Leveled ~ by Sam


5/2/19

The Little Blue House (before sod)

The Little Blue House is gone.

Shane told me this evening, while we were sitting in the parlour, of our bigger blue house ~ the one that we own, and that we had painted blue, with white trim, exactly the way we wanted (even if the wall out front still hasn’t been painted to match, and the ironwork is rusting because some of it should probably be replaced).  He said it like it was just a casual remark, something you might say about any old place.

“So, the Blue House has been torn down.”

I think I asked him to repeat it.

The Blue House.  Our Blue House?  The Little Blue House?  Yes, he told me, he drove by, and there was just an empty lot there.  It’s been completely leveled. 

The Blue House.  The Little Blue House.  Our Little Blue House. 

Not ours, really, but…

It was the first house we ever lived in.  I will never forget the day Justice and I first saw it.  We were coming home from school one day when we happened to drive by and see a “For Rent” sign out front, so we decided to stop in and check it out.  We always loved visiting open houses, but we always knew we wouldn’t buy a house.  Not anytime soon, anyway.  But this house was for rent.  It wasn’t far from our little apartment, and there were three large trees out front, and a nice front porch, just like I’d always wanted.  The owner happened to be there cleaning up a bit, and he let us come in and look around.  Two bedrooms and one bath, just like our little apartment, but with a large playroom, and a paved backyard with a covered patio area, a basketball hoop, a fenced in-ground swimming pool ~ and a poolhouse that was divided into two separate areas: one for storage, and another that would make a nice office space.  It was too perfect.  Some of the rooms had built-in storage.  There was a fireplace, and a pantry, and the dining room was tiny, but charming.  I absolutely loved it.  We convinced Shane to take a look, and he loved it, too. 

At about this time, I was expecting our third child, so we needed a little more space, and, while the house didn’t give us any more bedrooms or bathrooms, it did give us much more space, and a yard (albeit a paved one).  It was beautiful.  The Little Blue House, ‘though it was a rental, was our home.  Our landlords were so kind, and we adored them. This is the place where Shane put down sod while I was in the early stages of labour with Kaia, while our friend Lauren helped me with the kids, until it was time to go to the hospital. We had a beautiful lawn and a beautiful baby ~ it made perfect sense.  It was the house we brought Kaia home to when she was born, ‘though I don’t think she remembers it at all.  It’s where I held her in my arms in the swimming pool, where she took her first steps, threw her first birthday cake on the pavement ~ sorry, honey, I didn’t know yet that you didn’t like fruit on your cake.  It’s where I used to sit and rock her on the porch and sing to her.  It’s where Justice planted her apple seed, and Hallie used to run in a loop through the living room, dining room, kitchen and playroom.  It’s where the kids hosted the very first ever Island Day with their cousins, the year Kaia was born.  It’s where my sister-in-law, Amy, saved Kaia’s life when she was a tiny baby. 

This is the house where the kids arranged the two loft beds at different heights and Kaia’s little toddler bed to all interconnect, so their bedroom was almost like a tree fort.  It’s where the enormous…what even was that thing?  Was it a mosquito??  Some huge flying bug got into the house, and I whisked all of the kids, including our friend Makenzie, into our bedroom with a pizza; and we all piled onto the bed and watched a movie until someone braver than us arrived to help with the giant bug situation.  It’s the house where our friend Geoff lived with us for a while, staying in the poolhouse ~ one of my favourite memories of which is overhearing what I think was a jumping contest with little Hallie in the kitchen one evening.  It’s the house that was just so incredibly full of crickets, but I loved it, anyway.  They say crickets in your house are good luck, right?

It was great for hosting parties, because of that big playroom, even through it wasn’t a very big house, and it had that nice outdoor area in the back that was fenced separately from the pool.  It was good for shooting hoops with grandparents (or parents, if grandparents weren’t around), and making chalk drawings, and lots of messy arts and craft projects, and rollerskating, and setting off 3-2-1 Blast-Offs, and swinging on the little wooden IKEA swing ~ careful of the wooden patio edge!  Where camellias grew out front, and almost nothing grew out back, because of all of the pavement (I’m exaggerating. There were plants along the fence by the pool) ~ but there was that amazing swimming pool.  It hosted birthday parties, pool parties, tea parties, and sleepovers.  It’s where grandparents met their youngest grandchild.

It was the first place our kids got to hang their stockings “by the chimney with care…”  You know, actually by the chimney.

Our little fireplace

Just yesterday, we were driving on the cross street at the end of that block, and I was telling Justice about how, when she was young, I remember giving her cash and careful instructions, and then walking out and standing on the sidewalk to watch her cross the street to the market there so she could pick up an item or two that I needed for dinner. 

It was just a rental, and so, it wasn’t really ours, but, in so many ways, it was our first house.  Even in just a few short years, so much of our life happened there.

It was our Little Blue House, and we were very happy there.

I am heartbroken to hear it is gone.  Like a memory has been erased.  I used to like to drive by it, sometimes, just to see it, and remember those sweet, happy days. 

Our Little Blue House is gone. 

If I had known it was going, I might have bid it farewell. 

Just one box ~ by Sam

Are you tired of boxes yet?

I’m sorry.  I never get tired of them.  It might be a problem.

Well, I am still cleaning and organizing ~ I know, I know, super exciting! ~ and I happened to come across this box I just had to show everyone.  Recently, I bought a new pair of sneakers.  Am I the only one who still calls them sneakers?  Well, I bought them, Inkkas, which I was lucky enough to find on sale for $30.  They’re white, wtih silver stars, and very comfortable for walking, which is what I needed.  They came in this box:IMG_7794

Wow.  Scintillating, I know.  I often save a shoe box, or two, just in case the kids have a project to do that involves a shoe box.  I know, I know, my kids are in high school and college, but two of them actually needed shoe boxes just last school year.  It’s not as crazy as it sounds.  So, I opened this box to take out the paper and this is what I found:IMG_7796.JPG
Hmmm…intriguing… Upon further investigation, I discovered that the entire box could be very easily disassembled, turned over and reassembled.  Like this:
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Here’s how it looks reassembled, from several angles:IMG_7798
Not bad-looking, right?  (Elvis says, “Thank ya…thank ya verra much.”)

It happens to be exactly what I needed for this shelf in our bedroom, and too nice to turn into a box project, anyway. IMG_7802 So, thanks to Inkkas for the great sale, which is the only way I could possibly have afforded to buy the comfy shoes, and the great reusable box with the striking, attractive graphic.  If you get your own pair of Inkkas (did I mention that they’re comfy?  Definitely worth keeping an eye out for sales, in my opinion), maybe you can find other ways to repurpose your box.  I think it would make a cute gift box.  You could get creative and add colour, cover the top (perhaps with fabric or paper).  I might cover the lid of mine later.  For now, I think it looks kind of cute up there as is.

What a nice little surprise this was, and an easy way to reuse something instead of just throwing it into the recycling bin.

I promise I will write about something other than boxes soon.

Boxing, part 2 ~ by Sam

So, that was done.

Sort of.  We still had some things we wanted to store.  You see, Kaia is 15.  When she moved in to her bedroom in 2012 (which was actually 6 1/2 years ago, not 5 1/2, as I said in the last post, wasn’t it?), she probably didn’t mind having bins full of things like puppets and American Girl clothes taking up space in her room, but let’s get real.  I, personally, love my American Girl doll, but, at 15, I probably would have needed my shelf space for something other than storing all of the the entire household’s American Girl doll clothes and accessories.  And puppets!  Do you people even know how many puppets we own?  Seriously, we needed to free up that space for things she was actually using on a regular basis (which doesn’t mean we don’t still love our puppets, says the drama teacher inside me).  Besides which, it’s her bedroom.  She should get to keep her stuff in there, instead of stuff that’s kind of community property.  I think, again, in our haste to move, we just never reorganized that shelf after we moved it into her room, and, since she was the youngest, it made some sense for toys to be stored in her room, at the time.  Now, on the other hand…

Well, I needed just a couple more large boxes, so I headed back to Michaels, and, as anticipated, all of the good 80% off boxes were gone.  But I did find two very lovely ones that were 40% off, and that was okay.  I mean, it felt a little splurgy, after the 80% off boxes, but I guess I’ll survive buying boxes at 40% off, just this once.

After all, they are the perfect boxes for treasures.
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They fit perfectly into the space I had for them (if you ignore the fact that one overhangs the shelf just slightly), and they were the right size to hold all of our puppets.

When the old bins were empty, I removed the old tags from them, knowing Kaia wouldn’t need them anymore, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to throw them away yet.  Is that silly?  It’s just…it’s the end of an era, isn’t it?  I know, it’s the beginning of an exciting new one, too, as my three little babies, little no more, continue on their journey through life.  Two in college already, and one a sophomore in high school.  You know, I always believed those people when they told me the years would fly, but I didn’t understand how it would feel until I was folding all of the little dress up clothes, having weeded out the ones that were just beyond repair and not worth saving.  I didn’t get it, until I was carefully tucking the matchbox cars into their boxes, and trying to remember their names, making sure the puppets weren’t too crowded, and no one was getting smushed…and I could hear their little voices just like it was yesterday.

“Today, I’m going on an adventure!”

“I’m a pirate, so I need this hook, and I need to get on my pirate ship…”

“Hey, sisters, sisters!  Look at what I found!”

And now it’s quiet.  The boxes are all put away.  Justice is at school tonight.  Shane is not yet home from work.  Hallie, of course, is living on campus this year.  It’s very quiet, except for the faint sound of one voice, not so little now, talking and laughing with a friend on the phone.

Pizza’s ready, so I go to pull it out of the oven, and there on the counter, I see them.

I still haven’t thrown these away.

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I’m thinking, maybe, I’ll keep them for a while.  It’s silly, isn’t it?  But then, I’ve always been sentimental.

Boxing, part 1 ~ by Sam

If you’ve known me for some time, you might know I like boxes.  I mean, not like cats and small children like boxes ~ although, lets be honest, large boxes made really great playhouses, and trains, and rocket ships, and…well…so, maybe a little bit like small children like boxes, but, for the purposes of this narrative, let’s assume I mean decorative boxes.  You know, the kind you might use for storage, but that don’t necessarily look like just your average storage boxes.  I like fancy hat boxes, and boxes that are made to look like books and treasure chests.  I like boxes covered with beautiful papers and fabrics ~ I’ve even covered some of my own.  I like cardboard boxes, wooden boxes, metal boxes, even plastic crates and baskets, in a pinch, but fancy boxes are my favourite.  And, although you might not know it if you dropped by right now and saw the half-painted Little Free Library on my parlour floor, the empty boxes and baskets, the unfolded laundry on the chaise, the books that need to be put away, I really like it when everything is put away neatly in its place.  It’s one of the reasons I really like boxes.  You can put things in them, and ~ look at that! ~ all of the sudden, instead of a bunch of clutter, you have this attractively ordered space.  I like it that way.  I like knowing where my stuff is, so I can find it, and I like it to look nice, too.

So.  Well, there was this one area of the house in which we had really been struggling with the whole “neatness” and “order” thing.  A place for everything?  Are you kidding me?  Nah.  Just…stick it over there…somewhere.  I guess.  We’ll figure it out later.

Sometimes, I think that’s a little bit how we moved in.  Things were moving along swimmingly, but then there was a family emergency, and Shane had to leave town, so we moved a bunch of stuff over very quickly, with the help of his parents, who were in town.  Then, the kids and I finished moving the rest of the stuff over from the old house, but I never felt like we got things quite settled here.  I still don’t.  It’s been more than 5 1/2 years since we moved.

In that time, time has marched on, and children have grown.  When we moved, we set the toy shelf that used to be in the bedroom that the two youngest kids shared at the old house in the hallway outside of the bedrooms they would have (and not share) at the new house. It seemed to make sense at the time.  The shelves contained stuff that belonged to both of them, as well as some stuff that was used by all three kids (like books, costumes, and matchbox cars, for instance).  Over time, however, more and more of the stuff on the shelf fell into disuse.  The kids just grew up.  They still loved and had fond memories of some of those things, but, you know, they weren’t leaping around the house in tiny tutus battling each other with rubber swords.  They need bigger tutus now.  I’m kidding.  They hardly ever wear tutus now.  As far as I know.

Anyway, there was a bunch of stuff just sitting there on the shelf, not being used very often, and taking up a lot of space.  We also had other stuff that just didn’t seem to have any place to go.  Stuff like shoes and hats and jackets.  Backpacks.  A trumpet.  Bags.  Just, you know, a lot of stuff.  So I started thinking, you know, what the kids could use outside there rooms might be something to store the stuff they actually use.  I knew, however that, like me, my kids are sentimental.  Over many moves, and in years since the last move, we had already weeded through toys, and what was left on that shelf really was the cream of the crop.  This is stuff we want to have around for days when little ones come to play.  It’s the cool stuff.  The keepers.  The question remained, with no useable attic space to speak of (it’s basically a crawlspace full of insulation and ductwork), and very little available space in the garage, where were we going to keep all this stuff?

What stuff?  Oh.  THIS stuff.  And, while we’re at it, can we do something about this colour, because I vowed when I moved in to banish this colour from the house, and this, Justice’s bathroom and the laundry room are the last holdouts (trust me, it’s worse in real life).

I chose the above photos because I think they highlight the stellar organization.  Not pictured: socks, shoes, backpacks, trumpet & music bag…

Well, it took some planning, and a couple of coats of Behr Marquee flat ceiling paint in pure white, and a couple of coats of Behr Premium Plus Paint & Primer interior semi-gloss in Vintage Coral to fix the colour problem.

We had already made a trip to IKEA to purchase the coat/shoe rack/bench that we wanted to put in place of the old toy shelves.  Of course, we realized that taking down the shelves and replacing them with a coatrack would leave us with some major storage problems.  After some brainstorming ~ and let’s be honest, the storm had been brewing in my brain for years over this plan ~ I discussed my design plan with Shane, who went off to the hardware store to have the wood cut to make the shelves we wanted.  He primed and painted them, and, between coats, we kept searching online for shelf brackets we both liked…or at least one of us liked…or, you know, maybe that we didn’t hate.  I mean, could they, at least, not look like they should be shut inside a closet?  Hey…those are ni…Oh, I mean, could they at least not look like they should be shut inside a closet AND not cost a million dollars?  We finally found some that fit the bill at Lowe’s.  When we got there, they didn’t have the ones we’d chosen, but I think the ones we got are just as nice, at least.

It just so happens that Lowe’s is in the same shopping center as Michaels, so we stopped to see if they might have any boxes that might suit our needs. They did, you guys, and they were 80% off.  That’s, like, pennies on the dollar.  (Or like, a few dollars instead of $20, but still, quite the deal, and really, the only way we could possibly afford to do this.)

Look what a change we made:

Potting & Repotting ~ by Sam

Well, it’s been all of 4 days since I repotted the last batch of plants, so, naturally, I have assumed it was a raging success and decided to repot every plant I see.

But, seriously, folks…

Sometime before Halloween, I purchased three adorable little succulents in ceramic planters. They  were far too cute to resist: two bright orange pumpkins, and a purple sugar skull.  For quite a while, the plants seemed to be thriving, so I just went merrily along, giving them little sips of water.  Recently, however, I noticed the one in the sugar skull planter looking a bit wilty. I took it out of the planter, because I thought it must not be getting any drainage at all in there (there was an actual flowerpot inside the planter).  I took it out and set in on a little dish so it could dry out a bit and drain better.  Then, it started looking downright soggy.  I thought I’d better try re-potting it and the other two that had come in similar planters, as well as a fern I had recently purchased, which came wrapped in fussy paper, but not in a very good pot.

I went to the nursery and purchased pots the next day, but, sadly, I don’t think the one little succulent from the sugar skull planter is going to survive.  I set him outside in his pot, thinking the very dry air might revive him.  It rained.

I bought another small succulent to fill the pot I had planned to use for that one, and, if he makes it, I promise to buy him a very good pot of his very own.  And make a most sincere apology for giving away his in the first place.

So.

Again.  In case it wasn’t boring enough last time I wrote about it, I repotted some plants.  I’m sorry.  I apologize to the plants.  They are not boring at all.  They are lovely, and I love them all.

Here they are, waiting to be repotted.  You can clearly see the need.
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Also, please note, these two magnificent chairs I scored for 100% free when a guy down the street was giving them away.  They are just waiting to become a future project, which might be a little more exciting than repotting plants, if the repotting of plants does not thrill you.

I had already cleaned out the sugar skull planter and left it inside, so I’m afraid you don’t get a picture of that one.  But look at that little plant on the left?  See the little metal bucket it’s in?  I have a couple of those buckets, now.  I have them because the plants that were in them died.  It is my considered opinion that they most likely dies because plants just don’t do well in things like metal buckets and ceramic planters that don’t allow for drainage.  So, if you get one of these cute things, that’s all well and good.  Enjoy it like that for a brief time, but, if you want to keep the plant, you should probably transfer it to something more appropriate.  At least, I hope that will work.  Based on the reading I have done in preparation for all of this, it should.

I settled on a simple white pot for the fern, whom I named Charlotte, at Justice’s suggestion, since we have a similar fern named Fern, and she thought we should stick with a theme.  For the three succulents, I chose clay pots.  I thought the clay pots would be better at not holding in too much moisture for plants that like a drier environment.  I also bought a plant mister, because I have heard that ferns like to have their leaves misted.  It turns out this is not a great mister.  It’s more of a douser.  I need to find a good mister I can use indoors that actually mists plants instead of just spraying torrential rains inside my home.  The roof already serves that purpose when it rains.
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I transferred the plants to their new pots, and dressed the succulents with some decorative pebbles, making sure to place some in the bottom of each pot to ensure good drainage.
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I felt to dress Charlotte with anything more would really be quite ridiculous.  She’s come fully festooned already.
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I think they all look much happier now.

I promise I will write about something other than plants soon.  I mean, maybe.  Probably.  I do really like my plants.
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Weekend Projects ~ by Sam

Monday January 15, 2018:
I have high hopes that yesterday will go down in history as the day that I saved several cacti and a fern.  Maybe if we all believe hard enough…should you all clap your hands or something? Can it be like that moment in Peter Pan when we all saved Tinkerbell by believing in faeries?  Say it with me: “I do believe in planties, I do believe in planties…”

Honestly, I feel fairly awful about the fern.  Her name is Marian, for obvious reasons.  Did I mention that she’s a maidenhair fern?  It’s obvious now, right?  Well, it was obvious to me.  Anyway, when we met, at the grocery store, Marian was rather a lush fern. I brought her home, put her on the table, and faithfully followed the instructions that accompanied her.  I kept her soil moist, and kept her away from the heating and cooling vents.  I misted her leaves, and she just didn’t care.  She dried up, anyway.  So I looked up care tips, and, as suggested, I gave her a good soaking, and waited.  She didn’t produce news leaves, as promised.  I kept trying.  So, this weekend, I decided to give her a new pot.  I even gave her fresh soil, and some lovely pebbles.  Then, I read, too late, that maidenhair ferns don’t like repotting!  I am very distressed about this.  I like Marian so much.  She has only two straggly little stems left.  I will keep caring for her and hoping for the best, but I am going to be very sad if she doesn’t make it.  Perhaps, I should rethink naming my plants, if I am going to continue to massacre them.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  For now, she is resting, apparently comfortably in her new pot.  I think she looks lovely in orange.  Don’t you agree?

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Marian wasn’t the only plant in the house who needed assistance.

Hallie had this really adorable little glass terrarium.  You’ve probably seen them everywhere lately.  This one was teardrop shaped, and it had what I think is a ruby  ball cactus (or is it a pink ball cactus?  is that a thing?  it certainly looks pink to me), one other small succulent, and some moss.  It was super tiny and cute, until George the cat knocked it off the table and broke it.  We know he didn’t mean to break it.  He’s just a large guy, and it was a small, delicate thing, on a small table.  It was an accident.  It broke, nonetheless, so we had to figure out what to do about that.  The ball cactus looks like it might be damaged.  I am honestly, not sure it will make it, so not sure, in fact, that I bought a new one, just in case, but we decided to try our hardest to save it.  We also had a dish garden that had been planted long ago, and, sadly, all of the plants but one had finally given up on us.  We decided to get a tiny pot for that last one, and the new cactus I’d purchased.  I was lucky enough to find these absolutely adorable tiny teacup planters at the nursery, and I happened to have one small pot already, so I bought a soil mix that is supposed to be good for cacti, put a few pebbles in the bottom of each, added the plants, and topped with pebbles and/or moss, as the case may be.  I think they turned out super cute, although I didn’t put enough soil in the largest pot, so you can’t even see the plants over the top edge ~ oops!IMG_5169

Oh!  There they are!

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While I was doing all of this, shane was busy putting together the new tv stand.  He got some help deciphering the instructions:

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But Leia wasn’t a lot of help when it came to actually assembling the thing.  He asked George to help, but all he would do was pose for closeups.

So, finally, I pitched in an helped with one little shelf.  It was awesome.  I fastened roughly 17 screws.  Are you proud of me?  I put in, like 36 of those wooden peg things, and I even covered the heads of the screws with little plastic discs because, let me tell you, we buy the only the classiest prefab furniture.

No, seriously.  I like this piece.  I think it is pretty stylish, for the price.  It cost just over $200, and shipping was free, which always makes difference when you have to order something heavy to be delivered.

—————zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz——————

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

….and then, I fell asleep while writing this.  Not for, like, days, but then, you know, the days all kind of happened.

Days in which I had a very sick kid staying home from school, and other kids not staying home, and a husband whose car needed to get to and from the shop, and groceries that needed to somehow be purchased and get home from the store ~ I mean, I know they have delivery services for that; but I drove to the store and got them, and brought them home, because that’s what I felt we could do right now.  I did have the farm box delivered from Imperfect Produce, because I think it’s a really great thing they’re doing, and, even if I can’t always afford to get a lot from them, I like to give them the business, if I can.

Oh ~ I don’t mean I like to “give them the business!”  I mean, I like to patronize them.  As in take my business to them.  I am not patronizing to them.  I prefer to purchase items of produce from them when I am able, because I find them to be a reputable company that is striving to do good in the world.

Why is the English Language so difficult to navigate?

But, I digress.
Incessantly.
I’m sorry.
But not really.
I mean.  It’s not that big a deal…is it?

So, anyway, we got the new tv stand put together ~ or rather, Shane got the new tv stand put together ~ and I think it’s just brilliant.  I love the look of it.  We do need some supplemental shelves, as you will see in a moment, but it’s got a very interesting shape, and it came together quite nicely.  The old one was very blocky and dark. You’ll have to trust me, because I completely forgot to take “Before” pictures.  Hopefully, at some point, Shane will chime in with some insights on his assembly experience.  He certainly had a few words to say about it during the process.  Hopefully, he won’t repeat all of them in print.

But seriously folks ~

Here is the new tv stand, in all her glory, as we launch her with the customary Ross family viewing of Star Wars!
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Shane was so exhausted by the time he finished putting the thing together ~ and it was so late ~ that he didn’t make it through the whole movie.  I mean, he made it.  He just fell asleep.  Justice had already gone to bed.

This wasn’t exactly the customary Ross family Star Wars viewing at all.  I think we need a do-over.

However, I did catch this one really important photo of Princess Leia (kitten) and R2-D2 (pez dispenser) with Princess Leia and R2-D2.  It’s blurry, but I thought the world should know.
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So, that’s what we were up to over the last weekend.  Sorry the pictures are a bit low light.  We really need to work out the lighting situation in that room.

In closing, in the interest of giving equal(ish) time to equal cats, I give you Lucille Louise, a.k.a., Lucy:
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Isn’t she just the Queen of Everything?

…and in with the New

While we were busy getting ready for the evening’s celebrations, it seemed like we might never get there.  Just one thing after another seemed to keep getting in the way, hindering our progress in one way or another.

First, the washing machine decided to start making that horrendous noise AGAIN, and then just quit about a minute before the cycle ended, but a minute early was nothing.  The clothes were done, so we put them in the dryer, and moved on to the next load.  We weren’t so lucky with that one.  The second load stopped mid-cycle. The machine was locked.  It refused to let us reset it, turn it off, unlock it, open it, change the cycle, stop it.  It was just stopped there, and we could do nothing.  I got the brilliant idea to unplug it.  That should work, right?  I mean, you would think.  At this point, I jus wanted to get the clothes, which Justice needed, out, and take them to the laundromat.  I plugged it in again. Still locked.  Everything still the same. I tried again.  This time, it wouldn’t let me turn it off, but it did at least let me reset the cycle.  Since it had stopped during the rinse and spin, I set it to rinse and spin only.  Luckily, it finished rinsing and spinning, and, miraculously, unlocked.  I have been terrified to use it since, and we desperately need to do laundry.

I planned to make two treats to take along to the usual New Year’s Eve party: Fantasy Fudge, and Amaretti.  One, I had made dozens of times, so it was a no-brainer.  The other was a brand new recipe, but one I had long wanted to try, and had been reading about for some time, so I had a good idea of how it should work.  I felt confident enough to give it a go.  I was all set…except that I didn’t have sugar.  So, I decided I would have to run out and get some sugar. Since the store is just up the block, and everyone else was home, I turned on the oven to heat, while I ran up the street to get the sugar I needed.  Then, I went to grab my purse from the bedroom where I’d left it.

That’s when I smelled it.

There was a very strong, obvious gas odor.  I first noticed it as I approached the door of our bedroom.  My first thought was to ask Hallie to check all of the burners on the stove, which, in retrospect, was silly, since I was nowhere near the kitchen.  They were all off, but we made sure, and decided to turn off the oven, too, after Justice confirmed that the room did, indeed, smell strongly of gas.

Kaia, who was resting in the room with a heating pad, had been complaining of a headache, and I started to put two and two together at this time.  I texted Shane, who was out front, checking a few things on his new (used) car.  He brought in the cat carrier.  Justice started opening windows and turning on fans;  and we let out the two cats who are allowed to go out, and everyone set to work trying to find the one who isn’t allowed out while I called the gas company.

While everyone tried to wrangle Leia, who is still a bit skittish, has no interest in going outside, and doesn’t especially like to be picked up, into the carrier, I talked to a representative of the gas company.  We realized that the closest gas appliance to the odor was the fireplace.  I made sure the pilot was shut off, removed the key; and, at some point, they managed to get Leia into the carrier.  We all went outside to wait.

Luckily, the guy arrived quickly.  It seems the key that turns on the pilot to the gas fireplace had been left in, and had been accidentally tripped slightly.  He also replaced a couple of fittings that were incorrect.

Finally back int he house, we had only lost hours and hours to washing machine and gas woes.  Shane let Leia out of the carrier, then ran to the store for me.  I think I was doing something, but I can’t remember what it was at this time.

At some point, much earlier in the morning ~ and really, it had come up days before, too ~ Justice had told us that, this year, for the first time ever, she would be spending New Year’s Eve celebrating with friends who were home from college, instead of hanging out with the family.  Of course, that’s totally fine.  She’s an adult, and can celebrate New Year’s Eve however she wants.  It is a big change, however, and one of those things about raising kids ~ they grow up, and one day they are adults, and off doing things on their own.

And Hallie was busy with school stuff, so we decided that Shane would come to the party a little later with Hallie, and I would go earlier with Kaia.  So, I made my Fantasy fudge and Amaretti (they’re little Italian almond cookies, in case you don’t know), and got myself a little bit gussied up, and Kaia and I headed out to the party.  Then, later, Shane and Hallie joined us.

As always, it was a fabulous time.  Our friends, the Foxes, always host a marvelous New Year’s Eve party.  I feel like it was a smaller crowd this year.  I know we weren’t the only family who was short a kid.  There was no shortage of desserts!  (I brought, like, four pounds of fudge, you guys.) But, as always, we all had a lovely time, and it was a nice crowd.  The “core group” was all there ~ the 5 families who were all in that MOMSClub playgroup together many, many years ago, when our kids, who are now Seniors in high school, were babies.  The youngest kids are freshmen in highschool now.

We rang in the New Year, watching the ball drop on TV, and toasting with champagne for the adults and sparkling cider for the kids, just as always; but it seemed, this year, everyone lingered a little longer.

Leftovers were packed up by one family, who will be distributing them to homeless people, so they won’t go to waste.

We all said our goodbyes, “Happy New Year’s!” and headed out into the crisp night air.

Shane and Hallie hopped into his car, and Kaia and I into mine.

As we drove off, Bob Dylan sang over the car stereo:

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’.
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.
Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin’.
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.