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1:11 p.m. - 2012-10-24
Grumpy With Perspective, always a good thing.

I've been out of sorts for the last couple days and I'd been thinking on it and realized barring real tragedy this is as bad as it gets with me these days. 'Out of sorts'. Perversely this realization made me feel better. No yawning black pits of despair. No paralyzing depression. None of that hopeless bleak stuff. I'm not even unbearably sad, just a bit weepy and cranky and in no mood to suffer fools gladly. Writing is a slog, but last night I sketched out the bones of a new painting so not even my creative mojo has gone completely offline. In the black dog days the only creative thing I could manage was plotting out the best method and place for suicide. So, 'out of sorts'? Okey-doke. I can be out of sorts for a few days.

I hadn't spoken of her before, but Wolf has a new kitten. Her official name is Anna (Wolf's tip of the hat to his friend and mine Anna), but we mostly call her 'Mew' or 'the baby'. She's absurdly cute, growing fast but for the first week or so she was so tiny that all three of us humans would go stupid with charmed delight over how ridiculous it was to have this fully formed miniature cat in our house. From the first Anna didn't take any crap from the other pets. This audacious grey and white fuzzball who from nose to tail tip was smaller than a blueberry muffin would look up at the looming giant (by comparison) Princess and hiss her displeasure. She'd take a swat at Princess's nose and then just glare at the dog as if daring her to try anything. Princess, of course, was horrified. My poor wee doggie always sees herself as low pet on the totem pole. She went all droopy and passive-aggressive with us, refusing cookies and skulking away when we tried to pet her. Classic displaced sibling behavior. Sort of like the sulk Alex has been in since June of 1997 when we brought Wolf home. (Seriously, my elder kid has had a case of the ass for almost 16 years now over having to share his parents, life and spotlight with his snot-nose little brother.) The other cats have accepted Anna with grudging grace. Aloof Lucky has even taken to sharing his afternoon sunbeam with the baby and has been seen licking her head. Mandy-the-attention-whore mostly ignores the kitten but with the humans has been clingier than ever. Whether direct punishment for taking in another cat or whether it's just the unintended consequence of her revved-up attention seeking, Mandy has made it her life's mission to kill one of us on the stairs by winding around our ankles and getting in our way. She's also upped her efforts to get outside which is NOT a bid for freedom, it's simply another attention-getting gambit. When she does get out she goes three steps, then squats down and looks over her shoulder going, "Well? Aren't you going to pick me up and carry me back inside now?" A trick I remember pulling myself when I was about 4 years old and thoroughly tired of Gidget getting all the attention. We'd get home from visiting the relatives or from my Da's Sunday soccer game and I'd feign sleep so somebody would carry me inside the house from the car and maybe even tuck me in bed. It never worked. One parent would unbuckle and carry in my little sister while the other would poke me and joggle my shoulder and tell me to get out of the car and go inside already. And hurry up, kid, they had things to do.

I'm nicer to Mandy. She at least is carried back inside and gets a good scritchin' before I put her down.

Outside things. We finally got to paint the front stoop. Mostly. All the white parts are done. The side stringers, the upright part of the risers, the wide sill on the front and side of the house. I spent quite some time scraping and painting the millwork around the front door. Wicked proud of myself that I did two coats on the squidgy little moldings between the sidelight panels and didn't get one bit of paint on the glass. Ditto painting above my head to get the top lintel. This was no amateur slop-job. Mick, darling man and all around excellent helper- poured paint, swept chips, and did a fabulous job painting the latticework beneath the stairs a clear tidy grey all by himself. The grey is the same paint that'll go on the horizontals of the front stoop stairs as soon as it stops raining. Despite my sour crank-ass mood on Monday I hauled my grumpy self to the dollar store to buy poster board, this being the perfect straight edge to protect the shiny white uprights from the grey paint going on the horizontals. I've painted that stoop four times during the 10 years we've lived here and learned the best method is to do the vertical bits first and then use poster board tucked between the verticals and horizontals to protect against slop from the contrast color. I made myself crazy the first couple times I painted the front stairs, doing it the anxious fretting way with a teeny brush and oh so careful strokes. Duh!

Mick and I got through this chore without harsh words or any kind of serious hassle. Something we both think is really cool. Most couples cannot DIY together without coming to blows. I'll be the first to admit this generosity of spirit is down to Mick. I am an easygoing sort for the most part, but when it comes to food shopping, my kitchen, or doing DIY projects I am ANAL. There are procedures. There are rules. There is the culmination of long years of experience and the wisdom that comes from screwing up royally until I learned to do things right. Mick is not allowed to get in my way. Ever. Assembling furniture, installing and/or maintaining appliances, yard work, painting, he does it MY way or there will be trouble. Something he acquiesces to with grace and loving kindness. Not only because he's respectful of my experience-born OCD but because he knows he's a naf about this stuff and anyway he's used to the female being in charge of all things home and hearth. It's a longstanding family dynamic for Mick. His father had two skills- running his nasty mouth and bending his elbow. MIL did all the real work. And what she couldn't do she hired out. Asking FIL to do anything around the house was beyond useless. So, no learning at the father's knee for Mick. Then as an adult Mick always lived in apartments. Got a plumbing or electrical problem? Call the super. Car goes fubar? Take it or tow it to the dealership. Mick spent his entire adult life at work or in the gym. Neither of which gave him any experience in the maintenance and upkeep of a stand-alone home.

Me? There was never the money nor the inclination to hire help. I come from a background of do-it-yourselfers. The ex, when he wanted to be, was damn handy. Driveway mechanic par excellence he picked up where my high school apprenticeship of endless repairs and cool customizations on Richard's Mustang and my mother's relentless redecorating (painting, wallpapering, laying flooring) left off. It never occurred to either of us to hire things out. When we bought this place we did all the renovations and updates ourselves. (Mostly. We bartered auto repairs for floor refinishing.) I can walk my house and point to the faucets I've put in, the ductwork I ran and the vent holes I cut, the walls I spackled, woodwork I stripped and refinished, all kinds of handy-dandy crappola. So painting the stoop? Piece of cake. Especially so because Mick had my back and was anxious to make my part as easy as possible. That he went back too early and did the second coat on the uprights waaaaay too soon to have the paint cure properly and it'll be a peeling mess a year from now is less important to me than knowing I have this glorious man who will spend himself down to his last iota of money, time and energy to make my life easier. Feh. I'll touch up the stairs next fall on the sly, no biggie. Meanwhile I have this amazing life partner- someone I can absolutely rely on. Me, LA the Life Ruiner, who has always been stranded on her own. By turns ignored, neglected, resented, and now there's Mick. This amazing good guy bent on making sure I can be and do anything I want.

There you go. The worst for me these days is some broken sleep and a cruddy mood due to nightmares and residual hormones. How cool is this? How happy? I am demented with glee and grateful beyond words. The glass slipper is actually a fuzzy polka-dot sock and my Prince Charming drives a Ford Focus, not a white charger. But the end result is the same. After a long, long time of trial I got to have a Happily Ever After.

I cook. I paint- walls, stairs, and art. I get to raise my younger kid and have phone convos with his algebra teacher and a mid-afternoon snack with him at the BK while we discuss his school work and then the next day I'll teach him how to make a new dinner (today it's meatloaf) and during our evening meal we'll talk about politics, manners, girls, recipes, whatever. When my guy gets home he'll kiss me and smile and be wholly glad he's here and that it's me waiting to greet him. I write. I work on my outside stuff and take the time to churn out a blog post. It's all good.

Hey, I understand how difficult it is to say something after the umpty-umpth entry about how happy and content I am. How lame another, "Yay you!" is. News by any definition is negative. An interruption of the norm usually by a violent act, natural disaster, or manmade catastrophe. It's boring and it sounds smug to be at peace. Harmony is not newsworthy.

But this is where I'm at. Having a bit of a choppy time at the mo' but I'm mostly okay. I am satisfied about my choices for the upcoming election. Millions it's not but there's money enough to get by. I am getting to fix up my house. My husband is crazy in love with me. My sons- the elder gone but doing more than okay for himself, and the younger is a Really Good Person with an A average in everything but math, has his eye on a girl whose locker is a few down from his, and at 15 isn't ashamed or embarrassed to give his old mom a hug in public.

Believe it or not I never heard this on the radio during its heyday, I swear! Marley's version is the gold standard but this one fits more with this sappy and optimistic blog post.

Blogging my way back to you, babe. ~LA

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