Don’t Wait to Say You Care!

life-handle-with-care

A friend of mine recently posted some wonderful family photos on FB. I miss her, we grew up together and her Mr. Man took her to the opposite coast. They have had a wonderful life as far away from tragedy they could get and still be in the United States. Her FB photos of her handsome grandson triggered nightmares for me. I’m writing this post to try to exorcise the negativity and avoid stress eating my lunch. My nightmares centered on the dichotomy of the following paragraph. I’ll try not to be in too much of a rant in the following comments.

My friend’s father is the reason that I am a Christian.  Mr. P. was the kindest man I had met growing up.  He demonstrated his kindness as a Christ follower in ways that the rest of us aspire to in more flawed ways.  (So glad I don’t have to work my way into heaven!)  He was a loving father, husband and son.  He served his fellow man in all the ways he could.  Isn’t there always a “but” with humans?  But, he suffered from multiple personality disorder.  We never knew until a horrible thing happened.  He was tried and convicted of the horrible thing and went to jail, never remembering the horrible thing that Jack did.  It left Mr. P. a broken man to think he did this horrible thing and a week of this life was forgotten. What was left was a soul shattered life missing important pieces.

Fast forward to this morning: My co-worker brought her coffee cup into my office today and expounded on the self-centered nature of drivers. On and on she went as if she had saved up all her words to use on this one subject. I agree that we have become a self-centered and sometimes narcissist culture. My co-worker was upset because a vehicle was slow moving, often at erratic speeds. Her niece was driving, yelling at the man, her 18 year old friend in the back seat flipped him off as they passed. My co-workers concern was for possible retaliation, not that the driver might be impaired or the young adults need some anger management and road rage training.

The nightmare, still fresh in my mind, of Mr. P. driving around for a week before being picked up by the police stumbling, hungry, dehydrated and incoherent, rambling as one of his lesser personalities asserted himself. What if Mr. P. had been that erratic driver? What if it was one of my military heroes who suffer daily with PTS? There is a host of mental illness, medical conditions, grief and stress that could result in an erratic speed, not just distracted driving or a jerk driving as a self-appointed traffic monitor . Caution should be a virtue practiced at all times. I tend to practice the negative form of caution, cynicism. Either would have worked, as well as a touch of empathy, during this driver training exercise between my co-worker and her niece.

I have driven at erratic speeds, appearing fine to the world, while grief was crushing my chest like a 500 lb. weight. I would give much to say thank you to Mr. P. for all his kindness and unconditional love to an awkward young girl. I would give even more to erase the horrible thing from their lives. I would trade the rest of my life to be able to be with my beloved. The opportunity is gone. I must wait until my time to see Jesus is due and then I can see them all again. I grieve words not spoken, the road not taken.

Tell your loved ones you care, not only that you love them, but that you care about them. Give them a hug! Cut people some slack and eliminate provoking behavior from your daily life. How much better would this life be if we didn’t swear at each other, call names or gesture obscenely? Consider how you can improve the quality of your life in how you conduct yourself. Dare to care for the human race by being kind!

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Filed under Grief, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Marriage, PTSD

I Can Sleep When I’m Retired?

Most of the insulation is done for the attic space that will be closed in as a bonus room.  The wiring is complete and I only need to build the wall out that the door will be installed on.  I drove my trusty truck and picked up 10 sheets of drywall.  Now, how do I get those 10 sheets up the garage stairs into the attic?

Daughter is on a weight restriction, no go.
Son-in-law is working late, too late.
Foster son is working overtime, too tired.
Neighbors are out-of-town, no go.
Friends are older than me, nope.

Pastor Andy’s sermon from Sunday reminded us that we can create our own loneliness and isolation.  When we are hurt or even grieving, we withdraw and then wonder why we are lonely.  He challenged us to reach out instead of withdrawing, to ask for help when we really need it.  O.K. so is this a test to see if I was listening?  We have a neighborhood watch app for my street that includes four or five neighboring streets.  I posted a note that I needed help unloading 10 sheets of drywall.  A kind husband/wife team in their 70’s were the ones that showed up to help.  The wife and I switched off carrying one end and the husband carried the low-end.  I was very grateful for their help and sent them home with jam, honey and a dozen eggs from the girls.  They were so helpful and would not accept money, true neighbors!

I checked the punch list.  I’ve been telling people I was down to 30 something.  I’m happy to say that I am down to 28, Whoot!  Down from the original 100 and no under 30!  Tonight I will be cutting drywall to fit into the small spaces.  Tomorrow night my son-in-law will be over with his might and height to help with the ceiling drywall.

Sigh!  I will be happy when all the construction projects are finished.

28

 

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The Sounds of Mrs. Winchester

Ahh, September, and a better attitude!

The kids call me Mrs. Winchester because of my “punch list”.  I can hire the work done or live comfortably in retirement.  So this month I have been hanging insulation in the attic, framing in part of it, and finishing with drywall.  I need to have the painting and carpet done by the end of the month.

I’ve put the screws to my independent daughter to move back in with me.  I have all this space to myself and not even a cat shares it with me now.  I want to be able to travel when I retire and having the kids there will give me freedom.  My house has two bedrooms upstairs and two downstairs with the master on the first floor.  That gives them a certain degree of privacy and the bonus room in the attic will give them even more space to spread out and two external entrances once the deck is rebuilt.  Plus, there is the added security of having a large 6′ something man hanging around brings as well as fewer hours the house is unoccupied.  They will bring with them two hefty attack cats.

The original deck was causing a major water problem and mold so it had to come down.  I hope to have it rebuilt by the end of October but the City is a bit slow on the permitting process.  It will provide even more privacy and a nice relaxation space overlook the backyard.

I’m a bit frustrated because I can measure, cut and place the boards, but I can’t seem to seat those screws and I have to ask a manly man to come finish them off for me.  So much for equality of the sexes, we are equal, just not the same. Sigh! At least this way the work progresses and I don’t have to wait for someone to donate their free time.  Mr. T or my friend Dahve are happy to finish off those screws since it doesn’t take much time.  Dahve is always ready to give me building advice.  He dropped by this week because I was two inches off and didn’t see how to solve the problem.  He had a quick answer that provided a nice finished look.  There is no substitute for experience!

The chickens are doing fine, enjoying the seeds from the spent cardone.  I didn’t get to cook and eat much this year because of my schedule so I let it go to seed.  The vocal birds encouraged this.  My feathered friends come when I get close to the plants and bock at me to pull the fluffy tufts to get the seeds.  They push each other out of the way to compete for treats.  I’m constantly amazed by these dinosaur relics.  Their fantastic eyesight is demonstrated as they zone in on the little seeds and pluck them with 100% accuracy out of my hand, never hitting my hand once!  Chicken T.V. is still the best show around.

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Thirty Two Years A Friend – In Memory of My Beloved

mac-laughing-cameoAugust 30th marks thirty two years of friendship, now lost to this world. I still count the years even though my beloved has been gone these past few years. He is still the best friend I ever had. He was a kind gentleman with a pleasant (and oft corny) greeting ready.  My beloved always respected the boundaries of marriage when I was married to an abusive man, and was always kind to me. He was just a friend, then a friend in need, and then my beloved friend indeed. He was the last of his line, sixth or seventh generation Californian of 100% Scottish descent. He would say he was all Pict. He was handsome to me but, he felt self conscious about his Scottish nose. Always humble about his looks as well as his brilliant mind. He left behind a handsome body without an ounce of fat and a brilliant mind. Dust now but always alive in my mind.

I was an ugly woman during my pregnancy but, he always had a kind word for me. My ex insisted his five months pregnant wife go with him to chop and haul firewood. In retrospect, I think he had hoped I would miscarry. I was horribly naïve in those days and believed everything I was told. I returned home spotting blood, with an extremely severe case of poison oak that lasted until I gave birth and they could shoot me up with steroids. It was nasty, oozing and ugly and covered 80% of my body.

How my beloved could say I was beautiful pregnant is beyond me. He saw things in people I never could. The things he saw were truthful; it just took time to show up. I became beautiful because he loved me into it. I wanted to be the best I could be because it is what he deserved.  My heart and mind were changed because of his enduring kindness and love. He never yelled at me, threw things at me, called me names or put me down. He was capable of great anger and I did make him mad on occasion but, he always chose kindness.

My beloved was a tactical man, a warrior. He was finely honed in body and mind, he drove himself ruthlessly. He could ride (m/c and horses), shoot, track, capture, break/fix, cook and specialized in ECM. He could drop a cocky CHP officer in less than 6 seconds and leave him wondering what happened.  The army believed he had cheated in survival school because he gained weight and sent him through again. (Duck roasted on hot rocks in the sun can be tasty). He served the country he loved both in the military and privately for an alphabet agency. He lived with the knowledge that forever alters your life when you see the evil that men can do.  He often said as long as there was evil in this world, there was a need for men like him.  He suffered from PTS but hid it well from most people. He was a gifted engineer and at one time a critical piece of 80% of all computers in the world was a result of his work or design. He was brilliant and he gave his brilliance to others making several other people millionaires. He gave his wealth away.  He loved people.

One year before his death, as his health began to degrade; he purchased two small life insurance policies in addition to the one he had carried for decades. It made the difference in my life now so I would not have to struggle and lose everything we had worked for. I can still keep and drive his truck that is overpowered with an 8 liter engine.  It hauls around our grandchildren of the heart and pulls the RV he never wanted to own.  (Sorry honey, when you don’t stick around, wives do stuff!) He cared enough to plan for my future without him. He lived on adrenaline.  His high school year book quotes him as the most likely to die before age 30, his tired body quit him at 52.

He loved children and spent his time caring for those thrown away by their parents. Because of his upbringing and early days of extreme hunger, he never let anyone leave his presence hungry. It was not uncommon for him to feed 12 people at lunch time or dinner. He often took someone with us for Saturday or Sunday morning breakfasts. It was expensive but, as an automation engineer, it was how he chose to spend his money. It fit with my Italian ancestry, to feed someone is to love them.

He was not perfect, just perfect for me. He could not and would not practice a work/home life balance. He could not pull back and rest so when he caught pneumonia and the call came to assist someone, he went. I begged him not to go, I went with him and watched as he heaved up the water from his lungs and begged him with tears to go to the hospital.  He was stubborn to the very last and refused.  He expended his very last reserve serving others and died the next day on his terms.

   Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

You were the greatest love and lover I will ever know. Rest now my love, my gorgeous man.

The angels danced in delight and Jesus must have been waiting for you as you took the express lane to heaven and your eternal reward.  You touched so many lives and where you were was a better place because of you.  You are still missed!

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The Cat Died

Cancer, my beloved CJ had a run of 20 great years.  The last few years he didn’t do much except eat and sleep.  I didn’t notice he even had cancer until it was bad because even on the last day, he was eating, drinking and making smells in the litter box.  He gave exceptional purrs.

So it’s August again.  Shitty month!  My birthday, my bitical mother’s birthday and my beloved’s death day.  Now I have to add CJ’s death to the list.  Seriously, what did August ever do!

I’ll see you in September! (with a better attitude)

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Mrs. Winchester – Today

People acquainted with me know about “the list”.  We bought an older home that needed a “few” repairs.  The punch list was 100 items long, my beloved completed the first 25 and then was promoted to work full-time for Jesus.  That left me with 75 items and very few skills.  I have drive, determination, an advisor and WiFi.

I watch a lot of fix it shows on Dish and even more You Tube videos on “how to”.  Once I have gained enough knowledge to ask intelligent questions, I ask my advisor Dahve what he thinks.  He thinks I’m funny.  I’m really not trying to be.

So there is always construction going on since it takes me forever to complete even a simple task.  Sustainable construction is the newest catch phrase.  I’m good with that, I need raised garden beds and I have this pile of old wood.  I can do that.  Sigh, it takes me an hour to pull the nails, scrape off the foam and get one long board ready to cut down for a garden bed.  I have two completed and need at least two more.  It was a little disappointing not to have something completed so I installed my rain gutter garden on the shady side of the house and planted my parsley and cilantro seedlings.  It looks a little wavy so I probably should have used more than four washers and screws.  I got a little distracted with the camera and thought you would enjoy my Cardoon (or cardonni) plants in bloom.  They are not artichokes, which are cultivated for the bulb, but are in the same family.  I can’t possibly eat all of this but I did discover the single ladies (chickens) love, love, love the seeds that hide in the dried thistle.  If you look close, you can find more than one or two of my bees nestled down in the purple fluff searching for pollen.  Guaranteed pollination!  Cardoon is an Italian veggie and you eat the celery looking stalks which does taste like artichokes, yum!  Hope you enjoy.

 

 

 

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Filed under Bees, Chickens, Garden, Homeowner, Photography, Projects, Urban Farming

100 Things To Do If You’re Sad

Dear Reader, I advise you to do these things on rainy days (I’m not talking about the weather). Bookmark this article or link it or whatever the kids are doing these days, and open it when you’re f…

Source: 100 Things To Do If You’re Sad

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Lost – Brussels

At least 30 dead and more than 220 injured

20 dead and up to 130 injured

There will be more, it is so sad but the numbers will continue to roll in.  ISIS rushes in to claim responsibility and Muslims rush into the street spewing hatred.  I find it so hard to understand that kind of hatred.  (I know I am naïve, most of the time it is quite alright with me to be the butterfly with wings.  Please don’t think you have to pull them off so I am no longer naïve).  Harder still, I fail to understand how individuals can believe that their wants, beliefs and “rights” supersede or come at the expense of another human beings.  Have they lost all common sense?

The religion of hate marches on.  How are we to react to them?  I caution you not to get down in the dirt with them and return hate.  I believe in self-defense and even a good offense.  I believe in my constitutional rights.  I practice those rights.  I believe in a strong military and healthy boundaries.  I don’t believe in the right to hate!  Forgiveness might be the right thing to do but, it is certainly the harder and less traveled path.

God left us with two rules, all of the old testament rules are rolled into these two.

Love God.

Love Others.

Take this time to examine your own religion.  Does it judge a group of people?  Does it condemn rather than redeem?  If it does, RUN as fast as you can from them.  Remember the rules, there are no “ifs” in there.  Set healthy boundaries but show love for others.  Love as a verb and not as a noun.  The hatred coming from this religion did not grow overnight, be vigilant with your own, ever watchful so evil cannot grow there.

There is nothing we can do for those that are dead.  The remainder however, need our prayers and love.  Grief is a terrible thing, I’ve seen it twist good people into unrecognizable, mean people.  My prayers today go out to the remainder touched by grief as family, friends and neighbors go through the burden of living while loved ones cannot.  I will also pray for those men and women who took to the streets directly after the attacks spewing hatred.  Lord heal their hearts and pour out the hatred and fill it with your love.

I challenge you to find a way to show love to someone this week in memory of those lost in Brussels.  Honor the dead not with hate, but with love unexpected. Pay for someone’s lunch, take a homeless person a clean pair of socks, clean someone’s house, go the extra mile in your own “house”.  Let our response be swift in love, as it would be in might had it happened here.  In this sad day, remember…

Love God.

Love Others.

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Punching the List

Punch list update! 

The short story, we bought a house, made a repair “punch” list, closed a business, inherited a quilters will, a crafters will, my favorite maiden aunt died and my beloved got sick.  Then he died, all within three years. Breathe.

My beloved managed to slice a good portion of the 100 item punch list before he was promoted to engineer for Jesus full time.  The twenty five items he completed were big ones that would have been costly for me to hire to complete.  He rewired walls and the main panel, replaced rafters, installed two sprinkler systems, built a staircase, installed a floor in the two lofts and more.  I am so thankful for what he managed to complete!  The 76 items left loom over me like an oncoming freight train.  I budgeted for them carefully and set a priority for each item and began to tackle them one by one. 

Saturday morning I was able to put the final coat of paint on the trim around a sliding glass door and hang the blinds.  This was the completion of a long drawn out item that included: repairing water damage to the wall, removing its cause, associated black mold, insulation and drywall, some wiring and replacing a damaged outside light fixture.  I lost the alarm, electricity, light and phone on that wall due to the water damage.  The patio cover on the outside of the wall had to also be removed and the damage to the stucco repaired and trim replaced.  Research and technical advice on how to proceed were required to proceed.  It also required I face my Kryptonite, multiple trips to the big box hardware stores where the service is less than desirable when you don’t know what you are doing!  I am sooooooooooo happy that this wall is done!!!!!!!

I haven’t been brave enough during the last few months to even look at the outstanding punch list.  I could only deal with one overwhelming task at a time so, what was the point.  Today I opened up the Excel spreadsheet to move the wall repairs to the completed page and do a review/update of my remaining tasks.  There are some larger ticket items on the list that include:  insulate attic, tile the master shower, replace kitchen window and associated water damage on that wall, replace water damaged kitchen cabinets, remove two crumbling cement pads, replace patio pad, new patio/balcony (old one is removed), new construction of walkway from bedroom to landing in loft.  There are a total of 30 items, the rest are easier and lower cost.  The budget for the entire list is $33,960.00.  I feel so broke just looking at it!  Items that I complete myself will lower the cost but take longer.  Welcome to homeownership.

A review of the completed page revealed that I was completing the tasks at a rate of one a month.  Good right?  At this rate, I will finish the list in almost three years.  I really need it done in two so I can retire and transition to a fixed income.  That means I need to complete seventeen tasks this year, thirteen tasks in 2017 and four tasks in 2018 for a total of 34.  The last four tasks are looking like they may have to just stay a wish and a dream. Reality is, I may not have the money to complete them.

Who knows, if I am brave enough and talented enough to actually finish my three novels and sell them, it might just work out.  My home is no longer the horrible looking pit it was when we bought it in a short sale.  It’s still in the needs improvement  category but I have two neighbors that have usurped me in the “worst” house spot. Each item I can complete on the punch list only improves the look and value of my home. 

The land of optimism is a much better place to live than the dark side.  There are more sane people there.

 

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Anxious Much?

I was raised by a bitical woman (bitter + critical = bitical).  That explains where I learned to fail so well but it does not explain why, equipped with this knowledge, I can’t seem to shake it off.  I ended the relationships that were so toxic and damaging to me completely when my beloved died and they (plural) saw it as an opportunity to attack me personally when I was at my lowest.  I had all but ended relationships with them before but, without my beloved protector and personal encourager, it was no longer possible to have contact with them.  That is their problem, my problem remains but is different.

I set wonderful goals with appropriate steps to complete them; good time frames and even plan outside influences to create my success.  I have great technical plans and then I fail to follow through until completion.  My big girl pants just don’t seem to stay on as long as I need them to.  I shoot myself in the foot on a regular basis and when I get close to the goal line, I fail to finish.  I have volumes of stories that have never seen the light of day. This blog is the first time I have freely let my words leave without rushing to pull them back and protect them from harm.  It is a learning experience for me and, perhaps because I have so few followers, I’ve been able to let it go and be myself.

NaNoWriMo has been a great experience for me to “turn off my inner editor” which is really a technical writer and the child of bitterness.  Coaching others to complete the 50,000 word count has helped me grow and throw out my inner bitical critic. Seven years as a staff volunteer for the San Francisco Writers Conference has provided me with healing encouragement and hundreds of success stories and relationships with people who are happy to see me when I walk into the room.

To stretch those new confidence muscles even more, I have started my own critique group and am going to submit two short stories for publication in an anthology.  It is not so important that I get accepted for publication as it is I actually submit it.  I sent one of the stories to a beta reader.  Not just any beta reader but, one I consider to be a true American hero.  He served as an Army Ranger and later as an undercover police officer.  He gave much for his country, including the life of his mother when his cover was blown.  He is quiet, humble and extremely smart.  The story deals with PTSD, a subject he is an expert on.  I highly value his opinion.

I sent the story to my friend yesterday at 5:00 p.m. and was awake most of the night.  My anxiety level was sky high.  I expected one of two things; he would read it and politely say little or nothing or attack it with a full offensive.  Neither happened.  The time stamp was 10:27 p.m. the same day and he liked it!  His wife liked it! He gave me 12 suggestions (some I should have caught if I wasn’t so anxious).

It is time for me to succeed!  I have awesome friends and an awesome God!  Now Tessa, let it go and get it done.

Worry for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6

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