22ndJanuary

Fuzzy Socks

Definitely on the chilly side today.  One of those days when I grab the first pair of fuzzy socks in the drawer.

I’m reminded of a Beth Hart song this morning:

Take it easy on me, I break easily, This still butterfly will learn to fly eventually,

Feeling a bit fragile. I think I’ll get back on track today but not all the way.  Fix a healthy dinner and read the Bible.  Do some housework.

I had an interesting encounter yesterday.  I went to the salon to get my hair cut.  The new method is to drive up to the door, they send someone out to the curb to take your temperature and ask if you’re feeling sick, if you’ve been exposed to Covid, if you’ve traveled out of the country, etc.  Then they give you a buzzer and tell you to wait in your car until they page you.  They have a small reception area and it would force patrons to sit next to each other if you waited inside.

I was sitting in my car playing solitaire on my phone when there was a knock on my window.  A woman said her car battery was dead and she wondered if I would pull up in front of her car and give her a jump.  Of course I said “yes”.  It wasn’t a problem at all.  She had jumper cables and she did all the work.  All I did was pull up and pop the hood.  She attached the cables and told me she had AAA but they told her it would be an hour and a half before they could get there so I was more than happy to help.  It didn’t work so I got out and tried to help her and make sure she had done it correctly.  She asked if we could just give it a couple of minutes and see if it would start.  I told her I was more than happy to do so and if they paged me, I would tell them to give me a couple of minutes.

It just didn’t work.  We tried for several minutes and then AAA called her back and said they would be able to get there in 20 minutes so we gave up.  I got back in my car and continued my solitaire game.  A couple of minutes later, she knocked on my window and handed me a ten dollar bill.  I absolutely refused to take it but she was insistent.  She tossed it into my car and kept insisting.  My car is notorious for eating things.  I reached for it to give it back to her and it slipped between the seats.  While I was digging for it, my beeper went off and I had to go in so I thanked her and assured her it hadn’t been any trouble and I was more than happy to have helped her.

I went inside for my appointment.  When I was finished and returned to my car, she was gone and there was an envelope under my windshield wiper.  I removed it.  It said, “For my guardian angel!”  Inside the envelope was a really sweet card and a chocolate bar.  She wrote the nicest note inside telling me how much she appreciated that I would take time and help her, a perfect stranger, in her time of need.  There was a business card inside, she said her husband was an attorney and if I ever needed anything, she would love to return the favor.  It made me feel good to know such a simple thing would mean so much to her.  Her note talked about how she was amazed that during the pandemic, I would take the time to talk with her and try to be helpful.  She said I was an amazing person.

It’s a little sad, don’t you think, that such a simple kindness would mean so much to her.  What kind of world are we living in where someone would think I was “amazing” and a “guardian angel” for doing such a simple thing.  She actually did more for me than I did for her.  We couldn’t even get her car to start.  Such random little acts of kindness should be happening all the time.  I don’t know why they don’t.  I remember a few weeks ago when an elderly, heavy set woman stepped off the curb at the gas station and fell.  Of course, I rushed over to help her.  Got her up and back in her car.  Asked if she was okay and if she needed me to call anyone.  Pumped her gas for her while she sat in her car.  She, too, went on and on about how much I had helped her.  Maybe people have forgotten that it is better to give than to receive.  Little things like that are blessings.  They remind us that we are here to love and help one another.  It must be a very hard world when people are overwhelmed at such simple things.  We should do no less.

21stJanuary

Hanging On

Now it’s been another week since I blogged.  Terry was supposed to come last week but he did something to his neck.  He said he didn’t do anything, that it’s caused by a pinched nerve.  I don’t know about that stuff.  All I know is that he suddenly had excruciating pain and he said it actually brought him to tears.  He said he was in so much pain he was shaking all over and could barely move.  I asked him if he wanted me to come up there and he told me there was nothing I could do.  I let it go a day but it was even worse the second day so I got things caught up here and drove up to St. Louis to try to help.

Poor Terry was miserable.  Couldn’t turn his head to the right and couldn’t get comfortable to sleep.  I stayed a few days and did the housekeeping and fixed dinner.  He improved a little bit each day and I came back home yesterday.  He’s still having trouble with it but it’s just going to take time for him to get back to normal.  He’s not in so much pain now and I think he’ll be okay.

Terry has COPD and it gives him a lot of trouble so he’s on the fast track for the Covid 19 vaccine.  His appointment is February 2nd.  I won’t be able to get it until sometime this spring.  I’ll continue to be careful and hopefully remain healthy until then.

My diet is in the toilet.  I’m still stressed about money and really struggling.  It makes it difficult for me.  It doesn’t help that I’m always running up to Terry’s.  I know he tries but it’s disruptive to my routine and then I have to get motivated and focused all over again.  It would be so much easier if I wasn’t so depressed.  I’ve gotten down to bare bones.  No savings left.  Two payments behind on my mortgage.  I owe two years of property taxes.  My car tags are expired.  I try to keep in mind that I’m so much luckier than a lot of people.  I can pay my utilities and keep us all fed.  I pay my car payment and everyone’s phone bill.  Still have insurance and all the necessities but I’ve pretty much given up on unemployment.  I’ve lost faith in the system.

Our government has never done much for me.  I’ve never been on unemployment, never been on food stamps or welfare.  I’ve always worked hard and done the best I could.  The court system let me down when they gave Stacy custody of the kids several years ago.  That didn’t work out and she eventually gave up and I wound up raising them anyway.  I lost faith in the child support system because she never paid it and they never did anything about it.  I lost faith in Social Security because I never got any and I didn’t get Donnie’s survivors benefits.  Steven was approved for social security disability but they paid him for 1 1/2 years and then decided to take it all back so they didn’t do anything for him either.  I worked hard to get my business going and then they shut it down due to Covid and haven’t given me a penny of unemployment even though I was approved close to a year ago. I like to think I’m a strong woman but it just seems like I can’t count on anything or anyone except myself and I’m getting old and tired.

No, I don’t have any faith left in our government.  Good thing I have faith in God.  He won’t ever let me down.

13thJanuary

WTF

Crazy times we’re living in.  I’m tired and depressed.  I haven’t blogged for a week.  It’s been frustrating.

I went to Terry’s.  Bless his heart.  He bent over backwards to support me on my diet.  We dined on steamed broccoli, kale, almond milk, and cauliflower.  I snacked on cherry tomatoes, tangerines, and dill pickles. I didn’t work out.  He doesn’t have a treadmill and I’m not likely to bounce around his living room doing aerobics so I was pretty sedentary.  My plan was to start dieting hard.  Keep my calories extremely low for the first week and then start eating a little healthier.  Always worked well in the past. I came home on the 10th and weighed myself.  Ten days or extreme dieting and several days of treadmill.  I didn’t lose an ounce.  I couldn’t believe it.  Not an ounce!  Kept my calories down to around 600 or 700 each day and didn’t lose any weight at all.

I was disgusted.  It hit me hard.  I’m tired and I’m depressed.  Worried sick about money.  Really struggling hard.  It was a big blow on top of everything else.  So I gave up.  Just sat around for a couple of days being depressed.  Eating whatever I wanted.  I’m not saying I went wild and ate everything in sight but I just cooked normal meals and ate them.  Had a couple of pieces of cake.  Went for seconds a couple of times.  Yesterday was a really bad day.  I had asked my mortgage company for a three month extension.  They exempt you from payments for three months and just add it to the end of the term.  They turned me down.  They already gave me one for April, May, and June and I would have to fill out a 12 page request form, attach my tax return from last year, attach all my bank statements from the last six months and a list of all my expenses to appeal their decision.  I’m not going to do all that just to be turned down.  So I just said, “Forget it.”  Then I went to my bedroom and had a good cry.  I just stayed in my room all day, periodically crying and watching TV.

But I’m not a pessimist.  I’m back up today.  Back on my feet.  Back on my diet.  I weighed myself and it shows I’ve gained a pound.  Really????  Give me a break.

I’ll go through my bills.  Try to figure out what I can do so I can make a house payment.  I have a very large balance on a credit card and it’s eating me alive.  I don’t share my finances with Terry.  It’s not his problem but he’s always after me.  He knows I worry and he wants to help.  I’m not the kind of person to accept that kind of help but I did tell him about my credit card one day and how it eats me up.  I didn’t really understand about credit cards.  All of this financial stuff is new to me after Donnie died.  I had a credit card for $15,000 with zero interest.  I thought that was great.  The house needed a lot of work, the fence was falling down, the driveway was full of holes and I thought that was the solution.  It had an interest rate of 24% but I thought zero interest for the first year meant anything I charged the first year would never have interest charged on it. I know…really stupid… but that’s what I thought.  At the end of the year, they added all this interest on it and it skyrocketed.  I only manage to pay a little more than the minimum payment each month. Terry wanted to take out a loan and pay it off for me and I absolutely would not allow it.  Not going to happen.

Yesterday he suggested that he take out a loan and list me on it too.  That way I could pay off my credit card and have an account at a much lower rate.  It would make the payments a lot less.  Again, I told him no but he said he’s going to check into it anyway.  He says I’m being stubborn.  Maybe I am but I know from experience that anything can happen.  Look at my situation, Donnie died and I lost his income and was stuck with huge bills.  The same thing could happen.  What if something happened to me?  Terry would be stuck with the bill.  But then a thought occurred to me.  I carry a very large life insurance policy.  What if I were to change my will to state that in the event that anything happened to me, the balance on the account would be paid in full?  I don’t know.  Something to think about.

I need about another thousand a month to keep my finances straight.  My business is closed down.  I’m paying a very large premium on my life insurance every month, paying car insurance and homeowners insurance, paying for everyone to have a phone on my account.  Providing all the food, internet, all the utilities, paying the mortgage, and no one else is paying anything.  I can’t keep doing this.  Steven, Andrew, Scout, and David are getting off Scott free.  I even have Jake still on my phone plan and he’s been living on his own in an apartment with his girlfriend for over a year.  I’ve always tried to take care of everyone but I’m rapidly reaching the point of no return.  Something has to give.

David has a horrible job.  It’s in construction and half the time they don’t even work.  He gives me money when he gets paid but then he winds up borrowing it back so I can’t count on anything from him.  Steven has Asperger’s and struggles to work part time.  He’s paying off a student loan and uses his money to buy all his own food and keep gas in his car.  Andrew is still suffering from Schizophrenia and is unable to do much of anything.  I took him to an appointment with a psychologist on Monday as part of his application for disability but he isn’t getting any income at all right now and hasn’t for more than a year.  Scout also has Asperger’s and has never worked since he graduated high school.  I just take care of everyone.  I look at all their needs and try to do it all myself but I’m rapidly approaching 70 and I’m just worn out.

It’s not just me.  The entire country is in turmoil.  Thousands and thousands of people are waiting for unemployment just like I am. Covid 19 has forced many many businesses into bankruptcy.  The presidential election was riddled with problems.  It was a very close election and Donald Trump is convinced he should have won the election.  He’s calling it unfair and I agree.  I ordered an absentee ballot and it never came.  What happened to it?  They found stacks of absentee ballots in trash cans that were never delivered, they found violations and inconsistencies in the count.  Nevertheless, they declared Joe Biden the winner.  What else were they supposed to do?  Redo the entire election?  Trump was furious and a bunch of protesters gathered at the capital.  Trump told them the election was a farce and urged them to fight even harder.  So what did they do?  They stormed the capital.  Five people were killed.  Today they’re voting on whether or not to impeach Trump for inciting the riot.  Seems kind of pointless to me.  We do still have freedom of speech in this country and we all know things went wrong in the election.  Trump will be out of office in a week anyway.  It’s just indicative of the pain and frustration going on in America these days.  We’re all suffering in one way or another.  The only purpose for impeachment, in my opinion is that Trump would never again be allowed to run for office and they don’t want him to run in 2024.

I could go on and on but Terry is coming on Friday and I need to clean house and get to work.

Still hanging in there.

4thJanuary

Ramblin’ Rose

I’m hitting the road again today.  Heading up to Terry’s for a few days.  He went to the store yesterday and says he has everything I need for my diet.  He’s working hard today to get his house cleaned up and ready for me.  Sweet man.

So now I’m facing the first challenge to my New Year Resolutions.  I won’t have access to my treadmill, my diet is in his hands, and I won’t have access to the programs I’m using to study.  I wanted to bring my own food but he wouldn’t hear of it.  Says he bought almond milk and Special K and salad makings and he’s got it covered.

It’s still going to be a challenge because I seriously doubt if he has any idea about dieting.  He’s a skinny love and his challenge is to gain weight.  Not something I’m familiar with.  I’ll have to stay focused.

Life is full of little irritants all the time.  I am on automatic refill on my prescriptions.  They mail them to me automatically when it’s time.  I went to pack my medications yesterday and realized that I only have a week’s worth of one of them.  They usually refill when I’m down to a couple of week’s worth so I called them to see why it hadn’t been refilled.  The representative said that was not one of my prescriptions and I told him it was.  He said it wasn’t on his list and I told him they had been supplying it to me for three years.  I offered him the RX number from the bottle and he said it didn’t help because it was not one of my meds.  I asked to speak to one of his supervisors to straighten it out but he said no one was available because it was Sunday.  I just called them and the recording says they’re having technical issues and the wait time is longer than usual.  I’ve been on hold for 25 minutes.

Okay, jumped the first hurdle of the day.  Finally got a representative.  The prescription is on my list and a refill is on the way.  Now I have to get moving.  Terry’s place is a four hour drive.

12:17 Update

Dammit!  Weighed myself and I haven’t lost an ounce.  I am very versed in dieting and I know there are ups and downs.  But I also know from experience that when you have a lot to lose, an intense diet and exercise plan usually results in a dramatic weight drop the first week.  Of course, that will not continue in the  long run but it always gives a big boost to my morale and keeps me going.  This is the fourth day of exercising and taking in no more than 700 calories a day and I’m not showing any loss at all.  I’m right where I started.  I’m even more determined to be strong while I’m at Terry’s and, hopefully, the scales will register a nice loss when I get home in a few days.

 

3rdJanuary

All About Structure

I said I needed structure in my life.  I’ve definitely set some up.  My plan for this year is taking a lot of time.  It’s 12:30 and I’ve been busy since I got up.  Just now getting around to eating my breakfast of tomato juice and a hard boiled egg.

This is Sunday.  Covid 19 has shut down a lot of places.  Those that remain open require wearing a mask and staying at  least 6 feet away from others.  It’s just a whole lot easier to stay home.  The masks get hot and stuffy and make my glasses steam up because I don’t wear them all the time so I’m constantly pushing them up like a headband and they never get acclimated to the warm breath caused by the mask. I put my glasses on only to read something and they steam up.  I wait for them to clear, read what I need to read, and then push them up on my head.  Five minutes later, I need to read something again.

Ironically, the pastor that worked with Terry years and years ago, after the problems with his wife, left Red Bud, Illinois and is now the pastor at Beechmont Baptist here in Louisville.  The very first weekend that Terry came to see me, we went to the church and he introduced me to Pastor Paul.  Shortly after I met Pastor Paul, churches and gatherings of more than 10 people were shut down and most churches began providing sermons on line. So that’s what I do.  I log into Face Book and watch the sermon on line.

Now those restrictions are no longer in place but most churches are continuing to broadcast the service live even though the congregation is now allowed to meet in person as long as they wear masks and practice social distancing.

I logged on and watched Pastor Paul’s sermon this morning which happened to focus on how lazy we have become and how we’re supposed to be meeting in support of each other but we’re choosing not to do that.  Sigh…I texted him and told him I would be in attendance next Sunday.  I’ll be the first to admit that on-line activities are certainly not the same but I don’t know anyone there and it seems like a hassle to get up early, get dressed, and drive all the way across town to wear a mask, sit by myself, and not get within 6 feet of anyone.

So I have read my bible this morning, used a study guide for what I read, and listened to the live broadcast.  Now it’s almost 1:00 and I’m still in my pajamas and just now eating breakfast.

I have said that Terry has been instrumental in my renewed faith but he has a strange attitude about church.  He likes pastor Paul but he doesn’t like many of the people at his church.  After Paul left, he just doesn’t attend.  The first time I went to see him in Red Bud, at his house, he took me to his church and I have to admit, they weren’t very warm and welcoming.  Terry told me they have a lot of little cliques and there’s a lot of bickering so he just doesn’t go.  Although I haven’t regularly attended church for many years, I do remember good things about the fellowship and church activities and I miss being involved in them.  Every church is going to have problems because we are people, after all, but you can always just be happy and try to encourage each other and avoid the drama.

In fact, I’m texting Terry as I’m writing this and he’s discouraging me from attending.  I’ll have to talk to him about that this week.  In fact, if I’m going to leave for Red Bud tomorrow, I’m going to have to get moving and get the house clean, do laundry, and get organized.

 

Thirteen years.  I’ve been blogging on this site for 13 years.  As I logged on this morning, I noticed the subheading on my blog.  It says “Sistah Pat – Just trying to find method to the madness“.  Funny how I never noticed what I had written until this morning.  I’ve been looking for it for 13 years and I’m still looking for it.

How ironic that I have made new year’s resolutions to help me bring method to the madness.  My life is so conflicted.  I keep looking for answers and can’t seem to find them.  But then, I’m beginning to realize it’s not about the top of the mountain, it’s about the climb.

I made resolutions to try to bring some order to my life.  I’ve been struggling with my weight and my relationships and I understand enough about myself to recognize that I need structure.  Having understood that, I’m trying to set up routines that help me focus and find some success.

Going through my routines this morning, I’m beginning to realize that I’ve set some tough goals.  It’s going to take a lot of commitment to stick with it.

I got up and texted Terry.  I had my coffee and checked my email and my facebook account.  I listened to three chapters of the Bible and then I went through a study guide of those three chapters. I weighed myself. (shows my first day of eating healthy and exercising had a net result of gaining 2 pounds…sigh) I forced myself to eat a healthy breakfast of Special K with almond milk even though I didn’t want it.  I logged it into my fitbit, entered my weight and my breakfast, and then listened to two sermons from Dr. David Jeremiah.

So now it’s 1:30 in the afternoon and I’m still in my nightgown and have to get on the treadmill.

This is going to be pretty demanding.

On top of that, Terry is asking me to come to his house and I told him I would come on Monday.  I know I need structure and I’ve certainly planned a program that will give me that.  Not much time for anything else.  It will be difficult for me at Terry’s.  He knows I’m dieting and says he’s got it covered but he hasn’t had much exposure to me when I’m fixated on something.  Donnie used to say I would get obsessed with dieting and exercise but I know myself and I know what I need to do. Terry has a high metabolism and I doubt if he’s ever had to actively try to lose weight.  Probably the opposite.  He’s definitely hyperactive.  He likes to smoke a little weed because he says it slows him down but he’s usually running around like crazy.  I’ve noticed that when I’m trying to read the bible or work on something he interrupts me a lot and I lose my focus.  He gets off track and I get sucked into his vortex.  Carl was kind of the opposite.  He was a soothing breeze.  A quiet haven in the midst of my upheaval.  Not really what I needed but tranquil, nevertheless.  Terry is many things to me but he is not a quiet and tranquil breeze by any means.

I’m on a journey to increase my spirituality.  It helps.  I feel so much better but I have a lot of regrets.  I don’t know why but I’ve always had Christ in my life.  I received his grace and I’ve always known I was blessed.  I’ve had so many hardships that I know others might have let it destroy them but I have never doubted that God was with me.  I’ve always been able to look at my losses and be grateful for having been given such a blessing instead of focusing on how I lost them.  I’ve always compared it to having received a wonderful gift.  For example, what if someone asked you where you would like to go more than anyplace in the world and you told them Hawaii.  Then they handed you a plane ticket, a prepaid vacation staying at a luxurious resort and all the spending money you wanted for a month in Hawaii.  When it was time to go home, would you be angry and heartbroken that the trip was over or would you treasure the gift they gave you?

I choose to treasure the gifts.  I was a beautiful woman.  I didn’t realize it at the time but I was.  Now I’m getting old and saggy.  Every day seems to bring new wrinkles and age spots and aches and pains but how can I complain about it or resent it?  I was given a handsome, virile, and loving man and adored him for almost 50 years.  What a gift!  How can I be angry that he died?  I had a wonderful family with good parents and brothers and sisters that loved one another and remained in loving relationships for almost 70 years.  How can I be angry that the family is splintering?  I’ve been loved by two good men since my husband died in spite of no longer being a beautiful woman.  I have nothing in my life to complain about.

And yet, I have regrets.  I have enabled my children and grand children until they are totally dependent on me.  If it were just me, I would sell my house and move to a condo in Florida and live the good life but I stay here.  Paying a small fortune in bills and life insurance every month because I don’t see how on earth they would survive without me.  At a time when they should be helping me, I continue to take care of them.

I regret that I did not raise my children and grandchildren in the church.  I didn’t go to church a lot when I was a child.  Just occasionally.  But I knew enough to accept Christ as my savior when I was just 14 years old and I have known his grace all my life.  I didn’t need church.  I had a strong faith without it.  I didn’t need to read the bible because I had Christ in my heart.  I never doubted it.  And, somehow, I thought my children and grandchildren would know Christ just through living with me.  But they don’t.  I started to notice it a couple of years ago.  With David, especially.  He is very anti-Christian.  I thought with the love of Christ in my heart that he would understand just through the way I live and the occasional remarks I made but I was so very wrong.  I started to notice it a couple of years ago when he started complaining that his boss invited him to church. The more the man invited him, the more angry he became.  I suggested he go, check it out, and then he unloaded on me about how the Bible and Jesus Christ was just a bunch of fiction and how no intelligent person could ever believe in all that crap.

After seeing how David felt about Christ, I started tentatively exploring how Darryl and my grandchildren felt and I was dismayed.  They seem to have this vague idea that there’s “some kind of higher power” but not really Jesus.

Terry opened my eyes when I started dating him.  I told him I recognized Jesus as my savior and I had been so very blessed in my life but he knows the bible so well and I didn’t understand a lot of what he said so I began to read and study.  The more I learn, the more I want to share but my family is very much against it.  And I blame myself.  It was my job to teach them and to make sure they were raised with a good foundation.  It troubles me.

I’ve had a couple of confrontations with David about it.  He never seemed to object when I would say Grace over a holiday meal or occasionally remark that I wasn’t worried about something, that I knew God would take care of it.  It was only when I began to read the Bible in earnest and watch televised gospel in my bedroom that he became confrontational and angry.  I’d be watching a sermon in my bedroom and he would come in for some reason and start saying things like, “How can you watch that crap?” or “That’s total fiction.  It’s scientifically impossible.  That’s nothing but brain washing.”

I told him I had always believed that way but I’d only recently decided to study my spirituality in more detail.  It puts me in a difficult place because I don’t know enough about the bible to contradict some of the things he says.  I do know about Christ.  He has always been a part of my life but I guess I failed to show that as much as I should have.

I’ve asked David, “I’ve always had Christ in my heart and in my life.  Look at my life, look at all the blessings I’ve had.  What is it about the way I’ve lived my life and things I believe that is so terrible?  Why do you feel that I should defend my beliefs and actions to you?  I’ve always been this way and I’ve always been grateful for everything that I’ve been given and yet you want me to agree with you that my beliefs are wrong.  Why don’t you spend some time reading the bible and learning about Christianity before you condemn it?”

But he won’t.  The anger that he has about Christianity is puzzling to me.  What is it that has happened in his life that makes him so angry with God?  It’s not that I’m shoving it down his throat.  It’s the way I’ve always lived but now that I’m exploring and learning more, he’s become very angry.  No, in thinking about it, I realize that statement isn’t true.  I first saw his anger a couple of years ago when he talked about his boss inviting him to church.  That was before I met Terry and started looking at my beliefs more critically.  I started listening to sermons and reading my bible about ten months ago when I met Terry but David was angry even before that.

David was furious about what Donna did to me and my business and he kept trying to get me to report her.  He wanted me to take revenge on her and couldn’t seem to understand why I wouldn’t.  I kept telling him that I’m not like that.  It is not my place to judge her and I will not do it.  I don’t know why she did the things she did and I spent way too much time trying to figure it out.  I have to let it go.  She’s my sister and I will always love her.  I tried to tell him that it’s much more difficult for me to let it go than it would be to retaliate but I choose to take the high road and I will not be persuaded to “get even with her”.  He seems to think that what I consider to be the more difficult road is what he considers to be a cop out.

I tried to use Stacy as an example.  I told him Stacy has hurt both of us ten times worse than Donna ever has and yet I continue to love her and forgive her.  He responds by saying, “Stacy is ill.  She can’t help it.”

Yes, she can help it but it’s difficult.  Donna has difficulties in her life as well.  Why would I continually forgive Stacy and not forgive my own sister?

As of right now, Stacy hasn’t spoken to me for almost six months.  I did nothing to her and yet she shut me out.  She doesn’t respond to my texts or call me.  She comes to my house and sleeps in my bed whenever I go out of town but she leaves whenever I’m expected home.  David finally asked her why she was mad at me and she said she invited me in to see her new apartment six months ago when I drove her home and I told her I didn’t have time.  Really?  That’s what I did?  In the meantime, I gave her things for her new apartment to help her out and I brought her some fresh melons from Utah when Terry and I traveled last summer.  I texted her and told her I brought her some wonderful melons and she never even answered me.  Just called David and asked him to bring it to her.  She didn’t come over for Thanksgiving even though her children were here.  She didn’t come over for Christmas even though they were here.  She has not spoken to me for six months.  It hurts.  I bought her a nice purse for Christmas and I finally just told David to take it to her a couple of days ago.  She hasn’t texted or called to say Thank You.  And yet I continue to love her and care about her.

I try to spread love and joy everywhere I go and to everyone I meet.  David appreciates it where Stacy is concerned but he doesn’t seem to get it when it comes to my sister.

I don’t know where I went wrong and it’s difficult to fix.  Donnie and I talked about religion and Christ but I guess we should have done it as a family instead of in bed before drifting off to sleep.  I failed them and now I’m trying to figure out how to fix it.  Terry has helped my spirituality to some degree but it’s difficult.  One thing I learned as a teacher is that you have to tell kids what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them.  Then you have to review it the next day before taking the next step.  Terry would have been a terrible teacher.  Whenever we begin to discuss religion he gets wound up and overwhelms me.  He doesn’t serve up his wisdom as an appetizer to get me to want more, he lays it out like a buffet and I leave feeling way too full.  I can’t digest it all at one time.

So I go it on my own.  A couple of chapters a day.  Listening and studying and trying to take small bites.

5:30 Update – Did 1.2 miles on my treadmill.  Not a lot but it’s better than yesterday.  Now to figure out how to fix a dinner that everyone will eat that is low cal and low fat.

Things have got to get better.  Right?  Not so far.  I text with Carl a little bit now and then.  I sent him a text that said Merry Christmas and he didn’t respond.  I sent him one that said Happy New Year and he didn’t respond.  So I texted the woman that works for him to make sure he was alright.  He lives alone and I always worry about that.  She texted me back and told me he met a woman and had her delete my phone number and unfriend me on FaceBook.  Dee said they’re practically living together and he didn’t want to mess it up so he had Dee remove me from all his contacts.

Not sure how I feel about it.  On the one hand, I’m so happy for him.  He deserves to find happiness.  On the other hand, I’m feeling a little sense of loss.  A selfish little tinge of wanting to keep him around.  It’s a good thing.  Time to put that chapter of my life to rest.  I don’t know why he didn’t tell me about her.  Just the first of November he was telling me he didn’t think he could ever love another woman the way he loved me.  On Thanksgiving, he sent me a text that said Happy Thanksgiving Day!  And now, a month later, he’s taken me out of his life and is practically living with another woman.  I would have encouraged him to find love again.  Or not.  I’m not sure.  Probably best that he removes me from his life.  Time to let it go. I just wish I didn’t have this sense of regret and loss.

So, I thought about that for a few minutes and decided to move on with my plans.  Time to weigh myself and focus on getting back in shape.  Went in the bathroom and my scales aren’t working.  Not a good way to start a diet.

Next, I checked my bank account.  No stimulus payment.  Nothing yet. Almost makes me want to crawl back in bed and give it up.  But I won’t.  I’ll listen to my Bible reading and maybe that will boost me up.

12:43 Update

I did my Bible study and took my shower.  Then I got a text from Carl.  Saying “Happy New Year, Sorry I’m running a little late. Busy chasing the ladies”.

So what’s that about?

I texted him back and said, “Only chase the good ones, Babycake! I was worried about you.”  And then he texted me and said “Why were you worried about me?”  So I said “Because I sent you a Christmas greeting and a New Year’s greeting and you didn’t answer.  I always worry about you being alone in your house.”  He didn’t answer after that.

I’m so seriously fucked up.

So today is the first day of the new year and I’m trying to focus.  I need a daily grid to check off all the things I have to do each day.  Study my bible, drink enough water, wear my fitbit, exercise, and keep track of calories.

I changed the batteries in my scales and I weigh 188. Fuck!

I’m going to grab my ear buds and hit the treadmill.  Going for 15 minutes at a slow pace.

Done!  Did 15 minutes and it felt sooo good!  Only did 15 minutes at 2.5 mph but I had forgotten how good it feels.  I could have gone longer but I know I should start out slow.  Now I’m going to scrub up my step platform so I can do some step aerobics.

Final Update for the day:

I’ve done well today.  Got some exercise in.  Drank lots of water.  Did my Bible study.  Went to the store and stocked up on healthy food so I have plenty of stuff to meet my needs.  Now I’m entering the danger zone.  The time when I start laying around watching TV while I eat everything that can’t run fast enough.  I hope to fill that time by cleaning my bedroom and doing some laundry.  Having a few problems with my fitbit.  I don’t know why but it’s showing that I only get another 250 calories for the day but I’ve only eaten 330 so far.  Must be something wrong in the settings but I can’t figure out how to fix it.  Maybe I’ll try to play with it this evening.

 

31stDecember

Die 2020! DIE!

Last day of the year.  I can’t say I’m going to miss 2020.  I’m sure there must have been some good things but I can’t think of too many.  Actually, I have a lot to be grateful for so I shouldn’t say that but I’m just so tired of dealing with things I can only hope that 2021 is better.

2020 brought an end to my relationship with Carl.  I lost my nephew and my sister in law.  Lost my business.  Got a huge rift in the family that will probably never be put to rest.  Gained 16 pounds.  The end of the year finds me deeply in debt and struggling to take care of everyone.

Today is a fitting end to it.  I was awakened to Steven telling me he locked his keys in his car.  I drove him to work.  This is New Year’s Eve so I decided to go ahead and call a locksmith while he’s at work because it will be a lot more expensive to do it this evening after hours or tomorrow on a holiday. That’s going to set me back another hundred dollars or so.  I will make him pay me back but who knows when. I’ll probably get it in dribbles and drabs.

I got a text that my car payment is overdue.  I can’t pay my mortgage this month and applied for an extension.  The government approved another $600 stipend to help us through the pandemic.  I checked my bank account but I haven’t gotten it yet.  Ironic, they gave everyone $1200 last spring to help with the pandemic and now we get another $600.  Not sure who pays the bills around there but $1800 over ten months doesn’t do much good.  I’d be okay if my unemployment came through but it still hasn’t.

I went to take my shower and the shower spigot is broken. The water will only come out of the spigot but won’t divert to the shower.  Don’t know what happened to it or who broke it but I’ll have to get it fixed today.

So let’s just be done with 2020.  I’m over it. Let’s talk about 2021.

I have a plan in place.  I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions but maybe this is the year to do it.  First off, I’m starting a diet tomorrow.  I have a fit bit watch and I’m going to wear it.  A constant reminder on my wrist of how many calories I’ve burned during the day and how many I have left.  A nagging little conscience that wraps around my wrist and helps make me accountable.  I’ve cleared off my treadmill.  It’s waiting for me.

Locksmith just left.  Set me back $70 but I talked him down from $100 so I guess that’s okay.

Terry has been good for me in some ways.  He has helped restore and refresh my faith in Christ.  I’ve never read the bible all the way through but I’m going to do it this year.  Actually, I can’t see the text very well and my eyes get stressed pretty quickly but I found an app that is designed to take you through the entire bible by reading it to you a couple of chapters each day.  January 1 starts with Genesis 1 so it’s a good day to begin.  I actually started reading it a few months ago and I’ve read all of Genesis, Exodus, and some of Leviticus but I’ll start over.  I’m constantly jumping around from one chapter to another but it will be good to do it chronologically.

Terry has helped me focus on my beliefs again.  I had become lazy and just drifted through the years knowing that God loves me and Jesus saved me and I’ve been incredibly blessed my entire life.  Terry doesn’t drift.  He’s focused on the gospel all the time.  It can be frustrating to try to talk to him about it because he doesn’t really discuss it so much as hammer me with it.  He talks fast and is so knowledgeable that I get lost and that’s not what I need.  Terry knows the bible and the gospel a lot better than I do but he doesn’t understand love nearly as well as I do.  I know about love.  I have so much love in my heart for so many people.  He can be very judgmental about people and condescending.  He can be racist and he can be sexist and he’s stubborn.  I’m more accepting of people’s faults and try to spread love and compassion.  Although he is secure in his faith and his love of Christ, he doesn’t always understand that Christ speaks to people in many different ways.  To me, he has always spoken through love.

Enough for today.  I have to go buy a spigot.

5:30 Update

I’m feeling the urge to write today.  So many thoughts are going through my mind.  I keep thinking about my relationships and the men in my life.

I’m surrounded by testosterone.  Lived my life with my husband, my sons, and my grandsons.  Even my pets have all been male. Maybe that’s why men love me.  The only women in  my life have been my mother, my sister, my daughter in laws, and my grand daughter.  Mom was good but she had a sort of negativity to her and an innate sadness.  I love my sister but she always seemed to have a sort of jealousy that was hard to define.  I felt like she always tried to put me down or embarrass me but most of the time I just kind of let it go.  My daughter in laws have been pretty worthless.  Clingy dependent women who want to blame everyone else for the problems in their lives.  My grand daughter was so spoiled it was ridiculous.  She’s sweet and loving but pretty flighty.

And then I have my men.  Good men, for the most part.  I LOVED my husband.  I got angry with him but I always loved him with a passion.  Most of the time, he could read me like a book.  He knew what I needed and did his best to make it happen.  I will always love him.  My sons love me.  I have enabled them so much it’s pathetic but that’s my fault.  Not theirs.  So many of their friends call me Mom and think of me like a mother.  David will run into an old friend and he often tells me they ask about me.  My grandsons have my heart.  I love all of them to the moon and back.

I can walk out the back door naked and jump in the hot tub.  I run out there when it’s snowing.  I prefer a shot of tequila to a mixed drink and can down a double shot without even blinking.  I roll my car windows down and drive a little too fast with the music blasting.  Men seem to think I’m just a little bit wild.  Maybe that’s why they love me.   I don’t know.  I’ve never been intimidated by men and I’ve never had a problem attracting them.  And that, in itself, is a problem.

I seem to get into serious relationships and then I get a little bored or aggravated with them.  I loved my husband, I love Carl, I love Terry.  I know no man on this earth will ever have my love like Donnie does.  I never cheated on him.  I never felt the desire to cheat on him.  He was everything I needed.  Maybe it was the bond of marriage that made it special.  I know Carl wanted to marry me.  Terry wants to marry me.  I just can’t bring myself to make a commitment to another man that doesn’t measure up to the one I had.  Does that mean I should just give it up and become a celibate old woman?  Not likely.

I miss Carl.  Sometimes I have to really discipline myself not to call him because I know he would forgive me and take me back in a heartbeat.  He’s sweet and generous and kind.  Why can’t that be enough?  He didn’t understand how much I was hurting.  He couldn’t fix it because he didn’t even know how bad it was.  Donnie would have.  He would have understood how much I was hurting without me saying anything.  He knew me in ways that no other man ever has or ever will.

Terry considers me to be his wife.  I’m not.  I love him.  He notices the things I need and the things I like.  He makes sure he has my favorite foods on hand when I go to his house.  He took me on a two week trip out west last summer and paid all the expenses.  He cuts down trees and burns wood to cut down on his electric bill but he pays to take me on a cruise.  He restores my faith and then he makes me crazy talking about the bible because he gets too wound up and it becomes too much.  He talks about flying planes non stop.  He wanted to get his pilot’s license years ago and never finished.  He hasn’t flown for ten years but he constantly talks about the instrumentation and the lay out of airports and wind velocity during landings and it makes me want to scream.  He gives me a full body massage for an hour and makes love to me for an hour and then gently caresses my back until I go to sleep.  He loves me but he’s not what I would call a gentle and loving man when it comes to others.  Marijuana is legal in Illinois and he likes to smoke a doobie with me and share peanut butter whiskey. He’s a little bit on the wild side but he’s spending so much time living in the past.  I prefer living for today.

Why can’t I have both of them?  Why can’t I be satisfied with either of them?  I don’t know.  I don’t want to ever hurt anyone but I wind up dissatisfied and just trying to cope.  I feel horrible about cheating on Carl and sometimes I just want to run back to him but I couldn’t live with myself if I ever hurt him again.  And I don’t want to hurt Terry.  Terry says he would die for me and I believe it.  He says he’s waited for me his whole life and I’m a gift from God.  Really?  I don’t feel like a gift. I feel like a confused woman that can’t be satisfied by anyone.

 

29thDecember

Covid Blues

December 29th.  Christmas has come and gone.  I’ve been sitting here at the kitchen table playing games on my computer and trying to get motivated to do something but it’s hard.  I got my monthly retirement pay today and I’m trying to figure out which bills to pay.  I’m so tired of struggling to stay afloat and at the same time trying to be grateful that I have a roof over my head and food for my family.  I know I’m supposed to get a big fat check from unemployment at some point but I’ve almost given up on seeing it. It’s difficult to count on it when a process that should have taken 2 weeks has already become ten months.  So I sit here at my table.  Afraid to pay bills and yet afraid to let them go. I can’t pay all of them so I have to decide who’s going to get what.

I need to plan a vacation.  I need to get away.  Not to Terry’s and not to some place that’s actually feasible but I need some big, fat, vacation gluttony.  I got used to taking at least a couple of cruises every year but the cruises still aren’t traveling.  They’re still cancelled.  Terry actually booked a cruise for us for my birthday last year but it was cancelled.  He’s really irritated with Norwegian Cruise Lines because they won’t refund his money.  He has $3,700 credit with Norwegian.  They will allow him to use it for future cruise credits but they won’t refund it.  He rebooked the cruise twice but it’s been cancelled each time. Time after time, the cruise lines have said they’re going to resume cruising but the ban just keeps going on and on.  As of right now, they say they will resume on April 4, 2021. Who knows?

I saw a report on TV a couple of weeks ago that said airfare is at an all time low.  Covid has limited the number of people that can go on flights and a lot of people refuse to travel. Just out of curiosity, I looked up air fare to Hawaii and found that it was $400 for a round trip flight.  That got me dreaming of beautiful sunny beaches!  I keep thinking how nice it would be to go back to Hawaii.  I might plan a trip just for the fun of it and see how much it would cost.  Airfare alone is usually more than a thousand dollars.  Of course, without my unemployment, it will never happen.  But, one can dream.

Maybe I should talk about my man problems.  Lord knows, I have them.

The biggest problem is that I’m still in love with my husband.  No one else ever measures up. Carl was so sweet and innocent.  He thought I was a wild woman.  Just because I like to drink tequila, turn the music up loud and drive with the windows open.  He never quite realized that I wasn’t a wild woman.  He was just a sheltered man. I love him and I enjoyed my time with him but he started taking me for granted and just didn’t seem to be there when I needed him most.  I was hurting so much when Donna betrayed me and Dennis died and my business floundered.  He just didn’t understand me enough to see the writing on the wall.  It’s not really his fault.  Donnie knew me for 50 years.  He could read my moods and meet my needs and, while I understand that, I still keep looking for that kind of understanding in other men.  Even while knowing I will never find it. Carl was selfish and I didn’t feel like he was there for me when I really needed him.  I still love him, though.  I’ve texted with him a couple of times and sometimes I just want to go back to him but it’s pointless.  I’ve already hurt him so much and I don’t ever want to do that again. I think what I did to Carl was one of the worst, if not THE worst thing I’ve ever done.  And sometimes I miss him a lot and want to go to him but I know he loves me and I would just wind up hurting him again because, even though I enjoy being with him, he can never fill that void.

So now I’m with Terry.  Funny how I always seem to connect with men that others say are not “my type”.  All my life I heard that Donnie and I were totally different but we worked.  We connected.  I was a high strung workaholic and he was laid back but in a powerful way.

Terry is skinny.  There’s no getting around it.  If I lived with him, I’d be thin as a rail.  He eats so little at meals and then he says, “I can’t eat another bite”, and, even though I still want more, modesty makes me agree with him.  “Oh, yeah, I’m stuffed!” I love food.  I love cooking big beautiful meals and trying new recipes and new combinations.  Terry will cook a small rib-eye until it’s so overcooked it’s tasteless, throw a small potato in the microwave and open a can of green beans.  That’s his idea of a good dinner.  That’s my idea of last minute stuff when I haven’t had time to plan anything.  For example, I just put a pork loin down to thaw and I’m going to try a new recipe with dinner for Pork Loin in Garlic Mushroom Sauce with rice pilaf and fresh brussel sprouts. It’s almost like Terry doesn’t have any taste buds.  I love to go out to eat but he’d just as soon have a frozen dinner.  Really, it doesn’t seem to matter to him at all.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard him rave about any food.  It’s just all the same to him.  Food is fuel and nothing else.

He’s also a huge contradiction.  He’s incredibly devout and he can quote any chapter or verse of the bible but he doesn’t go to church.  He believes God is in charge of everything and he lives his life accordingly. He believes all humans are dripping with sin but it’s okay because Jesus died on the cross for our sins and they’ve all been forgiven.  He initiates sex almost every night but only because he considers me to be his wife.  He is totally committed to me and gave me a ring which I wear as a sign of my commitment to him even though I certainly don’t consider us to be man and wife.  No, I love him dearly but I know I could never be with him full time.  It would make me crazy.

Terry has COPD and he struggles a lot with it. Yet he still forces himself to do heavy labor.  He seems to have a biblical parable for every single situation.  Although he needs to rest more than he does, he likes to bring up the parable of the fig tree.  When it stops producing, it should be cut down.  He has some very strange beliefs about money.  He believes all money comes from God and we should be thankful and use it wisely.  With that in mind, he is extremely frugal.  He cuts down trees and burns firewood in his fireplace to minimize his heating bill.  He drives way out of the way to buy gas because he lives close to the state line and gas is cheaper in Missouri. And yet, he is very generous with others.  Helping when he can.  All of this came about as a result of his first wife becoming an alcoholic and gambler.  He was working two jobs as a truck driver and putting in 70 hours a week to save to buy a house for her and his children.  He didn’t find out until much later that she was sleeping with half the men in town while he was on the road. When the time came to buy the house, he found out that she had spent every penny of their savings and run up charge cards to the tune of $40,000.  Keep in mind, this was 25 years ago. That’s a huge debt. He told me he was livid when he found out and his anger was so great that he stopped himself on the way home and went into a church because he was truly fearful of what he was going to do to her.  He said it changed his life.  He tried to help her but she was unwilling to change so he eventually divorced her and got full custody of his children.  He raised them in the church and they both seem successful and well adjusted. He has been good for me.  I can’t say he restored my faith because I’ve always had faith but he has helped me clarify my beliefs and renew my love of Christ and the sacrifices he made for me.

Having said that, Terry is very critical of others and can be annoyingly self righteous.  He is kind and loving to every critter on this earth but not nearly as forgiving of humans.  He has six cats and he feeds the rabbits, birds, squirrels and raccoons that come around his home.  He is constantly finding homes for animals and caring for them but can be very demeaning when it comes to people.  Especially women.  It’s a bit of an enigma to figure him out but he loves me like crazy.  He says I am God’s gift to him and he has waited for me his entire life.  He has told me he would die for me. He is very gentle and generous with me.  He’s very focused on my needs and constantly picks up little gifts for me that I might have mentioned or he noticed that I needed. He’s very complementary towards me. I get aggravated with him sometimes because he dresses like a pauper and it can be embarrassing but he just doesn’t think those kind of things are important. I love to go to Tequila’s restaurant in his home town but I always insist on buying because I know he considers it to be wasteful. Then, when we get there, he wants us to share an entree.  And yet, he spent a small fortune taking me on a road trip out west last summer for two weeks and he wants to take me on a cruise. He says the best thing about the only cruise he’s ever taken was meeting me and he knows we’d have a blast if we were to go on one by ourselves. He calls me his wild filly. The only reason he took a cruise with his girlfriend last year was because he thought she would enjoy taking one as a Christmas present.  It didn’t help.  She spent most of the cruise in the cabin and only came out to eat. He said she was a pain in the ass and he dropped her like a hot potato when he got home.  But, of course, that’s because he met me on that cruise.

So, yeah, everyone says he’s “not my type”. He can be annoying and condescending to others but he shows his love for me every chance he gets.  He lives 4 1/2 hours away but we manage to get together almost every week or ten days. In fact, he just left my house on Saturday and he’s already wanting me to come to his house. It’s more difficult for him to come to my house because he has to make arrangements and pay someone to take care of his cats every day and we can’t get any privacy at my house because I’ve got four other people living here.

I’ve been writing forever.  I really need to get to work but I’ve got the blues today.  I think I’ll plan a trip to Hawaii for Terry and I.  It will probably never happen but…it might.

 

20thDecember

Running Behind!

How can it be five days before Christmas?  It just came upon me so quickly.  I think I just kind of kept hoping my unemployment would come in but it hasn’t.  And, to be honest, my relationship with Terry makes things difficult.  He lives 4 1/2 hours from me and we get together pretty often.  If I’m at his house, I’m running behind at my house.  When I get back to my house, I always feel like I need to rest up for a day or two.  Just about the time I get focused on my home again, he says he’ll be coming to my house the next week.  I know it’s not realistic but I can’t clean toilets and scrub floors when he’s here because he is, after all, a guest.

With the time I spent with Terry and three unexpected funerals in the last month, I haven’t been able or willing to focus on Christmas.  I just put the tree up two days ago and I’ve only spent one day shopping.  I decided to use charge cards.  I didn’t want to but that’s the only way I can get gifts for anyone.

I was planning on shopping all day yesterday but my sister, Donna, texted me and invited me to her Christmas party.  I felt like I needed to go.  She was extending an invitation that will help restore us and I couldn’t turn her down.  So I went to the party.  An hour up there, three hours at the party and an hour to drive back home ate up yesterday.  She was kind to me and I was kind to her.  It’s a step.

Terry asked me a couple of weeks ago if I would go with him to see his son.  His son was transferred to Pittsburgh, PA about 4 months ago.  He’s unmarried and moved to a new city 650 miles away where he knows no one and bought a new home.  Terry wants to go for a Christmas visit and I told him I would go with him.  I’ve traveled extensively but I have to say, I haven’t spent a lot of time in the northeast and I didn’t really make the connection of how far it was and how close to Christmas we would be traveling.  Terry will arrive at my house tomorrow afternoon and then we’ll get up Tuesday and drive 7 hours to get there, spend the night, and then drive 7 hours to get home on Wednesday.  Thursday is Christmas eve.

Yeah, I screwed that up.  Between right now and tomorrow afternoon, I have to clean house, buy and wrap Christmas presents, and do a ton of laundry.

Even now, at 68 years old and retired, I never seem to have enough time to do everything I need to do.  Guess I better get off of here, dry my hair and hit the stores to do some power shopping.

I’ve had my shower and listened to some music this morning so I’m going to write for a few minutes before I get moving.

Actually, moving is pretty difficult.  I’m depressed and I’m not alone.  We’ve been dealing with the pandemic for 9 months and so many people have lost so much.  Depression seems to be the new normal.  A friend invited me over this evening to teach her how to can.  She writes for Louisville Food and Dining magazine.  She did a couple of articles on me and my business a couple of years ago and she did a live podcast when I worked with a local chef that has a five star restaurant using my pepper jams with his mixologist to develop a couple of drinks that are still featured on his menu.  He’s floundering.  As are so many restaurants.  They’ve been closed and then reopened but limited to 33% capacity and then closed again time after time this year.  Most restaurants have focused on carry out or curb service but who’s going to pay for carry out from an expensive gourmet restaurant?  Food is only a part of the experience.  The ambiance of the surroundings and the musicians playing during dinner are such an integral part of fine dining.  I ordered carry out a couple of times from good restaurants but by the time you get home, it’s cold and dry and no one wants to pay premium prices for that kind of experience.  I know he’s still in business but I don’t know if he will fall victim as so many others have.

Back to this evening, Jessica and I had so much fun during our experiences.  She featured me in a couple of articles and then she invited me to go along on a few foodie adventures.  She took me with her one evening when she did an article on the best pub food in Louisville.  It was great!  There were four of us and we went from one pub to another while they treated us to tastings of their best food and drinks.  I really enjoy her company and she seems to enjoy mine in spite of the fact that she must be at least 30 years younger than I am. She texted me last month and asked if I would like to come over and visit one evening and I agreed to set up a date but couldn’t do it until after Thanksgiving.  She texted me the other day and asked if I had any products left with Bourbon in them because she wanted some for gifts.  I never made anything with bourbon because, as I said in a previous post, I let Donna do all the products with liquor. I asked her if she would like to learn how to can and she said she’d love to so we made a date for this evening.  I’m going to her house and we’re going to make several jars of cherries soaked in Cointreau and bourbon. In return, she’s going to make donut holes from her mother’s recipe that are dipped in a bourbon chocolate.

Sounds like fun, right?  And yet I have to make myself go.  I need to get out.  The pandemic has made everyone so paranoid about contact with others.  Movie theaters are closed, restaurants are closed, social events are cancelled, holiday get togethers are discouraged.  We’ve become more and more home bound and then that becomes the new normal. I don’t shop for clothes anymore.  I don’t get my nails done.  I don’t get my hair cut. After a while, we stop trying.  Going out seems like too much trouble.  I haven’t gotten the first Christmas gift.  Stores are limiting the number of customers and lines are long.  Most items can’t be returned and yet fitting rooms are also closed so you can’t try things on before you buy them.

I started out pretty much okay.  January and February are skinny months for me but the festivals and events start in March and I get to make some money for the rest of the year.  I turn my music up loud and sing and dance around the kitchen canning for hours.   That hasn’t happened this year.  I haven’t canned since February.  I have cases and cases of product sitting downstairs and no way to sell them. I’ve struggled.  I went from paying bills on time to paying late charges as I struggled.  Then I went from paying monthly bills with late charges to going a couple of months behind on a lot of things.  I can’t pay my property taxes.  My car tags are expired.  I try to pay those bills that come in with “disconnect” notices but I don’t know how long I can keep doing so.  I’m discouraged and depressed and every day I check to see if my unemployment has come in.  I do have some money available on charge cards but I hate to use them because that just creates more bills.  It’s a sad situation.  And I’m not alone. So many others are facing the same challenges.  I know I’m pretty blessed because I have a roof over my head (even though I’m running a month behind on my mortgage payments), we have all our utilities and we have plenty of food but it’s hard to be thankful when I’m so stressed out and hanging on by a thread.

My depression is manifested in a variety of ways.  I go to bed late.  I sit in my room and watch TV for hours.  I get up late and I don’t feel like doing anything.  I don’t want to clean house, I don’t want to put up Christmas decorations and I don’t want to shop for Christmas presents.  I eat way too much.  I’ve gained 16 pounds since March but I can’t seem to get motivated to do anything about it.  I go to Terry’s pretty often even though it’s a four hour drive and sometimes I have to use a charge card to fill my gas tank.  He comes to my house pretty often too but it’s awkward.  David lives with me along with Andrew, Steven, and Scout.

But I’m going to dry my hair, put on some makeup today and get dressed.  Then I’ll gather up my canning equipment and load it into my car.  I’ll go to Jessica’s tonight and do my damnedest to have fun.

15thDecember

Train Wreck

It’s been a few days since I posted but I’m still riding this train wreck until we run out of track.

Terry, my boyfriend, lost his brother to cancer last week and I went to spend a few days with him and go to the funeral.  The morning I left for Terry’s, my brother, Mike, texted me and told me his long time girlfriend died.  My nephew died last month.  People are dropping like flies around me.

I’ve already discussed the alienation and conflict that has happened in my family.  I came home from Terry’s on Sunday and went to Kim’s funeral on Monday.  I’m so glad I was there because I was the only member of our family that was there for Mike.  My sister, Donna, didn’t even send a card or text even though she knew Mike and Kim had been together and shared a home for 15 years.  It was a perfect opportunity for her to reach out to Mike and try to repair the damage but she didn’t.  She just compounded it.

Isn’t it strange how things can change so much in the course of just a year?  Last year, November 1st would have found my sister and I in business together and having a loving relationship.  My brother was good and the family was intact.  This year, we don’t have my youngest brother anymore, Donna has chosen to cut off Bobbi and Matthew, Mike, Kim, and myself.  Kim actually isn’t even with us anymore. Donna still has a relationship with my brother, David, and I hope she can keep it together.  My family is a mess but there’s another cloud hanging over us and I’m going to have to talk about it.  My family’s drama will be forgotten in time but Covid 19 is going to be in the history books and we’ve been dealing with it for almost a year.

I won’t even try to define it or discuss where it came from.  That’s for folks a whole lot smarter than I am but I will discuss the impact it has had on me.

I was on a cruise with Carl last March when word began to seep out about a serious virus that was affecting people all over the world.  It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact moment that things went from vague rumblings to outright chaos but a lot of it happened while we were lounging around on a beach in Mexico enjoying margaritas.

We returned to the Port of New Orleans to find that outbound cruises had been cancelled in the United States and it was really strange to get off the ship to a quiet and deserted port.  No hustle and bustle of passengers toting luggage and standing in line to board cruise ships. We were among some of the last to get off a cruise ship and be allowed to disembark.  Subsequent days and months brought a domino effect as more and more Americans contracted Covid and there was no known vaccine.

I was already having trouble with the future of my business with Donna and trying to figure out what we were going to do but it became a mute point because all the festivals, venues, and events we had scheduled for the year were cancelled.  One after another.  We all hoped for a quick resolution and prayed for things to return to normal but it hasn’t.  My brother, Mike’s, girlfriend actually caught the virus and it’s what killed her.

So many people have died and our country is in a devastating depression like never before.  I applied for unemployment last April and got approved because all my events were cancelled but I’ve yet to receive a check.  On paper, they owe me thousands of dollars, but that doesn’t mean much without a check to back that up.

These are strange and frightening times.  I have strong Christian beliefs and foundations and I know God has a plan for us but the world has changed so much I don’t ever see it going back to the way it was.  School has been cancelled most of the year and kids take classes from computers at home.  Everyone wears a mask and we practice “social distancing” staying 6 feet away from others.  Parties, weddings, church services, funeral home visitations and essentially any activity is limited to no more than 10 people.  We’ve even been told not to have family over for Christmas or Thanksgiving dinners.  Thousands are out of work and many, many businesses, including mine, have failed.  The cruise industry and restaurant industry have been especially hard hit.  As I mentioned, I returned on one of the last cruises and cruising out of the United States has been cancelled since last March with no idea when it will ever resume.

In the state of Kentucky, they still have more than 70,000 people that applied for unemployment last March that still haven’t received any money.  And that’s just from March.

There is some hope.  Supposedly, we have some vaccines that have been approved.  I actually recorded a program last night that is a report on the status of immunizing people.  I’m going to sign off now and go watch that recording.

9thDecember

smokey mop sauce

1 cup cider vineger

1/2 cup beer

1/2 cup olive oil

seasoned salt

salt and pepper

3 tbsp paprika

1 tsp worchestershire

1 tsp hot sauce

Do you believe that?  I don’t know but I’m sure it figures into most conflicts.  Maybe it’s just an excuse people use to justify their actions. I know Donna was financially strained to try to stay in New Orleans as much as she could.  I know Bobbi was worried about what was going to happen if Dennis died and she lost his income.  They were at odds and it became vicious.

Dennis died and Donna decided that she was going to use the money in the gofundme account for a memorial service for him.  Bobbi wanted the money because she didn’t have any income.  Donna set up the account so she had control of the money but she set it up at Bobbi’s request and most of the money came from Dennis and Bobbi’s friends and acquaintances.

Bobbi was furious and Donna was defiant.  My brother, Mike, told Bobbi he would pay for the cremation.  Donna told me that she wasn’t going to give a penny to Bobbi but was going to use it for a memorial.  Donna actually sent emails and posted on facebook that Bobbi had already received lots of money from Dennis’s old employer and she wasn’t doing anything to honor Dennis.  It was a very nasty note and totally uncalled for. I told her she should at least pay Mike back out of the donations but Mike was livid with her and refused to take it.

I tried to talk to Mike but he said Donna had sent him an email and talked to him like he was trash.  He said she called him every name in the book because he sided with Bobbi about the money in the account. He never told me what was in the message but he said it was filthy and he wanted nothing else to do with Donna.  I know he was angry with her not only because of what she had done to Bobbi but also about what she had done to me.

And so…my family was shattered.  Dennis died.  Bobbi was furious with Donna.  I was trying to keep neutral.  Mike was furious with Donna and my brother, David, was supporting Donna’s side because he never could stand Bobbi anyway.

Donna and I kept communicating but she did outrageous things.  I tried to tell her to just give the money to Bobbi.  I know that’s what Dennis would have wanted.  Dennis was gone but he left behind a companion of 27 years and a handicapped son.  I have strong Christian beliefs and I know that Dennis is with God and the money would serve a better purpose to help support his family than to fund a memorial service to ease my sister’s mind.  Donna and Bobbi seemed to be locked into a vicious confrontation and both of them posted horrible, nasty things about each other.  Bobbi contacted gofundme and told them that Donna had taken the money under false pretenses.  Gofundme did an investigation and said the way the fund was worded, the money could be used for a memorial service but they would refund funds to any contributor that requested a refund.

Again, I tried to get Donna to just give the damn  money to Bobbi but she told me she would spend every last penny on Dennis’ memorial down to buying a bag of potato chips with the last dollar rather than give Bobbi one red cent.  She blocked not only Bobbi from her facebook contacts but Matthew as well.  Bobbi used that as additional ammunition to fuel conflict and anger.  It was disgraceful.

So many people asked for refunds that there was actually not much left of the fund but Donna rented a hall at a community center and several of us went there, ate sandwiches, and talked to each other.  There was no organization in terms of having speakers or sharing memories of Dennis and it didn’t really accomplish anything but Donna was left feeling justified that she did something in his memory.

So now I’ve brought you up to date on the events that tore the family apart.  I’ll write again soon and continue updating.

9thDecember

Rolling Along

Sometimes I wonder why I do this.  Continue to post when no one ever sees it.  Then I remember how it all started.  My aunt, Jewel, died years and years ago and, after she died, I realized that there was so much that I never knew about her.  I started journaling in books so that one day, if anyone was ever interested in reading it, they would have an account of my life.  After a few years, I gave up on the hard copy and started here.  At 3FC.

And here I am.  Years and years later, still writing.  I try to keep an honest log of who I am and what I deal with over the years.  Others may see things differently but I keep it honest in terms of how I see things.

I’ve written in the last few days about my relationships with men and with family and I’ll continue to update.

Today, I’ll continue with the source of my separation from my sister and why I’ve chosen to distance myself from her.

There was the betrayal with my business and that may have festered and gone somewhere except for the deterioration and death of my youngest brother, Dennis.

Just a couple of days after I discovered what Donna was doing with the business, she headed to New Orleans to be with Dennis when he underwent surgery.  Dennis was very close mouthed with me about his illness.  I knew he had cancer but my interpretation was that he had pretty much gotten it cured and was undergoing surgery to remove the last little bit of it.

As I discussed in a previous log, he never really came out of that surgery.  I was shocked when I got a text from Donna saying that if I wanted to say goodbye to him, I had better get to New Orleans in the next 24 hours because he probably would not last that long.  I flew into panic mode and texted his wife (for lack of a better word), Bobbi, that I was packing and I would try to leave within the next hour to head down there.

Bobbi called me immediately and asked what I was talking about.  I told her about Donna’s text and she said Dennis had not regained consciousness but his situation remained unchanged and she didn’t know where Donna was getting this 24 hour business.  I had already loaded my car and she told me she DID NOT want me to come to New Orleans.  She said she had so much going on and the last thing she needed was to referee a fight between Donna and I.  I assured her that I would not even bring it up.  I would never allow something like that to interfere with Dennis’s situation.  I told her I would stay at a hotel but she said, “Please, as a favor to me, please, please do not come down here. Donna will be heading home in a few days and I’m asking you to wait until she leaves before coming down.

I promised Bobbi that I would wait but I was obviously deeply hurt and scared to death that my little brother would pass away at any time and I would not have an opportunity to see him again.  I waited, on pins and needles, almost a week until Bobbi called and told me to come because Donna had to leave on Tuesday.  I told her I would come on Monday evening and spend the night on the couch.  Donna was scheduled to leave at 4:00 am on Tuesday morning.

I drove straight through, by myself, on Monday and texted Bobbi that I would be arriving at 7:00 that evening.  I arrived on time, exhausted and desperately needing a bathroom break.  No one was home.  I had terrible thoughts racing through my mind.  No one was at the house.  Had Dennis already passed away?  I kept texting Bobbi and after getting no response for an hour, I had to leave and go to a gas station to use the bathroom.  When I arrived back at the house, my sister, Donna was there.  She opened the door and didn’t say a single word to me.  I asked her if Dennis was okay and she told me he was the same.  A few minutes later, Bobbi got home and she and Donna were cutting up and talking and neither one was even talking to me.  I was hurt but I didn’t say anything.  I tolerated the cold shoulder for a couple of hours but it was obvious that they were going to totally ignore me and shut me out. I went to bed and Donna left before I got up the next morning.

Bobbi wanted me to watch Matthew during the day while she ran errands and went to the hospital and she wanted me to spend nights at the hospital in Dennis’s room.  I was fine with that.  It was so difficult to watch Dennis and not know if he was aware of anything.  I watched Matthew during the day and spent the evenings talking to Dennis and watching over him.

Matthew has Willi Prader syndrome.  He has a lot of challenges but his mentality is that of a child.  He has no qualms about speaking and he asked me why it took me so long to come when his dad was so sick.  I told him that it was hard for his mother and I didn’t want to overwhelm her while Aunt Donna was there.  He said his mother and Donna said I was just using any excuse I could find to keep from coming down there.  That really hurt. Then he asked me if Aunt Donna told lies.  I told him I didn’t think so and he said, “Well, she said you were really jealous of her and you were trying to ruin her business and she’s going to start her own business without you because you’re not honest.”

Bobbi came home that evening and I confronted her.  I said, “I am not going to trash talk my sister but I will say that I’m deeply hurt that you and Donna would say that I was doing everything I could to avoid coming here after I begged you to let me come and only waited in deference to your request.  I’m not going to discuss my business but I will say that I am very honest and what Donna told you about the business is not the real reason behind our argument.”  I was so hurt I started to cry and Bobbi did an abrupt turnaround and started talking about things Donna had told her.  I was disappointed and hurt that she lied about me but I reiterated to Bobbi that the problems between Donna and I would be put aside because family unity was the most important thing at that time.

Bobbi told me that she had asked Donna to start a “Go Fund Me” account to help with finances because even if Dennis recovered, he would be out of work for a long time and they were going to have serious financial difficulties.  I bought groceries and made dinners while I was staying to help out with expenses.

I texted Donna and I told her that I loved her.  I told her nothing was more important to me than our relationship.  I told her we would deal with the business at a later time but I would never let it come between us and we would figure it out.  She responded in a positive manner but I couldn’t help but notice that she didn’t offer any apologies or justification for what she had done.  She told me she was really angry with Bobbi because she didn’t feel like Bobbi really loved Dennis and she thought Bobbi was only concerned about when he would be able to return to work and start earning a paycheck again.  She said she was in dire straits financially and she didn’t think Bobbi even appreciated the sacrifices she was making in order to be with Dennis. I told Donna I couldn’t do a lot but I would be more than happy to give her enough money for gas and to stay at a hotel if she didn’t want to be at the house but she declined. She said she felt like Bobbi just wanted someone to take care of Matthew so she could run around and meet with her friends and she wasn’t going to be a babysitter.

I stayed at Bobbi’s for a little more than a week and then it was time for Donna to return.  She arrived while I was at the hospital and Bobbi called to tell me that Donna’s whole attitude had changed.  She said Donna told her she was there to be with Dennis during the day and she would not be staying at the hospital overnight. She said Donna told her she would not be watching Matthew and Bobbi would have to make other arrangements for him.  I could see the writing on the wall.  Donna was strained financially and she was feeling used and felt like Bobbi was taking advantage of us.  I didn’t really worry about it because I knew it was my last night with Dennis and I would be heading home the next day.

The next day, when I was almost home, Donna called me and told me that she thought Dennis had regained consciousness.  He had crashed and they revived him and he seemed to be following movements with his eyes and seemed to be able to nod or shake his head in response to questions.  She and Bobbi were arguing because Donna wanted to bring Dennis back to Kentucky and take care of him if he regained consciousness but Bobbi said she would never allow that and he would be going to a nursing home.  They were furious with each other.

I had to make a decision.  Do I turn around and drive back in the hopes that I could spend some time and talk to Dennis or do I accept that I’ve already said my goodbyes and returning would put me right in the middle of a heated situation between Bobbi and Donna?  I made the decision to keep heading home.  I was afraid I would turn around and he would crash again before I could get there and I wanted to keep my memories intact of the last night I spent with him when I spoke to him from my heart and said my goodbyes.

Did I do the right thing?  I don’t know.  Dennis was actually able to understand what people were saying and he was in on the decision to take him off the ventilator and end his life.  He was able to spend time with all the people that loved him and they said his eyes would light up when friends and family came in.  It still hurts.  I guess it always will but I was so conflicted.  They put me on speaker phone and I was able to talk to him and everyone said he seemed happy to hear from me but I wish I could have held his hand as he slipped away.

I will have to stop for today.  I’m crying.  It’s so hard to go back to that pain.  I can’t change it so I need to let it go.

9thDecember

Walking the Path

I said I would begin posting again.  It helps.  Helps me to focus and clears my mind.  There are always so many thoughts running through my head that I need to focus on writing sometimes to calm them.

Today, I will talk about the relationship between my sister and I.  I love that woman.  She is my sister.  I struggle so much with trying to figure out what to do.  Sometimes I think I’m doing the right thing and other times I feel like I’m just avoiding the issue.  Perhaps my brother Mike said it best.  He said, I will always love her but I don’t like her.

They always say you should never go into business with friends or family.  Maybe that’s where I went wrong.  I started my canning business.  Making jams and jellies and selling them at local festivals and events.  She asked if she could join me and sell baked goods.  I welcomed her.  The first event we did together was about 7 or 8 years ago and it was a disaster for her.  There was a terrible storm and our booth and everything in it got soaked.  All of her baked goods were wet and a lot of people left.  Not so much a problem for me because I could just dry off my jars and move on to the next festival but she was left with a lot of baked cookies and bread that were ruined and they would not keep for a couple of weeks whereas my products were designed to last for years.

Donna asked if she could join me in making canned goods.  I didn’t think that was a good idea but she assured me that she made fantastic salsa and that was all she would be selling.  In the beginning, I was making about 10 different kinds of jams and I said okay.  She would do salsa and I would do jams and jellies.  I was becoming well known for my pepper jellies and that was my main money maker.  Donna assured me that she hated hot and spicy stuff and was not interested in making those products.

Over the years, I attended lots and lots of classes and earned all the certificates and permits needed to be a food manufacturer but Donna did not want anything in her name because it would interfere with her disability.  I was okay with that but the inspector from the health department told her that she would only be able to produce goods under my direct supervision.  In other words, I had to be present anytime she was canning.  That was the way it was supposed to be but we never did that.  She worked out of her home and I worked out of mine. We split the costs of events and equipment and worked together.  I continued to attend classes and was, eventually, allowed to create recipes of my own because I’d had the training and permits to do so.

I began to branch out.  Donna made three different kinds of salsa and I made 20 or 30 kinds of jams and jellies.  I know Donna was jealous because I always made a lot more money than her even though we split the festival costs and the price of classes and permits that we were required to have.  I suggested she attend classes but she was not interested in doing so.  She began to experiment with hot peppers because there was such a demand for hot and spicy products.  I didn’t have a problem with it as long as she focused on salsas but then she took my best selling pepper jelly, a pineapple, mango, habanero jam and started making what she called a “pineapple, mango, habanero salsa”. She kept putting big bowls of it out on our table with a bowl of chips and people would walk up and try it and love it.  They stopped buying my pineapple, mango, habanero jam and started buying essentially the same product as a salsa.  I was not at all happy about the situation because I was really focused on safety and I refused to set a bowl of the jam out in the heat because I knew it wasn’t safe but she didn’t seem to care. I never quite forgave her for copying my best seller and nudging me aside.

I decided to start making pickles and they were a big hit.  Donna was still struggling so she decided to make flavored vinegars as well.  They didn’t go over very well so she focused on making jams and jellies that were different than mine.  I still didn’t have a problem with that.  I really wanted her to explore her creativity and make more money.  The problem was that she didn’t have any permits or training to be able to create her own recipes.  She is my sister and she did not want to take orders from me or listen when I tried to explain about contamination and bacteria and the importance of following approved recipes to the letter.

I made several jams with liquor in them.  Up to 1/2 cup of liquor can be added to any batch of jam without it being a safety issue. I suggested to her that she begin making a line of jams and jellies called “Happy Hour” jams based on popular drinks.  I gave her recipes for Strawberry Margarita Jam, fuzzy naval jam, pina colada jam, and others.  The line was a hit but she began to categorize the jams I was already making as happy hour jams.  I made a peach rum sauce and apple grape jam with cinnamon whiskey among others.  I tried to explain to her that Happy Hour jams were supposed to represent popular bar drinks but she got it in her head that any product containing liquor was to be a Happy Hour jam.  In deference to her, I stopped making any new products with liquor and let her have it.

My pepper jellies were a huge hit.  After a couple of years, I had more than 40 different varieties of pepper jams and I decided to start making relishes.  Donna began to slowly enter my product line.  She started making pickles and relishes and lots of products with hot peppers.  It was frustrating.  Every time she came up with a new product line, I was very careful not to infringe on it but she had no qualms about infringing on mine.  She would say, I’m not making the same thing as you but she didn’t want to respect the boundaries of my lines.

Donna was supposed to make salsas, general jams and jellies, Happy Hour jams, mustards, flavored oils and a few others.  I never made any of those products because I considered those lines to be hers. I made pickled products, pepper jams, regular jams, and relishes.

Over the years, I struggled with my frustration over her refusal to listen to anything I said.  I told her over and over that she could not just dump a jar of salsa in a bowl and let people sample it all day.  It had to be kept refrigerated.  We did outdoor festivals when temperatures were in the 90’s and she refused to take precautions. She would open a jar of salsa and dump it in a bowl.  As she ran low, she would open another jar and dump it on top of the one that had been sitting in the heat. At the end of the day, she would dump it back into a jar and the next morning, she would start serving it again. One time, I opened up the booth and her salsa was covered with a thick layer of gray mold.  I showed it to her and her reaction was “Huh!  I wonder how that happened?”  I was so frustrated because she just didn’t want to listen and I was afraid she was going to make someone sick.  Her only concession was to set the bowl of salsa on top of a bowl of ice.  I told her that wasn’t safe because it didn’t keep the temperature low enough but she refused to budge.

All of our products are all natural and don’t contain any preservatives.  We assured our customers that everything was homemade in small batches.  I obtained Kentucky Proud status for our products and that’s a label you can only have for products made in Kentucky.  It was a big selling point for us.

Festivals are hard work.  We had to set up the tents and tables and unload cases and cases of canned goods.  At that point, we were producing 140 different products.  Donna was really pushing wholesale.  She wanted to sell large amounts at half price and distribute in stores.  I couldn’t do that.  Using all natural ingredients is expensive and, even though I made fairly decent money at venues, I couldn’t afford to sell for half price.

One day, when I went out to Donna’s van to get something, I saw three one gallon cans of salsa Verde.  I asked her about it and she said she misread the label and thought she was buying tomatillas.  On another occasion, I asked her how she could afford to make pickled beets and little mini pickles when the fresh produce was too expensive to even buy.  Mini cucumbers (cornichicons) were selling for $12.99 a pound and she was selling 16 oz. jars of them for $7.00.  It was the same with her pickled beets.  They were way to expensive to use.  She told me her produce market got a great price on them and she bought them from there.

I began to get really suspicious and I was frustrated and irritated because she just wanted to do her own thing and I kept reminding her that everything was in my name and I was worried that someone was going to get sick. I didn’t want to accept that she was defrauding people.  I just felt like she was cutting corners and very controlling about the business.  She made her stuff in Elizabethtown and I worked out of Louisville.  She was gung ho for wholesale and I kept telling her we couldn’t make any money selling wholesale but she kept going in that direction.

There came a day, last November, when Donna was doing one of her wholesale events that I needed to go to her house to pick something up for another festival that I was doing on my own while she was doing the other one.  I was in the driveway and her trash was beside the house.  I opened it up to throw in a coffee cup and there, right on top of the trash, was a one gallon can of Dijon mustard and a one gallon can of salsa verde.  I just stared at them for a minute as everything kind of sunk in.  I went in her house and opened up her pantry.  There it was, cans and jars of Walmart pickles, beets, okra, salsas, mustards and other things she was selling under my name.  She was just buying cheap stuff at Walmart and our restaurant supply company, dumping it into our jars, and selling it as homemade and all natural.  And she was doing it under my name.

I have to say I was stunned and disbelieving at the same time.  I felt so stupid for trusting her to do the right thing.  As I was pulling out of her driveway, my brother, Mike called me.  He started out by telling me that he usually doesn’t get involved in stuff but he thought I should know about what was going on with my business.  He told me that he went by our other brother’s house and found David in the middle of canning for a huge order from our biggest customer.  I was livid.  Not only was she lying and cheating our customers by recycling cheap canned crap into our jars but she was paying David to do the actual canning.  All of this while she wasn’t even supposed to be doing it herself unless I was supervising her.  Mike didn’t want to be involved in the dispute but was worried that I was going to get sued if things didn’t stop.

Donna called me about 15 minutes later to see if I had gotten what I needed from her house and I told her I was really upset with her.  She asked why and I told her what I had found.  She was very indignant and said, “Don’t tell me you don’t do the same thing.”  I couldn’t believe she was trying to put me on the burner in order to justify what she was doing.  I told her I absolutely DID NOT do that and I couldn’t believe she would cheat our customers and make fraudulent claims knowing everything was under my name.  At that point, she hung up on me.  I called back and I said, “This isn’t over.  I will NOT allow you to continue doing what you’re doing.”  She said, “Don’t talk to me like I’m one of your kids.  I’ll do what I want.  You aren’t in charge of me.” And she hung up on me again.

It’s taken me two days to write this post.  It’s not easy to catch up on the events of the last year but this is where the conflict between my sister and I began.

I haven’t posted for a year.  I read my last post and the last line caught my attention.  I asked Jesus to take the wheel and he did.

My brother died just a few days after my last post and it was so difficult to accept.  My sister and I had been having problems and I just wanted to let it all go because I wanted our family to share love and support during such a difficult time.  But she went to a place that I couldn’t understand and I finally had to  let go of that relationship.  It’s very complicated and I will dedicate my next post to an explanation of the situation but, for today, I have things to do and commitments to keep so I’ll just say that her actions caused a terrible break in the family and tore us all apart.  I don’t really have a relationship with her anymore and that hurts but I have decided to let it be.

I was scheduled to go on a cruise with Carl just a couple of weeks after Dennis died and it was going out of New Orleans.  My son, David, and Stacy, his girlfriend were going, too.  As I stated, the family was in tatters and I was apprehensive about going to see Bobbi, Dennis’s wife and his handicapped son but I knew it was something I had to do.  Every time Carl and I took a cruise out of New Orleans, Dennis was there for us.  He took us to and from the port, he took us out to dinner, we spent a lot of time at his house socializing.  And yet, Carl did not want to go to the house with me to see Bobbi and Matthew.  I was very disappointed that he was not supportive to me and Stacy and I wound up going by ourselves.  Donna had tried to split the family and I was trying to maintain a neutral position and keep it together.  It was an awkward and strained visit but we got it done and I felt like my visit helped to support Bobbi and Matthew during their grief.

We went on the cruise and Carl was very annoying.  He seemed to be jealous of the time I spent with David and Stacy and wanted to spend most of the cruise just sitting around in the room.  I told him before we left that I really enjoyed eating in the dining room instead of the buffet and that I would like to do that as much as possible.  He got angry with the dining room hostess the very first night because he was wearing a baseball cap and she very nicely asked him to remove his hat in the dining room.  He got very angry and said he was not going to eat in the dining room for the rest of the cruise.  And he didn’t. I had paid for two excursions that he had approved of and they were both days at the beach.  After we began the cruise, he said he didn’t bring swimming trunks because he didn’t want to go swimming.  On the first excursion, he went but he just sat in a chair by the pool and didn’t want to do anything else.  On the second excursion, he said for us to go ahead because he just wanted to stay on the ship.  I could go on and on but just suffice to say that he was selfish and annoying during the entire cruise.

Because Carl was being a pain in the ass, I wound up spending a lot of time on deck by myself.  I chatted a couple of times with a man named Terry and really enjoyed talking to him.  I felt an immediate chemistry.  He was on the cruise with his girlfriend and she was almost as annoying as Carl.  I never even met her because he said she just wanted to stay in the room and watch TV and only came out to go to dinner.  On the last day of the cruise, I felt an almost magnetic attraction to Terry and I gave him my phone number.

We got off the ship and drove straight through to Carl’s house in St. Louis and David, Stacy, and I just wanted to drop him off and drive the last four hours to get home but we were worn out so we spent the night and left for home the next morning.  I was so hurt and disappointed in his behavior.

After I got home, my sister, Donna, called and told me she was holding a memorial service for my brother in a couple of weeks on a Friday.  I asked Carl if he would go with me and he said he had to work that day and couldn’t do it. The next day, Donna called me and said she had made a mistake, the service was on Saturday instead of Friday.  I was really relieved because things were very strained with Donna and I wanted Carl to go with me.   His store isn’t open on Saturdays and that opened the door to allow him to accompany me.  I told him that it was on Saturday instead of Friday but he didn’t say anything.  Needless to day, he didn’t want to go.

And then Terry called and he was so full of energy and happiness and wanted to drive to Louisville and visit me.  I told him he could come and he reserved a suite at a very nice hotel.  He made sure his suite was right next to the hotel’s heated pool and hot tub.  He came on Friday and we had a wonderful dinner at one of my favorite restaurants.  We went back to his hotel and went swimming and had a wonderful time.  The next morning, he was back at my house and we visited some of my favorite places in Louisville.  He was friends with the pastor of a Louisville church and he took me to church on Sunday.  I hadn’t been to church for 30 years and it felt so good to be back. Before he headed back home, he asked if I would go on a cruise with him for my birthday in April and I shocked and surprised myself by agreeing.  It was very unlike me to move so fast but I just felt so comfortable with him that it seemed right. I also felt like we would have plenty of time before the cruise to get to know each other better and I could always cancel if it didn’t feel right.  Terry has very strong Christian beliefs and I wasn’t worried about him taking advantage of me.  I felt very safe with him.

Terry called me every night after that and I was still talking to Carl every night.  Terry was very understanding as I struggled with my emotions. I had never met Carl’s daughter or grand daughter but we had booked a cruise with them months and months earlier and they were so excited about it.  I wanted to break it off with Carl and cancel but Terry encouraged me to go on the cruise so they wouldn’t be disappointed. It was coming up in just a couple of weeks and I was so conflicted.

We went on the cruise and Carl was wonderful.  He was happy and energetic and sweet as he could be. He was the old Carl that I loved. I enjoyed being with him but, in a way, it made me even more disappointed in him because he was wonderful when we took a cruise with his family but he had been a total deadbeat on the cruise we took with my family.

I never thought I would be in a love triangle at my age but that’s where I found myself.  You have to remember that I got married at 17 and loved my husband like crazy for almost 50 years. When I love, I love forever and nothing breaks that bond. I knew I should break it off with Carl but I didn’t want to hurt him and I really enjoyed the way he was on the cruise with his family even though I was still angry with him for the way he behaved on the cruise with my family.  I was also hurt about the lack of support he showed when I was struggling with my sister’s betrayal and the death of my brother.

Terry was really patient with me as I struggled about how to break it off with Carl.  I knew Carl was going to be really hurt and I just didn’t know what to do. Terry came to see me one weekend and we were drinking margaritas and making out in my hot tub.  I don’t know how it happened but my phone must have butt dialed Carl and he listened to our conversation for 7 minutes.  I can’t imagine what he heard but I’m sure it wasn’t good.  I got a text from him that said I had called him and he listened to our conversation.  He said he heard enough.  I was totally mortified!  That was certainly not the way I would have chosen to break it off with him.  I texted him the next morning and asked if he wanted to talk to me but he never answered.

And so, I am now with Terry and my “never a dull moment” life continues.  I have set a number of goals for myself today and one of them was to go on this blog and start posting again.  If I’m going to accomplish any of the other goals, I have to get moving.

So that’s it for now.

25thDecember

All Beef Meatballs

2 lbs. ground lean beef (not extra lean)

1 cup ice water

3/4 cup soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Mixture will be very soft.  Arrange in shallow pan with sides touching and bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

9thDecember

Nothing is forever

I’m currently in New Orleans.  I hadn’t planned on being here but my little brother had surgery and things went sideways. This is the first time I’ve posted in more than a year and it just seems like things go through so many changes. I’ve always found it helpful to write.  Writing is a slow and steady process and it calms my thoughts. It takes time to write the words and it slows down all the turmoil churning in my head.

I love my little brother.  He’s a sweet, compassionate and gentle man.  His life has not been easy the last few years.  He lives in New Orleans and has a disabled child with Prader Willi Syndrome.  He’s 24 years old, and has the mentality of an 8 year old. He has severe temper outbursts and requires constant care for both his mental and physical disabilities. If you’re not familiar with that, and most people aren’t, it’s a severely limiting disability. My brother spent 30 years working very closely with Al Copeland, a multi-millionaire and founder of Popeye’s Fried Chicken, among other endeavors. Al paid him well and I really believe he was closer to Al than he ever was to our own father.  And, Al seemed to consider my brother, Dennis, more like a son than he did with some of his own children.  Al developed cancer and it spread very quickly.  He extracted a promise from his sons that they would take care of Dennis and make sure he had a job with them for the rest of his life.  Unfortunately, their jealousy got in the way and they booted Dennis out with a couple of months severance pay as soon as Al died.

Dennis has struggled the last few years.  His health has deteriorated and he got cancer of the esophagus and prostate.  He survived chemo and radiation and there was only one small tumor left that his doctor wanted to remove.  Of course, there are risks with any surgery.  Especially when one has just finished chemo and radiation and the body is weakened.

His surgery was 3 weeks ago and he has not regained consciousness.  He on a ventilator, blood thinners, and dialysis. After surgery, they put him on paralytics so he wouldn’t try to pull out the ventilator and he was heavily sedated.  As they began to wean him off the paralytics and sedation, we discovered that he is not responding.  What happened?  No one seems to know.  Did a blood clot go to his brain?  Did he have a stroke during surgery? No one seems to know.  He has a lot of movement in his hands, he blinks his eyes, he moves his feet.  But is he there?  He’s on a ventilator and they can’t do an MRI or CAT scan until he’s off the vent.

I go to the hospital every evening at 8:00 and stay until 6:00 a.m.  I talk to him at night and it’s absolutely heartbreaking.  He has tubes and machines everywhere.  And I keep watching him and wondering if his movements are just reflexive moves or if he’s struggling to try to communicate.  I tell him to squeeze my hand and then I wait.  And after a couple of minutes, his hand clenches.  And I can never be sure if he’s struggled for two minutes to be able to squeeze my hand or if it’s just another sporadic movement.

They keep telling us that his recovery will be tiny little baby steps.  I’ve been here a week and he does have more movement but I don’t know if that’s progress or just involuntary movements.  They put him on blood thinners and the dialysis works well but he’ll start having blood in his stool.  So they stop the blood thinners and his BP gets bad and his blood begins to clot in the dialysis lines and interfere with that.  It’s a horrible balancing act where adjusting one little thing cause a dozen other things to go wrong.

Is he there?  I want to believe he is but we won’t know anything until he’s stable enough for an MRI or CAT scan.  My sister and I have been alternating being here to stay with my brother at night and care for his son during the day so his wife can be at the hospital but we can’t stay forever. My sister will be back in New Orleans tonight and I will go home.  I will spend the night in his room tonight and agonize because it may be the last time I will see my brother and it’s so terrible to see him like this. I’m trusting God to care for him and I know we may be looking at taking him off life support in the near future so it makes it so painful for me to leave him now.

I am still with Carl.  I just want to run to him and let him take care of me but I can’t.  I don’t really think he would be much help anyway.  Carl isn’t very close to his family and he doesn’t seem to relate to the way I am bonded with my own family. It’s so hard to have a long distance relationship.  He’s 3 1/2 hours away from my home and it’s not like we can just get together for dinner.  It takes planning and I haven’t been home for days and days. I would love to leave here tomorrow and go to him but I can’t.  I need to go home and take care of my obligations on that front. I have to say I’m disappointed in the way he has reacted to the circumstances.  He says he loves me and I know he would like to get married but he just doesn’t seem to give me what I need.  I know Donnie is gone but I can’t help knowing that if he were here, he would move Heaven and Earth to be with me when I’m hurting so much.  Carl gives lip service to my grief but where is he when I need him?  Probably sitting in his store watching Netflix all day long and waiting for me to come and see him.  I don’t know how much longer I’m going to wait to see if he’s going to be able to step up to the plate.

I’m just so tired.  We’re prepared to lose grandparents and parents and aunt and uncles but it’s so painful when we get to the point where we’re losing spouses and siblings and grandchildren.  I’ve had so much pain in the last few years I just don’t know how much more I can take. Jesus, please, just take the wheel.

Turkey Brined and Smoked

 

  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups apple juice
  • 1 1/2 cups kosher salt or 1 cup table salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 Tablespoon candied ginger
  • 10 cloves
  • 2 sprigs each  sage, and thyme

After the brine is cooked

  • 6 cups ice cubes
  • 4 cups apple juice
  • 1 large apple quartered
  • 1 yellow onion quartered

Instructions

  1. In a large stock pot, combine the water, apple juice, salt, spices, and herbs. Bring to a boil.
  2. Remove the brine from the heat and stir in the remaining cold apple juice and the ice cubes. Once the brine is fully chilled, pour over your turkey. Nestle the sliced apple and onion in the brine around your turkey. Brine in a container that can keep the turkey fully submerged in the brine.
  3. Keep your turkey and brine below 40 degrees F during the entire brining process. Brine your turkey for approximately 1 hour per pound of turkey.
  4. Once your turkey has been in the brine for long enough, remove from the brine and rinse gently, both on the inside and the exterior of the bird. Pat completely dry and drizzle with a little cooking oil or melted butter for a crispier skin. You don’t need to add any additional salt or seasoning to the exterior of the turkey before grilling or smoking. If you like, you can stuff the turkey cavity with the apple and onion slices from the brine.

I followed this recipe but used powdered ginger and more apple juice than what the recipe called for and brined an 18 lb. turkey for 24 hours.

I set the smoker to 225 for about 3 hours or until the turkey registered 120 degrees and then raised the temperature to 350 and cooked another 3 or 4 hours until it reached 160.