31 October 2016

Family Eruption

TRIGGER WARNING: Discussion of women's safety in contemporary America.  Could get ugly.

Just when you think that everything is going along swimmingly...  a shark fin is spotted in the harbor!
What the heck does that mean?  Well, I thought that everything was going really well with my dad and the teenager and then shit blew up this weekend.  Sigh.

Actually, everything is still going well with my dad and the teenager, it's my younger brother who is the problem.  Here's how it went down:

Friday afternoon I got a text from the niece asking if I would call Gramps and let him know that she could get herself home from work on her own.  I asked, 'What's going on?'  Turns out my brother, not her father but the other brother, has decided that it is too much trouble to pick her up at the transit center (or work) when she has a late shift.  He says that it's too hard on the grandfather to stay up past 9:00 pm.  Mind you, the grandfather did not say this, only his pampered son.  AND, it was her first day on the job.

The transit center is not far from their house, but it is a dangerous place in the dark, with all sorts of miscreants, punks and homeless people hanging out and relative isolation physically from the rest of the community.  You have to cross a bridge and descend a stair to a platform alongside the tracks and overlooking the freeway -- there is no street access or businesses nearby, it's very isolated.

So, my brother decided that it was too late for our dad to go out at night, and he certainly couldn't be bothered to shift his lazy ass off the couch to pick up the kid, so she'd have to get herself home after her work shift ended at 9:15.

I AM SO ANGRY WITH MY BROTHER!  AND MY DAD!  AND MY OTHER BROTHER!

Fucking straight white men and their fucking straight white man PRIVILEGE!  My blood was boiling!  It's still at an active simmer!

Not a one of them has ever been afraid.  Not a one of them has ever been threatened.  Not a one of them has had to endure the hidden violence of cat-calling, of being followed, of being accosted while waiting for a bus or a train.  They haven't been shoved up against a wall while some man presses his engorged dangly bits against them.  They haven't had to deal with the realistic fear of being young and female in the city (or anywhere).  They have never been raped.  They are so fucking oblivious!  And entitled!

The first thing I texted back to my niece was: I will pick you up at work.  I don't want her to have to quit her job because she has no one to rely on within her family.  I don't care if she works or not, that's not my issue, but I don't want her world restricted to the daylight hours and the small safe zone she has around the house.  How many of us have had to conquer that in our lifetimes?  I remember back in the 1970's when my mom picked me up at the school bus stop in the car when I had late practice in high school.  It was about a tenth of a mile; we could have counted our steps between the two spots, but it was along a main road with no houses or businesses within sight or earshot and my mom didn't feel that it was safe for me to walk home in the dark.  All I can say now is, Thank you, Mom, for being worried about me.  I will gladly continue to pay that forward.

*** Take a breath.  I need to as well. ***

I'm mad at my younger brother.  Full stop.  I'm frustrated with my dad and older brother (father of the kid).  There are multiple layers of angst rearing up in my family right now, and some of them are extremely unsettling, but one thing ties the three adult men in the family together: their willful blindness to the peril women face on a daily basis.  If they lived a week in our shoes, they wouldn't begin to understand what we have known since childhood: the world will hurt you.  There are bad people who seek to control and debase you.  Every action will be judged and found wanting.  Do not talk; dress; act; look; behave; speak; (etc) that way, or pay the consequences.  It doesn't matter how nice, quiet, sweet, unassuming, invisible you are -- the world will hurt you.

*** Ok, take another breath with me...***

My dad and brothers are looking at things like: how far away is the transit center?  Not the reality of; what is the transit center like at night for an 18 year old girl?

My older brother thanked me for taking his daughter to the self defense course.  I said, yes, but a single class does not make a black belt.  It would be foolish for her to assume that because she has completed one 3-hour class that she can go anywhere with impunity.  Fortunately, she is smarter and savvier than they are.

The other big issue raised was that she should be driving herself.  Now, that might have been expected if she were living in the rural suburbs where she grew up, or even the suburbs around Portland, but she lives in a close-in city neighborhood and works downtown.  You tell me how leaving her car in a parking garage and having to get back to it safely late at night is a safe strategy... These men have never lived our lives.  I'm sorry, but parking garages are very dangerous.  That's our reality.

Upshot: I'm picking up my niece after her late shifts and dropping her off at her/my dad's house.  My younger brother is out of the equation.  That's good.

The other upshot: my younger brother has said some things to me that make me seriously doubt his mental state.  He is making up a new history for himself that doesn't align with what we lived.  That's pretty concerning.  Also, he has a lot of influence with our dad.

Pollyanna note:  I dropped by my dad's house this morning to check on him when my brother wasn't there.  He appreciated me checking in and is feeling better about things.  He is still 100% supportive of the kid living here and is enjoying her company.  Also, Pollyanna #2, I'll get to see the kid more often and I count that as a good thing.

***Go ahead and take a few more breaths.  Shake your head.  Breathe again.  We all need it.***


18 October 2016

Update from PDX

What do I have to say that is of interest?  Little, as usual.  But, a survey of events since last I posted reveals that I am overdue on communication.

So, how was the trip to Cali?  Good.

Lisa, my bestie from the first day of high school, the one who needs a kidney, the one we went to celebrate the birthdays with in April, is doing much, much better.  I was so relieved when I saw her!  She didn’t have her old energy – but, who among us does?  But, she was so much healthier than when we last saw her… quite the relief!  The dialysis is definitely working!

She still teaches at the really rough high school, and it is just so draining.  I worry about her all the time.   The kids are so bad.  The administration is so bad (but maybe a tiny bit better than last year).  Hell, southern California is bad.  It’s unhealthy, I believe.  It’s so dirty.  And so crowded.  So hot.  And so stressful. But, maybe that’s just me.  Anyway, I wish Lisa didn’t have to keep exhausting herself on a daily basis.

But, that’s my worry.  Let’s move on to other things.

This coming weekend I will be assisting in a Women’s Self Defense class at my martial art school.  A little background:  Besides being a black belt, I completed the training to instruct women’s and children’s self defense classes.  I worked at that in my limited spare time for a while.  But, then my mom got sick, and then she transitioned to another plane, and my energetic focus has been directed elsewhere since then.  One of my teammates is taking over the self defense program and asked me if I was interested in assisting once a month or so.  I pondered this a fair bit.  And, I decided that, yes, I was interested in going back to teach self defense.  The time is right…  sadly, the time is always right for teaching self defense.

Did I tell you about my niece moving to Portland?  Well, she did, and she is absolutely delightful.  She is smart, funny, quirky, studious, sweet, sincere.  She is a great kid!  She’s living at my dad’s house, which is great for both of them.  They are keeping an eye on each other.  Lol.  I’m trying to find the balance between helping out when and where I am needed and not interfering!  Hahahahhaha….  Actually, I’ve been pretty good at not overwhelming her.  Which makes me wonder if I should be in touch more…

One of the cats needed a trip to the vet and a ridiculous vet bill. Of course, it was the best kitty.  Couldn’t be the jerk who pees in the house, no, it had to be the most loving and affectionate of the cats.  The one for whom we are willing to spend beyond our budget.  Sigh.

We had a massive storm last weekend, but it wasn’t nearly as traumatic as the prognosticators thought it would be.  Glad of that!  Still, I did have water in my basement and there are branches down everywhere.  If it’s headed your way, it’s a wet one.

Well, I guess that’s all for now.  I hope things are humming along on a good track for the rest of you!


26 September 2016

Update from the PNW

So, the camping trip.  It went well.  It rained for a day and a half, which was actually quite pleasant.  The vintage trailer has an awning and the neighbors brought their free-standing awning, so we had some covered outdoor space.

In a rainy climate, there is little as important as covered outdoor space.

Well, ok, yeah, food and stuff.  But, everyone needs a place to go outside and breath and not get rained on.  We need that here.  It's important.  And, it's important to all of us, not just the smokers, although it's essential for them.

So.  Dry.  Mostly.

The campground was lovely.  Towering firs so darkly green, big leaf maple begin to change color, the fall wildflowers holding their heads up in the rain.  And, of course, the ferns and mosses.  Aahhhh...  forest bathing was wonderful.  I just typed 'forest breathing' instead... should have left it.  It's the breath, always.

Yes, we had a good time.  Occasionally I felt like T and I could descend into snippiness, but we rose above it.

We sat around the fire, we hiked some of the trails, we took our dogs to the fenced off leash area (which was quite a hike by itself!), we took a nap or two.  All good.  On one of the nights, the clouds had cleared out and we walked up to the big empty meadow to take in the stars.  Oh, so fine to see them!  Living in the city takes away so much starshine, and if you add the cloudy skies to it, well, we rarely get that amount of beautiful stargazing in one evening.  It was Stellar!  Lol!

It was good for us to get out of town for a few days.  It was quiet and relaxing.

We've had a few flare ups in the week since, but overall... holding somewhat steady.  T has another challenge coming up this weekend, though.  I'm going down to California to visit my very ill best friend.  She got tickets for us to see Dolly Parton at the Hollywood Bowl!  I've had to remind T a couple of times lately that I am allowed to have friends and to visit/hang out with them.

Other than that, friends, it's been pretty much ok around here.  What's happening in your world?


15 September 2016

Premature Positivity

Life as a Pollyanna

It's so pleasant to live life looking for the positive in all things.

Except when reality rears up and smacks one in the face.

So, yes, I thought things were pretty smooth with the gal.  I thought we had weathered the worst of the transition to living apart and now everything would move easily along.  Ha.  Silly me.  There's lots more drama stored up in that woman than I was expecting.  She had a huge meltdown this past weekend.

It started because I went to a soccer match with a friend.  A friend, yes a lesbian friend, but still a friend and not a fling.  T knows this friend well and knows that I have zero interest in her except as a friend.

And, here's the thing that really bugs me: this particular friend, Ang, has been a consistent and regular and welcoming person, inviting me/us over for drinks or meals or game nights, etc.  I've known her longer than I've known T, and she has been a better friend than any of T's friends.

The soccer match (Go Thorns!) was last Wednesday.  Then, because summer is almost over and time's awasting, Ang and I decided to can peaches on Saturday.  It's a long and laborious project, but we did it last year and wanted to do it again.  As to be expected, it took hours and hours to get through 3 boxes of peaches.  (Boy, do they look good!)  However, my squirrel-brained partner decided that I was avoiding her and surely looking to 'hook up' with Ang.  Oh, good grief.

The real kicker was that there was another soccer match on Sunday.  I had planned to go to it, again with Ang because she has season tickets and offered.  T knew this.  But, on Sunday while we were watching football, she had a meltdown about how I was choosing Ang over her and why didn't I just admit that I wanted to break up with her and be with someone else.  Much drama ensued.

Here's the thing, people: I'm 57 years old.  I am not interested in playing these stupid relationship games.  It's like fucking high school around here, sometimes.  I DO NOT LIKE THAT.

And, I do not like having to justify my life.  I get to have friends.  I get to have other interests.  I get to live my life the way that I want to.  I'm 57!  I'm not going to spend the next couple of decades making sure someone else is 'ok' with the choices I make.

Here's what I want:  A partner who has a life of her own but enjoys spending quality time with me.  Someone who doesn't assume that I'm unfaithful just because I have friends and a life of my own.  I'm not certain that T is that person.

Now, I know that I can swing back and forth on the relationship pendulum.  There are things I love about T and reasons I want to be with her, but when shit like this blows up - all I want to do is shut it down.  I'm in  a shut it down mood this week, for sure.

But, because plans are made long in advance, we just happen to be going camping this weekend with our friends and best neighbors.  We are going on Friday and coming home on Monday.  I'm not worried about how we will get along.  We are champions at smoothing things over.  And, we are all looking forward to getting out of the city and into the woods.  It's a good thing, and it's one of the things we both enjoy.  Hell, all four of us enjoy it!  We will definitely have a good time.  Our issues will not go away, but we will be able to put them on hold for a few days.

Long term, though, this situation may be asking too much of T.  I know that she would rather be in a more traditional relationship than I am offering.  I know that this is better for me, but it's up to her to decide if it's going to be enough for her satisfaction.

In the meantime, bring on the camping!  Bring on the Forest Bathing!

23 August 2016

The new arrangement

So, how’s the new arrangement going, you ask?  Overall, pretty well.  T is settling in at her new place, although she has loads of stuff here at my house.  I don’t really care about that – at least not right now.  Her condo has tons of storage (rare, I know!) so she will be finding spots for most things as we go along.

Most of the time, I think she likes being back in Vancouver.  Her family are all there, and she is just minutes away from them all.  Sometimes that’s a good thing and sometimes it’s an annoyance, but overall it’s good.  They love having her back!  Also, her new job is just minutes from her home and she loves that.  She goes home for lunch and walks the dog, so that’s a very good thing.

Round here, things are beginning to settle down.  We’ve had a very busy August, what with T moving and then a family wedding and all sorts of other busy-ness going on.  I’m looking forward to things settling down and cooling down as we move closer to fall.  I need to get into a new routine and get the feel of it.  Right now I feel pulled in too many directions.

But, when I’m at home, alone, my contentment is up and my anxiety is down.  You know, as long as I had plenty of reading material, I could easily be a hermit.  I have very little need for socializing, and usually find myself to be the best company.  I don’t mean that in a ‘I hate people’ kind of way, just that it is so restful and calm, so restorative and serene, when I am by myself.

One thing that has surprised me is that I really miss the little dog!  T took the grouchiest of the cats and the dog with her to her new place.  I wanted her to take another cat, but she can only have two pets.  I don’t miss the cat much at all, but the dog… yes.  I haven’t been without a dog for many years.  It feels decidedly odd.  Plus, last month when she was staying with her sister during the week, I was in the habit of taking him for a brisk 20 minute walk every morning, and a more leisurely one in the afternoons.  It was good for both of us.  Now, T has to take him out every time he needs to pee, but I don’t think she is walking him for exercise.  Oh well.  He is happier with her, no matter what.  He misses being here, though!  Of course, she brings him over whenever she comes, but it’s not the same for him.  He has no dog door or his own backyard…  I’ll have to think about getting a dog of my own, but I’m in no hurry just yet.

We’ve had conversations with friends about our living separately but still being together.  Some people get it, others don’t.  One of her friends is sure that this is just step one to a break up.  Another friend is quite jealous of the arrangement, but her partner said ‘don’t even think about it!’  That made me laugh! It is a little out of the ordinary, but it works better for both of us right now.

So, really, there’s not a lot to report.  Everything is settling down and we are looking to establish our new normal.  How are things going in your world?

18 July 2016

Change is in the air

Hey You Excellent People!

Yes, both of you!

I’m popping in to give an update.  Things are changing around here.  For the better.  

T and I are in the process of changing our living arrangement.  She has bought a condo north of Vancouver and will be moving in mid-August.

We are not breaking up.  We are finding a different way to be together.

I’m happy about it. 

:-)

04 April 2016

Nothing much

Hey, You Gals!

I’ve been telling myself for weeks to assemble some thoughts and words for a blog post.  A few times I even thought ‘that might be of interest’ but, whatever those thoughts were, they’re gone now.  So, I’m taking a few minutes to tell you that I don’t have anything to tell you.

What else?

Spring is here in all her glory.  Spring in the PNW is ridiculously lush.  Walking though petal-storms all the time, streets turned pink, pollen blowing in yellow clouds… you get the idea.  Seriously though? If you ever come to Portland, Spring is absolutely gorgeous.

Today the lilac opened.  :-)

But, I’m not gloating!  Really!  Some of you are getting snow, actual snow (that you didn’t get in the Winter!), when you should be getting flowers.  It’s sad when that happens.  What frequently happens here is that the cherry trees all burst into bloom when a storm front arrives.  Yes, the gutters are pink for a couple of days, but the trees are beaten down and the whole thing is just a soggy mess.  We’ve had a mixed bag of late, but we had nearly a week of sunshine, so I’m not complaining about the rain today.

More?

T is finally selling her house.  It was on the market when we first met, but the time wasn’t right.  She has been renting it to her brother for several years but he can’t afford the amount of the mortgage payment, so T has had to pay every month to make up the difference.  She’s tired of that, and his kids are now out of the 3 bedroom house, so it’s time for him to downsize.  She has spent the last month working on it on the weekends – painting the inside (every room), adding a half bath, replacing blinds, clearing out the garage – and then took last week off work to paint the exterior.  It was forecast to be sunny and dry for 5 days so she had to go for it!  I took off Friday and also spent all day Saturday painting.  Wow, am I out of shape!  I could feel all of that ladder work!

Garden?

Garlic.  Planted late last summer.  Thriving.  But, that’s all I’ve got.  Oh, and herbs.  But that’s all.  Haven’t even weeded yet.  Bad gardener!

Summer plans?

Trailer camping with our friends.  Fun!  Ft Stevens State Park – We haven’t camped there before.  It’s beside the Pacific, at the mouth of the mighty Columbia.  Putting along in the vintage truck and trailer combo, it’ll only take a couple of hours, at most, to get there.  Maybe an hour and a half.  Close.  I hope I get some smoked tuna!!!  OH. MY. GOOD. FOOT!!!  So delish!  We’ve got good seafood on our coast.  Have I ever mentioned the Willapa Bay oysters?  So.Good.

Ok, clearly, I am rambling now.  Time to get back to the spreadsheets.

Cheers, m’dears…

21 February 2016

One week later

It's Sunday.  T has been in Hawaii for one week.  She gets home this evening.  Here are the highlights of my week:


  • Tuesday, had dinner with a friend (pizza and champagne), and watched 'The Queen's Garden' or something like that, which she had recorded from PBS.  Interesting!

  • Wednesday, had my usual get together with my dad.  My brother was there and asked about T.  When I said that she was in Hawaii with her sister he said, 'So, your vacation too!'  Uhhh, yeah. True.

  • Thursday, my neighbor texted me and asked if I could come over when I got home from work.  Her husband's father had died (not unexpectedly) and her son's recent marriage is on shaky ground and she didn't want to be alone with her thoughts.  Of course I went over.

  • Friday, home alone!  I think I was in bed and reading by 8:45.  Lights out shortly thereafter.  

  • Saturday evening, went to a birthday party.  Saw a number of friends all in one place, and then went home early.  It was pleasant enough, but I really just wanted to be at home.

It was a busier week than I had anticipated, but not in a bad way.  I got a few minor projects done that I wanted to address, but nothing major.  My next biggish project will be converting an old wood storage closet on the basement landing into a kitchen tool storage closet.  You know, all those space eating countertop appliances that are just too big to put anywhere.  Well, we don't use firewood in the house, and this closet is deep and can be converted to hold several shelves.  All of the large, awkward, bulky stuff (crock pots, canning pots, food processor, etc) will then be stored just a few steps away.  Maybe I'll get that done this summer.

Meanwhile, I have had a very restful week, despite all of the social activity, and feel good.  Centered and calm.  This week has been a good reminder of how valuable solitude is to me.  I will keep this reminder close to me going forward.

And, just because I mentioned Spring last time, Hello Violets!  I had one tiny patch of violets burst into bloom this week.  Love them!  Still waiting for daffodils, etc, but they are coming...  Sprng is Coming!


14 February 2016

Sunday morning musing

Good morning!

I dropped T off at the airport at 8:20 this morning.  She is on her trip to Hawaii with her sister.  They will be gone for a week.  I really hope that she can spend the time resting and restoring her physical and mental self.  She is tired.  This will do her good.

So, that means that I have my house to myself for a week!  Yay!  Time for quiet and reflection, or projects that are on my list.  My time is my own.  I'm tempted to take the week off work but I'm saving my PTO for something else.  Well, I might take one day off...  plus, Monday is President's Day and I have that day off.  So, yes, some quality time home alone.

Listen, you NorthEasters, NorthCentralers, GreatLakers, GreatPlainsers (you know who you are), Spring is coming.  I know it may not seem like it right now, but it's on its way.  I promise.  We are being battered with rain but the bulb flowers are pushing through the soil and will be blooming any day now.  So, hold on.  Have hot chocolate.  Or a hot toddy.  Look out at the snow and plunging thermometer and say, 'Spring is coming.'

I'm off to go do something.  Not sure what just yet.  Might just walk around the house a bit and see what bubbles up to the top. Cheers!


04 February 2016

A Random Thursday in February

Good morning!

It’s Thursday so I thought I would dash off a quick post.  What quick posts and Thursdays have to do with each other, I don’t know.  Good thing this doesn’t have to make sense!

So, it’s pouring down rain, as usual.  I’m only mentioning that so that those of you to the east of me will know that more storms are coming.  Sorry about that.  It’s been a wet winter, that’s for sure. 

What’s going on around here, in a non-meteorological way?  Well, let’s see…

Last weekend T went to Las Vegas with her sister and mother.  I think they had a good time but it’s hard to tell because she came home very cranky.  It was the first time in a decade that their mom had been anywhere outside the local area.  The daughters felt pretty good about getting that to happen.  And then they badgered her to stop playing the slot machines and go for a walk, of all things.  Ha!  She was determined to win back all of her nickels!  As I said, I think they had a good time…

In the further travel adventures of T, she and her sister will be heading to Hawaii for a week this month.  Fun!  Her sister won a trip for two through her work and is taking her little sister.  I think that’s pretty nice.  I hope they have a wonderful time and that T doesn’t come home cranky this time.  Lol. 

So, what do I do when the partner is away?  Enjoy the quiet!  It’s a break from the tv, which I need so much.  I did go to a friend’s house on Saturday for dinner and socializing.  That was pleasant.  I also got a bunch of stuff done around the house that I’d been meaning to get to, and that was satisfying.  I’m starting to plan some things for her next trip, too.

On the work front, I’ve got 1 year, 4 months, 3 weeks and two days to go until I retire.  Woo hoo!  I won’t bore you with the work argy-bargy… suffice it to say that it’s work and it’s tiresome.

I don’t know if any of you are planning to watch the big football game this weekend.  Ordinarily I would be excited for that.  This year I dislike both teams and can’t bring myself to care.  Well, I hope that Denver wins because I really don’t like the quarterback for Carolina.  But, I’m not keen on Denver, either, so…  it’s a big ‘who cares’ for me.  I think we’ll go for a hike instead.  (Weather depending)

I feel like there’s no other good news to report.  I don’t want to start the day with negativity, so I’ll keep all of the bullshit to myself.  Have a great Thursday, everyone!