Monday, December 3, 2012

Aw c'mon - give me a freaking break...

Well, once again fate has looked me dead in the eye, flashed me a toothy grin, and flipped me the bird.

The job I alluded to in my last post is not to be. The person that contacted me about it said that there probably wouldn’t be any decisions made until December; so even though its only the 3rd, I sent an email to that person just to let them know I was still here, still excited. She responded that the powers that be have decided not to hire someone new. They are looking at the workload and determining if they will need to hire someone, or if they can just reassign the workload to another person that is already there. She said to go ahead and look elsewhere; that she seriously doubted that they were going to hire someone else.

I know I said that I wasn’t going to get my hopes up about it, but you know I did. I tried not to dream about the extra money I would be earning, and the new (to me) vehicle I would buy, and how much better off we were all going to be with the extra money coming in. I tried really hard not to be disappointed by this news, but my eyes kept welling with tears for an hour after I got the email. I texted Sissy and hoped that she wouldn’t call me because I knew I would break down and weep if I heard her voice. Fortunately, she texted me back, “Buggery buttery bollocks!!”

Indeed.

I am getting so tired of this crap. What the heck did I do in a former life to get this kind of Karma? I mean, I’m not asking to win the half billion dollar lottery, am I? I’m not asking for a job that pays six or seven figures a year. I just want a decent job with decent benefits and decent pay that doesn’t make me want to slit my wrists after being there all day. I just want to earn the money we need to keep all the utilities on at the same time, all the animals fed and in safe shelters (oh, by the way, we have four rabbits now – yep, more animals!), and for Sis and Les to be able to get their medications refilled when they run out – not two weeks after the fact. I’d like to be able to have a little money in savings for when the Rodeo wheezes its last breath – which is probably not too far in the distant future. I just turned over 199,000 miles this morning on the way to work, and I need a bumper sticker that says, “Please honk if you see parts falling off.”

I feel like everything I touch turns to crap. Then I step in it and track it through the house. You know?

One bright spot right now, and I hesitate to call it that lest I get screwed on this too, is the fact that I am going back to school in a few weeks. I am going to Centralia College for a two-year degree, “Medical Administrative Assistant”. I took my COMPASS test (college placement) on Friday and did really well; I go on the 12th for the admissions and advisory fair for help with registering for my classes. I received two Pell Grants – one each for Winter and Spring semesters. I will have to attend classes part-time since I am currently working full time, but there are on-line and night classes so I should be OK.

Well, that’s it for the time being. Hopefully some good stuff will start happening so that I’m not so negative all the time. I hate being and sounding so negative.

Surely things can only go up from here, right?

Hello?

(sounds of crickets)…

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Debbie Downer here...

Holidays are hard for me. Everywhere I look I see families getting together to celebrate, carry on or start new traditions, and overall enjoy each other’s company.

I don’t have that in my life. It makes me feel out of step, isolated, alone, and a bit of a freak.

My family does not celebrate any holidays or birthdays due to their religious beliefs. I don’t judge them for that; this country was based on religious freedom for all and this is what they believe to be the only true religion. I was raised this way since my 2nd birthday, so I don’t remember the few holidays we did celebrate, so I have never known anything different.

It was really hard for me once I started school. Before then, the only other children I knew all believed like we did and I never had any reason to question it. But once I was in school, there were all of these activities that I was not allowed to participate in. Do you realize that almost all holidays are celebrated during the school year? Columbus Day, Halloween, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas/Hanukkah, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day. It’s pretty much at least one per month. Every single time one came up, there were activities I was excluded from. Every single time I was given the third degree by my classmates and teachers alike. “How come?” they always asked. I would just shrug and say something like, “It’s against our religion.” Or, “Because my mom says I’m not allowed to.” My mom would usually meet with my teacher every year to explain the reasons why, and many of my teachers were very understanding and would find some other activity for me to do instead of the holiday themed project everyone else was doing. I hated that so much.

I don’t like to stand out in a crowd. It makes me uncomfortable. And you know your life sucks when the Jewish kids, who were often made fun of because they didn’t celebrate Christmas, made fun of you for not celebrating Christmas. When I lived in Mustang, Oklahoma, all three schools - high, middle, and elementary – combined to put on one big Christmas play. We were shuttled to the high school by bus several times a week to rehearse and practice the play. I sat out in the audience area and just watched. How I longed to be up on stage, to sing and act with the others. I could care less about what the play was for; I just wanted to participate, to belong. Also, I really loved to sing, dance, and act! I really wanted to be an entertainer of some sort when I grew up, and I ached to be on the stage, performing.

When junior high and high school rolled around, it was a bit easier although kids could be a lot more crewel with their taunts. My favorite retort about not celebrating Christmas was to ask someone how long they had to wait to get something they really wanted. Had they been drooling over it since May? I never had to wait for something I really wanted. If my parents knew that there was something I really wanted, they bought it for me. No waiting for my birthday or Christmas. I will admit, that was pretty nice.

I “drifted away” from the church in my early 20’s, once I was out on my own. It was purposeful; I meant to do it. I never really wanted to be in this, or any, religion. I was baptized when I was 16 out of fear; fear of disappointing my mother (not God) and my sister; fear of being rejected by my peers and friends in the church; fear of never being allowed to get married. I was engaged to be engaged to a young man and I loved him with all my heart. But our parents would never allow us to be married if we both were not baptized. He believed in this religion and went willingly; I thought that eventually, if I was married, I would eventually be able to accept this religion in my heart, so I went outwardly willingly, but inwardly against my will. A year and a half later he left me for a woman 16 years our senior; they have been happily married and very active in the church’s ministry for over 25 years now. My mother thinks that this is what caused the rift between me and religion; I cannot get her to accept that it was merely one more weight on the already out of balance and tipping scale.

All of my co-workers throughout the years seem to talk endlessly about their holiday plans with their families; some complain about having to travel or the enormous amount of cooking or shopping they have to do, but they all have this…this thing...this thread…in common with each other. The radio, TV, internet, blogs, craft sites, magazines, super markets, department stores – you can’t get away from the holidays; there is nowhere to go that isn’t saturated in decorations, sales, recipes, seasonal foods, music, etc.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t feel offended by the holidays; I feel…envious. Not of the gifts, or what the holidays are actually celebrating (or think they are celebrating), but the traditions, the belonging.

I also don’t blame my religious upbringing or the religion itself. I blame myself for not standing up for myself at an earlier age; making my mother understand that this just was not for me. My father was raised as a child in the same religion (by sheer coincidence) but never committed to it and was not involved in it as I was growing up. I was often pouty because I wanted to stay home with Dad instead of going to church. When I was about 12 or so and really chafing under my mother’s religious constraint, I vowed that when I turned 16 that I would stand up to her and I knew that my father would have my back about my freedom to make my own choice in the matter. That was snuffed out, however, by my father’s untimely death from an aggressive cancer two weeks after my 14th birthday. I tried throwing myself into the religion, hoping it would be like an arranged marriage and that I would soon come to accept it and love it like I saw others doing all around me. But my heart seems to remain like a stone, non-absorbent.

I feel like a little wooden rowboat without oars, adrift in a harbor filled with party boats. No one sees me. No one hears me. I am unnoticed and doomed to be torn asunder by a speeding pleasure craft.

Happy holidays.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I moved away from Montana for this?

I just don’t know what to do. I am so unhappy at home but I don’t have anywhere else to go. I want to be with Sissy, but I never get to see her anymore. Mom’s car died a couple of months ago and she cannot afford to get it fixed or to buy another one. Her hours at work were cut to just three full days and half of Saturday each week. One of the guys at the company, who will tell anyone within earshot what a "fine Christian" he is, was giving her rides to and from work every day since they worked the same schedule and he has to drive right past her place. Mom gave him $20 a week for gas. After a couple of weeks he decided he didn’t want to do it anymore, so he quit helping her. Bastard. No one else will help her out even though there are at least two other people that could, and everyone knows that she has no other way to get to work (public transport is no aid in this situation). So, since Sis has been going down on Thursday nights in preparation for her weekend job down there, she has been taking her to work on Friday, Saturday, and Monday mornings, and picking her up from work in the evenings (Mom is supposed to work on Wednesdays, but has no way to get to work that day). Since Sis has to pick Mom up on Monday evenings, she doesn’t start for home until after 6pm; most of the time she winds up spending Monday night as well and then not getting home until Tuesday evening. I leave the house at 6am and don’t get home until 5:30-6pm, depending on whether or not I need to run a few errands or not. I go to bed between 8-9pm because I have to get up so early. So, I get to see her 3-4 nights a week for 2-3 hours each evening, if I’m lucky. We never get to do anything together, we don’t get to talk or watch movies because Les is always planted in the recliner watching whatever he wants on NetFlix.

It is so incredibly frustrating. She is the main reason why I moved back out here and I never get to see her anymore. She is also very frustrated by it and feels like she is just visiting in her own home.

I hate living with Les and Jim; Les is just an ill-mannered 4 year old living in an old man’s body, and Jim is just an asshole. Les throws temper tantrums if things don’t go exactly his way – and this would include being able to take a pan out of the cupboard without other pans getting in his way or trying to find the bottle of mustard in the fridge – yells at the dogs for barking 80,000 times a day (which they do constantly because they are DOGS), stomps around swearing and being generally pissy on a regular basis for no reason that he can tell you. Jim never takes a shower or washes his hands and he is FILTHY all the time. The end of the couch that he sits on is pretty much ruined – three shades darker than the rest of the couch from his clothes and hands. He pees into an old gallon milk jug in his room instead of getting up to use the bathroom like a normal person in the night or morning; when he poops he plugs up the toilet about 85% of the time. He is also the world’s expert on every freaking thing under the sun and will contradict everything you say just for sport. He always has some smartass remark to make, even if it’s just a response to me asking him to pass the salt at the dinner table. Les constantly feeds the dogs from the table then yells at them for begging or from having the runs all over the house because he gave them a bowl of chili “to share”. He usually leaves the crap for me to clean up when I get home from work because he has been “cleaning up shit all day and I’m tired of it.” I keep explaining to him that when he feeds them crap from the table, ESPECIALLY stuff like CHILI, they are going to poop. A lot. And if he doesn’t get up out of the chair to let them outside more than once every six hours, then they are going to poop a lot in the house. It’s not rocket science. Jim has a tendency to eat everything he can get his hands on. If there is something that you buy from the store and you want to be sure you get at least one serving of it, you have to hide it. If it’s in his line of sight, it’s fair game. And that is fine; but he will eat ALL of it and never consider the fact that perhaps someone else may want some of it as well. Case in point: the other day he ate an ENTIRE jar of marinated mushrooms from Costco. Now, remember, this is a Costco-sized jar – probably 80oz or so. To be fair, he didn’t eat them all in one sitting; he ate ¾ of the jar in one sitting and the rest of it the next day before anyone could even try to get any. I have started Weight Watchers and have to hide all non-perishable foods in my room – including cans of tuna fish – to keep the guys out of them. I have one drawer in the back fridge in the washroom for my perishable foods, and I have to keep reminding them to please leave that for me. When I tell them it’s for my “special diet”, they are pretty good about it. Mom made up a few little laminated signs that say “This food is for Heather’s diet lunches for work. Please don’t eat it.” I haven’t used them, but I will if I have to.

This is why I haven’t been blogging lately. I feel like everything I have to say is negative and whiney. I am really unhappy but I don’t have anyone I can talk to about it. I talk to my mom about it a little bit, but I have to be careful because sometimes what I say gets back to Sissy, and I don’t want to hurt her feelings. A few months ago Sis and I were driving to the store and she literally begged me to promise her that I would never leave her. She grabbed my arm so hard that I nearly steered the Rodeo into a ditch, and said, “Promise me you won’t ever leave me.” How do I say “no” to that? She is also quite unhappy but can’t really change anything either. Les is 75 years old and is not going to change. He is very controlling and punishes her for being away from home even though he knows that she must work because he cannot. He gets so upset when she stays over on Monday nights instead of coming home.  It’s killing me to watch her slide further and further into insecurity because of the way he treats her. When she makes dinner, she constantly asks him if it’s OK, does he like it, etc. Seriously, she will ask him this four or five times until he gets mad. Or, if he is “punishing” her, he will say something like, “Oh, it’s all right I guess.” “It’s too salty.” “There’s not enough spice in it.” “You didn’t make enough.” (this even though he can’t eat all that he put on his plate) Sometimes she makes dinner and puts it on the table and he’ll say something like, “What the hell is this crap?” It makes me want to launch myself across the table and choke the living snot out of him. When we explain what the hell the crap is, sometimes he is happy and other times he pouts. Usually, the latter if he is punishing us. If I make dinner and he says that he doesn’t want any of that crap for dinner, I tell him that’s fine and he can make his own crap for dinner. I do this in a very calm and matter of fact way, despite the fact that I really just want to throw it at him. It’s not like that all the time; they do laugh quite a bit and have a good time ripping on each other; but you can only be nasty to someone for so long before that is all you remember. When the good times come, they just aren’t as good.

We are also just so incredibly broke. I finally went back to work for Longview Fibre but I really don’t like the job. The company and the people are great, but I’m basically an over-qualified file clerk and it’s horrible. What little money I make goes to gas ($600 a month), a few groceries for my eating plan, dog food, cat food, kitty litter, goat food, hay for the goats, helping Sis with her car payment, paying the electric bill, the PO box fee, Les’ chewing tobacco (trust me, it’s hell when he is without it or thinks he might run out of it so I will pay whatever it costs to keep him supplied), any groceries we need during the week when Sis is down south, trying to keep my cell phone in service, trying to keep Mom’s cell phone in service, trying to pay the ever escalating phone/internet bill that I am always behind on and can never quite catch up, helping Sis with her IRS bill, car insurance, my storage bill, Sis’s storage bill, etc. Money is “borrowed” but never actually paid back. I can’t save anything and haven’t had a hair cut or the oil changed in the Rodeo in about nine months. The front passenger side wheel is making a horrible noise and I just know that it will sheer off from the axle while I’m on the freeway. I just have to turn the radio volume up so I can't hear the noise.  She just turned over 197,000 miles while on my work today; it’s months away from being 20 years old and if it dies, I am seriously SOL.

One possible light at the end of my tunnel is that a better job may be coming my way. I was contacted by someone I used to work with; I can’t really say anything about it as it is not really an official job within the company yet, and I won’t have any idea as to whether or not I’ll actually be considered for it until sometime in December. It would be a great job and I assured the person that contacted me about it that I am EXTREMELY ENTHUSIASTIC about it. They had me send them my resume, which they in turn submitted to the powers that are making up this new "team", along with the person's personal recommendation.  I was extremely flattered by the offer.  The downside? A two-hour, 94 mile, each way commute that will cost me approximately $900 a month in gas alone. I hope that if I get this job that I will be able to buy a different car that gets more than the Rodeo’s 15 mpg. It will probably cut my gas bill in half, but then I’ll have a car payment to make and more expensive car insurance. I am hoping to get a 2000ish VW Beetle (convertible if possible!). Or similar. Something that gets closer to 30mpg., although with my credit now in shreds I'll be lucky if they let me buy a donkey.  I’m not making any plans or getting my hopes up.

I feel trapped. Trapped by wanting to be with Sissy and trying to help her out financially and sisterly. At the same time I hate living with a house full of people that do nothing but cramp my style and piss me off. I live with them and not my sister. I have a two bedroom home worth of furniture rotting in storage that I have to pay $100 a month for. I am supporting, caring for and cleaning up after animals that are not mine and at the same time I am not allowed to bring home a pet for myself. I still live in a storage room with a bed in it, despite promises of it being cleared out (and despite the fact that Jim’s room was cleared out and decorated for him within two weeks of his moving in, with art from my house to boot!). Instead of being able to spend quality time with my sweet and wonderful sister, I have to spend all of my time with two Neanderthal knuckle draggers. I hate it. But I have nowhere else to go and even if I did have somewhere else to go, I have no way to pay for it. I moved so that I could spend more time with my family, but I still never get to see the kids. Sometimes, I feel like leaving Montana (and my good job) was a big mistake.

I’m so sorry to be like this, but I have no one to talk to. I hesitate to talk about this stuff on here because I don’t know who in my family reads my blog (probably no one) but I have no friends to vent to. Mom understands but I hate constantly whining about all of this to her; it makes it sound like I am complaining about Sis but I’m really not. It’s just so hard to hold it all in, all the time. I have quiet little cries in the bathroom at work, and sometimes I bawl my head off on the drive home. I feel like a total bitch for complaining about the fact that I have a job, a vehicle that runs (for now), a paycheck, and a family that lets me live with them when so many others have so much less. But sometimes those things just don’t equal balance, contentment and happiness, you know? It’s like looking at rich people and thinking that they must have no problems in life at all. But we all know that is not true.

Does anyone have any advice for me? Besides “shut up and be grateful”?

Cheers. Thanks a lot.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Strawberry Daiquiri Jello poke cake

I lurve this cake; it's an oldie and a goodie.  Usually these cakes are made with a white or yellow cake mix and a standard flavored Jello, like lime, lemon, strawberry, or raspberry.  I decided to go a little outside the normal box on this one.

I used a strawberry cake mix and strawberry daiquiri Jello.  It's a seasonal Jello - they usually come out with it in the summer, along with margarita and pina colada.  Did you know that they used to make a celery and a mixed vegetable flavor? 

Mmmmmm...celery....

Nope, can't do it.  I realize that these flavors were probably for those people who enjoy a savory gelatin experience, but I have to say that I am not one of them.  Ick.

Anyhoo, here is what I used to make the cake:
Basically, it's the cake mix, the oil and eggs to make the cake, and the Jello.  I didn't show you the pictures of the water, because...well, that would just be silly.  Those are fresh eggs straight from our chickens!  So cool!

Make the cake according to the directions on the box and bake.
When the cake is done, let cool for about 15 minutes, then poke holes in the cake.  I used a wooden spoon handle and it works perfectly.  Make sure the holes go all the way down into the cake.  Make the Jello according to the directions on the box.  Pour the Jello into the holes in the cake and then all over it.  (I had a picture of the holes and of me pouring the Jello over, but they seem to have disappeared very mysteriously.)

Refrigerate for several hours so that the Jello is well set.  Frost with as much Cool Whip as you can stand (we like LOTS) and serve.

This was a HUGE hit with everyone.  It is so moist and super yummy; it would make a nice dessert after spicy food, or on a hot day.  Or, you know, whenever.

I have been told that I am allowed to make this on a daily basis, and have been given carte blanche to experiment with flavors.  I want to do a lemon/lemon combo (I love lemon), and we have a pineapple cake mix that I have been dying to play with.  We have this funky weird grocery store in Chehalis called The Shop 'N Kart, in the Yard Birds mall; they have all kinds of interesting, not usually carried elsewhere kinds of stuff.  It's an odd place: a combo of grocery store; a "mall" where people sell anything from used books and VHS tapes to clothing and athletic shoes; a kind of expo area where there are large rummage sales, livestock sales, plant sales, MMA fights, you name it; an area you can rent for large parties; and even a kind of campground where you can park your RV and stay a while.  There is also a small movie theater, a barber shop, and a few other little odds and ends.  The picture below was taken in the mid 70's, but not much has changed.
New and Current Store
At the bottom left, you can see a huge, 60' tall back and yellow bird that was the mascot for, well, forever; that is until one fateful day in 1976 when it burned to the ground.  Apparently a car had an engine fire and it spread to the bird that was just freshly varnished.  Poof!  No more bird.  There is a different one now; it kinda looks like a sitting duck.  Anyhoo, the grocery store is cool because they have a lot of ethnic stuff that you can't find anywhere else, and I think that sometimes they buy out stock that is either being discontinued or something - hence the pineapple cake mix that I have never seen anywhere before ever. 

Wow, that was a long story to tell you about a cake mix, huh?  I'll be sure to let you know what I do with it.

TTFN.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Our funny little babies

I love our little doggies.  True, sometimes having five small dogs can be...urm...challenging.  Yeah, we'll go with challenging.  Like when they are all barking hysterically at the top of their lungs because - good LORD - the next door neighbor has the audacity to go out into their own yard!  But you see, it's in their line of sight, so it's their yard, their road, their airspace...you see where I'm going with this.  I go out into our yard and everything is fine, but I go out the gate - they SEE me go out the gate - but now I'm on the other side of the fence and they don't know who the heck I am and I MUST BE DESTROYEDBY BARKING!

But, mostly, they are sweet and snugly.  Sam has come so far from when we first brought him home.  Having him neutered made a HUGE difference.  Jim kept saying that it wouldn't matter, he's too old for it to change his behavior, but boy howdy was he wrong.  Sam is so much happier now!  He plays more, snuggles more, runs hysterically around the house more, is less "on guard".  Sis always called him her "little warrior" because he was always at the ready for attack.  You could see in his face his doubts about why you wanted to pet him or scratch his belly.  He had finally started to relax just a little and actually lay on his side and present his belly to you, but only about once every few days or so.  Now, you just look at him and he flops at your feet onto his back and wags his tail for all he is worth.  It makes my heart so happy!  He has even started sleeping on his back, unattended, and that is definitely a sign that he feels secure.

Sleeping with one eye open!

Mrs. Weenie is the biggest snuggler of them all.  That dog can curl herself into the tiniest and tightest of balls; it's almost like she doesn't have any bones!  Her absolute favorite spot to sleep is anywhere on Les.  Les spends a lot of time napping in the recliner, so she is usually in seventh heaven, as the following pictures will show (these pictures were taken over a 45-minute span):

Many times, it starts out like this, in the neck-roll position


But sometimes it starts out like this

Which then leads to this

And this

Which results in this

And sometimes, we even have some of this going on
Sam, Sis, Bruiser, GiGi

We love our funny little babies.

TTFN

Monday, July 2, 2012

I lurve brownies

Ah, brownies.  My first choice when it comes to plugging my sweet tooth.  Mmmmm...

I decided that I wanted to do a few food posts; I don't cook very often, so I suppose this is a way of proving that I do actually break out the measuring cups from time to time.  I also wanted to show off some of our "wanna-be farm" fresh eggs!  We have chickens and ducks that lay; we get a lot more duck than chicken eggs each day.  The duck eggs are fabulous; thick orange yolks and whites that could be used in place of super glue.  They are quite a bit larger than chicken eggs (I suppose they might be the size of Jumbo chicken eggs, or maybe just a hair larger than that) and are just a tad bit richer.  We feed them to the dogs once or twice a week.  They are excellent for their coats and skin, and they love them!  If you decide to do this with your dogs, please be sure to cook the eggs.  Raw eggs are not a good idea for dogs because an enzyme in them interferes with the absorbtion of a particular B vitamin.  Otherwise, it won't poison them or anything.  Many people do give raw eggs to their dogs, but most of the information I've found says not to.
Those are a couple of our chicken eggs.  Aren't they purdy?  This picture doesn't show it very well, but the egg on the left is actually a nice light olive green.

Anyhoo, back to the brownies.  I found this recipe on allrecipes.com; everyone said it was the best one and I tweaked it just a little.  Here are the ingredients I used (not showing the sugar or flour because, please, do you really need to see those?):


Mmmmm Mmmmm Better Brownies
Makes 1-16 brownies, depending on how much self control you have

1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp espresso powder

Get your oven heating to 350; grease a 9x9 pan (we don't have one, so I used an 8x8).

Mix the butter, sugar, and vanilla together.  Beat in the eggs.  (Note: always break your eggs one at at time into a seperate dish or bowl.  I use a liquid measuring cup.  This way if one of your eggs is yucky, you don't have to scrap your whole recipe and start over.)  Combine the rest of the ingredients in a seperate bowl and gradually stir into the egg mixture, until well blended.  Pour into your greased pan.

Lick spatula, mixing bowl, and mixer paddle clean; put brownies in the oven.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the brownie edges start to pull away from the pan.  I baked mine closer to 30 minutes since I was using a smaller pan, which makes the brownies a little thicker. 

Let cool on wire rack before cutting into squares.  Or burn yourself cutting one out of the pan if you can't wait.

Mine came out very rich and chocolately with a nice crisp edge, thin crunchy top and soft but not quite gooey center, but not very thick.  I think that is because my baking powder is old.  But, they were excellent just the same.  I could have eaten the whole pan with a gallon of milk!  But, sadly, that is why I also have a weight loss blog.  So, I just had one.  Ok, it was big, but it was just one!

TTFN.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

I'm DOING it but I'm not DIGGING it

Unemployed
  • Uninsured
    • Unmedicated
      • Unmotivated
      • Unhappy
Just wanted to say, "Thanks!" to Laurie for the nice comments on my last post; I really needed them!

I'm glad that I'm coming across as happy; the truth is that most of the time, I'm not.  But I try to see the good stuff and try not to whine; although it's getting harder and harder every damn day.  Maybe I'll address that some other day.

On the bright side, we do have more feathered friends in our little wanna-be farm: we have about 15 Buff Orpington chicklets out in the container shed, along with five little ducklets.  Jim made ingenius use of a truck bed box that was not being used to house them in until they are big enough to go outside.  Luka has been very good and very protective of them; when I go out there and pick one up and they start peeping away, she runs in to see what's wrong.  Here are a few pictures of her with them:


We just got three teen-ager ducks (which means they are about 8 weeks old) for free yesterday from some nice people on Craig's List.  Jim was bummed because he ordered some baby turkeys (turklets?) and some silkie chicklets but discovered that his checking account is over-drawn and couldn't afford to pick them up.  Fortunately, when he called the store they said that they wouldn't be in for about two more weeks, just in time for Jim to get his SS $ again.  Jim is going to have to build more coops and fences as we are about to be over-run with chickens and ducks!

Oh, and I just HAD to post these next pictures; when Jim went and got the very first chickens and brought them home, Brusier and Luka had been hanging out in my room.  One of my windows looks out directly upon the area across the driveway where the pens are, and Brusier was beside himself trying to get a look out the window.  Finally he jumped up on my desk chair to get a better look:

Luka thought that was a capital idea, and decided to do it to!  I am so glad I got a picture of it, because no one believed me without it!


Sis and Les have been down south for the past week and a half.  Les is staying with his brother in Vancouver, and Sis caught the crud from Sal and was sicker than a dog.  She was so sick that she could not come home last week, so they all just stayed down there again.  It's been quiet here without everyone!  Sis had a dream last night that Brusier wouldn't come to her because he didn't recognize her anymore.  So sad.

Since they've been gone, Mrs. Weenie and Snoopy sleep in Jim's room with him (since they are his dogs), and Brusier, GiGi and Sam sleep with me.  Actually, I should say that they allow me to sleep in the bed with them.  It's like sleeping with three toddlers in the bed - they all sleep sideways, diagonally, and every which way they can to keep me on the outside 3-1/2" of the bed without pillows.  If Sammie gets in the bed before me, I'm screwed.  Trying to shift him is like trying to shift a 500lb bag of wet cement.  But, he and I are now super snuggle buddies, and he follows me all around the house.  Where ever I am, there he is; at my feet, on my lap, or in a bed or on the floor nearby. 

This sleeping arrangement started mostly because GiGi was in heat and Sam was not neutered.  Oh, how fun those three weeks were.  Not.  Not even a little bit fun.  Seriously.  Sis had planned to get GiGi spayed right after we got her, but for some weird reason was thinking she might be pregnant.  I kept telling her that she wasn't, but Sis wanted to "wait to be sure", and then the money kept getting spent on stupid things like gas for the car, food, etc.  Then one day I noticed that after GiGi came in my room to wake me up, there were little spots of blood on my blankets.  I looked at her rear end and thought, "Ohhhh poop on a cracker.  She's in heat."  Cue my sister wigging out.  It took Sam a good week to finally notice her, and then it was like white on rice.  We could not keep that dog away from her.  Sis and I cut holes in some diapers we had left over from Monty and put those on GiGi, but it would take her all of 0.0012454785 seconds to pull, rub or chew them off.  We then used an ingenius onesie-type device that Sis made to keep Monty in his diapers, and it worked somewhat moderately not well at all.  Needless to say, I spent three weeks of keeping GiGi in her diapers and Sam out of GiGi.  If you get my drift.  One of the pluses of this was that Sam became attached to GiGi, and she thought he was pretty cute as well, so she didn't mind his attention.  It's a good thing, too, because his attentions went from, "Dang girl!  You are so dang irrisistable for some reason!  I will follow you around and stick my nose in embarrassing orifices every chance I get!" to "Dang girl!  You are so fine that no other living mammal may look in your direction without my permission lest they feel the full extent of my wrath!" to "OH GOD HELP ME!  I MUST BE TOUCHING SOME PART OF YOUR BODY WITH SOME PART OF MY BODY 24/7!!"  I managed to snap the picture below of Sam "sharing" GiGi's bed.  The word sharing is in quotes because basically she had no choice, and if he would just lie next to her instead of on top of her, then she was willing to let him do it.  Note the look on Sam's face.
When Sis is home, Brusier sleeps with her.  Luka used to sleep with me but since we got all the birds, she likes to stay outside and keep the coyotes, etc. at bay.  The other four dogs just slept in the living room because Les sleeps out there in the recliner.  But, when Sis is gone, Brusier sleeps with me.  And since Les could not be counted upon to keep Sam from getting to GiGi during the night, we decided that Sam would sleep with me too.  That lasted one night.  Sam would not stay in my bed, and just stood with his nose pressed against the door, whining and pining away for GiGi, certain that Snoopy was having his way with her.  So the next night I had GiGi come in the room with us.  That was better, but I still had a hard time keeping Sam off of her.  The next night I put a leash on Sam and that was great.  He wasn't as happy as the rest of us were, but GiGi was finally able to get some sleep, I could let Sam be close enough to her to allow him to rest his head on her side, and I could sleep for more than 2.785 minutes at a time.  We just kept this arrangement until Sam finally got snipped.  I believe that GiGi went out of heat approximately 3.5 days later, but Sam and GiGi are still good friends.  Oh, and they both still sleep with me in my room. 

But something changed for Sam; I was honestly terrified that he wouldn't want any more to do with me since I was, of course, the one to take him to the vet.  But I was gratified to see that he ran straight to me, tail high and wagging hard when Sis and I went to pick him up the next day.  He is much less aggressive, and now wants to snuggle and play with the other dogs more.  Here is a snap of Sam and Brusier sharing a bed a few days ago:
He seems to be much more relaxed and happy, which makes us more relaxed and happy.  The dogs think he as been replaced by a pod person.

6/22 was Sis and Les's 10th wedding anniversary.  Unfortunately, they spent it apart down south with Les at his brother's house, and Sis staying at Mom's trying to surpass the world record for coughing up phlem.  I wish I could have done something, anything, for them, but being completely broke makes that difficult.  So I dug out what few craft supplies I have here at the house and made them a card.  Here is the front: 
It is a 6" square gate card.  As you can see, the brown backdrop piece only shows on the left half; this is because the other half is tucked underneath the right side, and the right top edge of the sentiment panel is tucked under the bottom wings of the butterfly, keeping the card closed.  This is what it looks like when it's open:

That picture was taken on their wedding day back in 2002; I used Photoshop Elements 6.0 to age it, then framed it with a vinyl sticker.  The sticker is copper; it's hard to tell from this picture.  I think it turned out pretty nice.

Well, I'm going to try to wrap this up.  So much for blogging more often with shorter posts.  Oh well.  I'll post more pictures and stuff soon.

TTFN.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Changes...

Ooooh, I lurve the Internet!  How I have missed you so.  About two days after Les's big surgery back in December, our phone/internet bundle was turned off.  Bastards.  It's like you have to pay your bill every month or something.  What's up with that?  So, I used my tax return to turn it back on because I was going bat-crap crazy without it and so was Sis.  You don't realize how often you want to look at or look up stuff until you bloody well can't.  Going to the library to look up recipes and your bank balance SUCKS.  And having a house bound post-surgery depressed bored angry guy at home with no NetFlix is a nightmare.  Trust me on that one.
There have been changes in our lives here since Les's diagnosis in September.  He had 5 surgeries between mid-September and mid-December, and has not worked since his last day in Texas when he went to the emergency room for what we thought was a bad kidney infection back in September.  I have been working spottily, most recently for several months as a temp in the Environmental Department at Longview Fibre; 85 mile round trip every day in a vehicle that gets about 10 miles to the gallon.  $600 a month in gas.  I actually had someone ask me why I didn't buy a more fuel efficient vehicle.  Wow - why didn't I think of that?  (Did you notice the sarcasm font?  Just checking.)  After paying for gas, food for us, food for the dogs and cats, my storage unit bill, my sister's storage unit bill, the $300/mo electricity bill, kitty litter and anything else we needed, I had approximately -$50.89 left over (yes, that is a negative number).  When I asked them if they were willing to lend me the $40,000 for a used Prius, they walked away in the shame they deserved.  Unfortunately, that job ended about a month ago, and I haven't had anything since.  So, yeah.  Having no money has made a big change in our lives.  We also lost our beloved Monty after only 73 days.  Sis was completely devestated by it and still can't talk about him without crying.  But that is progress; she was openly weeping 24/7 for weeks.  We also are down three cats:  Barnes to old age (we think he was around 20-22 years old), Ethel to her kidney disease (but she lived about three years longer than the vet said she would due to Sis's spectacular capacity for love and dedication to good care), and Gus-Gus went to a new home with one of my Longview Fibre co-workers where he is so much happier. 
Barnes (left) and Gus-Gus
On the positive side, Les's best friend Jim came to live with us in late January.  I will be honest and say that I was not happy about it.  I have discovered that I am a selfish person; I want to spend my time at home with my sister, and don't even like my own brother-in-law to be home with us, let alone any of his full-of-BS loud-mouthed friends.  To make the situation more interesting, my sister used to date this guy, but he was too big of a mess in his head and had too much baggage for her to handle.  He is better now, but I still didn't like him.  It's a long story but at one time he and Les had a falling out; Jim accused him of stealing from him, lying, etc. and even managed to turn one of Les's brothers against him.  Les did not do any of the things Jim was accusing him of, and once he got on some meds to stabalize his mental status, Jim realized how badly he had hut Les and Sis.  I will hand it to them - they are better people than me.  They forgave him and now he lives here.  Jim is on Social Security and has been a huge help around here.  I have grudgingly recanted my original misgivings towards him, and we all get along pretty well.  Jim's two doxies have joined our happy little mix here.  I know, more mouths to feed, but they are little mouths.  They are Snoopy, an older black and tan, and Mrs. Weenie, a beautiful red little girl that is just over a year old.

Mrs. Weenie and Snoopy

In March we adopted Gigi, a pomerainian-chiuaua mix that is cuter than heck.  SHE'S SO FLUFFY!!  She was living with a breeder that had 15 (yep, you read that correctly) other dogs.  Gigi was well cared for as far as food and shelter goes, but she was not loved.  We love her.  When we brought her home, it took all of one hour for her to be permanently bonded to Les.  Where ever Les is, Gigi is either on him or at his feet.  She is the biggest lover and is a kissing machine.  She loves to play Greco-Roman wrestling with Mrs. Weenie.  

Our sweet Gigi


Mrs. Weenie and Gigi snuggling on the couch

A month ago, we adopted Sam (we call him Sammy), bringing our total of black and tan doxies to three.  Sam has large, deep scars on both sides of his rib cage and on his ears.  We adopted him from some people who had only had him for two months, so we don't know the story behind those scars, but it sure looks like something big had Sammy in his mouth and was meaning to eat him.  He was completely shut down and not very well potty trained, even though we think he is about four years old.  We think he has been crated for most of his life and had only been going potty on pads and newspapers, never outside.  He had no idea what toys were or how to play with them, and seemed to be distrustful of our love and compassion towards him.  He has been slowly thawing out, and now runs happily around the house, jumping into our arms to give us kisses and really enjoying life - probably for the very first time.

Sammy

Jim fenced in our front yard for us (we have five acres out here) so now we can just open the front door and let the stampede of little doggies out all at once.  No more trying to walk everyone on a leash 10 times a day for potty time!  It is FABULOUS.  When the weather is nice they stay outside almost all day; Mrs. Weenie is a sun worshiper and has a very tan tum-tum from lying on her back in the grass for hours at a time - that is when she is not barking non-stop for hours at a time.  We have bird feeders around the yard and a fantastically gorgeous array of birds.  We have some Goldfinches that look like they have been colored in with bright yellow highlighter pens.  I will try to get some good shots of them to post on here.

Along with fencing in the yard, Jim has helped Sis make one of her dreams come true.  Sis has wanted chickens for years (only God knows why).  He built a chicken coop around her flower garden on the other side of the driveway and fenced it all in.  Last weekend he went to an auction and brought home six Barred Rock chickens.  They are black and white (kinda salt and pepper) with red combs and are great egg layers.  We had been getting all the fresh eggs we could use, and then some, from Sis's good friend Joanie.  Chicken eggs of all colors, duck eggs, and goose eggs (HUGE!!).  There is a massive difference between fresh eggs from a farm and the eggs you buy at the store.  And I mean massive as in the Grand Canyon massive.  If you have never tried them, do it.  You will never want to use eggs from the store again.  Joanie and her husband are moving soon and have decided they don't want to have birds anymore, so they gave us their spectacular rooster, Elvis, and four hens.  We will also be getting her six ducks and three geese just as soon as Jim finishes building their pen next door to the chickens.  In addition, Jeremy's kids bought Sis a super cool rooster that is a cross between a Silkie and a Polish Crested.  His name is Lloyd.
Jim working on the fences


Elvis the rooster

Lloyd the rooster

On top of all of that, this weekend we are babysitting Jeremy's new baby LaMancha goat, Megatron.  Don't ask me to explain the irony Jeremy was going for with the name, just run with it, OK?  He is just the cutest thing ever!  He is kind of like a dog because he sleeps in the house - sometimes on the couch with Kaya - and loves to be held and cuddled on your lap.  The family is out of town for the three day weekend, so we are taking care of him out here until Monday.

Sis holding Megatron



Megatron, the LaMancha goat

So, that is the bare bones jist of our lives these days.  Now that I can once again access the interwebs, I will try to keep the posts shorter and closer together.

Mrs. Weenie, Snoopy, Sammy (and Bruiser flying up from behind)


TTFN.

Three Bald Eagles circling over our house


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

So…it is a smoke and mirrors thing, or what?

Sissy and I want to go into business for ourselves and we have been thinking about it for, oh…let’s see…uh, forever now. And we are making ourselves sick about it. We have so many great ideas: making jewelry, making cards, cooking goodies, opening a lunch-box style cafĂ©, buying stuff wholesale and reselling it on eBay, sewing nifty stuff-n-things, etc. ad nauseum.


How the hell do you get it started?

We get so incredibly frustrated reading these magazine articles, or hearing a story on TV, or NPR, about a person/couple/family that decides to “start their own business”. WHAM! Business is open and successful. But what they always seem to leave out is the HTH – how the hell? How the hell did they do it? It always sounds so simple; one day they were a middle-class 8-5 Monday-Friday working couple, the next thing you know they’ve chucked it all and *POOF* opened a successful business.

A few questions:

• Did you quit your job? What did you live on? Did you have a nice 401(k) that you cashed in and lived off of for six months while you got your business up and running?

• Did you have a well-off relative that conveniently decided to take a dirt nap around that time and leave you a heap of cash?

• Were you sitting on a bus one day, eyes full of tears, and the eccentric billionaire sitting next to you handed you a check and told you to go live your dream?

• Did you rob a bank? Mortgage your house to the hilt and wind up living in your car?

• Do you have the stellar credit rating now required to borrow more than $20 from your local lending institution?

• Who helped you figure out what licenses you needed and what forms to fill out and where to get them? Did you hire someone or get the info off the internet? Did you get the info from Wikipedia or from a reliable source?

• How did you get the health department to allow you to make cakes in your kitchen when it’s the same kitchen you feed your family and 5 cats and 4 dogs out of? Complete with all the hair that goes along with all of them?

• If you were still working full-time, or working part time and going to night school while raising four kids under the age of 2, where did you find the time to manufacture/procure/make your stuff that you sold?

• HOW THE HELL DID YOU DO IT? TELL ME! TELL ME DAMMIT!!!!


Erm…I mean, please would you give me some pointers on how to get my own puny enterprise off the ground without going to jail or owing the IRS my first born child?

Cheers, thanks a lot.

Do they not tell you this stuff because they don’t want you to know that they started the ball rolling on this business back in 1982 and it’s not until now that these people can talk about it without throwing up or passing blood? Is it because they don’t want you to copy them and perhaps harsh on their buzz of success? Or do they just think it’s too boring to talk about and that if you are really serious you will go out and figure it out for yourself because the information is out there and fairly easy to find as long as you don’t have the attention span and corresponding brain size of a fruit fly? Hmmm.

The phrase, “It takes money to make money” keeps rolling around in my and Sissy’s brains. And it’s true. We don’t have a cent to our name that doesn’t actually belong to someone else right now; my credit wishes it was good enough to be called “shredded and thrown to the four winds of the universe”. And with gas currently, as of the writing of this blog entry, $4.30 a gallon out here for the octane level that my Rodeo requires or it will sit on the side of the freeway with its axles folded, a petulant look on its grill, sticking its oil dipstick out a me and saying, “Nyet” (apparently my Japanese import has a masters in Russian – who knew?), life sucks. We desperately need to do something to bring in more money, but we don’t have the money to get anything off the ground. It’s that stupid loop that makes the world go freaking nuts and makes holding up a Starbucks seem like a great idea (it isn’t – so don’t).

And so I lay awake nights, great ideas for businesses swirling through my head while the knowledge that I lack the tools to get any of them off the ground eats through my stomach lining.

Sigggghhhhhh.

Spot me a tenner, will ya? I’m off to go buy lottery tickets.