The scene right now.

The Wiz worked all afternoon building a wall in the basement.  When he was finished he made a fire with some of the wood from the old closet.  We ate dinner in the living room to enjoy it.  After dinner Wiz and Goobie played guitar while I knit.

Now Wiz is upstairs reading Suess to the boy and I’m knitting and enjoying the fire with some chocolate milk and trail mix.

The back of the sweater is almost done.  I had some time to work on it yesterday while we drove to Tacoma to check out a Westfalia.  It wasn’t the one, but we had a great day anyway: eating out, seeing the Norman Rockwell exhibit, checking out a hobby store.  It rained almost all day but that just made it all the better to be in the car, knitting.



Once I started cleaning the oven I couldn’t stop.  I took out all the drip plates and cleaned under their edges.  I removed and  scoured all the knobs.  I scrubbed the backsplash.  I complained to Whiz about not being able to get under the stove top to clean spills that had crusted and burned in the holes under the drip pans.  Lo and behold, Whiz just lifted and the whole stove top opened up to reveal deposits of filth never before exposed in our house.  Once Gooby was in bed I got to work and entered some weird time warp.  Hours passed.  Who knows how long I would have scrubbed if I hadn’t happened to glance at the clock and realize it was midnight.  Not perfect but it will do.  Goodnight.

oven cleaning

I’m curious: how often do you clean your oven?  For me it’s kind of a once in a lifetime event.  Seriously.  Up until today I’d never cleaned one.  It just never occurred to me that it was something that needed doing.  When I baked an apple crisp recently though the smell really bothered me.  Then I read about an overnight oven cleaner in my little eco cleaner book and got inspired.  Sadly, I never tried the recipe.  My “pre-cleaning” escalated from sponge and rags to razor blade and steel wool.  Soon Whiz was removing the heating element so I could clean underneath.  After that he pulled the whole oven out from the wall to change (and actually rewire) the bulb.  Meanwhile, I got to clean a horrifying amount of filth out from under and behind it.  Pretty soon Whiz had the door taken apart to clean some brown sludge that had dried in a wide drip down the inside of the window.  This particular revolting drip had actually been there since we bought the oven refurbished over 12 years ago.  It just never occurred to me that the door could be taken apart to clean between the panes of glass.  But Whiz is good like that.  Once we had a clean window and a functional bulb in our clean oven for the first time ever we couldn’t stop admiring it.  Deeply, profoundly satisfying I tell you.  I wish I could accomplish a project like this every day.

Check out that little window.  Now we can watch our cookies bake!  And I don’t have to hide the dried brown sludge behind a kitchen towel.  Which I’ve done for so long that I stopped realizing I did it.

A mess

Our basement laundry room is absolutely horrible.  To the point where we have to cultivate delusion and denial just to get on with the day-to-day.  It’s been horrible for a long time.  There’s no way I’m going to post a photo.  But just to paint a loose impression:  water leaks in when it rains.  There’s moldy drywall and, as of this morning, there were bags of ingredients for organic fertilizer that had gotten wet, one of which had rotted open and stunk (the cottonseed meal).  Also a pile of partially full paint cans that at one point I left out for someone from Craigslist who said they come by and pick them up but didn’t.  Instead they got wet in the rain and rusted and I took them back inside.  Also: cobwebs, random glassware, a safety gate with missing parts, really shabby camping gear (the stuff we actually use is upstairs), rocks, beach glass, a tupperware full of ceramics destined for a mosaic project + lots more crap.  Ick.   So anyway, today, thanks to the miracle of screen-casting, instead of going in to campus to hear Sam’s lecture I just dropped off Goobie at daycare and went home (after a nice family breakfast at the Wild Mountain Cafe- Whiz worked from home today because he had a dental appointment).  And then for four hours I sorted through crap in the laundry room, filling the trunk of the Passat with stuff to take to Goodwill including all the rusty paint cans (I heard from the Whiz that you can take those to Goodwill now).  I also mixed up a batch of organic fertilizer and applied it to the garden beds, swept up filth, vacuumed cobwebs, moved stuff around more strategically.  It’s not ready for an after photo yet but it is considerably better.  And I feel considerably better too.  Like I dumped some psychic baggage.

I’m not exactly peaceful though.  Whiz and I had a fight at dinner out of the blue after a totally nice day together.  Then he went upstairs to put Goobie to sleep (after some kind words to me luckily) and fell asleep himself up there.  I still feel unsettled.  The gist of the fight was that we have almost no time alone together (my point), Whiz’s counterpoint being impossible for me to reconstruct.  He doesn’t disagree.  Yet somehow it leads to a fight.  Why we can’t just agree that we have too little time alone together?  Even if we can’t do much to fix it.  At least for the time being.  I don’t know.  I wonder why it isn’t more important to him.  I wonder whether I’m creating problems that don’t need to be there.  Finding things to complain about when really I should just be happy.  I’m jealous of Nie Nie who goes to bed with her husband every night even though they have four kids.  It was my mistake to slip into co-sleeping because it was an easy way to handle night feedings.  Now we seem to be stuck with the current arrangement.

Sigh.  In other news (and somehow this feels related to both of the preceding paragraphs): I fell in love with a house today.  Goobs was asleep when I went to pick him up from daycare so I went to a nursery and bought my mom a euphorbia for the blue and white pot from Goodwill.  When I returned Goobs was STILL asleep so I ended up at a nearby open house.

Really the pictures convey absolutely nothing of the appeal of the house.  It was very dated and showing signs of a little water damage here and there, but OH MY LORD ALMIGHTY, THE VIEW!!!  The main floor had a big living room/ dining room and kitchen that all opened up onto a little deck and a huge sweeping view of the sound.  The Olympics. . . ferries. . .  sunsets. . . you could just imagine the distant pod of orcas surfacing to breathe.  There were other houses close on either side but it felt very private because of the way everything oriented.  If I had that house I would never ever want to leave.  Seriously.  Dinners, morning tea, writing, playing board games, yoga, baking cookies.  Everything against that phenomenal backdrop.  It stuck some primal chord in me.  THIS is where I want to situate my family.  Also: all three floors have the view.  The top floor has three bedrooms.  The main floor has one that would make a perfect office in addition to the large living room, dining room and kitchen.  The bottom floor has a sprawling family room with a fireplace and kitchenette as well as a separate room attached by  french doors that could serve as bedroom.  Mentally I installed my in-laws down there.  They are 79 and 80 and we have very recently initiated a campaign to get them to relocate out here.

I was still a little giddy over it when I got home.  The Whiz took one glance at the flier and dismissed it outright.  $729,950.  Almost three quarters of a million dollars.  It’s like he takes offense that I would be interested in anything so clearly out of our price range.  After he went to bed I did the math and concluded we’d have to make payments of almost $4K a month on it.  It’s totally out of the question.  Yet my mind keeps nibbling at it.  If the Whiz’s parents sold their house. . . If I got a full-time job. . .

It’s funny to feel such a strong reaction to a house.  I remember when my mom fell in love with a street of dreams house when I was little.  I felt scornful of her.  For a long time the only possibilities that tittilated me were related to careers in wildlife conservation.  But now my priorities are different.  When I walked into that house I immediately saw my people in it.  Extended family living downstairs, big casual meals in the dining room, dinner parties, late nights with girlfriends, sleep-overs, art projects, baking, games, hobbies and homework with our children (yes we had more than one) at tables by those amazing windows.  An office for Whiz to work at home.  There’s not much yard and I wasn’t particularly excited about remodeling.  But those rooms are absolutely meant to be filled with people!

It’s late. I’ve gone on for much longer than I intended.  Just in one of those moods I guess. My heart feels all swollen and bruised and I can’t seem to quiet my mind.

Spare key

Here’s what I woke up to this morning:

The Whiz was gone to work but this note made me feel nice.  After dressing Goobie for the day we read stories for an hour.  Then ate oatmeal.  I cannot tell you how nice these relaxed days with my sweet little boy are.  Finally we ventured out to do errands: the bank, the post office, the hardware store.  I bought a bolt to affix the handle to the lid of my $6.99 Goodwill pot.  It’s chipped but I’m in love.  I also had a spare house key made and bought a “rock” to hide it in.  When my brother was here we had a locking the keys in the house scare (luckily the basement door was open), and I don’t want to find myself in a stupid situation again.  So there you have it: the improvement of the day: spare key purchased and hidden.  I’ll also count the gentle rehabbing of my new pot.  And, what the heck, also the plastic cover for the Svan that I finally got around to ordering.  We’ve had our Svan for over a year- bought in almost perfect condition for $90 off craigslist with the cover included.  I’d put it near the very top of my list of best baby gear yet.  Just in case you’re in the market.

And, yep, that’s THREE improvements in ONE day, for those keeping score at home.

Martin Luther King Day

From now on I’m determined that our family devote this holiday at least in part to community service.  Today, however, there was no such thing.  I had to go to campus for a T.A. meeting.  Daycare was closed so I toted along Goobster.  He fell asleep on the way though and I couldn’t bring myself to wake him and bring him to the meeting mad, so I sat in the car with him and talked on speaker phone with Sam and the T.A.s.  Ridiculous, right?  On the upside it was a motivator to dress up a little- much more comfortably than I do for lecture but still more than I do for trips to the grocery store. And it’s way more fun to be out when feeling presentable.

Goobs woke up after an hour or so while I was still on the phone and was amazingly quiet and good watching construction machinery and eating a muffin (a bean and rice flour, fruit-juice sweetened, flax, blueberry muffin), some string cheese and a banana.  When I was finished I took him out of his seat with no real plan and let him walk a little until we were on our way to the Henry which was closed and then up to red square where there were signs for the Burke which inspired me to head that way.  It was really nice.  The walk and the museum.  Later we had hamburger at home and then made a trip to Goodwill.  I got a red enamel pot and two jackets for Goobie.  Also a butter dish and ice cream scoop.  It struck me that my life in this moment is better than any other version I ever could have dreamed.  Really.  I don’t know how I got so lucky.

Improvement: I cleaned out the lower shelf of the cabinet.  Just one shelf but it made a huge improvement.  I don’t have any photos.  Even if I did I would never post them.  Way too humiliating.  It’s actually confusing to me that I let it stay as bad as it was for as long as I did.  It was basically one huge pile of little bags of beans and dried fruits and nuts and pasta and stuff.  Total hippy nightmare scene.  Some of the dried fruit was shriveled beyond all recognition.  And I found a larvae in one of the bags of pasta.  Most stuff got thrown out and the rest organized in glass jars.  I can’t believe I let my brother see that mess.  Plus many of our friends over the last year at least.  Sometimes I just stop noticing stuff.  It’s inexplicable.

The unfortunately hued bean and rice flour, fruit juice sweetened, blueberry, flax muffin.


A very beautiful alphabet book I bought at the Burke

I'm worried this is the kind of thing parents feel totally smug about buying and children consider super lame.

Bedroom rearrange

While the Whiz read books with Goobie before dinner I cleaned behind the furniture in our bedroom and rearranged the dressers, armoire and chair.  Unbellievable filth.  I’m not sure I love the new arrangement, but it is an improvement.  Sadly, that room STILL desperately needs a rug.