Thursday, October 24, 2013

Vacation at the beach

The vacation rental house. It was pretty decent. Furnishings were definitely
chosen to be used by strangers. LOL.
I've been quiet because I've been preoccupied. We've been off for a week to the Long Beach peninsula in Washington.  It was a family reunion of sorts. There was a brief period when pretty much all members of my direct family were together in one place. A rare one indeed.  My eldest sister and her husband showed up on Thursday afternoon, I finally was introduced to her husband, and then that night, my eldest brother of 57 showed up with his wife, whom I'd only met once back in 1997.  Friday morning, my husband and I packed up the car with the kids and the dogs, hubby took his motorcyle, and I filled the only remaining space in the Prius with Satan... err... Mom. Yes, she's Satan again. Not surprised, but we'll get to it.

We took off after breakfast at the Kennedy School where my sister and brother stayed the night, and headed out to follow the Columbia River to Astoria, where we crossed the long bridge into Washington State.  We rented a decent little house on the beach (it was a longish walk through dunes to get to the water, but it was still right there.  Later on that night, my sister Helen and her husband showed up. The goodwill lasted for a bit, but invariably, there was drama. Almost all, naturally, prompted by my mother, who now had the audience she needed in order to exercise her passive aggressive nastiness with alacrity.  Of course, that sent hackles up everywhere, and soon enough, there was sniping among the siblings.

Flower poses for the camera.

Dan and Simon play. Flower looks on.

Dan's birthday and our anniversary fell into this week.  We celebrated both there. Her husband's birthday was also on our anniversary. So we made a cake. A cake wreck. My sister broke it trying to get it out of the pan, so she hid it beneath a layer of icing, which she applied to the hot cake, so it became crumby icing. It still tasted good and we all had a good laugh.

All the activity knocked our little girl out. She
catches a sun-ray.

The tetherball in the yard was all Simon needed to be
My brother didn't stay long. He left Sunday night with his wife, Helen's husband driving them back to Portland, since he had to work on Monday. Helen didn't last longer than the night, and left the next day, leaving only myself, my husband, my sister Anna, her husband, Baby J, and Satan, who was a snarly bitch, but not quite as bad when the better part of her audience left.

Alex channels a certain German dictator.

The runny nose and the sand... not a great combination.
It was like the sand was enameled to his skin.

As expected at the beach, Simon digs.

He didn't know what to make of the sand at first. But he liked it,
and thought it tasted good too, apparently.
In spite of all the crap, we still managed to have a good time. Alex was meeting his auntie Anna and uncle Bryan for the first time, and they were both so wonderful with him. Anna didn't seem to expect to adore him as much, being kind of anti-human-baby.  But I think the genetic connection was too strong for her to be aloof, and she fell deeply in love with her nephew as I knew she would. It's kind of sad she had to wait almost a year to meet him.

The beach marker, indicating where the path to the house was.

Misty morning. You can't see the water.

Grandma offers a smooch for her grandson.

So after they came our way after the beach to stay at the Timberline Lodge for a couple of days, we parted with sadness.  I love my sister very much, and her husband Bryan is just the nicest guy ever.  I wish we lived closer so Alex could spend more time with them.

Sister Anna and her husband.

Anita is letting Alex have a snack on her lap.

There were some EPIC mushrooms in he little conifer
copse between the house and the beach. Boletus and

As it goes with vacations, it's hard to go back to routine. For the first time since i can remember, I sat down to hand sew a gown during the vacation week, during the day and didn't have to worry what Alex is up to, because there were up to eight other adults around watching him. It was luxurious.  Alex cut his top two teeth during the vacation week.  That marks four, he has his chipmunk teeth as they call them. He is so close to walking now. He is Mr. Bruise though, from all his bumps and tumbles. He explores everything, and unless I'm helicoptering over him 24/7, there is no way to catch him every time he falls.  He had a bruise on his cheek that finally just went away that made me feel like the worst mother ever.

Uncle Bryan visits with his country cousin.

Admiring Mount Hood.
So now I'm working on a project, and a gown for myself for an upcoming event for the ORS. I'm squeezing it in as I always do, between when Alex goes to bed and morning. LOL.   Anyway, that's what we've been up to over here at Johanesen Cottage.  I'll update in a bit. I made the round-gown version of the bib-front from my pattern for a photo-project. I'll post pictures of it when the project is done.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Of a room and of rain.

It's been a tough couple of weeks. But I have hermited up lately. And as if timed to perfection, the Oregon liquid autumn has arrived, and has begun with bravado, bringing record rainfall to many areas of the state. When it is raining, I am happy (as long as I'm not in it).  Mom/Satan is on the mend, but she isn't quite the same, truth be told.  She is, for a lack of a better word... kooky.  She had a ministroke in the hospital, and nearly died for it. And I think there was some damage there, because her brain just isn't quite right. Correction, her brain was never quite right, but now it's just wrong--er.  For example, she had the nurse at the rehab facility call me tonight to make sure I gave my sister directions to the facility to come and get her, for she was certain Anna was going to do so tomorrow. I had to explain to her that this was incorrect, and when I called her 'confused'... well, she got mad and pretty much hung up on me.

The Old Man's Beard is going crazy in this rain. Some strands are fifteen,
twenty feet long.
Oy, mom.  Anyway, I saw her today, brought the baby to see her.  When I walked in, she was lying on her side facing the room, fast asleep. She had her head cradled on her hands, which were put together like those creepy disembodied prayer hands you see on Christian stuff.  She looked so frail and wasted.  Alex was quite vocal, and eventually she stirred, reacting to his voice with immediate happiness, waking with a smile.  When Anita and Istvan came to visit, she actually ignored them when they walked in, and put out her arms for the baby.  It gives me some measure of happiness to know that someone who is incapable of joy, someone who cannot love without conditions, and who had no qualms as a mother taking away that love for whatever reason, can find such simple happiness in the existence of my beautiful son. For that, no matter how she feels about me, and no matter how I feel about her, I have to love her for loving him.  She insisted on having lunch in the lunchroom today, so 'everyone can see the baby'. So we did.

Sedums are having a final hurrah before
the real cold sets in.
It is pretty evident Mom is on the downward spiral. Friday, I will bring her back to the assisted living facility where she was when all this began.  I can only imagine things will repeat themselves. I'm hoping they won't until the middle of this month. We have rented a large house at Long Beach, Washington and will be gathering there as a family.  It will be a chance for her to be surrounded by all her kids and stepson, good rangers and bad rangers alike.  And Alex.

But I'm helping, Mama.
I digress... As you know, if you follow this erratic blog of mine, Alex's room has been an ongoing project for many months. The room's history is this: It is the only other bedroom-like space in the house besides ours. It is very small. It wasn't heated, and two weeks before I discovered I was pregnant, I had terraformed the catch-all room into the PERFECT sewing room.  ::Bwaaahbwaaahbwaaah:::  The plan was to start on the room immediately, but we really didn't actually start on it until Alex was about three months old.  We'd emptied it out, but there was the whole heating problem.  But that was solved when we finally managed to secure an electrician that wasn't a flake or too self-important to get out of bed for a job of <$1,000. They came in and installed two cadet heaters, one in our bedroom, and one in Alex's.  Once that happened, it was open season.

I started by painting it.  I used very light values of the blue and yellow in my sister's pony painting, and painted one wall a pale blue, and the rest a buttery yellow. I then painted the birch forest on it. This painting is by no means finished. I will, at some point, at least hopefully before Alex's teens, add some forest creatures to the branches. A Steller's Jay, a chipmunk, a raven, etc.    So here comes the glut of photos. My sister asked me to do some graphic art for her and she paid me with a new camera. I was having some fun.

This is called the 'Book Nook', an homage
to my fifth grade teacher who had such
a space in her classroom. There aren't many
books yet. But we'll get there.

The chair is a twin sleeper. It fits pretty
nicely in the bay window.

The window is new. It used to be a narrow,
salvaged single pane leaky thing. But a few
weekends ago, my husband and his 'work wife'
installed the window while I dealt with mom issues.
 The room is infinitely warmer now. And it's more... sealed feeling. I know, sounds stupid, but when you have a rickety thing replaced by a nice large, bright, well sealed replacement, it changed the whole feel of the room.  Interestingly, Dan got the window for free on a community list. It was a salvage that included other large windows we will use in his garage when we eventually close that in.

IKEA is the source for almost everything
in this room. The furniture, the linens,
many of the toys, the lighting, the rugs... you just can't
beat IKEA.
My sister Anna sent Alex the rocking dolphin.
He has a large rolling drawer toybox there under the
window. It hugs up against his little closet unit.

There is a little bit of wood trim on the high-rail
and the baseboard that have yet to be painted.
I won't do that until the cabinets are moved
and I can finish it up. Maximilian the Bear hunkers
in the corner, waiting for Alex to cuddle up on his broad belly.

We took out the crappy beige carpeting I seem to find in almost
every house I've ever lived in, and replaced it with vinyl plank.
It's 100% waterproof for one. Although it does scratch rather easily.

Alex enjoys his play cube. Another auntie gift.

I ADORE these curtains.
I got a single panel originally for the bathroom before I got pregnant, but decided I wanted them for the baby's room when I found out.  By then, my source had stopped carrying them, and I had to hunt them down. They weren't cheap either. They also weren't long enough. Five inches short. So I went to the fabric store, found a leafy white-on white cotton, and added five inches to the bottom.

The stars are from IKEA and they change colour.
There is also a moon-shaped light in the book nook,
to illuminate bedtime stories.

Baby J is comfortable in his little space.

He is a master at hiding little bits and bobs all over his room. Drives me crazy
when I'm trying to reassemble his toys and clean his room.

He demonstrates the best use for dowels.
First you chew them, then you direct
air traffic with them.

*Sparkle*Sparkle* -- they help hide the shittiest wallboard job I've ever
seen in all my life. Someday, we will gut this room and redo it properly.

The Book Nook's modest beginning.
There are a few more books that
have yet to be gathered and added. But hopefully
as time goes on, those shelves will be crammed.

This is the 'Crew'. The Monkey boys, and the basket of costumed teddies, and Angus,
who's toppled over, the plaid bunny, a gift from a friend from Scotland.

I put the stacker high because if I don't, I'll be hunting for its components for hours.
He hides them EVERYWHERE in impossible places!

The door. My sister's first painting for Alex.

From the book nook. Soon, the changing
table will be replaced with a little desk and chair.

Such concentration.

The mess begins.

Alex gets into EVERYTHING already.

This duck is from Great Grandma Georgia's house.

I've had these Beatrix Potter books for at least twenty years.  They
were purchased for this reason. Somewhere, there is a copy of the Velveteen
Rabbit too, that will be added. They mattered to me, so I want them
to matter to him too.

Possibly the best toy in the universe.

Alex concurs.

The overall 'theme' is the forest, of course. It is where we live, after all. The forest floor is the rug, the trees on the wall, the light is the sky, the ceiling a constellation, the book nook, the night.  I love his room. So does Papa J.  We think he will grow up loving it too. We hope so anyway. :)


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