Sunday, January 9, 2022

Like A Delicate Blossom


I find myself opening like a tulip in the springtime lately!  I don't know what it is!  Could it be that the burden of all the worries our old house held in store has been eradicated in a stroke?  Could it be that, suddenly having found myself no longer isolated in The Valley of  Pointy Republicans and holding myself in constant check, I am perforce and by the grace of Dog reborn in mid-flight, like a magnificent fois gras spreading its wings for the first time in decades?  What could this strange euphoria mean?

Well, I've been drinking, so that could be a factor.


I thought I'd be in deep mourning by now.  

I'm not.

Instead, I'm shedding old possessions and saying a cheerful 'Fuck off and die!" to the life I had in Sumas.

A lot of unhappiness took place in that house. The worst years of being a mother and a wife happened in that house.  The last few years I've lived in constant dread of the horrible winters.  I could go into a hundred other worries and negative vibe sources associated with that house and the property and the town and the region.

Y'all are saying 'but what about your garden?'

Kids, I was at the end of my ability to keep up with the garden. I still love plants and I've been thinking of ways to finagle my way into someone's yard.  The urge hasn't left me.  I already have one person nearby seduced with promises of David Austin roses and rampageous clumps of Japanese irises. Nice small yard. Tools supplied. Yeaaaaaah.

All of next Spring and Summer I get to go back to Sumas to keep the joint from looking like it's abandoned, at least from the outside.  It has to sell and it will sell, believe it or not.  It's going on the market. That's written in stone. The regional infrastructure in place is so obsolete, the area so imperiled, so many lies were told over the years, and the local governments so in denial that it would be idiocy to hang onto the property any longer.   For me, this coming summer will be like a weaning process.  A prolonged farewell to horticulture.  I'll distribute a few things locally to old friends, put stuff out next to the road with a "Free ( fill in the name of a plant)! Bucket and All!" sign.  I'll talk to all my Canadian tourists, say goodbye and thank you; and maybe unload some stuff that way too. 

It's time for that to happen.  I won't miss the backbreaking labor that tending a mature garden takes.  It's 20% enjoyment and 80% culling, trimming, cutting back and reiving out when it gets to this point, and I am no longer up to climbing trees with a chainsaw, hauling around 100lb. clumps of overgrown hosta crowns and turning a compost heap that is half as tall as my house.  OR sifting the motherfucker; I mean Jesus in a bouncy castle already.  

For the past five years my life went like this:

I got three months - March, April and May, to keep June, July, and August from looking like shit. Full eight-hour days.  In and out of the house, drinking water like a fish, slathered in sunscreen, always tired, always in pain, always tripping over shit or stuck full of thorns or falling on my ass.  

During June, July, and August I sat trapped in the house and sweated while the heat and humidity rendered everything a nightmare, only sneaking out in the early morning or after the sun had gone down to do some necessary stuff.  Early in the morning, starting in September I'd be able to grab a few more hours each day to go out and speed-garden. October was all labor all the time, until it got too cold and rained too much, and all for the sake of November, December, January, and February not looking like shit.

So there's that.  Now I'm two Bloody Mary's in (four, the way I pour 'em) and I'm gonna go full bore now.

If this flood had not happened, we would have spent the rest of our days pouring money down a shithole. Hiring repairmen, hiring contractors,  hiring garden help (the poor bastards cringing under threat of the lash... me and my riding crop, all dressed out in latex and spikes in of those funky mask thingies with a zipper where the mouth should be, prowling constantly, looking over their shoulders, making inhuman sounds, drinking from the hearts of the weak etc.) having the house put up on cribs, putting in new sill plates, new window frames, having the old block foundation demolished and hauled away,  getting new foundations poured,  building a new bathroom from the ground up, connecting to the city sewer... increased insurance costs, literally trying to stay above water and losing ground all the time as every single winter hence gnawed away at the house, the outbuildings and the garage.

OK. There's that picture painted. 

I would have been miserable, and my husband would have felt even worse.

He goes out there now, most times.  I can't.  There's too much mold growing.  The dust that kicks up is toxic and my lungs are weak.  

He's out there mourning.  Brings back a few things.  We clean them off in the bathtub and let them dry on the back porch and then have to clean them again because whatever was dissolved during the flood clings like paint to everything it's touched.  The longer any of our belongings stay there, the more they smell like anaerobic rot, diesel and sewage.

Biden finally declared Sumas and Everson federal disaster zones.  We've applied for FIMA assistance, and we'll be meeting the inspector this coming Monday.  If we don't fall outside income and savings restrictions (if any are in place) we should get a little something to put in the bank. At some point in the future. I think. 

Back to the present moment.

The only bitch I have to pick now is the sheer amount of plastic in our daily lives.  It's the difference in the market region.  Twenty miles down the road, North toward the border, people still make their own lye soap and live off the grid.  They still buy things like Lydia Pinkhams - no shit - and alum.  They want to be able to handle their groceries and won't buy if they don't have that kind of assurance.  Here, you have all the Eighties and Nineties babies.  They think nothing of having to unwrap one clementine from three separate layers of plastic packaging.  It's how they were brought up (unless one happened to be in the small minority, whose parents were hippies and belonged to the Co-Op.) Just the ridiculous band-aid idea of reducing plastic waste by outlawing plastic bags? That's just a fart in a hurricane! I trip on the sheer amount of plastic waste I have now.

And that's it. That's my only complaint.

I've been here before - back in the 1980's and '90's, Portland and Seattle.  All those old habits; never leave your purse unattended, always keep that strap across your body, money in your front pockets, doors locked, windows locked, don't make eye contact with the nutty people, don't advertise your belongings, always size things up going in or out, that's all coming back to me.  Sumas was already in the beginning stages of social decline.  Here it's just back to the damn future with shorter buildings.

I'm safer.  I'm warmer.  I have reasonable people in my daily life and they aren't all Dutch ffs.  I get out more and see more things.  I said 'SHIT!' out loud in WinCo yesterday - twice! and nobody infarcted.  Folks know what my 'Weyland Yutani' shirt means.  I'm surrounded by the world again.

Fuck Sumas.  That life is over.


Jon said...

If you're giving away clumps of your magnificent garden, I'll be there with a wheelbarrow!

Sometimes it is just wise to say "fuck it" to a past life and move on, and I'm glad to hear that urban habitation suits you, despite all the annoying plasticky-convenience-before-quality stuff that goes with it. London can be an intimidating, annoying, mucky place to some people from "the sticks", but we love being city-dwellers. The countryside's OK for a visit, but where's the night buses?! Or kebab shops? Jx

Ms Scarlet said...

I sometimes miss the comfort and convenience of towns. Cold, wet and miserable here. Devon isn't pretty in Winter.

Breenlantern said...

Now THAT'S what I call making gold out of garbage. You have found the hidden blessing in this tragic event and are moving forward with a new chapter of your life in a new home. So happy you were able to see this experience as an opportunity to make positive changes in your life. Go you!


Camille said...

You've just described my seasonally controlled life in a nutshell. I'm ready to toss in the towel. My husband says the only way he's leaving this house and all the goddamn gardens is toes up, feet first. I tell him that can be arranged. In fact, I remind him on the regular that should he die first, a for-sale sign and smoking tire tracks in the driveway will occur within 20 minutes of the last mourner paying their respects. He laughs and laughs...I just skulk away and plot my revenge on the fucking Cimicifuga. But seriously, I'm delighted that you're not missing the old house and despite such horrible carnage, your lives are going to be vastly improved and much easier. X

The Mistress said...

All Infomaniac Bitches should have one of those "Drink Up, Bitches" t-shirts.

Jeffery said...

The garden square footage wasn’t so big when we moved in 23 years ago at age 50. Now it has become enormous at age 73 even though the square footage hasn’t changed.

Steve. Because 'Steve' is almost as nice a name as 'Paul'. said...

Jon: I'm surprised daily at how much I've missed being a city dweller. If you have the plane fare and can afford shipping, you two come on over and you can have the whole motherfucker. The whole thing. GOD WHY DON'T YOU LIVE CLOSER?????

Steve. Because 'Steve' is almost as nice a name as 'Paul'. said...

Ms Scarlet: You're at L. 50 so you're that much closer to the North Pole than I am at l. 45, and the winters here STINK. You have all my sympathy.

Steve. Because 'Steve' is almost as nice a name as 'Paul'. said...

Breenlantern: Well, thank you. It's really the only way to look at it, though. I'd have talks about the challenges we'd face if we continued to live in that house with my husband, and both of us knew what we'd be dealing with and were resigned to that. Suddenly the Nooksack River intervenes and saves us from a grim fuckin' future! We're both surprised at how much things aren't sucking after this event, to tell the truth. It's a huge adjustment, but it's adjusting UP!

Steve. Because 'Steve' is almost as nice a name as 'Paul'. said...

Camille: Oh my God, cimicifuga will take over the world given soft soil. My 'Six Hills Giant (bronze) would stay in congested clumps in my clay soil, and whine and bitch and want to be lifted and divided but then sulk for a year after that treatment before it threw racemes again. I worked in a garden/nursery that had soil like velvet and the shit was all over the place, and you had to go at it with two soil forks and a keyhole saw sometimes. Once my boss even used a hatchet on the shit! Tell you what, if it's time to get gone, you gotta apply pressure to the old boy. Men will hang on till the last dog is hung when it comes to what they own. Learn from my mistake. I should have set fire to the dudes' shed and blamed it on faulty wiring (it had faulty wiring already, so win) but you get sentimental. DON'T LET SENTIMENT GET IN THE WAY OF HAVING A LIVEABLE OLD AGE DAMMIT! You can do eet Water Boy!

Steve. Because 'Steve' is almost as nice a name as 'Paul'. said...

The Mistress: Right? So why aren't you issuing them out?

Steve. Because 'Steve' is almost as nice a name as 'Paul'. said...

Jeffrey: Hey Paco! I know how that goes! You just keep enlarging beds and digging new ones and bringing in more plants and yeah. It's an addiction. But the older you get, the more onerous that upkeep becomes. Particularly if you're a rose addict. That shit fights back.

Bohemian said...

OMG you overseering the Landscapers description was a hilarious Vision and I'm LMAOROTF. I have to be less Sentimental and Nostalgic, so I can grow up to be you and have a Liberating Old Age dammit.