Music Meloncholy

Today I put all of our CD’s in storage.

Music CD’s not Money CD’s in case you were confused. (As if.)

I found it really hard to do. 

But I’m on a quest for de-cluttering my house before the holidays start. Those babies are nothing but dust collectors and space taker uppers. 

But they also symbolize over twenty five years of Grant’s and my life together. 

When we first met I think we were both still listening to the occasional cassette tape. I still have two huge cases filled with cassettes including some of my favorite mixes that I had recorded in high school using a recorder sitting NEXT to the RADIO. You had to totally pay attention if you wanted to cut out the commercials. The Walkman was the greatest invention of all time and pencils were not just for writing with: they were, with their erasers, the trick to winding messy mayhem back into crucial life tunes. 

We also both had (and still have) an extensive collection of records that we combined with our vows of ‘till death parts us unless you decide suddenly you don’t like music-then you’re OUT’. I have known a couple of really nice people in my life who don’t care all that much about music but I would NEVER have married one. 

Did you KNOW that the invention of the compact disc is mostly credited to James T Russell who was born in Bremerton Washington in 1931? He lives in MY STATE! Who knew?! In 1965 he joined Pacific Northwest National Laboratory of the Battelle Memorial Institute in Richland Washington. He is still alive as of right now but I’m not sure where he is living. I’d like to write him a thank you letter. Anyhow, that is your history lesson for the day. You’re welcome. 

Putting the CD’s away I was filled with melancholy. There were SO MANY homemade playlists: ones we made for our kids and ones our kids made for us when they got tech savy. “Stuff Mom Will Like”. Hundreds of purchased CD’s, used until they skipped from the scratches. Thousands of songs that would take a book to list, because of the memories they bring to the light.

When I was working in Montana for a week, super pregnant with Maria, I came home to a major event: Grant had traded his beloved truck in for a fifteen passenger van, later named The Rambuski. It was the ugliest thing I had ever seen and I honestly thought he had lost his mind. “I just thought it was time to show you that I’m ALL IN with this kid thing. I’m down. But I also spent two thousand dollars on a stereo system with six speakers.”

That van rocked Spokane and we filled it up with kids, their friends, football teams, soccer players cub scouts and there was NEVER a time when the stereo was not playing full blast, little heads and big heads bouncing up and down to request of the minute. Oh those memories, they just fill my eyes. Every kid remembers that rocking van, and the white one we bought later, the Whitebuski, that was traded in this year, with a Tom Petty CD still stuck in the player, for Grant’s dream truck. It took fifteen years to come full circle, complete with Bluetooth to play songs on his phone. 

We can put the CD’s away because now we have a family Spotify account. I lied about the Walkman being the greatest invention of all time: it’s second. To be able to listen to any piece of music on the face of the planet with a 4 second search? 

An epic gift from the universe. 

I can climb into history, take myself to a life moment that comes back in full color and smell from a song. Or into the minds of my children when then send me a song they love via text. I love to try to feel what they feel when they listen to a song. 

I will put the CD’s next to the box of records and cassettes and we will play them for the grandchildren and they will be in AWE of our ancient and strange artifacts.   

Plus, just in case there is a zombie apocalypse we will still have music to listen to, provided there’s gas for a generator. It’s good to be prepared. 

Home Sweet Hurricane

I washed my windows today, inside and out. Now before you start feeling bad about yourself because maybe your windows are still dirty, DON’T. I do this one time a year tops, sometimes only every other year if we don’t put up Christmas lights, which tends to emphasize the grime, bird poop, dog slobber and the broken one right in the front. (We get a lot of window salespeople knocking on our door.) This year the windows were dirtier on the inside than they were on the outside, which tells you how good of a housekeeper I have been lately.

You see, I promised my daughter we would put up the Christmas decorations on the Friday after Thanksgiving. And I’m determined to do this. So this is why I cleaned the windows today: so the coffee filter snowflakes will stick to them and not fall off from the scotch tape being made unsticky by dirt.

I need to explain (mostly to myself) that the activity of decorating for Christmas strongly accentuates the shame I feel about my worn out, cluttered and almost always dirty home. I don’t really like admitting my shame. It goes against the very core value that I try to keep sacred which is to always be grateful for what I have. But I think that this might actually be part of what brings on the shame: I don’t take care of what I DO have all that well. I have been putting my time, talent and treasure elsewhere and not on my home.

Most of the time I’m just fine with things as they are and where I choose to invest the resources I have. But every so often, usually during the holidays, I find myself comparing my home to pictures people post on social media of THEIR homes, with all the pretty, orderly decorations and serene atmosphere. And that’s when I usually go on a cleaning frenzy to at least try to momentarily conquer the clutter and dirt, which can at least make the ‘worn out’ look loved instead of abandoned. 

I don’t think we talk about this kind of comparison shaming all that much: home shame. 

So I’m gonna come out of the closet and talk about it. Well, I WOULD come out of the closet accept I can’t get IN any of my closets because they are all  filled with too much shit. You can’t come OUT of something you were never IN to begin with. 

My home so often looks like a hurricane hit it. It’s all these people and pets.

But here is something for you (and me) to ponder if you ever feel embarrassed about your home and look at the perfect pictures on social media or visit your friends gorgeous home with a little green monster on your shoulder: 

Some people are just GOOD at making their homes beautiful: be it from plenty of money, lots of time or just natural talent and desire. Admire this. Enjoy it. Visit them often! Validate them! For this is their way of being in the world and it takes effort and diligence to make and keep things so nice.

But I believe that there are more people than not whose homes are dirty, cluttered or worn out. Sometimes it’s all three at the same time. They’re just careful how they take their social media pictures and crop out peeling paint or broken windows or dirty floors. But it’s a HOME. So let us validate them as well. They are more than likely putting their resources elsewhere and everyone’s priorities are relative. When it’s important enough to them they will wash their windows, not because other people are washing their windows or judging them for not doing so, but because they just want to have a little clarity.

And make sure the coffee filter snowflakes stick this year. 

Playing the Field for a Minute

I received an email from my husband today:

“Do we need to talk about anything?”

Below his words was a forwarded email from Apple: 

Dear Heather, 

There was a billing problem with the service you subscribed to: Clover Dating App. To continue enjoying this service, please update your credit card information. 

Regards, 

Apple

Grant has an Android phone and does not subscribe to any Apple apps, but he still gets the email notifications on all purchases which keeps all us iPhone users who share the same Apple account in check.

I went down the list of our iPhone/iPad/iPod/XBox users. 

I knew Duncan had only just recently separated his Apple account from ours so I sent him a picture of the message from Apple along with the text: 

“Hey there. Any chance you happened to subscribe to a dating service under my Apple account? I may or may not be in trouble with your dad. He thinks I’m playing the field.”

His response was three laughing face emojis and a “WOW.”

I wasn’t sure if that was a guilty response or that he was saying WOW because he thought I was guilty. It’s hard to tell people’s tone with texts.

His follow up was “I would not get an app like that” which I mostly believed. 

Dillin has been self sufficient for years when it comes to all things techy, so I sent a group text to Dan and David:

“Did one of you two fancy young gents download a Clover Dating app? Your dad is concerned I’m trying to find someone new to replace him so fess up and get me out of trouble.”

David: “I did not.” (This overly simplified response COULD imply guilt. Or it could be he was in class and not supposed to be looking at his phone.)

Daniel: “No” with another damn laughing face emoji followed by “I should though.” (Another possible guilty response: the reverse psychology approach. He is taking Psych 101 this semester and getting way too smart for his own good.)

This just left Mitchel and Maria to ask. But Mitchel was in the middle of two days of basketball tryouts so I didn’t want to stress him out over the idea that I might soon be dating someone new instead of his dad so I left him out of the texting inquisition.

I CALLED Maria because I can always tell by her voice when she is lying. She just laughed and said someone probably hacked our account and that I should just change the password. That seemed EXTREMELY suspicious to me. Especially when she abruptly changed the discussion to the Disney Plus channel that everyone in the family seems to be super excited about. Except me. Quite frankly I have enough pressure keeping up with Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu and YouTube channels I subscribe to. I need to take a vacation to get caught up on all my shows. Maria was worried that she was going to be bumped off because you can only have 7 different profiles per account. “Your dad and I share a profile on all the other streaming apps so why not Disney Plus? We share everything.”

But then an evil little voice whispered in my brain: “Or DO WE?” I DID take my wedding ring off in the TSA Security Line last week. That’s where it starts you know: one tiny step in the wrong direction. Maybe after that brief moment of not being married, my alter ego got caught up and subscribed to the service just to have some creative fodder to write about: all the men I COULD have if I WANTED to have them. And what’s with all the laughing emojis from the boys? Am I not date-able? Is that so far off the spectrum of reality? 

After I had my little mental temper tantrum I realized my thinking was very small picture focused. Besides the obvious fact that I don’t have TIME for a dating app (it’s hard enough choosing what series to watch in the evening before I go to bed), I have big picture ideas that mostly involve keeping Grant on my team. 

So I changed the password to our Apple account. 

Mitchel’s probably going to be super bummed about all those girls he will miss out on.  

Godzilla is Stomping on My Roses

Do you ever have days where your brain is just foggy and slow and the simplest things are difficult? Sometimes I have days like this right after days when I’m super “ON” and yesterday was all roses and sunshine where everything went my way, which used up a lot of energy, probably because I was movie star walking all day. You know what I mean, right? When you walk-strut to your inner theme music with total self assurance and you’re pretty positive everyone is saying: “Who IS that girl with the perfect hair and all that confidence? Is she a movie star just PRETENDING to be a flooring sales rep in order to get into character?”

Today I left the house with mascara and eyeliner on one eye.  

Then I lost an envelope of cash and I felt like Uncle Billy on “It’s a Wonderful Life” all freaked out and flusterpated wondering who the hell was acting like Mr. Potter and not letting me know I had misplaced my cash, because my NAME was on the envelope. I found myself being angry and all scowling at this mystery person, even though I only saw four people during the time I HAD and then LOST the envelope of cash, and not one of them would have kept it. But DO WE REALLY KNOW PEOPLE? I back tracked my steps and tore my car apart. Later I got home and found the envelope in my front pocket, folded in half. Which tells you there wasn’t THAT much cash in it. But STILL. In what universe does one not check their pockets FIRST? 

The same universe that let me leave the house with half my face in makeup. 

The same universe, I might add, that made my brand new car named Penelope have a lit up exclamation point on her dashboard. Nothing else, just an exclamation point inside a parenthesis. (!) That could mean ANYTHING. Maybe Penelope was trying to tell me my wad of cash was in my pocket. (!) OR it could mean the she was about to detonate and I’d best get out asap. But you’d think that there would be a few more exclamation points for that: (!!!!!) Right?

I pushed a bunch of buttons to see if there was any further explanation and all I managed to do was click off the speedometer with the lit up numbers so I had to look at the actual meter with the little clock hand pointing to ABOUT how fast I was going. Then I clicked the same button and my stereo turned off which meant it was just time to go home before any more trouble happened. I simply can’t drive without music. In my defense Penelope is complicated and her manual is as thick as a bible and I’m super busy right now. Though I wonder how thick my manual would be if I had one.

My brain fog was also partly because I was tired from Godzilla chasing me last night in my dreams. It’s been forever since I’ve had a monster dream and this one felt like it went on all night. I kept running from house to house trying to hide and thinking: “Godzilla is just going to step on this house and crush me but I don’t know of any bomb shelters anywhere and it’s not like I’m just going to stand out in the open”. So I was super exhausted when I woke Grant up to tell him about my dream. He didn’t seem to think there was any explanation other than it being another ‘Heather Thing’. My book ‘12,000 Dreams Interpreted’ was zero help so I googled it on a site called ‘Dream Dictionary’ and apparently Godzilla represents a person or a situation that I am worried is going to destroy everything I have worked for.

So all day I was a little worried and distracted about the idea of this person or entity that I DON’T EVEN KNOW ABOUT trying to destroy my life. Plus how can I go from movie star walking down a path of roses to a metaphoric Godzilla stomping on my dreams in less than 24 hours? 

You know what I think? 

Fuck Godzilla. 

(!)

Gimme Some Sugar

It’s Wednesday. And I’m calling it day three of ten damn days. I’ll explain what I mean in a bit, but first you should know that Grant is calling this ten day thing one more ‘Heather Thing’. 

The nerve of some people.

He made the comment the other night when I told him what I was thinking about doing during the ten days before Thanksgiving. “Sooo many Heather things” is what he said in what felt kind of like a judgmental voice. I was rather taken aback and thought about picking a fight and asking him what the hell he meant by that snarky comment. But I had just hunkered down in bed and mostly wanted to finish my library book because one of my promises to myself in 2019 was to read one fictional book and one non-fictional book per week, which while not a completely reasonable thing to try and do every single week, once it’s on the list I have to at least try, my hope being to at least stay the SAME IQ and not get stupider.  

So I bit my tongue and did NOT pick a fight and instead just nodded and said: “Yep. One more damn Heather Thing, but at least I HAVE things. I’d be super bored otherwise and then there would be no living with me. So you’re welcome.” 

Because also on my list is “Stop picking stupid fights with your husband that you can’t win.”

Anyway, I finished the library book (check) and did NOT pick a stupid fight with Grant (check). Consequently, I felt very good about my decision to not drink any alcohol or eat excessive sugar for the ten days before Thanksgiving. I wouldn’t call this quest a detox so much as a paring down of the ‘eat and drink all of the bad things all day long since last New Year’s Eve’ mentality so that in ten days I would feel less bad about eating and drinking all of the bad things until ten days before NEXT Thanksgiving. 

Basically what I’m saying is that I know that ten days is not enough time to build a habit. I’m a fan of the thirty day habit building time frame. That’s really not what I’m wanting to accomplish here. I KNOW myself. I can read two books a week and I can write a blog post every day but I can NOT deprive myself of a glass of wine or two for the rest of my life. Nor can I resist dessert forever. 

But. I think sometimes it takes a short term deprivation to help you appreciate certain things a little more. That whole “absence makes the heart grow fonder” is not just about people. And maybe ten days will work me in to a little more moderation. Also, I want to make sure that I can be an okay person without wine and dessert, that my personality does not depend on wine and sugar as much as my girth does, which could use a little un-girthing. But that’s not the point. My girth is sensitive and really needs to be left alone for a bit and let my personality take over. 

So here I am on day three of ten damn days. But really? I feel pretty good. Though I’m probably still full of sugar and booze from last week when I was in Vegas, which could explain why I haven’t gone into diabetic shock yet. And while I do miss digging in to the delicious red wine that I bought three cases of from my bestie’s ‘source’ for only TWO DOLLARS AND FIFTY CENTS A BOTTLE (which is why I bought three cases-HELLO! INVESTMENT), last night I just filled my wine glass with sparkling water and I’m pretty sure the bubbles went to my head because I felt drunk. WHICH MEANS that I can be high on LIFE!

So here’s to seven more days (plus 365 more) of THAT!

Not Now I’m Cleaning the Kitchen

The other day I visited the daycare that four of our six kids went to after our home daycare friend closed up shop. I was called in to help the owner who is my long time friend replace some of the flooring in a couple of areas. It has been years since I have been there. When we had David our fifth child, I called UNCLE and found someone to come to our house to help. It was just silly the idea of hauling the older boys to grade school and three little ones to daycare every morning. It was not only exhausting, we were pretty much going broke. So for several years we added high school and college ladies to our tribe, some of whom now have grade school age children of their own. Our last life saver, had two babies during her time helping us and got to bring them with her to work, which was a win win. We only had one bad experience with our eclectic mix of support: we call her the ‘almost let the house burn down nanny’. But that’s a different story.

Walking in the doors of the daycare I was brought back instantly to how it felt to leave my kids every morning. I pretty much cried every single day but I’m not going to lie, some days they were tears of relief. Raising kids is HARD and my outside the house job back then was WAAAY easier. So I’m probably pretty lucky I had to work inside AND outside the home to help make things work.

The walk through started with the infant section and it was all I could do not to plunk down on the floor and get a baby boy fix.

But that would have been weird. And frowned upon since there are probably rules about who gets to hug and smooch on the babies in a public daycare.

There were six of them, all boys, yummy and soft with their bottles and their binkies. My friend started this infant division twenty years ago for me and another family who just kept popping out babies. Infant care is an expensive thing to provide as a daycare owner: Washington State Law says the ratio of caregivers to babies has to be 1 to 4. Which is why it’s so expensive for parents. The going rate per baby is now $1600. Yikes!

We toured the toddler rooms next. They had just finished up lunch and were getting ready for naptime. The eating area looked pretty much like a tsunami had hit but one little boy was still contentedly eating at the table all alone closing his eyes with each bite, savoring, until he got in trouble for being slow. The teacher gave him a choice in her detached teacher voice: he could take his plate to the sink or she would do it for him. He didn’t like either of those choices and pretty much pitched a shit fit. I don’t really blame him. Eating fast is bad for your digestion and he was clearly still enjoying his applesauce. The enabler in me wanted to sneak him a cookie to put in his pocket and eat under his napping blanket but I didn’t have any on me. Plus I suppose that too would have been frowned upon.

Next up was the pre-school section, ages 3 to 5. If you ever need an ego boost, go visit a herd of four year olds and you will leave feeling like like you are the coolest person on the planet. I’m pretty much famous now. Every single child came up and asked me what my name was and told me theirs, along with a fun fact about themselves. Things like “I just washed my hands.” “I hate applesauce.” “I have a fish.” One of them asked me if I was a police officer. I said “NO! Even cooler! I sell floors!” And they all oohed and aahed. Children are so perfect. I’m not sure I realized that when I was raising them. I was just so crazy busy surviving. I wanted to sit down on the floor and hug every single one of them and tell them how perfect they were and that their parents LOVED them.

But they too were getting ready for naptime. The younger ones had already gathered their mats and had hunkered down with their blankies, some conked out within seconds, which I found fascinating and wondered what was in the applesauce. But one little girl just didn’t want to comply and the teacher was talk-yelling in at her in this on the edge of hysteria voice to “GO TO SLEEP”. I wanted to ask her if she would instantly fall asleep if someone was talk-yelling at HER. But I reminded myself how desperate I was sometimes for my children to JUST GO TO SLEEP.

Still, I wanted to start a mutiny. Gather them all at the craft table and make glitter signs that said: “Say NO to NAPS!” or “We can sleep when we’re 50 and OLD.” or “Naps are for Pussies.” But I didn’t. Because that too would have been weird. And for SURE frowned upon.

But some things occurred to me during my visit.

First, I really miss little kids. So much.

Finally.

It took me awhile: fourteen years in fact. I simply had to get over the exhaustion. But now? I want to hang out with little kids again. I want to tell them they are perfect every day and hug them. I want to make giant messes in the kitchen with them and not care about the clean up. I want to not feel pissed off and robbed when they won’t take naps and just maybe lay down with them and tell them stories till I fall asleep. I’m different now, rested and more relaxed and a little less in a hurry to push through things like I did in my thirties, which I honestly don’t remember much of. It’s probably because I was running through life with my eyes closed and my breath held.

Mind you, I don’t have much guilt over how we raised our kids. My husband and I did our absolute best and all six of them turned out PERFECT in their own unique and awesome way, even if I didn’t TELL them they were every single day. BUT I hope that someday in the future, I get to make big messes in the kitchen with THEIR kids, because no matter what you hear from wise old women when you’re in the middle of raising your babies, a messy kitchen is gonna bug the shit out of you.

Until one day it just doesn’t. 

P.S. To my mostly grown up children who are still living at home: I do NOT mean that you don’t have to clean the kitchen when it’s your dish night. When you don’t it bugs the shit out if me. So make note. 🤣

Bone Yard Art

I have been working on this new sculpture. What do you think? 

Does it speak to you at all? 

Well it does to me, you sillies, in the form of barking and tail wagging by Bella and Cooper who seem to somehow KNOW that when I come home with fourteen bags of groceries, that there are two brand new bones in one of the bags. Cooper has a nose for them and Bella believes everything he says except the thing about strange people coming into the house being friends. She is our real watchdog. Cooper can be bought with sweet toned words. Bella requires three forms of indentification and a letter of reference. Labs are so different than Chessies.

They both seem to know every bone by heart and when one is missing. We keep all their ‘old bones’ in milk crate in the living room and Grant and I like to make bets on how fast they will get them ALL back out after we make the human kids put them away. I know I should throw at least a few of these away but it’s so funny to watch them fight over the favorite ONE of the moment from by now about fifty options.

Grant rolls his eyes every time I come home with new bones, but it’s kind of an addiction, seeing them get all worked up and serious when they each get a brand new one: they go to it as though the world depended on them getting every bit of meat and marrow taken care of like a DOG BOSS. Then they have this weird agreement to switch half way through the process, and then change their minds and switch again after a little barter snarling. Each bone costs $3.99 meaning that the ‘sculpture’ you thought was some kind of Heather Crazy Art cost $103.74, which is more money than I will probably ever get for any of my REAL crazy art so it’s possible I could be onto something new and cool: recycled dog bone art.

Don’t copy me, it’s my idea.