How do parents do it?


alphabet (Photo credit: Jim Davies)

Holy moly, I remember watching my nieces and nephews when they were little…and I was much, much younger.  It didn’t seem as difficult then as spending the day with a kid is now.  I’ve spent a big part of the day with my little neighbor, Claire…you’ve probably heard me talk about her before.  Sweet, funny, adorable and exhausting.  I took her and her mom to one of the food pantries here in town (there’s a whole upcoming blog in that experience).  She’s very well-behaved and quiet, that’s not the problem.  She just has so much energy…and, uh…I don’t.

After we got back, we went our separate ways, or so I thought.  Pretty soon there came this hesitant little knock on my door.  When I opened the door, there was Claire…her mommy said she could come over for a while.  She wanted to pet the kitties.  It took a while, but they eventually got to the place where they’d stay in the room with her.  Spook even allowed Claire to rub her head.  Shocking, but true!

Claire wanted me to show her how to write her name.  When I started to write it, I was using all caps.  Well, she informed me, in no uncertain terms, that we didn’t need those in her name.  Then it dawned on me, they use lower case letters…okay, I got it now.  Lower case it is.  And she recognized the letters.  See, I don’t think we did anything like that in kindergarten, but maybe we did…it has been a long, long time ago….in a galaxy far, far away…oh wait…that’s the exhaustion talking.

She had to go through every single cat toy in the house (well, not the ones under the fridge or the washer…but only because she doesn’t yet know about them), asking me which cat liked which toys the best, when they got each of them, what their favorite colors are, and so on.  Then she wanted to know why I leave them by themselves all day when I’m at work.  I mean, how do you tell a 5-year-old that you leave your cats home alone because they’re cats?  Ahh…but then came the clincher.  She said she’d be glad to watch them for me while I’m at work.  Aww…right?  I told her Spooky watches Scout since Spooky is older and that seemed to satisfy her.

Before she left, she asked me if I was working tomorrow.  When I told her I was, she asked, “And you’re going to see if you can find Dora for me?  I’ve never had Dora.”  How can I resist?  I sure hope we have something to do with Dora in the store.  If not, I guess I’ll have to go hunting…

Now…I have to go to bed…I’m worn out!

Doing the right thing?

Pasta is a feature of the Argentine cuisine

Pasta is a feature of the Argentine cuisine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t know why I’m even thinking about this.  This afternoon, one of my neighbors knocked on my door and asked if I had anything at all I could give them to cook for dinner tonight.  The only reason I had to stop and think about it at all was because she has two little ones and I was trying to think of what I had that they’d eat.  Most of what I have in my pantry are things like quinoa, brown rice, dry beans, couscous, you get the picture.  I finally asked if they like spaghetti.  She said they love spaghetti so I went to my pantry to give her what I had.  Well, no spaghetti (thought for sure I’d bought a box of whole wheat spaghetti, but I guess not), but I did have a box of rotini and a jar of pasta sauce and some canned veggies.  She was so grateful, telling me she wouldn’t get her food stamps for a few more days.  Well, I’m not worried about the food, that’s for sure.

I just can’t imagine how humiliating it would be to have to ask someone you only know in passing for food to feed your kids.  She works two jobs and is on medical leave.  She’s able to use her sick time from her full-time job, but there’s nothing to make up for the money she’d earn with her  part-time job.  So she’s making enough to pay the rent and utilities, but that’s it.  I don’t even want to get into the whole political aspect of this.  It’s just a shame that someone who works so hard has to struggle like this when she gets sick.

Whatever your thoughts on that aspect of it might be, you have to consider the kids.  They have no say in anything that goes on in their lives.  And to think of them having to go to bed without something to eat because their mom’s sick…I can’t just stand by and watch that.  I hear people make comments about people on food stamps, about people who utilize the food pantries, about people who can’t make ends meet.  You know, if there are people out there who are abusing the system or taking advantage of someone else’s generosity, that’s on them.  But how could you live with yourself if someone was genuinely in need and you turned your back on them?  If you had the ability to ensure a child doesn’t go to bed hungry and you looked the other way, what kind of person does that make you?

Now I’m debating with myself about whether or not I should go to the grocery store in the morning and buy some food for them.  Or maybe I can go buy a gift card and anonymously leave it on her door, she would know more what her kids would eat than I would.  I just shake my head that here we are in the richest nation on the planet and there are people who have no food.  What a sad situation.

South of Normal

Español: Frontera entre Nicaragua y Costa Rica...

Español: Frontera entre Nicaragua y Costa Rica En el Río San Juan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First off, don’t you just love the title?  Because, after all, if you’re reading this blog, chances are you, too, are more than a little south of normal.  Unfortunately, I can’t take any credit (not even a little bit) for that title.  That goes to Mr. Norm Schriever, author and adventurer.  This guy gave up his big-bucks job in corporate America (who hasn’t considered doing that?), sold almost everything he had, and made off for little old Costa Rica for a year-long adventure.  He had three goals that he wanted to meet before his fortieth birthday.  Now I’m not going to tell you whether or not he achieved what he set out to achieve, but I will tell you that he had some pretty wild goings-on while living in Central America.  And this book will take you along for the ride.

I happened upon the book while browsing ebooks on Amazon…downloaded it to my kindle and began reading it the same day.  It took me a couple of days to finish it…I could have finished it in one day, but it was one of those books that I didn’t want to end.  I’m sure you’ve come across those types of books where you try not to rush through it because you know you just don’t want the relationship to end.

Speaking of relationships, Norm’s style of writing reminds me of the times when I get together with my old friends from the Little Italy days…we sit around talking and laughing, eating and drinking, and it’s like we’ve never been apart.  I felt that same kind of relationship with Norm while reading his book.

I don’t often recommend books here (if you knew how many books I’ve read, you’d think I’d write about more of them), but this is one book I think so many of you would like.  If you’re a writer, you’ll definitely want to read South of Normal.  If you’ve ever considered chucking it all and moving to the back of nowhere, you’ll be interested in Norm’s story.  If you’ve ever searched (or thought about searching) for the meaning of life, well then, I think you’ll want to see what Norm has to say about that.  Pick it up, come on, do it right now while you’re thinking about it.  Then come back here and let me know what you think.

Now I need to start selling all of my stuff and make my flight plans for somewhere tropical where I can get my book finished and practice my Spanish…

Nightmare in B’town

Dr. House's Vicodin Dream

Dr. House’s Vicodin Dream (Photo credit: Totally Severe)

I saw the rheumatologist on Thursday.  After talking about how much pain I’m in every day, she gave me a prescription for Vicodin.  Am I like the only person who had never taken this stuff before?  Seems like everyone I work with had taken it and had either advice or horror stories to share with me.  I picked up the prescription after I got off work on Friday and took one when I got home (I avoid trying new meds until I’m at home and don’t have to go anywhere…you never know what’s going to happen).

I went about my evening and, a couple of hours later, noticed that my pain levels had diminished…okay, that’s a good thing, right?  I felt a little bit odd, but still…nothing too bad.  When I went to bed, I read for a while.  When I felt like I could go to sleep, I turned the light off and settled down to try to sleep.  Of course, Spook and Scout were right there with me.

Well, I tossed and turned, unable to go to sleep.  I eventually turned the light back on and read a little more, then tried the whole going to sleep thing again.    This time, there were fragmented pictures flashing behind my eyes, one after another, so fast I couldn’t really see what the pictures were of.  Then suddenly a deformed monkey reached out for me…he was clearly visible, then he disappeared and the broken pictures began falling apart and reforming behind my eyes.  All of a sudden, a face, with mouth wide open in a scream, surged toward me before spinning away only to be replaced by the pieces of pictures again.

This went on all night, every time I closed my eyes to try to go to sleep.  I must have finally dozed off.  When I woke up there was a pool of blood right where Spooky had been sleeping by my pillow.  I began calling for her, worried about her.  There was no way a kitty as little as she is could lose that much blood and still be alive.  When she walked up from the foot of the bed, I had to check her over.  Of course, everything was fine.  Oh…and when I glanced at the pool of blood…yeah, you got it…it was gone.

I kind of felt like I was playing a part in a Stephen King book.  Hey, wait…I can probably use this in a book…perhaps a bit more gruesome than my normal writing, but when you have the story line you need to run with it.  Oh…and…uh….yeah, I didn’t take the Vicodin before I went to bed last night.  Thought I could do without another nightmare in B’town.

Giving in to the pain?

Dr. Miles' Anti-Pain Pills, Edmonds Historical...

Dr. Miles’ Anti-Pain Pills, Edmonds Historical Museum, Edmonds, Washington. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have several doctor’s appointments coming up over the next couple of weeks.  And you know how much I’m looking forward to that, right?  The thing is, I find myself  blaming the doctors because I’m still in so much pain every day.  It feels like they’re not really taking it seriously.  I know I haven’t been actively seeking medical treatment for the pain for all that long, but I’ve been In a lot of pain for several years now.  Maybe I need to stress that when I see the various doctors this month.

There are days I go to work wondering how I’ll make it through the day.  Granted, I’m usually able to survive the entire day at work, but at what cost?  Sometimes I cry all the way home.  Other days I manage to work my way through the basics before I collapse in bed.  Isn’t there something the doctors can do to help ease the pain?  I’ve been on Celebrex for several months now…it’s sure not doing a lot for me.  Can’t we look at what I’ve already tried and find something different that might work?  Why keep prescribing the same thing when we know it’s not helping?  And why am I so dumb that I keep taking drugs that don’t do anything for me?  Why can’t I just tell them I want something stronger?

I understand that the doctors are trying to find meds that will work at the lowest possible dosage…I get it, I do.  In the meantime, what?  Just keep hurting?  Just keep on not being able to sleep?  Just keep trying to make it through the day in a fog of fatigue?  Most of the time I find myself giving in to the pain, thinking that I’ll just have to live with it, that there’s no help for it or for me.  Whew!  Do I sound like a whiny brat, or what?  Hey, there are times that the pain will do that to you…

Get rid of it!

English: A handyman project was to de-clutter ...

English: A handyman project was to de-clutter a basement which tends to get filled with things when it’s not certain whether to throw or keep them. When a basement becomes too cluttered, it’s hard to find things that are really needed. One way is to move clutter to a second location where it can be sorted into two piles (1) trash (2) items to keep. Source of picture: here (see public domain declaration). Questions: write to my Wikipedia page or email me at (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I could say that about so many things in my life, but today I’m once again talking about clutter.  Since I’ve been not-so-healthy for about 8 months now, I haven’t been able to do much more than the basics in housecleaning.  I see things I’d like to tackle, knowing I could either donate or sell so many things that I no longer use (you know, that whole downsizing thing), but I just don’t have the energy to start.  Not being willing to spend the money it would cost to hire someone to help…okay, not willing and really not able to afford it…I’ve been trying to devise a plan that would enable me to accomplish at least a little each week.

Here is the beginning of that plan:

1.  Five days a week (2 days off work and my choice of 3 work days depending on how I’m feeling), find 5 things to get out of my house.  If they are things to be donated, take them out to the car immediately to drop off at either Goodwill or the office of the complex where I live.  If they’re things to be sold, take pictures, decide where I’m going to sell them, then either list the items or post the pictures.  Be sure to keep a file on items to be sold, price, where advertised, when posted, etc.

2.  The other 2 days a week, gather up 5 magazines to take to work to put in the break room.

That’s it so far…kind of funny/sad  that I can’t go through an entire closet in a day or completely clean a room, top to bottom on my day off.  Right now, I’m going to go into the kitchen and put some eggs on to boil for work for the next few days.  While they’re on the stove, I’m going to tackle a pile of paper that’s been sitting on the counter bugging the heck out of me for about a week now.  I have to accept what I can and can’t do right now…but I can’t just give in to this blasted pain every day either.

I did halfway clean out the fridge this morning before I went grocery shopping.  I think that counts, don’t you?

Spending time with my new friend

English: Rubber bands in different colors. Stu...

English: Rubber bands in different colors. Studio photo taken. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What’s better than making a new friend?  Well, okay…spending time with old friends is great, really great!  But making new friends is pretty fun too.  My new friend is the little girl next door.  I’ve previously written about Claire.  Well, I got to spend a few minutes with her after work today.  I knew she was waiting for me as soon as I pulled up after work today.  There she was with her little doll buggy on the sidewalk in front of my porch.  As soon as she saw me, she went right back to the porch post and wrapped her arm around it again.  I’m not sure what that signifies, maybe she needs a little extra support because she’s so shy.  Alright, alright…I know I’m not any kind of psychiatrist…I’m just a writer, give me a break here.

Anyhow, I got out of the car and was talking to another neighbor as I walked toward the porch.  As soon as we finished chatting, Claire timidly said “hi”.  When I smiled and asked her what was going on, she said, “Can I see your kitties?”  I just laughed and told her I’d see if I could catch one of them.  When I put the key in the lock, Claire asked, “Why you always unlock the door?”  I told her I’d been gone all day.  Her response?  “You been gone all day?”  Okay, she’s five years old.  Are you expecting a discussion about the Dead Sea scrolls?

I opened the door and put my stuff inside.  As usual, the kitties were there to greet me, not knowing they had another adventure in store.  Well, Scout may figure these things out a little quicker than Spook does.  As soon as I reached out for Scout, she took off.  Having worked all day, I felt a tad too tired to chase after her.  I turned to Spook and she (silly, trusting, little thing that she is) came right into my arms.  And then we were out the door before she realized my intent.  At first she started to climb my shoulder, but quickly relaxed when Claire approached her.  Who knew my cat likes kids?  Claire and Spook spent a couple of minutes bonding until Claire saw the bracelet I was wearing.

We got in this new product at work, the Rainbow Loom.  You can make bracelets and whatever else you can think of using those little bitty rubber bands.  One of the girls was doing a demo of the new product and made bracelets for all of us who were working.  I  wore my red and white one (go Hoosiers!) all day.  Well, all day until Claire happened to see it.  She pointed at it and asked, “What’s that?”  I told her it was a bracelet one of the girls I work with made for me.  When I asked her if she liked it, she nodded, not taking her eyes from it.  Okay, I’m a sucker.  I gave the kid my bracelet.  She immediately put it on and then showed her mom.

We talked a few more minutes, long enough for me to find out that Claire is starting kindergarten on Wednesday and is excited about it.  And that she’s a little less excited about the new baby that’s going to be joining her family later.  Hopefully that’ll change, I bet it will.  I also hope that I managed to put a little smile on Claire’s face, just like she did mine.

How can I learn to be patient?


Patience (Photo credit: AngSocialMed)

I am not the most patient person in the world, not by a long shot.  And I feel guilty when I’m impatient with someone…well, most of the time.  Last night, my lovely new neighbors were outside yelling at someone in a car and someone threw something that hit my door.  The cats scattered in fear, that’s how loud it was.  Without thinking of the consequences, I rushed to the door, unlocked it, and jerked it open, giving them all my evil stare.  It must be a pretty frightening look because the people in the car took off and the dear, sweet neighbors went inside.  These people have only lived here for about two months and this kind of behavior happens every week or so.  Just a tad annoying.

How does this have anything to do with me not being patient, you might ask.  I mean, I didn’t go out there with my gun and threaten to shoot them all…oh wait, I don’t have a gun (I’m thinking that may be a good thing).  I didn’t call the police although I do think someone must have because they drove by not too long after the incident.  I didn’t go over and pound on their door and yell and scream at them…okay, a couple of reasons I didn’t do that…I’m not really the yelling and screaming type and I tend to be a little cowardly when faced with a group of people who might want to do me bodily harm. But I also didn’t go over and try to speak with them after everyone had calmed down.  I didn’t explain to them that I’m not all that healthy, I have difficulty sleeping, and I’m still working 40+ hours a week.  I just kind of stewed for the rest of the night.

When I left to go to work this morning, there was a note taped to my door.  The lady apologized to me for being too loud, saying her younger, under-aged sister came over wanting her to go out and buy her and her friends some alcohol.  That’s what precipitated the argument.  Okay, so it still wasn’t right for them to be yelling and throwing things, disturbing everyone who lives in the neighborhood.  But…she did apologize and that’s more than most folks are willing to do.

Hmm…after reading this again, I think I’ve been fairly patient with them over the past two months.  Maybe a better question would be how can I learn to peacefully confront people and talk things through?  Or am I being naïve?  Oh well, wouldn’t be the first time.