Saturday, December 30, 2006

Happy birthday to me

I had birthday pie for breakfast; I'm going to the fabric shop AND the yarn shop (I have a grandbaby on the way and need to make a sweater and blanky) and then I'm watching HOUSE whilst I knit.

That was the end of 2006.
Now it is the end of January, 2007. I'm back at work. Tomorrow is the anniversary of my Dad's death and somedays, I wonder what one earth I did in that last year I was off. I am busy getting taxes done, knitting is never ending and we have had a huge freeze here, so I am not realy sure what is left of my garden (weeds, I am sure have managed to survive).

I have a lap afgan almost finished for my mother (who is on her way to an assisted living facility, I am sure). I have a grandbaby boy due in March and a visit from the babies in June.

And that is pretty much it.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Been a teeny caught up in my own life lately

We had a terrific of the best ever. Everyone was happy to have Darling home; food was great, no fighting, no biting. We planned to leave the next morning for a three day weekend at our beach house.

So much for planning.
Darling had a stroke; I called 911 and we spent the next 10 days in the hospital. He had a bed; I had a chair and all I could do was watch over him and worry. So now he is home and I am sick sick sick. I always get sick over people in the hospital...I'm great while they are IN the hospital, but once they get home and I can stop worrying, I end up getting e. coli or something and spend at least a week being SO sick.

So I am behind in everything.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving 2006

Shopped on Tuesday at 6 am. We were in and out in under an hour. Lisi got everythign together last night, brined the turkey in kosher salf and brown sugar in a deep sink filled with ice water. She is steaming the gizzards and livers, onions, carrots, bok choy and stripped celery t be minced and put into the stuffing (bigg stuffing family here). All the baking is done and except for popping in the cresant rolls, it is all done.

We are seting the table, doing a quick hoovering of the up and downstairs, dump bleach in all the toilets and lock the animals outside.

That is pretty much all of it.

This is our favorite hokiday....totally food centered. No gifts to disappoint.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Shout out to Fresno

I live in a really little town. I would bet within a WEEK, I drive MAYBE 10 miles. TEN. So when I have to drive to Fresno (about 30 miles away), it is a BIG DEAL. They have traffic, traffic lights, multiple highways and exits. (I grew up in Minisculeville with TWO highway exits and when I moved here,,,,to Eensytown with four exits, I thought I had really moved to the city.)

So I don't like driving and I don't like driving in TOWN (which is what Fresno is). I usually cut Fresno off my places to go in October, since I have no desire to fight the holiday traffic.

So this week, I will be in Fresno FOUR times. I bet in the last year I haven't been to Fresno that many times. And since I hate malls even more than I hate shopping, I am driving right straight to my appointment and zipping right back home, where I belong.

When I retire, I am looking for a little town in a little country where there aren;t very many people and no cars.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Save me from myself

I cannot add or subtract. I have no idea why people in my home insist that this is a skill I can learn, much less than possess. I cannot do it. So my husband comes home and tells me that I'm about a THOUSAND DOLLARS overdrawn. Really, Hmmm. Let me check my checkbook. Nope. I have $1500 in there. So he checks. I've managed to transpose $1000 worth of checks and oopsie, he has used $500 worth of my account accidently for Paypal. (I've done it, big deal...I just need to be informed.)

So it's NOT my fault. I'm dyslexic.

Of course, that is like telling the officer that the accident isn't my fault because I'm drunk.

But it's the only REASON I have. Not an excuse....because it is the truth.

And I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Thursday, November 02, 2006

I had no idea

I had no CLUE how dirty the house was.
It doesn't take much getting off track for the whole thing to fizzle into chaos. I injured my shoulder/had surgery/went to physical therapy 5x week for 3 hours a day...which will just wear a person OUT).
So I cleaned the kitchen...about 10 times. It is still not super clean enough for me but it certainly looking better. (I still have the cupboards to clear out.)
The bathrooms have been scrubbed and bleached.
I have vacuumed probably a TON of dirt...I have one of those water filter vacs, so I can see the dirt, dog hair and junk when I dump it out. I can truthfully say that I have vacuumed up enough dog hair to make an extra dog or two.

And in the meanwhile, I am STILL working on the yellow afgan. I am getting down to the finish about the last inch and the cast off. Hoping to get it washed and taken to the beach house tomorrow. And if I ever think about knitting something yellow again? Please stop me.

I have a pretty varigated soft Italian that I am working up into a baby blanket, along with a cuff to cuff baby sweater to save for any new grandbabies that happen to pop up. I just need a break before I start off on my husband's cardigan.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I finished my book!

It's about raising an autistic, schziophrenic son. Not an easy read because it hasn't been an easy journey. However, I do think I have a voice and that it would be a help to other mothers in the same boat. He is 22 now and while he is still constantly dealing with concerns, they aren't the same ones he dealt with five years ago.

It helps that that he is very high functioning....but he is still, as he says "crazy as a loon."

I read Danielle Steele's book about her son, Nick and while mine is not as heartbreaking and I didn;t have the kind of money she did for help, in the end, there is NO amount of money that you can throw at this problem that will make it right. If I won the lottery TONIGHT, there wouldn't be enough money to fix him.

Because he's not broken. I believe he is the way he is because God sent him that way. And I believe that God surely must know what he is doing, becasue if he doesn't, we are all screwed with a phillips head. (My mother used to say that...she said it sounded less low class.)

So I did the best I could and handed him 500 pages...which I think is A LOT. Hoping that he doesn't tell me to burn it or wait until he is dead before I do anything with it, because I think it is a powerful story.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Another weekend at the beachhouse

I love these long, lazy quiet weekends here. I can sit and knit and watch the hummers and butterflies in my little garden, but we mainly do ittle to nothing. When I bring Rocket, I will walk the two blocks to the little park....and there is always the tide to watch. And the golfers.

Yesterday was particularly busy...Girlie came up with us and we went to town to the bookstore. The end. That was the sum total of what we did. (Well, besides fixing meals...which is nothing!)
She cannot believe that we just rest up here....there are so many things to do....what she doesn;t realize is that I've DONE them all. We have even quit going out to eat because...well, I like the food we fix ourselves better. No tables to wait for, no disappointing surprises. I have just one place I like for clam chowder and onion rings and I don;t really care to go find another place. I lke this one.

We are going to Arizona next week...and I put my foot down. NO EATING AT THE CHEVRON STATIONS. We have to actually STOP to eat. When we did the road trip from Florida to California, we were on a real time restraint and didn;t stop once for decent food. It was fill up the car. go to the bathroom and grab something. That whole trip, we were cranky and out of sorts (okay, we did do LA, TEXAS and NM in one day. Texas is one big state.) But we have to eat decently to have any hope of enjoying the trip. And it's not as if we HAVE to get back on Monday at 6 am.

I am still having problems with vertigo...not all the time but when I do, it's a doozy. Going to see Dr. Wong tomorrow to see if he can figure out what is wong with me. Then in mid-Novemeber, I go see a nuero for a CAT scan. No clue as to what the heck is wrong. And my head...I have this nagging little headache that goes along with the dizziness.

I don't mind getting old, but I mind falling apart.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

An October MeMe

31 Things You Could Care Less About

1. FIRST NAME? Kathleen. I know, Chloe totally fits me better. Chloe Suzanne.
2. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? Only half of the women in Ireland

3. WHEN DID YOU LAST CRY? This morning, I seem to do a lot of that lately
4. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? Actually, yes, It looks like an art student's. Unless I want to be able to deny signing it. Then it looks totally whack.


7. DO YOU HAVE A JOURNAL? Only since I was eight. I find it very interesting to "see" me at eight, at 11, at 15, at 33, at 40. I like me quite a lot.

9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? Oh yes - I am an adrenaline junkie. What good is doing stuff unless there is a realy real chance of killing yourself?

11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? I donl;t even OWn tie shoes!
12. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? I think I am, now that you mention it. Not physically strong, but emotionally.

13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR? Rocky Road. Like ther is any other kind.
14. SHOE SIZE? A petite seven unless they are very high and pointy; then an eight.

15. RED OR PINK? Red..a good lipstick red

17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? My son, before he went crazy, The memory of him as a little boy is sometimes the only way I can deal with him.
18. WHAT COLOR PANTS, SHIRT AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? jeans, white shite, white ballet flats. Nice and plain.

20. LAST THING YOU ATE? Tuna noodle casserole

22. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? Blue. Plain old 8 crayon blue
23. FAVORITE SMELL? Upsoming rainstorms.

25. THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE YOU ARE ATTRACTED TO? Eyes...becaause who wants to spend time with people who aren't home?

26. FAVORITE DRINK? Milk with ice cubes
27. FAVORITE SPORT? Scuba diving

28. ROLLING STONE OR BEATLES?. Beatles and no, I don;t believe for a minute that Paul beat his wife
29.THE FURTHEST YOU'VE BEEN FROM HOME? Europe or South America. A long way.

30. WHAT'S YOUR SPECIAL TALENT? I can charm the birds right out of the trees
31.WHERE WERE YOU BORN? California

Sunday, October 15, 2006

What on Earth is Wrong With Me?

I cannot get anything done.
My kitchen is a mess.
My office is a mess.
My library is a mess.
I literally cannot force myself to get anything done. Started, yes. Done? No. I totally lose interest and steam. About all I manage is my physical therapy. And I cry, oh, about 5 hours a day. I must be depressed.

My front room is still piled with boxes and boxes of stuff we took with us (to sell on ebay) from the coffee shop.
Ebay is not the "easy and fun " way to make money. You do however, get to meet extremely picky and difficult people you are not related to.

Maybe I'll strip my bed and vacuum upstairs. That sounds like fun.

Monday, September 25, 2006

And odd and personal at your own risk

The father of my children is dead.

I was married to Jack for seven years. I met him shortly after I moved to LA (introduced to him by a friend at my workplace) and I lived with him for a year before we got married. He had been in Vietnam for three tours of duty as a door gunner and was, like me, a teacher.

When we met, I think we were both ready to get married. HE was funny and cheerful and outgoing.....and I fell instantly in love. THIS man was like the flip side to my personality. He had grown up in the LA area and had tons of friends. I loved to have people over. He loved to play war games, complete with little lead soldiers with his brothers, with whom he was very close.

His brother's wife was my best friend and taught at my school, so we saw each other all the time. I felt as if I had fallen into the perfect family for me...close, funny, interesting. Sure, Harry had lived in his bedroom for seven years, but he had finally gotten a job as a probation officer. Richard was working for Boeing. Eddie was a teacher, Bonnie worked in a everyone was employed at responsible jobs and they were CLOSE. We spent every weekend with some or all of the family group. Every Sunday, we drove over to spend some time with his mother.

However, teaching was hard for Jack. (It was hard for me to get used to the way things were done in LA but I was HAPPY there; but I have been happy in my classsroom about 99% of the time for the last 36 years. I am lucky that way.)

Jack battled his way into the classroom. I don't know if it wasn't what he wanted to do or where he wanted to work...I just know that his assignment was much more difficult and demanding than mine was. It HAD to be, since he was unhappy and I wasn't. And somehow, that made my career not count.

I have always said that had we waited until Christmas to get married, instead of Thanksgiving, I wouldn't have. In the year that we lived together he became less fun, more difficult and less interested in us as a couple. I pegged it down as just first year is brutal. Then the second year was worse and by the time we had been married seven years, he was a stranger.

I did manage to get and stay pregnant and 9 months and one week after we married, we had a son, I remember so clearly how amazed he was; how delighted and in absolute wonder with our boy.

I try to hang on to that moment; keep THAT voice in my head to crowd out other words and other tones that later became commonplace.

When our son was six months old, I got pregnant again. Wow, was THAT not in his plan. I miscarried and was unhappy; I don't know how he felt, since by that time, we rarely talked.

Shortly after that, I found a lump in my breast about the size of an apricot. The surgeon CALLED MY SCHOOL and had me go IMMEDIATELY to his office. He had called Jack, so we got there arout the same time. I am smart enough to know that your surgeon doesn't call you in the middle of the day for good news. The surgery was planned for TWO days later. I was to get to the hospital at 5 am; well, that was going to be a problem for Jack. Ben couldn't get to the day care until 6, so we would have to change that and then of course, I would have to pick him up by 6 PM but by heck, he would be home as soon as possible.

My surgeon FLIPPED OUT. I would so be at the hospital and Jack could take the baby to the sitter and no, I would not be driving for a week, so buddy, that baby and his care would be in your hands.

So that night, I was sobbing --I mean SOBBING my eyes out---and he came in and flatly told me that I had nothing to cry about. If I had cancer and was going to die, HE would be stuck with Ben.

That was pretty much when my marriage was over. I understand that people do a say odd things when terrible things are happening, but this was WAY out of what was acceptable to me.
So I had the surgery, they took a giant chunk out of me and I took two days off work, including the surgery day. It was NOT cancer, so there was no reason for me to lollygag around the house until I got the drains and stitches out.

Then when Ben was about 2, we went to Utah to see my sister at Christmas. Jack was loaded the entire time and stepped out of the motor home, tearing the tendon right off his knee. He had surgery that night and then spend 9 months recouperating. He mainly smoked pot, ate take-out and layed around. He refused to go to physical therapy. It was all I could do to get him to even go to his regular doctor's apointments. He was SO difficult, that I went to my doctor and got Valium (when long ago, was as easy to get as aspirin) and ground it up into his food. That made living with him at least bearable.

When our son was 2 1/2 , I got pregnant again. He was less than pleased and told me that either I "do something" or I could forget about any support from him. Well, I did do something; I had my baby girl. He quit talking to me. I mean, HE QUIT TALKING TO ME. When I found out that the baby was a girl, I called his school...just to leave a note in his box..DO NOT disturb him in class. He came home livid and directed me to NEVER call him at work again.

He never asked me what I was planning to name my daughter and the day I went into labor, I woke him up to ask him to take me to the hospital. He told me that when he had told me I could forget about any support from him, HE MEANT IT. So I packed up my toddler and my labor pains and drove my own self to the hospital. I called my sister in law to come get my toddler and labored for 37 hours. I have looooong, easy labors. I talk on the phone, watch TV, wander out to the waiting room and steal all the magazines. After 37 hours, I decided to go ahead and have a C-section, so the doctors, the nurses and I welcomed my perfect little girl into the world. When she was 3 hours old, my sister in law brought my son to the hospital to see his baby and name her.

My husband DID call and told me he would pick me up when I was released. So on my release day, I got all ready and waited. And waited. AND waited. After about 8 hours of waiting, I found some stranger in the waiting room, had him check me out and drive me over to my waiting car. I drove over to my SIL's house, picked up my son and drove home. My husband? Oh, he forgot.
But that weekend, he did drive me home to my parents house, about 200 miles north of LA. We stayed there six weeks, until my maternity leave ran out. He wouldn't come get me, so my SIL came and got me so I could start work on Monday. (I had arranged for daycare before the baby was born).

So there was my life. To beautiful children, a great job, wonderful friends and a husband who would say two or three words a month to me. If that.

So of course, divorce was looming on the horizon. It was inevitible. Even though we lived in the same house until Lisi was 2, we didn't live together. I didn't know anything about his life or his days or his friends. He left every morning at 4:30 and returned home around 8:30, so he was pretty well non-existant as a father. For a while, we did go visit his mother on Sundays...he could go to the back of the house and get loaded with his brothers and I could sit in the front room with his mother and watch QVC and keep the kids out of the back of the house. In fact, in 7 years, I don't remember his mother offering me a bite of food. I do remember her having ritz crackers and Hawaiian punch for the kids.

So we divorce; I get everything, including the house. He gives me everything I ask for, except agreeing to go to couseling. He tells me that he already knows what he is doing wrong and it would be a waste of time to sit in a room and have it told to him again.

Had I listened to what Jack actually said, I would have figured a lot of stuff out years earlier, but I was translating it with unsfunction ears, instead of actually LISTENING to the words he was saying. Two totally different languages.

I had spent about a year packing everything in boxes and made arrangements to have a moving truck to move me back to my home town, where I had gotten a job. (Something Jack told me WAS IMPOSSIBLE. No one would hire me.)

So one morning, he left for work at 4:30 and the truck pulled up at 5:00 and by 9:00 the house was empty. I left him the stove and fridge, a pot, a pan and a place setting of dishes and silverware and no note. I figured he would know I was gone.

It was actually his idea that I move back to my hometown; my folks were in their early 70's and very spry, so we both thought they would be able to help me with the kids. He was right; both children were and are close to my parents...parobably closer than I am.

So ten years go by and Jack faithfully pays child support and faithfully visits every other weekend. I work and spend time with the kids; no dating because really? I am just not up for another Jack. I had loved him once and look at what happened to that. Not something I wanted to experience again in my lifetime.

When Ben turned 13, he moved in with Jack. I am still a believer that boys cannot learn how to be men from their mothers. Ben needed to spend time with Jack because I could possibly be wrong about him...I mean it COULD have been me.

So I sent my son, whom I loved more than life itself, off to live with his father. When he packed up his stuff, he was so HAPPY and I am sure that he thought that there would be a lot of bonding and good stuff out of this experience.

Lisi and I lived together and I was basically a ballet mom. We had a nice quiet clean house; Jack came to visit every other weekend, so other than Ben not living with me, it was about the same. The one thing about the visitation was that Ben would still go with Jack and Lisi, because I felt that THEIR relationship was way more important than the two of us spending time together. That was a right call, since that was the relationship that needed fostering then and needs fostering now.

But then I met Mike in 1997; we married in June of 1998 and all hell broke loose.

I guess if Mike had been unsuccessful and we were living in a hut, Jack would have been able to handle it. Unfortunately, Mike is very alpha male and successful. (However, success doesn't just rain down from the requires A LOT OF WORK. A LOT. ALL THE TIME). And 100% of his success is done stone cold sober.

So the weekend that Jack met Mike was doomed. Lisi had decided to use our last name in school (screaming, tears, ugly words BUT NOT TO ME. He would get Lisi alone in the car and go at her. Unfortunately, Ben was there, too. Ugly is too kind of a word to use.)

Then Jack gets mad at Ben in the middle of night and throws him out of the house. Ben is across the street, calling me from the neighbors house and Jack is bagging his belongings in black trash bags and tossing them out the window. Mike and I drive down to get Ben in the middle of the night, pick up all of his bagged belongings and take him home.

So then there is bad blood between me and Jack, Jack and Ben, Jack and Mike....the only thing that works is the dynamic in MY house.

Then Ben starts trying to killl himself, starting in his junior year. It is a nightmare that Jack chooses to be both uninvolved in (I spend hours waiting at hospitals while an adolescent unit is located) and hours driving to the adolescent unit for famiy meetings. I'm pretty sure that this is not a family dynamic problem; I think Ben is possibly schziophrenic and probably autistic...something that we find out for sure about 2 years later. In the meantime, Jack uses the "family counseling" times to go off on the little social worker...making a conference call that will probably go down in that particular social workers store of whack family dynamics. He is so loud and angry that Ben can hear every ugly word in the hallway. It is, all of it, my fault, in very ugly detail. ANd I get a glimmer than maybe, just maybe there is something wrong with Jack. One social worker does mention that he proabably needs counseling, since it is difficult to discover that one's child is mentally ill....after Jack's tirade, I am pretty sure that the social worker found another job doing something else BESIDES dealing with people.

That's when the kids decide that this will be the last holiday they spend with Jack. They make the announcement at Thanksgiving dinner and find themselves on the outside (obviously I've put this idea in their heads)....and then when they follow thru at Christmas (we go to the Grand Canyon for Christmas...something Ben has always wanted to do)...that is when they are pretty well disowned by Jack and his family.

When Ben turns 18, we have to go back to court to change visitation and child support, which for some reason makes Jack crazy. Really crazy. We spend TWELVE hours with the mediator, trying to hammer out what is essentially the very same visiatation agreement, except without Ben and I now want either Easter or Christmas, or at least switch off every other year. Jack goes ballistic to the point that the mediator calls in a security guy to sit with us.

Again, had I recognized how sick and unfunctional he was, I would have handled things differently. By that time, 2000, Jack had been using drugs for 30 years, every hour that he was not at work. He had taken two years off from teaching and used up his retirement...I now think he had had a series of heart attacks and figured he had a short time to live. The drugs plus what I believe was an undiagnosed case of schziophrenia and high functioning autism, along with being raised by an unfunctional family, with a chronically depressed and possibly schziophrenic mother and truck driving, alcoholic, abusive father all sort of avalanched down on him.

He saw the kids that weekend and it appeared that all was peachy...except that he was really disgusted with me. He wrote and mailed about 10 increasingly ugly letters to me that weekend...I saved them for years and just shredded them last week. The person he discribed wasn;t me, but it certainly reflected who he thought I was and it wasn;t an very attractive reflection, I re-read those letters for years, trying to see if maybe he WAS right.....and then I decided that he was sick and angry and they weren't wods I ever wanted my kids to read. So I shredded them.

So that weekend, after visiting with the kids, he drove down to LA, saw his mother on Sunday, went to work on Monday and during the morning break at his high school, got into his car and drove away. He called the school the next day, asked for the rest of the week off for "personal reasons".

Two weeks later, the police called me to see if I knew where he was. He had left a suicide note in his house and no one knew where he was. I talked to his brother, Richard and he told me that Jack was so smart that if he had committed suicide, he was smart enought to have done it in such a way that his body would never be found. (Oh, I married into a GREAT family.)

Of course, this put us all in a crazy spin and we drove down to LA to clean out his house...which was a sty. (That is one sign of untreated schziophenia). We still have all of his belongings in a storeroom, since 2000. That's 6 years.

Where he WAS was somewhere in LA, working (I think) at the VA hospital. His family may not have known WHERE he was, but they did see him every week. My kids called their grandmother everyweek to see if she had gotten a call or maybe a card from him. Anything to give them a little hope that he was alive. Nope, she hadn't gotten a call OR a card. She didn't bother letting them know that she saw him every week.

Then in 2002, Grandma dies. The kids get a box in the mail with things she has left them. but no phone call from the family. In 2004, Richard dies and Lisi gets a postcard. Jack does call and tell the kids that he will come get them, take them to LA to the funeral and then bring them back. Uh, no. Then Eddie calls and tells them the same thing. Uh, no. So we call Richard's widow, who tells them when and where Richard will be buried but that she does not want me there; I must park outside of the cememtary so NO ONE has to see me. We drive down to Inglewood 93 hours); Ben gets out, offers his condolances to Richard's widow and sees Jack, who immediately goes beserk, because how dare he come when Jack had forbidden him to show up. Ben walks out of that arguement, walks up the hill, gets in the car and we drive away. Lisi never even gets out of the car; in fact she is lying on the back seat and never even looks up.

And that was the last we heard of Jack. Lisi would send him letters and pictures, but they would always be returned. Once, she sent him photos from a winter formal and they were returned from the Post Office here; he had had all his mail sent to our post office in care of general delivery. So there for a while, we thought maybe he WAS here and was watching over the kids from a distance.

What I think he was doing was living with his brother in his mother's house and probably working under Harry's social security number, so he wouldn't have to pay child support.

So one day, in October of 2006, I am digging around the internet and i find his mother's death information and where she is buried and I type in Jack';s information AND HE IS DEAD. Has been dead for six months. I call my sister inlaw, who doesn;t know ANYTHING...whcih means that Jack's death was so....immaterial that his brother had not even mentioned it to Sarah.

Tia calls Eddie for the information and to make a vewry long story short, Lisi and I go to the LA County Cororner;s office where she picks up his personal effects in a little manilla envelope. (Which means he was not living in his car.) The cororner had told me he had had a heart attack, but the sticker on the envelope says suicide, which upsets us all.

What I think happened was that he planned on killing himself that morning, overdosed and had a heart attack. The "passerby" who found him was Harry, who called it in from the corner or a pay phone. Then after Jack and his car had been removed and Harry was called to identify Jack. he told them that Jack had been a vet, his prints were on file and the VA would bury him. And that was the last contact the family had.

It's a sad story all around. He could have been helped. He had children who did love him. We have little rentals that we would have gladly let him live in, in exchange for some yardwork or something. We've done as much for total strangers who have needed help. Mike would have done as much for Jack.

So we all have a lot of anger, which Mike doesn't get. He is the kind where today is a brand new day...yesterday is over.The rest of us over think stuff and feel bad and beat ourselves up with "if

If only we had know he was so sick. Maybe we could have done something.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Payday and running a business

We have a little bitty place on the beach, where we go EVERY weekend. I get the timecards on Friday morning about 6 am (I go in expressly AT 6AM to do payroll and I am NOT a 6 AM person) and we pay people around 7 am, get stuff started and then we leave. That way, if you are truly just "running late" you can still make it in in time to get paid.

Now, having worked for about 40 years, I know that it is VERY important to call in if you are not going to be at work on any given day. It is even MORE important if the day you are taking off is Friday, you get paid at 7 am and the person PAYING you leaves town by 8:30.

Now some of the people who work for us have a tough time making it to work. The common excuse is that they
A) have no alarm clock or
B) the alarm didn't go off
C) they thought it was the weekend

And just because I like to keep track of these things, 80% of the absences are on Mondays and 10% of the absences are on Fridays.

I've even had guy's MOTHERS call to tell me that Baby Boy isn;t going to make it in today....something I figured out, oh, around 6:15. Mama usually calls around 10:30 or so.

Now in my line of work, if you don't make it to the trust office to pick up your check, you are SOL until it opens up the next day. And if it a Friday payday, you can just wait until Monday. ANd if Monday is a holiday, well, there is always Tuesday. The check is just didn't manage to make it in during the trust office hours.

That's the way it works here. I do call to wake guys up but they usually have their phones off. That's understandable, since they've been up all night playing XBox or something. Except I PAY FOR THE PHONE.

So it sorta kinda bothers me that despite my dozen voice mails, telling them I will be on the freeway by 8:30, they manage to slumber on. (And we've been doing it this way for, oh...the last 35 years, so it should come as no surprise. To anyone.) Because they have all been there on Friday and listened to me rant and rave about guys who think I am going to wait all day for them. For all I know, they are in jail or prison or drunk in a gutter. And since they won't answer the phone, there is no way for me to know what is going on.

Then, oh, around 10:30..just about the time I am unloading the groceries at the beach, I will get these frantic phone calls, telling me that it is payday and I AM NOT THERE. No, silly boy, I'm not. I was there at 6 AM.

But they need some money for the weekend; what are they going to do? I understand this, which is why I was there at 6 AM. However, I guess it didn't dawn on them that after a dozen phone calls, I figured they were rolling in dough and could wait until we come back on Monday.

Oh, they go crazy on me; yelling and screaming...but since I am at the beach and they are getting to work on a bicycle, I'm not real worried that they are coming to beat me to a pulp. It's a 2 hour drive, so I feel pretty safe.

And yes, I guess I could pay them every Thursday or I could do like my Mom did; she paid them every other Monday so they couldn't drink their checks up. But Friday is convienent for ME, so that's the way we do it.

At my workplace, there isn't a special payday so that we can go shopping for Christmas...if Christmas is on a Monday and it would sure be handy if they paid us on the Friday before...THEY DON'T CARE.

Payday is the last day of the month and that is the way it is. If the last day is on the weekend, well, there is always Monday. And if for some reason I can't make it in on Monday....well, there IS the rest of the week. In fact, there is the entire rest of the month. But they have no real desire to jump in a car, race down to the office and fish out MY check.

So there is my little rant. I think these guys are the ones we had in school and it was truly a surprise that they even knew what DAY it was, much less what why should it surprise me that setting an alarm clock on the one day of the week that it matters is beyond them.

San Francisco, the Harlot and my best friend, Marji

I met Marji when I was 13 and we have been best friends since, and I don't bandy the word friend about lightly. I have lots of "gals I work with" and "gals I went to school with". I am very picky about who I introduce as "my friend" since she is the kind of person I don;t mind being thought of together with. In my opinion, you pretty much can tell the kind of person a person is by the kinds of people they consider thier friends.

I was the maid of her honor at her wedding, loved her mother (Mama Serpa), know her family AND family history which is long, complicated and interesting. I remember the first time her daughter B, met my son Boy-o. He was maybe a year old. "Can he talk?" "No" Can he walk?" "No" "Then what good is he? "Well, he keeps me pretty amused." "Hmmmm." And that pretty much sums up B....she asks direct questions and makes her decisions based on them.

The advent of email has been nothing short of a miracle, since we can post anything that comes into our heads and not have to carry on a real conversation while we wait for something interesting to pop up.

Back story on San Francisco, which my children used to cal Pan-Pan-Prisco, so that is what I usually call it, too. My parents met there during WWII and lived there for several years, before my Da decided that he wanted to be a farmer, which surprised my mother, since she had been born "in town". She quickly learned how to do farm stuff (of which there is a lot of to do and learn), to NEVER name animals (because you are going to eat them) and that spending $55 on a slip is silly when you need a new tractor.

Prior to becoming a farmer's wife, she had a whole drawer filled with $55 slips and cashmere sweaters, since she was, what was known in the circles she frequented as a "peach". Her hair and nails were always done and she was always exquisitely dressed in those great 40's style suits. She managed to wear stockings thru the entire war, standing in line for hours. In heels. After she married, DAD would stand in line for hours to bring home stocking for her. THAT'S the kind of woman she was.

I am sure it was a hard life for her and in my heart of hearts, I don't know that she ever got used to it. I remember her telling me that once upon a time she had ONE dress, since she only went to town once a week and that her suits and sweaters simply were not the kinds of things one wore to the market. She also had probably 45 pair of size 6 peep toes...again, not the kind of thing one would be wearing on a dairy farm.

So, when I was growing up, I envisioned myself moving to Pan-Pan-Prisco, living downtown and teaching. I would wear gorgeous clothes, very cute high heels and hats and go to the opera and ballet with my lifetime of season tickets. I never gave LA a thought, since I was going to THE CITY, since that was the center of all the culture in the county.

Well, I didn't.

I taught in small towns and in the inner city of LA. In fact I was on Vermont ad Slausson when the Rodney King verdict came down and the city was on fire. I mean ON FIRE. Cars were on fire; buildings were on fire; stores were on fire. It was one scary time.

The Popeye's Chicken across the street from my school WAS ON FIRE. Like in flames.
The Sears and Wards where I shopped? On fire.

I sat in my back yard on the river with the TV set on so I could figure out where the smoke was coming from. The sky was filled with helicopters. In Pan Pan Prisco, they might have earthquakes (LA did, too) but nobody BURNS the place down. Again, as a backstory, this just solidified the fact that THE CITY was far superior than LA.

So in the last 10 years I have been to THE CITY four times. Once on my honeymoon. I swore I would never go back--too many people. Then I went again, on business. Never again. Way too many people. (I stayed at the Fairmont and it was STILL not a good enough trade.) Then last spring, Boyo went with me (again on business).

We decided to drive downtown, in search of yarn shops. I had a yahoo map and everything. Unfortunately, it was quitting time and for every block of progress we made, about 50,000 people came pouring out of the buildings. I felt like Godzilla had attacked and we were the only ones who didn't know. Boy-o spotted a bunch of guys in matching shirts and wondered out loud if that was a gang (yeah, if you think guys who work for FED EX constitute a gang. )

That was funny until we got lost. Then nothing was funny until I found Van Ness (and it was a real true accident...I had no idea where we were) and got back to our hotel. You would have thought we had spent the late afternoon slaying dragons. We were panting ,we were so exhauted. We found a Barnes and Noble and thought we had found Nirvana. Forget Pan Pan Prisco. I was never going back again; nobody could make me and that was that. It was beyond that...I. Was. Not. Going. Back.


Then last weekend, Marji, B, Girlie and I drive to Pan Pan Prisco to stay at the Hyatt on Union Square (we had lunch on the 36th floor...and that is REALLY high). A girls-only roadtrip to shop a little, talk a lot and see Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.

But before we actually arrived, we made a quick yarn stop at YARN! in Oakland. Armed only with a map that Marji had made out (left turn here, right turn there). When we found YARN! you would have thought it was 1960 and we had run into Paul McCartney.

Boy o boy! They have beautiful stuff there. Gor-jus colors and it feels like melted cream cheese. And the staff couldn't be nicer.Girlie bought a handknitted, felted bag and promised to give it a good home. She bought yarn. I bought yarn. Marji and B of the sensitive to wool tribe found that VERY EXPENSIVE wool doesn't itch. In fact, the more expensive it is, the less itchy it is. So just guess what they did.

Marji and I went to Britex for buttons (they look like I killed a mastadon and then used a chop saw to whack his leg bones),the girls left for where ever college age girls go and then we left for Los Altos to see the Yarn Harlot. It was WAY farther out from Union Square than it looked like on the map. So we are driving around this tiny downtown, looking for the yarn store and whilst driving down a side street see about 400 women sitting in chairs and deduced that THAT was where we were going.

I have to tell you that Stephanie is a tiny, petite little hothouse flower who is funny not because she is trying to be funny. She is funny because she says the things we all are thinking...but she says them out loud.

She does important things with her life...more than "just knitting". She is able to bring those of us who knit together....and even if you are a knitter like I am (Team Flying Monkeys...I'm slow, and the rest of the Flying Monkeys are slower), you belong.

You speak the same language and make the same mistakes (some more than others), have the same mind set..."hmmm, how hard COULD it be? It's either knit or purl. I can do this" with no real concept that something could possibly be too hard. That's one of the things I like about knitters. We are fearless.

One of Stephanie's deeply held beliefs is that anyone who "doesn't like" knitting isn't doing it right. Marji and I were milling about and spotted the gal who was knitting a pair of Pirate Arrrrgyl socks. Stephanie was signing books and chatting. Margie mentioned that B, her 22 year old daughter had thought that "knitting was just not for her". Steph's hand stopped in mid-signiture and her head popped up in disbelief while Marji continued "until she saw these Arrrgly socks and changed her mind". You could actually see the Harlot take a breath and continue on, secure that life was as it should be.

All I really can say about this trip are four things.
1) If you can get to see the Harlot-go. We drove 5 hours THERE and it was worth every minute. 2) Marji and I can talk until we are hoarse. Not speechless, just hoarse.
3) I love the people that our daughters have become.
4) You can use exit 15 on the middle of the Bay Bridge to turn around and go back the other way. Just in case you find that you are on the wrong direction in the middle of the night. Just drive until you get to the Coast Guard place and turn around. just sayin'.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Harlot

Seriously, you need to see if if you have a chance. I drove for FIVE HOURS. To get there. Every minute was worth it. The Harlot was beyond hysterical. Then it took FIVE HOURS to get home the next day. So now I am tired. However, I do have some serious chisme about YARN! And a buncha other yarn shops.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Stalking the wild hyacinths

Monday was a GREAT day for me. I didn't hurt (something that totally drives my days anymore) so I suggested to Darling that we take a little drive over to the next teeny town over. There is a big slough/canal where there is always a bunch of people fishing but there are also wild hyacinths growing there. I'm talking about maybe 2-3 ACRES of 'em in several spots. LOTS. Gazillions. The canal meanders for about 40 miles, so I am talking about A. LOT. And I want some for the koi pond.

I grew up here and all of the canals are about the same. THey've been dug out with a "V" or a backhoe and about every half mile or so, there is a weir of sorts..mainly telephone poles sunk into the water so that you can cross over by foot. The water can get through but not anything really big (like bodies). The little hyacinths can get through and grow and get caught at the next bridge. So we pull over in the dirt and I climb down the riverbank...which I thought was maybe a 12 degree slant.(I hadn;t given this part a lot of thought.) It was more like 70 degrees, so in seconds, I was neck deep in these huge hyacinths. I had on shoes (I was raised in the muck is a straight road to lockjaw)...and except for the total surprise of how quickly I went sliding down the bank it was sorta fun.

So I start tossing these HUGE blooming plants up to Darling (we had brought a great big bucket with us), until it was jam packed. Tons of duckweed, too, so I got about a 5 gallon bucket filled with that, too.

Now comes the time foe me to get up this bank. I can't get up into the dry dirt by myself and I have only one functional arm, so I can't haul myself out with a rope. So Darling, totally gape mouthed, watches me start swimming thru this water that he has no idea how deep, if it has a current or undertow (it doesn't because I can see from my vantage point that it is just a slow moving canal). He is thinking I'm going to sucked under and I'm thinking that I sure hope that I can crawl up that partially submerged log to the bridge.

Which I do. He can't decide to be mad at me or glad I'm not stuck in some machinery. I however, haven't had so much fun in ages. I don't hurt (the water was pretty cold), I got HUGE plants and there are gazillions more. Plus, until I went away to college, I did this kind of thing all the time.

In a couple of weeks, I'm talking Girlie and her best friend into driving out and help me get more. This time, I'm taking a ladder and several big trash cans...because I have a 6,000 gallon koi pond and these are native to the climate hyacinths PLUS tons of duckweed. The blooming plants go in the filter; the rest in the pond.

THEN the next big project is to wrap the pond filter with chicken wire and fill it with moss so I can use loops of cottom rop to wick moisture out of the filter and end up with a moss wrapped, blooming filter cover, topped with hyacinths.

Photos to follow. Not real soon, but come they will.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Hummingbirds! We have Hummers!

We bought several really pretty feeders last week at an art show..pretty blown glass, with blown glass flowers that come out so I can wash the feeders when I refill them. The globes are clear glass with swirls of colors that are intensified with the red hummingbird food.

I hung them on the sunset side of the house,suspended on copper s-hooks, at different heights, hanging over a bed of the palest ivory moonlight nasturtiums, clumps of brilliant day and spider lillies. There are masses of hostas there, too, growing in the rich, damp soil, with mounds of white allysum and coleus filling in all available space. When the long slanting rays of the sunset hit the globes, I have a patio filled with a dazzling rainbow every evening.

I lived, once, in a house where a huge trumpet vine climbed in a tall elm. Each night, a flock of dozens of hummers would fly home to nest there; each morning, they would take flight in the early morning, the flock splitting in the sunrise to find the nectar from gardens all over town.

This morning, I had dozens...DOZENS...of hummers at my feeders. I was looking out the kitchen window and I had dozens of the tiny bodies, sipping at the feeders. I took my coffee and my book and sat out on the patio, just listening to the peaceful hummmm of the birds, along with the seagulls and doves and the sound of boats in the harbor.

Friday, August 18, 2006


Ever have a near-death experience?
I saw the Angel of Death once. He didn't look like John Travolta, so I didn't go.

Name an obvious quality you have?

What's the name of the song that's stuck in your head right now?
Somewhere Over the that Hawaiian guy on the Rice Krispie's commercial

Any celeb you would marry?
Nope. Too much drama and bad photos.

Name someone with the same birthday as you:
Jimi Hendrix.

Do you have a crush on someone?

Have you ever vandalized someone's private property?

Have you ever been in a fight?
Does a riot count?

Have you ever sung in front of a large audience?
Lots of times.

What's the first thing you notice about a member of the OPPOSITE sex?
That sparkle in their eyes that lets you know someone is home.

What do you usually order from Starbucks?
I've actually never had Starbucks. We own an independent espresso shop, so I try to frequent independents when I travel.

Have you ever hurt yourself on purpose?
Who hasn't?

Has anyone ever said you looked like a celebrity?
Yep...Ann Jillian.

Do you wear a watch?
I don't ever need to know what time it is.

Do you have anything pierced?
Just my ears...double pierced.

Do you have any tattoos?
I have one planned...

Do you like pain?
I just had a new shoulder put in. Pain, I am well aquainted with. IT HURTS.

Do you like to shop?
My idea of torture. I wish I could just think of something and have it teleported in.

What was the last thing you paid for with cash?
Daily special at Subway.

What was the last thing you paid for with a credit card?
I've sworn off credit cards.

Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone?

What is on your desktop background?
Beautiful blossoms from my garden

What is the background on your cell phone?
Background? You can have a background?.

Do you like redheads?
What's not to like?

Do you know any twins?
Dozens. All red-haired.

Do you have any weird relatives?
Isn't that the way they come?

What was the last movie you watched?
Does HBO's ROME count? I'm totally into it.

What was the last book you read?
The PAct by Jodi Picout

Did you or are you planning to go to college?
I did. Have an MA in Masth from UCLA and another one in Spanish from USC. That's enough chair sitting for me.

What is your favorite pair of pants that you own?
I have a pair from college that are so worn and so soft and still fit.

Do you like to party?

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Idaho, maybe. Or on Santibel, on the water. Or maybe Morro Bay. They have the best clam chowder.

LIttle update

Tough recovery from this shoulder surgery. Very tough.

I may need to go back in and have more work done...and I am still trying to wrap my brain around this. It hurt so much the first time, I' m not sure there are enough drugs IN THE UNIVERSE to dope me suffiencently to do this again.

However, I still really hurt. I have very little mobility in my shoulder, hence the idea that I need to go back and get more work done. The "work" is, of course, really ripping and tearing. The adhesions need to be torn unlike abdominal adhesions, where they go in and snip the webs of scar tissue, in my case, they would manipulate my shoulder under anesthesia. When means, once I am asleep, they'll yank the bejesus out of the joint, tearing up all the adhesions.

Yeah, I thought it sounded like fun, too.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Short post

Had my shoulder surgery a week ago. It REALLY hurts. I got my stitches out yesterday and am black and blue--really green and yellow by now. Highly attractive. I still can;t get real clothes on by myself; I just can't get my arm up high enough nor can I tweak it around to snap things in the back. The surgeon says I look good, though. Of course, I saw the walking wounded in his waiting room--they all looked like they had been hit by a truck. I might look good, but I think my charm button was broken at the hospital. I have my children in tears almost daily since I'm not in the mood to censor my words. I will probably win the WORST MOTHER OF THE CENTURY after this.

I am seeing a physical therapist three times a day...and HOLY MOLY, I do not understand how anyone could do that day after day. I know it is helping me, but I don;t know that I could deal with leaving my clients in tears after every visit.

It is very hot here--almost two weeks of 110 plus degree heat. It isn't cooling off at night and we are having rolling power outtages. It takes about 30 minutes for the house to heat up when the power goes out. Even the pool is hot, so that doesn't even help.

I'm still butter yellow afgan for the beach house. Despite it's VERY simple pattern (garter stitch border with a stockinette stitich body), I simply cannot manage to get the borders right. Multitudes of mistakes. I guess that adds to the handmade charm, since I'm not tinking them back.

Speaking of knitting, my best friend and I, along with our daughters (if mine is still speaking to me) will see the Yarn Harlot when she visits the Bay Area. It is a 5 hour drive, but hey! we haven't done a road trip for a long time. I hope I don't have to drag this afgan with me.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Things are...well, pretty much the same

First of all, it is REALLY HOT here! We have had over a week of +105 days, with many of them hitting 111. I won't have to go to hell, because I already LIVE here. My son calls this "Satan's Summer" and it has only just begun. Last summer was very hot also--I think we had 20 or 30 days of +110 weather. When it is so hot, even the pool is no fun and since we mainly work construction, Darling is out in it all day...although they start at 5 am now and finish up at 1:30. We try to give the guys a 10 minute water and salt break each hour or they drop in their tracks. We are lucky that we do a lot of foundation work, so they are usually underneath houses, where at least it is cooler.

We work on old least "old" for California. Most of the homes we work on are late 1800's-1940; nothing newer. Many of these homes were built on just a row of bricks, just inches from the dirt, with no crawl space. So when we do foundation work, it is really just sending a skinny guy in under the house with a little shovel and having him dig out the dirt and put it in a flat pan. The outside guy pulls the pan out with a rope, dumps it in a wheelbarrow and then wheels it to a trailer. Once the outside guy can fit in under the house, they take turns. It is pretty mindless work, but at least it is cool.

After all the digging is done, the house is jacked up and leveled and forms are built around the jacks so they can be cemented into place. Then a foundation wall is poured around the perimeter and extra support is built and cement poured under the house. It isn't brain surgery but it is labor intensive and therefore very expensive. Usually people are having foundation work done so they can sell the house; without a proper foundation, the buyers can't get a mortgage.

I've gotten approval for my surgery but my surgeon is out of the coutry doing a Doctors Without Borders thing...which is fine and dandy but I wish I had gotten fixed before he left. It's only been since MARCH.
I am having trouble with managing the pain right now; I think it is because it is so hot and then the drugs make me hotter. Last night was the worst. I just couldn;t cool off, so decided not to take anything. Well, what I found out was that it REALLY hurts with no drugs at all. I go in today to my primary and will see if there is something else I can take/do. It is the chronic pain part that is making me so crazy; if there was on end to it, I could handle it. Like having a doesn't go on for four or five months. Sure, it is intense, but it is relatively short term.
Even a broken bone gets set and heals. This however just gets worse as the weeks go by.

I'm still working on my butter yellow afgan for the beach is the perfect color for all of the blues in there. I had about 45 inches done and decided to rip it all out. I didn;t like the basketweave pattern (my favorite, just not for this) AND I was working with too small needles, so it was not soft and fluffy enough for me. My husband can't understand how I can just abandon it partway, rip it all out and restart. When I tell him it's just not right, he doesn;t get it...I'm making up the pattern, so what could possibly be "not right"?

Progress on the hotel is at a standstill. We are waiting for the elevator to be shipped from Connecticut. Then next year, we'll put in the heating and air what expense, I have no idea. Then pretty much all that needs to be done is painting the lobby, finshing the skylight and carpeting my bedroom. The kitchen just needs counters and appliances and it will be done. So 90 days of work.

This house will go on the market next spring when everything is in bloom. I'll get the kitchen garden planted so it looks good and of course, clean out the koi pond, which is a monumental task.

It has to be drained and I use the water to irrigate all the flower beds and lawns. The wildlife all has to be caught and put in tubs. I pressure wash it and work at filling and siphoning the ooky water until it is pretty clean. Then I treat the 50 or so gallons of leftover water with algae stuff and refill it. Before I put the fish in, I dump in 100 pounds of rock salt and turn on the waterfall, which clears the water up for two or three months. Then in go the fish. I have about 300 BIG goldfish, 30 koi and then the assorted turtles and frogs, so there is quite a lot of activity to watch.

I've got the cleaning down to a science, since I do it twice a year. But that's not until fall and then again in the spring. This year, I'm putting netting over the pond to keep leaves out; then once a week, I clear the net of all the leaves and put them in the composter. I use the pond water to keep it moist and of course, dump in all the coffe grounds I can get my hands on.

We've been attacked by little black ants in the heat...they are looking for water, so I have a sink full every morning. I called the bug guy the other day and he came by and sprayed the heck out of the house, the foundation and all the gardens.

When I retire, I want a little house with no yard.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Morphine does silly things to my brain

It has been thirteen weeks since I tore my rotator cuff.
It hurts.
It really hurts.
It hurts even when I sit in the hot tub and take drugs.
So tonight, I decided that I needed to amputate it. Get a hook. Or one of those claw things. Or a spike. Or all three.
And what will my mother say, when she finds out I've lost my entire right arm at the shoulder?

"Well, there's seven pounds you'll never have to lose again!"

Friday, June 09, 2006

Girlie Graduates Tonight

High school has been such a....challange? Imposition? Annoyance? At any rate, her grades were about on par of cleaning her closet! And it wasn't that she didn't enjoy school; it's just that the social aspect of it far outweighed the academic part. This semester, there was sincere doubt that she would graduate. However, she wheeled and dealed with her teachers, wrote essays like mad, did extra credit work and manipulated her way out of the hole she had dug single handedly.

Her photo was in the yearbook three times besides her senior photo--Girlie with her VW and truck; Girlie pouring coffee; Girlie lolling in front of her sign. And the kids who signed her yearbook? Really nice, decent comments.

She has nice friends, who talk about how unbelieveable square they are (no drinking, no drugs, no abortions) and come over to visit. She was named "Most Likely to Become a Politician"

She's driving the Mercedes convertible tonight because she doesn't drink (plus it is a cool ride).

She told me that there were FIFTY kids who didn't have enough credits to walk tonight (thank goodness it wasn't fifty-one)-- they won;t be allowed to participate in the Sober Grad night or anything--which is sad, because these aren't kids who dropped out--they just didn't anticipate today coming so fast after September.

She is wearing a net chiffon gored skirt--ivory with black embroidery, black cashmere twinset and coral sling-backs. She looks SO grownup. It is hard to believe that my little baby who shooed me of the her kinder room is graduating.

She has a party after and parties tomorrow; then on Sunday, she and some friends are driving over to the beach house to lounge around before work starts for all of them on Tuesday.

I am armed with a camera a fresh batteries and an empty memory card. Photos to follow.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Major Rotator Cuff Whine

I hurt my shoulder on March 15. I am scheduled to see a surgeon on JUNE 15.
Now none of this is anyone's fault...I should have gone to my own doctor, had an MRI done that day and then seen a surgeon that week and by now, I would be back at work.

Instead, I went to the Worker's Compl clinic and despite the horrendous payments Worker's Comp squeezes out of all businesses, since of course, EVERYONE had to carry the insurance, they are incredibly slow. After all, it is an insurance company's JOB to make money, not fix people.

First, I 'rested" it for three weeks. Still very painful.
Then I wore a sling to work for three weeks. Incredibly painful.

Then I had an MRI, which showed I had shredded the tendon and all of the ligaments. NOW that they have hard evidence, I can't work and they put in for authorization to see a surgeon.
The first doctor they request isn't on the list. That took a couple of weeks. (Don't these peole have COMPUTERS?)

Then the gal at the clinic who does all of this stuff goes on vacation for two weeks. Then my case worker goes on vacation for two weeks. THEN the surgeon goes on vacation for two weeks.

In the meantime, I am in so much pain, I don't have words to describe it. On a scale of 1-10, it is about a 15. (Right now this minute? About a 25).

Vicodin doesn't help. Darvocet doesn't help. Last Sunday, I hit the wall and called the ER--and while they would see me, all they could do was give me some Demerol and knock me out for a day. Darling figured he could knowk me out with what we already have and not have to spend the day in the ER wating roon, so we passed on that.

So today, Wednesday, I go in for more pain meds (I'm not scheduled to see my primary for 3 weeks). He gives me some Lidocaine patches to try out and prescribes a codeine based drug. I'm allergic to anaphalactic shock allergic. The pharmacy catches it and I call the clinic for something else. I'm prescribed ANOTHER codeine based painkiller. The pharmacy again catches it and aks my husband, who is there, since if it just makes me hive-y, mabe I can get a benadryl shot and be fine. However, since I'm so allergic to codeine, that won't work. Husband goes to clinic for a THIRD perscription. Now, they are very nice and all, but by now it will be tomorrow when I get this patch for the pain, which is tremendous.

It is eye-bugging tremendous.
It is worse than having a baby and has gone one for 90 days.
My skin is so sore, I can't stand to be touched.
I can't sleep, can't think, can't DO anything.

Then tonight, around midnight, I roll over on my arm and rip out more of what ever is left, which wakes me up in a total panic. Imagine, out of dead sleep, some random thug comes in whacks you really hard with a titanium roofing hammer and then, before you draw a pain wracked breath, grabs your arm and tries to wrench it out of it's socket, while at the same time twisting it off.'s not exactly like that.Instead of a thug, substitute an 800 pound gorilla. With a titanium roofing hammer and a penchant for twisting arms off.

That sorta sums it up.

Darling took me to the ER this morning, where my blood pressure was 157/115. The nurse wanted to know what I was taking for my high blood pressure and I told her that I hurt and didn't HAVE high blood pressure. Once they shot me up with morphine, my BP went right back down to where it always is.
I'm no fan of morphine but it sure worked for me today.

June 12 Update
I'm still no morphine fan, but it keeps the pain down to a tolerable level, mainly because I sleep all day. Today (Monday), I'm going to have Jennifer wake me up when she leaves so I can work on my books. I am too goofy right now to do it. I'll be better later.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

I have a love affair with color

I think (really) that I can sort thisg out in my life with color and furniture placement. Sort of a feng suhui metaphor for life.
I have a little expando-satchel I keep all the tear sheets for this projects. Then I have another one where I keep all of the DOUBLE paint chips in. In yet a third one, I have torn hundreds of thousands of dollars of decoragating magazines up for colors schemes and furniture plave ment.
It is sertainlly keeps me entertained!
I love looking for fabric. Of course, I have a lot of fabric to look for, so I always carry the photos of the hotel project.

I have found the most creative and friendly people doing this. Oh, I know part of it is that I'm spending money but most of it is that wnat you to really be happy with your choices. I have this great dark olive sage chinnille to recover the couch. It is almost like the old dog like fake fur, gut it is so soft and melting. I know I'll love it. ANd I'm working on cross stitchpillows with lux fringe too. And then a great forest green velvet for the cushion on the heath,,,and the welting will be that tapestry I getting all of my color from. The pillow will be slightly over sized a bit smoochshie.
Because of the bookshelves and the crime scene redof the walls, there won't be any thing much except most of my gorgreous large framed paintings will be in my bedroom (tow above the bed and one someplace else.

ANd that is it for tonight. My head is too tired to upload the pictures.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Guest bath and front bedroom

This is one of the larger hotel rooms and has six patio slider sized doors, 14 foot ceilings and a sliced crner, overlooking Douty Street. Right now, it is painted almost the same yellow as my kitchen (a little sunnier, but still on the maize side of yellow) . This bedroom and bath were ajoining spaces and this bath was probably the FIRST indoor bathroom in the county. Before plumbing, there was a back staircase and an

outhouse out where the parking lot is now. When water lines were put in, the plumber just whacked into the window casing to put in the water lines. WE think that this bathroom was a room with a toilet, basin, tub and bed in the beginning. The very most interesting this about this hotel is that most of the rooms were intereconnecting. You could rent one, two, three or four rooms, according to your immediate needs and number of family members.

Cooking wasn't necessary, since Harry's Cafe was right downstairs and the STAR CAFE was only a block away. (Harry's is long gone, but we eat at the STAR CAFE about once a week. Good, plain and fast.)

The floor is in (hardwood from Stratford school) and the woodwork has all been redone, so now I have to figure what to do with the room.

In theory, it's Lisi's/Guest room but in real life, it will be my sewing room.
We both are plumb sick of quilts, no matter how charming they are, so she and I are thinking of a lighter Paris apartment look. The last three houses we've lived in have been heavy on quilts and we want this to have a European look. The trend around here is to call it "Olde Worlde" and is usually seen in brand new tract houses. I want to get the old look by using old stuff.

Here is the tapestry that is our focus fabric...where we are getting all of our colors: it's a pretty common tapestry called MAGELEAN'S QUEST and has alot of gold and maize, burgandy, purple, crimson, pale maize, olive and sage greens and about a half dozen shades of chocolate, as well a a really pretty ocean storm blue.

I totally fell in love with the fabric, partly because of the gorgeous colors and partly because it went so well with my collection of antique globes. I bought a yard and made a pillow out of it so Icould see if I REALLY liked it in the long run. That was 7 years ago and I still like it.

However, I'm not using the fabric itself much. It will be the piping on the kitchen stool cushions and I'll use it on the European styled sushion on the fireplace heath (rectangular, over stuffed and floppy) piped with the flat tri colred tassel trim on that particular pillow. I want the tapestry to peek out in every room but only in the teeniest bits so there are no big arrows pointing at it saying "She didn't think it up by herself! Here's what she used!"

So these next bunches of photos are tearsheets...what we want is a nice bedrom with two armoires (one for Lisi's things and one for my sewing.) Of course, she needs a sitting areas to read and a comfy bed.

We've actually designed her bed ourselves: it will be a sturdy box, with finished openings for baskets and a lift up area under the matteress for for sleeping bags. heIt is going to be a high bed so the dogs can;t get up on the spread. (When the kids were little, I had a high bed so they would sleep in their own beds. Lisi would get Ben to crank her up to get on and Ben would take a running start and make a flying leap. I think I never slept by myself for about 10 years.)

The comforter will be a down coverlet with something really luxe as a duvet cover.
Remember, these ideas are just the seeds!
I have a footboard in this shape and a different head board like the first one that we'll strip and wash with a golden glaze. Lisi and I want the bed built on a 14 inch high box, so she can put wicket boxes under the bed for her shoes. We'll put storage in the center of the bed box for sleeping bags. She wants a soft layered look with a minimum of flowers.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Dining Room, 2006

Here is a typical construction sight...part way done with junk from other rooms piled up!
The dining room was originally the managers apartment. There is a little anteroom right before you come to that really gorgeous wood detailing. The pink is just a lighter colorway of the crime scene red in the lilbrary.
Sometimes I really like it becasue it is, after all, the perfect color pink to go with the library. But then there are days when I can;t stand it and it is all I can do to NOT fall to my knees sobbing. Lately, I'm liking it better each time I go in. Lucky for me, because really? Mike would redo it if I REALLY hated it. I think it must just be some weird hormonal thing.
On ocasion, I think it would be pretty if I striped it with just a satin glaze, but then that would mean ME getting the square out and doing all the taping and math and most likely having it be such a subtle change that not one person on the face of the earth would notice it. So then I would be faced with
A) realizing that you can over inflate in importance of very small details
B)having to smother all of my guests who don't noticed the very subtle striping
So the striping is just not worth it.

This detail will be replicated in the doorway leading into the library and if you notice, the wood work is really dark and red. THAT was in 2003. We had finished every pea pickin piece of woodwork, laquered it and it was just too dark and red. It was too thick looking and you lost all the detail.
Didn't like it so WE STRIPPED IT ALL. ( Ya think we're just a LITTLE OCD here?)

So here it is, all stripped again to the bare wood with the graining starting all over in the last photo.

The ceiling has been "picture framed" with running plaster molding and I'm looking for a 48 inch period chandelier to replace that flurescent tube. Did you know there is a formula to figure out how large your light fixture needs to be? Add the diminsions of two walls and that tells you how large the fixture will need to be...any smaller, it will look dinky and any larger, the light will over power your space. I've even thought about putting in two or three matching lights, but then i'd have to redo the medallion in the center of the ceiling.

This china cabinet is too shabby chic for me, but I like the arched door and the graceful legs. I already have two china cabinets (one for the anteroom and one for the dining room) but the room is so large that we may end up building a hutch in. There is only one window in that room and I think we could put another on in and build a china cabinet in on the far end of the room. It certainly would balnace it out. Fuuny thing about Victorians; they build EVERYTHING asymmetrically. Oddly placed windows and awkwardly placed doors. Drives me crazy. I like things to be balanced and symmetical and matching. So there is always something that just makes me itch in this old building. Not that i don;t love it--I'm just saying that those Victorians needed to using a square and pair things up a little bit more.


Right now, June 2006, the kitchen is ALMOST done. It needs appliances and countertops, plus the finish painting...which SOUNDS like a lot but is only a couple of weeks of work

When we started the remodel job, the kitchen was just a bedroom. I personally knocked the doorway in the wall in with a sledgehammer. ME! (Then that was it as far as physical labor. Mike wants the stuff to work, LOL.)

Then, in an attempt to salvage to salvage the original plaster, we screwed in about about a million plaster washers. These light weight screws attached the old plaster to the original lathe. Then we had real plaster guys who troweled on real plaster to replicate the look, texture...even the temperature of the origianal wall treatment. Mike knows this guy, Dave, in Fresno who is just an artist with plaster. He loves his work and you can tell. When he works, I usually try to fix a good lunch (like tamales) and take it over. You know how real artists make their work look effortless? That's Dave. And just in case you've never run inot real craftsmen...they laugh and sing and ENJOY their work.

Here is a tear sheet of sort of what I wanted:

except of course, we wanted to use stuff we had collected from tear down. Mike works for a LOT of people who. unlike us, have enought money to change thengs just because they don;t like the way they look anymore. We're able to rip out the old but perfectly usable pieces and rework them. So this is sort of the feel I wanted.

Here's how I got it.
Because we had so much room and drag stuff all over the house, we'll find something and stick it in the kitchen for a while and it might stay or it might move somewhere completely different. That beadboard cupboard there is from my Grandma Martha's summer porch, where she kept all of her canning.

I wanted a window over the sink, (no sink in sight).

So we taped off the floor and walked around until I found a spot I thought the sink should go and Mike put in a window.

Remember,the outside walls are all brick, AND I'm short, so the had to knock out a chunk of wall and fix it so it would be the right hight for me and the counter...not exactly a piece of cake! This window is the size of a patio door slider but he fixed it so it would fit above the counter.

There's not much of a view, but on the top part, you can see the sky. That color is the cornmeal yellow color that I finally chose. I love yellow kitchens and this color just ...fits. It's not the crayon yellow that I would pick from the get go, but a softer, mellower color that takes it;s shade from the hand made brick.

In all, the inside colors are all old French farmhouse colors..and even though we'll have a lot of new stuff inside, it won;t be jumping out and a hollerin' "Look what was at Sears! See what they had at Hallmark? Have you been to the new Walmart?"

Now, this stained glass is just sort of an idea...I found one over in Morrow Bay that is more the brooding colors I'm thinking of (plus it is already DONE), that I really like better--mellower colors but I have no idea how much it costs (big factor), so I may just end up waiting until it is wintertime and Mike makes it for me. (Yes, he does stain glass,too. Sort makes you think that the artistic talen bucket was tipped on his head one to manty times, huh?
This is the dining room, with all of the molding stacked up like so many logs in Oregon. I was lucky that there was so much room so we could move things around and I could decide where I really did like details to be; what worked to gether and what colors looked good together.

I've built brand new places and most of the planning gets done on paper. This is messier and slower but there is a cohensiveness that I really enjoy. (I don't enjoy it enough to do it all the TIME though).

Now the cupboards...what we did was get with Pyramid Cabinets here in town and I gave my sketches to Laurie and she came up with two or three designs, utilizing some of the odd original pieces we had. Then she and I masking taped off the bare floor and walked around, opening up pretend freezers and putting stuff in pretend mircowaves until we had an entire kitchen designed around the way I store my things. The lower doors will all acutally be slide out drawers and the drawers were all designed to hold drawer organizers. I even have an appliace garage for the coffee maker and toaster.

The sink is the huge heavy cast iron Kohler sink from the '70's. It was originally supposed to be that '70's avocado green, but when it was poured, was an off color...perfect for me, but it sat on the junk heap for`THIRTY SIX YEARS. It is sort of a sage green, weighs a ton and is just perfect. $10.

I have a farmyard painting that goes here and then on the bottom, I have the top part of an antique stove that I use for bread. On top, I'll put on of those old general store scales with (probably) some kind of green plant. I think that there will be a decorative shelf connecting those two towers for cookbooks I never use.
We already found an old gate for my potrack and the plan is to put in stained glass on the bottom of the window, (since all I can see the rooftop of the cleaners next door) and leaving to top of the window that pretty green antique bubble glass, so I can still see the sky.

We still have no idea about the counters or backsplash. We have some 150 tin ceiling that we took out of a tear down that I like for maybe a copper or verdigris backspalash and maybe just plain black corian or granite for the counters. I't thinking simple, clan and sanitary looking (not a lot of grout to mess with!!)

The cabintets will be all painted a simple Navaho White/Ivory with red/brown antiquing. Plain bronze oild pulls...palin and simple. I want just a simple tall faucet with a spry deal, all in dark bronze oil finsh. The faucets I have my eye on look like dove wings.

The at the island, I'll have two pull up stools, upholstered in a weathered leather , piped in that tapestry fabric I used for all of the colors AND a brass footrail. Behind the kichen door, will be a piece of old school house slate and chalk rail for notes and as far as decorations, I think I'll have just a couple of larger ceramic chickens and a rooster. Probably a really large turned wooden bowl for fruit. My favorite "trick" is to fill the bowl up with realistic fruits and just top it off with real apples and bananas.

I'll start haunting the art fairs for just the right wooden bowl...I want one that looks sort of like a honey colored chunk of birds-eye maple.

Friday, June 02, 2006

We added a veranda in 2004

Two winters ago, we added another 1,000 square feet of veranda because the front of the hotel looked so plain and I like to sit outside and watch the cars go by! So , since it was a wet winter and traditionaly, customers don't want construction guys tromping thru their homes between Halloween and New Years...I was able to get the crew to work on this project. You can ask any contractor's wife and they;ll all tell you..our projects are always at the bottom of the list.

We had a photo of the original cigar porch; very tiny, off the front hallway and not nearly grand enough for our purpose. Being downtown, with no yard,we needed an outdoor living space that still met the historical guidelines we had set for the renovation.

First we went to the city with a proposal for a veranda. The answer, as always, was no. Mike found historical photos of the main street and out Mills building and lo and behold, there was a vertanda! We wanted it to be authentic and as true to the original as possible. Mike pointed out the the City Father's that there was an existing (though bricked up) doorway; so obviously the original builder hadconstructed a veranda. In resotoration, the goal is always to allow you go back to original as possible. So we were allowed to get a permit to put in a veranda.

For fun (!!!) we got a concrete drill and drilled a hole, the exact same size as the posts we were going to use. That way, the existing concrete would be distrurbed. We had to have 3 feet by 3 feet underneath the sidwalk, so we laid on our bellies and scooped out 9 cubic yards per post BY HAND. A handfull at a time. No fancy tools. No 20th century equipment. Fingers and knuckles.
So here you have a six inch square hole that is 3 feet deep and 3 feet wide unde the 100 year old sidewalk.

After the inspection..and believe me, the city doesn't give us a friendly "Yeah, sure, you betcha" pass on this. They REALLY inspect it. We built a shoot that was 6 inches around on the bottom and was 2 feet square on top because no way in the world was a concrete truck going to be able to deliver concrete in that dinky little hole. especially as tidily as we needed it to be.

We filled that hole with with concrete from Viking concrete. He put his chute into Mike's funnel and put 1 yeard of concrete in each of the six holes. When the concrete came up to the top of the sidewalk, we put in a metal post base and hand finished the cap. After the concrete was dry, we put in a 14 foot, 6 x 6 post in the base, in preperation for the second story veranda. The wood post covers up all but a tiny bit of the new concrete, so unless you were there, you can't tell that this is a new construction. It looks totally original. (And in darn good shape at that!) Now the city's plan was to cut a big honking 3 x 3 foot chunk of sidewalk, pour the footing and then put in the posts, which obviously would look out of place and WORSE, new!

With the right craftmanship, new work can and does fully
replicate the original look.

Mike had a trailor load of rotted spindles he had pulled out fromm a job in Laton. He had a trailor load of original beadboard from the Stratford school demo.So these were the puzzle pieces he had to work with. (Me, I'd have set the whole mess on fire and roast marshmallows) Mike? He sat down with his tape measure, carpenter's square and the back of an envelope.
The overhang of the bottom and the top of this new veranda is covered by 120 year old original Victorian era "clear staight grain Douglas Fir 1x4 tongue and groove beadboard. Current price at a planing mill is $5 per lineal foot. Now, this veranda is 1,000 square feet WITH a decorative design, so we needed 6,200 lineal feet. (New? About $31,000. Reclaimed? The price of the labor to pull the nails, barrell sand and install; about $9,500, our price) . Then we're going to add this detail on the downstairs overhang, just to give it a little more character. We found this particular pattern in Key West and just like how SOLID it looks.
This one goes upstairs; just a little lacier and feminine. Sort of a Hanford in Now Orleans look.

And white wicker furniture, of course, since this is the perfect place to doze the early evenings away! Here is a shot of the view across town...many of the brick buildings were constructed from the salvage from the 1906 SanFrancisco Quake. Hanford is right on the railway line, so they just shipped the broken and burned bricks form the tumbled down structures. It's sort of a mini history lesson, in that at the turn of the century, all the towns were interconnected with one another.

March-October, the street out front is filled with our local farmer's market,

so it should be a fun place to barbeque and have friends over. In fact, this will be the only really country cottage look that I like...every thing else is much more high-class Victorian and just more fun. I have several old tin wash tubs that my friend Judy will paint because i just want the veranda to be pretty and feminine...normal like all of the other gals in town!

Like any renovation, you are constantly balancing your vison with cash and labor. A lot of times, labor runs more, but you are getting the original look, quality and material to the era. ANd we don't have any other hobbies. Kids are grown.