Sunday, July 31, 2011

Not Wild About Change

Okay, so we've (Madeleina and I) been back from Peru for nine days now. Seems like we should have integrated. We are. But it is always hard to switch modes, and harder still when there are changes. We came back to see that Italo's Sarah, who is so beautiful and nice, had rearranged some of the art in my rooms. Specifically, my office, the bathroom and the kitchen. Plus, a wax cast of Madeleina's left hand, made several years ago at the Wax Museum in Dallas on a school trip, had melted over the lava lamp it has sat on for several years.
That was no one's fault. No one was living here for several weeks and the family only came over sporatically to feed Boots, the Wonderdog, vet for rats and keep appliances running. No AC was on and so the hand melted. But Madeleina put all her rejection of all the changes into that wax hand and cried for hours. What she was really upset about was that the art was rearranged, my writing trophies and certicates were in different places, the art in the bathroom was now in the hallway, and new pieces that Sarah thought would be good for the kitchen and bathroom were in place. Plus, one of our beloved rugs was folded up and in Marco's old room, as were several art pieces, a couple of end tables, lamps and so forth.
So Madeleina was not crying about the hand, exactly, but that it represented change she had not designed.
I cried too, but then after 44 years of travel a couple of months a year, I know that things will be changed when I return. And so while I abhor the changes, I welcome them. If someone thinks what they're gonna buy--like Sarah bought me a 6 piece couch in the living room and threw out my old and comfy couch/chair/ottoman--well then, I cry a little and then celebrate her taste.
Much tougher for Madeleina.
And today we brought the goats home from Shelly S's. house. She is the goat lady who at times has dozens of goats. She breeds them, sells their milk for cheese and generally loves them. She's the one I got the goats from so I pay her to board them--$200 for two goats for 2 months- and she said they were easy students.
But now they are in the backyard. Over 1 1/2 acres to play in but all they are doing is braying. I'm not sure what they want but will bet it has something to with having been taken from the place where they were for the last 8 weeks.
So I'm just saying, change is tough on everybody.
To get over it I made a shrimp soup: Garlic, minced, with red onion, diced, and celery, diced, as a mirapoix. THEN sautee shrimp, then add commercial tomato soup and pepper, then add water, then shrimp shell essence, then shrimp and a few minutes later the mirapoix. Then small diced potatoes. Then diced scallions and cilantro, pepper and angel hair pasta. Then just be patient for half an hour.
So here it is: We came home las week and still don't have our seagoing feet nearly under us.
And now I have to attend the soup.
But know that Boots, the goats, the birds, and the family, are all slightly freaked at the thought that changes were made. Because we liked things the way they were. We are intimidated by change until we integrate it. I hope you're better than that, but we're not.
Sometimes we're not strong enough.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

After the Party Comes the Cleanup

Okay, the wedding was beautiful. I had no idea how many touches would go into it--and I worked hundreds of weddings as a kid at Cresthaven Country Club in Whitestone, New York. This had floating lights, floating flowers, a friend of the other side of the family who drove in from South Dakota to pitch in as photographer--fantastic--and deejay--freaking brilliant. We went on a little late because it took a long time to get pictures done at the Botanical Garden of Fort Worth--a good enough reason to visit Fort Worth and hang at my house a couple of days--but otherwise no hitches.
And yes, Chepa's boyfriend and the father of her new kids came in to town and I was good: I walked up and introduced myself, and later helped patch one of the baby's knees. I provided the bandaids and he applied them. He noted that Alexa preferred the mickey mouse bandaids and I held my tongue: Did not say, "How would you know? I'm the guy raising them!" or anything like that. And when it came time, about 11 PM, that I thought I might, I simply went to bed and let the party rock on. Marco and Italo both commended my behavior. Marco was particularly nice: "Dad, you're the freaking coolest person I ever met. You made a great party, you dealt with Troy, you didn't drink all night. I want to be like you when I grow up."
I countered that it was a lucky day, but really it was just doing what needed. Difficult for me because I happen to still love Chepa. But I did it and I am okay with how I behaved.
The party part was a blast. There was food for 200 and people ate and ate. Not just what I made but what Sarah's mom and dad and grandma and grandpa made. Plus what Chepa and her sisters made. Plus platters from a supermarket. Fortunately, Italo and Sarah's friends are mostly in their early 20s, so they can eat like horses. And drink. They went through a keg of beer, a couple of cases of bottles, nearly 4 liters of Cuervo Gold in Margarita's and then 1 1/2 cases of champagne. Plus a couple of bottles of Stoli that someone brought.
Still, everyone behaved wonderfully.
And when the kids were getting married, wouldn't you know it that I was the guy standing behind all the chairs, bawling. Just thinking about my Italo and quietly sobbing. That's why I stood behind everyone. No need to go public with a private waterfall.
And the girls, Madeleina, Sierra, Alexa and little Taylor Rain, well, they were simply magic. I just cannot get enough of any of them. I mean, I just had Madeleina in the jungle and mountains of Peru with me for 50 days and I'm still thinking she is about the coolest person on the planet to hang with. And she looked gorgeous--pronounce that gojus--in her orange bridesmaid dress.
So that's that.
And just now we finished several hours of cleanup. Tomorrow the dump and then the rounds of returning things like the air conditioner unit Sarah's dad rented for the garage, or the tables and chairs, the tent guy's stuff and the beer keg I got.
But it's done yet and I've a fridge full of leftovers if anybody's hungry. Let me know.
And spend one second sending them good vibes. Marriage is tougher than most people think--as most of you know.
Appreciate it.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Back Home Again...Life is Freaking Grand, eh?

Hello all. I've been away, working in Peru for 50 days and so have not been in touch. I'm sorry. But work is hard there. I've a team of 12-15 to oversee, trips to plan for, food to buy, babies who are sick, families that need help. Hell, it's like I'm a freaking one man money machine trying to keep up with it all. Not that I mind. My guests give me the money and I distribute it. That's how I see it. And this time, with my Madeleina, now 14, with me for the second June/July trips in two years, we actually made a few bucks. How? First, because she's such a good guardian she wouldn't let me have a woman closer than 20 feet and never ever alone. Which kept me from getting robbed or so gleeful that I gave someone $500 for the hell of it. Secondly: She wouldn't let me give anyone scholarships. Last time she was with me I gave everyone a break and by the time we added it all up I'd given $10,000 on breaks and came home broke. This time she wouldn't hear of that.
"That's my new flute, dad! Let them pay! You don't even charge enough to begin with!"
Which may not be true, but I limited scholarships and came home with enough to pay the IRS their blood money from several years ago and next month's mortgage and to buy the food and booze for my son Italo's wedding to my daughter-in-law, Sarah, the mother of my grandchild, Taylor Rain.
The trip was fantastic: Those of you who have been on it and were great guests, well, you know. This was just magic all the way with all the powers lending a hand to keep me joyful, and when I'm joyful, well, the rest of the world--at least our little world on the Amazon--tends to fall in line. So that was fantastic.
And now I'm ready to cook for tomorrow. I've cleaned and minced 15 heads of garlic and put it all in good olive oil to give me a foot up, but tomorrow it's brisket, Peruvian chicken, links, sausage, fresh beans, macaroni salad, potato and egg salad, hot dogs for the kids, a chocolate fountain, marinated and bar-b-qued asparagus and broccoli,and anything else I can conjure. The sisters, Italo's aunts will bring food as well. Heck, there are 100 people supposedly coming. Unfortunately, one of them is Chepa's boyfriend, the father of her new babies, the ones I'm sort of raising about 8 months a year because he's living in another state the last several years. I've never met him, and don't need to. I know he exists. No hiding from reality but he ain't gonna be my best friend.
I'll deal with it, I guess. I won't have a drink as a first step, lest I blurt out: Why am I paying about $6000-10,000 a year to feed and clothe your babies? Why can't you carry your end?
No drinks tomorrow. Be nice. It's my kid, Italo's day. Italo and Sarah. And their baby. And that's a good thing. Everybody is coming. I'll be on best behavior.
As for you all, I'll be back soon. Sorry to keep you waiting but those who know me in Peru know that when I am there I am there 100 percent and there is no time for anything else.
Now that I'm hear, I'm here for Italo and Sarah for a few days, 100 percent. And then it will be your turn.
Thanks for letting me have the space I occasionally need. I appreciate it.
And I hope it's all going well with you. Let me know.