Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Side Job?

I have to laugh my ass off. Over the last week I'm getting a spate of text messages from phone numbers near Annapolis, Maryland asking if I'm available that night or day and what my fees are.  When I reply that they clearly have the wrong number because I'm old and gray and not a hooker the reactions range from sheepish to 'Who said anything about sex?' huffy.

Dude, your text message asked how much I charged to get together and 'party' - I seriously doubt you think you're reaching out to the local Tupperware dealer asking her to bring by her Harvest Tumblers and burping lid storage containers. If it's not Tupperware or Pampered Chef and you're asking me how much I charge to party my mind is always going to go horizontal fellowship.

The first time it happened I thought it was a misdial. Now it's pretty obvious someone has gotten my phone number out there. Mistake or on purpose it does not matter.  Joke's on them, in a week or less my mobile phone is going bye-bye when I jet off to Costa Rica.

Sitting here in my flannel nightgown, graying hair tumbling around my shoulders, wearing my schmexy sweater with the holes in it and fuzzy slippers just laughing. Hooking indeed. Maybe hooking a crochet project or two.

This was a laugh I needed. Today we took a lot of things to the dump, including our oh so comfortable but sprouting stuffing feather stuffed sofa and love seat. I have to get the landscaping done, some more of the furniture moved and clean out the garage after Jim leaves. I'm already pretty tired. I think I'm going to have to hire some help after he leaves. Today was getting so many things into the storage room over the garage. Looks like I'm playing real life Tetris.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Cicular Logic and Connections

My antique piano finally left the house this morning. It went to a very lovely young couple with young kids. As you remember I have agonized over the family piano and the ancient history connected to it, not wanting to let it go.

But once the young mother started telling me a story of her piano growing up, family dysfunction and how one of her family members sold it without telling her I realized how close to my own history that was. It feels very right that she is ending up with my piano, like some sort of karmic realignment, or what we used to call a 'God moment'. Something happening adjusting the world to rights again, redressing old wrongs. A very calm, perfect and circular moment, past and futures connected.

Very happy that my piano has landed with this family. Healing.

But then the rest of the day was a struggle. Ran out to order the carpet again since we had trouble last week with the original carpet company-- that went alright and allowed me to pick up some small supplies I need, like better shower curtain rods, some grout and grout sealant to do a little work in the baths.

The afternoon was taken up clearing out Laura's toys from the storage closets in her room. I had a melt down when I found the stuffed Meeko raccoon from the movie 'Pocahontas'. I bought it for Laura that first terrible day in the hospital when we almost lost her to ITP. She was four and it was her constant companion for about two or three years. Going to the doctor's office? Must have Meeko. Going to church? So is Meeko. Going to school or preschool? Meeko is coming along. Ready for dinner or bed? So is Meeko. I had to customize Meeko with a piece of iron on name tag on his butt with Laura's name on it and sew on a piece of velcro to connect him to her backpack.

One day he was put aside. It happened so suddenly. I don't quite know why. Laura must have outgrown her need to have him with her constantly and he's lived in that closet ever since. Seeing him again just opened the flood gates for me. I miss my kids being little and having them with me all the time.  Between the nice family taking the piano and seeing echos of the past I cannot help but think that when you're in the midst of it, the guts and blood of raising your children, it never dawns on you that some day they will flee the nest and you'll not have them around you every day. You miss them.

I know from some of the conversations I've had with my adult children that they're upset and unnerved by our remodel of the house and our moving away. Life is sure of one thing, change.

The SiL is busy fighting the change since her husband signed everything over to Jim. She's fighting as much of a losing battle as I am trying to hang onto my children. Eventually the waves sweep you far from the shore no matter how hard you fight them.

Roofs and Random Middle of the Night Thoughts

So here it is. 3 am and I cannot sleep. I've just taken one of my carefully horded emergency Ativan that I have for those panic attacks that accompany my worst asthma attacks. Once it kicks in I'm going to make another attempt to sleep. Too much on my mind and too much to accomplish when Jim flies out for Costa Rica on Monday. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed at the thought that I have to ride herd on the contractors for the remaining work, deal with the shippers, finish the packing and everything else.

Oh, I'll get everything done much faster once Jim leaves since I will not be dealing with him too. My father always called my husband The Nutty Professor since he's so educated and book smart, but does not have a clue about practicalities of things like painting the house or landscaping. Right now he and I are sort of tripping over each other and sometimes at cross purposes, like when he tried to haul the three boxes of supplies for our home in Costa Rica I packed that are clearly marked 'Living Room Box 1', 'Kitchen Box 2' and 'Kitchen Box 3' out to the car for a trip to Goodwill. I caught him in time to stop him from giving away my breadmachine and other small appliances and the box holding the television remotes and assorted lamps. We need those.

Today was roofing day. Six Mexicans from the roofing company with nail guns and shingles first tearing off the old roof and scrambling at a furious pace to put the new one on before the rains came. It's gorgeous. Pictures tomorrow when the rains stop. The roof is the same shades of blue as the siding and the house shutters and doors.

It gave me another good opportunity to practice my bastard pigeon Spanish again since most of the crew didn't speak English. I'm sure I mangled their language terribly, but I'm trying to make my brain switch from my default foreign language. Usually what happens is someone will speak to me in Spanish and my brain tries to make me reply in German.

Watch those guys today I have to wonder how all these ICE round ups are going to affect not just the big farms and commercial agricultural enterprises, but it's also going to affect the construction industry. Here many of the construction crews are staffed with these guys, hard working and family oriented. Going to make not only the price of food go up, but it could also put a big hurting on the housing and home improvement industry.

Just setting aside the issue of if they are here legally or illegally I have to say in my observation that they are some of the hardest working folks I've ever seen, taking a lot of jobs that no one here seems to want. Our nation is going to have a very hard time functioning if we remove them all. Very short sided of Trump and sort of hypocritical since his businesses employ a lot of Hispanics from other countries in their construction and the maintenance of his golf courses. His vineyard here in Virginia recently asked the Dept. of Labor for permission to import a number of foreign workers to take care of the grapevines.

I'm just not sure how you can employ the labor of a people and still speak in rhetoric against them while deporting them. Confusing. Or maybe that silly Ativan is finally kicking in. Goodnight.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

If It's Not One Thing, It's Your In-Laws

So while we're dealing with the move and the remodel of our home another looming crisis has been starting to boil. My Maw in Law's investment accounts.

The brother in law hired a broker three years ago to handle all the Maw in Law's money, and it is a substantial sum, into seven figures. The way it was supposed to be set up was that my husband and his brother were both holders of the power of attorney, supposed to make decisions on investments, meet with the broker, and just generally protect the Maw in Law's life savings.

That's not quite how it worked out. My husband was given the run-around, not allowed to see statements and the broker would not talk to him.

Before moving the money to this broker it was set up in both brothers names somewhere else. Why and how this went from the two of them to only his brother no one seems to know, or will admit to.

Jim's getting understandably nervous about this in light of his relocation next week to Costa Rica and he's been pressing his brother to move the entire portfolio to the same financial investment firm we use, into safer funds and investments and set up again in both names, both brothers having equal access and say in the funds.

This is everything my Maw in Law and later Paw in Law worked hard and saved over the years. Literally their life savings. It's important that it be maintained for her benefit more than anyone else. She has plenty of income to cover her living expenses, so there's no need to touch this money unless something dire happens, which is unlikely. But it's hers, for her use. She's 94 now, living in an assisted living facility and has no interest in handling her investments.

Jim started to worry about the money after he found out back in early January that the broker is taking high fees out of the portfolio to manage it and that the broker is a raving lunatic Trump backer that lectures others about the wonder of Trump. One of her stocks earned about 20% points last year and she only got 8% after the brokers fees. Jim and his brother agreed that the money needs to be moved asap away from the Trumplestillskin broker, yet his brother has taken no action while Jim has begged, pleaded and cajoled.

Why? I think it's the fault of my hateful new sister in law, who I've now dubbed a quite nasty name that combines a rude word for vagina and a Japanese monster's name. Too vulgar for here. Yeah, the same woman that created the whole Christmas from Hell scenario out of the blue back in December of 2015. 

Recently Jim's been messaging, emailing and calling his brother to try and find out if the money has been moved yet, only to be ignored or told that Bro in Law would do it next week. Well, the ultimate 'next week' is here and we discovered that the move is finally in progress.

Keep in mind that the Bro in Law moved his own personal money immediately after telling Jim about the crazy of the broker and the high fees. His mother's life savings? Hmmm, he's been in something less of a hurry. Here we are nearly 4 months after he moved his and 5 months after he told Jim that the broker was up to no good.

Several days ago Jim asked about a telephone meeting with the new investment firm, the same one we are using and the Bro in Law is using. He was told that TwatZilla and the Bro in Law had a phone conference scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. Jim told them he wanted to be part of that and BiL reluctantly agreed. Time set up, and it was a go.

But this left us with questions in the meantime, like if this involved the Maw in Law's money then what was the new SiL doing in the decision-making loop at all? I'm not involved, but I don't want to be involved because I recognize this really just needs to be between Jim and the BiL since it involves their mother. I would not expect Jim to have any role in making decisions about my mother's money.

I had a very bad feeling about this telephone conference, knowing that if my therapist's ideas of what's wrong with my SiL were anywhere near right then it was going to morph into a goat rodeo quickly. It did.

Jim got on the phone with the new investment banker and lo and behold the BiL was 'too busy' in a meeting to come to the phone, which meant that it was Jim and the SiL only in the meeting. She proceeded to fight with Jim on the phone, told him she did not care what he thought and that they were going to do the investments the way she thought they should done. She accused Jim of being a liar, claiming he had full power of attorney to see the investment information all along. She also informed Jim that my Maw in Law's money was 'small potatoes' and said a number of horrible things when Jim asked to see beginning balances from three years ago. It went poorly.

I did not participate, but I was in the next room doing another massive Ebay auction of possessions while this was going on, and I clearly heard what was going on via speaker phone. Again, what they do with the Maw in Law's money is not my business. I really don't want to know, but could not help hearing.

Jim was upset afterward, and we went to have a picnic in the park, walk around the park and feed the ducks because it had been a busy and stressful day even before the phone conference. I reiterated yet again what form of mental illness I believe that the SiL suffers from, and now Jim sees it too. She kept texting Jim while we were at the park, asking him why he wasn't responding to emails.

We got home last night at sunset to a set of nasty, demeaning, vituperative emails to my husband, you know the kind, the ones with the CAPITALS and bolded and underlined words and italics sprinkled in for ranty emphasis. She went as far as to claim yet again that the Maw in Law's investment were 'Chicken Feed' and how INSULTED she is by the way my husband spoke to her.

Listen, lady! I heard the entire conversation and the only one raising their voice, using disrespectful words, being demeaning and insulting was the SiL. She was so incensed in these emails that when she shared the starting figure of the transferred investment she ran it as one long number with no commas or periods.

Since Jim is now viewing her the same way that myself and my therapist do he took my advice and answered her arias of irritation and paranoia with the simple phrase 'Thanks for the information.' That's it, short and sweet.

Jim barely slept last night after worrying about this most of the night and today he called up his brother, read portions of those poison pen emails to the BiL, pointed out that TwatZilla should not have any say in the investments of their mother, that I don't mettle like that and that the kids and I want nothing to do with either of them we're so insulted still by the way they behaved Christmas of 2015.

Good for you, baby! Standing up to BiL like that. The upshot is that the primary person who will be handling all the investments now will be Jim. BiL is signing it all over to him after some arguing and back and forth between the two brothers. Between the two brothers is how all this needs to be, not me, not her.

I'm betting that TwatZilla is having a tantrum and torturing the BiL right now. Mmmmuhahaha!

TwatZilla. I like that name!

What I've learned through this long experience dealing with those outlaw in-laws. Red flags to watch out for in those that are determined to dominate and control the elderly.

  • Someone that denies allowing the elderly their own money to spend is up to no good.
  • If you ask someone a direct question and they either change the subject, act like you are attacking them when asking for a hard and fast number, or attack you are hiding something.
  • People that seek to control every aspect of someone's lifes is up to no good.
  • If they cannot get along with their own children (all of them), leave an ex spouse destitute and broken and lie to try and get what they want you need to get away from them.
  • Someone eager to spend an elderly person's money on stupid things while telling that elderly person that they cannot afford a new computer or hearing aids is up to no good.
  • If every time you talk to that person they have a huge pile of negative stories about that elderly person, yet every time you talk to that elderly person they seem exactly the opposite of what was said it's just another form of controlling, gas lighting and abuse.
  • If you oppose someone with certain types of mental problems even in the mildest and most polite ways and they always blow up and then attempt to invent stories about you then you should likely never involve them in your life.
  • If someone is constantly attempting to seek praise, is upset that no one thanks them in a way that they think they should be thanks you need to run away from them.
  • If someone always overreacts massively to the slightest thing it's them that have the issues.
I could continue on all night, but I don't have enough time. There are so many red flags in my SiL's behavior that are so troubling in retrospect that I do not feel safe around her. I wish we could convince the Maw in Law to move in with us because I'm afraid for her having this angry and frustrated woman seeing to her needs.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Strange Lawn Ornamentation

Last night shortly after I wrote yesterday's blog post Jim got a Facetime phone call from Mr. Steak about the cats. He showed a very confused looking Kiki looking around the basement. Once Jim started talking to Kiki I sort of melted down and started crying again. Poor Kiki does not understand why he's so far from home. It's breaking my heart. No sign of Mary or Pedro.

So now we have a roll off dumpster on our front lawn. It's for the kitchen remodel, some of the other work, the rest of the roofing job and assorted stuff coming out of the house. It was just getting too much to make the long run to the dump every day.

It looks incongruous sitting among the daffodils and tulips.

I feel like I've spent today either on the phone or running errands. Piano movers scheduling coming to take the piano away to its new home. Faxing documents here and there. Taking books around to various places that need them. Boxing up most of our children's childhood possessions to store in the attic. Making arrangements with a company to forward our mail and the ever present cleaning, boxing and sorting to ready for the painters at the end of the week.

One of the big tasks of today was doing what I used to term 'Mount Laundry'. When my son was here yesterday he cleaned out his closet and dresser. Both were stuffed with clothing from high school and college. The high school clothes way too big now and the ones he wore in college too small. Most everything was in good shape so I spent the day washing, folding and packing into crates to go to the second hand place.

Most people don't shrink after high school. My son did. He was always plump, but decided senior year to work out and eat right. Lucky thing dropped so much weight over the course of a summer, leading to a new wardrobe. Since then he's kept a lot of the weight off, but has gone up a size. If you're local be on the lookout for an expensive ski jacket, dress slacks and a pile of trendy tees and hipster button up shirts coming to a thrift store near you.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Contractors, Creepy Steaks, Tears, Skin Flakes and Extreme Loss

Today was bang up in some not so good ways and better ways. Definitely the strangest Easter we've had, well, maybe the year I was still in the hospital after a total hysterectomy on Easter might have been odder, but not by much.

Confirmation calls from the roofer, the plumbers and kitchen guys. Copper sink, copper faucet set and solid kitchen countertop in creams, greys and coppers in and ready to be installed after they rip out the old near the end of next week. Roofer dropping off dumpster and all the shingles in the front yard first thing in the morning. Big progress. Almost ready for the painters.

That kitchen is going to be so beautiful when they finish. I cannot wait.

We still have to touch base with the painters and scheduling folks at the carpet places. After some scheduling snafus, a disappearing roofer and the old bait and switch with the first carpeting company we're just about swinging into high gear for the final push on the remodel. I'm considering getting some small work down on the master bath, new faucets and a shower glass door installs, plus I'm considering getting the ac guy to come out and install a digital thermostat.

Dealing with estimates, chasing down the copper sink and bait and switching flooring issues took up most of the week leading to this Easter weekend.

This morning started badly when I was awakened by Jim and Mr. Steak having problems getting our kitty Mary into the crate. Mr. Steak was trying to leave with our cats since he's the only person that wanted to foster our cats who actually would not be put out by it until we get settled enough in Costa Rica to fly them in. Mary bloodied Mr. Steak up pretty badly and did the same with Jim.

I was almost laughing over that because on Friday morn when I was crating Kiki for his vet visit and shot update Mr. Steak told me I had no idea how to properly crate a cat.

Bullshit! I got all three including an extremely scared Pedro crated in less than five minutes.

I cried pretty hard as they left, when I stuck my head into his car to say goodbye I got three different kitty voices begging me to not do this. I felt so damn guilty and have been crying much of the day. It hits me in waves.

After a few hours on the road Mr. Steak called and said everyone was fine but he'd been thinking. He was not going to foster our guys and put them on a plane in a month. He says he's going to KEEP them now. I went nuclear and his sudden decision has just about killed me. I had already agreed to leave 17 year old arthritic Mary with him because she likely would not do well with the plane flight and the move. But the agreement was that he was going to put Kiki and Pedro on the plane to us. Looks likely now that I will have to fly into Detroit, pick up the cats and wrangle them back to Costa Rica.

Losing the cats, even temporarily, is just breaking my heart in the worst way. I feel so guilty. Last night when I was hugging and cuddling Pedro at bedtime I was begging him to forgive me and I even started trying to bargain with God, a God I am no longer sure exists or cares if he does exist. Another unanswered prayer and now the possibility that I cannot get my two younger guys back.

I spent yesterday afternoon when he was out and most of the morning scrubbing the house after Mr. Steak left. The bedroom he used was liberally sprinkled with lots of skin flakes from his diseased legs and feet. Vacuumed the room repeatedly. After talking to him and asking a nurse friend I have to think that he has poor circulation in his feet and legs because he's never taken decent care of his diabetes. His legs look scalded and, along with his feet, are swollen up to twice their size. I don't think he's long for this world if he does not get his circulation issues, heart issues and blood sugars under control. I would not be surprised if they don't end up amputating his feet.

So what does Mr. Steak claim is wrong with his feet and legs? He says it is something to do with his car accident last year and that he's having circulation issues. Nice try. I saw his metformin bottle. He's another poorly controlled diabetic who refuses to monitor daily blood sugars with a meter.

Even knowing he cannot help shedding all that shredding skin does not make it any less gross to clean it up. I would not even use the bathroom he used, scrubbing it up shiny today along with washing and bleaching all the bedding he used. It too was a sea of skin flakes.

I'm very paranoid of catching something due to his illnesses. I'm on immunio suppression meds for the asthma. Getting over almost a year of MRSA outbreaks was hard enough. I don't want to catch any possible virus or bacteria that's lurking on those diseased legs. Hence all the sanitizing.

Our kids showed up right after church and I cooked a simple dinner we had in between both of them cleaning out their closets and packing away their things. I cannot handle packing up their things and my own without their help.

I was glad because it was a good distraction from finding out Mr. Creepy Steak wasn't going to put Pedro and Kiki on the plane to us. I stopped crying for awhile.

For the first time I got the sense that our young adult children have finally made peace with our decision to go and are supportive. Their father and I reminded them that they will always have a home with us where ever we go. With the dire warnings of war this might be ever more important. We told both of them not to screw around if things got bad in the States, but to gather their sig-os and come down to Costa Rica with us.

It sure did not feel like Easter. Particularly when my daughter and I ran out to Walmart for more cardboard boxes for packing and ended up buying a pile of things. I'm getting all the personal care stuff that will be hard to score in Costa Rica.

Going to bed in a few since I have slept very little in the past two nights. It will be the first night sleeping without Pedro cuddling me most of the night in six years.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Kill It With Fire and Torment

So my husband's friend that invited himself over for Easter weekend after we'd gotten rid of all our beds, sheets and covers is here and I'm seriously tempted to kill him.

I'm torn between utter annoyance with him and pity, at least until today. So far today I have been the recipient of 4 nasty comments about oral sex and at least a half dozen comments about the nudity during Mardi Gras in my home town. All whenever my husband is out of the room of course.

Before Jim took him off to tour Monticello this afternoon we had a hasty conversation where I was hissing under my breath to Jim about this commentary and threatening bloodshed if he does not deal with this dirty-mouthed and minded 300 pound guy with swollen feet who has been picking his skin off his peeling shins and discarding it on the coffee table. Yes, I did also insist Jim remove the gross pile of skin so I could sanitize the coffee table.

I see why he's unmarried with no girlfriend.

I see why he has no real friends where he lives.

I've turned a deaf ear and refused to even acknowledge his crude remarks. Pretending I did not hear them.

I'm so glad I blocked him on Facebook years ago for other inappropriate remarks.

He's a Trump fan with about the same reasoning ability and intellect of the bottom third of the Trumpen-Lumpens. I've been biting my tongue for two days now.

It wasn't enough that he had to show up stalker-like at 5:30 am sitting in his car just outside our house on Friday morning.

Maybe I'm just still super cranky from the lack of sleep at the UVA Sleep Lab last night. I learned something from the lab, always, and I mean ALWAYS, check out the sleep lab and ask to see the accommodations before you book. Eighteen years ago at my first sleep lab I went to UVA when the sleep lab consisted of a small dept of four glass-fronted rooms with no restrooms that would have been appropriate in an old Soviet gulag. Five years ago I went for a sleep lab here locally and it was like staying in a luxury hotel, plush, comfortable, catering to every need you could have with a shower attached to each room --- so useful the next morning when you're trying to wash away the pounds of goop they attach the monitors to your scalp with. Last night was a huge left down after five years ago. It's better than their original lab, but not by much. Noisy, not conductive to sleeping at all. I woke up so many times it was pathetic. There was a shower, but the pressure and temps of the water didn't do much to remove the goop. I just came back from buying a scalp brush and a big bottle of Redken Remove to get this rapidly hardening crap out of my hair.

I did find out one good thing. My weight loss was enough that my apnea is no longer bad enough to need treatment. I am going from a 19 setting to no machine. Just like getting off the blood pressure meds and Metformin. I'm much better.

Too bad my mood is still homicidal towards McCreepy. This afternoon he started leaving me alone when I put on the soundtrack to 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch' and started singing this ditty while cleaning the kitchen.

Guess I'll need to recite the Communist Manifesto and other dire anti-Trump things to get through the night without committing murder. Thankfully he is leaving in the morning. I cannot WAIT to discuss in lurid detail to my husband all the dirty remarks after Mr. Steak leaves.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Broken Toes, Twisted Knees and Too Much Drama!

Been another crazy week in the build up to the move. I'm trying to make sure our wills are updated and all three of the kids know where all the keys and documents are so I was in town this weekend meeting with them to accomplish this.

Before that I had two different appointments at UVA. First with my endocrinologist. Numbers so good over the last five months that I'm going to be weaning off metformin once I get to Costa Rica. As long as the numbers stay good. If not I have to find a primary care down there that will continue to fill the metformin. But I'm going to try to get off and control the numbers by what I eat.

Had the first appointment with the sleep lab folks and I'll be going inpatient on Friday night for another sleep lab. It's been five years since I was checked and my VPAP is not working right. Cannot wait.

Part of the reason I'm looking forward to Friday night in the hospital is that one of Jim's friends, Mr. Creep, nicknamed after a steak, will be spending the night at our house. Yes, he invited himself over for Easter weekend after the clusterfuck of Saturday morning.

Saturday morn, bright and early, Jim tells me that Mr. Steak started spamming him porn photos again and he does not know what to do. I told Jim he needs to tell Mr. Steak a) that is not acceptable and b) block him on social media. He does, but then Mr. Steak calls, whining and crying he has no one for the holidays and offering to foster our three cats until we get settled. He's claiming he'll treasure them, along with his three cats and he'll put them on the airplane to us as soon as we have an apartment rented.

I hate this guy! Hate, hate, H-A-T-E him. So much so that I had trouble keeping my hateful fucking mouth shut when he visited D.C. in February and we went to dinner with him. Mr. Steak is creepy trouble. So..... going for tests in the hospital for the majority of the time he's going to be here is a win-win. He'll be leaving with the cat carriers not long after I get back.

When I found out he was coming this weekend I wasn't pleased at all, even if I do appreciate his offer to foster the cats. I had two friends locally who'd offered, but I know there are cat-allergic people in both of their households so it wasn't an ideal situation. The local Siamese cat rescue was refusing to help me find a foster for Pedro and I cannot simply fly them with us to Costa Rica right away because we'll be living as a guest in a local's home for a month or so that does not allow pets.

The problematic nature of Mr. Steak visiting is that all the beds with the exception of the one Jim and I sleep in have long since gone off to the second hand shop and the antique store. All the various sized sheets gone to Goodwill and the bedrooms are stripped. We had to scramble to borrow a rollaway bed and sheets from friends.

We're still moving things in and out, but I came damn near close to killing Jim yesterday. We were struggling with the heavy oak hutch top half of our dresser, moving it downstairs to take away. I kept telling Jim he was moving way too fast down the stairs on his end and that I couldn't get a good grip on my end due to the glass doors. He ignored me, kept moving fast, I lost my grip and down it slammed, like a huge oak log barrelling down the stairs, slamming into him and knocking his 260 pounds of tall self down the stairs and onto the floor before landing on top his his leg. His knee is messed up now.

Today was my turn for stupid injuries. We were wrestling the bottom part of the dresser down the same staircase going slower this time when Jim yanked it down a few steps and it landed on my big toe. Gonna lose the nail on my right big toe. Broken. Had to yank it back into pointing the right way, taped it and soldiered on before tripping over the snow shovels in the storage room and falling down. I look like I've been beaten, goose egged head, bruised jaw from chin to jaw joint, twisted knee and hurt back.

I am beginning to think that Jim has some form of ADD watching how he packs things or moves them around plus his still going back and forth and sideways with the contractors. The weirdest thing has happened with the roofing contractor - agreed to the price and the dude is nowhere to be seen, not asking emails or phone calls, office shut down, etc. So it's back to the drawing board again for picking a roofing company. So so weird!

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Won't You Take Me To... Fundytown!

The newest painting estimate goes exactly like I fear it might. The guy shows up, 45 minutes late, no apology, no explanation. Yes, I do know him, yes he is a fundagelical church hopper associated with all the town toxic fundies from my old church Possum Creek.

 I thought I'd avoid him by running a few errands at the time he was supposed to be here, but no such luck. He was very late, arriving after I got back from Walgreens with toiletries.

I'm already miffed at the very idea of this guy being in my home and make it clear right up front that I've picked the paint shades and paint grade and what needs to happen. Flat white for the ceiling, high grade satin in the lightest blue-gray and semi gloss white trim.

He completely ignores that, walks over to my husband and declares that he only paints in flat white or off white for rental homes. He only paints the ceiling and the walls the exact same color. I hiss out that idea is extremely unacceptable and that the only time I don't mind him using a sprayer to paint with is to put down the primer in Andy's room since it's paprika red and will need a couple of coats of primer.

Mr. Asshole Fundy still ignores my words, talking only to my husband repeating forcefully what he can offer us. Spray painting on everything in white or off white. I explode, yell at him before stomping off outside clutching my purse.

Jim and I have that conversation again after he leaves and while going to the local building supply store to check on a new sink we're ordering installed next. We have one of those standard stainless steel sinks and I would like to put in a white porcelain one.  I point out to him again that he's encountered another Bible-thumping asshole out to charge us a pile of money while thinning the paint with water and using a few very light coats of the cheapest grade paint.

Here's something I have learned in my fifty plus years. If a contractor or business loudly brays what good Christians they are then your potential for them trying to rip you off or take some shortcut jumps up exponentially.

When Mr. Asshole left I barely restrained myself from naughty words and bird flipping. I'm sure he's going to tell all those earnest well-scrubbed people we both know about my unsubmissive rebellious behavior. I know where he can stick that. He's never going to paint for us.

Here's what I learned the short time I sold cars and when selling other high end items - most of the time the final approval for high ticket items comes from the wife. Which is why in high end sales situations and I have a married couple I will direct the bulk of my attention to the wife instead of the husband.

Shaping Up

Today is clearly on track to be a cluster-you-know-what.

Jim just told me that the last of the painting contractors giving us bids is coming late this afternoon to give us his bid. Once I heard the guy's name I have abandoned all hope. The guy is a friend of my bete noire at the old church, Tom Smith.

He's a fundy, he's a fundy church hopper and he's linked up with all the toxic evangelical fundamentalist people in this area. Letting him in the door is akin to allowing all those hateful gum-beaters new gossip.

Jim can deal with him, I'm, um, er, going shopping for whatever during that visit later.

On a positive note I'm being squeezed into UVAs sleep study lab very quickly so I can have a newer better functioning machine before we move.

If you want to read the entire crazy history of how I joined and unjoined my old toxic church and my interactions with Tom Smith here it is in its fully insane glory.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Just Who is the Customer Here?

So here we are, three short weeks before Jim flies to Costa Rica, and he decides he needs to get TWO more estimates for painters when I thought we'd finally settled on the painter and almost settled on the carpeting guys and the kitchen countertop. Roofing, wallpaper removal, gutters, landscaping and just general repairs dealt with now.

It does not go well. The guy drives up in a fanciful painted Smartcar with his business logo on it, steps out, shakes my hand and knocks me over with his cologne. I immediately react with asthma to his cologne and it all just goes downhill from there.

I'm calling this guy Mr. Boston because he's got that whole extreme Boston accent of 'bah-cah-mah' going on even if he's lived in the deepest recesses of the Blue Ridge for forty years now. That's not a problem, I enjoy listening to people with differing accents than mine. The problem was all the sheerly awful ideas and disrespect spilling from his lips.

He stated right up front that he didn't want to do brushes and rollers and would only do the interior paint job by paint sprayer. Then Mr. Boston informed me that he would only paint the inside of the house 'Almond', painting the ceiling and the walls this off off white while keeping the trim all sparkling white. Didn't want to hear my request for a light blue gray with white trim and ceilings.

I have to say I'm taken aback whenever I run into one of the contractors that has such strong ideas about what needs to be done that he's willing to run rough shod over my requests. This idea of mixing a buff-bisque toned off white with white trim just horrifies the fine arts major inside of me that would never sign off on that mismatched color scheme. A darker white on the ceiling of our small cottage style home sounds like a horrible idea to me, but Mr. Boston said to my remarks on that 'Hey, the ceiling is always gonna look like a different colah than the walls anyhows..'


Bad vibes. Disrespect and a guy that has long since forgotten who pays his bills.

In my years growing up with my dad I've personally observed a few times that spray painting the interior of a house is rarely a good idea. Yeah, it's something contractors might do when building a new house or townhome or apartment complex, but just not done in repaints. It puts down a thinner coat of paint, meaning the contractor is using less paint than you are quoted and paying for. He pockets the money. It goes on not entirely easily, is prone to uneven paint application and problem spots on the wall. Roller and brush with a high quality paint will get you a better looking application every time.

I had to have the same conversation with Jim about how this is just a time/cost of materials savings that the contractor wants. He does not give a rat's ass what we want, he made that abundantly clear to us. I'm more concerned with having it done right the first time, done in a color I can live with if we come back and created a beautiful rental cottage that whoever ends up here with appreciate (and take care of,) Getting maximum rent from the right tenant, making the place appealing is the name of the game. Not some cologne-stinking contractor's attempts to squeeze a little extra money out of the bid.

We're sticking with the first guys. They made be mostly toothless locals who like their beer, but I have a feeling they'll do an excellent job. At least they'll let me pick the color.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

No Longer In Use

I don't think I can keep going to church anymore. Today was sort of the end. I don't know if I'll continue for the rest of the month or so that I'll be here.

Today was revealing.

In the past ten years since I left my old church my faith has undergone something of a sea-change. The endless mountains of attacks, disrespect and deriding I've had to endure from people at my old church wore me pretty far down after a few years. The last ten years at the new mainstream church hasn't improved my faith either, in fact, I'm thinking from everything I am observing, reading and experiencing that Americans in general have the Christian faith very wrong.

One of my oldest friends, who also came out of the old church, made the observation to me that I was actually very sweet and kind inside, but that I wear my sarcasm like a shield to keep others away. There's a lot of truth to that, but here's the problem. In my old faith community I was pretty sarcasm-free, not the sappy wit that always had a snappy answer. Certainly not the eye-rolling wretch that likes to skewer hypocrites.

What did it get me? Hurt. Very hurt because I was open and vulnerable to people who didn't deserve it, who took my openness and trust and used it against me, used me to advance their own agenda.

When I got to the new church after a lifetime of having trust issues and having my boundaries trampled I morphed back into my old sarcastic masked self. I let almost no one in the new church near the real me. I'm still hiding from most of them.

That hasn't stopped people there from trying to press me into some usage. But as I've started to critically examine what the Bible says, what faith is and how far from the words of Jesus the church has gone I've become less willing to be a slave to religion. Add in some historical reading and enough Bart Erhrman and I cannot decide if I'm agnostic or downright atheist. I believe in a higher power, but it looks nothing like what the Evangelical church thinks it should, so I guess that rules out being an atheist. I don't know. I'm still on my journey.

Today at church was an illustration to me on a bunch of different levels how hypocritical many of the folks there that scream the loudest that they are UBER CHRISTIAN.

Yes, it's been a bad asthma day. Yes, I got up cranky again, but had to go into church to do the counting of the Almighty offering. While I was there my oxygen levels started to tank, I could feel it. I took the usual actions I always take when the levels are low. I did my deep breathing exercises that the physio taught me, I medicated and I even lay down for awhile between services. When it wasn't getting any better I got up and walked slowly around the church, leaving the other team members to fill my slot.

At one point I walked past two of the most prominent 'Look At MEEEEEEE Christians' in the church that always volunteer for the most visible leadership roles and go on lots of mission trips-cum-vacations to 3rd world countries. Both couples looked at me and one of them remarked I was white as a sheet and asked if I was sick. I said I was, that my oxygen levels had dropped very low (around 88 right then) and I was lightheaded.

You could have dropped a pin and heard it echoing in that vast silence. No 'Hope you feel better,' 'Can I pray for you?' or even a simple 'I'm sorry is there anything I can do for you.' De nada, nope, nothing, neine, nix, not jackshit. Right back to their faux righteous conversation.

This all on a day when others clearly seeing me struggle approached to ask if I would do this or that thing, lead this, pray for this person, or cook, volunteer, you-name-it.

I'm done being used by ungrateful people. I am done putting my needs last. I'm done with all this fake concern, phony behavior and mouthing platitudes while behaving like your faith is really all about you. Begging prayers focusing on getting God to pay off like some holy slot machine to benefit you. Disgusting.

My inner voice was right. There's plenty of reasons to keep my mask up and not let it down there. This church, just like the crazy one, is a seriously unsafe place that uses people up in a thankless fashion. I'll go on worshiping and communing with the divine out away from the church. They can shove that fancy painted stained glass building. I'm not counting the 50K per week any longer. I'm not doing another thing for any of them.

I'll spend my efforts on those who really need it. Like the local homeless and the elderly, like I have done for years now.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Taking Zero Crap From Anyone and Asthma

Been a crazy day and I'm about to go crash till morning.

I've slept in really late the last three mornings. My insomnia finally broke and I've been in the bed 12 hours a night for the last three nights. So I was a big late getting up before one of the contractors we'd gotten an estimate from was stopping by with the head guy from his painting crew to discuss and schedule the painting of the entire interior of the house. We're gotten all the wallpaint off save for the border on the upper soffit area of the kitchen. I put that border up almost 28 years ago when we first moved in and when I tried to remove it after 11 years it wasn't going anywhere, resisting all efforts to remove. It's still there, so we had to tell the painters that they would definitely need to remove that particular paper with the steamer.

So Jim is talking to the guys and I'm sitting in my office working on No Longer Quivering when I hear one of the two guys in the painting company suddenly start to claim that the wallpaper border had been put up wrong. Another one of those blood boiling moments. I was out of that chair, across the house and yelling at those guys that I DID NOT INCORRECTLY INSTALL THAT WALLPAPER and right into a rant. I'd used wallpaper sizing on the wall and I've even sanded a few spots perfectly smooth, used the right glue. The paper fit perfectly. It looked lovely for years, I actually tired of looking at it when I discovered I could not remove it and I merely papered right over it.

I realized about five minutes into the rant that I could almost hear the painting guys balls retracting up into their bodies. I know I shocked them, but quite frankly I'm pretty sick of guys thinking that there is no way a woman could possibly ever do something in the building trade right. For years I was the one in our family holding the plumbers wrench, paint brush and hammer. My father taught me how to do these things as a girl, whereas my husband Jim is someone my Dad always referred to as 'The Nutty Professor' - intellectual, educated and filled with book smarts, lacking even a lick of common sense and ability in things like that. Well, he does have common sense in some ways, just not in anything to do with house maintenance and repair.

Through the years I'm the one that not only did the home repair but I'm also the one that called the professionals in when something was clearly beyond my changing out a light fixture, painting, wallpapering and miscellaneous plumbing abilities. I can change the wax seal out on a toilet, unclog a toilet, change out a sink and run a snake with the best of them.

So I'm the one that will likely be supervising these guys. I think they just had a rude awakening about me, realizing I can be the stern taskmaster and I don't take ridiculous stereotyping from men. Poor little woman. I might only be five foot three inches but I pack a whole lot of stubborn in my short size.

I have a close friend that's also doing a house remodel and she's shared her frustrations with sexist building trades people who try to treat her like the helpless brainless little woman. I doubt I'm going to have that problem again with these guys. I don't get treating your female clients this way. Our money is just as green and spends just as well as that paid by men. This is being paid for by our joint savings, which both of us have contributed to.

I have noticed that most of the contractors we've gotten estimates and work from automatically defer to my husband Jim, which is hysterically funny because he's stated again and again that he hates dealing with these kinds of things and to pick out what I think would look best. I ran around with the measurements and got the kitchen redo estimates, but I dealt entirely with women, female interior designer and staff and women in the kitchen remodel studio. I'm glad I did because this is coming together beautifully in the house. I'm sorry someone else is coming in to rent the place and get the full advantage of my planning.

But I should have known if I get insta-angry I'm due for an asthma attack. The mood shift has started to become the most accurate pre-attack warning now. I'm going to start measuring my oxygen levels when I start getting like that. The attack did come a few hours later. It came right on schedule just after lunch and just like that the day was mostly over for me. I excused myself from our guest (friend of Jim's from work) and spent most of the day pushing in meds and doing the caffeine thing.

Amusing note with the guest. Very introverted guy who seems emotionally stuck back in the 1950s. He turned to me after my asthma attack and asked me if I'd ever tried marijuana for my asthma. He's the last person I would ever have thought might come up with that solution. You just never know about people.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Medical Misadventures, Packing and a Big Old Fuck You to Lori Alexander

Week has been busy and rather stressful. We're still packing. I took a day to breakdown and clean every surface in the house because it's gotten too dirty for me with the contractors in and out, the things coming in and out of the house and everything being drug away from walls and removed. I've been sick most of the last week too, some miserable virus I picked up, leading me to experience that horrible phenomenon of 'Which end do I throw on the toilet?'

Wednesday, the last full day I felt faint and dizzy every time I stood up and could not keep food in, I had to go to UVA to have tests run and see my newish lung doctor. The tests proved to be quite the bizarre scenario. Picture, if you will, me already very shambling and dizzy, like a dyspeptic zombie with a bad hair day, being strapped with medical devices measuring heart action, lung action, oxygen levels and other things and told 'Walk as fast as you can for six minutes here in the hallway' I had to ask 'You want that with or without puking?'

Started having a bout of exercised induced asthma during one of the test and I had to stop myself from laughing and asking the tech if they ever bothered to look at my chart. I've had issues with deep drops in my O2 stats during exercise since early childhood. I'd only be surprised if I didn't. 

The tests and appointments took all day.

I haven't heard back on the tests yet, but I know from the years I worked at the clinic that not hearing back on your test results immediately means that it's usually good news. What happens when you go to your hospital and get tests run is if it's bad, very bad, the tech running the test will immediately phone the ordering physician before faxing or emailing over the preliminary results to the doctor and you ending up with an immediate phone call from the doctor. None of that. Good.

This week after we got home and resumed packing Jim found a box filled with a slaughtered forest of paper holding some of the world's most cringe-worthy fan fiction I'd written nearly twenty years ago. I was mortified. I thought I'd thrown all of that away years ago. That silly fiction was a reaction of some of the internal rebellion going on during my years at the old church. My dirty little secret and my reaction to being forced into an unnatural role in a tiny box.

Which leads me to being annoyed with the writings of one Lori Alexander of The Transformed Wife. In the course of lining up posts for No Longer Quivering this week and still being slammed with packing and cleaning and dealing with the remodel a post of Lori's popped up on my computer. She was claiming that many women brag about keeping an unclean house. That's the biggest bunch of bullshit I've read in a long damn time.

Even at my sickest while I was bouncing vomit off the tiles, or right now dodging wallpaper shreds and packing boxes I've never been happy about having any messiness at the house. I don't think anyone is happy to have a untidy or dirty house enough to brag about it.

In fact, I'd venture to say no one has bragged about keeping an unorganized home. It's pure Pearl made up idea and claim. 

What it is, at least for myself and many folks I know, is that the cleanliness index of the home depends on a large number of factors. Who's there, who's trekking in and out, the activities of the family, the needs of the family and the whole time factor. Most people are somewhere on the continuum between the two extremes of the sterile perfect eat off the floor level of cleanliness Lori thinks everyone should have, and the show she's cited as an example of what not to do 'Hoarders'. Most people are fine with being in a state of flux, knowing that every single day is different and they aren't stuck in some frustrating set of must-dos.

You'd think someone with serious medical concerns like Alexander might understand that life is about more than being able to safely lick the floor and not pick up germs. Oh yeah, I forgot, she had a nanny and a domestic. Easy to keep the house looking showroom fresh when the paid help does it.

Fuck you Lori for trying to place impossible to fulfill standards on things you yourself do not even do.  You know what you can do with my leftover box of Swiffer pads from mopping earlier today.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Too Real Now

So today Jim was offered a position with a school in Costa Rica and he accepted it. It's up in the mountains, but around 30 minutes from the beach. We'll end up with the best of both worlds. The fresh mountain air for my asthma but the nearby ocean for swimming a couple of times a week.

Now I'm scared. It's too real now.

Not taking tons of things to the second hand stores made it real. Not even having one of the antique stores stop by to pick up some of the furnishing they both from us. But the job offer makes it real, scary real.

Even as I really want to go I feel devastated and sad for unexamined reasons. Nail biting time.

I think it's because I'm the worrier, and he is the eternal optimist. I hope he's right and we're not making a big mistake here. I guess even if we go and it sucks horribly we're only committed for a 90 day stretch. You can do just about anything for 90 days.

If it does not work out we have a freshly painted and carpeted refreshed home with a new kitchen to come home to. That could work.

The school has arranged a room for us at a local family's home for the first month and has promised to help us find an apartment for rent. But it's pretty apparent that Jim is going to have to fly out to take the position while I stay behind to finish up the packing and home renovations plus shipping out our things.

Nervous now.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Presidents, Paper, Ponies and Puzzling

Been an interesting and extremely busy few weeks again.

Yes, we're still engaged in the epic struggle to remove all wallpaper, but we've finished the stairwells, hallways, landings and living room. The most challenging part. We've moved onto the dining room, next the kitchen area and then master bedroom. More area but a much less challenging job. Twenty or so years ago when I'd taken down the living room wall paper and decided to paint my father came to visit. Thinking he was helping me while I was at work he painted, painting over all the still on the wall wallpaper paste I'd not removed. The result was a horrible mess. So in addition to pulling paper and dissolving the glue I've had to scrape down in the areas of paint over glue right down to the bare wallboard.

Took last Friday off because we had the opportunity to see the President of Costa Rica speak at George Mason University while he was in the US to meet with the new administration. Here's the thing I found puzzling about all of this. Trump, the president, did not meet with the leader of a country that has lots of financial ties with our country and imports a great deal of stuff from the USA. President Solis. Solis was palmed off on Mike Pence.

I've reached a sort of zen state of giving zero fucks now about my possessions after fighting, crying and zealously guarding them. Now I cannot haul stuff off to Goodwill fast enough. Thursday one of the second hand store that uses what they raise to fund many of our local social services programs is coming to get the beds, some of the dressers and a few piece of heavy furniture we're not taking with us.

Part of that grand things purge has been running Ebay auctions every week. Last week I sold my entire worship flag collection, with the exception of a few I'm keeping for myself. I thought last week was nutty, dealing with the types of Evangelical Christians that buy flags on Ebay always is nutty. I used to sell a lot of them on Ebay and dealt with haggling, whining and people copying my designs. I got the haggling and crying and whining only. So far none of the other makers of worship flags on Ebay has stolen my original designs.

Well, sir, I forgot about an even stranger bunch of consumers, model horse people. Something like 13 or 14 years ago my youngest daughter joined my eldest in her hobby of buying Breyer and Peter Stone model horses and going around to shows throughout the Eastern US to compete on who had the best models. My youngest only did it less than a year. The two sisters fought the entire time, it was stressful and unpleasant as a result so those horses have been locked in a series of plastic crates lo these many years.

During our listing of stuff on Ebay I offered to list the horses as she has at least four rare high dollar value models and about ten more that are decent models. I'd forgotten what that world was like and now I'm being deluged in constant questions through Ebay over the smallest nit-picky details, things like asking why I posed the horses a certain way in the photographs and questions about who the manufacturer was for a custom stand one of them sits on and it goes downhill from there. Every single day since Saturday I've had to revise the auctions and put the information requested in the auction. I'm looking forward to this week's auction being finished. People that buy my listed art supplies, books and china do not ask a million questions.

If you get the chance you should watch the documentary on the oddness of the model horse competitive world - Not Just Plastic Horses. It's both entertaining and eye-opening. I cannot find it any longer anywhere but it exposes the just plain weird over-the-top crazy folks that spend huge amounts of money to have their horses - which are in reality just childrens toys - judged by those they are paying for the privilege.

Yeah, I know, I collect thimbles so I have no room to talk. But I don't spend tons of money on thimbles, I don't take them to shows and pay to have their quality judged. I know people need hobbies, but sometimes there are folks that just take it a little too far.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Fundamental Misunderstandings About Health, Hunger and Poverty

I've been attempting a half-hearted post here for a few days, wanting very much to rant at/about Lori Alexander of The Transformed Wife and her half-assed incomplete unBiblical ideas she pushes in her blog and that vanity project book of hers. But, some of what I wanted to talk about in regards to Lori I'll be posting now because my original thoughts didn't jell enough for a full post on the lack of reality in Lori-World.

I haven't posted much in a last few weeks because in many ways it's a very boring stretch of lather, rinse, repeat. Going from room to room removing wall paper, contractors in and out giving bids/doing work and a million things going to charity bins or into packing boxes for the big move. No one wants to read about that shit, or my battle with a zillion shreds of old wallpaper that keeps escaping my frantic efforts to keep swept up. Who wants to read about that? Very boring, very futile like trying to keep the sea out with a bucket.

This morning early one of my relatives by marriage triggered my mind and a long rant on his Facebook page when he posted a meme about every person in the U.S.A. is 100% responsible for the state of their own health by every choice of food they make on the tines of their fork.

But.... that's not quite how it works. The person that posted this meme has always lived in middle class abundance, never missing a meal or having to worry about budgeting for food. He is assuming that everyone has access to the same food and has the same options as him. He's never been sicker with anything more complex than the common cold. He just does not know that his reality is not everyone elses reality.

If I had a dollar for every single time some trying to be helpful but completely clueless person, be they friend or just mere acquaintance, tried to tell me that my asthma would be 'cured' if I just followed a certain eating pattern/food/diet/scheme I'd have enough dough for a deluxe vacation to the Four Seasons resort in Costa Rica. I'd be living up there like I was a Kardashian, or a Hilton.

Let me just state - DON'T DO THAT TO ANYONE SICK!!!!!!! NEVER SAY THAT STUFF!!! Not only is it not helpful all you're doing is exposing your complete lack of understanding, lack of compassion and making the person dealing with the chronic ailment feel worse. Was that your intention?

I admit, I have food issues. I need to lose weight, I'm always watching my weight and blood sugar levels. But I've been hungry too. I know what it's like to have to carefully plan for every dollar you spend on food. I know what it's like from my single mother days to enroll your child for free breakfast and lunches at school because you're working a dead end job at the same time you're working on your degree and qualifying as an impoverished household. I know what's it's like to do without so your child can eat. Which is why I've kept my pantry overflowing for years now. I don't like to feel I might have to do without again.

So whenever some conservative friend or relative starts carrying on about lazy freeloaders buying steak for the dogs with the SNAP program, or blaming the weight of children on their free meals at school, or making healthcare claims like the one in that meme it leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. It's just not that simple. Most issues never are. This one is complicated by American belief in pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and equating monetary blessings with morality.

Lori Alexander ignores the reality of utter poverty in her book in the chapters where she insists you cook only from scratch every single day and makes fantastic health claims about eating the way she does. She ignores the fact that most Quiverfull families are unable to afford a diet of nothing but organic and raw foods. She ignores the fact that healthy diets do not cure long term health issues like brain tumors or arthritis or asthma.

It's a way to simplify and assign blame to these people. They aren't knowledgeable and they don't care to be. It's just easier to come up with a way to blame-shift and relief themselves of any possible responsibility or action that they might be required to take to ether understand the situation or to help the hungry. It's always easier to blame.

The six months I worked in the grocery store turned out to be eye opening as to what happens on the SNAP program for families. I've seen the same poor people trying to stretch that money to go as far as possible and feed everyone. It's not always possible to use the small sum SNAP pays or the scanty food budget you have if you are working for minimum wage to encompass healthy foods like fresh fruits and veggies. If you have limited funds you're always going to go for the least expensive options, which here in America means heavily processed foods laden with fat, sugar and chemicals. Blaming someone for not eating right when they don't have nearly enough money to do so is ridiculous!

Add in that in a lot of rural areas and inner city sections there's a scarcity of grocery stores with any  variety. There are lots of convenience stores with that limited cheap processed food section, but not much in the way of healthier non-processed options. When's the last time you saw a salad or fresh fruit in a bodega that mainly deals in malt liquor, flavored cigars and potato chips?

If people are making bad food choices because they have no access to better foods and do not have the money to pay the extra you can hardly blame them! The same goes for families that have had absolutely no exposure to nutrition information. Without knowledge you cannot make better choices.

Once upon a time most everyone was required to take some sort of basic home ec or health classes where you at least had exposure to the ideas of the food pyramid and healthy eating choices. As more schools lose funding these programs have fallen away. Leaving a newer generation without the information they need.

Here, in our small community our social services system has started doing something that does make a difference. They started issuing bus tokens to the weekly farmers market and wooden script coins to be used on fresh foods at the farmers market only. It's a small step, but it's a beginning. I'd like to see more places try to address the access to healthier food for those at the bottom.

I'm starting to get more worried over this issue as I've continued to volunteer at the local soup kitchen, food pantry, senior nutrition site and other places that feed people. The need is greater than ever before, yet people are getting more parsimonious and judgmental towards those that need the most help. But then again look at what's happening in Trump's administration.

Fits, doesn't it, with the newer reality of the new administration. Just look at the new healthcare proposal the Republicans are trying to push through - Trumpcare. Most Republicans do not want it, people are freaking out because everyone is worried that they will be losing their healthcare. Looking at the bill it's pretty sure to raise everyone's premiums and only benefit the rich.

Hearing yesterday that the Meals on Wheels program and the funding to many senior nutrition sites is ending makes me think that this is the real death panel that the Republicans keep yarping on about when the ACA was being set up. It is Trump and his cohorts that are preparing to put seniors out on an ice floe to slowly starve to death without being able to keep affording their insurance, drugs or medical treatment. If you look closely at the new health care legislation there is a section that talks about reducing the costs of Medicare and Social Security payments by increasing numbers of seniors dying than there are now. Why would they be dying in greater numbers? Could be because of the lack of desperately needed services. The real death panel is this administration.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Costa Rica Day 8, 9 and 10

Yeah, yeah, I know I'm very late transcribing the rest of my trip notes. Here they are..

January 31, February 1 and 2, 2017

I was still feeling wrung out from the bout of IBS or whatever traveling bug I'd picked up so we didn't do much the next day. We walked on the beach at Dominical before breakfast.

I'm starting to get slightly tired of typical Tico food, even if that's what this hotel is serving us for breakfast and dinner. They did offer us pancakes this morning, which we had instead of rice and beans.

We also started talking to the many artisans at the stalls selling tourist type things at the beach. These are the typical handicrafts, mostly dildos and dope pipes. I have to say pot is everywhere here, I smell people smoking it just about everywhere, asked a few locals and yes, apparently while it is illegal as long as you are not selling it the policia leave you alone.

You get the idea. Not long after walking on the oceanfront and Jim haggling with the artisans while exchanging business cards and contact information Jim just flaked out, passed right out onto that sandy bed in the room. I went outside, taking the time to sit out on the beautiful tables with umbrellas in the courtyard between the rooms so I could take notes on our trip so far.

As I sat there writing in my notebook about our trip a lady looking like she was in her forties came over and started talking to me. I unintentionally made a friend, introverted me. We talked for a few hours in the heat before taking a swim in the hotel pool together. She's newly divorced, struggling with a lot of crazy health problems not too dissimilar to my own, and she's traveling around Costa Rica trying to decide if she's going to relocate there. One very bad marriage, rental income and no kids, I don't blame her. It's beautiful here, much cheaper cost of living here and the weather is fabulous, warm and sunny every day.

I am not mentioning her name for a couple of reasons, mostly for privacy sake. But we really connected and ended up hanging out together for meals and at different points in the day. I was still pretty beat up/worn out by the bout of asthma followed by the stomach troubles at that point, but discovered that the hotel restaurant had some of the oddest flavor smoothies you could imagine. I got a banana-white rice smoothie for my stomach and it killed off whatever was plaguing me.

Jim woke up just in time to walk on the beach again before dinner and then we had dinner with my new friend and some other Americans staying at the same hotel that were taking full immersion Spanish classes down the block at a language school. Then we made a new friend, the hotel's resident gato, a sweet faced kitty that wanted petting all during dinner.

There's not a lot to do after it gets dark here and it gets dark pretty soon around dinner time. Being so close to the equator it's pretty much 12 hours light and 12 hours of darkness. We were still pretty tired and turned in early.

February 1 - Last full day here. After another breakfast and walk on the beach we drove to the next town over Matapalo so Jim could visit a place he found online that he'd wanted to book this leg of the trip with but was full up - Charlie's Jungle House. It's a beautiful place, and we met the owner, his son and a few of the folks that work there and just fell in love with Matapalo. Most beautiful beach and I completely neglected to take any photos or bring my Ipad. There's a large public beach with parking that's deserted and a gaggle of private homes and a few rentals mostly inhabited by Americans right on the beach.

Charlie took us around, introduced us to a couple of people in the area, including a couple that spent three months in their Matapalo home and three or four months back in San Francisco. I was fascinated talking to the wife because she was a retired criminal investigator with the city and we had many things to talk about. Charlie took us to this couple because they've had trouble finding reliable house sitters for the months they are stateside. Right now they have someone for their trip from April to August, but we exchanged contact information for a possible house sit in the future. Apparently you can live for just about free in exchange for housesitting for Americans in Costa Rica.

I really do not want to do that, I made that clear to Jim on this trip. I want to find a place and settle. We did enough moving around during his Army years.

Unlike the sky high rents anywhere near Tamarindo you can rent here quite reasonably. There are very nice townhouses on the hillside overlooking Dominical beach for 300 US dollars a month. You can get a rental house in Matapalo for five or six hundred and we toured a rental right on the beach in Matapalo that I was trying mightily to twist Jim's arm into renting. Pricer than the rest, right on the beach, four bedrooms modern home with all the luxuries you could want and coming open in May, just when we're arriving, a thousand dollars a month. Just think! Step out of your front door and step onto the beach and the warm waters of the Pacific ocean.

There's really not a lot worth saying about the rest of the day, our last beach sunset, packing our suitcases and leaving the next morning after a last dip in the Pacific. We drove back, turned in the car and then started what felt like the never ending wait at the airport.

We changed planes in Fort Lauderdale, zooming through customs at the speed of light and not even being stopped or hassled or questioned once. We were still on TSA pre check status for some reason. Our flight from Fort Lauderdale to BWI was only about a quarter full, we were upgraded to better seats near the emergency exits and ended up chatting with the flight attendant most of the flight.

Horrible reality hit the minute we got back to the BWI airport and called the number for pickup to the parking place. The phone number was disconnected. Finally remembered the name of the other hotel that was also using this pickup and parking service and called them, but it was a frantic five minutes worrying about if our car would even be there. Stepping out into that 30 degree wind after having gotten up that morning and swam in the 90 degree weather was a shock. I wanted to turn around, get right back on that plane and go back to Costa Rica immediately.

We came back armed with knowledge of what we needed to do, information and contacts on moving there. We plan on being in CR for good in about six or ten weeks. It is happening.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Tossing Muffin Tins and Undeserved Guilt

We're still in the midst of the great purge and remodel to move. One of the interesting things about that is now I'm unearthing a pile of artifacts from a distant past. Many of them I am so just tossing. Some I really should toss because of the negative connotations of the times they remind me of.

Example. I found a set of muffin top baking pans in the very back of the kitchen cabinets. A lady I was friends with for about a year gave them to me. It was one of those friendships I had no business taking part in because it wasn't long into our interactions before she started to try mightily to make me doubt myself.

Okay, so that's not the hardest thing ever to do to me as I tend to live in my head, overthink everything and mentally beat myself up often without the feedback of others. Like the time recently I brought back a small glass jar filled with the most beautiful shells I collected and then found out after I was home that it's against the law to take sea shells from their beaches and out of the country. I guilted stressed over that small thing for a week.

I inwardly go D'oh all on my own, keep it to myself and try to move on. I don't need others piling it on.

I'm finally starting to learn in my old age that I'm my own worst enemy many times. I tend to get obsessional and tense about too many things, winding myself up. Didn't even realize I was doing that to myself until recently.

Back when I had this friend who gave me the muffin tin I didn't realize how much of my own anxiety I was driving, and I didn't recognize her attempts to push my buttons into feeling worse about myself. We were roughly the same age, studied in the same field in college, but took totally different paths in life after our educations. Miss Muffin Pan forsook stability, relationships, money and a number of other adult objectives to live her life as a self-supporting artist. I went the other way, I got married and had a family, relegating my art to a past time, a hobby, and working in another field.

She just relentlessly drove the notion at me that I'd somehow betrayed myself and art, settling for a lesser life, while she'd fully embraced what it meant to be an artist. I couldn't see at the time that what she was doing was pretty sick in its own way. She was trying to punish me for making the choices I did.

For awhile I felt that guilt, carried it around like a heavy backpack of rotten carcasses that really weren't mine to carry. She had me so effectively gas lit that I started to rethink and second guess every important decision I'd made since college. Guilt, useless guilt and feeling like I'd wasted my life. Until one day I started to question why someone who claimed to be a friend would try to push all my crazy buttons down at the same time. Why would someone tell me that my marriage and children were a cop out, the easy way out? Why deliberately try to trigger someone like that,... unless, just perhaps.... you were pretty miserable yourself.

She broke off our friendship and I didn't come to the knowledge of why she had said the things she did until much later. But it made a rough time in my life just a little harder, all of this went down back when I was having the first seeds of doubt about my religion happening and I got so sick from the constant attempts to have another child because of the teachings of our church. I ended up having to have a complete hysterectomy.

For a long time I really missed talking to her because we had so many things in common, that we both enjoyed, not just the arts. But I missed the warning signs that she wasn't the most stable when she started fighting with most of my other friends. 

Another sad thing is that I looked up to her for staying artistically 'pure' and her sacrifices to stay true to her real self. I admire that in folks, just not those people that try to knock you down so they can scramble up over you to feel better about themselves.

I do enough screwing up on my own. I don't need others trying to make me feel guilty over my path. Those muffin pans are going straight to Goodwill, and hopefully, someone else will feel blessed, not reminded of unearned guilt by them.

Don't let anyone try to tell you that your path is inauthentic. It's yours to live, not theirs. 

Friday, March 03, 2017

Pianos and Tears

Before I listed my piano on Craigslist I'd contacted a number of antique piano dealers around this area of Virginia and I've been corresponding with one of them for a week now. Emails with photos of my piano, pictures of the serial number plate, dimensions, etc.

Officially it's a vertical professional size. Yesterday he called and made an offer to pick it up today. He gave me a sum it was worth, what he was sure he could sell it at and we talked contract, making arrangements for him and his crew to come down today and pick it up.

While I was happy I was going to get something for it, something in the tens of thousands range because of the rarity and restoration, by the time I got up this morning my words of a few weeks ago about feeling nothing about this important part of my life are wrong. I got up depressed, weeping and wailing that I was selling what had been in our family, my father's family for nearly 80 years now. It hit me hard.

I cried all day. I cried while I polished the mahogany top, the wooden carving of curlicues across the front. I cried polishing the keys. I cried while vacuuming out the innards and dusting the felt hammers. It started to feel like a betrayal of a family member, not a sale of something I cannot use any longer.

Talked to my cousin who'd had the piano for about five years immediately after my father had to fetch it during the divorce and she told me a piano tale in the family that I'd not heard. Apparently during a hurricane in the 40s the family homestead on Bayou Manchac was suddenly flooded and during the wild wind, rain and flooding the floor in the living room started to come apart and my grandparents pushed and pulled that monstrously heavy instrument through the living room and into the kitchen to save it from the storm. I had no idea. Apparently I'm not the only one in the family that treasured it.

But about the time I fully made peace with letting go of this family member the piano dealer showed up, did a quick play and broke the news to me that the sound board is starting to crack. Meaning it's not worth piles of money. It makes it nearly worthless, closer to five hundred bucks. Oh well.

I had started to notice a slight buzz/burr sound on a few notes only in the last year, wondered if it had anything to do with the last tuning or a need for adjustment, not dreaming that the sound board had started to crack. Once that happens the wood of the piano is worth more than the instrument itself.

We have an appointment with the local antiques auction house on Monday, and I'll add my piano to the bulks of furniture and china we'll be selling through the auction.

On a very sad note the auction appointment had to be pushed back because of nephew of the auctioneer died this week. A kid that had attended high school with my two youngest. Funeral is tomorrow. Another young person in our community dead from an opioids.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Costa Rica Day 7

Monday, January 30, 2017

We lazed around the Valley Vista Lodge for the morning after arising with the birds. Today was a short drive around the Pacific coast to the beach area at Playa Dominical. Tried to get a photo of all the 'Iguana Crossing' signs on the highway to no avail. The traffic was moving too fast.

During breakfast I had two surprises. I tried fresh squeezed star fruit juice for the first time and secondly, a local lady started ranting about Donald Trump, saying she hoped someone would bump him off. I'm not wild about him as president, but I have no wish for him to be harmed in that way. Likely it would only make him a martyr.

In the morning we were finally able to get a great view of the countryside around the hotel and I got a few shots of the iguana that lives on the grounds of the hotel.

Jim had to do all the driving today and we were seriously delayed leaving because I contracted travelers tummy, or maybe it was my IBS reacting to the star fruit juice. I ended up feeling rather dehydrated and dizzy sick.

We had to stop for a late lunch since I felt so crummy just north of Jaco - at a surfing school and restaurant named 'Bowie's Point'. The restaurant was on the beach and open air. I managed to get some invalid food, plantains, white rice and toast along with some of the other traditional Tico food. I started to feel better almost immediately after having the rice. I think that the stomach troubles gave me too low of a blood sugar.

But the magical part of the stop was that a big splash of color in the trees caught my eye. It was a group of rainbow-hued Macaw parrots in the wild, living and nesting in the beach front trees. We stayed on that beach for an hour just so I could try and snap a few parrot pictures. Didn't get a good one, either too blurry, too much sun, too much shade in the trees and too much movement by the birds. Incredibly moving sight for someone that has been involved in parrot rescue for years. This is how they should be, free and wild, not living in cages or zoos. If you look closely the colorful speck in the middle of this photo is one of the parrots.

We revisited Quepas, and the resort we stayed at two years ago in Manuel Antonio. Jim has several ideas for businesses in Costa Rica he's working on involving motorcycle tours of the country. The hotel owner in Quepas is on board, willing to give us a break on a group of rooms for the tour group.

But the shocker of the day was Playa Dominical. You turn out the main highway onto this suddenly bumpy dirt road, dirty, touristy and very down market. The hotel was nothing like the online photos or description. We opened the door to our room to be greeted by a 3 inch long roach dead in the middle of the floor. Dirty, old and beat-up rooms. But on the beach and cheap, cheap, cheap with breakfast and dinner included.

I suppose the view at sunset from the Dominical beach makes up for the crappy room and the hotel welcoming committee....

After I got over my white middle aged entitlement and squeamishness we had a pleasant evening there complete with a visit to a beach bar owned by a guy from New Orleans. He used to be the soundman at a place I spent many evenings watching bands - The Warehouse. I saw Mott the Hoople for the first time at The Warehouse. Had a drink called a 'Dirty Banana' before it was bedtime for this old coot pair.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Peeling Away the Layers

This afternoon I gave vent to my frustrations with dealing with issues related to the move. I peeled wall paper away from the living room walls. I feel a huge sense of relief that I've managed to eradicate the Thomas Kinkade wallpaper border of softly lit cottages from the living room.

Back during my cult church years I was seriously enamored of Kinkade's prints of a charmed life, and no only used the wallpaper border in the living room and hallway. I bought and hung up a ton of his prints, all printed with scriptures. Guess what? Those prints have now all gone on to new homes courtesy of the wonders of Ebay.

In the last few years I have found myself gagging over that wallpaper border and those prints. They evoke an era that I will never return to. Every time my eyes fell on a brightly lit cottage or bubbling brook with Biblical sayings on them I wanted to puke.

So when we talked to the guy that would be painting our house soon he suggested if we wanted to speed things along we should do the basic stripping of all the wallpaper out and he'd deal with whatever leftover hardened glue we could not remove.

Spent the morning packing things off to the dump or Goodwill, but this afternoon and evening was spend ripping that paper off with a vengeance. I've destroyed the cottages completely now! Peeling another layer away in recovery.

The painter told me too that the wallpaper in my bedroom is in perfect shape even after 27 years and that it's obviously expensive, so he did not recommend stripping and painting that bedroom. So guess what? I'm about to tell the realtor that the bedroom wallpaper stays and the new tenant will have to get accustomed to it. I told the realtor originally that I wanted to keep the paper up in that room because it's my favorite, no cottages or bold print, just a simple light blue with pinkish tiny flowers. No bad connotations.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Costa Rica Day 6 - Lost

Sunday, January 29, 2017

We were up early this morning. Here as soon as the sun peeks out over the horizon the birds and animals wake up and start their morning songs. There is not sleeping through that in here. Not that I'm complaining. I don't mind being woken up at 5 am by the hooting of monkeys.

We decided to have breakfast at a nicer beachside restaurant instead of the same Soda we've been eating at for a couple of days. We ate at Witch's Rock, pancakes, fruit, eggs and bacon for a change from all the rice, beans and plantains. We ate while watching the surfers ride the morning waves, and watching the surfing instructors put their students through their paces, push up and jump into crouching position, running on the beach, windmilling arms madly. Makes me tired just watching! I learned as a kid without all the fancy exercises.

Breakfast was followed by another walk on the beach. As we walked back to the hotel there was a lady set up under a tree with a massage table right on the beach. Last trip we got nude massages in a spa outside on the side of a volcano. This time we got nearly nude massages right on the beach. Wonderful. The only problem with it was that I misunderstood the price, she quoted me one price but charged double when it came time to pay, and of course she wanted American dollars cash, not local currency. Not surprised. But it was well worth it in the end. One of the hardest massages I've ever had, I was seeing stars by the time she finished pulling and pummeling. As usual with a hard medical type massage I finally had feeling back in my hands that I don't usually have because of pinched nerves in my back. I just hate the being shaken down for dollars like a rich tourist.

We braved the icy electrocution shower one last time, packed, bought more fresh fruit salad, fresh local banana bread for the road and left around noon for our next hotel, driving into the central valley area. It was a long journey that had us driving down the beach areas on the west coast before heading through the port town of Punta Arenas. Being it was a Sunday and sunny the entire area of Punta Arenas was crowded with people enjoying the beach, and traffic crawled, taking us a full hour to get around to the main highway towards our next hotel.

At least most of this day's drive was on major highways, not windy twisty pitted roads with one lane bridges. The problem was that this next hotel and the town that it was listed as in were not to be found on the GPS. The map I had was no help. We got close and then stopped something like six times to ask directions in broken pigeon Spanglish. Turns out it was at the top of a mountain up winding roads and quite isolated.

It was fascinating that as we got close to the place I started to see signs in German, a sign advertising that an apartment complex was under German management. One of the places we stopped to ask directions had German beer and was serving German food, Jagerschnitzel and the like. Found out later that there is a large German population in that area and that they celebrate Octoberfest.

When we found the place we discovered much to our disgust that had screwed up royally again. This place, the Valley View Lodge, didn't even have reservations for us and had no rooms left. In the end we ended up paying for an upgraded room, much more than what we needed or had reserved and I'd had an angry conversation with an Indian call center demanding they refund the money I'd paid three weeks before. Instead of a single room with double beds, or just one bed we ended up with an enormous apartment style suite that slept nine people comfortably. I told Jim that it was bigger even than any rental place we needed.

The view when we arrived was just amazing, you could see all the way out to another set of volcanos.

The air here is amazing. I can breathe freely and fully for the first time in a very long time. Absolutely zero tightness in my lungs. Tons of wildlife, iguanas, birds, trees laden with ripening star fruit. A tiny bird just came up and sat in the chair right next to mine watching me as I write this down in my notebook. He stayed several minutes. Charming.

Where else can you see signs on a highway warning you to be careful of the iguanas crossing the road? I wish we could stay here in this hotel and area a few days. We passed an orchid museum / garden on our way here and the town at the base of the mountain looks like a place worth exploring. I would not mind settling in this area.