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.