Thursday, May 31, 2007

Making Messes

Guh. The first day of demo on a home renovation project is always a double-edged sword. On the one hand, there's the satisfaction of a no-going-back beginning: "Well, I've started stripping wallpaper away, there's no going back now!" On the other hand, the demo work is messy and hard, accompanied by endless clean-ups and the typical unforseen surprise: "Oh! Well...who would have guessed that behind this wallpaper was a huge section of unsalvagable plaster?" That kind of thing.

So, I've begun work this week on our stairway/upstairs hall. My expectation was that this project, while daunting, wouldn't be any more detail-oriented than any of the other rooms in the house, and perhaps significantly LESS work thank other rooms (such as the dining room, which necessitated a complete removal of unsalvagable plaster ceiling and the hanging - and mudding - of drywall. Thanks to all who helped: you know who you are!). And, I guess it will be. I mean, I'm going to rebuild our stairway, and THAT will take some finesse: the "treads" aren't really, and I returned today from a $500-dollar trip to Lowe's to buy their oak replacements. Sure, there are the room idiosyncracies; for instance, in the stairway I have an 8'-long board that extends from the landing to a ladder on the steps. I use this quasi-gangplank to allow workable access to the stairway ceiling. But overall, this "room" shouldn't be any more difficult than doing Roslyn's room LAST summer. (Back when we thought - just perhaps! - we were simply redoing the room to function as a studio for all our instruments, music, etc. etc. ad nauseum.)

But, from a very specific standpoint, Roz's room was one of the EASIEST, even though I had lots of corners to work around, and a whole bookshelf to build. Here's the thing: when you redo a single room, it's REALLY easy to work right up until the end of the day, then drop your tools & dust mask and walk out, closing the door behind you. The stairway, like the dining room before it, is centrally located and necessitates a daily (at the very least!) clean-up, which if you're not careful you'll wind up doing when you're exhausted and crabby.

Miss Tessmacher, who shows far more insight and intelligence than I myself could ever hope to muster, has escaped to her parents for a few days while I do the worst of the (possibly) lead paint-covered wallpaper removal. That leaves me baching it for a few days...and, that's a great term, ain't it? I picked up the verbed version of "bachelor" from L.I. Wilder, and her descriptions of Almanzo and brother Royal "baching it" on the prarie. Anyway, since I have all the rooms upstairs sealed off with plastic, I decided to grab my pillow and bite-guard from the bedroom and simply crash on the futon for the time being. The cat LOVES this - it's like camping out, to her. That's fine; I sleep alright there, especially as we're in the midst of a mostly-breezeless heat funk.

The wallpaper is down now, and the rough sanding is done to smooth out some "imperfections" (in the most judicious sense of the word!) in the plaster. I don't have a lot of bad areas to patch, and the little ceiling in the lower part of our stairway, which I feared would have to be torn out completely and replaced with beadboard or something, is actually fairly solidly attached, with only the leading edge crumbling away; I can fix THAT in my SLEEP! The beadboard wall that is shared with our closet is a disappointing mess; the previous owners had attempted to plaster OVER the wall, filling in lots of the bead grooves and then painting the entire thing. I scraped a lot of this away today, but it's still going to be a chore for my mother to Zip Strip away, and bless her for volunteering to help! I remember - and this seems like yesterday! - when she was scrambling to lay ceramic tile in her bathroom, and she said "Boy, I feel really guilty, I had my 60-year old mother on her knees laying tile at 10:00pm!" Now that she HERSELF is 60, I can't believe how YOUNG she still is! Maybe it really is like my in-laws say, that "60 is the new 50." Or, maybe since I'm pushing 40, my perception of what "old" is has changed!

Anyway, thank goodness tomorrow is our anniversary! I need the day off; I've been workin' like a dog here! (How exactly does a dog work? I had a dog once, and he pretty much laid around unless he thought he could steal one of my mom's bras from the laundry and run around the back yard with it.) Then we have our shower on Sunday, and a tour of the maternity ward Monday eve. After that, it's back to work; next up is moving the existing light, adding a new light over the stairs, and then getting to work with my favorite Dap Patching Plaster and a putty knife. Meantime, enjoy the pictures of the work in progress.

A newly revised version of hell: looking out over the stairway sans wallpaper.

Mom, working on fixing somebody ELSE'S "fix."
First one to refer to my mother as a "stripper"
wins a free push down the stairs.

Me, peeling off huge hunks of wallpaper.
First one to refer to ME as a "huge hunk"
wins a free lap dance. Yowza!

Unpleasant renovation surprise #4956739:
large "patch" of ancient drywall that I'll
now have to try to cover with patching plaster.

Itty-bitty flakes of paint & wallpaper.
This doesn't EVEN compare to what was
stuck to the sweat on my bare arms
in the 90˚ heat of the closed-in space.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Baby Prep

The books I've been reading all tell me that I'll probably spend the weeks before baby arrives getting ready by going around the house and "baby-proofing." You know: putting breakable things above waist height, plugging plasitic thingamabobs into all the outlets, and covering sharp furniture corners with...well, corner protectors. I guess they should be called "head protectors." Yeah. That's what all the BOOKS say. Me? I prefer to spend my days elbow-deep in Zip-Strip, filling my lungs (and eyes, and ears, and nose...) with lead paint dust.

See, that's what I do in my "off time," that time I spend NOT being a musician. I renovate and restore and refinish (although I usually reSTART first...thanks George Carlin). I spent summers during college learning from my mother - at her century-old farmhouse - how to demo lath & plaster, how to run new wiring and insulate, how to hang & mud drywall, and all the rest of the stuff that goes with major home renovation. Now that I live in my OWN century-plus house, I've tackled many of the same projects. When Tess & I moved in, we had knob-&-tube wiring; now the whole house is up to code with modern, 12- and 14-2 grounded wire. We've renovated our dining room (tearing out the crumbling ceiling in the process) and made the kitchen an actual livabale space. Now, this summer, I have a few "last" projects (except they never REALLY end, not when you're an "old house guy") to do in preparation for Roslyn's arrival in mid-July...and Odin save us if she's early!

So. Here are some of the particulars. Her room is already pretty much ready to go...

as that was the renovation project from LAST summer. (Back when we thought we were creating a studio for ourselves!) But, her bedroom door was a mess of multiple layers of gooey paint (some milk paint, others no doubt lead-based) and I've been dutifully stripping ALL of our interior doors so that they are returned to their simple, heart-pine glory. Problem is, to do this MYSELF takes about 1) $80 worth of stripper, 2) $30 worth of other sundry supplies, like rubber gloves, steel wool, and the like, 3) and about 30 hours of my time. Yeesh! I discovered that the furniture restoration place here in town, The Wooden Nickel, would charge me $140 to strip the door down to bare wood. YES! So, we end up with a bedroom door for her room that looks like this...

and all that's left for ME to do is the much more simple job of sanding it and applying polyeurethane. Oh, and I have to strip the hardware, but that's totally worth it because it's all original. What you get then is something that looks like this...

add in a healthy portion of stripper and elbow grease...

and you get a finished product that looks like THIS!

Awesome. BUT, this is really the "easy" job, because once the door is hung back in place I need to tackle the much larger job in the stairway and small upstairs hallway. The stairway is really a desolate-looking place...

with altogether too much paint-covered wallpaper peeling away every time we flip the switch.

Plus, I KNOW that underneath the crusty nastiness of this hallway wall...

is something that looks like THIS! (This is the opposite side, in our closet.)

Justify FullIn addition to all the normal wallpaper-stripping and plaster-patching that needs doing, all of the stair "treads" (which aren't really treads at all, but simply 1x stock) need to be taken up and replaced with much thicker material. So, there's lots to be done. But it'll all be worth it, because there are only 8 weeks left until what's in HERE...

can be put into this cradle my mother built.

Nevertheless, with all of the pounding and banging and moving-around-of-stuff going on, someone is a bit worried that there's big change comin' soon! How right she is.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

My Father...My Future

No, I don't feel like I'm the "cursed son" doomed to repeat the sins of his father. It's just a catchy blog title. As I contemplate my impending fatherhood, I inevitably think back to my relationship with my OWN dad. And here's the thing: I didn't hate my father. (There were times that I hated him.) And...I didn't really LOVE my father. (There were times that I loved him.) Mostly, when I think about him, I feel a sort of...nothingness. It's not that I feel bad about lacking a relationship that is supposed to be so important, especially to a young boy. I just honestly don't feel much of ANYTHING. I'm not "glad" he's dead...but I don't miss him or want him back. My sister adored him; in her eyes, he could do no wrong. My brother...well, I don't know. I think he adored his mother, but he at least looked UP to our father. Are they sad that he's gone? Hmmm...not that I've ever heard of. Maybe that's the MORE telling thing: that these people, who grew up with him AS a father, show no more visible sign of his passing than I do.

I don't remember what I said to prompt this comment (I think we were talking about his weight), but I clearly remember my dad saying "One day, you'll look just like me." Ha. You may have had the last say on THAT one, Pop, because you're right: it's HARD to keep that girth off the middle! But, even if I quit running and give in to my temptation for fried chip-style snacks, there's one thing I DON'T have to copy from you: the way you related to you children. You may have been proud of me - I heard from OTHER people that you were - but you never told me that to my face. You may have loved me - I suspect you did, because you acted like it sometimes - but likewise, those words weren't likely to pass your lips. I'll try to take what you were, which was not a BAD man, but oftentimes an indifferent one, and I'll change that into the man I want to be: one who tells his daughter he loves her, that he's proud of her. Even if she wants to be a cheerleader, or a jock. "Hey, lookit that! That's MY daughter that made that catch/caught that rebound/blocked that punt!" I'll make sure she knows...but there are other things to teach her as well. Things that you DID teach me, and that I'll always remember...

Things My Dad Taught Me

1) He taught me to drive a stick shift. At the age of 14. We'd be coming back from summer band rehearsal in Ubly, and he'd pull over to the side of a lonely country road and switch places with me in his diminuitive Chevy Luv.
2) He taught me how to operate a chainsaw and how to effectively split wood. Granted I don't have a fireplace right now, but when he wanted me to hold a wedge on a giant slab of wood, I trusted him to swing a sledgehammer over his head and hit the wedge...not me.
3) He taught me to play pinochle. Okay, this took my mom as well, but when the three of us would go camping in his shitty-yet-cozy Starcraft pop-up, rainy days were spent sitting around the camper table dealing cards. I learned to count meld, bet on the kitty, and renege with grace. Too bad pinochle takes such a back seat to the much more idiot-proof euchre here in Michigan.
4) He taught me to cast with an open-face reel. I loved to fish, and I'd always used that reel with a little button on top. He taught me how to have much better control over getting your line to land where you wanted by holding the line with your finger and letting it go that way.

My dad may not have been the best father in the world...but he wasn't a bad man, either. Not a saint, not the devil...just somewhere in between. When I think of how my father felt about me, I remember that we used to go get wood at the Vassar farm by driving his ancient Ford tractor across the field to the bordering forest; dad would be driving (usually, but sometimes he let me) and I'd be sitting on the fender. We'd have to bounce across the furrows occasionally, and one time we bounced so hard that I fell off. I fell between the front and back wheels, a space of maybe 4 or 5 feet. I didn't even have time to THINK about the fact that that huge rear tractor wheel - maybe 4 feet TALL - was going to crush my chest; there just wasn't time. But my dad had time to stop the tractor. He was that quick. And when he climbed down to help me up, his face was white with fear. As a man who spent his life ignoring consequences, I don't think he chose that particular moment to consider what they might have been had he been a split-second slower.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

My Father, Myself pt. 2

And we're back, to part two of our harrowing tale! When last we left them, our heroes...

Yeah. Anyway.

So, my folks split in the winter of 1985, and it was rough on my mom. She had gotten used to (nominally) sharing the responsibilities of home ownership, of parenting...hell, of life. Now that I'm (closer to being) in her shoes, I really understand how much a person comes to rely on the OTHER half of a that, when that half is taken away, things are tough. But, as ever, mom & I soldiered on; hey, weren't we the clichéd subjects of Anne Murray's You and Me Against the World? But I digress.

Through whatever circumstances that fate often decrees, my parents began spending time together again. Whether it was dropping me off at the airport for my Eurpean tour with Blue Lake, or playing together in the Saginaw Eddy Band, they seemed to keep bumping into each other. Eventually those bumps became intentional, and they began to iron out the OTHER bumps in their relationship. Ultimately they worked out their issues and came back together, stronger than I'd ever seen them. They took an early honeymoon to Disney World over spring break in 1986 (leaving me home alone for a week during my senior year of high school...mwua-hahahahaha!) and arranged to be married that summer. And so it was, shortly after my graduation, I was the best man at the wedding of my biological parents. Who else gets that bragging right?!?

Me and my father on the night of my graduation.
His smile doesn't say much, but the way he's grasping
me with his right hand speaks volumes.

They sold the house in Cass City and moved to the Honsinger family farm just south of Vassar; there they intended to restore the near-century-old house and finally...FINALLY! able to enjoy each other without ME underfoot. they thought. In reality, some unclaimed consequences came lookin' for my father. See, he'd never really been particularly "fit," if you will. He'd tempered his addiction to whiskey, replacing it with jug wine...which, he still managed to drink in large quantities. He overate, generally the wrong stuff, especially for someone with heart disease in the family. And he was pretty much a lifetime smoker. All of those things conspired to catch up with him one evening in January 1987. He was at a band rehearsal when he began acting peculiarly, and before the night was over he'd been rushed via ambulance to the hospital where the diagnosis came in: he'd suffered a major stroke.

Strokes are funny things: sometimes they kill you outright, but mostly - if you catch one soon enough, as apparently happened with him - they just leave you incapacitated in ways that only time will reveal. At first my mom was a normal wife in this situation, making endless trips to the hospital, later taking him to rehab once he'd been released. But the thing I would only come to realize later - much later - was that the stroke had robbed my father of much of the good parts of his personality, leaving only the selfish and indulgent mind, and amplified at that. The docs said that he'd recover a lot of the mobility he lost in his right arm if he worked hard, but unlike his younger brother (who had sufferend small strokes and come back strong each time) my dad didn't seem to want to do that hard work. Little by little his day-to-day life was shrunk: first his license was taken due to his unsafe driving, then his directorship of the Vassar City Band was lost because his ability to competently do the job had diminshed so much. At first BOTH my mom & I believed he'd keep getting better, but as months turned into years we realized that he was really just a shell of his former self, and that became a catalyst for sharp change in ALL our relationships.

For myself, I generally viewed him with a mix of pity and anger. The pity came from a geniune place: here was a man I'd only really known for just a few years, and any feelings of normal father/son love were were slowly eroded by watching his treatment of my mother. This is where the anger came into play, and that too was unfortunately all too genuine. He seemed capable of astonishingly GOOD behavior whenever company came to call, which indicated that he knew the difference between that and his normal daily behavior. This other side, the one that my mom lived with all the time, could be petty and lazy and sometimes downright boorish. There are far, FAR too many bad scenes to list them all, but they slowly made it so that instead of being able to be a wife, my mother became some combination of caregiver and prison guard. She desperately tried to curtail his continued smoking, first by taking his cigarettes and then, when it became apparent that his habit was dangerous to HER as well (he'd often fall asleep in his chair with a lit cigarette dangling from his fingers), banning it from the house outright. She tried to feed him a decent diet of low sodium and egg beaters to keep his cholesterol down, only to find that he'd sit down to a greasy plate of eggs & bacon when he went out for breakfast. It went on & on: one behavior would be quelled or modified to make her life easier (and really, HIS life better) only to have another (sometimes worse) one rise up in its place.

And for being neither particularly fit nor healthy, he went on like this for a LONG time. Various other health problems would crop up - some even requiring surgery, something he was never a good candidate for as he was always on blood thinners - and he always came through better than men HALF his age and TWICE his health. When the end finally came, some 17 years after he suffered the damn stroke in the first place, it was rather anti-climactic. My mom was visiting me in E. Lansing when our neighbor called: seems he'd fallen on the way to the mailbox, and when he'd been helped back to his chair in the house he insisted he was fine, took one big shuddering breath, and died of a massive heart attack.

I wasn't glad of his death so much as I was glad that my mom could get back to some semblance of a normal life again. I already felt that my father had pretty much poisoned the ground between us, and my feelings for him were a complicated mixture of the aforementioned pity and anger, only now with an endpoint to our relationship I could add a frustrating sense of loss as well. I pitied what seemed to me to be a life wasted trying to impress people who really didn't much give a shit, while ignoring or taking for granted the people who genuinely cared for him. I was angry that his long, slow decline had denied my mother the chance for a normal wedded partnership in which two people could grow & experience the world together. And, I was frustrated that, in spite of all his failings, he'd been my DAD, dammit, and now he was gone and what the fuck was I to do with it all?

When my mom called me from the road to confirm what I already suspected - that he'd died - I cried a little. When his funeral came around and that little "casket" of his ashes was displayed at the front of his church, I cried a lot. I hugged my estranged brother & sister, knowing that he was the only thing we had in common and that I'd probably never see either of them again, and selfishly wept for the lost chance at so many relationships that might have been meaningful. And I vowed that, when the time came, the father I became would be NOTHING like the one he had been to me.

Okay, you suffered through the "dark times." One more short post ought to wrap things up, and some of my conclusions might rattle you. Tune in next time.

Friday, May 11, 2007

My Father...Myself?

Had a dream about my father last night. This is not necessarily an uncommon occurrence; I seem to have one every few months. They generally revolve around the notion that he has somehow magically come back from the dead...or, that he never died in the first place. I'll go to visit my mother and there he'll be, like he never left, and I'm always shocked & horrified to discover him there. "But...but I SAW you, dead on the table! You CAN'T be here!" That's usually when I wake up, and like any nightmare I have to console myself with reality for a little while before I can nod back off to sleep: "Only a dream, only a dream..."

My dream last night didn't follow this script. Actually, I can't really remember much about it, and what could be WORSE than having to not only read about a dream on a blog, but to have that dream be only hazily remembered? Right: nothing. So let's just suffice it to say that my dad has been on my mind recently, both knocking around in my subconscious AND in my waking thoughts.

All the books I've been reading about fatherhood stress that men will inevitably reevaluate their OWN father/son relationships, looking for things that they want to emulate, or perhaps avoid at all costs. I can only nod sagely: "Yup." Almost from the moment Miss Tessmacher came out of the bathroom with a glistening pee-stick showing two blue lines and announced "This means I'm pregnant!", I've been thinking about the kind of dad I hope to be. And, of course, that means I want to be almost exactly the OPPOSITE of my father.

My relationship with my father is almost infinitely much so that I hesitate to even begin trying to explain it, fearing that too much detail will dull the senses of even the most dedicated reader, and not ENOUGH detail will fill my story with unavoidable plot holes. Here, then, is the history of my dad in as condensed a form as I can make it:

Wendell Scott Honsinger was born at home (in the house my mother has occupied since 1986) in the mid-spring of 1929. (Yeah. I know. For those of you who are already counting, that makes him only two years YOUNGER than my maternal grandmother.) He was the second of 5 children, all of whom were born in that house...the third child died, leaving two older kids (my uncle Jim and my dad) and two younger (my uncle Lloyd and aunt Ruth). The farm in Vassar was a working dairy farm, and my dad grew up there in the shadow of W.W. II. He was a good-looking kid, flirtatious and a little bit of a scoundrel, and (apparently) was sometimes referred to as "Wendy-balls, man with the biggest tool in school!" A lifelong musician, he eschewed the more rough-&-tumble sports that his farm upbringing might suggest, instead singing in the school choir and playing the trombone. He graduated from Vassar High School in 1948 and went to Central Michigan to earn a bachelors degree in music.

By this time the Korean War was upon us, and dad enlisted in the Marines. He always evinced a strong pride at being a Marine, but I never really heard him talk about understanding is that he was basically able to play in one of the bands during his service time. He had a wife named Marian, and two kids: Michael and Patricia. After his service was up he got a masters degree in music...largely through the aid of his paper-writing wife, if I understand things correctly. His first job was at a no-name school somewhere in the lower Thumb, and then he moved on to Millington...which is where my mother enters the picture.

My father the jar-head: early 1950's

See, dad had this thing for younger women (girls?). He focused on my mom, and there was something of a scandal...this was back in the day when the administration told him "You should quit...before we find a reason to fire you." So, under the same kind of twisted rule that kept moving Catholic priests around from parish to parish, my dad was allowed to silently slink away to another school, never having to really face the consequences of whatever dalliances he had with my teenaged mother. I think this is important, because if I really had to sum up my dad I'd say that he was a man who forever thought he wouldn't have to suffer consequences.

I also view my mother as innocent in all this, but understand that I have a hugely undeniable bias here, so I'm hardly an objective observer. Nevertheless, as the adult in the situation it fell to my FATHER to be the one to keep his pecker in his pants; failing that most basic task, my mother never really got over what should have been a simple student/teacher "crush." She continued to pursue my father, and - Surprise! - ended up pregnant in the fall of 1967. Letters from the time indicate that, when I was born the following summer, the only thing my dad found more disappointing than the fact of my birth at all was the name my mother had given me. He sent money sporadically, but essentially said point-blank that he wanted nothing to do with me. Consequence avoidance #1: disavow your parental duties, and try to cover up the evidence so that your REAL family doesn't discover what has transpired.

I grew up as an only child with my unwedded mother, and we had a great time. I never lacked for strong father-figures: my grandpa, uncle, Warren...and, later, my best friend's dad, Dale. I never really felt like I was "missing" anything, and when I learned that our family lacked something most others had, my mother was up-front about the fact that, yes, I did have a dad, and no, he didn't live with us. End of story. really wasn't. My dad's marriage with Marian was falling apart, not because I had been discovered but just because my dad was impossible to live with...and so, free now to trade in for a younger model, my dad began to come around, reigniting my mother's interest. Consequence avoidance #2: turn the lemons of your dissolving marriage into lemonade with a new, sleeker woman.

By the time I reached junior high my parents were a strong couple, and I'd learned to accept the fact of this male in my life. He treated me well, if a little distantly: remember, he was not just a generation older than me, but really two, and so he had that kind of fatherhood mentality. My parents decided to buy a house together, and we moved to Cass City, from which my dad would commute to his teaching job in Ubly and my mom to Bay City. Those six years in CC were pretty good; my dad was, by now, a normal fixture in my life, although my early history generally made it so that when I wanted something I asked my mom first. He certainly didn't "get me" the way my mom did; she at least tolerated my music, even coming to like such classics as Twisted Sister's "Burn In Hell." When I got my ear pierced at 16, he was furious and wanted to "force" me to take it out. (This from the same guy who would walk up to students in the hallway in the early-70's, give them $5, and order them to go get a haircut.) My mom calmed him down, basically saying that, hey, if an earring was gonna be the extent of my rebellion, that was a pretty easy thing, no?

Dad conducting at Ubly: early 1980's

Of course, my mom found out - MUCH more quickly than did her predecessor - that my dad IS impossible to live with. For one, he was an alcoholic, consuming a fifth of whiskey every couple of days. For another, he had definitely old-skool ideas about masculine/feminine roles, and despite the fact that EACH of them did exactly the same job, he expected to come home (from his shorter commute) and sit down with a highball while my mother cooked his dinner. And then cleaned up afterwards. Lastly, he didn't seem to think that paying bills was what HIS money was for; those pesky things should fall to my mother, so that he could continue to buy his Seagram's and his mail-order clothes from Blair and whatever other shiny thing caught his eye. At the end, when they split up in the winter of 1985, he told my mom: "I feel like I'm being shafted!" Yeah...'cause that's how it works: you get to do whatever you want, and then you get to claim to be a victim.

Whew! Okay, I said I'd make this brief, and here I am wasting a beautiful day writing thousands of words. If you're still here, congrats: you've reached the end of our story for the day. Like any good soap opera, I'll leave you danglin' through the weekend, and pick up with part two of our tale next week.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The ABC's of Me Me Me

And...we're back to meme season. That's okay...who doesn't just love to talk about himself? (! In the third row! YOU don't like to talk about yourself?? Get the fuck outta here, yer killin' me!) *sigh!* Onward...

A- Available or Single: Aren't these the same thing? Uh...taken for 10 years, married for (almost) 5. Yowza!

B- Best Friend: Eric Anderson. (I know...boring answer.)

C- Cake or Pie: Cake. Always cake. My great-grandmother's Mississippi Mud Cake. Chocolate cake with coconut mixed in, topped with a pint of marshmallow creme, then with chocolate frosting. An 8x14 pan of it weighs about 5 lbs. Heavenly.

D- Drink of Choice: I'm kind of a dude: I likes me a White Russian.

E- Essential Items: (Hmmm...quote George Carlin?) "Money, keys, comb, wallet, hankie and a condom." No, no, not really. I usually have my pocket digital recorder handy; keeps music ideas from slipping away, and I don't have to call & sing into my own answering machine. Also I always carry a hair know, a ponytail tie. Kiss CD's? Moving on...

F- Favorite Color: Tie between Prince purple and 70's VW orange.

G- Gummi Bears or Worms: Bears. The red ones, natch.

H- Hometown: When? Important kidhood in Auburn, high school in Cass City, college in Mt. Pleasant and E. Lansing, summers in Vassar, now in St. Johns.

I- Indulgence: Cigarettes.

J- January or February: Fuck...NEITHER! Suckiest months of the winter, at least in Michigan. Then again, January in Akumal this past season was pretty nice...

K- Kids: One daughter, Roslyn, due to show her pretty face in mid-July. Can't wait!!

L- Life is incomplete without: The people I love, and who deign to love me back. (Gah! Syrupy!) And KISS! Oh, and SOFT PORN! Yeah.

M- Marriage Date: June 1, 2002.

N- Number of Siblings: Technically? Two, half. Brother Mike & sister Patricia, by my father & his first wife. Last seen at funeral of said father, uh...(thinking)...Groundhog Day, 2003. People who act like it? Three: my friends Eric & Mike, and my aunt Deb, who is fewer than 5 years older than me. Honestly? Zero: I'm a spoiled only child, and I generally act like it.

O- Oranges or Apples: Both. I like oranges in the winter (a scurvy preventer, perhaps?) and apples the rest of the time. Hard, crunchy ones, like Gala, Fiji, & Cameo. None o' that "Red Delicious" shit.

P- Phobias/Fears: Spiders (slowly overcoming), heights (slowly overcoming), and just a touch of agoraphobia. Not bad...but, after a little while in the company of lots of people or close crowds...I need a charm break.

Q- Favorite Quote: "Fun? FUN?!? Y'know Danny...I once banged two stewardesses on a 747 at 30,000 feet. THAT was fun! We had...a FUN time!"

R- Reasons to smile: Tess' belly dancing (the apostrophe is a possessive, implying that I like to watch ROSLYN dance in Tess' belly...NOT that Tess belly dances!), the cat when she tries to turn herself inside-out, the opening riff at a Kiss concert, and good times with friends & family. (AHHH!) And porn!

S- Season: Yeah. Summer. Next.

T- Tag Three: Mike, Suze, and Jenn.

U- Unknown Fact About Me: Wow...I'm pretty much an open book. Um...I like really corny, slickly-commercial country-pop music sung by women?

V– Vegetarian or Oppressor of Animals: I eat meat...and, I go veggie. I like to think of it like Jefferson said: "Think of meat as a seasoning, not as the main course." Well, now, with only 10 weeks left, Tess is gettin' a little iron deficient, so she pretty much told me "You can just sort of keep cooked steak on hand, for me to gnaw on..." YEAH, baby! Grrrr!!

W- Worst Habits: Correcting other people when they speak (geez, and I TRY so hard not to do it!), social smoking, and unintentionally aggressive driving when some mother-fucker PISSES ME OFF!

X– X-rays or Ultrasounds: For WHO?! I guess I really don't want an ultrasound...but, then again, I don't want an X-RAY either! I liked seeing Roz on the ultrasounds, though...

Y- Your Favorite Foods: Mississippi Mud Cake and White Russians! (WOW, would that be rich!) Cab-Sauv? (Wine is a food group, right?) Dark chocolate (with little cacao nibs), pasta, ice cream,, and heart disease runs in my family! Hmph.

Z- Zodiac: A killer in L.A. some years ago. Gee, I didn't know there was, like, gonna be a QUIZ! Sheesh.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

All The News That's Fit

FLASH! The semester is finally over. (BIG *sigh* of relief!) Things were really fine, but still, it kinda grates on my nerves to have had last Friday be my "last day," but still be grading this week. Ugh. Alas, I'm sure that come August - and every damn semester thereafter until I'm almost 60! - I'll look back with fondness on these "pre-child" semesters...and wonder how I had it so easy.

FLASH! Just discovered a new use for the sun: drying clothes! That's right, after a few hesitant stop-&-start moments over the last few summers, I finally took the plunge, bought a few dozen more clothespins, and made a vow to not turn on the dryer until September at least. Hey, the Hettlers left us three lines about 15 yards long...why not use 'em?? So, I waited for a sunny, breezy day (Monday) and did the laundry. You know what? I didn't realize until MY laundry was out there (skivvies, nursing bras & all!) that...hell, I can't SAY when the last time I saw laundry on a line was. ANY laundry! See, it IS harder work. Takes a lot longer to haul all that shit out there and hang it than it does to throw it in the dryer & walk away. But the clothes get just as dry, I haven't used 1) electricity, 2) natural gas, or 3) Bounce sheets, and I'm harnessing the power of a star in the process. So, not only can I feel environmentally superior, I'm also saving dough. You spend on used EZO albums, or whatever.

FLASH! Preggo classes are going well; we had our first one last week, and there are two more to go. We're getting a lot of anxious questions answered...mostly about how much say we'll have in the delivery. As it turns out: quite a lot. The docs at Alliance don't do ANYTHING as a matter of habit. You want an epidural? You gotta ask. No episiotomies. Hungry and you're in first stage labor?'re gonna need the strength. Pitocin? Certainly not right away, and if they think it's necessary, they'll tell you why. We haven't toured the birthing suites yet, but that'll come, and we're already told that there's a "squat bar" and a "birthing ball" (otherwise known as an exercise ball when you're at the gym and not laboring on the damn thing). 10 weeks out and we're feeling good...well, you know, except Miss Tessmacher ain't sleeping so well these days. I's good practice, right?

FLASH! The last major renovation on the house is about to commence. I wasn't going to get into the stairway & upstairs hall until later...if even at ALL this summer. But, with largeish chunks of lead-paint-coated wallpaper crumbling away every time we flip the light switch, I guess the time is better sooner rather than later. I already have some necessary components: the paint, the two light fixtures (one replacement, one additional), and a host of other little things. Next week I'll haul out the trusty ol' wallpaper steamer & set to work. Should be interesting working in the stairwell: I'll let y'all know how that goes. And, I can see that the plaster is cracked aplenty, but I can't see any MAJOR structural damage. It'll be nice to replace the stair treads finally, too; the boards that are down aren't treads, they're just stock 1x, which explains why they're all cracking. Duh, they weren't MEANT to have weight plodding up & down 'em all the live long day! So, I have my eye on some nice oak treads...that are (gulp!) something like $34 apiece. And I have...(counts)...14 stairs. Hmmm. Maybe the treads are long enough, I can get TWO steps out of ONE tread? Here's hoping. Photos to come soon.

And...that's it. I've been transferring out-of-print LPs to my iPod via the great USB turntable my mother spoiled me with for, while you're out & about, make sure you check out these great bands you forgot about: Starz, Autograph, EZO, Heaven, Helix, Axe, and Vandenberg. Yeah, my musical tastes pretty much shit the bed a LOOOONNNGG time ago. Thank GODDESS Tess puts up with me!