22 October 2016

Reluctant Traveller

We are headed on our annual trip to Vegas next month.  I wasn't going to go this year but then things changed and I was going.  Now I'm regretting going. 

Now, how can one be regretting going on a trip, you wonder.  Well, a variety of reasons but mainly one.  I have been a bunch of times so there's not much left for me to see now.  I'm becoming more of a hermit as time passes.  And then there is Kevin's brother.

His brother has mental illness, mixed with just being an ass.  The older he's gotten, the worse it has gotten.  He has anxiety and depression and it's untreated.  He not only refuses to address it, his parents have "allowed" (not quite the right word, roll with me on it) him to exist in this headspace that allows horrible behavior.

I have full understanding that people with mental illness can't always control their behaviors and we have made allowances.  We don't ask him to plan things, we don't have him drive anywhere, we know he can't be counted on in an emergency.

 It's not a case of "Well, he just can't help himself" but a case of "You should have put a stop to this behavior forty years ago."  Plus the need for medical intervention.  Instead, it's just "Oh, he's always been that way." and "that's just him" that just ladles guilt onto anyone who dare express frustration.  He has been consistently dickish and when called on it, can rein it in.  So, there is the distinction between illness and being a jackhole.

We have seen him be an ass, to put it lightly, to everyone from his elderly parents to the new baby, to strangers.  An ass in such a way that friends have backed away.  An ass like yelling at his wife so loudly over the phone that we can hear him as if he's in the room.  An ass like wake up a sleeping baby and saying "I was just playing." 

He doesn't pull it with me because he knows there would be bloodshed, not only inflicted by me but by Kevin.  He pulls it with Kevin but always when it's just one on one, which is abusive and makes me furious.  Which shows control and intention. 

This is the part where I say that Kevin has purposefully pulled away over the last year or two.  He has finally recognized the unhealthy state of that relationship.  He also sees his future without his parents as any sort of buffer and support.  And that we have friends slowly backing away.

So, of course, this is who we are traveling with.  He has an unhealthy attachment to Kevin and he does whatever Kevin does.  He includes himself in whatever Kevin does.  If Kevin friends someone on social media, so does his brother.  If Kevin starts liking something, so does his brother.  If Kevin has a friend, he is their friend too.  You get the idea.

Here's the zippy twist and trip regret.  Originally, I was going to skip this trip.  I can't hardly be in the same room as his brother.  To quote a mob movie, I've seen too much.  It's not just the assholery.  It's having conversations interrupted because he can't bear to be not in on the conversation, it's endless texting, it is relentless.

But months ago Kevin mentioned driving to Vegas.  I told him that if it were just he and I traveling, I am all in.  100% down with that idea.  But the idea of doing it with his brother was a dealbreaker.  So, Kevin decided not to do it.  (there were other reasons also, to be fair)  

His brother had decided that he was going to do it anyway.  We were relieved,  finally he was going to do something separate for us.  And this is where we were stupid:  We believed him.

I booked our tickets and was planning our trip in my head.  We were going to have 1.5 days alone and possible one day at the racetrack alone plus the flights.  It was actually going to be a vacation.  I was thinking of things that Kevin hadn't seen or something we could do together.  I was actually excited for time alone with him and knowing that Saturday and Sunday, I would probably just kick it in the hotel room and wouldn't that be lovely.

Then my sister-in-law texted me and asked to get together to book tickets. (because they are helpless. Seriously)   There was a blue mushroom cloud of profanity above my head for quite a while. Of course they (he) changed his mind and we were stupid enough to fall for it.

To make it more awkward, Kevin was with his brother at an event.  I couldn't call him and yell "AREYOUEFFINGKIDDINGME!?!?!"  So, I texted him instead.  He replied that he was sorry and that he would do everything possible to still keep our plans.  Isn't that just ADORABLE?  Like the narcissist is going to let that happen.  Sweet, sweet boy.

Now I'm back being annoyed and wishing I'd just stayed home. But I didn't want to be away from Kevin for a week, I didn't feel great about him traveling alone and I do love Vegas.

"Lucky" for us, they have to take a different flight home because they waited so long to book tickets. This caused a meltdown "How are we going to get to the airport!?!" he said.  "It's called a TAXI." is Kevin's response.  He's already practicing.

They want to share a car (like always) and I haven't volunteered for that yet.  I may lie and say that we can only get a small car and that they need their own.  But then we're stuck with a small car. That's not cool.

So, we'll see.  This is why headphones and alcohol were invented.  And we're hanging with our friends so I have to focus on that too.  We have 25 days to plan.  It will give us a good story to tell, maybe. 

But I'm still pissed.

12 October 2016

Dog Whistle Trigger Warning

I don't hide the fact that I'm a bleeding heart liberal.  I also don't shove it in people's faces.  I understand that everyone thinks a little differently.  I agree with some principals from the conservative side, I'm not a party-line separatist. I diligently try to see all angles.

In this election however, it has brought out the worst in Americans.  I have to take breaks from social media and the news because it has gotten so dark.  And I don't mean because the "side" I am on is losing or winning.  It's just a vacuum of negativity right now.

I'm utterly disappointed in my friends and family who support He Who Shan't Be Named.  I just can't understand how someone who likes/loves me is totally okay with supporting a racist, sexist, zenophobic, hateful person.  Totally fine with his abhorrent behavior and attitude because he's "not a politician" or the other one is "SO much worse."  How is that even possible?

A writer I recently started following on the facebook finally was able to sum up how I was feeling the night of the debate.  I went to bed exhausted and sad.  I was morose and I couldn't pinpoint exactly why. I read this the next morning and felt like I'd just had a therapy session.

Because it bears being reposted everywhere, in my humble opinion, I am pasting it below:
"Last night, I watched the debate at an oblique angle. From the kitchen. Looking away. Sometimes with headphones playing music. I paced. I left. I sought distraction. I came back. The bile came up in my throat.

I wasn't nerve-wracked by the outcome; the statistical cake is baked. More reputation-eviscerating tapes will emerge. I'm not worried about the guy as president. But I was still a bundle of nerves. I didn't recognize why until this morning.

If you've ever lived with an abuser and made it out to tell the tale, then you remember that not every single day was a nightmare. This was part of the hold over you. Some days were average. Some were somewhat livable. Others were not. You just prayed you could get a little bit of serenity, the tiny chunks on which you learned to survive.

But then, especially if you challenged that person, there was the wind up. You thought last Tuesday was bad? Oh...really? THAT bothered you did it? Thought you'd complain, did you?

The weak signals of the wind up were part of the cat and mouse. Make ME feel bad about something, will you? Well what about...this? Or one of...these? Guess who *I* invited over? When? Oh, this evening. No problem, is there? I'll leer at you and for the millionth time force you to pretend that This Is All Normal.

It was never the electrical discharge of abhorrent behavior that was the crux of the abuse - it was that game right there.

When Trump had that press conference with those women prior to the debate, that's when my pulse shot up thirty percent. I didn't understand it until this morning, when I woke up and asked, "Is it over? Is it morning?" and remembered when else I felt that way.
That same weight, the awful obligation to make it all normal, was plastered on the faces of both the Trump and Clinton families. But you saw it make its surprise appearance on the face of America's top television journalists. Dear God, must we? Can we really make it through...how long will this be? What if he...? What is he planning here?

That series of questions and the inexorable focus onto one person's sick behavior is the essence of living with an abuser.

Luckily, like with all of our adult relationships, we get a choice to be in this one or not.
See you all November 8."


I lived with someone just like he described for two years.  I had people in my life who didn't believe that he was just like that.  I bet, if asked, some would still express doubt.  Even with a permanent restraining order in place, there's a tiny bit of "Well, who knows?"

That is how insidious this type of behavior and person is.  That is how dangerous a person like he is.  Twenty seven years later and I'm still triggered by this type of behavior.

05 October 2016

Completing a Circle

I rarely plan anything in my life.  So it comes to no surprise to me that I stumbled, almost literally, into this situation.

"Closure" is not a word that I enjoy.  It's just too buzzwordy and seems self-serving, in my opinion.  But here I am, feeling the effects of closure.  I mean, I know it's a thing and a thing that has worth.  But I think the need for closure that might never happen will always exist because: humans.

It wasn't really on my to-do list. It was something I've thought about but not something I would have ever had the motivation to put into motion by myself.  It's not an easy thing to do.  Even with still being in contact with this person off and on, clearly there was an elephant in the room that we were ignoring.

It began with an impulsive, simple Happy Birthday text.  Then a joke was made.  Then sh*t got real.  Before I knew it a real and long overdue conversation happened.  The air was cleared, the past put to rest, and a new future is optional.  Not guaranteed because stuff still happened but it's not a duck-down-an-aisle-in-the-grocery-store kind of situation anymore. (which I've totally done)

To protect this person, I am not going into specifics.  This is part of honoring that closure. This is so squelching the need for OMG YOU GUYS. I WANT TO TELL YOU ALL THE THINGS.

Instead of carrying around a consistent feeling of "Sh*t, I effed that all up." when I think of this person; I know that I am forgiven and that person has no doubt of my feelings or intentions, either past or present. And the reverse is true because it takes two.

This is not the part where I recommend "You should do this too!" because No.  I don't know if it was a good idea in the long run, I can only speak for my side, and I think it is a very personal and individual thing.  Really, it's not something I did purposefully so I can take no credit.  I tripped over the universe and here I am, mildly unscathed.  I can only acknowledge that I feel better afterward and hope that the other person does also.

26 September 2016

Someone Just Send Me a Damn Book

For the longest time, I was signed up with a book club that allowed a person to build a Want to Read list and they sent a book each month from that list for $10 monthly. It worked great for me because I could add a book then forget about it until it arrived.  It also allowed me to have a list to refer to when I found myself in a bookstore.

 I had noticed that the selection of books were waning and wondered how long it was going to last.  And, the answer was not much longer.  Now I'm on the hunt for something to replace this club.

I find The Literary Club is annoying.  It's the electronic version of Send in the Coupon or We'll Send You the Book and Overcharge You Greatly.   It's slightly different as it's via email but it's confusing how it actually works.  There's credits, and shipping charges if you don't order more than one book, and it might just be me but a slight tone of disapproval if you decline the  featured selection.

So, then I looked at the Book of the Month Club.  This is similar but different.  It gives a person five choices and the shipping appears free.  But it tweaks my Don't Tell Me What to Read rebellion.  I am considering it  but I haven't committed.

There is, of course, always Amazon.  Here's the thing about that: it's like a crack dealer to me.  I go with the intention of buying just one book but then I've added five more to my cart and a bathmat or movie or all.the.things. So yeah, crack dealer.  I will pre-order a book though then promptly forget that I do it until Surprise!

I just want someone to send me a book I want to read each month with very little effort required of me.  Is that too much to ask?  Probably.

So, I did a search of subscription services and finally landed on this one.  The Bookish Box

It is not a book club, per se.  So, it doesn't fulfill the book need.  But it does fulfill the OMG TREATS! need.

I signed up for the one that doesn't include a t-shirt and I'm still dithering over that decision.  But OMG treats!

Bookmarks! magnet! highlighter & page markers! tea! earrings!  Book preview!

So, the search continues for a book club subscription that fulfills my bratty needs. Until then, I highly recommend the Bookish Box.  It was so worth it just based on the fun of opening it.

24 September 2016


So, here we are again.  Another tragedy. 

We listened to this one unfold almost in real time last night.  There is an independent news page on the facebook that was posting information in real time and by crowdsourcing.  They also provided a police scanner link so we could listen.  In the best and worst way, social media kept everyone in the know.  Again. 

Luckily, we were home last night. We didn't go to Friday Night Dinner because I have a cold that the baby shared with me.  Otherwise, odds are good we would have been in the neighborhood of the mall.

The surreality will be difficult to shake.  It's weird seeing your hometowns in the news.  It's weird hearing phrases you hear in CSI shows and movies being used in real world terms.

We don't know the victims, or so it seems as their names haven't been released but in a small county like this one, it doesn't matter.  We'll know someone who knew someone.

We've been all through that mall, both as shoppers and as workers.  Back in the day when we were cool, we held a car show there that allowed us inside the mall after hours.  We know how dark it is after hours, we know the back hallways.  It was relevant to us as we listened.  The store that it happened in?  I believe we have a photo of our car in front of it in the albums. 

We're familiar. My niece worked in that mall until about six months ago.  A person can only say thank you and not What If.

Our friend's teenage daughter posted this link earlier today and I was really struck by it.  It's a little churchy for some, just heads up. 

News just stated they have the guy.  No community connections, just a random shooting. 

There are no words other than gratitude to the hundreds of first responders.  And "Again."

23 September 2016

A Trial Run

 I was just thinking that I need an old-fashioned typewriter to write this post. I need to jab keys and slam the thingy that makes the paper return to emphasize frustration and emotions.

Kevin's dad just spent a week in the hospital with an untreated, massive UTI, a-fib, and out of control sugar.  He was really, really sick and in the CCU for a while.

So, that was awful.  He's a horrible patient, either being jerky or being "funny" (borderline to straight up inappropriate)  He would justify his behavior as flirting and that is "how truck drivers communicate".  You can imagine the chorus of "Umm, NO." from the family.  "These folks are NOT waitresses."  we said.  The CNA said "Well, we're waitresses that wipe butts."  This fell somewhere between funny and OMGSHUTUP.

He's had potty issues, if you will, for a while now.  It's been a thing but if the mom brings it up, he has these massive outbursts and doesn't talk to her.  Because...she's causing him to smell like pee? But he just figured he was old and this is how it goes.  We all admit to thinking that as well.
He claims he didn't notice his heart fluttering or skipping beats but we call bullsh*t on that because we've noticed things.  And, sigh, the sugar.  That's a hopeless topic right there.

To add some extra special sauce on the situation, he is ALL OVER the mom if she doesn't take her meds, or go to the doctor, or whatever.  But the same rules don't apply in the reverse.  Oh no, don't you Even.

Because he is Kevin's mom caregiver, she had to have a babysitter while he was hospitalized.  This is where I say Thank tiny baby jesus for our sis-in-law who isn't working right now.  She shouldered all the burden.

They moved the mom into Kevin's brother's house (again:  thank you baby jesus) and then s-i-l had custody of her during the day, as well as at night.  I know I couldn't have done all that she did and still have everyone alive.  Although, I don't know that she doesn't harbor dreams of smothering multiple family members in their sleep.

Now he's home and saying he feels better than he has ever felt. He said he's going to do All The Things but I don't think he actually left the house today so we'll see.  Even if he does feel brand new, he's still 78 years old and just spent a week in hospital.

He's on massive antibiotics, blood thinners, and is supposed to monitor his sugar.  We are skeptical that all of these things are going to happen.  The both of them are really big on not doing what doctors tell them.  Because: reasons.

AND, we still believe he's had a stroke in the past year or so.  He was so sick while in the hospital that we couldn't get an answer about that beyond "could be".  He's going to a new geriatric doctor next week and we'll see.  He's been unusually combative, saying random garbled words/sentences, forgetting things.  All the things that Kevin's mom does, really.

The problem being (out of many but let's focus on this specific one) is that both parents are horrible reporters.  She can't remember anything or fixates on the one irrelevant thing.  He also struggles with remembering everything AND BONUS ROUND: often goes for the melodramatic.  "It could be cancer!" are words that have actually been said.

Also, we have a solid plan for when his mom goes to the hospital.  Grab her meds, her DNR, her list of illnesses, we know who to call and who's responsible for what.  But with this adventure, it all fell apart.  The biggest piece that fell apart was alerting the hospital staff of the mom's issues.  You know, letting them know about unimportant things like the DNR and that she has vascular dementia so don't expect her to remember or understand everything.

But, the parents don't need help.  Just ask them.  Doesn't matter that they both forget her oxygen, neither wears their CPap masks, eat high sodium, high sugar, and high fat foods, and that their house is a mess.  They don't need help. They don't want Visiting Nurse or Chore Program, Meals on Wheels, nope.  They've got this. Right up until they don't.<----shaking br="" head="" my="">

We have to get to that place where a person just had to stand back and let it fall apart.  Like teenagers, they're going to do it their way and that's that. However, the challenge being is they essentially live with us.  There is no disconnecting.

The "fun" part about my parents when my dad was dying is that they didn't tell anyone anything until it was all resolved.  Ambulance rides, falls, hospital stays, no need to know until afterward.  As messed up as it was, I think I prefer it to the "OMG EVERYTHING IS FALLING APART. COME RUNNING RIGHT NOW" only to arrive to find that everything is fine.

This aging parents thing sucks.  I can't even sugar coat it.  But, at least we have some experience from when my dad was sick, and all the times that the mom has been sick.  We just have to stick to what we know.  Ugh.  We know what to do next time.

18 September 2016

Focus on the Positive

It's been a spectacularly crappy week. I cannot even.

So. Focusing on the positive.

My new favorite song: Vice, Miranda Lambert
New favorite podcast: Nerdist with Chris Hardwick
New favorite movie: Brooklyn
New favorite treat: The Bookish Box
New favorite sweatshirt: weathered blue Hanes that cost $17.99
New favorite drink: white chocolate mocha

11 September 2016

04 September 2016

22 August 2016

A Daily Challenge

I try not to say that I've had a bad day.  Because unless someone died or my house burned down, it is just a day with bad moments.

But man, oh man, has the universe been testing my patience and Serenity NOW!  Work has been challenging, Kevin just finished a nine day state job that had him leaving at 5 in morning and not getting home until 730 in the evening.  It just feels like everything is extra strength challenging right now.

I did look it up because: nerd,  and Mercury is in retrograde this week and there as one of those super full moon episodes.  You can't work in social services and not believe, even just a little, in that stuff.  It's also the end of summer when many folks are cranky. 

So, the prescription for self care is watching Elementary and Doctor Who, listening to podcasts at work so that I don't use my hands instead of my words, I'm trying to eat gawddamned bananas to boost my system and I effing hate bananas. I'm trying to focus that my summer break is next week and that Kevin will be home too, for the first time ever.

But in the meanwhile, if you hear me muttering "only bad moments..." Basically, just run.

So, bad moments, not bad days.  But those moments are starting to add up.

21 August 2016

Like A Record, Baby

This is your mind on ADD.  I came into the office to work on a project and this is what has happened.

I took down one picture that was from my office two jobs ago and replaced it with one of the racecar.  Now I have to decide what I want to do with this picture.  So, it is propped on the lamp, which I'm certain the lamp appreciates.

Then I decided that I was going to make a collage of the racecar with an old frame and a stack of old photos from the track photographer.  The paper on the floor is because I wanted to make some sort of  a mat for the collage.  The paper in the far left corner on the floor is Lucy "helping" me.

So, now there are also stacks of papers on the desk.  I knew I had put some photos in one of the drawers, where I also store bills that are pending or need to be filed.  Clearly, I've not done this in a little while.

Then I realized that I forgot to eat lunch.  Yes, I am that human being who forgets to eat.

Then Kevin called.

All the while, I'm thinking that I have time to go get groceries before Kevin gets home and then I don't have to do it during the weekend.

Meanwhile, I started writing this, started putting things away, then realized that I hadn't scanned three photos that I had, then I sat down to do it and here we are.

11 August 2016

Grocery Shopping - Mouse Maze Level Expert

The grocery store in the city where I work had remodeled right around the time that I left my old job, nearly two years ago. I hate the new layout so much that I will drive south to into the next county to shop at the not-remodeled one.

This is the first grocery store I used when we moved up here in 1991 and I began working in this city.  So, my attachment to it is deep.  This is also an example of First World Problems.

I hate it with the power of 1,000 suns.  Here's why:

As I've mentioned, I work in a university city.  August - May there are a ton of college kids everywhere.  Here's the thing about shopping with college kids: a) they shop in packs. b) because this is often the first time they've been away from home, shopping etiquette is not a thing for them.         c) they whole-heartedly believe they are the funniest people who ever lived and would like you to know this too.  (I might say here that it is a very liberal university.  Maybe it's different elsewhere, maybe the kids are better behaved elsewhere...hello, ninety year old woman here)

This is not the #1 reason I detest this store though.  I know, it's been mentioned that I have perhaps have given this way too much thought.  These are the kinds of things that ruin my life though.  Welcome to my brain.

The aisles are staggered.  There is no straight-through from the back of the store to the exit.  Now, I've been in a store when the power went out and also when the fire alarm sounded.  You want a clear pathway when this happens.  I don't want to dance with four other carts trying to cross to the other aisle.  Liken it to trying to cross a four-lane highway, it's just not a good idea.

But no, in their marketing genius brains, they have staggered lanes.  As in, the cereal aisle ends in the middle and to continue down the remainder of the aisle a) you can't and 2) you have to jog four steps to the right or left to continue down another aisle.  Traffic Jam Central.

AND (of course I'm not done, silly)  They've created little pockets, like little mini stores within the store.  The meat department is tucked into one corner but also stretches along the wall.  The bakery is jammed between the meat department and the deli.  There is a huge wine and alcohol section unto itself, complete with wine tasting bar.  The produce is in it's own little crowded area.  The dairy?  Well, let me tell you about the dairy section.  It goes all the way along the back of the store with refrigerated sections down the middle of the aisle.  So, if you want cheese, it's on one end of the store.  Want milk? it's on the other end. Sucks to be you.

Oh, and every other store in the universe groups cleaners and paper products in the same general area.  Nope, not this store. This store is a rebel!  Cleaners are next to the pet food, then it's the freezer section and then it's paper products.  So, even the aisles aren't grouped in a regular fashion.

I recognize that my brain depends on things being the same.  I don't pay close enough attention often to deal with changes like these.  As we learned when Kevin was grocery shopping, I can tell you that the rice is in an orange box at my eye level.  Brand name or flavor?  Psssh, who needs that.  But I don't feel like I'm asking for an unreasonable thing here.

I have forced myself to shop there.  Forced myself to adapt and deal.  And...no.  There isn't a quick trip into the store.  You have to wander the entire store to get the three different items you need.  I will spend $10 more at the high-end grocery store or go without instead.

The other shopping options are Whole Foods and Trader Joes, (hello, super liberal city), Safeway - which is more expensive than the store I hate, and Costco.  Oh, and Winco.  The last two stores are shop first thing in the morning or last thing at night stores.  That's exhausting, and no.  I rarely need a 55 gallon drum of detergent.

Moreover, it is a safety thing with me.  I don't feel safe in the store if something awful were to happen. The exits are not clearly marked or accessible. I don't understand how any public safety official is okay with this store design.

Heaven help us all if the store in the next county adapts this floor plan.

26 July 2016

This has GOT to be a Reality Show, right?

This might seem strange but we (Kevin and I) didn't know that our niece is a hoarder.  We have only been to her house once because family functions are always up at our houses.

Well, she and her family bought a new house last month. The plan was to move closer to our family, but due to finances and impulsivity, they bought a house 45 minutes away from us.  Super.

It is very rural and up a wooded, steep, and rocky driveway.  The main road is prone to flooding every winter and is notoriously dangerous. We are not excited about their choice.  It's as if there are flashing "DANGER!" signs everywhere and they're blind.

This being said, almost thirty-years ago we moved 25 minutes away from the family when we bought our house.  It was also in a rural environment.  BUT, we are self-sufficient and prepared.  One of THEIR first questions was about internet service providers.  Yea, priorities!

We know that housekeeping isn't even on the top 10 of our niece's list. We have noticed in social media photos that there is clutter in the background. Unfortunately, she was raised in mess so we thought it is just her perpetuating the lifestyle in which she was raised.

She bragged on social media for a month prior to moving about packing and in the last week prior to the move, repeatedly stating that she was all packed.  Now, don't we all feel silly for believing her.  To be fair, and in reality, everyone's definition of being "all packed" is very different.  Moving is never easy or fun for anyone involved.

But she's a stay-at-home mom of a teenager.  Her mother-in-law lives with them.  She's married.  She has the aforementioned teen.  It was beyond our reality that she wouldn't be completely packed.

Wooo boy, we were ten kinds of wrong.

This is where I clarify.  I'm fully aware that I use my OCD for mostly good.  I'm able to keep the house I have because I work part-time and Kevin is wired very similarly.  I by no means judge people by the issues that I have.

This was a legit hoarder house.  This was not "We're moving and I haven't had time to sweep."  This wasn't "We've been gone so I haven't had time to do dishes or laundry."  This was straight-up, no joke, a hoarder house. I don't know that a broom, mop, or vacuum could even be found in the house, let alone used.

I was so overwhelmed that I walked back outside.  I.Could.Not.Even.For.A.Minute.

What a person could see of the floor was filthy with dirt, pine needles and pet hair.  Every surface had something on it, actually multiple somethings.  Dust, clutter, garbage.  There was not a clear space in the entirety of the house.  A person couldn't tell what was furniture versus boxes or garbage. 

After being raised by smokers and temporarily married to one, my lungs no longer have tolerance for any kind of poor air quality.  I couldn't stay inside, I'd actually feel my respiratory system begin to tighten.

So, it was with abject horror that the family had decided it was perfectly fine that Kevin's mom was sitting in the middle of all of it AND without her oxygen.  I actually said aloud "Well, I guess we'll find time to visit her in the hospital."

AND THEN, Nephew, wife and kids arrived.  I didn't realize it until I spotted the baby in his car seat next to the mom.  I walked out to the wife and "hugged" her while whispering in her ear "Get.That.Baby.Out.of.That.House.RIGHT.NOW."

They, also, hadn't really been inside the house.  And they live literally one minute away.
She went inside, saw the state of things, and poor sweet baby was banished to the middle of an empty garage floor.  (still in his car seat.  And perfectly happy because Best Baby Ever, don't make me fight you.)

You know when something bad happens and your brain self-protects by kind of fuzzing your vision and deafening your ears? (please say yes)  This is how I existed for the next hour or so.  I had to stop looking directly at anything.

There was just a path through the living room into the dining area then into the kitchen.   Again, I can't state this enough: it wasn't moving mess.  It wasn't It's Messy Because We're Busy and I Don't Have Time to Clean mess.  It was...ugh, I just don't even have the words to describe.  AND I'm A WRITER.

There was a half-eaten pizza, at least a day old, on the table.  I don't even think it was in a box or on a plate.  Did I mention they have cats and a dog?  Yeah.   There were dirty dishes everywhere in the kitchen, dining room, end tables, mantel. I was there for a full hour before I realized there was a tank on the mantel.  Fish? Reptile? Empty?  We'll never know. The kitchen was labelled as "All packed".  Except, NO.  There were still full cupboards. Everything was sticky.  If it wasn't sticky, then it was damp.

There were boxes upon boxes, some sealed and some open.  They were old boxes, with debris on top of them to show that they had  been sitting there for a lengthy period of time.  They lived there about two years so we're wondering if they never unpacked, just brought in more "stuff."

I didn't make eye contact with the bathroom, I just couldn't bear it.  I went to help their son empty out his room.  Although he was more packed than any other place/person, everything was still covered in a sheen of sticky, dusty, hairy residue.  Finally, I just went outside and told Kevin that I just couldn't anymore. 

We took two big trucks with trailers full of stuff to the new house and it was like they hadn't packed one box.  You couldn't tell a difference.  Yet, the new house was full and they still had truckloads to move.  The kid's plan was to move the furniture next in a box truck.  We waited until it arrived and helped empty a freezer, a dining set, a single bed and a bunch of crap.  We had to move the crap we just moved in to make room for the crap in the box truck and there was still a house full of crap left behind.

It felt like the Twilight Zone.  I kept waiting for the punchline.  Or the real plan.  Or the Hoarders television people to drive up.  Something.  Finally, it was like a switch was flipped.  Kevin came and got me "We're DONE" and we left. 

Oh, wait.  I forgot to tell you.  There was no toilet paper at the new house.  No soap.  Thank sweet baby jesus that my sister-in-law has everything and there was kleenex in her purse.  Also, I "won" a bet because I mentioned to Kevin that I felt like I should take a roll of toilet paper, just in case.  

My sister-in-law spent two full days afterward helping her pack and move the rest of it.  They had to rent the box truck AGAIN.  I'm certain that their rental deposit is a distant memory and I can't imagine how pissed the landlord must be.  It had to look like one of the Before Houses in the flipping houses television shows. 

Fast forward two weeks, the niece gets a great idea and videos the interior of the entire house then puts it on the facebook.  Curious, I clicked on it.  Upon the opening frame, I shouted "JESUS CHRIST!", much to Kevin's surprise and dismay.  I immediately regretted my choices.

"What happened?"

"Go on your page and look at the video she just posted."


"Just do it. I can't even.  She posted a video of the house like it's a NORMAL THING to live like that."

The new house, freshly cleaned, painted, and carpeted, was completely lost in crap.  Again, a person couldn't see the furniture or the floor.  Not the couch, not the dining table, the beds, the floor, the kitchen.  It was awash in boxes and mess.

This brand new to them house looked exactly like the house they just left, only bigger.  And she posted it on social media.  Including commentary like "There's the big tub, I haven't cleaned it since I gave the dog a bath last weekend."

TWO WEEKS.   They have been in the house TWO WEEKS.

Now they're having a barbecue in two weeks.  Kevin is working and I'm trying to figure out how to get out of it.  I just can't conceive of eating a single piece of food knowing how they live, that everything was filthy in the old house and it was just brought into the new house.

And I just can't take the thought/worry that they now own it and it is going to be utterly destroyed in a few years.  At least before, they had a landlord who would come do repairs or replace appliances.  I just can't think about it.

I mean, people get through their lives.  They make horrible choices, repeatedly, and they get through their lives.  I just have to assume that it will be fine.

Now, I can cross off "See a legitimate hoarder house" off my life list.

21 July 2016

Three Things

I whole-heartedly believe that things come in threes.  I've seen it happen too many times for it to be a coincidence.  So, it was a little surprising yesterday when I was caught a little by surprise.

The other day, our faucet sprung a leak.  Not one where you imagine, but on top of the actual faucet.  The metal had developed a pin-hole leak.  I blamed it on the water diffuser first but finally realized that it was the faucet.

So, no big deal.  I planned on going to Home Depot anyway.  Kevin worked on Saturday so the puppy and I slept in.  As I was getting ready, the hairdryer decided not so much on the working thing.  Still, I didn't think much of it other than now I had to stop at a different store.

I took the puppy to get treats at the mocha stand, loaded up the truck with recyclables, and headed off for a quick trip into town.  I didn't need groceries so I thought certainly I would be gone for a little over an hour.

Until I stopped at the recycling center (The sign says "Recycling Park", which made me laugh...nothing says park like junk and the lovely Eau de Dump)  During the second unloading of stuff, I spotted my truck leaking water.  Sh*t.  I ducked underneath and confirmed green water.  Radiator?  Hose?  Doesn't matter, really, I'm twenty minutes from home.

I unloaded the rest then drove the truck down the road a bit to a little, actual park.  Now the truck was having all kinds of water action.  I phoned Kevin at work (his favorite) and he phoned his dad to come retrieve me.

We decided to get my truck home, not stressful at all.  I'm watching the gauge and listening for any weird noises, stopped every 10 miles, and it was not a relaxing drive at all.  But I made it back home.

Kevin got home from work, put a tester on the engine, called our friend who is a genius mechanic, and next thing I know, I'm driving it AGAIN.  This time even further.  Super fun.

I realised as I was pulling into our friends shop that I shouldn't be surprised.  First, the faucet, then the hair dryer, and then the truck.  Theoretically, I can now relax.  Please, Law of Threes, be kind and true.

Oh, and then, our friend phoned and said Thank God that my pump went out because the timing belt was about to go.  This is a life saver as a broken timing belt would mean brand new engine/truck.  Technically, the universe looked out for me.

Vacation Slide Show...2016 Style

So, well, ummm, how's your summer going?  The only way I could think of to describe my summer was to screenshot the photo album on my phone.  The above represents about two weeks of our life.

We moved my niece and nephew into their first home.  There is A LOT to this story so that's all I have to say about that.

It's the Dog Days of Summer here, finally.

I fell down the stairs, again.

Sweet Baby is almost six months old and the best baby ever.

There was nationwide controversy in my hometown over a "miscommunication" about the welcomeness of police officers.

Our friend was caught being a creeper during a newscast about said miscommunication.  (he's in the orange Camaro in the television photo)

My 4Runner blew a water pump but saved us thousands of dollars in the long run so...that's good?

My faucet also broken down but now I have a cool new one that I love.

We had dinner with friends who live far away from us.  He's a Master Carpenter so he had opinions about the DIY television shows.  And we found out he's diehard Baptist.  Everyone discusses theology in Red Robin, right?

The grocery cart shot is because Kevin eats like a six-year-old if allowed.  He asked for Chicken in a Bisquit crackers, which I think are SO GROSS.

And, as you can see, I take way too many photos of the dog and it's obvious that we don't have children.

How's your summer going?

(Oh, I'm fine, by the way.  I'll tell the falling down the stairs story next)

18 June 2016

Focus on the Beauty

A teenaged friend put out a query on the Facebook today: "Drop the names of your favorite poems."

I immediately thought of The Day is Done by Longfellow. I first read it in high school and loved it. I am the type of nerd who wishes I still had that high school English teacher textbook.

Then I remembered Desiderata. I had a plaque with this poem in two of my offices and I think I need to find it again.

After an ugly, emotional week we have all had, here is a little peace and beauty.

The Day is Done - Longfellow

The day is done, and the darkness 
      Falls from the wings of Night, 
As a feather is wafted downward 
      From an eagle in his flight. 

I see the lights of the village 
      Gleam through the rain and the mist, 
And a feeling of sadness comes o'er me 
      That my soul cannot resist: 

A feeling of sadness and longing, 
      That is not akin to pain, 
And resembles sorrow only 
      As the mist resembles the rain. 

Come, read to me some poem, 
      Some simple and heartfelt lay, 
That shall soothe this restless feeling, 
      And banish the thoughts of day. 

Not from the grand old masters, 
      Not from the bards sublime, 
Whose distant footsteps echo 
      Through the corridors of Time. 

For, like strains of martial music, 
      Their mighty thoughts suggest 
Life's endless toil and endeavor; 
      And to-night I long for rest. 

Read from some humbler poet, 
      Whose songs gushed from his heart, 
As showers from the clouds of summer, 
      Or tears from the eyelids start; 

Who, through long days of labor, 
      And nights devoid of ease, 
Still heard in his soul the music 
      Of wonderful melodies. 

Such songs have power to quiet 
      The restless pulse of care, 
And come like the benediction 
      That follows after prayer. 

Then read from the treasured volume 
      The poem of thy choice, 
And lend to the rhyme of the poet 
      The beauty of thy voice. 

And the night shall be filled with music, 
      And the cares, that infest the day, 
Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs, 
      And as silently steal away. 

15 June 2016

A Glimpse of Silver

I have been blonde a large portion of my life.  I am also the only blonde in my family; everyone else has dark brown/nearly black hair.  When I was in my thirties, my hair started to turn brown. I did not accept this gracefully.

I am not a vain person but I just couldn't bear having brown hair.  It just felt foreign and weird. It didn't feel like me and my skin coloring wouldn't support it.  I just looked wan and tired. So I began coloring my hair in varying shades of blonde.  Right now, it is dishwater blonde but it's been as light as what I call "stripper blonde" and even tried a reddish blonde.

In the past ten-ish years, I've said that I'd rather my hair just turn straight to white.  It doesn't feel like that big of a request from my DNA but apparently it is.  When I was really young, there was a woman in the grocery store whom we frequently saw.  She had long, to her waist, white hair and I loved it.  I distinctly remember my mom Not liking it and I didn't understand why.  Still don't, actually.

So, to my delight, I noticed the other day a few strands of white hair in my bangs. Not gray, but white! The pretty kind!  Hooray!

Wait, what?  "Hooray"? you ask.  I acknowledge that it is strange.  I'm rarely categorized as normal.

I will be fifty in three years, so it's not like this is happening early in life.  Kevin was going grey in his twenties and it's always suited him.  So I have nothing but positive vibes when it comes to grey hair.

Kind of like wrinkles, I see them as a sign of accomplishment.  Yea, You!  You've made it long enough to have wrinkles and grey hair!  Go, you!

On television now, it is not uncommon for women to be shown with snowy white hair.  I'm always wistfully jealous when I see them.  And now the youngin's are dyeing their hair silver and purple, completely erasing any generational coloring.

It's a strange accomplishment but I'm pleased.  And weird, I totally accept that.

13 June 2016

Yet Here I Am

Filed in the "Be Careful What You Wish For" file is my job.

This time last year, I was hired for what I thought was my dream job.  It was part-time, it was easy, and most importantly, it was an organization that I had wanted to work for forever.

For awhile, it continued to be my dream job. Then there was a major change, I took on more hours and many more responsibilities.  The work was beyond my skill-set and the learning curve was more of a hill. I persevered though.

I mean, really, there isn't such thing as the perfect job.  There are always going to be personality conflicts, tasks that you don't enjoy, or just the fact that working is rarely high on anyone's list of A Few of My Favorite Things.

Actually, let's pause a second.  I have to say that I adore my coworkers.  ADORE.  They are a great group and I feel lucky and blessed every single day.  Of course, it's not all perfection because: humans.  But as a group, I couldn't ask for anything more.

So, Surely, what is your problem? you ask.

I work for someone who clearly is in the early stages of dementia.  Whatever the cause or level, she is unable to sustain a thought for longer than a few hours.  Items are constantly lost, appointments forgotten, and just general befuddledness is the soup of the day.

Now, if you've been a dear reader for very long, you're aware that I'm painfully aware of dementia.  Kevin's mom has had it for a few years.  I think that's why I incorrectly and perhaps arrogantly thought that this would resolve itself eventually.

But here's the fun thing about dementia.  They don't know they have it and they will argue to the death about it.  On the same level, they DO know something is wrong but they can't pinpoint what exactly it might be.  But as much as you know you're eyes are blue, they deny that they are failing and believe that just as strongly that they're fine as you do about your eye color.

Now, a person might be thinking "Well, just go to work, do your job, and get out because there are so many other positive factors."  Until I tell you that we, unfortunately, share an office.  There is no head down, do your job, and get out option on this menu.  And, working with someone who is forgetful is a specific kind of crazy-making. A person begins to doubt themselves; as in second-guessing.  "I sent that right?"  "I said that, right?"  "I did that, right?  Twice, even."

I have managed a few work-arounds.  I start earlier, which I don't hate but it's not my favorite.  I wear headphones but that isn't always a reasonable solution.  I share frustrations with a coworker so they don't escalate into something worse. I try to have important conversations with another person involved in addition to Suzy Forgetful.  I email everything that I possibly can.

But the days are still challenging.

I subscribe to the belief that everyone has a boss.  Everyone. It's usually my go-to card when I bump into issues with things like poor customer service.  In this case, there is a board and I have spoken to the board.  They promise they are working on it and a change is to come.  But, it is progressing so slowly that I am losing faith.  How long does one wait for something like this to resolve? I told myself that I wouldn't do this again, yet here I am.

Another big piece of the puzzle is this:  I just left a job two years ago because someone had gone crazy pants.  Telling a donor she might have cancer from pretend mold in her office, running the organization into financial ruin while ordering room service, pretending to not know how to celebrate holidays, crazy pants.

I'm feeling culpable at this point. Is it me?  Do I take jobs where only people with issues work?  Do I create these issues?  Is it my job in life to fix these kinds of situations?  I would like to politely and emphatically decline all of these options.

There really isn't a point to this post.  I'm not unlike every other working person in the world, I'm not special.  But I am frustrated, and disappointed, and really trying to get creative in my coping skills. And once again being reminded that there is no such thing as a perfect anything.  Especially and specifically a job.

01 June 2016

Three Swears

Hello Poppets!  I will discuss the absence in a later post, no worries.  All is well, just a lot of stuff in the way of sitting down to write.

So, the Little's birthday was this weekend.  As every year, we got together to throw a party in their honor.  Every year I just love them so much more.  They are TEN now and we are starting to see glimpses of who they are to become.  One is going to be an engineer, one can't decide, and one says she thinks maybe she wants to do a million things and doesn't understand why she has to choose just one. Which, upon further thought, she's right.  Why do we have to be just one thing?

But back up a tiny bit, on the morning of the party I woke up from a dream that is still making me laugh.

The dream wasn't about the Littles, it was about their older brother.  He is going to be our lawyer in the family.  He is never wrong, he is Mr. Last Word, he is really clever.

In the dream, we were having a family dinner, like we do, and Eric (not his real name) sat down at the dinner table and dropped the Eff Bomb in frustration.  The family was all "Oh, hey, wait, what?!?"  Eric said "No, it's okay that I said that." (which is SO in the realm of possibilities in real life)

His mom came over and asked him "Eric, did you say three swears before you said Eff?"

Eric then explains that he did, with animated hand gestures and complaints about his many siblings who were making him frustrated.  "I said three swears and then I said that.  It's the rule!!"

His mom then wisely nods and tells the adults "No, it's cool.  That's the rule, he gets three swears and then the Eff Bomb is okay."

Then I woke up, laughing.  Because it's totally viable for this particular child to have that rule and to follow it appropriately.  His mom isn't quite that chill but it's also not completely out of the realm of possibility.

Of course, I shared the dream with the family members at the party.  I suspect that it is going to become a running joke any time someone curses.  In this family, we are going to need a tally system of some sort.

And really, it's not a bad policy.

30 May 2016

03 May 2016

Current Obsessions

When I last left you, we were talking about living with elderly parents.  I'm here to tell you that it's just more of the same.

They made their trip home just fine then two weeks later, the m-i-l made a trip to the ER with complications from her COPD.  Then a week later, the f-i-l made a trip to the ER with bronchitis, which is most likely related to the mother's illness.

Oh, and when they went to the ER for the f-i-l, they didn't phone their kids.  NICE.


So, happy topics because I Can't Even with them right now.

I am OBSESSED with Hamilton, the Musical.

I know the interwebs has been talking about it a lot.  I am usually deterred when everyone is all "This is the best thing EVER" because I've found that it usually not the best thing ever.  (see: Fifty Shades of Grey and Twilight)

But holy mother of sweet baby jesus.  They are not exaggerating.  It is AH-Mazing.

And I've only just listened to the soundtrack.  I have little hopes of ever seeing the play but I'm hoping that maybe a movie adaptation could happen.  I will never leave the house again if that were to happen.

I was so enthralled that I sat outside and just listened to it. Just sat there.  If you know me, you know that it a miracle in and of itself.  I was so distracted that the neighbors walked by and I didn't hear them.  They threw a stick nearby and I didn't notice.  It was a good thing they weren't serial killers.

If you have Amazon Prime, you can download it for free.  Go Do It Now.  Or I'm sure iTunes has it but it's free on Amazon Prime.

I've found that Instagram is also another of my favorite things.  (Kellwynn93, if you're bored)

I like that it makes me purposefully think of taking a photo. Sometimes it even compels me to go somewhere to take photos, like the local tulip festival or something as simple as just taking a different route home.  I've found this very relaxing and fulfilling, especially because I've turned into a bit of a hermit in my most recent years.

Taking photos has always been a hobby for me.  Usually they linger on my phone or computer.  I have great intentions for them but not the motivation.  This makes me do something with them.

Finally, in relation to the instagram, I have been using the FreePrints app on my phone.  Monthly I can get actual photos from all the ones languishing on my phone.  This has been fantastic now that I have so many photos of Sweet Baby.

So, that's what is happening here.  Hamilton on constant play, avoiding the family, and taking photos.

22 April 2016

10 April 2016

Raising Parents

So, the parents decided it would be a good idea to drive to California.  (we live 30 minutes from Canada, for reference)

But wait, you're saying, "Doesn't he have a broken ankle?"  Yep.  "Isn't she frail and in poor health?"  Yep.  "Hasn't everyone refused to ride with him driving?"  Yep.

My mother-in-law's blood pressure was spiking and dropping before they left but the doctor still gave her the okay to travel.  I think anxiety had some to do with it. I am surprised that she even agreed to go on a trip like this, as her anxiety usually keeps her pretty close to home.

Now they're due home tomorrow and I dare to say, we're a little disappointed.  It never occurred to us until they left what pressure it is to have "custody" of the parents.

Kevin visits them every evening after work, because he's a good son.  The visits are rarely comfortable; they live in a tiny house with no seating and competition over the volume of the television is a regular thing.  I don't usually go over there in the evenings because it's just too overwhelming for me.

This week though, he has been able to come home and actually relax.  He can come in and sit down until dinner, or he can go outside to work in the shop, or do all of that.  Starting tomorrow again, he won't have that choice.

I've joked about being in the Witness Protection Program before because our every move is monitored.  This is the part that I didn't realize weighed on me so heavily.  I enjoy going back and forth with not a thought about someone watching, or needing something,

"We're going to miss this when it's gone" I keep reminding myself.  But then it's invariably followed with "Are we, though?"  I mean, it's not all bad.  Most of the time it's nice.  But if you've ever seen Everyone Loves Raymond, you know what I am talking about.  That show is seriously my life, you don't even know.

The other thing that came to light during their vacation was the state of their house.  They've reached the age of needing help.  However, they are deeply committed to a whole lot of NOPE when this subject comes up in conversation.

But they've had ants from the debris left behind while snacking in the mother's chair. The shower was a science experiment.  The fact that rodents and bugs didn't hold a rave in the kitchen while they were gone is a modern day miracle.

Again, we can rationalize that they are in their late seventies so Of Course things are starting to slip.  This would be fine if the mother wasn't in such frail health and really shouldn't be living like this AND if they were willing to accept help.

At first, we were all riled up.  "This can't BE, it just can't!" we exclaimed.  But now over a week has passed and I've remembered something.  When my dad was dying, there were similar battles.  They, also, wouldn't accept help and it was beyond irritating and worrisome.  But we had to come to the conclusion that, like unruly teenagers, they are going to do what they want to do.

As always, the worries are that something bad was going to happen.  In the case of my parents, bad things did happen.  Falls and preventable illnesses, to name a few and that's only the things that we know about.  Now again, in this instance, we just have to stand by and wait until something bad happens, because it's inevitable, and  then they will have to concede.  If they're not in a home, because that's a real thing.

I'm just over it.  I can't worry about it.  I can, however, mention that I am not going to clean again.  I'll gladly hire someone to do it the next time.  We can't live in that frustration anymore.  It's not healthy for anyone and it builds resentment.  I don't know how others do it.  Y'all are to be commended, for sure.

So, if they're going to leave rugs down "Because they're pretty" for them to trip and fall over then they can explain it to the doctors and paramedics. I'm going to leave the Smarties candy on the dining table instead of next to her side of the bed, in protest. If she wants to die because she's choked on a stupid candy while in bed, then that is going to be her choice (and an awkward obituary to write).  The dogs medicine has been moved out of the spice rack though. 

Yea! Elderly Parents!  Super fun!

20 March 2016

Four Days, the Shocking Finale

Now we're on day 3.5 of having no power.  I've lost my mind on the customer service rep, the in-laws are in a hotel, and the brother is on a flight to Chicago for work because of course he is. 

We borrowed the heater from the parents house so we had some heat.  Our house is little but it has vaulted ceilings so while it kind of took the chill off the house, it was by far not cozy.  We considered sleeping in the front room but relocated to our bedroom with the heater instead. 

But neither of us could sleep.  The power was due to be on any minute now, for real.  We knew that  when it came on, we had to make sure that everything was okay not only in our house but in the parents house as well. 

I've been listening to the Canadian radio station for 3.5 days and I'm starting to tire of it.  Commercials are the bane of my existence and like all radio stations, there are a finite amount of songs being played.  But the no power thing makes listening to Sirius, Pandora, or Amazon not feasible.  But I'm so tired and overwhelmed that I can't conceive of just trying to find another radio channel. 

I have finally finished the book I've been trying to read for months, only to discover there is a sequel.  A sequel I don't have in my possession.  Begrudgingly, I started another book but all I could do was be bitter that I couldn't just go into town and get the other one. 

So, I'm restless.  I'm tired of living in the stone ages, I'm tired of being cold, I'm tired of country radio, and I can't work on anything that I wanted to do.  Fun fact: I do my chores and shopping on Fridays, if I can pull it off, or first thing Saturday so I can have the weekend to do whatever. Now it's Saturday at midnight and  I had  that lingering over me; laundry, grubby house and general malaise.

Now I'm just sitting around watching laundry pile up more, knowing the house is going to need sanitizing and not just cleaned, and now the freezer/fridge needs gutted and cleaned.  I'm not one to have a big to-do list, it triggers the ADD/OCD alphabet soup that is my brain.  Oh, and we had to go to the grocery store to replace everything I was tossing if the power ever did return and the dump to rid us of the yuck that was our refrigerator.

All I could think was the sequence of events we had to do once the power returned.  It's not like "Oh, the lights are on, all is right with the world."  It was "Once the lights come on, there are hours of work to do."  Kevin was having the same thoughts so we sat there, unhealthily obsessing over our situation.

Finally, we went to sleep. The puppy slept with us one more night and I will admit that the heater (which is a faux fireplace) is quite lovely in our room. In any other circumstance, it would have been quite cozy.

3:45 am the power clicked on and it felt and sounded like the house roared to life.  We woke up almost immediately and instead of joy, we were all "Ugh, where do we even start" and "It's FOUR O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING."  Kevin turned our water on and flushed our toilets to prime everything again then headed next door to make sure that every light in the house plus the water wasn't on there, and to finally turn the generator off.

Oh, the generator.  I forgot.  It needed a fuel/oil mixture in order to restart the other day. (remember when it broke down?)  Reportedly the brother looked at it but "It just wouldn't run."  Kevin mentioned it to me at the time "Well, I'm sure you heard him working on it."  and I did, indeed, not hear it nor see the lights that were still plugged into it flicker to life.  The brother has a way of looking at things while being defeated and helpless so I was suspect that he even tried.  The fact that it took Kevin fifteen minutes to fix it after he returned from  the memorial service proved me right.

And, there are few more wearying sounds than a generator.  It's one of the things I do not enjoy at the racetrack, the droning noise of the generators.  In fact, the track has a curfew for generators, that's how loud they can be.  So the roar of the house being rekindled was welcome over the droning, grating sound of the generator.

at 4:00 am, I can't reasonably start cleaning the refrigerator, if there is such a state of mind, and the hot water tank needs an hour to start up and reheat so I am at a standstill.  Once Kevin came back from next door, I turned on the television and we both slept the sleep of the dead for a few hours.

8:00 am finds us happily showered in a warm house and on our way to get coffee.   I needed a bucket of mocha and chocolate mini doughnuts just to consider looking at the refrigerator.  But we had to take all that food to the dump so it had to be done first. Once we got home, really all I wanted to do was lay on the couch and watch television.  Instead I turned my Amazon music to my Loud Playlist and got to business.

All in all, it wasn't that bad. I had two garbage bins and I methodically went shelf by shelf tossing things out.  Then I scrubbed everything down and even had two boxes of baking soda to put inside to absorb  the odors.  The only rough part was the floor of  the freezer.  It was a science experiment.  I turned up James Brown really loud, breathed through my mouth, and got it done.  Cross that off my Life List.

Oh, and the guilt I had about not recycling containers was immense.  But it just wasn't feasible and the Gross Factor would have been so much more. Kevin and I loaded up the truck with not only our stuff but the parents and neighbors.  A big Dodge truck hauling a full load food poisoning, at least we looked good.

I can complain only a little bit about this part.  Because Kevin had the task of babysitting his parents while they cleaned out their refrigerator.  As it was, they tried to keep yogurt, an opened package of bacon and sausage links, and mayonnaise.  Yep, mayonnaise. I feared for their lives, not from food poisoning but at the hands of Kevin.  Kevin said he just dead-eyed them and dropped it all into the garbage can then walked out.

Oh, and the sister-in-law felt like this was the perfect time  to go out of town to visit a friend.  Not only leaving their dog at the parents (don't get me started, that's a whole other topic)  but leaving Kevin to go pick them up at the hotel and get them resettled into the house.  AND, AND, AND, we had to call our niece to come take her grandma shopping, which is usually the s-i-l's responsibility.  It was kind of a d*ck move that I'm still not quite over yet.

Then we trek into town.  First was the glamorous task of the dump and  then buying a heater because OF COURSE there is another big storm on the way.  Then we braved the grocery store. Every person from the valley was shopping that day. It was so overwhelming that I couldn't wrap my mind around everything that we needed.  I just shopped like usual then tossed random condiments into the cart.  I figured the grocery store is open every day so I could come back later.

While shopping, I remembered years and years ago when one of my oldest friends had his house flooded by a 100-year flood.  He told us about how surreal and strange it was to go from a house with two feet of water in it and utter disaster to town where everyone is just living their lives like nothing else was wrong in the world.  We were definitely feeling that over these four days.

 Once home again, I scrubbed our bathrooms to a shiny clean and started the first of almost ten loads of laundry.  (I hadn't done laundry since Tuesday, so nearly a full week of it...ugh) and tried to remember what it was like to live in civilization.  Oh, and the previous weekend we had guys in to fix our new flooring in our bathroom so this is weekend #2 of our house being torn up. 

Finally, about 2:30 I was finished and Kevin said he was coming in early.  We both wanted to just sit and mindlessly stare at the television and enjoy our electricity.  We cozied up in the living room and just started to relax when the wind kicked up again.

Our lights flickered a few times and I thought we were both going to cry.  We discussed it and made an immediate decision: if it goes out again, EVERYONE was going to a hotel.  But it stayed on and we relaxed again.

Until one big gust hit the house and we heard a crash.  Kevin jumped up and went outside but didn't see any downed trees or anything like that.  Until he spotted a big hunk of wood in our rock garden.  The wind had torn off  three sections of roofing from the house.  Our house is only ten years old so that tells you the size of gust it must have been.

I actually heard him yell at God "Are you EFFING kidding me!?!?!"  He came back into the house, changed into work clothes, and got up on the roof to fix it before the rains started.  This made me pretty nervous because the wind was whipping all around him.  But there was no other choice.

About an hour later, he was back in his chair trying to forget that all this had ever happened.  I got up to make dinner and decided that I would just make breakfast so we could just stay cozy in the living room.  Right up until I realize that I didn't buy syrup.  Because OF COURSE.  I ended up making a breakfast sandwich for Kevin and I had oatmeal.

Now today, we're a week away from that adventure and we're still a little shell shocked.  While shopping yesterday, I still had items that needed replacing.  The house is clean and laundry is finished and the house feels kind of like when it was when we first moved in.  There is a novelty to it.

The shiny side is that we have a more concrete plan should this ever happen again so that's comforting.  It gave us a story to tell so that's interesting.  Otherwise, we're just trying to forget it ever happened. 

Oh, and on Tuesday I received an email from the power company, requesting a customer service survey about "our recent contact with the company."  I'm ignoring it right now and will continue to do so until I can list more things than curse words and angry emojis.

19 March 2016

Four Days, Part Two

Okay, where did I pause?  Saturday morning. Day 2.5 with no power.

Actually, I need to back up a tiny bit.  10:30 on Friday night, the generator died.  Kevin tried and tried but couldn't get it to restart.  He literally sent his parents to bed and then we did the same.  We are now completely in the dark, no one has heat, and remember we have a well and septic system so no water nor potty. 45 degrees outside, windy and raining.  Super fun.

Oh, and Dear Swistle, I reluctantly admit that your concerns about the Big Earthquake may have merit.  If we're looking at this experience like a drill, we are HOOPED.  But, in our defense, we were caught completely off guard.  We have never gone more than 24 hours without power.  Now we know what NOT to do.

So, Saturday morning.  It was Kevin's turn to work a Saturday and he didn't feel comfortable telling his guys  that he needed to trade with such short notice so off he went.  Lucy and I stayed in bed and slept.  Because there was really nothing else to do at this point, other than call the power company.  They were not appreciating my every four hour dedication and I wasn't certain if I was helping or hurting our cause. But the fix was simple: turn on our power and I will stop calling. 

I have already had tense, curt, and probably sarcastic conversations with every customer service rep at Puget Sound Energy at this point.  I had been told that they had "determined the problem", they "were on site" and that they would be there at any given time increment.  I was also given a lesson on how circuitry worked (so wrong) and that I "just don't understand what was going on."   I was told that there were the aforementioned "only five metres on the road" multiple times until they must have highlighted the notes in neon to Not say that.  I bet if I phoned right now, they would be able to identify my voice and  that there were "six houses, eleven people - three of which are elderly and two who are under five."

Oh, and here is the most frustrating part: all that needed  to happen was a breaker/fuse to be replaced.  There was no damage to the line, pole, transformer, anything.  The breaker popped.Easy Peasy.  Now, I understand that the workers need meals and rests.  It's a dangerous and often miserable job.  But when we knew it was such an easy fix, it was difficult to be understanding.


My mother-in-law phones about nine o'clock and asks for information about a tiny motel that is down the road.  It is located across the street from a tavern in a one-stoplight "town", if that gives you any indication of the "quality" of this motel.  I had already told Kevin that I was down with having a hotel but just not that one.

The night before we had talked about putting the parents, or everybody, in a hotel but the power company kept saying that the power would be on soon so we kept putting it off.  My sibling-in-laws had heat so the plan was for the parent to relocate there.  But for some reason, the parents were resistant.  I'm unsure why and I just didn't have the brain space to consider what was happening.  Oh, and this is after the m-i-l getting teary and upset that they had heat and we did not.  The logic defies.

I gave her the number to the hotel after calling and getting no answer.  Then I called my sister-in-law and let her know what was happening.  She was also Up To HERE with the parents, which also is an indication of how sideways things have gone.  She never loses her cool and she had nothing.

About an hour later, I hear my brother-in-law in the driveway.  He is picking up the parents and taking them to the motel.  I freely admit to having a little glee that finally He has some responsibility in caring for his parents.  (sidebar: things always seem to happen when he's not around.  Or he manufactures a reason to not be around. Or, he just doesn't participate because he knows his brother will take care of it.  Oh yes, now that you mention it, it Does make me stabby.)

About 11:00 am I took Lucy to the coffee stand to get treats and me a coffee and something to eat.  This also allowed me to warm up in the truck and charge my phone.  I momentarily considered moving into the truck until our power returned, seriously.  But the power was due to be back on somewhere between Any Minute Now and Never so I kept holding out hope.

We had a memorial party that afternoon that could not be missed.  This was a small reason that the parents wanted to get a motel, even though only one of them were attending.  Oh, right, I forgot to revisit the father-in-law's condition.  The break/fracture/crack.  He went from "Oh, I'm FINE. I can walk on it" to NEVER WALKING AGAIN.  No, seriously, Kevin's mom said about a week ago "We just don't know when he will walk again."  Umm, let me think...doing math...remembering 2012...in SIX EFFING WEEKS.  It's as if they've forgotten that both me and my s-i-l had broken our ankles in the last three years.  What.Ever.

The memorial is near my parents house so my plan was just to pack up and go down there to get showered and revert to human form.  It occurs to me that I should call my mom to make sure she had power and that she would be home.  There is no five minute conversation with my mother so fifteen - twenty minutes later, I am packing up to go.

I was supposed to print out some photos and a speech from the cousins who live in the South for the memorial.  But, as I might have mentioned, I had no power.  I had to box up my laptop, my internet, and my printer to take to my parents so I could print everything out.  Yeah.

Now, Kevin hasn't showered since Wednesday evening so he is miserable.  He didn't have time to stop by the parents to shower before going to the memorial so he had (warning: I'm going to use a phrase that make me squint and he uses it on purpose)  a Whore's Bath in the truck shop.  He was not a happy camper.  I kept telling him that we will get a hotel after the memorial service.

The memorial service was more of a party for a cousin who passed due to damage inflicted by heavy drug use.   It was difficult to get in the mood for this event when we felt like we were living Armageddon. Her husband is the brother of one of Kevin's oldest friends and her brother is the only surviving member of that branch of the family (other than his kids) so it was inconceivable to not be there.

However, there were babies there.  A whole lot of babies.  Nothing makes  the word a better place than babies.  It was nice to see everyone else, of course, but: Babies.   A set of four-month-old twins, a one-year-old and a two-year-old, all children of our younger cousins.  Younger cousins being in the age range of early 20's to 30's but whatever.  We were definitely appreciating the circle of life in this setting.

My sister-in-law stated that the parents wanted to come back home, even if the power wasn't on.  They had been in the motel for four hours and had paid $100, $25 of which was extra because they had their little dog with them.   When I asked why, she stated "I don't know and I just can't care."   Again,  things have gone horribly wrong if this girl has that attitude. Imagine if the Dalai Lama was all "Eff this Sh*t", this is my s-i-l's level of frustration at this point.

 Our aunt, the mother's younger and only surviving sister, happened along at that point and asked what was going on.  We explained and I said "Maybe they could stay with you for a few days..."  She Walked Away.  I cracked up laughing, because it felt like vindication that they are and have been challenging lately.  Her own sister was all "Nope, I'm out."

Kevin and his brother intervened and told their mother that they were absolutely not returning home until the power was back on and had been on for an hour or two.  As neither of them can drive at this point, they were stranded at a motel.  A place, crappy motel or not, we would have gladly traded with them.

Before we left the party, Kevin called the power company one more time.  The person he spoke to and said that there was someone on site right now and that our power would be on by six o'clock.  It was about 5:00.  Because we had heard it all before, we were skeptical.  Kevin expressed his skepticism and was assured all would be well.  He ended the call with "You will know if it isn't because heaven help you if we drive 45 minutes home to find we have no power."

And, yeah, we got home and no power.  No trucks or people in sight.

I might have called and yelled.  Actually yelled.  And cursed.  For about ten minutes.  The words "Stop talking" may have been used.  and "I'm not done."   I lost my sh*t and I never lose my cool.  Never.  But it was so far gone that I didn't even feel bad. Usually I rationalize that they are just doing their job and  they are probably not having much fun either but I was so over that. 

The poor girl said something like "I can relate" and my head came off my shoulders.  "I don't know that you can. Do you have power, heat, and water where you are right now?  Yes, you do.  Is all the food in your refrigerator and freezer good because ours isn't.  Are your elderly parents home in a warm house? Ours are in a cheap hotel because of this mess. Don't tell me you understand."

Yeah, it was ugly.

A customer service manager phoning me thirty minutes later ugly.  Documenting my entire story and all my words ugly.  Hostage negotiation tone of voice ugly.  I'm sure I've won some sort of Customer Service Worse Caller Ever award this year.

And our power still wasn't on.  Nor would it be for another twelve hours.