Monday, December 31, 2012

The End of 2012

This is my last post of an old and miserable year. There are no words that I can write that even begin to express how glad I am to see it end. It could not even end on a happy note. Thursday I will bury another part of my life.

I will hope for a bright and happy New Year for you all.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Deadly December

My mother died today. I wish I had something to say that was meaningful and profound. I don't. I hate December. Her parents raised me and I called her mother Mama. Mama had a stroke on December 24, 1973 and died January 2, 1974. Daddy, my mother's dad, died December 10, 1990. His sister died in December. My husband, Jerry, died January 29, 2009, ten days after our anniversary. Is it any wonder that I await the Big Three holidays with absolute dread? I'd love to find something joyful in the season but it is pretty much horrible.

I am actually not feeling much of anything but a kind of depression. I recognize this for what it is and I know I'll have to be careful for a while. I will be leaving on Wednesday to go home for the funeral. They're trying to do it on Thursday but lets face it, New Years Day is not the best time to arrange a funeral.

I'm ready to adjust my calendar to eliminate December. Maybe January, too.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Let's Ban Everything!

I do not know why it is so difficult for legislators, politicians or whatever, to see that banning something never works. A negative action never creates a positive outcome.

Banning alcohol did not stop people from obtaining it and it created a whole new segment of society: organized crime on a grand scale. Interestingly, the World Health Organization reports here, Alcohol, that "The harmful use of alcohol results in 2.5 million deaths each year." The drug that was once banned and is now sold legally across the nation kills more people than guns!

Drugs are a perfect example of a "no solution problem". You can ban them but banning drug use has not stopped usage and created a second segment of society: drug cartels. Those who want them, buy them illegally and use them. There is no way to register street drugs. There is no way to identify where they came from if people won't talk. There is no way to control usage because usage is in the control of the user. Drugs are rampant in this country. According to this LA Times post 37,792 died in 2010 from illegal drug use and that was only a first estimate. The number was expected to rise.

However, according to Datablog in 2011, there was  "12,664 murders in the US. Of those, 8,583 were caused by firearms." So... should we consider much more than firearms? I mean, knives, hammers, crowbars, automobiles, drugs, oh... and axes, of course. (See Responsible Parties).

According, to the Datablog  report gun violence is trending down! And for those who want all the stats on illegal drug use here is a report that probably cost millions to prepare from dozen of agencies. National Drug Control Strategy This is a comprehensive report prepared for the President for 2012.

Banning anything as a means of control is notoriously ineffective. In the case of guns, this is ludicrous  We have the technology in place to exert control over who owns a gun. Every gun sold can be tracked to the person bought it. Licensing can be monitored with a national database if they want to do so. Criminal records should already be in a national database where they can be cross referenced with gun purchases. More than one criminal has bought a gun through regular channels. Of course, then you have to start documenting those with violent tendencies and mental disorders. This should keep most law enforcement agencies pretty busy just keeping track of the legal guns. Of course, it still won't prevent the illegal ones from finding their way into the hands of the violent criminal or insane.

So, lets ban all drugs, every conceivable weapon, vehicles that travel over the national speed limit, and all alcohol. That will definitely insure that law abiding citizens won't be able to hurt anyone. As for the criminal element... they'll do exactly what they're doing now - purchasing illegal weapons and guns and drinking and driving.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Responsible Parties

I read this article after my friend +Chris D posted it on her Facebook page: Anger as French psychiatrist is found guilty after patient hacks man to death

This post is just my thoughts on this timely subject. The article relates that a psychiatrist got a one year suspended sentence for failing to recognize her patient could be dangerous. He escaped his therapy session in hospital and while free, he murdered his grandmother's boyfriend with an ax. Not they have prosecuted the doctor for failing to recognize the danger. I'm not sure she didn't recognize the danger but she is responsible for what happened?  I'm not convinced of that.

One of two things will happen once you start prosecuting people for "not recognizing the danger" a mentally disturbed person presents to others. First, a lot of people, mostly harmless people, will be brought before a panel of mental health professionals who will be terrified to get it wrong. That alone is scary.

Second, the truly dangerous won't be able to find medical help anywhere and their families will be held accountable and fined because doctors will be too afraid they will be sent to jail for a misdiagnosis or for not recognizing a danger. Mental health care is already in a sad state.

A third scenario could come about if wisdom prevails... apparently several other doctors actually recognized that the situation was so serious with this patient they "suggested" she give the patient to someone else. She refused. Note, doesn't it sound as if a "team" was involved in his treatment and that his behavior had escalated? Why wouldn't a team force this doctor to remand her patient to a more secure institution under someone else's care? When other doctors were aware that the situation was dangerous or the patient was not being helped why are they not also questioned or even charged? He was known to be dangerous by everyone!

For days I've read articles suggesting that Adam Lanza's mother did nothing to protect society. Immediately people began to lay blame on the mother. Why didn't she ask for help? Why didn't she do something? Why did she have guns? It must be her fault he killed all those people, right? A recent article suggested she had begun to take steps to have him committed and this may have been what sent him over the edge. But how do we know she hadn't tried to handle things in some way?

I can't begin to know what this woman was living with for years but based on what is now known, she's handled it alone for a long time, growing more and more frightened of what was happening to her child. The most recent months must have been a boiling cauldron of fear in her home. If reports are true, she had begun steps to have him committed. She had reached her limit. How sad it came too late and her head was blown off before she could get the help she needed.

As a parent, I don't think any of us want to believe we have insane children. But this isn't the first time children have harmed parents. It is the first time they managed to harm the parent and nearly two dozen others. She should have asked for help? Really? From whom? Does the public really know how difficult getting help for this sort of thing is? Obviously, not.

A few decades ago some political know-nothings dumped mental patients on the streets to fend for themselves. Funding, you know, and there was adequate help out there without having to institutionalize folks who could dress themselves and wipe their own bottom. Never mind that most of the time many of these institutionalized patients didn't know their own names or what planet they were on. They became the homeless, rooting around in garbage cans and sleeping where they could find a warm cardboard box.And the processes of getting help for new cases... unbelievably difficult.  The process of getting someone committed is nearly impossible. For good reasons and bad ones.

The Adam Lanza's of the world are capable of coherent, even highly intelligent activity. The majority of people who knew him appear to have never seen a violent action or more than a passing weirdness. Are they to blame for this tragedy because they failed to recognize that he was a danger? No. Is anyone capable of identifying psychopaths? No. And we don't really know what Adam Lanza was suffering from, at this point. There is no diagnosis.

I suspect there are many more of these children out there. There are many more of these mothers and fathers out there. What do you really think is going to happen when they try to get help?

The doctor in France made the wrong decision probably in the belief that she could help. She's responsible for not recognizing her limitations.

Adam Lanza's mother is probably guilty of being a mother who loved her son and simply could not believe he'd ever hurt anyone...until it was too late. Had Adam not killed his own mother, would we crucify her for his actions? I believe we would.

Blaming others is a coping mechanism for people who don't know what else to do. I do not think other people are responsible for an insane person's actions. I do think we should take steps to protect ourselves and others but I know that generally, it is a waste of time. Ask anyone who has been harassed by a disturbed person living next door how difficult it is to get help to stop it. Adam Lanza is a murderer. His mother is one of his victims and I suspect she was a victim for a long time before he killed her.

The problem here is not guns. The problem here is we can't know who will go on a rampage and murder our children. Instead of spending millions enforcing a ban on owning guns,why can't we spend millions finding way to prevent another massacre at the hands of people like Lanza? He isn't the first to do this. Find ways to actually help families of the mentally ill rather than closing doors in their faces, tying them up with years of red tape, and making them out to be the monsters.

Evil will always find a way. Please note that the mental patient in France used an axe to murder his victim. Evil will use any means necessary to kill, steal, and destroy society. Our job is to find ways to combat evil.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Reaching The Pinnacle

Tuesday, second day of the work week when we look with relish at a past Monday and longing toward an approaching weekend. I basically envision myself climbing this steep cliff, hands bloodied, nails broken, gasping for breath and stretching to grasp the pinnacle of Wednesday and drag myself over the top so I can roll down the gentle, grassy slope to Friday evening.

I'm contemplating how on earth I can skip Wednesday and just get right to that slope.

Whatever. Week is not half done but I am.

I noticed the ticker at the bottom says I've topped 20,000. What? No trumpets? No parade? No ticker tape? No balloons, streamers, or cheers? Well.

Still, I like seeing stats. One thing I noticed right away was that my post from 2008 "A Little Bit of Gun History" had hits. This may seem random but if it does you live in a cave. I actually didn't remember writing it and had to do read it. I found it interesting but then questioned my sources. Really.

It has been a horrendous week for the people of Connecticut. And probably for most of the nation. I've avoided all news but a minimum number of articles reporting it. I'm not watching videos, tributes, and reading interviews with survivors. I have a six year old grand-daughter. I can't be dragged into the hell these parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and siblings are living. I simply can't. I see a shinning, smiling face with sparkling eyes of a bubbling little girl that holds my heart in her hands. I am totally incapable of dealing with this horror because her face is superimposed at every mention of this horrible disaster. The promise of Christmas has been obliterated for the survivors and there is no fixing it. I can only pray for them, pray for us all.

I still have no tree up. No decorations, either. I moved things around over the weekend with the help of my sons. We put the freezer in the garage. I am amazed at how much of a relief that was! I need it but it is such a nuisance to have in the house. I still have to clean out a closet for David. I'm planning on doing that this week. Unfortunately, the events of the weekend left me almost completely unable to move on Sunday. I pushed hard Thursday through Saturday to get this done, not stopping for much of anything. The price was pain that is not on any scale. I could barely walk at all Sunday and movement of any kind was misery. 

I bought stuff for our Christmas dinner. Thankfully, I have the weekend to prepare so it shouldn't be such a rush. I have to put up any decorations soon or I might as well not bother.

May I be perfectly honest? I really, really, really do not like holidays anymore. Truly. Even though I enjoy Sarah's excitement and pleasure I truly find them unbearably painful and tedious. I don't have anything to celebrate. I'm thankful for my family and my home and my job every day of the year but the memories I have of holidays are all bad and getting through November to February is just very hard.  

We don't even bother much with gifts anymore. I mean, I usually give the boys their gift in the form of money weeks before the holiday, at their request. They buy what they want. No one but my aunt generally buys me anything, maybe my sister who lives here, but other than that, I don't unwrap a thing. There is no one special for me to buy for but Sarah and I do that all the time anyway. So, in essence I'm putting myself through a grinder for nothing. It is very disheartening when all the things that sparkled and shone in your life is pretty much tarnished and rusted out and you no longer feel important to anyone. 

And with that, I'll stop. I have an hour to get my work done. It isn't enough. But tomorrow I will reach that pinnacle, Wednesday. I'll bandage the hands and drift down the hill... one hopes, to the weekend when I'll be off four days, work one and be off another four days. For that, I am truly thankful.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Playing Possum... Not Really

I've had a few comments about my last blog  and my run in with a dead possum. The photo you see on the left is the animal in question. Americans will know this animal best as they are fairly common road kill and the Beverly Hillbillies frequently ate it. Yes, you can eat that thing.

Possums are marsupials. Yes, just like kangaroos. No, as far as I know they do not hop. They tend to be nocturnal in nature but I have seen them in the day time. I grew up seeing these critters... alive and dead. They are ugly and nasty dispositioned creatures with very sharp teeth. I've never seen it but they tell me when frightened they will fall over and play dead, thus we get the quaint euphemism "Play possum".

 Here's a charming fellow obviously not playing dead.

Imagine coming upon such a creature in your yard, in the dark. Yes. Well, the one I came upon was only a shell of itself as the maggots were turning to flies already. The fur had retained its shape, right down to eye holes because it was in a corner and well sheltered by some blocks. So when I bent down, I just saw something staring.. sort of . And I wasn't expecting him in my garage.

This was one possum who wasn't playing dead.

I know I brought joy to my son by the event and I suspect some of you have been highly entertained by the blog post.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

It's A Plan

The middle of the week has arrived and I'm in a dark place. I've been trying to figure out when life became such a chore.

That was the start to a blog yesterday that I was unable to finish. Today, I'm better, thanks to some praying friends. Life is still a chore but the well hasn't run dry. Of course, those that know me know it will break down just as I need a bucket full.

I took off today at noon and I will take off tomorrow at noon. I have to do some things to get my house in order. I can't even put up decorations because of all the stuff piled in the dinning room. I want the dinning room organized so I can have Christmas dinner with my family. I don't want to be sitting around the living room with paper plates.

Mike and I spent the afternoon cleaning out the garage... for about the sixth time in four years. I feel better when I do that. Yes, I know its weird. It looks a lot better. Not that it is sorted out, it will be easier for David, as well since his work gear will be in one spot. I need to get my garage door lock repaired. It works but it has a pin missing that makes it hard to lock.

I also have a couple of other chores to do and I think getting them done will make me feel better. However, the efforts in the garage, that took about three hours, is now beginning to be felt. I'm aching in my neck and shoulders and back. I'm going for a hot shower now and then some supper. I will work half a day tomorrow also and I am hoping to get my dining table after lunch and get everything decorated this weekend.

Oh... must tell this. We had to wear mask to clean the garage. There were mouse droppings everywhere. They had been in the bird seed that I forgot we had and I'm guessing they're well fed. Well, for days we have been smelling something in the garage. Dave said something was dead. I told him it was the mower. He will often leave the grass bag on the mower full and when the grass rots it stinks terribly. I've emptied it more than once and nearly fainted from the rotten grass smell. Anyway, I was cleaning out the corner where we have a lot of left over lumber from the remodel and I was sweeping out a pile of leaves... I thought. But they wouldn't come out. I leaned over.... and screamed and ran.

A opossum was staring at me. He didn't come out and I realized that the source of our smell was a dead animal! I knew that something was getting in the garage through an opening where we had removed a door and covered over it. We had it blocked with a piece of lumber but not enough to stop wildlife. I had caught a stray cat sleeping on top of the grass bag of the mower and told Mike to put up another board outside until I can block up that hole. He did... weeks ago. Mr. O'Possum paid the price for B&E.

Mike said he wished he'd had a video camera. Mean old boy.

So the garage is sorted and cleaner. Needs a good hosing down but we'll think about that this summer.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

At the Top of the Hill

Sunday is generally accepted to be the first day of the week. Really, look at the calender. I'm good with that. It is a good way to start the week. For me it is church and time to do absolutely nothing. That's what I've done today. I've lain around all afternoon with my hair piled high.

Sarah has been here since Friday. When she's in the house it is fairly chaotic because she must, at all times, be the center of attention. This is one of the hazards of being an only child. Still, she's a relatively sweet child.  Anyway, after church she announced she was going to my sister, Phyllis' house. So, we vassals have had a little break from the Princess.

I start my week very much behind in the work. The last two weeks have simply made it impossible to stay ahead or even keep up. There are some things I have to get done and I am hoping that there will be fewer stresses this week.

However, one kind of figures that if Sunday is the top of the hill, the rest of the week is all down hill. That's not an auspicious start.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Waiting for the Warming

My Dream Room
The house is warm and I wish I could just stay here and curl up with my warm throw and nap. The temperature gauge on my desktop says it is 36 degrees outside.

I'm waiting on a repairman to arrive to give me an estimate to have the gas log I bought connected in my den. They were supposed to contact me at 7:30 a.m. to tell me when they'd arrive. It is 7:51 a.m. and I've not heard a word. I thought they'd be done before eight and I could go to work without missing much. Probably not going to happen and I'm annoyed. I've been trying for two weeks to get someone to give me a repair estimate!

Most of you know that the last couple of weeks have been very stressful and I wish I could say I've been stoic through all of it. My pain escalated to fairly awful proportions and by the time I got that under control other stresses had multiplied and I was in a pretty bad way.

I started Monday... well, you can read the blog. I did make an attempt, really. I've managed to get through most of this week without a total meltdown or going off the deep end. You pick the analogy and it'll probably be just as good as mine. Anyway, Tuesday I plodded along finding some revelatory thoughts along the way. And I kept trying to keep my eyes on something besides the problems. Admittedly, I found few things that weren't a problem but I was able to find small blessings that usually go unnoticed and unlauded.

So, my goal is to continue looking at the seemingly mundane and small things I often overlook. Today I'm nearly done with the week and for this I am so thankful. My pain levels have fallen considerably. Maybe leaving off the medicine for a month reset my system. Maybe I was in a flare. Maybe, maybe, maybe. I don't care. I'm thankful pain is at a two today.

Sarah spent the night last night and Dave took her to school this morning. She would not go to bed so we were all a bit tired. Becca has some kind of bug and so she thought it would be better if David kept her. I always feel better when Sarah is in the house and I'm always so thankful when that happens.

I'm thankful I have a job and can pay the bills. I don't know what I'd do otherwise. I'm thankful for a bunch of online friends who stop by or email me when life is hard and give me sympathy, virtual hugs and encouragement. The sympathy lets me know they understand, but the hugs and encouragement serve to remind me that I should keep going and look up. It isn't easy.

I'm thankful see my son smiling and laughing and acting like himself. How is it that we can't see other people's unhappiness when it is staring us in the face? I'm not thankful his wife divorced him. I am not thankful others are wounded. I know the pain of permanent loss. I'm thankful that both of them are still here. When people divorce they often say things like, "I'm sorry we ever met." I'm not sorry. Had they not met I would not have two very important people in my life, particularly at at time when my life was as dark as a tomb. I'm very thankful these two people met and gave me Sarah. And I'll be always sorry that they could not make it work.

It is now half past 8 and still no call. I think I'm going to go to work and call another company. It is so annoying but the den is an icebox in winter and I have some things I want to do in there. Once the heater is connected it will only take minutes to warm up. At the moment... I have to wait.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Best Laid Plans

I did really try to make Monday a positive day. I started out thinking it would be better and I actually felt better until later this afternoon.

I'm generally a caring person and I tend to want to help people. I'm a sap for a good sob story and I usually take people at face value. That has never done me a single moment of good. I am the one who ends up with a metaphorical black eye while the other fella walks away with a smirk on their face because I was a schmuck.

I think I've finally learned a lesson that I believe God has been trying to teach me for a long time. Sometimes, no matter how much you love someone or care about them, if they don't want to be loved or cared about, nothing you can do will help them and it will never be enough in their eyes or it will never be what they want. The best you can do is throw in the towel and turn them over to whatever fate awaits them. These are the truly hopeless.

Every journey we take has a purpose and a point. Some of us recognize it right away while others take a bit longer. I do not believe in randomness or chance meetings. There is an ultimate destination and every person you encounter along the way means something to your journey. Perhaps the person will only have a slight impact on you but it matters. That person you bumped into as you left the store may have delayed you just seconds but that delay was important for some reason, for you or them. That person had some impact for some purpose you don't see. The detour you had to take prevented a delay that could have cost you or someone else something serious or took you on a route where you avoided a disaster.

My own experiences have proven this to me repeatedly. I know that in my case, there have been people placed in my path that were profoundly important that they be there. Many times I actually examine how every person I know has affected my life. It always surprises me. Some people I've run into, not because I was supposed to meet them, but because they were supposed to meet me. There is a subtle but profound difference in the two situations. I've had a couple of times in my life with I clearly knew I had been put in someone's path to be there for them, not for myself, but for them.

I believe God positions people in opportune places and times. That, just as he steers the stars, so too he steers our lives as much as we will let him. And he will go to great lengths to bring out the good in our life that he intended. But there are those, who no matter how much good comes their way, no matter how many good people reach out, no matter how many open doors they happen on, no matter how many sunny paths are laid at their feet... they will always choose something else. They will always take the path that looks easiest but which deprives them of something of value. And when failure comes, they will always place the blame on others.

 I do not understand it but I am at a place where I'm trying to accept it. I do not accept defeat easily. Those who know me know I do not give up on people I think are of value, in whom I see some potential good. But I'm there. I finally am at a place where I realize some people, by their own will, are not worth the effort it takes to help them.

 There is an old saying, "God helps them who help themselves." As my Mama used to say, it isn't in the Bible but it ought to be.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Do Over

As you know, I hate Mondays. They are the worst day of the week. Today I'm taking a slightly new tack. I get the chance to start over and try again. My weekend was fairly insane, as weekends go, and I was so miserable with pain yesterday that it felt as if I didn't have any time off at all. So, today I start a new work week in a new month and we'll see how it goes.

My pain level today is tolerable. Meaning, I have some mobility issues but if I sit very still I don't notice what hurts. I hate having to evaluate my pain levels.

"What level would you say your pain is today, Miss M?" 
"Oh, well, maybe a 5?"

I don't know what level it is! I don't know how high it can go but sometimes a 10 just doesn't seem like a accurate value. Sunday a 10 would have been lovely. Today, I'm giving it a 5 and hoping that the trend is declining.

It is currently 61 degrees and I heard it was supposed to get up to 71. Actually, I read it on the site. Um... this is December. Wait.... I'll take it. Heat helps and 71 sounds pretty good. Only, the sweater I have on might not be the best choice for today.

I'm off to the mines, now. Maybe I can have a better week this week.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


Sunday afternoon. I usually have a quiet afternoon with no company but David moved in this weekend. The divorce was final this past week and he had to move out. I spent Saturday afternoon and evening moving  furniture around, switching the study to the smaller room so he'd have a bigger room. The desk is huge and takes two people to disassemble, move, and reassemble. Then I had to reconnect all the electronics: computer, printers, modem, router, phone. I had problems with the internet on the desktop but the laptop worked fine so I don't know what caused it. It took a few hours for it to correct itself. Needless to say, today I'm in a very bad state. I think the weather may be partly responsible. It rained sometime during the night.

It was after midnight before I went to bed. This was because Sarah wanted to go "home". Sarah is with us this weekend as it is his weekend. She goes home tonight. It was difficult because she simply refused to go to bed. Normally, it isn't a problem but she no longer has her own room so it made it hard for her to know what to do. I'm going to have to do some additional shifting. I'm thinking the study will go back to the den/dining room. It was there, once, long ago before both the boys were grown. I liked it then. I'd like it again but I also want to be able to sew back there. At the moment, it looks like a Goodwill collection point. Of course he says he'll be getting his own place in a few months. I don't know. This job is a temp job and he as no idea what he'll do next.

So, this Sunday afternoon has been loud with cartoons, drums, and Sarah running all over asking questions, cooking a birthday lunch for Spot, and just being Sarah. I'm exhausted and in desperate need of a lie down.

David seems more his old self. I didn't really know why David became distant and cool to everyone. I'm still not really clear on what happened. Family members often commented on this fact but I didn't really see it. I do now. It is confusing. I'm not happy with the divorce. I'm glad he's more like my David but to me, divorce is a failure and not something to gloat about. I care very much about my daughter-in-law and I see a little girl who wants to go home to her "family" and can't. Ever. I see two people who got along well, who liked doing the same kind of things. I see a family forever changed. I see the ripples of a stone dropped in the lake.

Oh, I suppose many will say I am over reacting or I'm being overly dramatic about it. You go on. I'm a child of divorce. I never knew my father after the age of five and I have no memories save that of his leaving. I remember that day in high definition. It is always with me, just beneath the surface of other memories. I'm probably the only person left alive who remembers that day. Of course, David isn't going anywhere. Her mother isn't going anywhere. Her parents didn't marry just to insure legitimacy. They loved each other and they adore their child. Children don't know or care about these things. They only know who they love. But the effects of divorce are always there.