Tag Archives: family

The List Goes On!


The shed finally gets painted!


I think “The List” has become a sentient life form!  It started as a punch list of 100 items when we purchased the house.  My beloved whacked it down to 75 before he fell ill and died.  I have continued to hack away at the list.  Friends, family and sometimes hired help have helped me to whack some more off the list.  It was at 28 this morning but I allowed myself to add to it.  I have found myself arguing to avoid any additions, to just finish what we originally listed.  I lost the argument today and added eight window replacements.  They are all poorly hung, leaking, single pane windows.  Only one should be a problem replacement because of its location.  Three I might be able to do by myself, if Dahve will assist in the selection process.  Who knew there were so many different flanges to windows?

The List now sits at 36 with seven items to be completed before December 31, 2016.  The total estimated cost is between a conservative $10,000 to a possible $13,200.  “The List” is the reason I may work freelance for a few hours after I retire.  I have a couple of post retirement offers of work.  I will be fine with Social Security if I keep the income under $17,000.

I didn’t get any work done on the loft room or any of my could of, should of, or would of’s.  I did get the tool shed painted and is ready for winter and the sprinkler system is finally repaired.  The connecting pipes were disconnected from the main pipes.  The general belief is this happened due to the tilled soil settling and/or running over them with heavy weight.  We deep tilled the soil before installing the pipes due to the problems in the yard with chunks of debris buried in it.  We removed several truckloads of trash and concrete before the yard was ready for seed.  I would rather repair the sprinklers than have toxic trash and bits of concrete work their way to the surface, ewww.  The side yard was not tilled and I am still digging out trash from inside the house six years later!  Six heads repaired or replaced and my dead lawn is good to go again.

I feel like this was a good weekend.  Sprinkler system repaired, shed painted and a great talk on Sunday from Andy.  No Elvis impersonator this Sunday, but a great version of “Can’t Help Falling In Love”.  My take away this week is to love on purpose, to think before I speak and to bear with those irritations in life.  (Co-workers come to mind, 468 days to retirement!) More positive thinking and positive talking!  I also spent time with the beautiful daughter, son-in-law and my stolen son’s daughter.  The four of us walked through IKEA, (g-daughter and I did it twice) so daughter could get design ideas for their new house.

P.S. Could you use some relationship help?  The current Thrive Church-CA series is all about relationships, some good talks with usable information from Andy Bernard and Jeremiah Aja.  Check out Thrive Church-CA!


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Filed under Family Times, Foster Children, Garden, Homeowner

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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Filed under Grief, Marriage, PTSD

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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Filed under Family Times, Grief, Inspiration, PTSD

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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Filed under Family Times, Grief, Inspiration

Keep on Flooring


So what do you do with a 55 plus year old widowed granny.  Put her to work on the chain gang installing flooring!  I am my own taskmaster and the end to this epic 1,300 sq. ft. project is on the horizon but not quite in sight.

It all began back in October when I completed my research on what type of flooring I wanted.  I decided on a sustainable product that was readily available and on sale.  I ordered it from my local big box store in person and oopsie the store employee checked the wrong box.  It was an easy mistake, I wanted click lock and not solid.  Arrgh, it took multiple managers and three months to correct the mistake.  I received the flooring in mid January and had to put the project on hold for my daughter’s wedding.  Needless to say I was not happy to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s as well as wedding festivities on an ugly slab of concrete!

I have officially passed the halfway point and am almost to two thirds.  Yea me!  I go home from work almost every night and try to do 2-3 rows of installation.  I usually have a quick lay down of thirty minutes to relax and detox from the stress of the day first, grab a bite for dinner and then get cracking!

It is not especially hard work and I occasionally have help from a friend who has even more trouble getting up and down than I do.  Fortunately DaHve has the experience of being a retired contractor.  The daughter has dropped in a time or two to swing the rubber hammer as well as one or two grands.  Almost everyone has had a small hand in this project.  My “son” ish and his wife as well as 4 of their children did all the carpet tear out for which I am soooo thankful.  That was a dirty awkward job I am glad I did not have to lift a hand for.

Soon my floor will be this beautiful expanse of wall to wall bamboo!  I can’t wait.

If I can do it, you can too!

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Filed under All Things Crafty, Family Times, Foster Children, Projects


system failure

I haven’t posted in a few months and have spent my energy recovering after mono and strep.  I am back to work and have built up enough stamina to do one or two activities after I get home.  I take care of the fur and feather needs, my own nutrition and then try to lay some more flooring.  I usually manage two or three rows of boards before something starts to ache or I just run out of energy. I’m tackling 1,300 sq. ft. of flooring one row at a time! It will get done just not fast!  I have not planted a single vegetable in the garden either.

While my body may be slightly worn down, my heart is absolutely broken.  I cannot help someone who does not see the problem and we all know that “fixing” someone else’s problems is at best hypocritical and condescending and is not healthy behavior.  I do not want the responsibility for controlling or making someone else’s choices.  That being said, I cannot keep the tears from falling.

I have met a young mother of three, I will name her Phoenix here.  Phoenix comes from the most heartbreaking childhood that was splashed across inter-national media when the details became known.  Both of her biological parents are now in jail, her mother for at least 15 years and her father on consecutive life sentences.  I am grateful they are out of their now adult children’s lives but the terror and havoc they wrecked still continues as it is ingrained into their very DNA after so many years of continual abuse.  Because all of the victims involved are “aged out” and poor, they have exhausted all social services has to offer.

The father of Phoenix’s three children also comes from an extremely dysfunctional home that barely borders on legal behavior.  Phoenix looks to me as a mom figure because we are both domestic violence survivors.  I have made my own personal success my revenge and for years my mantra was “living well is the best revenge”.  I caught on early in my recovery days that getting even or snarky would only further hurt me and not the person I wanted to hurt.  I let it go, it was squealing like a piglet when I let go, but I was able to do it.

Phoenix has been to counseling, she has overcome so much.  But, this family is trapped in an economic cycle of poverty.  It is like trying to scale the wall of the Grand Canyon without climbing gear.  She doesn’t even know she can climb much less what a carabiner, harness, belay or an ascender is.  Telling her she can climb makes no impact on her.  Opportunities have presented themselves to her in the last few weeks but she does not take advantage of them.  Phoenix professes she is not afraid of the opportunities, just not interested.  She does not see a better way of life for herself and her family.

You have heard of the Stockholm Syndrome where the captive begins to love the captor.  Similarly, Phoenix is trapped in extreme poverty and poor living conditions because she cannot see the opportunities or where it will take her.  Where she is at now is better than before.  She passes on opportunities because she cannot see how they will benefit her future and presents indifference to the world.  It is possible that she just does not believe she could be successful and it may even be mixed up with some survivor guilt.  It would take a full time team of psychologists to unravel this depth of damage.

At times like this, I truly miss my beloved.  He understood this so well.  He came from this type of horror but moved past it.  He loved me in spite of my own past. He would know what to say to comfort as well as to motivate someone to invest in themselves.  He could convince people into believing in themselves because he could share his own story in a way that gave them hope.

Please pray for me as I make myself available to Phoenix when and if she ever decides to take the next step.  Please pray for Phoenix, her partner and their three children.  Pray that I will remember to love her in a healthy way in the hope that she will someday see better choices and opportunities.

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Filed under Family Times, Foster, Grief, Life Lessons

Formerly Insignificant

I am so humbled. Here I was bragging about my kids like any mother would do. I met S as a very active fetus who was strong willed even back then. J, J & M are what I call my stolen children. They came into my life as young teenagers. It was not through any active choice of my own, they were simply kids that needed some loving and I had some to spare. My beloved mentored the young men and stayed close to them until he died; he is still close to us in our hearts.
I’m not a better person by any actions of my own but, I am a better person simply by knowing these four and being allowed into their lives as they have all grown into amazing people. I am so proud of my four kids as they have grown into adulthood. They have all faced some pretty bad things but have taken the high road. I was never faced with the kinds of things they were bombarded with as children and young adults and am not sure that I would have been even a little amazing.
So…bragging comes naturally for me. Sitting somewhere in the room was a young woman who I had never met until it was time to leave. She walked up to me and tried to tell me how wonderful I was. I set her straight as gently as I could, don’t you see, it wasn’t me on the giving end; I was on the receiving end. I received all the love that should have gone to absentee parents. I, I, I,…I explained. She smiled and understood what I meant and then said something that has haunted me for several days.
“I was in high school before I understood that I mattered. One of my teachers told me. You did a good thing.”
Does that stab straight into your heart as it did mine! She is with a wonderful family now; I assumed wrongly that they were her birth family.
I see all these silly Facebook challenges all the time. Dear Reader, I challenge you to tell someone they matter this week, someone you wouldn’t normally uplift. It is such a little thing to be kind and could mean so much.

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Peckish About My Lost Pict

It’s been nineteen months since my beloved was called home to help out Jesus. My beloved was always serving others, I don’t know of a time when he refused to help another. He had the gift of mercy down pat. Me, not so much. I struggle with a sense of right and fair.
I am constantly reminding myself that God never said life would be fair but that we should be. Mercy was my beloved’s best quality and the one that often frustrated me. You see it cost him his life, he kept nothing back and gave it all to others. He tried to follow Christ’s teachings as much as he could. I go from missing him terribly to being furious with him for not balancing his energies and saving something for himself.
I have come to grips with the realization that the people that manipulated him into helping them move while he was suffering from pneumonia will never express remorse or apology. I am choosing to believe that they cared for him and feel remorse; they too may have problems dealing with his loss at 52 years.
My beloved did not love perfectly, but he loved me. Our marriage had a couple of bumps in the road and one rocky patch where I almost gave up. I’m glad I didn’t. He was so sick and was making bad choices, everyone said I should leave him and cut my losses, that the illness would only get worse. For better or worse, right. We made the choice to love each other and our marriage found a new plateau. I loved nothing better than just laying in bed, feeling his arms around me. Now, I have good memories and no regrets. My mother is in her eighties, I may have twenty three plus years left to find peace and balance in my life. I’m working on it!
This emotional tug of war saps my strength. If only I could just wash the emo away with a good cry!
I saw a grief counselor for a brief time. She said people who love deeply, grieve deeply and I should be kinder to myself. I get depressed from time to time but refuse to stay there. He would hate that. I have his ashes on the floor next to my shoes. Mostly because I have to wait to do what I want with them. For now, when I behave badly, I simply roll him over in his grave, laugh, and go on as he would want me to with a, “Top of the Day to You” and a “I live to serve”.
St. Patrick’s Day was a big holiday for my Celtic lover. We didn’t celebrate St. Patrick as much as all things Celtic; he was all Pict as he used to say. He was seventh generation native Californian but still all Pict. His ancestors lived in the mountains and were sheep herders and lumbermen and later a purveyor of fine (and not so fine) Scots whiskey!
My Great Scot is gone (for now) and so ends his pict line. The little Irish girl in me abstained from the yummy soda bread and the St. Paddy’s fixin’s, maybe next year. I did wear green and an Irish sweater, drank pots and pots of tea, and cried for his loss. Maybe next year I’ll bake the Soda Bread with currants.
Sleep well my love; you have earned your rest!
Ti Amo, Tanta Ti Amo Mi Amore!

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Filed under Grief, Marriage

Foster: to help something grow or develop, to nuture

I never seem to be able to understand the cruelty of man, nor do I really want to. For in that understanding, it would forever change me. My beloved saw such cruelty as a child until he reached his majority. It made him not a cruel, but a kind man. He taught me the value of mercy, not getting what you deserve. I struggle with extending mercy where it is not deserved. I cannot save every child, just the ones brought into my life by plan or circumstance.

This weekend one that “got away” returned. I will call her Grace, she is graceful and in spite of all that has happened to her, kind and tenderhearted and more than a little bit gullible. I worked with her as a young girl but, she had so many years of damage. She had been in the foster system for years due to serious abuse and had several siblings. Her little sister was kept with her. The foster parents were train wrecks. (Thank you to the good ones out there!) They could pass a home inspection; answer all the test questions and looked good on paper. The constant verbal abuse and the difference made between the “good” biological children and the two girls was devastating. Would you be surprised to learn that both girls made bad life choices and have trouble with relationships? The little sister is strung out on drugs and bad relationships. Grace hit relationship bottom after three children and their parental abduction by the father. Grace is working with the police to find her children but decided to travel three states to come “home” to the last place she felt truly loved and accepted. I am so glad she did. She had one or two friends in town, my adult daughter and me. She remembered the kindness here and returned to us. I am a flawed person and to quote Patsy Clairmont, “God Uses Cracked Pots”! I hope we can make a difference for this one who needs to be loved on. I pray that God covers my mistakes with grace and mercy so we can find a way to help this beautiful woman to be happy.

Grace is actually the child who sparked a writing project of mine I’m passionate about. A guide for young adults who are about to or have “aged out” of the foster system. There is so much that they miss out on and don’t know. Their time was spent worrying about safety, where they would sleep, what they would eat, attending hearings or court sessions. They didn’t learn the how-to’s that you would expect them to know. Grace learned how to properly fit a bra at age 24, after three children, while we were shopping last night. I looked at her feet and realized, another day, too much for today. She was overwhelmed.

I hope this post travels far and you can comment on what basic things you wish you had been taught, even if you were never in the foster system. My beloved encouraged me to write this because he was raised in extreme poverty and saw many similarities in missed education and training as he tried to figure out what was normal and what he needed to know to be successful.

I would love to consider your comments to add to my guide: shopping, economics, personal hygiene, balancing a checkbook, food preparation, clothing, relationships, etc. Sometimes it is the little details that can derail you in life and keep the better opportunities away. Many foster children do not even realize they have missed the opportunities because they don’t know and there is no one to tell them. Your experiences could help someone. Thanks!

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Filed under Family Times, Foster, Writing

Sweetest Day – October 19th

One of my fears is that I will get stuck in a rut. That’s not likely to happen, at least until I can’t get around anymore. I subscribe to Trivia Today to help spark new and interesting ideas. Mostly, I get a sense of hmmm, that’s interesting. Sometimes a quote or piece of trivia provokes a rabbit trail of thought. Occasionally, I will take a thought and pen a quick 500 words as a writing exercise. Today’s random tidbits included the origins of matchbox cars, Gumby, Frisbee, Twister, and the game Operation. There’s usually something there to spark interest in a writer’s soul! Gophercentral.com has the Trivia Today ezine as well as others if you want to check it out.
Today, Melissa mentioned a friend who passed away at the age of 32. Her friend’s sister chose to honor her sister’s birthday by 32 random acts of kindness for complete strangers. Melissa was inspired to try a few acts of kindness herself and her cousin joined in. Saturday October 19th is Sweetest Day, or so the florists and Hallmark tell me. I’m in a reduce/recycle mode right now and tonight I will be looking around for something that a random stranger might need. Last night I gave away a bag of empty aluminum cans to an older gentleman who makes his social security check stretch by recycling. That was without thinking. I think I can do better than that to celebrate Sweetest Day and not have to worry about the calories! What is gathering dust in your home that someone needs? Can you think of a random act of kindness to lift someone up? Go Forth and Be Random! (and rut free) 

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