Thursday, April 19, 2007

An Amazing Day

I just need to document this day. This amazing day. Right now my heart feels lighter and I feel an optimism and a joy that I haven’t experienced in a good long while. So long, in fact, that they feel kind of strange to me. Almost like trying on clothes at the Bins (where clothes are brought to "display" with a backhoe and you buy them by the pound) where you just found this cool blouse but, good Lord, you don’t even want to know where its been. You look great in it, but, hmmmm... That kind of strange.

So, yes, optimism and joy. And why, pray tell, would I be feeling this way? Well, a couple of reasons...

After waiting two long weeks (well, six months actually), we finally received our first check to rebuild our home. I think I mentioned before that our (almost thoroughly incompetent) mortgage company originally mailed the check to our charred wreckage of a home back in the States. Whatever. And then it took them for-fekkin’-ever to get their act together to then send the check to us over here. Meanwhile, our contractor can’t start because, well, it takes a lot of money to rebuild a house. But today, oh blessed of days, the check arrived.

We live behind a locked gate so it’s always a hassle when packages come. They’ll ring when they get to the gate and you have to go up and meet them. If it’s an important package I’ll usually stay at home to wait for it but, really, how lame is that? Now this would, indeed, qualify as a very important package, but I had my first piano lesson in a while (and I had actually been practicing) so I didn’t want to miss it. ANYhoo....I’m sitting at the piano at my teacher’s house, a few minutes away from my house, and the mobile rings. The conversation goes something like this...

Me: "Hello."
FedEx Guy: "Ehh...FedEx here."
Me: "Great! Where’re ya at?"
FedEx Guy: "The gate."
Me: "Ok, Ok (panicking)....I’ll be there in.....12 minutes!"
FedEx Guy: "...and I’ll be gone."
Me: "Gah!!! But I desperately need the package that you have for me (I’m now packing up my lesson supplies and running out the door)...please...can you wait just a few minutes...I’ll be right there."
FedEx Guy: ".....nah....I’m fekkin’ lajughehsghegfrsedj....."(something in a really strong Irish accent)
Me: "Pardon?"
FedEx Guy: "...yea...I’m up to me neck. I can’t wait for ye."
Me: "Then tell me where ye'll be...I’ll come to ye...I’ll meet ye in fekkin’ Dublin if I have to...."

And, amazingly, we worked it out. We did the deal in a parking lot. I picked up Floyd at work, we met “your man” in the parking lot, we signed the check, then we packaged it back up in another FedEx envelope and sent it back over the water to our bank back home. Efficient eh? Now we only have another, ohhhh, I’d say 6 or 7 checks to do that with before we’re finished rebuilding the house. My nerves should be pretty well toasted by then. But today I am happy. It’s been almost six months since the fire and today...we can start to put her back together again.

And if that wasn’t good enough....

I’ve been kind of freaking out about this whole adoption thing. Oh yea...remember that? We’re adopting a wee one from China. Well, I don’t talk about it that much these days because there just hasn’t been a lot of good news on that front. The wait just seems to get longer and longer and the process seems to be getting less and less reliable. It’s like if you’re at the grocery store and you’re ready to check-out (and, no, I’m not comparing our future child to a head of lettuce....don’t be silly) and you survey the lines at the check stands....hmmmm....and you pick one. And you’re standin’ in it...and you realize that it’s not moving very quickly. In fact, the other lines seem to be moving much faster. And, hey! Those people got in line after you and now they’re walking out with their groceries!....and you’re still in line. And then you look ahead in your line to see the checker and the customer arguing...the checker isn’t happy with the customer...the customer starts to beg and plead...he’s sobbing...but the checker gruffly sends him away.....without his groceries. God. How devastating. It must suck to be that guy. But, wait. The checker might not like you either. What if he yells at you and sends you home without your groceries? And as you continue standing in line, you watch other people go through their lines....much faster....and go walking out with their lovely bags of groceries. But you can’t move because you’re afraid. You're scared stiff actually. You've never wanted anything more than this bag of groceries and you're desperate. You’re afraid that if you jump lines then maybe everybody’ll jump lines and you’ll be too slow and you’ll wind up in the back of the line again....or maybe that checker will go on break and then that line’ll slow down too. Aarrrggghhhh! So you stay in the line that you’re in....and hope for the best.

Get the picture?

So I called a representative of our agency today and I was talking to her about their different programs (AKA the other lines) and we were discussing the wait times for those programs, etc. and she said something to the effect of, “...well, from a timing perspective, you wouldn’t want to switch into that program because you’ll be getting your referral from China in about six months...” Wuh? Could you repeat that please? Six months? At first I thought she was delusional. We’ve been hearing (from unofficial sources of course) that our wait could be two years and over, which would put our referral at least another year out. And she’s telling me 6 months? So I questioned her. And I questioned her some more. This woman has always been, in my eyes, a very honest and reliable source of information on International Adoption. Always. But six months? She indicated that, because of the new regulations going into place in May, the referral process would speed up significantly and that the wait times would not exceed 18 months. Hm. So I’m thinking....and I’m thinking...

You see, there are a lot of things about this that just don’t make sense, but talking about them would detract from my amazing day and I'm just not going to do that. Suffice it to say, a lot of things, indeed. But, you know what? I want to believe her. I really really REALLY want to believe her. I desperately want to believe her. So, you know what? I’m going to believe her. So, please, don’t rain on my parade. And DON’T shackle my high. Because, today, it feels like we’ll be meeting our little Thor before the winter solstice!!!!

So, shush, just give me this one, amazing, day...please....

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Top Five Fave....Home

We’re not really sure where home is these days, but Floyd once said, “Home is where the Jezebel is”, and since the little princess herself is napping on her blanket about 5 feet away from me, I guess I’m home. Being home is a little unusual for us as of late. We’ve been traveling almost constantly for the last several months. We’ve seen some beautiful places, some not so beautiful places, and some very very ugly places. We’ve seen a lot actually...and I’m plum tired. I feel like I been rode hard and put away wet. I wouldn’t mind never getting on another plane ever again (except for the one that’s going to take us back to Portland for ever and ever).

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. I love to travel and these past months have been such a huge gift. As a little kid growing up making dirt pies, I wouldn’t have...actually, make that couldn’t have, imagined seeing all of these places. I feel blessed in such a big way. But I think it is possible to have too much of a good thing. We were traveling so much there that I would wake up and not know where I was. I would get on a plane and forget where we were going. And we’re not talking pharmaceuticals here. This is just life moving a little too fast. So I’m loving home right now. Loving and adoring it actually. Here’s a few reasons why.

1. Sittin’ on the couch: This couch is a central part of our lives. It’s purple. It’s velvet. It’s ripped. Some might call it shabby chic...we call it a piece of shit. But it’s the couch and we use it man. We use it and abuse it. I’m sitting on it right now in a position that I’m in so often it should be on my headstone. Propped up, legs extending down the couch, feet on the cushions, with a laptop on my lap... “May God Have Mercy on Her Soul”. In the evenings, after we’ve had our dinner and Jezebel has come in from her sunset stroll, we all congregate on the couch, the whole pride. And this is what it can look like. Infinite happiness.

2. Making the house happen: Ahhh...the house. We haven’t actually started the restoration yet. I know I know. Let me just give you a little snippet...our mortgage company actually sent our first check to our house in Portland. Yes, the one that’s blackened like Louisiana catfish. Yes. After we told them MANY Many many times not to do that, we got an e-mail from our neighbor telling us that the Fed Ex guy had been trying to deliver it for days. So sad. We’re still waiting for that check. And while we wait....nothing gets done. But I tell you what! She’s going to be absolutely gorgeous when we’re (they’re) done with her. I think I’ll be starting another blog about that one so you’ll be in the loop. It should be a fun process once it actually gets started (yes, I am delusional). So, even though the house looks pretty much the same as it did a few months ago (except for a new roof...yea!) we’ve been bustin’ our humps. Counting beans basically. Moving beans from one pile to another and trying to find more beans. Beans anyone?

3. Cooking: The first night we were home and on our own, I roasted a chicken, an organic chicken, which, over here, cost me 18.50 euros or $25. It was a small chicken. Needless to say, don’t eff up the chicken. Fortunately, I chose a recipe from The New Basics Cookbook, which I love and has never failed me. The recipe is called “Chicken with garlic, lemon, and rosemary” and it was, seriously, the best chicken I’ve ever had in my life. It wasn’t me. I would never take credit for it. It was the recipe. A hands-down winner. We’ve eaten some pretty wonderful food while traveling as well but we don’t splurge on expensive meals but we tend to eat pretty rich, fatty (but cheap) stuff when we travel (hello...). So we just have more control over what we eat when we’re at home. I (mostly) don’t work and I consider cooking part of my job over here. It’s a job I appreciate and enjoy (who is this woman?). I’ve gone from fearing the kitchen to being pretty darn comfortable in the kitchen...and that’s just cool.

Have you seen our kitchen over here? We call it the “one butt kitchen” for pretty obvious reasons. It makes us really look forward to the kitchen we’ll have when we go home.

Oh, and here are the rhubarb pies we made over the weekend, with the rhubarb from the garden. Two pies, two people....coincidence? I don’t think so.

4. Me Time: I have loads of me-time when we’re sans guests at home. It’s everything that happens between the housework, cooking, restoration planning and errands. I read, I write, I exercise, I try to practice the piano, and not enough of any of those things. Stuff like that. I don’t feel guilty about it at all really. Ok, maybe a little. But I know what my life has been like up till now and I’ve got a pretty good idea of what it’s going to be like when we get back. And it sure as hell doesn’t resemble this. So I’ll wallow in it for now...thankyouverymuch.

5. Playing on the farm: Babies, babies everywhere! Who doesn't love the baby farm animals? We got the baby lambs in early March and then we just got two new foals a few weeks ago. They’re so much fun to watch. They "boing". One second they'll be lazing around and then all of a sudden...boing...up in the air. It's the damndest thing. The weather has been uncharacteristically “springy” and the days have been quite fresh and dry. We take walks down to the river..well, not quite to the river because the mean bullocks stand between us and river...but we get almost to the river before we have to run away from them. The farm is just really beautiful this time of year and this little slice of heaven is pretty tough to top.

Oh, big news! We finally got the hedgehog on film. He’s a funny one alright! He ambled into our backyard one evening and snooted around for a bit, keeping his nose buried in the grass. The epitomy of “rootin’ around”. They make kind of a quiet grunting noise...the kind of a noise you would make if you were rooting around I suppose. Because his nose was firmly lodged in the detritus, he didn’t smell my foul humanness so I was able to get quite close....loving the hedgehog. When he finally did smell me (ewww...can’t eat that!) he lifted up on his startlingly longish legs, and waddled off...rapidly.

So that’s what we’re doing while we’re at home and we’ve got the place to ourselves. We’re off to Belgium this weekend for a bike race and then we’ve got the folks here after that. We’ll be taking Floyd’s folks to Spain (Barcelona and Girona) and we’re taking my folks to Rome...not to mention the random Irish ramblings as well. Now that we’ve had this time for rejuvenation, we’re really looking forward to it all.

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