Monday, March 9, 2009

ooh, february...

you are such a bastard, aren't you? I think Brian at Looky, Daddy! may have done the best job summing up the general spirit of the month. In our own armpit of stank, various things happened. We coped, in the way that one does. We did not pretend we were British. There was not so much with the stiff upper lip. But then, you may have already gotten that I am not so much the stiff-upper-lip type, hmm?

We had two days of sun this weekend. I took it as the sun's promise to come back sometime in a more full-time kind of way. Also, we have had about a week with no new problems. Huzzah! More news as it comes.

Monday, February 9, 2009

a nice day

Today was just about everything I imagined when I dreamed about what good could come of L's job situation. D woke up AFTER 6 AM. HOORAY. Okay, there are just not letters large enough to convey the size of that hooray. You'll just have to read them very very loudly in your head. So, anyway, today D woke up at a reasonable hour. I got up with him, we read books and played play-doh for a while, then L got up and took over for the remote-controlled car hour while I went and made breakfast for myself and D. L and D ate their breakfasts while I got going on work. L took D to nursery school, finished fixing our car (hooray!) and then took it to get inspected -- this time successfully -- while I got to continue to work. L picked up D, we all had some lunch together, D went to bed and L picked up the mess left in his workshop from his weekend furniture-building while I, yes, got to continue to work. When D got up, L and D played until almost 5, when I made dinner and then we ate. D got to watch an episode of Blue's Clues, L went to his blacksmithing class, and then I read books with D, gave him a bath, and put him to bed. I was happily productive, L got stuff done and then got to go hit red-hot metal, D had fun at nursery school and played with both of his parents. Awesome.

While we waited for D's bath to fill, we watched a little YouTube. D's favorite for the day was the following They Might Be Giants song:

(Getting into the bath, D observed that he would be seven when he grew up.)

Friday, February 6, 2009

political input

Hoping the moderation of our state's Republican senators works to our advantage, I sent an e-mail to Collins and Snowe in support of the stimulus. Go women of Maine!

Dear Senator:

I'm a constituent and I'm writing to ask you to support the stimulus bill.

I live on [x] St., which is a street in a residential. middle-class neighborhood near to downtown Portland. My husband and I have a toddler and this neighborhood is a very comfortable place for us to live as so many of our neighbors are right in our stage of life. Many of us are 30-somethings with one or two young children, owning our first home, college-educated and trying to succeed both at our jobs and in the life-work of being parents and responsible members of our community.

My husband was laid off in January; in this, he joined at least four other people on our street (that we know of) who have been laid off in the last few months alone. My husband is a cabinetmaker and as an aspect of registering for unemployment benefits (thank you State of Maine!) he signed up for the state job bank. Setting his search parameters at a 90-mile radius, he searched for any jobs that used any of his skills and found none. The area ninety miles from Portland includes most of southern Maine -- and southern New Hampshire too, for that matter. There is no work for woodworkers in all of the most populated parts of Maine and New Hampshire. That is a big problem for a state like ours which is nationally known for the expertise of its woodworkers. There are a lot of people here who have spent years and years becoming good at making beautiful cabinetry and there is no work for them now. Our neighbors are in a variety of different professions but the effect on them is the same: men and women who have already spent ten years of their lives on developing an area of expertise in order to support their new families, and now they are out of work because there is no work for them to do what they have been trained to do. It's pretty early in this process so the principal effect on the neighborhood has been a lot of extra dog-walking during the day. But eventually people won't be able to meet their mortgages, and who knows what will happen then. There aren't so many McDonald's in town that they can absorb all of the mid-career laid-off workers.

This is a situation unlike any that I have faced at any other time in my life -- or that occured in my parents' lifetime either, for that matter. We are at the edge of a frightening precipice right now and need you to take this seriously and not play politics with it to the extent that you can avoid doing so. Tax cuts are not enough. There was no work for the cabinet shops to do -- before my husband was laid off, he was just cleaning the shop every day for weeks. Tax cuts alone will not bring back the work he was doing, at least not in the immediate future.

We need a stimulus that will provide money for jobs in new areas in which people like us can develop expertise -- the weatherizing and energy conservation-remodeling jobs, for instance, happen to be a very good match for the legions of currently unemployed Maine woodworkers -- and we need it now, so that we don't all lose our houses waiting for things to happen. Please support the stimulus bill so that we can try to get on with the business of responding to the new economic conditions.

Thank you for your consideration.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


As of today, more or less back to fine.

For a few days there, things were feeling like we were in a little boat heading up against the current, and then a storm came up. Nothing life-threatening, just wet and cold. Cold like water coming out of your ceiling in several rooms sequentially. And then your boat springs a leak. Again, the boat isn't going to sink, but you kind of have to keep bailing in order not to constantly be walking around in an inch of water. Or heavy, wet snow. Or vomit. Or sleeplessness due to toddlers who've had their routines disrupted. Okay, that last one overstretched the metaphor.

Anyway, we got a day off from any new minor crises today. Maybe things are turning around. At minimum, I got two hours of lying in bed in the middle of the day. When you're tired and feeling a little buffeted, there is nothing that beats lying in bed in the middle of the day with a cat on either side of you. Even when they start meowing loudly for no particular reason, or get into a fight right on top of you, or start neurotically and loudly licking a plastic bag because they've just been pushed off the bed by the other cat. Even then, lying in bed in the middle of the day feels like heaven.

Monday, January 26, 2009

please to stop with the minor annoyances

OK, if you're one of the people who's written about how you can't stand hearing about the drip drip drip of irritating events in our lives, this is a good place to stop.

Vomit. Copious amounts of it this morning. Poor, poor D, who never ever vomits. We believe it is just a bad combination of extremely fibrous orange, post-nasal drip, and too much milk drunk too quickly. At nursery school, though, we learned that there is apparently a nasty bug going about that involves considerable liquid drainage "from both ends," as it were, so we are all praying that it's not that. Because honestly, what you really don't want at a moment of health care transition (a.k.a., moving to the catastrophic-insurance-and-otherwise-out-of-pocket standard) is for someone to have a real sickness. Go fibrous orange and morning mucus! Go!

My sense of personal worry was put in some perspective this morning when I read about the heightening pace of evictions in Maine. It is so cold here right now. It's not like when we were in California and you could spend a few minutes outside without risking damage to any exposed flesh. We're landlords, not tenants; that puts us one step higher on the food chain that ends in the gaping, insatiable maw of the consolidated banking oligopoly. One fairly small step, but a step nonetheless. I think I'm going to see if there's any way I could volunteer for Pinetree Legal.

Okay, back to work.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

oh no!

Oh ceilings, why can't you just stay where you are above our heads? Is it really that much to ask?

To entertain ourselves while L scraped the leak-causing ice dam off the roof, D and I performed a dramatic reenactment of the water pouring out of our kitchen ceiling yesterday. One of the things we gave D for his second birthday was a giant cardboard box. (I know. Do we not come off as effete eastern liberals? Of course we do.) So the box is folded up at the top non-tape fashion, with all of the left-hand sides of the flaps tucked under all of the right-hand sides of the flaps, and this leaves a small hole in the middle. D passed me a handful of binkies and then went inside the box, where he yelled, "Through the roof! Binkies through the roof!" I pushed the binkies one by one through the hole in the top of the box and listened to them bonk off the top of his head and hit the inside of the box, the whole thing making D totally hysterical with laughter.

So, the day alternated between frustrating (no car, ceiling issue, construction zone in kitchen, D being two years old) and amusing (cat smushing, playing in tents, huge piles of snow and ice falling off the roof, D being two years old.) Probably a little more frustrating than amusing on the whole, but definitely within the bounds of toleration. Especially since L and I both drank two beers rather than our usual one. And I made shrimp pot-stickers, which D even ate.

Friday, January 23, 2009

blah blah blah

So, today was the first day of the rest of our lives. D went back to nursery school, which he had missed on Wednesday on account of the Hideously Timed Cold (the details of which I have mercifully spared you), L took the car in for inspection (a.k.a., the sad news about exactly how much we have to pay to get by with this car for another year), and I went to the library to set myself up in a decent writing spot.

The upshot: D had a good morning at school; we must pay a ludicrous amount to the Car Piper (and have also apparently cashed in some karma points -- carma points? Ahahahahahaha -- since a ball-joint is so rusted that we could have had a wheel fall off at any moment); and I found a good place on the 6th floor to write. It's under an excellent loud airvent that simulates the white noise simulator I often use while writing. While D took his nap part of our kitchen ceiling caved in, thanks to the ice dam that's built up on one of the lower eaves of our roof. L was somewhat distraught; I said, eh. We weren't really that keen on the decor here anyway.

For your weekend-starting pleasure, some more Sesame Street.