Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Bitter Pill To Swallow...

(Sorry, folks, fair warning - super long, and quite whiny.)

Sometimes I feel like my life is one long scene from "he/she's just not that into you." And mostly, since I'm not usually that into whomever, I'm fine with it. Every now and then though, it stings... and it seems to be cumulative too.

I've been thinking about this quite a bit recently. One, I'm currently surrounded by people who do not like me and I do not like them - almost exclusively - and I'll tell you what, if I survive to get out of this hell, I will never take having friends for granted again. Ever. (Yay! I love these little learning experiences!) And two, my family is small - and shrinking. The day is fast approaching when I will be alone.

My mom is an only child of parents who divorced when she was two. Her mom was the surprise baby of a later second marriage - her nearest sibling was nearly 20 years older. By the time I came along, when Mom was 30, not only were Grams' siblings gone, most of their children were too, so Grams was pretty much it for my mom's side of the house. I'm told that they'd have been nuts over me, and I'd have loved them, if only we'd had the chance. I didn't know my grandfather's name until I was in college, and I know nothing about him.

My dad is one of five. His mother was divorced from his dad when he was quite young, and he and his older and younger sisters were split up and sent into foster care - Grams' family turned their backs on her when she needed help the most. There was a man, who'd loved her for years. He told her that he knew she didn't love him, but he loved her enough for both of them and if she'd marry him, he'd bring her family back together... and so she did. Some time after my two uncles were born, they also divorced - it turned out that he loved her, but he loved alcohol even more. All five kids grew up to be productive, and successful. When the family came back around looking to hitch up to the gravy train, it was made clear - the bridge wasn't just burned... it was gone, with no trace.

So, family for me consists of basically my immediate family, my dad's siblings, their kids and assorted spouses for a grand total (including me) of nineteen people. Total. Then you can start thinking about the geographical area involved amongst these 19 people - Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Illinois, Arizona, Texas, Washington, Oregon, California (San Fran and San Diego). We're a bit far-flung. It doesn't help with the closeness.

I have always been the one to organize things - with friends and family. I'm the one that calls, that plans, that pulls everyone and everything into place - and with my family, if I don't do it, it doesn't happen. It's not that they don't love each other, they do. But they'll sit on the freakin' couch and wish someone else would call. I am the only one of us to have visited everyone else's home. When my cousin died in the Fall of 2007, my dad's brothers and sisters all gathered in Ohio to be with my aunt. It was the first time that they'd all been together in almost ten years. (Damn, forgot that he was gone. 18.) I think part of what may be stuck in my craw right now is that none of the out of state relatives even tried to come home for Mom. I've been rationalizing this to myself for weeks - money is tight, she died on Saturday and we buried her on Wednesday so it was short notice to manage (for most of them) a cross-country trek, she wasn't THEIR blood relative - but I'm a bit pissed off about it. Mom and Dad have been married for nearly 45 years. She and Dad practically raised my two uncles. You'd think they'd have at least sent some fucking flowers. *ahem* Maybe a bit more than a bit pissed off.

This came on top of something else, that - while expected - is also something of a burr under my saddle. Several weeks ago, I rented a cabin in southern Ohio for the week after July 4. My parents and my brother will be there for the same week - in two other cabins. Before I actually reserved the cabin, I was talking to my cousin - she who lives in Oregon - and we were talking about how we hadn't seen each other in years, and we were both upset that we only seem to gather for funerals and so on and so she said something about sharing the cabin this summer. She and her husband would take one bedroom, I'd take the other and we'd split the cost in half. She did say that she was worried about money because she owns her own IT business and it's been slow lately but that air tickets were pretty cheap at the time and she thought they could do it. I told her then that if it was the difference between being able to make it or not, I would get the cabin. I was planning on getting it anyway, so it wasn't a big deal. She hemmed and hawed for a bit, and asked about the cancellation policy, and then said that she'd work it out.

She and her friends have gone to Vegas for the weekend once since then. She and her husband have spent nearly a week in San Fransisco with her brother, and another long weekend in Northern California with friends. They "splurged" and bought VERY good seats to several events for the Vancouver Olympics... in 2010. They've spent several hundred dollars on concert tickets. They bought a pure blooded mastiff puppy. I got an email from her last week saying that money was super tight and they were worried about losing the house and there was no way that they were going to make it to the cabin - in July - and she's so upset and she was so looking forward to it and yadda yadda yadda. I just can't work up any sympathy for her situation because I KNEW when she was promising to make arrangements that it wasn't going to happen. As much as she goes on about family and how much she wishes we lived closer and how much it bothers her to not see us... she's never visited me. The last time I went to visit her, my brother and I explored and played tourist alone because - even with 6 months notice - she had used all of her vacation time and couldn't take a single day off work. So I know that this part of her family is just about dead last on her priority list. I recognize that, if I want to see family, I will have to go to them because they will not come to me, or each other. And normally, it's really not that big a deal.

Really, I'm glad that she backed out this early, because I expected to hear from her as I was climbing into the Jeep to start the drive. And self-pity aside, I do have friends - very good ones (just not here). I have a whole new appreciation for how blessed I am to have them - even if they live WAY too far away. (Two of whom somehow ferreted out the calling hour information while being armed with only my name and the date she died and not only showed up but stayed for the whole horrific two hours. I love them, and right now, would walk through fire for either one of them.) Several of whom WILL be joining me in my cabin, and we will have a wonderful time and I'm really looking forward to it. Actually, to be blunt, I'll have a better time with them than I probably would have had with my cousin.

It does sting, though, when I realize that my family will never be what I wish (sometimes quite desperately) they would be. And I can bend until I break, but I can't make them into anything but what they are. As a friend said once, "It's like being mad at the rain for being wet. You don't accomplish anything, and the rain doesn't care." Still hurts though.

*sigh* Well, if you managed to survive the wallow, you deserve something. Here, here's a kitty.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Birthday To Me.

My birthday is April 11. It is convenient how often that falls on/near Easter, since I am still (technically) an Ohio resident so I have to be here around my birthday to update my tags and registration. (It is legal - I have a permanent address, and my dad's business to thank for that.)

I left my house Friday around 8 pm for the drive back to Ohio for Easter and the Garmin, who still hates me, found an exciting new route. This route was North Carolina to Northeastern Ohio, via the Pennsylvania turnpike. The PA turnpike - a road I've traveled only a couple of times in my life - in the middle of the night, in the pouring rain, with only the crazed speeding truckers for company - AWESOME. The drive, which under good circumstances, takes ten to eleven hours, took nearly 13 this time. I'll definitely NEVER go that way again.

Then, when I finally arrived at my brother's house, at around 9:30 this morning, he informed me that my grandmother died this morning. Really. So I'll be spending the rest of the weekend dealing with that and family. Hopefully at some point, I can put together enough thought to share what a neat person she was in print, as Suldog and MM are wont to do.

Until then, I hope you have a wonderful Easter. Hug the ones you love close for me. If you think of it, send a thought this way.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Yay for Spring! It's my favorite! And here, it's actually a Season and not just a passing dream. The pollen has turned everything yellow, so those with allergies are suffering, but I'm very fortunate not to have them so I can just enjoy the colors and the flowers, the froggies singing and the warm breezes.

Here are some pictures from a recent jaunt around town. This is looking from my porch toward the driveway.

The azalas (complete with oak pollen string things) that surround my porch...

These are the weeds that live in my shrubbery around my porch.

I have two very large dogwood trees overhanging my driveway.

The wisteria around here is incredible - it's actually a weed, which is a bit discouraging when I think about how we struggle and pamper and beg the wisteria in Ohio to please just don't die! There are a couple of areas of wild brush that I pass on my way to work every day - this is from one of them.

A random garden... pansies are such cheerful little flowers, and it's mild enough here that they can occasionally survive winter.

Don't forget to stop to enjoy the flowers!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Playin' in the Mud...

Last November, I took a "Clay Date" with a friend. For $35.00 total, the two of us took a two hour class on the basics of working with a pottery wheel. We made a number of bowl-like things that Shelley, the instructor and owner of the store, then trimmed and fired. We came back in and glazed them and then the store fired them again.

These are the two bowls from the clay date. When I started, they were little balls of grey clay.

My friend and I both enjoyed the clay date well enough to sign up for the beginner wheel class. It was six weeks long, and extra time in the studio was covered by the class fee. I spent several Saturday mornings in the studio in addition to the class time. The last class was a week ago last Thursday, when we glazed our work.

Today, on an absolutely beautiful day, I spent my morning in the studio - my first as a member. And, I picked up the first 6 of the bowls I made during class. There are a few more, but they're still waiting for the next firing.

The flash on the camera made a substantial difference in the appearance. The clay we used for class was different than the clay date. It's called speckled brown, and it's A LOT darker.

There was a teapot class at 1:00, so we cleaned up the mess we'd made. My friend brought her lunch - the last of the chicken and dumplings from last Saturday. Our plan was for me to grab takeout from somewhere and eat together at a park... and then one of the other ladies brought in french fries and a burger from next door. OMG it smelled divine! So we hatched a new plan. I bought french fries for both of us and she shared her leftovers - we ended up wolfing it down on a bench in front of the restaurant. So yummy!

As we discussed food options, she kept saying that we had bowls. (She was much more prolific than I was and brought home 12 bowls of assorted sizes today.) I kept looking at her, and saying "I know that!" and then going back to trying to figure out how to split the container of chicken and dumplings. Eventually, the light dawned, and I washed this bowl and used it for my potion of her lunch. It worked quite well.

The rim of the bowl is a raku blue and it bubbled a bit, but I think it'll be okay.

This one started quite a bit taller and then I tried to trim the rim to make it even and ended up with... almost a plate. I need to work on my trimming. (The inside of this bowl is the same glaze as the inside of my clay date bowls - what a difference the clay makes!)

Once, I managed to make the clay go in the direction that I wanted. That would be this bowl. I'm quite happy with it, but I'm not hugely fond of the color. *sigh* Glazing takes practice too. The colors are nothing like what they'll be after firing so it's a gamble.

These next two are quite small. I painted them with a brush, as opposed to the dipping method used on the others. For this one, I was trying for the same shape as the one above... and missed.

Another dinky little bowl...

I'm actually happiest with the glazing on this one. It turned out very even and the colors are good too.

And with the flash on the camera. The color isn't as orange as it looks here.

So, I'll go in on Friday before I head to Ohio for Easter to trim the ones I made today. Hopefully they'll fire the other ones soon and I can bring them home as well. We'll see how well the membership goes. The class was good 'cause it got me out of the office at a reasonable hour at least once a week.