Identify what is most important )0( Eliminate everything else
The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world. Dr. Paul Farmer
The suffering of others is not alleviated when no one knows about it.
There is no one right way to live. Daniel Quinn Ishmael
The only thing that you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right sort of people.
We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be. Kurt Vonnegut

Thursday, May 25, 2017

short notes

Short notes

I am taking charge of my grandsons for the summer.  We will have four week days to sleep in late, play, go to the trampoline place, wear out the parks, take miles of walks, do lots of artsy-fartsy stuff.  We made leather pouches last Saturday and all I did was to punch holes for the little one and thread both of their needles.  Older grandson used a real leather awl for the first time and did a great job.  No one bled, and the pouches are so cool.  I am still working on the leather case I began for my cell phone.

So, lots of art stuff and science.  We will have time to do larger projects for all the science things we already do and all of us have ideas for expanding, especially making rockets.  Yay.

They will go to daycare at their school on the day that I volunteer at the food pantry.  I could take them along, but I can see how ultimately boring that would be for them, even if they do not.

A week ago, after food pantry gig I found a letter from the IRS in the mailbox.  Seems that the folk who did my taxes last year forgot to include retirement payments and the taxes I pre-paid on those payments and I owe them $2200 in three weeks.  I can file an amended tax return, but they want the taxes due first.  It is not the first time that I have been cash-strapped, but it is still a pain.  I have never owed anyone anything.  Ever.  Temporary glitch, and the woman I spoke to at the government office was very helpful in figuring out what went awry.  Anyway, I scraped it all together and it will be mailed next week after I see the investment folk.

I am in the process of making changes in how I am living.  One of my friends at work asked me today if she could ask me some questions.  Well, sure.  She told me that she has noticed that I have been behaving differently for the past couple of months, and she is correct, I have been. 

She wanted to talk about it and I shared that coming to understand that this summer will most likely be the last time that my grandbabies will be of an age where they really want to spend so much time with me.  They are both going to sleep-away camp this year.  Thankfully they are not playing sports this season.  I am not sure my butt and back could handle another summer on the bleachers.    And, part of making this a summer of significance for all of us includes me, my health, my physical abilities and all that jazz. 

My daughter and I went out for lunch last week and I shared all of this with her, emphasizing my personal concerns.  Who knows what my poor heart is going to do next.  It has been behaving less than optimally; I am taking more meds and carry emergency meds with me at all times.  You know, by next summer I may want to move into a senior community, not drive so much and maybe even really and truly retire.  I just do not know and am smart enough to not blithely believe that things will not change.  I am truly old now and whilst I can do whatever I want, those abilities could diminish in ways not to my liking. 

Best to be aware and live in the moment more fully than I do now.  Part of that is letting go of a couple of friends, although, as I think of it, if I am willing and wanting to not be in relationship of any kind with them I guess that they are already not real friends.  Anyway, I am breaking up with them.  It feels good and healthy, which is the proof of it being the right thing to do.

I sign a new lease next week on this flat and as of today I was still looking for a new place to live.  Surely not what my landlord wants and I am going to try to explain to him that I am going to continue to look for somewhere else to live.  My health is bad enough that I could easily break the lease, but I want to reassure him that I will not bail on my financial obligation to a lease, but I am pretty sure that he will not be all that reassured.  Tough.

I am having periods of extreme depression and stabs of anxiety, so it is time to have another appointment with my internist to discuss meds again.  I need blood tests anyway, so might as well get it done all at once.  I am forgoing a mammogram this summer.  Just do not want the extra expense, but my feelings about that may change when I am once again properly medicated.

I am at a standstill with my therapy.  I have done so much freaking healing and growing this past year with my still new-ish therapist.  The stumble is that it is time to talk about the worst of the worst of that other life and I am so not willing to go there.  It just seems like going backwards to have to share any of that stuff.  Maybe I will.  Probably I will decide to not share.  To talk or even think about any of that takes me right back to those days, reliving them again and again.  There is no buffer, there is not any safe way to do that.  I sometimes think that I might be able to do it under deep medication, but then what do I do with all those memories back, and not simply back, but fully realized and smack dab in my daily life again.  I fought so hard to heal this far.  I am just not sure that I can, even though I understand that if I want to be truly healthy and fully recover that all that mess has to be addressed and dealt with.  Probably will not.

I am having all my hair cut off next week.  I want hair short enough so that I can shower, run my fingers through that clean hair and do nothing else.  The blow dryer is not my friend.  Conditioners and other products are not my friends.  I am not even all that crazy about my comb.

Monday, May 15, 2017

reading and books, but mostly reading

This came to me via another person, and I am sharing it because I sort of kind of only partly agree with the premise.

I agree that it helps to reduce angst by being choosy about what books I choose to read.  I read every day for at least a few hours and am recently reading all night to find out what happens next, what new twists and paths will be taken by the characters and reacting with wonder each time.  The book is Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett.  It has been recommended to me many times and the only reason I am reading it now is because I do not have time to pick up my reserved titles at the library, but I bought this copy for a dollar whilst I was volunteering at our library's recent book sale.

But, that is not my point.  Maybe it is, but one of the things the author was doing was no longer reading Young Adult books, and I think that is a damn shame.

That means she has missed the treasures that are:
Anna and the Swallow Man, by Gavriel Savit. 
With Malice,by Eileen Cook. 
Symptoms of Being Human, by Jeff Garvin.
The Book Thief, by Markus Zusaki.
Between, by Jessica Warman.
The Giver, by Lois Lowry.
I cannot leave out the Maximum Ride books by James Patterson.

When I do not fancy any adult books, I re-read the Newbery books.  I have read all of them and until I left that other life, owned a copy of each.  Many are out of print, some are no longer available even in libraries, but every one is worth reading, by people of all ages.  I have yet to enchant my grandsons with any of those books, except for one that my oldest grandson was required to read for a class assignment.

This is just the tip (and the only books that I can remember right now) that are just as important as re-reading Ulysses

If you are going to find and read books that will hold meaning or learning or help you to gain what you need to be the person you want to be, perhaps supposed to be, you have to be open to and kind of trust that books you never would have considered reading are going to do exactly that.  YA or something else, you just never know what will come along.

Do I end up with dreck?  More than I would prefer, but even those books have led me to similar topics, new authors, the rediscovery of old, favorite authors and absolutely new stuff that I never imagined what out there, just waiting for me.  And, I have long abandoned the belief that if I begin a book that I must finish it.  What an unexpected pleasure and relief that was!

As for classics, I know what and where they are and I have pretty much read all that I care to right now.  Who knows what next week will toss in my path.

This is only about fiction.

Rock on...we will, we will read you!

Friday, April 7, 2017

i watched a video thing

It was some guy talking about his drug use and how it took the death of his mother to help him change his life.  It was about his regrets and not making sure that the people about whom he cared knew it, not only by his words, more importantly about his actions and behaviors.
He was giving a speech at a school, looked like high school aged students.  And, even fraught with all of the personal healing and being honest about his life and the effect he had on other people, and even considering that when people share this kind of stuff you have to keep in mind (especially as those on the receiving end of speeches) that us sharers do this as much, if not more, for ourselves.  
True, and there is no explaining away that we do things like this because they help us heal and hopefully avoid making the same choices that brought us to disaster.  So.
This is not me thinking about drugs, although it is likely that some of my closest friends may struggle with some kind of substance issue. Mine is food. Always has been.

But, watching this just now brought me to thinking about all of the stuff that has happened in the world in the past few days. Sort of the culmination of how apprehensive and scattered and powerless I have been feeling for months now.

I am not alone. Even people who hold differing views and beliefs than mine are coming to understand...although I think that acceptance is some distance and time away...that our country is in trouble.

My country is in trouble and I feel compelled to change how I am living in it, amongst my fears and the uncertainty that seems ever more evident every single day.

So, even if I were powerful in some greater-than-self way, I can change only the things that are within my personal sphere of influence and that means my family and friends, my community, my work and all the rest, and I am going to take every opportunity to make sure that the people around me know how much they mean to me.

And, so, that is what I am going to change. I am going to amp-up how I interact with everyone I stumble upon. If I love you, you are going to know it and be reminded of that every time I see you.

You have been warned.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


When you live where I do, the weather is a reliable source of conversation.  We often experience two or more seasons in a single day.  More likely is to have weather conditions that are close to expected, with the expectation that the usual will soon change to something else.

February was unusually warm.  Off came the winter garments, but they were not cleaned and put away for the next winter cycle because we know that cold and snow, ice and sleet and winter thunder storms are still on their way.

To no one's surprise, the icy stuff returned.  Up here we had over a foot of snow, although I think neighboring areas had much less.  I really do not know because I do not care.  Whatever wintry weather we get now is bad enough and it is irritating when the next city or county fares better.  The lucky and hated ducks.

Not hated.  More like envied.

Except for the pharmacy making a mistake in my medications and not being able to exchange the wrong stuff for the stuff I need, I am fortunate enough to not need to leave the house.  But, these storms have lowered the temperature and increased the winds so that this place feels like the inside of a refrigerator.  I am using the heat, but the drafts are nearly unbeatable.  Time to drag out the area rugs and duct tape them to the walls again.  All that balmy weather let me to roll them up and store them away. 

Just plain dumb.  I know better.

I have two medical exchanging the mis-meds...tomorrow morning, and I will be able to enjoy the sunshine, because the end (at least for now) of the snow and all that cold stuff, brought in a weather system that is relatively clear.  No more overcast skies for a while.

For now I am going to bundle up on the sofa, away from this corner of the house draft, after I put out some nuts and cereals for the squirrels and whomever can make it up to the porch.  Those critters have to be disliking this new cold weather more than I do.

This photo show the lie of the forecast for less than half an inch of snow.  It is just over 12 inches.  Winter wonderland my ass.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

no more cats for me

Cat sitting was wonderful, but what I thought was simply a return of my cough is allergies.  To cats.  Probably to other critters as well, but I do not have the funds to do all the testing and then whatever, if any, treatments are available.

The diagnosis of allergy was made by my doctor and myself.  No testing.  No extra money, no testing.  My symptoms meet all of the criteria, and since I have always had varying degrees of allergy to animal dander, and most especially to the proteins in cat saliva, it seems clear that being without a cat for nearly three and a half years has allowed my body to lose whatever tolerance I had to my own cats.  If you are exposed to your own cat, in your own environment, the allergic response lessens until you stop noticing the whole mess.  Decades of living with cats kept my symptoms subdued.

It just seems so unfair.  I know that I have been waffling about adopting another cat, and all my fussing about the hair shedding, but I felt that I would eventually get a cat. 

With the allergy issue, well, that pretty much eliminates birds, bunnies and rodents.  Testing would reveal is that is true or not, but no testing.  A tank of fish would be fine, and I like fish and would enjoy watching them, but I am sure that I would quickly resent the dedication needed to maintain healthy fish and fish environment.

So, whining and wishing officially over.  No pets for me.

I started volunteering at a nursing facility this past week.  I met the volunteer coordinator when she and her assistant were having lunch last week.  It is a place I go on my thrift shop volunteer days; lunch and then work.  The short story is that there were the two of them to wrangle and provide food for elderly people, many of them my age, and since I go to this restaurant every week, they know me well and allowed me to help the nursing home staff.

We talked a bit and I called their facility right after my own lunchtime and left a message for K, that I was interested in doing something there.  I met with her on Monday, right before my doctor appointment and she had a need for someone to teach cribbage, a card game.  I played it a lifetime ago, and said that I would try to teach myself to play it again.  K told me that I did not have to be great at playing, that what she really needed was someone to mediate all the fighting the cribbage group had every week.  Sort of rule-focal person.

I watched some videos on the game and knew before the evening was over that there was not any way that I could be fluent enough to resolve any of the bickering, which apparently became quite rowdy at times.

So, I am going to call bingo during happy hour.  The residents get to have pizza or some other snack of their choosing, soft and hard drinks and play bingo for fake money that they get to spend on some kind of thing, I think they called it an auction.


I have two days where I have to leave the house, and once I stop being all cranky about having to actually leave the house, I am planning, with the help of nicer weather, to find at least two more reasons to get outside every week.  Four days out of seven is fine with me.

Monday, February 20, 2017

just home from

cat and house sitting.

I learned several things, knowing better than to number them now, whist there.

If I lived on the ground floor somewhere...even, horrors, an apartment...I would leave it more often, if only to get some fresh air walking around the block.  That is not happening now because I have really wonky and poorly-constructed stairs to the third floor (former attic) that are higher than normal steps and hurt my knees like a bitch whilst walking up and down them.

The stairway up to my flat, second floor, is made of normal steps, but I have to pass through the mold fog from the basement, foundation and crappy slapped-together walls that enclose those stairs.  I would bet a nickle that they were originally an outdoor stairway before the remodel or something.  On several levels it does not make sense, but there is absolutely no insulation out there.  It is often cooler than it is outside.  I had stored water bottles on the upper landing, right outside of my door; they froze and exploded.  Good thing I took the beer inside.

Secondly, sleeping in a bed that is not one's own is a pain.  Literally a huge, stinking pain.  First night was find.  Second and third nights kept me home from breakfast with my friends and I had to miss my grandson's basketball tournament in the afternoon.  I was pissed.  Still am.

Fourth and fifth nights totally did me in.  My back is a wreck and even my knees hurt like crazy.  So, no more foreign beds for me.  Well, until the next time someone needs me to sleep over to watch the monkey brothers whilst they go out for adult fun.

Third, and the most important of the things I learned is that I do not want a cat as badly as I did before starting the cat/house sitting gig.

I can have a cat and a wardrobe that exactly matches the cat's fur colors, or I can not have a cat.

I forgot how much hair just lives in the environment of a cat focal household.  Friday night I went to a play with a couple of friends and was not able to remove all of the car hair that had found its way to my slacks hanging nicely in the closet.  Fortunately, it was dark the whole time, evening does have that whole dark aspect, and I was the only one who noticed or at least no one else mentioned my strangely hairy pants.

The first few months of having a cat are fairly hair-free.  It takes time for cat hair to amass to critical capacity within a particular environment. 

Once you get used to it, you are used to it and you develop strategies for minimizing the coverage problems.

You keep your out-of-the-house clothes safely ensconced on a closed closet.  Said clothes are not allowed more than the briefest passage from laundry experiences to closet.  Dressing to leave the house is left until the last possible moment, often measured in nano-seconds.  I do not joke.

When returning from outside the house, clothes are returned to the safety of the closet only by developing insanely, nearly instantaneous garment divesting skills.

Once accomplished, it is a marvel to watch, although the only one seeing that show is, of course, your cat, who is not the teeniest bit impressed.  Frankly, there is not a cat anywhere who will even understand, much less concede, the need for such skills.

This is proof that cats do not know everything.

Having a cat would mean resurrecting those skills and despite my love of cats, my desire to have cats again and my need for that kind of love in my life, I am not sure that I am up to the hair problem.

Cleaning the cat's litter box twice every day was a snap.  Most folk might not consider it a pleasant task, but it is the most certain way of keeping up with any changes in your cat's health and habits.  A clean box is nice for your cat, but it is an essential way to monitor how your cat is doing.  So, no problems cleaning that box for the past week.

Cuddling and playing, well, this is where it gets serious.  I miss that so much. Playing with your cat is more fun than it should be, and part of that is how wonderful it is for your cat.  Cuddling is something that is equally wonderful for both cat and cat owner.

I am so torn.  The benefits of having a cat far outweigh any negative aspects, but I just cannot get past the whole hair mess tonight.  Maybe I will feel differently in a few days, but this feels so solidly a barrier that I think my cat owning days are most likely over.

This is sad, but I know that the hair mess aversion of going to win and I will not be getting another cat.

I do not envision adopting a hair-less breed of cat because in more than twenty-eight years of animal rescue work, not a single less-hairy cat ever came into the shelter.  That means I would need to buy a cat from a breeder, something I am not going to do.  Sure, there are responsible breeders who would be thrilled to sell a cat to me...I am hoping anyway..., but my heart and mind are pretty much stuck in shelter cat adoption.

I could have a small terrier, or some dog with hair instead of fur, that I could trim myself, as I did with our schnauzers.  But, but, but...dogs are so much daily work.

You cannot simply play with a dog, although everyone involved in said play activity loves it, dogs must be walked.  Every day, and for longer than dog owners generally want to be outside walking their dogs. 

Every day.  Weather permitting or not.  Where I live the old saying is that there is winter and the months leading up to winter.  Summer can pretty much be counted on, but springtime and fall are iffy and often rainy.  More than half of the time it is either raining, snowing or the aftermath of snow.  Rain flows off and soaks in nicely here, but snow is rude and hangs around long past its welcome.

Scooping after a dog would not be a problem; it offers the same health knowledge benefits as little box scooping.  I used to be a dog trainer, so barking and all that jazz would not be insurmountable, same thing for behaviors.  They did not call me the Cat Whisperer for nothing, and I am no slouch at dog training.  Kind of bragging, but it is true.

So, I guess I am off to find another kind of pet.

I was considering a fennec fox for a few months.  I know someone who raises them and I know I could properly care for one, but it has many of the same needs as do dogs, and being a mainly nocturnal animal would certainly suit my lifestyle, but it is still too canine for what I truly can handle now.

Guess I am back to bunnies or guinea pigs or rats.  I rescued a Capuchin monkey decades ago, but even then, during the time I had that sweet guy in my life I knew that primates are not house pets and when he was ready to move on it was sad, but I knew that having him was temporary and he was ready to go be with other monkeys.

Some difficult things to learn in just a week. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

well, so much for that

The hundred days project.  I have been ill again and, frankly, just not in the mood for any kind of big picture improvement.

My grandson's basketball game for yesterday was cancelled and since I had time coming home from breakfast with my friends, I stayed on the highway and went to visit at the humane society campus north of me.

No one spoke to me and said, "Let's go home now," so I accepted that, but I did find a 12 year old cat who had been transferred from another shelter.  She seems in good health, but moves very slowly.  She will willingly accept attention and touching, but does little more than stop near you and wait for you to initiate contact.

She is relatively old.  She has been in at least two shelters and who knows why she ended up in one in the first place.  She behaves more sad than anything else.  I pulled up a chair to watch her and when the volunteer left her enclosure (the temporary homes of the animals there are not all that home-like, but are quite nice) she stood for a while, then sat for a while and when it was clear that no one was coming back in, she walked to one of the places where she can rest and curled up and eventually went to sleep.

That cat, or one of any of the countless other cats like here, would be a perfect companion for me.  Heck, for anyone who lives a quiet life.  And, I could not take her home because cats are not allowed here.  So, I have to move.

I have to move.
I do not want to move.
I do not want to pack up all my crap again.
Or, move.

But, unless I am willing to spend the rest of my life without cats, I have to move.

This place is kind of a dump.  The landlord has stored all kinds of crap in this flat and because I am such a timid shit about this sort of thing, and even though a couple of the things are inconveniently stored and there is mold in the hallway and the weird stairway to the bedrooms was build and designed by giants, I have not said anything.  I will not.  I is not worth the effort.

So, instead of a hundred days of something meaningful, I am choosing the meaningfulness that would be packing up all my stuff and finding a new place to live.  With cats.

You know, I keep saying this to myself every month and every time that I am missing my cats so much that I think I cannot bear it a moment longer.  But, then another month goes by, beginning with a half-hearted start at packing and before I know it, another month has gone by without me completing anything that would bet me out of here.  Granted, I have a lease to fulfill, but if I was already packed and ready to go, well, I could when the lease expires.

All the mental health care work I am doing seems not enough.

I learned an interesting thing about my mental illness journey this past week.

When I work my ass off, over and over again, trying over and over again to get rid of some memory or behavior that is holding me in place, and I finally work it often enough to actually move past that thing, that thing is still there.

I can see it. It exists just as strongly as it ever did, but I cannot go back to that place. I can see it. It is still there.

It is simply no longer a place that is available to me, no longer that one thing on which I need to keep such a desperate grasp.

And, as I thought about that singular break-away moment(s), I was able to see the other places to which I can no longer travel.

I think that I can still see them because they represent the things that happened to me, which makes them important to where I am now, and it reminds me that I am not the only person who struggles with this stuff.

Just honoring where I am, where each of us might be, on that spectrum.

My breakfast friends are pretty much just breakfast friends.  We all support one another and all that jazz, but breakfast is pretty much the only time we see each other, and e-mails about where to meet for the next breakfast is the only other contact we have.  I went yesterday because I knew the woman who chose the restaurant would show up because she chose the place and I wanted to see her.