Monday, August 31, 2009

Decisions & Eggs

I dropped Anatomy. It was at the wrong time, on the wrong days. I still had no idea what to do with the boys before their school started (Dan volunteered to work from home, bless him), Paul has come down with whatever Eli had last week, and for some reason I was on the verge of choking and crying whenever I thought about the class. I feel both massively relieved and like a complete chicken. I thought that if I could get through Chemistry after what happened this January, I could get through anything, but right now I just feel overwhelmed. I'll figure it out. The only thing I'm really angry at myself about is that I didn't have this freakout BEFORE the semester started - I could have just enrolled in a less-threatening class, like Algebra, and still felt like I was moving forward. I'll have to look into Adult Education through the school district.

On the home front, we had our first little pullet egg yesterday! It was about half the size of a normal egg, but that's to be expected when the girls are not quite grown up yet. It has been insanely hot and we've had to refill the ladies' water daily. We are on more restrictive water rationing as of tomorrow, so I'll be lugging the boys' bathwater out to the garden every time from here on out.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


I started Anatomy this week. Already I kind of hate it and am overwhelmed. There are a LOT of bones in the skull, and they have many, many bumps and folds and holes and dents that all have their own names. It doesn't help that Dan is gone this week, and Eli has been running a fever since Sunday night (it seems to be fading away today, thank heavens), and it's disgustingly hot and we have no way to cool the house, and I'm exhausted because I don't sleep well when I'm alone (the boys have been at mom's house because I have nobody else to babysit them at 7:00 am).

Yesterday in lab, the department head came in and talked to us about making sure we really want to be nurses. She said 50% of all new nurses quit within 2 years of entering the field. There's a nursing/health career orientation this Friday afternoon and I may get a babysitter so I can attend it and learn more about what to expect. This speaks to a secret fear that cropped up this spring: what if I'm making a mistake? What if I hate nursing? I've worked a job I loathed before in order to improve our lot, and that drove me into temporary insanity (literally - I was not in my right mind). I do NOT want to repeat that experience again.

So I feel like I'm back at square one. I need to meet with a career counselor. I just want a career that I can do part-time, makes decent money (supplementing Dan's income), and would let me live in a place with better access to wilderness.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Yup. Freak.

Just ordered a book on greywater systems (as of September 1st we go down to being allowed 1 day of outdoor watering), a book on humanure (exactly what you think it is), and a replacement menstrual cup (you menfolks really wanted to read that, didn't you?), because apparently I left the old one in Montana.

They greywater & humanure books serve dual purposes - they are for experimentation both here in CA and for the ol' family cabin in MT. Our greywater system up there is an embarrassment and potential pollution source. Our toilet system has some trouble handling the demands placed on it by 20-30 people using it over the course of a week.

My Uncle Steve suggests a pump system that carries the greywater uphill and dumps into a cistern of some sort that we get pumped once a year, but I think we'll easily overfill most readily available and affordable cistern options. I proposed jackhammering a wide hole approximately 2' deep and making a proper leach field under the deck, where our current woefully inadequate system is, but Uncle Steve is concerned that without some kind of fissure in the bedrock we won't get any percolation and still have the same old problem - but without clearing and jackhammering we'll never know if we could. Or we could combine the two ideas and run a pumped line up the hill and dig in a proper leach field where there is some soil to percolate through. No matter what, we have to start clearing out most of the old soaps and shampoos that simply won't biodegrade cleanly.

I'm going to try a composting toilet system in the outhouse. If we do it correctly it won't stink, and will decompose over the year while we're gone. Then we can dispose of it somewhere on the property with no worries about the nasty sort of things that usually lurk in people's, ahem, output. I know this is the lunatic fringe for most of you, but this is real stuff. Check out Joseph Jenkins' website to be additionally amazed and/or grossed out.

This all just leads to what I think I will focus on after becoming a nurse - designing homesteads or communities that are as self-contained as possible. I wish I knew so much more than I know now - I look at a situation like the Duroville debacle and wish I knew how to get in there and help plan a solution for something like this. I think something along the lines of sustainable/utopian community planning is ultimately calling my name. Nursing/medical know-how will be a facet of that.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Albatross Removed?

We are accepting an offer on the townhouse today. A pair of newlyweds. The pleasant surprise is that Kim was right - there is a bit of a boom going on right now for condos, so the place is apparently worth a bit more than we thought it was. I may still occasionally kick myself that we didn't sell three years ago and walk away with $100k, but at least with this I can sleep at night and not feel like my greed contributed to the economic crash.

Now we wait to see how the inspection goes, what the environmental hazard report says, how the termite report turns out, and any other surprises that lay in wait for us in the next 30 days.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Unexpected Moments

Daniel and I went to a funeral yesterday afternoon. It was for Morgan, a girl that Daniel went out with for a while when they were teenagers. She was 32, and she lived in Witchita, Kansas, and she was thrown from a horse and hit her head and died in the helicopter on the way to the hospital.

I'm not sure I had ever met her - she was part of the Disneyland semi-goth gang that Dan used to run with in his teenage years, so it's possible I had met her in passing. I'm not even sure how long she and Daniel were involved with each other, but an ex-girlfriend is still a chunk of one's life, no matter how tiny, and now she is gone. She had a husband, brothers, parents, friends.

I cried and cried, all through the service. We mostly went because Dan's friend Amber was very upset about Morgan's death (they had been close as teenagers and had re-connected online, like so many of us) and Dan wanted to be there for Amber. But I'm fresh back from Montana, where so many ghosts live now (Dad, Aunt Marilyn, Uncle Niles) and a funeral was just too much for me. Dan was pretty stoic, but I know he felt sorrow too.

This is the sort of thing that makes me think a lot about the past. I think I only have two exes that I wish never to see again. I'm back in touch with two of my great teenage loves on Facebook, and I'm really, truly happy to see that they have grown up into handsome men with happy marriages and apparently good lives. I value them and I value all of my friends past and present. It's such a cliche, but this makes me resolve to maintain contact with all of you whom I love.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Taming of the Eli

Paul's school is doing a pre-school co-op. Thank heavens. It used to be free, but they lost their grant and weren't sure they'd be able to do it, but they worked out a paid program and hallelujah we're in. I have to pay a lump sum, but it works out to $160 a month which is insanely cheap in comparison to any other local program.

I *know* that Eli's anger and behavioral issues partially stem from my poor mothering skills (and don't say nice things in the comments, I can't bear it, you don't live here and aren't privy to my daily failings). That's why I'm so excited about this and hope it will help both of us to re-set our interactions with each other.

Since it's a co-op, I am expected to participate once a month. Which means I will have to find a creative solution or also pay somebody to watch E two mornings a week. Dan is very good about the extra expense, he makes the good point that this is an investment.

We are meeting a realtor today who thinks he can sell our place within a month and maybe put a few dollars in our pockets too. Fingers crossed.

Friday, August 14, 2009

High Anxiety

I should watch that movie again - I can't remember if I liked it or not.

I am mildly nervous about our townhouse. The world's most awesome tenants are moving out this weekend. I have nobody else lined up, and I've even knocked $100 off the monthly rent. It was spectacularly bad timing, with the so-called vacation and the almost broken ankle and all that. If we don't find tenants soon, we may have to move back in. Which would be kind of lousy, but I'm steeling myself for it anyway and already have a backup vegetable garden plan - Willie, a lady in my ward, has offered her bare backyard for anyone who wants to grow veggies there. I'll give the chickens to Elizabeth, move what I can to Willie's yard and keep the tools there. I can start planting fall crops next month. It's good for Willie too - she's a widow on Social Security and she would of course get to eat all the veggies she wants.

It wouldn't be so bad to go back. I don't want to, but it wouldn't be the end of the world. I also have it listed on Craigslist as a FSBO for $240k, we'll see if I get any bites other than Nigerian "businessmen" or people claiming to be Russian investors. Already I'm thinking about putting the master bath back in, some hidden shelves above the carport, and a window in the "loft" section of the second bedroom. It will all be OK.

I'm making a big pile of books and other household items to give away or sell, just in case. Stephanie: I have a fun old Sunset book on desert gardening for you. Kim: I have a Chinese bamboo steamer for you, and probably a heck of a lot more kitchen stuff. Anybody want lots of home-decorating sewing patterns? I have a box of 'em, but couldn't bring myself to give away the costume patterns.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Irredeemably Stupid

Seriously, I'll never learn.

I have an injured ankle. I have to find new tenants. I have overdue library materials. Did I elect to just drive straight home in 2 days? No. I elected to follow my mother's dream and drive over to the Olympic Peninsula, a place she says she has always wanted to see. I strongly suspect she just wanted to see Forks because, yes, my mother is a Twilight fan. In all other ways she is a well-educated and reasonably emotionally balanced person, so I'll cut her some slack and only mock her a teeny bit.

So when we could have been home in 2 days (in theory; we seem to be disaster magnets right now), instead we took 6. Mom doesn't like camping very much. The boys fought a lot. We saw some beautiful stuff and I definitely want to see the peninsula again with Dan, but MY GOSH driving home from northern WA takes a bloody long time, even on the 5. We stopped at my aunt & uncle's house in central CA and had a layover day before the final push home. I've slept at least 10 hours both nights since I've been back. My stupid ankle is still swollen and doesn't want to work right.

No more whining. I got to see the REI flagship store in Seattle and it was overwhelmingly huge. I think our family destiny lies north. I got to see the cute little house my family lived in during their Oregon Experiment - the neighborhood has fallen into disrepair and I think that made Mom feel better about how the whole thing didn't work out. My Aunt Joan gave me an adorable pair of antique children's skis - she knows we want to learn cross-country skiiing. Seeing Uncle J and Aunt Joan was wonderful, even if my children were astonishingly poorly behaved while we were there.

There's something to be said for learning from the bad times but only remembering the good.

Sunday, August 02, 2009


That could well be the title for this entire trip. I am in Montana right now, sitting in in our ramshackle family cabin and looking out at Queens Bay and the Mission Mountains. Turns out that the bed & breakfast just up the hill has wi-fi with no password required, and my Mom brough her mini laptop (which I am exceedingly bad at typing on). The contrast between primitive cabin living, with no phone, spotty cell coverage, an outhouse (we have an indoor toilet now, too) and wireless inernet is funny, I promise you.

The trip up was the stuff of legend. In Mesquite, where it was 113 F, I filed a missing person's report with the San Diego Sheriff's department. Dan was supposed to be home Wednesday night, but he didn't answer the phone. I finally called a friend at 1:30 in the morning who drove over to confirm Dan wasn't home. I called the scout ranch; no answer. At 7:00 I called the sheriffs to see if perhaps he had been in an accident. They had no record of it, but the ranch is out in the middle of nowhere and if he had run off the road for whatever reason nobody would have seen him. I declined to file a report then, waiting to see if he or the ranch would call me. I cried a bit. At 8:00 am, I filed the report, then cried a lot. At 9:00 am the scout ranch finally called me to report that Dan had left the ranch that morning at 6:00 am. I sat down and cried a whole lot more, then got insanely angry. This was not the first time Dan had felt it unnecessary to let me know he wouldn't be home when he said, but this was the first time he had been approximately 12 hours late. When he got home and listened to my escalatingly panicked messages, he called me. I got out of the car so the boys wouldn't hear and I cried and bit his head off like I never have before in our lives. I have never felt that relieved and angry.

Later that day, I fell off of Nathan Wanlass's backyard steps in Salt Lake City and sprained my ankle in an insanely painful manner. We slept at Jenn Johnson's house that night and in the morning my ankle was huge and puffy and unable to support any weight, so Mom took me to an urgent care center to get it x-rayed. On the way, the car filled up with gasoline fumes. So after dropping me off, Mom went down the block to a Midas, where she dropped off the car and walked to McDonald's with the boys. My ankle was not broken, but I needed crutches, so Mom brought the boys back to the Urgent Care and left them with me and some sympathetic people in the waiting room (thank you Barbara from Canada, you saint of a woman) while she walked to Walgreens and bought crutches for me. The car needed a new fuel rail, so 2+ hours and $350 later we were back on the road. The front desk staff at Memorial Intermountain InstaCare were also saints, opening up the TV and letting the boys watch cartoons.

Exhausted, we made it to Pocatello and got a hotel room. Saturday morning, Mom woke up unable to lift her left arm without excruciating pain - she had somehow pinched a nerve in her sleep. Somehow, between her useless arm and my puffed up right foot we managed to drive to Missoula to pick up Dan at the airport. Oh, did I mention taht Paul and his cousin Noah fought like cats & dogs the whole way? We made Dan drive to the lake.

It doesn't end there. Mom & I went into town that night for groceries and supplies. As we were pulling into the WalMart parking lot (there isn't much open at 9:30 pm on a Saturday night in Polson), Mom got a call letting her know my nephew Sammy had gotten ahold of his brother's medication and was in the hospital. He was fine, but Mom just lost it and I admit I used some very vulgar language to exprress my frustration. In all the hubbub, with me having to fish out my crutches while Mom cried, I locked the keys in the car. So we had to wait over an hour for the AAA dude to get there and let us in. At least he got there before the rain started.

Remember all this the next time you get ready to go on a long road trip.

The happy ending is that all is well here. At one point we had 26 Kinnicks, 2 extended cousins, and 2 dogs all sleeping here. It was a little nuts. The dock was almost wiped out, so the younger menfolks rebuilt it and it looks AWESOME now. The boat shed collapsed (apparently it was a wild winter), but the boat is still useable so Paul & Noah have been able to go innertubing on the bay. Despite all that trouble to get here, we are already planning next year's trip.