The Appalachian Trail

I need to get away from updates, to a semblance of normalcy.

I planned to take on one of the Daily Post’s prompts from earlier this week, but the one I chose led me to a different path. It was #4: Self-psychoanalysis via your bookshelf or Spotify playlists.

I only read my Kindle in bed because the lamp is on Ian’s side, so I considered the last five ebooks I read: A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, both George R. R. Martin, The Clique by Lisi Harrison, and Becoming Odyssa and Called Again, both Jennifer Pharr Davis.

Yep, definitely a telling slice of my psyche. I devour science fiction and fantasy, teen angst is my guilty pleasure, and Ian and I want to hike the Appalachian Trail. I realized I didn’t want to talk about books, though. I wanted to talk about the trail.

I’d heard of the Appalachian Trail before, but I never really learned anything about it until Lori Lavender Luz made mention of her trail name. I thought to myself, Trail name? What’s that? So I googled. I read. I watched documentaries.

I told Ian a little bit about it, and he said, ‘Oh. Wanna go?’

Heck yeah I wanna go!!

I have always enjoyed hiking and exploring. I loved my summers in Michigan, especially going to Dow Gardens and walking all the trails. Then summers in Colorado, dipping my feet in icy Rocky Mountain streams and taking a trip to Mesa Verde. Holidays with my stepdad’s family, and the acres and acres of woods behind their home. My trip to Yellowknife, exploring the glacial rocks. And here, my friends and I all used to go ‘camping’ and play hide and seek in the forest in the middle of the night. I know, not the smartest thing we ever did.

To be able to do that for days, weeks, months? That would be amazing. To be part of something that so many people are part of only because they love it? Even more amazing. To belong somewhere that being nice is magic? Words cannot describe.

On the other hand, being dirty, hungry, hurting, tired, uncomfortable–I can work with those, except maybe dirty hair. I’d rather a kidney stone than unwashed hair. *shrug* I could shave it and wear a hat.

But would Ian really want to do that? It turns out that he enjoys hiking as well! We’ve been visiting the Red River National Wildlife Refuge and walking the trails. We took Abby last week and saw a mole, a snake, and deer tracks.

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It’s exciting to think about going, even with no idea of how or when we can make the trip. When I think about all the bloggers I know who live somewhere along the trail it’s even more exciting. Although I’d imagine it’s pretty hard for a stinky hiker to make a good first impression. But you’d forgive us, wouldn’t you?


Update 2

We have a lawyer mostly paid, a letter of objection has been sent and filed with the court, and now we play the waiting game. We’ll have a court date by June 8.

Thankfully, we have had no issues with Abby being dropped off, and none are expected with the 2 pm Easter exchange.

Even so, just thinking about the situation gets me anxious. What if, what if, what if?


Update

Finally, one other lawyer agreed to a consultation and will accept our case, pending payment.

The good news: $4000, plus any unexpected court/filing costs. This is much more doable. Ian has updated the fundraiser to reflect our new goal.

Even more encouraging was his team’s attitude about the case. We had no idea that so many aspects of our current consent judgement were handled incorrectly. The important thing at the time was that we got to see Abby again. Not one of the lawyers Ian spoke to this week had heard of our previous lawyer, at least, none that didn’t decline right away at the word ‘relocation.’

This time around, we want something final, which the judge was not willing to grant before due to Abby’s age. Ideally, this would mean Abby being here Sunday night through Friday afternoon, in the best school district in the state. Well, ideally we’d at least live in the same parish, and communicate. But this is what we have, so this is what we’ll work with.

Mostly, please just cross your fingers that she doesn’t decide to try to keep Abby away again when she receives the objection letter.

Thank you, everyone, for the support you’ve given so far. So much.


We Need Help

I…don’t know how to begin. I’m not one to ask for help. Call me stubborn, call me afraid, whatever. I’ve always said I’ll do it myself.

Only this time I can’t. We can’t. And we are pursuing every avenue we can think of for help.

If you’ve been with me a while, you may remember that Ian and Abby’s mama have joint custody. She has moved 143 miles away, without notice. This is more than an inconvenience; it’s illegal.

Much more has happened, and most of it violates either the current custody ruling or state law.

Worst of all, it’s hurting Abby.

Ian’s parents have been married for almost 36 years. Mine have been separated since I was about a year older than Abby, so almost 32 years. He’s lived in this town his whole life. I’ve moved sixteen times with one or the other of my parents. I attended six different elementary schools. It is hard to go back and forth, to not know where you’ll be when you go to mom’s house or dad’s house. It is hard to start a new school, to make new friends, to learn a new town.

The only place that stayed the same was my maternal grandparents’ home. I can still perfectly recall every room, every stick of furniture, the front yard, the back yard, the neighboring houses. I was only there for about a week every year or two, but that house was what home meant to me. It was constant.

Abby’s constant is here, our home. We have lived here since 2005. For as long as we’ve been a part of her life, her room has been her room. She notices when we change anything. This morning she asked when we would get our old fridge back, because she misses it.

On the other hand, her mama has moved four times in the past three years. Abby has struggled every time, crying and telling us she how much misses her old room or her old house. All we can do is reassure her that she will always have her room here.

Abby deserves a home that will always be home. She will still have to deal with going back and forth between her parents, but she will know that she has the same room here that she has always had. And we will know that she will always be here when she is supposed to be here.

But here is the part that grates on my pride. Ian has fourteen days left to object to the move, and the only lawyer we’ve found willing to take the case–since he helped write the relocation laws–requires a $7500 retainer, all up front. We can’t pull that out of thin air. We don’t have it, and our property isn’t worth enough to get a loan that size. Ian has set up a fundraising campaign on Fundly. Please, if you can help us out with a dollar or two, or if you know anyone who can, spread the word.

Even if all you can offer is moral support, please, please do so.

And if there is ever something you need help with, don’t hesitate to ask.

Thank you.


Ghosts of Appliances Past

Our microwave died last week. I’m starting to think we should get a trailer to haul off scrap appliances. We got another, half the size and half the power–quite a change.You will be missed. If you’re keeping track, that’s January–dryer, February–refrigerator, and March–microwave. We’re on a roll here!

My parents gave us our old microwave for our first Christmas here in 2005. My mom’s always been big on gifting me small kitchen appliances. I lived on my own for probably three years before I first had a microwave (she bought it). And since I’m not a big coffee drinker, I didn’t have a coffee maker either, until she stayed the night at my apartment when she came up to interview someone (she bought one of those, too). I also mixed my bread dough by hand until I was 24-ish and received a stand mixer for Christmas (thanks, Mom). She also got us our Keurig, what, four years ago? Another Christmas gift.

Let’s see, she got me a pressure cooker about twelve years ago. It’s in their garage or kitchen now; I never got into pressure cooking. You can’t see what’s going on in there. She gave me a microwave rice cooker that I used the heck out of until she gave me an electric one. She gave me a lovely fluted Bundt pan, which I only got to make one cake in before my roommate stole it when she skipped out on our lease. That is a whole ‘nother story, my friends, and I should share it sometime. Do remind me.

It was marvelous visiting while they downsized their kitchenware. One of the benches at our dining room table is packed with cookie pans, cookie cutters, shaped cake pans. When the boys were little, they used to host cookie parties, where my stepdad would bake and all the kids would sit around the dining room table and decorate. Even after loading my and my sister down with cookie odds and ends, they still have a ton.

What else? Knives. I’ve received two full sets of kitchen knives, nothing fancy, but one had a cleaver that Ian and his brother enjoyed slicing Taco Bell sauce packets with one day. The other included the steak knives that we still use. And I got the old silverware when they bought a huge new matching set to replace the hodgepodge of forks, butterknives, and spoons that formed when they combined households.

It hasn’t just been my mother stocking my kitchen over the years. She rubbed off on my youngest brother. He gave me a Christmas-themed set of dinnerware when he was six or seven. All the mugs and bowls have broken and been tossed, but I still have one salad plate and three dinner plates, which I cherish and use year-round.

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Oh, I almost forgot about the crepe maker. One of those as well. It hasn’t seen the light of day in quite some time, but I saw a beautiful crepe cake on Create last night that’s begging to be made. The best crepe story I have is about her crepe maker, however. Keep in mind that my mom has a Kirby vacuum older than I am and a Bernina sewing machine nearly as old. Her crepe maker was quite ancient as well, and it sparked and caught fire while in my hand. I think that was the last time I made crepes, actually. Who can blame me? I finished the batch in a pan on the stovetop while Ian and my stepdad attempted to Frankenrepair the poor thing. No malfunctioning electrical device can be properly laid to rest until one of that pair has a go at it, and the repair is usually followed by a loudly vehement ‘I’m not using that thing!

I could have sworn I wrote a post about about my Sunbeam stand mixer. But alas! It seems I have not. I’m glad I checked the post I was going to link to, because the only thing about the mixer it contained was you should ask him about the Frankenmixer sometime. I must have tweeted. Nope, didn’t tweet, just wasted ten minutes searching there as well. Hm. Anyway, my stand mixer, the one my mom got me all those years ago, kicked the bucket the week of Thanksgiving in 2011. Ian decided he was going to fix it. And yes, technically, I guess he did? I mean, it ran after he got done–but only on one speed. Lightspeed. I’m not one for meringues or whipping cream, so I had to tell him that simply wouldn’t do. Or I might have loudly, vehemently proclaimed that ‘I’m not using that thing!‘ Sorry, babe. That Christmas I got a KitchenAid hand mixer. I love it, y’all. Never had a hand mixer before, always a stand, but I do love this little guy.

I think I may perhaps have had more Christmases involving appliance gifts than not. It’s cool, though. I like kitchen stuff.

But I am amused that the photo I chose is of a plate.


One of Us

Tonight was a decent night at work. I had an amazing customer. When I asked her what occasion she was shopping for, she told me that a friend of hers had just had a miscarriage and that she was looking for something with angel wings.

I showed her a heart shaped necklace with a pair of wings over a heart, but when I read her what the insert said about love (because she forgot her glasses) she shook her head and asked what else we had.

I knew exactly what I wanted to show her, but it took me a minute to find it since we have to rearrange everything once a month.

It was this necklace with three charms, one blank oval for engraving, one oval with a stylized angel, and one wing. When she saw it, she knew that was what she wanted for her friend.

She didn’t get it engraved; she planned to give it to her friend blank and bring it back herself if her friend wanted something on it.

As I rang her up, I told her I was very sorry for her friend’s loss, and that I was glad she had such a kind and understanding friend. She thanked me, then looked at me, a little worriedly, and asked if I thought she was doing a good thing.

Definitely.

I knew she was one of us. And I grieved with her, and for her.


Mardi Gras Haul!

We’re back home, getting back into the swing of things, and we have a new fridge. Yay! We have to go grocery shopping, though. It looks like a dorm fridge in there–condiments, beer, hot dogs, and pudding cups. I need to remember to get flour so I can start turning those fancy beers into breads.

We had a blast (Ian had to explain that phrase to Abby, and she loves to use it now) at my parents’ house for six days. We caught four parades and came home with this:
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Okay, so we didn’t bring it all home. We left the regular beads. My youngest brother has tubs and tubs full of them to sell back to the krewes; it’s the Cajun version of recycling cans, I guess. And we packed up a couple of goodie bags for one of Ian’s coworker’s little girls to enjoy since they didn’t get to go to any parades. Even so, there’s a big bag of stuffies, a bag of toys, and a 15 gallon tote of more toys sitting in a corner of the living room. We’ll go through and take out some to keep before passing a lot out to friends.

Abby had the best time this year. Last year her big thrill was watching the marching bands from Ian’s shoulders, but this year she was jumping up and down, screaming, and hollering ‘throw me something please!’ Too cute!!

The original plan included the Krewe of Cleopatra in Houma on Monday night, but it was just too rainy, windy, and cold to make three or four hours standing out there worthwhile. Even Hephaestus on Tuesday afternoon was chilly, but at least only drizzling. we poncho’d up and took advantage of the clear sidewalks. Not many other fools braved the weather for that one after all the spots under the bridge were taken! I was glad to see there were no marching bands, only floats. It’s a short route, but it would have been miserable for those poor kids. We had our usual brush with local celebrity, catching some of Troy Landry‘s throws.

I do hope the weather cooperates next year, since I won’t be able to get the Friday or Saturday before Mardi Gras off work. Boo for Valentine’s Day coinciding with more fun holidays!


Death of a Fridge

We’ve lived here nine years this November, and in that time we’ve gone through our share of appliances. Let’s see, two stoves, two washers, two dryers, one stand mixer, four or five-ish window units, even a thermostat and a blower motor for the 1978 heater. Does that count as an appliance? Don’t get me started on the plumbing and wiring. If it could be done half-assed, it was.

Last weekend, it was the fridge, our second. I don’t know when it died; I worked mostly evenings last week, so I don’t know the last time I was in the freezer before Sunday afternoon. Maybe Thursday?

I opened the door and thought, ‘hm, that’s funny, I could have sworn the freezer was packed.’ Then I touched the bag of ham stock. and it was not hard, or even very cold. Crap.

I quickly checked the refrigerator, which was still pretty cool. There’s that, at least.

I had to get Siri to text Ian because I was getting too frustrated with autocorrect. When he called, I was one-tracking away at him. The freezer is broken. We need a new fridge. The fridge is broken. I don’t know what I’m cooking, whatever’s most thawed.

Nothing gets to me like wasted food. Food is not cheap, and it’s stuff you have to have. Some weeks I live on leftovers because certain others in this household don’t want to eat it if it’s ‘old.’ ‘Old’ meaning more than an hour for some things, I’m not talking days or weeks here. Ahem.

Alas, goodbye yummy ham stock. Goodbye chicken stock. Goodbye chopped onions. Goodbye cream cheese ice cream (good stuff!). Goodbye zippy bags of soups and stews and beans. I cannot eat you in time to save you from the raccoons. Feast, raccoons, before the famine! For no trash shall be had next week.

Flour, yeast, and chocolate chips, thank you for being tolerant of this temperature shift.

After a trip to the trash can outside, the situation was not as dire as I’d feared. I asked Ian to bring home some ice and said we could go get the minifridge from storage in the morning. We hadn’t gone shopping for a while, and weren’t planning to this week, since we’re leaving Friday for a week at my parents’. Still, we had to get to eating.

Sunday night we had pork loin with a side of pork chops.

Monday night we had pork loin with a side of unfrozen frozen corn and unfrozen broccoli and cauliflower.

An aside of advice: buy the big pork loin and cut it up yourselves, guys, it’s cheaper that way. And you can make it the perfect size. Also, frozen corn tastes way better than canned.

Tonight there’s a slab of ribs in the oven and corn fritters to be made, leaving three packs of hot dogs in the cooler. They’ll snuggle up nicely with the juice, cheese, carrots, and condiments in the minifridge. And the inevitable leftover ribs.

At least Abby’s not here to whine about the small selection. She’ll be happy enough with chips and hot dogs Thursday night. And I’m sure she’ll enjoy peeling the photos off the old fridge with me.

Fortunately, the guy we got the dryer from last month is giving us a deal on a fridge next week when we get home, since he’s happy that Ian helps him unload the new one and load the old one. Make friends with your local secondhand vendors. We get a good deal on tires too.

Still, I had to throw away food. Ugh, that chaps my ass.


Knowing the Stories

We hear all the time about knowing the whole story, or not knowing it. I read a book once in which a couple of the characters made a game of making up background stories while they people-watched. It’s something I think about sometimes while I’m cooling my heels at my kiosk.

I find that I’m not willing to make up a backstory for the people I see walking by. It was one thing for me and my coworkers to diagnose the patients walking into the ER when I was a registration clerk; it’s easy to deduce ‘cut herself washing dishes when a glass broke’ from a woman in her mid-thirties walking through the doors with a towel wrapped around her hand at 830pm. It’s something else when it’s just people, no clues, just shopping or mall-walking.

But there is someone in particular who catches my attention. The manager (I assume, from his demeanor) of one of the shoe stores I’m surrounded by. Because I’ll never forget him. I know him, but I don’t know him at all.

When I was seventeen, I went to the mall a lot. Duh, right? One night stands out in my mind, especially when I look through the shop window and see this guy working in his store.

My boyfriend and I went to the mall, and as we were walking to the entrance, a friend of mine was walking out. He was close by the doors, and we were still out in the parking lot, when I saw three guys running toward my friend. I didn’t know them, and they didn’t look like the type of people this friend would have known, although they did look like people I’d know. They ran up and two of them grabbed him so the third could get a good punch in, right to the face. My friend dropped, and they ran off, leaving my friend bleeding on the ground. I started running, and by the time I got there, he was seizing. Someone called 911, and before I knew it there were cops and paramedics pushing the crowd away so they could take care of him. What luck the mall is next door to the fire and police stations, eh?

The cops took a few statements from some people, and my boyfriend led me back to the car. It was hours before I could talk and unclench my fists.

The next day I called the hospital and got my friend’s room. He was asleep, but his mom told me about his broken cheekbone and jaw. She thanked me for trying to help him. I hadn’t done anything but keep any misled Samaritans from trying to shove a stick in his mouth while he was seizing, but she thanked me for that.

It was a few more days before we could visit him. I went with another friend who’d dated him a few times, and he told us he knew who it was, because they’d been bothering him for a couple of days. They thought he was someone else. It turns out the guy had a roll of quarters in his fist. My friend said the guy had been arrested.

A broken face for a mistaken identity. I don’t understand how someone can justify that. It was only a few weeks later that I started seeing the attacker at the mall again. I might have seen him a million times before and never paid attention, but now he was somebody. He was one of the bad guys, and I couldn’t help but recognize him. From seeing him so soon, I could only gather that he didn’t do much, if any, jail time for what he’d done.

My friend didn’t want to talk about it, and I can’t blame him for that. He moved away, and I lost touch with him. I moved away. The blood is long gone from the pavement. The hospital room is even gone now.

But some days, I am again staring at a man who severely injured a friend of mine. When he’s behind his register, it’s almost the same distance that we were apart that night.

When I stand there at work and think about knowing people’s stories, I can’t help but wonder if anyone he works with knows that one. Or if anyone in his life knows that one. I wonder what happened to him. I wonder if he ever even admitted to himself that he hurt the wrong person.

No one can guess a story like this from a casual encounter while buying a new pair of Jordans. No one.

But in the same way, no one can guess our story, mine and Ian’s and Abby’s, by seeing our debate over strawberries versus tomatoes in the produce department.

I’m left with an unwelcome feeling of connection with a person I wish had never entered my life in such a way. I wish he’d made a different decision. I wish his was a familiar face only because I’m in front of his store a few hours a week. I wish the story I know was a story that someone had made up, knowing nothing of the person they’d just caught a glimpse of.

I do appreciate that it’s me that has to look at him, and not my friend. It is hard to have to face the person who unapologetically knows they’ve caused you so much pain, and on a regular schedule.


Happy ICLW!

Oops, I forgot that I signed up! Thank goodness for reminders, eh?

It’s been a while, and I haven’t posted in a couple weeks, so let’s have a nice getting-to-know-you post.

Hi! I’m April.

That’s entirely to cheery for how I’ve been feeling lately. Let’s take the exclamation point out.

Hi, I’m April. Welcome to my blog. If you’re new here, this started out as an infertility blog. You can read a timeline here. We called it quits with infertility treatments a while back to focus on foster adoption. Right now we’re just waiting to hear back from the DA, and then we can get home studied and start being foster parents. There’s so much less paperwork in family building the old fashioned way.

Let’s see, about me. I like to read, I like to cook, I like to write, I like to sew. My favorite book is The Waste Lands by T. S. Eliot. My favorite thing to cook is my vegetarian chili, but I’m not a vegetarian. My favorite thing to write is short fiction. My favorite thing to sew is pillows.

I have a husband, Ian, a stepdaughter, Abby, three cats and two turtles. Well, only one of the cats claims me, but you know how that goes.

I have two part time jobs, but I’m really a writer. Granted, that did not make me too much money last year, but it’s cool. I can’t wait to announce it at my next class reunion. They don’t need to see my 1099s.

I think that’s all for now. Ask me a question. I’ll answer.


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