Sunday, October 30, 2011

One Tiny Tale and One Small Request

Bee hesitantly walked out onto the front porch this morning. Something did not seem right. She slowly approached the white stuff on the first step. Bent down to smell it. Stuck her tongue out to taste it. And instinctively tucked her butt and flew off the porch into an excited rampage of butt tucking. I don't know what it is about snow that does that to living things. I wonder if the birds wake up in their nests and flit around in a flurry of excitement on the morning of the first snow of the season. Like my children did this morning. Where are my gloves? Where are my snowpants? Where are my snowboots? I grumble- still in the crawl space.

It took a little more coaxing for Paul Bunyan to make his way out to the bath this morning.

Of course, he is approaching 40.

This mattress is meant for the dump. But I'd like to tell you a little story about it. Because it sits so forlornly this morning in the wet goop. Because I know you're dying to hear about this mattress. And I know you're also ready for a short story that has little to no significance.

This mattress was purchased by my Pop Pop, my father's father, in the year....well, I don't know.

Here is a picture of my Pop Pop holding my fat butt. My grandmother, who I never really knew because she died of lung cancer when I was in first grade, sits next to him. It looks like we're celebrating my fat brother's third birthday. He got himself a new view finder. And by the way, my parents still use that table as their kitchen table. And I'm pretty sure my dad, who you can barely see, still wears that plaid shirt.

Well, anyway to go back to the saga about the sat on a box spring that was custom made for this bed:

When my grandfather died in or around the year 2000, and I won't specifically specify whether or not he did or did not die on this mattress, Paul Bunyan and I lived in this house:

in a neighborhood right outside of the great city of Philadelphia. This house looked just like the one next to it, which looked just like the one across the street from it, which looked just like the one next to that one.

The heirloom bed was in our guest bedroom- the bedroom upstairs on the right. It's a double bed and so no one really slept in it because most of the very few guests who came to visit us stayed in our other guest room, which had a queen bed in it. Makes sense right?

The bed and mattress came with us to Richmond when we moved there in 2002. It sat there, too, in a second guest room. The only significant thing that happened to this bed and mattress while we lived in our dream house is that Sydney decided that she was going to curl up and die under it when she went into her second pancreatic attack on New Year's Eve 2003. Obviously she didn't die, but I was certain it was going to happen that night, like I've been certain the five or six times it's happened since.

In May of 2004 when we downsized and moved into our current Japanese pagoda the bed got shoved into the crawl space and the mattress and box spring got stowed vertically against the wall in the basement.

In October of 2007 I went ahead and drove over to the Crown Point bridge to meet a woman who was GIVING AWAY FREE KITTENS. I know, who does that, right? So I gots me two. Because they were free. And because my house was infested with mice. AND I HATE MICE.

awww. Sweet sweet kittens. Quarantined to the basement. Those rascals decided to make the very top of the mattress, which sat vertically against the wall, their sleeping spot. So the mattress, theoretically, became their gigantic scratching post because as they climbed to the top those very same claws that I needed to murder the mice that co-inhabited our house shredded the shit out of the mattress.

It was apparent that I wouldn't be using a) the mattress again, or b) the bed again. So I sold the heirloom antique bed that my Pop Pop may or may not have died in to an antique dealer in Massachusetts who specializes in wooden sleigh beds. It was a beautiful bed. Not practical. But beautiful.

I think we may have gotten $400 for it. Maybe $425.

Well, a few years ago, maybe 3, possibly 4, we hosted the first friends Thanksgiving. We've had them ever since (Mud and I switch off every other year) because sometimes a friends Thanksgivings is better than a family Thanksgiving. Just sayin'. Well, that first year we hosted I was trying to picture our Japanese pagoda swarming with children, who now at this point outnumbered adults. We needed a space for them to play, away from us. I asked Paul Bunyan to make us some monkey bars, to hang playground equipment from the rafters and to fasten the $50 punching bag I procured from Craigslist to the ceiling. We built a picket fence around the furnace, added a couch from my parent's house, and hooked up the t.v. we bought at Walmart when we first moved into an apartment together in Frisco, CO in the fall of 1997. I painted a hopscotch court on the cement floor and called it good.

And then Mud said, "hey, I'm gonna sue your ass if my kid falls off the monkey bars and cracks his skull open on the cement floor." And then I said, "hey, no problem. I'll just put this nasty mattress on the floor and they can fall on it, jump on it, or do whatever they want on it." And then Mud said, "fine, whateva."

So way back in the summer of 2011 I got myself a puppy. She's a good little dog. But she pees in the house every now and again as puppies are want to do. But so does my geriatric dog so we're just all living in one big Japanese pagoda of piss. Well, Bee decided that that great safety mattress was a perfect place to pee and poop. And well, frankly, it isn't. So it's going to the dump. Sad as it is, the custom made box spring is going too.

I don't like throwing things out.

And this whole saga has had me thinking about the mattress that I die on. Now, because Paul Bunyan's father taught us that we should buy nice shoes and mattresses (because you spend half your life on your feet and half your life on your back) we've done just that. We've gone through 2 mattress so far (none that have been just right). But now that we have the real (and not an impostor) Tempurpedic I know we'll have this one for the next 20 years. And so maybe we'll have one more and it'll be that one that I'll probably die on, unless (of course) I die in a car, plane, train, or tractor. But here is a request to my children, or grandchildren, if you are the ones to inherit my king size mattress and heirloom Pompanoosuc Mills bed: I hope the bed serves you well but at the end of the mattress' life please don't let a dog piss all over it. Here are a few options for things I'd love for you to do with it: a) cut it up and make 6 cozy dog beds. Have someone (or better yet you) sew covers for them and donate them to a shelter who has homeless dogs who could use them. b) cut the foam up into tiny pieces and donate them to the nearest foam pit- most likely your nearest gymnastics gym, or possibly a ski jumping training facility. c) make wooden living room furniture and cut the mattress up to use as cushions for the couch and/or arm chairs. d) make some sort of art out of it. e) be creative and come up with some way to use it as a butt cushion for young kids who are learning how to ice skate. f) find a way to turn it into fuel for your car (of course, you'll probably all have electric solar powered cars). or g) come up with your own creative idea.

Just don't send it to a landfill.


Thank you.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The New Cavernous Ravine

The trees are turning on their vacant signs. Things are falling to the ground all around me. My children's teeth included. We're talking in lisps here so we can understand each other- that or the boys sign to me. A quick decisive cutting with the fingers to imply that they would like me to cut their apples up because they can't bite into them. It's all new. Last year they were doing this at soccer:

This year:

We're making great strides.

In completely other news I am now her:

It's been hard for me to get my head around this new title. I've never transitioned into the nanny role for a doula family before. I think I like it but mostly I'm just missing being home. Missing being with Bee. Missing being with me. But mostly, mostly missing being with Paul.

Because when you peel back the banana peel it looks a little something like this:

Monday I'm there and Monday he's here and Monday night he's going to go there starting tomorrow and Tuesdays I'm there and he's sometimes here but every other Tuesday he's here. Wednesday I'm there and he's here but Wednesday night I go here. Thursdays I'm there and then he goes here. Fridays I go here in the morning and he's here except every other Friday when he's here. He's here every other Saturday and Sunday too, but I'm here every other Sunday night when he's here.

So it's every other Tuesday evening, every other Friday afternoon , and every other Saturday and Sunday we get to look at each other. That's it. And when you break it down like that it seems less than it already seems. Like a cookie split into quarters when one cookie wasn't nearly enough to begin with. And that cookie was a perfectly warm ooey gooey chocolate chip, right out of the oven. Definitely not something you want to nibble.

And our relationship has become a dialogue in notes scribbled on scrap paper left on the counter. "Going here then, picking this up there, don't forget to get that there." I mumble something when he rolls into bed at 2 about please checking on chickens. I knew I would forget to write it on paper in the scramble we call getting everyone out the door in the morning.

And at lunch dates every other Friday, between bites and reconfiguring orthodontic appointments and hip hop classes, we talk about how we might work together in the woods someday, or breed hairy pigs, or possibly grow potatoes to distill into vodka. How can we see each other's faces more than a handful of hours every week? How can we be more than notes scribbled on paper? More than "I miss you" at 2 a.m.?

Not too many couples can work together day to day. And I'm not sure we could. But I know this. I know that when he goes that way and I go this way the ravine in the middle seems really cavernous. And I also know that it's only when we work side by side that I feel like there is no ravine. And that even if perchance it feels like there is one, it's really easy to cross because Paul Bunyan has built this really cool zip-line from one side to the other.

I miss you Paul.

I know we'll meet again,

Tuesday, October 4, 2011