Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Buy aconites

The bottom bit of my October calendar says “Buy aconites.” I’ve been looking at that directive for the last thirty one days, since I turned over to October. Buy aconites. I haven’t a clue what aconites are. I’ve spent thirty one days not bothering to learn.

That I don’t know is interesting, not alarming. I simply am not motivated to find out. It has occurred to me, over the course of the month, I must have written this before the accident in March. It is written in legible cursive.

Since the accident my handwriting ability is gone, illegible. My printing is awful, too. Little right hand fine motor control. Even silverware is awkward. Fortunately, fifteen years of watching my son-in-law’s continental style gave me courage, and I find myself fairly adept. Even a little smug. I’m better, when he has a mustache.

Before I turn the page and forget aconite forever, I Googled it. They are Eranthis, or wolfsbane, a herbaceous perennial. I recognize them as the little yellow flower that Weaver watched for every spring. How ironic, both our lives have changed so this year. This very week she is off line and moving from the farm she shared with The Farmer for three decades.

When I thumbed forward to October and directed myself to purchase aconites I had every intention of adding another spring flower to my cottage garden. Now I’m barely concerned with the weeds. 

Even the calendar no longer interests me. I have not ordered a new one for next year. When I clean out the files for the year, I’ll probably pitch the fifteen or so lined up in a file folder. Or, put them in a basket on the closet shelf. I’m comfortable with the Google calendar now, but not with writing on my paper calendar.

Today I had a letter from a Medicare auditor, about a claim from a provider of cognitive therapy. It was the claim for the therapists in July who helped me figure out to remember through the list app on my phone. The claim is denied; Medicare doesn’t provide this. But, Medicare did provide it in the hospital.

Makes me angry. Trying to figure out who I am and who I’ll be is like treading molasses. Those therapists did me a service, and now they won’t be paid. I’m working on a letter to the Medicare auditor. I’ve turned the page on aconites.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Urban slang

The news is almost worth keeping up with, again. I’ve acquired new urban slang since Robert Mueller stepped up his investigation. “Mueller flipped a Trump campaign advisor.” My instinct was along the lines of ‘ratted him out’ to Trump’s camp. That’s how long I’ve known slang. Now that we’re all talking at cross purposes, no! Muller recruited George Papadopoulos! Not straight from National Security meetings, but just a few months out.

Clinton ties to the Committee on Foreign Investment approval of the Canadian/Russian uranium sale are debunked. No member owned stock in the company; the member who did own stock sold it years before the sale was proposed; Hillary Clinton did not sit on the committee and the committee approved the deal. Slate Magazine concludes its reporting with a mic drop.

Closer to home, Jen Hoffman, who gave us a good path to follow after the Women’s March, with her weekly list of hot spots, who to target with phone calls, and why, says in the current Americans of Conscience, we must take stock of what we’ve learned this year and assess for changes, adapt new strategies or ramp up old strategies. In Ohio, it’s imperative to return Sherrod Brown. Portman’s real challenger is still not known. It will be interesting, next year.

Back at my own kitchen table, I told Laura we needed some serious list revision. She and Kay devoted two entire days last weekend to hiking four of the eight MetroPark trails needed to earn a staff and a shield. The eight trails the trailblazers intended to knock off in two days have realistically become four days of stiff marching. According to Laura, it’s not the hike, it’s the hour’s travel to and from. She’s right about that, but it doesn’t empty the rain barrel.

So, we have scheduled draining the rain barrel for Thursday in sixty degrees in the rain. I have the last few weeds on the schedule, too. We have raincoats.

Red roof, red pear tree leaves, red mandevillas. Green shutters on yellow siding. Wet, wet rain.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Another chock full day

I have not been in the shed since about a year ago now, when Laura and I installed things to keep shed stuff neater. Or maybe early January, when we put Christmas into two big storage cartons and put them in the shed.

At this moment, I hear, there are any number of plastic drink cups lined up along the edge of the threshold, each holding a formerly dirty penny and a solvent. I inquired, and learned the penny in Clorox is black; the penny in distilled vinegar is shiny clean. I don’t remember what most of the rest of the pennies are suffering, but probably can line up hot sauce and coke and such close enough to bleach or vinegar to guess.

A report is due on Monday. We started our day at Staples for the obligatory poster board, and, as it is Friday night, I am now waiting out the interminable football game so I can sink into my bed.

In between we went to Oberlin. Oberlin was a focus of the abolitionist movement, a terminal on the underground railway and starred as the town that started the Civil War. The town has not abandoned its history; it is one liberal city, and its college certainly lives up to the standards.

This was not the usual tour the campus tour, because I’m the only one in the house currently interested in college admission and I didn’t plan ahead. There was no school today; Kay said “Why not a tour of Oberlin or Wooster.” Of course, she texted me that yesterday. I tried, but could not fit in either college’s day tours with the poster board. Then, I thought of Carol.

Carol was my very first blog follower, probably because her friend, my daughter Beth mentioned it to her. Carol lived downstairs to Beth’s upstairs on Whitcomb, and has at least one of her cats buried in the pet graveyard at the old house. I probably should mention it to Kay; it’s where Jan planted all the daffodils in the old apple orchard.

I’m OK with Laura on a guided tour, or with someone with a sense of direction and a general understanding of the boundaries, but on her own makes no sense. I’m not good for more than a block of walking and Laura’s sense of direction is even worse than mine. Carol has lived in Oberlin a long time now. It’s the perfect place; she’s been an ultra liberal punk rocker since I met her. I called Carol, she met us and off they went. I made my way to a coffee house and waited.

There you have it; our first, semi-official tour. Oberlin offers undergrad courses that can lead to a graduate degree in mental health therapy, and that is Laura’s currently stated objective. We all know these are fluid; wait and see.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Carpe ansam et diem

I just put that title together; don’t be confused or impressed.

I use Google for my news stream. The big publishers have the most in depth coverage. The Times, the Post, WSJ and others I may remember later. They also have a limit to the number of articles per month to be read for free. Now, that stinks.

But, someone must pay, we know. I limit myself to the ten free articles a month, but it’s difficult. Saturn or Flake?

I send money to NPR every month. I send money to Wikipedia every month. I send money to worthy congressmen every month (and Elizabeth Warren). And so forth and so on. What is my problem with paying for news, as we’ve done since the inception of newspapers? I just stopped to grin at all of us living on the Free Press in college.

All the "news" is online. There is the problem. News is out there, and overwhelming. Worse, the news is not news, but opinion and “analysis.” If I want help with what I’m reading, I turn to a source I trust (as does everyone else!). “Yes, Virginia, if you see it in the Sun……”, etc.

I remember a week long argument with a college professor (probably a grad student) over the truth of objectivity, which I maintained did not exist. He said it did, and cited advertising copy. The idiot. For the assignment that week I wrote two paragraphs; same words, rearranged, selling a bag of oranges. Ha!

So, this morning I bit the bullet and paid for the Times and the Post. It had to be done.

Changing topic completely and abruptly, Summit County MetroParks is holding its 54th annual hiking spree. Hikers must complete eight of MetroParks fourteen designated trails. After completing the eight, first year hikers receive a staff and a shield; other hikers another shield to put on the staff. My sister and I, and many friends, hiked the hikes, way back. My staff went into the auction pile when we moved. I hope whoever is adding shields.

Kay asked if Laura could hike with her, “to keep up the momentum.” Kay also thinks they can complete the entire spree in one weekend. I love this woman. Fortunately, the hiking calendar goes through November 30th. I think I’ll get their schedule and take a picture of them completing one of the courses. Saturday will be 52 degrees and 80% chance of rain. Sunday will be 46 degrees and sunny.

The little girl in red shoes hiked her eight trails with my neighbor, and earned a staff. Actually, I hear, she ran fast.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

News business

A week of bad dreams, fighting my way out, and waking to find them on the news. I hate it. The soldiers in Niger—what the hell?

The cap on refugee admittance has never been so low, possibly excepting 1917.

A little girl chokes on her milk and is thrown away.

Puerto Rico may just as well be Mali.

Teen pitches a rock across an overpass bridge and kills a passenger in a car below.

Climate change. Little more to say.

Sears booted Whirlpool. For anyone familiar with my corporate career, ha!

#metoo swept the nation. I take this as a good sign. The army remains and it can move to restore justice. No, not that much. We can undo some damage at the ballot box, but it will take forever.

I went out today, just for a haircut. A relatively unnecessary haircut, except that hair does not grow in scar tissue, and I have a scar that starts in the middle of my forehead, crosses my skull to the nape of my neck and terminates in front of my ear. There they are, chunks of hair opposing each other across the scar. I can’t fix it, just keep it tidy.

It’s raining today. My neighbor told me the “suit” inspection begins at one. I responded I would go out and pull the chain to start the rainbow. The suits need to make their own happiness.

In another lifetime I took pictures. Last night I transferred several thousands of pictures to a new 64 gig drive. I may never look at them again. I need to do a reorg on this old computer, and start again.

It’s fall; here is some color.

Vote. Please.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Scary Halloween at an amusement park

Saturday Laura’s Venture Crew group spent the entire day at Cedar Point. Her bestie, Victoria, went with her. The band marched the night before; they went to bed “lateish” and left for the day about nine a.m. I smiled and closed the door behind them.

Cedar Point bills itself the roller coaster capital of the world. I checked it on the internet, and find the only roller coaster I ever rode, the Blue Streak, remains in service. I rode it in 1964, the year it opened. We stood in line for hours; it was the fastest on the planet and everyone wanted the ride. The ride lasts 1:45 minutes. The drop is 72 feet, the speed 40 mph. 

Laura rated it OK. “It wouldn’t scare you, Grandma.” The ride is seated. Her pick is a suspended ride, all body parts flying as you drop 200 feet at 75 mph, for going on three minutes.

I didn’t tell her I rode the Blue Streak, in the dark ages, before I was married, before I had children.

"You can see Lake Erie and Canada!"

I knew her car of kids was leaving at midnight, the end of the end. I woke at 2:55 a.m. and looked in Laura’s room. Empty. No news is good news; plenty of sensible adults on hand; I went back to bed. The front door opened before I was asleep again.

All the adventure tumbled out in the morning. “Thank you for letting us go!” This amused me. Why wouldn’t I? “You might sit all day by the gate and wait for us!” When pigs fly. “There were old people there with white hair. I wonder if they just rode the carousel?”

It was a Halloween scary thriller weekend at the park. Laura loves “terror.” “It’s not real and can’t hurt me.” Victoria is terrified of being terrified. She stuck for every ride but one. I love that girl.

I was back at Cedar Point with friends and family in the seventies. Everyone was aboard the Blue Streak, except mom and me, comfortably settled on a bench in the sun.

“I rode the Blue Streak once, before Jim and I were married,” I observed.

“I rode a roller coaster once, too,” Mom offered.

“In the delivery room all I could think was ‘This is exactly like riding the roller coaster.’”

“Exactly what I thought,” Mom observed.

The ride ended and everyone got back in line, to wait another turn. Mom and I wandered off for Sno-Cones.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Up, up in the sky

This is half a repost from 2013. But, it began yesterday, in the gym. Kristen had me working away on biceps or triceps or some such, and I looked up and further afield. I knew that back! I jumped up, Kristen following, and went around front. He’ll be more presentable when his wife objects to the beard, but it was Doug. His therapist objected when I focused my phone, but Doug said “It’s OK. I know her. I even like her.”

The first line is a link to the first post, notable mostly for links all over the township. The original story was a lot of fun, so skip on through to it if you like.

At work I went looking for the road guys, to get some paperwork signed.  Down the hall, through the road office, through the road garage, until I spotted them through the open bay doors, out in the yard, looking up, up into the sky.

You know I think the world of these two men.  Tim, the road super, who saved the sunflower from the Memorial Day parade last year.  The sunflower that Doug, the road assistant, and I were charged with watering the week Tim was on vacation.  In one day we nearly baked the poor thing to death, but Doug set up an IV drip of chicken shit water and Sunny was revived.

So, I found Tim and Doug looking way up, and I looked around too, but only saw three planes and their contrails. Cleveland Hopkins International Airport is about twenty miles northwest of the town hall, and air traffic is not an uncommon sight.  As I remarked.

“Do you ever wonder if they will crash in the sky; look how close those two are!”

No, I’ve never wondered that, as air traffic controllers are in charge. 

A little disappointed planes in the sky did not fascinate me, Tim added “We’ve seen the President’s plane go over.”

“NO WAY! How did you know?”

“Fighter jet escorts, one on each wing.”

Having the Fiscal Officer suitably impressed, Tim added “Doug’s even seen numbers in the sky.  Tell her, Doug.”

An embarrassed Doug was prodded into his story.  Driving with a buddy, they both remarked on the striking cloud formations ahead of them, clearly, remarkably forming three different numbers.  No question about it, they both saw them and said them.  “We should play those,” Doug’s buddy said.  “Waste of a buck,” Doug said.

At the next gas stop Doug filled the tank and looked around for his friend, who came out of the station folding his lottery ticket.  He’d played the numbers pick three, boxed.  He advised Doug to go buy a ticket.  Doug called him an idiot and they got back on the road.

You know the end.  The buddy won $790.  Doug’s not seen numbers in the sky since.

The sky, yesterday. That perfect blue; a June sky in October.

And, Doug got his new knee. He fought it for at least three years. Now, he'll probably go back for the other knee.

Friday, October 20, 2017

How do they do it?

Years ago, when first appointed township clerk, I kept the old schedule. Up, up and away, out the door when working people leave. Eventually I realized the post office doesn’t start putting mail in the boxes before nine, and my morals began slipping. Thirteen years later I often was guilty of retrieving last week’s mail today.

Recently, over the last year or so, I’ve been asked to get up early a time or two, or three. Set the alarm sorts of early. When I’m down under the covers, I can tell the time by the car sounds. “That car leaves at eight, that car is pretty soon after. That one is before nine….” But why get up?

Once I could be up and gone in half an hour, and no one ever knew I cut it that close. It’s no fun drying your hair in an open window breeze below freezing, but….

Now leaving takes an hour, and generally more. I’ve tried telling the cat I’ll take care of his room when I’m back, but he’s not buying it. I can’t estimate the time, anyway. I’ve cut back on sitting and staring out the window, but that still sneaks up.

This week, and I’m including last weekend, has involved plenty of alarm setting. Delivery of the kid to her aid station last Saturday, to pass out water to runners in none to full Viking regalia, for the Viking Dash—quarter, half and full marathons. Full regalia includes a lot of fur.

An eight a.m. doctor appointment this week necessitated the alarm, as did an eleven a.m. appointment yesterday. Too many alarms; I remember sleeping, or not, the night before last. And last night, Kay called for a “tremendous” favor. Would I come over and let in the mouse exterminator at eight a.m. this morning. Why not?

Today, physical training at eleven. Lunch with Ann at noon, and send her back on her power drive from Wisconsin. I see she’s not becoming younger either. She stayed over at a friend’s in Indiana. My nap will happen until Laura comes home from school, before early delivery for band inspection for an away game, during which I will drive to the far end of Hudson and retrieve her best friend for an overnight.

Tomorrow someone will get the two of them around ten, for the drive to Haunted Cedar Point. Their return drive leaves at closing, midnight. I need to calculate what time to get up to return Victoria to her home by ten a.m. on Sunday. Oh, yes. Laura is visiting her siblings on Sunday; and on Sunday night we are going to Kay’s to schedule out their (Kay and Laura) Fall Hiking Spree.

My calendar is fairly vacant for next week, except a lot of sleeping, and forgetting the mayhem of the past week.

G'ma, France and Ann, a life time ago. Fifteen years, anyway.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


I read Al Franken’s book. Senator Franken. I have a lot of respect for Minnesota, including electing Franken. It’s wrapped up for Ann for Christmas. I read “Behind her Eyes”, for book club next week. Mark Twain said, I think in “Letters from Earth”, and I’m loosely attributing here, if you have a character and can’t figure out what to do with him, take him out back and push him down the well.” That will be my only remark on this book. Sadly, not only will no one get it, about twenty four of twenty five will be offended.

I haven’t pulled the zipper on Hillary’s packaging yet. I have Henry James “Portrait of a Lady” on my MP3 player, but cannot bring myself to go in and start sewing charity quilts again, and listening. I think I’ll buy a boxed set of Joyce Oates. Maybe I will buy a bookcase, though I swore off book collecting.

When you’re flying somewhere for Christmas, it makes more sense to ship the presents. Our carton isn’t full yet.

Laura asked me if I liked peach cobbler. Of course. Well, she thought she would make some. Do we have peaches? Oh, yes, she bought them at the market. Everything she cooks comes from Google. I simply have no kitchen cred, and was stunned when she asked if there was a good way to peel peaches, besides “peeling” them. Sadly, she bought no fuzz peaches, and had to peel. I told her about boiling water/cold water and skin slipping. That will be next time. So will brown sugar and sweet biscuit dough. But they were almighty good, irrespective. I went out in search of vanilla ice cream while the cook labored.

It’s Monday. Nowhere to go, nothing to do, so I drove to the post office to mail what could be mailed from home. I forwarded an insurance company letter to the Red Bus attorney. Not touching that with a stick. And, I mailed my on sale genetic test kit. Since I will never know why my grandfather married my grandmother, I’ll see how Irish I really am. The testing company divides Ireland into roughly four tiers, and I know I’m the top tier (Donegal) and the bottom (Cork). Or, am I?

I picked up my accountant, walking up the road, as she always does, and gave her a ride to the post office. I thought how I used to love driving around the township, taking pictures and posting them on the township website. No one seems to do that anymore. The only person who ever thanked me for the pictures was the husband of my troublesome trustee. Another unmissed bit of my job, though not by me.

I passed this Mennonite couple walking up the road. So unusual. See how they are in step. Beautiful. The husband had a pole, and I cannot imagine where they fished the bag of fish the wife carried. Or where they lived. I offered a ride, but was turned down.  I asked if I could take a picture. Only of their backs, and thank you for asking.

The only other picture worthy subject was on my favorite abandoned road, Wetmore. So, I came home and talked to my BFF, Carol, for an hour. “Carol, you spent your career in pharma. When will this end?” “I don’t know, Jo, I don’t know.”

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Leader of the pack (they won’t miss you when I’m gone)

Laura emerged from the band bus, bummed last Friday. That’s “despondent” in old people language. 

I’ve learned it’s better to pry into these attitudes than let them pass, and eventually got the full earful.

“Trumpets!” she snarled. Translation: guys who play trumpets.

“Jerks!” she responded to another pick. Translation: guys who play trumpets, behaving badly.

“Loud and stupid!” Wouldn’t shut up.” Getting somewhere now.

“About gays!” Aha; she went to a GSA meeting after school. GayStraightAlliance. I thought they just tie-died shirts at the meeting. Guys all around her on the bus, being loud and stupid about gays. They probably do know she’s a member, and think a good target. In which case they picked the wrong person.

But, something’s not right here. I went to the principal and the band director the beginning of last year, when Laura had been assaulted and, frankly, was terrified of starting ninth grade a year ago. As a result of my  meeting with the principal, the boy who assaulted her and the boys who bullied her literally are not to be seen. No shared classes. No shared lunch periods. They don’t even cross in hall ways. The principal promised me that would happen. But, band?

“I thought boys and girls were on opposite sides of the bus.”  A snort in response.

“Chaperones?” Front of the bus and uninvolved. They are supposed to be interspersed with the students.

“What was said?” “They were screaming at me, ‘How do you have sex with a trans? Where do you stick it?’ Stuff like that!”

When the jerk trumpets refused to shut up, she shut up and waited out the bus ride back to school.

Today we talked solutions. I sent an email to the teacher who sponsors GSA, explaining she needed to open a discussion and show the youngsters ways to deal with jerk trumpets. 

Then I sent one to the band director, telling her she broke the rules I knew were in place at the beginning of 2016, a year ago. Boys on one side of the bus; girls on the other; chaperones evenly distributed. I have witnesses (more than one, I hope.)

“And don’t mention I’m the only S in the whole group. Let them worry about breaking a bunch more rules. They won’t miss you when I’m gone.”

Summer's almost gone; winter's coming on.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Not again!

This is another of those ‘I wish I were what I was’. I’m on this continuum of living, but I’m missing the landmarks. I’m grateful to everyone who steps up and puts me on the right turn. I’m less disappointed in those who don’t.

It’s a new quarter at school for Laura, come Monday. I realize I must not have been involved when all the registration for this year occurred. It would have been at the end of last year, this April or May. Or the beginning of this year, June, July. Whenever, I was not in the room when she was assigned a gym class that could have been this summer and a study hall, in lieu of a computer class.

What’s done is done. I just finished tracking down her counselor. The same I went toe to toe with over Emily’s scheduling. You may remember this as the counselor who gave her no help in finding and applying for scholarships, and Emily and I did all the spadework. Dear god, why must I relearn all this, instead of having a practiced format.

Another day with nothing to do and all day to get it done. Actually, this is the fourth weekday of this week. The big day was Wednesday, an appointment with my PC for a four month follow up, then Laura’s counselor. That was a good outcome, though. Then band practice, and done.

At my doctor appointment, Dr. J said, “You know you’ve lost four pounds since I saw you last. Do you know why?” “Probably walking more,” I threw in. Life is better, for a month of Belbuca; I can walk a block and back. The truth is, I don’t eat enough, and was disguising it with ice cream. Hershey’s, two big scoops in a waffle cone, every Friday on the way home from taking Laura to marching band inspection.

She’s not coming home tonight; she has a GSA meeting, then inspection and another damn football game. We’ll be home late and up early for her to volunteer at an aid station, passing out water to folks who run marathons for fun, on the towpath. Laura’s Gay Straight Alliance makes more sense than running on dirt trails, for fun. No school tomorrow, so Friday night football is Thursday, this week. No Los Angeles Radio Theater to listen to.

I had texts to pick up prescriptions. I delivered my opinion of the quality of her work to the counselor who signed off Laura’s schedule, instead of me. I decided I needed a donut, and started a mental search for a shop with cream filled donuts, within easy reach. I needed gas, too, and stopped at Marathon. I glanced over at the store I never enter, and read the sign: Dunkin’ Donuts.

I thought I bought enough for lunch and supper. I didn’t.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Completely unexpected

When did something last come your way, from the blue? Unexpected. Joyful. Lifts the load a bit.

My life has been so full of children and associated problems for the last five or six years, I don’t know myself from them, at times. Three are down to one. Hamilton studying computer programming at Tri-C in Cleveland, where he also manages a Chipotle. Emily is studying computer programming at Hiram. Laura and I just rub along.

Beautiful day
Most of us remember the wall of craziness Laura encountered two years ago, during middle school. I couldn’t stop it; I couldn’t turn it around. In desperation, I just left it behind and started over. Laura was hospitalized for about three months, in lessening degrees of stricture, until we settled into a routine of seeing a counselor every other week and a psychiatrist every month. And, that’s the way it’s been for way over a year. We just do it.

Must arrive before school buses are two deep
Yesterday was the usual appointment with the counselor who walked this long path with us. I leave the house promptly at 2:30, to get in line at school to get her at three, to forge back through the inadequate infrastructure of Hudson to arrive at Children’s Hospital for our four o’clock appointment with her counselor. Get the ticket in the parking deck, through all the doors, down all the halls, check in and wait. Yesterday I forgot to get my knitting, but I took the Akron Beacon Journal from the wall pocket. I’ve stretched it into an hour more than once.

Not bad
I wanted to put together a Halloween post yesterday, and put Laura in charge of  pictures as we drove to the freeway. There’s one! Too late. Oh, well. There’s one.  We missed it. But, she did learn to zoom the lens, and took a picture of the crumbling bricks she has admired for a while.

Bona fide Halloween
When we checked in, Stephanie, the receptionist with red hair I wish I had, and I made our December appointments. A matter of honor with me, Laura does not miss school for doctor appointments. I own four p.m. appointments as far as they are open in her counselor’s calendar. The counselor came out for Laura, and asked if I had any issues to come in about. As usual I replied if there was anything, I was sure Laura would mention it.

Must capture holes in foundation
I read almost every column of that paper, because it did have to last an hour. I’d just opened up to and folded back Dear Abby and the funnies, when the counselor actually tapped my shoulder to get my attention. Would I please join them? Save the incident this summer, when Laura was being consumed by her phone, I cannot recall the interior of that office.

The gist of the summons: she and Laura think Laura has her affairs nicely in hand, and they would like to cut back to one meeting a month, in case something needs tidied up. I’m not surprised, but what an unexpected, pleasing announcement. Wow. How nice. We stopped by Stephanie’s desk and cancelled all our second meetings of the month already on the books, including the fresh December appointment.

Stephanie reprinted our schedule. “You are wasting paper,” Laura admonished. “I know,” said Stephanie, “but no mistakes this way.”

Monday, October 9, 2017

Corset strings

Like any problem, it’s a matter of identifying the boxes and ticking them off. I inserted myself into the childcare situation across the street, and then became the adult who would resolve it. Cathy is doing much of the legwork. She knows everything already, just doesn’t know how to put it together.

I was most of the morning gathering all the names and relationships involved. Cathy had a talk with the one father we know, who talks the talk and may walk the walk, if prodded enough by Cathy. He says he will “turn the mother in” to child services. Whether he makes the call or not, other cogs and wheels have begun turning.

We have one father for two of the children, and a grandmother for the third.

Boxes and tics:

No supper for the children: There is no propane for cooking (or heating, or hot baths!). Solution: propane is ordered for delivery today. Dad is paying, and taking responsibility for keeping the tank full.

Breakfast for the children: All cereal, milk and juice is transferred to the caregiver’s kitchen (Cathy).

Cigarettes and weed in the house: The Health District will make a visit one day this week. I know the agent; he solved the smoking in the office problem. He’ll solve this one, too.

Drug dealer at the house: This one was fun. I know all the officers on the force. I called the chief and said I had a job for his new detective. The new detective, plus side kick, spent one hour with the mother yesterday. The chief tells me the dealer will no longer be on the street. If transactions occur other places, the Health District cog is turning, and at minimum will keep the smoke outside.

The boys in school:  Tough. The older boy bullies the younger. They are half brothers. I have close to a graduate degree in “pass it down” bullying, so I’m sure the older is bullied himself. He tells Cathy he will be dead by 20, of HIV. What the hell. He is eight years old.  I have an appointment tomorrow with the school social worker to tell all I know about these two boys. The older boy has the grandmother. I don’t have her name yet, but the school may.

The school social worker is a knowledgeable and kind woman. She and I worked with the three grandchildren I brought into the school system, to help them adjust and assimilate.  If not, and you know I had one and a half abject failures to correct, she can to move these children along to another authority.

And I still played cards with the Methodists this afternoon.

If some suit from New Jersey shows up on my porch with a bogus complaint, what an earful he’ll have this time. My grandma says I can loosen the corset strings now. And, I'm not doing this any more.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Judgment passed

Years and years ago I learned the meaning of phrases like “There but for the grace of God go I.” So today a story about a Trailer Park, and I live here. There probably is no finer place in the world for meeting America. Every skin color you can imagine. LGB and T (“Oh my God, don’t tell anyone I told you I’m trans!” Still fear attached to T). Every degree of poorness to poverty.

The children are wonderful. They have no idea they’re poor, up to age two or three anyway. They play their games in the street, ride their bikes faster than we drive our cars through. Mom’s come home from work and herd a child or two or three into their home. Dad’s come home from work and come back out and fire up the grill and the neighborhood smells wonderful from dinner cooking.

Then, a mom who threw out a cat that Cathy and I re-homed. She may as well throw out the three kids as well, for all the good that roof does the three of them. Cathy started out watching just the three year old while mom cleans houses, through a service. It’s morphed into feeding all three breakfast, taking the boys to the bus stop, bringing the boys in at night until mom gets home. All for the same twenty dollars a day. If mom manages to get to work.

They boys do homework in the morning because mom wouldn’t let them in until dark. The boys get physically sick at school, and Cathy goes for them. Maybe because breakfast at Cathy’s was their first meal since lunch yesterday. Maybe because they like Cathy.

I’ve drilled Cathy in “No.” “No, I won’t take you to the gas station for cigarettes." We haven’t figured out “No, I won’t watch your kids while your drug dealer is here.”

Mama smokes, cigarettes and weed. She drinks with her boyfriends. She has new fingernails every week. I am such a cat, aren’t I? I cannot bear the thought of involving children’s services—yet. The police aren’t interested in marijuana—it’s penny ante.

The other day I found Cathy crying, holding a pair of flip flops that belong to one of the kids. Cathy has taught the little girl her colors, how to count. She takes her on the fall hiking spree in the metro parks, every day. “Look at what the child has to walk in,” she yelled at me, waving the flip flops. After supper Laura and I went to the shoe store.

Cathy was happy, and upset. “How can I explain these. They know I can’t afford them!”

“Say they came from Good Neighbors”; (a locally known charitable organization).

We’ll keep an eye on the kids this winter. Their grandma got shoes for the boys. We’ll see what we can do with her. And, I am calling the health department. The mom needs to quit smoking indoors. Other than that, I really don’t know what to do.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

You guys!

No one will be offended by this analogy, I’m sure. 

Last spring (though I have lost track of so much of this year), when the gop put out the first ACA repeal attempt, it seemed the entire list of gop-ers we were calling turned off their phones, their faxes, their email addresses. On Facebook came a share, to this effect: “Ok, Paul Ryon has gone radio silent. Here is his home address. Everyone send him a post card timed to arrive on Monday. Let’s have a hundred thousand post cards dumped on the end of his driveway.”

Mine was included.

I have struggled through a personal problem this summer, and I was as transparent as, well, a sheet of glass. There is a universe, though, and this week it has been sending really good stuff my way. Did you all get together and arrange a world-wide mail date? Thank you. We are burning up the return postal system with all Laura’s left over little round international thank you stamps. Back from her attempted international pen pal days. Thank you, thank you, and thank you.

The problem is coming to resolution. For the last two years more than a couple of friends have said, “This is none of my business, and tell me to shut up if I’m out of line, but, have you made plans for Laura?” Past changing a toxic environment and following her path to recovery, no, I haven’t.

The Red Bus business scared the bejammers out of me, when I was collected enough to think it through. There was dead and more to consider. Then, an incident this summer, in which the three family members on whom I might rely told me they would not have her. And half the time I couldn’t think clearly, on top of it.

I thought about her art teacher, Mrs. P. But Mrs. P. is moving house and starting her last one in college and all that stuff, and Laura only has two high school years left and I’ll be here and etcetcetc. My best friends are states away. Ann and I talked and Carol and I talked, and really had nothing more to say on the subject except we hoped I’d figure it out.

Then Laura smashed the car and Kay lent me one for two weeks. I helped Kay switch around her plethora of cars, and told her my dilemma on one of our rides. When I finally paid attention, I realized Kay was saying, over and over, “I’ll take her.” Laura, of course, was in complete agreement with that, and I called my daughter to tell her what I was planning, too.

Well, that backfired. I listened patiently, but ended the call when I was informed I was the villain who cut off Laura from all contact with the family. That was pretty much the last straw, and definitely the end of the conversation, toward the end of last week.

So, my sister bought a new house, which I knew. Saturday night I took a last look at Facebook, and read my sister thanking, by name, everyone of the family who helped her and Tom move in Saturday. My daughter, Laura’s mother. Bekka, Hamilton, Emily, Laura’s siblings, two of whom were my wards their high school years. I had no idea Saturday was moving day. No one called and asked if Laura could join the moving party. I stared at the screen a long time, and turned it off.

It is what it is. And, the postman filled my mail box this week with cards and letters and little presents. You guys are wonderful!

And, P.S., I saw Mrs. P. downtown today, and told her my solution.

“You know I would have Laura in a minute!”

“And, you’re my first back-up. But, I’ll still be here.”

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Venture Crew

We ventured into Garfield Heights last night, in the dark. It’s one of the conglomerate of southwestern Cleveland, post world war two, suburbs. The roads tangle, lanes end with reflective barriers. Poor roads, inadequate signage, unmarked alleys, three of which comprised the drive way into the community center. It’s not threatening or dangerous, it’s confusing and frustrating. We were in search of the Garfield Heights community center and our first meeting of Venture Crew 2309.  

They say Crew 2309 for short. They are Venture Crew to me. We walked into a room of teen age voices. Laura was a new face and adsorbed on contact into a mass of teenagers she knew not. I located the Scout leader I have met on and off for the last thirty years, was introduced to the mother of an eighteen year old Eagle Scout, who was pointed out to me, on the other side of the room.

I sank into a sofa next to the Eagle Scout mom, who also is a veterinarian and a Crew volunteer. For an hour my head swam in a wave of noise. The treasurer finished signing us up (and collecting dues). The scout leader next to me, and the one in front of me (whose sister I’ve also known for thirty years), and the veterinarian beside me told me of past adventures and what they hoped the Venture Crew might plan for this year.

In an hour’s time I arranged to never drive Laura to or from a meeting in Garfield Heights, and heard in minute detail last summer’s hike for two weeks in some mountain range in New Mexico (and the two month’s preparation (it involves red blood corpuscles, I’ve been told)). The other bimonthly meeting is at the Methodist Church, the home of card playing every Monday afternoon. I can certainly car pool there.

The meeting ended. Two things happened. I could not ascend from the depths of the sofa. The veterinarian whistled between her teeth. Her son appeared. “He’s trained to do this,” she said. “Can he pick you up?” Woosh, I was upright again.

Then, because they had not “appropriately” opened the meeting by pledging allegiance to the flag, they concluded with the recitation to a flag on the board, honoring veterans, and made of half a dozen twisted strips of red crepe paper over many, many stars and the black board, filmed by years and years of chalk dust. All as obscure as much of this country’s current moral sense, unless, of course, those young pledgers cared more about each other than our abused little pledge. Kept that to myself.

“So what did you and those three young women find to chat up so animatedly?”

“Band! They are in Woodridge band. We talked about what they do and what we do.”

Chicoma Mountain, New Mexico

Monday, October 2, 2017

Deja vue

It’s like November 9, 2016, isn’t it. Ground Hog day, all over again. I think tomorrow I’ll cash in my forever postcards and a small stack of uncashed checks accumulating in the junk corner and go back to the task of dialing the gop. And make another donation to Senator Brown.

Laura absolutely cringes when I launch into my best Janis Joplin: “Oh lord, won’t you buy me a color TV; dialing for gop-ers is waiting for me.” I live in a little blue pocket of Ohio, and have two blue members of Congress, though Josh Mandel seems to be mounting a strong challenge to Sherrod Brown. Portman, my other senator, needs to hear the president must be rebuked for bullying Ms. Cruz.

“I would like Senator Portman to make a public statement condemning the president’s words and expressing support for our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico.” I’ve learned from a friend of mine, it’s good to have them write it down, as often a necessary, until they can read it back. It could be a pleasant change from all the gun legislation calls they may be receiving.

Ann called me today, and made a reference to retiring. I reminded her, a trifle bitterly, I did not retire from my last job. Oh, she meant weaving, my last full time job. She just doesn’t understand how we “old ladies” cannot become accustomed to having nothing to do all day. She may be down in two weeks, to discuss this.

My only job tomorrow is to take Laura to a Crewmembers Venturing meeting. Venturing is a BSA off shoot for boys and girls. We missed the first meeting due to the car brouhaha, and the driv-ee is anxious not to miss sign up for Cedar Point Halloween. Laura has not accepted the driving anywhere since I got back the car. It will be dusk, driving to Garfield Heights tomorrow, but not six p.m. Wednesday, to band practice.

Quite the agenda, eh?

The Methodist chicken, refurbished for election day. Remember to vote in your own precinct, in November.