Irreverent Mama

Friday, December 28, 2007

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

I can't imagine you don't have some idle curiosity as to why the blog's suddenly gone all covert. My own fault. I was trawling around my list of blogs, and popped into my daughter's, left a comment, and only after the comment appeared did it dawn on my I was signed in with this account.

I have another, family-friendly account. THIS one is mine. Now, I can't think of a single thing I've written here that would offend the girl, but the point is, I want to be free to do so, should the need arise. I do not want to be censoring myself in this place, looking over my shoulder for the sensibilities of my near and very dear.

I emailed her immediately, of course. (Well, immediately after I made this place private. Which took all of 2.5 minutes.) She said not to worry, she had private spaces, too, and quite understood. However, she is only human and I am realistic. I do not believe for one second that faced with the ongoing temptation to get a peek into mum's private world, she wouldn't do that. I know I certainly would, were our positions reversed. I might resist for a time, I might not resist at all, but inevitably I would be in there, snooping about.

Hence the quick vanishment.

Not to fear. It is temporary. I figure a month or two. Let her try to find it a couple of times and then lose sight of the project.

Okay, so that's that. What I REALLY came here to tell you all about is my newest writing venture!

Another contract, this one even more fun than that wedding place. Check me out over at my very own twice-a-week paid blogging gig. Topic? Women's sex and sexuality. So far I've talked about talking about it, about ebb-and-flow sex drives, Global Orgasm Day, illegal vibrators, and most recently, the boredom that is porn. Fun, no?

Well, I think so. Pop over, take a gander, leave a comment if you wish. Then pop back here and tell me what you think. And if you have any brilliant ideas for post ideas, send me an email. You know where to find me.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I get up early. Really early. Five, give or take fifteen minutes, generally. I do this because I like the quiet, the peace, the solitude. I could, as so many people do, get that at the other end of the day, but that doesn’t work for me because a) I have teenagers and b) I fall asleep.

The younger teen is in school, so she has lights-out at ten, but I’m well gone by then. Staying up later would be work, a monumental effort probably involving toothpicks in the eyelids, not to mention copious amounts of caffeine — which sort of takes away from the “peace and tranquility” aspect of it all.

So, morning it is. It’s dark, it’s quiet. I get some reading done, I might catch up on a couple of emails, but mostly, I think. About my work, about my goals, about challenges to overcome, about things that give me pleasure and satisfaction. I think and take notes, writing always having furthered my thinking. An interactive process between me and the paper, because yes, this form of writing is always done with pen and paper. Much as I love my keyboard the rest of the day, the glaring white glow of the monitor is an affront to this very quiet time; the blanket of stillness around me is best suited to — no! requires — the soft scritch of pen over paper.

The feeling that the whole world sleeps while I have this hour or two of solitude is immeasurably precious to me. Which is why the sudden loud hum from the kitchen came as such a jolt. Why, when it escalated into a choppy screech, I found myself standing staring at my wailing fridge. A sharp vending-machine smack to the front didn’t help. Nor did the swift kick to the side.

Clearly fridge abuse was not going to help. The noise was the fan. Of that much I’m quite sure. Not from the rear, but from the freezer compartment at the bottom. The compressor?

The noise is growing louder. Were I upstairs in bed, I’m sure I’d be hearing it, and I briefly wonder if the whole house is about to be woken by a screaming appliance. But no. No because while it increases in volume, it decreases in tempo. It’s getting slower. And slooower … and now the noise is lower, more grind than squeal … and s.s.s.l.l.o.o.o.w.w.e.r.r.r.r…

And …

it stops.

The fridge gives one final, convulsive shudder, and is no more. Silence thuds against my eardrums. It has given up the ghost. Let us have a short moment of silence for the faithful, if occasionaly leaky, refrigerator .

Everyone else in the house is still sleeping. It’s just me and the corpse. I can’t leave it like that. It’ll soon start to stink.

It takes five minutes to unload the freezer compartment into the basement chest freezer. Another five to put two plastic grocery bins full of produce and condiments at the chill end of the unfinished basement. They should last a few days down there. Certain dairy products are on shelves in the back porch, where I hope they won’t freeze solid.

It is only as I turn to head back upstairs for the seventh and final time that I notice, in the velvet early-morning silence that I so treasure, a semi-regular drip … drip … dripdrip … drip. There’s water dripping into the laundry tub! And it’s coming from … the ceiling. The unfinished basement ceiling.

Look at it! A steady rivulet, about a foot wide, a glistening swath along the underside of the kitchen floorboards along which pulsate half-formed droplets, sparkling domes of water gliding along the stream, which, when they reach the joist about the laundry tub, accumulate sufficient weight to form into a drip… drip … dripdrip …. drop.

It appears to be coming in from the outside wall, but that’s crazy. It’s well below freezing out there. There’s no ice dam, just a huge mound of snow. I know, because I was out there, at ten to six in the half-lit morning, digging. Just to make sure.

At a more decent hour, I call the contractor. The very wonderful contractor who fixed our porch last summer, the man who earned my undying gratitude for a) doing it quickly b) doing it mostly on budget, (even my pathetically small budget, which had caused other handy types to stagger away in fits of derisive laughter) and c) dealing with the eight-seven gazillion carpenter ants that emerged when a rotten board was removed. (Said carpenter ants being the little surprise that caused the “mostly” in the “on budget” sentence.) I particularly love him for doing this all while I was OUT OF TOWN. I didn’t have to actually see one single carpenter ant. And that, my friends, is a great way to spend your honeymoon: NOT seeing seething, pulsating swarms of carpenter ants dripping in writhing clumps from the ceiling and onto the porch deck.

So when I hear his voice on the phone, later that day, after dawn has broken, I am instantly reassured.

“Turn off the water to the house,” he tells me. “Open the lowest and the highest faucets in the house. Wait an hour. If the drip stops, we know it’s a pipe that’s probably frozen and burst.”

As indeed turns out to be the case. Mr Wonderful Contractor Guy will be around tomorrow morning, with his friend Mr (we hope) Equally Wonderful Plumber Guy to find and repair the leak. I am hugely relieved. Faced with the choice of a few hundred dollars for plumbing versus ten thousand dollars a foot for foundation work? I’ll take the plumber. Well, yes, really what I’d like is for the leak to magically fix itself, free of charge. But I don’t think that’s one of my options.

So, you can see it’s been an eventful day here at casa Ilona. With no water (which means NO FLUSHING) and no fridge, I think I’ll be cancelling the party I had scheduled for tonight.

So if you’ll excuse me, I have some phone calls to make. Because tonight? Tonight I won’t be hosting a party — I’ll be buying a fridge!! And not flushing. Urgh.

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Friday, December 07, 2007

We don't have a lot of excess money. We live in a small and lovely house in a nice neighbourhood. We aren't suffering, but with eight children and huge child support payments going out (and teeny ones coming in: Matthew pays, quite literally, over ten times the amount I receive), there is enough for basics and no more.

Since we don't run a car and this is North America, some would say we don't even have the basics.

Though I do sometimes get weary of the constant balancing this against that -- "You got new boots last month, so, no, you can't have a pair of dress shoes this month" -- I don't tend to feel that way.

This is partly the fiscal autonomy we have. We each put a set amount into a joint account to cover monthly expenses; we also each have a private savings account, allowing us some discretionary money that needn't be accounted for to the other. It may not be a lot, but it is private.

It's mostly, however, because Matthew and I are so much in synch on what must be purchased, what is optional, and how funds should be allocated.

Last weekend we went to a favourite gallery for a reception. The featured artist is a friend, and we have a couple of his pieces. (Which have, I add with some satisfaction, appreciated markedly since their purchase.) In fact, his work has increased in value so much that nothing we liked was possible for us. His silver lining is our cloud...

In the basement rooms, however, we found a piece by a different artist, which we loved. The gallery, as we have cause to know, has a very generous monthly-pay plan. We looked at the piece, went away for dinner, came and looked again, went home. Two days later, Matthew came home with the piece. Because we bought this, he won't be buying the rowing machine he's wanted for months, and I won't be getting these boots for a while yet.

But the art, ("mixed media on wood") sits over the dining room table, and every time I see it, I get a rush of pleasure. It looks good at all times of day; every light level brings out some new aspect of it; there is no time at which it is less than appealing. To us, at any rate, which is all that matters.

(I did try to get a picture for your possible curiosity, but my camera, she is a light hog. No flash, the image is blurred and you miss the gorgeous subtle textures and much of the colour; with flash, a huge white glare distorts part of the glossy surface, no matter which angle and distance I took. So you'll never know what the fuss is about. My regrets are sincere.)

Another man would have insisted on the rowing machine. Another man would have been sullen and pouty because he couldn't have both. (The man I used to be married to would have bought both things he craved, neither of which would have been anything I wanted, and let me fend off the bill-collectors.)

I feel such gratitude that I am in a relationship with someone with whom I'm in such basic, effortless harmony. Not that we don't annoy each other bytimes, but we don't abrade.

And now we have another lovely piece of art for our mutual delight.