Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Great Pillow Caper

So I know that none of you have this problem, but here's the thing. While I was thrilled to host the husband's sister for part of the Thanksgiving holiday, it did mean that I finally had to face my dark nemesis, the back bedroom (cue scary music). Do you do this? I had fallen into the trap of feeling like, hey! It's a room that rarely gets used for actual sleeping -- so I'll just shove these few things in there until I can get to a more thorough housecleaning later. And do you think I have ever embraced the notion of a thorough housecleaning? Please.

People, I cannot tell you how awful it was without humiliating myself. And have mercy, but I took no pictures for the same reason. Let's just say I found crap I had been missing for months. Oh, who am I kidding? Years.

Well! The girl urchins and I went on the attack! I was so happy to have them on my team -- when you're facing such a fierce foe it's a powerful thing to have daughters who have your back. And at the end of our labors, the room was so sparkling clean that I rewarded myself (and my future guests) with a pretty new comforter and pillow shams. Aren't they cute?

My west coast guest left Friday morning, but I looked forward to seeing my sister and her urchins on Saturday night -- they were getting the soldier back to West Point (he loves it and rocks at being a cadet -- thanks for asking!). And I had a pretty room to offer her, too! Win!

But here's the thing: the tall boy casually mentioned on Friday that he had invited his bestie (also in town from the west coast) to "come over and hang," and that he would probably spend the night. Fabulous! we love the bestie -- he's charming and funny (obsessed with that rocket, as you'll recall), and he promised to play the piano for us, because -- talented? You don't even know.

Well. I have no idea what kind of capers and shenanigans they got up to (actually I do have a pretty good idea . . . ), but the next morning they inhaled platters -- platters -- of ham and biscuits. The bestie (a fraternity man, don't you know?) charmed us all, drinking coffee and talking cars with the husband while wearing khakis and a blue blazer. At breakfast, y'all. As I hugged him good-bye I couldn't help thinking, literally: What a nice boy.

But then I went downstairs to get the pretty little bedroom ready for my sister. I was so excited because I knew my sister would be so proud of me -- she had actually seen it at its worst, so I was happy that she would get to see it at its best. And to my horror, I discovered that one of my new pillow shams was . . . gulp . . . missing! (Do you hear the Psycho violins?? I did!)

I sweetly asked the tall boy if he had mistakenly put my brand new pillow somewhere else. "What pillow?" he said to me.

"What pillow??"

People, this is a verbatim record of my response (and my urchins' reaction):

"You get that dumbass Peter on the phone this instant and you tell him he needs to fork over my pillow right now!"

Gales of hysterical laughter from all three of the urchins.

"I'm not kidding, tall boy. You and that dumbass Peter have two options. Come up with my pillow, or buy me a new one! And it came as part of a set, knucklehead, so get your money! "

Shrieks of laughter. Urchins weeping and clutching their sides as they laugh and laugh and laugh.

"And I swear, if that dumbass Peter is already on an airplane back to school I'll follow him myself to get my pillow back. I'm not kidding, tall boy!"

At this point the sunny girl had an asthma attack, she was laughing so hard. My sympathy was not aroused.

Then I stomped off to my car, to go Christmas shopping. I was in quite the festive mood, as you can see.

And then the tall boy came running out, wetting himself with giddy laughter, carrying . . . my pillow! "Where did that dumbass Peter hide it?" I asked wearily. "In the file cabinet!" The tall boy could barely get it out.

In the file cabinet. Of course.

Monday, November 29, 2010

And the best news is November is almost over!

So we had a lovely Thanksgiving this year -- as we always do. I'm telling you, there is something about a table decorated with pretties that have special meaning, filled to the point of collapse with comfort food, and surrounded by your dear ones, that brightens the melancholy soul. As you know, I find November to be a very tricky month, but these last few days have been filled with fabulous.

We had so many loved ones celebrating with us that we had to take two pictures to get 'em all captured for the scrapbooks. By loved ones I am of course including the fabulous neighbors as well as the fabulous green beans.

Also at our table were two grandmas and two kinds of cranberry sauce.

The husband's sister was with us, which was a special treat. Since she lives on the other side of the country, we don't get to see her nearly as often as we would like to. I love her for many reasons, but one is that she and I both love to slum it among the gossip magazines.

And our festive occasions are always better when the fabulous neighbors are around. Talk about dear ones!

tangent: I think it's a shame that the word neighbor does not convey the depth of love I feel for these wonderful friends. It is true that they live right next door, and that we can count on them to feed the cats and check our mail while we're away. But I also rely on them for advice, sympathy, rocking good fun, and so much more! How lucky are we to know them?!

The tall boy -- home for the holiday -- received some birthday loot as well. He is a truly good sport about the fact that his birthday is often collapsed into our Thanksgiving celebrating. Sometimes his actual birthday is on actual Thanksgiving. He could make this one more thing for me to feel guilty about, but he is mellow about it, as he is about so many other things. He even makes life easier by not particularly liking cake. He always requests birthday pie -- which is easy to come by at Thanksgiving!

And here is a gorgeous sight -- the ceremonial pot of turkey soup! The husband -- the master of the kitchen at our house -- started this bad boy simmering almost before we had finished eating. I think he might have taken a turkey leg out of the sunny girl's hand so he could add it to the pot.

I hope that, as it did for me, your Thanksgiving reminded you of how lucky and loved you are. When all is said and done, I feel so blessed!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Drama queen -- in a good way!

So the girl in charge performed last weekend in her high school's production of The Crucible. She played Francis Nurse, the good man whose wife is accused of witchcraft. Here she is smiling with her "bride," before the Saturday night performance. Love the wrinkles and mustache!

The Crucible is a complex, intense and difficult play to perform -- so I'm so impressed that this high school drama group tackled it. They did a nice job, too!

This lovely young woman is the girl in charge's BFF; she's filled with fabulosity -- kind, smart, funny, talented -- and just a giant goofball. I have to say my favorite high school kids are those who have not succumbed to the pressure to define their coolness by the low standards of the world. This girl is the coolest of the cool -- because she could care less about what the word even means.

tangent: So while my girl in charge portrayed a good man who understood from the very beginning that the system accusing his wife was deeply flawed, her BFF played the evil Abigail, and she was really evil. Can I just say that an audience full of high school kids, busy whispering and texting and using very poor theater manners, will listen with rapt attention to every nuance of the performance -- beginning with the moment the main character is called a whore.

The last performance was this weekend, and now it's time for auditions for the one-act play competition. My girl in charge loves the stage! The cast list goes up tomorrow -- cross your fingers that she gets a part!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Snapshot: Marianne

This weekend I will be thinking about my mom, who died of breast cancer fifteen years ago tomorrow. Wasn't she pretty when she was a girl?

Consider the following for a minute, people. And then see if you still need to ask me why I am not ever particularly jazzed about Thanksgiving . . . .

Fifteen years ago our family celebrated a singularly bizarre series of life passages in one week: we lost my mom on a Monday, attended her wake on Wednesday, celebrated Thanksgiving and the tall boy's fourth birthday on Thursday (he got a bike!), eulogized Mom at her funeral on Friday, and ate birthday cake with my wonderful mother-in-law on Sunday. I hope you can see why I am always a little ambivalent about this time of year!

The month of November is always a jumble of emotions for me, but if right now I had to pick just one feeling I would describe myself as melancholy. I find it interesting that our family's month of remembrance (we have lost more than one family member in November) parallels the wider cultural and religious annual traditions of Veterans' or Remembrance Day, All Saints Day and All Souls Day. I swear it sometimes feels like the whole world misses my mom in November.

I miss her all the time.