Writing 101

To Write or not To Write, that is the question….

I think about all kinds of topics to write about, especially after a couple glasses of wine. Then I fall asleep. Then I wake up, and forget all about it. Are you all like that? I think about the importance of sitting in front of a computer spilling my guts for an audience of one, me.

I read what I have written in the past few years and some of it makes me laugh, some of it makes me cry, but I am moved by all of it. It’s like a diary of my life, good and bad. Just my reflections at the most difficult and important time of my life, so far.

Had I not committed my experiences to the typed word, it may never have existed at all, least of all in my mind. It exists today, only because I had to write it down, or surely, I would have forgotten all of it.

It all started when I was losing my mind, literally. My mom, may she rest in peace, was making me crazy. Rather than get angry with a 90-something-year old lady, clearly living on borrowed time, I chose to write about my Life with Benita, and find the humor in that, rather than to dwell on the angst.

I loved to cook, mom was dangerously underweight. My sister, her caregiver (for several years in Denver), hated to cook, so the natural thing to do was to move her in with me, in Southern California. I had recently retired and finally had time to help out.

After a few years, I too hated to cook. The one thing I was pretty good at, wasn’t good enough to keep our mom alive.

I started each day with dread. First, if she slept too late, I worried she had passed away. If she woke up, I worried she would refuse to eat anything I prepared, then she would die, because I couldn’t cook food she would eat.

In the end, it is exactly as I suspected it would be. I miss her, immensely. I am grateful for every second I was able to care for her. It is NOT like the movies. It will not be like you caregivers expect. Your parent will try your patience, but what you will remember is the time you said; “MOM, you gotta put on the Bidet!” and she said: “Honey, its on…”

It wasn’t, but she tried.

The Domino Effect

The domino effect is when one thing leads to another. In the actual game dominos, it’s on purpose. In my house it’s always one innocent thing that leads to a whole buncha stuff you never would have taken on if you’d have known you were about to get caught up in a tsunami of re-arrange.

In this particular event, we bought a smallish computer. They call it an All-in-One, meaning it’s not as convenient as a laptop, but small enough to carry around. The keyboard is attached to it by a cord, as is the mouse.

Anyhoo, I was super excited to get it, so much so that I allowed it to take up 50% of my kitchen island space, for a day. After a couple blogs and no room to prep food, I found the computer a little spot in one of the upstairs guest rooms. Unfortunately, it was atop a small cabinet. No room for a chair, so basically the only way to use it would be to squat. Although that would be an amazing workout, it most likely would paralyze or even kill me. So, a no go.

This morning, after Poor Jim took off to Urgent care. Now, not to go completely off the subject, but ‘Urgent’ implies a kind of a-little-bit-of-a-hurry. Our “Urgent” care is 45 minutes to an hour away. But Poor Jim thought it was worth it, he wanted to find out if his toes and ears had cancer. Turns out he caught Covid-Toes, he never actually got Covid, just the toes, and he will have to see a doctor about his ears. It’s interesting, not only is Poor Jim going deaf, at least to my voice, but the outside of his ears are turning on him as well.

Anyhow, with Poor Jim out of the way, I decided to move the computer to a larger guest room downstairs in the basement. Only I didn’t have a desk. So, I re-arranged the upstairs family room, moved a sofa table from behind the sofa, had to empty all the drawers, find new places for the crap in there, move the sofa table down 2 flights of stairs…….you get the picture. But no, it gets worse.

We were supposed to get new carpet this week, only it’s postponed because of the Top Ramen shortage, AKA shipping issues. Well, before we found out we weren’t getting new carpet, Poor Jim had unloaded all the downstairs cabinets of their contents making it easier for the carpet installers to move the furniture. Unfortunately, he piled everything up like Giant Leaning Towers of Pisas, all over the windowsills. Pretty unsightly, but temporary, and I almost never go downstairs.

I said, halfheartedly, that I wouldn’t put everything back, I would avoid the basement for 3 or more weeks while we anxiously waited to replace the carpets. But that was before I created a shiny new office in………. you guessed it, the downstairs basement! So, I had to put everything back. I even added a few found cookbooks to the upstairs cabinet I should have been emptying out.

If I have to have horrible carpets for another month, I might as well not complicate matters by have Leaning Towers of Books adorned by miscellaneous goodies all over the place.

I never would have done this if Poor Jim was home. I hate it when he makes that face, you know the one. The one where a person tries to force logic and reason on you. Saying things like; “I just unloaded all that stuff”, or “no one will see it”, or “that will never fit”, or “we are supposed to be clearing out the garage for the ‘Luxury Vinyl hard floors’ being installed on the main floor in 2 days!”, or ” You just added 20 pounds of cookbooks to the cabinet we need to unload in 2 days!” etcetera.

All I have to say is I’m sorry Poor Jim’s tootsie’s hurt and they caught the Covid, and I’m sorry I don’t get to have new carpet in my shiny new office. But I sure am happy I have a tiny computer I can carry around if I ever get tired of the view from my shiny new office, but I doubt it, it’s amazing!

Another Story

So, in my last post I alluded to “another story”. Well, this story is really more of a question. It’s about the phrase, “move in ready”. I guess I don’t know what that is, exactly. Is it just a phrase? Or a description? Is it tossed around by unscrupulous real estate folks that hope to sell primarily to the blind? I’m not sure.

Our house was purchased via the interweb. I wouldn’t say sight unseen, because I saw pictures on Realtor.com and Zillow. I didn’t notice 4 months ago when I picked the house out that the realtor had posted a lovely description of the house at the bottom of the page. I’m glad I didn’t read it until a few days ago, or it may have angered me enough to call her and ask her what the fuck does move in ready mean to you? I’m sure on some level it has a different connotation to many folks.

I’ll tell you what it doesn’t mean, assuming of course, that you are selling the house to sighted people with hands and olfactory senses.

Let’s talk about the doorknobs. I have looked at a lot of things in this house and wanted to call the family that lived here last if they know what happened. It looks like, and this is just a guess, their 3 boys took a power tool to every doorknob in the entire house and made a hole in the center of each one, with extremely sharp, jagged shards of twisted metal in the perfect spot to slice your hand open, should you decide to open or close the door by the lethal knobs. I don’t consider that, move in ready. We replaced all the knobs.

Now the interior door to the garage. Its metal, I’m sure expensive, because it has to keep the cold out. And maybe a battering ram. But that expensive, battering-ram-proof door was no match for the 3 boys that last lived here. Perhaps it was the family before them, but I doubt it. It is not just dented; it has 50 dents. I counted them. I will again assume; the little darlings used the poor battering-ram-proof door for target practice. I am not a gun person, but it looks like the sort of spray a sawed-off shotgun would produce.

A blind person would probably love this 4-story house, except for the missing handrails on every staircase and man-eating doorknobs. A blind person wouldn’t see the bender board, usually reserved for the express use in landscaping, repurposed as indoor bedroom baseboards. Hmmmm, move in ready, I don’t think so. But at least a blind person wouldn’t mind cooking in the dark. For some reason, there was zero light over the stove. The ugly light over the peninsula was behind the cook, so your shadow blocked any light from reaching the stove. That has been rectified. I can now see what I am cooking. The bender board is going away next week.

For you dog lovers out there, you know how your dog will roll around on any dead animal or disgusting anything. Well, one of my little stink-loving dogs rolls around in the same spot on the carpet in one of the guest rooms. I think something died there, cuz it smells really weird and he frickin loves that spot. It too will be going away next week.

There is more, but I’d like to say, I have enjoyed all the improvements we have made to this house. Poor Jim is now a floor-stenciling expert, thanks to my interest in Pinterest! Painting sad tile floors is about a zillion dollars cheaper than retiling them, unless you compare retiling to divorce. Then retiling is the way to go.

I am really starting to fall in love with my fixer upper, also known as, move in ready.

I want to send this story to the real estate agent that had the temerity to call this house, move in ready. She must have left the state.

New house New crazy

We just moved into our “Move in Ready” house, (but that’s a different story) a couple of months ago. We spent 21 years fixing up our last house, AKA The Funny Farm, to move to the Colorado Mountains on a couple of acres of forest. What an adventure! Had to find homes for a lot of our animals. Some were not allowed in our new county, they frown on roosters and guineas, too loud, I guess. Some were too old to make the journey, the parrot and desert tortoise were not equipped to handle the cold weather.

It was heartbreaking to give them away, but we were blessed to find them all great homes.

At the last minute we were able to find a home for the hardest of the hardest pets to place – Buster, the slaughterhouse rescue horse. He almost died in the 30-minute trip to his new home, he would never have survived the trip all the way from Temecula to Florissant.

We bought a gigantic used horse trailer to haul him in before we found out we weren’t taking him. It turned out to be the MOST amazing thing. We used it to move 9 chickens ha and a couple ducks. The chickens were so happy on the trip they laid eggs on the way!

We moved 4 cats inside my SUV, they were not happy enough to lay eggs. They cried and complained for hours. Poor Jim was on that trip. My mom traveled in style, perched up on a queen bed in my sister’s campervan. The next big animal trip was with my daughter and grandkids as co-pilots, along with my 4 little dogs. The grand-co-pilots, brought their dog along just so we’d be extra packed.

Turned out their dog is a seasoned traveler and helped keep my nervous pups quiet. The first leg of our trip was beautiful. We loved driving through Utah and even got to see a Sister Wife when we stopped to get gas. However, the next day we barely made it over the Vail Pass because of snow and ice. All the other road warriors had no problems managing the white stuff. We, however, were riding on, and I quote the Tire Man on this: “Uhhh, Yeah, you had super shitty tires and they were totally bald.” We got new tires the next day. That explained a lot, like why we were going 100 MPH sideways, and all the other people were going 40 MPH, straight.

So, we made it to Colorado on Wednesday and left the next day on shiny new tires, expensive ones with tread and stuff. Found a home for Buster on the way back to California and a home for our last puppy, but that’s another story.

Got home Friday late afternoon. Poor Jim had been alone for the first time, to pack the last of our stuff and tidy the “move-in-ready” house. He was not move-anywhere-ready. We punched it into high gear and tried to get the horse trailer loaded with our last-minute stuff and dog-proof the inside of the car for the next load of co-pilots.

We finished up around 10:00 pm, got up at 4:00 am on Saturday and loaded up about 400 pounds of dog. Baby Biscuit weighs in around 110 lbs, his girlfriends are slightly more ‘slender’, but not by much.

Poor Jim fed them during the day on Friday, but we held off on snacks during the trip. We adorned my car with several tarps, blankets and towels, Poor Jim had protective head gear for us, just in case, but we didn’t need that, thank God.

They enjoyed a hearty meal after we snuck 400 pounds of white giants into the hotel. We happily paid $50 for one, but didn’t want to blow our wad on the other 3 criminals, so with stealth-like moves, scooted them in a side door.

Believe it or not, the little angels, (my grandkids and little dogs) made a much bigger mess of my car than the 400-pound hairballs.

I laid awake for hours for a solid month trying to figure out how to move a 96-year-old lady, a bunch of dogs, chickens, some horses, goats…. you get the picture without anyone dying on the way. With all the planning and angst, it all worked out. Some ideas were mine; most weren’t. When they say, “It takes a village”, they are not kidding!!! It took: Poor Jim, Brother-in-law Joel, Sister Teri, niece Julie, nephew Jordon, daughters Kelly, Tina, and Katie, grandkids Stella, Jack, grand-dog Benji and brother-in-law Tom to make this sojourn work.

Everyone survived. I can’t believe it.

Well……. except for the tires on my travel trailer, but that’s a different story.

Finally a meal my mom Loved

So, I said to my mom: “did you take the foil off the dish sitting on the island?” She said: “Yes! It was the most delicious thing EVER! The meat was so tender!!”

A normal person would have loved the compliment, I however was HORRIFIED. I said: “Mom, you just ate the dogs food.” She said: “Why would you give that delicious food to the dog.” I said: “Because it was DOG FOOD!”

Recipe:

I put dry kibble in a pie pan, we recommend Pedigree, then top it with a can of Old Roy Beef Tips in Gravy.

My dogs loved it, it never occurred to feed it to my mom.

Now I make my own dog food. This is actually food a human could eat:)

Ground turkey

Beef liver

Spinach

Lentils cooked with tiny shredded up carrots

Brown rice or quinoa

Sweet potatoes

It’s actually delicious, all except for the liver:(

I brown 3 pounds of turkey, mix in a 2 pound bag of frozen chopped spinach add the cooked liver (1 pound cooked in my pressure cooker and ground up) add the cooked lentils, (about 2 cups) stir in the 6 cups of cooked quinoa or cooked brown rice and a couple big cans of sweet potatoes.

I would feel much better about my mom eating this dog food:)

What the 1966?

So, back in 1966…….

In December, 1965 I turned eight years old.

January of 1966, my family and I moved to Glendale, California from Cocoa Beach, Florida. I went from living in a small town where I knew lots of folks to a big city, where I only knew … nobody. Just my parents, my sister, my Aunt Gail, and Uncle Dick.

Everything in Glendale was beyond scary. Not one thing was familiar. I think my mother showed me where the grade school was, but I couldn’t remember how to get there.

On the way to my first day of school, I saw a neighbor girl going in that general direction. Could that little girl possibly show me the way? I followed her. Gratefully, she managed to get us to school.

The next day, I followed her. She was nice, and knew her way to school! Perfect!!!! After a week or so, her mom appeared. She was also nice. She started walking my new friend and me to school.

When my new tour guide’s mom first appeared on the scene, she seemed very cordial. In the most polite way imaginable, she asked me to ‘please’ walk a little further back. I did. Then she asked, in the most polite way, to please stay back a little further…I did. I was asked to stay back , and then further back. I reluctantly obliged until I was so far back, I was certain to get lost forever.

Eventually I found my way to school walking alone.

It wasn’t for many years to come, (1972, high school) that I realized that that lady hated something about me. She couldn’t have me near her daughter, so I had to stand back.

I watch the news. I watch Dateline, Little girls are snatched up, raped, kidnapped and worse. All of those things could have happened to me.

I would like to ask what that mother was so afraid of to put me in that kind of jeopardy?

???

My father was Swiss, my mother Mexican. I would like to ask that mother why she asked me to lag so far behind her and her daughter…was it because I was half Swiss or half Mexican?

I am a non-white. Period.

For my grand kiddos

Lock Down, Grandmother Style

My mom’s been with Poor -Jim and me for 3 years, 2 months and 16 days. I have been in lock down for 3 years, 2 months and 16 days :(). I fancy my self an expert on how to keep busy and not leave home except once every 2 or 3 months, and that is for dental appointments only. Or the occasional trip to the hospital, but that’s a different story 😦

You can’t take a 90-something lady out very easily in the best weather. I definitely can’t take my 90-something lady out if there is wind, rain, cold or heat. So, we stay home.

I used to have a big SUV that was like asking a 90-something lady to climb Mount Everest. Everest may have been easier because at least she’d have a Sherpa.

I no longer have my nice, big SUV. I am the reluctant sharer of a tiny sedan with Poor-Jim. It fits my 90-something mom great, I have to bend like a contortionist to fit my head in if I am wearing my hair up in a bun. I always have my hair in a bun these days. I tried cutting my hair, pre-COVID, (so no excuse). I gave myself an exceptionally bad mullet, providing there is a good mullet, and vowed never to try it again. I told the lady at the beauty shop, who attempted to fix my handiwork of mass destruction, that my sister did it. I never saw her before that un-repair job or since, but I couldn’t let her think I was the perpetrator of said mullet.

Since Covid, my hair has grown like crazy and my bun is getting so big, I need to get another big car so my hair will fit. Thank Jesus for retirement and the lockdown, I couldn’t get to work with my giant bun in Poor-Jim’s tiny car.

I used to work a zillion hours in the old days. On my day or days off, I NEVER wanted to leave home. Now I can’t. It’s my retirement dream come true! There is a down side. I used to enjoy cleaning my house on my day off. Now, I clean every day. I’m getting sick of my only hobby.

I am grateful to have a home to clean. I am super grateful my mom doesn’t have to live in a retirement home. I get frustrated with her but, ultimately, I know how precious it is to have her here with us. She doesn’t know she lives here. I don’t know if it’s dementia or wishful thinking, but she talks about going home. She talks about her grandson picking her up and taking her home. I remind her that she lives here now and she ignores me.

My 90-something mom and I have been figuring out the art of quarantine for 3 years, 2 months and 16 days. I’m glad to have her with me, I couldn’t do it without her.

Thanksgiving Covid-19 Style

What a year. Crazy. The Covid. The election. The Protesters. The Fires. Not to mention my dental issues.

I worked REALLY hard for decades both as a food server then a restaurant manager. On holidays we worked extra hard without extra Thanks. Yes, even on the day of the Thanks-“Giving” Managers make the same whether you work 8 hours or 23 hours.

Servers don’t often receive extra compensation on holidays, even though it looks busy. Usually that’s when ‘amateurs’ eat out. Amateurs seem to have unrealistic expectations and think a 10% gratuity is more than enough especially if it’s a buffet.

When I finally retired, I couldn’t wait to spend all day cleaning my house and cooking food for my family, now, thanks in part to Covid, things will look, well, a little different around here.

I have NEVER decorated for Christmas prior to Thanksgiving dinner. I usually host three. One for friends, one for one daughter and her family and one for the daughter still crazy enough to work in a restaurant. Hers is usually the Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving or the Friday after.

This year, I’ll be cooking alright. But the food will be delivered to the daughters’ homes. Since no one’s coming over, I figured I’d get a well deserved jump on Christmas Cheer and decorate a little early.

The last few years I’m sick of the Christmas-Clutter by December 24. I don’t dismantle it until the last grand kid has opened their gifts. I am not totally heartless. So I wait until December 26.

If I get sick of the multiple Christmas trees or endless garlands on schedule, it may come down by mid December! Not really, as I said, I’m not totally heartless.

Oh, the Dentist you ask? Well, as mentioned, things look a little different around here. Including a couple teeth that went AWOL.

Happy New Year?

We will see, it can only get better, right?

The 80’s were not kind….

For most of the 1980″s I was in my 20’s. The fashions were HORRIBLE. I was expecting babies the last part of the 70’s and the early part of the 80’s. Some sick person thought it would be fashionable to dress pregnant ladies up like toddlers. Puffy sleeves and all kinds of ribbons in pastel colors. When I finally put away my maternity clothes I was dressing more like a grown up, sporting adorable shoulder pads and big-ass perms.

I hated my body, before and after kids. I was built like a boy. Not an ounce of fat, not a curve in sight. I got dressed in the closet for the first few years of my marriage because I was so embarrassed of how I looked. If I had that figure now, I’d go to the market in my birthday suit!

I look at clothes now and think, I would have loved that back a few decades ago, but all the lose flowing clothes would make me look like a sixty year old lady expecting a baby. I am determined to loose my recent weight gain so I can wear loose fitting clothes that are meant to fit a 2x but look best on a size 2-x-less body, ironic. When I had the size 2 body, the clothes were hideous, now clothes are cute and I don’t fit in them.

I remember going in to K-Mart years ago, thinking it must cost just as much to make a shirt out of cute material as it does out of ugly material. If ladies with horrible taste didn’t have access to ugly clothes they would be forced to look nice. But no, K-Mart had ample supplies of the ugliest clothes imaginable, seemingly to have an endless supply of old-lady looking clothes. At one point they brought in one of Charlie’s Angels to fix the fashion crisis. But sadly even beautiful Jacquelyn Smith couldn’t save the day.

I think all the K-Marts are gone. But the hideous old lady looking clothes have managed to sneak into other stores. Polyester blouses with color combinations of flowers one should only see in nature.

I think even Mother Nature wouldn’t wear some of the blouses that still sting the corners of my mind.