Monday, November 30, 2009


After a slow, lazy Sunday morning, I finally was dressed about 10:30 a.m., and went outside to work on my winter project—taking down a 10’ tall bushy cedar, one yard-waste container at a time. These are things I do in lieu of living a life. The yard-waste container is only picked up every other week, so of necessity, I can only do a bit at a time.

I live near McChord AFB, and often hear aircraft overhead and I’m used to that. However, there were two helicopters constantly circling overhead and I guessed that they were hunting for a criminal. No other neighbors were outside—my closest ones had gone to church as usual. And it’s not unusual that I seldom see anyone else outside their homes. The helicopters were obviously scanning over my immediate neighborhood so I considered going back inside, but once I start on a path, I’m not easily dissuaded, so I just continued.

I worked out there for about two hours, raking some leaves and sweeping my front deck. When I finally went inside both my cell phone and landline showed waiting messages and it was my daughter checking to see if I was alright because just the distance of six city blocks from me, four police officers had been shot dead in a coffee shop—shooter unknown and on the loose. This happened about 8:30 a.m., on Sunday morning. Now, on Monday evening, there is a suspect, but he is on the loose but thought to be moving north above Seattle.

The normal people around here are devastated and fearful. Heartsick. This follows by four weeks a shooting of a Seattle policeman and his rookie female partner on Halloween—they were in their car and a car with the shooter in it pulled up alongside, and just opened fire. The suspect in that case was wounded and is still hospitalized. But he will live to testify or be tried at least. The male policeman died instantly in that case—his partner got off a couple of shots but it was not until a few days later that suspect was found and he ran and was shot by the police. He was found after someone called in a tip that a vehicle matching the description was in their apartment parking lot, under a tarp.

Before Tacoma earned the reputation of a gang-infested city, it was just Seattle’s ugly sister. When I was a kid, there was a paper mill here which stunk up the entire town and several miles around it. Its downtown area was populated by bums and hobos and one just never went there. At some time though during the many years I was gone from this area, Tacoma cleaned up its act, getting rid of the paper mill and another factory that contributed to the stink and dirtied the atmosphere (I think it was a smelter, whatever that is).

The downtown has been very gentrified and it is now beautiful as it lies on a Puget Sound waterfront. There is a beautiful train station there, built probably in the 1800s, which is still used for lawyers’ offices and such, and the main lobby is decorated with Chihuly glass sculptures. Still almost deserted though—the only people who go there are those who work in that area in county government buildings, a couple of museums and fancy-looking banks.

And of course, Tacoma has many, many upper class neighborhoods—they are so classy and exclusive that little people like me didn’t even know they were there until one of the residents (Linda Evans) got talked about in the tabloids when her lover Yanni moved in with her there.

When I returned to this area after my divorce I moved to Tacoma only because it was near my Army job. Although the smell was long gone, it took me awhile to love this city, but after wearing out a dozen or so walking shoes enjoying its downtown thrift stores, parks, and waterfront, I do love it now to the point when someone asks me “What—why do you live in Tacoma!”, I ask back “What’s wrong with Tacoma?, in all innocence.

Of course, this is not really about Tacoma. It’s about people turning into monsters for whatever reason—drugs, the economy, mental illness, the war, hopelessness and loss. They leave so much grief behind and the misery spreads to include their victims. The normal people, and I’m including myself as weird as I am—we are so sad.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


There was a day when one could be named Dick, and called Dick, and no hilarity ensued. Actually, I’m not sure anyone was ever actually named Dick—probably it was Richard—in fact I don’t even know why that was ever shortened into Dick. But hey, it happened.

Sister #2 was a beautiful wild thing—white-blond until she reached adulthood—she (and all three of us actually) were kind of untamed in early childhood, untaught about do-unto-others kind of stuff. We’ve been told that we stood inside the picket fence of our babysitter once yelling “hey you son-of-a-bitch” at passersby. I am innocent—I couldn’t yet talk when that happened, but I was there. I learned at my sisters' hands about do-unto-others, as they did unto me—some mild physical stuff (I could run away after all), but mostly verbal, horrible emotional abuse that I could not run away from and it sticks to me still to this day. And it was abusive but there was also truth in it to the point that I wear clothes I’ve had for 20 years because I can’t stand to try things on in a store, catch sight of myself unexpectedly in an unfamiliar mirror or window reflection. To glimpse a photograph of myself cripples me for days. There are other limitations to my life directly attributable to my childhood with these two (or three if you include my mother), but hey, who doesn’t struggle with this stuff? Maybe it’s a good thing, but I will tippy-toe around conversations and interactions always in an effort to never hurt anyone’s feelings because I know how awful it feels. Until a certain point has been crossed; until I know that there’s no hope there.

Many times during those years, at some point though, Sister #2 would recognize when they’d gone so far that I could not live if I believed what they said, and she would apologize or make up for it in some way. Sister #1 never regretted any of it. If anyone outside the family would try to pick on me, sister #2 would attack them. She was afraid of no one. So, although I could not depend on her in any regularity, I knew that in her way she cared for me. And yet, as I began to have relationships with boys, she could not resist just appearing there, next to me, and letting me see that she could have them if she wanted, and once I saw that, she would go on her way—leaving me alone, the guy ruined for me.

A major reason I married my husband was that he never noticed her, even when she tried that appearing trick.

Anyway, Sister #2 went through a number of very cute guys—they all fell in love with her and she messed with them as it pleased her, switched them around as it pleased her, and they faithfully remained there, waiting for their turn to come around again. However, after a short marriage to the guy she married right out of high school, she went home on a vacay and decided it would be okay to date a former beau while she was there and before she returned to hubby. Hubby did not agree and they were divorced. Set loose, she came to Seattle and joined me where I was living, just before I lucked into my first job which changed my life forever.

Men continued to fall in love with her—one met her at her bus stop one morning and told her he’d seen her there for several mornings and just had to tell her she was the kind of girl he’d always dreamed of meeting.

However, somehow, somewhere she met Dick. Now she was never hung up on male beauty—her most serious beau in high school was a quite ugly guy with whom she fell deeply in love and at 16 or so, they asked my dad if they could get married. Well, of course, the answer was no and my parents made it hard for them to continue to see each other so they kind of drifted apart onto other relationships. She never forgot him though and 30 years or so later, while standing in line to get into the fair, she recognized his voice behind her talking to his wife, and turned around and hugged him and visited awhile. Neither one would have been recognizable visibly to the other, but his voice was.

Anyhoo, at some point she met Dick, an older guy in his 30s (she was 21 or so), white-blond if he’d had any hair, ponchy, and unattractive, but for some reason he did it for her. He got her pregnant in a few months but he was immune to her and when he found that out, he was gone. Our mother’s only advice to her was “Well, you’re not coming home.” (I’ve never disputed that both sisters have their own very legitimate issues with my mother’s parenting). Sister #2 then agonized over whether to seek an abortion. She continued agonizing over this until one day when I called her at work and she wasn’t there, I immediately knew where she’d gone (she’d told me previously someone had told her of a doc who would do abortions, in a medical building I was familiar with). I left work and ran there and met her as she was leaving the building—she was crying a little and said he’d told her it was too late to do anything. I was sympathetic but inside thrilled because I was looking forward to the arrival of this little one, and completely unable to really grasp the difficulties involved. And in the long run it did turn out alright—she had a girl with red curly hair, a temper to match, and my sister’s beautiful features. Although when my sister’s friends and I first saw the baby, an hour or so after birth—all we could see was Dick. On this baby’s wedding day we held her down to apply just a touch of mascara and lipstick—neither one of them could ever stand makeup—and, oh God, she was even more stunning. And she remains today one of my favorite people. And the reason I decided to have babies.

I don’t remember now if I’ve mentioned that sister #2 and I fell out after she abandoned my mother and me a few weeks after my mother’s stroke, wanting her life back, and refusing to help or accompany me as I tried to look after the house, and keep my mother from going crazy by being there with her every weekend while she was in the nursing home. I complained about this to my daughter via e-mail and somehow, although I NEVER use the “reply to all” key in e-mail, inexplicably did click that as I forwarded an excuse-filled response from sister #2, and commented to my daughter on how useless sister #2 was. This hurt her feelings and she’s not spoken to me since.

And eventually Sister #1 recruited her and made her part of the plan to sell my mother’s house immediately and become joint owners of my mother’s bank account (from which I was paying her bills, etc.). I don’t know if they ever would have taken any money from it—I didn’t wait to see.

Well, the other shoe finally dropped, and they received the letter from the attorney telling them thanks for their help but my mother had decided to handle her assets in a different way, and that now I was the only one on the POA.

Sister #1 sent me a letter, filled with her specialty, cruel words. I am rotten, greedy. I’ve obviously spent much time manipulating an old lady into doing things my way. She is going to inform our mother that she wants to be removed from the will and never wants anything to do with either of us again. I read this, and it made my heart pound, not with pain, but with pleasure—I have for the first time ever affected this person.

And yesterday I saw the letter she’d sent to my mother—a shorter one where she told her never to contact her again in any way, and that she’d known since age 4 that she didn’t like my mother. My mother pored over the letter, sadly laughing a little at the drama of it, and finally saying “Well, of course I don’t like it, but I can stand it.” She has no plans at this time to change her will, but will wait awhile to decide that. Maybe replace sister #1 with her children.

I still don’t understand Sister #1’s logic—she wanted to sell assets even though the proceeds would have belonged to my mother while she still lives. But since she was stopped, she wants to remove all her chances of ever getting anything? I don’t get it.

There has been only silence from sister #2. I may be fooling myself. But I have hopes she may be salvageable.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Woke up yesterday about 7:10 a.m. Saturday. Slept in. It was very, very dark for daytime, and the sky was dark grey with solid cloud-cover. Or, it seemed more than cloud cover, there were no holes to look through to see real sky. The air was moist and heavy, and not quite cool (mid-sixties, I would guess). I opened a couple of windows, but nothing was moving. For once my nose was not stuffy—I imagine any pollen in the area would have already fallen to the ground, soaked and swollen with the moisture, unable to threaten anybody’s membranes at this point. This is how you have 100% humidity without actual rain.

I love it this way. This is my Washington. Rain forest atmosphere. The colors though—the leaves! It’s hard to understand that fall signifies a death of sorts, as the trees lose their leaves and become skeletons until spring. Because until the leaves fall, the colors are exaggerated and appear full of LIFE. If I’d taken all the pictures that I was tempted to, it would have taken days to get to my mother’s house. I only took one. I would like to walk down this wide, grassy path because it looks like only gentle love and sweet content would be in such a place.

At times like this, it seems like the world is gift enough.

Later in the day when we were safe inside, there were several short but powerful rainstorms. And in one day, most of the spectacular leaves were on the ground. Covered the entrance steps, and the little gardens on each side. We’ll leave most of them there until after real winter is over—they protect vulnerable plants from freezing.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

waiting for the explosion

There has been no reaction from the sisters yet. It’s like waiting for a bomb to go off. I don’t handle this kind of stress well.

My mother’s attorney asked me not to help her answer his questions, and he had her tell him what her assets are and what she wanted. She said, of course, she did not want to sell her home and the ESs were trying to do that against her will. And some other things that reassured him she was capable of making the decision of removing them from the POA. Then, when it was typed up and ready to sign, he again conversed with her in front of the witnesses. He asked her about her grandchildren, and she described each of our children who are all gorgeous (I agree with that). Thank goodness he didn’t ask her to name them all. So the witnesses and the attorney were all convinced that she could make this choice. Since it has to be filed at the court house, it will be a while before we get the new one, naming only me and my daughter as alternate should I choose not to do it (or get hit by a bus or something) (a bus driven by my sisters). She forgot to mention that they had hijacked the bank account, but he was convinced without that.

He asked us if we wanted him to notify the ESs and we said yes. He said well he could write them a mean letter or a nice one and we agreed that it should be a nice one saying thanks for your help so far, but your mother has decided she wants to handle her assets in a different way. And he threw in “your mother loves you very much and would enjoy seeing you more often.”

I like that because I think it will confuse the hell out of them. But I don’t know if that letter has gone out yet.

I did go to the other branch of the bank and remove the property papers from the safe deposit box that they still have access to. I was hugely relieved that everything was still there.

I am not afraid of anything they might say to me or try to do to me (I think we’re all too old for physical stuff but I believe I can whup ‘em if necessary). But it would not be pretty—not the kind of girl fight most people enjoy.

But still, I feel horrible and full of dread. When anyone at work gives me something complicated to do, I’m tempted to hug them, just for the distraction from my awful thoughts and feelings. I keep telling myself it’s all okay now, it’s over, the bank account is safely changed, etc., and if bills come in before I get the new checks, I can pay them myself and pay myself back later. And yet I’m not comforted by that. I can’t get past my anger that they would do such a thing—use the POA to do things against my mother’s wishes, and trying to hijack the bank account. And once I get worked up about things, I can’t calm back down even when the problem is over. I took a vicodin last night and nothing hurt except my racing mind, but I couldn’t stand feeling that way.

Anyway, didn’t want to leave this hanging, but I guess I’ve got no choice. If something does happen and they don’t kill me, you know I’ll put it out here.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


I have a long-standing history of hating anything squash-like, yellow or orange. However, I love stir-fry stuff and have come to love zucchini (in stir-fry and also I love zucchini bread but not enough to make it). Zucchini IS squash, but it is green so I can stand it. It’s best when just barely cooked. So a while back I had only zucchini in the house and nothing else much interesting to stir and fry but I was hungry for a veggie so I thought I was just going to sauté it but suddenly found myself slicing it into half-inch coins, dipping it in egg, and then seasoned flour and frying it. It is delicious—even though it’s one of those things you must stand there and pay attention to, turning it continuously, until brown and tender (about five minutes). So nummy! Almost worth having to stand there long enough to get it prepared, eat it, and then wash all the floury plates, bowls, and forks and countertops and unbelievable mess that you have also created. Try it!

And now, back to my life. I have just one warning for you all--PICK YOUR SIBLINGS VERY CAREFULLY!!!!

The other day I was reconciling my mother’s bank statement (I take care of her bills and stuff since her stroke two years ago). I had postponed it a couple of days until I was in the right mood, and finished it and was about to file it when I noticed something that had never been on the statement before—it showed CO-OWNERS: EVIL SISTER #1 AND EVIL SISTER #2. My heart stopped.

The Durable Power-of-Attorney that names all three of us (but I’m the only one who does any work)—they took that document to her bank and added themselves to her account (signing for my mom as the POA allows them to do). Well, I hadn’t planned to go there that day but of course then I had to. The POA becomes invalid at the time of my mother’s death. We knew that would be a problem but didn’t know what to do about it, and I at least just figured we’d have to wait until after probate to pay her debtors, if any. I had learned that problem could be avoided if we were co-owners, but it didn’t occur to me to do that, partly because the thought of being in any approximation to my sisters is just so icky and I’m so busy at work it’s hard to get time off.

Anyhoo, I walked into the bank and told them I needed to be added also as a co-owner. They said sure, but you’ll have to fill out this card, then the bank would have to mail it to each sister in turn for her signature. I couldn’t understand that since we supposedly have equal power under the POA, but now that they were co-owners and I was not, all three (ESs and my mother) would have to approve adding me as a co-owner. As a co-owner, you CAN access the account even after my mom’s death. Well since they will not communicate with me, they weren’t likely to sign that card, and anyway HOW DARE THEY!!!!!!!!!

So, I did the only thing I could do. I went and got my mommy. I think the bank knew they’d done something bad—they should have contacted me or required all of us to be there (assuming they thought my mother was totally incapable of understanding anything). Well, she’s not incapable in that way, and she’s plenty mad, and she made it clear she did not want them to have access to her bank account. So they opened a new account where I am joint owner and moved the money out of the old one. And told us they will not honor that POA anymore.

We have an appointment with her attorney tomorrow where we will create a new POA with only my name on it. At least that’s our plan. Maybe there’s a better way to do it—we’ll see what he says.

A ton of work must be done now—I need to get her pension companies to send their payment to the new account, and update all the automatic pays made to utility companies and such—I figure no more than a million phone calls and three or four days will do the trick. I’m always so fearful of contacting those pension sources in case something will happen to interfere with her payments, but there’s no choice now. I’m not happy about it but when I think of how the ESs will feel when they realize that account is no longer open, that almost makes me smile.

I also have to sneak back to the bank and remove the important property papers from the safe deposit box they bullied me into opening a few months ago—unless the ESs have already removed them. I do have copies that I made of everything before I put it in there but one never knows how effective copies will be if needed to prove anything. The box is in a different branch of the bank, and besides I just didn’t think of it until after the visit to the bank.

The ESs want to sell the house now, and I kept telling them you must talk to our mom about this. They never did, although as I said before they went to the house once several months ago with a realtor for a looksee. About three weeks ago they did show up at my mother’s apartment, and told her to move everything she loved out so they could clean it up and sell it. She said nothing in response (I could have strangled her myself when she told me that later). She is so disappointed and hurt that they so rarely visit her, that she doesn't know what to say when she does see them. They weren’t there longer than 15 minutes or so. However, my mom did write them a letter a week or so later that said she did not want to sell her house or property now and that she’d do anything she could to keep that from happening. That elicited no response from my sisters.

Anyway, what for me was supposed to be a four-day holiday has turned in to a very busy time.

I need candy.

The fun continues.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

my brain hurts

Summer’s almost over here. We had one week in late July where our temps hovered for about five days at the just under 100 degree mark. We don’t really deal with heat well here. We are big babies. The local news was about nothing else. All local stores ran out of fans and air conditioners. Then one night it cooled down. As I sat in my un-air-conditioned house, with my one little fan pointed at me, sweating buckets, having to sit up straight because leaning against anything stopped the movement of air against my skin, I could feel the difference as it occurred, as the temperature lowered, even though it remained sunny and hazy out. It was weird—you wouldn’t think the change could occur that fast, that it would take longer than that just for the buildings and the concrete on the highways/sidewalks to release the heat. But it did work that way—there was no breeze but placing the fan in a window helped remove the heat from the house, and on the outside, the heat just went away although the appearance of the surroundings remained the same. It was as if we were released from a tyrant of some sort, and we could breathe again. This was good practice for me though, and preparation for my trip to Kansas—when I got there, they had rather unusual low temps, in the 85-90 degree area—and it was okay! I only complained when my son would throw us all in his old, un-airconditioned pick-up and drive off, forgetting to open the windows (the control on my side didn’t work) until I croaked “air!!!!” He’s used to it, you know—and one day he even wore a long-sleeved cotton shirt over his t-shirt which I think he did just to annoy me. But still, no prob.

But now it’s seriously cool up here—still no rain, but very cool temperatures, and we’ll be lucky if we can reach 70 today.

I have to go to work tomorrow. I can hardly believe this. I’m not really ready—although I am getting bored. I enthusiastically worked on the garden last week, digging out a rose bush that was about three years old, working hard to produce a rose a year, and finally while I was looking at it one day, the classy part of the rose graft just lifted off as if it had never really been attached. I have three roses that have done this, and I will replace all of them with those clumps of decorative grass as while this is the part of the yard that gets the sun the roses need, it’s also the rockiest part of the garden with soil that just won’t let enough water penetrate to keep them wet enough. And I will try containers for my roses, and see if I can keep them from freezing in the winter.

I have sixty-three billion sprinklers I’ve bought over the years to try to water successfully but still none of them reach the right areas. The only way that really works is for me to stand there with the hose. I was standing there with the hose one day, watering, and noticed that some tiny bees appeared, and seemed to be irritated by my watering. I thought to myself, hmmmm, those look like the little sweat bees I used to see in Kansas. And continued watering until one of the little buggers stung me on the knee. Damnnnn—it’s amazing to me how the sting increases in pain long after you’ve swatted the bee away! I still have a red mark there and this was weeks ago. This is the part of the yard I usually water from a distance because a big snake lives there also so I just can’t go there anymore. Luckily I had placed a soaker hose there before the temps were high enough that the snake would come out, so I’ve had to depend on that to keep a poor rose that produces beautifully alive, in spite of the rocky, shallow soil. So I’ve posted some pictures of the part of the yard I’m not afraid of, and the part of the yard I am scared of. Hard to believe it’s the same yard, but I just can’t go into that one part.

When I started my vacation, I had just plowed through the worst part of the year at work—the preparation for the new fiscal year, during which we have to spend everything RIGHT NOW or it will be lost to us. So it was a frantic flurry of scheduling trips and making air reservations, doing paperwork for monetary awards, etc. Somehow my department has ended up with about three hundred employees and only one of those, me, does this type of paperwork. It was also the month of the year where I was also supposed to do annual training about such things as privacy act, security training and other time-wasting, soul-killing required stupid useless training, but there was no way I was able to fit that in. Somehow I’ll have to do that while also catching up with everything waiting for me when I get back. So, while I’ll be glad to see the people again, I won’t be so glad that they will probably be waiting for me, waiving urgent things in front of my face. Usually, though, I am reassured to be so needed, rather than arriving to find out they’ve learned how to get along without me—one of my constant fears.

Here’s two things I did recently that have made me doubt my ability to handle all this—I booked and PAID for my airfare twice. I don’t think this is my fault—I think I first looked on Cheap Tickets to see what was available, but you can’t see that unless you actually enter dates and locations and numbers of travelers—once I found one I liked, I exited the website without paying, of course, to call and coordinate with my son to see if the dates/times were doable for him. Then the next day or so I re-entered the website, selected the dates/times I wanted, and paid. I am guessing it also held on to my previous entry, and charged me for both of them. I did think “Wow, Cheap Tickets aren’t so cheap!” But I hadn’t flown for awhile and didn’t know if that cost was out of line or standard for the time. Of course, I saw the two charges to my VISA bill, but didn’t closely scrutinize, assuming the charges were one for the departure and the other for the return. Not until I got to the airport to check in did they point out there were two reservations in my name. Of course after I returned, I talked with them on the phone, but according to them it is not fixable, now that the reservations have been used. It won’t break me financially but it pisses me off.

Then a couple of days ago—I ordered some books on line. And I ended up ordering an audio book because I didn’t look closely enough. I was able to easily exchange it at the local store, but Good Lord, if this is the way my mind works now, I’m certainly going to be short of the brain power needed by my job.

I have been thinking to myself, as I see how so many people are losing their jobs, and being unable to find ANYTHING new, and wondering to myself how have I been so lucky not to be facing that terrible fear and uncertainty. I am profoundly grateful that I happened to have lucked into my current situation. I am profoundly grateful for my lack of adventurism, that made me fearful of trying far-out schemes that required investment of all I had, and a great deal of luck. Many friends and relatives told me over the years that they wouldn’t have been interested in working for the government, but rather wanted to try their own businesses, playing the stockmarket, and depending on selling themselves and their ideas to potential investors. I never had that personality—I have never been the type to even be able to talk my way out of a traffic ticket—I knew I could not do it that way. My way to my modest success was to be a drone—it was not hard for me—as I said in my earliest blog, the praise for my work was the first I had ever received and I ate it up, and worked faster and harder for more praise. And I got it, and I kept at it, and was happy for it. But the drone work I do is not easy, not simple to do, and sometimes I bitterly think it has ended up designated as drone work because the higher ups CAN’T do it and are terrified to try, but then I realize their jobs consist of other duties, like being doctors and such, and they can’t do that stuff AND the drone stuff, for gosh sake.

With every business failing, and the car dealers not-so-patiently waiting for their clunker reimbursements (and this delay in their reimbursement is really scaring me—where on earth is the money for that reimbursement going to come from and does the delay mean they've given up trying to find it), I’m not so sure anymore that my own job is not vulnerable. I’m scared, and while thinking about all this stuff, I felt a very brief understanding of how it must feel to be unemployed now, and to find one’s retirement is also gone, and to be facing foreclosure, and repossession of cars and other goods. A brief understanding because it’s just too awful to contemplate for very long, isn’t it?

So, I’m not going back to work with a rested, clear mind, ready for the challenge. However, I will be too busy to be thinking about anything but the work, and for me, that’s a good thing.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

old radios

Look what I just got from my mom’s house—this is/was my grandmother’s radio. This would have been the center of family entertainment when my mom was young, and even when I was young, as TV didn’t come along until I was around 10 or so. Err, well it was around and being developed but we certainly didn’t have one until about then.

As a kid from a logging town, I love wood things and I have always admired this piece. The radio of course is not in there anymore—a friend of my mother’s put doors on the back and shelves inside so that it makes a nice desk, but when you use it that way, you can’t see the beautiful front of the cabinet. So I just have it sitting there, being useless but beautiful. I will replace the cloth behind the speaker opening with gold fabric, maybe, so the art-deco filigree-like cutout design will show better.

Here’s another of these, not quite as pretty but still cool—also hollowed out to be a cabinet but again—can’t see the front if you use it that way.

And a small radio, on the shelf, which actually does have the radio inside. If you plug it in, it produces quite a nice static. The tubes light up, and if you leave it plugged in, well, I’ve never done that because I’m afraid smoke might start rising from it, but I love this piece too. I had ambitions to refinish it years ago but thank heavens I never got around to it because I’ve since learned that is the worst thing to do as far as value goes.

Do these things bring memories to any of you? They sure do to me

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Well, the death of Billy Mays kind of gave me computer PTSD (except for the delayed part) on top of Farah, Michael, and whoever else went at that time that I can’t remember right now. I actually got fearful of even checking my e-mail for awhile. However, one day while avoiding news on the computer, I learned how to download music and buy it! When I think of all the CDs I have with one song in 15 or so that I like—well, that was fabulous. I hope this doesn’t lead to my financial ruin.

I couldn’t seem to blog because I had nothing interesting to talk about.

And I still don’t, but that’s never stopped me before, so I’ll mention that I was gone for a week during which I flew out of here to go to . . . Kansas. My son and I tried something different—we didn’t even leave Kansas City—my son and his two daughters and I stayed in a motel there near a giant water park and see if we could figure out how to have fun. Neither of us are good at this—having fun. The first night I was there I lay awake nearly all night worrying that we might not find the water park, if we did find it, we might not be able to figure out how to get it, it might be too crowded, too expensive, it would be closed that day . . . Of course, when we got there, they (the park people) make it perfectly understandable about how to get in there and where to pay and how much and all. I wasted a whole night’s sleep, but that’s just how I roll in most situations.

A few months ago my son phoned me at work—this is so scarey—calls at work are always BAD. So I was somewhat relieved when he told me his wife had left him. I tried to comfort him but inside I was thinking “Oh thank GOD, nobody is dead.” And I was certain she’d come back at some point. She did not—quite quickly, within three months, the divorce was final. They share custody—he actually has the kids more often than she does—and he likes it that way. In fact if it were not that way, I would be horribly worried about him. I think both adults are both more content this way. The girls seem to be doing all right at this point. They are 7 and 8. And this is why we were able to just stay in Kansas City and act like crazy rich people (for a very limited time) rather than travel on to his small, hometown where there is not much to do.

The two girls—they are like clones actually—one exactly like my son and his dad’s side of the family (slim, compact, freaky intelligent and in her case, adorable), and one exactly like her mom and although her mom and I of course are not related by blood we are very similar (so granddaughter is not slim, but is very pretty, all emotions and short on social abilities—she lacks the “cool” gene. She instantly loves everybody and offers her heart without reservation and you fear it’ll get stepped on).

However, the younger daughter has a way of saying “this is going to be the best day of my life . . .” and I think the day at the water park came pretty close to being that—a water park in that heat is the perfect place to be. Whereas in my part of the country everyone avoids the giant bucket spilling over, in Kansas everyone runs to that area and waits for it. We went down every slide there, all sizes, (even the most timid daughter tried EVERYTHING and loved it) then went into the wave pool (kids wore life-jackets—I could have used one myself as the first time, treading water during the waves, I swallowed a considerable amount of water, even though I am an excellent swimmer)—later I got an inner tube and there is nothing more fun than sitting in one and enjoying the movement of the waves. We were there for at least eight hours. We had forgotten sun block—the kids were already brown from being outside everyday, but we big ones were unprepared. A bottle of sunblock was $16 if purchased there. A hamburger with nothing on it except meat and cheese was $5+. Towards the end of the day I had to seek out what little shade there was, and had put on my shirt to avoid anymore burning. I didn’t stay out of the water, just went in half dressed, and it helped considerably. I was mentally prepared for those prices and it didn’t bother me. It was great fun.

Kansas City is beautiful, we went to the street market, sought out everything about Jesse James in the area near Kansas City, found a little place called Liberty, KS and visited an old jail there which is now owned by the Latter Day Saints because Joseph Smith was imprisoned there, (and they built a beautiful little white church over it) and found that tour very interesting. Arrived at Jesse James’ home and farm too late to get the tour there, but before that toured the bank he robbed in Liberty. And on another day did the tour of an old steamship that went down in the Missouri filled with goods for the settlers—that was also great. The ship was dug out of a farm field that was left there after the Missouri River changed course over the years—and the tour consisted of looking at all the goods it carried which had been cleaned and restored. The only way settlers could get anything was via these steamships at the time—it was the Walmart of that time.

My son’s daughters are my country grandchildren. My daughter’s daughter is my city granddaughter because they live here in the jaded NW.

Before I left, I innocently decided to download some beautiful pictures of my beautiful city granddaughter from my camera and discovered some photos of myself I had taken when my mouth and chin was still swollen from the periodontal surgery (in case it stayed like that forever and I needed to sue someone). Alas, the swelling did go away. And there were also some four-generation pictures that my mother always insists on when she and I and my daughter and granddaughter are together—my son-in-law took them. Have I mentioned that I never NEVER look at pictures of myself (I might APPEAR to be looking at them when someone insists they’ve taken a good one of me, but I don’t really look). Well, these caught me off guard before I could do the blind stare I do when I have warning, and OMG—well, when I think of the HOURS I spend trying to make my hair look one way or another, mostly like MORE, and then I see a picture of myself and –well, I am not going to put any more effort into that project. And I won’t even bother mentioning how I didn’t know I was THAT big. Oops I did mention it.

I do blow dry my hair or else it dries into weird waviness. But that’s it. While in Kansas, in the motel, my son said he liked the way it looked—I hadn’t even combed it yet. Actually I hardly bothered because in Kansas with the humidity and the wind—well, it’s just silly to spend time doing that. I am reminded again though of the value of a good haircut—if your hair is spun around in the wind and humidity, if you go inside, it should fall back into somewhat of a normal do. And at this time it does. I must give my hairdresser a bigger tip next time. The salt and pepper color makes it look like I’m gray on purpose. My favorite thing about it is the color.

I’m getting over the shock of seeing the pictures to some extent. And packed my camera to fill it with pictures of my other, beautiful country grandchildren. Most in our messy motel room because it was impossible to have fun in a waterpark or on a tour and still keep track of a camera, wallet, and such (besides, that camera strap, around a sunburned neck—painful!) I got lots of great pictures—inasmuch as they are always either fighting or hugging each other, each picture contains a story. Their mother is a twin so she always wants to make sure they get equal whatever it is—this has made the girls hypervigilant about that and, since I don’t have to live with it all the time, it can be comical as they get upset about the silliest things. But like I said, the next minute they are cuddled together reading a book—they act as if they also shared a womb.

It was a great adventure.

I have this week at home to catch up on gardening, housework, mail, etc. Inexplicably when I washed my hair yesterday I ended up fiddling with it, trying to make it stand up, and spraying it. What's wrong with me?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

let's take a step back here . . .

Wow, six comments! The most I’ve ever had in my blogging life. I am thrilled. And so happy to welcome Miss ColleenQ whose blog I’ve been following for awhile and Susan. I need all the feedback I can get. David (I didn’t know responses were space limited either but I’m glad you kept going till you got it all in there); you are right—I have so few personal contacts that when one turns sour, it does indeed link together with every hurt from the past and become overwhelming to me.

My daughter and I are okay—she understands and babies me when she realizes I am on my last nerve. She and her husband know that the way to scare me silly is to hint jokingly that they might get divorced some day. They are both so busy with normal life—and she’s had to find time to be with my mother more since she got sick, so it has been a strain on them. But I guess what I meant by pressure was only her own desire to be in two different places at once.

Yesterday I did the chicken cooking thing. My daughter arrived at my mother’s house with my mother and her two best girlfriends for a girls’ weekend celebrating her birthday. One of the friends, in 15 minutes, attacked a part of the garden that was way overgrown, and cleaned it out—it looks fab. I was going to do that but when my mother sees it she always greets each plant and says things like “I know that’s a weed but it’s so cute . . .” that I figured well, she wants it there. And then my fear of snakes . . . I couldn’t find gloves long enough to make me feel safe digging around in there. Anyway, that’s DONE and it looks so good. More than once I have gone home from my mother’s house with my car trunk stuffed full of trashbags of weeds—I have yard waste pickup at my house—so this time, I did that again, but maybe for the last time.

I’ve been watching the cake guy on TV, and have been fascinated by how they do those fancy cakes, and meanwhile a great hunger has been building inside of me—a desire to dive into that frosting and filling in the middle, so I went to my regular grocery store and a rather small one (1/4 sheet cake—supposed to feed 20—if each person could be satisfied with a 2”x3” portion, but I don’t know anybody who would be satisfied with such a small piece). Anyway, we were so full of chicken and mashed potatoes/gravy, that we just took a picture of the cake and then split it between us to take home and eat later. I’m not going to reveal the measurements of the portion I brought home with me.

Oh my God!!! I just saw on my home page that Billy Mays was found dead—he was 50. I’m starting to feel like these reports are some horrible joke! I had to cry about Michael—because I felt he had so little happiness in his life. I remember in about 1990 I had a quote pasted to my typewriter (yes, typewriter) that said something like “talent does what it can; genius does what it must,” and it was Michael that I was thinking of when I cut it out. I picture him on Thursday hearing of Farrah’s death and feeling bad about that, popping another pill to combat that sadness and, ooops, that was the one that put him over the edge.

I’m going to mow the lawn. And think about everyone I love. And, if not pray, try to wish or channel some strength to those who are hurting. "We’re all in this together—keep your stick on the ice."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

World War III didn't work

You are correct, Miz Angie—I am the only constant in this story of continually being unceremoniously dumped by men for no reason at all (remember Lulu, the little cartoon girl who was constantly complaining that her mom spanked her for no reason at all—I always got a kick out of her). I’ve been thinking and thinking about your comment and thinking and thinking about well, what is it that I did or do to bring this about. I can’t think of nothin’. Except be me. The thing that bothers me the most—I made huge behavioral changes in my life and stuck to them because I didn’t want to be the floozy anymore. The changes were not easy to stick to, and the resulting and lonely life has not been easy to endure, but I did it, and to be STILL treated as if I were behaving floozyishly is very upsetting to say the least. However, if this is the worst that ever happens to me, I need to get a grip, don’t I, in spite of the fact that such things take me back to a very painful place in my mind and it’s hard to get out of there at times. I just now had the weirdest realization—I might be grateful for the buttload of irritation that I’m constantly getting from my sisters because it drug me out of that place. In my spare time though, I hope to think of some retribution for Mr. Faxman that will be quiet and invisible, but painful and untraceable back to me.

Meanwhile the adventures of my mother’s life continues although they are now mine to handle. Years and years ago we used to enjoy watching river otters tumbling down the brook to the beach near her house—they were like little boys repeatedly coming down a slide and then scrambling back up it to be washed down again. River otters—a name we gave them and I don’t know if it is a correct designation—are not like the darling fat ocean otters you see in a zoo, that float on their backs and crack clam shells on their stomach. River otters are more like weasels, but who loves weasels, so we refer to them as otters. While we were thinking that they were just enjoying the waterslide, we didn’t know they also took a liking to the underside of my mother’s house where they would gather and tear out insulation, using the area as a bathroom and a dining room, leaving empty oyster shells there. Tiny bits of muscle left on the shells can make a powerful stink as the summer temperatures rise, and then there’s the smell of the poop and pee. Of course, their point of entry was covered with strong metal screen many, many times, but these otters have talents like raccoons and always manage to remove the barriers eventually and get back in there.

A few years ago my mom and her neighbors jointly hired a trapper guy (who knew they even still existed—mountain trapper guys) who managed to catch and remove many of them from the area—billing her one time for six otters (and one possum but he didn’t charge her for the possum). Then he spread coyote urine all over the place and a couple of years did go by otter-free. How do they collect coyote urine, I wonder. And in the absent of coyote urine, will Black Lab urine do? But again, how does one get a quantity of it to spread around?

But I digress.

I recommend that everyone out there who has a daughter make sure she marries a carpenter. They are a necessity, believe me. Marry one yourself if you can, but you know, guys just don’t live forever . . . .

Anyway, my daughter and her husband stayed overnight at the house the other night to screen off the otter area again, and do some other small repairs. The next morning they were laying around in their jammies and who should show up bright and early except sisters #1 and #2, with a realtor in tow. All were shocked and surprised to see each other.

I guess my World War III flurry of e-mails didn’t open up the channels of communication because they had told me nothing about their plans to meet with the realtor so I could be there. My darling spitfire of a daughter—she held her tongue relatively. Sister #1 said “You’re mad because we didn’t tell your mom about this, aren’t you. Well, we’re going to, I promise.” As soon as they left my daughter called me at work and we discussed how awful they are for a few hours, and when I got home there was an e-mail from Sister #1 telling me about what she’d learned from the realtor. Nothing that I didn’t already know—they can’t estimate value because each property there is so unique, but based on the tax assessment . . . A nonanswer actually. And the house needs to be cleaned out of all but the most basic furniture—another thing we already knew but I wanted to wait until my mom dies to sell it because selling it will break her heart and mind completely and since I’m the only one who sees her regularly, well, that will be tough to watch.

Yesterday, Saturday, my mom and I discussed it as I told her what they were doing. I offered to make an appointment with her lawyer where, if he judged her competent enough, she could remove them from the POA. She read her POA for the first time since the stroke and was shocked to see that we are completely in control of everything about her. But, amazingly, at the end of our discussion she suddenly let go and said okay, let them sell the house (the money will go to her, of course, a fact I’m not sure the sisters understand). There are still things I can’t figure out like where are we going to put everything my mother wants out of the house into her studio-sized apartment where she now lives. That’s one of those things I just can’t think about right now. I will tell her to take it up with the sisters.

But when she said let them do it, a huge weight fell off me. My back and stomach stopped hurting. She knows. She didn’t die or go into a vegetative state. The worst is over. I will not assist with any more cleaning or repairing. I will let them do what they want to do. And I will let them do the work of it.

One more hurdle—I have to tell my daughter this. Not looking forward to that.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

my miasma

I wonder if anyone else has this occasionally, a malignant miasma settles upon me and my life becomes nothing but frustration.

I will be chugging along, minding my business, and suddenly all my contacts with other people become toxic, they take offense at anything I say, every project I attempt will contain invisible errors that result in great inconvenience to everyone and make me look stoopid, and friends all of a sudden do not like me.

I’ve once again been dumped at work by a man I had no relationship with (except outrageous flirting on his part while I continued to joke back with him). This has gone on for years. This guy is funny and I love funny, and so every time we saw each other, a lot of funny dialogue went on. All of a sudden though, when he had to come to my office to get faxes, instead of coming in and chatting while waiting for them to come in, I saw his arm snake around the door frame while the rest of his body remained outside the room. I laughed and said “what’s that all about,” and he curtly said “I’m in a hurry,” and ran off with his fax. Since then he has not spoken to me and most times sent other people from his section to pick up his faxes. I mean CONSPICUOUSLY not speaking with me. Once I realized he was not speaking with me, of course, I stopped speaking to him, and when we pass in the hall I look everywhere except at him (I don’t know what he does with his eyes, because I am not looking at him, you understand). This whole thing seems stupid and inconsequential but my old insecure self is hurt by this and wonders why people think it’s okay to treat me this way. It feels very grade school and hurtful and as usual, instead of wondering what’s wrong with him, I can only focus on what’s wrong with me that people treat me this way. My boss even noticed the change in this guy’s behavior and asked me what’s going on with him. I don’t know. But it hurts, and it’s embarrassing to be put in this position because it has caused several co-workers to look at me curiously.

Then my daughter and her family were planning to come to my mom’s house this weekend and help me entertain her. That got cancelled on Friday, as she was pressured instead to attend the graduation of her husband’s niece and a visit from her stepdaughter. This was all understandable and things I agreed she should do, but the thought of another lonely weekend killed me and I was on the verge of tears all day. In a later e-mail she joked she’d be down there next on her birthday weekend and she’d like me to fix her favorite fried chicken (Texas style—fried with lots of salt—I admit I do it well as I was taught by her father, the only downside is that one must stand there in the steam and heat of the stove and actually oversee the cooking). First I bravely e-mailed back that I was disappointed but I would live, but when she wrote me later about the chicken cooking, I couldn’t help but write back that no I don’t feel like jumping up to cook you chicken when I’m devastated about your cancellation and if you don’t watch it, you’re getting fried frog legs (I understand these are somewhat of a luxury item and fancy people actually like them, but my daughter would be horrified at the thought).

Even my boss seemed short with me—although truthfully his life right now is even worse than mine as he has two daughters trying to get married in the same short period, at different locations, and they need money, money, money, and will he call around and reserve all the venues for all the numerous get-togethers that will now happen at his expense in money and time.

Then the last phone call of the day at work on Friday—I was rude to someone who had no role in this whatever and with whom I often need to communicate and cooperate, and now of course he’s mad at me.

Then my barrista had the misfortune to ask me what I was doing this weekend and I could feel my face fall and tears nearly came out and I couldn’t think of a thing to say except nothin. My weekends SUCK. And I could tell she could tell and now she’ll probably be scared to be friendly with me again.

Here’s what saved me from completely disintegrating at work—one of our section chiefs came in to my boss’s office very upset because she had asked one of her employees (an old dude who is the only one left who’s worked there longer than I have) to do something different in a particular case, and he exploded into rage and told her among many things that she’s the worst boss he’s ever had to work with in all these years. She was very upset and hurt by that. And me, hearing her tell the story to my boss, immediately felt better about everything, as if his outburst defused my impending one. I mean, I saw crazy-stupid there and was able to decide not to go that route because I realize that my co-workers and boss would probably not understand my miasma problem. Close call though.

Luckily, I woke up Saturday morning feeling as if the miasma was gone. My mom and I got along fine and even had fun. But I’ll have to see how things are at work before I’ll know if it’s really lifted.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

the papers

A few days ago I got a hankering to hear Shawn Coombs tribute to Big—based on the Police’s “I’ll Be Watching You.” Now I was never a fan of Biggie Smalls, [in fact, I’d never really heard of him until he was shot]--I’m not much into rap except for Eminem and Kid Rock, but one day in the desert that my life had become after BABNDM (before-and-after-but-not-during-marriage boyfriend) and I broke up [well, truthfully, he left and I broke up], but back to the story, I opened my back door to find a CD laying on the porch and it was that one. So I threw it in the player, and there was that song “I’ll be missing you,” and I hoped it was from BABNDM and not from another guy who at the time liked me better than I liked him. This was just like BABNDM—to do something that would forever leave me wondering—was it him and chock full of meaning, or a nothing-to- get-excited-about thing.

Anyway, the other day, I found it amongst my somewhat alphabetically arranged CDs and played it in the car and then realized that as of June third this year, it has been 10 years since BABNDM died of a massive, sudden, fatal heart attack. And it was June third, the day that I found and played that CD. And hearing it gave me a only a completely manageable nostalgia to hear it—not crippling sorrow like before.

I’ve been busy, recovering from some dental crap that I allowed to happen against my better judgment. I had a bad feeling going into it and predictably it WAS tough to get over it and took much longer than it should have, has made me HATE yogurt although it’s the only thing that it doesn’t hurt to eat, and cost me a week away from work so last week was really tough, getting caught up. But normality is visible in the distance now, and I lost a few pounds and now have jeans I can wear even while sitting down which makes the whole thing almost worth it.

I also caused and conducted a World War III with my two sisty uglers—we exchanged many e-mails full of resentment (mine) and ignorance (theirs)—apparently they were not aware over the last 18 months that I needed help with errand-running and such having to do with maintenance of my mother’s house and garden and weekly visits to her in the assisted living place where she now resides. They felt it would be easier for my mother to adjust to her new life situation without them occasionally visiting her—wouldn’t that just remind her of all she’d lost and reopen the wound?—I was of the opinion that only interaction with people she loved would enable her to maintain her personality—if I have to be the only one involved, I wanted her to still be the mother I knew (and complained about for my entire life, to be sure, but still . . . ) and not the empty shell that some of the residents there appear to be. However, since they disagreed with that theory, and had resentments of their own against my mother—they ignored her and had not visited with her since November 2008.

They awoke from their stupor six months ago when I removed my mother’s important papers [property deeds, etc.] from a safety deposit box at a bank she no longer used, and since she didn’t have a safety deposit box at her new bank, and it was not open on weekends and I cannot get to her town on the weekdays because I am at work on those days, I put the papers into my safety deposit box at my bank and e-mailed them about that.

Oh my goodness, this woke them up, let me tell you. How dare I do such a thing, I was trying to keep these papers from them and that is ILLEGAL [we are all three named on a durable power of attorney]. I said fine, one of you open a safety deposit box in her new bank just to show you’re willing to do SOMETHING, and I’ll put the papers in there. I didn’t hear from them again, and I completely forgot about the papers until a week or so ago when they discovered I had not opened a safety deposit box in the new bank, and again they wrote me saying this is ILLEGAL and I’m trying to keep them out of her affairs.

So I took another day off work and opened a box in my mother’s new bank, put the papers there and e-mailed them when that was done so they could go there and sign for their keys to it [and if they had time, to please F themselves]. They got right on that and went there the very next morning [I doubt that they Fd themselves as instructed though]. And then in a flurry of e-mails, I completely emptied myself of all my resentment toward them and they responded with surprise at my anger. The final message from me was to let me know when they have questions or concerns and I will answer—but not to wait until I’m not angry anymore because that is a state I never expect to attain again. Our relationship as sisters is over but at its best, it was never good anyway. It is not a loss to me but a relief.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


No need to join Jenny Craig. Or even work out. Just agree to have some periodontal work done that you’ve been refusing for the last 10 years, actually—to your own surprise—go to the appointment, survive it and return home again with impossible instructions (dentist-like people LOVE to give impossible instructions—answer my questions while my hands are in your mouth and my wrist is covering your nostrils and continue to breathe through and around the dental dam and then, before you leave the office, pay me a huge amount of money—we take Visa; take those wonderful drugs we had you pick up last week with food even though we have left you no surface in your mouth that is not covered in lacerated skin and stitches but otherwise these painkillers will ruin your stomach and then you’ll be miserable there as well).

I don’t know, I tried to shop in prep for this and ended up with three cans of concentrated orange juice and two packages of dried gourmet-ish soups. I thought that would be enough. Now I find it will be four weeks before all stitches are removed. Then they said well orange juice will hurt your mouth—try protein drinks like Ensure, yogurt, etc. But they told me this as they were releasing me from the chair, and going to back to the store then was totally beyond me. Besides, when I leave the dentist, no matter how small the procedure, I always look like my grandma on her worst day and weak and helpless and just can’t do it then. So, the first day I ate two eggs (at the doc’s insistence—she believes protein is the path to healing). This is how I ate them—tipped my head way back, put a teaspoon full of scrambled egg at the back of my tongue, and just swallowed hoping it went down my esophagus and not my windpipe. I ate two spoonsful and was exhausted. They also said I could eat mashed potatoes that way. I ate that also, same method, same amount. Exhausted. Did not have the energy to allow my stomach to have a negative effect to the ibuprofen and vicodin—all was fine and the pain never got a chance to come full-on. Only needed that one Vicodin, damn it—I was disappointed. But the Ibuprofen I’m taking is in a huge mg amount I didn’t even know existed.

Next day I tried my orange juice—it did not hurt—it was GOOD—I believe I will live now because I believe vitamin C is the path to healing. If I decide I want heal, that is, in spite of the fact that I now have Jay Leno’s chin—the work they did was a tissue transplant from the roof of my mouth to my front bottom jaw to repair the gum recession. So I not only have this gigantic chin, I also look as if I am enjoying a huge wad of tobacco. The swelling is down a little today—day two after the procedure. I have three more days before I have to go back to work so I hope I don’t still look like this then.

An ironic thing about all this—the dentist and periodontist think this recession is due to orthodontia I had way back when—correcting an underbite moved the roots of the bottom teeth too close to the surface. Way to undo all that effort, I guess.

I’m sorry to tell you all this. I must tell someone though—I work for pathologists and LOVE this sort of talk; my daughter however screams and runs the other way saying she’s sympathetic but NO DETAILS!!!!!! She gets all squeamish.

So I just went to the store and stalked up on yogurt (I’m going to give that bifidus regularis a try {all credit to Adventures in Cheryll-Land on MSN Spaces]—I totally agree with her that it must be nonsense but I guess I’ll find out now.

I feel surprisingly industrious and energetic—mowed and weed-eated my yard yesterday and today mopped a couple of floors, but after that I’m ready for the rest of the day off.

I must say goodbye to “dammit Jane,” who says she’s done with her blog. I’m sorry about that—I’m not sure it’s fair to make us love you and then leave us [and several of my favorites have done that lately] but I do know what it’s like to feel like you’ve said all there is to say. Still . . . don’t do that.

Well, time for another pill. And a nap. And some people tell me I don't know how to have a good time!

Friday, April 24, 2009

I keep getting lost on my way to zen

There are some things that really affect me in a good way—the smell of real lavender, a Japanese garden, and pictures of the type like one branch of a cherry blossom tree. I have always kind of kidded about wanting an Asian décor in my house, but don’t know how I can get there unless I get rid of a ton of stuff that I love, but are the total opposite of what’s in Asian décor. Like a million little faux pigs, laboratory glassware (the tiny test tubes with glass stoppers—the big beakers—who wouldn’t love those and steal one of each from the workplace—I’m still glad I did that because now mostly plastic containers are used. There’s also a kitchy mermaid lamp that my mother had—she goes with nothing in my house but is so beautiful in an art deco kind of way that—well, she’s here to stay. And there might be a few thousand tiny miniature things carved from one kind of rock or other, or wood.

One day I decided I must buy some fabrics and make some shiny brocade pillow covers and curtains for my bedroom—fabric with a beautiful Asian theme. I found some fabric that called my name, bought all of it, and sewed it all up as curtains and pillow covers. Stood back and looked—and realized, fluffy curtains are NOT included in Asian design—what was I thinking? And the color—deep, shiny olive embroidered with birds, flowers and Asian words—in the particular light in my bedroom—it’s not impressive. But after spending all that time at the sewing machine, I’m reluctant to start over.

Also, my mother gave me a dress she’d bought on a long-ago trip to Japan. It was always too small for her (and WAY too small for me), but the fabric—so beautiful—in a soft yellow-gold with embroidered birds and flowers quite similar to the designs on my previously made pillows and curtains. I took out the darts on the yellow dress, and bought a big body pillow, and stuffed it in the dress thinking I would mix it with my previously made pillows.

However, the yellow body pillow, even with the darts removed, resembles nothing more than a beheaded, disarmed/legged female torso with a still enviable waistline. Back to the drawing board and sewing machine—but I have to wait until I’m inspired again. Perhaps this is why I didn’t go into interior design.

But I did find this plant the other day, at the grocery store. It’s so beautiful it made me all happy. The name on the tag of it was not familiar to me, but the flowers are—I think it’s really a variation of lobelia. When I can bear to, I’ll plant it outside and hope it spreads.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Susan Boyle

Well, I guess I needed some good news really bad, because when I saw Susan Boyle singing "I Dreamed a Dream," it just brought me to tears. I've watched it several times since then and it makes me cry every time! But in a good way. Even though it is the saddest song ever.

Thank you, Susan, for that bit of relief from all the bad stuff.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A message for Miz Angie

Miz Angie, I just saw your comment on David's site about your dad when he was in the nursing home. It reminded me of something I’ve wondered about with my mom. In the early weeks after her stroke, once she got well enough to leave the hospital, she spent about three months in a nursing home—supposedly for “rehab” but the “rehab” they had there was laughable—it was near the holiday season and there were many days when she didn’t get the session because certain people were off duty. And when she did get it, it was still ridiculous, because they wouldn’t let her stand, try to improve her balance or anything useful, and the rehab consisted of moving her arms maybe. While she was in that nursing home, she always had stories to tell us of the things that would happen at night—she would be taken upstairs or downstairs to be left in a strange room (it was a one-story building), in her wheelchair, while everyone participated in sexual behavior. She’d feel exhausted from being in the chair all night, and scared of being taken there again. All of the staff participated in these parties, as did some of the patients, willing or not. Even she herself did—although she explained, well, you know how powerful sex is—it’s not that they find me attractive, they’ll just do it to anybody. And she’d try to tell us the stories, but stop anytime any of the staff was near for fear they would hear. She promised to tell us more when she was safely away from there.

At the same time, there were daytime staff she really liked and enjoyed. One of them was a lovely young speech therapist/dietician who helped my mom with her meals. They fell in love with each other immediately because the dietician had grown up in my mother’s home town. She begged us, as it became clear my mom wasn’t going to die soon, to get her out of there before she became “institutionalized.” We were able to do that, with our short-lived plan of taking her home, each of us taking certain days of the week to be with her, along with other women coming in on the days we couldn’t be there. Well, after only two weeks at home she had a crisis of falling blood pressure and fainting and nearly dying, firemen and ambulance rides, etc., and it was clear she was too unstable physically so we had to look for something else. Luckily there was a vacancy in the assisted living community where she is now.

Her strange stories stopped immediately upon leaving the first nursing home. I asked her once, after a week or two in the new place, if any of that stuff was going on there, and she said no. She likes it there, she admits, although of course she’d rather turn the clock back to where she could live at home independently.

For me, there’s always that small part of me that fears “what if what she’s saying is/was true?” Too horrifying to think about too much. Still, I wonder . . . Isn't it strange virtually all patients in nursing homes tell these stories.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

is it panic or reality?

I made myself a promise yesterday to rededicate myself to my home and garden—I’ve done nothing outside since the last time I mowed sometime in September I think. Since then we’ve had this crazy weather of snow, ice, or a few nice days during the week which collapses into snow, rain, or whatever during the weekends when I would normally do some yard work. Of course, my Saturday’s are taken with visiting my mother, so no work gets done then. But Sunday dawns, and the plans I had to clean and garden seem impossible to fit in and I’m lucky if I can get to the store and shop for groceries. And today, a new Sunday, here I am sitting here at the computer while the precious minutes pass.

Last week a co-worker stopped by my desk and talked about how she was getting so stressed out with her job. She works in a field where absolute accuracy is required—every tiny error is counted and shown back to her, and she is counseled. As they do this, her self-confidence plunges and she becomes more fearful of making errors, and thus makes more of them, and the cycle accelerates and continues.

I myself was frustrated with my own work at the time, having arranged a visit and payment for such from a consulting physician and later finding out the paperwork I’d done was obsolete and it was now done completely differently and no one had told me that. I was very upset—I don’t like wasting my time doing things wrong, nor do I like wasting other people’s time, and am embarrassed about the delay in the visitor receiving their pay. I was insulted that no one thought to tell me about the change—am I so unimportant in their thinking that I don’t need to know new stuff? And behind this anger is the fear that the difficulty of my job is becoming more than I can handle—am I losing the mental ability to do it all now that I’m getting so old.

Anyhoo, as I and the other lady talked, we decided we needed to rededicate ourselves to something other than our work, because it’s really not supposed to be that important. In the hours outside of the eight we spend at the desk, we should have a life and other things we are interested in. In her case, she’d for a few months begun a fitness program and was losing weight. She did great for awhile and looked great but it dropped by the wayside and here she is again, having gained it all back, feeling the effects of high blood pressure and threats of impending diabetes. And me, instead of maintaining my yard and house and doing new projects, I’m sleeping constantly or worrying and watching the dustbunnies take over.

And my plans to get things done—they just don’t get done because I am overcome with bitterness and sadness that my sisters have abandoned my mother and me, and I’m doing all my mother’s financial stuff and trying to keep up with my own. And at this point, that is all that’s getting done—our bills are getting paid. Getting the mail at night is a chore that I dread—the junk mail I have to plow through every day to get to the important stuff—it fills me with anger and resentment. My mother gave to every charity—a little bit to be sure, but now that she’s not contributing, they are sending her tons of pleas, with address labels that need to be shredded and I hate having to spend the time shredding all that crap before I can even write the checks needed. By the time that’s done each day, I don’t want to do anything else but sleep.

A recurring thought pounds through my head at all times—no wonder I’m crazy. In a long blog that I deleted awhile back, I described my life from the beginning—in a family that was textbook in its construction—I was the scapegoat—the youngest of three kids, and a narcissistic mother and absent father. I should not be surprised or hurt by my sisters’ abandonment now—that has always been their way. I should not have expected anything else, but I remain astounded at their ability to be so cruel.

Truly though, I’m not just thinking about myself now. I am so frightened of the current economic problems—the horrible losses that people are enduring, and not enduring—the rash of suicides and murder/suicides that are happening. The horror! And the bonuses paid out to AIG executives amidst this horror.

I spoke with my son by phone a week ago—telling him not to lose hope—reminding him that the reason my mother ended up a relatively rich woman was because of the trauma she and her mother experienced during the Great Depression. That the reason I’m not financially ruined now is because the trauma of my childhood made me so cautious that I am now okay financially, and developed a work ethic (to put it simply, I knew that nobody else could be trusted to be there for me); neither of my sisters had that and both now have to live on the meager provisions of public programs. I tell him this because of an unspeakable fear that he might, if he lost his job, feel so desperate that he might take that way out. He’s never said anything that should make me think he would do that, but my nighttime thoughts go wild sometimes. He has long lived away from us, in his (deceased) father’s part of the country, and he is fundamentally religious and you know, that is not a fluffy, feel-good type of philosophy to follow.

And today I wake to new snow, so no yard work (yippee—not my fault this time), but instead of cleaning house, I’m writing this, and know I’ve got it good, but there seems to be no bottom to the bottom anymore, so that’s nothing I can depend on. It’s not that I’m unsympathetic to others—I’m so empathetic that I’m feeling their fear as well as my own. And I can no longer think of anything comforting to say to anybody.

Here’s what I hope to do today if I ever get up from this chair. The only things I can do—drag my vacuum around, scrub the uncarpeted areas on my knees, because I’m in this for the exercise not the convenience, try to get to the grocery store, and check yesterday’s mail for the daily bills and pile of junk mail. And try to make it until some mindless crap comes on TV and I can lose myself in it. Such as Celebrity Apprentice, which I am watching closely in hopes that Clint Black will take off his hat or say something. Surprisingly I am liking Tom Green whose humor I’ve always hated, but he seems like a sweet guy although a little annoying.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Oh Savannah . . .

So, last week, I’m sitting in Savannah, . . . .at a wrought-iron table in a charming courtyard at a motel with my daughter. I’m here again, at the yearly teaching conference for my job. I got out of this last year because of my mother’s illness, but here it is again. And in Savannah, where I always wanted to go. When I complained to my daughter that the last meeting I went to was hard to endure because of the snobbiness of the other attendees, she said she’d come with me. We got there three days before the meeting started so we could see the sights and we did just that and I love Savannah and want to live there now. I’m thinking, heat, schmeat—I can stand it for the privilege of living here. Then during one of the house tours the guide mentions that at least twice, nearly the whole town was wiped out by Yellow Fever, so I realize, okay, it’s not just the sweating that’s the problem. Our plane landed near midnight so we were driven to the city in the dark. Returning to the airport the following weekend, on our way home, we leave in daylight and I see the beauty is restricted to downtown Savannah. Still—I love it so. The numerous ghost stories—if not the spirits of the people who owned the beautiful houses we toured, then it was the spirits of the civil war dead already in the ground on which the houses were built. We went to the cemetery in town, and read the gravestones and found that love (and sorrow) endures past death, if only in the words on those stones.

The day before the meeting started, the other conference attendees started to arrive. One comes up to our table there in the courtyard of the motel. I recognize her face, but don’t remember her name. However, I say, “Hi, I’m ____________ . . .” and she says “Yes, I’ve met you several times,” and turns her attention to my daughter. I continue “ . . . and this is my daughter, _______________.” Oh!, she says, surprised that I have such a lovely relative. And we all chatted for awhile even though I was thinking “OMG!” about her rudeness.

Now I can see myself saying to someone “Yes, I’ve met you several times,” but I would follow that up with at the very least, “How are you?” Miss middle-aged mean girl apparently felt no need to do that. The rudeness was so blatant, there was no choice for me except to act as if it didn’t happen. I should not care, but of course, the encounter lives on and repeats itself in my mind and I try to think of what I should have said. Most of all though, I’m glad my daughter inherited the charisma my mother has and people are drawn to her.

In spite of shit like that, my daughter and I had fun. We walked till our feet were numb or painful. For the last three days, during the time I was stuck in meetings, my daughter saw what was closed or unavailable earlier. It was fab.

The conference leader recommended the she crab soup at one of the best restaurants there. Sounds faintly racey to me, that word “she.” Why not “lady crab soup,” but we went there and ordered it. First I asked what’s in it, and the very young waitress said crab, of course, named various spices, and roe. I thought out loud, well, if it weren’t for the roe—I wasn’t sure I was up to that. She smiled and said “Well, that’s what makes it ‘she.’” Can you see the roe, I asked? No, she assured me—it’s mixed in. So we braved it. It was worth it. And we did not explain to my daughter what roe is until after we ate it.

The day before we left for the conference, we celebrated my granddaughter’s birthday at The Great Wolf Lodge. This is a huge complex, with several swimming pools (one with waves where everybody bounces around in inner tubes). And giant, giant waterslides. I’ve always wanted to go on a waterslide, but just never go the opportunity before. My grandson and son-in-law went on it with me, misleading me by saying we’re going on the next to largest, not the scarey one. However, that was a lie. It was the biggest, scariest one. And more fun than I expected to have ever again. I arrived there late, because I drove several miles in the wrong direction and had to retrace for an hour or so, to get to the right place. I was frantic with frustration about that when I arrived, but that waterslide erased all that stress immediately. You go down the slide in a rubber raft, not with just your body, and the raft has handles that you can hang on to, but my grandson thought the handles just reduce the thrill of it all and I realized later that he was just a loose flying object when he didn’t hang on, but we all survived.

I have enlisted my daughter and her friend to help me develop a bathing suit for people like me who want to swim but don’t want to reveal anything. I’m picturing something like a wetsuit, with legs down to midthigh (I’m never going to submit to waxing, so you must be able to see my point). Short sleeves would be okay, I guess but longer ones would be optional, and no deep cleavage. I got this idea when my granddaughter used her gymnastic costume as a swimsuit last summer—it was adorable with little-boy shorts legs.

However, there were many many grandparents there, wearing bathing suites, and taking their grandchildren on the slides. So, I got over it and tried everything they had there.

So all in all, I had eight days of mostly fun. Can’t believe it’s over. Back to the grindstone. But I’m happy and fortunate to still have a grindstone to return to.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Oh my gosh—I just realized that, if we hadn’t divorced after 16 years, and if he weren’t dead, yesterday would have been my 45th wedding anniversary.
Is it just me, or is Valentine’s Day at the very least sad to the majority of us? Attached is a picture of my last Valentine gift from my pre- and post-marriage companion. I blogged previously about this mysterious animal (is it a bunny? A mouse? A kitty? ). It was like our relationship—I was always in love, but I never knew whether he was or not . I lived on the edge of yes, maybe, and the precipice of, are you kidding, love is not uncertainty! However, time resolved this conundrum by taking him also, and so I’ll never have an firm answer to it all.
The bunny/mouse/kitty is all that remains.