Horseshoes and Hand Grenades

•February 6, 2011 • Leave a Comment

There seems to be this new trend in our house where Pop-pop notices things we buy at the store and attempts to replace them.  Unfortunately, he only vaguely pays attention to the initial item purchased, so we get some strange substitute, or simply something I don’t like.  We get blueberry waffles instead of regular and gluten-free ones.  We get tapioca pudding instead of sugar-free  vanilla.  I’m pretty sure the sour cream in the fridge was meant to replace the cottage cheese I bought last week.

I appreciate the gesture, but it’s frustrating to come home after three to five days of not being here and realize there is nothing to eat.  By the time I have a chance to run to the store it’s almost time to go back to work.  I get home the following Friday and Hubby has eaten it all.  Wash.  Rinse.  Repeat.

Apparently the fix to this is to have Hubby go to the store before I come home or have him go shopping with Pop-pop on the off-chance one of us catches   him on his way out.  We’ve tried suggesting trip to the store, but we have yet to figure out what magic hour he takes these trips.  One minute the fridge will be empty, the next it’s full of nothing that makes a complete meal.

Add this to the disappearing food phenomenon where any food left in the fridge for more than a couple of days simply goes away because Pop-pop either assumes it has gone bad or has mistaken guacamole for mold, and I feel like a bear having to forage for anything to eat in our kitchen.  Yesterday I ate tuna and instant mashed potatoes!

I think one of the things I look forward to about having our own house again will be stocking my kitchen with food I like and food from which I can make a meal.  I’m sorry, bagged salad and ring bologna just doesn’t cut it.

Covert Lifestyle

•January 14, 2011 • Leave a Comment

So here it is, Hubby and I are polyamorous, kinky, and both pansexual.  This being said, we also live with Pop-pop.  This means we can’t really have company over, we’re volume controlled, and we leave the house in a pretty vanilla state…most of the time. 

Example number one.  Hubby had a boy over.  For some reason it’s acceptable in Pop-pop’s mind to have friends over who are too tired to drive home, so under the ruse of building him a makeshift bed on the floor he was allowed to stay.  This almost backfired when the two of them decided to take a shower and Pop-pop, who has no problem whatsoever using the restroom with Hubby in the shower, walked in with no warning.  There was a tense few moments of silence before he went back to bed and the boys could breathe. 

Example number two.  Hubby and I get a little carried away one night.  Our bed sits directly over Pop-pop’s bedroom, and we live in an old house that creaks when the wind blows.  A few minutes into our activities there’s a knock at the door.  “Everything alright?” we hear.  “Someone sick?  You two fightin’?”  It took a while, but we finally convinced him there was not an emergency situation happening in his house before we could get back to a much quieter and more tame version of our previous activities. 

Example number 3.  Hubby was dating a girl when we moved in.  She helped us move, and Pop-pop assumed she was a friend of mine, nothing more.  He still occasionally asks how she is, what she’s up to, and why she doesn’t come around anymore.  Recently he asked why she’s not a bridesmaid in my wedding.  I just don’t have the heart to tell him the real reasons. 

And finally, example number 4.  One of my favourites.  We went to a concert one night, and it was too cold to try to change in the car.  Dressed to the nines in a black mini, thigh highs, cleavage to my chin, and a collar Hubby hand-knotted for me.  Pop-pop looked once…looked twice…finally looked at my face…looked thrice, and said, “wow…you better keep her on a leash tonight or someone’ll steal her from ya!”  at which point Hubby pointed out the collar and said, “that’s what the collar’s for.  I made it myself”  Pop-pop told Hubby he was pretty crafty as he studied the collar in detail. 

Sometimes I feel like I’m back in high school sneaking people up to my room, but I never had to sneak in people in high school.  Other times I feel like he knows and just does these things to keep us on our toes.  In any case, it makes life with Pop-pop twice as interesting.

A Year…or Two?

•January 13, 2011 • Leave a Comment

It’s been almost a year since we packed everything we owned and moved an hour North to live with my husband’s grandfather.  The plan was a year to be debt free and comfortable that Pop-pop could take care of himself.  What happened?  Life happened, my friends.  Life.  Between health and job setbacks, this plan is taking a little longer than expected.  Toss in planning a wedding and working on a visitation plan with Hubby’s son’s mother, and you have a cocktail sure to knock anyone on her backside. 

 Our new goal is after the wedding, which puts us in for another 6-9 months.   It’s not a terrible development.  Aside from the air quality and Tolkeinian commute, living here is not as bad as I had imagined it would be.  I miss my cats, but they’re with good people.  I miss my dog, who never came back after the Comcast man let him out the front door, but I have to believe he’s being treated well in a good home.  I miss my decorations, my dishes, and my picture frames, but they’re things.  It’s a little rough not having any personal space or the freedom to have company, but I have my entire life for that.  For now I’m enjoying it for what it is, time to get to know the family of which I’ve chosen to be a part.  This is Hubby’s history, a house he lived in as a child, people who shaped him. 

I feel honoured to be able to get to know them as well as I have, just as I felt honoured to be able to comfort and aid his grandmother in her final days.  It’s been rough at times.  Pop-pop is still lonely and depressed a lot of the time.  We didn’t decorate for Christmas, as it was her holiday.  He agreed to let us set up a tree because it was important to me, but I could do without for a year to save the man some grief.  Some days we just sit at the table and talk; some days we sit at the table and don’t talk.  He tells me about his life, his wife, and Hubby.  He tells me about his dreams and problems, his health and spiritual and personal philosophies.  He tells me about a world and time I never would have known, and teaches me more about a region to which I am not native.

As I said before, we now have biweekly visitation with Hubby’s son.  He comes over every other Saturday, and our house is full of the life and excitement of a four year old.  Under the grumbling and grouching about toys on the floor his wife kept impeccable and the cartoons taking the place of his old westerns, I see a fresh light in Pop-pop’s eyes as he is reminded that he still has family to live for, a great-grandson to watch grow and learn, and who even shares his obsession with trains.  This, to me, is more important than having my friends over for a party.  This, to me, is more important than a little more space.  That stuff will come.  This is the precious present that is our home.

The Definition of Fighting

•August 7, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Hubby and I very rarely “fight”.  When it does happen it’s loud, violent, and usually ends up with someone accidentally (read: subconsciously) being hurt.  There’s screaming, there’s crying, and that usually ends the fight.  Like I said, we rarely “fight”.

What we do have are generally mildly passionate disagreements.  We’re both extremely passionate, and severely obstinate, people.  This means even the smallest issues tend to make little ripples in the surface of our partnership.  We’re very seldom upset about it, we just get a little intense when we discuss such things.  This leads a lot of people to think we’re arguing.

Whenever I try to explain this to someone I am met with cynical smirks or concerned patronization.  I’m treated sometimes like an abused woman who insists on defending her attacker.  “He doesn’t mean to put big holes in my face, I swear!” Really, people.  It’s ok!  We can be emotionally invested in differing opinions and still have a healthy marriage!  I promise!

Around the house, however, these small debates often turn into more tumultuous arguments with the addition of a certain 75-year old instigator who seems to find it all extremely amusing.  Here’s how it usually goes…

Hubby and I will be in the middle of a discussion.  The moment one of us speaks above a whisper we hear “will you two stop arguing?” or something similar.  This is our signal that we’re about to acquire an audience.  Sometimes he stays in the other room because he knows we’ll usually change the subject if he sits at the table with us.  Other times he finds reasons to puts around the kitchen or wander up and down the five feet of hallway between the office and the living room.  In either case, he’s listening.  From there the peanut gallery adds his two cents in whenever he feels inspired.  Because I’m the woman, and obviously the more complex and confusing of the two of us, I bear the brunt of most of these comments.  “Oh, there she goes again!”  “Uh oh!  She’s mad now!”  This really only serves to frustrate me until I simply can’t take another comment and decide the conversation is over.  If there’s one thing Hubby hates it’s being cut off and not resolving an argument, so he gets upset that I won’t talk it out, and this leads to a whole new set of arguments, all with the same commentary in the background fueling the fire.

Even so, we have had very few actual fights in this house.  Mostly we don’t fight  because we just don’t feel the need to take things that far.  It’s not healthy.  We also have more respect for Pop-pop and his house than that, and we try at all costs to maintain composure at all times.  Still, one of these days the audience participation is going to exceed my patience and there will be no more confusion about the definition of “fighting”.

Back From Haitus

•August 6, 2010 • Leave a Comment

So I took a bit of  a break after the last post to clear my head and really figure out the source of my frustrations.  They still exist, but I’m learning to deal with them in constructive ways instead of explosive ones.  Every day they give me new determination and a refreshed view of my goals.

I’ve been out of work for two months due to a work related injury.  The physical therapist I go to, who is absolutely wonderful and charming, is only three miles up the road.  This three-mile trip is harder to get to than any doctor I’ve had to visit in Philadelphia.  yes, it’s a four-hour commute, but I can easily walk to the bus even with an injury.  I can not, however, walk three miles up a hill on a highway.  If I can’t find a ride I have to reschedule, much to the frustration of their receptionists.  In a few weeks we will have a car again, and I don’t care if it’s a tin can with a remote control motor in it.  I will learn to drive it and get a license to do so.

Another pressing source of frustration is the fact that Hubby and I never get any alone time.  We’re either out with friends or here with Pop-pop.  I love the man to death, but we need  some time just to be a couple instead of being a couple of kids living with their grandfather.  Without this time all the little issues we’d normally be able to deal with when they come up are left to their own devices.  Eventually they unionize and create havoc.

This is where we come to the topic of this post.  Pop-pop has a rare opportunity to go to the shore with Hubby’s uncle and his family.  When he mentioned needing a suitcase I almost packed for him just to make sure he didn’t change his mind.  A week later that’s exactly what’s happening.  He’s back to his moody, antisocial self.  He doesn’t want to go.  He can sit and relax at home.  He doesn’t need the change of scenery.  No one understands him or his reasons for not wanting to ever leave the house.  He just wants everyone to leave him alone.

I can only be supportive for so long before it becomes exhausting.  I’m trying to think of ways to get him excited to go again.  It’s been almost a year since his wife died, and I know he’s thinking about it.  In fact, in almost a year I’m pretty sure he hasn’t stopped thinking about it.  I know the beach won’t make all that go away, but it might occupy him for at least a few hours out of each day.  This house is a constant reminder of her.  they raised a family here.  They grew old here.  She died here.  A few days out of the house could do his mind a lot of good.

I worry about him because his sitting around is making him stagnant.  He’s starting to get sick.  He’s starting to forget things.  When we moved in here he was active around the house and sharp as a tack.  He was healthy and strong.  In the last few months I’ve seen him get very weak.  I’ve watched a jovial, charming grandfather turn into a gloomy, complaining old man in a very short time.  He needs a vacation.

We need a vacation.  Aside from the aforementioned need for some time alone together, I need some time to myself.  Hubby needs some time to himself.  We can do that in the same house until you add a third-party who flutters between us like a honeybee, instigating us to bicker, then yelling at us for fighting.  We need some quiet time to be in each other’s presence but not necessarily talking.

So, I need to think of a way to make sure Pop-pop takes this vacation.  It may boil down to some heavy sedatives, a tranquilizer gun, and some duct tape.  If I have to pack for him and load him into the truck myself he will be going to the shore…and he’ll like it.

The Goal

•July 2, 2010 • Leave a Comment

It’s been a while since I’ve written specifically in this blog.  For one thing, I don’t want to paint the people I live with in a negative light just because I need to vent.  That was NOT the point of this.  The point was merely to chronicle, and right now I can’t do that without emotional bias.  The more pressing issue is that I don’t feel most of the time like I live here.  I feel like I keep my things here.  I spend more time at work than I do in this house.  I’m more like a child Hubby won weekend visits with in some twisted divorce.

We are still no closer to our money saving debt paying off goal than we were four months ago, and it’s frustrating.  Every spare dime we have gets soaked up somehow.  Could we save a little more and not spend $20 a week to do something together?  Sure we could, and we’d be divorced before the year’s end.  I’m not really sure how to pull us out of this rut, and I’m not sure I can stand the idea of being here longer than a year.

I don’t have a lot to report on except that I never get to eat the food I buy on grocery trips and there is never water in the Brita pitcher.  Sometimes I feel like I’m wasting my time.

Green Thumb Rodeo

•May 15, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The last few years Hubby and I have honed not only our gardening skills but our ability to plant for an entire household in a backyard’s worth of land.  Last year it was a bit easier, as the dirt was a lot softer and more regularly worked.  It didn’t stop our first batch of seedlings from being drowned by an unexpected two weeks of rain, but once we got plants to take root our peppers were blooming into December.  I have pictures of an inch of snow hugging a still-ripening Habanero.

I didn’t think we’d have a garden this year, as we aren’t living in our own space.  I had little faith that Pop-Pop would let us dig up his beloved backyard to plant the size of a garden we usually like.  He generally plants tomatoes, but they don’t usually give him much success.  I had visions of scrawny tomato plants and a few pots of important herbs we use for our holistic teas and creams.  Other than that, I figured we’d be finding a lot of new farmer’s markets.  Much to my surprise we were given free rein of a sunny spot behind the garage big enough for just about everything we wanted to plant.  With his usual Pop-Pop pessimism he warned us about frost and sun, cats and groundhogs, telling us we’d be lucky if we harvested even a small share of our crops before the mice got to them.  He of little faith told us every heartbreaking story of every failed crop he’d ever planted even after we assured him this was not our first green thumb rodeo.  There was, however, one problem that might prove his prophecy to be accurate; there had to be a reason for Pop-Pop’s lack of tomatoes.

Hubby’s first soil issue was the fact that it’s mostly clay.  The second was the alkaline quality of the soil.  It wasn’t acidic enough for even basic vegetables, let alone tomatoes and peppers.  We limed, we filled, and we tilled til the tiller broke.  Then we turned the soil by hand with a shovel until we could sift the soil like sand.  We then pre-treated with manure and hummus, and topped the whole thing off with an acidifier.  Then it was time to plant.

We generally seed our own plants, starting them indoors in starter pots.  I love planting in late winter while there’s still snow out, feeling a little spark of life at the promise of the coming season.  This year we didn’t have room, so we bought our seedlings at a local farmer’s market.  Two days later a cold snap hit, so our planting was further delayed.  Our poor sprouts lived in the garage for two weeks, coming out when it was warm enough to soak up some sun in an attempt not to traumatize them too much during planting.  Finally, we commandeered a couple of a friend’s kids for helping hands to plant, and took to the dirt.  Just as we finished the last plant it started to rain.  I took this as a sign that we had done well.  Well, as long as it didn’t last for two weeks.

When we finally got them in the ground I was worried we might lose a handful, but I’m proud to say they’re doing fine.  We even have the beginnings of peppers, cauliflower, and tomatoes.

Pop-Pop seems jealous of our tomatoes.