fish, my towel, and a box of toothpicks. Come to think of it; I have arrived. And next May, I'll be standing in line for opening night tickets. I'll probably see that guy that was sitting behind me.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Bringing in the Cheer

Bringing in the Cheer

Today is Charlie's birthday. I would go on a long tangent about the kind of person he is, but I think I've done that. As self-effacing as he is, I know he would say; "Oh stop!" Besides, I'm pretty sure everyone knows how I feel about the guy. I've written enough about him to put people into a diabetic coma. Yet, it would still never amount to describe fully what he means to me. I really don't know anyone quite like him. If we were to play a word association game and you said "Charlie," I would respond with "sacrifice." He gives without regard for himself. He always has. He always will.

He just got home from spending the last few nights at his mom's and I wondered what I could give him for his birthday. I thought it would be fun to take him to the Clay Aiken concert tonight. Not that he's a fan or anything, but because Caris is singing in the concert. An honor to be sure. Her choral teacher thought that she and a few of her Madrigal mates were good enough to sing backup for Clay. Apparantly Clay thought so too when they went to audition. Tonight's the big night. So I called the box office of the Orange County Performing Arts Center thinking that I would get a couple of tickets. The only tickets available are in the $100 each range. I know that doesn't seem like a lot of money. But it is. So, we'll have to just give her a kiss and a "break a leg" for luck and send her off on her musical way.

I just asked him what he'd like to do for his birthday. "A pint at the pub." Sounds good to me.

Happy Birthday Chooch. I love you.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

An Attitude of Gratitude

An Attitude of Gratitude

I've been a little grumpy. There's too much going on and I'm doing my best to keep up. Despite everything that's going on in my world that's causing me concern, I can't help but think that I'm one damn lucky lady.

Last night, Charlie and I decided to take a little break for ourselves and we went out for an unusual mid-week dinner. He was going to be away for a couple days and we were both feeling a little sorry for ourselves. His mom's live-in aide was going home for Thanksgiving and she didn't want to come and stay with us, so Charlie was going to go and stay with her until Friday afternoon (his birthday, by the way). Granted, we will SEE Charlie tomorrow for Thanksgiving dinner at his sister's, but it's just weird that I'll be seeing my husband, but not going home with him. He won't be sleeping in our bed. I hate that.

So, we went out for our date night on Tuesday instead of Friday. While we sat outside on the restaurant patio, under a beautiful, clear California sky, and talked. It's been a tough week. Some unexpected news about the health and pending surgery of one of our children has us worried. The frustrations of family situations with regard to taking care of Mom is taking its toll. People have been uncooperative and selfish. I've been suffering with a migraine since last Friday that I'm quite sure is stress related. And Charlie is tired. I see it in his eyes though he doesn't complain.

As we talk about all of this, I tell him about the news that's shaken my little blog family. Sebastian, now fighting for his life in Australia. How someone's mind was taken over by such pervasive thoughts of hatred that they would take it into their hands to harm an innocent. Of course, this is not confirmed, but suspected. As I tell my sweet husband this news, the tears roll down his tired face. He says to me; "Pua, I don't understand this. I can't get my head around the why's. It just makes no sense to me this sick thinking and the negative energy behind it. I'm grateful we are who we are. I'm grateful that our children know love above all things. We are blessed, and we did well by them. I'm so sorry for what happened to Sebastian. I pity the loss of humanity of whomever has enough hate in them to do something so despicable. I'm very sorry Honey."

I squeeze his hand and thank him, though I only know Sebastian by what I learned on the tribe and through Aaron. Charlie knows my heart and how tender it is. It's something we share; a tender heart. It's something we've passed on to our kids. I adore this man and the empathic tears that run down his face. Tears for someone he doesn't know. Tears for the lack of understanding in our world. Tears because he is who he is. He leans in to hug me and I whisper; "I know. I'm sorry too." All thoughts of what we're dealing with seem so small for the moment.

So here I sit, the night before Thanksgiving, blogging at midnight because my husband is sleeping at his mother's house across town. The dog has already noticed that half the bed is up for grabs and she's making herself comfortable. I could be pissy since I want him here with me. I could be, but I'm not. I'm just really grateful. Grateful that I share life with someone as understanding and loving as he is. Grateful for this blog medium that brings me a ragtag family of beautiful people who accept me for me. Grateful for the love I find in both worlds.

Heal quickly Sebastian. Happy Thanksgiving Everyone.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Talented Charmers

Talented Charmers

Last night was Report Card Night. We had already pretty much braced ourselves. Instead of expecting the best but preparing for the worst, we just cut to the chase. Let me just say that I have to agree with my offspring; Math is Evil. The four of us; me and the kids, believe that Math and anything to do with Math is the spawn of Satan. It's an evil trick, perpetrated by the minions of Hell to keep musical theater students from achieving their 4.0 GPA. Of course, my Design Engineer husband thinks that we all need to stop whining. But he can't sing, so he doesn't count.

Charlie and I go to the high school, stand in line to collect Caris and The Grommet's report cards, and then, like contestants of "The Amazing Race", stand off to the side and rip the envelopes open. Just as expected, whatever subject is their passion is the grade that keeps their heads above a C average. For Caris; an A in Drama, an A in Choral Music, and a B in French. In Geometry and AP History; well, let's just say it ain't good. For Bryson; an A in Waterpolo, a B+ in AVID, and lo and behold, a B in French, but oops!, what's that ugliness in Algebra?

Now, on Report Card Night, you go and get the report cards in the cafeteria, and then you go into the big gym and there are "teacher stations" set up where you can have a VERY brief chat with your kids teachers about their grades. Though this is NOT intended to be a parent-teacher conference forum, many parents use it as such, and literally CAMP OUT and talk the teacher's ears off instead of get a quick synopsis of their child's academic performance. My LEAST favorite parents are the ones that have the "golden child" and take up all of the teacher's time with how fabulous their kids are and how they don't even have to TRY to get straight A's. Yeah, yeah, yeah, so your kid's poop doesn't stink. Good for you. Now please step aside so I can find out where I can get a Math tutor for my Algebra and Geometry challenged children.

Finally, we get up to the Geometry teacher, introduce ourselves, and a knowing look crosses the teacher's face. He says; "Ah yes, Caris. Beautiful girl. Sweet student. She's given up. I don't bother her anymore. We've just gotten to the point where she just won't even try. But I understand. It's just not worth beating her up about it." This is not news to us. We know. The question is, what do we do about it? He makes a suggestion that we drop her to basic Geometry at the semester instead of putting her through torture. She'll still get her requirements done by graduation time, but why force her when it's quite obvious that she's fighting it. He continues; "Until her attitude about it changes, which I don't think it will quite honestly because after all, math isn't necessary to make it to Broadway is it?, then neither will her grade." He tells us not to worry too much about it. She'll be fine. Um. Ok. We walk away a little speechless.

Next, AP History. My philosophy on Advanced Placement courses has always been that I'd MUCH rather my child take the regular course and get good grades, then have them take AP courses and get low grades. I guess I've been thinking wrong. We go up to the teacher who absolutely GLOWS with smiles as we sit down. "CARIS! Oh my gosh. What a stunning girl. I am SO proud of her. Not to mention she's talented, and GORGEOUS! Isn't she gorgeous?" Well, yeah, we think so, but we're supposed to think so. Her teacher continues: "Please, please, please, don't be alarmed by that grade. She is SO smart, SO intelligent, and she's just hung in there so well. I mean, I told her during the play that she really had to keep up on her work in History. I even threatened her that when the next auditions came up that she should skip it and not do the next play, but that's just silly isn't it? She loves it so much after all. I see her making it one day. And the way I figure it, if their school experience isn't full of their loves and passions as well as the balance of academics, then what good is school? Besides, Caris is so sweet, and so kind. I just love her. She's going to be fine." Good Lord. I think I've given birth to a saint. Hmmm. I see a pattern.

The same thing at Bryson's Algebra teacher, his AVID teacher, his science teacher; "Yeah, the grades are not great. But don't be alarmed. He's such a great kid and he's working hard. His only problem is he's quite a charmer with the ladies. Other than that, I think he's gonna be ok." Uh huh. Well I think we can see what's happening here. My kids have charmed the heck out of their teachers. Nope, they haven't charmed great grades out of them. They've just charmed them; period. It's amazing to me that in the "citizenship" portion of the report cards, right next to the offensive grades, are the comments like: "A Pleasure to have in class," and "Conscientious Student." So they get mediocre to low grades, but their teachers like them. How does THAT happen?

Charlie and I walk out to the car silently. Once we get in the car, he breaks the silence:

He: So, are we supposed to punish them or not?

Me: (smiling) I think if we do, their teachers will be mad at us.

He: (laughing) No kidding. They might report us. Ok, so do we say anything to them when we get home?

Me: Good job?

He: Good job on what?

Me: Being Artful Dodgers.

He: Well, their teachers are right about one thing; they do get an A in Charm. They get that from me.

Me: (eyes rolling) You wish.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Sleep in Heavenly Peace

I tossed and turned all night last night. Poor Charlie. It just wasn't a good night. Some demon quite bent on not allowing me the proper dose of sleep bounced in and out of my head. Too much on my mind I guess.

On Friday I picked up a few members of my birth family that were visiting from Hawaii. My sister Ulu, her husband, two daughters, and grand-daughter, and my mother. They were here for a week for their annual pilgrimage to Disneyland. Here they've been doing this for YEARS now, and me living only 12 miles from the Magic Kingdom, not knowing. Until now that is.

It's been a very nice visit. My mother holding tight to my hand while we sit and talk, gets weepy just looking at me. She says again and again, touching Averie, Caris and Bryson's faces, how beautiful her mo'opuna (grandchildren) are and how happy she is that I found her. She says how comfortable our home is and how much love she feels there. She says how happy she is that I've grown up ok. All the things I've longed to hear a parent say, she is saying. Sometimes, there are quiet moments where she says nothing. She just closes her eyes and I know that she is saying a silent prayer to God, whom she believes brought us together after all this time. It's surreal for me. But lovely.

The time passed quickly. Too quickly. Before I knew it, we were driving them back to Anaheim. Soon, in just a week, another group; another sister and her family, will be here and we will open our home once again. I look forward to the times I spend with newly found siblings, but there's something so different about connecting with the woman that gave birth to you. I can't imagine ever giving up one of my babies, but I understand the reasons why women may choose to do it. I understand that she was doing what she thought would bring the greatest gift to not just me, but my adoptive parents. It just didn't turn out quite the way she hoped. For that reason, my heart breaks for her. For that reason, it's good to see her smile. For that reason, I'm glad I found her. I think it gives her a sense of peace. The sense of peace that I needed for myself, I think my mother needed more.

Now I just need some sleep.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Next Stop: The Post Office

My daughter Averie, as many of you know, wants to be a comedy writer and absolutely LIVES comedy. She's the walking SNL trivia book and I daresay, I don't doubt for one second that she's going to be anchoring Weekend Update one day, joining the ranks of her hero(ine); Tina Fey. Averie is also in love with a comedian named Dane Cook. She tells me that he's her husband, he just doesn't know it yet. Same with Jimmy Fallon. Ditto Steven Lynch. I wonder if my daughter is Mormon. Whatever; I'm an Eddie Izzard girl myself (5/9/04 entry). Anyway, for the moment, Averie is Mrs. Dane Cook. Dane Cook calls the Department of Motor Vehicles "Satan's Asshole". I used to agree. Until Monday. Now I'm quite sure that the United States Post Office could give chase for the title. Wow, that was a long seque for a post office story.

So, I'm working my way down the TTD as you recall, and the next stop after my fingerprint/name scan at the police sub-station, is the post office. I've been knitting away like a little round knitting machine trying to beat the holiday rush and I have quite a few necks that I'd like to warm up with a soft, cuddly hug of yarn. Oh I'm sure you're thinking that it's all very sweet and benevolent of me. But you should know that it's all a part of my evil plan to cover the Earth with scarves while at the same time losing weight. The way I figure it, I should knit my way to a size 6 by NEXT Christmas. Yes, that's right, it's all about me. That being accomplished, I gotta get these puppies mailed, so off to our friendly USPS I go.

It's not yet reached the holiday frantic time there, but still, when you walk in the door you have to take a number and wait your turn. I pull my number tab and find that I'm number 96. They're on 82 right now, so I and my armful of packages take a seat and wait. The post office is much like an airport; great place to people-watch. This is usually a fun activity for me, but today will be one of those days I will shake my head and wonder where these freaks come from. I'm about to be sandwiched between some people who are in serious need of Paxil. In fact, I would have been inclined to offer them some of mine, but I'm trying to maintain the image of Evil World Dominatrix.

I'm sitting happily, watching the people come and go, and a good 15 minutes passes. Around about "Now Serving No. 93", a rather large gentleman (6'3", 275 lbs.) walks in with a box full of mail. He notices the "take a number" machine, pulls a tab, looks at it, sighs and grumbles. He also notices that there's a number on the floor, and he picks it up. Just then a postal worker calls out; "Number 94, please!" and our large, grumbly friend walks RIGHT UP to the window. Now my friends, please remember, people have been coming and going over the course of the 15 minutes I, and others, have been waiting. And this guy just walks right up because he happened to find a 94 on the ground. A few people watching start to whisper among themselves, and then, one of the customers goes over to the window and approaches Large Grumbly Man:

Postal Customer: Excuse me. But I saw you pick up that number off the floor. A lot of people were here before you and you really should be honest and take your proper turn.

Large Grumbly Man: Why? Do YOU have Number 94? No? I didn't think so. I do. No matter how I got it, I got it.

Postal Customer: That's really rude.

Large Grumbly Man: Deal with it. Now go sit down.

Okay, now my blood is starting to boil. It's one thing to cheat and know it, it's another thing to be a douchebag when someone points it out. Not only that, it's really bothering me that the postal clerk didn't say something to him when he saw there was a problem, he just took the number the guy presented. Meanwhile, number 95 has been called and then 96...me. I walked over to the woman that had the dispute with Large Grumbly Man and offered her my number. She smiled and thanked me, but she declined. I walked over to the window and found that I was the station next to Large Grumbly Man, still being helped with his big box of letters. The postal clerk helping me is making small talk. I keep my ear open and listen to a conversation between Large Grumbly Man and the clerk helping him:

LGM: (pointing at a fuzzy looking picture on the clerk's desktop) Cute dog.

Postal Worker: That's not my dog. That's my baby.

LGM: Damn.

Postal Worker: Something you want to say?

LGM: No. Does he favor your wife?

Postal Worker: What number did you have again?

LGM: 94

Postal Worker: Really? I can't seem to find it. What's that number you have in your hand?

LGM: I gave you my number. This isn't it. This is 03. It was just an extra.

Postal Worker: I'm sorry, you'll have to wait your turn.

LGM: You're kidding me, right?

Postal Worker: Sir, if you'd like to create a problem, I can call Security.

Large Grumbly Man decided to take his box and sit down. As the postal worker called out the next number, I leaned over and said, "That was great! I was hoping someone would do something." He winked at me, pointed at the picture and said, "Thank my dog. Good Halloween pic, huh?"

I'll never make fun of people who dress up their dogs for Halloween again.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Your Name is WHAT???

So yesterday I had this whirlwind day of catching up with all the things I've needed to do since I've literally been "out of touch" with the outside of my house world for over a week. Charlie calls it "The Tyranny of the Urgent", all these must-do things that keep life running smoothly. If you can call it that. I knew I needed to prioritize or I wasn't going to be successful. I knew that I had a long-awaited night out with the hubby to look forward to, so it was imperitive that I muck through the day and get those things done in order that I enjoy the evening out without the proverbial monkey on my back. Margaritas taste SO much better when you've completed a TTD (Things To Do) list.

First things first. In all the house fixing hubbub, I've neglected to mention that I received word from the Secretary of State that I PASSED my Notary exam with flying colors! My sister Loke and I had been waiting on pins and needles for two weeks since we took the test, calling each other every day to see if one of us had gotten their letter. We were both pretty sure that we'd bombed. On Thursday afternoon, she'd called me to let me know that she'd gotten her letter and she passed. So now I was extra worried. Why hadn't I gotten my letter yet? Being the ultimate pessimist, I was sure that meant that I'd failed. HOURS went by. No mail. I paced. No mail. I looked up and down the street while I shoved dirt. No mail. FINALLY, at 7PM the letter carrier arrived. I nearly knocked him down running at him to get my mail. I think I startled him, as I stood there ripping the letter open. YAY ME! I'm gonna be a Notary! Now, according to my letter, I have to go get my fingerprints scanned. I put that on my TTD list for Monday.

Monday arrives. The TTD is pretty extensive. First the police department to get fingerprints scanned, then the post office to mail packages, then the grocery store, then Michael's to get poster board for Caris' project and more yarn for knitting (my new diet technique...knitting is supposed to keep me from stuffing my chub-a-lub face!). If I stick to the list, I'm gonna be fine.

Stop number one; the police department. This was a police sub-station literally run by little old ladies who volunteer. Make no mistake, they look proper and official in their blue uniforms. I had a 2:00 appointment and I arrived 10 minutes early. I informed the lady at the front desk why I was there and she smiled and asked for my ID and my scan paperwork. Now, please understand. I'm Hawaiian. My FULL LEGAL name is longer than the alphabet. It's never been an easy process to fill out forms that ask for your FULL LEGAL name and as we all know, every form you fill out asks for your FULL LEGAL name. For me, and members of my family, this is no easy task. So I hand the lady my form, and my driver's license. She looks at them and then gets that tell-tale look on her face and scrunches up her brow. Then she looks up at me:

Lady 1: This is your name?

Me: Yep. That's my name.

Lady 1: WOW. I've never seen anything like this.

Now she turns away from me and calls her collegues over. They look over her shoulder at my ID and paperwork. They look at me.

Lady 2: Are you Hawaiian?

Me: Yep. I'm Hawaiian.

Lady 3: Does this name mean something?

Now I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Is she an idiot? Of course it means something." I used to think that too when I was younger and I got this same thing over and over again. But now I just take it all in stride. It's part of the process. I've learned not to fight it. I've learned it's a gift. I've learned it's a wonderful conversation starter and I've met many great people this way.

Me: Yes, it has a meaning. (I already anticipate the next question)

Lady 3: What does it mean?

No matter how many times I answer this question, it still causes me to blush. It sounds so conceited saying it, and yet I have to remember that I didn't name myself. My mother did. So there's no reason for me to be embarrassed. But I also feel it's my cultural responsibility to educate and so I always break the name down into the literal translation, word for word. Maybe in this way, I can help people see how beautiful the Hawaiian language is. So here we go:

Me: The first part is "Pua"; that means "blossom" or "flower". It's pronounced POOH-AH.

The Ladies: Oooooo. Pretty.

Me: The second part is "Makana"; that means "gift". It's pronounced MAH KAH NAH.

The Ladies: Ahhhhh. Nice.

Me: The third part is "Okalani"; that means "of the heavens". It's pronounced OH KAH LAH KNEE.

The Ladies: Ohhhhh. Beautiful.

Me: This part of my name, put together, means "Heavenly Flower Gift".

The Ladies: (Looking at each other and then smiling at me) How Lovely!

Now please understand that this is just my MIDDLE name. I have a "formal" first name, a maiden name, and of course, my married name. Because I'll be fingerprinted and a background check will be run before I get my commission from the Secretary of State, I have to list ALL of my names. Now the ladies are enjoying the conversation, telling me about all of their trips to Hawaii and how much they love it. They ask me questions about whether or not I speak the language fluently (I don't), whether or not I can dance the hula (I do), how I ended up living in California (I met a Californian when I was a teenager and married him).

As pleasant as all of this conversation has been, they suddenly realize that someone has to take all of my information and put it into the LiveScan system. Now they aren't as excited about my name. Lady One offers the paperwork to Lady Two. Lady Two offers the paperwork to Lady Three. They all have the doe in headlights look. I'm very close to offering to enter the data myself, just to get the process going. Just then, Lady One says to Ladies Two and Three; "Rock, Paper, Scissors?"

That's a first.

Monday, November 15, 2004


I am a gelatinous mass of emotion. Quite likely to explode into hormonal outbursts of the tearful variety. Don't panic. Just hand me the tissue box and let me wipe away the runoff from the saline factory I like to call my eyes. Once I blow my nose, I'll be ready to begin again. But, just so you know, it's more than a little bit possible that I'll start blubbering again.

No, I'm not PMSing. I'm just tired. Very tired. Tired to the point of exhaustion. And I didn't do NEARLY the amount of work that my poor husband did in the last four days. Last night, we looked at each other after listening to one another moan and groan about every aching muscle in our bodies and lamented about how OLD we felt. As much pain as we were in, the kind of pain that when someone offers you an Extra Strength Tylenol you laugh, we still found the muscle that makes a smile happen and made it work. We were done.

Done with what, you ask? The "Ugliest House on the Left" no longer holds that title. After 8 years of wishing with empty pockets, in the span of 2 months of backbreaking work, and a home equity loan, it's finally over. On the outside, at least.

I know that sounds so trivial in light of the state of our world. I know there are huge issues in people's lives, including ours, which make something as silly as fixing up your house seem so unimportant in the grand scheme of things. But if you only knew. If you only knew.

I have to hand it to my wonderful husband. He kept his promise. He said we would be done by the middle of November. Just in time for a visit from my birth family. Their plane arrived at LAX from Hawaii last night. Just under the deadline, The King of Procrastination came through.

Please don't think I'm the bitch of all wives. He KNOWS this about himself. His mother tells me it's hereditary, this "I'll do it tomorrow" thing. His sisters, all three of them, suffer from it too. To someone like me; someone who has always had the need to see a project through from start to finish, no matter what, it hasn't been easy being married to a procrastinator. How do I manage to keep our offspring in line when their own parental unit is constantly claiming; "Don't worry Honey, I'll get right on that project tomorrow!" Famous last words. The same last words I hear from my kids when I ask them to do their homework; "Don't worry Mommy. I have time." The next thing I know, a child is doing her History at 9:00 pm on a Sunday night. Or when I ask for someone to take out the trash, or feed the dog, or pick up the bathroom...you get the picture don't you? So you can understand it when I say I am beside myself with joy. Yeah, I'm sore, but happy.

I also have to say that I am probably the most grateful for friends. Our friends; the Smiths (yes, that's their real name) watched us over the weekend. They KNOW my husband well. They know that not only is he a procrastinator, but he's also a very proud man. He doesn't ask for help easily. That comes from years of abuse by an alcoholic father, and having to be "the man of the house" at an early age. When you're the one in charge of a mom and three sisters, and you're trying to hold everything together, you just don't ask for help so easily. Bless him; he's learning. Even at 46, it's never too late.

Anyway, Joe Smith watched and waved at us over the last four days, everytime he drove by. He'd come over and asked on Saturday if Charlie wanted help and Charlie responded with "I think we're ok, but I'll let ya know. Thanks!" Joe smiled. He knew Charlie wouldn't ask. Finally, last night, when we were losing daylight and it was just Charlie, me and the Grommet, and we still had two pallets full of sod to lay (fresh sod spoils if left on the pallet longer than a couple days, so we HAD to get it installed last night or lose $400 worth of sod) Joe pulls his truck up, turns the high beams on spotlighting our yard and says, "Let's lay some sod!" I followed suit, pulled my van around and turned on the headlights. Within 20 minutes, my friend Nancy Smith (Joe's sister-in-law), her nephew Peter, and Joe's brother-in-law Kenny, were all in their work duds, deep in sod. While we filled in sprinkler trenches and leveled soil, Charlie finished the sprinkler system hookups. Then, in the dark of night, with only car headlights to help us see, we finished laying the sod.

As I stopped to take a couple of pictures last night, I cried. There, through the camera viewfinder, I saw our friends, in nightfall, on a Sunday, working with us side by side. We are blessed. After the work was done and we were all sitting on the porch having a much deserved beer, Nancy piped up; "Charlie, you gotta stop being so damn stubborn. We love you. You're family. Don't you know that by now?" Charlie put down his beer and hugged Nancy and everyone down the line and with tears in his tired eyes replied; "I'm a very lucky man. And I love you guys too."

That says it all.

Before Posted by Hello

No time to play? Poor Baby! Posted by Hello

Old, termite-eaten garage door getting replaced. Posted by Hello

Painting; no more ugly, chipping, yellow-green! Posted by Hello

"Uh-oh", says Bryson..."Guess this means WORK, huh?" Posted by Hello

Always time for a cuddle break. Posted by Hello

Roto-tiller at work. Posted by Hello

Check out who's watching the work crew! Posted by Hello

Engineer Charlie works his sprinkler magic. Posted by Hello

Trenching for the sprinkler system. Posted by Hello

Charlie and Bry...The Sod Busters! Posted by Hello

At 8:00 last night, friends and neighbors took pity on us and came out to help us finish the job. Posted by Hello

No Longer "The Ugly House on the Left" Posted by Hello

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

A place to lay my weary head...

I know, I know. It's been forever! My humble apologies. Life has completely dragged me around by the ear like a mischievous child. So, I'm going to update and it will probably not be nearly as amusing as it should be. In fact, it may be downright boring. But, I promised that I would catch up and I always try to keep my promises.

First things first; the play went off without a hitch. Caris did us all quite proud, and I imagine that the Bard would have been quite proud as well. She brought the fair Hermia to life. What made it even more wonderful is that she got to play opposite her best friend, Taryn. These two, who have known each other since they were three, have always aspired to do theater together. And so they have. Yet they have always had to split the lead roles. This time, it seems the parts of the "small of stature" Hermia, and the "tall of stature" Helena, were written just for them. As such, they got to be in the play TOGETHER, and to add sugar to the sweetness, they played best friends. How perfectly fitting. Everything seemed to go off without a hitch, right down to set strike and the cast party afterward. Turned out that nearly 50 kids showed up and we ended up having to kick them out at 1:30 am just so that Charlie and I could get some sleep. Still, when we woke on Sunday morning, there were a few of Caris' friends sleeping on the living room floor and couches. All in all, I'd say it was a smashing success. Especially when Caris hugged us both and told us we were the best parents in the world.

Today we celebrated Caris' 17th birthday by driving up to Malibu and having lunch at Gladstone's. It was a "Girl's Day"; Averie, Caris, and myself. Averie was kind enough to let us use her gift certificate that she received as part of her "consolation prize package" from the Ellen Degeneres show. This caused a bit of a stir amongst the waitstaff as they all wanted to know why Ellen's name was on the gift certificate. So Averie ended up telling them the story of her appearances last year. It was kinda nice to get the red carpet treatment. We had the best time together and giggled a lot. Perfect stress relief from the wild couple of weeks we've had.

While we were at lunch, Charlie called Caris and surprized her by telling her that she was now an insured driver and she was now able to drive solo. This was quite possibly the best present she could have received. As I type this, my baby girl is out driving and visiting friends, happy as happy can be. Yeah, there's worry. But that comes with the territory.

I think a well deserved night's rest is in order. Sleep sweet.

Rub-A-Dub-Dub, 3 Dorks in a Tug! Posted by Hello

HURRY and take the picture Mommy! Posted by Hello

Bobble Heads Posted by Hello

Happy Birthday Beautiful! Posted by Hello

Leftovers in a foil shark. Posted by Hello

Averie and Caris at Caris' bday lunch today in Malibu. Posted by Hello

Caris (Hermia) and Taryn (Helena) goofing off before the play opens. Posted by Hello

Averie helps with the theater lobby decor. Posted by Hello

Egeus (Hermia's father) warns Hermia and Lysander that he will put his daughter to death if she does not marry Demetrius as he orders. Posted by Hello

Hermia tells her father and the Duke that she would choose death over having to marry Demetrius instead of her beloved Lysander. Posted by Hello

Demetrius and Lysander fight over the hand of Hermia. Posted by Hello

Lysander tells Hermia that he is hers alone. Posted by Hello