23 June 2009

The In-laws

Next weekend is going to be interesting. One of T’s cousins is pregnant and a big baby shower is planned for Saturday. I hate baby showers. And bridal showers. I hate those stupid games. And I especially hate showers without booze. If I am forced to attend, there really ought to be some liquid compensation for the pain and suffering.

So, T’s mom is hosting the event. Now, I gotta say, I love her mom. She is funny! And loud. And when she gets drinking she is a hoot. The first time I met Grace was at the niece’s 13th birthday party. The kids were having snacks and drinks in the family room and the adults were in the dining room having beers. The birthday girl came in and asked if they could have more punch. T’s sister looked at her mom and said incredulously, “Are you letting them drink punch in the family room?!” Her mom said, “What do I care if they spill? Cubby shits in there!” (Cubby being the dog, thankfully.) I nearly spit out the beer I was drinking. I love that ornery woman! And, since she is hosting the event, there will be alcohol.

As the weeks have unfurled, the baby shower has turned into a family reunion. Apparently relatives are coming from all over. Even old GreatAunt Whatever is flying in from Houston, for crying out loud! T hasn’t seen her since she was a teenager and T is pushing 50. I asked if the old aunt knew T was gay… she said, “Well, she will by the end of the party.” T has a lesbian cousin who lives about 4 or 5 hours away. So far she isn’t coming but she might have her arm twisted to make an appearance. I’d actually like that. A safety in numbers kind of feeling. But, if we are the only deviants there, so be it. T’s immediate family adore her and are pretty darn fond of me so I’m not worried about that.

We have to show up early to help with some of the set up. T will probably be roped into barbequing. I volunteered to keep the coolers stocked up with beer and pop. Actually, whatever Grace wants me to do, I will do. Better to stay busy at these things than sitting around looking like you want to talk to people.

I’m not sure how long we’ll have to stay. I’m hoping we can bug out fairly early ~ the Roller Derby semifinals are Saturday night and really, I’d rather go watch that.

About sinks....

I’m taking a page from Weese’s book ~ a post about cleaning.

First, in the interest of full disclosure, I am not a neatnik. We don’t live in squalor, but we can tolerate a fairly high level of disorder and dust. That being said, there are certain things that I can’t stand to have dirty. One of them is the sink.

The sink is surely the easiest thing to clean. I can never understand how people have dirty sinks. The water comes in and goes out right there… you don’t have to carry water to it, or go get fresh rinse water, or be bothered with buckets, or anything! All it takes is a sponge, some product and a little bit of rubbing. How easy is that!?

Our dishwasher broke down a couple of weeks ago, so I have been spending more quality time at the sink. After I wash the dishes (glasses, mugs, bowls, plates, silverware, pots and pans, in that order) I always scour the sink. Always. It is so easy! Your hands are already wet, the sponge is at the ready, just reach down under the sink, grab the Ajax (or cleaner of choice) sprinkle freely and start rubbing. Then a thorough rinse and voila! Shiny, clean, sanitary sink. Don’t forget the stopper and the drain area!

I house-sat for some friends once and while their house was clean, their sink was stained and nasty. The first thing I did was scrub it out. The product they used didn’t take all the stains out so I used a little bleach. Which, by the way, is good for cleaning the sponge anyway. When they got home they exclaimed over how clean the sink was. Yes, exclaimed! Asked me how I performed this miraculous transformation. I told the truth ~ scoured it and used a little bleach.

One last thing: I switched from Comet to Ajax about 25 years ago. We moved into a little rundown house and the people who were vacating were not yet completely out. I was out of Comet and when I went to the little corner store all they had was Ajax. I cleaned the sink (one of the first things I do in a new house) and it took out all of the stains. When the gal who was moving noticed the sink she asked what I used because she had been trying to get one particular stain out for a long time and she always used Comet. There you have it. My unsolicited testimonial for Ajax.

If you find cleaning or writing about cleaning boring or odious ~ my apologies. I’ll think of something more interesting next time.

22 June 2009

Money vs House vs Happiness

The love of money may be a root of evil, but lack of money causes problems too.

T lost her construction job last summer ~ along with hundreds of thousands of other people in the building trades. She has had a couple of crappy maintenance jobs since then that pay, on average, a bit less than half of what she used to make. She has been picking up side work when she can to keep some money coming in but it isn’t steady enough to count on.

This has two primary effects and many secondary effects. First, of course, is paying the bills. I can carry all the bills for the household and make my house payment. She has rented her house but the rent is not equal to the mortgage and she needs about $500 a month to make up the difference. This means that neither of us is saving any money which, at our age, is problematical.

The second primary effect is on T’s state of mind. Not contributing to the household, not having money in her wallet, not “taking care” of me; these things weigh heavy on her. In all of her previous relationships, she was the primary earner, the one with the house, the one who paid for things, the daddy. She was also, maybe not coincidentally, always older than her partners – at least by a few years.

Now, everything is upside down. We are the same age – in fact, I am a few months older. We made roughly the same amount of money before she lost her job and split the bills equally. We used to trade off paying when we went out to eat. The first time I paid the bill she was a little shocked – she’d never been with someone who simply assumed that it was fair to share in the cost. But, that was before she was laid off. Now I pay almost all of the time. And, it kills her. I can see a little part of her self-image erode every time. I feel bad about that, but not bad enough to give up eating out occasionally.

And the household expenses – she can’t pay every other month like she used to. So, instead, she has embarked on some fabulous home repair projects. My house is old and has suffered through some decades of neglect. The house and the yard, for that matter. When she moved in the yard looked more like a jungle than a small city lot. She has completely transformed the yard and together we built a wonderful deck. She has replaced light fixtures, patched drywall, tiled a vanity, painted, powerwashed, installed a gas fireplace, replaced faucets, rehung doors, and on and on… All of which is wonderful, and believe me I am grateful, there’s just one catch. A lot of those things take money. Which puts us right back to square one.

I generally keep a household maintenance and improvement fund. I put my tax return money in there and contribute a little extra to it when I can. It had grown to a couple thousand when T moved in (since I hadn’t done anything to maintain the house). We have used it up on worthwhile projects like the deck. And all those other things. I don’t regret that one bit because the house is in better shape and we are reaping the benefit by living there. And, T feels good about contributing, which makes her a little bit happier.

The issue at hand, though, is the latest project. A sunroom. With a hot tub. Oh, yes, that will be wonderful, and we will get lots of use out of it, and it will increase the value of the house and, and, and… But, it’s not free to build a sunroom. I had some of the windows from a different project, and we bought the doors at the local low cost, recycled building materials place so we didn’t pay tons of money for them. But there is lumber, tile, electrical, roofing, plumbing, etc, to pay for and we have gone through all of the building fund. She is waiting for some money back from her federal taxes, but mine is spent. I paid for half of the hot tub out of my checking account and I am looking towards Friday anxiously.

I don’t like worrying about money. And, I don’t like my partner to feel unhappy over money. But, she is happiest when she is building or repairing something and feeling like she is contributing. I’m not sure how we’ll continue paying for everything we need to complete this project, probably end up putting some of it on credit cards. Sigh.

I know the economy will turn around one of these days. I know that T will get a good, well-paid job again. I’m holding the good thought about all of that. It’s just getting through this rough patch that is so difficult right now. Difficult and expensive. I may end up broke, but the house will be in great shape!

12 June 2009


Gay Pride is this weekend in Portland. Yay! Well, it's already begun but the big stuff is this weekend.

I was looking for various gay-themed paraphernalia at the store yesterday ~ decided that I didn't have enough rainbows in my wardrobe. My best finds were in the cheap jewelry aisle and girls accessories. Rainbows and unicorns aplenty! Of course, Tess isn't going to wear anything like that. I did find an awesome t-shirt for her in the men's clothing section. It's an Oregon State University t-shirt that loudly proclaims, "BEAVER PRIDE". That will be perfect for the Dyke March!

Happy Pride, everyone! Go get your gay on!

02 June 2009

Not this tree

Perhaps I’m overreacting, but I am incensed at my neighbors for the murder of a beautiful cottonwood tree. Incensed and devastated.

This tree provided shade to several of our yards – mine will now resemble the burning Sahara on summer afternoons – and homes to birds and squirrels. Its long, graceful limbs swayed with the breezes blowing out of the Gorge; its leaves fluttering at the slightest stir.

I’ve spent many hours watching the play of light and wind on this tree. I arranged my bedroom furniture solely to view this particular tree. I’ve written poems about and to this tree. It has given me peace of mind when I was overwhelmed by life. Sitting quietly and watching it move in the wind has been a way for me to quiet my overactive mind and regain my center.

I lost a friend yesterday.

Cottonwoods across the canyon
Beckon with graceful arms
A current of air stirs
Fluttering, their leaves twist and turn
Green and white
Green and white
Silvery and green and white
Like a reflection of a tree
Within a swift moving stream

Big sigh...


I rarely get migraines but I’ve had two in two weeks. I can’t figure out why or what’s triggering them.

DO. NOT. WANT!!!1!