Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Scrambles the Death Dealer

Merry Christmas. Thank God it's over. This has been one of our busiest Christmas's ever just simply because of the economy. We worked right up until Christmas Eve. For that matter, George might still be working. Bill and I both took ill Christmas Day, and still are.

Still, we had a good holiday. I hope everyone else did as well. Rather than go out on Christmas Eve like we usually do, I ordered a variety platter from Tetchnochitlan. There were 9 of us and the platter was suppose to hold enough for 20. We inhaled it along with a tray of Spanish rice and re fried beans. It seemed that as soon as people found out that's what we had, they ran in and ate and then disappeared.
I kept gifts down to a minimum just because the economy bit us in the ass, too. Even so, we are five adults here. It isn't like disappointing children. We did get two major gifts though, that has affected everyone. First off the boys got together and bought a brand spanking new tower. It has 9 gigs along with space to plug in two more 9 gig hard drives. It took me almost five years and four novels to nearly fill the memory on the other computer. I can't imagine how long it will be before this is filled or wears out.

Now, enter our other gift. Meet Scrambles the Death Dealer.
Not that long ago I mentioned that we had two secrets we were holding from Bill. Well the first one is above. (The second is a pipe dream. Which he is well aware of.) Becki came home not long ago saying that a friend of hers had kittens and we could have one if we wanted. I said no. Unequivocally, no. I have two too many cats now. No more. Just make sure it's a female so it hunts, because I hate mice. Okay, I have no back bone when it comes to pets. Jon said no. Okay, he'll even spring for shots and having it fixed. Ed said, no. No more. Okay, if he can name it. So we went from Rosey, which is what I wanted to call her to Scrambles the Death Dealer. Ed saw the name used in an Adult Swim cartoon and thought it was funny. (What scared the hell out of me was when one of Becki's acquaintances recognized the cartoon.) When Becki brought her home, she panicked when she saw Bill coming her way, and tried to pass her to me to hide. I know that won't work. Face it head on. So I dumped the cat in his lap. He said, "No. No more cats! Now what do we name it?" She's his baby. She plays all day until she wears out. Then she crawls into his lap and falls asleep. Anyway, she's about ten weeks old. The other cats started out hating her. They're both beginning to melt towards her, particularly Mike. Now that surprises the hell out of me.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Christmas Ghost

We had something of an experience that's well worth relating. When we first got our warehouse this year, we couldn't wait to explore it. It's huge, and way at the top floor of this mighty warehouse. It was a company that made spice packets to season chicken with. George told me that when they took over the space, it was incredibly filthy. We were all kind of stunned just because the company had to do with food. Anyway, George, Pat and some of the others cleaned the place from top to bottom before taking it over. She said they moved all the furniture left behind, placing all of it, except for one desk, in places where volunteers wouldn't be hampered by them. The one desk was this huge wrap around creation stuck in an office by itself. She decided in the end that we wouldn't use the office anyway, so left it be.

I avoid everyone when they clean warehouse space just because of my asthma. George told me she didn't have asthma, but understood because she was having some problems breathing.

So we made our first pick up and took it to the warehouse about a week after they cleaned. Once in and situated, we started exploring. There is a rather large factory space, and a small office with two private offices and a bank of cubicles. We wandered in and out. We checked out the refrigerator to see if Pat stocked it with anything good. Like Pepsi. Helped ourselves, and then checked out the private offices.

In one was this huge desk I referred to earlier. We were standing in the doorway oogling it. Becki got all excited. "Now I would really like a desk like that. I wonder if anyone would notice if it disappeared." She was joking. Anyway, she walked into to check it out when someone or something kicked her in the back of the leg.

I talked to George later as she wanted to know how much food we brought in. I mentioned how Becki had been kicked. She didn't say much, and I figured she probably thought I was nuts.

Tonight she told me that a week later, the psychic who checked out my house back in September was actually in the warehouse, in what they called 'Toyland', wrapping presents. 'Toyland' just happens to be the outer office. George asked her how things were going. The psychic said, "You know there's something wrong with that back office. Did someone here have an experience in there?"

Instantly George answered. "Ah, Becki said she was kicked in there."

"There's an old man in the back office. He says no one is going to take his desk."

Okay, daughter. One more time you left me with goosebumps!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

It's been a busy week. I want to say that we are winding down our Angel program, but we aren't. We're hot in the middle of it. Today was suppose to be our first delivery day. Funny thing happened, though. The electric was shut off at the warehouse. Now this is donated space, which we only operate for about a month or two tops, and someone usually picks up the utility bills. Well we were able to get in, but we couldn't work at night because we couldn't see what we were doing. So my friend, George, paid the bill. We missed a few days of work. So she crammed last night and today in order to catch up. (I work hard, but she works so much harder than everyone else. It's her baby, and I'm one of many, many babysitters.)

Usually what happens on delivery day is that about 80 people and about 30 cars follow one another from house to house dropping off Christmas cheer. We usually have a lot to go into each house, but as we deliver, we find there are so many people, we are tripping over each other. As Becki says, it seems that there is one group that works their tails off packing the stuff, and then one group who show up for delivery. It's like they revel in the credit for all the work we do. It was frustrating that the first in line to go into each residence were the ones that never helped out. After about 50 people piled into a house or apartment, the rest of us would be standing out in the cold. So we stopped going after a few years. George was always upset with me because of it. 'You did the work. You take the credit.' Well, we know what we did. We don't need someone to tell us 'Good job.' Okay, it's good to hear though. I've told her every year, 'We don't care. We're just happy to do what we do.'
Anyway, Gloria wanted to experience delivery this year, so planned to take the day, and she and Jon would follow the group around. Jon wasn't looking forward to it. When they got in this morning, they found that they had to help finish packing before deliveries could be attempted. George took a new approach because of the emergency. Once each family was packed, she sent it out in one car, and then began packing another family. Jon was thrilled to be on his own and not following a mob. Not only did he and Gloria get to experience the best part of delivery, but so did everyone else. Top that off with the idea that they pushed 30 families today. The way they used to do it, it took all day to get rid of 18 or 19 families. Then they picked up where they left off on Sunday. George is thrilled. She isn't working at all tomorrow. Next year, she says, this is what they're going to do. 'Fine,' I told her. 'Expect us on delivery day then.'
Of course I had families I asked to have help for. When Jon called to say they were almost done, he asked to me to please pick up for those family. Bill and I delivered to four families. Becki asked for help for 2 families. She has the first delivery in Chris's car. They will deliver it out on Wednesday. Once the other family is packed, they'll deliver that as well. It was a good day all the way around.

Ed is working his butt off on his end of the semester assignments. For his Music Appreciation class, he was expected to take in two concerts. He searched around for something that would qualify as his teacher's idea of a 'concert' and decided that maybe he'd take in an opera. So a few weeks ago, he talked Jon into going with him. It turned out that the only thing available was a Wednesday afternoon performance. So Becki volunteered to take Jon's ticket, as Jon was suppose to be in St. Louis that day. Ed met her at the train station after both finished school, and then walked from there to the Lyric Opera House. Becki goes to school on Michigan Avenue, which is like eight blocks east of the Lyric. She doesn't know that part of Downtown Chicago any better than Ed does. Somehow they found their way there, and home again.
Anyway, long story short, they sat way up in the top balcony, and they loved it. The music, they said, was exquisite, although it was hard to see. They warned me that I could never sit that high.
Ed still had to squeeze in another concert in order to finish the class. So this time he went online and ordered tickets from the Chicago Symphony at the Civic Opera House. He wanted to know if I was interested. I jumped at it. I figured no matter how high we sat, I would make myself enjoy it. After all I enjoyed my one and only time in the upper deck at the Cell. Of course after the game I swore I would never do it again.
So, we paid $22 each for what was called Gallary Seats. When Ed and Becki's friend, Richard, found out we were going, he went on line and ordered a ticket for himself. He spent $40 for a ticket on balcony below us. And better yet, he drove. We were prepared to take the train. The Civic is on Michigan, just down the street from Becki's school. It wouldn't have been a long walk at all. The way it worked out though, we actually saved money because we parked for less than 4 round trip tickets would have cost. (Barely. Parking for the afternoon was $25.)
We got there very early and rode up the elevator together. Richard got off on the fourth floor and we got off on the sixth. We found our seats immediately. It was the very last row at the top of the balcony. As we slipped into the theater, I turned to face the wall, and hugged it until we found our seats. I actually sat down. Then I kind of quietly freaked out. There was no way on God's green earth I could sit there and watch. I had to leave immediately. I very quietly asked the first usher I saw if I could hear the music if I sat in the lobby. I was really too frightened to move my lips enough to shout. I mean every move made me feel I'd fall forward. I guess I must have really paled because he understood me immediately. He promised to find me a place in the 'ballroom' where I could watch it on TV, and then he escorted me out.
Later both Becki and Ed felt guilty about me not watching the performance live. They almost went looking for the ballroom at intermission. They would never have made it back ontime to take their places if they had. I guess they thought about that and stayed put. What they didn't know is I never made it to the ballroom. Instead the house manager found me a seat on the ground floor. I couldn't freakin' believe it. I had the very last seat in the very last row, all by myself, in a small theatre. I literally traded in my $22 seat for something worth quite a bit more.
Talk about incredible. We saw 'Beyond the Score', which was a discussion about how Gustav Mahler wrote his 4th Symphony. It took him 12 years. The first half of the program had actors reading out what he did, how and why he did it. In between explanations, the orchestra played the passages the actors talked about. I hate to admit I almost fell asleep. I caught myself a few times during that first part. Even so I'm glad I didn't. I understood more about the piece than I expected I would. When they came back from intermission, the Orchestra played the entire 4th Symphony without a pause. I looked for those things they talked about. At one point, the actors described how closely together Mahler had written a passage for a low clarinet. That was followed by a louder clarinet, and by a third clarinet which was lifted into the air. All three came across differently even though they played the same notes. At another place in the first movement the actors described how this passage was to be really creepy. Believe me, it was. Anyway, we really enjoyed ourselves. And I'm glad.
I didn't really expect my kids to open themselves up to this kind of experience. Like I told Bill, I remember when at that age when the subject of classical music came up among my friends, they rejected it as something weird or odd. I've always liked classical music. No, I like all kinds of music. Unfortunately, where I enjoy almost everything, I am not educated in anything outside of classic rock. Anyway, we have promised ourselves that we will return for another concert. It was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Merry Christmas - It's that time again.

A very happy Thanksgiving to all. I hope it went very well for everyone.

I want to say that I hate Christmas. I mean I seriously used to. I hated the idea that when Christmas came, my kids would want something that everyone of their friends would normally expect, and I wouldn't be able to give it to them. I know that sounds so shallow, but the fact is every mother wants the best for their children. I hated disappointing them. And I couldn't stand the idea that my kids were teased about not having what other kids have. Plain and simple, kids are cruel.

Life has changed since those days. We've been involved with our Angel Group now since Becki was 4, so that makes about 15 years. Almost immediately we realized that as bad as any of us thought we had it, we were really very lucky. We figured this out by reaching out to families who had insurmountable problems, more than just 'Why can't I have this special gift for Christmas," type of problem. None of us have cancer or other illnesses, and we should be around after Christmas.

I tell the story year after year about the 8 year old who requested a blender for Christmas one year. He wanted it because his mother had throat cancer and all her food had to be pureed. Then there's the story about how the woman who escaped an abusive marriage. She called a number she found in the Penny Saver for a moving company. The people showed up, loaded all her furniture into a van and skipped town. They even took her bird. To make matters worse, her son had diabetes, and she had to take him to the hospital daily so he could get his shot. I can't remember why she couldn't give it to him, but that's the way it went. And there were a couple of years when we helped families who were about to lose members. One young man was going to be forced out into the real world prior to finishing high school because his father was about to lose his life to cancer. His mother had died the year before.

After hearing stories like that, I can't feel sorry for my children, or anyone else's because they weren't going to receive the new hot toy. Life is just too cruel at times.

I held the second 'sort' party of the year tonight. When Becki graduated last year, I was afraid I wouldn't have any help sorting canned goods. Each year I've depended on my kids' friends. As the boys graduated, their friends have gone off in other directions. I thought maybe Becki would make new friends at her new school. A lot of the kids she is meeting are from out of town, and they live on campus, which is Downtown. Getting from there to here and back again would be a problem. Anyway, I was confident that I wouldn't get much help. So I told all three, 'Make some calls. Get me some help.' So tonight, all three called friends. Louis, who is always there for me, came again, as did Mikey, Ed D., Stephen, Mel, Chris, Matt, Matt, Yellow, Gloria, her friend Vickie, and Leon all showed up. We had so many people, we blew through three pallets of food in no time.

Just as I think my days are numbered or my resources have dried up, someone steps in to help. Each year five local schools have completed drives for me. This year I lost three because the principals have changed. As I'm wondering how I'm going to make up for them, three cemeteries, an office and a township office have stepped in to take their places. One more time, I am overwhelmed. And thankful.

Merry Christmas. It's really not a bad time of the year.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Veteran's Day and Fort Hood

I wanted to offer my thoughts on both Veteran's Day, and the tragedy at Ft. Hood. I've been feeling so crappy lately, I haven't done half of what I think about doing.

It's just that we can never say thank you enough to our vets. What I find unsettling though is the fact that they are fighting in Congress about benefits. This should be a no brainer. We are stretching our military as thin as we can, and we are over using each and every person we can. The thought that any man or woman serving in the U.S. military should ever have problems finding help, whether for a physical disability, a stress issue, or even help with education and loans, is unconscionable. How can we ask so much of so few and then turn our backs on them?

The bill before Congress has to do with veterans needing continuous care and support for their caregivers. I don't have a bill number, and I believe it is in the Senate now. The only thing I am aware of is that one man is holding up the vote because he wants to know how it is to be paid for. I could understand that if it weren't for the fact that he didn't think twice about voting for the war that put our military in this position to begin with. Shame on you, Mr. Senator.

Okay, I've expelled that, and I apologize because I hate allowing myself to form an opinion without having all the facts at hand. Too many politicians have voted on bills with less information, and look where it has gotten us. I don't believe in hunches unless desperate.

As far as the incident at Ft. Hood is concerned, I can only offer my condolences to family and friends. I can't imagine how it would feel to think my loved one is out of the line of fire only to be shot at home. There were two individuals from this area who died. It was hard to watch the coffin of the young man's passed by his high school on the way to the funeral chapel. It was like reliving the death of the Captain Ed wrestled with in high school. The Captain's loss touched this entire community. I can only imagine how hard it would be to know there are 13 communities suffering through this loss.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

H1N1, Birthdays, Cats, etc.

It's been a long week. I swear most of us have dealt with H1N1. Bill and I are still sick. It seems where one thing feels better, something else feels worse. I've had colds before, but this is worse than that. It has to be a flu. All last week I had swollen tonsils. That turned into a just a sore throat, a cold, stomach problems, etc. Right now my sinuses are draining, but my head is killing me and I'm constantly coughing. Bill isn't doing much better.

We told Ed to take a bus to the UCLA main campus this morning, and he begged. Bill finally relented. He got sick on the way home. I wouldn't have made it. I haven't been sleeping right. When I walked in the door after dropping Ed at the Uptown campus, I sat down in Bill's chair and immediately fell asleep.

This past weekend was Becki's birthday. I tried to make a big deal out of it. I made lasagna, and I bought a cake. We had presents and the whole deal. The thing is we were all so sick, no one said much of anything. Chris was worse than all of us. He looked gray. Gloria's birthday was also Saturday, and she was suppose to join us. We had gifts for her, too. (She and Jon are back together.) She had to work late, which is no surprise. It was really kind of a sorry affair. Where we are usually boisterous and loud, we were very quiet. The only good thing is that no one brought up this weekend last year. That's when we lost Pizza. (I still see her now and then. As my new friend, the ghost hunter said, cats have more of a tendency to return more often than other animals do. Oh, and we've seen Blacky around, too.)

After the party I had to run Uptown. The paper was holding a wine and cheese fundraiser. I wasn't asked. I was told. Which was fine. It was a very nice affair. It was held at an art gallery. I wanted to visit before and never got a chance. This time I had an excuse. I will say that some of the amateur artists in town are very good. I felt good. I told the lady about the school that Becki attends. "Oh, that's one of the best art colleges in the country. Have her bring her portfolio in, and I'll see what I can sell for her." Becki hasn't got anything to sell yet.

Which brings up two other things. First off, you can't count on male cats. As much as I love my two, they don't do their jobs. I hate mice. We had this one. It ran out of the weirdest places at the weirdest times. Always inconvenient. We'd be sitting quietly, watching TV, when suddenly Becki would scream. She'd grab a cat and throw him in her room, and he'd run out as fast as he could. It wasn't that they wouldn't hunt, it's just that they'd play with the mouse for a while. Then they'd get bored and wander off. J.J. finally finished it off and dumped it in someone's bed. Okay, gross. You have to understand cats. I love my cats. It's just that when they kill something off like that, they have to brag. What better way to see it than to put in bed with a loved one? I honestly think they take secret enjoyment out of the scream and cursing that follows the discovery.

So anyway, Becki came home one evening. "Did I tell you Lisa's cat is having kittens?"

"No more cats!" I told her. "It better be a female. No more males."

Well, you get the gist of the conversation. Now we're arguing names, and we haven't even seen it yet. A few weeks from now.... I think Rosey is a great name. Becki and Jon insists I need to see it first. Now how we're going explain why this kitten is wandering around the house to Bill, I don't know. I guess he'll deal with this when it happens.

Next thing we're hiding from him: Ed and I are talking about opening a coffee house. We are researching now. Hopefully this will work better than the last money making scheme we came up with.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Bitch Session

There are a few things I really want to get off my chest.

1. Big headlines yesterday! Kate Gosselin was ticketed on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. She drove 15 miles an hour over the speed limit and had to pay a $107 fine.

My bitch: Who cares? And why would anyone waste the time to report it?

2. Vice President Dick Cheney and Daughter, Loopy Liz, claim that President Obama is 'dithering' on sending more troops to Afghanistan. Fine, they have a right to say anything they want to. So do I. In my humble opinion, Cheney and Bush should have 'dithered' a little longer about going into Iraq. Maybe, just maybe, if they had, the war in Afghanistan would be over now, bin Laden would be in custody or dead, and we wouldn't have lost 4,000 men and women in Iraq. Maybe they would have thought this through and not just played it by someone's under educated gut. I also don't appreciate the fact that two men who actively avoided going to war themselves had the absolute gall to send others off to fight. Afghanistan was one thing. Iraq was quite another story.

No, I'm not a liberal. I am a moderate. Sarah Palin is an idiot, and Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Bill O'Rielly and the like are liars and hate mongers. Their behavior is immoral.

3. I disagree with several of President Obama's policies. I think he should press Congress harder about the public option. My teeth hurt and I can't afford to have them pulled. And it irritates the hell out of me to hear people like Congresswoman Foxx claim that health care reform would be worse than Al Qaeda. Ah, obviously she didn't lose anyone at the World Trade Center, or she wouldn't say something that stupid or heartless. But then again I never received any campaign funds from health insurers, and I never received so much as a Christmas bonus when I worked for AIG. I resent giving money to banks and insurance companies that are too big to fail. Why were they allowed to get that big?

My biggest political bitch of all of this is simply that it took years and years of abuse to get us into this mess. And here we are 8 months later. The economy is beginning to come back. Health care reform is almost a reality. I just pray health care reforms comes with a public option as I truthfully can't see how we can force competition and reduce premiums otherwise. We need to reform the financial system, and we need to replace a lot of the regulations the Roosevelt Administration placed on the financial industry so that we will never again go through another near meltdown. To finish that thought, though, my biggest bitch of all is simply that change doesn't happen over night. To expect everything to be running the way it was before we all went broke is dumb. It took time to get into this mess, it will take time to get out of it, too. Of course when someone is out of work, waiting is nearly impossible, especially where creditors are concerned.

4. Citibank raised their credit card rates to 30%. That's frickin' usury. For the love of God and Country, that has to be stopped.

5. Now my biggest bitch: I saw someone in my yard last night when I took out the trash. It had robes on. Not cool.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Really Good Day

So yesterday was a big day. I started the morning with a drop of gas. I got to the gas station, where Becki was suppose to put $5 in just so I could get her to and from the train station, only her ATM card wouldn't work at that pump. I dropped her off, and then drove to work to get my check. I figured I'd walk to the currency exchange rather than drive. I had that little gas that I honestly didn't think I'd make it to the closest gas station if I didn't walk.
Anyway, I'm walking down the street when this woman sees me. I wasn't sure if I should run, figuring she'd probably ask for a hand out. But then half way across she yells at me, "Do you belong to the United Way? We contribute to the United Way at work and I wanted to be sure you guys would get it." No, I told her we didn't. I was relieved anyway. I didn't have money for me let alone her. Then she starts telling me she saw me on cable access addressing City Council. She read my work and she knew of my connection with our Angel Group, but until she saw me, she didn't know what I looked like. She hugged me and told me that we helped her years ago when the IRS put a lien on her paycheck. She and her 6 kids were surviving on next to nothing. She didn't know how she would have made it without our help. She said she wanted to do something and thought she might be able to collect canned food at work. I'd never turn that down. She made my day. Right after I talked to her, I called my friend, George. I wanted to make her day, too.
Needless to say, we are up and running for the year, and it is going to be a good year. One of the Smith brothers called Ed to ask if we could use a food drive for Thanksgiving. His mother is a minister. She was asked by a cemetery administrator if she knew of anyone who could use it, and she thought of us. No, we don't do much at Thanksgiving, but, yes, Christmas is coming, and I really need all the food I can get my hands on. So they called me. There's this group of 3 cemeteries located on the same intersection, and owned by a much larger corporation. All three will be holding food drives for us. George told me, too, that a bank is going to hold a hygiene and beauty aids drive. It's been quite busy and things are coming together well.
So last night was the big night when the Library, in conjunction with the Historical Society and the paper, previewed the film we made back in September about 3 haunted homes in our town. And you know who owns the 3rd house. It was cool and a lot of fun besides. They showed about six minutes from each interview, and then asked the homeowner to talk about the house and answer questions. It was packed. The first lady, Janet, told about how she knows her mother and her ex husband are around, and how she's seen some people she didn't know in her home. She said she wasn't afraid at all, that if anything, her home has a homey feel to it. At the second house, the homeowner described waking up in the middle of the night and finding people walking through her bedroom and out through a wall. As things progress, she'd find these characters face to face with her. Our sensitives weren't comfortable with that. They felt that a portal had been opened up somehow, and that some of these characters were evil. And we talked about our place. On film, they showed Becki, Jen and I talking about taking photos, and how Becki would point at something and say, "Mom, quick, take a picture." And sure enough, there's this big orb in it. As I talked about this on film, they showed the photos. There were a lot of oo's and aw's. I was surprised how they showed the one of the baseball guy coming out of the bush, but not that one of the smoke that I put on the sidebar. Later we talked about the people running and walking down the street. We talked about shadow people, and fairies.
I loved the story the ghost hunter told about fairies. She said she visited a farm in Indiana. The owner said that there was a lot of activity in her barn and on the hill next to it. The ghost hunter brought a sensitive with her. The lady investigated, and came back with her assessment. There were fairies living there, and fairies are good luck, so she better feed them to keep them around. "So, what do you feed fairies?" Good question. Neither the lady, the sensitive nor the ghost hunter had any ideas as there aren't many fairies in North America. The sensitive told the lady to experiment. Leave different types of food out. So she did. She left chicken and beef, and toast, veggies and other things. She found that when the fairies liked something, that the food would disappear in the time it took to turn around. And it seems they like brownies, Cheetos, coffee and blended whiskeys best. The ghost hunter said that she has photos taken during another visit of people visiting the barn where the fairies were suppose to be. They would hold out both hands, each having something the fairies liked, and in the photos are these huge orbs landing on each hand. The food would just disappear.
Now I wonder if that lady would be interested in a trade. Say one hooded figure for a fairy? Well maybe not. Hopefully our hooded figures floated off somewhere else where people and dogs aren't going to be haunted by their presence.
The night ended with the ghost hunter selling and signing her latest book. I had read one of her earlier books about Chicago Cemeteries, which she wrote with her husband. I told her I would purchase this on payday. "No, let me give you one." So she signed a book and handed it to me. I can't wait to read it.
So, if you're interested in this subject, her book is called Chicago Haunts 3, and her name is Ursula Bielski. She's also wrote Chicago Haunts 1 and 2, and Chicago Cemeteries.
My only disappointment was to see myself on film. I'm very conscious of my weight, and I was concerned about it as we went into this project. I thought for sure I'd come across as this huge lump of blubber. Instead, I swear I came across as all boob. I knew I had a big rack. I didn't realize they took over everything.

Not Condiments - In other words, it's catch up time again.

I wish I had photos. This has got to be the most vibrant falls I've ever seen. The leaves are falling quickly now, and should be down before the weekend is over. I'm sad to see them go as this has been an early fall. I've enjoyed them as much as I could.
It's been very wet besides. Retention ponds all over the South Suburbs are near overflowing. I dropped Ed off at the main UCLA (The University Closest to Lagrange Avenue) campus last week. The pond there was creeping very close to the road. This part of Illinois is swamp land. The name Chicago is a bastardization of the Algonquin word meaning stinky place, as wild onions were suppose to grow in the swamps where Lake Michigan and the Chicago River met. As engineers historically have tried to move or remove wetlands, they found out water has a will of its own. Rather than trying to dry them up, engineers and architects are now installing retention ponds and water features in order to prevent flooding.
Jon bought a brand spanking new, okay not so new, Mustang. This is his dream car. Ever since he got his license, he's been talking Mustang. Which is fine and dandy. I'm happy he has a nice car, but...... He doesn't own a car anymore. The car owns him.
He and Gloria broke up. In spite of the new car, in spite of a decent job, in spite of all those good things in life, he was devastated. I'm only happy because he can spend more time here.
So my nephew, Christian, got married this weekend. He is Bill's brother, R's, son. We were all suppose to go, but we were counting on going in Jon's Pontiac Sun Fire. I don't want to complain, or seem ungrateful, but that Mustang kind of sucked enough cash out of the air that we backed out. We truly don't need to be sponging off of Jon for everything. So the other two sponged off him instead. Jon had asked Gloria to be his date weeks before they broke up, so she went. Becki brought Chris, and Ed joined them.
I've talked about rivalries before. In baseball, it's the Northside against the Southside. We get very hot on that subject. Now football is worse. It's the Bears against the Packers. Seeing that the wedding took place in Wisconsin, and the bride's family are Packer fans, and groom's family are Bears' fans, they did something with the cake decorations; half for Bears and half for Packers. When they cut and served it, Bear fans got the Packers' side, and Packer pans got the Bears' side. And Becki said something about small rocks. Apparently someone collected them and cleaned them. When wedding guests arrived, each person received one. He or she was suppose to squeeze their wish for the new couple into it, and then pass it onto the new couple after the ceremony.
I understand that there was a lot of carousing this weekend, and almost no one was exempt. Something about Ed ending up at a pizza parlor because he erased his pass card by placing it next to his cell phone. He couldn't get into his room. I also heard stories about the nieces and nephews which I won't repeat. But everyone had an extremely good time. Becki enjoyed the idea that brother-in-law N twisted his butt off. And as far as that goes, neither he, nor C., or R. were too sober. And the bride's family were in the same condition. "You wouldn't believe it, Mom," Becki told me. "Her family is as crazy as our is." Now figure everyone else went out after the wedding. Becki had the sense to go to bed. Leave it to her.
I'm sorry we missed it, although I wish the best for Christian and his new wife.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Father Came to Lunch Yesterday

I am very happy to report that Father Paul blessed my yard, my garage, and my sun porch yesterday. He sprinkled holy water and prayed, and then told the entity or whatever, to leave. Then I made lunch. We had a wonderful conversation. We told ghost stories, yes, that sounds silly considering the situation, but Father is as bad on the subject as I am. We even talked cemeteries.
To my surprise, Bill and Father had never met before. Bill is not Catholic. As I've said a zillion times here, we have a mixed marriage. (He's a Cubs fan and a Republican, too.) Although when it comes to religion, we don't disagree. He was never raised in a church, so when the subject of raising our kids Catholic arose, he was all for it. I think that even if he doesn't practise any religion, he misses it.
Anyway, Becki says the thing is not gone. Sheeba is returning to her old self though. She spent most of the day playing in the yard. In the last few months, she just refused to go anywhere near it. If I let her out of the van and I had parked on the street, she insisted on exiting on the driver's side, and then crossing over to Lawrence's side to wait until I got the door open. If I backed into the driveway, she insisted that I open the passenger side door for her so she didn't exit next to the yard. If I took her for a walk, I'd have to pull her down the sidewalk to get to the alley just because she had to pass the yard. She'd pull in the other direction. Now suddenly she is running down the sideyard looking for someplace to pee, and she is staying on this side of the street even if she had to walk by the yard. Becki had her in the yard this evening, but still insists that nothing has changed even if the dog is behaving.
Heard a good story the other day. My great nephew, Jay, had a conversation with my SIL, D, who is his grandmother and his Dad. Now Jay is 4, and too smart for his own good. Jay said,"Tim is a warewolf, Grandma. He got bit by a wolf and has to be tied up at night before the moon comes out. Cuz otherwise he turns into a warewolf and goes wandering around. He told me this. He says it's true. I have to stay away from him at night because he'll try to bite me when he's a warewolf, and I'll turn into a warewolf."
Jay's Dad, Rich, asked him. "Jay are you making this up?"
"No," Jay said. "If I was making this up, I would have started this with 'Once upon a time.'"

Friday, September 25, 2009

Good News

Father called me yesterday. I didn't give him enough faith or credit. He hasn't been ignoring me, although I wouldn't blame him. Like I said I must have looked like a whack job when I rushed him demanding his help. He's simply overwhelmed. He'll be here on Tuesday. Thank God.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wednesday Evening Catch Up, and I Don't Mean Condiments!

As I said in the last post, we had a very big weekend. Friday, after the filming, I attended my 40th grammar school reunion. Damn those people got old. Only kidding. It was a wonderful affair.
There were 54 kids in my class. After graduating in 1969, I went on to our local high school. My parents had split up at the time, and we were trying to sell our house. We finally moved in December to the town I live in now. I transferred into the same high school where Bill graduated from, and eventually our children. Where I have wonderful memories of my grammar school class, I figured I had lost our connectivity because of the move. I learned the night of the reunion that only about half of the kids I graduated grammar school with went on to graduate from the same high school I first attended. A lot transferred to religous high schools, or moved away as I had. Once we had our reunion, I learned that about half the class had left the State. People came in from Texas, California, Massechusetts, Iowa, etc. Out of 54, about thirty had made it. I also learned that we lost four. One died in a motorcycle accident shortly after high school graduation. Another died of a suspected drug overdose. Yet another had a genetic disease and the last suffered a brain annurism. That was very hard to hear.
Anyway, we hired a trolley to take us through the old neighborhood, and to pass the homes we lived in in 1969. We stopped at our grammar school and even took a tour. The new principal explained the changes. Where we stopped in what used to be the 7th and 8th grade classrooms, she explained that now the primary grades use the first floor. When we graduated, we moved up to the third floor. It was then what we called 'the branch.' Part of the freshman class then took classes there before moving to the main campus. Now it is 7th and 8th grade. We enjoyed the changes. Mainly the track desks were replaced with modern desks, although the wood floor, complete with nail holes from the tracks, were still bright and shiny. There were WPA murals in the auditoriums. I barely remember them, although knowing they were WPA, I had to take time to examine them. The Principal said that they were just cleaned and restored. They depicted 4 scenes from Illinois history.
Once we had our fill, we checked out the playground. When we were young, it was black top. Now it is a garden complete with walking path. There is new playground equipment in the back. We wondered aloud about how we played on that blacktop without fracturing our skulls. We each suffered from scraped knees and elbows, but no worse than that.
We got back on the trolley. Our next stop was the restaurant where we held our graduation dinner. No one could remember what room it was held in, and in fact a lot of us couldn't remember the dinner. I was surprised to be in the half that forgot. It occurred to me later that one of my most precious memories of the wickiest teacher God ever created happened there. This teacher was absolutely hateful. Still, she was possibly the best teacher I ever had. She taught me more about writing than any teacher I ever had. It wasn't until our graduation dinner that I had a moment to talk to her one on one. She was enormously proud of us that night. It surprised me then how much she cared.
We finally made our way to a country club just inside the Chicago city limits, only blocks from our old school. We took time then to catch up. It was almost funny to see each of us running up to one another, saying, 'How are you? What do you do for a living and how many kids do you have?' We were going to learn as much as we could about each other in the first few minutes. What I enjoyed a lot was that a lot of those who were closest in school sought each other out and stuck together throughout the night. I truly enjoyed myself.
Saturday night I was invited to an old time sleep over, like what we used to have in 7th and 8th grade. I passed on it because it was Bill's birthday. We threw him a surprise party at a local bar-b-que restaurant. The food was great and he enjoyed himself. He said it was possibly the best birthday he ever had. I'm glad. He deserved as much. Jon paid for it and Becki organized it. I was suppose to do the invites and make the reservation. I couldn't. Bill has control of the phone. Please understand that he isn't a controlling person, just lonely since leaving work. If I were to take the phone in the other room to make calls, he'd be right there, checking on who I was calling and adding his own two cents to our conversation. Needless to say, he'd make it difficult. I'm just glad he enjoyed himself.
As I said in my last post, I contacted a priest about clearing our yard. He promised to call me Monday. I finally called him. He made an excuse and had his secretary say he'd call back. He never did. I want to be angry with him except for two things. First off, I asked him to do something that is both frightening and odd. I must have sounded like a whack job on Saturday when I charged the Confessional, demanding that he help me. Secondly I don't want to feed my anger into the thing in the yard. If Father has decided that he doesn't want to do this, I will have to accept it. I was told by the 'sensitive' to bless the yard myself. Once I can get some holy water, I will. In the mean time, Sheeba has decided that she is no longer comfortable going back there again.
I had to work last night. It was an unusual night which I truly enjoyed. You see I have this friend. She's fiesty to say the least. She invited everyone in town to attend a block party on Saturday, which most of us did. I dropped in in spite of all I had to do that day. Her aldermen didn't bother. Last night she got up in front of City Council and demanded their resignations because they didn't represent the people. They never walk her part of the neighborhood except when looking for votes. Why weren't they there? Both alderman took offense. One was out of town that weekend and had told her that he would be. The other claimed he donated money for the party and that she should be thankful for that. My friend got angry and said she would like to talk to him outside. After five minutes of 'bring it, bring it,' from either side, my friend declared, 'don't you dare threaten me! I'm a brown belt in karate! You'll see what happens if you take me outside!'

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I Told You So!

Before I start this, I should point out that Sheeba has decided that she wants nothing to do with the yard. We have to beg her to go out anymore, and literally push her out the door. More often than not, someone will walk her when she has to relieve herself, rather than fight with her. I thought for sure I had spoiled her rotten. Becki though told me how she and Chris pulled up one day and Sheeba was sitting in a lawn chair, and refused to move. Becki said she was terrified, and it wasn't until Becki went in the yard for her, that she came out.
So as Paul Harvey would say, "And now for the rest of the story."
We had a big weekend. I posted that other photo because I couldn't figure out how to email it to someone, and I couldn't find it in Kodak. Which relates to what I did on Friday morning.
Our library and City, working in conjunction with each other (It's a joke if you are familiar with our town), are putting together a Halloween program with one of Chicago's big ghost hunters.
A few weeks back the paper advertised for volunteers who live in haunted homes to allow a camera crew to film there. Well I volunteered to let them sit outside my home and talk. Most of my ghost stories have to do with what happens outside my home. Along with the ghost hunter, we had two 'sensitives'. I guess that's the new word for 'medium.'
On the subject of mediums, let me say this. Becki has told me a lot over the years, all of which I've taken with a grain of salt. This stuff is hard to believe, especially when it's your little girl who is blowing your mind away. I love to tell a good ghost story, and I include a lot of what Becki tells me, but it's hard not to be skeptic.
Anyway, we went to two other houses before coming to ours. At the first, the lady told of how her husband played the piano shortly after his death so her daughter would know he was okay. She told of seeing people on the stairwell, and movement in other places. The sensitives explained what they saw, which pretty well matched up with what the lady saw.
Anyway, we moved on to the second house. This one was on the same street I live on, but a block down. Jen joined me just as we pulled up at the other house. She wanted to tell her stories, but her mother didn't want to let a camera crew in. So Jen walked Superbaby over in his stroller. As we're coming up to the house, she tells me, "Mom, this street isn't right." I kind of blew her off, thinking she's playing games with me. A few minutes later we came across one of the sensitives. She was leaning against a tree. She starts telling us that when she got out of the car, her feet began to come out from under her. She says, "You see there's no birds or squirrels on this street? There's something wrong with this whole block." I almost lost it. First because of what Jen said, and then because my stories have more to do with what happens outside than what happens inside. (There's enough going on inside my house that I would have called anyway. Outside is worse.) I never quite got the story about what's happening inside the second house before we moved on. I had a lot to concentrate on.
Anyway, we start moving down the street towards our house when Becki and Chris caught up. Becki said she ran to the train from school because she was afraid of missing the interview. Chris picked her up from the train station and hurried her home. I introduced the newcomers around as we moved.
Anyway, on to our house. Sensitive # 1 asked if she could see the dog. Well, Sheeba is in the house, barking her fool head off. I went in and put her leach on her and brought her out. The Sensitive #1 took her for a walk. Now at the other two houses Sensitive #2 wandered around, in and out of the houses and around the property, as did Sensitive #1, although #1 spent time with any dogs living in the homes. The pair operated separately, and away from the home owner and others. I mean they didn't just disappear, but as we're talking in the living room, or on the porch, we could see either of these ladies, wandering the yard, or taking the stairs inside. At my house, Sensitive #2 steps out of the car and a few steps away from it. Then she turns around and got back in the car. Okay, she must be tired.
So we sit down in chair in front of house. As the camera man is setting up for this interview, J.J. walks out of the bushes and rubbed against his leg. Now just imagine. After all of these ghost stories, these sensitives (two very nice ladies, by the way) telling us what they feel and see, and suddenly this guy is greeted by a black cat. He freaked! Sorry it happened, but it was funny.
We sat down for the interview. I don't remember who decided that Jen and Becki should participate, but I'm glad they did. We told our stories, each one adding our own prospective. About the lady in the hallway, about Fred in the car and the guy peeking in our window at night. Even about Elbows, and the shadow that walks between Lawrence and Mel's sidewalk. And how many times Becki has done it to me where we're walking or driving, and she tells me, "Quick, Mom, take a picture." Sure enough, there's a huge orb somewhere. As I said, I never want to believe her, but just as I think she can't prove it to me again, she does. Anyway, she's telling about her the photos she took, like the one below, or the one on the right side panel of this blog. Someone asks her what she sees and how often. She tells him, once or twice a week she comes across something unusual. Then she says, "There's something wrong with the yard. I hate it. And the garage is worse. The dog hates it, too."
We finish up with another story, when the director waves Sensitive #1 forward. She's still has my dog in tow. Now my dog is kind of calm. Kind of. Of all the years I've had her, she's never calm around new people. Anyway, Sensitive #1 tells the narrator that the dog hates the yard, and worse yet the garage. That I need to comfort the dog and let her know that it will be all right. And it will, too. Then she tells me that I need to lay salt around the perimeter of the yard and to bless the yard with holy water. Asked why, she said, "I see hooded figures in the yard."
The narrator asked her, "You mean KKK or something else?"
She said, "Oh, definitely ceremonial. The yard is bad. The garage is worse."
I'm having difficulty catching my breath, and my daughter is standing there with her arms crossed. "I told you so." I don't know which is worse knowing. That my yard is haunted with something evil, or that my daughter has been watching this for the past 18 years. Damn! My poor heart!
So, yard is salted, priest is coming, dog is regularly doing her business in the yard and not afraid to be there. But daughter is still saying, "I told you so!"

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Town Hall Meetings and other B.S.

I saw it on the news tonight that someone broke a leg at one of the Democratic town hall meetings. Apparently the man was protesting health care reform and got into a shoving match. He has no health insurance at all, the very thing he was protesting changing, and is now looking for donations to help pay his medical bills.
I'm very sorry this happened. No one should get hurt. On the other hand, no one is going to pay for to fix my teeth and they won't fix themselves. I, and 39,999,999 other Americans, do not have health insurance. And I can guarantee you that no insurance company in this country would allow someone to hire me if it means insuring me. I am 54 years old and I am fat. That has HEALTH HAZARD written all over it. Even if I did have insurance at this point, I'd be afraid to go to the dentist for fear that my insurance company won't pay to have that tooth removed, although it might pay to have the one next to it removed. That is if it wasn't infected and didn't need pulling. You get my point.
Okay, I am pissed off. One more time. I am pissed off about the lies, the hypocrisy and the stupidity that is happening in this nation. Death panels? Euthanasia? Forced sex changes and abortions? The very people who are pushing these lies to begin with are the people who are practising what they are protesting about. Ask around. You only need to talk to a handful of people before meeting someone who have been denied coverage for much needed procedures. Who do you think is dictating your care? Your doctor? WRONG. Ask Barak Obama how his mother died. Ask him how many hours she spent on the phone begging her insurance company to cover much needed care only to be denied again and again and again. No one should have to die like that. Not here. Not in this country. Unfortunately it happens day in and day out. The insurance companies call that doing business. I call it indiscriminate euthanasia. They aren't targeting old people. They are targeting profits.
They have tons of money to spend because they aren't paying it out to their insureds. What makes me more angry are the politicians with their hands out for lobbyist money. These are the ones who preach at us about Christian and family values. And then there are the jackasses on radio and TV who be cry the unfairness of it all. After all, Pelosi and Obama are Nazis, and God help us where the next phony birth certificate is coming from.
These outbreaks at town hall meetings were at first orchestrated. Now there's very angry people out there who have been lied to and are tired of it. The sorry part of it is that most of them have no clue when they were lied to and by whom. Most people attending these functions are either hard core Republicans, lobbyists or people who had no idea who their Senators or Congressmen were until they swallowed the euthanasia line hook, line and sinker.
What scares the hell out of me is that someone is going to get hurt. You have radio and TV morons on one side calling for action and damning anyone who disagrees with them as Nazis or unAmerican, and you have lunatics who think they're being called to action. From what I understand someone brought a gun to one of these events and left it behind. I can just see it. A riot or a nut job with a weapon. It's all the same. Someone will get hurt and guess who won't claim any responsibility even though they have been pushing it all along. It won't be the politicians, the lobbyists or hate TV and radio hosts.
Come on, people. Use some common sense. Who's into euthanasia? Where is it written? Well guess what? The bill isn't finished yet. Maybe if we had something concrete in front of us, it would help to sooth this argument. Until that time, people, use your brains. Think this through. The Democrats are far from guiltless in any situation. This, though, rests in the laps of the Republicans and the so called Blue Dog Democrats. And lets not forget the people who have the most to lose if health care reform goes through. And that's the people with the money. The lobbyists and the insurance companies.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I apologize one more time about my not being here. I am actively looking for more work. I write a set number of articles, although it's never enough to pay my bills. It's spending change at best. I really need to concentrate on that right now. Money is tight, although I can honestly say I have never spent one day as a married person with 3 children to feed and not be broke, or damned near. The few times we had a couple of extra bucks, it just seemed we were precariously close to losing it.
Okay, bitch session over. The fact is I am a very lucky person. Each person has something to bear. My problems have to do with money more often than anything else. My children are healthy and my husband hasn't fallen ill this summer. And even if I'm not making much money, I am doing something that I love. So far, so good.


Next thing on my list. I swear I saw the dumbest thing I ever saw today. Mikey, my big mean and stupid cat, saw two dogs coming his way. The dummy just looked at them. They wanted him so bad and he had no idea why. He just sat there watching as these two mutts went nuts. Our neighbors, the dogs owners, saw Mike sitting there and tried to encourage him to move. Nothing. The dogs kept pulling closer and Mike didn't flinch. The neighbors tried to to control their dogs as Ed ran for Mike. The rest of us stood at the window with our mouths hanging open. I could just see us losing another cat. I couldn't fact that. It was just so hard to believe he sat there doing nothing. The neighbors started laughing, and Ed started laughing, and Mike just watched. We figued no one would save Mike's furry rear end. Once the dogs realized that Mike wasn't moving, they sniffed him and walked off. We laughed. I mean how stupid can this cat be? Then it occurred to us. He doesn't know what an angry, cat hating dog is. He sleeps with this big white thing we call a dog. Before we got him, he slept with three other dogs. He hates cats. Heck, he thinks he's a dog. So why would he be afraid? Dumb dog. I mean cat.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Did ya see it? Did ya see it?
Oh, my God!
Chicago has been lit up all weekend long. That was the single most fantastic game I ever heard of. Not to mention Wise's catch was possibly the greatest catch I've ever seen!


What a game!

If you missed it, Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buerhle threw a perfect game against someone. I can't even remember. It is the second in White Sox history, the last being in 1922, and something like the 18th in baseball history. From what I understand, Buerhle and his catcher, A. J. Pierzinski were joking about it beforehand. Pierzinski wasn't catching that day. He said somthing like, "Hey, throw a no hitter." And Buerhle said, "I already have one of those." and A.J. said, "Then throw a perfect game." So, I guess he did.

But then again, he almost didn't. Bottom of the 8th, 2 outs, and someone hit a ball almost out of the park. It should have been out. It would have been out. Except that Dewayne Wise jumped into the air like he was coming off a trampoline and robbed the batter of a homerun. Un-freakin- believeable! The most unbelieveable thing about this, Ozzie had to send someone down to the minors. He decided to send Brian Anderson because Brian had an option left and Dewayne didn't. Dewayne also has speed and a better bat. Ozzie sent him out in the 8th to replace whoever was in the outfield. Word is that's bad luck. So is talking about it. From what I understand, that's all they talked about in the dugout. Broke every rule and still pulled it off! Damn, what a game! I think I'll rent it on pay for view, considering I only saw the highlights on the evening news.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

This Week

I know I'm a few days late here, but that's been my week so far. I don't know if anyone born after 1969 can appreciate what a big deal the moon landing was. We had accomplished the unimaginable. So unimaginable, that there are still people 40 years later who are convinced that the landing was shot in a hanger on a Texas air base. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. But then again maybe JFK still lives on a private island somewhere in the Caribbean. Whatever.
In July of 1969 I was 13 years old. My 14th birthday was just a few days away. I celebrated both events in Troy, Wisconsin, at the Juniper Knoll Girl Scout Camp. For two week, girls from the Chicagoland area swam, hiked, slept in tents, enjoyed nature and each other. To celebrate such an incredible achievement, we gathered on the beach. We sang, and told stories. One had to do with the Indians of the area. Someone ran a wire from a close by tree to a fire pit. That person made a cage from chicken wire and loaded it with gas soaked sanitary pads. At just the right moment during the story about the Indians, that person lit the pads on fire, and released it from where it was hooked on the tree. It looked like fire flew from heaven, striking the logs in the fire pit, and making them burst into flames. As the fire burned, we continued to sing long into the night.
I chose this to write about because of the changes this has made, most of which were unexpected. By now we thought we'd have a settlement on the moon and would be exploring Mars. Instead we have better computers. I heard someone say that the our cell phones have 69 times more memory and function than computers way back then. We've made incredible advances in medicine, in weaponry and in all phases of communication.

I am sad to report that one of my favorite authors, Frank McCourt, died of melanoma on July 19th. He wrote Angela's Ashes, 'Tis, and Teacher Man. I haven't read the last one, although I very much enjoyed the first two. I recommended Angela's Ashes to my friend, George. She damn near hit me with the book a couple of days later. "Damn it," she said. "Don't ever bring me a book like this again. It was the most depressing book I ever read. I couldn't put it down. It actually kept us up all night."
Angela's Ashes was about McCourt's childhood in Limerick, Ireland. It is the tale of the most miserable upbringing any child should suffer through. In spite of that, there are places where one can't help but laugh out loud.

Speaking of the moon landing, Walter Cronkite, the most trusted man in America, covered it. This past week we were reminded of just how emotional he could get on occasion. When the word came out about the actual landing, Cronkite showed his wonderment. When JFK died, he shed tears on air. In spite of that, he reported real news. He was everything a real journalist wanted to be. He reported without bias, without cherry picking, and without comment. Nothing like Fox News and MSNBC is today.
Walter Cronkite also died on the 17th. According to Wikipedia, the cause was cerebral vascular disease.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Bye-Bye Blacky, Part 2

October 13, 1996 to July 20, 2009
We miss you so badly.

When I was little, we would visit relatives in Wisconsin. They had farms. And they had cats and dogs running lose. Every year one of us would fall in love with one of them and beg to bring it home. Almost every year my Dad would give in and say, "Sure, why not." Before the year was out, he'd get drunk and take the cat or dog for a ride. If he didn't drop them off out by the Doty Road dump, he'd leave them in the forest preserves. If not that, he dropped them at the Humane Society. One year he left so many animals there, they sent him a Christmas card. Everytime he did that we were devastated. We had fallen in love. And then they were gone.


That kind of upbringing can really affect a child. It did us. All four of us decided that if we take on the responsibility of a pet, we would live up to it and not dump it or give it away. It's one of the reasons I had so many animals at one time as an adult. My boss dumped Sheeba on me. And Becki brought Mike home in a carrying case. His owner was moving back to California and had to get rid of one of her cats. I said I'd keep either until I found a good home for them. Well I guess I did. Our home.

When I started this in the last post, I said guilt. I meant it, too.

Once upon a time we had a very close friend. I'll call Maizie. She baby sat for our boys when they were really young. At first her behavior seemed a little eccentric. As time went on, it became worse. She needed to work and was very capable of doing anything she put her mind to. She was intelligent. If she allowed herself to, she could learn anything she wanted to. When it came to job hunting she froze. Maizie couldn't make herself ask an employer for an opportunity. She couldn't take care of herself yet she was convinced that everyone she knew couldn't survive without her help. Her interference became so bad we had to step back from her. I've always felt guilty about that, like we turned our back on her when she needed us the most. She had gotten us to the point where we were worried about our sanity and the health of our children in her hands. We were desperate.
Maizie had a dog. That was it. She lived in her parents' house by herself, just her and her dog. The dog was as obnoxious as she was. Once we cut ties, she picked up another dog. And then another. And another. And quite a few cats in between. At one point Maizie had 17 dogs and I don't know how many cats. When I worked at the bakery, she would come in to update me about their hi jinks. I know she showered or bathed daily, and I know how fussy she used to be about herself. By that time, she stunk. She smelled of that odor dogs have when they have a skin infection, only stronger.My boss would litterly have a fit. One of the strongest selling points of baked goods is the smell. Maizie's odor covered up the smell of sugar and butter, and all the good things that went into all the goodies.

I went to her house one day when another friend wanted a cat. Things had changed a lot since my last visit. There were dogs everywhere. And the house didn't smell like pee, but like pure ammonia. It made my eyes water. I was told that the dogs stayed upstairs in the house while the cats stayed in the basement. As bad as the upstairs smelled, I could only imagine what the basement smelled like. I wouldn't go down when my other friend chose a cat.

Maizie honestly thought that she was 'rescuing' lost animals. She'd take them in and give them a home. As I said, she didn't work. She couldn't support herself, but she thought she could support these animals. Her neighbors objected to the smell and the mess, and she couldn't understand why. There were kind souls in town who brought her cat and dog food. I tried to tell people, 'no. Don't do that.' They said they realized that they were just making a bad problem worse. They felt so badly for the animals.
A year or so ago, the bank repossessed the house. Maizie took ill and needed transport to the hospital. The fire department came in and carried her out. The next day they took 7 dogs from the house. From what a firefighter told me, the dogs were in very poor health. I was told the other dogs died from old age or illness, or were poisoned by the neighbors. The firefighter also told me that he knew nothing about cats. I tried to encourage the authorities to check it out. I don't know if anyone ever did. I pray I was wrong.
As I said, I still feel guilty, even sick about the entire situation.
Now let me get back to my situation. The economy sucks.
Life was much different when I got Patch or Pizza. The year between when Pizza came to us and when she gave birth, life had changed. Money was tight. Where I should have had Pizza fixed immediately, I didn't. The money I should have used on her went to other things. Blacky actually had gotten pregnant a third time. At that time, we had taken out a loan in order to buy cars and make a few repairs. Anyway, we used some of it to have the animals fixed and get their shots. We found out then that Pizza had peritonitis. The vet told us that if we kept up with a peritonitis vaccination, we could keep her from succumbing to the illness. For some reason, not only did the vaccination prevent the illness if given prior to exposure, but it seemed to hold off the onset of further symptoms if the cat already had it. He also told us that if Pizza had it, the other two would get it. He asked me if he should test them. I told him no. What was the point? It wasn't a matter if they would get it, but when. And the treatment was the same. We kept it up as long as we could.
As I said, the economy sucks. I swear last year I fractured one of the long bones in my leg when I slipped on ice. I couldn't put any pressure on it for quite a while after. I lived with it. I don't have insurance, and I sure as hell didn't have the money sitting around to pay for X-rays and to have the bone set. This summer I have several infected teeth. I'll live with that for a while longer as well. How the hell was I suppose to take care of a cat? I don't know if either Pizza or Blacky could be saved, but I do know that I could have had them put to sleep a few days earlier if I had the money to do so. I also know that I will never, ever bring another animal into this house until I can afford to take care of it. I also know that I couldn't turn out J.J., Mike or Sheeba anymore than I can my kids. I miss my babies so badly.