Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Nashville!

We are back from visiting my older son Jordan and his wife Sophie—we had a very relaxing time. In fact, I actually slept in (for me): 7 AM Eastern almost every day! Of course that’s still 6 AM Central.


I lived in Nashville as a little girl, so we took a quick drive by the elementary school I attended for first and second grade. You can’t see it in this picture but the doors on the far left and far right are marked Girls and Boys.



We’d been told by Ben that we wouldn’t see Jade the cat because she was even more shy than our Chloe cat. Well I don’t know what Ben was thinking, that cat cuddled with me every morning, purring like crazy. Or maybe I really am the Cat Whisperer.



We had a blast baking and decorating cookies, although Sophie was by far the best cookie decorator. I tended to go for the slightly macabre (which won’t surprise Jeanne any more, right Jeanne?). The round cookie was supposed to look like he’d been in a fight but the stitches part sort of ran together so he looks like he has a black eye.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas and please, a happy New Year

Kent and I won’t forget this year any time soon. Go here for the year in pictures.

And here’s a recap of our year:

Even for Boston, last winter was cold and snowy, and the snow remained on our patio until March 19. At least we don’t have to shovel a long driveway.

I ramped up my sewing, and made a lot of bags, toddler clothes and aprons. Wally helped.

Once things thawed out a bit, we turned our attention to our patio. One of the main reasons we bought this apartment over others we looked at was the very large outdoor space—well, large by Boston standards anyway. We moved bushes, added ground cover that can thrive even with little sun, and planted impatiens, begonias, herbs and ferns. We couldn’t enjoy the patio in June since most of June was very rainy and cold, but our work paid off later in August.

Ben and Jen asked us to visit at Easter and you better believe we said yes. Watching Alison eat (and dislike) her first Peep was hilarious.

My folks organized a family reunion in Estes Park, CO in July, which gave us the opportunity not only to get out of the chilly rain in Boston but also to catch up with family members, some of whom I hadn’t seen in decades. We also headed down to Providence for Waterfire—the city put platforms in the river and then lights huge bonfires on them. It’s a very cool spectacle.

In August, my best friend Kerry and her husband Brad came out to see us. Thankfully the weather actually cooperated, and we had a blast going to Fenway, checking out the Freedom Trail and watching Brad replicate a Man v Food event.

Throughout the year, I rediscovered how much I like baking my own bread, I learned to make yummy granola bars, and Kent became a pizza dough master. We also got more storage for our apartment, things like tall bookcases, a sewing cabinet that looks like a chest, plus an amazing new rug and a new chair.

On October 28, a 31 inch water main ruptured and flooded our apartment with about 18 inches of water. For the first three weeks, we stayed in Providence at a friend’s house, and I found the house my mother lived in when she was a little girl. Right now, we’re in temporary quarters waiting for the insurance company to approve the construction plan.

We spent our third Thanksgiving in a row with Ben, Jen and Alison. This has become a cherished tradition for Kent and me, and we love that we can spend time with them, celebrate Christmas early and just soak up family time.

Three weeks ago, Kent learned that AOL was eliminating the small company he works at. He opted to take the voluntary separation packet since the job was going away no matter what. Right now it looks as though his last day there will be at the end of February.

Two weeks ago, we learned that the trustees for our condominium association are being sued—and Kent is a trustee.

We’ll end the year on a better note when we head to Nashville to visit Jordan and Sophie the day after Christmas. We are looking forward to seeing them and putting the stresses we’re currently facing out of our minds for a few days.

Here’s to 2010—may it be a lot more peaceful not only for us but also for you.

With love,

Kent and Elizabeth

We are insane

We're heading to Target on Christmas Eve to buy a meat thermometer. We can't make my mother's amazing pork without it.

If you don't hear from us, send help.

Monday, December 21, 2009

To be fair

I want to dislike Boston intensely, I really do. In many ways, this has been the hardest city to live in both personally and professionally. I miss the smiles and friendly nods you get in the Midwest and God knows I miss working in my field.

But I need to be fair to Boston. Since moving here, I’ve been fortunate to meet some amazing people who have become good friends in ways I wouldn’t have expected having known them for just over a year. Let me explain.

We’ve been hit with a triple whammy this fall. It started with the water damage to our apartment (no change there, the construction plan still hasn’t been approved). Then almost three weeks ago, we got the news that Kent’s job and indeed the entire Boston office would be eliminated. Finally we were notified that the condominium association trustees were being sued by one of the homeowners—Kent is a trustee.

Since getting all that news, our friends and also strangers have rallied around us. The night of the flood I was entirely undone by a tough South Boston woman who took my order for our dinner, learned about our apartment damage and then hugged me and kissed my forehead like you would a small child. We’ve got friends who have been fasting and praying for us, and frankly that blows my mind. Others have helped us with expenses or have given us concert tickets so we could have a very special evening together. My folks sent us a care package of the most amazing cheese and crackers, along with money to buy wine—and strict instructions that money must be used for that purpose (I obeyed, Mom!). My friend Jeanne told me she’s sending me a book and I cannot wait to read it.

I am not a good enough writer to express how humbling and uplifting this outpouring has been for me. But I think I am making peace with Boston. It’s not the outwardly friendly town that Kansas City is, but I’m experiencing kindness and friendliness here when I need it most.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

December snow

We had some friends over last night for a pot-luck cocktail party. All of them hoped the snow would start while they were there so they could see it from our huge windows. Alas it didn't start until sometime around 2 AM. I got this video about 6:30 AM.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Our big monorail cat

If you are familiar with LOLcats, then you’ve probably also seen the MONORAIL cat. Eddie is our monorail cat, and he started balancing like that at a very early age. While our office chairs did survive the water damage, they are in storage so Eddie has to make do with the chairs on hand. He's a big 15 pound cat and these chairs are a lot narrower than our office chairs. Eddie remains undeterred.



And here he is after his graceful dismount:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Some people call me Maurice

Wally has a way of finding places to recline that are in keeping with his nickname, The Ginger Prince. He’s done so in all five places we’ve lived in his short, not quite three years of life. Boy that’s kind of depressing to realize we’ve lived five places since we got Wally and Eddie in June 2007.

Aside from the incredible view we have from this apartment, we also have an exceptionally comfortable bed. We aren’t particularly glad it’s a king size bed, it seems awfully big when snuggles are required. But it sure is comfy. In addition to being comfortable for us, the bed also has four pillows: two are normal pillows which are very soft, and there are also two king size pillows, equally soft.


So every morning when we make the bed, Wally finds his way in there and creates a throne worthy of a gangster of love.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Boston at night

I walked home from my haircut appointment Saturday about 6PM—it gets dark here before 5 in the winter, so most of the apartments were lit up and many of them had Christmas trees in their windows. In Kansas City, you could see some homes like that but because the homes were almost all single family, you wouldn’t see lots. But in the South End where I live, the apartments are pretty much all converted brownstones (see a short history on the South End here), so each building can have three or four or sometimes five apartments depending on how many floors the building has.

Walking past all the lit up homes always reminds me of one of my favorite Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales, The Little Match Girl. It’s a pretty sad story, but any time I walk in the dark and see homes lit up, I remember the visions she saw as she lit those matches. Even though I’m not a poor little match girl, I feel as though I’m getting a sense of her last moments as she sees the fire, the feast and finally her grandmother.

Lest you think I was a morbid child, I also loved The Princess and the Pea. My mother says that’s only natural since I am as fussy and high maintenance as she was.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Chloe

The boys get the majority of attention in this blog. That's mostly because Chloe lives a very simple life. She curls up in a ball and naps, or else she's napping on our laps. Occasionally she'll spaz out and zoom around the place, and lately she's played more with Wally and Eddie. Otherwise she's pretty sedate.

A couple of Christmases ago, I realized she had an obsession with peppermint ice cream that rivaled mine. I've heard that peppermint and catnip are related, and that would explain her obsession; she's definitely a nip addict.



Friday, December 11, 2009

Wally loves bags



And also here's the best ice cream ever:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Update and snow

I tried to post this yesterday but blogger's video upload feature kept getting hung up.

It's not a big update, because nothing's changed. The insurance company hasn't yet approved the construction plan so our housing situation remains as it was six weeks ago. If I don't learn patience now, I don't think I ever will.

We woke up this morning to snow, great big huge flakes getting blown by the wind. I'd thought the kitties would really love our wall to wall windows, but I think we are too far up for them to really see people or animals, so they don't get engaged with what they see. Well this morning Wally did. I took this video as the snow turned to rain, and consequently Wally was losing interest. Eddie wasn't interested anyway.

video

Monday, December 7, 2009

Elizabethology ahead

I posted a status update on Facebook regarding Kent’s job status—it’s looking quite grim, although he hasn’t yet received the “official” word. Add to that my two years of unemployment and our recent flood, and I think it’s clear why I said I was contemplating changing my name to Job.

But I was bothered by some of the comments my status received, the ones that were over-the-top positive thinking clichés. I don’t understand why people think offering clichés and platitudes would help someone who’s gotten bad news. I realize negative emotions and negative responses can be awkward to hear or see, but the reality is humans experience a wide range of emotions and some aren’t pleasant.

Of course Kent and I know of others who are in similarly dire if not worse situations. That doesn’t ease our situation. After all, pain isn’t graded, and this is our crisis right now. We are still reeling, and may be for a while.

I did get one completely fantastic comment: By the way, speaking as another one of the 10% families, you're allowed to have moments of wallowing in Job even as we all keep telling you to think positive. If you don't balance the two, you will go mad.

She is right and more than that, her words comforted me. She acknowledged the awfulness of our situation, and she didn’t tell me I would feel better tomorrow or even that everything will be OK. The sad reality is, we may not be OK. We’ll bust our butts to avoid that outcome, but the possibility is there.

So on to the Elizabethology bit. If you have friends who share bad news with you, don’t offer useless clichés. Just acknowledge the situation. Sympathize with them, and let them vent. Swallow the platitudes, or if you lack that discipline, at least write them down to be shared much later. Hopefully you will come to your senses before then, and delete the letter.

Friday, December 4, 2009

My cure

When I’m cranky or I’m not in a gracious mood (as my friend Kerry says), I find the only way I can begin to move out of that spot is by doing stuff. I’m not very good at sitting around and waiting; anyone who knows me will agree that patience has never been one of my strong points.

Well I’m sitting around waiting now. Our apartment flooded on October 28, five weeks and two days ago. Yes, I’m counting. We still don’t have an approved construction plan which means nothing has been done in the way of reconstruction. Worse, there’s not much of anything we can do to move things forward.

Kent’s company is in the midst of layoffs. You’d think we would both be immune to that stress due to the never-ending layoffs we went through while working for Sprint but that’s not the case. In fact I think this situation is a little worse since I don’t have a job—if he gets laid off things will really be rough.

So that’s why my mood stinks this week. Today I realized I’d better get moving or I was going to be really bad company this weekend. Fortunately the weather is absolutely gorgeous here in Boston (sorry, Nancy, hope you get some). Now we have coffee, the mail’s been picked up and sorted, cats have food, laundry is almost done, I replaced our collapsible cart we use to haul around groceries and I’m contemplating what to make for dinner. And yes, I’m in a better mood.

On Wednesday, housekeeping came. Apparently you get house cleaning every other week for your $4000/month rent. Wally did NOT like the housecleaners so he found a place to hide.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Two views

I took this short clip Monday morning. It's very quiet and peaceful where Ben and Jen live, and the trees are just beautiful.

video


And this morning, Kent got this clip for me. You'll hear street noise in this video because our temporary apartment is on a major street. We don't hear this kind of noise in our own apartment. (Edited to add that you hear all the noise because the window is open.) The view here is just amazing.

video

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My favorite sayings from Thanksgiving

Alison's verbal skills have increased exponentially since we saw her last Easter, and even since the family reunion in July. At Easter she would say, "Up! Up!" when she wanted us to pick her up. Now she uses a complete sentence. Here are some of my favorites:

"I hold you."
I think she said this because we would ask her if we could hold her.

"Cindy Lala." She's obsessed with all things princess and that's how she says Cinderella.

"Oh my goodness!" This one cracked everyone up. It's something Jen says and Alison just started mirroring it while we were there.

"Just two more seconds." She said this after her mother asked her to stop doing something so she could get ready for bed. Jen has no idea where she got this expression.

"I'm not a boring princess." She has some Gigi books, and GiGi is a princess, but as the book says, she's not a boring princess. Clearly, neither is Alison.

Ben and Jen told us yesterday that they figured yesterday would be all about Nana and Granddad withdrawals for Alison. Well, to be honest we have Alison withdrawals.