Around the Yard, August, 2018

Standard

2018 dogwood flowers 22018 mushroom2018 yellow wildflower2018 green tomatoes

Advertisements

National Night Out

Standard

The night is awake with sounds and sights: frantic tree frogs, a few crickets, a freight train, and heat lightning. Earlier, there were two tremendous crashes of thunder, but the storm passed on, or is hovering on the edges of the horizon, waiting for us to go to bed. The marigolds and forget-me-nots grown from seed put out hesitant face. The atmosphere is heavy and makes some panicky about the coming autumn and others exhausted and ready for cool nights and real sleep instead of dozing and dreaming brief nightmares on humid nights.

We hope for a quiet, hot night, but like our ancestors, we readied the candles. The rain might come again, we might wake to the drip of water into the bowl on the kitchen table, while California burns and Ireland stifles. If we’re lucky, the rain will find other targets, and we will awaken to nothing but the same freight trains, night after night, season after season.

What’s It Like to Live Alone?

Standard

If I ever find out, it won’t be under any good circumstance.

People think a lot of things about me. I’ve put on too much of a normal face, I guess. A person suit that never quite fit.

I’m my mother’s oldest child. I planned to have a regular life. No one has a normal life. There’s no such thing as normal. I planned to have a regular life, to get married at some point, have no more than two children, work, and write. I thought that I would get an office job. Of course, I planned to go to college. My best friend and I had planned on going to the same college. Then her education route changed, and my home situation became chaotic, and I was needed at home.

I was needed to “watch” the baby sisters who despised me because I was too much like a parent.

I was needed to care for my grandfather, who had Alzheimer’s and dementia and was the sickest, most sad person I’ve ever know.

I was needed to “sit with” my grandmother after he died.

I got a job at the library within two weeks after graduating from high school, but they never promoted me to full time, even though they kept me on for 10 years. I was good enough to keep on for a decade, but not good enough to move up to between $18,000 and $19,000 per year.

I was diagnosed with uterine fibroids at 25. I had surgery to remove the fibroids and save my uterus. The fibroids came back, after I aged off my mother’s insurance.

I was needed to help raise the nephew whose birth I witnessed but who no longer speaks to me.

I went to college for a year and a half straight out of high school, an off-campus student working at night. I lost my financial aid. I took a second part-time job. The company went bankrupt. My grandmother paid for my community college tuition. She and my mother knew that I was interested in the law as a profession. I graduated with honors. That helped me get the job at the attorney’s office and leave the library. I was finally working full time . . . with no benefits. I had asthma. I had fibroids. All I managed to do was buy a nice used sedan and start paying rent at home.

One sister had moved out of town. The “baby” was still living at home and hard on drugs.

I got married. That failed, hard.

I moved in with a friend because the “baby” was still living at home and hard on drugs. My friend was hard on alcohol. I moved home.

Home is my grandparents’ house that my mom inherited after they died. The house is at least 112 years old. That’s according to the date printed on the oval iron plate from the water department. That’s when the house got running water.

What’s it like to live alone?

I’ve lived in a bedroom and, since the “baby” moved out, in half of the den. My aunt, who died of complications of Alzheimer’s and dementia, had the cutest little house out in the county. It was sort of like a trailer, but it was a house, built in the early 1970’s. It had a front, kitchen, and deck door. Three bedrooms, one small, two large. A little kitchen with a pass-through into a big dining area that looked out onto the deck and fenced back yard. A den big enough for a piano, fireplace, and furniture.

I always wanted that house. My mom has told me about the trailer where she lived alone until she had the misfortune to meet my father, but I of course never saw it. I saw my aunt’s house, with the carport, sunny flowerbed, compact, neat, paneled, beige apartment carpet, wicker furniture. The writing desk. I got the writing desk. After taking care of her for nine months until she got into the nursing home where she had worked as an RN, my mom and I had to clean out her house for the buyer. I took the desk. I took the desk because it reminded me of the independence I never had.

What’s it like to live alone?

What’s it like to decorate a house that’s neutral like an apartment, not to have to decorate on top of someone else’s crappy wallpaper? What’s it like to rearrange all your furniture and give some away because you’ve bought a new couch and coffee table? What’s it like to stay up all night on Friday and sleep until late Saturday afternoon with no one but the cats to care? What’s it like to not schedule your life around another person’s?

I’ll never know. What’s it like to leave the book you’re reading right-side up on the coffee table instead of turning it upside-down in case Someone Disapproving comes over? What’s it like to have a little toy train track going round the lamp on your dining table and plastic spiders by your stovetop just because?

What’s it like not to have a hundred pictures of deceased relatives and “God Made Mothers” plaques?

What’s it like to be writing this right now and be alone?

 

What’s It Like to Live Alone?

Standard

If I ever find out, it won’t be under any good circumstance.

People think a lot of things about me. I’ve put on too much of a normal face, I guess. A person suit that never quite fit.

I’m my mother’s oldest child. I planned to have a regular life. No one has a normal life. There’s no such thing as normal. I planned to have a regular life, to get married at some point, have no more than two children, work, and write. I thought that I would get an office job. Of course, I planned to go to college. My best friend and I had planned on going to the same college. Then her education route changed, and my home situation became chaotic, and I was needed at home.

I was needed to “watch” the baby sisters who despised me because I was too much like a parent.

I was needed to care for my grandfather, who had Alzheimer’s and dementia and was the sickest, most sad person I’ve ever know.

I was needed to “sit with” my grandmother after he died.

I got a job at the library within two weeks after graduating from high school, but they never promoted me to full time, even though they kept me on for 10 years. I was good enough to keep on for a decade, but not good enough to move up to between $18,000 and $19,000 per year.

I was diagnosed with uterine fibroids at 25. I had surgery to remove the fibroids and save my uterus. The fibroids came back, after I aged off my mother’s insurance.

I was needed to help raise the nephew whose birth I witnessed but who no longer speaks to me.

I went to college for a year and a half straight out of high school, an off-campus student working at night. I lost my financial aid. I took a second part-time job. The company went bankrupt. My grandmother paid for my community college tuition. She and my mother knew that I was interested in the law as a profession. I graduated with honors. That helped me get the job at the attorney’s office and leave the library. I was finally working full time . . . with no benefits. I had asthma. I had fibroids. All I managed to do was buy a nice used sedan and start paying rent at home.

One sister had moved out of town. The “baby” was still living at home and hard on drugs.

I got married. That failed, hard.

I moved in with a friend because the “baby” was still living at home and hard on drugs. My friend was hard on alcohol. I moved home.

Home is my grandparents’ house that my mom inherited after they died. The house is at least 112 years old. That’s according to the date printed on the oval iron plate from the water department. That’s when the house got running water.

What’s it like to live alone?

I’ve lived in a bedroom and, since the “baby” moved out, in half of the den. My aunt, who died of complications of Alzheimer’s and dementia, had the cutest little house out in the county. It was sort of like a trailer, but it was a house, built in the early 1970’s. It had a front, kitchen, and deck door. Three bedrooms, one small, two large. A little kitchen with a pass-through into a big dining area that looked out onto the deck and fenced back yard. A den big enough for a piano, fireplace, and furniture.

I always wanted that house. My mom has told me about the trailer where she lived alone until she had the misfortune to meet my father, but I of course never saw it. I saw my aunt’s house, with the carport, sunny flowerbed, compact, neat, paneled, beige apartment carpet, wicker furniture. The writing desk. I got the writing desk. After taking care of her for nine months until she got into the nursing home where she had worked as an RN, my mom and I had to clean out her house for the buyer. I took the desk. I took the desk because it reminded me of the independence I never had.

What’s it like to live alone?

What’s it like to decorate a house that’s neutral like an apartment, not to have to decorate on top of someone else’s crappy wallpaper? What’s it like to rearrange all your furniture and give some away because you’ve bought a new couch and coffee table? What’s it like to stay up all night on Friday and sleep until late Saturday afternoon with no one but the cats to care? What’s it like to not schedule your life around another person’s?

I’ll never know. What’s it like to leave the book you’re reading right-side up on the coffee table instead of turning it upside-down in case Someone Disapproving comes over? What’s it like to have a little toy train track going round the lamp on your dining table and plastic spiders by your stovetop just because?

What’s it like not to have a hundred pictures of deceased relatives and “God Made Mothers” plaques?

What’s it like to be writing this right now and be alone?

 

Be More Like Rachel

Standard

No, not more, just be like Rachel. #BeRachel. #BeTheBest

An Open Letter to the U.S. Media:

Dear People Who Bring Us the News Every Day:

What the fresh hell is wrong with you?

Why are you running video of the person (I use the term loosely) in the White House who holds rallies with (allegedly) paid actors and screams spittle a-flyin’, pointing into the camera, about those “awful, horrific” people in the back of the room? Ya know, the press? You guys?

See, those of us who watch CNN and MSNBC do not watch to see Spittle Drumpf nor his crisis actors tricked out in their best thrift store gear. We actually, most of us, do not want to see his image, let alone video of his rabid speeches, lately directed at you. That’s why I said #BeLikeRachel.

Rachel Maddow said that she tries to avoid using video of trump on her show. That’s a very good practice that you all should adopt. After all, he, like Sarah Sanders, never says anything of substance on video. (Also you’re a coward if you’re in the WH press pool and didn’t walk out with Jim Acosta, leaving Sarah Sanders facing an empty room, with the blank papers on her podium drifting in your wake.)

Speaking of Sarah, during her exchange with Jim Acosta, she made it clear that her refusal to say, “The press is not the enemy of the people” was 100% based on remarks made to and about HER. Why do you run to be clucked at like kindergartners by the silly bitch every day?

So anyhoo, back to Rachel. Rachel Maddow is a JOURNALIST. She may be a young woman, but she understands journalism, and the rest of you don’t. She has the ability to paint a scene with WORDS. We don’t need to see trump talksterbating. She spares us that while giving us the essence of what he said.

We’re not snowflakes. We aren’t afraid of seeing Herr Drumpf and his “crowds” of crisis actors. We’re tired of it. We want a summary and then real news.

By the way, would you let a kindergarten teacher talk down to your child every day like Sarah Sanders does to you? You would not. Why? Because it’s an abuse of her position.

Why do you allow her to continue to abuse her position because she’s thin-skinned? Do you think you’ll lose ratings? I often change or at least mute your channels when you show video of trump.

Stop allowing Sanders to leave her heel-marks on your foreheads.

Do better. Be better. Be the best, like Rachel Maddow and Jim Acosta.

 

How to Behave When Someone Is Running a GoFundMe

Standard

I am running a GoFundMe. I’m going to put it right here at the beginning of this blog so that you can assess it for yourself. Please read the entire story, then this blog. Just glancing at the title and description won’t give you the info you need to decide if my reasons are, in your opinion, good or bad.

https://www.gofundme.com/household-repairs-amp-utility-bills

I expected some negative comments to this one. I ran one in 2015, when my mom got her figures wrong and realized that she was going to miss a mortgage payment. I ran a GoFundMe to raise $1000, the amount of two mortgage payments, and I was successful, and I never planned to do another one. It’s humiliating, although it shouldn’t be humiliating for a middle-aged woman with health problems and an elderly mother to ask for help. I am an out-of-work bankruptcy paralegal in a small town. I prepared hundreds of bankruptcies in the three years I worked for an attorney, before I made the mistake of marrying and moving to New York. My husband had a daughter from a previous marriage and a really great, secure job. While I was in New York, my younger sisters, both suffering from substance-abuse problems, abused my mother financially and physically.

Lot of people wouldn’t say that because of the “shame.” That’s why my mom ended up in such a horrific situation. She’s 70. Her generation Didn’t Talk About It, whatever It was. Many of them blamed themselves. She still does. She shouldn’t. She got taken in by a couple of master manipulators. Before they started working her over, she owned her parents’ house free and clear. She had a decent used car. She wrecked her body working as patrol officer (at 5’2″, she took a couple of blows that required surgery, but she managed never to shoot anyone.) She became a dispatcher, working 12-hour rotating shifts. That was when my sisters really went amuck. My grandparents were too old to deal with teenagers again. I was working and going to college. My sisters did what too many cops’ kids do: they got out of control, and they knew my mom would be too ashamed to admit her kids were nasty, abusive, and thieving. Again, the shame. I don’t believe that victims should be ashamed. My mom was sixty by the time she got a position in the records office. My sisters were in their late 20s/early 30s. My grandfather had severe Alzheimer’s and dementia.

I beat myself up for this every day: I met a man online (on a Yahoo message board for Buddhists) and we ended up getting married. I wanted a normal life. I didn’t realize that me leaving would open the box.

hellraiser box

My mom didn’t want to “bother me” with her problems because she knew I was having problems with my ex. She should have bothered me. One sister wrecked two cars. The other convinced my mom to mortgage *her entire house* to buy a $15,000 used car. When my mom said, “Robin always told me to never get a mortgage,” my sister replied, “Robin isn’t here and she doesn’t need to know.”

If only my mom had made that call.

If anyone’s thinking, “Wow, I could NEVER talk about my family that way!” well, just you wait until you come home and find your mom retired, broke, and forced by your youngest sister and her drug-dealing boyfriends to live in her bedroom while they have the run of the house and my grandfather’s garage. Three months after I moved back in, I got a temp job that was supposed to go permanent, and my sister did everything possible to keep me up all night so I wouldn’t be able to function at work, including assaulting me one morning at 5 am. Cops didn’t help. My mom was still too ashamed to admit what had happened. We were also dealing with a very poorly run department in a different town than where she’d worked.

So, I threw my sister out after she threw my mom up against a door one night while she was high. See the tiny elderly woman in the photos? Imagine a 200 pound 30-something woman throwing her against a solid wood door.

I threw her out and, when my temp job ended, I started trying to repair the damage. The mortgage, the predatory auto lenders, the fact that my mom only had Medicare Part A . . . I’ll tell you what, the stress and my depression and OCD and losing a job I had been promised would go full time in a few months put me right in the bed for over a year. I had a good old-fashioned nervous breakdown. I eventually had to get up to help my mom take care of her older sister, who had severe Alzheimer’s and dementia. After we got her into the nursing home where she had worked as a nurse, I continued freelancing, which I had been doing since 2011, and I got another temp job.

People say, “Well, you must not be THAT poor if you have an iPod Touch and a laptop!” Yeah, those are luxury items . . . bought four years ago when I was working. I saved the money. The laptop runs Windows 7 and the iPod has a 10 minute charge. I have to carry the charger everywhere. The cable started to split, so I wrapped it in electrical tape.

In 2016 and the first half of 2017, I was making the equivalent of a part-time salary freelancing. I saved money. I also bought a few (four) pricey dolls that weren’t actually pricey because they were secondhand and sold nude. I bought very inexpensive handmade clothes for them. I love them. I’m not sorry. If I sold them and all their clothes, I wouldn’t make a thousand dollars.

I bought a lot of books last year, most used. I would not have bought quite a few things that I did if my mom had (shame again) told me she was in financial trouble again, this time with loan sharks AKA predatory auto lenders. I had to involve the N.C. Attorney General to get one of them back in line. They thought they were dealing with/able to abuse an elderly woman, like my sisters thought. They weren’t counting on me.

But I can only do so much. I’m tapped out. My savings is gone. Plumbing bills, car registration, vehicle tax, yard mowing by neighbors, prescriptions, the hotplate I bought when our ancient gas stove with the pilot light finally gave out. My ex-husband didn’t allow me to work during our marriage, so I have a big gap in my employment history. He also threatened my life in a roundabout way when discussing alimony. I’m 45. I’m not exactly the person for whom most employers are searching. It’s a shame. I’ve worked in a BBQ joint, library, law office, and museum. I don’t need a bunch of training in new computer programs. I’m a quick study. I can figure it out as I go.

No one will give me a chance anymore.

My sisters devastated my mother financially and emotionally. No other family members will help me care for her. Caring for her is a full-time job. I’ve never had an afternoon off. I have insomnia. That’s why I’m awake right now.

I can’t solve the problems that my sisters created. They’re just too massive. All the money that should have gone into maintaining a 112 year old house went into methadone clinics and Suboxone for my sister and paying the car insurance increase after the other one got a DUI and stopped paying her share of the insurance. $5000 will only fix the most pressing problems and buy a stove.

So that’s why, when the guy on Twitter yesterday said, “The apple didn’t fall far from the tree in this case. (Something something) multi-generational losers,” I ripped him a new asshole. Because that’s not the case. It was shame. Too ashamed to admit, “Robin, I need help.” I would have been on the train from New York the next day.

I didn’t get that chance. I haven’t told my mom that I’m trying GoFundMe again because I don’t want to get her hopes up. She thinks I’m saving money from my freelance work. That work has largely dried up. Maybe it will get better after all the teachers go back to work. I’m putting all donations into my savings account. They will only be spent on the household expenses I’ve stated above.

If you don’t like the fact that someone is running a fundraising campaign, if you don’t believe their reasons for running it, move along. There’s no need to kick someone who is already down, and if you choose to do so, I have to figure it’s because you enjoy it.

There you go. I’m tired of trying to maintain a “happy” face online. We need help.

Edited 7-30-18 at 2.44 am EDT for typos, clarity, to correct ages, and add the reason I’m not getting alimony after a six year marriage in which I was completely dependent on my ex. I actually got a job as a paralegal the last year of my marriage, but my ex ordered me to call them and tell them I had decided the commute was too long. It wasn’t. It was only an hour, and I loved to drive. Now I can’t commute because he kept *my* car. My mom and I share a 1998 Kia with no AC. Just because of my asthma, commuting isn’t an option. I’m not lazy, and I do want a job. I just have the cards stacked against me, and I need a little help.

De-Mat Your Cat

Standard

A month ago, I put flea treatments (purchased at the vet’s) on both of my cats. I’ve been buying the same brand for at least a year. I got the correct dose for each cat’s weight. Kumo, the absolute unit, fifteen-pounder Maine Coon, had an adverse reaction. He spent two weeks hiding under a desk, just coming out to eat, drink, and use the litter box. Then he gradually improved and got back to normal, except he hadn’t been completely grooming himself. In other words, his rear was clear, but he had the most awful mats of fur all over his underside, even in his “armpits.” He never had that problem! He just hadn’t been grooming.

Luckily, he and Justin Vanderkatt are used to a grooming brush and flea comb. I started working at the mats with scissors when I found him sleeping on my bed. I worked fast and pulled his skin up to lessen the chance of nicks. He usually tolerated it for 10 minutes. When he gave me an annoyed ROWW, I stopped. Then I came back later with the brush and brushed him all over, concentrating on his stomach to loosen the mats. Three days of that worked. Most of the mats are coming loose on their own.

Now, this is an indoor cat. A matted outdoor cat might need the vet. You don’t have to buy awkward and dangerous tools with razor blades. You don’t have to stress your cat with a vet visit. (Although I do take him to the vet for the sanitary shave.) It just takes patience, a wire grooming brush, and a short, sharp pair of scissors. Don’t bring out the full-sized household scissors or the barber scissors. You want a pair small enough that they don’t scare the cat, sturdy enough to stand up to sawing through thick mats, and preferably brand-new so they’ll have a good edge.

Obviously, if you aren’t getting handfuls of mats out after a couple of days or if the cat won’t be still for grooming, go to the vet. I’m going to recommend going to the vet for a nick or cut unless you’re experiencing in treating minor injuries on your own.

Why didn’t I take the cat to the vet when he started behaving oddly? Because by that time, it had been over 24 hours and the other cat was behaving normally again. Both of them always sulk and hide for 24 hours. Kumo was eating, drinking, and pooping. He wasn’t vomiting, drooling, or staggering (all things I had happen with a cat many years ago when I used an OTC flea control from a big box store.) I did follow the recommendation of a friend on Twitter and wipe Kumo down with a damp washcloth. If his symptoms had worsened, I’d have taken him to the vet. He’s 13 and taking him to the vet terrorizes him. I waited it out, but if you have the same experience with a cat or dog and a flea med, take the animal to the vet.

I’d like to put the name of the medication in this blog but probably shouldn’t. If you want to know the name, leave me a comment and a private way to respond.