arizona

Visiting mom

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A few weeks ago, the owners of the quilting store Mom was working at, decided to close the store. Mom was blue about the store's closing, asking, "Why do all the jobs I like not work out?" The store was very convenient for her: it was close to home for her, had hours she liked, coworkers were good people.

I had no answer for her.

A week later, my brother lost his job, too. He worked in the housing industry. With the downturn in the housing market, his job became uncertain for a while, then, poof gone.

My response was the response it always should have been, but hasn't been lately with all the work I've been doing: I flew out to Arizona to spend time with both of them. I flew out on Thursday evening, flying back on Sunday morning. Mom made the rule before I flew out of "No computer."

Yeah, that didn't last long. It lasted just long enough for Mom to say, "I don't know. Kitt, look it up on the web."

The weekend was nice and relaxing. I still had work to do, and did some of it. No as much as I would have liked, but, well, I think that will always be the case. B came up and the three of us tooled around chatting, eating and, well, getting massages.



Pup returns an orange.


Hula! Hula! Hooooolah!


Self portrait.


Mom and food.


Me and the same food.

Mom warned me that we were going to a quilting event, where I should expect to spend about five hours amongst quilters. Me? I can sit for a large number of hours happily content with my computer: give me an electrical outlet and I'm just fine.

I expected Mom to spend time quilting. The group would spend time working on group projects as well as individual projects. The evenings are focused work time on quilts. So, We brought her quilting basket full of projects. We brought in her sewing machine. We brought in our contribution to the potluck dinner.

Mom didn't quilt.

She spent the whole time organizing the various quilts the group was making for different projects. She talked with people, sure, the time is a good social time, too. It's interesting to watch Mom in her element, to see her take charge, laugh, work, clearly enjoy the time and the tasks. It's nice.


Though, I think her sewing machine was lonely.


Hula!

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I met Mom's new dog today. Everyone, meet Hula. She's an English pointer.

My gifts suck!

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Mom turned old this week. Honestly, she keeps turning old every year, only to redefine what old is and push it back a year. When I look at her, spend time with her, I know what's in store for me in 20, 25, 30 years. I know what I'm going to look like, how I'll walk, how wise I'll be, and, though it's normal to want to be young forever, seeing her makes the years seem almost easy.

I'm loathe these days to purchase gifts for most people, my parents in particular. I know Mom is in a declutter, reduce, simplify phase, much as I am, much as most people are. Overcoming my packrat mentality is not an easy task, so I'm hesitant to contribute to others' piles of stuff.

Since I missed purchasing Mom a Mother's Day, we talked and agreed we would head off to some designer garden store near her when I visited (this was last week), and get her a gift she truly wanted. There were a few pots she'd been eyeing as of late, and giving someone something she wants but wouldn't purchase for herself is giving the perfect gift.

We never made it to the store.

Two or three times in conversation in the first few days I was visiting, Mom or Eric mentioned the vacuum cleaner. In particular, how old and ineffective it had become. They had been looking at new vacuums, but neither was willing to buy a new one, at full retail or sale price. Bunch o' cheapskates (I say in the most loving of terms).

So, breaking from the don't-buy-household-cleaning-items-as-gifts rule, I listened to what Mom and Eric said, found the vacuum cleaner she wanted, and pulled the trigger. Instead of a Mother's Day present, it's now a Mother's Day, birthday, wedding and Christmas present all in one.

Because I'm as cheap as they are.

Mom used it after I had left, and graciously sent me a note after she used it. Her note?

"It sucks!"

Gift of a 7 year old

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Arizona is hot. It's just hot. Hot, hot, hot.

Which is why everyone is inside, or in the pool. Like us!

Eric put up a very Frank Gehry-like structure over the pool to keep the pool in the shade so that we could be in the pool during the heat of the day. Previously, we couldn't swim from around 10 until around 3 because the pool was in FULL. BRIGHT. SUN. One step out there during that time, and we'd all melt.

With the Frank shade structure up, we could be out at any time of day. The downside is that the pool stayed in the shade, too, and never really warmed up. Cold pools and me? Not so much.

Today, however, I decided that yes, I could get in the water and play with the boys. So I did. Usually, Sam and Jackson just splash around, or jump into the pool seeing who could make the biggest cannonball splash. I figured I'd splash around with them, fetch the water toys that end up at the bottom of the deep end, cool off and get out.

At one point, I was fixing the band on the goggles I was going to wear. The band was pulled tight enough to fit on a 4 year old's head, which meant it was just about perfect for my puny head, but not quite. As I stood on the pool steps adjusting the band, Sam swam up to me, pulled off his googles, and said, "Here, use these. They're bigger."

Now, the goggles I had in my hand were actually the same size and style as the ones he was offering me. The band was already a little looser, but they were the same style.

I accepted them, said thanks, and watched with suspicion as he went over to the other side of the pool, plucked up another pair of goggles, put them on and went off to swim again.

Having just spent the last two days with Sam, watching as he cheated his way to some allowed victory or bitter defeat, I couldn't help but wonder, how am i getting the bum end of this deal?

I never did figure out how. The goggles were good, they fit well. I'm not sure when I became cynical of the generosity of a seven year old.

Mindless eating

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Sam, Jackson and I went to the movies today to see Shrek the Third. I can't say I can watch any Shrek movies without having flashbacks ("Layers? Ogres have layers. Onions have layers. Parfait! Everybody loves parfaits!"), or without trying to analyze the techniques and effects during the whole movie. This one was the closest I came, but I still watched with a critical eye. I'm surprised at the number of human characters in the movie, but they started that trend with the previous sequel, so I shouldn't have been so surprised.

When we arrived, I didn't know the movie-going rules, and said, "Sure!" when the boys asked for popcorn and pop and a Slurpee/Icee. I did draw the line at candy though. I can't say that drinking a large class of Sprite is much better than not having a candy bar, but hey, slightly less sugar is better, right?

We arrived about 20 minutes before the show actually started, so the three of us sat there watching commercials and advertisements. We were in the front of the top balcony, smack dab in the middle of the theatre. Sam wanted to be in the very back, at the very top, in the last row, but, well, he lost that argument with me. I wonder how many more years I can win those arguments with him. I give myself another 5.

As we were sitting there, Jackson on my left drinking his Slurpee/Icee, Sam on my right drinking much of his ginormous Sprite, and me in the middle with a large bag of buttered popcorn. After a few minutes of muching on popcorn, and vaguely gazing at the movie screen, I looked down at Sam.

Sam was eating popcorn, too. Rather than taking a few kernels at a time as I was, Sam was taking giant fistfuls of popcorn and shoving them into his mouth as quickly as he could. He was gazing at the movie screen even less focused than I was.

Watching him reach for the popcorn, grab a handful and shove without being aware of what he was doing, immediately annoyed me. I don't know why I reacted as strongly as I did, but watching this small boy mindlessly consuming high amounts of sugar, fat, salt and media, all unconsciously without awareness, frustrated me.

I tried moving the bag slightly. Instead of reaching into the bag of popcorn where it was before, Sam's hand grasped nothing. Again without awareness, he reached around for the bag, grabbing at the air, finding nothing. After a few moments, he became aware of the missing bag, and turned to look. When he saw the back was moved, he leaned over reaching in, grabbed a handful of popcorn and continued the fistful eating.

So, I moved the bag again.

With the same results.

A few minutes of this, and he became frustrated. He looked at me and asked me why I kept moving the bag. I explained he was grabbing handfuls of popcorn, instead of eating a few at a time. If he ate a few at a time, I would keep the bag still.

My compromise worked for two popcorns grabs before the fistful feeding returned. I closed the bag and told them we weren't eating any more popcorn until after the movie had started, and maybe not then either. Both of them accepted my statement really easily. They're both good kids, I just wish the American model of full consumerism wasn't taught to them so young.

Especially the mindless consuming part.

Oregon Stop Pizza

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Last night, I flew into Phoenix to spend the week(ish) with Mom and Eric. That Sam and Jackso-own are also here is just icing on the cake.

Well, maybe they're the cupcake. That Beej drove up from Tucson to visit with me and the fam also was the icing on the cake. I think I can never get enough of Beej: he has to be the best brother a girl could ever have. Can I say that without Mom getting mad at me for not saying something about Chris, too? I mean, sure, parents aren't supposed to show bias to a particular child. Heh. Me. Without bias. Who are we kidding?

We talked all day, watched the boys in the pool as Mom went to work in the afternoon, played games with them, and generally relaxed. Watching two boys play, and keeping them entertained, is definitely easier with two people having man-on-man defense, rather than one person having to play zone defense.

In the evening, Eric came home from work, then Mom came home, and both asked where we wanted to go for dinner. Beej immediately piped up, "Oregon Stop Pizza. Andy was telling me about it, and ..." Turns out, a friend of his had gone a lot when he was still at home in high school, but B had never gone. Tonight, with two kids in tow, would be a great time to go.

So, into the car we pile, and off we go to the Oregon Stop Pizza. I had a few calls I needed to make to arrange portopotties for the weekend's tournament, the Sunnyvale Savage Seven, which I've been wanting to host at the local school for years now. I offered what I wanted on my pizza and wandered outside to make my calls. Guaranteed, I was the only person in the Phoenix metropolitan area wearing a hoodie outside at that point.

I walked back in after my calls, as Eric was walking out to find me and make sure everything was okay. As we walked back to the table together, flashing lights and loud music blasted from the dining area. I looked up and around and realized we weren't at the Oregon Stop Pizza place, we were at the Organ Stop Pizza place. The restaurant has one of the largest organs in North America (putting even the one at St. Paul's to shame), complete with spinning organ that drops into the stage and pipes that make the upstairs balcony rumble (recommended for anyone to try).

Mom had never been to the restaurant, so Beej asked her what she thought.

"Well, we've had worse pizza."

"How's the wine?"

"Well, we haven't had any worse."

From the mouths of babes

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"You have a moustache."

I had just sat down at the table and started setting up the cards for a game of Memory with Sam and Jackson when Sam greeted me with his first words of the day.

I looked up at him, various thoughts and emotions zipping through my head.

"Oh, really, kid? Like I never noticed.

Like I hadn't seen the thing growing on my upper lip every day since I was twelve. It's just the first thing I notice in every single photograph taken of me in the last twenty years."

I looked up at him, still arranging the cards, and answered, "Yes, I do," while thinking, "Deal the cards, just deal the cards."

Oh, clearly his Auntie hadn't heard him correctly. He chose to repeat himself in a louder voice.

"You have a moustache!"

Good lord, kid, like I haven't tried every. single. freakin' type of hair removal or minimizer created by man to get rid of the thing. Like I haven't spent thousands of dollars to deal with the issue and can tell anyone the merits and disadvantages of shaving, waxing, bleaching, or zapping (with light or electricity) hairs for hours on end.

Like I haven't spent the last two decades completely self-conscious about the hair on my upper lip, kid.

"Yes, Sam, you just said that. I heard you the first time. Why do you think it necessary to repeat yourself?"

"Um, well, I didn't think you knew."

Right.

I do now, kid.